Last in the Legislative Assembly September 1995, as MLA for Iqaluit
Won his last election, in 1991, with 60% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Item 9: Replies To Opening Address June 16th, 1995
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate the opportunity to make what will be my last reply to the Commissioner's address in this Assembly, since it is well-known that I am not going to be running for office again this fall.
So today, if you will permit me, Mr. Speaker, I would like to be a little nostalgic and reflect on the past 16 years, which have been so memorable.
I want to say that although there have been ups and downs on occasion, it's been an enormous privilege to have been a Member of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories. I have learned a tremendous amount. I have met some wonderful people, most notably esteemed colleagues in the Legislature, over the years, and I've also had an opportunity to see the beauties and wonders of all parts of the Northwest Territories, both in communities and on the land.
I have also been very privileged to represent the Northwest Territories at various events in the country, in the circumpolar world and even internationally. I think one of the best trips that I ever had was when I had the honour of being part of the Canadian delegation to the UN conference marking the 10th decade on the status of women in Nairobi, Kenya. It's interesting that our government will again be represented when that conference reconvenes in Beijing, China, this fall. It was also a great privilege for me to represent the Legislature at the Commonwealth Parliamentary conference in Cyprus. I've been to Siberia, Greenland, Scandinavian countries, Alaska and at the North Pole.
So, Mr. Speaker, I do want to express my gratitude for the privilege given to me of being able to serve in this Assembly.
Looking back on the past 16 years, I reflect that, really, politics is a transitory life. One can never know how long one is privileged to be in office. This comes home to me when I realize there are only three of us left from the class of '79: the Honourable Nellie Cournoyea, the Honourable Richard Nerysoo and of course, Mr. Ludy Pudluk, but he was already a veteran of the eighth Assembly by that time. There are really only three of us who are still here from the 9th Assembly in 1979, when I was first elected.
Maybe it was because there was such a sense of newness and freshness in the 9th Assembly, but, to me, it was the best time for me in this Assembly. We had a real feeling in that 9th Assembly, which was the first one to have an aboriginal majority and the first one after the seats were expanded. We had a real sense that we were new brooms sweeping clean. I'll never forget the late Don Stewart telling us at our first Caucus meeting, "I don't mind new brooms sweeping clean," he said, "but do you..." unparliamentary language "...have to go riding around on them too." God bless the late Don Stewart.
Mr. Speaker, people like Tagak Curley, Nick Sibbeston and James Wah-Shee, along with Nellie and Richard brought to that Assembly good connections and experience with aboriginal organizations; as did you, Mr. Speaker, when you were elected in the next Assembly. William Noah was a statesman and a gentleman; George Braden, Bob MacQuarrie and, later, Gordon Wray and Red Pedersen, were non-native Members but they were very open to and sympathetic to the concerns brought forward by aboriginal people and their organizations.
Arnold McCallum, Tom Butters, Don Stewart, Pete Fraser, Ludy Pudluk and Mark Evaloarjuk provided, I won't call it sober second-thought, but they provided the wisdom of experience and history to slow newcomers down now and then.
Later, it was Joe Arlookoo and Ipeelee Kilabuk who provided that foundation of wisdom and common sense.
What I remember best about the 9th Assembly was we formed the first Nunavut Caucus, and it remained strong and a source of support and strength to us to this day. The 9th Assembly was also when we took the first steps towards division of the Northwest Territories through, ironically, the Special Committee on Unity, which gave support in principle to the division of the Northwest Territories, subject to a plebiscite. It's recommendations led to the first territorial-wide plebiscite on April 14, 1982 where a majority of three-year residents of the NWT, propelled by enormous turn-outs and, yes, margins in the Nunavut regions, especially the eastern regions, voted yes.
We weren't really confident that Nunavut would actually happen back then, but in hindsight, I now see that the 1982 plebiscite was a pivotal historical event.
We certainly wouldn't have done so well in the west with the support that we did get from a somewhat sometimes reluctant or fearful electorate, without the leadership of people like Georges Erasmus and Mike Ballantyne who were then representatives of Yellowknife -- Mr. Ballantyne was the mayor and Georges Erasmus was then president of the Dene Nation -- who came out publicly supporting division, even though there were numerous reservations expressed in the west at that time, and it may not have been the most popular thing to say.
I have to thank the western MLAs of the day and the Executive Council of the day, who did not oppose our request to have a plebiscite but rather said, it's okay, but let us and our constituents vote, too, since we will be affected, as well.
So that's the way it started out, Mr. Speaker, and that is the way it is continued today. We still recognize and structure ourselves, as reflected in bodies like the Special Joint Committee on Division, with representatives from both the east and the west recognizing that the creation of Nunavut will create another new territory in the west, as well.
