This is page numbers 1397 - 1454 of the Hansard for the 14th Assembly, 6th 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 tlicho.

Topics

Supplementary To Question 432-14(6): Gwich'in Wildlife Harvesting Rights
Question 432-14(6): Gwich'in Wildlife Harvesting Rights
Item 6: Oral Questions

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The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Krutko. The honourable Minister of RWED, Mr. Antoine.

Further Return To Question 432-14(6): Gwich'in Wildlife Harvesting Rights
Question 432-14(6): Gwich'in Wildlife Harvesting Rights
Item 6: Oral Questions

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Jim Antoine Nahendeh

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Justice and RWED have people in our departments who are tasked with making sure we comply with the provisions of the land claims. Yes, I will check with the department on what exactly they're doing and what kind of positions they're taking with regard to the drafting of the Wildlife Act. Thank you.

Further Return To Question 432-14(6): Gwich'in Wildlife Harvesting Rights
Question 432-14(6): Gwich'in Wildlife Harvesting Rights
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 1416

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Antoine. Item 6, oral questions. Item 7, written questions. Item 8, returns to written questions. Item 9, replies to Opening Address. The honourable Member for Frame Lake, Mr. Dent.

Item 9: Replies To Opening Address
Item 9: Replies To Opening Address

October 10th, 2003

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The Speaker Tony Whitford

Mr. Dent's Reply

Item 9: Replies To Opening Address
Item 9: Replies To Opening Address

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Charles Dent Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I'd like to take the time with a reply to the Opening Address today, to have a bit of a look back over the past four years.

I have to say that I'm proud to have been part of the 14th Assembly. I know that I've heard some critics of the consensus system who say that we're too slow to get things done or criticize the fact that a group of us aren't elected with a mandate to push forward with. However, Mr. Speaker, I think the system works. I think that we can point to the amazing amount of legislation that we have passed in the last four years to demonstrate that the system can work.

A lot of the legislation that we've passed is not simple housekeeping legislation either. A lot of it has been very important legislation. I think probably one of the most important is the human rights legislation. I think the legislation that we passed is one of the best examples of human rights legislation in Canada. We just yesterday passed the Protection Against Family Violence Act. Again, another very important tool in the social fabric of the Northwest Territories. We passed recycling legislation. This is one that my constituents have talked to me about for a long time.

There have been an awful lot of initiatives that we have undertaken and I won't take the time to go through all of them, but I think if people were interested in taking a look at the record, we have passed an awful lot of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, we've all worked together on important initiatives and I think that has paid off. For instance, the funding for infrastructure. We all, in this House, supported the efforts of the government on that. I know I travelled to Ottawa with Premier Kakfwi and members of the Business Coalition to lobby for support, and recently we heard that we're going to start to see some money flow for that. Everyone in this House supported the Premier in the health care fight with the other Premiers. Again, it paid off. There were a number of other initiatives that you could point to.

I think it's important to note, Mr. Speaker, that we reduced taxes in recognition of the high cost of living in the North. We have one area of exception there, of course, with sin taxes. We have, in fact, increased the taxes on tobacco and alcohol and I think that's something that we have to continue to look at doing in order to reduce the use of those commodities.

I think there's a lot we can point to that we've accomplished. I would say to those who are critics of consensus that we've done not bad for a group who were elected without a mandate. Mr. Speaker, with an election coming up there will be some new faces around the table. I know we have heard at least four who will not be here when the next Assembly convenes. I would like to salute those Members.

Mr. Speaker, you, our friend and colleague, will not be seeking re-election. Mr. Speaker, you have been a very strong influence in this House and one that will be missed.

---Translation not provided

Members who have served with Mr. Whitford will not soon forget his efforts at French.

Item 9: Replies To Opening Address
Item 9: Replies To Opening Address

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An Hon. Member

Hear, hear.

Item 9: Replies To Opening Address
Item 9: Replies To Opening Address

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Charles Dent Frame Lake

He's maintained the dignity of the Speaker's position and, at the same time, encouraged an atmosphere of cooperation. I wish Mr. Speaker the very best of luck and I know that he will bring the same enthusiasm and caring that he brought to this Assembly to all of his new endeavors.

Another long-term Member leaving us is the Honourable Jake Ootes. Mr. Ootes has been a dedicated Minister and Member of the government Cabinet. As a previous Minister of Education, Culture and Employment, I know the challenges that can go with this portfolio and Mr. Ootes has risen to the challenge.

Mr. Speaker, another long-term Member that we know is leaving this House is the Honourable Jim Antoine, who is leaving to pursue other opportunities outside of territorial politics. He's been a Member of this House for a good time. In fact, we were both elected at the same time and I have fine memories of working together with Mr. Antoine on the Standing Committee on Finance and then on Cabinet. He has always demonstrated calm, quiet leadership and a real commitment to consensus government.

Mr. Speaker, another very familiar face that we will not see in this House again is that of the Premier, Stephen Kakfwi. His announcement that he will not seek re-election came as a surprise to me. I think his presence in this House has become a given for many of us and it will be strange not to see him on the floor of the House in the next Assembly. During this session I have recognized the Premier's efforts on many fronts, including the Con Mine trailer park and negotiating resource royalties and infrastructure funding with the federal government. I would like to reiterate again today my appreciation of the Premier's efforts over the past four years. So, Mr. Speaker, I would like to wish all of the departing Members of this House the best of luck with their future endeavors. They should be proud of their accomplishments and should be recognized for their long-time commitments to their constituents and all Northerners.

