Iqaluit Manirajak MLA Adam Lightstone rose in the legislative assembly on Oct. 20 to speak about the “growing concern in the city about the state of public safety in the community.”
“During the summer months, my office received numerous calls and concerns from constituents regarding the deteriorating public safety situation, especially in the area near the beer and wine store,” he said.
He cited a number of disturbing accounts his office received about intoxicated individuals in other public venues around the city “where families gather and these are places which are supposed to be safe and feel safe.”
Lightstone thanked Lorne Kusugak, the minister responsible for the Nunavut Liquor and Cannabis Commission, for his quick response to the situation by heightening the security presence around the beer and wine store, and said he would continue to follow up during the fall session of the legislative assembly.
“As I have previously noted on a number of occasions, it is apparent to anyone with eyes that the problem of public intoxication in this community has grown significantly worse in recent years and it is apparent that we need a strategy to both improve public safety and address the complex treatment needs of those who are suffering from mental health and addiction,” Lightstone continued. “I also want to acknowledge and thank the Minister of Justice for acting on my request to have senior officers from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police meet with Iqaluit MLAs regarding initiatives to enhance public safety in Iqaluit.”
Lightstone acknowledged that it is a “complex issue involving many stakeholders… I am committed to using my voice in this House to ensure that we as a legislature and government are fulfilling our fundamental responsibility to protect our communities and Nunavummiut.”
Later in the session, Justice Minister David Akeeagok noted in response that “this is a very complex issue that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have been trying to combat with help from other agencies in terms of trying to make sure that public safety is paramount. They do have resources here for public safety and something for which I applaud the RCMP… Through that, a lot of work and resources have been put into this and our V division is very responsive if there are requests for additional protection requests.”
Lightstone responded: “As the minister will be aware, the Iqaluit City Council unanimously passed a motion at its recent meeting of Sept. 12, concerning the urgent need to reduce the flow of alcohol and hard drugs into this community… a specific issue that I will focus on today is the need to enhance security screening to reduce the amount of alcohol and hard drugs that are entering Nunavut by air and impacting Iqaluit’s public safety.”
Akeeagok said he’s been in discussions about increased checks and balances through the airlines and Canada Post.
“One of tools that we can use are those X-ray machines that are in our southern airports to reduce a lot of that coming into the territory. That is a federal agency that oversees that, and it is something about which I am having discussions. As justice minister, too, I have written to Canada Post. We had a very successful pilot project before for northern Quebec and Baffin Island for a 90-day trial. I have asked those responsible for Canada Post to implement that for our three southern mail facilities to do exactly that. If they need resources, I’m willing to provide resources as a government… It’s been proven that we can stop alcohol and hard drugs through that process.”