This is page numbers 1355 - 1396 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

Bill 34: Tlicho Land Claims And Self-government Agreement Act
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1383

The Chair David Krutko

General comments. Mr. Dent.

Bill 34: Tlicho Land Claims And Self-government Agreement Act
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1383

Charles Dent Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, first of all, I would like to congratulate the Tlicho people on their significant achievement. I was at the signing ceremony in Rae and I know how important an historic event the signing of the agreement was. I voted in favour of the principle of the bill on second reading, so from what I have seen of the bill and the agreement, it appears to be good, but therein, Mr. Chairman, lies the problem: time; the amount of time that I have had to see the agreement. Until a couple of weeks ago, the government kept telling us that we would not be dealing with the Tlicho legislation, so I had thought that we had some time to get to know and understand the agreement and the legislation that would be ratifying it, and then at the last minute we are being pushed to conclude the legislation quickly. I have to say, Mr. Chairman, that I guess I hadn't properly understood the whole process myself because I had thought that there would be a really significant amount of time to consider ratifying an agreement. In fact, in June of 2000, I questioned the Premier; I pointed out to him that I was hearing from some of my constituents that they understood the negotiation of self-government was a form of constitutional development and they were wondering how they would be involved in knowing what was going on as those negotiations took place. So I asked the Premier on June 30th, if before the government signed self-government agreements if those self-government agreements would be presented in this House for ratification. I asked him if at the end of the negotiation there would be a willingness to present whatever it is that the government is prepared to sign --not what they had signed -- but that they were prepared to sign. So before it was signed by this government, would they present it in the House? The Premier, on June 30, 2000, replied yes. So I had always understood that we would have an opportunity to consider these agreements as they came forward with some time to really look at them meaningfully.

As things progressed and we saw legislative proposals coming from the government on Tlicho legislation, at one point we wrote back to the government and said these are different forms of agreements, there is a different thing happening here. This isn't the usual way government works, don't you think you could involve the committee in a more consultative process as things go along so that they were ready to consider the legislation when it appears in front of us. In 2001, the government wrote back and said no, we are satisfied with the usual process; we'll develop the legislation through the second reading and then send it to committee. So again, the message always was that the usual process would take place. Well, our usual process is that we have time to consider legislation; we have time to get comfortable with it to make sure we really understand what is there and make sure that the legislation is exactly what everybody wants to see. I suspect that the public probably doesn't understand that Regular Members aren't intimately involved in a lot of what is happening in government so we don't know what is happening at the negotiations table. Sometimes we need some time to get to know what is in a deal that the government may have negotiated.

Mr. Chairman, this is really complicated, in my mind anyway, because there are surveys that show that the public generally holds politicians at pretty low esteem. Surveys have shown that many Canadians don't trust politicians although we fare quite a bit better in the Northwest Territories than what the Canadian average would be. But I know I have heard from some constituents who ask what is the rush, why are you rushing this through, is there something in there that we should be concerned about? Is there reason for the rush, are you hiding things?

We are in a situation now, as Mr. Bell said, this should be a celebration, we should be celebrating an historic document. I think it could have been if we had spent some time on it or if we had time for the consultation process and for the committee to take the legislation around the Territories and discuss it with people. We would have gotten a better opportunity for understanding. The public hearings would have offered people a chance to become more comfortable with what is there. It would have offered us a chance to talk to the public about how we can't change what is in the agreement. I understand that and accept that. I understand and welcome the choice that the Tlicho people have made to establish a form of governance that recognizes the Government of the Northwest Territories. They didn't have to do that, but we don't have a chance now to go around the Territories and help people get comfortable with that position, and to understand that this is an historic event, and that there has been a choice made here.

I have often heard that because this is a new deal, we have to look for new ways to do things. But if we are really partners we should respect each governments' traditions, and ours typically allows time for people to get comfortable with legislation, particularly important legislation. Yes, I know there are examples of legislation that we have pushed through without wide-ranging public consultation, but anytime that has happened it hasn't had a big impact on governance in the Northwest Territories. The legislation we are looking at today does and I think we should have taken the time, if for no other reason than it would have allowed more people to become more comfortable with what is encompassed by the legislation. I think that that would have happened with more time. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Bill 34: Tlicho Land Claims And Self-government Agreement Act
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Leon Lafferty

Thank you, Mr. Dent. General comments, Mr. Krutko.

