Last in the Legislative Assembly December 1999, as MLA for Deh Cho
Lost his last election, in 1999, with 37% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Item 5: Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery May 7th, 1996
Welcome to the Assembly. Item 5, recognition of visitors in the gallery. Before we go to oral questions, I have a ruling I would like to make.
(Translation) I have taken some time to consider the circumstances that occurred on May 2nd. At the end of question period of May 2nd, I made the following comment which is contained on page 407 of unedited Hansard, and I quote:
"Question period is now over. To remind Members, I know I have allowed Mr. Picco to ask further questions, but I am trying to even out question period so all Members are given the same equal opportunities."
During the item tabling of documents, the Member for Iqaluit, Mr. Picco, tabled a document numbered 29-13(3). In the Member's tabling statement, he indicated the following which is contained on page 408 of the unedited Hansard, and I quote Mr. Picco's tabling statement:
"Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I wish to table Tabled Document 29-13(3), concerning question period. Mr. Speaker, this tabled document states that question period should be extended for a duration allowing each Member a chance to ask as many questions as needed for the democratic process. Thank you, Mr. Speaker."
When the Member for Iqaluit made this statement, I indicated, without seeing the tabled document, the following:
"Are you challenging the chair? I will have to look at the tabled document further before the chair makes any kind of ruling regarding the tabled document. It will be reviewed." (Translation ends)
I have since had an opportunity to review the tabled document and find that Mr. Picco did not, in his tabling statement or within the content of the tabled document, challenge the chair, so there is no need for me to rule further on this matter.
I would, however, like to indicate to the Member for Iqaluit and other Members, if they have a concern with any of the rules of the Assembly, that they are free to raise the matter with the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and Privileges.
While I have your attention, I would like to indicate, as Speaker, that during question period I endeavour to be as fair as possible when recognizing Members to ask an oral question. I can understand a Member's frustration that I may not have your name on the list, but I can assure you that if I see you your name will go on the chair's list and I will ensure that, within the time limit allowed, questions are fairly and proportionally distributed amongst all Members.
Also, I would like to remind Members that the initial question to a Minister should contain a preamble that would provide the framework and background to the actual question. Each Member is entitled to ask three supplementary questions on the same original question. The purpose of the supplementary questions is to obtain clarification of the answer or answers provided by the Minister to whom the original question was directed and should, therefore, not require a preamble. If Members require further clarification, I would draw your attention to the rule books that were provided to all Members and specifically to the section on procedural information where you will find information on question period which may be of assistance.
If all Members are a little more diligent in adhering to the application of the rules, I am confident that the democratic process will not be impeded in any way. I thank you for your attention.
Item 6, oral questions. Mr. Picco.
Motion 4-13(1): Rule Amendment - Establishment Of New Committee System, Carried November 23rd, 1995
The Member for Thebacha is seeking unanimous consent to have his motion deemed as read into the record. Are there any nays? There are no nays.
NOW THEREFORE I MOVE, seconded by the honourable Member for Natilikmiot, that the rules of the Legislative Assembly be amended by:
Rescinding Rule 85 and substituting the following:
85(1) At its first sitting after a general election, the Assembly shall appoint a Striking Committee of four Members to report and recommend with all convenient speed, Members to comprise the following standing committees of the Assembly:
on Resource Management and Development;
on Social Programs;
on Rules and Procedures;
and any other standing and special committees directed by the Assembly.
(2) The Standing Committee on Infrastructure shall consider the following matters with respect to the departments of Finance, Public Works and Services, Municipal and Community Affairs, Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs, Executive, Personnel Secretariat, and the Financial Management Board Secretariat;
a) Review legislative and policy proposals, multi-year plans and budgets, bills, boards and agencies, public accounts and division issues;
b) Review departmental performance; and,
c) Consider any other matter referred by the House.
(3) The Standing Committee on Resource Management and Development shall consider the following matters with respect to the departments of Economic Development and Tourism, Renewable Resources, Transportation, Safety and Public Services, and Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources:
a) Review legislative and policy proposals, multi-year plans and budgets, bills, boards and agencies, public accounts and division issues;
b) Review departmental performance; and,
c) Consider any other matter referred by the House.
(4) The Standing Committee on Social Programs shall consider the following matters with respect to the departments of Health and Social Services, Education, Culture and Employment, Justice and the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation:
a) Review legislative and policy proposals, multi-year plans and budgets, bills, boards and agencies, public accounts and division issues;
b) Review departmental performance; and,
c) Consider any other matter referred by the House.
(5) The Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures shall inquire into such matters as may be referred to it by the Legislative Assembly, the Speaker or the Management and Services Board.
AND FURTHER, that Rule 85.1 be adopted as follows:
85(1) The chairperson and deputy chairperson of each of the standing committees on Infrastructure, Resource Management and Development, and Social Programs shall comprise the membership of the Standing Committee on Government Operations.
(2) The Standing Committee on Government Operations shall:
a) Review issues which have government-wide implications;
b) Consider items and issues referred from other committees and the House;
c) Conduct the overview of the budget and the fiscal framework;
d) Consider the budgets and financial management of boards and agencies that are outside the responsibility of any standing committee, including the office of the Legislative Assembly;
e) Examine the reports on the annual financial statements and public accounts of the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Report of the Auditor General;
f) Review the estimates and the financial status of the Government of the Northwest Territories to monitor compliance with the Deficit Elimination Act;
g) Allocate to any other standing committee its examination of any estimates and any review of departmental performance;
h) Recommend the appointment of the "Statutory Officers" of the Legislative Assembly; and,
i) Examine and consider the overall issues that affect the operation of the Government of the Northwest Territories relating to division and the creation of two territories.
(3) The Striking Committee appointed under 85(1) shall, prior to the selection of the chairpersons and deputy chairpersons referred to in 85.1(1),
recommend the appointment of a Member as chairperson of the Standing Committee on Government Operations.
(4) The chairperson of the Standing Committee on Government Operations is not eligible to serve as the chairperson or deputy chairperson of the standing committees on Infrastructure, Resource Management and Development, and Social Programs.
