This is page numbers 1381 – 1410 of the Hansard for the 18th Assembly, 2nd 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 work.


Members Present

Hon. Glen Abernethy, Mr. Beaulieu, Mr. Blake, Hon. Caroline Cochrane, Ms. Green, Hon. Jackson Lafferty, Hon. Bob McLeod, Hon. Robert McLeod, Mr. McNeely, Hon. Alfred Moses, Mr. Nadli, Mr. O’Reilly, Mr. Testart, Hon. Wally Schumann, Hon. Louis Sebert, Mr. Simpson, Mr. Thompson, Mr. Vanthuyne

The House met at 1:32 p.m.

Elder Be’sha Blondin

I wanted to thank you for all being here and to all the Ministers. I would like to maybe say some few words before I do the opening prayer. I am really grateful that the young people are here because we are talking about their future and how we look at the future for the young people. It is very, very important. Everything we do from here on, we have to make sure that we work together, put our minds, our emotions, our spirits so that we can be able to have an understanding of each other and how we work for the future of our people.

I also would like you to also look at having a lot of respect for each other because the future depends on you. A lot of people are watching every single day of how you are looking after them. As we look in the communities, our people really need to look at more things for them so that they can be able to have a lot of healthiness in their life. We also look at how we look after each other with our decision-making.

When you meet them and talk about the things that you need to, everybody is listening and watching. Make sure that you work together in harmony so that we can be able to help the people even much more that way. Also, when the people come and talk with you from the community level and from the regional level and also as the government people, make sure that you put your voices out there in a right and respectful way.

That, for us, is really, really important because we want to make sure for our future, there is going to be something very unique that the rest of the world doesn't have. We can make a lot of good changes for the future, but we need to do it together so that we can be one people voicing all their concerns in the right way. Help each other and help the people that are watching today and the ones that are watching us. Help them.

I also want to make sure that the prayers go to all the people that are working for all of you here. For the interpreters, I ask you to have respect for them

and speak clearly so that they can understand what you say and not to talk too fast so that they can be able to interpret to the people the proper way.

So I want to say marci cho to the Chair and to everybody that's here working for you. Now marci cho, and I'm going to open up a prayer in my language. I also want to make sure that this whole House has been blessed and, everywhere you travel, that you be blessed on your journey and so that you can come home safely to your family, to your children, to your grandchildren. So I say marci cho to everybody that's here today.

---Drum Prayer

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Please be seated. Colleagues, on behalf of the Assembly I would like to thank Elder Be'sha Blondin for joining us today and leading us into prayer. Masi for that.

Before we begin today, I would like to take this opportunity to extend condolences to this House, our members and our staff, to all those affected by the recent tragedy in Quebec City. I was deeply saddened when I heard of this deplorable attack as I know we are all impacted. As a sign of our collective sorrow and loss, flags are being flown at half-mast at the Assembly, throughout the territory, and throughout the country.

Colleagues, our territory, like our country, draws strength from our people. Our diversity is our foundation. It is our identity as Canadians and Northerners. Our diversity is what unites us. It defines us. We will not let hatred divide us. In the face of hatred and division, we respond with solidarity and love for all the people who share our land. To our Muslim brothers and sisters across our great territory and country, we stand with you.

Colleagues, please stand and join me for a moment of silence and reflection.

---Moment of silence

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Colleagues, I'm pleased to welcome you back to the House to resume the second session of the 18th Legislative Assembly. I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and all the residents of the Northwest Territories a very happy new year. This is not only a time to reflect on all that has influenced our shared history but also a time to look forward to what may be.

Through our choices and our actions, we all have the ability to influence our futures. The decisions we make during the session and sitting will impact the future we share as the people of the Northwest Territories. We must choose wisely and work diligently to help create a meaningful and prosperous future for our people and our land.

Colleagues, it is with regret that I inform the House of the passing of a former Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, Mr. William "Binx" Remnant, who passed away January 5th. Mr. Remnant served as a clerk’s assistant from 1963 to 1966 and, from 1966 to 1982, served as the first clerk of our Legislative Assembly. Following his time here, Mr. Remnant went on to serve as the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly for Manitoba for 17 years. For nearly two decades, Mr. Remnant served this institution with professionalism, integrity, and unsurpassed knowledge. His dedication and expertise was foundational in the development of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories as we know it today. So, on behalf of this Assembly, I extend our sincere sympathy to his family and also his friends.

