Nunavut judge throws out Anawak election challenge
The Nunavut Court of Justice has dismissed a constitutional challenge of the territory's Elections Act by former politician Jack Anawak.
In a written decision released Thursday, Justice Earl Johnson said Anawak was confusing his constitutional rights when he appealed Elections Nunavut's decision to deny him from running in the Oct. 27 Nunavut election.
Elections Nunavut ruled Anawak had not lived in Nunavut for the past 12 consecutive months prior to election day — required under the act for people to vote and run in territorial elections.
While Johnson already denied most of Anawak's appeal in a decision released Oct. 7, he did allow Anawak to argue that the 12-month residency requirement breached his charter rights.
In court Oct. 14, Anawak argued that the act fails to recognize Nunavut's unique situation, with a population that is mainly Inuit.
To deny him, an Inuk, the right to vote and run in a Nunavut election discriminates against him, Anawak argued.
But in his decision, Johnson wrote Anawak is "confusing his right to vote and participate in the institutions arising out of the [Nunavut Land Claims Agreement], and the right to vote and be a candidate in the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut.
"There is no evidence before me that voting in a public government is an Inuit right that has existed over time and is of integral significance to Inuit society," Johnson's decision read in part.
Johnson's decision means a byelection can now be held in the Akulliq constituency, where Anawak had wanted to run. The general election race there was cancelled last month, while Anawak's case went before the courts.
Elections Nunavut has yet to announce when the byelection will take place.