Editorial page

Friday, October 22, 1999

Fun is over, work begins

Congratulations to all the candidates who ran in Wednesday's byelection for the seats on city council and the public school board.

It must seem a little crazy to have to go through the emotional rollercoaster of an election campaign, just to win the privilege of working long hours for low pay while suffering the slings and arrows of disgruntled voters, but that's democracy.

Now the work begins.

Both of the successful council candidates -- David McCann and Allan Woytuik -- campaigned on cutting taxes. And as Mayor Dave Lovell observed before the results of the plebiscite to borrow $1.5 million were known, the outcome would say what voters are thinking.

Voters said no but not to road repair. They said no to city hall borrowing more money and we can only hope the mayor and administration take heed.

The main hurdle facing McCann and Woytuik will be to survive the onslaught of arguments from other councillors when they suggest some real budget cutting has to occur.

The present councillors are well-educated, very competent people. The problem is many of their backgrounds are in public service of some kind where business principles such as cost-cutting in lean times are not part of their organization's mandate, instead they look for more "funding sources", dues or taxes. With the departure of Peggy Near and Dave Ramsay, the business experience on council is greatly diminished.

Councillors, led by Mayor Lovell, have ignored many cost-saving opportunities brought before them, ignored impending events such as the Giant bankruptcy, and have generally expressed no alarm at the city's high spending levels (over $30 million annually) and shrinking tax base.

The new councillors, if they stick to their election promises, will be under enormous pressure to conform to the spending habits of their colleagues.

The bottom line is the city has to curb spending. It can start now or after the next election but it will happen.

Fax follies

Public school ratepayers should give a tip of the hat to Bob Patterson for standing up for fiscal prudence.

Mr. Patterson is a trustee of Yellowknife Education District 1. He objected to a proposal that all school board members be provided with a personal fax machine.

The reasoning behind this extravagance was so that board members could receive confidential information.

If it is that serious an issue, perhaps the school board could look into purchasing shoe phones, or perhaps decoder rings.

At a time when funding is under close scrutiny, it is nothing short of irresponsible to think of spending board money so frivolously. We are thankful Mr. Patterson was keeping his eye on the ball.

Check it out

Yellowknife volunteers for the Canadian Cancer Society now out in full force in the community raising awareness on breast cancer have their work cut out for them.

According to the society, every 28 minutes a Canadian woman will be diagnosed with the disease. It is expected that in Canada almost 19,000 women will lose their lives to breast cancer by the end of the year.

Experts now know that it's only through early detection and regular examinations that this disease can be beaten. In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Yellowknife volunteers will have a booth set up next week in the Centre Square Mall where all the information you need will be on hand. This display is worth checking out. It may just help save your life or someone you love.

Get down to business
Editorial Comment
Daniel MacIsaac
Inuvik Drum

With luck, an agreement will soon be reached between the territory's teachers and the government. It's hard to imagine why there's been so much talk of job-action and why an overwhelming vote in support of job action was necessary at all.

The two Yellowknife boards settled their agreements last spring, just at the time of the government's budget debate and teacher representatives declared themselves content with what they'd achieved. Despite the government's talk of impending financial crisis, it's hard to imagine that legislators will offer teachers outside Yellowknife an inferior deal. Having said that, teachers in the regions shouldn't expect more than Yellowknife teachers received.

Where then lies the difficulty in signing a contract? Is the government saying it gave too much away to Yellowknife educators and can't match those two contracts in Inuvik and elsewhere? With both sides saying only so much and with teachers themselves keeping out of the debate, it's difficult to know. Regardless, let's just hope that the threat of a strike remains just that, a threat.

Meanwhile, both the government and the teachers' association should get down to the business of final negotiations.

Affirmative action

Catching a few minutes of the CBC Television show Made in Canada this week, I laughed as one character confused the concepts of affirmative action and positive thinking.

While the concept of affirmative action has come to represent something entirely different in modern society, I do feel the expression itself can certainly be aptly used to describe the job done so far this year by Carson Atkinson, the new principal of Samuel Hearne high school. A relative newcomer to Inuvik myself, I can't compare the work he's doing to that of his predecessors, but I have heard nothing but good things about his approach from both teachers and students alike.

I've also seen Atkinson's support for the student work-placement program and student elections to town council and heard his talk of nurturing school spirit. One man alone can't make Hearne a better place -- and I think the principal would be the first to admit that -- so it is hoped his colleagues and the town will continue to come together to help realize that goal.

What's in a name?

