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Roles

Elsewhere

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

Won his last election, in 2003, by acclaimation.

Statements in the House

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

Mr. Chair, I think the important thing to note here is that NTCL, Aurora Village, Aurora World, Watta Lake Lodge, Mackay Lake Lodge, and Arctic Chalet, these are businesses that have a lot of history here. They will be here in the next government. The Premier's role is to open doors for these businesses and no slight to Mr. Handley, but what is more important is that it is the office of the Premier. That is the compelling issue here, not the person who is in that role. We have the ability to use our Premier and his office to open some very important doors. It can open up new markets to these businesses. We don't think that we can wait. We know that this winter, it is no secret, is going to be very difficult for our aurora tourism industry. They are under immense pressure. I don't think we have time to wait to start to look to diversify markets. So there will be follow-up and follow through. The next Premier and the next government hopefully will acknowledge and recognize that this is a priority. But more important than who is going is the fact that the office of the Premier is going to open doors for these businesses. I know they are very appreciative of that. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

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

Thank you, Mr. Chair. For the last several years, my department has been lobbying Chinese trade officials to try to build a program to go to China and open some doors for some of our businesspeople specifically in tourism and also some opportunities we see in transportation. But tourism, as we have seen with the aurora industry coming under additional pressure, Japanese numbers are falling off. We have been looking at a logical market to diversify to. All evidence points to China and its 1.3 billion people as being very prospective for us in terms of aurora tourism, but we are having difficulty getting an invitation at the appropriate levels that would allow us to build a trade mission to China, so we had the Premier speak to some Hong Kong investors in Toronto and some trade officials and investors in Edmonton. We were pleased that, on the heels of that, we did receive an invitation from the proper levels of the Chinese government for the Premier to lead a trade mission to China and to make the connections for a number of our businesspeople who could benefit from such a mission and such contact. So the reason it comes at the end of this government, we wish we had advanced further on this sooner because we know what great pressure our tourism industry is under, but we are still thankful that we did receive the invitation for the Premier to come and lead this delegation. That piece was critical in China. We needed to have it at that level in order to get the attention of business there and the proper protocol at the government level. So we believe that this can be very successful.

It certainly can't be the last China trade mission. The Department of Yukon I think has been there, in my recollection, over the last year or so three or so times to China on similar trade missions. So we know that there will need to be follow-up with more business officials, more departmental officials, but we have this opportunity here and we think there is some merit in seizing on it. Thank you.

Tabled Document 50-15(6): Proposed Amendments To The Maintenance Orders Enforcement Act, August 2007Tabled Document 51-15(6): Proposed Amendments To The Residential Tenancies Act, August 2007 August 20th, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have two documents for tabling. They are proposed amendments to the Maintenance Orders Enforcement Act, August 2007 and proposed amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act, August 2007. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Item 5: Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery August 20th, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would also like to recognize Bob McLeod today who I think has lived in Yellowknife South since 1988. That makes him one of the original Yellowknife South constituents. The riding isn't that old. Welcome to the gallery, Bob.

---Applause

Tabled Document 43-15(6): 2005-2006 NWT Business Development And Investment Corporation Annual Report August 17th, 2007

Also, Mr. Speaker, I would like to table the following document entitled 2005-2006 NWT Business Development and Investment Corporation Annual Report. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Tabled Document 42-15(6): Communities And Diamonds 2006 Annual Report Of The Government Of The Northwest Territories Under The Bhp Billiton, Diavik And De Beers Socio-economic Agreements August 17th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I have two documents I would like to table today. I wish to table the following document entitled Communities and Diamonds - 2006 Annual Report of the GNWT under the BHP Billiton, Diavik and De Beers Socio-economic Agreements.

Question 146-15(6): Bdic Business Program Policy Changes August 17th, 2007

Several questions there, Mr. Speaker. I hope that I can keep track and remember them all, but in terms of the patient capital, this is one of the new programs proposed by BDIC. They are out actively consulting. They are around communities in the North. I hope Members are being advised and apprised

that they are in their communities looking to consult with stakeholders on this. I think that can be a successful and new program for the BDIC. So these discussions are underway.

We are also looking at creating some differential rates, loan rates, depending on the level of risk to the business. We may have prime plus one, two, three, depending on the level of risk of the business is another thing that we had looked at, the BDIC is proposing. We were looking to put that into regulation.

Increased cap -- thank you very much to the Member -- there has been some discussion around this and I think our preference at this point would be to see those businesses that have a track record and are bankable, that we would get those loans out from under the realm of the BDIC and into the realm of the chartered banks. They don't really need the BDIC support and we can move them off into the chartered banks. That's what we would like to do and free up more money under our portfolio for new businesses. So there are some things we are looking at. If that isn't really viable, then maybe this is something that we do need to look at and that would be a couple of different tiers of lending. So these issues are very much in a state of discussion and we continue the consultation on these initiatives.

Question 146-15(6): Bdic Business Program Policy Changes August 17th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, the amount of our loan portfolio continues to grow. I don't have a specific number here, but I believe the portfolio under the BDIC is in the $40 million range. That is up significantly, so we are getting more money out to our communities. The Member, in her statement, talked about the personal limits set now at $2 million for any one business or ownership group. We've had a lot of discussion around that. Our concern is we want to be sufficiently diversified. If one business runs into financial difficulty and we have a loan default, we want to make sure that that isn't such a large part or portion of our loan portfolio that it has a devastating effect.

So we are discussing, and we will continue to review, those loan limits. But the best information I can give to the Member is our portfolio continues to grow; we continue to get more money out into our communities; we continue to work to improve the provision of service as well, related to our programming and the work the staff are doing in the regions. Thank you.

Question 146-15(6): Bdic Business Program Policy Changes August 17th, 2007

I will have to get a formal update for the Member, from committee members, in terms of where the various different aspects of SINED funding sit today. There are very many schedules, targeted investment programs, application-based programming available. Individuals can apply through the Department of Indian and Northern Development to access funds. Government departments have been successful in accessing funds, whether it be for a road at Taltson, some runway work. There have been other pots of money that have been allocated across the territory. ITI has been involved in that. In terms of the specific $2 million that the Member is referring to, I will certainly have to get more information and I will provide an update as soon as I get that. Thank you.

Question 146-15(6): Bdic Business Program Policy Changes August 17th, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is a philosophical change and I have talked to my colleagues on this side of the House as well, Minister McLeod about his days as an economic development officer in Providence. We know that the amount of money we have available for business development funds and the amount of grants to go out to communities has been decimated over the last 10 to 15 years. We see much less money available in terms of grants, so we had a shrinking pool. Most of the money was being accessed by the larger communities and it became very apparent that the larger communities had easier access to capital, not enough access admittedly but easier access, and that many of our small communities weren't able to get much in the way of business development funding. So we've made a decision that we would target the grants to the smaller communities and try to improve loan access for the larger communities. Thank you.