This is page numbers 93 - 113 of the Hansard for the 12th Assembly, 7th Session. The original version can be accessed on the Legislative Assembly's website or by contacting the Legislative Assembly Library. The word of the day was nunavut.

Topics

Members Present

Mr. Allooloo, Mr. Antoine, Mr. Ballantyne, Hon. Nellie Cournoyea, Mr. Dent, Hon. Samuel Gargan, Hon. Stephen Kakfwi, Mr. Koe, Mr. Lewis, Mrs. Marie-Jewell, Ms. Mike, Hon. Don Morin, Hon. Richard Nerysoo, Hon. Kelvin Ng, Mr. Ningark, Mr. Patterson, Hon. John Pollard, Mr. Pudlat, Hon. John Todd, Mr. Whitford, Mr. Zoe

---Prayer

Item 1: Prayer
Item 1: Prayer

Page 93

Clerk Of The House Mr. David Hamilton

Members of the Legislative Assembly, I am required to convey the following communication that I received on December 15, 1994 from Madam Speaker Marie-Jewell:

"I would like to inform you and, through you, all Members of the Legislative Assembly of my decision to tender my resignation as Speaker, effective at 5:00 pm today. I have already informed the Management and Services Board of my decision in a meeting held today over the lunch hour.

"As you are aware, an issue of significant importance has arisen affecting my constituency. This issue has placed me in a position where I have been compelled to challenge the fairness of a Cabinet decision and the integrity of a Cabinet Minister in order to fully represent the interests of my constituents and, I suggest, the interests of all citizens of the Northwest Territories.

"I have a great deal of respect for the role of the Speaker, in particular, the strongly-held convention that the Speaker must not only be neutral and impartial, but must be seen to be neutral and impartial. Hence, out of respect for the institution of the Speaker and as a result of my desire to fully represent my constituents, I hereby tender my resignation.

"I would like to say that it has been an honour and a privilege to serve as Speaker. I look forward to continuing to serve the House, even if in a different role." Signed, Jeannie Marie-Jewell, MLA, Speaker.

Accordingly, it is my duty to conduct an election for the Speaker. I would call for a motion to elect a Speaker. The honourable Member for Yellowknife Centre.

Motion 6-12(7): Election Of Speaker, Carried
Item 1: Prayer

Page 93

Brian Lewis Yellowknife Centre

I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Inuvik, that Mr. Gargan, of the electoral district of Deh Cho, take the chair of this House as Speaker.

Motion 6-12(7): Election Of Speaker, Carried
Item 1: Prayer

Page 93

Clerk Of The House Mr. David Hamilton

Are there any further motions? Being no further motions, all those in favour of the motion, please indicate. All those opposed? The motion is carried unanimously.

---Carried

---Applause

I, therefore, declare that the honourable Member for Deh Cho, Mr. Gargan, has been elected Speaker of the House. I would request the mover and seconder of the motion to escort the Speaker to the chair.

---Applause

Speaker's Opening Comments

Motion 6-12(7): Election Of Speaker, Carried
Item 1: Prayer

Page 93

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Honourable Members, I beg to return my humble acknowledgements to the House for the great honour you have been pleased to confer on me by choosing me to be your Speaker.

If these words sound familiar, they have been said not only here in this House by my predecessors, but also for the last 100 years or so in Canada and for over 700 years in the British House of Commons and many other parliamentary democracies. Perhaps this is an appropriate way for every Speaker to begin because, in my experience, if you start to tinker and tamper with the traditional way of doing things, the lesson you learn is that no matter how you try to modify or improve tradition, it has certain integral values which perhaps you did not at first fully appreciate. I tried to put it into my own words, but it did not come out as well, no matter how I tried to change it. So, perhaps the lesson is that some traditions are more that just simple convention and have other, more important, values attached to them.

Traditions are important in any culture, and nowhere is this truer than in the Northwest Territories. I will do my best to uphold the many procedural and cultural traditions that have been established throughout the years and be respectful of the traditions that all Members bring with them when they are elected to serve the people of the Northwest Territories.

Sometimes the work we do here appears to be a battle for individuals' advantage, but all of us realize, I trust, that what is done here is extremely important work on behalf of all the people of the Northwest Territories; not only for the individual rights but, in addition, as an example to all that change must be brought about through the process of law and order in a proper, democratic way. Thus, every meeting we hold here should be an example to our people.