Mr. Speaker, it doesn't seem all that long ago that I first came to the Legislative Assembly as a first-time MLA. As a new MLA I felt privileged to be here on behalf of my constituents and I wanted to serve them well. But I needed some help. That help came in the form of the Clerk's office and specifically Mr. David Hamilton.

Mr. Speaker, we saluted Mr. Hamilton earlier in this session, but again today I would like to say how much I've enjoyed working with him and how he has always handled difficult situations with skill and professionalism. We'll miss him.

Mr. Speaker, this morning I chaired the 259th meeting of the Standing Committee on Accountability and Oversight. Two hundred and fifty-nine meetings. Some of those meetings, Mr. Speaker, were three-day affairs. Some, obviously, were very short. It's been an honour for the past four years to chair the standing committee and I'd like to point out that I think it's been a very important step in the evolution of our own style of government because it brought together in a formal committee all Members who were not part of the government, which are those who were not on Cabinet. This is the first time that group has been formalized.

It's been an interesting group to chair. All Members have goals and aspirations for their constituents in the North and oftentimes, Mr. Speaker, they are not aligned with each other. But you know, over the past four years we have come together on important issues to direct government action. Together we have made a difference.

I've enjoyed working with all Members in this House. Even when we haven't agreed, it's been obvious that each and every one is motivated by a desire to do their best for their constituents and all of the North.

Mr. Speaker, last week the Premier said he has the best job, well maybe. Mine has been pretty good too. I couldn't have done it without the support of a lot of people who have worked in this Assembly building in the research department. I'd like to recognize too the support that I have received over the years from some really great constituency assistants, first of all Robert Redshaw, then Allison McCambridge, Sahara Pawluk and right now Katherine Robinson.

Mr. Speaker, I have also been able to do this job because my family has allowed it, and I appreciate the support that I get from my wife Eileen and son Tyler. Mr. Speaker, since I enjoy this job and since I think I make a difference in doing it, I plan to seek my constituents' support to keep on doing the job for another four years. So, Mr. Speaker, to those who are leaving I bid you farewell and I look forward to working with those who return after the election. Thank you.

---Applause

Item 9: Replies To Opening Address
Item 9: Replies To Opening Address

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The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Dent. Item 9, replies to Opening Address. The honourable Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes, Mr. Allen.

Hon. Roger Allen's Reply

Item 9: Replies To Opening Address
Item 9: Replies To Opening Address

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Roger Allen Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In my introduction, l'd like to speak a bit about when we first got elected and first entered this Chamber in early January of 2000. In my opening remarks to my colleagues and to people of the Northwest Territories as a relatively unknown, that while I had served many years first in the capacity for the Mackenzie Delta, I still remain committed to that opening statement. I came in knowing that I would never make changes, but only influence changes as we progressed in our evolution. Certainly, like everybody else, I am really proud and very happy to have represented the riding of Inuvik Twin Lakes, a new riding, but one which consists of many different ethnicities, a very large disparity in the social economics in my riding and I have stated that many times. As Ministers, we don't have the ability quite often enough to express the way our ridings are treated, but certainly and hopefully the way things have developed over the last four years, my riding got as much respect as others.

Mr. Speaker, I'm notoriously known to be very quiet and I want to say that I am a better listener than a speaker. I have listened to the constituents across the Northwest Territories and I have done that through a lot of community visitations. I have sat face to face with community leaders, with community constituents who have had serious questions about housing, about justice, about youth, about the high cost of public utilities and, again, how we should deal with issue promises, and many other portfolios I have had the pleasure of representing on behalf of other Ministers.

As I quote my colleague from Tu Nedhe that I am "a man of action, a man of few words," and I would like to say that I have done it well. Also I would like to talk about some of the areas where we have worked together collectively, and I want to quote a bit of an excerpt from the Inuvik Drum, October 2nd, in saying that "and may it point out that the consensus government does not work very well for Inuvik. We can hope that everything will work in the spirit of cooperation and consensus but the territorial government has not been the best example of that. Inuvik has sat on the outside for 15 years without any capital funding." Mr. Speaker, when I talk about teamwork, I include my honourable colleague from Inuvik Boot Lake, and certainly at the beginning of this Assembly, Inuvik was not treated fairly and I can sincerely agree with a lot of the comments raised by the small communities which always had the problem of how capital should be shared across the North and how our priorities should be set.

I want to say that I am pleased that in my short term I have had the privilege of standing with eight new Members for the 14th Assembly, that Inuvik in the last four years has reached the pinnacle, the pinnacle that is in excess of $60 million in new capital investments in our small town. They very well deserve it. That included the new hospital, young offenders facility, the repaving of the airport runway, and many new housing developments including new land developments that were well needed and required.

Mr. Speaker, I am not here to take the credit. I think it involves the Assembly, and the Minister is just one of six privileged Members to be able to sit down and help reach some decisions. I certainly want to talk a bit about the importance of the Members across the hall here that offer questions on where we are going with policy development and how we should meet the growing demands of all constituents. I too have taken a lot of Christmases of not being home which I am not afraid to say today that I feel privileged that I could not only serve my constituents but the constituents across the Northwest Territories.

Also, I want to commend the mentorship I have received in this House from my honourable colleague, Jim Antoine, who mentored me in my early beginnings and still today, has a profound impact on the way I present myself in this House and across the Northwest Territories.

