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Last in the Legislative Assembly September 2007, as MLA for Weledeh

Won his last election, in 2003, by acclaimation.

Statements in the House

Appreciation And Best Wishes August 23rd, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to thank the leaders across the Territories that I've had the pleasure of working with, and that's everybody from chiefs and mayors and so on, to Nellie, to Fred, to Frank, to all the people up and down the valley and in Yellowknife, Mayor Van Tighem and everyone.

I want to thank the people in Weledeh in particular. I hope I have not disappointed you over the past eight years. I think there's been great improvements in the very diverse, very dynamic and very vibrant constituency.

My friends; my old friend Michel Paper, I have to mention him. He's a great man and he's a man I've always enjoyed meeting with and talking to. Particularly Hilda. Hilda has been in this Legislative Assembly longer than any other person and I know she's going to be staying on because lots of people will want her to work with them because she's a great person and a great source of advice to Rick, to Lisa, to the others who have worked with me.

And last of all to my wife, Theresa. I don't know what it is going to be like if I hang around the house too much. I think she will get pretty tired of me pretty fast. She will be wanting me to get out of there and go get a job or something. To her, I look forward to the days that we have to spend together and do stuff around the house and so on, or whatever we are going to be doing. We will see how that works out.

---Laughter

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Appreciation And Best Wishes August 23rd, 2007

Can I seek consent to conclude my statement? Thank you.

Appreciation And Best Wishes August 23rd, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wasn't going to say anything today either because I'm not good at saying goodbye, but I, like Mr. McLeod, didn't want to be the odd man out and this would be pretty obvious, especially after he said that.

---Laughter

Mr. Speaker, almost eight years ago I decided to leave my job as a deputy minister after 14 years and run for office to represent Weledeh. I used to joke, I said I did it because I wanted the food, because I heard that these people ate shrimp and all sorts of things in here.

---Laughter

So I found out that that really wasn't worthwhile. So I said, well, I did it because I wanted to make a difference in the world and that seemed kind of lofty and pretentious. So I gave that one up.

You know, as people talked to me in Weledeh and said, well, why do you want to run, we think you should run, but why do you want to, and I said, well, because I enjoy working with people. Certainly to me the most satisfying part of this job has been when you're able to help a person. It's something as simple as helping somebody to get their son's employment straightened out and you can tell that they're very thankful. Those things are more important to me than is building a bridge or something, and I hope to be remembered for those kind of things where we made a difference to I'll say the little people that we all represent and I hope we can continue to do that in future governments. That's what government is about.

Mr. Speaker, I think the hardest part for me has been when you're not able to help people, you just have to say no. That's hard, especially when it may seem small to us but it's really important to someone. Again, it may be a very small thing, but that's the hardest part. The second hardest part, of course, is we all have had tough days and when you have to open a newspaper and you know it's not good, maybe oh my God, that's got to be one of the toughest pieces of this job. Certainly the nicest part is when you're able to anticipate it's going to be good news and then you get fooled.

I want to thank everybody here. I want to thank all of you, Mr. Braden, Mr. Dent, everybody, the people who are not running again, Mr. Bell, but those who are coming back as well. You've been great people to work for and the thing that I've appreciated most in here is the honesty and the openness with which people ask questions, make statements and so on. I believe that what you say is what you mean and I've certainly tried to operate...

Minister's Statement 44-15(6): Statement On Passing Of Corporal Jordan Anderson August 23rd, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, in early July we heard the sad news that a young northerner had lost his life in Afghanistan.

Corporal Jordan Anderson, of the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, based in Edmonton, Alberta, was born in Iqaluit, Nunavut, and raised in Tuktoyaktuk and Inuvik, Northwest Territories. He was stationed in Afghanistan where his regiment operated to ensure the safety of local people. On July 4th, a roadside bomb detonated under a vehicle Jordan was riding in and he was killed.

Until that time, the war in Afghanistan seemed a long way away, but it certainly touched the people of the Northwest Territories on July 4th. It is tragic that Jordan's life was cut short, but the life he chose to lead as a soldier had meaning, pride and dignity.

Mr. Speaker, we offer our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Corporal Jordan Anderson. It is because of brave and selfless soldiers like Jordan that the world is a better place. We are proud of him and grieve his loss. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 40-15(6): A Government-wide Approach To Consultation August 23rd, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, aboriginal people in the Northwest Territories and across Canada have fought long and hard to have their aboriginal rights recognized. It is important that all governments, including ours, do their part to recognize and uphold these rights. This means the GNWT must consider how decisions we take might infringe upon our asserted or proven aboriginal or treaty rights.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform this House we are formalizing the GNWT's government-wide approach to consultation with aboriginal governments and organizations as an expression of our government's commitment to ensure aboriginal and treaty rights in the Northwest Territories are protected.

