Editorial page

Wednesday, July 30, 2003
Kakfwi has a propensity for secrecy

Last week, pressed by Northern News Services and the CBC, Premier Stephen Kakfwi reluctantly released a draft framework agreement on devolution that's been widely available at First Nations assemblies all summer.

That it took media pressure to persuade the premier to do what was simply the right thing speaks volumes about the arrogance of power and the Kakfwi government.

The premier has displayed increasing contempt for the public -- his and every other MLA's employer -- when it comes to political transparency.

The premier's handling of severance payouts to two top aides in 2001 is a prime example. It was just three weeks ago News/North took him to task for telling a Toronto newspaper reporter his vision for sharing resource wealth.

That there is little substantive detail in the document is largely beside the point. Despite Kakfwi's protestations to the contrary, this was and is a public document drafted by the federal and territorial governments, along with the Aboriginal Summit, comprised of seven territorial aboriginal groups.

It is not, as Kakfwi suggested, akin to routine draft legislation or position papers that are restricted to MLAs. In fact, it seems the only people who didn't see the draft framework agreement on devolution were 40,000 or so members of the public in the territories.

To their credit, the Aboriginal Summit has been widely sharing the document with its rank-and-file members during summer assemblies throughout the NWT.

Devolution, which may come into effect as early as April 2006, will fundamentally change the nature of how this territory is governed. It stands to be the most important political development here since the federal government started carving up Rupert's Land to create provinces after Confederation.

None of us yet know how or what federal powers and resource royalties will be transferred to the territorial or aboriginal governments. But we do know if the premier hopes at all for the majority of the territories' citizens -- aboriginal and non-aboriginal alike -- to buy into the concept of devolution they must be part of the process every step of the way.

Kakfwi's view is that "it is in the spirit of consensus that we don't distribute documents that don't have the approval of the parties involved." However, if he and his government really want "wide-ranging exploratory talks" on topics as important as devolution, the public should be involved when policies are just a draft so there's a real opportunity for input.

This case is a self-serving indictment of consensus government as it now stands in this territory.

Weather blues

Editorial Comment
Chris Puglia
Kivalliq News

There is nothing like the weather to turn most folks into chronic complainers.

People who could end up face down in the street after being hit by a car and not complain a bit will at lengths lament their hatred of any given day's weather.

I will be the first to admit, when it comes to the weather I constantly complain. It's never good enough for me.

Mother Nature could ask me every morning what I would like the weather to be and I'd still find a reason to complain

Too hot, too cold, too windy, not enough breeze, it's truly an amazing phenomenon our lack of acceptance for the weather.

This thought crossed my mind last week as I watched the Rankin temperature rise to nearly 30 C.

Every person I spoke to expressed their discomfort.

To make matters worse, before our sudden sub-tropical heat wave we had barely reached 20 C.

So not only is it hot, we had no time to get acclimatized.

One day it was a little warm and the next it was extremely hot.

The heat turned the town into a sweat-soaked, hazy bowl of dust.

The only good thing was the wind.

Yes, the often criticized Rankin wind was the only factor that kept the temperature outside bearable.

Unfortunately, most buildings in Rankin have tin exteriors and employees had the chance to feel what it's like to be a Sunday pot roast.

But, seriously, I think we should all take the time to enjoy the heat.

I will be the first to stop complaining.

Look on the bright side, in a few months the snow will fly, the wind will howl and this plus 30 will turn into 45 below.

So break out the iced tea, and the bug spray and enjoy the little summer we have.

If that doesn't work everyone can join me in my freezer - where I plan to live until the temperature drops.

Honestly, this is the Arctic it shouldn't be this hot.

Ride the magical history tour

Editorial Comment
Terry Halifax
Inuvik Drum

I snuck away from the last few days of the arts festival to take in the Dawson Music Festival last weekend.

While I had a blast with our neighbours across the border, I couldn't help but feel a bit cheated out of the fun I left behind in the NWT.

With the Great Northern arts fest, the Holman's Billy Joss golf tournament, Yellowknife's Folk on the Rocks and Dawson all going on around the same time, it occurred to me that there should be a lot more thought put into the summer fun schedule.

