This is page numbers 5493 - 5530 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 territories.

Topics

The House met at 1:40 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Good afternoon, colleagues. Welcome back to the Chamber. I welcome our guests to the gallery today. Orders of the day. Item 2, Ministers’ statements. The honourable Premier, Mr. Roland.

Minister’s Statement 86-16(5): Next Steps Towards Devolution
Ministers’ Statements

Inuvik Boot Lake

Floyd Roland Premier

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The transfer of authority for public lands and resources to the Government of the Northwest Territories will create major benefits and opportunities for our people.

Approval of the proposed AIP will be a critical step in our negotiations with Canada, but it is just another step. It is not the final agreement and it will not be legally binding.

Throughout our negotiations, there have been other times when the parties have signed agreements confirming their plans and intentions. We saw this when Canada, the GNWT and aboriginal governments endorsed the Memorandum of Intent in 2001. We saw it again when the Devolution Framework Agreement was signed in 2004. These earlier agreements confirmed the intentions of the parties to work towards a final devolution agreement, set out a process and timeline for negotiations and identified the subjects to be negotiated. Entering into these agreements helped keep negotiations moving forward.

Like earlier agreements, the proposed AIP confirms the intentions of the parties to negotiate a final agreement, sets out the subjects for negotiations and describes the process. It does not answer all the questions or settle all the outstanding issues, but it isn’t supposed to. We are in the process of negotiations and many of the issues that have yet to be decided are precisely the things we will negotiate before reaching a final agreement. The AIP is the roadmap for future negotiations. It was never meant to be the final deal. But we will not

even get to begin these future negotiations if we don’t agree to an AIP first.

Mr. Speaker, aboriginal governments are major land and resource owners in the Northwest Territories and have an important interest in devolution. The GNWT and Canada have funded their participation in negotiations and there has always been a seat for them at the table. We have heard the issues and concerns expressed by aboriginal governments at the negotiating table and we have made every effort to accommodate them.

I know that they still have concerns and I respect that. Some of those concerns can be solved through further devolution negotiations, but some of them are well beyond the scope of devolution. Devolution is about transferring the administration and control of public lands and resources to the GNWT. It is a program transfer between public governments like the ones we have seen before involving health, highways, airports and forestry management.

Mr. Speaker, several leaders have asked for a meeting before we make any decisions on the AIP. I would like to advise Members that tonight I will be meeting with leadership from all the regional aboriginal governments to discuss their issues and concerns with the proposed agreement. I don’t know that we will be able to resolve all those issues this evening, but I do hope that we are able to arrive at an understanding about a way forward that will allow us to keep talking and working together toward devolution.

Mr. Speaker, devolution and resource revenue sharing has been a goal for the NWT for nearly as long as I can remember and it is one of the priorities of this Assembly. For too long, decisions about our public lands and resources have been made in Ottawa. Over the past five years we have missed out an estimated $208 million in resource revenues and we will continue to miss out until we have devolution. It is time that we brought that decision-making power and those revenues home to the GNWT. Getting control over our lands and resources -- and the revenues associated with them -- will be a key to unlocking a prosperous new future for all NWT residents; a more prosperous future that should be shared by all NWT governments.

Northern leaders have an historic decision to make over the coming weeks. A final devolution agreement will put the people of the Northwest Territories in charge of their land and resources and will create real economic and political benefits for us all. But it starts with this AIP. Without it, we cannot move forward.

Northerners know that we are stronger when we work together. As we consider the AIP that is before us, I call on all Northerners to find the common ground we need to carry on with this process. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister’s Statement 86-16(5): Next Steps Towards Devolution
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The honourable Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Mr. Miltenberger.

Minister’s Statement 87-16(5): Greenhouse Gas Strategy Renewal
Ministers’ Statements

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Mr. Speaker, a significant priority of the 16th Assembly is an

environment that will sustain present and future generations. Climate change remains a serious issue for the people of the Northwest Territories.

The warming of our climate as a result of the release of greenhouse gases has broad implications to our environment and the potential to impact the social, cultural and economic well-being of NWT residents. Our government has taken broad action to support, investigate and implement initiatives to help residents, communities, industry and government departments reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and their reliance on imported fossil fuels.

These actions were laid out in the NWT Greenhouse Gas Strategy released in 2007. The 2007 strategy outlines 39 actions aimed at controlling greenhouse gas emissions and included the goal of reducing emissions from GNWT operations by 10 percent below 2001 levels, by 2011. Actions were shared between Environment and Natural Resources, the Arctic Energy Alliance and other government departments and agencies. Working with our partners, progress has been made on all 39 actions and we are on track to meet, or better, the GNWT emissions reduction target.

