Meet Yukon's candidates: Conservative Jonas Smith says carbon tax is no solution
Belief in small government, low taxes, accountability are what made Smith a Conservative
This is the fourth in a series of profiles of Yukon's five federal election candidates. Another will be published each day this week, in alphabetical order by the candidate's name.
All candidates were asked the same questions. Answers have been edited for length and clarity.
Eight years ago, Yukoners voted for change in the form of a Conservative MP, and first-time candidate Jonas Smith hopes they're ready to do the same again.
Former MP Ryan Leef's victory in 2011 was seen as a bit of an upset — the Conservative beat long-time Liberal MP Larry Bagnell by a narrow margin, and became the first Conservative MP from Yukon since Erik Nielsen held the seat in the 1980s.
The Conservative ascendancy in Yukon didn't last, though. In 2015, Bagnell easily reclaimed the seat for the Liberals with more than double Leef's vote tally.
Smith says he's running because "Yukoners need someone that's going to stand up for them in Ottawa — as opposed to someone who's just Ottawa's voice in the Yukon."
He's currently the executive director of the Klondike Placer Miners' Association, and has also served as president of the territorial Yukon Party and has worked in the premier's office. He's also worked as a server and a musician.
Why are you running for the Conservative Party?
"I've been involved in conservative politics for the better part of a decade now. I believe in small government and low taxes and personal freedom and accountability, and these are the values that I equate with being a Conservative."
What are the main issues for you in this election?
"I've knocked on thousands of doors, made I don't know how many phone calls. The two things that have kind of come out ahead of anything else are affordability and the environment. And so that's where I'm trying to focus my efforts.
"I'm finding a lot of people want to do things to help the environment, but do not think a carbon tax is going to do anything to save it.
"We live in a place where there are very limited options. I have two small children. I can't put them on the back of my bike at 40 below and take them to school — I need to drive a vehicle, and particularly where we live, I need to drive a vehicle that's reliable and can handle all kinds of weather. So charging me more to do that is not going to save the environment.
"So I would much rather focus on things that actually reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. Some of the things the Conservative Party is campaigning on is tax credits for renovations to your house that reduce emissions. So our whole approach is using a carrot instead of a stick, give incentives instead of penalties."
Briefly, why should people vote for you?
"I was in the hospitality industry for a lot of years, and when you're in customer service you get to know a lot of people. I'm not a lawyer, I don't have a famous last name, I'm just a regular, everyday Yukoner. So I like to think that I'm in touch with the realities of what a lot of people are going through.
"But I'm also no stranger to politics. When I decided to get into politics my ascension was fairly rapid — I bought a membership, I volunteered, a year later I was president of the riding association and six months later I was a senior staffer in the premier's office. And I think that demonstrates that one person truly can make a difference — and I'd like to bring that to Ottawa."
What would your go-to karaoke song be?
"We could do some Elvis, maybe In the Ghetto. Depending on the nature of the bar, maybe we could get us something a little bit heavier. I was a musician in a former life, so I'm a big Black Sabbath fan."
Profiles of Yukon's other federal candidates will be published through the week, in alphabetical order:
Friday: Joseph Zelezny (People's Party)
Written by Paul Tukker, with files from Kaila Jefferd-Moore