This is page numbers 1441 - 1471 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 know.

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Supplementary To Question 663-12(7): Parking Fees At Arctic A Airport
Question 663-12(7): Parking Fees At Arctic A Airports
Item 6: Oral Questions

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Mr. Todd.

Further Return To Question 663-12(7): Parking Fees At Arctic A Airport
Question 663-12(7): Parking Fees At Arctic A Airports
Item 6: Oral Questions

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John Todd Keewatin Central

I am not sure of the revenue associated with the parking fees at the airport, Mr. Speaker. However, I will look into the matter and report back to the honourable Member on this important revenue initiative. Thank you.

Further Return To Question 663-12(7): Parking Fees At Arctic A Airport
Question 663-12(7): Parking Fees At Arctic A Airports
Item 6: Oral Questions

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Item 6, oral questions. Are there further oral questions? Item 7, written questions. Item 8, returns to written questions. Mr. Nerysoo.

Return To Written Question 31-12(7): Funds Transferred From The Inuktitut Literacy Training Program
Item 8: Returns To Written Questions

June 20th, 1995

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Richard Nerysoo Mackenzie Delta

I am pleased to respond to the written questions asked by Mr. Patterson on June 13, 1995.

1. Who authorized this decision? Nunavut Arctic College received $150,000 last year and this year through the official languages agreement to provide interpreter/translator training. Funds for a number of other programs provided through the agreement, however, were reduced significantly this year.

When Nunavut Arctic College was notified about the official languages agreement funding for 1995-96, Education, Culture and Employment advised the college that the delivery of the interpreter/translator training program, and specifically the medical and legal modules of this program, must be given funding priority.

Nunavut Arctic College could also use official languages agreement funding for literacy training, once this priority has been met.

2. Why wasn't the college board or the college vice-president or the affected MLAs consulted about this significant change?

There has not been a change from 1994-95 in funding support from Education, Culture and Employment for this program. Inuktitut literacy is not one of the established programs and services approved by the department for ongoing support. Historically, the college has used a number of funding sources to support Inuktitut literacy activities. Several of these sources, including the use of existing instructional staff at the college, remain available to the college. As well, once program delivery plans for the interpreter/translator training program have been confirmed for 1995-96, some funding may be available through the official languages agreement for Inuktitut literacy.

3. Does the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment believe that the interpreter/translator training program is more important than the Inuktitut literacy program?

Both of these programs are important. As resources become more restrained, it is also important to identify priorities for training. As noted above, Education, Culture and Employment directed the college to give priority to the delivery of the interpreter/translator training program, particularly of the medical and legal modules of this program.

The board of governors and the college have achieved excellent results in program delivery in the past. They will need to continue to work with other partners in education and to use innovative approaches to deliver programs to meet the needs of college students across Nunavut, as well as students at Nunatta Campus.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Return To Written Question 31-12(7): Funds Transferred From The Inuktitut Literacy Training Program
Item 8: Returns To Written Questions

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Item 8, returns to written questions. Item 9, replies to opening address. Mrs. Marie-Jewell.

Item 9: Replies To Opening Address
Item 9: Replies To Opening Address

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Mrs. Marie-Jewell's Reply

Item 9: Replies To Opening Address
Item 9: Replies To Opening Address

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Jeannie Marie-Jewell Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I have been looking forward to the opportunity to make my reply to the Commissioner's address for some time, and I have indicated to the Members that it is going to be a fairly lengthy one, so feel free, when you think we need a break, to give us a break.

---Laughter

Mr. Speaker, this, as some other Members have pointed out, is one time in this House when we can comment on broader issues that are important to the people of our constituency and also to all residents of the Northwest Territories. Mr. Speaker, this afternoon, I want to comment on a number of those broader issues as well as certain matters that will be of particular concern to the people of Fort Smith. I also want to reflect on the last four years to take a look at what we, as an Assembly, and what I, as a Member, wanted to achieve and what we, as an Assembly, were able to achieve. Now that we are close to concluding what is likely to be the last session of the 12th Legislative Assembly, it's a good time to reflect on exactly what we have accomplished and to identify priorities that still need to be met.

I will also be commenting about my decision to leave the Speaker's chair, a decision that I felt personally was quite difficult, at times, for me to make, and about the government's action that prompted this decision on my part. As well, Mr. Speaker, I want to share my assessment of the Cabinet and its performance and to briefly review the successes and failures of several government departments. And, before closing, I want to do what my honourable colleague from Yellowknife North has done on a couple of occasions and highlight a few transition issues that will be important for the new Legislative Assembly to address following the fall election.

Mr. Speaker, as we near the end of the current term of this Assembly, it is a good time to think back over our past four years as Members of this House, and no one can deny that those four years have certainly been eventful ones. I can recall sometimes the enthusiasm that surrounded our first few months as Members were sworn in. The Executive Council, the Cabinet, was selected for the first time with the leadership committee process that took our deliberations out of the back rooms of the Caucus from the last Assembly that I was first elected to, and into the full view of the public. Then committees were formed and began doing their important work. I don't know if there has ever been more work or substantial work carried out in the Northwest Territories Legislature. During the first couple of years alone, there were major initiatives undertaken by standing committees to review the Workers' Compensation Board, to review a major report with regard to the Department of Health and to revise and update the rules of the Legislative Assembly. In addition, we also had the report of the Special Committee on Health and Social Services.

