Jonas Smith announces to media Sept. 6 that he will be seeking the Conservative nomination for the Yukon in the 2019 federal election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Jonas Smith seeks Conservative nomination

The former deputy chief of staff in the Pasloski government wants a shot at federal politics

A former Yukon punk rocker with years of experience working for the Yukon Party is looking to get into federal politics.

Jonas Smith announced Sept. 6 that he’s seeking the Conservative nomination for the Yukon in the 2019 federal election.

“I believe I have the breadth of experience to represent the priorities of Yukoners in Ottawa,” Smith said during an announcement at the Whitehorse Library on Sept. 6.

That experience includes a stretch as bass player in the 90s band Field Day, and roughly a decade of behind-the-scenes work with the Yukon Party.

Smith served as campaign manager to former premier Darrell Pasloski during the 2011 territorial election. After Pasloski’s win, he worked as his executive assistant. Eventually, he took on the role of deputy chief of staff before moving into a position as executive director of the Klondike Placer Miners Association in 2016.

Currently, he is also the Yukon representative on the Conservative Party’s candidates national council.

“To be honest, I have always been interested in politics,” he said. Smith, a third-generation Yukoner, spoke as his wife and two young daughters stood nearby.

“Democracy is very important to me. It was engrained in me at an early age … having been in a support position for the better part of a decade, I have seen the inner workings of the system and, where I’m at in my life with my family, where things are at in the territory, where things are at nationally, I believe that now is the time for me to put my own name forward.”

He said he has been conservative the better part of his life. He said the party’s values are consistent with his own (though he didn’t specify any particular values), which is why he opted to run for the Conservative nomination.

“Oddly enough, within the party there’s a lot of parallels between the libertarian and the social values perspectives because both want to afford citizens the personal freedom to exercise their own beliefs without being innundated by government,” he said.

“I think that the leadership of Andrew Scheer is what this country needs.”

Speaking to the Conservative Party convention held in Halifax in late August, Smith pointed to Scheer’s opposition to re-opening the issue of abortion (at the convention, a motion was brought forward to remove an article from the party’s policy book, stating the party doesn’t support any legislation to regulate abortion. Forty-seven per cent of delegates voted to remove it.)

“The party has consistently taken a position to remain mostly silent and therefore afford a big tent for all people and that way we can concentrate on the things that we all agree on as opposed to the few things that we don’t,” said Smith.

He said he has spent a lot of time working towards this, and thinks it’s the best opportunity for him to serve the country.

The nomination period opened Sept. 6 and runs for 14 days.

So far no one else has announced an intention to run in the Yukon.

Liberal MP Larry Bagnell said he has not yet made any final decisions about whether he will run again.

“For some reason, I don’t know what, the longer you’re there (in government), you seem to have more influence, so people just provide you more respect. So I’ve been able to deliver more this term than any other of my terms, so I think that’s of benefit to the Yukon,” said Bagnell.

Contact Amy Kenny at amy.kenny@yukon-news.com

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