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Roles

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Last in the Legislative Assembly May 2005, as MLA for North Slave

Lost his last election, in 2007, with 46% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Taking Action Against Crack Cocaine March 3rd, 2005

Thank you, Mr. Speaker and colleagues. If the government hopes to achieve this, I suggest quick action to provide more resources for drug abuse prevention education in schools in all communities. We need to get a grip on this problem before it gets a grip on us. Thank you.

---Applause

Taking Action Against Crack Cocaine March 3rd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Taking Action Against Crack Cocaine March 3rd, 2005

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I want to speak about the violent impact of crack cocaine. My colleague from Kam Lake raised this issue yesterday. Today I want to join him to urge this government to do everything within its power to prevent this dangerous drug from taking hold on our communities.

Mr. Speaker, crack cocaine does not discriminate. It is as much a threat to small communities as it is to larger centres, perhaps more so. Many of the small communities in the Northwest Territories already have widespread problems associated with abuse of other substances, often starting as young as 12 or 13 years old.

Mr. Speaker, I am frightened to think what will happen if crack cocaine becomes readily available in smaller communities. It is cheap and highly addictive from the very first start. As my colleague pointed out yesterday, drug traffickers, often users themselves, have no scruples. They do not hesitate to sell, even target youth. If the thought of this makes you shudder, Mr. Speaker, it should.

Cocaine is already present in outlying communities. This morning on the CBC regional news, we learned that last week a man in Rae was arrested and charged for an unprovoked attack on a police officer causing bodily harm. He was found to be in possession of crack cocaine and marijuana. If we fail to take action, it is only a matter of time until crack cocaine devastates small communities across the Northwest Territories.

The RCMP have recently appointed a liaison officer to work in Yellowknife schools on the Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program, called the DARE program. This is a good step, but does not address the problem of drugs in the smaller communities. Drug education in schools in small communities is absolutely essential, Mr. Speaker. I urge the government to make drug education in schools a priority. Prevention, Mr. Speaker, is the only chance we have against crack cocaine.

The strategic plan of this government sets out the goal of "Healthy, educated people living in safe communities, who are able to contribute and take advantage of life's opportunities." If the government hopes to achieve this, I suggest quick action to provide more resources.

Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters March 2nd, 2005

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Mr. Chair, on the issue of the Northern Strategy that we are anticipating to develop, I echo a lot of stuff that is in the Premier's Minister's Statement 86-15(3) that was given in the House, but I think the framework that he made reference to has a number of visions, principles, goals and objectives. It is for the three territories to develop. I am not sure, even if we do develop this Northern Strategy, the three governments at the end of the day will have to agree to the final document.

Now, in terms of priorities for the pan-territorial stuff, I am not sure if the other two governments would have the same priority as us. We may differ. I don't know how it is going to turn out at the end of the day, if we are going to agree on these pan-territorial issues. That is one concern I have. Nevertheless, with these goals and objectives that are in the framework, I agree. But I think, we, as the Territories, have to identify our own priorities versus Nunavut and the Yukon because we are all different. There might even be subheadings for different regions; for instance, gas and oil, diamonds or whatever we come up with. So there has to be a specific category for each of the territories and their priorities. There are a lot of these headings that are the goals and objectives that are in the framework I agree with. But there are going to be more subheadings within those areas.

I know that we are moving in the right direction. It is going to take us a lot of work. I don't know if we are going to conclude what the Prime Minister said hopefully by 2006. We are starting now. The funding that was given to us when they launched the strategy, this initiative, is not

going to be in place until some time in June I believe. Our portion of it is around $40 million. We still haven't decided how we are going to utilize that. Are we going to support all the stakeholders? Are we going to use some of this money to get input from the stakeholders, the municipal and band councils, or the Aboriginal Summit? I am not sure. These are questions that need to be answered. There are a lot of issues pertaining to developing this Northern Strategy. It has to be a comprehensive one because this is for the medium and long-term plan for the three territories as it stands now under that framework agreement that has been submitted here. I think our government has to take the initiative right now to start putting discussion papers or the first document out for further discussion with our northern leaders.

The direction that is being anticipated now is that we are going to do that as our government. We want to make sure that the stakeholders have enough time to look at whatever document we come up with ahead of time, but they need resources. I am not sure if our government has considered how we are going to help the stakeholders, because they need people to take a look at it. They are going to develop their own priorities based on the framework that is out there and what we give them as we see as the government. So they have to analyze all those, and they have to come up with their own document for their own organization, region or plan on these priorities for them. So we need resources. I am just wondering, Mr. Chair, if our government is going to be providing those types of resources to the stakeholders. That is one thing that has to be determined now before we start getting into asking our organizations and stakeholders to have their input. A lot of these stakeholders don't have the money to undertake this type of initiative on their own. Money is always tight in that respect.

