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: 34-13(7): Development Of A Workplan For A Political Accord With Aboriginal Governments
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. The government and the aboriginal governments had, some time ago, wanted to develop a political accord along with the federal government. We actually passed a motion in this House that this should occur. It was supposed to have been completed by now, but for one reason or another, one of them being, of course, that the federal government said that they did not want to be involved. This has not occurred to date. I was supposed to be involved in negotiating, helping to put together a political accord, but I have come to realize that there is very little sense for me to be involved in this because there does not seem to be the will, on the other side of the table, other side of the hall here, to complete this. There has been very little support provided to the Aboriginal Summit to get this done. We have only had one meeting and really, the government has kind of taken off on their own, so they may as well continue on their own.

It is imperative that a protocol be developed and for that reason, we are making this motion. The protocol is needed to go along with Bill 15, although, of course, it is not a companion document, but it should go almost hand in hand so that there is some method for the aboriginal governments to work with this government on policies and various issues like that. But the problem is that there does not seem to be a clear plan or a clear timeline in which to achieve this political accord. If there is, we have not been provided with it. What we are asking now is that the government actually develop a work plan with clear timelines and to provide us with that by September 1st so that we can see what is being done and what is being proposed to be done. Thank you.

Committee Motion: 34-13(7): Development Of A Workplan For A Political Accord With Aboriginal Governments
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Jane Groenewegen

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

Committee Motion: 34-13(7): Development Of A Workplan For A Political Accord With Aboriginal Governments
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. I am in support of this motion. We did pass a motion in this House, as has been referenced earlier, that we work towards a political accord with the aboriginal groups of the Northwest Territories. I must comment, however, that we have been in several meetings, and I have not seen a lot of progress. I am not sure that it is the total fault of this government that, that is the case. Certainly, I think there is a desire, from what I have seen on our government, to proceed with the political accord and I believe that it does need some priority. In the scheme of things of some of some of the recommendations coming forward, this is one that I can support. Thank you.

Committee Motion: 34-13(7): Development Of A Workplan For A Political Accord With Aboriginal Governments
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Jane Groenewegen

Thank you, Mr. Ootes. Mr. Antoine.

Committee Motion: 34-13(7): Development Of A Workplan For A Political Accord With Aboriginal Governments
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Jim Antoine Nahendeh

Mahsi, Madam Chairperson. Madam Chairperson, as indicated, I will be making remarks on every one of the recommendations that the committee is putting forward. As a result, Madam Chairperson, there has been a great deal of discussion, over the past several years, concerning the political accord between the Government of the Northwest Territories and the aboriginal governments. While the Members of this Assembly and Cabinet have consistently supported the negotiations of a political accord, previous negotiations have not met with success.

I am very familiar with this issue because early in my tenure as Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, I led negotiations on behalf of this government with members of the Aboriginal Summit on a statement of political relations. While several representatives of aboriginal governments initialled a draft agreement, we could never reach a final agreement that met the interests of all parties. More recently, Mr. Erasmus, Mr. Dent, and myself were tasked by Caucus to make another attempt at an accord with the Aboriginal Summit but still with no success. For this reason, the government has invested its time and resources, over the past several months, to build support for an intergovernmental forum. Such a forum would bring together representatives of the public, aboriginal governments to discuss issues of common interest. We are beginning to see support for this process built. In the spring, Dene chiefs passed a motion forming an intergovernment chiefs committee to pursue discussions on an intergovernment forum. In May, we met with the Dene chiefs in Yellowknife to discuss a vision for the Northwest Territories, as set out in the agenda for the new North.

We also discussed, in detail, the need for an intergovernmental process where all governments could sit together to discuss these issues. At the recent Dene National Assembly in Jean Marie River, we were encouraged to see the chiefs adopt another motion reaffirming their commitment to an intergovernmental process. We have met with representatives of other aboriginal governments over the past several months and are encouraged by the support that seems to exist for such a process. The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development has also been a strong proponent of such a process. It is through this multilateral process that the government would prefer to pursue the negotiations of a political accord and other arrangements that better clarify the ongoing relationships between public and aboriginal governments in the Northwest Territories. On that basis, the government is prepared to provide a work plan setting out our views as one participant in the intergovernmental process concerning the negotiations of a political accord. Mahsi, Madam Chairperson.

