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 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 689

The Chair Jane Groenewegen

Thank you. For the motion, four. Against, two. Abstentions, six. The motion is carried. Proceeding with our next motion. Mr. Morin.

Committee Motion 37-13(7): Establishment Of Constitutional And Electoral Reform Commission
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

July 28th, 1999

Page 689

Don Morin Tu Nedhe

Thank you, Madam Chairperson.

I move that this committee recommends that the government introduce legislation for passage during the 13th Legislative Assembly to establish a Northwest Territories Constitutional and Electoral Reform Commission.

And further, that the Legislation give the commission a broad mandate and require the commission to develop a comprehensive constitutional and electoral reform proposal for consideration by the public at a constitutional conference by June 30, 2002.

And, furthermore, that the legislation require that recommendations for reform be submitted for approval by all Northwest Territories voters in a binding referendum.

And, furthermore, that the legislation required that any electoral or constitutional legislative changes approved by the Northwest Territories voters in a referendum be introduced for passage prior to the dissolution of the 14th Assembly. Thank you, Madam Chairperson.

Committee Motion 37-13(7): Establishment Of Constitutional And Electoral Reform Commission
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 689

The Chair Jane Groenewegen

Thank you, Mr. Morin. The motion is in order. To the motion. Mr. Morin.

Committee Motion 37-13(7): Establishment Of Constitutional And Electoral Reform Commission
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 689

Don Morin Tu Nedhe

Thank you, Madam Chairperson. One of the common themes up and down the Mackenzie Valley when Justice de Weerdt made his ruling was that we have to come up with a political solution. These are items of constitutional change for the Northwest Territories that have to be decided by politicians, elected people and the people. That is the reason why this committee motion is in place. No one needs a history lesson around this, some have made a livelihood on the development of a constitution for the past 20 years. Politicians of the day have all tried, including the leaders of the aboriginal governments, to build a constitution that truly reflects all the people's needs in the Northwest Territories. What people have said up and down the valley is that we need something else. We total disagree with Bill 15 but the judge has said you have to do that. We need something to accompany that. Bill 15 is legislation. You need companion legislation. You need something else that is as powerful as that to convince us that you want to work with the people of the Northwest Territories to build a constitution. That is the reason this committee has brought this motion forward. You cannot leave this up to the 14th Assembly.

There is nothing stopping the 13th Assembly from doing this to show the people in the Northwest Territories that they are committed to building a constitution and a new Western Territory. The government are the only people that can do this. They have the resources, they are mandated to bring forward legislation. We cannot bring forward an ordinary Member's bill. Only the government can action this request by the people. I will hear soon whether the government decides to action the request by the people or reject it. I will hear that soon when the Premier speaks, but I would encourage, for once, to listen to what the people are saying and action the request. It is a process that involves all the people in the Northwest Territories. Some will say, I know that already, and it is too costly. It is going to cost money. Well it is going to be far more costly to do nothing. Far more costly.

You will get such division, so much mistrust, that when you talk to the aboriginal governments there is no way they are going to work with you unless you show some good faith. Madam Chairperson, one of my jobs through this process was to consult with the aboriginal leadership, that was my job, to phone every one of them to see if this was an acceptable solution and they have all said yes, it is acceptable. The Aboriginal Summit is going to meet tomorrow as well, to discuss this, and they made it very clear that they are surprised when the Premier mentioned through the media this week that this intergovernmental forum is now taking the place of constitutional development. No one knew that. This is the forum, this is the process. It you are going to develop a constitution, you cannot do it on an ad hoc basis. This is the first time in our history that we are actually putting a timeline, you are getting people to buy in and they are trying to meet it. So with that I would be interested in hearing the government's comments as well as other Members, but my time is up.

Committee Motion 37-13(7): Establishment Of Constitutional And Electoral Reform Commission
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 689

The Chair Jane Groenewegen

Actually, your time is not up. I forgot to reset the time. You have about seven minutes left. To the motion. Mr. Ootes.

Committee Motion 37-13(7): Establishment Of Constitutional And Electoral Reform Commission
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 690

Jake Ootes Yellowknife Centre

Madam Chairperson, I would like to move a motion that we extend sitting hours to conclude this item and conclude Bill 15.

Committee Motion 37-13(7): Establishment Of Constitutional And Electoral Reform Commission
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 690

The Chair Jane Groenewegen

Thank you, Mr. Ootes. The Speaker, before he left the House, used his authority to put us into the committee of the whole for as long as we want until we bring forth a motion to report progress. That is accepted by the majority. Thank you, but I do not think we need a motion. I think we are here until someone makes a motion to report progress that is carried. Thank you. To the motion. Mr. Antoine.

