Patterk Netser will let Nunavut MLAs decide his political future

“I was practicing my inherent right to express my views under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms”

Aivilik MLA Patterk Netser says he’ll let Nunavut MLAs decide whether he should be removed from cabinet. (File photo)

By Jim Bell

(Updated 3:25 p.m., Oct. 9)

Aivilik MLA Patterk Netser, who now sits in the Nunavut cabinet as a minister without portfolio, says he’ll let Nunavut MLAs decide whether he should be removed from cabinet after the legislative assembly reconvenes later this month

“I’ll make my case before the house and let them decide my fate. There’s always two sides to every story,” Netser told Nunatsiaq News in an interview.

Premier Joe Savikataaq removed both of Aivilik MLA Patterk Netser’s cabinet portfolios after Netser made a Facebook post linking abortion with the Black Lives Matter movement, suggesting Black women who choose to end their pregnancies are a threat to Black lives.

“The movement on BLM. I wonder how many black ladies go through abortion and at what stage of gestation? Are they not lives too?” Netser’s post said.

Although the Nunavut premier has the power to remove Netser’s portfolios, he does not have the power to remove him from cabinet. Only MLAs are able to do that.

Savikataaq said he will bring up the matter when the full caucus of MLAs meets on Oct. 21. The fall sitting of the legislature is scheduled to resume the day before, on Oct. 20.

“When all Members of the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut reconvene for their Full Caucus meeting on October 21, 2020, I will take this matter forward for consideration around appropriate next steps as a consensus government,” he said.

Netser defended his right to make his comments on Facebook and said he was just “thinking out loud.”

“I’m sorry that they got offended. I was not targeting anyone. I was just simply thinking out loud. That’s my entitlement as a Canadian citizen on the right to freedom of speech,” he said.

“I was practicing my inherent right to express my views under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

In an emailed statement sent to Nunatsiaq News later, on Friday, Oct. 9, signed “Minister Netser,” Netser said that he wants to clarify his Facebook comments, which, he said, were “not aimed to cause confusion or [the] hurt that it caused.”

Instead, Netser’s statement said he was trying to express his pro-life beliefs.

“As a member of a group of people who survived attempted genocide, my comments were an attempt to highlight the extent to which systemic racism exists by highlighting the plight of the black unborn baby who statistically has been targeted in the womb,” he said.

“As someone who is pro-life, I felt I needed to highlight this specific issue that is dear to my heart and asked questions why these lives are less valued than other unborn babies,” his statement went on to say.

“My comments were not aimed at any movement for equality nor targeting black women who I believe are also victims of a system that devalues them, even in the womb.”

Netser had been minister responsible for the Nunavut Housing Corp. and Nunavut Arctic College.

South Baffin MLA David Joanasie will now become acting minister for Nunavut Arctic College, and Savikataaq will become acting minister for the housing corporation.

The editors of Nunatsiaq News have published portions of Mr. Netser’s Oct. 9 email statement to ensure that his full position is reported. We do not endorse his position.

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(50) Comments:

  1. Posted by Bingo on

    Excellent. Freedom of speech card is officially played and we know his weightless and baseless strategy. We are free to say your time has come, to go. Bye bye.

    • Posted by ME on

      Me , i m a great beliver in that expression; If you have nothing nice to say , don t say any thing. freedom of speech is an illusion

  2. Posted by No way on

    Practicing your inherent right to freedom of speech? Is this how you feel when other people say problematic things about Inuit? Come on! Talk about making a bad situation worse. You do not have the right to make other people uncomfortable, more specifically staff who work in your departments who are black and/or who have had an abortion. An apology wrapped in, ‘I did nothing wrong.” is not an apology at all, its a slap in the face.

    I hope the MLAs watching this mess remove him from Cabinet. This is disgraceful.

  3. Posted by Red Bear on

    Freedom of speech =/= Freedom from consequences of that speech

  4. Posted by Bold Strategy, Cotton… on

    “I’m sorry that they got offended.”
    That’s merely ‘I’m sorry you got upset, I’m not sorry for what I said in the first place.’
    Something tells me this ‘apology’ won’t pay off the way he is hoping it will… He is entitled to say what he wants, but that doesn’t mean he is entitled to be a cabinet minister for as long as he wants. His freedom of expression is protection from government censorship and arrest for his expressions, it is not a freedom from consequences which affect his cushy job in the public eye.

