Monday, February 16, 2009

Last Days In Yellowknife

My final days in Yellowknife were prety good. I ended up teaching Aquafit five nights in a row and think that I might try some classes in Niagara. I finished all my lessons and took care of the paperwork. As I left City Hall, two RCMP officers were blocking 50th street. Looking down the street I could see a lot of smoke and just saw Engine 8 (a Quint) pull up to the parking lot of the Pre-Cambrian building. A car had caught fire because it had a space heater, block heater and battery blanket all plugged into an inferior extension cord. It was great to see the YKFD put out the fire. I took a walk downtown and then spent rest of Friday packing as was Saturday morning.

Saturday afternoon I arranged to go dog sledding with Beck's Kennels 

I took the two hour tour and was paired up with Helen Hu from Calgary and five dogs. I was told to stand on the skis and use the brake if I needed too. Then we were off... (Jenelle and Devin - from Buffalo Airways were also out that day with the film crew)

We headed onto Kam Lake and then onto Grace Lake. We went for about 40 minutes then arrived at a framed tent with a wood stove to warm up for about 30 minutes then changed positions as I became the passenger and Helen the driver.

I came back to Ian's cold but having had probably a 'once in a lifetime' opportunity.

Ian and Michele had Gord and Nadia over for dinner (the guys cooked steaks) and then we played a game of Risk before heading to bed.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Thoughts and prayers go out to the famlies of the Continential flight

I was on my way back from work a few minutes ago and learned that a Continental (Q400) Dash-8 crashed in Clarence Center (near Buffalo) This is about 3 miles from the "Big Blue Water Tower" for those of you who know Erie County. 

I am deeply shocked and saddened to learn about this as the plane was only a few miles from landing at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport. I know that the firefghters in Erie County are some of the best in the country. I hope that they stay safe on the scene. They have set up a unified command system and have evacuated about 12 homes in the area. 2 people from the ground were transported to Millard Fillmore suburban hospital. This is an ongoing event. 

The area where this happened is just down the road from the Clarence Center Volunteer Fire Company. Here is their website.

Here are some early links to storys about this:

audio from ATC -- @ 20min40sec

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

No No No No Not Again

'No, no, no, no, not again!'

About a week ago I was criticising the engineering deparment about Merritt Street in Thorold. see FRIDAY, JANUARY 30, 2009

Merv Hardie ferry closes for the season / Merritt Street car vs. ambulance

Well guess what another traffic mishap and for this woman in the story twice in a year. I bet she feels like the Air Boss in Top Gun who gets coffee spilled on him when Maverick flies by.

To the road engineers --> curbs, guard rails, medians, new speed limit

To the police --> targeted enforcement on this road

Here is the article from the Standard

No, no, no, no, not again!'


Updated 4 hours ago

Jean Keyes has a problem with strangers parking in her house.

You read that right. Inside the building, usually in the living room.
It happened for the second time in less than a year early Tuesday morning, when a Pontiac Sunfire driver lost control on a curve and smashed through the front of her home at 84 Merritt St.

"I heard the bang, but I still couldn't believe it at first," said Keyes, who lives in the back of the home but rents out the much-abused front apartment. "I just started saying, 'No. No, no, no, not again! Then I started to cry."

Last March, it was a Cadillac that crashed into the living room of the one-bedroom apartment. Different car; same parking spot. Keyes said her male tenant was shaken but unhurt by the 3 a. m. collision. She's not sure whether he'll stay, however. "After the last time, I told everyone not to worry. I've been here for 25 years; it won't happen again. Now what do I say?"
Keyes figures she's on a "bad corner."

Her siding-covered bungalow sits on the escarpment near the top of the Merritt Street hill, close to Ball Avenue East.

Northbound cars and trucks routinely speed down the slightly curved hill, neighbours said.

Not all of them stay on the road. "Some of them don't slow down," said Tom Hillier, a neighbour for 21 years. "We've had more than one accident on this hill."

Hillier remembers a motorcycle collision just downhill from Keyes' home and a fatal car crash near the intersection. And last year's spectacular flying home invasion, of course.

"That one was worse," said Bill McMenemy, now an expert on crash landings in the building.
McMenemy works for Greg Miller Restoration, which is rebuilding Keyes' front apartment for the second time. The original house-crasher actually jumped a guardrail, became airborne and bulled its way completely inside the building.

