This is page numbers 661 - 692 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 yellowknife.

Topics

Item 18: Second Reading Of Bills
Item 18: Second Reading Of Bills

Page 675

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I seek consent to proceed with second reading of Bill 25, an Act to Amend the Workers' Compensation Act. Thank you.

Item 18: Second Reading Of Bills
Item 18: Second Reading Of Bills

Page 676

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

The Member of Thebacha is seeking consent to proceed with the second reading of Bill 25. Do we have any nays? There are no nays. Mr. Miltenberger, you have consent.

Bill 25: An Act To Amend The Workers' Compensation Act
Item 18: Second Reading Of Bills

Page 676

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Nahendeh, that Bill 25, An Act to Amend the Workers' Compensation Act, be read for the second time.

Mr. Speaker, this bill amends the Workers' Compensation Act to protect the co-workers of a worker and the employer of a worker from lawsuits in respect of transportation accidents arising out of and during the course of the worker's employment. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Bill 25: An Act To Amend The Workers' Compensation Act
Item 18: Second Reading Of Bills

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. The motion is in order. To the principle of the bill. Question has been called. All those in favour? All those opposed? Motion is carried. Bill 25 has had second reading and, accordingly, the bill stands referred to a committee. Second reading of bills. Mr. Dent.

Bill 22: Access To Information And Protection Of Privacy Statutes Amendment Act
Item 18: Second Reading Of Bills

Page 676

Charles Dent Yellowknife Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Nunakput, that Bill 22, Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Statutes Amendment Act, be read for the second time.

Mr. Speaker, this bill amends ten statutes to address the paramountcy of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act over other statutes that contain provisions that are inconsistent or in conflict with it as of December 31, 1999. The bill also amends the Archives Act and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act is amended to clarify the permitted public access to records in a registry includes access to original records.

The Archives Act is amended to provide a new definition of government body consistent with the definition of public body and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, to clarify that a notice of the destruction of public records may be general in nature to increase the amount the penalty for an offence under the act, and provide the Commissioner with the regulation-making authority to designate certain bodies as government bodies.

The Consumer Protection Act is amended to ensure that the provisions that limit access and provide for the security of information collected during investigations under the act continue to apply despite the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

The Disease Registries Act is amended to ensure that the provisions for access to, accountability for, and control of records contained in the reportable disease registry continue to apply despite the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

The Education Act is amended to ensure that the following prevail despite the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, provisions dealing with conditions of access to and the process for the release of information from a student record, specific and detailed provisions for the correction of students records, provisions dealing with the requirement that disclosures by a student to a school counsellor be kept strictly confidential from the student's parents, teachers, and others, as well as from the student himself or herself where necessary, and provisions setting out the circumstances when a school counsellor's notes or information contained in the notes may be disclosed and requiring that written notice of any disclosure be given to the student where reasonably possible.

The Environmental Rights Act is amended to repeal the access to information provisions contained in Section 3.

The Insurance Act is amended to ensure that the provisions dealing with the access to information about an insured or about a party to an application under the act continues to apply despite the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

The Labour Standards Act is amended to ensure that the provision dealing with the disclosure of personal information continues to apply despite the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

The Motor Vehicles Act is amended to ensure that the specific access to information and protection and privacy provisions contained in the act continue to apply despite the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and to allow additional officials or organizations to access limited information from records contained in the Motor Vehicles Registry either with or without a fee, allow public or private agencies to access information from records contained in the Motor Vehicle Registry except personal information for research purposes for a fee, and clarify that the Young Offenders Act and the Young Offenders Act of Canada govern the control and release of reports of convictions in respect of young persons.

The Payroll Tax Act, 1993, is amended to ensure that the conditions of disclosure of information collected pursuant to the act continue to apply despite the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

The Securities Act is amended to ensure that the specific circumstances of an investigation conducted under the act and the protection of the information collected as a result continue to apply despite the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

The Tobacco Tax Act is amended to ensure that the conditions of disclosure of information collected pursuant to the act continue to apply despite the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Bill 22: Access To Information And Protection Of Privacy Statutes Amendment Act
Item 18: Second Reading Of Bills

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. The motion is in order. To the principle of the bill. Question has been called. All those in favour? All those opposed? The motion is carried. Bill 22 has had second reading and, accordingly, the bill stands referred to a committee. Second reading of bills, Mr. Dent.

Bill 24: An Act To Amend The Access To Information And Protection Of Privacy Act
Item 18: Second Reading Of Bills

July 28th, 1999

Page 677

Charles Dent Yellowknife Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Nahendeh, that Bill 24, An Act to Amend the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, be read for the second time.

Mr. Speaker, this bill provides for the appointment of a special Information and Privacy Commissioner to act where the Information and Privacy Commissioner has determined that he or she should not act in a particular matter.

Bill 24: An Act To Amend The Access To Information And Protection Of Privacy Act
Item 18: Second Reading Of Bills

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. The motion is in order. To the principle of the bill. Question has been called. All those in favour? All those opposed? Motion is carried. Bill 24 has had second reading and, accordingly, the bill stands referred to the committee. Second reading of bills. Item 19, consideration in committee of the whole of bills and other matters. Committee Report 2-13(7). Tabled Document 31-13(7). Bill 15, Bill 19, Bill 20, and Bill 23, with Mrs. Groenewegen in the chair. By the authority given the Speaker by Motion 23-13(7), committee of the whole may sit beyond adjournment until it is prepared to report.

Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Jane Groenewegen

I call committee of the whole to order. As directed yesterday we are going to be dealing with Committee Report 2-13(7), Report on Bill 15: An Act to Amend the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act. I am going to turn the floor now over to the chairman of the Government Operations Committee for his remarks.

Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Roy Erasmus Yellowknife North

Thank you, Madam Chairperson. As you are aware, yesterday the Standing Committee on Government Operations released its report on Bill 15, An Act to Amend the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act, following public hearings in several communities in the NWT. You all heard what the committee is recommending and you all have a copy of the report so I will not take any time today restating the committee's findings and the rationale for our recommendations.

However, I just wanted to comment briefly on this difficult and emotional issue. The committee recognizes that we have to find a solution -- the legal constraints require us to proceed within the parameters of the September 1st deadline and the Supreme Court decision. We know we need a solution that is not divisive and does not create an atmosphere that pits rural communities against urban communities.

All Members of the Legislature now have a responsibility to act in a manner that brings Northerners together. We must not further divide our peoples and our communities. We ask all Members to approach the debate on our motions with open minds. Nation building is never an easy process but we know that Members are up to the task.

With that, Madam Chairperson, my colleagues and I are prepared to hear general comments on our report. We will attempt to answer any questions Members may have or provide additional clarification if it is required. At the appropriate time we will introduce motions to effect the recommendations that are proposed in the report. As well, some of the Members might be making general comments. Thank you, Madam Chairperson.

Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Jane Groenewegen

Thank you, Mr. Erasmus. Are there any general comments on the report? Mr. Ootes.

Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Jake Ootes Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Madam Chairperson. I would like to say a few short words in response to Bill 15. I would like to speak about the history of where we come from and where we are at. Over the last few years efforts to develop the constitution for the Northwest Territories, the new constitution, have been unsuccessful. We spent two and a half years as part of the constitutional working group. A lot of effort was put into that, but unfortunately that process was halted.

Division recently focused on the issue of representation in the Legislature and specifically on the discrepancy between the rural ridings and urban areas. People in the urban areas such as Yellowknife feel the burgeoning population in their ridings is depriving them of their right to equitable representation in the Legislative Assembly. Many people feel the discrepancy between the size of the urban and rural ridings has become too great and are out of balance. It was therefore felt there must be relative parity or equality of voting power so that each person's vote has similar power. It was further the opinion and feeling that we are legally obligated to ensure everyone's vote is equally represented in this House. The definition of representative government is tied to the electoral system and begins with the right to vote in section 3 in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Section 3 of the Charter states that every citizen of Canada has the right to vote in an election of Members of the House of Commons or of a Legislative Assembly and to be qualified for membership therein.

The Supreme Court of Canada has held that the purpose of the right to vote is effective representation, that every citizen is entitled to be represented in government. Supreme Court has also addressed the conditions of effective representation and Madam Justice McLaughlin considered this question in respect of Saskatchewan constituencies in reference regarding provincial electoral boundaries, Saskatchewan. The first condition was found to be relative parity or equality of voting power and she stated:

"A system which dilutes one citizen's vote unduly as compared with another citizen's vote runs the risk of providing inadequate representation to the citizens whose vote is diluted. The result will be uneven and unfair representation."

Madam Chairperson, this became an issue, as was the issue of effectiveness of the Legislature with only 14 Members. This Legislature subsequently voted to establish an Electoral Boundaries Commission. In the summer and fall of 1998, the boundaries commission conducted a review of electoral ridings through a community consultation process. This commission was composed of two people from rural NWT communities and one Supreme Court justice from Yellowknife. Despite the fact that the commission stated it was within its mandate to recommend an increase in the electoral districts up to a maximum of 25 Members of this House, they resisted this broad approach and decided to recommend minimal changes with the addition of only two seats for Yellowknife. To address the potential changes that may come about in the future because of land claims and self-government and the constitutional process, the boundaries commission recommended that a further boundaries commission be established when the current process, meaning land claims and self-government processes, have resulted in a resolution to the constitutional framework and structure of government for the Northwest Territories. The justification to proceed with the commission's report were many beyond the various legal precedents that are out there. One such issue is the effective functioning of the Assembly. Quite simply, 14 Members are not enough for an effective Legislature run on a Cabinet consensus parliamentary model. The boundaries commission review noted the unfair disparity between urban and rural ridings. The commission therefore recommended the creation of two additional seats for Yellowknife. Unfortunately, this recommendation was defeated in this Legislative Assembly and a subsequent motion to create only one additional seat in Yellowknife was also defeated.

In turn, the decision to keep the NWT down to 14 ridings was then challenged in court by the Friends of Democracy. In early March, Justice Mark de Weerdt declared three of the NWT ridings, Yellowknife South, Yellowknife North, Hay River, to be invalid because the population of these ridings was more than 25 percent higher than the average population of all the ridings. Justice de Weerdt upheld the Friends of Democracy position that the under-representation of certain constituencies was contrary to section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He rejected the position put forth by the Government of the Northwest Territories and supported by the intervenors, that section 3 is subject to section 25 which guarantees aboriginal and treaty rights. Justice de Weerdt noted that 20 percent of the voting population of Yellowknife consists of aboriginal people whose right to affective representation in the Legislative Assembly is effected equally with that of the non-aboriginal population by the existing maldistribution of seats in the Assembly.

Justice de Weerdt also concluded that removing the basis for the existing gross numerical under-representation in the Assembly of citizens of Yellowknife need not in any really significant way alter the existing balance of political power in the Assembly. Justice de Weerdt declared the three ridings of Yellowknife North, Yellowknife South and Hay River invalid but did not tell us how to fix the problem. At first it seemed possible to solve the problem by splitting each of the invalid ridings to create three more seats. But as soon as additional seats are created the average population of each riding changes and other ridings come into dispute. Once we added two seats to Yellowknife and one to Hay River then the other ridings, one in Yellowknife and one in Inuvik, were under-represented by more than 25 percent so more seats had to be added to solve the problem.

Other configurations to our solution here of adding five seats are possible. The five seat option is the only one that maintains the cultural and geographic integrity of the ridings. An alternate proposal for one more seat in Yellowknife to make only a 15 Member House would, for example, involve redrawing electoral boundaries of a number of existing ridings. Members have not seen fit that this is an acceptable alternative proposal.

To summarize, we had the opportunity for a political solution through the boundaries commission. If the Members were concerned about how many seats Yellowknife had, or the urban/rural balance, then they could have passed that particular motion to add two seats to Yellowknife or alternatively, one seat to Yellowknife. Additionally, we could have gone with 15 seats adding only one seat to Yellowknife, but it requires the redistribution of other ridings.

I would like to comment on the committee consultation process. I did not participate in the community consultation for several reasons, with the major one being that in my opinion the Constitutional Working Group conducted community tours and community consultation two times during the two and a half years that the working group was in existence at a great expense to the territory, but they did very extensive consultation, much of which concerned the representation in this House. Reports of that were prepared and were readily available.

Today we have their report before us along with the bill and their recommendations to consider. When the recommendations and motions are made I will make further comments on those particular motions. Thank you, Madam Chairperson.

Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Jane Groenewegen

Thank you, Mr. Ootes. General comments on the report? Mr. Antoine.

Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Jim Antoine Nahendeh

Thank you, Madam Chairperson. To begin, I would like to commend the Members of the Standing Committee on Government Operations for the work they have done in the preparation of the report on Bill 15. While it seems that the content of the report may not reflect the views of all Members of the committee, it is apparent that a great deal of time and effort has gone into developing the final report.

Madam Chairperson, I would like to comment briefly on the process leading to consideration of the individual recommendations of the committee. It is common practice in this House for Cabinet to abstain from voting on recommendations from the standing committee unless those recommendations are expressed in an amendment to a government-sponsored bill. It is our intention to follow this practice as such, and as a result, Cabinet will only vote on the committee's motion to amend Bill 15 to include a sunset clause. However, given the importance of Bill 15 and the work of the committee, it is important to ensure that the view of Cabinet on each of the individual recommendations is clearly expressed for the record. To this end I will be providing comments on behalf of Cabinet on each of the motions as they arise.

As we move through the report, Members will see that we concur in large part with the recommendations. We do, however, have some different perspectives on the process to implement some of the suggestions put forward by the committee. Mahsi, Madam Chairperson.

Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Jane Groenewegen

Thank you, Mr. Antoine. General comments? Mr. Erasmus.