- His favourite word was work.
Last in the Legislative Assembly October 2011, as MLA for Inuvik Boot Lake
Won his last election, in 2007, by acclaimation.
Statements in the House
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As we will be reaching the date of dissolution of the 16th Assembly, our work is going to be part of the
transition process so that the Members of the 17th Assembly can review the recommendations that have been put forward in the most recent report.
Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery August 25th, 2011
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’d like to recognize some of our representatives that have been working on behalf of the Status of Women Council: Lorraine Phaneuf, Annemieke Mulders, and Samantha Dechief.
Motion 11-16(6): Devolution Negotiations, Defeated August 24th, 2011
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This motion and the request by Members to establish a commission in this area has been one that, personally, I see as problematic. As a Cabinet we’ve looked at this, a decision was made, we went to Members, and we got agreement from a majority of Members to proceed. The agreement-in-principle has been signed. There was already some main table discussions held. More discussions will be held after the election. Every meeting we’ve had
we’ve updated all Aboriginal regions. As I said earlier today, the table is open. The door to the table is open. The seats are there.
The request to say Aboriginal participation needs to be held is there if they choose to be a part of it. Clearly, as we’ve heard throughout the decades, the wish of the people overall of taking control and moving forward, we need to be clear. The Member has raised a number of things that we need to be clear on and used this venue to speak to this because, for example, Mr. Menicoche spoke to the Aboriginal commissions doing somewhat the work of a public inquiry. That is different than let’s talk about how we work together in that process.
Earlier today Mr. Beaulieu said similar words that Dene groups feel like they’re outside looking in, and again I say the door is open to not be on the outside but be on the inside. In fact, the budget has addressed this to move it forward. The issue of the protocol and the work and the need to look at it, that work was set out to establish a working relationship but instead turned into negotiation discussions. Do not sign the AIP until we negotiate resource revenue sharing, government-to-government relationship, and look at doing work on the Constitution. Those are all part of the agreement-in-principle.
The Norman Wells oilfield? We agreed with Aboriginal groups that it should be a part of the discussions. The federal government disagrees. We say there’s an avenue to negotiate that in the process coming forward. The fact that out of the Norman Wells oilfield and any other development of the North, settled claims are benefitting from the royalties already. Even those in unsettled areas have agreements with Canada that some of the royalties are flowing to them for development. So they’re benefitting from that.
As we look at these things and the questions being brought up and the request to establish a commission to review the mandate to begin again in this process, the seats are there. We need the leadership to decide to be a part of it. Nobody is keeping them out of the room but themselves. The opportunity is to come in, be a part of it. There are funds to help you be a part of it.
Chapters 5 and 6 are there by the work in the AIP with the involvement of the Aboriginal groups at the table. That strengthens that relationship. That talk about working together between settlement lands and public lands. We’re talking about moving the decision of public lands, Crown lands that the federal government and their staff make right now to public lands in the Northwest Territories where we would have our staff, and Members of this Assembly can direct how that staff works for the benefit of those people in the Northwest Territories.
Our position is one where we’ve gone and made a decision, sought the input of Members, and had
that agreement by the majority moved forward, as I saw it, have signed that agreement and are working forward, and will include even those who have not signed continue to get the full updates of the discussion and the issues taking place at the table. As we’ve done through this process, because it’s recommending to the government, we will be abstaining from the vote.
Mr. Roland’s Reply August 24th, 2011
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’ve thought about this moment, the last opportunity to use the replies to opening address to cover a lot of time, I guess. Sixteen years. One thing I’ve learned over the years, when I was a rookie MLA, that was one thing, I was very brief and to the point and rarely ever used a request for unanimous consent to conclude my statement. The one thing I make a joke about now is when I go to speaking at certain events, I’ve learned that every year as an MLA and every term allows me to speak longer, so I don’t think I’ll beat the record for a reply to the opening address. That’s not the intention today.
