This is page numbers 1191 - 1211 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 federal.

Members Present

Honourable Jim Antoine, Honourable Goo Arlooktoo, Mr. Barnabas, Honourable Charles Dent, Mr. Enuaraq, Mr. Erasmus, Mr. Evaloarjuk, Mrs. Groenewegen, Mr. Henry, Mr. Krutko, Mr. Miltenberger, 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 constant recognition of the dignity and aspirations of those whom we serve. Amen.

Item 1: Prayer
Item 1: Prayer

Page 1191

The Deputy Speaker John Ningark

Thank you, Madam Groenewegen. Good afternoon. On behalf of the Honourable Sam Gargan, the Speaker, I would like to welcome to the Legislative Assembly today three of the four surviving carvers who worked on the original mace, Lukta Qiatsuk, Kovianaktuliak Parr and Ashevak Ezekiel from Cape Dorset. Unfortunately, Oshawetuk Ipeelie is not with us today. I would also like to recognize and welcome Madelaine Canadien and Mary Agnes Matto-Bonnetrouge of Fort Providence who made the quillwork for the replica mace.

As you know the mace represents the legislative authority of the House and without it we would not be able to pass any laws. The original mace was made in 1955 by nine carvers from Cape Dorset. As many of you may know Mr. Gargan travelled to Cape Dorset last month with the Honourable Goo Arlooktoo to commemorate the excellent work that carvers from Cape Dorset did on the original mace. While there, Mr. Gargan discovered that the four surviving carvers had never seen the completed mace so he invited them to Yellowknife to see the fruits of their labour. As you can see, the original mace is on display here today in the Assembly for the first time in many years. It is indeed a work of art and reflects the talent that exists in many of our northern communities.

Equally important is the work of those northerners involved with the replica mace, the one that we use in the Legislative Assembly today. Madelaine Canadien and Mary Agnes Matto-Bonnetrouge were both part of that project.

Mr. Gargan has recommended that this mace should be retired in 1999 when division occurs and that a new mace be made for Nunavut and one for the western territory. If new maces are made for each territory I encourage all northerners to get involved in making maces that truly reflect their culture, people and region. Thank you.

-- Applause

Welcome to the Assembly. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Mr. Antoine.

Jim Antoine Nahendeh

Good afternoon, Mr. Speaker and my colleagues. Mr. Speaker, the Constitutional Working Group publicly released the document, Partners in a New Beginning in October, 1996. The document includes ideas on how a western territory could govern itself following division in 1999. The Constitutional Working Group is a partnership including representatives from the Aboriginal Summit, and representatives of the Western Caucus of the NWT Legislative Assembly. The western MLA's on the working group represent all western NWT residents, both aboriginal and non-aboriginal. I co-chair the Constitutional Working Group with Mr. George Kurszewski of the Aboriginal Summit.

Since the release of the Partners document the Constitutional Working Group has consulted with the general public and federal government on the proposed models for a new government structure for the western NWT after division. At the most recent meeting of the working group, which was held on May 14th and 15th, Members reviewed and discussed the results of the initial round of formal public consultations. In direct response to comments and suggestions raised by the public, the Constitutional Working Group has made a number of decisions on the timing and process for constitutional change, including how the Constitutional Working Group operates.

Successfully carrying out many of these decisions will depend on securing long term federal and territorial financial support. The Constitutional Working Group will be seeking a meeting with the new Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs as soon as possible after the federal election to secure political and financial support from the federal government. More specifically, the Constitutional Working Group has agreed that:

- The October 1997 plebiscite on a western constitutional package will be rescheduled to a later date;

- April 1, 1999 should be set as a goal, not a deadline for sending a ratified constitutional package to the federal government. Residents must not be rushed into making decisions on the constitutional package before they are ready;

- A second formal round of consultations will take place in late fall and early winter of 1997 and 1998;

- Future consultations will involve both formal meetings and less formal workshops with individuals and organizations in the communities and regions;

- Constitutional Working Group members will play a more prominent role in the second round of consultations. Members will participate in more community meetings and assist the public in understanding the rationale behind the revised package;

- Information provided prior to the second round of consultations will include more options on a new western government;

- The options will continue to take into account concerns which have been expressed by the federal government;

- A constitutional conference will be planned for the spring of 1998 to allow western leaders and community representatives to review a revised Partners' document; and

- Future meetings of the Constitutional Working Group will be open to the public.

