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Wednesday, November 17, 2004
Not so public transportation

It's 40-below, there's a fresh three inches of snow on the ground and you need groceries.

But you're not going anywhere soon because you need a wheelchair to get around. Stiff weather and a blanket of snow don't mix well with wheelchair mobility. Same goes for people using canes or walkers.

In a city of any size -- and Yellowknife is one of those -- a call to summon the handy-transit service would be a given.

Not here. Not yet. There's a taxi that will handle disabled people, but the cost can bring on a choking fit.

"Would you be willing to pay $30 every time you go shopping?" wheelchair-bound Cornelius Van Dyke asked city council recently.

There's more than the mobility disabled who need such a bus. Less than spry seniors need a transit service like this because it also comes to your door.

When the bones are fragile, an icy walk just one neighbourhood block long in the teeth of a January winter's day can be too much.

Both groups are generally on limited incomes. Paying for taxi trips can be too much of a drain on that income.

A combination of city money and sponsorship support from a service club or other partner(s) may be a starting point.

The city's devotion to public transit should not exclude a growing segment of Yellowknifers.

Time for a name

What kind of a name is Multiplex? It could be a vitamin or a new sports drink.

It's time city council did the right thing and give this community facility a proper name: Shorty Brown-Diavik Multiplex. The city was prepared to sell the Multiplex name for $500,000.

It should be named after Shorty Brown because his name is synonymous with hockey in the North and because the people of Yellowknife said so.

It should be named after Diavik because through that company's generosity in building the second pad, city taxpayers have been saved more than $2 million. Not to mention kids are skating on the new ice three years earlier than originally planned.

Naming the complex will be a reminder for generations to come of Brown's contribution to this city and the rest of the North, and Diavik's commitment to the community.

Economic forecast

Editorial Comment
Darrell Greer
Kivalliq News

There is yet another disturbing trend emerging with Nunavut's economic performance.

Nunavut's gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 8.3 per cent in the year 2000, which was to be expected with the money being spent by a new government to put infrastructure in place.

That number fell to five per cent growth in 2001, where it remained through the end of the 2002 fiscal year.

However, in 2003, despite continued heavy spending by the Nunavut government, the territory's GDP fell dramatically to -7.6.

How it works

The GDP represents the total value of all goods and services produced within a territory during a given year. To arrive at the GDP, consumption, investment, government consumption and expenditures and exports are all added together.

From that point, imports are subtracted from the mix to arrive at the GDP.

Obviously, provinces and territories strive to be on the positive side of the GDP's ledger.

Disturbing trend

What's disturbing about Nunavut's numbers is that a -12.6 swing in one year is significant, with a government still spending as much on territorial development as the GN does.

Further, the downward spiral lends credence to the argument that any province or territory being almost entirely fuelled economically by its own government is heading down the road to financial ruin.

There are those who don't believe the GDP is an accurate portrayal of the overall financial picture.

Credence could be given to two areas of omissions in Nunavut's case, even if not entirely for the right reasons. The GDP does not include production of work done at home or the black market.

Chunk of change

Anyone with even a basic understanding of life in most Nunavut communities would realize that represents a fair chunk of change, but, at the same time, is not overly indicative of the direction the government wishes to travel to financial prosperity.

As well, the GDP does not show the potential distribution of wealth.

Even with a high GDP, it could only be the wealthy benefitting, not middle-class or lower-income families.

But that is almost always the case in Nunavut, regardless of the economic scale being used.

Outside help

The bottom line is the GDP is yet another indicator that Nunavut must attract outside business interests and/or industry.

To wait around for the mining industry to solve our economic problems may prove to be a long wait.

And the Nunavut government cannot continue to drive the territory in the dual role of major employer and best customer.

We can only hope, as a starting point, plans are already firmly in place to take advantage of the benefits territory-wide broadband Internet will provide, especially in the areas of training and information technology.

If not, Nunavut's economic forecast will continue to produce frigid temperatures.

Crack: an express way to despair

Editorial Comment
Jason Unrau
Inuvik Drum

Last week's meeting at Ingamo Hall to discuss ways of stamping out the crack filtering into the community provided a real eye-opener to those unaware that the highly addictive drug is in our midst.

Unfortunately for some at the meeting, crack has already hit far too close to home and is destroying lives in Inuvik right now.

For many, this problem speaks to the need to re-establish an addictions treatment centre -- a return to the Delta House days before the alcohol and drug treatment centre closed down in 1999.

Though the health minister has said there are no such plans to bring a treatment facility back to Inuvik, pressing the GNWT to re-evaluate the matter is sure to be an issue for voters in the upcoming Twin Lakes by-election.

If it wasn't before last Wednesday's meeting at Ingamo Hall, you can bet it is now.