(5) Notwithstanding Rule 90(3), the quorum for the Standing Committee on Government Operations shall be four Members and must include the chairperson and at least one representative, either the chairperson or deputy chairperson, of each of the standing committees on Infrastructure, Resource Management and Development, and Social Programs.
(6) The Standing Committee on Government Operations shall also have three alternates, one from each of the standing committees on Infrastructure, Resource Management and Development, and Social Programs. Alternates may be called upon by the chair to take the place of an absent committee Member. When participating in committee business, the alternate shall be entitled to vote on any matter.
AND FURTHERMORE, that Rule 87(1) be amended by:
Striking out "85" following "pursuant to Rule" and substituting "85(1)."
AND FURTHERMORE, that Rule 90(3) be rescinded and the following substituted:
90(3) The quorum of a committee shall be four Members.
AND FURTHERMORE, that Rule 94(2) be rescinded and Rule 94(3) be renumbered as 94(2).
Item 3: Remarks By Speaker November 22nd, 1995
Honourable Members of the 13th Legislative Assembly, let me begin by thanking you all for the confidence and trust you have placed in me in selecting me to act as your Speaker. As we all have made a commitment to represent our constituents to the best of our ability, I will now give you my commitment to ensure that the rights and privileges of all Members are upheld so that you are able to fulfil your duties. It is my responsibility as Speaker to see that everyone can speak freely, without constraint, within the rules of this House. I can assure you that I will rule fairly and impartially in accordance with the principles of the bureaucracy and the rules and practises of this Legislative Assembly.
On this opening day of the 13th and last Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories, I am mindful of the challenges we will face over the next four years. Many of these challenges have been faced by the Members of previous assemblies. Many are new and formidable as the North moves rapidly towards division in 1999. However, with great challenges comes great risk. The pressures and pitfalls along the road to success and the realization of our aspirations are many. You have all been chosen by your constituents to represent their interests in this House, and they have great expectations of you. You no doubt have great expectations of yourselves and each other as well.
As a somewhat experienced Member and dean of this House, I can assure you that you will face some very trying times in the near future. You may find some difficulty in striking that allusive balance between your work and your family. The stress and anxiety that comes with pursuing such a balance can often seem overwhelming. In meeting this particular challenge, we must remember to treat each other with respect and compassion, always. The demand on our time and our energy will severely test our commitment to move forward for a common agenda for the benefit of all northerners. Our constituents, in placing us here, believe we will not fail that task. Their patience and understanding are also crucial elements which affect our ability to effectively deal with the pressures and often conflicting demands placed on Members of this Legislative Assembly, the trust that we will continue to enjoy the support of our constituents as we work to fulfil our expectations for the people and of ourselves in a spirit of mutual respect, openness and honesty.
As I speak of commitment and expectations, it brings to mind a code of conduct developed and adopted by the 12th Assembly to guide Members' actions and to remind all Members that they represent and speak for many people. As Members of the 13th Legislative Assembly, our actions and conduct, both within and outside this House, reflect upon ourselves, our colleagues and our constituents. The code of conduct places the responsibility for sound judgement on the shoulders of each Member individually. Personal conflict involves personal choice. As these choices are made, there must be a clear understanding of the consequence. Your commitment to conduct yourself appropriately will also serve as your commitment to upholding the code of conduct. Collectively you have the responsibility for ensuring that, with respect to the application of the code, all Members are treated equally and fairly.
You and I are fortunate to be here as the chosen representative of our constituents. It is an honour that is bestowed on very few people. As we have accepted the responsibility to work to make a better life for the people in our communities, we must decide, each in our own way, whether we will merely make decisions on their behalf or provide the kind of leadership that goes beyond words to give our people and our children hope for a better future.
As I address you here today, I realize that these are only words. The true commitment will be reflected and realized in our actions. As we begin our journey together, we must be mindful that the foundation upon which we build our successes is our commitment to work together for the common good of our people.
As I look around the Chamber, I know you will all represent your people fairly, honestly and to the best of your ability with integrity, sound personal judgement and a commitment to conduct yourself in a manner that justifies the trust placed in you all. Mahsi cho, qujannamiik.
Mr. Clerk, will you ascertain if Her Honour, the Commissioner, is prepared to enter the Chamber and address the Legislative Assembly?
Bill 34: Supplementary Appropriation Act, No. 1, 1995-96 June 22nd, 1995
Question has been called. All those in favour? All those opposed? Motion is carried.
Bill 34 has had third reading. Item 21, third reading of bills.
Speaker's Closing Remarks
Prior to Her Honour, the Commissioner, attending this House, I would like to make a few comments which, in all likelihood, will be the last during the 12th Legislative Assembly.
It was with great honour that I took the Speaker's chair over five months ago. I appreciate your consideration to me as I have endeavoured to serve as your Speaker. I can say that the view from the chair is a little different than from the previous chair in the Assembly and my cowboy boots felt quite at home under the desk.
I would like to offer my thanks to the people of the Northwest Territories and to those of you, my colleagues of the 12th Assembly, who have decided not to offer yourselves for re-election. In particular, my dear friend, Mr. Pudluk, who has served the people of his constituency for over 20 years. I wish Mr. Pudluk, his wife Dora and their family all the very best.
To all Members who will make the decision to seek re-election in October, I hope that the envelope you receive, like me, on October 16th, is not one with a layoff notice; only time will tell. I wish you all good luck.
I would like to acknowledge the support and love of my spouse and family who have suffered through the hardships of my continuous absence from home. Without their support, I am sure many of us would not have been able to continue to serve.
As Speaker and coach of the Legislative Assembly as a team, I would like to announce the first term awards for the first term Members. Rookie of the year goes to Mr. Dent.
Most sportsman-like person, Mr. Antoine.
The Commissioner's cup, Mr. Koe.
Most improved, Mr. Pudlat.
Best defence, Ms. Mike.
The best forward, Mr. Arngna'naaq.
And, the most valuable player, Mr. Todd.
I am still considering drafting Mrs. Thompson and Mr. Ng.
Let's hope the 13th Assembly team has a lot of oldtimers and old faces on it. However, we all know there are a lot of farm players out there waiting to be drafted into the major leagues.
I would also like to compliment and express the feeling of all Members of the House, our gratitude and appreciation for the endless commitment and support given by all Legislative Assembly staff under the direction of Mr. Clerk.
