Hunter Tootoo

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Hunter A. Tootoo PC (Inuktitut: Hᐊᓐᑕ ᑐᑐ; born August 18, 1963) is a Canadian politician who served as the Member of Parliament for Nunavut from 2015 to 2019. Elected as a Liberal to the House of Commons, he was appointed Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard by Justin Trudeau on November 4, 2015. Tootoo resigned from that position on May 31, 2016, to take a leave from Parliament to seek treatment for alcohol addiction. He returned to Parliament by the end of July 2016 after the completion of his treatment program, but sat as an independent member for the remainder of the 42nd Parliament and did not run for re-election.


Before federal politics, Tootoo served as a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut, where he represented the riding of Iqaluit Centre from 1999 to 2013. Tootoo was Speaker of the Legislative Assembly from 2011 to 2013. He was a member of the New Democratic Party from 1997 to 1999. [4] [5]

Early life and career

Tootoo was born in Rankin Inlet, the son of Batiste Tootoo, an Inuk, and Sally Luttmer (née Wolfe), originally from Montreal and descended from Lithuanian Jewish immigrants. [6] He is a businessman in northern Canada, and was the co-founder of the Iqaluit branch of Arctic Insurance Brokers Ltd. Tootoo is a former member of the Northwest Territories Co-op Business Development Board, the Sport North Board of Directors, and Arctic Co-operatives Ltd. [5]

Tootoo has long been involved in government administration. He served as regional coordinator for the town of Arviat in 1993. He became the administration officer for the NWT Department of Recreation and Tourism in 1995, and was named as the corporate control officer of the NWT Department of Finance later in the same year. In 1997, he became assistant director of the NWT Housing Corporation in Iqaluit. Tootoo was a member of the Public Service Alliance of Canada in this period. [5]

Political career

He began his political career as a member of the Hamlet Council of Rankin Inlet. [5] In the federal election of 1997, he ran for the Canadian House of Commons as a candidate of the New Democratic Party in the riding of Nunavut. He finished third, behind Liberal Nancy Karetak-Lindell. Tootoo spoke out against the Liberal government's gun registration program during this campaign.[ citation needed ]

Territorial politics

Nunavut became a separate jurisdiction in 1999, and Tootoo declared himself a candidate for the territory's first general election. He was easily elected in Iqaluit Centre, defeating three opponents. He was returned again in the 2004 election, although by a narrower margin, and again in the 2008 election. During his time in the legislature, he served as Minister Responsible for the Nunavut Housing Corporation, Minister Responsible for Homelessness and Minister Responsible for the Qulliq Energy Corporation. [5]

The government of Nunavut is structured along non-partisan lines, and all members are elected and serve as independents. Tootoo was often described as the unofficial leader of the legislative opposition. In 2003, he successfully tabled a motion to remove Jack Anawak from the Nunavut cabinet.

Federal politics

Tootoo was selected on July 27, 2015, as the Liberal candidate for the Nunavut federal electoral riding in the 2015 Canadian federal election. [7] Tootoo stepped down as the chair of the Nunavut Planning Commission shortly afterwards. [8] On October 19, 2015, Tootoo won the election, defeating Conservative incumbent and cabinet minister Leona Aglukkaq. [9]

Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

On November 4, 2015, Tootoo was appointed as Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard in the 29th Canadian Ministry; [10] Tootoo became the first Fisheries Minister to be from Northern Canada. [11] He resigned from the cabinet on May 31, 2016, citing issues with addiction. [12] Tootoo also resigned from the Liberal caucus and his cabinet role was filled by Dominic LeBlanc. [12] The Globe and Mail reported that Tootoo entered treatment for alcohol abuse. [13]

As independent MP

By July 25, 2016, Tootoo completed his alcohol addiction treatment program and resumed his duties as an MP starting with an invitation to a constituency open house on the 28th. [14] In the same month, after a report by The Globe and Mail, Tootoo admitted that he had had a "consensual but inappropriate" relationship with one of his female staffers which led to his resignation, which had been kept quiet in respect for the privacy of the other parties. [15] [16]

In September 2016, Robert Fife of The Globe and Mail reported that after Tootoo broke off his relationship with his female staffer in favour of a relationship with her mother, the staffer damaged his Parliamentary office, which prompted Tootoo to tender his resignation to Prime Minister Trudeau. [15]

He did not seek re-election in the 2019 federal election.

Post-political career

In 2020, Tootoo became the president of the Nunavut Curling Association. [17]

Personal life

Tootoo is the cousin of hockey player Jordin Tootoo and the nephew of Manitoba NDP MLA George Hickes. Tootoo's mother is Jewish from Montreal. Tootoo is also an avid curler. He has played for the Nunavut team at three Canadian Curling Club Championships (2013, [18] 2019 and 2021). [19] In 2021, Tootoo was a member of the Wade Kingdon team at the Nunavut Brier Playdowns. They lost in a best-of-five series, three games to two. [20] [21]

Electoral record


Hunter Tootoo
Hᐊᓐᑕ ᑐᑐ
Hunter Tootoo 2015.jpg
Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
In office
November 4, 2015 May 31, 2016
2015 Canadian federal election : Nunavut
Liberal Hunter Tootoo 5,61947.11+18.41$32,110.96
New Democratic Jack Iyerak Anawak 3,17126.58+7.22
Conservative Leona Aglukkaq 2,95624.78-25.12$36,393.17
Green Spencer Rocchi1821.53-0.51
Total valid votes/expense limit11,928100.00 $203,887.65
Total rejected ballots950.79
Eligible voters19,223
Liberal gain from Conservative Swing +21.77
Source: Elections Canada [22] [23]
1997 Canadian federal election : Nunavut
Liberal Nancy Karetak-Lindell 3,30245.88−23.87$30,212
Progressive Conservative Okalik Eegeesiak1,73724.13+3.54$11,251
New Democratic Hunter Tootoo 1,71023.76+14.10$11,918
Reform John Turner4476.21
Total valid votes7,196100.00  
Total rejected ballots480.66
Liberal notional hold Swing −13.70


