Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut August 24, 2016 - 2:30 pm

Liberals paid Nunavut MP Hunter Tootoo a salary during 2015 campaign

Tootoo asked for $18,000, settled for $10,000 during 78-day election campaign

JANE GEORGE
Hunter Tootoo, then the Liberal candidate in Nunavut, stands Oct. 9, 2015, in the Luke Novoligak Community Hall in Cambridge Bay. A charter flight would take Tootoo back from western Nunavut to meet up with Justin Trudeau who spent Oct. 10 and Oct. 11 with Tootoo in a pre-election campaign visit to Iqaluit. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
Hunter Tootoo, then the Liberal candidate in Nunavut, stands Oct. 9, 2015, in the Luke Novoligak Community Hall in Cambridge Bay. A charter flight would take Tootoo back from western Nunavut to meet up with Justin Trudeau who spent Oct. 10 and Oct. 11 with Tootoo in a pre-election campaign visit to Iqaluit. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)

Unlike other candidates in the last federal election, Hunter Tootoo, the Liberal candidate for Nunavut MP, received a salary.

Tootoo, according to documents filed with Elections Canada, was paid $10,000 on Sept. 15, out of $18,000 he billed for — that’s about $238 a day for the 78-day election period, which started Aug. 2 and ended Oct. 19 with the Liberals taking the Nunavut seat away from the incumbent Conservative, Leona Aglukkaq.

Reports filed with Elections Canada show that neither Aglukkaq nor the New Democratic Party’s candidate, Jack Anawak, received a salary, though a look at Aglukkaq’s expenditures reveals a common practice among federal election candidates — a paid campaign worker, in this case, her longtime former staffer, Cailin Rodgers.

In 2011, the Liberal candidate that year, Paul Okalik, did not receive a salary.

Overall, the 2015 campaign to elect Tootoo was costly: nearly $100,000 compared to the roughly $78,000 that the Liberals spent in 2011.

Then, Okalik took in $6,900 in contributions from individuals. The Tootoo campaign disclosures show no contributions from anyone except the Nunavut Liberal Electoral District Association, for a total for $80,000, using money transferred from the national party.

CTV reporter Laura Payton told Nunatsiaq News that she examined Elections Canada documents in person at the agency’s office in Gatineau for a recent CTV report, and uncovered some other details of the expense statements filed by Tootoo.

She found that the invoice for $18,000, filed by Tootoo for his salary, listed expenses covered by his income such as child and spousal support payments, rent and a truck payment, which he estimated at $7,150 a month.

That’s significantly higher than the median monthly household income in Nunavut, which according to Statistics Canada, stands at $5,400.

Tootoo would also have had access to a Nunavut MLAs pension as well as a severance pension of up to $97,354 , payable after he decided not to run in the 2013 Nunavut territorial election campaign.

At the Elections Canada office, Payton also found a follow-up memo from Tootoo — written in February 2016 — saying he would forgive the amount left owing from the $10,000 he’d already been paid.

Tootoo also received cheques for candidate’s personal expenses, one for $2,105.79 and another for $5,878.65, which included $431.18 for meals and other incidental expenses that Payton saw included flour, sugar and fabric softener.

Tootoo’s expenditures also showed amounts paid for charter flights, to Adlair Aviation for $28,684.04 and and $18,147.15 to Air Nunavut.

Aglukkaq appears not to have travelled by air charters and Anawak’s total flight expenditures came to less than $10,000 during the 2015 campaign.

Overall, the Liberals ran the most expensive campaign in Nunavut, roughly $97,000 against about $83,000 for the Conservatives and about $25,000 for the NDP.

The Conservative electoral district association even have a surplus of $48,000 in their coffers for the next campaign — while Liberals have only a little under $4,000.

Despite the Liberal party’s big investment in his candidacy, Tootoo now no longer sits as a Liberal.

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

Many Inuit women have said they want to hear from Nunavut’s leaders in response to concerns they’ve raised about Tootoo.

Tootoo, who just completed a short tour of Nunavut communities, has not posted anything on social media since Aug. 17 when he posted a Twitter photo of himself with a supporter and a Facebook message expressing condolences for the family of the late Mauril Belanger, the recently deceased Liberal MP for Ottawa-Vanier.

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