The NDP candidate for the Northwest Territories paid a visit to Hay River last week to introduce herself to voters in advance of next month’s federal election.
On Sept. 20, Inuvik’s Mary Beckett was in the downtown core meeting people and visiting businesses, and planned to do some door-to-door campaigning.
Beckett said she wanted to hear voters’ concerns.
“The issues in the various regions are quite different from the Arctic to Hay River because it’s such a diverse economy,” she said, noting, for example, that Hay River has a fishing industry while Inuvik doesn’t, and Hay River is much closer to Alberta.
“I feel like there are some shared things among all the people of the territories and then other things that are more special to different areas. And that’s what I’m trying to find out and to hear as I’m travelling around. What are everybody’s issues? Because as I go to Ottawa to represent people, I want to be able to be a voice for everybody in the North,” she said.
Beckett said she has often heard that many federal policies and programs are designed somewhere else to fit the country at large, but they don’t fit the North.
The candidate appeared pleased with her reception in Hay River, noting various people have different reasons for welcoming her.
“I think a lot of people are really interested in seeing a woman running. Sometimes that’s what they’re responding to,” she said. “Sometimes it’s the NDP badge that they’re responding to. Sometimes it’s just they’re being friendly and polite.”
Beckett also noted how her background may appeal to Hay River.
“It’s a very business-oriented town, but I’m a businessperson,” she said. “I’ve run my own business for 30 years, so I’m not exactly without sympathies for businesspeople. I just don’t think being an NDP member precludes you being a good businessperson, and being a good businessperson doesn’t preclude you being a good NDP member.”
Beckett expressed confidence that she could win the NWT riding for the New Democrats.
“I wouldn’t run unless I thought it was possible to win,” she said. “I think that you can’t do something well unless you set out to do it properly, and when you’re running in an election, doing it properly is winning.”
Beckett said there is a good chance there may be a minority government after the election, and predicted the NDP could hold the balance of power, which she said could benefit the people of the North, if she is elected.
“That puts us in a position of a little bit of power,” she said. “I mean we don’t often get that from the North.”
Beckett was asked for her reaction to the brownface/blackface scandal which has shaken the campaign of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
She said that everyone should keep in mind the people hurt by the scandal and not try to take advantage of the situation.
“I think that is as far as I want to go on that, because it must be really hard if you’ve been absorbing that kind of abuse your whole life to see somebody take something like that and make light of it,” she said.
Beckett said she has no idea how something so unusual will impact voters in the NWT.
She noted that the NDP’s candidates in the three territories have all requested a visit by party leader Jagmeet Singh.
It is possible Singh will visit the NWT, said Beckett, who has never met the leader. “Because I feel that this seat is in play for us.”
The candidate was accompanied by Fort Smith’s Dennis Bevington, who represented the NWT for almost 10 years up to 2015.
After visiting Hay River, they travelled to Fort Smith.
Beckett will compete for the riding against incumbent Liberal Michael McLeod, Conservative Party candidate Yanik D’Aigle, the Green Party’s Paul Falvo and People’s Party of Canada candidate Luke Quinlan.