Legislators to pick speaker, premier, most of cabinet

Information overload greets new Nunavut MLAs


If the four-inch binder isn't enough information, perhaps the massive list of phone numbers to memorize is.

Nunavut's MLAs began arriving in Iqaluit last week for orientation.

With 11 new faces in the legislative assembly, clerk John Quirke has been busy doling out briefing binders packed with 45 tabs worth of information about parliamentary basics, legislative services and the rules and obligations that MLAs are expected to observe.

Fred Schell, elected as MLA for South Baffin in a Nov. 3 by-election, said the sheer volume of information to absorb is daunting.

"There's a lot of stuff to learn: procedures, legal stuff and obligations. What you're supposed to say and not supposed to say to people like you," Schell said, laughing.

But Schell said being only one of 11 new MLAs who are trying to learn their new jobs makes it easier.

"If I was the only new one here it'd be different, but there's 10 other ones, [so everybody's in] the same boat," he said.

Quirke said MLAs heard from former speaker and Pangnirtung MLA Peter Kilabuk and integrity commissioner Norman Pickell last week.

This past week was set aside for discussions about standing committees, the budget process and how bills become law.

Still to come as of Nunatsiaq News press-time were presentations from the staff of each government department and a dress rehearsal for the swearing-in ceremony scheduled for Nov. 18.

Moses Aupaluktuq, the new MLA for Baker Lake, said the material includes a list of services available to members and a who's who of government employees, including deputy ministers and assistant deputy ministers.

"Definitely I'm going to be adding a lot of new names and numbers to my address book," he said.

Aupaluktuq said he found many of the new members were asking questions that were on his mind too.

And the second- and third- term MLAs – of which there are seven – "They've been very respectful, courteous and also informative," he said.

Eighteen of Nunavut's 19 MLAs are to meet today, Nov. 14, for the leadership forum, where they'll pick a speaker, premier and seven of the eight members of cabinet.

The last member of the cabinet will be selected once an MLA is elected in a by-election in Akulliq.

Aupaluktuq, who at 37 is one of the youngest MLAs in the Assembly, said he's not the least bit nervous about making his debut in the house.

"It's exciting simply because we were put here by the people," he said.

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