Legislative Assembly photo



Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was land.

Last in the Legislative Assembly September 2019, as MLA for Thebacha

Lost his last election, in 2019, with 6% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Question 818-18(3): Sexual Assault Reporting August 16th, 2019

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I can advise that the meeting referred to did take place in mid-June and was well attended. The department is in the process of finalizing a document on what was heard and outcomes from the two-day meetings. I do not yet have that document, but, as I say, I believe the meeting was successful dealing with these very important issues.

Minister's Statement 228-18(3): RCMP in the Northwest Territories August 16th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, few services have as direct an impact on our citizens as the policing services provided by the RCMP. This modern relationship continues to develop, providing effective and collaborative policing services in our communities.

Over the past few years, the RCMP in the NWT have placed a deliberate focus on increasing public trust in policing services, working with partners to improve responses for vulnerable populations, and adapting their work to reflect changing legislation and best practices. This includes providing policing services that reflect community priorities and an understanding of the unique cultural history of the communities the RCMP serves. The commanding officer of "G" Division has stressed the importance of regionally-specific outreach activities by members of "G" division. This includes attending feasts and meeting with elders, and that these activities need to be part of members' initial introduction to the community, as well as part of ongoing community engagement, and be consistently applied across the NWT.

Through Policing Priority Action Plans, the RCMP and community leadership work jointly to develop plans for addressing the specific needs of each community. All 33 communities in the NWT have these plans in place. This work is vital to building a relationship of trust between RCMP members and the communities they serve. Additionally, analysis of the community priority plans allows the opportunity to examine current community safety pressures and plan for future demands. A vital part of this collaborative approach is accountability. Action plan reporting tracks the RCMP and community goals and are reported on quarterly. These reports are provided to community leadership to be shared with community members. The action plans are revisited annually and revised as necessary by the community and the RCMP. Through this process, communities have a direct role in making their community safer.

Almost every community has identified stopping drugs and bootlegging activities as a priority. The mutual trust gained from building community action plans has resulted in the support the police need in order to see results in these areas.

I would also like to update Members on the status of our work over the last decade on the First Nations Policing Program. Currently we are expecting an expansion under this program to the territories that will support the priorities of this Legislative Assembly to ensure services are delivered locally with culturally appropriate methods that will support the priorities of communities in the NWT. Before the end of the 2021 fiscal year, we will be seeing additional policing resources to support those detachments that currently serve small communities under the First Nations Policing Program, allowing us to better address the challenges of policing in the North.

Mr. Speaker, members from the RCMP "G" Division, in partnership with staff from the Departments of Education, Culture and Employment and Justice, were instrumental in creating the RCMP history project on special constables in the NWT, the "We Took Care of Them" exhibit. The exhibit celebrates and honours the contributions of Indigenous people in the NWT to policing in the North. This past April, "We Took Care of Them" received national recognition as the winner of the Canadian Museums Association Award of Outstanding Achievement in the Exhibition-Cultural Heritage category. I would like to congratulate the entire team who worked on this project. I can advise Members that this award-winning project has been very successfully received in our communities. All seven educational kits have been distributed and are being utilized by members in the regions during community or school events. In each case, surviving family members or relatives of special constables are invited to attend and join in these presentations, and are encouraged to speak their language.

In addition, one kit has been requested to be on loan to the RCMP Depot in Regina for use with their recruits during their training to advance cultural awareness. We hope that it will make our NWT recruits very proud as they attend Depot for their training this year to see their own history being featured. All RCMP cadets receive cultural awareness training at Depot, woven in with concepts of human rights, harassment, discrimination, ethics, and bias-free policing. Cultural awareness training comprises 66 hours in the Depot training curriculum. Of that, 17 hours is dedicated to Indigenous cultural awareness training. In addition, recruits coming to our local "G" Division have mandatory requirements for an additional six hours of Indigenous awareness training.

I am very pleased to announce that, as of December 2018, three NWT recruits have graduated and have returned to the NWT for their placement. There are still two NWT residents in Depot actively working towards completing their training. In addition, it is my understanding that, since January of this year, 28 other NWT applicants are within different stages of the recruitment process, with the majority being Indigenous applicants. This is a very significant number of northern recruits.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that the longer-term efforts of the RCMP leadership and individual members have made great inroads in regard to community trust and respect. The ultimate goal we are all working towards is safe communities where our citizens can thrive. I applaud the work that the RCMP have been doing to help achieve this goal. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Committee Report 30-18(3): Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures Report on the Review of Bill 56: An Act to Amend the Legislative Assembly and the Executive Council Act, No. 2, and the Draft Code of Conduct August 15th, 2019

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Significant Official Dealings

Committee heard that the term "significant official dealings" should be defined to provide more clarity and to reflect the increased decision-making role of Ministers in the post-devolution environment. Committee considered this carefully and conducted a review of other jurisdictions in Canada and found that, in most jurisdictions where the terms "significant official dealings" and "official dealings" are used, they are undefined.

The committee consulted with the Commissioner on this point, and it was his recommendation that the term remains undefined to allow for a more contextual or case-by-case analysis, as each issue arises. The committee agreed with the Commissioner's advice. Recognizing the important role the Commissioner plays in interpreting and applying the act, committee passed a motion that would allow the Commissioner to make recommendations for changes to the act as part of their annual report.

