This is page numbers 1 - 18 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 gas.

Topics

Members Present

Honourable Jim Antoine, Honourable Charles Dent, Mr. Erasmus, Honourable Sam Gargan, Mrs. Groenewegen, Mr. Henry, Honourable Stephen Kakfwi, Mr. Krutko, Honourable Michael Miltenberger, Mr. Morin, Mr. Ootes, Mr. Rabesca, Honourable Floyd Roland, Honourable Vince Steen.

--O Canada

--Drummers

God, almighty, as the last Session of this Legislative Assembly is about to begin, we humbly ask you, your blessing upon the matters of this Assembly and those who are working in this building. We ask you to share your wisdom with them, so that they will work diligently for the good of all people. We ask you to share with them your intelligence so that they will listen attentively to one another and the people they serve. We ask you to share your willpower so that they will work actively to build a just society. And we ask you to share with them your gift of prophecy so that they will prepare people to enter the new millennium. We ask you this through your Son and Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Item 1: Prayer
Item 1: Prayer

Page 1

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. I would like to thank the drummers and also Father Pochat. Good afternoon. I understand that His Honour the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories is prepared to enter the Chamber and open this Session of the Legislative Assembly. Mr. Clerk could you please attend to the escort of the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories into the Chamber.

Item 2: Commissioners Address
Item 2: Commissioners Address

Page 1

Commissioner Marion

Thank you, please be seated. Mr. Speaker, Members of the Legislative Assembly, good afternoon. I am pleased to welcome you to the Eighth Session of the 13th Legislative Assembly. This is an historic occasion, as we begin the final Session in the life of this government. A time which has seen dramatic changes here in the Northwest Territories.

Before I go any further, I would like to offer my most sincere congratulations to our new Senator, Mr. Nick Sibbeston of Fort Simpson.

--Applause

Mr. Sibbeston has for many years shown a commitment to the people, the cultures and the future of the Northwest Territories both as a Member of this Assembly and as an individual. We are fortunate to have such a person as the first Senator for the new Northwest Territories.

I would also like to express my deepest gratitude to the Honourable Vince Steen and his staff for assisting in making this weekend's tour of Nunakput such a great success. My aide-de-camp, Constable Noella Cockney and Constable Violet Pokiak, both of whom are Inuvialuit, did much to enrich my visit to this region. One of the main reasons for the tour of Nunakput was to honour certain residents by presenting the Commissioner's Award for Community Service. This award recognises people for their contribution to their community and to life in the Northwest Territories.

Edward Ruben, an elder in Paulatuk, was instrumental in deciding the present location of the community. He exemplifies the elders we have in all our communities, sharing his past with the present generation. In Holman Island, Robert Kuptana was recognised for his work with the Inuvialuit of the region and as a community leader. He has served on all the organizations of Holman Island. In Sachs Harbour, Andy Carpenter has worked for the Inuvialuit people throughout his life and to preserve the environment has been a good portion of his life.

Two awards were presented in Tuktoyaktuk. Norman Felix Sheppard was honoured for his work teaching young people their culture and traditions. He has travelled the world with his troop of drummers, demonstrating Inuvialuit drumming and songs. Lucy Cockney is another fine example of elders who work tirelessly for their community. She has devoted many years to making Tuktoyaktuk a better place through her work on the hamlet council and with the church.

Mr. Speaker, all of us can learn from the example set by these people. By committing ourselves to our communities, to our families and neighbours, we can build a strong territory. We can make the Northwest Territories a place where all people feel welcome. We can create the opportunities that our children deserve. We can show the rest of the world a way to build healthy communities and to make the most of human and natural resources.

Mr. Speaker, when this government took office in late 1995, it introduced the Agenda for Change. This was an ambitious and necessary program to:

- improve social conditions;

- improve economic conditions; and

- work towards the successful creation of two new Territories.

