Nunavut MLA gets no jail time for drunk driving, evading police

Ryan Ross
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David Joanasie, 31, is an MLA in Nunavut.

An MLA from Nunavut who fled the police after going the wrong way down a one-way street while driving drunk with one tire flat on his rented vehicle avoided jail time after entering guilty pleas in provincial court in Charlottetown today.

David Joanasie, 31, is the MLA for South Baffin and appeared before Chief Judge John Douglas where he pleaded guilty to failing the breathalyzer and failing to stop for the police.

In sentencing Joanasie, Douglas gave him credit for the night he spent in jail after his arrest and ordered him to pay a $1,200 fine along with $500 in victim surcharges.

Douglas also ordered Joanasie to donate $500 to a Nunavut charity that works with youth and addictions.

The court heard that on July 7 at around 11:45 p.m. someone called Charlottetown police to report a vehicle with a flat tire going the wrong way on a one-way street.

Before they saw the vehicle the police could hear it driving on the flat tire and they could smell burning.

Eventually they tried to pull Joanasie over, but he kept going and sped up to pull away from them as they travelled along University Avenue.

A few minutes later they lost sight of Joanasie’s vehicle before finding him near UPEI where he finally pulled over.

By then the front passenger tire had gone off the rim into the university’s parking lot and the vehicle was parked on the sidewalk.

Breathalyzer tests showed Joanasie’s blood alcohol level was more than double the legal limit.

Joanasie was in P.E.I. on vacation at the time.

Defence lawyer Andrew Coady said his client accepted responsibility, was embarrassed and was remorseful, but when Douglas asked if Joanasie wanted to add anything he replied that he didn’t.

“No comment,” Joanasie said.

In handing down the sentence, Douglas said it was a difficult case because Joanasie was a public servant with no criminal record and lived out of province.

Douglas said he normally would impose additional time in jail for evading the police but he didn’t in this case and instead gave Joanasie a suspended sentence with one year of probation.

Joanasie is also banned from driving for one year.

Organizations: MLA for South Baffin

Geographic location: Nunavut, Charlottetown, UPEI P.E.I.

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Recent comments

  • public servant 1009
    July 29, 2014 - 00:13

    I know working in the public sector has its benefits but as a public servant myself for over eleven years I didnt realize that i can be drunk as a skunk in pei , get behind the wheel and drive drunk out of my mind, put innocent citizens at risk or kill someone, fail to stop for police and then have a judge 'pardon" me for my 'bad' behavior. MLA, premier, senator, prime minister,or friend of someone important, if you commit the crime you should do the time. The families of victims of drunk driving don"t get their loved ones back. It is about time that the gentle island"s legal system catches up to other provinces.

  • Disagree
    July 27, 2014 - 22:17

    Quite a stretch Don. You may be well intentioned. Assuming people who are anti drunk driving are hypocrites and racist? That is strange , and wrong, in my view. Have you ever lost a loved one to a drunk driver? Tell us how that feels if it ever happens to you, but I sincerely hope it never ever does.

  • Don Wright
    July 26, 2014 - 14:53

    A little mercy . What the world needs is a little heart people. So many brave outspoken citizens demanding justice. The finest Judge in this Province or anywhere for that matter is Judge Douglas. Those who don't think so , put your name - your true name, where your mouth is. I for one , am gland it is John Douglas on the bench and not any of you anonymous hypocrites and most probably racist haters of our Native Canadians.

  • Caste system?
    July 25, 2014 - 16:23

    So if this guy hits someone and hurts or kills them while drinking and driving it will sort of come back partially on Judge Douglas indirectly imo Having lost someone to the same, it affects you for life and is a terrible memory to live with. Personally, I think the ruling was a bad one.

  • caste system?
    July 25, 2014 - 16:18

    I like Judge D but this ruling stinks. Rules and punishment should be the same for EVERYBODY and NOT just for a chosen few.

  • Sick and tired
    July 25, 2014 - 12:59

    I am so tired of seeing all of these drunk drivers getting away with a slap on the wrist in PEI. People can die from this crap, its very serious and happens way to often. We need to make some real punishments for people who drink and drive. there is no excuse, taking away their license means f**k all . They obviously didnt care and drove drunk so why would not having a license stop them from continuing to drive. Its time we actually put these people in jail for a good amount of time so they can actually feel like they are being punished instead of a couple days at the sleepy hollow motel.

