This is page numbers 5263 - 5292 of the Hansard for the 16th Assembly, 5th 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 social.


The House met at 1:40 p.m.



The Speaker Paul Delorey

Good afternoon, colleagues. Welcome back to the Chamber. Orders of the day. Item 2, Ministers’ statements. The honourable Premier, Mr. Roland.

Minister’s Statement 65-16(5): Devolution Agreement-In-Principle, Impact On Land Claims And Protection Of Aboriginal Rights
Ministers’ Statements

Inuvik Boot Lake

Floyd Roland Premier

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Government of the Northwest Territories is only partway through a process on a devolution agreement-in-principal that has not yet concluded. Cabinet has not yet formally considered the proposed agreement-in-principle and we are still waiting to hear from aboriginal governments. While we have not made a final decision about next steps, I believe that it is important to take some time now to speak to some of the misconceptions and misinformation that have arisen since the leak of the proposed AIP a little more than a week ago.

Much has been said and reported in the media over the last week about the supposed impact of devolution on existing land claims and current land resources and self-government negotiations. There’s been speculation that the draft devolution agreement-in-principle somehow prejudices current aboriginal rights negotiations and that governments would be violating existing land claims agreements if the draft devolution agreement-in-principle were to be approved. Nothing is further from the truth. Mr. Speaker, I would like to use my statement today to provide information on this subject in an effort to support the discussion that is grounded in fact.

First of all, the land claim agreements are modern treaties and, therefore, constitutionally protected. In concrete terms, that means if there were a conflict between a devolution agreement and a land claim, the land claim prevails.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to point out that existing land claim agreements anticipated

devolution. The Gwich’in, Sahtu and Tlicho agreements include statements that nothing in the land claim will prejudice the devolution of jurisdictions from Canada to the GNWT. It is important to understand this demonstrates that land claim agreements were never intended to prevent the devolution of authorities from Canada to the GNWT.

The GNWT has made commitments to the aboriginal parties to involve them in devolution negotiations. The GNWT has fully honoured these commitments and will continue to do so.

And, Mr. Speaker, the draft devolution agreement-in-principle includes specific protections for existing aboriginal treaty rights and settlements as well as future settlements.

It is important to understand that current regional land resources and self-government negotiations are based on, or a regionalization of, the 1990 unratified draft Final Dene-Metis Agreement. What that means in concrete terms is that land and cash offers are based on the unratified Dene-Metis Agreement. Devolution has no influence or effect on Canada’s offer at negotiations regarding land and cash.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to clarify statements that the subject matters for negotiation in devolution talks are the same as those in self-government negotiations. Simply put, that is not true. First of all, devolution deals with administration and control over Crown lands. Land claim agreements and self-government agreements address the aboriginal party’s authority to administer and control settlement land. Land claim agreements also address the land, water and environmental regulation throughout the settlement area.

This regulatory regime applies to all parties who own land, be it settlement corporations, aboriginal governments, other third parties, or the federal government or the GNWT as it administers Crown land. The single integrated system of resource management throughout the Mackenzie Valley was a central feature of the draft Dene-Metis Final Agreement and nothing in a devolution agreement can affect that.

Furthermore, the focus of self-government negotiation is in areas such as education, social assistance, child protection, adoption and social

housing. Devolution negotiations, on the other hand, only address the powers and authorities of a public government to administer and control public land.

I would like to assure Members of this House, the public, and our aboriginal partners that the ownership of land and resources, both surface and subsurface, recognized under existing or future land claims will not be jeopardized by a devolution agreement. Aboriginal people, through their claimant organizations, will continue to be significant landowners in this Territory. With or without devolution, the Inuvialuit, Gwich’in, Sahtu, and Tlicho will all continue to own the surface and subsurface lands identified in their respective agreements.

In addition, the Gwich’in, Sahtu, and Tlicho agreements have specific chapters dealing with resource royalties that already provide them a share of all resource royalties collected throughout the Mackenzie Valley. Additional resource revenues will be offered to aboriginal governments as part of our final agreement on devolution.

I believe we may have the basis for a deal on devolution that will create real benefits and opportunities, that will bring decision-making about the North to the North for all residents of the Northwest Territories. In the next few days you will hear more from me and other Ministers on the subject of net fiscal benefit, environmental protection, aboriginal participation in negotiations and A-base funding. I trust that the information we provide will contribute to an informed discussion as we consider the merits of the proposed AIP and our next steps over the coming days and weeks.

Minister’s Statement 65-16(5): Devolution Agreement-In-Principle, Impact On Land Claims And Protection Of Aboriginal Rights
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

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

Motion To Move Minister’s Statement 65-16(5) Into Committee Of The Whole, Carried
Ministers’ Statements

David Krutko Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Weledeh, that Minister’s Statement 65-16(5) be moved into Committee of the Whole.


