This is page numbers 261 - 280 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 social.

Topics

Members Present

Mr. Antoine, Hon. Silas Arngna'naaq, Mr. Ballantyne, Hon. Nellie Cournoyea, Mr. Dent, Hon. Samuel Gargan, Hon. Stephen Kakfwi, Mr. Koe, Mr. Lewis, Mrs. Marie-Jewell, Hon. Don Morin, Hon. Richard Nerysoo, Hon. Kelvin Ng, Mr. Ningark, Hon. John Pollard, Mr. Pudlat, Hon. John Todd, Mr. Whitford, Mr. Zoe

---Prayer

Item 1: Prayer
Item 1: Prayer

Page 261

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Pudlat. Orders of the day. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements.

Holding A Spring Election
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 261

Jeannie Marie-Jewell Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, earlier this week one of my colleagues rose to talk about when the next territorial election should be. He said two years ago he argued for an early election but there was no interest. Mr. Speaker, many things have changed over the past two years. The most important to me, as a Member of this Assembly, is the decline in public confidence both in the government and the Legislative Assembly and many things have contributed to that decline.

In the rest of the country, governments are balancing their budgets and reducing their debt. Here, the government has budgeted itself out of an accumulated surplus and into a situation where we will have a debt of $38 million. This comes at a time when the federal government is trying to deal with the national debt. If our federal budget is cut by a large amount next year, we will be in a very bad deficit situation.

As well, in this time of financial trouble, we need to consider the additional cost of holding a by-election in the riding of our former colleague, Mr. Arvaluk. If a spring election were held, the government would not have to spend our limited resources on this by-election. Residents of the riding could elect a new representative as part of the general election. Two years ago, Mr. Speaker, the government had its negotiations with the UNW settled. Now public service employees are about to enter into their second year without a new contract. In fact, we are aware that the government and the UNW have had to go to arbitration.

In the past two years there have been frequent changes to the Cabinet and leadership of the Assembly. For example, when we take the department of MACA, it has had five different Ministers in the past year and a half and a total of seven new Ministers since this Cabinet was formed. Mr. Speaker, although Members adopted a code of ethics and a statement of zero tolerance for violence...

Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to continue my Member's statement.

Holding A Spring Election
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 261

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

The Member for Thebacha is seeking unanimous consent. Are there any nays? There are no nays. Please proceed, Mrs. Marie-Jewell.

Holding A Spring Election
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 261

Jeannie Marie-Jewell Thebacha

Thank you. Thank you, honourable Members. Mr. Speaker, although Members adopted a code of ethics and a statement of zero tolerance for violence, the public perception is that these are not being followed. Particularly in the last year, public inquiries, criminal offences, violent situations involving alcohol and, most recently, lawsuits involving Members of the Assembly have frequently been in the news. People are wondering when these things they read are going to come to a stop.

A concern has been raised that if an early election is called, current MLAs will catch potential opponents unaware and will have an unfair advantage. Mr. Speaker, I do not believe this will be the case. All northerners who are interested know this is an election year. Anyone considering running for the Assembly is probably already thinking about it and preparing. I even know that one of my opponents is having an election meeting on February 27th, which I commend him for. In fairness, I'm even giving him free press. This is a democratic process which we enjoy as Canadians.

Decisions about the timing of the next election, Mr. Speaker, are usually made in private. However, Mr. Speaker, I agree with Mr. Lewis that this issue should be decided through public discussion in this Assembly.

---Applause

I sense that the public would prefer to see an election sooner, rather than later and, therefore, I am considering introducing a motion to have the election this spring.

---Applause

Mr. Speaker, it is crucial that the people have confidence in their government and in their Legislative Assembly. We must be sure that the people support our efforts on their behalf and the only way to do that is to have a mandate from the people. I believe an early election will give this whole Assembly a very clear and new mandate. Thank you.

Holding A Spring Election
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 261

An Hon. Member

Hear, hear.

---Applause

Holding A Spring Election
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 261

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Item 3, Members' statements. Mr. Dent.

The Need For An NWT Police Act
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 262

Charles Dent Yellowknife Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, as Members are aware, police services in the Northwest Territories in general, and in Yellowknife in particular, have come under increasing criticism during the past several months. Whether or not such criticism is supported by statistics, there is a definite perception among our citizens that property crimes and crimes of violence have been steadily increasing over the past couple of years in Yellowknife.

In fact, Mr. Speaker, our citizens have become more and more apprehensive in the wake of an alarming number of break-ins, armed robberies, gang-related violence and sexual assaults. Mr. Speaker, our police services appear to be stretched to the limit. With the present fiscal climate of the country, we must find new and innovative solutions to this social dilemma to ensure our safety and the sanctity of our communities.

