This is page numbers 5713 - 5790 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 women. View the webstream of the day's session.

Topics

Bill 38: Protected Areas Act
Reports Of Committees On The Review Of Bills

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Bill 38, Protected Areas Act, is now moved to Committee of the Whole for further consideration. Reports of committees on the review of bills. Member for Yellowknife North.

Bill 44: Forest Act
Reports Of Committees On The Review Of Bills

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Cory Vanthuyne Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to report to the Assembly that the Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment has reviewed Bill 44, Forest Act. Mr. Speaker, after extensive consultation, serious consideration, and ongoing dialogue with the sponsoring Minister, the committee wishes to report that Bill 44 is not ready for consideration in Committee of the Whole and recommends that the bill be not further proceeded with. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Bill 44: Forest Act
Reports Of Committees On The Review Of Bills

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Reports of committee on the review of bills. Member for Yellowknife North.

Bill 44: Forest Act
Reports Of Committees On The Review Of Bills

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Cory Vanthuyne Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I seek unanimous consent to waive Rule 75(3) and to have Bill 44, Forest Act, moved to third reading of bills later today. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Bill 44: Forest Act
Reports Of Committees On The Review Of Bills

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. The Member is seeking unanimous consent to waive Rule 75(3) and to have Bill 44, Forest Act, moved to a third reading of bills for later today.

---Unanimous consent granted

Bill 44: Forest Act
Reports Of Committees On The Review Of Bills

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Bill 44 is now moved for third reading later on today. Reports of committees on the review of bills. Member for Yellowknife North.

Bill 44: Forest Act
Reports Of Committees On The Review Of Bills

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Cory Vanthuyne Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Bill 44: Forest Act
Reports Of Committees On The Review Of Bills

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Reports of committees on the review of bills. Item 4, reports of standing and special committees. Member for Yellowknife Centre.

Committee Report 17-18(3): Special Committee to Increase the Representation of Women in the Legislative Assembly
Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

June 4th, 2019

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Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Your Special Committee to Increase the Representation of Women in the Legislative Assembly is pleased to provide its Final Report on Increasing the Representation of Women in the Legislative Assembly and commends it to this House.

INTRODUCTION

The Special Committee to Increase the Representation of Women in the Legislative Assembly ("committee") was tasked to gather information and public input into options on how to support the goal of increasing women's representation in the Legislative Assembly to 20 percent by 2023 and 30 percent by 2027. The committee is pleased to present this final report, which was developed in accordance with committee's mandate as determined by the terms of reference. This report includes consideration of the discussion paper "Temporary Special Measures to Increase the Representation of Women in the Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly" ("discussion paper") presented by the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly in May 2018.

Committee heard overwhelming support for encouraging more women to run for elected seats and increasing the number of women in the legislature. Committee heard the need for more public discussion on how to reach these goals.

During public hearings and stakeholder meetings, committee discussed guaranteed seats, a solution proposed to increase women's representation. Feedback on the discussion paper included discussion of alternative and complementary measures that participants suggested may be considered or may work well in their communities and the Northwest Territories.

In this report, we respond to the discussion paper and briefly discuss gender quotas and guaranteed seats in legislatures in other countries. We report views residents shared with us, including suggestions for other legislative changes; changes to any current rules of the Legislative Assembly; current and related legislation; and policies of the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Legislative Assembly.

The committee makes three recommendations intended to improve conditions for women's engagement in territorial politics.

Finally, the committee urges the Members of the 19th Assembly to continue the work that has begun under this special committee and continue efforts to increase gender equity in the Legislative Assembly.

The committee members thank the communities for their warm welcome and participants for their time and effort in attending the meetings and openly sharing their opinions. Committee is appreciative of all the submissions received, as they informed the committee's discussions and recommendations.

