N.W.T. Speaker to rule on decorum issue

The N.W.T. Speaker is expected to rule next week whether the MLA for Yellowknife Centre broke house rules during a question period earlier this week.

Minister says MLA used aggressive and insulting tone in question period

Several MLAs say the tone of discussion in the territorial legislature hasn't been at the level it should be lately. 2:28

The N.W.T. Speaker is expected to rule next week whether the MLA for Yellowknife Centre broke house rules during a question period earlier this week. 

Finance Minister Michael Miltenberger says Robert Hawkins used an aggressive and insulting tone when questioning Health Minister Tom Beaulieu about pairing social workers with RCMP patrols in downtown Yellowknife. 

Hawkins had said Beaulieu should step down from cabinet if he's not going to show more leadership.

"Who is in charge over at this department? . . .We'll welcome you back in great arms because we'll put someone over there who wants to do the job because this minister doesn't," Hawkins said.

One of the rules of the legislative assembly is not to create disorder by using insulting or abusive language.

"There are limits in this chamber and we pride ourselves on decorum of this house, the propriety in the way we do business," said Miltenberger. "We hold ourselves above other legislatures. Our rules have been contravened."

Hawkins responded by saying he was just doing his job and couldn't help getting a little fired up.

"I have every right to call the minister out for not doing the job," he said. "The public demands it. I stand by the fact that this passion must be brought to the job, and sometimes it elevates the tone and the volume."

Another one of Hawkins' questions prompted Speaker Jackie Jacobson to interrupt debate on Thursday. 

"I'm going to remind the members again this is not a soapbox to step on to make anybody look bad," he said. "You've got to remember to try to work together. Start working together."

Earlier on Thursday, Jacobson ruled Nahendeh MLA Kevin Menicoche didn't break any rules when he made light of Yellowknife not getting much in this year's infrastructure budget. 

He said comments can be considered offensive without restricting MLAs' abilities to do their job.


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