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NWT election: Frame Lake candidate Q&As in full

Moose FM sat down with each candidate ahead of the territorial election day on November 23, 2015. Here’s what Frame Lake’s candidates told us.

More: Candidate Q&As from other districts

Roy Erasmus

Roy Erasmus

You approach this with a little more experience than some people may know. Tell us about your background.

I was born and raised in Yellowknife. I’ve received an MBA and I’ve got a law degree, and I’ve been an MLA in the past. I also served four terms as a band councillor for YKDFN.

You were an MLA in what was, then, the district of Yellowknife North. Now, there is suddenly a new Yellowknife North re-emerging at this election. Did you not fancy the same district back?

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I lived in Frame Lake for eight years and after they took Dettah and Ndilo out of Yellowknife North, that was the only other place I had lived. I had no interest in going for office in a riding that has four communities – Lutselk’e, Fort Resolution, Dettah and Ndilo – so I decided to run in Frame Lake.

How different a job do you think it is to be an MLA in 2015 than it was when you were doing it in the late 1990s?

With communications the way it is today, everything is a lot quicker. Email was just coming into being. I know, from being a senior manager – I forgot to mention that, I was a senior manager in the territorial government for 12 years as well, including four years as assistant deputy minister of education, culture and employment – my experience from the government is so many emails, coming rapid-fire. The job is going to be a lot harder with all those emails and people expect instantaneous responses.

As those floods of emails come in, which ones will be the priorities to you? What issues are you campaigning on here?

First of all, I see the cost of living here in the North is prohibitive. We’re hearing the current government saying they want to bring 2,000 people in to the North, to get more money from the federal government. Well, rather than doing that, they should be working on keeping people here – and also doing something about the cost of living. Anybody that knows me knows I’m big into health now, after I had to have a stent put in to open up the arteries to my heart. The government could be doing little things like subsidizing or giving tax breaks on recreation and fitness, registration for those things. In the long run, I think people will be fitter and it’ll probably cost the government less for health.

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Also, job creation and improving the economy – for instance, we have socio-economic agreements with the mines and they are supposed to provide so many jobs, apprenticeships and business opportunities. They rarely live up to those obligations. They may live up to the business opportunities but certainly not the employment areas. That has to change. They need to enforce those agreements because those mines aren’t going to be there forever, and if we’re hardly getting anything out of it, what’s the use in even having them? Newfoundland has passed laws so that if there’s offshore oil activity, the people doing the work have to sign an agreement – but the agreements are backed up by law, so that if they don’t live up to whatever they promised, you have the law to back you up. You can penalize them. That has to happen here.

Taking mining as an example – getting more revenue into the territory is a big concern. How should the territory approach that?

We have to make it easy for people, right? But it has to be done in a responsible way. Right now, developers for the mines up here… most of the mining is done in the territory of the Akaitcho Dene. One of the biggest problems is that the land claims are not finished. We should do everything we can to help those land claims get finished. But instead, since Devolution it appears the GNWT is worse than the federal government – they’re making it harder to finish the land claims. Let’s say we finish the land claims: what’ll happen is in Yellowknife, there’s land frozen here. Those lands will open up and there’ll be way more land for housing – lots will be cheaper. One guy told me he was going to build a house in Niven Lake and it was going to cost $200,000 before he even started on his foundation. I mean, gimme a break. So there’s that.

Also, we need to make it simpler: look at the regulations and if there’s ways of simplifying things then we do that. But we must make sure we protect the environment. Fracking – I read the news just like everybody else, and I read a story on CBC that said fracking caused earthquakes in BC last year. It was reported by a very legitimate organization over there. This wasn’t people complaining out of the blue. This is certified that it had caused the earthquakes. So, much as I want to encourage development – because we do need jobs and for our businesses to flourish – we have to take a step back on this fracking issue and do more research. Even in Alberta people are complaining about their health, their animals dying and whatnot. In the States, man, it’s one story after another over there.

I want to come back to health. You mentioned tax breaks for recreation. You’re on record previously as saying sugar is evil, and the root of many problems here. Given we’re a territory in search of revenue and funding, should there be taxes on unhealthy products? Should taxes go up on things like cigarettes and alcohol?

That’s a difficult area. Cigarettes and alcohol are probably the area that’s taxed every time. Certainly, being a recovering alcoholic as well, I know how alcohol can cause a lot of problems. I would have to look at that. I don’t know – people are still going to buy stuff. We can’t make it too prohibitive for people to buy stuff. If you just raise the prices and they’re buying things that are no good for them first, they’re going to have less money for groceries and the rest. There are a lot of things to be looked at.