Background

The committee began work on November 28, 2018, and consulted with the public in 10 community hearings throughout the Northwest Territories, as listed in Appendix A of this report. Approximately 120 individuals attended the public meetings, 90 percent being women. Most public hearings were televised and remain accessible on Facebook and Twitter, except where technical challenges prevented the live recording. The committee received 11 written submissions, as listed in Appendix B, and additional requests for meetings with interest groups who had also been invited to provide written submission.

Tasked with identifying barriers that prevent women from running, and recommending incentives that mitigate these barriers, the committee tabled an interim report on March 12, 2019. In accordance with the overall goal of helping increase the representation of women in the Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly, the Committee made seven recommendations which were adopted unanimously by the Members of this House. The interim report is included as Appendix C and is available on the committee's web page.

Four of seven recommendations proposed measures to support work-life balance for parents, introducing childcare-friendly provisions to the Legislative Assembly, and requiring a review of the family-friendliness of this building. The remaining three recommendations provide solutions to removing barriers preventing women from participating successfully in politics: making information on consensus government more accessible; information about the specifics of an MLA's role; and increasing campaign training for women in the NWT.

Mr. Speaker, now turn the reading of this report over to the honourable Member from Thebacha.

Committee Report 17-18(3): Special Committee to Increase the Representation of Women in the Legislative Assembly
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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Member for Thebacha.

Committee Report 17-18(3): Special Committee to Increase the Representation of Women in the Legislative Assembly
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Louis Sebert Thebacha

Thank you.

RESPONSE TO SPEAKER'S DISCUSSION PAPER

An important goal of the discussion paper was to spark public discussion on increasing the representation of women in the NWT Legislative Assembly and the provision of guaranteed seats as a temporary measure to help make this happen.

The discussion prompted by the creation of this committee has only begun, and committee strongly believes it is an important dialogue that needs to continue.

One prominent theme committee heard during public meetings was that conversations on how to increase representation of women are needed in communities and the Northwest Territories, and opportunities should be created for this discussion to continue:

"While we do face barriers, conversations like these start the knowledge sharing that can help to reduce some of the strains and barriers that may deter women from running for any position." (Natasha Kulikowski, Written Submission, 11 April 2019)

Discussing Gender Quotas

There are three main gender quota models in use in other jurisdictions. Two of these, electoral candidate quotas and political party quotas, are reliant upon a party-based political system. The third involves the provision of guaranteed seats. Each of these models intervenes at a different point in the electoral process.

Electoral candidate quotas are a mechanism by which political parties are required to bring a predetermined proportion of female-to-male candidates forward for elections. This model is found to be most effective if it mandates a minimum threshold of 30 percent of women candidates per list. Electoral candidate quotas are often accompanied by sanctions against parties for non-compliance. (Rosen 2017)

Gender quotas are a mechanism to regulate that a percentage of those elected must be women. A quota can also apply to both sexes. In Slovenia, for example, 40 percent of either sex candidates must be included in any list of candidates. Prior to this legal gender quota, women's representation at the national level varied between 14 to 25 percent. (Gaber 2019)

In Canada, the federal Standing Committee on the Status of Women encouraged registered parties to "set voluntary quotas for the percentage of female candidates they field in federal elections and to publicly report on their efforts to meet these quotas after every federal general election." (April 2019 Report).

This model cannot be implemented under the current territorial political system, where candidates run as independents and there are no political parties. Without political parties, there are no party candidate lists, and it is unclear who would bring sanctions and to whom they would be applied if not enough women candidates come forward.

"Absent political parties or proportional representation, the NWT Legislative Assembly has limited structural means to influence the number of women candidates who run in a given election." (Office of the Speaker of the NWT Legislative Assembly, 2018).

A study comparing quota models in 160 countries concluded gender quota legislation is a practical point of departure for those looking to increase women's political representation, but implementation shows significant differences across countries, in quota design and outcomes.

The complexity that exists in the interplay between electoral systems, socioeconomic development status, and the presence of conflict in a country, makes it difficult to predict results for any country based on specific quota models alone (Rosen 2017).

