Election momentum continues to build as Canadians head into the 42nd federal election on Oct. 19.
Last week, The Free Press reached the fifth candidate for Kootenay-Columbia – Christina Yahn – while she was volunteering in Hawaii.
Yahn, a beekeeper from Nelson, is running for the Libertarian Party. Yahn was in Hawaii helping to build a sanctuary for pollinators and honey bees and working with some of the local beekeepers to help them manage their colonies with some of the products and non-chemically based techniques she’s developed.
When speaking with Yahn on Sept. 3, the candidate, who has been away for nearly four months, said she would be home this week. Yahn said the early election call came as a surprise to her, but said she has been doing her best to campaign and give interviews from abroad.
Being a beekeeper, Yahn said food security is a pressing issue and wants to “plant the seed” in the minds of voters about the importance of supporting local producers and buying local products.
“One of the best things that people can do to really help food security is to support our farmers,” she said, adding going to farmers’ markets and putting pressure on local grocery stores to carry local products can go a long way. “We really have the power to create that as consumers to demand certain things from our stores of what we really want, what we want to see.”
The policy around farmers and small business is what first peeked Yahn’s interest in becoming involved in politics.
“Time and time again, policy would come up that I saw was really inhibiting a lot of the producers from being able to bring their products to market property,” she said, adding the Libertarian Party appealed to her because of its stand on many issues, including localizing government by “taking more of the power out of the federal government and put it into [the provinces] and municipalities so the people in the area who are directly affected by these policies are more in power of creating them.”
Another issue the party stands for that appeals to Yahn is foreign policy, who said she is concerned about Canada’s involvement overseas and “getting involved with war at a more than aggressive level as opposed to a peacekeeping or non-interventionalist level”, adding that when governments engage in war tactics and kill people, that’s when it becomes a threat.
“When you go over to another country and you start killing people, there’s going to be a lot of negative feelings towards us. I think Canada used to be viewed as a peaceful nation and we had a really good reputation internationally and I see that reputation’s really been tarnished with activity over the last decade of being involved over there.”
On the party’s website, one point on its platform states the party wants to “eliminate all forms of foreign aid”. Yahn said this means Canada needs “a responsible foreign aid policy” such as disaster relief, saying it would cut back “a lot of the questionable foreign aid that’s happened where we’ve been giving money to dictators that have been propped up and then taken down by their people.”
One issue she’s been hearing from her constituents is the issue over Bill C-51’s privacy issues, something Yahn said also relates to foreign policy, saying creating legislation that restricts the rights and privacy of its residents creates “a false sense of security”.
Along with concern’s over privacy issues, another issue Yahn is hearing people talk about is the idea of strategic voting. Two ideas she’s heard are people wanting to put their vote anywhere but in the Conservative pool, or “anyone but Harper” and also the idea of voting for “the lesser of two evils”.
“I can relate to [that] in a sense, and people are really fed up with what’s been going on. But then the other side of it is, you’re constantly voting for somebody you don’t really want to vote for,” she said. “[By doing this,] you’re still not being represented, and then four years down the road it’s “anyone but so-and-so” and it’s the same cycle that gets turned over and over,” she said, adding it’s necessary to create change so the people can feel like their vote does count and they can vote with the party or the candidate they identify with. One way this can be achieved is through proportional representation, something the party believes in, she said.
“I personally really like the single transferable voting, which basically you’re voting for candidates as opposed to parties, so it makes it easier for independents to be able to get a seat,” she said, adding candidates would still run in a party, but on the local level voters would choose a candidate as opposed to voting for a party, ultimately giving minority groups and political parties more of a voice on the federal level.
When it comes to healthcare, the Libertarian Party believes in a two-tier approach to better serve Canadians, Yahn said.
“The main position is for people to have options,” she said, adding universal healthcare would still be an option. “But we’d open it up to a private sector as well.”
As it stands, tens of thousands of Canadians seek surgeries in countries like Mexico or Cuba because of the long waiting lists in Canada, Yahn said, adding the backside of healthcare is “dysfunctional”.
“Waiting in emergency [at the] hospital for eight hours to be able to see a doctor while you’re bleeding out or whatever the issues is is not acceptable for the amount we pay [as taxpayers],” she said. “We have this whole concept in Canada where we have free healthcare but it’s a bit of an illusion – we actually pay an enormous amount of taxes that go to covering the healthcare system. In a sense, yes we have universal healthcare, but we actually pay higher than a lot of other countries do and we have such a low quality of care just because our medical workers are stretched to their absolute maximum.”
Another point on the Libertarian Party’s platform, different from other parties’ platforms, is the issue of legalizing the sex trade, though Yahn said that point isn’t a pressing issue.
“Not that we promote sex work, but anything that is illegal creates an underground market which is now regulated by criminals,” she said, adding that creates a dangerous environment for the workers who are currently unable to access proper medical care. Legalization is a way to take the trade out of the hands of criminals.
The same logic applies to legalizing marijuana, Yahn said, something the party supports, adding the party also does not want to see it regulated.
“It would be something that would be open to the market where people could create businesses out of it,” she said. “If it was to be regulated, which is the potential plan with a lot of other parties’ platforms, is now your putting it into big industries and it’s going to be something that’s heavily regulated like tobacco. Smaller producers would be able to take on something like that. It would be a really amazing opportunity for economic growth for small business and there still would be a lot of tax revenue made off of that it just wouldn’t be cornered in the market by a large industry.”
Yahn said she is eager to get back to Canada and meet with constituents and get involved in campaigning as much as she can.