With the honour you have bestowed upon me by electing me as your Speaker, of course, goes an obligation to do the job to the best of my ability. It goes without saying that I will give it my best effort at all times. I would like to assure all Members that I place the fulfilment of this obligation ahead of every other consideration. Whether it be a question of individual or collective politics, personal considerations, friendships or otherwise, this obligation at all times comes first, and I will fulfil this role the best I can. I will not always make everybody happy, however, if I can carry out this role to the best of my ability without losing the respect and the goodwill that you have extended to me at the start, I will feel that I have done a good job.

On a personal note, since this may be the last time I will get a chance to make a personal comment, I would like to thank my wife, Alphonsine, for her understanding and patience as, yet again, I take on a new challenge. I know that her support and that of my children, which I cannot do without, will make the months ahead bearable and pleasurable.

Once again, I respectfully thank you for the honour of being named your Speaker, and now I would suggest we get on with the business before us today. Mahsi cho.

---Applause

Item 2, Ministers' statements. Point of privilege, Mrs. Marie-Jewell.

Point Of Privilege

Motion 6-12(7): Election Of Speaker, Carried
Item 1: Prayer

Page 94

Jeannie Marie-Jewell Thebacha

Congratulations, Mr. Speaker. I wish you well in your new responsibility, but that's not my point of privilege.

Mr. Speaker, I want, today, to express a point of privilege as a Member of this House. Yesterday, when I arrived in Yellowknife at the airport, I was greeted by a sheriff who presented me with a statement of claim filed by Don Morin.

Mr Speaker, the effect of this matter is twofold. First, I feel, as an elected Member, the filing of a lawsuit against me results in my inability to discuss this matter, to express it in plain language. The bottom line is the effect may be to keep me quiet as a result of this sub judice convention.

Mr. Speaker, I fully recognize the rules of this House do not allow for Members to speak with regard to issues which are before the courts, particularly when you review rule 409 section 9 of Beauchesne's which states: "A question cannot deal with a matter that is before a court."

Further, Mr. Speaker, in Beauchesne's, the sub judice convention section 505 states, and I quote: "Members are expected to refrain from discussing matters that are before the courts or tribunals which are courts of record. The purpose of this sub judice convention is to protect the parties in a case awaiting or undergoing trial and persons who stand to be affected by the outcome of a judicial inquiry. It is a voluntary restraint imposed by the House upon itself in the interest of justice and fair play."

However, section 506, the first part, states: "The sub judice convention has been applied consistently in criminal cases." The second part states: "The precedents in criminal cases are consistent in preventing reference to court cases before a judgment is rendered; however, the convention ceases to apply

after the judgment is given...Nevertheless, the convention is applied again when an appeal is launched."

More importantly, Mr. Speaker, section 507(1) states: "No settled practice has been developed in relation to civil cases, as the convention has been applied in some cases but not in others." The second part of section 507 indicates, and I quote, "In civil cases the convention does not apply until the matter has reached the trial stage."

Mr. Speaker, according to section 507(2), my case is a civil case and has not, as of yet, reached the trial stage as my notice of claim has only been served on February 14, 1995.

Mr. Speaker, further, the sub judice convention in Beauchesne's section 510 states, and I quote: "The Speaker has pointed out 'that the House has never allowed the sub judice convention to stand in the way of its consideration of a matter vital to the public interest or to the effective operation of the House.'"

The second part of my point of privilege, section 511 states: "The freedom of speech accorded to Members of Parliament is a fundamental right without which they would be hampered in the performance of their duties. The Speaker should interfere with that freedom of speech only in exceptional cases where it is clear that to do otherwise could be harmful to specific individuals."

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt each elected Member of this Assembly, and any other elected Members of any Assembly of the land, enjoy a fundamental privilege of freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is a cornerstone to our democratic process which we all enjoy as Canadians.

Mr. Speaker, having said that, more importantly my fundamental freedom of speech as an MLA has been threatened and it has been hindered. My point of privilege as an elected Member, I feel, is my fundamental freedom of speech to speak out on behalf of the interests of my constituents which has been impeded upon as a result of the lawsuit filed by Mr. Morin. The possible effect of this lawsuit is that I could be constrained from speaking vigorously as I have in the past on behalf of my constituents of Thebacha on other issues lest I again be faced with another lawsuit.

