‘This is about leadership’: Nunavut premier ousted
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.