Cambridge Bay council defends appointment of mayor

Critics say a byelection should have been held to fill vacancy caused by election of former mayor Pamela Gross to legislative assembly

Cambridge Bay’s municipal council is defending its decision to appoint Angulalik Pedersen, seen here in a file photo, as mayor. (File photo by Mélanie Ritchot)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Hamlet of Cambridge Bay is standing by council’s decision to appoint Angulalik Pedersen as mayor despite calls for his resignation.

Councillors followed the Nunavut Elections Act, which allows a hamlet to fill the mayor role by appointment or byelection if a mayor leaves mid-term, said a statement released by the hamlet Thursday.

Council has also decided that a 300-signature petition calling for the mayor’s resignation was invalid, as it only had a name and signature listed on the paper.

To be valid, petitions must have the full names and addresses of the residents who sign, as well as witness signatures, the reason of the petition written on each page, and it must be filed with the municipality, said Marla Limousin, the hamlet’s chief administrative officer, in an email.

Council will review its procedures bylaw on how and why a mayor may be appointed, educate the public on its procedures and review and strengthen its communication policy, to avoid similar situations in the future, the statement reads.

Council appointed Pedersen on Nov. 4 to replace former mayor Pamela Gross after she resigned in order to run for MLA. She won the seat in October.

If a mayor leaves office before his or her term is up, council can either appoint a new mayor or hold a by-election, as long as it’s not within six months of the term ending, according to the Nunavut Elections Act.

Pedersen was selected to serve as deputy mayor in 2019. Since then, he served as acting mayor on several occasions when Gross was out of town, according to the statement.

“He has working knowledge of the municipality, the committees of council and in the areas of emergency response,” it says.

Pedersen declined an interview request with Nunatsiaq News.

Some residents have since voiced concerns about how the hamlet handled the appointment.

Peter Ohokak, who co-led the petition and presented it to council, said people weren’t getting responses to emails and were not told how or why the decision got made.

“When citizens were outraged, we demanded answers,” he said.

Ohokak called the decision to appoint a mayor, rather than hold a byelection, “illegitimate.”

“And that doesn’t only look bad on our municipality … it looks bad to Cambridge Bay as a whole. All of us.”

Ohokak said the dispute has nothing to do with Pedersen personally, and everything to do with the community’s right to vote.

“This issue is about doing what is right for the citizens of Cambridge Bay, not what is expedient for the hamlet council,” he said.

“The council requests the residents of Cambridge Bay to accept this decision and allow council to move forward with their work as an elected body,” states a motion passed by council.

Charles Zikalala also organized the petition. He said he and others wanted to be given the opportunity to vote.

“Who in their right mind would make a three-minute decision for a population of about 2,000 people that are willing to vote,” Zikalala said.

He said council hasn’t operated in a transparent way, and that’s made residents lose trust in the government.

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(45) Comments:

  1. Posted by Sour Grapes Blaming the Wrong People on

    Firstly everyone should be asking why did former Mayor Gross run for Mayor if she planned on running for MLA. It is very unprofessional to not finish your term as Mayor. I also thing it is unfair that Mayors and Councillors can take a “leave of absence” to run for MLA or MP and if they loose return to Mayor. If a Mayor wants to run for office they should have to resign and take the risk of loosing both positions.

    Second it seems like Mr Ohokak, and Zikalala are just out for their own personally gain, not to vote. It makes sense that the Deputy Mayor be put into the position, and they did follow the legislation as provided. Ohokak and Zikalala should petition their MLA to amend the act.

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    • Posted by Hmmmm on

      I actually think you might be right about some of this, the rebuilt Nunavut elections act took the right for democratic process away from the people because, maybe expediency? Maybe the challenge to find people to be involved in the electoral process? They did this for all hamlet councils and Deas, the use of the act by the council of Cambridge Bay and their administrative personnel shows how little faith anyone has in the people they are expected to serve.
      None of this would have been an issue if the decision makers in Iqaluit, when they redid the act, had any respect for the electorate. Ok new cabinet, pay attention to this, apparently it needs changed.

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    • Posted by Union of Armchair Experts on

      That’s a tautology, Rick… and so fatalistic. Don’t resign yourself to such things man, it’s Christmas!

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  2. Posted by Umingmak on

    The correct title for this article would be “People Who Made Undemocratic Appointment Refuse To Admit That They’re Wrong”.

    Pedersen needs to step down immediately, and an election needs to be called.

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    • Posted by articrick on

      Diplomatic way,not the way you like?or just how cambay operates different from the world?

