This is page numbers 275 - 301 of the Hansard for the 12th Assembly, 5th 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 federal.

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. Ningark, Hon. John Pollard, Mr. Pudlat, Mr. Pudluk, Hon. John Todd, Mr. Whitford, Mr. Zoe

---Prayer

Item 1: Prayer
Item 1: Prayer

Page 275

Madam Speaker

Thank you. Good afternoon. Item 2, Ministers' statements. The honourable Member for Hay River, Mr. Pollard.

Minister's Statement 23-12(5): Measures To Control Tobacco Consumption
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 275

John Pollard Hay River

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Good afternoon. Madam Speaker, I am announcing today measures that will hopefully protect government revenues and reinforce our government's commitment to promoting healthy lifestyles in the Northwest Territories.

The federal tobacco tax reduction of $5 per carton of cigarettes and 2.5 cents per gram of loose tobacco, announced last week, has reduced the selling prices of cigarettes and loose tobacco in the Northwest Territories. Since the territorial tobacco tax is based on taxable price, as determined in a quarterly survey of tobacco prices in Yellowknife, tobacco prices would fall again, by about $3 per carton of cigarettes, on April 1, under our existing tobacco tax legislation. That would result in Northwest Territories cigarette prices being more than $8 per carton lower than what they were before the federal tax cut. For our government, this tax reduction of $3 per carton would represent a significant amount of foregone revenues -- an estimated loss of $2 million in 1994-95.

Lower tobacco prices would lead to increased tobacco consumption by Northwest Territories residents. It is well established that tobacco products are a major cause of lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema and many other diseases. In the Northwest Territories, this is a major health concern because our per capita tobacco consumption is generally higher than in the rest of Canada. Nonetheless, over the past few years, progress has been made in reducing tobacco consumption. By imposing relatively high tobacco tax rates together with health awareness programs carried out by the Department of Health, per capita consumption of cigarettes in the Northwest Territories has fallen by over 20 per cent over the past five years. We cannot allow the progress we have made to be reversed.

I am, therefore, proposing to bring forward legislation in this House that will:

-increase the tax on cigarettes; and,

-increase the tax on loose tobacco products by a corresponding amount.

Because this measure will increase the differentials between Northwest Territories tobacco prices and those in Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick, it is necessary that we take additional actions in the area of enforcement.

Under the existing Northwest Territories Tobacco Tax Act, individuals importing tobacco products into the Northwest Territories from other jurisdictions, whether for personal use or resale, must report to the Department of Finance and pay the territorial tax. I have been meeting with the RCMP to discuss ways of ensuring maximum compliance with this provision of the act.

As a further measure to prevent smuggling, I intend to bring forward legislation to this House to assist in the enforcement of the Tobacco Tax Act. This legislation will include increased penalties for non-compliance with the act.

Madam Speaker, in conjunction with the federal anti-smuggling awareness campaign, the Department of Health will be enhancing its own health awareness programs warning residents of the dangers of smoking. It is a well-known fact that individuals who become smokers usually acquire the habit and become addicted as teenagers or as young adults. Our campaign will therefore be aimed primarily at the youth population of the Northwest Territories.

The federal government has announced certain legislative measures regarding the sale of tobacco to young persons. It has outlawed the sale of small "kiddy" packs of cigarettes and it has raised the minimum age for purchasing tobacco products from 16 to 18 years. Madam Speaker, I am proposing that we go one step further and bring forward legislation to this House that will raise the minimum age for purchasing tobacco products in the Northwest Territories from 18 to 19 years. Five Canadian provinces have already raised the minimum age to 19 years. It would also be the same minimum age at which persons can be served liquor at bars and other licensed premises in the Northwest Territories.

I also wish to consider bringing forward legislation that would enable us to withdraw the tobacco vendor's license of any retailer convicted of selling tobacco to minors. Under current legislation, we can withdraw the licenses of retailers convicted for tax-related offenses under the Tobacco Tax Act.

Madam Speaker, we will also be joining forces with the Yukon and the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia in controlling smuggling. We will prepare a coordinated strategy which will include a review of the following options:

- increased investigations and audit activity;

- increased cooperation between provincial/territorial officials, police forces and the RCMP;

- legislation to require tobacco manufacturers to mark tobacco products;

- increased information sharing in areas such as tobacco imports and exports in order to ensure proper accounting to tobacco movements;

- sharing of resources;

- ensuring that the federal government allocate a fair share of incremental federal audit and enforcement resources to the territories and the western provinces; and,

- increased dissemination of information to retailers and consumers on the requirement that they pay tax on their tobacco imports.

Madam Speaker, the measures I have announced today will protect government revenues and discourage contraband in tobacco products. Above all, they represent a significant enhancement of our government's health awareness program. I am confident that residents will be responsive to this program and that the successes we have had in reducing tobacco consumption will continue. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 23-12(5): Measures To Control Tobacco Consumption
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 276

Madam Speaker

Thank you, Mr. Pollard. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Amittuq, Mr. Allooloo.

Michif Conference
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Titus Allooloo Amittuq

Thank you, Madam Speaker. I will finish my Member's statement that I started yesterday. Madam Speaker, Michif is not bad French, as many of the speakers have been made to believe and have felt for many years. It is a real language, rather a group of languages that are spoken by large groups of people in Canada and in the USA. Michif is a truly born Canadian language, actually born before confederation. It is the result of friendly relations between aboriginal people and the French and English.

