Eva Aariak, Glenn Williams enter race, Picco exits
Nunavut election begins as assembly dissolves
As Paul Okalik, the premier, walked down the street to the Commissioner's residence Sept. 19, he nearly got sideswiped by a delivery vehicle.
But Okalik made it to Anne Meekidjuk Hanson's house unscathed to formally ask the Nunavut commissioner to dissolve Nunavut's second Legislative Assembly so that a territorial election can be held Oct. 27.
She did, and territorial politicians officially hit the campaign trail.
Okalik told assembled reporters that the second legislative assembly was one of "much accomplishment" that culminated in the passage of the new education and Inuit language protection laws on Sept. 18.
"We accomplished much of what we set out to do, but as you know there are many challenges in our wonderful territory," Okalik said, bragging that Nunavut's economy grew at a rate second only to the Northwest Territories last year.
"We have to turn the page and turn to those challenges that are ahead of us."
The challenge immediately ahead for Okalik is to get re-elected in his Iqaluit West riding. He's facing his stiffest opponent yet in Elisapee Sheutiapik, Iqaluit's popular two-term mayor.
Sheutiapik stepped down this past week as the president of the Nunavut Association of Municipalities.
In the news release announcing her resignation, she managed to take a veiled shot at Okalik, who's butted heads with NAM over how future resource royalty revenues would be divvied up.
"Devolution of resource royalty revenues and the associated need to have communities do their strategic planning has been the file that has proved most challenging," Sheutiapik said.
Speaking before Sheutiapik's release came out, Okalik was sounding a conciliatory tone on the topic.
"It doesn't matter where [the revenue goes] as long as it goes to the good citizens of Nunavut," he said.
As the official period for nominations opened this past Monday, candidates all over Nunavut began to declare their intentions.
Ed Picco, the education and energy minister, announced he won't run again in Iqaluit East after two terms as MLA there, and one previous term representing all of Iqaluit in the old Northwest Territories assembly.
"This decision has been one of the most difficult of my life," Picco said in a news release.
"I have personally been overwhelmed by the support expressed by my colleagues, the constituents of Apex and Iqaluit, the many elders and Nunavummiut. However, after close consultation with my family, I have decided it is time for us to open a new chapter in our lives."
Also on Monday, Iqaluit city councillor Glenn Williams announced he's taking a run at Iqaluit East and said he made the decision before he learned that Picco isn't running again.
Williams said he wants to make government more accountable, enforce zero tolerance on politicians who commit acts of violence or abuse and improve the health and education systems.
Another well-known Nunavut resident, Eva Aariak, the former Nunavut languages commissioner, will also contest the Iqaluit East constituency.
"I feel that my experience as an educator, former languages commissioner of Nunavut, private business owner and long-time civil servant makes me a strong candidate to serve the people of Iqaluit East," Aariak said in a statement issued Sept. 23
Tagak Curley, who ran unopposed in Rankin Inlet North in 2004, announced in a faxed statement to news outlets Monday he'll take a second run at the seat.
"I have spoken to key elders and friends this weekend and [I'm] happy to say I will be running again in Rankin Inlet North as a candidate," he said.
Levinia Brown, the community and government services minister, said she planned to file her nomination papers this past Tuesday for another run as member for Rankin Inlet South-Whale Cove.
She'll be taking on Lorne Kusugak, the mayor of Rankin Inlet. Kusugak is facing charges of sexual assault and rendering a person incapable of resistance by choking, stemming from an alleged incident in 2001.
Kusugak adamantly denies the charges and says he'll be found not guilty.
"It's got nothing to do with my election," he said in an interview.
Also running again are Levi Barnabas, Steve Mapsalak, David Alagalak, James Arreak, James Arvaluk, Hunter Tootoo, Keith Peterson, Louis Tapardjuk and Patterk Netser.
Olayuk Akesuk, Peter Kattuk and Peter Kilabuk will not run again.
Kugluktuk MLA Joe Allen Evyagotailak stepped down last month to make an unsuccessful bid to become president of the Kitikmeot Inuit Association and Nattilik MLA Leona Aglukkaq stepped down to run as Nunavut's Conservative Party candidate in the Oct. 14 federal election.
One potential candidate who hasn't made his intentions known is Baker Lake MLA David Simailak, censured by the house earlier this month for violating Nunavut's integrity act.
In earlier interviews, Simailak wouldn't declare his intentions.