Yellowknife all-candidates forum Wednesday night
Range Lake, Kam Lake, Frame Lake and Great Slave candidates squared off at Tree of Peace
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.
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.
"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.