Saturday, October 24, 2009

Reader submitted request

I had this slither over the transom at Facebook tonight:

Re: My image on your blog

Between You and Jenny Moores

Jenny Moores October 24 at 6:09pm Report

Terry: I am writing to politely ask you to take my photo off your blog. While I appreciate that you have opinions about one rate power, I don't appreciate you using my image to prove your point. Surely you can find a more suitable photo that actually relates to your position.

If I'm correct, you and I used to have the same job at NNSL - we were both photo editors. With that background, I would expect you have an awareness of photo usage rights.

Please and thank you,

Jennifer Moores

And my reply:

Terry Halifax October 24 at 7:44pm

Hi Jenny

As per your request, I’ve removed your image and replaced it with an artist’s rendition.

I can appreciate that you wouldn’t want your visage associated with the comments you made or the company you keep.

Get used to it. It’s time someone put a face to some of the numbskulls running these shadowy organizations that want to put the world on hold, while you wallow in personal luxuries.

You and your ilk have postponed legacy and hope for thousands of indigenous people along the Mackenzie Valley.

Take notice, Jenny, people are fed up with this mindless bullshit you granola-munching tourists are spouting and you need to be exposed.

Many people are working hard to build a sustainable, realistic future for the North and it includes a real future for people in remote communities.

It also includes wind, solar, gasification, cogeneration, biomass and fuel cells. And yes, Jenny, our future also includes a pipeline.

I doubt you recognize that you and your counterparts are committing economic genocide with your policies. You probably think you’re actually helping.

Get this straight, Jenny, you are NOT helping!

Warm regards,


Not sure where she got the idea I was ever a photo editor, but I guess I better polish up my writing a bit.

Friday, October 23, 2009

All for one and one rate for all

The much-anticipated Electricity Review has been completed.

For those keeping count, this is report number four in the last ten years.

When the review panel was in Inuvik, I tried to argue the case for one blended rate power for the whole territory.

Most of what I said didn’t make it in the report; I guess I was speaking to fast for the typist.

To recap, like it or not, we are all members in this club together, but we're not all enjoying membership privileges.

We all own the hydro facilities, but only those on the grid enjoy the benefit of lower energy costs. We all paid a low water rate rider, when the Snare hydro system was slowed to a trickle. We all pay for a bloated corporate office that the government refused to downsize when the territory split.

When Inuvik upgraded to a natural gas turbine system, only Inuvik rate payers paid the rider for the upgrade.

I explained to the panel that as the cost of service and the cost of fuel continue to rise, it is inevitable that the NTPC’s largest customer – Inuvik -- will be forced to seek an alternative.

There is this corporate mentality within NTPC that breeds waste and inefficiency, because the flaw in any crown-owned utility, is that they can always write off any expense as “the cost of service.”

This means they can take a charter when they don’t feel like driving the ice road, they can give six figure bonuses to management, they can avoid renewable energy sources, because it’s not in their interest. The more they spend, the more they make. Every dollar spent, is a dollar earned through the “cost of service.”

During an Association of Communities AGM, I brought up the subject with municipal leaders from Hay River, Fort Simpson and Norman Wells. It’s become obvious that we’re not all in this together, so why should we continue to share the cost of service with those who won’t share with us?

The communities along the Mackenzie Valley all share the same frustrations and, over a few cocktails, we dreamt of the Mackenzie Valley Energy Corporation.

All along the pipeline route, we could tap into the line, distribute the gas, generate our own electricity through co-generation and distribute our own electricity and recover heat to distribute to municipal buildings.

So what happens to what’s left of the NTPC? The once-blessed hydro customers will be left to shoulder the burden of that bloated corporate office, as well as subsidize every other community not on the grid or the pipeline route. In short, NTPC will fold like a house of cards.

I notice in the report that Ecology North was against any attempt to introduce one rate in the NWT, as they believe that the current higher rates in thermal communities encourage conservation.

