The territory's politicians are back – and they have a to-do list.
The legislature is in session for seven days, Thursday being the first of them. That means the NWT's various MLAs get together to debate whatever's topical and push on with various longstanding items.
In a speech to colleagues on Thursday, Premier Bob McLeod – fresh from presiding over a battlefield of a Western Premiers' Conference in Yellowknife this week – set out a list of things we can expect our ministers and regular MLAs to address over the next week or so.
McLeod's speech – the full version of which is reproduced here – included:
- Promising to introduce an Ombudsperson Act, which will ultimately give the NWT an office with the power to independently investigate complaints against public agencies – first called for a number of years ago;
- Legislation coming up that will let communities levy a tourism accommodation tax. Yellowknife, in particular, has been urging the territory to make this happen for some time and has mounted a coordinated publicity campaign to gain residents' support;
- A forthcoming report on the territory's mandate, aka the list of commitments politicians made to tackle various issues during this four-year term. McLeod said 79 commitments have been fulfilled, with the total number – fulfilled and outstanding – currently at 230;
- A pledge to discuss the comprehensive review of Aurora College during this session. The college's president resigned earlier this week and it is currently being run by a government-appointed administrator in lieu of its usual board of governors. The territory has now received a report from consultants hired to conduct this review, but did not immediately reply when asked by Cabin Radio if that report will be made public; and
- A commitment to discuss the legalization of cannabis and all associated legislation during the coming seven days of debates.
Looking ahead into the longer term, McLeod also mentioned:
- The territory will shepherd promised federal funding toward improving marine re-supply operations along the Mackenzie River and into the high Arctic;
- McLeod "hopes for positive news" regarding federal money to help develop the NWT's Mackenzie Valley Highway project. Cabin Radio understands the territory is expecting significantly better news than the denial of funding, at the first time of asking, for its similar Slave Geological Province highway project earlier this year (the territory will apply again in the near future); and
- He expects the Dehcho First Nations to "formally consider" a new land claims offer from the territory at their annual assembly in July.
Should you wish, you can catch each day of session broadcast live on the legislature's Facebook page. We'll bring you the most important news and discussions throughout.