This is page numbers 73 - 92 of the Hansard for the 13th Assembly, 8th 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 assembly.

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Supplementary To Question 32-13(8): Program Delivery In Small Communities
Question 32-13(8): Program Delivery In Small Communities
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 82

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Mr. Dent.

Further Return To Question 32-13(8): Program Delivery In Small Communities
Question 32-13(8): Program Delivery In Small Communities
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 82

Charles Dent Yellowknife Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am advised by the Minister of Public Works and Services that the chief mechanism to achieve that is through holdbacks on contract payments. There will have to be an examination before the final payment of just how much compliance there has been with the contract. If it has not been delivered substantially as promised, then the government could hold back a portion of the funds as a penalty.

Further Return To Question 32-13(8): Program Delivery In Small Communities
Question 32-13(8): Program Delivery In Small Communities
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 82

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Oral questions. Mr. Erasmus.

Question 33-13(8): Cost Overruns On GNWT Projects
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 82

Roy Erasmus Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions are for the Minister of Public Works and Services in relation to the RFP process and cost controls involved in those. Mr. Speaker, for some time now people have been talking about the fact that accrued projects are approved for a certain amount of money and then they come back and all of a sudden it is almost double the cost or a substantial amount of money more is needed. I

understand that all of these projects or many of them anyways, are done through architectural firms, those types of firms that draw up or produce professional documents, blueprints and things like that. What I would like to know is, do these contracts that go through Public Works and Services, do they have anything in there that would ensure the people who had made the original blueprints and those documents that people go by, do they have to cough up some money or pay a penalty or something if there are cost overruns because of poor designs? Thank you.

Question 33-13(8): Cost Overruns On GNWT Projects
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 83

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

The Minister of Public Works and Services, Mr. Steen.

Return To Question 33-13(8): Cost Overruns On GNWT Projects
Question 33-13(8): Cost Overruns On GNWT Projects
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 83

Vince Steen Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I am going to have to take the question as notice.

Return To Question 33-13(8): Cost Overruns On GNWT Projects
Question 33-13(8): Cost Overruns On GNWT Projects
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 83

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

The question is taken as notice. Oral questions. Item 7, written questions. Item 8, returns to written questions. Item 9, replies to opening address. Mrs. Groenewegen.

Reply 2-13(8)
Item 9: Replies To Opening Address

Page 83

Jane Groenewegen Hay River

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today is the last opportunity we have to speak in this legislature and I want to take this time to make a short statement. The lucky 13th Assembly, as I have always referred to us, was an eclectic collection of mostly rookie MLAs from diverse regions, backgrounds and perspectives. Although each others' strengths and talents were not completely obvious to us when we first arrived, as time passed and we worked on committees and issues together, these attributes surfaced. It is regrettable that in the process of trying to find our place in the collective group we did not always afford each other more opportunity to really flourish in the area of our strengths. Individually, I believe, that we all had a lot to contribute. I want to stress the fact that I said we all had a lot to contribute. Collectively, I do not think that we really quite got it together in a way that could have resulted in accomplishing even more and achieving more of our potential than we did. That is not to say that things did not get done and I do not mean to diminish what we did manage to do.

These were difficult times of restraint and reorganization and responding to realities which were not always within our control. However, I remain very much an optimist about the future of the Northwest Territories, if perhaps not quite the idealist that I was when I arrived here four years ago. The experience of the past four years, in fact, makes me no less enthusiastic about tackling the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, perhaps just a little more pragmatic about the dispatch with which we can proceed. Very little of my previous experience could have prepared me for what I have encountered in this past four years. Being here in living colour is very different from the armchair vantage that I enjoyed on territorial politics before jumping in at the deep end. I would like this term of office to be remembered as being served by me with fairness, impartiality, conviction and sensitivity to the issues of the people. Although I absolutely have no regrets, I hope that the highly publicized and protracted effort on behalf of openness and accountability in government will not obscure many other issues that I attempted to address.

On a personal note, this is a time at which many of us are doing some soul-searching as to our goals and our priorities. I look at my life, which I might add has been very dramatically changed by this foray in politics and I have to take inventory. I am 42 years old, a mother, a wife, a business partner and a 25 year veteran of various degrees of political involvement in the North. I know at this age what brings me genuine satisfaction and pleasure. They are simple things. Watching my children grow up in response to the guidance and love that we give them and seeing the evidence of them adopting the same values and beliefs that our parents taught us. I love the comfort of my home and enjoying the smallest of detail of attending to its atmosphere and its appearance. I love art and good music, I like to write and I would like to have more time to pursue things that interest me.

