Leona Aglukkaq, PC, MP (Inuktitut syllabics: ᓕᐅᓇ ᐊᒡᓘᒃᑲᖅ; born June 28, 1967) is a Canadian politician, who was elected to the Canadian House of Commons as a Conservative in the 2008 Canadian federal election for the riding of Nunavut.
Aglukkaq was born in Inuvik, Northwest Territories and raised in Thom Bay, Taloyoak and Gjoa Haven (formerly in the NWT but all three are now in Nunavut). She is married to Robbie MacNeil and has a son, Cooper.
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.
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.
Minister of Health
Aglukkaq was named the Minister of Health on October 30, 2008, and is the first Inuk in Canadian history to be appointed to the Cabinet of Canada. 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 outbreak 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.
Health Canada officials sent two dozen body bags, normally sent to hospitals, to a Manitoba First Nation. The move was interpreted by some to mean the government was not being upfront with First Nations about the danger they face from H1N1, some others saw it as offensive. After Aglukkaq investigated the incident, she accepted an apology from the Health Canada official who sent the body bags, saying that it was an accident and that she found no wrong intention on their part.
Aglukkaq was criticized by some[who?] 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 "safe injection" sites, because the Declaration was in conflict with the Conservative government's long-established policy against drugs.
Re-election and continued incumbency
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.
Minister of Environment
- Canada Votes 2008: Electoral results for Nunavut, cbc.ca, October 14, 2008.
- Can't Call Canada's Conservatives Overeducated, Crawford Kilian, 13 Dec 2012, TheTyee.ca
- Harper shuffles cabinet to create 'right team for these times', cbc.ca, October 30, 2008.
- Aglukkaq is first Inuit cabinet minister, Canadian Press, October 30, 2008.[dead link]
- Rookie health minister stays cool in swine flu spotlight, ctv.ca, April 27, 2009.
- The week everyone loved Leona, Macleans.ca, April 2009.
- Harper, Aglukkaq singled out for stinging rebuke at AIDS conference, Gloria Galloway and André Picard, The Globe and Mail, Posted on Friday, July 23, 2010 12:21PM EDT.
- History of Federal Ridings since 1867 (accessed 17 January 2012)
- http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/stories/article/65674pm_harper_nunavut_mp_aglukkaq_will_chair_the_arctic_council PM Harper: Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq will chair the Arctic Council
- Levitz, Stephanie (28 December 2012). "Chief should give up fast and meet aboriginal affairs minister, Aglukkaq says". Canada.com. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
- Leona Aglukkaq, MP
- Health Canada - Minister of Health
- Profile at Parliament of Canada
- Leona Aglukkaq – Parliament of Canada biography
- Speeches, votes and activity at OpenParliament.ca
- Profile in The Globe and Mail
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