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    • Posted by Change of Outlook on

      From Nunavut News article, “Cambridge Bay mayor addresses complaints about his appointment and demand for byelection”, December 3, Angulalik says about a petition,
      .
      “I’m not making any decisions on my own,” he said, adding that a community meeting would be a possibility if a “strong” petition were to land in front of council….“I’d want to sit down with those people and others and say, ‘Look, what can we do here? There’s steps we can take and things we can do.’ If a byelection is what they’re requesting, that’s what I’ll go to council (with) and say, ‘This number of people showed up, this is what they wanted. What’s your choice?’”
      .
      Angulalik today – Pederson declined an interview request with Nunatsiaq News.

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  3. Posted by 5 million reasons on

    I think the decision to ignore the petition, which was prepared in good faith, the need to hide behind a legalistic interpretation of the “informal signatures” is part of slight of hand to keep the community of Cambridge Bay unformed and uninvolved in the activities of the hamlet.
    1) only 31.8 percent of meetings occur when advertised, leaving the public unable to follow and attend. Only 50 percent of the council is now elected. The rest are appointed with the intention of finding “like minded people”
    2) a member of the council verbally abused the audience with profanity at the last council meeting simply for attending.
    2) according to the financial statements presented at the Dec 6 meeting, the hamlet is 5 million dollars overspent and under-financed for the 4 million dollar arena. That is awkward. Hopes that the Gn will pick up the slack seem in opposition to the sign outside the arena that does not include GN financing support. How does one miss the budget projections by 5 million dollars? This might be why they don’t want visitors or a changed mayor.
    3) hamlet decisions, in violation of quorum rules and bylaws are being passed for financial expenditures committing the community to these expenses beyond the missing 5 million dollars. Who is supposed to be the gn over site for this? You could do a lot of things with 5 million dollars. Opening a 4 million dollar rink for 9 million dollars might suggest some significant leadership mismanagement.
    4) ignore “informal signatures” of half of the electors suggest someone has a very vested interest in the status quo

    We need significant media oversite, since the community is not welcome at meetings or this mismanagement may spread to other like minded local governments and the gn is not able or willing to help. I can think of 5 million reasons why we need to try for responsible government and media.

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    • Posted by Ombudsman on

      Its time Nunavut had a Ombudsman for Municipal Governence oversight. Many communities not just Cambridge Bay have councils and administrators not following the rules, conflict of interest, and incorrect use of in-camera meetings. An Ombudsman office that is not part if the GN that has teeth to investigate, fine, and potentially lay charges is needed so the public interest is looked out for.

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    • Posted by iThink on

      This is a great comment! Bravo!

      I had a similar thought on the petty cowardice of dismissing the petition on a technicality. Hopefully some of those 300 members of the community who have spoken out and been ignored will run in the next election and will make this council pay for it.

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    • Posted by Looking Ugly on

      I think Peter calling the decision “illegitimate” does a disservice to the cause. Hamlet did not do anything technically wrong in their appointment, but in my view the issue is that the residents of Cambridge Bay largely believe that when faced with a choice between appointment or byelection, council made the wrong choice.
      .
      Council is supposed to represent the residents, and clearly they’re not doing that.
      .
      To decide that a 300-signature petition doesn’t matter because it’s “technically” invalid, doesn’t make it disappear. As mentioned, it was done in good-faith and 300 people signed it. For reference, Pam Gross was elected MLA with 224 votes. To dismiss it in this way is just ugly on council’s part.
      .
      Equally as ugly is the passed motion by the council to “request the residents of Cambridge Bay to accept this decision and allow council to move forward with their work as an elected body”. Wow.

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  4. Posted by Put in some effort on

    You can’t get to the top without putting in the time, show cambridge bay that you really care and get on some boards…

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    • Posted by Arctic squared on

      And it would be best if you could just get appointed to those boards and not face public scrutiny or be elected, the Nunavut way.

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  5. Posted by Arctic Circle on

    Probably the best person for the job anyways.

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    • Posted by Arctic squared on

      I guess we will never know now will we? In the old days the regional superintendents who ran all the hamlets were appointed from away, it’s probably good to go back to the old ways.

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    • Posted by Umingmak on

      Honestly, Angut is a good guy, but he’s in the SAO’s pocket and too easily influenced by other councillors. There are better options in town. Someone like Wayne Gregory or Peter Ohokak would be better for the job.

