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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

Question 151-15(6): Deh Cho Bridge Project August 20th, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am really disappointed that the Member is so reluctant to move ahead with an important piece of infrastructure here. Clearly, he hasn't seen the empty store shelves, the shutdown of construction projects because there is no material, the mines to construction industry, everybody being affected by this let alone the number of students who can't fly home at Christmas. There are no assurances and so on.

Mr. Speaker, when we come to negotiations, we don't negotiate this in public any more than we negotiate most things that are negotiable in public. We are elected. We will do the negotiations. We will assess whether or not it is viable. We will go ahead based on whether or not it makes good economic sense. Mr. Speaker, the bridge, as the Member has said, is roughly $6.75 per tonne for heavy loads going North in today's dollars, exactly what it will be 10 years from now or five years from now, I can't give any assurances for 20 years from now, but it is indexed. It was indexed based on a formula in 2002. That is all doable without having to ask anyone to bail out of the bridge somehow. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 151-15(6): Deh Cho Bridge Project August 20th, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The bridge is a result of negotiations for financing, contracting, consultant services, oversight and so on. There is a whole range of negotiations going on. That kind of analysis is an ongoing exercise. Mr. Speaker, I give the Members assurances that that bridge at today's prices is doable for $6 a tonne in 2002 dollars. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 150-15(6): Income Support Policy Application August 20th, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like the question referred to the Minister of ECE. Thank you.

Item 5: Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery August 20th, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased to recognize Mr. Ivan Strang. Mr. Strang is a Member of the Legislative Assembly in Alberta for the constituency of West Yellowhead.

---Applause

He sits on a number of Alberta Legislative Assembly committees. Mr. Strang was born in Winnipeg but was raised and finished high school in Hay River and was also a resident of Yellowknife for a number of years and worked at Giant Mine.

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Mr. Strang is accompanied today by his mother. Thank you.

---Applause

Question 145-15(6): Cost Of Living In The Sahtu Region August 17th, 2007

Since the Deh Cho Bridge is not on the route to the Sahtu, then I don't expect it will make a big difference there. But, Mr. Speaker, it will make a difference to those communities on the north side of the Mackenzie River. Now we are doing that much, but, Mr. Speaker, that doesn't mean we aren't going to pay attention to the other communities. As the Member knows, we are working on the Bear River Bridge; we have done a lot of work on the Mackenzie Valley highway and put some 20-odd bridges in there already. So we are taking steps to lengthen the season for the winter road to keep down the costs. I look forward to the day when the Government of the Northwest Territories can have a ribbon cutting for the Mackenzie Valley highway that will lower the cost for everybody. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Question 145-15(6): Cost Of Living In The Sahtu Region August 17th, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. There are currently no programs that I am aware of that would organize a barge order system for communities, but it's something that possibly our economic development officers or people working for us in the regions could look at. How can we bring some products in on the barges? I know that is being done to some extent already, but there may be ways for improving on that. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 145-15(6): Cost Of Living In The Sahtu Region August 17th, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This is certainly a recommendation we can make to the 16th Assembly, that we work towards some targets. We have done a lot in this Assembly to try to get things moving to lower the cost of living and with some good success. But setting fixed targets may be possible. That's something we have to work on.

Regarding the Food Mail Program, I have had meetings with the Northern Store and also the co-op on the Food Mail Program to ensure that our communities are benefitting from that program as well. Hopefully, maybe we will lobby the federal government again to put more money into that program. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 145-15(6): Cost Of Living In The Sahtu Region August 17th, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We don't have fixed targets that we can work towards, although we do want to work towards the cost of living. It is much too high in a lot of our communities. In the short term, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased with the revisions we are making to the Income Support Program. That is going to help those who are most in need. Mr. Speaker, we have also done some revision on the housing program hopefully to help relieve some pressure there as well.

We have also committed to working with the people in Deline on a mini hydro project which will help to bring down the cost of energy, which is one of the biggest drivers of cost of living. So that will help.

Mr. Speaker, in the longer term, though, we are going to have to continue to lobby the federal government to carry out their responsibility to finance the building of a road up the Mackenzie Valley. That is the only way to lower costs.

