Former minister Katrina Nokleby on Wednesday said the NWT’s premier spoke to her only once outside cabinet in the three months before she was dismissed – to ask about her sex life.
In a post to Facebook, Nokleby wrote: “The premier called me once between May and August, our only conversation outside cabinet, to ask about who I was sleeping with.”
No further context was given. Nokleby could not be reached by phone on Wednesday.
Premier Caroline Cochrane’s cabinet communications staff, asked whether Cochrane recalled that conversation, said by email: “It’s clear MLA Nokleby has her own opinions about how things unfolded.”
“Members expressed their reasons during session,” Cochrane’s communications team continued, referring to Nokleby’s removal from cabinet in August – a process led by the premier, who accused the then-industry and infrastructure minister of acting unprofessionally, having “tantrums,” and walking out of meetings.
Nokleby, who rejected those characterizations, was removed from cabinet by a 16-to-one vote, hers being the only vote against.
“The premier and cabinet are focused on getting on with the business of government,” Cochrane’s communications staff wrote, “and are focused on protecting the health and well-being of residents as the pandemic continues, and working to move its mandate commitments forward for a more prosperous Northwest Territories.”
Nokleby made Wednesday’s remark while sharing a link to an extensive interview she conducted with Indigenous NWT radio station CKLB.
In that interview, she told reporter Francis Tessier-Burns: “I lost my job because, oftentimes, I think people don’t want to hear the truth. And I think that people don’t want to hear the truth from women, if it’s not couched in a certain manner.
“There’s a lot of hangovers and legacy leftover in this assembly from the last. I felt that as soon as I was in cabinet, that – I don’t wanna use the word indoctrinated – but, it was very much hammered on me to be divisive and to not work together with the regular MLAs.”
Nokleby acknowledged walking out of at least one meeting, suggesting she could no longer tolerate her working environment.
“I sat through part of a meeting and listened to lies about myself and, I’m not gonna lie, I got up and walked out,” the Great Slave MLA told CKLB.
“At that point, with the state of exhaustion I was in and everything I had been through in the last year, I had no interest in sitting there any longer and defending my character.”
She concludes: “I think the territory is not cut out for a politician like me, if I’m going to call myself a politician. Yes, I’m an engineer first, and I think that the territory could benefit from more engineering-type analysis.
“I’d like to see lessons learned. I’d like to see critical thought and decision-making based on data. Because after a year in the position I’ve been in, I don’t see that.”
Ministers and regular MLAs will return to the NWT’s legislature on Thursday for a 14-day sitting of the House, the first since Nokleby was removed and Julie Green elected to cabinet in her place.