This is page numbers 239 - 270 of the Hansard for the 12th Assembly, 6th 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 information.

Topics

Members Present

Mr. Allooloo, Mr. Antoine, Hon. Silas Arngna'naaq, Mr. Arvaluk, Mr. Ballantyne, Hon. Nellie Cournoyea, Mr. Dent, Mr. Gargan, Hon. Stephen Kakfwi, Mr. Koe, Mr. Lewis, Hon. Jeannie Marie-Jewell, Hon. Rebecca Mike, Hon. Don Morin, Hon. Richard Nerysoo, Mr. Ng, Mr. Ningark, Mr. Patterson, Mr. Pudluk, Hon. John Todd, Mr. Whitford, Mr. Zoe

---Prayer

Item 1: Prayer
Item 1: Prayer

Page 239

The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

Thank you. Good afternoon. Prior to going to Ministers' statements, I would like to welcome Mayor Percy Kabloona from Whale Cove, who is in the gallery. I would also like to welcome Mr. James Eetoolook, vice-president of NTI, who is in the gallery. Welcome to our House.

---Applause

Item 2, Ministers' statements. The honourable Member for Mackenzie Delta, Mr. Nerysoo.

Minister's Statement 22-12(6): Progress With The Liquor Law Review
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 239

Richard Nerysoo Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Today I would like to provide the House with a progress report on a significant initiative that is under way in the Department of Safety and Public Services. Honourable Members will be aware that over the past several months, this government has undertaken a comprehensive review of the liquor control legislation and practices in the Northwest Territories. Our goal has been to examine all aspects of the way liquor is regulated, eventually leading to the development of a new Liquor Act.

This review is timely. Specific sections of our current legislation have been amended many times, but the fundamental model for our liquor control system has not been examined in a comprehensive fashion since 1969. Our approach to liquor regulation has not kept pace with many changes that residents of the Northwest Territories have observed over the past 25 years.

Today, our northern communities are besieged with problems arising from the unlawful sale of alcohol, and we repeatedly hear concerns about liquor consumption by young people. Problems have emerged over and over with the enforcement of provisions aimed to establish standards for the licensing and operation of liquor establishments. Regional organizations and local governments are seeking a broader avenue for community-based leadership in addressing regulatory issues that affect people on a daily basis.

Unquestionably, Madam Speaker, it is now time to take a fresh look at the way the sale, distribution, possession and consumption of liquor are regulated in the Northwest Territories. For this purpose, the liquor law review was initiated nine months ago. Our objective has been to work toward the development of a new liquor control framework that is effective, balanced and fully representative of community priorities.

From the outset of the project, it was realized that the solutions to liquor control problems would be found not in departmental offices and boardrooms, but through an open, active discussion with communities.

In June 1994, I announced a major public consultation strategy aimed at identifying northerners' concerns and asking for their suggestions about how our liquor control system can be made better.

Several strategies were employed for advising Northwest Territories residents about the review and for seeking their comments. Correspondence and updates have been distributed throughout the project to licence holders, local governments, aboriginal organizations, social agencies, women's and youth advocacy groups and professional associations. Many of these have responded with written briefs or resolutions that recommended improvements to our liquor legislation.

As well, an information flyer outlining key issues and encouraging public participation was sent to Northwest Territories households in June. An enclosed questionnaire was provided in all official languages so that readers could return their comments or suggestions. To date, over 400 responses have been received coming from communities in all regions of the Northwest Territories.

Project personnel have also travelled to several communities to hear residents' views first-hand, but the planning for community consultations has not been driven from Yellowknife. In each case, local authorities, chambers of commerce or social agencies were informed about the initiative and encouraged to tell our departmental staff how they could fit into the consultation format that best suited community needs.

Accordingly, discussion strategies have varied from one community to another. In Hay River, Pangnirtung and Fort Liard, for instance, the project coordinator met with interagency committees and spoke individually with community leaders. In Broughton Island and Igloolik, on the other hand, formal meetings with the hamlet councillors and members of the alcohol education committees were augmented with phone-in shows on the local radio. In Tuktoyaktuk, Yellowknife and Iqaluit, Fort Smith and other locations, public meetings were arranged by the community leadership or local agencies. In other communities like Fort McPherson, Chesterfield Inlet and Cambridge Bay, emphasis was placed on meeting individually with elders and other residents in their homes or offices.

Project staff were privileged to attend discussions on the liquor law review at last summer's Denendeh national assembly in Lutsel K'e, and at the Deh Cho youth spiritual gathering in Wrigley. Meetings were also held with boards of directors for the Northwest Territories Association of Municipalities and for the Northwest Territories Chamber of Commerce. Input has been received from the Northwest Territories Status of Women Council, the Dene Cultural Institute and the Native Women's Association. Discussions have been held with representatives of other aboriginal organizations all across the Northwest Territories.

