Lone Nunavut MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq opts not to seek re-election

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OTTAWA — Nunavut's sole MP says she will not seek re-election when Canadians next go to the polls.

In a social media post Thursday, New Democrat Mumilaaq Qaqqaq said that after "weeks of reflection and consultation with friends and family" she has decided not to run for a second term.

Qaqqaq said last month she was taking time off after her doctor recommended a two-week leave of absence as she dealt with personal health issues.

She had returned to political duties in January after an earlier two-month leave prompted by a housing tour in her territory that she said led to burnout, anxiety and depression.

"As we know, federal institutions like the House of Commons aren't easily changed and governments don't help Indigenous peoples without an immense amount of pressure," she said in a statement posted to Twitter and Facebook and also sent out by the party.

"From raising awareness with my housing tour to raising issues in the House of Commons in question period and in committees, I have taken every chance I could to fight and speak out."

First elected in 2019, the 27-year-old lawmaker did not offer a reason for the decision to step back from politics, but said New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh and the NDP have listened to her voice.

Qaqqaq said she will continue to fight for Nunavut constituents for the remainder of her term and plans to table legislation to get Indigenous languages on federal ballots.

Nearly two-thirds of Nunavut residents' first language is Inuktitut or Inuinnaqtun, she said.

Qaqqaq was among 21 of 24 NDP incumbents who had been nominated to run in a possible election later this year, said Anne McGrath, the party's national director.

McGrath said in an interview that Qaqqaq's election in October 2019 — she was the first New Democrat to win the riding since Nunavut's creation as a territory in 1999 — was "exciting" and "invigorating."

"She brought a lot of perspectives that aren't necessarily heard in Parliament and the House of Commons that I think people need to hear. And I hope that she continues to work in the public sphere."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 20, 2021.

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press