Yellowknife City Council has formally censured Coun. Niels Konge for comments he made during Governance and Priorities Committee meetings on Sept. 27 and Nov. 1.
“I feel that the most appropriate action is a censure, as a censure is a formal public group statement that denounces an individual’s actions that run counter to the group’s acceptable standards for individual behavior,” said Mayor Rebecca Alty on Feb. 28. “In both cases, Coun. Konge has apologized and recognized that his statements were wrong. The comments, while not intended to be racist, present a casual racism that cannot be tolerated by the City of the Yellowknife.”
On Nov. 1, Konge compared a proposed proof-of-vaccine program with racial segregation policies. On Sept. 27, he drew a parallel between small business problems caused by the pandemic and the Sixties Scoop, when Indigenous children were removed from their homes and sent to live with non-Indigenous foster parents, disconnecting them from their culture.
Through the Cities, Towns and Villages Act, which governs Yellowknife City Council, a councillor breaching the code of ethics can result in a public censure or removal of said council member from a meeting.
“We don’t support the comments that were said at the council that evening and hoping to move forward,” said Coun. Robin Williams. “So just wanted to throw my support behind madam mayor’s comments and be supportive of that.”
Konge’s controversial comments were initially brought before the Governance and Priorities Committee on Feb. 14, when the municipal integrity commissioner’s report was introduced. The commissioner found Konge to be in violation of articles 4.2 and 4.3 of the council code of ethics bylaw.
Coun. Shauna Morgan also supported the motion.
“I think it’s important to keep in mind that this is not about labelling people as racist or anything like that … the idea is just to identify when something inappropriate is done and just say the action is not appropriate,” she said.
Coun. Steve Payne was the only one who opposed the reprimand during the evening meeting with a full quorum.
“There’s not an ounce of me that thinks that there was any negative intent on Coun. Konge’s behalf,” Payne said.
Konge did not speak during the meeting.