NWT Election 2019: All of Cabin Radio’s candidate interviews

Cabin Radio NWT Election 2019

Election day is on Tuesday across the NWT, with 19 MLAs set to be chosen before polls close at 8pm.

On this page, find out more about each candidate and read full interviews to help you decide who gets your vote.

Most polling stations are open from 9am till 8pm on Tuesday. You can locate your polling station using Elections NWT’s website.

At 8pm, Cabin Radio’s rolling video coverage of the election results will begin via Facebook Live and simulcast on our live stream.



Jesse Wheeler, Scott Letkeman, and AJ Goodwin host a light-hearted variety show from Cabin Radio’s downtown studios with political coverage and live results updates as they happen from Ollie Williams, Sarah Pruys, and Emelie Peacock.

Cabin Radio’s website will host live, in-depth coverage throughout the night – not just the results but also what those results mean, in simple terms, and what the winning candidates pledged to work on for the next four years.

A field of 36 male and 22 female candidates is running for office this year. More women are running in 2019 than in 2011 and 2015 combined.

Three candidates are set to be acclaimed: RJ Simpson in Hay River North, Frederick Blake Jr in Mackenzie Delta, and for a second time Jackson Lafferty in Monfwi.



Meanwhile, Premier Bob McLeod, cabinet ministers Robert C McLeod, Alfred Moses, and Glen Abernethy, and regular MLA Tom Beaulieu are all stepping down without contesting their seats.

Cabin Radio has conducted in-depth interviews with 48 of the 58 candidates across the territory. The remaining 10 could not be reached.

Full transcripts of each interview are linked next to candidates’ names below.

You can also listen to audio versions of each interview using the Cabin Radio’s Lunchtime News podcast.

To find out more about voting, consult the Elections NWT website.

More information:

Deh Cho

  • Ronald Bonnetrouge – no interview available

Cabin Radio did not receive any further information about Ronald’s platform, and did not hear back from him following an initial response regarding our interview request.

– Adamant the “effectiveness of our programs and services” must be improved across the NWT
– Calls for a territorial addictions treatment centre, saying the NWT is prepared to invest heavily in other things so why not
– Believes he’s a “strong voice” reflecting the views of Deh Cho residents



Frame Lake

– Saying he holds cabinet accountable, O’Reilly believes the business case is not made for projects like the Taltson expansion and Slave Geological Province road
– Wants the NWT to focus on transforming its economy through the new university and tourism
– Hopes to introduce a Climate Crisis Act to ensure “investments we make consider climate-change implications”

– Says he can “charge up” the NWT’s economy, adding the territory’s future may rest on building the Slave province road
– Insists he’ll take a “balanced” approach to the economy and environment
– As a former cabinet minister, believes he has the experience to fill the “big void” as several current ministers step down

Great Slave

– Says engineers like her bring critical thinking and evaluative skills to government, and know how to do things efficiently
– Wants the NWT to keep building all-season roads and use tourism as a means of attracting more people to move north
– Sees the new university as a world-class driver of northern research and a way to fill part-time vacancies in Yellowknife

– Says university must create buildings and programs “where students can be inspired to learn by the space they are in”
– Keenly advocates for a greater focus on seniors, particularly in the areas of programming and housing
– Calls for re-examination of NWT’s political structures, saying some parts aren’t working and residents must have their say

Hay River North

– Believes the Mackenzie Valley Highway can be a “game changer” for economic diversification
– In Hay River, wants to push for land development to be made easier
– Says: “I’m going put my name forward for premier because it’s time for a change. I don’t want to go another four years through the same system that we’ve been through”

Hay River South

– Prioritizes helping Hay River expand and supporting the Pine Point Mine
– Says he helped diversify the economy while managing “one of the largest portfolios in the NWT, if not Canada”
– Wants the NWT to do more with remotely delivered health and education services

  • Rocky Simpson – no interview available

Cabin Radio did not receive any further information about Rocky’s platform. He was not able to arrange a time to complete an interview with Cabin Radio.

