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

Question 243-13(7): Consultation On Correctional Facility Change
Item 6: Oral Questions

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

The Minister of Justice, Mr. Kakfwi.

Return To Question 243-13(7): Consultation On Correctional Facility Change
Question 243-13(7): Consultation On Correctional Facility Change
Item 6: Oral Questions

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Stephen Kakfwi Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I think it is important to recognize that the decision to locate the young offenders facility was made last year under the previous Premier. The decision was made by Cabinet and FMB to locate a young offenders facility here in Yellowknife, this brand new facility. That decision was made here at that time. I think it is important for the public to know that the decision to do major renovations to the adult facility was also made in the previous Premier's tenure in the amount of $30 million, no different than what we are talking about today. So we should be clear about that.

As a new Minister of Justice since April, I have taken the time to revisit the decision by the Cabinet made last year to locate the young offenders facility here. I visited some of the facilities down south. I have revisited all the arguments made as to why it should be made here. And I have decided that it is not in the interest of the inmates or the staff of this government or the public for me to ask Cabinet to revisit that issue.

On the adult facility, the adult facility is located here. Again, last year, Cabinet decided to spent $30 million renovating this particular facility. It was such in scope that you could say we were trying to build a brand new car piece by piece, and it got to the point where after the decision was made, budgeting this project at $30 million, we contracted a firm to do more detailed costing of what it would cost this government to build such a facility, and it actually came in. This was done after the decision was made. Over the course of the winter, the consultants came back and said, in fact, it would cost you $35 million to do major renovations such as you are proposing. It is, in fact, cheaper to build a brand new facility over four years at $30 million. Thank you.

Return To Question 243-13(7): Consultation On Correctional Facility Change
Question 243-13(7): Consultation On Correctional Facility Change
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 668

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Oral questions. Supplementary, Mr. Morin.

Supplementary To Question 243-13(7): Consultation On Correctional Facility Change
Question 243-13(7): Consultation On Correctional Facility Change
Item 6: Oral Questions

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Don Morin Tu Nedhe

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Minister, in his long-winded speech passing the buck and taking no responsibility for decisions he makes, it is completely amazing to watch. But the question was, and I will try to keep it simple so he can understand it, the question is very clear, when did you meet with the social programs committee to consult with the major change of a renovation to a new capital project? Thank you.

Supplementary To Question 243-13(7): Consultation On Correctional Facility Change
Question 243-13(7): Consultation On Correctional Facility Change
Item 6: Oral Questions

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Mr. Kakfwi.

Further Return To Question 243-13(7): Consultation On Correctional Facility Change
Question 243-13(7): Consultation On Correctional Facility Change
Item 6: Oral Questions

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Stephen Kakfwi Sahtu

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the catcall is preventing me from finishing my response, but it does get rather winded because there need to be corrections all the time to some of the rhetoric from the other side. Let me make the point. The idea to locate a new facility here in Yellowknife was made last year. It was made last year. The idea to piece by piece replace the existing adult facility, the Yellowknife Correctional Facility, was also made last year. As a new Minister, I felt my job was to revisit those decisions to make sure that they were made in the best interest not only of the MLAs and their little constituencies but also the government, the inmates, many of whom are our own people, coming from our own communities, who have a right, I believe, to have adequate facilities provided to them during their incarceration, who have and we have an obligation to provide adequate services and support to them.

All things considered, these decisions made during Mr. Morin's time as a Premier, I think are good decisions. As to why he is saying they are bad decisions is beyond me. There is no need in making the point. There is really no need for me to consult on decisions that have been made over a year ago to these committees, but still we are building these facilities within the financial commitments made by this Legislature, this $30 million spread out over seven years, plus over $6 million committed through a PY financing scenario to build a young offenders facility. We can do both within that scope.

Further Return To Question 243-13(7): Consultation On Correctional Facility Change
Question 243-13(7): Consultation On Correctional Facility Change
Item 6: Oral Questions

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Mr. Morin, your point of order.

Further Return To Question 243-13(7): Consultation On Correctional Facility Change
Question 243-13(7): Consultation On Correctional Facility Change
Item 6: Oral Questions

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Don Morin Tu Nedhe

I thank you, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday yourself, Mr. Speaker, laid the rules down in this Legislative Assembly very clear. Ministers are to answer their questions directly. We, when we ask our questions, are supposed to use our questions in the proper way. We have done that. I have listened to this Minister grandstand and pass the buck for the last five to ten minutes. I would like him to answer the question and follow your ruling to be direct and answer the question. Thank you.

Further Return To Question 243-13(7): Consultation On Correctional Facility Change
Question 243-13(7): Consultation On Correctional Facility Change
Item 6: Oral Questions

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Mr. Morin, I did not make any rulings except to remind the Members regarding their questions and their preambles and also requesting the Ministers to be as brief in their response as possible. Also, if there is a clarification that is required, then we have to allow the Ministers to make those clarifications and also allow the Members, if they wish, to clarify, then allow that to happen too. But there is no point of order. The time is still on. Mr. Kakfwi, to the question.

