This is page numbers 24 - 48 of the Hansard for the 12th Assembly, 1st Session. The original version can be accessed on the Legislative Assembly's website or by contacting the Legislative Assembly Library. The word of the day was report.

Topics

Ministers' Statement 2-12(1): And Tabled Document 3-12(1)
Item 17: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 42

The Chair Ludy Pudluk

Thank you. General comments. Member for Yellowknife Centre.

"Strength At Two Levels" Represents Government Platform

Ministers' Statement 2-12(1): And Tabled Document 3-12(1)
Item 17: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

December 10th, 1991

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Brian Lewis Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. This report, "Strength at Two Levels," is really the platform of the government. If you recall four years ago when the last government was formed and Mr. Patterson took everybody off into the bush somewhere, and they came up with the "Direction for the 1990s," nine or 10 principles, if you like, that would guide the government for the next four years. I will not bore people with going through that list of that particular platform. What we have here is something similar, in a sense, that was set up for the last government and inherited by this government, and it represents the platform, if you like, of where this government really wants to go. This is the priority of the government because it is the first bit of business that we are dealing with here. It represents the government plan during the term of this Assembly.

Having said that, what makes this a little bit different is in keeping with our commitment to consensus government, the Government Leader has said this really is where the government wants to go and before we even talk about it and discuss it, we have had a statement from the Minister indicating the strength of the commitment of our government to the report by indicating what things are going to happen.

I am going to be very brief today, Mr. Chairman. One of the strengths of consensus, of course, is that you are obviously involved with an awful lot of people and people have a feeling that they have a sense of ownership of whatever it is they are involved in, because when you make something and there are all kinds of hands on the tools that create it, then you think, "Boy I made that. I helped to polish that up and it looks good and I am proud of it." The problem when you do that, and that is the weakness of it, is that it can take forever. I remember years ago there was -- I am talking about my own field now in education, many years ago, everybody was committed to the idea of discovery learning. Kids were going to really have a sense of owning their knowledge because some boring person was not going to tell them anything. They were going to find out for themselves. All these young people were going to discover everything, every mechanical principle, every principle of mathematics. They would discover it, but we found out after awhile if you go about things in that fashion, you are going to still be there when you are 90. You still do not know your multiplication tables because you have not found it; you have not discovered it yet. That is one of the weaknesses, if you like, of taking that approach that you are going to discover everything for yourself.

It is similar with consensus. The weakness of it is that you have to look at all the ways in people in which people want to contribute to making something work so they have this feeling that they own this particular program or this particular process. The Minister has realized this, obviously, by setting a fast pace, saying, "Look, we have to get on with it and if we allow consensus to drag this down. it is not going to go anywhere." It is the same with everything we have ever tried to do. Suddenly, with everybody being involved and everybody having his two bits worth in, slowly the momentum gets dragged down and gets dragged down.

I have seen Mr. Kakfwi, for example, demonstrate his impatience about trying to get things done and he has mentioned it in this House. I will not quote him today, but he has mentioned several times the frustration, because he is a person who wants to get things done.

If you are going to involve everybody in trying to get things done, then I will guarantee that although you want to start off at this fast pace to get an agenda accomplished within a certain time frame, then it will only be done if things are absolutely clear, how far we can go, what the deadlines are, what is reasonable. I can tell you now, Mr. Chairman, that it is not simply just a matter of saying, "This is what communities want; let us just do it." Just one simple thing and I will leave it at this. I know that in developing legislation, some of those bits of legislation have taken years and years and years just to get a simple piece of legislation done, because of the process that you have to go through so that everybody feels comfortable about that legislation, that really does what we want that legislation to do. We have committed ourselves in this chamber to an even greater and more open process of involvement in the creation of legislation. We have said that we are not going to just simply get a piece of legislation and say that is it; we are going to just sit down here and pass it. What we have said, is that there is going to be a process in which the public is going to be involved in legislation. If all you are going to do in this follow up to this report, is say, "Well we will have a contribution agreement and we will just make a deal if you like and you have it for this week or for next week. We will not worry about legislation; we will just ignore all that. We will just make a few deals here and there to get things going." Then that really does not give you the degree of stability and certainty and a sense of development that we have always felt ourselves committed to in this chamber.

