This is page numbers 3107 – 3152 of the Hansard for the 17th Assembly, 4th 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.

Topics

The House met at 1:32 p.m.

---Prayer

Speaker’s Ruling
Prayer

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Good afternoon, colleagues. Colleagues, I will now provide my ruling on the point of privilege raised by Ms. Bisaro on October 21, 2013, with respect to comments made by Mr. Menicoche on Friday, October 18th on the capital plan. The Speaker’s role

when a point of privilege has been raised is to determine whether the matter was raised at the earliest opportunity and whether, on the face of it, a breach of privilege has occurred.

I do find that the point was raised at the earliest opportunity.

A breach of privilege occurs when individual Members are obstructed in the performance of their duties. It is a very serious matter. In this case, while Ms. Bisaro may have been offended by Mr. Menicoche’s comments, she was not obstructed in the performance of her duties. I, therefore, find that there has been no breach of privilege on the face of it.

The point of privilege is to address very serious matters like harassment and intimidation that could prevent a Member from doing his or her job. I would like to discourage Members from using a point of privilege to tell the House that they have been offended by others’ comments.

If this were to become a common practice, I suspect we could be dealing with points of privilege every day. There are other times to challenge each other's positions, like Members’ statements, Committee of the Whole, and replies to the opening address.

At the same time, I have heard some comments over the last few sitting days that could be taken as offensive. We work as a consensus system. You have some difficult issues before you, but I am sure you can find a way to make your point in a respectful way.

As I’ve said a couple of times already in this sitting, remember why we’re all here: to work for the

betterment of the people of the Northwest Territories. Let’s make the best use of our time here and get to work. I remind all Members why we are here. Mr. Miltenberger.

Point Of Order
Prayer

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to rise on a point of order under clause 23(k) with regard to the use of insulting and abusive language and (l) speaking disrespectfully of Her Majesty, any member of the Royal Family, his Excellency the Governor General, the Commissioner, the Assembly or any Member.

I rise on that point, Mr. Speaker, because I listened yesterday with great interest and intensity to the exchange between Mr. Hawkins and Minister Beaulieu. I listened carefully to the volume, tone and content of the exchange. I am of the opinion that when you look at those three items with the type of discourse and exchange that happened, the comments by Mr. Hawkins are contrary to our rules of order, hence my point.

I wanted to look at Hansard, which I did, and I’m rising on my first opportunity to speak. I want to refer to page 27 of unedited Hansard from yesterday during one of the exchanges in a question to Mr. Beaulieu. Keep in mind the volume, tone and content. Mr. Hawkins said, “Who is in charge of this department and if he isn’t, come on over here. We’ll welcome you back in great arms because we’ll put someone over there that can do the job because this Minister doesn’t.” Same page, second question: “Again, I ask the Minister of Health and Social Services, other than doing nothing, put something on the table that he’s truly done to improve the lives of Northerners, or get out of Cabinet because you don’t belong there.” It was clearly a very aggressive and insulting tone of voice, in my mind.

Then when you go to page 28, Mr. Speaker, the Minister, near the end of this last question, was attempting to respond and in Hansard it says “interjection.” That interjection was the Member for Yellowknife Centre interrupting the Member, Mr. Speaker. Immediately following that interjection, you, yourself, cautioned Mr. Hawkins, “Mr. Hawkins. Mr. Hawkins, Member for Yellowknife...” Right after that, there’s another interjection, which

was Mr. Hawkins once again speaking off mic but interrupting you, yourself, Mr. Speaker.

We appreciate frank and earnest debate, the give and take, the repartee and the parry and thrust of discourse, but there are limits in this Chamber. We pride ourselves on the decorum of this House, the propriety of the way we do business. We hold ourselves above the other Legislatures.

The point of order has been contravened; our rules have been contravened. I think this was beyond what is acceptable in this Legislature; hence, my point of order. Thank you.

Point Of Order
Prayer

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. I’m going to allow some debate on this point of order. Mr. Hawkins.

Point Of Order
Prayer

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate Minister Miltenberger bringing this forward for some type of public discussion and I certainly welcome it. At the same time, this would be the same Minister telling me in the back hallway right after that exchange that he was thinking about calling a point of order just to calm me down. Now that’s a conversation we had; hence, his point and, hence, his point of order here today.

Mr. Speaker, the issue of volume and tone, I think, is quite exaggerated. I think one is not identifying the passion and concerns about seeing issues ignored, repeatedly brought to the table and I think that’s confusing. It’s normal in any parliamentary process to have discourse amongst sides. The fact is if decorum is changed and elevated to an ever-so-slight level that is recognizable of whisper, whisper there, whisper back here, people think we aren’t doing our jobs and Cabinet, in my experience, thinks we’re picking on them.

I’m sorry, Mr. Speaker, I don’t disagree with the fact that… It’s almost saying you can’t raise your concerns, elevate your concerns with your passion. I’m here to do my job and demand results, Mr. Speaker, and sometimes that does cause one to raise the energy in the debate.

Quite frankly, I cannot sit here and ignore the lack of results and Cabinet sit over there and expect that we don’t call them out when they don’t do their job. They find that offensive and rude, and I certainly welcome another point of order if they want to keep calling it on those types of things. It’s very frustrating on this side of the House. I have every right to say to the Minister, in my view, that if he doesn’t do his job, and I look right at him again and say, if you don’t want to do your job, you can come over here. Thank you.

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate your guidance on that. What I’m trying to say is I have every right to call the Ministers out for not doing their job. The public demands it and I’m sorry if it hurts the feelings of Cabinet, but I stand by the fact that this passion must be brought to the job and sometimes it raises

the tone and elevates the volume of the job. If they all want to stand up in successive order and say they don’t like it, I’m sorry; they’re going to have to live with it in some capacity. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Point Of Order
Prayer

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Hawkins. To the point of order. Mrs. Groenewegen.

Point Of Order
Prayer

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will take the opportunity to stand up as somebody who has been in this House for a long time and have heard a lot of exchanges and have been known to spar and argue and fight with the best of them on the other side of the House, but, Mr. Speaker, I did find Mr. Hawkins’ comments, questions to Mr. Beaulieu yesterday to be offensive and it did, in my opinion, reduce the demeanor of our House.

Mr. Hawkins was asking Minister Beaulieu questions you really couldn’t answer, like, can you do your job. Some of it is even what I would put in the context of asking him for an opinion and the tone was disrespectful and it was demeaning. There was no answer that Mr. Beaulieu could have reasonably provided to those questions. I tried to project myself in that position and if I was being asked those questions, there is no reasonable response when you’re under that kind of attack.

Like I said, I’ve stood up and berated Ministers before. I’ve told them everything I think about them, but I don’t think that it was done in a way that… I like lively debates in this House too. Sometimes it does seem a little dull in here, a little dead, but I think that the tone, the words, the questions that were posed to Mr. Beaulieu yesterday, there was no reasonable response he could have possibly made. Whether Mr. Beaulieu is doing his job or not is entirely a subjective observation and I think there are ways of communicating it without degrading each other. That’s all I’ll say about it. Thank you.

Point Of Order
Prayer

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mrs. Groenewegen. To the point of order. I will take this under advisement and bring it back to the House sometime before the end of session. Thank you.

Item 2, Ministers’ statements. The honourable Minister of Justice, Mr. Abernethy.

Minister's Statement 85-17(4): Report On A Conversation On Community Safety
Ministers’ Statements

Great Slave

Glen Abernethy Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, community safety is a critical priority for the Government of the Northwest Territories. We need to look out for each other and make our neighbourhoods places with a strong sense of well-being. Everyone needs to feel safe and be safe.

Earlier this month Yellowknifers came together to hold a conversation on community safety. My thanks to Ms. Bisaro for the role she played as moderator for the evening. I was also pleased to welcome other MLAs and community leadership to the discussion. The meeting was well-attended by the public and included members from the Coalition Against Family Violence there, continuing their advocacy for victims and efforts to stop violence. Community safety has to be solved by the community and I was pleased to see so many people willing to take on that challenge.

We talked about things everyone can do to make this a safe community. Victims showed great courage; they told us what happened to them, and they encouraged everyone to keep using the trail and the parks, not abandoning our public spaces. We talked about the need to get offenders the help they need, not just arresting and releasing people. Over and over, residents stressed that sexual violence is a crime of power and control, not of chronic addiction or homelessness. We also talked about the crimes that are the biggest threat to women throughout our territory: family violence and other assaults within the home at the hands of intimate partners who are well-known to their victims.

We are already taking action on what we heard at that community meeting. I have directed the department to work with the City of Yellowknife and the RCMP to explore approaches to improve communications and coordination between the RCMP and the municipal enforcement division. We are also looking at options for supporting community-based actions, like the Citizens on Patrol program. Working groups from the organizations involved in the community meeting are being established to act on the issues and ideas we heard, and we have committed to holding another public meeting in the new year.

Over the past two years we have been holding other community safety meetings throughout the Northwest Territories. These meetings have brought together residents, elected municipal officials, Aboriginal government leaders, RCMP and GNWT officials to discuss community concerns and issues and how we can all work together to solve them.

Community participation in these meetings was also critical. We all need to find ways, as organizations and individuals, to work together to make our communities places where people feel safe, look out for each other, and know where to go for help when they need it. At the end of the day, it isn’t governments that make a community, it’s the people who live in it.

Our Community Safety Strategy is being piloted in Tulita, the Hay River Reserve and Inuvik. Through this strategy, we support communities as they

identify their priorities and the resources they have to tackle issues. We must take advantage of the wisdom of the communities if we’re going to successfully address community safety. The results of the pilot project will be of real benefit to Yellowknifers as we expand the program throughout our territory, addressing root causes of crime and drawing on the strengths of our own people.

Mr. Speaker, our communities are ready for this type of work to be done. There is a growing demand from our citizens that we address community safety. But it is a complex problem with many causes and we have to deal with them at the root. Dealing with the symptoms is not enough. That is why the GNWT has launched a number of strategies to deal with the social and economic challenges that often limit people’s potential.

These include initiatives such as the Early Childhood Development Strategy, to ensure our children start off on the right foot. We are addressing the critical piece of economic well-being and social health through the Anti-Poverty Strategy, Economic Opportunities Strategy and Mineral Development Strategy. The Mental Health and Wellness Strategy plays a key role in eliminating barriers. The work we are doing on educational reform will give everyone in our territory more opportunities for lifelong learning so they can take advantage of every second, third, or fourth chance.

We are taking a strategic and effective approach to supporting our people and working with partners and stakeholders just as we are asking communities to do. As Minister responsible for the Anti-Poverty Strategy, which several Members here participate in, I can say the concept is working. Through this multi-level approach, we will make a difference.

We are listening and we will work as a government providing support and playing our part. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 85-17(4): Report On A Conversation On Community Safety
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Abernethy. The honourable Minister of Transportation, Mr. Ramsay.

Minister's Statement 86-17(4): Transportation Strategy
Ministers’ Statements

Kam Lake

David Ramsay Minister of Transportation

Mr. Speaker, holding both the transportation and economic development portfolios, I very much appreciate the strong contribution that transportation makes to a strong and prosperous Northwest Territories. Transportation has always been at the forefront of enabling Northerners to grow and develop our economy. Never has the role that transportation plays been more important to guaranteeing our future growth and prosperity than it is today.

Transportation infrastructure is a fundamental requirement and an enabler of economic

development in the Northwest Territories. It allows an economy to begin, grow and prosper through increased access to essential goods and services and to natural resources. Linking communities within a region provides jobs, fosters social development and trade, and allows for social interaction. Infrastructure improvements such as the construction of new roads and rehabilitation efforts across the system stimulate job creation and make our economy more competitive in the long term. It also reduces the costs of freight and the cost of living in our communities. Available and reliable modes of transportation attract private investment within an economy, and create the potential for value-added growth. These sentiments were echoed throughout the consultation processes undertaken toward the development of the Economic Opportunities Strategy and Mineral Development Strategy being led by the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to announce that the Department of Transportation is building upon this strategy work and embarking on a process to develop a multi-modal Transportation Strategy for the territory. This strategy, which was included in our 2013-14 Business Plan to be completed in 2014, will guide our path forward toward a transportation system that will enable the Northwest Territories to realize its full potential. Achieving our government’s vision of a strong and prosperous territory requires that adequate supporting infrastructure, such as the transportation system, is in place to effectively link communities to opportunities for social growth and economic prosperity.

The process to develop this strategy will be officially kicked off at the Northern Transportation Conference, being organized by the Van Horne Institute, which will occur here in Yellowknife, October 29th and 30th . The conference theme,

Developing a Northern Transportation Strategy, sets the tone for discussions and engagement with stakeholders, industry, transportation partners and other levels of government on the development of the Transportation Strategy.

As we move forward to further development of our transportation system, continued partnerships will be critical, partnerships with the federal government such as the anticipated new Building Canada Plan funding agreement, as well as partnerships with industry.

Mr. Speaker, much background work has been underway. In June, Corridors for Canada III – Building for Prosperity, the Department of Transportation’s strategic infrastructure funding proposal was tabled and submitted for the federal government’s consideration under the new Building Canada Plan. The proposal includes a $600 million investment over 10 years to improve our winter

roads, highways, bridges, marine and airport infrastructure. Corridors for Canada III is an action plan that addresses transportation infrastructure needs across all regions of the Northwest Territories. These investment priorities will be incorporated into the strategy.

The department is also working to finalize a Climate Change Adaptation Plan, Road Safety Plan, as well as studies assessing options for improved road access into the Tlicho region. A financing study for improved access into the Slave Geologic Province, a marine system review and an Environmental Strategy, titled Green Light, have also been completed. Airport development plans as well as a runway issues and lengths study are currently being updated. The Transportation Strategy will build upon and incorporate the results of this research work that has been underway. It will also be developed with input and engagement, including all MLAs, Aboriginal and community governments, transportation and industry stakeholders.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Transportation’s multi-modal Transportation Strategy will guide the development of our transportation system and help shape our plans, priorities and policies for the coming years. I encourage Members, other levels of government, industry stakeholders and the public to get engaged and support the development of this important strategy as we move forward. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 86-17(4): Transportation Strategy
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Ramsay. Before we head into Members’ statements, I’d like to welcome again back in the House today a man who has held every position in this government, almost, Mr. Anthony W. J. Whitford.

---Applause

It’s always good to see you, Tony. Item 3, Members’ statements. The honourable Member for Mackenzie Delta, Mr. Blake.

New Arena For Fort Mcpherson
Members’ Statements

Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I’d like to speak about the marina for Fort McPherson. The community has set their priority in their community and that is to build a new arena. The current arena they have now was built in 1987. The location was built on the grounds of the old Fleming Hall that’s affecting the foundation. That’s their plan over the next couple of years. They figure the rough estimate is roughly $5 million. That’s one thing that the community has said.

Community arenas are vital for small communities in the North. Our youth, elders and leaders make use of these buildings on a daily basis. A good example of that, I know it’s our neighbouring

territory, but NHL hockey player Mr. Jordin Tootoo is a growing success and I think that if we provide these facilities, we’d most likely see more NHL players in the future. Thank you.

New Arena For Fort Mcpherson
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Blake. The Member for Nahendeh, Mr. Menicoche.