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    Sandy Silver interview April 8, 2022 CHONfm

There’s a new political party in the Yukon, but who are they?

At a protest against the vaccine mandate in the capitol city last month, someone was collecting signatures to register the Yukon Freedom Party.

The Yukon Freedom Party is now a registered political party.

There is a new fourth political party in the territory.

A press release from Elections Yukon says the Yukon Freedom Party has gotten the required 100 signatures of eligible electors to officially become a registered party. Though, who is behind it seems like a mystery.

A website for the party is full of messages that express that they are not in favour of mandatory vaccines. It refers to the policy as “genetic discrimination” and a part of a “two tier society.”

The website cites bill s201 titled “an act to prohibit and prevent genetic discrimination” as proof that mandatory vaccines are a violation of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

However, according to the Yukon Human Rights Commission website, a “singular belief or personal preference around vaccines” does not warrant a human rights complaint. The site says a person could file a complaint if a medical professional advises that they can’t get their COVID shots or if they have sincerely held religious beliefs the prevent vaccines.

Back on the Yukon Freedom Party website there are links to buy fake masks so that people can look like they are following safety guidelines at work. The online store suggests people should refuse to cover their face in stores and businesses.

At last week’s COVID-19 press conference, Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Catherine Elliott said that the new safety measures that were implemented over the weekend such as the reinstating of the mask mandate, is to stop the territory’s health care system from being overwhelmed by a recent surge in infections. As of last Wednesday, there were eight people with COVID-19 in Yukon hospitals. Throughout the pandemic, public health officials have said the vaccine is the best way to fight the virus.

Not much else is known about the Yukon Freedom Party at the moment. Their website doesn’t mention their stance on other hot button political topics like housing, climate change, education, or health care. It doesn’t even say who their leader is or mention names of people involved.

At a protest against the vaccine mandate in downtown Whitehorse last month, someone was collecting signatures to register the party with Elections Yukon. When CHONfm tried to find out what the party is all about, we were told “you’ll find out later.”

Now later, CHONfm sent an email to a general contact address on the party’s site requesting an interview. At the time this article was published, we hadn’t heard back.

The vaccine mandate has proven to be controversial. While the Yukon Freedom Party is not supportive, Premier Sandy Silver told CHONfm last month that the policy is all about protecting people.

“There are some that are refusing to get vaccinated and as a society, we as a government have to look at what keeps us safe,” said Silver.

The mandate has also been supported by groups like Seniors Action Yukon, who are concerned about unvaccinated workers in long term care homes. Recently Champagne and Aishihik First Nations said that they fully support the COVID-19 state of emergency and safety measures. They, like many First Nations, encourage their citizens to get vaccinated.

All government employees have to get their first COVID-19 shot by November 30 or they will be placed on unpaid leave.

Erin Giesbrecht is a public servant who told CHONfm when the mandate was announced exactly one month ago, that she won’t be getting her shots.

“I will not be coerced. I will not be bullied. I won’t put something in my body that I don’t want,” said Giesbrecht.

A petition tabled in the legislative assembly at the beginning of the month calling for the abolishment of the policy did not sway the government. The premier responded last week saying the mandate will remain in place.

According to Elections Yukon, in order for the Yukon Freedom Party to maintain their status as a registered party, they have to endorse at least two candidates in a general election, and complete their annual revenue return on or before March 31 each year.

Update: CHONfm has since learned that the leader of the Yukon Freedom Party is Joseph Zelezny, who ran for the People’s Party of Canada in the 2019 Federal Election. Zelezny lost to long time Member of Parliament for the Yukon Larry Bagnell.

An email response from the website referenced in this article reads, “Yukonfreedom.com is separate from and not part of the Yukon Freedom Party.”

Yukonfreedom.com is listed as the party’s website on electionsyukon.ca.

Written by: CHON

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