Senator Nick
Sibbeston considers constitution

Daniel MacIsaac
Northern News Services

NNSL (Oct 08/99) - Nick Sibbeston doesn't like his job as Canada's newest senator.

"I love it," he said last weekend. "I really enjoy the job."

nickSibbeston (left) certainly knows a thing or two about politics. Born in Fort Simpson some 55 years ago, he was first elected to the Northwest Territorial Council in 1970 and served in the legislative assembly from 1979 to 1991 -- including six years as a cabinet minister and two as premier.

Since that time, Sibbeston has worked as a justice specialist, an administrator with Deh Cho Health and Social Services, with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal and even as a cultural advisor for the television program North of 60.

But while in Inuvik last Saturday with the new Indian Affairs and Northern Development minister, Robert Nault, Sibbeston said he's still figuring out his role in the Senate.

"I've been to Ottawa and seen how the Senate works, met my colleagues and am hiring staff and finding a place to live -- and it's all very interesting," he said, "but I have yet to determine what through time will come to be my goal for the North in the Senate."

Sibbeston said he does know he won't be the "first line of fire" for Northern voters.

"People should still go through their MLAs and MP," he said, "and so I don't see myself dealing with everyday problems -- but more like helping the MLAs and MP get heard when they have a problem to deal with."

Sibbeston, a lawyer by training, said he also hopes to play a role in helping the new Northwest Territories settle its constitutional questions.

"One area in which I think I might be of help in the constitutional area -- because of my history and my legal experience in dealing with governments in the North ever since 1970 when we were an Ottawa-controlled type of government," he said. "I sometimes think that's a role I can play -- getting the different parties together."

Sibbeston said he also expects to be named to several committees when Parliament reconvenes next Tuesday, including the aboriginal affairs committee and any dealing with Northern issues.

He said that with the Senate sitting for approximately 100 days a year, he expects to spend half his time in Ottawa and the other half in Fort Simpson, where he and his wife, Karen, operate Bannock Bed & Breakfast.

A member of the Liberal Party, Sibbeston was appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Jean Chretien on Sept. 2.