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Nunavut Election 2017 – Quassa ready to become premier

After being elected to a second term as Aggu MLA by 10 votes, Paul Quassa is prepared to become the territory's premier.

Paul Quassa

"Oh definitely," he said. "That's why I wanted to get re-elected. I feel I can do the job. Having been able to negotiate a Nunavut Land Claims Agreement right to the end and knowing the inside-out of the agreement, I think one needs to have that qualification to be able to lead and follow the vision of why we created Nunavut."
Quassa, former president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., said the existing political system needs to be overhauled to create "a truly Nunavut-style government" and the next premier must be able to work cooperatively with Inuit organizations.
"I told my constituency right at the start we do need a strong leadership, in terms of directing the cabinet how to think, how to react," he said. "This is what we need in our leadership. I think I have that qualifications, again, with my experience."
He also reiterated his message that the government needs to be more understanding, compassionate and "truly wants to help out in our communities' needs."
Housing, social issues and education are consistently the issues that he has been hearing about, he said.
Regarding education, Quassa, who served as education minister in the last legislative assembly, refused to declare Bill 37 dead, despite regular MLAs voting down the attempt to revise the Inuit Language Protection Act and the 2008 Education Act. That bill included a controversial 10-year delay to implement school lessons in Inuktitut at all grade levels.
"I think we're obligated to get a new Education Act to meet our needs for our young people, our children," he said. "We do need to have a strong educational system to have our next generation successful and be on par with the rest of Canada."
Quassa eclipsed fellow candidate Matt Teed 106-96 in the Oct. 30 election.
"As elections go, nobody ever knows what the outcome will be," Quassa said of the tight race.

About the Author: Derek Neary

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