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 O7-12(2): Abstinence Policy For Alcohol And Drug Workers February 13th, 1992
Since this whole business of requiring people in this social field to be good role models for people that have problems, I would like to ask the Minister how we will police this so that we will know there are no secret drinkers or no people who engage in secret activity. What kind of policing takes place so we are sure the people who are required to obey the sobriety clause in fact remain sober?
Question O7-12(2): Abstinence Policy For Alcohol And Drug Workers February 13th, 1992
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is to the Minister of Health and Social Services. A controversial issue that has arisen lately has been the requirement that counsellors in the drug and alcohol program abstain from alcohol. I would like to ask the Minister whether this should also be extended to include gambling and smoking, because they are both forms of addiction which everybody in the NWT is familiar with, and it would be a bad role model if people engaged in that activity also smoke and gamble.
Overcrowding In Yellowknife High Schools February 13th, 1992
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will be brief. I am very concerned about the overcrowding in the two Yellowknife high schools. I would like to point out that we would like to have the same rules applied to the accommodation of students in this city as is applied throughout the Northwest Territories.
St. Patrick High School was built in the mid-1950s. It is still standing and being used practically every day of the week. Sir John Franklin High School was built in 1958. Mr. Whitford, in fact, was one of the early students there. We have had many, many distinguished graduates come out of both of these high schools. I would like the government to take notice that not only do we have two high schools which are probably the oldest high schools in the Northwest Territories and badly in need of repair and upgrading, but also they are overcrowded. There is a problem of space which has to be addressed on an emergency basis. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Chairman, there is always a dilemma when you are faced with a motion like this because everyone recognizes this is a major problem for us and it seems to be problem that gets bigger and bigger all the time. When I decided to run again in this last election, I put together a pamphlet which had the things in it which I thought were important and that we should get on with. One of the items I put in there was a complete review of our social system, an examination of social issues. Once you get elected on a basis of a platform of what you believe in, you cannot just conveniently throw it aside and say, "Well that got me elected, it does not matter now." That is not the way you can behave in public life. So although I recognize that we do have financial problems and although we do have a new cabinet and a new government, I have to keep my word, that if you say that is what you are going to do, then you have to proceed with it.
However, what I would like to also recall to Members is that when we were in this chamber discussing who should be in the cabinet and so on, I did make the comment that recognizing that we had a very serious financial climate in which we were operating. Since we had three major studies, if you like, one on education, one on housing and one on the economy, then perhaps if we do something on social issues we could perhaps deal with it in a different way to what we have done in the past. Not simply to say it is less than an important issue but we should do something about it and should examine it and maybe we can do it in a way that is different to what we have done before and perhaps also, Mr. Chairman, we can do it, you know, on a different scale. In other words, you have got to be able to do the work that you are charged with, within your means and perhaps we can look at just a new way of looking at social issues, and the terms of reference, in fact, provides us with a tremendous amount of flexibility as to how we go about it.
But I certainly do not believe in supporting this motion than committing myself to a road show, where we go to every single place and we really, really put on a cadillac performance. I think that we can do a very good job on the basis of knowledge that we got and try to get a think tank, if you like, together to see if we cannot come up with something that gives us some direction.
I am also encouraged by the fact that one of the things that did come out of the last committee that we put together, which was the one on the economy, is very much reflected in the Beatty report. I was impressed by the fact that many of the things that we looked at in giving people more control over the things that mattered to them, in looking at structural problems, looking at things like dependency, just taking a different vision, if you like as to how we should advance our economy, that we should not be just simply going over the same round you know, with the same kind of tools.
So this may give us an opportunity to examine social and health issues but just maybe do it in a different way to what we have done before. But I am committed to deal with it and I support the motion, when that motion in fact is in front of us to vote on it. I am not sure what that procedure will be. Thank you.
Good Government Is Not Always Cheap
Item 19: Third Reading Of Bills December 17th, 1991
Mr. Speaker, I was in the process of responding to a request from a local newspaper to give my predictions for 1992 and although I take my work seriously, from time to time I do try to produce something which is of a light-hearted nature. I will explain exactly what the comment was that Mr. Nerysoo overheard while I was writing my predictions for 1992.
I did not use those words, Mr. Speaker, and in fact the reporter from the News North has the sheet of paper I put my predictions down on. What I said was, my prediction was, that in 1992 the restaurant which we call Aurorales will see a controversy at which native North American Indians will be involved, plus the Greenpeace group. That was my prediction. And what I said was that perhaps there would be a rampage through that restaurant as native North Americans will protest the fact that we are, in fact, trying to dignify this Seville exposition in a way that native North Americans would not approve of. It was that which Mr. Nerysoo had overhead. And if he had heard the whole thing, he would have approved my statement, because I know his feelings on that issue.
So if I created any kind of offence, I apologize, but what I was doing was echoing my colleague's sentiments about Seville and Expo, as I have heard them given to me in the past. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Item 19: Third Reading Of Bills December 17th, 1991
If I may speak to the point of privilege, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Lewis's Reply December 17th, 1991
Mr. Speaker, since I was first elected in 1987 I have always used every opportunity to represent the people that elected me, and I will do so briefly today, bearing in mind that we would like to get finished sometime tomorrow. Mr. Speaker, first of all I would like to thank the people of Yellowknife Centre for sending me back to public life, where I have spent most of my time in the Territories; in fact, the vast bulk of my life has been devoted to public service, and I would like to thank them for returning me to continue the work that I began in 1987. I would like to particularly thank my wife and family, who worked very, very hard.
I would also like to point out that in this instance the electorate had a tremendous variety of choices, and I feel honoured that among the choices they had, they decided to give me another crack at this kind of work.
