Not one person from the public came to the Nunavut Electoral Boundaries Commission's first hearing in Iqaluit Tuesday night, despite requests from city officials for the commission to hold a hearing there.
The Iqaluit public hearing was the first for the commission as it determines if changes are needed to the boundaries in Nunavut's electoral map. It must also decide if more or fewer MLAs are needed in the territorial legislature.
But only members of the media showed up at Tuesday night's hearing, as the three commission panel members sat at a table with rows of empty seats in front of them.
"We have communicated to the public in Iqaluit that this meeting was going on," said Gordon Main, a commission member.
"I take it if people aren't coming, it's because they're not interested and it's not a burning issue with them."
N.W.T. Supreme Court Justice Ted Richard, who is chairing the commission, said nine Nunavut communities had responded to a call for public hearing locations.
City requested hearing
Richard said the City of Iqaluit sent two letters asking the commission to come to Nunavut's capital. One letter even brought up the idea of making Iqaluit one constituency with three MLAs, he added.
But that idea was not discussed, since no city politicians or staff attended Tuesday's public hearing. City council was meeting that night.
"They said, 'Please come,' and so we organized the meeting. We told them when it was going to be some time ago, and I can't explain why they're not here," Richard said.
"I wouldn't say that it means that all the citizens of Iqaluit are happy … but maybe most of them are happy with the fact that they have three MLAs out of 19."
Commission member Kirt Ejesiak said recent changes at city council, including the departure of Elisapee Sheutiapik as mayor last month, may have been a factor.
"The drive to meet with the commission perhaps dissipated with the mayor stepping down," he said.
Richard said people in Iqaluit can still send their feedback to the commission. They have until the end of March to submit a written statement.
The Nunavut Electoral Boundaries Commission moves to Qikiqtarjuaq on Wednesday, then to Kimmirut on Thursday, for more public hearings.