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PM snubbed minister, MLAs say

Northern News Services
Published Monday, January 13, 2014

Although Transportation Minister Tom Beaulieu was part of a large GNWT delegation that attended the prime minister's celebration in Inuvik on Jan. 8, the Conservative entourage left the minister behind at the Midnight Sun Recreation Complex while it participated in the official groundbreaking ceremony.

"Why wouldn't our transportation minister be there?" asked Yellowknife Centre MLA Robert Hawkins of the short-lived photo op where Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Premier Bob McLeod, Inuvialuit Regional Corporation Chair and Conservative supporter Nellie Cournoyea and Conservative shadow MP Sandy Lee shook hands with Northwind construction workers on Old Navy Road in Inuvik to officially mark the beginning of road construction.

"It seems quite insulting to me that our government isn't putting up more of a fight off that one, and it's insulting that our PMO's office, for one reason or another, excluded our transportation minister."

"I think Northerners should be offended by this crass attitude. The construction of that road will be managed by our transportation minister and our transportation minister will be accountable for any cost overruns. And yet he's being pushed off to the side and ignored."

Range Lake MLA Daryl Dolynny, who was not in Inuvik for the event, echoed Hawkins' sentiments.

"It's not only undermining (Beaulieu's) authority, it's also undermining our consensus-style government," he told News/North.

"If our minister is not allowed to attend events in respect to one of our largest transportation ventures, who do I ask my questions to now, the prime minister?"

"I would give Prime Minister Harper full credit for putting (the Inuvik-Tuk highway) financially on the table, but he made it sound like the federal government is in charge of this project," said Hawkins.

Beaulieu declined News/North's request for an interview on this matter, but spokesperson Shaun Dean said the minister had no complaints about his exclusion, and that the premier represented the GNWT at the groundbreaking ceremony.

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