Last in the Legislative Assembly March 1999, as MLA for Baffin South

Won his last election, in 1995, with 33% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Tabled Document 26-13(7): Report For The Meeting To Discuss The Future Of Inuit Stone Carving In Nunavut March 29th, 1999

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to table a document, a report from the meeting to discuss the future of Inuit stone carving in Nunavut with its 50 recommendations. Thank you.

Reply 3-13(7): March 29th, 1999

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In two hours' time I will be handing in my keys and the ministerial badge to the Premier, so this is my last opportunity to make a few comments and I appreciate this opportunity to do so. This is a time of reflection of the past three and a half years or so that I have had the privilege of representing the people of Baffin

South and it is also a time to look to the future. Mr. Speaker, I would like to say first of all that I am very grateful for the opportunity to represent Baffin South for this term of the 13th Assembly. I was also fortunate in 1995 to be given Cabinet responsibilities and the added responsibility of representing the NWT through ministerial responsibilities in many important national events and meetings. However, I have never for one moment forgotten that it is the people of Sanikiluaq, Cape Dorset and Kimmirut that put me in this Legislative Assembly. I have always appreciated the strong support and advice I received from my constituents, even though being on Cabinet meant that I did not have as much time as I would have liked to have spent in my constituency. Even so, many things were accomplished in Baffin South in these three years. With the support of my Cabinet colleagues and Members of this Assembly, many significant events and projects were built or committed.

In reviewing new and planned infrastructure in Baffin South, Mr. Speaker, I feel very proud to have been the elected representative where these many important projects were approved or committed. In Cape Dorset we now have a new airport terminal, airport improvements, a new hamlet garage, an addition to the hamlet office, a new learning centre, a new school, roads, lands, tank farm enlargements, as well as important work on the territorial park there. As we speak, also, Mr. Speaker, offices and housing for decentralized jobs and government programs are being built in Cape Dorset. Kimmirut has also acquired a community breakwater, hamlet equipment, tank farm, airport and terminal improvements and a new residential sub-division. A site has been selected and a commitment made to start the building of the new arena. It is an important project on which the community has worked very hard over many years. I am also optimistic that the ground has been prepared for the Government of Nunavut to finally be able to fill the long standing need for a new airstrip in Kimmirut. Mr. Speaker, in Sanikiluaq we were fortunate to acquire a new community hall, new airport terminal, land development and tank farm, hamlet office and health centre improvements.

As Minister of Housing, Mr. Speaker, I was happy to be able to identify more money for housing in the NWT, including the Plan 2000 Initiative. I am also happy that I was able to carry through on my election campaign commitment to freeze social housing rents during my term.

Mr. Speaker, I also feel very encouraged by the work of the task force on Inuit stone carvings, which I helped establish. The conference we held in Cape Dorset on the future of Inuit stone carvings in Nunavut this past October came up with 50 important recommendations. I am pleased to learn that the Department of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development and the new Department of Sustainable Development in Nunavut will be placing a stronger emphasis on our Nunavut economy as a mixed economy. Arts and crafts, tourism, renewable resources, as well as non-renewable resources. I firmly believe that with its potential for creating jobs in all communities and the enormous talent and recognition of Inuit artists worldwide, there is no reason why arts and crafts cannot be a major source of new jobs in the Nunavut economy. Progress is being made toward achieving this goal. I was pleased to learn that an experienced full-time coordinator, Ms. Bev Beatie, has recently been hired to implement the recommendations of the Cape Dorset meeting, and funds have been committed to support the volunteer board of directors of the Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association.

I am also very pleased that the work of Inuit artists will be prominently featured in the new buildings now being planned for the Government of Nunavut and the Government of Canada. With the support of the Kiviktallik Corporation and the Nunavut Construction Corporation, plans are also being made to include carving stone material such as soapstone and marble for use in the flooring, wall coverings, table tops and even light fixtures in these showcase buildings. Also there will be Inuit art in these buildings. One of my constituents, Sam Pitsedak, and a group of Inuit artists are working on the building of the mace for the new Legislature of Nunavut, and I am sure it will be as memorable a work as the NWT Legislative Mace, whose artists were from my constituency also. Having you, Mr. Speaker, and the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories, visit Cape Dorset to honour these artists a couple of years ago was an occasion we treasure.

