New council, new opportunities

by James O'Connor - October 16, 2018

The city woke yesterday morning to the sight of busloads of homeless people being rounded up to be taken to their new home at Bristol Pit.

The former gravel mine on the outskirts of town is the new homeless colony for the city’s disadvantaged as promised in the municipal election under Bob Stewart, the GNWT mandarin turned downtown bar owner who won Monday’s election in a landslide.

“I didn’t like those folks scaring away my customers smoking outside my bar,” bellowed Stewart, over the din of the crowd in his drinks-only establishment.

Before he could continue, I felt the nuzzle of a sweet creature on my neck.

I awoke in a cold sweat, my cat licking my face with its bristly tongue. Time for breakfast she was saying in catspeak.

As I shook the cobwebs from my head I realized I had been dreaming.

In fact, the city’s electorate chose its new mayor and council very wisely.

The new line-up is a nice mix of incumbents and new faces, with the mayor being one Rebecca Alty.

The two-term councillor on leave from her job as manager of communities and communications at Diavik Diamond Mine apparently had the right style and had the right message as she trudged from door to door to door for weeks.

Realtor and two-term councillor Adrian Bell had some amazingly detailed housing and development plans I hope Alty borrows from but I can understand why she was chosen as the second female mayor in the city’s existence.

My only hope is that she was running on a position further to the left than she will govern from. While it’s all fine and dandy to call for more talk, co-operation and inclusion, this city needs some real action now to set it up properly for some rough economic times on the horizon.

We just had two terms of a lefty mayor and tepid council who put off more than they tackled and left the city drifting rather aimlessly. Our editorial today points to some of the issues the new mayor needs to get a strong hand on in short order.

James O’Connor/NNSL photo
Adrian Bell, left, and Rebecca Alty in their former roles as city councillors during a meeting in council chambers in September. Alty handily beat Bell in the municipal election on Oct. 15.

As for the councillors, it’s amazing to see the diverse makeup, both socially and in terms of proper business acumen.

Of those councillor hopefuls who didn’t make the cut, I think Dane Mason or Chris Gillander could have brought some good talent and direction to council. I encourage them to give it a try again in four years (yes, the referendum extending the term one year was also voted in).

And I will get to cover this new council not feeling any personal attachment to any of the elected officials. You see, I took an anachronistic approach to this tilt and didn’t vote.

I’ve decided to become a journalistic traditionalist. In an ideal world, all reporters would be apolitical. They wouldn’t profess their fear or loathing of any leader and would discuss politics in a clinical manner, akin to a political science class.

You wouldn’t really have any idea how they would vote – in fact, many ethical purists in journalism have never voted.

I think some reporters are veering a bit too far away from being independent, unbiased operators delivering the facts and moving into advocacy journalism. To me, that’s a close cousin to fake news, as the audience won’t be getting the full, unfiltered story.

So now, I will have a clear mind. Umm, it feels great. I’ll let my writings speak for themselves through editorials and these columns.

And musing on what could have happened. The aforementioned Stewart did finish third. Albeit a distant, distant third.

BEFORE I GO…

I made a mistake last Thursday at about 5 p.m.

After dealing with some 10,000 words, writing and re-writing endless headlines and designing most of the pages for Friday’s Weekend Yellowknifer – after starting the day at 7 a.m. – I decided I needed to get a bit more hard news in for readers, as the paper was packed full of pre-election stories.

So I grabbed the top couple of paragraphs from one of two court stories I had to choose from and put them at the bottom of a list of briefs on page 3.

However, by condensing a long, complicated and sensitive story to two lines, I made a rookie editor’s mistake. After 35 years in the business, I am doing the hardest job I’ve ever had. I love it but it’s not easy. And I fell short that day.

I apologize to reporter Brendan Burke – a dedicated and talented crime reporter – and to readers who expressed their outrage online in the days that followed publication. I also apologize to the unnamed victim who was sexually assaulted by a creep who received what I determine was too light a jail sentence for his disgusting deed. Enjoy your time behind bars, sex offender.