This is page numbers 1921 to 1954 of the Hansard for the 16th Assembly, 3rd Session. The original version can be accessed on the Legislative Assembly's website or by contacting the Legislative Assembly Library. The word of the day was honourable.

Topics

Promoting The GNWT As An Employer Of Choice
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Bromley. The honourable Member for Sahtu, Mr. Yakeleya.

Elders Advisory Council For The Legislative Assembly
Members’ Statements

October 24th, 2008

Norman Yakeleya Sahtu

In May of 2008 a Senator, Aurélien Gill, an elder and former chief of the Montagnais, introduced a private Member’s bill in the Senate. This bill proposed to introduce a third House, an

assembly for aboriginal people, into the parliamentary system of Canada.

Senator Gill believed that such a third Chamber would give the aboriginal people of Canada a voice in political decision-making. This idea has history. The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples recommends the introduction of an aboriginal parliamentary act. The concept of an Assembly for aboriginal people was also discussed in the Constitution negotiations in the Charlottetown Accord.

Mr. Speaker, the intent of these recommendations, the intention of a private Member’s bill, is to involve aboriginal people in the country’s affairs and particularly in affairs that affect the aboriginal people themselves.

Please allow me to make this connection to the North. Over the life of the 16th Assembly I have

repeatedly promoted the need for an elders’ council. I have spoken to the need for the federal government to get out of the Big Brother role and allow us, as Northern people, to make our own decisions where our lives and our livelihoods are concerned.

I spoke about the model that Nunavut has adopted by establishing a permanent advisory council to get input from elders on traditional knowledge. This concerns the business we have in the Northwest Territories. We need to make connections between the past, with our traditions, and the future, by younger generations. We need a vision on how to deal with the land and the animals and how we make our living in our communities in the Northwest Territories. We need the full participation of aboriginal people and elders in the decision-making process that will shape our future.

Setting up an advisory council will ensure that traditional culture and the values of our people are reflected in government business. We need to ensure that the evolution of the Northwest Territories has a strong base in traditional knowledge and values and the wisdom of our elders is carried on through our policies and regulations.

Mr. Speaker, recently in the Sahtu we lost more elders to death due to natural causes. Each time we bury our elders, we lose our culture, our values and our history, and sadly, we’re not putting that into our decision-making in this government for us to carry through.

Mr. Speaker, I will be asking questions of the appropriate Minister at the appropriate time. Thank you.

Elders Advisory Council For The Legislative Assembly
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Yakeleya. The honourable Member for Tu Nedhe, Mr. Beaulieu.

Subsistence Hunting Of Bison
Members’ Statements

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe

Mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker. [English translation not provided.]

Today I want to talk about hunting buffalo. For years the Dene elders have hunted buffalo for subsistence purposes. However, today they are telling elders that you can’t hunt unless you have a tag. At the same time, some non-native persons, southerners, are allowed to hunt bison — hunt for sport — because they’ve got tags.

Elders are confused by this. Traditional harvesting of bison by our Dene people has been going on for years. These elders are expert hunters who have traditional knowledge for hunting bison. Mr. Speaker, with caribou numbers down across the Northwest Territories, elders are once again looking to the traditional practice of hunting bison for food.

In the South Slave region this practice is allowed. If a bison wanders outside the Wood Buffalo National Park, elders can harvest them without repercussion. However, if an elder wishes to harvest bison in the North Slave outside the wood bison sanctuary, they are told they cannot do it.

Traditional harvesting of bison is already going on and has been going on outside the Wood Buffalo National Park for years. This should be allowed outside the wood bison sanctuary. Mr. Speaker, let me make it very clear. I’m not talking about harvesting bison by just anybody. I’m talking about traditional harvesting by Dene elders

elders who

have been raised on buffalo meat, elders who are expert hunters and can tell what kind of animal they are looking for and know how to shoot them. When these elders kill and skin their buffalo, there is nothing left; every part of the bison is used.

Giving a tag to an elder who has hunted bison all his life and telling him he must watch a two hour video on bison, telling him to study a piece of paper about bison horns so he doesn’t shoot a cow, assigning him a guide who is supposed to be an expert and giving him a lab kit for samples for the killed bison is totally disrespectful to the elders.

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

Unanimous consent granted.

Subsistence Hunting Of Bison
Members’ Statements

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thank you, colleagues. Giving an elder a sample kit of the killed bison is totally disrespectful to the elder and to the value of the traditional knowledge they possess.

