Dene Nahjo Yellowknife candidates forum: Day 2

The consensus style of government came under fire during the second night of a Yellowknife candidates forum hosted by Dene Nahjo, an N.W.T.-based social justice group promoting indigenous leadership.

Yellowknife North, Yellowknife Centre, Yellowknife South, and Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh represented

Yellowknife Centre candidates Robert Hawkins and Julie Green sparred on the issue of consensus government Thursday night at a forum for four ridings in Yellowknife hosted by Dena Nahjo. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

The consensus style of government came under fire during the second night of a Yellowknife candidates forum hosted by Dene Nahjo, an N.W.T.-based social justice group promoting indigenous leadership.

Candidates running for MLA in Yellowknife Centre agreed the system is dysfunctional, with one new candidate suggesting her incumbent rival is partly to blame.

"What I've seen in the last legislative assembly is a failure of the regular MLAs to work together and exercise their power," said Julie Green, who wants to take Robert Hawkins' seat in the next election.

"I've seen increasingly remote and executive-style government from cabinet. The result is very partisan."

Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh candidates Tom Beaulieu and Richard Edjericon. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)
Green said a broad and public review of the consensus system is in order and that regular MLAs are as much to blame for the divisiveness as cabinet.

Robert Hawkins, who has held the Yellowknife Centre seat for three terms, said it's not easy for regular MLAs like him to keep the cabinet accountable

"If your MLA isn't the minister or the premier or whatever department you're pissed off at this weekend, then you're chewing out your MLA and asking that one person to challenge the government. It's tough."

Bob McLeod, the former premier who's running again for his seat in Yellowknife South, said the current system has its advantages.

"You keep building on the work that was done by previous governments until you get it done, whereas if you go to a party system, depending on the party, you're going from one direction to another."

Radical alternative

One of McLeod's two much younger opponents, Nigit'stil Norbert, said the system has "a lot of room for improvement."

Bob McLeod, Samuel Roland and Nigit'stil Norbert, MLA candidates for Yellowknife South, attend the Dene Nahjo forum at the Tree of Peace Thursday night. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)
She suggested the seven cabinet members be two each from the northern, central and southern parts of the territory, plus "one person who would be elected to represent another category, such as women."

"That would be a dedicated seat within this consensus government, because we need fair representation," she said.

McLeod's other opponent, Samuel Roland, fell squarely in the middle of the debate.

While suggesting the current system is not "working great," he added, "When you vote a cabinet in, I find it's the perfect way to do it because now you've got the elected officials you put there, who are using their best interest and your best interest to figure out who's going to lead this territory in a positive direction."

Thursday's forum included candidates for the Yellowknife North, Yellowknife Centre, Yellowknife South, and Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh ridings. To hear what all of them had to say, take a look below at Guy Quenneville's live tweets from the event.

On mobile? Read up on the forum here.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story said Nigit'stil Norbert suggested reducing the number of MLAs to seven from 19. In fact she suggested a regional distribution of the seven cabinet members.
    Nov 06, 2015 2:34 PM CT

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