Local business owner Wayne Cousins has announced he’s seeking the Yukon Party nomination in Riverdale South during this year’s territorial election.
Cousins said the Yukon Party is the best choice for Yukoners in the coming election, because the party will continue to build on existing relationships and commitments.
“I think change terrifies people,” he said. “I think change is unsettling. I think change causes disruption.”
He said the Yukon Party’s experience in government means it’s best-placed to move forward with issues that include mending relationships with First Nations, improving mining regulations and building the Whistle Bend continuing care facility.
“I truthfully believe in having relationships that are fostered over time,” he said. “If there was to be a change of the government, I believe it would take at least a year for anything to go forward.”
Cousins is a fourth-generation Yukoner. He said his grandfather successfully ran for city council in the 1960s, and his father built the Cousins airstrip along the Alaska Highway.
He grew up in Riverdale and went to school there, as have two of his three children.
“I want to be able to provide for the people of Riverdale and their families,” he said.
Cousins has been a small-business owner in Whitehorse for 35 years. His current company, 40 Below Food & Snacks, is a delivery and distribution company that provides snack foods to local grocery stores and other retailers.
He said his business has been affected by the recent downturn in the mining industry, since “people buy snack foods with discretionary income, not primary income.”
He believes the government could help promote economic diversity in the Yukon, including the information technology sector, which could reduce the impact of low metal prices on the territory’s economy.
“There must be some incentive that we could provide to business people … to come to the Yukon,” he said.
Cousins said he’d like to see the Yukon’s population grow and local businesses flourish, so that his children would feel proud to settle here.
The Yukon government has been criticized for not providing enough support to local businesses. But Cousins said he remembers businesses struggling under previous Liberal and NDP governments.
“Both of those times were tough for small businesses when they were at the helm,” he said. “That is a fact.”
Cousins said he’s been a member of the Yukon Party for 15 or 20 years, and is currently a member of the board.
He is also the chair of the Yukon Liquor Board, a position he said he’s held for about 12 years.
Riverdale South is currently held by NDP MLA Jan Stick, who is running for re-election. The Liberals have yet to announce a potential candidate in the riding. Cousins said he doesn’t know if his nomination bid will be contested.
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