Elect us and we’ll honour Nunavut port pledge, Liberal candidate says

“If the funding is actually committed, it will stay committed”

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

Nunavut Liberal candidate Hunter Tootoo says his party will pay to build a deep-sea port in both Iqaluit and Pond Inlet, if elected in October. (FILE PHOTO)


Nunavut Liberal candidate Hunter Tootoo says his party will pay to build a deep-sea port in both Iqaluit and Pond Inlet, if elected in October. (FILE PHOTO)

The Nunavut Liberals have upped the campaign-promise ante by promising that if a Liberal government is elected on Oct. 19, marine infrastructure projects in Iqaluit and Pond Inlet will still get built.

Federal Liberal candidate Hunter Tootoo, who accused the Conservatives of using the port projects as “voter bait,” appealed to Nunavut voters Aug. 12 by ensuring a Liberal government would support those infrastructure projects.

“Liberals see many potential uses for these ports and how Nunavummiut can benefit from them,” Tootoo said in an Aug. 12 release. “Leona Aglukkaq and the Harper Conservatives only see one: as bait for votes in the federal election.”

“If the funding is actually committed, it will stay committed,” he added. “Even after the Conservatives lose the election.”

On July 30, just days ahead of the launch of the federal election campaign, Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq announced that a Conservative government would pay $63.7 million, or 75 per cent of the costs of a deep-sea port and small craft harbour in Iqaluit.

And the previous month, Aglukkaq announced her government would fund the construction of a $40-million small craft harbour in Pond Inlet.

But Tootoo says the projects need to move forward “without political interference.”

“The Conservatives have re-announced the Iqaluit port four times since 2006 but have taken zero action,” he said.

“Nunavut could benefit greatly from new deep-sea ports in Pond Inlet and Iqaluit,” Tootoo said Aug. 12. “It would create opportunities for economic growth, better sealift capability and docking facilities for the blossoming cruise ship tourism industry in Nunavut.”

The $40-million project in Pond Inlet is actually not a “deep-sea port” but a small-craft harbour, aimed at protecting small vessels used by hunters and fishermen. It’s one of a list of six that the Nunavut government began lobbying for in 2005.

But the only small-craft harbour on that list to be completed so far is a $40.5-million structure in Pangnirtung, which opened in 2013 and received a second, floating dock in 2014, doubling the number of small-craft berths to 56.

The only other marine infrastructure project in Nunavut, a $130-million deep sea docking and refueling facility for the Navy and other users in Nanisivik, is now under construction with completion expected in 2018

Prime Minister Stephen Harper kicked off a federal election campaign Aug. 2, 11 weeks ahead of the Oct. 19 vote.

In Nunavut, the only major party yet to announce a candidate is the New Democratic Party.

Clyde River mayor Jerry Natanine filed his papers to run for the NDP this year, but announced earlier this week that he did not get the party’s nomination.

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