Congratulations, Nunavummiut. You did it.
When more than 10,000 of you came out to vote on Feb. 15, you gave Nunavut’s government a degree of political legitimacy that no written document could possibly provide. By showing that you believe in Nunavut, you will make believers out of everyone else.
Few regions in Canada can claim to have ever achieved an 88 per cent voter turnout in an election. In these times of cynicism and disillusionment, few regions can claim to have achieved such faith in government.
You also confounded the predictions of many self-appointed experts when you voted your own way, according to the dictates of your own minds. You defeated several candidates who were supposed to win easily, and you elected several who were supposed to lose.
In doing that you reminded everyone that when confronted by the power of the electorate, humility is always the best policy.
The 19 people you elected on Feb. 15 are not perfect. They are not super-heroes. They are all ordinary people, flawed human beings just like the rest of us. Some may enjoy long distinguished careers in public life, while others may fail miserably.
But because of what you did on Feb. 15, those 19 people now have the toughest jobs in Nunavut. If they cannot perform those jobs to your satisfaction, they will have nowhere to hide. The wise among them already know that. The unwise among them may come to know that only after it’s too late.
Above all else however, those 19 people will need your patience.
It will be several months before Nunavut’s government will actually be able to govern in the full sense of that term. The real government — Nunavut’s premier and cabinet — won’t be selected until March 10-12.
After that, Nunavut’s new cabinet members will have to put several months of hard work into the development of a common vision and a realistic political agenda for the new government.
In doing this, they must be mindful of the limited budget within which they must operate. They must also be mindful of what voters in every community in Nunavut have told them: that housing, jobs and quality health care and education are in short supply.
To carry out their first policies, they will rely upon a half-finished infrastructure and a public service that is still in an early stage of development.
Lastly, they know that whatever they do, they must do it differently than the GNWT, and that somehow they must put a more human, and a more Inuktitut, face on government.
Congratulate yourselves for what you did this week, Nunavummiut. But remember, the 19 MLAs you elected this week will need all the patience and forbearance that you can muster. JB