So when people look back at the 12th Assembly, Mr. Speaker, not only will they remember this Assembly as building the new building, but they will also recall that this was the term when bills were first reviewed in the standing committee, reviewed in the public, mainly by the Standing Committee on Legislation, with interested groups and individuals given an opportunity to attend and to participate in public hearings, not behind closed doors as in previous Assemblies. They will recall that this was the term when they finally saw the long-awaited passage of access to information and protection of privacy legislation; certainly a goal, I believe, to which you contributed greatly during the time you sat as an ordinary Member. They will also recall the Members of this Assembly took great strides in adopting a code of conduct and making a declaration of zero tolerance for violence. They'll remember the feeling of satisfaction when we finally moved to this new home in this building and of significant changes. However, I did want to address that further on in my reply.

So, Mr. Speaker, when northerners look back on the 12th Assembly, they'll remember some of these positive and significant accomplishments that we have made. These are accomplishments which reflect the continuing political evolution of the Northwest Territories, and they are achievements in which I believe all Members can take some pride.

At the same time, though, people will also remember the 12th Assembly for a number of other reasons. They'll recall the frequent turnover of Cabinet Ministers as one failure after another; note-passing incidents; misleading comments in the House; legal difficulties and so on which led to endless portfolio shuffles and the replacement of Ministers. Regrettably, they may even call some of the events that have arisen from the action of individual Ministers, and I have numbered some of them, at many times even within the Caucus. The people of the north, I know, will remember the growing fiscal deficit, the missed financial projection and the payroll tax that we have created. They may look at the last four years as a period in which the federal government and the rest of Canada began to lose some of its fascination with northern development, and they may wonder why more wasn't done to enhance our profile at the national level to make more progress in resolving fiscal irritants and federal funding arrangements or to contribute towards the development of aboriginal self-government.

The last four years certainly have been eventful ones, and I am certain that each Member of this House will have his or her own memories and recollections. For myself, Mr. Speaker, I know that I will remember this Assembly for a number of reasons, not the least which is the honour of being selected by my colleagues to serve this House as Speaker, because I know when I first assumed the Speaker's chair, many people expressed some surprise towards me and they basically asked the question, why would I be even remotely interested in removing myself from debates in the committees and from question period in order to become Speaker? Certainly, that question was never hard for me to answer. As we sit as Members, we know the parliamentary traditions, the rules and conventions and the progress of responsible government in the north became important, and I certainly recognize the importance of the Speaker's chair as one who guards these traditions and who guides the life of this House. You know as well as I know, Mr. Speaker, to be elected by one's peers as the person to take on those important responsibilities is something that is meaningful to any parliamentarian, and when this House expressed its confidence in my ability to serve as Speaker, I was certainly honoured. As well, I took some pride in the fact that this was the first time in Canadian history that an aboriginal woman had assumed Speaker's chair. I think that it was an important message for this House to send to the people of the Northwest Territories and to Canadians everywhere.

Item 9: Replies To Opening Address
Item 9: Replies To Opening Address

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An Hon. Member

Hear! Hear!

Item 9: Replies To Opening Address
Item 9: Replies To Opening Address

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Jeannie Marie-Jewell Thebacha

Too often in our history, it seems as though women of Metis, Dene and Inuit descent have been viewed as not quite equal and too often this conviction has been very present in the political atmosphere. It seems through the years though, we have two strikes against us when we first come to participate in the political affairs of this country: first, because we are aboriginal; and second, because we are women.

Mr. Speaker, I think that all Members can take pride in the fact that at one point during the 12th Assembly, our federal Member of Parliament, the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, the Premier, a Cabinet Minister and even a Deputy Clerk were all aboriginal women. I think that is significant progress for the north. Unfortunately, that only lasted for a short time, but it set a precedent for the future. It sends out a positive message to young aboriginal women in the Northwest Territories. Like my daughters and your daughters, Mr. Speaker, they certainly don't have to take a back seat to anyone.

I can say that I did enjoy my short year of tenure as Speaker. I did enjoy the time frame that I spent. At the time, I felt I was able to attain a successful protocol with the Premier to ensure the interest of Thebacha constituents could be met. I was pleased that the Premier came to Fort Smith back in December of 1993, last June of 1994 and again in December of 1994. Each time the Premier comes to Fort Smith, I know the residents of Fort Smith certainly enjoy having her visit us and they certainly are interested in hearing what she has to say.

Mr. Speaker, I want to state that at no time have I ever taken proceedings of the House or discuss matters pertaining to House business through other Members with respect to the protocol I established with the Premier.

Mr. Speaker, we know back in 1993, the new Legislative Assembly was officially opened. We certainly had changes. It was quite a change for the staff. It was quite a significant change for Mr. Hamilton and I think he served Members well through the transition period. I know that when we had the Prime Minister of Canada, The Right Honourable Jean Chretien, address this House and be here with us on opening day, it gave particular significance to the north. It indicated to Canadians that we were not only proud of our home, but we were able to recognize the importance to southern Canadians of having the Prime Minister come in and open our home.

and talk to the Royal couple. I believe that we should all acknowledge the hard work and thoughtful planning that was carried out by Russ Look, David Hamilton and the numerous volunteers who worked with them in Yellowknife, Rankin Inlet and Iqaluit for making it such a success.