But I would like to say, as I’ve announced in the past, that I will not be seeking re-election in the upcoming territorial election, marking 16 years as a Member of this Legislative Assembly. As I thought about it, a few times I’ve sat down and tried to write some things down, thinking about some of those early days and the work we’ve done and the challenges we’ve faced as Members of the Legislative Assembly. But it was hard to do because there were a lot of things to cover and what are the highlights that one wants to touch base on. But I just wrote a few notes down to say a few things.
First and foremost I have to give an apology to my children. I have pictures of a couple of the boys when I first got elected and they were in bunting bags, as we call them. New babies to this world. In their whole life they’ve seen their father work in this environment. My apology is that I’ve sacrificed much of family time, birthdays, school events, and tried to catch as much as possible, but still, as
many have said, and many people across this North know about my personal life, they’ve had to live through that, and I apologize to them for that.
But I’d also like to say thank you for your continued support. Geez, I thought I taught my boys to be men and don’t cry and don’t show the soft side, but I save that for the harder times, I guess, amongst my colleagues. I think this happened when I did my speech for the candidacy of this position and I referred to my father. But I’d like to say thank you, boys, and my daughter in Fort Smith, for your support and continued being there. We’ve been through some difficult times and I’ve been able to reconnect, in a way. I must say, technology is a wonderful thing, because I think I talk more with my boys through texting than the verbal communication. To have them show up here is a surprise and I thank you boys for showing up.
As I thought about that and saw them, and one thing I’ve shared with Members is my father, before he passed away, used to say, and he’d introduce me to his friends at many events, and he’d be talking to them and he’d say, I’d like you to meet my little boy. People would look over and then they’d look up because he was so much smaller. Well, I get to do the same now. When I say I’d like to introduce you to my little boys, pretty soon Mitchell, who’s the youngest, will actually be taller than me, so I’m going to have to be kind in my older days so they don’t put me in the home too soon.
On top of the thank yous, I also have it to say to the people of Inuvik. For 16 years and four elections they have supported me and returned me back to the Legislative Assembly, and twice by acclamation. I thank the people of Inuvik for their trust and their support through all of these times.
I remember when a number of us came -- there were four of us in this Assembly who were first elected in 1995 -- we came into a time when there were difficult choices to be made, as the government had announced previously in the 12th Assembly about a $100 million deficit and reductions we’re going to happen. The division of the territory was about to occur. We had to make some tough choices back in 1995 that affected many lives in the North and not all of those choices were the perfect ones, but we had to make those to try to keep our North moving forward and survive the difficult times, and we’ve done that through those times.
I remember telling the people back home that no matter what happens in this Assembly, I’m always coming home and always going to face the music, so to speak, and I thank them through those times. I used to be known, even by some of my friends back home, as, oh, here’s the guy that took away my VTA, as being one of the Members of government at the time. We had to make some difficult choices, and I think every Assembly since
then has been faced with some difficult choices to be made in trying to progress and move forward as the Government of the Northwest Territories.
Since 1995 through to 2011 to say thank you to the people of Inuvik. It’s been an honour and a privilege to serve them in the role first as MLA for Inuvik and then later Inuvik Boot Lake, and I look forward to returning home and spending more time there and also see what the future may bring and what role I can play in the work of Northerners in the future.
Also, I’d like to say one of the things in my first elections, my campaign slogan used to be “Work here, play here, live here,” and the very essence that if the government’s going to be making tough choices, then it should be someone who’s living there who would be affected by those decisions who should be making those decisions and not someone from away, as they say, or from a farther jurisdiction. I must say that that slogan even fits today in my role as Premier of the Northwest Territories now, and even as Minister of the Government of the Northwest Territories. Your family and your community grows. When you take on a position as Minister and Premier, you take on an added constituency, not just your home constituency where you were elected but the whole territory, and look to try to make decisions that benefit in the long run all of the people in the Northwest Territories.
