This is page numbers 1109 - 1133 of the Hansard for the 12th Assembly, 7th Session. The original version can be accessed on the Legislative Assembly's website or by contacting the Legislative Assembly Library. The word of the day was chairman.

Topics

Members Present

Mr. Allooloo, Mr. Antoine, Hon. Silas Arngna'naaq, Mr. Ballantyne, Hon. Nellie Cournoyea, Mr. Dent, Hon. Samuel Gargan, Hon. Stephen Kakfwi, Mr. Koe, Mr. Lewis, Mrs. Marie-Jewell, Ms. Mike, Hon. Don Morin, Hon. Richard Nerysoo, Hon. Kelvin Ng, Mr. Ningark, Mr. Patterson, Hon. John Pollard, Mr. Pudlat, Mr. Pudluk, Mrs. Thompson, Hon. John Todd, Mr. Whitford, Mr. Zoe

---Prayer

Item 1: Prayer
Item 1: Prayer

Page 1109

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mrs. Thompson. I would like to congratulate you on being elected to the Assembly. Welcome to the Chamber.

---Applause

I would also like to welcome back all the Members from their break. We have plenty of sunlight here but maybe we need a skydome that would open somehow and get some air in here.

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

Minister's Statement 75-12(7): Women's Biathlon Team - Canada Games Medals
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1109

Kelvin Ng Kitikmeot

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. On Saturday, May 27, 1995, a particularly proud moment for northerners occurred that I wish to share with Members. At the annual Sport North awards banquet held that evening, one of our outstanding sport teams received their rightful recognition and reward. Many of us have followed the media accounts of the plight of our Canada Games women's biathlon relay team.

At the Canada Games in Grande Prairie last February, the team skied and shot as a team at the highest levels to finish their relay race a close fourth, just behind Team Quebec. To finish that close behind such provinces as Quebec and Alberta was a demonstration of the excellence of the performance of these young ladies.

During the race, Team Quebec had been "paced" by their coaches. Pacing is the practice of running alongside competitors to encourage and assist them. This practice is clearly illegal under Biathlon Canada rules and calls for a team's disqualification. Team NWT coach, Patti-Kay Hamilton, with the encouragement of other coaches and our own NWT mission staff, filed a protest with the games jury.

The games jury's final decision: Quebec coaches had indeed been pacing their athletes, but instead of the automatic disqualification of the team, which would have given the bronze medals to Team NWT, the games jury ruled that Quebec should only be reprimanded. Team Quebec was allowed to keep their bronze medals.

Mr. Speaker, we take great pride in the good sportsmanship and fair play that our NWT athletes demonstrate at national events. Our women's biathlon relay team demonstrated character and sportsmanship in the face of the unjust decision by the Canada Games jury. Mr. Speaker, many of us felt it was simply not enough to tell these three young ladies that they should satisfy themselves with this decision.

There have been three months of intense and persistent pressure brought to bear on the Canada Games Council to review and reverse this decision. Many letters and interventions have been made on behalf of the team. I directly contacted the president of the Canada Games Council, as did others.

At the Sport North awards banquet, the Canada Games Council's decision was announced, co-awarding the bronze medal to the NWT women's biathlon relay team. The medals, along with a statement from the council, were presented to the team that evening.

Mr. Speaker, justice has been done. We have shown that it is right to compete in the true spirit of sportsmanship and fair play and that our athletes can be rewarded for fair and honest competition.

I am extremely proud to congratulate our only medal-winning team from the 1995 Canada Winter Games. I am sure Members will join me in providing richly deserved recognition to: Judy Goodzek; Mary Beth Miller; Moria Green; and coaches, Patti-Kay Hamilton and Pat Bobinski. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 75-12(7): Women's Biathlon Team - Canada Games Medals
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1109

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Ng. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Mr. Kakfwi.

