This is page numbers 1557 - 1585 of the Hansard for the 13th Assembly, 4th 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.


Members Present

Honourable Jim Antoine, Honourable Goo Arlooktoo, Mr. Barnabas, Honourable Charles Dent, Mr. Enuaraq, Mr. Erasmus, Honourable Sam Gargan, Mrs. Groenewegen, Mr. Henry, Honourable Stephen Kakfwi, Mr. Krutko, Mr. Miltenberger, Honourable Don Morin, Honourable Kelvin Ng, Mr. Ootes, Mr. Picco, Mr. Rabesca, Mr. Roland, Mr. Steen, Honourable Manitok Thompson, Honourable John Todd.

Oh, God, may your spirit and guidance be in us as we work for the benefit of all our people, for peace and justice in our land and for the constant recognition of the dignity and aspirations of those whom we serve. Amen.

Item 1: Prayer
Item 1: Prayer

Page 1557

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Enuaraq. Good afternoon. Orders of the day. Item 2, Ministers' Statements. Mr. Dent.

Charles Dent

Charles Dent Yellowknife Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Good afternoon. Mr. Speaker, April 1, 1999, will see a dramatic change to the political landscape of the Northwest Territories as one territory divides into two. As a result, the legislative, executive, judicial, administrative and intergovernmental processes and structures which have evolved over the years will be fundamentally and permanently altered.

Last week, the Honourable John Todd tabled the draft Transition Action Plan for the creation of two new territories. Although this document deals largely with the transition to a new government in Nunavut, it also for the first time quantifies some of the transition costs affecting the Western Territory. A supplementary report focusing specifically on western costs will be completed in November.

In the interim, there are many issues which need to be dealt with to coordinate the planning prior to April 1, 1999, to ensure that a strong and stable western government is maintained and that plans are in place for the next western territorial election scheduled for the fall of 1999.

Later today, I will table an action plan for the transition to a new Western Territory. The plan, which has been prepared in consultation with the Members of the Western Caucus, outlines some of the steps necessary to successfully launch the new Western Territory. This documents deals with a number of specific issues with respect to the establishment of the new Western Territory.

1. Transition Period

One of the most important considerations for the people of the Western Territory leading to the territorial election in the fall of 1999 is a seamless transition period which will ensure that services continue uninterrupted, the fiscal resources of the government are managed in a prudent manner and that long- term planning necessary to ensure the high quality of services continues.

To accomplish this, the action plan lays out the schedules for business planning by departments, budget consideration by the western Members of the Legislative Assembly and a decrease in the number of Cabinet Ministers from eight to six for the period from April to November, 1999.

The action plan also calls on the federal government to pass an amendment to the Northwest Territories Act to reduce the minimum number of Members of the Legislative Assembly from 15 to 14.

2. Service Levels

The Nunavut Political Accord, signed by the Government of Canada, Tunngavik Federation of Nunavut and our government in 1993, clearly stated that the Government of Canada would ensure that levels of service would not decline as a result of the creation of Nunavut. It is the view of this government and the Western Caucus that this obligates the federal government to pay the reasonable incremental and transitional costs for division that affect both east and west.

As the Honourable John Todd stated in the House last week, this government does not have the mandate to pay for the transition costs related to division and, more importantly, it simply does not have the financial resources to do so without jeopardizing program service to all our residents. This we will not do.

With that in mind, Members of the Western Caucus are committed to supporting the Minister of Finance and the northern representatives in the negotiation of the new formula financing negotiations for the Western Territory and Nunavut. The Western Caucus is taking an active part in ensuring the concerns of the residents of the west are considered in these discussions through the continued good work of the western coalition.

Western Members are also committed to supporting this government's position with respect to the transitional costs for division as outlined by Minister Todd last week in this House.

The people of the Western Territory and Nunavut have a long shared history together and will continue to have many similar political and economic interests after division. Given that there will likely be a need for shared services between west and east after division, it is important to state that we are open and committed to working with the office of the Interim Commissioner on these issues.

