The new-era website, featuring the Premier
The territorial government rolled out its new-look “flagship” website last week, with the same fanfare it devoted to its first-ever report of meetings between cabinet ministers and lobbyists — which is to say, it was done in stealth mode.
The website refresh — “the beginning of a new era for the GNWT’s online presence,” according to GNWT comms staff — brings the NWT closer in style and appearance to other governments — visually at least, if not in the way it reports encounters with people who want to bend ministerial ears.
Developed at a cost of $35,000 by Yellowknife’s Outcrop Communications, the new look is the first change to the website in 14 years, and was beta-tested with the public for eight weeks in May and June before its full (if quiet) launch this month. So far, response to the site refresh has been overwhelmingly positive, according to government communications staff.
There is more to come, they say: “All departments are in the process of adopting the same enhanced web presence… with improved navigation and enhanced quality and availability of information and resources.”
The most obvious change to the website is the addition of Bob McLeod as official greeter. The premier smiles down from the upper right corner, his gaze averted from a tile in the lower left that opens on a brief description of consensus government.
It’s relatively easy to locate the lobbyist report if you know the right search terms: “ministers’ meetings with outside parties.” Voila, up pops a list of encounters, with the dates and organizations named, but not the names of those involved, or the subject of the meetings.
The ‘report’ is as skimpy as the one McLeod released earlier this year on his own meetings, and has the same fatal error: it was devised by the premier, acting alone, without any formal reference to the views of the legislature.
The defense of this inadequate response offered by the premier and the usual chorus of low-watt MLAs, is that because the Northwest Territories is governed by consensus, detailed oversight of lobbying activity is unnecessary. We’re all in this together, right?
The criteria for the activity reports fails the website’s definition of consensus — that it is intended to represent the majority view — but not the bizarre notion that in a territory with a small and ever-diminishing population, secrets are essential to peace, order and good government.