Role of the Commissioner

The Commissioner of the Northwest Territories serves a pivotal role in the governance of the Northwest Territories.  Appointed by the Governor-in-Council of Canada on the recommendation of the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, the Commissioner is the federal government’s representative in the north and the Chief Executive Officer of the Northwest Territories.

Unlike the provinces, the Northwest Territories is not given the authority to govern under the Constitution Acts. The position of Commissioner is created by the federal Northwest Territories Act and exercises a function similar to that of a provincial Lieutenant Governor.

Legislative duties that the Commissioner administers are:

  • Swearing in of the Members of the Legislative Assembly;
  • Swearing in of the members of the Executive Council under the recommendation of the Members of the Legislative Assembly;
  • Appointment of Ministers or members of the Executive Council to ministerial portfolios on the advice of the Premier;
  • Providing assent for bills after they have been passed by the Legislative Assembly (a bill must be approved by the Commissioner before it can become law);
  • Opening sessions of the Legislative Assembly;
  • Signing of documents such as orders-in-council, Commissioner's warrants, statutory appointments and disposition of Commissioner's Lands.

In addition to legislative duties the Commissioner also performs a ceremonial role by representing the Government of the Northwest Territories at official and landmark events across the Northwest Territories.

For more constitutional and other information on the role of Commissioners of the Territories in Canada, visit the DIAND Commissioners of the Territories website.