by Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services
CAMBRIDGE BAY (Feb 17/97) - At the root of policy debates that begins here today over the shape of the future Nunavut government is one issue dear to the hearts of all politicians -- power.
"It seems like people in the territorial government are reacting to what's going on right now," Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated executive director Alex Campbell said Saturday night. "I hope that doesn't restrict what the Nunavut government will look like."
NTI said as much in its response to Footprints 2, the Nunavut Implementation Commission's (NIC) second major report on the formation of the Nunavut government. The report says government downsizing, privatization and empowerment initiatives "impact heavily on the original design model proposed by NIC."
In an interview Sunday morning, Deputy Premier Goo Arlooktoo (above left) said little to calms those fears.
"Until the Eastern Arctic has elected officials the power will be with the GNWT. We still believe the reductions we are making are to the benefit of both territories. They reduce the debt of both the East and the West."
NIC commissioner Peter Ernerk, however, said he wants to see "a phasing out of GNWT power to the Nunavut government," adding that "a lot of that work will be done by the interim commissioner."
Though responsible for hiring the bureaucracy of a government that will take over in a little more than two years, the interim commissioner has yet to be named.
"We should be in transition mode right now," said Campbell. "We have to fill 150 headquarters staff in the next 24 months -- that in itself is a huge task."
At least as challenging will be convincing GNWT leaders to give up power before their terms are up -- and eastern leaders to wait for it.