Michif is taught in some schools and there are some dictionaries and grammar written on it, but it has never been documented in the Northwest Territories before. I would like to thank the resource people who came from Manitoba, especially Guy Lavalee and Audreen Hourie and also those from North Dakota, especially Ida Rose Allard who speaks and teaches Michif Cree.

Madam Speaker, the reason why I am making a Member's statement on this is because I see my language, Inuktitut, evolving everyday, borrowing words from English and French. For example, we borrowed the word "oui," French for "yes." We use the word "Ouibill." And we borrow the word sugar, as "sukaq" and also the word flour "palaugaq." There are so many examples. I believe if I'm speaking to an Inuk mechanic, he would have names for every part of the truck, including pistons, ball bearings and manifolds, in Inuktitut, which have been created since that product has come to our life. We have many examples.

The reason why we are adopting these words is so that our language will survive. It is one of the strongest aboriginal languages in Canada. So many aboriginal languages are endangered and there are only three languages that aren't. One of them is Inuktitut and it will survive because it adapts to all the languages it encounters. Thank you.

---Applause

Michif Conference
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Madam Speaker

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

Congratulating Minister Of Finance For No Decrease In Cigarette Prices
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 276

Tony Whitford Yellowknife South

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Today I rise to congratulate our Minister of Finance, also the Minister of Health, on his position to hold fast on the tobacco tax. I had no idea he was going to make those announcements, but it deals with what is happening across Canada. While the bigger provinces, Madam Speaker, are caving in to the smugglers and the criminal element, the rest are standing ground.

Madam Speaker, yesterday, Ontario lowered its cigarette tax by $9.68 per carton, bringing it to $28 per carton in Quebec and New Brunswick. The stand that the western provinces and the territories -- while very commendable from the health point -- have raised fears among the provincial Health Ministers that there will be a dramatic increase in young smokers and a decline in quitters now that the cost of cigarettes are lower. The fear may be well founded, based on the vast quantities of cigarettes that are coming back into Canada from the United States and elsewhere. If the news can be believed, Madam Speaker, there is a much higher cigarette production occurring now in Canada. Someone has to be smoking those cigarettes.

The stand against the lowering of the tax, however, can be likened to the little Dutch boy that stuck his thumb into the dyke and saved the country from flooding. It may well be that there are not enough thumbs left and even then, I fear that the flood will breach the dam before summer is out and that the smugglers will again win and the health of our people will lose. As a matter of fact, we will all lose if that happens.

So congratulations, Minister of Health.

---Applause

Congratulating Minister Of Finance For No Decrease In Cigarette Prices
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 276

Madam Speaker

Thank you. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Baffin South, Mr. Pudlat.

Construction Of Wharf In Lake Harbour
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 277

Kenoayoak Pudlat Baffin South

(Translation) Thank you, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, the community of Lake Harbour has been asking the Government of the Northwest Territories, for many years, to construct a wharf in Lake Harbour. The harbour is very heavily used by local hunters during the summer and fall. Each year it seems there is at least one boat that capsizes in the harbour due to high winds.

The harbour is also affected by very strong currents due to some of the highest tides in the world. The community has instructed me to pursue this matter with the government. I will be asking the Minister of Transportation about what specific future plans it has on constructing a wharf for Lake Harbour. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

---Applause

Construction Of Wharf In Lake Harbour
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 277

Madam Speaker

Thank you. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Yellowknife Centre, Mr. Lewis.

Transportation Corridor For The North
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 277

Brian Lewis Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Madam Speaker. The fact that the Izok Lake deposit is no longer on the agenda to be mined in the near future makes me think that people will now talk about no longer having a need for infrastructure, because one of the dreams of Yellowknifers was to have a road that would eventually go to Izok Lake and then to the coast. Many people in Yellowknife, in the mining community, knew as much as a year ago, Madam Speaker, that there were many deposits in the world that could be mined a lot cheaper than the one at Izok Lake. There was some degree of scepticism that this project would proceed, only to find out that the road to Yellowknife and beyond, along the Ingraham Trail was built at a time when there was a vision of a road to resources. I was very happy this summer when Mr. Todd asked us to contribute to a revision of his transportation strategy. Yellowknife MLAs agreed that one priority that would certainly deserve to be considered and included in this strategy was a continuation of that trail to McKay Lake, which is in the vicinity of many deposits, approximate to the diamond fields and would be an advantage to our economy and to an eventual transportation corridor for the north.

So, Madam Speaker, it remains a priority for Yellowknifers to have a corridor which would make those resources around the Lac de Gras area more accessible so other places in the Northwest Territories could take some economic advantage of that development. Thank you very much.

---Applause

Transportation Corridor For The North
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 277

Madam Speaker

Thank you. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Aivilik, Mr. Arvaluk.

Selection Of Senior Men's Hockey Team For Arctic Winter Games
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 277

James Arvaluk Aivilik

Thank you, Madam Speaker. I would like to first congratulate the Coral Harbour senior men's hockey team for coming in second place in the territorial trials.

---Applause

Considering the fact that they have only had an arena for a few years, they have certainly excelled in that short time. I must say, Madam Speaker, I am very proud of them. Unfortunately, not one of these players from the Coral Harbour team were selected for the senior men's hockey team...

Selection Of Senior Men's Hockey Team For Arctic Winter Games
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 277

Some Hon. Members

Nay, nay.