The latest unwelcome visitor only managed partial entry, said the contractor.

"It's still pretty awful, though," he said, gazing at the mangled white siding, snapped wooden studs and overturned couch. "I thought we rebuilt it twice as strong the first time. Now maybe we're going to have to put in 12- inch blocks or something."

The latest crash caused an estimated $50,000 in damage, but Keyes said repairs from both crashes are covered by insurance.

That doesn't mean she's content to continue living in a vehicular backstop.

A curving metal guardrail on Merritt Street protects the front of Keyes' house, and some of the side. The original crashing car mangled part of the protective fence, and Keyes believes the city shortened it during repairs.

"We need a better guardrail, and a bigger one," she said. "Something needs to be done. This is just ridiculous." Kris Jacobson, the city's manager of transportation services, said the guardrail was fixed last year, but he doesn't know if it was shortened.
He does know the city will investigate the safety of that section of Merritt Street.
"We're going to review it and see if there's anything we can do," he said. "A house is struck twice in a year? Obviously it's a concern for us."
The driver of the crashed car was taken to hospital and treated for a cut to his face.

Thorold resident James Parks, 27, is charged with impaired driving.

Article ID# 1430236

More snow in Yellowknife

Well the snow was flying again today. Partly because we (Alex Young and I) were kicking it up from our tracks as we blazed across the lakes and because it was warm in the mid twenties, notice that we don't use negative before the number because everyone here knows it is winter. Warm weather = clouds and snow here. Clear and Cold is the rest of the weather.

Today I headed out "sledding" departing from the Thompson Tower downtown we headed out onto Great Slave Lake and over to Air Tindi's ( float base (in the winter I guess it is called the ski base) where I was able to check out one of their Twin Otter's which was on ski's outside of the base. (

Unfortunately the camera I had with me didn't have enough power in the cold to snap any photos. You might remember that it was two (2) twin otters on April 24-25, 2001 that made the medical evacuation to the Amudnsen-Scott South Pole research station  (the only winter landing) 

We then went under the Latham Island bridge and behind the Niven Road Subdivision before crossing the highway near the legislature and onto Frame Lake. We sped past downtown and the pool and went under Old Airport Road to the Co-Op gas station for some fuel. We then went past the airport over to Fred Henne Territorial Park ( and Long Lake. This is where "Folk on the Rocks" takes place and is where my brother used to camp out.

We then headed back to Great Slave Lake and went around Latham Island/Ndilo (pronounced Dee-low) Heading back we were able to take a look at the Snow King Castle being built and the crossed the "Ice Road" to Dettah  

Thanks Alex for a great morning. After putting away the sleds, I headed off to work where I took a couple of minutes to warm up in the hot tub and then guarded the pool for Sir John Franklin and then taught lessons for three hours, followed by aquafit (3rd night in a row) and then guarding again. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Some random Yellowknife trivia

To get a background into Yellowknife 
check out this video

I thought while I am up here in Yellowknife I would share some triva and fun facts with you.

1.) Tim Horton's store #603, its most northern store, in YellowknifeNorthwest Territories, recently earned the honour of top sales in the chain for 2007-2008. According to co-owner Greg Barton, the store handles around 2900 Yellowknifers per day.

2.) Yellowknife is approximately 400 km (250 mi) south of the Arctic Circle

3.)Of the eleven official languages of the Northwest Territories, five are spoken in significant numbers in Yellowknife: Dene SulineDogribSouth and North SlaveyEnglish, and French.

4.) Yellowknife is represented in the territorial government by seven of the 19 Members of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories (MLAs).

5.) Government employment accounts for 7,644 jobs, a large percentage of those in Yellowknife (of 18,700) 

6.) Yellowknife has a frost-free growing season that averages slightly over 100 days

7.) In Yellowknife, the population is slightly disproportionate in terms of age distribution compared to the national average; the average age is 31.2, compared to a Canada-wide average of 39.5

8.) The Gold Range Bar, one of the oldest and most colorful drinking establishments in the Northwest Territories and featured in Mordecai Richler's novel Solomon Gursky Was Here)

9.) Margot Kidder, film and television actress best known for playing Lois Lane in the Superman movies of the 1970s and 1980s was born in Yellowknife in 1948.

