Nunavut election to be moved ahead
New legislation to allow elected government to be in place by division
by Jennifer Pritchett
RANKIN INLET (Mar 30/98) - Members of Parliament are expected to vote soon on legislation required to ensure Nunavut has an elected government in time for division.
Amendments to the Nunavut Act, the legislation that founded the territory in 1993, is likely to be tabled in the House of Commons before Easter, according to a GNWT consultant working on division.
"What the bill will allow is to call an election," said Alastair Campbell. "It has to be tabled as soon as possible. They're breaking for Easter and I would hope the bill would be tabled before then."
Campbell said the changes have to be made quickly to ensure there is time before division for enumeration, the hiring of returning officers and other election protocol that has to be maintained.
Current legislation states that Nunavut's first election wouldn't take place until after April 1, 1999.
He expects the election to be moved up to early February 1999.
Campbell said somehow the timing of the region's first election was overlooked when the Act was passed in 1993.
"The priority was to get the act passed," he said. "There wasn't time to discuss the issue and get the act passed quickly."
But Campbell added that Nunavut residents didn't want the new government to be run by a non-elected commissioner after the changeover.
"There would have been no choice but have the commissioner run things -- and I think that's what people found objectionable," he said. "It's just that you would have a new territory, but not an elected democracy, running the government during the early months."
While the Nunavut election is the most significant of the proposed changes to the act, other changes include the number of seats for the Nunavut assembly and other more technical issues, added Campbell.