This is page numbers 1400 - 1440 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. Antoine, Hon. Silas Arngna'naaq, Mr. Ballantyne, Mr. Dent, Hon. Samuel Gargan, Mr. Koe, Mr. Lewis, Mrs. Marie-Jewell, Hon. Don Morin, Hon. Richard Nerysoo, Hon. Kelvin Ng, Mr. Ningark, Hon. John Pollard, Mr. Pudlat, Mr. Pudluk, Mrs. Thompson, Hon. John Todd, Mr. Whitford, Mr. Zoe

---Prayer

Item 1: Prayer
Item 1: Prayer

Page 1401

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Whitford. That was Michif, was it?

---Laughter

Good afternoon. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Mr. Pollard.

Minister's Statement 100-12(7): Minister's Absence From House
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1401

John Pollard Hay River

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Good afternoon. Honourable Stephen Kakfwi will be absent from the House for the next several days to make representation to the Senate on Bill C-68, An Act Respecting Firearms and Other Weapons. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 100-12(7): Minister's Absence From House
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Mr. Morin.

Minister's Statement 101-12(7): Changes To The Forest Fire Management Program
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1401

Don Morin Tu Nedhe

Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to announce some initiatives and changes that are being made to the forest fire management program.

When responsibility for forest fire management was assigned to me several weeks ago, I set out to make it into a program that could be respected by our community leaders, effective in its task of protecting our resources, and efficient in spending limited financial resources.

The first step was to ask every community in the western Arctic to appoint a contact person who can represent the community leaders when decisions have to be made. As a result, community leaders and residents are now partners in decisions being made about how to respond and manage forest fires. We also have people in the north who have many years of experience and know the tried-and-true ways of effective firefighting. respected elder, Eddie Powder, has been hired to give advice on how things can be improved.

Mr. Speaker, one of the first things I did when I accepted this responsibility was to meet the ground crews and fire bosses who work in difficult conditions to control fires. Their jobs are tough and I have tremendous respect for them. I am announcing today that the salaries of certified firefighters are being raised from $8.75 to $11.50 per hour.

---Applause

I have made other changes to our fire management program and policy to improve effectiveness and efficiency of our activities. Following discussions with the Standing Committee on Finance, a target budget of $13 million has been set for fire suppression. I believe we can stay within that target, even though we are experiencing forest fire conditions as bad as last year. Giving the staff in the fire program a target to meet, rather than an open chequebook, is an incentive to save money. Economies are already happening as staff work with community leaders in finding better ways of doing things. Mr. Speaker, I wish to advise Members that the For example, rather than using expensive helicopters to complete the mop-up of the Norman Wells fire, our people and the community came up with a plan to use men and caterpillar tractors with limited helicopter support. This plan to barge the tractors up the river to the fire site has cut our costs for cleaning up the fire by at least one third and has left the dollars in the hands of northern businesses.

---Applause

As part of the plan to save money in firefighting, a $1 million forest fire prevention program has been established. This program is to be used to supplement community fire protection activities. Forest fire management staff will be working with communities to develop plans and set priorities for actions that must be taken to help make sure that we do not lose a community to fire. A basic requirement for this initiative is that the plans have to be community-driven. We help the communities draw up their plans, we do not go in and tell them what we are going to do for them. A major advantage of this initiative is that it also leaves the dollars spent in the pockets of residents.

Mr. Speaker, over the years, all of us have heard the frustration expressed by harvesters when their cabins and equipment are lost to fires and their trapping and hunting areas are temporarily wiped out. Even worse, some harvesters have given up harvesting fur after fires destroyed everything. One of the reasons is that the compensation available to them was limited to a maximum of $4,500 for each cabin and the equipment they owned. Many Members of this Legislative Assembly have spent a lot of time on the land and know $4,500 does not come anywhere near the replacement costs for a harvester's cabin and equipment. As a result, I am pleased to say that approval has been given for a program that allows up to $7,000 to replace a cabin, between 75 and 100 per cent for replacing equipment and up to $15,000 for relocation costs to establish a new trapline. With this increased compensation, harvesters will be able to re- establish themselves or even move temporarily to a new location.

---Applause

The increased compensation is necessary, especially in times when fur prices are low and in recognition of the fact that, realistically, we will not be able to control every fire.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, during this last week and a half, we have had one of our most threatening fires in history. Two communities were evacuated and we saw how community leaders, residents and staff pull together when the chips are down. A lot of people were working around the clock. I was particularly pleased to note that our fire management systems and processes for decision-making were working effectively. Regardless, we have room for improvement, especially in developing a real partnership with communities in fire protection and in increasing northern benefits.

As another step in achieving this, I have, this past week, completed negotiations to establish five more community contract crews and manage two satellite camps. The bottom line to me is that the resources around each community are first and foremost the property of the users. It is they who should have final say in protection plans and actions. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 101-12(7): Changes To The Forest Fire Management Program
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1402

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Members' statements. Mr. Dent.

