Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut July 17, 2014 - 9:15 am

Nunavut MLA Samuel Nuqingaq back at work following suspensions

Member for Uqqummiut promises to take his place in legislative assembly

PETER VARGA
Uqqummiut MLA Samuel Nuqingaq signing his oath office at a ceremony inside the Nunavut legislative building in Iqaluit this past Nov. 19. Since then, two successive suspensions, imposed by fellow members, have kept him from sitting in the assembly and participating in its committees. (FILE PHOTO)
Uqqummiut MLA Samuel Nuqingaq signing his oath office at a ceremony inside the Nunavut legislative building in Iqaluit this past Nov. 19. Since then, two successive suspensions, imposed by fellow members, have kept him from sitting in the assembly and participating in its committees. (FILE PHOTO)

Samuel Nuqingaq came back to work as the elected member for Uqqummiut July 16, the day his second suspension from the legislature expired.

“It’s good to be back, working again,” Nuqingaq said July 16 from his constituency office in Qikiqtarjuaq.

Nunavut MLAs voted May 22 to suspend Nuqingaq from the legislative assembly and its committees for two months.

Members passed the motion, tabled by Arviat South MLA Joe Savikataaq, after Nuqingaq had a 60-day counselling program to deal with “personal issues that have contributed to the member’s unacceptable conduct.”

Nuqingaq told Nunatsiaq News that he would not comment on the counselling program, stating simply that he will provide information on this when the legislative assembly starts its regular sitting in Oct. 21.

“Everybody will know where I was,” he said.

The MLA confirmed that he attended a counselling program outside of the territory “in the South,” and returned to Nunavut July 9, a week to the day before his suspension ended.

But until he takes his seat at regular sessions in the assembly, “I don’t want to comment on that,” Nuqingaq said. “It was just for counselling, that’s all I can say.”

“My priority now is just to go back to work,” he said.

Nuqingaq hasn’t attended any regular sittings of the territory’s legislative assembly since he won his seat in last year’s territorial election.

Signs of trouble showed from the start, when he failed to show up for orientation sessions for newly-elected MLAs in November.

Nuqingaq also showed up late for the territorial government’s leadership forum that month. The assembly’s management and services board cut his wages for the absences.

Troubles continued in March, when MLAs suspended him from the legislative assembly’s winter sitting for unspecified reasons.

Court records showed that Nuqingaq faced criminal charges for assault and being unlawfully in a dwelling place, stemming from a Feb. 24 incident in Qikiqtarjuaq.

After the May 22 motion to suspend the troubled MLA, Premier Peter Taptuna told reporters that he believed Nuqingaq had entered a counselling program to deal with substance abuse.

One week after his return to Nunavut from counselling in the south, the MLA admitted he has plenty of catching-up to do.

“The entire time I was out, I didn’t keep track of anything. I wasn’t involved in anything at all,” he said. “Sixty days is a long time for being away, and not knowing what’s going on — because I wasn’t really concentrating on that.”

Nuqingaq said his focus has returned to his work as representative for the people of Qikiqtarjuaq and Clyde River.

“I have to find out what’s going on. At the moment, the majority of my colleagues are out on holiday,” he said.

“When I spoke to our clerk, he just told me to take the summer off, but I’ve been coming here (to the constituency office in Qikiqtarjuaq) whenever I can.”

With the help of constituency assistants in each community, Nuqingaq said he is getting up to speed on what he missed from the legislative assembly’s winter and spring sessions.

“It still have a lot to look up on the ledge [legislative assembly] website,” he said.

“Ever since I’ve been back, I’ve been communicating with hamlet officials in Clyde and hamlet officials here,” in Qikiqtarjuaq, he said.

The MLA said he expects to get more accomplished at the start of August, with a visit to Clyde River, where half of his constituency reside.

“I’m just going to find out more about both communities,” Nuqingaq said.

