This is page numbers 301 - 332 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 science.

Topics

Members Present

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

---Prayer

Item 1: Prayer
Item 1: Prayer

Page 301

The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

Good afternoon. Prior to going to Ministers' statements, I would like to recognize the Honourable Allan Rock, Member of Parliament for Etobicoke Centre, Minister of Justice and Attorney General for Canada, seated in the gallery. Welcome to the Northwest Territories.

---Applause

Item 2, Ministers' statements. The honourable Member for Tu Nedhe, Mr. Morin.

Minister's Statement 25-12(6): Remote Housing Program
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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Don Morin Tu Nedhe

Thank you, Madam Speaker. I am pleased to advise the Members that Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation will be providing approximately $9 million in capital funding for new social housing units in the Northwest Territories this year.

---Applause

This funding is being provided under the remote housing program for fiscal year 1994-95. I wish to acknowledge and thank the Honourable David Dingwall, Minister responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, for his personal support in finding money within his budget to provide some immediate assistance to us. I am pleased that my efforts, as well as those of other Cabinet Ministers and our Members of Parliament, have resulted in Mr. Dingwall recognizing the urgent housing needs we face.

As Members know, this federal funding will not come close to solving the housing problems here in the Northwest Territories, but it is a start.

I will provide additional information to this House once I have received the program details from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 25-12(6): Remote Housing Program
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

Thank you. Item 2, Ministers' statements. The honourable Member for Keewatin Central, Mr. Todd.

Minister's Statement 26-12(6): NWT Credit Union Week
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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John Todd Keewatin Central

Thank you, Madam Speaker. October 17th to 22nd has been set aside to celebrate National Co-op Week with October 20th being Credit Union Day.

---Applause

This is a hard one to say. On behalf of many co-op members, staff and board of directors of the NWT cooperatives, I would like to declare October 17th to October 22 as NWT Cooperative Week.

I am pleased to extend my warmest greetings to the members of the Northwest Territories cooperative credit union movement as you celebrate co-op week and International Credit Union Day.

This year's theme, the Co-op Family: Building a Better Future...Saluting the 1994 International Year of the Family, reflects the importance that the cooperative and credit union movement places on the family, which it recognizes as the cornerstone of a strong and vibrant society.

My best wishes to the cooperative movement for a productive and enjoyable week, as well as for every success in meeting your objectives in the years to come. Thank you.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 26-12(6): NWT Credit Union Week
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

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

Federal Firearms Legislation
Item 3: Members' Statements

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John Ningark Natilikmiot

Thank you, Madam Speaker. I rise today on behalf of the Ordinary Members' Caucus to speak on an issue that touches us all in the territories. That issue is the proposed legislation relating to gun control. Madam Speaker, the federal government may pass legislation that would require all firearms, including long arms, to be registered. Presently, legislation requires that only restricted weapons must be registered. This proposed initiative, Madam Speaker, could result in significant increases in the administration and enforcement costs.

In the NWT, firearms are used as a tool to support traditional lifestyles of our people. In the Northwest Territories, people use firearms to provide income as well as protection from animals. This legislation, Madam Speaker, would place unnecessary control on the people of the north, as well as present enforcement problems.

Each community could require an enforcement officer to execute this legislation. But this is not all, Madam Speaker. The federal government is also proposing a restriction on ammunition purchases. The intention is to control the sales of ammunition by requiring a firearm acquisition permit to purchase it. The lifestyle of the north provides for fathers, sons, uncles and brothers to hunt together. It is a way of life, Madam Speaker. To limit access to ammunition in this way would pose unnecessary restrictions on our way of life.

Our federal Minister, Mr. Rock, may believe that a mandatory universal registration of firearms in Canada will make it a safer place. Members of the Ordinary Members' Caucus fully support safe use of firearms. We appreciate the Minister travelling to the north to better understand how we use firearms as a part of our traditional lifestyle.

We hope, in preparing legislation, the Minister will acknowledge our unique situation and provide exemptions or other mechanisms which will provide legislation that is practical, safe and realistic in the northern environment. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

---Applause

Federal Firearms Legislation
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

Thank you. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Deh Cho, Mr. Gargan.

Obtaining Pardon For Past Criminal Record
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Samuel Gargan Deh Cho

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, it is with pride that I rise today to inform this House and the public that on August 22nd of this year I was granted a Queen's pardon for all of my past transgressions.

---Applause

What this means, Madam Speaker, is that outside of the run-ins with buffalo and highway patrol, I have been on good behaviour for over 10 years. Madam Speaker, I can put my good behaviour over the last 10 years down to the fact that I am no longer young and foolish. No longer young anyway.

---Applause

And perhaps a bit more mature. Madam Speaker, as you and everyone in this House knows, persons in the public eye are subject to more scrutiny than the average Joe Public. You have to watch what you say and do all the time. I have definitely learned my lesson in that capacity.

