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Conservative leader Andrew Scheer visits infrastructure projects in Iqaluit

The leader of the Conservative Party, Andrew Scheer, visited infrastructure projects in Iqaluit on Thursday.

Scheer was shown around Iqaluit by former Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq

On Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s first visit to Nunavut, he’s being shown around by former Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq. (Sara Frizzell/CBC)

The leader of the Conservative Party, Andrew Scheer, visited infrastructure projects in Iqaluit on Thursday.

At a media scrum at Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park, he told reporters that it was the Harper government that promised the deep sea port to Iqaluit and started the ball rolling on the city's new airport.

Iqaluit's port and Pond Inlet's small craft harbour were promised in the months leading up to the 2015 election — promises which the Liberals honoured.

Scheer said if elected, the Conservatives would do the same with long-term funding announcements from the Liberal government, including its $240 million commitment to social housing, building an addictions treatment centre in Nunavut and a budget increase for Nutrition North.

However, he says while the Conservatives are committed to Nutrition North, they want to look at how the program operates.

"I know there's a lot of frustration here, when people see government announcements, but they don't see that translated to more affordable goods at the store," Scheer said.

He suggested a Conservative government could take on a stronger auditing role for the program to make sure the money makes it to customers.

Andrew Scheer said he was committed to honouring Liberal funding promises in the territories. (Travis Burke/CBC)

Northern resource development

Asked how he would address Nunavut's ongoing housing crisis, he says the plan would be to help make life more affordable for Nunavummiut and offer economic empowerment.

"We're looking to partner with the territorial government, look at ways to bring in economic development... recognizing there's a role to play in social housing," Scheer said.

Part of the affordability promise, he says, is his party's plan to repeal the carbon tax.

For economic development, Scheer is looking at resources. First, he wants to stop bills C-68 and C-69, which are currently in the House and he says would stop the territories from being able to develop their resources.

"When you have a Liberal prime minister that makes announcements declaring huge sections of the north virtually undevelopable, that's not what people here want," Scheer said.

He wouldn't comment on whether he planned on reversing the Arctic offshore drilling ban, other than to say a Conservative government would be sensitive to the concerns of territorial leaders.

In addition to the port, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer will visit a grocery store and the Elders home, and meet with community members while in Iqaluit. (Sara Frizzell/CBC)

Cabinet minister from Nunavut?

On Scheer's first visit to the territory, he's being shown around by former Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq.

He wouldn't say whether she would be considered for a cabinet position, if the Conservatives formed a government.

"I can't say enough good things about Leona... obviously we're going to have representation around the cabinet table from every region, and this is an important region to have that strong representation," Scheer said.

Aglukkaq, originally from Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, announced she plans to run for the Conservative Party in April ahead of this fall's federal election.

In Stephen Harper's government Aglukkaq served as a cabinet minister for eight years, holding the Health and Environment portfolios as well as serving as Minister for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency.

Out of federal politics for the last four years, one of the things Aglukkaq has been up to is serving as a volunteer board member for North Bud, a cannabis production company.  

"It's a new company that's created, so my role on a voluntary basis is to provide advice on the regulatory process in place to Health Canada and guide them through that process," Aglukkaq said.  

She said she does not have an opinion on the legality of cannabis, but she had strong opinions on how Nunavut's been represented at the federal level since her departure.  

"We've had no representation in Ottawa, I'm very disappointed with that."

Aglukkaq and Scheer will be in Iqaluit for Indigenous Peoples Day on Friday. 

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