2019 NWT Election – Great Slave MLA candidates

Great Slave MLA Candidates Katrina Nokleby and Patrick Scott
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Moose FM is doing a series of interviews with the MLA candidates in the 16 unacclaimed districts for the upcoming NWT election. Every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from September 16th-26th, two regions will be uploaded to the website to give you the reader, a better idea of what is going on in your district and who may be representing you for the next four years.

Emails were sent out with the questions to every single MLA candidate along with multiple follow up emails reminding the candidates to get back to us. We figured this would be the best way to put out the most amount of information on the candidates as well as best informing you about your districts. If a candidate does not appear in their district’s article, it means they did not get back to us with their answers, something they were notified would happen in the sent emails.

For today, the two regions that will be posted are Great Slave and Yellowknife South. This article will be focused on Great Slave where Glen Abernathy is the incumbent. He was first elected into office during the 2007 territorial election however he did not seek re-election. The two candidates riding are Katrina Nokleby and Patrick Scott.

What made you decide to run?

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Nokleby – Yellowknife is my home and I love the North. I want to ensure that the NWT is on a path towards a sustainable economy while addressing the social issues we are facing. With a strong background in sciences, experience working across the NWT, and my social advocacy background, I will bring a unique skill set to the Legislative Assembly. Through the sciences, I have learned critical thinking, problem-solving, the analyzing of data, and attention to detail.

Scott – I have raised my family in Great Slave, living on School Draw for the last 26 years. The community has been super supportive of my family. I wan tot give back, using my skills, experience, and compassion to ensure my children and grandchildren have a healthy and thriving community in which to build their own futures and homes.

What qualifications do you have to lead your region as MLA?

Nokleby – I’ve volunteered with many organizations during my time in Yellowknife including NAPEG Council, the YWCA-NWT, Girl Guides, and the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies. Being on boards and councils has provided me with valuable tools such as the ability to collaborate well with others; fiscal and budgeting knowledge; and strategic planning. I’m an environmental consultant, working across the territory on a variety of project sites and communities. I’ve worked closely with Indigenous people throughout my career, giving me a deep appreciation and respect for them as I see the struggles the communities are facing and the want for a change.

Scott – I have lived in the NWT since 1975. Through work, I have listened to or worked with people from every community int he NWT. As a CBC employee, I covered the Berger Inquiry, I have covered the Legislative Assembly and community events. I have helped communities reach their goals through my community development work with World Vision Canada, as the Co-manager of the national Indigenous program. I have been a workers’ advisor/advocate for injured workers who struggle to get through the Workers compensation system. I also bring small business experience, having run Birchwood Coffee Ko with my daughter and while living in Ft Simpson, my wife and I ran Traditions Craft and Stationery.

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What is the platform you’re running on?

Nokleby – I believe we need to take a balanced approach to stimulating our lagging resource extraction sector through infrastructure development while combatting social issues such as addictions, homelessness, and family violence. We need to ensure we have both a robust economic framework as well as healthy families in order to bring the territory forward into prosperity.

Scott – We need to make day-care and after-school care affordable and accessible. Significant works needs to be done to improve the morale of workers (and patients) in the new hospital. I also support moving forward with the Polytechnic University, with the development of a new campus in Yellowknife. A university will help create a more diverse but stable economy.  At the same time, we must find ways to enable responsible resource development that keeps workers in the NWT, are ecological sound so that we don’t destroy the very sensitive ecosystem on the long term for a short term gain. I would like to see the rebuild of the visitors become a multipurpose complex that could house not only the visitors centre but have space for an artists workshop facility and possibly a new library.

If there was one issue affecting your region that you would like to change during your term, what would it be and why?

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Nokleby – As Great Slave borders Yellowknife Centre, I believe the situation in the downtown area is one of the biggest issues for residents in my riding. Many have expressed concern for what they believe is a worsening problem and want the 19th Assembly to effect real change in this area.

Scott – The most expressed concern by constituents has been homelessness and downtown violence. We need mental health and rehab programs that are delivered in the North. We need to build some appropriate shelters and have the supports services readily available.

What is your strategy for tackling climate change in the North?

Nokleby – In order to reduce the territory’s diesel dependency, I believe we need to explore more green energy options such as community-specific, hybrid energy installations; district heating systems; and the possible expansion of Talston. We also need to expand our all-weather road system to ensure that our transportation system can withstand future climate uncertainty. Each year our ice roads are becoming more unpredictable and without ice roads, our communities become stranded with the
cost of airfare prohibitive for most residents.

Scott – Climate change requires a variety of initiatives – more education, access to affordable retrofitting programs and renewable energy programs across the North. Develop windmills projects in communities to replace diesel generation. Continue the due diligence work to complete the Talson dam project, ensuring rights holders are collaborators and partners, not adversaries.

What are your current and future plans for the NWT’s mining industry?

Nokleby – Mining is over 30% of our GDP and with the diamond mines set to close within the decade, we need to act now to stimulate exploration. Exploration companies say mining companies aren’t interested in the NWT because they have green energy mandates for their mines. When all we have to offer is diesel operations, exploration companies can’t sell their finds. We need to remember we are competing for mining dollars in a global economy and must make an investment here enticing. This could be done by investing in infrastructure such as all-weather roads to reduce shipping costs and green energy sources.

Scott – Mining has always been an important part of our economy. That must continue but with ecologically balanced approaches. Transportation methods must be considered carefully through strategic assessments that look at total impacts. Increased collaboration with Northern stakeholders to strengthen benefits to the North, including training initiatives through an organization like the Mine Training society. Ensuring mine workers live in the North to increase revenues for the North and reduce the carbon footprints of mines.

