Nunavummiut deserve to know why Paul Quassa was removed as premier

Brian Aglukark writes that it’s a ‘slap in the face’ that MLAs have not explained why Paul Quassa was removed as premier of Nunavut in June.

Brian Aglukark writes that it’s a ‘slap in the face’ that MLAs won’t say why Quassa was ousted

Paul Quassa was ousted as premier of Nunavut in June following a non-confidence vote. MLAs have offered little in the way of reasoning as to why they made the decision to remove him from the territory's leadership. (CBC)

The members of Nunavut's Legislative Assembly and Nunavummiut need to understand that as premier, Paul Quassa was not only the Executive Council's leader and he was not only the government's leader. He was Nunavut's leader. He was my leader. He was your leader.

We deserve to know why the removal of Quassa as our leader was necessary.

Echoing what I have heard from many of my fellow constituents and around Nunavut, I feel that, despite what some MLAs say, Nunavummiut were not consulted in any way by their MLAs prior to the vote to oust Quassa as premier.

To date, no individual has been fully informed as to why their MLA voted for or against the motion. There was absolutely no representation of constituent views in the decision to remove Quassa as premier and no quantified or qualified explanation of why it was carried out.

Statements recently made by the current premier, the Honourable Joe Savikataaq, suggest that the June 14, 2018 motion of non-confidence was designed purely by MLAs who sit on the regular member's caucus.

Under cabinet solidarity, ministers are prohibited from sharing details about how decisions are made within Executive Council meetings. It is important to remember that regular MLAs are not bound to such rules.

But, regular members are expected to be, at the very least, transparent with their constituents about how they reach a particular decision.

Joe Savikataaq on June 14, shortly after being named Nunavut's new premier. (Sara Frizzell/CBC)

Integrity and honesty

I believe that a regular member, one with integrity, honesty and desire to fulfill their role to the highest standard, would be more than transparent. Such a member would not only inform constituents why they made a particular decision – they would also prioritize making every effort to consult their constituents prior to making that decision.

I believe that a democracy only works when the representatives represent. One cannot represent their constituent wholly if one is withholding information. In order to represent to the full extent, you must consult appropriately; and in order to consult appropriately, you must inform your constituents to the greatest extent possible.

I openly ask Nunavummiut: do you, the constituents, feel we were informed appropriately?

 The standard for transparency has been set dangerously low for MLAs and ministers alike.

MLA John Main stated that it was Quassa's "leadership style" and alleged "misleading statements" in the legislature that influenced the regular members' decision to introduce the motion.

I feel that explanations provided by the MLAs to date have not only been disappointing, but a slap in the face of all Nunavummiut.

During sessions in the Legislative Assembly, we watch members challenge ministers: "Be specific! Be transparent!"

After the regular members' blatant failure to live up to their own standards, why should any minister now feel obligated to do so? I feel that the standard for transparency has been set dangerously low for MLAs and ministers alike.

We do not even have an opinion on whether or not it was necessary to remove Quassa from his role. As a constituent, we have not received sufficient information on what Quassa did or did not do to necessitate his removal.

Maybe it is best for Nunavut that Quassa is removed. Maybe it is not. The constituents currently have no way of judging for themselves.

This column is part of CBC's Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor's blog and our FAQ.

About the Author

Brian Aglukark is from Arviat, Nunavut. He has worked with the Nunavut Planning Commission for over 20 years. He’s travelled extensively throughout the territory and is keenly interested in local issues that directly affect the lives of residents.


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