Bill 15 won't go in quietly

Dane Gibson
Northern News Services

NNSL (July 12/99) - Bill 15 will be made law if something is not done quickly.

That's the message and the warning that Tu Nedhe MLA Don Morin brought to delegates at the Dene National Assembly. He said that despite all the opposition, Bill 15 will redraw the electoral boundaries of the Northwest Territories, perhaps to the loss of the smaller communities.

Mackenzie Delta MLA David Krutko and North Slave MLA James Rabesca joined Morin at the assembly on Thursday as part of the Standing Committee on Governance.

The committee was charged with the task of getting public input on the bill which, if passed, will see five MLAs added to the legislative assembly.

"We have heard concerns that proceeding with Bill 15 will have an adverse affect on land claims and self-government negotiations," Morin said.

"My colleagues and I wish we could take Bill 15 and shelve it. We'd like to make it go away until we have a constitution for the West, until we have self-government negotiations completed, and until we have a way established how Aboriginal governments and public government can work together in true partnership."

He said that won't happen because the government is putting the bill on the floor of the legislative assembly.

"We have even had suggestions that we place a moratorium on this Bill until we have a greater understanding on how self-government and regional government structures will affect governance in the NWT."

He said the committee had visited many communities. He said that while smaller communities did participate in the process, Yellowknife, Hay River and Inuvik had poor turnouts. Yellowknife stands to gain three seats in the legislature while Hay River and Inuvik stand to gain one each.