We will be implementing a government-wide approach to consultation with aboriginal governments and organizations to ensure the GNWT undertakes consultation in a consistent manner, leading to transparent, accountable and flexible consultation processes for all parties. As part of our work to implement this approach, and because jurisprudence in this area is evolving at a rapid pace, we will develop training materials to ensure our staff have any additional tools and resources they need to keep pace with developments in this area.

This approach will ensure the GNWT upholds the "honour of the Crown" as it fulfills its legal duty, undertaking consultation in a spirit of good faith, ultimately contributing, over the longer-term, to mutually respectful relationships with aboriginal governments and organizations.

This new approach will guide our consultation practices in those instances where the legal duty to consult arises under common law. In addition, it will complement and support the work we are already doing with regard to our consultation obligations contained in land, resources and self-government agreements, interim measures agreements, existing legislation and policy. Although the federal government still has authority over non-renewable resources and Crown land in the Northwest Territories, the government-wide approach will provide for

coordination between the GNWT and the federal government's consultation efforts.

Mr. Speaker, I have written to the leaders of those aboriginal governments and organizations having asserted or proven rights in the Northwest Territories, informing them of our new government-wide approach. I stressed to aboriginal leaders that, in order for consultation to be truly effective, not only does the GNWT have a duty to consult but aboriginal governments and organizations have a reciprocal duty to engage and participate in the consultation process.

Mr. Speaker, I fully expect our new approach to consultation with aboriginal governments and organizations will evolve as case law develops and as we work with aboriginal governments and organizations to develop consultation processes that meet the interests and needs of all parties. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Motion 11-15(6): Extension Of Appointment Of Mr. Denny Rodgers As Chair Of The Workers' Compensation Board Governance Council, Carried August 22nd, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We have considered this motion. There is a process in place for selecting a new chairperson. Mr. Rodgers' position doesn't expire until after the life of this government, I think it's October 12th or 9th. We have checked with the Workers' Compensation Board to see if there are any reasons with regard to quorums, workloads or activities that had to go on before the new government would be officially in place. There was none. So, Mr. Speaker, we find it very difficult to reach into the next government's responsibilities. Mr. Speaker, in spite of that, because it's a recommendation, Cabinet will not be voting on this motion. Thank you.

Speaker's Ruling August 22nd, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wanted to speak briefly to the motion. Let's take a little look back at history. You know, we go back, we're either the eighth or the ninth Legislative Assembly to debate whether there should be a bridge or not. It goes back in to the '70s. In the 1970s, $6 million was too much to build the bridge. When it was $50 million, $75 million, it was always too much and today it's too much in people's minds, but we can't keep debating these things forever. We have to move ahead.

Mr. Speaker, I want to provide a little bit of background just on this project and point out that this was proposed in 2002 as a P3 project, a new, novel idea of how we could build a bridge. The model was based on a toll of $6 a tonne in 2002. That has remained the same and that is indexed for inflation. That's always been the agreement based on the consumer price index. Nichols Applied Management did an economic analysis in 2002 and updated it in 2003. A copy of that was provided to Members in the 14th Assembly and again in the 15th Assembly it was provided to everyone. The economic analysis focused on the impact of the bridge on the cost of living and compared the cost of the toll against the estimated savings of the bridge versus the current operation of a ferry and an ice crossing. The overall cost of the bridge was never looked at as a factor in determining the impact on the cost of living. It's always been based on the toll and we have remained consistent with that.

Let me say that the government, I did, I was there, and the Deh Cho Bridge Corporation did a briefing to Members on July the 12th. We went through the economic models. Andrew Gamble led us through that. We looked at the numbers from every which way, we reviewed the financial impact, the costs estimate, you talked about the changes in interest rates, the potential of other projects like the hydro development and the possible Bathurst Inlet port. We talked about all that on July 12th.

Mr. Speaker, the one thing that has remained constant throughout this whole debate, right up to the last briefing with Members on July the 12th, was the fact that this is based on a toll per tonne at $6 and adjusted for inflation. Mr. Speaker, the economic analysis, if you think back, go look back at your copy of the report that was done and given to you, you will find that that report shows that all vehicles, private and commercial, would be dollars ahead with the bridge rather than with a ferry or an ice crossing. In fact, it shows that the savings would be greatest for those who use the ferry and somewhat less for those that did the ice crossing. That was all shown.

Mr. Speaker, the communities that benefit most are the communities north of the Mackenzie River. Not just Yellowknife, but also Behchoko, Fort Providence and I would say, and I don't recall, but the report, I believe also looked at the communities that have their supplies, their goods, their people flown in from the Yellowknife Airport to somewhere on this side. The facts are, for the consumers, the savings from this project outweigh the costs. That was true in 2002; it's true again. Look at the reports that you have, think back on the July 12th briefing that you had with the Deh Cho Bridge Corporation and ourselves.

