This is page numbers 5827 - 5874 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 know.

Topics

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Deh Cho.

Ronald Bonnetrouge

Ronald Bonnetrouge Deh Cho

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, my questions are related to my Member's statement on the recent findings of a tailings pond breech at the Alberta tar sands projects. This may well be a common occurrence until there is no more freshwater to drink, no protection of our wildlife, and our precious marine ecological systems to survive.

Madam Premier, can you apprise this House as to what actions you will take to rectify this situation of nonconformity of the sharing of information by the Alberta government? Mahsi.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Deh Cho. Honourable Premier.

Caroline Cochrane

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I do agree with the Member. In fact, I think all of us probably agree with the Member on that. Water is life. It's important that we make sure that the water that comes into the Northwest Territories is clean. We have a transboundary agreement with the Government of Alberta that they are obligated to notify us. I know that the Minister is actively on this. He has stated earlier, in the questions that were just asked he is in the dispute -- meeting with the Minister in April. I believe he's already had phone calls, many phone calls. And I do know that they are beginning the dispute resolution process. If that does not go okay then I am prepared, as the Premier, to bring it to the -- directly to the Premier of Alberta. This is not okay, and this has to be addressed. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Ronald Bonnetrouge

Ronald Bonnetrouge Deh Cho

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. And mahsi to the Premier for that information. It has never been okay since the beginning of the tailing ponds. The issue has never been okay there, yet we've been sending a Minister to do the big leader's jobs, to address this issue and I kind of don't like that; she's downplaying it and passing it off to the Ministers.

Mr. Speaker, the position of Premier holds the highest power in this Legislative Assembly and to stand strong on behalf of the residents of the Northwest Territories, as this case may well be, can the Premier extend an invitation to the Alberta Premier to come and meet with the Indigenous leadership of the Northwest Territories to hear their concerns with the tailings ponds and the protection of our waters? Mahsi.

Caroline Cochrane

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'd like to clarify and state that no, I am not downplaying the issue and I am not passing it off to a Minister. Ministers have jobs. The relationship is direct Minister to Minister, Premier to Premier. And if the Minister does not get through within the next while, then I will be bringing this forward. I would like to give benefit of the doubt to the Alberta Premier. I know that she hasn't been elected for very long. I am hoping, although not foolishly, but I am hoping that she just didn't get the proper briefing, that there is no transboundary agreement with Imperial Oil; the transboundary agreements are between the Alberta government and the Government of the Northwest Territories. So as stated, I will bring this forward if the Minister does not get proper resolution and I'd be more than pleased to invite the Alberta Premier to come meet with the Council of Leaders, the Indigenous governments of the Northwest Territories. I can commit to doing that. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Ronald Bonnetrouge

Ronald Bonnetrouge Deh Cho

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. And mahsi to the Premier for that. It's very imperative that, you know, I want to reiterate that we need -- as you're the Premier of the Northwest Territories, you're our biggest leader in this government, you need to engage the Alberta Premier who's never met the Indigenous people of the Northwest Territories. And we need to extend that invitation. You can do it how well you want to do that but extend that invitation to meet all Indigenous leaders of the Northwest Territories, not just the Intergovernmental Council, not just the NWT Council of Leaders, but everyone because there's three claimant groups that are excluded from those tables.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier of Alberta mentions the 2015 agreement in which the Alberta government does not need to inform the Government of the Northwest Territories of any spills or leaks because the leaks from the tailing ponds do not reach tributaries nor our drinking water. Yeah well, tell that the residents of the Northwest Territories. Tell that to the people of Fort Chipewyan who have been fighting the Alberta government for decades with no success.

Mr. Speaker, will the Premier approach the Alberta Premier to have frank discussions in redrafting the agreement to honour the voices of our First Nations people in the ultimate protection of our waters? Mahsi.

