Last November’s territorial election played out like a game-changer, with longtime Northern political fixtures toppled from power, in some cases by the slimmest of margins.
While we wait for the shape of the 18th assembly to crystallize, EDGE got to wondering about some of those prominent figures who had been toppled, and what they are up to post-politics. It’s a mixed bag, it turns out, with some still figuring out what’s next, and others striding straight into consultancy opportunities with their former employer.
“People don’t realize the rollercoaster ride that’s politics. If you lose elections, what’s next? You don’t plan on losing,” says Daryl Dolynny. “I’ve had to polish my resume in the first time for a long time.”
The pharmacist and former owner of Shoppers Drug Mart (he transferred ownership to his wife after being elected in 2011) still has up-to-date pharmacy credentials, but he isn’t planning to return to the dispensary, at least for the time being.
He’s met with several individuals and groups, but an obvious post-political path hasn’t revealed itself as yet.
“People have this fallacy that you get a series of calls as soon as the election is over. That might be for some, but it hasn’t been the case with me. Maybe it would be different if I was a multiple-term MLA with a minister's portfolio.”
That said, his time in politics did allow him to travel and meet many of the territory’s movers and shakers, and he was “fairly well-known and well-connected in the private sector before politics.”
“My goal right now is to find that perfect fit for organizations, whether private or NGO or others,” he says. “It’s always nice to say I want a job a tomorrow… but I want to make sure my next steps are right.”
After 20 years spent as one of the longest-serving MLAs in NWT history, former Hay River South MLA Jane Groenewegen says the dust has yet to settle following last November’s election.
“There’s a lot of moving to do,” she says, from her Yellowknife apartment, constituency office, campaign office and office at the legislature.
“Twenty years of attending every event, the photos, the files that need to be shredded — the wind-up is tremendous,” she says, “but I’m working on it.”
Always an active volunteer, Groenewegen confirmed in her concession remarks following the election that she would continue to be “very involved in what’s going on in Hay River.”
Since then, she’s attended a few meetings but said she hasn’t settled on anything yet. Rather, she says she’s been quite occupied with tying up loose ends from many things put on the backburner over her last session as MLA and the campaign period, including the extensive real estate she owns in the community, from residential rentals to commercial properties like the local Driftwood Diner.
“The field is wide open, but the dust has yet to settle for me,” she says. “When it does, I will have the same old inspiration and enthusiasm back. But right now, it’s still mop-up time.”
“It was shocking. I didn’t see it coming but I had to get over it quickly. I’ve got a family to support and a life to live” - Dave Ramsay
Whether it’s consulting, property ownership or setting up shop, the only thing we know about former Yellowknife Centre MLA Robert Hawkins’ future is that it’s going to involve him running his own business.
Hawkins has so far declined to reveal more information about his recent Twitter announcement from Jan. 14: “I've decided to start a business and see where the next steps take me.”
Hawkins, who has a background in engineering, served as MLA of the downtown riding for two terms beginning in 2003 and was previously an Alderman on Yellowknife’s city council.
Former Speaker Jackie Jacobson lost his seat in the Nunakput district to challenger Herb Nakimayak by a razor-thin four-vote margin .
Jacobson, who started his political career as mayor of Tuktoyaktuk, was a prominent supporter of the Inuvik-Tuk highway project. He recently ran as one of five candidates for chairperson of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation after longtime chair Nellie Cournoyea stepped down. He was unsuccessful, trailing in the pack behind victor Duane Smith, president of Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada.
Jacobson did not respond to EDGE’s request for an interview about his future plans.
Former MLA Kevin Menicoche was ousted last election in his riding of Nahendeh, where a formidable slate of seven candidates vied for the seat representing much of the Dehcho region.
Originally elected in 2003 after beating another seven candidates, he served two terms — first as Minister of Transportation and the Public Utilities Board, and then as a regular member.
Following November’s big election of change, Menicoche says he is still figuring out what his next steps will be.
“I am still undecided,” he says. “If anything, I will return to school this fall.”
Menicoche, 54, said he is still researching schools, but plans to study Business Management. He lives in Fort Simpson with his spouse and step-daughter.
Coming in just short of achieving a record sixth term in the legislature hasn’t slowed down former Thebacha MLA Michael Miltenberger’s work on his portfolios of choice.
The outgoing minister of Environment and Natural Resources has set up his own one-man consulting company based out of Fort Smith.
Under the business name North Raven, Miltenberger is still working alongside the GNWT’s top negotiator Merrell-Ann Phare on the transboundary water file, and sharing ideas with the new Liberal government on ways to improve land claims and protected areas negotiations.
“With the new government, it’s like a renaissance,” Miltenberger says. “So I’m doing what I can, chit-chatting with the federal government, meeting with folks.”
Although Dave Ramsay’s defeat by newcomer Kieron Testart was perhaps the most unexpected outcome on election night, the former ITI and Justice minister seems to have hit the post-political ground running.
“It was shocking. I didn’t see it coming but I had to get over it quickly. I’ve got a family to support and a life to live,” he says.
He’s set up a consulting company, Ramsay Consulting Services, or RCS Ltd., and has “a couple clients already.”
“It’s mostly around mining and oil and gas,” he says, adding that he’s planning to work with both First Nations groups and industry folks in the Yukon and Nunavut as well as in the NWT. “Right now things are pretty flat, but there are some opportunities; bring the right people together and we can make things happens.”
“In my former role as minister, growing the economy was my focus. In the new role I’m also trying to get some investment into the economy.”