Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut June 14, 2018 - 2:59 pm

Nunavut premier removed by non-confidence vote

16 members vote to oust Quassa, three vote to keep him, two abstain

Aggu MLA Paul Quassa has been removed from his role as Nunavut's premier, following a historic non-confidence vote in the legislative assembly today, June 14. (PHOTO BY BETH BROWN)
Aggu MLA Paul Quassa has been removed from his role as Nunavut's premier, following a historic non-confidence vote in the legislative assembly today, June 14. (PHOTO BY BETH BROWN)
Sixteen of Nunavut's 22 members elected in the Government of Nunavut voted to remove Premier Paul Quassa from cabinet, June 14. (PHOTO BY BETH BROWN)
Sixteen of Nunavut's 22 members elected in the Government of Nunavut voted to remove Premier Paul Quassa from cabinet, June 14. (PHOTO BY BETH BROWN)
As chair for the council of regular members, Arviat North-Whale Cove MLA John Main reads a motion, June 14 in Nunavut's legislative assembly, to remove Paul Quassa from his role as premier and from the executive council, or cabinet. That motion passed. (PHOTO BY BETH BROWN)
As chair for the council of regular members, Arviat North-Whale Cove MLA John Main reads a motion, June 14 in Nunavut's legislative assembly, to remove Paul Quassa from his role as premier and from the executive council, or cabinet. That motion passed. (PHOTO BY BETH BROWN)

(Updated at 3:23 p.m.)

Nunavut’s MLAs will pick a new premier this afternoon, after they removed Aggu MLA Paul Quassa from that lead role during a historic non-confidence vote in the legislative assembly earlier today, June 14.

Of 21 members, including Quassa, but not including the Speaker, 16 voted in favour of a motion to oust the premier, while three voted to keep him and two members chose to abstain.

That means that Nunavut’s MLAs must pick a new premier, before dealing with any other business.

Starting today at 3:30 p.m., MLAs will hold a leadership forum to elect a new premier and a new member of the executive council. You can watch the proceedings live on the legislative assembly website.

Arviat North-Whale Cove MLA John Main, in his role as chair of the regular members caucus, gave notice of the motion to remove Quassa from cabinet on Tuesday, June 12. Gjoa Haven MLA Tony Akoak seconded the motion.

During Thursday’s vote, Quttiktuq MLA and Finance Minister David Akeeagok and Kugluktuk MLA Mila Adjukak Kamingoak voted to keep Quassa as premier. Pangnirtung MLA Margaret Nakashuk and Amittuq MLA Joelie Kaernerk chose to abstain from a vote. All other members supported the non-confidence motion.

“I’m not pleased with it,” Main said, adding that the motion is professional rather than personal. “The Government of Nunavut is a $2 billion-a-year ship. We need to know that the captain is pointing the ship in the right direction.”

The motion is the result of no single action, Main said. Instead, it was Quassa’s “autocratic style” of leadership that MLAs lost confidence with, as well as unspecified “misleading statements” Main accused Quassa of making in the legislature.

When Akeeagok urged Main to provide specifics about how Quassa misled the legislature, Main simply responded by saying that the details are in the record of legislative proceedings, Hansard.

Earlier this sitting, MLAs grilled Quassa about his government’s decision to spend $570,000 to send more than 60 people to the Northern Lights conference in Ottawa earlier this year.

As well, MLAs have criticized the government’s decision to withdraw its support from the proposed Grays Bay port and road in western Nunavut.

“We wouldn’t have brought the motion forward if the caucus didn’t feel that there was a lot of support for it,” Main told reporters afterwards. “It was emotional for a lot of members, not a happy occasion.”

“It comes down to leadership issues, many of which were brought up in the house.”

In Nunavut’s consensus-style government, regular members outnumber the executive council, or cabinet, effectively creating a minority government.

When he spoke to the motion, Baker Lake MLA Simeon Mikkungwak said that the assembly had chosen during its leadership forum not to hold a mid-term leadership review of their government—but made it clear that this kind of motion could be brought up if needed.

