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Three South Baffin candidates run for election

No balloons or painted campaign buses, and barely any door-to-door soliciting. Unlike the noisy campaigns to the south, the first election in Nunavut was informal and low-key. Residents in small communities already knew the candidates running — and their families. When people went to the polls in 1999, they did it on their own terms, electing a consensus government and making special provisions for voting in a vast territory. They were looking for candidates to tackle the region's toughest obstacles: poor access to health care and high suicide and unemployment rates.

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"New Government, New Face" is Olayuk Akesuk's campaign slogan. He's running for MLA in the riding of Baffin South. Although Akesuk has no previous political experience, his nomination papers were the first ones filed in all of Nunavut.

Political campaigns are old hat to opponent Matthew Saveakjuk, who has already run for MLA twice in the Northwest Territories. Saveakjuk is sure the third time will be lucky.

On the other end of the spectrum is Goo Arlooktoo. Touted as a possible premier, he's a long-time politician and a former deputy premier and justice minister. The three candidates are featured in this CBC Television profile of the Baffin South riding.

While serving in the Northwest Territories government, Arlooktoo was involved in major cuts to education, health care and housing -- top issues in these elections.

Will his record hurt him this time around? "There are these kind of liabilities that we carry," Arlooktoo explains.
• Arlooktoo had been MLA for the N.W.T. riding of Baffin South before the creation of Nunavut.
• This time around, Arlooktoo was defeated by Akesuk. There were 511 votes cast. Akesuk won by 53 votes. The election result was considered a huge upset in light of Arlooktoo's political prominence in the eastern Arctic.
• The two communities in Baffin South are: Cape Dorset, population 1,148 and Kimmirut, population 433 (2001 census).

• Some of the election issues, as heard in another CBC clip of Nunavut voters commenting at the polls, were: housing, employment, health care, homelessness, education, consistency of services and a better sense of well-being.
• After the election, the first piece of legislation tabled by the MLAs was Bill 1: The Flag of Nunavut Act.

• The flag chosen was half yellow and half white, divided vertically by a red inuksuk -- a popular Inuit stone structure -- and has a small blue Niqirtsituk or North Star in the second quarter (upper right).
• By 2003, 80 bills had been passed through Nunavut's first legislature.
• Candidate Matthew Saveakjuk is a carver by profession. He is seen carving soapstone in this television clip from CBC Yellowknife's Northbeat. One of his sculptures sold for $1,500.

• In 2000, a National Post article entitled "Hot Inuit Art" reported that an increased interest by English and American art collectors was driving up prices for Inuit soapstone carvings.
• At a Toronto auction in 2000, Pitseolak Ashoona's woollen wall hanging went for $16,000.
Medium: Television
Program: Northbeat
Broadcast Date: Feb. 10, 1999
Guest(s): Olayuk Akesuk, Goo Arlooktoo, Matthew Saveakjuk
Reporter: Paul Quassa
Duration: 7:29
Pictured: Olayuk

Last updated: September 20, 2013

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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