Nunavut Member of Parliament Hunter Tootoo won’t be seeking re-election in the federal election in October, he announced Tuesday morning.
“I have made the decision to leave public life,” Tootoo stated. ‘I want to thank my family who have supported me in politics. As politicians we understand the arena we are entering, but it can be hard on our families. To all Nunavummiut, I think you know how much I love our territory. My commitment to Nunavut will never waiver. Wherever the next path in my life leads I will continue to work for a sustainable economy that will secure a prosperous future for Nunavut.”
Tootoo was elected as Nunavut’s MP in 2015 and was named minister of Fisheries and Oceans. He stepped down as minister in May 2016 to enter treatment for alcoholism and he left the Liberal party to serve as an independent MP. Months later he made a public apology for a “consensual but inappropriate relationship” with a political aide.
In his statement on Tuesday, he made reference to his confronting his struggles in 2016.
“I encourage anyone who suffers from addictions, mental illness, or trauma to seek the help they need to heal. Remember, you are not alone,” said Tootoo. “I want to thank my family, friends and Parliamentary colleagues who helped me through a difficult period in my life. With their support I have grown and healed, and I believe I am a better person for it.”
Prior to taking office federally, Tootoo served as MLA for Iqaluit Centre from 1999 to 2013 and was named Speaker of the Legislative Assembly from 2011 to 2013. He said that time working within a consensus-style government helped him work with members of all political stripes while in Ottawa.
“During my time as MP I contributed to positive change for Nunavut,” he said. “I am proud of all the things I accomplished.”