This is going to be my last column for a while. My first column was sparked by former minister and MLA Michael Miltenberger writing about the next NWT election. I was hoping others would jump in. That didn’t happen. Now some people think NNSL is backing me as a candidate.
That’s wrong for two reasons: NNSL Media has always given Northerners a voice. All are welcome to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboards and join the debate at any time. Founder Jack Sigvaldason saw to that, as did Slave River Journal publisher Don Jaque and Hay River Hub publisher Chris Brodeur.
Secondly, I know there are thousands of newspaper readers. They care about the NWT and its people. It’s a golden audience.
But the rule of thumb is that if one person raises the issue of bias publicly, which has happened, 100 people are talking about it, a thousand are thinking it.
I am not going to feed that fire. I just hope other would-be candidates start communicating their ideas in these pages, even debating.
Apparently, that’s not how we do politics in the North. Candidates fear to speak about the issues until a month before the election, waiting for the legal writ.
This is unlike other parliamentary democracies where political discussion goes on all the time in public, completely covered by all media. Justin Trudeau, Pierre Poilievre, Yves-François Blanchet and Jagmeet Singh are always talking about their ideas. It’s neither aggressive nor bad taste, it’s how our parliamentary democracy works.
I know people like to call what we have a consensus government but calling a ptarmigan a swan doesn’t make it a swan. We have speakers and black robes in the assembly, Robert’s Rules, bills and committees and power concentrated in the cabinet just like Ottawa. Let’s not forget the ‘legal writ’ mentioned above.
I was called out on Facebook for being less than transparent about laying the groundwork for party politics in the NWT. It was a person who knows the North, knows the government and cares about both. I am guilty as charged. We all know the GNWT can do better if given clearer direction and proper resources and a party seems like an answer.
Another answer is a Consensus Coalition of candidates rallying around a platform of Supporting the Communities with Healing, Housing and Education.
The two graphs above show what our lack of political direction has created. The communities with the lowest salaries pay the highest prices. Coincidentally, or not, they are all Dene, Metis and Inuvialuit communities. These are mostly GNWT positions, too.
As someone who ran a NWT-wide business, our profits were healthier when Inuvik, Norman Wells, Fort Simpson, Hay River and Fort Smith bustled with local business. Investing in the communities will profit the regional centers which will, in turn, profit Yellowknife.
We can begin by paying proper salaries in the communities and regions, helping retention of local staff and hopefully, attracting talented immigrants further North. New policies must be carried out by GNWT staff, not at the expense of the GNWT staff. That’s the only status quo that makes sense.
Sorry, slipped into politicking again.
Best if I continue campaigning off these pages and wait for others to jump in.
In the meantime, I invite everybody who cares about the territory and democracy to go to NWT2023.ca and see my stand on the carbon tax.
—Bruce Valpy is a longtime Northerner living in Yellowknife and former publisher/CEO of NNSL Media. He has declared his candidacy to run for MLA in the Oct. 3, 2023 territorial election.