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Last in the Legislative Assembly November 2003, as MLA for North Slave

Lost his last election, in 2003, with 25% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Committee Motion 144-14(6): To Amend Clause 13 Of Bill 34, Carried October 10th, 2003

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I also want to speak on this and support it. Also I would like to tell my constituents who are up there, from the day this legislation came in front of the committee, there was support from my colleagues right from day one. The only problem they had was the process. They suggested that we go through the regular process as a government or a territory. That is one of the things that they needed to do. As I mentioned in my statement yesterday, this wasn't a normal process. I am glad that they, at the end of the day, agreed with us and we dealt with it in the House as a legislature. Sometimes we have to make hard decisions. We've made a lot of decisions in this House. We made one today earlier. We must have pushed some buttons, but still that's the way it works in this House. We don't always agree on what one another does, but we do get over it sometimes. We as legislators sit around this table, people see us and hear us and they know we are doing it for the benefit of people out there. Today, it is for the Tlicho.

The next Assembly, it might be for the Deh Cho and the Akaitcho. We might have to sit around and say what is the normal procedure? That's the day we are going to decide are we going to go through it the way we did with the Tlicho or are we going the long process? This is an agreement that was made by three parties, so it doesn't matter what we said or what we did, there are some pieces of the agreement that we couldn't have changed anyway. Maybe some of the legislation at the end of the dates and times of the effective dates, we would probably have changed those. On one hand, public consultation is a great thing. They did go through that. They did go through 12 years. You have to congratulate all the people who were part of it. We had Cabinet representatives for the last three or four assemblies that were part of it. It took that long to complete this agreement and they have to be congratulated. There are many departments involved. Those people have to be congratulated. The Dogrib negotiators have to be congratulated, as well as the chiefs who were out there. There were many chiefs. Some of the chiefs are not around who were part of it. Some of the elders who were involved in it are no longer around. So those people have to be thought about and congratulated. Their families should be congratulated. So I don't want to carry on and on.

I will just say that thanks to my colleagues for the support right from day one. Thank you.

---Applause

Motion 21-14(6): Censure Of The Minister Of Health And Social Services, Defeated October 10th, 2003

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I also stand to support the motion. I also have reasons to support the motion to at least make a point to this government that although they say they've done a lot of good things, they've failed in some areas. That area is in health. There are other areas, it's just that we didn't have enough time in this House to put more censures out there. We could pretty easily censure the whole Cabinet, but it's the last day of the House.

This government here has been throwing money out towards diamonds, oil and gas. We're also funding large communities for parks, boat launches, marinas, you know? Who in the Northwest Territories except the largest centres can afford to have a marina for boats over 30 feet? If they can have a boat over 30 feet, they should be able to afford their own boat launch or boat marina. Yet we throw money into it. This government is doing that.

We don't have any health centres in some of the communities in the Northwest Territories. We don't have any addiction centres in the North Slave. The only addiction centre in Hay River is in dispute with its staff and there's going to be nobody helping the North one day. These are the things that are happening. We have communities that have laypersons working there. They can't deal with emergencies. Emergency situations have to be phoned into Yellowknife. Sometimes when you phone Yellowknife to see if you can get a medevac they say, well, you have to go to your authority. When they go to the authority, the authority says you have to go to Yellowknife. They get the run around and sometimes there's an emergency situation that nobody can help them with. A Member tries to intervene, but then he can only go to the Minister. The Ministers turn their cell phones and phones off at midnight, I think, because they don't answer the phones when you phone them.

I'd like to say this is a good motion. I think my colleagues in one way or another have already run through some of the issues. Maybe not health, but they can see this government is throwing a lot of money out there for economic development and, as you know, economic development creates social problems. We are not putting any money into that area. Sure, we have these conferences, we have the social agenda, we have all these things going on, all these meetings, but if you can't give somebody a place where they can help themselves then it's sort of worthless.

I know some people we hear are trying to help people in shopping carts. They've got all their materials in shopping carts going room to room in their offices. In this time and day of technology and all the money we're throwing around, I'm sure we could throw a little bit towards promoting health.

Another area that is a great concern of mine, we've gone through family acts and we've gone through the child and welfare acts where we're trying to promote healthy families. We see the frontline workers out there are apprehending children without trying to help the families stay together. We put the act in and then the employees at the frontline are just going against the act. They're sending our children south without telling us. I'm sure glad this self-government act is coming in now. At least we have control over the people that we are governing.

