Iqaluit city council opts to put out call for candidates to fill vacant seat

Feb. 13 tentatively scheduled for councillors to hear from candidates

The City of Iqaluit will issue a call for candidates in the coming days to fill a vacant seat on council, a spokesperson says. (File photo)

By Jeff Pelletier - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The process is underway to fill a seat on Iqaluit city council that has been vacant since shortly after the Oct. 23 municipal election.

Council approved a motion during Tuesday’s council meeting, put forward by Coun. Romeyn Stevenson, to launch a call for candidates.

Deputy Mayor Kim Smith declared a conflict of interest and left the council chambers while the matter was discussed.

She explained her decision to declare the conflict in a message to Nunatsiaq News, saying she is in a relationship with one of the candidates from the last municipal election.

“Though it is not a financial conflict, nor does it actually violate the Conflict of Interest Act, I felt it best to abstain from any discussion or vote on the item,” she said.

Under the Nunavut Elections Act, municipalities do not hold byelections to fill vacant council seats. Instead, they can either choose from candidates who were not elected in the last election or from eligible applicants.

City council asked municipal staff in November to develop a policy for appointing members to fill vacancies on council. Administration presented a policy in December, but council sent it back and deferred its decision on filling the vacant seat, criticizing the policy for not being prescriptive enough.

At the time, Stevenson indicated he wanted the city’s policy to specify that council should always put out a call for candidates, not pick the runner-up from the last election.

Council came back this week with a new policy — which retains the option to pick the runner-up — but council still had some issues with the details.

“I’m concerned about being too prescriptive with times,” said Stevenson, referring to the requirement for council to have a meeting between seven and 21 days after the deadline, in cases where council opts to hold a call for candidates.

“I know that administration sometimes needs flexibility.”

Sheppard echoed the concern, citing Christmas as a time when it can be hard to meet requirements like these.

Council sent the policy back to administration again, for more review.

The runner-up in the October election was Lewis Falkiner MacKay, who received 525 votes compared to Anawak’s 635.

He told Nunatsiaq News in November he’d be “happy” to fill the seat if asked.

City spokesperson Aleksey Cameron said the city has set a tentative Feb. 5 deadline for candidates to apply for the vacant seat, and Feb. 13 for when candidates will present themselves before council.

She said those dates could be changed if chief administrative officer Steve England and staff require more time for the process.

The city will issue a public service announcement about the dates and details “in the coming days,” Cameron said in an email.

The council seat has been vacant since Jack Anawak, who was elected in October, resigned Nov. 6 after being charged with impaired driving.

Anawak is scheduled to make a first appearance on that charge in court Thursday.

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(56) Comments:

  1. Posted by anon on

    I can’t understand why council is so stubbornly against following a policy that currently exists, that would allow appointing someone who ran in the election, published a platform, and received votes.

    If it had been six months since the election it would be reasonable to ask for applications, but barely two weeks? Ridiculous.

    Instead they get to hand-pick someone from what I’m sure will not be a large pool of applicants, who won’t have to publish a platform, and who won’t have to interact with the public they’re planning to represent.

    And December’s version of the policy wasn’t prescriptive enough, but the current proposed policy is too prescriptive? Make up your minds!! Stop wasting time on a situation that could have been resolved *eleven weeks ago*.

    • Posted by Tired on

      If the IDEA has taught us anything it’s that policies are OUR problem.

    • Posted by 867 on

      If the candidate wasn’t what the radicals call a “settler” he would have probably been automatically acclaimed to the role

    • Posted by Missed the Mark on

      I wonder if Stevenson and Sheppard have thought about the optics will be if the result of this is that Falkiner-Mackay puts his name in the hat, and then they end up choosing somebody different that either finished lower than him in the election, or didn’t run at all.
      There were 525 people that voted for LFM in the election, a seat became vacant 2 weeks after the election, Council had the power and authority under the Elections Act to appoint him, but decide to do a call-out and let 7 or 8 people decide not to choose him?
      There’s already an uncomfortable feeling around the territory of tokenism and symbolic appointments, if they choose a woman or Inuk that finished below LFM or didn’t run in the first place, that person will live through their entire term with a lack of respect from the majority of the population of those who believe the appointment was subjected upon them undemocratically and without merit.

      • Posted by Get cultured on

        “ There’s already an uncomfortable feeling around the territory of tokenism and symbolic appointments, if they choose a woman or Inuk that finished below LFM or didn’t run in the first place, that person will live through their entire term with a lack of respect from the majority of the population of those who believe the appointment was subjected upon them undemocratically and without merit.”

        What if one of the applicants is a woman and an Inuk. What will you say then? They’ll be just as determined to take on this roll regardless of the outcome of this sudden vacant seat.

        This comment is nothing more than a racist and fascist one

        Try and have more compassion and understanding

        • Posted by Get Outta Here, Buzz Word on

          If one of the applicants is a woman and an Inuk, then the perception will be the same. If they were just as determined to take on this “role”, then they would’ve run in the election like Lewis did. If they decide to go for it now, then it’s probably because they don’t have to run a little campaign and face the scrutiny of a general election, they just have to go give a little speech in a little room in front of a few councillors, and maybe those councillors will select them for the purpose of “representation”. That seems much more fascist and bigoted to me.

          This comment is nothing more than a racist and fascist one

          Try and have more compassion and understanding

  2. Posted by John K on

    This could have ceased to be an issue the day after Anawak quit. This should have been a no-brainer with the solution right in front of their faces. But wasting time re-inventing wheels is just too on-brand for Iqaluit and Nunavut in general.

    If Council has this much time to waste navel-gazing then maybe this final seat is superfluous anyway.

    • Posted by John WP Murphy on

      This much time to waste??
      I agree with you completely
      Added to that, one might consider doing a thorough cost analysis.
      And in the next hamlet election, the voters might want to consider not electing the same councilor who it appears to be the ring leader in creating these unnecessary costs

      • Posted by alex on

        You know for years John, I always thought calling the City a “hamlet” was a bit excessive in your posts. But as time has gone on, I believe it is justified. This city should really just defer to a hamlet, let the GN run it, it would be exact same BS

  3. Posted by Five councilors overrule 525 voters. on

    Dating someone you work with is not a conflict of interest. The councilors do not report to each other. That is a BS reason to ignore the election.

    Two weeks before this vacancy, Mackay got more of the vote than 10 of the last 24 people put on council. The community has already picked their next councilor. I hope Mackay puts his name in.

    • Posted by Well on

      I like your title and agree with it and I think this is the best message to remember about this undemocratic process chosen by councillors and our mayor.

      I do think, however, that the declaration of a conflict of interest by that councillor was the only ethical step I heard about in this uninspiring situation.

  4. Posted by Name Withheld on

    It’s ironic that since the election finished, both Stevenson and Sheppard have had the same opinion.

    Lewis Falkiner MacKay campaign like everyone else and should clearly be motioned to take the empty council seat.

    Is there something rest of us don’t know why Stevenson and Sheppard seem against getting this guy?

  5. Posted by Secret Decisions on

    No debate. Just silence for months, then a promise to pick whoever they feel like.

    The community has already voted.

    Follow the election results.

  6. Posted by Democracy…. on

    We live in the north, our communities are small. The territorial Cabinet has two Akeeagoks; they are Uncle and Nephew.

    City councillors can date if they want. It is allowed.

  7. Posted by Oligarchy or Democracy? on

    How is this still a thing! As a previous editorial said: appoint the runner up from the recent election and get to work.

  8. Posted by Mass Formation on

    What’s up with the growing communist after election style?
    To not accept who the people voted for, but only a tiny few can wink-wink select who may enter their tiny group?
    If Iqaluit city council won’t accept who the people voted for, then every voting age citizen of Iqaluit should submit their name.

  9. Posted by Ummmm… on

    Aren’t all of the previous candidates from the last municipal election that didn’t get elected… married?

    • Posted by NOTE TO MODERATOR on

      NOTE TO MODERATOR- this is liable…. Accusing someone of adultery. It is also untrue. It should be deleted.

  10. Posted by Pat on

    Dating someone you work with is not a conflict of interest but many would argue that it is a conflict of interest to contribute to hiring discussions when in a relationship with one of the job candidates. These comments would be flooded with comments saying she should have recused herself if she did officially disagree with this decision.

  11. Posted by Jackson Lester on

    Guess what Stevenson and Shepherd…. you could have both appointed a counselor by now AND have your desire policy in place of the two of you hadn’t linked theses two matters together.

    There was an actual election already that’s why you’re sitting there right now.

    Please just get on with this already!

    • Posted by John WP Murphy on

      Your comment says it all. They were elected, and not for the first time. Who is to blame for this stupidity? Need I say the electors who elected them back in?

  12. Posted by Tired on

    I would like to thank Iqaluit’s two joint Oligarchs for finally gracing their subjects with an update.

  13. Posted by This seat is being saved… on

    Saved “for” the Bell. We Want Kenny! For whom the Bell Tolls. He is always ready to answer the bell: like when he gave that homeless person a left hand and he developed a stanky leg. Leg is short for legislature this is all poetic and thematically linked.

    • Posted by Inquiring minds want to know on

      Where is ol’ stanky these days and what is he up to?

    • Posted by RKV on

      Are there any upcoming municipal conferences in exotic locations that could entice the former mayor back into the (boxing) ring ?

    • Posted by Tolls For Thee on

      Yes, this needs to happen. Not only the councillor that Iqaluit needs, but the Councillor that the rest of Council deserves. Stiff left hands and stanky legs all around.

  14. Posted by Unclench Then Extract on

    This council is making a farce of democracy. The people voted and determined that McKay was the next best option. It is the people, and not council who should have ultimate authority over who becomes the next councilor.

  15. Posted by Unclench Then Extract on

    The issue isn’t councilors dating; it is that Smith’s vote against acclimating Falkiner-McKay might tip the scales to her lover becoming a councilor instead of Falkiner-McKay (for whom 525 people voted in the recent election). She was right to recuse herself.

