This is page numbers 6289 - 6352 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 assembly.

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Committee Motion 246-18(3): Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment Report on the Perceptions Held by Northern Businesses Toward the Government of the Northwest Territories' Procurement Processes - Government Response to Recommendations, carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, committee. We have concluded consideration of Committee Report 29-18(3), Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment Report on the Perceptions Held by Northern Businesses Toward the Government of the Northwest Territories' Procurement Processes. Does committee agree?

Committee Motion 246-18(3): Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment Report on the Perceptions Held by Northern Businesses Toward the Government of the Northwest Territories' Procurement Processes - Government Response to Recommendations, carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Some Hon. Members

Agreed.

Committee Motion 246-18(3): Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment Report on the Perceptions Held by Northern Businesses Toward the Government of the Northwest Territories' Procurement Processes - Government Response to Recommendations, carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, committee. We will take a short recess.

---SHORT RECESS

Committee Motion 246-18(3): Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment Report on the Perceptions Held by Northern Businesses Toward the Government of the Northwest Territories' Procurement Processes - Government Response to Recommendations, carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, committee. I will now call Committee of the Whole back to order. Committee, we have agreed to next consider Committee Report 32-18(3), Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment, Committee Report on the Process Used for Devolution Legislation Initiatives. I will go to the chair of the Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment for any opening comments. Mr. Vanthuyne.

Committee Motion 246-18(3): Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment Report on the Perceptions Held by Northern Businesses Toward the Government of the Northwest Territories' Procurement Processes - Government Response to Recommendations, carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Cory Vanthuyne Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Chair. During the course of committee's review of the seven devolution-related bills, we found that each department approached bills in a different way. We also found that, while the bills had some common language, other common concepts were not treated similarly in the bills. Rather than making recommendations in each report, the committee decided to issue an overarching report on the process. The recommendations in this report should be considered extensions of the recommendations found in the reports committee has already presented. With that, Mr. Chair, we have a number of motions towards recommendations that I will put forward at the appropriate time. Individual Members may have additional comments or questions. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Committee Motion 246-18(3): Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment Report on the Perceptions Held by Northern Businesses Toward the Government of the Northwest Territories' Procurement Processes - Government Response to Recommendations, carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Mr. Vanthuyne. I will now open the floor to general comments on Committee Report 32-18(3), starting with Mr. Simpson.

Committee Motion 246-18(3): Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment Report on the Perceptions Held by Northern Businesses Toward the Government of the Northwest Territories' Procurement Processes - Government Response to Recommendations, carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Once again, I want to thank our staff for putting together yet another report on top of all of the other reports they had to put together. The committee found itself in a pretty unique position at the tail end of this Assembly. We were tasked with reviewing a number of devolution-related bills from a number of different departments, and I think it offered us a unique perspective, and I think this report is important in highlighting that. It could be very useful for the future Assembly, future Cabinet, and future standing committees.

Because we looked at bills from different departments, I think we saw things in a way that Cabinet did not see. When we get bills, all of the committee delves right deep into them. We have researchers working across the different bills, and we have a lot of cross-over; whereas I do not think there is that equivalent in Cabinet; I think things are a little more compartmentalized. So we were able to see a unique perspective, and I think that what's contained in this report are the kind of details you would like to see hashed out before this devolution process began or the work on this devolution legislation began, but, because there is not that sort of central policy shop in Cabinet, I think that was not able to be done and each department took their own approach. So I think all of this stuff in here, pretty much everything, is just a practical recommendation that will improve the way legislation is created and the way legislation is reviewed, and I hope that everyone supports it because there should not be anything controversial about what this report discusses. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Committee Motion 246-18(3): Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment Report on the Perceptions Held by Northern Businesses Toward the Government of the Northwest Territories' Procurement Processes - Government Response to Recommendations, carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Mr. Simpson. Next, we have Mr. Testart.

Committee Motion 246-18(3): Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment Report on the Perceptions Held by Northern Businesses Toward the Government of the Northwest Territories' Procurement Processes - Government Response to Recommendations, carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I really am appreciative of the committee staff and the committee members who worked on this report, but staff really deserves an important shout-out. We, the Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment, had an unprecedented legislative agenda that it was seized with, and common issues arose from each of those around the unique nature of co-drafting bills in a special relationship with Indigenous people as guaranteed by the intergovernmental agreement, and that was broadened in some cases to include Indigenous nations that had not signed on to devolution, so this was a really wide-ranging, important process that speaks to this government's commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and nations. I think it's a very commendable effort. I am reminded of the Premier's call to "devolve and evolve."