Decisions on the timing of a plebiscite to put the final constitutional package to the people will be made at a later date, in consultation with residents of the western NWT, the Aboriginal Summit and the federal government.

Mr. Speaker, the Constitutional Working Group has heard and responded to the various suggestions brought forward by residents during the initial round of public consultation. These suggestions relate to how the Constitutional Working Group operates and the constitutional proposals prepared for public consideration.

The working group meeting on May 14th and 15th also addressed the companion self-government agreement which is a key element of the western constitutional package. The Aboriginal Summit will continue to play the lead role in developing the companion agreement while the Constitutional Working Group remains responsible for developing a revised Northwest Territories Act which is the other key element of the package.

On an administrative note, I wish to announce that Mr. Fred Koe, who has served as the executive director of the working group, has asked to step down to focus his attention on his duties as the chair of the Workers' Compensation Board. Understanding the importance of maintaining a dedicated focus on the constitutional initiative, the working group is pleased to announce that Mr. Steve Iveson will take over the Constitutional Working Group's executive director position. Mr. Iveson is on loan to the working group from the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and brings tremendous experience and energy to the position. I wish to express the appreciation of the Constitutional Working Group to our former executive director, Mr. Fred Koe.

We have listened to the people and commit to involving interested residents of the Western Territory in the shaping of their new government after division. We must work together to shape a government which addresses the needs of all stakeholders in the North. The Constitutional Working Group is working to achieve this objective. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

-- Applause

The Deputy Speaker John Ningark

Thank you, Mr. Antoine. Ministers' statements. The honourable Mr. Dent.

Charles Dent

Charles Dent Yellowknife Frame Lake

(Translation) Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Translation ends) This government is committed to having a representative public service in Nunavut. To help achieve that goal, last year the Government of the Northwest Territories, the Government of Canada and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated announced the Nunavut Unified Human Resources Development Strategy. This strategy will help ensure that Inuit get jobs in both the public and private sector which will result from the creation of Nunavut. Through the strategy, the federal government is investing almost $40 million in incremental training programs over four years. Last year, as a result, the territorial government received an additional $5.1 million for training in Nunavut.

Education, Culture and Employment is currently negotiating an agreement for an additional $11 million, which will bring the department's total allocation for education and training in the three Nunavut regions to $108 million dollars during this fiscal year.

In the medium term, Nunavut Arctic College is receiving extra funding to provide more programs to help people prepare for positions that already exist, or will soon exist, in Nunavut. Seventeen courses involving more than 150 Inuit have been started. Although not all of these courses have yet concluded, we know that the success of the first year has been impressive. In 1997/98, another 30 diploma and certificate courses are being offered at a variety of locations. Some of the key programs offered are Management Studies, Corrections and Community Justice, Human Resource Training, and Community Lands Administration.

The strategy's long term component consists of an investment in youth and schools so that today's young people become tomorrow's public servants, wildlife officers, doctors, entrepreneurs and teachers. This long term component is essential in reaching and maintaining a representative workforce in Nunavut.

In providing more opportunities for education and training through the Nunavut Unified Human Resources Development Strategy, the territorial government is fulfilling its commitment to developing a representative public service in Nunavut. Mr. Speaker, it is also responding to the recommendations of the Nunavut Implementation Commission in Footprints in the New Snow and Footprints 2. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

