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Pledging 'northern new deal,' NWT Greens begin election prep

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The Green Party will determine its NWT candidate for the October 2019 federal election on May 10 – following a founding meeting to get things rolling.

Will Gagnon, who is helping to set up the party's electoral district association and sits on the Green Party of Canada’s board, said the party is developing a "northern, green new deal."

The founding meeting is set for April 5, at which time the group will elect its executive, select representatives for each region in the territory, and form a policy committee.

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“We're basically saying, ‘Hey, we want to create jobs, we want to protect the environment, and we also want to have an economy that can support our people,'" said Gagnon, setting out the basics of the party's 2019 platform for the NWT.

One potential pillar of that platform is retrofitting the territory's buildings.

“Buildings in the NWT are some of the most high energy-consuming buildings in Canada,” Gagnon said.

“We can retrofit these buildings quite easily with existing technologies that create jobs [and] reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

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“We need people putting up solar panels [and] retrofitting houses.”

Gagnon explained he believes it’s important to identify opportunities for job creation while at the same time protecting the environment.

“I think there's so much potential in terms of job creation if we really tackle greenhouse gas emissions in the NWT,” he said.

Still, he said, he understands the North faces unique challenges related to energy consumption.

“I think it's important to diversify the economy, recognizing that we live in an extractive economy and this extractive economy has caused a lot of harm in the NWT,” he said.

“We want to look at ways that we could shift this around and increase our well-being here in the North.”

He said people are “one and the same with the environment” and this idea needs to be incorporated into legislation.

Gagnon claimed many people in the territory relate to the Green Party’s values but, come election time, try to vote strategically – and may not vote for the party they feel most aligned with.

In the past five federal elections, Green Party candidates in the NWT have received between 1.85 and 5.49 percent of the vote.

“We're certainly aiming for much more [than that percentage],” he responded.

“We've seen across Canada that … there's a green wave coming up. There’s so much green energy [in the NWT].”