The cost of living is a common issue in the NWT, how do you think the territory should approach the issue?

Nokleby – We need to work on building our economy and implementing more efficient energy systems so that we can reduce the cost of living and power for citizens. We should increase funding for greenhouses, agriculture, and country food programs to deal with food security issues. We should also incentivize homeownership by offering grants or subsidies to first-time homeowners and increase funding to organizations such as the Arctic Energy Alliance that aid homeowners in operating their homes more efficiently.

Scott – I suggest we look at a number of issues. Power rates could be equalized for small business with domestic rates. Some type of rent management or controls. Affordable daycare. We could look at a rebate on the transportation of building materials for retrofitting and rebates for low and middle-income families on the carbon tax for home heating fuel.

With the population of NWT continuing to shrink, what ideas do you have to combat it?

Nokleby – I think a Polytechnic University would be a great way to attract new people to the territory. We have amazing talent in the NWT and could become a world-class leader in climate change and permafrost research. Upon graduation it’s likely many of these students would stay in the territory and continue with their research and work, increasing the number of transfer payments from the federal government. Students from the University would be a potential labour pool to work lower-paying, service sector jobs that are currently understaffed.

Scott – First, create obligations on resource development companies to have the employees live in the North. Provide free tuition to Northern post-secondary students attending institutions in the NWT and improve tourism infrastructure so that industry grows, creating additional employment. Complete the outstanding rights agreements so those governments are developing and investing in the North.

How would you improve post-secondary education in the North, and is a Polytechnic university a good start?

Nokleby – I believe there are fundamental issues with our education system that need to be addressed before northern students can even consider post-secondary education. Graduation rates across the territory continue to be low and many students are unable to meet post-secondary requirements even with a high school diploma. MLAs must strike a special committee consisting of Members and Ministers and subject matter experts early in the next Assembly to review early childhood development programs as well as Junior Kindergarten. There must be a focus on coming up with real and meaningful recommendations for improving outcomes for children across the NWT.

Scott – Proceed with the Polytechnic, getting a campus designed and developing appropriate Northern related programs, including the Arts.

What support systems do you want to implement to make sure Indigenous communities are not left behind?

Nokleby – I think the GNWT needs to listen more than it speaks when it comes to Indigenous communities. There seems to be a real disconnect between the government and the Indigenous people of this territory and we need to move away from the colonial approach I often see. I have been told when working in the communities that people don’t feel that they are heard. I would work hard to be a bridge-builder and advocate for the Indigenous people of this territory, rather than speak for them.

Scott – Collaborate with Indigenous governments and where GNWT has funding obligations commit to adequate funding, especially for community governments.

Is there any infrastructure aspects of your region that you would like to see improved upon?

Nokleby – The proposed Con Mine boat launch to replace the one adjacent the Giant Mine Remediation Project would fall within the boundaries of the Great Slave riding. I would work to ensure that constituents of my riding had a say in its development and that impacts to residents such as increased vehicular traffic would be minimized.

Scott – Infrastructure developments have positive domino effects. A new visitor’s centre couple with community facilities like a library and artist workshop. Get an MRI at the new hospital through targeted fundraising program with matching funding from GNWT.

What are your priorities in terms of health care in the NWT?

Nokleby – We are one of the only jurisdictions in this country that ships some of our most vulnerable citizens, who are struggling with mental health and addictions, to other parts of Canada. The Northwest Territories has no comprehensive relapse prevention program. If elected I will advocate for a review of current practices and work towards change for the better. We need to engage front line workers and those administering policies for their input as to how to serve our vulnerable citizens better. Ultimately, I would like to see a treatment center in the NWT including aftercare programs and family trauma counselling.

Scott – Looking at the Quebec model of universal daycare could help create an action plan for more spaces and accessible training. There are many health concerns that need immediate attention, including access to long term family doctors, recruiting, retaining and training health care professionals.  Break the silos within the medical system so patients getting more continuity of care, requiring less advocacy. Bring traditional medicine and naturopathy care respectfully into the system so it is easier to access different types of treatment.

How would you confront substance abuse in the NWT?

Nokleby – We need to implement aftercare and trauma counselling programs in order to deal with the root issues causing addictions. It appears that we currently just detox people, sending them back to the same set of circumstances that lead them to abuse alcohol or drugs in the first place. We can’t expect people to remain sober if we don’t address the trauma they have endured. We also need to ensure there are sober activities and programs offered to give people an alternative way to socialize rather than getting high or drunk.

Scott – Re-open the treatments centres we have closed in the last 10 years. Development of mental health programs for all ages. Create family care and parenting workshops as a preventive measure.

What ideas would you put forward to expand our region’s commercial district?

Nokleby – We have amazing talent here and should work to assist artisans in getting their wares to market, perhaps by subsidizing shipping costs or providing business and accounting training. The GNWT should also evaluate its policies when it comes to payment of its small vendors. Many businesses in the NWT cannot wait extended periods of time in order to be paid for the work they do for the GNWT. This lag in payment causes an unnecessary hardship for northern businesses who may not have the backing of a large southern company with other revenues to cover the deficit until payment.

Scott – The City of Yellowknife has asked for the transfer of Commissioners land to the City. I support having block transfers completed with full consultation and collaboration with the Indigenous land rights holders, who have outstanding claims. Respecting their rights is an important part of our interest to move towards full reconciliation of past negligence.

The two districts that will be featured tomorrow are Kam Lake and Yellowknife Centre.

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