10.) Yellowknife, calls itself the "Diamond Capital of North America" and has a motto of “Where a Golden History Meets a Brilliant Future.”

11.) A world-renowned viewing destination, almost 10,000 Japanese tourists flock to Yellowknife each year to see the Aurora Borealis wash across the sky

12.) The Canadian North Midnight Sun Golf Tournament, played on the weekend with the longest daylight hours of summer tees off at midnight

13.) The northern most McDonalds, KFC and A&W are located here.

14.) The Wildcat Cafe bult in1937 and saved from demolition is one of the city's most popular tourist attractions.

15.) Yellowknife's 75th Anniversary Homecoming is this year. It will be celebrated June 19 to July 4, 2009!!

"Celebration events hosted by the community will include displays, tours, tournaments, festivals, dinners, dances, breakfasts, a fishing derby, parades, talent shows, races, performances...and lots more to be announced. Whether you are young or old, local or visiting we look forward to sharing with you our memorable past, our dynamic present and our bright future."

16.) value of the gold mined from Yellowknife works out to be around $6,000,000,000 in todays dollars


Monday, February 9, 2009

Audio from FDNY from the Hudson River plane crash

Some of you will remember that before moving up here to Yellowknife I applied to two different dispatching jobs in Niagara, one with the Parks Police the other with the NF Fire Department. 

Here is the audio from the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) for the plane crash into the Hudson River.

As Chief Billy Goldfetter says, "Dispatchers are the "first responders"...often well aware of "what we have" before we know we are even going out the door." And, like firefighters, hiring the right folks, training them and providing them with support and supervision can make or break an incident. Sometimes it can make headlines. A Fire dispatch center (or a "911" dispatch center that provides fire dispatch services along with PD and EMS) without strong leadership and aggressive initial and on-going training can be the weakest link. The training of, or the failure to properly train and supervise dispatchers is a critical factor in the entire scope of a FD providing service.
Firefighters also have to have a true understanding of what "the dispatchers" go thru...we can't do that just by listening - some time spent at the dispatch center can be a huge help in understanding. Equally, some time by dispatchers responding on runs in the field with FD units is equally a big deal. Both "sides' training on what "the other" goes thru can pay off big time.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Floyd and the boys live to see another day

Floyd and his cabinet live to see another day.

Here in the NWT the government almost fell. 10-8 with the speaker speaking to the motion but not voting it. That means that  44% of the elected MLA's were against the government (8/18) It was a good thing that all of the cabinet was there to vote. 

Premier Roland just served a three game suspension in the Yellowknife Hockey League and the Sargent-at-Arms was ready to break up any brawls. You'll see that there are boards and glass set up and the wrestling mat is the bear skin rug.  

I've heard the Legislature called the NWT Spaceship before and here is a blog which explains the bulding and it's history.

Next up if the vote on the budget. We'll see how that goes.

N.W.T. Premier Floyd Roland survives non-confidence motion in legislature

YELLOWKNIFE — A humbled premier of the Northwest Territories promised a more conciliatory government after surviving a non-confidence vote Friday that could have seen him and his entire cabinet booted from office.

The motion, which was defeated 10-8, had been tabled by disgruntled politicians who said they had been treated badly.

Floyd Roland and his cabinet can now get back to the business of passing the budget, which was introduced Thursday.

"I think the message is before us," said the premier as he addressed the legislature before the vote. "We have to change the way we do business and I'm prepared to make the change."

The upheaval in the territorial legislature came two months after the Canadian government nearly fell to a coalition of opposition parties.

Under the rules of the N.W.T.'s consensus-style government, the premier and cabinet are chosen by all the members of the legislature after every general election. They may be dismissed at any time in a similar vote.

The motion was originally tabled Wednesday by Hay River South MLA Jane Groenewegen, the day before the government introduced its budget. Groenewegen, who leads the caucus of MLAs who aren't in cabinet, said those members felt the executive was withholding information from them and not including them in policy formation.

Groenewegen refused to back down despite sensing the vote wasn't going her way.

"I think the solution for this problem is for the premier to resign and let someone else take over the job," she told the house.

The vote came after impassioned and soul-searching speeches from all 19 members of the legislature about how to deal with the divisions that have plagued this assembly. The Speaker also spoke to the motion, but did not vote.

