Former premier of Nunavut chosen as new Speaker of legislative assembly

Paul Quassa picked by secret ballot

Paul Quassa is congratulated by his fellow MLAs after he is picked as the new Speaker of the legislative assembly on Wednesday, Feb. 26. (Photo by Emma Tranter)

By Emma Tranter

Paul Quassa, Nunavut’s former premier, will take a new place in the legislative assembly, this time in the sealskin upholstered Speaker’s chair.

The Aggu MLA was chosen by his fellow MLAs to be the assembly’s new Speaker after a secret ballot this morning.

After MLAs cast their ballots, Hudson Bay MLA Allan Rumbolt read out the results, accidentally reading the name of former premier Paul Okalik, instead of Paul Quassa, causing the assembly to erupt with laughter.

The election was triggered by the resignation of Simeon Mikkungwak, who left the job on Feb. 25 for personal reasons.

Along with Quassa, MLAs nominated three others for the position: Tony Akoak, Pauloosie Keyootak and Joelie Kaernerk. Only Quassa and Akoak accepted their nominations.

As per the rules of the assembly, the nominees for the position of Speaker do not deliver speeches and a question and answer period does not occur. All votes are made via secret ballot.

Quassa told reporters that becoming Speaker was something that had been on his mind since he was elected as MLA.

“I think this is a great moment for me and my family and for Nunavummiut because it’s an honour to be a Speaker of the house, wherever we are, in any jurisdiction. And I think Nunavut is very special,” he said.

Quassa was also nominated for Speaker last year after the death of former Speaker Joe Enook but lost to Mikkungwak.

“This is something that I wanted to do. With the support of my family, I was going to run for Speaker again this time around.”

Quassa was removed from the position of premier in a non-confidence vote in June 2018.

Quassa said his experience as premier, MLA and cabinet minister will help him execute his new duties.

“I know the process. I think it’s very important for Nunavummiut to get as much [as they can] out of our legislative assembly.”

The Speaker presides over all sittings of the legislative assembly and is in charge of enforcing the rules of the assembly.

Quassa’s election will be made official when a motion is passed during this afternoon’s sitting of the legislative assembly.

In Nunavut, the Speaker’s salary for 2018-19 was $212,473. Regular MLAs make $121,000 to $135,000.

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(10) Comments:

  1. Posted by Does this mean…? on

    Mr Quassa and the cabinet, and by extension their spouses will be taking limos again? Remember that stint he had as Premier… that wasted money could have been a housing unit.

    • Posted by Coincidence? on

      1. “I know the process. I think it’s very important for Nunavummiut to get as much [as they can] out of our legislative assembly.”

      2. In Nunavut, the Speaker’s salary for 2018-19 was $212,473. Regular MLAs make $121,000 to $135,000.

      3. Coincidence?

  2. Posted by Piitaqanngi on

    Pictures do indeed speak a thousand words. Inuit happily line up to congratulate the new speaker. Those in the background look defeated.

    • Posted by Annie on

      That is very true. Not a happy group in background. Sure glad I don’t work in that toxic place.

      • Posted by Monica A. Connolly on

        I don’t think the sober look on MLA Pat Angnakak’s face has anything to do with disappointment: she nominated Mr. Quassa!

        • Posted by Annie on

          What!! He just got kicked out as premier?

  3. Posted by Toonik’s Grandfather on

    Good move Pat, see Paul……words into action now. Now, time to catch up to 2020 models.

  4. Posted by Mister Everything on

    Congratulations are in order.
    Sure Mr. Quassa likes the ride arounds.
    He is also Inuit and language promoter.

  5. Posted by Name withheld on

    Congrats Paul, and job well done to Simeon!!

    I do not know Paul personally, but I think he did well as Minister of Education and NTI President in the past,

    He promoted Inuktitut in the workplace and in schools, so I hope he continues to do so.

    Simeon thank you and all the best with your family and health.. Paul all the best also

  6. Posted by Kenn Harper on

    Since being removed as Premier, Paul Quassa has done an excellent job, as an ordinary member, in lobbing hard questions at ministers, especially in the field of education. Ironically, many of the hard questions he has been asking are questions that should have been asked of him in his former roles as Premier and Minister. But now he has muted himself. It is an ironic choice of words that his new position is called Speaker, because the Speaker doesn’t speak; he just allows others to speak. In this new position he will not be able to lob any questions at Ministers and he will not be able to represent his constituents in Igloolik (except in the back rooms). The legislature will be deprived of the benefit of the hard questions he showed himself capable of asking, in holding Ministers to account. In taking this position, he has certainly looked after himself financially, but he has betrayed his constituents.

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