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Trying to topple Ethel

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Fort Simpson (Dec 16/05) - Dennis Bevington was the first federal election candidate to make a swing through the Deh Cho.

While in Fort Simpson on Saturday, Bevington said resource development is a big issue for voters and suggested that the Liberals are giving up too much to corporations.

NNSL Photo/graphic

While campaigning in Fort Simpson on Dec. 10, Dennis Bevington, NDP candidate for the Western Arctic, chats with Keyna Norwegian, chief of the Liidlii Kue First Nation. - Derek Neary/NNSL photo

Royalties paid by industry in Canada are already low, so the NDP would revisit the federal government's promise of further concessions on a Mackenzie Valley pipeline, he pledged. He added that "legitimate" devolution of powers to the GNWT and aboriginal governments is needed within the next two-to-three years.

Bevington down played a federal commitment of $500 million in socio-economic funding for the NWT.

It was announced by Ottawa in July in response to the proposed $7-billion Mackenzie Valley pipeline. That $500 million will be spread out over 10 years, amounting to $50 million annually for NWT communities, Bevington noted. Based on current prices for natural gas, Alberta, with its provincial powers, would collect more than $1 billion in royalties each year from a project of equal scale to the Mackenzie Valley pipeline, he argued.

On Deh Cho self-government, he said the NDP would be willing to work on a different model of land claims to accommodate aboriginal demands.

Liidlii Kue Chief Keyna Norwegian, after having a conversation with Bevington, told the Drum that she does not publicly endorse any one candidate, nor does she direct her band members on how they should vote. She added, however, that aboriginal people have generally been supportive of the Liberals because that party's positions have been best suited to First Nations.

Making his third attempt to overtake Liberal Ethel Blondin-Andrew in the polls, Bevington said the past two ballot box tallies show he is picking up steam.

He gained 15 per cent support in the last election and only lost by 53 votes to Blondin-Andrew, who has served five terms. When asked if it is a two-way race, he replied, "Absolutely." He then hastily backtracked and said he's not counting out Conservative candidate Richard Edjericon, a former Dettah chief, or any other candidate.

While in Fort Simpson, Bevington also spoke of growing concern over climate change. Alternative energy projects, such as a biomass (wood-based) plant for Fort Simpson should be considered, he said. Retrofitting homes and businesses to conserve energy would also be wise, he maintained.

His other Deh Cho stops included Fort Liard, Jean Marie River, Fort Providence and Kakisa. He said he'd like to campaign in the region again before the Jan. 23 election, but didn't commit to coming back.