This is page numbers 1491 - 1527 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 child.


Members Present

Honourable Jim Antoine, Honourable Goo Arlooktoo, Mr. Barnabas, Honourable Charles Dent, Mr. Enuaraq, Mr. Erasmus, Honourable Sam Gargan, Mrs. Groenewegen, Honourable Stephen Kakfwi, Mr. Krutko, Mr. Miltenberger, Honourable Don Morin, Honourable Kelvin Ng, Mr. Ningark, Mr. O'Brien, 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 1491

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Enuaraq. I would like to welcome back the Member for Mackenzie Delta, Mr. Krutko. Welcome back.


I also would like to make a ruling on the point of privilege raised by the Member for Iqaluit, Mr. Picco.

Point Of Privilege
Item 1: Prayer

Page 1491

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

I would like to provide my ruling on the point of privilege raised by the Member for Iqaluit, Mr. Picco, on October 7, 1997. The Member for Iqaluit raised a point of privilege during question period. The Member indicated, and I will quote Mr. Picco's comments from pages 2424 and 2425 of the unedited Hansard and I quote: "Mr. Speaker, my point of privilege is that as a Member by identifying me as a Chair of a committee he insinuated that my question was not appropriate." Mr. Picco in his point of privilege indicated that he was asking his question as an Ordinary Member, not as Chair of a committee.

To consider whether the Member of Iqaluit has a point of privilege, you have to refer to the series of questions and supplementary questions asked earlier in the question period by Mr. Picco to the Minister responsible for the Liquor Licensing Board, Mr. Todd. Mr. Picco had asked a question and three supplementary questions on the matter of deposit fees on Liquor containers. Mr. Picco's point, as I understood it, centred around Minister Todd's previous comments, and I quote Mr. Todd: "My honourable colleague is the Chair of the Committee", and "I am surprised my colleague would ask that questions given his experience, depth of knowledge and as a Chair and active opponent in this House ...", end of quotes from page 2418 of unedited Hansard.

I considered the relevant authorities contained in Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms, 6th edition, including citation 92, and I quote: "A valid claim of privilege in respect to interference with a Member must relate to the Members' parliamentary duties and not in the work the Member does in relation to that Member's constituency." Also, citation 31 provides guidance as to circumstances that may arise that on the surface may appear a question of privilege but are not, and I quote: "A dispute arising between two Members, as to allegations of facts, does not fulfil the conditions of parliamentary privilege", end of quote. There is always a difficulty for Members and sometimes for the Chair to differentiate between questions of privilege and questions of order. As to this particular point, I did not find that the two comments made by the Minister responsible for the Liquor Commission as to the role of the Member for Iqaluit, as Chair of a Committee, to be a question of privilege. However, the Chair does understand how at the time of the questioning the Member for Iqaluit perceived that the comments of the Minister appeared to respond to him as a committee chair rather than as the Member for Iqaluit. This still does not establish a prima facie case of privilege. As citation 69 clearly states, and I quote: "It is very important ... to indicate that something can be inflammatory, can be disagreeable, can even be offensive, but it may not be a question of privilege unless the comment actually impinges upon the ability of Members of Parliament to do their job properly", end of quote.

While sitting in the Chair and later in reviewing the point of privilege, however, I noted both Members were very close to having the Chair call them to order for other comments they each made. I must once again remind Members that questions and answers should not be argumentative nor provoke debate or contain inferences, impute motives or cast aspersions. I would hope all honourable Members will continue to be guided by these guidelines for asking and answering questions. Thank you.


Item 2, Ministers' statements. Mr. Morin

Don Morin Tu Nedhe

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, as many of you know, the Premier of New Brunswick, the Honourable Frank McKenna, resigned Wednesday after ten years as the leader of that province. When Premier McKenna first took office in 1987, the province of New Brunswick faced some serious financial problems. Under his leadership and direction, however, that picture has changed, and New Brunswick is now one of the bright spots in Canada in terms of economic development. An experienced and popular politician, Premier McKenna is not only dedicated to the people of New Brunswick but to all Canadians because of his commitment to Canadian unity. He is also a strong advocate for literacy, and has received international recognition for his efforts in that area.

Mr. Speaker, over this past year, Premier McKenna served as the Chairman of the Annual Premiers' Conference and hosted the Premiers at our meeting in New Brunswick this August.

More recently, in September, he chaired the Premiers' meeting on National Unity. At both of those meetings, he helped to ensure the Northwest Territories had an equal voice at the national level, and he expressed a great deal of interest in the unique challenges we face in the north.