Because of this and because of all the negative things that are happening and we're just throwing money towards...How do you put it? Take from the poor, give it to the rich. That's what we've been doing the last few years. Sure, it looks when you stand up and say, well, we're putting this much money into Yellowknife, this much money into Yellowknife, this much money into Yellowknife. It's repetitive. We see that. We leave this House and we're hoping the Minister will make a statement that there's going to be a new addiction centre in the North Slave to help the people north of the lake. It still hasn't happened. But we see money is being spent. Millions of dollars in supplementaries go into other areas, but what are we doing for the families out there? We are not doing anything.

So because of the lack of help for the small communities and the poor management that we have, I'm supporting this motion and I hope my colleagues can at least support this motion because one day they might be in the same situation. Then they're going to want support from this side of the House from the smaller communities. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 425-14(6): Clawback Of Impact Benefit Agreement Payments October 10th, 2003

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. About a year-and-a-half ago, the Minister stood up in the House and said he had a legal opinion on this. Now he is saying they are not sure what the legal issues will be around them. The legal opinion he had was publicly funded. Why is he withholding the legal opinion from the public? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 425-14(6): Clawback Of Impact Benefit Agreement Payments October 10th, 2003

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Minister is right in saying there are programs out there to help these people, but the impact benefit agreement is based on the land claims agreement and this is compensation for the loss of the use of the land. If this is something that they are entitled to, why is he clawing it back when others in Canada aren't? Why is he wishing to be so different? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 425-14(6): Clawback Of Impact Benefit Agreement Payments October 10th, 2003

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to ask the Minister as he is now aware, a colleague of mine put in his statement that Alberta does not claw back. If Alberta is not clawing back, Newfoundland is not clawing back, why is this Minister and his department so set on clawing this money back from the people that need it the most, the people on income support? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 425-14(6): Clawback Of Impact Benefit Agreement Payments October 10th, 2003

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the Honourable Jake Ootes, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment. As it is the Minister's last day in the House and this will be the last time I am able to ask him this question, which I have asked for the last three-and-a-half years, will he make arrangements so that impact benefit agreements are not clawed back as part of the clawback the Minister has initiated in his department? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Item 5: Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery October 10th, 2003

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Once again, I would like to recognize my constituents from the North Slave; the aboriginal leaders from the North Slave; and, other people who are back there that I can't see. Thank you.

---Applause

Honouring Commitments To The North Slave Region October 10th, 2003

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Premier made reference to the comment he made in Rae-Edzo. On August 25th, in front of the Prime Minister, in front of all the government officials and witnesses to the signing of the Tlicho land claim, he stated, if you take care of the Tlicho, the Tlicho will take care of you. The Premier went on to say that these words apply to this government in particular.

Mr. Speaker, these are strong words. Unfortunately, over the past four years I have seen numerous government studies, plans and reports dating back 10 years which have overlooked the North Slave riding. Some of these documents and studies include the highway strategy, Corridors to Canada document, the energy strategy, and the Health and Social Services action plan.

Mr. Speaker, last week in the House the Premier acknowledged my relentless pursuit over the past four years for improvements on Highway No. 3 and road access to the smaller communities in my region. Has Cabinet listened and responded? No. The highway is still in terrible shape and there are still no plans for roads to the small communities.

Mr. Speaker, there is an opportunity for the Premier to go beyond lip service with his reference to a strong partnership with the Tlicho. As this Assembly is winding down, transition documents are being created for the next Assembly. I urge the Premier to make sure that the best interests of the North Slave are considered by including in this document:

  • • plans for an addiction centre in the North Slave;
  • • policy changes for housing programs;
  • • changes to the highway strategy; and,
  • • the establishment of health service delivery standards throughout the North.

These are all areas which I have brought up. These are areas of ongoing concern. When he talked about the land claim, the Premier commented that the Tlicho have taken a bold step to say we were partnered with this government. I only hope that this government will walk with the people of the North Slave and ensure that they are included in government plans, strategies and reports. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Bill 34: Tlicho Land Claims And Self-government Agreement Act October 9th, 2003

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As you know, the gallery is filled with a lot of people, most of them are from the Tlicho region. They are here to witness an historic event, like some of my colleagues said. I would like to speak on a number of items that my colleagues spoke on.

First of all they're saying the normal process that this government should work on. Well, over the four years there have been a lot of decisions made in this House and outside of this House which are not normal processes. We've seen acts and bills come and go. Just yesterday we decided on one bill without consulting with the communities out there and this was a bill for official languages. The Department of Education, Culture and Employment made changes to a bill that was put forward by a committee which consulted with all of the Northwest Territories, but it wasn't taken into consideration that they should take it back to the people again because of the amendments and the changes. But it was done, it was dealt with in this House. That's one good example.

Another good example is the Human Rights Act. The request from one community for this committee to go there to have consultation was denied.

So I know my colleagues have concerns, they have a job to do, they need to communicate with their people, but when they say they need to go through the normal process I don't agree with them. This is not a normal process.

