Canadian eastern Arctic: Iqaluit mayor won’t seek re-election

Iqaluit Mayor Madeleine Redfern will not be seeking re-election in October. Redfern has served as Mayor of Iqaluit since 2015 and previously from 2010 to 2012. (Sara Frizzell/CBC)
Iqaluit, Nunavut Mayor Madeleine Redfern will not run in the upcoming municipal election.

Redfern made the announcement at a city council meeting Tuesday.

“I accomplished what I intended to accomplish in this term, which was to stabilize the city and bring about important changes in respect to finances,” said Redfern.

Redfern said the city was in rough shape financially when she was elected as mayor in 2015.

In a statement made to council Redfern said one of the causes for the city’s deficit in 2015 was a dump fire that cost the city millions of dollars.

In order to get the city in better financial shape, Redfern said council needed to make “tough decisions” like increasing rates for services like water and garbage and reallocating subsidies.

“I am very pleased where the city is at,” said Redfern.

A “challenging” term

Redfern described her term as “challenging,” pointing to “bad leadership and poor governance” such as the “situation” with Nunavut’s Member of Parliament, Hunter Tootoo.

Tootoo left the Liberal caucus and cabinet in 2016 after allegations arose that he had an inappropriate relationship with a female staffer. He now sits as an independent.

“It was important for us to inform and educate everyone in Ottawa what our needs were and to get the support and ideally, at the end of the day, the money that we needed,” said Redfern.

Her statement says the city has secured $60 million worth of federal infrastructure investments during her tenure.

“We need a strong capital”

Because Iqaluit is the largest Inuit community in the North, Redfern said she believes decisions made in the city have impacts on smaller communities and thus Inuit need to play a vital role in making decisions.

“We need a strong capital, we need to have Inuit own and run the capital and ensure that the policies often being made by the territorial government are good for the whole territory, not just Iqaluit,” she said.

Redfern has been the only female on city council since her term started in 2015. The mayor only votes on council decisions to break ties, which she has only done three times in her role.

“By not having any women on council there has effectively been no women vote on decisions that council makes,” said Redfern.

She would like to see a more gender-balanced council in the next election.

Redfern will be returning to work in the private sector when her term is up in October.

She was first elected mayor of Iqaluit in 2010 to 2012. She left the position briefly before returning in 2015.

Iqaluit’s municipal election will be held on Oct. 28.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Northerners welcome changes to Canada’s Nutrition North program, but wish for more, CBC News

Finland: Finland’s new gov breezes through no-confidence vote over its agenda, Yle News

Norway: Inuit, Sami leading the way in Indigenous self-determination, study says, CBC News

Sweden: Swedish Centre Party promises tax break for rural northerners, Radio Sweden

United States: Alaska governor accepts reduced dividends, upholds most vetoes, Alaska Public Media

Jackie McKay, CBC News

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