We are well served by those individuals, although I know we sometimes don't seem to show it and we take them for granted. I have found our staff are like an emergency service, they are always available, morning, noon and night. Our thanks.
We also appreciate the professional service provided by the interpreter/translators, the Hansard staff, all the Pages for the past four years, the various Sergeants-at-Arm and, lastly, the kitchen staff for their excellent food they have been providing.
I would also like to thank the technicians and the camera people who provide this service to our communities.
Members, as we leave here today, may the spirit of love and the well-being of our fellow human beings be in our minds and our hearts.
Mr. Clerk, it is my understanding that Her Honour, the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories is prepared to assent to bills. Mr. Clerk, would you ascertain if Her Honour, the Commissioner is prepared to enter the Chamber to assent to bills and prorogue this session?
Item 13: Tabling Of Documents April 7th, 1995
I would like to thank the Member for bringing the issue up. First of all, I would like to say that I thank the Members for the respect and confidence that they have in me by selecting me. I do review the unedited Hansard on a daily basis. I review the unedited Hansard, so as to make every effort to ensure that, as Speaker, I am upholding the rules and practices and being understanding of the actions of Members of this House.
In addition, I want to be sure that the chair is not, by any action or omission, bringing into question its impartiality or sound judgement. As Speaker, if I find that I have made an error in judgement or have provided the House with information that is not correct, I believe I am bound to advise the House and admit my mistakes so as to ensure that I am serving the Members to the best of my ability.
As Members will recall, yesterday during question period, the Member for Thebacha raised a question to the Minister of Finance concerning inclusion of Metis health benefits funding in the interim supply bill. The questions and supplementaries to Oral Question 428-12(7) are contained on pages 2050 to 2053. During the exchange, the chair advised the Member for Thebacha that her second supplementary question may have been hypothetical. I would like to quote my comments when I informed the Member, and I quote from page 2052 of unedited Hansard:
"Can I ask, Mrs. Marie-Jewell, if you could rephrase the question? I believe the question is hypothetical. Perhaps the question should be if the budget is approved. Can you rephrase your question?"
The point that has given me concern was the response by the Member for Thebacha to my statement on the admissibility of her second supplementary. I quote the Member's comments from page 2052 of unedited Hansard:
"I don't believe that is hypothetical. But, Mr. Speaker, I know I shouldn't question your ruling. I would like to ask the Minister of Finance whether or not he will consider giving Metis people reimbursement of funds for the expenses they incurred as of April 1st. Thank you."
I should note again that I asked the Member to rephrase her question, which she did, and was answered by the Minister.
I am sure the Member for Thebacha, as a former Speaker and occupant of this chair, understands that it is sometimes difficult for the Speaker to immediately comprehend procedural points and explain to an offending Member that they are out of order. As all Members are aware, the Speaker is protected against reflections on his or her actions, which is a question of privilege that is afforded the occupant of the chair. This is a long-standing practice, and I quote from Beauchesne's 6th edition, Citation 168; that:
"Reflections upon the character or actions of the Speaker may be punished as breaches of privilege. The actions of the Speaker cannot be criticized incidentally in debate or upon any form of proceeding except by way of a substantive motion."
I find that the Member for Thebacha's comments yesterday in question period were critical of my actions, and her qualification did not lessen the criticism. When I was elected as Speaker, I hoped that one of the reasons that Members voted for me was my demonstrated ability to be fair and understanding in all situations. In my term as Speaker, I was hoping and praying that there would not be reflections made on the actions I take while occupying the chair. I will not, however, spout my responsibility and it is unfortunate and not with any pleasure that I have to request the Member for Thebacha to withdraw her comments. Mrs. Marie-Jewell.
Item 1: Prayer March 28th, 1995
Thank you, Mr. Allooloo. The House will come to order. Good afternoon.
I would like to provide the House with my ruling on the point of order raised on March 27th by the Member for Thebacha, Mrs. Marie-Jewell.
The Member's point of order was that the Member for Iqaluit, in comments he made on March 10th, had used the word "irresponsibly" which Mrs. Marie-Jewell felt was unparliamentary and implied allegations against her. I would like to repeat the exact words that were used by Mr. Patterson as they are contained on page 1371 of unedited Hansard, and I quote:
"But, Mr. Speaker, in my view, if Members are allowed to act irresponsibly and table unsigned documents which may be furnished to Members for malicious or political purposes, then this is, in fact, an abuse of the privileges we enjoy as Members. And, it will diminish the reputation of this Assembly."
I note with a bit of disappointment that Mrs. Marie-Jewell, in making comments on the point of order, indicated, and I quote, "Not only should I request an apology from Mr. Patterson, which I won't..." I would have hoped that all Members would have sufficient respect for each other and that Mrs. Marie-Jewell would have given the Member the benefit of the doubt and at least offered him the opportunity to apologize if he felt he had used unparliamentary language. However, that was not to be the case, therefore, I am required to rule on the point of order.
I note that Beauchesne's 6th edition provides in citation 489, and I quote:
"Since 1958, it has been ruled unparliamentary to use the following expressions:
- Irresponsible Members, Debates, May 8, 1969, page 8476; and,
- Irresponsible reply, Debates, December 5, 1962, page 2346."
In reviewing the point of order, I referred back to the actual House of Commons debates of 1962 and 1969, in which the two incidents I mentioned were ruled upon. I note that in the 1962 debates, the words "irresponsible reply" were used to describe a response made by then Prime Minister, Mr. Diefenbaker, and in the 1969 case the words "irresponsible Members" were used to describe the actions of Members generally and one Member in particular. I would like to quote from Beauchesne's citation 486(1):
"It is impossible to lay down any specific rules in regard to injurious reflections uttered in debate against particular Members, or to declare beforehand what expressions are or are not contrary to order; much depends upon the tone and manner, and intention, of the person speaking; sometimes upon the person to whom the words are addressed, as, whether that person is a public officer, or a private Member not in office, or whether the words are meant to be applied to public conduct or to private character; and sometimes upon the degree of provocation, which the Member speaking had received from the person alluded to; and all these considerations must be attended to at the moment, as they are infinitely various and cannot possibly be foreseen in such a manner that precise rules can be adopted with respect to them."
