Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today to speak because this is possibly the last opportunity I will speak in this Assembly. I suppose this can be described as my parting comments to the Western Territory. I will probably take
ten minutes of your time, so it is not going to be a long reply. While I know this sitting has been very emotionally draining for everyone in this House, I have had the opportunity to watch this government work at its highest level. I can personally say it has been a real learning experience for me and very interesting.
I have a few observations I would like to share. Mr. Speaker, I have had a chance to see leadership in action and also seen how a leader is taken down. We all have our own ways of dealing with our leaders and I think in the old days if there was ever a conflict and the people were divided, we still respected our leaders. The fact that they were put there in the first place is really important and that was the key to the survival of our people.
We are supposedly working under a consensus style of government, but the fact is we are operating like a minority government under a party system. The principles or values of a consensus system of government have eroded significantly over the past decade. People watching the House proceedings the last few months may be concluding that the consensus system of government does not exist any more. I think the new government of Nunavut will have to show very early that it has an interest in policy making and not in fighting. There has been a lot said about public perception. I must say that these words made in this House and repeated over and over in the media seem to have a more southern meaning. Things are different in the communities I represent. In my language "public perception" has a closer meaning to "gossip" than anything else. In this political arena, we are measured against gossip and that is the bottom line. I think that maybe "public perception" has been assumed for the entire NWT and we have to watch out for that. Public perception in the communities I represent and the leaders in my constituency is very different from what I interpret to be public perception in the larger communities.
No one can doubt that the media has a role to play in both creating and interpreting the public perception. It is a great responsibility. I must say that the media is one player in this situation, they do not necessarily speak for every member of the communities, especially the small ones. Sometimes the media should remember that too much one-sided criticism makes people in communities think twice about the media and their reporting. Sometimes the criticism has the opposite effect of making people show support for their criticised MLAs. Having said that, I have seen examples of balanced reporting in the Inuktitut language and I commend the following people for their work. Their names do not occur in any particular order: Louie Taparti, Emaline Kownak, Leeza Ipeelie, Paul Innquat, Rassi Nasulik, Annie Ford, Jeannie Arreak, Charlie Panigoniyak.
I have also seen many organizations that say they represent the entire NWT, rarely set up offices or even visit the eastern Arctic. I also note that headquarters are usually in Yellowknife. Again, I know there are exceptions, but in many cases we see these groups when it is convenient on some issue. I hope that in Nunavut this will change and these groups will be closer to the communities and be more recognizable.
I am looking forward to hearing from the panel reviewing the process for the Conflict of Interest. In Nunavut we will have real interest in the process. Almost everybody is related to each other and with small communities in Nunavut, it will be even more important to know how to respect the process and as well that the process is right for Nunavut. Just about everybody is related to each other in one way or another in our municipalities in the smaller communities. Elected people can sometimes be brother and sister, aunts, cousins, fathers, uncles, whatever.
I am also very excited that the working language of the new government will be Inuktitut. English is not my first language. I just learned it when I went to school not too long ago, but it is my current working language. That can be hard looking for the right words. I think I sometimes sound blunt and I usually sound very rude and mean because I cannot find the right words in English. I envy the people here in this Legislature, the MLAs, who were born with English as their first language. The whole world is at your service.
It has been an honour to work with my MACA staff, my past deputy ministers, David Ramsden, Penny Ballantyne, and now Bob McLeod. I work with a very good, honourable bunch of staff. My office staff here who is presently working for me Hayley Simms, Dan Schofield and also Brian Menton who was my EA in my earlier days and also my previous secretaries and my secretary now, Millie; my colleagues in Cabinet and in this Assembly and to represent the people of my riding. I want to commend each individual Minister, Jim Antoine, Charles Dent, Stephen Kakfwi, John Todd, Kelvin Ng, Goo Arlooktoo, and of course, Don Morin. They are a good group of people to work with. I would also like to thank the Members here for having given me the opportunity to be a Minister in this government. People watching may notice that I am wearing two flying geese on my outfit today. These were given to me by John Tinashlu, my campaign manager in Repulse Bay, when I got elected, who said that I should wear them because they are a symbol of what leaders should do, take a bird's-eye view of things and not consider issues or people narrowly. He said sometimes when things are tough you start to disassociate or isolate yourself.
I want to recognize also at this time, before I conclude my statement, Minister John Todd, who has contributed significantly and has worked extremely hard for his constituents and the people of the Territories. He is family to a lot of us in the east. John has always been there for me when I wanted to discuss something with him, and we have had good debates in his office, especially during my time as a new politician. If this was hockey, he would be Wayne Gretzky. He always manages to score, even if he seems to be falling. He is an extremely good skater, he is a good player in politics, and I have been privileged to work beside him.
At this time, I also would like to recognize Don Morin. When Don Morin was running as Premier in this Assembly, I did not know each individual person here in the Assembly except for John because he is from the Keewatin. I told Don I was here, I had won in the by-election so I had a chance to observe him a little bit and also the other Members who were here at the time. I had to base my vote on how I observed in that last Assembly and what I saw in this man was that even under a lot of stress and a lot of criticism, he was able to stand up and smile and know it is going to be another day. He was able to stand on his own two feet and be a leader. He showed me that even under criticism, maybe sometimes personal attacks, you have to make sure you can show yourself as if everything is okay.
I would also like to thank my husband for his support over these years, who has earned an Inuit name given to him by my mom, which just means somebody who has a lot of patience. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.