Thank you, Mr. Speaker. A sound and effective northern preference policy is only one stop along the journey toward economic viability in the North. An issue that must be addressed by this government, and now, is the fact that millions of dollars' worth of goods and services are imported into the Territories from southern Canada each year because they are not produced here. That is millions of dollars that could be invested in our northern economy. Obviously, the government must move now to help northern businesses expand the range of goods produced and services provided in the Northwest Territories. A comprehensive import substitute strategy is sorely needed.
Mr. Speaker, this is not a new issue. In October of 1990, the 11th Assembly's special committee on the northern economy, co-chaired by the honourable colleagues for Yellowknife Centre and Tu Nedhe, recommended that a comprehensive import substitute strategy be developed and implemented to stop the flow of money south. To quote the SCONE report, Mr. Speaker, the government should take the concept of import substitution seriously. It should target particular areas of the economy where import substitution has the best chance of success. It should then develop a long-term strategy to make import substitution a reality.
SCONE knows that our government always seems to be having difficulty getting beyond the idea stage. It is time to get beyond the idea stage. We must put principles into practice. Much more must be done to encourage regional industry development, and growth in the service sector. We need a strategic plan that will allow our money to stay home in the North.
There are many areas that the government could look at as a
starting point. The items that we import from the South are many and varied: lumber, food, furniture, housing materials, at cetera. The list goes on. For example, Mr. Speaker, the NWT Housing Corporation imports fibreglass; tanks every year that are built in Manitoba. There is no reason why these tanks could not be built in the North.
I realize that implementing a substitute strategy cannot be done by one department alone. This means that Ministers will have to talk to each other about the policy. It means that the Government Leader will need to co-ordinate interdepartmental initiatives and provide the leadership we require to test out new prospects for production and supply. There must be a long-term focus which compares the reality of high production costs in the North to the overall benefit that will be realized in the North. Thank you.