While the learning curve is starting to get a bit more level, Deputy Premier Diane Thom notes she’s still discovering something new every day.
Wearing four separate hats on top of being the MLA for Inuvik-Boot Lake, Thom was in town Jan. 16-17 for the grand opening of her constituency office at #124 Capital Suites and to update residents on her work in Yellowknife.
“A couple of times I have had the opportunity to chair some cabinet meetings in behalf of the premier when she was unable to make it,” she said. “I’m still doing some of my briefing, it’s very extensive, but every day is a different opportunity, so I’m enjoying the role. It’s very exciting.”
Also serving as the Minister of Health and Social Services, Minister responsible for Status of Women and Minister responsible for Persons with Disabilities, Thom said she’s in the process of budget consulting with the rest of her cabinet and was expecting to spend the better part of February in session.
Except for one week, which has been flagged aside for intergovernmental meetings. Thom noted Premier Caroline Cochrane had not revealed which groups were going to be at those meetings but to make sure cabinet ministers kept their calendars clear. She will also be in session for the better part of March.
Thom also took the occasion to introduce her constituency assistant, Arlene Hansen, who handles the majority of the office communications and fact finding for residents.
“If constituents have issues they want to bring forward, they come to me and I forward it to Diane,” explained Hansen. “I also attend council meetings, inter-agency meetings and such so I can keep her informed on what is going on in the community and if there are any issues coming up she needs to know about.
“My job is to keep her informed what is happening in town.”
Thom noted often times Hansen was a more convenient source for constituents as well when dealing with local issues.
“From my experience, just in the last eight weeks, get through the system a lot faster if they go through Arlene,” said Thom. “She can send concerns to the correct department and follow up. People feel more comfortable coming to me too and that’s fine, but Arlene is way more on top of things than I would be.”
Things aren’t slowing down for Thom any time soon. Noting she was reviewing budget committees, Thom had to be back in Yellowknife for more training Feb. 4.
“If and where possible I will be at home,” said Thom. “My family’s here, my friends are here. My husband’s here. But it’s basically eight weeks of session coming up.
“I want to get out there in communities and listen to people. The residents of the Northwest Territories are expecting a lot from this new assembly and are looking for positive changes.”