Email this articleE-mail this story  Discuss this articleWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad  Print this page

NNSL Photo/graphic

Western Arctic returning officer Liz Wyman (right) accepts nomination papers Thursday morning from Liberal incumbent Ethel Blondin-Andrew. The NDP's Dennis Bevington and Conservative candidate Richard Edjericon filed their papers earlier for the Jan. 23 federal election. - Jack Danylchuk/NNSL photo

Handley wishes MP a win

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 16/05) - If it wasn't an endorsement, it was pretty close.

On Dec. 11, Premier Joe Handley publicly wished Western Arctic Liberal MP Ethel Blondin-Andrew all the best in the coming election.

"I hope you win the prize and I know you will," Handley said to Blondin-Andrew, who was sitting a couple of chairs away at a meeting on the Hay River Reserve.

They were on the reserve to welcome delegates to a meeting of circumpolar leaders.

Conservative candidate Richard Edjericon declined to directly comment on what the premier said, noting he wasn't there to hear it.

In general, Edjericon said it would be inappropriate for Handley to endorse one candidate. "I don't think he should, at all."

Instead, Edjericon said the premier should concentrate on governing the Northwest Territories.

"If I was him, I'd stay neutral," he said of any involvement by Handley in the election.

New Democrat candidate Dennis Bevington didn't seem too perturbed when told of Handley's comment. "I haven't heard any formal endorsement."

He noted Handley is one voter and can say what he wants about a candidate. "The endorsement I'm looking for is from every single voter in the North."

The New Democrat said he is sure Handley will work well with whoever wins the Western Arctic seat in the coming federal election. "We have to work together in the North."

As for the recipient of Handley's best wishes, Blondin-Andrew says she was pleased by his comment, saying it sounded like a Christmas present. Asked whether she considered it an endorsement, she said, "I don't know what an endorsement sounds like."

However, she added that, if it was an endorsement, she would take it. "It was very kind of him to do that."

The MP said she took the premier's words as a compliment, noting they have worked very hard over the last 18 months to re-establish a good working relationship.

"I don't think he would say that if I didn't deserve it," she said. "I'm very happy he came out and said that."

After the June 2004 federal election, she criticized Handley and a number of other MLAs for almost costing her a win because of some of their comments in the media.

As for whether it is appropriate for Handley to endorse a candidate in a federal election, Blondin-Andrew noted some other premiers have done it. "So why not?"

Tuesday, Handley appeared to back away from an outright endorsement of any candidate in the race. "I'll support all of them," the premier said before leaving on a brief winter vacation in Mexico.

Questioned about his remarks in Hay River, Handley admitted that "I did wish her luck during the campaign. I may even have said that she's done a good job for us, because I think she has done a good job."

So was there an endorsement?

"Not any more than for anyone else. I'm open on this, but I'm not campaigning for anybody," he said.

- With files from Jack Danylchuk