Craig Yeo has returned to his role as constituency assistant for two Yellowknife MLAs almost one year after he left the position following his breaking of election laws.
“Mr. Yeo began as my constituency assistant in August 2020 following the departure of the previous individual who held that position,” Frame Lake MLA Kevin O’Reilly said on Monday.
He added that Yeo is also constituency assistant for Yellowknife Centre MLA Julie Green, who serves as the health minister. O’Reilly didn’t respond to a question about related ethical concerns, or a perception thereof.
On Sept. 23, 2019, during the territorial election, Yeo admitted to having removed campaign signs at Northern United Place for candidate Arlene Hache without her consent and replaced them with signs for Julie Green, who won the Yellowknife Centre constituency seat, according to the compliance agreement on the Elections NWT portal.
Yeo accepted that his actions violated Section 296 of the Elections and Plebiscites Act and he apologized to Hache, Green and two people who lived at Northern United Place whose election signs Yeo removed, the compliance agreement said.
From a legal point of view, nothing bars Yeo from returning to the constituency assistant role, said chief electoral officer Nicole Latour.
“He avoided charges through the compliance agreement. That’s where it ends with me,” she said.
But Hache is disappointed that Yeo didn’t face stricter consequences.
“The system decided to give him a little tap on the hand. The system gave him a pass. He could’ve been charged, they just decided not to,” Hache said. “In the aftermath of that he said he was retiring, at the age of 65… I think it speaks to his lack of ethics and dishonesty, and the lack of ethics that Julie Green and Kevin O’Reilly have in winking at his illegal actions during the elections.”
Hache worries about the influence Yeo will hold as an assistant to two MLAs, one of whom is a minister.
“He gets to decide who is in the loop and who isn’t. I’m concerned that Craig Yeo would create barriers for people who disagree with anything the (health) department might do.
“I don’t expect (Green and O’Reilly) will terminate him but given their strong stand on ethical behaviour, I can’t imagine why they rehired him. I would like them to terminate him. They want everybody to be accountable but them.”
When asked about Yeo’s job, Green referred to the compliance agreement and said she “considers this matter closed.”
NNSL Media made multiple attempts to contact Yeo over the course of more than a week but he wasn’t available for comment.