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  • Our Platform:

    Vote Growth is the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 Territorial Election platform. Through engaging with our membership of almost 400 local businesses, we’ve identified five key issues and proposed solutions that we believe will strengthen the Yellowknife business community and contribute to long-term prosperity. 

    View our full Territorial Election Platform here.

    The 5 key issues are:

    1. Liquor Licensing & Regulations;
    2. Fibre Redundancy;
    3. Community Government Underfunding;
    4. Post-Secondary Transformation (Yellowknife-Based University); and,
    5. Land availability.

    We believe that the key to Yellowknife’s prosperity is growth – increasing our population and attracting more business and investment to Yellowknife. This theme is woven throughout each of the key issues we’ve identified. 

    The commitments that each candidate makes during this territorial campaign are critically important for Yellowknife businesses. That is why we’re asking all candidates in Yellowknife Electoral Districts to answer our question:

    If elected, will you commit to following through on the recommendations set forth in Vote Growth? Why or why not?

    In The Media:

    CBC. (2019). Summer telecommunication outages cost Yellowknife economy $10M, says Chamber. Retrieved from: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/yellowknife-lost-millions-telecom-outages-1.5269385

    CBC. (2019). Yellowknife Chamber calls on candidates to back university in city, build fibre line. Retrieved from: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/chamber-platform-candidates-nwt-1.5269395

    NNSL. (2019). Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce reveals election wish list. Retrieved from: https://nnsl.com/yellowknifer/yellowknife-chamber-of-commerce-reveals-election-wish-list/

    Election Information:

    For information about the upcoming Territorial Election, including key dates, please visit Elections NWT: https://www.electionsnwt.ca/en

    For information about candidates in all Electoral Districts, please visit: https://www.electionsnwt.ca/en/list-candidates


    The Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce will not be hosting debates.

    Our friends at the NWT Chamber of Commerce are hosting forums. For more information, please visit: https://www.nwtchamber.com/

  • Yellowknife Candidates:

    Yellowknife Centre:

    Julie Green

    Platform emailed Sept. 3, 2019. No response to Vote Growth received yet.

    Arlene Hache

    Platform emailed Sept. 3, 2019. No response to Vote Growth received yet.

    Thom Jarvis

    Platform emailed Sept. 3, 2019. No response to Vote Growth received yet.

    Niels Konge

    Platform emailed Sep. 6, 2019. No response to Vote Growth received yet.

    Yellowknife North:

    Jan Vallillee

    "Thank you for the opportunity to outline my experience and views and why I chose to run for MLA Yellowknife North. I decided to run for MLA because of my desire for positive change, continued commitment to improve the lives of Northerners.

    So many northerners have witnessed MLA’s vote against their constituent’s wishes. That’s not democracy. I’ve heard consistently that we need a more gender balanced, transparent legislature.  Residents are tiring of the same ole. This is a consistent message I’m hearing from all residents, not just YK North.

    This can’t change overnight, but I hope to be one part of a larger piece to drive change so our government operates more democratically, cooperatively with all levels of government, more efficiently, and is far more transparent.

    I selected Yellowknife North because I grew up, and continue to enjoy, weekends and summers along the Ingraham Trail in my second home. It’s a place I go to decompress and ground myself.

    I’m dedicated to improve inefficiencies in our bureaucratic system for all residents, businesses and industries. The government needs to make different choices with tax payer funds and start ensuring people are our priority. I’m fully cognizant that industry plays an incredibly important and necessary economic role in the NWT. That being said, we cannot lose sight that it is our people who are our most important resource.

    I grew up in Yellowknife and for over 50 years have seen the vital role that local businesses play in our economy and community. The following are my thoughts on your platform issues.

    Issue #1 Liquor Licensing and Regulations

    I am not opposed to creating a more reasonable business environment, but I am cautious about promoting and increasing the sale of alcohol. Addictions and chronic disease rates in the NWT are among the highest in Canada. We have twice the national average of tobacco addiction and just under twice the national average of alcohol addiction. We need to step up our efforts in harm reduction and prevention. Unless our population is supported to engage in better lifestyle choices, our health and social services system will continue to be exhausted.

    The Liquor Act and regulatory processes certainly need a review. I have spoken with some residents and business owners and there does seem to be an artificial divide between the different licenses for establishments. A liquor license should not be the determining factor when your family wants to go out for Sunday brunch.  Parents and families should be able to make their own decisions about what eating establishments are suitable for their family. Removing this type of bureaucratic red tape is the kind of decision I would support.

