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Crucial Fact

Last in the Legislative Assembly September 2019, as MLA for Nunakput

Lost his last election, in 2019, with 19% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Arctic Sovereignty August 21st, 2019

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday the Premier made a statement on strengthening Canada's Arctic in the face of a rapidly changing geopolitical landscape. I agreed with much of what the Premier said, so my statement today is going to echo some key points that I, too, hope to see develop in our territory in terms of Arctic Sovereignty.

Mr. Speaker, as we speak there are currently two major phenomena that are unfolding across the circumpolar world which will have long-lasting impacts and global implications for generations to come; those being the effects of global climate change and, along with it, an increase in the amount of land and economic development that comes with a warmer climate. These two things, Mr. Speaker, will come hand-in-hand, whether we like it or not.

As a person from a remote community, I have seen firsthand and have heard from many constituents of some of the many adverse effects that climate change has been having on our environment. We see the impacts in many forms, whether it is coastal erosion, dwindling sea ice, oceans warming, or increasingly volatile and unpredictable wildfire seasons, across the Northwest Territories.

However, on the other side of the coin, we, as a territory and as a country, must not be deterred by the effects of climate change. While, yes, it is imperative for the world to collectively work together to limit our greenhouse gas output, it is also important that we work to mitigate the effects of, and learn to adapt to, the new climate reality that we seem to be headed toward.

What I am saying, Mr. Speaker, is that we can't be afraid to think boldly in terms of our territory's potential to be an international trade or transportation hub. As our Premier said yesterday, and in previous statements, we must not stand idly by and let the other circumpolar nations surge ahead in front of us on this. I believe that our territory would greatly benefit from a steady flow of strategic investments into critical infrastructure projects such as renewable energy, deep-sea ports, and increased airport and highway capacities, among others. In many respects, our country could be leading the way on this front, but it appears that we are struggling to merely keep up.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, as we look ahead and move forward into these unchartered waters, adaptability is inherent to the way of life for Indigenous peoples. We must move forward with confidence, collaboration, and cooperation with leadership at all levels as we find dynamic solutions to help manage our evolving Arctic. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Recorded Vote August 21st, 2019

Thank you, Mr. Chair. As a previous speaker mentioned, there are a lot of different Indigenous groups in the territory; some signed, some unsigned. There may be an administration part of this so that we can have a body for this to work with all Indigenous governments across the territory. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Committee Motion 227-18(3): Bill 34: Mineral Resources Act - Amend subclause 42(5), Defeated August 21st, 2019

Thank you, Mr. Chair. In my region, in the four communities that I represent, there is the municipal government, and as well, there are the community corporations, which deal with benefits agreements. The municipalities would likely be in the administrative part of this where they would be involved with training and possibly employment, so there would be a conflict of interest for sure at some point or another, and I think that this is an example of that.

I think that, with all due respect to municipalities, we are a part of municipalities as well, too, and they are fully aware of what happens in their region. All of the research applications and any type of work that goes through to the communities goes through the municipality first to approve and also give the regulations to the mining or whatever it may be, research, for that matter. The municipalities are very well-aware, and I think that we are kind of confusing things and creating a conflict of interest for local and Indigenous governments. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Committee Motion 223-18(3): Bill 34: Mineral Resources Act - Amend subclause 24(13), Defeated August 20th, 2019

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Like other motions, I think that this is getting into the weeds of some of these clauses, and I think that it is a disrespect to Indigenous governments. Sometimes I am listening to this, and I am hearing that this might be mistaken with the Public Land Act. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it definitely sounds that way.

For the sake of effectiveness and expediency, I think that we need to really get to the point of this, stay on point, and focus on what is here. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Committee Motion 216-18(3): Bill 34: Mineral Resources Act - Amend Clause 20 by substituting paragraph (g), Carried August 20th, 2019

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I am going to reference the previous motion, 17.1, here as well, too. I think this, again, would scare away industry. I think that this would also, Indigenous governments, there could be unsettled claims. Look at Yellowknife for an example. They have agreements, and they have a great education system. I think that we need to protect that and preserve that so that industry can continue to explore and invest in our territory.

