Monday, January 19, 1998
A unified front

A scant few months ago, a whispering campaign had Nunavut's Interim Commissioner Jack Anawak on the ropes.

He and his office were accused of being hopelessly behind in schedules and critically ill-equipped to put a Nunavut government in place by 1999.

Last week there was a meeting of all parties -- the federal and territorial governments, Nunavut Tunngavik, Nunavut Implementation Commission -- and Anawak himself. The outcome of the closed-door meetings was a unified front and a sweeping endorsement of the interim commissioner's office.

Each participant, from federal minister Jane Stewart to NTI president Jose Kusugak, expressed satisfaction with Anawak and his office.

The tone of the formal statements from all the leaders was of cautious optimism, signalling a realization that what had been envisioned as acceptable progress to a Nunavut government a year ago is no longer achievable.

This new grasp of reality should take the pressure off Anawak to come up with magic solutions to very complex bureaucratic problems made even more difficult by the great weight of regional, territorial and federal politics.

The unified "public" statements also lock the leaders into shared responsibility for the failures and successes to come. No one party, for a while at least, will be able to backtrack and criticize other parties without damaging their own credibility.

There are bound to be further revisions of the original plans, timetables and goals. There will be many more compromises to come. Such an approach will prove to be the true process for building the new Nunavut government. Any other approach is doomed to failure.

One vote is enough

In pursuit of a constitution for the western Northwest Territories, the working group charged with that responsibility has been pursuing people's opinions. Certainly their town meetings have provided a forum for people to express their thoughts, doubts and hopes.

In light of that, there is ample opportunity for the NWT Association of Municipalities to make its members' positions clear. There is, however, no need for them to have a vote.

As work on the constitutional proposals creeps along, we'll get our say. And in the end, we'll all get our vote on the matter. Things are moving slowly enough as it is; another vote at the table at this point seems redundant.

Words of integrity

In Paris, the self-appointed guardians of the French language, frequently bemoan the intrusion of English words into common French vocabulary. "Le hotdog," is a commonly cited example of the corruption of the language.

Many other tongues around the world are suffering the same fate. Except for two: English, which counts its ability to swallow foreign words; and Inuktitut, which is trying hard not to incorporate English as it evolves into a working language for a new territory.

It won't be easy, but if our interpreters and translators are up to the task, it will be a worthwhile one. In language is preserved a culture. One cannot be pure without the other.