Education is another part of the same puzzle. You have some years’ experience in education in the NWT. What are you proposing?

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First of all, adult education: we need to support adults that are returning to school, whether they want to get into a trade, into college or university. People need assistance. If you want to upgrade at this time, there’s no assistance. Student financial assistance will not be provided to people that want to upgrade, even if they only need one year to go to university. So what happens? People have to go on social assistance. Well, if a person wants to go to school – they are in school – then they’re doing something to help themselves and they don’t want that stigma of social assistance. It pushes them away. I propose we start providing student financial assistance to people if they’re preparing to go into a trade, college or university. Also, we need to fix the college campus here in Yellowknife. Most people have to go south. It wasn’t long ago that you could get your degree here, so it seems we’re regressing instead of progressing. We should be doing more trades here so we don’t have to send people away. We should be teaching people art. There are so many artists in the NWT and they’re just-about all self-taught because we don’t teach it. You can’t get a degree in arts and science? Come on! That’s the basic. And we don’t provide that. That’s unbelievable.

Also, right now we have a campus that also houses a church and apartments for seniors and others. We need a campus building solely dedicated to educating adult people. That’s huge. You’ve got to have a campus where you can walk around, have a coffee and whatever while you’re studying. Have a nice yard and all the rest so that people are proud to go there. There’s no parking at the current building, that’s another deterrent.

For children, we need to make sure they graduate well-prepared and ready for college and university. There are hundreds of people who have graduated having taken the wrong courses, or else their marks are simply too low to get into university or college, or go into the trades. Or people barely get by with a 55 average. We need to make sure people finish school with a good education. One of the biggest problems is what’s called ‘social passing’. You don’t have to know your stuff to move on to the next level, as long as you’re going with people the same age as you. It doesn’t matter if you know your material. How can we expect all those kids to be super-motivated and do all their studying when they don’t really have to know anything to move on? When kids have to pass a class to move to the next level, they can’t do it because they don’t know their material. They start going into lower-level math, science and English, and – when they finish – that’s one of the biggest reasons they can’t get into a trade, college or university. They fooled around and when the crunch hit, they couldn’t do the work. We need to fix social passing.

You’re up against several other candidates. What would you say to the residents of Frame Lake that separates you from the other candidates?

I have a lot of experience. I understand how the GNWT operates. I’ve been an MLA and a senior manager in the GNWT for 12 years, including four years as assistant deputy minister. I know how to make change. I also, of course, have an MBA and a law degree. I believe I’m very well-qualified for this position and I was also born and raised here.

Jan Fullerton

Jan Fullerton

What prompted you to put your name forward?

I’ve always had an interest in politics. I have a degree in political science and I’ve always seen it as the way you can potentially make the most impact n your community. Why here, why now? I’ve been working for the past 10 years with a non-profit, travelling the NWT. I see various issues, especially in health and education, that I can’t impact in my non-profit. I want to have a broader change and this seemed the way to go about it.

Why Frame Lake?

I only ever looked at two – Yellowknife South and Frame Lake. I live in Yellowknife South now and I have property in Frame Lake, I have a longer history with Frame Lake. I met my husband about a year and a half after I bought my house there. I knew Wendy wasn’t running again and thought it would be a good place to put my name forward.

What elements of Wendy Bisaro’s legacy would you want to pick up and run with?

For me, the biggest thing I admire about Wendy is her commitment to the people. Her attendance record is impeccable, her hard work, dedication and commitment. She was always there, taking a stand and pushing for change. That’s really valuable.

Policy-wise, would there be continuity between you and her?

There would be more overlap than not. The work she was doing on the ombudsman piece is worth following up on, in particular. There may be way I can help move that forward. Also, the work she was doing around social issues aligns with my platform.

On social issues, what do you believe can be done at a territorial level to make things better for residents in Yellowknife?

Mental health, in particular – a big part of my platform is health, and within that, mental health and addictions. We’re underserving the needs of that population and we don’t seem to be making progress. Some would argue it’s actually getting worse. Rather than continuing to do reports and studies, we need to start taking bolder action. Housing First should be more of a territorial responsibility although we’d need to work with municipalities on it. Studies found there are cost savings to varying degrees of implementing a Housing First strategy, because you save money on aspects of your social support network, your justice system and so on. We have a low vacancy rate here so it may be harder to make the cost argument, but it’s something we need to be looking at. Even if it doesn’t ultimately save us money, there’s still a population that needs to be served there.

