This is page numbers 63 - 90 of the Hansard for the 13th 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 social.

Topics

Members Present

Honourable Jim Antoine, Honourable Goo Arlooktoo, Mr. Barnabas, Honourable Charles Dent, Mr. Erasmus, Mr. Evaloarjuk, Honourable Sam Gargan, Mrs. Groenewegen, Mr. Henry, Honourable Stephen Kakfwi, Mr. Krutko, Mr. Miltenberger, Mr. Morin, Honourable Kelvin Ng, Mr. Ningark, Mr. O'Brien, Mr. Ootes, Mr. Picco, Mr. Rabesca, Honourable Floyd Roland, 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 63

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Evaloarjuk. Good afternoon. Before we proceed with the orders of the day, I would like to extend a special welcome on behalf of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories and recognize, in the Speaker's gallery, the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories, Her Honour Commissioner Helen Maksagak.

--Applause

We are honouring the Commissioner today for her work over the years as the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories. She broke new ground for the position. She is the first woman to become the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories and she is the first Inuk to hold the position. She is also the last Commissioner of the Northwest Territories as we know it now.

I would like all Members to join me in welcoming the Commissioner to the House. I would also like to remind Members that a special reception will be held for the Commissioner in the Great Hall at 3:00 p.m. this afternoon.

Welcome, Commissioner, to the Legislative Assembly.

--Applause

I would also like to recognize in the Speaker's gallery the Deputy Commissioner, Mr. Dan Marion.

--Applause

We have a point of privilege. Mr. Morin.

Point Of Privilege
Item 1: Prayer

Page 63

Don Morin Tu Nedhe

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today on a point of privilege. Mr. Speaker, it is an unquestioned right of every Member of this Assembly to speak out on any issue. This is one of the most important, if not the most important privilege that we have as Members of this Assembly. Indeed, Mr. Speaker, I note that this privilege has been consistently been recognized by Assemblies throughout Canada and the Commonwealth, and has been affirmed and recognized by the courts in terms of a special status granted to statements made by Members in the Legislature. Mr. Speaker, tomorrow this Assembly will be debating a motion that is fundamental to the very structure and future of this Assembly. We will be debating the most important issue which we have faced in the life of the 13th Assembly, namely the confirmation of our Assembly and our relationships with aboriginal governments and aboriginal leaders.

Given the crucial importance of tomorrow's debate, Mr. Speaker, I believe that it is a vital issue and key to the issue of freedom of speech, that the Speaker be permitted, indeed urged, to participate in tomorrow's debate. While I appreciate that it has been a long-standing parliamentary convention that the Speaker not take part in the debate, with the greatest of respect to this convention, I believe that the privilege of freedom of speech should prevail over this convention for the purpose of tomorrow's debate.

I recognize that one of the main reasons that you do not participate in debate, Mr. Speaker, is to ensure the impartiality of the chair. Yet, Mr. Speaker, the Chairperson of committee of the whole, the Deputy Speaker, both routinely participate in debate. No one could argue that you are less impartial when you are in the chair because of the fact that they participate in the debate. We respect their impartiality in the chair and we also respect their words in the House when they speak in debate.

Mr. Speaker, the same is true of you. While you are in the chair, we respect your neutrality and impartiality. This respect is not eroded if you participate in debate. Mr. Speaker, should you sit in the chair tomorrow, you will be denied the freedom to speak on this very important issue and you will be deprived of the opportunity to air your views. You are the most senior Member of this Legislature and your views should be known on this crucial debate tomorrow.

Mr. Speaker, I believe this is unfair and wrong and that you should not be prevented from participating in the debate tomorrow. Mr. Speaker, your inability to speak tomorrow because of adherence to this convention is an affront to your rights and to the right of every Member in this Legislature to hear your views on this very important issue.

Mr. Speaker, I ask that you permit debate on the issue of whether there is a prima facie breach of your privileges and the privileges of every Member in this House. Thank you, with respect, Mr. Speaker.

Point Of Privilege
Item 1: Prayer

Page 63

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. To remind the Member from Tu Nedhe that I am aware of my privilege in this House. The Member did rise on a point of privilege, and to rise on a point of privilege is for a Member that has been denied the privilege in this House. I would like ask whether or not anybody in this House has denied him the privilege to talk or has denied him any

proceedings in the House to make him rise to the point of privilege? Mr. Morin.