Inuvik Boot Lake

– Top priority is helping the people of Inuvik to live a more comfortable life by chipping away at the cost of living
– Wants to see locals trained to install solar or take on other projects southern contractors currently handle
– Calls for more resources to help Inuvik tackle addictions and mitigate the impacts of climate change



– Wants to harness the Inuvik-Tuk Highway to find more ways of developing oil and gas in the region
– Focus on community wellness, ensuring residents have access to stable counselling, addictions treatment, and education
– Has no interest in joining cabinet, saying it’s important for Inuvik to have a regular MLA for a change

  • Eugene Rees – no interview available

Cabin Radio did not receive further information about Eugene’s platform, and did not hear back regarding an interview.

  • Diane Thom – no interview available

Cabin Radio did not receive further information about Diane’s platform. She was not able to make herself available for an interview.

Inuvik Twin Lakes

– Prioritizes construction of Mackenzie Valley Highway to open up potential for more oil and gas development
– Want a new university to stay headquartered in Fort Smith and for Inuvik to have strengthened trades programs
– Says he wants to continue the “good, solid voice” of Robert C McLeod for Inuvik, as McLeod steps down

– Says now is the time for Inuvik to elect an MLA focused on social issues and wellness
– Wants action on housing, education, and tourism services
– “I certainly have a heart for the people of Inuvik,” she says. “I have a heart for being an advocate to ensure people get the very best programming”

  • Lesa Semmler – no interview available

Cabin Radio did not receive further information about Lesa’s platform. She was not able to make herself available for a Cabin Radio interview.

Kam Lake

  • Abdullah Al-Mahamud – no interview available

Cabin Radio did not receive further information about Abdullah’s platform. He was unable to schedule an interview with Cabin Radio prior to our late September deadline.

– Wants to represent small business and the public sector, drawing on her experience of both
– Hopes to address “insecurities” in infrastructure and food production, while warning NWT is “hollowing out” middle class
– Says long-term solution to Yellowknife’s downtown issues is, in part, increased supports for children, families, and educators through schools



– Calling himself a fighter, Hawkins says MLAs failed to “change the narrative” for Yellowknife’s working families
– Wants more done to attract new residents (and federal transfer payments), plus more supports to help seniors stay here
– As a former MLA for YK Centre, says people are “energized” by his return when they speak to him

– Focusing on improving the quality of healthcare, Silverio wants additional payments to attract more staff to the NWT
– Believes he can better help Yellowknife by switching from city councillor to territorial politician
– Saying February’s narrowly averted strike inspired him to run, claims the NWT needs “a leader that listens with the heart”

– Wants a five-percent cut in infrastructure spend to help fund social programs and a new tax benefit, while suggesting Atco could help pay for the Taltson hydro expansion
– Believes a brick-and-mortar managed alcohol program and detox facility in the NWT is “entirely achievable”
– Argues he offers real alternatives but Kam Lake rivals are “status-quo politicians”

– Supports guaranteed income, childcare subsidies, investment in resource extraction
– Says NWT “has a decent handle” on action regarding climate change
– Promises to “bring strategic focus” to NWT government

Mackenzie Delta

– Says settling land claims and signing self-government agreements must be a focus for the next government
– Priorities are building a school and all-weather road for Aklavik, while improving RCMP and nursing services and looking at an airstrip in Tsiigehtchic
– Wants NWT government to lobby Ottawa as local housing stock has still not increased


– Urges the next government to think creatively about housing, using tiny homes as an example
– Believes leaders must spend more time in communities with Elders, vulnerable residents, and other community members
– Says he is ready to “seriously consider” a bid for the position of premier


– Calls it the “have-not” region, says he’ll work – ideally as a minister – to drive infrastructure dollars to Fort Simpson and the region
– Believes healthcare spending can be reformed to help the Dehcho retain doctors for longer periods, offering continuity to patients
– Says basic investments can help the local economy. “Our campground is basically empty because nobody will come here, the roads are so bad”

  • Eric Menicoche – no interview available

Cabin Radio did not receive further information about Eric’s platform and could not reach him by phone to arrange an interview.



