Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut November 09, 2017 - 1:10 pm

Nunavut leader pleads guilty to impaired driving

Jack Anawak to be sentenced for his crime in January

STEVE DUCHARME
Jack Anawak with then-NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair during Mulcair's visit to Iqaluit prior to the 2015 federal election, when Anawak was the NDP's candidate for Nunavut. (FILE PHOTO)
Jack Anawak with then-NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair during Mulcair's visit to Iqaluit prior to the 2015 federal election, when Anawak was the NDP's candidate for Nunavut. (FILE PHOTO)

Jack Anawak, a former politician and candidate in the last territorial election, pleaded guilty Nov. 9 to operating a vehicle while driving over the legal blood-alcohol limit, telling lawyers at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit that he “accepts total responsibility” for his actions.

The RCMP charged Anawak, 66, with two counts under the Criminal Code of Canada for operating a vehicle while impaired, including failing a breathalyzer test while operating a motor vehicle, stemming from an incident in Iqaluit on June 16.

Anawak pleaded guilty to having a blood-alcohol level that exceeded 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.

In response to the plea, the Crown stayed the remaining count of impaired driving, but gave notice to the court that it will seek greater punishment due to Anawak’s previous impaired driving conviction in 2013.

Anawak briefly addressed the court after pleading guilty, telling Nunavut justice of the peace Calvin Clark that “leaders are no different than anyone else and we must be held accountable.”

“Whatever trauma we have suffered in the past should not get in the way of knowing the difference between right and wrong—I was wrong,” he said.

“Over the years I have witnessed some people in leadership getting away with far too much and I don’t want to be one of those.”

Clark set a sentencing date for Jan. 15.

Under the Criminal Code, a second conviction for impaired driving carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 days in jail and a driving prohibition of at least two years.

Originally from Naujaat, Anawak is a former Liberal MP for the old riding of Nunatsiaq, which covered what is now Nunavut and the Inuvialuit region of the Northwest Territories.

Anawak served as a parliamentary secretary and assistant to the minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development after the Liberal party took power in Ottawa in the 1993 federal election.

He switched to the New Democratic Party during the last federal election campaign in 2015, running for Nunavut’s seat in the House of Commons, and finishing second to Liberal candidate Hunter Tootoo, who now sits as an independent.

When Tootoo resigned from his cabinet positions and was ejected from the Liberal caucus for “addictions issues,” Anawak defended Tootoo’s ability to represent Nunavut as an Independent MP.

In territorial politics, Anawak was elected as MLA for Rankin Inlet North in February 1999, serving in Nunavut’s first legislative assembly after the territory was born on April 1, 1999.

He served as minister of justice, community government, and culture, language, elders and youth.

Anawak also served as an ambassador for circumpolar affairs in Ottawa, before the position was cut by the Conservative government in 2006. He has also served as a vice president for Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

Anawak ran as a candidate in the Nunavut constituency of Aivilik during the 2017 territorial elections, but lost to rival Patterk Netser by 100 votes.

Email this story to a friend... Print this page... Bookmark and Share