So Mr. Chairman, what I am trying to tell the government, I suppose, is that in order to do all these things -- because this is a massive undertaking, a complete restructuring of things really -- we cannot really make it work unless it is hand in glove with some kind of legislative program. You simply cannot just sit down and make deals and agreements; that is just not good enough.

Everything we have done over the past 20 years, I suppose, has been on the basis of recognizing that this is a Legislative Assembly. What we do basically is to work as legislators; we make laws for the people that we represent. So everything that goes on in the Territories is done on the basis of law, not on deals, and if we are going to make this work we have to be sure that we have some kind of legislative framework so that we can, in fact, make this happen. It has been my experience to date that laws, if they are going to be workable and successful, cannot just be made at the snap of a finger or at the drop of a hat. It involves an awful lot of painstaking hard work, very, very time consuming, and from what I have been able to gather so far, the things that we have heard in just a few days indicate that we would like things to be done with speed so that momentum will not be lost; but at the same time we are told that we are going to operate even more by consensus by involving more and more people, and when you do that you are automatically going to slow things down at a pace that people can manage and feel comfortable with.

I could go on at length, but I appreciate the Ministers' long experience in government, their understanding of it, the nature of the problem that has to be overcome, but it is the weakness of consensus that things we really want to do, very often will take a long, long time, and you cannot do it overnight; it is not in the nature of our system. Thank you.

Ministers' Statement 2-12(1): And Tabled Document 3-12(1)
Item 17: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair James Arvaluk

Thank you, Mr. Lewis. Madam Government Leader.

Ministers' Statement 2-12(1): And Tabled Document 3-12(1)
Item 17: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Nellie Cournoyea Nunakput

Mr. Chairman, it has been a number of years that the whole discussion on who makes decisions, who controls or how can programs better apply and reflect people, has been going on. This has been an ongoing discussion. The consultative process has been going on from as far back as when I first came here in 1979, and before that. The concern of us being with a government system that is very difficult to manoeuvre through to reach a goal, has been discussed. That is one of the reasons that we commissioned this report, to consolidate the thinking of people at the community level, in this Legislative Assembly, of some of the cabinet Ministers, deputy ministers who were involved, people at all regions who were involved. We made sure that the teams that were on here reflected the various regions and communities and people involved in the process.

This document is a consolidation of the thinking of a great number of people who were consulted and talked to, and all I am trying to say is that it appears to me, from my reflection, that it is a very clear document. It may not cover everything that we wished it to cover, but it gives us a very clear direction on which is the best way to go in dealing with peoples' concerns and issues that were brought up over the many, many years.

Community self-government was one that a number of communities were involved with, but it was so difficult to make the decisions that will allow them to take over the programs they wanted to take over, they just gave up because they said that the government was too complex -- who is making the decision; why cannot we take this over; how can we do it this way? There was no framework for them to achieve their goals. Certainly there has been a great deal of discussion while these people went and discussed at various levels what it is that people feel the most concern about regarding this government; why we are not doing what they want us to do; why they feel that we are a bad government; why they feel that we are not being able to deliver the types of things they want at a pace they want.

I see this as us keeping up with the communities. It is not for us to sit here and say, "Holy crow, we are giving something to the communities." The communities are fed up with waiting; they are very tired of being told, "Go to this department, go to that department; it is over here where the decision should be made; it is that office you should go to." They are saying, "Why can we not run the programs at the community level the way we want them? This is our idea; this is what we want to do." That is really just addressing that.

I am trying to put together a program of implementation where people, when they want to do something, can get it done. Thank you.

Ministers' Statement 2-12(1): And Tabled Document 3-12(1)
Item 17: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 43

The Chair James Arvaluk

Thank you, Ms. Cournoyea. Mr. Lewis, you want to answer that response.

