Qualified approval for Nunavut riding plan
Concerns about splitting communities to be aired in legislative assembly

by Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

NNSL (Aug 25/97) - Lines drawn for Nunavut's first election are, for the most part, sensible and realistic, say three MLAs who will be discussing the commission's report when the legislative assembly reconvenes in October.

"I think it was a good piece of work in a short period of time," said finance minister and Keewatin Central MLA John Todd. "I mean, these guys had only three months. They should be applauded."

The electoral boundaries commission visited each of the Eastern Arctic's 28 communities to gather input for their recommendations on how ridings should be drawn up for Nunavut's first election.

NWT Supreme Court Justice Ted Richard headed up the committee, which included former MLA Titus Allooloo and Keewatin Divisional Board of Education member Sandy Kusugak.

In its report, the commission recommended Nunavut be divided into 17 ridings. At the Nunavut leaders summit in Cambridge Bay, it was decided the new territory would be composed of 20 or 22 ridings.

"When we supported the 20-22 (model), it was based on the possibility of the dual-gender system happening," noted Kitikmeot MLA Kelvin Ng.

"Cutting back to 17, I think that's a reasonable number, personally," he added.

"In view of our limited dollars and cutbacks, I can live with it, even though it's not what was tentatively agreed to in Cambridge Bay," said MLA Kevin O'Brien.

O'Brien said he was concerned Baker Lake and Arviat, the two communities in his Kivallivik riding, would be paired with other communities.

"I would rather it stay the same or go to what the commission has recommended," O'Brien said. "That was my submission to the commission."

The commission has recommended his riding be split in two, with separate electoral districts for each community.

Ng said he had the same concerns with his communities. The commission recommended his riding also be split, but Ng said he has problems with the way it was divided.

"Umingmaktok and Bathurst Inlet -- putting them with Kugluktuk doesn't make sense to me. I think they did it purely on population, and didn't look at the family and service ties."

Ng said residents of Umingmaktok and Bathurst Inlet have historically had a closer bond with people of Cambridge Bay than Kugluktuk, and have relied on Cambridge Bay for services such as health care.

Deputy premier Goo Arlooktoo said he will be discussing the report with his constituents during a tour of his constituency in September.