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Candidate says she's the victim of 'sniper attack'
MLA's briefing report outlines reporting irregularities at Centre for Northern Families

Galit Rodan
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Yellowknife Centre candidate Arlene Hache claims she is the victim of a "sniper attack" after a leaked MLA briefing note surfaced pointing to reporting irregularities at the government-funded family shelter she has run for many years.

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Arlene Hache: Candidate feels she is the victim of a "sniper attack."

Hache, the long-standing executive director of the Centre for Northern Families, took to social media sites after receiving a forwarded e-mail Thursday containing a scanned copy of a confidential MLA briefing note regarding ongoing fiscal challenges faced by the centre under her leadership.

The briefing note states, among other things, that the Department of Education, Culture and Employment found the Centre for Northern Families "allocated 11,933 beds whereas funding was provided for a total of 12,932 beds over the two-year period it was reviewed. This means that ECE provided funding for 999 bed spaces that were never allocated."

The government pays the shelter $42 per bed used.

The department also found instances of double-dipping, detailing accounts of 10 women who accessed Income Assistance "throughout the time they stayed at the emergency shelter" from September 2008 to August 2010.

"My understanding is that (the document) went to one specific MLA," said Tim Mercer, clerk of the legislative assembly, though he would not say to whom.

The document, which was altered to remove the identification of the MLA who requested it, was also anonymously dropped off at the Yellowknifer office Thursday evening. Hache does not know how many other people received it.

She said she could not respond to the briefing note because she is on leave from her position as executive director and "it would be totally inappropriate." She did confirm, however, she returned the copy she received to the GNWT and also passed the information to the centre's board of directors.

"The concern I have is that an MLA used his job to gain information that ordinarily he wouldn't have access to in an attempt to derail the campaign," said Hache. "My only question would be, who would benefit?"

Her lone competitor, incumbent Robert Hawkins, said he was not responsible.

"I'm careful with the word deny because deny means I'm defending myself ... All I'll say is that I didn't do this and this is negative campaigning."

Hawkins said he "absolutely" feels victimized by the circumstance "because I don't come out a winner on this at all.

"Now it's a negative tone against my campaign. This is another attack against me."

Hache remarked on Twitter Friday that the briefing note was requested only recently.

"Confirmed 1 MLA asked GNWT for briefing note on Centre for Northern Families to be prepared just before the writ was dropped," she wrote.

Hawkins, however, said he is "confident" he hasn't received any updates on the Centre for Northern Families since the spring, though allows for the possibility that he may have been sent something he doesn't remember.

Hawkins also spoke to the number of people that have access to such confidential information.

"When you request information ... Five, six people could look at it before it's drafted.

"There are more and more hands that continue to touch these things."

Despite the setback, Hache is now exploring her options for recourse. She has laid a formal complaint with Mercer.

"From my perspective I viewed that as an abuse of power and an inappropriate use of taxpayers' dollars ... I want the departmental time spent in preparing that briefing note to count in the campaign expenses of whoever that MLA was," she said.

Mercer told Yellowknifer that he would not be pursuing an investigation.

"Because the document didn't originate with the legislature and was never before a committee ... It's outside the jurisdiction of the House to deal with it," he said.

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