This is page numbers 1 - 34 of the Hansard for the 15th 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 going.

Topics

Members Present

Honourable Brendan Bell, Mr. Braden, Honourable Paul Delorey, Honourable Charles Dent, Mrs. Groenewegen, Honourable Joe Handley, Mr. Hawkins, Honourable David Krutko, Mr. Lafferty, Ms. Lee, Hon. Michael McLeod, Mr. McLeod, Hon. Kevin Menicoche, Mr. Miltenberger, Mr. Pokiak, Mr. Ramsay, Honourable Floyd Roland, Mr. Villeneuve, Mr. Yakeleya

---Prayer

Item 1: Prayer
Item 1: Prayer

Page 1

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Mr. Clerk, would you ascertain if the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories, the Honourable Anthony W. J. Whitford, is prepared to enter the Chamber to open the Sixth Session of the 15th Legislative Assembly.

Item 2: Opening Address
Item 2: Opening Address

Page 1

Commissioner Of The Northwest Territories Hon. Tony Whitford

Monsieur, le president, monsieur le premier ministre, messieurs et Mesdames les deputes, mesdames et messieurs, et amis. It hardly seems a moment has passed since I last was with you.

---Laughter

But it is good to be back. On Sunday, I returned from a visit to Whitehorse where I was supporting athletes, coaches, artists and parents from Team NWT at the Canada Winter Games. I am pleased to report a great deal of success was attained by our team. From a hard fought, well-deserved gold medal won by Hay River skier Brendan Green...

---Applause

...to personal bests set by many athletes, Team NWT gave stellar performances, upheld the honour of our territory and made us proud.

I particularly want to mention the athletes taking part in the Inuit and Dene games. For the first time, these games were a demonstration sport at the Canada Winter Games. The eyes of the nation were turned upon us as northern athletes competed for medals in a variety of challenging and unique games. Team NWT male and female athletes enjoyed much success and I feel I have to mention a cluster of family athletes who did especially well. I am speaking, of course, of the McLeod ladies, Robyn, Shawna and Devin.

---Applause

Between them they won five medals; gold, silver and bronze, and in the all around female competition Robyn won a silver medal, Shawna came fourth and Devin tied for fifth place. I have no doubt they were inspired by another family member, our own Minister for sport and for youth, the Honourable Michael McLeod,...

---Applause

...father and uncle to the ladies.

As well as sports, the Canada Winter Games offered the NWT an opportunity to showcase art and culture.

Through displays and performances, the work of our northern artists was showcased to Canada during the opening and closing ceremonies and throughout the games.

While in Whitehorse, I had the opportunity to tour an art collection called Burning Cold. This collection contains pieces created by several artists from all across Canada and will go on tour to many different cities now the games are over.

One of the art pieces, and the best in my mind although I admit to some bias, was an exquisite, detailed carving created by Fort Simpson artist John Sabourin.

---Applause

John's Dene cultural identity merged northern customs and modern visions resulting in an abstract work highlighting texture and form and bringing the stone to life through stories and legends.

I must also thank Premier Handley for the invitation to his house party at NWT House. I, and many other guests from all corners of Canada, enjoyed a rousing evening of northern music and camaraderie culminating in a very informative and entertaining quiz, entitled "Beat the Premier" where Premier Handley took on all comers answering any question the audience cared to pose about the Northwest Territories. I am happy to report our Premier gave a good account of himself and passed on much colourful, northern knowledge to the audience. I have no doubt we will welcome more visitors to the NWT as a result of his answers, especially to Tsiigehtchic and learning how to spell the word. Thank you, Mr. Premier, for your hospitality. And thank you athletes and all participants for a memorable two weeks.

In the coming months, I look forward to a busy spring and summer as I continue my quest to visit every community in the Northwest Territories. As well, I have enjoyed visiting local schools and meeting with you to hear their perspective on a wide variety of issues. I never fail to be impressed by their intelligence, candor and enthusiasm. I hope to meet many more of our young citizens over the next few months at their graduations and assemblies.

During this session, the Government of the Northwest Territories will be introducing the following bill entitled, Supplementary Appropriation Act, No. 1, 2007-2008, for consideration by the House. The government considers this bill essential to the good conduct of government business and, as such, I recommend its passage.

As Commissioner of the Northwest Territories, I now declare open the Sixth Session of the 15th Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories. Thank you, merci, merci beaucoup, mahsi cho.

---Applause

Speaker's Opening Comments
Item 2: Opening Address

Page 2

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Good afternoon, colleagues. Welcome back to the Chamber to begin our Sixth Session of the 15th Legislative Assembly. Certainly it does seem like we never left. I know you are all eager to get back to the business at hand, so I will make my comments brief.

I wish to extend thanks, on behalf of all Members, to the Honourable Anthony Whitford, Commissioner of the Northwest Territories, for opening the Sixth Session of this 15th Assembly.

As we continue our work here, I look forward to a productive and fruitful session. I wish you wisdom and strength in your continued deliberations on behalf of all the residents of the Northwest Territories.

Finally, colleagues, I would like to remind you once again of the important role you have assumed: to uphold the integrity and the dignity of this institution in both word and deed.