Recent research compared women's combined legislative representation in countries without gender quotas to those with quotas. We find that the representation of women in legislatures with gender quotas is approximately ten percent higher than in countries without quotas (Hughes and Paxton 2019).

Through its research, committee found that quotas have the potential to substantially increase women's representation in national legislatures. In the studies consulted, researchers also agree that quotas, including guaranteed seats, can be a "fast track" to increase women's political representation.

Discussing Measures Increasing the Representation of Women

Committee heard that the discussion paper is a "'wonderful and good first step in efforts to increase the representation of women in the NWT Legislative Assembly" (Wendy Bisaro).

"I cannot stress strongly enough how much I believe greater representation of women in the NWT Assembly is needed. A woman's perspective on just about anything is different from a man's view on the same thing. It is not better or worse, just different." (Wendy Bisaro, Written Submission, 15 February 2019)

Committee was told that the perspective of approximately 50 percent of the NWT's population is missing because women are not adequately represented in the Legislative Assembly. We heard that this absence of the female perspective affects the whole of the population, because those elected are making laws and policies for all residents of the NWT.

The discussion paper offers a proposal on how the NWT Legislative Assembly could reach its goals of 20 and 30 percent women Members by 2023 and 2027, respectively, by applying a system adopted in Samoa, which provides a constitutional guarantee of a minimum of five seats for women.

Committee was often asked why the goal of 30 percent women by 2027 was not set at 50 percent. Some respondents asked that, instead of using special measures, the electoral system be changed to guarantee women 50 percent of the seats, without a time limit. Committee heard that this proposal for temporary special measures does not go far enough and should strive for true gender balance.

"In particular, the Council would like to see the Legislative Assembly fully explore a Gender-Equal Legislative Assembly as this model is consistent with gender equality and involves a democratic process: female and male candidates are voted for by their constituents and one female and one male candidate are elected to the Legislative Assembly per district" (Status of Women Council of the NWT, Written Submission, 3 May 2019)

Twenty years ago, before the creation of Nunavut in 1999, an appointed implementation commission proposed a two-member constituency model for the new territory, recommending a gender-equal Legislative Assembly. A man and a woman would be elected by all voters in each district. The proposal was put to a non-binding public vote in May 1997, resulting in 57 percent of ballots against the idea. Had the system been implemented, Nunavut's Assembly would have been the world's first gender-equal, democratically-elected legislature. Currently, six of 22 Members (27 percent) of Nunavut's Legislative Assembly are women.

During public meetings, we also heard that the temporary measures should in fact ask for 90 percent of guaranteed seats for women for the next 36 years to balance out the inequity of the past, ensuring that 90 percent of legislators are women.

Committee heard a proposal for a system that would guarantee five seats at large for women to join the legislature without having a riding, in addition to the existing riding-based electoral system. Some had reservations about this proposal and stressed that it would put women into an unfair position, having to campaign NWT-wide and having to pay higher campaign costs compared to men who would run for election in local ridings. Given that raising campaign funds is already identified as a barrier to women running, this model was seen as double disadvantage for women.

Committee heard from participants that several countries have established guaranteed seats and that the committee should look to models other than Samoa's before settling on a model.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to turn this report over to the honourable Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh. Thank you.

Committee Report 17-18(3): Special Committee to Increase the Representation of Women in the Legislative Assembly
Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

Committee Report 17-18(3): Special Committee to Increase the Representation of Women in the Legislative Assembly
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Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Discussing Guaranteed Seats

Guaranteed or reserved seats are an electoral mechanism that has become a popular tool in modern democracies. The purpose of guaranteed seats is to ensure that representation in legislative assemblies is more reflective of the population being governed.