City Of Yellowknife Revenue
The two issues that I wanted to raise today, Mr. Speaker, relate in a sense to public service and the problems that people have in coping with the modern world, and I will be very brief. I would like to point out that because of the tremendous demands made on government, the City of Yellowknife now finds itself in a position where it is no longer able to provide the kinds of transfers that enables the City to survive without trying to find some extra ways of raising revenue within the city. I have learned within the last two months that, for example, the churches within the city, who were previously told that as long as they notified the proper values, and so on, that this amount would be written off. For example, if the Anglican Church was rated at $12,000 for property taxes, that would be written off. I am told that all those non-profit agencies within the city can expect next year to have only 25 per cent of that amount written off. This would place a very powerful burden on such institutions as the Salvation Army, Mr. Speaker. They have a 35 year mortgage on the pink palace that is halfway down the hill here, that provides a very valued service within this community. If you have to pay off a mortgage of about $90,000 a year and you are now told that in addition to that kind of burden you can no longer expect to have the relief on your property taxes that you got in the past, then that means that that institution has very severe financial problems that it is going to have to cope with over the next few years, and no amount of belt-tightening is going to allow that institution to survive unless we realistically look at the impact that these various cuts are going to have on community services.
Property Tax For Disabled
The second issue I would like to raise, Mr. Speaker, relates to the Senior Citizens and Disabled Persons Property Tax Relief Act which we passed a year ago, with the good intention of allowing people who have disabilities to have some form of relief from paying property taxes, simply because they were disabled people who did not work, and so on.
When we look at that particular act, what we did was to include all kinds of other categories, not only the permanently disabled, but those people who have been injured in the workplace or have been off work for a month, or whatever. We wanted to be fair and look at all the possibilities. But what has happened, Mr. Speaker, is in the case of the City of Yellowknife, instead of just simply saying that this is a reasonable piece of legislation, it allows us to give relief to these people that really should get relief, but we cannot afford it -- if we look at all the people that potentially will be disabled to some degree and we decide to relieve those people of paying taxes, we really cannot afford to run this City. We are afraid of the burden that this would place on us.
So I am urging the government to look at that piece of legislation, to narrow it a little, so that those people who really need to get tax relief get it and the City cannot use the argument that the large numbers who are only partially disabled, or disabled for a small period of time, would cause them real difficulty.
Those were the two main issues I wanted to raise today, Mr. Speaker. I noted that on our calendar provided by Scotiabank, there are all kinds of wonderful little comments at the top of them. For example, "No problem can stand the assault of sustained thinking." If I had about four or five hours, I could go through many of these things and relate them to performance of the government and some of the things that they should be thinking of as they take on their responsibilities and get to learn them and to sustain them for the next four years.
I am committed to our new Government Leader to make sure that she survives the four years. We made that choice; we will make sure it works as best as we can. I wish everybody all the best. I would like to thank everybody for listening to me for the shortest address I have made to this House.
Going Home For Christmas December 17th, 1991
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have the pleasure of living very close to this building where we work when the Legislature is sitting and having listened to Mr. Allooloo and the word "home" and "homeland", it made me think that probably this Legislature has never sat this close to Christmas before. So I would like to wish all Members God speed in their journeys back home, where they will join their families, because this time of the year the word "home" and "homeland" and "family", means so much to everybody.
So I would like to ask all Members, in the spirit of the season and the spirit of co-operation, to try to get the work of this Legislature done in a responsible manner and in a co-operative fashion so that we can all finish tomorrow, so that people can get home for Christmas.
Bill 1: Supplementary Appropriation Act, No. 2, 1991-92 December 16th, 1991
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. What this motion does is to really destroy the capacity of this government to do things properly. I was very disappointed when I found that the museum had to get a bunch of trailers to protect a whole bunch of material they had no room for. I was particularly disappointed because I was on the original committee that was set up when the planning was being done for that museum. The feeling always was that if we do it, we are going to do it properly. We are going to do it right. So it is a disappointment to me to find out that we have Members that really want to continue with the use of trailers.
I had occasion today to support a motion to take kids out of a trailer in Kakisa because it was not right. It was not done properly. I would hate to think that we continue to do things which are ad hoc, messy and not really done according to the standards that we have established for our building program. I think this is the wrong way of going about solving a completely different problem, Mr. Chairman. I think we should take a different approach to it than simply cutting here and there.
Item 17: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters December 16th, 1991
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I think that is a noble gesture always, you know, when you say, "Look, we are going to lead by example" and that is the way it should be done. But what the government did when it tabled all these proposed cuts, was to omit, omit to indicate how much money was being saved. That was left to somebody else, I believe, to figure out exactly what the savings would be. I would be very interested to know exactly how much money is going to be saved as a result of passing this motion. Because if it is the intent of the motion to show, by example, how much money this group of people here is prepared to contribute, you know, to the deficit, then I think that it would help the public to understand how much we are hurting ourselves, how much injury, if you like, is being done to each individual Member by this huge contribution we are making toward reducing the deficit. I would like to have that kind of figure. I mean, we would have got that if it was down to the standing committee on finance. That kind of information would have been revealed, if it had gone to that appropriate committee, because it is not just a matter of spending more money, that is not the issue, it is a financial issue and it would be very, very good if we were, not only prepared to indicate how much more money we want to spend, but also how much less money we are prepared to spend, and the public should know that. It has a right to know it, and it would only happen if this bill went to the standing committee on finance. You got the analysis to look at, figure out exactly how much it is going to be worth and it would be a great contribution, I think, to the public knowledge of how committed this government is towards restraint. Thank you.
Help us improve OpenNWT
Please only include contact information if you would like to hear back.