This is page numbers 4285 - 4326 of the Hansard for the 17th Assembly, 5th 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 public.

Topics

FURTHER mOTION TO AMEND MOTION 16-17(5), DEFEATED
Motions

Page 4294

Michael Nadli Deh Cho

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I do not support the initial motion nor the motion as amended, which now, understandably, will basically leave the election in 2015.

My principal belief is that people elected after four years should stick with it. To unilaterally add another year to our terms, again, basically goes against the fundamental philosophy which is to serve people and the public. As you might know, locally with all communities that I represent, local councils have two to three-year terms and they are quite happy with that, but as a territorial-level institution, we need to keep in mind the precedents which we're setting.

I understand why we are trying to do this is because of devolution, and implementation of the agreement is a significant challenge. It's going to bring us into a phased-in stage for the institution of authority and structure are mobilized to work effectively in delivering services to Northerners. I understand the need for consistency in leadership to ensure a smooth transition. However, I'm incredulous of the timing of this proposal.

Basically I see this as a smoke screen and as lining up of someone else's ducks. Devolution gives us authority over lands and resources. Now that we have more power, we want more power. I will propose another motion, a motion that goes with the status quo. Leave it as is and have the election on October 5, 2015, but at the same time supporting the principle of the idea of exploring an extended term from four to five years with consultations and public debate and the legislative draft to be considered then. Mahsi.

FURTHER mOTION TO AMEND MOTION 16-17(5), DEFEATED
Motions

Page 4294

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Nadli. To the motion as amended. Mr. Hawkins.

FURTHER mOTION TO AMEND MOTION 16-17(5), DEFEATED
Motions

Page 4294

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This is, in all honesty, a very exciting motion. Rarely do we see the engagement of Members and certainly the public into a type of motion like this. It has drawn the public into the business of the Assembly. It has drawn Members into the business certainly of the Assembly. You see this type of discussion here where people are talking about the issue before us. If we could only give every single issue this Assembly dealt with this much attention, can you imagine the public belief in our system at large?

I will say with great respect, and I certainly mean this, I want to thank Member Groenewegen and certainly Member Miltenberger for bringing this motion forth before us here today. Because if it wasn't for this type of society we have here and the type of work we do here, we wouldn't be able to have this type of discussion. Many have spoken for it, many have spoken against it, but it's a privilege to be able to speak one way or the other. I'm grateful that I've heard the voices and seen the motion moved.

I wish, as I said, everything could be talked about at length and certainly discussed and seen as we've seen this issue here today. But the motion we're talking about before us stems from a particular problem of the overlap of multi-elections. We've heard the potential of logistics being cumbersome, coordination being challenging, volunteers being exhausted, donor fatigue all the way through, and certainly voter fatigue is a potential problem. Every single one of those issues is a very serious concern and we need to be weighing to ourselves in some way or manner, in going this route is it best to change the date or do we create more problems?

I've received various feedback from people and I want to say thank you very much for people who took the time to e-mail, to call, to stop me at the Co-op, to continue to stop me at the Co-op, I go down the next aisle to be stopped again at the Co-op - I think you're getting the picture - and going to Canadian Tire and on and on and on. I'm not going to say 90 percent or 80 percent or whatever the case may be, I'm going to say there were people who said no, and honestly, there were people saying yes to the motion. There were. It doesn't matter, really, at the end of the day what small percentage we talk to says this, but what we should be listening to is their message why people say this - support the motion, that is - and why people say don't support the motion. That is the important key.

One thing that I heard repeatedly that I think is so important about this whole particular issue - and I say this with an enormous amount of respect to Minister Miltenberger, whose perspective I'm not sure I can share - but I will say I will thank him for sharing his perspective. The issue that came to me repeatedly was, where are the rest of the voices in Cabinet? The public has heard vigorously from most Members, not all, and I would say we have such a privileged opportunity and institution. We have the right when we want to share a voice and we also have the privilege and right not to share a voice, and I want to thank those who took the time to share their perspective.

