Tom Mulcair in Iqaluit: Arctic strategy must put northerners first

NDP leader Tom Mulcair capped his first day in Nunavut’s capital with a shopping trip at North Mart, a visit to the elders centre and an open-door feast at Nakasuk School. His main message to Nunavimuit was that they come first when addressing Arctic issues.

$32M promised to expand Nutrition North food subsidy

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      When NDP leader Tom Mulcair touched down in Nunavut's capital of Iqaluit on Wednesday, he didn't spend long before getting straight to his main message to residents: they should come first when addressing Arctic issues.

      "Last night at the debate we talked about Arctic strategy, and what I said was, anything that we talk about having to do with the North has to be first and foremost about the people of the North," said Mulcair to a gymnasium full of Nunavummiut, or Nunavut residents.

      Mulcair is in Iqaluit for a two-day campaign visit that will wrap up on Wednesday. He is expected to make another announcement in Nunavut's capital this morning.

      On his first day, Mulcair took a shopping trip to a local grocery store, visited the city's elders' centre, and held an open-door feast at Nakasuk School.

      Alexina Kublu, who attended the feast, said "We're not here because we've already made up our mind on who we're going to vote for. You listen and then you decide. That's what I'm here for."

      "I think for me the reason why it's important for the federal leaders to be visiting the communities is because it shows that they care," says Lissie Anaviapik, who says she attended Mulcair's gathering because the NDP is talking about mental health and housing, issues that she believes are key in the North.

      Mulcair used the visit to talk about his party's commitment to Inuit and northerners, stressing food security, housing, support for seniors and suicide prevention.

      $32M to expand Nutrition North

      Mulcair's first order of business in Iqaluit was to pledge an improvement to access to healthy food in the territory.

      "Stephen Harper has used northern communities as convenient photo-ops for years while failing to address the most basic concerns of families — access to affordable food," Mulcair said in a statement. "We will take a different approach so that remote Inuit communities in Nunavut and across the North don't have to rely on cheap, unhealthy foods that also put their health at risk."

      The NDP is promising to invest $32 million to improve the Nutrition North program and expand it to include 50 isolated communities currently excluded from the food subsidy. If elected, the New Democrats are also promising to review the existing program, in partnership with northerners. In addition, they say they'll support culturally appropriate sustainable food solutions.

      Mulcair punctuated his point by making a stop at North Mart, Iqaluit's largest grocery store, purchasing a container of orange juice.

      "We have a container of orange juice you can buy in most places in Canada for $ 4.75," he said. "We spent $11."

      ATV ride through Sylvia Grinnell Park

      NDP Leader Tom Mulcair visited Sylvia Grinnell Park, where he met with NDP candidate Jack Anawak. (Sima Sahar Zerehi/CBC)

      Mulcair also visited Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park on Tuesday, where he met met with NDP candidate Jack Anawak and took a ride on an ATV.

      Mulcair visited Nunavut's capital last September, when he addressed the need for a port, high-speed internet and action on missing and murdered aboriginal women.

      Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has also announced he will be visiting Iqaluit during the election campaign. The date for his visit is not yet confirmed.  

      Mulcair rides an ATV through the park. (Sima Sahar Zerehi/CBC)

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