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Leona Aglukkaq

Leona Aglukkaq
ᓕᐅᓇ ᐊᒡᓘᒃᑲᖅ
Minister of the Environment
In office
July 15, 2013 – November 4, 2015
Prime MinisterStephen Harper
Preceded byPeter Kent
Succeeded byCatherine McKenna
Minister of Health
In office
October 30, 2008 – July 15, 2013
Prime MinisterStephen Harper
Preceded byTony Clement
Succeeded byRona Ambrose
Member of Parliament
for Nunavut
In office
October 14, 2008 – October 19, 2015
Preceded byNancy Karetak-Lindell
Succeeded byHunter Tootoo
Member of the Nunavut Legislative Assembly
for Nattilik
In office
February 16, 2004 – September 10, 2008
Preceded byUriash Puqiqnak
Succeeded byEnuk Pauloosie
Personal details
Born (1967-06-28) June 28, 1967 (age 56)
Inuvik, Northwest Territories, Canada
Political partyConservative
SpouseRobbie MacNeil[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 Parliament 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 candidate ever to win it.[2][3] Leona Aglukkaq is the first Inuk woman to serve in cabinet.[4][5] She remained an MP until she was defeated in the 2015 federal election by Liberal candidate Hunter Tootoo.[6] Aglukkaq unsuccessfully contested the 2019 federal election.[7]


Aglukkaq was born in Inuvik, Northwest Territories and raised in Thom Bay, Taloyoak and Gjoa Haven (formerly in the Northwest Territories, the latter two 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.[8]

Since 2021, she's been on the Board of Directors at Agnico Eagle Mines Limited.[9]

Political career

Territorial politics

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

Minister of Health

Aglukkaq was named the Minister of Health on October 30, 2008,[10] and is the first Inuk in Canadian history to be appointed to the Cabinet of Canada.[11] 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 pandemic 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.[12][13]

Health Canada officials sent two dozen body bags, normally sent to hospitals, to a Manitoba First Nation. The move was criticized by Aglukkaq, the Liberal and New Democratic opposition parties in Parliament, and First Nations leaders.[14] An investigation ordered by Aglukkaq found "no evidence of ill will or deliberate calculation," though First Nations representatives in Manitoba criticized the inquiry's report for downplaying the incident.[15]

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

In 2009, the World Health Organization called for the elimination of artificial trans fats from the world food supply. Surveys at the time indicated that 90% of Canadian adults and children still exceeded the recommended daily limits on trans fats. A Health Canada analysis suggested a ban could prevent 12,000 heart attacks over 20 years, saving the health care system $9 billion. Internal documents showed Health Canada prepared to finally announce a full ban on trans fats, drafting the regulations and a press release, until the office of health minister Aglukkaq scrapped those plans. She later acknowledged the rules would be a burden on the food industry.[citation needed]

Aglukkaq was criticised by public health officials 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 supervised injection sites, because the Declaration was in conflict with the Conservative government's long-established prohibition-centered approach.[16][17]

Re-election and continued incumbency

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.[18][19] 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 would serve as chair of the Arctic Council when Canada assumed the Chairmanship from Sweden in May 2013.[20]

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.[21]

Minister of Environment

On July 15, 2013, Aglukkaq was named Minister of the Environment,[22][23] which includes responsibility for Parks Canada, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and Environment Canada.[24]

In December 2014, Aglukkaq apologized for reading a newspaper while opposition parties asked the government about high food prices in the North during Question Period.[25] 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.[26]

In the election, Aglukkaq lost almost half of her vote share from 2011 (even allowing for a turnout nearly double that of the previous election) and was pushed into third place behind Liberal candidate and former Legislative Assembly speaker Hunter Tootoo and NDP candidate and former MP Jack Anawak. It was one of the larger defeats suffered by a member of Harper's cabinet.

Aglukkaq ran again for the Conservatives in the 2019 Canadian federal election, and again came in third. The election was won by NDP candidate Mumilaaq Qaqqaq.

Electoral history


2019 Canadian federal election: Nunavut
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
New Democratic Mumilaaq Qaqqaq 3,861 40.8 +14.2 $5,618.37
Liberal Megan Pizzo Lyall 2,918 30.9 -16.2 $41,679.84
Conservative Leona Aglukkaq 2,469 26.1 +1.3 $88,289.32
Green Douglas Roy 206 2.2 +0.7 $0.00
Total valid votes/expense limit 9,454 100.0
Total rejected ballots 88
Turnout 9,542 51.1
Eligible voters 18,665
New Democratic gain from Liberal Swing +15.35
Source: Elections Canada[27][28]
2015 Canadian federal election: Nunavut
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Liberal Hunter Tootoo 5,619 47.11 +18.41 $32,110.96
New Democratic Jack Iyerak Anawak 3,171 26.58 +7.22
Conservative Leona Aglukkaq 2,956 24.78 -25.12 $36,393.17
Green Spencer Rocchi 182 1.53 -0.51
Total valid votes/expense limit 11,928 100.00   $203,887.65
Total rejected ballots 95 0.79
Turnout 12,203 62.54
Eligible voters 19,223
Liberal gain from Conservative Swing +21.77
Source: Elections Canada[29][30]

