Whitehorse Daily Star

Image title

Photo by Vince Fedoroff

YUKON PARTY MLAS CENSURED – Yukon Party MLAs Stacey Hassard (centre) and Wade Istchenko, right, are seen at their desks in the legislature on March 4. Leader Currie Dixon, left, has sanctioned them for their recent offensive remarks on social media. Currie Dixon photo TIM GIILCK

Yukon Party MLAs stripped of roles after crude texts

Sometimes politics are so absurd it’s difficult to decide whether to laugh or cry.

By Tim Giilck on May 3, 2021

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.

Comments (24)

Up 177 Down 272

Mike on May 3, 2021 at 4:42 pm

Although I find it offensive that anyone in any position would carry on in such a childish manner, I also find it offensive in the Liberal and NDP coalition. This joint venture is as obscene as the comments made. In no way form or fashion did the Liberals and NDP promote anything remotely the same in their platform while campaigning and it insults anyone with any intelligence to think this agreement benefits anyone but the two parties and NOT the Yukon residents.
Kate can feel as offended as she wants but the sell out she has done to her constituents is unthinkable and that goes for Sandy Silver as well. This Territory is no longer a place you can raise your kids or take a cab, even the justice system is a joke, the government is the biggest joke all motivated by GREED. So to the two texting fools shame on you, and to Kate and Sandy shame on you.

Up 191 Down 70

prosciencegreenie on May 3, 2021 at 4:39 pm

As an avid supporter of YP I think all of the information should come out instead of henpicked lines.

Up 124 Down 175

NeilAlexGeddy on May 3, 2021 at 4:33 pm

Hilarious ...... definitely voting for them again.

Up 193 Down 107

Looks Like on May 3, 2021 at 4:31 pm

Sandy goes to the media with this? Really?

Up 196 Down 71

Beryl Mason on May 3, 2021 at 4:28 pm

Seasoned politicians as well as privileged men having a little fun, not acceptable. How can they be trusted to act in good faith? A sad state of affairs for Yukon to have to put up with such disrespect.

Up 251 Down 66

Yukon Resident on May 3, 2021 at 4:18 pm

Why the different standards. The Yukon NDP Candidate for Watson Lake was shamed into withdrawing for posting a tweet in 2019. These two can text this and "learn from their mistakes"; a slap on the wrist and continue on. They should be let go from their positions as MLA's. If this is how they think and speak, what is the workplace culture in their public office?

Up 179 Down 20

Seriously on May 3, 2021 at 4:12 pm

Exactly how old are you??? ALL parties need to grow up.

Up 282 Down 77

Jack on May 3, 2021 at 4:09 pm

Well, folks - the true colours of the Yukon Party are unveiled. It gives me no pleasure to see this since I have known Stacey and Wade for decades, but unfortunately it is no surprise to anyone. I guess that I am disappointed that, after years in the Legislative Assembly, they still don't get it. I imagine people will try to minimize it as "locker room talk" similar to Trump - but it is a culture within the YP that has been there for 40 years. On the other hand, it reassures me that the election outcome was appropriate. We don't need a bunch of immature, insecure boys making decisions and running our government. Unbelievable.

Up 244 Down 36

yukongirl on May 3, 2021 at 4:07 pm

So are they going to attend YG's Respectful Workplace workshop? Or, as elected representatives, are they "too important" to attend such a thing?

Up 132 Down 43

Fair Enough on May 3, 2021 at 4:00 pm

No role in shadow cabinet, no legislative committees. That actually sounds like a fair punishment. Unfortunately we can't make them wear dunce caps and sit in the corner.

Up 82 Down 282

Nathan Living on May 3, 2021 at 3:59 pm

The apology was enough no need to strip them of their roles.

Up 103 Down 53

BnR on May 3, 2021 at 3:58 pm

The good ol' boys are at it again.

Up 187 Down 27

DJ on May 3, 2021 at 3:52 pm

Why is the media not reporting the full story? I think we have a right to know the full content of the exchange so we can decide for ourselves how ‘offensive’ this is.

Let’s remember how the YP destroyed the NDP candidate for a 3 year old tweet about the POTUS.

Up 98 Down 30

Stacey? Who's she? on May 3, 2021 at 3:47 pm

Don't worry, guys. Stacey and Wade have learned, and in the 48 hours since, they've changed. They'll focus on their constituents. From the horses mouth, they "will take the lessons from this mistake to advocate for a territory where all Yukoners feel welcome." I'm sure your Ross River constituents are thrilled.

Up 68 Down 88

Joe on May 3, 2021 at 3:36 pm

@Sandy says,,” I am sharing these with the media because Yukoners should be aware of the culture that is considered acceptable within the Yukon Party,” haha ya right. Proper move would have been to call Currie and report it to someone like human rights commission.

Up 93 Down 43

Chris Fox on May 3, 2021 at 3:32 pm

Currie said he had a "great team" heading into the recent election.

SMIRK !!!!!!!

Up 99 Down 199

Pierre on May 3, 2021 at 3:27 pm

It’s sad they got caught saying what most people are thinking.

Up 44 Down 10

Giddy-up on May 3, 2021 at 3:23 pm

Let the horse trading begin!

Up 156 Down 35

Gordon of Riverdale on May 3, 2021 at 3:21 pm

Dixon needs to start cleaning house.

Up 109 Down 20

I read the string too on May 3, 2021 at 3:12 pm

Funny how this news story fails to mention how it started.

Up 120 Down 57

R.I.P Yukon party on May 3, 2021 at 3:07 pm

Yukon party supporters let's hear the excuses for this one.... any takers? lol.

Up 149 Down 34

Explain yourselves on May 3, 2021 at 3:05 pm

I would like to see the comments published for the record, and I would like those MLAs responsible for such childish behaviour explain why the things they said are wrong, and why they are apologising for them. What have you learned? Tell us. Really. I'd like to hear it. What did you say and why is it unacceptable?

Up 147 Down 44

Patti Eyre on May 3, 2021 at 3:01 pm

“These comments are entirely unacceptable and are unbecoming of a holder of public office."
Is Ted Laking saying these MLAs will be resigning? I don't see any other way to interpret that sentence.

Up 45 Down 97

Jason on May 3, 2021 at 2:49 pm

I'm sure these good ol' boys have learned their lessons.