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Ittinuar 'seriously considering' Green party run

Former MP Peter Ittinuar, who represented Nunavut under the NDP and Liberal banners in the 1980s, says he is pondering a return to politics with the Green party.

Former MP Peter Ittinuar, who represented Nunavut under the NDP and Liberal banners in the 1980s, says he is pondering a return to politics with the Green party.

Ittinuar, who made history as Canada's first Inuk MP in 1979, told CBC News that he will announce this fall whether he will seek the party's nomination in Nunavut. Green partyLeader Elizabeth May recently told southern media that Ittinuar would be one of her star candidates in the next federal election.

"Certainly I'm not a star, and I'm not a candidate yet," Ittinuar saidTuesday in an interview with CBC Radio.

"I've been asked to consider it and really that's where I stand. And I'm seriously considering it because I found, first of all, Elizabeth May to be a very compelling speaker and leader."

Most recently, Ittinuar sought and lost the Green party's nomination in the southern Ontario riding of Brant. But though he now lives in Ontario, Ittinuar said he still feels connected to Nunavut and follows what's going on there. He added that the territory needs a stronger voice in Parliament. As for the Greens, he said he feels an ideological connection with the party's policies on the environment, health and housing.

Should Ittinuar decide to run for the Green party in Nunavut, he would be joining his third political party. First elected in 1979 as the NDP MP for the Nunatsiaq riding, in what was then the Northwest Territories, he moved to the Liberals in 1982. He ran as an independent candidate in the 1984 federal election, losing to Progressive Conservative Thomas Suluk.

"These days, I can basically afford to luxuriate in what ideologies I find most compelling," Ittinuar said. "I think it's the right time for the Green party in this world."

In 1993, Ittinuar tried to regain the NDP nomination in Nunatsiaq, but then-party leader Audrey McLaughlinrefused to endorse itbecause of his earlier defection to the Liberals.

As for his possible return to politics, Ittinuar acknowledged severalcriminal convictions may become an issue should he make a comeback. In 1986, he was convicted of assaulting his wife and fined. As well, he was convicted in 1979 for possessing a small amount of cocaine.

He said that while those run-ins with the law happened a long time ago, he realizes they could come back to haunt him. In fact, he said it's one reason he is hesitating in his decision to run.

"People try to make sure that it hurts," he said. "Why do I need that ache and heartache and pain again?"

Green party press secretary Camille Labchuk told CBC News that "having a criminal record doesn't necessarily entail not being able to run for the Green party."

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