Jackie Jacobson in the legislature on October 6, 2023.
Nunakput MLA Jackie Jacobson says he won’t seek re-election in this fall’s territorial election.
Jacobson made the announcement on Friday afternoon as he delivered what turned into a farewell speech in the waning minutes of the 19th Assembly.
He has represented Nunakput – a district that includes Tuktoyaktuk, Paulatuk, Ulukhaktok and Sachs Harbour – for 12 years, from 2007 to 2015 and again from 2019 until now. He served as Speaker of the House from 2011 to 2015.
“I want to go home. I want to be with my son, Joseph, who is 10 years old, and the rest of my children, my grandchildren,” Jacobson told colleagues.
He said he had been away from home for too long, at one point telling MLAs he felt as though “I’ve sacrificed my four oldest kids for serving my people.”
“There’s a new chapter in my life,” he said. “It’s my family.”
Describing his intention to spend more time fishing and hunting, he said he would also like to spend time running his dogs and being “a pooper-scooper.”
Gesturing around the legislature, he said he had scooped poop “quite a bit here, too.”
In recent years, Jacobson has been a fierce critic of both the federal requirement for a carbon tax and territorial efforts to implement it, railing against a tax that he says makes life even harder for residents of some of the world’s coldest, most isolated communities – most of whom have no current alternative to polluting fuels like diesel.
Jacobson fought to stop indebted residents having power limiters placed on their homes in cold weather, and was a prominent supporter of the Inuvik-Tuk Highway prior to its construction.
“Success is when you’re on a call with constituents and you’re getting things done for them,” he told Cabin Radio in 2019.
“I really want to do good. And I don’t take no for an answer, that’s the thing.”
Lucy Kuptana, Tuktoyaktuk’s senior administrator, is currently the only person to have declared an intention to run in Nunakput. The candidate nomination period opens on October 16, with polling day on November 14.
Jacobson says he may return to local politics. A lifelong resident of Tuktoyaktuk, he previously served two terms as the hamlet’s mayor.
“Just remember one thing,” he said on Friday as he finished his final speech to the House. “Nunakput is number one.”
Other incumbents expected to step away from territorial politics at this election include Premier Caroline Cochrane, health minister Julie Green, Frame Lake MLA Kevin O’Reilly and Yellowknife North MLA Rylund Johnson.
Cochrane, Green and O’Reilly have each spent eight years as MLAs. Johnson has served one four-year term.
Jane Weyallon Armstrong and Ron Bonnetrouge each confirmed on Friday they will seek re-election in Monfwi and Deh Cho respectively.