Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut May 28, 2018 - 9:00 am

MLA grills Nunavut premier about money spent on Ottawa trade show

"You have to spend money to make money"

John Main, MLA for Arviat North-Whale Cove, rises in the Nunavut legislative assembly May 25 to question Premier Paul Quassa about the money spent by the Government of Nunavut to attend this year's Northern Lights Conference and Trade Show in Ottawa. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
John Main, MLA for Arviat North-Whale Cove, rises in the Nunavut legislative assembly May 25 to question Premier Paul Quassa about the money spent by the Government of Nunavut to attend this year's Northern Lights Conference and Trade Show in Ottawa. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)

Nunavut Premier Paul Quassa faced lots of questions in the Nunavut legislature May 25 about the large amount of money his government spent earlier this year on the Northern Lights conference and trade show in Ottawa.

But Quassa defended the $570,000-plus that the territorial government spent to send more than 60 people to the event and host other delegates at an evening of Nunavut food and music.

“You have to spend money to make money,” Quassa said.

That’s after Arviat North-Whale Cove MLA John Main repeatedly questioned Quassa about the money the Government of Nunavut spent on the conference and trade show.

According to a breakdown furnished by Quassa to Main, in response to a written question, the GN spent a total of $385,046.69 on the event.

But that figure rises to more than $570,000 when government contributions to the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce are included.

Delegates at the Northern Lights event, which takes place every two years, included the three northern premiers, presidents of the Inuit regional and national organizations and representatives from Greenland, along with Carolyn Bennett, the federal minister of Crown-Indigenous relations and northern affairs and other government officials and business leaders from Nunavut, Nunavik and Labrador.

The contingent that the GN bankrolled included cabinet ministers, public servants, ministerial staff, the commissioner of Nunavut and Quassa’s spouse.

The GN also paid for “Nunavut Night,” billed as an evening of Nunavut entertainment, art, and food, where guests sampled dishes such as caribou sliders and sliced maple cold smoked Arctic char, and listened to music from Riit, Silla + Rise, and the Inuuqatigiit Band.

The response to Main’s questions revealed that the GN paid:

• $137,236.51 in airfare and charter expenses.

• $61,318,74 for accommodations.

• $32,683.89 in per diems.

• $66,253.30 in registration fees.

• $87,554.25 in other expenses.

The GN also gave the regional chamber of commerce $166,650 from the Department of Economic Development and Transportation’s strategic investment program, as well as $25,000 as a sponsorship for the trade show.

Main, who spoke in the chamber, while holding a GN document on an action plan to tackle food insecurity in Nunavut, where the majority of Inuit adults don’t get enough food to eat, questioned the amount of money spent in Ottawa on the event.

Bur Quassa said that the conference and trade show provided a chance to show off Nunavut and build interest in Nunavut.

And bringing everyone to Ottawa was a good way to introduce the leaders of the new Nunavut government, he said.

“We were a new government; we were just starting,” he said. “This gave us an opportunity to introduce those interest groups to our ministers. This also gave us an opportunity to meet various federal ministers.

“Certainly we don’t take this lightly at all.”

Quassa also said that for the next Northern Lights Conference and Trade Show, “it will be different.”

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(33) Comments:

#1. Posted by Good job on May 28, 2018

Good job John, there is no accountability to tax payers money.Hope you are not going to be in trouble for asking reasons Or make you keep quite by MR. PQ. wish that money could have been invested in bringing resources to Nunavut.

#2. Posted by Observer on May 28, 2018

Complete waste of money….I guess he feels like he is a royal with his limo service and lavish entourage…In a previous post it stated that his wife attended was that on Nunavuts dime too…? Sounds like misappropriation to me and I can guarantee you nothing will come out of it..been to these conferences before and once it’s done it’s forgotten within 3 days. Trust me there’s very little to “show off” about Nunavut that will be of interest to southerners and nobody cares who 50 leaders are that have never graduated high school….

#3. Posted by Northern Guy on May 28, 2018

Particularly appalling was the $7,200 in taxpayer money paid for a private car and driver to chauffeur the Premier back and forth between his hotel and the conference site ... the total distance about 300 metres one way!!! When questioned about it the Premier got quite defensive saying that it was cold and slippery, please remind where this guy lives again!?! LOL

#4. Posted by Unik on May 28, 2018

If you read some other articles related to this, you’ll find that a lot of the side-meetings that took place did indeed secure funds to come into Nunavut.

That $500,000 goes along way into bringing investors to the territory. It goes much further than it going directly to the territory.

#5. Posted by iRoll on May 28, 2018

Wow, pricey!!

