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Yukoners hear from all five candidates during election forum

Vaccination, housing, electoral reform among issues discussed
Voters will head to the polls Sept. 20. (Yukon News file)

On Sept. 14, Yukoners heard from the five candidates vying to be the territory’s next MP in the Sept. 20 federal eleciton.

CBC Yukon hosted an all-candidates forum with the station’s Airplay host Dave White moderating the event.

Over the course of the 1.5-hour forum, Conservative candidate Barbara Dunlop, Green Party candidate Lenore Morris, independent candidate Jonas Smith, Liberal candidate Brendan Hanley and NDP candidate Lisa Vollans-Leduc shared their views on topics ranging from mandatory vaccinations to reconciliation, housing, electoral reform, gun control and more.

Smith, who was removed as the Conservative candidate in the Yukon for his views on vaccination, argued people should have a choice in whether to get vaccinated, pointing out that he is the only candidate to take that stand.

“Every other candidate or their party supports some form of coercion or discrimination,” he commented.

Others voiced their support for vaccine passports with Hanley, who is currently on leave from his position as the territory’s chief medical officer, pointing to the COVID-19 situation in Alberta, stating there’s a greater need for higher vaccination levels than was originally thought.

“Ideally, vaccine uptake should always be guided by public health expertise and I look forward to the chance to bring my expertise to the federal table when it comes to implementation,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dunlop noted the co-relation between high vaccination rates and lower COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, with Vollans-Leduc stating the NDP would factor in medical reasons people may have for not getting the vaccine when policies are implemented.

Morris said that while she supports vaccine passports, she would like to see more consultation on some measures.

Speaking to reconciliation, Morris suggested it will take generations to happen while Dunlop said it starts with understanding and respect. Both Hanley and Vollans-Leduc pointed to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 calls to action as a first step to reconciliation. Smith commented reconciliation is a responsiblity of all Canadians, noting his support for an investigation into former residential school sites.

On the housing front, it was agreed by all there’s not enough housing for the ever-growing population in the territory and investments need to be made to build more homes, including rentals.

Housing plans for Indigenous communities are outlined in platforms by the Conservatives, Liberals and NDP.

Looking at how elections might happen in the future, each of the candidates commented on possibilities for electoral reform.

Vollans-Leduc noted the NDP’s commitment to a lower voting age of 16 and electoral reform.

Morris pointed out that in the last election, her party would have more seats if a proportional representation system was in place. Three Greens were elected in 2019, though Jenica Atwin eventually crossed the floor to join the Liberals.

Morris noted the Greens would move towards a proportional representation system.

Smith said, if elected, he would consider electoral reform.

Hanley, meanwhile, acknowledged he’s heard disappointment from voters that the 2015 Liberal campaign promise to move forward with electoral reform hasn’t come to fruition. He argued though, that many of the Liberal campaign promises were kept.

Gun control also came up as an issue with all, except Hanley, arguing laws need to be reformed.

It was argued the current laws don’t take into account Yukoners. Smith pointed out the territory has the highest level of licensed owners in the country and said Yukoners have been disproportionately impacted by the Liberal’s ban of numerous assault rifles that came into effect last year.

Dunlop said a Conservative government would review firearms’ classifications, noting that firearms are “viewed differently by Northerners than by people living in southern cities.”

While Vollans-Leduc said the NDP would take an evidence-based approach to gun laws, Morris said there hasn’t been the consultation needed with the North on gun laws.

The CBC forum has been one of a number hosted over the course of the election with others focused on more specific issues of interest groups.

Voters head to the polls for the federal election Sept. 20.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at

Stephanie Waddell

About the Author: Stephanie Waddell

I joined Black Press in 2019 as a reporter for the Yukon News, becoming editor in February 2023.
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