Politics

‘Handful in the bunch’ causing conflict, says premier


Premier Caroline Cochrane says conflict among the NWT’s 19 MLAs is being perpetrated primarily by “a handful in the bunch” of the territory’s politicians.

Cochrane dismissed Katrina Nokleby from her two ministerial portfolios last week and then led a 16-to-one vote, opposed only by Nokleby, to remove her from cabinet on Wednesday.

Nokleby has been replaced by Julie Green.

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Speaking to CBC North’s Trailbreaker on Friday morning, Cochrane said: “I don’t think the conflict goes across the whole assembly. I think there are a handful in the bunch that have various motives. Some is still hurt, some is anger. Relationships are important, to regain trust and to rebuild trust is critical.

“The days of fighting, and yelling, and who’s got the most obnoxious voice out there, is not what the people want.”

Cochrane said the Covid-19 pandemic striking five months after the October 2019 election impacted MLAs’ ability to build public trust and relationships with each other.

She admitted there is “something wrong with how we’re working,” citing significant turnover in the past two legislative assemblies.

“My whole goal in this assembly was to try to make things more ethical. No more backroom deals, no more special hires. Change doesn’t happen overnight,” she said.

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No record of Nokleby’s promises

Earlier in the week, Cochrane cited unrecorded meetings taken by Nokleby as one reason for her dismissal.

On Friday, Cochrane elaborated on this issue. The premier said the problem came to light during conversations in which people cited commitments Nokleby had made to them, but staff had no record.

“Quite a few meetings weren’t recorded, with no staff, so we had no minutes, which makes it very, very difficult for government – and potential liability issues,” Cochrane explained. “We’re trying our best right now to identify what we’re dealing with.

“When we went back to the records to try to find out what was in these meetings, we at this point can’t find these meetings recorded.

“We’re trying to clean that up.”

Cochrane said the government is now going through emails and recorded phone calls to determine what commitments were made.

Nokleby, who remains the Great Slave MLA, could not immediately be reached for comment on Friday.

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