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Nunavut New Democrats ponder leadership convention

Riding president to attend Toronto convention

By DEAN MORRISON

The Nunavut National Democratic Party riding association will not support any particular candidate at the party’s upcoming leadership convention this March in Toronto, members decided at a public meeting Jan. 26.

The riding association held the gathering to focus on the current NDP federal leadership race, but said they will not back any specific candidate.

But the name of Romeo Saganash, the Member of Parliament for Abitibi-Baie James-Nunavik-Eeyou, who entered the race last September, did come up, with many members praising him as an excellent candidate.

Outremont MP Thomas Mulcair, Parkdale-High Park MP Peggy Nash and former NDP president Brian Topp are considered the frontrunners right now among the eight candidates in the race to succeed former leader Jack Layton.

Layton died of cancer at 61 on Aug. 22, 2011, shortly after leading the federal New Democrats to their best showing ever.

On Mar. 23 and 24, NDP delegates from across Canada will travel to Toronto to choose a new leader, but any member may vote in person, by mail, or online for the next party leader.

People who take out memberships on or before Feb. 18 are eligible to vote and can sign up on the NDP’s website.

The Nunavut riding association’s executive president, Jessica Thompson, said she will attend the convention to ensure that Nunavut has a strong presence and that Nunavut issues are presented.

The Nunavut Land Claims Agreement and social problems such as housing and health remain at the top of the list of issues that Thompson said she will raise at the conference.

Thompson encourages any members who would like to attend the convention to contact the riding association about sponsorship and financial aid at (867) 979-5226.

“I want to have a really strong showing and maybe even have an open house about Nunavut at the convention,” Thompson said.

Thompson said she will also try to build a northern caucus and will network with members from Yukon and the NWT to create a stronger front for northern issues.

“I will try and participate in the women’s caucus and the aboriginal issues caucus, as well as create a northern caucus,” Thompson said.

The NDP won 103 seats in the last election, making huge gains in Quebec and beating out the Liberals for official opposition status.

That seat count has since dropped to 102, following the defection of a Quebec MP to the Liberals.

The Conservatives won the election with 167 seats, earning them a majority.

Jack Hicks, the NDP candidate in 2011, won 19.2 per cent of the vote, coming in third after the Liberal’s Paul Okalik who took 28.5 per cent and the Conservative’s Leona Aglukkaq, who won with 49.5 per cent of the vote.

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