This is page numbers of the Hansard for the 19th Assembly, 2nd 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 know.

Topics

Members Present

Hon. Diane Archie, Hon. Frederick Blake Jr., Mr. Bonnetrouge, Hon. Paulie Chinna, Ms. Cleveland, Hon. C. Cochrane, Mr. Edjericon, Hon. Julie Green, Mr. Johnson, Ms. Martselos, Ms. Nokleby, Mr. O'Reilly, Ms. Semmler, Hon. R.J. Simpson, Mr. Rocky Simpson, Hon. Shane Thompson, Hon. Caroline Wawzonek, Ms. Weyallon-Armstrong.

The House met at 1:30 p.m.

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The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Yesterday, the honourable Minister of Health and Social Services rose on a Point of Order in response to a statement by the Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh. The Minister believes the Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh was out of order. She said he made allegations against her and imputed false motives. The Minister relied on Rule 3.2(3) sub-sections (h) and (i).

When deciding whether language used in this Chamber is unparliamentary, Speaker Lafferty, on June 23rd, 2017 said that the Speaker must take "...into account the tone, manner and intention of the Member speaking; the person to whom the words at issue were directed, the degree of provocation; and, most importantly, whether or not the remarks created disorder in the Chamber."

I note that I have no jurisdiction over comments made outside this House or in the media.

I reviewed the unedited transcripts from Hansard from May 30, 2022. The Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh used language that was strong, even inflammatory. Previous Speakers have decided that such language is not always a violation of the Rules of this Assembly.
however, the Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh did more than use strong and inflammatory language.

On page 9 of unedited Hansard, the Member said "it is not appropriate to attempt to silence, validate criticism of their portfolio by threatening the integrity of the healthcare services in the community that I represent." The Member went on to say that the Minister was "even trying to gaslight patients who received unacceptable care into believing that it was their own fault for failing to advocate for their own medical conditions."

These two comments went beyond what is appropriate debate. The Minister has a valid Point of Order.

Rule 3.2(3)(h) makes it clear that it is out of order to make an allegation against another Member. In this case, the Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh made two allegations against the Minister. Also, the Member's language was unparliamentary.

The Member accused the Minister of gaslighting patients. Gaslighting is a practice of psychological manipulation which is meant to make a person question their own version of events.

I note that on July 7, 2020 the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island found that an allegation of "gaslighting" was unparliamentary and out of order. I agree.

I expect Members of this House to conduct themselves appropriately. The language you use in the House should reflect this. While it is appropriate to share what constituents are saying to you, you must share those concerns in a manner that is consistent with the rules.

As I have found the Member out of order, I will now ask the Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh to apologize to the House and withdraw the specific remarks found out of order.

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Richard Edjericon Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And thank you for your comments and your ruling. At this point, Mr. Speaker, I represent my community, and I've listened to a lot of people speak and the issue that's in front of us that we're talking about is near and dear to a lot of people in my constituency and at this point, Mr. Speaker -- I could talk a little bit more about the issue but at this point I am not able to apologize. Thank you.

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The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh. I found your remarks out of order and will ask you again to apologize and withdraw your remarks. If you do not do this, I will be required to name you and ask you to remove yourself from the Chamber for the rest of the day. Thank you. Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

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Richard Edjericon Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. You know, again, I'm just representing my constituents, bringing their issues forward, and I will stand by my remarks. Thank you, I will not apologize.

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The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you. Mr. Edjericon, pursuant to Rule 3.4, it is my duty as Speaker to name you. Please remove yourself from today's proceedings for the remainder of this sitting day. Thank you.

Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission

Minister's Statement 249-19(2): Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission Youth Safety Leadership Program
Ministers' Statements

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Mr. Speaker, whether a business is small or large, having a safe and healthy workplace is crucial for success. I am pleased to inform the House today that the Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission is now accepting applications for a new Youth Safety Leadership Program.

This is an opportunity for young workers between ages of 14 and 24 in the Northwest Territories to develop as safe leaders within their communities and build skills that could lead towards rewarding career in the workplace health and safety.

The program includes online learning modules that focus on safety training, collaboration and leadership skills. In addition, the program includes volunteer projects within each participant's home community, and the opportunity to work with safety leaders and mentors from local businesses.

Mr. Speaker, I encourage Members to share this opportunity with their constituents. It is an excellent first step for anyone interested in exploring a career in safety or for those simply working to ensure a safer future for themselves in any industry.

Applications for the program are now open for youth in all communities ages 14 to 24 on the Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission's website.

I would also like to thank the staff of Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission for developing this training opportunity for our young people and our future employment across the Northwest Territories. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 249-19(2): Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission Youth Safety Leadership Program
Ministers' Statements

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Environment and Natural Resources.

