April 1 Souvenir Edition

November 26, 1982

November 26, 1982 was a landmark day for Nunavut in more ways than one. As Indian Affairs Minister John Munro announced his government's support in principle for the creation of Nunavut, Nunatsiaq MP Peter Ittinuar left the New Democratic Party to join the ruling Liberals.

Ittinuar crosses floor

TED TOWNSEND
Nunatsiaq News

IQALUIT — Nunatsiaq's Member of Parliament Peter Ittinuar announced today that he is abandoning the New Democratic Party to join the ruling Liberals.

Ittinuar's surprise announcement came just minutes after Indian Affairs Minister John Munro announced steps his government plans to take to improve self-government in the Northwest Territories. Those steps include Ottawa's support in principle for division of the NWT.

Ittinuar said the federal government's announcement to support division was not directly linked to his decision to join the Liberal Party, but it did influence the timing of his decision, which he said he made only hours before Munro's announcement.

He said residents of the eastern Arctic are experimenting and learning about democratic government and partisan politics hasn't been a major concern. He added that his constituents have had a chance to see what a representative who is part of a small party can do.

"Now I'd like the people to see what it is like to be part of a ruling government."

Ittinuar said "personal opportunism" hadn't played a part in his decision, and denied rumours circulating in Ottawa that he would become a cabinet minister with responsibilities for the North in return for crossing the floor.

"I have no desire to be a cabinet minister," Ittinuar said.

He refused to reveal what, if anything, the Liberals had offered in return for his support. Ittinuar added Munro and Senator Jack Austin, who also has cabinet responsibilities for northern development, would be accepting his advice on northern issues.

Ittinuar said he does not intend to run in the next federal election because he feels there are prospective candidates more capable than he in representing northern issues, though he didn't name names.