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Putting up or shutting up

Interest in governance at all-time low 

There was a time, not all that long ago, when getting people out to cast their ballots was the biggest challenge faced in the Kivalliq, and right across Nunavut, during municipal election time in the territory.

These days, the problem is quickly becoming how to find enough warm bodies for people to actually vote for.

The seemingly massive disconnect between the public and any interest whatsoever in grassroots politics is more than a little alarming.

Here in the Kivalliq, Coral Harbour is among five Nunavut communities that will have no municipal elections on Oct. 28.

Eight other Nunavut communities will only have elections for mayor.

Every single candidate who put their name forward in Coral Harbour has been acclaimed. The community will have an entirely acclaimed mayor and hamlet council.

Meanwhile, in Rankin Inlet, only two longtime veterans of the political scene, Harry Towtongie and Levinia Brown, have put their names forward for the mayor’s position, while only one of the confirmed candidates for hamlet council will NOT be elected. One!

In order to fill the council chamber in some communities, the acclaimed members may actually have to appoint councillors from among the community’s registered voters.

They could be calling on people who weren’t interested in running for the position to begin with. That most certainly would not bode well for the dedication, focus and drive of their hamlet council coming out of the gate for what is now a four-year term.

The depth of the problem is further highlighted when one peruses the candidate lists from across the region. Once one removes the names that are almost always on the lists, election in and election out, there is precious little in the way of “new blood” remaining.

This is not a case of voters or potential candidates being disenfranchised from the process. This is the alarming new level of widespread apathy towards government – any government – that grips a sizable chunk of the Canadian populace right now.

Never before in this country have I felt the level of indifference that surrounded our just completed federal election. Other than party diehards, the overall mood of the national electorate was one of forlornness, as people trudged wearily to the ballot box to mark an X in front of the name they perceived to be the lesser of the evils listed before them.

And that’s if they even bothered to cast their vote at all.

These days, with perhaps the exception of the Bloc, people see very little difference between the parties and their mandates.

That indifference is further magnified by the pervasive sentiment of politicians only being out for themselves. They can no longer be trusted or relied upon – if they ever could.

My problem is how many people are currently turned-off by today’s political climate – from 100 Sussex Drive all the way down to the hamlet office – but aren’t willing or interested in stepping up and trying to bring about change.

If you’re concerned about educational issues, run for your local school board or District Education Authority.

If you believe the hamlet could thrive under stronger leadership, get involved. Publicly support the candidate or candidates you see as being best suited for the current political climate, and work to help get them elected.

Or, if you believe you truly have something to offer, declare your candidacy, roll up your sleeves, and get busy at the hard work it takes to enact positive change in a community.

But one thing is for sure: if you’re not the type to run for office, and you decide not to cast your ballot at all, you have earned yourself one thing and one thing only – your silence!

Our system is ailing right now and we all have the same choice. We can choose to be part of the problem or part of the solution.