Nunavut federal candidates make their case during CBC debate

Leona Aglukkaq, Megan Pizzo-Lyall and Mumilaaq Qaqqaq make their pitches to voters

On Oct. 17, CBC Nunavut hosted a federal candidates debate at Inuksuk High School in Iqaluit. The event, which was broadcast live, featured Liberal candidate Megan Pizzo-Lyall, NDP candidate Mumilaaq Qaqqaq and Conservative candidate Leona Aglukkaq. (Photo by Dustin Patar)

By Elaine Anselmi

The Nunavut federal candidates debate, hosted by CBC North in Iqaluit, offered a chance for the three main parties’ candidates to make their case to voters on Thursday, Oct. 17.

The veteran Conservative candidate, Leona Aglukkaq, said her experience in politics—municipal, territorial and federal—gives her a proven ability to navigate federal bureaucracy.

“I was driven to run again out of frustration over decisions made that impact the North with no consultation,” she said.

The last little while, there have been a lot of announcements in Nunavut, including the re-announcement of funding for housing, first made in 2017, she said. With a shortfall of 4,900 houses in Nunavut, “I have the experience in Ottawa to move that file forward.”

“In the first two months, the federal government cut $34 million from transfer payments,” Aglukkaq said. That’s in reference to the changes to the territorial financing formula in 2016, which saw a decrease in funding for all three territories.

However, Ottawa later largely backtracked on the change, leaving a smaller shortfall that year of about $8 million.

And, finally, “I know people are sick of me talking about the carbon tax but I’m hearing it’s making things more expensive for Nunavummiut,” Aglukkaq said. With so much discussion around Nutrition North and lowering the cost of food, increasing the cost of shipping is a major concern.

On mental health, Aglukkaq said appropriate services for Inuit, in Inuktitut, are a must.

For the NDP, Mumilaaq Qaqqaq clearly positioned herself as the voice of change.

“A Liberal or Conservative has held this seat since before I was born, and we’re still talking about the same issues,” she started off. “Mental health, housing—we are fighting for basic human rights when we should be striving and thriving like everyone else in Canada.”

Qaqqaq spoke about the suicide crisis in Nunavut in the House of Commons in 2017, she said. And she would say the same thing today. “Basic human rights are the first steps to be able to tackle this crisis,” meaning food security, housing and health care.

“We need change, we need to stop losing our people,” she said.

“The NDP platform for Indigenous people is 10 pages long. The Liberal’s is about six paragraphs. The Conservatives even less and you have to dig around for it,” Qaqqaq said.

“We need to do better for the first people of our country and the NDP will.”

When asked what electing her would mean, Qaqqaq responded: “Having me in the House of Commons means things don’t go unsaid and undone.… My voice in the House of Commons means people stop making excuses and start taking actions. And that should have been happening for decades.”

Representing the Liberals, Megan Pizzo-Lyall has a plan, her own and her party’s, that relies on both experience and vision for Nunavut.

“I want to clear the air on the carbon tax,” Pizzo-Lyall said. More of a levy, the goal of this plan is to change the minds and actions of people.

The Liberal Party’s carbon tax does increase some costs, but flights in the territory and flying into the territory are exempt. In provinces where it was implemented, the collected tax is evenly redistributed to citizens under the plan.

In Nunavut, the Government of Nunavut is subsidizing half of the additional tax, but collecting the money returned by the federal government to put back into Nunavut’s economy.

On climate change, Pizzo-Lyall said the Liberals are investing, so hunters can hunt safely and so children have clean air and water. “We have made so much progress in the last four years, we cannot go back,” she said.

“Leona is asking you to vote for her because of her experience, Mumilaaq is asking you to vote for her because of her vision. I am asking you to vote for me because of my experience and my vision, but most importantly because we have a real plan to implement the things we promise.”

Green Party candidate Douglas Roy lives in Kimmirut and was unable to attended, but submitted a recorded response that urged residents not to vote with their wallets—”though we’d all like another $50 in our pocket”—but with a mind for the environment.

The federal election takes place on Monday, Oct. 21.

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(17) Comments:

  1. Posted by Arctic Circle on

    Liberal candidate looks stunned and very impressed of how Conservative candidate is debating. NDP candidate is thinking, why am I against her? Leona is all natural at what she does and best choice for all of Nunavut and rest of Canada.

    • Posted by Benoit C on

      I think you’re wrong. The Liberal Candidate was just as good as Leona on the stage and Mumilaaq was 5 times better then both of them. The Green candidate video tape was a joke.

    • Posted by Choices on

      It is important to ask yourself who is the right person to advocate on behalf of Nunavummiut. Clearly the Conservative candidate is experienced and knows how Ottawa works. The other two candidates are bright, but inexperienced and not ready to play in the big league. It’s time to have a true representative for Nunavut, it’s been long overdue.