3. Political Representation As the constitutional working group works on a made in the north solution to the future constitutional and political arrangements for the west, it is critical that we ensure that the level of political representation of western interests is not eroded in the meantime.

The action plan sets out timetables for the federal government to appoint a senator resident in the west, a commissioner resident in the west and Western Territory representatives to national boards and agencies. Furthermore, we will be initiating a strategy to ensure that the Western Territory continues to be represented at intergovernmental meetings, beginning with Premier Morin hosting the next Western Premiers' Conference in Yellowknife during the summer of 1998.

Perhaps the greatest challenge in dealing with an issue as complex as the creation of two new territories is ensuring that all stakeholders have the necessary information to make sound and timely decisions. As a result, we are committed to providing information, position papers and background research to all stakeholders and the public on a timely basis.

The time for action is now, and the Members of the Western Caucus are prepared to meet the challenges before it. As such, the action plan that I will be tabling today should not be interpreted as a comprehensive blueprint but as the key actions required to ensure the establishment of a strong and stable Western Territory.

It is important to point out that this plan is not intended to replace ongoing ministerial accountability or the authority of the Legislative Assembly.

Together with the Transition Action Plan tabled by Minister Todd last week and the supplementary Transition Action Plan for the west that will be completed next month. This action plan sets out our commitment to ensure that both new territories are treated in a fair and equitable manner.

In the west, the plan is intended to complement the important work being done on structural and governance issues by the Constitutional Working Group, the western coalition and the Aboriginal Summit. We are working from a strong starting position. We have a government which has developed a unique northern character over several decades. We now have the opportunity to develop it further to better suit the residents of the new Western Territory as we move into the next millennium.

The creation of two new territories has been discussed for many years, but many complex issues need to be resolved to ensure a successful transition to two new territories. We hope that this document provides another important step towards this goal.

In conclusion, I would like to say that the future looks good for the western Northwest Territories. Clearly, division does present challenges. However, there are many strengths on which western residents can draw and opportunities on the horizon. The west is rich in natural resources, and there is great potential for jobs for current and future generations. We have infrastructure, programs and services for our people already in place. Western leaders are in a position to continue to develop that system further to carry us forward for generations to come.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

-- Applause

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Dent. Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. Mr. Miltenberger.

Michael Miltenberger

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, western MLAs clearly have an obligation and responsibility to make sure pieces are in place for the western public government after division. The Minister for western transition has outlined the process western Members have agreed to. On the request of the public, the constitutional process is moving along at a slower pace to allow for greater community consultation. In the meantime, we will be taking all the steps necessary to make sure services and programs for the public are unaffected on April 1, 1999, and beyond.

Mr. Speaker, the western government is in good shape. Our government structures already exist and are functioning. Our programs and services are already highly decentralized. In the west, we are also active at the financial tables dealing with formula financing and the division of assets and liabilities. Even in Yellowknife, there is an opportunity of shared services which will help mitigate the impact of division upon the capital.

Division is an opportunity. Good things are ahead for the west. We just have to make sure we are ready to take advantage of them. The document that will be tabled later today is only an update in the efforts to let people of the west know what work is currently under way. It is part of the many steps that we will have to take in the coming months and part of the ongoing communication that is going to be essential for the people of the west.

The bottom line, Mr. Speaker, is that most people in the west should not notice the impact of division on their daily lives. Levels of programs and services should not be effected. It is critical that the federal government needs to fulfil its obligation in the creation of two new territories, and it is up to us to get the pieces in place for division. The nuts and bolts issues are critical for success. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. Members' statements. Mr. Arlooktoo.

