Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Iqaluit August 09, 2017 - 4:00 pm

Iqaluit mayor to attend meetings of city senior managers

“We have the city saying one thing to the Government of Nunavut and the mayor saying another”

BETH BROWN
Coun. Joanasie Akumalik at the Aug. 8 meeting of Iqaluit City Council. (PHOTO BY BETH BROWN)
Coun. Joanasie Akumalik at the Aug. 8 meeting of Iqaluit City Council. (PHOTO BY BETH BROWN)

Iqaluit Mayor Madeleine Redfern will now sit in on weekly staff meetings held by city directors—despite opposition from the chief administrative officer, Muhamud Hassan.

Councillors approved a motion to have the mayor attend high-level meetings of the city’s senior managers, in an effort to keep elected officials on the same wavelength as the administration.

Iqaluit’s deputy mayor, Romeyn Stevenson, brought up the motion as a discussion item during an Aug. 8 council meeting.

“The city is often not on the same page,” he said. “We have the city saying one thing to the Government of Nunavut and the mayor saying another. Not because we disagree, but because we don’t know where we’re at.”

Redfern noted that while she was not at all responsible for supervising city directors, her attendance at administrative meetings would help the council move forward with larger files, such as putting the city’s strategic plan in place.

“It’s a timing issue and an awareness issue,” she said. “We’ve not necessarily been in tandem.” 

Redfern suggested her attendance could be limited to meetings where issues that require “significant politicking” are on the agenda, versus day-to-day operational issues. 

But some councillors said they are against the move—which Hassan opposed over a year ago and still opposes—because it could give the mayor too much influence over operations.

Coun. Kuthula Matshazi called the motion a convenient route, but one that overlooks existing tools to keep council and administration on the same page.

“There might be a difference in communication because people are not getting the same information at the same time… that’s a performance issue,” Matshazi said.

“If the CAO is not giving us information we should hold him to account.”

He suggested that the decision to include the mayor in the meetings might need more legal review. 

“If we are to go down that route, we really have to be careful,” he said. 

Mayoral attendance could also make city staff feel as though municipal politicians were looking over their shoulders, and, friction between staff and council shouldn’t be treated lightly, Matshazi said.

“There’s obviously a power struggle here,” said Coun. Joanasie Akumalik. “Let’s play by the rules, so that we don’t make this up tonight.”

Akumalik asked to see more paperwork showing that the decision was in line with mayoral responsibilities, and on how the motion will be put into practice.

Should the mayor be out of town, “will this also mean the deputy mayor can go?” Akumalik asked. “How is that going to change the job description of the mayor, deputy mayor, and councillors?”

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