Last in the Legislative Assembly September 1995, as MLA for Yellowknife Centre
Won his last election, in 1991, with 32% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Question 687-12(7): Improvements To Banking Services In Nwt June 22nd, 1995
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Since the co-ops have acted as the informal banks for many people in the Northwest Territories, for close to 30 years, I would like to ask the Minister of Finance if in fact he would tell us in what way attempts have been made to formalize something which has really, up to this date, only been an informal arrangement whereby a range of banking services are being provided by the cooperative movement?
Question 687-12(7): Improvements To Banking Services In Nwt June 22nd, 1995
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I had hoped that Mr. Todd would be in the House because I had indicated earlier on that I was interested in asking questions about co-ops, but I'll ask a related question to the Minister of Finance. I would like to ask the Minister of Finance about a related subject, and the subject is this, Mr. Speaker. For many years now we've recognized that throughout the Northwest Territories the co-op
has acted as a bank, very informally. Many Members here, I know, are aware of this. I would like to ask the Minister of Finance what progress has our government made in trying to improve banking services in the Northwest Territories. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Development Of The Cooperative Movement June 22nd, 1995
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Throughout the Northwest Territories, one of the major economic developments over the last 30 years has been the development of the cooperative movement. Much of the credit goes to the federal government who saw that this made sense in the kind of jurisdiction that we have.
When I was a young boy, Mr. Speaker, everybody shopped at the co-op in our village. It was locally owned, all the employees were local, all the dividends went to local people, all the staff and management and everything was local, and people had a great attachment to it.
It's been a terrible battle for the co-op to get itself established in the Northwest Territories despite the sense that it made, simply because there was another huge corporation that had been here for 350 years: the Hudson Bay Company, who fought like fury to stop it from getting a foothold. Many of the people who worked for that company remember the battles they had with local co-op people who were trying to provide competition with this monolithic force, which was at that time based in London and Europe.
Mr. Speaker, now that the Hudson Bay Company really doesn't operate in the Northwest Territories, we should not have opposition any more to this kind of development. I believe that our government should recognize what it has done, it's achievements and importance to northern people and we should find in our hearts enough sympathy and understanding to provide the kind of support that this operation needs if it is going to survive into the future.
I shall be asking the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism some questions about this later. Thank you.
Public Consensus On Bill C-68 June 21st, 1995
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have some comments to make, Mr. Speaker, about Bill C-68, the gun control bill. I have been a little bit concerned because there seems to have been some surveying done about people's attitudes and opinions on this issue. In my own attempt to get a feel for public opinion, Mr. Speaker, I found that there is a difference in the way people react, according to whether they're a gun owner or whether they're not a gun owner. That should be obvious, I suppose, but it would be very easy to take a survey of people and, if the vast majority of them don't own guns and you ask them about gun registration, they would say there would be no problem that they have to register their car, have to have a licence for their dog and they don't see a problem With having a gun registered.
However, if you're a gun owner, automatically --because you know what's in this bill --you would say this is under the Criminal Code of Canada, and I'm being treated as though I'm a potential criminal. They want me to register my gun because they don't trust me. It's very easy to do a survey to get the public opinion that people don't have any problems with registering rifles or guns.
So, Mr. Speaker, in my attempt to find out what people really felt, first of all, I found that people are very, very upset that a government which has a huge deficit could be faced with an act which costs -- according to various estimates depending on whether you're in the opposition or the government -- anywhere between $78 million and $500 million just to carry out the registration program. A lot of people are concerned about that. The biggest concern that people have, though, is if you really want to have some system for registering these guns, then why couldn't it be done not in a crime bill -- and that's what this is, a crime bill -- but like with any other thing that you own, so there would be registry. Even though it would be tremendously costly, the public would at least see that it has nothing to do with them and their potential to be involved in criminal activity.
I say any efforts that we make right now in trying to lobby the Senate to make changes and so on, will make no change to the fundamental nature of the bill, which is a crime bill. That's what northerners find offensive. Peace-loving people who own rifles, not to protect their property or to shoot people they don't like, are going to be treated as potential criminals. We are unlike the people in Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver because we don't see guns in the same way. That's what I found in my survey of local people. It depends on who you're talking to. If you own a gun, you know all the implications and if you don't own one, you have to be educated on what this bill is all about.
I wish our people the best of luck in Ottawa, but you can't change the fundamental nature of this bill, which is a crime bill. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Item 5: Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery June 19th, 1995
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to recognize Bob and Carol Latremouille. They were residents of Yellowknife for many years; they lived on my street. Carol was also an employee of the government. They are visiting in their retirement, just to show you that when people retire, they spend time here. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Welcome to the Assembly. Item 5, recognition of visitors in the gallery. Today, I would like to recognize the fathers, who are in the gallery and in this Chamber, and wish them a belated Happy Father's Day and also the mothers, a belated Happy Mother's Day.