But seriously, come on John, the self congratulations society needed a gathering to let off some steam and congratulate itself.

I’m sure this is in Tuuraqtavut somewhere.

#6. Posted by Frank on May 28, 2018

Poor Paul….charter. Oh boy. Was that for Cabinet who were to good to catch regular flights? Left behind in 1999.

#7. Posted by GET OFF YOUR HIGH HORSE on May 28, 2018

They forget the people who they are representing, like DJ, GET OFF YOUR HIGH HORSE.

#8. Posted by Controlling belief on May 28, 2018

Yes, makes perfect sense, you gotta spend money to make money. Get with it John.

However, bet Mr. Main knows PQ is simply following…

Control perception and you control reality. 

And you control perception by controlling belief. 

PQ is desperately attempting to have all of Nunavut believe, that Nunavut Government’s spending bucks without a plan or proof, is all what’s needed to make money.

By spending half a million $’s made a return back on each dollar invested of $10, $1,000, $10,000 or more? Simply proving money will be gained on this, this at this date. this year with X dollar gained.

We’ve heard business investments will dry up overnight.  Or currently fence sitting, because unsure of Nunavut’s coming Carbon tax and soaring go green electricity prices.  Thus, spending money in Nunavut may cause a painful money drain instead, thus best to stop spending money.

Is this why PQ is trying to control a rosy $$$’s perception future, when reality, it’s a dark coming $’s loss?

#9. Posted by Can’t believe on May 28, 2018

# 3 are you serious that Mr. Premier spent $7.200 for private car and driver. Man he is enjoying his life at tax payers expenses. Why not he be defensive truth always hurts. I am sure his wife need a break from poor living conditions to luxury hotels and all the attension she could get my lady.
What about the homeless people and women who are abused and living with hopelessness ,not even thinking about the best interest of Nunavimmuit but his own entertainment and feeding people in ottawa in a luxury hotels. Who cares about Nunavimmuit, let them go to…..

#10. Posted by pissed off on May 28, 2018

On top of all this you have to add all the money that did not come directly with a Gov of Nunavut cheque but comes from taxpayers dollars all the same .

All the alphabet soup organisations that sent `` delegates`` are in one way or another funded by Joe Public, cities, hamlets, economic dev organisations, tourism associations, wellness organisations and the list goes on….
All the federal government departments, Nav Canada, etc…

#11. Posted by Curious to know on May 28, 2018

I want to know if comment #3 is true.

If it is, sickening, and shame on you Paul. You continue to prove how entitled and out of touch with you are from the realities of Nunavut.

#12. Posted by Red brew on May 28, 2018

I would love to se a line by line accounting for the $87,554.25 listed as “” other”” expenses.

#13. Posted by billiybobgoose on May 28, 2018

anyone remember when he was the NTI President?????as if this is a surprise.

#14. Posted by Past insider on May 28, 2018

Tip of the iceberg, there is so much wastage within the GN its actually scary, so many millions wasted on trips, hotels,per diems, over inflated contracts. Right around holidays you will see meetings set up so someone can travel and have a extended holiday, while the meeting is not very productive at all.

Year end is another story, not being productive during the year you have a bunch of money left over, you find ways to quickly spend that money before year end, on what you spend it on is usually something that doesn’t do very much for the territory if anything. Each department does not work with each other so you can have duplicate work and funds spent on the same thing.

Just the tip of the iceberg, its not going to change any time soon, its a internal issue with the GN, other governments do it so do we mentality. Its strong with this government.

#15. Posted by Jobi on May 28, 2018

Not good spending foolishly like this. PQ show the Nunavut people what was gained in contracts or business from this trip. Show this and people might believe your answers to J.Main.

#16. Posted by timtomduck on May 28, 2018

#15 this has been going on before he was Premier, been going on a long time.

#17. Posted by Any Advise?? on May 28, 2018

Paul’s principal secretary must not be giving him good advice.  What a load of wasted money.  The financial man should be asking for reimbursement for the extra spending.

#18. Posted by Fact checker on May 28, 2018

#11 Yes, the $7,000 expense is true. It was in one of CBC’s stories last week about Northern Lights. They even posted the invoice.

#19. Posted by 59009 on May 28, 2018

People are complaining now, but they will re-elect him when the time comes. It will be the same old thing until a majority of these old timers retire…until then they will just keep getting recycled with changing of which department they are the minister of.

Sure, they have the ‘resume’, but how can new people come in when people will just keep electing the same people. Keep re-electing the same group of people and you will get much of the same thing, and it will stay this way until they start retiring and a new generation can start.

Like some people have said, it would be nice to see the actual breakdown on who flew and the other expenses. And how much money did these meetings really bring to Nunavut, need solid numbers. Nothing will change until you start adding accountability.

