The first day of a hastily arranged NWT legislature sitting, convened to consider a motion removing Katrina Nokleby from cabinet, was torpedoed by a single syllable on Monday afternoon.
Premier Caroline Cochrane, introducing the motion to kick out her own colleague, sought unanimous consent to bypass the two days such motions ordinarily require between being introduced and actually debated.
However, a lone “nay” from among the 19 MLAs denied her that consent and forced members to wait until Wednesday before voting on whether Nokleby should be removed.
The Great Slave MLA has already been stripped of her industry and infrastructure portfolios by Cochrane, but only a majority of MLAs can oust her from cabinet.
Nokleby confirmed to Cabin Radio she had delivered the nay.
With Speaker of the House Frederick Blake Jr rushing through all the other procedural jargon required of a day’s sitting at the legislature, there was nothing else but for MLAs to get up and leave.
At around 20 minutes, the sitting could be the shortest in the territory’s history.
In a marker of the extraordinary tumult of this new government’s first year, Cochrane introduced a motion essentially identical to one introduced by regular MLAs and opposed by the premier only three months ago.
In May, regular MLAs eventually backed away from their motion before it reached a vote. At the time, Cochrane expressed confidence in Nokleby.
Now the premier herself is seeking Nokleby’s removal. Her motion was seconded by Frieda Martselos, the MLA for Thebacha.
Cochrane says Nokleby has acted unprofessionally and done too little to mend relations with regular MLAs since May, though concrete examples of wrongdoing have not been provided. The premier says rules of confidentiality prevent that.
Ten MLAs must support the motion for Nokleby to be removed, after which her successor in cabinet would be chosen by secret ballot.
Under the NWT’s convention that two cabinet members aside from the premier come from Yellowknife, candidates to replace Nokleby in that scenario are Rylund Johnson, Julie Green, Kevin O’Reilly, and Caitlin Cleveland.
Johnson has said he has no interest in the position.
While the NWT has operated under that geographical convention for some time, it’s not clear if there is any means of enforcing it or whether other MLAs could choose to put their names forward notwithstanding that tradition.
Two regular MLAs, Jackson Lafferty and Frieda Martselos, had initially sought to lead the territory following last year’s election but missed out on cabinet places.
Cabin Radio understands Nokleby will release a statement later on Monday. She has yet to speak on the subject since being stripped of her portfolios last Wednesday.