Well, Halloween has come and gone and — for the history books — there was snow on the ground, but it was not too cold. Halloween is an interesting neighbourhood-type of socializing for parents, kids, and homeowners. I always enjoy seeing the little ones in their costumes, although I do sometimes wonder when it comes to dividing up the spoils, who gets what.
With the territorial election just over a week away, get ready for the campaigning blitz. Elections are also a curious custom we have. I think there should be some tests, contests or public get-togethers to test just how prepared the candidates are.
Who out of all those running can make the best bannock or fried bread with the least mess? Who can catch, clean, and cook a fish the fastest? Who can split a cord of firewood? The wood could come from the dead trees in the green spaces around town and it would be a form of fire smarting the city tends to ignore. Then after the contest, the split wood could be given to Elders, seniors and those who need a little help.
I am sure people can think up some election events that help the communities and showcase the people running for office. Imagine if the candidates all donated their signs and two-by-fours after the election? There would probably be enough lumber to build a one-room bush cabin for one of the homeless people. I always liked the idea of having an all-candidates scavenger hunt at the dump. They could collect a lot of good stuff for local charities.
I think all the candidates should spend a week or so in one of the other communities so they get a better feel for the North and see what the different communities are dealing with and how the GNWT tends to make things overly difficult and complicated. It is difficult dealing with the government even if you live in Yellowknife, but if you are in a community and have a simple question to ask, it can take several expensive phone calls and listening to the misleading recording: “I am in the office but away from my desk, so leave a message.”
What they don’t tell you is it may take days or weeks for the person to get back to their desk.
It would be interesting and fun to have a set of 10 to 20 photographs which the candidates must identify and write a little essay on. Points given if they can identify the place, vegetation, critters, tracks, geology, minerals, flora, and fauna shown in the picture. As an example, I took a picture of the raven tracks and take-off wing print. A raven who was sampling some pumpkin refuse or, as kids like to say, pumpkin guts. Nothing like left over slimy pumpkin guts. Obviously, the raven tried a little but wasn’t all that impressed with it as a meal.
The more a candidate or MLA knows about the North, hopefully the better decisions they will make. It always bothers me a little that there isn’t a big map or diorama in the ledge that gives the politicians a better visual image of the North, the areas or location of the communities and the people that they are discussing or making decisions about.
They should also have advisory groups feeding the government and politicians information — people with expertise in several fields and a good dose of common sense because often we end up with people making decisions who really don’t know much about the matter. They need a lot more information and advice coming in from outside the government and bureaucracy, from folks who may have other skills.
Even though the election is just around the corner, it will take weeks, if not months, to find out who they chose as premier of the NWT and who gets into cabinet. I find that rather unsettling because even though we have a democracy of sorts, we have little or no say in who gets chosen to do what.
That is one aspect of politics in the North I find a little baffling.