This is page numbers 1471 - 1524 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 ---agreed.

Topics

Further Return To Question 672-12(7): Commitment To Assist Laid-off Bird Dog Officers Find Employment
Question 672-12(7): Commitment To Assist Laid-off Bird Dog Officers Find Employment
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 1485

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Okay, just to remind the Minister that, with regard to your response to Mrs. Marie-Jewell, the Minister cannot hide behind a situation with regard to a person talking to a lawyer. It's not sub judice. You should either respond to the question or take it as notice but not use the issue, because anyone could hire a lawyer and say that they can't answer because they have a lawyer. Mr. Morin.

Further Return To Question 672-12(7): Commitment To Assist Laid-off Bird Dog Officers Find Employment
Question 672-12(7): Commitment To Assist Laid-off Bird Dog Officers Find Employment
Item 6: Oral Questions

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Don Morin Tu Nedhe

Thank you, Mr. Speaker for that advice. I'll take that question as notice.

Further Return To Question 672-12(7): Commitment To Assist Laid-off Bird Dog Officers Find Employment
Question 672-12(7): Commitment To Assist Laid-off Bird Dog Officers Find Employment
Item 6: Oral Questions

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Item 6, oral questions. Mrs. Marie-Jewell.

Question 673-12(7): Conclusion Of Safety Investigation Of Bird Dog Officers
Item 6: Oral Questions

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Jeannie Marie-Jewell Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to ask the Minister of Safety and Public Services whether or not he can give an update or an indication to this House with respect to the investigation that he announced last week. Has he been in a better situation to give a time frame as to when this investigation can be concluded? Thank you.

Question 673-12(7): Conclusion Of Safety Investigation Of Bird Dog Officers
Item 6: Oral Questions

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Minister of Safety and Public Services, Mr. Nerysoo.

Return To Question 673-12(7): Conclusion Of Safety Investigation Of Bird Dog Officers
Question 673-12(7): Conclusion Of Safety Investigation Of Bird Dog Officers
Item 6: Oral Questions

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Richard Nerysoo Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I can't give a specific time, I can only advise the honourable Member that the information I have received is that the investigations are being conducted and that we will report back after their investigations have been concluded.

I can also advise the honourable Member that meetings had been scheduled between the chief safety officer and Mr. Robertson and the individuals involved; unfortunately, there seems to have been some miscommunication with regard to the dates. The meeting was cancelled and was to have been rescheduled. The communication didn't get back and there was confusion that somehow the chief safety officer wasn't conducting the investigation. This is not correct. The fact is that we wanted to schedule a meeting to accommodate those who were filing the complaints to hear their concerns, then conclude or continue with the investigation. That meeting is being rescheduled.

Return To Question 673-12(7): Conclusion Of Safety Investigation Of Bird Dog Officers
Question 673-12(7): Conclusion Of Safety Investigation Of Bird Dog Officers
Item 6: Oral Questions

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Item 6, oral questions. Item 7, written questions. Item 8, returns to written questions. Mr. Clerk.

Return To Written Question 35-12(7): Revenue Raised By The Government Of The Northwest Territories Fire Management Program Through The Mars Agreement
Item 8: Returns To Written Questions

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

The mutual aid resources sharing -- MARS -- agreement is a multilateral agreement between the Northwest Territories and most other jurisdictions in Canada whereby the parties agree that they will mutually share forest firefighting resources and other services in time of need.

The amounts of cost recovery through the MARS agreement for 1993 and 1994 were approximately $280,000 and $953,000 respectively.

Return To Written Question 35-12(7): Revenue Raised By The Government Of The Northwest Territories Fire Management Program Through The Mars Agreement
Item 8: Returns To Written Questions

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Item 8, returns to written questions. We'll take a 15-minute break.

---SHORT RECESS

Return To Written Question 35-12(7): Revenue Raised By The Government Of The Northwest Territories Fire Management Program Through The Mars Agreement
Item 8: Returns To Written Questions

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Item 9, replies to opening address. Mr. Ballantyne.

