Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut January 08, 2014 - 4:30 pm

I look forward to working with new Nunavut utility board, Okalik says

Minister says he'll appoint six new interim directors

SARAH ROGERS
Paul Okalik (top row, second from left) poses here with the Government of Nunavut's new cabinet last November. Okalik, the new minister responsible for the Quillq Energy Corporation, had to answer questions about the government's role overseeing the power utility, after six of its board members resigned Jan. 6. (FILE PHOTO)
Paul Okalik (top row, second from left) poses here with the Government of Nunavut's new cabinet last November. Okalik, the new minister responsible for the Quillq Energy Corporation, had to answer questions about the government's role overseeing the power utility, after six of its board members resigned Jan. 6. (FILE PHOTO)

Paul Okalik, Nunavut’s minister responsible for the Qulliq Energy Corp., said Jan. 8 that he’s looking forward to appointing and working with a new board to “ensure the corporation is working for the people of Nunavut.”

Okalik was responding to the recent resignation of five of the corporation’s board members and the resignation of Simon Merkosak, chair of the board.

In a Jan. 6 letter addressed to Okalik and Nunavut premier Peter Taptuna, Merkosak said the new government has made important decisions without consulting the board.

Okalik sidestepped questions about the government’s relationship with the corporation, instead saying he plans to get to work to find “the best people we can find” to fill those empty seats and “make sure the corporation is operating smoothly.”

One of the board’s major complaints is the firing of QEC president Peter Mackey last November, an issue Merkosak said was never discussed with directors.

The corporation’s board also took issue with the GN’s decision to delete items from the QEC’s 2014-15 budget that would have paid for work on its proposed Iqaluit hydroelectric project.

“I’m the one to blame,” Okalik told Nunatsiaq News.

“I had to act quickly and the project is quite controversial, so I can’t just rubberstamp the proposal,” he said. “We’re not saying no (to the hydroelectric project) but we need to take time to work with the community on this.”

The government cannot move on the project alone, he added, noting that the Nunavut cabinet members will work this year to find partners to collaborate with.

Now, the only director left at QEC is George Hickes Sr., the father of new Iqaluit-Tasiluk MLA with the same name. Okalik said Hickes “supports the actions of the government.”

Okalik couldn’t say when new board members would be appointed, but that the government would likely appoint the minimum number of six new members on an interim basis and put out a public call to fill the remaining four positions.

Okalik said he also looks forward to the results of an internal audit on the QEC, initiated by the GN last year, adding he is open to any recommendations it may offer.

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