Colleagues, I would like to acknowledge all the pages we will have with us throughout this session, this sitting. We have students from:

● Inualthuyak School in Sachs Harbour;

● East Three Secondary School in Inuvik;

● Chief Julius School in Fort McPherson;

● Alexis Arrowmaker School in Wekweeti;

● Colville Lake School in Colville Lake;

● Deh Gah School in Fort Providence;

● Charles Yohin School in Nahanni Butte;

● P. W. Kaeser High School in Fort Smith;

● K'alemì Dene School in Ndilo;

● Diamond Jenness High School and Ecole Boreale School in Hay River; and

● Ecole Sir John Franklin High School and Ecole St. Patrick High School in Yellowknife.

Welcome and thank you to all the pages that will be with us during this sitting. It is always a pleasure to share this Chamber with the future leaders of our territory.

Colleagues, our calling is not an easy one. Each day we make difficult decisions that will not only impact ourselves but all the people throughout the North. We must work tirelessly to ensure that the decisions we make today build on the foundation for the territory we wish to see tomorrow.

As we turn our minds to the hard work ahead of us, I ask that you conduct yourselves with respect, respect for yourselves and for each other, respect for the House and our unique form of consensus style government, respect for your constituencies and all the people that we serve throughout the Northwest Territories.

Now I wish to advise the House that I have received the following message from the Deputy Commissioner of the Northwest Territories. It reads:

Mr. Speaker, I wish to advise that I recommend to the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories the passage of:

● Appropriation Act (Operations Expenditures), 2017-2018;

● Supplementary Appropriation Act (Operations Expenditures), No. 2, 2016-2017;

● Supplementary Appropriation Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), No. 3, 2016-2017;

● Supplementary Appropriation Act (Operations Expenditures), No. 1, 2017-2018; and

● Supplementary Appropriation Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), No. 1, 2017-2018

during the second session of the 18th Legislative Assembly. Yours truly, Gerald W. Kisoun Deputy Commissioner.

Masi, colleagues. Orders of the day, item 2, Ministers' statements. Honourable Premier.

Bob McLeod

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome my colleagues back to the Legislative Assembly.

As this sitting gets under way, I would like to update Members and the public on some recent activities that the government has undertaken to advance the mandate and priorities of the Legislative Assembly and service of the people of the Northwest Territories.

Shortly after the close of the last sitting of the Legislative Assembly, all Ministers went to Ottawa for a series of meetings with federal Ministers, parliamentary committees, and others. The purpose of this trip was to share the Federal Engagement Strategy and make a concerted push to build awareness of three infrastructure priorities related to climate change. Our priorities, selected on the basis of current federal priorities and infrastructure funding programs, included Taltson Hydro Expansion, Renewable Solutions for Off-Grid Diesel Communities, and All-Weather Road Infrastructure for Adapting to Climate Impacts. Our discussions with the Prime Minister and others emphasized opportunities for reducing the cost of living for Northwest Territories residents and contributing to national climate change objectives by increasing the use of renewable energy.

I am pleased to say, Mr. Speaker, that not long after this trip, we received positive news about two important infrastructure projects that Canada will be partnering with us on: The road to Canyon Creek and the Tlicho All-Season Road. Work on these two projects will provide jobs to Sahtu and Tlicho residents and work for local businesses. They will improve the quality of transportation infrastructure in these two regions and, in the case of Whatì, provide year-round road access that will help lower the cost of living for its residents.

These projects will also help the Government of the Northwest Territories deliver on its mandate commitments to advance the Mackenzie Valley Highway and make an all-weather road from Highway No. 3 to Whatì. The Tlicho All-Season Road also responds to the commitment in our mandate to support mineral exploration and the mining sector by capturing opportunities to build transportation infrastructure that enables resources to get to market.

Climate change is a reality that Northerners see and feel every day, Mr. Speaker, and we must do our part to contribute to national and international efforts to address it. In December, I was proud to attend the First Ministers’ Meeting in Ottawa and join with the Prime Minister and Canada’s Premiers in agreeing to the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.