Motion To Move Minister’s Statement 65-16(5) Into Committee Of The Whole, Carried
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

The honourable Minister responsible for Education, Culture and Employment, Mr. Lafferty.

Minister’s Statement 66-16(5): Culture And Heritage Updates
Ministers’ Statements

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. The Northwest Territories has a rich cultural history we need to continue to explore and celebrate. I’m pleased to share successful projects

supported by the culture and heritage division at the Department of Education, Culture and Employment.

These projects demonstrate our commitment to research, preserve and share information while highlighting our commitment to showcasing and promoting vibrant cultures of today.

This past summer the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre was a tourist destination for visitors and Northerners alike; over 12,000 visitors enjoyed the new exhibits.

This fall and winter the heritage centre is hosting three new displays of northern heritage, art and culture:

1. Frozen Eyes - Open Minds is a colourful

display of over 80 photographs of youth and photographer mentors, showing modern life in Deline, Fort Simpson, Fort Liard, Fort Smith, N’dilo and Yellowknife.

2. The Sissons and Morrow Collection is a

historic collection of carvings and objects on loan from GNWT Department of Justice.

3. Seasons of Beauty is a series of photographs

by the well-known priest and photographer Father Rene Fumoleau.

The Northwest Territories Ice Patch Study continues for a fifth year on the ancient glaciers of the Mackenzie Mountains. This is a partnership program with the Tulita Dene Band and archaeologists from the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre.

Mr. Speaker, the Ice Patch Study revealed ancient Dene artefacts, well-preserved in ice for thousands of years. The artefacts tell the story of when and where the Dene hunted for caribou and other animals.

In Canada, geographical features are named in honour of men and women in the Canadian Armed Forces who died in service of their country. In the Northwest Territories, official commemorations were made during, or shortly following, the Second World War to honour Canadian war casualties, Victoria Cross winners, military leaders, military actions and naval actions.

Three hundred sixteen official geographical names in the Northwest Territories commemorate war casualties. Lists are posted on the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre website in time for Remembrance Day.

Making creative art contributes to the quality of life for artists and for residents who enjoy art. Throughout the 25th anniversary of the NWT Arts

Council, 70 creative projects were approved for funding. This is a testament to the continued vitality and talents of our artists.

I want to encourage all Members of the Legislative Assembly to visit the Prince of Wales Northern

Heritage Centre website to learn more about the upcoming cultural and heritage activities and exhibits. It will also give you a chance to become a fan of our new Facebook page. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker,

Minister’s Statement 66-16(5): Culture And Heritage Updates
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Lafferty. The honourable Minister responsible for Municipal and Community Affairs, Mr. Robert McLeod.

Minister’s Statement 67-16(5): Physical Activity And Sport Program
Ministers’ Statements

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I am pleased to provide Members with an update on several initiatives that support the 16th Legislative Assembly vision and goals by

promoting healthy choices and lifestyles and contributing to the physical and mental well-being of our youth.

The Department of Municipal and Community Affairs and its Healthy Choices partners -- Health and Social Services, ECE, Justice, Transportation, the aboriginal governments and the Aboriginal Sport Circle -- work with families, community governments and schools to encourage individuals and families to take responsibility for their well-being and to become physically active. Our common goal is to motivate all residents to lead healthier lifestyles. We consider physical activity an important pillar of the Healthy Choices Framework.

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to report on a number of initiatives the department announced earlier this year.

First, the new Regional Youth Sport Events Program is designed to strengthen local programming in smaller and remote communities, to support athletes and coaches and to improve youth participation in physical activity. I am happy to announce that the department supported 24 sports events in 19 communities in the first year of the program.

Second, the Active After School Funding Program provides financial support to schools and community groups to offer programming that gets kids moving after school. In partnership with the NWT Sport and Recreation Council, the department is providing funding to the Active After School Program for the second time this winter. The program supported 17 projects in 13 communities in 2009-2010. Later this fall the 2010-2011 funding recipients will be announced and we anticipate that the 2009-2010 participation rates will increase significantly, with each community in the Northwest Territories hosting at least one Active After School Program this year.

Third, the department has also been busy expanding programming for youth. During the summer the department, assisted by some very energetic students and interns, supported the wide

range of single and multi-sport camps in 14 communities. During the upcoming winter the department will deliver 10 traditional northern and Dene game camps in five regions.

Finally, I would like to draw your attention to our seasonal Get Active NWT campaign, created in 2006. Get Active NWT encourages community groups to organize local events that motivate residents to be physically active. The department, the NWT Recreation and Parks Association and First Air have teamed up to provide local program grants and other incentives. The Department of Municipal and Community Affairs anticipates that nearly 100 community events for all ages will receive funding this year.

