Questions surrounding contract
MLA still trying to figure out the details

Jeff Colbourne
Northern News Services

NNSL (Jul 17/98) - Ordinary MLAs are still trying to figure out the details of the contract recently awarded to Roland Bailey's firm to develop economic strategies for the North.

Hay River MLA Jane Groenewegen, for one, wants to know why Finance Minister John Todd went outside the Department of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development to develop the strategies.

"Do I think the government needs one (economic strategy)? Absolutely. Would I criticize them if they didn't have one? Absolutely. Did they need to go to outside resources given the expertise and experience within the department? That is a question in my mind,"said Groenewegen.

Groenewegen, the MLA who initiated the ongoing conflict of interest complaint against Premier Don Morin, said she was told the contract is worth $300,000. From looking at the proposal, she said, it appears most of the documents and data will be pulled together by departmental staff. It could be that Bailey ends up just supervising the work.

"I don't necessarily think that all the creativity is outside the department,"she said.

Eight sets of documents were picked up on the request for proposals but only one proposal was brought forward, according to Groenewegen.

Yellowknife South MLA Seamus Henry said he supports the economic strategies -- and anything that creates or encourages economic activity in the North.

He added that he would also like to think that the contract was awarded fairly and done in the best interest of both territories.

As for Bailey, who is named in the conflict of interest complaint, Henry said he should not suffer because of the investigation.

"In all fairness, do you shut the guy out from making a potential livelihood from the government because allegations being looked into?"asked Henry.

Henry said he is interested, however, in finding out why eight people picked up papers on the contract but only one responded. He has a difficult time believing that everyone in the North has enough work to do.

Other MLAs, including Iqaluit's Ed Picco, said Wednesday's official announcement, which followed inquiries by Yellowknifer, was the first they heard of the contract.

"I don't want to make any comments on it unless I'm sure of what the details were,"said Picco on Wednesday.

Kivallivik MLA Kevin O'Brien also refused to comment until he has the chance to collect the facts surrounding the contract.

A message left on Roland Bailey's voice mail in Yellowknife was not returned by Yellowknifer's deadline.

Attempts to reach cabinet secretary Andrew Gamble, who is in Ottawa this week, and Yellowknife MLAs Jake Ootes and Roy Erasmus, were also unsuccessful.