Letters to the editor.

This week’s mailbox: rallying for basic annual income; letters to candidates

Dear Editor,

We need change, substantial change, both in the Yukon and across Canada. Despite being one of the richest countries in the world, there is so much need in Canada, in many ways. Let me zero in on a seemingly unattainable and often controversial issue — Basic Annual Income (BAI).

The Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition (YAPC) is planning a rally on Wednesday, September 15th at 12 noon to raise awareness of this important issue, a key issue for the 2021 federal election. Join us at the Healing Totem, on Front Street at the corner with Main Street, in downtown Whitehorse.

Some people are more familiar with BAI as Guaranteed Annual Income, but I prefer to use Basic Annual Income since it refers to meeting the BASIC needs of individuals for their well-being. I have worked with the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition for many years, and have recently stepped into a new position as one of three Co-chairs of YAPC. I am passionate about BAI. My lived experience includes a couple times when the cold breath of significant financial uncertainty blew on the back of my neck. I was lucky, while so many others have not been. I have never forgotten. Many of us would benefit immensely from BAI. Students, single parents, artists, people with disabilities, seniors, and people working for low paid or part-time jobs are just a few examples.

A Basic Annual Income program is defined as “a regular, reliable distribution of money from government to people to help ensure total income sufficient to meet common, basic needs. The distribution is made without regard for whether recipients have paid labour or not, though total income can be factored as to whether a person receives Basic Income.” For the Yukon, a BAI program would need to take into account the complexities of four levels of government, and be a program built on collaboration within the community and amongst governments. For Wednesday’s Basic Income Now Rally we are encouraging people to walk with their signs to the rally from all directions. A visual and active convergence of community members who believe it is time for a Basic Income.

There will be several speakers during the short “formal” portion of the rally including Ms. Pat Duncan, Yukon’s Independent Senator, who has supported BAI along with 50 of her Senate colleagues. Several Voices (graduates of YAPC’s Voices Influencing Change advocacy training) will be sharing some of their stories and what BAI could mean to them when it is implemented. There will be time for questions. And at least one more speaker!

The Yukon’s federal candidates have been invited to come to the rally to listen to the speakers and learn more and to see how important this issue is to voters. We look forward to starting the conversation about a Basic Annual Income program for the Yukon at the Basic Income Now Rally at noon on September 15th. Hope to see you there!

Sincerely,

Helen Slama

Co-chair, YAPC

Open letter to Jonas Smith

I am disappointed you haven’t answered the open letter I sent you weeks ago, asking you a few simple questions.

I asked if you were unvaccinated. I asked if you refused to get tested for COVID during the election campaign, since Conservative leader Erin O’Toole is requiring unvaccinated candidates to get tested.

When we heard about your fight with the Conservative Party, you claimed it was about their policy on mandatory vaccinations. But we now know they are against mandatory vaccinations, so there’s clearly something else you’re not telling us.

What was your fight with the CPC really about? Is it that you’re unvaccinated, and refuse to get tested for COVID?

You’ve been knocking on people’s doors and not wearing a mask. If you’re unvaccinated, why wouldn’t you want to get tested? Wouldn’t a responsible person want to ensure that if they got COVID while talking to hundreds of people during an election, they found out so they could avoid spreading it to other people?

If you run for office, you are held to a higher standard. We deserve to know what your views are on vaccination.

PPC leader Maxime Bernier is unvaccinated. I don’t agree with his choice, but at least he was upfront, and told voters. Why won’t you tell us?

Are you unvaccinated? And if so, why? Please answer my questions this time, instead of ignoring me.

Yours truly,

Cindy Ballantyne

Whitehorse, Yukon

For your consideration

The political cartoon on page 6 of your August 18th edition depicting Jonas Smith flushing himself down the political toilet was in poor taste. If it was meant to indicate that Jonas should have kept his mouth shut rather than state his position against mandatory vaccination/medical treatments being required to keep a job, it was a sad commentary on our hope that any prospective MP might dare to express an independent opinion, let alone the hope he/she might actually dare to represent us constituents in the Ottawa halls of power. Moreover, it was not Jonas that did the flushing. It was Party HQ.

Whether Jonas’ chance to be elected was damaged remains to be seen. As an independent he can draw votes from both the left and right sides of the political spectrum. He is known and well liked and people who would not have voted for him simply because they did not want to vote Conservative may well vote for him as an independent. They may appreciate that he spoke for himself, they don’t like the manner and the reason he was turfed from his nomination, and they see the potential for him to have outsized influence if the next government is again a minority. That can not be said for the rest of the candidates running under Party banners and strict Party control.

As always, the voters will decide. Meantime, showing respect for Jonas’ courage and independent candidacy, and fair coverage of his campaign, is very much in order.

Rick Tone

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