Nunatsiaq Online
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

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 Comment on this story...

(18) Comments:

#1. Posted by Curious on November 09, 2017

How do other jurisdictions deal with DUI charges and convictions?  We’ve had the following charged and convicted while being MLA’s:  Tom Sammurtok, David Joanasie and now Jack who just ran for MLA just last week!

They are our role models, Nunavut leaders who have set a bad example and were not dealt with accordingly….sad!

#2. Posted by Voter on November 09, 2017

Elections Nunavut have to make changes, people who are charged and might go to jail should not be eligible to run for MLA.

This needs to change for future elections.

#3. Posted by not a leader on November 09, 2017

No no no…. the headline is wrong. It says Nunavut leader, present tense. He is no leader.

#4. Posted by qavvigarjjuk on November 09, 2017

#two I agree

#5. Posted by Putuguk on November 09, 2017

Yes yes, let us do away with Section 11 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms presuming innocence.

Next thing that will happen is that Nunavut popular candidates will conveniently be accused of crimes just before the election.

Justice worked. I am sure people did not vote for Anawak because of his looming charges, and he did not win.

What else do people want?

#6. Posted by standing and taking responsibility on November 09, 2017

The change is taking responsibility and anyone wanting to cast the first stone is a hypocrite.

The Federal government denies all wrong doing.  Not only talking heads, the denying Feds talk over heads.

Deny and talk over heads with repeated words after each question to the facts in House of Commons. National Defense Minister, Finance Minister, Prime Minister, Senators, deny and take no responsibility.

Who are the role models and leaders in that group?

#7. Posted by Taxi vs. Beer on November 10, 2017

Here is something that can save you a lot of trouble, take your last price of beer and take a taxi with it.  No court time.  No risk of hitting something or somebody.  You could get elected instead of convicted.

#8. Posted by Voter on November 10, 2017

#5 what if Jack had won? In a case like this, where he failed a breathalyzer and his blood-alcohol level that exceeded 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, I don’t think you can get away with that. His second time to boot.
So if he got elected now he will probably do 30 days in jail, would he have to stepped down from being a MLA?
When something like this is looming over the head of a person it’s pretty clear that the evidence out weighs the innocent. Maybe some common sense should of been used here.
I still think anyone that has been charged and possibly going to go to jail should not be allowed to run as MLA.

#9. Posted by Northern Guy on November 10, 2017

#2 I fully agree with you, those with criminal cases before the courts should not be allowed to run until the case has been resolved. #5, this has nothing to do with the Charter, what would have happened if Anawak had run successfully? A convicted criminal cannot sit as an MLA ... so what happens then? An expensive and unnecessary bye-election is my guess. I would also hazard to guess that his plea would have been very different in that case. Anawak clearly does not have the confidence of the people of Nunvaut as he has been soundly defeated at least three times in recent memory. Time for Anawak to give up any delusion that he is in any way shape or form a leader.

#10. Posted by Shame on November 10, 2017

not a very good example or role model to younger people. Hope we get addictions centers open in Nunavut as we don’t have resources for people to get help.

#11. Posted by standing and talking nonsense on November 10, 2017

#6, The Federal Government, led bu Justin Trudeau who has so far kicked 3 MP’s out of caucus (Scott Andrews,Massimo Pacetti and Hunter Tootoo) for unbecoming behaviour? Seems like they have done more than denying all wrongdoing.

#12. Posted by standing strong on November 10, 2017

#11 The Minister of National Defense repeat a lie twice, Minister of Finance used loop holes for personal gain on public pensions payments, and Prime Minister tax evasion friends all deny wrong doing.

Jack Anawak is standing and taking responsibility unlike the talking heads in Ottawa.

#13. Posted by Knockout Ned on November 10, 2017

I am forever grateful to Jack for leading on issues other people like to take credit for.

Kudos for taking responsibility.

#14. Posted by standing and talking nonsense on November 10, 2017

The Minister of Defense said he was “the arhitect” of a mission instead of “one of the architects…”. Oh my sweet heavens! What a whopper! The Minister of Finance has of yet not been found to have violated any laws or ethics codes. I assume by “Prime Minister’s friends” you refer to one of the Liberal party’s fundraisers, Bronfman who as of yet has not been found to have broken any laws.Trudeau has held his caucus to account far more than his predecessor did namely: Vic Toews, Don Meredith, Mike Duffy, Dean Del Mastro etc., etc., etc.

#15. Posted by Inuk on November 12, 2017

Inuit have all their land claims settled. The way we are treated in this country, we should start thinking of becoming out own country.

#16. Posted by Presto on November 12, 2017

You must be all deaf on here excluding #13, Anawak was the ONLY Leader I have ever heard of who didn’t want to get away with something - read his words then stop and repeat them out loud if you have to. It is clear, whether YOU LIKE IT OR NOT, that he IS a real leader.  I don’t support drinking and driving either but can clearly see the bigger picture.  All you in the peanut gallery with your little pea-shooters totally missed the man’s words to the Judge. Those words are to be admired anywhere, any time.

#17. Posted by Malliki on November 12, 2017

You people are mean you do not even wait for the court to judge you just go ahead and do it for them.  That is evil thing to do.

#18. Posted by Former senior government official on November 13, 2017

With all of the recent media coverage of celebrities calling out a number of Hollywood’s most powerful and influential elitists and garnering a huge amount of public sympathy, one has to wonder why the public does not have the same reaction when their own government officials expose wrongdoings towards its own people.

Nunavut has lost its commitment to its governing principals and the public have become sheep to an overbearing and often callous government in which it’s politicians remain unaccountable.

Respect for Nunavut will only return when the people of Nunavut respect those who put their lives on the line to protect their safety and security.

A quick indication of whether the government is committed to open and transparent discussions about public safety is to have former whistleblowers present all of their information to the legislature. If the government says no, than you have your answer…. Nunavut will remain complicit in the endangerment of its residents.

Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?