Legislative Assembly photo

Roles

Elsewhere

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

Item 1: Prayer March 10th, 2003

Colleagues, before we begin with orders of the day, I would like to take this opportunity to express my deep and heartfelt appreciation to the Members of this House, to the staff, to the people of Yellowknife and people across the North for their prayers and expressions of condolences to my family and I on the recent loss of my wife Elaine. Her contribution to the North and people of the North will continue to be remembered in many ways. I want to say thank you for allowing me the time off to be with my family and thank you to Deputy Speaker Krutko for filling in for me and I want to thank you for your genuine kindness that has helped ease our loss over the past few days. Thank you.

Today is Commonwealth Day. The Commonwealth is home to more than 1.7 billion people, a unique family in 54 countries, with many faiths, races, languages and cultures, spread across every continent and ocean in the world. The dynamic and vibrant network of partnerships that exist among its people give the commonwealth its unique strength in promotion, democracy, development and cooperation.

The second Monday in March is observed annually by all members of the Commonwealth. This day is used to promote understanding about global issues, international cooperation and the work of the modern Commonwealth. Each year, there is a different theme. This year's theme for Commonwealth Day 2003 is Partners in Development. Development is about people, their quality of life, and the choices available to them as they strive to reach their full potential. It is about finding new ways to provide adequate food, shelter, clothing, education and jobs, healthcare, transportation, safe living conditions, good government and a stable economy.

Commonwealth Day is celebrated in different ways. Many cities, for example, host multi-faith observances. The largest is held at Westminster Abbey in London and is attended by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, head of the Commonwealth parliaments, and legislatures mark the day with speeches and events.

Today, the Royal Union flag, also known as the Union Jack, will be flown along with the Canadian flag on all Government of Canada buildings and establishments across Canada to mark Canada's membership in the Commonwealth of nations.

Commonwealth Day is an opportunity to remember the values, traditions and aspirations we all share as Commonwealth citizens. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Item 1: Prayer February 14th, 2003

Bonjour, mes ami. Happy Valentine's Day. Before we proceed to the business of the day, I would like to take this opportunity in recognition of tomorrow being National Flag of Canada Day. All across Canada, people will be celebrating the 38th anniversary of our national flag. Along with the national anthem, the flag is the most important symbol of our country. The flat represents not only the country's land and its people, but also its values. I would like to take this moment to tell you a little bit about the history of our flag.

Some of you may remember back to the events that took place some 38 years ago. The official ceremony initiating the new Canadian flag was held on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on February 15, 1965 with the Governor General Georges Vanier, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson and Members of the Cabinet and thousands of Canadians in attendance. The Canadian flag bearing the Union Jack and the shield of the Royal Arms of Canada was lowered and then on the stroke of noon, our new maple leaf was raised. The crowd sang the national anthem, O Canada, followed by the royal anthem of God Save the Queen. The following words were spoken on that momentous day by the Speaker of the Senate, adding further symbolic meaning to our flag. He said, and I quote: "The flag is a symbol of our nation's unity, for it, beyond any doubt, represents all the citizens of Canada without distinction of race, language, belief or opinion."

The NWT Celebrate Canada Committee and I would like to invite you to celebrate the 28th anniversary of the national flag of Canada on Saturday, that's tomorrow, February 15th, outside by the flag stand and later in the Great Hall of the Legislative Assembly at noon where there will be some celebrations taking place. Thank you.

---Applause

Item 2, Ministers' statements. The honourable Member for Nahendeh, Mr. Antoine.

Committee Report 13-14(5): Report On The Review Of Bill 14: An Act To Amend The Revolving Funds Act October 30th, 2002

Introduction

Bill 14, An Act to Amend the Revolving Funds Act is ironically a straightforward and simple piece of legislation. The amendment establishes the Lot Development Revolving Fund (LDRF) and sets the amount available to the fund at $4 million.

The Standing Committee on Governance and Economic Development had no concerns with the amendment itself. Committee concerns centered on the details of how the Lot Development Revolving Fund would work.

