Outgoing Northwest Territories Member of Parliament Dennis Bevington says Monday’s election was unlike any he’s ever taken part in.
The 62-year-old New Democrat was soundly beaten at the polls by Liberal candidate Michael McLeod.
From a local bar, Bevington watched as a red tide, which began in Atlantic Canada, spread across much of the country. That trend would continue North of 60, as Liberal candidates were elected in all three territories.
“When I realized what was happening nationally, I realized that we’re likely going to have difficulty with that in the NWT as well,” said Bevington following his defeat.
“I also think McLeod ran a very good campaign. He worked very hard in the communities to raise his vote.
“That, combined with the red tide we saw, made a big difference in the numbers.”
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Bevington represented NWT residents for nearly a decade in Ottawa, serving as MP between 2006 and 2015.
He ran unsuccessful campaigns in 2000 and 2004 before unseating Liberal incumbent Ethel Blondin-Andrew in the 2006 election. At the time, the riding was called Western Arctic.
But Bevington told Moose FM Monday’s election was unlike any other he’d been involved in.
“It was very much a nationally focused campaign. Many of the other times I’ve run here, most of them were very in-house NWT-oriented.
“But this campaign, with the length of it and the presence of social media, the consciousness of Canadians was raised quite a bit. There was such a strong ‘anyone but Harper’ movement.’”
Despite the party’s sharp decline in recent weeks, Bevington believes the NDP is stronger now than it was 15 years ago when he first ran as a candidate.
“We still have a good cross section of Quebec, Ontario, BC and we even increased our standing in the prairies so in a way, we’re better situated now than we were when I first ran for the NDP in the 2000 election,” he said.
“People don’t look at us as out of the mainstream anymore. Depending on how the Liberals do in government and if they just tread water, I think we can see the NDP rise up again.”
After conceding defeat, Bevington met with McLeod on Monday night to wish him well in Ottawa.
“We don’t have much animosity in election campaigns up here. Very rarely does anybody say a bad word about the other person,” said Bevington.
“[In McLeod], people get an MP who’s with the government for a change and it’s a government that says it wants to do things differently up here.
“We’ll see if they live up to their promises and it will be Mr. McLeod’s job to ensure that the government he works in delivers on what they said they’d do.
“Representing the people of the Northwest Territories is such a unique thing in Canada. We have such a diverse population here and encompass and area that’s so large and varied in its geography.
“The people that I represented are simply great and I respect their decision last night and I hope for the best here in the North.”