N.W.T. Minister of Justice Louis Sebert loses confidence vote after midterm review

Regardless of the outcome of Thursday's mid-term review in the legislative assembly, the N.W.T. will not be seeing an immediate cabinet shuffle, as ministers unanimously stated they would not step down even if they were to lose a confidence vote.

Thebacha MLA Sebert is also minister responsible for lands, transparency, NWT Power Corporation

Minister of Justice Louis Sebert was the only member of cabinet to lose a confidence vote from regular MLAs following a midterm performance review Thursday. (Richard Gleeson/CBC)

​After the Northwest Territories premier and cabinet faced a midterm review Thursday in the Legislative Assembly, Minister of Justice Louis Sebert was the lone minister to lose a confidence vote from regular MLAs.

Sebert, who is also the minister of Lands, the minister responsible for the Northwest Territories Power Corporation, and the minister responsible for Public Engagement and Transparency, was hammered by MLAs for his handling of the A New Day men's healing program, land leases, and power corporation during the day-long review.

Cabinet as a whole, Premier Bob McLeod, and all other individual cabinet ministers received a vote of confidence from MLAs, who voted via secret ballot. 

Sebert was not immediately available for comment, but McLeod said Sebert was "pretty well-composed" following the vote.

"I thought he did a very good job," said McLeod. "He had some very difficult files. He had to move quickly on some very difficult files ... I think, with his background, he took on the responsibilities ... and did a very good job."

Not automatic removal

However, Sebert will not automatically be removed from his cabinet post. The vote was non-binding, meaning that a separate motion will need to be put on the floor of the Legislative Assembly if MLAs wish to remove him from cabinet.

Earlier during the review, ministers unanimously stated they would not voluntarily step down, even if they were to lose the confidence vote.

Any attempt by regular MLAs to force a minister to be removed from cabinet will be conducted by an open vote, meaning each member's vote will be made public. An additional process will then be triggered to select their replacement.

"That's always been the understanding," said McLeod. "As ministers and as premier, we're voted in by the Legislative Assembly. That's been the practice and the convention that if anyone is replaced, that process be followed."

The midterm review — the first in 20 years — marked the halfway point in the 18th Assembly. Cabinet members began the day by giving short statements about the achievements in their respective departments before taking questions from regular MLAs prior to the confidence vote.

With files from Alex Brockman