Constituency assistant apologizes for sign tampering
A member of Julie Green’s team who tampered with a rival’s signs during the NWT election has been revealed to be her constituency assistant of the past four years, Craig Yeo.
Green defeated Arlene Hache by 291 votes to 260 to remain Yellowknife Centre’s MLA for a second term.
On September 24, the CBC reported a member of Green’s team had removed an Arlene Hache sign from a door at Northern United Place, replacing it with one of Green’s signs.
Green told the broadcaster that campaign member – who was initially unidentified – had “acted on their own and inappropriately,” saying she “neither directed nor condoned” the action.
At the time, Yeo – who formally ceased to be Green’s constituency assistant as the election period began, instead working for her re-election campaign – did not respond to a request for comment from Cabin Radio.
However, a letter of apology written by Yeo and provided to Cabin Radio states he accepted responsibility.
“I am writing to offer my apology for tampering with the candidate election materials that were posted at the homes of two of your supporters,” Yeo wrote in a letter addressed to Hache, dated September 27.
“In doing this, I know I caused them and you harm in hurt and anxiety and damaged your right to have a voice in the current election. I did this on a stupid impulse without forethought and respect for you or for the harm I would cause.
“I know that this action was wrong and I am ashamed and regretful of the harm I have caused you, and to the trust of others including my duty to the community.”
Yeo offered in the letter to apologize in person.
Approached again on Friday, Yeo said he had issued apologies to Green, Hache, and “the two persons I wronged.”
Yeo said he had “no idea” whether he would return as Green’s constituency assistant for the next four years.
Yeo is an experienced constituency assistant, having managed the offices of both Green and Frame Lake MLA Kevin O’Reilly between 2015 and 2019. O’Reilly narrowly won re-election this week, though the district’s result is subject to a recount.
“I had assumed it was an over-eager campaigner who was unaware but that is not the case,” said Hache, adding Yeo would have been “fully aware of the rules.”
Section 296 of the NWT’s Elections and Plebiscites Act states: “A person who, without authority, takes down, removes, covers up, mutilates, defaces or alters campaign advertising materials is guilty of an offence.”
Hache was deeply critical of Green during the campaign, alleging she had failed to listen to constituents during her first term in office.
“From my perspective, you have to be able to be open to conversations – and that has not been my experience with the candidate from Yellowknife Centre,” said Hache last month.
Green responded by telling Cabin Radio: “I dealt with hundreds of constituency issues that were brought to my attention by individuals and I was able to resolve them satisfactorily in most cases. I consulted people about issues that were being debated in the Legislative Assembly. So I feel that I did listen to people and I did provide them with good service as an MLA.”
Correction: October 4, 2019 – 9:36 MT. This article initially referred to Craig Yeo as Julie Green’s campaign manager. Yeo subsequently said by phone he did not hold that title during Green’s re-election campaign. This article has also been amended to reflect that constituency assistants cease their role, by law, during election periods.