Nunatsiaq Online
LETTERS: Nunavut October 11, 2017 - 11:30 am

The consensus style of government can work

"The biggest flaw in this style of governance is the inability to form a strong team"

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
Can Nunavut's consensus style of government be made to work?
Can Nunavut's consensus style of government be made to work?

The Nunavut legislative assembly uses a consensus style of governance. It was created because that was thought to be how Inuit governed themselves.

The biggest flaw in this style of governance is the inability to form a strong team.

The consensus style of government can work if the regular MLAs form a coalition and strategize better. They need better strategies to make the ministers accountable by not giving up with an issue.

It’s true they are elected as Independents. It’s very easy in this style of government to be a lone ranger and get credit for your name being in the media more than others. But the credit is for your own selfish gain as a politician and not for the territory’s needs.

There is a need for a regular caucus meeting to happen right at the beginning of the new government to decide what each person wants for their ridings. They need to coordinate those issues and come up with a plan to get them done during the life of the government. 

When the minister repeatedly gets the same questions in the House about the same issue, the deputy and the staff have no choice but to make something happen or fix a problem.

If the minister has good staff that can think outside the box, they will get something done. 

The Inuit politicians give up too easily after one or two questions. Most Nunavut politicians need to get more aggressive, to get any government to move. Keep the issue alive until something is moved within the department.

The regular members can strategize and make the minister “feel the pain” to get something done. Northern media also has a part in this. 

For a good example: Alex Sammurtok, for most of the life of the last legislative assembly, kept hammering away about elders and an elder care facility. The other members never came on board with him to hammer and keep hammering, even though they too have elders who need this care very much. 

Housing? Who was the champion of that?

Mental health? Who was the champion of that? 

Too often, regular members just have their own little world and fight for their own little issues. If they could coordinate and strategize a plan before they go to the legislative assembly, there wouldn’t be so much of this “thank you for that question.”

Minority governments can work very well. This forces the ruling party to listen and bend sometimes to make sure they are kept alive as a government. 

The consensus style of government is a minority government. The regular MLAs have the power to make changes if they can form a coalition. 

The Inuit mind-set is our biggest hindrance to maturity in politics, such as thinking a person in politics is being attacked as an individual and feeling sorry for that person in a public office.

When we put ourselves out to run in a political office, we become public property. Too many “Inuit” politicians use this “pity me” attitude for elders and others to keep their position as an elected official. There has been too much of that from our politicians.

The biggest flaw of any politician is not being able to strategize and plan on how to get it done.

It’s the best kind of “hockey” game. You can get things done faster if you can strategize and move as a team.

The Nunavut government is a public government guided by the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. The public government is the guest of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. The land claims agreement is not a suggestion for the Nunavut government.  

The last few Nunavut governments have lost the vision of Nunavut when it was first being formed. Inuit wanted Nunavut for a better government, but this Nunavut government over the years no longer has the Inuit spirit living in it. 
 
We need political leaders who can read the political environment and also know how to work it so that Nunavut can be what it was meant to be.

(Name withheld by request)
Ottawa

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(8) Comments:

#1. Posted by Free on October 11, 2017

“The consensus style of government can work if the regular MLAs form a coalition and strategize better. They need better strategies to make the ministers accountable by not giving up with an issue.”

Sounds like the beginning of a party system - and I totally agree that it is needed… Political parties do so much… and I think number one is they do the political research needed to keep the bureaucrats in line… Otherwise the bureaucrats control the elected officials, like we see so often today in Nunavut

#2. Posted by Eelata on October 11, 2017

Well said.  Now move back to Nunavut so that we may have the choice to elect you into office!

#3. Posted by Observer on October 11, 2017

“The Inuit mind-set is our biggest hindrance to maturity in politics, such as thinking a person in politics is being attacked as an individual and feeling sorry for that person in a public office.”

“but this Nunavut government over the years no longer has the Inuit spirit living in it”

So which is it? You want the government to be “more Inuit”, but the Inuit politicians “Less Inuit”?

#4. Posted by strong Inuit on October 11, 2017

#3 at the beginning in the Government of Nunavut, Inuit were not taught or trained.  What developed over the past 17+ years is a mindset that needs to be redeveloped back into the Inuit spirit under the vision of Nunavut.

#5. Posted by Curious Kat on October 11, 2017

#4 Can you explain what you mean by an “Inuit mindset” and how that would facilitate the realization of the “vision of Nunavut”?

#6. Posted by Janeinuk on October 11, 2017

It is a misnomer that Nunavut has a consensus form of Government. Case in point the failed Education Act. Nunavut government is based on majority vote. That is how MLAs are elected. That is how bills are passed, by majority vote. Nunavut does not have a party system, but it should- may just be better to hold politicians more accountable. By the way Cuba has a consensus system. Everyone votes the same way-that is the definition of consensus.

#7. Posted by monty sling on October 12, 2017

#3, just let us be, we have been governed by other for the past 1200 yrs or so….you just couldn’t come up with words like; fr…..g culture? i am damn proud of consensus government, my fore-fathers from my parents and back in eons has been living in cohesiveness in consensus until you came along. we can screw up our society all by our lonesome if we want too, so let us be…thank you very much. I hear Venezuela is going for one man boss, you night want to visit that country.

#8. Posted by learning from mistakes on October 12, 2017

#5 Inuit Leaders were not properly taught and trained to take charge of the Government of Nunavut as was the original decision and agreed upon by the Federal Government of the day.  What did develop was a mindset based on improper teaching and training.  Confusion, illusion and conflict broke apart the vision of Nunavut. 

Inuit spirit is alive and the vision of Nunavut is not lost.

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