With that line of thinking, why not make the Yellowknife, Hay River and Fort Smith rate the same as it is in Collville Lake? At $2.45/kwh, just think of all you’d conserve!

Take a look at the Ecology North web page and you’ll have a pretty good idea at how “North” they really are. Here’s one of the three questions they asked the board members to answer in their biographies:

“What is your favourite thing about YK, in 3 WORDS OR LESS?” (Emphasis theirs. I can only surmise that the caps lock key got stuck in between bong hits and no one noticed.)

Jenny Moores’ reply spoke volumes:

“small, sunny city”

Hate to burst your bubble Jenny, but winter’s coming and the sun is going.

And, with the Mackenzie Valley Energy Corporation, so goes your cheap energy on the backs of the rest of us.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Backdoor Jack

On my return North, I was met with a cool reception at the Yellowknife airport.

Not only was it six degrees in Capital City, but also the scowling face of our Member of Parliament, Dennis Bevington greeted me.

“Hi Terry,” the Groucho Marxist managed and went back to pretending to read his upside-down newspaper.

Bevington, who hold the dubious distinction of having the highest travel expenses of all the MPs in Canada, was traveling to Inuvik to attend a climate change workshop with youth. I suppose scorching all the carbon credits to bring all the youth together is one thing, but for Bevington to use that as an excuse to do some campaigning was laughable.

Harper was making his annual trip across the three territories, so this was the cue for all the parties to try to “out North” each other in some pre-election campaigning.

While it rained federal money in Nunavut, the orange and red button-wearing western territories got crumbs swept from the table. The spoils of war, I suppose. That’s what you get for voting for a spectator.

In celebration of a real candidate for the Liberals in Western Arctic, even Iggy made his first appearance across the 60th parallel with a quick junket into Capital City. I suppose he had to be put up at Handley’s place, because the Libs still have bills outstanding at every Yellowknife hotel.

Handley took advantage of the situation to slam the Cons on unsigned land claims, despite having slammed the Akaitcho Chiefs for the same thing just a couple years ago.

“You haven’t signed off one word of your land claim,” Handley scolded the Chiefs. “Not one word.”

Elizabeth May might have attended the climate change youth thing too, but she ran out of train tracks in Whitehorse. After a barbeque of edamame beans, May told the wan-looking crowd of her Arctic Strategy.

“In our view, Canada’s sovereignty ... is best exemplified by commitment to communities, to environmental protection in the Arctic, to paying attention to being a constant presence in the region.”

If that makes any sense to you, you better get some seared red meat or bologna in you, stat.

Faced with party bankruptcy and the sure loss of seats for the CCF, Taliban Jack struck a backroom deal with Iggy, whereby Jack will back the Cons to avoid going to an election, so that Iggy can put on his tough boy pants for the cameras.

Following the backroom meeting at Stornoway, Comrade Jack rode the party bicycle over to 24 Sussex, where he made a backroom deal with Harper. In exchange for a wood pellet-burning day care bus for Toronto Danforth, Jack will side with the Cons to avoid an election.

“I'm not making any backroom deals with the Prime Minister,” Layton lied later to eye-rolling reporters. “There's nothing strange, or behind the scenes involved here. I'm simply suggesting that the decision about whether there's an election is the Prime Minister's decision.”

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Full-time pay, part-time accountability

Welcome back, dear readers.

On returning from my vacation, I was surprised to learn that Inuvik Town Council had held a special meeting to discuss and vote the issue of a full time mayor.

The special meeting was held with barely a quorum and the vote was pushed through before the three vacationing councilors returned. Although there is a precedent for electronic voting via email, that option was not allowed here.

I’ve resisted the urge to comment in my blog on issues facing town council, but since I was denied that forum, I will for the record, put my thoughts here.

The reasons Inuvik’s previous town council voted in favour of the full time mayor’s position were because of the increase in oil and gas activity in the region, the onerous duties required with presenting to the Joint Review Panel and organizing the Inuvik Petroleum Show.

The reality today, is that there is virtually no oil and gas activity taking place here, the Joint Review Panel hearings have concluded, and the mayor thinks the Inuvik Petroleum Show has run its course.

When we voted this to be a full-time position our part-time mayor, Peter Clarkson, was also providing monthly reports and bringing in new funding that far exceeded the salary proposed. If there is a need for a full-time mayor, the current council would not be aware of that, because, in truth, we don’t know how the mayor spends his time. The current mayor has filed only two reports in three years and any new funding was brought in through the initiatives of our town manager, Sara Brown.

The lack of information flowing to council prompted me to move a motion that re-established committees. Although new committees were established, regular meetings were never held. The Administration Committee met just twice over the three-year term, despite having passed three capital/operating budgets and numerous staff issues and shortages which all should have come to committee.

For a mayor who campaigned on being “open and accountable” this mayor has done more to cut off the flow of information than anything.

Although Peter and I disagreed loudly on many issues, his work ethic was never questioned. Quite the opposite in fact. We once had to rein him in for being too involved.

This contrast in two mayors illustrates another reason why this position should be part-time – the job is so dependant on the drive and ability of the individual elected.

I’m a fiscal conservative and a social liberal, but my political position is best described as Libertarian, where the best government is no government. Why should taxpayers fund elected amateurs to manage the future of their community, when there are professionals who can do a far better job?

The money used to fund a full-time mayor could be otherwise channeled into attracting professionals to the town staff in key areas like finance and engineering. We have been without an engineer for about six years and without a finance officer for about six months.

A mayor can be a ribbon cutter and ambassador for the town or he can be a dedicated and driven workaholic. The flaw in democracy is that often the voter won’t know which until it’s too late.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The little search engine that could

My hat is off to Anne Crossman and Tom Zubko at Permafrost Media for finally accessing the costs associated with the Joint Review Panel.

For those of you who don’t know, Permafrost Media is an aggregate news gathering service funded solely by donations and Mr. Zubko himself. This tiny operation of one employee achieved what no other news gathering organization had the balls, budget or news sense to go after.

I wouldn’t expect this brand of investigative journalism to come from the Frostbite Falls Fishwrap, where reporters are only concerned with investigating how they will fill this week’s quota of filler to slap in around the ads. Most reporters won't be there long enough to take something like this on. 

The Commie Broadcast Corp. has shown no interest in this either. Had this been Lee “Geraldo” Selleck going after the underpants budget of an elected official, you’d have bet the Comrades would have ponied up the dough.

Geraldo didn’t think this one was worth going after, however. Nor did their “business” reporter Green Julie.

Since Julie helped add to the burden of the JRP with her own intervention through the Yellowknife YWCA, I suppose she felt it would be a conflict of interest. Not sure just how the Yellowknife YWCA felt they would be harmed by a pipeline carrying natural gas hundreds of miles away, but that’s the way this regulatory abomination unfolded.

Kevin O’Reilly and his merry band of fear-mongering eco-thugs lined up every NGO, rabble-rouser, tea granny and out-of-work proposal writer in the NWT and showed them how to get a budget to intervene in this pipeline project. All they had to do was to show up and speak for 20 or 90 minutes and they would be given a plane ticket and a budget -- all courtesy the Canadian taxpayer.

They were very organized and saw the biggest flaw in the whole process.

In their attempt to re-create the Berger-like forum, the JRP allowed anyone with a voice to speak to the panel and question the project’s proponents.

And speak they did. Hundreds of hours of testimony was heard and hundreds of thousands of pages were submitted.

From our wood pellet smoking MP Dennis Bevington, who urged the slumbering panel of dimwits to take their time, to the World Wildlife Fund, Sierra Club and Alternatives North who heaped redundant and massive amounts of paper into the system. So many questions were posed to the proponent Imperial Oil that they actually choked and had to postpone the process until they could catch up.

If this technical terrorism was enough to choke Canada’s largest oil company, it really should not come as a surprise that this collection of absolute amateurs cannot get the job done.