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(19) Comments:

#1. Posted by Bob on July 17, 2014

What an embarrassing joke. In order to be “back” to work you need to be there longer than you were away. The young and old alike at the Legislative continue to embarrass themselves and Nunavut. I once thought that the next generation will make us proud but no! They just follow in the same crooked footsteps of previous leaders. Way to go!

#2. Posted by Jennifer on July 17, 2014

I respect anyone who acknowledges they have a problem, and then seeks help to overcome that problem; however, there seems to be a different issue here.  Why do so many politicians in the North seem to think that as long as they ‘sincerely apologize’ for their actions, all will be forgiven?  How many times does someone say they are sorry, before being sorry is no longer good enough?  These are adults here, not little kids, who understand full well what they are doing as well as what the consequences of their actions are.  From the very first day of work, this person did not do his job, so why does he still have this position?  In addition, really consider what kind of message this sends to youth, really think about that, in light that youth in the north face.  It is time for the adults of Nunavut to insist on accountability from their elected officials instead of continuing to accept apologies, like the person is a kid.

#3. Posted by Why not David? on July 17, 2014

Why can we comment on Samuel, but not David J. on his DUI?

#4. Posted by Citizen on July 17, 2014

It’s sad to say, but this whole thing is pretty normal for Nunavut. There’s a lot of guys out there who are just like Mr. Nuqingaq, especially in the small hamlets. Grown men acting like children, they’re all over the place in Nunavut.

Just look at our MLAs, election was only 8 months ago and 2 MLAs are up on charges already. Unfortunately this is business as usual for Nunavut.

#5. Posted by @#4 on July 17, 2014

“...usual”, why comment?

#6. Posted by Respecting Him on July 17, 2014

Well he is much more responsible and accepting his past and responsibilities then Toronto’s Rob Ford.

He is more responsible then Harpers Cons who are going hard pushing on the prostitution bill, until the prostitutes said yesterday they can name numerous Con MP’s who use prostitutes in Ottawa and when away on business across Canada. They say they won’t but a retired prostitutes may.

Hasn’t every Health minister Nunavut has had smoked and most MLA’s still do.  What does that say to kids? Adults?  Pregnant women who smoke?

It looks like his treatment helped, turned his life around.  Isn’t this what we are screaming to MLA’s we need treatment facilities in Nunavut? Mental health help?

He’s been through hell and back now he can push the Premier his asst, MLA’s about smoking, drinking and much needed help in Nunavut for the rest of us.

I’m respecting him.

#7. Posted by simone on July 17, 2014

He hasn’t been on the job for 8 months yet has been getting paid for much of it - says it is good to be back to work yet all his fellow MLAs are on holidays until late October - so essentially when he does return to work in October he will have been on the job 1 year yet not been at work. Something definitely! wrong with this picture.

#8. Posted by The #7 Twist on July 17, 2014

#7 what’s wrong with the picture is your attempt to twist the truth. He is back to work, getting up to speed, reading, learning and talking with his riding people and hamlet.

What is wrong with the picture is why did the clerk just say to take the summer off?  Seems like want him to fail.

Why didn’t the clerk say here is what you need to do now, what you need to know.

Instead Mr.Nuqingaq got down to work, opened books, reports, web and on the phone and soon in person in the Hamlets.

Sounds like he is doing more then most MLA’s this summer. Don’t even think our MLA’s have contacted our Hamlet.

#9. Posted by great on July 17, 2014

now, can he get to work on speaking out against these seismic surveys?

#10. Posted by PW on July 17, 2014

#8, there is no twist there, you are obviously a relative or supporter, essentially he really has not been doing much of anything, its not up to the Clerk to tell him what to do, he was elected, why did he not find out before what his responsibilities were, ran for an office he knows nothing about…his own statement shows his lack of knowledge on his riding. So, stop elected immature children to positions of MLA…stop making this a popularity contest,thats how we got Leona and now Nunavut has no voice left in Federal Government…yeah, gl with that. We can comment on this because its resolved, NN will not allow comments about a politician (David thing) until after its resolved….another child that knows nothing of the office

#11. Posted by earth3rd on July 17, 2014

Next time one of you joke about Rob Ford I’ll remind you. The south is so much different.

