Jordan: I had to check a map because I was embarrassed after our interview today, So I did. And it’s true. I’ve never been further north in Canada than Edmonton, and this is maybe why, when I think about the electoral issues that matter to people who live in Canada’s real north, I make a common mistake. I assumed that the biggest issues are the ones we hear about all the way down here, and you know what they are.
News Clips: Canada is warming up twice as fast as the rest of the world. A new study says Permafrost in the Canadian Arctic is melting so fast that it’s swallowing the equipment scientists left there to study it. We recognize that true reconciliation goes beyond a list of action items. What is needed is a national strategy as we continue to renew the relationship between the crown and indigenous peoples in Canada,
Jordan: It will perhaps not shock you to learn as I did, that life in Canada’s North is just life, and it doesn’t conform to the narratives that us in the media and our politicians would like it too. So it’s also not wholly your fault. If you didn’t know the same things that I didn’t know.
News Clips: There’s some housing, but it’s not all affordable. We’re short right now as we speak 3100 units and nothing good comes out of overcrowded house. Today we take responsibility for the harm caused by the policies and actions of the federal government, racism and discrimination that into it faced was and always will be unacceptable.
Jordan: Every time you see a federal leader up in the north in a classy parka standing in front of a gorgeous vista, they’re making the same mistake that I did. They are playing to the Southerners, and they’re talking about the kinds of issues that we tend to think are the ones that matter to the North. And, yes, the climate, crisis and reconciliation matter a great deal to voters in no no foot and in other territories, they are just not at all the only issues. They’re not even the most pressing ones. I’m Jordan Heath Rawlings. This is the big story. Our lay of the land. Siri’s continues today, going north. You might imagine to a callow eat Nunavut, where Kent Driscoll is a video journalist for APTN. Hi Kent.
Jordan: So tell me, uh, how’s this federal election going so far for Canada’s North?
Kent: Yes. So here in Nunavut, the federal elections been really interesting. In the lead up to the federal election, the Liberals have seemingly tried to bring every single Cabinet minister to Iqaluit in the lead up we’ve had in a two week period at the end of August, beginning September, we had seven members of Cabinet and the prime Minister all here at various different times. So they are really trying to use their federal outreach here. To shows some real boots on the ground, and, ah, the events have been well attended. And it’s been mostly re announcing previous programs but trying to show people what they have been up to because we haven’t had a liberal MP here for a while to tell people about
Jordan: how normal is that in an election? For, I guess, just prior to an election for the government to put so many boots on the ground up there,
Kent: it has been normal recently, uh, Leona Aglukkaq. When she was the federal member from Nunavut’s, she was in the federal Cabinet and ah, pregnancy or Harper would come up with your release with her here it least once a year. Now he will come for the military exercises and do things on the side. Trudeau comes here and he meets more with the Inuit organizations than with the government of Nunavut’s. So the big difference isn’t in the amount of people that’s coming. It’s their focus. Ah, the liberal government seems more committed to working with these indigenous organizations, and the conservative preference was always to work directly with the government of Nunavut’s. So we’re not seeing more people. It’s just the focus has been a little shifted.
Jordan: Is that focus? Does it tend to be in proportion to the value of the number of seats in the north? Or is this done primarily for Southern voters to see Ah, the liberals up there?
Kent: Oh, it has a lot to do with Southern voters. Absolutely. When you come to new food as the prime minister, you look like the prime minister. You’re out there on the tundra wearing some sort of casual jacket. Looking enthusiastic, Harper looked like prime minister when he got off in. Trudeau does, too. So a lot of it is for Southern voters. When Andrew sheer was here a couple months ago. He did a little press conference out to Sylvia Grenelle, national partner, Territorial Park, and he talked with locals while he was here. But then, once he went back south, the commercial he ended up putting out it focused a lot on the seldom priorities for the North. So the Northwest Passage fighter jets all of that stuff that, while is important to the country, isn’t as important to Nunavut voters. So when sheer was here, he absolutely did some of that.
