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Legislative Assembly briefs
Devolution deal imminent: Bromley

Laura Busch
Northern News Services
Published Monday, March 11, 2013

Weledeh MLA Bob Bromley cautioned the legislative assembly on March 7 inking a devolution deal before the public is consulted.

He questioned Premier Bob McLeod about when public consultations will begin and asked if the devolution deal would be put to a vote or a public referendum.

"There will be an unprecedented level of public engagement and consultation," said McLeod, adding the assembly will vote on the deal once it is finalized.

However, members of the public should not expect a vote on the devolution deal.

"I personally don't believe in running government by referendum or by plebiscite," said McLeod.

"I would not support that."

Inuvik-Tuk highway project draws fire

The proposed Inuvik-to-Tuktoyaktuk highway project came under fire in the legislative assembly last week.

Concerns about the project were voiced primarily by Yellowknife MLAs while members from the Beaufort Delta and Transportation Minister David Ramsay supported the project.

Yellowknife Centre MLA Robert Hawkins called on the government to release a plain-language document explaining the estimated $299-million project to the public.

He twice pressured Ramsay to reveal how much the Inuvialuit will receive in royalty fees on gravel. Granular royalties are outlined in the Inuvialuit Land Claim Agreement. Ramsay would not disclose the amount, saying it is still under negotiation.

People in the Beaufort Delta region, and Inuvik specifically, are struggling because of a lack of jobs, said Inuvik Boot Lake MLA Alfred Moses March 6.

Moses expressed concern at the tone of questioning March 5, saying it suggested this government is planning and negotiating the construction project "in secret."

"There has been so much talk about cost overruns that I was starting to wonder if I had missed the start of construction," quipped Mackenzie Delta MLA Frederick Blake Jr. "This project will turn around the weak economy we have had for so many years in the Delta."

Weledeh MLA Bob Bromley questioned this logic during his members statement March 8.

"Five years of construction jobs does not turn an economy around," he said, adding the people of the Beaufort Delta would be better served by money promoting tourism and other long-term industries.

Aboriginals over-represented in NWT jails

Eighty-eight per cent of inmates in NWT jails are aboriginal, although they make up just 53 per cent of the territory's population, Justice Minister Glen Abernethy said March 7.

Abernethy suggested social problems such as poverty and substance abuse play a role in why so many aboriginal people are in the correctional system.

In response, this government is working on an anti-poverty strategy, which is due to be released by this summer.

Inuvik Boot Lake MLA Alfred Moses questioned the minister about the availability of treatment programs in NWT facilities and asked if these programs were mandatory for all inmates.

Every inmate is assigned a case manager to develop a tailored plan to meet their needs and identify what programs are appropriate, said Abernethy. However, he said inmates with addiction problems are not forced to attend treatment classes.

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