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Grudge against former MLA nets Cape Dorset businessman 18 months in jail

The owner of a taxi company in Cape Dorset who sabotaged the business of a former MLA and cabinet minister has been sentenced to 18 months in jail and two years of probation.

Jamesie Alariaq must also pay $77,140 for damages to the trustee for Polar Supplies Ltd. – a venture owned by Fred Schell that has since gone bankrupt – and an additional $5,280 to Schell to cover staff costs related to insurance claims on destroyed property.

A supply company belonging to former South Baffin MLA Fred Schell (pictured) was the victim of sabotage by business rival Jamesie Alariaq.

Alariaq -- president and general manager of M.J. Taxi and a former deputy mayor of Cape Dorset -- was convicted of one count of arson and one count of theft over $5,000 by a jury last November. The offences were committed in August 2014 when Alariaq, while intoxicated, used a piece of heavy equipment at night to steal a sea can loaded with equipment that belonged to Polar Supplies Ltd., a rival business. Alariaq used a grinder to open the sea can and then set fire to its contents.
Alariaq's lawyer requested a sentence of repayment of damages and 240 hours of community service, but no jail time.
However, Justice Todd Ducharme decided that a suspended sentence "would not reflect the seriousness of the offence, the moral blameworthiness of Mr. Alariaq, the need for general deterrence and denunciation and the sentences imposed in similar cases."
During the sentencing hearing in Cape Dorset on July 25, Ducharme noted that Schell and his wife fear for their safety due to Alariaq's behaviour and that Schell, former South Baffin MLA, has experienced a great deal of stress due to the crimes and court case. Ducharme also pointed out that Alariaq had planned the crime a few days in advance.
The Gladue principles – set out by the Supreme Court in regards to Indigenous offenders' disadvantaged backgrounds – are relevant in this case, according to Ducharme.
"It seems to me that the systemic and background factors affecting Mr. Alariaq must have played a part in bringing him before the courts. He has been the victim of childhood sexual assault and grew up in a home where domestic violence was far too common," Ducharme stated. "His father, uncle and aunts are survivors of residential schools. He has been addicted to crack cocaine and still struggles with alcohol abuse. His partner and the mother of his children is addicted to alcohol and they have both been exposed to far too many deaths by suicide of family members."
Ducharme also noted that Alariaq apologized in court on a couple of occasions.
"In particular, he has apologized to his family and made it clear that he has gone down a bad road that he wants them to avoid," Ducharme stated. "I accept that he now regrets his involvement in these crimes and his remorse, while late in coming, is genuine. I think this can play an important role in his rehabilitation."