    • Posted by Str8 Talk on

      “Talk about on Point”………. well said!

  5. Posted by Old trapper on

    It is time to go for him,

  6. Posted by Tom on

    Keep digging that hole deeper. He does not get it and never well. too bad he can’t be completely removed from GN.

  7. Posted by Observer on

    If the only defence you can think of in response for saying something is “Well, it’s not illegal to say it”, what you said is probably pretty dumb.

  8. Posted by Not his first time….snakes in schools…. on

    MLA’s have one appropriate choice – censure and remove him.

  9. Posted by Old trapper on

    This is what you get when you try and be the top person ? be like me old school never had toxic Facebook before and just still be a old school ?

  10. Posted by Northern Guy on

    Freedom of speech yes … freedom to disparage an entire race of people … not so much. Netser’s completely tone deaf response is the clearest indication yet that he has to go and quickly.

  11. Posted by Whysodemeaning on

    I was really disturbed by the comment about black women and abortion. If your problem is abortion, then express your concern with that, don’t point your finger at black women, as if they were particularly prone to abortion (which, if you are opposed to abortions generally, suggests that you find black women particularly morally reprehensible). If your problem is with disregard toward Indigenous lives, then call that out, don’t point your fingers at women having abortions. The comments reeked of mysogyny and racism, period. If the comments were intended to challenge us intellectually to consider issues that are greater issues in Nunavut or beyond, to challenge current social movements, the comments sadly failed. They were simply bigoted comments. And all they do is promote divisiveness instead of promote understanding, compassion or societal improvements. And they cowardly target people who are either vulnerable (women who are in situations where they choose an abortion) or still face discrimination and prejudice on an ongoing basis (women, black people). But that is what social media and people using these platforms encourage; meanness. And so, stripping a public servant who has a high level of authority like a Minister of his status as a leader in our society and behaves like a mean bully was a sound decision.

    • Posted by Arnaq on

      Well said. Netser dug in as a vainglorious misogynistic racist. He should be censured and removed as an MLA.

  12. Posted by Charter Starter on

    It has been a long time since I have taken a Canadian history class, but I am pretty sure the Charter doesn’t cover free speech, only freedom of expression. I’m even more certain it does not cover speech that attacks the rights of other people protected by the equality section.

    When that speech comes from a member of Cabinet, in the context of attacking the rights of women and racial minorities, whose Charter rights are being attacked exactly?

    Mr. Netser, as a public servant, YOU have an obligation to respect the rights of black women to be free from discrimination based on race and gender. You owe that to your constituents, many of whom are women.

    You can believe whatever you want about abortion when it comes to your body, and I do mean your own body. If you don’t have a uterus, I suggest you leave the discussion to the professionals.

    You have no right to impose your belief on anybody else. The abortion debate in Canada has long been settled. Associating this with BLM and suggesting that black lives don’t matter because black women may have abortions was not only tasteless, it was outright racist.

    Guess what Mr. Netser. Time’s Up.

  13. Posted by Scared on

    Freedom of Speech is one thing, but he is an Elected official and should keep his comments to himself. Shame on him!!! The GN must let him go.

  14. Posted by Expression on

    Well, freedom of expression does include freedom of speech, as far as I know, and it also includes other forms of expression, though the US’s freedom of speech probably goes beyond words anyway. I do not think that terminology is a major issue here. What is illegal as far as I know is hate speech and I do not know that bigoted speech is necessarily hate speech, however demeaning and unbecoming of a leader. It just is blatant evidence, in this case, that racism and mysogynous sentiments are present among leaders of our society, and that messages such as removal of a portfolio from a Minister are needed to set an ethical tone of decency and respect.

  15. Posted by First Eskimo on

    How can a man who cannot even have an abortion himself can criticize women who chooses to have their abortions due to many reasons? and have the guts to say he had a freedom of speech ?
    I dare him to try and get an abortion and see if he has the freedom to suggest and say it he can do it…

  16. Posted by Inuk on

    Come on people, do not let people with these views lead you. How ignorant does one have to be and still be able to lead people. Vote him out!

  17. Posted by Crystal Clarity on

    The more he opens his mouth the worse he gets. Resign. Not fit for public office. We should not be see to tolerate this attitude anymore.