The 9th Assembly was also important to me because that was the first Assembly to create a special committee, in the grand sense, which travelled and held public hearings throughout the Northwest Territories. That was the Special Committee on Education of which I was privileged to be a Member, and I think that experience may have had something to do with me later becoming Minister of Education. I worked with my colleague, Mr. Lewis, at that time, who was my deputy minister. Those were very exciting interesting times.
It was on that committee, Mr. Speaker, that I first got to know David Hamilton, the consummate fixer, the quintessential organizer, the glue who made everything work. David is the Clerk of the Assembly. He was Deputy Clerk then, but he was first and foremost a friend to every Member and my friend, and I love him most for that.
That committee had an impact, I know, leading to the establishment of divisional boards of education, the first steps to really move power and resources from headquarters to the communities, and I believe now we are taking the next step with the new Education Act now before this 12th Assembly. Mr. Nerysoo has done a good job with that act, and I think, when it's passed and concluded, it will be a major legacy of this Assembly and a credit to Mr. Nerysoo.
The special committee also really led to the establishment of the Arctic College which has and will be an important institution for people in the north to get much-needed training close to home.
I don't want to speak of the 9th Assembly without forgetting to mention the dynamic chair of the Standing Committee on Finance, Lynda Sorensen, who made that committee into the powerful and influential committee SCOF has become today, and who pressed hard to have the Finance portfolio wrested away from the Commissioner and given to an elected Member. Unfortunately, it didn't work out quite the way Lynda had planned it when Tom Butters and not Lynda Sorensen was named the first elected Minister of Finance, but subsequent chairs of SCOF have gone on to become Cabinet Ministers and even Finance Ministers, and I think Mr. Pollard has done a very excellent job in that very difficult responsibility.
For me, the 9th Assembly -- and I don't want to dwell too much on the past, Mr. Speaker -- was significant for me because I was privileged, although initially reluctant, to be elected to Cabinet in 1981 and began what was to be a seven-year, very rewarding term as Minister of Education.
In the 9th Assembly, we also started to emerge on the national stage, taking the bold step of travelling en masse in a chartered NWT Air Electra to Ottawa, in spite of the valiant efforts of the then Indian Affairs Minister, John Munro, to prevent us from coming and in spite of his very strong direction to the Commissioner of the day not to let us go. But we went because we wanted to protest changes to the Constitution of Canada, which would have snuffed out the recognition of aboriginal rights and seriously prejudiced our ability to eventually become provinces in the north.
We worked together then in the very best spirit of consensus government and we succeeded on that trip in having been very influential in changes which were made to the constitutional package and in the restoration of aboriginal rights, albeit existing aboriginal rights. I would like to pay tribute to the current Prime Minister, Jean Chretien, who was then Minister of Indian Affairs; our then MP, Peter Ittinuar, and our then Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau, among others, for having been influential and for having listened and met with us, and for having agreed to these significant changes.
I say we put the NWT Assembly and the NWT on the national map as never before with that mission to Ottawa. In my view, Mr. Speaker, in my time, that was undoubtedly the finest hour of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories. We were led by co-chairmen of committee of the whole, of that special committee of all the Caucus that was formed at that time, George Braden and Nellie Cournoyea. I feel very privileged to have been part of that, Mr. Speaker.
I don't want to give short shrift to subsequent assemblies; to the 10th and 11th assemblies. However, the highlights for me were in that 10th Assembly, under the leadership of both Richard Nerysoo and Nick Sibbeston, we began to take the final dramatic steps to give full authority to elected MLAs, in place of federally-appointed Commissioners, Deputy Commissioners and Assistant Commissioners. While our neighbour territory, Yukon, with the added complications of party politics, was struggling with confrontations with the Commissioners of the day, we were accomplishing the evolutionary step of eliminating the role of the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner as members of the Executive Council, with the full cooperation of John Parker and Bob Pilot. Those public servants had the vision and the long view to understand the importance of evolving to elected and responsible government. They never stood in the way of progress, even though I know this meant, at times, defying Ottawa. I know particularly that the appointment of Mr. Butters, as the first elected Minister of Finance, the surrender of Mr. Parker's responsibilities for Finance, which he held at that time, was done boldly by Mr. Parker against the clear wishes, if not direction, of the Minister of Indian Affairs of the day. That is the kind of courage and support we had from Commissioner John Parker. I have a great deal of respect for him for the support he gave to active Members and the evolution of responsible government in the Northwest Territories.
