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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 October 26th, 2001

Thank you, Mr. Roland. Please be seated. Good afternoon, Members.

Speaker's Ruling

At this time, I would like to provide my ruling on the point of order raised by the Member for Yellowknife South, Mr. Bell. The point of order appears on page 1052 of unedited Hansard. The Member's point of order as stated by Mr. Bell: "I believe the Member has imputed motives toward myself and the committee with her suggestions that one of the recommendations had ulterior motives." Mr. Bell's point of order arose as a result of comments being made by the Member for Range Lake, Ms. Lee, while she was replying to the Commissioner's opening address under item 9 on the orders of the day.

I permitted debate on the point of order and heard from the Member for Frame Lake, Mr. Dent. There being no other Members who wished to speak on the point of order, I reserved my decision to permit me to review the unedited Hansard. In reviewing the Hansard I made note of, and I am sure Members will recall, that there was one other point of order and a point of privilege raised during the reply being made by the Member for Range Lake. To the point of order that I reserved on, and in reviewing the unedited Hansard, there are two quotes that are, in my view, the basis of the point of order.

The first is on pages 1048 and 1049 of the unedited Hansard and I quote Ms. Lee:

Mr. Speaker, the instrument of this palace coup is the committee report filed on Tuesday and the committee report that was discussed yesterday. I think the people who need to answer to these actions are the authors of this report. Mr. Speaker, I believe it is very clear who has written the report and the interest of the public, the Members of the committee...Then the Member for Range Lake proceeded to name all the Members of the Special Committee on Conflict Process.

The second quote is contained on page 1051 of the unedited Hansard and I again quote Ms. Lee: "However, it seems like there was an ulterior motive to that motion and that is that a suggestion made for a certain action has to be taken by the Premier."

There are a number of rules that I reviewed in considering my ruling. First, Rule 41(1), which states:

41(1) Every Member may make one reply to the opening address given under rule 33 and may speak on any matter.Secondly, Rule 23, which states:

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

(c) Persists in needless repetition or raises matters which have been decided during the current session:

(f) Reflects upon any previous vote of the Assembly except for the purpose of moving that it be rescinded;

(h) Makes an allegation against another Member, a house officer or a witness: and

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

Mr. Bell's point of order falls under Rule 23(h) and 23(i). However, as I pointed out during the debate yesterday, Ms. Lee came very close to breaching a number of other rules on a number of occasions. I rule that Mr. Bell does have a point of order based on the comments made by the Member for Range Lake, Ms. Lee.

The Chair's normal course in dealing with this matter would be to ask the Member, Ms. Lee, to retract the offending comments. However, I do note that again on page 1052, and I quote from the comments of the Member for Range Lake, Ms. Lee: "Mr. Speaker, my apologies. It was not appropriate for me to use the words ulterior motive so I will retract that and refrain from saying it again."

Therefore the Chair will accept the stated apology of the Member for Range Lake, which I trust is acceptable to the Member for Yellowknife South and the House. Thank you.

The honourable Member for Weledeh, Mr. Handley.

Forecasting March 6th, 2001

Mr. Chairman, colleagues, thank you once again for giving me the opportunity to appear before the committee of the whole to present the proposed main estimates for the Legislative Assembly for the 2001-2002 fiscal year.

The Legislative Assembly provides, within a framework of accepted democratic principles, an environment in which you, the elected representatives of the people of the Northwest Territories, can effectively, efficiently and to the best of your abilities meet the needs and aspirations of residents while taking into consideration the democratic diversity of the Northwest Territories. Mr. Chairman, the office of the Legislative Assembly supports the activities of the Members, both individually and collectively, in our roles as legislators, as representatives of our constituents within prescribed parliamentary function as provided by the Northwest Territories Act, our own Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act and the regulations and policies of the Board of Management.

Mr. Chairman, to be able to meet the obligations contained in the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act, the Official Languages Act, the Elections Act, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Board of Management policies, the Legislative Assembly is requesting a total of $11,680,000 in operations expenses for 2001-2002.

