North

After election, Yukon boasts Canada's 2nd-highest proportion of female MLAs

'We’re pretty excited, because we made history last night in the Yukon,' said Veronique Herry of Equal Voice Yukon.

7 women won seats in Monday's territorial election, up from 6 in 2011

Jeanie Dendys, Pauline Frost and Tracy McPhee won their races in Monday's Yukon election, and will now be part of the governing Liberal Party caucus. (CBC)

Yukon's next legislative assembly will not just have a whole lot more Liberals, it will also have more female MLAs than before the election.

26 of the 63 candidates that ran in Monday's election were women, and seven of them won seats. Before the election, there were six female MLAs in the territory.

"We're pretty excited because we made history last night in the Yukon," said Veronique Herry of Equal Voice Yukon, a non-partisan organization that works to encourage more women to enter politics. She says it's the highest proportion of women ever elected to the Yukon legislature.

Veronique Herry of Equal Voice Yukon calls Monday's election results 'a step in the right direction', toward gender parity in Yukon politics. (CBC)

The seven MLAs represent 36.8 per cent of the legislature's 19 seats, meaning Yukon is now second only to B.C. when it comes to the proportion of seats held by women (where it's 37.6 per cent).

Herry said it was encouraging to see more women run this year (17 women ran in the 2011 Yukon election), and to see the results. 

"Seeing that actually translate in the seats is really exciting because traditionally, across Canada and in the Yukon, whenever there's been progress made for seats, usually the next election there's a lot of steps taken back," she said.

MLAs from all 3 parties

Several ridings had more women than men on the ballot, and one riding (Takhini-Kopper King) had three women candidates and no men.  

Geraldine Van Bibber and Patti McLeod are now the Yukon Party's only female MLAs. (CBC)

The elected female MLAs are almost evenly divided between the three parties — with Jeanie Dendys (Mountainview), Tracy McPhee (Riverdale South) and Pauline Frost (Vuntut Gwitchin) part of the Liberal caucus, Patti McLeod (Watson Lake) and Geraldine Van Bibber (Porter Creek North) with the Yukon Party, and Liz Hanson (Whitehorse Centre) and Kate White (Takhini-Kopper King) representing the NDP.

Hanson and White were the only NDP candidates elected, meaning their party will now have only women MLAs.

Herry said there's still progress to be made, though.

"To keep moving the dial forward, I think we just need to have great candidates keep moving forward, and I think we just need to keep dismantling the barriers women typically face in politics."

She says those barriers include difficulty in accessing funds to run a campaign, and "how we talk about women... about what they look like and how they sound, which tends to be an issue, even in the Yukon."

Liz Hanson and Kate White are now the Yukon NDP's only MLAs. (CBC)

More First Nations MLAs elected

Yukon will also have one additional Indigenous member in the new legislative assembly.

Before dissolution, there were two First Nations MLAs — the NDP's Kevin Barr in Mount Lorne-Southern Lakes, and Yukon Party's Darius Elias in Vuntut Gwitchin — but they both lost their seats in Monday's election.

Three other Indigenous MLAs were elected, however, and all are women — Liberals Jeanie Dendys and Pauline Frost, and the Yukon Party's Geraldine Van Bibber.

With files from Cheryl Kawaja and Leonard Linklater

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