Mr. Speaker, it has been a pleasure and an honour to work with Premier McKenna. He is, in fact, one of the most honourable men I have ever met. Whether he is working at the provincial or national level and whether it is for a professional or personal cause, Premier McKenna is an excellent role model for political leaders across Canada and, indeed, for all Canadians. I am sure all of the Members join me in recognizing the outstanding service Premier McKenna has provided his province and his country and wish him and his family continued happiness and success. Mahsi cho.


The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Morin. Ministers' statements. Ms. Thompson.

Manitok Thompson Aivilik

Mr. Speaker, this week, the week of October 5th to 11th is recognized throughout North America as Fire Prevention Week. This year's theme is, Know When To Go - React Fast to Fire.

Mr. Speaker, the Northwest Territories continues to lose too many lives each year as a result of fires in the home. It is important for everyone in the Northwest Territories to develop and practice an emergency escape plan for house fires. Once fire strikes, you may only have a few brief moments to safely evacuate the deadly gases given off by fire. I urge all residents to be aware of the danger of fire not only during this week but throughout the year. Check your smoke alarms and ensure that a portable fire extinguisher is readily available in your home.

Mr. Speaker, as I am also sure our fellow Members of the House would like to publicly acknowledge the significant contribution that our local heroes, our fire fighters, have made to the safety of our communities. Without their dedication and commitment to training and public education, we would see more tragic losses of property and lives in the Northwest Territories. I urge all citizens to participate in fire prevention activities planned for their communities and to contact your local fire department or the Office of the Fire Marshal if you need any assistance to make your home safe from fire. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Ms. Thompson. Ministers' statements. Mr. Dent.

Charles Dent

Charles Dent Yellowknife Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Good afternoon. Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring the Members of this Assembly up to date on the activities of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada -- also known as CMEC. Education, Culture and Employment's participation in CMEC allows us to discuss K-12 and post-secondary education matters with the provinces and the Yukon, so we can all learn from each other. The Council recently held a meeting in Saskatoon which dealt with a number of issues of interest for us here in the Northwest Territories.

Public concern about how to improve accountability in the education system is growing. Later this year, CMEC will publish a national report on education, which will discuss the state of education across the country. Improving student achievement in key subjects is another area of interest. For example, CMEC is developing a framework for science outcomes which will establish a common understanding of key standards for science. It will be used by provinces and territories to guide curriculum design. This framework will be unveiled on the 15th of this month. Activities in the area of post-secondary education include a country-wide initiative to discuss post-secondary expectations with respect to program quality, relevance, responsiveness and research. CMEC is also calling on the federal government to pay its share of the provinces' and territories' cost of reducing, avoiding or making manageable the debt load of people who received student financial assistance.

CMEC is extensively involved in projects which will help us build a better understanding of the status of education across Canada. All Ministers are focused on matters of standards, transitions for youth from education to work, compatibility of educational achievement at the national and international levels, as well as continuing to improve schools, colleges and universities. In many ways, the issues in other jurisdictions match those in the Northwest Territories. I plan to ensure that departmental activities benefit directly from the knowledge and experiences of other provinces and territories - and that we contribute the benefit of our own experience. Over the next few months, I will continue to advise this Assembly of CMEC activities as we work with other Members to improve education and training across this country. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Ministers' statements. Ms Thompson.

Minister's Statement 115-13(4): Community Elections
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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Manitok Thompson Aivilik

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, each year hundreds of women and men put their names forward to run for a leadership role on a local municipal council or education authority. This year, municipal elections will take place on October 20th in cities and towns, on December 8th in hamlets and settlements and throughout the year in charter communities. It is expected that nearly 1,000 people will be campaigning for local office. Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge every individual who expresses an interest in serving their friends, neighbours and colleagues at the community level by entering this election process. These are challenging times for local governments and for the people who sit at counsel and meeting tables throughout the north. Federal, provincial and territorial governments have recognized a greater responsibility and control at the local level and this will provide more relevant programs for community residents.

In the Northwest Territories for example, the responsibility of local authorities is expanding through initiatives such as community wellness and community empowerment. My greatest respect goes to the dedication and hard work of the elected leadership. I look forward to working with and continuing to work with our community leaders of today and following the upcoming elections.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to offer a special congratulations to all the women who have chosen to run for any of the community leadership roles, to serve as campaign or election volunteers or to cast a ballot in the various elections. I strongly believe that the voices of women must be heard at all levels of government and especially at the community level. Women offer an important voice in society and in the north, and the upcoming municipal elections offer a great opportunity for women to get involved.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize everyone who will take the time to cast a ballot on election day. In the past, voter turnout has been on average 50 percent of eligible electors. While this is a good percentage compared to the Canadian average, I would like to see that number much closer to a 100 percent. I encourage all northerners to exercise their right to vote during the upcoming municipal elections. It is not only your responsibility as a member of your community and as a resident of the Northwest Territories, it is also your chance to have a voice in the decisions that effect you and your family. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 115-13(4): Community Elections
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Ms. Thompson. Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. Mr. Roland.

