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Nunavut premier Joe Savikataaq and his cabinet were censured by 13 MLAs in the legislature today. He’s pictured here last week defending his decision to strip Pat Angnakak of her cabinet portfolios, after what he described as a ‘serious breach’ of cabinet confidence. (Nick Murray/CBC) Nunavut’s newly appointed housing minister was among thirteen MLAs who publicly reprimanded Premier Joe Savikataaq and his cabinet Monday.

Cathy Towtongie, the MLA for Rankin Inlet North-Chesterfield Inlet, introduced the motion to censure the premier and cabinet, saying the premier’s decision was "clearly a double standard."

The motion was in response to the premier’s decision to strip Pat Angnakak of her cabinet job, following what Savikataaq described as a "breach of confidentiality" last week.

Minister Lorne Kusugak — who was handed Angnakak’s housing portfolio on Wednesday — was the only minister to vote for the motion and against his own cabinet.

While discussing the motion, Towtongie and former premier Paul Quassa cited what they described as a similar breach by Education Minister David Joanasie.

Joanasie breached cabinet confidentiality in September when a memo was sent to Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., outlining plans to amend the territory’s Education Act.

Savikataaq said Joanasie’s breach was different, in that it was out of his control — saying that the memo was sent by a staff member without Joanasie’s knowledge — and Joanasie promptly apologized and owned his mistake.

Angnakak, in contrast, made the choice to breach cabinet confidentiality, Savikataaq said.

Quassa said he had difficulty believing the premier’s explanation.

Agnakak, now a regular MLA, also spoke to the motion, saying the premier needs to accept advice from people outside his inner circle.

A censure motion does not force the premier and cabinet to take any action, but is instead seen as a public reprimand from fellow MLAs.

With files from Sarah Frizzell

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