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We need to talk about your obsession

LETTERS - The Government of Yukon is infallible and obsessed with sex

The Government of Yukon claims this poster from 2016 intended to convey the act of penile penetration alongside an image of an infant saying "Even me!" and women of different ages.

Dear Editors;

The Government of Yukon is obsessed with sex. We need to talk about that and figure out what it means.

Back in 2016, the Government of Yukon (GY) made us Yukoners an international laughing stock when they launched a marketing campaign that inadvertently asked people if they had been penetrated by a penis in order to remind people to take Vitamin D. It was clearly a mistake to use the term "the D" in the campaign and the world knew it. Like a lot of people, I saw the funny side, but I could never quite shake off my discomfort at the government's defence of the campaign.

When GY was ridiculed for the expensive gaffe, it responded by quickly removing the sexual reference from the campaign but it was unwilling to acknowledge it had made a mistake. A spokesperson for the government told the media that the penis idea was intentional and that GY "often reaches for provocative and humorous messaging, to great success."

What was really fucked up about this defence is that GY believed it was better for them to pretend that they actually meant for people to imagine entire families, including infants, 'getting the D,' rather than simply acknowledge they had made a mistake.

Because of how the local Yukon media and government officials joked about the campaign at the time, I felt alone in my disgust at the gross suggestions made in GY's official defence statement. I felt like a prude for not laughing more and I kept my revulsion to myself.

Fast forward five years to the global pandemic and my government's response to it. The public health campaign is different but the people behind it are not. It's the same MLAs, the same Chief Medical Officer of health, the same deputy minister, the same spokespeople.

It is slowly dawning on me that this government is incapable of admitting when it makes a mistake. The senior officials want me to believe their line of "we're just one of you, we're in this together" but I'm not buying it, not any more.

If you, dear government officials, were really like me and every other Yukoner who you say you represent, then you would be able to acknowledge the reality that everybody makes mistakes. Not being able to acknowledge mistakes doesn't just cause deep offence as with your disgusting defence of the vitamin D campaign, it's also a sure sign of bad leadership. By constantly going on the defensive and denying mistakes rather than acknowledging them, by asking Yukoners to believe you are infallible, you are showing yourselves to be unworthy of my trust.

A little over a week ago, you knew that my child's daycare was a COVID-19 exposure site but you didn't inform me. You didn't ask the daycare to inform me. You didn't protect the daycare workers, you didn't protect the children, you didn't protect the extended families of the children, some of whom were particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. You protected yourself and your poor decision-making. You sat on the data and acted like it's your data to decide what to do with.

Then when you were questioned by the media on the daycare debacle, you gave a laughably long-winded response that once again sought to defend your mistakes as opposed to acknowledge them. You defended the actions of your MLAs and senior civil servants by asking us to empathize with the hard working regular employees at Yukon Communicable Disease Control, as if they had anything to do with your lousy decision-making.

MLA Richard Mostyn did the same thing last summer with the Alaska Highway upgrades. He fucked up on that project so much that he was constantly being criticized by opposition parties and regular Yukoners. Rather than admit shortcomings, he made out to the media that anyone criticizing him is actually criticizing the regular construction workers. It's a dirty trick that this government seems to love playing on us.

When I saw the name of the spokesperson who delivered your long-winded excuse about the daycares to the media, I was immediately transported back to the vitamin D campaign of 2016. I had a moment of realization. This is the same spokesperson. This is what you have always done. You have always defended your mistakes, no matter what, and when it comes to your handling of the pandemic, you are just doing what you've always done. The big difference between 2016 and 2021 is that the danger presented by your culture of "we can't be wrong, ever" is putting all of us at risk.

As early as March 2021, former tourism minister Jeanie McLean was Tweeting about how "a re-elected Liberal government will launch the Great Yukon Summer Campaign." She and her colleagues didn't care how COVID might look by summertime 2021. They only cared about making promises that would help them get re-elected, no matter the cost to public health.

Well, they kept their promise and along with the NDP, they launched the Great Yukon Summer campaign a few weeks ago, right after they removed the same COVID restrictions that had been keeping us all safe. The result? The Yukon now has the accolade of 'most cases per capita in Canada.' This is inexcusable for a territory with enormous wealth, a small population, and no major international ports, airports or trade centres.

Since the outbreak, all of the Great Yukon Summer ads have disappeared from my social media accounts. Both the former tourism minister Jeanie McLean and the new tourism minister Ranj Pillai have fallen silent. No longer do they Tweet about their great campaign.

Clearly, the campaign was a terribly-expensive and just terrible idea. Not only is the government not talking about the campaign anymore but Premier Sandy Silver has denied any link between the loosening of restrictions to facilitate the campaign and the current COVID-19 outbreak, despite the perfect coincidence of timing.

So why do we still listen to GY anyway? I for one am turning my attention to how First Nations are handling the pandemic. Indigenous people in Canada are, sadly, far better qualified to handle epidemics because they have lived through so many. They are the ones who have truly suffered the consequences of prevailing colonial attitudes in governments and that makes them acutely aware of the potentially devastating impact of COVID-19.

I live in Whitehorse and right now I'm looking to the First Nations around me for guidance. I trust the advice and leadership of First Nations more than the politically-motivated words of Brendan Hanley [Yukon Chief Medical Officer], his communications spokesperson, or the politicians that contracted him to work on their behalf. I will stay tuned into COVID-19 updates but I will no longer listen to the political ramblings and question-dodging that occur twice a week at the government's Facebook Live briefings.

I'm tired of listening to Hanley telling me to "be kind" and "not panic." I'm not a child and I doubt anybody likes being condescended to. You're not my Dad, you're the CMO. So talk to me like I'm an adult. You're sitting on public health data that belongs to all of us, not just you, so please stop spinning it so that we "don't panic." Enough already.

And Jesus H Christ, please stop wth the sexual innuendo! It's so creepy! You're calling your COVID safety measures the "safe six" to encourage us to think about sexual intercourse and now I'm seeing your latest campaigns on my social media accounts telling me that "Yukoners have six appeal" and my children and I should "stick to six."

What is wrong with you GY?! Did this start because someone at a desk had a fetish involving the sexualization of infants and illnesses and everybody in the chain of command above that person just happened to share the same fetish? Seriously, what is wrong with you? Who approves these campaigns?!


Editors' Note: This is an email from a member of the public. It is posted in the Letters section of our website and is not satire. An earlier version of this story included the faces of the people in the government of Yukon's ad image. We welcome and encourage emails, messages and letters. While we can't publish every one we receive, one of our goals is to give voice to as many Yukoners as possible. It is your choice if you want us to publish your name or remain anonymous. (We also welcome tips, documents of public interest and story ideas).

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