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Quassa pleads guilty to drunk driving

Neils Christensen and Kathleen Lippa
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Dec 01/03) - Paul Quassa, former president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., admitted that he has a substance abuse problem in Nunavut Justice of the Peace Court on Nov. 21.

NNSL Photo
Paul Quassa

Quassa pleaded guilty to one count of impaired driving.

When the RCMP pulled Quassa over on Oct. 17, he was taken to the detachment and given a breathalyser test.

In two tests, Quassa's blood level was recorded at 160 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood and 150 milligrams per 100 millilitres. The legal limit is 80 milligrams.

Dressed in a simple white shirt and jeans, Quassa looked remorseful when he addressed the court.

"I will regret this for the rest of my life," he said.

"I have been very irresponsible because of my substance abuse," he said. "I have a weakness and I realize that I have to stay away from those weaknesses."

During his address, which was two pages long, Quassa never looked up.

He said with the help of his family, he is trying to change his life for the better. "I have made a commitment to my family to set a good example," he said.

Because of the incident, he said he has no intention of ever driving again. "I won't get another drivers license for the rest of my life," he said.

Quassa ended his address by apologizing for his actions.

"I want to apologize to the people who I have affected," he said. "I want to apologize to the community, the courts... and my family."

Quassa is taking steps to resolve his problems and said he regularly attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and is becoming more involved in the community.

He also told the court he wanted to reach out to youth.

"I want to talk to people, youth and whoever cares to listen on the effects of substance abuse."

Quassa was fined $600 for his impaired driving charge, which must be paid in six months. His license has been suspended for a year.