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Will Nunavut's premier survive? 
Politics Watch News Services
October 5, 2007, updated 11:45 a.m.

Nunavut Premier Paul Okalik.

OTTAWA  (PoliticsWatch.com) —  A cloud of uncertainty remains around Nunavut Premier Paul Okalik after he was censured by the territorial legislative assembly last month.   

Okalik's censure stems from an incident in June at a conference where he was overheard calling a high-ranking Nunavut bureaucrat a "bitch." 

Despite Okalik's apology, his political opponents were able to convene a special meeting of the legislature on September 17 specifically to censure the premier. 

The lengthy censure motion called Okalik's behaviour "unprofessional and unacceptable" and urged the premier to apologize and seek guidance and counselling to assist him. 

There are no political parties in Nunavut and because the premier is elected by MLAs the assembly's 15-0 unanimous vote to censure Okalik in September raises questions about his ability to govern in the near future. 

Those who voted to the censure the premier included members of his own cabinet.  

At least one senior member of the assembly, MLA Tagak Curley, is pushing for Okalik to step down. 

"I believe the public trust and confidence needed to lead this government by our current premier has eroded deeply throughout Nunavut as a result of his actions," Curley said at the September censure proceedings. 

"He can restore public trust and bring back moral authority needed in this government by voluntarily resigning as leader of this government. If not, why not?"

However, other MLAs viewed the censure motion as a way for the territory to move on from the Okalik controversy. 

"I am hopeful that resolving and concluding this incident today will allow us to renew our energies and refocus our attention," said MLA Hunter Tootoo

While 15 MLAs voted to censure the premier, the premier abstained. However, he was supportive of the motion receiving unanimous approval. 

"I will not attempt to use any words in my defense, because, Mr. Speaker, I believe my words that are in question are indefensible," Okalik said. 

"I apologize unreservedly, and recognize that my behaviour and lapse in judgment was hurtful to others and reflected poorly on me."

The legislative assembly reconvenes on October 23. It remains to be seen if the censuring of the premier will put the controversy behind him or if pressure for his resignation will continue. 

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