Past Plebiscites

Here is a short history of significant plebiscites held in Nunavut.

Recent Plebiscites

These plebiscites were held under Nunavut’s new Plebiscites Act, which was enacted in January 2014.

Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay - Beer and Wine Store Plebiscites (2017)
In May 2017, the Minister of Finance instructed the Chief Electoral Officer to conduct a plebiscite in Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay to ask voters: “Are you in favour of a beer and wine store opening in your municipality?” The results were not binding, so the government could choose whether to follow them. Both municipalities voted "yes".

Municipal Lands Plebiscite (2016)
Voters in all municipalities in Nunavut were asked, “Do you want the Municipality of (hamlet or city name) to be able to sell Municipal Lands?”

The result was binding, so governments had to follow them. But, the result in one municipality would not affect the results in another. The result: every municipality voted “no.”

Iqaluit Beer and Wine Store Plebiscite (2015)
In early 2015, the Minister of Finance instructed the Chief Electoral Officer to conduct a plebiscite in the City of Iqaluit to ask voters: “Are you in favour of a beer and wine store opening in the City of Iqaluit?” The results were not binding, so the government could choose whether to follow them. The result was 1126 votes for “Yes,” 326 votes for “No,” and 10 rejected ballots.

Important Early Plebiscites

These plebiscites were held under the previous Plebiscites Act (NWT), which was enacted in 1982. They are all important decisions in the history of Nunavut.

Equal Representation Plebiscite (1997)
Voters across Nunavut were asked, “Should the first Nunavut Legislative Assembly have equal numbers of men and women MLAs with one man and one woman elected to represent each electoral district? Yes or No.” Altogether, 4668 of 12044 eligible voters voted. The results were 1984 (56%) for “yes” and 2666 for “no.”

Plebiscite on Nunavut’s Capital (1995)
Voters across Nunavut were asked, “Which community should be Nunavut’s capital? Iqaluit or Rankin Inlet?” The result was 5869 (59.7%) for Iqaluit and 3876 for Rankin Inlet.

Municipal Lands Plebiscite (1995)
Voters in every municipality were asked, “Do you want your municipal council to be able to sell municipal lands?” Each community voted “no.”

Division Boundary Plebiscite (1992)
This plebiscite asked voters, “Do you support the boundary for division shown on the map (with boundary roughly following the tree line) above?” Altogether, 15471 of 27582 eligible voters voted. The results were 8,347 (56%) for “yes,” approving the boundary for division, and 7000 for “no,” not approving the boundary for division. There were 124 rejected ballots.

Division Plebiscite (1982)
This plebiscite asked voters: “Do you agree with dividing the NWT—yes or no?” The result was 5586 (56.5%) for “yes” and 4304 (43.5%) for “no.”