Ethel goes for hat trick
Electorate worldwide is cranky, MP says

by Chris Meyers Almey
Northern News Services

NNSL (Apr 09/97) - MP Ethel Blondin-Andrew tried to distance herself Saturday night from her boss's approach to getting women into public office.

It was during a $150 gala fundraising dinner held in Yellowknife for Western Arctic Liberals that Blondin-Andrew, pointed out that Jean Chretien never had to hand her the nomination for the riding as he has for women in other ridings.

The appointments have ruffled some Liberal feathers, particularly those who once planned on seeking the nomination in affected ridings.

"I've never been appointed," Blondin-Andrew said, "never had a free ride."

The MP, first elected in 1988, received the unanimous support of riding members to run again in the next federal election, which is widely expected to be called for this June.

Later, while reflecting on her rocky recent past in Parliament, she added that she's had "enough trying times in politics to last a lifetime."

Blondin-Andrew reflected on the credit-card affair, in which she was pilloried in the Commons for buying personal items on a government card, but she preferred to blame a cranky electorate for some of her problems.

The road is not always paved with gold or diamonds, the secretary of state for training and youth said. "I've had my ups and downs and had to say no when I desperately wanted to say yes."

But Blondin-Andrew stuck up for her government, saying she is proud to have played a part in the National Youth Employment Strategy, which builds upon 250 federal initiatives and an investment so far of over $2 billion in young people.

Last year the Liberals set aside $315 million over three years for youth employment and she noted that "half of our population in the North is under the age of 26." "These are our children, our brothers and sisters, our grandchildren," she said. "We must do more for young people so they see a brighter future."

She also took the opportunity to remind party members that the federal government took steps to ensure that the BHP diamond mine balances the North's unique environmental, traditional and cultural realities while ensuring that the project remains viable "for our children and grandchildren."