That doesn’t stop them from drawing paychecks, however. At $500 a day for each panel member, they have sucked over $18 million from the taxpayers’ pockets.

Five years have come and gone since this process began and there is no end in sight. They make no excuse for their gross incompetence and offer another date of December 2009. There is no guarantee that they won’t change that date either.

Meanwhile, the poverty-stricken people of the Mackenzie Valley postpone their legacy. Mothers feed pop from baby bottles because milk is too expensive. Suicide and substance abuse rates continue to climb far beyond the national average. Type 2 diabetes is an epidemic. Graduation rates are deplorable. Housing is a national disgrace.

But yes, panel members, do take your time, as the Groucho Marxist MP urged you. Take your time, take our money, postpone the legacy and sleep well. 

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Tourist typist goes shopping

With the revolving door of tourist typists moving in and out of the ranks of the Frostbite Falls Fishwrap, it’s hard to keep tabs on who’s who.

Each time we get a new reporter here, we have to endure the training period of this newbie, who gets scared out of bed when a fighter jet flies overhead or when he plays mix and match on the names and faces of the people in Streetbeat.

You’d think by now the Fishwrap would have a policy on topics these tourists should avoid writing about. Obviously they don’t, so I’ll help them out here.

This week’s Inuvik Dumb has an editorial titled “Getting the shaft,” where he whimpers about the high price of food here. The typist drones on about his trip to Whitehorse, where he found lower-priced food than Inuvik. What a revelation! Your Pulitzer is in the mail, Mr. Editor.

Here’s the first paragraph:

“Living in Inuvik, I go through phases where I lose track of the outside world and just accept certain things, good and bad, about living in a remote location.”

For starters, maybe your world exists outside Inuvik, but your readers’ world is right here. Maybe you feel Inuvik is remote, but this is the home of your readers. We all know you’re a tourist. You don’t need to remind us each week. 

As bad as this rag is, this is our newspaper -- not your fucking travelogue. Maybe your parents or buddies back home might appreciate hearing about your adventures on your little trip to our "remote" town, but you're paid to record the history of this place. 

Secondly, people who live here don’t need to be reminded of the cost of food. They’ve been paying it long before you stepped off the plane for your arctic adventure.

It gets worse. He moans on about paying $10 year-round for two litres of milk. I don’t know where he’s been buying his milk, but even when the road was out, I've never paid more than $9. 

The tourist calls for an “arm’s length government body” that would monitor the price of food on store shelves. Hate to break news to the news guy, but we already have that in place – it’s called the “free market.”

We have three grocery stores here that are all competing for our food dollar. The intrepid reporter might get off his lazy ass and go price check himself.

Another tip for the news guy: if you spend less time driving to Whitehorse and more time covering your beat, you might actually gain some credibility with your readers.

On a brighter note, I see the Fishwrap has snagged a shining star with the addition of Katie May. While the tourist was away shopping in Whitehorse, Katie picked up the slack in this week’s Dumb, with some fine news writing.

I’ll be sad to see her go, but that’s the reality. The good ones come for the experience and move on to the dailies in the south. The rest (like the mouth-breathing meat blob, Piggy Puglia) will go uncalled for and resort to spell checking in the integrity-free zone of the Fishwrap’s newsroom.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The pipe dream lives on

Although bingo caller Green Julie squawked that this year’s Inuvik Petroleum Show was a dismal failure, the numbers were only slightly down from last year.

At the closing dinner and Ron James’ comedy show you couldn’t even find a place to stand.

Green Julie loves to downplay the success of these events as it gives her and her ilk the impression that they are winning the war against humans.

The mood was subdued, the smiles were strained and the SWAG not so plentiful, but there is hope. The faithful know that this project will go ahead and that momentum can build incredibly fast.

By this time next year, things are most likely to be much different here. The NEB will snatch the report from the incapable hands of the Joint Review Panel, deposit it in the nearest trash can and rubber stamp this pipeline from here to Zama City. Next year’s petroleum show will be the biggest we’ve ever had.

