At the Legislature
House is on an extended adjournment

Daniel MacIsaac
Northern News Services

NNSL (Mar 31/99) - The territorial legislature has sat for the last time before division tomorrow.

Speaker Sam Gargan dismissed members Monday afternoon after a session that began March 16. The house is on an extended adjournment and, barring an emergency, will reconvene April 13 as an all-Western assembly.

As Yellowknife MLA Jake Ootes noted Monday, the house dealt with a large amount of legislation in a short period of time, passing 14 bills that dealt mainly with division-related "housekeeping" legislation.

Bill 15 on electoral boundaries and Bill 16 on a pension pay-out remain to be settled, still out before the Committee of Government Operations.

Ootes said when the assembly -- comprised of the premier, five cabinet ministers and eight members -- reconvenes, it will be able to get on with the business of dealing with the new Northwest Territories.

"We'll really be able to focus in on Western issues and bring resolution quickly," he said. "The issues won't have to be as broad as when we were dealing with this huge, expansive territory."

Ootes said the reassembled house would most likely sit for several weeks and have to immediately deal with the 1999-2000 budget, debating allocations and hearing reports by each of the territory's 10 departments.

MLAs go home

The territorial legislature bid farewell to its Eastern Arctic ministers and members Friday, their last day in the house before leaving for home and the launch of Nunavut.

"I want to say mahsi cho," said Premier Jim Antoine in a address to the house.

"I am just saying in my own language that we are going to continue to be neighbours, that we will continue to see each other and we will be working with each other for the years in the future."

The 10 members began handing in their official resignations last week, and the premier accepted those of his deputy, Goo Arlooktoo, and Finance Minister John Todd on Monday.

"On behalf of our cabinet, I would like to say to these two ministers that we are grateful for your work, your sacrifices and your inspiration," said Antoine on Monday. <