Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Nunavut to Elect New Government Monday as Former Premier Steps Down

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Nunavut to Elect New Government Monday as Former Premier Steps Down

Article excerpt

Nunavut to elect new government


IQALUIT, Nunavut - A total of 72 candidates in Nunavut's general election will be nervously watching the returns in Monday's vote, but the territory's sitting premier won't be one of them.

Peter Taptuna became the first premier in the young territory's history to voluntarily step aside after a single term.

"I'm 2,300 kilometres away from home," said Taptuna, whose commute from the capital of Iqaluit to his house in Kugluktuk takes two days.

"Our 40th anniversary is coming up in January and (my wife and I) decided there's many, many things we want to do as a couple."

No matter who ultimately winds up in his chair, Taptuna has a pretty good idea of the main challenge the next government will face.

"Infrastructure," he said.

Ports, roads, decent Internet -- all of these will cut the cost of doing business in Nunavut and developing its rich resource base. That's how the territory will fund the rest of the development it so badly needs.

"If anything like that is going to be developed, it's going to create jobs," said Taptuna. "It's infrastructure that generates revenue for all levels of government."

Taptuna can point to some achievements in that area -- ports are being built in Iqaluit and Pond Inlet and the capital's airport has been rebuilt. But more is needed.

A road and port along the central Arctic coast, a link from Manitoba to communities along Hudson Bay, a highway from Yellowknife up to the Nunavut coast -- all these would unlock tens of billions of dollars in development, Nunavut argues.

"That's something we've got to focus on, that revenue-generating infrastructure gets built so we can build more social infrastructure," said Taptuna.

By many measures, Taptuna hands off a territory in improved shape.

The books remain balanced. Three mines are now producing and several others are moving forward. The Conference Board of Canada predicted 4.9 per cent growth for Nunavut this year, outpacing the Canadian average. …

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