More members for Yellowknife
Call for more MLAs in western legislative assembly

Jeff Colbourne
Northern News Services

NNSL (Sep 16/98) - Yellowknife Centre MLA Jake Ootes would like to see more ridings in the western capital come next territorial election.

The city accounts for 44 per cent of the population in the west but he said it holds only 30 per cent of the seats in the legislature.

"Of prime importance in the concept of effective representation is the condition of relative parity of voting power so that each person's vote has similar power," said Ootes.

Ootes pointed out that the number of voters in the current electoral districts range from 625 in Tu Nedhe to a high of 3,625 in Yellowknife South. Yellowknife constituencies have some of the highest numbers of voters in all of the North. Yellowknife North has 2,433, Yellowknife Centre 2,061 and Yellowknife Frame Lake 1,523.

"I'm not suggesting that Yellowknife should necessarily hold half the seats in the House.... I know there needs to be a balance between rural and urban representation and room for cultural and community variances," said Ootes.

"But there most definitely needs to be greater representation for Yellowknife."

The MLA said 14 seats in the legislature would make it difficult for cabinet, committees and caucus to function effectively.

Responsible government means an accountable cabinet which is possible only if the number of ordinary members remain greater than the number of cabinet members, he said.

"Also the size of the assembly is important in relation to the operation of committees, caucuses and the pool from which to select a cabinet."

Ootes is encouraging Yellowknifers to voice their opinion at the Electoral Boundaries Commission public hearings at Northern United Place in Yellowknife Sept. 23-24.

Yellowknife North MLA Roy Erasmus and Yellowknife South MLA Seamus Henry and Ootes would also like to hear public opinion on the issue when they host a constituency meeting Sept. 21 at the Great Hall of the Legislative Assembly.