This is page numbers 661 - 692 of the Hansard for the 13th 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 yellowknife.

Topics

Committee Motion 35-13(7): Supreme Court Legal Preference To Clarify Sections Of The Constitution And Charter Of Rights
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 685

The Chair Jane Groenewegen

Thank you, Mr. Henry. To the motion. Mr. Antoine.

Committee Motion 35-13(7): Supreme Court Legal Preference To Clarify Sections Of The Constitution And Charter Of Rights
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Jim Antoine Nahendeh

Thank you, Madam Chairperson. Madam Chairperson, this recommendation requests the government to pursue the issue of a legal reference to the Supreme Court of Canada on a matter that has already been decided by a lower court. Frankly, given the complex legal issues involved in putting such a reference before the Supreme Court of Canada, we have only had the opportunity to do a cursory review of the recommendations in the short time available. Our earlier reviews raise more questions than answers. Madam Chairperson, if this motion passes, we will provide a more formal and detailed response to Members of this House after we have the opportunity to do a thorough legal review.

While I have the opportunity, I would note for the record that this government has already invested a great deal of time and financial resources on this matter. In addition to our own costs, we have agreed to contribute funding to both aboriginal intervenors and the Friends of Democracy from both the original hearing and the appeal. We did so in the belief that both sides of this debate deserve a full and fair hearing. Mahsi.

Committee Motion 35-13(7): Supreme Court Legal Preference To Clarify Sections Of The Constitution And Charter Of Rights
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 685

The Chair Jane Groenewegen

Thank you, Mr. Antoine. To the motion. Mr. Erasmus.

Committee Motion 35-13(7): Supreme Court Legal Preference To Clarify Sections Of The Constitution And Charter Of Rights
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Roy Erasmus Yellowknife North

Thank you, Madam Chairperson. I am not really sure what the Premier said. I heard the part about spending a lot of money. I guess they are going to get more legal advice. Anyway, I hope it is not equivalent to the legal advice that said that the Summit members would be able to get leave to appeal, because that was dead wrong.

On the spending of money, I do not imagine that this government would not be able to spend any money, because they would have to make legal presentations if this was going to proceed. I suspect they would anyway because they have a fiduciary obligation to protect the interests of aboriginal people, and they could not leave such a ruling that is so -- I cannot find the right word. It is not really clear, I guess. It is not clearly worded. It is an obligation on this government to clarify this issue because we do have a fiduciary obligation to protect the interests of aboriginal people. We cannot allow future lower courts to follow an improper interpretation of Justice de Weerdt's comments, if it is improper. It is very easy to take it that way, that those sections should not be read together. I cannot say that voting in favour of this motion would not incur money, because I do not see how they could do it unless they urge the federal government to do it, but then they did not make any presentation themselves. I would expect that we would make a presentation but it would likely cost money. Thank you.

Committee Motion 35-13(7): Supreme Court Legal Preference To Clarify Sections Of The Constitution And Charter Of Rights
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 685

The Chair Jane Groenewegen

Thank you, Mr. Erasmus. Mr. Morin.

Committee Motion 35-13(7): Supreme Court Legal Preference To Clarify Sections Of The Constitution And Charter Of Rights
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Don Morin Tu Nedhe

Thank you, Madam Chairperson. Indeed this motion would cost the territorial government dollars for sure, but it is money well invested. The aboriginal governments cannot do this. Only this government can do this and with the federal government. If you believe in aboriginal people's rights, then

there should be no question that you would do that. It is publicly stated that this government supports the inherent right of self-government, that it supports aboriginal governments. Well, it should appeal to the federal government to take this issue and this question to court on behalf of the aboriginal people. There is too much of a cloud being left out there hanging over aboriginal people's heads because of a court decision made in the Northwest Territories. To clarify the issue, to be responsible as a government, you should go to the federal government. I have no doubt in my mind there will be a thousand reasons from the Justice department why you should not. Then it boils down to making a political decision again, your decision. It is a political decision. That is what you are, is politicians. You have to make a decision on whether you are going to represent all the people or just accept it and represent a few.

Committee Motion 35-13(7): Supreme Court Legal Preference To Clarify Sections Of The Constitution And Charter Of Rights
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 686

The Chair Jane Groenewegen

Thank you, Mr. Morin. I have Mr. Krutko to the motion.

Committee Motion 35-13(7): Supreme Court Legal Preference To Clarify Sections Of The Constitution And Charter Of Rights
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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David Krutko Mackenzie Delta

I, too, support the motion on the principle that, because of the de Weerdt decision, basically there is a real cloud over exactly what the clarification or definition is of the section 35 rights for a lot of the land claim agreements and self-government agreements in regard to section 25 and how aboriginal people have special rights in regard to the Constitution of Canada. Also through those rights flow the treaties which presently exist in the Northwest Territories. We have land claim agreements which have been basically settled under section 35. Also, the self-government agreements, once they are concluded, will have to be protected somehow through the Constitution. I think if you only read it in the context of the Charter of Rights, there is definitely a grey area that is going to be there because there will be aboriginal institutions established through land claim agreements and there will be institutions established through the self-government agreements. There will be the question about delivering programs and services and whose rights override other people's rights.