  18. Posted by Scahed on

    Freedom of expression in Canada is protected as a “fundamental freedom” by Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Charter also permits the government to enforce “reasonable” limits. Hate speech, obscenity, and defamation are common categories of restricted speech in Canada.

  19. Posted by Arctic Circle on

    He says, I was practicing my inherent right to express my views of the charter of rights, hmmm?? Makes me wonder if he really was? I didn’t think he thought of it? His comments on social media, truly reflects who he really is.

    Now after all that being said I wonder what his riding thinks? Hope they ask him to resign and step down as an MLA too!

    Like want I’ve said before, this happens when you think you have too much authority and power, you think you can say or do anything you want.

    Good job premier to stop him down. Now, it’ll be interesting to see what his constituents want him to do, do the right thing, ask him to resign.

  20. Posted by Frederick Thompson on

    Maya Angelou:

    “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

    • Posted by Old news on

      This man showed us who he really is at least 15 years ago…he’s since left and come back to the Nunavut Legislatures and become a Minister. Here’s hoping 15 years has made a difference in that building and he gets ousted, but don’t hold your breath.

  21. Posted by Can’t we all just get along? on

    Freedom of speech does not equal freedom from responsibility. You have to own the words you speak, so it’s good to be careful before you publish them for the world to see.
    In the pre-internet/social media world there were editors who would be able to root out poor arguments and stupidities. Now that everyone has a “voice” without a filter or editor, all the worst of the world is allow to spew out with little to no accountability. Under these conditions you can’t pretend to be sorry and you might have to pay with your job for being so careless with your words. I hope Netser pays with his.

  22. Posted by Mean on

    I think it is mean to put his peers under pressure for his personal views, him to have a job in the executive level.
    Just plain mean. Prayers for his constituents and family.

  23. Posted by I live in the Arctic on

    c’mon mla’s do the right thing and remove him from cabinet.

  24. Posted by Northguy on

    Our government ministers are not free to express ones views, to me this is not that disrespectful.This is not Capitalism,this is socialism at it’s best.

  25. Posted by Qavvigarjuk on

    There is so much xenophobia in the world. It is so very sad can’t we just not all love and respect each other? we are all human!

  26. Posted by No more cover ups on

    I wish the GN would have taken a stronger stance on some of their other senior officials whose actions were proven to be racist and sexist. Not just the ones that made it to social media.

  27. Posted by Lifelong Nunavut Resident on

    “Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government: When this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins. Republics and limited monarchies derive their strength and vigor from a popular examination into the action of the magistrates.”

    — Benjamin Franklin, U.S. Founding Father

    • Posted by PaulYAnna on

      Yes to vigorous debate; it is essential to a democracy. And not everyone has the same wisdom or same ability with their words. But here, we are not talking about an everyday citizen using words in a clumsy fashion; I think the reaction would be or should be different for an everyday citizen; well, many of us may be disappointed or disgusted by the person or humanity for these words, but the repercussions should not be the same. Here we are talking about a leader in the Government of our Territory, someone who is expected to serve all Nunavummiut, who is approving policies, funding, who is looked upon by citizens as an example to follow; the repercussions need to be serious. People need to learn that his words are hurtful. He is a politician so he knows or should know what he is doing and should expect more scrutiny than the average citizen. No one is charging him or suing him for his words as far as I know. People are just opposing his words publicly including anonymously. And the leader of our government is showing his wisdom by sacking him from his portfolios. It is a political, not a legal decision. Netser still can think and say all the mysogynous and racist stuff he wants, he just won’t be paid close to $200 000 from the government and make important decisions for our society while he expresses demeaning comments. I really like the comment from First Eskimo; very clear message on why/how his comments are sexist and demeaning. And vigorous debate is what we are doing or can do here; if someone has good arguments in support of Netser’s comments, bring them on so we can understand the perspective, so we can vigorously debate it. Netser has not lost his freedom of expression.

    • Posted by Okay on

      Did you know Benjamin Franklin owned slaves? He was fearful of Democracy. Also he believed black people were an inferior people. He believed black people were less than a person. He wrote a lot of nice things, mostly paraphrasing John Locke.