Under the same citation, subparagraph (3) is also appropriate to bring to the Member's attention:
"3"There are few words that have been judged to be unparliamentary consistently, and any list of unparliamentary words is only a compilation of words that at some time have been found to cause disorder in the House."
I have considered the context in which the apparently offensive words were used and considered the comments of Mr. Patterson in speaking to the point of order. As with any point of order and in particular when unparliamentary language is the issue, you have to consider the tone and manner and the intention of the person speaking. I note that Mr. Patterson did preface his reference to Members with the word "if". I considered Mr. Patterson's submission of yesterday's date to be sufficient to explain that his intention was not to refer to any specific action undertaken by a specific Member. The context within which his comments were made dealt with a point of order that focused on the rules and practices of permitting unsigned letters to be tabled in the House. In keeping with the precedent outlined in Beauchesne's, I have considered the tone, manner and intention of the Member for Iqaluit when making his comments.
When there is no clear breach or order, I feel it is important to accept the word of a Member. Therefore, I rule that the words uttered are not unparliamentary and that the Member for Thebacha does not have a point of order.
Orders of the day. Item 2, Ministers' statement. Mr. Ng.
Item 1: Prayer March 27th, 1995
Thank you, Mr. Nerysoo. Good afternoon and I hope you had a good break.
Today, I would like to make a ruling on a point of order raised by the Member for Mackenzie Delta, Mr. Nerysoo, on March 10, 1995, concerning the tabling of unsigned letters and the use of individuals' names in the House and in documents.
I would like to provide the House with some background on the point of order raised. The point of order raised two points for consideration: one being our practice for the tabling of documents; and, the other being the use of individuals' names in the House, whether it be by direct reference or through reference in other procedures such as the tabling of documents.
The Members will recall that when the point of order was raised, I permitted those Members who wished to provide comments on the point to do so. I would like to thank those Members who spoke and, as I indicated, I thanked the Member for Mackenzie Delta, Mr. Nerysoo, for raising the point of order as the issue of tabling of unsigned documents had come up on March 7, 1995. At that time, I had concerns about it, but it is not the chair's responsibility to raise points of order unless they are an obvious infraction of the rules or of parliamentary precedent.
I carefully considered many authorities while preparing this ruling and found that what has developed as practice in our Legislature does not occur in many other jurisdictions. This is not to say that our practices are improper but, as with most procedures and practices, they have to be tested and reviewed in light of changing circumstances and when they arise. I feel it is important to start at the beginning and go through the whole aspect of a ruling on a point of order. A point of order, as outlined in Beauchesne's 6th edition, citation 317, states:
"(1) Points of order are questions raised with the view of calling attention to any departure from the Standing Orders or the customary modes of proceeding in debate or in the conduct of legislative business and may be raised at virtually any time by any Member, whether that Member has previously spoken or not.
"(2) A question of order concerns the interpretation to be put upon the rules of procedure and is a matter for the Speaker or, in a committee, for the Chairman to determine."
It could be argued that the point of order raised by the Member for Mackenzie Delta, Mr. Nerysoo, should have been made earlier when the event occurred, and again I quote from Citation 321: "A point of order against procedure must be raised promptly and before the question has passed to a stage at which the objection would be out of place."
I considered this but was guided by Citation 319 which states:
"Any Member is entitled, even bound, to bring to the Speaker's immediate notice any instance of a breach of order. The Member may interrupt and lay the point in question concisely before the Speaker. This should be done as soon as an irregularity is perceived in the proceedings which are engaging the attention of the House. The Speaker's attention must be directed to a breach of order at the proper moment, namely the moment it occurred."
I would suggest that the Member for Mackenzie Delta, Mr. Nerysoo, raised the point of order as soon as practicable after he had an opportunity to review in detail the tabled document in question, that being Tabled Document 56-12(7), tabled by the Member for Thebacha, Mrs. Marie-Jewell, on March 8, 1995. This issue raised by the Member is not an easy one and I suspect required the Member to carefully review the facts and rules prior to drawing the attention of the House to this issue. As indicated, I asked for Members' opinions on the matter which, again, was permissible and confirmed by Beauchesne's Citation 325:
"In all matters of doubt, the Speaker will consider attentively the opinions of Members. Sometimes, instead of expressing an opinion on either side, the Speaker may ask instructions from the House or reserve his decision on the point of discussion, or suggest that the House may, if it thinks proper, dispense with the Standing Order in a particular case. In doubtful cases, the Speaker will be guided largely by circumstances."
I would like to advise the House that the point of order raised by the Member for Mackenzie Delta became quite far-reaching and I was required to address a number of procedural points. I would now like to address the first issue, that of the tabling of documents, and then I will specifically address the issue of the unsigned letter that was tabled as Tabled Document 56-12(7).
The item "tabling of documents" appears on the order paper daily and, until 1991, there was not even a rule that addressed this item. We now have a rule that only addresses the permissive nature of allowing a document to be tabled. Rule 43 states, and I quote:
"Under the item, "Tabled Documents," a Member may provide to the House any document which is required to be tabled in the House by any Act or order of the Assembly, or which may be in the public interest. A Member may make a brief factual statement to identify the document."
In the majority of other Canadian jurisdictions, documents are only permitted to be tabled by a Minister. Beauchesne's Citation 431 states: "Standing Order 32 provides a way for Ministers to table documents in the House. It does not impose an obligation on the Minister to do so."
The tabling of documents in other jurisdictions is restricted to documents that fall into the following categories and is outlined in Beauchesne's Citation 435:
"(1) Papers are laid before the House in pursuance of:
(a) provisions of an Act of Parliament.
(b) an Order of the House.
(c) an Address to the Crown.
(d) Standing Orders of the House."
I note that the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba does permit Members, other than Ministers, to table documents, but with some restrictions. The Senate of Canada, as recently as 1991, amended their Standing Orders to make reference to the tabling of documents as, like us, they did not have a specific rule regarding the tabling of documents. The Senate rule allows documents to be tabled but they must be presented by the leader of the government in the Senate. They do, however, permit a Senator to table a document as provided for in Rule 29(3) and I quote: "with unanimous consent, any Senator may table a paper relating to the business before the Senate."
