With Trudeau’s blessing, Nunavut’s Liberal hopeful launches campaign

“Nunavut is my heart,” Megan Pizzo-Lyall says

The Nunavut Liberal candidate, Megan Pizzo-Lyall, poses for a photo this past Aug. 1 with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and one of her nieces, 13-year-old Hayley Groves. (Photo by Jim Bell)

By Jim Bell

The upcoming contest for Nunavut’s seat in the House of Commons began to take shape this past Aug. 1, when the national Liberal leader, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, gave his blessing to Liberal candidate Megan Pizzo-Lyall.

“I feel ecstatic. I’m blown away, almost speechless. I’m going to win. I know it,” Megan Pizzo-Lyall, 31, told Nunatsiaq News moments after a late-evening Liberal event held at the Black Heart Café in Iqaluit.

The next federal election is set for Oct. 21, and all national political parties are nominating candidates, raising money and setting out their positions.

Pizzo-Lyall has been campaigning on Facebook for the Liberal nomination in Nunavut for months. She’s the only person to publicly state any interest in the nomination and she appears to have won it by acclamation.

In a short speech, she praised nationwide economic measures the Liberal government has taken since 2015, such as the Canada Child Benefit, a beefed-up Canada Pension Plan, and tax reductions for middle-income earners.

For Nunavut, she stressed housing and communications with the people.

“It is my duty to see more funding allocated to increasing the number of public houses, eliminate poverty,” she said.

Pizzo-Lyall said she’s best at “building relationships and increasing communications with each community in Nunavut.”

Ties to all three regions

In an opinion piece that Nunatsiaq News published last March in connection with the 20th anniversary of the creation of the Nunavut territory, Pizzo-Lyall said Nunavut’s small have-not communities should not be forgotten.

“We need to pay attention to and focus on improving the quality of life in these communities. They matter, and we need to show that by taking action,” she wrote.

Pizzo-Lyall has ties to all three Nunavut regions. She was born in the Kitikmeot region, growing up in Taloyoak and attending high school in Cambridge Bay.

As a young adult she moved to Iqaluit for college and stayed for 10 years, during which time she served as an Iqaluit city councillor. She now lives in Rankin Inlet, where she works as manager of operations for the Inuit investment bank, Atuqtuarvik Corp.

“Nunavut is my heart. I am most content when I am on the land with family and friends,” Pizzo-Lyall said.

Trudeau, after a long day that included an announcement of two protected areas in Iqaluit that morning, followed by a long flight to and from Arctic Bay for photo-ops and a community feast, endorsed Pizzo-Lyall in glowing terms.

“I’m so excited that your voice in Ottawa will be none other than this extraordinary, bright young leader, Megan Pizzo-Lyall,” Trudeau said.

At the same time, he said his Conservative rivals refused to listen to Nunavummiut and, if elected, would take the country backwards.

Trudeau tars Scheer with the “Harper” label

Earlier that day in Iqaluit, Trudeau did not mention national Conservative leader Andrew Scheer by name, referring only to the “Harper government.”

“No one up here wants to go back to the Harper approach,” Trudeau told reporters, in an obvious attempt to portray Scheer as a clone of Stephen Harper, who Trudeau defeated in October 2015.

“Both of us talk about sovereignty, but for the Harper government it’s very much about military and geographic presence and a focus on the people, the Inuit, was simply not there,” Trudeau told reporters that morning.

“What we’ve managed to do is put the Inuit at the centre of building the present and the future in partnership, and with support from Canada. I think that change is the biggest change we’ve seen,” he said.

However, in a visit to Iqaluit this past June 20, Scheer, accompanied by the Conservative candidate in Nunavut, former MP Leona Aglukkaq, accused Trudeau’s government of having no vision for the North and no plan to develop its natural resources.

Aglukkaq, who is attempting to regain the Nunavut seat she won for the Conservatives in 2008 and 2011 but lost in 2015, said the Liberal government has ignored Nunavut’s infrastructure needs.

