Premier P.J. Akeeagok will have the territorial government’s integrity commissioner review a recent appointment of an acting deputy minister.
The government leader, only on the job for less than four months, made the revelation in the Legislative Assembly on March 8, a day after being grilled by former premier Joe Savikataaq and former cabinet minister George Hickes about a possible conflict of interest.
Akeeagok said the situation in question occurred over five days in December 2021 — Dec. 16 to 20 — but he couldn’t discuss the individuals involved due to privacy issues.
“I would like to confirm that I did not endorse the acting assignment in question. When I learned of the potential appearance of conflict of interest, I took steps to ensure that the acting assignment was retracted and another staff member assumed day-to-day responsibilities on Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021,” the premier said.
In addition to involving the integrity commissioner, “we will take immediate steps to eliminate any gaps in the policies around the deputy minister acting assignments that may have been in place. We have had this ambiguity for many years and I am very thankful for the work of my colleagues for bringing this to the Legislative Assembly’s attention,” said Akeeagok.
On March 7, Savikataaq and Hickes asked numerous questions about the issue.
“I was shocked to recently learn that a member of the household of the responsible minister was appointed as an acting deputy minister. Mr. Speaker, I was floored,” Hickes said.
On March 8, Savikataaq probed some more about the fitness of Akeeagok’s selections among senior staff, asking whether the premier can confirm that all of his new appointments to the public service have successfully passed the screening requirements for designated positions of trust.
Akeeagok answered in the affirmative.