Yukon Party leads in pre-election poll

Yukoners have put the governing Yukon Party in the lead ahead of this fall's territorial election, but the NDP is making gains, according to a poll released by a local polling firm.

Yukoners have put the governing Yukon Party in the lead ahead of this fall's territorial election, but the NDP is making gains, according to a poll released by a local polling firm.

Results of the DataPath Systems poll, released Wednesday, has pegged support for the Yukon Party at 40 per cent, up from 22 per cent in July 2010.

DataPath partner Donna Larsen said the Yukon Party has steadily gained support under the leadership of Darrell Pasloski, who took over as party leader and premier from Dennis Fentie this past spring.

"I think it played a role in it, for sure. We were doing our [last] poll right in April, when it was originally announced, and that was the biggest increase for the Yukon Party," Larsen told CBC News.

"Then it increased again almost by the same amount in this poll, up to the 40 percent, so I think the change in leadership was very positive for the party."

The survey also found that the New Democrats have jockeyed into second place with 35 per cent support, up from 26 per cent in July 2010.

Meanwhile, the Liberals have dropped from 39 per cent last summer to 15 percent, according to DataPath.

Greens make debut

For the first time, the Yukon Green Party has made an appearance in the poll results, registering with seven per cent support, Larsen said.

Earlier this week, the Green Party nominated Kristina Calhoun as its first candidate to run in a Yukon election. She will represent the party in Whitehorse's Riverdale North riding.

"Depending on where they have candidates in which ridings, you know, it will be one of those strategic decisions…. Are they going to split the vote, or are they going to actually have enough strength in any one riding to carry it?" Larsen said.

DataPath Systems, based in Marsh Lake, Yukon, surveyed 424 Yukoners between July 17 and 25 in its non-commissioned survey, according to a company release.

Larsen said the poll should be statistically accurate to 4.7 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

But Mike Travill, head of the Yukon Liberal election committee, noted other issues with the DataPath survey, accusing the firm of not conducting random surveys.

"[In] the federal election, DataPath was out by over 20 per cent, so how much weight can you give to polling of this nature?" Travill said.

Larsen defended her methods saying they are widely used in the industry.

Travill noted that the valuable part of the DataPath poll is what it says about the issues that matter most to Yukoners.

Housing a top issue

Larsen said the top issue identified by poll respondents is housing, with the environment and land use in second place.

NDP Leader Liz Hanson said it's no surprise that housing is the biggest political issue in Yukon.

"It's everything from social housing to actually the affordability of housing for working people throughout this territory," she said.

"Employers are saying over and over again that, yes, you've created this [economic] boom by inviting the world here, but you've done nothing to plan for land availability to allow for building of homes for those workers who should be coming and living here."

Hanson added that she is encouraged to see NDP gains reflected in the DataPath poll.

"I've been from Old Crow to Dawson to Burwash Landing and parts in between, and I think that what we're finding is good support for the NDP. We're building our team," she said.

Neither Pasloski nor officials in the cabinet office commented on the poll findings on Wednesday.

The premier is widely expected to call a territorial election this fall, before the Yukon Party's mandate expires in October.