It's officially campaign season in Nunavut as the writ drops today to kick off the road to the territorial election on October 30.
The 35-day campaign will lead into the territory's fifth general election since its creation. Candidates have until Friday, September 29, at 2 p.m. local time to file their nomination papers.
There will be a number of familiar faces on the ballot. Many MLAs declared their intention to run in the territory's legislature last week. Outgoing Aivilik MLA Steve Mapsalak is the only current representative to declare he will not seek re-election.
It's unclear whether most of cabinet, including outgoing premier Peter Taptuna, will be seeking re-election. Education Minister Paul Quassa is the only minister to announce his intention to run again.
The following MLAs have announced they will seek re-election:
- Simeon Mikkungwak, Baker Lake
- Joe Enook, Tununiq
- Tom Sammurtok, Rankin Inlet North - Chesterfield Inlet
- Allan Rumbolt, Hudson Bay
- Emiliano Qirngnuq, Netsilik
- Pat Angnakak, Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu
- Isaac Shooyook, Quttiktuq
- David Joanasie, South Baffin
- Alexander Sammurtok, Rankin Inlet South
- Pauloosie Keyootak, Uqqummiut
- Paul Okalik, Iqaluit-Sinaa
- Paul Quassa, Aggu
Inuit employment, education major issues
Regardless of who chooses to run, Aluki Kotierk, the president of Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, which represents Inuit in Nunavut, says that she'd like to see Inuit employment and education take centre stage during the campaign.
In particular, Kotierk would like to see a commitment and plan from prospective MLAs on implementing Article 23 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, which aims to increase Inuit employment in the territorial government workforce.
The broader issue of education ties into implementing Article 23, said Kotierk.
"I think the intention should be to graduate Inuit who are bilingual in Inuktut and English, and are bicultural, so they have a good strong foundation in Inuit culture as well as being able to function in a modern society," she said. "It speaks also to the broader issues of Inuit employment and providing programs and services in Inuktut."
In the short term, Kotierk would like to see the government work to transition long term casual employees, many of whom are Inuit, into permanent positions.
Language is also a topic that is expected to receive plenty of attention during the campaign. Kotierk would like to see candidates focus on language in the context of "the broad issue of realizing the vision of Nunavut.
"And I say that in the sense that I think many people expected the public service would provide services and programs in Inuktut for Inuit," she said. "I'm hoping that candidates are speaking about that. Because I'm really hoping that the new government would have a priority in those areas."