Election season rolls on in the Northwest Territories, with the writ finally in the wind and candidates out on the hustings.
Following the Oct. 30 nomination deadline, 60 candidates had thrown their proverbial hats in the ring across the NWT’s 19 ridings.
The prevailing storyline in the lead-up to the Nov. 23 so far has had more to do with the criminal justice system than politics as Michael Nadli announced he would run again despite serving prison time for spousal assault (see related story page 7).
Nadli will now turn his focus to his three opponents: Ronald Bonnetrouge, Lyle Fabian and Gregory Nyuli.
No acclamation for premier this year
He may have a near ear in Ottawa now, but returning to the local legislature won’t be a cakewalk for Premier Bob McLeod in Yellowknife South this time around as two other contenders, Samuel Roland and Nigit’stil Norbert and have come out of the woodwork to ensure he does not run uncontested as he did in 2011.
The deputy premier, on the other hand, is the only sure bet to return to the 18th Assembly as Jackson Lafferty has been acclaimed in Monfwi.
A number of incumbent MLAs will lock horns in one-on-one battle, including Health and Social Services Minister Glen Abernethy, who will face off with GNWT facility planning consultant Chris Clarke in Great Slave Lake.
Former Arctic Winter Games competitor Jimmy Kalinek hopes to high-kick incumbent Robert C. McLeod, who served as minister of lands, municipal and community affairs and minister responsible for the NWT Housing Corp. in the 17th Assembly, out of his Inuvik-Twin Lakes seat.
In Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh, incumbent and minister of transportation, public works and human resources Tom Beaulieu is running against Richard Edjericon, chair of the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board.
David Ramsay, minister of justice and industry, tourism and investment, will see a challenge in Kam Lake from Kieron Testart, who most recently ran NWT MP Michael McLeod’s successful federal campaign after bowing to him during the Liberal the nomination process.
Among regular MLAs from the last assembly, outspoken Range Lake incumbent Daryl Dolynny will face Caroline Cochrane, the CEO of the Centre for Northern Families, while Desmond Loreen will challenge incumbent Alfred Moses in Inuvik Boot Lake. Robert Hawkins has only one challenger in Yellowknife Centre in Julie Green, a former CBC journalist who has been fundraising for non-profits since 2012.
From there the fields become more crowded as larger groups of candidates square off in other NWT ridings, none more than in Nahendeh, where Kevin Menicoche has attracted six challengers. In Nunakput, Speaker of the House Jackie Jacobsen will have to deal with a different kind of din as one of five candidates in that riding, as will the five newcomers in Yellowknife North.
There are four-way races in Sahtu, where caucus chair Norman Yakeleya retired and cleared the way for Paul Andrew, Yvonne Doolittle, Daniel McNeely and Judy Tutcho, and Mackenzie Delta, where Frederick Blake Jr. is challenged by William Firth, David Krutko and Norman Snowshoe.
There are three-way contests in both Hay River ridings.
In Hay River North, incumbent regular MLA Robert Bouchard is challenged by Karen Felker and Rockey Simpson, while in Hay River South, incumbent Jane Groenewegen is challenged by Hay River Metis Nation president Wally Schumann and Brian Willows, a former COO of the Northwest Territories Power Corporation.
In Thebacha, where incumbent MLA and minister of finance and environment Michael Miltenberger is locked in a three-way race with former Fort Smith deputy mayor and lawyer Lou Sebert and small business owner Don Jaque, publisher of this newspaper.
Keep an eye on the Northern Journal in the coming weeks as we endeavour to bring you a deeper look into each of the 18 races.