This is page numbers 533 - 596 of the Hansard for the 14th Assembly, 3rd Session. The original version can be accessed on the Legislative Assembly's website or by contacting the Legislative Assembly Library. The word of the day was chairman.

Topics

Members Present

Honourable Roger Allen, Honourable Jim Antoine, Mr. Bell, Mr. Braden, Mr. Delorey, Mr. Dent, Honourable Jane Groenewegen, Honourable Joe Handley, Honourable Stephen Kakfwi, Mr. Krutko, Mr. Lafferty, Ms. Lee, Mr. McLeod, Mr. Miltenberger, Mr. Nitah, Honourable Jake Ootes, Mr. Roland, Honourable Vince Steen, Honourable Tony Whitford.

-- Prayer

Item 1: Prayer
Item 1: Prayer

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The Speaker

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Good morning, everyone. Item 2, Ministers' statements. The honourable Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs, Mr. Antoine.

Jim Antoine Nahendeh

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce that on June 13th, the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Akaitcho Dene First Nations signed a political accord in Lutselk'e.

Mr. Speaker, this political accord marks the beginning of a new inter-governmental relationship between the GNWT and the Akaitcho Dene First Nations. The political accord is an important first step in building recognition and respect between both governments. As importantly, the two governments have agreed to work together in order to address important territorial-wide issues that are key to improving the economic and social well being of our residents.

Mr. Speaker, the 14th Legislative Assembly, in developing its strategic framework for the future, Towards a Better Tomorrow, committed to building and enhancing its inter-governmental relationships with aboriginal governments by fostering mutually respectful and cooperative partnerships. The political accord with the Akaitcho Dene First Nation fully supports this commitment.

Mr. Speaker, the political accord commits both governments to work together in partnership on issues that affect the Akaitcho Territory and the NWT as a whole.

Mr. Speaker, two of the specific objectives of the political accord that both governments have agreed to work in partnership on are:

  • • increasing the capacity of the Akaitcho Dene First Nations in preparation for the implementation of self-government pursuant to the Akaitcho Agreement; and
  • • the consideration of possible partnership arrangements in the area of natural resources and the sharing of resource revenues.

Mr. Speaker, it is only through open and regular dialogue with aboriginal governments and through vehicles like this political accord and the intergovernmental forum that we can, in partnership, develop a common vision for our Territory, make progress on the many challenges that face our people and take advantage of the economic opportunities in our own backyard.

Mr. Speaker, at the appropriate time today, I will table the political accord between the Akaitcho Dene First Nations and the GNWT. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

-- Applause

The Speaker

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Mahsi, Mr. Antoine. Item 2, Ministers' statements. The honourable Minister responsible for Education, Culture and Employment, Mr. Ootes.

Jake Ootes

Jake Ootes Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I would like to speak about our successful partnership with Skills Canada, a non-profit organization of business, government, labour and educational leaders who join forces to develop skilled trades and technology workers.

Skills Canada recognizes the need for young people to find out as early as high school about the opportunities available to them in trades and technology. The program goes beyond simply providing information by giving students hands-on experience in fields of interest to them. It also allows prospective employers an opportunity to participate in evaluating performance and to provide feedback that will ensure training programs meet the real needs of employers.

The success of the organization is evident, in the winning results awarded Team NWT-Nunavut at the 36th World Skills Competition in Quebec City in June. The national competition included 400 competitors in 39 events. Mr. Speaker, in the face of all that competition, our team brought home three bronze medals and a silver medal.

-- Applause

Congratulations to silver medal winners Kelly Laing-Dixon and Brie-Anne Jefferson of Yellowknife. Congratulations also to bronze medal winners Calvin Korchinos, Gord Stephenson and Ryan Byrne, also of Yellowknife.

Mr. Speaker, the Skills Canada partnership provides benefits to each of the secondary and post-secondary students who competed in local skills competitions in Fort Smith and Yellowknife, as well as those who participated in the national competition. NWT employers will reap the benefits of a program that provides young people an opportunity to try their hand at an occupation that may benefit both them and the NWT in the future.

I am sure you will agree we have much to be proud of, Mr. Speaker. I would ask that my colleagues in the Legislative Assembly join me in applauding the achievements of those students who participated in the Skills Canada competition. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

-- Applause

The Speaker

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Ootes. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Range Lake, Ms. Lee.

Bhp Employment Achievements
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Sandy Lee

Sandy Lee Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. On the eve of the last day of this Session, I would like to take a few minutes to express my appreciation for the significant role the diamond companies are playing in the North.