It was a real thrill, Mr. Speaker, to have been a Member of the Cabinet when the Honourable Nick Sibbeston took over the chairmanship of the Executive Council. How appropriate it was that Nick Sibbeston was the one to do it because, as we all know, Nick was a champion of change and a fighter against colonialism. John Parker not only willingly surrendered the chairmanship of the Executive Council, but he gave us his then very prestigious corner office on the sixth floor of the Laing Building, which we promptly turned into a Cabinet room. To make it clear that the elected Members were taking over, Mr. Parker moved the Commissioner's office to the top floor of the Courthouse Building where it is today; to emphasize the non-involvement with the political process of the Commissioner.
The 11th Assembly for me, Mr. Speaker, was marked by the Meech Lake struggle. I was privileged then to have been elected to be Government Leader and with the full backing of the Assembly, and the very able, strategic and political advice of the Minister of Justice, Honourable Michael Ballantyne, we entered into a very dramatic and dynamic national debate. We joined the fray, having been forgotten and overlooked. At the end of the day, even though the Meech Lake Accord ended up being aborted, our concerns had been put up front on the agenda and were reflected in the amended Meech Lake Accord and we were at the table as equals. Having been part of that historic process, even though in the end it did not achieve the hoped-for results, was a rare privilege. I have worked with many fine public servants over the years, and I don't want to particularly single any one out, but I will. I want to make special mention of George Braden, Geoff Bickert and Bernie Funston for the work they did on the Meech Lake accord.
I also want to say that I feel great satisfaction, having had something to do with the appointment of Joe Handley and Bob Overvold to this government. Mr. Speaker, the staff who worked with us on the Meech Lake process did a very superb job of providing excellent legal advice and, most important, gaining respect amongst the network of civil servants and intergovernmental affairs officials who were so influential in shaping the course of these events. I want to say that we also got a tremendous amount of support from various Premiers of the day: Richard Hatfield; Frank McKenna; Gary Filmon, in particular stand out as having been extremely sympathetic and helpful to the Northwest Territories, along with Joe Ghiz.
At the same time, Mr. Speaker, I also believe we did important work in making the NWT known in the circumpolar world. We developed good connections with the Greenland Home Rule Government and signed important agreements of cooperation, which I know will be especially important as we get closer to Nunavut. We also expanded contacts with the Soviet north and laid the foundation for some very concrete benefits which have subsequently flowed to the benefit of northern construction firms, in particular. Again, I would like to take the risk of singling out Larry Elkin and for laying the foundation way back when, Stu Hodgson, for having the vision to see the importance of this kind of circumpolar cooperation. Jim Bourque, Joe Handley and Walter Slipchenko also did very critical work in promoting circumpolar relations, while at the same time, discharging their responsibilities for their important departments at home. Walter Slipchenko was our first circumpolar advisor and his knowledge and good contacts in Greenland and the Soviet Union were absolutely critical to the good circumpolar relations we developed.
Mr. Speaker, in this maudlin trip through the past, I cannot neglect to mention some of the people we have associated with in the federal government over the years. There have been many, many Ministers of Indian and Northern Affairs, some of whom I have forgotten quickly in my term as MLA over 16 years. Only a few, in my view, were notable or memorable. I would like to mention some of those people. For their idealism and sympathy with the long-standing concern of northern people about the paternalistic, centralist, colonialist approach that we so abhor in that department, I would like to single out Warren Allmand and David Crombie for understanding that. I don't know that they were able to do a lot about it, but they understood it. They communicated that and tried to do something about it. I think the Indian Affairs bureaucracy won the struggle with those two Minister, however, and perhaps they are still winning it today, I don't know.
For taking the job very seriously and getting to know us all very well, even though I often disagreed with him: the Honourable John Munro; also for his tenure as Minister and the energy he put into it. I remember violently disagreeing with Mr. Munro about the arbitrary imposition of official language status on the Northwest Territories, which his government intended to do. I remember telling him at a private meeting, in my sometimes hyperbolic fashion, that if the federal government moved arbitrarily to impose official bilingualism on the Northwest Territories, it would provoke armed rebellion and riots in the communities if it happened. I remember Mr. Monro's response: "We have more tanks than you, Dennis," he said. Fortunately, Mr. Speaker, and I'll give Mr. Munro some credit, we worked the problem out without confrontation, as we always do in the north.
I would like to specifically give credit to the tremendous role that the Honourable Richard Nerysoo played at that time, as elected leader, in negotiating the then princely sum of $16 million for aboriginal languages funding. I also want to commend Mr. Allooloo who later had that responsibility and also negotiated a very good agreement with his counterpart, the then Honourable Robert DeCotret, for official languages. Now, unfortunately, that funding has seriously deteriorated since then and I believe the good faith with which we accepted the federal initiative to create official bilingualism in the Northwest Territories has been broken. The trust has been breached, but that is another story, Mr. Speaker, that I don't wish to dwell on now.
