Thompson plans to score points with outspoken style

Former territorial politician runs small-scale campaign for federal seat



When Manitok Thompson compares the federal election to a hockey game, she claims to be the only candidate wearing Nunavut colours.

Thompson, the only independent candidate for Nunavut in the election, says her independent status will make her a more effective MP, because she won’t be pressed to vote on legislation the way her caucus wants.

Other candidates, she says, will be like hockey players forced to follow what their coach says, instead of the voters who put them on the ice.

“I’m on Team Public,” she laughed during a phone interview from Rankin Inlet.

Thompson, a 49-year-old veteran of territorial politics, set out on her own shortly before the campaign began May 23, after a falling-out with the Liberal party executive in Nunavut. Months before the election, Thompson boasted she would unseat long-time Liberal candidate and MP, Nancy Karetak-Lindell, for the Liberal nomination.

But Thompson quit the nomination race after the Liberal executive changed the date of their nomination meeting, prompting her to accuse the party of favouring her opponent.

Thompson admits running for office without party backing hurts her campaign, because she lacks the money required to visit more than a handful of communities.

“That’s one of the biggest challenges – asking for contributions,” Thompson said. “But most people who understand the system, when they heard I was running, they asked ‘how can I help?'”

Thompson said she sticks out from the five candidates running to represent Nunavut because of her outspoken approach to politics. Most recently, Thompson showed she doesn’t shy away from controversy when she attacked the Nunavut government’s human rights legislation, which protects gay rights in the territory.

Thompson wanted to remove the clause protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination because she said it didn’t reflect Inuit culture.

“People know me,” she said. “People have known me to be reliable, to be responsible, and I’m an experienced politician now.”

Her federal campaign focuses on economic issues, like pushing Ottawa to give Nunavut more control over its resources, and fast-tracking the federal government’s commitments under the Nunavut land claim.

She said the best way to achieve the most for Nunavut in Ottawa will be coordinating the lobbying done by the Nunavut government, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., and the region’s MP. Thompson said her years spent criss-crossing the country as a territorial minister, and attending numerous federal meetings in Ottawa have prepared her for the job.

Thompson said she knows how to “get people singing the same song from the same song sheet”.

“Up here, we need to get better coordinated,” she said. “We have to keep voicing the same issue, until we get heard.”

Thompson expects to travel to each region of Nunavut, including campaign stops in Cambridge Bay and Iqaluit. Otherwise, Thompson plans to continue doing interviews on local radio stations, and answering calls in at her campaign headquarters, set up on her kitchen table in Rankin Inlet.

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