Kakfwi versus Antoine
Two MLAs go for premier's job

Arthur Milnes
Northern News Services

NNSL (Dec 09/98) - As of now, it's a two-horse race.

By Tuesday afternoon, only cabinet ministers Jim Antoine and Stephen Kakfwi had publicly announced their intentions to run for the NWT's top job when MLAs gather tomorrow to choose a premier.

"I am offering my services to you and to the people of the Northwest Territories because I believe, and am concerned about, the institution of government," he said in a statement. "My leadership is proven and my experience is extensive. Most importantly, I have never been afraid to tell you where I stand on any issue and to explain my reasons for the positions I have taken."

A veteran of Dene politics, Kakfwi has served in the legislature since 1987 and is currently minister of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development.

Kakfwi said the role of premier will be critical in the final months before the division of the NWT.

"We require stability, continuity and strong, decisive leadership," he said. "And we need to quickly restore public confidence and revitalize our public service."

Antoine made his announcement Tuesday.

"I have made the very important decision to let my name stand for the position of premier," he said in the assembly. "...With me, what you see is what you get...I have no hidden agendas (and) respect for all points of view."

Antoine, who is MLA for Nahendeh and minister of Transportation, Aboriginal Affairs and Public Works and Services, is also a veteran of Dene politics. He served three-terms as chief of the Liidlii Kue First Nation in Fort Simpson and assisted in the development of the Deh Cho Regional Council and what is now the Deh Cho First Nations.

He was first elected a MLA in 1991 and acclaimed in 1995.

Antoine pointed to his knowledge of all parts of the North, his experience, honour and integrity when making his announcement.

Education Minister Charles Dent announced Tuesday he would not be putting his name forward. He did, however, say he's been flattered by the support offered to him should he seek the premiership from fellow MLAs and members of the public at large.

The assembly's leadership committee begins meeting at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow.

Goo Arlootkoo has served as acting premier since Don Morin's resignation after the tabling of Conflict of Interest Commissioner Anne Crawford's report on his activities.