There is a gentlemen in this House as well that I want to say had profound effect on myself in learning the procedural process and that is my esteemed colleague from Nunakput, Minister Steen, who I claim is the dean of rules and procedures, and we learned over the course of our short tenure here to respect his invaluable assistance and knowledge.

In the absence of Minister Handley, I want to say that because of his eloquence, being able to stand up and share in the joy and smile a lot and, again, as I recall one important question was raised by the Member for Deh Cho, and asked what he was going to do about the buffalo roaming the town he said well I hope that now that winter is coming that the buffalo will leave their urban settings and move back into the wilderness. So those are things you remember as a jovial part of our work.

Certainly, I have sat through many meetings across the Northwest Territories and they often ask me what Michael Miltenberger is like to work with and I said that he is our in house political scientist and I have a lot of respect for Mr. Miltenberger because he has often given us a lot of excellent advice on how we should deal with situational problems often raised in this House.

Mr. Ootes, again, my colleague to my left, fortunately we both share one thing in common and that is we are both hearing impaired so I am glad he can hear in his right ear and I can hear in my left so we often have to pull off our ear pieces and talk to one another, and when Mr. Antoine is up with his standing committee with his staff we want to reconfigure his seating arrangements so we can have a few extra things to see. Only Mr. Antoine will know what I am talking about.

So everyone has valuable input and I'll save the best for last and I want to personally give my quiet and share in my quiet respect for the Premier. Again, I have sat for four years relatively quiet, throughout a lot of deliberations, but it is only those who have the privilege of sitting there and watching him guide the deliberations, the discussions and coming out to some conclusion, that that respect is certainly something I wanted to talk about today.

Mr. Speaker, I hope I didn't miss anyone here. I wanted to say in my concluding remarks that I had the privilege as a young adult to gain a lot of experience. I had also achieved a lot as a young man, in four short years, Mr. Speaker, and I am glad the chair or the Speaker would change seats because Mr. Krutko would know what I am talking about as an athlete. Careers are very short in athletics and they are also very short in politics. We know that, we are at the vulnerability of our voters and I want to say in concluding, it has been a real privilege to represent this small riding, but not only that, it is also a privilege to work with all of the advocacy groups across the Northwest Territories and with those who continue to pursue excellence. Excellence in the local forum and without doubt, many of us will pursue that.

So, Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate everyone who is going to be departing, and I know from our side there will be three departing Members, which I will thoroughly miss, and I certainly want to say to them that sincerely I wish you more future endeavors. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Item 9: Replies To Opening Address
Item 9: Replies To Opening Address

Page 1419

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Allen. Item 9, replies to Opening Address. Mr. Bell.

Mr. Bell's Reply

Item 9: Replies To Opening Address
Item 9: Replies To Opening Address

Page 1419

Brendan Bell Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wanted to take this time here today, Mr. Speaker, to thank a number of people and maybe more importantly, not to try to talk about the good things that I think this Assembly or I personally have done. I'll be seeking re-election, there is plenty of time for that and as it should be the voters that will have the decision as to whether or not I have done an adequate job.

Mr. Speaker, I do want to take the opportunity here to thank my entire family, all of who live in the Northwest Territories and are still here. This has been, certainly, and I can say without a doubt, the best four years of my life and everybody knows, I think certainly the people in this room, that this can be a difficult job at times but it is a wonderful job, it is the best job as well. The thing about family I guess, Mr. Speaker, that is so important, is that you are going to have good days, you are going to have bad days. You are going to have days when you haven't made the best of decisions and others when you have, but family, certainly my family have always been there with unconditional love and support for me and I certainly appreciate that.

We are in the limelight a lot of the time and are criticized quite frequently, rightly or wrongly, but I think the fact that my family is always happy to see me come home at the end of the day no matter how good or bad the day has been has certainly been rewarding for me.

I want to mention five very important colleagues leaving this House. Stephen, Jim, Jake, Tony and Dave Hamilton. You know, I have learned a lot from these five very important people, and I have learned a lot by watching them, their quiet leadership, the fact that they lead by example has been something that I have been able to watch and pick up and understand and appreciate. Certainly there have been many times when we've had disagreements, Mr. Speaker, fundamental disagreements, about issues and I think that this is something that a number of people in the public could talk to me about that have said there is such a disagreement on certain issues, how can you continue to come to work and work with folks day in and day out and put these issues behind you. I think it would be very difficult, Mr. Speaker, if I had any doubts about their commitment to the people of the Northwest Territories. We may disagree on issues extremely at times, but I have never doubted these five folks. I have never doubted their unwavering commitment to the people of the Northwest Territories and I think that's certainly what makes the difference and allows us to move past certain issues and continue to move forward, try to move the bars and ensure that our reach continues to exceed our grasp.

Mr. Speaker, I can never repay these five people for this, for what they have been able to do for me quietly. I guess about the best I can offer them is that should I be successful and be fortunate enough to come back to this House, I will in my own quiet way try to do what they have done for me and for new Members, if I can be of any help, I will certainly offer that as they have done for me.

I'd like, Mr. Speaker, to thank maybe most importantly the work on behalf of my constituents done by my assistant, Mary Anne Woytuik, who has been with me the entire four years. This is a person who truly gets up every day wanting to help people and it has made such a difference in my job and it has been inspiring for me. She continues to try to do better for our constituents. I appreciate that and this would have been so much more difficult without her. I want to thank her for sticking with me through these four years and certainly thank her for all the work she has done on behalf of our constituency.

