Yukon Party leader Currie Dixon reacts to the territorial budget in Whitehorse on March 4, 2021. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)

Yukon Party MLAs apologize for crude text messages about party leaders

Premier Sandy Silver believes he was “inadvertently” sent the message thread

The Yukon Party’s leader and two MLAs have apologized after a thread of crude text messages went public over the weekend.

Yukon Party Leader Currie Dixon issues a personal apology to Premier Sandy Silver for a string of crude text messages between Yukon Party members. (Courtesy/Office of the Premier)

“On Friday, April 30 2021, two of our MLAs sent offensive and rude text messages to a group of people that included the Premier. These comments are entirely unacceptable and are unbecoming of a holder of public office,” said Yukon Party Leader Currie Dixon in a statement.

“As soon as I saw these, I immediately spoke with both of them candidly and am confident they understand how offensive and unprofessional these comments are. They have apologized and committed themselves to learning from this incident and devoting themselves to advocating for a safe and respectful Yukon.”

Dixon continued to say that both Istchenko and Hassard have been stripped of the opportunity to act as critics in the next legislative sitting.

“That said, as leaders we must hold ourselves to a high standard, and as a result of this incident, both of them will not be given the privilege to sit on any legislative committees nor will they be given critic roles when we establish our shadow cabinet,” Dixon said.

On May 2, Premier Sandy Silver released screenshots of the text message thread to media with an accompanying statement.

The texts contained comments comparing the genitalia sizes of all three party leaders and crude suggestions about Silver’s sexual preferences. (The Yukon News will not print the contents of the messages due to their graphic nature.)

“The attached texts were sent to me on Friday. I expect I was included inadvertently,” Silver said in his statement.

“The texts contain a very inappropriate conversation between elected members of the Yukon Party. While the leader of the Yukon Party did provide a mild apology, also attached, we believe this text behaviour is unacceptable and are interested to know how he plans to address this behaviour.

“I am sharing these with the media because Yukoners should be aware of the culture that is considered acceptable within the Yukon Party.”

Silver also attached a screenshot of a text from Dixon with apology and assurances that he had spoken with Istchenko and Hassard about the messages.

“Despite political differences this should never get personal and I will be reinforcing this message to our folks,” Dixon wrote in the text.

Hassard and Istchenko also released written statements.

“I regret these foolish and immature actions. I apologize unreservedly and will take the lessons from this mistake to advocate for a territory where all Yukoners feel welcome,” Hassard said.

Istchenko added that his actions were “immature and unacceptable.”

“I sincerely apologize for making these comments and am deeply embarrassed by them. I commit to learning from these mistakes,” Istchenko said.

Contact Gabrielle Plonka at gabrielle.plonka@yukon-news.com

Yukon politics