List of Northwest Territories general elections

This is a list of territorial elections in Northwest Territories, Canada since 1870. The Northwest Territories operates on a consensus government using the First Past the Post electoral system. The territory does not presently recognize political parties.

The last election was held on November 14, 2023.

Voting and consensus government


Northwest Territories elects members to the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories under a non-partisan system known as consensus government. The election only decides who represents each district. The newly elected members of the assembly convene after the election to vote amongst themselves to decide which members become part of the Executive Council.[1] This system of government has evolved in the Northwest Territories since 1870.

The voting method to elect members is the First Past the Post electoral system. Voters under this system pick the top candidate by the number of votes cast regardless of the percent of votes earned by a candidate. With a few historical exceptions all electoral districts in the Northwest Territories are represented by a single member. First Past the Post has been used since the first election in 1881. Elections NWT is the independent regulatory body in charge of overseeing elections.

History of elections


The Northwest Territories has been through a number of distinct changes in how the territory is governed and how government has been selected. These changes have coincided with several major boundary changes since the Government of Canada acquired the territory in 1870.[2] From 1870 to 1876 the North-West Territories was run by an interim government, first led by lieutenant-governor William McDougall, and a council appointed by Ottawa. This council was governed under the Temporary Government of Rupert's Land Act, 1869 and the Manitoba Act, 1870 The council itself sat in Manitoba and was made up of Members of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly.[3]

In 1876 the Temporary Council was dissolved and a new council was appointed under the North-West Territories Act. Members could be elected to join the council if an area of 1,000 square miles (3,000 km2) had 1,000 inhabitants. The first such electoral districts were created in 1881.[4] According to the Act, when the council reached twenty members, it would gain control of territorial affairs from the crown. The Council achieved this requirement in 1886. The council was renamed to an assembly and was dissolved in 1888. Twelve elections to rotate and elect members to new districts were held during the period between 1876 and 1888.[5]

Five general elections would occur between 1888 and 1905, as the territories underwent significant growth. In 1897 after an amendment to the North-West Territories Act, the territories experienced a short-lived period of partisan politics that led to the North-West Territories Liberal-Conservative Party[6] being elected in the fourth and fifth elections until 1905. The government in this period was made of members from the populated regions in the south. No members from the Arctic region would sit in government until 1947.[7] In 1905, Alberta and Saskatchewan were carved out of the North-West Territories. As a result, the population dropped from approx 160,000 to 17,000, of which 16,000 were aboriginal and had no right to vote under Canadian law.[3] The government of the North-West Territories defaulted back to its 1870 constitutional status, and once again came under federal control. This period of the second council, which governed from Ottawa, lasted from 1905 to 1951.

In 1951, the second council was dissolved in order to return to elections. Rather than being fully elected body, the Councils and Assemblies were a mix of elected and appointed members. After 1975 the Assembly became fully elected. In 1999 the Northwest Territories underwent one last division as the territory of Nunavut was created out of the eastern half of the territory.

The boundary changes have resulted in a disconnect in four periods of the territorial government. The records of the temporary council falls under the archives of the Manitoba government, while the archives and electoral records of the period of government from 1876 to 1905 were retained by the Saskatchewan government. The archives of the council from 1905 to 1951 are under the Canadian Government who appointed the council from that period.

List of elections

Date General elections and
By-elections prior to 1888
Assembly # elected Elected leaders Capital city
Temporary North-West Council, no elections from 1870 to 1876 Appointed
Lieutenant Governor
Fort Garry
1st Council of the Northwest Territories, no elections from 1876 to 1881 Fort Livingstone
March 23, 1881 Lorne by-election[Note 1] 1st Council 1 Battleford
May 29, 1883 Edmonton by-election 1
June 5, 1883 Lorne by-election 1
August 13, 1883 Moose Jaw by-election
Regina by-election
Qu'Appelle by-election
August 31, 1883 Broadview by-election 1
June 28, 1884 Calgary by-election
Moose Mountain by-election
2 Regina
September 15, 1885 1885 election 11
July 8, 1886 Moose Mountain by-election 1
July 14, 1886 Calgary by-election 2
October 14, 1886 Qu'Appelle by-election 1
May 24, 1887 Qu'Appelle by-election 2
September 5, 1887 Macleod by-election 1
June 30, 1888 1st general election 1st N-W Assembly 22 Chairman: Robert Brett
November 7, 1891 2nd general election 2nd N-W Assembly 25 Chairman: Frederick Haultain
October 31, 1894 3rd general election 3rd N-W Assembly 28
November 4, 1898 4th general election[Note 2] 4th N-W Assembly 31 Premier: Frederick Haultain
Opposition: Robert Brett
May 21, 1902 5th general election[Note 2] 5th N-W Assembly Lib-Con. 21 Premier: Frederick Haultain
Opposition: Donald McDonald
Liberal 7
Ind. 6
Ind. Lib. 1
September 1, 1905 Creation of Alberta and Saskatchewan

2nd Council of the Northwest Territories, no elections 1905 - 1951

September 17, 1951 6th general election 1st NWT Council 3
September 7, 1954 7th general election 2nd NWT Council 4
August 19, 1957 8th general election 3rd NWT Council 4
September 19, 1960 9th general election 4th NWT Council 4
March 31, 1964 10th general election 5th NWT Council 4
July 4, 1967 11th general election 6th NWT Council 7 Yellowknife
December 21, 1970 12th general election 7th NWT Council 10
March 10, 1975 13th general election 8th NWT Assembly 15
October 1, 1979 14th general election 9th NWT Assembly 22 Premier: George Braden
November 21, 1983 15th general election 10th NWT Assembly 24 Premier: Richard Nerysoo
October 5, 1987 16th general election 11th NWT Assembly 24 Premier: Dennis Patterson
October 15, 1991 17th general election 12th NWT Assembly 24 Premier: Nellie Cournoyea
October 16, 1995 18th general election 13th NWT Assembly 24 Premier: Don Morin
April 1, 1999 Creation of Nunavut
December 6, 1999 19th general election 14th NWT Assembly 19 Premier: Stephen Kakfwi
November 24, 2003 20th general election 15th NWT Assembly 19 Premier: Joe Handley
October 1, 2007 21st general election 16th NWT Assembly 19 Premier: Floyd Roland
October 3, 2011 22nd general election 17th NWT Assembly 19 Premier: Bob McLeod
November 23, 2015 23rd general election 18th NWT Assembly 19
October 1, 2019 24th general election 19th NWT Assembly 19 Premier: Caroline Cochrane
November 14, 2023 25th general election 20th NWT Assembly 19 Premier: R.J. Simpson

See also



  1. ^ Elections prior to 1888 were held 3 years from the last in each district, or upon creation by the Lieutenant Governor or vacancy.
  2. ^ a b The fourth and fifth general elections were the only general elections elected on party lines.