Two Iqaluit city councillors given notice to resign

Mayor Kenny Bell says both broke Nunavut’s Cities, Towns and Villages Act

Mayor Kenny Bell has given two Iqaluit city councillors notice to resign after city auditors reported that they were in breach of the Cities, Towns and Villages Act. (File photo)

By Dustin Patar

Iqaluit Mayor Kenny Bell is calling on two city councillors to resign.

In a social media post today, Bell said that the two councillors have broken Nunavut’s Cities, Towns and Villages Act and must vacate their seats.

City auditors have flagged that the two councillors have owed the city more than $500 for more than 90 days, in violation of section 17 of that act, said Bell.

According to that section, “A council member who, at any time after his or her election or appointment, would not be eligible to be a candidate shall immediately vacate his or her seat and cease to be a mayor or council member, as the case may be.”

Bell said he sent a notice to the councillors on March 18 asking them to resign, after the issue was identified by the city’s finance staff.

“I’m just fulfilling my job,” said Bell.

“I sent them a letter. It’s up to them whether they want to resign or not, and then the council will have to deal with it regardless, in whatever way that works.”

Bell said he’s constrained by how much he can publicly say about the matter “because one of the councillors has not responded.”

But Bell said the issue isn’t a new one. The city’s financial statements for 2017 and 2018 both indicated there was at least one elected member “personally indebted to the City for a sum exceeding $500 for more than 90 days, and thereby in violation of Section 17(1).”

Bell said that as a result of his notice, one councillor resigned but then rescinded the resignation, forcing the city to seek a legal opinion on the status of the councillor.

The other councillor has yet to respond, but Bell indicated he would be reaching out again.

Correction

An earlier version of this story said that Bell sent a notice to the councillors on March 25, when in fact he sent the notice on March 18. We regret the error.

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(37) Comments:

  1. Posted by Roy Donovan on

    Same guys who don’t turn up for meetings?

  2. Posted by Marnie on

    Is this really what the mayor & council should be focusing on right now? C’mon Bell don’t sweat the small stuff when there are far important things to do. Trivial matters like this shouldn’t be your focus. Get with the program (eg. covid-19, homelessness, overcrowding, food insecurity, road & infrastructure repairs, etc).

    • Posted by Walk & Chew Gum on

      It does seem a little petty perhaps, then again if you can’t do more than one thing at a time you’re probably not well suited to public administration.

    • Posted by Please Stop on

      Your complaining because Mayor Bell is following the rules?!?! It was brought to his attention so he he should be following up on it. If he didn’t then you would be complaining about that. There is probably no pleasing you no matter what he does.

      • Posted by General Mills on

        No we’re complaining about “HOW” Mayor Kenny chose to implement the rule.
        After staff brought the matter to his attention, he decided to go straight to demanding their resignation. He didn’t bring it to council to decide what to do. He unilaterally decided he wanted two councillors to have to resign. The CTV ACT is a horribly outdated piece of legislation that is desperate for an update. The $500 limit is much too low and means a councillor can be over the limit the minute his bill is issued. This is obviously unworkable. Other communities and Iqaluit have found ways to make it work before, Mayor Kenny should make it work too instead of constantly trying to be the new sheriff in town. His lack of qualifications and experience show through every time he opens his mouth. Get to work and stop making trouble.

        • Posted by Stephen Penney on

          It’s $500 in arrears for more than 90 days (~3 months). Councilors are paid $1667.67 per month by the City. Mayor Bell is simply enforcing the current bylaw. If they want to change the bylaw, they should motion for it, not break it.

          • Posted by Generl Mills on

            The issue is the CTV Act, not the Bylaw and it’s not the Mayor’s job to enforce anything. It’s council’s.

          • Posted by Paul Murphy on

            The article states $500 OR MORE. Could be $10,000. Would that change everyone’s opinion. Bell is doing his job

            • Posted by Consistency on

              But it also says that someone with $500 or more for 90 days cant run in the election… when was the election again… ya in Oct. so that means the two have built up this bill since the election.

              Though I think this is a ridiculous rule and needs to be re-looked at.

  3. Posted by Rules are rules on

    Good job! Totally support Kenny.

    The GN could learn something from him.

    • Posted by Marnie on

      Brings back memories of the days Bell used to be on council before becoming mayor. Upset about everything and always going on a rant. GN doesn’t need any of this.

      • Posted by Apathy is the enemy on

        Far too many folks in government dont bother taking the bull by the horns. Afraid to upset the flow of things. Wrongdoing is wrongdoing and needs to be addressed.

        When we fail to follow the rules we are creating a culture of ambivalence, where anything goes. It takes guts and bravery to stand up and do the right thing. Much eassier to do nothing.

  4. Posted by Ivan on

    Sad to hear what the priorities are.

