Vote by MLAs adds 2 new members to cabinet

Joelie Kaernerk, Daniel Qavvik elected; premier expected to announce portfolios Monday

MLA Daniel Qavvik is congratulated by colleagues after being elected as one of two new cabinet ministers in a vote in the legislative assembly Saturday. (Photo by Jeff Pelletier)

By Jeff Pelletier - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

In a rare Saturday meeting, Nunavut legislative assembly members elected Amittuq MLA Joelie Kaernerk and Hudson Bay MLA Daniel Qavvik as the territory’s new cabinet ministers.

The pair will fill vacancies created when Craig Simailak resigned from cabinet in March and Joanna Quassa stepped down this past week.

In Nunavut’s consensus government, MLAs choose during a leadership conference who will serve in cabinet, and then the premier assigns the portfolios.

Kaernerk and Qavvik, along with Kugluktuk MLA Bobby Anavilok, were nominated and each gave their pitches about why they wanted to join the executive council.

Iqaluit-Tasiluk MLA George Hickes chaired Saturday’s proceedings, allowing each of the three candidates to make a five-minute speech.

Uqqummiut MLA Mary Killiktee was also nominated, but declined to enter the race.

Over the course of the hour-long session, MLAs asked the three potential ministers questions about a number of topics, including health policy, moving to Iqaluit for work, lessons from elders and conflict resolution.

After that, members submitted their ballots.

Cambridge Bay MLA Pamela Hakongak Gross, who is on ministerial leave following the recent birth of her child, was present and submitted a proxy vote on behalf of the absent assembly speaker Gjoa Haven MLA Tony Akoak.

The vote totals were not read aloud, and the ballots were sent to be destroyed at the end of the meeting.

Both newly elected ministers thanked their families and communities for their support as they accepted their appointments.

Premier P.J. Akeeagok told reporters after the proceedings that he will meet with the newly elected ministers and figure out by Monday which portfolios they will be assigned.

“I’m really excited to welcome the two new members,” Akeeagok said.

“I just want to thank them as well as their families for allowing them to serve in this very honorable opportunity that we’re in.”

While the portfolios are not yet assigned, Kaernerk said he is eyeing the justice and heritage positions.

“I worked at the justice department and started out as a public trustee first and that’s where my experience [comes] into play,” he said.

Qavvik said he’s interested in being minister of the environment, as well as minister responsible for Nunavut Arctic College, which was his alma mater.

Both new ministers highlighted the importance of having their small home communities represented in cabinet: Kaernerk is originally from Sanirajak and Qavvik is from Sanikiluaq.

“I believe that smaller communities in Nunavut need to be represented within the executive council,” Qavvik said.

“It’s our responsibility to work together to achieve wants and needs.”

The legislative assembly will readjourn for its fall sitting starting Oct. 19.


Amittuq MLA Joelie Kaernerk addreses colleagues during Saturday’s leadership conference at the legislative assembly. (Photo by Jeff Pelletier)

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(14) Comments:

  1. Posted by Drew Hiller on

    Whom Nominated Bobby? His a mute, just like Kugluktuk’s previous MLA.
    Thank god ah!

  2. Posted by Only In Nunavut on

    Just one year ago these same MLAs suspended Joelie Kaernerk for being DRUNK IN THE ASSEMBLY. Now they reward him by voting him into Cabinet where he will be responsible for departments with hundreds of employees and budgets worth tens of millions of dollars. With this vote Janet, Adam, George, Joe, and the rest have shown that at best they just don’t really care and at worst they are activity wanting the GN to fail. Very sad state our Territory is in.

    • Posted by Back to the NWT on

      Consensus government doesn’t work
      There are no consequences for being a bad MLA/minister
      Nunavut is a failed state

    • Posted by Inuk from Nunavik on

      I remember , the Makivik executives , with their First Air bonus , a while got voted out , now there all back in . short memories.

    • Posted by observer 1 on

      Maybe those MLAs just want the current Premier and his government to fail. Then they hope to step in and replace the lot of them.

  3. Posted by Hold up on

    Did he recover from his self admitted alcohol addiction that he stated he had just one year ago?

    I mean I’m all for a positive story, recovery and career progression, if anything lots can learn from that but I don’t see any news or statements on that which given the time frame you’d think would have been something that was or should be brought up.

    Some would say we shouldn’t have insight into the private life of someone but in this case they dedicated themselves to being a fairly high profile public servant paid by the public to oversee a territory. Seems relevant or maybe its not here.

  4. Posted by art thompson on

    It has to be an exceedingly heavy workload having 400 constituents, having to try and scrabble around looking for loose federal dollars and also make the time to hit the storehouse. Ah such is the life of a democratically elected nunavut MLA.

  5. Posted by Truestory on

    We were better off when we were
    in N.W.T.. Do you M.L.A.s realize that you’re a laughing stock in the political arena?

    • Posted by Poor JOB aka Pajamas on

      Yup, it worked! Taking the Hudson Bay MLA to the movies and boating before and after leadership. Let’s hope with hard work, it will pay off!

  6. Posted by eskimo joe on

    Lot of critics out there, election coming soon, put your hats to the ballot box see how you’ll fair, yeah I though so….bozos know it all and probably from fifth person rumor mill. yeah lot of critics from washed-up GN offices, and Truestory; Yellowknife is just couple of hours plane ride, by all means GO……YK is in NWT.

    • Posted by Truestory on

      I can nominate you eskimo Joe. Maybe you know all about politics. Will you accept my nomination?

  7. Posted by mistake on

    The premier made a mistake by keeping the stronger MLA’s out. Because he got his way and fooled the new members Nunavmiut will now suffer. What a sad state we are in now. Quasa would do much more than this current one we are stuck with. When are the next QIA elections for president?

  8. Posted by roger atkins on

    somebody has to take some drastic action to reverse the course of the GN. I doubt these 2 guys are up to the task.


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