Ministers' Statement 2-12(1): And Tabled Document 3-12(1)
Item 17: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Brian Lewis Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would just like to ask the Government Leader, does she recognize that this report, in fact, takes us all the way back to the very beginning when this government was set up, and the very first department that was set up by this government, which was given a priority when it was set up, was the Department of Local Government. The decision was made that that would be a priority in setting up this government, right from the floor up, and since then we have lost control completely because consensus government has taken us all over the place. At the beginning we had this focus. Did she realize that we are back to where we started more than 20 years ago?

Ministers' Statement 2-12(1): And Tabled Document 3-12(1)
Item 17: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 43

The Chair James Arvaluk

Ms. Cournoyea.

Ministers' Statement 2-12(1): And Tabled Document 3-12(1)
Item 17: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 43

Nellie Cournoyea Nunakput

Mr. Chairman, that was a fundamental concern right from the beginning. We did form community governments and we went so far. We gave them water, sewage, garbage and roads. We gave them that responsibility. For some reason, I do not know why, we stopped. We should have continued and maybe we would be where the communities want to be now. The intent was good, it was there; what they have now is up and running. The community has an ownership to those programs on how they are conducted. They handle the funding and within certain

means they are setting a priority. What they want now is to extend those responsibilities. I do not know why it quit, I do not know why it came to a stop when it did, because I remember back at one time when people wanted to go on and it looked like the central agency or someone said, "No, that is too much, you cannot have a relationship with the aboriginal people in terms of community self-government."

I am sure some Members here were involved in developing community government a long time ago, but we did stop. The same question is there by the communities, "We want to take over more of those responsibilities."

Ministers' Statement 2-12(1): And Tabled Document 3-12(1)
Item 17: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair James Arvaluk

Mr. Todd.

Ministers' Statement 2-12(1): And Tabled Document 3-12(1)
Item 17: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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John Todd Keewatin Central

I would caution you and say, "But let us remind ourselves of the pace at which the communities want to take over these responsibilities." It is important to remind ourselves of that. One of the concerns I have of a more practical discussion would be that given that we are looking at this Beatty report, and some shrinking of dollars as Mr. Pollard has said, there is a requirement to look at ways of cutting and at some ways of saving money, it may be -- and I do not want to complicate the issue even more -- that we have to take a hard look as we phase in and implement this report of the kinds of policies on the ways and means in which we spend money.

If there is less money out there, then maybe we have to find ways and means to make sure there is more money of the less money spent in the North. Are you with me? It may be that, in my opinion, when we take a look at the phasing in and the implementation of this, parallel with that we should be taking a hard look at the kind of spending policies, if you want, and by that I mean things like Buy North only, things like negotiated contracts with DPW as has been done by the Minister of Public Works to my understanding, those kinds of things, I think, have to go hand in hand, if you like, with the phasing in of some of this stuff. Do you understand what I am trying to say? If we have less money, then we had better make sure the less money we have the more of it sticks in the North because we will only have compounded an already difficult situation. I hope that makes sense.

Ministers' Statement 2-12(1): And Tabled Document 3-12(1)
Item 17: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 44

The Chair James Arvaluk

Thank you. Madam Government Leader.

Ministers' Statement 2-12(1): And Tabled Document 3-12(1)
Item 17: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Nellie Cournoyea Nunakput

Mr. Chairman, in setting up the implementation of this type of discussion, or the implementation of these consolidations or of community government, it is expected that at that time, these very points will come up.

Ministers' Statement 2-12(1): And Tabled Document 3-12(1)
Item 17: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair James Arvaluk

Any further comments? Member for Thebacha.

Ministers' Statement 2-12(1): And Tabled Document 3-12(1)
Item 17: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Jeannie Marie-Jewell Thebacha

Mr. Chairman, I just wanted to ask the Government Leader with respect to some of the comments in her statement. She indicated, on the second page, consolidating the Department of Health and the Department of Social Services into one department in order to improve co-ordination and efficiency in responding to the health and social services needs of northern residents. Since they are organizing themselves to set priorities for the restructuring of those departments, how is this going to be done? What is going to be eliminated through the restructuring process?

Ministers' Statement 2-12(1): And Tabled Document 3-12(1)
Item 17: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 44

The Chair James Arvaluk

Thank you. Government Leader.