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Last in the Legislative Assembly September 2007, as MLA for Yellowknife South

Won his last election, in 2003, by acclaimation.

Statements in the House

Tabled Documents 61-15(6): Business Development Fund Annual Report And Recipients Report, April 1, 2006 - March 31, 2007 August 22nd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I wish to table the following document entitled Business Development Fund Annual Report and Recipients Report, April 1, 2006 to March 31, 2007.

mr. Bell's Reply August 22nd, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity today to announce to my constituents that I won't be seeking re-election in the upcoming territorial election. I want to thank them for their support over the last eight years. It's been an absolutely wonderful experience for me; the most rewarding eight years of my life. Of course, a number of things, and Members know, Mr. Speaker, have happened to me in my personal life over the last eight years, very important things: I have been married, I have two wonderful children now and so it's an amazing time of change for me. Professionally, it's been absolutely stimulating, very rewarding and it's given me the opportunity to meet and work with some very exciting people. So it's been a great experience.

I have a number of people I would like to thank. Everybody in this building, who works in the building, I want to tell them how much I appreciate the staff, the efforts that they've made, the Members I have had a chance to work with and the friends I have made in this building both in the last four years and previous. I very much appreciate the chance to work with them. So it was a difficult decision for me to make, one I made with my family with a bit of a heavy heart because I like the job as much today as the day I was first elected. I am as excited about the job today as I was then, but there are a number of other things I would like to pursue, so I will be doing that.

Let me thank my family; my wife, Jill, my daughters, Emily and Madison. My little daughter Emily is now just getting to the age where she is starting to understand that I go off to work. I am sure my wife put her up to it, but she's been asking me daily for the entire week if I have retired yet.


So tonight when I go home, I can tell her that yes, in fact, I have retired and it seems a very strange thing to say; retired from territorial politics at this time. A lot of credit to my wife. As Members of this House know, much of your personal life, this job ends up being the focus of it. You end up being the centre of attention in the family, obviously not deliberately, but it just goes with the territory, and my wife has made a lot of sacrifices for me in this job. I very much love her for that and appreciate that. I am excited about the chance to spend more time with her, with my little girls, more pancakes on the weekends. They have been through a lot with us. There are many ups and downs, as Members know, in this job. More ups than downs, I must say, but they have been very strong through it all. It's difficult for spouses, Mr. Speaker. They never appreciate when they see things in the media or newspaper that they feel is unnecessarily critical of you. It's one thing for us to develop the thick skins that we all must and we all have, but it's entirely another to see our families go through that. It's been a great experience, as I say. I can't think of another job where I would have the ability to travel to all 33 communities in the Northwest Territories. That's been great. As a youngster, of course, I did sports and got a chance to travel a fair bit, but nothing like this and not meeting the kinds of people that I have met. I know my wife understands how important that was to me and has been very supportive of me the whole way through.

There are some staff people I would also like to mention. MaryAnne Woytuik has been with me eight years, first as constituency assistant and now upstairs in my office. I love her like family. She's wonderful and she's been very supportive and I will very much miss working with MaryAnne on a day-to-day basis.

Pietro DeBastiani, he's been great as well. Early on, he and I sat down and talked about what I thought the job that he was about to embark on entailed and what was most important to me. I said to him the most important thing to me was he work very closely with Members, ordinary Members, to deal with and solve problems on behalf of their constituents. I found it somewhat frustrating as an ordinary Member in my first term trying to deal with Ministers who were very busy, their office was very busy and I wanted to commit, between the two of us, that we would put Members' concerns as top priority and so that has been his first priority. I hope that Members have found that that has been a good experience for them. I know Pietro takes the concerns very seriously and works very hard for you.

The other thing I would like to say about Pietro is he's been very good to remind me that this job will go on, this government and the people will go on after each and every one of us is gone, but our families are critical. Striking that balance is critical. That's the most valuable piece of advice Pietro has given me and I thank him very much for that.

I would also like to mention Betty Anne Winsor who was my constituency assistant. She's been gone for about a year now and she was so good that I figured that I could never replace her adequately, so I just never bothered.


I miss her. She was wonderful for the constituency and did a great job. I appreciate all of her efforts.

To the departmental staff, I have had a few departments. I have gone through the change to ITI from ENR. Some of that was difficult, but I want to point to two people; my deputy minister who says, as I think all Members know and certainly Ministers know, you are only as strong as the team that you have, and that deputy minister is certainly a critical part of the team; Don Cooper with the Department of Justice. I think people across the Northwest Territories like Don, liked to work for him and that's why I think he's been able to assemble one of the strongest legal teams in the North and kept all of those people together for a long, long time. There is very little turnover in that department and people find it very rewarding to work for him and I have been the beneficiary of that and I think all of us in the Assembly have been the beneficiary of that. A lot of credit goes to Don for that.

Peter Vician, let me say that in this job meeting with industry, I have met a lot of CEOs of energy companies, a lot of CEOs of mining companies who are all very, very well paid, much better paid than we pay our deputy ministers. So I can tell you that I have not many of them who I think are more competent than Peter or who do a better job at doing their job than he does. He is an absolute professional and this government is lucky to have him.

Assembly staff, there have been a number of people through this building and let me say I appreciate all of your efforts over the years. I hope that, again, although Members are the focus of so much of what we do, I hope that I have been able to deal with you fairly. Member Miltenberger has commented often before on Members and how we tend to become "clicky fingered" I think is how he refers to it. That potentially may be inevitable. I hope that we haven't been with the staff and I want to tell them how much I value the work that they've done. Board of Management staff, first David Hamilton in my first term was instrumental in providing advice to the Board of Management. I was on that and had quite a role in dealing with a number of events on Board of Management. Katherine Petersen as well provided very good advice to that board. Now filling those shoes, and filling them ably, is Tim Mercer and Glen Boyd. I appreciate all the work they have done for that board that has taken a lot of my time over the last eight years. Myles Moreside, let me say, if I could point to one guy, the wheels could really fall off this place if Myles eventually retires and I suppose it's inevitable that he will, but I appreciate all of his work on behalf of Members.