"We simply can't afford to continue to operate in this fashion," said Justice Minister Jackson Lafferty. "We simply cannot be changing leadership every time we get pissed off at one or two ministers."

Transportation Minister Michael McLeod told the house that the future of consensus government could be at stake.

"When it works, it works well," he said. "But when people don't respect it, it won't work at all. We're starting to see our consensus-style of government brought to a standstill."

But a long string of perceived slights were tough for some of the legislature members to forgive.

Groenewegen has accused the cabinet of misleading the house over contracts for a $155-million bridge across the Mackenzie River.

Roland, elected as premier in October 2007, initially told Groenewegen that the government's only financial exposure was a $9-million loan guarantee. It later emerged that the territory could be on the hook for much more if toll revenues for the bridge don't meet projections. That prospect is becoming more likely as cooling commodity markets slow northern industrial traffic.

Members also said the government didn't consult with them over plans to cut the civil service, restructure health and education boards and reduce health benefits to seniors. Members learned about the plans from their constituents, Groenewegen said.

Members also have concerns about a $34-million bailout to N.W.T.-based Discovery Air.

Many northerners expressed strong concerns about creating more turmoil and uncertainty at a time when the floundering economy seems to be creating plenty of both. The N.W.T. Chamber of Commerce urged members to vote to support the government.

Jacobson was one of several members who described the number of calls, including some at 2 a.m., he received from constituents urging him to stand up for Roland and his cabinet. He may have summed up the mood of the house when he said he'd vote against the motion, despite his disregard for the premier and cabinet.

"Notice has been given. You guys better start doing your jobs and serving the people. I'm giving you guys one more chance."

Last December, the federal Liberals and New Democrats banded together and threatened to bring down Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government over measures contained in the fall fiscal update. Harper avoided a non-confidence vote when he persuaded the Governor General to prorogue Parliament. The coalition dissolved when the Conservatives came back after the session resumed last week and brought in a spending-rich budget.

Former N.W.T. premier Stephen Kakfwi also faced non-confidence motions in 2001 and 2002. Roland was the only member to vote in favour of removing Kakfwi in the 2001 vote, saying he he had grown too arrogant.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Videos of the NWT from Ice Road Truckers

These videos will give you a good idea 
of what Yellowknife is all about. 

Please have a look.

is coming to the History Television in Canada 

March 4th at 9pm ET/PT

During the harsh winter of Canada's Northwest Territory, remote villages and work camps are cut off from the world. To keep them supplied, a tenacious group of long-haul truckers drive their rigs over hundreds of miles on ice roads cut across the surface of frozen lakes. Sometimes the ice cannot support the heavy rig, and driver and cargo plunge through the ice and sink to the bottom. Hitch a risky ride along with the Ice Road Truckers as they drive headlong into bone-chilling danger.

"That – now that – would be an adventure."

Here is an article from the Toronto Star about the Ice Road heading out of Yellowknife up to the diamond mines. Nuna Logistics is located about a five minute walk from where I am living.

Driving with the ice road truckers

Driving an ice road through Canada's chilly Barren Lands is for hardy truckers – and the birds


Feb 06, 2009

LOCKHART LAKE, N.W.T.–The sky is as white as the ground as we drive across the lake ice. Short trees dot the shallow hills along the shoreline while the distance rolls by. Then suddenly, the window fills with black.

PHOTOS: Ice road odyssey

A raven, as long as my arm, flies alongside, so close it can be touched, looking at us in the Jeep.

"The truckers feed them, you know," says Pat McCloskey, riding shotgun in the passenger seat. "The birds will take bread right from their hands at 30 km/h."

It's forbidden, though. "Feeding wildlife while operating/travelling on or near the Winter Road is strictly prohibited," states the rule book. "Penalty, First Offence: Banned from the Winter Road."

There are many, many rules that truckers must adhere to if they want to be flown up here to earn $500 a day, plus all food and expenses. They haul supplies north from Yellowknife to the three diamond mines of the Northwest Territories, but just for the two months each year that the 400-kilometre ice road exists across the frozen lakes of the Barren Lands.

McCloskey, director of community and corporate affairs for Diavik Diamond Mines, hands over the rule book:

No speeding on the ice. Limits are no more than 35 km/h, and down to 15 km/h in some places, even 10 km/h entering and leaving the portages between lakes. Any faster sends a wave of water under the frozen surface that can build with speed and blow the ice, sending a truck down.

