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In the Legislative Assembly


Historical Information Tony Whitford is no longer a member of the Legislative Assembly.

Last in the Legislative Assembly November 2003, as MLA for Kam Lake

Won his last election, in 1999, with 80% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Bill 34: Tlicho Land Claims And Self-government Agreement Act October 10th, 2003

Thank you. All those opposed, please stand. Thank you. All those abstaining, please stand. Thank you. Mr. Clerk, may we have the results of the vote? Those in favour, 17; opposed, zero; abstaining, zero. The motion is carried unanimously.



Bill 34 has had third reading. Colleagues, before we rise from this last sitting of the 14th Assembly, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to you for allowing me to serve as your Speaker for these last four years. It has been both an honour and the best experience of my career. As well, I especially want to thank my family, my mother, Amelia, my dear wife, Elaine, and the children, Warren, Blaire, Ian and my many friends and supporters whose love and confidence in me never diminished and made my work here possible and enjoyable. I have already announced that I will not be seeking re-election this November and, therefore, I wish to thank the constituents of Yellowknife South and Kam Lake ridings. I wish to thank the people of Yellowknife and the many people across the North for the privilege of serving in this Assembly as their representative.

These past 11 years for me have seen great changes and much good has come from our collective efforts. A lot has been done and I hope I have made a contribution to our North and our people in some way. There's still more to do and with our departure today, our challenge will be respectfully passed on to the next Assembly to those of you seeking election. I wish you good luck and best wishes.

I have also been asked to include at this time, on behalf of the many former Members who served in this House, a thank you to Mr. David Hamilton, our retiring Clerk for his 21 years of dedicated service to all the Members of this House. Without his skill, knowledge and commitment to our system of government and all Members and to me and my office, our job would have been more difficult. Thank you, David.

I wish to express my personal thanks and appreciation to all of the House officers, the Deputy Clerk, Mr. Schauerte; Clerks of Committees, Mr. Inch and Mr. Stewart; our Law Clerk, Ms. Peterson; and, Sergeant-at-Arms, Ms. Theede. I also wish to say thank you to my Board of Management whose excellent work on behalf of this Assembly and the elected Members is commendable and to the many young people who have served us as Pages over the years and made our Assembly a smooth, safe and efficient operation. I wish to personally acknowledge the contribution made and assistance given to me as the Speaker of the 14th Assembly by the Languages Commissioner, Ms. Fibbie Tatti; the Information and Privacy Commissioner, Mrs. Elaine Keenan-Bengts; and to the Conflict of Interest Commissioners, Mr. Ted Hughes and Ms. Carol Roberts.

Finally, a special thank you to my dedicated executive assistants over the past four years: Mrs. Barb Paquin, Sonia Golding and Sue Tkachuk. Their efficiency and organization has made my job this past term so professional, easy and the highlight of my career.

Thank you to all. Thank you. Merci.

Now, Mr. Clerk, I understand that his honour, the Deputy Commissioner of the Northwest Territories is prepared to enter the Chamber to give assent to bills and to prorogue this session of the Legislative Assembly. Mr. Clerk, would you attend to and escort the Deputy Commissioner of the Northwest Territories into the Chamber.

Minister's Statement 80-14(6): Premier's Sessional Statement September 30th, 2003

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to address you, my colleagues in this Assembly and the people of the Northwest Territories today. It is time to reflect on the term of this government, on the challenges we faced, the opportunities that we created, and the successes we have to date.

We have taken some risks. We have made strategic investments. We certainly have moved the Northwest Territories' agenda forward. We have assumed responsibility beyond our jurisdiction. But most importantly for me, we have achieved incredible success by working together.

This is not work, Mr. Speaker, that we could have done alone. It is time to take a few moments to take stock and pay tribute to our partners who have worked with us and helped achieve our collective goals.

The evolution of the Northwest Territories as a society is directly linked to the strength we get from unity and common purpose.

Today, the Northwest Territories is, without question, the most exciting jurisdiction in Canada. It has captured the attention of the national media. It is discussed in the boardrooms of major national and international corporations, and it has the economy that is envied by other jurisdictions.

This remarkable success did not happen overnight. Our history and the achievements of our elders, like Alexi Arrowmaker, Paul Baton and the late Agnes Semmler, demonstrate that when we are united by common goals we get things done.

