Editor’s caution: this story contains one example of a sexually explicit remark to give readers some context about what has occurred. Other offensive texts from Yukon Party MLAs have been generalized in this story for reasons of taste.
Sometimes politics are so absurd it’s difficult to decide whether to laugh or cry.
A case in point happened over the weekend as a series of offensive texts from veteran Yukon Party MLAs went public.
The texts were mostly the work of Stacey Hassard – the party’s acting leader for 3 ½ years – and Kluane MLA Wade Istchenko.
They were sent sometime Friday.
The texts, provided to the media by the Liberal party and Premier Sandy Silver, start midway through a conversation.
“Don’t egg him on,” reads the first text in the thread from an unidentified person.
“He’ll build a meme of Sandy and Kate measuring d---s. Not joking.”
Hassard replied with an insulting remark about NDP Leader Kate White which the Star is declining to publish. “Wade told me,” Hassard said of his observation about the NDP leader.
Then the same unidentified person wrote colourful remarks about a part of Dixon’s body.
Istchenko then wrote a comment about Silver and women which the Star is likewise not publishing.
Silver was inadvertently copied on the texts, and Dixon learned of them as well.
Dixon sent a text to Silver apologizing for the messages.
“Hey Sandy I just saw a string of inappropriate and rude messages that included replies from Wade and Stacey. I just wanted to apologize, and let you know that I’ve spoken to both of them about the inappropriateness and rudeness of them and they are both apologetic.
“Despite political differences this should never get personal and I will be reinforcing this message to our folks,” Dixon told the premier.
At 9 p.m. Sunday, Sunny Patch, the deputy chief of staff for the premier’s office, issued a statement to local media from Silver about the situation.
“The attached texts were sent to me on Friday. I expect I was included inadvertently,” the premier said.
“The texts contain a very inappropriate conversation between elected members of the Yukon Party.
“While the leader of the Yukon Party did provide a mild apology, also attached, we believe this text behaviour is unacceptable and are interested to know how he plans to address this behaviour.
“I am sharing these with the media because Yukoners should be aware of the culture that is considered acceptable within the Yukon Party,” Silver said.
White said in an email, “If this is how Yukon Party MLAs talk about someone when they’re on a group text, I have to wonder how they talk when they think no one is listening.
“It seems like the newer, nicer Yukon Party was just a campaign promise,” White said.
Early this morning, Ted Laking, the chief of staff for the Yukon Party, issued a statement to local media over the situation that he said was from Dixon.
“On Friday April 30, 2021, two of our MLAs sent offensive and rude text messages to a group of people that included the Premier,” the statement said.
“These comments are entirely unacceptable and are unbecoming of a holder of public office.
“As soon as I saw these, I immediately spoke with both of them candidly and am confident they understand how offensive and
unprofessional these comments are.
“They have apologized and committed themselves to learning from this incident and devoting themselves to advocating for a safe and respectful Yukon.”
Dixon went on to say that he levied what he thought are suitable repercussions against the two veteran MLAs.
“That said, as leaders we must hold ourselves to a high standard, and as a result of this incident, both of them will not be given the privilege to sit on any legislative committees nor will they be given critic roles when we establish our shadow cabinet.
“On behalf of the Yukon Party and its members, I apologize for these remarks.”
Hassard – who acted as the party’s leader from late 2016 to mid-2020 – was quoted in the same statement.
“I regret these foolish and immature actions. I apologize unreservedly and will take the lessons from this mistake to advocate for a territory where all Yukoners feel welcome.”
Istchenko issued this statement:
“My actions were immature and unacceptable. I sincerely apologize for making these comments and am deeply embarrassed by them. I commit to learning from these mistakes.”
The Yukon Party did not respond to requests to make any of the MLAs available for an interview today.