With some planning from the NWT and Yukon arts and tourism people, we could have a touring music and arts fest that begins in the South and rolls north all summer.

On the NWT side it could begin in Fort Smith, move on to Fort Resolution and Hay River and across the big lake to Yellowknife.

From there they could float a barge down the Mackenzie, stopping in Providence, Norman Wells, Tulita and Good Hope.

On the Yukon side they could do much the same thing beginning at Watson Lake and moving north.

It could be timed that both tours could converge on Inuvik or Tuk at the same time for one huge finale that would be the mother of all music and arts festivals.

Just imagine: with sponsorship from MuchMusic, NTCL, a few airlines, a couple beer companies and record labels we could make Woodstock look like a tea party.

There is a real thirst for summer fun in the North and we should all work together to make the most of the short season.

Pool party

It's finally sinking in to most residents that this year-round pool is finally a reality here, with the beginnings of construction at the site.

The new facility will be a huge boon to the community and with all this hot weather, I think most of us wish it would open right now.

While the financing is arranged for the major part of construction, the fundraising committee just took a huge hit with the Lions cancelling the dream home deal.

The lottery was going to bring $250,000 to the committee who are working their water wings off to get to the $2 million mark.

Various events and initiatives are pulling in small amounts of cash, but they really need a deep pocket donation.

There has been some sizable donations from several energy producers like Devon and more recently PetroCanada, but we have yet to hear from some of the big players in this pipeline deal.

Since they will be taking a lot from the community, I think a gesture of $250,000 isn't a lot to ask of giants like Shell, ConnocoPhillips and Imperial.

The corporate citizen aside, I'm sure they'd like the sound of the Imperial Family Centre, so c'mon K.C., step up to the plate!

Just the facts

Editorial Comment
Derek Neary
Deh Cho Drum

Acho Dene Koe band members in Fort Liard have elected a chief and council for the second time in just over a year.

Floyd Bertrand has been returned as chief in fairly convincing fashion.

He says the mandate of the previous council was paralyzed by chronic arguing at band council meetings. So he and a majority of councillors agreed to hold an early election. Essentially, Bertrand gambled his leadership in hopes that the councillors he saw as problematic would be shed from band council.

With voter support squarely behind him, Bertrand now has some new councillors with whom to work. There would seem to be some pressure on him to get the job done over his new two-year term. Should there be more damaging internal flare ups, at the very least his leadership abilities will likely be called into question for not being able to keep council functional.

Now that the dust has settled in Fort Liard, let's hope that the petitions and the rumours go away and stay away. The community is rife with tales of underhanded tactics that allegedly occurred leading up to last week's election. It's nearly impossible to separate truth from fiction in the quagmire of Acho Dene Koe politics.

There have been numerous petitions, or at least word of such petitions, circulating over the years. Some have demanded the removal of the chief or the resignation of particular councillors. Really, what good have these petitions ever done? When a band member has a concern about a particular issue, he or she should be approaching a councillor and clearing the air directly. Even better, attend a band council meeting or a public meeting and demand answers.

Eva Hope, former sub-chief, decided not to run again in the latest election. She felt she had earned the respect of many community members prior to joining council, she said. Over the past year as a councillor, however, she said she felt that she has somehow become a "bad person" in the eyes of others.

That's a shame. The whole situation is nothing but a shame.

It's time to clean up the politics and the personal attacks. Everyone is losing because of it.

Two votes or one?

Fort Simpson village council was thrown a curve Monday when Mayor Tom Wilson voted twice on motions. In both instances, Wilson went against the narrow majority of councillors present, evened the count and then cast the deciding vote. So the result was that two motions were decided despite having an actual 3-3 deadlock. Only by giving the mayor two votes, a system apparently agreed upon in 1990, were things "settled."

Wilson isn't to be faulted. He only did what was required of him.

But the councillors who said the rule should be changed are right. It's better that the mayor only votes when he's required to break a tie among councillors. Two votes is too many.


Incorrect information appeared in the Around the North section of last Monday's (July 14) edition of News/North. The Sahtu Dene games begin in Deline on Aug. 8 not July 8. News/North regrets the error and any confusion it may have caused.