Editorial page

Friday, November 23, 2001

Privatized postal service a good thing

It's no surprise the president of Local 858 of the Canadian Postal Workers Union in Yellowknife is fuming with the news that Canada Post has decided to continue paying private retailers to offer postal services.

The union instead wants the post office to open a second corporate office, staffed by union members.

Union president Dale Bouchard is concerned that workers in the private sector likely get less pay than postal employees, whose salaries are protected by a national union. That's probably true.

She also claims that customer service is at risk by privatizing the service. Of that we're not so sure.

With a deal already signed with Shoppers Drug Mart, and one in the works at the Yellowknife Direct Charge Co-op, the post office maintains that the public will only serve to benefit by these actions.

We tend to agree. After all, one can't deny that these private outlets are more convenient.

A matter of convenience

Being able to send a parcel or mail your documents to a faraway spot at an after-hours time is definitely more convenient for the consumer than rushing out the door at noon and spending your lunch hour in line at the main station.

The main post office closes at 5:30. Shoppers is open until 8 p.m. and on the weekends.

While we agree it's vital to keep our main post office up and running, we're not at all opposed to letting the Co-op and one of our drug stores get into the mail business.

Nationwide there are 4,143 corporate, and 232,827 private dealerships.

This is proof that the privatization of some of Canada Post's service isn't going to go away anytime soon.

Why? Because the customers want it.

Ringing in the season

Hands up all you parents whose young children have asked how many days there are until Christmas. Thought so.

As of today, there are 32 sleeps left. After Saturday, however, the countdown will truly begin. That's because Santa Claus is coming to town, thanks to the organizing efforts of the folks at city hall.

At 11 a.m., the floats and colourfully dressed children and adults will start rolling downtown for the annual Santa Parade. At deadline there were already 27 entries, from schools, businesses and service clubs. Anyone who wants to join in the parade is welcome. Just show up at the Gerry Murphy Arena at 9:30 a.m. Saturday and don one of the many costumes that need to be filled.

Participants will be warmed by hot chocolate and donuts ready for them at the start and end of the route.

Their participation will warm the hearts of hundreds of Yellowknifers who will line downtown streets.

It will be a fitting start to a magical season.

And now that we're all in the Christmas spirit, don't forget Yellowknife's less fortunate.

Charity drives will be getting into full swing as organizations try to make a sad Christmas happy for those who can't afford turkey and all the trimmings -- like presents for their kids. You can take a collection at your office, drop some cash into the Salvation Army kettle, or donate food, gifts and cash to the food bank.

After all, the best gift is the one you give.

Let the teams decide

Editorial Comment
Darrell Greer
Kivalliq News

Ask anybody involved with team preparations leading up to the Arctic Winter Games, and they'll tell you Sport Nunavut's higher officials are mystified over the controversy surrounding the roster rule.

We here at Kivalliq News have decided to take the time this week and enlighten them as to what the problem is. For those of you who may not know, here is what the controversy is all about.

The roster rule makes victorious coaches drop, cut, kick off or otherwise dispose of three of their own kids who have busted their butts for the past year or two to make their team a success.

Then the coach must turn around and select three different kids from other teams to join his for the AWG.

The reasoning is that stronger players from weaker teams will make our Nunavut team stronger. After all, they're better players, so they deserve the chance to play. Right?

First, the fact we call them team sports should be a dead giveaway that this isn't as black-and-white an issue as it may first appear.

Better and better does not always add up to the best in team sports. Just ask any New York Rangers fan.

So, is there a solution to this problem? Yes. A perfect solution? No. A better solution? Definitely.

Give the coaches the choice to change the three players or keep their own.

Coaches, for the most part, know when the chemistry is right on their team or when it can stand a bit of tinkering. And, whether the folks who make these rules believe it or not, the majority of coaches will seek input from their players.

What's the good of adding three players to your hockey or basketball team if the rest of the players are upset over their friends being cut?

The terms "chemistry" and "bonding" are overused in sports, but a magical transformation can take place with young athletes on championship clubs. A sense of common purpose develops, one of teamwork, dedication and devotion to the person sitting next to you.

