Four days after Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s brief appearance in Nunavut’s capital, another high profile Grit dropped in on Iqaluit over the weekend.
The appearance of Carolyn Bennett, minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, on Oct. 12 signals the party’s urgent desire to reclaim Nunavut’s sole House of Commons seat as polls show the Liberals at risk of losing the Oct. 21 general election, or at least its governing majority.
Bennett along with Megan Pizzo Lyall, the Liberal candidate for Nunavut, spent about two hours during the early afternoon “knocking on doors” in the Road to Nowhere area of Iqaluit.
Shortly after 3 p.m. both Bennett and Pizzo Lyall spoke at Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum in downtown Iqaluit where they were met by local media.
Bennett said her party is aiming to work with Indigenous partners to repatriate Inuit cultural properties and ancestral remains taken from the territory for archaeological displays down south.
Pizzo Lyall added, “one thing that we’re always trying to do within Nunavut is increase the amount of tourism that comes to the territory.”
The two Liberals outlined no specific plan for how the Liberal government would facilitate the repatriation.
When local media asked the candidates to provide more information about the costs and specific plans to deal with Nunavut’s housing crisis, food shortages, and high speed internet woes, no new information was provided.
Asked how she could justify her visit to Iqaluit, Bennett responded:
“It is about actually supporting Megan, in the way that we have, knocking on doors and meeting with people for the rest of today and tomorrow morning with the Francophone community.
“We hope that this is about us showing how important it will be to have a representative who will bring the wishes of Nunavummiut to Ottawa, not the other way around.”
The Liberals are trying to hang on to Nunavut after taking the seat away from the Conservatives in 2015 with Hunter Tootoo. He was forced out of the Liberal caucus in 2016 and is not seeking re-election.
While Pizzo Lyall is getting support from some big name Liberals, Conservative Leona Aglukkaq, who is trying to mount a comeback after losing to Tootoo in 2015, said she has been focused for four weeks travelling the territory to meet as many Nunavummiut as possible.
“I want to hear first hand what matters most to the residents of this amazing and beautiful territory,” said Aglukkaq when reached for comment.
When Nunavut News asked how confident she felt about reclaiming the lone Nunavut seat for the Conservative Party, Aglukkaq replied, “I’m not making any predictions or taking anything for granted. I am wholly focused on meeting with community members and learning about what matters most to them. I just want to encourage people to vote and am hoping that they recognize my experience as an asset.”
Also seeking the seat is the NDP’s Mumilaaq Qaqqaq and Douglas Roy of the Green Party.