I understand the importance of conservation. I also understand the importance of preserving the value of traditional harvesting practices. Consulting with

and allowing these Dene elders who have hunted bison all their lives to hunt bison for subsistence purposes only addresses and satisfies those two important values.

Subsistence Hunting Of Bison
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Beaulieu. The honourable Member for Mackenzie Delta, Mr. Krutko.

Policing Services In Small Communities
Members’ Statements

David Krutko Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Policing in northern communities is a very essential service that a lot take for granted. There are a lot of small communities — I believe there are some eight communities — that don’t have policing services in the Northwest Territories.

I think it is paramount on this government that we do whatever we can to provide some service, regardless if it’s scheduled service or, in most cases, ensuring that we have a process where the community feels that they can see the RCMP once in a while in the communities, either once or twice a week in every month, if possible.

Mr. Speaker, policing in Tsiigehtchic has always been an outstanding issue. We held a meeting this summer along with the Minister of Justice to talk about policing issues. The community has made an attempt to assist the RCMP by working along with the RCMP through the community justice committee to try to find accommodation for the RCMP to overnight in that community. But we’re being told by the RCMP: well, the accommodation was great, but it doesn’t have a phone, and we don’t have communication access. As we all know, in this day and age we have cellphones; we have satphones. Communication should not be a reason to not overnight in that community.

The communities have tried everything they can to reduce the amount of liquor consumption in communities. Tsiigehtchic was one of the few communities that stepped forward to implement regulations under the Liquor Act to ask for prohibition in that community. For several years now the prohibition order has been in place, but without enforcement the legislation doesn’t mean anything.

Mr. Speaker, the community has been working through the community justice committee to find ways to deal with crime, breaches of legislation, such as the Liquor Act. But without a secure police force and also ensuring the community feels safe, the community has found itself dealing with and responding to emergencies more and more.

I will be asking the Minister in regard to some of the actions that he committed to in that public meeting in Tsiigehtchic at the appropriate time.

Policing Services In Small Communities
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Krutko. The honourable Member for Hay River South, Mrs. Groenewegen.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Prevention Options
Members’ Statements

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to use my Member’s statement today to draw attention to what I think may be a gap in our social safety net here in the Northwest Territories.

We probably have a disproportionately high rate of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder in the Northwest Territories. I think there need to be options that are made available to young women who are pregnant. Certainly, there is the legal option of having an abortion, but for those young women who wish to carry a pregnancy to term and who wish to give birth to a healthy child but find themselves in situations where they may be at risk and there are social pressures on them for either alcohol or substance abuse, I think we have a duty to provide them with an option.

Rather than building an institution around this need, I believe there could be caring homes and families in our territory and our communities that would provide a home for a young woman, to create a supportive caring environment. This would be something that would be available on a referral basis for a young woman who would choose such an option. During that time it would, in a healthy home, remove some of the social pressures on that young person and also provide a wonderful opportunity for the transfer of some knowledge and some guidance.

I view this as a potential gap in our social safety network. I believe that when we consider the costs, both monetary and human, the cost is in lives that would often be supported by this government by institutional or supported living for children and adults going forward in life who are affected by fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. When we compare the cost of that support to what it might cost to provide what really is the equivalent of room and board on maybe a foster family type model…. When you consider those costs, both the human and monetary costs, I think that we the government could do more and should do something.

Like I said, I’m not talking about building an institution around this, and I’m not talking about exorbitant costs, but I believe we need to create options for young women who are pregnant and at risk. I’ll have questions for the Minister of Health and Social Services later today.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Prevention Options
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mrs. Groenewegen. The honourable Member for Kam Lake, Mr. Ramsay.

Government Fiscal Prudence
Members’ Statements

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This being the last day of the fall session, I wanted to speak again about where our focus needs to be as a government.

I recently had a constituency meeting where I heard from many constituents that are adamantly opposed to tax increases that will increase the cost of living. Apparently, Mr. Speaker, this is the biggest issue facing our residents. Obviously, I share their concern, and I’m interested in trying to find ways to make it less expensive for people to live here. That is why I will fight any proposed tax that increases the cost of living, whether directly or indirectly.

This government seems completely out to lunch when it comes to planning for the future. The government comes nowhere close to reduction targets it sets for itself. Then they reinvest almost as much as they reduce spending by. This is a very haphazard and dangerous pursuit. As a government we are living way beyond our means: $170 million for a new bridge, $115 million for a new school, $22

million for a new garage,

$26 million for new office buildings, and numerous other niceties. In case Cabinet has not noticed, there is the very real and pressing issue of the global economic meltdown currently underway.