It is with some regret, though, that there was a different approach taken by each of the sponsoring Ministers on each of the bills, and I would hope, if it is to realize that promise of evolution after devolution, that we have a common approach to how we deal with these things. Another key concern was the capacity issues that were shared with us by Indigenous governments and nations, that some wanted to fully participate and were impeded by a lack of capacity, so there are many recommendations to deal with this. This was a very worthwhile exercise, and I think it shows a lot of good will and a lot of commitment towards reconciliation when a public government gives up its exclusive right to draft public bills and opens and shares the pen with Indigenous governments and nations. I think that is a really landmark sea change and is very unique to the Northwest Territories, and the government should be commended.

The purpose of this report is not to scold or chide government on what they could have done better but to offer really common sense, practical observations of how this process can be done better in the future and how we can ensure that our efforts towards reconciliation through this process can be continued, strengthened, and ultimately result in a lasting positive relationship with Indigenous peoples and nations. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Committee Motion 246-18(3): Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment Report on the Perceptions Held by Northern Businesses Toward the Government of the Northwest Territories' Procurement Processes - Government Response to Recommendations, carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Mr. Testart. Any further comments from committee? Mr. McNeely.

Committee Motion 246-18(3): Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment Report on the Perceptions Held by Northern Businesses Toward the Government of the Northwest Territories' Procurement Processes - Government Response to Recommendations, carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Daniel McNeely Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I, too, would like to thank the staff for the many reports that were edited and drafted and edited and drafted again during this whole legislation review. I recognize since the days of our government leader Nellie Cournoyea saying devolution would be a timely one for this government to take over the responsibilities of its own resources and its own land and the management of those, and I was quite pleased to hear the announcement made back in 2014 that the success of negotiations ceased and the devolution was concluded. In some opinions, it may not be the best one, but this is what we have. It certainly sets the foundation of governing your own resources towards your own concluded destiny as a consensus government. This report, as the chair had mentioned, overarches the many devolution acts or bills and brings it into one with one follow-up report and summarizes the consolidated legislation related to that sector. I see this as a punctual or sound management practice to follow up with a report to government and saying right here, "This is our summarized version."

It is great to see that government has reached out to the IGC, and a smaller group representing the IGC, through the TWG, or the technical working group, and using the technical working group as stakeholder engagement throughout the devolution upgrade-to-modernization process.

It seems that all of the systems are there, and I don't feel that it would be appropriate to negatively discuss or share on the downfalls of what we went through on these pieces of legislation coming to fruition today or arriving at this point. I am of the opinion that here is the report, and government can use that or portions of it to design the appropriate measures that one could call more efficient. Thank you, Mr. Chair

Committee Motion 246-18(3): Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment Report on the Perceptions Held by Northern Businesses Toward the Government of the Northwest Territories' Procurement Processes - Government Response to Recommendations, carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Mr. McNeely. Next, we have Mr. O'Reilly.

Committee Motion 246-18(3): Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment Report on the Perceptions Held by Northern Businesses Toward the Government of the Northwest Territories' Procurement Processes - Government Response to Recommendations, carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Thanks, Mr. Chair. I want to commend our committee for spending some time thinking about this. I wish that we had had the luxury of a little bit more time.

I don't think that we sufficiently appreciate that this is a watershed moment in governance in the Northwest Territories. GNWT actually took over management of land and water resources. As part of that arrangement, there were commitments, maybe even legal requirements, that changes in the way that things are done, in terms of how we relate to land and water, have to be done differently now. There are requirements in place that Indigenous governments have to be involved, not just in setting the principles, but should be involved in the drafting of new legislation moving forward.

This is something that hasn't been done before in other jurisdictions, and I think that it is something that we can and should be very proud of. I think we have some mixed successes, some lessons learned, and I think that that is what committee has been reflecting on with this report. As I said, I wish we had the luxury of a little bit more time to put some time and reflection into this.

There are three parts to this committee report. There is a lot of discussion in here about the co-development process, based on what we heard from Indigenous governments, and from Ministers and staff, as well. There are also some considerations of what role the public can and should be playing in this new co-development world. There is also some discussion and thought about what role standing committee has, because I don't think that that had even really been contemplated at the beginning of the process, and I am still trying to figure out what that role can and should be.

