Paul MacDonald, Inuvik Cadet leader, resigns after 8 years

Paul MacDonald resigned after eight years leading the Cadets in Inuvik, N.W.T., because, he says, his continued complaints about heavy-handed bureaucracy have gone unanswered.

4-page resignation letter details concerns with southern rules, bureaucracy

Paul MacDonald with one of his cadets, Master Cpl. Don Gruben Jr. MacDonald resigned from the Inuvik cadets last September after his complaints about the organization went unanswered. 'It was hard to walk away,' he says. (submitted by Paul MacDonald)

The former leader of the Cadets in Inuvik, N.W.T., says he’s resigned after his continued complaints about heavy-handed bureaucracy have gone unanswered.

“Without someone stepping forward and saying, ‘Hey this is wrong,’ it’s never going to get fixed,” says Paul MacDonald. 

After eight years with the group, MacDonald resigned from the Inuvik Cadets last September, but only went public with his four-page resignation letter about two weeks ago. (David Thurton/CBC)
After eight years with the group, MacDonald resigned from the Inuvik Cadets last September, but only went public with his four-page resignation letter about two weeks ago. 

"I went public because it was important for the general population," he says. "They need to know what has been happening within the Cadet world and the amount of work that local core officers and volunteers put into running the Cadets."

Since his resignation, Inuvik hasn’t had a Cadet group and Cadets Canada hasn’t appointed a new leader.

MacDonald says he brought “the dying unit” from three participants to 30 and raised over $110,000.

He says leaving the force wasn't an easy decision. "It was hard to walk away."

But, “extremely frustrated,” he could no longer stand how the Winnipeg-based headquarters treated his group.

Code of conduct impossible

MacDonald says he spent three years trying to change a policy that says Cadets shouldn’t train outdoors when it’s colder than -30 C. He says that would mean he’d have to offer his cold-weather training indoors, since Inuvik sees temperatures below -30 for much of the winter.

In his resignation letter, MacDonald writes that a newly introduced code of conduct, which mandates volunteers can only have contact with cadets during program hours, would be impossible in Inuvik. 

Derek Lindsay, manager of the Inuvik Legion, says he’s worried that Inuvik’s youth will fall through the cracks now that the community no longer has Cadets. (David Thurton/CBC)
“The North as you are clearly not aware is a very tightly knit community,” the letter reads, “where our cadets are involved in our lives in a variety of ways. We are coaches, parents, employers, mentors, teachers, a shoulder to cry on.”

MacDonald's letter also berates the headquarters's bureaucrats for penalizing cadets who don’t attend mandatory training trips that cost on average, he says, $2,500 per Cadet in airfare alone, not to mention food, accommodations and staffing. He says the training doesn't challenge the Cadets and they end up missing two or three days of school.

“It is a financial waste of taxpayer's dollars to send Cadets on a vacation.”

The letter lists other issues such as a “ridiculous” amount of paperwork, lack of trust, forced Cadet promotions that aren’t based on merit, and a lack of military involvement.

It also talks about a software training program that he describes as time consuming, not user friendly and a “pit where time and money disappear.”

Changes since MacDonald took charge

Derek Lindsay, manager of the Inuvik Legion, says he’s noticed many changes in the years that MacDonald took over the local cadet corps.

“It became accountable,” Lindsay says, talking about the donations, sometimes up to $10,000, that the Legion would make each year. 

Now Lindsay fears that the young people that formed the group's ranks are beginning to fall through the cracks.

“Unfortunately, I think they're going to find some other avenue of entertainment. And sometimes that can be the wrong avenue of entertainment,” Lindsay says. 

Cadets Canada hasn’t responded to CBC News’ request for an interview.

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