Northwest Territories. Legislative Assembly fonds

Title Northwest Territories. Legislative Assembly fonds
Dates of creation 1877-2015
Physical description ca. 44.7 m of textual material and other material
Administrative history or biographical sketch As the primary body of elected officials, the Legislative Assembly is empowered to pass new laws, amend existing laws, determine how public monies are expended, and approve policies and programs. Elections are held every four years and following the elections, the members of the Legislative Assembly elect from among themselves a Speaker of the House, a Premier and the members of the Executive Council. The members of the Executive Council, the Ministers, are assigned portfolios by the Premier and are responsible for managing the various departments and agencies of the Government of the Northwest Territories. Typically this includes introducing new legislation, setting budgets and setting government direction. Prior to 1979, the Legislative Assembly was known as the NWT Council, or Council of the Northwest Territories.

From the late 19th century and into the early portion of the 20th century, the Northwest Territories encompassed the northern and central parts of Canada and was governed by a 22 member Legislative Assembly, led by an Executive Council. Following the creation of the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan in 1905, the Northwest Territories Act of 1905, provided for a four-member appointed Council to assist the Commissioner in the administration the Northwest Territories. No members were appointed to the Council until 1921.

The Northwest Territories Act was later amended to expand the Council to include six members. Initially, the members of Council were senior civil servants representing departments that had interest in the north were appointed to the Council. The first northern resident was appointed to the Council in 1947. In 1951, the first three electoral districts were created. The Council's membership was expanded to eight members, three of whom were elected representatives and five remained appointees. The NWT Act amendments also required Council to hold at least two sessions a year, one of them in the north. Further amendments increased the Council's legislative and financial powers. By 1955, Council could authorize the Commissioner to make agreements with the federal government, subject to Ottawa's approval and they could use a separate Northwest Territories revenue account, as long as a deficit was not created. The amendments also allowed the Commissioner to control some public lands, created a Territorial Court, and repealed major part of the NWT Act so that territorial ordinances could take their place.

In 1958, the Council received the power to borrow money subject to federal approval and by 1960 the Council had the power to pass game laws affecting Dene and Inuit. A fourth elected member was added in 1954, as Council membership rose to nine. The size remained the same until 1966, when the first electoral districts were created outside of the Mackenzie. In 1960, the first members from outside the civil service were appointed.

In 1964, separate offices for the Government of the Northwest Territories were created; the position of Commissioner became a full-time appointment and the task of building a headquarters that would eventually move north began. A year later, the naming of the Deputy Commissioner became a separate Governor-in-Council appointment and his duties were made full-time. By 1964, four of the five appointees to the nine-member Council were from the private sector; the Deputy Commissioner remained as the only civil servant appointee to the Council.

In 1965, the first Inuit member of Council was appointed and the following year, the Council's elected membership increased from four to seven as electoral districts were created in the Keewatin, High Arctic and Eastern Arctic. In that year the Commissioner-in-Council was given authority to set qualifications for electors and candidates, and a separate Consolidated Revenue Fund for the Northwest Territories was set up within the Consolidated Revenue Fund of Canada.

The Carrothers Report recommended that northern residents be given a greater degree of self-government, but felt that the Northwest Territories should not be divided at that time. In 1967, the territorial government moved to the new capital of Yellowknife, as the Report had recommended.

In 1970, the Northwest Territories Act was amended again and Council's elected membership increased to 10 and the appointed membership decreased from five to four. Council's term of office was increased to four years from three and the Commissioner-in-Council was authorized to set members' indemnities and allowances and the period in which Ottawa could disallow territorial legislation was cut from two years to one.

The Seventh Council, which included the first elected Dene member, two Inuit members and a Metis member, took office early in 1971. The first fully-elected Council since 1905 took office in 1975. This Council was given the authority to elect its own Speaker and to name two elected members to the Executive Committee (a third was added a year later).

In 1979, the NWT Council was renamed the Legislative Assembly. As the chief political body it is composed of non-partisan elected officials representing all residents of the Northwest Territories.