---Applause

Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, I found my time in the chair to be both challenging and rewarding. I know that you will already understand this yourself, Mr. Speaker, and I wish you the very best as you serve all Members in your role as Speaker. I know that you will always do everything that you can to preserve and protect the integrity of the Speaker's chair.

However, when all things are said and done, this concern for the integrity of the House was the same concern that led to my decision to step down from the chair earlier this year. Honourable Members know that a commitment to build a tanker base previously made to the people of Fort Smith by the Premier is still unfulfilled. They will know as well that I have legitimate concerns about the manner in which the air tanker base fire suppression contract had been tendered by the Minister of Public Works and Services. I will have more to say on both of those issues later in my reply.

For the time being, Mr. Speaker, I want to note that when these issues began to develop, I became increasingly aware that it would not be possible for me to remain silent. I recognized that the stakes were too high for my constituents, but in realizing that I also accepted the fact that because of the high esteem which I hold in the integrity of the Speaker's chair, it would be inappropriate for me to attempt to retain that office, if I were to address Cabinet's failures to treat my constituency appropriately.

That was not an easy decision and it was one that I contemplated carefully. In fact, there were several occasions when I mentioned my concern to the Premier and told her that I would always need to priorize the interest of my constituency over my own continuation as Speaker. I urged her at the time, Mr. Speaker, to bring the matter of the air tanker base to a constructive conclusion, but she failed to respond.

I told her that if the uncertainty over this matter were to continue, I would have to return to my place on the floor of this House, but there was not even a hint of progress at the time. I believe that some of Cabinet felt they had gotten me safely out of the way and that my interest in serving this House as Speaker would override my commitment to my constituency. Mr. Speaker, they were wrong.

In the end, I realized that I really had only one choice. The people of Thebacha had elected me to represent their interests and to speak up on their behalf under circumstances when they were being treated unfairly by government. I realized that with the information I had on hand, I would also have to allege conflict of interest on the part of a territorial Cabinet Minister. At the same time, I realized that it would be critical to uphold the impartiality of the chair. To do that, I knew that I would have to vacate the Speaker's chair and that, in the end, was the path I chose to follow.

Mr. Speaker, once I made that decision, I can honestly state not one moment of my time has been to regret that particular decision. I have never regretted resigning as Speaker, although at times it has been hard to hear some of the comments that Cabinet Ministers and others have made. I know one Cabinet Minister who, at times during Christmas while handing out oranges at a constituency gathering had made comments such as we paid her big bucks to keep her quiet; although, the actual words were much harsher and I recognize the parliamentary language we have adopted in this House. There were other comments made and they quickly got back to me.

Mr. Speaker, I am not going to indicate which Cabinet Minister made these remarks because I consider them undignified and regrettable. It should be left as a matter between the Member and the Member's conscience.

I will, however, acknowledge that that sort of reaction did cause some concerns, both at a personal level, because it does hurt to hear a colleague make remarks like that, and as a northern leader. Have we really come to the point where this sort of conduct has become part of the territorial leadership style? I certainly hope not, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, one of the regrets that I did have while sitting as Speaker was that I was not able to participate when Ordinary Members' Caucus reviewed the Cabinet. I watched with interest as honourable Members advised the Cabinet about their respective successes and failures and gave them each a letter grade. Mr. Speaker, you know I missed out on that process, but I strongly felt that it is never too late to follow up on a good idea.

So this afternoon I would like to offer my own assessment of Cabinet Members and to provide my own grading of their performance. Mr. Speaker, I will begin with my assessment of our Premier, the Honourable Nellie Cournoyea. I should tell Members that I once had an enormous amount of respect for the Premier. Unfortunately, some of those feelings have eroded over the past year. I am very concerned that many of the details that are not coming out about the CL-215 base are not represented in a manner that is entirely consistent with the facts. My constituency is eager to know the truth about whether it will receive the long-awaited tanker base and the reasons for the delay. And I think it's only fair that the government has the courtesy to tell them.

As Premier, Ms. Cournoyea made statements way back on June 16, 1992, which she titled "New Directions." At that time, she announced a number of key decentralization initiatives. Mr. Speaker, the Premier made the following promises:

- transportation programs would be moved to Fort Simpson, Norman Wells and Baker Lake to take advantage of existing infrastructure and support services;

- Arctic College headquarters would be moved to Iqaluit and Fort Smith;

- in recognition of distinct supply routes for products delivered by POL, it's headquarters operations were to be placed in Rankin Inlet and Fort Simpson;

- given the availability of the necessary communication-processing facilities and infrastructure, the health insurance section which primarily processes health billings would be located to Inuvik and Rankin Inlet, which it has been over the last year -- I can say that Inuvik and Rankin Inlet really did well when it comes to decentralization, particularly Rankin Inlet;

- the Science Institute was to be moved to its laboratory and research facilities in Inuvik and Igloolik;

- recognizing the predominance of a transport and utility company in Hay River, the Highway Transport Board and the Public Utilities Board would be moved there, which has happened; and,

- in order to capture economic benefits of government spending, Cabinet indicated it would support the location of an aircraft maintenance facility in Fort Smith for its fleet of water bombers that would develop a training component, in conjunction with Arctic College.

She promised that all these decentralization initiatives would be completed by April, 1994. It's now June, 1995 and Fort Smith still just has a sign there saying, "This is going to be the home of the aircraft maintenance facility."