I have to ask myself, what do all of these simple joys and pleasures have to do with packing up clothes and files every few weeks, travelling to Yellowknife, allowing almost all creative energies to be zapped by the seemingly endless demands and agendas set before us. Agendas created from within the bowels of the elusive and complex government. The offering of yourself to unrelenting public scrutiny and comment, the sometimes counterproductive and even ruthless rivalry amongst Members to get to the front of the pack, and the patience needed to listen to others viewpoints, while wondering if anyone is listening to yours and if they are hearing, are they understanding.

The next and obvious step in the sole-searching is to determine if the rewards outweigh the sacrifices. The rewards for me, as Mr. Steen earlier stated, so far all relate back to my role that I play in my own community. The interaction with constituents, whether at a community function, one and one on an issue pertaining to them personally, addressing larger issues and initiatives or just catching up with people at the checkout counter at the grocery store. Therein lies the satisfaction and reward for me. To know that you have the ability to speak for, advocate on behalf of and respectably represent the voices of the people in your community and know that they appreciate you for it, is the only thing that brings the measure of sense to this job that would induce anyone in their right mind to come back for more.

I would like to thank all of my colleagues of the 13th Legislative Assembly. It has been a sharp learning curve for most of us. I hope that many of you will have the opportunity to put what you have learned to good use in another term of office.

I know that the staff cannot wait for us to leave today. I thank them for their good work. Enjoy the break and we shall return all too soon I am sure. I would also like to thank many Yellowknifers who have welcomed the out of town MLAs so warmly into their community. We have spent almost half of our time here over the past four years, and I personally needed to have a life while I was here, outside of this building. I have truly enjoyed the kindness and support of the people of Yellowknife.

I also want to thank my husband Rick, my boys, Jordan and Jeffrey, and my daughter, Jillian, and my sister, Janet, who was here with me for a time. As Mr. Roland did yesterday, I too, do thank God for providing the wisdom and guidance that we collectively and individually prayed for here everyday.

Last but not least, I want to thank the good people of Enterprise and Hay River for this unique opportunity to serve. To my confidantes, advisors, mentors, supporters and even my critics, I have done my best under what were sometimes very unusual circumstances and I have always had the interest of Hay River and Northerners at heart. I would not have missed this chapter on politics in my memoirs for anything. I am confident that in some capacity it would be safe to end this statement with the caption, to be continued. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Reply 2-13(8)
Item 9: Replies To Opening Address

Page 84

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Replies to opening address. Mr. Dent.

Reply 3-13(8)
Item 9: Replies To Opening Address

Page 84

Charles Dent Yellowknife Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have good news. This will be a very short reply. Mr. Speaker, I was honoured to have been selected nearly four years ago to serve on Cabinet and it has been an interesting time. There has been an awful lot of learning involved. I know having served for four years on the other side as an ordinary Member and then coming to Cabinet, that it often seems that there are all sorts of conspiracies that abound and that Cabinet, in particular, is leading them. It was a very interesting transition to get on to the other side and find just how few conspiracies there actually are and how impossible it is to do anything in secret and I think this is good. We really have a very open government here and almost all of the decisions and discussions are done publicly. Far more than what would be found in any other style of government, particularly in a government that had party politics. If there is one thing that I have found over the last eight years of being in this Legislature, it is that the public is actually more aware of what is going on than I think they would be in other systems.

Mr. Speaker, four years ago when we got started it was a very difficult time. I think we can be very proud of the fiscal situation that we are leaving this government in. In spite of coming in and having to deal with, in effect cutting our budget because of reduction of $150 million in our federal transfer payments, we will not be leaving the next Legislature in a sea of ink. I think that is one of the most important accomplishments that we can point to over the last four years. We have not left this territory mortgaged for our children to pay off.

I think we can also point to division of the Northwest Territories, the creation of Nunavut and the new Northwest Territories. The manner in which that took place, I think, was a credit to all of us who sat in this Legislature. We had a very smooth transition and have two administrations up and running and there was no interruption in the delivery of services to our constituents. There was a lot of concern as to whether or not that would happen. Whether or not there would be some concern.

