Nunavut voters suddenly wield a lot of clout

Qaqqaq’s departure creates new opportunity to push northern issues onto the federal agenda

Nunavut voters have a golden opportunity to push northern issues onto the federal agenda in the lead-up to the next federal election. (Photo by Corey Larocque)

By Corey Larocque

And just like that, Nunavummiut are powerbrokers in the next federal election.

The sudden but not-surprising announcement that Mumilaaq Qaqqaq will not seek a second term as Nunavut’s member of Parliament means the riding is truly up for grabs in the next federal election.

The abrupt decision by the New Democratic Party politician who represented the territory since 2019 comes at the end of a tumultuous seven-month period that saw her take two health-related leaves of absence, make an earnest attempt to deliver on her election promise to champion housing issues, and wage a bizarre, high-profile war of words on Twitter with Liberal MP Yvonne Jones over her Inuk-ness.

Qaqqaq’s decision not to run again — less than three months after securing the NDP’s nomination —opens the door to a wide-open race to represent Nunavut. Nunavummiut should use the political uncertainty to their advantage by pushing their own issues onto the federal agenda.

Issues such as housing (quantity, quality and affordability), natural resources development, Arctic shipping and wildlife management are some uniquely Nunavut issues. Now’s the time to get the leaders of Canada’s national political parties to really pay attention to them.

It’s rare when a sitting MP doesn’t run for re-election and voters get a clean slate. When it happens, it’s usually because a long-time politician calls it quits and goes into retirement. What typically follows is wide-open race among newcomers to politics.

This time around, the three biggest political parties — the Liberals, Conservatives and New Democratic Party — will eagerly court Nunavut voters because they desperately need them. Its 20,000 voters could have even more clout than usual in the next election.

All three parties will be trying to end the two years of minority government in Parliament. If Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wants to secure a majority government, taking back ridings like Nunavut will be crucial. If the NDP ever wants to get its hands on power, leader Jagmeet Singh needs to hold onto ridings the NDP already has plus expand into other parts of the country. Losing Nunavut would be a huge setback to New Democrats.

And if Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole wants to bring his party out of the wilderness, he should be looking at places like Nunavut where Conservatives have been successful in recent memory — and where the departure of the sitting MP makes it an easier contest for everyone.

The Green Party’s new leader Annamie Paul might also look at Nunavut as fertile ground since its voters don’t have a strong allegiance to any of the three bigger parties.

Three political parties have planted their flag in Nunavut over the past decade — Qaqqaq for the NDP, Liberal Hunter Tootoo and Conservative Leona Aglukkaq.

Now that Qaqqaq has signalled her intentions, all of the political parties will go hard after Nunavut. Voters should make them earn it. This new twist gives them more clout than they would ordinarily have during an election. They should make it work for them.

Voters often consider the advantages of having their MP in government instead of in opposition. Both Tootoo and Aglukkaq held cabinet positions in the Trudeau and Harper governments (respectively, of course). Nunavummiut might be wise to watch which way the wind is blowing across Canada and strategically pick an MP who would sit in the government benches.

But more than anything, they should take the golden opportunity Qaqqaq’s departure offers to grab the attention of the national leaders who will be desperate to win Nunavut.

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(14) Comments:

  1. Posted by articrick on

    Our only choice is a recycled politician most likely the cons, I can’t see a rookie politician jumping into nunavuts rough political landscape left by the NDP.

    • Posted by Not a liberal on

      Polls are saying liberal majority, will the Nunavut liberals lose it again, start looking now. But I do not have any faith in the current group in charge. Start reaching out all party’s

      • Posted by Strategic voting on

        With the polls showing a Liberal majority we need to vote strategically and not base it on emotions like the last time.
        The party that will be leading is the party we need to go with and use that party to benefit our territory.
        It is much easier for a MP of the same party to meet with Ministers and the PM then a MP from another party.
        Follow the polls and vote strategically.

  2. Posted by S on

    ++ “This time around, the three biggest political parties — the Liberals, Conservatives and New Democratic Party — will eagerly court Nunavut voters because they desperately need them …”
    * REALLY? – NU is one of 338 federal ridings representing .1% of the national population and the same or less of services, production and resource GDP. Plenty of farmland though.