Background

The Members of the Standing Committee on Governance and Economic Development first heard of the proposed Lot Development Revolving Fund in the February 20th, 2002 Budget Address as part of a four part program aimed at encouraging the private sector to develop affordable rental accommodations in non-tax based communities.

On April 24th, 2002 the government provided the standing committee with a legislative proposal on amending the Revolving Funds Act. Also included with the legislative proposal was an attachment dated January 25th, 2002. The attachment provided a very brief outline of how the government envisioned the Lot Development Revolving Fund working.

On May 10th, 2002, the Standing Committee on Government and Economic Development met to consider the legislative proposal and program details contained in the attachment.

Members of the standing committee assumed the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs had time to develop further program details over what was contained in the January 25th attachment.

Consequently, in the committee letter of May 27th, 2002 the committee provided general support for the legislative proposal and directed the Government House Leader to proceed with the drafting of the legislation. Also included in the letter were a set of questions addressing committee concerns with program delivery.

These concerns included:

  • • How the program would operate in communities that only had Indian Affairs Branch lands available for development;
  • • Whether the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development had been consulted;
  • • How the LDRF would be reimbursed once lots have been developed on Indian Affairs Branch land;
  • • How the program impacts on land claim or self-government negotiations;
  • • Concern was expressed that the LDRF would replace existing lot development initiatives offered through the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs. Members wanted assurances this was not the case;
  • • How the LDRF would work for lots developed on Commissioner's Lands;
  • • For any revolving fund to work properly the product or service must turn over on a regular basis to replenish the fund so that more lot development can occur. Members requested further information on interested communities and on which communities would see lots being developed in the summer of 2002;
  • • How the companion Subsidy Bridging Program would work;
  • • Whether territorial and federal boards, agencies and departments could access the LDRF;
  • • How the government would lessen the potential for land speculation on lots developed under the program;
  • • What stakeholder consultation had taken place or was underway;
  • • Five year forecast for lot development in the communities;
  • • Details on financial controls and audit procedures.

The government responded to the committee's letter on June 11th, 2002 the same day on which the government introduced Bill 14, An Act to Amend the Revolving Funds Act. Bill 14 was referred to the Standing Committee on Governance and Economic Development for review on the same day.

The committee considered the June 11th response from the government to the concerns raised by the standing committee at its June 13th, 2002 meeting.

It became apparent to committee members that the development of the actual program details had yet to be undertaken. Essentially, by recommending passage of Bill 14, the committee would be giving the department carte blanche to develop the program.

In light of the amount of money involved in the LDRF and the lack of community consultation, committee members were reluctant to give this approval in the absence of definitive program detail.

In a June 13th, 2002 letter, the standing committee conveyed their concerns to the Minister of Municipal and Community affairs and requested further information from the department. members wanted to determine whether public hearings were needed, or, depending on the Department's response, whether the committee would proceed with the clause-by-clause review of Bill 14 and refer it to committee of the whole for consideration during the June session.

Neither the Government House Leader nor the Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs responded to the committee's letter until August 26th, 2002. Obviously this was too late for the committee to consider the bill during the June session or to hold public hearings outside of the capital city over the summer months.

On August 27th, 2002 the Standing Committee on Governance and Economic Development held a public hearing on Bill 14, An Act to Amend the Revolving Funds Act in Yellowknife. The Department of Municipal and Community Affairs provided the committee with a briefing on how they saw the Lot Development Revolving Fund and its companion programs working. Members were concerned as it seemed the existing way of financing lot development through MACA was being changed without any community consultation. Other Members were concerned by the impacts the program would have on tax-based communities that were in close proximity to eligible communities.

Once again, the further information provided by the department gave rise to more questions on the part of committee and meant that Members were not prepared to do a review of Bill 14 and report it to the Assembly.

On August 30th, 2002 the Standing Committee sent a letter to the Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs outlining the committee's concerns. The letter also requested the department provide the committee with a technical resource person conversant with the details of the Lot Development Revolving Fund and its companion programs so that the committee could hold public hearings in some affected communities.

On September 16th, 2002 the Government House Leader responded to the committee in a letter stating that the government planned to take some time to review the proposed approach and consider the issues raised by the committee.