Item 6, oral questions. Mr. Whitford.
Importance Of Mlas' Team Unity June 16th, 1995
Mr. Speaker, my honourable colleague from Yellowknife South, Mr. Dent, has talked about the necessity of a cohesive team approach. The Member for Iqaluit, Mr. Patterson, has mentioned team politics. I agree with these statements, Mr. Speaker, and I think we should start working on it right now before the next Media Sharks charity hockey game. That maybe is the secret. If we can get this House to work as a team for the first time to beat the media, by working cohesively perhaps it could be the seeds of a new approach to politics in the Northwest Territories where we suddenly arrive at the formula to be successful. Who knows, Mr. Speaker? If we do it right, this may become an election issue and people can begin training right now so that in the next Assembly we can get a really good team to beat our traditional enemy at this well-known Canadian game. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Importance Of Mlas' Team Unity June 16th, 1995
Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest last Friday to the discussion that we had on Bill 33, An Act to Amend the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act, No. 3. An act that has also been referred to by some to make the Premier into a queen or an empress or a deity; all kinds of uncomplimentary words, in my opinion.
Mr. Speaker, everyone has an opinion on this bill, and various people recall that we have had people in the past who were deities. I refer, of course, to the first northern-resident Commissioner, Mr. Hodgson, who was sometimes referred to as the emperor of the north; sometimes referred to in...(inaudible)...
Mr. Speaker, there has been some interest in the last while in what's been referred to as team politics. Team politics being a word to describe those people who can, in fact, work together. The alternative to teams, Mr. Speaker, is gangs. If you recall, Mr. Speaker, this week when I was discussing this issue of sport; I raised it as a statement that sport was a very important thing. I found that when I worked in the poorer parts of London and England, as I was a young man very interested in sport, I was asked, why don't you try to get these young people interested in sport; because the alternative to being on a team is really to become part of a gang, and gangs really do terrible things. They get into trouble. Their objectives are not always good objectives. I see that happening in all the urban areas throughout the world. People operate as gangs, and they can cause mayhem, problems, trouble.
So, Mr. Speaker, I'm suggesting today that if we really want to advance, we should think about teams and teamwork; otherwise the result will be gang warfare. Gang warfare, as we all know, is very unpleasant. It characterizes many of our cities throughout the world. And I don't see anything wrong with being part of a team, because that's how you get things done, that's how you move, that's how you become a winner. Gangs never win. They may succeed in the odd battle but, in the long run, they will be divisive, destructive and will get you nowhere. This system is in danger of, in my opinion, descending to gang warfare until we do something about it.
Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to complete my statement.
Committee Motion 70-12(7): To Add A New Clause 4.1 To Bill 25 June 15th, 1995
This debate has been going on for some time now about the issue of the length of the school year, as it's sometimes called. It has lead to all kinds of invidious comparisons between countries and provinces and states, as to the quality and the standard of education that exists in those jurisdictions. Some people have tried to make the correlation between the length of the school year and the achievements of the students. Japan, for example, which has a very long school year, a higher number of days, has a very high achievement rate among its students. So the public is lead to believe that if you're in school for 230 days a year, then you're going to get a higher standard of education. I just use that as an example.
But there have been all kinds of debates in the professional educational journals taking one side or the other. This has lead to this whole debate about how you can compare jurisdictions, because the argument is made that although an institution may be in operation for so many days, when you look at the number of hours, they are actually comparable. You're mislead into believing that the days really make a difference.
I recognize that, from the very beginning, we have specified hours of instruction for different levels and so on, especially at the high school level where you're doing things for credit. But the reason the committee wanted to put something in the act which was demonstratable was it and would show the public that this system is going to have children going to school for so many days in the year -- and it's a modest number compared with the numbers that you hear reported in the professional press -- that this is very modest number of days compared to jurisdictions that require children to go to school; in many cases, for more than 200 days in a year.
So I think that since we've made a commitment to comparable standards, then I think the obligation was that we put something in there to give some assurance to the public that this system will have children going to school for a minimum number of days so that you don't get this thrown at you; that our system is substandard, it's wide open; therefore, we continue to operate a substandard, inferior education system where kids don't have to go to school the same as they do everywhere else. It's much more up in the air, much more flexible and so on. Having something definite in the act seems to be one of the ways of at least assuring the public that our students do in fact have a minimum number of days when they would be going to school to get instruction.
The general perception of the public is that over the last 30 years, for all kinds of reasons, the length of the school year has diminished. It's getting shorter and shorter and shorter. It has lead to all this debate about the quality of education, standards, comparability of systems, and you want to avoid doing that as much as you possibly can.