No stopping or parking on the ice. Concentrated weight and heat from the truck will damage the ice, perhaps even melting it past its ability to support a 60-tonne truck and load.

No messing about on the ice. Trucks travel in convoys of three and four, spaced half a kilometre apart. All drivers carry survival kits to cope with temperatures that routinely drop below —40C.

And last year, there was a new rule: No media cameras in or attached to the trucks, and no transportation of media personnel. The Winter Road Joint Venture organizers were fed up with the Ice Road Truckers.

"I don't know what I'm doing now," says Alex Debogorski, one of the stars of the cult TV show's two seasons. "They say they want to film a third season but they haven't called me yet. And now I'm losing money because I could be out there driving the Road."

And then he laughs, a deep, rolling laugh, a laugh now recognized in more than two dozen countries and so popular that it can be downloaded as a ring tone. A laugh heard by 3.4 million people in the U.S. alone when Ice Road Truckers became the History Channel's highest-rated show ever.

And it's a laugh that will be heard across Canada next month, when the series' first season debuts March 4 on History Television.

"When it airs in Canada, I have a little bit of trepidation about what's going to come out of the woodwork," says Debogorski, 56, born in Grande Cache, Alta., but a Yellowknife resident since 1976.

"This movie thing has put a twist in my life – things just aren't the same anymore."

Debogorski gets mail from around the world from people who send him warm underwear, bottles of Jack Daniel's whisky, you name it. On the show, he's the religious one, a devout Catholic with 11 children and nine grandchildren.

In the summertime, tourists stop by his house to meet him, and all year long, truckers call to find out how they can get jobs on the ice road. After all, it was Debogorski's photo in last year's People magazine that proclaimed Ice Road Truckers to be "TV's Hottest Manly Men."

Ice Road Truckers is a reality series to its fans and a docu-soap to its critics. In the first season, half a dozen truckers are followed risking their lives on the ice. It's a daylong crawl to the farthest mine — it used to be 600 km, a day and a half, before a more distant mine closed down — and the show plays up the danger for all it's worth.

Every week, the heroic drivers brave whiteouts and bitter wind chill to survive the haul. Every week, the same footage is replayed of a transport truck breaking through the ice to a frigid, watery grave.

But whiteouts are less dangerous at 15 km/h, and the truck cabs are generally warm. Dispatchers along the way close the road if it's deemed too dangerous by the security crews who patrol constantly.

And the crashing truck? It's a one-sixth scale model, four metres long, being pulled through a snowy scene that's made from sugar and shaved ice. It was filmed in California by "some of Hollywood's greatest special effects masters," according to the series' DVD. After all, transport trucks don't crash through the ice anymore.

"As long as you drive within the rules, it's about impossible to wreck," says Debogorski. "For me, it isn't dangerous. In fact it's boring, but TV's got to make something out of all these truckers doing 15 mph on the ice."

One of the longest lake crossings, says McCloskey, is called "Two Movie Lake" by the drivers, because they have time to watch two movies on dash-mounted DVD players as they plod slowly north. The scenery is monotonous and usually dark, and even the magical Northern Lights on a clear night seem routine by the 10th long haul.

Out on frozen Gordon Lake, we pull up in the Jeep Grand Cherokee to a pair of ice inspectors, dragging a radar monitor behind them to measure the ice depth.

"Ice Road Truckers! That fairy tale?" says Paul Nobert of Kamloops, who comes here each winter to work for Nuna Logistics, the road's constructor.

"You watch that show and you think the ice will give way any moment, but I'll tell you – when the ice is three-foot thick, it's not giving way."

The ice does crack under the weight of the big rigs, but this is a good thing. As anyone here will tell you, ice is a flexible membrane across the top of the lake's water, and it will bend under load. Cracking means it's healing itself as the weight passes over. No cracking means the ice is too soft – not strong enough.

In fact, the most dangerous time on the ice is at the beginning of construction season, usually early December, when the road first takes shape. Helicopters fly overhead and measure the ice depth, and once there's a consistent 12 inches of ice – that's 30 cm, but ice is measured in inches up here – Hagland vehicles, tracked and buoyant, head out onto the portages to compress the snow and help the ground to freeze.