Think back to the long struggles to recognize aboriginal land and self-government rights; to create two new territories; to be recognized at the national level; and to raise awareness of our fragile northern environment.

We succeeded on these issues when and because we were united. We are a better territory for our collective efforts.

During the past four years, unity and common purpose have expressed themselves in many ways. They represent the defining moments of our term.

Early in 2000, as newly-elected Members of this legislature, the first Assembly of the new Northwest Territories and the first Assembly of the new century, we gathered in Fort Providence. There, together, we produced a vision for our Assembly and our government, an agenda based on common purpose and collaboration.

At the same time as we were setting out our vision, aboriginal leaders met in Fort Liard and agreed they would have ownership in a Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline. Strong common purpose, the willingness of all partners to take a risk and the leadership of many individuals like Harry Deneron, Nellie Cournoyea and Fred Carmichael have made aboriginal equity participation a reality of northern development. As a government, we have worked with and supported aboriginal leaders in achieving this goal.

In May 2000, aboriginal, territorial and federal government leaders met as an Intergovernmental Forum, a place where territorial-wide issues could be discussed among equal partners and resolved.

As a result of the forum's work and much goodwill, aboriginal, federal and territorial governments renewed devolution negotiations based upon sharing of jurisdiction and revenue.

Under Minister Antoine's leadership, we have worked together with the Aboriginal Summit leadership to ensure that our constituents have a clear understanding of what devolution and resource revenue sharing means and how it can meet our overall objectives.

I commend the aboriginal governments and their leaders for having the courage to work with us to develop joint northern positions on such critical issues as sharing power and resources.

In this term, with a renewed commitment, numerous aboriginal land and self-government rights agreements were signed by the Inuvialuit, Dene and Metis, some involving working together to make difficult decisions on things such as boundaries.

The Tlicho agreement, signed last month, marked an historic milestone in the conclusion of a land and self-government agreement by a common commitment and shared purpose to work together. Grand Chief Joe Rabesca and all the Dogrib Nation are another example of how unity and common purpose produce results.

It is important to acknowledge and commend Metis in the Northwest Territories for their role in advancing the recognition of their rights. The recent decision by the Supreme Court of Canada has huge national significance for Metis of this country and of this territory.

At Hay River in June 2002, the Northwest Territories' social agenda was forged by frontline workers, NGOs and our employees who saw strength in a unified, collaborative approach to building our social fabric. It took the work of individuals like Arlene Hache, Margaret Thom and Evelyn Storr, and all participants of the Social Agenda Working Group, to press the critical importance of ensuring our residents are healthy and have the social support necessary to balance and cope with a booming economy.

On the government's part, Health and Social Services Minister Miltenberger has completed and started implementation of the health and social services action plan, with a renewed focus on community wellness.

NGOs and their volunteers also have a prominent role in building the social fabric of our North. James Ross has worked tirelessly every year for many years now to establish the Midway Lake Music Festival where Delta people get back to the land, enjoy country food, play old time music, and visit as a people with friends and relatives over the course of a long weekend in August. We also remember the late Vi Beck who had a long and distinguished career dedicated to the people of Yellowknife and the people of the Northwest Territories.

Our social fabric was improved dramatically with the passage of the Northwest Territories Human Rights Act. It is a progressive model for the rest of Canada, placing us in the forefront of recognizing and protecting human rights. Minister Allen, Ministers, MLAs, NGOs and all northern residents who championed tolerance and this legislation are to be commended.

Throughout this term, we have worked to make sure industry provides employment and training opportunities for northern residents. Through government programs like maximizing northern employment, we encouraged our young graduates to return home to a job. Minister Ootes was instrumental in the outstanding success of these programs.

Women have always had a strong and particularly important role in our ambitious agenda. I want to acknowledge the work of the only two women in this Assembly, Mrs. Groenewegen and Ms. Lee, for their vision and their contributions. We need to encourage more women to take their positions and take prominent leadership roles at the territorial level.

This Legislative Assembly has also taken great strides to raise our collective awareness of key issues and concerns critical to bettering the lives of our residents. Through its special committees dealing with official languages, self-government implementation and rural communities, this Assembly has brought focus to the importance of maintaining our aboriginal languages; preparing for implementation of self-government agreements; and the need to balance critical needs of small communities in the Northwest Territories with investments in the capital and regional centres. Steve Nitah's efforts and commitment to the renewal of aboriginal languages is to be commended.

