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Crucial Fact

Last in the Legislative Assembly October 2011, as MLA for Hay River North

Won his last election, in 2007, with 61% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Main Estimates 2008–2009 Legislative Assembly June 16th, 2008

It was money we were going to use from within anyway, and that money has lapsed. We do have a fund of $75,000 that we use for minor repairs out front just to try to keep up with the situation of our roadway and parking lot. Quite obviously, we’re going to have to get approval for a bigger expenditure if we want to do it half-decently out there.

Main Estimates 2008–2009 Legislative Assembly June 16th, 2008

Thank you, Mr.

Chairman.

Yes, this issue has been brought up a number of times, and it’s one we continue to struggle with.

There had been a proposal a few years ago to put in an extra 21 parking stalls out front. We had budgeted approximately $140,000 to do that. When we got an estimate to do those parking stalls, it was considerably higher than that, plus the fact that it was late in the fall when the bids came in.

At the same time, there was talk about a courthouse building being built on the precinct here. We wanted to make sure, when we did it, that it was going to be compatible with whatever was happening at the courthouse, so we delayed doing it.

However, we’re at a point now where we have to look at that situation again. We know the roadway out front and parking, as well, are problems for us. We manage to keep security out front to try to control vehicles when there’s an event going on here, but it’s a constant struggle for us. That is something I’m quite sure Members can expect to see coming forward in the business plans this fall — something we’re going to have to do to address our parking and roadway out front.

Main Estimates 2008–2009 Legislative Assembly June 16th, 2008

Thank you, Mr.

Chairman.

That is an issue we have been dealing with for some time now: trying to reduce the energy costs for the Assembly and keeping in mind, as well, the environment.

We have introduced some initiatives here to cut down on costs, such as lighting. Specifically to the fuel, there has been a proposal put forward for pellet heat for the building. We are looking into some of the costs involved in that, and not only that but location for the ability to put in a hopper that would serve that type of system. It’s actively being looked at to try and come up with some costs and to find where we would put the equipment to handle that. It is one we’re very interested in doing, and we’re pursuing it as we speak, actually.

Main Estimates 2008–2009 Legislative Assembly June 16th, 2008

We have not got the numbers for the performance of the fund to put in for ’08–09 yet, so we’re depending on past years.

Main Estimates 2008–2009 Legislative Assembly June 16th, 2008

Thank you, Mr. Chair. The gain on investments is related to the investment portfolio in the Supplementary Retiring Allowances Fund. It’s calculated as the difference between the value of assets of the fund on March 31, 2006, and at March 31, 2007. It’s totally due to investment performance.

Main Estimates 2008–2009 Legislative Assembly June 16th, 2008

Thank you, Mr. Chair. With me today I have, to my left, Olin Lovely, director of corporate services; and to my right, Mr. Tim Mercer, Clerk of the Assembly.

Main Estimates 2008–2009 Legislative Assembly June 16th, 2008

Yes, I would, Mr. Chair.

Main Estimates 2008–2009 Legislative Assembly June 16th, 2008

I also want to thank Brian Thagard, Donna Friesen, Lynda Comerford, Derek Edjericon and Bryn Herbert for coordinating and implementing this great new initiative.

Mr. Chairman, that concludes my opening remarks. I will now be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Main Estimates 2008–2009 Legislative Assembly June 16th, 2008

Mr. Chair, I am pleased to report that no reductions will be made to our popular and well-attended Youth Parliament. This year’s Youth Parliament focused on language-preservation issues, and as always, our youth did us proud in this Chamber. We will be rebroadcasting their proceedings throughout the summer.

Mr. Chair, I am pleased to report that I will continue to travel to at least one small community a year with our Mace to allow youth and residents who do not normally get to visit the capital to get a sense of the work we do in this Chamber.

Last year, Mr. Chair, the Commissioner and I, the Clerk, the Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms, the public affairs and communications coordinator and the Speaker’s assistant visited the community of Sachs Harbour. Mr. Chair, this was the first time our Mace has travelled north of the Arctic Circle and across the Arctic Ocean to Banks Island. It was an honour and a privilege to be part of this historic occasion. Watching the looks on the faces of the youth, elders and residents of Sachs Harbour as they were observing our Mace up close confirms to me the value of this initiative. Mayor Robert Eldridge

and

the elders of Sachs Harbour played great hosts to us, and the youth played a great volleyball game against us. This year we hope to visit a community in the Nahendeh riding.

