MLAs grill cabinet
Get to real issues: Miltenberger

Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Feb 23/00) - It wasn't exactly as exciting as closing time Saturday night at the Gold Range, but the restart of the legislative assembly was a far more feisty affair than many were expecting.

Regular MLAs wasted little time fulfilling their unofficial role as opposition, calling for work on the road to Rae, reassurances that the NWT welcomes mining investment, assistance to students looking for jobs, and a road to be built up the Mackenzie Valley in conjunction with a pipeline.

"Warm and fuzzy is good," Thebacha MLA Michael Miltenberger told the assembly.

"But bread and butter issues, jobs, layoffs -- people need to know about these things."

Miltenberger and Inuvik Boot Lake MLA Floyd Roland called upon the government to make known its plans for dealing with the looming prospect of the territories reaching its $300 million debt limit.

Though the financial crunch got a mention, Premier Stephen Kakfwi's opening speech for the second session focused on improving the social well-being of the territories.

Outlining the results of a planning session of all MLAs in Fort Providence earlier this month, Kakfwi detailed the government's priorities for the remainder of this term and vision for the next 10 years.

The carefully-worded goals for this term include:

  • building on a foundation of stronger individuals, families and communities
  • balancing development of resources with social and local economic development
  • protecting the environment
  • being financially responsible
  • spending less time on studies and more on making and implementing decisions
  • making sure governments at all levels in the North are open and accountable

The premier was far more specific when he spoke of the government's commitment to the social betterment of the North and offered a series of goals.

Kakfwi said he wants to see a reduction in the number of assaults on women each year, fewer offenders and repeat offenders in each community, increased number of high school graduates and elders who get more support from their communities and are able to live independently longer.

The most critical element in reducing the North's social woes will be a solid foundation for future self government models at the community and regional level, the premier added.