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Those running in the 2021 territorial election may have to make public whether they’ve been convicted of certain criminal offences.

The legislative assembly approved a motion Tuesday to look at options relating to the disclosure of criminal records for Nunavummiut aspiring to become MLAs.

“The intent is just to give voters all the information that is necessary for them to make an informed decision,” Iqaluit-Manirajak MLA Adam Lightstone says.
photo courtesy of Adam Arreak-Lightston

Iqaluit-Manirajak MLA  Adam Arreak-Lightstone introduced the motion.

“All of us here have a very important role and our jobs hold a certain level of integrity. I believe that it is important that MLAs are law-abiding citizens,” Arreak-Lightstone said. “It has come to my attention
that our own Inuit organizations have eligibility requirements or criteria for candidates in their own elections, including criminal records.”

Some of Nunavut’s Inuit organization disqualify anyone from being a candidate if they have ever been convicted of an indictable offence or their imprisonment as a result of such convictions ends within the three years of an election, according to Arreak-Lightstone, who added that Manitoba adopted a law in 2019 that forces MLA candidates to publicly disclose criminal records.

“The intent is not to prohibit anyone from running in general elections. The intent is just to give voters all the information that is necessary for them to make an informed decision,” he said. “If someone has a criminal record, it does not mean that they would automatically be disqualified. Options to consider would be: an offense that occurred within last year or the last five years, as an example. I just think that voters have the right to have all the information necessary to make an informed decision. If someone has a criminal record and they are the right person for this job, their community will elect them.”

Tununiq MLA David Qamaniq was among the minority of MLAs to oppose the motion.

“The voters in the communities are well aware of who has committed sexual assault or child molesters and other convictions or have committed murder. We know who the people are and for that, I’m
not going to be supporting this motion,” Qamaniq said. “We were told that as Canadians, we have the right to exercise our rights and that would be violated.”

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Derek Neary

Derek Neary has been reporting on developments in the North for 18 years. When he's not writing for Nunavut News, he's working on Northern News Services' special publications such as Opportunities North,...

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