I just would like to mention a couple of other Indian Affairs Ministers. To my mind, one of the very best was Bill McKnight. Bill McKnight, for basically telling it like it was, for being direct with us, and for being a straight shooter. I think Bill McKnight never pretended to abandon his roots, which he used to call a prairie dirt farmer, and I think it was really appreciated by the people of the north that he would tell it straight.
I also want to mention Pierre Cadieux because, although he had a short tenure, Pierre Cadieux, with a lot of shrewd negotiation and, perhaps, some wining and dining on the part of our then Minister of Finance, Mr. Ballantyne, did give us what now appears, in retrospect, to have been quite a fair fiscal formula. I just wish Mr. Pollard every success in coming close to achieving that level of support on an ongoing basis for the Northwest Territories. I think it's going to be a great struggle to do that. And I now recognize that he's not dealing with the Minister of Indian Affairs.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, I want to commend Tom Siddon for the energy he put into an attempt to settle two comprehensive claims in the Northwest Territories. Unfortunately, it didn't work out with the Dene/Metis, but I think Mr. Siddon was personally committed to trying to make it happen. Fortunately, it did work out for the Inuit, and I want to commend Mr. Siddon for his personal commitment to Nunavut.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, I know that Brian Mulroney and his party were firmly rejected by the people of the Canada in the last election and I know Mr. Mulroney has been a controversial figure in many quarters, but I want to say that, while I was the head of the Government of the Northwest Territories, I was treated not just with the utmost courtesy and respect by Mr. Mulroney, but he extended his friendship to me, for which I'm very grateful. I do value the working relationship and the personal relationship that we had and have, and I want to remind those who would criticize him that Mr. Mulroney did go out of his way in the last months of his government to lay the foundation for the settlement of the Inuit claim and the establishment of Nunavut which, surely, will be one of the major historical events, not just for the north, but for the country. I want to express my gratitude to him for that.
Mr. Speaker, while we were struggling to make the concerns of the Northwest Territories known nationally, we also did have important work to do at home as well. I think we also had a little bit more money to make it a little easier to do the job up here in the Northwest Territories in the 11th Assembly. I'd like to acknowledge that, and thank the other Cabinet Members with whom I served in the 11th Assembly: Stephen Kakfwi, Gordon Wray, Jeannie Marie-Jewell, Nellie Cournoyea, Titus Allooloo, Nick Sibbeston -- only for awhile -- and Tom Butters. I think, looking at the turnover in the Cabinet of the 12th Assembly, we should be grateful and perhaps surprised that we had such continuity and stability in our Cabinet. I think it's a reflection of the fact that, though we did have serious disagreements, we were able to work together and exist as a team. That's to everyone's credit.
I think there was a lot of good work done; important work done on the northern accord and I really hope it can come to a satisfactory conclusion in this Assembly. I wish Mr. Todd very well. If anyone's going to pull it off, he will. There were the devolutions of health and the Northern Canada Power Commission, progress made by Jeannie Marie-Jewell on social issues, transportation and economic strategies developed by Mr. Wray, and land claims.
I would like to specifically acknowledge and thank Mr. Kakfwi for his vision over the years, dating from his time as president of the Dene Nation and, later, as a territorial Cabinet Minister in various portfolios. I know Steve gets his bad raps in the west, and I'm not really qualified to make judgements about how he does his work in the western territory, but I want to commend him for his constant support for the Inuit land claim and the companion vision of the people of Nunavut for their form of self-government in the new Nunavut territory. I want to acknowledge his key role and that of John Amagoalik in signing the Iqaluit agreement in early 1987. I think, again in retrospect, although things haven't worked out in the west the way we then hoped they might, this was another important, pivotal moment in the evolution of the Northwest Territories. This agreement should be seen as a breakthrough, that was very instrumental in allowing us to move ahead to Nunavut.
It is unfortunate, in my view, that progress has not been as quick in resolving and settling the aboriginal rights of the First Nations of the western territory, but I believe, nonetheless, that quite a lot of progress has been made. I believe that the Gwich'in and the Sahtu people, with the Dogrib moving forward as well now, will show the way, hopefully, for the rest of the western Northwest Territories. Perhaps not with the same model, but to inspire them to reach consensus, agreement and even compromise, to settle the issues and get on with more governing for themselves in their regions, just as I hope that Nunavut will provide some inspiration and support for the achievement of self-government aspirations overall in the more complex environment in the west in the years to come.
I am not going to say a lot about the 12th Assembly, Mr. Speaker, but I will say that I believe the difficult experience that I have had, and I think that we have all had, in the 12th Assembly will tell us, as we move ahead in the next four years and deal with the very difficult issues of political development in the western territory, division and the division of assets and liabilities, that this will be the greatest challenge and the greatest test of consensus government ever.
