Inuvik’s deputy mayor, Paul MacDonald, resigned from the position on Wednesday as councillors voiced concern at colleagues’ public criticism of council decisions.
Councillors Rae Solotki and Dez Loreen were told they had broken council’s code of conduct by criticizing council decisions in separate Inuvik Drum reports. MacDonald was also said to have broken the code of conduct but had resigned by the time of Wednesday’s discussion.
Stepping down earlier in the meeting, MacDonald – reading from a prepared statement – made no reference to the matter of public criticism of council.
He said he was resigning as work and other commitments had left him too little time to do justice to the role of deputy mayor.
“To effectively represent the interests of our community, time and commitment are required. Regrettably, I am no longer in a position to afford such commitment,” MacDonald said.
After MacDonald left the meeting, Mayor Natasha Kulikowski moved on to the topic of council’s code of conduct and “reports of breaches that I’ve recently received.”
Those reported breaches included Councillor Solotki and MacDonald, then the deputy mayor, calling for council to go further in reducing the number of meetings, after council had discussed and voted on a set of measures that stripped back some committee meetings.
“I am frustrated by the lackadaisical attitude of council that there is a colossal waste of money and there are a lot of concerns with the administration,” MacDonald told the Inuvik Drum at the time.
“I feel like in times when we are looking at having to increase taxes, or tighten our belts, we should be leading by example and making the most of our time,” Solotki told the newspaper.
Loreen, in a later article documenting his plan to run for mayor, told the Inuvik Drum: “We really dropped the ball with the whole Inuvik sign and the lack of community consultations.” (A new welcome sign for the town, decided upon last year, divided opinion at the time.)
Reading from council’s code of conduct, Kulikowski said it demanded that “all members recognize the responsibility of the mayor to accurately communicate the decisions of council, even if they disagree with such a decision, in order to foster respect for the decision-making process of council.”
Other councillors on Wednesday’s call – Solotki was not present and MacDonald had earlier resigned and left – said Solotki and Loreen had broken the code. They called for a verbal reprimand and a public apology.
“I was shocked to see this kind of stuff show up in the paper,” said Councillor Kurt Wainman.
“We all made commitments to communicate and work together. I thought we were doing this the right way. I really don’t want to ever see this again. It’s disrespectful.”
There was particular concern that some councillors’ public comments appeared to criticize town staff.
“It’s not acceptable. We don’t insult our staff, we don’t insult the council members,” said Councillor Alana Mero.
“We’re here to represent the community. We’re here to do it professionally. We’re not here to hurt each other and especially not here to hurt the staff.”
Councillor Clarence Wood said he would have asked MacDonald to step down as deputy mayor had he not already done so.
Loreen told colleagues he was sorry for his public comments.
“I understand. I understand fully,” he said.
“I was talking to the media about my future plans, and he asked me and I commented on something I shouldn’t have commented on, and I apologize for that.
“I take this seriously and I will be better. Again, I apologize to everybody.”
Inuvik’s next municipal election is anticipated on October 18, 2021.