Liberals plan Cadillac of western campaigns
$100,000 campaign more than double the dollars of NDP

by Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

NNSL (Apr 30/97) - Money may not always talk in the North, but if you're an electoral candidate you need plenty of it to reach out and touch prospective voters.

Northern voters are spread farther apart than in any other part of Canada and the only way to get to most communities -- especially during spring breakup -- is by air.

"It's extremely expensive to get into all of the communities," noted Lynda Sorensen, campaign manager for Ethel Blondin-Andrew.

Blondin-Andrew will be spending the biggest bucks this spring, in an attempt to secure her third consecutive term as member of Parliament for the Western Arctic.

"It's about a $100,000 campaign," said Sorensen, adding that figure is based on spending $40,000 on transportation to reach all Western Arctic communities.

"I wish they'd spend that money on creating jobs," said NDP candidate Mary Beth Levan.

Levan said she would be content to have half of what the Liberals are spending, pointing out NDP candidates, unlike Liberals and Conservatives, do not accept large corporate donations.

NWT Tories have not selected a candidate. Though others have indicated an interest, so far Bob Dowdall is the only person committed to running. The Reform Party, meanwhile, is holding its nomination meeting tonight at the Polar Bowl.

Wally Firth, of Fort McPherson, will be running as an independent after losing out to Levan for the NDP candidacy.

The Liberal road show got moving one day after the June 2 election was called.

Blondin-Andrew started campaigning door-to-door in Yellowknife Monday, flew to Hay River Tuesday morning to do the same there, and was scheduled to visit Enterprise and Kakisa today. Tomorrow she flies to Fort Providence.

The Liberals hosted a $150 per plate nomination soiree April 5 that attracted 110 people. Last week in Toronto, friends of Blondin-Andrew threw a reception that brought in another $15,000.

Sorensen said $8,000 left over from the last campaign was placed in a trust account. It has been supplemented by revenue raised at three major Liberal dinners since then.

Liberal coffers are also supplemented by Western Arctic Liberal Association membership fees of $10 each annually.

In 1993 Blondin-Andrew spent $71,737, 54 per cent more than the next biggest spender in the race for the Western Arctic seat. With that money she visited all but two communities during the 47-day campaign.

This year's campaign lasts only 36 days thanks to a new election law.