In a sense, my constituency base, in a real way, has grown to the Northwest Territories, and work here, play here, live here still applies today because decisions being made that affect our families, our homes, and who benefits from those decisions, to a large degree and some of the biggest decisions being made are being made by others away from the Northwest Territories. But they come and seek our input and ask us to make a few comments on a few things.
There will be a day, Mr. Speaker, when Northerners will be making all of the decisions, putting conditions and benefitting from the decisions of development to be made. I’m hoping that as I look at my sons now who are, well, one is 21, 19, 16, and 12, my daughter, 22, 23? So they are well into their… They are starting to become young men and women in this world and starting to live their own lives. I have grandchildren now and they will be facing a future that will be impacted by decision-making. I would rather have them impacted by decision-makers in the North because I know whose door I can knock on and go see them instead of writing a letter and waiting for someone else to speak on my behalf thousands of miles away.
So as we look at that again, that constituency, I must say to the people of the Northwest Territories, thank you. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you as your Premier and as the Minister of this
government. As well, it has been a privilege and an honour to serve at this level within government.
Then I have to go to the Members of the Legislative Assembly for you putting your trust in me to move forward. I know we faced some challenges during the life of this Assembly. I think every Assembly I have been part of has had challenges. We’ve all grown through some of these things and we’ve all worn some battle scars at times.
I must say, earlier in question period when Mr. Krutko asked some questions, Mr. Miltenberger leaned over and he says, “you get one more opportunity,” like two old bulls meeting in the centre of the ring and we are going to bang heads again and try to make a difference and see who’s left standing. I must say there’s times when I probably will miss some of this sparring and back and forth.
At all times, I must say, and I recall a comment made by a few folks early in my time, very early, in fact, when I announced back home in Inuvik in ’95 that I was going to seek the position of MLA. I sat down and had a coffee with someone I had worked alongside on the community council and they asked if I really wanted to do this, and I confirmed I did. He asked, or made a statement actually, he says, “Well, you’re going to get the education of a lifetime.” I must say, for the record, Paul, you are very close to what was said. It’s been an education through the process and continues to be.
One of the elders earlier on in that first election, after the election and I had won, approached me and said, -- it was Tommy Wright, a respected elder in our community and has been through difficult times -- “I don’t know whether to congratulate you or say condolences.” I looked at him and he could tell I was somewhat confused by that, and he pointed out, “Well, in politics you have to compromise. That is something that is always difficult to do.” His words ring very true even today to the last order of business we will do as a government. It is the art of compromise to see what we can do as Members to come up with piece of legislation. Nobody gets all of what they want. We all try to get something that makes sense for us and benefits the people of the Northwest Territories overall.
So for the people of the Northwest Territories, I say thank you very much for your kindness, for your gratitude, for your challenging comments, for your inspiration to get the job done. What I would say to the people of the Northwest Territories, and especially the youth with the engagement process we went through in the last year, get involved. Get to the voting stations and make your vote count because your future and the decisions about your future are going to be made by those who are successors and come back to the 17th Assembly. It
is only by getting involved that you can affect change. If you are going to sit back and complain
about what decisions are being made but choose not to vote, then you live with the consequences. Pay attention to who is out there and who wants to come to this place, and why they want to represent yourself as an individual and your constituency here in the Northwest Territories. Get involved as we had with the youth conference and it was their way to get engaged, but not necessarily. Yes, youth conferences are good and important, but realistically as you get involved by showing up at the meeting, ask some questions, become informed and vote. Your vote counts.
I would say to the people of the Northwest Territories, as I’ve said on many occasions, many meetings, whether it’s been in the Northwest Territories, Alberta, B.C., Ottawa, internationally, the future of the Northwest Territories has great potential. Our future is yet to be told. We are about to turn the page and really start to take our place in Canada, to make our national anthem ring true, “the true North strong and free.”
In working with Members of this Assembly, working with our federal government and the decisions to be made and the decisions being made by the federal government, yes, there are some negative sides, but the North has never had so much attention placed on it as we’ve had in the last few years. We have to take advantage of that. We have to continue to work those channels and make things happen.