The committee wrote the Government House Leader on October 8th, 2002 to ask whether the committee could expect a response to its August 30th letter and whether the government even wanted Bill 14 to be dealt with during the fall sitting.

The Government House Leader responded on October 16th, 2002 by requesting a meeting with himself and the Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs to discuss the committee's outstanding concerns with Bill 14.

At the committee meeting on October 21st, 2002, the Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs informed Members the government would not be funding any new initiatives because of fiscal restraint measures put in place by Cabinet. These restraint measures meant that companion programs designed to ensure the success of the Lot Development Revolving Fund would not be funded. This caused the department to reconsider whether the lot development program could be successful if implemented in isolation.

Conclusion

It appears that the government will not be proceeding with the lot development scheme proposed in Bill 14. The committee, for obvious reasons, concurs that the bill should not be proceeded with at this time.

The reason the Standing Committee on Governance and Economic Development has chosen to deliver a report on Bill 14 is to educate the public on the processes that impeded passage of this bill.

The members of the standing committee were asked to approve a $4 million revolving fund without any definitive details on how the program would work. The committee has a responsibility to ensure that the government spends its money prudently and that government programs are equitable and fair to all Northwest Territories communities.

It was apparent to the committee that the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs was developing details of the program on the fly. The committee does not fault the work of the department and must admit real progress was being made. However, in light of fiscal realities it is clear the department has to re-examine how it will fund lot development in the non-tax-based communities.

Committee members noted that new funding in the amount of $300,000 for a Subdivision Subsidy Program was included in Supplementary Appropriation Act, No. 1, 2002-2003. These funds were approved during the June sitting. It is strongly recommended that the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs use that funding to advance the development of lots and subdivisions in non-tax-based communities. The committee will be seeking clarification on how this money is expended.

In closing, the committee looks forward to reviewing a new plan for lot development in the near future.

Item 1: Prayer June 18th, 2002

Good afternoon, colleagues. First of all, I would like to say a big thank you to the students of the Weledeh School Choir, under the direction of Celia Boyd and Brenda Mullin, for singing O Canada in Dogrib.

-- Applause

This choir will be singing our national anthem again on Friday at the Somba K'e Park to help us launch the O Canada CD. The O Canada CD is a souvenir edition of our national anthem in four of our official languages. Later in the year, a final version of the CD will be produced in all 11 of the official languages of the Northwest Territories. The CD will be distributed throughout the Northwest Territories to communities and to schools and will be available to the general public.

The O Canada CD project has been a project of this Legislative Assembly in partnership with the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, National Aboriginal Day, the Living History Society and the Office of the Languages Commissioner.

On Friday, June 21, the CD will be officially launched at the National Aboriginal Day festivities in the Somba K'e Park in the presence of Her Excellency, Governor General Adrienne Clarkson. If you are in Yellowknife on Friday I would like to invite you to attend this event, which starts at 1:00 p.m.

We are very proud of this initiative and, once completed, it will be the first recording of our national anthem in all of the official languages of the Northwest Territories. I would like to acknowledge all of the people who have worked so hard on this project, especially the staff in my office and the Clerk's office, and a sincere thank you to them for a job well done.

-- Applause

Once again, a great thank you to the students of the Weledeh School Choir for introducing the first version of our national anthem in Dogrib.

Item 2, Ministers' statements. The honourable Minister responsible for the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, Mr. Antoine.

Item 1: Prayer June 11th, 2002

Thank you, Mr. Roland. Please be seated. Good afternoon, colleagues. I wish to advise the House that I have received the following message from the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories:

Dear Mr. Speaker,

I wish to advise that I recommend to the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories the passage of Supplementary Appropriations Act, No. 1, 2002-2003 during the Fifth Session of the 14th Legislative Assembly.

Yours truly,

Glenna F. Hansen, Commissioner

Colleagues, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you back to the House, as well to the staff and the visitors who are here, for a short summer session of the Fifth Session of this Legislative Assembly. Sadly, since we last met, we have mourned the passing of Mr. Goo Arlooktoo, a former Member of this Legislative Assembly.