Mr. Chairman, the 2001-2002 main estimates reflect an increase in the Office of the Languages Commissioner, as well as the funds necessary to provide enhanced support to the Standing Committee on Accountability and Oversight. The Assembly has no capital requests for the coming year. Members will note that the Legislative Assembly has not submitted a five-year capital acquisition plan. This, Mr. Chairman, is not to say that we do not have a plan for replacement of ongoing items that will require the expenditure of funds. The government capital acquisition criteria require us to identify items under operating expenses rather than capital.

Mr. Chairman, I am sure you and Members will have observed that the main estimates before you today do not include funding for the two special committees that the Assembly established during the fall sitting. Once these two important special committees report to the House with their terms of reference, I expect there will be a request for supplementary appropriations.

With these brief comments, Mr. Chairman, colleagues, I again thank you for this opportunity on your behalf to present the proposed main estimates. I would be pleased to respond to questions and comments on the details of the main estimates. Thank you.

Item 1: Prayer March 5th, 2001

Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. Bonjour, mon colleagues.

Speaker's Ruling

Prior to proceeding with the orders of the day, I would like to provide the House with my ruling on the point of privilege raised by the Member for Range Lake, Ms. Lee, on Friday, March 2nd.

Upon review of pages 2788 through to page 2790 of unedited Hansard, the Member for Range Lake, Ms. Lee, raised first a point of order then a point of privilege. At the time I ruled that Ms. Lee did not have a point of order and reserved my decision on the point of privilege.

Before giving the House my ruling on the point of privilege, I think it is important to remind the House of what is a point of order and what constitutes a point of privilege.

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 Speaker, or if in committee of the whole, the chairperson, to any breach of the rules, unparliamentary remarks, or a lack of a quorum. Members are able, virtually at any time in the proceedings, to rise on a point of order, provided the point of order is raised and concisely argued as soon as the irregularity occurs. Points of order must be raised promptly and before the question has passed to a stage at which the objections would be out of place.

To assist Members, I would like to give some examples of what is the incorrect use of a point of order. It is not correct to use a point of order:

  1. As the basis for a further point of order;
  2. To gain the floor to participate in debate;
  3. To direct a question to the Member speaking;
  4. For a Member who has already spoken to clarify a part of his or her speech which has been misquoted or misunderstood;
  5. To dispute the accuracy of facts stated in debate;
  6. To move a motion; or
  7. To request the Speaker to rule in anticipation or on a hypothetical matter.

A point of order concerns the interpretation of the rules of procedure; it is the responsibility of the Speaker to determine its merits and to resolve the issue.

Once again upon reviewing the unedited Hansard on pages 2782 and 2788, I confirm my ruling that Ms. Lee, the Member for Range Lake, did not have a point of order.

To the point of privilege raised immediately after my ruling on the point of order, Ms. Lee indicated that the comments of the Minister of Finance, the Honourable Joe Handley, in replying to Ms. Lee's question, were a breach of privilege. I quote from page 2789 of unedited Hansard:

"That anything that happens in this House somehow infringes and interferes with her ability to do her job as an MLA."

I heard debate on the point of privilege and the Members for Mackenzie Delta, Yellowknife South and Weledeh all spoke to the point of privilege.

The Chair feels that it is important to once again put on the record what are the privileges of the Members individually and the Legislative Assembly collectively. The individual privileges of Members are absolutely necessary for the due execution of its powers.

Improper interference with the personal rights of Members individually, or with the corporate rights of a Legislature collectively, may constitute a breach of privilege.

Among the principal privileges of a Legislature are:

  • • Freedom of speech;
  • • Freedom from arrest;
  • • The power to discipline;
  • • The right to have the attendance and service of Members; and
  • • The right to regulate its internal affairs.

