This is page numbers 2637 - 2658 of the Hansard for the 19th 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 community.

Topics

Return to Oral Question 638-19(2): Medevac Services
Returns To Oral Questions

Page 2640

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. I seek unanimous consent to go back to item 3 on the agenda, Members' statements, to allow our colleague from Kam Lake to make her statement. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

---Unanimous consent granted

Trans Canada Highway
Members' Statements(reversion)

Page 2640

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and thank you, colleagues. Today, American President Joe Biden announced a transportation-focused, long-term economy recovery plan. During the Great Depression here in Canada, the federal government funded highway construction to stimulate the economy. In anticipation of our federal government's plan to unveil its budget on April 19th, I would like to talk about roads, specifically the Mackenzie Valley Highway, or what I like to call "the forgotten leg of the Trans Canada Highway."

The Trans Canada Highway runs through all 10 Canadian provinces from Victoria to St. John's. At 7,821 kilometres, it is the fourth longest highway and the second longest national highway in the world. Construction began in 1949 under St. Laurent's Liberal government. According to history books, the Trans Canada Highway was complete in 1962 under Prime Minister Diefenbaker, but here in the NWT, I disagree. Like it or not, Canada's shores touch three oceans, not two, and the northern territories are, in fact, located in Canada.

In 1958, the federal government actually acknowledged this and committed to completing the Mackenzie Valley Highway as part of the Roads to Resources strategy. This construction began in 1972, but in 1977, was stopped, as the Berger Inquiry began a subsequent 10-year moratorium on oil and gas. Over the past 15 years, we have picked away at this highway through cost-sharing agreements with the federal government.

Completing the Mackenzie Valley Highway is an important economic and social development driver for the Northwest Territories. It stands to decrease cost of living, increase food security, increase housing opportunity, create safe passage for survivors of domestic violence, connect families, stimulate economic development, and connect southern Canada to the Arctic.

The federal government needs to understand that 25-cent dollars don't work in the NWT. Our infrastructure deficit and social needs are too far behind to compete against one another. Asking us to choose between economic stimulus and the social supports needed to heal our territory is a cruel continuation of a history already marked by tragedy.

While the Canadian government looks to revive the national economy, we in the North are asking, "Pass the AED and give us a chance to join the fight." Mr. Speaker, today, I challenge Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to finish what past Liberal governments did not, which is a true Trans Canada Highway. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Trans Canada Highway
Members' Statements(reversion)

Page 2640

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Kam Lake. Members' statements. Item 5, recognition of visitors in the gallery. Item 6, acknowledgements. Item 7, oral questions. Member for Hay River South.

Question 696-19(2): Illicit Drug Trade
Oral Questions

Page 2640

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The drug trade is real. Drug use is real. People are dying. Families are being torn apart. I would like to ask the Minister of Justice: what is the Department of Justice doing to respond to increased illicit drug and substance abuse in our communities? Thank you.

Question 696-19(2): Illicit Drug Trade
Oral Questions

Page 2640

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Hay River South. Minister of Justice.

Question 696-19(2): Illicit Drug Trade
Oral Questions

Page 2640

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have been asked about this a number of times in the House. Generally, I say that, when there is a demand, there is going to be a supply. The war on drugs has never been won. We have seen it played out across the world over the years. Obviously, what we need is we need people to be able to access help.

That being said, I can't just pass the buck. As the Minister of Justice, Justice does have a role in policing. One of the things that Justice does is work with communities. They create community action plans to identify priorities. However, I think there is more that we could be doing. I am from the same community as the Member. I get those calls from constituents who point out which houses have drug dealers, which ones just got new trucks and when they are going over to the border to grab drugs and bring them back. I am aware that there is an issue, and we need to do more to address it.

I am having those conversations with the department now. I don't run the RCMP; the RCMP are in control of enforcement. What can we do to work more closely with them, and what can we do to support them to help address those issues? I will leave it at that for now. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 696-19(2): Illicit Drug Trade
Oral Questions

Page 2640

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

It's time to stop discussing the issue. We need to see some action. I ask the Minister if he agrees that people need to speak up more in the communities. What are we doing to provide opportunities for people to report issues related to drugs?

Question 696-19(2): Illicit Drug Trade
Oral Questions

Page 2640

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

We have Crime Stoppers in the territory. It's a civilian non-profit organization that brings together police services, the media, and the community. It's a place where community members can report crimes that they see and provide this information to police. I know that, when I drive in Hay River, I see a little Crime Stoppers sign. However, I think, like I said, we could be doing more.

When the Health Department runs a new program, you see ads on every single social media platform. You see it everywhere you go. What are we doing to get the word out there that there is this avenue and that people need to participate in crime prevention and reporting crimes? We have lots of comments in here about drug dealers and bootleggers, but the police need evidence to make arrests and, ultimately, convictions. Those are just some of the things that we are doing. What we need to do is make the NWT a worse place to do business for drug dealers.

Question 696-19(2): Illicit Drug Trade
Oral Questions

Page 2641

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

If somebody reports suspected drug traffickers or drug dealers, one thing they do is they fear for their life, not only for their own life, but for the lives of their family members, as well. What supports are there for people who speak up and are worried for their safety?

Question 696-19(2): Illicit Drug Trade
Oral Questions

Page 2641

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

I don't have that particular information on hand, but I would be happy to get that back to the Member. It's an important point. If we are asking people to speak up, we want to make sure that they know that they are going to be supported.

Question 696-19(2): Illicit Drug Trade
Oral Questions

Page 2641

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Final supplementary. Member for Hay River South.

Question 696-19(2): Illicit Drug Trade
Oral Questions

Page 2641

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The reality is that the drug trade is organized, so what is the department doing specifically in response to organized crime? What are we not doing that we need to do? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 696-19(2): Illicit Drug Trade
Oral Questions

Page 2641

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

In 2018, the NWT and the federal government signed an agreement, and that was to develop -- it was under the Public Safety, Canada's Guns and Gangs funding initiative. Since that time, money has been coming into the territory that has been funding research for one thing. There have been subject matter experts who have gone into the different communities in Fort Smith and Hay River. They're going to be going to Behchoko, Inuvik, and Yellowknife to examine the issues so that we can help come up with some of these solutions. There's also a budget for community-based crime prevention projects this year, in 2021-2022, and all the communities have been notified that they can submit proposals to create some of these projects. A lot of crime prevention is really community-driven, and we need that community support. We need things to be sustainable. Often, there's one or two people in the community who are really gung-ho, and if they leave or something happens, programs can fall apart. We really need full community support, and through this fund, we're hoping to provide that. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 696-19(2): Illicit Drug Trade
Oral Questions

Page 2641

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Frame Lake.

Question 697-19(2): Public Access to Petroleum Rights Information
Oral Questions

Page 2641

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. My question is for the Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment. I described in my statement the lack of a coherent public registry when it comes to our management of petroleum exploration and development rights. Seven years after devolution and 19 months after changes to the legislation passed, I think the public and operators deserve a lot better. Can the Minister tell us whether she agrees that we can and should be doing a lot better with regard to public access to petroleum rights information? Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.