Whitehorse Daily Star

Everybody's pretty shaken by it'

The MLA for Copperbelt has been charged with sex crimes.

By Whitehorse Star on April 26, 2004

The MLA for Copperbelt has been charged with sex crimes.

On Friday afternoon, the Yukon RCMP's major crimes unit charged Haakon Arntzen with four counts of indecent assault on a female and one count of assault.

The charges are against two females. Three of the indecent charges plus the assault charge are against one female, while the other indecent charge is against the second.

The incidents which the charges came out of allegedly took place between 1972 and 1980.

The Yukon Party MLA was released by police Friday evening with the condition he not contact either of the two females.

Arntzen, 57, was elected to represent the Copperbelt riding in the Nov. 4, 2002, election.

He won the riding, which covers the southwestern section of Whitehorse, for the Yukon Party with 374 votes.

Arntzen had the fourth-smallest margin of victory of the 12 Yukon Party MLAs. He won the riding by 62 votes over realtor Arthur Mitchell of the Liberal party and by 111 over New Democrat Lilyan Grubach-Hambrook.

Prior to entering politics, Arntzen had been a local businessman.

Arntzen was born in Norway and served in the Norwegian Army before immigrating to Canada in 1968. He first lived in Haines Junction before moving to Whitehorse.

In the government of Premier Dennis Fentie, Arntzen has sat with the backbenchers, although he was appointed last October to lead a caucus committee reviewing regulatory rules.

The only times when Arntzen's voice has been heard in this government have been when he has spoken to motions and major bills like budgets.

No elected member of the Yukon Party government would speak to the media today.

However, cabinet spokesman Peter Carr read a statement from Fentie:

'This is a very serious matter. The government was informed of the charges late Friday afternoon. I've since spoken with Mr. Arntzen about this situation. The government is now taking some time to consider next steps.'

The Star has learned Arntzen will not be in his backbench chair, which is right behind Fentie, this afternoon.

The possibility of some charges coming against Arntzen has been rumoured in political circles since the 2002 election.

An RCMP press release indicates the charges were first reported to the police in 2003.

NDP Leader Todd Hardy spoke with his caucus this morning about the situation.

'Everybody's pretty shaken by it,' said Hardy. 'It's very disturbing news.'

'I'm saddened. These are really serious charges,' said Liberal Leader Pat Duncan.

Both opposition leaders noted the Yukon Party must decide whether Arntzen remains in the caucus or at least as an MLA.

Hardy wonders if Arntzen can operate as an elected member while the charges loom over him.

'There's the moral question Mr. Arntzen will have to struggle with,' said Hardy.

'Keep it in mind these are charges. He hasn't been found guilty.'

The riding Arntzen represents includes Hillcrest, McRae, Pineridge, Lobird, Granger and part of Copper Ridge.

He will make his first court appearance on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.

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