Floyd Roland

Floyd Roland Inuvik

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would like before I start, to send greetings to my wife and children back home in Inuvik. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to bring forward a concern that has bothered me for quite some time. The concern is that of our employees. They have for two years of this government's life gone along with our direction to balance the budget. In many cases they were the ones who implemented our decisions. In other cases they were told their positions would no longer be required. Those that remained were told that they are expected to carry on and in many cases with an increase in their workload.

Achieving a balanced budget is something we set out to do and it looks today that we have achieved our goal. This however, has not been without a cost. In fact, it has had a significant impact even to those who could least afford it.

Mr. Speaker, we said that we would change the way government does business. Some would say all we have done is increase the waiting lines. This is not only the case for those who go to the government for service or assistance. This is also the case for those who work for this government.

Over the summer I received calls from past employees who had not received their record of employment for a number of months. It is bad enough to lose your job, but then to have to wait, in some cases months for important papers, can be devastating. We have heard in this House that this government would deal with its employees in a compassionate manner.

Mr. Speaker, I refer to Hansard, where Mr. Todd replies to a question, and he says," What I will attempt to do is to try and do in a caring and compassionate way as I can and I will take my honourable colleague's suggestions under consideration." Mr. Speaker, I think we have to look for that example of compassion. Thank you.

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

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

James Rabesca North Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I would like to take you back to the period when Gordon Wray was Minister for Transportation. Realizing the need to have an upgraded highway system, the department started to improve the southern road system. Work began in the southern section of Alberta/Northwest Territories border, north in the 1980's. Then during session in 1990, Mr. Wray introduced the Transportation Strategy for the Northwest Territories. The subsequent Ministers, Mr. Todd and Mr. Antoine used this document for the basic framework to implement our current strategy for transportation needs in the territories.

In this document it showed the need to upgrade our highway system comparable to southern Canada. In 1990, construction started in both Fort Providence and Edzo to rebuild Highway 3 with the idea that within five years both ends would meet.

This year I was hoping to announce in the House that after seven years of construction, costing millions of dollars, Highway 3 is now paved between the Rae Access Road junction and junction to Highway 1. Meaning, once a person leaves Yellowknife and reached the Rae Access Road junction, he will be driving on pavement to one's destination in the south.

Unfortunately, I cannot say this as there is still approximately nine kilometres to be completed. I have been told that this work should have been completed this year, but due to the high rain fall and other unexpected weather conditions, there will not be the solid black ribbon line going through to the south until next spring.

Later during the question period, I will be asking the honourable Minister a question regarding this situation. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

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

David Krutko

David Krutko Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. At this time I would like to thank the many people who have shared their condolences, especially in regard to the support that we received with the passing of my mom. I would also like to thank my colleagues in the House, and yourself, Mr. Speaker. A big thank you. Thank you.

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

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

Edward Picco Iqaluit

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today to give a report on a recent trip I took with you to Washington, DC. The trip was organized by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and its focus was on the U.S. education system. Discussions were on the similarities and differences between the two systems. Our meetings ranged from Ambassador Chretien at the Canadian Embassy, to officials of the federal government, the National Governor's Association and the U.S. Education Associations.

We also had an opportunity to visit the State of Maryland Legislature. We had discussions and lunch with State Senator, John C. Astle, and delegate, Howard Rawlings. The most striking similarity that I saw between our two countries is the attitude that the education system is failing some, mostly the poor and minorities, and that more results have to come from the money being spent. This has resulted in the Clinton Administration proposing voluntary national standardized tests. One for grade four in English and another in grade eight in mathematics. A major problem is the federal government only kicks in six percent of the budget for K-12 education and the states will foot most of the bills and the school boards which develop the curriculum do not like the idea of interference. At this time, only a few of the states have opted into this program.

Another similarity is the failure of the so called "holistic" form of education. This is where children are kept from their peer group. They are not failed, " x's" or red markers are not used on tests. Mr. Speaker, this debate has been raised many times in the north and the pedagogy surrounding it needs to be looked at by the Government of the Northwest Territories, as several of the provinces are now doing.

