This is page numbers 91 - 116 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 aboriginal.

Topics

Members Present

Honourable Jim Antoine, Honourable Goo Arlooktoo, 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, 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 91

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Henry. Good afternoon. Orders of the day. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Mr. Antoine.

Minister's Statement 17-13(7): Western Boundaries Issue
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

March 24th, 1999

Page 91

Jim Antoine Nahendeh

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the Western Territory faces a number of important issues in the coming months. One such issue is the proposed revision of electoral districts in the new NWT. A bill was introduced yesterday on this issue, however, the debate that has occurred over the last few months is not only about electoral boundaries. It is about the way we view our future. I would like to speak about that bigger picture, in essence the future of the new Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, the decision to create two new territories on April 1, 1999, provided an unique opportunity for western residents to shape a new beginning, to set its own agenda. Mr. Speaker, I have begun a dialogue with aboriginal and community leaders about our priorities. This dialogue includes the tremendous social and fiscal challenges facing us. However, we also have a chance to define our own way of governing ourselves in the future. We can share control of our natural resources and the economic opportunity they bring.

Mr. Speaker, I have met with the Honourable Jane Stewart on a number of occasions since I have become Premier to talk about our challenges and opportunities, and will be meeting with her again tomorrow.

Given the unique opportunities that we have, it is unfortunate that we have become sidetracked in a divisive debate over electoral boundaries. This debate has the potential of setting back everything we have been trying to build for the last 30 years, derailing the hard work of trying to frame joint priorities and to assert our independence from DIAND's rule. No one northern group can win at this debate but we can all lose.

How many of you Members wish to be replaced by an appointed council. Going back to Ottawa running the Northwest Territories is unacceptable. At a time that the world is congratulating the people of Nunavut for creating their own territory, we risk tearing ours apart.

Mr. Speaker, we are all familiar with the recent court decision of Mr. Justice de Weerdt. This decision means that the Legislative Assembly must pass legislation to amend the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act. Mr. Justice de Weerdt has set an extremely tight deadline of April 1, 1999, to make the necessary amendments.

Bill 15 has been introduced to comply with the court's decision. There was no other viable option for us. However, Mr. Speaker, the introduction of this bill provides us, as representatives of the people of the NWT, with a number of opportunities.

First, it gives us an opportunity to find a solution to this issue. It is not the intention of this government to try to ram this legislation through even if we could. We know that there is no consensus at this time to resolve this major constitutional issue. Talking the time to build that consensus is important to us. We do not have consensus with our aboriginal leaders or with our community leaders. Indeed, Mr. Speaker, we do not even have consensus within the Western Caucus. In our view, building understanding of the issues and reaching a political resolution is critical if we are to move beyond this issue as a unified new territory.

Mr. Speaker, Western Caucus discussed the issues of an appeal of the merits of the court decision and has found no basis for an appeal. However, I would like to advise Members that the government will be taking the necessary steps to ask the courts to extend the April 1 deadline to facilitate the work we have to do together. We are concerned about the short timeframe set by the court decision and feel that an extension must be granted. Longer timeframes have been allowed in other jurisdictions to address similar issues.

Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated we believe the limited timeframe set out in the court decision is an impediment to finding a western solution to this constitutional issue. We are taking every action necessary to secure the time we need to have a full dialogue. My Cabinet colleagues and I are committed to using this time to work with aboriginal and community leaders to find a solution that can be supported in the west.

Mr. Speaker, we as elected representatives have a responsibility to find a solution to this very difficult divisive issue. I appeal to you, my honourable colleagues, and to all parties in this debate to reach out for a solution that will bring us together. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Minister's Statement 17-13(7): Western Boundaries Issue
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 92

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Ministers' statements. Ms. Thompson.

Minister's Statement 18-13(7): Joint Nwtam/maca Municipal Finance Review
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 92

Manitok Thompson Aivilik

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to provide an update on the Municipal Finance Review. The Department of Municipal and Community Affairs, in partnership with the NWT Association of Municipalities, are doing this joint review. For many years, community governments have raised concerns about the provisions of MACA's funding programs. Community concerns include the fairness and equitablitity of current funding arrangements, a desire for greater flexibility in how funds can be used and the elimination of needless red tape. The Municipal Finance Review presents an opportunity to redesign the financial relationship between the community and territorial governments.