Contempt of parliament is closely related to, and is dealt with, as a matter of privilege. Contempts, while not breaches of specific privileges, are offenses against the authority or dignity of a legislature. Any act or omission which obstructs or impedes a Legislature in the performance of its functions, or which obstructs or impedes any Member or officer of a legislature in the performance of his/her duty or which has a tendency to produce such a result, may be treated as contempt even through there is no precedent for the offense.

A true question of privilege should arise in the Assembly infrequently. To constitute a breach of "privilege", generally there must be some improper obstruction to the Member in performing his or her parliamentary work in either a direct or constructive way, as opposed to mere expressions of public opinion or criticism of the activities of the Members.

Matters frequently raised as matters of privilege which in fact are not matters of privilege, include:

  • • Points of order;
  • • Disputes between two Members about questions of fact stated in debate;
  • • The failure of a Minister of the Crown to answer a question; or
  • • Statements made outside the House by a Member.

Members should note that parliamentary privilege is concerned with the special rights of Members strictly in their capacity as Members in their legislative work.

The Speaker's role when the matter of privilege is raised is to satisfy himself or herself whether or not:

  1. a) The matter is being raised at the earliest opportunity; and
  2. b) Sufficient evidence of the alleged breach of privileges of the House has been presented to warrant giving the matter precedence over all other business then before the House;

And having done so, to rule whether or not debate may proceed.

Only the House itself, by consideration of a motion on the matter, has the authority to decide whether or not a breach of privilege has occurred.

I apologize for this lengthy ruling, but I felt it was important, as I said, to place on the record the elements and importance of points of order and privilege. I rule that there is not a prima facie case for a point of privilege as alleged by the Member for Range Lake.

If I may also express a concern of the Chair, it is that points of order or privilege raised during question period do tend to take up the time allotted for questions and answers. The House may wish to consider, as in other jurisdictions, that points of order occurring during question period are permitted to be raised upon conclusion of question period. I will leave that matter for the House to determine through the appropriate avenue of the Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Déclarations de ministre. Item 2, Ministers' statements. The honourable Member for Weledeh, Mr. Handley.

Item 5: Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery February 14th, 2001

Thank you for taking the time to come to observe the proceedings of your Legislative Assembly. Before I proceed on to the next item, I have a ruling that I would like to present.

Speaker's Ruling

Before we proceed, I would like to provide you with my ruling on a point of order raised by Mr. Roland on Thursday, November 16, 2000, the last sitting day prior to our extended adjournment. Mr. Roland rose on a point of order in relation to an answer provided by the Premier, the Honourable Stephen Kakfwi, to Oral Question 293-14(3) regarding the contract for the chief of staff position.

Mr. Roland's point upon reviewing the unedited Hansard was that Mr. Kakfwi was referring to a document that was not before the House. I quote from page 1687 of unedited Hansard:

"Mr. Speaker, my point of order is he was referring to a document that is not before the House, and as I know the rules, that is not permitted".

In further clarifying this issue, I have referred to pages 1623 through to 1627 of unedited Hansard and examined the dialogue surrounding Oral Question 293-14(3), which gave rise to Mr. Roland rising on a point of order.

What I have been able to ascertain is that in his response to Mr. Roland's question regarding the contract for the chief of staff and certain information contained therein, Mr. Kakfwi did in fact briefly quote remarks made by the secretary to Cabinet at prior proceedings which were outside the House.

Mr. Kakfwi also made certain specific references to the content of a portion of the document in question, and I quote from page 1624 of unedited Hansard:

"What the contract does is in the section refers to appendices which refers to deputy minister-type benefits. The contract says she is a chief of staff and that she is an executive assistant to the Premier. It says that where there is reference to deputy minister, it is, should read chief of staff instead of deputy minister, in regard to conflict of interest requirements."

It is the opinion of the Chair in this instance that Mr. Kakfwi, in making reference to and describing certain contents of the document in question, has not quoted directly from it.

