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
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
Those who voted to the censure the premier included members of his
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
"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
"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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