nuvotes-eegeesiak081009

Okalik Eegeesiak maintains she is an Iqaluit resident, as RCMP investigates claims that she does not meet Elections Nunavut's 12-month residency requirement. ((CBC))

Nunavut RCMP have started investigating a complaint about Iqaluit Centre candidate Okalik Eegeesiak's eligibility to run in the Oct. 27 territorial election, Elections Nunavut announced Thursday.

Chief electoral officer Sandy Kusugak told CBC News that RCMP informed her of the investigation Wednesday night.

"The police did receive a complaint alleging that a candidate, and her name is Okalik Eegeesiak, is not eligible to be a candidate," Kusugak said Thursday afternoon.

"The allegation is that she was not a resident of Nunavut for the 12-month period that would end on Oct. 27."

Kusugak said the RCMP will investigate the complaint and decide whether there are grounds to lay a charge against Eegeesiak.

It remains unclear if or how the investigation would affect the race in Iqaluit Centre, where Eegeesiak is running against Madeleine Redfern, Joe Sageaktook and incumbent Hunter Tootoo.

Reached on Thursday, Eegeesiak told CBC News she has been moving back and forth between Iqaluit and Ottawa for work, but she has always considered herself to be a Nunavut resident.

If Eegeesiak — who has declared she is eligible to be a candidate — is found to be ineligible, she could be charged under the Elections Act. She could also be charged with perjury under the Criminal Code.

Questions about Eegeesiak's residency arose after former Nunatsiaq MP Jack Anawak appealed an Elections Nunavut decision that disqualified him from running in the Akulliq constituency, which covers Repulse Bay and Kugaaruk.

On Tuesday, a Nunavut judge upheld Elections Nunavut's decision, but allowed Anawak to argue that the Elections Act's 12-month residency requirement violates his charter rights.

The Nunavut Court of Justice is scheduled to hear that argument on Oct. 14.