My Commitments to You
My record includes many achievements and I pledge to continue to work just as diligently, in the 18th Assembly.
I’ve spent my entire career working to make a difference for the people of the Northwest Territories, successfully advancing Territorial and Federal policies that have improved life and living conditions in the North.
My platform identifies opportunities and issues expressed to me by the constituents of Yellowknife South. I’ve thought long and hard about the next steps for our government and how to set priorities that are aligned with your interests. The following is a summary.
A Strong North through a Strong Economy
You want to know that prosperity, jobs and property values are secure for the long-term. I want that too.
Our diamond mines have been the engines of prosperity for a decade. They will begin to wind down over the next 8 to10 years. We need to enable other environmentally sustainable resource projects to fill the void. The Conference Board of Canada has identified eight new mine projects that it feels will come on stream over the next 10 years.
To make them a reality, and secure our own prosperity, we need to enable those projects and other investments to proceed. As we evolve, we have the authority to review and develop a “Made in the North” regulatory regime based on northern values and priorities and make those decisions on these investments. In the 18th Legislative Assembly, I’ll make “prosperity” one of my priorities.
Year after year, the Fraser Institute’s Global Survey of Mining Executives identifies our infrastructure deficit as a major impediment to investment in exploration and development. As a resource-based economy we need to make investments in public infrastructure that make the NWT a regarded investment destination.
Public infrastructure investments put people to work and at time when mining investments are “soft” it’s important for us to do our part to ensure jobs and prosperity. We have the strategies in place to move projects forward and with the increase in our debt cap we have the capacity to put more shovels in the ground.
I resolve that in the 18th Legislative Assembly, I’ll make “critical infrastructure” a priority.
Reducing Our Cost Of Living
Greater infrastructure is a key to reducing our cost of living. We started down that path in the last Assembly. By interconnecting communities through highways and better airports, we are helping to reduce transportation costs applied to essentials like food and drugs. We have momentum. We need to keep moving forward.
Another large expense for business and home owners is the cost of electricity. We are acutely aware of that fact which is why we invested in power rate subsidies to offset the cost of diesel generation for Yellowknife. It will take time and new capital investments to find alternatives to fossil fuels. In the meantime, we cannot let rates skyrocket because of low water levels at hydro plants. Subsidies aren’t the answer. However, they were the best answer at the time.
We can reduce our own cost of living by reducing electricity demand. You can replace lights in your home with compact fluorescents or LED’s. Or you could look at funding available from ENR for alternative energy projects at your home or business. These funds were implemented in the 16th Assembly and we are seeing very good outcomes.
We also need to convince our new Federal government to follow through on the election promise to increase the Federal Northern Resident Income Tax Deduction and index it to inflation so that it keeps up with Northerners needs. We need a high level discussion throughout the NWT about the impact of taxes on the cost of living.
In the 18th Legislative Assembly, I promise to continue initiatives that “reduce our cost of living” and reduce the migration of our northern population to the south.
Education and Opportunities for Youth
We’ve come a long over the past decade. We’re graduating more students than at any time in the history of the NWT. Over the past five years, we’ve invested hundreds of millions of dollars in new schools and school-based community infrastructure, like gymnasiums, and Aurora College has expanded its campus and student accommodations.
We’ve made these investments to ensure that all youth have the opportunity to get an education close to home. Through strategic alliances with southern universities we’re able to ensure at least the first few years of our children’s education can occur locally. It’s a source of pride for everyone.
The next step is jobs. There’s no shortage of jobs. The NWT Mine Training Society has successfully trained and placed more than 1,000 Aboriginal employees in our mining sector. Over the next five years, the sector will need 1,400 more skilled workers.
And there are never enough trained health care workers to meet the growing demand on our health care system. The future has never looked better for young job seekers in the Northwest Territories.
In the 18th Legislative Assembly, I will make “education and opportunities for youth” another one of my priorities.
We have Devolution”¦Now it’s “time to evolve”
If we are to evolve into an independent member of Confederation, we have to work together to secure full decision-making authority over the NWT’s future. There are differing positions on our evolution and I’ll work to bridge the gaps and bring about a new era of independence for the people of Yellowknife South and people across the NWT.
Devolution provided new employment opportunities in the NWT and resource revenues sharing will help reduce pressure on the debt cap that may limit our ability to forge ahead with new capital projects.
With Devolution in hand, we can begin to shape our own future on many other fronts. In the 18th Legislative Assembly, I’ll make the “evolution of a made in the north regulatory system” one of my priorities.
Taking Care of Those Who Paved The Way
We enjoy the lifestyle and much of our prosperity because those before us paved the way. I’m talking about our Senior Citizens and Elders. They represent a segment of society that has earned our support and respect.
I know that they’re concerned with the continuum of care, supplemental health benefits and future availability of seniors’ housing.
As we age, our care needs become more complex. Over the past several years, we have completed construction of a dementia centre and revisited agreements with housing and other service providers.
We don’t have the resources to fully implement an end-to-end continuum of care immediately. However, we can continue to bridge the gaps one step at a time just as we have in the housing continuum.
Supplemental health benefits help keep our Seniors and Elders healthy and living independently which is a cost-savings, relative to other forms of seniors’ care.
In the 18th Legislative Assembly, I pledge to make our “seniors’ care and continuum of health benefits” one of my top priorities.
Government Service Delivery
We have a dedicated civil service. As a government, we often expect them to go above and beyond, whether they’re in the health care field or processing capital expenditures. They always respond in the best interests of the NWT.
There’s always room for improvement. Simply talking to people – constituents and government employees – and bridging the gaps can achieve improvements. Over the past term we implemented a number of efficiency improvements that people across the NWT and our own employees recommended.
In the 18th Legislative Assembly, I’ll make “government service delivery improvements” one of my priorities.
Reducing Our Dependence on Fossil Fuels
Electricity powers our lives. From the first cup of coffee in the morning to lights out at the end of the day, electricity is not only important to how we live but also to how we make our living.
In the North, because of the long distances between communities, electricity is largely powered by diesel fuel. Even in Yellowknife, which is powered by hydro, the back-up system is diesel. All of this means we are exposed to global price volatility and we’re exposing our environment to greenhouse gas emissions.
Our energy and our environmental strategies over the past several years have included solar panels in Colville Lake, bio-fuel systems in large commercial applications, incentives for homeowners to go green, district heating systems in small communities and analysis of the NWT’s geo-thermal potential.
In reality, when it comes to the challenges of renewable and alternative energy in the North there is no single answer”¦no Silver Bullet. It will take a diverse portfolio of technologies to create an overall solution.
In the 18th Legislative Assembly, I pledge to find “alternatives to fossil fuels”.
It’s Time to take Back The Streets
Every jurisdiction in Canada is wrestling with the criminal element in our society, from family violence to drug trafficking.
We need to widen the “net” and stop crime at the street level. Our police force does an excellent job. However, they are stretched to the limit; dealing with everything from traffic accidents and household disturbances to criminal investigations. We need to get focused on taking back our streets in every NWT community.
In the 18th Legislative Assembly, I pledge to find a way to “take back our streets”.