This is page numbers 6869 - 6942 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

Ms. Wawzonek's Reply
Replies To The Commissioner's Address

October 6th, 2023

Page 6893

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure anyone's still listening but if they are -- maybe I'll get a copy of Hansard and put this in my transition binder.

Mr. Speaker, I'm not really the touchie-feelie speech writer type; that's not really how I went through the court system so you can put your Kleenex away. I also, in general, the Commissioner's address is something I thought I would do because I don't get the chance to speak much, I gather. Thanks to Member from Frame Lake, apparently I'm in error. Apparently I speak a lot. Sorry, everyone, I was going to make up for that today so it's a bit long but I don't think -- I think you've all beat me anyway so I'm in a good stead.

Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I'm an optimist. Being an optimist and being a politician are not an easy combination. And these last four years, as we've all been saying now for a few hours, have had nothing short of crisis and those crisis have done their best to break an optimist's habit. Before we'd even passed our first budget, my first budget in this Assembly, there was COVID. This taxed our already maxed-out health care system. Then there was some supply chain shocks, floods, inflation, more floods, wildfires, record low water levels, challenges with the food resupplies, and challenges to our electricity systems that are now looking to have to use more expensive and carbon intensive diesel. Mr. Speaker, it is hard to be an optimist right now.

But way back in February of 2020, when people were still associating COVID with cruise ships and inflation was well under 2 percent, the Commissioner said the following in her address, People need a strong and secure foundation on which to grow, and, Mr. Speaker, I believe we have that strong foundation. I will not go so far as to say that the foundation is secure in the sense of being sustainable because I think a lot depends on what happens here in the next few years. But I do believe the foundation, at least, is there.

Some of what this government has achieved, even in the face of the recurrent crisis, has helped established that foundation. This is true across government but in the attempt to summarize or simplify will be just that; it will be too summary and too simple. So while this is not an exhaustive list, I have a few thoughts.

The government renewal program and the program evaluation policy that goes with it.

Mr. Speaker, back when I started, we did not know all of the programs and services that were offered by the Government of the Northwest Territories. I find that a bit striking. We now know. And we discovered that there's around 200 programs that had no evaluation matrix associated to them. While on the one hand you might not be proud of that, on the other I'm very proud we now know that and we can move forward.

Mr. Speaker, we now have a human resources strategic plan, the Indigenous Recruitment and Retention Framework. It has published targets associated with it, diversity and inclusion framework, and succession planning. Mr. Speaker, let that sink in that we didn't have any of that before the start of this Assembly.

Our capital planning, Mr. Speaker, we are delivering a capital plan that we can actually achieve that makes it more transparent and makes it much easier to hold departments to account for the delivery.

Mr. Speaker, on procurement. Like human resources, let me pause for a moment on these few facts. Three years ago, there was multiple different versions of the objectives and purposes across multiple departments for government procurement. Is it any wonder that people were challenged with that system, and there was no methodical way to answer whether a proponent was, in fact, delivering on the promises for local employment or purchases. It is hardly a wonder that this was such an issue at the beginning of the Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, I believe we put ourselves on the map as a location for environmental, social, and good governance investment -- a term I didn't even know existed four years ago -- and as a source of critical minerals and metals, something I also didn't hear much about just four years ago. For the Mineral Resources Act regulations, somewhat much maligned at times, Mr. Speaker, but, Mr. Speaker, it has completed six of seven steps in the brand new Intergovernmental Council Legislative Protocol. That's an accomplishment.

And last but not least on my list, Mr. Speaker, having an action plan for the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry is a significant step forward, and it was one that was slowed down, intentionally, to go back and consult with communities along the way. It also has a translator's booklet associated to it that is foundational in that space for the North where we have 11 different official languages.

Mr. Speaker, I am not the only political optimist, and I'll give you an example coming from the conclusion of the Northwest Territories chapter of the Arctic and Northern Policy Framework. It speaks to barriers and challenges but it has a hint of optimism. It says this: It is time for Canadians to look North, to look beyond the cultural methodology we have created about the Arctic, to its real potential to add to Canada's social and economic strength and global advantage, end quote.

The existence of a methodology about a distant and mysterious and exotic and maybe harsh or inaccessible Arctic allows Canada to be disconnected from the realities of the North. That disconnect leaves the incredible potential of the Northwest Territories' people, lands, geography, culture, and geology misunderstood and, frankly, underestimated. That disconnect also allows a lack of understanding about the striking disadvantage against which northern people are still trying to succeed.

Mr. Speaker, it is in the interests of the rest of Canada to take note. A few examples, if I may.

The Inuvialuit settlement lands have tremendous reserves of liquid natural gas. That's something of much interest around the world right now. And the IRC should be given the opportunity to capitalize on that, should they choose.

Our territory has a wealth of critical minerals and metals in a jurisdiction where our industry practices reflect environmental, social, and good governance factors. I've had the opportunity to travel to many countries in the world and, Mr. Speaker, our tourism product is incredible. This is my favorite place in the world. We have lands and waters primed for Indigenous-led conservation initiatives which would come with their own economic, social, and cultural opportunities. We have incredible freshwater fish. We have a growing satellite facility up in the North. There's film scouts that are coming to look for our unique locations. There's strategic geopolitical placement here. And this is not meant to be the rah-rah for the ITI minister, I assure you. What it is is two-fold.

First -- and the list could be much longer. I'll stop in light of time, Mr. Speaker. But, first, it's my frustration at how much hustle it seems like it takes for Ottawa to take notice of us. And this is not meant at every Minister or department who are members of the federal public service or the federal government. And, indeed, Mr. Speaker, I am lucky that there are some Ministers with whom I value a relationship. But on a larger, wider and higher scale, there are growth opportunities in the Northwest Territories that could benefit all of Canada with a bit more attention.

Part of our challenge involves the need to overcome historic and systemic disadvantage. The Northwest Territories has the highest proportion of residential school survivors. It should be little surprise, then, that we also have some of the highest rates of family violence and some of the highest rates of suicide in Canada, and yet our Indigenous communities cannot access 100 percent funding after emergencies that on reserve communities might access, as one example.

Our government remains responsible for the delivery of health and social services, justice, and housing, among other services. Those are services that are often drawn down when people have greater mental health needs or other personal challenges. And of course as we all know, and you've all heard me say, we get a huge proportion of our budget from the territorial formula financing. That complex calculation is meant to account for what provinces are able to provide to their residents and then adjust so that the territories can, theoretically, provide something similar. Except that the last time that that calculation was given a detailed once over was sometime ago and over recent years, it has become clear Indigenous people of Canada have far greater needs owing to Canada's troubled relationship with Indigenous people. And I cannot help but question whether the equation, in fact, adequately takes into account that 50 percent of the residents of the Northwest Territories are Indigenous Canadians, many still living in traditional communities, and all of us lacking in a national scale energy or transportation corridor infrastructure. Even if it does take some of that into account and even if it does give us money that brings us to a provincial level, Mr. Speaker, that does not put our population at an equal footing. And I won't even start getting into programs where the federal government seems to outright forget the realities of the North, like in our health care funding, medical travel, or Metis health benefits.

My other purpose with that laundry list I had at the beginning about opportunities here in the Northwest Territories, however, is that we must also take responsibility for our collective future North of 60.

Mr. Speaker, it's too often that we seem to bog down at the edges of big issues, spend time on what divides us rather than what could or should unite us. And I'm going to give one example, and that is what is the energy future for the Northwest Territories. In the years to come, hauling diesel long distances across the territory by road only to then transfer it to an even more carbon intensive means of transport like barging, that is not going to be a viable method of powering the Northwest Territories. And any chance we have of reducing the cost of power will not count via a patchwork of disconnected systems. Is Taltson the answer, Mr. Speaker? Well, it might be. It is clearly a billion-dollar-plus sized project, but why did it not proceed before? What were the consequences of it not proceeding? Well, for one, the three diamond mines that now have to create their our own power systems are likely now facing, sooner than not end of life because they have to instead incur the high costs of trucking diesel up the winter road. What about the future for critical minerals and metals? There's major demand coming. But they're expecting to be able to have green energy. Well, how are we going to supply it, Mr. Speaker? I think that's true for a lot of institutional investors in different sectors, not only here. What are we going to do to respond? So what are we offering? What are we offering to the exploration companies and others? What about to the existing mines? What MOUs might have been signed with NTPC? What kind of collaboration has there been between our energy team and industry? What other alternatives might there be, in fact, that could provide equivalent megawatts? Any? Do we need all the megawatts? Where do we need the megawatts? When would we need them? If we don't need them, does that answer our need for Taltson? Maybe and maybe not. What other benefits are there for a large system like Taltson? What about small modular reactors, Mr. Speaker? What about micronuclear? And how does the proposed timeline to complete transmission on Taltson compare to the predicted date for small modular reactors? How might the cost of large scale hydro compare to community scale hydro? Was that maybe what we need?

Mr. Speaker, I'm going to stop there but I could go on asking questions in the energy space for quite some time. And my point, Mr. Speaker, is that there are a multitude of questions that I think need to be asked about energy security for the Northwest Territories, and these questions don't necessarily require a final cost estimate calculated today with interest rates high and inflation all over. It's a point in time anyways, Mr. Speaker. But, really, I want us to imagine what if we spent some of the time that we did stating all the reasons we dislike the federal carbon tax or debating all the pros and cons, what if we did that and applied it to some of those questions? What if we took back some of the time we've spent talking about who's sitting on the board at NTPC and asked instead, regardless of who's there, what they are doing to build the industrial customer power base. They're territory-wide issues, Mr. Speaker. Energy is but one. There are many more such issues where we simply must get moving on territory level solutions. And if I was -- if it seems like I'm taking a dig at MLAs, Mr. Speaker, I'm not. There's a responsibility for asking these questions as Ministers as well, internally and externally. And there's also a responsibility within the media to ask these questions of all of us, both the Ministers and MLAs. I was using the example of Taltson specifically, but I do want to acknowledge that Members certainly have asked for progress and I am glad every single time that they do. But nonetheless, there have been many times where those conversations did get bogged down on which document we'd shared on board composition, on carbon tax, something about which I have had very little control, but it leaves my wondering why. Why did we get stuck on some of these topics and some of these issues about documents and composition of boards? And let me venture one observation for the remainder of my time.

I don't think there's enough trust in this building, Mr. Speaker. And it's not trust in any one single individual because relationships will faulter in which is sometimes a very emotional role. I mean trust in our system of government and in our collective group of leaders, both elected and in the public service.

My most challenging and disheartening moments in this role occur when our differences, which are the very aspects that, as I began by describing, could unite us, instead devolve into personal accusations, statements like you don't care, you want to cause pain. We might not agree on how to face our political challenges but no one in this room, I believe, no one in this room wants to cause the residents of the Northwest Territories any form of pain. That's nonsense. And this isn't merely a matter of argument style. Saying those types of things, Mr. Speaker, stifles our ability to continue to stand and engage in difficult debate. We need to rebuild trust, not only in our institutions but in each other, and in the ability to engage in difficult debates on substantial matters. And it doesn't mean that we don't have serious disagreements. I have had some serious disagreements, both with my Cabinet colleagues and with Members across the floor. And respecting them doesn't mean I'm going to invite them to dinner when all of this is over, Mr. Speaker, but surely, surely we can hang on to some basic respect for one another no matter how much we disagree on the politics.

It is not just us as Members. It is trust in government processes and trust in the public servants behind them that is often lacking. Mr. Speaker, we are all human, and the people who work in the public service are human. Some will work harder than others, and some will make mistakes. Please do not ever let one person ruin your faith in the ability of your friends and your neighbours who work for government. And I'll speak to that a bit more in just a moment.

My ask first, to anyone who steps in this building come November, is to please begin from a place of respect and try always to build trust. Even when it seems broken, please try again. Without this, progress on the big issues facing this territory will be much harder, and the discussion and the debate will not be ready. Mr. Speaker, I'm almost done. I have a few thank-yous so maybe get the Kleenex; we'll see how it goes.

I was new to the government service when I was elected in 2019. I had never been a member of the GNWT's public service and if I am being honest, I was unsure what I was going to find.

I am so grateful to the public service. In a consensus system, when people get upset with the government, which happens, it is the nature of governing, rather than blame the party who happens to be in power, which is what might happen in a party system, the ire and the frustration easily gets turned to the government generally, and the public service specifically, here in the Northwest Territories.

As of Wednesday, October the 4th, I have answered 1104 questions in the House. There's been a few more since then, but I haven't done the count. I have answered hundreds more questions in Committee of the Whole and hundreds more again in front of standing committees. And here's a secret. I did a lot of homework before I ran for office but four years ago, I knew very little about public accounts. I knew very little about the government fiscal framework. I could not have told you what an ESG might stand for. I certainly could not have explained digital government. I had competed on RFPs, but I did not know much about public procurement. And I can assure you I was quite unfamiliar with the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation. And so in order for me to answer literally thousands of questions about all of these different topics, and many more, I have relied on the public service. For every single question I have been asked, I assure you I have probably asked my staff and my departments at least two, and sometimes more. And often I have not only asked them to explain a concept or a process in excruciating detail, I have often then said but why is it so? And sometimes, often, they have answered with new policies, new processes, changes, legislative or regulatory changes, not to mention countless rewrites of the BF reply, the speaking notes, and the media releases. The poor comms folks.

Mr. Speaker, so much of this work is unseen and under appreciated but any success that I might have had in this role is thanks to members of the public service.

A true unsung public service hero is the role of the constituency assistant. It really doesn't have the right title, Mr. Speaker. For me, balancing the demands of a Minister's office and that of a MLA is challenging. I had many different channels by which people can reach me. Unfortunately, I am often overloaded by the one channel that I am standing behind here. Fortunately, I have someone with energy and passion, and I was never worried about missing a communication come in as an MLA. Nor was I worried whether or not my office would advance issues on behalf of my constituents, many of which my constituency assistant had to advance to me as a Minister so I know exactly how difficult and tenacious she can be. She was always accessible, she was deeply engaged, and I do not how I would have managed this role without her.

A huge thank you to my ministerial team at the Assembly. They have kept me, my correspondence, my briefings, and truly my life organized. I put everything in my calendar, every last sports event, every dentist office appointment for the kids, and they somehow have managed to work around that and balance that with all of the demands of this office. They have kept me calm. They have kept me functional. The volume of things means that all of this was no small feat. But beyond that, Mr. Speaker, they are the frontline of my office, and they are also the frontline for all the emotional highs and lows that come into a Minister's office.

I want to say thank you to my colleagues on Cabinet. We do not always agree, Mr. Speaker, notwithstanding the front that we like to put forward of being all calm and organized, but we did become a team. I am very grateful for this comradery. And thank you, Premier, for your leadership of our team.

Thank you to my colleagues in the House. We have had some laughs, Mr. Speaker. We have had some tough but good debates. I have learned a good many things. We also had a few other less than pleasant moments but I am pretty sure they are going to make some good Ministers some day, Mr. Speaker.

A thank you to my family. My spouse is at one of our remote mine sites most weeks from Monday to Thursday, and he just doesn't do the 12-hour days. His days are typically longer. But when he comes home, he has consistently asked me what can I do to help? He also happens to be my most difficult constituent and frequently tells me very plainly his views on what the government is doing. He is also my first gut check and has had to listen to many a political theory as I was trying to unpack an issue or a problem.

Thank you to my kids, Mr. Speaker. They have been troopers. They have become very independent confident young people over these last four years, and they are now exceptionally good at making breakfast for dinner on days when I am running late.

Thank you to the many many friends and neighbours who have helped drive my kids all over the city to various sports, had them over for play dates, and including sometimes some weeknight/school night sleepovers when required.

Last but not least, very importantly, a thank you to the residents of Yellowknife South. Many residents and their families have struggled with the recurring emergencies that we have all experienced in the last four years. Even when I have not been able to provide a preferred solution or answer a question the way someone clearly had hoped, residents have remained respectful. In a age of political polarization, I have been deeply grateful for that. Many have trusted me with their challenges and concerns, shared their struggles and Ministers with me. I am grateful for the trust they have placed in me. I am grateful for the kindness and the support that my residents have shown me. It has been truly an honour in this House to be here on behalf of Yellowknife South. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Ms. Wawzonek's Reply
Replies To The Commissioner's Address

Page 6895

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Yellowknife South. Replies to the Commissioner's address. Member for Hay River North.

Mr. R.J. Simpson's Reply
Replies To The Commissioner's Address

Page 6896

R.J. Simpson

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will keep this brief. I think I am the last on the list, we have been going over three hours, so I will do my best to keep this tight.

I just want to say a few thank you's before we finally and mercifully put the 19th Assembly out of its misery. Better late than never, Mr. Speaker. And I am just joking. I think that today has shown that despite a lot of the issues that, maybe even the public have seen over the years with some of the, you know, way that we interact with each other that this group, while maybe not as cohesive as it could be, everyone is working towards the same goal. Everyone has the people's -- the residents of the territories' best interests at heart. I am proud to be part of that, Mr. Speaker.

First and foremost, I want to thank the people who are the reason we are all here, and that's the constituents. So I want to thank my constituents, the constituents of Hay River North, for giving me the honour of serving two terms in the Legislative Assembly here. I can't even begin to explain what I have learned, what I have experienced here. It has been -- it has been truly amazing. I have met amazing people. Even in my own community. When you are an MLA, people come to you and they open up to you. You hear things that you don't expect to hear from people. And you really, you really get insight into their lives, into their families, into the history of the community, and it really brings you much closer to the community and that's something that I am always going to treasure, Mr. Speaker. And the people of Hay River have been through a lot, especially in the past five years. You know, we often talk about COVID as the beginning of the crisis after crisis. Well, in Hay River, just prior to COVID, we had the high-rise fire. Overnight, 150 people were homeless, just like that, Mr. Speaker. The other thing that that high-rise had, in addition to 150 people and their homes was vacancies. There was a time when you could go to Hay River and find somewhere to rent. If there was a teacher that the DEA wanted to hire, they didn't have to worry there was nowhere for them to live. And we lost all of that, Mr. Speaker.

Less than a year later, or almost a year later to the day, we started to deal with COVID. And for two years, we dealt with COVID and Hay River, I think, might have been more divided than any other community in the territory. And those wounds are still healing.

Mr. Speaker, after that came the flood - at that point, the biggest natural disaster in the territory's history. 50 homes damaged or destroyed. People are still dealing with that. People are still out of their homes.

After that, Mr. Speaker, almost a year to the day, was the first evacuation this year. And our neighbours over at KFN, a number of our neighbours lost their homes.

Not long after that, we all know what happened. The worst fire season in the history of the Northwest Territories. I got the evacuation alert and then we packed up -- we had been packing since that morning because when that wind picked up that morning, I thought that we should be prepared. And we drove out of town, I drove down to High Level, and by the time that I got there, there was no cell service. I tried to call home. I tried to call back to Hay River to see what was going on. Couldn't get through. I got a call from Minister Thompson. He was great about keeping me updated about what was going on and, basically, he said Enterprise is gone. And I couldn't fathom that. I couldn't understand that. And, Mr. Speaker, that's what happened.

And so the amount of homes that have been lost in Hay River, and our neighbours of Enterprise and KFN, over the past five years is extraordinary. It's unbelievable, and people have been dealing with a lot. And Mr. Speaker, that's on top of everyday life. Life can be tough in the best of times and so that backdrop for the past five years has been difficult for everyone, and I want to acknowledge their resilience and the struggles they have been through, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I've really -- I really enjoyed being a Regular Member. It's a much different lifestyle. I was home a lot more. I got to go to all of the events in the community. I talked to a lot of people. It was great. But as a Minister, I spend much more time either in Yellowknife, on the road, or in Hay River in my office and in meetings, virtual meetings, and so I don't get to go out as much and my constituency Ann has had to pick up that slack, and I really want to thank her as well.

People usually don't go to their MLA when they are happy about something, and so she has had to deal with some very angry people, some irate people, and it's tough. It can be tough on a person to sit there and deal with that, with all of these other things that I just mentioned, in the background as well. And so I am very appreciative of that and what she's been through.

Mr. Speaker, I am one of the MLAs for Hay River. I am lucky to have another colleague, the MLA for Hay River South, who is my dad. And, frankly, I don't think that I could ask for a better colleague to help me represent Hay River. I think if you look around the room here, I don't know if there is an MLA who is more universally respected or liked. I, in my hallway there, the Minister's hallway, I hear him in our hallway more often than any other Regular Member. He's not just lobbying; he's building relationships. And from my perspective in Cabinet, I can see that that has paid dividends for Hay River. When you are well informed, well researched, reasonable, rationable, likeable, you can -- you are influential, and I would recommend that anyone who, who is back here, look at some of those traits and tries to employ those, because I think that he has been perhaps the most effective Regular Member, and I am proud and honoured to be his colleague and work with him.

I also want to mention very briefly, because I can't talk too much about this, but in the last Assembly I had a colleague who was very influential to me, Alfred Moses. He really took me under his wing and, you know, I regret that we lost contact thereafter, after that last Assembly. But I really appreciate everything that he did for me. And I was -- I became very good friends with Alfred, very good friends, and we would hang out after session, you know, every day. Alfred, myself, and Herb Nakimayak, favorite MLA from Nunakput. It's a call back to earlier, in case anyone wasn't listening.

And so, Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to mention that I saw -- he did a lot for me, Alfred. He really, he instilled in me the values that you need as an MLA. He was so community-minded, so hardworking, and I think about him often and I know he is missed.

Mr. Speaker, in addition to being an MLA, I am also a Minister and I really have to thank my ministerial staff. We have a very small team. You know, I go to these meetings with federal, territorial, and provincial Ministers and they have their chief of staff and three other staffers for their one little tiny department. Upstairs there's three of us, Mr. Speaker. I have Ron and Sheila, and we manage ECE, justice, and government House leader position, and it is a lot of work and it would be impossible without them; the place would fall apart and so I can't speak highly enough of the work they do. And I thank Alfred for putting that team together because I came here, I took over his office and his team, and so I am very appreciative of that too.

Mr. Speaker, I also have to thank the departmental staff. I am not going to echo everything that Minister Wawzonek said, but I do endorse it. I think that government employees get a bad rap sometimes. There is always a bad apple who people say oh, they don't even do anything, they don't work. Mr. Speaker, the staff that I work with, the senior staff, a 60, 70, 80-hour week, that's not unusual. You know, we work long hours and there's times when we have been working 12 hours a day, I need something done for the next morning, they continue to work to make sure that we get that done the next morning. So I work with a number of deputy ministers and ADMs, and I can't speak highly enough of what they bring to the role and their value to the territory. But as a Regular Member, I thought oh there's 6,000 employees, the GNWT can do anything. Until you get into the departments, you realize there is a lot of employees but they have jobs, they are focused on service delivery, they are focused on these things, and really the people who do the things that we are asked to do, it is a relatively small group of people and they are dedicated and they put in the time and I am very appreciative of that.

Mr. Speaker, I have to of course thank my family. I already thanked my dad. My mom, she's probably here in the gallery more than most people. She's not here right now but whenever we are sitting, she makes a number of different appearances as well as my sisters. They are all very bright, they all very open-minded, and I can go to them with issues and they've always been very supportive. And I realize that not everyone has that support and so I am very thankful for that.

And of course, finally, I just want to thank Chantal, my spouse, Mr. Speaker. I am on the road a lot. You know, it's, even if you have a meeting here one day, it's a three-day trip to Yellowknife for me often and so, you know, she's understanding about it. She picks up the slack. She makes sure that if the truck needs to get serviced it goes into the shop, the fridge is full of groceries, and all of those kind of things, the daily life that we often don't have time for. She is, you know -- she's that constant in my life so I really appreciate that, and I appreciate her and I love her, Mr. Speaker. Thank you.

Mr. R.J. Simpson's Reply
Replies To The Commissioner's Address

Page 6896

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Hay River North. Replies to the Commissioner's address. Member for Hay River South.

Mr. Rocky Simpson's Reply
Replies To The Commissioner's Address

Page 6896

Rocky Simpson

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. What time was supper supposed to be at?

Mr. Speaker, I wasn't going to say anything today, but, you know, I just wanted to let people know, you know, the reason I ran for office. And I have -- I guess I've been in politics before. I have been president, you know, of the Metis local in Hay River and, you know, went to meetings. We were part of that, you know, the claim and the comprehensive claim that fell apart as well. And, you know, through that I guess I learned how to, you know, to be compassionate and empathetic and help people. And so that's what I have done most of my life. I share what I have, you know, give what, you know, if somebody needs something that I have and I don't really need it, they can have it. And that includes money, lot of times. Every day actually in the office. So I always carry around a lot of $5 bills in your pocket, not 100s or 50s.

But, you know, and that's kind of the reason. And one the other reason I ran as well is like I sat up in the House here a few times, last -- just R.J. got elected, and I looked around and I listened to what was being said and that. And I always believed that, you know, somebody should be challenged, all MLAs should have a challenger and, you know, the MLA at the time in Hay River South had no challenger, and I opened my big mouth and said well I guess if nobody runs, I'll throw my hat in the ring. I tried to encourage people to run but nobody so I had to walk the talk on that one. And then I got elected. And I thought what the hell am I going to do now? I can't get out of this. But I am glad I didn't get out of it. It's, you know, it's been a great time. I have been able to work with R.J., I have been able to work with all of you guys, and I have been able to do -- hopefully, I did some -- you know, something for the people in Hay River. You know, my office, you know, I usually work every day. The office is usually opened in the wintertime 6, 6:30 in the morning. It allows the street people, the people on the street, if they have to get out of their night shelter, they will come over for coffee and snacks as well, so. You know, it's important to provide that, plus I get all the news of what happened that night or the night before and, you know, if I need somebody, I just -- one of them come in the office and I just say I am looking for so and so. Usually five minutes later the other person shows up. So it's actually pretty good that way. And, you know, it's important as well as an MLA to walk around town and just talk to people and, you know. The other thing I like to do too is to, you know, even when I'm sitting up here, when I come in on, you know, early or something to Yellowknife when we have session, is just to call people. Like I will just sit there and just I haven't talked to anybody in a while and give them a shout. And just see how they're doing. And, you know, even like I noticed the people that moved to Yellowknife and I still call them and talk to them.

But, you know, to me, the residents have always been important and that's why I ran, is that I wanted to give a voice to the people. I wanted people to have access to their MLA, and I think that I have achieved that. It's probably been my biggest achievement, is letting them have access -- or allow, you know, allowing me to be accessible to them. You know, I am there for them. I realize that without them I would be -- I wouldn't be needed. None of us would be needed. So it's important that, you know, that that was important to me to make sure that happened.

The other -- and the other thing too, as well, is that, you know, even though they have access, access isn't good enough. It doesn't go far enough. You actually have to, you know, you got to be able to listen. You got to be able to take their issue. You got to be able to understand -- you should understand where they come from. And Hay River, I am lucky because I was born and raised. And so I know the people, I know their background, and it is very important you know that. Because a lot of times the solution is already there. And you got to be able to take that solution and, and if you need support from Cabinet, give them the answer. They are busy enough as it is. Make their work easy. Because if you let them think then nothing happens. Sometimes.

And like R.J. said, you know, we talked about disasters in Hay River. I went through the 1963 flood. I went through the -- I went through a number of other floods as well before, before the one in 2022. And in that flood, we forget about the -- about the explosion that happened. You know, a House blew up. And it took out about four or five houses around it, you know. And so there was that at the same time.

The big one though I guess for me was the high-rise, like I was just astonished that, and I am still astonished, that that thing is sitting empty. You know, I went to a meeting and if we would have had the right officials and people sitting up front, I think that place would have been operational right now. We would have had those rooms. You see high-rises all over the place have fires but they get up -- you know, they are up and running in no time. But, you know, we got into, you know, you know, it just got into a match with the owner and people didn't like him, but he had a big heart, that guy. You know, he provided space to people nobody else would provide space to, you know. Those are the things that people don't know but I know that, you know. I talked to him and I talked to him lots, and now he's passed away, the high-rise is sitting empty, and we're, you know -- and we're short accommodation in Hay River.

Yeah, so you know, we've had our issues in the last while. We've had, you know, drug overdoses. We've had more than our fair share of them. Like I have had people come through my office and, you know, I can name off probably five of them that have passed away because of it. And I talked to them about it, you know. And they knew that's probably what was going to be what happened to them and that's exactly what happened to them. So we have got to do something about that, you know. And the illicit drug trade, you know. Stuff like that is never going to go away, but somehow we got to dampen it. We got to lessen. And that's got to be through, you know, we got to pass legislation, like the SCAN Act, and the Forfeiture Act, then those are things that we actually have to do. Because otherwise if we do nothing, nothing's gonna happen. We got -- maybe we got to pressure the federal government to, you know, to make some change to the Criminal Code. Maybe we got to make, you know, the drug, you know, people who are selling on the street, you know, if they get caught, we got to make them pay. Maybe they got to go to jail, you know. We got to -- you know, somehow we got to do something because it is just like, you know, you take some of them off the street and it's just like water, it just fills in right away. And we see that in Hay River. And it's, it's my friends, our friends, our family members. Like none of us, you know, none of us can say we don't know somebody, don't know anybody that is being impacted by it.

Then we have housing issues. We will always have housing issues. This government is gonna -- this government isn't going to solve the housing issues. You know, people have to work toward it solving as well. It has got to be an approach, you know, from government, individuals, Indigenous governments, industry, everybody has got to do something. You know, and part of it is people want to be homeowners but I was watching something on TV the other day and people just can't own their homes anymore. It's just too costly. And even now the rental market is getting out of reach. So we are going to probably see more people on the street. So how do we fix it here when they -- you know, when we see that getting worse in the south? You know, we got to do something. You know, we got to -- we got to make it so people, you know, can have jobs so they can maybe, you know, they can contribute but first of all they got to learn how to work. You know, I learned how to work, from, you know, from my parents. That's why I work long hours. I'm probably crazy to do that but that's what I do. And I think that my kids learned that. But I think a lot of times we want something better for our children and we make it easier for them, and that's the problem, I think that we make it too easy and maybe we shouldn't be doing that. You know, we need -- maybe we need' course on, you know, just how to, on work ethics, because there's a lot of people that don't have that anymore, so.

You know, in all these impacts, in all these disasters that have happened for Hay River, you know, we have got mental health issues. People are stressed and, you know, they are going through hell after this. And I think that a lot of people are shut in right now. We are losing residents. Residents are moving out of Hay River. They are moving -- they are moving south, you know. This was the catalyst that pushed them over the edge and said it's time to go.

Businesses, the same thing. You know, we've had T businesses -- our businesses, probably, you know, two and a half, three months, had their doors shut. You know, if you look at one or $2,000 a day, you know, of lost revenue, that's pretty bad, you know. And now they are looking at, you know, they got that on top, they got that and then they are trying to go compete, you know, a market that people just go on the internet and order whatever they want so it's tough.

Somehow, we got to -- we got to look at reality. Things are changing in this world. Climate change, you know. It's impacting -- you know, it's impacting the North. Hay River, one year we got too much water. Next, this year, we got no water, you know. It impacts the shipping industry. So what does that mean for Hay River, if we have low water for the next ten years, then we know what's gonna happen is that we are going to have to find another route to get materials up north. Then -- and then we will be looking, and we should have looked at this years ago and should have been built already, is the Mackenzie Valley Highway, you know. That should have been done. I worked on that -- I worked on the piece there around -- river between two mountains when I was -- I think I told you -- when I was 17 years old or 16 years old. You know, it's only went up to Wrigley, that's as far as it's got. So it's -- you know, I look at all this stuff and I know that history because I have been up here. And when I hear people talking about it, if you are not really from here and you came up, you don't know that history. And I am lucky enough to know a lot of people up and down the Valley and so, you know, and that's the other thing too, is that if I need know something that, you know, happened around somewhere I just call somebody, you know, and ask them and they tell me. So, you know. And so you just kinda got of be plugged in to that type of -- that network.

And then we have got -- then we got health care. You know, we got the Hay River Health and Social Service Authority, we got the NTHSSA, and we are both in the same boat. You know, it's hard to find doctors. It's hard to find, you know, health care workers, and it's even going to be harder now that Manitoba has, you know, elected an NDP Premier because he said that they're gonna, they're gonna entice health workers to go to, go to Manitoba and they are gonna be the number 1 provider of health services in Canada. So that's what we have got to compete against. And, you know, and those -- and those are the type of things that we have to look at doing as well. And, you know, if we have to do that amalgamation, bring them together, if that makes sense to me and, you know, we just gotta do it.

You know, the other thing is with all these disasters, you know, like I said the businesses had, you know, they were short money. They lost revenue. You know, some of their infrastructure, you know, was lost. This government, you know, we provided some money to them. We provided a little bit more to Hay River, you know, and I let people know that and I just hope that the criteria isn't so onerous that nobody actually uses it or just says to hell with it, and I am just hoping that's not gonna happen. But we do have a gap and that gap is the insufficient financial support to those people in Hay River. And I am talking about Hay River now. You know, Yellowknife, you guys had two days to get out of here. We had minutes. And we had people go through the fire. We had people burnt. We've had animals and pets lost. We've had vehicles lost. We had people almost died. Like I don't know how -- like there's gonna be trauma. And those people ran, they got a place to stay, they paid for it. Their mind wasn't on I hope the government pays for it. I don't think so. You know, and I am not talking a lot of people. But now I ask for something, I asked for that type of support. All I hear is oh, we can't do that, there's no money. That's BS, as far as I am concerned. Like, we need support for them, and we need that -- we need to show that compassion. And I hope that, you know, the Minister of finance and ECE and Cabinet sit down and talk about that. Like it's needed. People, people are struggling right now.

You know, the cost of living, it's just -- it's gone crazy. And, you know, I got people from Hay River saying, you know, there's -- turkeys are a hundred dollars here, how much are they in Yellowknife, can you bring some back for me. Well, I don't really want to start taking food back from Yellowknife to Hay River and then cutting out the retailers there. So, you know, we've got to do something. The amount of money that we have been giving people, you know, $750 or whatever, it's minimal. It's not a lot. So I hope that, that Cabinet will sit back down, find a few dollars to make sure that those people who ran out when we told them to, you know, were traumatized, were injured, lost their vehicles and pets, and other animals, that they get a little bit of support. And like I say, I am not talking a lot of them.

The other thing that we are doing, and Kevin mentioned that today, is like you take a look at Cameron Hills. We are just bleeding money from the territories to Alberta. All that work up there, done by Albertans last year. And it will be finished with Albertans this year. And who is challenging that? Who's challenging them? You know, we need our First Nations to step up as well and they got to push us so we can push the federal government and push ourselves to provide that support and make sure that the work stays here. You know, if we are going to have a remediation economy, we need to work to be done by the Northerners and, you know, that includes like, like we got larger companies here. Maybe they are not large enough but they, you know, they are the ones that also got to step up and bid on things. So we also need the Indigenous governments, and corporations and businesses, to step up as well and look at joint venturing if they have to with northern companies and not running to Alberta or BC or somewhere else to joint venture with somebody and then still bleed more money. Like, you know, we got to work together on this. And I seen all this happen. Like I have been around long enough, I seen a lot of the mistakes that we made, and I am hoping we can change it.

You know, and then I just got something on the computer. Our employment rate has dropped, you know, from 74 percent to 70.9 percent. And, you know, that might be part of because of, you know, some of the disasters we had. Our Indigenous, our workforce is still remaining the same. There has been no change.

You know, for Hay River itself, you know, is we got -- Hay River, we got to reinvent ourselves, just because of the way the world is changing, the way the the climate's changing, the way the economy is changing. At one point in time, like when I was younger, I worked up in the Arctic, and Jackie talks about that quite a bit, is about the oil and gas industry, you know. That made me who I am today. It gave me that work ethic, paid for my schooling, paid for R.J.'s schooling, the kids' schooling, you know, and so we need that type of industry in the North and we got to champion that. And right now it seems like the only thing is the mines. So what do we have to do to entice them to me come here. It's usually money. If they are not going to make money they are not going to come here, you know, at the end of the day. You can build all the roads for them but if it's cheaper to go to South America and destroy something down there and make more money, that's what they are going to do. So, but we still have to work with them. We have to, you know, make it so that it's less onerous to work in the Northwest Territories, and that's something that hopefully the next -- with the next government they won't have to deal with what we had to deal with which is COVID and every other darn thing. And they will be able to actually do something. So, yeah.

And the other thing that we got to do is champion North. Like I said, champion northern businesses. Like there is a lot of northern businesses here that needs support, they need help. We got a limited -- we got limited opportunities. We got a limited base to work from. A lot of times you find businesses competing against each other for, you know, for something that's small and then whoever gets it might joint venture with somebody from the south and then nobody wins at the end of the day.

And people talk about, you know, myself like, for a while I did fine there. I was in the manufacturing business and I was building industrial trailers that went into Alberta. I probably built 150 of them, you know. And I probably, $150,000 a pop so you can figure that out. Plus I rent a lot of equipment. And that money -- all that work was in Alberta, all the things that I was -- all the units that I was building was going to Alberta, all that money from Alberta was coming back this way. And that's what we need for Hay River. We need to make it the manufacturing capital of the Northwest Territories.

We have, we have shipping there, or hopefully we still will have shipping. It's a good central point, not only to move, you know, infrastructure north but also to move it back into Alberta, Saskatchewan, BC, you know. Like I find -- I have sold units in, you know, BC as well, so. There is a lot of opportunity there. The Premier gave me some support when she was Minister of housing and that was kind of the -- well, I don't know if it was support or a death blow, I am not sure. But, you know, it's one of those things, you know, where the industry, the oil and gas industry dropped. It went down, and usually it used to only go down for about a year. This time it was for about three or four years and it never came back, and it basically killed me. And but not just me. A lot of southern firms in the same business have the same issues; they are not there anymore, you know. And so there's -- and that's the thing. That's where we have to try and support those businesses a little more and that's why I am glad that -- you know, the other day we passed the Act there and gave the -- I guess I can't say BDIC anymore, Prosper North. But at the end of the day, give them a little bit more authority, allow them to get out there and actually help business. That's what we need, you know. And move a business out of them into banking because, you know, we want to see businesses deal with conventional lenders. The good thing about conventional lenders, they don't really care. As long as they get their payments, they don't care -- you know, they don't really care too much about you whereas the BDIC -- or the Prosper North I would hope that they would be out there going around talking to their clientele as well, we need to do that. But, you know, it's, I guess I just see all the things we could do but at the end of the day, for me it's about that person that comes to me and says I got nowhere to live. I am on the street. I've got no money, you know. I got no food. And, you know, a lot of times -- one day somebody came from Yellowknife, came to Hay River. They wanted to get back to Yellowknife. And there was no help for him. So I phoned up R.J., I said I'm just gonna buy the person a ticket and they can go home. So he -- you know, so he jumped in and paid half the ticket. It's just easiest. It solved the problem and it's done, and we move on. And kind of that's the approach that I take, and I am hoping, you know, that that, you know, people in Hay River recognize what we have been able to accomplish. And also, it's, you have to work, like we are lucky in Hay River we have got two MLAs and you have to work with each other, and you got to talk things through. You got to, you know, gather information and, you know, things like that, so.

One thing about being an MLA I guess is I never -- like I don't really find it difficult in the sense that -- except for it's lots of work and, you know, you got to, you know, you got to do the research and you got to, you know, find the answers and stuff like that and find -- but the most important thing is finding a solution. And a timely solution. Because a lot of times we take too long. Like today, I have been answering e-mails as well and, you know, I've sent health an e-mail today. And hopefully they will fix the problem, you know, the issue on that. But those are the things that people want.

Is it suppertime yet? I can keep going?

And so yeah, but, you know, at the end the day, it's been enjoyable here; there's no doubt about that. You know, I come to Yellowknife for a rest. Hay River is where the work is. That's where I have to work. And other than that, I guess, what else can I say?

And I just thank everybody for putting up with me. And one of the reasons I go down that hallway in Cabinet, they always have food there. That's why I go there. But anyways, I thank you for that, and -- but the gap for the people that went through that fire. I want you guys to think about that and find some way to help them. Because I don't want to go back home and tell them the door is shut. Thank you.

Mr. Rocky Simpson's Reply
Replies To The Commissioner's Address

Page 6899

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Hay River South. Replies to Commissioner's address. Colleagues, one more record you broke, the most replies to Commissioner's address in one day. 11 total. Good job.

Petitions. Reports of committees on the review of bills. Reports of standing and special committees. Tabling of documents. Minister responsible for Health and Social Services.

Julie Green

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Mr. Speaker, I wish to table the following two documents: Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority 2022-2023 Annual Report, and the Tlicho Community Services Agency Health and Social Services Annual Report 2022-2023. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Tabling of documents. Madam Premier.

Caroline Cochrane

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to table the following document: Strengthening the Non-profit and Charitable Sector External Advisory Committee Final Report. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Madam Premier. Tabling of documents.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Colleagues, pursuant to section 5 of the Indemnities Allowances and Expense Regulations of the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act, I wish to table the Summary of Members' absences for the period of October 1st, 2019 to October 5th, 2023.

Also, pursuant to section 21 of the Legislative Assembly Retiring Allowances Act, I wish to table the Legislative Assembly Retiring Allowance Fund financial statements for the year ending March 31st, 2023.

Tabling of documents. Notices of motion. Motions. Member for Frame Lake.

Kevin O'Reilly

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President.

WHEREAS the Integrity Commissioner received a written complaint and carried out an investigation pursuant to section 100(2) of the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act;

AND WHEREAS the Integrity Commissioner submitted an investigation report dated October 3rd, 2023, to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly into the conduct of Ms. Katrina Nokleby, MLA Great Slave, by returning to and remaining in Yellowknife after it was ordered to be evacuated in August 2023;

AND WHEREAS the Integrity Commissioner has concluded that the MLA for Great Slave violated section 2 of the Members' Code of Conduct;

AND WHEREAS based on that conclusion, section 102(c) of the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act provides that the Integrity Commissioner may recommend to the Legislative Assembly one or more punishments in accordance with section 106;

AND WHEREAS the Integrity Commissioner, pursuant to 106(1) of the Act

(a) has recommended the Legislative Assembly may reprimand Ms. Nokleby and

(b) fine Ms. Nokleby $7,500 to be reduced by the $3,500 contribution she has made to a charity for a net amount of $4,000.

NOW THEREFORE I MOVE, seconded by the honourable Member for Hay River North, that the recommendations of the Integrity Commissioner be accepted and that this Assembly reprimand the Member for Great Slave and impose a fine of $7,500 to be reduced by $3,500, for charitable contributions made, for a net amount of $4,000. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Frame Lake. The motion is in order. To the motion. Member for Frame Lake.

Kevin O'Reilly

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. I wish to provide some context and background on this motion.

In December 2015, the 18th Assembly adopted a motion which referred the Members' conduct guidelines to the Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures, which I chaired, for comprehensive public review. This work included a thorough examination, conduct guidelines from other jurisdictions, all relevant legislation, and the rules of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories. Committee filed both an interim report and a final report on this review.

The interim Report on the Review of Members' Conduct Guidelines was brought forward on October 25th, 2016. The purpose of the interim report was to generate public discussion, consultation, and further research. We reviewed best practices and experiences across Canada and the Commonwealth. Public hearings were held in Inuvik, Hay River, and Yellowknife. Written submissions were also carefully reviewed.

A lot of work was done with all the MLAs in caucus to review options and determine the best path forward for our Legislative Assembly. We filed our report entitled You are Standing for Your People: Report on the Review of Members' Conduct Guidelines, in February 2017.

The report outlined several key concerns heard by committee, including that the then Members' conduct guidelines were only voluntary, and that the adoption of a Code of Conduct include more specific and enforceable obligations. These concerns were addressed through the development of a new Members' Code of Conduct that includes specific and enforceable provisions for the 19th and future Assemblies and expanded role for the old office of the Conflict of Interest Commissioner that now includes

  • Responsibility for receiving and investigating complaints respecting potential breaches of the Code of Conduct through an Integrity Commissioner;
  • Legislative changes to incorporate these improvements and make them binding on all MLAs; and
  • Requirements that this information be given to and acknowledged by all future candidates in territorial elections.

As a result of these changes during the 19th Assembly, we held a public ceremony right here in this Chamber where each Member agreed to and signed the Code of Conduct with an understanding of what that means. Today, we have an established binding process. We are following that process. A complaint was made to the Integrity Commissioner. He investigated the complaint. He concluded the Member breached the Code of Conduct. He recommended the Assembly take specific action under the legislation. We can accept or reject this recommendation.

To ensure the honour of this House and public confidence, we must respect and support our Code of Conduct and the legislated process to resolve complaints. This is why this motion is before us today. And we must deal with the recommendations from the Integrity Commissioner in this Assembly. This motion is the final step of this process. I believe that it is essential that the 19th Assembly be the one to conclude this process. This is the business of our Assembly, not the next one.

We all agreed to the Code of Conduct when we were sworn in here in this Chamber in 2019. We agreed to the system for resolving complaints. I fully accept the recommendations from the Integrity Commissioner. I will vote in favour of this motion to accept these recommendations to support our Code of Conduct and the honour of this House. I urge all my colleagues to do the same. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Frame Lake. The motion is in order. To the motion. Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

Richard Edjericon

Richard Edjericon Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Mr. Speaker, I rise to support this motion at hand, one that seeks to impose and reprimand a fine $4,000 upon the Member for Great Slave Lake. This action is in response to the severe breach of our MLA Code of Conduct wherein the Member for Great Slave has accepted that she's openly violated the public safety order during the recent fire emergency, an emergency that witnessed the evacuation of 19,000 residents of Yellowknife and thousands more in the South Slave. The transgression is not to be taken lightly as it goes against the very principle of responsibility in public safety that we, as elected officials, are entrusted to uphold.

Mr. Speaker, the recent wildfire emergency was a unprecedented crisis that saw our constituents in dire need of leadership, guidance, and unwavering commitment to their well-being. As elected leaders, it is our solemn duty to ensure the safety and welfare of the people we represent. The duty extends to respecting and adhering to the public safety order that are put in place for the benefit of communities.

These orders are not arbitrary. They are grounded in collective wisdom and expertise of emergency management authorities who have worked tirelessly to safeguard our residents during times of peril. To deliberately violate the public safety order during such a crisis as a Member of the Great Slave has accepted, it is not only irresponsible. It demonstrates a severe lapse of judgment and disregard for the lives and welfare of our constituents. The evacuation of thousands of residents was a monumental undertaking, and it required the full adherence to public safety order from all individuals, including elected officials. We're not above the law we pass in this House, Mr. Speaker.

It is important to acknowledge that perception and concerns raised regarding the difference in the outcome of these two cases. The fact that Steve Norn was Indigenous and the Member for Great Slave is a non-Indigenous settler is not lost on me and should not be lost on anyone in this Assembly. We must recognize that our action and decision carries significant weight and implications beyond the walls of this Chamber. Our constituents, who are diverse in every way and manageable, look to us not only to govern responsibility but also ensure that our decisions are equitable and just. The need for fairness and accountability in our action cannot be overstated. We have a moral and ethical responsibility to ensure that our decisions and judgment are consistent and fair regardless of the individual's background.

It is disheartening to witness and perceive disparity in how misconduct is addressed within our Assembly. This has led to a growing dissolution among our constituents who rightfully expect us with violation of public safety order and breaches of the Code of Conduct. It is incumbent upon us to uphold the principle and the fundamental justice in all our actions. To maintain the trust of our constituents, we must address these concerns head on.

This matter is very personal to me as I have the privilege to stand on the floor of the House due to the same by-election. I heard from residents in my riding on what they thought of Mr. Norn's conduct and eventual dismissal by his peers. I know how serious our constituents take matters of ethics and integrity for those lucky enough to serve in this institution. We must strive for consistency and fairness in our approach to addressing this conduct regardless of the individual's background, ethnicity, or political positions. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that justice is not only done but is seen to be done. Let us use this moment as an opportunity to reflect on how we can ensure that our represents the values of our diverse inclusive society.

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to further address this concern related to the conduct of the Member for Great Slave, particularly regarding her behaviour behind closed doors within the Legislative Assembly. While a public appearance and speeches are scrutinized and observed by our constituents and the media, it is essential to acknowledge the real --

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Member, you must speak to the motion.

Richard Edjericon

Richard Edjericon Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

I'm speaking to the motion.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

You're speaking another topic. We're talking about the breach.

Richard Edjericon

Richard Edjericon Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Mr. Speaker, I'm reading this on behalf of my constituency. They called me and asked me to put this together. And I just want -- if I could, I just got -- I just want to finish it. And it's related to the motion at hand. Thank you.

Mr. Speaker, it is without reasons that Member of Great Slave has been the subject of criticism for her conduct both inside and outside the Chamber, and it is worth reminding that this Assembly --

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

-- Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh, her conduct in the Assembly is not relevant to the motion. The motion is the breach of the orders.

Richard Edjericon

Richard Edjericon Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh. The motion is in order. Member for Hay River South.

Rocky Simpson

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I've had some time to think about that motion and, you know, and what transpired and, you know, I'm in favour of it. And you know, we do have laws. We have the Code of Conduct. And we have to follow those. That's -- you know, that's basically the rule of law and in this instance the Member, I guess, failed to do that according to the Integrity Commissioner. There was a process. If there is a process, if one wanted to, in this case to be deemed essential, and -- which is a fairly easy process. And to give you an example, myself, I stayed in Hay River during the fire. And, but I made sure that the town put me on their list of essential people. And I think that's important that you do that. It was -- it was easy to do. And, so that's kind of one point. The other point is when should a -- you know, when should a Member be deemed essential for something like this? And I think that's something we have to look at. And hopefully the next Assembly will do it because it's government money that's getting spent. There's -- there should be some interaction, I guess, or something there, representation or connection, you know, with somebody whether, it's a politician or whatever. Like, Hay River, just to give you another example, Hay River, we lost communication. So we didn't really have any communication with the outside except if you were by Starlink. So the point I want to get -- make is that we, as an Assembly, need to look at is at what point is an MLA deemed to be essential and under what criteria would that be. In this instance, there was an easy way for the Member to solve that was just ask the city to be put on the list, and the city said no. Simple. Then you don't stay in town, in the city. You go. And in this case, it didn't happen, so. And the other thing is there probably was some confusion, but Integrity Commissioner made his report. He made his recommendation. And I will follow that recommendation. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Hay River South. The motion is in order. To the motion. Member for Yellowknife Centre.