This is page numbers 495 - 544 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.

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Committee Motion 23-15(6): Refer Bill 7 To The Standing Committee On Social Programs, Carried
Item 20: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 536

Sandy Lee Range Lake

Thank you, Madam Chair. We, as a committee, have filed a very extensive report on this bill in the House a couple of days back. It is as a result of a quite extensive public hearing process. We appreciate the Minister bringing forward a number of amendments that he feels would address some of the issues that were raised in the report. However, Madam Chair, I need to state, as committee chair and as a member, that there were a number of issues that were raised in the report that would not be, in our opinion, able to be addressed by way of amendments. So, for that reason, and specific to the motion that the Minister just made, we, as committee, have not had a chance to review that.

We are aware, as a consensus government here, that all of the legislation that we have passed already and some of the really large ones that we passed in this Assembly and this very session, the Workers' Compensation Act, the Liquor Act, there were a number of amendments that went through. There were dozens and dozens of them, and all of them took a lot of time to study what the motions meant, what the amendment meant and what effect that it would have and how it would address the issues that are before us. Simply, we have not had a chance to do that. Referring this bill back to the committee is not to say that we do not support the spirit of the bill or the intent of the bill or the cause or wanting to do something to address some of the serious drug issues and the bootlegging going on. Simply what this motion is trying to say is that this bill is not ready for third reading, that it needs more work. Members want to be able to do more work. We are aware of the fact that this House adjourns in two days, but the Standing Committee on Social Programs is willing to sit and meet and report for the benefit of the next Assembly all the issues that were brought to the committee through our public hearing process and also entertain five motions that the Minister has put forward to us.

I want to say, for the record, also, that the motions that the Minister is suggesting did not come to our attention until last week about an hour or two before we had our clause-by-clause meeting. I just want people to know that we just simply had not had the time to consider all of the motions that the Minister put forward. I want to stay on the technical side of this bill. I am going to leave it at that. I believe that other Members may want to add to their views on this particular motion. Thank you, Madam Chair.

Committee Motion 23-15(6): Refer Bill 7 To The Standing Committee On Social Programs, Carried
Item 20: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Jane Groenewegen

Thank you, Ms. Lee. To the motion. Mr. Braden.

Committee Motion 23-15(6): Refer Bill 7 To The Standing Committee On Social Programs, Carried
Item 20: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Bill Braden Great Slave

Thank you, Madam Chair. I am going to speak in favour of Ms. Lee's motion to bring these new amendments and new ideas back through the committee process to the general public. Madam Chair, this bill is certainly one of the newer and I think bigger ideas that this Assembly has undertaken. Just on the surface of that, we should never be afraid of looking at new ideas and applying them as they can be appropriated here in the NWT. Universally, we saw a need. We appreciate the need in every one of our communities, big and small, for new ways to address the problems of addictions, bootlegging, drug dealing and other kinds of behaviour. Bringing in a new option and something that would allow communities to have more control over this kind of thing was conceptually very welcome. But the process under which that would happen, the mechanics as outlined in the bill, were found wanting in many areas. So, Madam Chair, as much as there is a need for this, the public, we found through our report, as Ms. Lee has referenced, is one of the most extensive, most detailed, objective and comprehensive reports that I have seen the committee do. It is a good piece of work. It proves that the public does not have confidence in the way this new law was being proposed. It wants to see something like it done, but we need to invest the time to correct misconceptions, to help get people better informed, to certainly amend and adjust some of the flaws that are contained in here. This Assembly and this Minister I think should be pleased with the amount of work that has been done on it, but it is not something that the public, the general people of the NWT I believe, are ready to accept and make work. Let's understand that time, awareness, education, discussion and consultation are a very important part of law-making and having new laws land on their feet with the people they are intended to serve. We have not allowed enough of that to happen. I am reminded, Madam Chair, that this idea or new law was not originally on the agenda of the 15th Assembly when we came into office. It came in a very rapid and unexpected fashion about midway through our term I think at the expense of other legislation, Madam Chair. So it has been a difficult one for committee to adjust to as well.

