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MLAs slammed for missing meeting
Public invited to talk devolution but only two of five politicians show up

Laura Busch
Northern News Services
Published Friday, May 10, 2013

Three city MLAs were criticized by residents Tuesday for not attending a public meeting they sponsored to talk about devolution.

About 40 Yellowknife residents gathered at the Northern Frontier Visitors Centre to have their say about the government's deal to take over management of lands and resources in the territory from the federal government.

Only two Yellowknife MLAs were present, although people were under the impression five MLAs would attend.

"I find it disappointing that the two who I understand (my concerns) are here," said resident Tasha Stephenson, alluding to the fact the two MLAs present are the only two who voted in favour of holding a public vote on the devolution deal.

"My MLA is Robert Hawkins," Stephenson told Yellowknifer.

"My disappointment was that I feel a lot of the MLAs don't necessarily have a good grasp on the bigger implications and if they had been here, they would have heard all these good questions being asked by people and maybe thought a bit more about some of the solutions suggested here tonight."

Weledeh MLA Bob Bromley and Frame Lake MLA Wendy Bisaro were at the meeting. Kam Lake MLA David Ramsay and Yellowknife Centre MLA Robert Hawkins were in Houston, Texas, at the Offshore Technology Conference while Range Lake MLA Daryl Dolynny was out of the country on a trip that was planned prior to the time the meeting date was set.

In a phone interview from Houston, Hawkins said he welcomes all feedback from his constituents.

For those who want more than an e-mail response or phone conversation, he said he is always willing to meet people in person. He also plans to hold a constituency meeting before the next session of the legislative assembly which could focus on devolution.

"There's still ample opportunity to have some good feedback and dialogue and one shouldn't think that two hours on a Tuesday night is the only opportunity," Hawkins said.

"The date was picked after work plans had already been made and there was an inability to adjust it, which affected three of us."

All five MLAs offered financial support for the meeting, Hawkins added.

Bromley said he and Bisaro invited all Yellowknife MLAs to be involved in the meeting, which they billed as a chance for open dialogue with the public on the deal.

"Ms. Bisaro and I decided to do this meeting and open it up to all of the Yellowknife MLAs to participate and, eventually, because we didn't hear, we had to set a date," he said, adding he places no fault on the three MLAs who sponsored the meeting but didn't come because their schedules had already been set.

However, it is unfortunate more could not attend, he said.

"It is an opportunity for MLAs to be accountable to the public, so I could understand where the public would be disappointed," Bromley said.

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