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4 Wednesday November 4 2015 The Northern Journal is an independent newspaper covering news and events in the western Arctic and northern Alberta. The Northern Journal is published weekly by Cascade Publishing Ltd. Printed at Star Press Inc. Wainwright AB. Publisher................................................................................. Don Jaque 867-872-3000 ext.21 Editor..................................................................................... Craig Gilbert 867-872-3000 ext.24 Reporter....................................................................... Dali Carmichael 867-872-3000 ext.25 Comptroller .......................................................Jessica Dell 867-872-3000 ext.20 Advertising........................................................................... 867-872-3000 ext. 26 Administration............................................Jeremy Turcotte 867-872-3000 ext.26 Production Manager ......................................Sandra Jaque 867-872-3000 ext.22 Graphics........................................................Paul Bannister 867-872-3000 ext.27 Letters to the Editor Policy The Northern Journal welcomes letters to the editor. Letters must be signed and include a phone number so the author can be veried. Names will be withheld on request in special circumstances where the reasons are determined to be valid. The Journal reserves the right to edit letters for length libel clarity and taste. Opinions expressed in letters and columns are not necessarily those of the publisher or editor. EDITORIAL Point of view 2013 CCNA BLUE RIBBON CANADIAN COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER AWARD 2013 C M C A AUDITED Advertising Deadlines Display ad deadline is Thursday at 400 p.m. Classied ad deadline is Thursday at 500 p.m. Email Subscription Rates Prices include GST. 47.25 in Fort Smith 52.50 elsewhere in Canada 105 in the USA overseas 164.30. The Northern Journal acknowledges the nancial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Periodical Fund CPF for our publishing activities. A tale of two roads and two distinct futures The economy is heading rapidly into a down cycle characterized by losses by businesses and soon tight government money and job cuts. The duties and priorities of the Northern governments are basically to caretake the land and encourage - but control - the con- text of resource development while optimiz- ing the quality of life for residents. Hope- fully while they are doing all that if they are good they can take measures to keep down the cost of living. The great challenge in developing Northern Canada magnied as it is by vast distances is the high cost of infrastructure which in- cludes airports roads power grids facilities and buildings of all kinds. There are gener- ally two kinds of infrastructure in the North that which services people and makes up or connects communities and the support sys- tems for industry. Sometimes the two com- bine but they can also be at odds. When the economy is doing well govern- ments are ush with cash and communities get roads schools and hospitals. When the economy slows and times become tough hospitals and schools are still needed but the size of the hospital may be downgraded or that sought-after gymnasium may be cut. Instead the priority becomes support for in- dustry. We are in the second scenario. The economy is heading rapidly into a down cycle characterized by losses by businesses and soon tight government money and job cuts. ThegovernmentoftheNorthwestTerritories has two massive infrastructure projects on the books. The Mackenzie Valley Highway has long been the priority - to connect com- munities from Fort Simpson to Inuvik bring- ing new opportunities to them while lowering their cost of living. The other massive proj- ect also with a price tag of tens of millions of dollars is running an all-weather road northeast of Yellowknife into the Slave Geo- logic Province eventually connecting to the Arctic coast. That one has long been a dream of the mining industry. In the last decade we have enjoyed a strong national and territorial economy. With money owing and especially given the discovery of extensive oil reserves in the Sahtu the Mackenzie Valley Highway has been the unchallenged priority. The plan to invest in enhancing the winter road to the mines - that one made famous by Ice Road Truckers - has had no traction. The recent has downturn changed all that. The talk now in government is that the newly-minted resource revenue sharing deal with the federal government is not doing the NWT government any good if there are no resource projects generating revenue. The best way to turn that around is to build a year-round road to the mines. It is said an all-weather road northeast of Yellowknife would extend the life of the dia- mond mines by as much as a decade. It would also bring access to new deposits of other kinds of ore. Year-round access dramatically reduces the cost of operating a mine which means marginal nds even in this time of low demand could become feasible. For a government staring at a dwindling bank ac- count that is compelling. The NWT Chamber of Commerce would love to have both roads but has historically said the extension of the Mackenzie High- way to strengthen community economies is the priority. The Chamber of Mines on the other hand lobbies routinely for a new road northeast of Yellowknife that would eventu- ally connect to a port on the Arctic coast al- lowing ore to be shipped to markets through the Northwest Passage. The territorial gov- ernment position has swung to and fro like a pendulum. Right now it is heading rapidly