“Whatever the decision is, it’s going to be good for today and for Nunavummiut,” Quassa said in response to the motion.

Quassa, from Igloolik, is Nunavut’s former education minister, a previous president of Nunavut Tunnagvik Inc. and a signatory of the Nunavut Agreement. He ran for premier in the last government, but lost.

This is the fifth legislative assembly since Nunavut became a territory in 1999. There have been four Nunavut premiers, as Paul Okalik served two terms. Okalik’s resignation was called for in 2007, but today is the first time a formal motion has been made for a premier to resign.

“It’s only been seven months. We’re just starting,” Quassa said. “It’s not a party system. It’s a consensus style of government, that’s our tradition.”

Quassa called on members to remember that their government is founded on dialogue and teamwork.

As for excess spending flagged over the Northern Lights tradeshow, Quassa told members he has already apologized for that.

“At the next event we will operate differently,” he said.

Following the vote, many of the members and visitors in gallery hugged Quassa.

He then gave a brief interview to reporters.

“Nunavut was created with a vision and I’m sure this house will continue,” he said. “I wasn’t voted out as an MLA, I’m still going to continue speaking on behalf of my constituency.”

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(39) Comments:

#1. Posted by Fed up with "consensus"-style government on June 14, 2018

It is time to change the so-called “consensus”-style of government (which is actually based on a majority vote, not consensus) and time to introduce political parties in Nunavut.

The current system creates perpetual minority governments where those in power don’t agree on a political platform.

Nunavut needs political parties with coherent political agendas, and governments that occasionally have majorities, in order to get things done.

#2. Posted by Westerner on June 14, 2018

What’s up with MLA Kamingoak?
Is she in it for herself or her Constituents?
Brother-In-Law had an influence on her much?....
Kugluktuk will have some questions for her when she gets home….

#3. Posted by uvaga on June 14, 2018

please please please Lord, I guess Netser, the one for Rankin is just for family and he will only help family, I don’t know Joe, I hear Netser more.

#4. Posted by leadership on June 14, 2018

Netser says he’ll work with the other members but you know he’ll take his cues from the federal conservatives.

#5. Posted by uvaga on June 14, 2018

I trust Joe, government will be save and he will serve Nunavut.

#6. Posted by Rutabeggar on June 14, 2018

Hey Westerner, you hit the nail on the head.  What on earth was she thinking?  Quassa and his cabinet totally dumped on two community-led flagship projects that would benefit her community and region, Kugluktuk Long-Term Care Facility and Grays Bay Port and Road.  We have since learned from this paper that the GN didn’t even give the champions of those projects a meeting to hear out their respective project.  Shameful. Her dogged loyalty to the fallen king has got her nowhere and it exposes her questionable judgement.  Not good.

#7. Posted by Northern Inuit on June 14, 2018

Mila, what the hell? 

you stood by with Uncle David?  why did you vote the way that you did Mila?  you will have a lot of questions to answer when you get home.

Well, there is so much more going on behind the scenes that we are not privy to.

We must first say quana to Paul Quassa, you serve your people and was very gracious in your speech this morning.  We thank you for that.

It’s interesting to watch Lorne, Patterk and Joe speak and answer questions.

We wish you the best in the rest of the term.

#8. Posted by Ticky Tacky on June 14, 2018

So #1, your opinion is that a political party system in Nunavut would be more effective because parties would be able to get stuff done without majority approval?

I believe that this style government works much better than a party system.  It may not be “consensus”, but it’s majority.  If you can’t get a majority of the democratically elected members to agree on something, then it shouldn’t be done.

In this case, 16(!!) of the 20 members that were not Paul Quassa, didn’t think that Quassa was off to a good first 7 months of leading.  That says something.  But if Quassa was part of a party that held a majority government, there would be nothing that could be done for the next 3 years and 5 months.

#9. Posted by Fake Plastic Tree on June 14, 2018


I disagree with your solution. A Party system will only polarize the assembly. Take a look at the House of Commons, or worse yet, the US Congress. A party system breeds ideological devotion that often supersedes local interests.