The framework outlines critical actions that governments in Canada will take to grow the economy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The framework also includes a commitment to help remote and Northern communities reduce their reliance on diesel by connecting these communities to electricity grids and implementing renewable energy systems.

As part of implementing the Pan-Canadian Framework, the Northwest Territories and Canada have agreed to work together on studying the issue of putting a price on carbon. This will ensure the Northwest Territories is contributing towards national emission reduction targets, but which will not raise the cost of living for our residents or harm our economy. We expect that to be introduced and to be informed by the work the Government of the Northwest Territories is currently doing, including public engagement and consultations with standing committees, to develop a Climate Change Strategic Framework and an Energy Strategy for the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, the recent decision by the federal government to declare a moratorium on offshore oil and gas development in the Beaufort Sea underscores the need for a well-thought-out vision for ongoing growth and development in the three Northern territories.

While the Northwest Territories is prepared to do its part to combat climate change, we also need to make sure we take care of the people who live here. People in the Beaufort Delta have had the promise of prosperity through oil and gas development dangling in front of them for decades, and they are still waiting.

If we are going to ask them to pass up or delay one chance for significant economic growth, we need to offer something in return. The people who make the North their home need hope for the future, hope for good jobs and steady incomes.

Who speaks for the Arctic, Mr. Speaker? Many provinces and countries have an interest in the Arctic, but do they have our interests at heart? Increasingly, I believe that the North needs to speak up for itself. We cannot simply rely on the good intentions of others to look out for the needs of our people. If we want a future for our children and grandchildren, we need to be the ones who define it. Northern voices and northern governments have to be the leading voice in decisions about the North, and a pan-territorial sustainable development strategy will give us one.

I have spoken on this issue to the Prime Minister and have been talking to my colleagues from Nunavut and Yukon, most recently last week in Vancouver, about collaborating on the creation of a vision and strategy for sustainable growth and development in the North. I look forward to discussing the development of this strategy with Members and to getting your input into the vision, principles and plans to guide development in our territory.

As Members know, all Ministers and the Chair of the Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment travelled to the Mineral Exploration Roundup in Vancouver last week. Representatives from the Government of the Northwest Territories regularly attend this conference, and similar conferences like the NWT Geoscience Forum and the annual Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada convention, to promote mining and exploration in the Northwest Territories, meet with industry representatives and discuss how to support responsible development of our mineral resources.

Our government continues to make diversifying the economy a priority, particularly in high-potential areas like manufacturing, agriculture, fishing and tourism. At the same time, we need to recognize that mining is and will continue to be the engine of our economy for the immediate future. Mining currently contributes 20 per cent of our direct GDP and provides jobs to over one out of every 10 people working in our territory. Since 1996, the diamond mines have spent $19 billion on Northwest Territories businesses, including $5 billion on Aboriginal owned businesses.

The economic activity associated with mining is a tremendous source of income to Northwest Territories residents and revenue for government programs and services that we cannot take for granted. Other sectors of the economy have the potential for growth, but will not equal the contributions of mining in the near term. If we want good jobs for Northerners and strong, stable revenues to pay for government programs and services, we need to continue to find ways to support this important industry.

A critical requirement for supporting economic development, as well as conservation activities, is creating certainty around access to land and plans for how it will be used. Settling outstanding land claims in the Deh Cho and South Slave is one of the most important steps we will be able to take and we look forward to receiving reports from the two ministerial special representatives appointed by myself and the Federal government to look into claims in those regions.

We also continue to make good progress on self-government negotiations with the Gwich’in, Inuvialuit, Colville Lake, Fort Good Hope, Norman Wells and Tulita.

Creating land use plans for all regions of the Northwest Territories and improving our regulatory framework are two other important steps that will contribute to certainty for all users. To this end, the government continues to work towards a Deh Cho land use plan and is also preparing to bring forward several pieces of legislation related to land and natural resources management. This legislation is part of the “devolve and evolve” commitment that the last government made, and which this Assembly will continue to be responsible for.

Much of our first year in government, Mr. Speaker, was spent in establishing our mandate and our plans for fulfilling it. With that foundational work behind us, we will now be devoting substantial attention to preparing and bringing forward legislation that will help us implement our mandate.