The standing committees on Accountability and Oversight, Governance and Economic Development and Social Programs, under the able chairmanship of Mr. Dent, Mr. Roland and Mr. Bell respectively, have contributed to our common commitment to an open and accountable government.

We have built upon our territorial identity elevating June 21st, National Aboriginal Day, to a statutory holiday, so all our people can participate in this special day of recognition of our aboriginal cultures and heritage.

We can also measure the achievements of unity at the community level.

The people of Fort Providence, and their MLA, Mr. McLeod, are going to build one of the most important pieces of territorial transportation infrastructure: the Deh Cho Bridge. An achievement of national significance, I believe, because it is completing the link between the Northwest Territories and the rest of Canada that has been facilitated by the support of our government and the energy of the Deh Cho Bridge Development Corporation.

Other critical infrastructure such as roads, winter bridges, municipal services, communications and housing have moved forward through partnerships in the efforts with the federal government and aboriginal businesses.

Under the leadership of Minister Steen and Minister Handley, our roads and bridges have been improved and our case has been made very effectively to the federal government that more infrastructure funding, based on needs, not just per capita, is required by our people.

We have also heard the Sahtu Women Warriors and we applaud their ingenuity, commitment and drive to realize the dream of a highway linking our more northern communities with southern highways.

Mr. Lafferty must also be given credit for his relentless pursuit of improvements on Highway No. 3 and road access for the smaller communities in his region.

Municipal governments have also been instrumental in making the decisions and implementing the programs and services which are so critical to our quality of life at the community level. We especially appreciate the support of our mayors on changing the approach of the federal government to funding municipal infrastructure.

Housing remains high on our agenda, primarily because of the work of Housing Minister Allen, under the watchful eye of Mr. Braden, who pursued a housing agenda based not only on the needs of local residents, but on the needs of all Northerners who aspire to home ownership or affordable accommodation.

Key to all these achievements was the decision to invest, even though we started our term in difficult fiscal circumstances and we have been facing significant financial challenges ever since. The Minister of Finance, Mr. Handley, though, has never wavered from the fundamental commitment to invest in our people and our territory to ensure maximum returns and benefits in the long term.

We not only had to deal with our own internal agenda, we had to take into account ongoing diamond mine development and renewed interest in northern gas and a Mackenzie Valley pipeline.

Mr. Speaker, I request unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Item 1: Prayer September 30th, 2003

Hello, my colleagues. Before we go to the Orders of the Day, I wish to provide my ruling on the Point of Order raised on September 30, 2003, by the honourable Member for Frame Lake, Mr. Dent.

Before addressing the specific Point of Order, I would like to make some comments to refresh Members on the procedural purpose of a Point of Order. A Point of Order is a question raised by a Member who believes that the rules or customary procedures of the House have been incorrectly applied or overlooked during the proceedings. Members may rise on Points of Order to bring to the attention of the chair any breach of the relevance or repetition of the rules, or the utterance of unparliamentary remarks. Members are able to do so at virtually any time in the proceedings, provided that the Point of Order is raised and concisely presented as soon as the irregularity occurs or as soon as practicable thereafter. As a Point of Order concerns the interpretation of the rules, it is the responsibility of the Speaker, or chair in Committee of the Whole, to determine its merits and to resolve the issue.

To the specific Point of Order raised by Mr. Dent. I find that the Point of Order was raised at the earliest opportunity, based on the facts as outlined by the Member for Frame Lake. The honourable Member contends that the Minister of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development, the Honourable Mr. Antoine, may have misled the House as his comments during question period on February 21, 2003, were not consistent with the Minister's subsequent actions.

Any allegation that a Minister may have misled the House is a matter that the chair and all Members must take very seriously. In this light, as I do with all Points of Order, I took some time to review the facts available to me. Some of the facts raised by Mr. Dent unfortunately touched on matters that occurred outside the House and cannot be confirmed, as to whether or not they are an accurate account of events. The facts available to me were the comments made by the Minister on February 21, 2003, as outlined by Mr. Dent in his Point of Order. The comments are contained on pages 235 and 236 of Hansard. I am drawn to the comments of the Minister in responding to an oral question by the Member for Hay River South, Mrs. Groenewegen, and I quote from page 236 of edited Hansard, "so at this point in time, the decision is for us to not proceed, but to have a mechanism in place developed by RWED."

