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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was hay.

Last in the Legislative Assembly November 2015, as MLA for Hay River South

Lost her last election, in 2015, with 35% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Question 897-17(5): NWT Grandparents’ Rights September 30th, 2015

I’m also wondering: in

the case where the parents of those grandchildren are obstructing the rights of the grandparents to visit or to be granted custody of those grandchildren in a situation where they’re taken into care, what do we have in legislation that precludes that from happening, where a mother or a father of children would obstruct grandparents from being able to have access to and visitation rights and custodial rights when necessary? What do we have to address that?

Question 897-17(5): NWT Grandparents’ Rights September 30th, 2015

I think we would all agree that grandparents play a very important role in the lives of their grandchildren. In a follow-up to my Member’s statement, I have questions for the Minister of Health and Social Services.

In situations that I’m aware of – and I raise this concern on behalf of some grandmothers in Hay River

– when they are denied access or visitation or

are considered a priority for custody of their grandchildren,

they

not

only

deprive

the

grandparents but they deprive the grandchildren of a very important influence in their lives.

I’d like to ask the Minister, what is the status of NWT grandparents’ rights in terms of visitation and caregiving in the Northwest Territories at this time?

Rights Of Grandparents September 30th, 2015

But while the jurisdictions vary in the details of their approaches, several have at least taken steps to bring grandparents further into this conversation. The NWT must be the next jurisdiction to bridge that gap and formally recognize grandparents in our legislation.

Later today I’ll have questions for the Minister of Health and Social Services. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Rights Of Grandparents September 30th, 2015

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Just a little bit of trivia, when I was sworn into this Legislature the first time, there’s a video footage of my family out in the Member’s lounge and my husband was holding my daughter in his arms and Jillian was six years old. Now almost all of my grandchildren are now older than six years old, but today I want to talk about the rights of grandparents.

I’ve often got on the plane to fly here to Yellowknife to do my work and thought that I’m blessed because I could not be doing that work if I did not know that my five grandchildren were in good hands, in good care and that they were safe and being well cared for. Not every grandparent has that blessing and has that privilege to know that. What’s

even

sadder

is

that

sometimes

grand

parents don’t have the ability, and they are

blocked from intervening when it comes to the well- being of the grandchildren.

So, today I want to talk about the rights of grandparents in the Northwest Territories. When it comes to rules for visitation and custody, grandparents’ rights is an evolving field across our country. It’s affected by new case law as well as

changing understandings of what family means and what role different individuals can or should take to ensure a child’s welfare. But there’s one thing we know for certain, and that’s that our NWT visitation and caregiving legislation doesn’t even address grandparents directly. This isn’t the case in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec or the Yukon. These jurisdictions expressly recognize grandparents and clearly give them opportunities to pursue their cases. Nova Scotia introduced a package of grandparents’ rights legislation just last fall.

We know from public hearings on the Child and Family Services Act that NWT grandparents often play a vital role in their children’s lives. They can provide care, emotional and financial support, and essential links to traditional cultures in home communities.

The Standing Committee on Social Programs highlighted these in our recommendations on the Child and Family Services Act, and I quote, “According to one weary grandmother who has fostered several grandchildren, ‘I’m tired and I’m angry and this government is actually going backwards. When are things going to change for the

better?’” That’s about grandparents and foster

care, but today I want to extend this conversation to also speak to grandparents seeking something as simple as visitation and custody.

These are complicated questions and in every Canadian jurisdiction, legislation requires us to always prioritize the best interest of the child in any decision or ruling.

I’d like to seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Question 885-17(5): Dredging In The Hay River September 29th, 2015

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I understand that the government does not want the fiscal and financial responsibility of dredging Hay River. Let me ask the

Minister… Obviously, we are

at a standoff. The feds are not responding to the request of anybody from this government about the dredging of Hay River.

Who is going to stop the territorial government if they go in there and dredge? I know we don’t want to take on the fiscal responsibility. If we start dredging it, then that’s our responsibility, but legally what is stopping us from dredging that harbour?

Question 885-17(5): Dredging In The Hay River September 29th, 2015

I still don’t understand,

from the Minister’s explanation, why the dredging in Hay River has to be deemed a federal responsibility. I understand it traditionally was. I understand that the federal government vacated their responsibility with response to the dredging.

