North

Western Arctic incumbent unfazed by rival bids

N.W.T. New Democrat Dennis Bevington, who is defending his seat in the Western Arctic riding, says he is not fazed by the Conservative and Liberal leaders' campaign stops in Yellowknife this week.

Northwest Territories New Democrat Dennis Bevington, who is defending his seat in the territory's lone federal riding, says he is not fazed by the Conservative and Liberal leaders' campaign stops in Yellowknife this week.

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper and Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff both made whirlwind visits to the N.W.T. capital city on Sunday evening and Monday morning to back their candidates in the Western Arctic riding.

Harper held campaign events on Sunday and Monday in support of his party's candidate, former N.W.T. health minister Sandy Lee. Harper also enjoyed a snowmobile ride and an outdoor lunch before he left Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Ignatieff met with aboriginal leaders in Dettah, N.W.T., and hosted a public barbecue and campaign rally in downtown Yellowknife on Monday to show support for his candidate, former premier Joe Handley.

Ignatieff 'looking at the stars': Bevington

But Bevington, who has represented the Western Arctic riding since 2006, said he believes Ignatieff wasted his time in coming to the N.W.T.

Western Arctic NDP candidate Dennis Bevington says he believes the federal election contest is between him and the Conservatives, not the Liberals. ((CBC))

"The Conservatives were pretty close to us in the last election, so I can understand why he thinks that this seat is under contention," Bevington told CBC News late Monday.

"Mr. Ignatieff, though, his candidate polled 13 per cent in the last election [in 2008], and I think he's looking at the stars when he comes to the Northwest Territories."

Handley disagreed with Bevington's claim that Western Arctic will be a two-way race between the NDP and the Conservatives.

"The NDP in the North, my sense in the communities is people are feeling they are the third party," Handley said.

"They're not going to form the government for sure, they're not going to form the opposition, and it's time for change."

Three-way race, says editor

Michael Ganley, the editor of Up Here Business magazine in Yellowknife, said it's clearly a three-way race between the NDP, Conservative and Liberal candidates in Western Arctic.

"It's not necessarily that they're all a bunch of thoroughbreds. It's more that they all have an albatross or two around their necks," Ganley said.

"What it has resulted in is that, I think, each one of them can legitimately think they have a shot at getting in."

Ganley added that Bevington's campaign could be harmed if NDP Leader Jack Layton does not visit Yellowknife in the weeks leading up to the May 2 election.

Bevington said it has not yet been decided if Layton will make a campaign stop in the N.W.T.

Also running in the Western Arctic riding are Eli Purchase of the Green Party and Bonnie Dawson of the Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada.

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