Bars bar politics
Pub patrons watch everything but the premier's speech

Daniel MacIsaac
Northern News Services

NNSL (Feb 08/99) - The vote is in: Booze and politics don't mix.

That was the conclusion reached through a survey of NWT licensed establishments Tuesday night during Premier Jim Antoine's "State of the NWT" address.

From Inuvik to Iqaluit, the survey found that bar staff and patrons were not sitting glued to the 10:30 p.m. inaugural address. They appeared to be doing their best to think about anything but politics.

"I don't think they're into that," reported Finto Motor Inn bartender Heather Martin, who said the Inuvik crowd was playing a round of televised trivia.

"I suspect that if they watched politics it would be just another reason to fight."

At Fort Simpson's Subarctic Lounge, bartender Leslie said the sitcom Will and Grace had just come on. She said the lone customer in the bar appeared about as interested in politics as she was -- not very.

"He doesn't look like he's going to request it," she said.

Sheila at the Ptarmigan Inn Sports Bar in Hay River reported that the televisions were showing music videos and hockey highlights.

"Hey guys, do you want to listen to the premier's speech?" she shouted across the bar. The response was difficult to make out, but definitely not in the affirmative.

"I am interested in what Donny has to say, but nobody else is," Sheila said, clearly a fan of former premier Don Morin.

At both Yellowknife's Polar Bowl Pub and the MacKenzie Hotel's Brass Rail in Inuvik, TSN was the channel of choice.

"This is a guy's bar, and they like sports," said the Brass Rail's Melinda Cockney.

Cockney asked the patrons why they prefer sports to politics.

"They said they're not here to watch TV, they're here to drink," she reported.

At the Big Bar Tavern in Norman Wells, even the weather channel proved more popular than the premier.

Bartender Kara Peachey said she'd flipped channels until the NWT weather report caught her eye and then got busy. She gave her own opinion on why bars and speeches don't mix.

"It's a place to get away from politics and everyday things," she said. "And not to know what's going on in the outside world."

A jukebox played in Fort Smith's Pinecrest Hotel Lounge. The bartender, Brenda, said that even if there was a television, the viewers' choice would not be speeches by politicians.

"They bullshit too much."