Looking after our people is another area we continue to make progress on, Mr. Speaker. Transformation of the health system continues, and we continue to work with communities to reduce the burden of chronic disease, including through the government’s cancer strategy.

We also continue to take steps to ensure that our elders have the support they need, where they need it. That includes construction of a new 18-bed long-term care facility in Behchoko and a plan to put extended care beds into a purpose-designed unit in the redeveloped Stanton building. This plan will not only improve the service provided to people in extended care, but will allow us to reallocate significant capital dollars to immediately address the short-fall in long-term care beds.

Helping create a prosperous and sustainable future for the territory is a major responsibility for any government, Mr. Speaker. Tomorrow, the Minister of Finance will deliver the annual budget, which will outline the government’s plan for investing in the future of this territory and its people.

Budget making is always a balancing act, Mr. Speaker. There are always more needs than there is money to meet them, and then there are more wants on top of that. Finding a way to pay for the essentials and some of the nice-to-have wants without breaking the bank is a challenge, even at the best of times. It is even harder when times are tough and revenues are uncertain.

Over the past year, Mr. Speaker, Cabinet has been out talking to the people of the Northwest Territories in our open houses and other meetings and hearing about what matters to them. We have listened to what the people have said about important issues like education, employment in small communities, public safety, looking after our elders and combatting homelessness. Those conversations have been reflected in the budget that the government will be proposing tomorrow.

Our budget will fund essential programs and services for Northwest Territories' residents, making new investments in the priorities of this Assembly and is financially affordable and sustainable. It is a prudent and responsible budget that reflects the fiscal and economic reality of the Northwest Territories right now. It proposes further adjustments to our spending and revenues to ensure we do not run up government debt to unsustainable levels or jeopardize the good credit rating our government has enjoyed for more than a decade, Mr. Speaker.

At the same time, we have taken a hard look at our original business plans and eliminated several million dollars proposed in them. Our budget is the product of a consensus system, an ongoing formal dialogue between Cabinet and Legislative Assembly standing committees. We share committee's commitment to the priorities of this Assembly and have included many other recommendations in the budget that we are presenting. It may not be the exact budget to suit the individual views and preferences each of us have, but I hope the Legislative Assembly can collectively agree it is the right budget for all the people and communities of the Northwest Territories at this time.

Doing business differently by strengthening consensus was one of the priorities that we identified at the outset of this Legislative Assembly, Mr. Speaker. Strengthening consensus is ultimately something we all need to be responsible for. How we propose to do that may require some focused discussions amongst ourselves in Caucus. At the same time, Cabinet is certainly willing to look at ways that it can solicit more meaningful input from Members and involve them more actively in shaping government decisions.

The Joint Advisory Committee on Aboriginal Relations was one effort to encourage dialogue with Members on a topic that is important to all residents. I think there is room for similar committees on other matters of shared interest. In particular, I would like to propose that we establish a Joint Committee on Rural and Remote Communities where Members and Ministers could work together to ensure that the needs of those communities are not overlooked.

We may also want to consider the value of periodic joint meetings of Cabinet committees and standing committees that share interests, such as the Standing Committee on Social Development and the Community Wellness and Safety Committee of Cabinet. We could even hold these meetings in public, in keeping with our commitment to openness and transparency. If Members feel they need more meaningful input into budget development or a different kind of input, we could consider ways to accommodate that, including doing more of our shared budget work in public.

The consensus system and process has served this territory well for almost 50 years now. It is worth preserving and strengthening. It is a system that lets multiple voices and multiple interests come together to make decisions that are stronger because all sides are considered while the rigid decisions associated with party politics tend to be avoided. We have a diverse territory where one size does not fit all, Mr. Speaker. We need to make sure we support that diversity in our discussions here.

It is a system that saw Members from both sides of the House become a strong and united voice that argued for the recognition of Aboriginal treaty rights in the Canadian Constitution. In a way, the decision of all 22 Members of the Legislative Assembly to travel to Ottawa in 1981 to ensure these rights were not removed from the Constitution set the precedent for later missions like NWT Days.

It is the system that helped decide and plan the division of the Northwest Territories in 1999, leading to the first major redrawing of the Canadian map in almost 100 years. It is the system that has steadily allowed the people of the Northwest Territories, through their elected representatives, take on increasing responsibility for the decisions that affect them, including education, healthcare, transportation, and the devolution of lands and resources in the last government.

