Watson Lake is one of the Yukon’s oldest ridings. It contains the communities of Watson Lake and Upper Liard, and is situated on the traditional territory of the Ross River Dena Council and Liard First Nation.
It it bordered to the east and south by N.W.T. and B.C., and bordered to the west by the Pelly-Nisutlin riding.
Watson Lake has voted blue in every election since 2002. Before incumbent Patti McLeod took the seat in 2011, former premier Dennis Fentie was Watson Lake’s MLA for 11 years.
McLeod won the seat by 80 votes in 2016.
Watson Lake’s NDP candidate dropped out of the race late last month after a number of controversial tweets were leaked to the media.
There are now only two candidates running in this riding. They have been profiled in alphabetical order.
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Amanda Brown – Yukon Liberal Party
Amanda Brown is a Kaska member of the Liard First Nation, born and raised in Watson Lake. Brown works at the Watson Lake Community Hospital developing a First Nation health program and is an elected councillor for the Liard First Nation.
She also sits on the Watson Lake Community Hospital Wellness Committee and is trained in non-violent crisis intervention, historical trauma and traditional family parenting.
She is running in this election with focus on community engagement and collaboration.
“I am running for the MLA position because I believe everyone deserves a voice,” Brown said. “As an active member in the community, it concerned me that in the time I have been in Watson Lake, in my roles within the community, I have not met our local MLA representative.”
Brown’s priorities in this election are housing, care for seniors and First Nation collaboration.
“I see aging in place as a high need in our community,” she said. “And that commitment to strong partnerships with First Nations is key.”
In her role as councillor, Brown said she has seen first-hand the power of collaboration between all levels of government.
Brown opted to run for the Liberal Party because she was inspired by the roster of candidates, she said.
“I look at their leadership and who they are as individuals, and who they are as a team. Having the opportunity to be at the table with them, I knew right away — after I consulted with my community — that I had an opportunity to learn and contribute to the team.”
Brown said she feels well-suited to serve Watson Lake because of her deep-rooted connection to the constituency.
“I know that I’m dedicated and passionate to do what is needed to best fit the needs of the community,” Brown said.
Patti McLeod – Yukon Party
Patti McLeod is the incumbent candidate in Watson Lake. She has served two terms and was initially elected in 2011.
In her last term, McLeod served as Opposition Critic for health and social services, housing, land development, French language services and the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Board.
In the term previous, McLeod was the first woman elected speaker of the legislative assembly. Prior to her election, McLeod worked in mining administration for the territorial and federal governments. She served on Watson Lake town council from 2006 to 2009 and served on the boards of Yukon College and several other organizations.
McLeod said she hopes to contribute to Watson Lake’s renaissance post-pandemic.
“I would like to see some greater economic activity and opportunities here,” she said. “Primarily the forestry industry — we have great timber here and some good potential to put lots of folks to work with all skill levels.”
Housing is another priority for McLeod in this election, as well as care for seniors.
“There’s a need for repairs, and we see a lot of seniors who are unable to make repairs to their home. They’re just not sure where to turn — they don’t have too many options.”
McLeod would also like to see more medical support in Watson Lake, like dentistry and physiotherapy, as well as an economic revival.
“There’s obviously been a slow-down in the economy, we’ve lost a couple of businesses, so your shopping options are a lot less here. There’s concern over food prices, and some competition might alleviate that,” she said.
McLeod said she believes the Yukon Party did a good job of holding the Liberal government to account in the previous term.
“I have appreciated Watson Lake’s support in the past and I encourage people to get out to the polls and vote, and we’ll see where we are at the end of the day,” McLeod said.