Bill 34: Tlicho Land Claims And Self-government Agreement Act
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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David Krutko Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I sit here and I am not too sure if I want to cry or congratulate the Dogrib for taking the time to really invest $28 million of their own money to negotiate a land claim agreement; $28 million that they have to pay back out of their land claim agreement. I have a real problem when we sit here and say we haven't heard about it. For those of us that grew up in the Northwest Territories and were born and raised here, we have been bombarded by land claims, land claims, land claims, for over 20 years. It all started with the Inuvialuit claim back in 1984, which at that time there was a lot of dispute going on because the Inuvialuit got their claim in which treaties originated all the way to the coastline. A lot of lands were given up; there was a lot of dispute over that. Then came along the Dene/Metis claim process in which a lot of dollars were spent in that process again. Again, that was on the national scene, it was basically at every assembly you went to, it was covered live across the Northwest Territories. So we have been bombarded by information, negotiations, what is going on, what happened at the assemblies, and these information sessions were a process that was there to include the whole population of the Northwest Territories, not just the aboriginal population.

I have been involved in this process going on from the Dene/Metis process to the Gwich'in land claims settlement to the Sahtu agreement, and I am just totally appalled that we can sit here and say that we have not been informed of what is going on. The sad thing about it, the only thing the Government of the Northwest Territories has ever done with any land claim agreement was make a few amendments to the wildlife section to include the Inuvialuit wildlife rights in 1994. That is the only thing that this legislature has ever done to encompass a land claim agreement in territorial legislation. Even today, we are still trying to find ways to include the wildlife provisions of those other land claim agreements, the Gwich'in, the Sahtu agreement, and now the Tlicho agreement. Yet the Inuvialuit sections in their agreements have not even been totally implemented since they settled in 1984.

So I find it really hard to sit here saying that we are not totally involved in the process. The land claims process originally started through treaties which were signed back in 1921, Treaty 11; and 1889 in regard to Treaty 8. Those were treaties between two nations, the Government of Canada and First Nations governance in the Northwest Territories. What has happened since then because of court cases, the Paulette case and other cases that were out there, is that the First Nations people have never surrendered their rights to their lands and their resources, so that is basically where the claims process started from. Since then, there has been a long, drawn out process and a lot of negotiations, public meetings and also the whole process of ratification. First Nations people have a higher requirement to ratify their land claim agreements than most governments have to ratify a budget, in which you have to basically have a high percentage of turnout and then also have a high percentage for ratification. No other governments have to go through that strenuous a process of ratification for anything.

I think it is that process that gave the federal government and the First Nations people the opportunity to negotiate what we call today modern treaties, in which this is what this is. I think knowing that we have modern treaties to improve the old treaties and what they were and the authority this government really has in the Northwest Territories is to deal with municipal legislation. The municipal legislation we are talking about would not happen through this legislation. It will happen with the next legislature. You have coming into force the Tlicho Community Governance Act and the Tlicho Community Services Agency Act, on top of that legislation you are still going to have to come back to this House to try to get ratification on your wildlife provisions which we have been pounding away on for over 10 years. I always come to this House with my land claims on my desk because for me there is an obligation that this government has in here, it is spelled out. It doesn't say the government should "make," it says they shall "do" certain things. For me this government has not acted on any of those endeavors. We have a parks provision here to establish territorial parks. We have a park just outside of Inuvik called the Gwich'in Territorial Park, that was established under our land claim agreement. It took them over 10 years to bring this thing to life where you can actually physically use it, and that was part of a land claim agreement. I touched on the other provisions dealing with forestry. There is a whole section dealing with forestry. We have never sat down with the government to negotiate that section yet we are spending millions of dollars on behalf of First Nations that basically comes from Ottawa by way of transfer agreements. We have other sections in this agreement, which basically talk about the wildlife section, which I touched on. We have wildlife boards, but technically, they don't have the legislative authority, the authority is still with the Minister of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development to have the final say on if he wants to establish a regulation and he wants to shut your highway down or he basically wants to stop hunting on the highway. All he has to do is sign his name on a piece of paper. The boards don't have a say on that. It is the regulations that are passed by the Minister. It is not passed by the boards and until you make amendments to the Wildlife Act, none of that will happen.

