This is page numbers 49 - 72 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 community.

Topics

Members Present

Hon. Titus Allooloo, Mr. Antoine, Mr. Arngna'naaq, Mr. Arvaluk, Hon. Michael Ballantyne, Mr. Bernhardt, Hon. Nellie Cournoyea, Mr. Dent, Mr. Gargan, Hon. Stephen Kakfwi, Mr. Koe, Mr. Lewis, Mrs. Marie-Jewell, Hon. Don Morin, Hon. John Ningark, Hon. Dennis Patterson, Hon. John Pollard, Mr. Pudlat, Mr. Pudluk, Mr. Todd, Hon. Tony Whitford, Mr. Zoe

---Prayer

Item 1: Prayer
Item 1: Prayer

Page 49

The Speaker Michael Ballantyne

Orders of the day for Wednesday, December 11, 1991. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Madam Government Leader.

Ministers' Statement 8-12(1): Economic Outlook, Mining And Oil And Gas
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 49

Nellie Cournoyea Nunakput

Mr. Speaker, as Minister responsible for Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, I would like to tell Members about some recent developments that give us reason to be encouraged about the future potential of our economy.

Despite the economic downturn that is hurting all regions of Canada, there are a number of positive developments happening in the non-renewable resource sector of the Northwest Territories. There are, for instance, a few very promising mineral properties. Some of them continue to be explored and may be approaching the development stage.

The operators of the George Lake Gold Property, after almost 10 years of regional prospecting, detailed exploration, intensive diamond drilling and $25 million of investment, have been encouraged by the results. The operators expect, in the near future, to decide whether or not to increase their investment in the North by funding a costly underground exploration program, and that program should tell them whether they do or they do not have an economic mineral deposit.

Other gold properties in the Northwest Territories that have warranted continued exploration include the Nicholas Lake deposit north of Yellowknife and the Crown-Ulu deposit north of Lupin Mine. Both are being drilled intensively in hopes of justifying the next stage of evaluation, an underground exploration program. At Meliadine River, north of Rankin Inlet, a more recent and less well advanced gold exploration target is rated very highly.

Mr. Speaker, 75 per cent of the value of mineral shipments from the Northwest Territories are zinc and lead. A series of these base metal deposits have been discovered over the years. The best known is the Izok Lake zinc, lead, copper, silver deposit located 250 kilometres south of the Coronation Gulf. Transportation, or more correctly the lack of transportation facilities, is the critical factor as to why very little work has been done on these particular properties. If the transportation hurdle can be overcome, then the prospects for a new zinc-lead mine will increase significantly.

As most of you probably know, local, national and international press has picked up on the announcement that diamonds have been discovered in the Northwest Territories. The announcement that the first drill hole yielded 81 diamonds, some of them gem quality, must be viewed as very encouraging. Even before the announcement, word of the

diamond discovery had spread, and there has been a tremendous surge in staking of mineral claims.

Recent scientific research on diamonds, how they are formed and how they are found, suggests that the Northwest Territories should be considered a good place to explore for them. We must realize, however, that it will take a lot of time and money to determine the true significance of this diamond discovery.

Mr. Speaker, in the oil and gas sector, I am pleased to inform Members of the results of a recent call for bids for exploration rights in the Mackenzie Delta and Beaufort Sea areas. Shell Canada, the successful bidder on three land parcels in the Mackenzie Delta, has promised a work commitment totalling in excess of $53 million on lands in the Delta surrounding their Unipkat discovery. This is very welcome news to a region that has seen a very severe economic downturn over the past several years. The bids are encouraging because they come at a low period for the oil and gas industry. They provide a signal that the major players in the industry recognize the exploration potential of the Delta area.

Mr. Speaker, other planned oil and gas activities include Esso Resources' three million dollars seismic program this winter. Three boreholes will also be drilled this winter in the Delta for research purposes. This work will be done jointly by the Geological Survey of Canada, Shell and Esso. Esso Resources will also be continuing with delineation drilling at Norman Wells this winter.

In the Sahtu Region, the Chevron Fort Good Hope block has, unfortunately, been relinquished. This has resulted in a very significant loss to the region, and to Fort Good Hope in particular. The lack of exploration success does not, however, mean that there is a lack of potential in this region.

The Mackenzie Great Bear Development Impact Zone Society is working with the Department of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources on the development of an oil and gas rights issuance proposal in the Sahtu region. Through the issuance of new exploration rights, we hope to replace some of the opportunities that have been lost as a result of the shutdown of the Chevron-Fort Good Hope venture.