Point Of Privilege
Item 1: Prayer

Page 64

Don Morin Tu Nedhe

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. On my point of privilege, what I am basically saying to all Members in this Legislative Assembly is that as the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, you are always neutral and you always have our respect. We always know that you are there to take care of the sitting of this House. But also, when you became Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, we also know you have given up your voice in this House. I believe that tomorrow is a very crucial time for the new Western Territory and you are also a Member of the Western Territory as a MLA from Deh Cho. I believe that my privilege is being infringed on as a Member of the Legislative Assembly because your privilege is being infringed on. You are not given the opportunity to participate in the debate tomorrow. You are not given the opportunity to speak through the debate tomorrow on this one crucial issue because you are sitting in the chair. I believe that as a Member of your riding the people that your represent should have the right to hear what you have to say. I, for one, would gladly acknowledge and hear what you have to say from your seat tomorrow.

This is a unique opportunity for us. In nine days, we will be moving to division. That is April 1, 1999, we will be moving into division. We have the opportunity by having the Deputy Speaker sitting in this House that is a Member of the Nunavut Caucus that could take the chair, allowing the western Member that is sitting in the Speaker's Chair to participate in the debate. I believe that by not allowing you to participate in the debate and vote tomorrow that this would infringe on your rights and ultimately would be infringing on all Members' rights of this Legislative Assembly. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Point Of Privilege
Item 1: Prayer

Page 64

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Mr. Morin, I have in front of me the rule books that apply to all the Members that are in this House, and the privileges that they exercise as elected officials. As the Speaker, I cannot rule on myself, nor interpret what my privileges should be. I have not risen on that point of privilege either. I would appreciate if the Members would rise on their own point of privilege if they feel that they have been denied to speak or been denied to vote or been denied any other processes in this House to the Members. However, I would appreciate if the Members would refrain from what my privileges are when I am sitting in this chair. I do not see any point of privilege here. Orders of the day. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Mr. Antoine.

Minister's Statement 14-13(7): Honouring Commissioner Helen Maksagak
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 64

Jim Antoine Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today to pay tribute to a very special person, the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories, the Honourable Helen Maksagak. Mrs. Maksagak has been our Commissioner since 1995. Before that, she was the Deputy Commissioner starting in 1992.

The role of Commissioner has changed substantially since the beginning of this century. It used to be that the Prime Minister appointed a Commissioner from the civil service in Ottawa. These people carried out the role of Commissioner in addition to their regular jobs and the Commissioner held a great deal of authority. The role of Commissioner started to change about 20 years ago, when the Legislative Assembly began to have elected Members. As the Legislative Assembly took on more responsibilities and powers, the Commissioner became more like the lieutenant-governors in the provinces.

The Commissioner continues to play an important role in our government today, providing the final assent to our legislation and administering the oaths of office, among her other responsibilities. The Commissioner is a representative of the Northwest Territories, both outside the North and when dignitaries and important visitors come here.

When people meet Helen Maksagak, they meet someone who has devoted her life to public service. In addition to raising six children, Mrs. Maksagak has been a foster mother and managed a centre for northern patients travelling south for medical care. Mrs. Maksagak has worked with young offenders and battered woman. She has served on many boards and agencies, including the NWT Round Table on the Environment. She is also an active church member.

Throughout her terms as Deputy Commissioner and Commissioner, Mrs. Maksagak has carried out her duties with dignity and modesty. We are lucky to have such a person to represent us. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Minister's Statement 14-13(7): Honouring Commissioner Helen Maksagak
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 64

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Ministers' statements. Mr. Ng.

Minister's Statement 15-13(7): Social Union Framework Agreement
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 64

Kelvin Ng Kitikmeot

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, social programs like medicare and education are the most significant identifying aspect characterizing Canadian society from coast to coast to coast. On February 4, 1999, the Premier of the Northwest Territories, the Honourable Jim Antoine, signed an important intergovernmental agreement, addressing the future of social programs in this country. This agreement is called, A Framework to Improve The Social Union For Canadians. As Minister responsible for social union negotiations, I wish to provide Members of this Assembly with details of the social union framework.

Mr. Speaker, the social union is an agreement between the federal government and all the provinces and territories, with the exception of the province of Quebec. By signing this document, governments agreed to a new set of rules which set out the roles and responsibilities and the manner in which new Canada-wide social programs are funded and developed. The agreement addresses social policy and funding for new national programs in the areas of health, post-secondary education, labour market training and social services.

Mr. Speaker, the agreement is made up of six key elements. These elements include

- a set of national social policy principles,

- provisions to address the issue of mobility of Canadians, - provisions to develop a greater level of accountability for social programs in jurisdictions across the country,

- guidelines which will provide for a more cooperative development of social policy and programs,

- a set of rules which will guide the use of the federal spending power, and, finally,

- a mechanism to deal with disputes in social policy sectors.

