The Modern North
People, Politics and the Rejection of Colonialism

Coates, Kenneth & Powell, Judith
Publisher:  James Lorimer & Co.
Year Published:  1989  
Pages:  168pp   Price:  $16.95   ISBN:  ISBN 1-55028-120-8
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX3799

Abstract:  "Since confederation, the northern Territories have been Canada's colonies; now, the North is fighting back, demanding political equality and the right to develop as its residents see fit." The Modern North describes a society in transformation, from the Berger inquiry of 1975, when Canadians began to pay attention to their Northland, to the present.
Coates and Powell have grouped the chapters thematically to focus on six aspects of the new North: people, economy, territorial politics, bureaucrats, Native mobilization and northern culture. They take their most confrontational stance in the chapter on territorial politics, when discussing Meech Lake.
After a fairly optimistic chapter describing the introduction of political parties in the Yukon and the creation of consensus government in the Northwest Territories, the book confronts the Meech Lake "betrayal". With some bitterness, the authors review the Meech process and its implications: how the Territories were not invited to take part in the discussions, and how without consultation the federal authority to create provinces was given over to unanimous provincial approval, (thereby dashing the hopes of the Yukon and Northwest Territories for provincial status). The "dream of northern constitutional reforms" has been "uncaringly trampled on" by the first ministers. After 15 years of optimism, Meech Lake "hammered home, as few government or political actions could, that not that much has really changed."