Commission favours 17-member Nunavut assembly



A commission set up to suggest ways of dividing Nunavut into legislative assembly electoral districts says that 17 single-member ridings is the best option for the first assembly.

The Nunavut Electoral Boundaries Commission submitted its report to the speaker of the legislative assembly July 18.

The commission grouped many smaller communities into electoral districts and gave larger communities their own ridings.

In the 20 single-member ridings option, the commission gave the hamlet of Rankin Inlet two seats and the capital, Iqaluit, three seats.

Pelly and Repulse in same constituency

Pelly Bay, which is currently in the Kitikmeot region, and Repulse Bay, which is located within the Keewatin region, would combine to form a constituency of their own called Akulliq.

This pairing was in response to what residents in those areas told the commissioners during their community meetings.

“Both in Pelly Bay and Repulse Bay, a number of people told the commission of the many cultural ties and continuing family relationships among the residents of these two communities,” the commissioners stated in their report.

Gjoa Haven and Taloyoak, which are currently in a riding with Pelly Bay, will have their own district. As well, Coral Harbour and Chesterfield Inlet, now paired with Repulse Bay, will remain together.

Kugluktuk, Bathurst Inlet and Umingmaktok would remain together, but Cambridge Bay would have its own district.

Whale Cove and Sanikikuaq combined

The commission also decided to join the smaller communities of Whale Cove and Sanikiluaq.

In the current system, Whale Cove shares a riding with Rankin Inlet, a much larger centre, and Sanikiluaq is combined with Kimmirut and Cape Dorset to form the Baffin South district.

“We heard the view expressed in Kimmirut and Cape Dorset that those communities have no connection, or commonalty, with the community of Sanikiluaq. It was stated that Sanikiluaq should be a riding by itself or combined with some community other than Kimmirut or Cape Dorset,” the report said.

Sanikiluaq, located on an island in the south end of Hudson Bay, is closer geographically to Quebec than to any region of Nunavut.

In the past the community of 650 had its own member of the legislative assembly, but later it was joined to the Baffin South district with Lake Harbour and Cape Dorset.

Pond would have own constituency

The 20 single-member option also separates Igloolik and Pond Inlet, something people in both communities have been asking for for years.

“We heard residents in both Igloolik and Pond Inlet express objection to the continued ‘pairing’ of these two distinct communities in the same electoral district,” stated the report.

The commission, therefore, recommends that Pond Inlet have its own riding and Igloolik remain in the same district as Hall Beach.

The High Arctic communities would split into two ridings. One composed of Arctic Bay and Nanisivik; the other of Resolute and Grise Fiord.

The commission gave Pangnirtung its own district and left Broughton Island and Clyde together in one riding. All other communities would have their own ridings.

The other option, and the one preferred by the commission, would divide Nunavut into 17 single-member ridings.

Leaders want 20-22 members

While it wasn’t within the commission’s mandate to recommend a 17-district option, they stated it was a response to the repeated concerns they heard about funding a legislative assembly.

“Many citizens expressed a genuine concern about the expense of having 20-22 MLAs in the Nunavut legislature,” stated the report.

There are three major changes between the 20-riding option and the one for only 17 ridings ­ both Rankin Inlet and Iqaluit would lose a seat and the communities currently in the High Arctic riding would stay together instead of separating.

The commission suggested that if the 17-member option isn’t acceptable to the Governor-in-Council, which will make the final decision, seats should be added back to those communities.

The other option contained within the report outlines a proposal for 11 dual-member constituencies.

“We did not find a ground-swell of support for the notion of dual-member constituencies in Nunavut,” stated the report.

As a result, the 11 dual-member proposal in the report was a matter of fulfilling the commission’s mandate rather than a viable option for boundaries within Nunavut.

The report will be debated by members of the legislative assembly when it reconvenes in October.

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