But the public asked me, would the Ministers be speaking on this? Is it a whip vote? And if it is a whip vote, I'm okay with that. It's just the way it goes sometimes. But I think the public deserves to know who's voting in favour or against it, Mr. Speaker. I think that was one of the big concerns laid before me.

Now, you've heard from many people that voters will be confused. I'm not sure that will be the case. Now, I've had to face voters a few times and I'm going to tell you, the number one thing, I think they're going to be exhausted by all means. I don't think they'll be conflicted by who they're voting for, but sometimes that is the job of an MLA, knocking on doors. I can tell you, many times I knocked on a door for a territorial election and they start bringing up the roads and the dog issue and the dump issue. But sometimes that's the job of a public official to hear those types of things. Although it's not by department per se, but, sure, I'll make sure the message gets passed on.

So I agree with the point of the fatigue, I do, and I agree that there will probably be donor and voter fatigue, and logistics fatigue, and volunteer fatigue, absolutely. Every single one of those issues I absolutely agree with. But I don't think that taking people's rights to be able to vote on that day away is the right approach.

I agree with other Members, like Member Dolynny talking about it's a contract, and I have great faith in the public who wanted us to stick by that contract and I have great faith that our public is educated to follow us.

If we wanted to talk about confusing elections, which is not necessarily this motion per se, but I could imagine the super-ballots of the Americans when they vote on multiple issues, could we vote multiple times in one day or within a couple days? I mean, I've never had that privilege nor do I want it, but I can tell you, that's got to be a confusing election, so would we have a confusing election here? I'm not necessarily sure.

Mr. Speaker, again, I have faith in the public and I would say that if I had my preference, we would be calling the election on August 1st and having our election first because we're more important than the feds in worrying about their election. But that's not the option before us and perhaps in some cases - we have so many options on the table - the public still would like us to further discuss this. I know this issue will be back. Let us all know that. By passing this motion, we will be back to it someday for the legislation.

So, I do have great respect for those who feel this motion needs to be supported and I do honourably respect that. I believe that the intentions of the people supporting this motion are honourable. I will say that, because I know many of the people doing the work here are honourable. But it's important that I stick to what I agreed to and I know those, whether they voted for me or against me, believe there was a four-year control, 48 months, and of course, October 2015 will be the expiry of that.

I will ask for a recorded vote on this because I think it's important that we do this. But I would like to ask this one last thing, and it's important to say this: I often rail about this government about my view that they're not doing enough for things like jobs and whatnot. But I will say this: there's nothing wrong with this government that could not be fixed with an election. Thank you.

FURTHER mOTION TO AMEND MOTION 16-17(5), DEFEATED
Motions

Page 4294

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Hawkins. To the motion as amended. Mr. Yakeleya.

FURTHER mOTION TO AMEND MOTION 16-17(5), DEFEATED
Motions

Page 4294

Norman Yakeleya Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. When we sought nomination and put our names forward for the MLA for our riding, we knew perfectly well, through speaking with our elders and people, they said, you're working for us. That's what your job is, to work for us and do the best you can in that term.

I sat down with many elders and they said, you, as an MLA, you're like an arrowhead. The people are like that bow. Whatever issue we talk about, we'll pull the bow and you shoot. Power to hang you and the arrowhead goes to that issue. Don't be scared, because you're the voice of the people. But if you speak for yourself, that's your voice. You speak for us. Of course, I've had some phone calls; I've made some phone calls. It's not an issue for us yet in the Sahtu.

What I understand is that we need the tools in the Northwest Territories. Of course, I heard, and I talked to people, are we writing our own conditions to our employment as an MLA, or are we giving ourselves the authority to make our own laws to decide on.

I think we no longer need the permission slip from Ottawa to tell us how to live. We've done that through devolution. We don't need the permission slip anymore from Ottawa. That's what we've been saying for a long, long time.

I've been thinking about this, what do we need to do? My cousins in Nunavut and Yukon have that option, have that tool, have that authority. But for us here, we still need Ottawa to say okay to us.

