Paul Okalik

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Paul Okalik
ᐹᓪ ᐅᑲᓕᖅ
Paul Okalik.jpg
Okalik in January 2001
6th Speaker of the Legislative Assembly
In office
November 4, 2010 April 6, 2011

Nunavut managed to create its first political crisis on the issue of time zones in 1999, with Okalik and most of Cabinet supporting a unified time zone across the three current time zones and Nunavut regions. Most municipalities – despite originally supporting time zone unification at their annual meetings – responded to the government initiative with overt resistance, leading to a stand-off where Hamlets ran clocks at their preferred time and schools and airports frequently operated on another. Ultimately Okalik and the government backed down and the historic three time zones, Eastern Time Zone for the Qikiqtaaluk, Central Time Zone for the Kivalliq and Mountain Time Zone for the Kitikmeot have continued in effect.[ citation needed ]

The consolidation of the Health and Education Boards was accomplished in the first year of the first Assembly, when the value of common institutions was generally accepted. The corresponding change has been frequently recommended but not yet implemented in the NWT. While the Health Boards are not generally lamented the loss of the Divisional Boards of Education is seen in some quarters as leading to a less nimble and more encumbered Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun curriculum.[ citation needed ]

The issue of "decentralization" or the location of territorial- and headquarters-level government functions in one or more of the 10 "decentralized" Nunavut communities was an integral part of the planning of Nunavut from the time of the Nunavut Implementation Commission, and the Office of the Interim Commissioner. Practical adjustments were made to the locations recommended by the Office of the Interim Commissioner for many functions in 1999 and 2000, but many other positions were assigned to communities on a community development rather than a functional basis. There remain serious contentions around the effectiveness of specific functions and the over-all value of the decentralization initiative, but Okalik remained committed to the principle, and to seeing jobs delivered to communities outside the major centres.[ citation needed ]

The Okalik terms were remarkable for a general lack of corruption. Okalik along with colleagues Ed Picco and Hunter Tootoo and Rebekah Williams [30] refused to accept a supplementary pension for members created by the Assembly which he deemed "excessive". Okalik was a modest spender by most accounts, and financial and political decisions taken were largely policy driven. During those years, Ministers who were perceived as not performing, were charged with criminal offences or found in a conflict of interest, lost their portfolios and/or resigned promptly, and in one instance were removed by the Assembly after being created Minister Without Portfolio. [31]

Okalik was perceived as strategic, intelligent, a very quick and thorough study in his work, while his adversaries characterized him as short-tempered and aggressive, especially in his second term. During his almost ten years in office he was a reliable advocate for Nunavut among Canadian First Ministers, leading a public challenge to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien on the terms of access to medical care for Nunavut, [32] revitalizing the Northern Premiers Forums, and being a founding member of the Council of the Federation.

During the last week of June 2007, Okalik reportedly made derogatory comments to Iqaluit mayor Elisapee Sheutiapik about Lynda Gunn, an executive from the Nunavut Association of Municipalities, allegedly calling her a "fucking bitch". [33] Although Okalik apologized, both publicly and in private, the apology was refused. [34] On September 17, 2007, MLAs voted to censure Okalik. Okalik himself abstained from voting, but asked his fellow MLAs to censure him as a formal recognition of his mistake. [35] Sheutiapik subsequently challenged Okalik for the Iqaluit West seat in the 2008 election. [36] Okalik was re-elected.

In November 2009, a report by the Integrity Commissioner declared that Okalik violated the territory's Integrity Act by soliciting campaign donations from deputy ministers, whom premiers appoint, and that Okalik should apologize. [37]

Electoral record

2011 Canadian federal election : Nunavut
Conservative Leona Aglukkaq 3,93049.85+15.07
Liberal Paul Okalik 2,26028.62−0.38
New Democratic Jack Hicks1,52519.44−8.18
Green Scott MacCallum1602.1−6.27
Total valid votes7,875100.0  
Total rejected ballots56 0.71
Eligible voters16,998
Conservative hold Swing +7.73

Personal life

On June 18, 2005, Carleton University conferred on Okalik an honorary doctorate in law.

On November 24, 2008, Okalik was the sole recipient at the 16th Annual National Aboriginal Achievement Awards, now the Indspire Awards, in the category of Politics. [38]

Okalik has three children, Shasta, Jordan and Béatrice, and at least one grandchild. [10]

See also

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