      • Posted by A True Story on

        Leona is the most experienced and does know how Ottawa works more than either of her competitors. But those facts alone should not make her worthy of anyone’s vote. Her policy positions alone, and her track record are what we should be considering.

  2. Posted by Danny S on

    Mumilaaq and the NDP won this debate too. It wasn’t even close. I was at the debate and I started to feel really bad for the Liberals and Conservatives. Mumilaaq had all the answers and the crowd buzzing.

  3. Posted by Jason R on

    Hoping MLAs and other politicians listened to the debate because they could’ve learned alot for Qaqqaq. I agree politics can look and feel different. Thank you for showing us how it can and should be.

  4. Posted by The energy is building on

    Canada 338 now has the NDP just one percentage point behind the status quo Liberals.
    This is exciting!
    Nunavummiut are discovering that we don’t have to stick with decades of Liberal and Conservative governments who have held us back. Let’s give Mumilaaq a shot! She’s inspiring, uplifting, and unafraid of speaking up and and not following party lines.
    Maybe the NDP are a risk? Fine. OK. But why not take a chance on such a great vision and such a risk? We have nothing to lose from moving away from the two conservative parties that are into big money and pipelines.

    • Posted by Rinse & repeat on

      Another Orange Wave that turned into a ripple, surprised? It’s the same old story every election cycle.

  5. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    I think that someone needs to tell Megan that Mumilaaq is asking people to vote for her because of her vision, and her passion.
    Both Leona and Megan claim that their experience matters a lot in the way you vote, actually it’s the emotional tie that you have with the party leader along the vision and passion of the leader and of the local candidate.
    I think all one needs to do is look at someone even younger to see what passion can do – Greta Thunberg. I think that both Greta and Mumilaaq will do great things in their lives, and I’m glad that there are young adults like this that see what needs to be done and won’t let older folks tell them “No, that’s not the way we do things”
    “And the young shall inherit the Earth.” Nothing wrong with them making sure that there actually is something for them to inherit, and that it becomes a better place for all of us.
    Dammit we’re a rich nation we can certainly spread some of that wealth around to make everyone’s life better. Go Mumilaaq!

    • Posted by Blblblblbl on

      Good comment. I totally agree with you, Old Trapper.

    • Posted by No Moniker on

      Old Trapper, it sounds like you’ve got an acute case of the irrational exuberance. I’m sure you’ve been around long enough to know that the passion and energy of youth rarely crystallizes into the brave new world of which ye spake.

      I’m not against Mumilaaq, I may even vote for her yet. But I won’t expect a lot out of it, though the time in Parliament would be an investment in her future. That may pay off a bit, over time. It may not. Credit to her for putting herself out there though.

  6. Posted by Jack S on

    I said I would vote for the candidate that convinced me the most. Go Mumilaaq, you earned my vote!

  7. Posted by Jimmy P on

    NDP will win this!

  8. Posted by Denuit on

    I’m voting Leona because of her experience. The 3 other candidates have 0 experience in politics and it showed in the debate. I’m very impressed by mumilaaq tho, but give her a few more years in politics and she will have my vote. Leona did a lot for nunavut when she was elected and I’m very happy she is running again. I’m tired of hearing all these promised funding from the liberals but they are all long term goals.

  9. Posted by Home Sweet Home on

    Good luck to all the candidates ! !
    We should have 1 M P for each region of Nunavut.
    Lots of things to teach people:
    1) Manage your money properly.
    2) Lay off liquor, drugs, & gambling.
    3) Think about birth control, it is your responsibility.
    4) Look after your houses, pay your rent.
    Lot of people getting big money & benefits to help and advise
    us Inuit people, what are they doing ?
    Hope our next MP is better than the last.
    Please help everyone, not just your relatives.

    • Posted by Phenotype on

      At around 18,000 voters Nunavut has the smallest number of electors of any riding in Canada as it is. The largest, by contrast has over 100,000; if you broke that district into 4 seats each would still have more electors than Nunavut. So yea, I don’t think Nunavut can justify any more seats at this time.

      The issues you raised are important, but should really be addressed by the territory and the education system

    • Posted by The Old Trapper on

      The Nunavut riding has the second lowest population of any riding (31,906), and the lowest number of electors (18,124). The largest riding by population has 132,443, and the highest number of electors (in different riding) is 101,505 – data from the 2015 election.
      Since we are supposed to be a representational democracy (representation by population), it would seem that Nunavut is over represented.
      Obviously in a country our size, and with populations ever more concentrated in cities, there will be a wide range of population by riding but one MP for each region in Nunavut seems a bit much.

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