Mr. Arlooktoo was the Member for Baffin South from 1995 to 1999. After the creation of Nunavut he returned to Baffin Island to live and to work. During that time, he retained many family and business ties with the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Steen and I were able to travel to Iqaluit to attend Mr. Arlooktoo's funeral and to represent this Assembly. It was a very sad time, as he left us much, much too early. I know I speak for all Members when I pass along our deepest condolences to Mr. Arlooktoo's widow Dorothy and to their children and their extended family.

After a very late spring, we are now able to enjoy the Northwest Territories' wonderful summer session. I know that the Members of this Assembly have been hard at work in their constituencies since we last met and I would like to encourage you all to continue to enjoy the summer with your families when we are finished this sitting.

At this time, I would like to advise the House of a very important event occurring today. It is the silver anniversary of the Honourable Jim Antoine and his wife, Celine. Congratulations.

-- Applause

Item 2, Ministers' statements. The honourable Deputy Premier, Mr. Antoine.

Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters March 14th, 2002

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, thank you, colleagues. It is a pleasure to be back here in front of you again. I am very pleased to present the 2002-2003 proposed main estimates for the Legislative Assembly.

We are requesting $14,047,000 for the operating expenses of the Legislative Assembly for the coming fiscal year. Our appropriations also include a capital component of $445,000 for enhancements and upgrading of our security and risk management system, which I will address further along in my statement today.

Mr. Chairman, I think it is important to indicate that the Board of Management, in preparing the business plans and main estimates, is guided by the input of Members and I hope is responsive to your needs. Ultimately, their direction determines the level of financial and human resources necessary to provide services to Members and oversee the day-to-day administration of the Legislative Assembly Offices. The board and the Clerk's office are always looking for ways to improve the quality of its services, and we remain committed to providing those services in a cost-effective, open, transparent and accountable manner, which is what the people of the Northwest Territories deserve and expect of its elected Assembly.

I would like to remind Members that the appropriations of the Legislative Assembly provide funding for the statutory officers of the Assembly. Funding is provided to the Offices of the Languages Commissioner, Conflict of Interest Commissioner, Information and Privacy Commissioner and the Chief Electoral Officer.

The main estimates before you today, Mr. Chairman, contain a number of forced growth items including:

  • • $225,000 for the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer, to gear up for the general election in the fall of 2003;
  • • $145,000 for enhancement to the Members Constituency Assistant Program and our Pages Program;
  • • $96,000 for enhancements to a number of our information systems; and finally,
  • • $36,000 overall increase to Members Constituency budgets, which is now tied to the consumer price index.

Mr. Chairman, new funding has also been identified in the main estimates to assist the Special Committees on the Review of the Official Languages Act and the Implementation of Self-Government and the Sunset Clause in carrying out their mandates. Both committees will complete their respective mandates before the end of our term. I did note with interest that the Minister of Finance, in his Budget Address, recognized the importance of the work of the Special Committee on the Review of the Official Languages Act.

New funding is also being requested to increase and enhance the support provided to the House, standing committees and public information services. A notable amount of this funding will go to the initiative for the development and implementation of a cultural enhancement program for the Legislative Assembly building and Capital Park.

Mr. Chairman, I indicated earlier on that the Legislative Assembly is seeking funding to make improvements to security services within the Legislative Assembly building and grounds. A risk and threat assessment for overall security was undertaken and indicated that improvements are required to adequately address existing and potential threats.

Security is a sensitive matter and it is important to try and achieve a balance between the perceived likelihood of threat with the costs associated with guarding against those threats. In order to achieve that balance, I am prepared to accept a $220,000 reduction to the security proposal contained in the main estimates.

Mr. Chairman and colleagues, when issues arise concerning the cost of running the Legislative Assembly, comments invariably seem to focus on how much our elected MLAs are being paid and little seems to be made of the numerous other initiatives and programs that this Assembly is responsible for. Granted, a large amount of our financial and human resources go to services provided to Members, but equally important are those services that are provided to government departments, employees and the general public. Thousands of people annually, Mr. Chairman, visit the Legislative Assembly building. This does not include individuals that attend as government employees or visitors to Members.