Yes, I am a relative newcomer to Inuvik. Three months in, I feel I'm slowly getting a handle on town issues, personalities, networks and relationships. Whether it's due to aging, information-overload or something else, however, I can still mix up people and positions and places of employment. So far, I've limited these errors to personal encounters and they've almost never appeared in print. So, I only ask that if you meet me on Mackenzie Road wearing a blank expression and scratching my head, just realize that I'm not lost -- I'm just trying to remember your name.

Little dogs lost
Editorial Comment
Derek Neary
Deh Cho Drum

It's always nice to hear about someone being reunited with a lost pet, as was the case for Jennifer Thistle last week. It accentuates the need to have a dog registered, collared and wearing tags. You just never know what might happen to your pet. Even if it's fenced in or tied up, dogs somehow manage to get loose now and then.

The encouraging part of this story is that an effort was made to find the dog. It was missed and the owner wanted returned. Unfortunately, that's not the case for many dogs that are roaming the streets in communities around the Deh Cho.

It's obvious that some haven't been fed, others shy away when approached because they have been beaten.

Some people may have heard about a mishap over the summer where a dog accidentally died in the Village of Fort Simpson's compound. Miscommunication was the explanation for the ill-fated incident. There were a few people who got wind of it and were outraged over the matter. There's no question it was tragic, but in the bigger picture, the incident was a symptom of a much larger problem.

The Village of Fort Simpson had hired someone to assist the bylaw officer in putting down dogs, but he quit earlier this year after 40-50 were destroyed, according to senior administrative officer Bruce Leclaire. Since then more dogs have been shot. A litter of 13 pups was killed earlier this week, Leclaire noted.

In Fort Providence and Fort Liard, flyers have been posted warning pet owners that unregistered, loose pets will be destroyed. Although we're not there to witness it, dogs are being shot and killed regularly. Without spectators to look on in horror as a neglected pet takes its last breath, there's not much of an outcry over some people's lack of responsibility.

As it has been said by municipal councillors, loose dogs could easily result in serious injury or the death of a child. Then there would justifiably be an uproar. The issue has to be dealt with one way or another. It's too bad the most effective means seems to be with bullets rather than with common sense and compassion on behalf of pet owners.

The veterinarian was in Fort Simpson last week. It was a prime opportunity for pet owners, especially those who keep them outdoors, to have their cats and dogs spayed or neutered. Those who don't bother are more likely to contribute to the problem than the solution. Even a restrained dog can be approached by a loose one, if it is not "fixed" the statistics on destroyed dogs will remain grim.

Thanks for the help

I owe a debt of gratitude to Jeffrey Nayally and Miranda Betsedea. They're both from Wrigley but attending Thomas Simpson school in Fort Simpson, so they were able to help me identify the people in the Fish Lake cultural camp photo spread. Thanks to you both.

Cadet program a benefit to all
Editorial Comment
Darrell Greer
Kivalliq News

It is simply wonderful to see a concerned and dedicated group of volunteers working diligently to revive the cadet program in Rankin Inlet.

The program fell into disarray and almost completely vanished after the tragic accident which claimed the life of Ed Burton.

The new instructors say they want to pick up where Burton left off and that is dedicating countless hours to help the development of local youth.

The cadet program does much more than just give a group of local kids somewhere to go for one night a week.

The program builds character, self-esteem and confidence in one's own abilities and undertakings.

It also builds a tremendous amount of understanding and respect for the concept of teamwork.

It instils the ability to confidently, and without a moment's hesitation, trust the person next to you to do his or her part.

Such is the feeling of camaraderie instilled by the cadet corps.

The program offers something else to its participants as well.

It offers a true sense of belonging, of being part of something special.

This is extremely important in the North, especially in our new territory.

Our kids have to be made to feel they have the same opportunities to shape their futures as their counterparts in the south.

They have to know they can go as far as their own hard work will take them.

With all these virtues behind it, perhaps the most important thing the Northern cadet program accomplishes is that it shows our youth there are many adults in the community who do care about the opportunities they are presented with.

It is, in many respects, another brick in the wall of our community structure.

The wall which encompasses our school teachers, our Guiders, religious leaders, the numerous people who give so willingly of their time to run minor hockey, baseball, soccer, volleyball, land skills, the list goes on and on.

The revival of our cadet program is an important development in our community and one for which its organizers should be applauded.

Programs which build character, confidence and self-esteem make our youth stronger.

And, anything that helps make our youth stronger, also helps make our future that much brighter as we march together into the dawning of the 21st century.