Iqaluit’s next city councillor appointed
Pending eligibility requirements, John Fawcett to fill vacant council seat
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.
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.