Legislative Assembly photo


In the Legislative Assembly


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was thanks.
Historical Information Kevin O'Reilly is no longer a member of the Legislative Assembly.

Last in the Legislative Assembly October 2023, as MLA for Frame Lake

Won his last election, in 2019, with 51% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Bill 100: Appropriation Act (Infrastructure Expenditures) 2024-2025, Carried October 6th, 2023

Merci, Monsieur le President. That's a very tough act to follow. I think it's most excited I've seen the Member in the entire Assembly. But I actually agree 100 percent with his analysis. I just tried to make some of those arguments, perhaps a little less vigorously in this House, but bang on. It's absolutely the case with Taltson. I think it's -- it's a good -- it will be a boondoggle if it gets built, just like most other hydro mega projects in this country. So I commend my colleague from Yellowknife North for his vigorous analysis and urge my Cabinet colleagues to make more information about this, and some of the other mega projects, public. Because, quite frankly, these are poor investments. They're not even going to bring northern benefits. You know, these things are just -- we could -- we shouldn't have put them forward as three big projects happening at the same time. They've just raised such unreasonable expectations. Our Ministers go to Ottawa. Ottawa says these guys just can't make up their minds, they don't know what they're doing.

So in any event, Mr. Speaker, I will be voting against this capital budget as I probably have probably the seven or -- other eight ones that I've dealt with in the life of this -- my two terms here because the budgets -- the capital budgets that we are getting from Cabinet just are a reflection of wrong priorities. When we spend more money on roads than we do on housing, wrong priorities. Wrong priorities. We shouldn't be spending more money on these mega projects. They're just not going to go anywhere. If we have to build something, build the Mackenzie Valley Highway. I actually heard even one Cabinet Minister say that in their reply to the Commissioner's address as advice to the next Assembly.

Get realistic. Build one infrastructure project. Do it at a scale and pace where the communities can benefit from it. So stop wasting time. Stop wasting money. Invest in our communities and build real energy self-sufficiency.

So, yeah, this capital budget, again, has the wrong priorities, lack of transparency as my colleague has pointed out, chronic over budgeting. You know, when we have carryovers that are in the -- literally hundreds of millions of dollars from one year to the next, we cannot get the money out the door because we -- for whatever reason, we just -- but that chronic over budgeting means we have to run an operating surplus to help pay for the infrastructure. Sometimes it's -- some of the dollars come from the feds. That's great. Sometimes we got to match 25 percent, whatever. But it means we have to run an operating surplus, which means we're shortchanging programs and services. We're not meeting people's basic human needs in the Northwest Territories because we're trying to spend it on mega projects that are not going to go anywhere.

So, again, Mr. Speaker, I will be voting against this capital budget. I would commend my colleague from Yellowknife North for his dismantling of the Taltson boondoggle. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters October 6th, 2023

Merci, Madam la Presidente. I move that the chair rise and report progress. Mahsi.

Motion 86-19(2): Report of Integrity Commissioner into Complaint of Code of Conduct, Carried October 6th, 2023

Merci, Monsieur le President. I request a recorded vote.

Motion 86-19(2): Report of Integrity Commissioner into Complaint of Code of Conduct, Carried October 6th, 2023

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.

Motion 86-19(2): Report of Integrity Commissioner into Complaint of Code of Conduct, Carried October 6th, 2023

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.

Mr. O'Reilly's Reply October 6th, 2023

Merci, Monsieur le President. Where's the Kleenex? Just in case. It would probably be easier to do this without an audience today.

It's been an honour and a privilege to serve the residents of Frame Lake and indeed all the people of the Northwest Territories. Frame Lake is an amazingly diverse riding. I have lived in the riding for 30 years, and I love it. I need to acknowledge some people that have supported me and indeed all of us while we have been here for the 19th Assembly, most importantly, all of our families that loaned us to this great institution to make decisions on behalf of the people of the Northwest Territories.

Thanks to my wife Suzette and our adult children Amber and Rene. You were often subjected to my debriefings and rants but also served as patient sounding boards. I could not have done this without you.

