Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut March 10, 2018 - 9:30 am

Nunavut MLA questions GN spending on Ottawa trade show

"There are hungry people in my communities"

Arviat North-Whale Cove MLA John Main criticizes cabinet for lavish spending on a catered Ottawa trade show event, saying some of his constituents struggle to buy groceries. (PHOTO BY STEVE DUCHARME)
Arviat North-Whale Cove MLA John Main criticizes cabinet for lavish spending on a catered Ottawa trade show event, saying some of his constituents struggle to buy groceries. (PHOTO BY STEVE DUCHARME)

Nunavut Premier Paul Quassa used his second minister’s statement during the current sitting of the Nunavut legislature to rave about his new cabinet’s attendance at last February’s Northern Lights trade show in Ottawa, but Arviat North-Whale Cove MLA John Main now wants to see financial statements from that southern trip.

During question period on March 9, Main referred to a statement that Quassa made March 7 about a “Nunavut Night” party that 600 people attended.

Quassa said the “unique evening event” featured Inuit art, music and country food and that the guest speaker was Aluki Kotierk, president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. 

But Main asked if the showcase was financially prudent.

“I’m sure this was a very successful event and that it was very well received, but I have to speak on behalf of my constituents. There are hungry people in my communities,” Main said.

“To feed 600 people on the government’s dime, I think needs to be well justified,” he said. “The Nunavut government funding is insufficient every fiscal year. Constituents are waiting for more housing, for more infrastructure.” 

Main requested that a document be tabled showing all expenses incurred by the GN during the trade show. He asked that this information include expenses for the Nunavut night event, as well as all staff travel, accommodation and hospitality costs.

Quassa did not commit to making this financial information public. He did note that the GN was not the sole funder of the event. 

“Not just the Nunavut government paid for the 600 people meal,” he said, adding that northern governments and Inuit organizations across Canada contributed to the cost of the trade show.

Every member of cabinet from Nunavut’s new government attended the Northern Lights trade show.

In his March 7 statement, Quassa said the trade show was an opportunity for new members of cabinet to meet with federal ministers. 

“We all agreed to go down for introduction purposes so they’ll know who they will be working with,” he said. “It was very appropriate to do that. It was a good way to begin with the new cabinet members.”

At the trade show, Quassa participated in a panel of leaders from Alaska, Greenland, and Canada’s three territories.

He also gave a keynote speech at a lunch event and met with the premiers of the Northwest Territories and Yukon.

Quassa said the cabinet was very proud to represent Nunavummiut at the trade show, an event he called “a high-profile business and cultural showcase of Nunavut, Nunavik, and Labrador’s Nunatsiavut region.”

But Main reminded Quassa that the assembly also gathers to represent Nunavummiut.

“We come here to represent the people, in the legislative assembly. This is very concerning [we need] to make sure that we are representing our funds properly.”

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(23) Comments:

#1. Posted by pissed off on March 10, 2018

keep up the good work John Main!!

Enough of the gravy train for the elite of Nunavut.
They can justify anything around pompous phrases written by their handlers but the real people know the truth.

Join the precious few, tow the party line, dress the part, make good art and you will continue to enjoy the fun and games, otherwise you will be stuck in the left-over rest of the people watching from the outside.

If you don`t tell the story they want to hear you might get a few hot dogs, a t-shirt and a baseball cap once in a while

#2. Posted by Transparency on March 10, 2018

Good on ya John. There is no need for this elaborate showing off when you can’t afford to feed your constituents. Who benefited from this other than your cabinet…they will have plenty of opportunity to eventually meet wit whom they are working with. Always just a few elite capitalizing on the benefits. What’s wrong with having Aluki make a speech in the north if that is what you wanted. I’m sure you didn’t learn anything

#3. Posted by Agreed on March 10, 2018

It’s about time some one spoke up about wasteful government spending. This has been an issue long overlooked.

#4. Posted by Nunavut, orphan territory on March 10, 2018

First class political posturing by JM: Nunavut you are an orphan territory of Canada, act your role!

#5. Posted by Observer on March 10, 2018

Oddly enough, I don’t recall him being so concerned about wastes of money when he was going to conferences on someone else’s dime.

#6. Posted by Federal Ministers visit to Arctic on March 10, 2018

The Federal Ministers can come to Nunavut for a meet and greet on Arctic soil, in Arctic weather, for the people of the Arctic.  Experience life in the Arctic to know better the MLA’s life and home.

#7. Posted by Jeff on March 10, 2018

Don’t forget there were a lot of GN employees that attended the trade show in Ottawa. Lots from Iqaluit who really didn’t need to be there. Secretaries were there for crying out loud. And what benefits came out of it all Quassa?

#8. Posted by Monaksi, Cambridge Bay on March 11, 2018

I now live in Edmonton, but for a few years I was a nurse in the
Kitikmeot region of Nunavut.
Once I had to go to Resolute for a month and I went via, Calgary,
Ottawa, Iqaluit, Resolute. A month later I came back to Cambridge
So from Cambridge Bay to Resolute and back to Cambridge Bay
was a round trip of 17,000 miles.
I appreciate what John Main is trying to do, although a lot of problems
in Nunavut are self inflicted
Even if there were no problems in Nunavut at all, the cost of running
the place would still be enormous.

