This is page numbers 4777 - 4802 of the Hansard for the 18th Assembly, 3rd 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 strike. View the webstream of the day's session.

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Motion 31-18(3): Request for Government of the Northwest Territories to Enter Binding Arbitration with Union of Northern Workers, Defeated
Motions

February 9th

Page 4788

Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, this motion is somewhat premature, as we have been told. This should have been done next week, if we needed to. Now this motion cannot be brought up again during this session. Cabinet is putting a lose-lose situation. If Cabinet votes for this motion, they will be seen as negotiating in bad faith at the negotiating table. Also, if they don't support the motion, they will and have already been labelled as not supporting our employees, which is far from the truth.

I will support this motion, but it is very difficult to after how our Premier was treated by union members at his constituency meeting on Tuesday night. That was bullying at its finest, Mr. Speaker. Let's hope this never happens again.

Now to the negotiations. It seems we may have hard negotiators on both sides who aren't willing to complete negotiations. If that is the case, we need to change negotiators on both sides and remember we have a common interest.

Mr. Speaker, every one of my constituents who have reached out to me all don't want to strike. Many of them just want to continue working and provide for their families, as we have the second highest cost of living in the Northwest Territories. Just to be clear, the somewhat threatening e-mail we all received yesterday from the union had nothing to do with my decision.

At first, I wasn't going to support this motion, as it should have taken place next week if we needed to, although it would be perceived that we don't support our employees if we don't support the motion.

Let us work together to ensure we reach a fair deal for our government employees. The residents of the Northwest Territories rely upon us. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Motion 31-18(3): Request for Government of the Northwest Territories to Enter Binding Arbitration with Union of Northern Workers, Defeated
Motions

February 9th

Page 4788

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. To the motion. Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes.

Motion 31-18(3): Request for Government of the Northwest Territories to Enter Binding Arbitration with Union of Northern Workers, Defeated
Motions

February 9th

Page 4788

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the debate that's going on in this Assembly. I have had a lot of people reach out to me as well; constituents of Inuvik Twin Lakes, a lot of families worried about the strike. What I want people to understand is that, just because you don't support the motion, and I think a couple of Members have already said it, just because you don't support the motion, you're not voting in favour of a strike. Let's make that perfectly clear, and people need to understand that.

I have a lot of confidence in the ability of our negotiators and the UNW's negotiators to think about the people who have been e-mailing us, talking about the hardships that they might face if they have to go on strike. None of them wants to. None of us wants them to go on strike. You're talking about the hardship and it is that mindset that we should take into the mediations this weekend, thinking about those particular people. I believe that we would be able to come to an agreement. One of the Members over there said it perfectly well, said that there was a lot of politics involved. I totally agree. I totally agree. I have had a few emails, some threatening on October 1st. I mean, that is fine. We are all MLAs. Every year, we go through an election period, and we have people say why they won't support us. That is fine.

As dean of the House and one who has been here the longest, what I don't appreciate is the pressure that is put on all 19 of us. I don't appreciate that because we have people who we have tasked to do our negotiating. The pressure that is put on all 19 Members of this House, I absolutely do not appreciate. It put everyone in difficult positions where I think Mr. Blake said it: it is lose-lose for everybody on which way you go with this. That is something that I am not a big fan of.

Our folks are before a mediator this weekend. Let's let them do as we tasked them. I have heard Members say that this is something that should have happened next week. I agree. Again, political pressure and how some react to it is different for a lot of people. I want people to be assured that I will be available. I am going to make myself available all weekend. I want to try to be in constant communication with everybody to see if we can go through a successful mediation.

The Member from Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh said it really well when he said communication. He said communication. That is something that sometimes we are often criticized for: the communication part of the work we do. I have heard that. I have had meetings with the Regular Members, deep, deep conversations on where we need to go, but I don't think there is a person in the Northwest Territories who wants a strike. Because you vote against the motion doesn't mean you are supporting a strike.

Again, I really take offence to the pressure that is put on all my colleagues in this Assembly. It is undue pressure. We have people who we have tasked to negotiate on our behalf. The union has people who they have tasked to negotiate on their behalf. I think the backdrop to those negotiations should be how it is going to affect the people in the Northwest Territories. With that backdrop, then I think we can reach an agreement.

Mr. Speaker, one of the Members said, "Well, the Minister is going to tell us, 'Let's respect the process.'" I have been saying that for a while. Let's respect the process. I also have faith and respect the principle of the people who are in the process, that they are going to take the best interests of people across the Northwest Territories in mind while they are sitting and having their back and forth. I will trust them to do that. Failing that, then they will come up with probably the next step in the resolution of this. I am not sure what that would include. Again, they are negotiating for their membership, and we are negotiating. Again, I will leave that up to them.

