Mr. Speaker, it is with great sadness that I rise to pay tribute to George Braden, the first elected premier of the Northwest Territories, who passed away Monday.
Born in Saskatchewan in 1949, he and his family moved to the Northwest Territories in 1964. From 1977 to 1979, George was an advisor to the hon. Bud Drury and was the prime minister's special representative for constitutional development in the Northwest Territories. In 1979, he was elected to the ninth Legislative Assembly. The MLAs voted George the first leader of the elected members of cabinet, a position that has become known as “premier”. He served as leader until 1989.
During his time in government, George promoted a new recognition of the Northwest Territories at the national level and a more prominent role in Confederation, including working to win a seat for the NWT at the first ministers conferences. George led the NWT's lobbying to have aboriginal rights included in section 35 of the Constitution.
George's strong support for an independent NWT was a major influence in my political career. He was the first of the new northern politicians to speak up for public government.
My deepest sympathies go to his wife, Lise, and the Braden family. George will be sorely missed.