The chair, and all honourable Members, must assume that the statements made in the House were an accurate reflection of the Minister's and the government's intent at that particular point in time, as there is no evidence to suggest otherwise. Circumstances obviously change over time and can influence future decisions. This cannot be viewed as evidence to show that the Minister intentionally and willfully misled the House. I, therefore, find that the Member for Frame Lake does not have a Point of Order.

Item 2, Ministers' statements. The honourable Member for Sahtu, Mr. Kakfwi.

Item 1: Prayer June 10th, 2003

Good afternoon, Members. Before we begin the regular orders of the day, I would like to provide my ruling on the Point of Order raised by the Member for Range Lake, Ms. Lee, during question period yesterday, June 10, 2003. Ms. Lee rose on a Point of Order under Rule 23(h),(i) and (j) with respect to answers given by the Minister of Health and Social Services, the Honourable Michael Miltenberger, to her earlier questions. Stating her Point of Order, Ms. Lee said, and I quote from page 2087 of the unedited Hansard: "Minister Miltenberger in answering my questions stated that I was sending out misleading information or falsehood or words to that effect, that I was unduly scaring the public out there when I was making a statement about what my constituent had said and she was interviewed in the paper."

Ms. Lee went on to reference a response Mr. Miltenberger made to a question from Mr. Bell. I, again, quote from page 2087 of the unedited Hansard: "he said there was a concern raised by the general practitioners about the specialist locum and that he has just dealt with that issue at noon today. So the Minister just admitted that there was a concern expressed."

Specifically, as clearly as the chair was able to ascertain from a review of the unedited Hansard, Ms. Lee contended that Minister Miltenberger had contravened Rule 23(j), which states that a Member shall be called to order if the Member charges another Member with uttering a deliberate falsehood. As I indicated, the chair has carefully and thoroughly reviewed the unedited Hansard and to put this matter into some context, I will refer to a number of quotes.

On page 2073 of the unedited Hansard in responding to Ms. Lee's question about the locum contingency for obstetrics and gynaecology, Mr. Miltenberger stated: "Every locum we hire who is qualified to practice in the Northwest Territories is registered as a medical doctor. There has been misinformation, deliberate or otherwise unfortunately it would appear, that leads people to believe that that is not the case. We've also had the unfortunate occurrence last week during Seniors' Week to have a locum's reputation and capability questioned because of his age."

On page 2074, Mr. Miltenberger went on to state: "I would just hope that people would put out the best facts they have, and not cause alarm and not make statements questioning the locums when we know in this House that we don't hire anybody but qualified doctors. We can't. Our rules are very clear. We should not be causing needless apprehension among patients and people, women and pregnant women."

On page 2074 and 2075, Ms. Lee asked the following supplementary question: "My question to the Minister is that we know, and I know, that he's been getting e-mail and correspondence that I have, that says that the family doctors in Yellowknife and the parents who are expecting babies have no faith in the locum contingent. I'd like to know what he has done, since this has been revealed, to accommodate their lack of faith in the locum contingent."

Mr. Miltenberger's response is found on page 2075 of the unedited Hansard, and I quote: "...first let me be very clear. I do not know these people Ms. Lee refers to. My comments were directed specifically at the Members here who have been making comments, who have been making these comments in this forum, in this House." Mr. Miltenberger furthered stated, again I quote from page 2075 of the unedited Hansard: "...there are a lot of forces at play here, and to come into this House and call into question the credibility of all the locums is, I think, unfortunate."

Very clearly this is a highly charged issue and it may be safe to say that at the very least, the facts may be in dispute. This is not an unusual occurrence in our line of work. In fact, it happens regularly because the facts of any matter are often in dispute, the parliamentary authorities recognize this and make allowances for it. I refer respectfully to Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms, 6th Edition, Citation 494 on page 151: "It has been formally ruled by Speakers that statements by Members respecting themselves and particularly within their own knowledge must be accepted. It is not unparliamentary temperately to criticize statements made by Members as being contrary to the facts; but no imputation of intentional falsehood is permissible. On rare occasions, this may result in the House having to accept two contradictory accounts of the same incident."

