Former industry minister Dave Ramsay says he will oppose Frame Lake MLA Kevin O’Reilly in this fall’s NWT election.
Ramsay, who maintains close industry ties, urged Yellowknifers – in announcing his proposed candidacy on Wednesday – to “wake up to the reality that the mines that provide jobs, commerce and government revenue are not going to last forever and Yellowknifers, in particular, are going to feel those impacts worsening over time if action isn’t taken now.”
On Facebook, Ramsay wrote: “We cannot afford four more years of nothingness.”
O’Reilly, by contrast, is well-known for his association with northern environmental groups, and has been labelled an opponent of industry by the NWT’s chamber of mines (something O’Reilly contests).
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Ramsay served as MLA for Kam Lake from 2003 until 2015, an election in which he was deposed by Kieron Testart.
Candidates do not have to live in the district for which they run for office.
“I had told some potential Kam Lake candidates that I was not going to be running there this fall,” said Ramsay, explaining his choice of district. He is not a confirmed candidate until nominations open in September.
“From 2003-2007, I represented a large section of the Frame Lake riding when it was a part of Kam Lake,” Ramsay continued, “so I have a personal connection to the riding from that experience.”
Ramsay and O’Reilly were once Yellowknife city councillors together.
In 2016, newly installed MLA O’Reilly suggested Ramsay had created a perceived conflict of interest in joining the board of mining company Fortune Minerals, less than six months after being voted out of office.
O’Reilly said the move raised “perception issues” given Ramsay had been the industry minister, with some oversight of such companies. Ramsay told the CBC the NWT’s conflict of interest commissioner “didn’t see any difficulty.”
Ramsay remains on the board of Fortune, and also of Denendeh Investments. He has established a consulting company in the years since the 2015 election.