Former Inuvik town councillor Alfred Moses won the Inuvik Boot Lake riding by just five votes in 2011 in a field of four candidates. This time, he's in a head-to-head race against Dez Loreen, a comedian and former journalist who now works for the Inuvialuit region's Environmental Review Board.
Inuvik Boot Lake was the seat of former N.W.T. premier Floyd Roland, who first won the riding in 1999, and was acclaimed here in 2003 and 2007. The riding takes in the southern part of town, which tends to be more affluent than the north end.
For the past 25 years, oil and gas exploration in the Beaufort Sea has kept Inuvik on an economic roller coaster. In March 2011, the National Energy Board granted final approval for the Mackenzie Valley natural gas pipeline after the federal cabinet signed off on the long-delayed $16.2-billion project. Low natural gas prices have kept the project on the drawing board since then, although in August, Imperial Oil asked the National Energy Board to extend the sunset clause on regulatory approval through 2022 in the hopes that gas prices will improve.
The Inuvik region has also seen more economic activity via the construction of the Inuvik-to-Tuktoyaktuk highway, although some in Inuvik worry that the road to the cost will move the locus of the gas industry away from their town to Tuk.
Born and raised in Inuvik, Loreen worked as a TV producer for the Inuvialuit Communications Society, a reporter for the Inuvik Drum and a broadcaster with APTN and CBC. He's also a comic and one of the brains behind the Inuvik-based sketch comedy troupe North of Normal. Apart from some time as the student representative on town council and an unsuccessful run for a council seat in 2002, this is Loreen's first crack at politics, but he says his background in reporting has helped him prepare.
Loreen says the most important issues in this election are childcare and education. Education means young people can get the jobs they want and have a comfortable life in their community. And childcare, he says, is far too expensive in the communities. He says working parents need reliable daycare that's safe and educational. He also says he's ready to ask tough questions and seek greater transparency in the Legislature.
Moses was born in Fort McPherson and raised in Inuvik. He has a diploma in kinesiology from Red Deer College and studied physical education at the University of Alberta. He has worked at the Diavik diamond mine in health and occupational hygiene roles, and in various public health roles for the territorial departments of Health and Municipal and Community Affairs, and the Beaufort Delta Regional Health Authority. He also served on Inuvik town council before becoming an MLA in 2011.
With one term under his belt, Moses says he can be a better MLA for his riding with another term. He says he's running to bring the voice of the people to the Assembly, which he says needs strong, well-educated members. His focus will be on social and health issues, balanced with economic development issues. With the territory's economy struggling, he says the GNWT will have to be careful how it expands the territory's infrastructure.