I don't think any one of us sitting around here or any one of us listening expected us to have this discussion when we first got elected, when we first sat down in Caucus. It never even crossed our minds. I don't think the electors thought, well, give yourself another few months, a year, extend your term. That never came across. It was the furthest thing from my mind. However, to speak to the principle of the bill is to give us authority and the principle.

Mr. Speaker, the decision has been put upon us, certainly having it read in the House on Friday and making phone calls on the weekend and talking to people. I've seen, in my 10-year term, decisions made quicker than this. This is not new. Some bigger decisions have been made. We talked about the devolution file and I wasn't a happy camper with the devolution file. Let me tell you. I wasn't a happy camper on that file. It's done, beginning April 1st.

Again, I haven't heard much from the Sahtu people. I certainly heard from constituents outside the Sahtu and I appreciate their e-mails to me. I even had one this morning. So the passion is out there. We've been very limited with our public consultation, if you want to call it public consultation.

We're talking about extending our term. Every one of us coming to this office is highly ethical and to be called otherwise is not justice. We work for the people. What fashion of democracy is determined at the end of the day? We stand here because people sent us here. We need the tools to train our own future. We're doing that through devolution. We have to have the tools. We need the authority. Along with that comes the responsibility. Today we're asking for that permission to create our own destiny. Do we still need the permission slip from Ottawa?

Mr. Speaker, I thought about this and asked myself as an MLA. I talked to the people in the Sahtu. You know what, Mr. Speaker? It is true when we put our name down and got elected, we said it's a four-year term. Some say it's too long and some say it's too fast, depending on what side of the bed you get up in the morning. But it is true; we work for our people.

As an MLA, this is a very, very soul-searching task. You feel so strongly about it. People feel strongly that we did sign up for a four-year term contract. As a person, you can always resign and say, call a snap election in your riding. Let the people decide, if you feel very strongly about it. If people feel strongly about it, give it back to them. It's a privilege to be here. This is no entitlement. It's a real honour to be here to represent your people. Some of the people are not here today. We'll decide in the Sahtu how we want to go. We live up there. It's our life. We'll decide how we will do it. It's our land; it's our people. If that's the way they feel, then I'm okay with it because it's a privilege. It's an honour to represent them. I don't take this job very lightly.

I see the old-timers put their X. We are good people. We offer our service. They can take it away like that. That's what I want to say. In the Sahtu we will decide our future. With this motion here, we ask for the tools. We do not need a permission slip from Ottawa. We need to do it ourselves. I don't know how that will be; only God knows how the future will determine ourselves. I'm not the boss. That's what the old people tell us: work together. Sometimes that's very hard because I make it hard and very easy. That's what I wanted to say on this motion here. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

FURTHER mOTION TO AMEND MOTION 16-17(5), DEFEATED
Motions

Page 4294

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Yakeleya. To the amendment to the motion. Mr. Blake.

FURTHER mOTION TO AMEND MOTION 16-17(5), DEFEATED
Motions

Page 4294

Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. There's a lot of good discussion here today. As we look forward to our next election, there is a concern that I have having this election at the same time as the federal election. I thought there might be some sort of conflict that we have the same returning officer doing both elections, but there would not be a conflict, but it would be very overwhelming. That's what I've seen even when we had the one election this last time.

Even during our last election, we've had a lot of difficulties in the riding that I represent with their election. I can see things even progressing if we have two at the same time. That's my major concern. I did speak to over 50 people about this extension. We were throwing around numbers at our Caucus over eight months ago. That has given us a lot of time to think about this. Since then, I have spoken to a number of people, as I mentioned. Also, PEI, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have all extended or deferred their election to April. That would be a really good time for us in the riding that I represent as we could all travel to each community by ice road. It's very challenging during the fall election for many of the people that run because Aklavik is isolated and many of the other communities are also isolated.