This work is by no means complete, and nor should we expect it to be finished in the life of one government, but important progress has been made. The creation of two new Territories was, of course, accomplished earlier this year to the great pride and satisfaction of people across the North and around the world.

More decision-making authority has been placed at the community and regional lever so that programs and services can be delivered in ways that best suit the different needs of people across the NWT. At the same time, a commitment has been made to give people the training and support they need to adjust to this new authority and make the most of it.

Important socio-economic agreements have been negotiated to see that northern people benefit from new resource development. The NWT has entered into agreements to work with our northern neighbours and with several provinces to cooperate in areas of mutual concern. A new formula funding agreement was negotiated with the federal government.

Mr. Speaker, despite all that has been accomplished, many challenges still lie ahead. That is why this government introduced the Agenda for the New North earlier this year. This document looks beyond the life of this Assembly. It contains a vision of how northern people can work together to make progress on the issues that affect us all. This government recognizes that the Northwest Territories is at a unique and vital point in its development. It also recognizes that government alone cannot take advantage of the opportunities before us. This will require the commitment and cooperation of all parts of our northern society.

And with that, I would like to commend to you for your sincere consideration and wise judgement of the business of this House as I declare open the Eighth Session of the 13th Assembly of the Northwest Territories. Thank you.

--Applause

Item 2: Commissioners Address
Item 2: Commissioners Address

September 7th, 1999

Page 2

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Good afternoon and welcome to the opening of the eighth and most likely the final Session of the 13th Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories. I would like to remind Members and guests that after the item, recognition of visitors in the gallery in the orders today, the Commissioner has invited us to a reception in the Great Hall.

Before we begin the business of the House this afternoon I would like to make a few brief comments. First I would like to thank the Dettah Drummers and Father Pochat from Rae-Edzo for joining us today to celebrate the opening of the final Session of the 13th Legislative Assembly.

As I said, this is probably the last time that the Members of this Legislature will open a new Session and I think we all need to take a few moments to think back on where things were four years ago and where we are today.

I hope that when each of you looks back you think about the accomplishments of this Legislative Assembly and feel proud to have been a part of it. As the dean of the House I think it is safe to say that never before have Members of the Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly had to deal with the difficult and emotional issues that the Members of this House have.

Upon entering the House we were immediately confronted with the prospect of a $150 million projected deficit and the need to get it under control to ensure that the two new Territories, the new Northwest Territories and Nunavut, started off on solid financial grounds. Some of the decisions we have had to make were unpopular and had adverse impacts on the people and communities within all our constituencies; however, I think we also have to recognize that these decisions, no matter how unpopular and unpleasant, had to be made. Just think where we would be today if we had not taken the steps we did.

Division is now behind us but the past several months have proven to be emotional ones with the electoral boundaries issue and discussion on how many Members should be elected in the December 6, 1999, election. I know that this issue is still with us; however, we need to remember that we must move forward and build a strong Northwest Territories. It is important that we, as elected leaders, demonstrate to our constituents that we are working cooperatively together for the common good and this will be a key goal for future leaders. Mahsi cho.

--Applause

I wish to advise the House that I have received the following message from the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories:

Dear Mr. Speaker:

I wish to advise that I recommend to the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories, the passage of the Supplementary Appropriation Act, No. 2, 1999-2000, during the Eighth Session of the 13th Legislative Assembly.

Yours truly, Dan Marion, Commissioner.

Thank you.

Orders of the day. Item 3, Ministers' statements. Mr. Antoine.

Minister's Statement 1-13(8): Consultations On The Standing Committee On Government Operations Report On Bill 15
Item 3: Ministers' Statements

Page 2

Jim Antoine Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As this is the opening of the final Session of this Legislative Assembly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all Members of this House for their work over the past four years on behalf of the people of the Northwest Territories. Mahsi cho.

