NDP candidate vows to stick up for North
Gun control, transfer-payment cuts and hotdogs highlight campaign

by P.J. Harston
Northern News Services

NNSL (May 30/97) - New Democrat Mary Beth Levan, the only Western Arctic candidate who had to fight for her party's nomination, has pushed most of the right buttons throughout her campaign.

After fending off a nomination bid from Wally Firth, who is now running as an independent, Levan's first official comment rang strong and clear: "NDPers are the only ones to stand up for Northern interests in Parliament," the 15-year Yellowknife resident said.

Setting up one of the Western Arctic's slickest campaigns -- second only to the $100,000 Liberal machine -- Levan and her team stuck to the issues and gained momentum at almost every turn.

"I was quite impressed with (Mary Beth) Levan," said one undecided voter following a mid-May all-candidates meeting in Yellowknife.

And one decided voter said, "My mind was made up. I was going to vote for the candidate and I was glad to see she was as strong as she was."

Early in the campaign, Levan came out swinging against Liberal incumbent Ethel Blondin-Andrew.

She said Blondin-Andrew had forsaken Northerners for her party on such issues as gun control, cuts to the CBC and transfer payment cuts to the Northwest Territories.

"What I'd like to know is why Ethel didn't speak up for Northerners," said Levan.

However, she also added some levity to the campaign, selling Liberal, Reform, Independent, Tory and NDP hotdogs at a garage sale last weekend, with funds going to the Yellowknife Womens' Centre.

The 25-year party member and three-year president of the Western Arctic NDP party has operated a psychological and educational consulting company in Yellowknife for the past 14 years.

If elected, she vows to take the North to Ottawa, not bring Ottawa to the North.

"We need to have representation where Western Arctic people are represented in Parliament and not the other way around," she said in late April during the NDP nomination meeting.

"I feel we've kind of had representation of Ottawa to us."