Controlling Interest

In the act, a conflict of interest may arise where a Member, their spouse, or dependent child has a controlling interest in a corporation or similar organization. Committee heard submissions that the term "controlling interest" may not fully capture all situations where a Member may have a beneficial interest in a corporation or similar organization. It was recommended that "controlling interest" be replaced with the term and concept of "beneficial ownership" to bring it in line with current best practices and the Canada Business Corporations Act.

The committee accepted this recommendation and passed a number of motions to make this change throughout the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act. A motion was also passed to amend the bill to require that any Members report any beneficial ownership as part of their public disclosure statement filed with the Commissioner.

Disclosure of Gifts and Personal Benefits over $400

The Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act provides that a Member may not accept a gift or personal benefit directly tied to their duties as a Member unless it is received as part of normal protocol or social obligations that accompany their office. Gifts or personal benefits over $400 become the property of the Legislative Assembly or Government of the Northwest Territories. Where gifts or personal benefits over $400 are received or the total value from one organization in one year exceeds $400, they must be reported to the Commissioner. Committee passed a motion that requires the value and description must be reported and included as part of a Members' annual disclosure statement.

Oath of Loyalty

While there was general support for the new oath of loyalty, concerns were raised about Members making a commitment to act in a manner that was consistent with the Northwest Territories Act as this was a piece of federal legislation and could in fact limit the ability of Members to push for changes to the role and powers of the Legislative Assembly. Committee agreed and passed a motion removing the reference to the Northwest Territories Act from the oath of loyalty.

Transparency and Public Accessibility

Several presenters noted the need for increased accessibility to information that is made public under the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act. It was noted that Members' public disclosure statements are available publicly but are only accessible by hard copy in the library at the Legislative Assembly in Yellowknife. It was also noted that a number of documents that the Commissioner is required to produce are tabled in the Legislative Assembly, but a member of the public must know about these documents and then search through all tabled documents posted on the Assembly's web site.

Committee made a number of amendments to the bill to require that all of these documents be posted online on a registry to be made more publicly accessible. Further, the committee made the following recommendation.

Recommendation 1:

The Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures recommends that the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories create a separate section on its web site for the Integrity Commissioner and that all documents that must be posted on the register be located on this page.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to turn this now over to the Member for Nahendeh. Thank you.

Question 815-18(3): Municipal Lands in Enterprise August 15th, 2019

I am not certain whether all communities do have community plans in place, but I know that MACA can work with communities, and Lands can also assist in developing a community plan, which is important for the progress and future of the community. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 815-18(3): Municipal Lands in Enterprise August 15th, 2019

Lands is working with the communities to clarify processes for the transfer of land and fee simple, as well as the responsibilities that go along with the administration of land within the communities. I understand also that Lands and MACA staff are currently working on a strategy or finalizing a strategy on the process for the transfer of land and assets specifically to community governments. We do realize that there is an issue here, and we are taking steps to improve the process.

Question 815-18(3): Municipal Lands in Enterprise August 15th, 2019

Of course, Lands is bound by the law in this area. With respect to that, there is the Commissioner's land regulations that, among other things, in dealing with an application, the deputy minister has to be satisfied that the land is no larger in area than is reasonable for the purpose for which the land is required.

There is no overall policy to turn all land over to the municipalities. In fact, the GNWT may have its own future needs for infrastructure, such as schools, hospitals, and so on. These future needs have to be considered if contemplating the turning over of lands to community governments. Also, in unsettled land claim areas, the Land Lease-Only Policy applies, which requires extra steps to transfer land to the communities in fee simple. There are processes that we have to go through. We do realize, of course, that the municipalities do have bona fide reasons to acquire lands, but they have to make application, and a certain procedure has to be followed.

Question 815-18(3): Municipal Lands in Enterprise August 15th, 2019

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The two departments do, of course, work together. For example, the Department of Lands provides guidance to MACA and community governments when developing and implementing community development plans. Now, the department utilizes the community plans of the municipal governments to ensure that the applications are consistent with the use identified in the plans. MACA has the responsibility for ensuring that community plans are in place, so the two departments do work together in this important area. Thank you.

Tabled Document 492-18(3): 30th Annual Report 2018-2019 - Victims Assistance Committee of the Northwest Territories August 14th, 2019

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to table the following document entitled "30th Annual Report 2018-2019 - Victims Assistance Committee of the Northwest Territories." Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 809-18(3): Legal Assistance on Estates, Wills and Land Transfers August 14th, 2019

I certainly realize this is an important issue. I don't think I can make that commitment at this time. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 809-18(3): Legal Assistance on Estates, Wills and Land Transfers August 14th, 2019

I do realize this is an important issue. Not everybody has easy access to legal advice or lawyers. There is, however, information available. The outreach lawyer has and will go into communities to assist in the preparation of wills in certain circumstances. For clients in the communities, the outreach worker will also prepare simple wills upon request and if there are clear instructions. In some circumstances, for some clients, they will actually prepare the wills. We are making advancements. We do realise that there is difficulty in this area, but I don't think we have the assets or the people available to actually do the probate or administration of the estate.