A leading women’s outreach worker in Yellowknife believes NWT residents should not rush to judge re-elected MLA Michael Nadli.
Nadli returns as the Deh Cho MLA after victory in Monday’s territorial election, despite admitting spousal assault earlier this year – his second assault conviction.
Nancy MacNeill, who works with women and youth throughout Yellowknife and the Northwest Territories, says the issue is more complicated.
“Monday’s result is too bad, mostly because of the message it sends to other survivors of intimate partner violence that it’s not necessarily as much of a priority as we want it to be,” MacNeill told Moose FM’s Mornings with the Wheel.
“There’s a lot of messaging around making people involved in these situations feel like they’re safe and supported, and this kind of election result doesn’t really indicate that that’s the truth.
“But ‘disgusting’ and ‘pathetic’ are tough words – really harsh character judgements on a person. We don’t know. We aren’t there. That is something we really need to be considerate of.
“It’s important to remember that it’s not necessarily helpful to focus anger and hatred on one person. He has gone on record that he knows he needs help and I really hope he seeks that help. When we call people disgusting and pathetic, we’re taking away their humanity and their deservedness of that help.”
Results on Monday leave questions over the make-up of the next NWT cabinet, particularly Michael Miltenberger’s departure. Traditionally each six-person cabinet is divided equally between Yellowknife, the north and the south, which means Nadli – from the Deh Cho district – could be lined up to replace Thebacha’s Miltenberger. Nadli says he is open to that prospect.
That would be greeted with horror by some residents, but MacNeill believes this week’s developments simply reflect the reality of northern views on family violence.
“I do really wish the voters in that riding had chosen to show support for survivors of this kind of violence,” said MacNeill. “That vote is reflective of the attitudes toward domestic violence that we see in the NWT. I don’t think that’s really all that out-there, to be honest.
“But we need to call ourselves on our judging. It’s not helpful. We don’t need to judge. We need to make sure supports and programs are there for Michael Nadli and his partner.
“At the next election, if we don’t see any change, that’s the voters’ next opportunity. It’s too bad that it’s so far away but there are lots of things he can do in the meantime, and I want to have faith.”