This is page numbers 643 - 675 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, Hon. Silas Arngna'naaq, Mr. Ballantyne, Hon. Nellie Cournoyea, Mr. Dent, Hon. Samuel Gargan, Hon. Stephen Kakfwi, Mr. Lewis, Mrs. Marie-Jewell, Ms. Mike, Hon. Don Morin, Hon. Richard Nerysoo, Hon. Kelvin Ng, Mr. Ningark, Mr. Patterson, Hon. John Pollard, Mr. Pudluk, Hon. John Todd, Mr. Whitford, Mr. Zoe

---Prayer

Item 1: Prayer
Item 1: Prayer

March 28th, 1995

Page 643

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Allooloo. The House will come to order. Good afternoon.

Speaker's Ruling

I would like to provide the House with my ruling on the point of order raised on March 27th by the Member for Thebacha, Mrs. Marie-Jewell.

The Member's point of order was that the Member for Iqaluit, in comments he made on March 10th, had used the word "irresponsibly" which Mrs. Marie-Jewell felt was unparliamentary and implied allegations against her. I would like to repeat the exact words that were used by Mr. Patterson as they are contained on page 1371 of unedited Hansard, and I quote:

"But, Mr. Speaker, in my view, if Members are allowed to act irresponsibly and table unsigned documents which may be furnished to Members for malicious or political purposes, then this is, in fact, an abuse of the privileges we enjoy as Members. And, it will diminish the reputation of this Assembly."

I note with a bit of disappointment that Mrs. Marie-Jewell, in making comments on the point of order, indicated, and I quote, "Not only should I request an apology from Mr. Patterson, which I won't..." I would have hoped that all Members would have sufficient respect for each other and that Mrs. Marie-Jewell would have given the Member the benefit of the doubt and at least offered him the opportunity to apologize if he felt he had used unparliamentary language. However, that was not to be the case, therefore, I am required to rule on the point of order.

I note that Beauchesne's 6th edition provides in citation 489, and I quote:

"Since 1958, it has been ruled unparliamentary to use the following expressions:

- Irresponsible Members, Debates, May 8, 1969, page 8476; and,

- Irresponsible reply, Debates, December 5, 1962, page 2346."

In reviewing the point of order, I referred back to the actual House of Commons debates of 1962 and 1969, in which the two incidents I mentioned were ruled upon. I note that in the 1962 debates, the words "irresponsible reply" were used to describe a response made by then Prime Minister, Mr. Diefenbaker, and in the 1969 case the words "irresponsible Members" were used to describe the actions of Members generally and one Member in particular. I would like to quote from Beauchesne's citation 486(1):

"It is impossible to lay down any specific rules in regard to injurious reflections uttered in debate against particular Members, or to declare beforehand what expressions are or are not contrary to order; much depends upon the tone and manner, and intention, of the person speaking; sometimes upon the person to whom the words are addressed, as, whether that person is a public officer, or a private Member not in office, or whether the words are meant to be applied to public conduct or to private character; and sometimes upon the degree of provocation, which the Member speaking had received from the person alluded to; and all these considerations must be attended to at the moment, as they are infinitely various and cannot possibly be foreseen in such a manner that precise rules can be adopted with respect to them."

Under the same citation, subparagraph (3) is also appropriate to bring to the Member's attention:

"3"There are few words that have been judged to be unparliamentary consistently, and any list of unparliamentary words is only a compilation of words that at some time have been found to cause disorder in the House."

I have considered the context in which the apparently offensive words were used and considered the comments of Mr. Patterson in speaking to the point of order. As with any point of order and in particular when unparliamentary language is the issue, you have to consider the tone and manner and the intention of the person speaking. I note that Mr. Patterson did preface his reference to Members with the word "if". I considered Mr. Patterson's submission of yesterday's date to be sufficient to explain that his intention was not to refer to any specific action undertaken by a specific Member. The context within which his comments were made dealt with a point of order that focused on the rules and practices of permitting unsigned letters to be tabled in the House. In keeping with the precedent outlined in Beauchesne's, I have considered the tone, manner and intention of the Member for Iqaluit when making his comments.

When there is no clear breach or order, I feel it is important to accept the word of a Member. Therefore, I rule that the words uttered are not unparliamentary and that the Member for Thebacha does not have a point of order.

---Applause

Orders of the day. Item 2, Ministers' statement. Mr. Ng.

Minister's Statement 47-12(7): Fair Play Award
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 644

Kelvin Ng Kitikmeot

Mr. Speaker, as Members are aware from earlier Members' statements in this House, today is a proud day for the Kevin Koe junior mens curling team, their families and friends.

This evening in Toronto Kevin Koe, his brother, Jamie, and Mark and Kevin Whitehead, along with their coach George Gibson, will be recognized with the 1994 fair play in sport award.