This is one that would scare away industry, and I think that this is a ridiculous motion. I won't support it. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Committee Motion 214-18(3): Bill 34: Mineral Resources Act - Amend Clause 7(3)(r) adding (r.1), Defeated August 20th, 2019

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Earlier on at the opening remarks of the Minister, I spoke about Indigenous governments and industry, and this is just a side door. You know, if the Members are concerned about or anybody in the general public is concerned or interested people, they can approach the Indigenous organization where if it's on their lands or industry or the government, I think this is just, I think this would scare away industry, and also I do not think this would be approved by Indigenous governments, so I am not going to approve this motion. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Committee Motion 212-18(3): Standing Committee on Economic Development and environment Report on the Review of Bill 34: Mineral Resources Act - government Response to Recommendations, Carried August 20th, 2019

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I will not comment too much. The Minister had spoken a lot about section 5. You know, coming from an Indigenous government and having our land claim signed, I definitely have been around the activities from the beginning and closing of exploration. I am a firm believer that we must attract investment in our territory and in fact attract it safely and responsibly, and I believe that this act will do that. I will not have much to add. A bunch of my colleagues have mentioned a lot about it, so I will not reiterate. However, I would like to ensure that my concerns are definitely around benefit agreements with Indigenous governments, impact benefit agreements, as well as investor confidence, as well as partnerships.

Mr. Chair, as we move forward, the government must ensure that industry and Indigenous governments actually work together on some of the regulations on some of these so that we can actually work out some of the kinks that will likely occur moving forward. Nothing ever comes out perfectly. It will never please everybody. This is the government's bill, and the government own, but we must ensure that this looks at industry and Indigenous governments, and safe mining is what it comes down to, Mr. Chair, so let's get drilling. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Committee Motion 208-18(3): Standing Committee on Economic Development and environment Report on the Review of Bill 34: Mineral Resources Act - Independent Panel to Review Royalties System, Carried August 20th, 2019

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I don't agree with this motion. This takes away from the mining industry, working out those agreements that they have with Indigenous governments, and also with the GNWT. I think that this motion kind of undermines that and their working parts. They are doing things already to take care of this, and this seems like an expensive add to what is going on here. I think this takes away from the negotiating capabilities from Indigenous groups, the mining industry, and the government-to-government relationship that the GNWT has with industry and with Indigenous groups. It doesn't really make sense to me, Mr. Chair.

Health Care in Nunakput August 20th, 2019

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Back in February of this year I did a Member's statement on healthcare in relation to elders, where I talked about multiple system-related issues that Nunakput residents have brought to my attention. Today I would like to expand on the subject of healthcare in relation to Indigenous peoples.

Among the issues I mentioned in my previous statement on healthcare, I talked about the need for more culturally safe and appropriate healthcare to be offered to the people of the Northwest Territories. Ironically, the day after I made the statement, the Department of Health and Social Services came out with a cultural safety plan which I was very glad to see addressed some of the core issues on healthcare.

Moreover, Mr. Speaker, there are other issues which my constituents have experienced recently in relation to the health department, particularly with medical travel. For example, there was one case where a medical patient was required by their doctor to have an escort travel to Edmonton with them for an appointment. However, the medical travel personnel viewed the situation differently and left the patient in need without any escorts at all.

Mr. Speaker, I understand that every patient has different medical circumstances and that our health department must address each situation accordingly. However, my biggest concern with medical travel is that, when some patients require translators, that option does not seem to be made readily available all the time.

Situations like these should not be occurring anymore in this day in age, where patients are faced with language barriers upon receiving healthcare in the Northwest Territories. After all, we are a territory that recognizes 11 official languages. Therefore, it is imperative that all of our government services, not only healthcare, be made available in each of our official languages when they are needed. I would like to have assurance that all of our citizens across the Northwest Territories, regardless of their identity, language, or where they live, are well-informed of their medical situations and the options of care that are available to them, especially when it comes to medications and when surgery is involved.

Mr. Speaker, we as a government need to ensure that our healthcare system is looking after the needs of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples equally. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Committee Motion 194-18(3): Bill 42: An Act to Amend the Petroleum Products Tax Act - Substitution of Clause 22, Defeated August 19th, 2019

Yes, thank you, Mr. Chair. This motion looks good on paper, but, you know, given the information that we have here, I am just going to read a sentence here: "failure to complete the process will require us," which is like the feds put in place the federal backstop on September 1st. Mr. Chair, we had discussions about this earlier, and I will not really reiterate too much. As the Member for Nahendeh mentioned, this is about elders and it's about remote communities. I for one come from a remote community, and this is one thing that definitely has an impact, a negative impact, on the cost of harvesting and basically people's livelihoods. If we go with this motion, you know, Mr. Chair, this is something that we do not want to do but this is something that is being imposed, and, at the same time, I look at this and I think it's better the devil you know than the devil you don't. The devil we don't know: if we move this motion to January 1st, it could have some really negative impacts for the territory as a whole, and it would just be nothing good, so, for that reason, Mr. Chair, I do not think I can support this motion with the information we have. Thank you.