Peculiar Consensus Way Up North

 

Interior of NWT Legislative Assembly Building

Election Season Installment 2:  One of the more peculiar features of Canada’s provincial political culture has to be the consensus-type government in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.  Unlike the party-driven systems that are most typical of representative governments, in a consensus system — at least in those two provinces — all candidates are elected as independents to a legislature and those representatives then select among themselves a premier and cabinet ministers.  The remaining members, who comprise a majority, then act as a de facto loyal opposition by holding the executive leaders accountable.

The consensus system first developed in the Northwest Territories, partly due to the community-based traditions of cooperativeness and consensus decisionmaking  among the Inuit  and other northern peoples.  Consensus governing was naturally adopted by Nunavut shortly after that most-northern province  was split off from NWT.  Continue reading

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