- His favourite word was public.
Last in the Legislative Assembly September 2019, as MLA for Kam Lake
Lost his last election, in 2019, with 23% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Bill 61: Appropriations Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), 2020-2021 August 23rd, 2019
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise to speak to this appropriation bill. I acknowledge that there is a bit of levity in the air today, but the business of the House still must get done, and in this case, it is passing a very large capital budget.
I do not stand in support of this budget on principle, because one of the most important issues to my constituency and to my constituents is the issue of municipal funding and the funding gap that has remained stubbornly unclosed since the start of this Assembly, despite repeated calls for it to be addressed. This budget was last opportunity to add some additional and much-needed funds to our municipalities, and it was not delivered.
After tireless advocating on this side of the House, through business plans, through reviewing budget documents, nothing has still been done, and I told myself that eventually a line would be crossed, and for me, that line is this lack of attention to detail.
The Members on this side of the House and the House itself is not here to rubber-stamp government decisions. It is here to advise government on how to make the right decisions. In this case, there were a number of projects, and this one was very important to me and my community, that were left on the cutting room floor. This has happened time and time again. At this point, I cannot bring myself to support a bill that has essentially been rubber-stamped. It is important that the Ministers are not just there to explain government decisions to this side of the House, but to hear this side of the House, and to incorporate our recommendations into their plans, and especially into their budgets.
Although there are a lot of great projects in this budget, that fundamental issue, which is so important to not just Yellowknife, not just Kam Lake, but to every community in the Northwest Territories, and it is still unaddressed? That is something that I cannot stand for, and I will not stand for this budget as a result. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to request a recorded vote.
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery August 23rd, 2019
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I, too, would like to welcome and acknowledge our elections officers. You are the front line of our democracy, and I very much appreciate the hard work that you do. Particularly, I would like to recognize Ms. Yvette Schreder, the Kam Lake returning officer.
I would also like to recognize two people who have been very important to my work as the Member for Kam Lake, Mr. Garett Cochrane, who served as my constituency assistant for the first half of my term, and Mr. Mike Burchill, who is my current constituency assistant. I couldn't do this job without you, gentlemen, and thank you very much for your service to the people of Kam Lake. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Reflections on the 18th Assembly August 23rd, 2019
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I reflect on the work of the 18th Assembly, I think back to the early days, when we set our priorities and the ambitious mandate that was put forward by all Members of this House. It is the spirit of compromise and cooperation that was the through-line for this Assembly. This is contrary to sensationalist claims of a dysfunctional institution. One need only look to our record to see that the vast majority of decisions, laws, and government spending have nearly always received the unanimous support of this House. To focus on our differences is to do a discredit to what has brought us together, which is service for the people of the Northwest Territories.
Is our system perfect? No, of course not. There are clear deficiencies in our democratic institutions, as there are in all democratic institutions, but I have been envigoured by the debates we've had on this subject, both in this Chamber and in public forums. I look forward to seeing the 19th Assembly continue the debate and find new and better ways to strengthen our Parliamentary traditions and achieve meaningful, democratic reform.
On this final day of session, I would like to thank all those who have supported me over the years; my constituents, my hard-working staff, my friends, and most importantly, my family, who have stood by me always.
I would also like to thank my honourable friends in this House. I have learned something from each of you, and will never forget the time we spent together in service to the people of the Northwest Territories. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters August 22nd, 2019
Thank you, Mr. Chair. When I ran to represent the people of Kam Lake, one of my commitments was to advocate for new infrastructure investment in all of our northern communities. At that time, I called for $24 million to be invested in community public infrastructure over a four-year period. Each capital budget, I recommended this funding be allocated to our municipalities.
Unfortunately, apart from an additional $2 million, $2 million in additional funding, there has not been much change in GNWT capital budgets, and communities remain under-funded to the tune of more than $30 million. This budget is no different, sadly, while investing in many worthy projects, and does nothing to contribute to the shortfall in municipal infrastructure funding.
Mr. Chair, after four years, I cannot accept that long-awaited action plans and strategies will solve a problem that only cash can fix. Our communities are tired of waiting for this government to live up to its own funding commitments and its own funding formula. This additional resource will create jobs, drive economic growth, and prevent local governments from raising taxes or reducing services for their residents. This budget is the last opportunity to invest in community infrastructure, and without any increases to CPI funding, I cannot support it on principle. Northerners expect their governments to live up to their commitments and keep their promises. This is our own community funding formula. This is no one else's. The fact that it remains, that this gap has not been plugged over our time in office, is unacceptable to me and unacceptable to my constituents.
The Minister knows he has the votes to pass this capital plan, but I will not be one of them. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters August 22nd, 2019
Thank you, Mr. Chair. Committee would like to consider Tabled Document 511-18(3): Capital Estimates 2020-2021. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Hay River North, that Committee Report 37-18(3), Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on Transition Matters, be received and adopted by the Assembly. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, your Standing Committee on Government Operations is pleased to provide its record on transition matters and commends it to the House. I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Hay River North, that Committee Report 37-18(3) be deemed read and printed in Hansard in its entirety. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery August 22nd, 2019
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I, too, would like to recognize Chief Ed Sangris. I haven't had the chance to congratulate him in person, so I am doing it now. You are getting a lot of love today, Chief, and it is well-deserved. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Tax Incentives to Support Economic Development August 22nd, 2019
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I rise to speak on the subject of tax incentives. Tax incentives are an effective way to stimulate and encourage certain types of economic behaviour for both the private sector and households alike. In the NWT, we have, on average, a 97-percent tax filing rate for residents, which means that any changes to the tax code will directly affect almost all Northerners, and if we do it right, tax breaks will put more money into the pockets of Northerners.
We, as a territory, need to address the deficiency of investment capital flowing into the jurisdiction, among other issues, if we are to reverse the down ward economic growth that still grips our territory. Appropriately targeted tax credits, if implemented by the next Assembly, can lay the foundation for a prosperous upturn in our economy.
Incentivizing research and development would encourage research institutions to invest and spend here in the NWT, giving the territory useful and long-lasting relationships with educational institutions from all around the world, in turn stimulating made-in-the-North innovations.
Increasing our competitiveness would bring in countless secondary and tertiary effects into our economy, allowing the NWT to stand its own against larger southern jurisdictions. It is expensive to live in the North, and employers will tell you that it can be frighteningly expensive to retain skilled employees.
Properly targeted tax incentives can help alleviate this burden, which, in turn, will pump more money into the local economy, in a way of reinvesting tax dollars into our communities.
Appropriately targeted tax credits can work to benefit investment, family finances, innovation, economic growth, and societal behavioural shifts. We are at a precipice. We, and the next Assembly, must take swift and concrete action to address our shrinking economy; otherwise, we risk seeing further cuts to services, a shrinking population, and an ever-growing higher cost of living, all of which needs to be urgently addressed by the future government.
Mr. Speaker, these issues I raise today in our penultimate session because I have been raising them for a long time, and it doesn't seem like the approach of the GNWT has been to pursue tax credits as a way to incentivize behaviour and to move things along in our economy. It needs to be done. We need to take a different approach, because what we are doing just isn't working. Thank you.
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