The challenge will be to deal with these issues in a way which allows northern people and not the federal government to make the toughest, crucial decisions themselves, to our mutual benefit in east and west. I guess if I was going to risk giving some advice, as Mr. Pudluk much more capably did the other day, the advice I would give to those in the next Assembly is never to lose sight of the fact that the reasons to work together far outweigh the reasons to confront one another.
Outside forces are far greater than any of the forces of difference and division within the north. I think we got this far by working together, and I would hope that we won't ever let go of that ultimate spirit of goodwill and mutual interest, because if we fail in future to cooperate together in dealing with even the most difficult issues -- such as financing or such as transition arrangements for division -- which will face the Northwest Territories in the next Assembly, we may well find ourselves playing into the hands of forces far greater than those which would divide us. I don't envy the next MLAs, in a sense, because I think with severe financial restraint almost a certainty, this will require exceptional leadership and goodwill.
I personally believe that the next Assembly should give serious consideration to giving the Premier more powers, as recommended in the bill that was taken to second reading but I certainly don't think will pass in this Assembly.
I want to restate to those of you who are fortunate enough to return that I think you would be very well advised to take what I understand to be Mr. Pudluk's advice earlier this session; to seek common ground, to seek truth and to avoid personal differences.
Mr. Speaker, I am getting near the end of my remarks. I want to turn to my riding and the good experience in the 12th Assembly working as an ordinary MLA, the privilege I've had working with many of you on committees -- the Standing Committee on Finance, the Special Committee on Health and Social Services -- working with several Speakers on the Management and Services Board, but mostly as the MLA for Iqaluit. It's been a very good chance to become reacquainted with my constituents after having spent maybe too many years in Cabinet, becoming obsessed with Executive responsibilities and travel, perhaps at the expense of my constituents and their interests.
I have been somewhat outspoken at times in the last four years. I guess I want to try to make some amends and apologize to those about whom I have perhaps made the occasional extreme statements. I just want to mention a few things I would like to clear up on the record before I quietly retire from politics, Mr. Speaker.
One of them is that apparently, and I haven't checked the exact quotation here, I made some disparaging remarks about the southern origin of employees in the Priorities and Planning Secretariat, when it did exist. Those were ill-considered remarks and I regret any offence I might have given to people who worked in that secretariat at that time, perhaps particularly to single out Jim Sellers and Debbie DeLancey, with whom I worked closely when I was Government Leader and for whom I have the greatest of respect for their analytical abilities and their commitment to their jobs and the excellent experience and knowledge that they brought to those jobs.
I also want to say a word about the Nova Construction issue and my colleague's constituent, Mr. Mrdjenovich, but first perhaps, to say to my constituents, long-time constituent and active business constituents, Tom Webster and Jacques Belleau, I didn't really intend you to be ensnarled in some of the issues that came up in connection with Nova, and I want to say that you've made an enormous contribution to my constituency, to creating local jobs and wealth in the region and in the community, and I want to thank you for that and make it clear that I am grateful for what you've done.
But perhaps I want to say to Mr. Mrdjenovich, whose name I have perhaps used over-extensively in this Assembly, this much. I certainly could have picked a more flagrant example of abuse of the business incentive policy than this company. I was really looking for some way of illustrating my concerns about the policy and revisions to the policy, and perhaps I overdid it in picking on this company, for which I apologize to him and his company.
Thank you. One other thing I would like to just mention, Mr. Speaker, and these are kinds of loose ends I would like to tie up or purge myself of before I leave the Assembly. There was a point in this Assembly when I was Minister of Health and there were serious questions raised about the qualifications of the head of the disciplinary committee under the Medical Professions Act, Dr. Earle Covert, and I was quite distressed when it was suggested that he was not capable because there was an outstanding medical malpractice suit against Dr. Covert at that time. I have the highest regard for Dr. Covert and the contribution he has made to the north and his willingness to take on that very difficult job. I said at the time that it's not uncommon for active physicians to face lawsuits or threatened lawsuits from patients. This is a hazard of having a busy practice. I just want to say -- and I am certainly not doing this on behalf of Dr. Covert -- he's a very humble, modest man who is quite content to let the matter reside, but I just want to mention, for the record, Mr. Speaker, that the lawsuit that was cited at the time, as an indication of his unfitness to hold that office, was withdrawn and dismissed on the part of the plaintiffs. I just want to mention that, Mr. Speaker, because it is something that I think needs to be said in this House to close the matter and it can be forgotten. I wish Dr. Covert well. I understand that he is soon looking to retire from active medical practice. I wish him well and thank him for his contribution over the years.