Mr. Speaker, during the last sitting of the Legislative Assembly in July, this Legislative Assembly passed Bill 15, An Act to Amend the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act. This bill, amongst other things, made changes to the electoral districts in the Northwest Territories by adding five additional seats for the upcoming election in December.

In its report to the Legislative Assembly, the Standing Committee on Government Operations made a number of recommendations. One of these recommendations, the inclusion of a sunset clause that will ensure that the 14th Assembly re-visits the issue of electoral boundaries, was supported by the government and resulted in a subsequent amendment to the bill.

The committee made other recommendations related to a political accord, a legal reference to the Supreme Court, the implementation of a 2/2/2 model for regional representation on Cabinet and the establishment of a Constitutional and Electoral Reform Commission.

With respect to these recommendations, I provided the government's initial views at the time. I also made a commitment to consult with all stakeholders to determine the level of support for these recommendations throughout the Northwest Territories.

On August 19th, I wrote to all aboriginal and public governments, land claims organizations, the NWT Chamber of Commerce, the Dene Cultural Institute, and the Status of Women Council of the NWT to solicit their views on the issues raised by the Standing Committee.

This letter also asked for the views of these organizations on the establishment of an intergovernmental process that would bring together representatives of public and aboriginal governments to discuss issues of common interest.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, Cabinet Ministers have been meeting individually with aboriginal governments and attending various summer gatherings over the course of the summer to discuss these and other matters. To date, Mr. Speaker, we have received responses from the following organizations across the North:

- Hamlet of Fort Providence;

- NWT Association of Municipalities;

- Town of Hay River;

- Salt River First Nation;

- Status of Women Council;

- NWT Chamber of Commerce;

- Town of Inuvik;

- Enterprise Settlement Council;

- Sahtu Secretariat Incorporated; and

- Sahtu Dene Council.

The City of Yellowknife wrote to inform us that they did not have an opportunity to discuss the matter but provided personal submissions from the mayor and two council members.

In summary, Mr. Speaker, few of the responses addressed the recommendations concerning regional representation, the legal reference or a political accord. Most focused on the issue of the establishment of a Constitutional and Electoral Reform Commission.

In general, the comments we received indicated an interest in pursuing discussions on constitutional and electoral reform in the Northwest Territories. However, this support was qualified by the need for input into these discussions from all levels of government and other stakeholders prior to the establishment of a new process.

Mr. Speaker, based on what we heard from our consultations, the government does not intend to bring forward legislation to create a Constitutional and Electoral Reform Commission during the life of this Assembly. Nor do we intend to bring forward legislation to implement the 2/2/2 model of representation recommended by the committee.

With respect to constitutional and electoral reform in the NWT, we remain of the view that there is a clear need for a broadly supported process. However, it is obvious from the responses received from various organizations throughout the North and in our discussions with aboriginal and public governments, that a great deal of work must be done to develop a consensus on how best to pursue this reform.

This government intends to continue this discussion with aboriginal and public governments over the remainder of our term and provide recommendations to the incoming Members of the 14th Assembly in the transition document on how to move this process forward.

We also intend to include recommendations in the transition document on the other issues raised by the committee.

Mr. Speaker, what became most apparent from our consultations on this matter was the high level of support for an intergovernmental process that would bring together aboriginal governments and public governments at the municipal, territorial and federal level.

Many of the organizations that responded indicated that such a government to government to government process is required, particularly as we continue to move forward on self-government negotiations. It is clear, Mr. Speaker, that this is the best process to deal with the negotiation of a political accord between aboriginal and public governments.

The government has been pursuing the establishment of such a process over the course of the summer. I intend to speak with the new Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs in the next few days to discuss ways to move this process prior to the end of the term of this government. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Minister's Statement 1-13(8): Consultations On The Standing Committee On Government Operations Report On Bill 15
Item 3: Ministers' Statements

Page 3

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Ministers' statements. Mr. Kakfwi.

