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A clock with a bite
Editorial Comment
Roxanna Thompson
Deh Cho Drum
Thursday, June 19, 2008

The leash for young teenagers in Fort Simpson is getting shortened this summer.

The RCMP detachment in the village plans to actively enforce a bylaw that imposes a curfew for youth under the age of 16. During the summer months anyone under 16 who's outside in a public place between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. without a parent or guardian will risk being stopped by a member of the RCMP.

Reactions to this enforcement will likely split along generational lines.

For those to whom the curfew applies, it will seem like an unfair sentence. During the summer when it's still light outside after 11 p.m. and the weather's nice, it takes a lot of will power for anyone who's awake to stay indoors, especially if they're young.

With the sun still shining there's little incentive to stay inside unless you're particularly hooked on video games. A curfew imposed by an outside power will seem like an unfair restriction on summer vacation which is suppose to be a time for indulgences.

While the RCMP aren't vindictive killjoys there will be repercussions for youth found wandering outside. The first offence comes with a free ride home and a written warning that a parent or guardian has to sign outlining the bylaw and further consequences.

With the next offence the bylaw gets more serious by reaching into pocketbooks. With fines ranging from $100 to $300 for the second through to the fourth offence the fines could soon add up.

Adults will probably have a mixed reaction to the enforced bylaw.

Some parents whose youth are found outside after hours won't be fans of the bylaw. The bylaw makes parents and guardians, not the offending youth, responsible for the fines.

Other parents might welcome the bylaw as a way to help keep closer tabs on their teens. If a request for a teenager to stay home after a certain time doesn't work the knowledge that there could be a fine involved will add a little incentive.

The RCMP are certainty hoping that the latter will be the case.

According to members of the detachment the bylaw isn't being enforced as a way to levy fines and increase the village's coffers. It's been offered as a tool for parents to use so they can be more accountable for their young teenagers and keep track of where they are and what they're doing.

It's also hoped the bylaw will curtail some of the activities that can go along with unaccompanied minors including vandalism and underage drinking. Both activities have proven to be issues of the past few summers. So far this spring the high school has already had windows broken over four separate weekends.

As in many things the majority of teenagers in the village are going to have to pay for the mistakes of the few. If, however, the bylaw prevents any youth from being in a position where they could make the wrong decision it will have been worth the enforcement.

While some youth will rightfully feel indignant about having to live with a curfew it's those who will chafe the most that really need the guidance.

Hail to the chief
Editorial Comment
Dez Loreen
Inuvik News
Thursday, June 19, 2008

During his eight years as president of the Gwich'in Tribal Council, Fred Carmichael showed he's always ready for a fight.

During his speech at the Inuvik Petroleum Show, when he received an award from former Alberta premier Ralph Klein, Carmichael had the audience hanging on every word. He said the aboriginal people of the North need to establish themselves as major players in the development of our home.

Carmichael shared his passion for the North with everyone he encountered during his time as leader of the Gwich'in.

A lot of the work happens behind the scenes, with early morning meetings, conference calls and long-distance calls amounting to a lot of overtime hours.

Work like his is not done on a nine-to-five basis; a job like his doesn't get left at the office.

At the start of a new millennium, Carmichael took his seat as president, taking the reins as advocate for the people of the Gwich'in settlement area.

He helped give our region an identity.

Now, after a late night of ballot counting and calculating, a new president has emerged from a four-way race.

Richard Nerysoo, Inuvik Native Band chief, was chosen as the new leader for the Gwich'in people.

Former vice-president Mary Ann Ross was re-elected.

Now, the two of them have a challenge: to proceed with the pipeline project and get the best deal for the people and the region.

Nerysoo is not a stranger to leadership.

He was elected to the legislative assembly in 1989 as MLA for the Mackenzie Delta.

He was the youngest MLA elected in the NWT.

Nerysoo has also served as NWT premier and as Speaker of the legislative assembly.

After many meetings and conversations with Nerysoo about various topics over the past few years, it's easy to see why he was elected.

He has a strong voice and a genuine interest in the growth of our region.

With the recent opening of the treatment centre on the delta, the Gwich'in are in a prime position to offer help to those who need it.

By helping our people through their problems, we are building a stronger community.

Our region will soon be strong enough for any social issues that might arise.

There are many voices in our town that are not heard.

We will always need those who are willing to stand tall and speak for those who can't.

This is the time to start building for the future.

It's sad there aren't enough young people active in local politics and leadership. Maybe we'll see something on the horizon soon enough, if we stare hard.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Bailey House needs to be a home

Bailey House has not yet opened its doors, but it is already a source of debate.

The transitional home is to house close to 30 men who have taken Salvation Army programs or addictions treatment.

Some Yellowknife residents insist the centre should not discriminate - that all homeless need a place to live.

