This is page numbers 4777 - 4802 of the Hansard for 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 strike.

Topics

Members Present

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

The House met at 10:00 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

Page 4777

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Good morning, Members. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment.

Minister's Statement 135-18(3): Vision and Purpose of the Proposed Mineral Resources Act
Ministers' Statements

Page 4777

Wally Schumann Hay River South

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories recognizes the need to advance the territorial vision of land and resource management in accordance with the Land Use and Sustainability Framework, and we have made a mandate commitment to evolve our legislative, regulatory, and policy systems to develop and proposing a variety of acts, including the Mineral Resources Act.

The Northwest Territories has mineral potential that could position itself as a primary economic driver for our country. The Government of the Northwest Territories is committed to responsibly managing Northwest Territories' resources and passing made-in-the-North legislation.

Mr. Speaker, in the coming days we will introduce the Northwest Territories' first Mineral Resources Act. This proposed act is the culmination of years of research, public engagement, collaboration with Indigenous governments and organizations, and consistent engagement with industry and other interested stakeholders.

Mr. Speaker, first and foremost, this legislation is a foundation upon which our management of mineral industry can be built. Its defining goal is to give our government the ability to respond to the wants and needs of our people; bring clarity and certainty where it is lacking; and modernizing how we govern mineral resources. These authorities will give us the ability to set regulations to match those ambitions and remove existing legislation barriers.

The proposed act would allow the Northwest Territories to regulate minerals effectively, efficiently, and transparently. It could provide benefits for people and communities of the Northwest Territories and Indigenous governments and support our economic interests by ensuring wealth generation by mineral resources is used to benefit our territory for generations to come. It will also encourage positive relationships between all parties; improve geological knowledge of our territory; complete our existing system of land and natural resource management; recognize sustainable land use. It is designed to achieve these ends while ensuring respect for Aboriginal and Treaty Rights.

Mr. Speaker, it will define a vision for managing exploration and mining in a way that makes sure NWT residents benefit; fosters positive relationships; and advances the public interest while maintaining a balanced approach for all. I would like to share some brief examples of why it is this way.

Contained in the proposed act, for the first time in Canada, provisions that will ensure benefits for Indigenous governments and organizations for major mining projects. This proposed act also addresses the benefits-generating tools for NWT residents. It will clarify an approach that has existed in practice through our socio-economic agreements and provide the flexibility to use other tools we see appropriate to generate benefits for the territory.

Mr. Speaker, Indigenous governments, communities, public government, and those looking to do business here will all find measures in this proposed act that will benefit them as they work to build a mutually beneficial relationship with the mining industry.

Through the proposed act, we hope to encourage early engagement, better communication, predictable dispute resolutions. We are also proposing a processes to reduce conflict by addressing gaps around sensitive lands and local awareness amongst those exploring for minerals.

The proposed act will enable our exploration regime to move into the 21st century with online map staking. This will actually help facilitate improved communication and transparency once implemented.

Finally, we recognize that geological information is key to much of it collected through mineral exploration to mining activities. We will be proposing the ability to collect more geological information through all stages of the mineral-development cycle. Such measures would add to our understanding of the territory's complex geology and could encourage economic development in the future while also respecting the need for reasonable confidentiality to protect commercial interests.

Mr. Speaker, I can assure you the Government of the Northwest Territories recognizes how important it is for NWT residents to have accessible information about our legislation. That is why the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment plans to release public awareness materials, and I hope to work with Regular Members to support a full understanding that we hope and the intent of this proposed act to achieve.

We are encouraging Northwest Territories residents to visit our website; get acquainted with the details of our proposals; and take part as this proposed act moves through the legislative process.

Mr. Speaker, I'm proud of how far we've come, but understand there is more work to come. The proposed Mineral Resources Act addresses the need for modern, clear, and competitive legislation and a regulatory framework that responds to the needs of the Northwest Territories and its investment partners. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 135-18(3): Vision and Purpose of the Proposed Mineral Resources Act
Ministers' Statements

Page 4777

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Minister for Environment and Natural Resources.

Minister's Statement 136-18(3): Thaidene Nene
Ministers' Statements

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Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories has a mandate commitment to use the Land Use and Sustainability Framework to establish the Thaidene Nene protected areas in partnership with Indigenous governments and the Government of Canada.

I can inform Members of the Legislative Assembly that we have made significant progress towards the establishment of the protected area with the negotiation of a draft establishment agreement between the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Lutselk'e Dene First Nation.

