Gender parity answers coming
Campaign for to plebiscite shaping up to be one-sided affair

by Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

NNSL (Mar 17/97) - Immediate questions about the coming gender-parity plebiscite should all be answered within a week.

The wording of the question to be posed to the people of Nunavut, details of funding for the plebiscite and any information campaigns that may lead up to the vote will be released in the coming weeks, said Val Mellesmoen, press secretary for the office of the premier.

The plebiscite will determine whether or not the each Nunavut riding will be represented by both a man and a woman.

Members of the divisional secretariat are considering a date in late May for the plebiscite, said Mellesmoen.

The campaign to educate Nunavut on the concept of gender parity is shaping up to be a one-sided affair.

In recent weeks, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., the Nunavut Implementation Commission, Pauktuutit and the NWT Status of Women Council have all expressed their support for gender parity.

Pauktuutit went one step further, saying it will be "demanding funding from the GNWT and DIAND to fully participate in any consultations or campaigns leading up to the vote."

Even Nunavut MLAs who insisted on the need for a plebiscite, have not officially opposed gender parity.

The deadline for the drawing of Nunavut's electoral boundaries occurs a month after the anticipated date of the plebiscite.

The Electoral Boundaries Commission is planning a series of public meetings to gather input from Nunavut residents on where the boundaries should be drawn.

"Between now and June 30 we've got a lot of ground to cover, certainly geographically," said commission chair Ted Richard.

Richard, senior NWT Supreme Court Justice, said the commission will definitely be holding meetings in regional centres and will be trying to arrange as many meetings as possible in the smaller communities.

Whether gender parity becomes a reality or not, Nunavut will have more than twice as many MLAs than the 10 who represent it today.

The commission has been directed to draw up two sets of boundaries to account for either possible outcome of the plebiscite.

"The second set of recommendations is a major change," said Richard. "Determining where the 20 to 22 ridings will be is going to take a lot of work and a lot of consultation with the communities."

The commission will notifying the public of scheduling and how to make submissions to commission.