Frederick Blake Jr., the newly acclaimed Speaker of the legislative assembly, says a vague Facebook apology he posted Nov. 1 was in response to a misunderstanding that blew out of proportion on social media.
In the post, he apologies if he upset anyone "the other day when we went to the mountains." The other day he is referring to is Oct. 28, when he and a friend went caribou hunting just inside Yukon territory.
A Facebook post which the Inuvik Drum was not privy to purportedly claims Blake was receiving special treatment because of his title.
Blake said he was waiting for the Peel River ferry to cross the Dempster Highway while on his way to an area near the Yukon border. A few other hunters were waiting further down the road. About an hour-and-a-half later, Blake was able to cross and proceeded to James Creek. Eventually they came to a point where the road was closed.
Blake said he was allowed through the James Creek road closure by a worker manning the gate and kept going, saying he assumed the same rules applied as when the road was last closed in September when a tanker-truck carrying Liquefied Natural Gas closed the road but hunters were still allowed to use it.
"The road was open on the NWT side, so we never thought anything of it," he said. "We were told as long as we were going hunting we could go by. They did that earlier this fall. I remember because I did a post notifying people that you could cross the gates to go hunting. I just thought it was a similar situation."
Blake said he did not catch anything by his friend shot a few caribou and they shared them.
Nanakput MLA Jackie Jacobson said one of his constituents phoned him about a "concern" but he had spoken to Blake to about it and considered the matter resolved.
Blake said the whole thing was blown out of proportion and whoever lobbed the complaint misread the situation and the whole thing snowballed.
"It's just the pros and cons of social media, I guess," said Blake. "There were people who were waiting in town to go hunting. There was another vehicle 20 minutes behind us and they came across and went up. It wasn't like they only let me across, it's the way it sounded but it's not the case. I never I asked for any special treatment. I don't do that, I was waiting just like everybody else."
The Department of Infrastructure later confirmed that the gate was closed as a courtesy to travelers because it was closed on the Yukon side. They also confirmed a contractor had allowed some people through the gate though were not supposed to.