---Applause

Item 5: Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery August 17th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to recognize a constituent whose family has lived in Weledeh for many years, well-known Bob Bromley.

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Minister's Statement 32-15(6): Council Of The Federation August 17th, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to take this opportunity today to report back to this House on last week's Council of the Federation meeting as well as the meeting with aboriginal leaders I attended along with my fellow Premiers.

In what has become an important part of these meetings, Premiers met with the aboriginal leaders of the five national aboriginal organizations: Chief Phil Fontaine of the Assembly of First Nations, AFN; Patrick Brazeau, leader of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, CAP; Duane Smith, vice-president of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, ITK; Bruce Dumount, interim president of the Metis National Council, MNC; and Beverly Jacobs, president of the Native Women's Association of Canada, NWAC, to discuss issues of common concern.

These meetings between Premiers and leaders of the national aboriginal organizations grew, in large part, from the Western Premiers' Conference we hosted in Inuvik in 2004. I am pleased to say that leaders agreed in Moncton to have these meetings become a regular and continuing part of the Council of the Federation meetings.

This year's meeting, and the three aboriginal summits that took place over the past year, are evidence of the continued commitment by Premiers to work with aboriginal leaders to advance a national aboriginal agenda; an agenda that identifies priority areas as well as solutions we can put in place to tackle such serious issues as family violence, substance abuse, comparatively low rates of education and employment and poor health and housing conditions.

Premiers have taken their role as national leaders seriously and have worked hard to establish and maintain a mutually respectful government-to-government relationship with aboriginal leaders. In that spirit, I am pleased to advise Members that the Northwest Territories has agreed to host next year's National Aboriginal Women's Summit.

Mr. Speaker, as noted in my sessional statement, I am pleased to report that Premiers released an important document in Moncton entitled A Shared Vision for Energy in Canada. This seven-point national energy plan is geared towards ensuring a secure, sustainable, reliable and competitively priced energy supply that meets Canada's present and future needs. The plan, supplemented by energy maps, provides an inventory of the current and potential energy sources from coast to coast to coast, articulates a shared vision for energy in Canada and calls on the federal government to formally involve provinces and territories in international discussions and negotiations that deal with energy and natural resource matters.

This national energy plan strikes a balance between security of energy supply, environmental stewardship, social responsibility and economic prosperity. In the context of energy development, Premiers reiterated their unequivocal support for the Northwest Territories to successfully conclude a devolution and resource revenue sharing agreement so they can be the primary beneficiaries of the development of northern resources.

The agenda of the Council of the Federation also focussed on the issue of climate change. Premiers released a document entitled Climate Change: Leading Practices by Provincial and Territorial Governments of Canada. This collection of best practices highlights the good work provinces and territories are currently doing, or plan to do, to reduce greenhouse gases and to adapt to climate change.

Premiers realize more needs to be done and together we agreed to:

  • • produce an additional 25,000 megawatts of renewable energy through 2020;
  • • join The Climate Registry to ensure the consistent and verifiable measurement of greenhouse gas emissions;
  • • work to develop strategies to implement a national biofuels and hydrogen distribution system;
  • • develop a comprehensive inventory of research currently underway to identify areas of focus for future work and potential partnerships;
  • • include climate change in school curricula;
  • • develop and implement programs, standards or incentives aimed at improving energy efficiency in buildings and promoting the use of energy efficient appliances, vehicles and other energy-using products; and
  • • committed to recapture methane gas from large landfills.

The Northwest Territories has programs in place or in development to assist in meeting the above goals, including the recently released Energy Efficiency Incentive Program, which provides incentives for residents to purchase energy-efficient models of products they use every day.

Mr. Speaker, for the North, where climate change impacts are felt first, adaptation is a critical matter. Along with our territorial colleagues, we are successful in gaining support to work together on a number of fronts, including work around adaptation.

We have worked hard to establish a strong northern voice with our provincial and territorial colleagues at the Council of the Federation and I believe, as evidenced by this year's achievements, we have succeeded. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause