Don’t change 19-MLA system, NWT commission concludes


The NWT’s political system should remain essentially as-is, a commission has concluded, dropping an option that would have cut three seats.

The Electoral Boundaries Commission recommended “no change in the number of electoral districts in the Northwest Territories,” which currently stands at 19.

The other option the commission had earlier floated would have dropped that number to 16.

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In its final report, the commission declared it was “of the view that, for the most part, in all of the relevant circumstances, the current number and distribution of seats in the Legislative Assembly does provide for fair and effective representation for all citizens.”

The only change recommended in the final report is a minor adjustment of boundaries in Yellowknife and Inuvik “to provide for a more balanced distribution of the community’s population.”

The commission’s members were former minister Glen Abernethy, former judge Ted Richard, and former Hay River mayor Jack Rowe.

In December, they had asked residents for input on a potential shift that would have removed one MLA in each of Yellowknife, Hay River and Inuvik – saving more than $1 million per year, though the commission’s stated rationale was that it would create “a more equitable picture among the urban ridings,” meaning each electoral district would have been closer to the same size than is currently the case.

The final report, tabled last Friday, backed away from that idea (barely a dozen responses were received from the public, and even those opinions were mixed) and declared the 19-MLA system an appropriate and effective one.

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The report also recommended that the names of each electoral district be reviewed. The Deh Cho district, specifically, should be renamed Dehcho in line with the usual Dene Zhatié spelling, the commission stated.

MLAs will now review the report and decide whether to adopt its recommendations.