Like my colleague from Tu Nedhe said, this is an agreement between three parties, and we had representation there from the territorial government. Cabinet had a department in there; Aboriginal Affairs negotiated on behalf of this government. And it's not new. For the last 12 years you have read the paper, you have heard on the radio, you knew what was going on, everyone knew what was going on. If there were concerns before this date, why weren't those concerns brought up to their MLAs? Their MLAs were available. If they thought their rights were going to be affected, why didn't they come forward at that time? I don't see how that can be used as an argument.

We know that there are concerns that we're taking a shortcut. No, it's not. This is just another one of the bills that we think should go this route because that's the route that should be taken. We think it's the right way to do it. It's been there for 12 years. No other bill in this House has been put forward with that length of time, consultation and negotiation; no bill at all. So you have to take that and look at it in a different way.

Sometimes the things that are important, as mentioned from one of my colleagues in this document, yes, there are lots of important things in here. But this is the Tlicho self-government legislation. It's for the Tlicho people, how they govern themselves. So I'm sure that there are concerns out there, but if the concerns are not coming from the Tlicho people, then why should we from the outside say that the government here says well, we have a concern but nothing has been put forward by the Tlicho people. They ratified it unanimously.

Today we're going to be putting this forward as legislation. Everyone has been at all the celebrations, the signing. Most of the government here has been at the signing. We must have agreed to something when we went over there to initial it and sign it. We had to. Why today are we saying that it's not a normal process? We all know that it's been happening. Some Members in this House say it's a numbers game. Of course it's a numbers game. I and my colleague from Mackenzie Delta lost three votes in this House this week. Of course it's a numbers game. That's how government works, the majority wins. So using arguments like that are not something that should slow down something that is very important to people of the Dogrib region.

Yesterday we agreed that we would change the name in the Languages Act, to Tlicho from Dogrib. We all agreed. We all recognized that they had a right. That right today is going to be exercised and we're going to go forward with it and all we need is the federal government to ratify this then the Tlicho people can go forward and govern themselves. We will be their partners at the territorial government, so will the federal government.

We hear arguments that it might affect the rights of other aboriginal groups. Well, at one time there were differences. The groups didn't agree, but they sat down, they negotiated. They were able to negotiate the overlaps, the boundaries. Now they're working hand in hand in the economic development areas and all that. I'm sure the Metis group from the North Slave, whenever they come to the table with the federal government and the territorial government, I'm sure the Tlicho people will be there by their side to support them because they will be going forward with their own agreement. They're recognized as a group that has rights to hunts, trap and harvest. So I'm sure the Tlicho people will be on their side to support them.

The act itself says that there's the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That's how they feel their right is written. You know, in any part of this governance act they can come forward with it. But if you really look at the whole picture and the whole act, it's for the Tlicho citizens. If you're a Tlicho citizen and you live in Yellowknife, you have a right to be governed under that act, it doesn't matter where you live. But the Tlicho government is not going to go into Yellowknife and tell non-aboriginal people this is what you have to do. No, they don't have a right to do that.

When you make a decision on this today, you have to consider that. This is an act, a bill that is to govern themselves, not to govern other people. The area where it's going to come into effect, where the governance model might affect some people would be in the next piece of legislation. At that time maybe we will have time for this government to do public consultation. But this ratification was done for all three of them, so you still have to take that into consideration, as well, when it comes to that time.

So in order to do this more effectively, the next turn we get at legislation for community governance, maybe the MLAs should be more proactive and start going forward, because the documents are there now, and start talking with their constituents. In that way, they can have their consultation. If the government cannot make it out there, then the MLAs should be out there doing it. Because to this date I haven't heard any concerns from anyone, outside of the North Slave Metis Alliance, that have been raised about the Tlicho governance.

So I will have to say that we have to go forward with this legislation. It's not a short time, it's a new kind of way of making legislation. It's done, it's a done deal. They've signed on the dotted lines over and over, initialed, signed. We've been there. We had Mr. Kakfwi there, we had Mr. Antoine there, we had Members from this side of the House that were there. We knew what was happening. We can't say anyone didn't know.

To finish it off, I have to say that there are groups on all sides of the Tlicho and the Tlicho are in the middle. They've made arrangements with all of them. So far the negotiations they've done must have been positive because nobody else is coming back and saying it's a bad deal. So I'll have to encourage all my colleagues in this House that we have to pass this. We have the people up there waiting for our positive decision for an historical day. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Question 423-14(6): Main Street Paving Program October 9th, 2003

Thank you. I'm glad for the answer of the Minister, but the point I was getting at was if they could consider that Edzo and Rae are two separate communities under one municipality. Thank you.