Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce that later today I will be tabling the agreement reached in Calgary on September 14, 1997 by Canada's Premiers and the Yukon Territorial Leader, except Premier Bouchard of Quebec. This proposal provides a framework and guidelines to consult Canadians on national unity. It is also intended to get the views of Canadians on how to make Canada stronger. The framework for consultation, is, in itself, an example of how the provinces and territories can work together on matters of importance to Canadians and the future of Canada.
A key priority of this government's Agenda for Change is our intention to be heard at the national level. We know that national financial and political development can and will have a real impact on the interests of the Northwest Territories. We know that decisions made in Ottawa and by the provincial Premiers on social policy, education and health issues have a direct impact on the programs and services enjoyed by northern residents. We have taken a more coordinated and focused approach in our relationships with Canada and the provinces to build partnerships and ensure that the views of the Northwest Territories are taken into consideration. With this in mind, I participated in the Calgary meeting with three key priorities.
Mr. Speaker, our first priority was to ensure the continued inclusion and full participation of the Government of the Northwest Territories in an ongoing national unity process. Secondly, we wanted to secure a meaningful role for aboriginal leaders in an ongoing national unity process and thirdly, we wanted to ensure that any themes or principles developed in Calgary or any subsequent national unity process reflected the concepts of democracy, people, children and building for the future.
I am happy to say, Mr. Speaker, that we were successful in reflecting these priorities in the framework for consultation. The framework, Mr. Speaker, proposes that each province and territory will conduct open, grassroots public consultations on how to strengthen the Canadian federation, The framework for discussion on Canadian unity and the guidelines for the process of public consultation which make up this framework were agreed to by all Premiers and the Yukon Territorial Leader to provide a common element to seek the views of Canadians. All provincial and territorial leaders agreed to initiate consultations this fall and report their progress prior to the January, 1998, Team Canada trade mission with the Prime Minister. Each jurisdiction will determine the scope of its own consultations and the most appropriate mechanisms.
Mr. Speaker, over the next couple of months, Northwest Territories' Ministers and MLAs will be consulting with their constituents about concerns and aspirations of northern Canadians on how to make Canada stronger. In addition to constituency meetings and questionnaires, we have the benefit of modern technology with toll free number, electronic mail or web site communication to reach even the most remote areas of this vast territory. On behalf of Cabinet, the Honourable Stephen Kakfwi, Minister of National Constitutional Affairs and the Honourable Jim Antoine, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs will take the lead with me in guiding this public consultation process. This process must involve partnership with the Members of this Assembly and all Northwest Territories' residents. I will be proposing a mechanism today, Mr. Speaker, for the consideration of Members as a vehicle for this partnership.
Mr. Speaker, in addition to public consultations, the Prime Minister committed to host a First Ministers' Meeting to discuss social policy renewal, health care and youth unemployment. The issues that are at the centre of "people" concerns. This meeting is scheduled for early December. I intend to participate with my federal, provincial and territorial colleagues at the meeting to bring forward the views of northerners on these and other national/territorial issues raised during the Northwest Territories' public consultation process.
Also, as part of the framework for discussion on Canadian Unity, all Premiers agreed to meet with aboriginal leaders in Winnipeg on November 18, 1997 to hear their views on strengthening Canada and the role of aboriginal peoples within Canada. In addition to actively participating in the Winnipeg meeting, I fully intend to provide Northwest Territories' aboriginal residents with the opportunity to express their views on the future of Canada and their place in Confederation during the Northwest Territories' public consultation process. I have asked the Honourable Jim Antoine, to take the lead in ensuring the views of aboriginal residents are heard.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, it is essential that we provide a mechanism, a partnership, to ensure that activities of the government and Legislative Assembly in relation to the public consultations and future national unity activities are coordinated and transparent information and updates on activities need to be provided to Cabinet, Members of the Legislative Assembly and Northwest Territories' residents. I propose that a special committee be established to provide that partnership role in coordinating this important activity. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.