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How NWT election candidates raised and spent their money

Candidates' election signs outside Sir John Franklin High School in Yellowknife on September 6, 2019
Candidates' election signs outside Sir John Franklin High School in Yellowknife on September 6, 2019. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio

Detailed accounts of how candidates in last year’s NWT election financed their campaigns have been published by Elections NWT.

The spreadsheets show where each candidate’s campaign contributions came from and how they spent the money, based on reports each candidate must file. In total, more than $410,000 was spent across the NWT’s 19 electoral districts.

Nunakput’s Jackie Jacobson – who was successfully elected – reported the highest contribution income, receiving $21,300, though virtually all of that was travel assistance in kind from Tuktoyaktuk-based E Gruben’s Transport Ltd.

Yellowknife Centre’s Julie Green – also elected – received more than $19,000 in contributions. Two more successful candidates were next on the list: Kevin O’Reilly brought in $18,400 and Caroline Wawzonek, now a cabinet member, $18,000.



Dave Ramsay received the most money of any unsuccessful candidate. He raised $16,700 on the way to defeat by O’Reilly in Yellowknife’s Frame Lake district. Kieron Testart and Robert Hawkins each raised around $15,000 in Kam Lake but were defeated by Caitlin Cleveland, who raised a little under $10,000.

In 10 of the 16 districts where campaigns were fought (three candidates were acclaimed unopposed), the candidate who raised the most money won. However, there were some financial upsets.

In Yellowknife North, Rylund Johnson’s campaign finance statement shows he raised just $4,000 in defeating Jan Vallillee ($7,000) and incumbent Cory Vanthuyne ($10,000).

How candidates spent their money changed considerably depending on where in the NWT they were.



In Yellowknife, very few candidates spent money on travel. In more remote parts of the NWT where one district represents several communities, by contrast, candidates poured thousands of dollars into travel to reach as many voters as they could.

Jacobson’s $18,600 on travel in Nunakput – which covers Paulatuk, Sachs Harbour, Tuktoyaktuk, and Ulukhaktok – was easily the most spent getting around by any candidate.

Jacobson’s five Nunakput rivals spent $22,000 on travel between them. Herb Nakimayak, who lost the seat, spent all $4,500 he raised on travel costs, the only candidate NWT-wide to do so.

In Nahendeh, Shane Thompson spent more than $5,000 on travel in successfully defending his seat. Paulie Chinna spent almost $4,500 on travel as she won in the Sahtu.

In all three of those districts, the candidate spending the most on travel won.

Personal spending

The financial statements produced by candidates for public viewing are a condition of running for office, and there are significant penalties for failure to file them on time.

The statements are open to a little interpretation by candidates in terms of how certain expenses or contributions are classified. Contributions to a campaign by a candidate’s own family can show up as having come from the candidate themselves, or from the candidate’s spouse or relatives.

Where candidates’ own names appear as contributors, Steve Norn in Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh contributed the most of any candidate to their own campaign.



Norn’s financial statement suggests he invested $8,386 in his campaign, a little more than Rocky Simpson’s $8,265 in Hay River South. (Both candidates were successful. Simpson gave more than $7,500 of that money back to himself as “other payments” and “other advertising” in his expenditures column.)

Ronald Bonnetrouge ran the most economical successful campaign. He defeated incumbent Michael Nadli in the Deh Cho district while spending only $2,000 (still $900 more than spent by Nadli).

Two candidates in contested ridings neither received nor spent any money at all: Donald Hendrick in Inuvik Twin Lakes and Nadine Delorme in Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh.

The financial statements document the contributions of businesses and organizations alongside those made by individuals to candidates.

For example, the Union of Northern Workers gave $1,500 to O’Reilly, Thompson, Testart, and Range Lake candidate Hughie Graham, who lost to Caroline Cochrane, the territory’s eventual new premier. Union leader Todd Parsons personally donated $400 to O’Reilly and Testart.