There is no doubt of the detrimental effects of crack on users, their families and the community at large. For more than a decade, this cheap base form of cocaine has ravaged and continues to ravage communities across the land.

Relatively new to Yellowknife, crack addicts have already become part of the urban landscape, wandering the streets looking for their next fix. Inuvik could head in a similar direction if measures are not taken. Reassuring as it was that so many people turned out at Ingamo Hall to talk about this problem, similar gatherings in the past to discuss fetal alcohol syndrome have attracted barely a handful of concerned residents.

Alcohol more widespread

According to RCMP statistics, alcohol abuse is a far more widespread problem and occupies the lion's share of police resources.

While not trying to downplay the seriousness of crack, addiction to this drug must be viewed in the context of the larger issue of alcohol addiction and addictions in general.

For a person hooked on booze, the ride from normality to rock-bottom can be a lifelong affair. Slowly, yet surely, the alcoholic becomes the shell of the person he or she once was. For the a person addicted to crack, this degrading process can happen in a matter of months. The dramatic change witnessed in many loved ones using crack in town perhaps explains the reason for such robust attendance at the Ingamo Hall crack think-tank.

Word is that another meeting to talk about the crack problem is being planned. What may provide for a more proactive approach at this upcoming gathering would be discussing ways of dealing with all addictions in their unique, yet ugly forms.

All Twin Lakes MLA candidates should make getting an addictions treatment centre the forefront of their platforms for election, but without the people's support, their promises will be nothing more than hot air.

Hopefully, the community can channel its energy into lobbying the territorial government for an alcohol and drug treatment centre and not relent until this is realized.

Pipeline construction has not even begun and the swelling economy anticipating this coming gas boom has brought hard drugs in its wake.

What will the future hold in store for Inuvik?

Things look bleak unless changes are made and soon.

Remembrance Day

Editorial Comment
Derek Neary
Deh Cho Drum

Remembrance Day. Should it be a national holiday?

That debate has ignited among federal politicians. Currently, Nov. 11 is observed as a holiday in some provinces and territories, but not in others.

It is possible to make Remembrance Day a statutory day off work. What cannot be legislated is having individuals give pause to honour Canada's veterans and war dead.

Each year we move farther and farther from the Second World War, a battle of such global magnitude that it has not been matched, and hopefully never will be.

Including the Jewish people executed in the Holocaust, the war years of 1939 through 1945 brought an end to an estimated 61 million lives, an absolutely staggering figure. That's almost twice Canada's current population.

Those who lived after seeing action in the Second World War, and who can recount the horrors and futility of war, are literally a dying breed. Back then, the members of the Allied forces shared a common goal: to stop the Axis powers, expansionist fascists led by ruthless dictators.

Fast forward to 2001. The U.S. is attacked by terrorists, who force jets to crash into the World Trade Centre towers, killing thousands. President Bush vows revenge against the responsible terrorist group, Al Qaeda. Bush also decided to move against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. His case for war -- weapons of mass destruction allegedly being amassed in Iraq -- has not been proven true.

No matter. American and a smattering of British and Australian troops remain on the ground in Iraq. There was a riveting documentary on television the other night by a British journalist. He shone a light on the under-reporting of American casualties in Iraq. He also talked to a number of Iraqis on the street. They seemed to agree that the Americans were tolerated when they deposed Saddam, but now they've overstayed their lukewarm welcome.

The Yanks are increasingly seen as occupiers, some Iraqi citizens said. They complained bitterly that, when attacked, the American soldiers open fire indiscriminately on bystanders and arbitrarily raid homes. This fuels hatred of the "occupiers."

In the Americans' defence, a few GIs explained that they never know when or where attacks are coming. Bullets, grenades or rockets could be aimed at them from within a crowd of locals or from any building, but they often can't pick out the offenders from the innocents. They face a nebulous enemy. Yet the soldiers are supposedly there to spread the concept of freedom and win the "hearts and minds" of the Iraqi people.

There were some enlisted men and women who admitted that they have become disillusioned. Unlike their Second World War predecessors -- more like their Vietnam compatriots -- they don't believe in the cause. They are simply following orders.

The U.S. government says it remains committed to helping the Iraqi government hold elections in January. Somehow we have to hope the Iraqi people will accept this new regime, however it might be structured. There are bound to be many more crosses filling cemeteries in the weeks and months ahead.

Today, we should remember the brave U.S. soldiers and innocent Iraqi civilians along with the heroic Canadian troops of past and present.


The Kataujaq Society raised its day care fees by $5 a day, not $5 a week as reported in the Nov. 10 edition of Kivalliq News, "Uneven playing field." The Kivalliq News regrets any confusion the error may have caused.