Why do you think that hasn’t been looked at, yet?

Awareness of Housing First seems to have exploded in the past few years and that’s a factor. It seems to have come onto the radar of other municipalities like Medicine Hat. Edmonton and Calgary have committed to Housing First approaches. Part of it is timing. There has also been some reluctance to do things that are a bit bolder. I don’t know whether there’s been a concern that the average middle-class person would not support this spending on these needs. I don’t think that’s the case.

You’re a student of political science. Does consensus government work?

I don’t think it’s working well in its current form but I do think it can work. One constituent made a strong pitch for party politics but I think there is still hope for consensus government – it would just take a radical shift, and that depends on who makes up the next assembly. One thing I have an issue with is cabinet solidarity – I don’t think you can properly represent your constituents if you’re bound to vote with one group, whether or not you agree. Getting rid of that is complicated when it comes to motions – there are a lot of layers to untangle – but it can be done. I’ve had discussions about what might be possible and what’s being done in other places. The islands of Guernsey and Jersey in the UK have consensus government with a directly elected leader, which is another thing I’d advocate for. There is no cabinet – each member can potentially have responsibilities. I just don’t know if it would work here, or if we have too much of a history of politics and power plays.

Will you be able to cope with that frustrating environment if elected?

I’m prepared for the fact it’s going to be a big shift from running a non-profit. There will be adjustments to make but I’m aware of that. I’ve asked MLAs what I should expect from the job in terms of work-life balance and responsibilities. The change will be slower than I’m used to but I also think it’s very important change. If I have something I’m advocating for, I can be fairly persuasive. I’m determined and I don’t give up.

Are you shooting for cabinet, here?

Certainly not in the first term. In the longer term it’s something I have on my radar. Jane Groenewegen has talked about the frustration of cabinet as she couldn’t really advocate for her constituents – which I found interesting. There are pros and cons. You can effect a deeper level of change in cabinet but you can accomplish things that are valuable as an MLA.

If you’re a regular MLA, representing the territory as a whole… let’s take fracking. Where are you going to stand?

In the case of fracking, it’s not an issue that should be decided by 19 people. It’s such a high-impact issue, both from an economic and environmental perspective, that I think it should go out to a plebiscite – first giving both sides the chance to inform the public.

Is the solution necessarily the same across the whole territory? If you have a plebiscite across the territory, is it the right answer if 20,000 people in Yellowknife vote ‘no’ and people in the Sahtu vote ‘yes’?

That’s a good question. There may be a good argument for weighting it to the Sahtu. We don’t have enough information about what the environmental impact would be – if it’s potentially contaminating waterways that flow throughout the territory, then is it still a Sahtu issue only? And the economic development is a tricky piece as there’s not a lot of opportunity in the Sahtu right now, and the people there have a right and a need to be able to feed their families, afford shelter and everything else. It’s an interesting question and I don’t have a simple answer, it needs to be looked at more closely.

How are you going to differentiate yourself from the other three candidates in Frame Lake?

I don’t want to be running a responsive campaign. My approach is: this is who I am, this is what I stand for. I’ve laid out my platform in detail. We’re all going to have different positions on some issues and alignment on others, and I’m OK with that.

Lastly, remind us: what do you stand for?

My big three priorities are education – making sure we have a population that can take on the territory’s challenges, the jobs, and building capacity at the community level. Health across the board but especially mental health and addictions. Then balanced economic development, where we look at strategies where this is room for resource development while we’re building a more diversified economy in an environmentally responsible way.

Kevin O’Reilly

Kevin O'Reilly

Give us a little of your background and why you’ve decided now is the time to run.

I’ve lived in Yellowknife for 30 years and in the Frame Lake riding itself for 24. I served on city council here os I have some political experience but I’ve also been very active in the community is a volunteer. Our kids are off to university so I have a bit more time on my hands, but it’s also a very important time for people here in the NWT and in Yellowknife, particularly in light of Devolution. There’s some additional jurisdiction and authority the territorial government has, and I’d like to be part of the Assembly that starts to look at not just Devolution but devolve-and-evolve, what we can do with that, and building a North that tries to meet all of our needs – where the weaker, the disadvantaged are brought along at the same time. I’d like to help figure out some of those bigger issues.

What do you see as being key priorities across the territory?

