NNSL Photo/Graphic

Home page text size buttonsbigger textsmall textText size Email this articleE-mail this page

Early election call leaves some parties scrambling to choose NWT candidates
NWT Liberals rush to pick candidate after Harper goes to Governer General to dissolve government Aug. 2

John McFadden
Northern News Services
Monday, August 10, 2015

Some political parties in the NWT were a little more ready than others as the writ dropped on Aug. 2, starting an 11-week federal election campaign which culminates with the vote on Oct. 19.

On Aug. 6 it was announced that Dennis Bevington will not have to go through the formality of a nomination meeting and has been declared the NDP's candidate in the Northwest Territories.

Bevington said he thinks the early election call will hurt the Conservatives where it matters most - the ballot box.

"I think it's going to backfire on (Harper). I think Canadians will be disgusted by an 80-day campaign and they're going to punish them for it," Bevington said. "Our normal election campaign it about 37 days so they have more than doubled it."

Bevington said he does not know what the actual motives were for Harper's early election call but suspects it boils down to one thing - money. After nine years in power the Conservatives have more of it than the other parties.

"Because they have a bigger war chest for election expenses they can spend more money. The longer the election is ... so they will be able to spend almost double what they would normally spend over a normal campaign," said Bevington. "They'll be able to saturate the airwaves with advertising. It's going to really turn people off, this sort of manipulation of the democratic system."

Bevington said a long election campaign has backfired on the ruling party once before and thinks it will happen again.

"I went through a 56-day campaign over Christmas in 2005-06 and that was a very long and difficult campaign and the people who called that campaign - the Liberals - lost out very badly in the end," he said.

The Conservatives do have their candidate in place in the NWT - Inuvik Mayor Floyd Roland. He had not responded to questions about the early election call as of press time.

The Liberal Party of the NWT was to choose its candidate Aug 8 at 11 nomination meetings held simulatneously across the territory.

Former MLA Michael McLeod and former Yellowknife city councillor Gail Cyr were the two candidates in the running. A winner had not been declared as of press time.

Kieron Testart, spokesperson for the NWT Federal Liberal Association said they were making sure Liberal voices from across the territory would be heard on the nomination.

"The polls will be held throughout all communities that have active (Liberal) members. There are some communities that will have satellite polls so there close enough to larger centres that people will be able to reach the polls on Saturday night. They (the satellite polls) were based on the approximate amount of members in each community. The party is ensuring that every member has a right to vote and to have their say on who their candidate is," Testart said.

He said he could not disclose exactly how many NWT Liberal members are eligible to vote but said it is "several hundred." Testart added that it is his understanding that the nomination meeting was moved up after Harper confirmed the election date on Aug. 2, kicking off the 11 week campaign.

Former territorial government worker Bob Stewart who has just opened the Kilt and Castle pub in downtown Yellowknife has announced he will be running for the Libertarian Party. Like the party itself, Stewart said that he will be advocating for lower taxes and less government.

"I needed to do something because I didn't like the way politics was going ... there needed to be an option to higher taxes and wasteful social programs. The Libertarian party was a natural fit for me," Stewart said.

The Green Party of Canada assured News/North last month that they would have a candidate running in the NWT but none had been announced as of press time.

In an e-mail, spokesperson Kirsten Strom stated, "The nomination process in the NWT is ongoing. The Green Party will run candidates in all 338 ridings."

E-mailWe welcome your opinions. Click here to e-mail a letter to the editor.