MLAs silent on Arvaluk conviction


Nunavut MLAs are adopting a no-talk, wait-and-see approach to the news that their colleague, Nanulik MLA James Arvaluk, has been convicted this week for a bloody, booze-fueled assault on his former girlfriend.

Tony Rose, the legislative assembly’s public affairs officer, said no one at the assembly is willing to comment on the matter.

No one at the Nunavut government or the premier’s office is talking either.

Nino Wischnewski, the Government of Nunavut’s director of communications, said this week that no one in the premier’s office will comment on the case because, technically, it’s still before the courts.

Although Arvaluk has been found guilty of the crime, he has yet to be sentenced, but a date for a sentencing hearing in his case hasn’t even been set. The issue was to be worked out at a court appearance on June 20.

That means that it could be weeks before the premier, cabinet ministers and other MLAs will feel free to comment on Arvaluk’s status.

After Levi Barnabas, the former speaker and MLA for Quttiktuq, was convicted of sexually assaulting an Iqaluit woman, he resigned under enormous pressure from other MLAs, who threatened privately to remove him if he didn’t quite voluntarily.

But just a few months later, he ran in the by-election to fill his vacated seat, but lost to Rebekah Williams.

To prevent that embarrassment from happening again, MLAs amended the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act to prevent MLAs removed in that manner from running in the next election.

Only one thing is certain: Arvaluk may keep his seat, and will only lose it if he either resigns or is removed by his fellow MLAs. And if he keeps his seat, he will be eligible to run in the Feb. 16 territorial election.

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