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Councillor defends honour of Ducks Unlimited

Temper tantrum derails city brainstorm session

By JIM BELL

A special meeting of Iqaluit City Council held Aug. 5 to talk about what to do about the city's aging, overcrowded buildings descended into chaos when Coun. Al Hayward launched a ferocious attack on Mayor Elisapee Sheutiapik.

Hayward's meltdown, provoked by things he thought Sheutiapik had said about the Ducks Unlimited group, led to a lengthy shouting match, the temporary loss of a quorum, and a 15- to 20-minute break in proceedings.

The eruption occurred after a meandering discussion on whether to renovate the current city hall space, add a new section to the building, or build a new city hall at a different site.

Near the end of it, Hayward asked Sheutiapik if she had any ideas about how to finance construction of a new city hall.

Saying that she had "some ideas," Sheutiapik began to list some fundraising campaigns in Iqaluit that the city could tap into, such as the annual First Air ball and the Ducks Unlimited auction.

As soon as he heard the words "Ducks Unlimited," Hayward began an enraged attack on the mayor.

"You're out of order. Who do you think you are? Rule on the point of order," Hayward shouted, rocking back and forth rapidly in his chair.

Hayward, who is involved with Ducks Unlimited, accused Sheutiapik of plotting to siphon money out of community groups that use various fundraising schemes to pay for their activities, and making false statements about those groups.

Sheutiapik replied that she was just "throwing some ideas out for discussion" and wasn't proposing to take money away from anyone.

After Hayward continued shouting at her, Sheutiapik called for a five-minute break.

"It's not in order to be in a break," Hayward replied, still rocking back and forth in his chair.

Coun. Jim Little then left the chamber, ending the quorum. Sheutiapik said she would not deal with a point of order until a quorum had been re-established.

Most councillors and staff members wandered out one by one, and the shouting match petered out.

When councillors returned to the chamber to resume the meeting, Sheutiapik and Hayward reached an accommodation.

Ducks Unlimited, a conservation group, holds an annual banquet and auction in Iqaluit that is a popular social event for some residents.

City officials called the Aug. 5 special meeting, set up as a brainstorming session among city councillors, to seek direction on what do about the municipality's aging stock of buildings and recreational facilities.

Hussey said the city spends too much money maintaining some buildings. And because the city doesn't have enough office or garage space, he said the municipality spends too much money on leases to handle the overflow.

The most serious issue is the state of the city hall building, which Hussey said is not fit for long-term occupancy and could be closed at any time by the Workers Compensation Board because of poor air quality.

Another issue is what to do with the Arctic Winter Games arena. City officials have engineering studies that recommend expensive ways of fixing the wounded building, but no direction from council on where to go from there.

(See next week's Nunatsiaq News for more on city council's discussion on municipal infrastructure.)

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