I'm just wondering how 190 days would translate, since the department will have had some notion that this was coming; whether they've looked at the impact of having a minimum number. Could we do a smaller number than 190? Because we've been told already that in our system under the current act, we have kind of a flexible system where already schools are only doing 170. This is what we've been told. So is there some minimum number we could put in there so at least the public will know that in our system, we do have schools in operation in a way that will give the public some confidence that we're not too much different in the way we approach at least the exposure of children to the instructional program to what exists elsewhere in the country?
To be a little bit lighthearted, Mr. Chairman, I don't believe that we've ever considered paying teachers by the hour or by the minute. They're paid to work for a year, and they're paid over 12 months, I believe. And there is some expectation that they will be on duty for so many days in the year. It's very hard to see from this act when anybody would be on duty, when any school would be in operation. So I would like to ask the Minister, through you, Mr. Chairman, because I'm out of touch -- I have to be a bit confessional here -- with the way in which we keep records now.
I know at one time, you had the school year and they would specify the particular days in which a school would be in operation; so that you would know that the legal obligation that a parent has to send their kids to that school is over that certain period of time. If it's 170 days, or longer, is there a way that that is specified in the register, so you know that the legal obligations are met by having that child go to that school on the days specified?
As I understand it, that's a legal requirement under this act. Compulsory education exists in this system and we have an obligation to do it because of all the commitments we've made to make sure that children are going to school in the important, formative years. So, for the benefit of Members, Mr. Chairman, I think it would be useful if we did get a response to the issue raised by Mrs. Marie-Jewell earlier on about how we're going to record all of this.
In each school, will there be different days in which kids have to go to school, and will that be spelled out ahead of time so that we all know that in this jurisdiction, or in a certain district, kids will be expected to be in school on certain days during the school calendar year? Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Item 9: Replies To Opening Address June 15th, 1995
In making my reply today, I will not attempt to do what I threatened nearly eight years ago, Mr. Speaker, with my effort to get into the record books for the longest reply. I've replied to every Commissioner's address since getting elected but, by now, I'm in danger of becoming repetitive. The order paper, though, Mr. Speaker, is there to be used and I've used it to express my concerns and those of my constituents because, as an ordinary Member, that is the tool we have. For those people I irritate by using the order paper, I don't offer any apologies, because that's my job.
I would like to begin with thanks to those who have helped or supported me over my two terms in this Assembly, Mr. Speaker. First of all, I would like to thank Della, my wife...
---Applause Who has been a source of considerable support. I phoned her once I decided to speak today, and asked her if she would come across. She said that she has come across for many, many years in the past for many, many things that you want support for, but this afternoon, I have a commitment. She said she can't be here, but to please go ahead without her and she would see people tonight on the Norweta.
Mr. Speaker, when I woke up one Saturday morning about eight years ago, I told my wife I was thinking of running and she was both surprised and pleased. She knew that in my former life, I had been a jock, had travelled extensively and I had complained in those recent months of being sadly out of shape. Of course, she thought I meant jogging, not elections. She was amused when I corrected her. In fact, she cracked up and burst into gales of laughter. I thought, Mr. Speaker, that she was going to choke on this ludicrous idea that I would be running in an election and not do road work that I had done many, many years ago when I was a young man.
Immediately, although we were still half sleeping, she began giving me a list of the many political liabilities that I have. First, I don't smile enough. Like Mr. Kakfwi, I have never been to charm school, and I'm often accused of not being a barrel of laughs.
But that's something I compensate for in many other ways. I think a lot although I'm not, as I'm sometimes accused of being by Mr. Todd, a philosopher. That's the second time I've brought his name into my speech, Mr. Speaker.
I've also poor at remembering names, Mr. Speaker. Unlike some Members of this Assembly, I'm not a touchy-feely type who can weasel things out of people. The other liability I have, Mr. Speaker, according to this initial list by my wife, is that I had been a senior bureaucrat, one of the untouchables, the people so remote from the lives of ordinary, everyday citizens that I could never understand the feelings of the people who I would want to represent. Therefore, that was the biggest liability of all.
These are just examples, Mr. Speaker. As I said, it was a very long list that went on until quite late that Saturday morning. Eventually, of course, she gave up trying to get me to see the light but when I had officially committed myself, she became my closest advisor and greatest source of encouragement.
Mr. Speaker, I should like to thank also my children: Letia, Loyola, Lara and Lawrence. They are all talented, energetic and creative people. It is not always pleasant to be the offspring of an elected official. I'm grateful to them for their understanding and tolerance. I've been in public service for 32 years and I have not given the time a good father should. I promise to do better in the future because, even at my age, I believe it's never too late.
Prior to and during my terms of office, Mr. Speaker, I was fortunate to receive the help and support of many Yellowknife people. For five years, Eric Watt put together my constituency newspaper, The Blade. It was an excellent, amusing, innovative publication and very popular in the public service. Some constituents, Mr. Speaker, I found felt it was a little bit too lighthearted, perhaps, and I was having too much fun with it so I haven't produced it over the past few years. I would like to thank Eric Watt for his expert help and his good humour during the times we worked on that publication.
