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N.W.T. MLAs vote to ask for authority to postpone election

A petition has been started calling for an early election after Northwest Territories MLAs voted Monday to ask the federal government for the authority to extend the term of this legislative assembly by up to a year.

E-petition started to hold election early

Northwest Territories MLAs voted Monday to ask the federal government for the authority to extend the term of this legislative assembly by up to a year.

Ottawa is already about to give the government the authority to extend its term for up to a year but that would only begin with the next assembly.

MLAs Jane Groenewegen and Michael Miltenberger say having three elections in one month could result in voter fatigue. MLAs voted Monday to ask the federal government for the authority to extend the term of this legislative assembly by up to a year. (CBC )

Weledeh MLA Bob Bromley is one of seven MLAs who opposed the motion to ask the federal government for authority to extend the term of this assembly.

"To avoid questions of ethics and questions of undemocratic stances, we as politicians should not be changing legislation that might provide benefits to ourselves without clear direction from the electorate," he said.

Hay River South MLA Jane Groenewegen and those who support the motion say delaying an election will avoid having municipal, territorial and possibly federal elections in October 2015.

Aboriginal leaders say the lack of public debate is worrying.

"If you allow things to continue without questioning, without accountability, that becomes the norm," said Bill Erasmus, National Chief of the Dene Nation. "To me this is bullying. This is pushing through their ideas, which is a handful of people."

MLAs have discussed the idea of postponing the election several times in closed door meetings but it wasn't until late last week, when Groenewegen advanced the motion to ask for federal authority to extend their term, that they started talking about it publicly.

Dehcho Grand Chief Herb Norwegian said it was "bizarre" that MLAs would try to extend their terms without first consulting voters.

"Either keep it as it is or have an early election," said Norwegian.

Yellowknife resident Paul Falvo has created a petition on the legislative assembly's e-petition website calling for an early election.

MLAs who supported the motion say there is no intent to benefit from it.

If they do extend their term, MLAs would collect up to a year's worth of extra pay, benefits and expenses. According to the latest MLAs' pension report, both Groenewegen and the MLA who seconded the motion — Thebacha's Michael Miltenberger — will reach maximum pension benefits during a fifth year of this assembly.

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