Political warfare breaks out in Resolute Bay
Hamlet councillor pursuing conflict-of-interest allegations against mayor in court next month
A Resolute Bay hamlet councillor, Wayne Davidson, says he’s going to petition the Nunavut Court of Justice next month in support of conflict-of-interest allegations he’s making against Aziz Kheraj, the mayor of Resolute Bay.
Davidson is alleging that by housing Resolute Bay’s new senior administrative officer, Rick Doucet, in a hotel that he owns, Kheraj is either in a conflict of interest, or has created an appearance of conflict of interest.
Davidson says that if the allegations in his petition to the court are proven, as relief he will ask the court to declare the mayor’s job vacant, and to have Doucet dismissed from his SAO’s job.
Kheraj, however, denies all of Davidson’s allegations, and says the evidence will show that he has conducted his affairs properly.
“I have no idea what he’s talking about,” Kheraj said.
Kheraj said Resolute Bay’s new senior administrative officer was hired after the job was advertised locally and Canada-wide.
After a number of candidates sent applications to Resolute Bay, the council instructed hamlet officials to review them. A short-list of four candidates was produced.
Those four people were then interviewed, and council voted to offer the job to one candidate on the condition that a reference check and a police background check be done.
“Those were done, the references were acceptable, and the job was offered,” Kheraj said.
After that, Davidson began raising objections about the procedures that were followed when the new SAO, Rick Doucet, was hired.
“Wayne Davidson came into council and demanded that the motion be rescinded and that we kick him [the new SAO] out while he was on the job, and I told him, no, you can’t do that because it’s a breach of contract. We have no grounds to dismiss him,” Kheraj said.
Kheraj said a hasty dismissal of an employee on contract could create a legal liability for the hamlet.
“Then he came in and demanded that the mayor resign or step down and that he has conflict-of-interest charges and I told him that you have conflict-of-interest charges you file a complaint with the [integrity] commissioner and they will investigate it and come back with the results,” Kheraj said.
“Then he requested a change to the agenda, and his colleagues said no, if you’ve got something to say, say it during the section where it’s for matters from council. Then he walked out and never came back,” Kheraj said.
As to why Doucet is now living in a hotel that’s owned by the mayor, Kheraj said Doucet made that choice on his own.
Because all of Resolute Bay’s small supply of rental property is already taken, the only choices were a hotel owned by the local co-op and Kheraj’s hotel, the South Camp Inn, Kheraj said.
“With only two rental people in town, you don’t have much of a choice,” Kheraj said. “He contacted the co-op and got prices from them, and contacted the South Camp Inn and got prices, and he chose the South Camp Inn.”
As of this week, Kheraj has not been served with any papers informing him of Davidson’s legal action.
Davidson said, however, that he’s waiting for some of the required forms to arrive from Iqaluit so that he can prepare service documents to give to Kheraj and other people with an interest in his court action.
“I have to give notices to Mr. Kheraj and Mr. Doucet. They haven’t been served yet,” Davidson said.
Davidson said he hopes the court can hear the matter via a teleconference on January 9 or 10.
“I said ‘the sooner the better,’” Davidson said.
Davidson said he’s not happy about how the department of community government and transportation have responded to his allegations so far — leaving him to pursue the matter on his own.
“There’s no one in charge of conflict-of-interest. They leave it to any Joe Blow to do the job,” Davidson said.
He said though, that two CG&T officials are to visit Resolute next month, and will look at the issues that Davidson is raising.