I believe this is a good start. It is one that I am supportive of, but that we should have no hesitation to hand it over with a very strong recommendation to our successors in the 16th Assembly to finish a job that got a reasonably good start. Thank you, Madam Chair.

Committee Motion 23-15(6): Refer Bill 7 To The Standing Committee On Social Programs, Carried
Item 20: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 537

The Chair Jane Groenewegen

Thank you, Mr. Braden. To the motion. Next I have Mr. Miltenberger.

Committee Motion 23-15(6): Refer Bill 7 To The Standing Committee On Social Programs, Carried
Item 20: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 537

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Thank you, Madam Chair. Madam Chair, I want to speak in favour of this motion to refer as well. In my 12 years in this Legislature, I have never seen a bill that has been so roundly and thoroughly criticized from so many points of the compass, at the community level, by professionals. It has been problematic for me since I first saw it. It needs work. I think we should take the time to do this right. It came very late onto the legislative agenda, I believe less than a year before the end of this term. I think it stepped over and queue-jumped over other pieces of legislation, in my opinion.

I think there are some serious flaws in this. It is very problematic setting up state police and all the issues about evidence and anonymous phone calls and all of these different issues that have been raised and they haven't been addressed even by these latest amendments offered by the Minister. So I agree that this should be looked at in a more measured and thorough way to try to address it to see if it even deserves to see the light of day. But that should be done not in the dying minutes of this Assembly but by the new, fresh Assembly that is going to be coming into office here in the next six weeks. Thank you.

Committee Motion 23-15(6): Refer Bill 7 To The Standing Committee On Social Programs, Carried
Item 20: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 537

The Chair Jane Groenewegen

Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. Next I have, to the motion, Mr. Pokiak.

Committee Motion 23-15(6): Refer Bill 7 To The Standing Committee On Social Programs, Carried
Item 20: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

August 22nd, 2007

Page 537

Calvin Pokiak Nunakput

Thank you, Madam Chair. I, too, will support this motion as put forward. This is one legislation that most of my colleagues always said that it came to us late in the game. As a member of the Social Programs committee, I think we did a very good job going into the communities to review the SCAN legislation. We heard what the people had to say. We are bringing it back. We have listened to them and we are doing what we heard. I think it is only right that the legislation be referred to the 16th Assembly. Thank you, Madam Chair.

Committee Motion 23-15(6): Refer Bill 7 To The Standing Committee On Social Programs, Carried
Item 20: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 537

The Chair Jane Groenewegen

Thank you for those brief comments, Mr. Pokiak. Next on my list to the motion is Mr. Lafferty.

Committee Motion 23-15(6): Refer Bill 7 To The Standing Committee On Social Programs, Carried
Item 20: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 537

Jackson Lafferty North Slave

Mahsi, Madam Chair. Madam Chair, it has certainly has been a roller coaster ride lately, the last couple of days or a couple of weeks, on this particular SCAN legislation that is before us. I would just like to make it clear that there was an article in the newspaper; of course, don't believe everything you read or hear. It is not the first time, of course, that the newspaper has done that, but I just want to state my piece here that this whole thing I would like to commend the Minister and his department and staff for bringing this forward.

I know where the Minister's heart is. He wants to work for the people. He is listening to the elders about the drug abuse, the substance, the dealers in the communities. At the same time, Madam Chair, the motion that is in front of us is asking for a referral to the next government. I, not just myself, but other leaders around the table here, have been consulting with our leadership amongst ourselves. This has not been an easy ride. It is a very sensitive issue. We want something done in the communities. The elders are pressuring us to have something done in the community. That is why we have been working with Minister Bell on this particular issue. At the same time, Madam Chair, you may call it flaws within the legislation. Those are issues that we need to deal with. Those may be some challenges that we must tackle. But I have been told over and over by my leadership, by elders that I have spoken to, it is always a statement that has been brought forward. I am sure other regions know for a fact that elders have always told us don't rush things, take your

time, do it right and listen to your people, listen to the people of the North, listen to your people of the region.