  5. Posted by Well done! on

    The rest of the city rate payers end up paying for those who dont.
    Who else is tired of paying higher city tax rates while others get a free ride off us who do pay!?

    ME!

  6. Posted by Excellent priorities. on

    How crazy is it that we were paying city councilers who owned the city money? How can we trust those who owe the city money to make the right decisions on behalf of the city. They should have never had made it to have their name on the ballot. Free loaders!

    Shame on anyone who did nothing about this in the past.

    • Posted by Claude Martel on

      You are right about that

  7. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    Good for the mayor.
    .
    I see no reason why this can not be dealt with, along with the rest of the issues brought to the Mayor & Council for action.
    .
    Assume that the allegation is correct, and that there is supporting documentation. Assume that legal counsel for the city agrees that the councillors in question are in violation of the Act and should be dismissed.
    .
    Individual councillors should review the documentation. A motion would be put forward to strip the councillors in question of their position for violating the statute. Councillors vote and if the motion is carried the councillors are dismissed.
    .
    How long can this take? Fifteen minutes. Don’t sweat the small stuff? How about not lying on your nomination forms? How about following the law? Throw the bums out!

  8. Posted by That guy on

    I think this shows initiative in resolving any issues with councillors who have an impact in decisions made regarding the city’s growth. Complaints are often mentioned when the city councillors are brought up, doing this will lessen those complaints and hopefully gain public trust in rules set out

  9. Posted by Council Style on

    I definitely agree that council members should face consequences, including removal, for debts owed to the City, but I’m not sure about the way the mayor has done this. I think he has inserted himself into a process that properly belongs to the council as a whole and I am not convinced there has been procedural fairness.

    I also don’t buy the mayor’s reasons for not disclosing who the offending council members are. How do we know this isn’t just a way to remove unsympathetic council members in the hopes that new ones will be elected who will be more to his liking?

  10. Posted by You can always change the legislation on

    Kenny,
    I applaud the technical application of the Towns, Villages and Cities Act, but I would also suggest you take the lead to request that the outdated legislation be amended to reflect today’s realities.

    You can ask the GN to amend the legislation to be fairer and more transparent. For instance, you can ask what’s reasonable, what time limits may be more appropriate, what outstanding debt amounts may be more appropriate, what exemptions can be identified, what scope or types of debt can be listed and what steps can be taken by a councillor in debt, but acting in good faith, than can allow a councillor to remain so long as measures are taken to address ineligibility due to debt before elections, for the duration of the term, and re-elections.

    By the way, I think I have about $1500 debt in municipality services (water, sewage, garbage), only because I haven’t been able to keep up with mortgage, household bills such as fuel for December, January, February and electricity, groceries, and vehicle maintenance costs due to poor road conditions. And because the water/sewage bill has risen after the City’s plans for residents to wean-off government water subsidies and apply such subsidies elsewhere. Debts that were manageable for me a year ago is proving a lot more difficult in the past year.

    This may be a knee jerk reaction, but I know you to be a leader broader than the limited scope presented before you.

    • Posted by Paul Murphy on

      Want reality?? Pay your bills. Get a second job if necessary to support your family. That’s what REAL men and women do. I agree that the dollar value may be low and may need changing. The hamlet should have caught this sooner and recovered the full amount immediately. However, would anyone’s opinion change if the debts were $10,000? It says a debt $550 or MORE.
      btw Bell doesn’t need to consult council if some one broke the law. Well done Mr Bell! Gotta luv honest people who get the job done.

  11. Posted by Review in the beginning on

    The returning officer should have caught these and they would have been deemed ineligible to run.

    • Posted by Returning Officer on

      All candidates submit a form duly signed by finance at the City stating they do not owe the City any money. Without this signed form, their candidacy would not be accepted. This form was received by all 27 candidates showing none of them owed any money to the city at that time.

  12. Posted by Bad optics on

    Yikes. This doesn’t look good at all. Edging out elder Inuit councillors, while the mayor’s likeminded buddy who finished 9th place is announcing to everyone on facebook that he’ll gladly take their spots. Seems like a really poorly thought out coup. The mayor wasted no time throwing those councillors under the bus.

    For anyone worried about our poor taxes going up because of a few stragglers: keeping those councillors on board will increase our chances of collecting those fees. Casting them off will only make them double down on them shortchanging the city.

    • Posted by huh? on

      Where does it say that the council members that are not paying their bills are elders? I haven’t read anything that says who they are.

      It doesn’t matter how old the act is because it must be enforced no matter whhat and Kenny Bell can’t change the legislation because he’s not representing the territory, just Iqaluit and they don’t have any say over territorial acts.

    • Posted by The Way It Should Have Been Done on

      I think the Mayor and CAO should have brought this issue to the councillors attention internally and given them the opportunity to clear this matter up immediately, and if not. Then a swift resignation from them would be the next option.
      There has been a lost worst than this happening behind closed doors at the city.
      Smells Fishy Taste Fishy Guess Its Fishy

      • Posted by 90 Days on

        They had lots of opportunity, 90 days in fact. Doesn’t sound like they are the sorts of people we want serving us. They are certainly not setting a good example.