Mr. Speaker, each of these commitments, each of the promises she has made, has been fulfilled; except for the commitment for the Fort Smith tanker base. Rankin Inlet has its POL operation and health billings office, Hay River has its Public Utilities Board, the Science Institute is long gone from Yellowknife but still, over three years after the Premier made her original announcement about the heavy aircraft maintenance facility and over a year after the initiative was supposed to have been completed, there is only confusion and uncertainty about the development of the air tanker base in Fort Smith. It has left my constituents wondering why.

And it has left them questioning the credibility of the Premier; when she gives her word on something, Mr. Speaker, can we expect her to keep it? I think this is a question of leadership, Mr. Speaker. When the Premier announces that Cabinet will support a particular initiative, I think most people understand that she means all Cabinet Ministers. Why has she allowed one department to throw an important component of her "New Directions" initiative into doubt? Frankly, I think it has been clear from the start that this Premier has difficulty in providing positive leadership for her Ministers.

The interdepartmental coordination that we will need to carry us through the difficult upcoming fiscal crisis has still not been achieved. There have been a lot of jobs taken on but too many of them are still only half done. Part of this may be due to the fact that the Premier is a woman who simply takes on too much. It seems like she doesn't like to delegate and she gets too focused on specific matters. This has resulted in her often appearing very tired and hurried, compared to all other provincial premiers and aboriginal leaders. She certainly seems energetic all right, but not vibrant. Perhaps this is part of the reason that we have sometimes been kicked around at the national level.

I'm concerned about the way that she has led her Ministers in voting as a block, most recently against last Friday's motion on whether to allow western aboriginal leaders to appear before committee of the whole. I'm also concerned about the stand she took with respect to the private Member's bill on recall that my honourable colleague for Yellowknife Centre brought forward earlier this session. The Premier should know that, regardless of her personal views, the people of the Northwest Territories should have been given an opportunity to discuss the principle of recall in public hearings, rather than having the rug pulled out from under them at second reading.

I'm also concerned about the manner in which the Premier has dealt with the matter of her former Minister, the honourable Member for Baffin Central. I believe that Ms. Mike was not treated fairly by the Premier and her senior Cabinet officials. No one likes to see a colleague railroaded into resignation, and in looking at that situation, I believe that is what happened. I know that at least some northern women have been asking themselves, would Ms. Mike have been forced to resign if she had been a male? Would she have been forced to resign if she had been non-native? I guess we'll never know those answers, Mr. Speaker, but I am troubled that the Premier's handling of this matter has left the door open for those kinds of questions.

However, on a more positive note, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to see that decisions about the use of power surpluses from the Pine Point shutdown are now going to be looked at. As you know, I have always said there are opportunities to maximize power delivery at lower rates for the people of Fort Smith and I'm glad to see the Premier, in her capacity as Minister responsible for the NWT Power Corporation, finally starting to examine this question. But, Mr. Speaker, I wonder since Pine Point shut down a few years ago now, what took her so long in the first place?

I would like to comment favourably on what I perceive to be something of a turnaround in the Department of Health and Social Services. You'll remember, Mr. Speaker, that at some points during this Assembly there have been times when the Department of Health came in for some serious criticism. I think the Auditor General of Canada, in fact, pointed out a number of major shortcomings in the department's operation and there were frequent criticisms of its relations with regional health and hospital boards. I know I became very frustrated with the manner in which it dealt with a respected doctor who worked in Fort Smith for years. In fact, that doctor still lives in Fort Smith and Fort Smith still has a rash of doctors coming in and out, trying to address my constituency's health problems. But they go away just as quick as they come in. That's unfortunate, because there's no stability in our health care system as a result of that.

Over the past year, I believe many of the problems have shown signs of significant improvement. I believe that the amalgamation of the departments of Health and Social Services have been fairly successful and there will be some real benefits for the people of the Northwest Territories as a result. I certainly give the Premier, in her capacity as the Minister of Health and Social Services, a lot of credit for this particular progress. But, I also think she should be very grateful to several hard-working officials. Without them, these gains could not have been accomplished.

I would especially like to acknowledge her deputy minister, Ken Lovely, whose appointment brought some stability and a new corporate approach to the operation of the department. I also think the Minister should be grateful to Penny Ballantyne, who assumed the challenge of the assistant deputy minister of Social Services. As someone raised in the north and as someone I went to school with, I believe that Mrs. Ballantyne is particularly sensitive to the social needs of northerners. This is reflected in the thoughtful priorities that have been set for this department since she has joined the directorate.

Mr. Speaker, as the former Minister of Social Services, I know that there are many other hard-working officials who are deserving of recognition, but today I would like to make mention of one of them: John Campbell of Yellowknife, who I think stands out in the contributions he has been making to people in the north to assist in addressing the alcoholism problem we have. Many honourable Members are aware that Mr. Campbell has worked for many years to coordinate alcohol and drug treatment programs. Frequently, he's a person to whom our constituents turn for assistance, with treatment referrals or to solve problems in the funding of addiction agencies. I believe he's a public servant who has a lot of experience and a great deal of knowledge in the field of addiction around this country. But he approaches his job in such a down-to-earth, open-minded way that people just want to talk to him, no matter how much pressure they might be under, and I think that's perhaps what makes him such an effective and valuable public servant. But I hear that Mr. Campbell may be coming close to his retirement, and I know that all Members will wish him the very best when he decides to retire.