      • Posted by Purification by fire on

        I am going to bet your ancestors said and thought racist things too, I am certain mine did.
        Will you join me in burning all their pictures, letters, heirlooms and renounce them in the public square? I am sure Nunatsiaq will run a story on this if we post our good deeds on twitter.

  28. Posted by Dumb on

    Lifelong Nunavut Resident – you are quoting an American Man and an American definition of freedom of speech. Do you really know anything about Nunavut. Dumb.

  29. Posted by Tom on

    We need better leaders then this guy, horrible!

  30. Posted by racist? on

    Those claiming Patterk Netser as racist should reach out to his son-in-law who is of African descent.

    • Posted by Seriously on

      Ask yourself this ? If Justin Trudeau (elected official) made comments like this about females in general!…. would his having a black friend exonerate him?

      Having a Black Son in Law means what exactly?

      • Posted by Fact Checker on

        No, I believe because he is the sexiest prime minister in history he will be exonerated. There is nothing that can stand in the way of Trudeau running our country into the ground. Even when the opposition tries to legally attack him again; he will shut down the government and scream “Third wave!!”.
        This country I thought was free; where we are allowed to think and freely express our opinion is not so free. You go to jail for saying the wrong things, or lose your job for expressing opinion.

        • Posted by Real facts on

          We have the Canadian constitution Freedom of expression not the American freedom of speech, get your facts straight!
          If you prefer the American freedom of speech go live in America, this crap that Patterk spewed is not right and he should be held accountable, how ever you may try to make it right will not change what he said.
          Now for the MLAs to do the right thing and remove this American republican way of thinking out of our government.

  31. Posted by OUT on

    Removing him from cabinet will not remove him from being an MLA. Cannot remove a democratically elected person from the roll he was elected into. He will still be an MLA. If he should or shouldn’t

    • Posted by Monica Connolly on

      The Assembly can certainly remove Mr. Netser from Cabinet, but they can apply other discipline as well, and although it is unlikely in Mr. Netser’s case, it seems to be within their power to remove him as MLA. It has happened before, in October 2014, when Uqqummiut MLA Samuel Nuqingaq was expelled for several reasons including absenteeism. See sections 2 and 18 of the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act.

  32. Posted by Jeff on

    Why not do the following: 1. Censure him; 2) Instruct him & all mlas to take cultural sensitivity training; 3) Issue letter of reprimand.
    Publicly scolding the fellow in comments at NNews accomplishes nothing if his overall views on hot topics remains unchanged. This fellow is a product of his upbringing and what he was taught. Don’t keep kicking him when he is already down. ?

  33. Posted by Nunavutmiuta on

    The way I see it, he is a religious fanatic and took an opportunity to use black life matter to preach about abortion.

    • Posted by Eski Moses on

      Thoughts and prayers that he is removed.

      Thoughts and prayers that any form of religious practice, including pre-meetings prayers be ended.

  34. Posted by Arctic Circle on

    He says I will let Nunavut MLAs decide if they want me on cabinet or not, why can’t you ask your constituents if they want you as an MLA still? I’m sure your constituents want you to resign as MLA for racist comments. Do the right thing, resign.

  35. Posted by A government named Patterk on

    He represents us whether you like it or not, this is Government who also probably says Eskimo is a good word

  36. Posted by Inuk on

    Pattern doesn’t seem to understand the BLM mission statement, I suggest you look it up, & there’s statistics you can look up too, it’s a modern world, but you’re outdated in your views, plus the community’s you represent aren’t doing so well, elders forcefully moved from their homes to another old house, no income support workers for many months, putting privacy at risk, many children going hungry, not much better adult education

  37. Posted by Hope on

    Kudos to Pat for having the courage to voice a truth many are too intimidated to publicly say. A fetus will never be able to speak for him/herself.

    Who will defend the defenceless?

    This is the difficult task that we should expect our leaders to do.

    Pat spoke in public, while we comfortably speak in anonymity.

    It is regrettable that he choose the wrong forum to speak up on behalf of the voiceless. The aborted fetuses of ALL and not just black women is a tragedy that we should be angry about because it reminds us all what a troubled society we live in.

    Doubtless, no one wants to go through an abortion. Abortions should be the exception and not the norm.

    Too many women of all cultures have experienced the burden of the guilt and trauma alone.

    Let’s work together to change this so our daughters don’t have to go through this too.

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