Now, I would be remiss if I was to say that throughout my -- it’s weird to hear this -- career as a politician, my first days as I walked in here, in fact, I think for the first year when people would meet me for the first time or I would go back home, they would say how is it to be a politician. I used to say I’m not a politician; I’m a Member of the Legislative Assembly. I would refuse to have that word associated with the work I did, but I had to succumb to that. The fact is that I am, we are politicians. That is the definition we fall under. At times that is not a very good thing in the eyes of those out there, but I respect the Members of this Legislative Assembly for the work they’ve done and how they’ve carried themselves. Yes, we’ve disagreed, and we’ve butted heads, and we’ve had to deal with some huge challenges through our time. But if you look at our future, not many of us, when we first came, and I think of the four of us who were here in 1995, probably thought much beyond that first term and some of us thought we might not be re-elected because of those tough choices.
I think as long as we get to the people of the Northwest Territories and tell them what’s happening and show them that we’re doing our job, that they might not agree with it but they respect the fact that we get back to them and show them what’s happening. Through that, they return us back to this Legislative Assembly. I think Members who have
since come on and become new Members and now may be midway through your career or just getting started, there’s going to be lots of opportunity to share the work with this Assembly with members of the public. Don’t be afraid, even in the toughest days, to go out and tell them why we’ve had to make certain decisions.
Throughout my work in this Legislative Assembly, I could not do it without the support of key people right from the community, community groups and organizations, community leadership, and then to this level of territorial leadership. Even behind that, I think all leaders in the North, all of us, we have to say thank you to our staff that help us get the job done.
I must say there are days when I’ve closed the door and a few staff have heard me in not so rosy terms talk about my frustrations. They didn’t hand me their resignation. They stuck with me, and kept me, and helped me do my job by getting the necessary information, sharing that information with Members and so on. Right from my constituency assistants -- and I have had a number of them through the 16 years, so I won’t go down a list -- but they are very important in our communities to get our message out and help us keep the community informed. So I thank those who have helped me in my community, in my constituency office, get my job done right up until this day as we get close to shutting down those offices. My assistant of the day is preparing to move on and go back to school and get a further education and move up. I am very happy she’s decided to do that.
So without the support of key people in certain places and through the constituency years as an MLA, that was important, and through this Assembly on the many standing committees I was part of as a Regular Member right through to becoming chair of committee and as a Minister to work through our staff to make sure we have order of business done and move things forward.
In my time as a Minister I have to thank my staff, they are up at their desks right now taking care of the phone calls, getting the letters done, to those who have come forward here who have helped get our message out as a government, to inform the public in both good and bad times, to give me advice even though sometimes I don’t take it, to make decisions and move things forward. Thank you for helping us get our job done.
The one thing I’ve said to many people back in the community, and I say it almost any place I go now, is when people say, well, you’re Premier, you’re boss, or you’re MLA, you can make decisions, I encourage the young people in schools to learn to write. Learn to write policy. Because you can affect government by that first draft that comes across a Member’s desk, a Minister’s desk, even a Premier. They have to gather information and present it to
you, and from there we may have our own opinions and ideas from our constituency, but it’s through the writing of that and preparing it and moving it forward that, yes, it changes through the system, but it’s important work that’s done out there by those people who are in the backseats and help prepare documents. That doesn’t go towards the side of those who often said, well, it’s the deputies and so on that run government. Clearly, we make the choices, we face the consequences, and we decide on how we move forward.
Thank you to the staff that have helped us do our job, and helped us through the day-to-day work process, and lived through some of the frustrations that they get to hear us share at times, and also share with us at times when good decisions are made or when we get good news of initiatives that are made by another government that positively affected us.