Minister's Statement 76-12(7): Bill C-68 - Update
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1109

Stephen Kakfwi Sahtu

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Caucus Subcommittee on Gun Control, I wish to provide an update on the status of Bill C-68, which amends the Criminal Code. A new Firearms Act was introduced in February 1995, and shortly afterwards was referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs. Public hearings were held in Ottawa. On the 24th of April, our Caucus Subcommittee on Gun Control made a presentation to this parliamentary committee. At that time, we identified the serious concerns of northerners about the impact of Bill C-68 on our rights and way of life.

The committee criticized the severe penalties that would be imposed for possession of firearms without proper documentation and the provisions for lending, transferring and storage which were either unenforceable in the north or would result in injustices if enforced. We called for amendments which would suspend the application of Bill C-68 in the Northwest Territories. The governments of Saskatchewan, Alberta, the Yukon and Manitoba also presented briefs to the standing committee in May opposing the legislation. Recently, New Brunswick -- specifically, the Premier -- spoke out clearly in opposition, as well.

The James Bay Cree and the Yukon Council of Indians presented briefs on the 10th of May which challenged the constitutionality of the amendments, arguing that the amendments violated the terms of their land claims agreements (treaties), which require consultation on measures which affect their hunting rights. Ovide Mercredi of the Assembly of First Nations and Rosemary Kuptana of the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada appeared on May 15th and argued that the bill violates the rights of native people.

The federal government struck a firearms task force, comprised of officials, to consult with native groups on the impact and implementation of C-68. This task force met with groups in Iqaluit, Yellowknife, and other centres and has a whirlwind schedule of consultation with aboriginal groups across the Northwest Territories. The government of the Northwest Territories has been extremely critical of the quality of this consultation, which began with little advance notice and little opportunity for a meaningful dialogue between aboriginal people and the members of this task force. We have expressed our criticisms of the process to the Department of Justice and to the Minister.

Minister Rock announced amendments to the bill which made inadvertent possession of a firearm contrary to the act a summary conviction offence, in response to the criticism from virtually all intervenors that the proposed penalties in the bill for illegal possession were excessive. He also announced a change which will limit the powers of the police to search for firearms in a house. These amendments, while welcomed, do not go far enough to make Bill C-68 acceptable to the people of the north.

A controversy arose in late May when the Prime Minister was reported to have said that the costs of implementing C-68 were to be borne by the provinces. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice have since clarified that the upfront implementation costs would be borne exclusively by the federal government and, in the longer term, the costs of administering the firearms program would be covered by fees charged for the acquisition of licences and the registration of firearms.

Even with respect to the current firearms legislation, the federal government has taken the position that the costs would be covered by fees. The Government of the Northwest Territories has consistently expressed to the federal government that, whether in the context of current legislation and Bill C-68, the program cannot be self-financing in the north. Costs in the north are prohibitive. Moreover, many hunters cannot afford to pay any fees. The financing of the costs of administering gun control legislation, whether C-68 is passed in its present form

or not, must be the responsibility of the federal government and will, ultimately, come out of the pockets of taxpayers.

The standing committee wrapped up its hearings today and will likely report back to the House on Wednesday, June 7th. There will likely be a debate in the House of Commons, after which the bill will be referred to the Senate.

On June 1st, I wrote to the Senate on behalf of the Caucus subcommittee, inviting the Senate to visit and hold hearings in the Northwest Territories. The Senate does not have the power to defeat the bill, but could propose amendments which the House of Commons could accept or reject. We do not yet know if the Senate is prepared to hold hearings or if they're prepared to travel to the Northwest Territories.

People of the north, like all other Canadians, remain strongly opposed to the universal registration of firearms. We must continue to express our opposition at every available opportunity, but at this stage, it will be expressions from northerners from all walks of life which will have the greatest impact. The Legislative Assembly has stated its position clearly and, as other groups express the same position, it will become clear to the federal government that this is truly a grass-roots issue.

