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Inuvik deputy mayor resigns, reprimands to be issued to councillors after critical comments

Inuvik's deputy mayor has resigned, prior to a discussion in town council Wednesday evening that led to a recommended reprimand for comments he recently made to the media.

Paul MacDonald submits resignation prior to discussion regarding recent critical comments made to local media

Deputy Mayor Paul MacDonald pictured in a 2020 file photo. He resigned from town council Wednesday night. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

Inuvik's deputy mayor has resigned, prior to a discussion in town council Wednesday evening that led to a recommended reprimand for comments he recently made to the media.

Paul MacDonald submitted his resignation in a regular council meeting, broadcast over Zoom. Reading from a prepared statement, he said that he chose to do so due to a lack of time to commit to council business.

"While I appreciate there is very limited time left in my tenure, external affairs demand my full attention. Like everyone living the COVID-19 pandemic, we all have to make difficult choices and decisions," he said, citing obligations at his business and participation in other community organizations.

"It has been an honour to represent the citizens of Inuvik and I have given this serious consideration."

MacDonald then left the meeting. Discussion immediately turned to code of conduct breaches from MacDonald and councillors Ray Solotki and Dez Loreen, related to comments critical of council decisions in two separate NNSL articles.

In one article, MacDonald and Solotki criticized the frequency of council meetings after a decision by council to suspend committee meetings, saying it did not go far enough.

Referring to per meeting payments made to council, MacDonald told NNSL he was "frustrated by the lackadaisical attitude of council that there is a colossal waste of money and there are a lot of concerns with the administration."

Solotki was quoted as saying that she felt that "in times when we are looking at having to increase taxes, or tighten our belts, we should be leading by example and making the most of our time."

In a separate story announcing his intentions to run for mayor of Inuvik in an upcoming election, Loreen criticized the lack of community consultations over a new welcome sign for the town, saying that "as a councillor, I think we really dropped the ball."

Comments 'disrespectful,' say councillors

In Wednesday's meeting, other members of town council expressed their disappointment at the comments, while Kulikowski noted that it was a "pretty obvious" breach of council's code of conduct.

Councillor Clarence Wood noted that had MacDonald not resigned before the discussion, he would have called for his resignation.

"A breach of council's code of conduct, in this case criticizing a council decision … is just not right," said Wood. "What it shows is a complete disrespect for council."

"I thought we were doing this the right way," said Councillor Kurt Wainman. "I really don't want to see this again with undermining our mayor. It's really disrespectful. It picked on our administration.

"If you don't have time for council, resign. That's all I have to say."

Councillors Wood and Wainman took particular issue with MacDonald and Solotki's comments, while Councillor Alana Mero noted that she didn't see much difference between theirs and Loreen's.

"Quite honestly, [the comments] concern me about the maturity of council members," said Mero. "We're here to represent the community, we're here to do it professionally. We're not here to hurt each other."

Solotki was not present at the meeting. After each councillor offered their comments, Loreen apologized for his remarks, saying that he "will be better."

"I was talking to the media about my future plans, and he asked me, and I commented on something that I shouldn't have commented on," Loreen said. "And I apologize."

Town council then recommended that Solotki and Loreen each receive a verbal reprimand and deliver a public apology for their breaches of the code of conduct, with Kulikowski agreeing to approach the territory's department of Municipal and Community Affairs for advice on protocol.

Inuvik is scheduled to hold a municipal election in 2021, though a specific date has not yet been announced.

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