Mr. Speaker, there are some members of the public who believe that most of the diamond mine employees do not live in the Northwest Territories. This is not true. I recently attended a public information session held by BHP and learned that as of June 1, 2000, the company employs 440 Northerners, which constitutes 77 percent of their total workforce. Of that, 42 percent are northern aboriginals. As many as 272, or 62 percent, reside in the city of Yellowknife. As well, Mr. Speaker, this year the company has hired 35 summer students, 20 of whom are northern aboriginals, and 13 are northern non-aboriginals.

Mr. Speaker, I am aware that they are here doing what they do because it is profitable. Regardless, I want to say emphatically that we appreciate every single job they create and every single dollar they spend in the North.

I must also say, Mr. Speaker, a good many of the diamond company employees live in my riding of Range Lake, not only employees of BHP, but also of Diavik and Winspear. I know that it is very important to them that we, as a government and as a people, recognize and appreciate the positive contribution they are making to our economy and our social fabric, as the mining industry in general has done over the many decades of history in the North.

This tremendous growth in jobs came at a very opportune time, Mr. Speaker, especially for our city. Perhaps this is why it has not been as noticeable. It absolutely softened the blow of job losses as a result of the Giant Mine shutdown. For that, I am ever so thankful to the industry for enabling us to move from a gold city to the diamond capital of North America with relatively little pain.

I would also like to recognize BHP, Diavik and Winspear for the countless financial sponsorships they provide to an array of community supporting events in the city and in small communities around the city. I think we will be hard-pressed to attend any major event these days where one or all of these companies are not the major sponsors.

Mr. Speaker, I am aware that as I speak, all three diamond companies are currently navigating through the unchartered waters of our environmental regulatory process, ever so patiently and quietly. I want to express my support and encouragement to their efforts on behalf of the people of my riding. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

-- Applause

Bhp Employment Achievements
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Ms. Lee. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Tu Nedhe, Mr. Nitah.

Impact Of Lutselk'e Forest Fire
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Steven Nitah Tu Nedhe

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I want to speak about a disturbing fire that is burning 25 kilometres from the community of Lutselk'e. The fire is very close to the community. So far, more than 10,000 hectares have burned around Murphy Lake. The community wanted it fought sooner, but a decision was made only after the fire grew out of control.

Mr. Speaker, forestry says the fire has not grown since they started fighting it, but it is still burning. They say there should be no problems with the control lines if they get some rain. They have to wait for rain. This fire affects the trapping lines, caribou that eat the vegetation in the area, and many other wild animals people depend on.

With the price of fuel these days, people cannot afford to go too far from their communities to hunt. I will be asking the Minister responsible certain questions in question period. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Impact Of Lutselk'e Forest Fire
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Nitah. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Frame Lake, Mr. Dent.

Charles Dent

Charles Dent Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the UN Security Council just passed a resolution calling for a global boycott on diamonds from Sierra Leone. In June in the Edmonton Journal, there were a couple of editorials on diamonds, one calling for an international boycott of diamonds. Not only those from Sierra Leone, but all diamonds since it is so difficult to tell where diamonds have come from.

Mr. Speaker, unless we do something, there is a danger that Canadian diamonds could become part of a boycott because of the growing demand that something be done to stop the flow of so-called conflict diamonds that fuel the violence in Africa. Let us not forget what impact the fur boycott had on the northern economy and our residents. We cannot be complacent on this issue.

Mr. Speaker, we have an important stake in having a system set up that would prove to the consumer that their diamond is from Canada, and not one from Sierra Leone that has been slipped into the mix. An international system would be best, but there is so much at risk for our economy that we cannot wait for that to be set up.

We should recognize, Mr. Speaker, that our responsibility also goes beyond economics. We have a responsibility to the innocent victims of the brutal warlords in African countries like Angola, the Congo and Sierra Leone. The only way to hurt these criminals is to stop the flow of diamonds from these countries. The only way to do that without a worldwide boycott is to have some way to prove that diamonds being sold to the public are not conflict diamonds.

Mr. Speaker, I know the GNWT has had a preliminary look at a process that will allow certification of Canadian diamonds which would audit a chain of custody to prove that a diamond comes from the Northwest Territories. I believe the government should accelerate its efforts to bring such a system into play. We need to involve players like the Diamond High Council and the mining companies to develop a certification process for rough diamonds that will lead to the highest level of confidence among consumers to stave off a worldwide boycott of diamonds.

