Leona Aglukkaq

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Not to be confused with Susan Aglukark.
The Honourable
Leona Aglukkaq
ᓕᐅᓇ ᐊᒡᓘᒃᑲᖅ

Leona Aglukkaq 2014.jpg
Minister of the Environment
In office
July 15, 2013 – November 4, 2015
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Preceded by Peter Kent
Succeeded by Catherine McKenna
Minister of Health
In office
October 30, 2008 – July 15, 2013
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Preceded by Tony Clement
Succeeded by Rona Ambrose
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Nunavut
In office
October 14, 2008 – October 19, 2015
Preceded by Nancy Karetak-Lindell
Succeeded by Hunter Tootoo
Member of the Nunavut Legislative Assembly
for Nattilik
In office
February 16, 2004 – September 10, 2008
Preceded by Uriash Puqiqnak
Succeeded by Enuk Pauloosie
Personal details
Born (1967-06-28) June 28, 1967 (age 48)
Inuvik, Northwest Territories
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Robbie MacNeil[1]
Children Cooper[1]
Residence Gjoa Haven, Nunavut[1]

Leona Aglukkaq, PC (Inuktitut syllabics: ᓕᐅᓇ ᐊᒡᓘᒃᑲᖅ; born June 28, 1967) is a Canadian politician. She was a member of the non-partisan Legislative Assembly of Nunavut representing the riding of Nattilik from 2004 until stepping down in 2008; then was a Conservative member of the House of Commons of Canada representing the riding of Nunavut after winning the seat in the 2008 federal election. She was the first Conservative to win the seat, and only the second centre-right to win it.[2][3] She remained MP until she was defeated in the 2015 federal election by Liberal candidate Hunter Tootoo.[4]


Aglukkaq was born in Inuvik, Northwest Territories and raised in Thom Bay, Taloyoak and Gjoa Haven (formerly in the Northwest Territories but all three are now in Nunavut). She is married to Robbie MacNeil and has a son, Cooper.[1]

Prior to running as an MP, Aglukkaq served on the Hamlet Council of Cambridge Bay. She was also a Government of Nunavut public servant, working for the Office of the Clerk of the Nunavut Legislature, and as the Deputy Minister of Culture, Language, Elders and Youth. Information regarding Aglukkaq's post-secondary education has never been made public.[5]

Political career[edit]

Territorial politics[edit]

Arctic Council Chairman Leona Aglukkaq and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry wave to people in her hometown of Iqaluit

First elected to the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut representing the electoral district of Nattilik in the 2004 Nunavut election, she held the seat until stepping down on September 10, 2008 to run in the federal election. She was the Minister of Health and Social Services and the Minister Responsible for the Status of Women in the Executive Council of Nunavut.

Federal politics[edit]

Minister of Health[edit]

Aglukkaq was named the Minister of Health on October 30, 2008,[6] and is the first Inuk in Canadian history to be appointed to the Cabinet of Canada.[7] Jack Anawak and Nancy Karetak-Lindell previously held parliamentary secretary positions, which are not part of the cabinet itself.

Considerable public attention was focused on Aglukkaq during the 2009 swine flu outbreak where hundreds of Canadians were infected with the H1N1 virus. The Liberal health critic said that Aglukkaq was doing a "terrific job," and especially liked how the minister phoned all opposition critics to build consensus on the swine flu issue.[8][9]

Health Canada officials sent two dozen body bags, normally sent to hospitals, to a Manitoba First Nation. The move was interpreted by some to mean the government was not being upfront with First Nations about the danger they face from H1N1, some others saw it as offensive. After Aglukkaq investigated the incident, she accepted an apology from the Health Canada official who sent the body bags, saying that it was an accident and that she found no wrong intention on their part.[citation needed]

Since the outbreak, Aglukkaq has appeared on various television shows, including CBC News Network's Power and Politics with Evan Solomon, underlining the government's immunization plan.

Aglukkaq was criticized by some[who?] for refusing to sign the Vienna Declaration on drug policy reform, which deemed "the evidence that law enforcement has failed to prevent the availability of illegal drugs [...] unambiguous," and called for a "science-based approach" based on harm reduction strategies such as needle exchange programs and "safe injection" sites, because the Declaration was in conflict with the Conservative government's long-established policy against drugs.[10]

Re-election and continued incumbency[edit]

Aglukkaq was reelected in 2011 with nearly 50 percent of the vote, defeating a field of challengers which included former Premier of Nunavut Paul Okalik, who ran as the Liberal nominee.[11][12] She was the first centre-right MP in the history of the riding to win a second term.

On August 23, 2012, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that Aglukkaq will serve as chair of the Arctic Council when Canada assumes the Chairmanship from Sweden in May 2013.[13]

Aglukkaq gave no indication of support for the nationwide Idle No More protests in 2012/13, and called on Chief Theresa Spence to give up her hunger strike, abandon her request to meet with the Prime Minister and the Governor General of Canada, and instead speak to Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan.[14]

Minister of Environment[edit]

On July 15, 2013, Aglukkaq was named Minister of the Environment,[15][16] which includes responsibility for Parks Canada, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and Environment Canada.[citation needed]

In December 2014, Aglukkaq apologized for reading the newspaper while opposition parties asked the government about high food prices in the North during Question Period.[17] During the 2015 Canadian federal election, Paul Okalik, Nunavut's Health and Justice Minister expressed his discontent with Aglukkaq's actions by reading a newspaper whenever Aglukkaq spoke at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation election forum in Iqaluit.[18]

In the election, Aglukkaq was pushed into third place, behind Liberal candidate and former Legislative Assembly speaker Hunter Tootoo and NDP candidate and former MP Jack Anawak.

