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Report on Hawkins complaint in New Year

Mike W. Bryant
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 09/05) - The NWT's chief electoral officer says his report into whether a Yellowknife MLA violated the NWT Election Act by not reporting a banner-covered motorhome on his election expenses will be ready sometime in the New Year.

Glen McLean declined to talk specifics but said an investigator with SecureCheck has been hired to question all the parties involved, including Yellowknife Centre MLA Robert Hawkins, and complainant and election runner-up, Annemieke Mulders.

McLean said the intention was to get a report completed sooner, but he doesn't want to rush the investigator. He said scheduling conflicts and difficulties getting a hold of people have slowed the investigation down.

"I thought we would've been completed before Christmas so I'm not even going to guess," said McLean.

"I'm not going to put any pressures on these guys to get it done on a certain date. We want to make sure we cover all the bases."

The complaint centres on Hawkins' use of a RV motorhome owned by Daryl Dolynny, whom Hawkins called a supporter. It was seen on several occasions during the November, 2003, election campaign with a large Hawkins banner on its side.

Hawkins admits that he never claimed the vehicle's use as an election expense, but said it wasn't a cash donation and his banner was on the side of the motorhome for less than two weeks.

He said he asked the electoral officer at the time whether it was a problem and got no response.

Hawkins said he spoke to the territorial government-appointed investigator recently, and wants to get the probe behind him.

"All he said to me was that he won't be phoning me for several weeks," said Hawkins.

"It makes it kind of difficult to get this over with. I'd kind of like to get it out in the open and dealt with."

Mulders also spoke with the investigator. She said it was her impression that the motorhome was used as a campaign vehicle during the election. She wants to know whether it should have been included in Hawkins' campaign expenses.

Mulders, with 167 votes, finished second in the election to Hawkins' 207 votes.

"It never occurred to me that it wouldn't have been included in his statement," said Mulders.

"It wasn't until I was made aware that it hadn't been accounted for that I grew concerned."

Mulders said many people contacted her and urged her to write a letter of complaint. When asked if Hawkins should lose his seat if McLean rules that the motorhome should've been reported, Mulders said it was not for her to determine.

"I just have an interest, as I believe many do, that the rules are followed," said Mulders.

Hawkins could be fined, jailed and lose his seat if McLean decides that the motorhome is an unreported contribution.

Dolynny could not be reached for comment.