I get totally frustrated sitting here and hearing that we did not take the time to have public hearings. I recommended to the committee that we have public hearings Wednesday night and yet they were forced to say okay, let's bring it back into the House right away and we will do it on the floor of the House. So which is it? You can't win or lose on this one. The legislation that we are bringing forth is just a number of clauses, it is no big deal. The big deal will happen when we basically pass the governance act in this Legislative Assembly. That is when we'll get down to detail and we'll be able to have full public consultation on the whole aspect of governance. That is where the responsibility of this government lies.

I think it is important to note that there has been a lot of emphasis in regard to the overall idea that everyone has to ratify this process. The only group that has to ratify this process is the Tlicho people; it is their land claim. They have made the deal with Canada to basically settle for what is laid out in their land claim agreement and part of that deal means that those other First Nations rights and rights of other people that are out there have been dealt with through other processes through overlapping agreements or working out boundary agreements with other First Nations to work together.

One thing that we don't hear much about is the whole idea of land claims is to give us certainty in the Northwest Territories, to give us comfort that we realize that without having these land claims settled, there will always be uncertainty in regard to the diamond industry and the oil and gas industry. Development in the Northwest Territories will come to a halt unless we conclude the land claims. Now we have an opportunity to take one more step to try to conclude the land claims in the Northwest Territories by having this agreement be legislated into effect and that is what these land claims are supposed to do is to give us certainty, to give industry certainty and people in the Northwest Territories that those outstanding questions of land rights, rights of who is going to have what lands and what regulatory process or what systems are going to be in place so people can really understand it and that is what they are there for.

With that, I would just like to say that this is what this agreement does. It gives us the certainty we need, especially in regard to the diamond developments that are happening in the North Slave and elsewhere and also up and down the valley. The next agreements we are looking at are the Akaitcho Territory and the Deh Cho and we should be supporting them and moving them forward, not trying to find roadblocks to put up to avoid the implementation of those processes. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Bill 34: Tlicho Land Claims And Self-government Agreement Act
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Leon Lafferty

Thank you, Mr. Krutko. General comments. The honourable Member for Range Lake, Ms. Lee.

Bill 34: Tlicho Land Claims And Self-government Agreement Act
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Sandy Lee Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I'd like to offer a few general comments as well. Mr. Chairman, I think there is definitely a sense in this Assembly, probably because of the people we have in the gallery, I feel the sense of this being an historical moment in the life of this Assembly. It seems to be that whenever we have these moments, we usually have our friends from the Dogrib community.

Mr. Chairman, in the life of this Assembly I have had many occasions to reflect on the work that we do in this House. We spend a lot of days and nights going in and out of here, taking care of very mundane business, but when you take a step back and really look at that big picture, I am always amazed at how big a task that we are asked to look after in this Assembly. I think of the work that this government and the Premier have had to do for the last few years, whether it is the diamond file, or oil and gas file or whether it is the Premier going and negotiating with the multi-nationals in England or wherever, trying to wrestle the pipeline file away from Alaska and the Yukon. It is quite amazing when we are such a small population and we are being asked to do so much. We are a little mouse that is being asked to roar like a lion, and I think that we should appreciate the work that we are asked to do. I don't think there is anything more important than the rights of aboriginal people that we are being asked to recognize in this House.

Mr. Chairman, I have said this before in my time here. I had the opportunity to work here as an employee way before I became an MLA and in the 20 years that I have witnessed this House, I have seen the trails that we blaze in this Assembly in terms of the sheer representation of aboriginal power in the Territories and in this Assembly. Now we have an historical first, an agreement that encompasses a land claims agreement as well as self-government in Tlicho. It's quite breathtaking what we're being asked to do, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman, I believe that most people in the Territories support the settlement of land claims and self-government agreements. I think the election pamphlets I've seen from the last election wanted people called on speedy resolution of land claim settlements because, as you mentioned, it will bring stability and certainty in getting these claims settled. Specifically for Tlicho, I have no doubt that this will bring economic benefits to Yellowknife and surrounding regions.

Mr. Chairman, many people have mentioned here about the process, and I would like the people from Tlicho to understand what the concerns are. The concerns about the process have to do with the agreement itself. I think they need to know that we were always under the understanding that we would not be ratifying this agreement in this Assembly, but that we would have some more time to do it.