An interesting part of the conference agenda was on media coverage of the Mackenzie Gas Project. Conference Chair Anne Crossman hosted Claudia Cattaneo of the National Post, Bob Weber of the Canadian Press and, because there was an extra seat, Green Julie.

While introducing herself, Green boasted she was the mother of an “Inuvialuit beneficiary.” She somehow thought this was relevant to the topic or that the act of spawning this progeny made her a more credible journalist. As if to say, “I’m so Northern, I even took a 'country lover' and bore his fruit.”

To her credit, Green never uttered the words “tar sands” once, but did make excuses for her persistent coverage from the green perspective.

“Environmental groups are well-organized and easy to reach for reporters on deadlines,” Green admitted.

Nice. So we have to hear from Kevin O'Reilly on every story, because you’re too lazy to seek out a credible source?

Ms. Crossman asked for opinions on “blogs.” Green Julie couldn’t resist firing off a shot that she can’t give any credibility to someone “writing rants from their home office.”

Hate to burst Green’s bubble, but many of those “rants” are read by more people in one day, than listen to her snarky voice all year.

I did have a good chat with Bob Weber later that day and we laughed about the first time we wrote about this pipeline – over ten years ago. I wrote my first news story on the Aboriginal Pipeline Group forming while in Fort Simpson and have, largely by accident, followed it from there to Hay River and here to Inuvik.

What a long, strange trip it’s been.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

This little Piggy gets outted

As a journalist and elected public official, I’ve had to develop a pretty thick skin. There isn’t much that offends me and I welcome criticism and debate (your stupid comments) on this page.

That said, when you start calling my town “buttfuck nowhere,” the gloves come off.

So I’m outing the Frostbite Falls Fishwrap’s spellchecker Chris “Piggy” Puglia, who’s been posting as Anonymous on my site almost since I started.

There’s no such thing as posting anonymous on this page, as I have Sitemeter installed, which identifies every post and visit by IP address. I confronted the coward with a message on Facebook:


Terry Halifax

Today at 8:12am

the next time you post another chickenshit comment on my page, you might as well sign your name.

I can track your IP.

You can also look forward to a sampling of just how "macho" I can be face-to-face someday too.


Chris Puglia

Add as Friend

Today at 8:19am

Report Message

OMG you know who I am...hahaha, like I don't know you can track my IP address. Oh, and is that a threat? Don't threaten me Halifax.


I’ve never met this tourist typist, but judging from his command over the English language, he’s destined to be a Fishwrapper for many years to come – no legitimate paper would hire him.

Puglia has been terrorizing bloggers with his chicken-shit anon posts for some time now. I suspect it’s small manhood syndrome that provokes these cowardly attacks, but now that he’s been exposed, you can rest assured that the teeny weeny will shrink away to nothing.

I invite Mr. Puglia to Inuvik to see how residents appreciate his editorial stance on our fair little town and I look forward to confronting the sniveling little coward face-to-face.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Opportunities North -- to Alaska

I hope you had a good week of fishing, because there was plenty of fishwrap with the publication of the now-fictional three section supplement Opportunities North inserted in the Frostbite Falls Fishwrap.

This enormous waste of trees is an annual offering at the Fishwrap, but has really outlived it’s usefulness -- if it ever had any -- outside of using advertising dollars to wrap fish.

The only “opportunities” left in the North are for the parasites; lawyers and consultants feeding off the aboriginal groups or for the eco-thugs who brought this economy to its knees. 

If you can sleep at a boardroom table without slobbering too much or snoring too loud, you can take an appointment at one of the 100s of redundant boards.

These are the crumbs left after the cake was put back in the oven.

While we sat silent, the eco-freaks and redundant regulators legislated a living and a legacy away from the people of the NWT.

On Friday, Exxon announced that they’d be backing TransCanada’s bid on the Alaska pipeline, driving yet another nail in the coffin of the Mackenzie Gas Project.

The US has already offered up $18 billion in loan guarantees, with another $30 billion forthcoming, while our government is playing their cards close to their chest. Exxon knows a good thing when they see it. 

