Just before Christmas, we happened to be speaking to a communications person with a GNWT department about hopefully getting a comment or two from a new cabinet minister.

As is often the case with any cabinet, the minister was not available.

However, we happened to mention in passing that we had never met or even talked to the minister, which led to a suggestion that perhaps she could meet The Hub for a coffee when she visited Hay River. (We hate the taste of coffee, but we enthusiastically agreed to the idea, anyway.)

That got us to thinking that we had actually never met the majority of the new cabinet. If most of the new ministers did visit Hay River, we could walk by them on Courtoreille Street and not have any idea who they are.

Of the seven members of cabinet, we have spoken to just two of them. Of course, we have talked to Hay River North MLA R.J. Simpson many times. Of the others, we have briefly chatted with Shane Thompson, probably about the weather.

And we heard Premier Caroline Cochrane speak a couple of times in Hay River when she was a minister. However, we can’t remember ever really talking to her about anything, not even the weather.

So we have met only two of the new cabinet members, and heard another speak in person.

The four others are mysteries to us, which we have to admit is not very good.

We wonder if the new cabinet members are even more of a mystery to members of the public, who are not in the news media.

Of course, we assume that all the new ministers are well known in their own communities or regions, otherwise we can’t see how they could have been elected to serve as MLAs.

That’s fine, but they now don’t just represent their own constituents. As ministers, they have to represent everybody in the Northwest Territories.

Premier Caroline Cochrane. NNSL photo.

Since we don’t know them, we also have to wonder how well they know us – the people who live in all of the NWT.

Therefore, we would like to propose a New Year’s resolution for the new cabinet.

Our own resolutions – whether to quit smoking or get in shape – invariably end up as dismal failures. So we figure it would be much easier to make a New Year’s resolution for someone else.

The resolution would be for cabinet to visit each regional centre of the NWT and as many other communities as they can – including Hay River, of course – to simply meet people and hear their concerns, and basically introduce themselves.

Actually, such a New Year’s resolution is not even an original idea.

In September of 2016, former Premier Bob McLeod and his whole cabinet visited Hay River for what was called a meet-and-greet attended by about 100 residents – the first meeting of its kind in the community.

McLeod had committed to holding such open houses with cabinet in each region of the NWT.

That was a good idea then, and we think it would be an even better idea now.

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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