The Speaker (Hon. Frederick Blake)
Frederick Blake Jr.
Thank you, Members, for the trust you have put in me as your Speaker. I will do my very best to uphold that trust.
Colleagues, we have elected the first gender-balanced legislature in Canada. We have elected the only sitting female Premier in Canada, and we have elected the only majority female Cabinet in
Canada. This is truly an Assembly that will go down in history, and I am grateful that you have given me the opportunity to serve as your Speaker.
I heard it said during the campaign that the role of Speaker is largely ceremonial. Those of you who have worked in the Legislative Assembly before know that it is not the case. The Speaker continues to be an MLA and to represent their constituents in this House. In order to maintain the neutrality and objectivity that is required of any presiding officer, they do this by working directly with Cabinet and all Members of the Assembly. As your Speaker, the needs and concerns of the communities I represent, Aklavik, Fort McPherson, and Tsiigehtchic, will always come first.
Colleagues, I would like to recognize the following people who are joining us in the Chamber today:
- Grand Chief George Mackenzie;
- Charles McNeely;
- Chief Edward Sangris;
- Chief Ernest Betsina;
- Betty Villebrun;
- The Honourable Justice Shannon Smallwood;
- The Honourable Judge Christine Gagnon;
- Brigadier-General Patrick Carpenter; and
- Chief Warrant Officer Sherri Forward.
Thank you for being here with us today.
I believe strongly in consensus government. We have heard many times from our constituents, from Indigenous and community leaders, and from each other that we need to work together to make life in the Northwest Territories better. I believe consensus government is how we are best able to do this.
As your Speaker, I will champion our uniquely northern system of government. I will remain open to new ways of doing business because I believe improvements are always possible, but I will resist any changes that I believe will divide us as Members of this Assembly working for the people of this territory.
As your Speaker, I respect the right of all Members to speak their mind in this house. The rules of the Legislative Assembly should not be used to score political points or shut down open debate. That is not the way we solve problems here.
As Speaker, I will resist the use of procedural games to achieve political ends and will always err on the side of allowing more fulsome debate, even if it takes longer.
We need strong leadership in our territory, but every Member should be free to vote the way they choose and the way they feel best represents their people. As Speaker, I will fight to protect this and other rights that Members enjoy.
Colleagues, I promise to make you proud as your Speaker. I promise to do this by being open-minded, consistent, and fair with you, both inside and outside this Chamber. Most importantly, I plan to lead by example and to embody the high standard that we expect of all elected leaders.
Mr. Clerk, would you ascertain if the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories, the Honourable Margaret Thom, is prepared to enter the Chamber and open the first session of the 19th Legislative Assembly.