Conservative leader talks housing, climate change, Nutrition North

Nunavut Conservative candidate Aglukkaq says territory has had “no voice in Ottawa” since 2015

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer (centre) stands with federal Nunavut Conservative candidate Leona Aglukkaq and James Bezan, his party’s defence critic, during a visit to Iqaluit on Thursday, June 20. (Photo by Emma Tranter)

By Emma Tranter

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says his party has “a vision for the North” to unlock its prosperity.

Speaking at a press conference at Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park in Iqaluit on Thursday, June 20, during his first visit to Nunavut, Scheer said the territory needs to develop its natural resources, something he says is “virtually impossible” under the current Liberal government.

Scheer was joined by Leona Aglukkaq, Nunavut’s federal Conservative candidate and former federal minister. Aglukkaq lost her seat in the Oct. 19, 2015 election to Hunter Tootoo, who was then a Liberal.

Scheer did not say whether Aglukkaq would be named a cabinet minister if a Conservative government took office, but said his government would have “representation around the cabinet table from every region.”

“Since 2015, we have not seen any federal investments related to addressing the major infrastructure gaps that we do see here. So it is going backwards, in my view. We’ve had no voice in Ottawa,” Aglukkaq said.

“Our government at the time made significant investments in infrastructure. You can just look at the airport that we built. The deepsea port, the small-craft harbour here.”

Inuit Child First, Indigenous Services Canada

Federal Conservative candidate for Nunavut, Leona Aglukkaq, shows Party Leader Andrew Scheer and defence critic James Bezan some of the plants found in Sylvia Grinnell Park. (Photo by Emma Tranter)

When asked how his party would address the critical need for affordable housing in the territory, Scheer criticized the Liberals’ response to the crisis.

“Part of the reason why I’m here is to listen and to learn and to find out what some of the roadblocks have been,” he said.

“We do know that in the last few years of this Liberal government it’s been a token gesture in terms of addressing the issue.”

Scheer said more details will come about his party’s housing platform during the campaign.

Scheer’s visit comes on the heels of yesterday’s announcement of his party’s plan to protect the environment, if elected. The plan mainly focuses on “investments in green technology” and repeals the federal carbon tax, which comes into effect on July 1 for Nunavummiut.

Every Child Matters, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

The plan also has no clear emission reduction targets.

The Conservative plan is still modelled to meet the Paris Agreement targets, Scheer said.

When asked about his party’s plans for the highly criticized Nutrition North program, introduced by the Harper government in 2011, Scheer said he and Aglukkaq have already been talking about ways to increase food security in the North.

“I’m here to talk to Leona and some of the people in the community for ideas on how the government can strengthen that, whether it’s auditing roles, whether it’s a more robust regime to keep the accounting on where the money is going to and how it’s actually impacting the people in the North.”

The federal government increased funding for Nutrition North in Dec. 2018 and created a new level of subsidy for some nutritious foods, along with Indigenous harvesters support money

Scheer would not say whether a Conservative government would reverse the moratorium on Arctic offshore drilling for oil and natural gas put in place by the federal Liberals.

“On that specific one, that is something we would want to be very sensitive to the concerns of the territorial leaders,” Scheer said.

While in Iqaluit, Scheer has plans to visit the Nunavut Fisheries and Marine Training Consortium and the deepsea port, and meet with community leaders on National Indigenous Peoples Day.

He and his defence critic, James Bezan, will also meet with Iqaluit’s Canadian Ranger Patrol Group.

National public opinion polls suggest that if a federal election were to be held today, Scheer’s Conservatives would form either a majority or minority government.

The CBC poll tracker has the Conservatives at 35.3 per cent, the Liberals at 29.9 per cent, the New Democratic Party at 14 per cent and the Green party at 11.6 per cent.

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(19) Comments:

  1. Posted by Fact on

    “Since 2015… we’ve had no voice in Ottawa,” Aglukkaq said.

    This is the truth. We have a selfish, pointless and useless representative who is in it for himself only, no one else. I hope you enjoyed the ride Hunter, the price you will pay in exchange for it is a name forever diminished.

  2. Posted by Arctic Poor on

    Conservatives want votes? Don’t put Leonna in as your Minister! We are tired of ‘eating cake’. Also get rid of this complete failure of a program your previous government introduced called Nutrition North and bring back what worked: Food Mail!
    Do that and actually follow through on campaign promises and you just may have a chance.

  3. Posted by oh ima on

    She stayed south after lost in last election!~

    • Posted by Who cares on

      So what?

      • Posted by And? on

        And Hunter stayed south after he won. Nunavut has to get serious and vote her back in.

