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Independent candidate calls for provincialization

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services

Fort Simpson (Jan 16/06) - Provincialization is the Northwest Territories' best option for dealing with the issues related to devolution and resource sharing, according to independent candidate Jan van der Veen.

NNSL Photo/graphic

Jan van der Veen
Party: Independent
Age: 63
Occupation: Economist
Marital status: Married
Children: Three sons
Place of birth: Netherlands
Place of residence: Fort Simpson

"All devolution is going to do is create a lot of talk and tampering with territoriality and it's going to signify relatively little," said van der Veen.

Provincialization would provide a degree of predictability for the territories. With devolution, agreements could be changed in the future when the federal government wants, said van der Veen.

As a province the Northwest Territories would be entitled to all resource royalties instead of the current four cents out of every dollar. A province would also be able to claim part-ownership of offshore resources, van der Veen said.

Another benefit of becoming a province is gaining part of the Trans-Canada highway. According to van der Veen all provinces have a highway across their length so the Northwest Territories could make a strong argument to get one. "A road to the communities and the resources is an excellent idea," he said.

Van der Veen sees the top three issues in the Northwest Territories as being relations amongst aboriginals, between aboriginals and non-aboriginals and between northerners and provincialized southerners.

"Get them right and you are going to prosper," said van der Veen.

"Get them wrong, which is what is happening now, and you are going to stutter."

To promote relations between aboriginals van der Veen would introduce a $60,000 personal ownership option on land claims. He said the current system of complete control of aboriginal leaders over land claims creates two classes - the political elite and everyone else.

Van der Veen thinks race neutral governance is what is needed for relations between aboriginals and other people living in the North. It's necessary for sustainable economic development and is the only form of government in accordance with the United Nations declaration of humans rights, he said

Becoming a province would put the Northwest Territories on more even footing with southern Canada. It would also stop the territory from becoming a drain on the country, he said.