Mr. Chair, I am pleased to announce that our self-guided tour system is now operational and available in nine of our official languages. Residents and visitors can now take a tour of this impressive and symbolic institution, in the language and timing of their choice, using iPod nano technology.

Finally, Mr. Chair, Members should have already taken notice of an increased number of pages serving us from constituencies throughout the Northwest Territories. This year marks the beginning of a new initiative that will see the Legislative Assembly sponsor up to four pages a year from each Member’s constituency to travel to Yellowknife to serve us in the House. The quality of the service we have received from these pages thus far has been excellent, and I wish to thank them for their assistance.

Applause.

Main Estimates 2008–2009 Legislative Assembly June 16th, 2008

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I’m pleased to present the 2008–2009 estimates for the Legislative Assembly.

As Members know, the Assembly’s Main Estimates are drafted and considered by the Board of Management as opposed to the Financial Management Board. As an independent branch of government, the Legislative Assembly is not bound to implement the fiscal policy of the government

with respect to planned expenditure reductions. This being said, it has been the practice of the board in recent years to make every possible effort to implement expenditure reductions for the Assembly when these have been required across government. This year is no exception.

In applying roughly the same methodology to its budget as the Financial Management Board applies to the departments, the board identified a two-year target expenditure reduction of $675,000. Mr. Chair, I am pleased to report that the Board of Management has fully met this target. The vast majority of the necessary reductions are included in the 2008–2009 estimates before you for consideration.

Mr. Chairman, the 2008–2009 Main Estimates for the Legislative Assembly include a target reduction of $542,000, the largest component being a $200,000 reduction to the constituency work expense budgets for individual MLAs. The board is aware this measure will put added strain on Members, particularly those who use the majority of their budgets to hire constituency assistants. Nevertheless, the board felt, and Members have agreed, that leadership by example is important in the current fiscal environment. This is a small reduction in the larger scheme of things, but an important symbolic measure.

Mr.

Chairman, the reductions include the

elimination of two vacant staff positions: one at the Legislative Assembly branch library, and a second at Elections NWT. They also include a $102,000 reduction to the budget for the standing committees, reductions to Members’ capital accommodations and telecommunications budgets, the elimination of the Cultural Enhancement Commission, and a reduction in the number of community visits under the Speakers’ outreach program from two to one.

Mr.

Chair, the Assembly’s reduction target has

been achieved in the face of significant forced-growth pressure in some of our contractor costs, most notably our Hansard contract. Increased utility costs and new initiatives, such as our broadcasting solution, the enhanced Page Program, the Members’ constituency travel fund, and costs associated with the Human Rights Commission and the adjudication panel have also been addressed.

Mr. Chair, this year marks the first time we have sought direct input from our statutory board and agencies on their budgets. We reviewed written and in-person presentations from the Chief Electoral Officer, the Human Rights Commission, the Human Rights Adjudication Panel, the office of the Languages Commissioner, and the Information and Privacy Commissioner regarding their budgetary needs. I feel this direct input will allow a higher level of responsiveness to budgetary needs of our

statutory officers without impacting their independence.

Mr. Chair, it’s not often I get to speak to issues in this House, so I want to take a moment while I have the floor to focus attention on a few important initiatives we have implemented in recent years.

Mr. Chair, as we speak, the proceedings of this Assembly are being broadcast and rebroadcast in 25 of our 33 communities, both live and throughout the evening.

By the end of the summer, an additional four communities will be added to the system, with a target of all 33 communities by next summer. In October of this year we will begin community-specific broadcasts and rebroadcasts in all of our official languages. Phase 2 of the broadcast solution involves expanding our programming to include standing committee meetings and other public affairs programming of interest to Northerners.

I want to recognize the efforts of Brian Thagard, Patricia Russell, Danielle O’Neill and Ella Mawdsley for their outstanding work in testing, implementing and monitoring this complex and exciting initiative.

Applause.