Mr. Speaker, since becoming the Minister of Finance, I have spoken to an awful lot of community groups and aboriginal leaders talking about our future. There is no question that one of the biggest challenges that is going to be faced by the next Legislature is the fiscal situation. We are going to face a continued challenge dealing with a shortfall in revenues when it comes to necessary expenditures. We know that the projected shortfall will mean that it is going to be difficult just to maintain services, let alone deal with the pressing social needs that we have at Health and Social Services or Education, Culture and Employment. I think we have to look for ways to invest in those pressing social needs. I see it as a particularly onerous challenge coming up.

Mr. Speaker, I am planning to run in the next election and I would not do that if I were not an optimist. If I did not believe that the future does hold hope. I think that if we can demonstrate to the federal government that with a changed fiscal relationship that we will be able to not only improve the welfare of northern residents, but the welfare of all residents of Canada and that perhaps they will be willing to listen to us. Perhaps we can then start to make some progress at developing sufficient revenues from our own sources to deal with some of our pressing problems. It takes a northern consensus though, Mr. Speaker. This government cannot do it on its own. We have to get all Northerners on side, first to move forward, to talk to the federal government about moving ownership of resources to the North.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to also take a few moments to thank some people that have given me great support and help over the last few years. I would like to thank all the Members of this Legislative Assembly, especially those with whom I have served on Cabinet, including many of the Nunavut Members. I would like to thank the Legislative Assembly staff under the guidance of Mr. David Hamilton, they have provided all of us with tremendous support. I would like to thank the staff in my office, I have had two executive assistants, Mr. Paul Jones was the first assistant that I had and now Ms. Karen Bergman-Ilnik. I think that they discovered a whole new realm of issues when it came to dealing with problems with student financial assistance and income support when I was Minister of Education, Culture and Employment. I thank them for their patience and their assistance. I would like to thank Ms. Cheryl Meier, who is my executive secretary. Without her organization, I could not get the job done. It is amazing how she can put her hands on a piece of paper that is four years old and get it to me in almost no time.

I would also like to thank the departmental staff that I have had the pleasure of working with. I think this government has a large cadre of dedicated, competent people working for it. I have been responsible for three departments in particular and I would like to single them out for special mention. I could not have been nearly as successful without their support. I would like to say a special thanks to Mr. Mark Cleveland and the staff at Education, Culture and Employment with whom I worked with for three and a half years. Thanks to Margaret Melhorn and the staff at the Department of Finance. To Lew Voytilla and the staff at FMBS for the guidance that they are providing us all these days. I should also mention thanks to Ms. Bertha Norwegian who is the special advisor to me on the Status of Women. Her help has been invaluable since I have taken on that responsibility.

Mr. Speaker, I need to say thanks to my family. Without the support of my wife and my son for the hours, for the weekends and for the days that I am away travelling, I could not possibly do this job. I would also like to say thanks, finally, to my constituents for the trust that they have shown in putting me here to represent them. I would like to say to them, I will be seeing you shortly knocking on your door. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Reply 3-13(8)
Item 9: Replies To Opening Address

Page 85

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Replies to opening address. Mr. Erasmus.

Reply 4-13(8)
Item 9: Replies To Opening Address

Page 85

Roy Erasmus Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, first of all I would like to inform the Members that this reply will not be as long as my previous maiden reply to the opening address, as I am sure you will be happy to know. Mr. Speaker, before I go any further, I would like to congratulate Mr. Nick Sibbeston, the former Premier of this government and Minister, and, of course, obviously an ordinary MLA. I would like to congratulate him on his appointment to the Senate. I am sure Mr. Sibbeston will do an outstanding job in promoting all of our interests as he has done here in the Northwest Territories. For those of us who know him, Mr. Sibbeston is quite outspoken and I am sure he will inform his fellow Senators of the view points and the realities of the North while they are making decisions that affect Canadians and particularly the North.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank all of my constituents who supported me during this past term. I would like to thank those who contacted me and voiced their concerns particularly when it was more than an issue that involved only one person so that we could try to do something to help the general population. I would also like to thank the three constituency assistants that have worked with me. Ms. Vi Beck, Mr. Roy Dahl and Ms. Leslie Wilson. With this new system that we are going to be having in the next Assembly, hopefully, Mr. Speaker, no one will be standing up next time saying that they had three constituency assistants because with the new system we will be able to offer them a fair wage and better working conditions I believe, so that you can actually keep a constituency assistant and they will not go off to better paying jobs.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to thank all of the staff that we work with here who certainly go out of their way at all times to try to ensure that we get all the information that we need. Sometimes we might make the odd request that is on the spur of the moment, but they always try to do their best to make sure we get what we need and travel plans are made and that type of thing. I would like to thank everybody from Mr. Hamilton to the kitchen staff and the whole works.

