December 4, 2018 7:59 pm
Updated: December 5, 2018 8:09 am

NDP seeking answers on college board appointment of man with multiple convictions

Advanced Education Critic Carla Beck.

Advanced Education Critic Carla Beck.

Brandon Gonez / Global News

Advanced education critic Carla Beck is wondering how a man who plead guilty of assault was also appointed to the board of Northlands College. Beck said the victim was Vincent Natomagan’s wife.

The board appointment came from Saskatchewan’s cabinet under the recommendation of Advanced Education Minister Tina Beaudry-Mellor.

Vincent Natomagan pleaded guilty to the assault on Nov. 14 and was given a conditional discharge.

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Natomagan was appointed to the Northlands board through an order in council dated Nov. 1.

“It was a concern that was brought forth by a number of members of the community,” Beck said.

READ MORE: Sask. government introduces domestic violence police disclosure legislation

Through court documents, Beck said they managed to confirm that Natomagan had a long history of assaults prior to the recent guilty plea. Between 1989 and 2009 he has been convicted 12 times of crimes including assault, theft, uttering threats and failing to comply with probation orders.

“In a province that is struggling with domestic violence – the highest rates in the country, two times the national average – particularly dangerous for women in the north with regard to domestic violence,” Beck said.

When Beck raised this during question period, Beaudry-Mellor said she was unaware of Natomagan’s past and the recent guilty plea. She said the issue would be looked into immediately and Natomagan will be removed if her office confirms what the NDP has raised.

READ MORE: Northlands College takes over university education in northern Saskatchewan

“To be honest with you today was the first time that I had heard about criminal convictions, particularly with respect to domestic violence and I’m mortified,” Beaudry-Mellor said.

The minister owned responsibility for the appointment of Natomagan. She said he was recommended by people in the community and had an impressive resume, particularly his economic development background, and was from Pinehouse Lake – a community they wanted represented on the Northlands board.

When candidates for provincially appointed boards are vetted, Beaudry-Mellor said they are weighed on skill, geographic representation, demographic representation, inclusivity and a “skills matrix.”

She said criminal record checks are not ordinarily part of these appointments, but that should be a conversation government has going forward.

Beaudry-Mellor also serves as Status for Women minister, and said domestic violence is an issue she holds in high importance.

“Especially in the north where we have really high rates of domestic violence, interpersonal violence, it’s the wrong message to send. So to say that I’m horrified would be an understatement,” Beaudry-Mellor said.

“I was glad to hear that the minister said she would do something about this, because it has to be done. This is not a message that we can send to any community in the province that that is acceptable,” Beck said.

Natomagan sought the Saskatchewan Party nomination in 2016 for the Athabasca riding, but withdrew his name.

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