The combined number of daily public tours and summer Capital Park walking tours totals 240 annually. This does not include special tours for the 117 visiting dignitaries from Canada and other countries, or the tours conducted by my office for over 90 members of the public.

Throughout the year, we also host several special events, including the kindergarten Christmas tree decorating, Lights Across Canada and the seniors tea. We are also very proud of our sponsorship of the Youth Parliament. Our third Youth Parliament concluded in February of this year and it is clearly our most successful educational program, bringing in young people from across the Territory.

Events in the Great Hall and our Caucus Room increased dramatically last year, with 81 events being held in the building. These events bring in people from all walks of life from across the Territory and Canada, which serves to enhance our exposure and promote the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Chairman, the legislative and legislative branch libraries also provide an important service to the people of this Territory. The clientele of the legislative library includes Members and their staff, Legislative Assembly staff, government employees throughout the Northwest Territories, researchers, consultants, media and the general public. In order to provide efficient and effective service to GNWT employees and the general public, the legislative branch library is located downtown on the second floor on the Centre Square Tower, where materials and staff assistance are more accessible to employees.

A major part of the services provided to GNWT employees by the branch library include interlibrary loans, whereby library staff locate, request and receive information and documents from other libraries outside of the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Chairman, the legislative library continues to take on various new tasks that have a broader Assembly focus such as:

  • • The distribution and preservation of legislative documents, including a project to microfiche legislative documents, dating back to 1951;
  • • Assisting with the production and distribution of Hansard, which also involves the production of a CD-ROM containing Hansard from the 12th, 13th and 14th Assemblies;
  • • Performing the records management function by organizing and storing the records of the Legislative Assembly; and
  • • Responding to questions that are redirected from other departments or received via the government and Legislative Assembly websites.

Mr. Chairman, the broadcasting of our sittings and other significant events on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network continue to be well received by the public across the Northwest Territories and are proving to be an excellent way of keeping our electorate informed about what we are doing. We broadcast approximately 180 hours annually.

Mr. Chairman, in the fast moving world of instant communication, it is interesting to note the growing importance that the Internet is having in our day-to-day work. Our Legislative Assembly website is a perfect example of how we are integrating technology into our day-to-day operations. During the period of December 31, 2000 to December 31, 2001, there were 3,441,262 hits on our website. Our most frequently viewed pages were our home page with 45,111 hits; the Hansard, with 16,919 viewers; and the general Members information page with 12,607 views. Not only, Mr. Chairman, are we able to track the number of visitors to our individual pages, we are also able to track the most commonly downloaded files, and even geographic regions of the globe that are accessing the site.

Mr. Chairman, I am sure that Members would be interested to discover that we have even compiled a top 50 hit list, which shows whose Members sites are visited most frequently. No special awards for those.

Again, Mr. Chairman and colleagues, the Board of Management has made every effort to address the needs of the Legislative Assembly and has endeavoured to secure the level of financial and human resources necessary to meet these demands. However, the Board and my offices, like Members, are ultimately responsible for the decisions we make collectively as elected representatives of the people of the Northwest Territories.

I look forward to the Members' comments and questions. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Item 1: Prayer March 13th, 2002

Thank you, Mr. Allen. Please be seated. Good afternoon, colleagues. Before we begin today's agenda, I wish to provide my ruling on the point of order raised on March 12, 2002 by the honourable Member for Weledeh, Mr. Handley.

Speaker's Ruling

Prior to addressing this specific point of order I would like to make some comment on the purpose of a point of order, since we have had a number of those points of order in the last session and again in this session. 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, unparliamentary remarks or any of our rules. Members are able to do so at virtually any time in the proceedings, provided the point of order is raised and concisely argued 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. Although Members frequently rise claiming a point of order, genuine points of order rarely occur. Indeed, points of order are often used by Members in an attempt to gain the floor to participate in debate, and in such cases, the Speaker will not allow the Member intervening to continue. This is the reason that when a Member is recognized on a point of order, you should only state which rule or practice you consider has been breached.

