Dollars for democracy
NWT assumes control of its elections

by Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

NNSL (Nov 12/97) - The Northwest Territories has moved a step closer to provincial status, assuming control of elections.

Election funding for the western territory and Nunavut are now incorporated into the GNWT's funding agreement with the federal government.

Government House Leader Don Boudria, representing the federal government, explained at Monday's signing ceremony at the legislature that the change is more than just administrative in scope.

"While the legal authority to run elections has been a fact of life for some time now, today's agreement gives you the financial tools to do so in a manner sensitive to the demands and pressures coming from residents, our members and candidates of the territories," Boudria said.

Until now, territorial elections have been managed by Elections Canada. They will continue to be funded by the federal government, but will be managed from electoral offices to be established in each of the two new territories.

"This is one step toward the full devolution of powers, which I know the prime minister is committed to as well as the people of the Northwest Territories," said Premier Don Morin.

Morin noted the agreement will "give each government the power to make changes to meet their respective needs."

The agreement provides a total of $2.5 million in funding over the next two years, including annual ongoing funding of $795,000.

Also, a committee will be established to determine how ongoing funding will be used, including how it will be divided between the two new territories.

The NWT is the last jurisdiction in Canada to assume control over its elections. The first fully elected government took office in 1975.

On hand for the signing ceremony were Nunavut MP Nancy Karetak-Lindell, Western Arctic MP Ethel Blondin-Andrew and Jean Pierre Kingsley, chief electoral officer for Elections Canada.