Although Canada’s next federal election may not take place until the fall of 2025, the New Democrats in the NWT are ready.
The party said on Monday that Kelvin Kotchilea would be formally nominated as its NWT candidate at a meeting that night, becoming the first nominated NDP candidate in the country.
When, exactly, Kotchilea will contest an election is not clear. Another election is not due until October 2025 but could be called earlier, a likelihood that increases under a minority government like the current one.
In an unsigned response after this article was first published, the federal NDP communications team told Cabin Radio: “In minority governments, elections can happen any time. We’re interested in getting good people in place so that we’re ready whenever an election is called.”
Kotchilea finished second for the NDP behind Liberal incumbent Michael McLeod in the 2021 federal election, losing by 4,558 votes to McLeod’s 5,387, a margin of 829.
“I’m actually very proud of how close we were,” Kotchilea told Cabin Radio at the time.
“It was very difficult to reach as many northerners as we could. We made do with the situation that we are in. It shows that a lot of people that do get to know me, and meet me, see a bright future in politics for me.”
Kotchilea, a Tłı̨chǫ citizen, also finished second in the territorial Monfwi by-election earlier that year. Jane Weyallon Armstrong won the race to replace Jackson Lafferty in the NWT legislature.
The NDP said federal leader Jagmeet Singh would appear at a virtual meeting on Monday evening to formally nominate Kotchilea, the only individual shortlisted by the party for selection in the NWT.
“He has always been a champion for northerners. He’s fought to make communities better for everyday people and he’ll work to make life more affordable for residents. I know Kelvin will be a strong, Indigenous voice in Ottawa,” Singh was quoted as saying in a Monday press release.
Kotchilea was quoted as saying: “People in the Northwest Territories want northern-made solutions to the issues they’re facing.
“We need the federal government to be a partner in addressing the housing crisis facing our communities and tackling the climate emergency. And our healthcare services should be truly universal and available closer to home for norther residents.”