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Two out of five candidates at forum

Dorothy Westerman
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Jan 11/06) - Only two of the five federal election candidates made an appearance at Sunday evening's forum on land, culture and youth.

The 75 people who turned out heard independent candidate Jan van der Veen describe the proposed Mackenzie valley pipeline as "Environmentally, not a significant project.

NNSL Photo/graphic

An all-candidates forum at the St. Patrick high school foyer brought out independent candidate Jan van der Veen and NDP candidate Dennis Bevington and about 75 spectators. - Dorothy Westerman/NNSL photo

"It's just a tube going across the land. It's not a big deal," said van der Veen, whose answer drew a ripple of laughter.

NWT Mining Heritage Society president Mike Vaydik asked van der Veen and NDP candidate Dennis Bevington "What can the federal government do to stop the destruction of our mining heritage and what would you do to help develop an interpretive centre in Yellowknife?"

"I have always supported heritage projects, but I'd have to look at what's on the books," Bevington said with regard to prior funding commitments.

"If the Heritage Society achieves the support from the city, I think it would be great to save those buildings."

Student Keira Dawn Kolson questioned the candidates on their policies on aboriginal youth.

Bevington said all youth need respect and attention.

"We need to ensure our youth have all the things they need to move forward and a society and culture that will support them."

Van der Veen said education is a territorial matter, not federal.

"But I personally think that young people must be taught key values common to all societies," van der Veen said.

After the forum, former NWT premier Stephen Kakfwi said that while he is not endorsing any candidate, Bevington appeared to be the only serious candidate at the forum.

"He's worked hard and given thought to the positions he's taken on different issues."

Kakfwi said the most important issue facing Northerners may be the approach taken to development.

"Are we totally open to development at any cost in all parts of the North, or are we going to conserve and protect some of our lands and all of our water and wildlife and allow for measured, well-managed, well-paced development in oil, gas and mining?"