It should be noted that the Member for Thebacha, Mrs. Marie-Jewell, did raise concerns regarding certain letters that were tabled by the government on March 2, 1995 as Tabled Document 40-12(7). The Member also noted that the letters were unsigned and that we have no specific rules concerning the tabling of unsigned letters.
Beauchesne's 6th edition again provides us with some guidance in this matter as it relates to the productions of papers:
Citation 444: "There is a general rule that papers should be ordered only on subjects which are of a public or official character."
Citation 445: "The House shall decide after debate, if desired, whether it will order a document to be laid upon the Table."
Citation 446: "In 1973, the government tabled in the House of Commons its view on the general principles governing Notices of Motions for Production of Papers:
1) To enable Members of Parliament to secure factual information about the operations of Government to carry out their parliamentary duties and to make public as much factual information as possible, consistent with effective administration, the protection of the security of the state, rights to privacy and other such matters, government papers, documents and consultant reports should be produced on Notice of Motion for the Production of Papers unless falling within the categories outlined below, in which case an exemption is to be claimed from production."
In addition to the aforementioned citation, there is listed in Beauchesne's Citation 446(2), the criteria that should be applied in determining if government papers or documents should be exempt from production. There are five specific exemptions that I took into consideration in reviewing this matter.
Citation 446(2) subsections:
"(f) Papers reflecting on the personal competence or character of an individual.
(j) Papers relating to negotiations leading up to a contract until the contract has been executed or the negotiations have been concluded.
(l) Cabinet documents and those documents which include a Privy Council confidence.
(n) Papers that are private or confidential and not of a public or official character.
(o) Internal departmental memoranda."
In undertaking the review of authorities, there are a number of procedures that may be appropriate for consideration by the House as to what should or what should not be permitted to be tabled in this House. For example, there are limitations in the House of Commons when it comes to the correspondence of Ministers of a personal nature, or dealing with constituency or general political matters. This limitation is contained in Beauchesne's Citation 446(3), and I quote:
"Ministers' correspondence of a personal nature, or dealing with constituency or general political matters, should not be identified with government papers and therefore should not be subject to production in the House."
If we were to apply the restrictions provided for in the House of Commons, it would require us to cease the practice of allowing any Member to table a document, and I quote from Citation 495(6):
"A private Member has neither the right nor the obligation to table an official, or any other, document."
Do you understand it so far, Members?
This is used as an illustration that there are restrictions in place in other jurisdictions. There is also specific guidelines regarding consultant studies and whether documents which are requested of the government to be tabled, either by oral or written questions and are, in the opinion of the government, confidential, do not have to be tabled. It should be noted that up until now there has not been the need to apply similar restrictions to the tabling of documents in our House, as is the case in other Canadian jurisdictions. However, the time has come to address some of these issues and the point of order raised by Mr. Nerysoo affords us the opportunity to address them. As Members are aware, there have been a number of items that have been tabled in this House over the years that, of course, would not strictly be considered a document and I refer to such items as fish heads, a piece of sewer pipe and photographs. Like all Members, I would hope that our rules and procedures are flexible enough to permit all Members to fulfil their duties to their constituents and the general public without being unduly impeded. There are times, though, when rules or procedures have to be in place to protect not only the elected officials but to safeguard the basic rights of all individuals, despite their status.
On the question of what documents should or should not be allowed to be tabled, I would like to refer this matter to the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and Privileges with the instruction to develop procedures and guidelines and recommend rule changes if they feel necessary. The standing committee should consider all aspects of the tabling of documents as to the types that would be permissible with the guiding principle that the privilege of tabling documents is to afford Ministers the opportunity to present documents that provide factual information about the operations of government. Any procedures recommended should also recognize the ability of all Members to table documents also to provide factual information to the House in the interests of the public good. I would further request that this matter be considered in a timely fashion by the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and Privileges so that a report is presented to the House as soon as is practicable.
The other question that has arisen is the tabling of letters that are unsigned. There are two incidents that have occurred that have given rise to the concern. The first was raised by the Member for Thebacha, Mrs. Marie-Jewell, on March 7th concerning unsigned letters tabled by the government. The comments on that point are contained on pages 1228 and 1229 of unedited Hansard. The second was raised again by the Member for Thebacha, Mrs. Marie-Jewell, on March 8th with the tabling of an unsigned letter. The Member, while tabling this unsigned letter, indicated in her tabling statement, and I quote from page 1280 of unedited Hansard:
"Mr. Speaker, since we have no rules on unsigned documents in this House, I'd like to table Tabled Document 56-12(7): it's correspondence that I received as a Member, from a Tu Nedhe constituent regarding improper use of government vehicles and warehouse facilities in the community of Fort Resolution."
The Member for Thebacha, Mrs. Marie-Jewell, went on further to explain in her tabling statement, and I quote again from page 1280 of unedited Hansard:
"Mr. Speaker, this correspondence was received in January and it's not my responsibility to address Tu Nedhe concerns as the elected Member for Thebacha. Therefore, I'd like to table this document so the appropriate individual can address it. At this time, I would also like to table the envelope that this letter was sent in. Thank you."
The point of order raised by the Member for Mackenzie Delta, Mr. Nerysoo, is threefold; the first point being the practice of allowing unsigned letters to be tabled. The second point is the use of individuals' names and, in this case, in an unsigned letter, and also the general reference to individuals in the House. The third concern expressed was that the unsigned letter tabled by the Member for Thebacha contained certain allegations against a civil servant. I have reviewed many authorities on this issue and there are no direct references to whether it is or is not permissible to table unsigned letters in an Assembly or the House of Commons. It was necessary to refer to other rules that require documents to be tabled. I refer to the practice of presentations of petitions. The rules currently require the following, and I quote from our Rules 42(1), (2) and (5):
"42(1) A petition to the Assembly may be presented by a Member at any time during a sitting of the Assembly by filing it with the Clerk, or in the manner set out in Rule 42(2).
42(2) A Member may present a petition from his or her place in the House under the item "Petitions." The Member shall endorse his or her name on the petition and shall confine the presentation to a statement of the petition, the number of signatures and the material allegations. A Member shall not exceed five minutes in presenting a petition.