“Since 2015, we have not seen any federal investments related to addressing the major infrastructure gaps that we do see here. So it is going backwards, in my view,” she said last June.

Liberals move beyond Tootoo embarrassment

Pizzo-Lyall’s candidacy appears to help the Liberals move past the profound embarrassment that their former MP, Hunter Tootoo, created for them in 2016.

Tootoo took 47.1 per cent of the vote to win the seat for the Liberals in the Oct. 19, 2015, election.

But in mid-2016, Tootoo’s political career was destroyed by scandal, after he admitted to a “consensual and inappropriate relationship” with a junior female staff member.

Tootoo lost his prestigious cabinet job, where he served as minister of fisheries and oceans, and departed the Liberal caucus, never to return.

Since then, Tootoo has spent the last three years languishing in obscurity as an Independent MP. Late last month, he announced he’s leaving public life and will not contest the Oct. 21 federal election.

The New Democratic Party has not yet announced a candidate for Nunavut.

But on Aug. 1, the national NDP leader, Jagmeet Singh, accused Trudeau of ignoring Nunavut’s social problems.

“He’ll go pose for photos and hug northerners, but when he gets back to Ottawa and behind closed doors, Trudeau is working for the big polluters and corporations that take advantage of Iqaluit families,” Singh said in a statement.

The Green Party has not yet announced a Nunavut candidate either.

“We have yet to have a confirmed candidate in Nunavut. However, we are working with several people in the community to identify a candidate,” a Green party spokesperson told Nunatsiaq News.

As for the People’s Party of Canada, led by Maxime Bernier, Peter Scholz of Arviat is listed on the Elections Canada nomination contest database as having won the PPC nomination by acclamation.

According to the latest numbers from the CBC national poll tracker, the Conservative Party would take 34.5 per cent of the vote were an election held today.

The Liberals are a close second at 31.9 per cent, while the NDP sit well back at 14.9 per cent.

The Green Party has risen to 10.9 per cent, the Bloc Québecois is at 4.9 per cent and the Peoples Party of Canada sits at only 2.7 per cent.

Share This Story

(23) Comments:

  1. Posted by nunavummiut on

    Good on you, Megan! A couple words of advice though.

    Don’t be so quick with your words such as “I’m going to win, I know it”. That is presumptuous behavior and not very forthcoming and to act like that will lose people’s votes.

    Don’t use words like “going to eliminate poverty”. That in itself is a very bold statement that get’s people’s hopes up when in reality, there are so many factors that need to be dealt with in order to tackle the poverty up here.

    All the best to you, you sure are a fresh face in the old game of old man politics in Nunavut!

  2. Posted by Don on

    I guess she was only one who wanted to run for liberals.

  3. Posted by L’ill Bill on

    No, she’s not experienced but at least has the guts to run and if lucky enough to be elected can learn and would try to improve conditions. Better than what’s leaving and better than the opposition opportunist who’s more concerned about having her picture taken. I hope Miss Lyall would be given a chance.

  4. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    We wish you all the best Megan and you will be a wonderful voice someday.

    but this year the Liberals are going to get blown out of the water and ice all because of the selfie king carbon tax crusader.

    you probably would have been better off flying under the green party or ndp banner but hey, maybe next time…

  5. Posted by Eva on

    NU has nearly 40k residents. There must be 1 qualified person to be a candidate for Lib party?? But then again I can’t imagine many people will be voting this party or PCs. Be interesting who Green & NDP come up with. Hopefully no retreads.

    • Posted by Watching on

      A population of 40,000 is extremely small especially when more than half of them are under the age 18 and not eligible and something like three-quarters of the adults have not finished high school. Nunavut does not have a lot of talent.

      Besides there is only one qualification that matters, and that is the ability to get elected. This woman has a good chance of winning and is electable and therefore is qualified, period. Everybody said Hunter Tootoo was qualified and experienced and look what happened to him.

