Leaders missed their chance
Western leaders have to lead, former premier says

Arthur Milnes
Northern News Services

NNSL (Feb 17/99) - Former NWT premier Nick Sibbeston says western MLAs and chiefs have let the people down in the months and years that have led to division on April 1.

"As leaders, you have to lead," he said from Fort Simpson Tuesday. "It's not good enough to say people aren't interested (in creating a new constitution for the west)."

"It's like (former prime minister Pierre Elliott) Trudeau going ahead with the Constitution (in 1981-82). It wasn't a bread and butter issue but it was good for the country."

Describing efforts to date in the west at designing a new constitution as "feeble," Sibbeston says it's high time leaders truly got to work.

"They missed their opportunity," he said. "The longer you wait, the tougher it is going to be. In time, you could have the Balkanization of the North as the regions go forward with land claims."

"...I really think the leaders, chiefs and MLAs, should get at it."

As to the future of the GNWT itself, Sibbeston said he believes there will always be a place for a central government in the western NWT.

The Deh Cho business owner also expressed his frustration at the fact the new west is still without a name.

"Why don't we have an exciting new name to excite the whole of Canada," he said.