    ++ “All three parties will be trying to end the two years of minority government in Parliament.”
    * NOPE – We’ve had a coalition government for the past two years. Often, as in the current circumstances, coalition governments are stronger than majorities – with the most influential arm of the “majority” part often aligned wholly with the “minority” partner in the coalition. In the current circumstance this holds true for governance, policy and electoral support. Thirty-five percent of the Canadian electorate supports a socialist plutocracy hybrid.

  3. Posted by iThink on

    It’s not only possible that we find a rookie who has the potential to develop into an effective representative, but its necessary and inevtiable. Let’s not allow our most recent experience to unduly bias us against electing someone new.

  4. Posted by withheld on

    Im only voting for someone who isnt scared of covid

  5. Posted by Atiitu on

    voters need to have a “voters 101” list. Parties aside, what in short would it include?
    -min of X years of political experience
    -post secondary education
    -min of X years of progressive work
    -presentation skills
    -manage staff

    • Posted by Balance on

      A balance of home and work life meaning a foundation at home helps.

    • Posted by articrick on

      You forgot the most important, showing up for work without taking multiple “sick leaves”

  6. Posted by Illia Kurijijakin on

    supposed Libs are in again, can we as Canadians tolerate the PM who said he can act alone to break up the country, should any potential separation from Canada calls for national referendum? Absolute power brings in absolute corruptions…Would the premier consider……We are really out of choices are we not? Will I am done with Liberals with their past stupid laws they have passed in the past years as they sit. Justin is probably willing to let Quebec go with 50 billion parting gift….You are nothing like your father who got guts, not stoned minds….

  7. Posted by Choices on

    What are the advantages and disadvantages of Nunavut being represented by someone who is a member of the majority party?
    Advantage: The MP will be one of about 200 members of caucus. Good luck getting heard there. The government might choose to spend money on projects in their riding.
    Might be selected for one of abot 50 Cabinet posts. Would have a voice in Cabinet, but most decisions are made by the Prime Minister’s Office. Probably a little more money spent in Nunavut.

    Disadvantage: Must go along with whatever the party leadership wants. Cannot ask questions in Question Period.
    What are the advantages and disadvantages of Nunavut being represented by someone who is a member of a minority party?
    Can ask questions of the government during Question Period, but there’s no assurance the answer will be related to the question. Can openly criticize the government when criticism is warranted. Can introduce private members bill, but getting support for it would be difficult. Can publically propose ideas which might eventually lead to action, if the leader allows.
    What are the advantages and disadvantages of Nunavut being represented by someone who is not a member of any party?
    It’s a gamble. If one party has a solid majority, the independent member will occasionall get to ask a question in Question Period. If the House of Commons is divided, the independent members may holdthe balance of power and could get support for a Nunavut agenda in exchange for them supporting the government. It would depend on circumstances and the bargaining skills of the Nunavut representative.

  8. Posted by awe on

    We will need to rely on a up and comer, but this time we need someone with some political background and not so childish, then again finding both of those up north is pretty hard to find. maybe one day we won’t have to take the bottom of the barrel down at parliament and get our lower cost of living and also housing issues fixed or closer to fixed, maybe just concede to the “more important” issues down south as per usual.

  9. Posted by Arctic Circle on

    I think Nunavut needs to vote an independant, besides every nunavumiut only vote for the person not the party anyways.

    Lets hope Megan Pizzo Lyall doesn’t run again for Liberal, i am liberal but I voted conservatives because she ran as a Liberal.

    Lets hope Leona Aglukkaq run again as MP as conservatives and I don’t know if anyone will vote NDP again this year.

    I think Mumilaaq is seeking territorial election this fall. Mumilaaq for Premier.

    Lets vote for an independant.

    • Posted by Arctic on

      No way I’d vote for Leona, all the cuts her and her party did in the ten years they were in power! No thank you!
      Besides the Cons will be lucky to come in 2nd with the lack of leadership their party has been showing.


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