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In the Legislative Assembly


Crucial Fact

Historical Information Michael Nadli is no longer a member of the Legislative Assembly.

Last in the Legislative Assembly September 2019, as MLA for Deh Cho

Lost his last election, in 2019, with 47% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Municipal Lands in Enterprise August 15th, 2019

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. I sense a growing frustration amongst residents and community governments in the NWT for the GNWT's approach to land administration. Residents on leased land want ownership in the form of fee simple title to enable them to get mortgages and invest in their properties. Business owners want land that is developed and zoned for commercial and industrial use. They also want certainty that the value of their investment will not be undermined by their business being on or next to leased property, where property values are lower. Community governments need access to land for municipal development, such as the construction of a municipal building or recreation facility or the development of a park or trail system. They also want to be consulted on things like land withdrawals, both inside and adjacent to their boundaries, which might impact future growth.

Mr. Speaker, at a recent public meeting on Bill 46, Public Land Act, Mayor Winnie Cadieux of Enterprise asked the Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment to amend the bill to make sure that there is a requirement for consultation with municipalities. She said, "When the GNWT comes into our community boundaries and wants to scoop up land for their own uses, that is just not right." I agree with her. The GNWT should be doing everything it can to ensure that, within community boundaries, municipal needs take precedence over the needs of the territorial government.

In fact, many municipalities feel that, now that devolution is complete, the GNWT should be converting all leased lands within community boundaries to fee simple title and transferring that title to communities. This would allow municipal governments to provide for their own future growth and development without having to apply to the GNWT for land approval on a parcel-by-parcel basis. This would help to eliminate the paternalistic attitude that communities experience when seeking land approvals from the GNWT. It would also help to overcome the piecemeal approach to land development that is inhibiting economic growth and development in communities.

I have spoken with Mayor Cadieux about Enterprise's experiences and their frustration in dealing with the GNWT. There are continuing concerns about the administration of lands within the community, and the leadership feels that it is being ignored. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement. Thank you.

---Unanimous consent granted

Indian Day School Settlement Agreement August 14th, 2019

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. You can also make sure that the school you attended is listed on Schedule K, which is the official list of federal Indian day schools.

Mr. Speaker, it is important that all of the residents of the Northwest Territories who attended federal day schools learn about their rights and obligations related to their settlement, which also covers people who have passed away since July 31, 2007. I encourage anyone who has questions to visit the official Federal Indian Day School Class Action website at www.indiandayschools.com. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Indian Day School Settlement Agreement August 14th, 2019

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. By now, most Canadians are aware of the history of residential schools. What they may not know is that there were also over 700 Indian day schools operated by the federal government between the time the first one opened in 1828 until the last one closed its doors in 1997. It is estimated that over 200,000 Indigenous children attended these schools. While these students were able to return home at the end of the day, many still suffered trauma, including physical, sexual, and emotional abuse at the hands of the authority figures entrusted with their care.

More than 35 of these day schools operated in the NWT from 1958 to 1969 in at least 26 locations, including the Trout Rock Seasonal School, the Rocher River Day School, and schools at Pine Point and Reindeer Station. I attended the Elizabeth Ward day school in Fort Providence, and my parents attended the Sacred Heart Residential School, also in Fort Providence.

Mr. Speaker, on March 12 of this year, the Government of Canada announced that it had reached a proposed settlement agreement regarding the national Indian day schools class action lawsuit. This lawsuit was brought on by Mr. Garry McLean, an Indigenous leader and mentor, on behalf of all former students who attended these schools. Mr. McLean sadly passed away of cancer in February of this year at the age of 67, but as part of the settlement, a $200 million legacy fund has been established in his name. The fund will provide grants on application from charities and not-for-profit organizations to support commemoration projects, health and wellness programs, truth-telling events, and the restoration and preservation of Indigenous languages and culture. The proposed settlement agreement also includes $10,000 in individual compensation for those who suffered harm while attending Indian day school. For those who have suffered the most severe abuses, additional compensation, ranging from $50,000 to $200,000, may be awarded.

On May 13 to 15, a hearing took place in Winnipeg for the court to decide whether the proposed settlement is approved. Until that happens, no payments can be made, but people who may want to make a claim can register as part of the class action group. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement. Mahsi.

---Unanimous consent granted

Question 798-18(3): Relationship between Ka'a'gee Tu First Nation/Kakisa and the Government of the Northwest Territories August 13th, 2019

Is there a difference in engagement by the GNWT when an Aboriginal government is part of a broader self-government agreement like the Deh Cho process, versus a stand-alone government, such as the K'atlodeeche First Nations?

