Eva Aariak won’t seek second term as Nunavut premier
“After five years I feel that I have done my part”
Nunavut will get a new premier after the Oct. 28 territorial election, as a result of Eva Aariak’s announcement Sept. 5 that she will not seek a second term as political head of the territory’s government.
Aariak, the MLA for Iqaluit East, will, however, still run for a position in the legislative assembly in the next election, but she will not seek the premier’s position.
“After five years I feel that I have done my part and I decided to announce it at this time so that the people of Nunavut who might be thinking of [being] premier, to give them a chance to think about it further,” she told Nunatsiaq News at the Legislative Assembly in Iqaluit.
Aariak said the “timing is right for her” and that other factors came into play when making the decision — such as her personal life — to not seek the position again.
“I would just like to thank the people of Nunavut for their support. And I will have a chance to say what I want to say when the time comes after the sitting,” Aariak said.
Aariak said during her tenure as premier she has stressed the importance of the consensus government model that Nunavut currently uses at the legislative level.
“I have done it in mind — bringing forward the true definition of consensus,” Aariak said.
“We have consulted with the public, members and the different stakeholders, Inuit organizations and so on. And in fact, when I first came out with the Tamapta mandate I made sure I had approval from all the regular members as well as the cabinet,” she said.
Aariak said she’s proud of what the government has accomplished during her tenure.
“There were certain challenges, including [the] Nunavut housing trust, that we addressed very well and implemented the lessons learned,” she said.
The one thing she would have liked to have seen more progress on is the devolution of responsibilities for public lands and resources from the federal government.
“I would have liked to have seen the devolution mandate a while back, but I feel confident that the federal government and the prime minister made a commitment to keep working on that.
“Indeed they have appointed negotiators so that’s a step. I would just like to see it sooner than later,” she said.
Aariak said the initiatives her government started might take a while to have impact and that Nunavut still has “has a lot to do.”
“We have a lot to do still as a young territory. We have a tremendous amount of social challenges that we need to address,” she said.
Among the important issues which need to be addressed: passing Bill 40, the representative for children and youth act, during the final sitting of the legislative assembly before the Oct. 28 election campaign starts.
“I am looking forward to passing the important bills this time. Particularly, of course, Bill 40,” Aariak said
Aariak was elected premier in 2008 in a secret ballot among MLAs, beating out the first premier of Nunavut, Paul Okalik, and Rankin Inlet North MLA Tagak Curley.
Aariak said she will “totally support the next premier, whoever the next premier would be.”
“I look forward to sitting down with that person once that is in place.”