Our rules provide for brief debate on the point of order at the Speaker or Chair's discretion. I wish to advise that the Chairs have a responsibility to ensure impartiality and fairness when considering a point of order and will hear from Members if it is not clear whether a breach has occurred. When a point of order is raised, the Speaker attempts to rule on the matter immediately. However, if necessary, the matter may be taken under advisement and the Chair will come back to the House later with a formal ruling. As has been the case, there are occasions that when hearing the point of order, I do not need to reserve on my decision but can rule at the time of the occurrence. When this happens, I am of the view that this assists the House in dealing with its deliberations without being hampered by debate on points of order and waiting for a ruling. Once the Speaker's decision is rendered, the matter is no longer open to debate or discussion and the ruling cannot be appealed to the House.

I would now like to provide my ruling on the point of order raised by the honourable Member for Weledeh, Mr. Handley, with respect to remarks made by the honourable Member for Range Lake, Ms. Lee, on March 11, 2002. The statements in question are, referring to unedited Hansard, page 1229:

The point that I was making is that -- and I have stated in there that I am not saying that the Minister did any wrong-doing or anything like that -- but it is the Minister who put this into the supplementary appropriation, and the headline on Friday said $500,000 for the pay out. That came from a public document, which is Supp 3.

If it is true, as he has been saying, that he knows his obligations under this contract and that he was not to do anything that would reveal it, for him to have put into a supplementary appropriation is a ground for questioning his conduct.

In raising the point of order, the honourable Member referred to Rules 23(h) and 23(i), which state:

23 In debate, a Member will be called to order by the Speaker if the Member:

(h) makes allegations against another Member, a House officer or a witness;

(i) imputes false or hidden motives to another Member.

The Member for Weledeh, in making his point of order, stated that the information put forward by the Member for Range Lake was both factually incorrect, in that the Supp 3 was not for $500,000 but for $695,000 or so, and that he had a statutory obligation as Minister of Finance to put into the supplementary appropriations anything that is going to require additional spending. That appropriation is put in there because the Department of the Executive does not have the money to handle it.

Mr. Handley also stated in speaking to the point of order, and I quote from page 1239 of unedited Hansard, "She (Ms. Lee) is clearly imputing motives to me and second, is questioning my integrity."

I find that the statement of the Member for Range Lake does question the integrity and motives of Mr. Handley, and further suggests that in bringing forward the Supplementary Appropriation No. 3, he was doing so in a manner which breached confidential agreements.

I reviewed the comments of the honourable Member for Range Lake, Ms. Lee, in speaking to the point of order and found she did not offer any comment that would convince me to rule otherwise.

Therefore I rule that the honourable Member for Weledeh has a point of order; the statements made by the Member for Range Lake, Ms. Lee, being a contravention of Rules 23(h) and (i) of the Rules of the Legislative Assembly. Such questioning of integrity is a serious matter with respect to any Member of this House, but it is particularly serious to level such allegations at the Minister of Finance, who has specific and statutory duties to this House. I therefore ask the Member for Range Lake whether she is prepared to retract the offending statements. Ms. Lee.

Item 1: Prayer March 11th, 2002

Thank you. Mr. Bell. Please be seated. Good afternoon.

As the Speaker, and on behalf of all Members, I am pleased to recognize today March 11, 2002, as Commonwealth Day, which has as its theme this year Celebrating Diversity. In a moment, I will read a message from Her Majesty the Queen commemorating this important occasion, but first I would like to take this opportunity to recognize a number of other important anniversaries that came to pass over this past weekend.

Yesterday marked the 27th anniversary of the first fully-elected Assembly of the Northwest Territories.

-- Applause

Prior to the election held on March 10th, 1975, the Northwest Territories was under the direction of the then Commissioner, Mr. Stuart M. Hodgson, with the council consisting of 10 elected Members representing the whole Northwest Territories, three appointed Members and the Deputy Commissioner, Mr. Parker.

The first session of the first fully-elected Legislative Assembly was held on May 1st of that same year and saw the election of the first Speaker of the Assembly, Mr. David H. Searle, the only Member representing Yellowknife. Mr. Searle was the first of my predecessors to take the reins from then Commissioner, Stuart Hodgson, and assume the chair as Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.