42(5) A Member presenting a petition shall be answerable for any impertinent or improper matter that it contains."
I think a link can be made to the requirement for petitions to be signed as well as having to be endorsed by the Member presenting the petition. Further direction in this regard can be found in Beauchesne's Citation 1020: "All petitions must be endorsed on the back of the first page by a Member and be dated." Also Citation 1024 states: "A petition must have original signatures or marks, and the addresses of the petitioners. The signatures must be written on the petition itself and not pasted upon or otherwise transferred to it."
It should be noted that there are alternative methods for presenting petitions. They may be filed by a Member with the Clerk who will report it in accordance with Rule 42(3). Citation 1038 of Beauchesne's 6th edition also provides for the following:
"(1) A Member cannot be compelled to present a petition;"
"(2) The presentation of a petition does not necessarily commit a Member to the views expressed in it."
I use these references to illustrate the obligations on Members as they relate to the presentation of a document, in this case a petition. I am of the opinion that the basic right of the residents of the Northwest Territories to petition their Legislative Assembly is an important process that has to be protected. The Chair feels that the fact that there are rules and procedures that have to be observed indicates the importance placed on protecting the integrity of the petition being presented and that of the Member. These rules are explicit. The text of a petition cannot state implications or allegations and I quote from Beauchesne's Citation 1029 (1), (2) and (3):
"(1) The language of a petition should be respectful, temperate and free from disrespect to the Sovereign or offensive imputation upon the character and conduct of Parliament, the Courts of Justice, or any other tribunal or constituted authority.
"(2) A petition should seek the redress of grievances and should refrain from expressing an opinion with regard to the House, the Government or the positions taken by Members of the House. Expressions which would be in order from a Member of the House may not be in order when presented as a petition.
(3) A petition should not contain statements which constitute charges of a very strong character against a Minister or senior officials."
The tabling of the unsigned letter by the Member for Thebacha, Mrs. Marie-Jewell, gave rise to the point of order, but I noted that the same concern was expressed concerning unsigned letters that were contained in Tabled Document 40-12(7) which was tabled, at the request of a Member, by the government on March 2, 1995. It should be noted that the Government House Leader, the Honourable John Pollard, indicated on Friday, March 10th, and I quote from page 1416 of unedited Hansard:
"Mr. Speaker, I had made a commitment to table a document today which was an update of the Fort Smith aircraft facility, history of GNWT decisions and communication with Fort Smith, revised.
"Mr. Speaker, in light of the point of order by Mr. Nerysoo today and in light of the fact that you're going to give us a ruling and because there are still some documents that are unsigned in this particular document I was going to put before the House, I will not do it today but await your ruling. Thank you, Mr. Speaker."
One of the most relevant citations that I considered while examining this aspect of my ruling was Citation 498 (1) and (3):
"(1) An unsigned letter should not be read in the House.
"(3) When quoting from a letter in the House, a Member must be willing either to give the name of the author or to take full responsibility for the contents."
Although in the case before us, the unsigned letter was not read in the House, it was tabled and therefore did become part of the public record.
I would also suggest that similar points are made in the Fourth edition of Bourinot's Parliamentary Practice and Procedure in the Dominion of Canada, and I quote from page 336:
"It is not allowable to read any petition referring to debates in the House, and where the language of the document is such as would be unparliamentary, if spoken in debate, it cannot be read. No language can be orderly in a quotation which would be disorderly if spoken."
In my review I was also guided by two rulings of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba on the same point regarding the tabling of unsigned letters. In Mr. Speaker Rocan's ruling of November 14, 1988, he ruled as follows:
"On November 4th, the Honourable Member for St. Johns tabled in this House a document respecting the Free Trade Agreement. Following precedent, I took the admissibility of the document under advisement because it was unsigned, not directed to any specific individual or organization and its origin was in no way identified. Neither the rules of this House, nor the practices of the House of Commons specifically address the question of admissibility of tabled documents as it applies in this case. Reviewing previous Manitoba Speakers' rulings, I noted that Speaker Hanuschak, in a 1970 ruling, stated that "all letters, when read, must be signed and they become part of the documents of the House." In the same ruling, he indicated that it would not be correct to allow the tabling of such a letter (ie. an unsigned letter.) In 1981, Speaker Graham ruled that "an unsigned and unidentified document is an incomplete document and cannot be considered to be properly before the House. Based on these precedents, I must rule that the document, in its present form, is inadmissible and cannot properly become a document of this House."
After reviewing Parliamentary precedent and rulings from other jurisdictions, I have become clearly aware of the requirements and limitations as to the content for petitions and tabled documents including the concern as to the verification of authenticity of letters and any facts contained therein. It is my ruling that it is not an acceptable practice to table unsigned letters in this House, so therefore all letters tabled, whether it be by the government or by ordinary Members, will have to be forthwith directed from a specific individual or organization, dated and signed.
The other issue that has arisen pertains to the content of letters or documents and in particular the identification of individuals in letters or documents and any allegations that may be part of a letter or document. To provide guidance on this particular issue, I once again could not find any direct ruling or procedure that dealt with naming individuals in tabled documents, or to tabled documents that contain allegations or potential defamation of an individual. As with the requirement for petitions, I had to look at other procedural practices and points that could assist the Chair in providing a ruling on this point. In considering this, I was guided once again by citations from Beauchesne's 6th edition. The two areas of procedure I felt appropriate are covered by the use of oral and written questions. I would like to offer the following citation -- Citation 409(7) -- which refers to oral questions, and I quote:
"In 1975, the Speaker expressed some general principles in order to clarify the regulations and restrict the negative qualifications which traditionally have guided the Question Period:
(7) A question must adhere to the proprieties of the House, in terms of inferences, imputing motives or casting aspersions upon persons within the House or out of it."
A number of points outlined in Citation 428 which refers to written questions may provide further guidance, and I quote:
"A question must not:
(h) contain inferences.
(i) contain imputations.
(n) reflect on or relate to character or conduct of persons other than in a public capacity.
(q) contain or imply charges of a personal character."
