By Charlie Senack
Tyler Watt has been acclaimed as the Ontario Liberal Party candidate for the 2022 provincial election, and is getting ready to go up against longtime area MPP Lisa MacLeod.
The 30-year-old was born and raised in Nepean and attended Trent University in Peterborough for biology before attending a school in Kingston to get his nursing degree.
Watt currently works as a full-time registered nurse at a hospital in Nepean and on his days off is administering COVID-19 vaccines with the City of Ottawa.
The young nurse says he got the itch for politics after the Ontario Progressive Conservatives won a majority government under the hands of Doug Ford in 2018. Not agreeing with the policies coming out of Queens Park, Watt says he wanted to use his young voice to create change.
“I was never really involved in politics beforehand. I paid attention but I never really felt a need to be overly vocal,” said Watt. “It wasn’t until Ford came in and started cutting things away from Ontarians that I got involved.”
Watt, an open member of the LGBTQ+ community, has walked with the Ontario Liberal Party in pride parades and also worked at Queens Park under a summer internship with former Education Minister Mitzi Hunter.
More recently, Watt has been standing on the picket lines for both the autism funding and education cut movements.
In the previous 2018 provincial election, the Nepean Liberals came in third place with 10,383 votes — 19.61 per cent of the vote with Lovina Srivastava as their candidate. In 2014, Nepean Liberal candidate Jack Uppal received 21,974 votes — equaling 33.26 per cent of the vote.
Incumbent Progresive Conservative candidate Lisa MacLeod has been in office for 15 years now — a record for the Nepean riding. In 2018 she won at every poll in the riding.
Watt admits it will be a tough election but feels change is on the horizon. He says Ontarians have been disappointed with the actions of the Ford government — especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think a lot of the province is having buyers remorse with Premier Doug Ford and his government. We have seen how detrimental and disruptive they have been since winning a majority back in 2018,” said Watt. “Although Minister Lisa MacLeod has been the representative for 15 yeas now, this is the first time that Minister MacLeod has actually had to be in government.
“It’s a lot easier to be in opposition and complaining about what the government of the day is doing,” he added. “She now has a record to run on and that record is cruel, that record is inhumane. She is personally responsible for destroying the Ontario autism program and that is one of the many reasons why I am running.”
As a nurse and now through administering vaccines, Watt has been working on the front lines since the COVID-19 pandemic began. He says the government has been all about half measures and has had a delayed response in implementing new restrictions. Watt says he’s able to offer a unique option on the situation given the many hats he has worn.
“My whole experience throughout the pandemic with how the province has been handling it has not been positive,” he said. “I was actually working in a long-term care home when the pandemic first hit and I watched the province fail to protect our most vulnerable seniors in long-term care as well as the healthcare providers working there.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep people apart, election campaigning has also had to pivot into the virtual world. For now at least, door knocking is off the table and events are all cancelled, leaving few alternatives to connect with potential voters. Watt says he has made thousands of calls and is joining as many zoom events as possible to get his name out there.
“We have transitioned to this new virtual version of campaigning and it’s very different for everyone — including politicians who have done this before,” he said. “In a sense it’s good because you can reach more people quickly from going from one Zoom event to the next all from your computer.”
The Liberal nomination for Nepean originally went to Shah Bahauddin, who had to resign as candidate 10 days later, citing personal reasons. As Watt was the only other registered name on the ballot, he was acclaimed into the position.
Watt has an active social media presence with over 22,500 followers on Twitter, a popularity that has grown since first becoming passionate about politics. A post on Twitter announcing his candidacy also received over 150 comments of support and over 330 retweets.
Bringing his work and life experience to the table, Watt hopes voters will see what he can bring to Queens Park if elected as Nepean’s next MPP.
“With nursing, which I love with all my heart, I got to make a positive difference in people’s lives day to day whether it be with my patients of their families,” said Watt. “I want to bring that to the next level and do that for society and the province at Queens Park.”