There’s a lot going on in our territorial capital this week during a special sitting of the legislative assembly which began this past Monday, Sept. 21.
The regular spring sitting of the legislative assembly, originally scheduled to run from May 26 to June 4, had been cancelled due to Covid-19, which is the primary topic of discussion this week in Iqaluit.
Two happenings which, at first glance, may seem to have little in common, may, in fact, be a lot more closely connected than the casual observer may realize.
When the travel restrictions were put in place and those of us trying to return home to Nunavut had to quarantine for 14 days in one of the Government of Nunavut’s (GN) selected hub hotels, most of us who have been around the block a few times knew it was only a matter of time before some among us would start being granted special considerations and be given ways around having to quarantine with the rest of us mere common folk.
And if you don’t think it stings and leaves a bad taste in your mouth when politicians are given special considerations for no other reason other than they happen to be elected to their current position, are attending face-to-face meetings (Really? In these technical times?) or they own their own float plane, think again.
Anyone would be hard pressed to find issue with the travel restrictions put in place to keep this virus out of our territory. Closing our borders was the right move and, as they say, the proof is in the pudding in that we remain, for all intents and purposes, free of Covid-19 up to this point.
But that is not the point here.
The point is, except for essential workers (who can’t be found in Nunavut for certain positions), it should be the same rules for everyone, end of story.
In fact, to say a politician is more trustworthy to isolate on his-or-her own and follow the health guidelines in place simply because they are an elected official is simply ludicrous. Ditto a politician’s claim to be concerned about saving the territory money at a hub hotel because they happen to own their own float plane.
So, for the restrictions and health guidelines in place to keep Covid out of our territory, the GN earns an A.
For leading by example and encouraging their fellow Nunavummiut to follow their lead and do the same, the GN earns a great big red F on its Covid report card.
Meanwhile, this past Monday, two new MLAs were welcomed to the legislative assembly; Craig Atangalaaq Simailak from Baker Lake and Calvin Aivgak Pedersen from Kugluktuk.
The two new MLAs share two things in common in connection to their positions: they both replace MLAs who stepped down (Simeon Mikkungwak in Baker and Mila Kamingoak in Kugluktuk) and they were both acclaimed to represent their riding.
The fact both new MLAs were acclaimed to their positions may speak volumes as to how many Nunavummiut are feeling about the present political landscape – a landscape perhaps best summed up by the rock group The Who oh so many years ago, “Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.”
Many today see no real difference between the various politicians and their behaviour once elected, and special privileges being granted our politicians do absolutely nothing to dissuade such thinking.
Nor does it encourage more to get involved and try to make a difference.
A closing shout-out to Rankin Inlet North-Chesterfield Inlet MLA Cathy Towtongie for going on the record to say you can like someone personally, but still think they should have to follow the same rules as everyone else.
Food for thought.