Wednesday, February 26, 1997

Division doesn't mean dismissal

Among the countless challenges that will come with division of the NWT, few will affect Yellowknife more than the fate of the territorial bureaucracy.

The main parties negotiating the terms of division are finding it nearly impossible to agree on what to do with government employees on April 1, 1999. Some, including Nunatsiaq MP Jack Anawak and members of the Nunavut Implementation Commission, would prefer to fire all GNWT staff now assigned to Nunavut and then rehire at the discretion of the government.

The GNWT, however, says existing staff should be given hiring priority, and rightly so.

Division, after all, is not secession. Just as the land that is now the NWT will be divided, so should the responsibility as an employer. What we are talking about is a transfer of power and authority -- and jobs -- from one government to another. Why then should not employees be transferred along with their positions?

All GNWT staff now working in Nunavut, and those in Yellowknife assigned to Nunavut should be given the choice of following their jobs to their new jurisdiction.

Without doubt, some Yellowknife employees will choose to leave the government in favor of other jobs closer to home. Others will leave the North. Some will accept the challenge of helping create a new territory and move east.

Whatever they decide, it should be their choice.

As for the concerns of those who would pursue the more radical option in hopes of building a unique and custom-made bureaucracy, we can only assure them that any civil servant good enough to work for the NWT is good enough to work for Nunavut.

We also note that the severance pay associated with the dismissal of several hundred employees would be extremely costly and, in our view, an unreasonable use of taxpayer's money. (26/Feb/97)

More of Witte's follies

Peggy Witte has once again showed her absolute contempt for the very people who keep her company's operation at Giant Mine alive and kicking: the workers.

In a recent teleconference Witte suggested hoist problems at the mine last year were the result of sabotage which casts a shadow over the operation's unionized workers.

To add insult to injury, Witte would not back up her suggestion with a shred of evidence. She should know better.

It has become painfully obvious Witte has no respect for her workers, but does that mean she has to flaunt it? We think not. (26/Feb/97)

Fare weather friends

Last week Yellowknifer carried two stories on the airline industry. One was about rumors that NWT Air was considering pulling its Inuvik run and the other reported the return of Royal Airlines this summer.

Yellowknifers may applaud the low prices and competition Royal offers but will they be so happy if NWT Air falters further and is forced to cut back beyond Inuvik? Iqaluit? Cambridge Bay?

Northern airlines opened up the NWT and Yellowknife for business and continue to do so. How will we fare if we lose one of our two major carriers? (26/Feb/97)