Mr. Speaker, I have received enormous support over the years from the good people of Iqaluit. I wanted to say what a privilege it has been to represent that constituency. I have never found that I have been oppressed by the burden of representing the people of Iqaluit. I have been pressed from time to time by constituents whose expectations -- and we all have them -- of their MLA are impossible. But the preponderance of input I have received from my constituents has been support and good advice. They have tolerated my mistakes, shortcomings, absences -- and I am not going to cite all my mistakes and shortcomings -- and my constituents know them and there have been times acknowledged when I have not reflected the majority of opinion in Iqaluit. I have been told that, but always with respect and even affection. So I want to thank the people in Iqaluit for the constant unflagging support they have given to me and my family over the years. It really has been a privilege and a pleasure to represent them. I can't think of a nicer constituency to represent in this Assembly than Iqaluit. It is a very large riding. It is three or four times the size of some of the ridings in this Assembly, although I do admit there is only one community, which makes it easier, but people are very generous and supportive, at least to me.
I was inspired by Mr. Lewis, who mentioned some of the people who have helped him over the years. I am going to take the liberty, Mr. Speaker, as I wind this address to a close, to mention some of the people who have been very supportive, helpful and have given me very wise advice over the years, with your permission, Mr. Speaker.
I want to mention Eleanor and Andy Theriault, who are soon retiring; Abe Okpik, a former Member of this Assembly; the late Markosie Peter; the late Harry Kilabuk, both of those gentlemen were on the board that I worked for as a lawyer for Maliiganik Tukisiiniakvik when I first came to Frobisher Bay; the late Simonie Alainga; Mike Gardener; Ben Ell; Lucassie Nutaraluk; Josie Papatsie; Geetaloo Kakee; Anawak Arnaquq; David Munick; Alicy and Akeeshoo Joamie; Joe and Martha Tikivik; Simon and Annie Nattaq; Jack Paton; Pauline Paton; Simonie Michael; Gord Rennie; as well as many members of the Francophone association over the years, such as Normand Plante and Daniel Cuerrier come to mind.
I would like to mention some of the younger people who have given me great advice and given some of their enormous energy to me; Anne Crawford and Neil Sharkey; Natsiq and Josh Kanguk; Pitseolak Alainga; Adamie Itorcheak; Lazarus and Eva Arreak; Dave and Mary Wilman; Joe Kunuk; Pitsie Pfeifer; Josh Timottee; Raurri Ellsworth; Sandra Inutik; Sitookie Joamie; Rose Mackmer.
Also, I want to mention a few of the very many Baffin civil servants who have helped me do my job over the years with great support and understanding: Ken MacRury; Mike Ferris; Mathusalah Kunuk; Katherine Trumper and many of her capable staff; Jim Noble; Bert Rose; Brian Menton; Kathy McGregor; and, not just senior managers, but people like Brian Soucy; Clark Wolfe and Hughie MacLellan and Charlie Ruttan, who also gave me great guidance and advice. I have only been able to name a few. I have missed out many, Mr. Speaker, but they know who they are and they will understand.
I want to also thank the people who have given me invaluable help with my election campaigns over the years. Those of us who have been successfully elected know that it is a special animal that helps you win elections. I want to thank Bill Mackenzie, whose pig I talked about earlier in this session, Mr. Speaker. I wanted to mention Bill because he shocked me with his very generous encouragement for me to run in 1979. Terry Pearce, Pat Lewis, Cecil Clarke, Mel Fowler, Gary Watchorn, Al Rigby, Bruce Hulan, Peter Baril, Fred Coman, Al Woodhouse, George D'Aoust, Bronyk Shawinski, John Creighton and Kenn Harper all helped me with my campaigns over the years.
Bryan Pearson has been a political rival in two election campaigns, but I want to thank him for his advice and support to me over the years, his willingness to tap his encyclopedic knowledge of the history of Frobisher Bay whenever I need it, his insightful newspaper columns, letters to the editor and his ever-present indomitable sense of humour. Even though we fought some election campaigns, Bryan knows I value his friendship and advice, and the contribution he made to Frobisher Bay while he was its MLA and mayor, and the contribution he still makes today.
I want to specifically thank Fred Colman and Ben Ell who co-chaired my last campaign. They did a great job. It was a lot of fun and I am very glad I took Fred's advice not to panic during the campaign when there seemed to be a lot of signs from my opponent. As always, Fred told me, you have to peak near the voting day and not before, so stay calm. As always, he was right.
I want to say, Mr. Speaker, that one of the ways I have survived over the years is through the pleasure and challenge of being able to go out hunting. I would just like to mention some of the people who are always willing to go out with me, whatever the weather might be, and impart their skills, mechanical and otherwise, which I sorely lack, to make it possible for me to rejuvenate myself on the land and provide sustenance for my family in the form of good country food. Henry Evaluarjuk was my first great mentor and teacher. Mike Michael was another. Celestino Ullinerk, Kowmageak Mitsima and David Montieth. I would like to specifically mention my friend, David, and his family for welcoming me into their home and making me feel welcome when I was in Iqaluit, especially in recent years.