At the same time, Mr. Speaker, times are changing and people's expectations for their government are changing with them. Keeping up with those expectations is part of why we have made changing the way we do business a priority. Staying true to the spirit and intent of consensus is a challenge that all Members of the Legislative Assembly are responsible for, Mr. Speaker. Meeting that challenge does not always come easily, particularly when we are asked to give and take on issues that we care about personally. We will all face that challenge during the upcoming session, but I am convinced that if we all remain committed to doing what is best for the people of the Northwest Territories, we will find a path forward. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Minister of Finance.

Robert C. McLeod

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will deliver the budget address on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife North.

Quebec City Mosque Attack
Members’ Statements

Cory Vanthuyne

Cory Vanthuyne Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, along with some of my other colleagues, today I would like to address the tragedy that struck two nights ago at the mosque in Quebec City. I want to thank yourself and the Premier for putting out statements today. I want to say that my thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families of the Quebec tragedy.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to see that some members of the Yellowknife Muslim community have joined us in the Chamber today. I would like to extend them the warmest welcome to the Assembly. Even more, I would like to say to them, "we are your brothers and sisters. This is your community." I affirm that we will not stand by, we will not be silent when such crimes are committed against your families and your community. This is not only a crime against Muslims; this is a crime against all Canadians and the values that define us.

Clearly, these are troubling times. Sadly, violence, discrimination, and hatred, based on religion, race, and culture, are on the rise around the world.

The American election campaign included words, statements, and positions that many of us found unthinkable and inconceivable. Now, the new President's first days in office have followed suit with unimaginable actions. These words have now been turned into official policy. It seems likely they are unconstitutional. At minimum, they violate the American tradition of providing safe haven for people fleeing violence, persecution, and hardship.

Any doctrine infringing upon freedom is worrisome. One that focuses on a specific racial or religious group is more frightening and even less acceptable. In Canada, we would like to think it couldn't happen here. Regrettably we have our own sad history of suppressing nations. One only has to read the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to find numerous concrete examples.

Mr. Speaker, my grandpa on my mother's side and my father both immigrated to Canada. They came here in search of opportunity, prosperity, a chance to make a better life.

I am proud to say my riding is the home of Yellowknife's only mosque. The Muslim people I know are generous, compassionate, hard-working, and kind people. They are here in Canada, and in our capital city, seeking the same things my grandpa and father wanted, as do all Canadians. That is opportunity, safety, health, and a good place to raise our children. Mr. Speaker, I seek anonymous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Quebec City Mosque Attack
Members’ Statements

Cory Vanthuyne

Cory Vanthuyne Yellowknife North

Thank you, colleagues. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, in response to this executive order, other American leaders, mayors, governors, police chiefs, and now the newly fired acting Attorney General have rejected the direction of these policies. To quote the former acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, "I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution. I have a solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right. At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities, nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful."

Thankfully, our own Prime Minister has indicated that Canada's doors will always be open to people displaced by such policies. He said, "To those fleeing persecution, terror, and war, Canadians will welcome you regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength." These strong statements of unity from American and Canadian leaders are welcome, Mr. Speaker. The tragedy in Quebec City reminds us that we cannot rest. It's up to each and every person to stand up to bigotry and racism. Stand up to intolerance and hatred. I take these issues personally, Mr. Speaker, because of the obvious reasons, but also because we have all worked so hard toward making the world a better place for everyone to live in side by side. I don't want to see those efforts diminished because of fear and short-sightedness. Last night I joined many other Yellowknife residents along with our Muslim brothers and sisters at a vigil hosted at the mosque. Powerful words of compassion and love were spoken in support of the Muslim community and for those who are suffering from the recent attacks. I remain hopeful that love and compassion and all the good work many people are carrying out in support of our Muslim community will triumph and continue to make us strong. In fact, I know it will. Thank you Mr. Speaker.

Quebec City Mosque Attack
Members’ Statements

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Frame Lake.

Kevin O'Reilly

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, monsieur le President. We are now about a third of the way through our term. On December 15, when he became the Premier, he said ''This will be an Assembly of change and better government." This Member and the public are still waiting for the promised changes. To date, there have been a total of 14 bills, eight of which were appropriations. Yes, Mr. Speaker, this Cabinet has introduced an amazing total of six bills in one third of our term.

