Nunavut won’t elect territorial members of the legislative assembly (MLA) until Oct. 25 but already the campaign has brought back a political legend.
Tagak Curley has put his name forward to be the MLA in the Nunavut election for the Rankin Inlet South Riding.
Curley was the first president of ITK, a NWT MLA for ten years, and a Nunavut MLA for another ten. He left territorial politics in 2014.
Curley faces off against current Nunavut Health Minister Lorne Kusugak.
Kusugak also has a long political history in the territory. The current health minister is a three-time former Rankin Inlet mayor and two-time MLA.
He was appointed health minister in November 2020 and will face questions about the territory’s response to COVID-19 throughout the election.
In total, 58 people are running for the 22 available legislative assembly positions.
Nunavut has historically struggled to find gender balance at the assembly, and this election will bring more of the same. Only 14 of the 58 candidates are women.
There are five ridings where the candidate is running unopposed, including both of the ridings in Arviat.
John Main is running unopposed in Rankin Inlet North – Whale Cove.
In the previous assembly, Main was the chair of the Regular Members Caucus, the rough equal to an opposition leader in the party-based system found in southern Canada.
In Arviat South, Premier Joe Savikataaq is also running unopposed, as well as Margaret Nakashuk in Pangnirtung, and economic development and transportation minister David Akeeagok.
In the South Baffin riding –comprised of the communities of Kinngait and Kimmirut- Education Minister David Joanasie is running unopposed despite nearly two years under fire for the education department’s response to COVID-19.
A former cabinet minister who was turfed by his colleagues is facing four challengers to his seat.
Patterk Netser was removed from the territorial cabinet after a Facebook post asking about how many abortions Black Lives Matter protesters have had. Now he’s facing four contenders and there are fewer than 2,000 residents in the Aivilik riding.
Territory-wide, municipal politicians are taking time off from community councils to take a shot at getting a seat at the assembly in Iqaluit, including a few in Iqaluit.
Iqaluit’s Deputy Mayor Janet Brewster will face Jeff Maurice and Christa Kunuk in the Iqaluit-Sinaa riding.
In Iqaluit-Manirajak, long-time Iqaluit City Councilor Joanasie Akumalik has thrown his hat into the ring against incumbent Adam Lightstone.
In Cambridge Bay, Mayor Pamela Gross has taken a leave to run against incumbent Justice Minister Jeannie Ehaloak.