Nunavut’s premier responds to criticisms of cabinet ministers’ performance

“I am fully prepared to ensure that corrective action is taken, when warranted”

Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq wrote a letter to four federal party leaders back in September. On Oct. 18, in the legislative assembly, he announced that only two leaders have responded. (File photo)

By John Thompson

Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq is pressing the territory’s caucus of regular members to provide specific examples of what they consider to be lacklustre performance by certain cabinet ministers.

John Main, the chair of the regular members’ caucus, wrote in a letter to the premier, tabled in the legislature earlier this week, that there is “growing dissatisfaction” among regular members over “a number of ongoing performance issues with the executive council.”

The letter goes on to call on the premier to crack the whip and ensure that ministers provide more meaningful answers when they are questioned in the legislature.

If certain cabinet ministers don’t shape up, Main warned, there could be consequences, including motions of non-confidence.

But Savikataaq said, in a letter in response tabled on Thursday, May 30, that he needs examples of what the regular MLAs view as “performance issues.”

“I need to be informed of specific instances of ‘performance issues’ of members of the executive council,” Savikataaq wrote.

“I am fully prepared to ensure that corrective action is taken, when warranted.”

Main’s letter includes a list of expectations for ministers. It says ministers should be properly briefed, provide substantial answers to questions in the legislature, be clear and concise, provide timely followups when they can’t provide information immediately, give full consideration to recommendations made by standing committees and individual MLAs, table documents in a timely manner, and maintain open lines of communication with standing committees and individual MLAs.

In response, Savikataaq said in his view, cabinet ministers already meet these expectations.

Cabinet ministers are already briefed on all major issues, he wrote. “Our administration and staff work very hard to ensure that this happens on a regular basis.”

The demands to offer substantial answers and to be clear and concise “appear to contradict each other,” Savikataaq wrote.

“There are times where substantive answers are certainly warranted, and there are other times in which a more concise answer is necessary. Dependent on the matter at hand, ministers make determinations on how to respond.”

Followup answers are offered in a timely manner, said Savikataaq. But questions about complex issues sometimes take longer to address.

Standing committee recommendations and the views of individual MLAs are taken into consideration when the budgets of government departments and agencies are developed, said Savikataaq, “and when necessary, explanations are provided to members on areas of possible contention.”

Ministers try their best to table documents in a timely fashion, and “when there is a known delay in a minister’s ability to table documents, appropriate notices are provided,” said Savikataaq.

And ministers do their best to keep the lines of communication open with standing committees and individual MLAs, said Savikataaq.

“Instructions from the Office of the Legislative Assembly are disseminated on a regular basis. Further to this, my office has invited the clerk of the assembly to engage with ministerial staff to ensure there is clarity on the way in which information from ministers to members should be disseminated. We commit to ensure ongoing openness on this front.”

After tabling his letter, Savikataaq told the legislature that “we as cabinet have an open-door policy and they can come and talk to any minister or myself about any issues or perceived issues they have with any one of us on cabinet.”

TD 167 5(2) 2019 2020 en Letter of Expectation for EC OfNU 0 by NunatsiaqNews on Scribd

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(8) Comments:

  1. Posted by happens a;ll the time on

    Sounds like this is a school yard someone gets the others to do things and is successful at it but not successful at running things

  2. Posted by John on

    “Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq is pressing the territory’s caucus of regular members to provide specific examples of what they consider to be lacklustre performance by certain cabinet ministers.”

    This might take up the whole time at the assembly sitting. Maybe a Premier review is in order?

  3. Posted by BILL MAN on

    Thank you Mr. Premier for your reply to Mr. Main.
    No day is complete with out a good laugh. With your comments you provided a weeks worth of laughs

  4. Posted by Curious Caribou on

    Joe’s not usually my cup of tea, but it’s good to see him clap back on this.

    The benefit of being a regular MLA is no one holds you accountable, even as you are tasked with holding others accountable.

    Lets flip the script for a moment.

    Regular MLA’s – why do you sit on Standing Committee Correspondence for months until just before a sitting forcing Departmental Staff to scramble to do the research and provide meaningful responses on time?

    Regular MLA’s – why do you insist on wagging your fingers (publicly) at Ministers, yet refuse to run for Cabinet seats yourself? If the quality of the Executive Council is so poor, why don’t you step up? Or does that sound too much like hard work?

    Regular MLA’s – why do you overlook obvious and glaring errors, mischaracterizations, and omissions by some Ministers, but then grill other Ministers on the most inconsequential minutia? Why the double standards?

    Regular MLA’s – why do you never ask questions about some of the ridiculous contracts the GN signs? Have you looked at a PARS or CARS report lately? Do you even know what they are?

    Regular MLA’s – why have you done nothing to improve the Ethics & Reporting situation, despite at least 2 among you having raised it? And despite the accounts you get from your constituents who are GN staff who are terrified of their Senior Managers?

  5. Posted by Crystal Clarity on

    Let’s face it …..there is nothing “Consensus” or “IQ” about the Legislative Assembly. Without parties we have to depend on the regular members to hold the executive council accountable. Even if they are a little over the top sometimes Just enjoy the show.

  6. Posted by ministers need to be more prepared when coming to the leg! on

    I agree with Mr Main. When you read and/or listen to the responses being made by some of the Ministers during Leg when questions are asked, I am shocked at how many of them do not know their portfolios and cannot give meaningful responses to questions. They can NEVER just answer the questions being asked and always “have to get back to you” on the issue. Please ensure the Ministers are properly briefed before Legislative sittings. If the Minister is not committed to knowing their portfolio well or reading their Briefing Notes, find another Minister who will spend the time knowing their Department and what they do. It’s embarrassing to see “leaders” struggle to give competent and clear answers during the Leg. If you don’t know anything about your Department and what they do, why are you there? The leadership of Nunavut is not looking very optimistic.

    • Posted by Consistency on

      I dont know if it does happen or not but the Leg should be about getting information to the public and bringing issues to light that we care about. It should not be about trying to embarrass and show the incompetence of some of the ministers (that will come through anyway). Why not let the Minister know the questions you will ask before so they can provide a well thought out answer right off the bat. That would also allow more to get talked about in the leg.
      And we are all here in this together why not provide help and support.

  7. Posted by Symatita Fraser on

    Where are the Deputy Ministers in this? Do the regular MLAs have deputies? Are the docs getting to the regular MLAs in time to question? Get on to the executive secretaries to get your docs prepped and ready to talk about – they see everything coming in and going out. The Constituency office should be the first place they send their complaints to, so they can ask questions of that nature / matter. Get backup docs from the GN Library – it is full of knowledge.

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