Jordan: What is important to Nunavut voters and maybe in other parts of the North as well, not to lump them all in together. I know there’s multiple issues across a huge territory
Kent: for Nunavut voters. I just got back from Pond Inlet Nunavut, and that’s Ah, on the northeastern tip of Baffin Island. I was there for APTN national news. We’re doing a series of stories, but one of the things I did I actually spent two hours in front of the colon of Sunday afternoon just talking with people who came by sort of word on the street thing and the issues I kept hearing about the federal election were the same that you always hear housing. Nunavut needs $2 billion in funding just to get the housing stocks up to break even with our population. And, ah, the nutrition north food subsidy that was put in under the Conservatives. Then, when the Liberals took over, they didn’t scrap it. They decided to expand the program, change it. So nutrition, north and housing are always going to be doorstep issues here because we have a population that it’s it’s hard to find jobs. The cost of living is astronomical. I mean, start looking. Average rent. Nunavut’s is $2600 a month. That’s for ah, that’s for Ah, basic two bedroom here in Ocala Wheat. I, uh we have, like a two and 1/2 bedroom from my family. We use one of them is a game room, but ah, it’s We’re paying $3200 a month. You’re in Iqaluit for that two and 1/2 bedroom apartment.
Jordan: Those air Toronto prices
Kent: Well, that leads into of that liberal program that I heard you guys talking about on this podcast a few days ago. The cost of living for buying new homes. Ah calories, real estate market is comparable to Vancouver or Toronto. You’re not finding a detached dwelling for under $500,000 I know already. Look, I’m asking the liberal candidate Is there any chance that that program cannot fly here in Munich? And, ah, I’m looking forward to getting a chance to put that question to her because it would make a huge difference here in universe.
Jordan: Why is the housing market up there so crazy? I mean, I hadn’t heard anything about it. I kind of understand why food prices have skyrocketed in the North, but I just never knew that about housing
Kent: It’s like every problem in Nunavut. It’s a It’s a tapestry, right? There’s a lot of different things playing it, but the cost of shipping things up to actually build those homes. Ah, the cost of getting skilled professionals up here to do the building All of the regular factors that make doing business more expensive in Nunavut apply to the housing file. All of our housing is already overcrowded. It’s hard to find that $2600 a month apartment, even if you were willing to pay it, and so that scarcity and the scarcity drives up the price, especially here in the capital. But in Nunavut’s more rural communities, you’re looking a similar pricing.
Jordan: Has any candidate address those issues directly? I guess more to the point, have any of the federal parties address this issue? Because again, I’m I’m stunned that I didn’t hear of this.
Kent: There was some funding for housing in the last federal budget, and when Trudeau was here recently, he was telling that through our work here at a p. T. In national news, we end up dealing with the the local housing authority. Fairly often, Terry outlawed. Their president has told me a $2 billion is how much you’re looking just get caught up on the social side of housing. So those are people who need subsidized housing, that liberal money that they did announce Sure it helps, but it’s literally a drop in the bucket.
Jordan: So what else is driving voters up there and again? This might be, ah, our Southern bias talking, but I feel like when our leaders talked to us about affairs in the North there, often trying to tout their credentials with the environment and indigenous peoples.
Kent: Overall, I’d say the feedback I’m hearing from people that is true. A major issue that you may not have noticed from a Southern perch eyes the airline merger. We have two airlines here, uh, head to airlines, Canadian North and First Air. Now the confident They wanted to merge Competition Bureau of Canada, Cool the federal Cabinet that that would be a monopoly and they shouldn’t let it happen. Minister Garneau brought the Cabinet, and they decided to go ahead with allowing the merger. They have 30 different basically provisions that they have to follow in order to follow through on the on the merger. But the merger’s been allowed now cost of airfare is everything here. Iqaluit to Ottawa return. You’re looking at $2200 that’s for one seat. Now imagine trying to take a family of four on vacation once a year, and that’s what you’re paying. So that airline merger that’s going to play out throughout the campaign absolutely
Jordan: is there anger towards the liberals, the same way we’ve seen in other provinces in Canada that they feel that the North was promised things that weren’t delivered?
Kent: from what I’m hearing from people. I think anger would be a strong word of what new novel voters try to do inevitably, and this is what happened last election, with the late movement of votes 202 to the liberal candidate, they try and figure out who’s gonna make the government. Then we vote for that person from that party in order to try and access that federal funding because 98% of new who’s funding comes from the federal government. So ideally, we want the territory looks and says, Well, we want someone on the inside of that Cabinet room Who’s going to lobby for us now? The conservatives the last two times had Leo no glue cock in there doing it, and Hunter to two, had been chosen to Cabinet before he was removed from the Liberal caucus. So I would watch seriously in this election for a last minute shift towards one of the parties and the new devil riding will try and mirror that.
