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Meet the candidates: Independent Jonas Smith

While he’s running as an independent this time around, Jonas Smith will be a familiar name to voters who filled out a ballot two years ago.
Jonas Smith is running again for the role of MP, this time as an independent. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

While he’s running as an independent this time around, Jonas Smith will be a familiar name to voters who filled out a ballot two years ago.

Smith was nearly successful in the 2019 election, when he lost to Liberal incumbent Larry Bagnell by less than one per cent. He was assumed to be a shoe-in for the candidacy this year, and was acclaimed on July 13. Nearly a month later, just as the election was called, he received a call removing him from the position.

The reason? Smith said it’s because he’s taking a principled stand against mandatory vaccination and vaccine passports. The Conservative Party has not provided more information, despite the fact that other outspoken anti-vaccine candidates have been allowed to run.

“A big reason I chose to run as an independent was based on the support of messages I got from traditional Conservative voters. But since I’ve gotten out there in the community, I’m seeing that there’s support across the political spectrum, which is great, particularly given the state of the world and our country,” said Smith.

“We need representatives who are representing a broad swath of political perspectives, I think that we all need to work together to try to recover from the pandemic.”

Smith himself has said he is not anti-vaccine, he believes in science and has received vaccines in the past, but he is opposed to any actions that limit people’s freedoms due to their vaccine status or compel them to disclose.

In debates over the election cycle, he compared the laws to civil rights and segregation, asking if “separate water fountains” were to follow.

“There’s thousands and thousands of Yukoners, whether they’re vaccinated or not, that don’t believe in mandatory vaccines or vaccine passports. So that one issue is unifying across political stripes,” he said. “But people on all sides of the spectrum [weren’t happy]: Conservatives weren’t happy with the direction of the Conservative Party, Liberals weren’t happy with Justin Trudeau. Same with NDP and Green voters, and voters who aren’t partisan at all, and are just tired of partisanship taking the front seat over governance.”

While vaccine talk has differentiated Smith from his opponents, he also has a lifetime of ideas on how to improve the territory.

He said economic recovery is a key issue this time, in addition to housing, affordability, the environment, clean energy and the delivery of healthcare in the territory.

“People really want to get back to work, but they also want to reconnect all the social structures that have been disrupted over the last year and a half,” he said. “I think I can work with whichever party forms the government, because they all have platform items that would address those things. I can make sure that those investments work for the Yukon.”

Smith said doubling the northern living allowance — a policy toted by the Conservatives — was originally his proposal. He also communicated that a large-scale hydro project is less appealing to Yukoners than smaller-scale green energy projects due to environmental effects on First Nations territory.

Voters have five choices in the upcoming election, but it’s likely only two have a shot at being aligned with the governing party. Polls indicate either way, it will likely be a minority government: and Smith says that’s where he would have an advantage.

“That’s where an independent Member of Parliament really has more power, because the ruling party will rely on the votes from beyond their caucus members to pass budgets and legislation,” he said. “I want to stress that people can vote for me in good faith, regardless of their political leanings.”

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