This is page numbers 115 - 148 of the Hansard for the 12th Assembly, 7th 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, Mr. Arvaluk, Mr. Ballantyne, Hon. Nellie Cournoyea, Mr. Dent, Hon. Samuel Gargan, Hon. Stephen Kakfwi, Mr. Koe, Mr. Lewis, Mrs. Marie-Jewell, Ms. Mike, Hon. Don Morin, Hon. Richard Nerysoo, Hon. Kelvin Ng, Mr. Ningark, Mr. Patterson, Hon. John Pollard, Mr. Pudlat, Hon. John Todd, Mr. Whitford, Mr. Zoe

---Prayer

Item 1: Prayer
Item 1: Prayer

Page 115

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Pudlat. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Mr. Kakfwi.

Minister's Statement 14-12(7): Canada's First Ambassador For Circumpolar Affairs
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 115

Stephen Kakfwi Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Canada's first ambassador for circumpolar affairs, Mary Simon, is visiting Yellowknife today and tomorrow, the 16th and 17th of this month.

Ambassador Simon is well-known to Members of this Assembly for her work as past-president of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference and for her role over the past decade in national constitutional negotiations.

For several years, this government has supported the call for an ambassador for circumpolar affairs as a means of elevating and strengthening Canada's Arctic diplomacy. We had also stressed the importance of appointing a northerner to this post. Therefore, we were extremely pleased when Ms. Simon was appointed by Foreign Affairs Minister, Andre Ouellet, in October 1994.

Ambassador Simon will ensure that the federal government has a northern circumpolar perspective in the development and conduct of Canada's foreign policy. She is to be commended for moving quickly to consult with northern aboriginal peoples and governments which have a background in circumpolar affairs.

Until recently, Canada's foreign policy interests in the Arctic region were centred around Canadian sovereignty and strategic concerns. However, as the recently-released federal government statement on foreign policy states: "The focus in the Canadian Arctic is increasingly on non-traditional security threats. Canada's recent appointment of an ambassador for circumpolar affairs will increase the focus on such threats."

The new concerns include such matters as threats to the environment with the resulting costs for traditional ways of life of aboriginal peoples.

One of the purposes of Ambassador Simon's visit to Yellowknife this week is to advise this government and the

Members of this Assembly about her duties and mandate as Canada's circumpolar ambassador.

In addition, she will be updating us on a Canadian foreign policy objective which is very important for this region; namely, the establishment of an "Arctic Council." The Arctic Council would be comprised of eight Arctic governments: Canada, the United States, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and Sweden; and would provide a forum for promoting international cooperation and for addressing the full range of Arctic issues.

The Government of the Northwest Territories has also supported the creation of an Arctic council which would include the participation of aboriginal peoples.

The United States has not yet agreed to join the Arctic council initiative. Their willingness to participate is seen as essential by most of the other circumpolar nations. Ambassador Simon has been to Washington and Alaska and will be updating us on her discussions with them on this and other issues.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, the ambassador's visit will provide this government and this Assembly with an opportunity to discuss with her our circumpolar concerns and priorities. I want to take this opportunity, again, to congratulate Mary Simon on her appointment to this important post, and to express our willingness to work with her over the next few days and in the coming months and years. Thank you.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 14-12(7): Canada's First Ambassador For Circumpolar Affairs
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 115

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Kakfwi. I also would like to recognize Mary Simon, Canada's first ambassador to circumpolar affairs, in the Speaker's gallery.

---Applause

Item 2, Ministers' statements. Ms. Cournoyea.

Minister's Statement 15-12(7): Portfolio Responsibilities
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 115

Nellie Cournoyea Nunakput

I wish to advise the Members that the Honourable Kelvin Ng will be responsible for the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs, effective today. Thank you.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 15-12(7): Portfolio Responsibilities
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 115

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Our congratulations, Mr. Ng. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Mr. Kakfwi.

Minister's Statement 16-12(7): Justice Ministers' Meeting
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 116

Stephen Kakfwi Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Last month, in January, I attended a meeting of Ministers of Justice in Victoria, British Columbia. We were joined on the last day of that three-day meeting by Ministers of Health from a number of provinces to address issues of common interest, particularly the challenge of finding solutions for dealing with high-risk and violent offenders who we feel are likely to offend again upon being released from prison.