Mr. Speaker, also the rest of the GNWT employees as well. They have to do a lot of work that makes our work easier, providing us with information and various types of things. Drafting briefing notes and all that kind of stuff. And I am sure that they would much rather be doing the work that they have been hired to do, which is to provide programs and services to Members, people living in the Northwest Territories. I would like to thank them as well.

I would like to comment a little bit about some of the things that other people had mentioned earlier as well. I think the first thing I would like to mention is the fact that from what I understand, this was the first Assembly that had to make some serious cuts. Before we could even blink, we were told that we had to cut about $100 million from our budget from previous years. That is not an easy thing to do. Mr. Speaker, people know that when there is a lot of money, it is easy, everybody is happy, but as soon as there is less money, everybody starts quarrelling and trying to get their share. I know from having worked with aboriginal organizations in the past that this is the way it is. When you are working for an organization, when there is a lot of money, it is easy to get things. You may not get everything that you want, but you can get money to do certain things and that type of thing. When I came here, it was the same. When we had to start cutting, man, it was hard.

As Mr. Roland indicated yesterday, we made the necessary decision and we did that because, as Mr. Dent has indicated today, we did not want to mortgage our children's future. We were trying to ensure that the people of the Northwest Territories would not have a substantial deficit when we left. Seeing what is coming, Mr. Speaker, I am certain now, it strengthens my resolve and it confirms that we did the right thing even though many people felt that we went too far because we knew that the crunch was coming. In another year's time, in the following budget, we know that there is going to be another deficit. If we would have left a $100 million deficit already, that would have been really tough. I think the next Legislative Assembly has to make it a very, very high priority to work with the aboriginal and community leadership to ensure that control of and benefit from our natural resources is brought to the North. It seems like every time we turn around, we get another example, another example of how we are put in such poor positions because we are not in control of our natural resources.

One of the things that we had to go through in the past couple of years was just to get the diamond valuating and sorting facility in the community. I suppose you could say we had to fight, beg, cajole, threaten, everything under our power and every way we could think of to get major companies, major diamond companies, to agree that they would have their diamond valuating and sorting facility here in Yellowknife. I guess the other thing to point out is that it did not necessarily have to be in Yellowknife but at least in a community so that a community can benefit from the jobs and the money that comes along with it.

Another thing that we can look at is this whole Giant Mine issue. Mr. Speaker, we know that if we were in control all along, I guess it is a mine in more ways than one. It is a mine in the fact that they are mining ore but it is also a mine ready to go off because we have tons and tons and tons of arsenic there. Presumably that would have never happened if we were in control of our resources here, if we could put conditions on people doing their mining, exploration, and mining development. It would also enable us to put other conditions such as having to take on so many employees, trainees, and those types of things. Those could all be put as conditions.

The other very, very important point that comes out also is the fact that from these diamond mines, Mr. Speaker, who is getting the most benefit? It is certainly not us. After the diamond companies themselves, it is the federal government. They are getting what? Ten, 15 times more out of our own natural resources than we are. They are getting all the royalties. And then what happens? We have to go to them on bended knee and say give us a little bit more money.

We have the highest pupil/teacher ratio in the country. We have people out there, homeless people. We have all these problems and we are not getting enough money, but yet the federal government is getting all these dollars and making it seem as though we are the poor little cousin on the block. But if we were getting all the resources, all the royalties we were supposed to be getting and which we would be getting more of in the future because of the added diamond mines will be coming on stream, the oil and gas exploration and there are going to be all kinds of that being pumped out of here, Mr. Speaker, if we would have access to all those royalties, we would be paying our way a lot more than many of the provinces in the future. All the eastern provinces, eastern Atlantic provinces, some of the others as well. We would be putting more into the kitty ourselves than those provinces are.

