Political tug of war

by Derek Neary- October 14, 2017

There’s a movement in Hall Beach to get the next Amittuq MLA elected from that community, and Hall Beach Mayor Peter Siakuluk is on board.

Louis Tapardjuk: If population growth warrants, Hall Beach may get its own riding in future elections.

“If we had a person from Hall Beach representing Hall Beach, then we will get better representation,” Siakuluk said, via interpreter Jayko Simonie.

Four of the seven Amittuq candidates in the Oct. 30 territorial election are from Hall Beach. They are hoping to end a streak of three straight terms represented by someone from Iglulik. In 2013, victor George Qulaut garnerered 244 votes to 103 for Paul Haulli, who resides in Hall Beach. They are both vying for the seat once again.

In the two elections prior to that, Iglulik’s Louis Tapardjuk came out on top.

The only Hall Beach representative to be sent to the legislative assembly goes all the way back to Nunavut’s first territorial election in 1999, when Enoki Irqittuq earned the most votes among five candidates.

Hall Beach has the advantage in terms of registered voters, with 391 compared to 257 for the portion of Iglulik that is included in the Amittuq electoral district, but it comes down to how the vote is split, noted Tapardjuk, who is familiar with the political tensions between the two communities from his two terms in office.

“I tried to spend as much time as possible in Hall Beach (to) address their needs,” Tapardjuk said. “I was a minister but my family was in Iglulik, so I had that flexibility to be amongst the constituents.”

Nunavut’s electoral boundaries will inevitably be examined again in a few years and that may finally bring an end to the conflict, Tapardjuk suggested.

“Hopefully there will be enough population to warrant Hall Beach to have its own riding,” he said. “For the time being, based on the (current) population, I think that’s the best we can do at the moment. You know, it’s a numbers game. That’s politics.”

Asked what pressing issues exist in Hall Beach for the next MLA to tend to, Siakuluk’s interpreter Simonie said: “One of the concerns that (Siakuluk) has is the Nunavut government is very slow getting the municipal legislation in place. Most of the hamlets are still using NWT mandates and not Nunavut yet, especially when it comes to bylaws. When we want to make a bylaw we still have to use the NWT (template) because they’ve got nothing for Nunavut yet and here we are in 2017.”

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