#20. Posted by Concern beneficiary on May 28, 2018

I am so disgusted knowing the
Premier has been taking his wife when it’s supposed to be work related and not pleasure gees!!!!

Here we are Inuit beneficiary that can’t get staff housing because only qalunaqs from the south get staff housing now. There are so many staff housing that are Vacant all over the Nunavut because they are for the Qublunaqs that are southern hired by our Government of Nunavut. They are taken care of while usinuit are ditched and ignored. Allot of us Inuit want to work for the GN because we are qualified and we plan to stay in our home, but on the other hand we can’t apply for the job we can do because it doesn’t come with staff housing. Qablunaq come up here just to save $ and don’t stay long, but they get staff housing as soonest they arrive. What the hell is the problem here Paul, Quassa? Why don’t you look into this bad situation since your Inuk too like us and it is supposed to be Government of Nunavut so you should be focused on homeless and much more.

#21. Posted by Jobi on May 28, 2018

#22. I agree with you. I went frob for coffee couple weeks ago. Couldn’t believe my eyes. Hardly any Inuit. Mostly people from where I do not know.

#22. Posted by Primavera on May 28, 2018

#22 Your comment is a slurry of non-sense.

1st. When jobs are advertised without housing it’s usually an advantage to locals.

Still, staff housing is not restricted to non-Inuit only. I live in staff housing, I am a southerner and there are as many Inuit in my building (all staff housing) as there are southerners, maybe more.

2nd. Inuit get the first crack at every job in Nunavut. If you are qualified then you will get the job over me.

The game is rigged in your favour, so don’t blame us if you didn’t get the job.

#23. Posted by tired of these old geezers on May 28, 2018

Paul Quassa is an tyrant. He is apart of that old guard of Inuit holding back the change Nunavut so desperately needs.
John is the only MLA with any balls. He is right, our people are starving and homeless.

#24. Posted by Arctic Circle on May 28, 2018

John Main is good! He is here for the people of Nunavut. We need more MLA’s like him.

#25. Posted by olaf on May 28, 2018

Absolute power corrupts absolutely
When any Nunavut Premier goes down to Ottawa, knowing the tight budget they have to work with, they can walk, no matter what the weather is like.
We are Arctic people.  We can handle it.
A Premier can stand tall among his own people by REFUSING all these perks, whether the other Premiers like them or not, who have much bigger budgets.

#26. Posted by investment in change on May 29, 2018

The old GN government shelved the needs of the people for 18 years.  This new government is worth every nickle invested to capture the lost years of wasted money spent by the old GN.  The old GN supporters here remain stuck in the mud and want to hold the new GN back from learning, and following the vision of Nunavut.  John Main is doing his job by what he understands of time and money spent.  He is also learning.  Watch for next Northern Lights to see an investment in change.

#27. Posted by on May 29, 2018

Politicians and bureaucrats in Ottawa are not stupid. How can you go to Ottawa blow all this money on fluff and then cry poor? It is about stewardship of the scare resources. If you want to be taken seriously then you must act responsible.

#28. Posted by John Main for Premier on May 29, 2018

In yesterday’s budget the GN announced $1.1 million for counselling and crisis support in schools and communities, while there are extreme needs in that area, and yet they have no problem spending half of that in 3 DAYS on limousines and spouses’ travel!

#29. Posted by Wondering: What If on May 29, 2018

Good for accountability on Mr. Main. My question would be how much GN money did he ever use for the same type of Grand Standing Events.
The GN may have spent a little more than they should have but the return on investment will be worth it.

#30. Posted by boris pasternak on May 29, 2018

respectability has two faces, now its respect; before it was everything illegal in one of the larger communities in kivalliq. this event in the big city has been going on for years, todd days, ray days, peter days etc etc, it’s only different now because these current ordinaries were not in nor were they invited and involved.

#31. Posted by Inuk from the North on May 29, 2018

I think this is a good thing for Inuit and non-Inuit who representing their community and they are first hand in this kind of environment.

I know for the Premier he know this is important for future references within their work. Other leaders who already had taken this is a good reminder of what are they working for as public servant within the Government of Nunavut.

These future leaders will be making a difference within their communities.

Keep up the good work.

#32. Posted by credit on May 29, 2018

Nunavut should have learned a long time ago not to trust that dude with a credit card!

#33. Posted by To All Nunavut Beneficiares! on May 29, 2018

When our leaders are talking about helping the people, usually before
elections, it is their own families and buddies they are talking about!
You did not think it was for the common people of Nunavut did you?
    Wake up !!  Smell the coffee.

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