Is there some legal reason why we have to call that a federal responsibility? Why can’t it be a territorial responsibility without going through some transfer or mandate and some transfer of funds? Why can’t we just take it up and say we’re going to take care of it? Why? What is the legal impediment? Thank you.

Question 885-17(5): Dredging In The Hay River September 29th, 2015

What’s the alternative? If

our government doesn’t want to take over federal responsibility, what is the alternative? Just wait for the waterways or passageways to fill in with silt?

Could the Minister, for my benefit and the benefit of our constituents, please tell me why this must be designated as a federal responsibility? Even though it traditionally was, why does it today still need to be tagged as a federal responsibility? Why can’t it be a territorial responsibility? Thank you.

Question 885-17(5): Dredging In The Hay River September 29th, 2015

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am very dismayed by the answers today from the Minister of Transportation. We are hearing that this is federal responsibility, yet the Minister wrote to the federal government and got no response and there was no follow-up. This government does not seem to care about dredging in Hay River. I don’t care whose responsibility it is. Newsflash: They left 20 years ago; t

hey’re not coming back. Somebody has to be

responsible.

I don’t know why it has to stay a federal responsibility. Maybe the Minister can tell me that.

Why does it have to be a federal responsibility? Why can’t it be a territorial responsibility? Why can’t you put aside funds? I don’t care if you contract it out. I don’t care if you add it on to the marine division at the Department of Transportation. This needs to be done. Some way, somehow the river has to be dredged. A community is at stake here. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Dredging In The Hay River September 29th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I feel like putting my notes aside and following with the same passion as my colleague for Hay River North, but I’m not feeling well today so I’m afraid it wouldn’t come across with as much gusto.

I’m going to tag team with my colleague here today and reiterate again that Hay River is a transportation hub right on the south shore of Great Slave Lake and at the mouth of the Hay River itself. Once upon a time, the federal government met its responsibility for dredging, but that practice was discontinued in 1994. They sold all of their equipment. Since that time no one has taken up responsibility, even though the waterways have continued to be used. Our harbour is used by tug and barge operators, by the Canadian Coast Guard, by the commercial fishermen and by recreational boaters. Let’s not forget, as my colleague for Hay River North has said before in this House, that the Hay River Flood Mitigation Committee has identified dredging as an option and a proactive approach to the annual threat of flooding in Hay River.

I can tell you what’s happened in terms of dredging in the Hay River port since the federal program was discontinued more than 20 years ago. Nothing! Basically, we walked off a cliff. We went from annual dredging

– annual dredging – to absolutely nothing.

Meanwhile, responsibility for the dredging is passed around like a political football. That response no longer cuts it with the residents of Hay River. We need to see decisive action taken.

The town is looking to this government for some assistance. If I said it before, I’ll say it again, it’s affecting our people and it’s affecting our industry, and even if it is not technically or hasn’t technically

been our responsibility, it’s having real impacts on the people, the livelihoods and the supply chains out of Hay River.

Lack of action on this issue undermines the spirit and soul of our community. The harbour in Hay River is the lifeblood of why that community is there. We’ve continued to press for action

, and we’ve talked about

pushing and partnering with the federal government and about taking action as a territory, and we’ve talked about accessing funds from the National Disaster Mitigation Program. In the life of this Assembly alone, we’d hoped for a new federal plan in 2014, heard promises of territorial budget commitment, but this plan has still not come through and still the harbour hasn’t been dealt with. The Department of Transportation’s new 25-year plan barely even mentions dredging.

Hay River is the second largest community in the Northwest Territories. Surely it’s time to do something. When it comes to question period, I’m going to ask questions but also throw in a few suggestions.

Point Of Privilege September 29th, 2015

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’ll also be speaking in support of my colleague’s point of privilege.

This is an example of the end justifying the means, and I think we should not get into the detail of why we have had to make a decision about offsetting the cost to ratepayers and addressing the cost of living. I think that’s another whole subject for another day.

We probably would have come to the same end decision. It’s only about process, that’s my concern. I mean, nobody can stand up here as a Regular Member of this Legislature and say that we would support a 24 percent hit on the ratepayers of the Northwest Territories. That certainly was something to be mitigated and something to be avoided. I mean, $30 million is a very substantial amount of money in the work that we do around this table.

So, Mr. Speaker, I would support it and say that we would have probably come to the same conclusion, but the process was flawed. Thank you.