The chief and council for Lutselk'e have authorized a ratification vote for the general membership to take place on February 18, 2019. We are hopeful for a positive outcome of this vote, which will continue to move us towards our goal of having a signed establishment agreement.

A completed establishment agreement between the Lutselk'e Dene First Nation and the Government of the Northwest Territories is one of a number of agreements required to establish Thaidene Nene. That includes a Land Transfer Agreement with Parks Canada for the transfer of the approximately 14,000 square kilometres of land required to establish the National Park Reserve.

This session, our government intends to introduce a Protected Areas Act, which will be used to establish Thaidene Nene. This legislation will allow us to develop regulations for this protected area, based on the final Establishment Agreement.

Mr. Speaker, I can also advise the Legislative Assembly that we have taken significant strides toward establishing a Regional Management Body for Thaidene Nene that will include all Akaitcho communities, the Northwest Territory Metis Nation, Parks Canada, and the Government of the Northwest Territories.

More work still needs to be done to formalize this arrangement and conclude agreements with other Indigenous governments and organizations, but the negotiation of a draft Establishment Agreement with the Lutselk'e Dene First Nation is a significant milestone in the long journey toward establishing Thaidene Nene.

I would like to recognize the efforts of everyone involved in helping to advance the finalization of this important initiative, and I look forward to keeping Members apprised of the progress. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 136-18(3): Thaidene Nene
Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. Member for Mackenzie Delta.

Member's statement on Gwich'in Cup and First Annual Trapper Blake Memorial Hockey Tournaments
Members' Statements

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Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

Good morning, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out two significant events happening this weekend in the Mackenzie Delta and lnuvik Region.

First, let me mention hockey players. As many as 300 youth ages 4 to 17 will flock to Inuvik both yesterday and today to participate in the Annual Gwich'in Cup. This event is held each March and has six divisions and welcomes all youth. Teams are made up on registration numbers; players are put on teams not by community, but by age. The weekend hockey competition and skills takes place today, Friday, right through to Sunday.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Inuvik Minor Hockey Association for organizing the event, and also the Gwich'in Tribal Council for generously supporting financially.

Young hockey players from the entire region look forward to this weekend. Good luck to each of the players participating this weekend in the Gwich'in Cup.

Mr. Speaker, the other event happening in Fort McPherson is the 1st Annual Trapper Blake Memorial Hockey Tournament. This event is honouring the late Alan Blake Jr., also known as "Trapper," who lost his life tragically last February. He was the captain of his hockey team, the LJ Sabres. He took pride in playing competitive hockey and was always encouraging others to get out and play.

Teams will gather in Fort McPherson to pay tribute to Trapper, someone who lost his life at such a young age, 22 years young, lived a healthy lifestyle, and friends with everyone who crossed his path.

Four hockey teams from the Region will compete in the 1st Trapper Blake Memorial Hockey Tournament.

Mr. Speaker, congratulations to all the hockey players this weekend. Good luck and have fun. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Member's statement on Gwich'in Cup and First Annual Trapper Blake Memorial Hockey Tournaments
Members' Statements

Page 4778

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife North.

Land Rights Agreements
Members' Statements

Page 4778

Cory Vanthuyne Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, one of the most important and far-reaching mandate commitments the 18th Assembly agreed on when we started out was the commitment to resolve land rights agreements. When Members on this side have raised this commitment with the Premier, we have been told that progress is being made, that he remains confident that these discussions can be resolved in the life of the 18th Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, the clock is ticking. The 18th Assembly is in its final months, and to date, we have the Premier's confidence, but not much else.

Mr. Speaker, the fair resolution of land rights discussions may be the most pressing thing on our list. Our other priorities cannot be advanced until land rights are resolved. Certainty is essential in order to achieve our mandate of economic growth. It is necessary to achieve our goals in health, social justice, and education. It is necessary to support small business, develop renewable energy, and minimize our carbon footprint. All of these crucial priorities depend on the successful and fair resolution of land rights.

These questions have a direct impact in my riding of Yellowknife North. How do we determine the distinction between traditional indigenous land use and unauthorized squatting? How do we reassure born-and-raised Northerners we are seeking fee simple ownership of their homes? How do we respond to the interests of the burgeoning tourism industry when lands are frozen? How do we move forward with the Yellowknife Periphery Recreational Land Use plan?

As of today, with just months left in the 18th Assembly, the answer is: we don't know.