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      • Posted by makes you wonder eh… on

        hmm.. I disagree. I’d vote for Angut before I’d ever vote for those 2. I’d like to know what Mr Ohokak has done to convince you he’d be a good mayor.. other than run 2 campaigns and start this petition…if you want to make change start on some boards and walk the talk.. they say they are all about democracy but it makes you wonder eh if these 2 who started the petition were in Anguts shoes, would they have lead council to hold a byelection? or take the seat.. hmmm

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        • Posted by What ifs on

          Everyone loves to delve into what ifs rather than deal with what is. What has happened was the Hamlet appointed us a mayor at a time where the minutes for the entire fiscal year weren’t even posted on their website. Of course people are going to ask questions, how else are they going to get answers? When the Hamlet is avoiding the topic officially and trying to push it off until the new year, a petition is needed. It will be interesting to see how Hamlet records all of this in the minutes.

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        • Posted by Hmmmmm on

          This comment seemed to me to be a shoot the messenger and ignore the message. All the talk I have seen , nowhere do Ohokak or Ziggy suggest they want to be mayor, though I would hope they would put their names in for consideration for councillors. We need to stop having like minded people and start having advocates for good governance and responsible decision making, if they did want to be mayor it would be through an election which apparently we do not need to worry about having!

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  6. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    first off, why did our esteemed Mayor decline comment?

    secondly, just because you can choose from within doesn’t mean you should. 7 months left in the term, sure go for it. 2 years left in the term, maybe you should have an election. There are people in town who would probably want to run in an election, if Mr Pedersen feels he is best for the job please put his name in the hat again with his platform.

    third, of late at least half of the Council has been appointed. now, I understand some people resigning for their own terms. we can’t have an election for every resigned council seat. but what worries some people in town is how has the Council and Administration dealt with that pesky quorum situation? was the rules set forth by the Department of CGS adhered to? their own website which states they would post council minutes was not even updated since March 2021! when people asked for minutes of the special meeting where our new Mayor and Deputy Mayor were selected, there was a couple of absent council members. And if you read the council special meeting minutes, 120 seconds after the meeting started they immediately went “in camera” now to discuss something as crucial as a process for a new Mayor, wouldn’t you think the Hamlet would discuss this openly and for the record?

    fourth, how will our new Mayor and Administration deal with the Council Member who cursed at a Member of the Public at a Hamlet Meeting? The Husband of one of the presenters was told “&^%$ off!” by a Council Member. I would like to see how that will be recorded in the council minutes.

    now I’m sure the Arena will continue to be built. as others have mentioned, just a little over budget. but hey, like Justin said, budgets balance themselves.

    or did our CAO say that all the way from BC?

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    • Posted by Which Councilor? on

      Which council member said that? Their name deserves to be out for saying that during a meeting.

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        • Posted by Patti Bligh on

          I have been watching thus comment all week and I have to say there are days I also would like to tell Gordon Bligh to (insert profanity). But, I know where and when that might be appropriate, though relationship straining! The council chambers that evening, in front of us all, was not that place.

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  7. Posted by Aputi on

    When late mayor Bob Leonard passed away, Joe Jr savikataaq became mayor by the council,

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    • Posted by Inuk guy on

      Yes we had the same situation here in Arviat. Some similar questions were raised but Arviatmiut didn’t raise the same stink that Cambridge residents are doing. ‘Nay sayers’ should be pursuing revisions to the Nunavut Elections Act.

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  8. Posted by CamBay Res on

    Other communities didn’t mind when their council made appointments and Cam Bay makes a big deal ?!? If the complainers really cared they would’ve ran in the first place. Some young ppl didn’t have a clue what they were signing & just felt obligated to sign the petition.

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    • Posted by Northern Inuit on

      you are missing the point, nobody could run for this position as Council appointed the Mayor from within. so there was no election.

      if it was 7 months left in the term, go for it. but over half the 4 year term with 2 years remaining, please.

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      • Posted by Z on

        You’re missing the point….it was legal and you’re obviously confused with it all…

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    • Posted by Apples to Byelections on

      If other communities don’t mind appointments, that’s up to them. Their wishes are represented.
      .
      Cambridge Bay wants a byelection, and council is not representing them as they’re supposed to do.

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      • Posted by Hmmmm on

        Only 300 residents went an election. Please don’t speak for the WHOLE community. Many of us refused to sign this petition

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        • Posted by Ikaluk on

          300 people is a lot, and it’s shameful that Hamlet refuses to consider their views. 648 people voted in Cambridge Bay recently and 300 signatures is nearly 50% of that voting demographic. Only 6 council members decided we’d have an appointed Mayor? That’s more outrageous than 300 people calling for Mayor Pedersen’s resignation. Cambridge Bay wants a by-election as true governing power derives from a mandate from the masses, and as it stands, Mayor Pedersen has no mandate known to the public.

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          • Posted by Inuk bay on

            It’s rather insane, this petition was a farce. You truly can’t even call the thing a petition. It was a piece of paper with scribble on it. The Petersons and Ziggy who coluded the entire thing didn’t even take the appropriate time to ensure that they were creating a proper petition. Is that who you want as Mayor? Their first act at creating their democracy, huge fail. The legislative act needs changing indeed and one of the things here is one of these guys that were leading the way with criticism were holding a seat in office as MLA and voted this decision to a four year term and to give municipalities the ability to ellect from within now all of a sudden they don’t like the idea anymore? I’m not even anti Peter I voted for him for MLA, but kids names were all over this so called petition, it sat at the game hall counter while the owner tried pleading people to sign it with no real explanation of what they were signing. I’d like to see this petitions signatures against the list of voters only then could you truly know how many of them.truly care that even voted or could have voted in the first place.

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        • Posted by 300 Strong on

          “Only” 300. 300 is a lot in Cambridge Bay. Pam Gross was elected MLA with 224 votes, I suppose that’s not enough to speak for the whole community and she should be stripped of her position.

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    • Posted by CamBay Res for PM on

      I hope you’ve never said a bad word about Justin Trudeau or Stephen Harper as Prime Ministers, because if you really cared, you would’ve run for PM in the first place.

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  9. Posted by Hmm.. on

    Yeah, why does nunatsiaq have this under nunavik? And why is someone stealing my NN alias?

  10. Posted by inlander on

    No wonder we have a difficult time trying to find young people to run for office in Nunavut,this is a typical example.attack attack,attack,here, Baker lakes HTO election of 1249 voters,45 voters, less than 4 percent,this is what happens when nobody wants to run or vote.

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  11. Posted by Cambay sure has changed on

    All this hulla balloo is cause One of the naysayers wanted to run as Mayor. And The other never gets elected to council so he does whatever he can to annoy them. We have an absentee sao and the foxes are running the henhouse. Cambay sure has changed.

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  12. Posted by A lot of ppl need to sober up…. on

    This town is just too much into the bottle. Petition just to protect your alcohol orders? Who cares about 1 weeks cut off of alcohol shipments? Cleanse your body and enjoy the holidays. At least 500 kids would be really grateful, have some food in their bellies for a week, get some color in their skin. And some would be lucky to get some gifts. Instead of their child tax going to the liquor shop and GN permits fees. #MakeCamBaysFutureStronger!!!!!!!

    Keep up the great work Angut!! Your a great example for Kitikmeots teenagers to look up to👍

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  13. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    you know what’s sad and funny but mostly sad.

    how quiet our appointed officials… elected officials? wait, half have been appointed so mostly right.

    how quiet they all have been. even our newly elected MLA has not mentioned a peep on this.

    oh well, Merry Christmas. if we all shut up, maybe it will go away like that pesky virus people are talking about.

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    • Posted by Z on

      You know what’s sad and funny… most of these comments in the thread, sound like one person who won’t stop whining and is clearly confused by it all lol

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      • Posted by Hmmmmm on

        a young human i know made me think of you Zed, he shared this quote-

        “People shouldn’t be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of the people”
        I think we should be encouraging this in an open forum, unfortunately when the council meetings are secret and unavailable and the people who attend are abused the people are confused or like you, benefiting from the existing power grid.
        Suggesting that those who are advocating for change are whining does not inspire useful conversation..

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  14. Posted by Uvanga on

    I voted for the council members who I feel would best represent me and my ideologies around the council table. These people make decisions on behalf of the community. They made this decision and I’m okay with it, many of us are. Only a few, (the few who perhaps wanted to run for Mayor along with their family members?), are upset. I don’t believe people would vote for them now anyway, with the way they handled themselves, ending lifelong friendships over this. I wish the people who were really upset with the Hamlet Council’s decision would put their efforts in improving the processes that were put in place that would allow such a thing, rather than rag on the council members and our new Mayor. Lots of great battles to fight but need to know the ring you are in and rules of the fight before engaging. Merry Christmas! 🙂

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  15. Posted by Antoniolaugs on

    Along with challenging the democratic right of residents, Zikalala said the lack of communication is affecting freedom of speech in the community. “For them to take down posts — it is unethical and it also further silences the voices of the community, especially on such an important topic,” he said. “This is a public platform for people to voice their concerns, especially something of this magnitude.” According to Pedersen, the hamlet decided to appoint the new mayor instead of holding a byelection because of Elections Nunavut’s capacity to support the hamlet.

  16. Posted by Antoniolaugs on

    “The issue that council had with the byelection was that Elections Nunavut was and currently still is busy with the previous territorial election and they had notified the municipality that if we were to go the route of byelection — the mayoral election would not be possible until the new year into 2022,” he said.

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