Those Members who will be coming back to the next Assembly, and I hope that I am one of them as I will be putting my name forward, that we do make this a priority to get this Northern Accord or whatever it will be called, through. I think that all of the people in the Northwest Territories have to work on this, the aboriginal leadership, the community leadership, the MLAs, we have to put our differences aside, put our differences aside and work for the betterment of all of our constituents so that we can take control of these resources, get added money and ensure that we get maximum benefits from our resources.

Mr. Speaker, like Mr. Steen, I thought we were going to do all kinds of changes, some of them quickly. But like he said, it was an illusion. Things happen slowly in government and particularly in our form of government because we have a consensus style government and everybody comes from a different area of the Northwest Territories. We all have our own interests. We all have our own concerns that we want to address first. So in order to get support for things, it is very, very difficult. Lord knows, a lot of times you think you have an agreement, all of a sudden somebody else comes up with something new. Hey, we never thought of this, we never thought of that. Many times, although we do not like it, it is our civil service, but that is what they are paid to do is to provide us with the best information possible so we can make the best decisions. Those are the types of things that make government move slow. I know from my friend, Mr. Henry, and other people who are in business who are used to making quick decisions, it has been very, very frustrating not only for them but for us as well.

I would like to thank the Members who had served previously, such as yourself, Mr. Speaker, and several others who had previous experience as MLAs because without them it would have been a lot harder to get things done. They, of course, had been through it before and they helped us a lot with their previous experience in how things are done, that type of thing. I would like to thank them for providing us with advice as we went along.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to reflect a little bit on some of the things that we did go through. I think that we were able to, as I had indicated, get a diamond valuation and sorting facility in Yellowknife, but also those are not the only benefits we will be getting from the diamond industry. There are a couple of other polishing facilities that will be happening. I am happy to say that three have been approved, and I know that two of them will be in Yellowknife, the Sirius Diamonds one and Deh Cho Diamonds, which I am very, very happy to indicate will be in the constituency of Weledeh, where I will be running. It is 50 percent owned by the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, which will be a tremendous boost for that community which has, for the longest time, been living right next to Yellowknife, which is a large centre but have been unable to fully benefit from the educational services that are available and also from the business advantages that are there.

I think too, that we were able to put forward some new programs for investments, that type of thing, through the Aurora Fund, the Tax Credit Program. Being able to do that by using other people's money, allowed us to save money that we could use for social programs. One of the things I learned too, Mr. Speaker, which I was not aware of before we came here is about motions. Motions that are made in the House are simply recommendations to the Cabinet and I did not know that before I came here. I thought once you fought it through and you can get a motion passed, that was what going to happen, and I know other people felt like that too. And the general public, many of them thought that, and they still think that, many of them. But we did pass some motions and some of them were followed, some of them were not. I was going through the motions and I noticed that most that were passed were for more money in education. Unfortunately, we were not able to put as much money into education as we wanted, but I think it shows to the general public that this Legislative Assembly felt strongly about education and, it is not because we do not want our youth and our people to be well educated that we have not been able to put money into it. It is simply because we have to do other things as well.

Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of things that we could speak about. We certainly had to work with resolving the equal pay issue, and I know that was hard. People took different sides and finally, I think, in the end, I should not say in the end, but today about 85 percent of the people who are owed money have received their money and although the union is still fighting to get more money for the other 15 percent who have not received their payouts, I think that for those who have accepted the offer, it has been good because they do not have to wait, and they have been able to spend their money on various things that they had wanted.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak a little bit about working on committees. I would like to thank the people who worked with me in the two committees that I was on, the Social Programs Committee, and I am very, very glad that we, I would like to mention a Member from the east, Mr. Ningark, who had been a long-standing Member in this House. He was a very calming influence in our committee, and he helped us through a lot with letting us know what had happened in the past, that type of thing. It was very, very difficult at times, Mr. Speaker, because we do see the business plans of the organizations, and it is very difficult to be critical of business plans that have gone through your committee because presumably you have approved them. It does not mean that we approve of everything that is going through there but because it has gone through your committee, sometimes in fact you may receive further information later on than you had when you made the decision or made recommendations. It is very difficult to sometimes be critical. But that particular committee had, I think, 63-65 percent of the budget in its envelope, and we had a lot of meetings. Particularly during Session, those of us who were on the Social Programs Committee and the Government Operations Committee, we were here at 9:00 in the morning and many, many times we met right from 9:00 until 1:30 or 1:20 when the House was going to be starting, and we went from one meeting to the next and then we had a lunch meeting as well. If people do not think that is hard, let me tell you, your head is spinning by the time you get to the House. Then you have to try to speak sensibly, asking questions, and making statements and the rest of that. I would like to thank those Members who worked with me on the Social Programs Committee and the Government Operations Committee as well.