Companies have approached us because we're running into a crisis, and I mentioned it once before, that last year we had to shut the ferry down because of low water, temperatures are changing. Companies are coming to us now saying, can we run the ferry for 24 hours a day to deal with some of the backlog of traffic that they have today and they anticipate peaking in October? Those are all reasons why we need to move ahead with this. Even if we set aside the tolls, the savings to anybody who lives on this side of the river is great.

Mr. Speaker, some Members have asked about the urgency; I've heard Members here, I've listened carefully, they're talking about the urgency of moving on with this. It's true that the price of the bridge has increased substantially. If we had been able to move ahead quickly with it in 2002-2003, we were looking at about a $75 million bridge where today we're looking at a total cost of somewhere around $150 million; the contract being a good piece of that, but not all of it. Steel prices are going up; other goods and services in Western Canada are going up. In fact, globally we're seeing the same thing happen. There's no easy or quick turnaround. That's predicted with China, with India, with other places that are big on demand.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that the investment by the GNWT of another $2 million a year to make this project move ahead now is a good investment. We've got additional revenues from the federal government and this is going to be an investment that in two, three, five, 10 years after the bridge was built we can say that this is the best decision we've ever made. We would have said that in the 1970s if the people had built the bridge at that time. We would have said it in 1980s, 1990s, we could have said it in 2002 if we had built the bridge then at the price of it those days. We'll say the same thing five years from now.

It should also be noted that we are receiving significant financial federal funding increase over the next while. We'll soon be signing a framework agreement with the federal government on Building Canada, the infrastructure money. There is additional revenue that we are receiving. It may not be tied directly to the bridge, but it's there.

Mr. Speaker, I'd also like to point out that we have come to an arrangement, come to a deal. We haven't signed a contract yet, there's still some paperwork to be done with Atcon Group out of New Brunswick who have stepped forward and offered to build the bridge for a guaranteed maximum price. This is not a management or a cost plus project at all, but it is for a guaranteed price, something which is a big step and I think a big win for us.

Mr. Speaker, in my mind, there's no reason to defer the bridge. Members may feel they need more information. I'd refer you back to the information given to you, I'd refer you back to the notes, I'll give you another copy if you want of the information that's been provided to you. There will always be questions, I'm sure, in people's minds about it, but I don't think you'd ever build a project like this without having some uneasiness about whether or not it is going to come in at the prices that we're voting, and with that guaranteed maximum price I think we've got as much assurance as we can.

A further delay is only going to add uncertainty and add more cost. It could easily kill this project and I think destroy the NWT's credibility. I think we have to stop acting like we're a little branch of the Department of Indian Affairs and the federal government and act like a government, make these decisions. We have to build infrastructure, we know we have to do it and we can't be always going hand out to the federal government. Let's make our own decisions here in this Legislative Assembly and be responsible.

The bridge across the Mackenzie would not only change the physical landscape, but I think symbolizes a lot of change in the political and the economic landscape in the Northwest Territories. This project, along with our work to promote other large transportation infrastructure projects like the Mackenzie Valley highway and the road to Tuk are critical in building a strong and prosperous territory. I'd take the same approach to those projects as I did with the Deh Cho Bridge and I hope the next government does the same thing, just keeps promoting that we need to build infrastructure and we have to get on with it.

So, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the Members' comments. I've listened carefully. I understand what you're saying. The Cabinet will not be voting on this motion. It's a recommendation to us and I appreciate the comments and the positions taken by all of the Members. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Motion 10-15(6): Socio-economic Impacts And Benefits Of The Deh Cho Bridge, Carried August 22nd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, the Member is referring to a document that has not been tabled in the House. I believe that's outside the rules.

Item 5: Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery August 22nd, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm pleased to recognize Marvin Zaozirny, a resident of Weledeh, an active community member and a recently retired DOT employee from our airports section. Welcome.

---Applause

Revert To Item 5: Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery August 21st, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm honoured to recognize some guests who have flown and driven here for the NWT Dog Sledding Symposium this past weekend. None of them travelled by dog team, by the way, I don't think. Mr. Speaker, with us today are Dr. Caroline Griffiths, a doctor in veterinary medicine from

Colorado; Dr. Tim Hunt from Marque, Michigan; his wife, Mary Hunt; and Cate Stronge from Logan, Utah. I don't see Chuck Gould who is from Minnesota. We lost him somewhere. Also, Carol Beck who travelled in from Kam Lake.

---Laughter

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause