Iqaluit’s next city councillor appointed

Pending eligibility requirements, John Fawcett to fill vacant council seat

During the lead-up to last year’s municipal election, John Fawcett was one of 13 contenders who attended an all-candidates forum at Inuksuk High School. (File photo)

By Dustin Patar

Almost a year to the day that Iqaluit resident John Fawcett found himself 56 votes shy of a spot on Iqaluit city council, a seat became his.

On Tuesday night, Oct. 27, Iqaluit city councillors appointed him as the newest member of council, as long as he meets standard eligibility criteria.

The seat he would fill has been vacant since Oct. 14 when Malaiya Lucassie resigned after being called on to do so by the council, following her breach of the city council’s code of conduct.

In the past, a byelection would have been held to fill vacant council seats. However, since 2019, when the Act to Provide for Elections for Municipal Councils and District Education Authorities took effect, that changed.

Instead, city councils can now either appoint a runner-up from the previous election or make a public call for applicants and then appoint an eligible resident of their choosing.

On Tuesday night, Iqaluit Mayor Kenny Bell presented these options to the councillors.

“’I’m partial to being as close to the democratic process as we can be,” said Deputy Mayor Janet Brewster.

“I think that’s fair and I think it reflects what voters in Iqaluit may have wanted.”

Fawcett ended last year’s election in ninth place with 497 votes, 56 behind Lucassie.

Brewster also mentioned that choosing the runner-up from the last election means that the candidate likely attended last year’s all-candidates forum.

Although only 13 out of 29 contenders for council were able to take the stage last year during that event, Fawcett was among them.

Coun. Sheila Flaherty, who acknowledged that selecting the runner-up was the most democratic option, also said that she was mindful that the vacant council seat was held by an Inuk woman and choosing the runner-up meant that would change.

“Do we want to put weight on that?” she asked.

Iqaluit’s previous mayor, Madeleine Redfern, had encouraged women and Inuit to run for council and mayor positions in last year’s election.

Later in the conversation, Coun. Solomon Awa responded, “Anybody can be a council member. Anybody.”

“That means that you’ve got to be voted by the people. So we are here because we were voted and I think that we should stick with that.”

Coun. Romeyn Stevenson agreed, adding that he would also like to see more women and Inuit on council, but that “the place for encouraging that would be both during the nomination period and then also, you know, more holistically in things like education.”

Following a few other brief remarks, councillors unanimously voted Fawcett in.

In a series of social media posts following the meeting, Bell said that a review of Fawcett’s eligibility requirements would happen today, on Wednesday Oct. 28. Bell added that, if approved, the city would ask the Nunavut Court of Justice to confirm Fawcett in the “very near future.”

The next Iqaluit city council meeting is scheduled for Nov. 10.

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(10) Comments:

  1. Posted by Let down on

    If we keep edging out council members for facebook posts, attendance records, and owing hundreds of dollars in back taxes, council will be about as diverse as the White house staff.

    • Posted by What? on

      Facebook posts? You mean racist rant?

      Attendance? We pay those councilers $30,000 a year to attend some meetings. I expect them to go

      The GN says it’s illegal to owe taxes and be on council

      Take a few moments to educate yourself before posting

    • Posted by Sir Toppam Hatt on

      What does diversity mean when you use it in this way? And, does the value of ‘diversity’ trump (please pardon the unintentional pun) all other possible values? For example, would you rather the council was ideologically diverse and represented people from all points on the political spectrum (alt-right, ethnic nationalists straight across to anarchists and Marxists)? Or, cognitive diversity? From people of high functioning intellect to those with measurably low IQ’s?
      There is a lot to unpack here and I look forward to hearing more.

      • Posted by Let down on

        The majority overwhelmingly voted for people with stronger ties to nunavut. The mayor uses every way possible to target councilors who he doesn’t see eye to eye with to feel unwelcomed (Lucassie, Nataq, Flaherty because she was vocal about the city’s inaction on the beach) instead of working through the issues. Maybe he’ll stop thinking of ways to push people out if whoever the 10th place finisher is isn’t his close buddy.

        • Posted by Let down huh? on

          Help me understand how is it the mayors fault John got appointed unanimously by council?

          Man you folks are hilarious

        • Posted by Sir Toppam Hatt on

          I might be wrong about this, I’m not from Iqaluit, but by what little reading I’ve done Council was comprised of 5 Inuit and 4 non-Inuit, prior to the departure of Lucassie. Now, the split will be 4 and 4. On the surface that seems reasonably “diverse”?
          I can stop being coy though, we all know diverse doesn’t really mean ‘diverse’ and that it’s progressive code for ‘non-white’.

          So fine, you want a less white council. The best I can think of to achieve that is to run more and vote for more ‘diverse’ candidates.

  2. Posted by General Mills on

    Down one Inuk woman and added one more white man.
    Just seems to be the Iqaluit way.

    • Posted by Mills General on

      She was outed because of her not very friendly remarks. They didn’t out her because she was an Inuk or a woman.

      And the article clearly stated that the council is planning to go with the person who had the next highest vote from last years elections.

      If it bothers you so much, I recommend you bring it up with the council members and ask them to do public vote for the empty seat.

  3. Posted by Consistency on

    I wonder if pulling the runner up from the election to be on council will lead to more people watching what is happening, so that if you are on the bubble to get in you only have to find something negative about one of the councilors to get them kicked out.
    Also will this lead to more people running since even if they lose the initial election they might end up there a year down the road if someone screws up?
    Though i like this idea better then just straight up appointment.

  4. Posted by All Politics is Local on

    John is an excellent member of the community. He will be a solid councillor. He has long-term ties to the community and is entirely qualified. Congrats Iqaluit! Council is getting a capable contributor for the team. Let’s move on and keep looking ahead.

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