Mr. Speaker, one of the things that you have to adjust to when you become a public figure such as becoming an MLA is the loss of time with your family. I know that probably, if I wanted to be a better MLA, I could have went to more things such as meetings in the evenings and that type of thing, but I made a commitment to my wife when I was elected that I would try to spend as much time with my family as possible, and that may have brought some criticism to me, but I have a 13-year-old son and I have tried to spend as much time with him taking him to his various sporting activities or to his school activities as possible. Along with that as well, is the loss of privacy. You cannot even go to the corner store for a loaf of bread, someone may want to talk to you, but you have to take the time to speak to those people. That is a simple fact of life. It does not matter where you are, people will come to you. It does not matter, even if you are out of your community. I have often travelled to Fort Smith, Hay River, Edzo, anywhere, and people still come to you and talk to you. So I guess the loss of privacy and the fact that you are no longer just an ordinary person on the street. You are not able to do many of the things that you previously used to do. A lot of things, government programs and things, are no longer available to you not because you are no longer a member of the Northwest Territories or a person living in the Northwest Territories, but simply because it looks bad that an MLA would participate in the same programs that other people participate in. That was a big adjustment. I guess we all had to learn to live with it, but I must say that it took a while to get used to it.

When I was campaigning four years ago, a couple of people asked me about promises I was going to make. I cannot promise anything because I do not know if I will be able to get what I want. There are a lot of things I want. One of the things I wanted to do was to improve the affirmative action, but I am sad to say that today, as we sit and stand here, that it is in a worse situation than when we got here. That is one of the reasons why I wish to run again to try to get some improvements to this program that has been with us for so long but which really does not seem to have done that much.

As I was saying, people had asked me, when I was campaigning about my promises, and what I had told them was that I could not make promises but what I would do when there was a problem or a situation, an issue, whatever you want to call it, I would get as much information as possible, I would look at both sides as fairly as I could and make the best decision that I could. I think that I have done that. I think that is the most that people could fairly expect of MLAs. I know that it does not matter what decision you make, you are going to get criticism from one side and praise from the other side. The next time you make a decision, it could be the exact opposite. The people who praised you the last time will criticise you, but that is just the way it is.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I am just about finished. I would like to thank my family. As my good friend, Mr. Miltenberger, knows, I have a very large extended family in the North, not only in the North but I would particularly like to thank my parents who stood beside me through this, my brothers and sisters and, of course, my wife and my children. As I had indicated earlier, you lose a lot of your privacy when you become an MLA and it seems as though the people who feel the most are members of your family particularly when you are being criticized in the press or by the general public, and members of your family often do not say it, but they feel badly as well, and many times more than us because we get used to it and we can deal with it. So I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my wife, my children, and the rest of my family for all the assistance that they provided me with in the last four years.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I look forward to seeing you and the rest of the Members who will be running again here in the 14th Assembly. Thank you.

--Applause

Reply 4-13(8)
Item 9: Replies To Opening Address

Page 87

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

We will take a 15 minute break.

--Break

Reply 4-13(8)
Item 9: Replies To Opening Address

Page 87

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

I will call the house back to order. We are on item 9, replies to opening address. Mr. Krutko.

