News October 16, 2014 (2)

Delay of Territorial Election will Depend on Timing of Federal Election

(YELLOWKNIFE)  Thursday, October 16, 2014 – The Caucus of the 17th Legislative Assembly has clarified its position on the timing of the next territorial general election. If, by April 1, 2015, the date of the federal election continues to overlap with the campaign period for the territorial election, the date of the territorial election will be postponed to November 23, 2015. If an announcement is made to change the timing of the federal election prior to April 1, 2015, the territorial election will proceed as planned on October 5, 2015.  

Both Canada and the Northwest Territories have adopted fixed election dates. At present, the federal election is scheduled for October 19, 2015. The Prime Minister has the ability to call an election earlier than this date.   Municipal elections for tax-based communities and school board elections in Yellowknife are also scheduled for October 19th. The general election for the NWT Legislative Assembly is currently scheduled for October 5, 2015. The result will be a three and a half week overlap in the campaign periods for the two elections between September 14 and October 5, 2015.

“There are many reasons why an overlap in the two campaign periods should be avoided,” said Caucus Deputy Chair and MLA for Inuvik Boot Lake Alfred Moses. “Foremost among these is the reality that in many of our small communities, the same staff serve as election officials for both Elections Canada and Elections NWT. The same can be said for the many campaign staff and volunteers that help candidates get their respective messages out and provide a clear choice to the voter. As well, overlapping campaign periods create the risk that partisan politics at the federal level will overshadow and influence the non-partisan nature of territorial politics.” 

The provinces of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island have adopted similar measures to avoid an overlap with the federal election. In each of those jurisdictions, the provincial election will be delayed to April 2016 if the date of the federal election remains unchanged. A bill will be introduced in the Legislative Assembly in the upcoming sitting that will establish April 1, 2015 as the “trigger date.” “If the timing of the federal election changes before then,” noted Deputy Chair Moses, “we will stick with our October 5, 2015 election date. If nothing’s changed at the federal level by April 1, 2015, this measure will automatically bump our date back six weeks to avoid the overlap.” General elections have previously been held in the Northwest Territories in late November and early December as recently as 1999 and 2003.

The bill establishing the “trigger date” will be contingent upon the passage of amendments to the Northwest Territories Act by the Parliament of Canada. It is expected that this amendment will be introduced in the House of Commons during the current Fall sitting of Parliament.   

For more information, please contact:

Alfred Moses, Deputy Caucus Chair
Legislative Assembly of the NWT
P: 867-669-2282 or toll-free 1-800-661-0784
F: 867-873-0276

Tim Mercer, Clerk
Legislative Assembly of the NWT
P: 867-669-2299 or toll-free 1-800-661-0784
F: 867-920-4735