This is page numbers 431 - 469 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 chairman.

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Supplementary To Question 155-13(7): Additional Funding For Education Programs
Question 155-13(7): Additional Funding For Education Programs
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 436

The Deputy Speaker David Krutko

The question was, where do you get all this excess money that you have for different programs?

--Laughter

Further Return To Question 155-13(7): Additional Funding For Education Programs
Question 155-13(7): Additional Funding For Education Programs
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 436

Jim Antoine Nahendeh

I do not think that was the original question, Mr. Speaker.

--Laughter

--Applause I guess there is, each department has their own budget to work with, and like I said, 70 percent of our total budget goes to the social envelope. I think when I started it was 68 percent, and over the years it has been climbing. It looks like the honourable Member is asking us to take a bigger chunk of the total budget and put it into the social envelope. On the other hand, we have to balance that with how are we going to create economic development. Once you create economic development, that creates employment and jobs and develops the economy. It also puts food on the table, so we have to balance it and try and have a good balance in how we develop the new Western Territories and I guess the economic strategy, I am saying, is what you address.

The honourable Member, Mr. Kakfwi, has taken a lead role in there is that we, in the west, have just been divided 29 days today and we have a whole new territory here which is smaller, but we have to focus our attention on what we have here in the west. I think all the departments, where we had twice the amount of responsibility before, are refocusing and readdressing what we have in the west. On the economic strategy side, what we are looking at is what we have here in the west. What are the resources that are here? The oil and gas, mining industry, forestry, tourism. We have infrastructure already in the west, and we have human resources here in the west, too. We have to take a real good look at what we have in the west with all the resources, the budget of the government, and so forth, and see how to take the best advantage of what we have here in the west. This is what we are looking at, the bigger picture, so I have to defend the economic strategy by saying I think it is a good strategy, and I think that the Minister has been addressing people in the public about it. There is interest of pursuing it and I agree that there are a lot of other things that we have to deal with and this is how we are approaching the west, by working with an economic strategy that will look at what we have today so that we do it right from the beginning and create a Western Territory that will be a good place to live in the future here for ourselves and for our kids. Thank you.

Further Return To Question 155-13(7): Additional Funding For Education Programs
Question 155-13(7): Additional Funding For Education Programs
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 437

The Deputy Speaker David Krutko

Oral questions. Mr. Ootes.

Question 156-13(7): Generation Of Additional Revenues
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 437

Jake Ootes Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This is certainly an interesting debate and question period on this subject. I think it is interesting to hear the Premier speak on this. There is no doubt that certainly we do face problems. I think what Mrs. Groenewegen was saying was, we have done a lot of strategies and spent a lot of money on them, including the economic strategy. The question becomes, where do we really get the money to do the extra programming that needs to be done? Where do we get the funds for the education program, on which the forum produced a good report with good recommendations, but we just cannot implement some of them. I guess it is true that we are a smaller territory, that gives us an opportunity to focus and to focus on our needs, on the social needs and how do we generate an economy here that is productive for us.

The question comes into it, for example, the Northern Accord, we are discussing the Northern Accord quite a bit, but how do we benefit from the Northern Accord as a territory? I realize there are benefits to the aboriginal groups in this, there may also be benefits to us as a territorial government but then the federal government claws back much of that if we get it from our transfer payments, so the benefit is not 100 percent if we get the Northern Accord. Then there is the whole question of, how do we keep and attract more people to stay in the territories and to live in the territories? Is that done through the employee tax? A lot of people are against increasing the employee tax. On the other hand, if you increase it, maybe more people will stay here. Those are the kind of questions. Perhaps I could ask the Premier to address those kinds of concerns that I have, how do we generate more money in the territory?

Question 156-13(7): Generation Of Additional Revenues
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 437

The Deputy Speaker David Krutko

Mr. Premier.

