Thursday, 5 May 2011

Robbing Peter to pay Paul?

I want to congratulate my hometown of Clyde River for the grand opening of the Inuit Cultural School.

God, I hope I'm spectacularly, royally, in-every-way wrong but I was against this development since the project was first proposed. I still think that it is a grave moral mistake to not say anything, to caution my compatriots that work has just begun. All Inuit (Nunavummiut and its org.s) will have to fight hard to keep this prize afloat and in orbit of what is essentially a black-hole.

We must never forget that the Nunavut government is in deficit financing and has promised to make cuts to reduce our public debt. But not only that: our federal government is also in deficit and is promising to eliminate programs to reduce spending.

In these dark days of "benign dictatorship" the trend will be an acceleration towards hegemony - meaning that ideologically "prudent fiscal restraint" will focus, at first blush, on the vulnerable and the relatively disenfranchised: women's groups, aboriginal programs, charities (both domestic and international), public financing of (lesser) political parties, etc. etc.

The idea of an Inuit cultural school is a noble and good one. I have no problem with that at all. I want it myself. But I've always been bothered to the core by, and leery of, Greeks bearing ready gifts. There are much cheaper and more encompassing, inclusive, wiser ways of spending public funds than on a (largely) one-shot deal as the cultural school idea.

For instance, the tens of millions of dollars that were spent to develop and construct the cultural school could have been spent on core-funding (not provisional funding as I understand the current arrangement to be) for community-based cultural programs that most if not all schools in Nunavut have. We could have enhanced these with at most a few million dollars for the whole territory.

Once the cat got out of the bag nobody was willing to listen to any voice of dissension. That was always the outcome sought. Nunavut, with a largely docile population and an unsaavy, weak and underdeveloped Inuit leadership, is easily controlled by a "foreign" and anonymous bureaucracy that has never proven good faith to look after the interests of Inuit as the huge debacles of mismanagement of Public Housing funds and corruption of business development corporations (to name only two) have suggested. This, without a peep of public outcry. The more this is proven, the more blatant and self-assured the GN bureaucracy has and will become.

Given this environment, I fear (and I hope more than anything that I'm wrong) that the main campus of the Inuit Cultural School in Clyde River will be shut down in a few years (five at the least) and a smaller, leaner one proposed in one of the smaller affiliates in the next centralizing cycle.

Jay

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