Meet the Nunavut candidates: Conservatives’ Laura Mackenzie hopes to use background in gov’t if elected

This is part of a series of profiles of Nunavut’s federal election candidates.

All candidates were asked the same questions. Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Laura Mackenzie is a bilingual Inuk woman raised in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut.

She has worked in public service for more than 15 years, mainly as director of economic development and transportation programming.

Now living in Iqaluit, Mackenzie hopes to bring her experience working within the government to the national stage as the next Conservative Party MP for Nunavut.

Why are you running? 

I’m running because I believe that my platform is centered around principles that I apply to my everyday living to serve Nunavummiut. I believe in running a positive and also inclusive campaign for all Nunavummiut to serve people from Nunavut and Ottawa. The fact of my education experience and my inner workings with government, I think I have the ideal combination of lived experience and background to be able to go into Ottawa right away and not have to learn anything, because I already know the system.

What main issue will you focus on the most? 

A lot of the issues always centre back to lived experiences and speaking to Nunavummiut in the community. One is mental health. We need to have a mental health program that focuses on solutions. I really believe we can train Nunavummiut to be able to do trauma-informed therapy and have elders trained on mental health support to enhance our services.

The other one is housing. It’s multifaceted, there’s not enough housing everywhere. I’ve been really focusing on those things. But I’ve also been focusing on the wage subsidies and tax credit for businesses for non-for-profit and other organizations. One of the critical things that would help with the housing crisis is keeping our resource royalties within Nunavut and use them for infrastructure and housing, work with Inuit organizations, the government of Nunavut and [Canada Mortgage And Housing Corporation] to develop a plan and apply for the infrastructure funding from the federal government. So those are the main ones that I wanted to talk about.

I have a few more, but people can go to my platform online.

Why are you running for a spot with the Conservative Party? 

The similarities of Inuit and Conservative principles is why I choose to run Conservative. Inuit believe in serving others In order to improve the common good. This aligns with the Conservative Party’s belief in representing all northern Canadians. Inuit believe in being resourceful, being able to solve problems. The Conservative Party also values dependability and hard work. Inuit, we’re known to listen and hear what others have to say. This aligns with the Conservative approach to listen to your ideas and concerns.

How well do you represent your party’s platform?

When we talk about the party platform, I really believe we need actions and we need solutions. As the Conservative Party has rolled out their plan, we have solutions. So I want to make it very clear we have plans in place for mental health, small tax credits, even truth and reconciliation, they’re going to be acted on. So that will be our platform, my platform.

How will you represent the needs of Nunavut and Nunavummiut to Ottawa? 

It goes back to listening. I have a solid track record of having worked on various federal, territorial and community jobs and also advocacy work.

I’ve [testified at] the [Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls inquiry] where it was broadcast on the national stage as a regular community-minded member, so put that into the context of the national stage and I think I would represent Nunavummiut well.

What do you think the challenges will be if you get elected to represent Nunavut and how do you plan to overcome them? 

I have Inuit elders, advisers who I listen to, I collaborate with different Inuit organizations, territorial governments, and I have a postgraduate degree in leadership. So with my lived experience and working with others, I think I can find many solutions to work on with others.

Mumilaaq Qaqqaq spoke out about how difficult it is to have a voice in parliament, and the racial profiling systems she encountered. How are you planning to do your job in that environment?

I have a diverse background. I have an Indigenous mother and non-Indigenous father. I’m in a multicultural environment constantly. I’ve specialized in working on workplace conflict. I’ve also worked on diversity, cultural diversity, in my postgraduate degree, which enabled me to practice … on how to deal with different types of diversity, inclusion issues that may arise. So I have that practical experience in my everyday lived experience, but also postgraduate [work]. I’m at that age where I’ve passed that and I’m at a mature level now that I look at everything in the context of getting the solutions done.

So what are you going to be doing to campaign? 

I’ll be traveling into the communities if I can. And also I’ll be going on local radio and social media. So it’s just a combination of all those [things] to campaign like every other person that’s campaigning.

What do you think the challenges will be to representing such a big riding? 

I don’t want to say challenge. I think it’s an opportunity. I am at that age now where you listen and you find out what do people want, what are their priorities. And so those are opportunities for me to serve Nunavummiut. They all deserve to be heard. So I think being an equal voice at the table with my lived experiences and stuff is a wonderful opportunity. And I hope I’m given that opportunity at the national level.

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