Kieron Testart defeated justice and industry minister Dave Ramsay in Kam Lake as the first territorial election results emerged.
Testart, campaigning on a platform of democratic reform and government transparency, had 280 votes to Ramsay’s 202.
“This gives me a mandate to work toward for the next four years,” Testart told us. “I intend to deliver on the promises I made over the course of this election and work with other MLAs and governments, of all levels, to get those results for Yellowknife and everyone in the NWT.
“Mr Ramsay leaves some big shoes to fill and I do thank him for his excellent service for many years, but it was time for change. This election was about ideas and that’s what Kam Lake voted for – a real plan and change that would deliver results.”
Ramsay held two portfolios in the last territorial government, as the minister responsible for both justice and industry, tourism and investment.
Current ministers hold their positions until mid-December, when formal appointments are made. In his present role as industry minister, Ramsay is still expected to address the annual Geoscience Forum in Yellowknife on Tuesday.
His defeat is considered an upset of some size, given the propensity for incumbents to be re-elected under the territory’s system of consensus government.
“It’s a shock,” Ramsay admitted to Moose FM. “I wasn’t expecting this at all, but Kieron ran a good campaign – he was riding this change motif and I respect the voters in Kam Lake.
“It’s been an honour and a privilege to serve the riding for the past 12 years and life goes on. The sun will come up and tomorrow is another day.
“There’ll be options for me. I’ve got lots of other things I can do.”
A position in cabinet may be heading to another Yellowknife MLA with Ramsay’s departure – had he won Kam Lake, his return to cabinet would have been expected. Traditionally, two MLAs from each NWT region (the north, the centre and the south) are appointed to cabinet by their fellow members.