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Former Hay River MLA Jane Groenewegen may run for NWT MP as independent

Jane Groenewegen is hinting at a run at Michael McLeod’s seat in the House of Commons.

Jane Groenewegen is hinting at a run at Michael McLeod’s seat in the House of Commons.

The former Hay River MLA said last week she’s considering running as an independent.

The election, which will take place on Sept. 20, as of Aug. 20 had only two candidates officially in the running: incumbent Liberal MP Michael McLeod and NDP candidate Kelvin Kotchilea.

Groenewegen, who served in the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories between 1995 and 2015 said in an Aug. 20 email she was interested in the position.

“Definitely considering it,” she said in a brief response, adding that she was working on nomination papers to send out to see what kind of response she would receive.

Her Facebook page had posted photos of Elections Canada nomination papers on Friday with listed names of communities where she indicated she was “getting closer to deciding.”

“I wouldn’t have any illusions about actually winning as an independent, but I’m disillusioned with the national parties, so I think there may be Northern voters who feel the same way,” she stated in one post.

A Groenwegen campaign would arguably add some life to a federal race that has been slow out of the gates for most of the major political parties who ran in 2019.

Other parties

The Conservative Party of Canada, which is one of the leading parties nationally, as of Friday afternoon had no candidate named, and Groenewegen indicated she was not interested in filling that role.

“I don’t think the Conservatives even have a candidate yet. And might even be running someone from outside the territory,” she said in an Aug. 18 post.

“The Conservatives had some pretty good candidates on the ticket in the past but then they sent the “suits” up from Ottawa to be their handlers. People who didn’t understand the North.

“Didn’t understand that hardcore partisan, trashing the other candidate politics doesn’t work up here.

“Everyone up here understands the concept of an ‘independent’ candidate.

“Everyone goes to our Legislature as an independent and votes for what they feel best serves the interests of their constituents. Why couldn’t that work for an MP from the Western Arctic?”

Less than a year ago both Yanik D’Aigle, who ran in the 2019 election against McLeod and Wally Schumann, who was Groenewegen’s successor as MLA in 2015, publicly expressed interest as the Conservative representative.

Both have since given up interest due to other personal or professional commitments.

Matthew Lakusta, the Northwest Territories Conservative Party president said in an email that his association board met on Thursday night and was expected to have a candidate prior to the Elections Canada deadline of Aug. 30.

Neither the NWT Green Party Association or Peoples Party of Canada had announced a candidate by Monday.

A message was left with Elizabeth Monroe, CEO of the NWT Green Party Association on Aug. 18 asking about the status of their candidate search. There was no response by Monday.

Martin Masse, the spokesperson for the Peoples Party of Canada was not certain if there would be a candidate for the NWT like in 2019.

“I don’t believe we have received any application so far,” he said. “We have about 250 candidates selected as of (Aug. 18) and are confident we can reach the same level as in 2019, about 315, before the deadline. So not all ridings, no.”