Nunavut MLA praises Kugaaruk’s “clear decision” on booze

Kitikmeot community voted Feb. 25 to remain dry


Akulliq MLA John Ningark rose March 5 in the Nunavut legislature to express his support for the community of Kugaaruk and its residents, who voted Feb. 25 in a liquor plebiscite to keep their community dry.

“About 300 residents of the community took the time to express their views and exercise their rights by voting in the plebiscite,” he said. “This was an extremely high voter turnout.”

The vote followed a petition signed by more than 25 eligible voters, received last November by Keith Peterson, the minister responsible for the Liquor Act.

The request for the plebiscite was granted in early January.

Nunavut Elections reported that a total of 300 votes were cast Feb. 25 in the community, which has a total population of about 770.

Voters, over age 19 who had lived in the community for at least a year, were asked to say yes or no to a question that asked “are you in favour of replacing the current system of liquor prohibition in Kugaaruk with an unrestricted system where only the general liquor laws of Nunavut apply?”

The results: 108 voted yes and 188 no, with four ballots rejected.

For change to occur, more than 60 per cent of the accepted voters had to vote yes.

In this vote, only 36 per cent voted for the change that would have seen the community cease to be dry. so, the Kugaaruk Liquor Prohibition Regulations will remain in force.

“A clear decision was taken by the community in this matter,” Ningark said.

Kugaaruk is one of six Nunavut communities that remains officially dry. No person can purchase, sell, transport or possess liquor in Kugaaruk, although it’s still affected by bootlegging and alcohol-related crime.

Ningark thanked all of his constituents for taking the time to vote.

“Regardless of which way people voted on this question, the important thing is that they had their say,” he said.

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