Nunavut MLA questions GN spending on Ottawa trade show
"There are hungry people in my communities"
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.”