This job has given me a chance to see this country in a way that I’ve never seen it before; a chance to see the world that I would not have seen through that. As a boy growing up in Inuvik until I took my apprenticeship as an automotive mechanic, the only places I saw beyond Inuvik was the Mackenzie Delta up to Aklavik and to Tuktoyaktuk, or as the old-timers call it, Tuktoyaktuk, to see them and the fishing camps, and the whaling camps, and the hunting places that we travelled to on a yearly basis. This job has given me a chance to interact internationally with people and, as Mrs. Groenewegen has put it, to be able to share with them the richness of our land and our people. To plant the seed of abundance that we have here and to come and meet us and be a part of our lives at some point. To work with us in partnership like so many joint ventures we have with Aboriginal governments and organizations in the private sector now.
It’s been an interesting process. It’s been a good one. I’ve said in a recent interview that much of that has happened in my personal life and my life with this government and this family here in the Legislative Assembly, that I don’t know if I would ever say I’d change the way I do things. I may have approached things differently, but life happens, and things change, and we have to grow and accept and move on with life.
With that, I must say the one thing I’ve listened to, right from the earliest days before I got involved, about leaders needing to be leaders and making decisions and moving on and make the right decision and work together and respect each other, coming right from my father’s own words about how to be amongst other people. I know there are days when he would be saddened on my approach and my stubbornness and things, but at the same time I know as he was alongside of me on the election day in 1995 and I was the successor, the only one,
as I said to many, who had a bigger smile than me was my father, David Roland. God rest his soul.
He encouraged me just before the last territorial election. As Finance Minister I was feeling a little weary, and having to go into the meeting rooms and to many assemblies, and into this House as Finance Minister saying no, we’re not able to do that, no we’re not able to invest. [English not provided] was the name given to me in Colville Lake: No Money is the term, because they had heard me say that so much. But it’s through that work that we’ve done and the words of our elders that you continue to try to move forward and find a way.
At that time I recall that I was seriously questioning running again for territorial government. I sat quietly with my father in his kitchen and we were sipping tea and he sipped his tea and he looked up and he said, “My boy, when’s the next election?” I said, “Oh, it’s October coming up.” “Oh.” And he looked down and sipped his tea. Then he looked up one more time. I hadn’t spoken to him about how I was feeling and if I should do this anymore. He looked at me and said, “My boy, one more time, and this time top job.” I looked at him, I swallowed a little hard, and I said, “Okay, Dad. Yes. I’ll go one more time.” And his words have rung true again in the fact that Members of this Assembly saw fit to support me in that campaign for this position.
It’s with that in mind that when you look at some of our elders and listen to their stories, the relationship we have -- and I’ve heard it so many times and I know that some Members feel that that relationship is somewhat bruised right now with the Aboriginal leadership. Clearly, in the 16th Legislative Assembly
we tried to establish a formal process of government to government. The regional Aboriginal leadership meeting process. I heard and Members have heard right from my earliest days, whether it was at town council to a Member of the Legislative Assembly to a Finance Minister to now, that Aboriginal leaders and Aboriginal governments and organizations through land claims, through self-government have rights established. Whether they have those rights established through a land claim or not, there are court cases to back that up. As people of the Northwest Territories we need to recognize that.
Through the regional Aboriginal leadership process over a year and a half ago, almost two years ago, in a meeting in Dettah I put before the regional Aboriginal leadership the concept of the Council of Federation. To say why can’t we as Northerners, northern governments, use a concept like this where we can work together. Of common interest. It doesn’t take away anyone’s authority. If you look how we’ve become members of the Western Premiers’ Conference as well as the Council of Federation, it was by the Premier of the day, and it
was Mr. Kakfwi who signed that document and made us formal players at those tables where we’re not waiting anymore outside for someone to come in when it came to our specifics. Where our deputies don’t go and meet with a deputy down in Ottawa to establish our annual budget. We get to do that. We get to decide how we spend that, what kind of revenues we raise and so forth. We’ve come a long way, and that relationship I believe is still there for us to build on. I hope that the future government and the leadership in this Assembly and the Aboriginal leadership in our territory come together again for the greater good of our whole territory.