    Issue #2 Fibre Redundancy

    The NWT spans over 1 million square kilometres, behind only Nunavut and Quebec in land area. The isolation and small population sizes of our communities makes affordable and reliable high-speed communication is a mandatory, not a nice to have. This is not just about economic growth, this supports health, safety and education.

    The GNWT did good work constructing the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Link and I believe that there is another fibre optic line planned for the Dempster Highway that will connect in Inuvik which will provide a backup connection once completed. I support Northwestel pursuing federal funding to protect the infrastructure in place and to improve the connection of all our communities.

    Issue #3 - Community Government Underfunding

    It is important that our community governments are sufficiently resourced to provide quality services to their residents. As an elected leader, it is my commitment to reviewing the resources and spending of the GNWT to ensure that we give the appropriate support to community governments.

    I understand that the majority of this shortfall is in capital, this highlights the importance of making strategic capital investments. I think the GNWT should be looking at this shortfall as a priority, but municipal and aboriginal governments also need to take responsibility. I am very focused on controlling the cost of living in the NWT and we need a commitment from all levels of government to make this happen.

    I will start from day 1 of this government to do my homework and get up to speed on the budget and priorities.  Community government funding is a priority, but in addition to funding, we need to ensure inter-departmental relationships are deeper and more cooperative. It is highly likely there are programs that can be combined between departments. We need to do a better job working together, not against one another vying for the limited funds available.

    Issue #4 - Post-Secondary Transformation

    Polytechnique can be an excellent example of a made in the North solution. This is a more affordable option, provided student housing is included, for individual students and students with families. An on-site daycare would enable more single parents, in particular, a better opportunity to achieve their educational goals.

    Ideally the school should engage with multiple partners, such as Dechinta, Mine Training Society, GNWT, City, Yellowknives Dene, NWT Construction, Ecology North, Sport North, NWT Arts, NWT Tourism, Arctic Energy Alliance, just to name a few. This will ensure we are preparing Northerners for employment opportunities in demand. It would be ideal to see this school partnering with all of these groups to offer students summer employment, internships and apprenticeships. Tailor programs based on demand and combine programs, without compromising the integrity of certified programs.

    We can offer both short-term certificate and diploma programs, along with degrees. This facility should be utilized for evening courses for those want to upgrade, or newcomers wanting to learn English as a second language. A facility that can encompass all aspects of higher learning is a better fit for the North.

    Issue #5 – Transfer of Commissioners Land to the City of Yellowknife

    I am supportive of local governments having the authority over the land within their boundaries. We also need to be respectful that this isn’t just a Territorial government and municipal government issue. We need to keep working with our aboriginal partners to ensure that land claim agreements remain high on the priority list. Finalizing these agreements can help provide some certainty for current leaseholders and it can help to remove some of the barriers in place for responsible development."

    Cory Vanthuyne

    Platform emailed Sept. 3, 2019. No response to Vote Growth received yet.

    Ryland Johnson

    Platform emailed Sept. 4, 2019. No response to Vote Growth received yet.

    Yellowknife South:

    Gaeleen MacPherson

    Platform emailed Sept. 3, 2019. No response to Vote Growth received yet.

    Caroline Wawzonek

    Platform emailed Sept. 3, 2019. No response to Vote Growth received yet.

    Range Lake:

    Caroline Cochrane

    Platform emailed Sept. 3, 2019. No response to Vote Growth received yet.

    Hughie Graham

    "Liquor Licensing & Regulations
    I agree with your recommendations. There is a need to improve our processes regarding Liquor Licensing and Regulations. A modernization is required to meet the opportunities that exist in our communities. I believe that giving our communities more flexibility and control is important. Road Blocks surrounding liquor licensing, training, and distribution need to be removed. 

    Fibre Redundancy
    I agree that we need fibre redundancy throughout the Northwest Territories. With half our population and the centre of Territorial and Federal Governments in NWT, Yellowknife should be the easiest business case to approve and get started on.

    Community Government Under funding
    I agree that the funding gap needs to be closed as it affects not just Yellowknife. Many communities are underfunded. I assume that modernizing the funding formula is part of 2014 funding review taken by MACA. The GNWT should commit to implementing this if the review has already been completed and recommendations are contained within the review.

    Land availability
    I agree that land transfer is a multi-pronged issue and requires all parties at the table. GNWT has legislation in place to negotiate land claims. Also, freeing up land withdrawals in anticipation of claims being settled would add more land to the inventory and hasten potential opportunities, particularly those in high demand areas.

