Meet the Yukon's candidates: Jonas Smith tries again, this time as an independent

Jonas Smith isn't letting the fact that he's without a party stop him from taking another run at the riding he nearly captured in 2019.

After finishing a close second in 2019, Smith says he's running again to represent his supporters

Jonas Smith is taking a second run at the riding of Yukon, this time as an independent after he was dropped by the Conservatives. (George Maratos/CBC)

This is the first in a series of profiles of Yukon's five federal election candidates. Another will be published each day.

All candidates were asked the same questions. Answers have been edited for length and clarity. 

Jonas Smith came oh so close to becoming Yukon's MP in 2019. Smith, then a Conservative, finished less than a percentage point behind incumbent Liberal Larry Bagnell. Until very recently, it looked like Yukon voters were in for a rematch.

Then things changed. Bagnell announced he's not running again. Smith was dumped by the Conservatives over his statements about vaccine mandates, even though those statements sounded a lot like those of Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole.

But Smith decided to stay in the race. He's running as an independent.

What about your background makes you an ideal candidate in this election? 

Well, I'm the third generation in my family to call Yukon home. I'm a parent of two small children. I've been involved in Yukon politics for over 10 years now. I was president of the Yukon Party in 2011 when the Yukon Party won its third historic majority government.

I have been involved with the Conservative Party for a better part of that same 10-year period. I was a member of the Conservative Party's National Council, where I represented the Yukon.

So I'd like to think that I brought not only the political experience and that I brought that to the table, but I've also put in the time over these last few years talking to Yukoners in every community across the territory to find out what's important to them and what they want out of a government in Ottawa. 

Flanked by his family, Jonas Smith speaks to supporters on election night in October 2019. Then running as a Conservative, Smith finished a close second to Liberal Larry Bagnell. (Chris Windeyer/CBC)

Why did you want to run in this election? 

Well, again, because I came so close last time around and because the result was a minority government, it was anticipated there would be another election within two years. So I kept in touch with everyone. I kept my ear to the ground. I continued to travel the territory as much as I could, you know, given the pandemic.

And I've got thousands of people that continued to support me and encourage me to continue pursuing this. And that's also why I'm running as an independent now, because those same thousands of people, it's less important to them what party I'm representing. It's more important that I'm the one who's representing them. 

If you win, what's the first issue you want to tackle? 

The thing that's most important is safely reopening our economy, making sure that healthy people can get their livelihoods back, that we can reconnect families that have been separated over this last year and a half. So I think that affects everything, but it trickles down to other secondary things.

Top of mind for me is health-care and particularly mental health. We've seen a lot of people's health suffer over this last year and a half. Even beyond the pandemic, just through either undiagnosed or untreated illnesses and again, particularly with mental health. 

If you could transport magically to any concert any time, who would you see and where? 

I'm a big Black Sabbath fan, so I'd love to go back to about 1970 when they released both their their debut album, as well as their Paranoid album, which I think is their prime period. 

Profiles of Yukon's other federal candidates will be published through the week: 

Thursday: Lenore Morris, Green

Friday: Brendan Hanley, Liberals

Monday: Lisa Vollans-Leduc, NDP

Tuesday: Barb Dunlop, Conservatives

With files from George Maratos