  16. Posted by facts please on

    Choice of appointee
    (5) When filling a vacancy under subsection (3) or (4), the municipal council or district education
    authority shall
    (a) appoint the candidate from the previous election who was not elected to that
    office but had the highest number of votes from among the unelected candidates,
    if such a candidate is available, still eligible and willing to accept the
    appointment; or
    (b) publicly request applicants for appointment to complete an application in the
    approved form and appoint a person from among them who would be eligible
    to be a candidate for that office

  17. Posted by S on

    There is clear, demonstrated arrogance by ALL members of Council to be part of this proposed process of selecting (electing) another member to Council by internal vote.

    Given that there is policy, precedent and legislation in place to allow for the ‘next-up’ (from the prior election) to be accepted as councillor, that option should be the priority one.

    IF additional parameters are required to validate the ‘next-up’ option such as:

    – time since last election
    – percentage of votes relative to the councillor who was elected with the least votes
    – status of the next-up (no longer resident; incarcerated; …)

    then those considerations should be spelled out in any policy regarding the matter.

    “Next-up” is neither a policy nor an option in certain jurisdictions, such as territorial, provincial, and federal ones (and rightly so); it is here.

  18. Posted by alex on

    Except they don’t work with them. It is bad optics to make a decision knowing it will affect your spouse, or partner. I mean look at what happened to Adam in the Legislature. A conflict of interest only needs to be perceived for it to be justified, I believe what Kim did is correct, and the safest way moving forward.

    • Posted by Agreed. on

      Councilor Smith properly demonstrated how straightforward and easy it is to navigate this particular perceived conflict. If either of them ever have to vote on something directly about the other, then they just leave the meeting and don’t vote.

      No need to throw out the democracy with the bathwater.

  19. Posted by Jamesie on

    Give Mr Falkiner MacKay his seat at the council table. If he still wants it, of course. Anybody would have had second thoughts by now about trying to work with the slate of yahoos in council chamber.

    • Posted by sure on

      I kinda think he should put his name forward, even if in a few months he is sick of all the BS that clearly is on the council and quits. I want to see how they dont chose him if he puts his name forward.

  20. Posted by qiviq on

    Having some previous experience working in proximity to the individual in question, i understand the councilors’ hesitancy.

    • Posted by Make Iqaluit Great Again on

      No no no!! You can’t override the democratic process because someone might be a jerk or difficult to work with. If we used those rules, half of the people elected to the legislative should be disqualified from holding office!! If that’s what’s going on here, it makes it even worse.

    • Posted by Jamesie on

      Regardless. The votes matter more than your opinion. Personally, I don’t know Falkiner MacKay. Never met the guy. So I’m not saying you’re wrong. But he’s next in the vote tally and should have the vacant seat as per the wishes of those who cast ballots.

    • Posted by Saglullutit on

      Over the last 15 or so years, I’ve worked fairly closely with him off and on. Never heard anyone say anything bad about the guy.

      525 people is a lot of references.

  21. Posted by Great idea on

    Great idea for all of us to submit our names! How much fun that would be!

  22. Posted by The issue on

    Well, that is the problem. Council and mayor can currently choose between the electoral/democratic result or their habd picked undemocratic choice. That could be fixed by amending the applicable regulations.

  23. Posted by Haha on

    Hahaha. This is the best comment! Well, aside from the serious ones about the undemocratic nature of the chosen process.

  24. Posted by Clarification on

    This was in response to the following comment from S: “Given that there is policy, precedent and legislation in place to allow for the ‘next-up’ (from the prior election) to be accepted as councillor, that option should be the priority one.”

  25. Posted by Northern Guy on

    The GN needs to amend the relevant legislation ASAP so that councils can no longer use undemocratic processes to appoint councilors into vacant seats. This decision is an abomination and an insult to the electoral process.

  26. Posted by Northern Guy on

    Get Cultured, I would say that the woman or Inuk in question should make the effort to run in a general election and stand up to the scrutiny of the voters. And NOT simply rely on being appointed in a clearly undemocratic process that focusses solely on either their gender or their race. The message from Council is clear if the third place finisher had been either an Inuk or a woman the decision would have been made by now.

  27. Posted by Shame, shame, shame on

    This council is so very disrespectful of the democratic process. He ran, he was voted for by hundreds of Iqalungmiut and a handful of men sitting in council decided to thumb their nose at all who voted for him and say: Nah, won’t have him. None of them should have our votes next time around so that they cannot again thumb their nose at us. I feel very discouraged about democracy these days but for this top happen in our community is particularly so. Shame on the bunch of men sitting around and disrespecting our votes. Shame, shame, shame.

    • Posted by Mass Formation on

      When they come for your neighbour but you don’t speak up…
      Who will speak up when they come for you?
      In 2024 people are speaking up.
      Iqaluit City council no longer has the power of the people behind them.

  28. Posted by Debacle on

    This is a debacle to rival the water situation for the last 6 years. Go IQ

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