– Wants a bridge built over the Liard River, a new hospital for Fort Simpson, and a records storage facility
– Feels the Nahanni needs more tourism promotion and wants the Dehcho to do more with its timber resources
– Is interested in being education or environment minister, saying the NWT should learn from the Finnish education system

– Says he has dealt with hundreds of constituent issues while nurturing larger projects across communities
– At the territorial level, wants funding for education examined, an updated medical travel policy, and clean-energy solutions for small communities
– Believes GNWT should do more to help locals prepare for and win contracts, to keep money in the territory


  • Alisa Blake – no interview available

Cabin Radio did not receive further information about Alisa’s platform. She was not able to make herself available for a Cabin Radio interview.

  • Holly Campbell – no interview available

Cabin Radio did not receive further information about Holly’s platform. A Cabin Radio interview with Holly could not be published.

– Former MLA and speaker wants to work on the recurring issues of housing, health, and education
– Supporting Elders before, during, and after their medical travel is a priority
– Says Tuktoyaktuk is “studied to death” in relation to climate change and urgently needs more money to help the community adapt

– With living costs “screaming out loud” in his district, Nakimayak’s top re-election priority is to find ways of lowering costs
– On climate change, wants the GNWT to help guide communities like Tuktoyaktuk, parts of which are “literally sinking”
– Believes his actions helped stabilize the government over the past four years, even though he paid a price among regular MLAs

– Says she has the lived experience of overcoming hurdles in her remote community, Sachs Harbour
– Focuses on health, education, and housing, in particular a review of rental rates
– Demands a clearer voice from the GNWT to communities. “Use your social media, speak in the language, write in the language of the community”

– With a background in shipping, logistics and freight forwarding, focuses on economic development and infrastructure
– Argues her district needs Elders’ facilities and cultural centres for tourism and practising culture
– “If we don’t protect our community from falling into the sea, then all our efforts in economic development, all our efforts in wellbeing for residents, are going to be wasted”



Range Lake

– Wants to lead further investment in early childhood development, “otherwise we’re always doing crisis intervention”
– Saying she challenged cabinet’s norms as a minister, expresses pride in how she collaborated with MLAs to develop polytechnic university plans
– Wants NWT to focus more clearly on fewer priorities, saying “there were so many priorities that nothing got really done appropriately”

– Pledging better collaboration and communication, wants the NWT to switch focus from a “social mandate” to economic stimulus
– Wants exploration incentives doubled and a renewed emphasis on partnership between levels of government
– Calls for new university to be based in Yellowknife, with a vision of world-leading programs covering permafrost and Indigenous healing and wellness


– Feels Sahtu must prepare for “once-in-a-lifetime” job, education, and tourism benefits of Mackenzie Valley Highway
– Wants to improve preventative mental health services in the communities and hire a doctor for Norman Wells
– Promises to learn from a long line of well-known Sahtu leaders. “I have 20 years solely working in the Sahtu, observing all the leadership of the past”

– Considers work to date on the Mackenzie Valley Highway a big accomplishment, says pushing the project on is a focus
– Wants to see further reforms to Nutrition North and work to improve Sahtu housing
– Says: “The people I represent would rather see me working with cabinet than working against cabinet”

– Feels he has the experience to “hit the ground running” with a focus on housing, training, and education
– Says he has innovative ideas to take to the territorial level from tackling Fort Good Hope’s housing crisis
– Has plans to establish training facilities that will help Sahtu youth to get jobs in the region without having to leave

– An experienced social worker, says she wants to listen to residents and “try my best to help them out”
– Wants urgent action on housing, including supports for rent-to-own and building your own home in the Sahtu
– Calls for a dedicated diabetes nurse for the Sahtu, plus easier access to medical escorts and better homecare for Elders


– Adamantly opposed to the Taltson hydro expansion, he argues the money is better spent elsewhere
– Stating Fort Smith is “in terrible shape,” Jaque plans regular working groups with community leaders if elected
– Wants to see the college restored to its former glory and says more tourism is an “easy get” for Fort Smith

– Says her time as Salt River chief shows she’s a “compassionate, strong, proven leader”
– Wants the NWT to be run like a business
– Warns Aurora College’s HQ “will not be leaving Fort Smith when I become MLA”



– Urges GNWT to headquarter polytechnic university in Fort Smith, saying “Harvard is not located in New York, and Oxford and Cambridge are not located in London”
– Says his work as justice minister helped to bring NWT corrections “into the 21st century”
– Believes Fort Smith needs more government jobs