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

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Mr. Ballantyne's Reply

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

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Michael Ballantyne Yellowknife North

It's not very long. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thank you, Mr. Todd, for listening to my address.

---Laughter

It's actually relatively short. I know everyone wants to finish the business, so I won't keep you here long. Mr. Speaker, today in my reply to the Commissioner's address, I intend to give some views and observations on the rapidly-changing Northwest Territories from the perspective of an elected politician, both municipal and territorial, over the last 17 years.

Compared to the rest of Canada, the last two decades in the north have been very productive. There has been a massive construction of infrastructure and communities now have a strong physical base on which to develop. If I look at Yellowknife, at Ndilo and Dettah today, I'm proud of what we've accomplished over the years. Communities today are well organized, self-reliant and very capable of taking on new challenges. We must ensure that they are given the support to control more of their own destinies. I'm not going to dwell on the past today. Politics is a tough business, and no one is really interested in the victories of yesterday, which is good because all of our energy must be directed towards the future.

What does the future hold? Land claims, treaty issues, the Charter of Rights, and a fragile and incomplete public government system present the most complex and confusing political landscape in Canada. I would like to step back for a moment and reflect objectively on what it all means. Each of these issues is compelling and each create their own momentum and expectations. There are strong moral and legal arguments to pursue each to its ultimate conclusion. Unfortunately, depending on who you are and what you believe, these issues often clash and spin off on tangents and more tangents; we never conclude any of these issues, and everybody loses.

Let's get back to basics for a moment, and identify some basic principles. What do we want to achieve? First of all, and I think very importantly, we want to provide basic services to people as efficiently as possible. Second, it's been agreed to and it's a bottom-line principle that aboriginal people have a fight to self-government. Third, communities need, demand, and should have more control. Fourth, regional governments and concepts are here to stay. Once the comprehensive claim broke down and regions negotiated their claims on a region by-region basis, regions were here. There are institutions set up by claims that actually give regional bodies constitutional protection. The communities in those regions, whether they are based on land claims or treaty groupings, want to delegate certain powers to regional bodies. Although some people don't want to deal with that, it's a reality. It's there, so let's deal with it. Fifth, there is a need for a central government. In all discussions, though there are differences about the powers that that central government will have, everybody acknowledges that in this ever-changing, difficult, competitive world, we have to speak with one voice here in the western government. So, there is a need for a central government here. These are the principles that I think all of us have to accept. There are also some basic realities, which we have to recognize, whether we like it or not, although some people are having a problem recognizing these realities. One, and this is very, very important, there will be considerably less money to do whatever we want to do over the next four years. That's a fact. It changes everything. Whatever we talk about, let's keep in mind, we need money to do it. The second reality is that division will be very difficult. There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that it's a mammoth undertaking fraught with all sorts of perils. It is going to consume a tremendous amount of energy in the next Legislative Assembly and government. It is going to cause us problems that we haven't yet anticipated. I don't think any of us should fool ourselves that division will be easy because it won't be. It is going to be very, very difficult.

Self-government will be very difficult. I think there's a reality now that, no matter how much the present Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs would like to fulfil his commitments on self-government, I have no doubt that the central agencies in the federal government, whether it is Finance or the Treasury Board, are shutting down the money. It is going to be very difficult to fulfil those commitments without money. I think we should recognize that the federal government has caught themselves in a trap right now. They've raised expectations and are caught in the midst of a huge deficit and debt crisis which, I think, will have tremendous negative ramifications here in the territories in the next four or five years. The federal government made a start this year to deal with the deficit, but they haven't even begun to deal with the debt and, when they do, I think this country is going to change dramatically and irrevocably from coast to coast.

Another reality is that some regions in the Northwest Territories are richer than other regions. We should keep that in mind. Some regions may be blessed by oil and gas exploration, others by diamond mining, while others may have nothing. Whatever we do, we have to ensure that there is some equalization of riches of the western Arctic so that poor regions don't wither and die. That's very important. We're back to the concept that there has to be some form of central government to ensure that the more fortunate regions contribute to the less fortunate regions.