Caroline Cochrane

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I stated before I have no problem, in fact I think it's a good idea, to invite the Alberta Premier to come to the Northwest Territories to meet with our Indigenous government leaders. Another clarification, Mr. Speaker, the Intergovernmental Council does have some Members that didn't sign on to devolution that are excluded. The Council of Leaders includes all Indigenous governments. Some don't attend but they're more than welcome. If there's any groups that are not part of that that the Member feels should be invited, then I'm more than willing to listen to the Member and invite those Members as well to that. So yes, Mr. Speaker, I do think it's important that these conversations happen. It's not only important, it's critical. And both the Minister is working diligently on this, and if there's no satisfaction then I will be addressing it further. This cannot be acceptable to any of us. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Madam Premier. Oral questions. Member for Great Slave.

Katrina Nokleby

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions are for the Minister of Infrastructure. It's my understanding that this week alone there have been two incidents on the exorbitantly overpriced Prohibition Creek Access Road, including the rollover of a tractor-trailer vehicle. This is also the same contractor who cut the fibre optic line in January. Can the Minister provide this House with information on what is happening on this project? Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Great Slave. Minister responsible for Infrastructure.

Diane Archie

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the Member is correct, there was an accident. We had -- we have Workers' Compensation looking into the matter. That's where we're at right now. Thank you.

Katrina Nokleby

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. That's great that WSCC is looking into it, however I'm wondering what the Minister and her department is doing. Does the department have an inspector out on this project regularly ensuring that safety protocols are being followed? Thank you.

Diane Archie

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, this is under investigation by the workers -- WSCC so it's really hard for me to comment at this time. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Katrina Nokleby

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I don't really understand why the Minister can't answer about whether or not there's an employee from the Department of Infrastructure that has been out inspecting and watching this project for the last two months, given especially the fact that they cut the fibre optic line, and I still have not seen the locator reports from that time that I asked for ages ago. Thank you.

Diane Archie

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. So I do want to first talk about the traffic accident that happened at the Prohibition Creek. So I do want to say that no one was seriously injured at either incident. And we take health and safety very seriously, Mr. Speaker. So the department is undertaking an investigation at the contractor's site, including review of the contractor's health and safety plan as well as the traffic control plan. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Final supplementary. Member for Great Slave.

Katrina Nokleby

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. So, Mr. Speaker, is it safe to say then that this project has been shut down, and if so, how much is this going to cost us, what penalties will be -- have been built into this contract to ensure that these costs are not borne by the people of the Northwest Territories? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Diane Archie

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the contractor will resume work at the PCAR location this afternoon. The WSCC has reviewed the incident and has cleared us to proceed. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes.

Question 1463-19(2): Rights-Based Cabins
Oral Questions

March 9th, 2023

Page 5834

Lesa Semmler

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, my questions are for the Minister of Lands. Can the Minister inform this House on what a rights-based cabin is as this term is something that his department has continued to use. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes. Minister responsible for Lands.

Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

First of all, I'd like to thank the Member for the question. We've had this conversation numerous times so I can tell the people of the Northwest Territories she's doing her due diligence in trying to get this information out there.

The department is working with the Indigenous governments and Indigenous organizations to distinguish potential rights-based cabins from unauthorized occupancy and to develop an approach to manage the rights-based cabins on public land. The department will continue the discussions with Indigenous governments and Indigenous organizations that want to engage with us on this work. Engagement started in February and will conclude in August of 2023. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Lesa Semmler

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Can the Minister tell why does the GNWT charge fees for leases to Indigenous people to exercise their right to establish camps on public lands as those camps are directly linked to harvesting? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the department regulates validation and pricing for all public lands. Leases are required where exclusive use of public land is required. Lease rents are charged to have exclusive usage. Indigenous people are encouraged to self-identify with the Department of Lands that they are rights-based land users and within their traditional area if they wish to maintain a camp or a cabin on public land without a tenure. Some Indigenous people prefer to maintain tenure for the benefit associated with such things as exclusive use, being able to sell the improvements and interests in the land or leave it to someone else in the estate. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.