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Hunter Tootoo announced as Liberal candidate for next federal election

Current chair of the Nunavut Planning Commission and former territorial MLA Hunter Tootoo has been announced as the Liberal candidate for Nunavut in the upcoming federal election.

Chair of Nunavut Planning Commission was Nunavut MLA from 1999 to 2013

Nunavut liberals gathered in Iqaluit's francophone centre last night to announce that Hunter Tootoo will be their candidate in the upcoming federal election. (Kieran Oudshoorn/CBC)

Long-time Iqaluit politician Hunter Tootoo is getting back into politics almost two years after announcing he wouldn't seek a fourth term as MLA in Nunavut's 2013 general election. 

At an event on Monday evening at Iqaluit's Franco-Centre, the Nunavut Liberal Association announced that Tootoo will represent the party on the ballot in the next federal election. 

"Feeling great and looking forward to it," Tootoo said Monday night. "People that know me know I'm not shy to walk away... I'll make sure we're heard."

Tootoo ran for the federal NDP in the Nunatsiaq riding, a predecessor to the Nunavut riding, in 1997. He finished third in that election, losing to Conservative runner-up Okalik Eegeesiak and Liberal winner Nancy Karetak-Lindell.

Michel Potvin, president of the Nunavut Liberal riding association, says they aren't worried about Tootoo's political past.

"That was 20 years ago," he said, "so yes, we factored it in, but in the end we have someone who is committed to the party and the platform and really wants to represent Nunavut in Ottawa."

Vocal critic, Speaker

As the MLA for Iqaluit Centre from 1999 to 2008, Tootoo was well-known for his vocal criticism of cabinet. In 2008, he was appointed to cabinet, where he held several portfolios before becoming Speaker of the house in 2011. 

Newly minted Liberal candidate Hunter Tootoo poses at the announcement of his candidacy Monday evening in Iqaluit. Tootoo served as an MLA in Nunavut from 1999 to 2013, and is the current chair of the Nunavut Planning Commission. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)
"I've seen all sides of the floor," Tootoo said. "I know how things work and I bring a lot of experience to the table."

Tootoo does not speak Inuktitut, which some consider a prerequisite for representing Nunavut in Ottawa. 

Last night, he said he didn't think that would be a problem when serving the people of Nunavut. 

Upon leaving territorial politics, Tootoo joined Canadian North. He was then appointed chair of the Nunavut Planning Commission in January of this year. He says as soon as the writ drops, he will be taking an unpaid leave from his airline job and he will also make a decision about his position at the NPC.

Tootoo will run against current Conservative MP Leona Aglukkaq, who announced her candidacy in January, and Green Party candidate Spencer Rocchi.

The NDP has not yet announced their candidate for the Nunavut riding, though Clyde River mayor Jerry Natanine has announced that he's seeking the nomination.

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