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Last in the Legislative Assembly September 2007, as MLA for Great Slave

Won his last election, in 2003, with 65% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Question 164-15(6): Caribou Management Issues August 21st, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In Inuvik we participated in a number of workshops there over a couple of days. It was one of the more remarkable meetings that I've attended, Mr. Speaker, because of the unity and the consensus that was demonstrated there. Many, many different ideas and approaches were discussed about a very wide range of actions that could be undertaken by the GNWT, by aboriginal organizations, by hunters and trappers to help us do a better job of managing the resource. We talked about better education, better monitoring and reporting practices and, above all, collaborating. Mr. Speaker, I'd like to ask the Minister what other steps are we undertaking to do our part in better managing the caribou herds? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 164-15(6): Caribou Management Issues August 21st, 2007

Mr. Speaker, $800,000 was allocated by this Assembly for additional work to conduct surveys to confirm, determine, and keep a much closer eye on the trends and circumstances that are affecting the health of the herd so we can make better management decisions. I would like to ask the Minister if he can advise, have those surveys been undertaken yet and what indicators, if any so far, are the caribou counters bringing back to us in terms of the health and the status of the herds? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 164-15(6): Caribou Management Issues August 21st, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a couple of carefully crafted questions for Mr. McLeod, the Minister for Environment and Natural Resources. It concerns the very high profile debates and work that has gone, so far, into the plight of our caribou herds and our role as stewards of the caribou to see what we can do to better manage them. Mr. Speaker, we got into a jurisdictional dispute between our government and the Wekeezhii Renewable Resources Board over who has jurisdiction for allocating tags and harvest levels in Tlicho land. My question is, will the GNWT recognize the Wekeezhii board's claim to jurisdiction in allocating caribou harvest in the Tlicho region? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

GNWT Caribou Management Practices August 21st, 2007

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. In January of this year, along with many other territorial leaders and wildlife

professionals and outfitters, I attended the most successful Caribou Summit in Inuvik hosted by the former Minister of Environment and Natural Resources. There was a strong sense of a need for urgent collective action in the face of substantially declining caribou herds in the NWT, the Yukon and Nunavut.

Mr. Speaker, caribou is an absolutely essential part of the lifestyle, economy and the livelihoods of people here in the NWT, all northerners who have come to rely on this remarkable natural resource.

Prompted by this, the Minister undertook a number of prompt and dramatic actions. One of them was to bring a request before this Assembly to I believe almost double our budget for surveying caribou herds this year to over $800,000 and that was readily accepted by this Assembly. The Minister also took prompt and dramatic action to cut allocations to caribou sport hunting outfitters, Mr. Speaker, reducing the allocation by almost half this year to 750 and half again next year to some 350 tags in total.

Mr. Speaker, the government also promptly, dramatically and unfortunately locked horns with the Wekweezhii Resource Management Board by going into some very unknown and confusing territory and frustrating dispute over jurisdiction, Mr. Speaker, based on the Tlicho land claim, that put our government at odds with the Tlicho over who is responsible for management of this resource in Tlicho land.

Mr. Speaker, the survival of caribou is a paramount issue across the North and all of our communities. It is also a real source of cash and opportunity in our tourism industry. I am going to be asking some very carefully worded questions for the Minister of ENR later today. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Committee Motion 10-15(6): Deletion Of $100,000 From Economic Development Activity, Iti, Funding For Trade Mission To China, Defeated August 20th, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The offer that the Minister has made to sort of brief committee on the fly here on the floor in the dying days of this Assembly really falls short. It demonstrates a number of the things that we've talked about over and over in the life of this Assembly. I spoke to them this afternoon in my reply to the opening address; that communication issues have really dogged the relationship between just about every department or other and committee. I am sort of doubly frustrated here because at heart I am a tourism guy, Mr. Chairman, but I also have a responsibility to be a steward of the resources and the needs that we have over here to make sure business is done thoroughly, openly and in decent time and that has not been the case. Minister Bell advised us a little while ago that this mission has been in the works for some time now. I am assuming that is months, perhaps even longer. My understanding is it's years. It takes a long time to set up protocols with the Chinese officials to do this. I can appreciate that accessing this is going to potentially further delay our chances of getting a foot in the door at China. But I am still sitting here, Mr. Chairman, saying I am going to sign off on $100,000 without the benefit of information or performing or doing my job, doing the committee's job as oversight and as partners and contributors to this kind of thing. I have been denied the opportunity.