      There are many successful politicians who started with little experience, all over the country. She’s a young fresh voice with lots of growth potential. Her biggest problem will be dealing with traditional Nunavut misogyny and hatred of women, but then Leona has always had to deal with that problem too.

      Her big strength is that she is outside the Iqaluit bubble and she has a good solid grounding in practical business management, which we need much more of in Nunavut.

      We’ll see what happens but I would say it is 50-50 between Megan and Leona and the NDP will be out of it. Green party is full of anti-hunting animal rights bigots and racists and have no appeal for Inuit so forget about them.

      • Posted by iRoll on

        So was Hunter Tootoo also “qualified” because the only thing that makes one so is being electable? Being electable does not make one qualified, though I agree that people can grow into a position. What matters most is the ability to work hard and adapt, and especially in this case, to build relationships. You go on to say “Her biggest problem will be dealing with traditional Nunavut misogyny and hatred of women.” Really, is that “traditional”? I think this reckless statement demands qualification.

        The idea that anyone would vote for Leona, and I’m sure many will, goes to show how the nexus of time and memory so often fail us. It would be a grand comedy indeed, though I would give her higher marks than the current embarrassment occupying our seat.

  6. Posted by No experience on

    So she held a seat on Iqaluit City Council vs Leona who has several decades experience at the federal level. Making promises to “end poverty” seems like something a liberal would say to get votes. There is no real way to end poverty; not in Nunavut, not in Ontario, nowhere. Sounds like Justin has taught her well.

    • Posted by Soothsayer on

      Decades of experience perhaps, but inertia, rigidity and complacency can and often do follow.

  7. Posted by Arctic Circle on

    Way too confident already, (“I’m going to win it”) and “It is my duty to see more funding allocated to increasing the number of public houses, eliminate poverty,” she said.

    How are you going to eliminate poverty? How? people go hungry everyday, its like we are living in a 3rd world country with poverty, expensive foods. Poor living conditions in Nunavut..

    By the way, just because your running for a hot seat, (Nunavut is my heart), I am a regular individual in Nunavut and Nunavut is my heart too, not only yours. Nunavut is many others heart.

  8. Posted by Oracle on

    I seem to remember Leona continuing to read a newspaper while others stood up and said some people in Rankin Inlet were so hungry they were trying to find food at the dump.
    She just kept on reading… so much care for her constituents.

  9. Posted by Politico on

    This is a tricky election to navigate for Nunavummiut.

    If Leona wins and the Conservatives form the government there’s a good chance she will also end up in Cabinet and have greater ability to channel money and programs North. If the Liberals win Nationally and Nunavut elects Leona, she also has a good chance of being selected as a front-bench critic with greater exposure and ability to raise and push Nunavut-specific issues.

    If Megan wins in Nunavut she’ll be considered a Junior MP and will occupy the back benches with little role in governance regardless of which party wins nationally.

    I don’t like Leona or the Conservatives and certainly don’t want them in power but I also don’t want Nunavut to be lost in the vaccuum of the back benches for another four years.

    What’s a voter to do?

    • Posted by Hold your nose on

      Politico’s comment is by far the most insightful one on this thread. You may not like Leona but, if the conservatives win, she will be in Cabinet and big ticket goodies will flow to Nunavut as a result. Does anyone think we would have got the Cannor headquarters based in Nunavut and the new Iqaluit airport among other things without Leona’s influence as a Cabinet minister. Pizzo Lyall will never have that influence if the Liberals win. There are good reasons to dislike Leona but there are more good reasons to hold your nose and vote for her.

      • Posted by voter on

        Conservatives will not win, they do not have the votes in Ontario and much of the east, polls are showing a shift in support for the Liberals. Next party in power will most likely be a minority government, meaning they will have to work with each other to get this done.

