This is page numbers 2821 - 2866 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 agreed.

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Question 263-16(3): Location Of Federal Government’s Northern Development Agency Office
Oral Questions

Floyd Roland Inuvik Boot Lake

The more this session goes on the more we’re in agreement with where we need to go in our approach with the three territories, ourselves, and the First Nations within the Territories. We will continue and I will commit to working with the Premiers. I will commit to working with the regional aboriginal leadership within the Northwest Territories to coming up with an approach that makes sense and builds our business case on a common front of what we see moving to the North and engaging the federal government on that.

Question 263-16(3): Location Of Federal Government’s Northern Development Agency Office
Oral Questions

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Roland. The honourable Member for Weledeh, Mr. Bromley.

Question 264-16(3): Transboundary Water Agreements
Oral Questions

March 5th, 2009

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Minister of ENR. We had a briefing today from the Pembina Institute for appropriate development on the tar sands entitled, “The Waters That Bind Us: Transboundary Implications of Oil Sands Development”. We learned that the NWT has only one transboundary agreement right now and that’s with Yukon. Major developments are proposed in the headwaters of the Peel River watershed with big implications for downstream communities of Tsiigehtchic, Fort McPherson, and so on. Yet the agreement with Yukon has no teeth, even though we have it. Northerners are obviously very concerned about this. Will the Minister commit to renegotiating that agreement and establishing some real teeth, some binding agreements in the Yukon transboundary agreement with specific targets on water quality and quantity to protect NWT watersheds and people?

Question 264-16(3): Transboundary Water Agreements
Oral Questions

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Bromley. The honourable Minister responsible for Environment and Natural Resources, Mr. Miltenberger.

Question 264-16(3): Transboundary Water Agreements
Oral Questions

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Mackenzie River Basin Transboundary Agreement was signed in 1997. We’re one of six signatories: the federal government, Saskatchewan, Alberta, B.C., Yukon, and the Northwest Territories. As well, there’s aboriginal representation. It was signed almost 12 years ago now in a different time and different place. The sensitivity about water has gone up by orders of magnitude. We have been pushing for a full meeting on the Mackenzie River Basin Board to talk about the transboundary agreement, to talk about the bilaterals, to talk about how do we move forward with integrated watershed management. We’ve been raising the issue at the FPT table for a National Water Strategy. We have it on our list of things to do. It’s not something we can do unilaterally. It’s going to take cooperation and it’s going to take the commitment and buy-in by a lot of players, especially for us and the federal government.

Question 264-16(3): Transboundary Water Agreements
Oral Questions

Bob Bromley Weledeh

I appreciate the comments from the Minister. As I mentioned and as he is well aware, this is a very strong and emotional and meaningful issue to the people of the North. Are we also fighting for a seat at the management table for the tar sands development given that we are most vulnerable and, of course, immediately downstream from these developments? Are we fighting for a seat, a major voice in the participation of the management of the tar sands development?

Question 264-16(3): Transboundary Water Agreements
Oral Questions

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Our first and major focus of attention has been to move forward and get this Northern Voices, Northern Water Strategy developed with buy-in for the aboriginal governments that will lay out in considerable detail the principles and all the key areas and issues of where we want to focus our attention, how we intend to move forward, and what will be our policy base as we look at negotiating the bilaterals, looking at other areas we want to be involved in on a transboundary nature, as well as to be able to better guide our thinking as we look at all the resource development in the Territory. That has been our focus. We haven’t asked for a seat at any particular management table in Alberta.

Question 264-16(3): Transboundary Water Agreements
Oral Questions

Bob Bromley Weledeh

I’d also like to, well, perhaps I could, Mr. Speaker, for clarification, do I only have a couple questions left here? Perhaps I could request that the Minister commit to working to establish ourselves at that management table given that these transboundary agreements will undoubtedly take many years. They’ve already taken decades. I’m sure with this Minister at the helm it’s going to take a lot shorter time than that now. But, nevertheless, we can expect it to be years. Would the Minister go for a role at the management table so that we can actually protect ourselves? These water bodies, these toxic ponds

measured from the satellites are perched right on the shore of the Athabasca and can crumble at any time.

Question 264-16(3): Transboundary Water Agreements
Oral Questions

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

I would like to submit that we have through the Premier accessed at the highest level and, as myself as Minister of Environment, I also have the ability to deal directly with my counterpart in Alberta. I know the intent of the Member would be to have us sitting on a working basis at the table. For us to do that we have to do the first fundamental foundational work, which is to get that strategy in place, get the policy accepted, and then map out how we’re going to deal with transboundary issues, both through the Mackenzie River Basin Transboundary Agreement as well as a more one-on-one relationship with the Province of Alberta.

Question 264-16(3): Transboundary Water Agreements
Oral Questions

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. Final supplementary, Mr. Bromley.

Question 264-16(3): Transboundary Water Agreements
Oral Questions

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thank you for those comments from the Minister. I appreciate that the Premier is at the table, but I have to make the observation that here we are in this situation. If the Premier was at the table, how did this happen? I really do think we need to try to do something fairly quickly to address this. I’d like to ask the Minister, they’ve just started a review of the tar sands development at the federal level. I’m sure they’re looking for input. Will this Minister aggressively participate in that review and offer the perspectives of Northerners on what they’re feeling with the vulnerability to this development?

Question 264-16(3): Transboundary Water Agreements
Oral Questions

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

I became aware of this committee that the House of Parliament is setting up. I’ve asked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to give us a briefing note that I can take to Cabinet for consideration about looking for possible standing at the committee hearings to be able to make the case for concerns about integrated watershed management, the need for the National Water Strategy, downstream concerns, and all those very fundamental and pressing issues.

Question 264-16(3): Transboundary Water Agreements
Oral Questions

The Speaker Paul Delorey

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

Question 265-16(3): Conflict Between Health Care And Dental Plans
Oral Questions

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The issue I raised today in my Member’s statement is quite a pointillist problem. I’m not trying to distemper the system, but the fact is often the problem is created in the process. Certainly the Department of Health isn’t the issue here, but I

want to make sure the Department of Health doesn’t become the issue in the sense that it becomes timely and the process overtakes the problem. The issue right now is my constituent’s trying to get an appointment with her doctor. That doctor will need time to review the file. That will require time for consideration. That will require more time for arranging specialists. We all know here, quite clearly, that when you try to navigate the system by getting a hold of a specialist in certain time, that’s a very valuable thing when you get an appointment from the specialist.

Clearly saying that the Department of Health isn’t the issue, I just want to make sure that if my constituent hits the wall when they try to get this appointment and support from their doctor to get a referral to the specialist, will the Minister of Health and Social Services be willing to keep a watchful eye on this file to make sure that she gets the support she needs and the treatment of this tumour?

Question 265-16(3): Conflict Between Health Care And Dental Plans
Oral Questions

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Hawkins. The honourable Minister responsible for Health and Social Services, Ms. Lee.