There is a report here that highlights that, but I must state for the record that there are people out there that want this to go through as well; maybe through SCAN or a different model, but we must tackle the drug dealers and the bootleggers in the community. It is a huge issue. Every single one of us are dealing with it on an everyday basis. This, whether it is or not, we have to move on, Madam Chair, somehow. So after considerable consultation with my respected leaders, elders and community members, I was given direction to support referring this SCAN, Bill 7, to the next government, the 16th Assembly. I think we need to take it slow. We cannot push through legislation so fast. That is what I have been told. So I just want to pass that on. Mahsi.

Committee Motion 23-15(6): Refer Bill 7 To The Standing Committee On Social Programs, Carried
Item 20: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 538

The Chair Jane Groenewegen

Thank you, Mr. Lafferty. To the motion. Next I have Mr. McLeod.

Committee Motion 23-15(6): Refer Bill 7 To The Standing Committee On Social Programs, Carried
Item 20: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 538

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Madam Chair. I, too, will be voting in favour of this motion we put forward. I commend the Minister and his department for bringing this forward. I believe they want to do the right thing. We want them to do the right thing. The whole of the Northwest Territories wants us to do the right thing. The right thing is to get these people off the streets and, as the bill says, make the neighbourhood safer. But at the same time, our committee was given this bill and we were asked to bring it out and listen to what people had to stay. I thought we did that.

It has been a tough couple of days because I hear now the bill might be going through even though people have told us that it has some flaws. There are a few amendments on the table, but I don't think that is enough. I spoke to an elder in Inuvik this afternoon that I usually call on now and then for advice. I said, what do you think? I explained to her that this was a bill that the spirit, the principle is something that we all want to see. I said, but this was a bill that was brought in from down south. This wasn't a bill like the Liquor Act that was written here by us, for us. It wasn't. She said, well, I like the idea of the bill. But the fact that it was something that was taken from down south is not going to apply up here. With some changes, it may work. But it has to be tailored for the Northwest Territories. I spoke to another lady who knows about acts and practically read the whole thing. Her view was the same. I said, well, they proposed amendments. Do you think those will work? She said no. She said it has to be a complete rewrite, as far as I'm concerned.

We have people that we call on for advice, but eventually it comes down to us as MLAs making a decision. But we have to listen to that advice. We have to. We can't come in here and then start ignoring advice after we get in here because, with two quick strokes of a pencil any one of us can be out of here that quick. If we don't listen to them, then they will exercise that right and I will respect them for that. But we do have to listen to what people are telling us. Otherwise, why have a Social Programs committee take this on the road if we are not going to listen to them? People have long memories. You didn't listen to us then. You won't listen to us now.

The spirit of this bill is very good. We have heard from social agencies. Who more than social agencies want do deal with the issues of alcohol and drugs, because they are the people in the front line that have to live with this all of the time. They have to deal with these people. When they are telling us that this is a good bill, the spirit is good but it is flawed, we have to listen to them. We are not the ones that have to deal with it. We are back here. We are sending these people to the front and we are not arming them. Then when they ask us for something, then we have to pay attention to what they say because it makes sense. They know all about this. They are the ones that are going to have to deal with these people. They are the ones that deal with the effects of alcohol and drugs and all the other social issues that go on in communities. When they speak, I show them the respect and I listen to them.

Madam Chair, I commend the Minister again, but we need one that is made in the NWT. I am going to vote in favour of referring this to Social Programs for the 16th Assembly. But this spirit is good. When we refer it to the 16th Assembly, I am positive that they will recognize that and move forward on it and not just let it disappear, because people want something done. This is a start. It has to have a solid foundation to put anything on top of it, otherwise it is just going to come crumbling down. This could be that foundation. As it is written, it is almost impossible to support. I listened to the advice of the people. Ultimately, the decision comes down to me sitting here as their representative. I have to make sure that I make the best decision on their behalf. This is what I told them I would do. Thank you.