The agenda for the meetings was extremely ambitious, covering a wide range of areas in the reform of justice, both in the criminal law and the civil law. There were three agenda items which I want to report on, because of their significance to Members and the people of the north: firearms control, the intoxication defence and the Young Offenders Act.

Ministers discussed the proposed amendments to the Criminal Code in the area of gun control. The Ministers of Justice from Saskatchewan, Alberta, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories have identified a common position with respect to universal registration of all firearms. We are opposed to universal registration and have expressed our opposition on numerous occasions to Minister Rock. We believe it is an unwarranted intrusion into the lives of people who are not criminals, and there is no evidence that it will in fact reduce crime with firearms. The cost, we believe, cannot be justified at a time when other more worthwhile programs are being cut.

I also expressed that there will inevitably be challenges from aboriginal people on the basis that universal registration does not meet the requirements of the Sparrow decision of the Supreme Court.

The four western jurisdictions took the position that the proposed regime be introduced on a pilot basis in those jurisdictions which support universal registration. We received some support for that approach, but not from the federal government, which is determined to proceed with the proposed changes as they were. As you know, legislation was tabled in the House of Commons on the 14th of this month. The Northwest Territories, along with these other jurisdictions, will continue to press for changes to ensure that they do not infringe on the rights and the lifestyles of all northerners.

Last fall, the northern public reacted with horror at the decision of the Supreme Court in the Daviault case, where the court ruled that extreme drunkenness approaching automatism or insanity can be a defence to crimes of violence; in that case, sexual assault. The federal government promptly undertook a consultation and review to determine legislative options for dealing with this unfortunate result.

In Victoria, I informed my colleagues that we had the highest rate of sexual assault in the country, and that these assaults were often committed in a state of extreme drunkenness. The decision of the Supreme Court has left women feeling unsafe. The only option is to legislate a removal of extreme drunkenness as a defence to violent crimes. All jurisdictions supported this position, and I was also encouraged by the response of Minister Rock. I am optimistic that the federal government will take appropriate action to address the issue in the current session of Parliament.

All jurisdictions, including the Northwest Territories, feel that changes are needed to the Young Offenders Act, but we, like other jurisdictions, feel that amendments to the act should not be made until a thorough review has been conducted through the Parliamentary Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs and the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Task Force on Young Offenders.

Unfortunately, the federal government is determined to proceed with the current amendments in Bill C-37, against our better advice, and the advice of the vast majority of intervenors in the hearings on those amendments. We have a number of concerns on the proposed amendments and have expressed those to the federal government. The NWT is represented on the federal/provincial/territorial task force which is undertaking a thorough review of the young offender system, including the act, where we continue to pursue our concerns.

The meeting that we had was lively, because the pace of legal reform these days is hectic compared to the more tranquil past. I welcome the commitment for reform, but it will inevitably bring the federal government into conflict with provincial and territorial jurisdictions if the federal government is excessively hasty in proposing changes because of the political pressures of the day. This, I believe, is the case with the proposed firearms legislation. On the other hand, we cannot move too quickly to address the effects of the drunkenness defence brought about by the Supreme Court decision. Thank you.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 16-12(7): Justice Ministers' Meeting
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 116

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Item 2, Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. Mr. Whitford.

The A Y Jackson Painting Collection
Item 3: Members' Statements

February 16th, 1995

Page 116

Tony Whitford Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and please allow me to offer my congratulations to Mr. Ng on his appointment to the Cabinet. I, like my colleagues, wish him well and look forward to working with him in whatever portfolios he receives. He has only got one now, but we will look forward to working with the others as he gets them.

Mr. Speaker, growing up in Fort Smith and attending the public schools there, I recall the very large prints of the rugged Canadian landscapes painted by the Group of Seven Canadian artists dominating our walls. Included among those prints were some of the works of A Y Jackson. Mr. Speaker, Members will know that Jackson spent considerable time as a painter in the Northwest Territories, painting such scenes as the Great Slave Lake countryside, the village of Dettah, the young city of Yellowknife, CMNS and Giant Mines, as they were then; and, while at Great Bear Lake, the Eldorado Mine at Point Radium, the countryside around Port Radium, Great Bear Lake and landscapes.