Meanwhile, the Norman Wells project is pumping oil at the rate of 30,000 barrels a day and is now earning the federal government revenues in excess of $55 million per year. The fiscal and financial benefits for the Northwest Territories from this project are minimal. With the successful completion of the Northern Accord, however, a portion of these revenues should accrue to the Government of the Northwest Territories.

There will also be other opportunities for the generation of fiscal and economic benefits that we will be able to realize through the sound management of our oil and gas resources once the accord has been signed and implemented.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, we can certainly be encouraged by these developments in the mining, oil and gas sectors, despite low prices, industry lay-offs, and regulatory uncertainties. The challenge now is to seize these opportunities to ensure maximum benefits for Northerners and minimal impact on the environment. Thank you.

Ministers' Statement 8-12(1): Economic Outlook, Mining And Oil And Gas
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 50

The Speaker Michael Ballantyne

Thank you, Ms. Cournoyea. Ministers' statements. Mr. Patterson.

Ministers' Statement 9-12(1): Mine Safety Act
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 50

Dennis Patterson Iqaluit

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, during the past week I have toured an underground mining operation and have spoken with labour leaders and mine management to hear their views and to let them know that the occupational health and safety of miners is an extremely important issue to our government.

As a result of concerns in this area, I am announcing today that the government has concluded that the proposed new mine safety bill tabled in the previous House will not go forward in its present form and that a new consultative process will be undertaken. The government still wants to have initial comments on the draft bill and regulations. Many interested parties have already given a great deal of thought to the tabled document, and we do not want their efforts to be lost.

Mr. Speaker, the new consultative process will take place under the auspices of a mine safety bill committee that will have an independent chairman who is knowledgeable in mining, two representatives from industry, and one representative each from unionized and non-unionized labour. We expect this committee to begin its work in January.

Good health and safety legislation must satisfy three requirements. It must be acceptable to workers; it must be achievable by management; and it must be enforceable by the regulators. To allow those directly affected by the legislation to participate in its formation will create a better climate for its administration and its effectiveness. I believe the establishment of this committee will meet these requirements. Work of the committee will hopefully lead to a new Mine Safety Act for introduction at the Assembly's fall session in 1992 or, at the latest, during its budget session in 1993.

Mr. Speaker, I also wish to announce that interim amendments to the existing Mining Safety Act will be introduced at the 1992 budget session. These amendments, in part, flow from the coroner's inquest into the death of a miner in Yellowknife last year.

In conclusion, I am looking forward to working with labour and industry to develop effective new legislation to present to this House which will meet everyone's desire for a safe, healthy and productive workplace. Thank you.

Ministers' Statement 9-12(1): Mine Safety Act
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 50

The Speaker Michael Ballantyne

Thank you, Mr. Patterson. Ministers' statements. Mr. Morin.

Ministers' Statement 10-12(1): General Direction Of NWT Housing Corporation
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 50

Don Morin Tu Nedhe

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the government is very aware of the importance of proper housing in the Northwest Territories. Our severe climate makes it essential that everyone have an adequate place to live. Inadequate housing is often a contributing factor in poor health, failure of children at school, family violence and problems on the job.

As Minister responsible for the NWT Housing Corporation, I am fully committed to continuing and expanding the efforts of our government to meet the North's housing needs.

The government is strongly committed to encouraging home-ownership to foster pride and personal responsibility for the operation and maintenance of housing and reduce the dependency on government associated with public rental housing.

The HAP, home-ownership assistance program, has been positively received by most northern residents. There are, however, many residents who do not qualify because their incomes are either above or below the current income criteria. The government is committed to exploring ways and means to expand eligibility for HAP housing and to develop new programs if necessary to address the needs of those not covered by existing policies and programs.

As new housing must continue to be provided in every community of the NWT for many years to come, there are excellent business, employment and training opportunities available to our residents. To provide these opportunities will require close coordination and cooperation between the NWT Housing Corporation and the various government departments. The government is committed to having the construction and maintenance of housing carried out in a manner which maximizes employment and job creation opportunities for the local residents of every community.

Mr. Speaker, the government is totally committed to make northern community government, in the broadest sense, a reality. The people at the community level must assume greater responsibility and accountability for meeting housing needs. Decision-making must be at the local level if communities are to control their own destiny. Communities, too, must be allowed to establish priorities among the various services and programs which they are responsible for.

Mr. Speaker, I believe the support and strengthening of community government, the government closest to the people being served, must be given the highest priority. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Ministers' Statement 10-12(1): General Direction Of NWT Housing Corporation
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 50

The Speaker Michael Ballantyne

Thank you, Mr. Morin. Ministers' statements. Mr. Ningark.

