Trying for the threepeat
Blondin-Andrew has yet to lose.

by Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

NNSL (May 30/97) - The most money, experience and connections -- Ethel Blondin-Andrew appears to have it all in her third federal election campaign.

Being able to speak to Dogrib and Slavey voters in their own language is another significant edge she has on her four challengers.

Blondin-Andrew has campaigned on her track record and that of her party, which last election swept the Progressive Conservatives from office in the most humiliating election defeat in Canadian history.

A battery of statistics highlighting the Liberal record has been used to court voters. The ones on which she relies the most deal with slashing of the deficit from $40 billion to $9.6 billion in three and a half years.

As secretary of state for training and youth, Blondin-Andrew is a loyal Liberal, and she frequently reminds Northerners she has the inside connections to most effectively promote their interests.

Blondin-Andrew's disdain for the media is no secret, but that disdain has been directed during this campaign to others. At an all-candidates meeting in Inuvik she called one questioner "pathetic," and has responded to other critical questioners with sarcasm.

That same loyalty, particularly her support of the new gun control act, has also caused some to question her loyalty to the North.

Defending her support of an act many see as infringing on the inherent rights of aboriginal peoples, Blondin-Andrew said early in the campaign that she had to choose between the Northern position on gun control and the influence that comes with being a secretary of state.

Later, however, she switched to a defence of the act's merits, arguing that women demanded it as a form or protection from violence.

She also said she worked hard behind the scenes to make changes to the act that brought the act in line with Northern realities.

In her Western Arctic platform, Blondin-Andrew outlines 21 economic, environmental, social and cultural goals she will work to achieve if re-elected.

Among the more ambitious are the settlement of outstanding land claims and self-government negotiations, creating conditions that promote private-sector job- creation, teaming up with the territorial government to address alcohol and drug abuse, and enhanced monitoring environmental changes and pollution in the North.