41 of 60 NWT candidates score an ‘F’ on union’s election survey

Legislative Assembly
The Chamber of the NWT Legislative Assembly. Submitted photo
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Nearly three-quarters of candidates running in the upcoming territorial election have failed a survey that was distributed by the Union of Northern Workers (UNW).

The union asked all candidates to respond to a survey containing these five yes-or-no questions:

  1. Will you oppose any cuts of GNWT staff, including boards and agencies?
  2. Will you oppose any further contracting out of government services?
  3. Will you oppose any further use of Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) for GNWT projects?
  4. Will you work to end the policy of Zero Program Growth?
  5. Will you work to ensure the Union of Northern Workers is a full participant in the proposed modernization of the Public Service Act?

Answering ‘yes’ to all five questions scored a candidate an ‘A’, according to the union. Answering ‘no’ to all five earned them an ‘F’.

However, answering ‘no’ to the first question resulted in an automatic ‘F’, regardless of any other answers.

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Of the 60 candidates running in the NWT election, 41 received a failing grade for either not responding to the survey, failing to comply with the format of the survey, answering ‘no’ to the first question or answering ‘no’ to three or more questions in total.

Of the remaining candidates, only five scored an ‘A’, 10 received a ‘B’ and four earned a ‘C’.

The UNW says the survey was distributed “to learn the positions of candidates on issues important to UNW members, and to the users of public services”.

However, following the release of the report cards, UNW president Todd Parsons expressed his frustration with the results.

“It is disappointing that so many candidates seeking to lead the territory, and ultimately oversee the management of the territorial public service, failed to provide a response,” he said in a statement.

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“The failure of so many candidates to hold themselves accountable to public service workers and the public is dismissive and unacceptable.

“With 60 candidates running in 19 ridings and no party platforms, it’s very difficult to gather information on candidates’ positions and present it in understandable form.

“That’s why the UNW used a basic survey of five questions with yes or no answers.”

Survey too restrictive?

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Last week, two Yellowknife candidates took exception to the tone of the survey.

In a statement, Jan Fullerton – standing in Frame Lake – said the survey would feed an “us-versus-them” mentality by reducing complex questions to one-word answers.

Glen Abernethy, who’s standing in Great Slave, agreed.

“Limiting the response, to these complex questions, to a very restrictive ‘yes’ or ‘no’ fails to allow candidates to accurately express their opinions,” he said in a public letter to the union.

“The structure and parameters you’ve set are encouraging candidates to follow the rules of your questionnaire to get a good grade which they know will be posted publicly, rather than explain their positions, platforms and beliefs.”

Now that the results have been publicized, the union is urging the public to “get out and vote for candidates who support the interests of workers and the quality of public services, as demonstrated by their answers to our survey.”

To find out how candidates in your riding fared, click here.

Election day is on November 23.


Updated 06:35, November 16, 2015: The Union of Northern Workers issued a correction to its own survey results, amending the number of F grades from 43 to 41.

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