Mr. Speaker, of course my most important thanks go to my own family. I want to thank my children: Bruce; George; Jessica; and, Alexander, for putting up with all the missed birthdays and school concerns over the years and for Monty Yank, my stepson, for the help he has given to me and us, especially the drives to the airport in recent years.
I want to thank my companion and sometimes very critical supporter, but nonetheless, supporter, over the years, Marie Uviluq.
I think it is ironic and important to note that this day, when I am making my farewell address to this Legislature, this is the day that my wife left to Iqaluit to begin her new career in charge of Baffin Optical in the Baffin region for Nunasi Corporation. So as my political career in this Assembly draws to a close, she is now embarking on a new career and I know that she will make a contribution to Nunavut, both in her work and perhaps in other manners of public service. So, I think it's appropriate that, as I fade away and have a more low profile than I've enjoyed over the last 16 years, that I'm giving way to Marie and giving her my full support to pursue her career and other aspirations. I feel good about that and wish her every success. She will have my support, as she has given it to me over the years.
I want to also thank her many relatives, not only in Igloolik -- particularly Masaki, Elani, Irak -- but also her relatives all over the Northwest Territories. I've run into people I didn't even know were my relatives in Mr. Ningark's riding, and throughout the Keewatin, and they have always never hesitated to inform me, whether I knew it or not, how they're related to me. They've given me greetings and have invited me into their homes. That has meant a lot to me over the years, as well, Mr. Speaker.
I must also mention my own father who lives in Vancouver, Glen Patterson, and my brother, Bruce, and sister, Sheila, and their families for their constant, unflagging support and good advice. Mr. Speaker, only those of us who are in politics know what our families have to put up with. In my case, I think that in retrospect I was at times obsessed with my job and politics over the years. Now, as I embark on a new chapter in my life, I hope to -- as Mr. Lewis eloquently said the other day -- do something to make it up to my family. Even though some of my family are certainly no longer children, I'm looking forward to having the chance to get a little closer to them and to be a little closer to home, and somehow make up for those, what for them must be, lost years.
Mr. Speaker, in closing, I want to wish each and every one of you the very best of success, whether you're going to run again or not, it doesn't matter to me. It's been a pleasure to have known and to have worked with you. I hope that, although I'm going to step out of active politics and take a much-needed and, I hope, well-deserved rest from the very demanding job of being an MLA, I will be able to still retain the friendships and good relations I've enjoyed with all of you in the coming years.
This is my farewell, Mr. Speaker. I'm looking forward to a change, I think I'm ready for a change. They say in politics that one has to know when to step down, and I think my timing is good. In many ways, as I said, I don't envy the next Assembly. They have a lot of problems to face that I don't think we really had to face in the past, in particular financial problems. But I want to wish them every success. I want to just say in closing, ending on kind of a political note, that I believe we have a very precious system here with consensus government. I think it works, in spite of hiccoughs, in spite of stresses and strains.
I think it is the best system to deal with the difficult issues that are facing us as we move towards division in 1999. I'm confident that it will be up to the challenge. It will be a great challenge, it will take greater goodwill and leadership, perhaps, than has ever been required in the past, but I know the NWT Assembly will be up to the job. I wish you every success, those of you who are back in this Assembly after the fall.
So, thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for putting up with this address. I've made longer replies, but this is probably longer than I anticipated today. I meant it to be as brief as Mr. Pudluk's and Mr. Lewis's, but I guess I'm just lingering for a moment longer because it has been such a pleasure to be in this House and to have a platform in this House. I'll miss that, but I'll be following, very actively, what's going on. And I may -- I'm not promising, but I may -- take some of the advice I gave to other great politicians who have retired from this Assembly, particularly Mr. Butters, that they should write about his experiences. That's one of my resolutions, to try to write about the privilege of having been in this Assembly over the historic 16 years. I may try to do that, as a way of keeping involved and keeping in touch.
Of course, I will be only complimentary about all of you in that book, Mr. Speaker.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I wish you every success. Qujannamiik.
Question 635-12(7): Investigation Into Illegal Import Of Tobacco June 16th, 1995
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to ask the Minister, in the spirit of consensus government and promoting good relations between ordinary Members and Cabinet Ministers, if the Minister would kindly agree, in responding to my constituent, not to send excerpts from Hansard where the MLA from Iqaluit made certain strong statements about the need to collect late tobacco taxes from Quebec. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Question 635-12(7): Investigation Into Illegal Import Of Tobacco June 16th, 1995
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I think the Minister knows that my constituent and his wife are very concerned that the government and the Minister now have knowledge of what he and his wife eat, drink and smoke. He says, in his letter to the revenue section, that he feels his rights and freedoms have been infringed, that he hasn't been treated with the respect that any law-abiding citizen of the NWT deserves and that he feels violated.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Minister what he would recommend I should tell my constituent, to make him feel better about having been violated by the Minister and his officials? Thank you.