As I said earlier in my statement, every day we talk and say let’s talk some more, it means someone else is benefitting from the resource extraction in the North. Every day we talk about, well, let’s talk a little bit more about this clause or someone in Ottawa or some senior level staff is making a decision or advising a Minister in Ottawa how a decision should be approved and what conditions should be attached. It’s time for us to take our rightful place. We’ve started to do that through this Assembly. We will continue to do that through our relationship-building with Aboriginal governments.
I must say there are definitely frustrating days and disappointing days, because as much as I’ve heard leaders tell me that they have a rightful place and they have to be a part of the decision-making process, and I absolutely agree, and we go through that process, there are far too many times when it comes time to make the decision we back away because it isn’t the perfect deal. Right now the history of the Northwest Territories has more “we just about made it” than “we made it.” I hope that devolution will move the full course and will have the support of all the Aboriginal leadership. They will come to the table, they will take their rightful place at that table, and they will help design the relationship government to government. The opportunity now exists. It’s not a matter of talking about creating that opportunity. It is there. It is now decision time to say we will be a part of it or not. But because a leader or a group, and for a number of reasons, decides that’s not our time, we respect that as well, but that should not stop us as a whole territory from moving forward.
As I listen to Members of this Assembly, even through this sitting, the call for more money for health centres, for schools, for the environment, requires resources. We’re going to have to get those from someplace else. If we don’t get it from someplace else, then we have to look internally. In fact, at the start of this Assembly when I held the position of Finance Minister, I presented a tough budget that would see us shrink government to reinvest in the critical important areas of this government. We didn’t achieve all that we wanted but we moved the yardstick. The one thing I’ve
learned through this job is it’s important to move the yardstick. Staying status quo and moving nothing really means we haven’t done much, and we have to question ourselves have we done the job.
I’ve gone on for longer than I intended, but I must say that, if I can, the one message I would leave for those who seek re-election and to be elected as Members of the 17th Legislative Assembly is don’t
be afraid to make the tough decisions. Some of us have been around since 1995. You have to make tough decisions. If you want to protect that future we have, if you want to protect what we could be, we’ve got to make tough decisions. They’re not all tough out there and there are some good decisions we make that will positively impact lives, but sometimes, as I use the analogy of a house, we’ve all gone through it from the smallest first house we’ve been a part of to the bigger house we build as our family grows, that the moving experience is never a good one. In times when we start to unpack those boxes we packed up so carefully and said they were so important, when we bring them to the new place and we open them up and we look at them, we wonder why did we pack this. What purpose does it serve today? Yes, it was good and it’s an important memory and it’s a part of who we are, but at some point we have to decide as a collective there’s a future we want to be a part of.
The one thing I have to say as Members is that we can’t, and we have to lose the image. In some circles we have an image, and I must say I share this in frustration but I will say this now, there are times in our Assembly and in past Assemblies when, like the groundhog, when we come out in the sun and we see the shadow, we scuttle back into the ground because we’re afraid of what might happen. It’s time to lose that image. It’s time to take the next step. Venture out a little further than we have in the past.
I know that by making those tough decisions, that we actually spare the suffering of many people in the North. If we don’t make those key decisions to move forward and we don’t make tough decisions, all we’re doing is delaying, in some cases, an inevitable of more pain and suffering to go through. We’ve heard this many times. A thousand cuts. A little here, a little there, a little bit. Squeezing of government. A little here, a little there, a little bit. But the demand for improved services continues to grow and we’re unable to meet that in many cases because we haven’t made key decisions to move forward.
I would say that as we look to our future we know it is bright. We know we have a very good future in front of us. It is going to be the leaders of the day that will make the next decisions of how much we will venture out, how we will take on that future, how we will be players and partners in Canada.