At 16 inches, Sno-Cats go onto the ice to clear away the insulating snow. The road is flooded to create ice on the surface and help increase the depth. People and equipment do go through the ice at this time; every several years, somebody is lost. A plate of ice will break away and tip the vehicle into the open water, bobbing back into place afterwards and preventing escape from below. The shock of the cold is swift to kill.

The truckers, however, see nothing of this. By 29 inches, the first lightly loaded transport trucks can head out; this season, it opened last Sunday, the first day of February.

The most fragile area of ice is close to the shoreline, where it is warmest and thinnest. Sometimes, especially if the truck has been travelling too quickly, an axle will break through; the driver leaps from the truck and waits inside the cab of another in the convoy for rescue, and the tow truck will wait for the ice to freeze again properly before lifting the transport out.

The ice gains thickness at about an inch every couple of days. Once there's a minimum of 42 inches of ice, measured in the centre and at each edge of the 50 metre-wide roadway, it can carry whatever load the trucks can haul.

"The days of just driving and stopping and saying 'Gee, the ice looks good here,' are long gone," says Erik Madsen, director of Winter Road operations.

"With this road, safety comes first all the time, and Ice Road Truckers just made a mockery of everything we do."

By the end of the two-month season, the ice can be more than 60 inches thick. The road closes because the snow melts on the land and turns the road to gumbo, not because the lakes can't bear the weight.

We press on north to the rest point at Lockhart Lake, 300 km northeast of Yellowknife and right on the edge of the treeless Barrens, where we'll check on the facility, eat lunch and then turn back for home before the short day finally fades. Our Jeep and a GMC Sierra pickup from the maintenance fleet pass the crawling trucks with ease, though swirling snow cuts visibility and slows our speed. Light vehicles have a speed limit of 80 km/h.

The ice is the best part of the drive, smooth and flat, sticky as pavement in the cold. The portages between lakes are bumpy and jarring, sometimes a steep ascent off the ice for which trucks must build speed to conquer. The radio crackles with conversation among the drivers.

"Welcome back to the ice road," says one trucker to another in his convoy, touching his tires to the ice for the first time this lucrative season. "Up here, there's only two temperatures: Cold, and Effing Cold."

Those drivers are lucky to be working. Loads are down this year. Demand for diamonds has dropped as the world's recession bites into the vanity of humanity. The clear diamonds found in northern Canada have lost some of their lustre.

Ice Road Truckers portrays the season as a desperate race against time to get vital supplies to the mines, too costly to fly in during the rest of the year, but it was only in 2006, an unusually warm season, that the road failed to achieve its maximum capacity.

It made up for it the following year, when the show's first season was filmed and almost 11,000 loads were hauled for a record 330,000 tonnes. This year, though, the target is just 200,000 tonnes of supplies, mostly diesel fuel, cement and explosives. Besides, the mines have been constructed now and their open pits are being replaced with underground tunnels – there's less need for prefab buildings and new gravel trucks.

Those southern drivers who call Alex Debogorski looking for work up here are now out of luck. The 800 drivers of 2007 became just 550 drivers in 2008, and there are fewer still this winter.

This didn't deter Ice Road Truckers, though. The second season is arguably more exciting, as it follows Debogorski and others on trucking missions across the frozen delta north of Inuvik, hauling massive equipment on the (allegedly) less stable ice of the Arctic Ocean.

Will there be a third season? Debogorski, at home in Yellowknife, smiles at the thought.

"You know, a guy told me about an ice road north out of Cambridge Bay, right on the top of Canada, heading a hundred kilometres out over the ocean to some places on the islands. There's a huge truck that hauls sleds behind it, just piling black smoke from the stack straight up into the air, and the Inuit go ahead and clear the road of polar bears.

"That – now that – would be an adventure."

Mark Richardson is the editor of wheels. Email him

The NWT consensus no-party government could fall

The NWT consensus no-party government could fall. 

Good thing I have the day off seems like a day to go visit the gallery.

I wonder if Mr.Roland can go and ask the Commissioner to PROROUGE the legislature.  

If this system of government doesn't work maybe they should think about joining Nunavut.   

NWT government could fall after budget is tabled

The Canadian Press

YELLOWKNIFE — In an Arctic echo of last December's dramatic near-collapse of the Harper government over a fiscal update, the government of the Northwest Territories could fall Friday in a non-confidence vote the day after introducing its budget.