I think if you use the precedent that has been set in this court case, there is no real protection there for aboriginal people if this is the reading of the law as it stands right now. I strongly encourage the government to move on this as soon as possible and get the clarity that everybody wants in the North, to see exactly what is meant by aboriginal treaty rights and also what protection aboriginal people have with the land claim agreements and self-government agreements they are going to negotiate. I, for one, feel that it is imperative that this not only needs clarity for the Northwest Territories but for other places in Canada, including the Yukon and the provinces, where there are now aboriginal claims being settled. I think this could have a long-term implication if it is not clarified as soon as possible. Thank you.

Committee Motion 35-13(7): Supreme Court Legal Preference To Clarify Sections Of The Constitution And Charter Of Rights
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Jane Groenewegen

Thank you, Mr. Krutko. To the Motion. Question has been called. All those in favour of the motion? All those opposed? Thank you. The motion is carried. Mr. Krutko.

Committee Motion 36-13(7): Regional Representation On Cabinet (2-2-2 Proposal)
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

July 28th, 1999

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David Krutko Mackenzie Delta

I move that this committee recommends that the government introduce legislation to amend the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act to provide that the Executive Council of the Northwest Territories consists of six members;

And further, that the amendment to the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act require that there be regional representation on Cabinet as follows:

- two Cabinet Members selected from the constituencies of Nunakput, Inuvik West, Inuvik East, Mackenzie Delta, Sahtu, North Slave;

- two Cabinet Members selected from the constituencies of Nahendeh, Deh Cho, Hay River North, Hay River South, Thebacha, Tu Nedhe and,

- two Cabinet Members selected from the constituency of Yellowknife;

and furthermore, that the government introduce the amendments to the Legislative Assembly Executive Council Act to implement regional representation on Cabinet and to specify the size of Cabinet for passage before dissolution of the 13th Legislative Assembly.

Committee Motion 36-13(7): Regional Representation On Cabinet (2-2-2 Proposal)
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Jane Groenewegen

Thank you. The motion is in order. To the motion. Mr. Ootes.

Committee Motion 36-13(7): Regional Representation On Cabinet (2-2-2 Proposal)
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Jake Ootes Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Madam Chairperson. In principle I am not against the idea of establishing a recommendation to have the so-called 2-2-2 for our Executive Council. There is some concern in my mind that there may be a desire to have a Cabinet of larger size, and if this was a recommendation, even a strongly worded recommendation, then I could support it, but I cannot support a recommendation that would put this into legislation. I feel that we should not bind a future Legislature as to how it should govern itself or how it should be made up. As I say, I could accept this if this was a recommendation and I would support it, but because the motion is to change the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act, for that reason I cannot support the motion. Thank you.

Committee Motion 36-13(7): Regional Representation On Cabinet (2-2-2 Proposal)
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 686

The Chair Jane Groenewegen

Thank you, Mr. Ootes. To the motion. Mr. Antoine.

Committee Motion 36-13(7): Regional Representation On Cabinet (2-2-2 Proposal)
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Jim Antoine Nahendeh

Thank you, Madam Chairperson. Madam Chairperson, the committee proposes the implementation of legislative amendments to provide for regional representation on Cabinet. Cabinet concurs with the review of the committee that the regional representation based on the 2-2-2 model, set out in the committee report allows for a good balance between all regions of the Northwest Territories. Such a model would ensure that all regions have an adequate voice in decision-making at the Cabinet level. Traditionally, decisions concerning the size, composition and selection of Cabinet have fallen within the purview of incoming Members of the Legislative Assembly. In most jurisdictions, reference to the Premier and the Executive Council are not even set out in legislation. In our system, Madam Chairperson, this type of representation has always been established by convention.

Prior to division, this Legislative Assembly established a convention that ensured four Ministers would be elected from amongst the 14 Members of the western caucus and four Ministers from the ten Members of Nunavut caucus. This was a convention established and honoured through several Assemblies and the terms of office of many different Members. During the clause by clause review of this Bill in committee, it was suggested to me that the 2-2-2 model could not be established in this manner because no such convention exists at this time. Another argument put forward was that under the proposed electoral boundaries, one region could essentially control the Cabinet selection process. Cabinet has considered these arguments and those set out in the committee's report. In our view, the convention must begin somewhere, and a good place to start is the beginning of the 14th Assembly.

With respect to the argument that one region can control the selection process, this is of course possible. I would note that it was also possible during previous Assemblies for the western caucus to dominate the Cabinet selection process based purely on numbers. This never occurred. Madam Chairperson, whether this was the result of goodwill of Members or because in our system, Members are elected as individuals with individual political views, is a question open to debate. In truth, there was probably a little of both. We believe that future Members of the Legislative Assembly would continue to ensure that regional interests are represented in Cabinet. Members of Cabinet fully endorse the 2-2-2 model proposed by the committee and are of the view that such a model will be adopted as the convention for the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories. Madam Chairperson, we believe that a political convention based on the 2-2-2 model of regional representation could be achieved through a formal motion of this House recommending this proposal to the 14th Assembly. This motion and the report of the Standing Committee could be provided to Members of the 14th Assembly in the transition report traditionally prepared for incoming Members. Madam Chairperson, the committee also proposed to enshrine the size of the Cabinet at six Members. We feel that this is a determination that incoming Members of the 14th Assembly should make. Mahsi Cho.

Committee Motion 36-13(7): Regional Representation On Cabinet (2-2-2 Proposal)
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 687

The Chair Jane Groenewegen

Thank you, Mr. Antoine. To the motion. Mr. Krutko and then Mr. Henry. Mr. Krutko.