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MLA Zoe quits legislature

Andrew Raven
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (June 01/05) - Nearly seven weeks after being convicted of resisting arrest, North Slave MLA Henry Zoe resigned Monday, citing a need for personal reflection.

NNSL Photograph

Embattled North Slave MLA Henry Zoe resigned his seat Monday, seven weeks after being convicted of resisting arrest.

"I feel a need to make a new start in my life," Zoe said during a brief statement in the legislative assembly. "It was an honour and privilege to have been chosen by the people of the North Slave. I have not taken this responsibility lightly."

A by-election is expected within the next couple of months.

Zoe's resignation came as fellow MLAs pondered a possible vote to remove Zoe, formerly Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs, from his seat.

Zoe was found guilty of resisting arrest in April, his fifth conviction since the late 1970s. His record includes entries for theft, assault and impaired driving.

According to testimony at his trial, an intoxicated Zoe struggled with police after they responded to a domestic disturbance complaint at his Yellowknife home.

Fellow MLAs could have voted to expel Zoe following the conviction. Yellowknife Centre MLA Robert Hawkins suggested a motion would have been brought forward had Zoe not resigned.

"Mr. Zoe took the appropriate steps," Hawkins said Monday.

Sahtu MLA Norman Yakeleya called the resignation "honourable. Above all, he saved us lots of turmoil."

Kam Lake MLA Dave Ramsay wouldn't say if a formal removal motion to remove Zoe was discussed, but said the MLA "was not pushed. He did what he had to do. This is quite sad."

Zoe left the assembly immediately after his resignation, which came just minutes into Monday's session. He did not return a telephone call.

Premier Joe Handley called the situation disappointing. "It is always regrettable when an MLA has to step down."

Zoe spent most of the current session in silence.

He was the only regular member not to make an opening statement or pose oral questions during the first three days of the assembly.

Zoe was first elected to the legislative assembly in 1987 and served until 1994. Prior to winning the North Slave seat in 2003 territorial election, Zoe worked for Diavik Diamond Mines and was an executive member of the Dogrib Treaty 11 Council.

Second MLA to go

Zoe was also a former Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs.

He lost the portfolio last summer after reportedly making an inappropriate comment about Newfoundlanders during a Yellowknife talent competition.

He becomes the second member of the current assembly to resign under a cloud of controversy. Former Inuvik MLA Roger Allen stepped down last fall, amid allegations he misspent a lucrative housing allowance.

Months later, Allen was convicted of sexual assault and sentenced to four months in jail.