This is page numbers 585 - 620 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 chairman.

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

---Prayer

Speaker's Ruling

Item 1: Prayer
Item 1: Prayer

Page 585

The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

Thank you. Good afternoon. Before beginning orders of the day, I would like to provide my ruling on the point of privilege raised by the Honourable Richard Nerysoo on Friday, March 4, 1994. Members may recall, Mr. Nerysoo's point of privilege was twofold. He expressed concern with respect to a Member's statement made by the Member for Yellowknife Frame Lake, Mr. Charles Dent, on February 29, 1994. Secondly, he raised a concern with respect to the media's interpretation of Mr. Dent's statement.

By way of background, Mr. Dent had risen under the item, Members' statements, on Monday, February 28, indicating he was speaking on behalf of the Ordinary Members' Caucus, to voice the concerns of the OMC with respect to the absence of the Minister from the House during the budget process. Specifically, Mr. Dent had indicated a concern that Members had only been advised of the Minister's absence that morning and felt that this reflected and I quote, "a cavalier attitude" on the part of the Minister given that this department estimates were being considered by the House.

The Honourable Richard Nerysoo took exception to this statement and, in raising his point of privilege, stated on page 1218 of unedited Hansard, "The honourable Member for Yellowknife Frame Lake and other Members have suggested that somehow I'm guilty of not advising anyone, this House, my colleagues and other Members." Mr. Nerysoo went on to state, "They have found that I was not willing to be present without finding out all the facts about whether I had advised any of my colleagues and this House of my absence."

Upon his return from meetings in southern Canada, Mr. Nerysoo tabled on March 2, extracts from unedited Hansard of February 16, which indicated that he had in the course of a Minister's statement made that day, advised the House of his expected absence towards the end of February.

The basis of the honourable Member's point of privilege is that the statements made by Mr. Dent, and subsequently reported in the media, were a challenge to his personal honour, his character and his integrity.

Due to the significance of the issue raised, and the Member's obvious concern, Mr. Lewis, the Deputy Speaker, asked for debate so as to assist the chair in arriving at a decision. Mr. Dent responded to the point of privilege by stating and I quote from unedited Hansard on page 1220, "The Minister has been back in the House for two and one half days now, and this point was not raised when it was first possible." Mr. Dent further stated that his statement was made on behalf of the Ordinary Members' Caucus, so obviously ordinary Members were not aware that the Minister was going to be away. He felt that if there was a breakdown in communication that this issue was one that should be addressed in another forum and was not appropriately the topic of a point of privilege.

As Members know, rules 19(2) provides that "When a matter of privilege arises, it shall be taken into consideration immediately." Our rules also provide in rule 19(1) that, "A Member may always raise a question of privilege in the Assembly immediately after the words are uttered or the events occur that give rise to the question." Finally, for the point of privilege to be dealt with in a substantive fashion by this House, I must first determine whether (a) that there has been a prima facie breach of privilege and (b) that the matter has been raised at the earliest opportunity.

On the first issue of whether a prima facie case of privilege exists, I have reflected on the role and purpose that parliamentary privilege plays within a democratic system. As Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms, 6th edition, states at citation 24, "Parliamentary privilege is a sum of the peculiar rights enjoyed by each House collectively as a constituent part of the high court of Parliament and by Members of each House individually, without which they could not discharge their functions and which exceed those possessed by other bodies or individuals...The privileges of Parliaments are those rights which are 'absolutely necessary for the due execution of its powers'."

I note that Mr. Nerysoo also offered this citation in his argument on the point of privilege.

I also direct the Members to Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms, 6th edition, citation 69 which states, "The Speaker has reminded the House, 'It is very important to indicate that something can be inflammatory, can be disagreeable, can even be offensive, but it may not be a question of privilege unless the comment actually impinges upon the ability of Members of Parliament to do their job properly'."

