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