The States are also having the same debate over phonetics and whole language. Adherents on both sides insist their way is right and can only see a classroom that fully embraces their teaching methods. An official from the National Education Association pointed out the obvious in the situation. Since phonics are essential in teaching, reading and whole language is essential for writing and structure, both methods should be used in teaching in the classroom. This emotional debate over education, on both sides of the border, it appears that many miss the obvious solutions while fighting for their ideas.

The Americans introduced the whole language approach first in the New England states and then in California. Later on it came across the border and drifted into Canada, and now is widely used nationally and here in the north. Now, as I explained, many states are revisiting this approach and to say that it is a controversial issue is surely an understatement.

Other delegates from Canada also had many of the same concerns with the holistic approach to education. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to continue my statement.

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

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

Edward Picco Iqaluit

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. A disturbing difference between the U.S. and Canada involves teachers. From my understanding, there are no state or national unions for teachers. Each school board pays its teachers the wages it can afford and negotiate. This means that poor, urban centres with a low tax base, offer lower wages. The richer, suburban areas end up getting the better quality teachers, it would seem. The effect is reflected in Maryland where testing in Baltimore's inner-city schools showed 10 to 13 percent of students reached the minimum standard of knowledge for the grade level they were in. Meanwhile, in the richer areas the results were easily three to four times higher.

These sort of results have also resulted in the state going in and taking over the schools with poor test results and trying to establish better learning. This has been done with mixed results. Since each school board set its own curriculum, each school may teach different parts of courses. This includes core courses. This has resulted in many students, even "A" students not being properly prepared for post-secondary education.

Some colleges and universities have set up summer orientation courses to further educate freshman and bring them up to speed in an effort to prepare them for university courses. There is even talk of freshman using their first year of post-secondary education to upgrade their education enough to be able to handle a full university workload. Sounds familiar, Mr. Speaker.

Lastly, there was talk about the charter school system in the States. Charter schools are a relatively new type of public school, that is released from many of the regulations normally applied to public schools. In return there is an increased accountability to ensure students achieve better results. Half the states have passed legislation authorizing the establishment of charter schools. Each charter school is treated like an independent school agency. They get their funding directly from the state. Many areas are looking at charter schools because they feel they will have more say in its operations and standards.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to end my report there . The information on these and other subjects will soon be available in the legislature's library. I found my time in Washington to be very informative and to be able to speak with people who are attempting to deal with many of the same concerns and problems we are, is both eye-opening and helpful. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

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

Tommy Enuaraq Baffin Central

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. A year ago the community of Broughton Island decided they would like to have the renewable resource officer position transferred under community empowerment. The Department of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development were sent a letter of interest in October 1996. The community was informed that there may be a problem with enforcement issues if the renewable resource officer position went to the community under community empowerment. The community did not see

this as being a problem because there are community constables who must enforce the law and do so.

To make transfer to community empowerment easier, enforcement was not to be included in the draft agreement. The community has continued to make requests for a draft agreement and the last three years have actual costs at Broughton Island position. The Department of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development were contacted by a letter and e-mail over five times last year. Broughton Island has received nothing in writing from the regional office since January 29, 1997. The department has been contacted in writing three times since January, asking for a response. The community is frustrated with the lack of attention that this issue is receiving. Thank you.

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

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

Vince Steen

Vince Steen Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, recently in committee reviews of the departmental mid-year activities the Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs, the Honourable Ms. Thompson, informed the infrastructure committee members that the department was proceeding with what they identified as the Keewatin Pilot Project.

We were advised this project was an extension to the community empowerment initiative and was generally known as regional empowerment. Mr. Speaker, over the past year, this Assembly went through the procedures of approving amended version of the document known as Footprints 2. Mr. Speaker, to my recollection, nowhere in the document was there a reference to a regional empowerment pilot project, which in fact would be a form of regional type government.

Mr. Speaker, it is a well known fact that the Nunavut Implementation Commission was given the mandate to design and implement a form of government for Nunavut.

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories as always maintained that they are only advisors to the Nunavut Implementation Commission as to what the final structure of Nunavut government would look like. This government on a number of occasions have clearly stated that we, as a government, do not have the mandate to create or design a government structure for Nunavut. This government has confirmed that the Nunavut Implementation Commission and the Interim Commissioner have this mandate.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, at the appropriate time today, I will be asking the Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs, the Honourable Ms. Thompson, why her department feels it is necessary to design and proceed with plans for a regional type of government for the Keewatin Region at this time? And which is generally known as regional empowerment? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.