In passing the torch to the 15 newly-elected Members, Mr. Hodgson stated the following:

I am sure none of us are under any illusions that this is going to be clear sailing from here on for the rest of the journey. We have a long way to go with a new ship and like any similar situation a lot of it is trial and error. It will take some time to get used to it, but if all those involved dedicate themselves to the principle and make it work and give full support to the new council structure, then I believe that territorial residents will be assured that this is indeed a forward step along the path to responsible government.

I think Mr. Hodgson's words are as fitting today as they were some 27 years ago as we move our Territory forward into uncharted waters.

In addition to the first fully-elected Assembly being held on March 10th, 1975, March 10th, 1983, also marks the first day of Mr. David Hamilton's distinguished 19-year career as Clerk of the Legislative Assembly.

-- Applause

Congratulations, Mr. Hamilton, for your continued dedication to sound parliamentary procedure and doing your part in keeping our ship sailing smoothly.

I would also like to note that the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association is once again organizing an event for youth in London today. I am happy to announce that the NWT's representative to this year's Commonwealth Day event is Mr. Stephen Dunbar. Mr. Dunbar, as you know, is no stranger to this Assembly as he worked here as a constituency assistant last summer. He is currently studying at a university in England. Today, Mr. Dunbar will attend discussions on the Commonwealth, attend an observance at Westminster Abbey attended by Her Majesty the Queen and tour the United Kingdom Houses of Parliament. I know that Mr. Dunbar will represent our Territory well and will learn a great deal today.

And now, a message from Her Majesty the Queen entitled, Celebrating Diversity.

Over the last 50 years the Commonwealth has undergone a remarkable transformation from an association defined by its history into the modern, multicultural organization we know today. Across those years, it has been the privilege of many of us to witness that evolution; to see at first hand the contributions made by the Commonwealth's leaders, as evident in Australia last week; and to share in the enthusiasm and warmth of its peoples.

Today the Commonwealth is a meeting place for north and south, east and west. It is built on diversity, which is why this year's theme, Celebrating Diversity, goes to the heart of the association.

Politically, the Commonwealth sees its diversity as a strength. That was certainly true of its invaluable contribution to the ending of apartheid in South Africa. The practical assistance it was able to offer in such a crucial area reflects the kaleidoscope of its membership and its expertise. As a result, the Commonwealth was able to work with all the different communities of what is now proudly called, the rainbow nation. Bridging social and political divides has also been a feature of the Commonwealth's continuing work in seeking to encourage democracy, good governance, the rule of law and respect for human rights.

In all this, we recognize that promoting diversity is not just tolerating difference. Living together as neighbours needs more than that. The true celebration of diversity involves reaching out, recognizing and embracing difference, and in so doing enriching our lives. It requires respect for others and a readiness to learn from them; recognizing that we have duties as well as rights; and seeking to leave the world a better place than the one we inherited.

As each of the last 50 years has passed, so too has our appreciation of the contribution made by the Commonwealth, an association of peoples as much as it is of governments, bound together by ideals as well as interests. If the Commonwealth is to remain a force for good, we must ensure that those ideals are carried forward by the millions of young people across the world who are its future, so that they too can celebrate and build on the diversity of this unique organization.

That is signed by Elizabeth R. March 11th, 2002.

-- Applause

Item 2, Ministers' statements. The honourable Minister responsible for Municipal and Community Affairs, Mr. Steen.

Item 21: Report Of The Committee Of The Whole February 26th, 2002

Thank you, Mr. Krutko. Do we have a seconder for the motion? The honourable Member for Yellowknife Centre, Mr. Ootes, seconds the motion. We have a motion on the floor. The motion is in order. All those in favour? Thank you. All those opposed? Thank you. The motion is carried. Thank you, Members. Item 22, third reading of bills.

Before I call for orders of the day, I have a ruling on a point of order raised earlier today, Tuesday, February 26th, by the honourable Member for Thebacha, Mr. Miltenberger.