#12. Posted by earth3rd on July 17, 2014

... sorry, I made an error. The South isn’t so much different.

#13. Posted by High Horse on July 17, 2014

Yea, this isn’t just a ‘North’ thing, like #2 seems to be implying. Btw, #2 the practice of saying “I’m sorry” and hoping to move on is hardly a phenomenon exclusive to the north. It happens all over the country and the democratic world.

I might not think much of this individuals conduct, but I do think we should give him a chance. We’re all human, we’ve all screwed something up at some point. let’s see how he deals with his adversity then decide.

#14. Posted by Jennifer on July 18, 2014

#13, I was not implying that when politicians act in a disgraceful manner that it is just a ‘northern thing’, Rob Ford is a buffoon….but the fact is it occurs much more often in the north, and there seems to be much less accountability expected in the north in terms of public perception.  People in the north just seem to expect less of their politicians, to be more flexible and forgiving. It s good to forgive, but in some situations there needs to be concrete consequences. People make mistakes, but when an elected official’s behaviour goes to this extreme…no matter where he or she is…there is absolutely no way they should be given the option of maintaining their position.

#15. Posted by wow! on July 18, 2014

He is an embarrassment right from the get go.  Is he fit to lead?  I think not!

#16. Posted by You Got to Be Kidding on July 18, 2014

There should be rules in place for these people to follow and when they don’t follow there should be penalties. Do the crime do the time. The difference with the David thing is that he will have a real judge and a real court to charge him. we’ll see where that goes.
My question to Jennifer. What gives you the right to call Mr. Ford a buffoon? Its your opinion. The man was elected by the people of Toronto and he has done a good job however, he has some personal issues no different than any of the political buffoon’s here in Nunavut that get themselves in trouble. Adults should know better and the fact that these people are in elected positions they should wear it on their sleeves. They are the law makers and should not be the law breakers.

#17. Posted by Should Be on July 18, 2014

Right from the beginning of the 1st Session, the community should’ve had the power of getting rid of the individual whom they elected - should they do wrong or not doing their job.  As it is the people in the community that voted them in, they should have the power to vote them back out if and when they are not doing their job as they should be. Let the community decide…this rule should be the same for all committees and public service agencies…NO 1, 2, 3 strike your out, just 1 strike and your out!  That might make for a stronger MLA committee in the near future!

#18. Posted by Jennifer on July 18, 2014

Ummmm, how many reasons would you like to call Rob Ford a buffoon #16?  His regular preference to hang around known gang members, his alcohol use (regularly at city hall as well as at official functions) that he lied about, his drug use that he lied about, his refusal to follow unwritten guidelines during every Canada Day parade that every other politician has followed during every parade (i.e. no campaigning during the parade, it is a ‘neutral’ event), his use of racial slurs regarding several different ethnicities, his use of sexual slurs regarding women on several occasions, his use of violent terms regarding women on several occasions, his absolute refusal to admit to any wrong doing in any way, his insistence is banning various members of the press from city hall (which city council just specifically had to vote to ban, because of him), his refusal to answer questions regarding his various activities and the effect they have on Toronto’s reputation nationally speaking…..........

#19. Posted by heck on July 21, 2014

For me, regardless if Torontonians elect Ford, I still think he’a a buffoon too.  Torontonians seem to support violence against women?  And #16 says Ford’s done a good job?  That’s eccentric idiocy, smoked too much weed kinda ting.  Yeah let’s support stupidity for elected members #dumazz.  Waist of public time, space, and resources.  Take care of your own crap before you decide to take all of society with you.  So we can call them “DOING A GREAT JOB!!”

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