Mr. Speaker, the numbers speak for themselves. In 2009, Active Healthy Kids Canada reported that up to 85 percent of youth in the Northwest Territories lack physical activity. That is why our government must continue to encourage healthy lifestyle choices and promote physical activity so that we can demonstrate and document improvements in the health and well-being of our residents in the future.

In conclusion, I would like to celebrate our successes and thank all the Members for their support in these program initiatives. I would like to encourage Members to continue promoting a healthy and active lifestyles in communities and challenge you to lead by example. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister’s Statement 67-16(5): Physical Activity And Sport Program
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. McLeod. Item 3, Members’ statements. The honourable Member for Great Slave, Mr. Abernethy.

Draft Devolution Agreement-In-Principle
Members’ Statements

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Over the last couple of weeks there has been a lot of talk about this draft agreement-in-principle which the government is currently considering.

Devolution and resource revenue sharing were important topics during the 2007 campaign. I heard many people from across the NWT. They were saying that it needs to be done and that it needs to be done now, that a deal must be struck.

So here we are; a potential deal is at hand. If this AIP is signed, we as a government and as a people will be able to take an important next step and begin the process of negotiating a final deal, a deal which would give residents of the NWT an ability to make decisions on managing public lands, water and resources, protecting the environment and managing the location and pace of development, establish our own NWT vision for land and resource

management, socio-economic planning and environmental stewardship, putting into place new approaches to meet NWT’s resource development, infrastructure and investment requirements, and, Mr. Speaker, importantly, stopping the flow of hundreds of millions of dollars to Ottawa and providing the people of the Northwest Territories with net fiscal benefits from resource development.

Mr. Speaker, I respect the go-forward process that the Premier has referenced when asked questions on the AIP last week. Unfortunately, I believe that this is now impossible or at least seriously compromised. The details of the AIP have been released and are now public. They are on the CBC website. My concern is not that they be made public. Rather, my concern is that people don’t understand what this AIP means. This is clear if you actually take a look at the CBC blog which suggests that, although it is available for people to read, they either haven’t read it or, if they did, they don’t understand it. It is not an easy read, Mr. Speaker. I am happy the Premier actually made some clarifications today.

Mr. Speaker, this is an important time for the people of the Northwest Territories. The Premier must ensure that everyone understands this AIP. We all must ensure that our constituents understand the AIP so that we can hear them and we can all make informed decisions in the best interests of all of our people, aboriginal and non-aboriginal alike, and for the future of our Territories.

Later this afternoon I will be asking the Premier some questions on how he and his Cabinet intend to inform the people of the Northwest Territories on the details and realities of this AIP, how he intends to explain the content and ensure as much as possible that people understand how this AIP may benefit all of our people, how this deal improves upon the Yukon deal, how we will be able to use this AIP to negotiate a final deal with our aboriginal partners which gives us the ability to develop and implement vision for land and resource management, socio-economic planning and environmental stewardship.

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

---Unanimous consent granted

Draft Devolution Agreement-In-Principle
Members’ Statements

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

Mr. Speaker, I believe that the NWT public share in the optimism that the prospect of managing our own resources and gaining more control over our economy brings. We have been here many times before and somehow we manage to squander it every time it comes up. We must move forward based on mutual interests. We must work together. To make things better, we must be informed about the issues. We must want a strong Territory for all of our residents regardless of the geographical location and we must act.

Mr. Speaker, I suggest that we know about the benefits of devolution and about the risks. We care about making things better and know that we need to control our resources and gain net fiscal benefits to do something about it. So let’s do it, Mr. Speaker. Thank you.

Draft Devolution Agreement-In-Principle
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

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

Closure Of Edmonton Municipal Airport
Members’ Statements

Kevin A. Menicoche Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I am going to speak about the planned closure of the Edmonton Municipal Airport. This definitely will affect my constituents directly. Should this become an eventuality, people from the Nahendeh riding will have to experience a time element important for emergency medevacs. This amount of time can be the difference between life and death.

We, of course, do not see yet any alternate plans to serve the people of the North. The media in Alberta has reported the tentative plans of using the Edmonton International Airport and ambulances, and then there is the report that routing northern medevacs all the way to Calgary. This does not make any sense to us. It might for Albertans, but not to us Northerners. We are stakeholders in this whole debate. We should be part of the process of developing a strategy to accommodate medical needs should they close this airport.

I think it is also important for Northerners to know what our strategy is. What will the Minister of Health and Social Services and our government do to best serve our emergency medical needs? Remaining silent on this issue is not an option. Saying it is a decision of the City of Edmonton is the wrong thing to do.

We must be vocal and we must have a good strategy to take care of our residents in the Northwest Territories. We do have some time; a couple of years at the most, I think. Before this happens we should use that time wisely and use every resource we have to develop the best strategy for our North and Northerners.