Nunavut hamlet council to request MLA’s removal from office
Clyde River mayor says Uqqummiut MLA Samuel Nuqingaq not representing them
(Updated 2:45 p.m., May 16)
Clyde River mayor Jerry Natanine wants his MLA, Samuel Nuqingaq, thrown out of office.
Natanine told Nunatsiaq News that the Clyde River hamlet council talked about the Uqqummiut MLA’s recent criminal charges at a meeting May 15.
“Enough is enough. We don’t have an MLA, we’re not represented, and council is just tired. We’re in limbo, our concerns are not being raised,” Natanine said.
Nuqingaq, 42, faces an assault charge and a charge of being unlawfully in a dwelling-house. The charges arise from an incident alleged to have occurred Feb. 24 in Qikiqtarjuaq — where Nuqingaq resides — but charges against Nuqingaq were not sworn until April 25.
Natanine said he wants a by-election, and a new MLA.
The mayor said he’s “not really” surprised at the charges. When asked if he believes Nuqingaq has a drinking problem, Natanine said, “Yes, I believe he does.”
Natanine said he heard rumours of the assault charges before they were made public.
But even before rumours emerged, the hamlet council passed a motion of non-confidence in their MLA.
“We did the non-confidence after he missed the two days of orientation. We heard [the assault charge] rumours and we didn’t do anything about it, because they were just rumours,” Natanine said.
The mayor said the Clyde River council plans to hold a special meeting next week, before the start of the upcoming sitting of the legislative assembly.
“We’re going to come up with a letter to the legislative [assembly] and make a decision on how we’re going to proceed with it,” Natanine said.
Under the Executive Council and Legislative Assembly Act of Nunavut, the only time an MLA must resign is if he or she is convicted of a criminal offence by indictment.
If an MLA is convicted of an offence in a summary process, it’s up to MLAs to decide whether to declare his or her seat vacant.
Nunavut MLAs suspended Nuqingaq from the winter sitting of the assembly last March, but they did not state why they took that action.
MLAs also said they would review Nuqingaq’s suspension prior to the assembly’s spring session, which starts May 22.
Natanine said the MLA for Tununiq, Joe Enook, has offered to represent the community for the time being.
“Joe Enook told me that if we have concerns that we want to put forward to the legislature, he was open to do that,” Natanine said.
“In our special meeting next week, we’re going to talk about how we’re going to utilize that. Because we have to get someone to push for our community,” Natanine said.
Enook told Nunatsiaq News that he would be happy to raise issues in the legislative assembly on behalf of Clyde River and Qikiqtarjuaq.
“People have the need to know that they are represented in the legislative assembly,” Enook said.
Enook said he doesn’t yet know what he and his colleagues might decide in relation to the Nuqingaq issue when they gather in Iqaluit next.
But he said it’s likely that MLAs will discuss Nuqingaq in caucus, prior to the start of the spring session on May 22.
Natanine said Clyde River wants issues brought up in the legislative assembly, such as a potential new heavy equipment training centre and a local fishery.
But those issues aren’t being heard, he said.
“We’re just very disappointed about it.”
“We were looking forward to him serving us, being a younger fellow, a little more educated, and we were hoping there would be good action from him regarding our concerns,” he said.
Nunatsiaq News tried to reach Samuel Nuqingaq for comment, but his constituency office said he is not currently in the territory.
A short biography on the legislative assembly’s website says Nuqingaq has held positions such as chairperson of the Qikiqtarjuaq Hunters and Trappers Organization and served as a community constable for Qikiqtarjuaq.