Thanks to all our fantastic staff that keep this place ticking over for all of us. They always tried to make us look good with varying degrees of success. They are the unsung heroes of democracy, and few will ever know the sacrifices and hard work they do for all of us and the public. I acknowledge that I can be hard on our staff but have always complimented good work and never asked for anything I wasn't prepared to do myself. I would also like to recognize and sincerely thank Craig Yeo and Michael Burchill who faithfully served as my constituency assistants and helped many residents with care and respect.

Thanks to my colleagues in this House. You have had to put up with a lot from me. I am the slowest and pickiest eater, have a healthy skepticism of some traditions, and rarely hold my tongue. That being said, I think you would have to agree that I do my homework and more; I've been honest and respectful, admitted mistakes, and remain open to persuasion and new ideas. Like the Speaker said, I will tell you what I'm going to do. I'll give you notice first. I will tell you want I'm going to do. And then I do it. No surprises.

People do not send us here to agree with each other. Differences are healthy and lead to better decisions even if it is a difficult journey. I know that Cabinet thinks I'm rather sparse and miserly with my accolades for their work, so listen carefully. Although this Assembly was often frustrating, I felt and believe that this time around we actually had a Cabinet that was interested in working with Regular MLAs. So hats off to all my Cabinet friends for trying to work with us on this side. My sincere thanks.

Also thanks to our public service who faithfully carry out our direction no matter how crazy that may be at times. During the 19th Assembly, the COVID pandemic, floods, and then fires had a huge impact on our ability to get work done and to work together. Many important initiatives, legislation, and policy changes were delayed. The pandemic also changed the way we conduct our business. In my view, some changes have been positive while others much less so. Our reliance on video conferencing was helpful but came at the expense of personal relationships and communications.

We've had some difficult personnel matters that we've had to deal with in a very public fashion; however, as painful as that was, we learned from those experiences. Our systems work, and based on lessons learned, we put in place various changes to allow for faster but fair decisions and off-ramps. I urge all NWT residents to exercise their right to vote carefully and thoughtfully, send respectful, hard-working people from a diversity of backgrounds and interests and experience to ensure that public consensus government continues to work.

I especially want to recognize those Members who do not live in Yellowknife. You've carried a much larger burden. I have the luxury of going home every evening, and even if it's very late, being with my friends and family. But I want to thank you guys for the additional sacrifices you had to make.

I want to commend you, Mr. Speaker, for the promotion and support of the Assembly in all our official languages. Mahsi. I also need to recognize the progress that has been made in using all of our official languages in this Assembly and the dedication of our interpreters to make sure everyone can better understand what is said in this place. Merci, mahsi, Marci, Quana, and Thank you.

The OpenNWT website continues to provide a great record of Legislative Assembly debates. That data shows that in all I spoke 350,000 words in each of the 18th and 19th Assemblies. Can you believe it? I believe the only ones who spoke more words than me were MLA Abernethy and MLA Wawzonek. A search of all remarks shows that the most-used word spoken by me was "thanks."

In this Assembly, my office provided services to 104 constituents needing help with GNWT-related issues. I brought forward three private members bills over two Assemblies, two which were successful or incorporated into government bills.

We have accomplished a lot together, Mr. Speaker, in this Assembly, and here are a few highlights:

We changed the way that resource management bills are reviewed so that it is a collaborative process with Indigenous governments. The only place in Canada and perhaps the world that does it this way. We have our first product of that process, a new and better Forest Act based on co-management and sustainability.

We changed the Fiscal Responsibility Policy -- maybe not as much as I wanted -- and practices to begin to limit perpetual over-budgeting on capital and increase transparency in our finances.

We improved the Ombud's authority through a Private Member's Bill. A special thanks to MLA Johnson for that initiative.

We improved Cabinet's carbon tax with mandatory public reporting and revenue sharing with community governments.

We passed legislation to better implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which will change the legislative and policy agendas for future public governments. More work is needed to ensure everyone is at the table and that Regular MLAs are involved.

