The Hamlet of Enterprise no longer has a mayor and is short one councillor after a pair of recent resignations.

When reached by phone on Thursday, former mayor Malcolm MacPhail declined to give a reason why he resigned as of March 15. 

“I’m mostly keeping those reasons to myself,” he said. “Likely the deputy will have to take over now and so now there will be two vacancies. 

“I think they will have to go for another election.”

MacPhail would only hint that people living in the community would understand why he quit. 

“Anyone paying attention around here would have a pretty good idea why,” he said.   

“(Former councillor) Barb (Hart) has her reasons why she resigned, some of which I agreed with, and I have my personal reasons.”

No one at the gate: the former mayor and councillor in Enterprise won’t say why they abruptly quit. Another councillor who remains said she would “be in trouble” for speaking with the press. NNSL file photo

Hart, elected to Hamlet of Enterprise council in December, resigned in early February but she and the hamlet remain tight-lipped as to why she made that decision. 

The hamlet held a municipal election on Dec. 14 where Hart ran for mayor in a two-way race against winner MacPhail. She was defeated in the vote count, 22-20. 

She subsequently ran for councillor, which she’s allowed to do under the NWT’s Local Authorities Election Act. 

Hart’s attempt at the six-member council position had to be settled in a random draw as per the act because there is no bylaw in Enterprise on what to do when a tie vote occurs. 

“Barb was unsuccessful in her bid for the mayor position and was successful in the councillor position after her name was pulled out of a hat because of a tie vote with another individual,” stated Jay Boast, communications spokesperson with the GNWT Department of Municipal and Community affairs in a March 12 email. 

“The pulling of a name out of the hat is directed by the Local Authorities Election Act (LAEA), unless the hamlet had a bylaw identifying what to do in the situation of a tie vote.”

Hart has since provided the municipality with a resignation letter, however she did not read it aloud and NNSL Media has been unable to obtain a copy from either the municipality or MACA. 

The reason does not have to be given why a resignation is submitted, even on such short notice, according to Boast. 

When reached by email, Hart declined to give an explanation. 

“I am sorry but I am not wanting to be interviewed on this matter,” she stated. “I wrote my concerns in my letter of resignation as well as discussed them with MACA before I left.” 

Enterprise hamlet council, like other municipalities in the Northwest Territories, can resolve a vacancy by holding a byelection, giving the vacancy to the next person in line from December’s race or leaving the position vacant.  

Senior administrative officer Tammy Neal said in an email that the hamlet has chosen not to fill the seat. 

“The seat will be left vacant until the next general election in December 2021,” Neal stated. “Normally the hamlet has six councillors and a mayor.”

NNSL Media left messages with all Enterprise hamlet councillors seeking an explanation for the sudden turn of events. 

Only Coun. Sandra McMaster replied in a brief email stating that she is unable to talk to the press “or I would be in trouble.”

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin College and the University of Ottawa. Simon can be reached at...

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