Goo Arlooktoo Baffin South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today to inform the House of the state of emergency that has been declared by Mayor John Curley for the hamlet of Cape Dorset. Mr. Curley also chaired the Local Emergency Response Committee. As of 1300 hours, a hurricane warning has been issued for the Cape Dorset area. Strong winds, very high sea swells and freezing rain are affecting the community as we speak and are expected to worsen. Residents awoke

this morning to very strong winds and freezing rain, and all but emergency services were shut down. Mr. Timoon Toonoo, the senior administrative officer, informed me that five boats have been lost, and unfortunately, more are likely to be lost before the end of the storm. Fortunately, Mr. Speaker, there has been no loss of life. These boats represent years of investment by the owners and by no means a minor loss in dollars and the ability to hunt and quarry soapstone. The Emergency Response Committee informed residents that at 10:45 a.m. of a state of emergency alert and outpost camps were alerted via high frequency radio also. Mr. Toonoo told me about some ice build up on power lines and is keeping a close eye on the situation. Because of glare ice and high winds on the roads, for that matter on everything, it is impossible to travel by foot in the community. He watched people falling down and being thrown around by the winds while trying to crawl to their destination. It is for this reason that residents are being indoors until further notice.

The SAO wanted me to pass on the hamlet's appreciation for the assistance of Mr. Mike Ferris from the Department of Municipal Affairs in Iqaluit and for their assistance. Also, in my home community, Kimmirut which is 220 miles to the east of Cape Dorset, I am also informed of very high winds and seas the loss of two boats plus five more that are anchored in fear of danger of overturning, as well as, heavy ice build-up on building walls, windows and roads. That community has also been literally shut down and is taking precautions. I would ask that Members of this House join me in wishing these two communities the best as they ride out this very fierce storm. Thank you.

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Arlooktoo. Members' statements. Mr. Enuaraq.

Tommy Enuaraq Baffin Central

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The cost of living is very expensive in the Arctic. The government is promoting healthy lifestyles which involves a balanced diet. For people living in remote communities like Clyde River, the cost of fresh fruits, vegetables and diary products are very high. For people living on income support and low paying jobs, it is very difficult to buy healthy foods for themselves and their families. In communities where there are two stores, you can shop around for better buys. However, in communities where there is just one store, there is no choice of where to buy food. With more than one store to chose from, there might be cheaper prices too. Mr. Speaker, I want the government to know that I am concerned about the high cost of healthy food in remote communities such as those in my region. As a government, we have to practice what we preach. If we say buy healthy food, we should make sure people can afford to buy it. Thank you.

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Enuaraq. Members' statements. Mr. Barnabas.

Levi Barnabas High Arctic

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Good afternoon. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to advise the Members of the House of my support of the Draft Transition Action Plan tabled in this House last Wednesday by the Minister responsible for Division. Mr. Speaker, I, for one, am glad to see the kind of detailed planning finally being done with less than 18 months until division. It is time for action. This plan was prepared as advice to the Interim Commissioner, which I hope he will give some thoughtful consideration to. This was also developed as an action plan for steps that the Government of the Northwest Territories can take to help make Nunavut a reality. Finally, this plan also outlines the funding that will be needed to put basic government structure in place in Nunavut.

Mr. Speaker, like many of my colleagues, I wish that we could be further down the road to implementation and that this plan can continue to follow the actions that are necessary to have a fully functioning Nunavut government in place by April 1, 1999. But if we at least can get the basics in place, then the new MLAs of the Nunavut government will have be the tools and the framework they need to move forward to put the final model in the way that the Inuit people want their government to be.

The people of Nunavut have very high expectations of the benefits that the new government will bring, and I know that the people of Resolute, Arctic Bay and Grise Fiord who I represent are anxious to see the government offices to be built in the communities outside of the capital of Iqaluit. I am very pleased to see, Mr. Speaker, that this plan recognizes that decentralization must take place if the vision for the Nunavut government outlined in Footprints 2 is to become a reality. I want to wish success to all the parties as they begin discussions on the plan and the funding that is needed to turn this into action. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Barnabas. Members' statements. Mr. Rabesca.

James Rabesca North Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday, as everyone knows was Thanksgiving. In my household, we along with most families across the great country celebrated this holiday in the traditional manner, cooking themselves a turkey and all the trimmings. For me it was a nice relaxing day to be with family and friends. I would like to thank my family and friends for making this the special day that it is. I would like to also wish everyone a belated Happy Thanksgiving.

