Next Nunavut assembly must get to work fast, says outgoing finance minister

By Jane George, Nunatsiaq News - November 1, 2017
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CAMBRIDGE BAY — The outgoing Nunavut finance minister, Keith Peterson, who did not seek reelection in the territory’s Oct. 30 election, says the new members of Nunavut’s next legislative assembly must hit the ground running.

Peterson, who watched the Nunavut election night results until past 2 a.m. eastern time, praised the three candidates in Cambridge Bay — although due to the close result, Jeannie Ehaloak and Pamela Gross, whose final tally was separated by only nine votes, will now have to wait until a judicial recount is done before the election of a new MLA can be declared.

Cabinet ministers, including Keith Peterson, former Cambridge Bay MLA and minister for justice and finance in the outgoing Nunavut government, sit inside the legislative chamber during the legislative assembly's 2017 spring sitting. Peterson, who did not seek re-election, says the next group of MLAs must work hard all year-round, including the summer months. (Jane George / Nunatsiaq News)
Cabinet ministers, including Keith Peterson, former Cambridge Bay MLA and minister for justice and finance in the outgoing Nunavut government, sit inside the legislative chamber during the legislative assembly’s 2017 spring sitting. Peterson, who did not seek re-election, says the next group of MLAs must work hard all year-round, including the summer months. (Jane George / Nunatsiaq News)

Peterson told Nunatsiaq News that he likes the diverse mix among Nunavut’s next MLAs, who cover a broad age range from 30 up to the late 60s and offer both experience and youthful energy. They include six women, more than ever before.

“Regardless, they are all equals and must get to work as quickly as possible for our common good. A fixed four-year term does not leave much time to agree on a mandate so time is critical. In short order, they need to select a premier and cabinet to lead our government and public service,” Peterson said.

Peterson said the first 12 months after a fall general election is, “work, work, work.”

He listed some of the bills that the government will have to table and MLAs will have to debate and pass:

• 2017-18 capital estimates (Part 2)

• an interim appropriation bill, to give the Government of Nunavut money to operate between April 1 and July 31, 2018

• the 2017-18 main estimates for the GN’s operating budget

• the 2018-19 capital estimates

There are also outstanding legislative bills to deal with, Peterson said.

These include:

• the Education Act

• the Corrections Act

• legislation for cannabis legalization and distribution, which will have to be ready for July 1, 2018

“There is much, much more I could speculate about that will keep MLAs extremely engaged and busy,” Peterson said.

The next MLAs will also come to the legislature with their own ideas and views about issues and priorities, he said.

“If I may say this with all due respect, Nunavummiut will expect our MLAs to work hard year-round, including summer months if required. This is a lot to do and accomplish, and in four short years, no MLA wants to be looking back and asking where the time went,” Peterson said.

“I wish them all well as they embark on their four-year journey to make Nunavut a better place to live for all Nunavummiut.”