Nunavut MLA will not face jail time for P.E.I. impaired driving conviction

David Joanasie to pay fine, make $500 donation to charity, with 12-month driving licence suspension


MLA for South Baffin, David Joanasie, at the Nunavut Legislative Assembly May 28. (FILE PHOTO)

MLA for South Baffin, David Joanasie, at the Nunavut Legislative Assembly May 28. (FILE PHOTO)

South Baffin MLA David Joanasie will not serve jail time following a July 7 impaired driving incident while he was on vacation in Charlottetown, P.E.I.

Joanasie, 31, was charged the same day with driving with a blood alcohol content higher than .08 per cent.

Joanasie entered a guilty plea in Charlottetown court July 24, said his lawyer Andrew Coady.

In his sentence, Judge John Douglas gave credit to Joanasie for spending the night of July 7 in jail. Douglas ordered Joanasie to pay a fine of $1,200, and make a $500 donation to a Nunavut charity that provides addiction support to youth.

Douglas also suspended Joanasie’s driver’s license for a period of 12 months.

“Mr. Joanasie is on probation for a year, but because he resides in another (territory), the terms of his probation will be determined by probation services in Nunavut,” Coady said.

Coady said Joanasie was not given any special treatment because he is an elected official.

As detailed in Charlottetown’s Guardian newspaper, the court heard July 24 that someone called Charlottetown police on July 7 at around 11:45 p.m. to report a vehicle with a flat tire going the wrong way on a one-way street.

The police report revealed that officers could hear and smell the flat tire before they saw the vehicle.

But when police finally tried to pull Joanasie over, he sped away from police, who lost sight of him.

A few minutes later police found Joanasie again near the University of Prince Edward Island, where his front passenger tire had gone off the rim into the university’s parking lot.

Breathalyzer tests showed Joanasie’s blood alcohol level was more than double the legal limit.

In a July 25 statement, Joanasie apologized for the impact the incident has had on his family, adding that he is willing to seek help to avoid it from happening again.

“I am committed to voluntarily obtaining counselling for alcohol abuse,” Joanasie said. “I know that many people in Nunavut struggle with addictions, and I encourage anyone who is facing such challenges to seek help.

Following his arrest, Joanasie issued a public apology to his constituents.

“I accept full responsibility for my actions and make no excuses for my lack of judgment,” Joanasie said in the July 10 statement.

“I fully recognize that I will need to work hard to regain the trust and confidence of the residents of Cape Dorset and Kimmirut, and I apologize unreservedly to my family, constituents and colleagues for my conduct.”

Joanasie won the Oct. 28, 2013 MLA election in South Baffin by a large margin, taking 409 votes, far ahead of second-place candidate Tommy Akavak.

In the same statement, Joanasie said that once the legislative assembly reconvenes this fall, he will accept whatever discipline his fellow MLAs deem appropriate.

Joanasie is the second MLA to face criminal charges since the fourth Nunavut assembly convened last fall.

Uqqummiut MLA Samuel Nuqingaq, 42, faces two criminal charges: one charge of assaulting another man and another charge of being unlawfully in a dwelling-house, relating to an incident alleged to have occurred Feb. 24 in Qikiqtarjuaq.

Nuqingaq recently returned home to Qikiqtarjuaq after enrolling in a 60-day counselling program where he said he dealt with “personal issues.”

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