Thank you, Madam Chairperson. Just before we leave this department, I would like to remind the Minister that he is here to represent all the people of the Northwest Territories and also the people in the department that work for the Department of Transportation. They have to keep in mind that there are more highways out there than the ones around Yellowknife and that you do take into account that whenever there is an accident on the Dempster Highway or any highway in the territories, this government has to take some responsibility for the condition of the roads, especially the gravel road systems we have in the Northwest Territories. In regard to the condition of the Dempster Highway, I have stated it for the record. In case you missed it, I will state it again.
There have been three accidents that I know of personally in the last two years where people were killed. There have been tourists killed on our highway system. When you are on a honeymoon and you go to a new country such as Canada, I am talking about a few Japanese tourists who were killed just outside Fort McPherson. I, for one, drove that highway a day before they had that accident and I told the person who was in charge of that highway system that day when I got to Fort McPherson, which was the day before this accident, someone is going to get killed on that section of the highway because it was not marked. The gravel was loose, and it was in an "s" turn coming down the hill from the Dempster Highway which comes out of the Richardson Mountains to the Peel River. At that time, I basically made it clear to the individual who was in charge of highways in the Inuvik Region that someone was going to get killed. The next day, a tourist couple who just got married and were on their honeymoon was killed at the exact spot where I mentioned someone was going to get killed. Yet, I do not find this department taking it seriously and I would hope to see that they sue the pants off this department and maybe then we will get some attention from the Department of Transportation to take these concerns seriously.
When I state that I am aware of accidents, just in the last couple of weeks a young gentleman by the name of Don Stewart was killed on the Dempster Highway. Yes, alcohol-related, but the portion of the highway where it happened it also a very hazardous spot in which there is a major dip at Frog Creek, which if you are not aware of it and you hit it at any speed then you are going to have an accident. Madam Chairperson, we have to take the safety factor seriously when that component is being dealt with. I, for one, have driven a lot of highways in my day and I have worked on a lot of highways in my day. The majority of that time was on the Dempster Highway. I do not know how much farther to state this, but when I make reference to conditions on the roads and whatnot, there was a Member of the Legislature from the Yukon killed on the Dempster Highway a number of years ago in which this government was sued over $1 million. One million, Madam Chairperson, for the record, yet everybody swept it under the rug and are waiting for the next one to happen.
I know for a fact there is presently a lawsuit filed against Tetlit'Zheh Construction because of an accident that happened on the Dempster Highway and I thought the department might have known about that, yet, I asked the question and the deputy minister did not seem to be aware of it. He is the deputy minister who is responsible for highways in the Northwest Territories. I strongly feel that this government has to take more responsibility in improving not just the highways that have pavement on them, but take into account there are highways which are in worse shape than the paved highways or the chip-sealed portions of the highways in the Western Territory and take into account there is a larger territory than the Fort Smith region in the Northwest Territories. With that, Madam Chairperson, I believe it is on the record, so be it.