Editorial page

Wednesday, February 23, 2000

A voice in the wilderness

Characterizing the reduction of city taxes as being on par with cutting the cost of toilet paper, as Councillor Ben McDonald did last week, invites rude comments we just won't make.

To further argue that last summer's tax revolt was "fabricated" shows McDonald's astounding contempt for ratepayers who, unlike the city, have no tax hiking remedy for their devalued properties.

Councillor Dave McCann is asking city departments to study ways to achieve a 10 per cent reduction in spending. For the most part, his council colleagues dismissed his suggestion as ill-conceived and ill-timed if not naive. Although fellow rookie councillor Alan Woytuik offers moral support, McCann is pretty much alone in his cost cutting crusade. The others simply aren't interested.

Nor were they interested a year ago when it was suggested to council they prepare for the awful possibility Giant mine may go bankrupt, throw hundreds of miners out of work and do damage to the city's tax base.

When the worst did happen, it was surprised faces all round. Council and mayor, horribly hamstrung in the area of independent thought, accepted administration's doomsday scenario of cutting critical services or raising taxes. Council may find themselves in a similar situation next summer if the worst happens with the territorial government budget.

Facing a deficit approaching $100 million, the territorial government may well find itself making its own cuts. A 10 per cent cut in the $7.5 million block funding the city expects would be a Giant size hit, larger if the government resorts to lay-offs.

We hope McCann perseveres in his attempt to bring some serious discussion of fiscal restraint to council and we hope he gets a fair hearing.

Considering the uncertainties of the coming year, some of council's plans for a pre-election tax cut may well turn into something far more unpleasant. They might want to remember recent history and adopt the valuable dictum: Hope for the best but expect the worst. Doing so now would be the best defence before an angry electorate.

A world champ

If the sport had been hockey or the 100-metre dash, Grant Beck would have been on

the front page of every daily in the country.

Beck, who has a long and successful career dog mushing, recently won the 2000 Pirena Stage Race, an arduous 640-kilometre odyssey through Spain's Pyrenees Mountains.

Add that to three second-place finishes in races through the Alps and innumerable victories across the North American continent and you have an athlete reminiscent of Cal Ripken Jr.

All that remains to be conquered by the indomitable Beck is that colossus of competitions, the Iditarod.

If mushers raced in an arena, we'd have a place to hang his jersey. As it is, we'll have to be content with cheering him on at next month's Dog Derby.

A true winner

The Elks Lodge 314 is clearly a winner when it comes to fund-raising for Stanton Regional Hospital.

Last week, the lodge handed over $25,000 to the Stanton Hospital Foundation. The money comes from the lodge's second annual Father's Day raffle offering a Harley Davidson Fat Boy as the first prize. The fact that, like last year, an early bird draw was held after all the tickets quickly sold out proves the lodge is on to something big. Not only will this year's winner, Nick Lawson, be able to sport a $28,000 bike, but the audiology unit and those who work in palliative care will have some additional funding to help improve our health care system.

Congratulations Elks and all the businesses that helped in this important fund-raiser.

Ramblings from the legislature
Editorial Comment
Darrell Greer
Kivalliq News

It's good to see the initial public response to the new Government of Nunavut logo has been overwhelmingly positive.

It seems like only yesterday complaints were skyrocketing around the Kivalliq about our "ugly" new flag and "strange" coat of arms.

While far too much importance seems to be put on how our territorial symbols look, rather than what they stand far -- it is good to hear the average person complementing the new logo, rather than complaining.

It is evident a great deal of thought was put into the logo and we thought Premier Paul Okalik did a wonderful job at its unveiling.

Of course, critics would be quick to say it's far easier to do a good job when you're selling something you truly believe in.

This might not have been entirely the case during Okalik's attempts at propping up public opinion over our new flag almost 11 months ago.

Elders and youth

It has also been good to see students and a number of our elders playing such a positive role in the legislative assembly's first Rankin sitting.

We still do not advocate the costs involved with bringing the assembly to Rankin, but while it is here, we may as well reap as many of the benefits our MLAs keep talking about as possible.

Lobbying woes

As good as the participation by our elders and youth has been to date, some of our lobby groups must be getting a little concerned over some of the hints being dropped by our MLAs.

A number of them have made it perfectly clear that a fair amount of their time in Rankin is dedicated to "celebrating" their presence.

They dare not infringe upon that time by conducting too much actual business, lest they face the outrage of the community.

Besides, as mentioned before in this space, they have a built-in safety valve for this trip courtesy of Finance Minister Kelvin Ng.

After all, there's no need to spend too much time listening to financial concerns.

The absence of any hard numbers from the upcoming territorial budget prevents them from taking any real action on behalf of community groups any way.

We're not knocking the hockey games, the volleyball matches, the funspiels or any of the other numerous events organizers have staged to help "celebrate" the assembly's arrival.

And while we could not in good conscience proclaim that the circus is in town (this time!), we are somewhat reminded of the showmanship adage, "If you can't dazzle them brains, baffle them with..."