Mine Rescue Competition And Benefits Of Mines To Nwt
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Charles Dent Yellowknife Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, last week we celebrated Mining Week, and one of the important events capping off the week is always the NWT mine rescue competition. This year, the competition was won by the team from Miramar Con Mine, which I'm happy to mention is also the mine located in my constituency.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the members of that mine rescue team, in particular, and all mine rescue teams for being ready when disaster strikes. It takes special dedication to be part of a mine rescue team.

Mr. Speaker, mining is probably the most important economic activity in the Northwest Territories. It currently provides large numbers of jobs, but probably most important, it offers the best potential for creating more jobs and new wealth for northerners.

Recently, an environmental group, with their tongue firmly in cheek, nominated the Premier for the mining hall of fame, accusing her government of opening the door to business; in particular, to mining companies. Mr. Speaker, being open for business is nothing to be ashamed of. Without businesses making profits, there would be no taxes to finance the operations of government. With federal grants being cut, for us to maintain important services like education and health care, more and more we must find ways to increase our own source revenues. One way to do that is to increase the numbers of businesses and jobs in the Northwest Territories.

In the short term, Mr. Speaker, the non-renewable resource sector offers us the best opportunity. If we can get everyone onside for the northern accord and successfully conclude that deal, we will be particularly well situated to ensure benefits for northerners.

Mr. Speaker, I don't think though that being open for business means the environmental concerns cannot be taken very seriously. My colleagues in this Legislature are very much aware of the importance of the land and the wildlife it sustains, and would not allow unmitigated development to take place. Mr. Speaker, no one in this House has suggested circumventing the environmental review process.

Being open for business has more to do with an attitude which recognizes that we need businesses to be successful in order to provide jobs and taxes, and then making sure government is not erecting unnecessary roadblocks. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Mine Rescue Competition And Benefits Of Mines To Nwt
Item 3: Members' Statements

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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.

Mine Rescue Competition And Benefits Of Mines To Nwt
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Charles Dent Yellowknife Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker and honourable Members. Mr. Speaker, being open for business may mean a one-window approach, so businesses know exactly what the process will be, where to go for more information and what steps must be taken to prove their proposed project can meet environmental guidelines.

Mr. Speaker, I hope that the government will ensure that the NWT is open for business. We can have both: a healthy business climate; and, respect for the environment. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Mine Rescue Competition And Benefits Of Mines To Nwt
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 1402

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

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

Display Of Hmcs Mackenzie Model In Legislature
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 1402

Tony Whitford Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Good afternoon. Mr. Speaker, 19 years ago, by an Order in Council, the Government of the Northwest Territories adopted the destroyer, HMCS Mackenzie. Since September of 1981, a model of this 366-foot destroyer has resided in the Northwest Territories and was first displayed in the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform this House that the model of the HMCS Mackenzie is now on display here in the great hall of this Legislative Assembly building, where we hope a will stay. We also have a plaque of the Mackenzie and pennant, and a replica of the ship's wheel here on permanent display.

The Mackenzie was designed as an anti-submarine destroyer and was named after the Mackenzie River and the ship travelled some 850,000 nautical miles during her commissioned years, or if we put it in more understandable terms, 24 trips around the world at the Equator.

The Mackenzie has had some exciting moments. She was involved in the first high-seas boarding and the seizure of a foreign vessel by the Canadian Navy since the Second World War. She also made a dramatic rescue of the entire crew of the Pacific Mariner, after other ships and other attempts had failed. She has had the distinction of participating in both the 75th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Navy and the 50th anniversary of the Royal New Zealand Navy. The Mackenzie is unique in other ways, as the edges and the surfaces of her upper decks were rounded, a feature designed for two purposes: first, in war, the radioactive or chemical contaminants could easily be washed off; second, being designed for very cold climates, the rounded edges would prevent ice build-ups.

Commencing in 1972, the Mackenzie was used ... I seek consent to conclude, Mr. Speaker.

Display Of Hmcs Mackenzie Model In Legislature
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

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

Display Of Hmcs Mackenzie Model In Legislature
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 1403

Tony Whitford Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker and colleagues. Commencing in 1972, the Mackenzie was used primarily to train 40 to 50 naval officers at a time. They learned how to handle ships, navigation, organization and administration; all important elements in our Canadian military.

After the Mackenzie was retired in 1993 --they call it the "pay- out" --rather than sell this beautiful ship for scrap metal, she was sunk off Vancouver Island in Sydney Harbour to provide an artificial reef. Her anchor was sent to Yellowknife and sits in front of the military headquarters down the street from us. Now that this beautiful ship has settled on the bottom of the Pacific where there was previously nothing but sandy ocean bottom, she will attract a variety of marine life and divers from all over the world, who will carry out observation work under the sea, to see how an artificial reef functions. It will provide many more years of usefulness to Canada.

So that is the model of the ship in the foyer. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Display Of Hmcs Mackenzie Model In Legislature
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 1403

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

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