The one message I have been sending consistently to Ottawa since my time as Finance Minister, and now as Premier, is give us the tools. We can make the decisions and we can be government. We have to get past that hat-in-hand mentality of going to the federal government and saying your poor cousins to the North need some money. It is time to take the next step and take our rightful place, make those tough decisions, and be able to build on a future that is sustainable.
I want to thank Members of this Assembly for standing with us through a tough time, for working to find the best solutions. Yes, at times, even us as a government may promote things, or as a Minister we have to take a step backwards in the interest of all people. I think we’ll see an example of that in the next little bit.
Mr. Speaker, your work in this Assembly, your representation of the people you represent, and for keeping order in this House, I thank you. There are days that I’ve approached your office with some frustration and you’ve helped me through those days and we’ve continued to get the business of government done in your role. Even in your role you’ve also managed to carry forward the interests of the people of your constituency, a difficult job to do from the position that you hold. I want to say thank you to you for your guidance and stewardship over our Assembly through our time together. I hope that some of our discussions have rubbed off in a positive way. Though you are my elder, in a sense, in this Assembly one might consider myself an elder as well.
We often joked sometimes when we first came, I must say, Minister Miltenberger… I’ll save this for a later time, but when we came together he was a new Member along with myself, and I remember our first discussion we had, I walked away scratching my head and thinking he must have a big brother, but since that time we’ve become very close comrades. He made a comment to me -- and I have a picture now hanging on my wall in the office -- and he said this a long time ago, he said, “I’ll go with you into a dark alley and stand with you.” I must say thank you, Michael, because we’ve gone through many dark alleys as colleagues and we’ve emerged still standing together, sometimes battered and bruised, but still standing and still looking to take on the next day, the next issue, the next challenge we faced as a government. I must say there were the early days when I think I provided him advice to say tone it down a bit, tone it down. He has been a colleague to my side for quite some time and he reminds me as I stand up at times, be statesmanlike. So thank you for those words.
To my Cabinet colleagues, I know I presented a tough budget the first year and convinced yourselves to take that approach. Then we went to
the Members and we had our discussions and went through that process. Thank you for standing with me. In some of those most trying days that I faced, your words of encouragement have helped me stay the course and stay focused in the work that we need to do for the people of the North. Thank you very much to my colleagues and my Cabinet colleagues and Members of this Assembly. We may not always agree on what this day holds, but I can say this: that we, when working together and understanding our differences, can still build on what we have left or what we will leave. We can build on what we’ve been given, and when we leave, leave a stronger foundation. I hope that through some of our difficult times we can look at our time together in the 16th Assembly and say
we’ve built a stronger foundation for a better future. Thank you very much.
Question 195-16(6): Federal Government Cuts To Water Monitoring Services August 24th, 2011
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The process we’ve been engaged in, number one, we have a meeting of the three northern Premiers to get together to discuss a pan-territorial approach to the opportunity to sit down with the Prime Minister. Following that, we also, from a Government of the Northwest Territories perspective, looked at our initiatives that are underway and highlighted some areas of concern for discussion with the Prime Minister purely from the Northwest Territories perspective. The AIP and devolution is a big part of that and, of course, any impacts that the federal government will be making on decisions on that eventual turnover is of concern to us.
We’ve gone through a process. I have yet to sit down with the other two northern Premiers to talk about our approach on a pan-territorial level. From a Government of the Northwest Territories
perspective, we do have a number of areas. The environment is always a big factor when we talk about those issues and how it fits with the devolution package as well.
Question 190-16(6): Devolution Agreement August 24th, 2011
Through the process we’ve been engaged in, we continue to update all of the Aboriginal groups including those who haven’t signed and are not right now a part of the formal negotiations. But as I said, there is a spot at the table. There is a chair waiting for someone to take up that seat and become part of the process. The door is open for them to come in. It’s a decision they need to make. In fact, we’ve put through this government a request for dollars to help with the Aboriginal groups to be a part of that process. We’ve opened the door, we’re providing funds, and we continue to keep that door open.