Now that 50 years have passed since the first Inuit Art Exhibition was held in 1949, I am also pleased that today the Inuit art dealers are discussing promoting the year 1999-2000 as a year of celebration for Inuit art. The Business of Art Conference is being planned for Nunavut in the coming year and a proposal has been presented to the Canada Council Millennium Committee to celebrate the turn of the century through an international sculpture project called, Our Lives in Stone, which brought master carvers from Nunavut together with carvers from Canada and the circumpolar countries. I am confident that the new Nunavut government will provide continuing financial support for the Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association, which wants to develop a much-needed strategic plan to support the Inuit carving industry.

Mr. Speaker, while I served as MLA for Baffin South, I was assisted by very capable constituency assistants. I wish to express my great thanks to the late Charlie Manning and now to my current outgoing constituency assistant, Mr. John Manning, for working hard to resolve many constituency concerns and issues. Although I do not have the time today to thank everyone who helped me in so many ways during my term, I wish to mention some people.

Mr. Speaker, first of all I would like to thank you and your staff, along with the clerk, Mr. David Hamilton, and everybody who works here for the support and assistance and friendship that I have enjoyed. I also want to make special mention of all the interpreters in all the languages that worked in this Assembly, especially the Inuktitut interpreters who have assisted me so many times. Mr. Speaker, my office staff, Kelly Merilees and Nicole Camphaug, have also been very supportive and important these past few months in my office. Mr. Speaker, I also would like to thank all the Members here and Members of the Legislative Assembly and all of my Cabinet colleagues, from the Premier to all the Ministers. I would like to congratulate Mr. Steen and Mr. Miltenberger for their victory this morning in getting into Cabinet. Mr. Speaker, I have had tremendous support from individual Cabinet ministers. I would like to thank Mr. Morin for his kind words earlier. I just want to echo what Mr. Ningark and another Member said the other day, that the Mr. Morin I have known, is a man of his word and is a person with whom I have built a great friendship over the past few years and I hope to continue to do so. I appreciate very much the ongoing

advice I get from Mr. Todd and the Premier.

Mr. Speaker, these are some of the many positive things I reflect on as I review my term in this 13th NWT Legislative Assembly, the last one before division. Although I had hoped to continue as an MLA in Nunavut, today I want to express my gratitude for the privilege of representing the Baffin South in the last NWT Legislative Assembly. It was at the age of 31 that I became fortunate to have been entrusted with that responsibility of representing such unique and talented constituents. As for my experience, I also enjoyed meeting and working with my fellow MLA colleagues in this Assembly. I will remember the interesting and intense debates that we have had in the last Assembly before division. I am also very grateful for the new friends I have met and the many new things I have learned.

Mr. Speaker, throughout all these undertakings, I could always count on the strong support of my wife Dorothy and our four children. I simply could not have done it without Dorothy's strong support. She put up with my frequent absences and the children put up with me missing their birthdays and school concerts. I am very thankful to them for that. I also wish to offer congratulations to my successor, Mr. Okayuk Akesuk, and wish him well in the challenges he will face representing the constituents of Baffin South. I accept the results of the recent election and wish to assure my successor that I will be willing to offer my experience and advice and support on important issues he must now deal with. Although I fully understand and accept that the people of Baffin South have chosen to pass the torch to new hands.

In these last words as MLA for Baffin South, I would like to close by sharing some thoughts about opportunities and challenges for the new Nunavut government.

Mr. Speaker, when I look at our rapidly growing young population in Nunavut, it is clear to me that the first priority of the Nunavut government must be to create more jobs. Building on the work done by a government, I believe there is a commitment on the part of the Government of Canada to work with the new Nunavut Government to establish a new Nunavut economic strategy which will create a more attractive investment climate and taxation regime. The Nunavut economy is a mixed economy. I have already spoken of my enthusiasm in strengthening arts and crafts. The Nunavut government must also focus more on tourism, renewable resources, along with the non-renewable resource sector.