As Members are aware, our own rules also give us guidance in dealing with what is considered appropriate in debate. In reviewing the matter further, I considered the issue of whether the general rules of debate that apply to Members in the House should apply to references to those individuals who have traditionally been referred to as protected persons. Beauchesne's offers us some assistance in this regard and I quote to give examples of protected persons. I quote first from Citation 493(1):
"All references to judges and courts of justice of the nature of personal attack and censure have always been considered unparliamentary, and the Speaker has always treated them as breaches of order."
Citation 493(3) goes further by stating:
"The Speaker has traditionally protected from attack a group of individuals commonly referred to as "those of high official station". The extent of this group has never been defined. Over the years it has covered senior public servants, ranking officers of the armed services, diplomatic representatives in Canada, a Minister who was not a Member of either House, and the Prime Minister before he won a seat in the House."
Included in the section on protected persons and under the same citation, it provides the following under subsection (4):
"The Speaker has cautioned Members to exercise great care in making statements about persons who are outside the House and unable to reply."
I further considered citations dealing with the requirement that if a document is read or quoted from by a Minister then it may have to be tabled, and I quote from Beauchesne's Citation 495(1):
"A Minister is not at liberty to read or quote from a despatch or other state paper not before the House without being prepared to lay it on the Table."
There is, however, a limitation on this and I quote from Citation 495(2):
"It has been admitted that a document which has been cited ought to be laid upon the Table of the House, if it can be done without injury to the public interest. The same rule, however, cannot be held to apply to private letters or memoranda."
There is also a long-standing practice that procedures cannot be circumvented in one case by actions that would accomplish something that you cannot do by other means. Once again, I must rely on the procedures for petitions to assist me with this. I also took some time to consider parliamentary privilege as it may or may not apply to the point of order and would like to offer the following from "Parliamentary Privilege in Canada" by Joseph Maingot, Q.C. who states: "that while standing order sets out that: "Members presenting petitions shall be answerable that they do not contain impertinent or improper matter," a petitioner nevertheless could, in a proper case, be held in contempt for delivering to a Member, whether or not it is presented in the House, a petition containing abusive matter notwithstanding that the petitioner would be immune from civil action."
This extract from "Parliamentary Privilege in Canada" of course deals with petitions but in his book, Mr. Maingot goes on to address contempt respecting documents and I would like to provide his comments in that regard which I feel are of assistance:
"Similarly, should any person present documents to a committee of the House of Commons which have been forged, falsified, or fabricated with intent to deceive such committee or the House, or, to be privy to such forging or fraud, this will constitute contempt of Parliament because it is an obvious affront to the House of Commons to present it with such documents. The House of Commons is not only entitled to but demands the utmost respect when material is placed before it for its scrutiny, investigation, or study."
I am of the opinion that a direct relationship can be drawn with our procedures as they pertain to a Member's privilege when a complaint is founded on written words. The most common example of a complaint founded on written or spoken words is based on a newspaper article, editorial or broadcast. When an obviously flagrant case is found to be prima facie by the Speaker, a motion can be introduced to resolve that the article or broadcast was libellous and that its publication is a contempt of the House. This procedure is an indication of the extent to which a Member, or the House collectively, can address allegations or correct wrong information.
As Members are well aware, the privilege of being protected from prosecution for what is said in this House is a fundamental and long-standing right that has been tested and consistently upheld in many court cases. However, as the previous citations and precedents demonstrate, it has also been a long-standing convention that the rights of individuals outside of the Legislature are also protected. The privileges that we have, as Members and as a Legislature, also carry with them great responsibility to ensure that those outside the House are protected. The way in which Members conduct themselves individually and collectively reflects on the institution of the Legislative Assembly.
The chair appreciates the comments of Members who spoke to the point of order which assisted me in preparing this ruling. The respect in which Members hold this institution is clearly evident. In order to uphold and enhance this respect, I will not permit comments, whether written or spoken, in this Legislature that have the tendency to question the personal integrity of others outside the House, or impute motives to those unable to respond or which have the impact of adversely reflecting on the character of those persons outside of this Legislature. The general principle will be that documents will be governed by the same rules that govern debate.
I apologize to the House for such a lengthy ruling but I felt it was important to address as many of the issues as possible, that arose as a result of the point of order by the Member for Mackenzie Delta. Mr. Nerysoo's point of order was quite far-reaching, and I wish to be satisfied that I did not infringe on the rights of any Members or of the House itself. Thank you.
I would also like to advise the House that I have received the following communication from the Commissioner: "Dear Mr. Speaker: I wish to advise that I recommend to the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories, the passage of Bill 29, Interim Appropriation Act, April 1 - June 30, 1995, during the Seventh Session of the 12th Legislative Assembly. Yours truly, Helen Maksagak, Commissioner."
Mrs. Marie-Jewell, your point of order.
Point Of Order
Achievements Of Ronnie Hauck March 3rd, 1995
Thank you. I would like to provide my ruling on the point of order raised by Mr. Lewis on March 2nd which is contained on page 988 of unedited Hansard. The point of order raised by the honourable Member for Yellowknife Centre, Mr. Lewis, was in regard to comments made by the Member for Thebacha, Mrs. Marie-Jewell, surrounding the use of unparliamentary language by Mr. Lewis.
The point of order raised by Mr. Lewis was that Mrs. Marie-Jewell, in her comments as contained on page 987 indicated, and I quote: "Mr. Speaker, I did not appreciate those comments then and I still don't appreciate them. In fact, those comments are unparliamentary." In her comments earlier, Mrs. Marie-Jewell quoted from remarks that Mr. Lewis had made during his Member's statement given on February 20th, which is contained on pages 433 and 434 of unedited Hansard. The Member for Thebacha also added her own interpretation of Mr. Lewis' comments, and I quote again from page 987 of unedited Hansard: "He even said that the people of Yellowknife feel that Members who support the idea of a spring election are guilty of sleazy tactics."
In reviewing the comments made by Mr. Lewis in his Member's statement surrounding the use of the word "sleazy," I think it is important to actually read the whole statement to understand the context in which the word "sleazy" was used. I would like to quote what was said by Mr. Lewis, contained on page 434 of unedited Hansard, and I quote: "Any move to have a spring election very soon would be seen as opportunism and an attempt by MLAs to catch the opposition with their pants down and would be seen by many of the people of Yellowknife as completely sleazy tactics."
