City wants more MLAs
Rejects notion stand bad politics

Arthur Milnes
Northern News Services

NNSL (Sep 23/98) - At least two, maybe more.

That's the number of additional MLAs Yellowknife deserves when western NWT ridings are redrawn, city council will tell the NWT Electoral Boundaries Commission at public meetings tonight and tomorrow.

Mayor Dave Lovell will be reading a prepared statement containing the message. All members of council have now provided input in arriving at the city's official position.

"In conclusion then, increased representation in the legislative assembly for Yellowknife following division in one way by which the commission can at least partially meet its three main objectives while, at the same time, addressing the single largest instance of inadequate representation in the legislature," states a draft report reviewed by council Monday.

Coun. Robert Slaven went one further. Citing legal precedent, he said he's willing to consider legal action if the commission and assembly don't increase the city's MLAs.

"If Yellowknife doesn't get proper representation, I'm going to go around as a private citizen, pass the hat and go to court," he said.

Slaven also stressed the importance of ordinary citizens coming out tonight and tomorrow and letting the commission know their views.

Coun. Cheryl Best also had strong words.

"It's our job to ensure that Yellowknife gets more representation whether we get trashed by the press and media or not," she said.

Council was not unanimous. Ben McDonald said such a position could be seen as a power grab by the NWT's largest population base before future constitutional arrangements have even been agreed upon.

"Politically, it's giving the wrong message to the people of the NWT," he said. "...We have a responsibility as public officials to act in the broad public interest...Just the fact we're here (in the NWT capital) gives us the ear of the ministers."

Deputy Mayor Blake Lyons likened such a position to someone not protesting while being sexually assaulted.

"If you protest at the time it puts you in better standing in court," he said.

The comments were made at a city hall committee meeting Monday.