Nunavut’s legislative ethics officer starts Schell investigation

Review began May 4, Integrity Commissioner says in rare news release


Norman Pickell, the Nunavut Integrity Commissioner, began to review the conduct of South Baffin MLA Fred Schell on May 4, Pickell said in a news release May 10.

In the release, Pickell said that by May 1, he had received the necessary affidavit, supporting documents and clarifications from Nunavut cabinet secretary Dan Vandermuelen.

Premier Eva Aariak triggered Pickell’s review this past March 11, when she announced that she had stripped Schell of all ministerial portfolios after learning of allegations that Schell had “acted in conflict of interest and abused his authority as minister.”

Aariak then asked Vandermuelen to refer the matter to Pickell.

In his news release, Pickell said that under the Integrity Act, anyone asking for a review of an MLA’s conduct must make their request in writing and support the request with an affidavit — a type of sworn statement.

Pickell received Vandermuelen’s affidavit, and other materials, on April 23.

After getting Vandermuelen to clarify some issues, Pickell started the review May 4.

Schell and his lawyer now possess copies of the documentation, Pickell said.

Such news releases from the Integrity Commissioner are unusual.

“The Integrity Commissioner does not normally issue a Media Release when he commences a review of an MLA’s conduct,” Pickell said.

Pickell said he issued it due to the “level of media interest in this investigation.”

But he will make no more comment to the media on the issue, during or after tabling of his report, Pickell said.

Pickell, under the Integrity Act, must submit his report to the speaker of the house, and the report must be presented to the legislative assembly, where it enters the public domain as a tabled document.

MLAs may then vote to either accept or reject the report in its entirety, but they may not amend it.

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