When is the last time 2,700 people attended an election debate in Inuvik? Or anywhere in the Northwest Territories.

Where would you even put them all? How much sanitizer do you have on hand on a typical Thursday? The new vaccine passports (or proof of vaccination, as the wonks insist we refer to them as) promise to increase the number of people permitted to attend a given event but there couldn’t possibly be enough QR code scanners in the land to make that work at the door. We’d have to book a Guns N’ Roses show just to be able to co-opt the scale of infrastructure on order here.

Unless, of course, we were clever like our Inuvik Drum editor, Eric Bowling, and CBC correspondent Mackenzie Scott. They joined forces to host the debate Oct. 14 and wouldn’t you know it, they put it on the internet.

It wasn’t explosive. It wasn’t particularly dramatic. But it provided the six candidates who took part — the outgoing mayor and a former NWT cabinet minister among them — a platform that as of Friday morning had been viewed 2,700 times.

That’s mind-blowing for a town with a population of close to 3,200, even considering that there isn’t really any proof that it wasn’t just Bowling re-watching his performance 2,699 times overnight. And it’s unlikely any of the successful candidates will be a part of a broadcast with that many viewers again in the coming council term.

Outgoing Mayor Natasha Kulikowski would know. After three years with the chains of office on her shoulders, she’s taking a stab at a council seat. With 11 people running for eight seats, her chances in this particular round of musical chairs are good. She sounded very mayoral, still, and had probably the most professional-looking surroundings of the cast of characters in the video conference, for whatever that’s worth.

It should be worth something because the people of Inuvik, like the rest of us Northerners, deserve leadership that takes the job seriously. And if opting to jump right back into the ocean after a term that has clearly been documented as one of the most demanding in modern society doesn’t scream patent pro, what on Earth does?

Moving away from the endorsement of an individual candidate, it should be exciting to all observers that there are nearly a dozen names in the proverbial hat. The deadline for nominations had to be extended a week because there weren’t enough candidates, if you’ll recall, and this after the last “election” when the whole crop was acclaimed without a vote cast. Good grief!

The participants in the two-hour forum, six of them, presented an encouraging spectrum for a potential town council. With apologies to those who couldn’t take part due to illness or travel, on-screen we learned of small business experience, much time spent on many boards at many levels, legislative experience, time in the GNWT’s cabinet, even, coaching, athletic and recreation experience, search-and-rescue and victim services experience, multiple Indigenous voices and many, many decades of life on the Beaufort Delta.

It is a stressful time in Inuvik. A Covid-19 outbreak has closed both of the shelters (housed in buildings owned by the town these candidates may end up running), and hundreds of cases loom elsewhere in the territory. But this election, which will take place Oct. 25, is something for Inuvikmiut to look forward to.

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