Last in the Legislative Assembly September 1995, as MLA for Iqaluit
Won his last election, in 1991, with 60% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Mr. Chairman, there has been a lot of work done on this bill by the committee and by counsel for the Department of Justice, and I think we have a good bill that is acceptable.
I am a little leery about amendments that are brought on the floor without much notice. I am satisfied from the last question that Mr. Lewis asked, that, under the present bill before us, section 6.2 gives the Assembly absolute power to consider every situation that might involve Members' conduct, whether that situation leads to a conditional discharge or an absolute discharge, or whether that conduct even comes to court.
I don't think we should fool around with that inherent right. It's spelled out clearly in 6.2. I don't think the future Assembly needs to be told, you have to use it in this situation. You shall use it in this situation. I trust the good judgement of the Members of the Legislative Assembly to exercise that inherent right where appropriate and as appropriate.
So I find the amendment superfluous and unnecessary, and I am going to vote against it. Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I think I am in a similar quandary to that just expressed by Mr. Ballantyne. I once was a practising criminal lawyer and I do know, from time to time, there are cases where the facts produce the technical evidence of guilt, but the circumstances are truly exceptional. This does happen rarely, but it does happen. This is why the Parliament of Canada, in its wisdom, has given judges some discretion to convict but order an absolute or conditional discharge. So I do believe that we are setting a very high standard if we approve the amendment of the Member. There will be virtually no exceptions under any circumstances.
So, Mr. Chairman, I have some foreboding that there may, in very exceptional circumstances, a miscarriage of a certain amount of unfairness that might occur.
I am comforted, however, when I realize that an MLA who lost his or her seat in such circumstances would still have the right to run again for public office. So in a circumstance, let's say an act of violence that was committed under extreme provocation, which is never an excuse for violence but does explain some kinds of human behaviour, given that we are all imperfect mortals, then the constituents would ultimately be able to judge whether the penalty of loss of seat was appropriate. So that comforts me, Mr. Chairman.
The second thing I think could happen, if we don't pass this amendment, is I can see defence lawyers saying to judges, in speaking to sentence, that the penalty imposed by the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act, the loss of a Member's seat, would far outweigh any penalty that the court might ordinarily impose, let's say for a first-time offender on a crime of common assault.
Mr. Chairman, I do believe that this severe penalty which we have placed in our legislation for very good reason, because of the high standards increasingly expected of us by the public and because of our own declaration of zero tolerance... I believe it would cause judges to otherwise use the absolute or conditional discharge so as to spare a person from the severe penalties that would be triggered by a conviction without a discharge by the provisions of the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act.
I think a lot of people who would be before the courts would have these severe penalties recited by a counsel in speaking to sentence and the judge might then order a conditional or an absolute discharge; creating, in effect, a loophole that probably would not seem desirable in some circumstances. Mr. Chairman, after having weighed the pros and cons, ultimately, what sways me is that people will ultimately decide whether a Member should lose his or her seat given that the Member has an opportunity to run for re-election in the subsequent by-election that would be held. With that safeguard in mind, that ultimately the judgement will be given by the constituents and not by a court, I'm prepared to support the amendment but I think we should go in with our eyes open knowing that this sets up an extremely high standard for future MLAs. There will really be no room for exceptional circumstances, no room for looking at the interests of the accused. This will be a very high standard. I think we should vote on this amendment knowing that we're setting an extremely high standard for future Members of this Assembly. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I would like to request, through you, in order to assist the committee, if it might be explained to us under what typical circumstances a person might be discharged of an offence under the Criminal Code. Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I do accept what the Member says, that Bill 32 could go further, and I understand that the Member is recommending to the new Legislature that further offences should be considered for inclusion within this bill.
But I would just like to make a point that Bill 32, as it now stands before us this afternoon, does spell out what I believe is called the inherent right of the Legislative Assembly to expel, suspend or discipline a Member according to its own rules and practices. I believe this section --apart from any future amendment to the bill as Mrs. Marie-Jewell is recommending in this motion before us --in the bill, if approved, will give the Legislative Assembly, not the courts, the power to take action against a Member who committed any other inappropriate actions, such as the Member has referred to: drunk offences, abuse, gambling and other undesirable behaviour she has recited.
I guess in speaking to this motion, I would like to point out that, even without further amendments to the bill to bring in further sanctions for convictions under other acts under the Legislative Assembly, federal law and the Criminal Code, Bill 32, as before us, explicitly acknowledges the Assembly's power to action. I just want to say that I haven't really decided whether I'm going to vote in favour of this motion or not. I think the new Assembly will deal with this issue as it sees appropriate, with or without advice from the 12th Assembly.
I just want to point out that, in fact, the bill before us does take into account that there may be other circumstances, other than the sexual exploitation of children or an offence involving violence, on which the Legislative Assembly of the day may wish to take action. It certainly has the clear power to take action. I suspect that if we pass the bill as it is today, a future Assembly may well want to develop procedures relating to the code of conduct that has been adopted and it's inherent right to expel, suspend or discipline Members, which would accomplish the same end that the Member seeks by this motion.
I guess I just want to say that I think we've gone at least some way in the direction the Member wishes us to pursue in the proposed bill before us today. If it's passed, it will enlarge the net, if you like, to make it clear that a Member can be disciplined by his or her peers for offences beyond the two spelled out in section 6(1)(a) and (b). I think we're already moving in that direction, Mr. Chairman. I just wanted to make those comments before we consider the Member's motion. Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to ask the Minister if he agrees with me that, rather than infrastructure --we have Housing Association warehouses, DPW garages, and shops in many communities throughout Nunavut --in Nunavut --which he implied I was asking about
in my first question --what we really need are instructors in those communities, using the existing facilities to get trades training up and running, especially in the early apprenticeship years. Thank you.
We have heard a lot about plans, working groups and staff level meetings, et cetera, and I am aware that the Minister recently met with the new chair of the Nunavut Arctic College, Mr. Joe Ohokannoak from Cambridge Bay. The trades training was on the agenda. Forgetting about the Minister's staff and his strategic plans, was the Minister able to make any specific commitments to the Arctic College and its chair about taking some concrete steps to establish some trades training resources in Nunavut? Thank you.
My question, Mr. Speaker, was about trades training in Nunavut, not lqaluit. I don't like the way the Minister has twisted my words.
Mr. Speaker, I am not particularly amused at the way the Minister has put words in my mouth with his response and suggested that I am promoting a single infrastructure or a single location for infrastructure. The Minister should remember that it was this Member for lqaluit who asked about what he was going to do to establish trades training in the Keewatin in the previous session of this Assembly. I said that I recognized that a was a priority in that region.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I, too, would like to ask some questions about the Gjoa Haven Nunavut leaders' summit on education in January. Mr. Speaker, I think the Minister is well aware that the leaders' conference expressed great concern about adult training programs and particularly about trades training in Nunavut and resolved that the Minister should implement a strategy to ensure those programs were put in place to meet the needs of Nunavut. Six months have passed and I would like to ask the Minister, since January, what stops has he taken to establish trades training in Nunavut, as recommended by the Gjoa Haven leaders' summit? Thank you.
Question 579-12(7): Lqaluit Airport Emergency Response Services June 12th, 1995
Mr. Speaker, I'm still a little unclear about whether or not the ERS at the lqaluit Airport will be maintained at the present levels. The Minister says he believes that the arrangements are adequate. I would like to ask him, unequivocally, will he assure me and this House that the current level of services are capable of being maintained with the funding that is in this well-negotiated agreement? Thank you.
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