Call me a skeptic if you must, but count me very much among those who think it would be nice to see exactly how the federal government plans to do all the great things it alludes to with its Arctic and Northern Policy Framework finally released on Sept. 10.
And, I’m sure it was mere coincidence the framework was released just as candidates were heading-out on the campaign trail for the upcoming federal election.
I think we can all agree the top elements of addressing health, economic development and infrastructure, followed closely by ending poverty, homelessness and food insecurity, are all necessary initiatives, but they are also massive issues with big price tags. They also come with the need for collective thinking and planning from the ground up, which has often been an issue in its own right when dealing with federal governments of the past.
Look, I get it. It’s campaign-and-election time, which means it’s time to throw some money around and promise salvation at the cost of your vote.
But, really, instead of a road map of the voyage necessary to obtain these objectives, can we not at least see some sort of plan being put in place as to how we’re going to traverse that road, which also serves to narrow the gap between we in the North and our fellow Canadians in the south.
Listing the issues and giving lip service to addressing the problems has been going on with the federal government for decades upon decades with little progress (unless one views Nutrition North Canada as progress, which is a topic for another day) to show for all the rhetoric.
There is not one challenge listed that comes as any surprise to those who actually call Nunavut home, nor is there much about the details (or lack thereof) contained in the Arctic and Northern Policy Framework to make one feel optimistic about coming change and advancement.
Reading the framework reminded me of an evening at the Rankin Inlet community hall years ago when, during a presentation on Nutrition North, cries of “Inuktitut please!” rang out as unilingual elders tried to figure out what the heck was going on, the presenter kept presenting in English, and the interpreter sat in silence staring at his feet and feeling mighty uncomfortable.
You can’t help but feel like screaming, “Yes, but how are you going to do this?” at the pages, as objective after objective is listed with nary a clue on how it might be achieved.
One could almost go back 20 years and read the same outline from a variety of former prime ministers who were also more-than-a-little vague on the details of solving these issues.
And, well, we all know how that’s turned out.
Maybe the answer lies with a round of information-gathering sessions like town hall meetings (yes, I’m being facetious).
Or maybe the forming of a committee to look into food-and-price issues in Nunavut led by a former Bay Boy would help? Wait, that’s been done.
It’s been a long wait since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his gang on the hill promised the new framework shortly after the previous federal election — and it is both deflating and disappointing.
It’s fine for outgoing Iqaluit Mayor Madeleine Redfern to say she’s happy the framework acknowledges the need to include local, territorial, and indigenous governments in making decisions concerning the North, but if we haven’t come to accept that truism by now we are definitely in a world of hurt in the North, with no end in sight.
Of course, all this might prove itself to be nothing more than grist for the mill (minus the useful part) should the Liberals lose the upcoming election.
Hopefully, the next framework from the sitting federal government will contain a few hints as to how it plans to accomplish its goals, rather than just simply regurgitating the same list of well-known issues we have to overcome.
One can but hope…