Aglukkaq tried forcing apology from Nunavut hamlet over dump food scavenging revelations, claims deputy mayor



News that not only informs, but inspires.

Jorge Barrera and Annette Francis
APTN National News
Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq tried to force an apology from a Nunavut hamlet over statements made by its deputy mayor who said high grocery prices in the community forces dozens of residents to scavenge the local dump for food.

Sam Tutanuak, deputy mayor of Rankin Inlet, said Aglukkaq’s office called the hamlet’s senior administrative officer Wednesday asking for a letter of apology addressed to the minister and the Conservative party.

“She wanted to talk to the mayor of Rankin in regards to the comments I had made and that the hamlet of Rankin Inlet should write an apology letter to Leona Aglukkaq and the Conservative party that the Nutrition North program is working,” said Tutanuak, in an interview Thursday evening.

Aglukkaq is the MP for Nunavut.

Tutanuak said no apology is forthcoming.

“I am not apologizing,” he said, in an earlier interview with Nation to Nation host Nigel Newlove. “We have elderly people picking up food from the dump to eat. How can I apologize for something like that?’

Aglukkaq’s office did not return APTN National News’ request for comment on the claim she tried extracting an apology from the hamlet.

Tutanuak’s initial statements about Rankin Inlet residents foraging in the dump for food first aired on APTN Investigates last Friday.

The Auditor General of Canada delivered a report Tuesday containing a scathing review of the Harper government’s new Nutrition North food subsidy program for remote Northern communities. Auditor General Michael Ferguson’s report said the federal Aboriginal Affairs department had no way to determine whether the program was making food affordable or improving Northern residents’ access to healthy foods like vegetables.

On Wednesday, NDP Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair led Question Period on the subject of Nutrition North and referred to the APTN story. He asked Prime Minister Stephen Harper whether he felt “shame” people in the North were getting food at the dump.

Harper sidestepped the question, but Aglukkaq, who sits on the front government bench, began heckling, according to five opposition MPs interviewed by APTN.

All five MPs, three NDP and two Liberals, said Aglukkaq yelled “that’s not true” when Mulcair mentioned the dump.

“The minister clearly said, over and over again, when anyone mentioned the question of people eating out of garbage dumps, that it wasn’t true,” said NDP MP Carol Hughes.

“When our leader (Mulcair) asked about the situation in the far North, Leona was shouting and heckling him,” said NDP MP Charlie Angus. “When the issue came up of people trying to find food at the dump, she said, ‘that’s not true.’”

Liberal MP Judy Sgro said Aglukkaq repeated the words three or four times.

“The minister hollered out ‘that’s not true,’ to the first NDP question, the second NDP question, and the third NDP question,” said Sgro. “She said ‘that’s not true,’ very clearly, those three words.”

Aglukkaq’s spokesperson Ted Laking said Aglukkaq never said those words during Question Period.

“It is false,” said Laking, in an email.

“She denies that she says it, but she said it over and over again,” said Hughes. “She is in denial that it’s happening, but it’s clearly happening and she clearly said it.”

Tutanuak said Thursday that between 50 to 100 people in Rankin Inlet regularly go to the dump looking for food.

“Yeah, you see it. Unfortunately, it’s a common sight,” said Tutanuak.

When asked what he thought when he found out Aglukkaq wanted an apology, Tutanuak said his reaction was not fit for publication.

-with files from Francine Compton-Padilla

 

jbarrera@aptn.ca

@JorgeBarrera

 

afrancis@aptn.ca

@APTNAfrancis

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  • Greg Vezina

    Doesn’t anyone have a camera or phone to take a picture worth a thousand words?

    • Fancy’s_Pants

      If you don’t already know of it, check out the group ‘Feeding My Family’ on Facebook; started by Nunavummiut upset and tired of the precarious food security situation. It’s got dozens of pictures totaling thousands of words, unfortunately.

  • River

    Sure, because as you KNOW, they are not going to change the problem, just find a person they can fire. Stop blaming the least likely to be able to change anything.

  • SemperVigilio

    Disappointing to hear from a people that markets themselves as looking after the elderly. Surely the community could share food with them.

  • Martin Kendell

    The truth is a bitch, eh Aglukkaq?

  • Howard Bernstein

    this is the same minister, of the environment no less, who ignored a toxic dump fire in her riding….

  • severnup

    Well Sam, I trust the good people of Nunavut will do the right thing come federal election time. Leona does not and will not represent the people of her riding and simply parrots the Harper line. The Inuit of Canada’s north need a politician who tells it like it is and speaks on behalf of northern people and northern issues.

  • I_reckon

    The Liberals and NDP need to co-operate long enough to get rid of the cancer that is the Harper party.

  • CheenaEagleGraham

    We gotta get those c.r.a.p. Cons out of office – the sooner the better. They are the most mean-spirited, greedy, uncaring, lying, cheating, excuse for a govt. Canada has ever seen!! Please do not let this story get buried – it should go viral!!

  • Dawn

    Finally maybe something will be done to help people have healthy food instead of junk food, SHAME ON AGLUKKAQ!!! Is she a true proud woman from the beautiful north? I think not, she is a potato, an apple, she brings shame to her own people, a very sad woman, no heart

  • Red Forneri

    Dear Nunavut

    Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq needs to be run out of town, in a matter of speech only. Promote the vote 2015 federal election. Remove Leona from office.

    When is enough, enough?

    ‘Fed’ up yet?

    Register to vote with Elections Canada. <3

    Make your voice count, anything but CONservative!
    Promote the Vote! 2015.

    We can make change with your vote!

  • Roderic Brawn

    Are their no C-130 Hercules in Trenton, that could not be loaded up with food. Feeding Canadians has to be a priority for all Canadians. Away with half-way measures.

    • severnup

      The international space station seems to be getting enough nutritious food quite regularly, why not our Arctic regions?

  • http://missmyrtle2.com Miss Myrtle

    No amount of warm, fuzzy photo ops with the Minister & the PM in the North, can hide the shameful conditions throughout Nunavut and much of the North. Poverty, astronomical youth suicide stats and a general sense of hopelessness for many, have been deliberately ignored by the Government of Canada. AM ASHAMED TO BE A CANADIAN.

  • Proud Canadian

    The gall of Leona Aglukkaq to ask for an apology is disgusting.The thought of anyone eating from a garbage dump is appalling. Our northern brothers need help and this is how our government responds!!!!

  • robinottawa

    +1

  • Daisee

    I hope it’s brought up again and again and again in the House of Commons. Thank you Tutanuak for not apologizing.

  • severnup

    Heave Steve and Leona in 2015!

  • Doris

    Brings tears to my eyes… This is in CANADA!

  • bella Mater

    How do you spell a spit-take?

  • Jimmy Sampson

    I hope that the people of the North when it comes time to vote make themselves not available to vote conservative.