Short speeches, long days are part of being an MP, Idlout says

Nunavut’s rookie MP reflects on lessons learned in first month on the job

Nunavut MP Lori Idlout has spoken on the House of Commons floor 28 times since her first session of Parliament began. (Screenshot from ParlVu)

By Jeff Pelletier - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The first sitting of the 44th Parliament presented a learning curve for Nunavut’s rookie NDP MP, Lori Idlout.

Procedure in the House of Commons is strict, and MPs have a limited amount of time to speak. In the month the House was back in session following the September election, Idlout rose to speak 28 times, more than several cabinet ministers and veteran MPs.

Idlout, a lawyer by profession, said that she’s had to adapt to the House’s strict time limits because she talks slowly.

“I’m finding it quite challenging to speak fast enough to make sure that I share all of what I wanted to,” she said in an interview as Parliament’s winter break approached. “Each time that I’m making my interventions, I’ve only been able to say about half of what I had planned to.”

For some MPs, moving to Ottawa is a major adjustment, and they face a culture shock because life in the city could be very different from life in their home ridings.

Idlout had previously lived in the city as a University of Ottawa law student, but becoming an MP still posed a big change. Idlout says she has adjusted to the unpredictability of a day in the life as an MP, where nothing is nine-to-five.

“There are so many days where we have 12-hour days, and when the House is sitting, it could be quite intense and unpredictable,” she said. “Having plans is not the best thing because it could change so quickly based on a vote we need to do.”

Idlout has a few items on her agenda. She is continuing former MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq’s push to investigate a former Nunavut priest, Rev. Johannes Rivoire, who is accused of sexually abusing Inuit children. Idlout is encouraging people to bring evidence to the RCMP, and if needed, her office is providing lists of mental health counselling services.

Idlout says she’s also looking forward to serving on the Indigenous and northern affairs committee, where she hopes to learn more about the issues First Nations and Métis communities face, as well as being a voice for Inuit.

“I have had some awareness of the similarities that we, as Inuit, have experienced with First Nations and Métis,” she said. “I’m very excited to learn with this committee how much we’ve all been impacted.”

Parliament is set to resume on Jan. 31, 2022.

Share This Story

(25) Comments:

  1. Posted by Truestory on

    Adapt lady. You chose/elected this job. Now, work for us hard working, tax paying Inuit. Approve the phase 2 at the Mary River mine site.

    • Posted by Stop doing this on

      Lori has no say over the fate of phase two, zero…

      • Posted by Truestory on

        She’ll be part of it.

        • Posted by Pork Pie the Pundit on

          Undoubtedly they will pretend to be interested in her opinion, but the extent of her influence is not likely to reach far. Let’s be glad for that.

  2. Posted by MARS on

    Dear Lori,

    We need more than awareness in the HOC from our MP. The feds are already aware of our struggles. Lets move forward please and adapt otherwise you know what happens to those who do not.

    I didnt vote for you but I will support you for the benefit of Nunavut.

  3. Posted by Uvanga on

    You are doing great! Don’t be too hard on yourself with not talking fast enough. Having english as a 2nd language is extremely hard especially in office settings and I can just imagine how harder it must be with people who have not fully been exposed to our culture. Everything takes time and its always a process! Keep at it! We are 100% behind you as inuqatigiits!

    • Posted by Multilingual on

      She is fluent enough in English to get through law school, which involves making public presentations.

      Also, English is the second language of many people who serve and who have served in the House of Commons. Aside from the people whose first language is French or languages of First Nations and were born in Canada, currently among MPs, there are people who were born in Iran, Burundi, India, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Pakistan, India, China, Lebanon, Dubai, and whose first languages include Cantonese, Mandarin, Hindi, Farsi, Arabic, Punjabi…

    • Posted by Uvanga on

      BTW why has the priest not been charged for abusing (sexual/physical/emotional) Inuit children? Can you imagine the outcry this would be if the children were white? They would track this priest down from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth. We are never first, we are always a forethought.