Now, the Salvation Army is operating near capacity, often providing shelter for 45 men a night. The opening of Bailey House in the coming months may ease that burden.

But the Salvation Army will remain the primary option for those who cannot deal with their addictions.

Admittance to Bailey House will only come with a demonstrated will to leave drugs and alcohol behind. Residents will have to pay modest rent and should be able to live without nightly reminders of their troubled past from drunken housemates.

For the others, Bailey House will hopefully be incentive to get on the right track.

While we support the sobriety requirement, it is equally essential that rooms in Bailey house not sit vacant. Salvation Army management may well have to adjust their plans and adapt the building to ever-changing community needs.

Allowing a building built for the homeless to sit half-empty would be a betrayal of both the homeless and those who worked so hard to have our city live up to the legacy of Gordon and Ruth Bailey.

MLAs need better training

After every territorial election, MLAs undergo 10 days of orientation, including one full day on house procedures. They spend two hours dissecting step-by-step procedures in the legislative assembly.

Apparently that's not enough.

Last week, MLAs spent 26 minutes debating whether Great Slave MLA Glen Abernethy was out of order in saying ministers Norman Yakeleya, Michael McLeod and Michael Miltenberger were unhappy about having projects in their constituencies deleted from the budget.

In a separate incident, MLA Jane Groenewegen also recently brought up the issue of whether it was a conflict of interest for ministers to defend capital projects in their own constituencies.

Speaker Paul Delorey ruled both times there was no point of order.

Delorey has also come under fire recently for comments about the budget made during a newspaper interview. Delorey said he made the comments as an MLA, not as Speaker, but the Union of Northern Workers said he violated parliamentary procedures and should step down from his position as Speaker.

According to Tim Mercer, clerk of the legislative assembly, there are no rules in place for the Speaker to follow. Being a fair and impartial arbiter of house rules is at the Speaker's discretion.

But these incidents indicate a need for some clear-cut policies on how an MLA represents his or her constituency while serving as a minister or Speaker.

Of course there must always be a mechanism for MLAs to cry "Point of order," but for this to be truly effective, there needs to be a much less murky understanding of parliamentary procedures.

MLAs should go into the legislative assembly with an unequivocal understanding of house rules. That way, the assembly can focus on important territorial issues instead of housekeeping.

The day the music died
Editorial Comment
Darrell Greer
Kivalliq News
Wednesday, June 18, 2008

If more evidence were needed as to how out of touch the CBC has become with its viewing audience, the recent decision not to renew its agreement to play the ditty that has been the Hockey Night in Canada (HNIC) theme song for the past 40 years should just about fit the bill.

The HNIC song was composed by Dolores Claman in 1968.

In its last deal with Claman and Copyright Music and Visuals, the CBC paid a scant $500 per game for using the song.

So, that's the price of Canadiana these days - $500.

I don't buy for one second CBC's claims that its decision had nothing to do with the unsettled lawsuit Claman filed in 2004, which alleges the network was overusing the HNIC theme song.

But, whatever the CBC's reasons, the network - as it did with the Ron McLean fiasco - grossly underestimated the fallout over the decision from Canadians all across this great land of ours.

CTV has secured the rights to the song and will use it for NHL games broadcast on TSN and its French RDS network this coming season.

It will also be used for 2010 Olympic Winter Games coverage from Vancouver.

But that's small consolation for the majority of Canadians who view the song as the unofficial partner to the Canadian national anthem.

The CBC seems determined to bite the hand that feeds it with its continued disrespect for the biggest and most loyal group of watchers it has; those who tune in to HNIC every Saturday night.

The network has seemed obsessed the past few years with doing away with the personalities who helped make HNIC such a huge success - Don Cherry, Ron McLean and play-by-play man Bob Cole.

In fact, it's more than a little ironic Canada's supposed national network doesn't understand the average Canadian's fierce devotion to tradition, let alone the manner in which hockey fans pass on their love of the game to the next generation.

The HNIC theme song is the most recognizable tune in Canadian history, with the vast majority of Canadians able to identify it in about two seconds.

Talk about connection to a product.

The jury is still out on Scott Moore, who took over the top sports job with the CBC when Nancy Lee left for her gig with the Olympics.

But over-skating the puck on the HNIC theme song far outweighs the good he accomplished by getting the Blue Jays and figure skating in the network's stable.

Moore recently claimed CBC Sports turns a profit on its own, but that's primarily driven by HNIC and its six-year deal with the NHL.

The competition is getting stiffer each year and alienating its fan base by dropping the HNIC theme song runs the real risk of viewers turning to other broadcasts.

Hockey fans are no different than anyone else when it comes to loyalty in that it has to be a two-way street.

Claman's then three-year-old melody was the furthest thing from Don McLean's mind when he penned American Pie in 1971.

But for millions of Canadians 37 years later, the CBC's decision to discontinue the HNIC theme song truly was the day the music died.