Premier | Executive Council | Members | The Legislative Process
History of the Legislative Assembly | Operations of the Legislative Assembly
A Day in the Assembly | Building a Legislature | The Creation of the Northwest Territories
The Northwest Territories is one of only two federal, provincial or territorial jurisdictions in Canada that operate under the consensus system of government rather than the more familiar system of party politics. Within this system, all Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) are elected as independents in their constituencies.
Once elected, the Members travel to the Legislative Assembly where a territorial leadership meeting is held. After they meet, the first order of business is the secret ballot election of the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. This approach reflects the importance placed on the role of the Speaker.
After the election of the Speaker, Members turn their focus to the election of the Premier. Since the 12th Legislative Assembly, Members agreed to move the selection of the Premier into a public forum. In the selection process, candidates are nominated, then given 20 minutes to present their platforms, after which the floor is opened for questions from the Members. Each Member is restricted in the number of questions which may be asked of the candidates vying for Premier. Once questioning is concluded, a secret ballot vote is held. The candidate who garners 50 percent plus one of the votes is selected Premier.
The election of six additional Cabinet Ministers is next on the agenda. Again candidates are nominated and given an opportunity to outline their platforms before a secret ballot vote is held.
The consensus system of governing is more in keeping with the way that aboriginal peoples have traditionally made decisions. Unanimous agreement is not necessary for decisions to be made, motions passed, and legislation enacted. A simple majority carries the vote.
Members who are not appointed to the Executive Council are referred to as Regular Members. They become the unofficial opposition into the House. The Members are responsible, through questioning and through the Standing Committees, to hold the government accountable and responsive to the people of the Northwest Territories.
As Cabinet consists of only seven of the nineteen Members, the eleven Regular Members exert considerable influence on many of the decisions and the direction of the government.