Constituents call for Nunavut MLA's resignation

Nunavut's integrity commissioner tabled a report Tuesday concluding cabinet minister Fred Schell violated the Integrity Act in six of nine allegations made earlier this year.

Report found South Baffin MLA Fred Schell committed six breaches of Integrity Act

People in the communities Fred Schell represents are not pleased to learn that the Nunavut MLA breached the territory's Integrity Act.

Nunavut's integrity commissioner tabled a report Tuesday concluding Schell, a cabinet minister, violated the Integrity Act in six of nine allegations made earlier this year.

Some of his constituents are calling for the resignation of Nunavut MLA Fred Schell, after the territory's integrity commissioner found he had committed six breaches of the Integrity Act. (CBC)

"People here, I think, for the most part are frustrated and not happy and would like to see Fred do the right thing, and do the honourable thing, and hand in his resignation," said Chris Pudlat, who lives in Cape Dorset.

Joamie Tapaungi, another Cape Dorset resident, said people in the hamlet have been unhappy with Schell since his first breach of the Integrity Act in 2011. Last year, the integrity commissioner found Schell had violated Nunavut's Integrity Act by using his position as an MLA for personal gain.

"Cape Dorset voters were not too happy with what he's been doing," he said. "Instead of trying to help the community, Schell's trying to improve himself business-wise."

Tapaungi is also calling on Schell to resign. The integrity commissioner did not recommend suspending Schell from the legislature, saying that would punish his constituents. But Tapaungi says that with just one more year before an election, Cape Dorset would be better off with no MLA than with Fred Schell.

Nunavut Premier Eva Aariak stripped Fred Schell of his cabinet portfolios last March because of concerns he abused his authority as a minister.

Tagak Curley, MLA for Rankin Inlet North, was the only member during question period Wednesday to ask Aariak pointed questions about the integrity commissioner's report. He wanted to know what she would do to ensure events like this don't happen again.

Aariak said all staff who work with ministers will receive orientation.

Curley then wanted to know if she plans to make any changes to her staff. The premier did not directly answer the question and would only say she was well served.

Curley also questioned why a subpoena was needed to get Aariak's principal secretary Paul Crowley to testify at the hearing but he didn't get a clear answer.  

The premier said she acted upon the information she received from the Department of Justice in an appropriate way by asking the integrity commissioner to investigate Shell's conduct.

Sheila MacPherson, legal counsel for the integrity commissioner, said in the report that "if Minister Schell had received some sound advice from someone experienced in the role of executive assistant and from someone who was familiar with the boundaries around the office of the minister and the office of the executive assistant, we may not have had to have a five-day hearing to look into the conduct of Mr. Schell." 

Now it's up to all the members of Nunavut's legislative assembly to decide what to do with the integrity commissioner’s recommendations, which include having Schell pay a fine and make apologies.

"I would like to see an end to this in terms of making a decision quickly as to whether the report is accepted or rejected and then move on," said Quttiktuq MLA Ron Elliott.

The MLAs will deal with the report before the end of this sitting.