No Inuit, no women, no problem: Harper’s Iqaluit campaign pit-stop

Harper continued the tradition of powerful white men saying and doing stupid things in Nunavut during a quick-minute campaign stopover in Iqaluit Aug. 14.

Among the embarrassing moments he crammed into a 10-minute speech is this gem, when Harper talked up his local candidate, Leona Aglukkaq: “Here is someone who was raised on the land as a young girl, speaking only Inuktituk, who went away to be educated… .”

If you’re going to pander to the vote of a distinct ethnic group, Stevie, make sure you know what language they speak (it’s “Inuktitut.”)

And emphasizing that your local cabinet minister had to go away to be educated might not be the smartest move in a region with the country’s worst education system and lowest high school graduation rates.

It might also have been smart to include a visible Inuk or a woman in the living backdrop of human beings your campaign team set up for you.

No visible Inuit or women appeared behind Harper during his quick-minute stopover in Iqaluit Aug. 14.
The art of emotionless applause: no visible Inuit or women appeared behind Harper during his quick-minute stopover in Iqaluit Aug. 14.

The predominantly white men you assembled looked as bored and stiff as kids in an elementary school class picture.

Your evocation of Canadian history, limited to the “great Conservatives” John A. MacDonald and John Diefenbaker, was painfully selective.

You forgot to mention anything about the decades of neo-colonialism that paved the way for the more modern and heavy-handed paternalism.

“It is no exaggeration to say that in the 21st century, what’s good for the North is going to be good for all of Canada,” you spewed, Mr. Harper, as well as, “never before in the history of this country has any government of Canada made the North such a high priority as it is today.”

Never before in the history of this country has a government of Canada been so preoccupied with militarizing the Arctic or extracting its resources with or without the consent of its citizens.

But if you really want to know how inane Harper’s pit-stop campaign visit was, look no further than this incoherent sentence from his speech:

“On Oct. 19, Northerners will choose between sticking with our Conservative party plan of low taxes, balanced budgets, prudent investments and against dangerous plans like a carbon tax that will kill jobs, make everything cost more and hurt our families, especially our northern families, and I know that’s a big issue here.”

Men assembled for Harper's human backdrop appear dead in the eyes.
Men assembled for Harper’s human backdrop appear dead in the eyes.

What is it that’s a big issue here? Families being hurt? You’re right, I can’t imagine that mattering anywhere else in the world.

And then there was this tribute to his government’s successes in the territory: “The record investments we’ve been making in housing, in healthy food, broadband for the territory and mining, developing mining resources across the territory.”

Have you read the news lately, Mr. Harper? Have you really been talking to those mythical “ordinary folks” politicians love to talk about?

Are you aware of the longstanding housing crisis in Nunavut? How many Nunavummiut would applaud the access to healthy, affordable food in the territory? How many feel connected to the world via affordable, reliable broadband in Nunavut?

But to be fair, you did say, “record investments” and not “record progress.”

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