Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce – Vote Growth – Response

The Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce announced their Vote Growth, Territorial Campaign Platform. They asked each candidate to respond to their 5 key issues. These are my responses:

On the issue of Liquor: 

I will support improvements to the licensing process so applicants get clear complete answers more quickly. I do not support giving minors access to Class A liquor establishments.  Children do not benefit from being in that environment.  Parents have adequate access to alcohol.  Server Training information should not be a major problem to resolve.  Courses could be provided online or through Adult Education facilities. I am surprised it remains a problem.  The distribution issues are solvable.  It should not be a tedious job to identify specific issues and address them.  Businesses need to have a reliable supply to sustain their businesses.  Let’s get this resolved quickly.  Using the savings from closing the liquor warehouse, should not translate into lower liquor prices.  Alcohol consumption has never been a problem in the NWT.  Having resources to treat those who develop alcohol dependencies is a more worthy cause than lowering prices.  An appeal process for rejected licensing applications is not an unreasonable request.  As often is stated, a sober second thought can make a difference.  Careful work would be required to ensure an appeal process is efficient, timely and fair.

Internet/fibre redundancy: 

My business lost because of blackouts.  I have no problem in fighting to have a second system to protect not only businesses but emergency services.  However, I am not sure why we would only want to depend on Northwestel.  There could be other Northern businesses that could create the required infrastructure.  Maybe we have left too many eggs in one basket for too long.

Underfunding of Yellowknife:

The formula financing for municipalities needs to be equitable.  It is not.  It needs to be changed.  Government has created a huge gap that continues to grow annually throughout the North, with Yellowknife taking the biggest hit.  GNWT should use some of the projected $60 million operating surpluses to reduce this underfunding.  ( See MACA report, “Focus on the Future August 2019 page 14 ““the 2019-2020 operating surplus is projected at $60 million representing an increase in revenues greater than the increase in expenditures.” MACA admits government is failing to provide adequate funding but is not making the changes.  This can’t continue.  I have no problem to calling on government to “fix” this.

Land Transfer 

I am not convinced a total transfer of commissioners lands to the Municipality is necessary.  For example, work must be done on identifying a campus location for a Polytech Institute.  Sites need to be identified.  The Yellowknife Dene have not completed their claims negotiations.  If real reconciliation is to occur in this community then, in my view, land transfer decisions can only be completed with the involvement and support of the  Yellowknives Dene First Nation.

Polytech Institute in Yellowknife

I agree if a polytech institute is developed, its main campus must be in Yellowknife and it must have a “bricks and mortar” campus. I will strongly fight for whatever Post Secondary Institute is created to be completely independent from the GNWT.  Academic freedom is foundational for Post Secondary institutions.  I don’t think the focus should be on just bricks and mortar.   The offering of programs must be Northern focused, so our young people can acquire the skills to make our communities more vibrant.  I believe there also must be a multi-discipline fine arts program.  We can no longer afford to be deaf to the Arts.  Finally I will call for free tuition for all Northern students.

If you have any comments or questions about these issues, please feel free to contact me.

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