Notwithstanding the variety of parliamentary authorities, which limit the abilities of Members to reference or quote from documents not before the House, I am first obligated to draw your attention to Rule 23(d) of our own Rules of the Legislative Assembly, which states and I quote:

"... a Member will be called to order by the Speaker if the Member:

(d) refers at length to debates of the current Session or reads unnecessarily from Hansard or any other document. The Member may quote relevant passages which are necessary to comment on something said or to reply to an alleged misrepresentation."

It is the finding of the Chair in this case that Mr. Kakfwi, in responding to questions posed by Mr. Roland, did not exceed the limits imposed by Rule 23(d) and, therefore, Mr. Roland does not have a point of order.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind all Members that it is an infringement of our rules and contrary to parliamentary practice for Members to refer to committee proceedings that have not been reported to this House. Specifically, I want to caution Members about making reference to what may or may not have been said, or who may or may not have been in attendance in any proceedings or events outside this House. Thank you.

Item 6, oral questions. The honourable Member for North Slave, Mr. Lafferty.

Item 1: Prayer November 2nd, 2000

Thank you, Mr. Kakfwi. Good afternoon, colleagues. I would like to provide at this time my ruling on a point of order raised yesterday, Wednesday, November 1, 2000.

Speaker's Ruling

The point of order was raised by the Member for Weledeh, the honourable Mr. Handley, and is contained on pages 1479 and 1480 of the unedited Hansard.

The point of order was raised during question period when the Member for Thebacha, Mr. Miltenberger, was questioning the Premier. The point of order raised by Mr. Handley, and I quote from page 1480 of the unedited Hansard:

"Mr. Speaker, the Member is referring to a document that is not before the House. That is my point of order."

A review of the unedited Hansard on page 1478 indicates that Mr. Miltenberger's question concerns statements the Premier, the honourable Mr. Kakfwi, had made on page 1415 of the unedited Hansard of October 31, 2000 concerning job descriptions for executive assistants. However, upon further review of the preamble to Mr. Miltenberger's question, he did make mention, and I quote again from page 1478:

"That there was compelling legal evidence that pointed to the fact that Cabinet had probably contravened its own legislation"

Although the actual question related to the Premier's comments concerning job descriptions for executive assistants, the Member for Thebacha did mention the matter of legal evidence.

The question I have to answer, is there precedent that requires a Member to table a document that they refer to in debate, or in this case, during question period? There have been a number of rulings by my predecessors, but those are related to the requirement for Ministers to table documents that they mention in debate. The rulings have focused on the tabling of Cabinet documents or sections of documents that may or may not have fallen under Cabinet confidentiality.

There are three rulings that I reviewed to assist me in this matter. One was made on June 12, 1995, by Speaker Gargan; on February 13, 1998, again by Speaker Gargan; and lastly, again by Speaker Gargan on February 18, 1998. These rulings did not directly deal with a document being cited by an

Ordinary Member, but dealt with documents being mentioned by a Minister.

In considering my ruling, I referenced two parliamentary authorities: Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms 6th Edition; and Marleau and Montpetit - House of Commons' Procedure and Practices. The question is not the tabling of a document that may have been cited or quoted from, in part, by a Minister as there are precedents for that occurrence, but whether an Ordinary Member can be compelled or required to table a document that he or she may cite or quote from.

In making my ruling, I was guided by Beauchesne's 6th Edition, Citation 495.(1) which again addresses documents cited by a Minister. I quote from 495.(2):

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."

It may assist Members if I indicate how the term "cited" is interpreted in the parliamentary context. Again, I quote from Citation 495.(5) of Beauchesne's 6th Edition:

"To be cited, a document must be quoted or specifically used to influence debate. The admission that a document exists or the reading of the salutation or address of a letter does not constitute citing"

Another reference contained in Beauchesne's 6th Edition should also be considered. I quote:

"A private Member has neither the right nor the obligation to table an official, or any other, document."

When it comes to tabling a document, a practice has been developed in this House which is not common among other jurisdictions in Canada. Other jurisdictions vary from only Ministers that are permitted to table documents to tabling documents by any Member, which is the case in our House.

