Nunavut cabinet minister violated Integrity Act, says report

Nunavut's integrity commissioner has found cabinet minister Fred Schell violated the Integrity Act in six of nine allegations made earlier this year.

Integrity commissioner recommends Fred Schell pay fine and apologize

Nunavut's integrity commissioner has found cabinet minister Fred Schell violated the Integrity Act in six of nine allegations made earlier this year.

Schell is the MLA for South Baffin and a cabinet minister without a portfolio after the premier stripped him of all his portfolios in March, alleging Schell had abused his power as a cabinet minister. Schell had been in charge of Human Resources and responsible for the Nunavut Housing Corp.

Nunavut's integrity commissioner has recommended South Baffin MLA Fred Schell pay a fine and apologize after concluding he breached the territory's Integrity Act. (CBC)

In a report tabled to the legislative assembly Tuesday, Integrity Commissioner Norman Pickell said Schell had a conversation about his own business interests with the president of the Nunavut Housing Corporation and contacted another housing official about his personal affairs.

Pickell also found Schell made inappropriate inquiries about two Nunavut government employees to further his own private interests.

The South Baffin MLA also gave false evidence at the hearing examining his conduct, prompting the integrity commissioner to write that it is hard to imagine anything more serious than lying under oath.

On three other allegations, Pickell found Schell didn't violate the terms of his blind trust agreement, did not mislead the secretary to cabinet and the integrity commissioner with respect to the circumstances surrounding the appointment of his executive assistant, and did not carry on a business or contract with the Government of Nunavut without the authorization of the integrity commissioner.

Pickell recommends Schell be fined a maximum of $10,000 with eight months to pay, that he apologize in the legislature and send letters of apology to two government staff members within three days of the acceptance of the report and that he meet with elders within three months to discuss his conduct.

He did not recommend suspending Schell from the legislature, saying that would punish his constituents and they didn't do anything wrong, but said Schell has not always served the common good in keeping with traditional Nunavummiut values.

Pickell said "it became obvious to me that there were several missed opportunities where senior public servants and ministerial staff could have and should have questioned Mr. Schell about the propriety of what he was doing."

Pickell started his investigation on May 4 after receiving the formal complaint in April.  

This is not the first time Schell has been subject of an ethics investigation. Last year, the integrity commissioner found Schell had violated Nunavut's Integrity Act by using his position as an MLA for personal gain. MLAs rejected that report.

MLAs will now decide if they will approve or reject this report.