On EDGE | Political Opinion
By now, the news has penetrated the Harper bunker: Floyd Roland will not win on Monday. That he never had a chance is due in equal parts to the solid record of Dennis Bevington and the low regard voters have for the prime minister.
The thinking in the Harper tent must have been that Roland would make a presentable prop in a photo-op with the prime minister, one that would persuade voters that the Conservatives see Arctic Canada as something more than a convenient political distraction. Voters were invited to forget the shameful treatment of Armed Forces veterans, legal battles waged against First Nations and the refusal to inquire into missing and murdered aboriginal women. To be fair, there were a couple of positives to Conservatives’ approach to the North: devolution happened under their watch, as did an increase to the Northern Living Allowance (a charge first led by rookie MP Dennis Bevington in 2006), and more transfer funds have come our way, though whether this largesse is something the Cons actively pursued is arguable.
Team Harper was asking voters to see something more in Roland than a former premier whose tenure was made exceptional by a sexual dalliance with a clerk that brought the Legislature into open revolt.
Roland did little to aid his own cause, glibly equating national park hectares with protecting the environment against pollution, action on global warming and carbon emissions. Like Harper, Roland is out of step with Canadian values.
The knock on Bevington, in Roland’s playbook, was that the Northwest Territories missed out on its share of federal spending, because it did not have an MP in Harper’s caucus. That didn’t stop Harper from forcing the Inuvik-to-Tuktoyaktuk all-weather road on a weak-willed territorial government. The sop to Conservative supporters ate up $100 million of scarce territorial funds that would have been better spent on making northern communities less reliant on diesel.
The book on Michael McLeod, from those who worked alongside him during his three terms as the MLA for Deh Cho, was that he is clever, but not inclined to do the hard work and heavy lifting required of an effective representative.
McLeod came late to the campaign and apparently didn’t have to time to inform himself on Liberal Party policies and platform. He was forced to backtrack on spending commitments almost as quickly as he made them.
A longtime teetotaler, he’s uncomfortable with the party’s policy on marijuana, and confused his own opinion with what the majority of Canadians say they want. He would likely have been more comfortable in the Conservative tent.
For someone with less than six months in the Northwest Territories, Green Party candidate John Moore displayed a solid appreciation during public forums of the challenges facing northern residents.
Moore is a worthy candidate for a party that has no chance of forming a government.
Even if the election was to be decided on green issues alone, the nod would go to Bevington. He has been living green and advocating for the environment for longer than Moore and his party have been alive. This, combined with a solid record as the NDP’s pointman on the North for the last nine years, leading debate on Nutrition North, the Northern Living Allowance and other key issues, means he receives my endorsement in Monday’s federal election.