Mr. Speaker, we have the highest quality diamonds coming out of the ground in the Northwest Territories. Now we need to be able to demonstrate to the world that we are doing our part to save lives in Africa and to protect our diamond economy by developing a reputable certification process to prove to the buying public that their diamond comes from the Northwest Territories. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

-- Applause

The Speaker

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Dent. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Mackenzie Delta, Mr. Krutko.

Attracting The Oil And Gas Industry
Item 3: Members' Statements

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David Krutko

David Krutko Mackenzie Delta

Mr. Speaker, at the aboriginal leaders meeting, which was held in Fort Simpson with the oil and gas industry, they came up with an understanding to look at ownership of 51 percent of the proposed Mackenzie Valley pipeline. This is good news. Also, realizing the importance of the oil and gas industry to the Northwest Territories, ensuring that we do not lose sight that we have to continue to lobby industry, making sure that the political environment of the North is stable, and also ensuring that we have a skilled labour workforce. And that we develop a mechanism in infrastructure in the Northwest Territories to be able to take on these developments.

Just a couple of days ago, the Premier of the Yukon was in Calgary to host a luncheon with the oil and gas industry, to meet the industry and promote oil and gas in the Yukon. In light of what the Yukon is doing to lobby the oil industry in Calgary, I would like to ask this government to ensure that we, as a government, continue the lobbying efforts, working along with the aboriginal First Nations and the people of the North to ensure that we do not lose sight of the opportunities we have in front of us.

I, for one, know what it is like to see the boom bust era of the oil and gas industries. During the 1970s and 1980s, the Beaufort Sea area was full of excitement and it looked like there was going to be an industry there forever and a day, but it came and went. It has been a long wait, almost 20 years, to see the industry come back.

I think as a government, we have to do more to ensure that we take advantage of this industry and we do not take for granted that we are the only place in Canada, or in the Northwest Territories. The Yukon is also competing for the same competitors, in regards to the oil and gas industry. Trying to promote their lands, trying to entice a pipeline through the Yukon, through the Dempster corridor, and also down the Alaska Highway.

So I would like to encourage this government to ensure that they do everything they can to continue the lobbying efforts that we have done to date, and that we make more attempts to sit down with industry, answer the questions that are out there, especially regarding the regulatory process, ensuring we have a skilled workforce....

Attracting The Oil And Gas Industry
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Mr. Krutko, your time has ended for your Members' statement.

Attracting The Oil And Gas Industry
Item 3: Members' Statements

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David Krutko

David Krutko Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Attracting The Oil And Gas Industry
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker

The Speaker Tony Whitford

The Member is seeking unanimous consent to conclude his statement. Are there any nays? There are no nays, Mr. Krutko, you may continue.

Attracting The Oil And Gas Industry
Item 3: Members' Statements

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David Krutko

David Krutko Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is important that industry know that we have the tools to take on such a venture, that we have developed the infrastructure that is going to be needed to take on such a project. To ensure, as a government, that we will be able to serve the industry, the people that will be coming forth to do the work and also the communities that will be impacted by these developments, because we are talking a large scale development here.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I will be asking the Premier some questions on this matter. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Attracting The Oil And Gas Industry
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Krutko. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Inuvik Boot Lakes, Mr. Roland.

Floyd Roland

Floyd Roland Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I have been working on an issue that is of grave concern to the constituents in my community, one family in particular. I have worked on the issue with Mr. Handley to try to come to a suitable solution, but the doors seem to be closing at every avenue that is taken.

This family, Mr. Speaker, is going to be homeless, come Sunday, partly due to some of the actions of this government, partly to do with actions of a bank and the people they were renting their home from. The short of this, Mr. Speaker, was they tried to work out a solution, because he is an employee of the government, with the Department of Transportation. He tried to work out a solution from within and they had advised us that things seemed to be proceeding okay.

Based on that, they told their renters in their home in Alberta to vacate the premises, because their family would be moving down. The individual would stay up and work. That was closed. Now they have no renters, they have a mortgage and they will be out of a place in Inuvik. A family of four children, plus a mother and a father.

So the avenues seem to be closed. The only avenue that seems to be left, that might be something that can help cure this and fix it, would be the fact that the Transportation employees across the Territories, when transferred from the federal government to the Government of the NWT, had VTAs as part of their transfer. The government of the day cancelled all VTAs so that dropped. They fought that and I believe they have won in arbitration, but now they are waiting for a payout, Mr. Speaker. This payout can save this family from being homeless come this weekend.

