Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut August 30, 2016 - 11:45 am

Nunavut Liberal executive depleted following Tootoo scandal

But federal party says it's working to fill vacancies

SARAH ROGERS
Hunter Tootoo is pictured with Liberal supporters in Iqaluit following his October 2015 election as MP. (FILE PHOTO)
Hunter Tootoo is pictured with Liberal supporters in Iqaluit following his October 2015 election as MP. (FILE PHOTO)

If you’re looking to track down a member of the Nunavut Federal Liberal Association these days, good luck to you.

Most of the organization’s executive members resigned in recent months, including the Aug. 6 resignation of the association’s president, Michel Potvin, Nunatsiaq News has learned.

Association members have declined to comment on their departures, saying the organization plans to put out a news release in early September.

If an executive member remains, it would be Ranbir Hundal, although he has not responded to interview requests from Nunatsiaq News.

Resignations at the riding association come in the wake of Nunavut MP Hunter Tootoo’s departure from his cabinet job and from the Liberal caucus earlier this year.

Tootoo, elected as a Liberal MP in October 2015, took a 57-day leave earlier this summer to seek treatment for alcohol addiction.

Upon his return, Tootoo admitted to having an “inappropriate relationship” with a junior staffer on Parliament Hill, which has prompted some Nunavummiut to call for the MP’s resignation.

With no welcome back into the Liberal caucus, Tootoo remains an independent MP, an upset for the 5,619 Nunavummiut who voted Liberal in the last federal election.

One former Nunavut Federal Liberal Association member said the riding association never had anything to do with Tootoo’s nomination in the first place, although the organization threw its support behind Tootoo throughout his campaign.

David Lintaman said earlier this month on social media that Tootoo “was a green light candidate chosen by the party leader.”

Lintaman would not name any other potential candidates the association had flagged.

The federal Liberal party would not confirm if it bypassed the local riding association on its candidate selection.

In an email to Nunatsiaq News, Liberal party spokesperson Braeden Caley said the party is working closely with Nunavut Liberals to help fill vacancies on the riding association executive “very soon.”

“…Dozens of volunteers have already registered as new Liberals in Nunavut in the last month alone,” Caley said, noting the riding organization plans to host its annual general meeting this fall.

“We continue to be fully committed to ensuring that the voices of Nunavut Liberals are strongly represented in the Liberal Party of Canada, and that all Nunavut residents continue to have their ideas heard and priorities shared by the Liberal team in Parliament.”

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