Question 798-18(3): Relationship between Ka'a'gee Tu First Nation/Kakisa and the Government of the Northwest Territories August 13th, 2019

I would like to thank the Premier for his reply. My second question is: is the GNWT currently planning any future engagements with the Ka'a'gee Tu First Nations?

Question 798-18(3): Relationship between Ka'a'gee Tu First Nation/Kakisa and the Government of the Northwest Territories August 13th, 2019

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions are to Premier McLeod. Earlier, I made reference to the community of Ka'a'gee Tu First Nation of Kakisa and their aspirations as a Deh Cho community. What they are contemplating is the question: how can their relationship with the GNWT get better? I think that it is a great opportunity. I am going ask my first question to the Premier: can the Premier update this House on the status of discussions with Ka'a'gee Tu First Nations of Kakisa on their priorities? Mahsi.

Committee Report 26-18(3): Report on the Review of the Carbon Tax Bills: Bill 42: An Act to Amend the Petroleum Products Tax Act and Bill 43: An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act August 13th, 2019

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Confidential Information and Nature of the Bills Inhibited Public Consultation

Committee originally planned to hold public meetings in Fort Providence, Hay River, Inuvik, and Yellowknife. However, on May 8th of this year, two thirds of the way through the formal 120-day review period, committee was notified in writing by the Finance Minister that the GNWT had revised its carbon tax approach for large emitters, those emitting 50,000 tonnes or greater of annual greenhouse gas emissions. This was of concern to committee, which already felt that the GNWT's proposed approach to large emitters was too generous. Committee was advised that this adjustment was necessary to better align the GNWT's approach with the federal backstop, details of which were only released by Canada in December 2018.

Committee had hoped that additional information about this change in approach would be made public by the Minister during the May-June sitting, including details provided in confidence to committee. When this information was not shared with the public, committee subsequently issued a news release on June 7th advising of its decision to postpone the planned public consultations until more information was provided by the Department of Finance.

Committee asked that as much detail as possible related to the committee's specific questions be shared with the public. Unfortunately, as with much of the other information shared by Finance with committee, the responses to these questions were marked "Confidential - Not for Distribution." This is particularly vexing with respect to Bills 42 and 43, where the majority of the GNWT's proposal is not contained in the legislation itself but in regulations and other public policy instruments.

Committee is not at liberty to disclose information provided in confidence by Cabinet Ministers. Unfortunately, the large majority of the correspondence received by committee from the Finance Minister on this initiative, including responses to committee's questions, was marked confidential, thereby prohibiting committee from publicly disclosing its contents. This also inhibited committee's ability to engage in a meaningful consultation. For example, committee's inability to disclose the information contained in Finance's May 8 letter rendered committee unable to explain to the public, even with the writing of this report, how the GNWT's approach to large emitters has changed.

Plain-Language Summaries Provided

Committee wrote to the Minister requesting plain-language explanations of Bills 42 and 43 that could be shared with the public.

Committee wishes to take this opportunity to thank the Minister for responding positively to the committee's request by preparing plain-language summaries of both bills that could be shared with the public. It is committee's experience, based on consultations undertaken over the course of the 18th Assembly, that simple, straight-forward information for NWT residents outlining the purposes of changes to the law and the impact of those changes is vital to obtaining meaningful input from the public. Too often, committee finds itself having to explain government-sponsored bills, leading to confusion about the role of standing committees and the legislative process. Accordingly, committee makes the following recommendation.

Recommendation 1

The Standing Committee on Government Operations recommends that, for all bills proposing to establish, replace, or make significant changes to territorial legislation, a plain-language summary be prepared and made available to the appropriate standing committee at the time the bill is introduced in the Legislative Assembly.

Committee sent out a second news release on July 15th, indicating that it still lacked sufficient detail to enable committee to adequately answer questions from the public on these Finance-sponsored bills. This consideration, along with timing constraints, led committee to the decision to request written submissions from the public and hold a single public meeting in Yellowknife on August 1st.

Mr. Speaker, I now pass on the reading responsibilities to my honourable colleague, to my colleague for Hay River North.

Relationship between Kakisa and the Government of the Northwest Territories August 13th, 2019

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. In 2012, the GNWT developed a respect, recognition, and responsibility strategy to engage with Aboriginal governments. Part of this strategy includes that Aboriginal governments are essential partners in shaping the future and creating opportunities and prosperity in communities and regions. [English translation not provided].

Mr. Speaker, small communities are constantly fighting for services that are taken for granted in larger centres. Their voices can be lost, and the government spends less time considering their needs. Ka'a'gee Tu First Nations have been working hard to advance their key initiative. While some have been addressed, including local housing concerns and establishment of a new dock, there are still pressing concerns about the local water supply and the need for a new office.

