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Hawkins, Hache head to head

Northern News Services
Published Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

The vote split has favored Robert Hawkins in the last two elections, but this time he's in it alone against Arlene Hache, a well-known social activist.

Hawkins got less than half of the 933 votes cast in 2007. If Hache can reach voters who marked their ballots for Ben McDonald and Sue Glowach, she stands a chance of posting the first upset in a city constituency since division.

It will be a test of organizations -- who can motivate and mobilize their vote. Hawkins hit the ground running. His blue on yellow signs command key intersections and he has been door-knocking throughout the constituency since the writ dropped.

Hache, executive director of the Centre for Northern Women, in her first campaign in more than a decade, is so far barely visible. Three issues loom large for her.

"Cuts will happen," she predicted.

"The last government left us with major debts that we'll have to come to grips with, the Deh Cho Bridge and Stanton Hospital. We will see the need to cut programs and services. It's important that there is someone there to see that there is a balance."

In Yellowknife Centre, "there are almost no services for newcomers to Canada and the territories. My priority is a welcome centre for newcomers with legal resources in Yellowknife for people who want to make a home here so they don't have to travel to Calgary to get proper services."

And number three: "The GNWT is not supporting immigrant doctors who could practice here; it makes no sense when we don't have enough doctors.

"There are a lot of issues, but at the end of the day the financial crunch is the top one," she said.

Hache said the "sad fact is people are encouraged to come, but once they get here they discover there are no services for them. There is just one immigration officer for NWT and Nunavut.

"There is one small settlement service through Aurora College, but it's closed in summer and at night and isn't well resourced. When we ran the welcome centre there were 219 families from 47 countries. The GNWT didn't support it."

In written replies to e-mailed questions, Hawkins said he is seeking a third term because "I love helping people and I enjoy the opportunity to be involved in the lives of others when they need someone to listen and help. It can truly be one of the most rewarding experiences."

The highlights of the last session, from Hawkins' perspective was

"the opportunity to assist people daily when they call me for help. And the significant capital investment in our city," including the downtown medical clinic, day shelter, dementia centre, investment at the airport and a new government data centre.

"As well, I'm pleased to see to the passage of the NWT Heritage Act; and the implementation of the distracted driving legislation," he wrote.

The issues for Yellowknife Centre and the territory in this election and for the next legislative assembly are "the cost of living, resolution of the devolution initiative, stimulating job opportunities, investment in addictions treatment, Stanton Hospital, Mildred Hall, École J. H. Sissons and Aurora College," he wrote.

Hawkins rated his performance as "very strong" and described himself as "a person who is very dedicated in resolving their concerns.

"I often hear from my constituents that I am very focused on their needs, believe strongly in accountability to constituents and that my community outreach is very important. At the end of the day what matters most is what constituents feel."

On consensus governance, Hawkins said "constituents have relentlessly told me that they want their government taking action on their needs rather than yelling at or tripping each other up."

Having voters elect a premier who would then choose the cabinet "would bring some much needed accountability to the people," Hawkins wrote.

"Changes like this can go a long way to improve our consensus governance style."

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