With certainty on land and rights and self-government in place, communities and regions will be able to establish their own priorities, develop their own economies, and employ their own people. Our system of governance must support and empower Indigenous governments with responsibility and authority for self-determination. This will allow communities to flourish and grow on their own terms.

Mr. Speaker, it remains my sincere hope that, in this Assembly, we can take this important step forward and create a lasting legacy of fairness and certainty. Only with that certainty can we move ahead as Northerners together. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Land Rights Agreements
Members' Statements

Page 4778

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife Centre.

Tribute to Search and Rescue Technicians
Members' Statements

February 8th, 2019

Page 4778

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to applaud the outstanding efforts of the search and rescue technicians of the 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron based in Winnipeg. The efforts these search and rescue technicians, often called SAR techs, made to reach the site of the downed Air Tindi plane last week was heroic. This is what I have pieced together about their actions from news reports.

Air Tindi dispatched a charter flight to Whati in the morning of January 30 and lost contact with the two pilots just as the sun rose. Soon afterwards, the company called the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Trenton, Ontario, for help. Staff there dispatched 435 Squadron from Winnipeg and they arrived in the late afternoon.

Mr. Speaker, last Wednesday, as you may recall, was a cold day in Yellowknife, with poor visibility and blowing snow, but searchers in the air were able to find what they thought was the crash site just west of Marion Lake. Search and rescue technicians parachuted out of the Hercules aircraft carrying overnight survival kits and medical supplies.

It took six to eight hours for the SAR techs to make their way from their landing to the crash site, wading through chest-deep snow. The Hercules provided light so they could see what they were doing. The overnight low in the area was minus 24, with a wind chill that made it feel like minus 33. The techs arrived at the site during the night and were able to confirm the downed plane belonged to Air Tindi and that the pilots had died. By midday, with their work done, the SAR techs were picked up and brought back into Yellowknife. It's important to note that the SAR techs worked with support from the crew in the Hercules, the Canadian Rangers from Behchoko, and Air Tindi.

Mr. Speaker, most of us have experienced flying in small planes to reach distant and remote communities. We depend on companies like Air Tindi to get us there safely, and 99.9 percent of the time, that's what happens, but as Northerners, we know that accidents are a reality. When they happen, we depend on search and rescue technicians, the people who are willing to jump out of a plane on a dark and stormy night to see if they can help. I am grateful to 435 Squadron and our own 440 Squadron for their efforts last week and every time they are called on. Mahsi.

Tribute to Search and Rescue Technicians
Members' Statements

Page 4778

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Frame Lake.

Taltson Project Expansion
Members' Statements

Page 4778

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. On January 23rd, federal and territorial governments announced funding for the Taltson Hydro Expansion projects. There is $480,000 from Canada to support feasibility and engineering work for the expansion and $620,000 to support Indigenous engagement. Our government will have to come up with $120,000 for the feasibility and engineering work. It's not clear who will actually receive the money, when, and whether this is old money or new.

Hydro-electricity is not necessarily green energy. There are impacts on water quality, aquatic life, release of greenhouse gases, mercury, and to people, as well. After 30 years of operation, there is still a public health advisory in place due to mercury contamination of lake trout in Nonacho Lake, the headwaters of the Taltson system. The honourable Member from Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh has described the adverse impacts from the construction and operation of the Taltson system.

Cabinet's current plans for Taltson expansion will concentrate most of our energy efforts into one mega-project. This will take away money from small community energy projects where the cost of living is very high already. Getting those communities on renewables would reduce energy costs for everyone in the Northwest Territories. Large hydro projects have a very poor track record of delivering power on time and at predicted costs. Consider the current Commission of Inquiry respecting the Muskrat Falls Project and the huge cost overruns for Site C on the Peace River.

Why has there been no serious evaluation of other energy options outside the Taltson expansion? With no buyers, no funding, and no business plan, Taltson hydro is not the answer to our energy needs. Existing excess power at Taltson should be used to build the regional economy on the south side of the lake by powering electric vehicles and heating homes and businesses.

There are alternatives to Taltson. Building local and household energy self-sufficiency should be the direction we move in. Much better would be a comprehensive program for heating and transportation, as well as electricity production. Energy efficient retrofits and conversion of all homes and buildings to wood-pellet heating would cost less, reduce more greenhouse gas emissions, create more local employment, and actually reduce the cost of living and doing business and improving our housing situation. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Taltson Project Expansion
Members' Statements

Page 4778

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.