Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Iqaluit January 02, 2014 - 12:54 pm

Mark Morrissey to quit Iqaluit council for job in Alberta

“I wrestled with it for probably close to a week”

Mark Morrissey will quit his seat on Iqaluit City Council to take a new job as director of economic development for the city of Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. (FILE PHOTO)
Mark Morrissey will quit his seat on Iqaluit City Council to take a new job as director of economic development for the city of Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. (FILE PHOTO)

Mark Morrissey plans to announce his resignation from Iqaluit City Council at its next meeting — but he’s not completely thrilled about it.

“We were elected by the people to do a job, and I really feel I’m leaving before that job is done,” Morrissey said.

Morrissey has accepted a job in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. as that city’s director of economic development.

That’s a big upgrade from his current job in Iqaluit — executive director for the Nunavut Economic Developers Association.

“Here in Nunavut I’ve been working with very much the grassroots economic development — the ground floor we call it,” Morrissey said.

“This is the last frontier for economic development in Canada, and it’s been very exciting to work here,” he said.

“But for me, to be a well-rounded professional in the economic development field, I’m missing that large scale development, that land development, that site selection which doesn’t happen here in Nunavut for a number of reasons.”

Morrissey will be working with big companies like Dow Chemical and fertilizer company Agrium in what Morrissey calls “Alberta’s industrial heartland.”

“We’re talking like, really large-scale developments in the billions of dollars. For me it’s the experience in my profession that I’m missing by working here in the North,” Morrissey said.

But it means stepping away from politics — one of the more difficult decisions he faced in deciding whether to take the job.

“I wrestled with it for probably close to a week,” Morrissey said.

“Once my family was kind-of on board and behind me, then the next biggest thing was council. I really still feel I’m not fulfilling the commitment I made, and that doesn’t sit well with me,” Morrissey said.

Morrissey, originally from Newfoundland, but a resident of Iqaluit for six years now, was elected as councillor on Oct. 15 2012 with 669 votes — 74 votes ahead of candidate Lewis MacKay.

He’s the second councillor to resign since the Oct. 2012 municipal election.

The late Jimmy Kilabuk resigned this past April. A by-election held this past October to replace Kilabuk saw Noah Papatsie win a seat.

Morrissey feels proud of the work he’s done since being elected over a year ago.

One of the highlights: travelling to the Paris Air Show to promote Iqaluit as a premier cold-weather testing location.

“Projects like the air show where we went out and really pushed the city to a huge international audience. And I’m optimistic that we’ll see the results of that for the next couple of years in terms of increased cold weather testing here,” Morrissey said.

Morrissey is also proud of creating an economic development plan — something he says the city hasn’t had since 2001.

“That final document, once it’s accepted by council, which will hopefully be in March, that really is going to be the roadmap for development in the city,” Morrissey said.

“Our committee was able to move forward and secure the resources from the federal and territorial government and move forward with the economic development plan,” he said.

Other projects Morrissey is hoping Iqaluit will follow through on is the creation of an incubator mall, the new dog bylaw, streamlining the business licensing process and the aquatic centre.

Overall, Morrissey is optimistic the current council can do a good job.

“A lot of people in the beginning, particularly in the first few months, the citizens sort-of wrote us off as we can’t get along,” Morrissey said.

“There’s a little bit of sensationalism about some of the debates we’ve had around the table,” he said. 

“But I think what people kind of miss the point there is that — it’s healthy. It really helps us get to the root of the issues, it really helps us look at all sides of the issues and makes sure there is something we’re not missing.”

Morrissey admits that some arguments can get tense. 

“For example, Kenny Bell and I have had some fierce debates in council chambers. But Kenny and I respect each other.”

“And after some of more of our heated debates, Kenny and I usually go grab a beer.”

Morrissey says the move to Alberta can be reversed. He’s not quitting his job, but taking a year’s leave and also looking to lease his house, so if things don’t work out, he can return.

And Morrissey said he can change his mind within the next week, but admits he’s 95 per cent sure the move will take place.

“This feels like I’m leaving home.”

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