I will be available all weekend. Because we believe in the concept of mediation and the folks who are involved in it, Cabinet is not going to be supporting the motion. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Motion 31-18(3): Request for Government of the Northwest Territories to Enter Binding Arbitration with Union of Northern Workers, Defeated
Motions

February 9th

Page 4789

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. At this point in time, I will allow the mover to conclude her remarks on the motion.

Motion 31-18(3): Request for Government of the Northwest Territories to Enter Binding Arbitration with Union of Northern Workers, Defeated
Motions

February 9th

Page 4789

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by saying that I appreciate the positions that my colleagues have taken. I think some of them I don't agree with, but I appreciate their efforts to make themselves understood.

Mr. Speaker, make no mistake. This is a political discussion, and we are making a political decision. This is a place in which politics happens. We are here to demonstrate leadership in the most pressing issue facing our territory at this time. It is my take on my role that I can express this leadership by forwarding this motion.

From a legal point of view, we have been advised by people who are lawyers that the fact that there is no binding arbitration in the Public Service Act is not an impediment to entering into binding arbitration. It is one of the options. It is important to note that the Minister has not said that binding arbitration can't happen. He simply hasn't said anything about it.

Where I am at now is that I have lost confidence that the process that we are engaged in now is going to produce a result that both sides will accept and that it will result in a no-strike action on Monday. The timing of this motion is related to the soonest possible that we could debate it. This is not a stunt. I think, if there is one thing that I have been impressed by today, it is the sincerity with which people hold their beliefs. This is not a game. We are not playing poker here. We are talking about the future of our territory and the people who live in it. The stakes are incredibly high.

I want to say that the timing of the motion, I recognize that the motion is non-binding. It wouldn't matter if we had the motion today or Monday or next week or any other time. The effect of the motion is to give advice to the government. They are not obliged to act on it. I understand that, but I still feel that I need to provide that advice.

I reject the idea that we are in any way interfering in the current process. Mediation is happening now. I hope that it continues and is productive, but we have to think in terms of what happens next. As my colleague from Frame Lake said, we need the off-ramp. We need the off-ramp in place before the highway runs out.

I know that there are people here, my colleagues here who want to talk themselves out of the political leadership that they were elected to demonstrate, and I will leave that to them and their constituents to sort out.

Mr. Speaker, I would finally just say that I have a history in this House of doing what is right and not necessarily what is popular. I have been on the losing end of motions before, and I am prepared to be in that position today because I sincerely believe that we need to do everything possible to avert a strike and its disastrous consequences. With that, I would like to request a recorded vote.

Motion 31-18(3): Request for Government of the Northwest Territories to Enter Binding Arbitration with Union of Northern Workers, Defeated
Motions

February 9th

Page 4789

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Member has requested a recorded vote. All those in favour, please stand.

Recorded Vote
Motions

February 9th

Page 4789

Clerk Of The House Mr. Tim Mercer

The Member for Yellowknife Centre, the Member for Hay River North, the Member for Mackenzie Delta, the Member for Kam Lake, the Member for Nahendeh, the Member for Frame Lake.

Recorded Vote
Motions

February 9th

Page 4789

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

All those against, please stand.

Recorded Vote
Motions

February 9th

Page 4789

Clerk Of The House Mr. Tim Mercer

The Member for Deh Cho, the Member for Nunakput, the Member for Inuvik Boot Lake, the Member for Range Lake, the Member for Great Slave, the Member for Yellowknife South, the Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes, the Member for Hay River South, the Member for Thebacha, the Member for Sahtu, the Member for Yellowknife North.

Recorded Vote
Motions

February 9th

Page 4789

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

All those abstaining, please stand.

Recorded Vote
Motions

February 9th

Page 4789

Clerk Of The House Mr. Tim Mercer

The Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

Recorded Vote
Motions

February 9th

Page 4789

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

The results of the recorded vote: six in favour, 11 opposed, one abstention. The motion is defeated. Motions. Item 19, first reading of bills. Item 20, second reading of bills. Item 21, consideration in Committee of the Whole of bills and other matters: Minister's Statement 131-18(3), Sessional Statement; Tabled Document 322-18(3), Main Estimates, 2019-2020, with Member for Hay River North in the chair.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

February 9th, 2019

Page 4789

The Chair R.J. Simpson

I now call Committee of the Whole to order. What is the wish of committee? Mr. Beaulieu.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

February 9th

Page 4789

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I move that the chair rise and report progress.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

February 9th

Page 4789

The Chair R.J. Simpson

Thank you, Mr. Beaulieu. There is a motion to report progress. The motion is in order. All those in favour? All those opposed? The motion is carried.

---Carried

I will rise and report progress.