We may go down in history as the most legislatively lethargic Assembly in history. Those six bills, outside of appropriations, dealt with pithy matters including:

● A freeze on our salaries in the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act;

● changes to the Vital Statistics Act to allow birth certificates in Indigenous languages, a good thing;

● probably my favourite, the Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act;

● adding a Yellowknife Airport Revolving Fund to the Revolving Funds Act;

● changes to the Children's Law Act to improve parental support, another good thing;

● updating the Marriage Act to bring us into the 21st century.

Mr. Speaker, this ambitious legislative agenda has not put our committees to work or delivered on the promises of devolution. In the 17th Assembly, 26 mirror bills were passed to implement the devolution agreement. Most of those bills had no public discussion or debate. The Premier of the day promised we would "evolve" and design "made-in-the-North" solutions. Guess how many of those devolution bills have been changed in almost three years? If you guessed zero, you are right.

Mr. Speaker, what is going on with Cabinet? Why are there no bills coming forward? I believe it is because all of our capacity for change has been directed to the cost reduction exercise to meet Cabinet's fiscal strategy of reducing programs and services to the residents of the NWT. Potential departmental amalgamations, six departments into three, which is also primarily driven by cuts, is also eating up inordinate amounts of time and energy.

Mr. Speaker, this has to stop so we can actually get on with the business of government -- making legislative changes to improve the lives of NWT residents, now and for future generations, so we can better manage our resources, reduce the cost of living, and invest in our mandate now. I will have questions for the Premier on Cabinet's legislative inertia and lethargy later today. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife Centre.

Julie Green

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, our country is coping with a terrible tragedy, the death of six men who were gunned down while worshipping at a mosque in Quebec City. We are a society in which targeted gun violence has struck again, as it did in 1989 at the Ecole Polytechnique when 14 women were massacred because they were women. The six men in Quebec were gunned down for being Muslim. Today we are adjusting to the fact that we are not the tolerant society we thought we were.

Mr. Speaker, these men were sons and brothers, husbands, and fathers. They were raising children, some of them just toddlers. One man owned a food store, another was a university prof, others worked for government. These men could have been our neighbours. They are you and me. I keep thinking of those men kneeling, feeling safe in their mosque, feeling comforted by the language of prayer and losing all of that in an instant. I understand that many Muslims don't feel safe because of what happened in Quebec and, before that, because of the chaos that President Trump has unleashed by banning Muslims from entering the United States. This attack is an act of hatred, the product of a domestic sub-culture of hatred. Intolerance promotes intolerance.

Last night we reassured our Muslim neighbours that their pain is our pain. Many of us stood in the Islamic Cultural Centre of Yellowknife and heard the end of their evening prayers. We were invited to share words of comfort and support. That was an important thing to do last night, but it can't be a one-off. We have to continue voicing our support for our Muslim neighbours and for leaders like Rami Kassem and Naziz Awan.

Many of us have contributed to efforts to bring immigrants and refugees to Yellowknife from Syria and other countries with large Muslim populations. We believe that most Canadians welcome and respect immigrants; after all, that's what most of us are. If these are indeed our values, we need to promote and protect them. We need to support government efforts to continue bringing people to Canada, to encourage and support diversity, and to steadfastly oppose actions motivated by hate. We also need to take a stand on discrimination. We need to name it and say it's not acceptable. We stand in solidarity with the Muslim community, here in Yellowknife and across the country, to mourn with them and assure them that we will do our part to ensure they are safe. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Sahtu.

Sahtu Constituency Update
Members’ Statements

Daniel McNeely

Daniel McNeely Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Welcome back, colleagues, and I also would like to welcome our two pages, Tia Gully and Jordan Lafferty, from Colville Lake, and their chaperone, Barbara Blancho, also from Colville Lake. Welcome to the House, and as mentioned in the opening prayer, the youth of our community is fully supported by the Assembly with reference in the mandate. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Since our last adjournment in November of 2016, I have had the opportunity to visit each community in the Sahtu region. I spoke to a number of leaders and constituent individuals and listened to the challenges they are faced with, especially our youth. Our sincere condolences to all the families that lost their loved ones in the past year; our thoughts and prayers are with you.

