Nunatsiaq candidates wind down election campaigns


Eroding health care, an unwieldy gun-control law and high unemployment.

Those are the concerns Nunavut voters have been expressing to federal election candidates over the last two weeks.

As they prepared to make their final campaign stops this weekend before polls open on Monday, candidates gently disputed which issue was closest to the heart of electors.

“I’m hearing they need programs for mental health and counselling,” Okalik Eegeesiak, the Progressive Conservative candidate said. “People are concerned that social programs are the first ones to be cut.”

Eegesiak said most northerners also oppose the mandatory gun registry contained in Bill C-68, the new Firearms Act passed by the Liberal government. She’ll spend her last weekend in the Keewatin region, offering voters the chance to help Inuit oppose the legislation.

But Liberal candidate Nancy Karetak-Lindell said job creation, not gun-control, is what concerns the people of Nunavut.

“Once I’ve answered them, they’ve been happy with my answers,” she said about questions voters have asked about Canada’s new Firearms Act.

She said people have been telling her they’re concerned with the high cost of living and decreased child-tax benefits.

Being able to get the jobs that will come with the creation of Nunavut, she said, is another concern. By now, she said, most voters are already decided which candidate they’ll support and are anxious to get to the polls.

“Actually, there were some who went to vote for me last Monday.”

Hunter Tootoo, the New Democratic Party candidate who has been travelling across Nunavut with his 80-year-old grandmother, believes his strength lies with voters who identify with the party’s underdog appeal.

“To me the NDP is always standing up for the small guy, representing the working guy and the working poor. Like it or not, the North is made up of of a lot of these people.”

Tootoo’s only promise to voters has been to represent Nunavut to the best of his abilites, and to remain accessible to all constituents.

“If the person’s going to do the job properly it’s going to mean getting back out into the community,” Tootoo said.

A chronic shortage of housing in many communities is a frequent complaint that Tootoo said exemplifies the need for an MP on a strong socialist platform. But he has also played up his pledge to foster a good relationship between the federal government and Inuit organizations.

“One of the keys to Nunavut’s success is to make sure everybody works together,” said Tootoo. “I think that’s what has got us so far today.”

In the 1993 federal election, 14,368 people voted in the Nunatsiaq riding, now renamed Nunavut. So far, just 10,082 people are registered on the preliminary voters’s list.

People who haven’t been enumerated, or whose names don’t appear on the list can register on voting day. In order to register, voters must bring along identification, which includes a photo and signature. They will also have to show proof of residency, which can be found on a bill from the telephone company or from Northwest Territories Power Corporation.

For information about registering or polling stations, call 1-800-463-6868.Back to Nunatsiaq News

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