Eva makes a statement

Eva Aariak seems to have put even more distance between herself and Paul Okalik in a quiet announcement just before the Victoria Day weekend.

As of June 22, Bob Long will replace Rosemary Keenainak as deputy minister of the highly-troubled Department of Economic Development and Transportation. That’s no ordinary personnel shuffle. It’s a statement.

Keenainak’s departure will surprise no one. For at least half a decade she’s been a target of numerous unkind rumours, all of them too libelous or too petty to reproduce here. In a carefully crafted statement, she says she will “take a new direction in my life, and will be pursuing educational opportunities in the fall.”

Fine. That’s what human resource euphemisms are for. They let the departing official conserve some dignity, which in this case, I believe she’s entitled to. I don’t know her very well. But she’s obviously an intelligent woman who struggled within a brutal, hopeless job. I hope she’s able to come back and serve Nunavut in a way that’s fulfilling to her and useful to the territory.

Her replacement, Bob Long, is hardly a household name in Nunavut, but he enjoys much respect in the business community, having served as president of the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce and chair of the Nunavut Trade Show and Conference.

What’s more, Long ran a business loan agency for 10 years, the Baffin Business Development Centre, without driving it into either bankruptcy or administrative dysfunction. In Nunavut, that verges on the miraculous. Since reconstruction of the shattered Nunavut Business Credit Corp. must surely be an urgent priority for the GN right now, it seems reasonable to infer that Aariak believes Long may be the best choice for that reason alone.

Remember when the Okalik government said every single GN job would be regarded as a “training position?” Well, this guy’s no entry-level trainee. He’s a mature, seasoned professional with 40 years of experience in business and economic development.

Imagine that. A senior civil service appointment made solely on the basis of merit. Eva won’t gain much from this politically, I suppose. But it could lead to better morale in the GN, more respect for Nunavut among other governments, and — who knows — better service for us.

But here’s a question I’m just dying to ask. Is this particular Paul Okalik policy on its way to the shredder?.

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