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A former premier of the Yukon lost the leadership of the territory's Liberal party on Saturday.

Pat Duncan was premier for two years beginning in 2000, however when she called an early election in December 2002 her majority government was left holding only one seat.

Whitehorse-based realtor Arthur Mitchell took the leadership in a 54 vote victory.

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The right-wing Yukon Party currently governs the territory in a majority government.

Mr. Mitchell finished with 357 votes of the 661 cast ballots. Ms. Duncan took 303 of the votes.

"It's not just my victory, it's an act of faith by the entire party in my ability to lead," said Mr. Mitchell.

Musician and headstone maker Elvis Presley and former grand chief of the Council of Yukon First Nations Ed Schultz also ran for the leadership.

Mr. Schultz is expected to still run under the Liberal banner in the next territorial election. Mr. Mitchell said Mr. Schultz's experience and prominence in the Yukon community will greatly benefit the party.

The downfall of the Liberal party continues to be blamed on poor choices made by Ms. Duncan, including the election call which could have been avoided had she been willing to take the building of a Whitehorse primary school out of the budget.

An election is expected to by called within the next 12 months, possibly as early as this fall.

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Despite her defeat, Ms. Duncan remained positive about the future of the party, saying that it was a "great day to be a Liberal," but wouldn't commit to running in the next election.

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