Another bottom line that nobody wants to talk about, but I think that people in the Northwest Territories want to hear at least discussed is that, whatever we do, whatever new forms of government we may want -- and I'm not disagreeing, in the ideal world, it would be great if we could do everything that everybody wants -- is what price are we prepared to pay. Are we prepared to cut programs for people in order to add new government structures? That's a question people should talk about. It's nice to pretend that that issue won't come up, but that issue is going to be with us and it's going to be with us more and more. I think we have to be very honest with ourselves and with our constituents that any choice has effects. Any choice has costs.

It seems to me, and this is only my opinion, that sooner or later, reality is going to strike in the Northwest Territories. Reality is going to strike about the ease or difficulty of division. Reality is going to strike about what the federal government is prepared to accept in self-government. Sooner or later, we, in the Northwest Territories, are going to have to bite the bullet. Sooner or later, we, in the Northwest Territories, are going to have to compromise. That day is when real leadership comes to the fore. It's easy to be a leader when you're promising the moon, but when you have to make tough compromises that are necessary because of external forces, that's a real measure of a leader. What we'll desperately need over the next four or five years is strong, courageous leaders who are willing to face reality straight in the eye and make the tough decisions so we can survive.

No one is going to get everything they want. There is no doubt in my mind that any group in the Northwest Territories won't get what they want. To people here in Yellowknite who want the status quo, the status quo is gone. The world will change. There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that people here in Yellowknife have to accept the fact that it will change. But in every region of the Northwest Territories, people aren't going to get everything they want. There's not enough money for everybody to get everything they want.

So as I said, sooner or later, we're going to have to bite the bullet. I think we should start thinking about it now. If we wait until slowly, but surely, this truth opens up to us, we're going to beat ourselves to death in the meantime. We're going to turn on each other, there are going to be accusations of lack of faith and of mistrust. It's going to be very difficult to achieve anything in that sort of atmosphere.

Maybe what we should think about in the west for 1999, if we haven't come up with a brilliant plan, is to try a five-year experiment. If we haven't come up with an agreement, why don't we say that for each of the regions in the western Arctic, we'll give them three or four programs to deliver. Let's say we'll give them housing, we'll give them social services, and we'll do that for five years. We could say that each region could choose their own regional director and that person can be the contact person with the Cabinet. We can ensure that each region has representation on Cabinet and see how it works. Try it. Try something real. The problem with the community transfer program we have now is that we have a whole smorgasbord; take any number of 200 things. The reality is it's far too complex. It hasn't worked. So why don't we say let's start somewhere real and see where we go? I think after checking it out for a while, again some reality will step in. Regions will see there are certain things they want and certain things they don't want. But as long as they're not given the opportunity to try, they're always going to ask for everything. There's always going to be a sense of mistrust. ideal world, it would be great if we could do everything that I say, Mr. Speaker, the next five years are going to be a tremendous test of everything we've done. Those of us who have spent most of our lives in politics will see whether all that work was worth it, or if it's all brushed aside.

What gives me some hope, Mr. Speaker, is that we, as northerners, at many, many levels are able to work out many difficult and complex issues. I really think that if we become very pragmatic, we recognize that there's not going to be the external help that we think there is. There's no magic out there. The federal government is not going to ride in on a white charger and save anybody, it's quite to the contrary. I don't think you're going to hear clear statements from the federal government. I don't think they're in a position to give clear statements or in a position to give any clear direction. So I think we're going to have to make those decisions, and we're going to have to use our own abilities to put together something here that works.

There's not going to be any sympathy in the rest of Canada. Canada is having tougher times than they've ever had. There's no sympathy now in Ontario for the Northwest Territories. There's no sympathy in British Columbia for the Northwest Territories. They can't believe that 65,000 people with all the potential wealth we have can't take care of themselves. So we're really on our own, and I feel we should recognize that. There's really no magic left. We're left to our own devices, and I think we have enough potential here to be able to do something very worthwhile and something that will work if all of us take our heads out of the stars or out of the sand and just look at the reality of the situation that we're in.

