Former Nunavut politician faces new impaired driving charge

Jack Anawak, NDP candidate in the 2015 federal election, stopped by police in June


Jack Anawak, a former Liberal MP who ran as an NDP candidate in the 2015 federal election, is facing impaired driving charges from June incident. (FILE PHOTO)

Jack Anawak, a former Liberal MP who ran as an NDP candidate in the 2015 federal election, is facing impaired driving charges from June incident. (FILE PHOTO)

A former Nunavut politician and candidate in the last federal election, Jack Anawak, has been charged with two counts of drinking and driving, stemming from an incident alleged to have occurred in Iqaluit this past June.

The RCMP charged Anawak, 66, with one count of operating a vehicle while impaired, as well as failing a breathalyzer test while operating a motor vehicle.

That allegation implies that his blood alcohol level is alleged to have exceeded 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.

Police allegedly pulled over Anawak while he was in his vehicle in Iqaluit on June 16, according to documents filed with the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit.

Anawak did not attend his first appearance to answer to the charges at the Nunavut Court of Justice, Aug. 10, but provided Justice of the Peace Nicole Sikma with a letter explaining his absence.

Sikma did not read the letter in open court, but set aside the matter until Sept. 14. However, on his Facebook page, Anawak said he was in Ottawa undergoing surgery for a kidney that he donated to his sister,

Anawak was convicted of one count of impaired driving in 2013, after he pleaded guilty.

He was later fined for driving a vehicle while prohibited, stemming from a court-ordered driving prohibition from his earlier impaired driving conviction.

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.

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.

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