Members of the Legislative Assembly, or MLAs, are elected to represent one of 19 districts of the Northwest Territories called ridings or constituencies. MLAs represent their constituents at the territorial level; others are elected to serve in federal and municipal governments.
MLAs help create and amend laws, act as spokespeople for their constituents, and help solve problems. It is the duty of an MLA to represent everyone in his or her riding, regardless of how they voted.
When they take office, MLAs swear a statutory oath. They are also bound to follow the Members’ Conduct Guidelines.
In the Legislative Assembly
In the course of their work in the House, Members typically:
- make statements in the Legislative Assembly about important issues
- exchange ideas with other MLAs
- ask questions of cabinet ministers to ensure accountability
- state their views on legislation
- introduce bills about issues important to the riding or the MLA
- participate in standing committees which monitor and provide advice to ministers responsible in particular areas, such as social programs, economic development, or government operations
- participate in special committees set up to deal with major issues
- participate in Caucus, in which all members are included as equals regardless of their other roles as cabinet ministers, Speaker, or committee chairs
- present petitions from the public in the House
- meet with groups who have special concerns, or interest in specific areas
- talk with the media to help keep the public informed
- keep in touch with constituents to find out what they think about issues
- follow current events by reading reports, attending meetings and conferences, and monitoring the media.
An active role in the community
Members travel in their ridings often, and many live in their home communities. It is quite common for Members' families to remain there while the MLAs travel to Yellowknife to work in the Legislative Assembly.
MLAs normally have at least one office in their riding where constituents can meet with them or speak with staff, discuss problems and get information about the Legislative Assembly or government agencies.
Constituents often ask their MLA for information, or to help with housing, education, or many other matters. The Member can try to help solve the problem by speaking to the proper government department or minister. The MLA usually knows exactly who to call to avoid confusion and save time.
Members are often asked to open public buildings, make speeches to community groups, and attend performances or anniversaries. They generally attend as many as possible, as it helps them keep in touch with how people feel about various issues.