It doesn’t help having a Member of Parliament who refuses to support the $16 billion job in his riding. “The federal government should not be a cheerleader to this pipeline project,” Dennis Bevington said in monthly manifesto. Further, the Groucho Marxist urged the Joint Review Panel: “Take your time to do a thorough job.”

They’ve done as you told them, Dennis. As for all the working families you and Taliban Jack say your fighting for, well, they’re left out in the cold -- literally.

Sleep well, you mealy-mouthed little worm and pray there isn’t an election soon. This time you won’t get the protest vote – those votes will go to the Anyone But Dennis Party.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Piss, puke and pedagogy

The Frostbite Falls Fishwrap reported Monday that the Government of the Northwest Territories will NOT ask the Alberta government to stop new oil sands development.

It comes as a relief to know that at least our territorial government realizes that we have some bigger problems right here in our own back yard. It does beg the question, however, what are our municipal leaders thinking?

Along with the oil sands epiphany, a few of the other recommendations spawned by the municipal brain trust were:

-the NWT Waste and Water Association complete a review of climate change impacts on waste, water and wastewater facilities.

-urges all communities to phase out bottled water sales at their own facilities where potable water is available and start awareness campaigns about the benefits and quality of municipal water.

I’m pretty sure these two gems came from the Birkenstocks and socks-wearing councillors from Yellowknife.

It’s been a long time since I lived in Yellowknife, but I used to count the puddles of piss and puke and pools of blood I had to step over on my morning walk to work. I remember the city looking like a war zone when the snow melted; with mounds of dog shit, diapers and garbage strewn all about. It occurred to me then that Yellowknife had some real problems and I don’t think much has changed.

Are these politicians completely blind to the real world that exists around them or has the all-legume diet altered their vision? Why would we plan awareness campaigns on the evils of bottled water when we have people using main street as their toilet and garbage dump?

I made the same argument in Inuvik over our new single use bag bylaw; we’re pretending to be cutting-edge ecologists here, when we can’t even aim to pee.

There are some serious, serious problems in the NWT and they have nothing to do with plastic bags, bottles or climate change effects.

Our suicide rate is second only to Nunavut in North America, we have a type II diabetes epidemic, substance abuse is at an all-time high. We don’t have enough teachers, doctors, nurses, RCMP, jails, courthouses…

On top of all the social ills, this jurisdiction is a regulatory basket case. Our rat's nest of regulators has scared off multinational corporations who do business all over the world in all types of regulatory and political climates. Countries with the most rigid and stringent development regulations, but also with the most ruthless and corrupt banana republics, dictators and despots. If we can scare these guys from here to go do business with Putin or Hugo Chavez, what does that say to you?

I suppose with Chavez at least you know what you get. He sticks out his hand and you fill it with cash. Up here there are just too many hands.

Yes folks, we do have some serious problems here and apparently, they are being pushed aside by the very people who should be bringing them to the fore – your municipal leaders.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

NWT Communities duped by eco-thug

Much transpired over my week off on the Embarrassingly Amateur Golf Tour (EAGT).

In my absence, a renegade band of root and berry-eating Capital City councillors invaded my little town.

Cave-in Kennedy and a few other anemic little vegans foisted their disapproval over the oil sands and decided a resolution passed by the Northwest Territories Association of Communities (NWTAC) might help halt new development.

“This is a life or death situation for people of the North,” Kennedy mewled, his lower lip quivering.

The resolution calls on the Government of the Northwest Territories to ask the Government of Alberta to halt new oil sands approvals until it negotiates an enforceable trans-boundary water agreement with the NWT. 

The Athabasca and Slave River systems have become the most-tested water bodies in North America, but that doesn't stop the eco-thugs from spreading their campaign of fear, misinformation and outright lies. 

Without any facts or data to support them, Councillors Kennedy, Sheel-argh Montgomery and the rest of the protein-deprived knobs at Ecology North are claiming elevated arsenic levels, cancer-causing agents and imminent doom for anyone living downstream of the oil sands.

