Nunavut legislature imposes lengthy suspension on Uqqummiut MLA
Samuel Nuqingaq booted for entire winter sitting; may face more sanctions
Nunavut MLAs voted March 6 to suspend Uqqummiut MLA Samuel Nuqingaq for the Nunavut legislature’s entire winter sitting, which runs March 6 to March 22.
After Arviat South MLA Joe Savikataaq moved to suspend him near the end of the assembly’s March 6 sitting, 16 members voted in favour.
Only two members, Iqaluit-Sinaa MLA Paul Okalik and Iqaluit-Tasiluk MLA George Hickes, voted against the motion. Aivilik MLA Steve Mapsalak abstained.
Hickes said he could not talk about why he opposed the motion, and it’s not clear why MLAs chose to suspend Nuqingaq, whom they had disciplined and reprimanded once before last fall.
Hickes did say MLAs held a full caucus meeting on the evening of March 5 to discuss concerns about Nuqingaq’s conduct.
“I think it’s obvious from previous disciplinary actions that there’s concerns with some of his behavior. The majority voted to suspend,” Hickes said.
The assembly’s management and services board had disciplined Nuqingaq on previous occasions for “unacceptable conduct,” Savikataaq read in his motion.
Nuqingaq had his wages cut for not showing up for part of an orientation session for newly-elected MLAs held this past November.
And Nuqingaq also showed up late for the Nunavut leadership forum Nov. 15, saying he slept in.
“The dignity and reputation of the institution are best served if the member of Uqqummiut does not take part,” Savikataaq said.
Nuqingaq is suspended immediately from the winter sitting of the house, as well as from all caucus and committee meetings until “the house reviews the status of this matter.”
That review will occur prior to the assembly’s spring sitting.
The assembly has left itself several options: vote to extend the suspension, end the suspension, or “take other actions,” Savikataaq said.
Nuqingaq did not attend the March 6 sitting.
The motion also said the assembly will make deductions from Nuqingaq’s pay that are deemed appropriate.
And the motion authorizes the assembly to impose restrictions on Nuqingaq’s use of his constituency budget “as deemed appropriate.”
The motion did not say how much money will be docked from Nuqingaq’s pay and constituency budgets.
Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna would not give details on why Nuqingaq was suspended.
But he said the suspension has an impact on the assembly, and the communities of Qikiqtarjuaq and Clyde River, which Nuqingaq represents.
“It does have an impact on the communities that he represents. It’s very difficult for the community and himself,” Taptuna said.
And the same goes with his colleagues at the assembly, he said.
“It reflects on the assembly and it’s one of those things that’s very difficult to deal with,” Taptuna said.