On a happy note, before we begin the orders of the day, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge a very special day for one of our Members, the honourable Member for the Sahtu, Mr. Norman Yakeleya. It's his birthday today.

---Applause

Orders of the day. Ministers' statements. The honourable Minister of Transportation, Mr. Menicoche.

Minister's Statement 1-15(6): New Department Of Transportation Website
Item 3: Ministers' Statements

Page 2

Kevin A. Menicoche Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to draw attention today to a recent, positive development within the Department of Transportation that is already benefiting many NWT residents and visitors alike.

I am referring to the new department website which provides online access to a wider range of useful and important information on travel within the NWT, as well as services and programs offered by the department. Department staff devoted many hours to design and develop a user-friendly website that would be easy to navigate through features and content that inform and assist users.

For example, Mr. Speaker, the site now provides detailed reports on road and ferry conditions across our public highway system. Previously, that information was only available from the department's toll-free highway and ferry information line. There is also a link to weather information across the territory. With that kind of information now only a mouse click away 24 hours a day, travelers can make more informed decisions when planning a trip. It's all about safety.

There is better information too for air travelers and those with an interest in aviation. In addition to timely bulletins and travel tips, and external links to aviation-related organizations, the site is connected to the flight information display system at Yellowknife Airport. Now, from the comfort of your home or office, you can check flight arrival and departure times in Yellowknife, the same as if you were in the airport looking at the screens.

Minister's Statement 1-15(6): New Department Of Transportation Website
Item 3: Ministers' Statements

Page 2

Some Hon. Members

Ohh!

Minister's Statement 1-15(6): New Department Of Transportation Website
Item 3: Ministers' Statements

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Kevin A. Menicoche Nahendeh

Mr. Speaker, the new site also provides a wealth of information for drivers like you and me and for commercial carriers. It tells you what you need and where to get a new driver's licence and what it will cost. You can also download a driver's manual to study before writing a test. Being able to access those types of documents over the Internet will certainly be appreciated in some of the smaller communities where getting a hard copy of a manual wasn't as easy as it was in other communities.

Manuals for prospective commercial truckers and downloadable forms truckers and their companies need to do business with the department are also available on the site.

Another significant new feature on the site is an e-mail subscription service. When you sign up for the service, you can customize your choice of website sections that interest you the most. When new information or new documents are posted to those sections, you automatically receive an e-mail that tells you about it. Depending on how important that information is to you, you can also choose how frequently you get those updates.

I believe it's worth noting, Mr. Speaker, that the site also has biographical information on the Minister of Transportation and how to reach him...

Minister's Statement 1-15(6): New Department Of Transportation Website
Item 3: Ministers' Statements

Page 2

Some Hon. Members

Ohhh!

---Laughter

Minister's Statement 1-15(6): New Department Of Transportation Website
Item 3: Ministers' Statements

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Kevin A. Menicoche Nahendeh

...or department staff with compliments about the new website. Surely, the site wouldn't be complete without that.

I could go on, Mr. Speaker, and point to many more new and improved features of this website, however I believe I have given Members a sufficient overview of this new site and how it will benefit those who visit it, as well as my department.

I also want to acknowledge the role of the federal Department of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities in making this site possible. Funding my department obtained through the intelligent transportation systems component of the Strategic Highway Infrastructure Program was used to cover part of the cost of developing the site.

I invite Members of this House and the media to join me and department staff in the media room at the break today for a demonstration about what this new website has to offer. I would also encourage the public to visit the website if they haven't done so yet. New features and content are continually being added. The address is www.dot.gov.nt.ca. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 1-15(6): New Department Of Transportation Website
Item 3: Ministers' Statements

Page 2

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Menicoche. Ministers' statements. The honourable Minister of Education, Culture and Employment, Mr. Dent.

Minister's Statement 2-15(6): Working Towards Post-secondary Excellence
Item 3: Ministers' Statements

Page 3

Charles Dent Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Good afternoon. Support for and improvement of post-secondary education in the Northwest Territories is an important part of the foundation for some of the GNWT's key priorities. For example, our priority that northerners have the skills to take advantage of economic opportunities requires more education for residents. Our priority that the GNWT help people to help themselves clearly relies on improving levels of education.

"Building on our Success," the Department of Education, Culture and Employment's strategic plan, sets out our objectives, priorities and actions in the area of adult and post-secondary education from 2005 to 2015.

One important activity of Education, Culture and Employment is to regularly monitor major accomplishments and trends so we can improve program effectiveness. Later today, I will table Towards Excellence '05 - A Report on Post-Secondary Education in the NWT. This publication provides a profile of post-secondary education from 2001 to 2005. By reporting publicly on results in post-secondary education, this document provides key indicators of where our system is working and where it may need to be improved.

Highlights outlined in Towards Excellence include increases in the number of aboriginal students attending post-secondary institutions. Aboriginal students are also increasing their educational attainment overall. Population surveys of NWT residents show aboriginal representation has increased middle management, health, education, social sciences, sales and service and in skilled trades. As well, enrollments at Aurora College have increased in recent years, indicating that northerners are choosing to further their education and training.