I have made a lot of friends in staff in the GNWT over the course of four years. I have been fortunate enough to work with the people in this building, a very professional, committed group of people. I have learned a lot from them. A number of GNWT staff as well, especially in my role as chair of the Standing Committee on Social Programs and I have had quite a number of dealings with people in the social envelope departments and there are some excellent top shelf people working in this government and I appreciate what they are doing on behalf of all the people across the Northwest Territories.

I particularly want to mention two gentlemen who have worked closely with me on the Social Programs committee. David Inch, the Clerk of Committees; if he tires out he never shows but he never seems to tire reminding me of the same simple fundamental rules of chairing committees, always there with the cheat notes for me. It seems that something happens when you get into the chair of committee, you suddenly start to forget things like your own name and Dave Inch has always been there to help me and remind me and make me certainly look much better than I have been and I appreciate that. Robert Collinson, in research, as well. There are many nights, if we think it is difficult for us going home at 8:00 in the evening, I tell you we task our research people after we leave at 8:00 with coming up with volumes of work by 8:00 the next morning, they are not going home until much later, Mr. Speaker. I know that and quite often I don't think I acknowledge that enough, but I would like to thank Robert for his hard work over these four years.

I would like to thank all of my colleagues. I have made a number of very close friends here among the 19 of you, but especially let me say that I have new found respect, I think over the course of four years, for my out-of-town colleagues. I know how difficult session is now. I go to work in the morning when my young daughter is still asleep, I come home at night and she is asleep again. I don't dare wake her up so I can only sit there and watch her sleep, Mr. Speaker. But for the colleagues of mine who are from out of town who have to go away for weeks on end and come to Yellowknife and can't be with their families, it is amazing that they stay the course and are that committed, and I know that their constituents appreciate them for that.

Lastly, let me say thank you to my constituents for putting their trust in me. I didn't come into this job with a 10-page resume and 30 years of work experience, and they took a flyer on me, put their trust in me and I will certainly never forget that. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Item 9: Replies To Opening Address
Item 9: Replies To Opening Address

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The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Bell. Item 9, replies to Opening Address. The honourable Member for Nahendeh, Mr. Antoine.

Hon. Jim Antoine's Reply

Item 9: Replies To Opening Address
Item 9: Replies To Opening Address

Page 1420

Jim Antoine Nahendeh

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Colleagues, it is an honour and a privilege to stand in this House today. It is my last day to be in the House. I just want to say that I appreciate the opportunity to reflect today on my three terms in office as an MLA serving the people of Nahendeh and the Northwest Territories and Legislative Assembly.

I made it public that I wasn't going to run again. I did that on June 24th at Kakisa during the Deh Cho Assembly and I did it in my language because leaders and representatives of most of the communities that I represent were there and I did it in my language because I figured that they elected me so I wanted them to hear first in our own language. So it would give an opportunity for whoever is thinking of taking over, it would give them enough time since June to consider it and rearrange their affairs so that they would probably try to take on this position. I will leave this House with the personal satisfaction of having assisted in improving the lives and the prospects for all the people in the Northwest Territories.

MLA Charles Dent and I entered this House together in 1991. We moved from the Yellowknife Inn to this new Assembly building and as I move on to other challenges, I can wonder who aged the most over those 12 years. Mr. Speaker, although the Member for Frame Lake may have acquired more white hair during his three terms, I want to remind him that I came to Yellowknife as the father of four and I am leaving here as a grandfather.

---Laughter

In my previous political careers as well, Mr. Speaker, in the communities as a chief, living in the communities we don't have occasion to wear a suit and tie and I remember when I first got elected in 1991, I was told that I had to come here and wear a suit, and I knew I had a pretty decent sport jacket in the closet so I dug it out and the sleeves were rolled up and there was a bit of red and green paint on it, so I asked my wife Celine what happened to my jacket and she said well one of the kids used it for a Halloween costume last year.

---Laughter

So I had to clean it off and that is how I showed up here. Since that time a lot of things have changed. We have learned how to dress and I guess we call the suit and tie our work clothes here. Mr. Speaker, in my second term it was a compliment from the Member for Thebacha who always comments on this side of the House that as Ministers we look like a bunch of undertakers. So we must have deemed a new style befitting the position of Cabinet at that time. I cannot forget the fashion statement made by my colleague from Mackenzie Delta, Mr. Krutko, who provided the new style, I think it is called the Dene Disney Chic.

Mr. Speaker, at the beginning of the third term, we witnessed different dress styles from the new crop of MLAs, including my friend and colleague, the tall and lanky Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes. So when Mr. Allen showed up, he was wearing a very short tie and our fashion guru from Thebacha made a comment correlating the length of his tie and the next day Mr. Allen showed up with a very long tie. Since then he has learned how to dress very well.

In all seriousness, Mr. Speaker, the past 12 years have been very challenging and also very rewarding. We did not scare at the difficult issues, we met them head on, we met fiscal challenges, we created two new territories, we encourage and support huge economic development projects, we negotiated land claims and self-government agreements, we have protected vast areas of land and built a very strong case for devolution of responsibilities and resource revenues from the Government of Canada. We are on the right track and the future government must bring home more of the bacon.