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Sport Council annually recognizes outstanding achievements in sport at the Canadian sport awards dinner. In addition to honouring Canada's greatest male and female athletes, the team of the year and lifetime contributions to sport, the council also recognizes fair play in sport.

Fair Play Canada in conjunction with the Canadian Sport Council will be awarding the national fair play award for the athlete/team category for 1994 to the members of the Northwest Territories 1994 junior men's curling team.

Fair Play Canada has made arrangements for all members of the team to attend the awards dinner and the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs has arranged that their coach, George Gibson, will also attend. TSN will be filming the 1995 Canadian sport awards dinner for a one-hour special to air on TSN in April.

I would like to congratulate these four young men and their coach for exemplifying the attitudes and behaviour associated with good sportsmanship. During the final game of the 1994 Pepsi Junior Men's Championship in Truro, Nova Scotia, a controversial ruling awarded the game to the Alberta team. On national television and under the strain of facing a heartbreaking loss, the NWT team accepted the ruling with class and dignity and showed no anger or frustration. These young men's commitment to the principles of fair play was a proud moment for all of us. Not only did they show respect for the rules, their teammates and their opponents, but they respected, without question, the decision of the officials. Mr. Speaker, there can be no clearer demonstration of good sportsmanship than this.

I am sure all Members will join me in congratulating Kevin and Jamie Koe, Mark and Kevin Whitehead and their coach, George Gibson, for representing the NWT with distinction and for the honour of receiving the 1994 national fair play award. Thank you.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 47-12(7): Fair Play Award
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 644

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Item 2, Ministers' statement. Mr. Nerysoo.

Minister's Statement 48-12(7): Establishment Of Two Colleges
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 644

Richard Nerysoo Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Last November, this Assembly passed the Public Colleges Act, which directed the Department of Education, Culture and Employment to establish two colleges; one located in the western Northwest Territories, and one located in the eastern Arctic. I am pleased to announce that these two institutions were established on January 1st of this year. I would like to take this opportunity to bring Members up to date on this initiative.

During the last session of this Assembly, I indicated that I would work with the college board of governors to identify names for our two new public colleges. Since that time, there has been considerable consultation across the north to identify college names. Throughout the fall, Mr. Speaker, the Arctic College board actively solicited recommendations for names for the two new colleges.

They undertook advertising and direct consultation with communities, students and staff as well as a number of other groups and organizations. As a result of their work, I received a list of three possible names for each college.

Selecting a name for a college is an important decision. The name should reflect the communities it serves, it should be distinctive and it should be a name of which we can all be proud as the institution grows and develops. In making a decision on this matter, I have also been guided by the comments and recommendations of the Members of this Assembly. In the past few months, I have received comments from a number of Members indicating their preferences.

I am pleased to announce today that the college serving the eastern Arctic will be known as Nunavut Arctic College. The college in the west will be named Aurora College.

---Applause

Mr. Speaker, investment in adult and post-secondary education is a key element of my department's strategic plan, and the establishment of two colleges is part of the overall strategy to strengthen adult and post-secondary education across the north.

With two colleges it will be possible to better focus on community needs, particularly as we move towards division of the Northwest Territories.

Nunavut Arctic College and Aurora College will continue to operate three campuses and a network of community learning centres. As well, science and technology activities previously carried out by the Science Institute have now been consolidated within the colleges. The colleges will include new offices to guide science and technology activities and to manage the four territorial research centres.

The new colleges are currently finalizing corporate plans which reflect the department's strategic plan and which will guide activities over the next five years.

Nunavut Arctic College and Aurora College replace Arctic College, but they will build on Arctic College's success. Since 1988, when Arctic College was incorporated, considerable progress has been made in offering additional college programs to the people of the Northwest Territories. Over this past year, Arctic College experienced 1,500 full-time and more than 9,000 part-time registrations.

Mr. Speaker, my department and the two colleges are committed to providing northerners with improved access to high-quality programs, which are designed to address their needs and are delivered close to home. The establishment of two colleges is an important step towards this goal and will help prepare northern residents for the division of the Northwest Territories in 1999.

I would like to ask my colleagues to join me in congratulating Nunavut Arctic College and Aurora College on their establishment and to wish them every success in meeting the educational and training challenges of the future. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 48-12(7): Establishment Of Two Colleges
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 645

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Item 2, Ministers' statement. Mr. Kakfwi.

Minister's Statement 49-12(7): Proposed New Gun Control
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 645

Stephen Kakfwi Sahtu

Mr. Speaker, this government has had concerns with the proposed new gun control legislation as recently tabled by the federal government. We have had concerns about this proposed gun legislation from the time of the introduction of the federal government's action plan in November 1994.

