Friday, December 16, 2005
Pavel Lopez had a job at Stanton Territorial Hospital, a home, a car, plenty of friends.
His only problem was that he tried to come to Canada as a refugee. Immigration regulations are supposed to serve the interests of Canadians. Unfortunately, rules fail to foresee certain situations. That's when common sense is required if the goal of serving the country is to be met.
It is a great mistake to put the rules ahead of this goal. The rules won out at the expense of Northerners and Canadians when Lopez was sent home to Costa Rica. He was a valuable employee at Stanton, providing a much needed service. Now he's not.
He had to leave when convicted criminals who should be deported are left to stay in Canada and commit more crimes. In Lopez's case the rules didn't work; immigration officials failed their country.
A study of potential residential sites in Yellowknife prepared for City Council lists the Community Garden Collective's plot among several areas suitable for development.
The 2.6 hectare site at Kam Lake Road and Woolgar Avenue has space for 27 single family homes, 84 medium-density units or 169 high density units, according to the study's authors.
The study has been hanging around since the spring, causing anxiety among the collective's 90 or so green-thumbed members who lease the land year-to-year.
Gardeners have been there since 1995, coaxing and coddling everything from potatoes and carrots to broccoli and tomatoes.
They trucked in topsoil from Hay River and lovingly built it up over the past decade with manure, peat moss and garden refuse. It's a study in recycling that could be copied throughout Yellowknife.
The garden plots aren't just for apartment dwellers. Growing vegetables here is a challenge under even the most favourable circumstances and not every patch of ground rewards a gardener's best efforts.
But every year, the collective's members manage to contribute hundreds of kilograms of produce to the Salvation Army and Yellowknife Food Bank.
The collective is asking for a 10-year lease on the plot. City Council should top that by approving the proposed lease and striking the garden site from the development list.
It's time for the annual Kivalliq News Christmas gift list.
We were so impressed by how many of the gifts we sent out in 2004 were put to good use, we decided one gift simply isn't enough for everyone on our list this year.
So, while we're in such a giving mood, let's start at the top with Premier Paul Okalik.
After seeing the shape Okalik was in when he came to Rankin to open the new regional health facility, we immediately ordered a jar of Tiger Balm to help him bounce back from those hockey-related injuries.
We also sent the premier a life-sized cutout of himself in goalie gear to put on the ice when duty keeps him for making the game.
We're told by a few of his teammates in Iqaluit that his opponents probably won't notice the switch.
And, finally, we send along a case of Noxema to help with that nasty sunburn on the back of the premier's neck.
We knew the Lone Ranger mask we sent house Speaker Jobie Nutarak this past year would come in handy, so we decided to send a few more items he may find handy.
First, a personal diary with lots of space for keeping notes, just so the Speaker can remember where he was and what he did on any given day.
We also send a toy translator from the original Star Trek series to help him live long and prosper as Speaker.
To Arviat MLA David Alagalak, we send the world's largest Brita water filter and water pistol.
The Brita is for his constituents. The water pistol is for the next sitting of the legislative assembly.
What to give the man who has everything? That was the task ahead of us when Education Minister Ed Picco was next on our list.
We thought it a bit strange for a native Newfoundlander to be appointed head of education to begin with, seeing as how they don't really speak English or Inuktitut.
But after listening to Picco for the past year, he seems to have lost the ability to speak true Newfoundland-ese, so we decided to help him get in touch with his roots.
We've sent the good minister an ample supply of the letters D and H.
Now, when Picco talks about dis or dat to dos byes over dere, he'll be able to complain about the price of hoil in Nunavut without missing a beat.
We also sent some strong rope so he can stop that cat's annoying habit of getting out of the bag so much.
We've put the rope under the Christmas tree at the FOL site in Rankin Inlet.
To Rankin North MLA Tagak Curley, we send a brand-new watch with a really, really big face and hands.
Hopefully, the watch will remind him that taxpayers' time is not to be wasted protesting against ministers.
The watch is engraved with the slogan: Members rule the House!!
To Iqaluit Central MLA Hunter Tootoo, we send a giant map of Nunavut with easy to follow directions.
The tiny part circled in yellow is you (Iqaluit), the rest of that really big area circled in red is us.
Get used to it!!
And, finally, our Secret Santa gift goes out to two ministers who shall rename nameless, at least for now.
Under your trees, you will find a genuine note excusing you from the house during the ministerial review process.
The notes won't change the results, but they will keep you blissfully in denial for a few more days.
May these gifts be received in the spirit for which they were intended.
Happy holidays to everyone and our hopes for peace in the new year.
The National Energy Board visited Inuvik two weeks ago to fine-tune the schedule for the upcoming gas project hearings.