Jordan: That’s really interesting strategy. Are there any pulls out already showing ah particular candidate in the lead?
Kent: Oh, don’t believe any polling data you get from Nunavut’s. Really? Oh, you’ve got 25 communities. You’ve got 25 races. Each one of these are intensely local. And plus Ah, if you’re trying to do telemarketing in Nunavut, you’re gonna fail. I mean, I’m a, you know, lingual English speaker, But if someone phones me up, is a telemarketer Oh, I’m you know, Lingle Inuktitut in a hurry. No one’s answering no one’s answering phone poles, so all you’ve got is a good guess. Now I listen to some people here. There are people who are experienced with the government. Former Cabinet minister Ed Pico is usually within 5 10% points of figuring out what’s going to happen. But no polling data from here is it’s pretty hilarious. Actually.
Jordan: I also want to ask you about climate change because we’ve heard this issue come up every time we talked to anyone from any province. Obviously, we cover it a lot on our show, but you guys are kind of on the front lines of it. Is it is it more of a pressing issue up there?
Kent: It’s definitely a pressing issue I had mentioned earlier. I just got back from Pond Inlet and one of the questions I was asking people on the street just straight out Is the climate changing? And I want to say 75 80% of the people I talked to said Yes, absolutely. It’s getting warmer in the summer, colder in the winter. They earned his money and are well coming through by Pond Inlet right now, and they haven’t seen a seal all summer, which is that that’s that’s shocking to me. Usually this time of year, if you’re walking around in the street and Pond Inlet, you’ll see seal skins up against houses drying all over the place. That isn’t happening this summer. So in general in we’d have acknowledged that climate change is real and it’s going to start to play itself out in the election. The on the other hand, the carbon tax, are conservative. Candidate is already running hard against that. There’s a few exemptions, like they’re not charging the carbon tax on aviation fuel or on fuel to generate electricity. But we’re still paying more at the tank, so it’s Ah, the climate change issue is going to be played out here. I just I don’t know how wide yet.
Jordan: Well, you kind of touched on my follow up question, which is How does combating climate change look different in the North from Major Metropolis is in Canada?
Kent: Well, it looks different because we lack the infrastructure to try and tackle it. Every power generation station in universe is diesel that’s expensive and dirty, and we have to fly it in. We don’t have any alternative sources of power. Now they’re building a new power plant and cook look took. That’s goingto have some solar panels on it, the municipality of Clyde River putting some solar panels themselves. But ah, trying to stop climate change here in universe. We’re such a small population, and we’re such big carbon users. I mean, so much of our food has flown in. That’s a curb in heavy thing. So it’s the idea of New Voom. You being able to do something about it by themselves. It’s pretty much a non starter with the way the territory is set up.
Jordan: I also wanted to ask you about reconciliation because back in 2015 the liberals ran hard on a promise to address this and and they have done so. But every time we talk to folks about it. We get the sense that it either hasn’t gone far enough or it’s been seen as kind of cynical and and you would be much closer to the communities who are impacted by this.
Kent: Well, what I’ve been hearing and it’s Ah, there have been three federal apologies in the last year. And when Dr Caroline Bennett was up here, most recently for the most recent apology to a new E, I just straight out asked her, Ah, you’ve apologized three times. There there anymore. Apology Chev planned before the election, and her and PJ Akio cookies, the president of the Q. I A. That’s the regional injuried association for Baffin Island. There approaches. Bennett’s willing to apologize if it’s important to the n u E group. So it’s these injuries organizations who are pushing for these reconciliation attempts and the apologies, when delivered, are very well received of the tuberculosis apology for the treatment of tuberculosis patients in the seventies. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when Trudeau was up speaking the ah he Army apology and RV. It was very emotional, so on the reconciliation agenda, the apologies, air working. But there’s also they deal with Ian you it organizations differently than previous governments. Every time I see a federal Cabinet minister here, Nate Anobit from I t K, which is the national Intuit organization, he’s there with, um, Okiku Trick, the NT I president. That’s the Internet organization for all of Nunavut’s. She’s there and their hand in hand with these liberal Cabinet ministers, so reconciliations taking a couple of different tacks here. There’s the formal apologies, and there’s the working with Ian. You eat org’s and people aren’t cynical about it yet. There’s a lot to apologize for here.