There are, however, limitations as to what is permitted to be tabled. In considering our precedents and other authorities, I rule that the Member for Weledeh, Mr. Handley, does not have a point of order.

As the rules and practices do not indicate that an Ordinary Member can be compelled to table a document unless expressed through some formal discussion in the House, I indicated that the requirement for Ministers concerning the tabling of documents is different and would depend on the circumstances as they arose.

However, if an Ordinary Member feels that a document that he or she continues to cite from would be in the public interest to make public, then the opportunity does exist under the item on the orders of the day. That item is tabling of documents. Thank you.

Orders of the day. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Frame Lake, Mr. Dent.

Human Resources July 6th, 2000

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, colleagues, I am pleased to appear before committee of the whole today to present for your consideration and approval the main estimates for 2000-2001 for the Legislative Assembly.

The Legislative Assembly is one of three distinct elements, which together comprise the constitutional makeup of the Northwest Territories. The administrative structure of the Legislative Assembly can be compared in general terms to a government department. However, it has a number of features that make it distinct from other public sector organizations. In saying it is distinct, Mr. Chairman, does not take away from my responsibility to ensure the operation of the Office of the Legislative Assembly complies with the operational procedures and policies of the Government of the Northwest Territories.

I am confident, Mr. Chairman, that the Legislative Assembly and its Members are perhaps the most accountable and open legislature in Canada.

-- Applause

The Legislative Assembly has a unique place in territorial history, rich in aboriginal and non-aboriginal traditions and housed in a modern building located on the capital site. Members are accountable generally to the electorate and to the Legislative Assembly, the Board of Management specifically, for the expenditures they incur as representatives of their constituencies.

Territorial government departments, represented by the Premier and Ministers in the Cabinet, are accountable to the Legislative Assembly for the expenditures they incur in delivering programs and services to all residents of the Northwest Territories.

The Legislative Assembly provides an environment in which the Members can effectively and efficiently meet the needs of residents, while considering the demographic diversity of the Northwest Territories. Mr. Chairman, the Legislative Assembly is requesting $11,596,000 in operating expenses and $210,000 under our capital acquisition plan.

You are all well aware that the 14th Legislative Assembly began its term with a new Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act. The act, along with the regulations and policies, provides for accountability, transparency and openness in all aspects of the business of the Members of the Legislative Assembly. In that regard, I tabled, on July 5th, the Annual Report of Members' Indemnities and Expenses. The new act has also had an impact on the financial and human resources required to meet the operational needs of the new Legislative Assembly.

Mr. Chairman, that concludes my opening remarks and I am open to responding to questions. Mahsi. Thank you.

Item 1: Prayer June 30th, 2000

Good morning, everyone. Before we begin the regular agenda, I would like to provide my ruling on the point of order raised yesterday by the Member for Hay River South, Mrs. Groenewegen.

Speaker's Ruling

The Member for Hay River South raised her point of order under Rule 23(i).

Rule 23 (i) states:

"In debate, a Member will be called to order by the Speaker if the Member imputes false or hidden motives to another Member."

The circumstances that gave rise to Mrs. Groenewegen's point of order are contained on page 529 of unedited Hansard of June 28, 2000. The Member believed that during Members' statements, the Member for Thebacha, Mr. Miltenberger, in making the following statement, imputed that she as Minister had hidden motives with respect to money that was appropriated by the Legislative Assembly.

The words that raised the point of order are contained on page 529 of unedited Hansard dated June 28, 2000, and I quote:

"it would almost appear that, when it comes to recruitment and retention, the Department of Health and Social Services has obtained public money from this legislature under false pretenses"

During debate on the point of order, the Member for Thebacha, Mr. Miltenberger, indicated that he had very carefully considered his comments and had qualified them and had not stated emphatically or definitively. In fact, he had used the words, "it would almost appear".

In considering the point of order, I considered the comments of both Members and went further to understand the rule which uses the words imputes and motives. Imputes means to lay the responsibility or blame or often falsely or unjustly charged. Motive implies an emotion or desire operating on the will and causing it to act.

