City rejects unity plan
Keep Quebec in by making better Canada, they say

Arthur Milnes
Northern News Services

NNSL (Sep 18/98) - The city of Yellowknife won't be jumping on the Canadian unity bandwagon afterall.

Councillors rejected passing a motion Monday that is currently making the rounds of the country's municipal governments calling on Ottawa and the provinces to ensure the country is kept together.

Forwarded by the group Team Canada it has been passed by Hay River, Fort McPherson and Kugluktuk.

Last week, a council committee recommended Yellowknife council, too, pass the resolution.

On Monday, however, Councillors Ben McDonald and Kevin O'Reilly led spirited opposition to the resolution that swayed their colleagues into the 'no' camp.

McDonald argued that many who say all Canadian provinces should be equal are simply ignoring the realities of the country's history. Pointing to provisions in the constitution that were placed there at the time of Confederation, and before, ensuring Quebec's distinct legal status, he said the premise was false.

And, he argued, proponents of such a policy might have another objective.

"I'm concerned that the people who are trying to say that Quebec should not have special status are doing that to weaken the federal government to make it easier for what I consider a right-wing agenda to be implemented," he said. "The way we'll keep Quebec in the country is to make it desirable for them to be here."

"The way we do that is to make sure the social safety net, that we use to be proud of, and also things like their cultural identity and language, can be protected inside the country."

For his part, O'Reilly said he did not like some of the wording in the resolution. He pointed out that passages concerning language did not take into account the official status of numerous First Nation's languages here in the NWT.

This was the second time in six months such a resolution was rejected by the city.