The Nunavut Leadership Forum selected Aggu MLA Paul Quassa as the new Speaker of the legislative assembly on Wednesday.
In addition to Quassa, three other members of the legislative assembly were nominated for the position: Uqqummiut’s Pauloosie Keyootak, Gjoa Haven’s Tony Akoak and Amittuq’s Joelie Kaernerk. Both Keyootak and Kaernerk politely declined the nomination. The members then cast their secret ballots for either Quassa or Akoak.
Hudson Bay MLA Allan Rumbolt mistakenly announced former premier Paul Okalik’s name before declaring Quassa as the winner. After a moment of laughter, the members congratulated their new Speaker.
With the new honour of being Speaker, Quassa will add to his repertoire of political experience. He also had the opportunity to be a member of the 4th Legislative Assembly, in which he served as government house leader, minister of Education and minister responsible for Nunavut Arctic College.
Between November 2017 and June 2018, Quassa served as Nunavut’s fourth premier. He was ousted from this role on June 14, 2018 and replaced by current premier Joe Savikataaq.
Most recently, since October 30, 2017, he has represented the constituency of Aggu in the 5th Legislative Assembly of Nunavut.
Quassa, humbled by the new honour, shared, “I think it’s something that I always had in my mind after I became elected as MLA. That one day, I’m gonna want to be Speaker before I retire.”
Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu MLA Pat Angnakak, who had nominated Quassa, believes he is “very capable” of the duty.
“His command of speaking and understanding English and Inuktitut are very strong and I feel his experiences of being a government minister and his role as a regular MLA will only add to his strengths and capabilities to do the job,” stated Angnakak.
She expects him to keep order and ensure that members follow procedures.
Former Speaker and Baker Lake MLA Simeon Mikkungwak announced his resignation from the legislative assembly on Monday. He had served as Speaker since May 28, 2019.
Mikkungwak explained that his wife’s health has become his family’s priority and he needs to redirect his energy.
“I believe that the time has come for me to focus all of my energy on being with my family at home,” he said.
Arviat North-Whale Cove MLA John Main admitted he was sad to see Mikkungwak depart the assembly, but understood why he needed to retire.
As for the new Speaker, Main responded, “I have the the utmost confidence that Mr Quassa will uphold the principles of impartiality and dignity that are needed to be Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.”