NNSL Photo/Graphic

Home page text size buttonsbigger textsmall textText size Email this articleE-mail this page

Candidates weigh in

Daron Letts
Northern News Services
Monday, August 17, 2015

The prime minister's pledge in Hay River last week to chipseal Highway 5 if Canadians re-elect a Conservative government sounds familiar to NWT MP Dennis Bevington.

"Those that have been through a number of Stephen Harper's visits to the North over the years and heard his promises - we've seen many of the times they haven't been fulfilled," he said.

The $14 million Stephen Harper promised to use to hard-surface the highway, which runs through Wood Buffalo National Park, probably would be drawn from the $391 million allocated to Parks Canada over five years in the 2014 federal budget, a fund meant to upgrade roads, bridges, dams and other infrastructure, said the incumbent NDP candidate.

"That money has already been put into the budget," he said, adding he would "strongly advocate" for the Highway 5 improvements to proceed under an NDP government through the same existing federal parks infrastructure fund.

"During the last federal election we identified a need for an ongoing federal infrastructure program for the North and that's a direction we will take in the future. It's clear that those needs have been identified for a long time," he said.

The issue Bevington feels a prime minister visiting the North should be speaking about is the high cost of living and food insecurity, he said, describing the Conservative government's Nutrition North program as a failure.

Investment in renewable energy is also among the NDP's priorities for the North, he added.

Liberal candidate Michael McLeod, brother of NWT Premier Bob McLeod, said he was "disappointed" by the scope of the infrastructure announcement.

"Once again we hear and see Mr. Harper and the Conservatives withholding crucial resources for the North until it suits them," he said. "For many, many years the NWT has been underfunded in its infrastructure needs. Major areas of the transportation network have been totally ignored."

Liberal priorities would be dredging the Hay River harbour and refurbishment of the port, construction of an all-weather road to Whati and completing the more than $1 billion Mackenzie Valley Highway, he added.

"If we want to see the North move forward, we need to bring priority to these issues," he said.

The federal election is scheduled to be held on Oct. 19.

E-mailWe welcome your opinions. Click here to e-mail a letter to the editor.