Baffin South MLA is now justice minister
Baffin South MLA Goo Arlooktoo is now the NWT’s justice minister after two tumultuous years as head of the strife-ridden public works department.
IQALUIT After spending two years bucking and riding at the height of the storm, Baffin South MLA Goo Arlooktoo will now steer his political fortunes into quieter waters.
In a cabinet shuffle announced Dec. 5, Premier Don Morin announced that Arlooktoo will no longer be the NWT’s minister of public works and services.
That job now goes to Jim Antoine, who will keep his responsibilities as transportation minister and minister responsible for aborginal affairs.
In place of public works, Arlooktoo will take on responsibility for the Department of Justice.
The former justice minister, Kitikmeot MLA Kelvin Ng, will hang on to his job as minister of health and social services, and will remain as the minister responsible for seniors and as the GNWT representative on the Ministerial Council on Social Policy Renewal.
In a GNWT press release, Morin claimed that “the government is accomplishing much of what it set out to do.”
He also claimed that the cabinet shuffle is merely aimed at “rebalancing the ministerial workload.”
“As part of the onging process of evaluating how we are doing, it is now time to do some fine-tuning,” Morin asserted.
Rookie MLA got tough job
A rookie MLA who was first elected in the 1995 territorial election, Arlooktoo was thrust into the public works portfolio just as the new Don Morin-John Todd government was reeling from conflict-of-interest and corruption allegations that had arisen in the life of the previous government.
As the NWT’s new public works minister, Arlooktoo walked straight into a firestorm of controversy that had arisen over a $90 million contract to resupply the eastern Arctic with fuel products, and a related contract to build a $16 tank farm and fuel redistribution system in Rankin Inlet.
Arlooktoo, the Baffin region’s only cabinet minister, also had to to deal with an aggressive campaign by Nunavut Tunngavik aimed at enforcing the GNWT’s compliance with Article 24 of the Nunavut land claim agreement.
More recently, Arlooktoo had the unwelcome task of dealing with another uproar in the Keewatin that was ignited by a GNWT proposal this summer to fast-track the direct resupply of fuel to the Keewatin before division.
On a November tour of three Keewatin communities, Arlooktoo was inundated with complaints, including accusations that as an Inuk cabinet minister, he was failing to represent Inuit interests.
Amidst rumours that the cabinet was badly divided on the issue, Arlooktoo made an announcement on the Keewatin resupply issue just a few days before Morin’s cabinet shuffle that gave in to most of this critics’ demands.