Nunavut and Nunavik’s top 10 fiascos of 2010

A banner year for failure and incompetence


Reporters who covered the Eastern Arctic last year spent a lot of time chronicling an impressive range of fiascos, boondoggles and public embarrassments.

There’s no doubt about it — in the annals of futility, 2010 was an impressive year.

1. The Nunavut Housing Corp.

Nunavut’s most spectacular fiasco of 2010 didn’t occur, of course, in just one year. It takes years of sustained effort to incinerate more than $110 million worth of public money. But it was in 2010 that this sorry mess came to light, and for that reason the Nunavut Housing Corp. gets first place.

2. Department of Human Resources, Nunavut

As Auditor General Sheila Fraser revealed in 2010, those tireless strivers at the Department of Human Resources continue to contend. It takes them an average of 318 days to fill a vacant job; half of all job competitions fail to find qualified applicants and employee performance, except for the Department of Education, is not evaluated. Naturally, the GN won’t reach its Inuit hiring targets, but you knew that already.

3. Child protection in Nunavut and Nunavik

Thanks to the Quebec Human Rights Commission, we’ve known about Nunavik’s child protection fiasco for years. Now, thanks to legal aid lawyers in the Kitikmeot, we know Nunavut’s system is likely as bad or worse. At the same time, thanks to a decision in court last year, we now know Nunavut’s Child and Family Services Act is in breach of the Charter of Rights — yet another made-in-Nunavut fiasco.

4. The Quebec health system

We actually mean the cluster of Nunavik and Quebec agencies responsible for the Villeray patient home disaster of 2010, but there are too many pompous acronyms to fit inside a simple sentence, let alone a headline. But because of their bungling, the Inuit of Nunavik were deprived of a much-needed health service in Montreal.

5. Natural Resources Canada

The oil, gas and uranium hunters who toil for Natural Resources Canada’s $100 million GEM project rolled along quite nicely until last year. Then they proposed seismic testing, for a couple of days, in Lancaster Sound. Turns out the Government of Canada can’t do what scores of mining companies manage to do every year: consult with communities.

6. Nunavut’s justice and correctional systems

Tony Noakes Jr., Nunavut’s ex-fire marshal, helped bring this fiasco to light last year when he revealed a host of fire safety violations at Nunavut’s grossly overcrowded Baffin Correctional Centre. Naturally, Noakes got booted from his job. Also last year, Justice Robert Kilpatrick helped explain why BCC got overcrowded in the first place. In his urgent request that Ottawa hire two more judges, he pointed out that Nunavut now generates more violent crime than the court system can handle.

7. Paul Kaludjak’s political career

An elected official earning more than $170,000 a year can’t keep his hands off the corporate credit card — a self-inflicted fiasco that speaks for itself.

8. CBC: radio silence in Nunavik

With a referendum on a new form of government and a new provincial development scheme called Plan Nord lurking on the horizon, Nunavik’s need for information is greater than ever. But Canada’s $1.4 billion-a-year national broadcaster still can’t find a way to serve many of the region’s 15 communities.

9. Ottawa’s census fiasco

To create smart policies on housing, job training, education, language and poverty reduction, Nunavut needs good information. Thanks to the Conservative government’s bone-headed decision to drop the long-form census, such information will be much harder to come by in the future.

10. The Clipper Adventurer runs aground

When the cruise ship Clipper Adventurer ran aground this past August, putting the lives of some 200 people at grave risk, the vessel’s operator claimed they hit an “uncharted” hazard. Not so. The rock they hit was charted in 2007.

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