Member of Parliament • Canada
“Multilateral cooperation between nations, scientists and indigenous people will be a better fit as the Arctic areas open up”
Dennis Bevington has been Member of Parliament for the Northwest Territories in Ottawa since 2006. Born in Ft. Smith, NWT, he has spent his life north of the 60th parallel. From early times, he has been an advocate for northern people, communities and the environment. His career spans a decade of community development as a Mayor of ft. Smith, and as President of the NWT Association of Communities in the 90’s
As the sole member of Canada's Parliament for the vast Northwest Territories, I am sometimes daunted by the sheer scope of social, political and environmental issues that are facing this region. I am surely not alone in that regard, as the small population base that characterizes remote arctic and subarctic regions around the world means the same for northern leadership worldwide. Dealing with the growing list of issues like climate change, arctic sovereignty, resource development, indigenous people's rights, combined with an outrageous cost of living and insufficient basic infrastructure and human services, is a daunting task to say the least.
Traditional party politics does not work well in the North. Two of the three territories, the NWT and Nunavut, use a consensus system in their legislative assemblies where no members officially represent a political party. The Yukon, with a more developed infrastructure and a much smaller indigenous population uses a party based system and has so for years.
I believe the reason the NWT and Nunavut use a consensus system is because adversarial politics don't work so well in the North with its small populations living in vast areas. The people of the North have been forced by our harsh climate to learn to cooperate and work together in order to survive.
The argument may be made that traditional confrontational style of geopolitics will likely not work well in the Arctic. Multilateral cooperation between nations, scientists, indigenous populations, and resource developers will likely be a better fit as the Arctic areas of this world open up. I feel that cooperation and consensus building are the only ways to proceed in the Arctic.
Others have tried the aggressive, confrontational approach to the North and failed. We should learn from these histories and take an international leadership role promoting a cooperative approach.
© Le Cercle Polaire - mars 2011 - Tous droits réservés