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'Make us proud,' MLAs are told
Standing committee in Inuvik hears demand for public and private morality

Stewart Burnett
Northern News Services
Thursday, December 15, 2016

Only a handful of people showed up for a standing committee meeting in Inuvik late last month but the resounding message MLAs heard was "make us proud of you."

NNSL photo/graphic

Territorial politicians visited Inuvik late last month as part of a standing committee on rules and procedures for MLAs. From left to right are Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh MLA Tom Beaulieu, Nahendeh MLA Shane Thompson, Frame Lake MLA Kevin O'Reilly and Yellowmife Centre MLA Julie Green. - Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo

Georgina Jacobson-Masazumi, from Tuktoyaktuk, was representing the Status of Women Council

but also speaking for herself. She was one of only two people to give input to the committee.

Her comments centred on urging MLAs to uphold a high moral standard. She pointed to "zero tolerance" signs in just about every public building and said the same should hold true for MLAs and their behaviour.

"You are the ambassadors for the NWT and Canada and you are representing the people," said Jacobson-Masazumi. "Behave and act as such."

That extends to enforcing a high moral standard on each other, she added. If MLAs see another drunk on the streets, they should tell that person to watch his or her behaviour.

"We want moral ethics not only in public but in your home," she said.

'Make us proud'

"You put yourself out there, you make sure that you behave as such. Make us proud of you wherever you go."

MLAs should also be able to help citizens who fear retribution or retaliation from government officials in their home communities, she added.

"Some of the young women and families have fear of retaliation from the powers that be, and I think that our MLAs should be accessible," said Jacobson-Masazumi.

"They should come to our communities and they should be talking to the ones who are in fear or have that fear of retaliation from the people who deliver the services to us."

The meeting also went into boundary jumping, when a politician runs for a territory he or she does not reside in, and criminal records.

Frame Lake MLA Kevin O'Reilly said he understands the concerns about boundary jumping, but in a place like Yellowknife, the actual boundary could be across the street, so the question of whether or not a politician is truly representing his or her riding is not so clear cut.

On being able to run for office with a criminal record, Nahendah MLA Shane Thompson said MLAs struggle with that question.

Touring the territory

"Society says when you've served your time, you've repented and you've moved forward, then you should be allowing them to continue with their direction in life," he said.

The committee was touring the territory for public input.

O'Reilly said he expects to give his final report at the sitting of the legislative assembly late January through February.

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