Cochrane’s backers included former MLA Wendy Bisaro, communications company SSI Micro, Buffalo Airways, and the North Slave Métis Alliance, which supported a number of candidates.

In full: Read candidates’ financial reports on the Elections NWT website

In Yellowknife Centre, city councillor Niels Konge’s unsuccessful campaign reported receiving $750 from the city’s senior administrative officer, Sheila Bassi-Kellett, and her partner. (Bassi-Kellett subsequently told Cabin Radio her partner had made the donation, but her name appeared as the result of banking through a joint account.)

List: How much each candidate raised

Here, in order from largest to smallest, is the sum raised in contributions by each 2019 NWT election candidate according to their own reporting. Note that contributions include both cash received and contributions in kind (for example, by providing travel services or accommodation at no cost or a discounted rate).

NunakputJackie Jacobson$21,302.14
Yellowknife CentreJulie Green$19,071.73
Frame LakeKevin O’Reilly$18,430.44
Yellowknife SouthCaroline Wawzonek$17,993.75
Frame LakeDave Ramsay$16,734.47
Kam LakeKieron Testart$15,032.50
Kam LakeRobert Hawkins$14,550.00
Great SlavePatrick Scott$12,791.91
Yellowknife SouthGaeleen McPherson$12,361.08
Inuvik Twin LakesLesa Semmler$12,057.47
Yellowknife CentreArlene Hache$11,521.80
Range LakeCaroline Cochrane$11,166.82
Tu Nedhe-WiilidehSteve Norn$10,911.43
Yellowknife NorthCory Vanthuyne$10,454.43
Yellowknife CentreNiels Konge$10,432.95
Great SlaveKatrina Nokleby$9,954.66
Kam LakeCaitlin Cleveland$9,875.00
NahendehShane Thompson$9,516.28
Hay River SouthRocky Simpson$9,091.08
Tu Nedhe-WiilidehLila Fraser Erasmus$8,934.28
Range LakeHughie Graham$8,900.00
SahtuPaulie Chinna$7,305.12
Yellowknife NorthJan Vallillee$7,301.59
NunakputSheila Nasogaluak$7,023.36
SahtuCaroline Yukon$6,579.83
NunakputAlisa Blake$6,519.48
Tu Nedhe-WiilidehRichard Edjericon$6,415.15
NunakputAnnie Steen$6,408.48
Hay River SouthWally Schumann$6,037.67
Kam LakeCherish Winsor$5,998.76
ThebachaLouis Sebert$5,826.05
Kam LakeRommel Silverio$5,767.96
ThebachaFrieda Martselos$5,294.74
Inuvik Boot LakeEugene Rees$5,264.16
ThebachaDon Jaque$5,072.03
SahtuDaniel McNeely$4,500.00
NunakputHerb Nakimayak$4,480.76
Yellowknife NorthRylund Johnson$4,386.94
NunakputHolly Campbell$4,303.77
Yellowknife CentreThom Jarvis$4,256.00
Inuvik Twin LakesSallie Ross$4,130.52
Kam LakeAbdullah Al-Mahamud$4,036.25
ThebachaDenise Yuhas$3,916.71
NahendehRandal Sibbeston$3,382.77
SahtuWilfred McNeely Jr$3,287.83
Tu Nedhe-WiilidehPaul Betsina$3,250.00
Inuvik Boot LakeDiane Thom$3,000.00
Mackenzie DeltaFrederick Blake Jr*$2,553.81
NahendehMike Drake$2,509.04
Inuvik Boot LakeDez Loreen$2,071.24
Deh ChoRonald Bonnetrouge$2,004.23
Deh ChoMichael Nadli$1,100.00
NahendehEric Menicoche$1,040.30
Inuvik Boot LakeJimmy Kalinek$764.46
Inuvik Twin LakesDonald Hendrick$0
Tu Nedhe-WiilidehNadine Delorme$0

* Frederick Blake Jr was acclaimed in Mackenzie Delta but still filed a financial report showing money raised and spent. The two other acclaimed candidates’ reports showed no income or expenditure.