As some of you heard on the radio this morning, Jean Marie River has now become the latest community to have a full- year-round highway access. Myself, along with my colleague, Levi Barnabas, were fortunate to be able to travel with my colleague the Honourable James Antoine to partake in the grand opening of this new access road. The community has been lobbying the government for many years, and Saturday they were able to realize this dream. I would like to thank the community of Jean Marie River for their hospitality, and the Minister for inviting me to witness this very important event. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Rabesca. Members' statements. Mr. Ootes.

Jake Ootes

Jake Ootes Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today to once again address the subject of the need for legislation to cover the profession of architecture in the Northwest Territories. About $150 million is spent in the north every year on the design and construction of buildings. Yet the Government of the Northwest Territories does not have any act in place to legislate the practice of architecture. Legislation would ensure that those individuals undertaking the design of buildings covered under the act are qualified to do so. Right now any person can provide building design services with no assurance to the public that he/she has the experience, training or skills in this highly technical area. A year and a half ago in this House, I asked the Minister of Justice about drafting legislation that would govern the practice of architects in the north. I was told at the time, there were no plans to draft such an act. Based on that response, the Northwest Territories Architectural Society has drafted an act and has circulated it to the allied professionals, the Northwest Territories Construction Association and the Committee of Canadian Architectural Councils for comments. The comments have been received and incorporated into the proposed act.

The Northwest Territories Society is now ready to submit the package to the Department of Public Works and Services, I believe, for final review and forwarding to the Department of Justice. Now it is up to this government to see that this act is introduced into this House for passage. Mr. Wayne Guy, the president of the Northwest Territories Architectural Society, has written to the MLAs to support this position. Northerners depend upon us to take this initiative. It has taken the Northwest Territories Architectural Society more than ten years and three governments to get to this stage of legislative development.

If the territories split prior to the passage of an architects act, both territories will be without legislation to regulate the practice of architecture. This will be detrimental to the north, especially in light of the building boom that is expected in the new territory. Architects are the only profession in the Northwest Territories dealing with health and safety not governed by an act. A new building code is scheduled to be introduced in the year 2001, putting greater responsibility into the hands of architects. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

The Member for Yellowknife Centre is seeking unanimous consent to conclude his statement. Do I have any nays? There are no nays. Mr. Ootes, you have unanimous consent.

Jake Ootes

Jake Ootes Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Without an architects act, the Northwest Territories will not have any architects designated as design professionals qualified to make crucial decisions on the implementation of the national building code. In short, the Northwest Territories Architectural Society has done all it can. Having an act, Mr. Speaker, is a matter of interest to public safety. Every province in this country already has such legislation. The north requires an act. Without one the public is at risk of injury. It is incumbent upon this government to ensure the health and safety of the public is maintained. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Ootes. Members' statements. Mr. Roland.

Member's Statement 477-13(4): Positive Messages
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 1560

Floyd Roland

Floyd Roland Inuvik

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to start off by sending greetings to my wife and children and family back home in Inuvik. Mr. Speaker, I had an opportunity to return home for the weekend and spend Thanksgiving with my children and my family. I am thankful for that, and I recognize many Members from the east were not able to do that and wish they were able to do so, but not saying that they will be able to return home for their weekend coming up. Mr. Speaker, the opportunity I received going home for the weekend was to hold a meeting. At this meeting I was able to speak to a number of people from the community and the concerns raised during the Thanksgiving weekend was not many to be thankful for. There was a lot of concern about what is to come up and what is happening in the communities. Government employees are just hanging onto their jobs. They are looking for other jobs even though we try to send a positive message. That is why we need to, as Members of this Assembly start to send a positive message of what we are going to do, what we can do and not what we cannot do. Mr. Speaker, I will be in the next number of days asking questions to this government on what we are doing on issues that can put people to work and take them off of income support. I am thankful for the opportunity to represent the people of Inuvik in this setting. I would be even more thankful when I can start telling them positive news that there are jobs coming down the road. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Member's Statement 477-13(4): Positive Messages
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 1560

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Roland. Members' statements. Mr. Henry.

Seamus Henry Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to spend a couple of minutes this fine Tuesday afternoon to talk about a non-inspiring topic, that of statistics usage. Mr. Speaker, with the arrival of the computer age, our society has at its fingertips the ability to compile and compose statistics as it so desires. We have statistics for this and statistics for that. For the most part, these titbits of information seem harmless, but placed in the wrong hand can become grave and lethal weapons. Recently, Yellowknife has been in the local headlines as being an undesirable place to live or invest in because of the media's reporting of crime rates. While the increase in perceived crime rate is real or perceived, these articles have left residents, potential residents and investors with the impression that Yellowknife may be a less charming place to reside and invest in.

I have had the opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to study these detailed statistics for myself. It is my observation that the incidents of overall crime in Yellowknife has decreased by approximately 18 percent over last year. Statistics do say that the crime rate in Yellowknife has actually decreased 18 percent. I too, could have viewed these statistics with a sensational eye and arrived at some of the same conclusions. For example, I could have concluded that from the stats that the incidents of reported aggravated assault have raised 100 percent over the previous year. I had one case of reported aggravated sexual assault this year. We had no reported cases last year. But that could have been a gross misuse of information.

Mr. Speaker, quite frankly it would be a misrepresentation of the facts, it should also be noted that these statistics do not support a conclusion that the youths of Yellowknife are responsible for the majority of the reported cases of crime. According to RCMP officials, youth are not to be blamed for the seeming rash of assaults. Most of these charges in this area are 25 year old or older. Mr. Speaker, the statistics show that crime is not on the increase in Yellowknife. Crimes by youth in our city are not on the rise and that Yellowknife is not a haven for crime. These are the facts, Mr. Speaker, and I am happy to report this positive news. Thank you.

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Henry. Members' statements. Mr. Picco.

Edward Picco Iqaluit

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, earlier this summer I had travelled by boat to several sites in Frobisher Bay and then onto Resolution Island. Resolution Island is the site of an abandoned DEW Line site. It was abandoned around 1974 and, Mr. Speaker, was left in a very disturbing manner with PCBs and, yes, even an abandoned army jeep. My estimates put the cleanup at about $40 million. Over the past two summers, the Qikiqtaaluk Corporation has been involved in preliminary work assessing the potential areas of concern and have several people at the site all this summer. All buildings, warehouses, barrows, woods, metal and various other left over equipment are still very obvious at the site. There is major concern with the amount of PCBs that have been detected in the soil and surrounding the buildings. This summer via sealift, the Qikiqtaaluk Corporation brought in heavy equipment necessary to facilitate their appraisal and the cleanup.

Mr. Speaker, last year I raised the issue of the DEW Line cleanups and the deal that was signed between the federal government and the United States' government providing $100 million for the DEW Line and other United States' military cleanups in Canada. The problem, Mr. Speaker, is that from all estimates, $100 million is a shamefully small amount with a caveat. Mr. Speaker, the caveat, as I have said in this House before, is that the $100 million is not an actual cash but an amount that will be used to draw down as a credit by our government in the purchase of military equipment.

Mr. Speaker, this past spring when I questioned this government about the deal, we learned that although we have the majority of the sites involved with the cleanup, we were never informed about it until it was announced in the media. That was not acceptable. Resolution Island is well known as a major denning site for polar bears. There is much concern about the concentration of PCBs and other chemicals at the site and its effect for the past 25 years on wildlife in the area. The concern last year, Mr. Speaker, that I had with the disposal of PCB lead in paint being buried in the north from the abandoned DEW Line buildings and exemption sought by the Department of National Defence to the federal department of the Environment is still a major concern.

Later today, Mr. Speaker, I will be raising some questions with the honourable Minister for Resources, Wildlife, and Economic Development to ask him about the situation. Also Mr. Speaker, the storm affecting Cape Dorset and Lake Harbour is also affecting Iqaluit. I would like to wish all the residents, my wife, children and mother well. Our thoughts are with you. God bless.

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Just to remind the Members, I believe there were three Members so far that have made Members' statements that went off their main topic. I would like to remind you to stick to one item and do not switch from one to another. Members' statements. Mr. Antoine.