I just received a note from the Finance Minister, saying that it is being worked on, but I will have questions for him later because this is a grave concern. Unfortunately, this family was given enough information at the time to make them believe that it was a possible thing that it could be agreed to. Within three days now, they were notified that it is not going to happen. Now they are in a panic situation. The family is in great stress, worried about what to do, and trying to find another location.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I will be questioning the Minister responsible for the Financial Management Board Secretariat on this issue, because it goes back to the accountability of the Financial Administration Act. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Roland. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Great Slave, Mr. Braden.

Tribute To Cbc Reporter, Dave Miller
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Bill Braden

Bill Braden Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The other day there were a few laughs, accent on the word few, when I referred to my illustrious days as a reporter. Today, I would like to acknowledge the role of the fourth estate here in the Northwest Territories, and for this Assembly.

Our relationship with the media, Mr. Speaker, tends to be one of mutual and wiry respect. Most days we like each other, some days, well, we might like each other a little less. The media is one of the avenues of communication for us, and indeed, a free and unrestrictive press is one of the most cherished foundations of any democracy.

The North has been a stepping stone for many reporters, Mr. Speaker. Today, I would like to recognize the achievements of another northern scribe, and no stranger to these halls, CBC's Dave Miller.

After studying economics and environmental design and architecture, Dave joined News/North for several years, then served with CBC Radio in Hay River. He got a taste of government life when he served as an assistant to this government's first elected leader, George Braden, with John Monroe, the federal Minister responsible for Northern Affairs and then with the Housing Corporation. He rejoined the CBC in 1985.

Dave's work has been recognized by the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum; Canadian Science Writer Awards, and a first prize in the Gabriel Awards. This year, Mr. Speaker, he is adding another feather to his hat, the prestigious Southern Fellowship for Journalists at the University of Toronto. The objective of this fellowship is to encourage improvement in journalism by offering an opportunity to broaden their horizons through study in the university setting.

He is one of five recipients from across Canada this year. This means, Mr. Speaker, that Dave and his family will be moving to Toronto for the year while he goes to school. Now we will have to blame someone else when the CBC gets it wrong.

It is also interesting to note, Mr. Speaker, that outside of on-the-job training, and I believe that is the best kind of training, this will be the first time Dave has gone to school for reporters. I am sure my colleagues will agree that even after 15 years on the job, Dave is showing us that it is never too late to learn.

We congratulate Dave on his fellowship. We look forward to his return next fall, Mr. Speaker, and we wish him and his family all the best in Toronto. Thank you.

-- Applause

Tribute To Cbc Reporter, Dave Miller
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Braden. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Thebacha, Mr. Miltenberger.

Michael Miltenberger

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, we face a number of great fundamental issues in the Northwest Territories. One of them, we have clearly heard, is the ownership of resources and added revenues. But another equally pressing issue that is very fundamental to the Northwest Territories is the issue of political development.

Mr. Speaker, the political and governance structures in the Northwest Territories continue to evolve. Division has come and gone, there are seven self-government tables currently in action, and as well as a Legislature, we have a sunset motion that makes it incumbent upon us to address, in the life of this Assembly, the role of this Legislature.

Mr. Speaker, the issue is very basic, in my mind. There are two systems of government that we are talking about here: self-government or the aboriginal governments, and the role of the public government. How do the two governments come together?

Mr. Speaker, I have raised this issue repeatedly through the life of the 13th Assembly. I want to raise it again in the 14th Assembly. In my mind, there is a clear role for public government at the territorial level and at the community level, especially in communities like the one I represent, which is a multicultural community. There are Metis members, non-aboriginal members, and Dene members, working and living together. There is a tremendous amount of history and intermarriage. We have to have a system of government that allows aboriginal governments and the public government to come together.

So as we look at these issues, I want to raise the need for a central public government at the territorial and community level. Very clearly, self-government is happening. It is occurring around us. It is a constitutional issue. We have been debating this. We had constitutional issues before us, last time, unresolved, resulting in the sunset clause.

So, Mr. Speaker, it is something that is not just in the purview of this Legislature. It is something that affects every man, woman and child in the Northwest Territories. I know that we can find a way for aboriginal self-government and public government to work together at all levels. Thank you.

-- Applause

The Speaker

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for North Slave, Mr. Lafferty.