Minister defends cost of NWT Days trip to Ottawa

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Trade minister David Ramsay has defended the cost of a trip to Ottawa for Northwest Territories ministers and other representatives.

The territorial government says its NWT Days campaign in Ottawa – which includes meetings with federal ministers, a gala dinner and an “NWT pavilion” showcasing the territory – will cost approximately $622,000 this year.

That price tag includes $112,000 covering the federal meetings, gala, travel and accommodation for NWT politicians, plus $160,000 to bring visual artists and youth ambassadors to the national capital.

Regular MLAs and business representatives are also taking part in the trip.

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Ramsay, the NWT’s minister of industry, tourism and investment, told the CBC: “I think [the cost] is going to pale in comparison to the money and investment that comes back to the NWT. We should be doing more of it, not less.

“It’s important to attract investment and promote ourselves. No-one is going to do that for us and if you are going to be successful, you have to put your money where your mouth is. Events like this are very important to put the Northwest Territories squarely on the map in Ottawa.”

Ramsay did not give figures for the investment he hoped the trip would generate, arguing many of the benefits could not be quantified.

“A lot of it’s intrinsic,” he said. “We’ve had the opportunity to meet with federal ministers and adjust the priorities of the Northwest Territories. Having us down here as a type of full-court press on Ottawa, on the political scene, helps as well.

“Time will tell if this lobbying was successful for us on a number of key initiatives.”

So far this week, NWT Premier Bob McLeod has met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and announced a year-long study into a potential energy, transportation and communication corridor running from Alberta to the Arctic.

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