Mr. Speaker, I will make an announcement over the summer as to my intentions in the next election. In the meantime, I want to thank my colleagues here in the House for dealing with the issues of my constituency over the years, for their support for the positions I've held in the Legislative Assembly and the Cabinet over the years, and as Speaker. Being part of this Legislative Assembly can be a very frustrating experience at times, and it can be a very rewarding experience at times. MLAs can be very supportive or they can be total pains in the proverbial...

It's a tough business. No quarter is asked and none is given, and there's little margin for error. But I must say, Mr. Speaker, that this Assembly, with its different cultures, languages and different regional perspectives, is very reflective of the people of the territories. We represent all of the good parts and we represent all of its flaws. Politicians are neither saints nor are they evil. They're just ordinary human beings who, for a short period of time, are chosen by the people to represent them to the best of their abilities.

Mr. Speaker, 65,000 people is a very small pool to draw the number of leaders that our system requires. I think that with all our flaws, everyone who has served in this Assembly over the years should take some satisfaction that we have done very well compared to other jurisdictions in the country. Very well indeed, and I think sometimes we lose perspective. I hear a lot of complaints here in the Northwest Territories but, if you travel across this country, we still live in one of the most fortunate areas in the country and in the world.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank by wife Penny and to thank my son Nicholas and my daughters Erin and Alexandra for their support over the years. Something that I don't think can be overstated here in the political arena is the support of our families. I think those people who have never gone through elections or who have never gone through the pressures of politics can only guess to the pressure that that puts on families. Any of us who have managed to survive in politics for a number of years owe so much of that to the support that we get from our families.

I want to thank David Hamilton, who I've had the pleasure of working with for close to two decades. I want to thank the staff of the Legislative Assembly, the interpreters, Hansard, everyone in the government who I've worked with over the years; I think of deputy ministers Stein Lal, Geoff Bickert, Eric Nielsen, Lew Voytilla, Hiram Beaubier who served this government well; and the great staff who have worked with me personally over the years: I think of John Stephenson, who was my executive assistant for six years, Peggy Butler; Jodi Kapicki, who is with me now; Anne Todd; Paul Jones, who was with me for a long period of time; Fran Hurcomb; Tanis Stirling; Rosemarie Cairns and all the other staff who have served really the people of the Northwest Territories so well.

I would also like to thank the people of my constituency. As you know, I have, I think, a very interesting constituency, a very diverse constituency, a high percentage of aboriginal people in my constituency, probably close to 25 per cent; people who live on Latham Island are very different from the people who live at Royal Oak. The people who live in the high rise are very different from the people who live in Old Town. So I've always had a diversity of opinions, and I must say for the last 12 years I was often in trouble with one group or another because any decision made is sure to offend one group. I did my best and people were quite supportive.

But I have to say that I've been very proud to represent Yellowknife North for many, many years. I think the group is quite representative of the Northwest Territories. I think the challenge in trying to deal with their differences is very much a microcosm of the challenge all of us have in dealing with the real problems of the Northwest Territories.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I know everybody wants to get back to the Education Act so I don't want to keep anybody here any longer. I just want to thank everybody here. I wish everybody a great summer; those who are running all the best of luck; those who aren't, a good life. I must say for me, Mr. Speaker, my life in the Legislative Assembly so far has been a slice. Thank you very much.

---Applause

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

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Ballantyne. I also would like to thank the Members who are in the House now for listening to Mr. Ballantyne. I see some people in the gallery. Welcome to the Assembly. Item 9, replies to opening address. Item 10, petitions. Item 11, reports of standing and special committees. Item 12, reports of committees on the review of bills. Item 13, tabling of documents. Mr. Todd.

Item 13: Tabling Of Documents
Item 13: Tabling Of Documents

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John Todd Keewatin Central

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to table Tabled Document 147-12(7), Proposed Business Corporations Act. Thank you.

Item 13, tabling of documents. Ms. Cournoyea.

Item 13: Tabling Of Documents
Item 13: Tabling Of Documents

June 21st, 1995

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Nellie Cournoyea Nunakput

Mr. Speaker, I wish to table Tabled Document 148-12(7), Proposed Amendments to the Territorial Court Act. Thank you.