N.W.T. legislators head back Tuesday as cabinet faces midterm review

A midterm review of the performance of N.W.T. cabinet ministers over the first two years of their term will get underway Tuesday.

1st midterm review in 20 years sets up 'halftime' for 18th Legislative Assembly

The Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly reconvenes for its fall sitting Tuesday. The main focus is a midterm review of cabinet ministers. (Mitch Wiles/CBC)

A midterm review of the performance of N.W.T. cabinet ministers over the first two years of their term begins Tuesday.

It will be the first midterm review since the 12th assembly, with cabinet ministers defending their performance to regular MLAs over 10 days of questioning.

Then a secret-ballot vote by all MLAs will be held to determine whether individual ministers and cabinet as a whole have the confidence of the legislature.

Though a no-confidence vote doesn't necessarily mean the minister would be removed, ministers who lose the confidence of the legislature could be expected to resign. 

This summer, cabinet and a committee of regular MLAs released different reports grading cabinet's progress.

According to cabinet's report, the government achieved 40 of its 200 goals set out in the mandate, with progress on 153 others and the remaining seven in the planning stage.

But regular MLAs, assembled as the priorities and planning committee, judged progress on each task with grades of Good, Satisfactory, Poor and Fail.

The committee rated cabinet's performance as "Poor" on 49 tasks and gave it a "Fail" grade on three.

Legislative 'halftime'

Yellowknife MLA Kieron Testart, who represents the riding of Kam Lake, described the midterm review as "halftime" for the 18th legislative assembly, two years into its four-year term. 

Testart said three cabinet ministers are on the hot seat: Justice Minister Louis Sebert, who is also minister for public engagement and transparency; Health and Social Services Minister Glen Abernethy; and Minister of Education, Culture and Employment Alfred Moses.

"Mental health continues to be on the minds of many Northerners — the 'A New Day Program' and how it rolled out, it was controversial … and the changes to Aurora College and the roll out of junior kindergarten, those are issues we can all see," Testart said.

CBC News contacted a spokesperson for the cabinet to arrange an interview with a cabinet minister, but no one was made available by Monday evening.

The review continues until early October when the confidence votes for cabinet as a whole and individual ministers takes place.

The legislature will then break for a week for the Thanksgiving holiday, before reconvening to finish the sitting.