Mr. Speaker, the agreement also recognizes the constitutionality of the rights of aboriginal peoples. The Social Union Agreement is positive for the Northwest Territories in a number of ways.

- First, it gives certainty to residents of the Northwest Territories, in matters that involve new national social programs, northern residents will be treated with the same fairness as all residents of Canada.

- Second, Mr. Speaker, under the terms of the social union, all governments have agreed to share information and best practices and to consult with each other prior to changing existing programming.

- The federal government has also agreed to provide notice and to consult with the territorial government when it intends to introduce any new social transfer.

- Flexibility is built into these arrangements, providing for equitable treatment by taking into account the diverse circumstances of the Northwest Territories.

- Mr. Speaker, the federal government has also agreed to put any disputes arising in social policy and funding arrangements into a dispute avoidance forum, something that currently does not exist. This is a positive step for social policy in Canada.

Mr. Speaker, under the agreement, all governments are committed to ensuring that Canadians, wherever they reside, can access social programs which are of a consistent nature across the country. As well, governments have agreed to monitor and measure social program outcomes, and to publicly account for the results they intend to achieve in their social programs. In this manner, Mr. Speaker, the residents of the NWT will be informed of the results and goals of northern public social programs.

Mr. Speaker, Canadians have become concerned about the state of their social programs. The Social Union Agreement will provide greater certainty to all Canadians that governments are committed to delivering the best social programs in an affordable manner. The Government of the Northwest Territories is committed to delivering high quality programs and to ensuring that social programs for northern residents are affordable and on par with those delivered by all governments in Canada. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Minister's Statement 15-13(7): Social Union Framework Agreement
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 65

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Ministers' statements. Mr. Kakfwi.

Minister's Statement 16-13(7): New Business Start-ups In The Northwest Territories
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 65

Stephen Kakfwi Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the second day in a row. Mr. Speaker, a strong, independent and successful business community provides the backbone of a vital northern economy. Helping to build a strong business community is one of the main objectives of the Government of the Northwest Territories.

I am pleased today to announce that the northern business community is growing at a steady rate. Our trade and investment division reports new business start-ups during the year 1998 reached 293. That is a considerable increase from the 1997 figure of 102. During 1998, each region of the Northwest Territories benefited from new business start-ups. In the Baffin, 42 new businesses were opened; in the Sahtu, 12 new businesses were started; while in Inuvik, 42 new businesses began operating. Other regions saw similar growth in their business communities.

The greatest development was in the start-up of businesses offering trades and services. New businesses in this sector were developed in each region. More than 30 new businesses offering trades and services opened in both the South Slave and Inuvik regions. Other new businesses in arts and crafts, construction and travel and tourism sectors began operations in several regions. The North Slave region saw an increase in business growth in several other sectors including manufacturing, forestry, minerals, oil and gas, as well as transportation, communications and utilities.

Mr. Speaker, each of these new businesses received a personal letter of congratulations and an information package from the Department of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development. The package contains valuable information on economic programs available in the Northwest Territories, an application for the Business Incentive Policy and a complimentary portfolio manufactured by Fort McPherson Tent and Canvas.

Once again, I would like to congratulate everyone who started new businesses in 1998 and offer my encouragement to all those considering or planning to start a new business this year. Their commitment to our northern communities will help us build a strong and vibrant economy. Thank you.

--Applause

Minister's Statement 16-13(7): New Business Start-ups In The Northwest Territories
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 65

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. Mr. Krutko.

Member's Statement 39-13(7): Passing Of Rachel Robert And Annie Vaneltsi
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 65

David Krutko Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I stand today with sad news of the passing of Mrs. Rachael Roberts of Fort McPherson last night at 1:10 a.m. Mrs. Roberts was a

wonderful 94-year-old lady who was born May 13, 1904, in Fort McPherson. She will be greatly missed by her family, her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren. Also, all the people of Fort McPherson who knew Mrs. Roberts will greatly miss her.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to send condolences to the Vaneltsi family, who sadly lost Mrs. Annie Vaneltsi on Saturday, March 13, 1999. Mr. Speaker, I would like to mention at this time that Mrs. Rachael Roberts and Mrs. Annie Vaneltsi were elders of 94 years of age and were good friends throughout their entire lives. They both attended school in Hay River during their younger years. As I mentioned, my condolences go out to the Roberts family and the Vaneltsi family today. Thank you.

Member's Statement 39-13(7): Passing Of Rachel Robert And Annie Vaneltsi
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 66

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Members' statements. Mr. Miltenberger.