Countries use guaranteed seats as a mechanism to include populations on the basis of ethnicity, language, religion, geography and/or gender. Legislatures reserving seats on the basis of ethnicity, not based on language, include New Zealand, India, and Rwanda. Countries recognizing language or national identity are predominantly European countries, such as Slovenia and Kosovo. Religious identity is the basis for guaranteed seats in countries in the Middle East and South Asia and geographical representation is used where islands are detached from the nation state's mainland (Fiji, Isle of Man in the United Kingdom).

Many countries have developed gender quota systems in conjunction with other measures imbedded in the countries' socioeconomic realities. In this mix of measures, guaranteed seats may be chosen to address one factor of representation, and in countries with political party systems, electoral lists may be the tool used to establish gender quotas.

Belgium, for example, established guaranteed seats for each of the three language communities of the nation to ensure that each of its communities is represented in the Belgian parliament. Belgium's electoral system is a party-based system with proportional representation. Political parties have to comply with a gender quota and each candidate list must have as many women as men candidates listed. In this way, Belgium applied a gender quota of 50 percent to all electoral lists. This does not guarantee that all women will be elected, however, voters chose from an equal number of women and men when voting.

Rwanda, to ensure long-lasting peace after war and genocide, developed an elaborate system of reserved seats, quotas and other mechanisms to ensure gender and minority representation. Rwanda is also the only country with sanctions for non-compliance of its reserved seat quota.

New Zealand, the first country to make women eligible to vote (in 1893), and to stand for election to parliament (in 1919), has today 49 woman Members of Parliament and surpasses the 40-percent mark in gender representation in its legislature. New Zealand's early path toward gender equity is seen as a combination of political will among parliamentarians, and a desire for equal rights by the Pakeha settler feminists in convergence with Maori women petitioning on land rights and women's rights. Both women's groups continued throughout the country's history to organize advocacy for representation.

New Zealand's voting system includes a number of guaranteed seats for Maori, the Indigenous peoples of New Zealand. Maori representation was guaranteed through the establishment of separate Maori electorates as early as 1867. In 1973, the government introduced the "Maori Electoral Option" allowing electors of Maori descent to choose whether they enrolled in General or in Maori seats. Electoral reforms in 1993 created a Mixed-Member Proportional voting system in New Zealand while maintaining the guaranteed Maori seats.

Today, out of the 120 seats in parliament, 29 belong to members of Maori descent including the seven seats guaranteed for Maori determined by the size of the population who self-identify as having Maori ethnicity. This distribution raised discussions of whether the guaranteed seats are needed.

Many Maori have argued for the retention of guaranteed seats not only as providing guaranteed representation but also as a symbolic recognition and practical manifestation of the Treaty of Waitangi in the New Zealand Parliament. Abolitionists argue it is a flawed model that may sideline Maori concerns.

It is generally believed that the existence of guaranteed seats plays a large part in explaining the larger representation of Maori in Parliament, in particular when comparing to the low representation in Australia of Aboriginal people in political office, where no such measures exist.

Pros and Cons of Guaranteed Seats

Committee heard various views on the proposed solutions to increase women representation in the Legislative Assembly by applying temporary measures. Some found that temporary guaranteed seats are a good measure but had concerns on what the impact would be in the long-term; other rejected the idea of guaranteed seats in principle.

In committee's public hearings, those who spoke against the idea of guaranteed seats had concerns of principle with the idea of reserving seats. Committee heard that guaranteed seats may be seen as a form of tokenism with the negative implication that the seats are held by women lacking merit. In this way, guaranteed seats present 'freebees' or 'pity seats' and were said to possibly hurt women on their path to equality.

We heard concerns that while well-meaning, guaranteed seats for women may be a disservice to women by increasing their vulnerability to harassment and provoking comments disregarding the merit of those women who gained guaranteed seats. Guaranteed seats were described as exposing women to possible stigmatized treatment and gendered comments.

