She's 'simply misinformed,' NTI responds to MLA

Inuit orgs need greater accountability: Aglukkaq


Leaders of Inuit organizations should be required to disclose their income and financial interests, just like members of the legislative assembly, says Leona Aglukkaq, the MLA for Nattilik.

Aglukkaq made the comment Feb. 28, the day MLAs scolded David Simailak for breaching the territory's Integrity Act by not properly disclosing his business interests.

She lamented that no law requires Inuit organizations to disclose information such as the salaries of their leaders, "their benefits, their perks, their spouses' business interests and so on."

"I think, as a beneficiary, I have a right to know if the people I elected are making decisions for me, or people that are appointed are making decisions for the best interest for myself and people of Nunavut," she said.

"I have heard in the past, the saying from my leaders, ‘We're not government, so we don't need to disclose whether our spouse is listed as an interest in a company. I don't need to disclose that because we're not government.'"

"Guess what? It's my money. It's our money and we have the right to know that."

"They make decisions on our behalf. They influence decisions in their senior jobs," she said. "People in Nunavut have a right to know that."

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. countered in a press release that Aglukkaq is "simply misinformed." It points out thatNTI holds public meetings, makes its minutes available, and publishes annual reports that include information on the salaries of executive members.

As well, NTI has a conduct policy that requires employees to declare conflicts of interest, the release states. Regional Inuit associations all have similar rules, it says.

Aglukkaq replied on March 7 that "their policies are in place but that does not mean they're trans- parent."

For example, NTI's annual report says it pays executives in the range of $143,000 to $156,000, but it doesn't say exactly who is paid what. Neither does it give the cost of perks available to executives, such as free housing, Aglukkaq said.

"It's not so free because Nunavut's beneficiaries pay for that," Aglukkaq said. "Vacation travel assistance, northern allowance, free vehicles – it's not so free, again, because we pay for that." She went on to say there is no requirement to disclose personal business interests.

"My point was, as a member and a beneficiary of the Nunavut land claims agreement, we have the right to question the compensation of our elected officials."

Tagak Curley, MLA for Rankin Inlet North, rose in defense of Inuit organizations, saying "they have brought the Inuit up to where they are now in standing."

He suggested that MLAs could improve their own accountability, and went on to fire a broadside at Nunavut Premier Paul Okalik, alleging that Okalik travels to Ottawa to play golf.

Curley was later forced to apologize for that remark.

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