So, Mr. Speaker, with the assistance of the officials I mentioned and many others, I believe that the honourable Member for Nunakput has performed well as Minister of Health and Social Services, certainly one of the toughest portfolios in the Cabinet.

But in my books, even that performance isn't enough to outweigh her lacklustre record in dealing with global issues, in failing to provide strong leadership to the Cabinet and in failing to live up to her commitment about the Fort Smith tanker base. So, for that reason, I feel that Ms. Cournoyea should receive an A-minus for her efforts, not exactly the sort of northern leadership that I believe we were hoping for at the outset of this term.

Before moving on, however, I want to note that, even despite the concerns existing about her failure to follow through with her commitment, many people in Fort Smith continue to have high hopes for the Premier, and I really believe that if she can fulfil the earlier promise about the tanker base and if she can quit letting her Ministers place her in embarrassing situations, I am certain that the people of Fort Smith would see her mark improve to an A-plus...

---Applause

...and might even feel comfortable about having her express an interest in returning as Premier after the fall election.

Item 9: Replies To Opening Address
Item 9: Replies To Opening Address

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An Hon. Member

Wow.

Item 9: Replies To Opening Address
Item 9: Replies To Opening Address

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Jeannie Marie-Jewell Thebacha

That's providing, though, Mr. Speaker, she pays concern to my comments.

Mr. Speaker, those are my comments with respect to the work that the Premier has done. I do want to state that I appreciate her hard work that she has done to serve this Assembly. I know that she works tirelessly but, at the same time, I think sometimes she gets lost in the paper that's created by the bureaucracy and by the Cabinet process.

I strongly urge her to start taking time for herself because in everything we do in life there is a balance, and I don't think she balances out her life sometimes with taking it easy or taking a rest. All she does is work, work, work, and it creates an imbalance in her life.

Mr. Speaker, now I want to talk a little bit about the Honourable Stephen Kakfwi. Members know that I don't like talking behind their backs, but this will be in the records so he can read it, and it's unfortunate that he's not here today.

Whenever I hear people in my constituency talk about this Minister, they sometimes seem to be questioning whether he really knows what the issues are. They comment that he seems to have an attitude problem, that he's aloof, that he comes across as being self-righteous, that he's so defensive and they wonder if he's really as superior as he lets on. But more importantly, they ask what he has accomplished?

I have a hard time responding to those comments and questions, Mr. Speaker, and I would like to be able to say, no, Mr. Kakfwi's a pretty good guy, he can be a lot of fun under the right circumstances and he really cares deeply about the underdog. But that's hard to do because it's so tough to come up with real examples of times when he has been able to take real, down-to-earth, practical, sensitive approaches to the issues. It sometimes seems like he's more a reflection of his bureaucrats than of himself.

What progress has he made? That's a tough one, too, Mr. Speaker. There has been a lot of talk about family law reform but only some minor amendments and a bill that was too little, too late for this Assembly.

There has been a lot of talk about creating an aboriginal justice system but there has been very little systematic change; in fact, I believe, almost none.

The needs of victims' organizations were ignored until brought up in this House, and I would like to credit my honourable colleague for Frame Lake for pursuing this issue so effectively. Even now, though, the funding levels that are being considered remain inadequate. Without money, these services cannot have the impact that northerners are counting on, no matter how committed the individual staff might be.

For years, Mr. Speaker, many of us looked forward to the time when corrections would be transferred to the Department of Justice, and now we wonder why this has happened. In fact, some times it seems that the only change to the corrections system has been the construction of that colourful -- I don't know if I can call it that; actually, I think it's quite ugly -- fence that goes part of the way around the Yellowknife Correctional Centre.

But I don't see many indications of new programs for aboriginal people and I don't see new models for community corrections. I don't see a marked increase in the number of correctional officers who are aboriginal people. How many shift supervisors at YCC are of aboriginal descent? Not too many, let me tell you. I don't see much growth in institutional programs geared towards traditional knowledge or native spirituality. The on-the-land program at Baffin Correctional Centre was a successful pilot project, but how many similar programs exist in the west? Inmates should be allowed to do more to prepare themselves for a successful reintegration into society than to watch TV at YCC or cut wood in Hay River.

I also want to indicate that I was pleased to hear that they are going to be training YCC inmates to help with the fire situation in the north. I thought that was very creative, and I commend YCC officials for thinking of that idea.

Mr. Speaker, the maintenance enforcement program is a great idea and, admittedly, it does have committed staff, but what is the point if you are only going to get a recorded message each time you phone? I asked the Minister about this several days ago. There's still a recorded message and there are still constituents who are attempting to reach the maintenance enforcement program. I think we've got to do more than just pay lip-service to the victims who are suffering from lack of continued support to the maintenance enforcement program.

So, Mr. Speaker, there is still a lot that needs to be done in the area of justice programs, and I know that I am not alone when I express disappointment about the lack of progress that has been made by this Minister. Perhaps, Mr. Speaker, some of the attention that's going on towards securing responsibility for criminal prosecutions could be better aimed in the direction of upgrading our existing programs and services. I have to wonder whether they really need more lawyers working for this government.

