Bayly on board
Principal secretary brings wealth of experience

Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Jan 28/00) - John Bayly was not completely surprised when Premier Stephen Kakfwi offered him the top non-elected job in government.

"Three years ago we had a discussion about whether I would be interested in the job if he became premier," said the newly appointed principal secretary. "It was purely hypothetical at the time, but I said of course, it would be interesting to me.

"He, being a man of long memory, reminded me of that conversation when he offered me the job. After thinking about it for a while and talking to my wife, I accepted it."

Bayly first met Kakfwi when the two were living in Fort Good Hope, in the late '70s and early '80s. At the time Kakfwi was working on restructuring that community's government to better reflect Dene traditions.

Though Bayly has never worked directly for the territorial government, there are few that would be more qualified for the job of advising the premier and cabinet than the 54-year-old lawyer.

"I've been in the advising business, in one sense or another, for a quarter century," said Bayly. "I've given advice to governments, individuals and aboriginal groups."

Bayly first came North to Rankin Inlet in 1967. While there, whre he worked for the Department of Northern Affairs, he spent a fair amount of time on the radio telephone courting his wife, Cristine. She eventually left Toronto to join him in Rankin.

In the mid-'70s he started practising criminal law.

Asked why he decided to leave his successful law practice to enter the world of politics, Bayly said it was an opportunity he knew would not come his way again.

"Being asked to do something new and exciting and trying to apply my knowledge and experience to something that seems cohesive and new is, to me, very exciting," he said.

"I know the group that has become elected, I know virtually all of them. Cabinet is a nice blend of those with experience and those who are new, and I met and developed a quick liking for (newly-appointed secretary to cabinet) Liz Snider."

Bayly has been involved in most of the landmark events that have shaped the modern Northwest Territories. He represented the Inuvialuit and Inuit, Taparitsat of Canada during the Berger Commission Inquiry into the proposed Mackenzie Valley pipeline.

He represented the Dene and Metis for their ultimately unsuccessful attempt to develop a comprehensive land claim in the 1980s.

Since 1995, Bayly has represented the federal government in negotiation of self-government for the Gwich'in and Inuvialuit.

His law firm, Bayly Williams, has been involved in the implementation of the Nunavut land claim.

Along the way, he has overseen a thriving Yellowknife law practice, chaired the Denendeh Conservation Board, served two terms as president of the NWT Bar Association and as a member of the RCMP Public Complaints Commission, as well as chaired a government task force on spousal assault.