        Leona was in those Minister positions when the conservatives were in power and look at the cuts that still came and the lack of funding and the same old news over and over again. She will be reading a newspaper when food insincerity is being discussed.
        They spent more money on ads (Canada action plan) then the actual programs and recycled funding. Its too bad the Conservatives didn’t pick someone else to run, someone fresh. I’m waiting to see who runs for NDP, right now I am voting for Megan.

  10. Posted by Curious George on

    Congratulations Megan Pizzo-Lyall for becoming the Liberal candidate in the next federal election.

    Please tell us about the process by which you became the candidate.

    Was there a meeting of the Liberal party of Nunavut?
    If so, when and where was it held, how many people attended, who else was nominated, how many ballots were needed before you were selected? What promises did you make prior to being voted for?

    I am interested in understanding the democratic process here in Nunavut, and I’m sure others want to learn too.

    Also, please tell us voters what you plan to do for Nunavut if you are elected, and how you expect to accomplish those things.


    • Posted by Arctic Circle on

      Very good point, there are a lot of great potentials other than Megan Pizzo Lyall, a lot of great leaders who are strong bi lingual leaders, who understand what role and responsibilities as MP of Nunavut.

      Who and how did she get in? where is the process? who got started? when was the ballots open?

      Megan, resign already and lets get another Liberal candidate for MP.

      • Posted by Shamus on

        There are a number of ways to seek nomination for any party in Nunavut. The easiest being, contacting the local riding association. Most of them have Facebook pages, Twitter accounts or I’m sure you can find out by asking around. If you were unable to locate the contact info for the association, a quick phone call to the party headquarters in Ottawa would get you the information you need. It is not hard to find that information out.

        The nomination meeting was last week in Iqaluit for the Liberals, anyone could have attended and put their name forward and set an election in motion. No one did and Megan was acclaimed. This is how the process works all across Canada. She had been campaigning on running for months. No vote was needed because no one else came forward. The local NDP has public meetings but unsure about the Conservatives. Bottom line is, if you want to run for a party, just go for it. Contact the federal HQ of the party of your choice and put your name forward.

        There is no conspiracy here, get active.

        • Posted by Ken on

          I am also curious to how Leona got selected, I was hoping for someone else as towards the end I was not supporting the conservatives anymore, I was not impressed with how she conducted herself and the commitment was no longer there, it just seems now its a power to have and money, not about the people or Nunavut.
          Is there anyone from NDP or Green party?

        • Posted by Iqaluit-center of the universe on

          … “anyone could have attended” – If only it was so easy, I imagine people in the other 24 communities wouldn’t quite agree.

          • Posted by Shamus on

            Hogwash. Any public political meeting I have been to allows people to call in, even for elected positions. Instead of complaining and supposing things that aren’t true, why not call your party’s riding association or the federal office and find out how YOU can get involved locally? Take a look at the candidates for all the parties over the years and you will find that most did not come from Iqaluit. Weird, eh?

        • Posted by Inquiring Minds on

          Please tell us how many people attended last week’s Liberal meeting in Iqaluit?
          How many people participated remotely, by phone, Internet or other way?
          When and where precisely was it held?
          Who was told about the meeting before it was held?
          How was it publicized?
          Was the media informed about the meeting in advance?
          Was the media present?
          -as always-
          The election before the election is very important.

  11. Posted by Platitudes and Pockets with Money on

    I am not a conservative. I didn’t vote liberal.
    The way that Megan and Justin offered platitudes and lip service at Megan’s candidacy announcement gathering is proof that they are both two-faced elitists.
    Justin should not pretend to understand a suicide survivors experience. His experiences do not compare.
    Megan better do her homework on our health care and social needs.

    • Posted by Jeff on

      A Q&A with candidates & subsequent debate between all candidates wd be fun to be a part of. Wd love to ask some questions that knowledgeable candidates wd & shd be able to answer.

Comments are closed.