Still no signal
Short North Warning extension possible

Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

NNSL (May 31/99) - The deal to maintain the North Warning System will likely be stretched by half a year, the chairman of the company that currently holds the contract said.

"There is a clause for a six-month extension," Pan Arctic Inuit Logistics chairman Russell Newmark said Wednesday.

Inuit-owned Pan Arctic, with joint-venture partner Frontec, currently holds the $288-million, five-year Department of National Defence contract to operate and maintain 47 operating radar sites and five logistics support sites across Canada's Arctic and along the Labrador coast.

The current deal expires March 31, 2000.

The next contract could be worth $500 million.

Pointing to better than expected cost performance, which has meant taxpayer savings, and Inuit training opportunities, Pan Arctic wants the contract renewed.

But Defence Minister Art Eggleton is under pressure to toss the sole-sourcing option and adopt a competitive approach. That means putting the deal out for tender.

Inuit leaders want the deal renewed. They fear if the contract goes to another firm, training opportunities and jobs could be lost.

About 90 Inuit have participated in the training program associated with the North Warning System contract.

Newmark said the contract appears to be in "suspended animation."

"We've heard different stories. Formally, we don't know."

In 1998, Pan Arctic distributed its highest amount ever of earnings to the four shareholders, the Western Arctic's Inuvialuit Development Corp., Nunavut-wide economic development unit Nunasi Corp., Labrador Inuit Development Corp., and Makivik, which represents Nunavik Inuit.

From 1958 to 1988, the U.S. military operated and maintained an earlier version of the North Warning System known as the DEW Line. U.S.-based contractors were used.

To measure how the joint venture is doing, there are 40 performance indicators.