This is not what we need in Nunavut.

It’s ironic, but it could be argued that the non-party system we see in Nunavut is a better model than that we see practiced anywhere else in North America.

#10. Posted by CamBay Cousin on June 14, 2018


This premier lied about the Gray’s Bay project not once but twice about his governments support/lack of. He did not support the Elders facility that you hammered him and the health minister with questions about. What do you actually stand for? Why would you vote in favour of keeping Paul Quassa! Your community should call for your resignation! At least abstain from the vote instead of vote to keep him…..

#11. Posted by Seriously Mila? on June 14, 2018

Why did you vote to keep the person in who lied about initiatives your community would have not only benefited from but were championing for?

#12. Posted by eskimo joe on June 14, 2018

Hey west, leave mila alone, what is it with you people and grays road. Stan and company got you guys by the ball?.  grays road is dead….as for p.nesrer who wants a gook for primeir? Jm, I hope you didn’t make this motion on moral grounds. Ppl research, ask.

#13. Posted by Larry on June 14, 2018

This sounds more personal than anything else John, from the beginning you wanted a Kivalliq Premier, I guess you got your shot at opening this again and now we will have a Kivalliq Premier.

This has to be the dirtiest politics we have seen in Nunavut.

#14. Posted by Voter on June 14, 2018

Is Cathy allowed to vote for her brother inlaw?or is there a conflict?

#15. Posted by Sad day on June 14, 2018

As an Inuk, I was so happy with Quassa making changes to improve it for us.  MLAs and Ministers did a real disservice for us today.  Thank you to the two courageous members who stood for reason today.

#16. Posted by Sad day on June 14, 2018

%}#* the MLAs. This is a very sad day for Nunavut.

#17. Posted by Angiqatigiit on June 14, 2018

it was done now rather than later.  I am sure all of the reasons did not come out but you can read the main reasons as well as between the lines.

so disappointing how 2 could vote but did not and did not represent the communities who voted for them.  the 2 who stood with the ex Premier are related to each other.

#18. Posted by BLANK! on June 14, 2018

I think Ms. Mila is in for a rough ride…from her own constituents.

You need a more seasoned politician than this kid.  I don’t think she knows what she is doing.

#19. Posted by Mary on June 14, 2018

If theyou area going to have high standards they should remove people with criminal record as well as few ministers have charges

#20. Posted by copperinuk on June 14, 2018

Sad but true that Patterk had more to say for our region than Kugluktuk own MLA, Mila what were you thinking during the vote. Quassa was totally against anything that our community had wished for like a elders facility and Road and Port project only to name a couple. I feel you are not making decisions for our people of Kugluktuk but for Baffinmiutaks!!!! SAD…

#21. Posted by Agree with number one on June 14, 2018

Yukon has an equal number of citizens and has a stable government system and gets things done.  Ours is still playing musical chairs while real issues of the day are further left behind.

#22. Posted by Mary on June 14, 2018

Number 7 if you were able to do a better job you should of ran! You know grays bay is not worth a cent. WaSteve of money. Money that can be spenthere else where. Think about the animals not the most eyes for once.

Focus on the criminals that shouldnt be there.

#23. Posted by Crossroads on June 14, 2018

I think this is a crossroads. We don’t necessarily need to go with a party system, but we do need to make sure that if we don’t have a party system that we put in place mechanisms that fill some of the important roles played by parties.

On the opposition side I don’t think that’s an issue - regular MLAs are pretty good at holding the government to account.

The problem is on the government side. All the power is in the Premier’s office, but really that’s only like four people - not nearly enough to figure out what to do. So they depend on EIA and all the department DMs to run the show and tell them what to think. (this is the explanation for the oft heard complaint that bureaucrats hold all the power in the GN)

In a party system the party supplies an alternative source of research and policy perspectives, which is an important check on senior bureaucrat power.

In Nunavut’s system the Premier has the tiger by the tail and the result is predictable.