Minister's Statement 2-13(8): Inuvik Natural Gas Conversion Program
Item 3: Ministers' Statements

Page 3

Stephen Kakfwi Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories is committed to ensuring all Northerners benefit from resource development. As I have stated before, those benefits must include employment, training and business opportunities for Northerners. In the case of natural gas development, it should include access to a less expensive and cleaner burning fuel than oil or diesel.

The Inuvik Natural Gas Project is a good example of how Northerners can benefit from resource development in their own backyard. In 1998, the Inuvialuit Petroleum Corporation, AltaGas Services Incorporated and Enbridge Incorporated formed a partnership to bring natural gas from the Ikhil field to supply the energy needs of the town of Inuvik.

The Department of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development funded a portion of the initial research on this project. We have been strong supporters of the project from the very beginning.

Two natural gas wells are now operational and the gas is flowing through a transmission pipeline ready for distribution to commercial and residential consumers in Inuvik. To ensure local residents benefit from the reduction in energy costs, the department is continuing its support for the project by providing funding to help residential consumers switch to natural gas heating. Heating conversion costs are high and result in a substantial initial cash outlay for the consumer. The Department of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development will be providing conversion grants to cover up to one third of the initial cost, to a maximum of $1,350 dollars per conversion. Inuvik Gas Limited will provide a matching grant. RWED will provide up to $300,000 for the Inuvik Natural Gas Conversion Program in 1999-2000 with an additional $200,000 available in 2000-2001.

This program will result in the reduction of residential energy costs in Inuvik. It also allows the Northwest Territories to demonstrate its commitment to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Natural gas is considered to be a cleaner burning fuel than either oil or diesel. This switch from diesel to natural gas will result in a substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Mr. Speaker, over 150 people have been invited to Inuvik to join the grand opening celebrations over a three day period. On Friday, September 10, there will be ribbon cutting ceremonies at the sites for the Inuvik Gas Limited and the NWT Power Corporation. The Honourable Floyd Roland, MLA for Inuvik, will attend on behalf of the Government of the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all the parties involved in this project. The vision of the Inuvialuit Petroleum Corporation with its partners AltaGas and Enbridge have provided reduced energy costs and employment, training and business opportunities for residents of Inuvik and the region. Let us strive to ensure all resource development continues to provide similar benefits for Northerners. Mahsi cho.

--Applause.

Minister's Statement 2-13(8): Inuvik Natural Gas Conversion Program
Item 3: Ministers' Statements

Page 4

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Ministers' statements. Mr. Antoine.

Minister's Statement 3-13(8): Appointment Of Mr. Nick Sibbeston To The Senate
Item 3: Ministers' Statements

Page 4

Jim Antoine Nahendeh

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of the Government of the Northwest Territories to congratulate Mr. Nick Sibbeston on his recent appointment to the Senate of Canada.

--Applause

The appointment of Mr. Sibbeston as the first Senator from the new Northwest Territories is an important and historic step in the political evolution of our Territory.

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Sibbeston has a long and enviable record of public service to the people of the Northwest Territories. Mr. Sibbeston was born and raised in Fort Simpson. A long-time advocate of education, he became the first aboriginal resident of the Northwest Territories to receive his law degree.

Mr. Sibbeston served as a Member of the Legislative Assembly from Nahendeh from 1970 to 1974 and again from 1979 to 1991. During his time in the Legislative Assembly, he served as a Cabinet Minister for six years and as the Government Leader for two. Since leaving territorial politics, Mr. Sibbeston has worked as a justice specialist for the GNWT and as the public administrator overseeing the creation of the Deh Cho Health and Social Services Board.

Mr. Speaker, in appointing Mr. Sibbeston, the Prime Minister has selected a person with a great deal of experience and personal integrity. There is no doubt that he is well suited to serve the people of the Northwest Territories in the Upper Chamber.

On a personal note, I would like to thank Mr. Sibbeston for the support and sage advice that he has provided me over the past eight years that I served in this House. I ask all Members to join me in congratulating Mr. Sibbeston on this important appointment. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause.