Mr. Speaker, the department and the association have continued to make progress on many key financial issues. In June, 1998, an introduction to the Municipal Finance Review and the Building Key Concepts document were presented to the association members. This initial information was important for the members' early consideration.

Since that time, working group members have expanded on each of the financial issues and prepared a third document entitled, Understanding the Funding Distribution Options. This discussion paper covers four key areas and begins with a description of how things are currently done, explains why changes should be made, and proposes options for further consideration.

Mr. Speaker, the NWT Association of Municipalities and the Nunavut Association of Municipalities reconfirmed support for the joint Municipal Finance Review at their annual general meeting held in Cambridge Bay earlier this month. Two motions were passed that support the progress made to date and call for the continuation of the review. I have also received a letter of support from the Review's Steering Committee recommending that MACA's partnership with the Association of Municipalities continue.

I will be tabling parts 1, 2 and 3 of the Municipal Finance Review this session. Mr. Speaker, I invite all Members to take the time to review these documents and discuss them with their constituents. Any comments, concerns or other feedback from Members would be very much appreciated.

Next steps include part 4, the consultation phase, where we plan to consult with community governments and a number of other stakeholders on the proposed municipal financing options. I am hopeful that after division, both this government and the new Nunavut government will proceed with the consultation phase, which would last until fall. This will ensure that feedback and advice can be consolidated and presented to the territorial governments for consideration.

Mr. Speaker, the Municipal Finance Review can achieve greater authority, flexibility, accountability and financial stability for community governments. It is my hope, Mr. Speaker, that the two new governments will continue with the Municipal Finance Review and build a new financial relationship with community governments. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Minister's Statement 18-13(7): Joint Nwtam/maca Municipal Finance Review
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 92

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Ministers' statements. Mr. Kakfwi.

Minister's Statement 19-13(7): The Energy Conservation Capital Program
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 92

Stephen Kakfwi Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories encourages the efficient use of energy. By reducing energy consumption, we save money and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

The Energy Conservation Capital Program is available to assist territorial and community-funded departments, boards and agencies as well as non-profit organizations in reducing their energy consumption. This program is administered by the Department of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development. It provides funding for projects that reduce the use of water, electricity and heat.

During the past fiscal year, fifteen projects have been approved with resulting savings expected to exceed $140,000 annually. Eight of the projects involve the conversion to more energy-efficient lighting systems. Other projects include mechanical and electrical system upgrades or replacements, a series of energy management training workshops and a workshop on climate change.

These projects are benefiting three different government departments, four communities, one education district, three non-profit organizations and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Mr. Speaker, it is estimated that these projects will reduce annual electrical consumption by more than 600,000 kilowatt hours. This is the equivalent to the average electrical consumption of 60 houses. In addition, the annual production of carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming, will be reduced by more that 400 tonnes.

The Energy Conservation Capital Program was developed in the mid 1980's. Since 1990, a variety of programs have resulted in a savings of $6.70 in utility costs, 11.5 million kilowatt hours of electricity have been saved, and the production of carbon dioxide has been reduced by 8,000 tonnes. This small but highly effective program contributes significantly to saving energy, saving money and reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. It will continue to play an effective role as we work to develop our Greenhouse Gas Strategy. Mahsi cho.

--Applause

Minister's Statement 19-13(7): The Energy Conservation Capital Program
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 92

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Kakfwi. Ministers' statements. Mr. Dent.

Minister's Statement 20-13(7): Education Week In The Nwt
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 92

Charles Dent Yellowknife Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce that the NWT will celebrate Education

Week from March 24 to 31. The purpose of Education Week is to increase the public's understanding of the importance of learning, and highlight the components of a well-rounded education.

Like other aspects of northern society, education has undergone a great deal of change in a relatively short period of time. As we near the new millennium, we are faced with even more changes. April 1st will see the creation of two new territories. This makes it both a challenging and exciting time to be a northerner. In honour of this historical event, I am pleased to announce the theme for Education Week is, Creating Two Territories.