    Post-Secondary Transformation
    I agree, the evolution of Aurora College is required to enable Northerners to take advantage of opportunities that exist and will emerge in the future. GNWT also needs to look at offering a higher education institute to bring people from around the world to NWT. NWT should be a world leader in things like Permafrost Science and Indigenous Health and Healing. The transformation in Aurora College is an economic opportunity not just to Yellowknife but to NWT. Bricks and Mortar institutions are critical to this and Yellowknife should be central to this."

    Kam Lake:

    Abdullah Al-Mahamud

    Platform emailed Sept. 3, 2019. No response to Vote Growth received yet.

    Caitlin Cleveland

    Platform emailed Sept. 3, 2019. No response to Vote Growth received yet.

    Robert Hawkins

    "Liquor Licensing & Regulations
    My view is that responsible modernization of these rules may help remove some obstacles and bring the NWT in line with other provinces as far as family dining is concerned.  This will have to be a deeply consultative process with carefully designed regulations which could assist.   I also support a review that will consider whether changes to the NWT Liquor Licensing Board process need an overhaul.   That said, I fully support any board training that can help strengthen all sides of the industry.  Finally, at this time I cannot agree with the recommendation that the minimal cost savings from the closing of the liquor distribution be passed on through cheaper liquor, without at least looking closer at the problem and opportunity.   The individual savings would be minimal and there are better and more responsible uses for that money, such as a targeted focus on addictions and treatment support programs.

    Fibre Redundancy
    I agree with the need for a Fiber Optic Redundancy Line.  The fact is that e-commerce, from the simple task of buying groceries to running web-based businesses, needs crucial and stable infrastructure.

    Community Government Under funding
    The funding gap must be immediately addressed.   This does not only affect this city, it hurts all communities in the NWT.  It’s time the GNWT ceases to download underfunded programs and services to municipalities. This issue needs addressing by the new Assembly after the election. The Assembly needs to take leadership and consult municipalities on the issue of under-funding and insist on action based on that consultation.

    Post-Secondary Transformation
    I agree on the need to transform Aurora College into a polytechnic institution with the main campus and head office based in Yellowknife.  I have been making the call for a stand-alone institution for years, and I will continue to advocate for this.   A university campus would bring enormous economic development including potential to the City, with Yellowknife having the population base which is needed to sustain such an undertaking.  The northern graduates would be educated in the NWT, hopefully stay here and contribute to their communities and territory. Furthermore, Yellowknife could be a hub to support regional education throughout the territory, which would ensure that access to programs and skilled professions are there to help all northerners.

    Land availability
    Subject to the land requirements of future land claims and self government processes of Indigenous peoples, there should not be any unreasonable delay in transferring land to the City of Yellowknife. That said, ownership of land by the City will not automatically result in more affordable housing and job creation. How the City manages the lands it will one day own will go a great distance to answering those questions. "

    Kieron Testart

    "Liquor Licensing & Regulations;

    I am committed to modernize the NWT’s outdated system of liquor regulation with rules that are flexible, open and based on the principles of personal responsibility and fair market access. I have committed to working towards allowing for the private sale of liquor and cannabis in all NWT communities, except where a plebiscite has been enacted to restrict the possession and sale. We need to stop limiting our hospitality and tourism sectors with outdated regulations.

    Fibre Redundancy;

    I raised this issue on the floor of the 18th Assembly and reached out to speak with Senior Management of NorthwestTel in order to begin the process of getting Fibre Redundancy. Historically cuts happen at a rate of just over 1 per year, both which occurred in 2019 were caused by acts of vandalism, sadly any loss in service costs our economy dearly, monetarily and in productivity. What is really needed is a second redundant cable, connecting Yellowknife to the south, creating a loop. NorthwestTel has proposed to the GNWT that costs are shared between NorthwestTel, the GNWT and Ottawa to build the fibre redundancy. Further study and consultation will be required. I am committed to making this a priority of the 19th Assembly.

    Community Government Underfunding;

    I have been a vocal advocate during my term in office calling for this funding to put in place and my record will show that I have always taken this matter very seriously. These funds are crucial to growing our territorial economy, providing growth at the local community level and will create more than 200 jobs in the NWT. This gap is not some external formula, rather it is the GNWT’s own responsibility and it is unacceptable that the government continues to plead poverty and avoid taking responsibility for its own policies. The final capital budget of the 18th Legislative Assembly was the largest of its kind during my term and yet still underfunded Community Public Infrastructure across the territory. I voted against this budget on principle as it continued to ignore the needs of our communities. I am committed to closing the municipal funding raising gap within the first two budgets of the 19th Legislative Assembly if I am re-elected by the people of Kam Lake. Finally, I will not vote to support any Cabinet Minister who does not commit to closing this gap and will ask each candidate for Premier and Cabinet to commit to close the gap during the next Territorial Leadership Committee.