After reviewing the portions of unedited Hansard dealing with Mr. Dent's Member's statement, Mr. Nerysoo's tabling of Hansard extracts in reply and Mr. Nerysoo's point of privilege, I find that Mr. Nerysoo does not have a point of privilege. What is clear from unedited Hansard is that Mr. Nerysoo and Mr. Dent both have differing recollections of whether the House was advised of Mr. Nerysoo's planned absence earlier than the Minister's statement made by the Government House Leader on February 28. Disagreement between Members may give rise to one Member taking offence at the statement of another, however, I do not believe, on these facts, that the statements made by Mr. Dent were serious or offensive so as to attract the broad protection of parliamentary privilege. In reaching my decision on the matter, I have relied on citation 31(1) of Beauchesne's which states, "A dispute arising between two Members as to allegations of facts, does not fulfil the conditions of parliamentary privilege." I find that Mr. Dent's statements, and the obvious dispute here as to the facts, are not comparable to the factual situation cited in Beauchesne's citations 64 to 66 and citation 70 wherein prima facie breaches of privilege were found.

It is not the chair's responsibility to determine if Mr. Nerysoo or Mr. Dent's facts are correct unless there is an obvious breach of privilege. In reviewing this matter, it became evident that although not a breach of privilege, there were certain actions that need to be considered by all Members when making statements and following House procedures. I would suggest that there may be a need to tighten up the procedures for informing the House of the absences of Ministers and perhaps this could be addressed by the Government House Leader and the Cabinet. I am sure it would greatly assist the ordinary Members if the House could be advised, not on the day of the Minister's absence, but prior to the required absence of the particular Minister.

Item 1: Prayer
Item 1: Prayer

Page 586

An Hon. Member

Agreed.

Item 1: Prayer
Item 1: Prayer

Page 586

The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

I would also urge that when ordinary Members and, in fact, all Members are going to make statements in this House, they do the necessary research and make every effort to present their facts correctly prior to speaking on an issue. This careful attention could avoid these types of disagreements. Our Legislative Assembly is a forum for discussion of serious issues affecting northerners, it is not a forum which should be treated lightly or without respect for the accuracy of facts that are cited within this House.

I would also like to comment on the Member's lack of timeliness in raising his point of privilege. The statements alleged to be offensive were spoken on February 28, 1994. The records of the House indicate that Mr. Nerysoo was present in the House on March 2 and 3, 1994. Mr. Nerysoo did not raise his point of privilege until half way through House proceedings on March 4, 1994, notwithstanding the fact that he was clearly aware of Mr. Dent's statement as evidenced by tabling on March 2, 1994, extracts from Hansard dealing with his travel plans. Our rules clearly provide that a point of privilege must be raised at the first available opportunity and I rule that, in this case, the honourable Member for Mackenzie Delta did not raise his point of privilege in a timely fashion as required by our rules.

In addition, I would like to advise Members that the statements reflecting on the conduct of a Member in his or her capacity as a Member in and out of the House, tends to lower the integrity of the House as a whole in the eyes of the public. There are actions which, while not directly, in a physical way obstruct the House or a Member, which may not be a point of privilege, but nevertheless could obstruct the House in the performance of its functions by diminishing the respect due to it. I would suggest that reflections upon Members and their activities during proceedings are equivalent to reflections on or of the House. I trust that Members will reflect prior to making remarks to ensure that the dignity and integrity of this institution is held in high regard by the people of the Northwest Territories. Thank you.

---Applause

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

Minister's Statement 45-12(5): Outcome Of Meetings In Toronto And Ottawa
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 586

John Todd Keewatin Central

Thank you, Madam Speaker. I would like to take this opportunity to inform Members of this House of the results of my trip to Toronto and Ottawa last week.

On March 7 and 9, Mr. Kelvin Ng, Mr. Henry Zoe, Mr. Michael Ballantyne, Mr. Charles Dent and myself attended the annual Prospectors and Developers Association meeting in Toronto.

I was pleased to note the large northern component to this conference and the general excitement amongst participants about mineral development, particularly with regard to the potential of the ongoing diamond explorations in the Northwest Territories.

Aside from the Government of the Northwest Territories' booth, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, the city of Yellowknife and several northern businesses had booths in the main pavilion.

