Former Ndilǫ chief Ernest Betsina announces candidacy in N.W.T. by-election

·2 min read
Former N'dilo Chief Ernest Betsina announced his candidacy for the Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh by-election on Feb. 8. (CBC - image credit)
Former N'dilo Chief Ernest Betsina announced his candidacy for the Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh by-election on Feb. 8. (CBC - image credit)

Former Ndilǫ chief Ernest Betsina announced his intention to run in the upcoming Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh by-election.

Betsina joins former MLA Steve Norn, who was forced to vacate the seat in November, and Nadine Delorme of Fort Resolution in the race.

Betsina said constituents have been asking him to run, and he was motivated to put his name forward to "respect their wishes."

"I want to let people know that I want to run for MLA, and they have some choices now," he said.

He said he thinks his previous governing experience would serve him well as MLA.

"I bring eight years [as a] former chief," he said. "I completed two full terms as [Yellowknives Dene First Nation] chief. So I have lots of experience to bring forward with me."

"I have a good track record, and I want to bring that forward with honesty and integrity."

Included in that track record is obtaining $18.8 million in direct federal funding for new housing in Ndilǫ, which is the type of victory he would like to bring to the entire Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh riding if he is elected MLA, he said.

"I definitely want to do this type of lobbying for other communities as well and see if it's possible to get more funding," he said.

With COVID-19 cases rising throughout the N.W.T., Betsina expects to spend a lot of the campaign on the phone rather than going door-to-door.

"With COVID out there, we have to be mindful of that — so it's going to be challenging," he said. "But I'm sure that I can do it."

His hope as he connects with constituents is that "people will vote with their hearts," he said.

And Betsina said he's optimistic about his chances.

"I feel that it's a good transition, from being chief to being MLA," he said. "The issues are somewhat familiar. I will take this seriously and I will represent the constituents in all the communities."

The Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh by-election is scheduled for Feb. 8, and the election will be held exclusively by mail-in ballot. The deadline for potential candidates to declare their candidacy is Jan. 14.

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