The response has been encouraging. Participants have been taking advantage of the opportunity to share their views on our current approach to liquor control, and to suggest better ways for carrying out government regulatory responsibilities.

Madam Speaker, the suggestions received during our current consultations will be summarized in a legislative action paper that I intend to table in November during the current sitting of this House. This document will outline principles that will be used to form the basis of a new Liquor Act.

Honourable Members will have an opportunity to review the legislative action paper in detail, perhaps by referring it to the standing committee for consideration, and to provide the government with recommendations on which principles should be incorporated in legislation. With the feedback received following this Assembly's review of the legislative action paper, Safety and Public Services will then work closely with the Department of Justice to draft new legislation.

I anticipate that a bill containing the new Liquor Act will be available for introduction to the 13th Legislative Assembly as soon as possible, following the fall 1995 territorial election. Madam Speaker, this entire process has been designed to maximize public participation in the development of our new liquor laws. Members of the public have an opportunity to share their ideas now during the preparation of the legislative action paper. They will be able to comment when the Legislative Assembly and its committees are reviewing principles outlined in the paper. And, they will have an opportunity to say what they think when the bill establishing a new Liquor Act is brought forward after the election.

It should be emphasized, Madam Speaker, that consultations initiated over the course of the past summer will continue during the later stages of this process. The legislative action paper, when it is tabled next month, will not dictate solutions but rather summarize the innovative suggestions that northerners have shared with the liquor law review. Madam Speaker, these suggestions have ranged from raising the drinking age to developing new systems and standards for issuing liquor licenses.

People have called for tougher penalties to halt the bootlegging problems that plague our communities. Frequently, too, we have heard that the new liquor legislation should expand local options to empower communities to establish their own systems of liquor control. These ideas, and many others, are now being carefully studied and prepared for inclusion in the legislative action paper. I am looking forward, Madam Speaker, to the opportunity for further discussion and input from all honourable Members when the document is tabled later in this session. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 22-12(6): Progress With The Liquor Law Review
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 240

The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

Thank you. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Natilikmiot, Mr. Ningark.

Congratulating Arctic Rangers
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 240

John Ningark Natilikmiot

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, not quite two months ago, the Northwest Territories had the honour of hosting a visit by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. I, myself, was very proud to have been able to experience such an event. I am also very proud, Madam Speaker, of the northerners who also played a role in the northern visit. I am speaking of the 87 members of the Arctic Rangers from 16 communities who participated during the Queen's visit.

As Members are aware, the Arctic Rangers have a rich tradition of service in the north and I am pleased to see that this tradition, the integrity and the dedication of these individuals have been recognized.

---Applause

Madam Speaker, I wish I had time to name them all, but I will mention the communities that were represented. They included Aklavik, Baker Lake, Cambridge Bay, Coppermine, Fort Smith, Fort Simpson, Fort McPherson, Gjoa Haven, Holman Island, Inuvik, Lac La Martre, Paulatuk, Pelly Bay -- my home community -- Rae Edzo, Repulse Bay, and Taloyoak. The rangers are a positive influence in our communities and excellent role models for our citizens.

Madam Speaker, I am honoured to be able to stand today and recognize them and thank them for being such excellent ambassadors during such an important occasion. If I may, I would like the Members to join me in offering the Arctic Rangers our most sincere congratulations on their participation in the royal visit and on their enduring spirit, courage and commitment to ensuring safety and well-being of northerners. Thank you.

---Applause

Congratulating Arctic Rangers
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 240

The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

Thank you. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Nahendeh, Mr. Antoine.

"investing In Our Future"
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 240

Jim Antoine Nahendeh

Mahsi, Madam Speaker. I rise today to speak about focusing on social issues, as was recommended in the recently-tabled Finance committee report, Investing in our Future. Government was asked to assess its priorities and refocus its efforts on social issues.

This does not mean the government should abandon economic development. What it does mean is we need to build a foundation of healthy, well-educated people and we need to concentrate on this foundation. Madam Speaker, the government can invest money in economic opportunities in a community. But, if some people in the community cannot or will not take advantage of these opportunities, either because of social problems or lack of training or education, then money spent on economic development is not a good investment.

On the other hand, if we invest in our people, then we will be in a position to gain more benefits from economic opportunities that are developed. We must invest in our future by investing in our people. These are long-term investments and the expected returns are also long-term. Benefits should be forthcoming well into the future. In other words, the government should continue with economic development initiatives while, at the same time, ensuring that we are well-equipped to maximize the returns on investments.