Further Return To Question 243-13(7): Consultation On Correctional Facility Change
Question 243-13(7): Consultation On Correctional Facility Change
Item 6: Oral Questions

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Stephen Kakfwi Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We have indicated, through the statement from the Premier and myself that as soon as possible after the June 4th decision, to reprofile the major renovation to a replacement project that we had undertaken to advise the Standing Committee on Government Operations of this, but the decision, as I said, was made in June, 1998, and September, 1998, to locate the male young offenders facility here in Yellowknife and the adult male correctional facility that is presently located here was never intended to be moved, there has never been any discussion or consideration to move it. We simply decided to renovate it. An interesting point is, why

it never occurred to the previous Ministers or the Cabinet of last year, why the price tag of $30 million, who did not consider the time just to build a whole new project, but that is afterthought. Thank you.

Further Return To Question 243-13(7): Consultation On Correctional Facility Change
Question 243-13(7): Consultation On Correctional Facility Change
Item 6: Oral Questions

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Oral questions. Supplementary, Mr. Morin.

Supplementary To Question 243-13(7): Consultation On Correctional Facility Change
Question 243-13(7): Consultation On Correctional Facility Change
Item 6: Oral Questions

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Don Morin Tu Nedhe

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As one of the MLAs that represent one of those little constituencies, as the Minister said, I do have a concern about the Minister's approach saying not necessary to consult because we are doing the same as previous decisions of previous governments. Well, he should stand on his own two feet and take possession of the decisions he makes, but he lacks that political will or backbone. As far as the consultation process goes, the Minister said in this House previously, he made the decision that this building could not be built in any other community. He made that decision, so maybe now he can tell this House how he came about to make that decision. What process did the Minister use to consult with other regional centres or other communities of what they would put forward to this government, of what they would offer to this government in order to get this facility in their communities that would help them out economically? Thank you.

Supplementary To Question 243-13(7): Consultation On Correctional Facility Change
Question 243-13(7): Consultation On Correctional Facility Change
Item 6: Oral Questions

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Mr. Kakfwi

Further Return To Question 243-13(7): Consultation On Correctional Facility Change
Question 243-13(7): Consultation On Correctional Facility Change
Item 6: Oral Questions

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Stephen Kakfwi Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, as I have said, the Cabinet, in June, 1998, and September, 1998, I suppose, on the Financial Management Board Meeting, decided and made certain decisions and made certain financial commitments which were approved in the Main Estimates this year. It is not my prerogative to unilaterally revisit every decision made by Cabinet under my portfolio, but I have the prerogative to review decisions periodically to ensure they are current, that they take into account the circumstances in which we find ourselves sometimes six months or a year after a decision and, and I have done that. That is what resulted in my going back to Cabinet and FMB asking to reprofile this project from a renovations project to a replacement project. I must say that I did take time to look at the young offenders facility and asked why did the previous Minister of Justice and the Cabinet at that time, what basis on which did they make a decision to locate the young offenders facility in Yellowknife. I had extensive discussions and debate with my officials about it.

I have decided, in the end, that there are not sufficient arguments to be made that would enable me to ask Cabinet to reconsider this decision. It was never in my prerogative to ask Cabinet to consider relocating the male adult facility from Yellowknife to another one, but the Member asked and so I can say that there are many compelling arguments that can be made which will be supported by many of his constituents and mine as well. All of these people who are incarcerated require support programs and services, medical services, services which are available here in Yellowknife and most of which are not available in other places. The courts are located here. This is the central transportation hub for most of our communities. Inmates want that it be easy for friends, families, and relatives to visit them. They want to ensure that there is good program space and facilities for the young offenders and for adult male offenders as well.

I know they are getting impatient but, Mr. Speaker, the question was asked, what compelling reasons that we have to ensure that the facilities are located in Yellowknife. It was not I who raised the debate here. We could have a more extensive and relaxed conversation if it comes up in the standing committee. I can shorten by simply saying I have reviewed the arguments and the reasons, and in the interests of the inmates, the young offenders, the benefits that would flow to them that would not flow to them if this was located elsewhere and also the time constraints that we have by order of the fire marshal, our agreement to provide services to Nunavut that we proceed on the basis that FMB and Cabinet have approved recently. Thank you.

Further Return To Question 243-13(7): Consultation On Correctional Facility Change
Question 243-13(7): Consultation On Correctional Facility Change
Item 6: Oral Questions

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. I again would like to remind the Members and the Ministers, a question must not seek information about matters which are secret such as decisions or proceedings of Cabinet but to remind Cabinet that when they respond on the proceedings of Cabinet which could be considered secret, then they have opened themselves to Cabinet process in which they must not respond to. I know the Members cannot seek it, but if Cabinet opens that opportunity, then they must respond to it. Oral questions. Final supplementary, Mr. Morin.