Long distance call
GNWT to lobby CRTC on NorthwesTel

Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Feb 25/00) - The government is calling for the federal regulators to give NWT telephone customers a better chance of voicing their opinions at upcoming long distance phone competition hearings.

At the urging of Frame Lake MLA Charles Dent, Transportation Minister Vince Steen agreed to call for part of the hearing to be held in Yellowknife. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is currently planning to hold two hearings to gather input into the proposed introduction of long distance competition in the North, both of them in Whitehorse.

There will be an opportunity for residents of Yellowknife and Iqaluit to participate in the first meeting, a regional consultation, by teleconference.

"It is unacceptable that the regulator, the CRTC, is only travelling to one centre for these important meetings," Dent told the legislative assembly Tuesday. "Residents of this territory should also have an opportunity to express their views to the commission face-to-face."

He later suggested the government should ask NorthwesTel for something more -- jobs.

"Given the size of their revenue base in the NWT, I don't think there's an equitable distribution of jobs, particularly high level jobs."

The Yellowknife MLA said NorthwesTel moved its legal and marketing divisions out of Yellowknife in the last few years. Dent said some of those jobs should be moved back to Yellowknife in return for the government's support for NorthwesTel's application for an operating subsidy.