Nu­navut pre­mier ousted by ma­jor­ity

NON-CON­FI­DENCE

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - CANADA - Adrian Humphreys Na­tional Post, with files from The Canadian Press

The pre­mier of Nu­navut, leader of the north­ern ter­ri­tory’s un­usual con­sen­sus gov­ern­ment, has been ejected from of­fice by a wide ma­jor­ity of his col­leagues, in­clud­ing al­most all of his own cabi­net mem­bers.

Paul Quassa, a vet­eran Inuit politi­cian and for­mer CBC North broad­caster, was only sworn in as Nu­navut’s fourth pre­mier in Novem­ber.

The non-con­fi­dence vote re­mov­ing him as pre­mier passed with wide sup­port: 16 of the 21 vot­ing mem­bers of the leg­is­la­ture sup­ported the mo­tion — in­clud­ing six of his seven cabi­net mem­bers, the deputy pre­mier among them. Three voted against the mo­tion (in­clud­ing Quassa) and two ab­stained, ac­cord­ing to John Quirke, clerk of the assem­bly.

Quassa re­mains a mem­ber of the assem­bly.

Mem­bers of the leg­isla­tive assem­bly picked Joe Savikataaq, the deputy pre­mier in Quassa’s cabi­net, to re­place Quassa. He promised to work with his col­leagues.

The un­prece­dented move un­furled with lit­tle fan­fare.

On Tues­day, John Main, a rookie MLA for Arviat North-whale Cove, who chairs the non-cabi­net mem­bers cau­cus, stood in the leg­is­la­ture and gave no­tice that on Thurs­day he would ask that the pre­mier be re­moved from of­fice.

To which the speaker of the assem­bly sim­ply replied: “Thank you. No­tices of Mo­tions. Mov­ing on.”

That no­tice for a non-con­fi­dence vote was re­quired be­fore Thurs­day’s vote.

The brief de­bate over the vote pro­vided few specifics of why mem­bers were so riled up.

“This is about lead­er­ship,” said Main, “this is not about any one project, any one dis­pute, any one is­sue.

“There’s been a ten­dency to an au­to­cratic style of lead­ing, which clashes with our con­sen­sus style of gov­ern­ment.”

Adam Light­stone, an Iqaluit MLA, said his con­stituents were telling him Quassa had to go.

“They’ve spo­ken of the di­rec­tion that this gov­ern­ment is mov­ing in and fear of how it may im­pact our ter­ri­tory.”

Quassa ad­dressed mem­bers al­most en­tirely in Inuk­ti­tut, but added in English: “I re­spect each and ev­ery elected MLA.”

He did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment prior to dead­line.

Quassa has been crit­i­cized for spend­ing more than $500,000 for rep­re­sen­ta­tives to at­tend an Arc­tic trade show in Ottawa and for with­draw­ing sup­port for a re­quest to Ottawa for mil­lions to build a road from the cen­tral Arc­tic coast into the min­eral-rich heart of the ter­ri­tory.

The Nu­navut leg­is­la­ture, branded a con­sen­sus gov­ern­ment, has no po­lit­i­cal par­ties. Each of the 22 mem­bers is elected as an in­de­pen­dent rep­re­sen­ta­tive and then gather to se­lect a pre­mier, speaker and cabi­net mem­bers from amongst them­selves.

PAT KANE / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Politi­cians in Nu­navut picked a new pre­mier Thurs­day af­ter re­mov­ing Paul Quassa, above, from of­fice in a non-con­fi­dence vote.

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