I mentioned Devolution: when the last Assembly negotiated the arrangement, they talked about devolve and evolve. We really haven’t done the evolve part. Now we have jurisdiction over land and water, what are we going to do with that? Mirror legislation was passed that put in place exactly the way the federal government managed lands and water, and it’s time we looked at that and put our own stamp on it. That may mean things like looking at royalty rates, how we take care of mineral resources, how northerners can better benefit from resource development. We are going to be facing an interesting financial situation, a debt wall and so on, so how can we deal with that and maintain our quality of life and programs and services? If we want to attract people and keep people here, we need to have a good quality of life. The cost of living and energy production are going to be important – we need to look a lot more seriously at renewables and alternative energy to reduce our cost of living. We need to invest more money in those areas.

Cost of living, the debt burden, programs and services – all things that require a keen financial eye to assess where the territory can make savings while promoting a better quality of life. What experience there do you bring?

I did serve on city council for nine years and we had a budget in the area of $30 million – not nearly as much as the territory but we went through line-by-line as a council for nine straight years and there were a number of very interesting and heated discussions. I have that sort of experience. My day job, I’m an executive director for a small NGO that has an annual budget of $650,000. We have to apportion that to get the biggest bang for our buck and I provide advice and support in doing that. We have managed to stay within budget for the 10 years that I’ve been executive director. I do have some experience of financial management and look forward to the challenge of working at the territorial level.

In doing that job you have spent many years closely involved with Giant Mine. How has that coloured your view of mining in the NWT?

A lot of people think of me as an environmentalist but I don’t think that’s all that I am. Mining is an essential part of our economy – it’s 25 percent of our GDP – and we do need to keep mining in the North. We also need to protect the environment and build more sustainable communities at the same time. We need to make sure there’s fair return to the public purse from mining and it’s time we looked at royalties and taxation. They’ve undertaken the same reviews in Alberta when it comes to the oil and gas industries and we should do the same here, especially in light of Devolution. We have a good resource management system in place now, the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act, and that needs to be supported and implemented in the way it was meant to be, not piecemeal – cherry-picked or pulled apart as the previous federal government did. I’m prepared to work with the mining industry but at the same time we need to protect the environment and make sure the benefits from mining stay in the North.

If the territory puts a strengthened legislative framework in place, is fracking OK in the territory?

Let’s get it straight: I don’t think hydraulic fracturing is going to happen in the near future. With the price of commodities, it’s just not going to happen. That gives us the luxury of some time to look at not just how we might do it, but whether it should be done. In the Yukon they put together a special committee to look at the issue. Here, in the previous Assembly, people were not in favour of that. It’s going to come back at some point and we need to be prepared for it, and I look forward to having a public debate and discussion around that. We need to have that before we say, ’This is how it’s going to be done.’

What do you believe you can do specifically for the constituents of Frame Lake if elected?

I’m the only candidate who actually lives in the riding. What I’m hearing at the door is the cost of living is a big issue, and there are a few ways to address that: we need to reduce the cost of energy and make it much more sustainable. We put in a wood pellet boiler in our own home this summer – there was some assistance from Arctic Energy Alliance, which was helpful, but I know they run out of money for homeowners part-way through the year so we need to look at improving those programs and becoming more self-sufficient in terms of energy. If we bring the cost of energy down we’ll lower the cost of living in Yellowknife. Another way is much more local agricultural production and food security. We have the farmers’ market where people are starting to sell produce and that’s fantastic. At one time there was a commercial market garden here and we should be looking at revitalizing that – that will also lower the cost of living. We’ve also got the Great Slave Lake fishery here – not a lot of people involved and we never reach anywhere near the harvest quota – so some strategic investment there would also help.

Do you think the consensus government model works for the NWT?

The model is based on the Aboriginal values of sharing and trying to discuss things and reach a consensus before decisions are taken, and that’s a noble thing to do. I think there are some limitations in the current system where we can improve – Wendy Bisaro brought forward ombudsman legislation that I wholeheartedly endorse and will work hard to get in place. The other thing we can do to approve accountability and transparency is make more committee meetings open to the public, keep transcripts so people can actually see what happens, make those committees actually work and improve legislation in a much more transparent fashion. We should also hold cabinet much more accountable. I’m not opposed to looking at different ways of selecting cabinet and the Premier, but that’s probably a collective discussion among MLAs with input from the public as well.

Have you any cabinet ambitions yourself or do you see yourself as a regular MLA?

It’s far too early to speculate. I’d like to get elected as MLA and serve the people in Frame Lake. I don’t have any ambitions to be in cabinet – I want to represent the constituents I will serve, that will be my first priority.