Mr. Speaker, decentralization must be implemented hand in hand with an intense training strategy which are the clear goals, ensuring that long-term community residents get a good share of new decentralized jobs. I also believe that Nunavut will also have to look at a streamlined and new community transfer policy to ensure that all Nunavut communities benefit from new jobs, not just the eight decentralized communities and three regional centers. Our college and school programs can be reoriented so that they target many existing jobs in communities which are still held by transient southerners: nurses, trades, teaching, finance officers and administrators. Small business in Nunavut can benefit from an improvement to the Nunavut Business Incentive Policy, along with a clear commitment to respect Article 24 and other key provisions of the Nunavut Final Agreement toward greater Inuit employment and participation in Nunavut business and public sector opportunities.

Nunavut must be a government run by northern residents. The new government must work quickly to reduce dependence on the Western Territory and Ottawa through a renewed emphasis on education and training for Nunavut residents.

Nunavut's crippling social housing shortage is impairing all aspects of our growth and development. It is essential that the Nunavut government work quickly in partnership with the Government of Canada to restore vital social housing programs. I have worked hard on this issue for the past three years with the Government of Canada. I believe that with continued pressure and attention being paid to Nunavut and its social needs, the Government of Canada might soon be willing to take action.

Also, despite significant expenditures on courts, police and jails, the justice system in Nunavut is still too often irrelevant to the Inuit and ineffective in preventing crime. Our justice system emphasizes guilt and punishment. Victims have largely been left out of the justice system except as witnesses and offenders have not had very much opportunity to remedy the wrongs they have done. I had the privilege of participating in the Nunavut Social Development Councils Conference last fall entitled Toward Justice that Brings Peace. I agree with the emphasis, in that conference, that the Inuit have the strength and resources to tackle social problems at the community level. Our justice system seems to be dominated by the legal professions. Victims, offenders and our community leaders seem to be largely left out of the criminal justice system. We must rely more on the strength and resources in our communities to deal with the many justice issues rather than continuing with a very expensive justice system which relies heavily on professionals who are temporarily imported to our communities or sending community residents to far-away jails or other facilities. I also firmly believe that efforts made to support healing and wellness are critical to preventing many people from having ongoing conflicts with the justice system and will also strengthen our communities politically, socially and economically.

Mr. Speaker, the people of Nunavut have been preparing for many years for a government which is closer to home, a government which will speak to the Inuit majority. How do we ensure that the Nunavut government reflects the first language of the majority of our citizens, Inuktitut? The Nunavut government must communicate to our people and the Inuktitut language must be given more visibility and respect on our public signs, in all of our publications, in all public proceedings. To make the Nunavut government more responsive to the people of Nunavut, the government must do much more than translate the laws, policies and programs inherited from the GNWT. The Government of Nunavut must also change those laws and policies to reflect the values and traditions and beliefs of the Inuit traditional knowledge. The new government of Nunavut must find a way to ensure that Inuit traditional knowledge is incorporated to the programs, policies and legislation.

Mr. Speaker, Nunavut is a huge area with a small, but growing, population. I believe that the administrative model we have inherited from the GNWT sometimes makes us think of ourselves as people from regions. I believe it is critical that the residents of Nunavut must work together as one. Although it has been decided that the capital will be located in the Baffin region, I believe that Nunavut must work hard to ensure that the

people of the Kitikmeot and Kivalliq are fully involved in everything the new government does. Ways must be found to ensure that everyone has access to the new government no matter where they live. The Nunavut government must also develop strong connections with government at the municipal level and with the business community.

Nunavut Tungavik Incorporated was a party to the Nunavut Political Accord and was active in planning the new government. The Nunavut government can continue that partnership, seeking the support and advice of NTI to make sure that the Nunavut Final Agreement is respected and strengthened in Nunavut. Even as we move quickly to establish capacity and self-sufficiency in delivering made-in-Nunavut government programs and services, Nunavut must also recognize its place as a new jurisdiction in Canada. I believe that Nunavut can and must work with the head of the government in the Yukon and the NWT to ensure that the north has a stronger voice in national decision-making at First Ministers and Premiers conferences. We must also establish strong and direct links with the federal government in Ottawa to ensure that the national government provides continued support and implements constructive policies to enhance economic growth, self- sufficiency, and increased capacity of Nunavut residents.