My future, Mr. Speaker, there are still a lot of unknowns for me. There are a number of things I am interested in politically as I have alluded to. I won't deny that I will have an interest in that in the future, but more immediately I am looking forward to getting back into business. This is something that I have missed immensely. That has never been off my mind. I look forward to being able to pursue some of those interests in the near future. Who knows what the future will bring, but I want to just tell my constituents that I appreciate your support. It's been a

great experience for me, an eight years I will never forget. I want to thank you for that. Thank you.


Question 181-15(6): Traditionally-tanned Moosehide Program August 22nd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, as I have said, we are going to consider it, but it will be moose first. We do understand that there is a fair bit of tanning of barren-land caribou hides already. It is much more prevalent, I believe, than moose. We have concerns about seeing moosehides left in the bush. We know that artisans are very interested in seeing traditionally-tanned moosehides. That is why we are starting there first. Thank you.

Question 181-15(6): Traditionally-tanned Moosehide Program August 22nd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I don't have that information here available. I will get the information for the Member. As I have indicated, we haven't considered, at this point, caribou hides. A lot of it is going to depend on uptake. We are not sure ultimately what the demand will look like, but we do have funds in the budget that we are going to use for moose at this point. We will watch the program. We will evaluate the program. If there is cause and room to expand it, we will certainly look at that. But we will get back to Members with the results of this before we propose to do that. Thank you.

Question 181-15(6): Traditionally-tanned Moosehide Program August 22nd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I guess, as it is a pilot project, we are going to try it with moosehides first. We think that is where the demand is for some of our artisans. That is what we are hearing, at any rate. If we had success there, then we could look at other ways to ensure we have a constant supply of raw materials. But the pilot will start with moosehides. Thank you.

Question 174-15(6): Renovations To Ulukhaktok Arts And Crafts Shop August 22nd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I think I got the question. It was about the funding for the renovations. I believe those renovations have been completed. I can't remember if in the business plan it also contemplates further monies for renovations. My tour, the last time I was in Ulukhaktok, of the facility, from a lay view it seemed to be a very good building. I know that there were some issues that we were seeking to address, but it's not like it needed a massive overhaul. So I can't tell you if there are further renovations contemplated, but I know that we did do some building envelope stuff to ensure that the buildings would make it through last winter. Thank you.

Question 174-15(6): Renovations To Ulukhaktok Arts And Crafts Shop August 22nd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, we think we're working out the final details. For instance, we think it can generate somewhere in the neighbourhood of 40 to 60 part-time jobs and a couple of permanent jobs in that community. It really can be an economic shot in the arm and I think it's going to reinstate a lot of the pride that that community had, and probably still has, in its craft production. But we know that we need to work with that community to make this happen. So I say we're close. I guess nothing is final until all the details are finalized, but I am optimistic that we will see this craft shop up and running. Thank you.

Question 174-15(6): Renovations To Ulukhaktok Arts And Crafts Shop August 22nd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, thank you. We have been working with the community, with the co-op in Holman as a stopgap measure because the co-op has been shut down for some time. We found some money to go in and do some repairs to the building envelope and to the heating system I believe to ensure that the building wouldn't fall into further disrepair. Since that time, and with the goal, of course, of getting the co-op back up and running and producing the art that it is so famous for, since that time we've been working very hard with the BDIC to try to generate a business plan for the co-op. As a subsidiary, the government would make an investment here and it would be co-owned, joint-owned, and that's something that we've been working on. I think we're getting very close to being able to roll that concept out again and I think people across the North, and I know tourists, have been looking forward to seeing those arts and crafts, especially the prints, available as they go to Holman again. So I hope that we have a good announcement soon, but I can tell the Member that we are

working very diligently to try to revitalize the co-op. Thank you.

Question 172-15(6): Traditionally-tanned Moosehide Program August 22nd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, that's exactly how we envision the program working so that there is some incentive for the hunter who can make sure that these hides are properly tanned and that we have access to raw materials. I know Members in the House have been talking for some time about the raw materials required for craft production, the fact that we don't have a consistent supply. That is the piece and the link in this chain that has been missing that we are trying to deal with here and I hope very much that this can be successful. I know there have been past attempts at doing this and for a number of reasons it's been difficult. It is difficult work; it's very heavy; many of the hides were left to rot. I think the problem has been the financial incentive and the training and those are the two issues that we are hoping to address here, make sure it's worth people's while to provide these hides for craft production. Thank you.

Question 172-15(6): Traditionally-tanned Moosehide Program August 22nd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, our people are going to work with the hunters and with the HTAs to ensure that everybody is aware of the types of hides and the care that is required. We're also going to sit down and negotiate a guaranteed price. I don't have, at this point, what that guaranteed price will be, but the hunters will know, going out, the range of the price for the hide, know that it's dependent on condition and understand that there is an incentive to make sure that it's properly handled. So they will have this information before they go out, I'm sure. I don't know what the guaranteed price will be. We've discussed, this morning in discussion at Cabinet, the typical range for a moose hide in terms of pricing, but I don't have that information with me and I think it will be dependent on condition. I can assure the Member that our staff will work with those hunters before they go out and they will know the range of the guarantee in terms of price. Thank you.