A sign directs voters toward a territorial polling station in Yellowknife in 2019. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio
The Northwest Territories will go to the polls on November 14, a six-week delay brought about by wildfires forcing the evacuation of multiple communities.
The new date was decided by MLAs on Monday, who unanimously passed legislation moving the election from October 3 – little more than a month away, with no sign of when some communities might be able to return home.
“The writs will be issued on Monday, October 16, officially opening the nomination period at 10am on that day, and extending it to the following Friday, October 20,” a statement issued by Elections NWT on Monday read.
Frame Lake MLA Kevin O’Reilly, who said he doesn’t plan to run in the upcoming election, said it was not possible to hold fair elections given around 70 percent of the territory’s population are currently affected by evacuation orders.
“I don’t want the election prolonged any longer than necessary,” he said, also raising concerns that the territory’s wildfire season could continue into October.
Territorial elections don’t involve political parties. There are 19 districts, and successfully elected candidates then choose a premier and cabinet from among their number.
Had MLAs not agreed to delay the election, a staggered election running for up to three months could have taken place to work around the issue of some districts being hit by wildfires.