Nunavut MLA expelled from legislature in unanimous vote
“The patience of this legislative assembly is now at an end"
Nunavut’s legislative assembly unanimously voted to expel Uqqummiut MLA Samuel Nuqingaq from the legislature Oct. 24, effective immediately, declaring his seat in the house vacant.
The motion to expel Nuqingaq, brought forward by Iqaluit-Sinaa MLA Paul Okalik and seconded by Arviat South MLA Joe Savikataaq, triggers a by-election in the Uqqummiut riding to be held within six months.
Nuqingaq was not present at the legislative assembly Oct. 24 when the decision came down.
“This is not a duty that members of the legislative assembly take lightly,” Okalik told the assembly, “and we take no pleasure in today’s actions. However, the legislative assembly has determined that this is necessary.”
The assembly appointed Nuqingaq — who was suspended by his fellow members earlier this year and has admitted to substance abuse problems — to three committees earlier this week.
But Okalik told the assembly Oct. 24 that Nuqingaq’s behavioural problems have persisted throughout this week.
“The patience of this legislative assembly is now at an end,” Okalik said. “The residents of Uqqummiut are entitled to a member who is present during the sittings of the House.”
Niore Iqalukjuak, who tied Nuqingaq in the November 2013 election with 187 votes and lost by only two votes in the recount, said he hasn’t decided whether he will run for the seat in an upcoming by-election.
“We’ll see how things go. A lot of people will expect me to run again. Some people have already approached me,” Iqalukjuak said. “It’s something I really need to think about and consider. Running is easy. Getting the votes is the hard part.”
Iqalukjuak said he was saddened by the events and felt bad for his long-time friend.
“Some of us kind of expected this to come eventually, but it’s your friend that’s going through this. It touches you in a way that you hope it didn’t have to come to this,” he said.
“I don’t like passing judgement on a friend, but people need good representation and we weren’t really getting that kind of representation from him. From the day they started, it has been one thing after another.
“When it comes to the personal life of a person, it is hard to judge a person for how they handle his or her life. His fate was decided by the MLAs, basically. They must know something more than I, to make a judgement of that kind.”
With files from Lisa Gregoire