‘Who runs this territory? The drug trade is winning,’ says Monfwi MLA

Premier and Justice Minister RJ Simpson stands in the Assembly Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of Assembly Livestream.)

The illegal drug trade is out of control in the territory, and there will be more lives ruined, and people killed unless the RCMP are given more resources, Monfwi MLA Jane Weyallon-Armstrong told the NWT Legislative Assembly today.

“We want our communities to be save. We want our children to grow up without being influenced by drugs, by fast cash and addictions. The drug trade is destroying the lives of our people. Our people are being shot, assaulted, abused and intimidated. When are we going to stand up and let drug dealers know that the NWT is not a place to do business.

“Right now, there are homicide cases linked to drug dealing with no updates. And in other cases, when charges are laid, they get off on a technicality. Drug dealers come to the NWT and prey on our vulnerable people. It leads to more addictions. It leads to more destruction, trauma, chaos.

“People in small communities are scared. Our communities do not feel safe. This rise of drugs and crime is debilitating our communities in our territory … who runs this territory? We need to make laws and take actions today because right now in the NWT, the drug trade is winning and our people are losing.”

Monfwi MLA Jane Weyallon-Armstrong on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of Assembly Livestream.)

Premier RJ Simpson, in his role as Justice Minister, credited the RCMP for adjusting tactics, which has resulted in a 30 per cent bump in drug arrests and double the amount of illegal substances and weapons taken off the streets.

Minister Simpson agreed with the MLA who slammed easy bail access for drug dealers.

Simpson said federal changes to the Criminal Code, along with some Supreme Court decisions, have made it harder to keep charged suspects in custody until trial.

The Premier said there is funding for a Crime Reduction Unit in the proposed budget, he is lobbying along with other justice ministers across Canada for tougher bail laws and the NWT will join other jurisdictions with its own Civil Forfeiture Act. That allows authorities to seize property and cash if it’s believed to be proceeds of crime without a trial.

Also in the Assembly today:

  • Robert Hawkins, MLA for Yellowknife Centre and Great Slave MLA Kate Reid pressed Health Minister Lesa Semmler to the point of exasperation about the lack of midwives in the NWT, especially Indigenous ones. “They are more than just ‘baby catchers,’ stated Hawkins.
  • Health Minister Lesa Semmler answers questions on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of Assembly Livestream.)

    Daniel McNeely, MLA for Sahtu, wants the GNWT developing a “sound re-supply plan” for Tlicho communities after the summer’s barge shipments were cancelled due to low river levels. He said he’s been speaking with Buffalo Airways about an ‘air barge.’

  • Shauna Morgan, MLA for Yellowknife North, came to work with a good-news health-care story! She talked about the success of the NWT’s Family Medicine Residency Program and suggested it should be expanded. Since 2020, the program has accepted two doctors in training each year. They train as residents in Yellowknife, with mandatory rotations to Inuvik and Nunavut. It’s Canada’s first ever family medicine residency training site north of 60. It’s a partnership between the University of Alberta and the three local health authorities in NWT.  She stated: “Young people who spend time living and working in the NWT for an extended period of time, get involved in community life and the diverse cultures and experiences the territory has to offer … are more likely to identify themselves as a northern physician and want to stay here and work.”
  • Speaker Shane Thompson, explained his sudden suspension of activities on Monday, as he had to take a phone call concerning an accident his son had been in. Thompson, the MLA for Nahendeh, thanked first responders and the regional health centre.

Speaker Shane Thompson on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of Assembly Livestream.)

About the Author

James O'Connor
James O’Connor joined CKLB 101.9 FM at the start of 2024, after working as a journalist, photo editor and managing editor at newspapers in Manitoba and the Northwest Territories. James also has experience in politics, arts, service clubs and the NWT’s non-profit sector. At this point in his lengthy career, James is thrilled to be working at such a unique media outlet and always welcomes notes from listeners at: james.oconnor@cklbradio.com.