“I’m strong contender” for premier’s job: Curley

Fundamentalist to square off against Paul Okalik

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

PATRICIA D’SOUZA

Tagak Curley, acclaimed last month as MLA for Rankin Inlet North, will spend the next two weeks persuading the new crop of MLAs elected this week that he should be their next leader.

Curley, who announced his intention to seek the premier’s job in November, shortly after the Human Rights Act passed in the legislative assembly, will compete against Paul Okalik, who was re-elected Monday as MLA for Iqaluit West.

“My name stands [as a candidate] for the premier’s job,” Curley said in an interview Tuesday evening. “The premier’s job is a privilege, not a right. It’s up for grabs next month and I’ll take part in it.”

Although seven incumbents were returned to their seats in this week’s election, Curley said he remains confident in his support.

“My chances remain the same. I am a contender, a strong contender, and it remains for me to convince as many members as I can. I don’t take it for granted that I’ll walk in. I will have to get my message across,” he said.

“I’ll have an equal chance.”

He said his supporters in the assembly will be speaking with their fellow MLAs over the coming weeks.

“We do have a core group of supporters as well. They’re talking to other MLAs. We’re not going to do anything extravagant or anything that’s out of the ordinary. I’m just going to try and make sure that my support base continues to expand,” he said.

Though he would not specify which MLAs he counts as his supporters, they may include those who share his Christian fundamentalist background and his interest in overturning the human rights act.

He said he was a little disappointed there weren’t more women elected, and he was surprised that Levi Barnabas was re-elected despite his sexual assault conviction.

“We have very solid representatives that are very community-supportive candidates,” he said. “Overall, I think the representation is quite good from the business side, the culture, and advocates of many issues.”

He said he is also not surprised that so many of the new MLAs – all but two – are Inuit.

“We have used the term ‘the gloves are off in the second round.’ And, as a result, some of the isolated communities were working very hard to put in their own people that are representative of the mix of their communities. I think that was evident yesterday,” he said.

“We had a lot of candidates that were really quite committed to their community,” he said. “So they got in, and we’re going to work together to build a future for our children.”

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