Monfwi MLA Jackson Lafferty to resign from N.W.T. legislature

In a CKLB Tłı̨chǫ language interview, Monfwi MLA Jackson Lafferty announced he would be resigning his seat in the Legislative Assembly.

Former deputy premier, Speaker, sat in legislature since 2005, fierce critic of cabinet since 2019

In a CKLB Tłı̨chǫ language interview, Monfwi MLA Jackson Lafferty announced he would be resigning his seat in the Legislative Assembly. (Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada)

Monfwi MLA Jackson Lafferty today told CKLB radio that he intends to resign from his seat in the Legislative Assembly Friday.

In a Tłı̨chǫ language interview with CKLB radio host Mary Rose Blackduck, Lafferty said he made this decision after discussion with family and community members. He said he intends to make his decision official tomorrow in the Legislative Assembly.

Lafferty did not confirm he would stand for Tłı̨chǫ Grand Chief in the upcoming election, but he did say he has received many requests to do just that.

He was not immediately available for an interview.

Lafferty has sat in the legislature since 2005, when he won his seat in a byelection in the North Slave district. After a re-districting, he was then re-elected in the Monfwi constituency, which he has represented since. 

After being re-elected in 2011, Lafferty was elected to cabinet, sitting as deputy premier and Minister of Education, Culture and Employment over his term. He ran unopposed in 2015 and was elected as Speaker of the assembly. 

After running unopposed again in 2019, Lafferty was unsuccessful in a bid for premier, ultimately losing in the final vote of a runoff to Caroline Cochrane.

Sitting as a regular member, he was a regular critic of cabinet, notably being kicked out of the legislature for a day last March after refusing to apologize following allegations that Cochrane overstepped her authority when she fired the former president of Aurora College.

He's also been a strong advocate for the use of Indigenous languages in the assembly, an issue that came to a head in 2020, the day before he declined to apologize for his allegations against the premier.

Observing that the Tłı̨chǫ language interpreter was not in the legislature that day, he asked that the house be shut down, then raised a point of privilege with the Speaker, who ruled it was indeed a breach of privilege. 

A standing committee later recommended that the Speaker "give strong consideration" to closing or suspending the house if a similar situation arises in future. 

Lafferty was one of the few N.W.T. MLAs to regularly speak an Indigenous language in the house. 

Once he openly declares his resignation in the legislative assembly, which is expected to happen Friday, Lafferty's resignation is immediate.

It will be up to the N.W.T.'s Chief Election Officer to determine the date for a byelection in the Monfwi riding, which includes the Tłı̨chǫ communities of Behchokǫ, Whati, Wekweeti and Gameti.

With files from Cecilia Boyd