NEWS: Nunavut October 26, 2011 - 5:31 am

Sudliq told to cease fuel delivery while awaiting appeal

"Why have an appeal board if it doesn't mean anything?"

JANE GEORGE

This week, on the last day of October, Louie Bruce, the owner of Coral Harbour’s Sudliq Developments Inc., took the license plates off his fuel delivery trucks and prepared to hand them over to the Government of Nunavut.

Bruce continues to fight the GN’s decision to grant the fuel delivery contract in Coral Harbour to another party — but, although his appeal his pending, he’s been asked to stop delivering fuel at the end of the month.

That is not fair, Bruce said.

Bruce filed an appeal last month with the Nunavummi Nangminiqaqtunik Ikajuuti appeals board against the GN’s decision to grant the fuel contract to the Katudgevik Co-op Ltd. in Coral Harbour.

Bruce’s 100-per-cent Inuit-owned company, Sudliq Developments Ltd., had held that contract for 25 years.

The NNI policy is the GN’s instrument for complying with Article 24 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, which says governments must do things to help Inuit-owned businesses get government contracts.

But section 18.25 of the NNI policy reads “notwithstanding that an appeal is pending, the Contracting Authority, in its discretion, may enter into a contract with the successful Bidder or Proponent.”

Bruce said Oct. 25 that he’s upset that the GN is moving ahead with the transfer of the fuel contract to the co-op before the NNI appeal board has made a decision.

“Why have an appeal board if it doesn’t mean anything?” Bruce asks. “It’s a waste of money for the taxpayers.”

Bruce hasn’t even heard anything about when his company’s appeal hearing will take place.

And no one from the GN or NNI has spoken to him directly, or addressed him in his first language, Inuktitut, he said.

While his company hires Inuit, he’s surprised that the GN has no Inuktitut-speaking employees to talk to him more about what’s happening now.

“I’m really upset that this kind of thing is happening to me. I hope someone helps me.”

Bruce said he’s already been forced to tell workers who have been with him for 10 years or more that he’s laying them off.

“It’s very hard for me because I love my workers. I want to keep them,” he said.

Coral Harbour needs those jobs, he said — and his company’s fuel contract helps keep him and 10 full-time workers employed throughout the winter.

At the very least, the GN should extend Sudliq’s contract until its appeal is heard, Bruce said, questioning whether some GN workers understand the plight of Inuit in small Nunavut communities like Coral Harbour.

“I can’t grow lettuce or bananas or apples like people down there [in the South],” he said. “There are people in the government who come from down there who don’t understand our situation. They don’t get it. They don’t understand they need a private sector in the community, and the private sector needs these government contracts to survive.”

Killing the private sector — small, locally-owned business, like Sudliq or Cambridge Bay’s Adlair Aviation Ltd., which also has not heard the results of its appeal, is a bad move, Bruce said.

“They have to keep the private sector alive to keep jobs in the community,” he said. “We beneficiaries, we never thought we would get this kind of government.”