Madam Speaker, the Toronto conference provided the opportunity for our delegation to meet privately with Dr. Klaus Zeitler, president and chief executive officer of Metall Mining Ltd and Mr. John Stephensen, president of Kennecott Canada Inc to discuss their companies' plans for mineral development in the Slave geological corridor.

During our meeting with Metall, Dr. Zeitler confirmed that the Izok Lake Project has been delayed because of low base metal prices, the record stockpiles of metal and the high transportation costs associated with this project.

However, both Metall and Kennecott indicated that there is some requirement for transportation infrastructure to ensure the economic viability of mining projects in the Slave geological corridor.

While all parties recognized that sole government financing for this type of infrastructure is highly improbable, I stressed our government's commitment to look for new and creative ways to finance transportation infrastructure in partnership with industry and the aboriginal claimant groups.

Both Metall and Kennecott agreed to participate in a joint government/industry working committee to identify infrastructure needs and financing options for the orderly development of the mining potential in the Slave geological corridor.

In Ottawa, the Honourable John Pollard and myself met with the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to discuss, amongst other issues, mining developments in the Slave corridor and also the government's role in assisting the orderly development of the mining potential of this region. To this end, Minister Irwin has agreed to identify a senior departmental staff member to participate in the joint working group on infrastructure.

Madam Speaker, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development also agreed to begin negotiations for the eventual devolution of responsibility for oil and gas and minerals to the Government of the Northwest Territories.

As I have stated previously in this House, such an agreement is essential to ensure that the interests of all northerners are protected should major non-renewable resource projects proceed.

Over the next several months, the Department of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources will be meeting with all interested organizations, including all the aboriginal claimant groups to discuss this initiative and ensure that they are kept fully abreast of these negotiations.

Madam Speaker, this trip also provided the opportunity to introduce the transportation agenda to several federal Ministers. Although no substantive discussions were held on the financing for the agenda, I intend to pursue this matter with my federal counterparts in the immediate future.

I also met with the Honourable John Manley, Minister of Industry, on March 8, to discuss the current negotiations on internal trade. This issue is of great importance to the Northwest Territories as we require assurance that our business incentive and affirmative action policies are protected prior to entering into any agreement that would reduce internal trade barriers.

I intend to reinforce this point with Minister Manley and my provincial counterparts again in Halifax next month at the meeting of Ministers of Internal Trade.

Madam Speaker, before I conclude, I would like to particularly thank our two Members of Parliament, the Honourable Ethel Blondin-Andrew and Mr. Jack Anawak, for taking time out of their busy schedules to attend the meetings in Ottawa and for lending their support to the Government of the Northwest Territories' position on these issues. Thank you.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 45-12(5): Outcome Of Meetings In Toronto And Ottawa
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 587

The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

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

Minister's Statement 46-12(5): Northern Health Services Network
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 587

John Pollard Hay River

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Good afternoon. Madam Speaker, I am pleased to advise this House that, with the support of affected health and hospital boards, the Department of Health has signed a letter of understanding with the Royal Alexandra Hospital (RAH) in Edmonton. This is the first step in a process which will result in the development of an organized support arrangement for the NWT health system in the western Arctic and Kitikmeot.

Preparation for the arrangement included discussions with board chairs, executive directors and professional staff members of the Fort Smith Health Centre, the H H Williams Memorial Hospital, the Inuvik regional health board, the Kitikmeot health board, Stanton Yellowknife Hospital and the Mackenzie regional health service and included a recent visit to Royal Alexandra Hospital by board representatives.

Briefly, the primary objectives are:

1. To formalize the status of the Royal Alexandra Hospital as the principal referral centre for residents of western Arctic communities, as well as the Kitikmeot and as the facilitator for access to services provided by its partner institutions and agencies in Edmonton; and,

2. To provide support arrangements for the department, health and hospital boards and health professionals in the NWT, in the interests of improving the health of and health services for NWT residents with the aim of providing services as close to home as possible.

The signed letter of understanding forms the basis upon which a formal agreement can now be developed. This will require the active involvement of boards on a joint steering committee to guide the process. I have asked the deputy minister of Health to expedite the creation of a steering committee with representation from Stanton Yellowknife Hospital, the NWT Medical Association, the Department of Health, the affected health boards and Royal Alexandra Hospital and to proceed with the development of a formal agreement. Madam Speaker, I might add that there may be other people we'll consult with in that process.