Electoral History[edit]

Canadian federal election, 2015: Nunavut
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
Liberal Hunter Tootoo 5,619 47.11% +18.49
New Democratic Jack Iyerak Anawak 3,171 26.58% +7.14
Conservative Leona Aglukkaq 2,956 24.78% -25.07
Green Spencer Rocchi 182 1.53% -0.55
Total valid votes/Expense limit 11,928 100.0     $202,334.18
Total rejected ballots 95
Turnout 12,203 62.54%
Eligible voters 19,223
Source: Elections Canada[19][20]

Canadian federal election, 2011: Nunavut
Party Candidate Votes % ∆%
Conservative Leona Aglukkaq 3,930 49.85 +15.07
Liberal Paul Okalik 2,260 28.62 −0.38
New Democratic Jack Hicks 1,525 19.44 −8.18
Green Scott MacCallum 160 2.1 −6.27
Total valid votes 7,875 100.0  
Total rejected ballots 56 0.71
Turnout 7,931 46.66
Eligible voters 16,998
Conservative hold Swing +7.73
Canadian federal election, 2008: Nunavut
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
Conservative Leona Aglukkaq 2,806 34.78 +5.72 $59,574
Liberal Kirt Ejesiak 2,359 29.24 −10.74 $59,600
New Democratic Paul Irngaut 2,228 27.62 +10.47 $20,095
Green Peter Ittinuar 675 8.37 +2.45
Total valid votes/Expense limit 8,068 100.0     $80,098
Conservative gain from Liberal Swing +8.23

2004 election[edit]

2004 Nunavut general election: Nattilik
[21] Name Vote %
     Leona Aglukkaq 305 42.84%
     David Irqiut 203 28.51%
     Anthony Anguttitauruq 130 18.26%
     Simon Qingnaqtuq 30 4.21%
     Ruediger H. J. Rasch 28 3.93%
     Sonny Porter 11 1.55%
     Tom Akoak 5 0.70%
Total Valid Ballots 712 100%
Voter Turnout 107.04% Rejected Ballots 3

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Rookie Health Minister fulfils her dream – and then some". The Globe and Mail. October 30, 2008. Retrieved 2015-10-05. 
  2. ^ "Canada Votes 2008: Electoral results for Nunavut". CBC News. October 14, 2008. Retrieved 2015-10-05. 
  3. ^ "'Change is long overdue': Aglukkaq paints Nunavut Tory blue". CBC News. October 15, 2008. Retrieved 2015-10-05. 
  4. ^ Zerehi, Sima S. (17 October 2015). "Hunter Tootoo celebrates Liberal win in Nunavut". CBC News North. Retrieved 23 November 2015. 
  5. ^ Kilian, Crawford (December 13, 2012). "Can't Call Canada's Conservatives Overeducated". The Tyee. Retrieved 2015-10-05. 
  6. ^ "Harper shuffles cabinet to create 'right team for these times'". CBC News. October 30, 2008. Retrieved 2015-10-05. 
  7. ^ Aglukkaq is first Inuit cabinet minister, Canadian Press, October 30, 2008.[dead link]
  8. ^ "Rookie health minister stays cool in swine flu spotlight". CTV News. April 27, 2009. Retrieved 2015-10-05. 
  9. ^ "The week everyone loved Leona". Macleans. May 1, 2009. Retrieved 2015-10-05. 
  10. ^ Galloway, Gloria; Picard, Andre (July 23, 2010). "Harper, Aglukkaq singled out for stinging rebuke at AIDS conference". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2015-10-05. 
  11. ^ "History of Federal Ridings since 1867 (Nunavut)". Parliament of Canada. Retrieved 2015-10-05. 
  12. ^ "Aglukkaq re-elected in Nunavut as Tories sweep to majority government". Nunatsiaq Online. May 2, 2011. Retrieved 2015-10-05. 
  13. ^ "PM Harper: Nunavut MP Aglukkaq will chair the Arctic Council". Nunatsiaq Online. August 23, 2012. Retrieved 2015-10-05. 
  14. ^ Levitz, Stephanie (December 28, 2012). "Chief on hunger strike should give up and meet Aboriginal Affairs Minister, Aglukkaq says". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2015-10-05. 
  15. ^ "Leona Aglukkaq named new environment minister". CBC News. July 15, 2013. Retrieved 2015-10-05. 
  16. ^ "Aglukkaq takes environment post as Ottawa seeks to win over First Nations, U.S.". The Globe and Mail. July 15, 2013. Retrieved 2015-10-05. 
  17. ^ "Leona Aglukkaq admits reading newspaper was a 'bad idea' during question period". CBC News. December 5, 2015. Retrieved 2015-10-05. 
  18. ^ Sponagle, Jane (14 October 2015). "Audience steals the show at CBC's federal election forum in Iqaluit". CBC News. Retrieved 15 October 2015. 
  19. ^ Elections Canada – Confirmed candidates for Nunavut, 30 September 2015
  20. ^ Elections Canada – Preliminary Election Expenses Limits for Candidates
  21. ^ "Nunavut general election 2004 Election Results" (PDF). Elections Nunavut. p. 41. Retrieved 2008-09-24. 

External links[edit]

28th Ministry – Cabinet of Stephen Harper
Cabinet Posts (3)
Predecessor Office Successor
Peter Kent Minister of the Environment
from 15-Jul-2013
to 4-Nov-2015
Catherine McKenna
Tony Clement Minister of Health
from 30-Oct-2008
to 15-Jul-2013
Rona Ambrose
John Duncan Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency
from 18-May-2011
to 4-Nov-2015