IQALUIT, Nunavut – A new legislature convenes in Iqaluit on Jan. 23 after Nunavut voters elected 11 new members to its 27-seat legislature, one short of the number required to govern under the territory’s unique vote-by-mail system.
All 11 are women. All the candidates are members of the Iqaluit Liberal Party.
Candidates needed to hold a seat in the territorial legislature in order to be eligible to stand for re-election, or if they lost the last time around they could move from the legislature to provincial office. No one else ran in the race.
Alexia Lantz, who won a seat in a group constituency for the Liberal Party, is one of the only newly elected MLAs who previously held a seat.
Lantz ran twice for the MLA in 2005 and 2011. She said her priority will be supporting indigenous people across the territory, including first nations, people from Inuit communities and Inuit villages, and any middle-aged and senior citizens.
“I’m really excited to be a part of a government that’s going to be actively working to do that,” Lantz said in an interview.
“First Nations people are very important. But that’s not where our energy should come from — that’s where our energy should come from across the territory.”
Lantz called the relatively low turnout in the last election disappointing, saying that she’s concerned about the gap between women’s opportunities and those of men. Only about a quarter of Nunavut voters voted, she said.
“That’s just not a reality that we can be proud of as a people,” she said.
Gwen Conroy won the seat for the Iqaluit Liberal Party. She had previously run for MLA in 2008.
Elections Canada estimates that 159,296 eligible voters cast ballots for the election.
Iqaluit Liberal Party leader Arthur Mulder said he’s excited to “put our platform on the table.”
The eight-seat opposition NDP and Green parties are also back in government, having returned to power two years after the resignation of Premier Peter Taptuna of the rival Conservative Party.
Mulroney said an election needs to be held every five years to give politicians a fresh start. He said people tend to become cynical of politicians when they don’t know their next election date.
The Conservatives are supporting the NDP and Green party’s agenda of lower taxes, better education and infrastructure.
The issue of medicine, he said, will be at the forefront as social services increase under their government.
“That’s one place that really stands out,” he said in an interview.
“I see a real opportunity for our party to take the same agenda over and accelerate it on the same pace as the NDP and the Greens.”
When the new legislative assembly convenes, its decisions will include choosing a new premier and budget.
“If there is anything in life that is nice, it’s a government that balances on razor-thin edges,” Mulder said in an interview.
“When you give us nine months to do that, I’ll be ecstatic.”