It has been a very great honour to have had an opportunity with the dedicated colleagues here in the House. Premier Stephen Kakfwi, who is also not going to be running, will be pursuing other walks of life. I have always took their approach as my role in Cabinet with him as Premier that I was working with Stephen Kakfwi and taking on the different challenges that came our way.

Joe Handley goes to work too early for me, something like 6:00 or 7:00 and he stays late and is very dedicated and he will probably continue to do that. My colleague Mike Miltenberger has been a very quiet commentator and given very quiet, solid political advice and he tries to beat Joe here every morning at work and he is a good asset to this government and to the Legislative Assembly.

Another person that is going to leave is Jake Ootes who was here for eight years, the last four years as Cabinet Minister, and he is also dedicated and was very committed to his work and he will be missed in this Legislative Assembly.

My colleague Vince Steen has been a solid Cabinet Member. He repeats and looks at everything and asks a lot of tough questions in Cabinet and you have to be ready to answer him.

Our friend and colleague Roger Allen from Inuvik Twin Lakes has been a solid support and we come from a similar background so we understand what we are talking about when we talk about small communities, aboriginal, we are also involved in business so it was a pleasure meeting and working with all of them.

With the political and business leaders we have worked very closely with them. I have really enjoyed my time in Cabinet and working in all of the areas, and also with all the different residents from across the North. In our travels to the different communities, attending different conferences, it was always very enjoyable to meet people in the North. I see it as we are all working together to shape a Northwest Territories that will serve the best interests of the generations to follow. Our residents that live in the communities, and I must say that in all the communities, our infrastructures are in place, there might be an odd one or two that needs it in place but generally what we have done over the last four years and even before that, we have put in really good infrastructures in our communities.

I had the opportunity to travel to other parts of this country, even into Alaska, and about four years ago when I was in Alaska, there were about 200 communities in there that still had honey buckets compared to none in our communities. So we have done really well in terms of putting in really solid, good infrastructures in our communities and our people are enjoying a better standard of living. They have access to a healthy environment and country foods. Residents have a growing number of interests in employment and business opportunities that we have never seen before and access to a wide range of essential public programs and services.

It is my contention, Mr. Speaker, that we cannot afford to rest on our laurels, and the future governments and leaders must continue to work towards improving opportunities for our people, especially for our youth. I am confident that we know now more clearly than ever where we want to go as people from the North. However, everyone has responsibility to strive to improve their own lives. Everybody blames the government for almost everything that comes up but there are people in our communities who are doing things on their own and not everybody is depending on government and that is what we should strive to improve, their lives and to contribute to their prosperity in the Northwest Territories. The main goal of government is to create a political climate to support our residents and their families in this task.

Mr. Speaker, I was elected by the people of Nahendeh in 1991 and I was returned to office twice afterwards, in 1995 and 1999. I owe much gratitude to the people I represent. I represent one of the larger constituencies in geographic size in the Northwest Territories. I represent the southwestern corner of the Territories and I want to thank the people from Jean Marie River, Trout Lake, Fort Liard, Nahanni Butte, Wrigley and Fort Simpson, for placing their trust in me over the last 12 years. As the largest constituency in the Northwest Territories, Nahendeh will continue to face many challenges and opportunities. I trust I responded in a timely manner to the concerns and brought forward the suggestions they have made directly to me in my many visits in their communities. I am proud to be from Nahendeh and it has been an honour to serve the people through this Legislative Assembly.

I will continue to lend my support and assistance to whoever gains your trust in the upcoming election and that will take the role as the MLA for Nahendeh. I had the privilege to work with the aboriginal community leaders from across the Northwest Territories as the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and I want to thank all of my aboriginal colleagues from the North to the South for their cooperation and guidance that they have provided me over the years. The First Nations, Inuvialuit and Metis are the original custodians of our land. We have learned to share this responsibility with other Northerners and together we have proven that we can all improve the quality of life for our people by working together.

My elders encouraged me to work with everyone for the benefit of everyone. I trust the spirit of cooperation will continue as we face future challenges together. I have always been fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with political and business leaders across Canada and internationally on issues and initiatives impacting us here in the Northwest Territories. The Northwest Territories is now clearly on the international radar screen, not only as a growing diamond mining and hydro carbon reduction economy, but it is an evolving political jurisdiction which is balancing the collective rights of aboriginal people with the individual rights of Canadian citizenry. This acknowledgement is particularly rewarding for the MLA for Sahtu and myself, and many other NWT aboriginal leaders who have long sought a more meaningful role for aboriginal people in the decisions related to our land.

I feel more than ever that we're moving forward together as Northerners. New businesses to the NWT are learning to work within our unique framework. We demand, expect and are prepared to work hard to ensure that Northerners benefit directly and meaningfully on the development of our natural resources.

Now it is up to the Government of Canada to turn over control and benefits of development of the North to the people of the North where it has always belonged. We are contributing increasingly to Canada's prosperity, and deserve access to fiscal resources required to build a healthy future for our future generations.

I owe a debt of gratitude to my staff who have supported and advised me over the years. I have to say, Mr. Speaker, that I have had very good staff in my political office as a Minister's office. I just want to mention currently my executive secretary is Bernie Mandeville who is very energetic and has been very helpful. I want to mention Sue Fleck who is very thorough in all her work. Edith Mack has helped me since 1995 in different roles. I want to mention Pietro Debastiani who has also been my EA in the past. Phil Mercredi worked with me for a while. Rosa Wright also helped me very well. I was fortunate to have excellent support staff at the Legislative Assembly, as well. Especially the advice of the long-standing Clerk -- whose last day was yesterday -- Mr. David Hamilton, and the staff who work with him who have supported me as an MLA first when I was an ordinary MLA and the chair of the Standing Committee on Finance.

