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This is from the 18th Assembly, 3rd 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 business.

Topics

Liability Caps in Oil and Gas Regulations
Members' Statements

October 18th, 2018

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. Our government passed mirror legislation and regulations for resource management that came into effect as part of the devolution process. In the Oil and Gas Operations Act, section 52 allows for the making of regulations under this legislation. The Oil and Gas Spills and Debris Liability Regulations were made under this authority and set absolute liability limits of between $10 and $40 million, depending on the location of a spill or debris caused by oil and gas exploration and production. If damages exceed the absolute liability limits, then all parties may be responsible for the oil and gas spill, especially with onshore areas that we regulate now. This means that the GNWT and our taxpayers may be on the hook if damages exceed these caps. The same caps are in place in federal legislation for the offshore and have not been changed in 30 years. That means that, if we cannot prove fault or negligence, the public pays for whatever disasters may be created.

This is the offshore, but the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico cost British Petroleum more than $90 billion in fines and settlements. Lost tourism revenues totalled more than $23 billion alone. In October 2011, the US Department of the Interior's Minerals Management Services was dissolved after it was determined it had exercised poor oversight for the drilling industry. Three new agencies were placed at separating the regulation, leasing, and revenue collection responsibilities, respectively.

Countries such as Norway and Greenland have no liability caps, and the Auditor General of Canada recommended in 2012 that the caps on the Canadian offshore be reviewed and changed.

Clearly, the liability caps set in GNWT regulations for oil and gas operations are not consistent with the polluter pays principle. They are outdated compared to other jurisdictions and international experience. Why on earth would Cabinet cap liability on damages that could run into the hundreds of billions of dollars? Why has the Minister not changed to remove the liability caps in more than four years since devolution?

I will have questions for the Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment, who sets the regulations, manages leasing, and collects revenues from oil and gas development and is also the promoter of such development. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Liability Caps in Oil and Gas Regulations
Members' Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

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

Small Business Development
Members' Statements

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, it's Small Business Week. It's the time to celebrate small businesses and their contributions to our economy, and the perfect time to start discussing how to better utilize the untapped potential that this government has to help support our small businesses. We all know that we must diversify our economy, and small businesses are absolutely essential to doing so. However, Mr. Speaker, it seems like, when it comes to big mining companies, this government is willing to bend over backwards, but it often seems like they are barely willing to lift a finger to help small businesses. An advocacy group for small businesses, the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, agrees. The annual report card it produces has given the GNWT more failing grades than any other jurisdiction in Canada.

Now, don't get me wrong, Mr. Speaker. I don't want to diminish the good work that the staff of ITI do with what little they are given. My concern is that one of the smallest departments in the GNWT seems to be the only one working to help small businesses.

The GNWT's motto is "One Government. One Voice." Well, maybe I have been working too hard or not getting enough sleep, Mr. Speaker, because I have been hearing multiple voices. Instead of a cohesive, cross-departmental approach to small business development, we have departments operating in silos, with most of them claiming that business development isn't in their mandate. In other words, "It's not my job." Well, Mr. Speaker, the Department of Finance handles payments and policies. The Department of Infrastructure and the Housing Corporation handle procurement. ECE deals with labour development and training. ITI has business support and diversification units. It sounds to me like small business development is everyone's job.

We have been told that this government has just proposed its biggest-ever capital budget. What better way to support small businesses than by spending hundreds of millions of dollars? Unfortunately, other than putting the projects out there, the government has done nothing to capitalize on this opportunity to help develop small businesses.

Mr. Speaker, it's time that this government develops a comprehensive, cross-departmental approach to small business development. Entrepreneurs are out there every day busting their backs to keep people employed, and it's time that this government stops taking them for granted and gives them the support they deserve. They don't get the opportunity to say, "It's not my job," and we shouldn't, either. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Small Business Development
Members' Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Item 4, returns to oral questions. Item 5, recognition of visitors in the gallery.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Colleagues, I would like to draw your attention to the people in the gallery today with us; Mr. Ernie Bernhardt, former Member of the 12th Legislative Assembly for Kugluktuk region at that time. Welcome to our Assembly.

I would like to welcome some visitors here, as well. We have here with us Chief Electoral Officer for Yukon Territory, Mr. Max Harvey, who is accompanied by the Northwest Territories Chief Electoral Officer, Nicole Latour. Mr. Harvey is in Yellowknife to learn about the direction of best practices of our election management body. Please join me in welcoming Mr. Harvey and Ms. Latour to the House this afternoon. Masi. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Yellowknife Centre.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Masi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to introduce the mayor-elect of Yellowknife and my constituent, Rebecca Alty. I would also like to recognize Nicole Latour, who is also my constituent, and thank her for her ongoing work running elections in our territory. Mahsi.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Hay River North.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to take this opportunity to recognize and thank a couple of the Pages from Hay River North, Ms. Charlotte Buth and Ms. Josee Touesnard, who have been here with us all week. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Range Lake.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to start by recognizing a constituent, David Wasylciw. I would also like to recognize our new mayor, Rebecca Alty, who went through the Women's Campaign School. I would also like to recognize Nicole Latour, who actually helped facilitate one of our campaign schools. Campaign schools for women work. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would also like to recognize a couple of Pages in the Assembly from Inuvik. We have Amber Lennie-Ipana and we have Kyra Buckle, who are both from Inuvik. I would like to thank them for the work they do, plus all the Pages for the work they do, looking after the Members. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Nunakput.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

Herbert Nakimayak Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize Mr. Ernie Bernhardt. Mr. Bernhardt has been one of the founders of the Northern Games in Arctic Sports and he has been an avid coach during Arctic sports through all the Arctic Winter Games and the Northern Games and the Circumpolar Games around the Arctic. Ernie, thank you for your traditional knowledge and what you bring to the games year after year.

I would also like to recognize the mayor-elect, Ms. Rebecca Alty, and also everyone else in the gallery. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. If we are missing anyone in the gallery, welcome to our Chambers. It's always great to have an audience as part as our proceedings. Masi. Item 6, acknowledgments. Member for Yellowknife North.