Reply 5-13(8)
Item 9: Replies To Opening Address

September 10th, 1999

Page 87

David Krutko Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, at this time I would like to thank the people of the Mackenzie Delta for allowing me to represent them in the 13th Legislative Assembly for the last four years. I look forward to continuing to serve them for another four years. It has been challenging at times and it also has been fulfilling at times. We have had to make some crucial decisions in regard to the deficit and also the cuts in this House, especially in the areas of education in regard to the teachers and also in our schools in regard to our language specialists and also the effects on special needs students. There has been some improvement in the education system in my riding, especially in the area of developing the infrastructure in regard to the brand new school, Chief Julius School in Fort McPherson, and the renovation of the Moose Kerr School in Aklavik and now the construction of the school in Tsiigehtchic. Along with that we have to improve the delivery of education in our smaller communities and ensuring that in the future that the resources be put where they are needed. We have passed motions in this House directing the government to access more funds and put it into the area of education.

The other area that I would like to touch on is the area of economic development and enhancing the road to Tuktoyaktuk and also improving the road conditions on the Dempster Highway and expanding the oil and gas industry in the Mackenzie Delta region. I have raised many questions in regard to the area of economic opportunities and raising the economic portfolios of all regions of the Western Territory and finding new ways of taking advantage of what we all have with the natural resources, the beauty of the land and also the people that live here.

Areas that I have also raised many questions on in the general area that I specialized in before I came here were the land claims area and promoting and ensuring that those land claims agreements are implemented fully and, the rights in those agreements are carried out by this government who is a signatory to those land claim agreements.

The other area that I have touched on is the area of the inherent right of self-government for aboriginal peoples and the job that is being done in the Beaufort Delta region, who are presently in the process of negotiating a self-government agreement on behalf of the residents of the Beaufort Delta in which their goal is to establish a regional government for the people of the Beaufort Delta.

Other issues that I have raised time and time again in this House was the whole aspect of the Northern Accord and transfer of natural resources to the Government of the Northwest Territories. In particular, the 1988 agreement which was signed by the federal government, the Government of the Northwest Territories to ensure there will be a negotiated process which will allow aboriginal peoples and aboriginal governments to negotiate that transfer with this government. With very little progress in that area I would like to direct the 14th Assembly and this government to ensure that more effort and energy is put in that area and also, completing land claim agreements in all areas of the Northwest Territories, and also continuing to ensuring that treaty rights are fully implemented and economic rights in land claim agreements. in my riding especially in regard to the Inuvialuit and the Gwich'in, are fulfilled and carried out to its fullest.

The area that I probably had the most difficulty with in this legislature and for the people that I represent in the Mackenzie Delta was the area of health and social services. That was probably one of the most sensitive issues that the delta had to deal with because of increased cases of cancer of the residents of my riding and what is being done to try to deal with that problem. Also, for the loss of my mom to cancer.

With that I would like to take the time to thank the many people that supported me through my hard times. I would like to especially thank the residents of the Mackenzie Delta to raising this portfolio and profile of this crucial issue to where it is now in the form of a ministerial forum which is travelling to all of our communities. I would like to especially thank the residents of the Mackenzie Delta who took the time and effort to develop petitions, motions, and also raise the portfolio through the media and through public meetings in their communities. I would like to at this time acknowledge that we did table petitions in this House calling for a public inquiry into Health and Social Services because of the problems that my riding has seen in that area. All has not been lost, we did not get a public inquiry, but we probably got the next best thing to it, which is a Ministerial Forum on Health and Social Services. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the residents of the Mackenzie Delta, that all has not been lost and that we do have an opportunity to raise your voices, raise your concerns and now for this government to carry out the recommendations that come forth through this report.

At this time I would like to take the opportunity to thank the staff of the Legislative Assembly and the dean of the House, Mr. Hamilton, and not least, the lady at the Legislative Assembly who people do not hear much about, but who is always there for the Members, Ms. Betty Low, who as a mother has made an effort to ensure that we were always on time for our meetings, made sure we got to where we were going with our travel arrangements and also amazingly enough, she was always able to track us down regardless of wherever we were. I would like to thank Ms. Low, the staff, the Legislative Assembly, the research staff, the clerks and also everyone working in this building. I would like to take this time to thank the Members of the House for electing me to the deputy speaker's position, Chair of the resource committee and sit on several other committees on behalf of the Members of this Legislative Assembly. I have had the opportunity of your friendship and of working with you for the last four years and would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart, especially, Mr. Speaker, yourself. On behalf of Mickey Mouse and myself, I would like to wish you all the best wherever you may go, God be with you and hopefully I will see you back here next year. Thank you.

--Applause