Roland still opposes negotiated contracts
MLA won't undersign smaller contracts, but supports mega-projects

by Glenn Taylor
Northern News Services

INUVIK (Oct 24/97) - Inuvik MLA Floyd Roland says he will continue to oppose negotiated contracts.

Roland said this week that members of the legislative assembly agreed this year that no negotiated contracts would be signed unless the MLA for the region involved approved.

Negotiated contracts was a concept designed by the GNWT to maximize involvement by First Nations and land claim groups in government contracts. The program has been criticized for not allowing all comers to bid on these contracts.

Others, like the Inuvik Chamber of Commerce, have come out in favor of the contracts, because of the economic spinoffs enjoyed by communities.

"Negotiated contracts work fine in small communities, to help develop a private sector," said Roland. "But in communities like Inuvik with a large private sector already, (negotiated contracts) aren't fair to those who've invested years and thousands of dollars into the community."

Roland said negotiated contracts must be co-signed by the MLA of that region before they can be approved. He said he would continue to refuse doing so.

Roland is not completely opposed to negotiated contracts, however. He said he does support negotiated contracts on large-scale projects like the construction of a new Inuvik hospital. In such huge undertaking, local and regional firms bid at a distinct disadvantage to larger, better-heeled southern firms.

The GNWT is currently debating how land claim groups and other cash-rich Northern groups could be allowed to finance the building of such super-projects through a negotiated contract. The government could then lease back the building from the group that financed and built the project through negotiation.

In cases like these, he said, negotiated contracts are a positive thing, by keeping more employment and investment dollars in the community.