Going public
Yellowknife MLAs to host constitutional meetings

by Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

NNSL (Mar 05/97) - Dormant for more than four months, debate over the draft western constitution is about to rear its head.

The four Yellowknife MLAs have scheduled a public meeting for 7 p.m., March 18, at Northern United Place to discuss the draft constitutional package, which was released in October.

"We've been hammering away at (the constitutional working group) to bring more information to the meeting to explain to the public what the other options are, and what the process of ratification is going to be," said Yellowknife Centre MLA Jake Ootes.

The draft, called "Partners in a New Beginning," featured one model of government and offered two more in an appendix.

Ootes said he hopes that, in addition to the constitution, details of the ratification process will be discussed.

"We know it's going to be a plebiscite, but will it be one person, one vote? And what kind of majority will be required?"

The constitutional working group wants to hold public meetings in every western territorial community by the end of the month.

This will be the first opportunity Yellowknifers have had to contribute to the shaping of the constitution, but their second chance to sound off at the document.

The model highlighted in the document received heavy criticism during an public meeting, held Nov. 5.

Objections focused primarily on a provision that gave aboriginal people two votes -- one for an aboriginal representative and one for a regular member of the assembly.