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Traditional aboriginal values in a Westminster parliament: The legislative assembly of Nunavut

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This article examines the interplay of structure and culture in the Legislative Assembly of the newly established territory of Nunavut in Canada's eastern Arctic. This institution combines the Westminster cabinet-parliamentary system with traditional Inuit culture, many features of which are antithetical to British-style ‘responsible government'. The distinctive ‘consensus government' system which characterises the Nunavut Legislative Assembly has important features consistent with Inuit values and approaches, for example, the absence of political parties. Based primarily on personal interviews with Members of the Assembly, the article considers whether Inuit culture has significantly recast the structures and the political imperatives inherent in the Westminster system or if the powerful values and constraints of that system have effectively overridden Inuit values. Perceptions and reflections of members serving in the First Assembly (1999–2004) suggest that while substantial adaptations to the conventional Westminster system have been made, these are indeed adaptations rather than fundamental alterations to the system.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Political Science, University of Toronto, Mississauga

Publication date: March 1, 2006


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