How do you intend to effectively represent your Aboriginal constituency?

When I first came to Yellowknife 30 years ago I was working with the Dene Nation. I got to travel to a lot of the smaller communities and built a number of lasting relationships. Many of those people are now in leadership positions, including some of the MLAs. I think I’ve got a good rapport and understanding of life in some of the smaller communities – how things work there. Locally, I’ve worked very closely with YKDFN. On city council I led negotiations towards a memorandum of understanding between YKDFN and the city on joint council meetings and joint priorities – I don’t think it’s really been implemented the way it was intended but it could be picked up. During Giant Mine’s environmental agreement and environmental assessment I worked very closely with YKDFN and the city on behalf of Alternatives North, and I think we reached a very successful conclusion to those negotiations, the assessment and so on.

In the course of your involvement in Giant Mine, you’ve seen the territorial and federal governments working together. In a broader capacity, how would you like to see that relationship change?

We do have a new federal government and I’m pleased with the change. It opens up new opportunities for us in the NWT to work more closely with the federal government on a number of priority areas. The debt wall and federal funding arrangements can be worked together on; we need to look at healthcare and education together; there’s still work to be done in terms of Devolution and whether the territory, a few year from now, will have the ability to change the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act itself. Those are some of the areas – economic development, investment in infrastructure – where we can work more closely.

In a nutshell – there are four of you running in Frame Lake – what lasting impression would you like to leave that separates you out?

I’ve got good political experience under my belt, I’ve lived here for 30 years, I’ve done lots of work as a volunteer. People know that when I come to meetings, I’m prepared. I’m willing to listen and learn. But I’m also very dedicated and determined to get things done, and I can produce results. My work on Giant Mine and on council proves that. In doing that, it’s always in an honest, straightforward manner. That’s what I can offer and when I work hard, I work really hard.

David Wasylciw

David Wasylciw

Why have you decided to stand?

I think running is a really important thing to do. I want to make a big difference in the community. I have a strong voice, I’ve volunteered a lot with schools, community organizations and others, and I think we need some change in the legislature – a new group of MLAs and a different approach to getting stuff done.

A lot of candidates come in advocating for change – talk us through some specifics.

The first part of that is changing the tone of the house. Right now, we have an Assembly with a lot of loud voices and picking at arguments rather than sitting down to build some consensus and solve some issues. I’d like to build consensus and solve some issues. That has been lacking lately.

Do you feel as though the system is broken? How will you open the NWT government?

In practice, frankly, I’m already starting to do it with OpenNWT – demonstrating you can make the government more accessible by not spending a lot of time and money. The government is a funny environment where members have a lot more information than they would in governments down south but, for the public, it’s really hard to access the government. Information can be pretty hard to find, and we can work on easy solutions. The work I had to do to build some of the OpenNWT sites was crazy, finding things like committee meeting schedules, who’s been on historical committees. All that stuff wasn’t public. It’s pretty easy to throw the doors open – I just think there’s been an attitude of not worrying about it. It’s actually pretty solvable.

We have a relatively bleak financial outlook, there are issues around how the territory gets money in and how it spends it. Give us a bit of background about you and why you believe, in Frame Lake, you are best qualified to deal with those big items.

My background is a mixture of IT – I run small businesses and work with a variety of businesses – and at the same time I’ve worked in policy. I was the main policy advisor in transportation, around immigration and in a few other roles. I have a good basis in policy development and the role of the Assembly, and how they can make that change.

The first issue may not be urgent for the next couple of years but it’s coming back: fracking. As an MLA, what line would you tread?

It’s really interesting. There are a lot of very loud voices on it rather than actually getting into the research and discussion. I’m comforted that we have a new federal government committed to doing a lot of that research at a national level; the NWT isn’t a big enough jurisdiction to do all of that research ourselves. I think we need a balanced approach, doing things that are safe but we also need some development and industry needs some certainty on what it can and can’t do up here. MLAs can’t just say a blanket ‘no’ without actually knowing anything.

Some residents just want a straight plebiscite. Does that appeal to you?

Not without having any of the information. People have elected MLAs to make some of these decisions and do some of this research. Right now, turning the question back on everybody is MLAs abdicating some of their responsibility. A plebiscite may or may not be based on all the science.

Social issues – as an MLA, what would your immediate priorities for health and education be?

