Nunavut MLA charged with assault, choking

Joseph Quqqiaq, the Nunavut MLA for Netsilik, has taken a leave from the Legislative Assembly following assault charges. (Submitted by the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut - image credit)
Joseph Quqqiaq, the Nunavut MLA for Netsilik, has taken a leave from the Legislative Assembly following assault charges. (Submitted by the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut - image credit)

Court documents obtained by CBC News show Nunavut MLA for Netsilik faces two assault charges.

Joseph Quqqiaq, 42, from Taloyoak, Nunavut, took a leave of absence from the Legislative Assembly last month in connection to the charges, which are still before the court and have not been proven.

Both stem from Oct. 20 and were for assaulting the same person, according to the court documents. One count of assault was for choking that person.

Quqqiaq spoke about the incident during his member's statement in October, on the opening day of the assembly's fall sitting.

"This is a difficult day for my family and me," he said to the assembly.

Quqqiaq said the incident that led to the charges took place in his home community of Taloyoak, Nunavut, and involved his partner, who he said was also charged with assault. The court documents also prohibit Quqqiaq from contacting the person he is accused of assaulting, except under specific circumstances.

Quqqiaq said after the incident happened, he notified the Legislature's integrity commissioner.

"Mr. Speaker, I do not want my personal situation to be a distraction, which is why I will be returning to my constituency," said Quqqiaq in October.

After Quqqiaq was done speaking, he left the assembly.

CBC received a copy of the charges from Nunavut Court of Justice. Quqqiaq has a history of assault against the same person going back as far as 2012, according to the court records.

Quqqiaq was elected to the assembly for the first time during last year's territorial election.

The clerk of the Legislative Assembly, John Quirke, said in October that Quqqiaq would still be an MLA and would perform his duties as a member from his community, for the time being.

Quirke said if there happens to be a conviction, the assembly as a whole would have to take action.

If the conviction it is by indictment, Quirke said it would be "very clear" in the legislation that Quqqiaq's seat would be declared vacant. If it's by summary, which is usually for less serious offences, Quirke said it would be up to the assembly to decide if it's "within the public interest to expel the member."

Quqqiaq is set to appear in court in his home community of Taloyoak in January.