I also would like to applaud Minister of Health and Social Services, Mr. Glen Abernethy, and Minister of Education, Culture and Employment, Alfred Moses, for taking the time to go to the community of Fort Good Hope on January 12th and present in person an inspirational presentation to the school, students, teachers, the leadership and the general public.

Mr. Speaker, knowing the fiscal challenges we are faced with, I look forward to working collaboratively with all departments and to the implementation of our diversified plan. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Sahtu Constituency Update
Members’ Statements

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Kam Lake.

Quebec City Mosque Attack
Members’ Statements

Kieron Testart

Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. On Sunday, January 29th, six people were brutally murdered at the Sainte-Foy Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City, gunned down in a cowardly attack motivated by fear and hatred. This attack has shaken our country and I join the voices of millions of Canadians who categorically condemn this act of terror. Canada must be a place that is safe for anyone to practice their own religion.

Mamadou Tanou Barry, Abdelkrim Hassane, Khalid Belkacemi, Aboubaker Thabti, Azzeddine Soufiane and lbrahima Barry. These are the names of those who tragically lost their lives. I state their names now, Mr. Speaker, so that they are forever documented in the history of this Chamber and so that they are never forgotten. I would like to thank, you, Mr. Speaker, and the other honourable Members who have spoken up in solidarity at the Muslim community both here in the Northwest Territories and across Canada.

Mr. Speaker, as I have said many times before, I am proud to be part of a multicultural society that is home to many peoples, faiths and traditions. The Northwest Territories is an extraordinary example of this diversity.

Yesterday, I was honoured to speak at Yellowknife's Islamic Cultural Centre, and join in a crowd of some 300 people who came out to support our Muslim friends and neighbours. This show of support from the community was repeated across the country. It's clear that this attack was not isolated to Muslims or a mosque in Quebec; rather, it was an attack on us all, and our core values as Canadians.

Mr. Speaker, there are those in Canada and beyond who would rather embrace ignorance and intolerance instead of love and compassion, and it is shocking despite how far we have come as an inclusive and tolerant society that, for some, these negative attitudes remain stubbornly entrenched.

Mr. Speaker, Northerners stand with the victims and their families and with all Canadians. As long as we stand together, those who attack our values as Canadians will never succeed. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Quebec City Mosque Attack
Members’ Statements

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Mackenzie Delta.

Housing Engagement Survey
Members’ Statements

Frederick Blake Jr.

Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, last week the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation would have concluded its housing survey of Northerners. Thankfully, it was extended by one month. This survey is meant to help the corporation gather information about what residents want and need in their public and market housing, as well as from government housing programs. In fact, we've heard a lot about this survey.

Back on October 19th, the Minister advised Members that the survey would be put out to every single user of housing services, followed by a cost-based analysis of what residents recommended. Then, on October 27th, we heard that the Housing Corporation would undertake a full review of all its policies starting this month in January once all survey responses had been collected.

Mr. Speaker, I'm concerned that this survey was not nearly as publicized or well-used as it should have been. We've heard that the results of this survey will set the course of the corporation's planning programs and spending for the rest of the 18th Assembly, but we haven't heard how the Corporation made sure to reach as many residents as possible, or of its policy foundation for planning.

Mr. Speaker, following the direction of a handful of survey respondents is not good planning. Not to mention, Mr. Speaker, that when I shared information from this survey, I found that many of my constituents had not seen it before, or didn't know where to find the hard copy. Also, the survey wasn't only meant for public housing tenants. It is also open to tenants of market rentals, and to homeowners, as well as those without stable housing, whether they are staying with friends, or relatives, or in the shelter.

Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude by statement. Thank you.

---Unanimous consent granted

Housing Engagement Survey
Members’ Statements

Frederick Blake Jr.

Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you, colleagues. It not clear to me just how the survey would capture the views of these different groups. Mr. Speaker, what about residents who don't have internet access, or who aren't tech savvy. A survey available online or at the LHO isn't accessible to many of our elders, Mr. Speaker. It makes sense to go door-to-door instead. Face-to-face contact is necessary to ensure strong turnout and valid representation. This might be pricey upfront, Mr. Speaker, but it is better than making big investments on weak data. Some of the survey questions also made me uncomfortable, Mr. Speaker. One asked, “What kind of training could help public housing tenants move toward living independently without government help?” I understand what the survey is getting at, but questions like that sound like "us versus them," not engaging tenants themselves.

