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Candidates seek voter support in the Nahendeh
Both Menicoche and Norwegian agree more discussion needed on devolution

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, September 22, 2011

Constituents in the Nahendeh will choose between two candidates from Fort Simpson when they go to the polls on Oct. 3.

Incumbent Kevin Menicoche is seeking a third term while Bertha Norwegian is looking for her first seat in the legislative assembly.

Menicoche, 49, said he decided to run again, in part, because of the early support he received from residents and local leadership.

"I continue to enjoy the work I'm doing," he said.

Menicoche said the Nahendeh's transportation infrastructure is one of the key issues consistently raised by constituents.

If re-elected, Menicoche said his goal would be to continue the chipsealing of the Deh Cho trail and improvements on the Wrigley highway system.

Housing an issue for candidates

Housing is also a primary issue, he said. Menicoche said he would like to see the NWT Housing Corporation return to being a department of the territorial government.

The corporation is currently structured like a business.

If it was a government department, MLAs would be able to review it and have more input, he said.

Menicoche said he would also continue to lobby for an appeal system for the corporation. A lot of constituents are applying for housing but because they have previous arrears, which some dispute, they are ineligible.

Other areas of importance include education, youth opportunities and the delivery of health care.

Parents have a role to play but the education system still needs to be more responsive to children's needs, said Menicoche.

He added more training opportunities are also needed for older youth who drop out of school.

The health care system also needs to be more responsive to people so situations don't occur where patients are misdiagnosed after receiving only a cursory examination, he said.

On the issue of devolution, Menicoche said he would support the creation of an aboriginal devolution commission that would allow all aboriginal groups to examine the agreement-in-principle without having to agree to it.

The commission could be given a year to look at the agreement and then make recommendations on it, he said.

If elected, Menicoche said he would bring with him his experience from his previous two terms. During his first term, Menicoche served as the minister of the Department of Transportation and the chair of the Accountability and Oversight Committee. In his more recent term, Menicoche was the chair of the Government Operations Committee and the deputy-chair of the Rules and Procedures Committee.

Menicoche said he would also draw from his early terms on the Fort Simpson village council and Liidlii Kue First Nation's band council and his 17 years working for Enbridge Pipelines Inc.

Bertha Norwegian, 56, who's also from Fort Simpson, said she's wanted to run for MLA for many years. This is her second campaign. Her first attempt approximately 20 years ago was unsuccessful.

Norwegian said devolution is one of the most important issues for the people.

There needs to be more discussion across all levels, including aboriginal and Metis governments, about devolution, she said.

"There needs to be a real effort on behalf of the government of the Northwest Territories, in particular to establish a relationship with Dehcho First Nations," said Norwegian.

If elected, Norwegian said she would also fight to ensure the territory doesn't lose any of the money it currently receives through annual contribution agreements from the federal government.

The government might try to reduce that funding in light of the money the territory will be receiving through the devolution agreement.

The Nahendeh's economy is also a key issue for Norwegian.

"I really, really want to see development happen," she said.

"The region has been really stagnant."

If and when the Dehcho Process is finalized, it will open the doors for development. Norwegian said development has to occur in a responsible way so the environment is protected. If elected, Norwegian said she would push for the establishment of a trade centre in the region to provide training for trades and other occupations.

Housing is another important issue. More homes need to be built in the North, something the Deh Cho could benefit from because of its forestry resources and the sawmill in Jean Marie River, said Norwegian.

The NWT Housing Corporation's policies that link rent to income also need to be changed, she said.

Residents should be given at least a year after they secure a job to become financially stable before rents are increased slightly, Norwegian said.

Norwegian said she's also concerned for the future of young people around the ages of 16 to 30. That age group needs to be encouraged to get involved in what's happening in the North, she said.

"For their future, we need to see growth and they need to be part of that," said Norwegian.

Norwegian is currently semi-retired. She spent 16 years with the Department of Executive in Yellowknife as a senior manager and provided political advice and support to the minister responsible for the status of women.

For the last two years, Norwegian has served as an executive member of Dehcho First Nations.

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