Concern was also raised that women legislators in reserved seats may be more likely to be marginalized from power or cabinet positions. This concern, however, is not limited to guaranteed seats but could apply to all women legislators, under the current system used in the Northwest Territories for the selection of Cabinet Ministers.

The opposite view was also mentioned, that bringing more women into the legislature would ease the stress on the few women who hold seats and who may feel like tokens. In this context, the conflicts that may arise through guaranteed seats were considered temporary.

"If you want to achieve equality in numbers of men and women at the Legislative Assembly, there exists a reasonably easy way of achieving this. It is not my idea but I like it: give each constituency two MLAs, one man and one woman." (Dave Nickerson, Public Hearing Yellowknife, 8 May 2019)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to pass the reading of this report on to the honourable Member for Deh Cho.

Committee Report 17-18(3): Special Committee to Increase the Representation of Women in the Legislative Assembly
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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Member for Deh Cho.

Committee Report 17-18(3): Special Committee to Increase the Representation of Women in the Legislative Assembly
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Michael Nadli Deh Cho

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Considering Guaranteed Seats for Women in the NWT

To achieve the target of 20 percent women in the NWT Assembly of 19 Members, at least four women would need to win seats. Currently, two women hold seats in the NWT Legislature, representing 11 percent of the seats.

The discussion paper shows first, how many guaranteed seats would be required for a 20 and a 30 percent representation of women in the NWT Legislative Assembly. Then, the discussion paper shows how scenarios would have played out in the past NWT elections of 2015, 2011, and 2007. Three additional seats would have been required in 2015 and 2011. Two additional seats would have been required in 2007, as three women were elected. To achieve the target of a 30 percent representation of women, six additional seats would have been needed in 2015 and 2011. Five more seats would have been added in 2007.

The discussion paper sparked discussion on how the model of guaranteed seats could encourage young women to participate more in politics.

"And I really liked how you referenced the Samoa people [...] and their concept of reserved seating and I think that if you wanted to be a bit progressive and move forward and encourage women in politics, that might be one solution to look at. I think what they started out with was they had six reserved seats, and not all of them were filled the first time they started that, but I think that might encourage more women to come out if you have that sort of model to go after as well. (Jessica Landry, Public Hearing Detah, January 16, 2019)

Committee heard questions with regard to the discussion paper's proposals. For example, if five additional women members are appointed through this model, how would the Cabinet and Regular Members function? Would Cabinet be larger? Would Regular Members number 16 with a seven-member Cabinet? Others wondered how the additional seats would be funded, and how the possible higher representation of women for Yellowknife would be dealt with.

"Since the beginning, there have only been 12 women. Six of them are indigenous women, like Lisa Laurier, Nellie Cournoyea, Ethel Blondin-Andrew, Lena Pederson, Helen Maksagak, Manitok Thompson" (Jane Groenewegen, Public Hearing Hay River, 9 January 2019).

Committee heard a variety of comments, including that incumbent women who do not win their seat back should be excluded from reserved seats. Confusion was expressed regarding how the guaranteed seats relate to women candidates, who only narrowly lose against their male competitors. It was also suggested that seats should be given to those candidates who were successful in getting high voter percentages.

Another option suggested in the discussion paper is to allocate additional seats to constituencies with the "highest level of relative underrepresentation" according to the findings of the Electoral Boundaries Commission. The last commission report (2013) identified Monfwi, Yellowknife, and the Sahtu as relatively under-represented.

The discussion paper identified several areas for additional study, such as the make-up of Cabinet; how vacancies would be filled between general elections; and whether additional women members would represent specific ridings or the NWT at large.

The discussion paper concludes that the measures proposed could be put in place for a limited time, such as two or three elections, and then automatically sunset. In the meantime, if targets were met through the normal electoral process, no extra, guaranteed seats would be needed.

Committee did not hear a discussion on the temporary nature of the proposed scenarios specifically, or options for alternative time frames.