In two campaigns, Mr. Speaker, I've enjoyed the support of the Hinchey family, major contributors to the growth of Yellowknife for over two decades. I would like to thank Stefan Simek and Dana Ferguson of Ferguson, Simek, Clark for their early encouragement. I would extend my thanks to Seamus Henry of Raven Resources; to Tony Vane and Otto Stabel of Yellowknife Motors; to Allan Dunn and Dale Robinson; to Norman Mair and Mike Bell; to the staff of the Abe Miller Centre; to Dwight Noseworthy; and, to my many colleagues in the Department of Education, the Northwest Territories Council for Disabled Persons and the arts community.
Many of my friends helped and encouraged me over the years, Mr. Speaker. There is always a danger in naming names, since some may be left out; however, I owe special thanks to Merlyn and Joyce Williams. I've known them for more than 20 years and I value their friendship, encouragement and support. My main thanks, however, Mr. Speaker, go to the constituents of Yellowknife Centre who have elected me for two terms. I've tried my best to represent them and their interests in this Assembly. I've tried several, innovative ways of sampling public opinion on a number of issues. I've made many friends I would not have made if I had simply taken a nine-to-five job.
It's been an incredible experience and I've learned a lot from my colleagues in this place. In fact, we have all grown together. If there is anything I have dedicated my life to, it is being with people, to grow together, and realize the full potential that every human being has. I know that this short reply, Mr. Speaker, will sound like I'm saying a fond farewell to all of those who have touched my life over the past seven and a half years. All I have to say is this, Mr. Speaker; when the 13th Assembly meets -- and I don't think it will be an unlucky Assembly, Mr. Speaker, but there is something ominous about being a Member of the 13th Assembly -- in this Chamber next November, I shall either be sitting in one of these few seats in this Chamber at the ground level or one of those many seats in the gallery, ready to face another northern winter and this government.
To all Members, I would like to thank you for enriching my life, simply by knowing you. I would like to wish everyone seeking re-election best wishes on October 16th. Like my colleague, Mr. Pudluk, I would like to express my appreciation of the skills of Mr. Hamilton. He seems to be able to handle dozens of unrelated items simultaneously, the sign of a very able person. If, in my future life I were looking for somebody who I could afford to pay, he would be somebody I would certainly hire.
In closing, Mr. Speaker, I would like my constituents to note that I have fought for the issues I've promised to fight for in this Assembly. The first is responsible and accountable government. The struggle for responsible government in the Northwest Territories goes back to 1870. We've come a long way but there's a long way to go.
The other issue has been economic development and the lessening of dependency on government. On the surface, these seem like contradictory ideas but they are complementary. People should have the kind of government they want but have to recognize that since it is theirs, they have to pay for it. As we all know, Mr. Speaker, affordability is the key to understanding the economics of modern government. Even to keep the level of programs we already have, we have to create more wealth. I've preached this sermon over and over again in this Assembly. Hopefully, the message won't be lost and it will continue to be repeated in future Assemblies.
In order to give Members an insight into the kind of person I am, I'm satisfied with the period of time that I've served in this Assembly doing what I could do and fitting into the gaps that needed to be fitted. I've found that throughout my life, Mr. Speaker, I tend to fight when I see a fight that needs to be fought, and I'm prepared to retreat when I figure it would be to the benefit of all the people. Retreat may be the name of the
game for some of us in the future, but that is an option that we all have to leave until another time. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Item 9: Replies To Opening Address June 15th, 1995
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. At the Ordinary Members' Caucus meeting this morning, Mr. Ningark, my colleague, asked me if I would be replying today. I said it would depend on how I felt this afternoon. Well, I don't feel that great, Mr. Speaker, I've had several late nights this week but I'm conscious that we are running out of time and we have very important business to deal with.
So to save time, Mr. Speaker, and to be as brief as I can be, I've taken the precaution of making a few notes. The danger of that though, Mr. Speaker is, like my colleague, Mr. Patterson, I may stumble around this short speech since I have great difficulty reading my own handwriting sometimes.
I know some people can relate to that. However, it is a discipline. Because, if I didn't have something written down, we could be here for a long, long time and I know nobody will appreciate that.
Mr. Speaker, depending on who is speaking and making a reply to the Commissioner's address, it can be a bit like driving the Mackenzie Highway: there seems to be no end to it. I know, though, that since Mr. Todd has become the Minister of Transportation, he's doing everything he can to eliminate that perception and making it into a smooth, pleasant drive so you don't think of it as a long, tedious journey.
I spoke to him a few minutes ago, Mr. Speaker, and I told him that I would find some way of working his name into my speech, and I've just done it.
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