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'I worry that we are returning to the days when Inuit were ignored or taken for granted.'

Nunavut MP no fan of throne speech

By JOHN THOMPSON

Nancy Karetak-Lindell, Nunavut's Liberal member of parliament, says the throne speech read on behalf of the Conservative government last week made her feel like she‘s travelling back in time.

"I worry that we are returning to the days when Inuit were ignored or taken for granted," she said in a press release, "when I listen to wordy speeches about Canada being a northern nation with limitless potential, and there is no involvement of the people, and Ottawa knows what's best for us."

The Arctic received an unusual amount of attention in the throne speech. The housing shortage and calls for further devolution for northern governments had their mention, but the Conservatives' focus is on bolstering Canada's military presence in the Arctic.

Ottawa plans to build a deep-sea port in Nanasivik and an Arctic training base for the military in Resolute Bay, to boost the number of naval patrols of Arctic waters and surveillance flights by military aircraft, and to increase the size and capability of Canadian Rangers.

Much of this is being done to bolster Canada's claim that the Northwest Passage is internal waters, rather than an international waterway, as many countries, including the United States, hold.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has repeatedly said that Canada must "use" the Arctic, through an increased military presence, or "lose" it.

But Karetak-Lindell said it's insulting to Inuit that their "use" of the Canadian Arctic received no mention.

"This gives me the impression that Northerners that currently live there do not count as users and only if the rest of Canada is there, as in the military, that Canada is finally using the North. I take great insult with this line."

Karetak-Lindell recalled how it is only within her lifetime that Inuit have been able to vote.

Much has changed since then, but she suggests the federal government appears at times to forget Inuit are Canadian citizens, given how "the current government just talks of the North in military terms and of exploiting the natural resources."

"I wanted to hear concrete measures to end poverty for aboriginals and children. I wanted to hear how we would effectively combat climate change which is affecting the North in very visible ways right now."

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