Mr. Speaker, it is now time to build upon this success. We must maintain the long-term commitment to reduce our carbon footprint, to reduce our reliance on imported fossil fuels and to expand the use of alternative energy sources. To map the route forward to a low-carbon future, Environment and Natural Resources is leading an initiative to prepare a revised Greenhouse Gas Strategy for 2011 to 2015.

This government is committed to broadening the application of greenhouse gas reduction measures on a territory-wide basis which includes government, business, industry and communities.

The strategy will include a complete assessment of current activities and identify new actions we need to take to move forward in our efforts towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Based on this assessment, the strategy will set targets for greenhouse gas emissions reductions across the NWT.

The preparation of a broad strategy requires discussion and input from a range of stakeholders including other departments, communities, residents, businesses, industry and aboriginal governments.

We will be seeking input on the goals, objectives and principles that drive the strategy, on how to improve existing actions so they work better for residents, communities, businesses and industry and on new actions we should be taking.

Initial input has already been obtained from the Joint Climate Change Committee, GNWT departments and the Finance roundtable.

Between now and February, meetings will be arranged across the NWT to coincide with meetings of regional and community boards and councils and business and industry associations. I will provide standing committee with an update on progress on these consultations in February. Once stakeholder input has been received, a draft strategy will be developed and circulated for broad stakeholder and public review. It is our intention to have a revised Greenhouse Gas Strategy available for Executive Council and standing committee review in May 2011 and to release the revised strategy by next summer.

Mr. Speaker, the issue of climate change and greenhouse gases is a complex issue requiring smart, efficient and affordable solutions to help protect our environment for future generations. It is important we continue to demonstrate to our residents and all Canadians that we are taking this threat seriously. Mahsi.

Minister’s Statement 87-16(5): Greenhouse Gas Strategy Renewal
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. Item 3, Members’ statements. The honourable Member for Weledeh, Mr. Bromley.

Draft Devolution Agreement-In-Principle
Members’ Statements

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The possibility of this government signing an agreement-in-principle on land and resource devolution with the federal government is indeed exciting, but for the Premier to sign without the support of our aboriginal government partners would not bode well. Surely he realizes we will require willing and collaborative partners for our

future success and that to proceed without them risks starting a long and contentious road indeed.

The Premier has assured us that this agreement completely addresses aboriginal concerns, that it will not affect existing or future arrangements, negotiations and agreements. If true, the Premier should be able to demonstrate the support of a majority of our aboriginal partners. I await that confirmation and so should he. Time apparently permits good discussion towards this end.

The Premier complains about having talked about devolution for his whole political career. Northerners have high standards, including cooperation and collaboration and a commitment to truly sustainable development. It would serve this government well to adhere to these principles in this process.

Northerners are also patient, but they don’t stand around in the meantime. We have waited for the Mackenzie Gas Project for 35 years, with another decade to go. Let’s look at what has happened in the intervening 35 years: Inuvialuit, Gwich’in, Sahtu and Tlicho land claims have been settled, with significant progress on others. With those settlements have come co-management processes, legislation and environmental review processes that benefit all residents of the Northwest Territories. A new commitment to integrated resource management, although not yet perfect, has raised the bar considerably in how and when resources are developed and to what degree they benefit our residents. We have new economic engines that have developed resulting from these settlements, including aboriginal corporations that are significant on a national scale. And today we enjoy a territorial GNWT budget of more than $1.3 billion for 41,000 people. The cost of waiting may be portrayed as huge by the Premier, but I suggest that cost has been small and perhaps even a net gain.

I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Draft Devolution Agreement-In-Principle
Members’ Statements

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Equally important is that we have not finished building our unique northern vision for a land and resource management regime that reflects our values, our aspirations and our potential. I’m excited about an AIP, yes, but only if it brings our aboriginal partners to the table and if it is accompanied by a serious, comprehensive, timely and inclusive public consultation on how we want to cooperatively manage our lands and resources in an economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable way.

Draft Devolution Agreement-In-Principle
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Bromley. The honourable Member for Great Slave, Mr. Abernethy.

White Ribbon Campaign To Oppose Violence Against Women
Members’ Statements

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today to give some public profile to a nationwide campaign recently re-established here in Yellowknife. Viewers and visitors in the gallery may have noticed that some of us today are wearing a white ribbon on our lapel. The White Ribbon Campaign began in Canada in 1991 when a handful of men decided that they have the responsibility to urge men to speak out about violence against women. They used a white ribbon to symbolize men’s opposition to violence against women.

In its first year, 100,000 men across Canada wore a white ribbon while countless others were drawn into discussions and debate. The White Ribbon Campaign now operates in over 50 countries across the globe.

We all know that our Territory struggles with a significant amount of family violence, one aspect of which is violence against women. It exists in every one of our communities. We hear far too many news stories about women who have been injured or killed due to violence. The NWT is lucky to have a number of shelters for women and families fleeing violence, but the preference would be that we don’t have to have any.

A promotional campaign such as the White Ribbon Campaign can only add to the public awareness and education that is so necessary to fight violence against women in the Northwest Territories. Recently a group of courageous men formed a White Ribbon Campaign here in Yellowknife, focusing on educating young men, raising awareness, opening discussion and attempting to redefine men’s values. The campaign is set to run between November 25th , which is the International

Day for the Eradication of Violence Against Women, and December 6th , Canada’s National Day

of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

I urge men everywhere to take the White Ribbon Pledge to never commit, condone, or remain silent about violence against women.

White Ribbon Campaign To Oppose Violence Against Women
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

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

Proposed Increase To Territorial Borrowing Limit
Members’ Statements

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’d like to address the Government of the Northwest Territories’ maturation process and its borrowing limit.

First, I must say that I’m surprised that our Member of Parliament for the Western Arctic is down in

Ottawa trumpeting Bill C-530, which would see our Territory’s debt limit raised to 70 percent of our expenditures, which last year, at just over $1.3 billion, would result in a corresponding debt limit of somewhere in the neighbourhood of $900 million.

The big question, Mr. Speaker, is does our Member of Parliament have the blessing of this Cabinet? How about the Finance Minister or the government? The residents of this Territory would like to know who gave him his marching orders or, Mr. Speaker, is he marching to the beat of his own drummer? Certainly meetings would have taken place where the proposed Bill C-530 would have to have been discussed with this government. To my knowledge, our government has never talked about a percentage of expenditures as a debt limit. Perhaps in Mr. Bevington’s and the NDP’s world, money really does grow on trees, Mr. Speaker.

Let’s be honest with ourselves. We have so much on our plate with the AIP on devolution and resource revenue sharing that we need to stay focused. I firmly believe that this Territory should continue to pursue the AIP with our partners, the aboriginal governments.

Mr. Speaker, the federal government is currently analyzing and reviewing the debt limits of all three northern territories. Please, let’s let them do that work. Mr. Speaker, should the AIP advance, we will still be two to three years away while we work out a final agreement. At this present juncture, it would seem to me to be premature and irresponsible to add to our debt limit.

Mr. Speaker, we still do not know what the Deh Cho Bridge will end up costing this government, but, Mr. Speaker, you can mark my words again today, it will be much more than $182 million. Why are we in such a rush to get more credit when reality would indicate this government only has 10 months left to go before residents elect another government? It would only stand to reason the larger the debt, the larger the debt servicing, which, Mr. Speaker, would drastically reduce our ability to fund programs and services for our residents.

Mr. Speaker, I will have questions for the Minister of Finance at the appropriate time.

Proposed Increase To Territorial Borrowing Limit
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

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

Tribute To The Late Colleen Sayine-Burke
Members’ Statements

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to the late Colleen Sayine-Burke of Fort Resolution. She was born on September 30, 1968, and passed away on October 25, 2010.

Colleen was a loving mother and daughter, who lived in Fort Resolution most of her life with the

exception of the last 10 years during which she lived in Alberta with her husband, Tom Burke.

Mr. Speaker, Colleen was the only daughter of Mae and Robert Sayine, a former MLA in this Legislative Assembly. She was the mother of three: Stephanie, Raymond and Cameron. She was a loving grandmother to her grandchildren: Dakota, Emerence and Sarah. Family always came first for Colleen. Her way was to put others before herself.

Mr. Speaker, Colleen was an active volunteer with many community events and she held many jobs in the community, even working in her father’s water truck service. It was there that she dreamt one day of becoming a truck driver. She worked in the kitchen at BHP and recently achieved her lifelong dream when she became a triple 7 rock truck driver at the diamond mine.

Mr. Speaker, Colleen was raised in a traditional manner. She was kind, honest and respectful, and had a strong work ethic. I was honoured to be asked to do the eulogy in Chipewyan in Fort Resolution at her funeral. People arrived to Fort Resolution from all over the NWT and Alberta to show their respect and love for her. Colleen was only 42 years old but will live on in the hearts of her husband, father, mother, brothers, children, grandchildren, many relatives and friends.

I’d like to thank the family for allowing me to do this. Colleen will be dearly missed but will never be forgotten. Her legacy lives on in the many lives that she’s touched. Thank you.