Canadian politicians argue over Arctic Council leadership

Nunavut MP and Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq will chair the Arctic Council when Canada holds the position for two years starting in January. (The Canadian Press)Northern Canadian Members of Parliament Leona Aglukkaq and Dennis Bevington are in a spat over who should chair the Arctic Council.

Aglukkaq, MP for Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut, was appointed to the position months ago. She’ll become chair when Canada assumes leadership of the Arctic Council in January.

On Monday, Western Arctic MP Dennis Bevington said in Ottawa’s Hill Times newspaper that Canada’s foreign affairs minister should be appointed chair instead. He said appointing Health Minister Aglukkaq means Canada may be less effective in leading the international body.

Aglukkaq responded in a written statement, saying she disagreed and accused Bevington of preferring to have a non-Northerner chair the council.

She went on to accuse Bevington of hypocrisy for his planned trip to Finland to discuss Arctic issues. Aglukkaq said if Bevington believes only the Foreign Affairs minister can talk about the Arctic, he should cancel his trip.

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