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Freeze MLA salaries and set term limits, says Hay River candidate

An MLA hopeful says he wants to see freezes on MLA salaries and benefits as well as term limits implemented so that NWT leaders can start to lead by example.

Brian Willows, a former chief operating officer of NTPC, has confirmed his intentions to run in the riding of Hay River South in the upcoming territorial election.

Jane Groenewegen has represented constituents in that riding since 1995, when she was elected to the 13th Assembly. She’s been re-elected four times since.

But Willows, 62, believes there’s a desire for change in the community.

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“I’m not satisfied with the work that’s happened in the last four years,” he told Moose FM.

“In my view, sometimes career politicians become more of the problem than the solution and sometimes new people with new ideas are not only refreshing, but can get the government pointed in a different direction instead of the same thing over and over again.

“We have an ever-shrinking population, our transfers from the government are going down and we’ve reached our limits for borrowing so big decisions need to be made during the next Assembly.”

Willows, who’s now retired, says restoring the economy is his top priority. But to do that the territory will need to invest in infrastructure and energy security.

In his own community, Willows says critical projects are either being needlessly delayed or shut down altogether.

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“One of the big issues here is the dredging of our waterways and our harbour,” he said.

“Hay River is known as the hub of the North. NTCL works out of here and sends freight north, we have a vital fishing economy here and the Coast Guard is here as well.

“These are intricate things both to our community and to the North as well and there’s been no movement.

“I appreciate that this is more of a federal responsibility but there’s absolutely a role for our territorial government to be playing in this.”

Willows says he’d also like to see the community receive more funding from the territorial Department of Municipal and Community Affairs, and for the addictions treatment centre that once operated on the Hay River Dene reserve to come back online.

But to affect any real change, Willows says the territory’s elected officials will need to start setting better examples.

“I would like to see a total freeze on MLA salaries and benefits for four years and I would like to see term limits for MLAs,” he said.

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“If we’re going to be tightening our belts, then I think examples need to be set and they need to be set by our leadership.”

Willows will stand against Wally Schumann in the riding. Groenewegen has yet to declare her intentions.

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