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Elections 2011
Nobody is interested in the same 'old, same old'

Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison,Paul Bickford and Katherine Hudson
Northern News Services
Published Monday, September 26, 2011

From housing and health care to education and sustainability, there's no shortage of issues for candidates to champion in this election campaign, but some NWT residents say they haven't been hearing from them often enough.

NNSL photo/graphic

Former NWT premier Joe Handley gets a laugh as the paper flies during the last session of the 15th legislative assembly in Yellowknife. Voters will go to the polls on Oct. 3 to elect representatives to the 17th legislative assembly. - NNSL file photo

Jean Gruben, who is chair of the Tuktoyaktuk Elders' Committee, said it's the same story in Nanakput, her electoral district.

"I don't really know what's gong on with the election. I haven't seen much signs and I haven't heard much," she said.

Ryan McAlpine, a Yellowknife resident, said "I'm a little bit disappointed because people aren't in the know and can't really inform themselves correctly. Candidates doing more, more public hearings would help. More information out there that's easily accessible to the public,"

In Nanakput, which encompasses Sachs Harbour, Ulukhaktok, Paulatuk and Tuktoyaktuk, incumbent Jackie Jacobson is facing off against Eddie Dillon.

"They're both strong candidates. I'm going to vote. I'm going to see who's the best person who can try to bring all our concerns to our leaders," she said.

Gruben said she hasn't heard of any scheduled all-candidates meetings and wishes there was a way voters could interact with candidates. She said there's no other way to know if her main concern - an Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk highway - will be addressed in the legislative assembly.

"I'm 68 now and I'm still asking the same questions as when I was 20, 25. It is slow progress and as you get older you kind of sit back and listen," she said.

Amy Mercredi of Enterprise said she finds the election in Deh Cho to be a very low-key affair.

She noted she goes to coffee shops in the morning in Enterprise or Hay River and the talk often turns to the races in Hay River and Thebacha.

"But we don't talk about the one in the Deh Cho," she said.

Mercredi said the two issues most important to her are devolution and land settlements, and that the election is as important as ever because change is needed in the territorial government.

"We need somebody to take the reins on our finances in the government," she said.

However, Mercredi said she is pleased with the number of female candidates throughout the NWT, although in her own riding of Deh Cho there are just two male candidates - incumbent Michael McLeod and Michael Nadli.

"I'm really glad to see quite a few more women run and I hope they all win, because we need some change in there," she said. "We need some women in there."

In Hay River North, Jackie Milne, acting president of the Territorial Farmers Association, believes a concentration on sustainable development of fisheries, forestry and agriculture, and how that would generate jobs, would increase interest in the election.

"People only want to be interested in something they believe in," she said. "Nobody is interested in the same old, same old."

Milne said three other major issues are funding for education, health care and caring for people with low incomes

"Those will always be issues," she said. "The way that we can guarantee that we have the funds to do that is to generate money locally from renewable resources."

Milne said this election is important to get the right people in place, because the problems facing the NWT are serious.

She noted there is an intense race going on in Hay River North where there is no incumbent, as former MLA Paul Delorey is not seeking re-election.

"I noticed a little heightened competition amongst the candidates," she said.

Ib Kristensen, a well-known senior in Fort Smith, said the election campaigns in Thebacha seem to be low-key.

"People don't really talk that much about it," he said, adding they may feel there really isn't anything to be excited about.

In Inuvik Boot Lake, where four candidates are vying for Floyd Roland's old riding, signs are posted in stores around town, but one resident, who asked not to be named, said the candidates themselves have been hard to find.

"If you want to win, you've got to get out and talk to people. You can't just write about yourself," he said.

Loreen Lambert, a member of the Yellowknife Seniors' Society, said she doesn't pay much attention to the campaigns and figures what candidates do is more important than what they say.

"They make promises and then find that they can't keep them. It's not really important to me about the campaign. It's getting them out and getting them seen that's the main thing as far as campaigning goes - So people can put a face to a name," she said.

"I'm glad that new people are coming out because there's always new points of view and perhaps something could change."

Lillian Crook, chair of the Hay River Council for Persons with Disabilities, is a voter in Hay River South and said she expects a close race in many ridings across the territory.

"I think there's a lot of interest," she said, but admitted that, personally, she doesn't find elections very exciting.

"I think elections are elections and, to me, it's a formality that they have to do every once in a while," she said, noting some candidates may promise new things, but once they get elected it's the same old, same old.

"The only reason I know who's running is because I know everybody," she said.

In the territory's capital, John Schnell lives in Northland Trailer Park, where deteriorating infrastructure dating back as the 1970s has been causing the 1,100 residents concern for years.

In his opinion, candidates have been getting out in the community enough, but the problem is voters aren't taking the time to listen and interact with them.

"There's probably not that much interest. I went to one of the candidates' forums ... and I didn't see too many people there. I think there were maybe a dozen there. That's about it, not a great turnout," he said.

"I'm looking for a candidate that will adequately look after infrastructure. I haven't studied what all of the candidates have said specifically, but there are only one or two who have mentioned it."

He said he's noticed new faces coming forward in a few of the Yellowknife ridings, meaning the desire for change could be in the air.

"They could be dissatisfied with what's happened before and might have new solutions," he said.

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