Showing 1 results

Authority record
Corporate body · 1991-1993

In 1982, a plebiscite was held on the question of dividing the Northwest Territories. With the vote in favour of creating Nunavut, it became apparent that with division, two new governments would be established, one in the east and one in the west. Consequently, the Constitutional Alliance Committee, made up of the Nunavut Constitutional Forum and the Western Constitution Forum was created. The Constitutional Alliance ceased operations in 1990. However, a group of political leaders including MLAs, elected officials and ministers, leaders of the Dene Nation, the Metis Nation, the Gwich'in Regional Council and the Sahtu Regional Council, believed it was important that the Constitutional work continue.

In the spring of 1991, the Committee of Political Leaders, an informal group composed of representatives from the Government of the Northwest Territories and the major Indigenous organizations, gave the Commission for Constitutional Development a mandate to develop a comprehensive constitutional proposal for those regions of the Northwest Territories remaining after the creation of Nunavut for consideration by way of a plebiscite. The Commission was funded by the Government of the Northwest Territories through a contribution agreement.

Commission members included Jim Bourque (Chairperson), Richard Hardy, George Braden, Les Carpenter, Francois Paulette, and Bertha Allen. Four members and chairperson were appointed by the Committee of Political Leaders and one member was appointed by the Western members of the Legislative Assembly.

The Commission for Constitutional Development was Incorporated under the Societies Act in August 1991. Its objectives were: (a) To co-ordinate, manage and direct the financial affairs and organized public activities of its members in the development of a constitution for a government to be created in the western part of the Northwest Territories. (b) To initiate and co-ordinate independent research into topics related to political and constitutional development. (c) To prepare discussion papers and other background materials for dissemination to the public. (d) To solicit opinions and responses from the public and individuals on constitutional and political issues. (e) To prepare proposals for political and constitutional development and to print materials on constitutional issues for the public at large. (f) To initiate and co-ordinate public meetings and discussions on matters of political and constitutional development throughout the western part of the Northwest Territories. (g) To take such further action as the Commission deems appropriate to accomplish its objectives.

The Commission released a discussion paper “How Can We Live Together?” in the fall of 1991, to provide background information and stimulate debate. The first round of community hearings took place during November-December 1991. Funding was provided to interest groups to prepare submissions. The Commission released an interim report in February 1992, summarizing what had been heard so far and outlining ideas and recommendations. The second round of community hearings took place during March-April 1992. The Commission’s final report was released on April 24, 1992 and is known as the "Bourque Report".

No further work was undertaken and by late 1992, the Commission was in the process of wrapping up its affairs and requesting direction from the Committee of Political Leaders. Following a letter of direction from the Chairman of the Western Caucus of the Legislative Assembly, Fred Koe, the Commission made an extraordinary resolution to dissolve the Commission effective March 31, 1993. The work of developing a constitution and governmental structure for the Western part of the Northwest Territory was continued by the Committee of Political Leaders, which was renamed the Constitutional Development Steering Committee and expanded to include the original six Indigenous leaders, the fourteen western MLAs, a representative of women’s organizations, and three representatives of the Association of Western Tax Based Municipalities.