I wonder what this government has accomplished in terms of intergovernmental and aboriginal affairs. That's another one of Mr. Kakfwi's responsibilities, and I can't see that much progress, quite frankly. Responsibility for western constitutional development has been conveniently dropped on the steering committee of my honourable colleague, Mr. Koe, and this government still has no announced plans, no provisions for its position or response to Quebec's independence question. I need to point out that it's absolutely regrettable that a Minister of Aboriginal Affairs would vote to block the appearance of western Arctic chiefs and aboriginal leaders in this House. It's incredible to even imagine that happening, yet the Minister did go along with the rest of the Cabinet in opposing Mr. Antoine's motion last Friday, and I found that shameful, Mr. Speaker.

In summary, it seems as though the honourable Member for Sahtu has done a little bit of everything but not many jobs have been well done. Mr. Speaker, the one exception to this may be with respect to the role the Minister has taken in leading territorial opposition to Bill C-68, an ill-advised, southern-style attempt to control firearms in a manner that is detrimental to the people of the Northwest Territories. I certainly have been pleased to be a Member of the committee that has been working to change the federal government's position on this matter, and I want to note the hard work that Mr. Kakfwi has done in this regard.

Even though I am quite critical of his attitude and performance in some respects, the fact is that I do admire several of Mr. Kakfwi's other attributes. I wish, Mr. Speaker, that more northerners could adopt the personal goal he stands for in terms of non-violence, abstinence and family values. I believe that he would be a great role model of what a political leader should be like if only he were more approachable. When I think about the values that he stands for, I feel proud to see him as a Member of the Cabinet. I particularly hope that young people are noticing the examples that he sets. I really do want to give Mr. Kakfwi credit for the zero tolerance declaration. This was a bold and courageous stand for a politician to make. Now I hope he will do the next step and work with the Minister responsible for the Financial Management Board Secretariat to make sure this becomes a term of employment for all territorial public servants. Too many GNWT employees still believe that it is all right to pursue a violent lifestyle. This zero tolerance should allow for the development of a policy that will not tolerate territorial public servants that get involved in any type of violent action. They should be fired if they do, Mr. Speaker.

Because of his work in enforcing a more reasonable position from the federal government on Bill C-68 and because of his initiation and support for zero tolerance for violence and because of his personal commitment to positive leadership, it becomes at least somewhat possible to overlook some of Mr. Kakfwi's other shortcomings. For him, Mr. Speaker, I give him a C-plus for his performance as a Minister.

Mr. Speaker, a moment ago, I mentioned the Minister of Finance who also had the responsibilities for the growing Financial Management Board Secretariat, the Honourable John Pollard. For not doing more to deal with the growing deficit problem, I think Mr. Pollard should only get a B. In a way, that is probably more than any other Finance Minister could hope to get, given the same pressure that he has been facing. To give him credit, Mr. Pollard has been very fair regardless of what some of his other colleagues may think.

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Some Hon. Members

Hear! Hear!

---Applause

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Jeannie Marie-Jewell Thebacha

I am impressed with the job on launching his consultation initiative on revenue generation. Many of us have been impressed with the way he has consistently provided support to his staff. I am concerned, however, about the way the Department of Personnel has been dismantled and by the increasing responsibility that each department is taking for its own hiring.

In the Northwest Territories, it is important to remember that there needs to be some centralization of the Personnel function to ensure that the make-up of the public service truly reflects the population we represent. It becomes far too easy, I am afraid, for some of our affirmative action and other important policies to be overlooked if they are administered by junior-level public servants and isolated departments. Mr. Speaker, I believe that affirmative action must continue within this public service. I am concerned that the Minister's comprehensive review of affirmative action policies seems to be stuck in the mud. I emphasize that because this initiative is too important to be allowed to flounder. I would urge the Minister to support the continuation of this policy. There might be some need for modification, but I believe northerners will accept that, but I don't think northerners will want to see it eliminated.

Mr. Speaker, certainly the Minister of Finance and FMBS will be able to bring energy into the review by avoiding southern consultants, which he has done, and I commend him for that; by opening the process for more active participation; and, by the aboriginal organizations that have the greatest stake in the policy and in the process. So, frankly, when you consider the way this initiative has gone, I think a B is probably pretty good for this Minister. But if he feels like complaining about this grade, Mr. Speaker, we then have to remind him again about Expo.

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Some Hon. Members

(Microphones turned off)

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Jeannie Marie-Jewell Thebacha

Mr. Speaker, I also want to comment on the performance of the Minister of Renewable Resources. It is really unfortunate that he is sick today. I gave him a note yesterday, maybe that didn't make him feel too well. I often look across the room and see him in his characteristic pose, as he concentrates on the business of the House, sitting there with his eyes closed, listening intently with his head drooped forward. We should be grateful, Mr. Speaker, that the Minister doesn't snore when he is concentrating so hard.

---Laughter

To be serious, I have been impressed with a number of goals this Minister has achieved during his time on Cabinet. He has finally begun to address long-standing issues with regard to the management and operation of the Hanging Ice Bison Ranch and he acted promptly to halt the exportation of live Buffalo when it became clear that this was not in the interest of the Fort Smith residents. I commend him for that. I have been impressed with the role he has taken in working to combat the lies being spread by animal right activities and in the way he has represented the Northwest Territories well in his international discussions with European Parliaments. Some of my constituents feel that this Member still carries the regrettable conviction that he had on impaired driving, but I believe and I honestly think that he has learned much from that experience and conducts himself appropriately.