I do want to make some observations. There were very different approaches adopted by different departments, and sometimes even within a department, when it came to bringing forward post-devolution legislation. With ENR, there was the Protected Areas Act, the Forest Act, and the Environmental Rights Act.

I think that it is fair to say that, on the Protected Areas Act, there was pretty good collaboration and an effort to expedite that. Although I didn't really get everything I wanted, I think that, at the end of the day, it was a pretty good result for our citizens. I don't think that I can say that about the Forest Act. In fact, the Minister himself recognized that there were issues and problems with the speed at which it had been developed and, to his credit, I think it was the best decision for all our citizens, withdrew the bill. The Environmental Rights Act, I think, is probably more of a mixed approach with mixed results.

I guess I will say a little bit about Lands. With the Public Land Act, I think my views are on record, but I think that there can and should have been greater collaboration with the standing committee and even the public, because what was delivered was certainly not what was expected. I think that there were major policy issues with it, which leads me back now to ITI.

On the petroleum side, the idea was to make, basically, a two-phased approach, one to deal with some administrative, more urgent, matters with the Oil and Gas Operations Act and the Petroleum Resources Act. I think those were handled reasonably well. We may not have agreed on all of the outcomes, there is still a lot more work that can and should be done there, but I think that there have been some significant improvements made to those pieces of legislation.

Last, but not least, was the Mineral Resources Act, and I think that I have a lot more to say about that. I am going to say some remarks later today, but that is kind of the model of how not to do legislation, in my view. Information was not shared with committee. I had to go and actually use access to information requests to try to get information out of the Minister. That's not appropriate in a consensus-style government, but the Minister and his staff did eventually work better with committee towards the end. If the concerns and issues that were being brought forward by committee didn't fit within the square peg, it wasn't going to work. That is an unfortunate example, I think, of how legislation should not be developed in a consensus government system.

I think that the recommendations that committee has come up with here are in the spirit of trying to improve the process moving forward. There were ideas brought to the committee about some of this, and I specifically want to thank the NWT Metis Nation, because they actually had some very good ideas about how we can improve co-development.

The Sahtu Secretariat actually recommended that an audit be done. I think that it was more of an evaluation, but I think that that is a good idea, and as I understand it, there is to be some sort of lessons-learned workshop or effort amongst some of the individuals working for Indigenous governments, to survey them and find out how things could be done differently and better. I think we have some ideas in here as well. I think that this would be really fruitful ground for academics, researchers, northern students, to study and look at how the co-development process has worked with this first round and how we can further improve it.

There are a number of recommendations here, Mr. Chair, that I hope that Cabinet will take seriously, as we pass the baton on to the 19th Assembly, to improve this co-development process moving forward. Thanks, Mr. Chair.

Committee Motion 246-18(3): Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment Report on the Perceptions Held by Northern Businesses Toward the Government of the Northwest Territories' Procurement Processes - Government Response to Recommendations, carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Mr. O'Reilly. Next, we have Mr. Nakimayak.

Committee Motion 246-18(3): Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment Report on the Perceptions Held by Northern Businesses Toward the Government of the Northwest Territories' Procurement Processes - Government Response to Recommendations, carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

August 21st, 2019

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Herbert Nakimayak Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and also, thanks to committee for the work on this report. Mr. Chair, I look at all of these bills that we have been working on recently. I look at this, and it says "devolution" across it, and sometimes we see a draft, and I think, coming from Inuvialuit Settlement Region, our working relationship is never perfect, but nothing ever is. There are differences between Indigenous governments, points of view, even though they sit at borders, look at the languages. Those are different. When you have those little bit of differences within Indigenous peoples or even with the governments on the language of bills, there are some differences.

I see my fellow Inuvialuit coming to the capital to negotiate with the Government of the Northwest Territories, and I am actually proud of that.

I would like to thank the committee for highlighting all of these. Some of these are issues that need to be worked out. At the same time, as I mentioned, we all have our differences, but when we work towards something together, that is when we actually make progress. This is it.

As we move in to the end of this Assembly, we have a couple of days left. I think we have a lot to be proud of as a government as a whole. Sometimes, we don't celebrate the altogether. I think we always reference somewhere else and something else. The fact of the matter is: we are here right now, and we were here for four years. We need to look at the progress that we have made and the progress we hope to make moving ahead. I would just like to congratulate everybody on this.

Like I said, I look at all these bills and all the amendments to all these bills. I see Indigenous governments, Indigenous groups in a lot of this. I think that this is actually a step in the right direction. I just wanted to share that. Thank you, Mr. Chair.