Jackie Jacobson, the Nunakput MLA, has not been recorded as present in the NWT legislature’s Hansard written record since February 25.
Jacobson, who represents the communities of Paulatuk, Sachs Harbour, Tuktoyaktuk and Ulukhaktok, has not spoken in a legislature sitting since February 24, that record suggests.
A March 10 briefing held by the standing committee on economic development and environment, chaired by Jacobson, was instead led by deputy chair and Deh Cho MLA Ron Bonnetrouge in Jacobson’s absence. Bonnetrouge also chaired a public meeting of the committee on February 24, though Jacobson was present on that occasion.
Factors driving Jacobson’s absence were not immediately clear, and the absence does not appear to have been raised in the legislature as is sometimes the case when ministers, for example, have engagements that require they miss sitting days. The Hansard record suggests Jacobson has missed 12 days of the present sitting (there was a two-week break in the sitting earlier in March).
Cabin Radio on Wednesday morning asked Jacobson’s office for clarification regarding the absence. That request had not been answered by Thursday.
Two MLAs with knowledge of the situation said Jacobson had missed some sitting days prior to the March break to attend a family wedding.
That wedding is understood to have been scheduled before Speaker of the House Frederick Blake Jr decided, on January 20, to push back the reconvening of MLAs by several weeks owing to the Omicron wave of Covid-19 – significantly changing the sitting dates.
The legislature is currently sitting in “blended” mode, meaning MLAs can either turn up in person at the Yellowknife legislative building or appear remotely by video link.