The reason, Madam Speaker, that I chose to get up and make this announcement was to encourage other people to take charge of their lives. The process of getting a pardon is not too difficult. What is required is that a person be of good behaviour with no criminal convictions for a period of five years.

However, Madam Speaker, I must warn the public that the process itself can take one to two years from initial application to the granting of a pardon. About 25 years ago, I did some pretty stupid things and I would like to state for the record, Madam Speaker, that even though I am not obliged, I will be making restitutions to the people I have wronged. If I can change, I am sure that everyone else who makes an honest effort can also.

The Northwest Territories and its people have always been famous for giving a person a second chance. All you have to do, Madam Speaker, is take advantage of it. Mahsi cho.

---Applause

Obtaining Pardon For Past Criminal Record
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 302

The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

Thank you. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Yellowknife North, Mr. Ballantyne.

The Canadian Justice System
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Michael Ballantyne Yellowknife North

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Today we are honoured by the visit of the Honourable Allan Rock, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. I think it is an appropriate opportunity to give our viewpoints of the present state of the Canadian justice system.

Four recent rulings by the Supreme Court of Canada have provoked criticisms by places, by victims' organizations, by many politicians and much of the public. The High Court has put so much emphasis on the right of the accused, that the rights of victims and the rights of society at large are being diminished.

I think Members are aware of these four particular cases. I will go through them quickly. One of the cases was that extreme drunkenness might sometimes be used against sexual assault charges. The second decision was one where suspected drunk drivers don't have to take a breathalyser test unless they are given a chance to contact their lawyer first. The third example is DNA evidence linking the accused to the rape of an elderly woman couldn't be used because the police did not follow the proper procedures. And, I just read in the newspaper that last Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that a man who stabbed his wife and killed her by smashing her against a sidewalk curb will get his third chance to argue that he should be acquitted because he was sleep-walking.

Although some legal experts have minimized the actual impact of these rulings on the justice system, at the very least, a strong symbolic message has been sent out to present and future violent offenders that our legal system remains very user-friendly to them. It seems to me, anyhow, that the Canadian justice system is in danger of losing relevance and credibility as it struggles to deal with the harsh realities of violent crimes in today's context with a philosophy of laws and procedures more appropriate to a gentler past era.

Although there is no doubt that intense media coverage of violent crimes often inflames and exaggerates public fears, the fact remains that the face of crime is getting uglier and more chilling .

Madam Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to continue my statement.

The Canadian Justice System
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

The honourable Member is seeking unanimous consent to continue. Are there any nays? There are no nays. Please proceed, Mr. Ballantyne.

The Canadian Justice System
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 303

Michael Ballantyne Yellowknife North

Parents are very concerned that children are not safe anywhere in Canada. They are being kidnapped, attacked and murdered at an alarming rate. Two cases that have, to me, become metaphors for public concern about our legal system are the following: One is the saga of Charles Ng, an individual who had been charged with particularly horrendous tortures and murders in California and who escaped to Canada. Our government and our legal system, I understand, spent close to $4 million over a four-year period before this individual was finally extradited to the United States.

Another very troubling case that Canadians have been following lately is the Paul Teale/Carla Homolka case in Ontario. It seems our system will spend lavish amounts of money to ensure that these types of accused are afforded the very, very best in a legal defence. I think that sometimes, in our almost slavish devotion to making sure justice is done to the accused, we sometimes forget the unspeakable horrors involved in the crimes, the shattered hopes and dreams of families and friends who will never be able to erase the insane cruelty that snuffed out the lives of their children.

It came close to home here in Yellowknife over the last three years. Four young girls have disappeared. The police suspect foul play. I understand also that federally-funded victims' programs are in danger of having their finances cut.

I guess to me the bottom line in a justice system is that of balance. It seems that the government, the system as a whole, lawyers, judges and everyone involved in the system, have to look at many ways to deal with this. This is not a partisan political issue. I made that point to Minister Rock, though the Reform Party and others have made it a prime issue for them. I think it is something that affects all of us. I think, as Minister Rock stated at lunch, it is going to take a diverse number of solutions.

It is a very complex problem and the solutions are obviously going to have to involve enhanced victims' programs, very aggressive intervention for troubled youth, new laws that allow the police and prosecutors to obtain legitimate convictions so that criminals are not getting off on technicalities. There are some cases where stronger deterrents for violent crimes are needed -- longer jail sentences. And, stronger community involvement is needed. This is not something that just the justice system alone can do. It is something that all of us have to be involved in.

It seems to me that in Canada today, Canadians must re-examine and redefine our justice system to ensure it is appropriate to modern realities and that the rights of victims, the rights of society as a whole, as well as the rights of the accused, are looked after in better balance than we do now. I think it is very important that we do that if we are going to continue to say that we, in Canada, have the best justice system in the world. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

---Applause

The Canadian Justice System
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

Thank you. Prior to going on with Members' statements, I would like to recognize a former colleague of ours in the gallery, Nick Sibbeston. Good afternoon and welcome.

---Applause

Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Mackenzie Delta, Mr. Nerysoo.