The Legislative Assembly operates according to standard parliamentary procedures with some modifications. The Assembly frequently refers questions to the Committee of the Whole where informal discussion takes place. The Legislative Assembly establishes standing and special committees in order to gather information and public opinion on different issues. The standing or permanent committees on finance, public accounts and legislation carry out a majority of the work of the Legislative Assembly. Sessions are usually held twice yearly for approximately 12 weeks. The official seven languages of the Northwest Territories (English, French, Chipewyan, Slavey, Dogrib, Gwich'in and Inuktitut) are used in the Legislative Assembly with interpretation services provided by the GNWT Language Bureau.

Between 1980-1981, the Legislative Assembly provided all administrative and support services to the Assembly, to the Standing and Special Committees and to individual Members of the Legislative Aassembly (MLAs) throughout the year. Its budget included provision for all indemnities and allowances, including those related to the activities of the MLAs. Initially, the main task of the Legislative Assembly was to work toward responsible government and ultimately to attain provincehood for the Northwest Territories. The Clerk's office worked closely with the office of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada during elections, when electoral districts were being established and members were being elected.

As the Legislative Assembly evolved, the Deputy Commissioner position was removed from the Executive in 1983. The Legislative Assembly budget increased and provided for additional activities of the Legislative Assembly, including retiring allowances for MLAs, the costs of holding sessions of the Assembly and the meetings of Standing and Special Committees. The Standing and Special have concentrated on such matters as the Constitution of Canada, Division of the Northwest Territories, and Constitutional Development in the Western portion of the Territories and Electoral District Boundaries.

Between 1990-1991, the mandate of the Legislative Assembly was as follows: The Speaker and Clerk of the Legislative Assembly were responsible for all activities of the Legislative Assembly. The administration of the Office of the Legislative Assembly and the Office of the Clerk adhered to the Executive Council Act and the Legislative Assembly Retiring Allowances Act. The Acts represented the legal mandate of the Legislative Assembly. The Management and Services Board, in accordance with the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act, provided the legal and administrative structure for the Legislative Assembly. The Office of the Clerk provided research, financial, administrative, committee, and public affairs support to members of the Legislative Assembly. Between 1992-1993, the Legislative Assembly Retiring Allowances Act, the Supplementary Retiring Allowances Act, the Elections Act and Official Languages Act were added to the legal mandate of the Legislative Assembly.

Prior to 1993, the Legislative Assembly operated from temporary and leased premises. With the opening of the new Legislative building in 1993, the services delivered by the Assembly expanded. The Clerk provided advice and support to the Speaker and Members on procedural and administrative matters, managed the Legislative Assembly offices, coordinated the provision of legal services to the Speaker, Members, Committees, Management and Services Board and coordinated the duties of the Sergeant-at-Arms and the Pages.

The House and Committee Services provided procedural advice to the Speaker, Chairmen, Committees and Members of the Assembly, managed support services, maintained house records, produced House documents, and managed the Hansard service and the language services, which included the translation of House documents.

The Research and Information Services provided research services to Members and Committees, provided information and reference services through the Legislative and Government Library, provided public information about the Legislative Assembly and assisted Members in the preparation of public information materials.

The Finance and Administration division provided financial and administrative support to the Legislative Assembly, human resource management services, coordinated the management of pension plan for Members, provided administrative support to Members and administrative and financial support to Office of the Languages Commissioner.

The Facilities Management division provided overall management of the Legislative Assembly building and facilities by providing security, maintenance and janitorial services.

The Elections NWT program provided for the administration of Elections and Plebiscites and the Office of the Languages Commissioner provided for the independent operation of the Language Commissioner.

In 1994-1995, the services provided by the Legislative Assembly were condensed to form the following programs. The Office of the Clerk, Office of the Speaker, Expenditures on Behalf of Members, Office of the Chief Electoral Officer and the Commissioner of Official Languages.