Jordan: That’s really interesting because, you know, down here, where we’re nowhere near most of us as close to into it or indigenous communities, we kind of hear that it’s all talk and no action. But what you just described sounds like that talk really matters
Kent: before the people who were individually affected. Those apologies are really and those apologies have a really effect on people because I mean the the tuberculosis one was incredibly emotional because there were so many people sitting there in the audience who had head family members sent down south for 234 years, and some of them never came back, and the idea of the prime minister of the country standing there and apologizing for it meant something to those peope.
Jordan: What do Canadians from the South? And I’m I know I’m speaking generally in there, some that this won’t apply to, but it applies to me. Probably. What should Southern Canadians know about the North that we just don’t really understand?
Kent: I’ll quote one of the women I talked to on the street and Pond Inlet who said, Let everyone know that we don’t live in igloos.
Jordan: So that’s true baptize. You don’t live in igloos, right?
Kent: That basic, it’s Ah, there’s so much misunderstanding about this part of the country and it’s I know I didn’t know much. I’ve been here 12 years, and I didn’t know much when I got off the plane. I’ve managed to listen to people and gather some up, but it’s Ah, it’s remote. Everything is a challenge, and everything is understaffed. From the schools to the government. Thio, even the RCMP of heart have trouble recruiting here, and the other thing people need to understand about dealing with new food is that every problem our challenge sort of relates into the other ones. You can’t look at housing without taking a good look at the economy. Can’t take a look at what the government of Nunavut is up to without taking a look at how much money they’re getting. Federally. Every challenge is interwoven. It’s a complete tapestry,
Jordan: Same question than but applied to party leaders that come up there. What don’t they address that they could speak plainly to, And it would make a difference for them.
Kent: What don’t they address? Well, they they tend to be very scripted events, right? They come in, they have their talking points, they have their little they have their speech that they want to give, and then they take some questions from the reporters. The thing that they could do that would sort of get that message across would be, I think, fewer scripted events and just genuinely talk to people. Now some of them seem to do that. I know. Ah, did I mention Dr Carolyn Bennett earlier? Dr Benton, it’s been coming here for the last 89 years, and whenever she gets off a plane there, people here who know her like that, that sort of put the food put the feet on the ground and you’ll learn something. Approach is probably the best way to handle dealing with Nunavut’s. Not to mention you have to listen more than you talk. That’s the big thing. Is a seldom reporter moving here and having been here 12 years, listen more than I talk is the best lesson I’ve learned.
Jordan: What outcome that’s possible would surprise you the most about how a no vote and the North vote in this election
Kent: surprised me the most. What I am hearing talking to people. We do have a strong three way race here in new novel. Right now we’ve got Leona Glue Cock, former Cabinet minister for the press, progressive conservatives. Megan Peas. It’ll Lyle. She’s a very interesting Cabinet, young Inuit woman the early thirties. She has connections in all three regions, and she’s gonna be a tough candidate. And then the NDP just announced their candidate 25 year old movie lock. Cock it. She works for NT I. That’s the territorial innuit organization in ah, there in in your unemployment office, and she’s very thoughtful and very progressive and don’t think so much. About 25 being young, Nunavut has candidates Fastest growing in youngest population 25 years old is the average age of someone in universe. So I think the biggest surprise would be if someone ran away with this thing. From what I’m hearing, it’s going to be a very close election here, no matter who takes it.
Jordan: Thanks a lot.
Kent: Thank you.
Jordan: Kent Driscoll, video journalist for APTN in Iqaluit Nunavut. And that was the big story. For more from us, including the past episodes of Lay of the Land. And there are at least a seven more to come. You can head to thebigstorypodcast.ca. You can also find us on Twitter at @thebigstoryfpn. And of course, as always, we are wherever you get your podcasts, on Apple, on Google, on Stitcher, on Spotify, on Eye Catcher. Thanks for listening. I’m Jordan Heath Rawlings. We’ll talk tomorrow
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