Prior to that meeting getting underway, one of the NEB panel members remarked that he and his two colleagues had previously been referred to as "the wise men," a kind of season-inspired nickname for them one supposes.
Considering the power vested in these individuals, perhaps "pipeline kings" would have been more appropriate. It gives a whole new meaning to the holiday ditty We Three Kings, doesn't it?
Despite rumblings in the south from Deh Cho leadership regarding the pipeline project's fate in terms of whether or not the Deh Cho will allow right-of-way access, what should be clear by now is that Deh Cho permission is not required for the project to proceed.
After the NEB panel has heard submissions from proponents and intervenors, and incorporated the Joint Review Panel's findings on socio-economic and environmental impacts into a final decision, it will submit its recommendation to federal cabinet for approval. In the NEB's 46-year history the government has never ruled against an NEB decision, so whatever the "'wise men" think, odds are it will be rubber-stamped in Ottawa.
What should also be clear is that leadership in the Beaufort-Delta wants a pipeline built. A quick look at the roster of businesses and joint ventures under the aboriginal corporate umbrella, not to mention statements of support from the Gwich'in and Inuvialuit brass throughout the uphill process, confirms this.
Communities along the pipeline corridor should be lobbying for cheap natural gas on demand. While environmentalists against the Mackenzie Gas Project are trying to convince the rest of us that gas molecules from the Beaufort are going to end up fueling tar sands refining in Alberta, the benefits for NWT residents of having access to perhaps a lifetime supply of clean-burning fuel should be a paramount demand made to those with the power to make it happen.
These are already here created by historical realities colliding with the increase of industry and commerce to the region in the last 40-odd years. In terms of simple economics, an increase in higher wage employees affects local inflation rates which has caused - and will continue to affect - the increase of prices, not to mention the inherently high cost of shipping anything to remote regions.
On top of all the other social concerns, the high cost of nutritious food is something that burdens us all.
At the very least, the territorial government should be looking at using its share of resource royalties (hopefully to increase with devolution/revenue deal with Ottawa) to subsidize the price of groceries. Fuel and food staples for Northern living are relevant issues that can be addressed and should be.
It was with regret I learned that in last week's Drum I got the name of the late Jake Heath wrong. In addition to several phone calls to inform the paper of the error, I received an e-mail admonishing me for the mistake.
In an attempt to rectify the situation, please see the reprinted obituary in the news briefs section on page three of this issue and to the family and friends of Jake, I am profoundly sorry for the error.
On the face of it, the handful of folks who live in Kakisa seem to be staring down a big bully in Industry Canada.
The federal bureaucrats are demanding that the tiny community hand over some cash for operating a radio station that emits classic country tunes and local announcements to its 40 residents.
It just makes you want to say, "Leave well enough alone!" It's not like Lloyd Chicot is aiming to become the next Howard Stern for goodness sakes.
The little broadcast centre in Kakisa has managed to operate for nearly two years without Industry Canada showing up with its hand out.
In the south, where the radio spectrum is quite crowded, having a licence is essential because there are only so many assigned frequencies to go around. It would be chaos if rebels started to hijack the air waves.
But in the North just try to get any hint of a signal on your vehicle's radio as you're driving vast distances from one community to another. Good luck!
Satellite radio, a new kid on the block, is the only sure bet. Otherwise some commercial stations may fade in and out while you're travelling late at night.
It seems ludicrous for Industry Canada to chase after little guys like the Ka'a'gee Tu First Nation on 89.7 FM, which can only be heard in the immediate vicinity of the community.
But we do live in an age of licensing things. Want to drive a truck or fly a plane? You must have a licence.
How about opening a business? Whether a huge operation or a one-person enterprise, it requires a licence.
Going hunting or fishing? Some of us require a permit for that period.
Licensing radio goes back to the early 20th century, Industry Canada's Rolf Ziemann said. It was even more onerous in the past when even receivers had to be authorized. Get this, at one time someone who owned a television had to have a permit to use it!
Kakisa's broadcast station is deemed private commercial radio by Industry Canada.
That puts them in the same category as the RCMP or many small businesses with delivery radios. They all have to pay a licence fee as well.
Making exceptions would only get the Canadian government into trouble. But how about a Deh Cho government?
That's right, there's a self-government process under way here.
If the people of this region feel strongly enough about not having to licence radio, then it should be one of the items negotiated with Ottawa.
Vive la radio!
Rainer Launhardt's name was spelled incorrectly in Yellowknifer Dec. 14 (Explorer to grow by 60 rooms). Launhardt is vice-president of hotels for Nunastar Properties. We apologize for any embarrassment or confusion.