Thursday, February 22, 2007

Better off where he is

I don't normally pay too much attention to Justin Trudeau. He seems bright enough and hey, he wants to try and do something for his country and I respect that. And today's announcement that he's going to run in Papineau, Quebec at least eliminates the possibility of him doing something fairly stupid which was suggested in the Globe and Mail earlier the week by Aaron Spitzer, that being to run in Nunavut.

I don't talk much about politics in Nunavut and I have good reasons for that. It comes a little too close to my job and I try to keep blogging and my job as separate as possible. Plus, I've only been in Nunavut for 18 months. I have a clue about Nunavut politics, but I am far, far away from being an expert. Still, Spitzer's suggestion that Trudeau run in Nunavut in the next federal election was just so odd that I might have ignored it complete if it hadn't of run in the Globe and Mail.

Here's the thing – yes, the Liberals have won Nunavut in the last several federal elections. But I really don't think the political party made all that much difference in the vote. It was the person who ran that made all the difference. Remember, Nunavut runs on a consensus government. There are no political parties here and the political party infrastructure is kind of weak. It's rather refreshing, actually.

No, from what I've heard and read, it's more important who your family is, what connections you have and where you're located. For example, although Iqaluit is the largest community in the territory by a wide margin, a lot of the candidates in federal elections tend to come from the Kivalliq region (Rankin Inlet, Arviat, Baker Lake, etc). I couldn't tell you exactly why, but that's the way it is. I think four of the five candidates in the last federal election came from that region.

But here's the really important thing. It's more important than political parties, regional politics or the challenges of running a campaign here (during the last election candidates spent about half their campaign budgets on simply trying to travel around the territory). Justin Trudeau is white. Eighty-five per cent of Nunavut is Inuit or, you know, not white. Many Inuit rightly feel that Ottawa is ignoring their concerns as it is so are they going to send another white male, no matter how well connected or well meaning, to Ottawa or are they going to send an Inuit?

Plus, Trudeau might be famous in southern Canada, but I suspect a lot of people in Nunavut wouldn't know or care who he is.

I realize this is a moot point because Trudeau made up his mind. But it's just one of those things that stuck me as such a patently odd suggestion that I had to comment on it. And Spitzer seems to know the North and even worked as an editor in the territory for awhile. I would have thought looking at his resume that he would know a lot more about northern politics than me. I have no idea why he would think Trudeau would even run up here, let alone suggest it's a good idea (for either Trudeau or Nunavut) or that he would have a chance.

But hey, he got published in the Globe and Mail and likely got paid for it, so he's doing better than me in that regard.

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