-- Applause

The Deputy Speaker John Ningark

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

Michael Miltenberger

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, as my colleague from Nahendeh indicated the Constitutional Working Group met recently in Yellowknife on May 14th and 15th to consider the results of its first round of consultations and to plan for the future. Aboriginal Summit representatives included George Kurszewski, Bob Simpson, Bill Erasmus and James Wah-Shee. The Western Caucus was represented by myself and Roy Erasmus. Jim Antoine and Charles Dent participated on behalf of western Ministers. Officials representing the Status of Women, the NWT Native Women's Association and the federal government were also in attendance. The Northwest Territories Association of Municipalities was unable to attend the workshop. Minister Antoine has provided you with a summary of the decisions made. In addition, the workshop provided representatives from the summit and the Western Caucus with an opportunity to confirm the following:

- That the constitutional working group will remain as a forum to manage the western constitutional process;

- That the constitutional working group continues to be a partnership between the aboriginal summit and the Western Caucus of this Assembly;

- That the western constitutional package will include a new NWT Act and a companion self-government agreement;

- That the Constitutional Working Group will continue to be the lead on development of a new act while the Aboriginal Summit will be responsible for the companion self-government agreement;

- That concerns raised in the first round of public consultations must be taken into account if the final package is to be acceptable to western NWT residents; and

- That federal concerns and interests must be taken into account if the final package is to receive federal approval.

Mr. Speaker, the Constitutional Working Group's Aboriginal Summit, Western Caucus partnership is key to reaching acceptable and workable constitutional arrangements for the west following division. We also look forward to continuing federal participation during the remainder of the process along with input from ex officio members representing women's organizations and the Association of Municipalities.

Moreover, the Constitutional Working Group is hopeful that opening its meetings to the public, western Arctic residents, organizations and media will gain a better understanding of our process, including the development of constitutional options for consideration by the public.

The Western Caucus remains firmly committed to the Constitutional Working Group process. Members will take a more active role in their communities and other constituencies to help reach a consensus which will eventually be submitted for ratification in the future plebiscite.

The Deputy Speaker John Ningark

Mr. Miltenberger, your time is up.

Michael Miltenberger

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Mr. Speaker, I request unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

The Deputy Speaker John Ningark

Thank you. The Member for Thebacha is seeking unanimous consent to conclude his statement. Are there any nays? None. Proceed, Mr. Miltenberger.

Michael Miltenberger

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, it is anticipated that a vote on a name for the new western territory will occur at the same time as the constitutional vote. In closing, I wish to express my appreciation to the Constitutional Working Group's former executive director, Mr. Fred Koe. Mr. Koe worked hard with limited resources on a part time basis to help advance the process to where we are today. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

-- Applause

The Deputy Speaker John Ningark

Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. The honourable Member for Yellowknife Centre, Mr. Ootes.

Jake Ootes

Jake Ootes Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today and speak on behalf of Members of the Ordinary Members' Caucus. This session of the Legislative Assembly is a short one. We will be here for less than two weeks. During this time we will deal with a number of pieces of legislation and other critical items, like the Northern Employment Strategy announced yesterday by the Minister of Finance.

Members have been aware of the dates for this session for over three months. Most of us have made adjustments in order to be here. We expect the same of Ministers. We recognize that there are some circumstances beyond the Ministers' control which prevent them from being in the House. For example, the Ordinary Members know the Premier did not have the ability to change the timing of the western Premiers meeting currently underway. However, we want to express a concern about planning. On our first day in this House on Tuesday only four Ministers were present. This severely restricted the areas where Ordinary Members can ask questions and hope to get answers.

Mr. Speaker, we know that each Minister was absent for what they saw as very legitimate reasons. We do not wish to pass judgement on those reasons. However, the high number of Ministers absent has disrupted the business of the first two days of an eight or nine day session. In the future, there is a need for Cabinet as a whole to review Ministers' other commitments. The Premier and Cabinet may need to priorize the activities of Ministers to ensure there is a strong Cabinet presence in the House at all times.

Mr. Speaker, Ordinary Members have many questions from their constituents. We need to ask these questions in the House so people can hear the answers. We expect that Cabinet also wants to make sure people get good information about what the government is doing. Mr. Speaker, in order to allow both Cabinet and Ordinary Members to do their jobs effectively, we would request that the Premier and his Ministers make every effort to be in the House for Members' statements and question period every day. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

-- Applause

The Deputy Speaker John Ningark

Thank you, Mr. Ootes. Member for High Arctic, Mr. Barnabas.

