Canada’s Northwest Territories decide fate of minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment

An emergency session will decide the fate of former minister Katrina Nokleby — and identify her replacement. (Trevor Lyons/CBC)
N.W.T. MLAs will sit Monday in an emergency session of the legislature after a cabinet minister was stripped of her portfolios in a surprise shuffle last week.

Katrina Nokleby, formerly minister of Infrastructure and of Industry, Tourism, and Investment, is expected to face a vote on whether she should remain in cabinet.

In the consensus system of government, all 19 MLAs select the members of cabinet, who are then assigned their portfolios by the premier.

Nokleby currently sits with cabinet as a minister without a portfolio, after Premier Caroline Cochrane issued a surprise statement Wednesday saying she no longer had “confidence in the minister and her ability to fulfil her responsibilities.”

Cochrane last publicly expressed “complete confidence” in Nokleby on May 29.

Few regular MLAs have offered any public statements about the shuffle, and none have granted interviews with media.

The premier has also repeatedly denied CBC’s requests for interviews.

Instead, on Friday, Cochrane posted a five-minute video to a Facebook page with 600 followers in which she said she was “reluctant” to offer her reasoning, out of “respect for conversations held in confidence.”

Nokleby’s departments have been the subject of intense criticism from Indigenous governments who say the territory’s procurement process is broken, and from tourism operators who accuse her deparmtent of unreasonable delays.

She has also been accused of taking a combative tone in discussions with fellow MLAs, according to NNSL.

But in the wake of Wednesday’s statement, industry leaders have lined up to voice their surprise at the premier’s move, telling Cabin Radio they had few issues with Nokleby’s performance.

If convention holds, four Yellowknife MLAs would be eligible to replace her: clockwise from top left, Frame Lake’s Kevin O’Reilly, Kam Lake’s Caitlin Cleveland, Yellowknife Centre’s Julie Green, and Yellowknife North’s Rylund Johnson. (CBC)
Session could run to Sept. 1

The emergency session will begin at 1:30 p.m. Monday and is expected to conclude on Sept. 1, according to a release from the assembly.

If the motion to remove Nokleby passes smoothly, there could be little to no discussion of the reasoning behind it.

The sitting could also decide Nokleby’s replacement, via a secret ballot.

Historical convention holds that two cabinet members are drawn from northern ridings, two from southern ridings, and two from Yellowknife.

If convention held, the eligible MLAs would be Yellowknife Centre’s Julie Green, Frame Lake’s Kevin O’Reilly, Yellowknife North’s Rylund Johnson, and Kam Lake’s Caitlin Cleveland.

Of those four, only Johnson has ruled out a bid for a cabinet seat.

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John Last, CBC North

John Last, CBC North

John Last is a reporter for CBC North. Have a story idea? Send an email to john.last@cbc.ca.

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