Nunavut cabinet admonished by regular MLAs

Regular members say cabinet provides poor communication, doesn’t give clear or timely answers to questions

Regular members of Nunavut’s sixth legislative assembly vote to admonish cabinet for poor communication. Cabinet not providing clear or timely answers to questions has prevented regular members from properly presenting the issues of their constituents, several MLAs said. (Photo by Emma Tranter)

By David Lochead

The regular members of Nunavut’s legislative assembly have sent a notice to the territory’s cabinet ministers: answer our questions.

Aivilik MLA and regular members caucus chairperson Solomon Malliki put forward a motion in the legislative assembly Monday to admonish cabinet because of what he described as poor communication.

“We’re not getting direct answers to our questions,” Malliki said.

An admonishment is seen as a stern warning, legislative assembly clerk John Quirke told Nunatsiaq News.

The motion passed, with every regular member voting in favour with the exception of Hudson Bay MLA Daniel Qavvik, who abstained.

The motivation for the motion came from regular members feeling their questions were not being answered by cabinet in a variety of ways, Malliki said.

One of the responsibilities of MLAs who are regular members is to hold cabinet accountable by questioning the ministers responsible on issues in the territory.

Whether in committee, question period or via email, cabinet has either not answered a question, answered indirectly or taken too long to respond, Malliki said.

Getting those answers is important, Malliki said, as the questions regular members ask concern issues their constituents bring forward to them.

The communication problem lies within cabinet as a whole and not with any specific minister or department, he added.

Malliki said regular members have been mulling putting forward such a motion since the spring sitting in May and June.

Premier P.J. Akeeagok told Nunatsiaq News the motion was “a bit of a surprise.” He said he is always open to discussing issues, but was not approached about any concerns with his cabinet before the motion was tabled.

“My door is always open,” Akeeagok said of being approached.

In his response to Malliki in the legislative assembly, Akeeagok emphasized his government is open and wants to work in unity to address regular members’ concerns over a lack of communication from cabinet.

Akeeagok told Nunatsiaq News he has no concerns over anyone in his cabinet.

Arviat-South MLA Joe Savikataaq spoke in the legislative assembly about a minister’s responsibility to give clear responses to questions.

“Sometimes when we get the answers, we get a bunch of data and other information but at times we don’t get clear, candid answers,” Savikataaq said.

“Our constituents want to know,” he added, of getting answers from cabinet on questions.

Iqaluit-Sinaa MLA Janet Pitsiulaaq Brewster said that not getting clear or timely responses also reflects on regular members.

“Our constituents are left with the impression that we’re not advocating for them, that we’re not doing our job,” Brewster said.

If MLAs cannot get answers from cabinet on important questions, then regular members cannot be productive members of their community, she added.

Iqaluit-Manirajak MLA Adam Lightstone agreed with Brewster.

While Lightstone was previously a part of this assembly’s cabinet as minister of finance and human resources, he said it was not surprising that a motion like this arose.

He said similar problems were occurring in the fifth assembly, in 2019, that led to a letter of expectations being sent.  However, COVID-19 soon curtailed those efforts, Lightstone said.

He also said this recent motion is another attempt to ensure cabinet has a higher standard set so similar communication problems do not continue or get repeated.

 

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(27) Comments:

  1. Posted by Inuk guy on

    You should know by now as an adult,you do not get direct answer,because they cannot give you direct answer,our leaders are reactive,not proactive just saying

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  2. Posted by He still doesn’t get it on

    “My door is always open” — PJ is used to the wheeling and dealing that happens between colleagues at the Inuit orgs. The fact that he still doesn’t understand the MLAs are publicly asking questions for US as our representatives is mind blowing. Your door isn’t open for me, PJ, you hide behind a security guard and locked entrance. So stand in the Legislature and answer OUR questions or go back to the backdoor deals you can make in the Inuit orgs without accountability or transparency. You’re in our house now.

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  3. Posted by Rusty Trombone on

    If you have worked anywhere in the GN you probably know exactly how true this is, brutal communication everyday from uninspired managers who hide in their office and death scroll Facebook all day on their phones.

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  4. Posted by You been bad boys and girls cabinet. on

    A meaningless motion which does nothing. No consequences even explained if they don’t get their act together.

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  5. Posted by Voter on

    Good! Keep them accountable especially the so called “he’s government” premier. He got away way too much when he was qia president.