All 33 communities bought into this steaming pile and voted in favour of the resolution.

In response, Alberta Premier Ed Stalmach was nonplused and to the point.

“Northwest what? Tell them they can go fuck themselves,” Stelmach said.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fire, brimstone and bitumen

In a bizarre attempt to garner some media attention, the environmental movement south of 60 sought divine intervention this week, when they mobilized a group of Alberta Quakers to make a pilgrimage to the Athabasca oil sands.

Guess what? The Communist Broadcasting Corp. in Yellowknife were eager to inform us of this “revelation.”

Joslyn Oosenbrug, the latest host of Breaking Wind, the CBC morning show, interviewed the representative of the Quakers about the ethics and morals of providing northern families a decent living.

The script was obviously written by Green Julie, the Sierra Club's bingo caller and the chief propagandist for the O’Reilly Foundation for Northern Poverty. The questions were leading and obviously anti-oilsands. For instance, the reporter continually asked the Quaker if she thought the oil sands were “the devil’s work.”

Things seemed to be going along well enough until Ms. Oosenbrug strayed a few times from the script and actually called the bitumen resource “oil sands,” rather than the erroneous “tar sands” terminology preferred by environmentalists. Even the woman from the Quakers started referring to them as “oil sands.”

You could hear Green muttering in the background of the studio.

“It’s TAR SANDS, you idiot!”

After the third mention of “oil sands” you could hear screaming and an obvious scuffle taking place in the studio.


Loud thumping sounds, a crash, a few expletives screamed and then silence followed.

After about thirty seconds of dead air, you could hear panting and then this:

“Yea….those of you not written into the book of life shall be cast into a lake of flaming tar,” the breathless voice snarled into the microphone.

“This is Green Julie reporting, CBC news, Yellowknife.”

Monday, May 18, 2009

All for none and none for all

As we watched the folks of B.C. elect a new government and as we brace for the return of the NWT’s 16th Legislative Assembly, a friend and I were discussing the benefits of consensus government. It was a short conversation. In fact, the pros are greatly outnumbered by the cons of consensus government.

When I first heard that the NWT was governed by consensus, I thought it was a great system. MLAs are allowed to vote with their hearts and in the interests of their constituents rather than along party lines.

Nice idea, but in practice it fails on so many levels.

Every four years a new batch of MLAs are elected and they are all hoping to change the world in their own image, so they set out to tear down the old and bring in their version of new. There is no continuity, direction or ideology in the transition of power. The only stability comes from the returning MLAs, Deputy Ministers and ADMs (if they have the intestinal fortitude to go through with another term).

There is no clearly elected majority and no organized opposition. MLAs elect the Premier whom choses the Cabinet and the cast offs form the Regular Members -- but those can change as quickly as the political winds blow. There are no focused ideals or planned strategy for meaningful direction or change in the short or long-term.

Without an organized opposition, we see these random pot shots fired from individual MLAs instead of a thought out strategy to force or bring about change. The Regular Member may have a legitimate concern or might just be grinding an axe because they were passed over for Cabinet.

Consensus governance leaves too much room for backroom deals and corruption. The backroom lobbying starts right from the moment MLAs are elected. They are all jockeying for Cabinet posts and capital projects for their ridings. Any MLA will tell you the real decisions are made long before they enter the House.

The voter is at a disadvantage by not knowing the political stripe and philosophical ideals of a candidate. When you know what party the candidate belongs to, you can associate that person to that party’s ideals -- even if you don’t know the candidate personally.

The party system grew out of consensus government because it doesn’t represent the needs of the whole, but rather the parts. This is a very large jurisdiction with many parts, with many conflicting interests. These parts will never achieve lasting or meaningful consensus and to pretend that they will is only to perpetuate a myth based on emotion.

Functional democracy requires decisions based on logical facts, rather than ones based on sentimental or emotional dreams.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Regular membership has its privilege

Last week’s Frostbite Falls Fishwrap reported that Nahende MLA Kevin Menicoche had some unexplained expenses on the government’s credit card.

