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Nunavut minister stripped of cabinet portfolios over conduct violation

Joelie Kaernerk in Nunavut's Legislative Assembly on June 2, 2022. The Amittuq MLA has been stripped of his cabinet portfolios over code of conduction violations. (Nunavut Legislative Assembly - image credit)
Joelie Kaernerk in Nunavut's Legislative Assembly on June 2, 2022. The Amittuq MLA has been stripped of his cabinet portfolios over code of conduction violations. (Nunavut Legislative Assembly - image credit)

A Nunavut minister has resigned from the territorial government's cabinet after being on the job for 116 days.

Premier P.J. Akeeagok said in a statement early Wednesday afternoon that Joelie Kaernerk resigned voluntarily, after Akeeagok stripped him of his cabinet portfolios for violating MLA's code of conduct.

"Violations of our code of conduct are taken very seriously," Akeeagok said. In his statement, the Premier did not elaborate on how Kaernerk violated the code of conduct.

Kaernerk was minister of Culture and Heritage, Languages, and was responsible for the Qulliq Energy Corporation.

Kaernerk was sworn into cabinet on September 23, 2023 after both Joanna Quassa and Craig Simailak resigned from cabinet for personal reasons.

He is the fourth cabinet minister to resign since the 2021 territorial election.

Kaernerk, who is still an MLA in Nunavut's Legislative Assembly, represents the electoral district of Amittuq. He was first elected in 2017. He previously worked for Nunavut's Department of Justice and Baffinland Iron Mines, and was a Sanirajak municipal councillor.

MLAs suspended him from the Legislative Assembly in June 2022 for several days for being intoxicated in the Legislature. At the time, he said he was seeking help.

Akeeagok said he will bring the matter forward at the next full caucus meeting.

In the meantime, Minister Pamela Hakongak Gross will be acting minister of Culture and Heritage and acting minister of Languages. Minister John Main will act as minister responsible for Qulliq Energy Corporation.