Mr. Speaker, I wonder why this Minister, with all his apparent abilities -- and I know he is quite smart -- has not shown the initiative to achieve more. When I look back to when I first became Minister with portfolio responsibilities for Social Services -- which included corrections -- Personnel, the Women's Secretariat, WCB and the Highway Transport Board, I felt like a TV changing channels every few minutes when we were trying to get information on different areas. Why is this new Minister not taking a greater share of the work that needs to be done at the Cabinet level? He is committed to effective public consultation and he shows a lot of promise in following through on the issues that concern people the most. I only wish that he was doing more. In fact, some of the people who observe this House on a regular basis have commented: If you want something to remain at the status quo, ask Mr. Arngna'naaq to take it. Sometimes I don't believe I agree with Mr. Arngna'naaq. With those reasons, I would give Mr. Arngna'naaq a C-plus for being a Minister. He hasn't been a Minister for that long, so I think it is only fair to assess him.

Mr. Speaker, that brings me to the Honourable Kelvin Ng, the newest Minister of Cabinet who has responsibilities for the important Department of Municipal and Community Affairs. Mr. Ng brings a wealth of municipal experience to his role and is an excellent choice on paper to head up this department. I think as a new student in his class, I would give him a B, largely because of his strong performance in handling the recent state of emergency in the Sahtu and for his commitment to finally move ahead and deal with outstanding legislative issues in the review of municipal statutes.

Mr. Speaker, in his brief tenure, Mr. Ng has successfully made every attempt to address our water and sewer issue in the town of Fort Smith. I thank him for that. There are still some more details to be worked out, but I am confident that he will complete this commitment. He has continued to secure $400,000 for our recreational complex and another $2 million in next year's budget. However, I should note that little progress has been made in addressing the town boundary issues. I am concerned that he is showing some signs of picking up some bad habits of his Cabinet colleagues. When I look at the town boundary issue, there is one issue that the community has collectively agreed on: the band; the Metis; the town; and, the residents of Bell Rock -- and it isn't very often you get every group in Fort Smith to agree on one issue, believe me -- and they strongly supported the request for the boundary issue to be downsized. Unfortunately, his department didn't allow it.

When I stated earlier about picking up some bad habits of his Cabinet colleagues, I an reminded of his actions of sending my honourable colleague from Baffin Central a note in which he used totally inappropriate language. To make the reference he did in that note and recognizing that it was around International Women's Day, was absolutely unacceptable. The honourable Minister should know to rephrase that type of thing in the future. I wish him well and I believe he is quite competent as a Minister and I'm sure his department will do well under his leadership.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to comment now about my colleague, the Honourable Richard Nerysoo. I think he's been a Minister who has always maintained a reputation for supporting the equality of all people and for being sensitive to the difficult issues surrounding human rights. I certainly give the Minister a lot of credit for that. But in so many other ways, I believe this Minister's performance has been a little bit disappointing. Even with all of his experience, I think at times he appears to have motivational problems. I don't know why it is, maybe it's because he's been here too long. I think all Members have seen occasions when sometimes he forgets about meetings, he neglects to follow through with political commitments, and I wouldn't say takes a cavalier attitude towards the business of his portfolio, but at times, he may have a tendency to do that.

I commend him for succeeding in bringing forward a new Education Act, Mr. Speaker, but with 163 clauses in it and 80 or so amendments, it's really difficult to say that it was a good act that was brought forward. Think about it, Mr. Speaker; if this had been any other Minister bringing forward any other bill, the entire process would have been scrapped by now and the Minister would have been sent back to the drawing board. In fact, I would have liked to have seen this House give Mr. Lewis's private Member's bill as much special consideration as it has given Mr. Nerysoo's bill to establish a new Education Act.

I don't know why this is happening, but I honestly believe that in many cases, this Minister sometimes makes political commitments and then forgets to tell his department about what commitments he has made. I think the trick is, Mr. Speaker, to be sure to call his deputy minister or his executive assistant. Not that the Members of this House should have to do that, but I say that because the Minister is indeed fortunate to have a good executive assistant who is as diligent as she is. I really believe that Hal Gerein and John Quirke, his two deputy ministers, are two of the better deputy ministers in the government, along with Ken Lovely and Andrew Gamble from Transportation.

There have been many times when I have brought a constituency concern to either Mr. Gerein or Mr. Quirke, and I've always been impressed with the prompt and thoughtful manner in which the matter has been resolved. I believe that's good government in action, Mr. Speaker. I should also say that it's nice to see deputy ministers who not only make a contribution to the public service but who show a lot of leadership when it comes to getting things done.

Mr. Speaker, it is quite likely that if I make this Minister's grade lower than what I'm thinking of giving him, then it wouldn't be fair, in my assessment. I really believe that this Minister's grade should be a B, considering all of his experience and knowledge. There is one thing, Mr. Speaker, I will say that Mr. Nerysoo does have a pretty good memory and he is fair in most of his judgements -- and I say most of his judgements.

I will say, however, that I was concerned about a matter that my honourable colleague from Inuvik raised about a public notice distributed by the Department of Safety and Public Services, particularly because it was with regard to gambling laws. When the Minister indicated that the document had been sent out without the knowledge of either himself or his deputy minister, I found this to be quite embarrassing, especially since he acknowledged the notice was not entirely factual. I encouraged him to take action to retract and correct the information but, to date, he hasn't.