We laid the foundation for an expanded and improved postsecondary education system for the NWT to help us build a knowledge economy.

Much work remains, including action on our climate and caribou crises, poverty, system-wide improvements to education, universal child care, improved services for seniors, completion of Indigenous land rights agreements, and getting our housing out of core need.

That's my advice on priorities for the next Assembly. Focus on one large infrastructure project, the Mackenzie Valley Highway that connects communities, and do it in an incremental fashion to ensure that communities benefit. Treat housing as a large infrastructure project. Connect all of our communities to affordable and reliable internet services. Build community and household energy self-sufficiency. I think that should be your infrastructure goals for the next Assembly.

One of the first issues the next Assembly will have to deal with is a review of the fires and emergency management. Please make sure it is an independent third-party comprehensive review with public participation, resources, and access to expertise. A terms of reference should be collaboratively developed among the Council of Leaders, Cabinet, and Regular MLAs.

This is not about finding fault but learning and adapting to a changing world with a climate emergency and collaboration between Indigenous and public governments.

Throughout all of my time here, I applied a laser focus on transparency and accountability on legislation, policies, and processes. Public government has not just a responsibility but a duty to ensure the public has an opportunity to see important documents and decisions and to participate in decision-making. This lens can and must be applied systematically across everything this government does. We can and must do a better job of actually implementing the Open Government Policy.

One last challenge, Mr. Speaker, please find ways to better explain in plain language what happens here, how we make laws, how consensus government works, and the difference between the Legislative and Executive branches of government. Make more of the work that happens here public and accessible.

Never say never, but my current plans do not include becoming a candidate in the election for the 20th Assembly. It's time for a break and to spend more time with my family. I'm not going to go anywhere, and I'll probably poke my nose in here just to annoy you once in a while. If you ever want my suggestions or advice, just ask. I can honestly say that I've never worked as hard in my life. I did my best to bring my experience, integrity, and creativity to this job.

Thank you for the opportunity and challenge of serving as the MLA for Frame Lake. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Question 1638-19(2): Cameron HIlls Gas Field Remediation and Liabilities October 6th, 2023

Merci, Monsieur le President. Just one more question of -- for my favorite Minister, and I'm sending it with love, the site is located in the Northwest Territories but the first phase of the remediation work was awarded to an Alberta company with no local benefit requirements, even though some Indigenous governments wanted to do the work. So I'm going to ask the Minister if he can explain how GNWT is going to ensure local benefits moving forward, you know, -- we're trying to build a remediation economy, so how are we going to get local benefits from our remaining work? Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Question 1638-19(2): Cameron HIlls Gas Field Remediation and Liabilities October 6th, 2023

Merci, Monsieur le President. I want to thank the Minister for that. Wow, that sounds like there's still a lot of work that needs to be done. It's going to cost a lot of money, and we want to make sure there's some local benefits there. But when I look at the public registry for the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board, there's still no submission of a final closure and reclamation plan or even a cost estimate of the environmental liabilities. So I'd like to know from the Minister when that plan and cost estimate will be submitted to the land and water board, and why it's been delayed for years. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Question 1638-19(2): Cameron HIlls Gas Field Remediation and Liabilities October 6th, 2023

Okay. Merci, Monsieur le President. I want to thank the Minister for that. So we've had some inspections done. But it doesn't sound like much work is actually happening at the site. So, you know, given this lack of activities and reporting on the site over the last seven months, I'm hoping that the Minister can explain the schedule and remaining work to be done at Cameron Hills. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Question 1638-19(2): Cameron HIlls Gas Field Remediation and Liabilities October 6th, 2023

Merci, Monsieur le President. You know that I couldn't squander this last opportunity to go back to my favorite Minister, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, on one of my favourite topics, Cameron Hills remediation. So here goes, Mr. Speaker.

You know, so I want to ask about -- the last report I can find of anything happening at the Cameron Hills abandoned sour gas field is dated March 2023 when well remediation at about 44 sites was winding down. There has been no reports about the court -- from the court-appointed receiver now for ten months. I want to ask the Minister what's been going on at the site since March of this year. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.