Other Members have mentioned the fact that we always have this...We have a bill introduced here and that it gets first and second reading, and they go out to public hearings and then come back for third reading. But that's not necessarily true either, Mr. Chairman, because we've had cases where Members unanimously agreed to not have a public hearing and sent it back to Committee of the Whole for third reading. I recall the bill to give extra pension to Members didn't go to public hearings, so it's not entirely correct if we say we are totally discarding a process.

I do want to say, though, Mr. Chairman, I don't believe this bill is made up of simple clauses. It does say important things and I don't think there is any question that this is constitution-making. So that means that this is not a simple law. A constitution is a law that makes laws, and a constitution sets out the rules about how laws are made and about how policies are made. But more importantly, Mr. Chairman, constitution making is about creating different relationships. I do believe fundamentally that this legislation and this agreement is a start of a new relationship between not only the Tlicho people and the rest of the people in the area, but in the whole of the Territories.

So my concern about now having had a lot of time for process hasn't necessarily been to do with procedural step-by-step in this House, but it has to do with my belief that constitution making is about creating different relationships and that requires to me an opportunity for conversation among the people that are affected.

Mr. Chairman, as you know, I served as the co-chair on the Special Committee on the Implementation of Self-Government, and we went around the Territories and we talked about how we get ourselves ready for the post-self-government NWT. In that report we said here on page 1, if I may read this, "We want to encourage a territory-wide conversation about what all NWT residents can expect in the future, the future of all NWT communities will be linked together even more closely than they are today. The new relationships that will develop among our northern governments will depend on our attitudes and our relationships with each other." That is talking about the different attitudes and relationships that we have to work towards in the post-self-government implementation period. I lament the fact that we have missed that opportunity to have that conversation, because I know the Tlicho people have worked on this for many, many years and all the aboriginal leaders have been very involved with that. But I can tell you that there are people in my riding who would have wanted to have that conversation, and I do believe it's not too late. I believe this is a start of a new relationship. This legislation will bring that start, and if anything my understanding of not only this self-government agreement but all those other ones that are being worked on will necessitate all of us, as well as all the aboriginal peoples in different regions and at different negotiating tables to continue to have a conversation about how we work together, we coordinate our law-making and budgeting process and, perhaps, sometimes conflicting rights.

So, Mr. Chairman, I realize that I'm running out of time here for this round. I just wanted to add my comment on it. I do have specific questions from the Minister's statement that he made, so I will look to do that and I do believe that the few clauses that are in legislation need some explanation from the Minister as to its implications and its meanings, and I plan on pursuing that. But it was important to me that I explain why from my point of view, the government had an obligation, I believe, to let the people who are not directly under the influence of this agreement know what this new relationship is that has been created. Because of the cutting off of the time we have missed that opportunity. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Bill 34: Tlicho Land Claims And Self-government Agreement Act
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair David Krutko

Thank you, Ms. Lee. General comments. Member for North Slave, Mr. Lafferty.

Bill 34: Tlicho Land Claims And Self-government Agreement Act
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Leon Lafferty North Slave

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As you know, the gallery is filled with a lot of people, most of them are from the Tlicho region. They are here to witness an historic event, like some of my colleagues said. I would like to speak on a number of items that my colleagues spoke on.

First of all they're saying the normal process that this government should work on. Well, over the four years there have been a lot of decisions made in this House and outside of this House which are not normal processes. We've seen acts and bills come and go. Just yesterday we decided on one bill without consulting with the communities out there and this was a bill for official languages. The Department of Education, Culture and Employment made changes to a bill that was put forward by a committee which consulted with all of the Northwest Territories, but it wasn't taken into consideration that they should take it back to the people again because of the amendments and the changes. But it was done, it was dealt with in this House. That's one good example.

Another good example is the Human Rights Act. The request from one community for this committee to go there to have consultation was denied.

So I know my colleagues have concerns, they have a job to do, they need to communicate with their people, but when they say they need to go through the normal process I don't agree with them. This is not a normal process.

Like my colleague from Tu Nedhe said, this is an agreement between three parties, and we had representation there from the territorial government. Cabinet had a department in there; Aboriginal Affairs negotiated on behalf of this government. And it's not new. For the last 12 years you have read the paper, you have heard on the radio, you knew what was going on, everyone knew what was going on. If there were concerns before this date, why weren't those concerns brought up to their MLAs? Their MLAs were available. If they thought their rights were going to be affected, why didn't they come forward at that time? I don't see how that can be used as an argument.