Question 635-12(7): Investigation Into Illegal Import Of Tobacco June 16th, 1995
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the Minister responsible for the Financial Management Board Secretariat revenue cops section. Mr. Speaker, I think the Minister is aware -- and I wanted to wait until this day to bring this up because it is Friday -- that a constituent of mine is very upset that tobacco police from the FMBS revenue section went to Montreal and obtained food invoices from a Montreal food order supplier and used these invoices to send a staggering $498 bill for taxes on cigarettes they found purchased in Quebec in this food order. My constituent says that this was done without regard for his privacy and was with complete disregard to his integrity and decency. How could this have happened? Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, this is a bit outside of my jurisdiction because we don't have forests in my constituency, or even trees. But, I have heard a lot in this House and in the news lately about forest firefighting and, particularly, about the importance of Bird Dog officers in safely guiding these big water bombers into fires. I heard the Minister in a news report recently suggesting that he plans to go ahead with bombing, even without the Bird Dog officers. So, my question to the Minister for forest fire management is, now that some of the Bird Dog officers have been laid off and the remainder are refusing to report to work, does the Minister have a plan for safely continuing to bomb these fires? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Opposition To Federal Gun Control Legislation June 16th, 1995
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I don't have the usual Friday statement today, unfortunately, but I do want to make a few comments about the activities in the Nunatsiaq riding concerning Bill C-68. The Nunatsiaq Coalition Against Gun Control had a meeting last night, and I was asked to convey to Members of this Assembly the fact that members of the coalition are very impressed with the statements and the work that has been done by this Assembly on this issue. They're pleased that at least one level of government seems to be adequately representing the very strong concerns of constituents of my riding and others in the Nunatsiaq riding.
I would like to also announce that they're still working on the petition that I tabled the other day, collecting more names. There are well over 2,000 names that have now been collected, and it is still growing. The plan is to present this petition to the Senate committee and other persons to make them aware of the strength of feelings and the unanimity of feelings on this very important issue in the Nunatsiaq riding.
I would also like to say, Mr. Speaker, that I'm very grateful to have been given the honour of representing the Caucus, through the Caucus Subcommittee on Bill C-68. We have, as you know, some plans to continue our work in Ottawa next week with aboriginal organizations and Senators in a low-key way, but I think it's very important this work continue. So this will be my last day in the House, perhaps my last day this session, perhaps my last day in this House forever. But more about that when I make my reply to the Commissioner's Address, Mr. Speaker. Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My written question is to the Minister of Economic Development.
Would the Minister responsible for the Department of Economic Development and Tourism please advise this House:
1. Has the department reviewed the impact on parks in Nunavut of the recent regional reorganization of the Department of Canadian Heritage in the NWT?
2. Does the department have concerns about the impact of the reorganization of Canadian Heritage, especially on support for existing and developing parks in Nunavut, and working relations between parks and tourism officials of Economic Development and Tourism and their counterparts in Heritage Canada?
3. What has the Minister done to communicate any concerns about the impacts of the Canadian Heritage regional reorganization to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and senior officials of Canadian Heritage?
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have made the Minister aware of certain cases of this kind in my riding, and I will continue to do so. But my question to the Minister is, since there seems to be a loophole in the present BIP requirements for northern residents, and it seems inappropriate to rely on the health care card and the driver's licence are indicators of permanent residence. I would like to ask the Minister, since we're letting contracts daily and judging them according to BIP preference requirements, when will the new BIP rules be put in place so we can eliminate these loopholes that are being taken advantage of, as we speak? Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I believe that the information provided to the House through my returns to written questions shows a loophole one could drive a truck or fly a water bomber through, and I would like to ask the Minister -- if he'll permit the analogy --
would he agree that it seems unfair that, all other things being equal, a resident of three months in the NWT is given the same status in terms of the northern residency requirement as a comparable business person who has had 30 years' residence? Should that not be fixed up quickly, Mr. Speaker? Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I can see the Minister's strategy is to quickly exhaust my supplementaries, Mr. Speaker. So far, he's won the first round.
I would like to ask the Minister, if you can buy a house -- whether you live in it or not does not matter -- but we rely on the health care card and the driver's licence which require a maximum of three months, is not the effect of these answers to be that northern residency means three month's residency only, minimum. Thank you.
Help us improve OpenNWT
Please only include contact information if you would like to hear back.