Ministers' Statement 11-12(1): Our Way Of Life
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 50

John Ningark Natilikmiot

Mr. Speaker, the culture and lifestyles of many people in the Northwest Territories are based on hunting, trapping and fishing. These activities are healthy occupations, both mentally and physically.

As the Minister of Renewable Resources one of my priorities will be to educate people throughout the world about the way we live. This needs to be done because traditional lifestyles continue to be threatened by the activities of the anti-hunting and anti-trapping lobbies who use written materials and television to promote their cause.

Mr. Speaker, our ways of trapping and hunting do not hurt the environment. The land, water, fish and wildlife have always provided food and clothing. Our survival as a people depends upon their survival. We must send this message to the rest of the world. Because of this, we will be working on a new strategy to promote the trapping and use of furs, both here in the Territories and elsewhere. In addition, we will take our message to the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development to be held next June in Brazil. There will be people there from all countries of the world.

In the NWT we will be broadcasting television spots that profile and promote individual trappers and their lifestyle. We are also working with the schools to help our children learn about our ways and our environment.

Mr. Speaker, Members of the Legislative Assembly have emphasized over the years that we must continue to protect the rights of our people to harvest our renewable resources. I agree. All of us care deeply about our great land, and over the term of this government we will be working hard to help ensure that the hunters and trappers in the Northwest Territories will be able to continue their traditional pursuits. Mahsi cho.

---Applause

Ministers' Statement 11-12(1): Our Way Of Life
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 51

The Speaker Michael Ballantyne

Thank you, Mr. Ningark. Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. Mr. Gargan.

Funding For Church, Fort Providence
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 51

Samuel Gargan Deh Cho

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Later this week Members of this Assembly will return home to spend the holiday session with their families, friends and community people. All across the Northwest Territories people will be enjoying Christmas services in their community churches. In Fort Providence, however, the church will be empty for the third Christmas, despite a resolution and promise from this government last July that the church would be renovated.

Mr. Speaker, I was shocked to learn that the expenditure of $25,000 for capital renovations to the church has been cancelled. My heart goes out to the people of my community, especially the elders who have been dreaming of the day when they would once again worship in the church where they were taught Christian ways by their parents and grandparents.

How does the government expect to retain any credibility with the communities when projects such as this are frozen by bureaucrats in Yellowknife due to a financial crisis that surfaced overnight? I attended the standing committee on finance meeting as recently as September, and there was no mention of any financial crisis. The people of my constituency want to know how the Government of the NWT got into so much financial trouble so quickly without any warning. A $65 million deficit does not just happen overnight, and voters want to know if these financial problems were hidden from them and us until after the election.

I would like to close, Mr. Speaker, by stating that the life of an MLA is difficult enough due to prolonged absence from our families and the communities and keeps us from the traditional activities which some of us love. We do not need the additional burden of having our hard work and commitment to the interests of our people dismissed with the stroke of a pen by corporate-style government.

The elders of my constituency relied upon me to do the work on their behalf; to achieve the aspirations of their communities. I will work hard on their behalf to convince other Members of the need for these renovations. I guess that is why I am particularly hurt, Mr. Speaker, by the fact that the Minister of Culture and Communications does not realize or care about the effects of his decision. Thank you.

Funding For Church, Fort Providence
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 51

The Speaker Michael Ballantyne

Thank you, Mr. Gargan. Members' statements. Mr. Antoine.

Process For Dealing With Business In The House
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 51

Jim Antoine Nahendeh

(Translation) Thank you. I am going to be speaking in my language. Since the beginning of this session of the Legislative Assembly I have sat back and listened. I have been a chief for a long time and have attended meetings for over 10 years. Every time I go to a meeting, there is one thing that is always talked about. When we talk about something, we finish talking about it and then we make resolutions on it.

When we talk about things in this House here, it seems like things are going in all different directions. I do not feel it is going right for me. I am just telling you what I think. (Translation ends)

I have been here since being elected as an MLA, and I am concerned about the way business is conducted in the House. We say we want to make the Legislative Assembly as northern as possible, yet we follow parliamentary procedure and the orders of the day. I find it very confusing, because all these years as a chief and going to different meetings, we have an agenda and we deal with the agenda; we make an agreement and move on. But what I find here is that we are going all over the place. Only at certain times can you ask a question, and only at certain times can you speak. If we are going to make it a truly northern-type of meeting it should reflect how meetings are conducted in the communities. This is rather foreign to me, and I am saying this because I have a certain amount of frustration in how things are being done in here.

(Translation) What I am saying is that at the rules committee meetings we should talk about this and change them a bit. Thank you.

Process For Dealing With Business In The House
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 51

The Speaker Michael Ballantyne

Thank you, Mr. Antoine. Members' statements. Mr. Lewis.