Four mysterious charges, totaling over $1,300, were billed to Menicoche’s Diners Club card while on a taxpayer-funded junket to China last November. The former Chair of the Standing Committee on Accountability and Oversight refused to elaborate. 

“They were charges from somebody else,” Menicoche said. “I consider the matter closed at this time.”

Pardon me?

He considers it closed?? He loses control of our credit card and has no explanation for it?

Somehow the reporter lets him off the hook here, but it should have gone something like this:

“Sorry sir, but that’s not how accountability works. The deal is this: we give you our credit card, you use it responsibly and account for your expenses and we’ll allow you to keep using it.”

“Now, let’s start again.”

“What are these four charges on our credit card?”

“Who incurred these charges on our credit card?”

“How did our credit card leave your care and control?”

“Why should we allow you to have care and control of our credit card again?”

I am so sick of hearing the words “open and accountable” and “transparent” bandied about by politicians who seemingly don’t even understand what the words mean. For this guy to just blow this off without explanation is beyond arrogance -- it’s unbelievable.

The reporter alludes that the card may have been lost or stolen, but why would the MLA be ashamed or reluctant to admit that?

Without an explanation, we can only assume that the MLA got drunk in a Shanghai massage parlour and bought a round of rubdowns and happy endings for himself and his entourage. Since Menicoche is allowing us to assume the worst, the worst must have transpired.

The Fishwrap is perpetually railing on against government about not spending enough or spending too much, but this one actually deserves some ink. Here’s hoping the reporter finishes the story.

Friday, May 15, 2009

My first curmudgeon

It’s about this time each year I start to think back about the first real curmudgeon I ever met.

Lloyd was always hanging around over at my friend Bob’s place, having tea with Mrs. Turner. I suppose he was retired from the mine, but I never knew him well enough to ask.

He was a portly man – about 300 lbs, with big, meaty hands and an exterior as gruff as it comes. He chewed tobacco and always had some brown drool leaking from the corner of his scowling maw. 

One day I went to pick up Bob and Lloyd was at his usual spot at the kitchen table.

Mrs. Turner called upstairs for Bob and I waited by the door.

Bob came downstairs and was tying his shoes when Lloyd asked, “Why isn’t the boy in school?”

“It’s a holiday,” Mrs. Turner replied. “Victoria Day.”

“Victoria Day? Are they still dragging that dead whore around?” Lloyd spat back.

Bob and I sniggered our way outside and almost fell over laughing.

So every Victoria Day after that we would always go out of our way to set each other up to repeat Lloyd’s fond remembrance of  Britian’s longest sitting monarch.

“Long weekend? What’s the holiday?”

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Oil sands cloud rational thought in downstream news room

It was not quite the same as the big scoop the reporter had on The Simpsons with Blinky, the three-eyed fish, but Green Julie at the Commie Broadcasting Corporation figured she had a lock on the Pulitzer, when she filed this stinker about a “mutated fish” downstream from the Athabasca oil sands:


It took only a few hours before the story was repeated on news wires around the world, but that was the last we heard for seven months.

Fast forward to March 17, 2009. The same reporter files this story debunking the mutant fish story she’d filed back in August:


In the interview with the professor, he said he’d determined this was not a mutation as soon as he saw the photos and immediately informed the Chief of the fact.

For seven months the Chief had his people (and the world) believe that one of their primary food sources was mutating because of down stream pollution from the oil sands.

Green Julie asked Chief Poitras why he didn’t disclose the findings. I’m paraphrasing here, but the Chief felt it wasn’t his obligation.

I don’t know why the reporter took seven months to do a follow-up on what was obviously a very alarming and bizarre news story, but in my mind the headline should have read “Chief suppresses information on ‘mutated’ fish.”

I think these oil sands have mutated some brains around a certain publicly-funded newsroom in Yellowknife if this counts as responsible journalism.