Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I am still a little perplexed by what happened last evening at the community hall.

The public meeting with four provincial ministers was advertised for 7, on arrival outside the hall I was encouraged to see a large contingent of ski doos parked all over the place. Perhaps there is a growing interest in what is going on I thought.

Once inside the porch and glancing into the hall I was greeted with the sight of lots of people and a large projection screen at the front of the hall with the name of a mining company with views of developing a uranium mine near Postville.

“WTF is this” I asked the assistant to our MHA who was standing near the door. “Dunno” was the reply, “but they are just finishing up”.

The finishing up was the traditional [for this company] drawing for door prizes.

Some of the folk then left quietly but many remained for the ministers meet and greet which turned into a more community style meeting with the ministers up front and the audience seated and standing around the room.

After brief introductions and speeches from each minister the floor was open for questions. Silence erupted.

Then the AngajukKak/mayor asked, “Where is our new airstrip”. “Ha ha ha’s” all round at the head table.

“Seriously” said the mayor.

I won’t go into to what next transpired, except to refer you to my previous post.

Next question/questions from a quietly spoken woman who works at the woman’s shelter.

I had trouble picking up some of the discourse between the woman and our MHA, both are low speakers and my hearing could be better for sure. The gist of the questions were something like; concern for the elderly and sick who have no transport to get around town and to medical appointments and to and from the airstrip.

Concern was expressed that there is no shelter or a place for young people to go to when parents are in a domestic abuse situation or just plan drinking all out. With a place for woman to go for shelter and help there is no place to cater for the kids late at night or early morning.

The price of food is very high, the woman said she has trouble purchasing the basics and she has a job, so she felt it would be doubly difficult for fixed and low income people.

The first two questions seemed to catch the four ministers by surprise, some mumblings I did not pick up and referring the woman to the mayor on one issue and the MHA would talk to the lady later on the other.

The price of food question threw any pretence of silence out the window. Nothing was said that has not been said umpteen times on marine shipping [note: that does not address all the reasons for high prices] by both community and government members.

Several retailers gave reasons why the way marine transport is run adds at least 2% to the purchase price. These are all well known and have been constantly pointed out to government.

Several other residents expressed their opinions on any future configurations and what type of vessels required and who should operate them.

Now I am a great advocate of public forums adding greatly to the democratic process, but when they occur once every two or three years it just does not cut it for me personally. There are just too many issues to deal with in a two to three hour meeting. So I departed just after 8 o’clock and headed for home.

One more thing to add; our MHA talked about how she constantly is pointing out to her fellow cabinet member’s issues and concerns pertaining to the peoples of Torngat Mountains. Her fellow cabinet members confirmed this.

I have no reason to doubt that this is so, but the question that comes out of that is; if our member is constantly badgering fellow cabinet members then what does it say about the attitudes of this government towards the North Coast of Labrador considering the deteriorating state of the marine transport for just one case in point.

The minister of transport assured all that things will improve while maintaining the status quo re vessels and operators for next year.

I have since leaned that the meeting wrapped up about 10 PM. The hydro billing issue was raised by a few people.

Yesterday afternoon I managed to make contact with Bill Nippard the manager for Hydro in Labrador.

We had an amicable conversation, albeit a disappointing one from my point of view. Mr. Nippard admitted that Hydro was remiss in not supplying a meter reader in the afore mentioned post. He also admitted that Hydro had not kept its promise of more open and informative communication with the community. Mr. Nippard did not agree with my suggestion that an apology for the latest high January hydro bills should be communicated to the residence of Nain. His rational for that was reasonable from Hydros accounts receivable point of view but not reasonable from a customer relations point of view.

So where to go from here? Our MHA knows about the situation so I await any outcome from that end.

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