CBCnews
Story Tools: E-MAIL | PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

Inuit welcome Aglukkaq as federal health minister

Last Updated: Friday, October 31, 2008 | 11:42 AM ET

Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq is sworn in by clerk of the Privy Council Kevin Lynch, during a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Thursday.Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq is sworn in by clerk of the Privy Council Kevin Lynch, during a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Thursday. (Canadian Press/Fred Chartrand)

Inuit leaders applauded Leona Aglukkaq's appointment to the federal cabinet Thursday, while expressing their expectation that the new health minister will improve health care in Canada's North.

In a move that many described as surprising and historic, Aglukkaq, a former Nunavut health and finance minister, became the first Inuk to become a senior federal cabinet minister.

"It's good to hear that Inuit get posted to these kind of things," Paul Kaludjak, president of the Inuit land-claims organization Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., told CBC News on Thursday.

"She's been a health minister before and, you know, those kinds of things will be a plus. And to be able to approach somebody with our own language will be great."

Aglukkaq's appointment shows that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government is committed to Nunavut, Kaludjak said, adding that he has no doubt Aglukkaq will help improve health care in the territory.

Aglukkaq's cabinet appointment follows her victory in the Oct. 14 federal election, in which she seized a long-time Liberal stronghold riding for the Conservatives.

While many in Nunavut expected the first-time MP to receive a junior cabinet post, they did not expect Harper to assign Aglukkaq the high-profile health portfolio.

'First-hand experience' with northern issues

Having an Inuk and former territorial minister in cabinet can only be positive, said Mary Simon of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, a national Inuit organization.

"When you meet ministers that have just been appointed, many times those individuals don't have first-hand experience with Inuit or Arctic issues," Simon said.

"Leona doesn't need to be educated about the issues that we are facing in the health sector, or in any of the sectors up North."

A former civil servant from Thom Bay and Gjoa Haven in Nunavut, Aglukkaq was elected to the territory's legislative assembly in 2004 and was initially named finance minister and house leader.

She later moved to Health and Social Services, where she stayed until resigning on Sept. 10 to run for the federal Tories.

Nunavut Premier Paul Okalik said he hopes Aglukkaq will benefit the territory, not just in health care.

"When you have a voice at the table, it assists in providing better services to all Nunavummiut," or Nunavut residents, Okalik said.

Aglukkaq also becomes the most senior cabinet minister from Canada's North since the late Erik Nielsen of the Yukon was deputy prime minister in Brian Mulroney's Progressive Conservative government in the 1980s.

  •  
Story Tools: E-MAIL | PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

Related

Audio

Patricia Bell reports: Inuit welcome Aglukkaq as federal health minister (Runs: 1:48)
Play: Real Media »

Health Headlines

Childbirth care 'at breaking point': report
Pregnant women and babies who need emergency care during labour and childbirth could be put at risk if the overwhelming caseload that Canada's obstetricians face isn't reversed, a report released Thursday suggests.
Joy to the world is contagious: study Video
Happiness is contagious, and the more people you know who are full of good cheer, the more likely it is that you're also happy, a study of our social connections suggests.
Cancer, heart disease leading causes of deaths for Canadians: report
Cancer and heart disease were the two leading causes of deaths for Canadians, responsible for 52.4 per cent of all deaths in 2004, Statistics Canada reported Thursday. The cause of death rankings were reversed in the U.S. for the same year.
Patients sue B.C. government over claims of doctors' extra billing
The B.C. government has failed to enforce its own laws that ban doctors from billing both patients and the public health-care system, according to a group of patients who have launched a lawsuit against the province.
Battlefield brain injuries bring long-term problems: U.S. report
Military personnel who suffered traumatic brain injuries from explosions on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan are at risk for long-term conditions including Alzheimer's-like dementia, says a report released Thursday for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

People who read this also read …

Top CBCNews.ca Headlines

Headlines

Dissent in Liberal ranks appears after Parliament suspended Video
Doubts about the Liberals' commitment to their coalition with the NDP are coming to light in the wake of Gov. Gen. Michaƫlle Jean's decision to grant Prime Minister Stephen Harper's request to suspend Parliament.
GG agrees to suspend Parliament until January Video
Gov. Gen. Michaƫlle Jean has granted a request from Stephen Harper to suspend Parliament until late next month, a move that avoids a confidence vote set for Monday that could have toppled his minority government.
Some tested Tasers fire stronger current than company says: CBC/Radio-Canada probe Video
Some Tasers deliver a higher level of electricity than the manufacturer promises, reveals a series of tests on 41 stun guns that was commissioned by CBC News and Radio-Canada.
TSX sinks as oil prices drop below $44 US Video
Stock markets in Toronto and New York moved sharply lower Thursday, after spending most of the day dipping into negative territory as crude oil prices hit their lowest level in four years and the energy sector retreated.
Cancer, heart disease leading causes of deaths for Canadians: report
Cancer and heart disease were the two leading causes of deaths for Canadians, responsible for 52.4 per cent of all deaths in 2004, Statistics Canada reported Thursday. The cause of death rankings were reversed in the U.S. for the same year.

News Features