Hundreds pack legislature
Constituency meeting focuses on Giant Mine

Glen Korstrom
Northern News Services

NNSL (Sep 10/99) - More than 150 people -- many of them families and workers at Giant Mine -- attended a constituency meeting at the legislature Sept. 7.

Most of those who attended came to find support from Yellowknife MLAs Jake Ootes, Roy Erasmus, Charles Dent and Seamus Henry in a last-minute bid to buy the mine to keep it operating.

Several questions also centred on keeping benefits for the workers such as severance pay, vacation pay, seniority benefit agreements and pensions to stay intact.

Others urged the four Yellowknife MLAs to reveal any contingency plans they have to keep the mine operating.

"If I wasn't making contingency plans, I wouldn't be working," said Union of Northern Workers financial officer Fredrick Bayer.

"I would like you to share your contingency plan and give optimism to these people, these families that will no longer be receiving paycheques in two weeks, who will not be paying property taxes, who will be losing houses and who are sitting here trying to compose themselves with the shock that's been thrown on this community within the past 24 hours."

Dent replied that the government hoped somebody would come forward with a plan to buy the mine and keep it open.

"I don't have a contingency plan for how we're going to find $12 or $13 million," Dent said.

Perhaps the most emotional plea of the evening was from Weledeh Catholic school Grade 8 student Marita Obst.

"I don't know much about the political side of this," Obst said to the packed hall.

"(But) I really, really, really don't want to move. I just want to finish school here and so does my sister and my dad doesn't want to lose his job. And I really want you to help us. Please."