Speaker's Ruling

I would like to provide my ruling on the point of order that was raised by the Member for Thebacha earlier today. Mr. Miltenberger, in raising the point of order, felt that false or hidden motives were being imputed to him in remarks made by the Member for Mackenzie Delta, Mr. Krutko, during his Members Statement. The words in question are:

Yet, Mr. Speaker, through the new Minister of Health and Social Services, he seems to be taking this thing full speed ahead and no consultation whatsoever with our Metis locals and Metis organizations. Now there is talk that the Minister may be out taking advantage of his new portfolio and being the Member for Thebacha and who basically wants to -- and who, through his electorate who put him in office to deliver on some of those commitments, knowing this has a detrimental threat to the Metis Nations up and down the valley. These comments are contained in unedited Hansard from earlier this afternoon.

Members are required under the rules to conduct themselves within those rules. These rules prohibit making statements which impute false or hidden motives to another Member.

Rule 23 states:

In debate a Member will be called to order by the Speaker if the Member:

(h) makes allegations against another Member, a House officer or a witness;

(i) imputes false or hidden motives to another Member.

In my review of the unedited Hansard, the implication was clear in the words of the Member for Mackenzie Delta. These implications include:

- That the Member for Thebacha was using his ministerial portfolio to "deliver" on previous election commitments. The thrust of this statement is that the Member for Thebacha is taking advantage of his newly acquired status as a Minister to fulfil commitments made as a Member and to thereby advance his own interests through the use of his ministerial portfolio.

- That the Member is deliberately taking steps knowing that such steps would or will have a detrimental effect on some identified constituents - namely the "Metis Nations up and down the valley".Such imputations of motives are, in my view, unparliamentary and contravene the rules of this Assembly. So my ruling is that the Member for Thebacha does have a point of order and I am offering the Member for Mackenzie Delta the opportunity to retract and apologize for these statements. The honourable Member for Mackenzie Delta, Mr. Krutko.

Item 1: Prayer October 30th, 2001

Thank you, Ms. Lee. Please be seated. Good afternoon, Members. Before we begin, I have a ruling on a point of order. At this time, I wish to provide that ruling on the point of order raised by the Member for Frame Lake, Mr. Dent, on Monday, October 29th, 2001. Mr. Dent's point of order was raised under Rule 23(m) for comments made by the Member for Yellowknife Centre, Mr. Ootes, on Friday, October 26th.

Rule 23(m) states:

In debate a Member will be called to order by the Speaker if the Member introduces any matter in debate that offends the practices and precedents of the Assembly.

The comments that the Member for Frame Lake feels that Mr. Ootes used that gave rise to this point of order are contained on page 1079 of unedited Hansard. I quote:

The Supreme Court Justice commented to me a while back, Mr. Speaker, his feelings of disgust that we still have leadership elections by secret vote. Poignant words from someone of the stature of the Supreme Court Justice.

I heard from the Member for Yellowknife Centre, Mr. Ootes, on the point of order and his comments are contained on page 1134 of unedited Hansard. I quote:

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I do want the transcript of the tapes checked because it is my belief that I said "a" Supreme Court Justice stated and I did not identify a Supreme Court Justice as being a Supreme Court Justice of the Northwest Territories. Thank you.

I have had the tapes reviewed and, for the record, it is not clear if it is an "a" or "the", and in my view it does not change the context.

In considering this point of order, I was unable to find a specific rule that Mr. Ootes may have breached. There is, of course, the sub judice convention, which is an unwritten rule that during debate, restrictions are placed on the freedom of Members to make reference to matters awaiting judicial decision in the interests of justice and fair play.

This is not the case in relation to the point of order before me today. However, there is also an understanding that it is not appropriate in the House to make reference to conversations

that took place outside the walls of this Chamber. It might also be inappropriate, out of respect to the judiciary, to attribute comments on a political issue to a Supreme Court Justice, whether they are a Justice resident in the Territories or not.

Therefore, I do not find that Mr. Dent has a point of order. Item 2, Ministers' statements. The honourable Minister for Education, Culture and Employment, Mr. Ootes.