Mr. Speaker, many provinces have police acts which allow communities to augment their level of protection outside the police service agreement with the federal government. I see the development of a Northwest Territories police act as something that would add to our own options for addressing our present inability to curb criminal activities in our communities. The present territorial police services agreement provides that the Minister of Justice for the Northwest Territories and the Commissioner of the RCMP shall determine the minimum standard of policing and they shall further determine the level of policing services which shall not be less than the minimum standard.

Beyond that determination of our policing requirements, Mr. Speaker, I don't see provisions in the agreement that allow for creative or innovative methods of augmenting our present police services. Perhaps such provisions could be best embodied in a police act, specifically designed for such a purpose.

I would also like to note, Mr. Speaker, that because we don't have a police act, there is presently no legislative mandate for the government or the Minister of Justice to ensure that an adequate and effective level of policing is maintained throughout the Northwest Territories. This is a key element of other police acts across the country.

Mr. Speaker, I believe the Department of Justice has done some work towards development of a police act for the Northwest Territories. I support these efforts as the best way to begin to address our present policing problems. However, time is of the essence and there is a need to move forward as quickly as possible on this initiative. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

The Need For An NWT Police Act
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 262

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

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

The Need For An NWT Police Act
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 262

Charles Dent Yellowknife Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. First, a police act would provide the fundamental legislative responsibility for this government to ensure that adequate and effective policing is maintained for its citizens.

Mr. Speaker, I believe the time for such solutions has arrived and I would like to strongly encourage the Minister of Justice to move forward as quickly as possible in the development of a police act for the Northwest Territories. Our law-abiding citizens deserve adequate and effective protection and we must strive to ensure that they receive no less. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

The Need For An NWT Police Act
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 262

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Dent. Item 3, Members' statements. Mr. Lewis.

Development Of A Policy On Sustainable Development
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 262

Brian Lewis Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Four years ago, Mr. Chairman...Sorry, Mr. Speaker. Four years ago, the government established a round table on the economy and the environment and agreed to develop a policy on sustainable development. The government, in 1991, disbanded the round table on the economy and the environment and it still has no clear position on sustainable development.

Our Special Committee on the Northern Economy in the 11th Assembly made a strong recommendation to this government to get its act together to prepare for major economic development. The Government of the Northwest Territories has no policy on sustainable development and lacks focus in addressing the major projects associated with mineral development.

I mentioned previously in this House the problems we face because we have no policy on sustainable development. Any time we raise mining and mining issues, we are deemed by many to be in support of development at all cost, full-steam ahead and don't worry about the consequences. If we raise environmental issues, many assume we are anti-development and very likely raving radicals.

Our government has had ample opportunity to develop a sustainable development policy, which everyone has the chance to buy into. It hasn't done this, Mr. Speaker. We have only a very small say in the development of mining in the Northwest Territories. What small say we do have, must be coherent. We can't speak in an ambiguous way. Without a policy, it is becoming a free-for-all. The public really doesn't know who is responsible for what. Before we do take over mining from the feds, we had better have a sustainable development policy, Mr. Speaker.

The Minister of Renewable Resources in his statement yesterday, made reference to sustainable development, but we are still waiting to hear whether the government has any intention of developing one. Thank you.

---Applause

Development Of A Policy On Sustainable Development
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 263

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Lewis. Item 3, Members' statements. Mr. Koe.

Gasoline Subsidies For Hunters And Trappers
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 263

Fred Koe Inuvik

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, yesterday in committee of the whole, the committee approved amendments to Bill 6, An Act to Amend the Petroleum Products Tax Act. The Petroleum Products Tax Act sets the rates by which the tax on various petroleum products are calculated. The only issues concerning some of my constituents when it comes to purchasing gasoline products is that of the road tax imposed on the price of a litre of gasoline. This government currently has a two-tiered tax system based on where the fuel is delivered. There is a zone A or on-road tax, and a zone B, an off-road tax. I believe zone A taxes are 10 cents a litre and zone B taxes are six cents per litre.

Mr. Speaker, my concern is that there are many hunters, trappers, fishermen and other people who spend a lot of time out on the land. Most of these people purchase gasoline for their outboard motors, skidoos and four-wheelers from in-town gas stations and suppliers. They have to pay the 10 cents extra tax on this product. However, the majority of their travel and use are off-road, in the bush or on the tundra. They use the gas for subsistence gathering or to supplement their traditional lifestyles.

Mr. Speaker, I don't think that this is fair. I know in agricultural country, farmers get breaks on their gasoline taxes and are able to use something called "purple gas." I am not sure if the east coast or west coast fishermen also get breaks on their gas, but in the north we should definitely look at changing our taxation levies on our gasoline products to support our hunters, trappers, fishermen and people following traditional pursuits.

I strongly urge the Minister of Finance to review these on-road and off-road taxes and maybe even consider dying the colour of our gasoline to assist our northerners in maintaining healthy lifestyles through the purchase of cheaper gas. Mahsi.

---Applause