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  6. Posted by No Answers on

    Secrecy and mistrust are rampant within the Government of Nunavut.
    The Ministers don’t trust their staff. The staff do not trust the Ministers.
    Cabinet decisions are secret.
    Ministers are only told what their senior staff want them to know.
    Outside consultants do the work that staff should be doing.
    .
    But the problems run much deeper.
    A Minister may not provide an answer to a Member’s question because the Department does not have the answer.
    The Department may not have the answer because staff have chosen to not collect the data needed to answer the question.
    Staff may choose to not collect data, so as to avoid having to provide the answer. They know the data, if available, would make the Department look bad. Those staff are actually trying to protect themselves and their Minister by enabling the Minister to honestly say, “I don’t know”. It’s called ‘plausible deniability’.
    .
    The problem is in the system of government. Nunavut claims to have an open government, but I’ve never seen a more secretive organization.

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    • Posted by Totally Clueless on

      The secret to the secrecy is that literally no one knows what is really going on.

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    • Posted by Consistency on

      This ministers dont often even jsut say “I dont know” they answer long winded responses and then say nothing remotely close to what they were asked. or they just give an answer to a different question all together. If they said “i dont know” then worked to find out and got the answer to the MLA later that would be better.

      Also if the regular MLA really want these answers to be made public why not inform the Minister before hand that they will be asking about a topic and maybe even the specific question, so the correct answer is available?

      Arnt they all supposed to be on the same side “consensus government” and all.

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  7. Posted by seriously on

    Come on, you all know even their so called deputy ministers and assistant deputy ministers , thanks to NLCA- article what ever wouldn’t be able to answer most of the questions. Our indigenous hopefuls be doing their best.

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  8. Posted by No answers on

    Over paid slack offs… the public housing system.

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  9. Posted by alex on

    To be honest, the problem is Nunavut Legislation is the colonizer form of Government. The GN itself also is. The top staff of the GN are settlers, making a big buck because they couldn’t make it elsewhere. Nunavut should change their governance to their traditional self….honestly, they don’t need to be the puppet they are right now.

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    • Posted by Go for it on

      “Nunavut should change their governance to their traditional self”

      I’d love to see this experiment tried, honestly, it would undoubtedly be the most educational and enlightening experience that ever happened to you.

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    • Posted by So, Get With the Times on

      Settlers? Seriously? Why do people continue to use offensive and problematic terminology and expect to be taken seriously? Get with the times, such gratuitous offensive language is no longer socially acceptable.

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      • Posted by Jayjay on

        Settler is offensive and problematic? People seem to get up in arms about being referred to as qallunaat or white as well. What can people call us without y’all throwing a temper tantrum?

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        • Posted by Mayor Quimby on

          Qallunaat or white are fine with me, settler describes my grandparents, not me. I was born and raised in Canada, I have no other home.

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          • Posted by Double jeopardy on

            Qaalunaat is the Inuktitut equivalent of saying Eskimo instead of inuit. Different word in different lanuage. It offends some, doesnt offend others. Weird.!

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            • Posted by iThink on

              The fashionable, quasi religious fanaticism that polices word use today is exhausting.

              ‘Eskimo’ is a bad word!

              Nah, I don’t believe it, most Inuit I know don’t believe it either, only a very few do and those who do are, in my estimation, in a state of ideological capture by southern activists who use issues like this to create an exclusive moral currency, which they spend on increased social power.

              Yea so, telling us Qaalunaat is the same as Eskimo is a meaningless (laughable) point.

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  10. Posted by Ian on

    Come on put joe back as premier, and George in as minister of everything.then things will get much better

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    • Posted by summat on

      That is their prerogative. Savikataaq and Hickes are Trumpy. Want to be in power and rake in the moolah and prestige.

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  11. Posted by Far Northerner on

    I’m surprised how the Speaker got to be a speaker? he didn’t speak on behalf of his constituents. He needs to be assessed too.

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  12. Posted by YCO on

    get rid of the health & education ministers, they have never given direct answers, incompetent. quana for the question, she never answers the questions. savikataaq for premiere & george as minister for all depts

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    • Posted by No Clue @ all on

      She truly has no idea what is happening around her, she is utterly lost.

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  13. Posted by Blind on

    Why doesn’t anyone see that this is only about Joe S and Geroge wanting to slither back into cabinate. All this is only to benefit themselves and not Nunavutmiut. Always will be that way.

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  14. Posted by Will I Am on

    The biggest loss is George not being in cabinet, of that there is no doubt. He singlehandedly guided policy and decision making in the past two governments. As a regular member he is a tour de force. No one is looking out for the regular joe more than George Hickes. He should have been premier and he will be someday. When he is and you haters come at the King, you best not miss.

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  15. Posted by Tim Innualuk on

    This is the same government who forgot to tell me I’m still a government employee who’s is disabled and now homeless. Is it any wonder?

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