News November 2, 2007

Board of Management considers report from Conflict of Interest Commissioner on complaint against former MLA

(Yellowknife) November 1, 2007 – The Board of Management of the Legislative Assembly yesterday considered a report of the Conflict of Interest Commissioner, Mr. Gerald Gerrand, Q.C., regarding a complaint filed against Bobby Villeneuve, the former Member for Tu Nedhe.

The complaint, made by the Honourable Paul Delorey, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly on August 14, 2007, alleged that Mr. Villeneuve might have executed an inaccurate Statutory Declaration indicating his ordinary place of residence to be Fort Resolution, NT for the purposes of obtaining payment of allowances and indemnities that would not otherwise have been available to him.

In his report, the Conflict of Interest Commissioner concluded that, “My investigation indicates to me that the place of residence of Mr. Villeneuve is Yellowknife, that this has been his place of residence since he was elected, and that the Statutory Declarations completed by Mr. Villeneuve indicating otherwise are not factually correct."

The Conflict of Interest Commissioner went on to direct that an inquiry be held before a Sole Adjudicator with respect to the complaint. 

Following submission of Mr. Gerrand's report to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, a general election was held in the Northwest Territories. Mr. Villeneuve was defeated at the poll and ceased to be a Member of the Legislative Assembly on October 1, 2007. As a result, the Board of Management has determined that a Sole Adjudicator no longer has jurisdiction to hold an inquiry into the matter.

The Board of Management is now in the process of examining its legal and administrative options given this development and in the context of the Conflict of Interest Commissioner's report and an earlier report prepared by the GNWT Audit Bureau in August of 2007 at the request of Speaker Delorey regarding the residency of MLA’s. The Audit Bureau report concluded that out of the 1,316 days that Mr. Villeneuve was a Member, he spent 862 days in Yellowknife and 132 days in Fort Resolution. During this time, Mr. Villeneuve received $86,980 in accommodation and other allowances based on his sworn residency in Fort Resolution.

"It is unfortunate that the Conflict of Interest process can not run its full course," commented Speaker Delorey following the Board's meeting in Yellowknife last night. "This being said, the Board now plans to closely examine Mr. Gerrand's findings and the findings of the Audit Bureau with respect to Mr. Villeneuve's residency. There is an onus on all people who hold public office to act in such a manner as to maintain public confidence and trust and not to use their offices for personal gain. The Board of Management has a number of avenues open to recover any funds that may have been inappropriately paid to Mr. Villeneuve and will move quickly to do so if deemed necessary. 

The Board of Management will consider this matter again on Wednesday, November 7, 2007. 

For more information contact:

Paul Delorey, Speaker
Legislative Assembly of the NWT
P: 867-669-2234 or 1-800-661-0784
F: 867-873-0273

Tim Mercer, Clerk
Legislative Assembly of the NWT
P: 867-669-2299 or 1-800-661-0784
F: 867-873-0432
Email: tim_mercer@gov.nt.ca