Nunavut MLAs to choose premier, cabinet next week

Leadership forum will go ahead as judicial recounts continue in Rankin Inlet South and Uqqummiut.

Nunavut's newly elected MLAs will arrive in Iqaluit on Wednesday as they prepare for their orientation.

It'll be the first time this fourth legislative assembly has met as a group since being elected in the territorial election on October 28th.

The MLAs-elect will also be preparing for next week's Leadership Forum where they'll decide who among them will serve as Speaker, Premier and other members of the executive council (cabinet ministers).

The leadership forum will go ahead, even while a judicial recount is taking place following ties in Uqqummiut and Rankin Inlet South. However, members may decide to keep one cabinet position open, pending the outcome of the recounts. Those recounts are expected to take place on Tuesday in Iqaluit.

In 2008, three people put their names forward to run for premier: the incumbent Paul Okalik, Eva Aariak and Tagak Curley. Aariak came out on top. 

This time, several candidates have already come forward. Former Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. president Paul Quassa has said he's interested. Peter Taptuna, a cabinet minister in the last assembly told CBC he'll run, if he gets the support from colleagues. 

Nunavut's first premier, Paul Okalik, won't say whether he wants the job back, but at least one MLA-elect says they got a call from Okalik looking for support. 

Calls are also said to be going out from MLAs looking for cabinet positions. 

"It's all part of the process," says John Quirke, the long-time clerk of the legislative assembly. "Those who accept the nominations (for Premier) will be required to give a speech,"he says. "Then they'll be subject to questions from the membership."

Cabinet ministers will be selected next. In the past, Quirke says, ministerial candidates have given a speech, without taking any questions. 

Some new MLAs are waiting to get to Iqaluit to meet their colleagues in person before they make any decisions about who they will support.

"Yes, I have got phone calls," says Tom Sammurtok, who was elected in Rankin Inlet North-Chesterfield Inlet. "But... I would rather meet people in person to have discussions.

The new MLAs will also have to decide if cabinet should stay the same size, with eight members, including the premier, or decrease in size.

Members could also decide to increase the size of cabinet, to reflect the fact that there are three extra MLAs. 


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