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Paul Quassa removed from Nunavut premiership

Nunavut MLAs voted Thursday to remove Paul Quassa from the premiership, with ministers backing the regular MLA caucus motion in a 16-3 vote.

Veteran politician Paul Quassa is no longer Nunavut's premier after a June 14 vote.
photo courtesy Michel Albert

Chair of the regular members' caucus Arviat North - Whale Cove MLA John Main said there were two reasons – management and leadership. Main said the move was not made on personal grounds, but on professional grounds.

"There’s not been a lot of team effort," Main said. "There’s been a tendency toward autocratic leadership. The second thing is integrity."

"Statements were made during the leadership forum that created expectations and those expectations have not been met," said Iqaluit-Tasiluk MLA George Hickes. "It’s about leadership. We agreed not to hold a midterm leadership review - leadership is reviewed every day."

Quassa is a long-time Nunavut MLA and minister, and the negotiator of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. This is the first time a Nunavut premier has been removed from office.

MLAs raised concerns about various issues, including overspending at the Northern Lights trade show. Rankin Inlet North-Chesterfield Inlet MLA Cathy Towtongie pointed at Northern Lights limousine use as a sore point.

"On Northern lights, perhaps we spent too much and I apologize for that," Quassa said.

He made a last-minute pitch to remain in the role, jabbing at the way this motion was brought forward with few details in the public.

"Nunavummiut have elected us to serve for for years," he said. "Consensus is not working behind closed doors. It’s working in consensus."

Main said the reasons were available in black and white in the hansard – the parliamentary record of proceedings – for all to read. The assembly will choose a new premier immediately.

More details to follow.