Mr. Speaker, while the results found in this publication show promising developments and improvement in post-secondary education levels, the northern labour market is booming and we still have not caught up to the overall educational attainment levels of Canada. For northerners to succeed, we need a strong system of post-secondary education and training to ready them for the work that is becoming available. Monitoring and reporting on the indicators set out in Towards Excellence are part of what we need to do to see continued improvement of our college and apprenticeship programs.

Mr. Speaker, the North has a very promising future. Our government has made significant investments in our education system. We all look forward to seeing a return on those investments in the form of increased education and skills leading to more employment and improvement in the quality of life of our residents. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 2-15(6): Working Towards Post-secondary Excellence
Item 3: Ministers' Statements

Page 3

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Dent. Ministers' statements. The honourable Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs, Mr. McLeod.

Minister's Statement 3-15(6): 2007 Canada Winter Games
Item 3: Ministers' Statements

Page 3

Michael McLeod Deh Cho

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would also like to provide an update on the Northwest Territories participation in the 2007 Canada Winter Games which ended in Whitehorse on March 10th.

As Members are aware, these are the first Canada Games held north of 60 and the first to feature a cooperative partnership between the territories to support this national celebration of sport, youth and culture.

I can report, without hesitation, that our pan-north approach to the games was a huge success and we have demonstrated to the rest of Canada that the North is a vibrant and dynamic part of the country. Team NWT sent over 250 athletes, coaches, youth ambassadors, traditional game athletes and mission staff from 27 communities, making the 2007 team our largest contingent ever.

During the two weeks of the games, our athletes tested their strengths against the best the country has to offer. Some, like Brendan Green of Hay River, triumphed and came away with a gold medal in cross-country skiing.

---Applause

Others, like our women's hockey team, thrilled the North in their games against Yukon and Prince Edward Island.

And still others went home knowing that although victory eluded them, they had given it their all and that they could feel proud of their accomplishments.

Our Dene and Inuit games athletes also thrilled spectators from across Canada and the North with their strength and agility in competing against their northern neighbours in the traditional games that are such an important part of our heritage.

Our youth ambassadors were fabulous representatives of the Northwest Territories. They volunteered with the host society in a wide range of activities and each and every area demonstrated that the youth from across the North have great strength, great character and will be strong leaders in the future.

Mr. Speaker, as Members may recall, our participation in the Canada Games program began nearly a year ago, on April 10, 2006, when representatives from the three territories lit their individual torches to begin the Canada Games Torch Relay at the Canadian forces base Alert, Nunavut.

From that date to February 15, 2007, when the Northwest Territories torch was featured at the opening of the NWT Games in Fort Simpson, the torch relay passed through every single community in the Northwest Territories on its way to Whitehorse.

Mr. Speaker, our participation in the Canada games also featured some of the best Northwest Territories artists and performers available. I would like to congratulate my colleagues, the Ministers of Industry, Tourism and Investment and Education, Culture and Employment, for their support of this program.

The unprecedented television coverage of the games meant that many of these individuals received national

exposure and played to audiences across Canada. I was particularly impressed by the Paulatuk drummers who rose at 2:30 in the morning on March 6th to play live on CTV's Canada AM.

----Applause

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I want to note the success of the NWT House. This was a suggestion made by the Members of the Legislative Assembly during our fall 2006 briefings on the games.

The NWT House was a drop-in centre, entertainment venue, tourism and business information outlet and all-around great place to be during the games. It was a great success and one that will, I am sure, will be talked about by visitors and residents for a long time to come.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to extend my thanks to the volunteers and the staff who made these games a good success. You have demonstrated to Canada that the North is a great place to live and a great place to work. Mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 3-15(6): 2007 Canada Winter Games
Item 3: Ministers' Statements

Page 4

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. McLeod. Ministers' statements. Colleagues, I would like to draw your attention to the visitors gallery. Joining us here today are Members from the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. Please join me in welcoming Gary Schellenberger, Member of Parliament for Perth-Wellington, Ontario...

---Applause

...Diane Bourgeois, Member of Parliament for Terrebonne-Blaineville, Quebec...

---Applause

...Larry Bagnell, Member of Parliament for the Yukon...

---Applause

...Dennis Bevington, Member of Parliament for the Western Arctic...

---Applause

...Jacques Lahaie, Clerk of Committees...

---Applause

...and please welcome the staff of the standing committee, Kate Bourke, Marion Menard, Matthiew Carnaghan, Helene Couture-MacTavish, Rene Plante, Cecilia Shea, Micheline Egan, and Christine Detoni.

---Applause

Welcome to the opening of the Sixth Session of the 15th Legislative Assembly. I hope you are enjoying the proceedings. Also in the visitors gallery, we have a teacher from St. Pat's High School. Coleen McDonald is a teacher of the Social Studies program at that school. With her are two students, Barbara Drybones and Colin Robinson. These students are very interested in the Legislative Assembly.

---Applause

Welcome to the gallery. Orders of the day. Members' statements. The honourable Member for Hay River South, Mrs. Groenewegen.