Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut January 23, 2004 - 1:52 pm

All are silent as NTI prepares for election

New rules stop executive members from discussing intentions



CAMBRIDGE BAY - The executive members of the board of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. gathered in Ikaluktuutiak, the Kitikmeot regional centre, this week for their last meeting before the March 16 election.

Nominations close Monday for the positions of NTI president, currently held by Cathy Towtongie, and second vice-president, a wildlife position currently held by Raymond Ningeocheak.

Towtongie took the top job in a by-election held in 2001 to replace outgoing president Paul Quassa, who resigned amid allegations he misused NTI funds.

Ningeocheak has served as the organization’s senior representative on hunting and wildlife issues for 10 years.

But tough election rules are forcing the executive members to keep silent about whether they will seek re-election or contest a different seat on the board.

Towtongie declined to discuss her plans until the nomination period ends next week, but she is widely expected to run again.

“I’ve been after the presidency for eight years. Eight long years,” she said in December 2001 after beating front runner John Amagoalik by 175 votes in a by-election to replace Paul Quassa.

Amagoalik will not be seeking the presidency this time around, however. Instead, he has chosen to contest the constituency of Iqaluit East in the Nunavut election.

Jerry Ell, who came in third for the NTI presidency in 2001, is also running for a seat in the legislative assembly, in the riding of Rankin Inlet South-Whale Cove. Though he lost to Towtongie by almost 400 votes in 2001, Ell took the Rankin Inlet riding, where he and Towtongie both live.

For the past two years, Towtongie has cleaned up the political mess left by her predecessor, implementing a strict conflict of interest policy for board members, and fighting for stronger and better social programs for Inuit.

But this time, she might be challenged by her colleague and second in command, Paul Kaludjak, NTI’s vice-president of finance.

Kaludjak was coy this week when asked to address rumours he plans to run for NTI president.

“I haven’t been nominated,” he said.

But before he can declare his nomination, Kaludjak, as well as Towtongie and any other executive or board members who choose to run, must first take a paid leave of absence from their positions.

Kaludjak said he has not yet stepped down, but did not rule it out.

“We should know that by Monday [the nomination deadline]. It’s up in the air right now.”

The former president of the Kivalliq Inuit Association swept the race for vice-president of finance in 2001, finishing with 63 per cent of the vote, or more than twice the votes of his closest competitor, the late Goo Arlooktoo.

If Kaludjak were to seek the presidency and lose, he could return to his position as vice-president of finance, said Steve Foulds, NTI’s coordinator of legal services.

If he won, the executive would have the option of holding a by-election to fill the seat.

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