Editorial page
Friday, April 24, 1998

The regrettable need to regulate

No responsible parent would even contemplate letting a child to get behind the wheel of an extremely powerful truck and driving that vehicle into traffic.

Instead, people young and old who want to drive have to prove they understand the rules of the road, safety procedures and how to operate a vehicle. Passing the test, they are given a licence.

However, some of the same people who behave so responsibly on the road think nothing of hopping into a high-powered boat and roaring off to the East Arm without even an instruction manual on board.

And it is not just kids. Adults, although perhaps a little less prone to risk-taking and unplanned adventure, also need to understand water safety and the rules that govern boating.

It is with that in mind that the federal government has raised the issue of licensing boaters. No doubt there will be debate around licensing kids. We can rest assured that there will be heated discussion about the need to license boats with small engines.

Boats are just being added to the list of things government feels compelled to regulate to protect us from ourselves.

Sadly, the thought of having to have a licence to putter around on a lake during one of those indescribably beautiful Northern afternoons takes away from the carefree spontaneity of it all.

However, the fact is that we no longer live in carefree times. We need licences to fish, to hunt, to hop in the car to go to the store. We need licences to sell hot dogs and beer. Fast boats and busy waterways mean there is need for increased regulation.

As we have discovered with guns, booze and internal combustion engines, users can't always be relied on to make responsible decisions.

Reluctantly, we see the need for licensing boats.

New neighbors?

It's nice to see BHP Diamonds getting into the community-oriented swing by offering incentives to its workers, many of whom are probably interested in putting down roots in the Northwest Territories, if they haven't already.

The company's new program that pays living allowances to Northern residents is extremely encouraging. Now, maybe the housing industry, which has certainly seen better days in the city, will finally enjoy some much-needed relief.

Who knows? Maybe this will produce some neighbors for the scattering of residents that now make up the Niven Lake subdivision.

Good Samaritans

For the squeamish, discussing organ donation upon an untimely death is a painful subject. It's even worse than making a will, because organs are those possessions we wish most not to lose, let alone agree to give away, no matter what the circumstances.

The trick is to put the unsettling aspects of organ donation beside the hopeful future of a person given a new lease on life from a new kidney, liver, heart or lung. Modern medicine can perform miracles but thoughtful donors allow doctors to work their magic.

Discuss organ donation with your family, discuss it with your doctor, fill out the donor card. What better way to leave this world than as a Good Samaritan? Consider it an insurance policy for the next life.

Editorial comment
A modest suggestion
Ian Elliot
Inuvik Drum

It is a brave council indeed that does what Inuvik's did this week: go to the public and ask if they deserve a raise.

Here's hoping they get an earful, a carefully considered earful, because to be fair, the job doesn't pay a lot for the hours a conscientious representative puts in -- at present some $3,500 or so a year for the ordinary councillor if they attend all the meetings, go to all the ribbon-cuttings and roast-beef banquets and are available 24 hours a day to listen to people like us whine about why things don't work better.

Even better than the current suggestion, of course, would be a system where our politicians could be paid afterwards. Think about it. You get to decide what to pay your elected officials after you've seen them in action. One can't help but think what a wonderful world that would be. Kind of like the world our bosses live in.

Imagine the possibilities. Think Disneyland for adults, a mentally-healthy and fun world in which you don't have to nurse a grudge for the three or four long years between elections.

Spring runoff leaving your yard so full of water you need a suspension bridge to get to your truck in the mornings? No bonus for whoever approved the road plan.

Unhappy because your windshield looks like a relief map of the Selwyn Mountains thanks to the bannock-sized rocks spread as gravel on town streets, or that you couldn't get up the hill beside the Igloo Church between October and March because you didn't have studded tires and three strong men pulling a rope attached to your bumper?

Gonna be some lean times ahead, folks. Midnight Sun Recreation Complex soaring millions of dollars over budget? We're coming after your houses. Nothing personal.

But why stop at local councils? Wouldn't it be wonderful to peruse the record of the legislative assembly in Yellowknife on a deck chair in some backyard of Inuvik, knowing that you get to vote on the salaries of the respected members?

That whole tiresome conflict-of-interest circus and who wrote the anonymous note to Jane? Bad elected representatives. Act like children, you can eat Zoodles out of the can like children. Spend three weeks grand-standing about a diamond-sorting facility in the NWT and the eight or so jobs it would provide because the North has not got a single problem more deserving of the legislative assembly's collective attention. Too bad there aren't a lot of buses up here because we're not paying to fly you home first-class.

Now that would be the voice of the people. Imagine being able to call up your local MP or MLA knowing that you not only hold the key to their pension, but their paycheque as well. Nothing like a few thousand people breathing down your neck and holding out your next bag of groceries to really clear one's mind about what's really important.

Editorial Comment
Visiting the dump
Arthur Milnes
Deh Cho Drum

Call me crazy, but I'm starting to think the Fort Simpson dump should be named Canadian Tire, Wal-Mart or even Zellers.

As you know, I've been suffering from a bit of fishing fever lately. In order to curb the symptoms, I've been trying to give myself projects in order to kill this painful time that's left before the ice is gone.

So, I've been doing a lot of spring cleaning around our home and office. While a poor substitute for a day at Rabbitskin or evening at Harris Creek, it has been getting me through.

Faced with a massive amount of junk, my friend Ken and I went off to the dump Sunday to dispose of all this stuff.

Once we had dumped the load I'd collected around the Drum, we spent a few minutes exploring. Within minutes, we'd both found someone else's junk that was in fact our treasures.

Ken made off with a collection of two-by-fours he needs for work around the house, along with a few other items.

As for me, the inside of a washing machine is now part of our firepit. And, if that wasn't enough, the grill from an abandoned barbecue completes the picture.

So, Sunday night we had caribou steaks cooked over a wood-fire out back.

What a meal!

Now, before some anal type accuses me of advocating the mass visitation of the dump by area residents, people going there obviously need to keep safety in mind. Besides all the nails, metals and other items that can be dangerous, a certain four-legged beast is known to hang out at the dump -- bears.

A massive bear was feeding away at the dump just last weekend in fact. Local RCMP have now already received their first bear call of the season.

So, a trip to the dump should not be taken lightly.

However, I love my new firepit.

Thank you to Wayne Williams who was on the scene for the Drum in seconds last week when the warning siren sounded for a drill. The paper will be publishing some of the pictures he took. Speaking of pictures, Fort Liard's Leo Ehrenberg and Darrin Maidment, Trout Lake's Sharon Kotchea and Fort Simpson's Nick Sibbeston all submitted film recently.

I wanted to thank them publicly for taking the time to help out.