NG min­is­ter re­moved and sanc­tioned

Rachel Saun­ders feels pun­ish­ment is too harsh

The Labradorian - - Front Page - BY EVAN CAREEN

The Nunatsiavut Gov­ern­ment (NG) is­sued a press re­lease on Nov. 28 stat­ing Rachel Saun­ders, the Or­di­nary Mem­ber for Hopedale, was the sub­ject of two for­mal com­plaints and was found guilty by a dis­ci­plinary com­mit­tee of three breaches of the Code of Con­duct for Elected Of­fi­cials.

She was or­dered to apol­o­gize to the Hopedale Hous­ing Com­mit­tee (HHC), the Nunatsiavut As­sem­bly, her con­stituents, and staff mem­bers who were present dur­ing a meet­ing she at­tended. She was also given a one-week sus­pen­sion as an Or­di­nary Mem­ber.

Saun­ders, the for­mer Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment, is say­ing the pun­ish­ment im­posed upon her is too harsh and she feels she’s be­ing treated dif­fer­ently than other peo­ple who were sanc­tioned in the past.

“I’m not go­ing to agree to it,” San­ders said. “I don’t know what hap­pens then. I asked the Speaker (Ed­ward BlakeRud­kowski) what hap­pened if I didn’t fol­low it and he said it was manda­tory.”

Ac­cord­ing to Saun­ders, when she at­tended the meet­ing of the HHC that is in ques­tion, it was in re­la­tion to a fam­ily mat­ter and she was not there in her of­fi­cial ca­pac­ity as min­is­ter.

“I was there be­cause they were try­ing to take our fam­ily home and I got up­set,” she said. “I was just there as a fam­ily mem­ber try­ing to get it fixed.”

In terms of the pun­ish­ment, Saun­ders ref­er­enced a for­mer mem­ber of the As­sem­bly who had sim­i­lar com­plaints and sim­ply had to write a let­ter of apol­ogy. She doesn’t un­der­stand why a stricter pun­ish­ment is be­ing levied on her.

“It should be equal. If he just had to do that why should I do this?” she said.

Saun­ders told The Labradorian she would like to see an in­ves­ti­ga­tion or in­quiry about the trans­parency of the NG and the pro­to­cols they fol­lowed in deal­ing with the Code of Con­duct com­plaints against her.

“If the Nunatsiavut Gov­ern­ment is hon­our­ing trans­parency with open­ness hon­esty and ac­count­abil­ity then they should have no is­sue with an in­ves­ti­ga­tion as to how they deal with code of con­duct com­plaints and its pro­cesses,” she said. “I would like to know the steps they have used in my case. I find it sad that our own gov­ern­ment can so eas­ily deem our own peo­ple ‘unreasonable’ and do not sup­port the very peo­ple who want to help the Inuit in mat­ters that af­fect the lives of the Inuit.”

Ac­cord­ing to the re­lease from NG, two of the breaches of the act in­volved Face­book posts.

“The Face­book post put out by Ms. Saun­ders im­plied that an in­jus­tice had been per­pe­trated by the Hopedale Hous­ing Com­mit­tee (HHC) and that a mem­ber of her fam­ily was the vic­tim of that in­jus­tice,” the re­lease read. “Ms. Saun­ders post ig­nored the fact that the HHC had pre­sented valid rea­sons for their de­ci­sion and out­lined pol­icy which jus­ti­fied their con­clu­sion and as such prop­a­gated a ‘half-truth’.”

The other breach in­volv­ing so­cial me­dia came af­ter Saun­ders swore in the As­sem­bly build­ing and left a meet­ing in progress. Ac­cord­ing to NG she then aired her frus­tra­tions on Face­book and did not con­duct her­self in an ap­pro­pri­ate man­ner.

The third breach also in­volves the HHC. The re­lease states she used the term “col­o­niz­ers and op­pres­sors” when re­fer­ring to the HHC.

“The HHC board in­cluded el­ders and res­i­den­tial school sur­vivors who were very un­der­stand­ably up­set by this char­ac­ter­i­za­tion,” the re­lease said.

The Nunatsiavut Gov­ern­ment Code of Con­duct for Elected Of­fi­cials states a dis­ci­plinary com­mit­tee can im­pose three sanc­tions; rep­ri­mand, sus­pen­sion with­out pay and rec­om­men­da­tion of re­moval from of­fice.

The Labradorian will pro­vide fur­ther up­dates as they be­come avail­able.

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