Nunavut cancels spring legislative sitting due to COVID-19 concerns

MLAs “remain engaged with their portfolios and constituency responsibilities,” says Speaker

The spring sitting of Nunavut’s legislative assembly has been cancelled due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19. (File photo)

By Meagan Deuling
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The spring sitting of Nunavut’s legislative assembly has been cancelled to help curb the spread of COVID-19, Speaker Paul Quassa announced today.

“Recognizing that all Nunavut organizations and residents are currently being asked to limit their travel and refrain from large gatherings, the most prudent course of action for our institution at this time is to defer its next sitting,” Quassa said in a news release on Friday, May 1.

The sitting was scheduled to run from May 26 to June 4.

Quassa said that he’s confident the fall sitting will go ahead as scheduled, from Oct. 20 to Nov. 5. But he said that the legislature is prepared to call ministers and regular MLAs to the house in September to “consider proposed supplementary appropriation bills and other urgent business arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The announcement comes a day after a person in Pond Inlet tested positive for COVID-19, the first in Nunavut to do so.

A week prior to this, the clerk of the legislative assembly was in the house, using a measuring stick to prepare for a socially distanced sitting.

John Quirke, the clerk of Nunavut’s legislative assembly, measures out safe distances in preparation for the spring sitting, which has now been cancelled. (Photo by Emma Tranter)

Quassa said in the release that members and MLAs will “remain engaged with their portfolios and constituency responsibilities.”

Furthermore, Quassa said that the byelections scheduled to take place on August 24 in Baker Lake and Kugluktuk will go ahead as planned.

The Baker Lake byelection is to fill the seat vacated in February by Simeon Mikkungwak, who served as Baker Lake’s MLA and as Speaker of the house.

The Kugluktuk byelection is to fill the seat vacated by Kugluktuk MLA Mila Kamingoak at the beginning of April.

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(11) Comments:

  1. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    Typical – 5 people in the small photo, we can clearly see 4 of them, not a single person is wearing a face mask.
    If our politicians and government officials don’t take this PANDEMIC seriously how do they expect the rest of us to take it seriously. And they are talking abour safe distancing. SMH.
    If in public WEAR A MASK. Otherwise STAY HOME, STAY SAFE.

    • Posted by Jeff on

      I agree with you. As always. A very disappointing picture to view. Shutting down ledge sitting til Oct is equally pathetic. Show some courage & leadership mlas.

      • Posted by The Old Trapper on

        I actually don’t have a problem with not having an in person sitting of the Legislative Assembly, but I am opposed to it being cancelled/postponed.
        This is an important time, and life has just been changed, possibly forever, or at least for the next couple of years.
        Covid-19 has pointed out glaring holes in Nunavut’s public health capabilities. Yes we always knew that there would be serious issues if a deadly communicable virus got lose but up to this year it hadn’t and we could ignore the sad state of our readiness without repercussions. Well we can no longer do that.
        Now would be a good time to try to get a new plan together on how we can cope with this new reality and hopefully not kill to many people along the way.
        And just in case our politicians miss the point, we elect you to lead us and to keep us safe. You hire, train, and instruct the many government officials and employees in every department on how to carry out your instructions.
        And your number one priority is to keep us safe. That means sheltered, fed, and as protected as possible from deadly diseases. You can’t just postpone your responsibilities. We realize that it may not be safe for you to meet in person, fine. There are other alternatives – use them. FIGURE IT OUT.
        You don’t get free pass just because it suddenly got hard. You wanted the responsibility and the big bucks, fine. TIME TO EARN IT.

        • Posted by Opal on

          Totally disagree. All the decisions that need to be made can be handled at the executive level along with the departments.

          What could the regular MLAs do at this time except stall emergency work. If any of the regular members have problems with cabinet decisions during the state of emergency, use the tools given to you by your legislative assembly to voice your concerns. The GN has been pretty quick overall to remedy gaps when pointed out in the media.

          • Posted by The Old Trapper on

            Because it is part of the checks and balances built into the system. There being enough regular members to vote no confidence in, for example, the Minister of Education?
            Who knows, maybe one of the regular members will have an idea that works. Could happen.
            Do you think that it is a good idea to give the Ministers or Deputy Ministers free range in each and every department?
            The GN has emergency powers to handle the Covid-19 crisis, they do not and should not have unfettered decision making ability to do what they wish, especially if it is unrelated to Covid-19. Just my humble opinion, you of course are free to disagree.

            • Posted by Artie on

              Old Trapper. Must be tough sitting on the sidelines during a pandemic. If u had stuck around maybe cd have managed this better. Or not.

        • Posted by Jeff on

          Finally we disagree. Cancelling sitting or postponing it is a chicken little approach. When times get tough the tough get going. Mlas need show grit & resolve. Inspire & motivate don’t hide & cower.

  2. Posted by Concerned on

    Well, well……. Not safe for the MLA’s to get together in one building but they mandate teachers back into the schools (which involves meetings!)
    Practice what you preach!

    • Posted by Previous Performance on

      That would require Joansie showing leadership.

      What, based on his previous history of performance, will lead you to believe he’s capable of that?

  3. Posted by Watching on

    Some ministers must be relieved no sitting till October they have no idea what there doing only being reactive instead of proactive

  4. Posted by I live in the Arctic on

    C’mon show some leadership it is now confirmed that there is no known case of the Covid 19, get back to work or do it remotely, online, or by teleconference.

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