Vote For Me, Again: Territorial Incumbents

The 17th Legislative Assembly in action

During the municipal election, a few readers asked why EDGE offered individual profiles of new candidates and only a single combined article on the incumbents. Given the three years incumbents had to build their reputation in the media and with the public, we felt this approach was necessary to  level the playing field and help balance out the immense advantage that incumbency offers.

At the territorial level, this advantage is even more wildly lopsided. A lot of things can be debated about consensus government, but increased incumbent advantage isn’t one of them. It’s a major factor.

Incumbents enjoy name recognition built through four years of steady news coverage in one of the country’s most media-saturated small cities. For additional exposure, these candidates use their established MLA websites (though some are shut down and links posted to their campaign sites, per Elections NWT regulations, which is essentially the same thing) and established social media accounts that change from “Joe Smith MLA” to “Re-elect Joe Smith for MLA” during the campaign.

They also escape the cost/benefit of party association, which means incumbents can often claim problems weren’t their fault while allowing everyone to own the government’s successes. More importantly, it rarely offers a clear way for voters to discern who to blame or credit.

And so, that’s why we’re again offering incumbents an opportunity to outline their achievements and make their case, in their own words, in alphabetical order, in this single article.


Glen Abernethy, Great Slave

Campaign Facebook Page

1) What were your main accomplishments during the last term?

I led the GNWT’s participation in the development of an Anti-Poverty Framework that included a wide variety of stakeholders working on strategies to eliminate poverty in the NWT.

I brought forward Building Stronger Families, An Action Plan to Transform Child and Family Services, which focuses on supporting families and providing them with the tools needed to raise children in a healthy and happy environment.


I led the NWT’s health and social services transformation initiative with a renewed focus on patients and clients. Moving from eight health authorities to one will allow the 18th Assembly to make progressive changes that will positively affect the health and well-being of all NWT residents.

I brought forward a new Mental Health Act which will provide a greater range of supports and services for residents struggling with mental illness.

2) What were things you hoped to accomplish that you didn’t?

Although a significant amount of work has been completed on modernizing and streamlining medical travel in the NWT, few of the changes are obvious at the client level at this point. This work must continue during the 18th Assembly.

I was hoping an agreement on Avens expansion would have been reached. Although a significant amount of work has been done, in close partnership with Avens, a solution for more long-term care beds in Yellowknife has not been reached. I anticipate progress will be made early in the life of the 18th Assembly.

3) What are the main issues you want to tackle if re-elected?

• Development and implementation of a comprehensive youth and adult mental health strategy

• Conclude land-claim negotiations throughout the NWT

• In partnership with the chambers of commerce, create real opportunity and sustainability for small NWT businesses

• Work with stakeholders to identify and implement initiatives to help reduce the cost of living in the NWT

• Work with stakeholders to improve services for people living with disabilities

• Work with stakeholders to address homelessness in Yellowknife and the NWT

• Address increasing demand on long-term care beds in the NWT (Avens expansion)

4) Why should people vote for you again?

Over the last eight years, I have taken action on issues important to residents of the Great Slave riding and the NWT. I could not have been successful without working closely with all MLAs, stakeholders, and community members. This means a commitment to listening to all sides of an issue, answering questions, encouraging understanding, and recognizing and respecting differences of opinions. I have taken this approach over my two terms and would like to take this and all I have learned as a resident, MLA and minister back to the Legislative Assembly and work on behalf of all residents for a healthy and resilient NWT.

Daryl Dolynny, Range Lake

Campaign Site

1) What were your main accomplishments during the last term?

Devolution overshadowed much of the first half of our term. That said, I’m proud to have had an influence on such legislation as Northern Employment Benefits, Mental Health, Organ Donation, Health Information and Privacy to name the top four in my mind. Furthermore, with the help of our Auditor General of Canada, we were able to clean up many areas ailing our society, such as child and family services, public accounts, corrections and income support. Of course, helping my constituents and local businesses on a daily basis was extremely gratifying.

2) What were things you hoped to accomplish that you didn’t.

Fighting for more transparency and accountability for such things as a lobbyist registry and ombudsman remain unfinished priorities. As well, I think everyone has had enough talk, discussion, reports and charettes on our energy generation file. People are looking to their leaders for strategic and targeted investments to lower our cost of energy and our dependence on fossil fuels. As well, we need to restore confidence in our economy with affordable action plans to improve investment in the North and keep our residents from leaving.

3) What are the main issues you want to tackle if re-elected?

We need leaders who are willing to work with stakeholders to tackle our power-generation hurdle. We need bold, well-managed and calculative investments to lower our cost of energy production and, equally, have targeted incentives to decrease the capitalization cost of our renewable-energy investments. To accomplish this, we cannot borrow our way out of this problem, so we must be willing to let go of status-quo thinking. As well, stronger and more transparent financial management is the cornerstone of our government. Sadly, this has been missing from our equation of good stewards of the public purse. My commitment is to fix this.

4) Why should people vote for you again?

In my first term, I have never worked so hard in my life and loved it! My work ethic has always been about showing up for work, being well-prepared for meetings or house business, listening to all stakeholders and offering well thought-out suggestions. The people of Range Lake, who I represent, and all Northerners, expect that of their leaders and I promise to continue to perform even better for my second term. In my opinion, the learning curve is behind me. Now is the need for EXPERIENCE and the need for CHANGE.

Robert Hawkins, Yellowknife Centre

Campaign Site

1) What were your main accomplishments during the last term?

