Willard Hagen has resigned as Deputy Minister of Lands after accusing an NWT election candidate of being a racist in public online comments.
Hagen called Kevin O’Reilly, who is campaigning for re-election as the MLA for Frame Lake, a “raciest asshole” [sic].
The Premier of the Northwest Territories, Bob McLeod, said in a short statement on Wednesday: “I have accepted Willard Hagen’s resignation as Deputy Minister of Lands today.”
McLeod wrote: “Mr Hagen’s personal remarks do not reflect the views of the Government of the Northwest Territories, nor are they consistent with our expectations of a professional and respectful public service.
“I will not be commenting further on this matter.”
Hagen declined to comment when reached by Cabin Radio on Wednesday morning.
However, he earlier told the CBC: “I totally regret it but sometimes you know you’re just … [in] the heat of the moment. It’s not appropriate at all.
“I probably won’t have a job tomorrow.”
Hagen’s comments appeared beneath a public post by politician Jackson Lafferty. The post itself was deleted after several hours on Tuesday.
The comments directly contravened the NWT government’s code of conduct, which states senior bureaucrats must not publicly criticize any candidate during an election period.
O’Reilly told Cabin Radio he did not believe the comments were worth a response.