An ambulance in downtown Yellowknife in June 2023. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio
The man tasked with rolling out 9-1-1 in the Northwest Territories has admitted attempting to influence Yellowknife’s mayor and council to transfer responsibility for the city’s dispatch services to the territory by deceit.
Ashley Geraghty, 50, was given a conditional discharge and one year’s probation for the charge on October 31. That means a conviction will not appear on his criminal record if he follows probation conditions including 80 hours’ community service.
Geraghty worked for the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs, or Maca, on the implementation and management of 9-1-1, which went live in the territory four years ago. (He has since been dismissed from the GNWT, about which he filed a grievance earlier this year.)
According to an agreed statement of facts filed with the court, Geraghty consistently advocated for changes in the overlap of emergency dispatch services between the territory and the City of Yellowknife. He believed those changes were necessary to best serve patients.
While the territorial government runs the NWT-wide 9-1-1 service, the city operates 867-873-2222, an emergency line that people in Yellowknife can also call for help.
The charge against Geraghty stems from an email he sent to Yellowknife’s council and the International Association of Fire Chiefs on November 8, 2022, attempting to persuade councillors to transfer dispatch services performed by the city to the NWT government.
Geraghty sent the email from an address he created – email@example.com – and signed it “respectfully, Fire Chiefs Association,” despite not being a part of the association nor authorized to speak on its behalf.
In the email, he asserted that the city’s senior administrative officer and director of public safety had not told councillors “the full truth,” claiming the city could save $1.8 million in costs related to its emergency dispatch service.
He wrote: “Don’t let administration fool you because you are new!”
Geraghty also attached a 41-page report to the email titled “9-1-1 risk assessment considerations,” which he had written in his role at Maca. The release of the document had not been authorized by the NWT government.
According to the statement of facts, Geraghty has no memory of creating or sending the email due to his abuse of alcohol at the time, but admits he did so.
The statement adds the city quickly discovered the email was not from the fire chiefs’ association, and had not taken any actions while of the belief that it was.
Additional charges filed against Geraghty – of fraudulently impersonating the NWT fire chiefs’ association and knowingly using a forged document – were stayed by the Crown.
Correction: November 8, 2023 – 15:18 MT. This story initially stated that Ashley Geraghty received a conditional sentence. In fact, he received a conditional discharge.