I have also been fortunate to have great support from my staff in my constituency office in Fort Simpson that took care of my affairs in my constituency. I have to mention Pearl Norwegian who is no longer with me, but she really helped me out in the last few years. Now Derek Erasmus will be helping me until the end of my term. So with the excellence of great support of staff in my ministerial office and in the departments for which I have had the opportunity...Over the years I have held many responsibilities besides my principal duty as MLA for Nahendeh.

I wish to express heartfelt thanks to the past and present staff in the following departments: Safety and Public Services, which no longer exists but of which I was a Minister; Transportation; Public Works and Services; Executive; Justice; Municipal and Community Affairs; and now Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development and Aboriginal Affairs. I want to especially recognize the two deputy ministers. Bob McLeod, deputy minister of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development, who I have had the opportunity to work with for the last couple of years in this department and he has been an excellent, hard worker; and all the staff who work in RWED. It's a huge department with many responsibilities. I just want to say that as a Minister we go to federal/provincial/territorial meetings with our counterparts, and there are 11 of the FPTs. So I could be travelling every day of every week of the whole year if I really wanted to, but we have to prioritize and our duties up here come first. So I attend many meetings and they've done excellent work.

Aboriginal Affairs; of course, Rick Bargery, deputy minister, and all the staff in the department, especially the negotiations who have done excellent, hard work over the last few years that I'm aware of. I'd like to thank them all for their support and working with me. I want to say to them that you're all consummate professionals, and the people of the North are well served by your dedication to your work.

Mr. Speaker, I have always believed that the role of government is to get things done. Right from the beginning as a Minister, I told my staff I want to get things done. I don't want to talk about it anymore; I think there are places where we discuss and do reviews, but our job is to get things done. Not identify things that should be done or talk about it, but I wanted to get things done. Sometimes it has been very frustrating if we couldn't get things done.

The government is here to effectively provide programs and services. In my travels across the Northwest Territories I am constantly reassured to see our own people striving to deliver services. The regions and communities are the clients we serve and we must never forget that. Although many decisions are made in the capital here in Yellowknife, the intention is to support the delivery of programs and services outside of the capital region. Public works in our regions and communities require our support and encouragement in delivering essential services often in very difficult circumstances. I would like to thank them all again for their dedication and commitment to the jobs that they're doing very well.

In closing, I want to thank once again all the people in Nahendeh for their continued support, advice and encouragement, and their prayers through my 12 years as MLA and the last eight years as a Cabinet Minister in this government.

I really want to thank all the people in Nahendeh, in the North, even in Yellowknife who have been trying to encourage me to run again. But my decision is pretty solid. I think I've done the best I could in the circumstances. I've done 12 years and the only promise I ever made to my constituents is that I will try the best I can. I didn't promise them buildings or anything, I just said I would try the best I can. That's all anybody can do in the circumstances.

When I first agreed to seek this office representing the people of Nahendeh, my family backed me up 100 percent, and they have adjusted their lives over the past 12 years to meet my hectic and often unpredictable schedule. I look forward to spending more time now with my family to keep up with the personal development of my children: Denezeh, Melaw, Sachey and Tumbah and to share the joys of life with my daughter-in-law Heather and my grandson K'a. Our family is now patiently awaiting the birth of Denezeh's and Heather's second child.

Mr. Speaker, I'm confident that we are building a strong future for our children and grandchildren. I encourage the next government to keep in mind who they are serving, and to respect all points of views, to make good things happen, and to not only dress smartly but also comfortably, and most of all you have to be leaders. The people in the North look to us and will look to you to be leaders, to make decisions, and to sometimes make bold decisions that you know have to be right.

I just want to say that it has been a real honour to work with all the past and present Members of this House. We have to keep moving on and forward. I will be watching your progress with interest and it is time for me to return home and spend more time with my family and to visit the places where we should be. Actually, right now we should all be moose hunting or something, but we're here. But that sort of stuff I will be doing next fall.

Nahendeh is a very special place and I look forward to returning home. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Item 9: Replies To Opening Address
Item 9: Replies To Opening Address

Page 1422

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Antoine. With that, I would like to wish you all the best wherever your journey takes you. I'm sure we'll see you around. Item 9, replies to Opening Address. Member for Great Slave, Mr. Bill Braden.

Mr. Braden's Reply

Item 9: Replies To Opening Address
Item 9: Replies To Opening Address

Page 1422

Bill Braden Great Slave

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Four years ago I asked for this job because I believed I could make a contribution to running a government and maybe I could even make a difference. I asked for this job because I believed my community was heading into an era of huge, new opportunities. We would be challenged not only by how we managed these opportunities themselves, but also how we managed the impacts on our way of life. I believe that our system of governing, as we fondly call it this consensus system, was not serving us well. I wanted to see what I could do to advance the issues of accountability, responsiveness and confidence in government. I believed, Mr. Speaker, that the new NWT -- and it was only a few months old then, back in 1999 -- could really break through. We could really be a have territory, we could be moving mountains on the land claim and self-government front, and we could be turning the corner on a shameful litany of social ills, abuse and crime.

