N.W.T. legislature rejects new ridings

A controversial motion to create two new seats in the Northwest Territories legislature was voted down 9-8 by MLAs Tuesday.

A controversial motion to create two new seats in the legislature of the Northwest Territories was voted down 9-8 by MLAs Tuesday.

An independent commission on electoral boundaries recommended the new ridings for Yellowknife and Behchoko.

After a three-hour debate,MLAs fromYellowknife and Behchoko supported the motion whileMLAs from the smaller communities turned it down.

Dehcho MLA Michael McLeod says the commission's report focused too much on numbers and not enough on fairrepresentation.

"I can't say honestly that I feel I have the same voice as the city of Yellowknife when they have six more members than I do," McLeod said.

"I have one crack at what I'm going to say whereas a larger centre such as Yellowknife can say it seven times in a row."

Yellowknife MLAs argued the issue was not about how voters are represented but whether their vote has equal power.

Great Slave MLA Bill Braden reminded the legislature that the last time Yellowknife voters felt short-changed they took the case to court and won.

"It's perhaps fitting that the voter,the constituent in this case I believe, can and does and may have the last word," Braden said.

The motion would have boosted the number of ridings from 19 to 21.