      • Posted by Observer on

        He was charged, but the charges were stayed because the Justice Department decided it was a waste of time to pursue them because he’s a French citizen and is in France. The French government never extradites its citizens, ever. And before you go off on your rant, you should know that the US Government has been trying for decades to get France to extradite Roman Polanski for the statuatory rape of an underage girl. A white girl, as it happens, and haven’t been able to do it either. So when it comes to this issue, your skin colour doesn’t make a bit of difference.

      • Posted by David on

        This is why:
        “France, like many civil jurisdictions — continental countries in Europe — will not extradite its citizens, does not trust a foreign country’s justice system to try its citizens,” said Don Bayne, the Ottawa lawyer who has represented Diab throughout his case.
        Many Nunavut officials and politicians are telling people he can be, but they are not being sincere or honest about it. Legally he can be, but France is not going to extradite him and has been very upfront about it. Canada can’t make France do anything France doesn’t want to.

    • Posted by Mark M. Koroi on

      Lori Idlout appears to be Canada’s version of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a progressive minority member who represents oppressed constituents. AOC would be a good role model for her.
      NDP is likely the best political party for her – I could not see her being a Conservative.

      • Posted by Amazed & Amused on

        Her predecessor, who shall not be named, loved to LARP herself as an AOC. I don’t know about Lori, but she undoubtedly see’s herself as a progressive heroine of sorts.

  4. Posted by Northern Guy on

    Ms. Idlout should be commended. In the first sitting of Parliament she has already accomplished more than our previous two MPs combined. It will be interesting to see what happens when the committees are up and running.

    • Posted by Bill Tagalik on


  5. Posted by Lawyers on

    Lawyers like herself love to speak slowly because at the end of the day, they get paid by the minute

    • Posted by Lol on

      In Nunavut the vast majority of lawyers are Legal Aid and work for people for free.

      • Posted by David on

        Legal aid…….. means the government is paying them because the perp charged with the crime is too poor to pay. The majority of lawyers in Nunavut are certainly not working for free.

        • Posted by Lol on

          When clients do not pay it is called free legal advice. Nunavut will give legal aid for more than criminal law also, including for dead beat dads and tenants who don’t pay rent. So guess what, most lawyers in Nunavut get salary and not paid by the minute as suggested by another uninformed poster.

  6. Posted by Make the Change on

    Initiate a way to make it possible for MPs to speak less often, but for longer periods of time.
    It’s a matter of cultural accommodation. Not all MPs are from fast-talking cultures.

  7. Posted by Requesting justice. ( Cambridge Bay ) on

    Lori, Do not be so hard on yourself, with experience you will get better !
    I understand you trying to get an apology from the pope, through the Vatican because of
    the conduct of some of their members.
    Myself and many others would like an inquest into N.T.I. , MMIWG, who we feel are getting
    large wages and fees , nothing to show for it.
    Bring charges against Inuit people who have abused people, many are as guilty as priests !

  8. Posted by Mark M. Koroi on

    So far so good – maybe she will one day shine as the first Inuit prime minister of Canada.
    She has Ottawa House of Commons politics in her blood.
    She kind of reminds me of Lester Pearson.

  9. Posted by Stella Kablalik on

    It takes time. Practice makes perfect. It helps to read a book at nights.
    Also listening to random videos with excellent narration helps

    Keep at it – your doing Great!

  10. Posted by Prospector’s Beard on

    Lori does have a rather long and drawn out cadence regardless of the language she is speaking in. She is also a lawyer so being unnecessarily wordy and lengthy when saying things is par for the course.

    But let me add my voice to the chorus of those giving praise. Politics are in her blood and I’d go further than Lester Pearson, Lori reminds me of a true Canadian icon. Prime Minister Kim Campbell.

  11. Posted by You Need To Practice (and time) Your Speeches Beforehand on

    “Each time that I’m making my interventions, I’ve only been able to say about half of what I had planned to.”
    Also known as, “I didn’t properly prepare for the time I was allotted.”

    • Posted by David on

      Nailed it.

      Many professionals are in the same boat and have limited speaking time, and there is tolerance for not being prepared. I am really surprised she said that out loud, as your critique is bang on.


Comments are closed.