Committee Motion: 34-13(7): Development Of A Workplan For A Political Accord With Aboriginal Governments
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Jane Groenewegen

Thank you, Mr. Antoine. Just before we have any more comments on the motion -- I should have done this before -- I would like to recognize Sue Cooper, who is with the Nunavut Legislative Assembly. She is the law clerk there, and she has joined us today at the table with her colleague, our law clerk, Ms. MacPherson. Welcome to the Assembly, Ms. Cooper.

--Applause

To the motion. Question has been called. All those in favour? All those opposed? The motion is carried. Mr. Erasmus.

Committee Motion: 34-13(7): Development Of A Workplan For A Political Accord With Aboriginal Governments
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. The committee had made a recommendation on page 15, section 11.6, in our report that Bill 15 be amended to provide for a sunset clause that would see the 19 Member Legislature repealed upon dissolution of the 14th Assembly. Rather than having a motion at this time to effect this recommendation, we will wait until the clause by clause consideration of Bill 15, at which time a motion to amend the bill to achieve this will be moved. I mention this simply to clarify the process that we intend to follow. Thank you.

Committee Motion: 34-13(7): Development Of A Workplan For A Political Accord With Aboriginal Governments
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Jane Groenewegen

Thank you, Mr. Erasmus. Would you please proceed.

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

July 28th, 1999

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Roy Erasmus Yellowknife North

Thank you, Madam Chairperson. I move that this committee recommends that the Government of the Northwest Territories urge the federal government to commence a legal reference without delay before the Supreme Court of Canada;

And further, that the court be requested to clarify the interpretation of section 25 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, in relation to other provisions of the Charter and the Constitution of Canada, and in particular, section 3 of the Charter;

And furthermore that the Government of the Northwest Territories provide the Standing Committee on Government Operations with a proposed question to be provided to the federal government by October 1, 1999.

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. Erasmus. The motion is in order. 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, in the recent court case brought forward by the Friends of Democracy, Justice de Weerdt made a comment -- I do not have it here -- which inferred that in dealing with or defining Charter rights, they

did not have to be read in concert with section 25 of the Canadian Charter and section 35 of the Constitution Act. This is simply not the proper way to look at the Charter and the Constitution. While this might not be what he meant, it may be that he meant that in this instance he had not been supplied with enough information or evidence that this should apply. It may be left to interpretation that the Charter sections, like the right to vote and those types of things, are not to be read together with section 25 and section 35. We feel that it is very important for this to be clarified, and since the government did not appeal Justice de Weerdt's decision, they have no right to appeal to the Supreme Court in order to clarify this particular area. They would have to ask for a legal reference, and the only way it can be done is through the federal government. This government would have to ask the federal government to do it. This is what this is trying to do. This is trying to clarify this area of the law in the Northwest Territories and probably all over Canada, because I do not know if there have been any Supreme Court of Canada decisions exactly on this point.

Madam Chairperson, this is the intent of this motion. This was one of the large fears or a great deal of the impetus, I think, in appealing Justice de Weerdt's decision as well by the Aboriginal Summit members who did. I think that people are afraid that this particular court case will sit there, and whether or not this is what Justice de Weerdt intended, it is open for interpretation the way I explained. We would like to have that clarified. 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. To the motion. Mr. Ootes.

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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Jake Ootes Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Madam Chairperson. The Government of the Northwest Territories decided not to appeal Justice de Weerdt's decision, and it was based on recommendations by its advice received from the Department of Justice. I can support this motion because I believe that clarity to this situation would be of value for all concerned down the road. The motion is a situation where it urges the federal government to commence a legal reference. Based on that, I do want to point out that this government had advice that it should not appeal to the court with de Weerdt's decision. There is some concern as to the success of it. However, as I said, I will support this particular motion. 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. Ootes. To the motion. Mr. Henry.

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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Seamus Henry Yellowknife South

Thank you, Madam Chairperson. Madam Chairperson, the Chairman of Government Operations in his opening comments, I believe, stated that for most of the motions there would not be a cost involved. I believe that the Government of the Northwest Territories has spent a considerable number of dollars on court cases, especially over this particular issue. If the mover of the motion could clarify in his closing comments on this particular motion that indeed he is not intending the Government of the Northwest Territories to be spending money on this, I certainly could find the will to support this motion, and I do believe it would add clarity to the issue. If there is a stone unturned to ensure that democratic rights and each person's rights are made known to them, I certainly have no problem in encouraging that. If the mover of the motion could clarify that the expenditures on behalf of this motion would be federally incurred, I would appreciate that. Thank you, Madam Chairperson.