It is evident to the chair, from the comments made by both Ms. Lee and Mr. Miltenberger, that there is a divergence of opinion and that the facts of the matter are in dispute. It is not for the chair to ascertain who is right or which interpretation is correct. Therefore, the chair will confine itself to a determination of whether any of the comments made constitute a breach of any of our rules, specifically Rule 23(j.)

In carefully reviewing unedited Hansard, I note that while Mr. Miltenberger does make a number of references to the dissemination of information contrary to the information in his possession, he does not go so far as to name any particular Member until he states that his comments: "Were directed specifically at the Members here who have been making comments, who have been making these comments in this forum, in this House," as taken from page 2075 of the unedited Hansard. This point causes the chair some concern in that while Mr. Miltenberger did not refer to a particular question, his comments did call into question whether a Member or Members were uttering falsehoods. When this is coupled with the fact that Mr. Miltenberger earlier, on page 2073 of the unedited Hansard stated, and I quote: "There has been misinformation, deliberate or otherwise, unfortunately, it would appear, that leads people to believe that this is not the case."

Taken together, these comments infer that there has been a deliberate attempt to disseminate misleading or inaccurate information by a Member or Members of the House and, therefore, I find that Ms. Lee does have a Point of Order under Rule 23(j.)


Order, please. I am not finished. I want to take this opportunity to remind all Members, and to caution you, that while the House is prepared to accept more than one version of events or issues, or more than one set of facts as Members believe them to be, the House is not prepared to accept charges from Members that any misinformation is brought to the Chamber deliberately. I urge all Members to choose your words carefully and wisely, especially in dealing with emotionally-charged issues.

I am also going to take this opportunity to make a rather important point about your duty and responsibility to protect persons who are not Members of this House by refraining from making comments that could cause injury to persons outside the House.

I would like to quote a short passage from page 524 of Marleau and Montpetit's "House of Commons Procedure and Practice."

"The House has ruled that Members have a responsibility to protect the innocent, not only from outright slander, but from any slur directly or indirectly implied and has stressed that Members should avoid as much as possible mentioning by name people from outside the House who are unable to reply and defend themselves against innuendo."

The chair is aware that a member of the public was not named directly. However, it is also very clear that we are a small constituency and the medical community is a smaller one still. Naming a particular individual is not necessary for serious damage to result. I want to strongly advise all Members to refrain from further reference of this nature and encourage you to be extremely vigilant in this regard.

Item 2, Ministers' statements. The honourable Member for the Sahtu, Mr. Kakfwi.

NWT Housing Corporation March 11th, 2003

Mr. Chairman, with your permission, I will ask Mr. Moreside to respond to that. He's got the actual document in front of him.

NWT Housing Corporation March 11th, 2003

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It does fluctuate from year to year. Some years it goes down, some years it goes up. It depends on a number of factors.

NWT Housing Corporation March 11th, 2003

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Yes, $1.456 million.

NWT Housing Corporation March 11th, 2003

Mr. Chairman, because of the detail of that, would it be possible to provide that to the honourable Member later rather than here?

NWT Housing Corporation March 11th, 2003

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I was going to suggest we provide that to the honourable Member later, but I do have the budget for 2002-2003 breakdown, if this committee will allow me to read it off. The Board of Management, for example, $100,000; clerk's conference, $5,000; special functions, $15,000; Christmas function, $5,000; CPA, $90,000; youth parliament, $15,000; information and privacy commissioner, $35,000; conflict of interest, $40,000; Accountability and Oversight, $195,500; Governance and Economic Development, $135,000; Social Programs, $85,000; Rules and Procedures, $7,000; and, Caucus, $50,000 for a total of $777,500. We can provide a copy later.

NWT Housing Corporation March 11th, 2003

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I thank the Member for his comments. The board has always been responsive to the needs of the individual Members as they put their cases forward for not only the work that they do in their constituency, but their own comforts while they are here in the capital city. We have always managed to meet within our budget or seek a few dollars more to be able to accommodate and we greatly appreciate any comments and suggestions that would come forward to make our job easier and representation better across the Territories. That same offer still stands.