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WHITEHORSE – Now that the Special Committee on Electoral Reform has tabled its final report, the Yukon Party Official Opposition is calling for the Liberal government to focus on issues that are a priority for more than 11 per cent of Yukon citizens. Over 82 per cent of Yukoners did not participate in the most recent survey.
As stated by the Yukon Bureau of Statistics in their report on that survey: “the results may not be representative of the eligible population, as those with a particular interest in the survey topic may have been more likely than others to participate in the survey.”
As noted in the committee’s final report, only 53 people chose to say something to the committee during the community hearings. Committee meeting attendance totals were dwarfed by other public meetings held during the same time period, with only a handful of people attending most of the meetings, including zero attendees at one. Most of the attendees were members of an advocacy group pushing for changes to the electoral system.
After two years of work spent on this process, public participation compares poorly to participation in territorial elections, where voter turnout of 70 per cent to 80 per cent is common.
The Yukon Party Official Opposition does not think the issue of electoral reform is top-of-mind for most Yukoners right now. We believe many more Yukoners consider issues including lack of access to a family doctor, nursing shortages in communities, health care wait times, gaps in Emergency Medical Services coverage, the growing affordability crisis, strained police resources to respond to organized crime and the illegal drug trade, lack of addictions treatment, problems in the education system, the cost and availability of firewood and many others to be much higher on their priority list.
While we respect the fact that 11 per cent of Yukoners support forming a citizens’ assembly, we believe similar surveys on topics such as access to a family doctor would have a higher response. According to government’s own numbers, over 20 per cent of Yukoners do not have a family doctor.
Of note during the committee’s two years of work and travelling around the territory to gather input, was the abysmally low turnout at most public meetings, and even for online presentations. In Mayo, more people turned out for a presentation by the Commissioner regarding the Queen’s Jubilee than to a committee hearing.
“This Special Committee was born out of the Confidence and Supply Agreement made between the NDP and Liberals in April of 2021,” said Critic for Democratic Institutions Brad Cathers. “Since then, much has changed for Yukoners, such as dealing with the highest inflation in the country. The government should be focused on issues of more importance to Yukoners including the Substance Use Health Emergency, finding a family doctor, inflation relief, and supporting the private sector, as well as many other public priorities.”
The Yukon Party Official Opposition believes a proposal to establish a Citizens’ Assembly would be voted down by Yukoners if it was put to a referendum. We believe that Yukoners value their democracy, and want to vote for their representatives, not have representatives randomly selected by lottery – which is effectively how members of a Citizens’ Assembly would be chosen.