We know that there are concerns that we're taking a shortcut. No, it's not. This is just another one of the bills that we think should go this route because that's the route that should be taken. We think it's the right way to do it. It's been there for 12 years. No other bill in this House has been put forward with that length of time, consultation and negotiation; no bill at all. So you have to take that and look at it in a different way.

Sometimes the things that are important, as mentioned from one of my colleagues in this document, yes, there are lots of important things in here. But this is the Tlicho self-government legislation. It's for the Tlicho people, how they govern themselves. So I'm sure that there are concerns out there, but if the concerns are not coming from the Tlicho people, then why should we from the outside say that the government here says well, we have a concern but nothing has been put forward by the Tlicho people. They ratified it unanimously.

Today we're going to be putting this forward as legislation. Everyone has been at all the celebrations, the signing. Most of the government here has been at the signing. We must have agreed to something when we went over there to initial it and sign it. We had to. Why today are we saying that it's not a normal process? We all know that it's been happening. Some Members in this House say it's a numbers game. Of course it's a numbers game. I and my colleague from Mackenzie Delta lost three votes in this House this week. Of course it's a numbers game. That's how government works, the majority wins. So using arguments like that are not something that should slow down something that is very important to people of the Dogrib region.

Yesterday we agreed that we would change the name in the Languages Act, to Tlicho from Dogrib. We all agreed. We all recognized that they had a right. That right today is going to be exercised and we're going to go forward with it and all we need is the federal government to ratify this then the Tlicho people can go forward and govern themselves. We will be their partners at the territorial government, so will the federal government.

We hear arguments that it might affect the rights of other aboriginal groups. Well, at one time there were differences. The groups didn't agree, but they sat down, they negotiated. They were able to negotiate the overlaps, the boundaries. Now they're working hand in hand in the economic development areas and all that. I'm sure the Metis group from the North Slave, whenever they come to the table with the federal government and the territorial government, I'm sure the Tlicho people will be there by their side to support them because they will be going forward with their own agreement. They're recognized as a group that has rights to hunts, trap and harvest. So I'm sure the Tlicho people will be on their side to support them.

The act itself says that there's the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That's how they feel their right is written. You know, in any part of this governance act they can come forward with it. But if you really look at the whole picture and the whole act, it's for the Tlicho citizens. If you're a Tlicho citizen and you live in Yellowknife, you have a right to be governed under that act, it doesn't matter where you live. But the Tlicho government is not going to go into Yellowknife and tell non-aboriginal people this is what you have to do. No, they don't have a right to do that.

When you make a decision on this today, you have to consider that. This is an act, a bill that is to govern themselves, not to govern other people. The area where it's going to come into effect, where the governance model might affect some people would be in the next piece of legislation. At that time maybe we will have time for this government to do public consultation. But this ratification was done for all three of them, so you still have to take that into consideration, as well, when it comes to that time.

So in order to do this more effectively, the next turn we get at legislation for community governance, maybe the MLAs should be more proactive and start going forward, because the documents are there now, and start talking with their constituents. In that way, they can have their consultation. If the government cannot make it out there, then the MLAs should be out there doing it. Because to this date I haven't heard any concerns from anyone, outside of the North Slave Metis Alliance, that have been raised about the Tlicho governance.

So I will have to say that we have to go forward with this legislation. It's not a short time, it's a new kind of way of making legislation. It's done, it's a done deal. They've signed on the dotted lines over and over, initialed, signed. We've been there. We had Mr. Kakfwi there, we had Mr. Antoine there, we had Members from this side of the House that were there. We knew what was happening. We can't say anyone didn't know.

To finish it off, I have to say that there are groups on all sides of the Tlicho and the Tlicho are in the middle. They've made arrangements with all of them. So far the negotiations they've done must have been positive because nobody else is coming back and saying it's a bad deal. So I'll have to encourage all my colleagues in this House that we have to pass this. We have the people up there waiting for our positive decision for an historical day. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Bill 34: Tlicho Land Claims And Self-government Agreement Act
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair David Krutko

General comments. Premier Kakfwi.

Bill 34: Tlicho Land Claims And Self-government Agreement Act
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

October 9th, 2003

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Stephen Kakfwi Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, we have many, many people watching us today and I think people are becoming aware that we are continuing to make history. There will be those that take leadership roles and those that will become a little afraid and apprehensive and ask for more time. We should be aware that we are still seen very much as a foreign institution by many people in the communities. Little things like Orders of the Day, our rules are confusing to people. They come into the legislature and all of a sudden they are told to be quiet, can't clap, can't laugh and they can't say anything. It's completely contrary to all the rules they have about how they make decisions back home in their own communities in the aboriginal institutions.

