Kelvin Kotchilea will be the New Democratic Party’s NWT candidate in the forthcoming snap federal election, the NDP announced on Friday. So far, Liberal incumbent Michael McLeod is the territory’s only other declared candidate.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to announce a September 20 election on Sunday, sources told Reuters and other national news outlets on Thursday, as he attempts to regain a majority government with his party leading in nationwide polls.
The Conservative Party told Cabin Radio it is in the process of vetting NWT candidates. The Green Party did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday and Friday.
“There is a lot I want to do to help people in my community if I get the chance,” said Kotchilea in a news release. “I am especially focused on fighting climate change and making sure we have a just recovery from this pandemic.”
Kotchilea, a Tłı̨chǫ citizen from Behchokǫ̀, works as a finance officer for the territorial government. He was formerly a renewable resources officer.
“I promise that I will fight for support for the people who need it most,” said Kotchilea. “We have a lot of work to do to build back our economy once this [Covid-19 pandemic] is all over. I will always make sure that the voices of everyone in the Northwest Territories, especially those who often go unnoticed, are heard.”
Shane Pike, the New Democrats’ NWT president, said his party did not want an election but “would rather that our MPs go back to Parliament in the fall to continue the work that they were elected to do.”
“We need to be focused on helping people, not creating more instability by forcing an election on the cusp of a fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Pike wrote.
National NDP leader Jagmeet Singh earlier told Reuters Trudeau’s priority was “this selfish summer election and a try for a power grab.”
Matthew Lakusta, NWT Conservatives’ president, said his board had talked to possible candidates.
“We have not selected anyone at this point,” he told Cabin Radio on Friday morning. With an election so close, Lakusta said the board would swiftly vet then appoint a candidate.
McLeod, the territory’s MP since 2015, has for months made clear he will stand for re-election. He won the NWT seat in 2019 with 40 percent of the vote, ahead of the Conservatives’ Yanik D’Aigle on 26 percent.