#24. Posted by Dummy on June 14, 2018

Where is Shuapik in this ? No seen or heard in this sitting, is she still the MLA, hope cabinet ministers get shuffled too, there are good for nothing and in my view John, Adam and Hicks should be Ministers.

#25. Posted by Dan on June 14, 2018

I guess he didn’t pass his probationary period.

#26. Posted by Your Hometown on June 14, 2018

Seriously Mila? You gave it no thought about voting to keep Quassa in as Premiere, goes to show that the Kitikmeot is nothing. How many MLA’S does Nunavut need to represent the Baffin Region, Mila?

#27. Posted by Kugluktuk Resident on June 14, 2018

LOL. Make Nunavut great again.

I wonder what was Kugluktuk’s MLA thinking or told, that she decides to try and keep PQ in the Premier seat. Western MLA with Baffin advisors? Akeeagok family?

#28. Posted by Our own fault, we got the mla we deserved on June 14, 2018

Mila had the good fortune to be acclaimed this time around. I doubt that will happen next election. If i were her i would resign now and ask for her job back at Culture & Heritage.

#29. Posted by Thinker on June 14, 2018

yep i don’t think she is cut out to be an MLA when the voting is so obvious and divided Did she not know there were issues if 16 said there were?  also her questioning is all for one community and not the whole of nunavut.

#30. Posted by Uvanga on June 15, 2018

Greys bay was a cabinet desicion which mean the member for Cambridge bay also supported and the new premier said in the house the project is not financially supported by the government. Mila has integrity she stood by what was not clear from other MLAs. They failed the public an explanation about Quassa and his non confidence. This a dangerous time for Nunavut politics, they did not follow Inuit Values at all or use the sensor. MLAs are now the dictators before trying to rectify they fire

#31. Posted by Uvanga on June 15, 2018

Read the hadsards, greys bay is not happening in this government. Cambridge bay member is on cabinet and she as cabinet decision maker didn’t fight for the project nor did the new premier. This is not about Mila it’s your mla

#32. Posted by Miner on June 15, 2018

I’m happy here in Edmonton, this new Premier will pay for the road and port now for the company in China I am working for, your past Premier didn’t support it, he was more interested in Inuit education and Language.

#33. Posted by Paul Murphy on June 15, 2018

Oh the knives are clinking today .
For those of you who are big supporters of a consensus government (and I can be added to the list of somewhat supporters) think about this. You can’t have consensus government and be led by an autocrat. Mr Quassa is accused by 16 (not one) of the 22 members to have been just that.  How can a consensus be reached when 16 of the 22 members are not involved?  Just something to think about before you put those knives in action.

#34. Posted by Kanokli on June 15, 2018

Majority of the Executive Council voted for the motion. Non-confidence there alone in cabinet.  Why they wait for the regular MLA’s to do all the dirty work!????  We need to question why they are not acting accordingly. As for Mila, I feel for her, but politics is dirty. It’s even dirtier when you don’t back your community or Region

#35. Posted by Fan of Consensus on June 15, 2018

#1…. Party politics work so well that only around 40% of the population gets to influence policy. Yes, things move slow, but decisions represent what’s best for more people.

#36. Posted by Wii on June 15, 2018

Bye, Felicia!

#37. Posted by YCB on June 15, 2018

Give Mila a break. Lets talk about our Cambridge Bay MLA; she did absolutely no questioning during the question period for Netser, Kusugak, and Savikataaq. You would like “MS. Ehaloak” would have questions on the road and port project, but yet she decided to keep quiet and not fight for anything. Literally nothing. At this point im sure shes just sitting in the assembly to be seen there. Disgrace.

#38. Posted by huh? on June 15, 2018

#31 Uvanga

who said this was a about greys bay and cambay?? are you forgetting that the premier lied to Mila about not seeing the letter Mila wrote to him about the Elders facility that Kugluktuk has been trying to get and also not supporting it??

#39. Posted by James on June 15, 2018

It was one step forward for us Inuit now two steps back.

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