2008 Nunavut general election: Iqaluit Centre
[24] Name Vote%
 Hunter Tootoo31761.7%
  Madeleine Redfern 14628.4%
 Joe Sageaktook519.9%
Total Valid Ballots514100%
Voter TurnoutRejected Ballots
2004 Nunavut general election: Iqaluit Centre
[25] Name Vote%
 Hunter Tootoo26344.80%
 Mike Courtney16728.45%
 Natsiq Alainga-Kango7813.29%
 Mary Ellen Thomas376.30%
 Kevin MacCormack294.94%
  Pauloosie Paniloo 132.22%
Total Valid Ballots587100%
Voter Turnout 101.73%Rejected Ballots 2
1999 Nunavut general election: Iqaluit Centre
[26] Name Vote%
 Hunter Tootoo26154.95%
 Lynda Gunn9520.00%
 Johnny Nowdlak6413.47%
 Bill Strickland5511.58%
Total Valid Ballots475100%
Voter Turnout %Rejected Ballots

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  1. The Honourable Hunter Tootoo, archived from the original on May 25, 2012, retrieved September 22, 2013
  2. Hunter Tootoo, archived from the original on September 28, 2007, retrieved September 22, 2013
  3. 1 2 "Hunter Tootoo's resignation means loss of influence for Nunavut, analyst says". CBC News. June 16, 2016. Retrieved September 18, 2016. The Liberals confirm he is still a member of the party but he's sitting as an independent in Parliament.
  4. Government of Nunavut (5 December 2007). "Standing Committee – Ajauqtiit – Ministerial Appearance on Bill 6: Official Languages Act ; Bill 7: Inuit Language Protection Act ; Iqaluit, Nunavut" (PDF). Assembly of Nunavut.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 The Honourable Hunter Tootoo MLA for Iqaluit Centre, archived from the original on October 3, 2010, retrieved September 22, 2013
  6. Devils winger Jordin Tootoo's 'in' with the Canadian Prime Minister
  7. As election campaign heats up in Nunavut, Liberals anoint Hunter Tootoo
  8. "Hunter Tootoo steps down as chair of Nunavut Planning Commission". CBC News. 1 August 2015. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  9. "Hunter Tootoo celebrates Liberal win in Nunavut". CBC News. October 19, 2015. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  10. "Hunter Tootoo, Nunavut MP, to join Trudeau's cabinet". Retrieved 2015-11-04.
  11. "Hunter Tootoo a good choice for minister: P.E.I. Fishermen's Association". CBC News. 7 November 2015. Retrieved 8 November 2015.
  12. 1 2 "Hunter Tootoo resigns as Fisheries minister, leaves Liberal caucus". CBC News. 31 May 2016. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
  13. Fife, Robert; Stone, Laura (May 31, 2016). "Hunter Tootoo resigns as fisheries minister to seek alcohol treatment". The Globe and Mail . Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  14. Tasker, John Paul; Peter, Zimonjic (July 25, 2016). "Hunter Tootoo out of rehab, ready to return to Parliament Hill". CBC News . Retrieved July 25, 2016.
  15. 1 2 Fife, Robert (September 12, 2016). "Hunter Tootoo's messy love triangle helped spur resignation from cabinet". The Globe and Mail . Retrieved September 12, 2016.
  16. "Tootoo left Liberal cabinet, caucus over 'consensual relationship'". CTV News. August 3, 2016. Retrieved September 12, 2016.
  17. Strong, Gregory (November 11, 2020). "Former MP Tootoo takes on position of Nunavut Curling Association president". Chronicle Herald. Canadian Press. Retrieved November 12, 2020.
  18. "2013 The Dominion Curling Club Championship – Men's teams". Canadian Curling Association. Archived from the original on November 9, 2013.
  19. "Meet the competitors". Curling Canada.
  20. @NickMurray91 (10 Jan 2021). "Came down to the Iqaluit Curling Club for the 5th and deciding game in Nunavut's territorial play downs. Team Kingdon (Wade Kingdon, Hunter Tootoo, Peter Van Strien, Cory Bell) vs Team Mackey (Peter Mackey, Jeff Nadeau, Greg Howard, Jeff Chown) for a trip to the Brier!" (Tweet) via Twitter.
  21. "Team Peter Mackey wins Nunavut curling championship, punches ticket to Brier". CBC. Retrieved 2021-01-11.
  22. Elections Canada – Confirmed candidates for Nunavut, 30 September 2015
  23. Elections Canada – Final Candidates Election Expenses Limits
  24. "2008 General Election Official Results" (PDF). Elections Nunavut. p. 2. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  25. "2004 General Election Official Results" (PDF). Elections Nunavut. p. 3. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  26. "1999 General Election Official Results" (PDF). Elections Nunavut. p. 3. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
29th Ministry – Cabinet of Justin Trudeau
Cabinet post (1)
Gail Shea Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
November 4, 2015 May 31, 2016
Dominic LeBlanc
Parliament of Canada
Preceded by Member of Parliament
for Nunavut

October 19, 2015 present