Question 190-16(6): Devolution Agreement August 24th, 2011
Before I respond directly to the question, I must thank the Member, I guess. We can have one more lively question and answer process. This is going to be our last opportunity. We have one more day coming up to debate such an important subject, and I must say the Member has been very consistent in his approach and his values placed on Aboriginal leadership and the fact that we need to take our responsible place in decision-making here in the Northwest Territories.
Along with that, I think we’re so close, and I’ve said this to the Aboriginal leadership in the territory. We’re speaking almost the same language. In speaking to the president of the Gwich’in Tribal Council at the assembly, he said a lot of times we get tangled up in the process, and I think that is one of the things here. The process is what we’re tripping up on, but we believe in the principle that we need to be making decisions and benefiting from those decisions in the North.
When you look at the land claims, Mr. Speaker, we’re following those land claims. They do have a right. That is why they were part of the development of the agreement-in-principle. They also have a seat at the table should they choose to, and it is their decision to choose to. We have opened the door. The seat is ready for them. It’s not about saying, well, you can come in if we think about it.
In another instance with the regional leadership process we started in the 16th Assembly well over a
year ago, I put on the table the concept of the Council of Federation, much like we’ve taken place, and prior to that, and I believe it was the premiership of Premier Kakfwi of the day who signed that agreement on behalf of the Northwest Territories. Prior to that we were on the outside in the hallway waiting to be invited in. When you look at that principle, we have now created a table where they can be in there, should they choose to.
Question 190-16(6): Devolution Agreement August 24th, 2011
I guess I could do the proverbial “I was misquoted,” but, no, the fact is I was speaking frankly with an interviewer and he asked, well, some people have said you were too heavy-handed in your actions.
Clearly, these were not my actions. They were the actions of the Assembly. The majority of Members agreed that we need to move forward with this process. We decided to do that. Taking the stance and holding the stance, some may consider that heavy-handed and I guess I would look at it that there are some people who would believe that is the action I took and followed.
Quite clearly, one of the things I’ve said right from the start of this Assembly, one of the things I’d heard for decades about Northerners needing to be the leaders in their own land and making decisions in their own land, this is absolutely about that. Let’s take our rightful place. Let’s be the leaders. Let’s be the governments. Let’s not just talk about it.
Question 190-16(6): Devolution Agreement August 24th, 2011
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Quite clearly, I think there is a lot of consistency in the statement. The fact of the way we’ve behaved as a government. When you look at the agreement-in-principle, that got its origin… The Member talks about the Northern Accord of the Dene/Metis comprehensive process. That agreement never got signed and moved forward. That’s why the Gwich’in were the first to do a separate agreement, followed by the Sahtu and now the Tlicho. Other groups are negotiating. In those claims that are settled, those groups that have settled are already benefiting from royalties as part of the claim process. That’s one thing, for example, the Inuvialuit don’t have, because theirs was the first and that option wasn’t on the table.
There are groups benefiting from royalties of developments already in the Northwest Territories. Not this government but some of those groups. The invite, as I’ve worded in my statement, is there, the table is set, the chairs are there, they are ready to be filled if they want to come to the table. They have been a part of the process. They have developed the agreement-in-principle that was signed. They helped pen some of the sections. When you look at chapters 5 and 6 of those
sections, those are the strongest parts of an agreement that actually put in place in a final process a government-to-government approach. Not just ad hoc but an actual process that would be protected going forward. So the table’s there and the chairs for all of the groups are at the table. They just need a body to fill them. By signing and moving forward, they would be full participants once again, and the option’s there for them. They have to make the decision to come to the table.
Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery August 24th, 2011
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Rarely do I get an opportunity to recognize in the gallery some young men who have been a big part of my life, and they’re a bigger part of my life now, my sons: Mitchell, who is the youngest, Samuel, Quincey and Justin. Along with them, joining them in support for me here today is Ms. Angela Young.
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