Health Minister Julie Green and Great Slave MLA Katrina Nokleby engaged in a tense exchange of accusations in the legislative assembly Tuesday.
They were discussing mental health supports for NWT residents when the conversation went off the rails. The dispute started when Nokleby asked Green if she’s prepared to address “the growing medical crisis of our people struggling with mental health and addictions.”
“When the minister asks me to prove where we’re in a crisis, I would state back that even one person falling through the cracks is a crisis,” Nokleby said.
Green responded that Nokleby has been “soliciting horror stories on Facebook and apparently has been very gratified with that.” She then cited research from the Canadian Institute for Health Information, which she said verifies that it’s incorrect to characterize the situation as a crisis.
Nokleby calls it a ‘disgusting’ description
At that point, the Great Slave MLA appeared visibly agitated. She said it’s “disgusting that the minister would characterize my wanting to advocate for my constituents and residents of this territory as ‘collecting horror stories that I find gratifying.’
“I find it disgusting that the minister doesn’t accept that she’s in the middle of a crisis, that the pandemic is accelerating that crisis. If she’s going to continue to deny the problem, we aren’t to going to see any solutions and things will only get worse. I’m just going to leave it at that.”
Green said she wanted to challenge Nokleby on a point of order, a measure adopted in the assembly when a member believes the rules of the house have been incorrectly applied.
“The member was impugning motives to me. It’s not valid,” Green said.
House Speaker Freddie Blake Jr. told the assembly the matter would be dealt with on Wednesday.
However, several minutes later the issue arose again, with Nokleby alleging that Green contravened rule 24(h) and (i) of the NWT legislative assembly “by making allegations against me and impugning false motives to me by saying I was gratified by collecting mental health horror stories of constituents.”
Blake moved to allow debate, but both Green and Nokleby said they wanted to check the Hansard record of the exchange and defer the matter.
The Speaker agreed to return to the issue on Wednesday.