Parity paper released
Document to provide unbiased view of gender parity

by Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

NNSL (Apr 21/97) - The official guide to gender parity is being delivered to homes across the Eastern Arctic today.

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and the territorial and federal governments approved the document, which is in the form of an insert in this edition of News/North.

It is designed to inform the citizens of Nunavut of the NIC recommendation to have one man and one woman represent each riding in Nunavut.

Using a question-and-answer format, the four-page insert gives details of the vote and describes what gender parity is and how an election for a gender-equal legislature would work.

The vote will give people of Nunavut a chance to state their opinion on gender parity, but it will be non-binding.

Returning officers will shoulder the main responsibility for making sure voting goes smoothly and counting the ballots.

In all but four communities, senior administrative officers will be serving as returning officers, said deputy chief polling officer Glen McLean.

Though the people of Nunavut will have their say, their say won't be etched in stone.

If the people vote yes to gender parity, the co-operation of the federal government will be required to make the appropriate amendments to the Nunavut Act that sets out the shape of the future territory's government.

"If gender parity is adopted, and the Nunavut Act is amended to allow it to happen, it will be in place for all subsequent elections unless the Nunavut government changes it," explained chief polling officer and legislative assembly clerk David Hamilton.

Once established, Nunavut will have its own elections act, which the government could amend on its own.

"If gender parity doesn't pass, the Nunavut legislature could do it at a later date as well," added Hamilton.

At the February Nunavut leaders' summit in Cambridge Bay, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Ron Irwin said he doubted cabinet would approve gender parity unless it was for a limited time and came with a "sunset clause."

Before the Nunavut caucus insisted on a plebiscite, Irwin and NTI president Jose Kusugak agreed on implementing gender parity for the first two terms of government.

Any system used, including gender parity, could be subject to a constitutional challenge.