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Tootoo busy on campaign trail
Just 21 days until the voters go to polls in federal election

Michele LeTourneau
Northern News Services
Thursday, October 1, 2015

"It's been busy as heck," said Liberal candidate Hunter Tootoo about campaigning for the Nunavut seat in the federal election since the writ dropped a month ago.

NNSL photo/graphic

Liberal candidate Hunter Tootoo, flanked by Conservative candidate Leona Aglukkaq and NDP candidate Jack Anawak, participate in an all-candidates forum organized by the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce in Iqaluit Sept. 24. - photo courtesy of Hunter Tootoo

But with only three weeks left, his campaigning will be ramping up.

"We went down to Iglulik," he said. "We had a great visit in Iglulik."

The plan on the ground is to meet and speak with as many people as possible.

"I get on the local radio. We had an almost two-hour radio show in Iglulik. I talked and then people phoned in with questions and comments. I go around knocking on doors, talking with people. I try to meet with the municipal council, if possible. In Iglulik I met with the mayor and the (senior administrative officer). I talk with some of the business people in town."

Unfortunately, weather cancelled his flight to Cape Dorset last, but he will be rescheduling that.

"I'm heading off to Rankin on Sunday. I'm planning to get into Baker Lake, Arviat and Whale Cove, as many communities in the Kivalliq as I can."

Tootoo also plans on touring the Kitikmeot communities the following week.

The Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce held an all-candidates forum in Iqaluit Sept. 24. Unlike a debate where candidates face off in direct exchanges, this event was set up as a question-and-answer forum, with time limits for each candidate. Conservative incumbent Leona Aglukkaq and NDP candidate Jack Anawak participated with Tootoo.

"The room had a capacity of 100 and it was full, they had to close the door," said Tootoo about interest in the forum.

"We had some really good questions."

As an example, Tootoo says candidates were questioned about the Northern residents tax deduction.

"As you know, it hasn't been increased since 2007. It's one of the first things I actually talked to (Liberal Leader) Justin about when I met with him earlier this spring. It needs to be addressed. It needs to be increased and indexed."

Tootoo says this falls in line with helping people in Nunavut have more affordable lives, and helps put food on the table.

"When I was an MLA here, in the last 10 years, more than once we asked the federal government to increase it and got no response at all from them."

How to support small business and create a prosperous business environment in Nunavut came up as a question. Tootoo says that was an easy one.

"I talked about our historic infrastructure investment. Over 10 years the Government of Nunavut will be able to build on their priorities, like housing, and what they want to address for infrastructure.

"They'll have long-term stable funding," he said, adding "that type of infrastructure investment and those types of projects create jobs and also have spinoff benefits for small businesses around the territory."

Another issue raised was the amount of money that leaves the territory via payroll.

"I forget where they got the numbers from, an economic forum. They stated that in 2007, I think it was $121 million that left the territory via fly-in, fly-out workers. In 2014 it was $291 million. Leona was going on about their historic investment in the North and I said, 'Well, there it goes.'"

People have been responsive to him, said Tootoo.

"I've been getting tremendous feedback and tremendous support. It's great. A lot of positive feedback."

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