The Office of the Clerk included the Clerk’s Office, Deputy Clerk’s Office, Finance and Administration, Research and Library Services, Sessions and Committees. Through these various units the Office of the Clerk managed and directed the Legislative Assembly Office and provided advice and support to the Speaker and Members on procedural and administrative matters, as well as provided visitor services, public information and language services. Through the Research and Library Section, research and reference services were provided to individual Members, Standing and Special Committees, and to the Clerk’s Office and Deputy Clerk’s Office. The Sessions and Committee Units provided funding for the administration of session, provision of Hansard service and funded the administration of all Committees of the Legislative Assembly. Between 1999-2000, the Finance and Administration section was renamed Corporate Services to include financial management, human resources, electronic data processing, office automation, information services and the overall management of the Legislative Building and its facilities. Between 2003-2004, the Research and Library Services was separated into two distinct functions: Research Services and Library Services.

The Office of the Speaker is responsible for developing policies on the overall control and operation of the Office of the Legislative Assembly as Chair of the Management and Services Board. The Speaker is the official representative of the Legislative Assembly at Provincial/Territorial, Federal and International functions.

The Expenditures on Behalf of Members activity provides allowances, per diems, indemnities, pension administration, as well as salaries for Member's constituency assistants.

The Office of the Chief Electoral Officer conducts and administers general elections, by-elections and plebiscites in the Northwest Territories according to legislation enacted by the Legislative Assembly. This office is responsible to educate and inform eligible electors and candidates in the Northwest Territories of their democratic rights accorded to them in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Commissioner of Official Languages is responsible for ensuring that the rights, status and privileges of all Official Languages in the Northwest Territories are complied with within the spirit of the Official Languages Act. The Languages Commissioner is responsible for tabling an annual report to the Legislative Assembly that details the activities undertaken and achieved by the office.

In 2004, the NWT Human Rights Commission was established by the enactment of the NWT Human Rights Act. Members of the Commission are appointed by the Legislative Assembly for a term of four years. The Director is an officer of the Commission and is also appointed by the Legislative Assembly for a four year term. Adjucation of complaints/disputs rests with the NWT Human Rights Adjucation Panel, a separate entity.
Scope and content This fonds consists of approximately 44.7 meters of textual records, 5,810 black and white and colour photographs in print, negative, and slide format; 7 microfilm reels and 3.5 cm of microfiche; 1 VHS videocassette, 1 scroll, 80 audio reels, 80 DAT tapes and 118 audio cassettes.

The bulk of the textual records are made up of official records from the Legislative Assembly dated between 1951-2015 from the 1st through the 17th Legislative Assemblies/Councils of the Northwest Territories. Included in this material are Hansard (including indices and appendices), Tabled Documents, Motions, Written Questions, Return to Written Questions, Petitions, Committee Reports, Bills, Budget Addresses, Speeches, Debates (including some indices), Sessional Papers, Appropriations, Recommendations to Council, References for Advice, Information Items, Monthly Letters, Supplementary Notes, Legislation, a selection of Commissioner's Opening Addresses, and Votes and Proceedings summaries.

The textual records are also comprised of signed minutes from the Northwest Territories Council (1921-1951), minutes from the Yellowknife Board of Trustees, bound minutes, ordinances and session papers from the Northwest Territories Council (1922-1950) and Orders in Council (1883-1932). Textual records also include correspondence, letters, biographical sketches of members of the Legislative Assembly, as well as promotional material collected by the Public Affairs Office concerning the 1979 election.

In addition, there are textual records related to the Advisory Committee on the Development of the GNWT, work of the Special Committee on Constitutional Development, the Special Committee on the Division of the NWT Special Committee on the Northern Economy (SCONE), Standing Committee on Public Accounts, Special Committee on Housing and Standing Committee on Agencies, Boards and Commissions. There is also a small amount of textual records, including planning committee material, that deal with the opening of the Legislative Assembly building in 1993.

There are also pamphlets and brochures from the late 1970s and early 1980s on a variety of topics, including the Legislative Assembly's operations, symbology, projects, interest in the pipeline and talks of forming a new territory (Nunavut). There are published reports on priorities for the North, administrative structure for Nunavut, a spousal assault task force report, and a Denedeh government proposal for restructuring of the Government of the Northwest Territories. There are also rules of the preceding body, the Council of the Northwest Territories, as well as the rules of the Assembly from 1984 to 1991. Also included in this accession are ordinances dated 1888 and 1895 and bound ordinances dating 1950 through 1981. There is also a book of statutes from 1985.

The textual records from the Elections NWT office includes material concerning electoral boundaries, as well as guidelines, correspondence, poster and press releases related to the Nunavut Capital public vote and the public vote on the Guaranteed Equal Representation of Men and Women in the Nunavut Legislative Assembly. There are also Reports of the Chief Electoral Officer and the Official Voting Results reports for the 2003 and 2007 General Elections, Returns to the Writ from the 2003, 2007 and 2011 General Elections, Proclamations and Grants of Poll from the 2007 General Election, polling boundary descriptions from the 2003 and 2007 General Elections, and the original tallies of votes from the polling districts and boxes from the 2007 General Election.

The textual records from the office of the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly includes materials related to conflict of interest and the Conflict of Interest Commissioner, as well as amendments to legislative Acts, the standing committee on legislation and a strategic planning workshop for MLAs regarding the government organization after division.

The textual records from the NWT Human Rights Commission includes meeting agendas and minutes of the Commission Members, as well as notes from a strategic planning session, and an informational package given to stakeholders that outlines the mission, structure, processes and function of the Commission.

The bulk of the photographs and slides are dated between 1968-1993 and cover topics such as Legislative Assembly Opening Ceremonies, Sessions, Elections, Committees, Plebiscite on Division, Tours of Communities, Special Events, Conferences, Health Services and Scenery. The remaining photographs depict members of the Northwest Territories Council, the Legislative Assembly and Commissioners of the Northwest Territories from 1905-1975, as well as the activities of the Office of the Languages Commissioner, which date from 2002-2004.

The VHS videocassette entitled "One Land, Many Voices" - making the new NWT Mace" was produced by Lone Woolf Productions in 2000.

The audio reels contain recordings of the 7th and 8th NWT Council and the 9th and 10th Legislative Assembly.

The microfiche consists of a complete record of Tabled Documents, Committee Reports and Petitions from the 10th Legislative Assembly which covered the years 1984-1987. The 7 microfilm reels contain copies of the Northwest Territories Council Minutes from 1921-1951 and an index to the Minutes.

The scroll was presented by David Welch, Ontario's Minister of Citizenship, on behalf of Premier John Robart to the Commissioner and Council of the Northwest Territories to commemorate the Northwest Territories Centennial in 1970.
Restrictions Access restricted under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
Copyright Copyright held by the Government of the Northwest Territories.
Physical description note ca. 44.7 meters of textual records; ca. 5800 photographs : b&w and col. prints, negatives, slides; 7 microfilm reels and 3.5 cm of microfiche; 1 scroll; 1 videocassette : VHS; 80 DAT tapes, 118 audiocassettes, 80 audio reels.
Finding aids Finding aids in various formats available; see accessions for details.
Reference # 322
Accessions list The fonds is comprised of the following accessions. Click any accession number below to see the accession description.
G-1979-005 G-1979-014
G-1979-016 G-1979-042
G-1985-008 G-1985-501
G-1989-514 G-1992-037
G-1993-004 G-1997-002
G-1998-001 G-1998-002
G-1998-003 G-1998-004
G-1998-005 G-1998-012
G-1999-058 G-1999-060
G-1999-061 G-1999-062
G-1999-063 G-1999-076
G-2000-004 G-2000-005
G-2000-012 G-2000-013
G-2000-019 G-2002-011
G-2002-013 G-2002-014
G-2003-004 G-2003-010
G-2003-014 G-2004-007
G-2004-011 G-2004-012
G-2004-013 G-2005-007
G-2005-009 G-2005-010
G-2005-012 G-2005-024
G-2006-015 G-2007-008
G-2007-046 G-2007-075
G-2008-022 G-2008-035
G-2009-041 G-2010-017
G-2010-029 G-2011-004
G-2011-012 G-2012-004
G-2012-005 G-2012-008
G-2012-025 G-2013-037
G-2013-067 G-2014-017
G-2015-030 G-2015-039
G-2016-021 G-2016-022
G-2017-026 G-2017-029