North·YUKON VOTES 2021

Yukon NDP win final riding by rare drawing of lots, maintaining Liberal, Yukon Party tie in assembly

The Yukon NDP’s Annie Blake won a draw for the riding of Vuntut Gwitchin, leaving the incumbent Liberals tied with the Yukon Party for the most seats in the assembly.

Liberal leader issues statement before draw saying he will form government regardless of result

Annie Blake of the NDP will be the next MLA for Yukon's Vuntut Gwitchin riding, after a tie on voting day led to a rare drawing of lots on Monday. She defeated Liberal candidate Pauline Frost. (Yukon NDP)

In a rare move, an MLA candidate won a territorial riding in Yukon after her name was picked out of a box on Monday.

Yukon NDP candidate Annie Blake became MLA-elect of Vuntut Gwitchin a week after she and incumbent Yukon Liberal Party candidate Pauline Frost tied in the general election, with 78 votes each.

Vuntut Gwitchin, which includes the community of Old Crow, is the territory's northernmost riding and the smallest by population.

Yukon election law requires that any riding that is tied or decided by fewer than 10 votes go to a judicial recount. If a recount confirms a tie, the winning candidate is chosen by drawing lots.

Blake's win maintains another tie, keeping the Liberals and the Yukon Party at eight seats each in the Yukon Legislative Assembly — both two short of a majority.

With three seats now, the NDP had a net gain of one.

Speaking to reporters outside the Yukon courthouse after the draw on Monday, Blake said she had "learned a new level of stress."

"I feel that the democratic process has been followed, and I think it's timely that we just give ourselves space to start moving forward as a community," she said, standing alongside her husband and daughter.

"I feel overwhelmed and a bit lost for words right now. But I've also just took a moment to thank my ancestors, those that have come before me and broke the trail for our people to be able to hold a seat in government — and I think that path has been well broken."

Blake also thanked Frost for her work as MLA before the election.

Frost's loss is a blow to the Liberals in more ways than one — she held some major portfolios in the government before the election, including Health and Social Services, Environment and Yukon Housing.

Also speaking to reporters outside the Yukon courthouse, Frost said she wasn't disappointed by the outcome.

"You define a winner by what you've done," she said.

"I see myself as a winner, I see myself as coming out on top, because I've accomplished one heck of a lot in the last four and a half years. I'm extremely proud of that."

Liberal Leader Sandy Silver said before the draw on Monday that he intended to form Yukon's next government and swear in a new cabinet, no matter the result in Vuntut Gwitchin.

Convention holds that the sitting premier be given the first shot at forming a government if two parties have the same number of seats.

In a statement on Monday morning, the Liberal leader said he spoke with the territory's commissioner and informed her of his intention to form the next government and to demonstrate that he is "able to gain the confidence of the Legislative Assembly."

The ballot drawn from a box on Monday afternoon, determining Blake as the winner in the Vuntut Gwitchin riding. (Steve Silva/CBC)

Silver was hoping to secure a second term leading a Liberal majority government after last week's general election, but he fell short. 

Silver said he will speak to Yukon Party Leader Currie Dixon and NDP Leader Kate White "in the coming days."

"The objective of those discussions is to find a way forward that will ensure confidence and supply is achieved in the assembly," his statement reads, referring to a system where opposition parties support legislation on a case-by-case basis rather than in a formal coalition. 

Silver said he would swear in a cabinet "shortly," and deliver a speech from the throne and "one or more" budget bills to test the confidence of the assembly.

No date has yet been set for the assembly to reconvene.

Liberal Leader Sandy Silver said he notified Yukon's commissioner of his intention 'to form the next government.' (Chris Windeyer/CBC)

With files from Steve Silva