Constitution The Constitution
INUVIK (OCT 25/96) - Inuvik MLA Floyd Roland says he won't support the draft constitution for the western NWT because it divides people on the basis of race.

Released last week, the draft proposes a 22-seat legislature, comprised of 14 public seats and eight seats reserved for land claim groups. Aboriginals would have two votes under the plan -- one for the public seat and one for their claim group representative. Non-aboriginals would vote only for the public seat.

Work on a new constitution to replace the NWT Act has been under way since 1982, when the Constitutional Alliance was set up to brainstorm a new political arrangement in anticipation of the splitting o the NWT in 1999.

Roland (left) said the latest proposal has some strong points, and he likes the idea of bringing claim groups and public government under one roof.

Currently, the government of the NWT and claim groups have been operating under different and often divergent agendas, he said.

But Roland said he would not support any plan that gives lopsided voting clout to any ethnic group. The two-to-one voting proposal has a "tendency to draw lines on the basis of color, and that's not healthy," said Roland. "Everybody's equal, and nobody should be above another. That's the way it should be."

Roland said many MLAs he's talked with also don't support the proposal. "There's lots of good points to this, but there's also a downside, and that's concerning a lot of people," he said.

Roland said he will hold a constituency meeting in Inuvik in November to give people the chance to discuss the proposal further.

The proposal's designers recommend that work begin immediately on completing a constitution for public ratification in eight months.

Roland said he suspects the draft under its current form has little chance of passing a public vote. He said whatever plan is presented must go to a plebiscite, with a majority supporting it.

"I wouldn't want to have to vote for the constitution issue for all the people of Inuvik," said Roland. "All should have the opportunity to say yea or nay to this."