Premier Antoine takes to the airways
Negotiations over taxes and resources revenue coming

Arthur Milnes
Northern News Services

NNSL (Feb 03/99) - NWT Premier Jim Antoine has put the federal government on notice that further negotiations over resources revenue and taxation are coming.

"We run our own health-care system, our own education system and our own justice system," he said during a televised speech to the territorial population, broadcast late last night on TVNC.

"The GNWT manages high-cost programs such as social assistance, transportation and forest fires -- just like the provinces."

He then went on to say the GNWT does not have the same tools as the provinces in order to develop fully.

"Yet we still do not have jurisdiction over oil and gas or minerals," he said.

"We do not have control over the non-renewable resources that generate revenues. Because of this we don't have the ability to develop our major economic sectors."

"But this is something that I hope we can change. In the coming months I intend to negotiate with Ottawa -- in partnership with aboriginal governments -- to control the pace of development in our backyard and to gain a greater share of the taxes and resource revenues that come from development."

Looking relaxed, Antoine praised the government's record since 1995.

"We have begun programs and initiatives that will lead to a brighter future," he said. "Last year we balanced the budget. And we did it without fundamentally compromising the standards of our education, justice, health care, housing and social services."

"...I can tell you today that our children will not carry the burden of stifling debt. Instead we will benefit from a stronger economy and a stronger economy will create more jobs."

The premier's aides said plans for the 12-minute speech -- which was recorded last week outside the visitor's gallery at the legislative assembly -- began before Christmas.

Antoine also used the address, which will be re-broadcast today, Thursday and Sunday, to make a call for the completion of self-government negotiations, the clarification of the implementation of self-government, and conclusion of negotiations on aboriginal land and resource rights.

He also told viewers last year's conflict of interest inquiry into the activities of former premier Don Morin has not been forgotten. He reminded viewers the legislative assembly adopted conflict of interest commissioner Anne Crawford's report and that an independent review of territorial conflict guidelines is now under way.

Antoine also said he has now met with all the GNWT's deputy ministers in light of the report.

"My goal is to make sure we have a government that is open, accountable and transparent in all its business. As your new premier, I am committed to restoring public confidence in this government so we can tackle the major challenges that lay ahead of us."

The premier's staff said they believed this was the first time a NWT leader has taken to the airwaves in a manner such as Antoine did last night.

Antoine will also be attending his first First Ministers' Meeting, hosted by Prime Minister Jean Chretien in Ottawa Thursday.