To the motion, I will be supporting the motion. There are a lot of priorities that we have not met here at the 17th Legislature also. That was one of the things that Nunavut actually extended their term a year to do, to fulfil the priorities they set as their Legislature. We have many outstanding. Even though we are doing very well, we still have a lot of unemployment, about 35 percent in our smaller communities. We need to address that. For that reason and also because we will have a lot of challenges in our smaller ridings, smaller communities, I will be supporting the motion. Thank you.

FURTHER mOTION TO AMEND MOTION 16-17(5), DEFEATED
Motions

Page 4294

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Blake. To the motion as amended. I am going to close debate. I'm going to let Mrs. Groenewegen have closing remarks. Mrs. Groenewegen.

FURTHER mOTION TO AMEND MOTION 16-17(5), DEFEATED
Motions

Page 4294

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to thank everyone for their comments and engaging in this discussion here today. There's not a lot that I can add to it. In defence of the democratic process, I can assure you that I love the democratic process. As a matter of fact, to let nominations come and go and not put my name forward next time, I'm going to have to put on earmuffs and handcuffs. Every time there's an election, I can't help myself. I love the democratic process. I love the process when we come here, but the things that some of us could be thinking of doing this for self-serving or unethical or immoral reasons is just not in the cards. I'm sorry. I do object to those quotes being made here. I realize the people out in the public may be saying that. I'm sorry if that's the case, but I know the honourable Members in this room, and that's what we all are, and we do not impugn motives of anybody. We come here to serve, I believe, everyone with the best of intentions of serving our people, as Mr. Yakeleya has said.

To the issue of whether or not this would be confusing, I just wanted to say that we have some information here about the differences in elections. The rules are different from federal to territorial to municipal, from everything from vouching for people to proxy voting to all kinds of different things. The rules do vary from election to election. I don't think that's intended to, again, insult anybody, but there could be confusion with the overlap. I still think that that's true.

One thing that hasn't been mentioned here today very much, and it did come up during our consultation with our constituents, is the issue of devolution. Now, we know that devolution will give new authorities to this House and even with respect to setting our election dates, it will give new authority to this House. I just want to remind people that we have talked... I want people to go back and check their... Well, I guess you haven't been all around as many times as I have for elections, but I want you to go back and check your campaign brochures and see how many times we saw devolution. I can guarantee it was in mine 20 years ago. We cannot understate the accomplishment of this government that we have. Like it or not, this government has brought devolution home to the Northwest Territories. I believe, when people ask and say, oh, this is a smoke screen for devolution, I think we should be very, very proud of what has happened here. People say, oh, the bureaucrats can carry on. You know, we don't need the elected leaders in there, they are dispensable. I also don't agree with that.

I think that this motion does something today. People say that two days is not enough to get real feedback and they oppose it on that basis, but all this motion does is grant the authority to this government to ask the federal government if we can create a bill to have this discussion. That's what this does, so let's keep that in perspective. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

FURTHER mOTION TO AMEND MOTION 16-17(5), DEFEATED
Motions

Page 4294

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mrs. Groenewegen. To the motion as amended.

FURTHER mOTION TO AMEND MOTION 16-17(5), DEFEATED
Motions

Page 4294

An Hon. Member

Question.

Recorded Vote
Motions

March 10th, 2014

Page 4294

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Question has been called. I have a request for a recorded vote. All those in favour, please rise.

Recorded Vote
Motions

Page 4294

Clerk Of The House Ms. Langlois

Mrs. Groenewegen, Mr. Yakeleya, Mr. Menicoche, Mr. Blake, Mr. Beaulieu, Mr. Abernethy, Mr. Miltenberger, Mr. McLeod - Yellowknife South, Mr. Lafferty, Mr. Ramsay, Mr. McLeod - Inuvik Twin Lakes.

Recorded Vote
Motions

Page 4294

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

All those opposed, please rise.

Recorded Vote
Motions

Page 4294

Clerk Of The House Ms. Langlois

Mr. Dolynny, Mr. Bouchard, Mr. Nadli, Mr. Hawkins, Ms. Bisaro, Mr. Moses, Mr. Bromley.