• Devolution is a definite hallmark of this term

• The work on hydraulic fracturing regulations that led to delays so that better public consultation on the risks and benefits can happen  

• Cost of living focusing on our power rates has now become a significant initiative

• The focus on jobs through northern employment initiatives

• Economic growth here in the NWT

• Economic Opportunities Mineral Development strategy

• Capital investments in our downtown Yellowknife schools

• Mental Health Act has been successfully passed and awaits implementation

• New investments in Mildred Hall and JH Sissons Schools

• More investment in the day shelter and downtown public housing

2) What were things you hoped to accomplish that you didn’t?

I had hoped we would have finished:

• Independent Aurora College strategy (new campus)

• Better results on the Economic Opportunities Strategy and Mineral Development strategy

• Agricultural strategy

• Solar strategy

• Film Strategy

• Final implementation of 911

Other issues I wish more had been accomplished on are:

• Greater investment in seniors care, more specifically at Avens here in Yellowknife

• Better investment in alcohol and drug treatment centres

• Action on my proposal for regional homelessness centre initiatives that will have positive results in Yellowknife through partnerships with community governments

3) What are the main issues you want to tackle if re-elected?

• Cost of Living: My focus will continue to be on lowering the power rates for the everyday family. To get there, we will need to employ other opportunities such as expansion of the electrical grid from the south slave to the north slave.

• Northern Tax Deduction: We must get the federal government to follow through on its commitment to increase our tax deduction.

• Jobs: I will focus on the continued development of a northern workforce.

• Economic Growth: My focus will be on infrastructure investment while expanding on local economies (tourism).

• New Aurora College campus: We need an independent campus.

4) Why should people vote for you again?

For the past three terms, I’ve been a relentless advocate for northern families.  As the times change, it becomes more critical than ever to have someone with experience who can be progressive and, at the same time, familiar with the changes in front of us. As an MLA, I’ve had the reputation of being a very successful constituency and community person who can be contacted by anyone, any time. I’ve built partnerships and I’ve stood up to big business for cheaper power rates for the everyday family.  Experience matters in this business and it’s key to getting results.

Bob McLeod, Yellowknife South

Campaign Website

1) What were your main accomplishments during the last term?

First and foremost was devolution of land and water authorities. It’s not just about control over our land and water. Look deeper and you’ll see what it means for the relationship with our Aboriginal governments. Secondly, chairing the first national roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women was a source of great personal pride. The roundtable is another concrete platform from which to break the cycle of violence against women; something I’ve worked for my entire political life.  Thirdly, increasing the GNWT borrowing limit to $1.3 billion is a critical step in addressing our infrastructure deficit.

2) What were things you hoped to accomplish that you didn’t?

Devolution is not complete. We must accelerate the full transfer of authority from the Federal government and develop a made-in-the-North regulatory system. We need to be in full control of decisions that will enable other environmentally sustainable resource projects to move forward in a timely manner. Over the past several years, we’ve invested heavily in schools, community facilities and airports; these are investments in the future of our people.

However, we need to invest more in the future of our economy. Our infrastructure deficit is a major impediment to investment in exploration and development. Public infrastructure investments also create jobs that we need across the North.

3) What are the main issues you want to tackle if re-elected?

In a word: the economy. People want to know that prosperity, jobs and property values are secure for the long-term. I want that, too. The Conference Board of Canada has identified eight new mine projects it feels will come on stream over the next 10 years. We need those exports, jobs and resource revenues. We also need to convince our new Federal government to follow through on the election promise to increase the Federal Northern Resident Income Tax Deduction and index it to inflation so it keeps up with Northerners’ needs.

4) Why should people vote for you again?

Leaders rarely talk about it, however, as I see it, we have issues before us and we need to shape solutions: population migration rates are troublesome; the cost of living is too high; resource investments have stalled; and the cost of energy is far too high. And our Senior Citizens and Elders need to have their concerns with the continuum of care and supplemental health benefits addressed. These are all matters I pledge to address if re-elected. I’ve spent my entire career as a champion of the NWT and I will redouble my efforts to lead our territories to a new and better place.

Dave Ramsay, Kam Lake

Campaign Facebook Page

1) What were your main accomplishments during the last term?

Completion of both the Economic Opportunities Strategy and the Mineral Development Strategy.

Devolution was a major milestone and we have a very bright future because of it. Devolution has also allowed us to grow a relationship built on trust and respect with Aboriginal governments.

Our Tourism industry continues to flourish. Yellowknife was recently recognized as Canada’s fastest-growing tourism destination. This is a result of increased marketing efforts by our government and world-class tourism operators.

Strong growth in agriculture and the advancement of the Northern Farm Institute are also important accomplishments.

We also were very successful in getting capital dollars to leverage federal programs.

The groundbreaking on our new Stanton Hospital.

2) What were things you hoped to accomplish that you didn’t?

•  The completion of outstanding land claims in the territory

•  Surety on land-use plans and conservation areas

•  Junior Kindergarten and early childhood investment

•  Connecting the hydro grids in the NWT and ultimately a tie-in with Alberta or Saskatchewan

•  Taltson hydro expansion

•  Development of a campus for Aurora College

3) What are the main issues you want to tackle if re-elected?

• The establishment of a special committee on the cost of living

• Investment in universal childcare for NWT residents

• Continued investment in hydro and alternative energy sources

• Continue to look at ways to diversify the economy

• Support tourism, agriculture, and the commercial fishery on Great Slave Lake

• Promotion of the opportunities in the NWT within Canada and on the world stage

• Aurora College campus In Yellowknife

• Pursue a university in Yellowknife

• Expansion of Avens seniors facilities

4) Why should people vote for you again?

I am dedicated to making the territory the best it can be. I am experienced and knowledgeable. Over the past 12 years, I have established myself as a well-respected leader in our government and have built solid relationships across the territory with Aboriginal governments and leaders. I have an optimistic plan and vision for how our territory will achieve success. I understand the challenges we face and the hard work and hard decisions that will face the next government. I care deeply about our future and the economic and social development of our great territory.

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