Voters in the Northwest Territories appear to have a a pair of candidates to choose from in the Sept. 20 federal election.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked newly minted Governor General Mary Simon to dissolve Parliament Sunday morning, Aug. 15, as he was widely expected to do.

“I think it’s something that we need to do,” said Michael McLeod, who won the NWT for the Liberals in 2015 and held it in 2019. “We are moving into an area where the future is going to be defined by decisions. When we ran in 2019, there was no discussion around COVID-19, and now we are going to be making some tough decisions … and we as a Liberal Party believe that voters deserve a say in how those decisions are shaped. So that’s what this election is about.”

Despite the Liberal Party being in a position of governance since 2015, McLeod doesn’t believe that voter fatigue will be an issue.

“People have been very interested in what the government is doing, what the government is providing, and how it’s approaching the pandemic,” said McLeod. “There continues to be a lot of interest on how we’re going to recover, how the economy is going to come back and what decisions, what investments we’re going to make to support that.”

McLeod will seek his third consecutive term. He faces a challenge from recently named New Democratic Party candidate Kelvin Kotchilea.

Kotchilea echoed McLeod’s statements regarding the impact of COVID-19 during the time frame of the election, bringing up voter engagement.

“It’s kind of in a strange time,” said Kotchilea. “How do you engage with Northerners and get them to the polls?” is the biggest question. When you look back at the MLA election, it was only a 50 per cent voter turnout, and I’m kind of afraid that with a federal election during COVID-19, that the (Northwest) Territories doesn’t fall into that same category as a whole.”

“Right now, we’re still coming up with a strategic platform to engage with voters, hear them out,” continued Kotchilea. “Taking their concerns, the Territory has a whole, and bringing that to the House of Commons in Parliament.”

If elected, Kotchilea hopes to tackle the big issues that are currently being faced in the world today.

“There is a lot I want to do to help people in my community if I get the chance,” said Kotchilea. “I am especially focused on fighting climate change and making sure we have a just recovery from this pandemic.”

The NWT Conservatives have not named a candidate.

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