OTTAWA — Hunter Tootoo, the Nunavut MP who began his time on Parliament Hill with a seat at the Liberal cabinet table and ended up sitting as an Independent, says he won't be running for re-election this fall.
In a statement released Tuesday via social media, Tootoo said that after much consideration, he has decided to leave politics entirely.
"I appreciate very much the encouragement and support I have received from Nunavummiut all across the territory over the past months," he said. "I have made the decision to leave public life. I will not be a candidate in the upcoming federal election."
Tootoo called it an honour and a privilege to serve the people of Nunavut, first as a member of the legislative assembly and then as a member of Parliament. He served as a member of the territory's legislative assembly from 1993 to 2013 before launching his successful bid for Parliament Hill in 2015.
"During my time as MP I contributed to positive change for Nunavut," he said.
"Here we have consensus government — a group of elected individuals who work together to do the right thing for all the people of Nunavut. Coming from that work ethic, I was able to work with members of all political stripes, as well as my cabinet colleagues, and I am proud of the things I accomplished."
In 2015, Tootoo garnered headlines after he defeated Conservative cabinet minister Leona Aglukkaq in the riding, going on to be named fisheries minister in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's cabinet.
Less than a year later, Tootoo announced that he was quitting cabinet and the Liberal caucus as he apologized for a "consensual but inappropriate relationship" with an unidentified person, prompting calls for him to resign.
He took a two-month hiatus to seek treatment for what he described as an alcohol addiction that he said took over his life and left his judgment clouded.
On Tuesday, Tootoo thanked his family, friends and parliamentary colleagues for helping him through a difficult period in his life. He also encouraged anyone who suffers from addictions, mental illness, or trauma to seek the help they need to heal.
"Remember, you are not alone."
Aglukkaq, meanwhile, has announced she plans to mount a comeback to reclaim the seat she lost in 2015.
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Kristy Kirkup, The Canadian Press