The Next Inuk Senator…
Submitted by Mary Simon on Thursday, June 25, 2009
On June 22nd 2009, Senator Willie Adams officially retired as the Senator
for Nunavut. By August, when Prime Minister Harper is expected to fill
Senate vacancies, there will be nine empty seats. There is speculation
that Mr. Harper may choose to appoint new Senators along party lines to
bolster support in that chamber for his government's agenda. That is how
it's done in Ottawa, in partisan politics.
The history of politics in the Arctic is a non-partisan one. Our
Legislative Assemblies operate on a consensus basis as opposed to an
adversarial one, and when our people go to the polls there are no party
affiliations found on the ballot.
If you were to walk into the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut you would see
a row of chairs immediately behind the Members seats, only one step above
floor level. These seats are specifically reserved for elders, in all
things, including government, Inuit value the advice of our elders.
If Mr. Harper were to ask me for my advice on the appointment of a Senator
for Nunavut to replace Mr. Adams I would make two suggestions:
1. Look to how Inuit choose to govern ourselves, and
2. Appoint a non-partisan Inuk
There are a great many issues facing the Arctic - housing, education,
language, health care, and mental wellness, to name but a few. And it is
my firm belief that the government of Canada needs the advice, counsel,
and perspective, of an Inuk from Nunavut to help adequately address them.