After reviewing the intentions stated in the consultative package, we expressed our concerns relating to the requirement to obtain a firearms licence and the registration of all firearms, at that time, to the federal Minister of Justice by letter and in person. Other provincial governments and the Yukon territory also stated their concerns on this matter to the federal Minister during a meeting held in Victoria, British Columbia in January of this year. Bill C-68, An Act Respecting Firearms and Other Weapons which includes amendments to the Criminal Code and a new Firearms Act was introduced by the federal Minister of Justice on the 14th of February of this year. A review of this bill added additional concerns as to the impact this legislation will have.

The controls and conditions that are placed on the lending, selling and giving of firearms as well as the storage of the same, we believe, obstruct the traditional lifestyle of the Dene, the Metis and the Inuit people. Penalties which will occur if individuals are convicted of firearms offences are severe and may result in a term of imprisonment. Once again, I have stated my concerns relating to Bill C-68 to the federal Minister by letter. Issues surrounding this legislation are real and the proposed gun controls will have a negative impact on the freedom to fulfil a traditional lifestyle.

We support several aspects of the proposed legislation, for example: the sections dealing with the smuggling of firearms; the use of a firearm in the commission of an offence; restriction on handguns; and, a ban on military assault weapons are all recognized as required changes. However, the negative impact that will result from the concerns we have registered will outweigh the importance of these changes. We stated our concerns on the restrictions placed on the purchasing and transportation of ammunition to the federal Minister of Justice. These concerns have since been addressed by the federal government through changes to allow for purchasing flexibility.

In addition, we expressed concerns over the subject matter of the Canadian firearms safety course as being too complicated and overly technical and called for flexibility in the delivery of the course. As a result, the federal government is now working with our officials in the Department of Justice and the Department of Renewable Resources to make appropriate modifications. The proclamation date of the course will be deferred to January 1, 1996 in order to allow for the required changes to the course content. As a result of negotiations on the part of the Department of Justice, the federal government has accepted financial responsibility for the delivery and maintenance of the Canadian firearms safety course.

The federal Department of Justice has also assigned members of the firearms task force to consult with aboriginal and Inuit groups across Canada. The task force members will be visiting a number of communities in the Northwest Territories during the month of April 1995. These are positive things that have happened as a result of our intervention and we are pleased with the corrective action taken to date. However, the issues surrounding firearms registration and the penalties for firearm offenses are still outstanding. To deal with these issues, we have established a Caucus Subcommittee on Bill C-68. This committee is actively reviewing the concerns relating to gun control and taking steps to inform the public and community leader in a way which answers the questions which are most frequently asked. This committee will also make a presentation to the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs that are reviewing the proposed legislation.

Mr. Speaker, the impact that this proposed new gun control legislation will have on the people of the north should not be trivialized, nor should they be underestimated. It's my intention to continue to take steps necessary to see that the traditional ways of the Dene, the Metis and the Inuit people are respected and taken into full consideration by the federal government. I believe that our concerns will be heard and dealt with appropriately. Thank you.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 49-12(7): Proposed New Gun Control
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 645

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Item 2, Ministers' statements. Ms. Cournoyea.

Minister's Statement 50-12(7): Federal-territorial Health Care Billings Dispute Terms Of Agreement For An Out-of-court Settlement
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 645

Nellie Cournoyea Nunakput

Mr. Speaker, during the past year, the federal and territorial governments have been negotiating an out- of-court settlement for the health care billings dispute. The dispute arose over the federal government's refusal to pay territorial claims for hospital services provided to status Indians and Inuit. Court action was taken against the federal government in December of 1992, after extensive efforts to resolve the dispute failed. The court

action sought $79 million from the federal government for outstanding hospital claims.

Mr. Speaker, over the past six months, the terms of an acceptable settlement have been reached on the dispute over billings for the period 1986-87 to 1991-92. The terms of settlement also contain provisions which relate to the period 1992 to 1995, and a contribution agreement for the next three fiscal years.

Mr. Speaker, the terms of settlement make the following financial arrangements:

- A one-time payment of $24 million in settlement of claims;

- A contribution agreement for 1994-95 with payment of up to $33.5 million for hospital and physician services to NWT status Indians and Inuit;

- A three-year contribution agreement, including an option for a one-year extension, with payments escalated from 1994-95 by six per cent, three per cent and three per cent in the first, second and third years of the agreement; and,

- At the conclusion of the third or fourth year, the escalated amount will be added to the gross expenditure base of the territorial government and increased thereafter under the terms of the formula financing agreement.

The agreement also includes provisions which are important for the territorial government, status and aboriginal residents and Nunavut. More specifically:

- The terms of settlement cannot be used to impede discussions surrounding the administration and financing of health services in the two new territories created by division;

- The terms cannot be used to restrict access by the government to federal assistance to help in dealing with emergencies;

- The terms cannot be used to restrict access by the government or aboriginal residents to national health programs; and,

- The terms cannot be interpreted to prejudice treaty or aboriginal rights, or future self-government arrangements.

