After his central role responding to the NWT’s summer wildfire crisis, Shane Thompson says he’ll seek four more years as Nahendeh’s MLA.
As environment and communities minister, Thompson held responsibility not only for the territory’s firefighting but also its department in charge of emergency management.
In a two-page letter sent to constituents and provided to reporters on Thursday, Thompson said people had asked him if he still enjoyed the work.
“The answer is yes,” he wrote.
“It has been and always will be about the residents of the riding, especially the youth and Elders. You need to want to help people, and this is what the job is about. You need to answer the phone at two or three in the morning if they call you, without a complaint.”
While Thompson has been the face of the NWT-wide wildfire response – and the criticisms that have come with that job – he used his letter to mount a forthright defence of his record as an MLA serving Nahendeh’s six communities of Fort Simpson, Fort Liard, Wrigley, Nahanni Butte, Jean Marie River and Sambaa K’e.
He said he had brought forward more than 1,000 issues raised by constituents over the past four years, taken more than 20 of those to the territory’s MP, sat on five committees of cabinet, and “only missed four days due to duty travel” in the past four-year term.
A Fort Simpson resident since 1992, Thompson was first elected in 2015 and served four years as a regular MLA before entering Caroline Cochrane’s cabinet in 2019.
“We have had some difficult decisions to be made, but we made them,” he wrote of the crises faced by that cabinet over the past few years. “Sometimes it was not the popular decision, but it was the right decision.”
Thompson won the 2015 election with 292 votes – 29 percent of those cast – in a seven-contender field. He handily won a four-way contest in 2019.
Now, 2023 has the potential to bring another bumper crop of candidates.
So far, six people – Thompson included – have expressed their intention to run for office in Nahendeh this fall.
The election period begins on Monday next week. By Friday, the final candidate list for Nahendeh and other districts will be formalized.