An independent campaign
Firth blazing the campaign trail alone

by Mark Sproxton
Northern News Services

NNSL (May 12/97) - Fort McPherson's Wally Firth has taken the role of an independent candidate literally.

Using a truck, telephone, the mail and little else, the former member of Parliament for the NWT is essentially a one-man candidate and campaign.

"I have friends I talk things over with, but basically do everything myself," he said. "There's no money."

But lacking the deep pockets and volunteer base of some other Western Arctic candidates means nothing to this determined 60-year-old.

"I would like to have the resources to travel and be able to communicate better, but I've never known if the signs have done anything for a candidate," he said.

"Buildings and trees don't vote."

Instead, Firth will rely on his performance at all-candidate forums and one-on-one meetings to garner support as the lone independent candidate in the West.

"I find I'm generally well-received," said the former CBC broadcaster. "Because I don't hold any big (corporate) positions, I'm more of a grassroots, average voter type of candidate."

Firth, who was defeated for the NDP nomination last month, said he was determined to run because he saw issues need to be addressed and had received many calls of support.

Two issues he believes need close examination are the gun control legislation and closing the gap between the haves and the have nots.

"Gun control was a terrible piece of legislation, an attack on Northern people," he said. "I can't imagine an MP of the NWT voting for that."

And as for the rich and poor in the North, Firth believes the federal government has to do more to create jobs or help jobs be created.

"You go to any town in the NWT and there are so many people with their hands out asking for money," he said. "Those are two of the things that made me want to go and fight."