In the interim, the Royal Alexandra Hospital will create an administrative unit to deal with NWT health service requirements and make specific support arrangements, including additional efforts to meet the language and cultural requirements of aboriginal residents.

Royal Alexandra Hospital supports the inclusion of NWT representation on the governing board of Royal Alexandra Hospital and on any successor board that might be created.

The department believes that this initiative has the potential to secure and improve health services for NWT residents who must be treated in Alberta, while supporting the maximum use of NWT resources. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Minister's Statement 46-12(5): Northern Health Services Network
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 587

The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

Thank you. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Prior to going to Members' statements, I want to advise this House that I have received a letter dated March 15 to the Honourable Jeannie Marie-Jewell, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. "Dear Madam Speaker, I wish to advise that I recommend to the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories the passage of Bill 14, An Act to Amend the Borrowing Authorization Act, during the Fifth Session of the 12th Legislative Assembly. Yours truly, D L Norris, Commissioner."

Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Natilikmiot, Mr. Ningark.

Workers' Training Fund Initiative
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 588

John Ningark Natilikmiot

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, the NWT workers' training fund initiative has been well received by the communities and the people of the NWT. Many young people have been given the opportunity to take advantage of such an initiative. Although we were not able to please everyone, we were able to help many young women and men to gain some work experience which will prepare them for the future.

I would like to commend the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment for a job well done.

---Applause

Workers' Training Fund Initiative
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 588

The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

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

Search For Missing Hunters
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 588

Titus Allooloo Amittuq

(Translation) Thank you, Madam Speaker. I would like to inform the House of a search and rescue that recently took place in my constituency, specifically, Igloolik. (Translation ends)

On February 27, 1994, Eric Nutarareak and David Irquittug left to go hunting and planned to return home the next day. When the two hunters had not arrived by March 1, the community became concerned and organized a search of the area where the two men were thought to be hunting. Ground search parties sent from Igloolik and Hall Beach, however, did not have success.

On March 3, the air search people provided the use of their twin otter aircraft with local spotters. The community also received assistance from the GNWT through the community organized search for missing persons policy. The extensive and intensive search continued for the next five days.

Madam Speaker, I'm very happy to report that on the evening of Monday, March 7, 1994, the two hunters were found alive and were airlifted from the site the next morning. After the medical examination, Eric Nutarareak was released while David Irquittug of Hall Beach was medevaced to the Baffin Regional Hospital in Iqaluit with severe frostbitten feet. I'm informed that Mr. Irquittug is in good spirits although he may be required to receive further medical treatment for some time to come.

I would very much like to thank the residents of Igloolik and Hall Beach, the RCMP, and the emergency measures office of the Department of MACA in Iqaluit for coordinating their efforts which resulted in the successful conclusion of this search and rescue operation. Thank you.

---Applause

Search For Missing Hunters
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 588

The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

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

Lack Of Morgues In Northern Communities
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 588

Kenoayoak Pudlat Baffin South

(Translation) Thank you, Madam Speaker. We all know that when a person from our family and community dies it is a very difficult and confusing time. Unfortunately, there is a long-standing situation in my constituency that makes this time much worse. This situation I'm speaking of is the lack of morgues or designated facilities in northern communities. When a person dies, the body needs to be maintained at a special temperature to prevent the onset of decomposition.

Presently, there are no such facilities available in my constituency. I'm sure that this is the case in other communities as well. There are many times when the body has to be held while awaiting autopsy, planes and relatives to attend funerals. In this case, there are no temporary resting places set up in the communities and they are forced to use the community freezer or bury them right away.

Madam Speaker, this situation is not acceptable to my constituents. It is time that the Government of the Northwest Territories provide funding to set up the required facilities in our communities to make this difficult time for people less traumatic and restore some dignity to those who have died. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Lack Of Morgues In Northern Communities
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 588

The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

Thank you. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Iqaluit, Mr. Patterson.