Nunavut Premier Eva Aariak has removed all ministerial portfolios from South Baffin MLA Fred Schell.

Aariak says Nunavut government officials told her that Schell has acted in conflict of interest and abused his authority as a cabinet minister.


Nunavut Premier Eva Aariak has removed all portfolios from Minister Fred Schell, saying he is in conflict of interest and has abused his authority as a minister. (CBC)

Aariak did not give any specific reasons for removing Schell's portfolios, which have now been reassigned to other cabinet ministers.

"To hold ministerial portfolios in the executive council is a position of utmost trust and privilege, and it is my responsibility to ensure that the executive council is held to the highest standard," she said in a release Sunday.

Aariak said she found out about Schell's alleged misdeeds late last week.

"I was disappointed and it was very disheartening to learn," she told CBC News.

Aariak would not give any information about what exactly Schell is accused of doing, but she said it is not related to the ethics investigation involving Schell that ended last November.

In that case, Nunavut's integrity commissioner found Schell guilty of influence peddling for using his position as an MLA for his Cape Dorset contracting business. He was fined $1,000.

Justice Department investigation

Aariak said the decision to strip Schell of his portfolios comes from a separate investigation by the territorial Justice Department.

She would not say when she would give more details about the findings from that investigation. Aariak said she has also requested a report from the integrity commissioner.

Nunavut has a consensus style of government, so the premier does not have the authority to remove Schell from office. Cabinet ministers are chosen, and can only be removed, by a vote among all members of the legislative assembly.

Schell, who represents the communities of Cape Dorset and Kimmirut, was human resources minister, the minister responsible for the Nunavut Housing Corp. and the Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission, and the minister responsible for homelessness.

Peter Taptuna will take on the Nunavut Housing Corp. and homelessness portfolios.

Lorne Kusugak will hold the Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission file, while Daniel Shewchuk will take over the human resources portfolio.

CBC News has not yet been able to reach Schell for comment.