A former premier and a minister of his cabinet demanded answers from Premier P.J. Akeeagok in the Legislative Assembly Monday regarding the appointment of an acting deputy minister that may have posed a conflict of interest.
Joe Savikataaq, now a regular MLA representing Arviat South, and George Hickes, MLA for Iqaluit-Tasiluk, repeatedly asked Akeeagok whether he appointed an acting deputy minister who resides in the same household as the minister responsible for a territorial government department.
“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. “I have never heard of that happening in any other jurisdiction and was quite taken aback on that practice being practised here in Nunavut.”
Hickes added that human resource policies are “very clear on reporting practices to avoid conflict of interest liabilities.”
Akeeagok said his office keeps a list of candidates who are capable and qualified to act as deputy ministers.
“We haven’t broken any policies or regulations,” he said.
Savikataaq followed up by asking the same question multiple times, but he too was met with a denial from Akeeagok that anything improper occurred.
“I’m having a tough time getting a straight answer out of the premier. This is a simple question,” said Savikataaq, asking it for the third time.
Akeeagok replied, “I will look further into his concern. When we’re going to make appointments, we’re always looking at the policies to ensure there are no problems.”