I am afraid these definitions are not very helpful to me in making a determination on the point of order. Also, Mr. Miltenberger's use of the words "emphatically or definitively" may have lessened his imputation and motivation.

I have also reviewed Beauchesnes's Parliamentary Rules and Forms, 6th edition, and Marleau and Montpetit's House of Commons Procedures and Practice for this ruling. I also considered, although Mrs. Groenewegen did not raise it in her point of order, that the use of the words "false pretenses" by Mr. Miltenberger might have been unparliamentary.

I would also like to note, for the benefit of all Members, that I will not entertain the argument that a comment that imputes motives or implies the uttering of falsehoods can be qualified by the use of carefully chosen words such as "it would almost appear". Approaching the line, so to speak, is the same as crossing it in matters such as this.

After lengthy research last night as the House sat late, I could not find a definitive authority to assist me with this ruling. Therefore, I wish to rule that the Member for Hay River South does not have a point of order based on the facts put to the Chair.

However, I would caution not only the Member for Thebacha but all Members to be cautious not to use words that may, if taken in a different context, lead to imputing motives. Thank you for your attention.

-- Applause

Good morning, everyone. I am pleased to recognize tomorrow, July 1, as Canada Day 2000, a very special day for all Canadians, a day to acknowledge the unique and special qualities that make our country what it is.

Canada is a country that is truly enriched by cultural diversities, from First Nations to people from every country in the world. Through this diversity, we have created a friendly, welcoming nation for all who live and visit here. Even as Canadians travelling within our country, we are overwhelmed at the friendly nature of our fellow Canadians from coast to coast,

This attribute is well established worldwide, and it is a trait to be truly proud of. As we celebrate Canada Day 2000, we should reflect on our multitude of heritages from around the world, the true wealth of our nation.

As we celebrate tomorrow together as Canadians, let us also celebrate the individuality that enriches our Canadian society. In conclusion, I wish to draw your attention to the colourful display in the Great Hall of Canada Day posters, submitted by students across the Northwest Territories. The winner of the poster challenge, Michelle Lavoie from École St. Joseph School, will be travelling to Canada Day celebrations in our nation's capital, where she will present flowers to the Prime Minister's wife, Madame Chretien.

Happy birthday, Canada. Bonne fete.

-- Applause

Item 2, Ministers' statements. The honourable Minister responsible for the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs, Mr. Antoine.

Item 1: Prayer June 29th, 2000

Thank you, Mr. Krutko. If I recall correctly, this is one of the first formal points of order that the Speaker has been asked to hear. Prior to proceeding with the point of order, and for the benefit of new Members, and perhaps to remind not so new Members of how points of order are dealt with by the Chair.

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, repetition, rules or unparliamentary remarks.

Points of order respecting procedure must be raised promptly. As a point of order concerns the interpretation of the rules of procedure, it is the responsibility of the Speaker to determine its merits and to resolve the issue.

In raising a point of order, a Member should only state the rule or practice he or she considers to have been breached. The Speaker has the duty to preserve order and decorum and to decide any matter of procedure that may arise. The Chair is also bound to call the attention of the House to an irregularity in debate or procedure immediately, without waiting for the intervention of a Member. In addition, the Speaker decides questions of order once they arise and not in anticipation. When a point of order is raised such as the one that we have before us now, raised by the Member for Mackenzie Delta, I will attempt to rule on the matter immediately. However, if necessary, the Chair may take the matter under advisement and come back to the House later with a formal ruling.

I felt it was important to clarify the procedure for dealing with a point of order prior to hearing debate on the point of order raised today. In hearing a point of order, and if it is not clear to the Chair whether there has been an infraction, I may permit debate on the point of order.

Our Rule 24 permits the Member who has been called to order, in this case, the Minister for the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation, Mr. Allen, to explain.

