Kootenay Columbia has a fifth candidate in the upcoming federal election — Christina Yahn of the Libertarian Party.
Yahn has been a resident of Nelson and the Slocan Valley for 12 years and her main activity has been as an apiarist and a developer of new ways of beekeeping. She runs the Queens Bees Project as well as a small business that develops and sells bee-related body products and candles.
The Libertarian Party, under its leader Tim Moen of Calgary, is running 85 candidates across the country. Its policies promote private property rights, the free market, individual liberty, and the withdrawal of government from many spheres of public life.
The following is an edited and condensed version of the Star’s interview with Christina Yahn last week.
Why did you decide to run?
The main reason is my involvement in farming and small diversified agriculture, and over the last 14 years, time and time again politics comes into play, and so my interest in politics is driven by that, to the point where I feel like stepping up. I don’t feel the representation is there for that arena.
I would like to localize the food security issue. A lot of current regulations stifle our farmers and stop them from bringing food to market at a competitive price or at all. The bureaucracy around having chickens and bees in the city is absurd and it is a basic right to feed yourself and your family including to pollinate your crops. We need community gardens, community greenhouses, and we would be more than willing to work with city councils to make a realistic plan about this.
My interest in beekeeping developed from working on a farm in Winlaw where I was was introduced to the world of bees, and fell in love with them. I did not realize bees are used by loading them on semi trucks and hauled, going to different crops as they bloom, and that is not sustainable.
Bees are the foundation of our food security, so I have been doing advocacy work speaking on behalf of bees and the dire state of food security with the decline in pollinators. In the Kootenays we import about 85 per cent of our food, mostly from California, which is on fire and under drought, so my work with bees spans out to the entire food system.
Why the Libertarian Party?
The Libertarian Party speaks for me because it is the only one that refuses to use aggression to enforce its own ideology. In this election there is the “anyone but Harper” movement, and I can relate in certain aspects, but in the long run, all the other parties use an authoritarian mandate to put their agenda in place. The Libertarian Party puts individual freedoms first.
Both the Greens and the NDP have aspects that are appealing, especially the Green Party, but they also have a lot of policies that would impinge on personal freedom and rights, and the NDP has a lot of policies that infringe on personal choices as to what you would put into your own body and so on.
What other issues interest you?
Foreign policy has become a passion of mine. We used to be known as a peaceful nation and we do not have that reputation any more. I want us to pursue a more non-interventionist policy.
It needs to be recognized that the Sinixt are not extinct and that they are a rich, thriving, beautiful culture.
We would end the treaties that were put in place [with First Nations people] hundreds of years ago but do not reflect current realities. Often they were signed under duress. Some groups would like to become sovereign, and so we would end those treaties and those obligations. If they were to become sovereign nations they could protect their private property rights on their territories. There would be negotiations on what the boundaries would be, and it would end all the controversies about pipelines and mining projects. It would immediately give the power back to the First Nations to have proper consultation so they can protect their lands.
Also community forest management — Harrop Procter is an example of how successful this would be. We are seeing our forests being leased out to foreign companies without accountability. It is not land they own or are held accountable for. We would like to see localized forest management in our area managed by the people affected.
With drug policies, we should not be locking people away for non-violent crimes. Drug abuse is a public health issue, not a criminal issue.
The Libertarian Party is against any form of gun control and would repeal the section of the criminal code that says you have to have license a gun. Could you comment on that?
For me, over-regulation of guns is an issue. I am not a gun enthusiast but and I have lived in rural areas, having bees in bear territory, and I see the value in owning a gun. I see value for rural people to have that right. Reasonable adults have a right to own a gun.
The Libertarian Party platform is to privatize health care. Could you elaborate on that?
My father is a paramedic and I have seen first-hand how horrendous the health care system is, waiting eight hours to be able to access a doctor, considering the amount of money we pay for health care. We have some of the highest medical costs and we have a very low quality of care.
A lot of doctors agree that having a private sector would reduce wait times and people could access better care generally. People who wanted to pay for private health care could have that option, and nothing would be taken from the public systems but wait times would go down.
The Libertarian platform says it would increase personal tax exemption and radically reduce taxes. How would you do that?
The plan is to increase tax exemptions to $17,000 and the party is very against corporate welfare. We would end all forms of corporate welfare and corporations would be taxed accordingly. We would end subsidies, bailouts and tax breaks.
How will you approach campaigning?
I have a full plate. I am a mother and a small business owner, and have very limited resources. This is the first time a Libertarian has run in this riding. It will be a grass roots campaign. I will use social media as much as I can and attend debates.