Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, with only six days left to division I would like to set the record straight. Putting aside the issues of whether to appeal or not to appeal, the decision of Justice de Weerdt on the matter of our Electoral Boundaries and the aboriginal rights issue, I believe that we, the 14 Members who on April 1st will be the NWT Legislative Assembly, will not be unconstitutional. I believe that Justice de Weerdt would never intend for the Legislative Assembly and its duly elected Members to be put into a constitutional vacuum. I believe that a clarification should have been sought of his decision on the matter of the April 1st deadline. Mr. Speaker, I am of the opinion that, in declaring the three electoral districts of Yellowknife North, Yellowknife South and Hay River to be invalid and without force or effect in law, that Justice de Weerdt, knowing that the next general election was to be held in October, 1999, set the April 1st date to meet a six-month implementation provision in the Elections Act.
Mr. Speaker, Justice de Weerdt wanted the Legislative Assembly to fix the problem of representation in time for the next election and that any changes that were made to our boundaries would normally not come into effect until after the dissolution of this Assembly. So, Mr. Speaker, I feel we should seek clarification from Justice de Weerdt that this is what he meant. I also suggest we do indeed seek an extension of the time as this Legislative Assembly has, in good faith, introduced Bill 15 that is before a standing committee of this House. This will allow for constructive input by all residents and will be brought back for consideration of the Assembly. In the meantime, it is my understanding that on Monday morning at 11 o'clock legal counsel for our government will meet with Justice de Weerdt with a request to vary his order to allow us more time. Pending his decision, if we are unsuccessful, an appeal, not on the merits of the ruling, but regarding the timing of the judgment, will be immediately filed with the Appeals Court.
I want to make it clear that neither Bill 15 or the granting of a variance will affect the ability of the Aboriginal Summit to seek leave to appeal this ruling, and our advisors tell us that this opportunity would in all likelihood be granted. If we as legislators fail to show any movement on this court ruling, I think we could be judged by our electorate as being less than responsible. By failing to act, we would be allowing ourselves very little latitude to enact a political solution and will allow our options to be dictated by the courts. I do not believe that we should be abdicating our responsibility to the courts. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.