Our performance after four years has predictably been a mix of highs and lows on all fronts. I won't go into an inventory of all those issues and what we did, that's all a matter of record, Mr. Speaker, and I look forward to engaging in these issues with my constituents in the days ahead. Rather, I'd like to address the areas of economy, of leadership and community. These are the three planks that I ran on four years ago and I would like to take this time to account for what has happened since December of 1999. More important, I believe, is that I want to look forward to see how we can manage these issues ahead.

Opportunities must be seized where they occur, and I believe that is what Yellowknife has done. We have seen our government, through the leadership of the Premier and the Ministers, set terms on diamond allocations that has stimulated well over $10 million in sorting and cutting plant investment and 100 new jobs in Yellowknife. In the next few years, Mr. Speaker, we can see this double and we can see it move into other NWT communities, as well, and we should be looking for other ways of capitalizing on the diamond boom and add to the diversity of this amazing gift of nature.

Mr. Speaker, we're in the midst of a long-anticipated sunset of Yellowknife's gold mining industry. This brings with it disruption to jobs, to families and, of course, to our economy. But is also brings the responsibility to manage it properly in human terms and for the environment, and this includes the enormous task and the investment required in cleaning up two of Canada's oldest producing mines.

Our city has enjoyed the prosperity of unprecedented growth in stores and services and business, it's brought new competition and benefits to consumers, and we've seen our volunteer sector grow, Mr. Speaker. We've seen added new activities and sports and cultural venues grow in the city, and I believe we are a larger, stronger, more stable and more diverse community.

The latest in a series of achievements in land claims and self-government is before us. It is coming into force with the Tlicho government over the next decade with four neighbouring communities to Yellowknife. We'll have the tools to become the unified nation they have worked so hard for. This can only be a new opportunity for this community, as well, for I believe our joint prosperity is linked. And look, Mr. Speaker, we're finally going to get that road finished and we're actually going to get a bridge built; finally.

We've seen remarkable growth in housing in this community. The private sector has responded vigorously to the need, but we're still faced with the enormous challenge of affordability. It is crushing for many of our families and workers in low and middle-income brackets, and if we are to sustain our growth and success we've got to put housing at the front our agenda.

Housing, Mr. Speaker, is only one of the problem consequences of the boom. There are many others. We see a disturbing upwards spiral in domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, family neglect and crime. Careless and risky behaviour especially among our youth is epidemic. We find ourselves telling our children and visitors to the city to stay away from the downtown area after 10:00. We all share a sense of shame and frustration at this, Mr. Speaker. What can we do to take back our town? Several dozen, I think perhaps a couple hundred of us, walked one evening just a few weeks ago in the Take Back the Night march led by the NWT Status of Women Council. We can also look forward to actions like that of the Yellowknife Homelessness Coalition, the coalition for community wellness, new work by the RCMP as ways that can make a difference. As a community we must realize that we have to take ownership of this crisis if we are to solve it.

Our government in this area has to catch up with its own record of neglect, Mr. Speaker. For too many years we have denied our communities across the NWT the investment and hard work that should have gone into the prevention and treatment and follow-up programs to tackle the issues of abuse and violence. My constituents have told me absolutely clearly the social agenda is the priority for the next government.

Mr. Speaker, when we go to the polls on November 24th we'll be electing the territorial decision-makers for the next four years. These MLAs will be using what we call the consensus government system as their way to make those decisions. One of the reasons I ran four years ago was because I felt this system wasn't up to its fullest potential, it was sluggish, it was bogged down with having to make too many compromises and trying to accommodate too many agendas to be responsive and agile in our fast-moving territory. If we were to take a poll to test the level of confidence and trust that our people have in us, I think we'd find, Mr. Speaker, that we're losing a lot of ground; in fact, we might well find that we're underground. Indeed, I see voter turnout slipping steadily over the past several years, and that alone is a significant measure of how much we count.

We've seen other signals that pass judgment on our consensus system. The NDP, the New Democratic Party, have twice floated the scenario of bringing party politics in to advance their agenda through a slate of candidates. More recently, a business-based coalition has tested the party process as a way of getting us to pay attention to what is seen as a fundamental weakness, a lack of accountability. We should not dismiss either of these, Mr. Speaker. They are strong messages from voters trying to tell us that we're not delivering on their expectations of due government.

So what do we do about it? I suggest two approaches. One is to look in our own backyard, Mr. Speaker, and address the way we manage governance with our own boards and agencies and departments. I look with dismay at how we blew up two of our most senior boards -- the Power Corporation and the Stanton Territorial Hospital -- and I believe this is a result of our failure to govern properly on our part. If we are to really see some progress, we have to take aggressive measures, Mr. Speaker, we have to cut back and streamline the number of boards and agencies we've created. We should not be hesitant about realigning and redistributing our own departments to suit our changing needs. We need to address capacity, communication, monitoring and compliance, and reset our directions. After all, we've been building this government, basically from scratch, for the last 30 years. Some of it isn't working. The status quo is not an option. Let's rebuild.

Here in this legislature, we need to rethink the way we do business, Mr. Speaker. The past four years, I believe, have seen walls and barriers developed between our Cabinet, our Caucus and the committees. We've seen too many arbitrary decisions and reactions, and a breakdown in collaboration way outside the sphere of intended consensus. We have hobbled ourselves. We can do better through a new approach to governance.