Our job is to try to bring dignity to the governments that we come in contact with. We should say and we should recognize the reason for people fighting all these years for aboriginal rights and self-government is because this government was never seen as good enough. The whole reason the Tlicho agreement is coming to us is because people are telling us we're trying to make it better, here are our suggestions. In this case, this agreement is between governments. It's between the federal government, the Tlicho government and this government. We shouldn't fool our constituents into asking them what do you think about aboriginal rights. That debate is over. We don't want to ask people if they support aboriginal rights or not.

I say we have an obligation to go out there and inform people about what the agreement is, I agree with that. But don't fool people into say do you agree with it or not, what do you want me to change? The fact is there's very little we can change. If we can change anything at all, it's the nature of it. It's an agreement that is going to be constitutionalized and it's going to be ratified by the federal government, and it has already been ratified in part by the Tlicho people. No one is going to go back and jeopardize this work by starting to tinker with clauses.

There's a reason for what I'm saying, because I think we have to be honest about it and we have to provide a certain kind of leadership. In this case, I think our constituents are going to look at us and say as my elected representative, what do you think I should do. How do you want me to think about it? It's our obligation to say this is an agreement between governments. It's the government that negotiated it. They've done that within the rules of this country, and it is for their better judgment. That's what the government says they're going to do. You can go further than that and say in my best opinion I'm going to support it and so should everybody else. I don't know if that's going too far, but I know it's been done before.

When extra seats were being debated in this legislature, I didn't run home and ask the Sahtu people what I should do. I didn't ask them. It was about the rights of people in Yellowknife to have more representation, based on population. I didn't go and ask them what I should do with the rights of Yellowknife people. I took a stand and said I support it, much to the chagrin of my constituents and other aboriginal leaders, but that's what I did. I went into an election and got re-elected. That's what leadership is about.

I know that it's very close to election and we have to do some soul searching about how strong a stance we can take. It does take courage. I think if you look at the history of aboriginal people, we come from a time when we had no vote, we had no rights. This country stood up and said it's not in the Constitution, we don't see it in the rules, we don't see it in our institutions, you don't have any rights. We have processes and we have institutions, but we don't see you having any rights. We come from a time in the Northwest Territories when that was the rule of the land, and aboriginal people have taken the time to advance that. It takes a lot of courage to bend the rules and say this doesn't really follow the laws of this country and this institution to be prepared to take a leap of faith.

Some leaders in this country did that some years ago. Sometimes they were prodded by the Supreme Court of Canada, but it has been a long, hard struggle for everybody. And we're not there yet. If we think we have the credibility and the backing of all aboriginal people to be and to continue to be the Government of the Northwest Territories, we have to take stock here because I don't think we're there yet. We're getting there, but we're not there yet.

This is an offer to be partners. This is an offer, but the Tlicho could say we can make this a better government, we're going to endorse it. We're going with a public government, we're going to go with a partnership government. That's what I see here and I think again we need to take a stand and not be afraid. Maybe we skipped some steps and people are uncomfortable with it, but the fact is we're here. We're not back last year or even two weeks ago, we're here, we have to make a decision. As imperfect as this process is, this institution is, take a leap of faith, vote in support of it. This government will gain credibility, it will gain substance, it will gain support.

I said in Fort Rae in front of the Prime Minister, in front of everybody, one thing you have to understand -- and it applies to all the other aboriginal groups -- if you take care of the Tlicho, the Tlicho will take care of you. And it applies to this government particularly. They have taken a bold step to say we will partner with this government, we will take care of this government by endorsing it. That's the statement here today, it's not in the technical clauses. We can't get mired in what steps we've missed, we don't have time for that.

So I know there's due process, there's expectations from our constituents. I think we have to be honest with our constituents. Take a position of leadership, tell them what in your best judgment needs to be done here. There's a lot more at stake than this particular agreement, there's still a lot of other work to do and they're waiting for us to make a definitive statement and we should do that. Thank you.

