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Legislative Assembly briefs
Minister without portfolio's duties questioned

Jeanne Gagnon
Northern News Services
Published Monday, June 4, 2012

An MLA is sitting in cabinet without any portfolios, and Rankin Inlet North MLA Tagak Curley wants to know whether he is doing "absolutely nothing."

South Baffin MLA Fred Schell was stripped of his ministerial portfolios on March 11 by Premier Eva Aariak after integrity breach allegations against him surfaced.

Integrity commissioner Norman Pickell began his review of the case at the beginning of May and has a 90-day time frame from that point to produce a report. Schell, however, still sits in cabinet and collects a cabinet salary.

Cabinet members make about $70,000 extra, according to data released in March. Nunavut News/North was unable to find out Schell's exact salary by press time.

Rankin Inlet North MLA Tagak Curley asked on Wednesday, in the legislature, which files and assignments "the minister without portfolio" was assigned, if any, in order to relieve the heavy workload the premier indicated the current cabinet has. Deputy premier Peter Taptuna refused to answer. Curley then asked him to provide the reasoning behind his refusal, and Taptuna said, "The portfolios the minister had were assigned to the remaining cabinet members. At this time, I can't comment on the assignments until after the reviews are done with the integrity commissioner."

A leadership forum to select a new member of cabinet took place on May 7, to reduce workloads facing ministers, according to a legislature press release sent out at the time. As a result, Iqaluit West MLA Monica Ell became a member of cabinet.

Early fuel resupply

Fuel will be airlifted to Sanikiluaq and Repulse Bay early this summer because both might experience shortages before the annual resupply at the end of the season.

Rankin Inlet South-Whale Cove MLA Lorne Kusugak said Sanikiluaq should have enough fuel until "about July" but since the resupply isn't until August, approximately 120,000 litres will be airlifted to Sanikiluaq in June.

He made the comment at the legislature on Tuesday after Hudson Bay MLA Allan Rumbolt remarked the community is facing a shortage of diesel fuel.

Three fuel tanks will arrive in Sanikiluaq this summer to provide additional storage capacity until permanent infrastructure is completed, added Kusugak.

The legislature approved $100,000 last fall to increase the community's bulk fuel storage capacity during 2012-2013, with an additional $300,000 anticipated to be allocated for 2013-2014 for this project.

On Wednesday, Kusugak said Repulse Bay may experience diesel shortages prior to its annual resupply, in August or early September. Asked by Akulliq MLA John Ningark whether that community would get fuel airlifted also, Kusugak replied some 200,000 litres will be flown in so Repulse Bay is able to operate until the annual resupply.

Programs shuffled between departments

Sport and recreation and the administration of the Inuit cultural learning centre in Clyde River will no longer be under the umbrella of the Department of Culture, Language, Elders and Youth, as of July 1.

Sport and recreation will now be run by Community and Government Services, while the Nunavut Arctic College will assume the responsibility of administering Piqqusilirivvik, the committee of the whole of bills heard on Wednesday.

Territorial Finance Minister Keith Peterson said he does not anticipate changes in service when sports and recreation transfer to CGS. Because CGS operates in all 25 communities, he said the government feels it would be more actively engaged in providing the services.

The transfer of the administration of the Inuit cultural learning centre to Nunavut Arctic College garnered more reaction.

"The intent of the programs that are offered at the cultural school and the delivery that's in place right now is not going to change one bit," explained Arviat MLA Daniel Shewchuk on May 30. "The staffing, administration costs and the budget are coming over to the Arctic College."

With the college providing adult education, Shewchuk said it will be in a better position to assist, promote and help the cultural school move forward.

When Tununiq MLA Joe Enook asked the decision to be clarified, Peterson said the government feels the college can provide more support and logistics for program development and would be a natural fit.

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