N.W.T. MLAs pass motion to create lobbyist registry

Northwest Territories MLAs passed a motion Thursday calling for a lobbyist registry in the territory — 'a motion whose time has come,' says Frame Lake MLA Wendy Bisaro.

'The old adage, making a mountain out of a molehill, comes to mind,' says Premier Bob McLeod

Northwest Territories MLAs passed a motion yesterday calling for a lobbyist registry in the territory, which would list meetings between elected officials and people paid to influence them.

Members of cabinet abstained from voting on the motion, which was introduced by Range Lake MLA Daryl Dolynny.

Sahtu MLA Norman Yakeleya also abstained from voting.

Range Lake MLA Daryl Dolynny in the N.W.T. legislative assembly. He introduced a motion Thursday calling for the territory to create a lobbyist registry. (Chantal Dubuc/CBC)

"It's a motion for a territory whose time has come," said Wendy Bisaro, MLA for Frame Lake.

"There have been concerns in the past about people who have been making entreaties to cabinet, to ministers, to MLAs. There have been concerns they may not have been doing them in a truly moral or ethical manner."

MLAs have asked the government to look into setting up an online database, which would allow the public to see who is meeting with politicians, and what they are meeting about. Alfred Moses, MLA for Inuvik Boot Lake, says the registry could even be useful in-house.

"I think a lobbyist registry would give me some answers, and the public some answers, on how contracts are negotiated and how this government makes their decisions," he said.

There were some concerns from the floor about a registry. Premier Bob McLeod said that based on rules from other jurisdictions, there are only a handful of paid lobbyists in the territory to begin with.

"The old adage, making a mountain out of a molehill, comes to mind," he said.

Premier McLeod recommended the next government look into setting up a registry after this year's election. 

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