Portfolios announced for cabinet ministers in Canada’s Northwest Territories

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Portfolio assignments were handed out Tuesday morning for the N.W.T.’s new cabinet. (CBC)
The newest batch of cabinet ministers in Canada’s Northwest Territories will have their marching orders, as Premier Caroline Cochrane announced cabinet assignments Tuesday morning in a news release.

Cabinet ministers were chosen by their fellow MLAs on Oct. 24, following Premier Cochrane’s election and speeches outlining their credentials and cases for the job.

Cochrane is the only member of cabinet who was previously a minister. Many of the newcomers are also first-time MLAs.

“I’m really expecting that this assembly is going to be very powerful and we’ll get a lot of work done,” Cochrane said Tuesday afternoon in the Legislative Assembly.

Here are the assignments for each new minister:

  • Paulie Chinna (Sahtu MLA): Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs, Minister Responsible for Northwest Territories Housing Corporation, Minister Responsible for Homelessness;
  • Katrina Nokleby (Great Slave): Minister of Infrastructure, Industry, Tourism and Investment, Minister Responsible for the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission;
  • R.J. Simpson (Hay River North): Minister of Education, Culture and Employment, Minister Responsible for the Public Utilities Board, Government House Leader;
  • Diane Thom (Inuvik Boot Lake): Deputy Premier, Minister of Health and Social Services, Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, Minister Responsible for People with Disabilities;
  • Shane Thompson (Nahendeh): Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Lands, Minister Responsible for Youth, Minister Responsible for Seniors, Minister Responsible for Northwest Territories Power Corporation;
  • Caroline Wawzonek (Yellowknife South): Minister of Finance, Justice.

Premier Cochrane herself will take on the ministry of Executive and Indigenous Affairs.

Ministers will officially assume the responsibilities of their portfolio at 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 8.

From left to right, Katrina Nokleby, Diane Thom, Premier Caroline Cochrane, Paulie Chinna, Shane Thompson and Caroline Wawzonek at the portfolio announcement Tuesday. R.J. Simpson was unable to attend the event, according to officials. (Emily Blake/CBC)
‘Thinking outside the box’

Cochrane said the new cabinet’s first task will be continuing to develop the mandate of the 19th Legislative Assembly. She said the public mandate letters she had promised for each minister will be issued in the coming weeks.

When it comes to key issues like housing, Cochrane said the government will have to “start thinking outside the box.”

The premier also said she wants to make sure all decisions are made by consensus.

In her pitch to be premier on Oct. 18, Cochrane had proposed amalgamating the Department of Lands and Department of Municipal and Community Affairs. She also proposed changing the name of the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment to the “department of economic diversification and development.”

Cochrane said she’d still like to see those changes happen but she will need to work closely with MLAs first.

“Before any major changes will take place, on my own I will be working with MLAs and standing committee to make sure that the priorities reflective of all the 19 members versus only myself,” she said Tuesday.

One change in this cabinet is there is no Minister of Public Engagement and Transparency. Cochrane said that will be part of the mandate for all cabinet members.

“I think that that is important for every single minister,” she said.

With files from Emily Blake

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: New premier of Canada’s Northwest Territories will face big demands for change, CBC News

Finland: Sámi Parliament of Finland torn on local rights, urban influence, Yle News

Norway: Political earthquake shakes up Northern Norway, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: How Murmansk government plans to attract newcomers and reverse regional decline, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Swedish gov’s budget raises fears over inequality, Radio Sweden

United States: US Senate passes bill with funds for missing and murdered Indigenous women, Alaska Public Media

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