'I'm from here': Iqaluit Centre candidate defends eligibility
A candidate running in Nunavut's territorial election is defending her right to run, amid recent questions about candidates' residency requirements.
Iqaluit Centre candidate Okalik Eegeesiak said she knew questions would come up about whether she was a resident of Nunavut for the year leading up to the Oct. 27 election, because of some time she had spent in Ottawa.
Such questions have surfaced in light of a court challenge by former Nunatsiaq MP Jack Anawak, who was disqualified from running in the Akulliq constituency because he did not live in Nunavut for 12 consecutive months prior to election day, as required by the Nunavut Elections Act.
A Nunavut court judge denied Anawak's appeal of Elections Nunavut's decision to disqualify him as a candidate, but the court has agreed to hear Anawak's argument that the act violates his charter rights. That hearing is scheduled for Oct. 14 in Iqaluit.
Eegeesiak, whose candidacy was approved by Elections Nunavut, said she knew people would ask if she meets the residency criteria, but added that she has a right to run.
"I didn't run for office blindly, so I knew that it would come up. I kind of had a feeling that it would come up," she told CBC News.
"I'm from here, I maintain a home here, I've always had a post office [box] here."
Patrick Orr, the lawyer representing the chief electoral officer, would not comment specifically on Eegeesiak's case, but he said candidates have to make sworn statements when they declare their candidacy.
Anyone who believes that any of the candidates has committed an offence can file a complaint with the RCMP, Orr added.
"If a person has declared, for example, that they're eligible and they're not, that can be quite a serious offence," he said.
"It would be an offence under the Nunavut Elections Act, and it would also be an offence under the Criminal Code for perjury."
Orr would not say if the RCMP has received complaints about any of Nunavut's election candidates.