Therefore, to the point of order before me today, the House has heard the point of order raised by the Member for Mackenzie Delta. I would now permit the Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes, Mr. Allen, to speak to the point of order. The rules also allow the Speaker to hear from other Members who may wish to speak to the point of order.

To the point of order. The Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes, Mr. Allen, do you wish to speak to the point of order?

Item 1: Prayer March 27th, 2000

Good afternoon, Members, and welcome to a new week. This week, Yellowknife is playing host to a group of hardy golfers. However, most of us know that it will be several weeks, if not months, before the golfers amongst us can actually take to the greens.

The group includes a long time friend of the North, Peter Gzowski, and other celebrities including the Northwest Territories own Joe "Pinto" Dragon, Paul Andrew, Rene Fumoleau, Suzette Montreuil, Diane Brookes, Fran Hurcomb and Pat Braden, the younger brother of our colleague, the Member for Great Slave, Bill Braden.

All are here to take part in the annual Peter Gzowski Invitational Golf Tournament being held March 29th on Frame Lake. This annual event raises money for literacy in the Northwest Territories and is hosted by the Northwest Territories Literacy Council.

The Council was founded in April 1990 to promote literacy in all of the official languages of the Northwest Territories. The money raised during this event is used to help fund projects that promote literacy in our communities across the NWT. Equally important is the awareness of literacy that this golf tournament creates by bringing celebrities such as On the Road Again's Wayne Rostad and Ernie Coombs, better known as Mr. Dress-up, into communities to promote reading and literacy.

This year's tournament is the 11th annual in the Northwest Territories, and it is the second time that Yellowknife has hosted the event. We owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Gzowski and all the celebrities who have participated in the 11 years, for the funding that they have raised for literacy and perhaps, more importantly, for the awareness they have created about this issue.

I have invited the celebrities to join us in the Assembly later today. During the break, they will join us in the Great Hall for tea and bannock. I have also arranged for a small putting range to be put in the Great Hall and I hope to see some of you golfers among us out there demonstrating your skills and swings. Thank you.

I wish to inform the House that I have reviewed the unedited Hansard for Friday, March 24th, and would like to make a correction for the record.

Under the item written questions, the Member for Thebacha, Mr. Miltenberger, addressed the same written questions to two different Ministers. The questions are in order. Therefore, I have ordered that they be recorded as written questions 11 and 12. This is to assist with tracking of the questions. Thank you. Item 2, Ministers' statements. The honourable Minister responsible for the Department of Finance, Mr. Handley.

Item 1: Prayer March 22nd, 2000

Thank you, Mr. Bell. Please be seated. Members of the House, before we begin our day, I have a message from Her Majesty the Queen, Head of the Commonwealth.

It is highly appropriate that the theme of Commonwealth Day at the start of the new millennium should be The Communications Challenge. For much of the millennium just ended, the challenge was to relay information as speedily and accurately as possible. What once took weeks, is now instantaneous.

But the advances in technology bring a new challenge of how to use rapid communication responsibly and for the common good. We have to strive to ensure that the advantages of modern communication systems are available to all, and are used to bring us all closer together, not to create fresh divisions. And we need to remember that exciting though the new ways of communicating undoubtedly are, what matters most is what we say to each other.

The Commonwealth is an organization so diverse and widespread that it has always depended on good communications, which are helped, of course, by having a common language. Recent advances in communication technology are particularly helpful in fostering the non-governmental networks, which help to make the Commonwealth so unique.

The exchange of information and sharing of experiences between representatives of civil society in the different countries form an important part of the Commonwealth's activities at the start of the 21st century. Both in these networks, and in our cooperation at government level, our shared values and traditions provide a foundation for using the new technology to our common advantage.

The challenge for the century just started, will be to find ways to use ever faster communications to bring greater harmony and understanding both within each of our societies and between them, and thereby to strengthen the Commonwealth.

Elizabeth R.

Orders of the day. Item 2, Ministers' statements. The honourable Premier, Mr. Kakfwi.