Mostly new Nunavut MLAs elected in Baffin region races

The latest crop of MLAs to come out of Nunavut's Baffin communities outside Iqaluit are mostly newcomers to territorial politics, although incumbent James Arvaluk held on to his seat in Tuniniq.

Byelection scheduled in South Baffin on Nov. 3

The latest crop of MLAs to come out of Nunavut's Baffin communities outside Iqaluit are mostly newcomers to territorial politics, although incumbent James Arvaluk held on to his seat in Tuniniq.

The Baffin region — also known as the Qikiqtani region — encompasses much of eastern and northern Nunavut.

The Quttiktuq constituency, Canada's northernmost electoral district, is made up of the High Arctic communities of Grise Fiord, Resolute Bay and Arctic Bay.

There, incumbent Levi Barnabas, who was named human resources minister earlier this year, was ousted by Ron Elliott of Arctic Bay in a surprise election result.

Elliott, a 38-year-old adult educator at Nunavut Arctic College, garnered 183 votes over 174 votes for Barnabas — just a nine vote difference. The popular vote share was 51 per cent for Elliott and 49 per cent for Barnabas.

Elliott told CBC News that he will focus on youth issues. Youth seem to be least represented in politics, despite being the territory's largest population group, he said.

South of Quttiktuq is the Tuniniq constituency, which includes the hamlet of Pond Inlet, and Uqqummiut, with the mostly Inuit communities of Clyde River and Qikiqtarjuaq.

Incumbent MLA James Arvaluk kept his seat in Tuniniq on Monday, after gaining 50 per cent of the popular vote over rivals Simon Merkosak and Elizirie Peterloosie.

"I think you have to tell the people up front of what you stand for, and you have learned how to overcome the adversities, and also talk about the issues," Arvaluk told CBC News in an interview shortly after his re-election.

"Don't cover up anything, and tell the people that there are the problems and [here's] how we could tackle them."

In the Amittuq constituency, which includes the communities of Igloolik and Hall Beach, finance minister Louis Tapardjuk won 65 per cent of the vote over Joanna Haulli Quassa, making him one of only two incumbent cabinet ministers to be re-elected on Monday.

Youth a top priority for Komoartok

In Pangnirtung, near Iqaluit, Adamee Komoartok was the first person known to be elected in Monday's election. Komoartok defeated Looee Arreak with 245 votes over Arreak's 147.

Youth and alcohol addiction are top issues for Komoartok, a court worker and deputy mayor in Pangnirtung.

"About 75 [or] 80 per cent of the matters that come before the courts are alcohol-related," he told CBC News on Monday.

"I believe it's not a problem that's solely for Pang; it's for all of Nunavut."

Komoartok, a court worker and deputy mayor of Pangnirtung, succeeds Nunavut Speaker and two-term MLA Peter Kilabuk, who did not seek re-election.

Voters in the South Baffin constituency, which includes Kimmirut and Cape Dorset, will choose their new MLA from a field of four candidates on Nov. 3.

The byelection was called after no one came forward to run in the general election there — a development that nearly prompted outgoing MLA Olayuk Akesuk to consider running again, despite having announced his retirement earlier.

While the Hudson Bay community of Sanikiluaq is more in central Nunavut than in the east, the Hudson Bay constituency was originally part of the Baffin South electoral district, when Nunavut was still part of the Northwest Territories.

There, Allan Rumbolt of Sanikiluaq topped a field of three candidates to succeed outgoing MLA Peter Kattuk, who had represented the area since Nunavut was created in 1999.

Rumbolt, a heavy equipment operator for the hamlet of Sanikiluaq, secured 45 per cent of the vote, surpassing 36 per cent for Johnny Manning and 19 per cent for Bill Fraser.