A Y Jackson's paintings have captured forever the beauty, strength, colour and ruggedness of the northern landscapes for future generations. While most of his paintings were kept by the Department of Resources and Development and in the Eldorado collection, a few ended up in private collections. In recent years, our government has been reacquiring these valuable collections, bit by bit. In 1988, most were returned to the north to be housed until a suitable gallery could be found. More recently, they were reunited with the Eldorado collection of some 90 pieces.

In late January, the Commissioner most generously agreed to display them in our Caucus room; a room very well suited and much visited by the public. Mr. Speaker, I sincerely hope that now that we have this permanent Assembly building, the A Y Jackson collection will also have a permanent home here in the place of the people, so that the public can also enjoy this northern asset. I believe this was the intention of the patrons of the collection and I would like to thank the Commissioner for her forethought and generosity in returning the A Y Jackson works to the people of the north. Thank you.

---Applause

The A Y Jackson Painting Collection
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 117

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Whitford. Item 3, Members' statements. Mr. Ningark.

Birthing Centre In Taloyoak
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 117

John Ningark Natilikmiot

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to, first of all, congratulate you on your successful bid to the office of the Speaker and my colleague from the Kitikmeot, Kelvin Ng. Congratulations. I would like to thank the Members who voted for my colleague and thank the Members who ran for the Cabinet position.

Mr. Speaker, Taloyoak, formerly Spence Bay, has been endeavouring to establish a birthing centre as a service to expectant mothers in that vicinity; namely, Gjoa Haven, Pelly Bay and Taloyoak. Mr. Speaker, we all know this requires very careful consideration especially when we are dealing with an issue of potential medical complications to expectant mothers and unborn babies.

Mr. Speaker, what benefit do we expect from a facility such as a birthing centre? Perhaps we can cut costs by not sending pregnant women away from home. Of course, this is not the main issue in this case. Mr. Speaker, the issue is, let us give some freedom of choice to pregnant mothers, if they are so inclined to do so. Mr. Speaker, the concept of building birthing centres in the regions is of very good merit. There are experienced midwives who are aboriginal people who have given birth in camps, without the help of medical practitioners. Mr. Speaker, during the appropriate time, I will be asking the appropriate Minister some questions about this issue. Thank you.

---Applause

Birthing Centre In Taloyoak
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 117

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Item 3, Members' statements. Ms. Mike.

Violence And The Justice System
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 117

Rebecca Mike Baffin Central

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, my colleagues and honourable Members. Most of you are aware, through the media, of an incident which happened to me on December 24th of last year when I was the victim of violence in trying to stop a fight. This incident happened between 11:00 am and 12:00 noon. Mr. Speaker, I feel I was victimized twice: Once by the offender; and, once by our government when I was asked to step down from my Cabinet post by our Premier.

Mr. Speaker, I am making this statement not in haste but with the concern I have in the way in which our Premier has exercised her authority in dismissing her Cabinet Ministers in the past. It has not been consistent, nor in line with parliamentary procedures, nor in the tradition of this government. Other jurisdictions have procedures in place that, over time, have been tried and tested.

Mr. Speaker, what I would like to say to my colleagues, the citizens of the NWT, and especially my constituents is this: After the incident on the 24th of December, upon my return to Yellowknife on December 27th, I informed our Premier in detail of the incident, whereby she advised me to get in touch with the Cabinet deputy minister. Again, I told him in detail about the incident. I was assured not to worry, although I did indicate that if the press got a hold of it, they would make more of it than what it was.

Mr. Speaker, this was on December 27th. It wasn't until January 10th, when news of the incident came out through CBC, that I heard concerns from our Premier. Mr. Speaker, there was an investigation done on events surrounding the incident and the results...

Violence And The Justice System
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 117

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

I'm sorry, Ms. Mike. Ms. Mike.