  • Make me laugh
    July 25, 2014 - 10:10

    PEI courts are such a joke, wonder how Nancy would have handled the sentencing, she is tough but fair anyway. This Douglas sniffed some glue?? I'll be watching for the next similar circumstances involving an islander

  • mr burns
    July 25, 2014 - 10:10

    In handing down the sentence, Douglas said it was a difficult case because Joanasie was a public servant with no criminal record and lived out of province. So a double standard for public servants . I think the crown needs to appeal this to show that you can't come to PEI act like an idiot and because your an MLA get a slap on the wrist.

  • mad as hell
    July 25, 2014 - 04:55

    Time for elected judges?

  • justin
    July 25, 2014 - 01:43

    I recall a similar case with the premier's assistant and he lost his job. Have to wonder if this MLA will lose his job or will his voters ever even know about this.

  • Anne G. Gables
    July 24, 2014 - 19:01

    Come get drunk on OUR Island!

  • Stan Hope
    July 24, 2014 - 18:05

    PEI is to drunk drivers as what Graceland is to Elvis.

  • Typical
    July 24, 2014 - 17:41

    This is a typical case of over compensation. Run like a coward from any controversy that might occur if you actually hold a high profile Inuit accountable.

  • Captain Morgan
    July 24, 2014 - 16:33

    Does he belong to the funny handshake club? nudge nudge wink wink

  • Ban Douglas
    July 24, 2014 - 16:02

    If ever I end up in court, I want Douglas, what a joke. Failing to stop for the police and evading the police to the point he lost them and you credit him the time in jail? WHAT? Donation to a charity in HIS area? Islanders here are the victims! If he should have had a more significant time in jail, then calculate that out into an hourly rate and make every hour worth enough money it hurts him where it counts. If you want to stop drinking and driving, make the first offense strong enough people won't take that chance.

  • SlyFox
    July 24, 2014 - 15:40

    Mr,Douglas states this was a difficult case because the defendant was a public servant,from out of province and no criminal record. What ever happened to mandatory minimum sentencing? Could this not be used as a guideline or does his job play into it ?

  • David
    July 24, 2014 - 15:02

    "In handing down the sentence, Douglas said it was a difficult case because Joanasie was a public servant with no criminal record and lived out of province. Douglas said he normally would impose additional time in jail for evading the police " So basically - if you're an elected official from out of province, come and break our laws! We'll hold you to a different standard than our own citizens. The things we'll do for tourism.

  • What is difficult?
    July 24, 2014 - 14:41

    What difference if he is from out of province or not. He committed the crime in OUR province. Seems like some serious favoritism here.

  • enough already
    July 24, 2014 - 14:16

    Joe Smoe from Cardigan would have got a couple of weeks but because he is an Inuit M.P. from Nanavuk he gets a fine? A few bucks from the right lawyer sure goes a long way in this town. Besides all that what made the case so difficult? He broke the law did he not?

  • Just Stupid
    July 24, 2014 - 13:58

    This is unjust and stupid. When was the last time someone on this Island received no jail time after reading double the legal limit ? I bet if this were Joe Citizen he wouldn't walk ! Double standards for the elite I guess.

  • SomeSense
    July 24, 2014 - 13:46

    This is ridiculous he should be in jail! If I were to do this will I get the same sentence. The fact that he is a civil servant should, if anything, lead to a harsher sentence in my opinion. No priors should not even be taken into account it's not like it was petty theft or something he was drunk driving and very dangerously at that also evading the police. This just make the justice system look so bad and in favour of the better connected (which it is of course) but come on at least try to make it a little less obvious you might as well have thrown him a party to celebrate his behaviour while you were at it.

  • Tsk Tsk Douglas
    July 24, 2014 - 13:41

    That is the exact reason that our justice system on PEI fails families who have all ready suffered with the death of a loved one due to impaired driving. If the "normal" thing to do for evasion of police is jail time, then it should be mandatory jail time. Who cares who you are, where your from or if it is your first offense!!!!

  • voter
    July 24, 2014 - 13:12

    what does a person's residence or job have to do with deciding a sentence for such a popular crime ???????? every convicted drunk driver could also be required to give to a stated charity

    • taz
      July 25, 2014 - 10:56

      everything he did is serious offence, drunk, driving the wrong way on a one way street, trying to evade police. I'm sure the police are happy with the out come after dealing with someone who broke so many laws. how does someone do all that risking public safety and get a slap on the wrist and a pat on the back, it seems the cops do there job and watch this guy laugh all the way home, I would be one ticked off police officer, wondering why he is wasting his time. sad....