2011 Canadian federal election: 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
2008 Canadian federal election: 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 Nunavut general election: Nattilik
[31] 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


  1. ^ a b c "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. ^ Aglukkaq, Leona. "The Hon. Leona Aglukkaq, P.C., M.P." Parliament of Canada. Parliament of Canada. Retrieved 28 August 2020.
  5. ^ Algukkaq, Leona. "As an Inuk woman, this is hurtful and perpetuates stereotypes that Indigenous women spend our whole lives fighting. @JustinTrudeau - this candidate should have no place in a party that is truly feminist or claims to hold the relationship with Indigenous people above all else". Twitter. @leonaaglukkaq. Retrieved 28 August 2020.
  6. ^ Zerehi, Sima S. (17 October 2015). "Hunter Tootoo celebrates Liberal win in Nunavut". CBC News North. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
  7. ^ "Nunavut's former Conservative MP to run in fall election". Nunatsiaq News. Iqaluit, NU: Nortext Publishing Corporation. 12 April 2019. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  8. ^ Kilian, Crawford (December 13, 2012). "Can't Call Canada's Conservatives Overeducated". The Tyee. Retrieved 2015-10-05.
  9. ^ "Agnico Eagle Mines Limited - About Agnico".
  10. ^ "Harper shuffles cabinet to create 'right team for these times'". CBC News. October 30, 2008. Retrieved October 5, 2015.
  11. ^ "Nunavut's Aglukkaq named federal health minister". CBC News North. October 30, 2008. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
  12. ^ "Rookie health minister stays cool in swine flu spotlight". CTV News. April 27, 2009. Retrieved October 5, 2015.
  13. ^ "The week everyone loved Leona". Macleans. May 1, 2009. Retrieved October 5, 2015.
  14. ^ "Health minister orders probe over flu body bags". CBC News. September 17, 2009. Retrieved July 7, 2016.
  15. ^ "Body bag probe found no 'ill will': Aglukkaq". CBC News. October 7, 2009. Retrieved July 7, 2016.
  16. ^ Galloway, Gloria; Picard, Andre (July 23, 2010). "Harper, Aglukkaq singled out for stinging rebuke at AIDS conference". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved October 5, 2015.
  17. ^ "Ottawa's HIV/AIDS funding disappoints some". CBC News. July 20, 2010. Retrieved July 7, 2016.
  18. ^ "History of Federal Ridings since 1867 (Nunavut)". Parliament of Canada. Retrieved 2015-10-05.
  19. ^ "Aglukkaq re-elected in Nunavut as Tories sweep to majority government". Nunatsiaq Online. May 2, 2011. Archived from the original on May 6, 2011. Retrieved 2023-12-30.
  20. ^ "PM Harper: Nunavut MP Aglukkaq will chair the Arctic Council". Nunatsiaq Online. August 23, 2012. Archived from the original on September 18, 2012. Retrieved 2023-12-30.
  21. ^ 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.
  22. ^ "Leona Aglukkaq named new environment minister". CBC News. July 15, 2013. Retrieved 2015-10-05.
  23. ^ "Aglukkaq takes environment post as Ottawa seeks to win over First Nations, U.S." The Globe and Mail. July 15, 2013. Retrieved October 5, 2015.
  24. ^ "Portfolio and mandate of the Minister of the Environment". Government of Canada. 16 March 2016. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
  25. ^ "Leona Aglukkaq admits reading newspaper was a 'bad idea' during question period". CBC News. December 5, 2015. Retrieved 2015-10-05.
  26. ^ Sponagle, Jane (October 14, 2015). "Audience steals the show at CBC's federal election forum in Iqaluit". CBC News. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  27. ^ "List of confirmed candidates". Elections Canada. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
  28. ^ "Election Night Results". Elections Canada. Retrieved November 9, 2019.
  29. ^ Elections Canada – Confirmed candidates for Nunavut, 30 September 2015
  30. ^ Elections Canada – Final Candidates Election Expenses Limits
  31. ^ "2004 General Election Official Results" (PDF). Elections Nunavut. p. 4. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
28th Ministry – Cabinet of Stephen Harper Cabinet posts (3) Predecessor Office Successor Peter Kent Minister of the Environmentfrom 15-Jul-2013to 4-Nov-2015 Catherine McKenna Tony Clement Minister of Healthfrom 30-Oct-2008to 15-Jul-2013 Rona Ambrose John Duncan Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agencyfrom 18-May-2011to 4-Nov-2015 none
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Leona Aglukkaq
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