– Says jobs for Fort Smith is a priority, describing “scary” empty offices in the community
– Wants “a huge investment” in education, from JK to the polytechnic university
– Tells residents “I don’t have any political baggage and I’ll stand up for Fort Smith”

Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh

– Says leadership runs in his family, on both sides of Great Slave Lake and on Great Bear Lake
– Argues people need to be informed and trained in both the wage economy and in traditional knowledge to have a secure future
– Sees mine reclamation and tourism as opportunities to stimulate his district’s economy

– Prioritizes turning the district into Canada’s “first Indigenous state” and “un-municipalizing” the four communities
– Says “the identity of the NWT must be defined” before any real progress for its peoples can be achieved
– Urges investment in sustainable energy

– Detailed platform includes calls to settle land claims, revise the day school settlement, and work with Nunavut to protect caribou
– Wants to to index the federal Canada Pension Plan to inflation to offset the high cost of living in the NWT
– Advocates for an NWT-based addictions treatment facility and an independent review of the NWT Power Corporation

– Strongly believes communities must make more of their own decisions as they know which solutions are needed
– Calls for work to build alliances between government, communities, Indigenous peoples, and industry
– Believes she can offer the “strong voice” once displayed by her father, former Great Bear MLA Peter Fraser

– Prioritizes housing, employment, and settling land claims
– Wants to develop tourism to replace jobs lost when the mines close, citing Thaidene Nene as an example to follow
– Says a big issue for him in this election is to get out the youth vote and help young people connect with politics

Yellowknife Centre

– Believes downtown supports have improved in the past four years, with newly introduced services having a real impact. Urges completion of a good-neighbour agreement
– Wants childcare to be much cheaper and easier to access, along with a push to greatly improve seniors’ housing, care, and programming
– Hopeful about economic impact of Taltson expansion and Slave Geological Province road, but wants to see more spent on tourism infrastructure and a new YK visitors’ centre



– Has four steps to transform downtown, saying the whole approach must change. “It’s all about, ‘These poor people are totally incapable of doing anything.’ Which is not true”
– Says mines “present a lot of hope, and that’s what our Northwest Territories needs right now,” but wants much more action to promote the green economy too
– Promises a different style of MLA, claiming the past four years showed a failure to listen or lead in Yellowknife Centre

– Says he’ll listen to downtown residents and be an “approachable” contrast to the “rancour” of the past four years
– Calls for a “change in tone” toward mining and exploration, believing the Slave Geological Province road is a “game changer”
– Wants a new Yellowknife university campus in his district and “new, culturally appropriate partners” to tackle downtown issues

– Says he can build relationships and get things done at the territorial level. “Our next government needs people like that”
– Wants to get land claims settled and streamline permitting, but also says politicians need to “stay out of the weeds” on some issues, giving the university as an example
– Believes senior staff with responsibility for the sobering centre should relocate their offices to the facility

Yellowknife North

– Says he’ll work to reduce government “doublespeak” and provide more transparent, collaborative governance
– While supporting the Taltson hydro expansion, says “mega-infrastructure” projects require much closer scrutiny
– Wants NWT government to look at doing more to introduce universal daycare and a form of guaranteed liveable income

– Says she’s a proven team player with decades of successful collaboration through her work in medical IT services
– Wants more incentives to attract and retain healthcare staff, paid for in part by a “marginal” reduction in infrastructure spend
– Feels leases in YK North district should be converted to titled lots

– Believes he was “the voice of reason and balance” in the legislature for the past four years
– Says ideas like housing Yellowknife university campus inside Centre Square Mall are examples of his creative thinking
– Calls himself a champion of mining, mineral exploration, and small business in the legislature

Yellowknife South

– Says her perspective is unique as an Indigenous, female, lifelong northerner employed as a mining executive
– Puts the economy first, setting out a program of incentives to give northerners more jobs while maintaining investment
– Calls for thorough re-examination of NWT tax regime, arguing it may be doing more harm than good

– Urges the NWT to improve land access and streamline regulation to reinvigorate the economy
– Says her experience can help build a collaborative government with “real, measurable results”
– Wants stability in the structure of NWT healthcare with politicians who “invest in, and understand” the system