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Cambridge Bay meeting gets a “3” rating

A GNWT-dominated leaders’ meeting on Nunavut in Cambridge Bay last weekend failed to live up to its billing. But leaders did agree to hold a plebiscite on the NIC’s two-member constituency proposal.

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

ANNETTE BOURGEOIS

What was touted to be one of the most important meetings on the road to Nunavut was given a mere “3” rating this week by Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated President Jose Kusugak.

Kusugak said that although 90 per cent of the issues were resolved at the Decisions ’97 Nunavut Leaders’ Summit in Cambridge Bay last weekend, stumbling blocks on the issues of dual member constituencies and gender parity caused frustration and stalled talks.

Indians Affairs and Northern Development Minister Ron Irwin attended the GNWT-hosted meeting, along with members of NTI, the Nunavut Implementation Commission, MLAs in the Nunavut caucus, and a number of Inuit association officials from across Nunavut.

GNWT squashesNIC

Kusugak said discussion was dictated by the hosts, who restricted the amount of input, especially, he pointed out, by one of the major players in the process, theNIC.

“It was at their (GNWT) whim who could talk,” said Kusugak at a press conference following the two-day meeting. “NIC was left out.”

The meeting also fell short of NIC Chief Commissioner John Amagoalik’s expectations.

“We are, of course, pleased that there is a solid consensus to implement the NIC design model for the Nunavut Government, as outlined in out Footprints reports,” Amagoalik said.

“On the other hand, we had hoped for clear and positive decisions about a number of other key matters, particularly guaranteeing equal numbers of male and famale MLAs in the first Nunavut legislative assembly.”

GNWT opposed to gender parity

Though gender parity was an unresolved issue by the end of the meeting, leaders did reach consensus on a number of other issues.

Although the GNWT remained opposed to the idea of gender parity, by the close of the meeting Monday, leaders agreed the issue of gender parity would be decided by a plebiscite.

A directly-elected premier

They agreed Nunavut residents will vote directly for their premier, that there will be at least 20 MLAs in the Nunavut asembly, and and a Nunavut territorial election will be held in early 1999.

Both NIC and NTI had originally recommended that the first Nunavut premier be chosen in the same way current premiers of the GNWT are chosen – with elected MLAs picking one of their own as premier.

Irwin argued, however, that the position should be elected, not appointed, and after some debate, other leaders took on that position.

Agreement on the number of seats in the legislative assembly was also an issue that required some compromise.

NTI originally wanted a boundaries bommission to develop a plan based on between 18 and 24 MLAs. The NIC recommended that the assembly have between 20 and 22 seats.

That recommendation was accepted by the GNWT and the federal government and NTI conceded the point. Irwin agreed the federal government would cover the cost of 22 MLAs, twice the current number representing the Nunavut area.

But when it came to deciding whether half of those seats will be earmarked for women under NIC’s gender parity recommendation, the GNWT wouldn’t budge on its opposition.

There was also agreement among leaders that Irwin seek amendments to the Nunavut Act through Parliament. That act needs to be changed in order to reflect decisions made at the meeting.

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