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Election too close to call

Stephan Burnett
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (June 25/04) - Over the past couple of weeks the Liberals and the Conservatives have seesawed back and forth in the national polls.

Yellowknifer caught up with the NDP and the Conservative candidates for the Western Arctic riding last week when it looked like all was lost for the Liberals. This week, Yellowknifer caught up with incumbent Ethel Blondin-Andrew.

With Conservative gaffs on bilingualism, abortion and so-called hidden plans for heath care and Air Canada, it seems that in just one week the tide has turned Liberal red.

Minister of State and Western Arctic MP Ethel Blondin-Andrew was upbeat about recent polls showing the Liberals have stemmed the tide.

"The wind is behind our back. I could feel the momentum shifting. There is a problem in politics that you can peak too soon. It's so volatile in politics. Now, Paul looks on top of his game," said Blondin-Andrew.

Last week, with the Conservatives pulling ahead in Ontario and Liberals far behind in Quebec, it looked as though Stephen Harper was a shoe-in for 24 Sussex Drive.

"Ethel believes it's important to have a member on the government side. Those are her words and I would echo that," said Sean Mandeville, Conservative candidate for the Western Arctic.

Meanwhile, the NDP candidate Dennis Bevington is hoping for a minority government, which could vault the New Democratic Party into a share of federal power -- for the first time since its inception.

"We're going to have a minority government. It may be the case where three parties may be required to make up the majority situation. It's yet to be decided, but we're ready to work for progressive legislation," said Bevington.

While Blondin-Andrew spoke of Paul Martin's international credibility, Mandeville spoke of the Conservative Party's accomplishments in the North and Bevington spoke of NDP MP's accomplishments in the Yukon.

"Compare the roads in the Yukon and the roads in the Northwest Territories. Theirs are better, and in the Yukon they have NDP MPs. Sometimes it's the squeaky wheel that gets the grease," said Bevington.

Mandeville highlighted the Conservative's platform.

"Our platform is pro-business and taxation relief, and with respect to Northern issues we have an excellent track record," he said.

Blondin-Andrew argued that a Canada under Paul Martin's leadership would have more international clout.

"He's very well thought of at the United Nations and through all the United Nation organizations. He's well recognized and respected -- especially in the world banking community -- and through international non-governmental operations."