This is page numbers 1525 - 1578 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 language.

Topics

Members Present

Mr. Allooloo, Mr. Antoine, Hon. Silas Arngna'naaq, Mr. Ballantyne, Hon. Nellie Cournoyea, Mr. Dent, Hon. Samuel Gargan, Hon. Stephen Kakfwi, Mr. Koe, Mr. Lewis, Ms. Mike, 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 1525

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Good morning. Orders of the day, item 2, Ministers' statements. Mr. Kakfwi.

Minister's Statement 107-12(7): Gun Control Lobby
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1525

Stephen Kakfwi Sahtu

Mr. Speaker, I have an emergency statement. Mr. Speaker, Bill C-68, An Act Respecting Firearms and Other Weapons, is currently being debated in the Senate during second reading. The bill will soon be sent to the Senate Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs for further review and public hearings. On behalf of the Legislature, the Member for Iqaluit, Mr. Patterson, and I travelled to Ottawa on Monday to meet with aboriginal leaders Ovide Mercredi, Rosemary Kuptana, Jim Sinclair and Gerald Morin. We also met with a number of Senators representing both the Conservatives and the Liberals.

With respect to the Senate, we targeted Members of the standing committee and the Senate House Leader. In addition to pressing for public hearings, we asked the committee Members to consider visiting the Northwest Territories this summer and fall. We encouraged them to see first hand how northern people use guns -- not as weapons, but as tools -- and discover for themselves how impossible it will be to administer the licensing and registration provisions of this bill.

Mr. Speaker, we impressed upon each Senator how important it is for our lawmakers in this country to meet the very people this new law would affect, should it pass. We told them of Helmut Kohl's visit and the surprising, yet welcome, change of mind this leader has had regarding the fur issue. We said that if Chancellor Kohl could take the time to visit, then surely the Members of the Senate committee could do no less.

---Applause

Mr. Speaker, during the meeting with national aboriginal leaders, we encouraged them to develop a united position on Bill C-68. To that end, they have agreed and accepted our invitation to meet in Yellowknife during the week of July 10th and plan to make Bill C-68 and the fur issue the main focus.

---Applause

As you know, we have done our best to make the lawmakers in Ottawa understand our point of view. In return, they offered up amendments that are, at best, window dressing. The promised consultation has been frustrating and grossly inadequate. Mr. Speaker, laws must make sense to the people they affect and to the people who must explain, enforce and defend them. In the case of Bill C-68, it is difficult to explain, impossible to defend and it will be incredibly expensive to administer and enforce. In addition, its effectiveness is questionable, at best.

Because of this, opposition to this hastily-drafted and poorly-researched legislation is building. Western provinces are concerned about jurisdiction issues and, like both territories, they are concerned about the costs of administration and enforcement. As well, the new government of Ontario has registered it's concerns and some of the Atlantic Premiers are questioning the costs. With additional opposition from a united aboriginal community, it will be difficult for the federal government to remain indifferent to the criticism.

Mr. Speaker, no firm dates have been set for public hearings planned by the Senate committee. The consensus is that they will likely be held in the last part of September, with an October reporting date. We will know in the coming days, as the bill passes second reading and the Senate Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs releases its timetable.

In conclusion, I want to assure Members that the Caucus Subcommittee on Gun Control remains committed and dedicated to seeking an exemption for the Northwest Territories from the offending provisions of Bill C-68. Unless and until the many practical difficulties can be addressed to our satisfaction, we simply cannot see how this bill can be supported. We will appear again before the public hearings to state our case on behalf of the Legislative Assembly and people of the Northwest Territories. Despite the fall election, we will make this lobby an important priority. Our last hope lies with the Senate. Hopefully, it will rise to the occasion and offer that sober second thought that Canada so desperately needs. Thank you.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 107-12(7): Gun Control Lobby
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1525

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Kakfwi. Mr. Pudluk, your point of order.

Point Of Privilege

Minister's Statement 107-12(7): Gun Control Lobby
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1525

Ludy Pudluk High Arctic

Point of privilege, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I wonder if this very important document will be translated, especially into the Inuktitut language?

Speaker's Ruling

Minister's Statement 107-12(7): Gun Control Lobby
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1526

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

The reason, Mr. Pudluk, why the statement wasn't translated is so that Mr. Kakfwi could make an emergency statement. The translation is now available. Mr. Pudluk.

Minister's Statement 107-12(7): Gun Control Lobby
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1526

Ludy Pudluk High Arctic

Mr. Speaker, my apologies. As I made my point of privilege, the translation did come in. Thank you.

Minister's Statement 107-12(7): Gun Control Lobby
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1526

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you.

---Applause

Thank you, Mr. Pudluk. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Mr. Todd.

Minister's Statement 108-12(7): 1994 Annual Report - Workers' Compensation Board
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1526

John Todd Keewatin Central

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present the annual report of the WCB for the period ending December 31, 1994, in accordance with section 100 of the Financial Management Act.

The financial and statutory responsibilities of the WCB are threefold:

1. It must guarantee that compensation and the pensions awarded to injured workers of their dependants are paid in accordance with entitlement.

2. It must assess employers sufficiently and fairly to meet these obligations.

3. It should maintain stability and achieve a balance, providing benefits to injured workers, while keeping assessment costs to employers as low as possible.

These responsibilities are met by establishing and maintaining adequate reserves.

I am pleased to report, Mr. Speaker, that the financial position of the Workers' Compensation Board improved in 1994. This has allowed the board to restore its reserves to desirable levels.

The future liability reserve ensures that the board is able to pay the total entitlement of its claims. This capability is often referred to as "fully funded."

I am pleased to confirm that again in 1994, the NWT WCB is fully funded. I should add that this is an enviable position to be in compared to the fiscal situation of other boards across Canada.

Mr. Speaker, there are several reasons for the board's positive results:

1. Increased hiring by employers operating in the north resulted in assessment revenue exceeding projections.

2. Thanks to a lower than anticipated consumer price index, supplementary pension increases in 1994 were less than expected.

3. In cooperation with employers, more emphasis was put in training on the job, graduated return to work and alternative job placements.

4. Third-party actions concluded by the board in 1994 recovered additional monies.

Although much of this report focuses on fiscal responsibility, I must emphasize that financial stability is not the only measure of success at the NWT Workers' Compensation Board.

In 1994, the WCB undertook a number of significant initiatives to improve the level of services provided to its clients:

- Implementation of an early intervention claims management model, which will ensure early assessment and diagnosis for injured workers and a quicker return to the workplace;

- A memorandum of understanding with the Department of Renewable Resources to ensure that harvesters injured in the course of their traditional employment receive fair compensation;

- A more "common-sense" approach to rehabilitation services, resulting in greater emphasis on-the-job training, graduated return to work and alternative work programs;

- A Special Needs Committee created to address the special requirements of injured workers and pensions with significant disabilities;

- A comprehensive review and restructuring of the industrial classification system resulted in fewer subclasses and a more equitable system;

- A new multi-industry classification, which allows employers engaged in more than one industry to reduce assessment costs by applying for separate classification;

- The safety incentive rate reduction program which, when it takes effect in 1996, will impose penalties on unsafe businesses within each subclass; and,

- The development of new programs and increased training by the WCB's safety education unit.

Mr. Speaker, the 1994 Annual Report that I will table today confirms that the Workers' Compensation Board continues to operate in an effective and responsible manner. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 108-12(7): 1994 Annual Report - Workers' Compensation Board
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1526

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

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

Bowhead Whales
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 1526

Manitok Thompson Aivilik

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I rise in this House to voice the thoughts and views of my Inuit elders on the bowhead whale. Muktuk from the bowhead whale is a delicacy to the Inuit people, especially our elders who have sampled its flavour in times long past, and, Mr. Speaker, as has been well reported, in more recent times.

I struggle to express the concept of the delicacy of this fine food to people of other ethnic origins. Mr. Speaker, perhaps haggis, truffles or roast pheasant may bring to mind a comparative exotic flavour of a food my people hold in such high regard.

---Applause

Mr. Speaker, between 1820 and 1830, approximately 750 whaling ships journeyed to our Arctic waters and harvested over 8,000 bowhead whales. The Baffin Island bowhead whales were hunted by Dutch whalers in the 18th century. Based on available records for 1719 and 1911, the records say that a minimum of 28,000 bowhead whales were taken from the Baffin Bay stock. This overharvesting not only lead to the shortage of this vital food supply, but also prevented generations of Inuit people from knowing the delicious flavour of bowhead muktuk.

Mr. Speaker, on many occasions, Inuit elders have tried to convey to the younger generation the excitement, the joy and the satisfaction of a successful traditional bowhead hunt and the sharing of muktuk with the entire community. Sadly, Mr. Speaker, this experience can now only be shared legally through the storytelling of our elders and the imagination of the listener.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to seek unanimous consent from my colleagues to continue.

Bowhead Whales
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 1527

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

The Member for Aivilik is seeking unanimous to conclude her statement. Do we have any nays? There are no nays. Mrs. Thompson, could you conclude your statement?

Bowhead Whales
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 1527

Manitok Thompson Aivilik

I have witnessed, Mr. Speaker, over the years, my father, now in his 70s, relay to visitors and students on many occasions the story of a bowhead whale hunt, complete with actions and an ethnic whaler's bowhead harpoon.

As nature takes its course in the Arctic, Mr. Speaker, many Inuit have witnessed the ageless relationship between predator and prey; of killer whales and polar bears feasting on bowhead whales. The retelling of these experiences have left our elders longing with envy, and wishing to reclaim their place in the natural order of life in which they too are hunters.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank the fine people of Igloolik for sharing the recent bowhead muktuk with most of the elders in Nunavut. Mr. Speaker, this was a profoundly emotional moment in which many elders, fortunate enough to again taste the finest of traditional foods, remembered their parents and their relatives who had passed on before them. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing the voice of the Inuit elders to speak through me today in this House.

---Applause

Bowhead Whales
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 1527

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mrs. Thompson. Item 3, Members' statements. Mr. Lewis.