Mr. Speaker, I respectfully request you rule on my point of privilege. Thank you.

Motion 6-12(7): Election Of Speaker, Carried
Item 1: Prayer

Page 94

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mrs. Marie-Jewell. I have been advised I have two options here to either have a debate on it; or else take your point of privilege under advisement. You do have a number of sections in your point of privilege that would have to be looked at, and I will take that under advisement. Thank you, Mrs. Marie-Jewell.

Item 2, Ministers' statements. Madam Premier.

Minister's Statement 12-12(7): Minister Absent From The House
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 95

Nellie Cournoyea Nunakput

Mr. Speaker, I wish to advise the Members that the Honourable Silas Arngna'naaq will be absent from the House today and tomorrow to attend a Keewatin education conference in Arviat. Thank you.

Minister's Statement 12-12(7): Minister Absent From The House
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 95

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Madam Premier. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Mr. Pollard.

Minister's Statement 13-12(7): Budget Address
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 95

John Pollard Hay River

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Good afternoon and congratulations. Mr. Speaker, I give notice that on Monday, February 20, 1995, I will deliver the budget address. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 13-12(7): Budget Address
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 95

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Pollard. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements.

Mr. Lewis.

Parliamentary Democracy
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 95

Brian Lewis Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Let me be the first, under Members' statements, to congratulate you on your election by your colleagues -- which is very important -- to the very significant job of Speaker of our Legislative Assembly.

You still have to convince many northerners, Mr. Speaker, that parliamentary democracy, which is what we practice here, is one of the great inventions of mankind. It provides a place where people's voices can be heard in very many different ways. If you just look at our order paper, you can see how many ways in which voices can be heard. It seems to me strange that so many northerners have failed to see what an incredible invention parliamentary democracy really was, when we look at its long history and how it has developed. You've been a Member of this Legislative Assembly for 11 years, Mr. Speaker, and I believe you fully understand and appreciate what an incredible invention it really is. Because, without straying too far from the basic principles of democracy, it remains a very flexible system which can be accommodated to any circumstance in any country in any part of the world.

If you look at the members of those groups that practice parliamentary democracy, you realize how many countries really are in the group of countries which appreciate this wonderful invention. We seem to take in so many inventions, yet fight so much about this one. I know you will uphold all the good traditions of the parliamentary system, Mr. Speaker. I am sure we will continue to add several wrinkles of our own as we accommodate it to our special needs.

There is still much work to be done to convince northerners that there is little wrong with the system, Mr. Speaker. In the long run, what will matter is the quality of our representatives and the use to which those representatives put this system to make it work. We put our trust in you, Mr. Speaker, and I know it is very well placed. You are known as a straightforward, just man and you will do everything you can to uphold those traditions and do everything you can for the advancement of all our peoples. Thank you.

---Applause

Parliamentary Democracy
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 95

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Lewis. Item 3, Members' statements. Mr. Ng.

Election To Cabinet
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 95

Kelvin Ng Kitikmeot

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Firstly, I would like to formally congratulate you, as well, on your election as Speaker of this House. I'm sure you'll do an excellent job.

I would like to also thank my honourable colleague from Natilikmiot, Mr. Ningark, for nominating me for the position of Cabinet Member and thank all other Members of this House who participated in the process of selecting the Cabinet Member. It is a very important process that we go through. I also want to thank the mayor of Cambridge Bay, Mr. Larry Aknavigak; and, of Coppermine, Mr. Donald Havioyak; members of the Kitikmeot Regional Council; Mr. James Eetoolook, the first vice-president of NTI; my constituents; and, last but not least, my family members who supported me morally in putting forward my name to stand for a Member of Cabinet.

I would also like to thank Mr. Lewis for putting forward his name as a candidate for Speaker, and Mr. Pudluk and Mr. Patterson for putting forward their names for Cabinet Members. It gave us, as I said previously, the freedom to choose. Finally, I would like to thank everybody for the trust that they have placed in me in electing me as a Cabinet Member. I commit to working hard in trying to represent the interests of all residents of the Northwest Territories. Thank you.

---Applause