NTI organizes formal opposition to GNWT

Saying most NWT MLAs aren’t doing their jobs, NTI says it will create an “Inuit shadow cabinet” to provide a real opposition to the territorial government.


IQALUIT Nunavut Tunngavik’s board of directors wants the eight members of the NWT’s cabinet to start looking over their shoulders at their own shadows.

After getting the okay from delegates at last week’s annual general meeting in Igloolik, Nunavut Tungavik is creating its own opposition to the Government of the Northwest Territories, the kind of opposition that’s usually called “a shadow cabinet.”

Under the plan, each of the eight members of NTI’s executive will be assigned to one of the eight members of the NWT’s cabinet, and will be responsible for “monitoring, criticizing and responding to the actions and statements of each minister of each minister of the GNWT.”

That’s because NTI believes most ordinary MLAs who in theory are supposed to keep the government accountable are not doing their jobs.

“This failing by the ordinary members has left the impression that there is no effective opposition in the legislature,” an NTI news release says. “For the most part, tough questions are not being asked of the ministers, and they are not being held accountable.”

NTI delegates also voted to allocate up to $100,000 for hiring staff or consultants to help the “Inuit shadow cabinet” with its work.

And NTI also says that it and Nunavut’s three regional associations are now spending too much time and money dealing with problems caused for them by the GNWT, and that they need a better way of confronting the GNWT.

“NTI and the regional associations are expending far too much of their resources addressing problems caused by the GNWT,” NTI President Jose Kusugak said in the news release.

“A quick, early and effective response to the GNWT will reduce the overall amount of work required by all parties. Creating this shadow cabinet should make GNWT think twice before making any decisions affecting Nunavut.”

Kusugak says NTI and the regional Inuit associations are the only organizations that are capable of looking after the interests of Nunavut’s Inuit.

“With only 16 months to go, there is a need for a strong voice to defend what will become the Nunavut government in 1999,” NTI’s news release says.

The motion setting up the Inuit shadow cabinet, passed Oct. 31 at last week’s annual general meeting in Igloolik, states that its role is:

To be the voice for all Inuit in relation to the dealings of the GNWT concerning the creation of Nunavut;
To ensure that the GNWT does not make any commitments on behalf of the Nunavut government; and
To provide swift responses to statements, policy changes and requests for proposals, and force the ministers of the GNWT to answer tough and pointed questions concerning their actions.
As of Nunatsiaq News’ press time this week, NTI President Jose Kusugak was at home in bed sick, and could not be reached for comments.

NTI has not yet announced which of its executive members will get what responsibilities in their shadow cabinet.

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