Mr. Speaker, on the other hand, I want to comment that I'm grateful to the Minister for his support for educational capital projects in Fort Smith. We now have the college headquarters back where it belongs; in Fort Smith. We all know that Fort Smith was the original home of Thebacha College and the first head office of Arctic College. We also have the academic building nearing completion on the college campus, and I believe this will enhance the already first rate education that our post-secondary students receive. I am pleased that the historic JBT Elementary School, which was built in 1958, is finally receiving the renovations it has needed for a long, long time. I want to thank the Minister for his support of these projects. He should know that it has been appreciated by my constituents.

This Minister is also to be complimented on completing his long-overdue revisions of the Mine Safety Act and for spearheading the review of the liquor laws. I also note that he has recently made a commitment to set some new priorities for the review of labour policy and legislation, something that I think is very much overdue. But on these initiatives, Mr. Speaker, it seems that at times he had to be prodded by honourable Members of this House. I think he should have taken more initiative to follow through without always having to wait for Members to pressure him, because Members get tired of prodding Ministers.

And there are many areas where he needs to do more work. There are problems continuing with respect to student financial assistance and the very important teacher education program. He seems to have overlooked the whole area of labour standards, and I believe our standards for safety enforcement have not improved. They may even have deteriorated. So, Mr. Speaker, to sum up, with all of his experience and skills, I think many of us have been disappointed that this Minister has not done more. I must say that I was also disappointed, Mr. Speaker, when this Minister rose in the House during my absence to raise a point of order regarding my decision to table an unsigned letter that dealt with a number of policy breaches.

I can accept the fact that the honourable Member disagreed with my decision, but I can't understand why he chose not to raise his objection at the time the letter was tabled, or to even phone me in my constituency, where I had accepted a previous invitation to participate in winter carnival duties, to let me know of his intentions. I found his actions pretty hard to understand, other than on a purely political level. I found that to be quite disappointing. Later on in my reply, I want to return to the matter of the so-called unsigned letter and provide the House with additional remarks on that subject. But for now, I want to express my disappointment in the Minister's actions in dealing with that particular matter. Before, I had a lot of admiration for this Minister's sense of fairness but I lost a lot of respect for him when he chose to handle the matter of his point of order in that particular fashion.

Mr. Speaker, with that, I will state -- as I have said -- that I think the Minister deserves a B. But if he is going to continue to be in this House, he should create some new vibrant energy because I think he's quite capable, no doubt, and I think he can do a lot better.

Mr. Speaker, now I move on to the Honourable John Todd. In my view, this Cabinet Minister should get one of the highest marks in Cabinet. I say that not because I like him personally, but because he has proven over and over to me that he is a man of his word. Of all the Members of Cabinet, he may be the only one who, I believe, has the guts to give you a straight answer, and I admire him for that. A lot of times I don't like his answers, Mr. Speaker, but I respect the way he's willing to let you know the truth. Indeed, that's such a rare quality these days. I think many people are starting to think about how refreshing it would be to see a straight shooter like Mr. Todd become our next Premier.

He certainly has a number of qualities that would distinguish him for that role, Mr. Speaker. He represents the north very well, both on the national and international stage. He's sensitive to the traditions, needs and aspirations of the aboriginal people of his region and he has also learned the importance of listening carefully to elders. He can be forceful, but he's also a good communicator, and he has a talent for team building. He surrounds himself with competent people like Rick Bargery, his EA, who I think is very competent, sensitive, fair and very good at his work; also Andrew Gamble, his deputy minister in the department. I've noticed a great improvement in his ability to be patient ever since we first served together on the Standing Committee on Finance.

Mr. Speaker, when we first started on the Standing Committee on Finance, I recall Mr. Todd wanting an answer right away, wanting the committee to move quickly. I sent him a note and I said, Mr. Todd, if you want to continue to be chairman, you must learn to be patient. I think, perhaps, that he listened to my advice about that because he is becoming a little bit more patient in comparison to when he first got elected as a Member.

He also has a great sense of humour. It's difficult to stay mad at him for too long, unless of course you happen to be my honourable colleague, Mr. Patterson, who's not here today. I think that people respect him for his sensitivity, his fairness and his tendency to become intolerant of procrastinators. However, Mr. Speaker, he's not perfect yet so I'll only give him an A-minus.

One of the areas where I think he's going to have to be cautious has to do with the way he may be pushing too much on the northern accord. He needs to remember that our pace in dealing with these issues may not be the same as his. He has to show greater respect for that. I believe that this could be this Minister's downfall. He's approaching this sensitive issue as though he's too much of a businessman, as though he's a builder and a developer. He has to realize that for aboriginal people we have a different perspective. We have been allowed by the Creator to borrow the land from our future generations. We will never own it. Perhaps that's why communication seems to be breaking down even when this Minister is known for his ability to communicate.

To him I would say to slow down on this one, listen carefully to the aboriginal people of the Sahtu, the Deh Cho, the North

Slave and the South Slave just as carefully as you've always listened to the Inuit of Nunavut.

With that, I wish him the very best both during the fall election and upon his return to this House in the fall.

Well, Mr. Speaker, this brings me, last but not least, to my honourable colleague from Tu Nedhe, the Minister...