Mr. Speaker, Nunavut is a government which values all of its residents, Inuit and non-Inuit, but because of its strong Inuit majority, the Nunavut government will also be seen as a strong voice for the Inuit of Canada and as a new partner in the circumpolar world. While developing programs which are more responsive to the unique needs of our residents in remote communities, the Nunavut government must also establish strong links to our Arctic neighbours in the Western Territory, the Yukon, and our circumpolar neighbours in Alaska, the Soviet north, and Nordic countries in Greenland. While mindful of the challenges that provide for social needs of our rapidly growing population, the need to develop our economy and create jobs, the need to develop partnership for the benefit of all the people in Nunavut, I am optimistic about Nunavut and anxious to participate. Political life is demanding of one's time and energy and create pressure for families.

My constituents have decided, in their wisdom, Mr. Speaker, that I need a rest for a while from the demands of political life and the pressures of being Cabinet Minister. I will welcome the opportunity to take a break, spend more overdue quality time with my family and consider how I might make a contribution to the challenge of establishing a new and more responsive government in Nunavut.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, I wish to say again how thankful I am to the people of Baffin South to have been given the honour and privilege of representing them in this House and of representing the people of the NWT through my Cabinet responsibilities. I have learned a lot from my experiences in this Assembly and this government. I now look forward to being more involved in Nunavut. With that, Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank you once again, and all Members of this House, for this opportunity to make these brief remarks. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


Question 45-13(7): Minimum Down Payment Assistance Program March 26th, 1999

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This program was designed to assist individuals in obtaining a down payment to purchase existing homes and that is still the criteria. We have had requests to expand the program to include the start-up or the building of new homes, but I have advised those that have made the requests in the Housing Corporation that it would be a matter for the new Minister of Housing and the Cabinet to decide. Thank you.

Question 45-13(7): Minimum Down Payment Assistance Program March 26th, 1999

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, as I told the House a few days ago, this is a highly successful program that is very popular, especially here in the western Arctic. The Member is correct that it has generated many millions of dollars of economic activity. The Housing Corporation has a screening process during the application period to try to weed out those that might want to abuse the program, but I am pleased to tell Members that there are virtually no reports of abuse; there have been a couple of cases where individuals may have wanted to buy homes to sell in very quick turnaround, but again we are very watchful for that. If the Member is interested, I would be more than pleased to provide further information in writing. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 41-13(7): Cabinet Decisions March 26th, 1999

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Unfortunately, it is very difficult for me to comment on that. As I said earlier, the decision was made before my time as Minister. I would imagine that as with all Cabinet decisions that the Cabinet is given different forms of advice and looks at all sides of the issue and makes a decision on the best course of action to take. I would feel confident that that was the process that was used, as it always is. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 41-13(7): Cabinet Decisions March 26th, 1999

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I previously stated, I was not Minister of Justice; however, from records and discussions, I understand that the general advice was not to go forward with supporting an appeal. As I said earlier, sometimes we do not follow exactly all the advice we get. Cabinet at that time, as far as I am aware, made a political decision to support the province of Alberta in an appeal. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 41-13(7): Cabinet Decisions March 26th, 1999

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Unfortunately I was not the Minister of Justice when the original case was decided by Cabinet, therefore I cannot comment on it. Thank you.

Question 41-13(7): Cabinet Decisions March 26th, 1999

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As the Member noted in his Member's statement, Cabinet does seek and receives advice from many knowledgeable people; technical staff, legal staff, and others; and as the Member also noted, it is a prerogative of Cabinet to take or not take that advice and follow through with it. To varying degrees we have made decisions that follow or do not follow that advice, but generally speaking we do have very good and competent legal advisors, and in most cases I would say that we tend to follow that advice. Thank you.

Bill 14: An Act To Amend The Risk Capital Investment Tax Credits Act And The Income Tax Act March 25th, 1999

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Yellowknife Frame Lake that Bill 14, An Act to Amend the Risk Capital Investment Tax Credits Act and the Income Tax Act be read for the third time. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Bill 13: An Act To Amend The Financial Administration Act March 25th, 1999

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Yellowknife Frame Lake that Bill 13, An Act to Amend the Financial Administration Act, be read for the third time. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.