Ernest Betsina, the former Chief of Ndilǫ, has joined Nadine Delorme and Steve Norn in announcing his intention to run in the forthcoming Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh by-election.
Betsina served as one of two Yellowknives Dene First Nation chiefs from 2013 until 2021. His intended candidacy for the role of Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh MLA was first reported by the CBC.
A by-election is being held as former MLA Norn’s seat was declared vacant in November. He had been found to have broken the MLAs’ code of conduct after failing to isolate appropriately and subsequently misleading the public, while MLAs also accused him of a “pattern of toxic behaviour” in the legislature.
Betsina told Cabin Radio he would bring a “good track record” as a politician to the role if elected.
“I want to bring back that stability, I want to bring back the integrity of the riding,” he said. “The constituents have real choices now.”
Norn was elected with 230 votes in 2019’s territorial election. Richard Edjericon received 130 votes, Lila Fraser Erasmus 117, Paul Betsina 103, and Delorme nine.
The Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh by-election will be the NWT’s first to be held by mail-in ballot only, an accommodation designed to preserve safety during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Nominations will be accepted by Elections NWT from January 10 to January 14. A list of confirmed candidates will be published shortly after nominations close at 2pm January 14.
Betsina said the territory’s present Covid-19 outbreak – almost 700 active cases were reported on Friday – would make campaigning in person difficult. Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh encompasses four communities, in Ndilǫ, Dettah, Fort Resolution, and Łútsël K’é, between which travel is not always straightforward even without a pandemic.
“Covid is certainly a challenge,” Betsina said. “I’ll definitely try to go as many places as I can, but I will probably try to get phone numbers and set up a website soon, and Facebook.”
Voters have until January 29, 2022 to register. Ballots must be received by 8pm on February 8.