Levi Barnabas High Arctic

(Translation) Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a Member's statement in regard to an individual who was a Member of the Legislative Assembly. (Translation ends) I would like to express my sincere condolences and prayers to the family of Mr. Harold Kalluk and also to my predecessor Mr. Ludy Pudluk on the passing of their mother, Lydia Kalluk, who had the maiden name of Inoogok. She passed away on May 24, 1997. She was born near Pond Inlet on August 1, 1923 and she arrived in Resolute Bay in 1958-59 with her husband Harold Kulluk with her eight children. Three more children were born in Resolute Bay after she arrived there. Altogether there are ten children who are adults today.

Mrs. Kalluk had a tremendous impact and respect in the community of Resolute, this being a midwife between 1958 and 1960 or until nurses arrived in Resolute. She has been a very influential and important lady to the community of Resolute. Mrs. Lydia Kalluk will be missed and remembered for her important role as a midwife, as a great mother and a great grandmother. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Deputy Speaker John Ningark

Thank you, Mr. Barnabas. On behalf of the Legislative Assembly, I would like to pass our condolences to the families. Member's statements, Mr. Kakfwi.

Stephen Kakfwi

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is the time of year when many of our constituents go out on the land to harvest those resources that they believe are theirs to harvest and manage. Having said that, it has always been said that this is a very peaceful and serene land, especially for naive tourists and visitors from different parts of the world. But beneath the surface issues are always emerging. In recent decades a struggle has become evident. Having said that, I wish to read to you a letter that if I had been responsible for wildlife 44 years ago, I would have had the benefit of receiving first hand. This is a report to the Indian agent by Warden O. F. Eliason of Fort Good Hope in March, 1953. Mr. Eliason, reporting to the Indian agent in Ottawa, I believe, wrote at that time:

"Paul Voudrank, a local character wrote to the Prime Minister by registered mail complaining of having to trap beaver as opposed to being able to shoot them, complaining of persecution of the natives by the whites and requesting that the warden be removed and the game laws abolished as the natives could look after their country. Mr. Voudrank received an answer from head of Indian Affairs telling him to trap beaver, et cetera. I was shown this letter by the writer and would like to state that the writer summed up the situation very well with regards to the whys and hows of game branch policies and the necessity of trapping beaver. However, Mr. Voudrank did not receive a letter from whom he called "the Head Game Warden Man." Mr. Voudrank is now busy telling the rest of the population that he sure makes him ashamed. Not be outdone by Mr. Voudrank..." Mr. Speaker, I would like unanimous consent to conclude please.

The Deputy Speaker John Ningark

Thank you, Mr. Kakfwi. The honourable Member is seeking unanimous consent to conclude his statement. Are there any nays? Proceed, Mr. Kakfwi.

Stephen Kakfwi

Thank you. This is a great letter. "Not to be outdone by Mr. Voudrank, the chief and a few others wrote to the Bishop of France, asking him to ensure a shooting season on beaver. The Bishop referred the matter to Senator Blais who contacted Indian Affairs and finally word was received by the Chief from Senator Blais which pointed out once more why they should trap their beaver. It is felt that the idea is slowly dawning on the native that he must obey the game ordinance and, at present many are preparing to go forth and trap.

Trapper James Jackson who has the status of a white called at my office in a very angry and violent mood. It seems as if Mr. Jackson is not in agreement with the registration of Manitou Island. He also appears anxious to become the game warden in Fort Good Hope. This man is well known to me as an agitator and is constantly spieling off to the natives with anti-registration, anti-game, anti-anything government propaganda. Last summer, after a heated discussion with two sub Chiefs on registration in which I was told to "watch out or somebody may get shot," the natives left my office and stated that they were going to see Mr. Jackson to see what they should do now. It is felt that Jackson causes the department a great deal of trouble with his behind the back tactics. On his recent visit to my office, Mr. Jackson's language became so abusive that only the fact that I am an employee of the Canadian government prevented a large Jackson-shaped hole from appearing in the wall. I mention these things to give the heads of this department an idea of some of the problems a warden can come up against in attempting to educate the native and carry out normal duties."