    Post-Secondary Transformation (Yellowknife-Based University);

    Develop a real knowledge economy by continuing the 5 year plan to transition Aurora College into a Polytechnic University and begin planning a new Downtown College Campus for Yellowknife that supports the local economy and brings new energy to our Capital’s downtown core. Invest in innovation and job creation by creating new tax credits for research and development, mining exploration, film production, tourism operators, apprenticeship training and manufacturing. These incentives will encourage businesses to reinvest in their success and support the expansion of Northern industries.

    Land availability.

    Perhaps most important to municipalities is my commitment to close the municipal funding gap and transfer all uncontested land with municipal boundaries to local governments. Remove the barriers to economic growth in our communities by transferring all uncontested public lands held by the GNWT within municipal boundaries to local governments. This will assist long-term community planning, create new economic development and allow communities to grow their revenues without raising new taxes."

    Cherish Winsor

    Platform emailed Sept. 3, 2019. No response to Vote Growth received yet.

    Rommel Silverio

    Platform emailed Sept. 3, 2019. No response to Vote Growth received yet.

    Great Slave:

    Katrina Nokleby

    Platform emailed Sept. 3, 2019. No response to Vote Growth received yet.

    Patrick Scott

    "On the issue of Liquor:  I will support improvements to the licensing process so applicants get clear complete answers more quickly. I do not support giving minors access to Class A liquor establishments.  Children do not benefit from being in that environment.  Parents have adequate access it alcohol.  Server Training information should not be a major problem to resolve.  Courses could be provided online or through Adult Education facilities. I am surprised it remains a problem.  The distribution issues are solvable.  It should not be a tedious job to identify the specific issues and address them.  Businesses need to have reliable supply to sustain their businesses.  Let's get this resolved quickly.  Using the savings from closing the liquor warehouse, should not translate into lower liquor prices.  Alcohol consumption has never been a problem in the NWT.  Having resources to treat those who develop alcohol dependencies is a more worthy cause than lowering prices.  An appeal process for rejected licensing applications is not an unreasonable request.  As often is stated, a sober second thought can make a difference.  Careful work would be required to ensure an appeal process is efficient, timely and fair.

    Internet/fibre redundancy:  My business lost because of the blackouts.  I have no problem in fighting to have a second system to protect not only businesses but emergency services.  However I am not sure why we would only want to depend on Northwestel.  There could be other Northern businesses that could create the required infrastructure.  Maybe we have left too many eggs in one basket for too long.

    Under funding of Yellowknife.  The formula financing for municipalities needs to be equitable.  It is not.  It needs to be changed.  Government has created a huge gap that continues to grow annually throughout the North, with Yellowknife taking the biggest hit.  GNWT should use some of the projected $60 million operating surplus to reduce this under funding.  ( See MACA report, "Focus on the Future August 2019 page 14 ""the 2019-2020 operating surplus is projected at $60 million representing an increase in revenues greater than the increase in expenditures." MACA admits government is failing to provide adequate funding but is not making the changes.  This can't continue.  I have no problem to calling on government to "fix" this.

    Land Transfer:  I am not convinced a total transfer of commissioners lands to the Municipality is necessary.  For example work must be done on identifying a campus location for a Polytech Institute.  Sites need to be identified.  The Yellowknife Dene have not completed their claims negotiations.  If real reconciliation is to occur in this community then, in my view, land transfer decisions can only be completed with the involvement and support of the  Yellowknives Dene First Nation.

    I agree if a polytech institute is developed, its main campus must be in Yellowknife and it must have a "bricks and mortar" campus. I will strongly fight for whatever Post Secondary Institute is created to be completely independent from the GNWT.  Academic freedom is foundational for Post Secondary institutions.  I don't think the focus should be on just bricks and mortar.   The offering of programs must be Northern focused, so our young people can acquire the skills to make our communities more vibrant.  I believe there also must be a multi-discipline fine arts program.  We can no longer afford to be deaf to the Arts.  Finally I will call for free tuition for all Northern students."

    Frame Lake:

    Kevin O'Reilly

    Platform emailed Sept. 3, 2019. No response to Vote Growth received yet.

    Dave Ramsay

    Platform emailed Sept. 3, 2019. No response to Vote Growth received yet.