Over the past several months, Members' questions about Housing Corporation' policies and projects have often been answered with talk of this survey, waiting on this survey, waiting for the results. Mr. Speaker, I am looking for strong and decisive leadership from the Minister to bring positive changes to the Housing Corporation for the years to come. I'll have questions for the Minister later today. Thank you.

Housing Engagement Survey
Members’ Statements

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Deh Cho.

Michael Nadli

Michael Nadli Deh Cho

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, since we last gathered here together in this house, residents of the Deh Cho have come to me with questions and concerns. They are worried about the quality of healthcare they can access in their home communities. Mr. Speaker, in particular, I'm aware of cases where a person after repeated visits to the health centre for a checkup on their health concerns was given Tylenol and told to go home.

In Yellowknife, Inuvik, or Hay River, you might be able to go to another doctor for a second opinion, or to the emerg at the hospital if you are frightened, and needed medical help, but options like that are not always available outside the regional centres.

On August 1st of last year, the Territories' eight regional health authorities were unified. We moved to the single NWT Health and Social Services Authority. Members of the public were told that these changes would help the Department of Health and Social Services break down systemic barriers. We also heard that moving to a single health authority would maximize use of human resources, make our healthcare system more responsive to patients' needs, and enhance the quality of healthcare in every region. Six months later, some might say, we are still in the early stages. Mr. Speaker, some healthcare needs can't wait for the bugs to work out. The people in my riding are looking for a reassurance from the Minister that system transformation will result in positive practical changes on the ground in our small communities. When a person goes to a see a doctor, they want to be understood. They want to be respected, and they want to be helped.

Later today, I will have questions for the Minister. I hope to work with him to help our residents better engage with the healthcare system. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Hay River North.

Commercial Fishing Industry
Members’ Statements

R.J. Simpson

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, there's a lot of issues at the forefront right now that I could talk about, but I'm going to start with an issue that I need to keep at the forefront, commercial fishing.

Since 2014, the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment has been talking about a strategy to revitalize the commercial fishing industry. This is exactly the type of work that ITI should be undertaking. They're not trying to create an industry from nothing. We have a resource. There are markets for that resource, and we have entrepreneurs to drive the industry.

There are many positive signs that the industry is, and will continue to grow. So far this season, commercial fishermen have brought in 1.2 million pounds, double the catch from only three years ago, and there's a course in the works to train the next generation of commercial fishermen.

While there are undoubtedly positives, there's still work to be done, especially when it comes to addressing our infrastructure deficit. We are no further ahead with either refurbishing the existing fish plant, or constructing a new processing plant. This is an essential element to the government's strategy. Decades ago, the territory entered into a deal with the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation which reports to the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, so that our fishermen would be guaranteed resources and a buyer for their fish. However, Freshwater has failed to live up to their end of the bargain, and that our certified fish processing plant falls below CFIA standards and turn into a receiving station, all for the sake of Freshwater's bottom line.

I mentioned that the fishermen have doubled their catch in the past three years, however, there's a limit to how much this number can grow unless we have more access points on the lake, and redraw the lines of existing quota zones. These are both the responsibility of DFO as well.

So, Mr. Speaker, what all this means is that we've gone from having four active packing plants, a modern processing facility, and five landing sites 25 years ago; to one receiving plant, one landing site, and an out-of-date zoning system. This government will be happy to know, I'm not looking for money to fix these issues other than the $1.4 million they've already committed. I'm looking for political support. The Fishermen's Federation engaged DFO on a consistent basis, but they've hit a wall. They're told by bureaucrats, in order to allocate the funds needed, and make the changes needed to grow our fishing industry, word must come down from the top.

I know that the Minister of ITI has discussed the fishery with the Minister of DFO, but whatever came from that meeting did not trickle down. We need continuous political pressure and follow-up so that we can support the fishermen who have been doing everything they can to rebuild an industry that was once the pride of Hay River, and I know can one day become the pride of the NWT. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.