MLA suspended from legislature for public intoxication

Joelie Kaernerk tells colleagues he accepts ‘the consequences of my actions’ without addressing what they were

Ammituq MLA Joelie Kaernerk speaks in the legislative assembly Thursday after a motion was brought forward to have him temporarily suspended. (Photo by Emma Tranter)

By Emma Tranter

MLA Joelie Kaernerk has been suspended from Nunavut’s legislative assembly until Monday for allegedly being intoxicated in the legislature.

Kaernerk, who represents the riding of Amittuq which includes Sanirajak and part of Igloolik, will not be allowed to return to the assembly or attend its committees and caucuses until June 6.

MLAs voted to suspend him from the assembly after Iqaluit-Sinaa MLA Janet Brewster brought forward a motion Thursday afternoon.

Brewster’s motion said Kaernerk “engaged in conduct unacceptable to this house, including public intoxication.”

She also said Kaernerk should “reflect strongly on his responsibility to his constituents.”

Speaking to the assembly, Kaernerk said it was unfortunate that the incident happened. But he did not directly address what happened, or where it occurred.

“I take responsibility for my actions. I apologize. I offer sincere apologies to my colleagues,” he said.

“I do accept the consequences of my actions.”

Kaernerk said he hopes to continue to serve his constituents as MLA. He was first elected in 2017 and was re-elected last October.

“I am seeking help on my addiction … I am a man of my word and I will definitely seek help,” he said.

Kaernerk then left the assembly’s chambers.

In an interview, Brewster would not speak to the circumstances of the public intoxication.

“We deal with issues that come up in the precinct of the legislative assembly and that’s what we did today,” Brewster said.

The legislative assembly’s rules state members can regulate their own proceedings and internal affairs, including the discipline of members.

That also includes the power to suspend a member from the legislative assembly.

Netsilik MLA Joseph Inagayuk Quqqiaq was the only MLA to vote against the motion. Aivilik MLA Solomon Malliki abstained.

In an interview, Quqqiaq said he was “a bit sad” to see the motion come up, but that there are consequences “that we have to deal with.”

“He’s a voice for his community and they need a voice,” Quqqiaq.

“He’s a great voice.”

Quqqiaq added that he thinks the length of the suspension is appropriate, but he looks forward to Kaernerk returning on Monday.



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(14) Comments:

  1. Posted by No mercy on

    The MLA’s need to be tougher and motion anyone of them out as soon as an MLA comes to work drunk

    • Posted by Yet another on

      Wow. Yet another drunk caught in the act. Amazing that these people still get into positions of power, show up drunk for work, then claim they need forgiveness – and get less than a week’s slap-on-the-wrist for this, for recognizing, apparently, that the majority or Nunavummiut don’t view this drunken behaviour as problematic.

  2. Posted by One week on

    A one week suspension for public intoxication from a powerful position should have the entire legislative assembly worried about this MLA’s judgment. This is gross misconduct and inexcusable for someone of his stature.

  3. Posted by Delbert on

    Disgraceful conduct. With all the problems that Alcohol has caused in Nunavut. We have a MLA suspended due to intoxication.
    What a poor example of leadership.

  4. Posted by Wacker on

    Plus your in the House of governments property

  5. Posted by Addictions on

    Addictions happen to the best of us. Kudos for acknowledging his issues and that he will seek help for his addictions and behaviours. Alcohol does impair our judgements, there is no doubt about that. Many people would deny, this man did not. Let this be a gateway for many people who are suffering silently from alcohol dependance. It is indeed a problem that has taken too many good people out.

    • Posted by Addicts are the worlds best liars on

      The only reason he is saying he has a problem is probably because he was caught. Probably also helped him get such a light suspension from the Leg.
      MLA’s are the top jobs in Government and people look up to them. Yes, good for him for acknowledging this, but this likely would not have happened if he weren’t caught in the act.

  6. Posted by Addictions on

    Nunavut is full of addictions.
    They are all part of the legacy of colonialism. Until Nunavummiut recognize this, and address the issue, we will not move forward.

    • Posted by Dulcinea on

      Your list is not complete. You forgot sugar, and carbohydrates in general.

    • Posted by Erich Fromm on

      To suggest everything bad is a ‘colonialism’ is to say Inuit have no agency or power and are passive agents with no ability to control themselves or regulate their use of these magical substances.

      “Until they recognize this” of course, as if conversion to your quasi-religious doctrine will somehow liberate them.

      Pure non-sense.

    • Posted by Oh? on

      So, based on your list, snowmobiles, hunting gear, trucks, gasoline, motor boats are all because of colonialism too?

      • Posted by In Rankin on

        Here we go again with the list of what “you” brought up to us in the north with the snowmobiles, hunting gear etc., etc. So happy to see that your feeling of superiority over Inuit still reigns rampant to this day. Your paint brush must be heavy as you see a people all the same.
        These are items that came with time, with or without Canada we would have gotten these anyways.
        (sarcasm) White-Power to ya Brother/Sis!

    • Posted by Poutine on

      Also colonists?

  7. Posted by Manapik on

    If I’m not mistaken, John A Macdonald was inebriated all the time while in power, I think he died from cirrhosis of the liver. Drinking has been present in the House of Commons for last 150 years, Nunavut legislators are just common folk too, indecisiveness is rampant too. They keep shelving projects citing too costly, maybe cheaper next year, mean while the ordinary folks of Nunavut suffer.


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