Candidates united over beliefs at forum

Most of the issues brought up by the public during Monday night’s All Candidates Forum had the MLA candidates sharing opinions.

After taking five minutes each to briefly introduce themselves and give a basic platform, members of the public were invited up to the microphone to ask Beatrice Lepine, Marc Miltenberger, Robert Bouchard, Jane Groenewegen and Roy Courtoreille whatever questions were on their mind. 

Issues ranged from the 60th Parallel Visitors Centre to health care to devolution, and all the candidates were on the same page.

When asked about devolution, each candidate agreed that it was a step forward, but that there were still ways to improve the agreement.

“It is not a final agreement,” said Groenewegen.

“There is some room for negotiation.”

Courtoreille stated his opinion, that “it’s not the best deal, but it’s a start.”

Both Bouchard and Miltenberger shared the same sentiments but it was Lepine who changed up her response, but only slightly.

“I don’t have confidence it will be passed in the next assembly,” she said.
“It needs to happen, but I don’t see it happening in my lifetime.”

The new hospital was a topic raised, and the issue of accessibility.

All the candidates agreed that the new hospital would have to meet codes for accessibility, but if there are short-term solutions in the meantime, those should go ahead to make the facility more accessible for those that need it.

“If it’s a simple fix and can be done soon, I don’t think we need to wait for a new hospital to make it happen,” said Lepine.

One question posed by Peter Osted on behalf of the Museum Society was in regards to the brochure created to promote the Hay River attraction.

When the Society approached the 60th Parallel Visitors Centre to place their brochures within their walls their request was denied due to a lack of space.

Each of the candidates, in their own words, stated that it was unacceptable and should they be voted to the position of MLA for Hay River North or South, they would try to rectify the situation as tourism is vital not only just to Hay River but to the Northwest Territories as a whole.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” said Bouchard.

“Tourism is a big issue. We need to promote Hay River.”

Several of the candidates also mentioned they had heard of Visitors Centre employees discourage the visiting of several NWT communities, which was unacceptable in their eyes.

“We’ve got a problem at the 60th Parallel border crossing,” said Groenewegen.

“On behalf of our government, I apologize.”

One of the last questions raised was that of the annual flood.

Courtoreille said that the MLAs elected would need to work with all levels of government in order to get the river dredged to not only prevent further damage on a yearly basis to the Old Town, but also to allow residents to live their lives for those two weeks without being consumed by keeping an eye on the river and on their property.

“It is a very serious issue,” said Groenewegen who added that it is up to the federal government to take responsibility for the process.

Miltenberger added that NTCL had applied for dredging in 2012-2013 but that would be only a small scale job at the mouth of the river to allow the barges to get out safely.

“It is a matter of working together,” said Lepine.

“It’s time to do something about it.”