Recognition of treaty rights and Aboriginal titles to lands and resources and the right to self-determination of local governments matter. Protocols need to be based on mutual recognition and respect, and consultations with the community are critical to advance priorities of both the community and the GNWT.

Mr. Speaker, the respect, recognition, and responsibility strategy states that "The GNWT is committed to building and maintaining mutually respectful government-to-government relationships with Aboriginal governments." I will have questions for the Premier on how he sees the relationship between Ka'a'gee Tu First Nation and the GNWT evolving and how it will follow the respect, recognition, and responsibility strategy. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Committee Motion 161-18(3): Standing Committee on Social Development Report on the Review of Bill 40: Smoking Control and Reduction Act and Bill 41: Tobacco and Vapor Products Control Act - Government Response to Recommendations, Carried August 12th, 2019

Mr. Chair, I wish to declare that I have a financial interest in Bill 54, Standard Interest Rates Statutes Amendment Act, and I will excuse myself from the Chamber during its consideration of Committee of the Whole today. Mahsi, Mr. Chair.

Committee Report 25-18(3): Report on the Review of Bill 48: Post-Secondary Education Act August 12th, 2019

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Advisory committees and Quality Assurance Bodies

Subsection 7(1) of Bill 48 authorizes the Minister to, in accordance with regulations, establish a "post-secondary education advisory committee." The duties of an advisory committee include reviewing matters referred to it by the Minister, including the review of and the making of recommendations on applications for recognition as a post-secondary institution, and advising the Minister at his or her request on any matter respecting the administration of post-secondary education in the NWT. Subsection 7(2) requires the Minister to appoint a chairperson, a vice-chairperson, and one to five other persons to serve on a committee. Section 8 also authorizes the Minister to, in accordance with regulations, designate a "quality assurance body" to review matters referred to it by the Minister.

Committee determined that Bill 48 was unclear about the role of the advisory committees in the quality assurance process, as was the distinction between the work of an advisory committee and that of a quality assurance body. To clarify the role of advisory committees in the quality assurance process, committee worked with the Minister to develop Motion 3, set out in Appendix A. As appropriate, the department will use "homegrown" advisory committees, including for applications for recognition as an Indigenous institution and, in other instances, may draw on the expertise of quality assurance bodies established elsewhere.

Committee heard a general concern expressed by some presenters about the degree of power and discretion that the Minister has under Bill 48 and a desire for assurances that the quality assurance processes will be proper and independent. Given that conflict can arise between post-secondary institutions and governments, such as in the context of debates about principles of academic freedom, committee agrees that the advisory committees should have a measure of independence so that they may review and advise the Minister on matters without fear of consequence. To that end, we are satisfied with the specification of membership details in regulations as anticipated in paragraph (e) of section 66.

Committee identified an issue, however, with the limit placed on the number of members of an advisory committee to no more than seven individuals under subsection 7(2). Committee believes that broader representation than that permitted under subsection 7(2) may be needed in some cases, such as where regional perspectives may be beneficial. As such, committee and the Minister collaborated on Motion 4, set out in Appendix A, to remove this cap on membership.

Ministerial Discretion

A common theme among the concerns heard by committee was the degree and vastness of the Minister's power and discretion under Bill 48. Presenters indicated the Minister should have clear guidance and parameters to ensure that the Minister exercises his or her discretion appropriately and that post-secondary institutions should run at arm's length from the GNWT.

More specifically, a few presenters expressed concern about the bill's stipulation in several instances that a decision of the Minister is final (e.g. ss. 11(7), ss. 12(4), s. 18, s. 22, ss. 25(7), s. 32), regardless of the fairness or justness of a decision. This was indicated as a concern in cases where an advisory committee or quality assurance body makes a positive recommendation to the Minister with respect to an application for establishment as, for example, a university under section 11, but the Minister rejects the application regardless.

Presenters offered some suggestions aimed at ensuring that there are fair processes around decision-making, such as requiring the Minister to give written reasons for his or her decisions, setting time limits for the Minister's decisions, and providing for appeals of the Minister's decisions to the courts.

Committee agrees that decision-making should be fair and transparent and that there should be clear recourse for entities seeking status as a post-secondary institution. For these reasons, committee recommends that regulations be developed to address various procedural matters for ensuring fair decision-making, such as notice requirements, the right to be heard and timeframes, and that they require that the Minister provide written reasons for his or her decisions.

Recommendation 3

The Standing Committee on Social Development recommends that the Department of Education, Culture and Employment develop regulations containing a requirement that the Minister provide reasons, in writing, for his or her decisions under the act.

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. I now pass the reading of the following section to my honourable colleague from Tu-Nedhe Wiilideh. Mahsi.