    • Posted by Paul Murphy on

      So you approve of councillors breaking the law. And because you suggest Inuit Elders, would you be so forgiving if they were white or black? Of course not, you have already with your comments made that clear.

    • Posted by iqalumiut on

      That looks really bad when you think of it that way

    • Posted by Poor Examples on

      Ethnicity and age is meaningless. A deadbeat in violation of the law is a deadbeat in violation of the law. The colour of their skin, where their ancestors came from, or how many years they’ve lived have zero bearing in this situation.

      If the councillors are Inuk elders, then the question is why have they chosen to be such poor examples to their youth?

  13. Posted by Delila on

    The timing on this is really, really bad optics.

    What is the context that has been established that determined that this is a critical issue in the middle of a global COVID-19 crisis?

    Was the context based on group consensus-democratic board governance methods or was this a unilateral/arbitrary move outside of the council?

    Good sound leadership that has the presence of mind to scan the horizon and address the highest and most urgent, pressing, critical priorities at any given moment is the profile of a strong leader.

    There is no need for me to state the obvious on what our critical priorities are right now in this town as well as, the territory, our nation and the world.

    Making this issue a critical, urgent, widely public item of governance just doesn’t fly with me and my Spidey senses are on over-drive! I just don’t believe that this is a critical matter that should be taking up our time and our time in the press right now. It should not be taking up the time and energy of the council, the City of Iqaluit staff nor should this have been pushed in the publics face at this time.

    We are all in panic mode wondering what is going to happen next with COVID 19. We are all putting all of our efforts into staying calm in the middle of a tsunami and you want me to support you in making this a critical matter! It is unreasonable and to be honest a bit of a concern.

    In order to gain the trust of the public in this council and mayor you need to display sound judgement that zones in on ONLY the critical issues at this time.

    The public has very little head space available right now for ANYTHING but COVID-19 concerns and you would think you would be able as a council and mayor to figure that out.

    It is very disappointing that you have demonstrated by your actions and your words that you are not in touch with current events and the people that elected you to SERVE them!

    What is really going on here? Seems to me like there’s some politics involved rather than governance going on here. Yes governance is happening all the time but come on, we have bigger fish to fry presently.

    Leadership involves making reasonable judgement calls based on what is urgently required in this Arctic town. This issue is not a matter of urgency – period. This can be dealt with at a future date when there are not other such pressing matters.

    I am looking for the numbers on how many of the 24 other municipalities in Nunavut have councillors in the same boat and whether they have made this an urgent, pressing matter in the middle of a global crisis.

    Leadership also involves reminding your public servants that their main focus is doing the job that is on their job description and not behaving like under-cover private investigators getting dirt on Iqalummiut on or off council.

    Collectively we share this community.

    At this time let’s take care of each other not push us deep into matters that can be dealt with at a later date.

    The issue that you have chosen to expose as a critical issue is not the current battle that we are all fixated on.

    You need to get a grip on that truth and in the future hold your grip if you expect Iqaluit to gain any trust in your abilities to govern.

  14. Posted by Jenny on

    Very lame!! That’s one way to clear seats to initiate another adjenda. More like other things to do. Not better things. Lame excuse to push someone out. Very transparent!

    • Posted by Paul Murphy on

      Jenny would your opinion change if it was a $10,000 debt?

      • Posted by iRoll on

        It wasn’t a $10,000 debt though Paul, and it won’t be no matter how many times you ask that question. I agree with Delila, i am sure this could have been dealt with and resolved privately, this just reeks of opportunism.

  15. Posted by Qikiqtaalummiu on

    there is a by=law he needs to follow which he did not and straight to the kill point without discussion with the rest of council. We can not put things on hold as there is not enough quorum to move forward with anything at the moment ,City office is also moving at this point of time sounds like an extension what everyone needs.

  16. Posted by Former Mayor on

    The City of Iqaluit Municipal has done wrong. And why did it take the City Mayor so long to inform the councillors did something go wrong that the Mayor want his way. First of all when you are nominated the SAO and the Finance controller have to make sure that your bills with the municipal are cleared. Why now something must went wrong.

  17. Posted by Kenn Harper on

    Congratulations to the Mayor for doing his job. This has nothing to do with ethnicity or age (whether or not they are elders). It also has nothing to do with whether the CTV Act is outdated. The Act is the Act and must be followed. This is not a trivial matter as some suggest. The councillors, whoever they are, have let down the public. The root of democracy is having and maintaining the trust of the electorate – these councillors have violated that trust. They have had 90 days or more to pay their bills. They didn’t. So they must leave council. The Mayor did the right thing.

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