The federal government remains committed to Bill C-68 and so far is only prepared to make minor amendments. If we persist with our opposition and other Canadians do the same, there is still a chance that the federal government can be persuaded to make meaningful changes to this bill. Later today, I will table the resolutions and letters we have received from various community councils and organizations. Each details why the group is concerned and in opposition to Bill C-68. Thank you.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 76-12(7): Bill C-68 - Update
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1110

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Kakfwi. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Mr. Ng.

Minister's Statement 77-12(7): Nomination Of NWT Director To The Arctic Winter Games International Committee (awgic)
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1110

Kelvin Ng Kitikmeot

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, Members of the House were asked to submit names of individuals deserving of a nomination to fill the vacant NWT director position on the Arctic Winter Games International Committee (AWGIC). I would like to thank those Members who did suggest individuals for this important volunteer position. In all, 11 people were nominated, making the final selection a challenge.

The Arctic Winter Games are governed by the Arctic Winter Games International Committee, comprised of two directors each from the NWT, Yukon and Alaska and one each from Alberta and Greenland. The NWT nominates one of its members from the public at large and the second position is filled by a senior government official. In making a decision on our nominees for the public at large director position, factors such as experience, availability and willingness of each individual to volunteer their time were considered.

Mr. Speaker, after carefully considering the many fine candidates, I am pleased to advise Members that I have nominated to the Arctic Winter Games International Committee, Mr. Don Sian of Iqaluit.

---Applause

Mr. Sian's nomination was forwarded to the Arctic Winter Games International Committee and ratified on May 31st. I will be pleased to distribute to Members later today a short biography of Mr. Sian. Members will see that he has the experience, skills and commitment required to represent the NWT effectively. As a resident of Iqaluit, Mr. Sian will provide valuable input from a Nunavut perspective in leading up to the creation of two new territories in 1999.

I would ask all Members to join me in congratulating Mr. Don Sian on his nomination to the AWGIC for appointment as an NWT director. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 77-12(7): Nomination Of NWT Director To The Arctic Winter Games International Committee (awgic)
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

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

Item 3: Members' Statements
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 1111

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

---Applause

Election To The Legislative Assembly
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 1111

Manitok Thompson Aivilik

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is with great pleasure that I rise in this House today as the newly-elected Member of the Legislative Assembly representing Aivilik. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my constituents in the communities of Chesterfield Inlet, Coral Harbour, and Repulse Bay for their support and faith in my ability to represent their interests. I can assure them that I will work extremely hard as their MLA to ensure that their needs are met and their concerns are addressed by this government.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to thank the Honourable John Todd for looking after the interests of Aivilik while the seat was vacant.

---Applause

Taking on this additional responsibility was very much appreciated by the citizens of my constituency.

To all Members of the Legislative Assembly, thank you for your warm welcome and your very kind offers of assistance should I have any questions or concerns. I look forward to working closely with all of you during this session. A special thank you is extended to David Hamilton for the time he has spent with me

Mr. Speaker, I recognize the challenge that lies before me, and I greet it with an open mind and the determination to succeed. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Election To The Legislative Assembly
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 1111

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mrs. Thompson. Item 3, Members' statements. Ms. Mike.

Member's Statement Welcoming Member For Aivilik To Assembly
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 1111

Rebecca Mike Baffin Central

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. On behalf of Nunavut Caucus, I would like to congratulate and welcome our new Member for Aivilik, Manitok Thompson. We look forward to working with you in the remaining few months of our 12th Assembly. Welcome and thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Member's Statement Welcoming Member For Aivilik To Assembly
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

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

Member's Statement Extending Apologies To Constituents And Mlas
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 1111

Henry Zoe North Slave

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I rise today so that I can inform my colleagues in the Assembly that I want to apologize to my honourable colleagues regarding an unfortunate incident which I was involved in recently. This incident has caused me personal embarrassment.

Mr. Speaker, in the future I will make every effort to avoid placing myself in such an embarrassing situation, and I offer my sincerest apologies to my constituents. If this has caused any of my honourable colleagues embarrassment, I offer them as well my deepest apologies. Mahsi.

---Applause