Lori Idlout is seeking to be the next MP for Nunavut under the NDP banner, having won the candidacy Aug. 10 as outgoing NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq chose not to run again.
Originally from Iglulik, Idlout is a practicing lawyer and business owner, having represented the Nuluujaat Land Guardians when Baffinland filed an injunction against their protests at Mary River Mine. She also has been elected to the Iqaluit District Education Authority Board twice.
The NDP’s slogan in this election is Ready for Better, which comes with promises of better healthcare, action for climate change, reconciliation, inclusion, and infrastructure. Ready for Better, Idlout says, is Canada’s and Nunavut’s best path forward.
“We’ve heard too many broken promises by the Liberals and Conservatives. With Ready For Better we’re stating why we’re the best party to govern, based on our commitments to have more supports for communities, not focusing on making the rich rich, but taxing them,” she said.
She adds she wants to bring better resources and services in priority areas, “like more housing, renovating and retrofitting existing housing. Making more housing available for seniors and addressing the mold crisis.”
Playing to strengths
Infrastructure, environmental protection and better access to water are also among Idlout’s priorities, among these infrastructure plans she specifically mentioned improving internet access for Nunavummiut.
While representing Nunavut can be a challenge with just one representative, Idlout says she plans to focus on a “strengths-based approach” to shift the conversation on who Nunavummiut are.
“Nunavummiut have great strengths,” said Idlout, “being able to thrive in the Arctic and making sure (our) strength (is used when) we’re negotiating with the federal government, rather than Nunavummiut basically begging for more resources and more services.
“We’ve got to acknowledge the federal government also wants resources from us, that puts us more in a position of power.”
Idlout has been campaigning steadily since August, visiting various communities including Iglulik, Pond Inlet, Clyde River, Pangnirtung, Rankin Inlet, Kinngait and Iqaluit. She has further plans to visit Arviat and Baker Lake, along with more visits to Rankin and Iqaluit.
On Aug. 30, Liberal leader and prime minister Justin Trudeau visited Iqaluit, the first federal leader to do so, making promises to invest in mental health and a $360 million promise for housing in the territory. Promises that were both hollow and familiar to Idlout.
“For him to repeat the same promises again is disappointing,” she said, “it’s frustrating, it’s still not enough for Nunavummiut.”
“I was given figures when I was in Pang (on Sept. 2),” she said. “Those figures that were given to us by the Liberals would result in three new units per year in Pangnirtung … they’ve got at least 50 people on waiting lists.
“They’re promising Nunavummiut will remain on waiting lists.”
While representing Nunavut in Ottawa is expected to be a tough job, Idlout has complete confidence the NDP will be supporting her and Nunavummiut while in the south.
“I’ll have great colleagues to support me and to make sure we have better supports and benefits coming back to Nunavut,” she said.