September 02, 2009

An Open Letter to All Residents of Nunavut: Regarding the Illegal Nomination of Dennis Patterson as Senator for Nunavut

The following is an open letter from a family member of mine who resides in Nunavut. At issue is the concern that Dennis Patterson, who Harper recently nominated to the Senate, isn't in full compliance with the conditions of being a senator. While Patterson may allegedly own property in Nunavut, he himself considers himself a resident of Vancouver, which we all know is quite a distance from any town or city in Nunavut.

If Ontario were only represented by two people within the government - one Member of Parliament and one Senator - I'd definitely want to make sure they were there to represent my interests. Unfortunately, this is another case where one man's personal politics have interfered with sound judgement and the operational purpose of the government and with that in mind has nominated what seems to amount to another 'yes' man, much like the majority of his Senate and public service appointments.

Read the letter below and leave some comments or pass it along to those that need to read this.

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With the retirement of the Hon. Willy Adams, Senator for Nunavut, the Prime Minister had an option to nominate a new individual to represent Nunavut in the Senate. According to the Government's own website, http://www.parl.gc.ca/information/about/process/Senate/Senatetoday/sens-e.html, there are a few requirements to be eligible for this nomination. The most important of these requirements is that the nominee must reside in the province or territory that they are nominated to represent. How, then, is it possible that Dennis Patterson, a self described resident of Vancouver, British Columbia, has been nominated to represent Nunavummiut, and receive the $130,000/year salary and all associated benefits that go along with this appointment?

Mr. Patterson has had a long and storied history of political service in the north, but this is not the issue here, nor is his race, which has been brought up on many news website's comment boards. Quite simply, he is not a resident of Nunavut, and therefor is not eligible to be nominated for this position.

The facts at the heart of this problem are simple. Nunavut is a vast territory, with many challenges and issues. Our entire territory has only 2 representatives at the Federal level, one MP, and one Senator. We have the right to elect our MP, and the right to be represented by a resident of Nunavut in the Senate, which is guaranteed by the rules governing Senate appointments. Who better to represent us, than someone who lives here? Prime Minister Harper seems to have completely ignored his legal obligation to nominate a Nunavummiut for this Senate appointment, and feels that no one in Nunavut is capable of representing us. How would the residents of Ontario feel if 50% of their representatives in the Federal Government were from Vancouver? Imagine the uproar in Vancouver if half of B.C.'s representatives were from Toronto? This would be front page news around the world.

During the last Territorial election, several candidates were disqualified as they could not prove their residency in the territory. The most widely publicized case was that of Jack Anawak, who fought the decision in court, only to have his name withheld from the ballot. If someone such as Mr. Anawak is unable to run for a seat in the Territorial Legislature, why are we forced to accept an outsider as our Senator?

Unfortunately, many people don't follow these issues that can so drastically affect them, allowing this Prime Minister to effectively sneak a fast one by us. This cannot be allowed to happen. The Nunavut Government has expressed no opinion whatsoever, and there is no way NTI will speak out against this appointment, as Mr. Patterson is currently one of their chief negotiators working with the Federal Government to implement the Land Claim Agreement. There was a short, cursory response from NTI's James Eetoolook a few days ago, but nothing coming close to the position that should be taken up by all residents of Nunavut. Seeing as how Mr. Patterson had such a large role in the election of the Hon. Leona Aglukkaq, and the fact that her boss is the one who made this appointment, I believe that any complaints to her will effectively fall on deaf ears.

We need to speak out, and have our voices heard on this issue. I implore you, Mr. Prime Minister, rethink your nomination, and appoint a resident of Nunavut to represent us in the Upper House.

For further info: The Canadian Constitution Act states the following:

Part V 42: (1) An amendment to the Constitution of Canada in relation to the following matters may be made only in accordance with subsection 38(1): (a) the principle of proportionate representation of the provinces in the House of Commons prescribed by the Constitution of Canada; (b) the powers of the Senate and the method of selecting Senators; (c) the number of members by which a province is entitled to be represented in the Senate and the residence qualifications of Senators; (d) subject to paragraph 41(d), the Supreme Court of Canada; (e) the extension of existing provinces into the territories; and (f) notwithstanding any other law or practice, the establishment of new provinces.

38.1 states:(1) An amendment to the Constitution of Canada may be made by proclamation issued by the Governor General under the Great Seal of Canada where so authorized by (a) resolutions of the Senate and House of Commons; and (b) resolutions of the legislative assemblies of at least two-thirds of the provinces that have, in the aggregate, according to the then latest general census, at least fifty per cent of the population of all the provinces.

The current criteria stipulate that Senators must reside in the province or territory that they represent, therefor, for the Prime Minister's nomination to stand, there must be a resolution passed by the Senate and the House of Commons, PLUS, resolutions from two thirds of the provinces or territories of Canada, and their total populations must represent at least half the population of the country.

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Quotes from people smarter than me...

"If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich" ~ JFK

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. " ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. " ~ Benjamin Franklin

"First it is necessary to stand on your own two feet. But the minute a man finds himself in that position, the next thing he should do is reach out his arms. " ~ Kristin Hunter

"When you're a mayor and you have a problem you blame the provincial government. If you are provincial government and you have a problem you blame the federal government. We don't blame the Queen any more, so once in a while we might blame the Americans." ~ Jean Chretien

"Which is ideology? Which not? You shall know them by their assertion of truth, their contempt for considered reflection, and their fear of debate." ~ John Ralston Saul

"It is undoubtedly easier to believe in absolutes, follow blindly, mouth received wisdom. But that is self-betrayal." ~ John Ralston Saul

"Everybody dies, Tracey. Someone's carrying a bullet for you right now, doesn't even know it. The trick is to die of old age before it finds you." ~ Cpt. Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly, Episode 12)

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