Our editorial board has put together three questions for all MLA candidates and acclaimed members seeking public office as part of our coverage of the 2019 territorial election.

Over the remainder of the campaign, we will publish responses on our website.

The three questions are:

  1. What is your position on the carbon tax and would you repeal it if the Liberal government is defeated in the federal election? How should the NWT play a part in combating climate change?
  2. How do you as an MLA intend to improve the economy?
  3. Would you support an Indigenous-based addictions treatment centre in the Northwest Territories?


  1. What is your position on the carbon tax and would you repeal it if the Liberal government is defeated in the federal election? How should the NWT play a part in combating climate change? 

 There seems to be little support for the NWT carbon tax either because of its potential impact on existing high costs or its uncertain effectiveness to actually reduce emissions. Nevertheless, I do not think that trying to reopen that debate in the short term is the best use our resources. I think government efforts would be best spent taking steps to in fact reduce emissions.  

Caroline Wawzonek, MLA candidate for Yellowknife South

Reduce reliance on fossil fuels:

  • Cleaner energy infrastructure: link the south slave into the existing Talston infrastructure, plus either expand Talston or link to southern grid then connect the North Slave; and
  • Community-scale renewables. 

Incentivize innovation: 

  • Research/development funding plus start up funding scaled for northern small & medium businesses that are developing GHG reduction products or services such as biomass, heat- capture initiatives and transportation alternatives;
  • Partnering with corporations looking to reduce their carbon footprints and develop carbon-neutral and/or sustainable resource development practices.
  • Finally, ensure the action plans already in place (including the 2030 NWT Climate Change Strategy) are implemented effectively and that interim results are methodically evaluated.  We cannot afford to discover in 2030 that today’s good intentions did not achieve the intended results.  


  1. How do you as an MLA intend to improve the economy? 

I believe we need to revitalize our mineral resource sector, support growth among northern owned small and medium sized businesses and seek opportunities to drive diversity and innovation.  

  • Infrastructure: Catch-up on infrastructure across sectors from communications to transport to energy. Our vision should be about future-building for the NWT. Major projects involve significant capital so if asked to pick a priority, I would focus on energy. Providing cleaner, less costly energy through large scale Territory-wide projects and community-level hydro, wind, solar or bio-mass could help make resource development more economically viable and reduce operating costs and costs of living. Very importantly: we need to get past feasibility studies and make choices to move forward and seek funding.
  • Regulatory systems: Ensure that our regulatory systems are responsive and streamlined. Regulations impact business development at all scales and across industries.
  • Procurement: The current government contracting systems are not effectively supporting northern managed and owned businesses, including Indigenous development corporations. We should support northern based businesses who spend their employment dollars in the north.
  • Provide land access clarity and certainty in land ownership to encourage entrepreneurship and investor confidence.


  1. Would you support an Indigenous-based addictions treatment centre in the Northwest Territories? 

    When I was still working in criminal defense, I saw many clients leave their home communities to attend residential treatment near Hay River. Within too short a time frame, I often saw the same person back in conflict with the law and relapsing in their addiction.
    Residential treatment anywhere is only going to be effective if we can establish long-term, post-treatment recovery programs and develop healthy community support networks.
    I support a combination of solutions to better support addiction recovery in the NWT. An NWT based treatment centre could be part of the solution but whether in the NWT or in southern Canada, there needs to be a post-treatment plan in place for individuals to continue their recovery and build healthy relationships.

My priorities:  

    • Post-treatment after care that includes culturally-appropriate, individualized relapse prevention plans.
    • Community support networks: resume efforts for a mobile team that can travel between communities regularly to shore-up local networks.
    • Invest in community partnerships with organizations already doing amazing work like the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation.
    • Address the spectrum of housing needs so people have safe, healthy places to live. 
    • For all programs, maintain follow up statistics for continuous program evaluation and improvement.

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin College and the University of Ottawa. Simon can be reached at...

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