Return To Question 156-13(7): Generation Of Additional Revenues
Question 156-13(7): Generation Of Additional Revenues
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 437

Jim Antoine Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, in the Agenda for New North we see it as one of the key elements that is linked with the other elements of getting governance right, the fiscal policy, sharing control of our resources. Sharing control of our resources is the same thing as the Northern Accord or devolution, northern control of northern resources. The principle behind it is that we in the Northwest Territories, we are not a province yet, we are still a territory. The federal government through DIAND still controls our natural resources up here. Down the line eventually, the logical conclusion of where we are headed would be to gain control of our resources.

This has been done in the past by previous governments and previous Ministers, however, we have never let it go, we are still talking about it. What we are doing today here is putting this whole issue up front again and trying to address it. I do not think we will be able to conclude anything substantial in the life of this government if we have a fall election. However, what we are doing is beginning to talk about it and I think we have talked to a lot of different groups. We have to approach this whole area in a partnership arrangement with the aboriginal governments, as well as the federal government. We have already made overtures to the different groups. It is not going to be an easy task and it is a very sensitive type of approach we are taking. However, the reality is that we have to address this eventually, down the line. It is not going to happen right away.

If we do gain control of our own resources, then we would be able to have control over our own resources, we would be able to say how things get developed in our area and who develops it. We have to do it in partnership with the aboriginal people and it is going to take some time. I foresee that once this is achieved the north will be able to control its own resources. We know that with the oil and gas exploration that is going on, say in my constituency down in Liard, this is just the tip of the iceberg for gas development. In the Norman Wells area they are exploring there for oil again and then, with the diamond exploration going on north of here, this is all just the tip of the iceberg in major development of our natural resources. It is going to happen eventually and we have to start talking about it. It is not going to happen right away. I agree with the honourable Member that, yes, we have a fiscal arrangement with the federal government and then once we start gaining control of our own resources they would be clawing back from their grant. That is natural.

I guess the ultimate goal is that we in the north, once we gain control of resources, however we do it, or however long it is going to take, we will be able to not depend on the federal government anymore. We will be able to pay our own way. That is the ultimate goal. It is a long-range goal that we are talking about here in gaining control of our resources. Thank you.

Return To Question 156-13(7): Generation Of Additional Revenues
Question 156-13(7): Generation Of Additional Revenues
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 438

The Deputy Speaker David Krutko

Oral questions. Supplementary, Mr. Ootes.

Supplementary To Question 156-13(7): Generation Of Additional Revenues
Question 156-13(7): Generation Of Additional Revenues
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 438

Jake Ootes Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. There is no doubt that the Northwest Territories is a huge storehouse of resources. Oil, gas, mining, minerals, diamonds, gold and nickel, copper, you name it and we probably have it. It is a matter of getting it to market, in most cases finding it, developing it and getting it to market. There is no question about that. It is important to work with the aboriginal groups to reach a Northern Accord and I certainly would be supportive of that. The area of concern with that, as I mentioned earlier, is how do we achieve a Northern Accord, and there is a complication with that, of course, but how do we get approval from the federal government to acknowledge that they have to lower the amount that they claw back from us when we get a Northern Accord? In other words, right now I understand it is $.75 in every dollar that they claw back. It has to come down to something like $.30 or $.25 for us to make it worthwhile. That is the challenge for us to achieve. We need to get control of the resources, but secondly we have to alter the formula financing. Could the Minister tell us if my assumption in that is correct?

Supplementary To Question 156-13(7): Generation Of Additional Revenues
Question 156-13(7): Generation Of Additional Revenues
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 438

The Deputy Speaker David Krutko

Mr. Premier.

Further Return To Question 156-13(7): Generation Of Additional Revenues
Question 156-13(7): Generation Of Additional Revenues
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 438

Jim Antoine Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the Finance Minister, in his budget speech, had made references to the concern of the honourable Member. However, in replying to his questions in regard to how do we achieve a Northern Accord and how do we lower the amount of the clawback that the federal government does whenever we generate revenue; the clawback is, every time we generate a dollar, they take $.80 off the revenue, the grant. The net increase we have is $.20 on the dollar so it is not very good incentive for us to try to generate dollars.

