Katrina Nokleby has been removed as the NWT minister responsible for infrastructure and industry, tourism, and investment.
Premier Caroline Cochrane said Nokleby had not taken sufficient steps to mend relations with regular MLAs after an attempt to remove the minister from office earlier this year.
“I have not seen significant progress on these commitments and no longer have confidence in the minister and her ability to fulfill her responsibilities,” Cochrane said in a statement.
Nokleby remains a cabinet member, without portfolio, as of Wednesday afternoon.
RJ Simpson becomes infrastructure minister. Shane Thompson is the new minister of industry, tourism, and investment. Both retain their existing portfolios: Simpson is the education minister, Thompson has responsibility for lands and the environment.
“As with all other premiers in Canada, I am responsible to the Legislative Assembly and the people we serve for the overall performance of cabinet and our work to achieve the priorities of the assembly,” Cochrane said in her statement.
“I take this responsibility seriously, and felt it was imperative to take action to ensure that our cabinet remains completely focused on its work on behalf of NWT residents.”
In the NWT, the premier has the ability to assign portfolios to ministers – or remove them – but cannot herself dismiss someone from cabinet. The 19 MLAs as a whole choose who is or is not in cabinet.
The NWT government said Cochrane would not take interviews on the matter.
Reached by phone shortly after the decision was announced, Nokleby told Cabin Radio she had no comment.
The NWT government’s short statement left a great deal unsaid. There were no specific details regarding what may have taken place behind closed doors.
Some, but not all regular MLAs attempted to remove Nokleby from her portfolios in May.
However, that attempt died in unusual circumstances as those MLAs withdrew their bid before it came to a vote.
Only in later days did some MLAs attempt to define what had driven the initial effort to end Nokleby’s tenure.
Caitlin Cleveland, the Kam Lake MLA, said at the time that while she did not support removing Nokleby, “the majority of regular members feel they are not receiving the action and service from Minister Nokleby that they feel is necessary to get their jobs done.”
The mining industry gave Nokleby its full support during the May drama at the legislature.
Premier Cochrane said in May she and Nokleby had heard MLAs’ concerns and would “continue to find ways to improve our working relationships and collaboration.”
Nokleby is not the first NWT minister to have her portfolios removed in recent years.
Norman Yakeleya, the former Sahtu MLA and now Dene National Chief, was stripped of his portfolios in similar fashion 12 years ago, shortly before he was charged with sexual assault.
Yakeleya was removed from cabinet by MLAs in October 2008, two months after losing his portfolios. He was later found not guilty of the charge.
Henry Zoe lost his role as municipal affairs minister in 2004 after making derogatory comments about Newfoundlanders. He was removed from cabinet by MLAs two days later, as they were sitting in the legislature at the time.