Mr. Chairman, I am going to ask a couple of questions here. Why didn't the department come to committee and distribute the information? I am speaking to the motion. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

Committee Motion 10-15(6): Deletion Of $100,000 From Economic Development Activity, Iti, Funding For Trade Mission To China, Defeated August 20th, 2007

Mr. Chairman, I move that $100,000 will be deleted from the economic development activity under the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment, operations expenditures, not previously authorized on page 10, for the provision of funding for a trade mission to China. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Item 20: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters August 20th, 2007

Well, Mr. Chairman, I'm in a bit of a dilemma here because I have a motion that I wanted to put on the floor and perhaps I'll read it and we can at least engage in it then.

Item 20: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters August 20th, 2007

Thank you for that information. Does it not seem a bit unusual, if I could continue to direct the question to Mr. Bell, that we are undertaking this mission, yes, at the very end of this Assembly and our senior official, Mr. Handley, I understand is going to be leading the delegation. He is not returning to this Assembly.

---Laughter

How is it, Mr. Chair, that this government wants to undertake this when the Minister quite rightly points out that this should only be the first of many delegations and building this market? It just seems quite unusual that we are putting this together under the direction of our senior politician who is not going to be here in the coming Assembly and who will not be on tap to follow up and carry through with this. My point is, as desirable a mission as this is, doesn't it make more sense to take this good planning, defer it and allow the senior people from the next Assembly to take it on?

Item 20: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters August 20th, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Is that the extent of the information that the Minister is able to provide?

Item 20: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters August 20th, 2007

Thank you, Madam Chair. Yes, there are a couple of things in here that should be celebrated, as Ms. Lee pointed out, when we see good work, even if it is the result of years of hard slogging. When the paperwork actually lands on the desk and we are given the chance to say yes to it and really have it mean something, then that is something that makes this job worthwhile.

Ms. Lee has highlighted the territorial dementia centre, a long sought after program. Madam Chair, I think just about all Members, members of the general public, the media, have all heard the stories of families that are dealing with their parents and relatives who are undergoing the inevitable terrible devastation of these kinds of diseases and the lack of a facility here in Yellowknife. One that is capable of looking after people on a territory-wide basis is very welcome news. Ms. Lee has highlighted the work of other partners in here. This is a really innovative approach and one that I am proud to have had some part in, but I am much more proud and satisfied to see that we are actually going to be committing to it.

Madam Chair, I think that I would also like to celebrate the $1.6 million that is earmarked for the purchase of modular classrooms for Ecole St. Joseph. This was done. Many factors are at play in the school agenda here in Yellowknife, but the principal one here was reacting or responding to the devastating fire of just about a year ago now at this school. So this is welcome.

Madam Chair, I also welcome the almost $2.5 million for the Tourism Product Diversification and Marketing Program. As the tourism industry enlarge in one sector, which is the outfitting and sports hunting sector went through and is still going through some wrenching changes, Madam Chair. As Members know, I have been a vocal critic of the way our government has responded to this situation, in part because of the business agenda that I think we left behind. We left a number of operators really holding the bag for far too long. While I say I celebrate this move to look at how we can diversify our tourism product, it is something that is overdue. Let's just get on with the job.

Madam Chair, I want to take this opportunity to ask for some additional information and clarification on one item that committee found lacking in the development of this appropriation. That is the $100,000 that is requested to enable the Premier, I understand, and officials and members of the private sector to go to China next month on a...I guess the best I know about it is that there is a largely business agenda. Tourism is one of the topics that is at its forefront. But, Madam Chair, usually committee is given ample notice, detail and information on the nature of these kinds of fairly high profile and, I would like to think, very beneficial visits. We have not had the benefit of that in this request for $100,000. I would like to ask the Minister if he could at this time, or at some point over the next few minutes during our debate of this bill, supply us with information about the nature, the objectives, the

participants, the outcomes that are anticipated from this mission to China.