Judge orders ‘ousted’ Coral Harbour councillor reinstated
Council turfed Daniel Pee over his unilateral probe of a vehicle purchase in 2020
Updated on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022 at 2:15 p.m.
A Nunavut judge has ordered the Hamlet of Coral Harbour to reinstate a municipal councillor it removed from office in 2020 for allegedly conducting his own investigation into a staff member’s vehicle purchase, a move the council considered a code of conduct violation.
Judge Christian Lyons found council’s removal of Daniel Pee from office nearly two years ago — on May 8, 2020 — “was done without procedural fairness and cannot stand.”
“The removal of a democratically elected official is quintessentially a quasi-judicial process. Mr. Pee was not terminated from a position at the Co-op or Northern store,” Lyons said in a written decision released by the court Friday.
He ordered that Pee be reinstated and paid whatever money he would have been paid if he had not been kicked off council.
Lyons also ordered the hamlet to pay Pee an additional $5,000 “forthwith” to recognize its “failure to provide procedural fairness” and to recognize Pee’s successful application to the court.
Pee took the hamlet to court over what he called his “unlawful ouster from hamlet council.”
In May 2020, council kicked him out of the post he won in the 2019 municipal election.
Councillors said he broke the hamlet’s code of conduct by conducting his own investigation into a senior civil servant’s use of hamlet money to purchase a vehicle.
Council told him in a letter May 8, 2020 that his action was “so significant as to warrant your removal from office.”
Pee was never given an opportunity to respond to council’s concerns or to defend his position as a democratically elected official, according to a summary of facts in the judge’s decision.
Lyons said council has the authority to discipline one of its members, but that power “cannot be conflated with unfettered power to revoke the will of the electorate.”
The judge called the hamlet’s claim that its written explanation to Pee had been fair “untenable.”
If council considered Pee’s probe of the vehicle purchase an “overreach” of his authority as a councillor, it should have used a “procedurally fair process” to examine that, he said.
“The decision had serious implications for both Mr. Pee and the electorate of Coral Harbour, and should have been afforded the highest degree of procedural fairness safeguards. It was afforded none,” Lyons said.
Correction: This article has been updated from an earlier version to correct the date that Coral Harbour council voted Daniel Pee out. The correct date was May 8, 2020.
Let’s just say they like to think they can have their own set of rules over there on Southampton Island. Anyone that has lived in Coral Harbour knows this far too well.
Thanks, SRules; no different than Ottawa
I’ve heard this sentiment expressed before, so I’m curious, what makes Southampton Island so different from the other communities in Nunavut?
By the people, of the people, for the people. Not “majority rules”; nor anything other
We have commies in some of the Nunavut communities now?
I think the word you are looking for is ‘authoritarian’
Governance, Nunavut style.
We used to a lot more forthcoming about the problems inherent in small populations governing themselves fairly and transparently.
Now we just continue to turn a blind eye to the dysfunction and constant abuses of power … unless you’re a totally indefensible clown like MLA Arreak Lightsone.
Wow, insulting and inaccurate. And who exactly do you think is turning a blind eye…the media, elected officials or the people in your community? What abuses of power are you referring to? Do you perhaps know something the rest of us don’t? If so why don’t you act on this knowledge? Or are you are one of those disgruntled people who prefers to whine and complain rather than do anything constructive.
Your puerile dig at Adam is just wrong.
Adam made an impassioned speech in the Legislature defending himself and reiterating that even the Integrity Commissioner did not find that he had done anything wrong other than allowing the “perception” of wrongdoing.
Whose the clown now?
No information on his investigation into the alleged purchase of a vehicle using hamlet funds tho.
What’s with that?
Western models of governance are grounded in ‘the rule of law’ for good reason. Glad to see the judge set things straight, but it remains a little unnerving to think an entire council could slip so casually toward despotism, dismissing a rules based approach in favour of its own petty prejudices.
That said, it would be interesting to know the dynamics underneath all this, did the senior civil servant in question have some good friends or family on council?
I bet there is much more to this story… Inquiring minds would like to know.