Mr. Speaker, because this dispute concerned the delivery of health care services by the GNWT to status Indians and Inuit, discussions with representatives of aboriginal organizations were initiated when the territorial government decided to take the federal government to court.

Aboriginal organizations in the Northwest Territories were advised in writing on March 15th that we were close to settling out of court and were provided with the terms of settlement for the health care billings dispute. The letter was also provided to all health boards, our Members of Parliament and copies were sent to MLAs. Follow-up phone calls by myself and the Minister of Finance were arranged to provide additional details and answer questions. No major concerns or opposition to the settlement were raised during the discussions. As a result, I have signed the terms of settlement for the health care billings dispute, as well as contribution agreements for 1994-95 and the period 1995-96 to 1997-98.

Mr. Speaker, the territorial government has negotiated the best possible terms of settlement, especially given the federal government's current and ongoing deficit and debt situation.

However, even though the package calls for increases in federal contributions for the next three years, measures will be required to make the best possible use of resources available, particularly in view of future federal cutbacks to territorial transfer payments. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 50-12(7): Federal-territorial Health Care Billings Dispute Terms Of Agreement For An Out-of-court Settlement
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 646

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. Mr. Todd.

Kivalliq Cup And Opening Of Arena In Whale Cove
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 646

John Todd Keewatin Central

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This past weekend, the community of Whale Cove hosted the annual Kivalliq Cup. This hockey tournament brings together teams from all the Keewatin communities and is certainly the highlight of the hockey season in the Keewatin.

This year the tournament was also tied with another exciting event. We were honoured to have the Honourable Kelvin Ng, Minister of MACA, in attendance to officially open the new Peter Ongashimna arena.

Mr. Speaker, the people of Whale Cove wanted me to thank the Minister personally for travelling to their community for this event, for taking the time to attend a number of meetings over the course of the weekend.

Mr. Speaker, this year's tournament was a rousing success. With the teams from all communities, the referees, volunteers and fans from all the other six communities in the region, the population of Whale Cove, normally around 300, more than doubled this past weekend.

To the credit of the organizers, despite the number of people involved, the tournament went off with barely a hitch. The hockey was exciting and excellent, and I was especially pleased to see that the Whale Cove team performed so well.

Mr. Speaker, all in all it was a great weekend. All the credit for handling the logistics of this event should go to the mayor of Whale Cove, Mr. Percy Kabloona, the hamlet council, the hamlet staff and the people of Whale Cove who opened their arms to visitors of all communities. I would especially like to thank the regional staff of MACA for assisting with all the arrangements. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Kivalliq Cup And Opening Of Arena In Whale Cove
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 646

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

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

Zero Tolerance For Violence
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 646

Charles Dent Yellowknife Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Honourable Stephen Kakfwi made a statement which he

indicated was to address an issue I raised last November about our declaration of zero tolerance for violence. Today I would like to respond to that statement.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister, yesterday, agreed with my premise that a declaration is not enough. People expect, quite rightly, to see action to back up our words. I believe the Minister was correct in his assertion that family violence is a problem all across the country and that we need to change societal attitudes so people start to realize that family violence is a crime.

I agree with the Minister when he says that declarations such as ours are but one element in the process of changing society's views about family violence, and that MLAs should be leaders in that process of change. Mr. Speaker, Mr. Kakfwi also pointed out that Members of this Assembly can do more to send out the message that violence is always unacceptable by introducing a requirement that any Member who is convicted of a violent offence be required to resign their seat.

Since it would appear from that statement that the government is not prepared to introduce such legislation, Mr. Speaker, I would like to advise the House that in the next little while I plan to introduce an amendment to the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act which would force a Member to resign should they be convicted of an offence involving violence against another person. Minister Kakfwi said yesterday that he would support such a measure; I hope all Members of this House will, as well.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister's statement yesterday addressed the concern that has been expressed that we seem to have almost unlimited funds to deal with offenders, while those who have been victimized or those who have been victims often feel further victimized by our legal system and the courts. Mr. Speaker, the holistic approach is a long-term approach. I cannot disagree that ultimately changing the behaviour of offenders so there is less violence and addressing the root causes of violence through the community wellness program is the proper approach. But, as the Minister said yesterday, change is not something that happens over night. While we work to effect such change, how can we in any conscience ignore the victims?

Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude by statement.

Zero Tolerance For Violence
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 647

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

The Member for Yellowknife Frame Lake is seeking unanimous consent. Are there any nays? There are no nays. Conclude your statement, Mr. Dent.