Small Gjoa haven office 'is fraught with mistrust, disrespect, and authoritarian attitude'

Fourth water board employee quits

By JOHN THOMPSON

A fourth employee of the Nunavut Water Board has quit to protest the recent firing of their executive director, Philippe di Pizzo.

Raj Downe, director of corporate services, wrote to the board on April 16, saying she would not renew her contract when it expires April 30.

The senior manager's departure means the board won't have anyone to prepare year-end accounting and financial statements. Downe has worked for the water board for three years.

Downe wrote that until recently, the board was one of the best organizations she's worked for in the past 30 years. But that changed, following the March 23 firing of di Pizzo. She describes the current climate as "fraught with mistrust, disrespect, and authoritarian attitude."

That's partly because another manager is snooping through the emails of staff, her letter alleges.

Downe says that violates the board's computer use policy, which she says states that she is the only employee authorized to log on to computers as someone else, and only in rare instances so day-to-day operations can continue.

"I feel it is a breach of trust and a blatant disrespect towards another staff member," Downe wrote. She asks under whose authority this is being done, and writes, "this issue needs to be investigated."

Downe describes di Pizzo as "an effective, competent, and progressive-thinking executive director," and lists his firing as the first reason for her resignation. She says his firing was the trigger of "a chain of events for the worse."

That includes the departure of three technical staff loyal to di Pizzo – two who live in Gjoa Haven, and one who works from Toronto.

With the departure of Downe, the board will have lost almost half of its tiny, 10-person office.

Downe planned to stay on with the board for another year or two, until a beneficiary had been properly trained to replace her.

But that plan has been derailed by recent events, she wrote.

"I realize that this is a crucial time for the NWB's finance and human resources areas and as a professional with high standards I have struggled with my conscience," she wrote. "Professionally, I should stay which I was seriously considering."

"However, for reasons noted above, today I have decided that I do not wish to be part of a team whose management style is not congruent with my own."

The board fired di Pizzo without cause March 23. During the same meeting, the board decided to push forward to public meetings for the licence application for the Miramar's Mining Corp.'s Doris North mine – an application that had earlier been rejected by the board, under di Pizzo, in December.

The rejection of the licence infuriated members of the Kitikmeot Inuit Association, who are eager to see jobs and money spill into their communities from the opening of the proposed gold mine. The KIA expressed its dismay to the board in a letter, also discussed during the March 23 meeting, before the board fired di Pizzo.

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