IQALUIT, Nunavut — Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau travelled to Nunavut on Tuesday, where he highlighted his promise to protect the High Arctic against climate change and address the concerns of northern residents if re-elected to power in the Oct. 21 vote.
“Like so many of our friends in the North, you are truly on the front lines of the fight against climate change,” Trudeau said in Iqaluit.
“Canada is warming at twice the global rate and our North is heating up at three times the global average,” said Trudeau, emphasizing the fact that Indigenous Peoples and their communities are especially vulnerable to the impacts.
“That means unpredictable and dangerous ice conditions for harvesters. It means disrupted Arctic ecosystems. It means species extinction,” he said.
“Climate change is threatening our jobs, our health and our future.”
The Liberals swept all three northern territories in the last federal election, including Nunavut, which was held by former fisheries minister Hunter Tootoo before he resigned from cabinet and the Liberal caucus to seek treatment for addiction and to deal with personal issues.
Tootoo, who sat as an Independent MP, is not seeking re-election.
The Conservatives are hoping to win back the riding by running Leona Aglukkaq, a health and environment minister under former prime minister Stephen Harper who represented Nunavut from 2008 until the Liberal victory in 2015.
The Liberal candidate is Megan Pizzo-Lyall, a former Iqaluit city councillor.
Like so many of our friends in the North, you are truly on the front lines of the fight against climate change.Justin Trudeau to Nunavut residents
The NDP candidate is Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, who delivered a speech in the House of Commons about the Inuit youth suicide crisis in 2017 as part of the Daughters of the Vote program organized by Equal Voice.
Trudeau made the trip to Nunavut the day after the English-language debate, where he fended off attacks from other federal leaders over his plan to tackle climate change.
The Liberal government committed to efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 and have brought in a federal carbon tax, but they also bought the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project from Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion.
The Liberals say they would help northern, remote and Indigenous communities transition from diesel power to renewable energy sources and expand protections over 25 per cent of Canada’s land and 25 per cent of its oceans.
Conservatives will exploit the North: Trudeau
Trudeau argued the Conservatives do not have a plan to protect the environment in the North.
“They see the North as a place to be exploited, not protected, but that’s not right,” Trudeau said.
The Conservatives have confirmed that leader Andrew Scheer, who visited Iqaluit in June, will not be travelling to the territories during the election campaign.
Trudeau was last in Nunavut in August, when he announced the creation of two new protected conservation areas.
The visit also comes less than a month after the Liberal government unveiled its long-awaited strategy for the Arctic and northern communities.
They had promised the strategy for years, but ended up releasing it the day before the campaign began.
Trudeau said that policy is meant to tackle priorities identified by northerners, and that it includes development alongside environmental protection.
“We know that the only way to move forward is in partnership and respect with local peoples,” Trudeau said.
“That is why we are making infrastructure investments, why we are developing economic opportunities, but we will do it because we listen to Indigenous Peoples and their leadership in a way that sustains this gorgeous land for future generations as well.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 8, 2019.