Committee Motion 23-15(6): Refer Bill 7 To The Standing Committee On Social Programs, Carried
Item 20: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 538

The Chair Jane Groenewegen

Thank you, Mr. McLeod. To the motion. Mr. Yakeleya.

Committee Motion 23-15(6): Refer Bill 7 To The Standing Committee On Social Programs, Carried
Item 20: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Norman Yakeleya Sahtu

Thank you, Madam Chair. Madam Chair, there are many things that will catch my eye, but there are only a few things that will really catch my heart. This SCAN legislation is one of them. It is very close to me. I can really understand where the Minister is coming from. When he first introduced this bill in the House here and he brought it to committee and we took it to the road, we heard the people in the communities speak from their heart and from their personal experience. I can empathize, sympathize and can also relate with them. People that were talking, some of them are here today and some of them are not here.

Madam Chair, we are good people in our communities. Some of them are my friends who we are talking about. Some of them are my constituents who I am working for. Some of them are just not listening to anybody and just continue to do what they are going to do. It is sort of a "catch me if you can" attitude. We will catch you. There are consequences to what they are doing to our children. There are consequences to what they are doing to our people. These people are competing against us. As government, we hate competition in some of our business. These people, through this motion, may live another day just to read it. But they should really think about what they are doing to their people through this proposed legislation that the Minister has brought forward for us to think about.

I commend him because he is a leader that looked at this issue that is very serious in the North. It is something that he is proposing to do because we have talked about treatment centres and programs. It just seems like we have not enough soap box, not enough money to deliver on some of these programs we want. We could go back further to the federal government in terms of them not providing us with enough money. We go through that whole scenario. Madam Chair, the matter of the fact is that people in our communities are looking for help.

People in our communities want something to get done. We have a lot of good suggestions. This suggestion here of a SCAN, the proposed legislation, not yet. It is a good idea. It is a good concept. We need to continue working on shaping it. We have to shape it, all of us and with our members and with our elders, as Mr. Lafferty has said. Take into some serious consideration as to really think about this as workers. There are too many questions out there.

Madam Chair, I heard the people speak. I have listened to them. It is not a bad thing to defer this bill. The liquor legislation and the Workers' Compensation Board, how many Assemblies have they gone through to finally see the light of day in this Assembly? Several. The Species at Risk Act. I would love to see that we have done some work on the 15th. It is the next Assembly. That is a big piece of work. Maybe it is quite fitting that the Species at Risk Act, also this legislation go together because those things are happening. Those species are going to be at risk.

Madam Chair, we are a consensus government. All these here need to be considered with all the people, 40,000 people in our region. There is a lot of work and lots of good people out there that need help. There are a lot of ways to help them. I agree with Mr. Miltenberger, Madam Chair, in terms of we need a police officer in Colville Lake. We don't need another police officer. Colville Lake said to us in the report they want help. First, we need to go back and get our priorities straight. Again, Madam Chair, I would like to say that, when we look at this here, I am very comfortable that it will be brought up again in the 16th Assembly because this issue here we talked about so many times, Madam Chair, in assemblies in our communities, and we are going to do something about that, the bootleggers, the use of illegal drugs in our communities and other illegal activities. I think that's paving the way for government to really stand up. I commend, again, the Minister for bringing this forward, the leadership that he has brought and to say let's have some good discussions. That's government and you have to go through it slow through our consensus government. Our people out there are the ones who talk to us. I'd like to really give it some serious thought, listen to my people and prepare ourselves properly...(inaudible)...one united voice to say yes, this is a good SCAN. This bill now is ready to be implemented. Madam Chair, I'm going to support the motion. Thank you.