Bill 34: Tlicho Land Claims And Self-government Agreement Act
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair David Krutko

Thank you, Mr. Premier. With that, I'm going to take a five-minute recess. Apparently the bylaw are concerned with all the vehicles parked down the road. You apparently have to park off the side of the road because bylaw has stated that you have to allow for emergency vehicles to get through and they're having problems getting vehicles through. So if I could ask those people in the visitors' gallery who do have vehicles parked on the road, if you could either move it to the visitors' side at the museum, or just move off the road so that your vehicle is not on the road. So we'll take a five-minute break and we'll come back so those people can run out, move your vehicles and we'll begin in five minutes.

---SHORT RECESS

Bill 34: Tlicho Land Claims And Self-government Agreement Act
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair David Krutko

I would like to call Committee of the Whole back to order. We are under general comments dealing with Bill 34, Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Act. At this time I would like to call on Mr. McLeod from the Deh Cho. Mr. McLeod.

Bill 34: Tlicho Land Claims And Self-government Agreement Act
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Michael McLeod Deh Cho

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We seem to have lost all our audience when it's my turn to speak. Mr. Chairman, I want to start off by commending the team that worked on this document, especially the negotiators. I know it's a tough job, a very lengthy process, and having this document signed this summer was really a huge milestone, a real feather in the cap. I also wanted to commend the Minister on the work that he's done, and also for having the courage to bring this forward, knowing full well that we had a real short window of opportunity to pass this document, or to even review this document.

I didn't expect to see this document in front of us within the life of what we had left in our term. We had I think all understood that the Tlicho agreement, the Tlicho legislation would come to the Members of the 15th Assembly because of the late signing. So it was a little bit of a surprise. However, I certainly encouraged the Minister to bring it forward. I voted in favour of this legislation in first and second reading, because I believe that we have to give the benefit of the doubt and try our best effort to accommodate this legislation. So that's why I voted to support the principle in first and second reading.

I was fully expecting us to take this on the road, given the short time frame, maybe even to a couple of communities. Unfortunately, it didn't look like it was possible to do public hearings. I don't know if there was a lack of political will or a lot of people watching the election clock that's ticking already. However, I was happy that we could at least agree and not let this whole legislation die and be in a process that was not going to go the last few steps. So I really want to also commend the Member for North Slave for taking it to this committee, Committee of the Whole.

I think whenever we have to fast track or try to push documents through, we're really in a pinch, especially when it comes to aboriginal issues. We've heard a couple of Members say today that we, as a territorial government, are always viewed as a stumbling block. I knew and I still feel had we delayed discussion on this legislation, it certainly would have been viewed as a stumbling block. So we were in a position that we were going to be criticized by either. By not proceeding, we would have, I understand, delayed the Tlicho legislation probably until sometime next spring. In order for us to proceed, we have to go this route. So going to Committee of the Whole is the only avenue we have at this time.

There is some objection that we have to take very seriously. We've had a lot of correspondence from the North Slave Metis Alliance; there are a lot of questions being raised. We also have a document that we just got today from the Fort Providence community council. I don't believe there's a campaign against this legislation, but I believe there are a lot of questions that they are going to be asked. Given the time we have left in this House today, I don't think we will have enough time to ask the questions today, so I am sure it's going to be a two-day process. Hopefully we will be able to conclude this discussion tomorrow.

I understand though that this is the first of three bills. A lot of things have changed, even from the time this document was initialled. I had the privilege of attending the signing in Fort Rae and since that time we've had some other aboriginal groups, some legal cases settled. So it's an ever-evolving environment that we live in and I certainly don't want to see something held up as we try to get a legal opinion every step, but there has to be answers of the questions that are being posed.

I have a lot of questions I would like to ask the Minister when the time is appropriate. I have to have the comfort that this legislation will accommodate all recent and future changes and what affect it will have on other aboriginal groups. I am from the Deh Cho. I represent the Deh Cho. Our borders are parallel. We've had discussions with the Dogrib and Tlicho over the last few years. I have to have the assurance and give this bill due diligence. Since this is going to be our only avenue, I will have a lot of questions. I am hoping the Minister has really been studying the document because I am sure my vote is going to be based on his answers. Thank you.

Bill 34: Tlicho Land Claims And Self-government Agreement Act
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The Chair David Krutko

General comments. What is the wish of the committee? Clause by clause? Does the committee agree?

Bill 34: Tlicho Land Claims And Self-government Agreement Act
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Some Hon. Members

Agreed.

Clause By Clause