Roland no match for Seinfeld
Small turnout for meeting
INUVIK (May 22/98) - In retrospect, it was kind of a bad night to try and get the ears of Inuvik voters.
"Let's see," joked Inuvik MLA Floyd Roland, surveying the dozen or so people who attended his constituency meeting at the town's youth centre.
"The hockey game is on, you've got the last episode of Seinfeld...what else is on?"
Roland held the meeting to update himself on concerns of town residents prior to the next sitting of the legislature, which opened yesterday. The assembly will be dealing with a number of thorny issues, chief among them the continuing preparations for Nunavut and the ongoing battle between the Union of Northern Workers and the government about a new contract, negotiations for which have stalled over the issue of pay equity.
"The biggest issue you're going to have come up with members ifs the UNW and government," Roland said.
Roland, who is chairman of the Western Coalition, said negotiations around Nunavut will stick to apportionment ratio of 68 per cent to the west and 32 per cent for the east when it comes to resources.
"Jack Anawak has said there should be a 50-50 split but we don't agree with that. We're not too interested in doing any transfers (to the East), especially headquarters jobs."
Those at the meeting grilled Roland over a couple of initiatives, particularly Finance Minister John Todd's brand-new public-private partnership approach for new infrastructure. Locally, the projects identified as high priorities are the new hospital and Aurora College's Inuvik campus. How it will work is that the government will enter a long-term lease with a private company that will own the completed building.
"There's a lot of concern that 3P is more expensive over time," said Mary Beckett, who also noted that the government's record with leases is under scrutiny due to deals like Lahm Ridge Tower in Yellowknife, where friends of Premier Don Morin entered into advantageous deals on government leases without public scrutiny.
Roland admitted the new system would be more costly than doing it all with public money but said it allowed more construction to be done because the government was not putting up all the money up front.
Roland also heard concerns from Shirley Kisoun that the government cutback on escorts for sick people travelling to distant hospitals was causing problems and could get worse. Many people who used to get escorts spoke little English.
"There have been people sent to Edmonton on their own who understand simple English, but when they get to the doctor's office, he starts speaking his own language, and they could be saying 'Yes' to death in a situation like that."
At the end of the meeting, a group of youngsters asked Roland what he was going to do about the cash-strapped youth centre. Roland said he is going to look into the situation.