In response to a guest column today which suggested that the heading of a previous column titled “Down with Nokleby” was misstated, the author of that column is right.  I would never choose a headline like that. I missed it when the column was shown to me and it was changed online when I commented. It was an oversight. While I am strong in my statements, I try not to be hurtful and accept editorial suggestions.

I feel the role of columnists is to make people think.

However, Meryln Williams was right when he said that I was questioning a style of government in which the voices of standing MLAs are often not heard, and worse, ignored. Indeed, this was the very point of the column which I am glad he understood.

It is not the first time consensus government used by the NWT has been questioned and certainly will not be the last as the issues we deal with along with the world we live in become more complex. You know you’re in trouble when you live in a place where the former premier says all you need is two or three cabinet members to side with you on an issue and you can pretty much push anything through. That is not consensus and I see no difference in the way this cabinet is functioning. They do follow cabinet solidarity which is not democracy where all voters, thus all MLAs, are equal.

Vitally important points were missed in the assessment of the column and since there are so many serious situations going on in the world, I’m not sure why I am taking the time to respond either. But as someone dedicated to protecting the environment, I will voice my opposition to anything or anyone who I think might cause it more harm.

For example, we know that the caribou are on the verge of extinction mostly as a result of human activity which largely includes mining and all the roads needed to move people and equipment into those sites. We know that building the Taltson hydro link will require numerous temporary and permanent roads both during and after construction and that it will, once again, threaten the migratory pattern of the caribou. Instead of protecting habitat, thus making the territories more attractive to tourists and other outdoor enthusiasts, we destroy more precious pieces of it. We opted to shoot the wolves.

Williams’ suggestion that the Taltson and other large-scale infrastructure projects such as the road going into Nunavut, which have been questioned is well within the framework of this government begs the question – Why? – when it is being shown so clearly that they are not economically or environmentally viable.

During this time of climate change where our every move has to be questioned against its environmental impact strongly brings both of these projects into question since, for example, an estimated 85 per cent of the energy produced will be used to feed the mines. Not the residents of the NWT, but the mines and at a time when the future of mining is up for debate. We understand that it was probably a more popular way to provide revenue and jobs in Williams’ time but not now. We must go green. As mentioned before, there were reasons why Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the leaders of the provinces and territories to address his key concern — climate change. It’s killing us and it’s time for a change.

Further, Mr. Williams, misses the point about the ITI minister attending the mining conference in Ontario, the geoscience fair in Yellowknife last fall where the virtues of Taltson were extolled or when the minister along with more than 15 other government personnel took part in the $300,000 annual trip to the AME mining expo in Vancouver in January.

There were several climate change rallies since last fall’s election, some of which were hosted in front of the legislature. While some regular MLAs attended, none of the cabinet members did. This, I repeat, speaks volumes. I stand by what I wrote.

Finally, again, many are saying that this pandemic is another example of the human species pushing too hard against nature. It doesn’t matter if it was in a wet market or a lab, humans are increasingly going where they are not meant to be. This was the third pandemic in 20 years and if we don’t find a new norm more compatible with nature, we can probably expect another soon.

I’m glad you signed that petition Mr. Williams. I really am but to me, it only tells me you and many others have some homework to do. Mining has served a purpose that is undergoing change. It had its day and what its new day will look like during this time of climate change we do not know.

We only know that monitoring our environmental footprint is the most important action we have to take if we want to leave anything for the next generation. I truly hope you are setting an example by monitoring yours, too.

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