I have considered the matter. The use of a word or words that are intended to convey a direct imputation on another Member or on the House, itself, is of course out of order and unparliamentary. In considering the matter, the chair considered the words of the Member that lead up to the use of the word that appeared to offend Mrs. Marie-Jewell. I find that in this situation the Member for Yellowknife Centre did not make a direct imputation with the use of the word "sleazy," therefore, Mr. Lewis does have a point of order. Mrs. Marie-Jewell.
Item 1: Prayer February 20th, 1995
Before proceeding to orders of the day, I would like to advise the House that I have received the following communication:
"Dear Mr. Speaker: I would like to inform you and through you, the Legislative Assembly, that I have decided to resign my seat as a Member of the Legislative Assembly for the electoral district of Aivilik effective immediately.
In making this decision, I considered it in the best interests of my constituents, who I thank from the bottom of my heart for giving me the opportunity of endeavouring to represent them. I also made this decision for the well-being of myself and my family, and I trust and pray that I will now be able to return to being a good husband and member of my community.
It has been an honour and a privilege to serve as a Member of the Legislative Assembly. Respectfully, James Arvaluk, MLA, Aivilik"
In accordance with section 8(2), I have forwarded the resignation statement and affidavit to Her Honour, the Commissioner.
I would like to provide my ruling on the point of privilege raised by the honourable Member for Thebacha, Mrs. Marie-Jewell, on Wednesday, February 15, 1995.
In reviewing the unedited Hansard, the Member for Thebacha raised two points that she felt were of sufficient importance as to be impeding her ability to serve her constituents. The two points raised by the Member are contained on pages 220, 221 and 222 of unedited Hansard. The first point raised, and I quote from page 221 of unedited Hansard:
"First, I feel, as an elected Member, the filing of a lawsuit against me results in my inability to discuss this matter, to express it in plain language. The bottom line is the effect may be to keep me quiet as a result of this sub judice convention."
The Member for Thebacha's second point is contained on page 222, and I quote:
"My point of privilege as an elected Member, I feel, is my fundamental freedom of speech to speak out on behalf of the interests of my constituents has been impeded upon as a result of the lawsuit filed by Mr. Morin. The possible effect of this lawsuit is that I could be constrained from speaking vigorously, as I have in the past, on behalf of my constituents of Thebacha on other issues lest I again be faced with another lawsuit."
The points and questions the honourable Member put to the chair would require me to rule on a hypothetical situation which, by tradition, the Speaker does not do. Also, if at this time I made comments on the question of the Public Commission of Inquiry or on any court proceedings, I would be, as indicated earlier, addressing a situation that is hypothetical as no proceedings have occurred in this chamber that could potentially infringe on any Members' rights.
I have carefully considered the two points of privilege and find that the Member for Thebacha, Mrs. Marie-Jewell, does not have a prima facie question of privilege as there has, as yet, been no limitation on her right to speak in the Legislative Assembly.
I would like to point out that the chair's responsibility is to maintain order and decorum in the chamber and to protect all Members' privileges including freedom of speech and enforcing rules and practices of the sub judice convention. I would also like to caution Members that freedom of speech does have limits, and I quote from Beauchesne's 6th edition, section 77:
"Freedom of speech does not mean that Members have an unlimited or unrestrained right to speak on every issue. The rules of the House impose limits on the participation of Members and it is the duty of the Speaker to restrain those who abuse the rules."
As I have indicated, there have been no proceedings within this chamber that would give rise to a point of privilege. Mahsi cho.
Item 2, budget address. Mr. Pollard.
Committee Motion 21-12(7): Defer Clause 3 Of Bill 15 February 17th, 1995
I will call the House to order. I have had an opportunity to review the unedited Hansard surrounding consideration of Bill 15, An Act to Amend the Elections Act, which had lead to the point of order by Mrs. Marie-Jewell and the challenge to the chairman's ruling by Mr. Nerysoo.
In reviewing the Hansard, it is evident that there was some confusion in the committee as to what Members wished to do with the clause-by-clause review. I noted that, in fact, the Hansard does indicate that the committee had agreed to Clause 3 of the bill and the chairman had called clause 4. It was at that point that Mr. Patterson was recognized by the chairman to bring forward his request as to the appropriateness of introducing a motion to defer clauses 6, 41 and 3. At that point, the chair ruled that the Member could not introduce a motion that would defer a number of clauses. That ruling was correct. At that point, Mr. Patterson moved that clause 3 be deferred. The point of order is that the committee of the whole had already agreed to clause 3, so the Member could not now move that motion.
When I reviewed Hansard, it is clear that the House agreed to clause 3 and the appropriate citation on this is, and I quote from Beauchesne's, 6th edition, citation 691(1):
"The clauses of a bill in committee must be considered in their proper order; that is, beginning with clause 1 then taking up clause 2 and so on, to the end of the bill. The chairman usually calls out the number of each clause and reads the marginal note, and may read the clause at length if it is demanded by the committee. Each clause is a distinct question and must be separately discussed. When a clause has been agreed to, it is irregular to discuss it again on the consideration of another clause."
However, it has been the practice of this Assembly to allow Members to go back to clauses that may have been already agreed to, at the discretion of the chairman. I recall that, with the speed that sometimes the committee goes through clauses, the chair has permitted Members to go back a couple of clauses. We also have the practice of allowing Members to request to go back to clauses that may be as far back as nine or 10 clauses. But, normally, the permission of the committee is required. I feel that the role of the chairman is similar to that of the Speaker and that is to ensure that when debating a matter, all Members have an opportunity to express their views. The chair should not be caught up in the issue so that one side of the issue can dominate or filibuster to the detriment of other Members' freedom of speech.
My observations of the debate were that the chair had fulfilled this role by allowing Mr. Patterson to go back to clause 3. On the strict interpretation of section 691(1) of Beauchesne's, I would have to uphold Mr. Nerysoo's challenge. However, I feel the practice of this House, as I have outlined, should be followed as long as no one Member has an advantage over another in debate. Therefore, the chair has some discretion to return to past clauses in this situation. Based on Hansard and the confusing circumstances that existed, this discretion was appropriately exercised. Therefore, I uphold the chair's ruling.
The committee will resume. Mr. Lewis.
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