Additional Suggestions

Committee was asked to consider a quota for women ministerial positions, in addition to guaranteed seats for women legislators. Setting a minimum number of women ministers was described as the "true" factor in gender equality. Recommendations by the federal Standing Committee on the Status of Women encouraged changes in electoral politics to achieve more gender equality. Electoral district associations would set goals and publicly report on their efforts, including achieving gender parity on their boards of directors and positions of leadership (House of Commons 2019).

There have been calls for position quotas in leadership in other countries. For example, changes proposed to the Maldives government included introducing a mandatory quota of 30 percent for women in leadership positions, and at least one vice president in political parties with more than one deputy leader.

OTHER CHANGES REQUIRING LEGISLATIVE CHANGE

Research demonstrates that we often find a combination of several measures working together: creating discussion and lobbying platforms for women; allocating funds for training and skills-building; establishing women's wings and committees; and legislating -- oh, sorry. My apologies, Mr. Speaker.

Plebiscite

Committee believes that women holding a greater share of seats in the Legislative Assembly will have multiple beneficial effects for the NWT. The most direct and immediate impact will be increased equality of representation and the inclusion of missing perspectives. Increasing women's participation will also affect the performance of politics in the areas of policymaking, public opinion, and the legislature as workplace.

Committee heard that temporary special measures should be a plebiscite issue. If guaranteed seats are deemed necessary in the NWT, they would have to be legislated as suggested in the Speaker's discussion paper.

Two plebiscites have been held in the Northwest Territories, one in 1982 on the division of the territories, and a second one 10 years later in 1992 on the boundary between the NWT and Nunavut. The first plebiscite also began with a recommendation made by a special committee of the Assembly.

Committee notes the agreement on increasing gender equity and the number of women in the Legislative Assembly based on public hearings and submissions received. However, agreement on how to best achieve this goal was not evident.

The committee determined that, should the 2019 election not result in a minimum of 20 percent of women representation, a plebiscite to obtain public feedback on proposed temporary measures to guarantee a minimum number of seats for women in the Legislature, is something that will contribute to the goal of increasing the representation of women in the Assembly.

While the motion adopted by the Legislative Assembly in March 2018 established a goal of 20 percent in 2023, committee is looking for increased representation as soon as the 2019 election. Committee is hopeful that the changes recommended in the interim report will contribute to reaching the goals faster.

Recommendation 1

The Special Committee to Increase the Representation of Women in the Legislative Assembly recommends that if the 2019 election does not meet 20 percent women representation, the 19th Legislative Assembly call a plebiscite to determine which of the options set out in the discussion paper is preferred by the electorate.

OTHER CHANGES REQUIRING LEGISLATIVE CHANGE

Research demonstrates that we often find a combination of several measures working together: creating discussion and lobbying platforms for women; allocating funds for training and skills-building; establishing women's wings and committees; and legislating financial incentives and assistance programs. Committee heard the suggestion of a women's caucus as an idea to be explored and perhaps to be considered in the future.

Committee heard the proposal to consider limiting the number of terms for which an individual MLA could be re-elected. Incumbency was mentioned as one of the biggest struggles to overcome for new candidates. Limiting the number of terms would encourage change and allow a greater number of different individuals to take of the challenge of serving as a Member of the Legislative Assembly. It would also, however, deprive the legislature of the wisdom that comes from having experienced MLAs in office.

"I used to think two terms should be the limit. I did not realize then that one term is barely enough to understand what you are doing. So maybe three terms, that would be 12 years. It is hard to say. Incumbency is such an obstacle. (Chris Westwell, Public Hearing Fort Smith, 8 January 2019).

Another suggestion is rotating of the Deputy Speaker among men and women MLAs. In this proposal, there would be two Deputy Speakers, one woman and one man, and a rule that requires the Deputy Speakers to alternate when taking on their duties.

Mr. Speaker, I now pass the reading of the next section to my honourable colleague for Range Lake. Mahsi.