Minister's Statement 3-13(8): Appointment Of Mr. Nick Sibbeston To The Senate
Item 3: Ministers' Statements

Page 4

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Ministers' statements. Item 4, Members' statements. Mr. Ootes.

Member's Statement 1-13(8): Concerns Of Mine Employees With The Sale Of Giant Mine
Item 4: Members' Statements

Page 4

Jake Ootes Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Good afternoon and welcome back, Members. Over the past eight months I have been closely following the Giant Mine situation, Mr. Speaker. Last week we heard that a potential buyer had possibly been found for the mine. Although no official announcement has been made regarding the identity of the buyer, the word on the street is that it is Miramar Mines. The exact details of the purchase between the receiver Price Waterhouse Cooper and the buyer has not been disclosed. What is of concern to me is the status of Giant Mines 278 employees. All along I have advocated for the continued operation of the mine for several reasons.

1. The 278 jobs at Giant Mine have a significant effect on the regional economy. Every job at Giant Mine supports another job in our local service industry.

2. The proven gold reserves at Giant Mine make it a buyable operation, as far as I have been told and that there are good reserves there.

3. The operation of Giant Mine contributes significantly to the revenues in the form of royalty payments to the NWT Power Corporation, revenues from the collection of employee payroll tax, income tax, federal taxes and so forth.

4. The retention of those employees as northern residents contributes substantially to our transfer payments that we receive from Ottawa.

From what I know about the deal today, it could potentially call for the termination of all employees at the mine, both hourly and salary.

My concern is the need for proper succession and that is the concern, of course, of the 278 employees there. Is there any guarantee that the termination process will honour the proper notice of termination, severance pay, topping off of pensions, pension payouts and transfers, priority hiring, retaining and retraining options. I need to know if and how our government has been consulted along with the Department of Indian Affairs in the receivership process? What are our governments prepared to do to ensure proper succession, fair treatment of employees and the retention of as many jobs as is feasible and possible? If we lose all 278 jobs, then this deal is disastrous for us here in Yellowknife, regionally and for the Territory. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Member's Statement 1-13(8): Concerns Of Mine Employees With The Sale Of Giant Mine
Item 4: Members' Statements

Page 5

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Members' statements. Mrs. Groenewegen.

Member's Statement 2-13(8): Election Of Georgina Rolt-kaiser As Union Of Northern Workers President
Item 4: Members' Statements

Page 5

Jane Groenewegen Hay River

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, starting off this week on a pleasant note, it is my pleasure today to congratulate the newly elected president of the Union of Northern Workers, Georgina Rolt-Kaiser. Ms. Rolt-Kaiser has been involved in the Union of Northern Workers for many years moving from shop steward to regional vice-president to president as of yesterdays vote. Her employment background is in the profession of nursing. I am confident that she will do an excellent job in leading the UNW's membership into the new millennium. Ms. Rolt-Kaiser is a hard worker, well informed and always well prepared. I am especially proud because Ms. Rolt-Kaiser is a constituent and a friend of mine.

Like the very capable president of our territorial Teachers Association, also a woman and also from Hay River, Ms. Rolt-Kaise, likewise, in her dealings with this government I know will be forthright, persistent, and professional. As I used to remind our former Finance Minister, these leaders have a job to do. They have constituents to represent just as we do and they should never be criticized for doing their utmost on behalf of their members. Mutual respect in that context will go a long way towards ensuring appropriate conditions for our valued public service and in turn, this government's ability to deliver quality services to the constituents that we represent. Once again, congratulations to Georgina Rolt-Kaiser and all the best in her term of office as president of the Union of Northern Workers. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Member's Statement 2-13(8): Election Of Georgina Rolt-kaiser As Union Of Northern Workers President
Item 4: Members' Statements

Page 5

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Members' statements. Mr. Krutko.