A Nunavut cabinet minister resigned Wednesday after the territory’s integrity commissioner found the politician breached his duties to be impartial when he appointed his spouse as acting deputy minister.
Adam Lightstone, who was finance and human resources minister, will sit as a regular member of the legislature.
Premier P.J. Akeeagok asked the commissioner to review the situation after some members brought it up in the assembly earlier this year.
Katherine Peterson reported that Lightstone signed off on his spouse’s appointment as acting deputy minister of human resources for a few days in December.
In her report, Peterson found Lightstone acted in good faith, but failed “to give thoughtful and timely consideration” to the possible conflicts and didn’t seek advice.
In a speech to the legislative assembly, Lightstone apologized but said he did not act unethically.
“I think the integrity commissioner’s report speaks for itself. As it states, I did not take advantage of my position,” he said.
Lightstone said he did not request that his spouse be appointed, but the current deputy minister recommended his wife fill the role while the minister went on vacation.
“There is no substance to the allegations that I behaved unethically,” Lightstone said. “In hindsight, I recognize that I should have sought the advice of the integrity commissioner.”
Lightstone said he also raised concerns within his department about the potential conflict of interest at the time and that, because the appointment was made just before the Christmas break, “there were very few alternatives” for other staff.
He criticized fellow legislature members for bringing his spouse into the spotlight, calling it a “shameful attack on a dedicated public servant” that “is beneath the dignity of this assembly.”
“After all she has done for our government, members of this legislature have brought her into the public area and questioned her integrity as well as mine,” he said.
“It is obvious that there are members who hold a grudge against me.”
Lightstone’s spouse is the manager of employee relations in Nunavut’s Human Resources Department.
In a secret ballot vote, government members chose Craig Simailak, the member for Baker Lake, to be the territory’s newest cabinet minister following Lightstone’s resignation.
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