Legislative Assembly Breakdown in communication

by Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

NNSL (OCT 09/96) - Letting managers manage is one thing, but this time cabinet went too far.

That was the outcome of debate on changes cabinet made to the budget for construction projects.

"Basically what it means to us is there was a breakdown in communication," said premier Don Morin, when asked about the affect of a motion to censure cabinet over their juggling budgeted projects.

The motion, introduced Friday and put to a vote Monday, reprimanded cabinet for the manner in which it made changes to the budget.

All ordinary members (MLAs outside of cabinet, apart from the Speaker) supported the motion. All cabinet ministers abstained.

Jake Ootes (left), chairman of the ordinary members caucus, said the budget changes were an example of how cabinet sometimes needs to be reminded of the basics of consensus government.

"It did warrant a strong statement. The censure let cabinet know that we disapproved of the way money was moved around," said the member for Yellowknife Centre.

"We're in a consensus system and when cabinet digresses, we (ordinary members) have an obligation to remind them they have to be responsive to all people."

The motion to censure cabinet was accompanied by two others. Voting was identical for all three motions.

The first motion called upon cabinet to develop and adopt a policy, before Nov. 1, that applies to capital projects over $250,000 not included in the budget.

Prior to such projects proceeding, cabinet is to consult with the riding's MLA and the appropriate standing committee. Emergency situations will be excepted.

The second motion put on hold for at least a year a $1,055,000 recreation centre slated to be built in Fort Simpson.

The facility was not included in the budget. The money for it had been moved from building an alternate access road to the island community.

When Fort Simpson leaders said they needed a recreation centre more than the access road, the government, following its community empowerment initiative, applied the money to a community centre.

Today Fort Simpson has neither.