Just yesterday the Bank of Canada stated that Canada was on the brink of a recession. On paper, many people here in the Northwest Territories and around Canada have lost thousands and thousands of dollars in savings and RRSPs. The credit crunch will come. Commodity prices are sinking. The loonie has lost nearly 20 per cent of its value in the last month. All levels of the government will be facing tough times ahead, yet we walk aimlessly along, oblivious to what is going on around us.

I question why our Premier was not at the First Ministers meeting held in Montreal on Monday. That discussion centred around the growing fear and realization that governments are going to be faced with possible deficits. The federal government may have no choice but to cut equalization payments. This will severely impact our operations and our ability to look after our people. Why is it that we continue to spend like drunken sailors, Mr. Speaker? We all play a part in this, and demands in our constituencies often call upon us to ask government for program enhancements, capital projects and funding.

Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to put out the caution flag to government today and to the Members that we always need to keep in mind our need to live within our means.

Government Fiscal Prudence
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Ramsay. The honourable Member for Nahendeh, Mr. Menicoche.

Impact Of Program Reductions On Nehendeh Communities
Members’ Statements

Kevin A. Menicoche Nahendeh

[English translation not provided.]

Mr. Speaker, I wish to speak again about the initiatives and the needs of our small communities and convey the needs of my constituency. My constituency has expressed over the past four weeks the frustration of getting services to our communities and frustration about the interruption of ministerial portfolios that has impacted delivery of programs and delayed and deferred initiatives. That’s never popular with people who are waiting on programming.

However, I do want to say that I am a realist and that bringing up these issues doesn’t…. The main thing, I think, is that we continue to raise these issues in the House and give government a heads-up that they do need to accept and evaluate our needs, ensure that they fit into our existing guidelines and procedures and, if not, take the time to see if they can make it work.

I do want to continue to advocate for my constituency in that I’m supportive of nursing in Wrigley, the improved development of Highway No. 7, improvement to the nuisancemanagement of the buffalo in Fort Liard and also a reassessment of how we provide housing. Small constituencies like Nahendeh that also have a depressed economy are — not by choice — impacted by changes in government priority, meaning that job cuts and reduced programs have a big impact.

Overall, I just want to say that the government’s got to be aware that their decisions impact my communities tenfold, I would say. A reduction of one job is huge in a community that only has two community government jobs. Reducing programming has taken away job opportunities and contracting opportunities for our communities that have limited resources, Mr. Speaker.

So I would like to key in on that when allocating resources to our communities. Government’s got to be aware and take in all the regional balances and the different impacts that it would have. Mahsi.

Impact Of Program Reductions On Nehendeh Communities
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Menicoche. The honourable Member for Yellowknife Centre, Mr. Hawkins.

GNWT Zero-Based Review
Members’ Statements

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I continue to remind this government about the need for a zero basedreview before any tax increases.

I started this session several weeks ago raising the concerns of many of my constituents in this city regarding the way the government potentially wants to tax-monger these new ideas through our next budget process. Mr. Speaker, 23 days ago I raised this issue, and I would continue to raise this issue. The fact is the Finance Minister must listen to the people. They cannot bear being punished with further taxes. Good fiscal management needs to be the philosophy.

Again I say that we do not have a revenue problem; we have a spending problem, Mr. Speaker. I hope the Finance Minister is listening to all the feedback he has heard from this side of the House and certainly from constituents, as I have.

The fact is the knife cuts both ways. Yes, we might get a short term increase in taxes, but in the long term we’ll erode our tax base. Think carefully, I say to the Finance Minister; think carefully. I stand firmly here today reminding the Finance Minister that almost every one of those should be dropped, if not every one of those. They should have had the red pen treatment and fallen onto the floor and been struck off long before public consultation was considered.

Mr. Speaker, the public at large can no longer bear unnecessary costs to a regular cost of living. This government has not proven to any degree that it is working as hard as it can with the sharpest pencils and doing government in the best and the most efficient way.

Mr. Speaker, they cannot take it, nor will I. I say to the Finance Minister: heed the warning of the public, because I can use the drumming of restless constituents who will demand responses — and measured responses. That discussion paper released by the Department of Finance has caused serious ripples in our North. People in industry are starting to second-guess this investment climate. Individuals are concerned about covering day to day costs. The tone of the economic environment in our North is struck and rung clearly by the Finance Minister.

I have a message for that Finance Minister: before you run out into that dark room and draw up the next budget, be careful which tax bell you ring and how hard it is rung. You cannot unring a tax bell that scares the investment climate and destroys the tax base. Be careful, Mr. Finance Minister.