The priorities for our government, like gas and oil, I agree with. Also revenue sharing, devolution and working with our northern aboriginal governments which is going to be key for us to develop our comprehensive strategy for us here in the Territories. It is going to take a lot of people, consultation and work put into this strategy. It might not be done within a year. I think it might take a little longer if we are going to do a thorough, comprehensive Northern Strategy only for us here in the Territories. I am not sure how quickly for the other two territories, but, at the end of the day, the three governments would have to sit down and agree to what is in that particular strategy. Hopefully the Government of Canada would look at this strategy and say this is what the people of the North, the three northern governments want and let's see how we can help them with their aspirations. It is going to take us a lot of time, effort and resources.

I agree with all of the other comments that Members made. It is going to be individual people who want to have comments and input. It is going to be a challenge, not only for us but for the three territories that will put this comprehensive Northern Strategy in place. We have to do a thorough work to make it very comprehensive because it is not only for today or next year or the year after, it is for the long term. It is for our generations to come, so we have to do as much as we can to make sure that we cover everything within this strategy. Mahsi.

---Applause

GNWT "get Active" Initiative March 2nd, 2005

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to see the rollout of the "Get Active" NWT Community Challenge yesterday at lunch. The three departments, Municipal and Community Affairs, Health and Social Services, and Education, Culture and Employment, are to be commended for working together to implement and fund this exciting initiative.

The government needs to have more cooperation across departments on issues where the lines of responsibility are blurred. Imagine, Mr. Speaker, just for getting out and being active, you can contribute to the chance of your community getting some needed money to buy recreational equipment. It doesn't cost you anything to participate, and the benefits of your own health are substantial. There are many studies that show that an inactive lifestyle is leading to an increased number of cases of Type 2 diabetes. This is really affecting people in our communities. If you don't want to get Type 2 diabetes, you have to eat right, get up and get active. Go for a walk, cut some wood for elders, or even go out on the land or play with your children. These are all simple things you can do, Mr. Speaker. I strongly encourage recreation coordinators, physical education teachers, community health workers, schools and community governments to support this initiative because, even if you don't manage to win the $5,000 available for recreational equipment, your community will win with healthier residents. Mahsi.

---Applause

Committee Motion 24-15(3): Recommendation To Divert Funds From Chipseal Projects To Highway Reconstruction, Carried February 28th, 2005

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. On this page I'd just like to ask the Minister with regard to Norman Wells runway, taxiway, apron, rehab for the current year of 2005-06, we have $2.8 million going into that project. The overall cost is going to be, for the next three years anyway, $7.8 million. But Mr. Chairman, for prior years it's not noted right now, but I recall Norman Wells always getting something. If it's not a new terminal, it's paving or an extension. There's always everything there. I realize it was the ex-Premier's riding. But every year everything is always happening. I want to ask the Minister why or how this particular community has always had a major project in that particular community. Thank you.

Committee Motion 24-15(3): Recommendation To Divert Funds From Chipseal Projects To Highway Reconstruction, Carried February 28th, 2005

Well, the reason being, Mr. Chairman, is because departmental staff at headquarters are not listening to the people at the frontline. That's the reason. Thank you.

Committee Motion 24-15(3): Recommendation To Divert Funds From Chipseal Projects To Highway Reconstruction, Carried February 28th, 2005

Mr. Chairman, you know, if the Minister takes a review of those two positions I'm talking about, it could be easily justified. I can tell you that. It's needed. I know it's needed because those positions were there before and now, all of a sudden, it's been taken out. I'm asking again if the Minister would, after you do your research, reconsider reinstating those two PYs. Every other department does. RWED did it. They got a brand-new split department with how many positions coming to Yellowknife? It is the same with the Housing Corporation and the same with Education, Justice; particularly in Justice. It's only two little PYs I'm talking about. If you can't do that, why can't you stand up to the other Ministers who are doing that for their own departments? Thank you.

Committee Motion 24-15(3): Recommendation To Divert Funds From Chipseal Projects To Highway Reconstruction, Carried February 28th, 2005

Now you're going to hear from me speaking on this issue. Mr. Chairman, you know, I've asked the Minister to make a certain commitment and he's reluctant to right now. Other Ministers in this House have made commitments; for instance, Hay River. It's always the small communities that are getting hit, especially with PYs being cut. Here we are, asking this particular Minister if he can do that. If the other government Ministers are doing that for the city of Yellowknife, Hay River, Inuvik, why not for the smaller communities? The smaller communities have been asking you to do this kind of stuff and now I would like to ask the Minister if he would make that kind of commitment right now. Thank you.

---Applause