The 10-point plan

Reader asks...

Did you see this release. More politicians in Nunavut should outline their plans like this. Tagak's proposal for a breakfast program for kids in school is a good idea. What do you think?

First off, let me say how HONOURED I am to have been selected to air my thoughts on this issue. For you, anonymous, to have chosen this lowly blogger to analyze a Nunavut politician's 10-point plan is... well... clearly demonstrative of how far I've gone in the blogging world.

Ok. It's probably not so much as all that.

But to answer your question.

I have it on pretty good authority (aka, fellow CBC journalist who interviewed Tagak) that the REASON he put out that 10-point plan, is because he's eyeing the premier's chair. It's not an everyday run-of-the-mill platform. However, I do agree that it would be nice if Nunavut politicians vying for a seat in the legislature would do something like this. It's the one major disadvantages of non-party politics: you are less likely to know SPECIFICALLY what a candidate's priorities are.

Over the past couple weeks I've done my share of interviews with politicians. And while generally I'd abhor the whole idea of MEDIA TRAINING (nothing worse than scripted answers) there's something to be said for focused speaking points.

So I'm going to respond to each of the points in turn. I'm going to do my best to NOT do additional research into them... so the opinions I present (because that's what you asked for, after all) are my own - and may very well be misinformed. But so be it.

**please note, I am not providing the following perspective on behalf, or in association with the CBC. I am also not providing the following analysis as a reflection of Tagak Curley as a person, nor a politician. I am examining a list of priorities, nothing else.**

1. Breakfast program:
Sure, why not. Breakfast is good. There's a breakfast program (maybe at the youth center) that operates out of Rankin. People generally say that kids having breakfast is key to their learning ability etc. I don't know if there's any truth to that, but I do have to wonder why Mr. Curley found this SO important so that it might be number one on his list of priorities.

2. Medical services and travel:
Agreed. This has been an issue for many MLA-hopefuls. The recent rejig of the airline services in the north is largely due (according to the airlines) to the way the medical travel contract was awarded. I've also heard horror stories about the recovery centre in Winnipeg.

3. Housing: I often hear of the housing crisis in Iqaluit. And I've seen it first-hand: friends having to leave town because they've ended a relationship and have no where to live, or can't afford to live by themselves. What I do find curious is Curley says "housing units" but doesn't specify if they should be "affordable" or not.

4. Inuit training/employment: This is going to be necessary if they plan on making the GN's primary language of work Inuktitut in less than 3 years.

5. Government contracts use local resources:
If the GN's purpose is to promote a self-sustainable territory... this is a must. But a lot of "local" companies have non-local partnerships - either as a financial base, or because they need equipment/monetary support to bid on the projects.

6. More roads/harbours -
Curley doesn't say if he means more roads WITHIN or BETWEEN communities. It would be nice to be connected to "civilization" but that Manitoba Road seems awful far off ... and the harbour bit rings a bit of Harper's pledge. Maybe he sees a closer partnership between the GN and the feds?

7. Cargo/food mail -
the food mail program works. But it doesn't reach who it needs to. This has been one of the major glitches of the program. How do you help unilingual people make food mail orders? And many Inuit don't have credit cards... so how do they pay? So a proactive approach to solve those problems is a positive thing, in my opinion... because

8. Local courts -
YES. I've sat through weeks of the Nunavut Court of Justice sessions here in Rankin and thought to myself "there's got to be a better way." I know of one person in particular who has been waiting 14 months for a trial date... and still has no idea when it's going to be. In my opinion, it would be useful to have a mini-Nunavut Court of Justice in each of the regional 'capitals.' These satellite offices could alleviate some of the pressure on the court system, and could deal with Justice of the Peace court ... and still have the judges travel around every couple months to deal with the more serious issues.

9. More police -
Does anyone remember the "more police, more crime" bit from Freakonomics? I know that's not Curley's point. And I personally think that all communities should have enough officers in all communities so that NO ONE is in the situation where they would have to answer a call alone. We've seen enough tragedy in the north. Also, especially in the case of Rankin Inlet, what about local recruitment and retention? We used to have two bilingual officers here in Rankin. Now we have none.

10. Rely more on IQ for hunting regulations -
This one harkens of the Kivalliq Wildlife Board/ Nunavut Wildlife Management Board/ Government of Nunavut / polar bear quota issue. Traditional knowledge and scientific knowledge are typically at odds. This is yet another instance where if the territory's goal is to become a segregated, isolated part of Canada, then it can go ahead and dismiss "conventional" science. I'm not saying traditional knowledge should be ignored, but the two sides have to come to some sort of understanding... and that's not something we see in the territory right now.

Pheuf! Okay, well that was tiring. Making thoughtful responses to a politician's platform is exhausting. Here's hoping it won't catch on...

Thanks for your question, Anonymous.


Anonymous October 29, 2008 at 12:10 PM  

This is great, great stuff, Jackie. Thank you.

We need more discussions, comments and media reports on the real issues confronting Nunavummiut at the local level.

Love the blog BTW!