In mid-March along with the previous Finance Minister, Mr. John Todd, I had an opportunity to meet with Ms. Jane Stewart, the Minister of DIAND, as well as the federal Finance Minister, Paul Martin. We explained the agenda, we will call it the Western Agenda at that time, since we were still together with Nunavut. The way I approached it is that I said that we are not here to ask for any more money, but I think we have found a way where eventually it will cost the federal government less money to take care of us in the north. That is the approach that I took in explaining the agenda to the federal Minister, so he likes the principle that we ran by him in regard to the fiscal arrangement of seeing if we could retain more of the dollar if we generate a new dollar, more than $.20. We did not say the number, but we wanted to make sure there is a possibility of making an arrangement with the federal government of retaining more of the dollar if we generate a new dollar. At the same time, we mentioned that maybe one way of approaching this is to look at this whole area of sharing control of our resources again. We did not get into exact details of how we are going to do it, but we ran the principle by him and he is supportive of it.

This is where the arrangement will have to be made, is that we have to make an arrangement with the northern aboriginal nations, different governments up here, along with the territorial government. This is what we are working at. We are trying to develop a rapport and some arrangement and this is where we are at. We need a partnership arrangement with them before we go to the federal government. The federal government, I think, right now is receptive to our agenda. There is precedence taken in the Yukon where the oil and gas devolution is pretty well concluded in the devolution from the federal to the Yukon government. It is done in the north in another territory. It kind of sets a precedent, so I think we are working closer towards some arrangement than we were a few months ago. Thank you.

Further Return To Question 156-13(7): Generation Of Additional Revenues
Question 156-13(7): Generation Of Additional Revenues
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 438

The Deputy Speaker David Krutko

Oral questions. Supplementary, Mr. Ootes.

Supplementary To Question 156-13(7): Generation Of Additional Revenues
Question 156-13(7): Generation Of Additional Revenues
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 438

Jake Ootes Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. That, of course, raises the whole question of how quickly can we reach a Northern Accord? The land claims situation has been underway for many years and this is all predicated upon the fact that we need to reach a Northern Accord, but what kind of time frame are we dealing with here? If we are dealing with another ten or 20 years then we may as well stop talking about this. We have to some closure to this in order for us to generate some funds, both for ourselves and for the aboriginal groups. Thank you.

Supplementary To Question 156-13(7): Generation Of Additional Revenues
Question 156-13(7): Generation Of Additional Revenues
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 438

The Deputy Speaker David Krutko

Mr. Premier.

Further Return To Question 156-13(7): Generation Of Additional Revenues
Question 156-13(7): Generation Of Additional Revenues
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 438

Jim Antoine Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, it is very difficult to say how quickly we will be able to reach a Northern Accord. We have to be very careful here about not stepping on any toes up here. We want to make sure that everybody is comfortable and knows what it is that we are trying to do. We are saying that it has to be a partnership arrangement with the aboriginal governments, first, and then proceed from there. We are doing a lot of meetings and making presentations to the different aboriginal governments here in the north and there is a positive indication that we should proceed. There are no real substantial agreements and arrangements made to date. However, I would say that there is a positive indication that we should move along with the agenda in the direction that we have been taking for the last couple of months. I would say that we may have substantial progress before the next budget, let us put it that way. There may be something within the next year or so.

As you all know, we are hoping that there will be an election in the fall and whoever gets into our positions here will have to deal with the same issue anyway, so what we are doing today with the agenda, is saying that these are the five elements we are dealing with. These are the things that we are dealing with, with the government, and that is what the people in the north should know, that we are dealing with and this is how we are intending to proceed with it. I think we are going along, it is not a very easy road, however, like I said earlier there is an indication that there are positive responses to the approach we have been taking today. Thank you.

Further Return To Question 156-13(7): Generation Of Additional Revenues
Question 156-13(7): Generation Of Additional Revenues
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 439

The Deputy Speaker David Krutko

Oral questions. Mr. Henry.