Would focusing on social issues be too costly? Can the government afford to develop a social action plan, given the uncertainty of federal funding and increasing demands for government services? These are all legitimate questions to ask. However, I believe that a fundamental shift in emphasis is the way the government can afford to proceed. It is the way to move towards division. The only way we can build a strong foundation for the creation and survival of two new territories.

Madam Speaker, I know we may not get more money from the federal government. Therefore, we will be required to make very wise investments with the scarce resources available. The wisest investments are those focused on our citizens. Mahsi, Madam Speaker.

---Applause

"investing In Our Future"
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 241

The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

Thank you. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Inuvik, Mr. Koe.

Impact Of New Power Rate Structures On Inuvik
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 241

Fred Koe Inuvik

Mahsi, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak about an issue of great concern to the residents of Inuvik. The issue is that the Northwest Territories Power Corporation has applied to the Public Utilities Board for a general rate application proposing new power rate structures. Generally, the new proposed rate structure is based on the Power Corporation covering the actual cost of service and to create new rate zones.

Madam Speaker, this means that over the next two to four years, our rates in Inuvik will increase from the current rate of 26.98 cents per kilowatt hour up to 38.43 cents per kilowatt hour, an increase of 42 per cent. This is intolerable to residents of Inuvik, who are already paying a high cost for

power, as compared to the residents in the other larger centres of the Northwest Territories.

One of the principles in proposing the new rate structures is fairness and equity. If that is so, then I contest that this principle is not being applied in Inuvik's case.

Madam Speaker, I have always stated and emphasized in this House that Inuvik has many unique and different features as compared to most other communities. For example, in Inuvik, the majority of the power ratepayers are now private or commercial users. The Government of the Northwest Territories has nearly completed the privatization of their staff housing and the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation has had a big push on for home ownership. Madam Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to continue my statement.

Impact Of New Power Rate Structures On Inuvik
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 241

The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

The honourable Member is seeking unanimous consent to continue his statement. Are there any nays? There are no nays. Continue, Mr. Koe.

Impact Of New Power Rate Structures On Inuvik
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 241

Fred Koe Inuvik

Also in conjunction with the privatization initiative, recently the Government of the Northwest Territories employees are now having to pay their own power and water bills. Now all of a sudden, we want to hit them with another 42 per cent increase. The impact on the economy of Inuvik, as poor as it is now, will be further impacted. These new rates for commercial users, will have to be passed on to their customers; a double whammy for the residents of Inuvik.

Madam Speaker, I ask that Members of this House and especially the Minister of the Northwest Territories Power Corporation to seriously consider the impacts on Inuvik's residents and the residents of other communities in the proposed zone III if these rate and zone structures are approved. Mahsi.

---Applause

Impact Of New Power Rate Structures On Inuvik
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 241

The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

Thank you. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Yellowknife South, Mr. Whitford.

Congratulating Canadian Coast Guard
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 241

Tony Whitford Yellowknife South

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Today I rise to recognize the great contribution the Canadian Coast Guard makes and has made to the residents of the Northwest Territories over the many years they have been involved in our coastal and inland waters.

---Applause

Coincidentally, Madam Speaker, today marks the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the RCMP schooner, St. Roch in Halifax harbour, marking the end of a two-year voyage for Captain Henry Larson and his crew through the Northwest Passage, both ways. Today as well, myself and some of my colleagues attended a presentation by the Canadian Coast Guard on their joint Canadian and USA scientific expedition to the Arctic waters this past summer.

Madam Speaker, in July of this year, I was at Ogden Point in Victoria to represent the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Honourable John Todd, the Minister for Transportation, in wishing well the two ice breakers participating in the Arctic Ocean Scientific Expedition, 1994. The Canadian Coast Guard ship, the Louis St. Laurent, with Captain Phil Grandy -- whom I will introduce later -- and the US Coast Guard ice breaker, the Polar Sea, with Captain Lawson Brigham were in harbour to take on supplies and equipment and hold an open house to the public after the dedication services.

The expedition, equipped with the latest scientific and electronic navigation technologies, were to sample air, ice, water and ocean bottom for the present and historical conditions of the Arctic environment. Water, ice and mud samples were taken back for further analysis and evaluation of the health of our Arctic waters. In addition to the scientific work, I am proud to say that the Louis St. Laurent was the first Canadian surface ship to reach our part of the North Pole. The St. Laurent was joined at the North Pole by the Polar Sea and later accompanied the Polar Sea on the way back to the Maritimes, over the pole from the Pacific to the Atlantic.

Madam Speaker, my time is up and I seek unanimous consent to continue.

Congratulating Canadian Coast Guard
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 242

The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

Thank you. The honourable Member is seeking unanimous consent. Are there any nays? There are no nays. Continue, Mr. Whitford.