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EDITORIAL: More MLAs the expensive but real path to change

Last week we used this space to counter the idea the NWT needs political parties to break it’s so called deadlock.
Comments and Views from the Inuvik Drum and Letters to the Editor

Last week we used this space to counter the idea the NWT needs political parties to break it’s so called deadlock.

ICYMI, I can summarize political parties are effectively cults with a fancy name. They require their membership adhere to a rigid world view and exclude evidence which challenges said view, ranging from the nonsense over Barack Obama’s birthplace to the Alberta conspiracy theory that equalization payments are a secret scam to steal money and send it to Quebec. Both are pure muskox excrement, but party-loyalists have devoted their entire lives being angry about subjects like these and there’s no way you or I will convince them otherwise. A group of Republicans took this phenomena to violent extremes in the Washington D.C. riots of 2021.

Political parties force humans into “us and them” and any friendliness towards “them” is seen as disloyalty towards “us.” A perfect example of this is the Conservative party’s rhetoric about the “Liberal-NDP coalition”, as if the Conservatives wouldn’t make a deal with another party in a minority government if it enabled them to stay in power. I’ll predict right now when that day in history arrives it will be totally justified by the same people who insisted their opponents doing it was treason.

Simply put, political parties remove the adults from the conversation and replace them with slogans and slander. Hence why western civilization seems to be on the rocks these days.

I suspect what political party enthusiasts are thinking of when they want bring the practice North is the idea of an opposition. In practice, oppositions usually do very little other than scream — and in fairness, the last national opposition to take its job seriously was reduced to third party status the following election, so there’s no real incentive for oppositions to actually do their job properly.

Having glimpsed politics both inside and outside the NWT, I can say the difference is night and day. Say what you will about the NWT Legislature, it at least behaves. There seems to be no desk pounding or ridiculous uses of question period to ask obviously loaded questions like “Why does the Premier hate families?” — a regular type of question in party politics. Instead, the closest we get is Jackie Jacobson getting angry because his constituent is raising a baby in a tent. But in one exchange, a fix was promised. In reality, consensus government gives a far more effective opposition than a political party, as the legislative body can shut cabinet down at any time.

The solution to the NWT’s government issues is more MLAs. At maximum, the number of portfolios a cabinet minister should have is two. The reason nothing in the NWT changes is because elected officials don’t have enough time in four years to learn how to run six different government departments. They inevitably prioritize one and leave the rest to the unelected deputy ministers. The only thing political parties would change is these deputy ministers would inevitably be replaced with party loyalists whenever the government changed hands.

Our legislature currently has 19 MLAs, seven of which make up cabinet. Those seven cabinet ministers are covering 23 separate government departments. So at the very least we need a legislature capable of hosting a cabinet of 20 MLAs. To balance this out, we would need more regular MLAs, likely rounding up to around 30.

Of course, the fatal flaw to this solution is it hinges on Ottawa coughing up money to pay 30 more MLAs to represent less than 50,000 people. So we will likely end up with political parties.

About the Author: Eric Bowling

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