‘This is about lead­er­ship’: Nu­navut premier ousted

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA -

Mem­bers of Nu­navut’s leg­is­la­ture have re­moved Premier Paul Quassa from of­fice over con­cerns about his lead­er­ship style.

Some mem­bers of Quassa’s own cab­i­net sup­ported a non­con­fi­dence mo­tion that ended with 16 votes in favour and three against.

There were two ab­sten­tions in the 22-seat leg­is­la­ture. The Speaker does not vote. Quassa will keep his seat. “This is about lead­er­ship,” said Arviat MLA John Main, who pre­sented the mo­tion. “This is not about any one pro­ject, any one dis­pute, any one is­sue.”

Un­der the rules of Nu­navut’s con­sen­sus gov­ern­ment, the premier and cab­i­net are se­lected by fel­low mem­bers of the leg­is­la­ture shortly af­ter a gen­eral elec­tion. That’s how Quassa was cho­sen premier last Novem­ber.

Mem­bers out­side of cab­i­net re­tain the power to re­move the premier. On Thursday, af­ter a short de­bate al­most en­tirely in Inuk­ti­tut, that’s what they did for the first time in Nu­navut’s 19-year his­tory. Quassa had been crit­i­cized dur­ing his short ten­ure for spend­ing more than $500,000 for Nu­navut rep­re­sen­ta­tives to at­tend an Arc­tic trade show in Ottawa. He had also taken flak for his gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to with­draw its 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.

Main — and oth­ers who rose in the leg­is­la­ture — crit­i­cized Quassa’s lead­er­ship style.

“There’s not been a lot of team ef­fort among the mem­bers un­der this premier,” he said. “There’s been a ten­dency to an au­to­cratic style of lead­ing, which clashes with our con­sen­sus style of gov­ern­ment.”

Main said Quassa also mis­led the house.

Ge­orge Hickes, who rep­re­sents an Iqaluit rid­ing, sup­ported the non-con­fi­dence mo­tion.

“It’s about lead­er­ship,” he said. “Ev­ery one of us has a say on who sits on which side of this house.”

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

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