Northwest Territories MLAs officially passed a bill yesterday that will keep the number of seats in the legislature at 19 and combine part of the Weledeh riding with Tu Nedhe — but not without some last-minute opposition.
MLAs voted 10 to 7 in favour of the change back in November, after reviewing a report by the Electoral Boundaries Commission, which included the option of cutting one seat or adding two more.
The vote was 11 for and seven against, but before the vote took place, the MLAs for Tu Nedhe and Weledeh both made one last plea to stop the move.
Tu Nedhe MLA Tom Beaulieu says residents have concerns about the Yellowknives Dene communities being grouped together with Lutsel'ke and Fort Resolution, because it would be nearly impossible to have a representative that could speak both the Weledeh and Chipewyan languages.
“They do not think this is a good idea,” he said. “They want to have representation in the house. We have several official languages... how this assembly could contemplate eliminating the possibility of having one of those official languages in the house is beyond me.”
Beaulieu also says small remote communities have different needs and a different culture that communities next to Yellowknife.
He preferred an option that would have added a new seat in Behchoko and Yellowknife... increasing the number of MLAs to 21.
Weledeh MLA Bob Bromley also spoke against the bill.
“It deserves repeating that the people of Weledeh, the people of Tu Nedhe, the representative of Weledeh and the representative of Tu Nedhe disagree with this, and those are the people that are being affected here.”