Committee Motion 23-15(6): Refer Bill 7 To The Standing Committee On Social Programs, Carried
Item 20: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 539

The Chair Jane Groenewegen

Thank you, Mr. Yakeleya. To the motion. Mr. Ramsay.

Committee Motion 23-15(6): Refer Bill 7 To The Standing Committee On Social Programs, Carried
Item 20: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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David Ramsay Kam Lake

Thank you, Madam Chair. I'd like to start off by thanking the Department of Justice, especially Minister Bell for his determination in bringing forward this piece of legislation, Bill 7. Obviously, you know, Members have concerns with the rollout of Bill 7. There's a motion before us to refer it back to standing committee. I see the mood and the sentiment in the room is to do that, to refer it back for further review and I just want to say I respect the wishes of my colleagues in doing that. Although I do have a few things that I wanted to say and, again, we've heard from so many of our constituents, and you can go around the room here today, that drugs and alcohol are existing in our communities and causing untold devastation, especially to our young people and families in our communities. There are crack houses, there is bootlegging, and we need to do something about that. Taking action is something I believe needs to be done and we need to show some leadership and show our constituents that we are listening to them and that we are going to try to help give them the tools to help protect themselves so that those who choose to partake in illegal activities in our communities aren't going to be tolerated.

I personally take little pity on those who prey on the weaknesses of others, specifically children. It's hard to put a price on what it would mean to a mother and a father whose young son or daughter frequents a crack house, gets their crack at the same house everyday, the neighbours who have to live next door to the crack house and see this type of activity going on. Or in a small community, the family that loses a son or daughter on a drunken snowmobile ride that got a bottle from the local bootlegger. It's hard to put a price on lives. Madam Chair, we're losing far too many of our young people to the ravages of drugs and alcohol. I really believe we need to listen, we need to understand and we have to come up with a plan to address this. We can't just sit idly by and watch these things happen in our communities.

I know my colleagues are interested in seeing something put in place, whether it's Bill 7, maybe a fix, you know, if we get some more northern content in it, if it's made in the North. There's a myriad of things we could take a look at doing, but I want to go on record today and say if I am back in this House during the life of the 16th Legislative Assembly, I am going to take a serious run at crack houses and bootlegging and see to it that the work that Mr. Bell and the Department of Justice have started gets concluded and that work towards shutting down crack houses, shutting out bootleggers, continues. We have to do that. We have to come up with a mechanism to rid our communities of these people, Madam Chair. It's as simple as that.

Before I go, I came here today, and this has been one of the biggest struggles I've had to deal with as a Member because I feel so passionately about what drugs and alcohol do to our young people and I want to give, you know...I've got a crack house in my riding. I get calls from constituents about traffic there day and night. It's a difficult situation to be in to get calls from your constituents and there's nothing you can do to shut down that crack house. The police know about it; they get calls every day as well. I think something like this, this might not be a fit, and again, I respect my colleagues and I respect their thoughts and their feelings. You know, I came here to today and I always like a good fight. I mean if you want to fight, I mean, I'll stand on principle, I'll do what I have to do; but as much as I like a good fight, I also like to listen and I also like to listen especially to my colleagues and their concerns and especially the public. You know, the feedback I receive on SCAN and the interest that's been shown in the community, I take all the e-mails, I take all the phone calls I get, I take them to heart, I really do. If folks in the community feel that this legislation needs more work and Members of the Social Programs committee have obviously said they'd like to see it have some more work, that's something I respect.

Again, it's time we did something and that to me is the bottom line. Sooner or later the Government of the Northwest Territories is going to have to do something to impact the operation of crack houses and bootlegging operations in the Northwest Territories. Sooner or later and that day is coming. I think, Madam Chair, all crack dealers and crack houses and bootleggers should be on notice that the next government is going to put in place

something to tackle that big bad issue that we really need to start working on, Madam Chair.

Again, I want to thank my colleagues, especially Minister Bell who's put so much time and effort and work into Bill 7. Thank you, Madam Chair.