Thank you.

-- Laughter

-- Applause

The Deputy Speaker John Ningark

Thank you, Mr. Kakfwi. The honourable Member for Hay River, Madam Groenewegen.

Jane Groenewegen

Jane Groenewegen Hay River

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, during the last session of the Assembly, there were many questions about the changes to public library services. The Department of Education, Culture and Employment has circulated a paper which includes a number of proposals for restructuring library services. The key elements are community ownership of 19 existing libraries, re-allocation of the budget to all 59 communities based on population, expansion of book depository and rotation service, integration of school and public libraries, and a focus on electronic access.

Mr. Speaker, this is an issue that most people will not notice until changes are made and the service levels dropped. However, the paper is causing concern among the front line people involved with community public libraries. The paper puts at risk the existing libraries which have evolved to meet the needs of their patrons. The proposed funding distribution, while administratively easy, does not recognize the value of the existing services. It makes the assumption that people use libraries primarily as a source of information or non-fiction and, therefore, there is an increased emphasis on electronic media. In reality, there is a far greater demand for fiction among all library users.

There is also an assumption of literacy levels required to access electronic media. Making effective use of the Internet requires a relatively strong level of literacy and a good understanding of English. In proposing the integration of public and school libraries, there is no recognition of the different situations in various communities. While this may be the answer for some, it leaves no answers for other options to be considered, which may work better in other places. Before this type of decision is made, many things need to be looked at.

Public and school library users have very different needs. Many school libraries do not have staff yet and there needs to be some control over public library material. Adults may not feel comfortable looking for adult literacy material in a public school and opening public schools could present security challenges. Mr. Speaker, I believe there are many questions which need to be asked about proposed library restructuring and there are other options which should be considered. Later today, I will be asking the Minister some questions about this restructuring. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

-- Applause

The Deputy Speaker John Ningark

Thank you, Madam Groenewegen. Members' statements. The honourable Member for Iqaluit, Mr. Picco.

Edward Picco Iqaluit

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the recent announcement that the federal government has negotiated a deal with the United States for about $100 million for DEW line clean ups is unacceptable. The federal government is abdicating its responsibility and in Nunavut, NTI has reached an impasse with the Department of National Defence on the plan to clean up these sites.

Mr. Speaker, the $100 million announced is a convoluted sum. It is my understanding as reported in the media, it has a caveat that the money is to be spent or used as a credit for military equipment. That is unacceptable. The Department of National Defence still has not decided what to do with PCB-laden materials from the north's abandoned DEW line sites. The majority of which are located in Nunavut.

I have articulated these concerns in this House before because the Department of National Defence requested an exception to federal environment rules on the disposal and burying of PCB materials, like paint, by burying them in the ground.

If painted materials such as wood are burned improperly, there is the potential that the PCBs may be leached into the environment. In my riding of Iqaluit, we have seen the cost and time it took to clean up the upper base site. Also, in the constituency of Iqaluit, the Resolution Island site is, from all reports one of the most contaminated in the north, is still being investigated. Where will the money come from to clean up and restore these sites? Surely the Nunavut or new western government will not be expected to cover the cost which could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Mr. Speaker, I do not believe that this government has been as forceful as we should have been on this issue. I also think that during the current federal election, it could have been raised to bring attention to it. I also understand that Environment Canada has officially now turned down the request by the Department of National Defence to bury PCB laden material at the sites, ruling that the material, Mr. Speaker, is too toxic. We have to get aggressive on the whole issue of environmental clean ups of these military sites. The abdication, Mr. Speaker, by the federal government on the recent agreement with the United States is unacceptable and it must be challenged. Mr. Speaker, later today I will ask our Minister for the Environment questions on these matters. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


The Deputy Speaker John Ningark

Thank you, Mr. Picco. The honourable Member for Amittuq, Mr. Evaloarjuk.