An all-candidates’ forum for the upcoming territorial election will be held in Hay River on Sept. 19.
The forum is being organized by Sandra Lester for the Hay River Chamber of Commerce.
Lester said the two candidates for Hay River South – incumbent Wally Schumann and challenger Rocky Simpson – have accepted invitations to the forum.
R.J. Simpson, who was acclaimed to return as MLA for Hay River North, has also agreed to come to the forum to answer questions.
“I think it’s still good for people to hear from me and hear about my plans for the next assembly,” said Simpson.
Invitations have also been extended to the two candidates in the Deh Cho district – incumbent Michael Nadli and challenger Ronald Bonnetrouge – but, as of last week, it was unknown if they would attend.
Lester said the addition of the Deh Cho candidates would be a “giant leap” towards inclusion by the Hay River Chamber of Commerce for the Hay River Reserve, the Riverwoods residential development and Enterprise, all of which are in the Deh Cho district.
“We think the people on the reserve, the people in Riverwoods and the people in Enterprise have just as much right to come to a forum and ask questions,” she said.
The inclusion of the Deh Cho candidates was suggested by the Northwest Territories Chamber of Commerce.
“It changes the whole face of things,” said Lester. “It encompasses the whole area. So we’re quite pleased with the thought of the inclusion and we do hope that they do accept.”
Lester is not a member of the Hay River Chamber of Commerce, but volunteered to organize the forum.
She believes such candidates’ forums are important to the organization.
“Because the wellbeing of the community lies with the businesses within the community, and it’s in the best interests of the businesses to have the best MLAs there are,” she said.
The forum will not be a debate.
“The difference is you can ask a question to one specific candidate, and unless you ask two or three of them to respond, you may only want one to respond,” Lester explained. “And they don’t debate among themselves. They only take questions from the floor.”
The forum will be livestreamed on Facebook.
The doors will open for the event at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 19 at the Community Hall.
The territorial election is set for Oct. 1.