Editorial page

Wednesday, December 22, 1999

Ranked 24th and proud of it

Before we dive too deeply into the most recent mining industry report issued by the Fraser Institute, let's look at the Institute itself.

The B.C.-based Fraser Institute was established in 1974. It is devoted to bringing public attention to the role that markets can have in improving the life of Canadians. While it would be an over-simplification to say that the Fraser Institute is pro-business, the free market plays a big part in the way the Institute looks at public policy. Their mining company survey rates mineral-rich jurisdictions for their "investment attractiveness" by surveying mining companies. There is nothing wrong with that. After all, these are the companies that come up with the capital for exploration and the development of prospective properties.

But it is important to remember that these companies are looking for the biggest bang for their buck. That's what their investors expect.

With that in mind, there is no need to get too depressed that, according to the survey's policy potential index, the NWT is ranked a lowly 24th out of 35 places examined.

The survey takes into consideration such things as environmental laws, unsettled land claims, protected areas, infrastructure and labour agreements.

Most of these things constitute hurdles for mining companies. On the other hand, people in the NWT have fought long and hard for some of the these hurdles.

Mines up here are put through a lot of scrutiny before they are allowed to set up business. That scrutiny is there to ensure the land is left in good shape and the people that rely on it still have that resource.

We do not go out of our way to make life difficult for mining companies. However, mining in the North has to be on Northern terms. That means respect for the environment and it means that Northerners get a piece of the pie.

Obviously, some mining companies have decided the pros outweigh the cons. Those are the only companies we want in the North.

Good deals

When Royal Oak went bankrupt, Miramar Mining Corp. had recently weathered a long strike, the price of gold was down.

The idea of Miramar buying the Giant property seemed a godsend. The city proceeded with caution, knowing there was no other buyer on the horizon.

The final deal has the city paying $410,000 for some of the Giant property under lease to the territorial government. Miramar will be paying $669,000 in municipal taxes in the year 2000. Now Miramar is spending $19.7 million of its $56 million in cash assets to acquire a 50 per cent stake in the Hope Bay gold property, 700 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife.

While there was a cost to taxpayers, with the Giant and the Hope Bay deals, Miramar has a much larger stake in the North. That's good news for the city and the NWT.

Meter holiday

The Christmas spirit has spurred Yellowknife city hall into giving the gift of free parking in the downtown area from Dec. 20 to Jan. 3.

Council is hoping to encourage shoppers to spend their money downtown this holiday season and downtown could use the boost.

As with most urban centres, people are avoiding the hassles of downtown shopping in favour of the suburban chain stores, who offer free parking year-round.

Council should be congratulated for helping out our locally-owned and operated stores downtown who can use all the help they can get, especially after a summer of construction grief.

Keeping the Christmas dream alive and well
Editorial Comment
Darrell Greer
Kivalliq News

Now well into my second year in the Kivalliq, I find myself more reflective than usual this holiday season.

It's been quite the year.

I witnessed the birth of a new territory, learned tonnes about the proud history and culture of my Canadian brethren in the North, met numerous talented and intriguing personalities and slowly cultivated many strong, and I hope lasting, friendships.

In some ways, it seems like only yesterday my family and I were filled with apprehension as our commercial jet first touched down upon the Rankin runway.

A feeling more than a little enhanced by my predecessor forgetting to meet us at the airport.

Our first 30 minutes in the Kivalliq were, to put it mildly, a little on the lonely side.

But the vast majority of the people in our new community have gone out of their way during the past 13 months to make us feel at home.

And it has worked. We feel very much at home in the Kivalliq and, in many ways, that day we first touched down in Rankin now seems like a long time ago.

I would be less than honest if I did not admit there have been some, as in all walks of life, who have never -- and will never -- give us a chance simply because of the colour of our skin.

Perhaps at no other time of year does this invoke an inner sense of sadness than at Christmas.

Maybe it's because of my background in team sports. Maybe it's because of my joining the Canadian Armed Forces at 17. Or maybe it's because of my small-town upbringing at the hands of the war veteran and extremely tolerant man who was my father.

Whatever the reasons, I could never understand the thinking of those who judged by the colour of a person's skin or the language they spoke.

I've never understood what there is to gain by closing one's mind and heart.

It is hard to understand why the joyous sentiment so easily felt during this time of year cannot transcend the boundaries of a synthetic calendar month and accompany us through the rest of the year.

Maybe, the dawn of a new millennium will bring with it a higher degree of acceptance and understanding within our society.

Wouldn't it be something during this holiday season if we here in Canada's newest territory decided we were going to lead the way and set the standard for the rest of this great nation to follow?

When we, as Canadians, truly accept one another for who and what we are -- then, and only then, will we truly have a land we can call our own.

Merry Christmas.