Mr. Speaker, my second approach is to give the voters of the Northwest Territories more of a say in who the leadership would be for the Northwest Territories. One aspect of our election system is that the voter has little on which to pin his or her expectations, other than the track record and the reputation of the candidates in their riding. We can't make pledges, we can't make promises as individual candidates, Mr. Speaker, we can't pledge accountability when things don't go our way. We're only one of 19 Members who will be in this House. What can we do to give the voter more to go on when they go to the polls? My approach is to focus on the gap that exists between the voter and how our leadership is chosen.

Sometimes, Mr. Speaker, when I look at a newly-elected provincial government it's with a little bit of envy, that's because the day they get elected and voted into office, they have a mandate from a majority of their people on what to do. They can start on day one to fulfill their promises, with a leadership regime that's already tested and together.

Our consensus approach in reality is the reverse of this. We form an Assembly after the election as a group more or less of strangers. We select our Premier and Cabinet almost entirely on good faith, with a regional mix for geopolitical reasons thrown in and, Mr. Speaker, we do this almost entirely in secret. These MLAs then become the government. They then try to assemble together with all the MLAs to present a collective vision and a mandate for the next four years. In short, Mr. Speaker, in an Assembly we wander in the woods for about three months before we can really sit down to the task of governing with a direction that we can have some agreement on, and all of this time the voter has had no say or influence in who these people are going to be in government or what the vision and the objective is going to be. It's no wonder that they challenge our accountability.

What are the remedies? There are many options to look at. Indeed, Members of the 12th Assembly back in 1994 looked at these very issues, and couldn't break through or at least not without tricky challenges to election law and practice and convention.

Mr. Speaker, I'm not going to offer some sweeping new revelation or some enormous bold new move. I think things like this have to be taken in measured, careful steps.

A solution in this is to issue a challenge to any would-be Premier to declare their interest in the office now. Don't wait until after the election and our secret process here. Don't hide in the midst of that process that we have used in the past. I challenge those candidates to say now that they want the job and what they plan to do in the job. I want to know their priorities, their values and their ideas, and so do the voters, Mr. Speaker. They deserve to know this in the full openness of an election campaign, so that when I go door to door and seek my constituents' views, we will have something new and exciting to talk about: who the next leader could be. It's the kind of discussion that we've never been able to have at the door or in our meetings before in the Northwest Territories, Mr. Speaker, and I believe it's time we do. It will enable me to bring the voice of the voter into the ballot box that will be sitting on this floor in December.

Mr. Speaker, this is not a difficult step. It requires no changes in rules or new convention, no consensus of opinion. The hard part is for those candidates who believe they can and could be the next Premier, to step outside of that comfort zone, that secret zone that we've created here, and take their ideas to the door.

Mr. Speaker, I've talked about this idea a lot in the past few months. Some people who have listened to it have called it the start of party politics. It's a slippery slope that we want to avoid, and indeed I do not want party politics. But you know, I think there's another aspect to it. I think we could look at it as something that we already know and that we're already very familiar with here in the NWT and across Canada, because this is the way, isn't it, that we elect our mayors and our chiefs in our towns and villages and cities, the way we elect our band councils and the leaders of our First Nations. The voter deserves a chance to say who the leader is going to be. I think this is a way that we could advance that in our next election.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I want to say that this is a job I truly like. I like getting up in the morning and coming to work here, or maybe somewhere else in the city or in another community in the NWT or Canada, and seeing what's new. Believe me, there's always something new. The satisfaction from being involved in the teamwork and seeing results. Most gratifying is when a constituent facing an issue asks for help and I can make a difference, and I've had that satisfaction many, many times.

Mr. Speaker, these results aren't gained by working alone. We're well served by a staff of professionals. Living a life by political rules, public law is not to be taken lightly, and here again we have our clerks and administration backup to see us through. We've been ably served by our Conflict of Interest Commissioner, the Honourable Ted Hughes, and I thank him for his respectful, steady guidance.

Many of our issues involve some level of bureaucracy in working with staff, and I thank those people especially for their patience, and sometimes their tolerance, of a rooky MLA who was trying perhaps a bit too hard to get something done. I've learned a lot about teamwork and some of those lessons haven't been easy in the give and take of debates, discourse here among 19 politicians.

On more than one issue I've often thought to myself how can someone be so stupid about something, and then I realized they probably think exactly the same of me and I feel better or at least perhaps I feel human.

I salute those Members, Mr. Speaker, who are retiring from the political arena: Mr. Kakfwi, Mr. Antoine, Mr. Ootes, and yourself, Mr. Speaker, for my appreciation, my admiration and my expectation that somewhere, sometime we will be seeing each other again in some avenue of public service.

I am especially grateful to my constituency assistant for four years, John Argue. John came to me with almost 30 years of experience in the territorial civil service, and with a volunteer record and a familiarity with this city that I doubt could be matched by anyone. John, you helped me shine in the good days and you polished me up on the not so good ones. I value your loyalty above all. Thank you.

It's to my family that I owe my greatest appreciation and affection. My wife Val and my daughters Rae and Carmen tolerated, comforted and gave me their unflagging confidence. I am especially indebted to my daughters, because if ever I started to sound pompous or fake or, heaven forbid, political about anything, they tackled me hard. I'm blessed to have an extended family here, Mr. Speaker, my mother, three brothers and their families, all of whom accepted my ambitions and the risk that it involved.

It's a great time to be in the NWT and to have the trust of the people in the riding of Great Slave to represent them in this Assembly for the last four years. I hope to return for the next four. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause