Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Not smooth sailing

I've been a touch reluctant to comment much on the Nunavut election. I don't think it's much of a secret who signs by paychecks and when it comes to discussing matters regarding your employer, even indirectly, in a public forum like a blog, discretion is the better part of valour. Even if I tried to turn this blog into a commercial venture, I don't think I would come anywhere close to my annual income.

But how fortunate I read this story where the premier essentially says it's all right if I want to talk about certain things. It is good because I'd like to discuss how the election is being handled so far.

Let's be kind and say this election hasn't exactly been a model of how to conduct an election. First there was the issue of people forgetting to run in Baffin South, a matter that was fortunately resolved and there's a by-election scheduled for Nov. 3. Apparently it just snuck up on people. Embarrassing, but not too bad. Also the fact that two seats were won by acclamation is one of those things you really wish you wouldn't happen.

Next up is the matter of the mess in the district of Akulliq (made of the communities of Kugaaruk and Repulse Bay) where there's a lawsuit to determine whether or not one of the candidates was been a resident of Nunavut the past 12 months and if he can run in the election. That riding won't have a by-election until the end of November or early December.

And then there's the racket in Iqaluit Centre where Okalik Eegeesiak has been told to suspend her campaign because she hasn't been a resident of Nunavut for the past year. I understand she's appealing that, but right now she's off the ballot and anyone who voted for her in the advanced polls - which were heavily promoted and encouraged for residents to participate in - will have their vote disqualified.

How many ways can you see a lawsuit happening over that ruling? From the candidate who got disqualified? If the election is close, the loser is going to feel pretty miffed that Eegeesiak was allowed in because they might have gotten those votes. And hell, if I was in that district and have voted early - because I was encouraged to do so - and then had my vote disqualified, I might be a bit pissed off as well.

Now if this were an election down south these mistakes would be frustrating, perhaps even comical in the right light, but would present no real lasting harm. However, Nunavut doesn't operate like governments. Those of us who live up here know it's a consensus government. There are no political parties. Once all the districts have selected their MLA, they gather in Iqaluit and vote on who is going to be premier and in the cabinet. Then the premier selection which new cabinet minister gets what portfolio.

For the record, I really like this system. After spending my entire life dealing with party politics, not have to deal with political party bullshit up here is like breathing clean air for the first time in my life. It's luxurious. But it does have one problem. The election is October 27. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe they have to wait until all the by-elections are completed before they can vote on a premier and cabinet minister. Which is fair, for the record. Each community should have their representative there to vote on the cabinet or to have the opportunity to serve in the cabinet.

But it does mean it could be mid-December before we know who our premier and cabinet is. And that's just not right. I understand why it has to happen and why it's only fair. But it does mean there were screw-ups of biblical proportions somewhere along the way. And that maybe, just maybe, someone should take a close look at how on earth all of this could have happened and make sure that in 2012 or 2013 that this doesn't happen again.

I know there's the temptation sometimes when things go wrong up here to just shake your head and mutter "It's the north", but really, these kind of mistakes are not acceptable. It needs to be better.

You know, I had intended to say a few words about the Iqaluit West race, since that's where I live and it's race everybody is watching, but I've gone on a bit too long on this this evening, so I'll do something about it tomorrow.

Last Five
1. Ageless beauty - Stars
2. Higher learning - Sam Roberts
3. Zero down - Sean Panting
4. Hard bargin - Ron Sexsmith
5. Please to meet me - Drive*

No comments: