This Hansard has not been finalized - this is the "Blues" in Parliamentary speak, or unedited transcript in regular speak.

In the Legislative Assembly on February 9th, 2024. See this topic in context.

Question 42-20(1): Supreme Court of Canada Ruling regarding the Indigenous Child Welfare Act
Oral Questions

Denny Rodgers

Denny Rodgers Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, as a follow-up to my statement this morning on the Supreme Court of Canada decision on Indigenous child welfare, I'd like to ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, what is the Premier's plan to ensure the principles of the Supreme Court's decisions are upheld?

Question 42-20(1): Supreme Court of Canada Ruling regarding the Indigenous Child Welfare Act
Oral Questions

The Speaker

The Speaker Shane Thompson

Thank you, Member from Inuvik Boot Lake. Mr. Premier.

Question 42-20(1): Supreme Court of Canada Ruling regarding the Indigenous Child Welfare Act
Oral Questions

R.J. Simpson

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We were happy to see that the decision was in line with the principles that we are already upholding, so we will continue to do what we're doing. Thank you.

Question 42-20(1): Supreme Court of Canada Ruling regarding the Indigenous Child Welfare Act
Oral Questions

Denny Rodgers

Denny Rodgers Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Well, given the statement that the Premier just made, I only have one other question, Mr. Speaker. Will this government be issuing an apology to the Indigenous government it fought in court?

Question 42-20(1): Supreme Court of Canada Ruling regarding the Indigenous Child Welfare Act
Oral Questions

R.J. Simpson

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This decision was made by me as Attorney General in the last government. The Attorney General makes decisions in a way that is apolitical. There is no desire to put a political lens on these decisions. What was in question was a very specific legal question. It wasn't -- we weren't fighting any Indigenous governments. We weren't on side with the provinces. The reason that I intervened in that case is because there was specific language in that federal Act that we needed clarity on in relation to how it interacted with the NWT Act. That's not an issue for any of the provinces. They're not established by the NWT Act. They're established by the Constitution. What the decision looks like at first glance, and it's only been a few hours since it was released, is that the territory is essentially on the same footing as a province. So we wanted the Act to continue. The first line of the submission was to the -- to the Supreme Court was that the Attorney General affirms the inherent right of self-governments of Indigenous peoples and their inherent jurisdiction in relation to child and family services. So that's continuing as well. The court reaffirmed that.

So, Mr. Speaker, what we were seeking is clarity. This wasn't a fight that we were getting engaged in. It wasn't an attempt to hold on to power. We need a predictable and workable legal system in the Northwest Territories, and we were looking for clarity on that.

Politics does not come into decisions of the Attorney General. I recall not that long ago there was a federal case where the Prime Minister was accused of trying to interfere with the decision of the Attorney General, and that didn't work out well. So I keep the political side and the Attorney General side separate. That's the way that it should be. And I just encourage all Members to look at the decision, understand what the -- what we put forward as a government and not politicalize this and try to turn it into something that it's not, because it is not what it has been portrayed in this House on a number of occasions. It doesn't matter how many times I stand up and explain this, it doesn't seem to sink in.

So we have been working with the Indigenous government. We're going to continue working with the Indigenous government. We all have the same end goal, and we're going to work together to get there. And I'm glad that this case came out and provided clarity. I've said that this situation is some -- thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will take your direction. I will end it there. Thank you.

Question 42-20(1): Supreme Court of Canada Ruling regarding the Indigenous Child Welfare Act
Oral Questions

February 9th, 2024

The Speaker

The Speaker Shane Thompson

Oral questions. Member from Yellowknife Centre.