North

N.W.T. MLA demands apology for premier's 'colonialist' comparison of MLAs to children

Monfwi MLA Jackson Lafferty said the premier’s comparison of MLAs and the public to children was a “disgraceful and contemptuous affront against all of our people.”

Monfwi MLA Jackson Lafferty said comparison of MLAs to children was ‘disgraceful,’ ‘contemptuous’

Monfwi MLA Jackson Lafferty called for an apology from the premier on Facebook Wednesday for an extended analogy in which she compared cabinet to parents deciding where their children go to school. (Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada)

An N.W.T. MLA is demanding an apology from the territory's premier after she drew comparisons between regular MLAs and children, calling her remarks "disgraceful and contemptuous."

In a speech to reporters Tuesday, Premier Caroline Cochrane presented an extended analogy to explain why she was not always "transparent" in her decision making.

Cochrane compared cabinet to parents deciding where their children should go to school.

"When the parents are just sitting down talking about that, is that the time you want your child in?" she asked.

In a Facebook post Wednesday evening, Monfwi MLA Jackson Lafferty called those comments "deeply troubling".

"I am offended that our premier would refer to the people of the Northwest Territories as 'children' who must be misled in order to protect them from so-called 'mass confusion,'" he wrote.

Pointing to the N.W.T.'s recent history of colonial rule, Lafferty suggested the comments demonstrated "a return to colonialist attitudes that could jeopardize the future of the very North itself."

"I believe that all northerners are capable of understanding the challenges of our government and do not need to be spoon-fed half-truths from elected leaders," he wrote.

"I am calling on Premier Cochrane to withdraw her remarks and publicly apologize for her disrespectful words that make a mockery of our democracy and cast our citizens in the role of children," the post concludes.

When reached by CBC, Lafferty declined to comment.

'It is clear ... that my intent was misinterpreted,' Cochrane wrote in a statement. (Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada)

Premier: 'I apologize if anyone was offended'

In a written statement in response to a query from CBC News, Cochrane said she "disagree[s] with his interpretation" of her remarks.

"At the time my own family were having these discussions about sending our grandchild to junior kindergarten and I thought it was something that most people could relate to," she said.

Cochrane said her intent was to emphasize the importance of "a safe and confidential space" to discuss ideas before they can be "communicated to the public clearly."

"It is clear however, that my intent was misinterpreted by some and I apologize if anyone was offended," she said.

Lafferty has been a vocal critic of the premier since failing in his own bid for the seat last year.

In March, he was ejected from the assembly for refusing to apologize to the premier after accusing her of breaking the law in firing Aurora College president Tom Weegar.

Lafferty also criticized the premier during an emergency session to remove her infrastructure minister, Katrina Nokleby, saying Cochrane had left his constituents "confused and frustrated" by her "unilateral decision." 

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

now