Canada Votes: Preview – The Territories

by on 19 August, 2015

FrontWith the Canadian election now exactly two months away, it is time to start looking at the possibilities on a riding by riding level and how they will stack up on election night.



Yukon (One seat)

YK_Wiki YKdet

The Yukon has traditionally been conservative territory, although that has changed markedly over the last 30 years.

The Yukon was held for 72 of its first 81 years of existence by a conservative representative, the exact nature of their conservative leaning occasionally shifting depending on the local political tides. Not until 1987, when Erik Nielsen left the Parliament after being given his marching orders by PM Brian Mulroney. Nielsen retired at the 1987 election and, robbed of a popular local MP, the PC vote nosedived almost 30%, the NDP picking the riding up as a result.

Nielsen had a maverick style in both opposition and government, which endeared him to his constituents but not to the more traditional establishment types.

Audrey McLaughlin, who served as NDP leader from 1989 until stepping down in 1995, held the Yukon for the NDP until 1997, when she was succeeded by Louise Roberts. Roberts was defeated in 2000 by Liberal Larry Bagnall by a mere 70 votes. Bagnall was thrown out on the back of a 12.8% swing against him in 2011, Ryan Leef ascending to the seat.

The Yukon economy is primarily resource and tourism based but most economic activity only occurs in summer months. Naturally, in a region known as the land of the midnight sun in summer, in winter it becomes the land of the midday moon. Interestingly, the resources sector is currently feeling the pain of a slump in commodity values, although this is coinciding with a fall in the Canadian dollar, which should offset the pain from an export perspective.

However, the fall in prices is what is taking up most column space and air time. Combine that with the fact that Bagnall will be running again for the Liberals, and that the Liberals have a leader with a pulse on this occasion, and it looks safe to say that Ryan Leef is done.


Lib: 1 (+1)     Con: 0     NDP: 0     BQ: 0      Grn: 0     Oth: 0


Nunavut (One seat)

NUV_Wiki NUVdet

Nunavut only achieved status as an independent territory in 1999, up until which point it had been part of the Northwest TerriTories.

As a riding, Nunavut, and its predecessor Nunatsiaq, rarely delivered tight election results, although the riding had little loyalty to any party in particular. Having said that, it had a more Liberal flavour than anything else, but this can be put down to a 20 year stretch from 1988-2008, when conservatives were almost always in a rut.

Nunavut is 85% Aboriginal Canadian and located within the Arctic Circle, which creates a very unique lifestyle in the territory. It has also ensured that it has always returned MPs with First Nations backgrounds.

Currently holding the riding is conservative Leona Aglukkaq, who was the Minister of Health and Social Services and the Minister Responsible for the Status of Women in the Executive Council of Nunavut before stepping down to run federally in 2008.

Aglukkaq was named the Minister of Health on October 30, 2008 and was  the first Inuk in Canadian history to be appointed to the Cabinet of Canada.

Aglukkaq drew attention as Minister during the swine flu epidemic of 2009, and was praised by her shadow minister as doing a “terrific job”. Aglukkaq is currently Environment Minister and is one of the less partisan Ministers in what is known as one of the more partisan governments in recent history by its opponents, ensuring that whatever firepower is available to her opponents is reduced. However, recent polls put the Liberals neck and neck with her. Given that the only mud that will stick to Aglukkaq is her Harper connection, she should be able to sneak across the line.


Lib: 1     Con: 1 (+1)     NDP: 0    BQ: 0     Grn: 0     Oth: 0


Northwest Territories (One seat)

NWT_Wiki NWTdet

Formerly known as Western Arctic in a hangover from the pre-Nunavut days, NWT has always had a leftist bent, with the old PCs holding the seat for a grand total of 11 years out of 53. This is unsurprising given the dominance of the resources sector as the major employer, with locals employed in tough, physical labour.

However, contrary to the image of a physical, working class riding, NWT has the highest annual per capita income in Canada at $76,000. This can be explained by the size of the diamond mining industry, which provides a useful alternative to the blood diamonds mined in Africa, while gold is also found broadly across the territory.

NWT traditionally, at a territorial level, operates by consensus government rather than party politics, which makes federal elections rather predictable, given the closeness of the Liberal and New Democratic parties on the ideological plane.

Having said that, the Conservatives did poll second behind the NDP in 2011. However, with sagging commodity prices, and the conservatives still riding somewhat high off the back of a big 2008 bump which occurred at the expense of the Liberals and their ‘green shift’ carbon tax, it is almost impossible to see how the NDP can manage to lose this riding.


Lib: 1     Con: 1     NDP: 1 (+1)     BQ: 0     Grn: 0     Oth: 0

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