      • Posted by oh ima on

        jesus does! haha, well goes to show she only comes to get elected and live here to really get an idea of what INuit are going through!

        • Posted by iRoll on

          Oh ima, so are you saying that Leona lacks “street cred” since becoming an elected representative at the Federal level? That she’s no longer a real Inuk or, what? I don’t care for her politics and will not vote for her, but… I also suspect she knows what’s going on in Nunavut as well as almost anyone.

    • Posted by Israel MacArthur on

      Ummm, how is that important? Currently, 48% of Inuit ‘stay south’, and it won’t be too long until a clear majority of Inuit ‘live south’.

      Does this somehow disqualify her?

  4. Posted by As if on

    As if Conservatives care about Inuit more than to just use us for votes, or will give more space to Inuit voices than the liberals or any other southern party.

    The only way a real voice for the north can be represented in southern politics, is if they are an independent politician not attached to the Liberals or the Conservatives. Even the NDP would be a stretch.

    We have the least entrenched political landscape in Canada and the most attainable vote margins to send independent politicians down to Ottawa, we just need to try to make it happen. That would be a real voice for us, not token cabinet representations in either the Liberals or Conservatives.

    If Quebec can manage to have regional representation in Ottawa, Nunagat can too.

    The only difference between the Red-tie Southerners and the Blue-tie Southerners, is that the Red-tie ones like to pretend they listen more than the Blue-ties pretend to listen. Both don’t care.

    Tootoo has been a disaster, but Aglukkaq was nothing more than the Cons’ token native mouthpiece.. she was certainly a voice, but not for the north.

    • Posted by Israel MacArthur on

      We also have to acknowledge that there is no “Northern Voice”. We seem to look at northern affairs from a quite narrow Nunavut/Nunavik perspective and seem to forget what the other northern territories and doing and agitating for.

      In short, northern needs are very diverse and other northerners are more populous and are better at representing themselves and working towards their goals.

  5. Posted by Climate Change on

    I haven’t really been following Scheer. Does he acknowledge that climate change is driven by human activity? Or that climate change is actually a thing?

    • Posted by Denier by definition on

      Scheer has acknowledged climate change, and has a brilliant plan (in comparison to the Liberal plastic plan).

      Canada already has a decent plastic management system. Nowhere near the top offenders in the world. I just don’t see why it is an issue. Just made up hokum to get voters worried.


      When they come up with a paper like drink-box water bottle sort of thing; I just might vote Liberal.

  6. Posted by About Time on

    Can’t come soon enough. Leona was the best advocate for Nunavut that we’ve ever had. After 8 years I guess it was time for change but never forget the good things that came out of her tenure. NU would be smart and lucky to have her back again.

  7. Posted by Crystal Clarity on

    All of the parties need to straighten up and pay attention. Nunavut has become a place where the cost of living has become obscene. The average family is existing of rice and macaroni.

  8. Posted by ffs on

    This lame photo-shoot (the photo is ridiculous!) was just an easy way to get some coverage on National Indigenous Peoples Day. Did anyone think to ask Scheer about his Conservative Senators killing Bill C-262, the UNDRIP bill? Are Scheer and Aglukkaqq too embarrassed to be seen in public with Dennis Patterson?

    • Posted by Paul Murphy on

      Do you even know what you are talking about? Or do you just like to post putdowns of your reps? Mr Patterson was on Senate committee work in Ottawa all this week. But why check that for facts when you can put your foot in your mouth.

    • Posted by I used to be disgusted, now I’m just amused on

      Oh yeah, UNDRIP. UNDRIP is like so important.

      1. How many new social housing units will UNDRIP create? Answer = zero.

      2. How many new elders homes will UNDRIP create? Answer = zero.

      3. How many new addiction treatment centres will UNDRIP create? Answer = zero.

      4. How many suicides will UNDRIP prevent? Answer = zero.

      5. How many Inuit will UNDRIP cure from TB? Answer = zero.

      6. How many sexually abused Inuit kids will UNDRIP protect? Answer = zero.

      7. How many jobs for unemployed Indigenous people will UNDRIP create? Answer = zero.

      8. How many new Inuit teachers will UNDRIP train? Answer = zero.

      9. How many women’s shelters will UNDRIP build? Answer = zero.

      10. How many new hospitals will UNDRIP build? Answer = zero.

      11. How many new roads will UNDRIP build? Answer = zero.

      12. How many cultural centres will UNDRIP build? Answer = zero.

      Yep, I can see why UNDRIP is so important, it’s like such a tragedy it never got passed.

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