Yellowknife all-candidates forum Wednesday night

A treatment centre and a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing were just two of the familiar hopes revived at a forum for 10 Yellowknife territorial election candidates Wednesday night.

Range Lake, Kam Lake, Frame Lake and Great Slave candidates squared off at Tree of Peace

Frame Lake candidates Jan Fullerton, Kevin O'Reilly, and David Wasylciw and Range Lake candidate Caroline Cochrane-Johnson were among the 10 Yellowknife candidates at the forum Wednesday. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

A treatment centre and a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing were just two of the familiar hopes revived at a forum for 10 Yellowknife territorial election candidates Wednesday night.  

Dene Nahjo, an N.W.T.-based social justice group promoting indigenous leadership, hosted the three-hour forum for candidates running in Yellowknife's Great Slave, Frame Lake, Range Lake and Kam Lake constituencies.

All candidates agreed more needs to be done to help treat people's addictions; they just didn't always agree on how to do that.

The two Great Slave candidates, Glen Abernethy and Chris Clarke, along with Frame Lake candidate Roy Erasmus. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)
"Being a recovering alcoholic who sobered up at the Yellowknife treatment centre many years ago, I [think] we should have a treatment centre here in the NWT," said Frame Lake candidate Roy Erasmus.

One of Erasmus' three opponents for the seat, Jan Fullerton, said a centralized, brick-and-mortar facility isn't the solution.

"I'm not sure that going to an addictions treatment centre within the Northwest Territories would have a higher success rate than going to one outside of the territory," she said. "People who have gone to addictions treatment centres in other jurisdictions, when they come back to their communities, the success rate after a year... I've heard some statistics as abysmal as 1 out of 100 people still managing to be on the recovery path.

"Instead, I would like us to look at programs that are more community-based and more holistic and are more inclusive of families."

Incumbent Kam Lake MLA Dave Ramsay suggested the current Stanton Territorial Hospital, which will be vacated and replaced by a new hospital, could host a treatment centre.

"It would be the perfect opportunity for us to take a look at a mental health and addictions centre in the Northwest Territories," he said.

The territorial government has not yet announced what it intends to do with the building.

That darned F-word again

When addressing the subject of protecting water, two candidates, Erasmus and Kam Lake hopeful Kieron Testart, said they would support a moratorium on fracking until more scientific data was generated about its potential impacts on water.

Kam Lake candidates Dave Ramsay and Kieron Testart disagreed on the need for a university in Yellowknife. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)
Regular MLAs in the recently-wrapped 17th legislative assembly had attempted to do just that, but were voted down by cabinet.

"Fracking is a huge user of freshwater — water we can't get back," said Testart.

Wednesday's forum was notable for its utter lack of friction between candidates. That's not to say clear differences didn't emerge between candidates in the same constituency, however.

Testart and Ramsay disagreed on the notion of a university in Yellowknife.

Ramsay supported the idea, saying it would draw research dollars to the North. But Testart questioned whether the notoriously cash-strapped government can afford such a big capital investment at this time.

Dene Nahjo is hosting a second forum tonight in Yellowknife, this one for candidates in the Tu Nedhe Wiilideh, Yellowknife North, Yellowknife South and Yellowknife Centre constituencies.

It starts at 6 p.m. at the Tree of Peace Friendship Centre.

For a full recap of Wednesday's forum, check out our live-tweeting from the event below.

On mobile? Read up on the forum here.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.