Wednesday, March 26, 1997

Who needs human rights anyway?

Finance Minister John Todd, speaking on behalf of the government of the Northwest Territories, says the Canadian Human Rights Act "should not intrude on the management and direction of the public service."

It's a perfectly logical stance, really. After all, those annoying rules and regulations that require employers to treat their employees fairly and equally only cost governments unnecessary millions of dollars -- money that could be put to much better use building legislative assembly parking lots or something.

While we're at it, why not get rid of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms? It was Pierre Trudeau's idea and everyone knows he never really understood the needs of the average finance minister. Do women, aboriginal Canadians and the disabled really need protection from the rich and powerful? Surely not. At least, not if that would interfere with the management and direction of the public service.

What does it matter that the Federal Court of Appeal has ruled that the Human Rights Act does apply in the NWT? There aren't any Northerners, let alone Northern finance ministers, on the court, are there? What could they know of the challenges of managing and directing a public service north of 60?

Remember: we do things differently up here. We're not going to let anyone in Ottawa tell us how to treat our own employees, are we? On to the Supreme Court!

The only flaw in Todd's thinking is that fighting what seems to be a losing battle will only cost us even more than the millions (as much as $70 million, according to the Union of Northern Workers) we'll almost certainly have to pay women and other employees involved in the pay equity battle, after the Supreme Court rules against us.

Come to think of it, appealing something all the way to the Supreme Court can be very expensive indeed.

Hmmm. Maybe human rights aren't such a bad thing after all... ( 3/26/97 )

Education deficit

The North has the most generous student funding program in the country to go along with the lowest literacy and highest drop-out rates.

With the government's success holding the line on a deficit, the temptation will be there to have education department costs fall into line. But money spent on education in the NWT is money well spent in all areas, from social to economic.

Finance Minister John Todd says he doesn't want the children of the future burdened with crippling debt. Every child that grows up without an education carries a similar liability. ( 3/26/97 )

Good show!

Organizers, volunteers and everyone in the city who took part in Caribou Carnival '97 should take a step back, a deep breath, and pat themselves on the back.

What was dangling precariously on the edge of disaster last week sure didn't look like a flop come Saturday. Yellowknifers, tourists, other Northerners and lots and lots of dogs were all treated to one heck of a good time and even the spring weather came out to play.

While the carnival staff deserves a round of applause and a little breather, lets hope a lot of them stick it out for another year because everyone looks forward to as good a time -- or even better -- in 1998. ( 3/26/97 )

Cheers and tears

It's 25 years ago this week that the first edition Yellowknifer hit the street.

For a quarter century we've been reporting good news and sad news about Yellowknife and Yellowknifers. It has been a privilege. Thank you. ( 3/26/97 )