To meet the demands of both new territories, we will continue to co-operate with each other, share ideas and experiences to help shape a new and unique identity that reflects the rich heritage and strength of northern peoples.

We can be proud of how far we have come in advancing quality educational opportunities for the residents of the Northwest Territories. Participation rates are on a par with the rest of Canada, and the number of students graduating is steadily increasing. As people continue to learn throughout life, curricula and programs are continually being assessed and modified to make sure they meet the needs of all northerners and reflect our unique cultural heritage.

In this time of shrinking resources and growing demands, educators in the north are to be congratulated on their accomplishments. The celebration of Education Week is the perfect opportunity for us to recognize the efforts and hard work of all those involved in the provision of quality education to our residents.

Today's graduates must be able to adapt, adjust and communicate effectively to meet the demands of an ever-changing society. Self-reliant, capable and well-informed young people will be our leaders of tomorrow. We can all look forward to the many challenges the creation of our two new territories will bring. Mr. Speaker, together we can develop a truly northern system of education that reflects the rich heritage of the people it serves. Mahsi.

Minister's Statement 20-13(7): Education Week In The Nwt
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 93

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

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

Member's Statement 47-13(7): Tribute To Yellowknife Artist Ann Timmins
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 93

Jake Ootes Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I would like to publicly acknowledge and thank Ann Timmins for her work in designing the banners that hang in the Great Hall of the Legislative Assembly. As every one of us can appreciate, when we engage in a creative process such as writing, drawing, carving or sewing, it is an evolving process that takes effort, dedication and life experience in order to allow others to see our ideas and visions.

Ann has titled the series of banners she made for the Legislative Assembly, The Web of Life. Prior to beginning her work on the banners, Ann's energy and dedication went to helping her daughter fight to survive cancer. It was a very lonely and fearful experience, devoting every waking moment to a young child with a life-threatening disease. But the good news is that her daughter has healed and along the way Ann encountered many individuals within the health care environment who, in spite of the often stressful work conditions, were sensitive and supportive.

Ann began her work on the banners, never quite sure where the creative process would bring her, but it is not surprising that what emerged are a series of scenes conveying a love of life and the connections that we all share; hence the name, The Web of Life, and a reminder that we are all connected by invisible threads to a caring and compassionate human community.

The banners show, and indeed most works of art show, how creativity stretches our horizons and enriches our lives. A plaque is presently being prepared to be mounted on the wall in the Great Hall, providing something of an introduction and acknowledgement to the Web of Life banners and I want to thank Mr. Speaker for that. Once again, many thanks to Ann for her work, and indeed, thanks to the continued efforts of all our northern artists in continuing to share with us their creative visions and ideas. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Member's Statement 47-13(7): Tribute To Yellowknife Artist Ann Timmins
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 93

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Members' statements. Mr. Miltenberger

Member's Statement 48-13(7): Fort Smith Participants In The 1999 Canada Winter Games
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 93

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, a few weeks ago the 1999 Canada Winter Games were held in Newfoundland and a contingent went from the Northwest Territories. Of that contingent there were a number from Fort Smith: Patricia Parker for ringette; Terry Freund for curling; Sarah Daitch for cross country skiing; Joanne Burrill for ringette; William Blyth for hockey; Brandy Thompson for ringette; Geronimo Paulette for hockey; Don True, manager of the biathlon team; Jonathon McDonald for biathlon team; Patti-Kay Hamilton, biathlon coach; Janie Hobart as mission staff.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate all these people, especially the athletes, for the work and effort they put into getting to be chosen to go to the Canada Winter Games, an experience that many of us will never ever have the opportunity to take part in and something I hope that they found very, very worthwhile. They were a credit to the community, to their families and to their parents and of course, to the Northwest Territories. I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations and thanks to them. Thank you.

--Applause

Member's Statement 48-13(7): Fort Smith Participants In The 1999 Canada Winter Games
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 93

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Members' statements. Mr. Rabesca.