As a parent that’s really involved in schools and daycare pre-school education, we have some strategies that have been developed but haven’t actually made a lot of things happen. First off is building relationships between school boards, daycares and pre-schools and ECE. I’ve heard about issues with the Yellowknife Daycare Association. A lot of the time there seems to be a communication problem. The K-12 system in Yellowknife and across the territory isn’t getting us the outcomes we need right now. We need to get parents involved in the conversations, invest in school and curriculum development in partnership with parents. We won’t get the education outcomes we need without the families.

Next is the post-secondary strategy. We need an actual strategy. We can’t just have a scattershot approach to it. We have to figure out what people need and what’ll get us the outcomes we need. Part of that is understanding the labour market, where students are going and how they’re succeeding. We have to look at that big picture of where our kids end up and how we use that. We need the education system both for our kids and to attract more people to the territory.

Looking at health: drug and alcohol addiction. Treatment centres in the North, where people can be treated in their own communities but it’s harder to attract staff – or send them to the south where there is no staffing issue and they get the best care, but are away from their communities?

We need a mix and to work with people that have the problems. I think it’s easy sometimes for the GNWT or other groups to say what we need without actually talking to the people afflicted by the problems. If they want to be treated in the community, we should find some options. If it’s outside of the community, there are other options. It’s not feasible to have full treatment options in every NWT community, so if we’re gong to do it, we have to do it right. I don’t want to waste money but we’re small enough that we can certainly try things and, if we find it doesn’t work, we can be responsive. We can try something else. Too often we think we’re in Ottawa or we’re the whole country. It’s pretty easy to find out if something works or doesn’t in the North.

But there’s only limited money to do that. Only so many false starts we can have.

There are only so many starts that way, but there are still a lot of steps we can take. People have talked about additional treatment options, especially in Yellowknife. I know the old Hay River facility has been discussed at times. Right now, the solution of people going south meets some of the need and we’re going to have to figure out how we meet the need for other people.

The Premier of the NWT has decided he would quite like a second term. Is that in the territory’s best interest?

I think discussing cabinet, the Premier and all of that is a conversation for after the election. I don’t think it’s against the interest of the NWT. It could work but it’s going to depend on the mix of MLAs and how we want to carry the next Assembly forward.

Why Frame Lake?

Two reasons: one, the riding needs a strong voice. It’s the community I first lived in when I came to Yellowknife. It’s a mixed riding which makes up quite a nice community. It’s an open riding which obviously has a few people running. It has a lot of families, people trying to survive, get to work, get their kids to basketball, soccer and hockey, and trying to go about their business. We need strong representation from that riding.

And when you talk to those people, they want to know what you can do for them personally. What issues have you heard that you believe you can address quickly?

A lot of the time it comes down to someone who works for De Beers, or who worries about affordability, about how the economy’s expanding, how the GNWT supports small business in Yellowknife, about their kids going to school and how they’re going to pay for post-secondary and programs like that, concerns around population growth. People wondering about how to sell their houses. What I can do is I can, one, help build that consensus in the house and work with MLAs to get real solutions done. But I can also bring solutions forward. For example, in small business, I’ve talked to a number of folks who’ve said they have a really hard time working with the government. I understand that trying to work as a contractor with the GNWT can be difficult. I have some direct ideas on how to change that relationship. Around population growth, it’s something we have to invest in. We’ve had, frankly, not enough investment in immigration compared to Yukon. I have a background in it and I can certainly push and make that happen.

Do you see yourself wanting to be involved in government as a cabinet member, or acting as a watchdog as a regular MLA?

Sometimes regular MLAs put themselves down as watchdogs but they have to remember they’re all part of the government and everyone’s part of the solutions. The committee process, no matter your role, you can deliver on the solutions. I push hard on transparency and accountability and I can do that sitting anywhere. We need MLAs who just want to participate in government and not worry about what side of the room they’re sitting on.

How will you form the consensus that gets things done?

Sometimes what’s needed are some clearer voices. Having a few people pushing for new ideas, even on the transparency stuff. I’ve worked closely with MLAs, encouraging them to adopt OpenNWT and use it. Sitting in the room with them, I can help lead that.

In the remaining time, are there issues we haven’t discussed? The floor is yours.

There are so many issues. The fiscal picture isn’t amazing but I don’t think it’s necessarily as bleak as everybody makes it out to be. If we can work together, we can turn it around and we can get it before there’s a problem. I’m a family guy, I’ve got a daughter, I’m highly involved in schools and volunteer a lot, I’m a small business person trying to make a living in Yellowknife. I understand the struggles most people have and identify with the residents I talk to as we have the same problems. We do need that different voice in the Assembly.

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