It's that feeling all athletes -- young or old, pro or amateur -- all miss the most when they hang 'em up for the final time.

Our kids and their coaches work painstakingly hard for the opportunity to represent Nunavut at the AWG. Let them decide who goes with them on their team.

And, who knows? When they look across the room at a friend short on talent, but tall on heart, some might even decide there really are things more important than winning. Could any medal top that?

Many touched by addictions

Editorial Comment
Malcolm Gorrill
Inuvik Drum

Some powerful words echoed off the walls at Ingamo Hall on Sunday afternoon.

The occasion was the Sober Walk, which kicked off National Addictions Awareness Week.

The true costs of addictions were revealed. Some spoke who had personally struggled with addictions, and explained how they lost touch with family and friends as they got more and more involved in their habit -- whether that be alcohol or drug abuse, or gambling.

Also brought up was the pain felt by those who have lost friends and family members who struggled with addictions.

The point was made that addictions within homes can lead to a vicious circle, where children grow up and develop problems of their own, thinking such behaviour is normal.

It all adds up to a lot of time and money wasted, plus a lot of sorrow.

The Sober Walk and other events taking place this week perform a useful service by bringing attention to a truly international problem. The messages sent out Sunday and during this week need to be repeated again next week, and beyond that, so that the true costs of addictions are realized by more and more people.

Match more than just a game

The hundreds of people who saw the Legendary Hockey Heroes play at the Midnight Sun Recreation Complex witnessed more than just a fun-filled game.

It also served as a reminder of so called "simpler times" in the National Hockey League, when by and large players played for the love of the game, as hard as they could, every shift.

That attitude perhaps is not as common within the NHL now as before, with well paid players often squabbling about terms of their contract, or publicly asking to be traded.

Some of those players, as well as local young people, could learn something from the Hockey Heroes. Even though their NHL days are behind them, it was clear these players still can not get enough of their sport, and they also did not mind signing autograph after autograph.

The game also allowed people to meet their idols, some for the first time.

Whether watching the pros battle it out on television, taking part in matches at the local arena, or practicing in the backyard rink, the good old hockey game still creates lots of great moments and memories.

It's a matter of principle

Editorial Comment
Derek Neary
Deh Cho Drum, Fort Simpson

If a 50-50 royalties sharing agreement were signed between the Deh Cho First Nations and the federal government tomorrow, the First Nations would derive nothing.

That's right, zero, at least initially. Reason being, there's currently no development occurring outside of Fort Liard, which has made it clear it doesn't intend to share royalties from its oil and gas with the rest of the region.

However, the 50-50 proposal would seemingly provide plenty of incentive to open up some land for development. Fifty per cent of royalties would be extremely lucrative.

Even if the deal were signed, it wouldn't necessarily be a permanent arrangement. With a Deh Cho government (acting as a regional public government) eventually assuming power, enough revenue would have to be flowing into the region to ensure programs and services are viable. It's uncertain whether splitting royalties alone would be adequate to run a regional government.

The individual subject matters have yet to be negotiated as well. Will the Deh Cho oversee education, health care and transportation, and how? Those variables will be sorted out in the years to come. The land and resources matters have to be settled first. It's a daunting task in itself, but if it can be done it would allow some economic development to occur. At least that would grease the wheels for the rest of the lengthy negotiations process.

Gambling rarely pays off

A Fort Simpson resident wins $30,000 on a scratch ticket and it's a story in the newspaper. Why is it a story? Well, the answer is because it's extraordinary.

What's not featured in the newspaper are the hundreds of people who have spent a pile of money on lottery tickets and never won a thing. It's been several years since another community member won $10,000 on a lottery ticket. In between there have been many people redeem tickets for $2, $5 or $10, but the vast majority have walked away empty-handed.

This is National Addictions Awareness Week. It tends to conjure images of alcoholism, but let's remember that gambling is another form of addiction -- and that would most certainly include bingo.

Every individual has the right to plunk down some of their hard-earned money on lottery tickets in hopes of hitting the jackpot. And many people enjoy playing bingo, win or lose, for its social aspects. The problem arises when basic needs are neglected in favour of buying tickets or bingo cards.

After all the scratching, dabbing number picking, gambling is a losing proposition.