fro. Thanks to the crash in the price of oil and subsequent economic downturn the two options have quickly switched places. The voices of Mackenzie Valley MLAs promoting access to their communities has been muted by the motivation to encourage new mines and new revenue. Sorry people of the Mackenzie Valley the priority is now the faltering economy and you are just going to have to be patient for a de- cade or two longer. Sorry dwindling caribou herds that will feel further pressure from a year-round road and constant trafc crossing your migration route. The creation of wealth and jobs is the imperative. The NWT government must now nd will- ing industry partners and federal support to pay for that road to the mines. If and when a road is built the vast central heartland of Canadas North will be open for development mines will spin up and government coffers will gradually become full again. That could take a while. Demand for resources worldwide or the lack thereof is what is dictating all that something Northern residents have no con- trol over. We are caught in the sway of de- veloping economies like those of China and India which dictates what roads are built in the NWT. Like it or not much of our fu- ture direction is determined by that. We just have to gure out how to make the most of it. Syncrude employees came together to raise more than 2.1 million during the 2015 United Way Employee Campaign. The annual campaign supports the United Way in Fort McMurray Edmonton and Calgary. Pictured are campaign co-chairs Dave Evoy and Wanda Power cheering on the Bison during the Presidents Cup Hockey Challenge on Oct. 23. PhotocourtesyofSyncrude Editors note Last weeks Journal editorial wasonhowthe NWTsconsensusgovernment election process is a work in progress and the people should have a say in how it evolves. We suggested ways it could be improved - in par- ticular to incorporate a way the new govern- mentischallengedasisdoneinpartypolitics forcingtherenementofitsplatformsandpoli- ciesespeciallyinthewaythepremieriselected. Wesuggestedthatwouldinvigoratetheprocess and involve the public more. Wereceivedthefollowinginformationfrom anauthorityontheNWTelectionprocess who did not want their name attributed. It points out aws in the information in the editorial. This is directly quoted The process to select a premier allows for each candidate to make a 20-minute speech to theAssemblyinpublic.Itisthenfollowedbyan extensivequestionandanswerperiodwhereeach MLAisentitledtoaskeachcandidateuptothree questions.Thisisnotperfectbutitdoescontrast what you describe as the complete lack of pro- cess in your article. I may be nave but I would wager that back-room deal-making is a part of every democratic system even the federal one. NowhereinCanadaisthepremierorprime ministerelecteddirectlybythepeople.Thatmay often be the reason why people cast their vote but not necessarily the only one. Neither Jus- tin Trudeau nor Stephen Harpers names were on the ballot that you cast Oct. 19. A process wherebytheheadoftheexecutivebranchofgov- ernmentiselecteddirectlybythepeoplee.g.the United States or France is not a nuance. It is a completeshiftawayfromthesystemofrespon- sible government which has existed in Canada since Confederation. Im not suggesting it is better or worse. To suggest that it is a potential improvementtooursystemisanextremeun- derstatement.Presidentialsystemshavechecks balances and separation of powers that simply do not exist in the British model. These could be developed but they are signicant changes toourdemocraticinstitutionsnotadaptations. The premier does not select the cabinet as yourarticlesuggests.MembersoftheExecutive CouncilareappointedbytheLegislativeAssem- bly and directly accountable to it. The premier getsonevoteliketheremainingmembersand cannot shufe MLAs into or out of cabinet on hisherowninitiative.Icontendthatoneofthe things rejected by Canadians in the recent fed- eral election was the centralization of power in theprimeministersofce.Havingthepremier electeddirectlyandgivinghimherthepowerto select their own cabinet would certainly move us in that direction. Conversely it could result inagenuinetypeofpoliticalinertiathatplagues the US when its executive branch is separate from and out of step with its legislative branch. Theproposedprioritysettingprocessisnot quitewhatyousuggest.Priortothecabinetpre- senting the Assembly with a draft plan there are a number of important steps. The rst is a full-day round table discussion by all 19 MLAs on what the priorities should be. This has hap- pened in the past but this will be the rst time that it will be open to the public televised and transcribedinHansard. Onewouldassumethat each member will bring to the table what he or she heard at the doorstep during the election. Secondlytherewillbeafulldayofconsultations with aboriginal and community government leaders on the proposed priorities. Thirdly the proposed process involves a structured mid- termreviewwhichhasnotoccurredinthepast. Finally by taking the pen on the drafting it is argued that cabinet will propose a plan that is both achievable and meaningful. Past plans have been so watered down that they have not served as effective political our accountability instruments. Lastly the NWT does have a constitution. Not only is it governed by the constitution of Canada and the Charter but its basic authori- tiesandstructurearelaidoutinboththeNWT ActCanadaandtheLegislativeAssemblyand Executive Council Act NWT. These laws do not go into ne detail about how priorities are setoracabinetappointed.Muchofthisaswith thefederalgovernmentandprovincesisleftto customandpracticeasopposedtoconstitutional entrenchment. Clearing the air on consensus