Jackie S. Quire October 29, 2008 at 4:49 PM  

May I ask who this is?

Anonymous October 29, 2008 at 6:22 PM  

... just another anonumous websurfer of the world wide web...

I think it is positive and encouraging that young people like you are going to local communities in Nunavut.

Your blog is a pioneer. Its the modern Canadian adaptation of the old US adage "go west young man", but its "go north young Canadian."

It is important that Canadians in the south have a better understanding of the current reality of living conditions in local Nunavut communities. Blogs like this can help promote this better understanding.

The breakfast program is a great idea, and is the best single thing the GN can do right now.

It is good for kids. It is good for mothers and it is good for families.

More kids in school learning is essential. This is where change begins.

Thank you for your blog and keep up the local reporting and live blogging.

Way Way Up October 29, 2008 at 9:33 PM  

At my school, we have a breakfast program. At the last school there was also a breakfast program. From other colleagues I have spoken to across the territory, other schools have breakfast programs as well. I think Tagak has missed the boat on this one.

If you are a high school student and can fork over $15 for a pack of cigarettes than I don't see why they can't afford breakfast.Are we running schools here or are we running daycares? How does constantly providing for people instill a sense of personal responsibility?

Given the current economic troubles, I would also be very curious to know how all these items would be paid for. We need realistic goals and plans not vague promises.

Megan October 30, 2008 at 12:50 PM  

When the Being David Hasselhoff contest is over, I think I'm going to post about media training. It's actually good for journalists.

The thing you hate is called "message tracking" and it is very very bad. Actually, it's usually a sign that the person doesn't know much about the topic.

Media training, on the other hand, helps people to be more comfortable talking to reporters. It helps them to be clearer, and it helps you to get better clips. Everyone wins!

Jackie S. Quire October 30, 2008 at 1:12 PM  

You make a good point, and I think we are saying the same thing. Though, I don't know all your fancy words :P

It's funny, I was speaking with a colleague about communications personnel in Nunavut, yesterday. She's a reporter from Yellowknife and she was TAKEN ABACK at the way the GN (and other examples) treat journalists.

Now I don't intend to ruffle everyone's feathers here... TB, Megan, I know I'm talking about colleagues (however distant) of yours.

But it was a relief actually to hear her say that, because I'm getting frustrated with the way things work up here. I get treated with so little respect and dignity... it's just very unfair.

The way I see it (and maybe this is very narrow-minded) the people I am interviewing have a job. A job that is accountable to the public. But so do I. And it would be nice, if just for once people would acknowledge that I have a legitimate purpose.

Way Way Up October 30, 2008 at 3:26 PM  

Oh trust me....I love the media up here. It's about the only way to get a message out about important issues. I'm sure some GN hack has been assigned to figure out just who the hell keeps bashing some of their idiot policies. I figure its only fair, the GN doesn't seem interested in my opinions and mine are just as valid as theirs......I'm on a much smaller scale of course. But still, good ideas (and I'm not saying all or any of my ideas are part of some genius plan) sometimes come from unlikely sources.

Anyhow, since my job involves dealing with people on a daily basis, not all of whom are necessarily logical or lucid, or sober for that matter (and lord knows I've had my share of them lately), I can totally sympathize with your plight.

Megan October 30, 2008 at 6:25 PM  

I can't defend communications professionals who make a habit of not calling reporters back. That's just sloppy.

Sometimes we can't answer your questions, but those should be rare situations. For example, if you call the wrong agency with your questions, you're not going to get an answer.

I've never worked for the GN, but I have heard that they are chronically understaffed, and that may be contributing to the problem. If there is literally nobody who can answer your question, you're not going to get a great interview.

towniebastard October 30, 2008 at 9:30 PM  

Well, I can't speak for other departments. However, I have tremendous respect for local reporters and try to treat them the way I wanted to be treated back when I was a reporter.

Does it always work the way I want? Probably not. But I don't think too many reporters up here hate me, so I consider that a bit of an accomplishment.

Jackie S. Quire November 2, 2008 at 10:30 AM  

TB, WWU, Megan:

I've been thinking about this a little more, and I realize a lot of my resentment with GN communications is coming from two specific departments. One I deal with on a regular basis - - and whose DM HATES JOURNALISTS (or so I have been told, but yet he insists on having all media requests go through him), and the other I have contacted less frequently.

In both cases, phone calls are not returned and/or stories have gotten squashed. And it's frustrating. Because I obviously wouldn't be hassling them if I didn't think it was important.

The amusing part?
The ADM of the department I regularly contact mini-offered me a commumications job at the KIA AGM last week.

I actually had to take pause.

Megan November 2, 2008 at 10:48 AM  

If it's just two departments, you are probably dealing with a personality issue or overwork at the department rather than a widespread problem with communications.

Still, it creates trouble for you. You can't exactly report on something you can't confirm. (I have a reader-submitted item about this brewing in my head.)

If the ADM mini-offered you a job, the department's management probably realises that there's a problem. That's how I got my first jobs in communications: the bosses knew I could help them fix the problems they were having.

Does that help?