Committee Motion 37-13(7): Establishment Of Constitutional And Electoral Reform Commission
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 690

Jim Antoine Nahendeh

Thank you, Madam Chairperson. Madam Chairperson, on the Constitutional Electoral Reform Commission, the final recommendation is for the establishment of a Constitutional Electoral Reform Commission. While Cabinet agrees with the need for a process to work in constitutional and electoral reform in the Northwest Territories this process will require a wide-reaching consensus from across the Northwest Territories to be successful. Another constitutional process driven solely by the Government of the Northwest Territories will not be successful. It is our view that the best forum for pursuing consensus on constitutional development is through an intergovernmental forum and this is for pursuing consensus. Such a forum would allow for a candid exchange of views between all governments in the Northwest Territories on the issue of constitutional development.

More importantly, it will allow for wide-ranging input into the process that would be put in place and the development of a broad consensus on the issues that need to be examined. Cabinet concurs with the intention of this recommendation and we are committed to raising this issue of a priority basis in the intergovernmental forum process. The development of a consensus from amongst all stakeholders would allow for a broadly supported recommendation on a constitutional and electoral forum process to the 14th Legislative Assembly. Thank you.

Committee Motion 37-13(7): Establishment Of Constitutional And Electoral Reform Commission
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 690

The Chair Jane Groenewegen

Thank you, Mr. Antoine. Mr. Henry.

Committee Motion 37-13(7): Establishment Of Constitutional And Electoral Reform Commission
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 690

Seamus Henry Yellowknife South

Thank you, Madam Chairperson. Madam Chairperson, I will not be able to support this motion. This recommendation has been available for just a few days and the mover of the motion has suggested that he has talked to all the aboriginal leaders or a number of aboriginal leaders and they all agree, I would like the same courtesy extended to talk to my constituents to see how they feel about the rather large spectrum that this motion would encompass. I believe that it has wide-ranging implications and I feel all people in the Northwest Territories should have input into it and not be making a decision on something that has been before this House or committee for less than a week now. I thank you for that, Madam Chairperson.

Committee Motion 37-13(7): Establishment Of Constitutional And Electoral Reform Commission
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 690

The Chair Jane Groenewegen

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

Committee Motion 37-13(7): Establishment Of Constitutional And Electoral Reform Commission
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 690

Jake Ootes Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Madam Chairperson. I too will be voting against the motion. The motion does have very wide implications and requires, in my opinion, a consensus of all peoples of the Northwest Territories and I do not believe that everyone has been consulted on this. I concur that the objective should be this, but to again put it within legislation I do not believe is at this time appropriate and therefore I will be voting against it. Thank you.

Committee Motion 37-13(7): Establishment Of Constitutional And Electoral Reform Commission
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 690

The Chair Jane Groenewegen

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

Committee Motion 37-13(7): Establishment Of Constitutional And Electoral Reform Commission
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 690

Roy Erasmus Yellowknife North

Thank you, Madam Chairperson. I have heard that this should be something that all of the people should be involved in. That is precisely what we are trying to do. We are trying to get all of the people involved in this. We are recommending equal representation on this commission. By that I mean an equal amount of aboriginal people to an equal amount of non-aboriginal people. I do not think this has ever happened before. The last constitutional process that we went through, the vast majority of people on there were aboriginal people. If that was one of the problems, and that will probably continue to happen if something like this is not put in place, and this was one of the recommendations that came from an aboriginal leader which we have adopted. This is not something that we have concocted out of the blue. Politicians have been trying to do this for years and years and years. There has never been a deadline. There has never been anything put in place, such as legislation, to say how it will be done. One of the problems with the last process too was that it was like a revolving door. One day one group or one government would be represented by someone. At the next meeting they would be represented by someone else. At the next meeting it would be a different government that would be represented by someone else. How can you try to work consistently when you are always explaining things to new people?

This is another thing that we are saying. You have to have dedicated people. When we went around, this is what people were telling us. They want something put in place immediately. They want this government to act and to show that they are doing something. It has taken almost two years now to work on this political protocol, and there is nothing there. Why should anybody think anything else is going to happen out of this other process? This will be taking things out of the hands of the politicians. You would have dedicated people working on this, an equal amount of aboriginal people, an equal amount of non-aboriginal people. Maybe the two sides could select a chairperson they agree on. Whatever they come up with, you bring that to a constitutional conference. You have people from all over the Northwest Territories at that conference. From there the conference comes up with something that the whole of the Northwest Territories votes on. Then you implement it. Now, that is involving the people of the Northwest Territories. But, no, I guess it is not meant to be, because we certainly cannot implement it. There is only one group of people in the Northwest Territories that can, six people, and they are not sitting over here.

Madam Chairperson, I do not know if the Cabinet understands just how deep of a division, rifts, I should say, amongst the peoples of the Northwest Territories through Bill 15 and the court cases. People need to be assured that something is in place, something concrete, not a promise that something is going to happen. They need something they can actually hang their hat on, and that is why we want legislation, not only for this but for the 2-2-2 proposal as well. Promises or inferences, speeches that something will be done in the future, hopefully by the next Legislative Assembly, I do not think that cuts too much mustard with those people out there. Thank you, Madam Chairperson.

Committee Motion 37-13(7): Establishment Of Constitutional And Electoral Reform Commission
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 691

The Chair Jane Groenewegen

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