Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut September 21, 2016 - 2:30 pm

CamBay mayor critical of Nunavut MP Tootoo’s unannounced visit

"I had no idea he was in town"

JANE GEORGE
Hunter Tootoo, then a candidate for the federal Liberal party, in Cambridge Bay in the fall of 2015. His most recent visit to Cambridge Bay was far more discrete: He arrived unannounced, met about four people, then left quietly. (FILE PHOTO)
Hunter Tootoo, then a candidate for the federal Liberal party, in Cambridge Bay in the fall of 2015. His most recent visit to Cambridge Bay was far more discrete: He arrived unannounced, met about four people, then left quietly. (FILE PHOTO)
Cambridge Bay Mayor Jeannie Ehaloak says she would have liked to see a more official meeting between Nunavut MP Hunter Tootoo and the members of the hamlet council. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
Cambridge Bay Mayor Jeannie Ehaloak says she would have liked to see a more official meeting between Nunavut MP Hunter Tootoo and the members of the hamlet council. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)

CAMBRIDGE BAY—Nunavut MP Hunter Tootoo slipped in and out of Cambridge Bay last week, meeting only a handful of constituents during an unpublicized, unannounced visit to the western Nunavut community.

“You may not have known Hunter was in town,” Mayor Jeannie Ehaloak told hamlet councillors Sept. 19 during the portion of the meeting devoted to statements.

“I had no idea he was in town.”

During his 24-hour stop, Sept. 14 to Sept. 15, Tootoo dropped by to see Ehaloak, unannounced, in her office at the Nunavut Impact Review Board, where she works as communications manager. That office is now in the midst of major renovations.

Ehaloak, who is also president of the Nunavut Association of Municipalities, shares her NIRB office with two other staff members.

“It was very hard to have a discussion,” Ehaloak said.

Ehaloak said Tootoo repeated what he had told CBC television earlier this month, that a childhood plagued with abuse drove him to alcohol addiction, which he did not mention while being vetted by the Liberal party leading up to the October 2015 election.

But apart from that there was no sharing of information, said Ehaloak, who is a long-time advocate of sobriety and healthy living.

Ehaloak later told Nunatsiaq News that she brought up Tootoo’s visit to council so that her comments could get onto the official municipal record.

But it would have been good for him to meet officially with other members of council, she said.

In Cambridge Bay, Tootoo did stop briefly to meet the hamlet’s senior administrative officer, and he met with another councillor at his business.

Coun. Sarah Jancke, who was absent from the Sept. 19 meeting, said she was disappointed to have missed Tootoo.

Tootoo’s constituents in Cambridge Bay who spoke to Nunatsiaq News earlier this month were largely critical of the MP who they helped vote into office last October.

Of the 705 voters in Cambridge Bay who cast ballots Oct. 19, 2015, 49 per cent voted for Tootoo in a show of support for the Liberal party.

But then Tootoo resigned in May as minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard from the Liberal caucus in the House of Commons to enter addictions treatment— and then later admitted to an “inappropriate relationship” with a female staffer in his Ottawa office.

Since his return from treatment, Tootoo also visited Rankin Inlet, Arviat and Pangnirtung, posting photos from these visits on his Facebook page and Twitter account.

But he posted no photos of his short visit to Cambridge Bay, during which Nunatsiaq News was unable to reach him before he left town.

A Sept. 19 article in The Hill Times described Tootoo’s trip to Cambridge Bay as a four-day tour, but Tootoo did not speak directly to the Ottawa-based publication, which got the information from Tootoo’s parliamentary assistant, Henry Wright.

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