Former Nunavut cabinet minister back in court June 4 for guilty pleas

Tom Sammurtok's lawyer says he will not contest impaired charges

By THOMAS ROHNER

Tom Sammurtok, then the minister of CGS, at the launch of construction for the new Iqaluit airport last summer, when he promised jobs for Inuit on the project. (FILE PHOTO)


Tom Sammurtok, then the minister of CGS, at the launch of construction for the new Iqaluit airport last summer, when he promised jobs for Inuit on the project. (FILE PHOTO)

Former Nunavut cabinet minister Tom Sammurtok is expected to plead guilty to two charges he faces relating to impaired driving, Sammurtok’s defence lawyer said in an Iqaluit courtroom May 21.

Sammurtok did not appear at the Nunavut Justice of the Peace Court May 21, but his defence lawyer, Alison Crowe, asked for an adjournment until June 4.

“That will be for an indicated guilty plea at that time,” Crowe told a justice of the peace.

RCMP laid the charges on April 13 against Sammurtok, who still sits in the legislature as MLA for the newly-created Rankin Inlet North-Chesterfield Inlet seat.

On April 14, premier Peter Taptuna stripped Sammurtok of his cabinet portfolios, including the Community and Government Services department.

For about a month afterwards, Sammurtok sat as a minister without portfolio because in Nunavut, only MLAs can remove an elected official from the cabinet.

Rather than wait for that likelihood, Sammurtok resigned his cabinet post on May 5, avoiding a potentially embarrassing non-confidence motion in the legislature when MLAs begin their spring sitting on May 26.

“I realize that I made a mistake and it is not acceptable to put myself or others at risk. I deeply regret my actions, and I am immediately taking steps to seek help and healing from professionals,” Sammurtok said in a statement released shortly after being charged by police.

Sammurtok may face further discipline from fellow MLAs when the legislature reconvenes next week.

“I will accept whatever discipline my colleagues deem appropriate,” he said in the statement.

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