Court decision on Anawak election appeal delayed
Appeal could derail territorial race in Akulliq, lawyer warns
A Nunavut judge has delayed his decision on whether former member of Parliament Jack Anawak can appeal a decision that barred him from running in Nunavut's territorial election.
Nunavut Court of Justice Judge Earl Johnson was supposed to decide Monday whether Anawak's appeal would be heard. However, that decision has been put off until Tuesday at the earliest.
A lawyer for Elections Nunavut warns that if Anawak's appeal is allowed to be heard, it would force a byelection in the Akulliq constituency — where Anawak wanted to run — thereby cancelling the campaign that's already underway.
"The candidates who have spent time and money in this election will have to start all over again," Patrick Orr, the lawyer representing the electoral authority, told CBC News on Friday.
Nunavummiut will go to the polls Oct. 27 to elect MLAs in 18 constituencies, including Akulliq. There, incumbent MLA Steve Mapsalak is running against John Ningark and Marius Tungilik.
A byelection in the South Baffin constituency will take place a week later, on Nov. 3.
Anawak served as a Liberal MP for what was then called the Nunatsiaq riding from 1988 to 1997.
Chief electoral officer Sandy Kusugak had determined that Anawak could not run in Akulliq because he was not a Nunavut resident for the 12 months prior to Oct. 27.
Orr said Anawak's tax return for the period ending Dec. 31, 2007, was filed with an Ottawa address. Anawak was still receiving mail at the Ottawa address as of August, he added.
"She made a decision on the basis of the evidence available to her that he was not a resident for the 12-month period," he said.
Orr has also argued against allowing Anawak's appeal to be heard, on the basis that it had been filed a day late.
But Steven Cooper, the Edmonton-based lawyer representing Anawak, argued in court on Friday that it's impossible to file an appeal within the two-day time limit given.
Cooper also argued that Kusugak had based her decision on scant information provided by two of Anawak's 11 children.
Cooper told CBC News neither he nor Anawak would comment on the matter until Johnson makes his decision.
In court, Cooper said Anawak has lived in Ottawa for school — for which he received Nunavut student financial assistance — and for jobs linked to the North, adding that Anawak has a house and bank accounts in the territory.
As well, Cooper described Anawak as a "father of Nunavut," who was one of the territory's first MLAs and cabinet ministers when Nunavut was created in 1999.