#9. Posted by Linda Brand on March 11, 2018

Great conference! Very important one for private sector business,and inter-govermental agencies creating partnerships to create programs that help people in t. In my case, in education. Its a time when thr North’s ambassadors meet and plan out collaborations and thi gs for the future.

#10. Posted by Karma? on March 11, 2018

Yay John!  Such a great feeling to finally see someone standing up against Quasa!  All his bullying, big talk with absolutely no action!  I bet after a day at work he sits on his back and laughs at us Nunavummiut.  He has been playing us far too long.  If he did actually care to make a change there would be changes in the years with his roles.  He’s the reason why Education went downhill! Aniqta Paul Quasa!

#11. Posted by Nunavutmiut on March 11, 2018


You’re so right. He didn’t care cause he worked in a different region. We all know. Maybe he should be asking the Inuit organizations too where all their money is going.

#12. Posted by Tax payer on March 12, 2018

There is concern as to how much the Government of Nunavut wastes.
Did the GN get discounts on all the employees that had to travel to Ottawa. Did the GN get a discount on hotels?
There are a lot of questions and probably a lot of ways the GN could of saved money.
The only way to make the changes to save money next time is to review what was over spent this time.

#13. Posted by Concern on March 12, 2018

Someone has to try keep the GN honest. Before that was Pat but now, based on her response to MLA John Main question about access to healthcare after hours, looks like she is now in that don’t care area.

John should also ask for records of how many GN staff attended the Tradeshow and provide complete financial information to the public. After all it is ‘public’ money they are using. John should also ask for proof of tangible benefits to NUNAVUT, not the people who attended. the GN really needs to prioritize their efforts and so far it looks like the same old same old. Was hoping for difference from the last Government.

#14. Posted by Happy Voter on March 12, 2018

Good job, John Main!


#15. Posted by eskimo joe on March 12, 2018

who cares…my government can do what ever they want as long as i am paying for it by my txs. this is unshamefully posturing for a ministerial position for the future. good luck. speaking of waste; what about our finances going out of the country in millions, does anyone care? i don’t mind my $$$ for canadian use but terrorist sponsoring countries?

#16. Posted by Unfair on March 12, 2018

I believe that every family of Nunavut should receive a Northern allowance like GN workers receive.
I do not mean that store clerk should get the same wages as a doctor
or an expierienced tradesperson!
But the allowances should be available to all, the prices of goods are
the same for everyone!
So any of you MLA,s who really want to help people who do not get
to go to ” Big Shot ” meetings which are ” to help the people “, feel
free to help any time.

#17. Posted by Putuguk on March 12, 2018

Whether the costs of the shindig can be justified or not, John Main makes a hugely significant point.

There is growing inequality in Nunavut.

Even within an economy and society based almost 100% around the distribution and use of public goods and services, there are winners and losers.

Please keep up the good work Mr. Main!

#18. Posted by Hear Hear on March 12, 2018

Good on you John.  EVERY trip should be on the GN website with who went, from/to where, cost etc such as the trade show.  MORE Northerners attended which defeats the purpose to showcase to non-noutherners!  And the cost?  For sure it is atrocious.  Hear Hear to transparency

#19. Posted by Have & Have Nots on March 12, 2018

Literally, I want to work for the GN, 45 min coffee breaks, 17 smoke breaks everyday, drive around all day, attend conferences or courses just for no reason, earn all those miles, get a subsidy for rent, fuel, aha even an northern allowance on top of my exciting ‘big’ wage. 

I want to get a truck, get a fat ass and pot bellied from driving around aimlessly, have medical issues and fly anywhere I want.  Oh!  I want a really, really big bonus so I could go on an overseas trip and pay off that second mortgage, add to my property.

Sounds like a great place to work, sign me up!  LOL just saying.

#20. Posted by just wondering on March 13, 2018

The GN is supposed to feed people? I think people are getting the role of a territorial government completely wrong. If the GN houses, feeds and gives pocket money to people, why should anyone bother working in Nunavut?

#21. Posted by Stanley Alooq on March 13, 2018

Makes me wonder if the statement will be tabled. If the Federal Government of Canada wants to know who they’re working with, they can fly to Nunavut Capital during the Annual Symposium.

#22. Posted by eskimo joe on March 13, 2018

what is this mla thinking? stop all government activities? we are to be visible, not invisible as suggested. for all i know this; (these) ordinary mla(s) suddenly becomes minister(s), they (he) wish they never have made these past stupid questions and suggestions. as the good fellow will soon regret someday because his only aspirations is to be of the elected government elite; read it between words. hardest part is having to eat and defend your past comments but it can be done with your tail between your legs. then…. travel canada with era of importance, northern lights, the smoked char, fine (baby duck wine hahaha)....see what will be said of nms is few weeks.

#23. Posted by Up Here on March 13, 2018

#18 great idea!  For John or other MLA to promote the transparency of all travel… by whom, where, etc. on the GN website.  our tax $$$

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