Who cares about devolution? And have people been given a reason to care? That was a topic of debate Wednesday in the N.W.T. legislature between Premier Bob McLeod and Bob Bromley, MLA for Weledeh.
Almost a year ago, McLeod said the government would find more ways to interact with the public about devolution and what it means for them. But aside from a website, there have been no public meetings to hash over the complicated legislation the government inherited — as is — from the federal government.
'The second one related to legal obligations for those wishing to bring pet monkeys to the Northwest Territories.' - Bob McLeod
Bromley says he wants the government to release plain language summaries of all the acts and regulations it inherited.
"The outreach to the citizenry on the seven substantial acts is limited to a few newspaper ads inviting people to go to the website and fight their way to menus to go to a place where they can purportedly leave comments and ask questions," he said.
He said constituents are complaining that response times to questions posted on the website is "glacial."
"What we need is a meaningful consultation, a meaningful interaction. A back and forth. A discussion. Who is going to have a meaningful interaction between the screen and themselves?"
McLeod said Bromley is exaggerating the public's interest in devolution.
"The member is suggesting that there's a groundswell of people from the public who can't wait to respond and review all this legislation," he said. "But I see no evidence of that."
McLeod said a total of two questions from the public about legislation were submitted through the government's devolution website.
"The first one related to directors' liabilities," he said. "The second one related to legal obligations for those wishing to bring pet monkeys to the Northwest Territories."
Bromley responded that the "lack of interest is not real lack of interest. It's a lack of opportunity to engage."
McLeod said cabinet will release a summary report on suggested changes to the legislation before the end of this session.