Editorial page

Monday, October 4, 1999

Goodbye to government power

During the lively debate over more electoral seats for Yellowknife, there was much fear expressed of an unequal concentration of political power in the capital.

Population figures and the Canadian constitution overrode all objections and time will tell whether the worries over the potential abuse of power are well-founded or not.

However, the only force more desirable than political power is economic power and some NWT communities are taking control of their economic futures.

In Inuvik, the $43 million Ikhil natural gas project is not only providing jobs, but is expected to save Inuvik residents $20 to $25 million in energy costs over the 15-year life of the project.

The companies owned by Acho Dene Koe in Fort Liard are setting record employment and wage levels, due to Chevron's discovery of 12 to 18 billion cubic metres of natural gas and construction of a pipeline to ship it south.

While Yellowknife has been considered the main benefactor of diamond mine development, the Dogribs and Metis have struck very lucrative impact benefit agreements with BHP and Diavik.

Just last month, Diavik announced contracts for site development and maintenance contracts. Ndilo-based Ek'At1 Services Ltd. won a $4.6 million contract while Rae-based Tli Cho Logistics and its partner Atco Frontec Services won another worth $12.6 million. Earlier, Hay River based Northern Transportation Company Ltd. was awarded a $1.9 million to fabricate steel fuel tanks.

The point is, the old days of a government dominated economy are disappearing and resource and manufacturing are picking up the slack. With the level of aggressive business expertise developing outside of Yellowknife, aided by the certainty and capital that comes with resolved land claims, the balance of economic power is shifting. Government power just isn't what it used to be and hopefully will soon cease to be the dominant force it was.

We need a humane society

"A very sick twisted person killed my dog. God may forgive, I will not."

Those words appeared on a hand-written sign outside of David Stephen's Iqaluit home after his dog was slaughtered.

Known affectionately as Baby, the dog died when someone crushed her skull. Children, who regularly came to visit and pet Baby, discovered her lifeless body and reported it to officials.

While the killing is tragic and remains unsolved, it brings the seriousness of the situation light and will hopefully spur people to take action such as the local veterinary. Not only is Heather Priest disturbed by the incident, but she has spoken out about the amount of abuse and animal neglect she sees during her daily rounds of pet-care.

If enough Iqaluit residents pulled together and were willing to donate their time, energy and money, the formation of an organization to monitor the way people care for their animals could be a reality.

A Humane Society or an SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is exactly what we need.

If those people inclined to act cruelly towards animals thought someone might be watching them and would report their actions to the RCMP -- cruelty to animals is punishable under the Criminal Code -- perhaps we would see fewer maimed and murdered family pets.

While establishing such an organization wouldn't actually eliminate the problem, it may bring the behaviour of certain individuals to the attention of the officials. After all, just last month a federal report connected acts of cruelty against animals to assaults against humans.

At the very least, a branch of the SPCA might stop other animals from being beaten to death.

Life and death

Iqaluit's decision to implement a territory-wide emergency dispatch service is an idea long overdue, but in stalling the hiring of a bilingual dispatcher, council is putting lives at risk.

The town of Iqaluit currently has four dispatchers, but none of the four can speak Inuktitut.

In emergency situations, minutes and even seconds mean the difference between life and death.

Time lost tracking down a translator at any given hour could mean certain death to someone in an emergency situation.

If one life is lost through the language barrier, it will be too late to revisit this issue. Let's hope council acts before it's too late.

Crime wave

Some youth in Fort Good Hope are giving the term extra-curricular a bad name.

Two young offenders were charged after seven break and enters occurred when school was out for teachers meetings. Not only was merchandise stolen from several buildings, but the local day care's kitchen was completely ransacked.

Where's the community leadership? If the kids are out of school, it's up to the families and the community to ensure these kids have something to do.

The community now has two teenagers, aged 13 and 15, facing a total of 29 charges. As the saying goes, the kids aren't bad, it's what they do that is. Time to find them something else to do.

Border bigots

The recent decision by American border guards to refuse admission to Kiviuq and the Pelly Bay puppets illustrates the brick wall bureaucracy faced by many of our Northern artists.

Our skilled artisans working with narwhal tusk, seal skin or walrus ivory are forbidden from exhibiting or selling their art to Canada's biggest trading partner.

The U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act discriminates against our artists and the Canadian government should be lobbying provide a level playing field.

Northern artists are being recognised throughout the world. They need support from in order to market their work to the global village.