On the road
Legislative mace travels the territory

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

Rankin Inlet (Feb 28/00) - Tempting fate, playing with fire, Russian Roulette -- just a few of the cliches that come to mind when one thinks of the solution to the Nunavut legislature's most recent conundrum.

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Nunavut's 19 MLAs decided at the end of the last session that it would be a good idea to take the show on the road. Share the wealth, spread the happiness around, that sort of thing.

Decision made, the only thing left to do was make the necessary arrangements which, of course, included replicating the assembly's ceremonial mace.

No problem, right? Wrong.

"It was always in the back of our minds to have a replica made," said John Quirke, the clerk of the legislative assembly.

Plans were made and work on the body double began. But, when the time came to travel to Rankin Inlet for the third session, which began on Feb.17, the stand-in was still shy of completion.

"When we found out it wasn't ready early in February, we had to make alternate plans. We had to bring the real mace and the figurines that support it," he said.

Enter Stephen Innuksuk, the legislative assembly's public affairs officer and the man with nerves of steel.

In charge of sitting beside the estimated $300,000 piece of ornamentation on the flight to Rankin Inlet from Iqaluit, Innuksuk said his travelling companion -- which occupied three window seats in its ever-so-secure and padded box -- didn't even make him a little bit nervous.

"I wasn't worried at all because I was right there the whole time," said Innuksuk.

"I went on the aircraft with it when it was boarded and I carried it out. I wasn't sweating," he added.

Quirke however, wasn't quite so iron-stomached.

"Of course I was nervous. There will always be that sense of nervousness. But that ends when you open it up and everything is fine," said Quirke.

And with the session scheduled to wrap up later this week, Quirke said the next thing was to get the mace home safe and sound -- in cargo this time around -- and to make sure that the legislature's insurance policy was extended to cover the artistic emblem for a total of $500,000.

"Once we get it back to Iqaluit and get it back in its glass case, there will be sighs of relief all over the place."