Politicians of the Northwest Territories are back in action today for their first full session since last November’s election.
Though technically the second session of the 18th Assembly, the next two weeks are the first chance for the current crop of 19 MLAs to pick through issues affecting the territory in a public forum.
Eleven of the 19 will be making their debut in day-to-day public politics at territorial level, while four new members of the cabinet will receive a first public test since their appointment: education minister Alfred Moses, women’s minister Caroline Cochrane, environment and transportation minister Wally Schumann, and justice minister Louis Sebert.
Bob McLeod returns to the legislature as Premier of the Northwest Territories following his unprecedented re-election to the post.
In a document published in December, MLAs identified the following priorities for the next four years:
- Improving transparency, accountability and collaboration in government
- Working to help residents combat the cost of living
- Finding more opportunities for education, training and youth development
- Improving community wellness and safety
- Leading economic diversification and environmental stewardship
How the territory goes about delivering on those priorities will be crystallized on Thursday in the form of a mandate delivered by NWT Commissioner George Tuccaro. That mandate will spell out more detailed plans addressing the above issues.
The territory’s politicians may be buoyed by this week’s news that the federal government is reinstating a large chunk of funding taken away through a statistical change late last year – though not all of the funding has been returned.
Proceedings at the legislature are open to the public, with Thursday’s first day beginning at 1:30pm. The action continues from Monday to Thursday until March 3, with one Friday session – February 19 – which traditionally begins in the morning.
The first session of the 18th Assembly, on December 17, lasted only one day and served a primarily administrative purpose.