Budget, Nuqingaq decision to dominate upcoming Nunavut legislature sitting
MLAs expect to discuss status of Uqqummiut MLA prior to May 22 start
Nunavut’s legislative assembly will deal with at least two issues this upcoming spring sitting — the suspension of Uqqummiut MLA Samuel Nuqingaq, and the territory’s budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year.
The fourth assembly meets for its second session starting May 22 in Iqaluit, when MLAs will deal with the Nuqingaq matter, said John Quirke, the clerk of the assembly.
Nuqingaq, 42, faces two criminal charges, including one charge of assault, stemming from a Feb. 24 incident alleged to have occurred in his home community of Qikiqtarjuaq.
MLAs suspended Nuqingaq from sittings and standing committees for the entire winter session starting March 6 — about 10 days after the assault is alleged to have occurred.
Almost two months later, on April 25, the charges were officially laid against Nuqingaq.
Quirke said MLAs will soon decide whether to extend the suspension.
“Members are arriving this week. And by the end of the week, some form of decision will be made,” Quirke said.
Quirke, however, said he doesn’t expect to see Nuqingaq inside the legislative assembly during this sitting.
“No, because he’s doing some personal matters,” Quirke said, matters he described as “confidential.”
Joe Enook, MLA for Tununiq, told Nunatsiaq News last week that members will likely discuss Nuqingaq in caucus prior to the start of the sitting.
Enook also said he would be happy to raise issues on behalf of Uqqummiut — consisting of Clyde River and Qikiqtarjuaq — during the session if Nuqingaq is absent.
This is not the first time an MLA has been called upon to represent communities outside his or her constituency, Quirke said.
Quirke said Iqaluit-Tasiluk MLA Paul Okalik raised questions in the house on behalf of former Tununiq MLA James Arvaluk during the third assembly when Arvaluk was on leave for health reasons.
But Quirke said any member is entitled to raise questions on behalf of another constituency if they so choose.
“So it’s up to that member or any other member who wants to raise a concern just to raise their hand during question period,” Quirke said.
Most of the upcoming legislative session, however, will deal with the territory’s new budget, Quirke said.
The budget, which covers operations and maintenance for the 2014-15 fiscal year, will be delivered on the afternoon of May 26.
Members of the media can preview the new budget in a budget lockup at noon May 26. Afterwards, Finance Minister Keith Peterson will deliver his budget address in the house.
Quirke said this spring sitting will last longer than usual because of the recent territorial election of Oct. 28, 2013.
The spring sitting is scheduled to end June 12.