IQALUIT, Nunavut – Nunavut will have a new premier.
Voters in the territory went to the polls on Monday and Eva Aariak, who was premier heading into the election, lost her seat to George Hickes by 43 votes.
The 22 successful candidates will meet in mid-November to pick a premier from among themselves, according to the rules of Nunavut’s consensus-style government.
Interest was high in the vote, which was conducted in weather that varied from balmy to blizzard over the expanse of the vast, eastern Arctic territory.
A total of 72 candidates ran for 22 seats, with only two ridings won by acclamation.
Paul Okalik, a former Nunavut premier, was elected in Iqaluit-Sinaa, one of four ridings in the capital.
Okalik’s former chief of staff, Anne Crawford, lost by 20 votes in the riding of Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu.
Jack Anawak, a former Liberal member of Parliament and longtime northern politician, also ran in Iqaluit, but came fourth.
There were two ridings with ties — in Uqqummiut and Rankin Inlet South.
Elections Nunavut says when that happens, a judicial recount must occur within the next 10 days.
Although Nunavut’s form on government means there are no political parties and no platforms, some common issues have arisen among the constituencies.
Many Nunavummiut are concerned the territory’s education system isn’t preparing youth for opportunities that wait for them in one of the mining developments expected over the next few years.
The North’s high cost of living is also an issue, especially in more isolated constituencies. So is the emphasis on resource development.