Minister's Statement 250-19(2): 2022 Wildfire Season
Ministers' Statements

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, wildfires are an important part of the boreal forest, and naturally occurring fires are essential to ensuring forests remain healthy and sustainable. Allowing forest fires to burn where possible allows forests to regenerate and help to avoid larger and more dangerous fires later. All wildfires in the NWT are monitored and managed to ensure they do not pose a risk or threat to people, communities, infrastructure, or other assets.

Mr. Speaker, wildfire management starts before there is even a spark.

The Government of the Northwest Territories works with our partners throughout the year to promote FireSmart principles within our forested communities. FireSmart means working together, from individual residents to neighbours to communities and all levels of government, to keep residents safe, to be prepared, and to be more resilient when wildfires strike.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources encourages NWT residents to take steps around their homes, businesses, camps, and cabins to reduce the risk of wildfires, wildfire damage.

We have developed new resources for kids, adults, and businesses to provide information and tools. Our FireSmart presence online has been overhauled and we have invested in a targeted marketing campaign to build FireSmart awareness. We are working with communities on training, community protection plans, and preparedness, so we are ready for wildfires before they even begin.

This year, four communities took the initiative to plan wildfire community protection days. Activities took place in Fort Smith, Kakisa, Tulita, and Yellowknife, including along the Ingraham Trail at Tibbitt Lake. This is the most community engagement we have seen in the territory in any single year.

We encourage residents to take FireSmart steps at home, steps like keeping the area within a metre-and-a-half of their home or cabin free of material that can burn, as well as cleaning brush and branches from their yard.

Mr. Speaker, NWT fire crews, and a team of technical and operational staff, have supported them and have been busy preparing for this year's fire season. Well-trained firefighters are ready to go across the NWT, including many who are members of contracted crews managed by local Indigenous governments and businesses. Air tankers and other key wildfire management equipment are also at the ready.
We have 36 four-man crews to attack fires, and five air tanker groups ready to support fire operations wherever they are needed throughout the fire season.

Mr. Speaker, protecting NWT residents and communities is a top priority as we deliver these essential services. For the past two seasons, our wildfire teams were required to adhere to strict COVID-19 protocols, and this summer we will continue to make adjustments so that we have healthy crews to respond to fires when needed.

We have hired additional staff in smaller communities to reduce the need to bring in firefighters from other regions, or outside the territory, and we will have access to additional air tankers to respond to fires when they are small. While we are ready to respond to wildfires when we need to, it is important that we continue to take steps this summer to prevent them before they start.

Mr. Speaker, it is very important that we all take steps to prevent human-caused wildfires. Experience tells us that wildfires caused by humans tend to happen closer to towns and often threaten homes and cabins. I encourage all residents to be safe this summer when you go out on the land, enjoying the natural beauty of the NWT. Make sure to properly manage campfires and burn piles and be careful with cigarettes. Let us do our part to prevent forest fires. That includes understanding the environmental conditions and the fire danger level before you go out. It also means avoiding campfires when the fire danger is high or extreme, unless a fire is necessary for cooking or warmth.

In closing, I would like to recognize the firefighters and wildfire management teams across the NWT for all that you do to keep NWT residents and families safe. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 250-19(2): 2022 Wildfire Season
Ministers' Statements

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Industry, Tourism and Investment.

Minister's Statement 251-19(2): Maximizing the NWT's Environmental, Social and Governance and Environmental, Social, and Governance - Indigenous Advantage
Ministers' Statements

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker, Environmental, Social, and Governance, or ESG principles, have become more prevalent over the past few years in the mineral resources industry, with investors, demographic groups, and the general public, demanding stronger ESG investments from business and industry.

A global movement towards ESG investment and social consciousness is good news for the Northwest Territories because we are leaders in ESG measures and performance. We are, in fact, already moving toward advocating for the next generation of ESG through an Indigenous lens, or ESG-I, an approach that breaks down barriers and ensures Indigenous people are at the decision-making table from the start.

Mr. Speaker, the Northwest Territories began its mineral resource industry with gold, then transitioned into the diamond capital of North America, positioning itself as an ethical stable democracy and a dedicated steward of the land enabling responsible resource development. While companies like Arctic Star and Mountain Province Diamond are currently finding kimberlites, we also have well-established critical minerals projects with NICO, Pine Point, and Prairie Creek that are nearing mine construction decisions. And with the Nechalacho Rare Earth Elements Project, the Northwest Territories has the first rare earths mine in Canada, with the potential for many years of production.

In the coming months, as we advance work on the NWT Critical Minerals Action Plan, ESG-I standards and associated initiatives, we will engage with stakeholders and partners to ensure the Northwest Territories' collaborative spirit guides our work as we renew our focus on sustaining our mineral resource sector.

Mr. Speaker, next month I will be attending the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada in Toronto, one of the world's premier mineral resource sector conferences. Before I share our message on that stage, I wanted to first remind colleagues, residents, and businesses about our leadership potential in this global movement. I want to especially highlight our ESG-I strengths in our governing relationships and our regulatory approach.

The 2014 Northwest Territories Devolution Agreement established the Intergovernmental Council to allow the public and Indigenous governments to collaborate on matters related to lands and resource management while respecting the autonomy and authority of each government. This council is an important central figure as the Northwest Territories shifts progressively to an ESG-I model.

Mr. Speaker, in early May, the Gahcho Kue mine received the prestigious Towards Sustainable Mining Excellence Award from the Mining Association of Canada.

Gahcho Kue's commitment and focus on community engagement and environmental stewardship is a reflection of the relationships and respect that exist between Northwest Territories' mining industry and Indigenous governments and organizations. This award, to an NWT-based project, highlights to investors the ESG and ESG-I practices that set the Northwest Territories apart from other jurisdictions.

Founded in a first-class regulatory regime under the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act 25 years ago, our regulatory framework places environmental protection, traditional knowledge, and Indigenous rights at the centre of decision-making. It has flourished thanks to partnerships amongst the Northwest Territories' diamond industry, northern and Indigenous governments, and communities.

Mr. Speaker, our regulatory system is comprehensive and recognizes many of the issues that are important not only to our citizens, including environmental protection and Indigenous rights, but form cornerstones of ESG. That said, there is an opportunity for improvement in the timeliness, clarity, and certainty of our regulatory framework.

We are in a transition period. We are putting new, first-of-its-kind, modern mineral resource legislation and companion regulations in place, with features like formalized benefit agreements and online map staking. We continue to dialogue with partners to identify and advance operational improvements in regulatory processes for exploration projects. We have a well-established approach to sharing the social and economic benefits of mineral development with Indigenous governments. And we have begun the conversation to move our territory's land and water boards, the final piece of our regulatory process, into the hands of responsible northern governments.

Mr. Speaker, today's Northwest Territories mineral resource industry is innovative, collaborative, and focused on environmental stewardship and Northern benefits. It is guided, in part, by the pioneering and resourceful geoscientists who apply science and knowledge from the search for natural resources to mitigating and adapting to the impacts of climate change. It coordinates with the GNWT and Indigenous governments to enhance resources for capacity building and support resource revenue sharing across different levels of government.

The global industry is catching up to the Northwest Territories and our practices that we have honed over nearly three decades.

In the coming years of work on our regulatory processes, with our collaborative best practices and potential resources still untapped, we can set our jurisdiction apart as one that has great potential and investor confidence in our leading-edge environmental, social, and governance principles.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 251-19(2): Maximizing the NWT's Environmental, Social and Governance and Environmental, Social, and Governance - Indigenous Advantage
Ministers' Statements

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Members' statements. Member for Hay River South.

Member's Statement 1111-19(2): Supports for Businesses Affected by Flooding in Hay River
Members' Statements

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Mr. Speaker, the flooding in Hay River, West Point, and K'atlodeeche has impacted businesses in the fishing, agricultural and tourism sectors. Mr. Speaker, these business sectors are not only important to those that participate in them, but also to those persons and businesses that purchase the products from those sectors.

The agricultural sector, which has several producers located at Paradise Valley, was significantly impacted by this year's flood and may not be prepared, or be fully prepared, for this production season.

The fishing sector businesses, which are primarily located in the West Channel, West Point, and Old Town, had much of their equipment compromised which will now require not only cleanup but purchasing new equipment to replace what was lost or damaged. This may translate into a late start.

We have two tourism operators located on the shore of the Great Slave Lake, with one suffering severe damage to buildings and equipment for the second year in a row and will require major repairs.

The Wharf Pavilion, in the Old Town, allows vendors to cater to residents, visitors, and tourists, suffered flood damage and will require cleanup and repairs. This is expected to delay its opening this season.

Mr. Speaker, the effect of this flood goes beyond damage to property. It affects the seasonal livelihood of many business owners, their employees and customers. Some of the flood damage in these sector businesses may be covered by the Disaster Assistance Policy. The question is, does the Disaster Assistance Policy compensate for loss of revenue and wages - a question asked by business owners.

Without revenue and wages, these business owners, operators and workers, may step back and look for alternate employment that will provide immediate income to put food on the table while they rebuild. That, along with waiting on funds to repair damage, or replace damaged equipment, may result in a lost season for some business owners and operators.

Mr. Speaker, this government has made major investments in each of the fishing, agricultural, and tourism sectors in Hay River. We have a $15 million fish plant being constructed in the hope of revitalizing a commercial fishing industry, which industry has now been delivered another blow by flooding. We have seen contributions and supports provided to the agricultural sector to build infrastructure which is now compromised and damaged. Tourism operators and facilities are situated in flood-prone areas and continue to be impacted year after year with no resolve.

Before we lose these sectors, we must provide those business owners and operators with some immediate financial supports to supplement the Disaster Assistance Policy funding. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Member's Statement 1111-19(2): Supports for Businesses Affected by Flooding in Hay River
Members' Statements

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, member for Hay River South. Members' statements. Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes.