This is page numbers 6827 – 6882 of the Hansard for the 17th 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 assembly.

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Question 953-17(5): NWT Tourism Marketing
Oral Questions

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Ramsay. Final, short supplementary, Mr. Dolynny.

Question 953-17(5): NWT Tourism Marketing
Oral Questions

October 8th, 2015

Daryl Dolynny Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As the Minister is aware, his department was provided additional funding for tourism programs under the Economic Opportunities Strategy.

Can the Minister tell the House what benefits were derived from this investment?

Question 953-17(5): NWT Tourism Marketing
Oral Questions

David Ramsay Kam Lake

One of the primary contributions through the EOS and the recommendation was for a convention bureau. We funded that at $100,000 a year. That’s had a direct impact. We’ve been able to attract conferences, hopefully, bringing well over a million dollars in economic impact here to the Northwest Territories. Looking at the regional marketing dollars, $50,000 goes into each region to allow the regions to market products specifically in their own region. We have resources for product development that have allowed investment in community tourism, leveraging over a million dollars in federal funding from CanNor. EOS funding for community tourism infrastructure was invested in projects and communities across the Northwest Territories including Tsiigehtchic, Inuvik, Jean Marie River, Kakisa, Hay River, Tulita and Yellowknife.

As I mentioned, we don’t have the biggest marketing budget, so wherever possible we need to take those dollars we have and leverage them to try to maximize the exposure that the Northwest Territories gets both on the national and international stage.

Question 953-17(5): NWT Tourism Marketing
Oral Questions

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Ramsay. Mr. Hawkins.

Question 954-17(5): Secondary Diamond Industry
Oral Questions

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have recently learned that the Bower Group is a trustee out of Vancouver and they’ve come to Yellowknife to take possession of the two diamond cutting plants owned by Deepak Kumar, and he’s also known as Deepak International. Now, the actual possession itself is not the concern of this Assembly, and certainly the people of the Northwest Territories, but it’s more about the message of what’s happening with our diamond cutting industry that is of great concern.

To set the questions up properly, some time ago the government agreed to give Mr. Deepak Kumar the ability to have the polar bear logo and to provide access for rough, and of course, they took almost three years to get through this process so he’d finally end up with the buildings, which is part of the issue. I’m going to start my first set of questions off to the Minister of ITI. Knowing that he’s in receivership and they’re now liquidating his assets, what happens to the polar bear logo and what type of messaging are we getting out there as a government to say which way our diamond industry is going? Because, frankly, it appears more that it’s a fledgling industry and we had someone who came in, we gave them whatever they wanted and they’ve been unable to succeed. I’m concerned, as well as many others are, where our diamond industry is going. Thank you.

Question 954-17(5): Secondary Diamond Industry
Oral Questions

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Hawkins. Mr. Ramsay.

Question 954-17(5): Secondary Diamond Industry
Oral Questions

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The secondary industry and the benefaction when it comes to diamonds around the world has been hit very hard. There have been factories closing in locations like Namibia, Vietnam and even in India, lower cost environments. So the economics right now aren’t, obviously, the best.

The issue the Member talks about is a private business matter and really we shouldn’t be discussing that on the floor of this House. Thank you.

Question 954-17(5): Secondary Diamond Industry
Oral Questions

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

I’m not getting into his private, personal matter, but it is a matter of public record out there. So it’s not a secret, but where it really matters to the people of the Northwest Territories is a particular issue of concern about where diamonds are going and that’s certainly it. You cannot have one without the other. So the Government of the Northwest Territories gave this person the ability to have sole, exclusive rights on the polar bear logo and I want to know what the next steps are.

Is the government going to retract that offer, suspend it? I don’t even know what they take back for goodness sakes.

So, is the government in a position to take back his sole, exclusive right to use the polar bear logo on diamonds? Thank you.

Question 954-17(5): Secondary Diamond Industry
Oral Questions

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Officials at the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment continue to work with the proponent on the factories, and again, it’s a private business matter and best not discussed on the floor of this House. Thank you.

Question 954-17(5): Secondary Diamond Industry
Oral Questions

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Three years ago this Minister talked about this being the rebirth of the industry and I even brought it up not that long ago about what’s happening, because clearly the gestation of this first cycle is a very long one. But the point, in a serious note, is if the department continues to work with them to cut diamonds and get our polar bear logo on diamonds, in three years how many diamonds have been cut using this cut and how many diamonds have the NWT polar bear logo on it that the government holds and certainly tried to market? A lot of dollars went into marketing diamonds, a lot of effort, we have a diamond division. I mean, a lot of focus from this government has been to promote diamonds, and if we have one that we’ve given all the rights to, frankly my concern is we don’t know where we’re going and the public won’t know either. So, will the Minister be willing to answer that? Thank you.

Question 954-17(5): Secondary Diamond Industry
Oral Questions

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Again, the secondary industry is in a bit of a downturn. The economics aren’t very good. Factories are closing around the world. We sold the two factory buildings on Archibald Street a year and a half ago and we continue to hope that at some point in time those factories do open, but right now we don’t have people banging our door down to get into this business. We’ve also got revenue from leases on those buildings.

Again, the purchase price of those buildings was somewhere near $2 million that the government was able to recoup.

Again, our hope is that at some point in time those buildings are producing diamonds. Thank you.

Question 954-17(5): Secondary Diamond Industry
Oral Questions

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Ramsay. Final, short supplementary, Mr. Hawkins.

Question 954-17(5): Secondary Diamond Industry
Oral Questions

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. While the Minister says we don’t have people banging our doors down, but the last three years when this deal had been made, nothing has been cut. He said maybe we’ll get lease money, but my understanding is the lease has been in arrears. Reading in the Yellowknifer a number of weeks ago, you could see they weren’t even paying property taxes. We weren’t the only ones fooled in this deal. Callidus is a lending agency and they were sold a bill of goods about how great things would be. So, what is the Minister willing to do to help revoke their authority of having the polar bear logo on diamonds, because I don’t know what they’re doing outside the Northwest Territories, and furthermore, is the Minister willing to step in and give the department direction so they can end any type of informal or formal agreement they may have with diamond companies where they are guaranteed a supply of rough? We don’t know what they’re getting and what they’re doing with it. This is very concerning. This has never emerged to result in anything positive. Thank you.

Question 954-17(5): Secondary Diamond Industry
Oral Questions

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Thank you. I guess I take a different view on this than the Member. We recouped close to $2 million. To my knowledge, lease payments are up to date; taxes are up to date on those two buildings. So, again, we will work through the process and this is a legal agreement that we have with the proponent. We will continue to work through the processes that are there and involve the right people in sorting this out. Thank you.

Question 954-17(5): Secondary Diamond Industry
Oral Questions

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Ramsay. The Member for Weledeh, Mr. Bromley.