Nothing personal about Yakeleya's removal from cabinet: N.W.T. MLAs

Northwest Territories MLAs who voted unanimously to kick Sahtu MLA Norman Yakeleya out of cabinet said they did so to bring cabinet back to full strength, not in response to his recent sexual assault charge.

Northwest Territories MLAs who voted unanimously to kick Sahtu MLA Norman Yakeleya out of cabinet said they did so to bring cabinet back to full strength, not in response to his recent sexual assault charge.

Yakeleya was not at the legislative assembly Wednesday afternoon when MLAs voted 16-0, with no abstentions, in favour of a motion to remove him from the executive council.

Premier Floyd Roland had stripped Yakeleya of his ministerial portfolios, which included municipal and community affairs, shortly before he was charged on July 29.

Cabinet has been operating with one less person since then, with other cabinet ministers picking up Yakeleya's portfolios on top of their existing responsibilities.

"It's putting an extra burden on the five remaining cabinet ministers, and I feel it's important that we have an executive council that is fully operational," Frame Lake MLA Wendy Bisaro said outside the assembly Wednesday.

"To me, it was strictly work-related. We're talking about the operation of the government of the Northwest Territories, and that's the only way I voted the way I did," said Inuvik Twin Lakes MLA Robert McLeod.

"We're not in a position to judge his innocence or his guilt. That's what the courts are for," said Great Slave MLA Glen Abernethy.

Yakeleya, who pleaded not guilty to the sexual assault charge last week, remains as the MLA for Sahtu. A preliminary inquiry has been scheduled in December.

Speaker Paul Delorey said MLAs will decide on Monday who will fill the vacant seat in cabinet.