Finance Minister Michael Miltenberger was to table his budget in the territorial legislature Thursday.

But one member of the legislature introduced a motion of non-confidence in Premier Floyd Roland and his entire cabinet. The motion is to go to a vote Friday.

“Most of the regular members have lost confidence in the premier and some of the cabinet members,” said Jane Groenewegen, the member for Hay River who introduced the motion. “We thought it would be simpler and quicker and easier if we take out the whole group.”

Under the rules of the NWT's consensus-style government, the premier and cabinet are chosen by all the members of the legislature after each election. The leader and his cabinet can be removed by a similar ballot and someone new chosen.

Ms. Groenewegen said the current executive has refused to work with fellow legislators and has deliberately withheld information.

She pointed to confusion over contracts for the Deh Cho Bridge, a $155-million span across the Mackenzie River.

Mr. Roland, elected in October 2007, initially told Ms. Groenewegen that the government's only financial exposure was a $9-million loan guarantee. It later emerged that the territory could be on the hook for much more if the anticipated toll revenue for the bridge didn't meet projections. That prospect is becoming more likely as industrial traffic in the North slows due to cooling commodity markets.

“We had to beg and claw to get that information, and that's not even honest,” Ms. Groenewegen said. She added that the government refused to consult with regular members over plans to cut the civil service, restructure health and education boards and reduce health benefits to seniors. Members learned about the plans from their constituents, Ms. Groenewegen said.

“We went to him and said, ‘Hey, where's your consultation with us about this?' He said, ‘Oh, communication's not my forte.”'

Members also have concerns about a $34-million bailout to NWT-based Discovery Air.

Ms. Groenewegen, who heads the caucus of non-cabinet members that functions as a type of opposition, said she's confident the motion will pass.

“I'm not taking a stick and poking the other side of the house for fun.”

Last December, the federal Liberals and New Democrats banded together and threatened to bring down Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government over measures contained in the fall fiscal update. Mr. Harper avoided a non-confidence vote when he persuaded the Governor General to prorogue Parliament. The coalition dissolved when the Conservatives came back after the session resumed last week and brought in a spending-rich budget.

Former NWT premier Stephen Kakfwi also faced non-confidence motions in 2001 and 2002. Roland was the only member to vote in favour of removing Mr. Kakfwi in the 2001 vote, saying he had grown too arrogant.

The fate of Mr. Miltenberger's budget if the non-confidence motion passes was not immediately clear Thursday. The Chamber of Commerce has already said the territory needs stability during a time of uncertainty and economic turmoil.

Ms. Groenewegen is unapologetic.

“The (steady hand on the tiller) isn't paying attention to where the boat's going.”

Jean Charest, Ordre de la Légion d'honneur

The Hon. Premier John James Charest, P.C., M.N.A., L.L.B

Two days ago, Premier Jean Charest was invested as a Commander of L'Ordre de la Legion d'honneur de France in Paris, J.K Rowling of Harry Potter fame received the same honour. This is the third of five levels in the Order. This is similar to the Order of Canada.

I can remember being at the Vancouver Airport in 1998 when Daniel Johnson Jr. resigned as leader of the Quebec Liberal Party. Wondering who would stand up and defend Canada against the PQ and Lucien Bouchard, a few months later some one decided a united Canada was more important than federal politics and made the move to join the "National Assembly." Jean Charestwas the person who decided to step up, I clearly remember that NO ONE in the federal Liberal Party from Quebec was willing to make the move to Quebec Politics. (not Martin, Dion, Pettigrew...) For that, I am thankful and happy that he was able to win the 2003 election and hold on again in 2007 and again last year. 

Having a premier who is a federalist receive such an honour from the French government is quite special as you will read from this excerpt from the Globe and Mail.

For a long time, the official French iteration was " ni ingérence ni indifférence" (neither interference nor indifference), a phrase suitably subtle that it could be read in a variety of ways.

Now that subtle formula has been ditched. Whatever ambiguity attended French attitudes toward this tiresome question has been jettisoned, courtesy of French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Mr. Sarkozy, awarding the Legion of Honour to Quebec Premier Jean Charest on Monday in Paris, repeated in the strongest language yet that he and his country totally oppose the separation of Quebec from Canada - a declaration stunningly ignored by some English-Canadian newspapers.