The NWT just elected its newest government.
The winner is Dave. And Sandy. And Robert. And… who cares?
If anything, the latest election in the Yukon’s sister territory proved just how dreadfully dull party-of-one politics really is.
Who beyond Hay River South cares who Jane Groenewegen is?
How is her election going to alter the direction of the NWT?
What were the major policy issues facing the NWT?
What direction will the territory go in now?
Does anybody really know?
Probably not, because the candidates didn’t discuss it.
The NWT faces difficult issues around resource revenue sharing, the fate of the Mackenzie Valley pipeline, Arctic sovereignty, to name a few.
Were they prominent in the election?
According to national media reports, the electorate — focussed as it was on Dave, Sandy, Jackie and the other 16 individuals — talked about crime, the high cost of electricity and the necessity of a bridge.
Ottawa, which is reaping huge resource revenues from the territory, benefits from this small-town political focus.
It could be argued, because the territory’s political clout is splintered among 19 independents, the territory is easily ruled from Ottawa.
In the NWT, there is no territory-wide political organization raising and fighting the bigger political battles with Ottawa.
The territory’s citizens won’t even have a clue who outgoing Premier Joe Handley’s successor is until October 18.
Citizens have no direct say in the matter.
The position of premier is, as they say, a crap shoot.
The “winner” will be chosen through hardscrabble backroom negotiation (read promises of goodies for supportive ridings) by the members of the legislative assembly, followed by a vote.
In Canada, there is a lot of sentimentality surrounding NWT concensus politics. In the family of confederation, it’s crazy uncle Fred.
Nobody wants to be crazy uncle Fred, but everyone loves the guy — he’s adorably nutty.
Every election, there is this wispy talk about how Yukoners would be better served if they dumped party politics in favour of independents.
But, despite its wrinkles, the party system serves the interests of the greater Yukon better and is far more democratic and accountable than the NWT’s system.
On Monday, we learned who won the territorial election — Tom, and 18 other people.
But the small-minded campaign revealed who the losers were: the territory’s citizens. (RM)