Last in the Legislative Assembly September 1995, as MLA for Mackenzie Delta
Lost his last election, in 1995, with 28% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Mr. Nerysoo's Reply December 17th, 1991
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I do not want to deviate, I guess, too much from some of the accolades that have been given to the government, but the fact is that I probably will. First of all as everyone knows I have not been here for a week, but I do not apologize for not being here. The fact is that I was asked by the Gwich'in Nation to represent them and negotiate a transboundary agreement which we successfully concluded with the Nacho Nyak Dun in Mayo with regard to transboundary relationships and transboundary land use. I am sure proud to say that I actually headed up the negotiations to conclude that arrangement.
Now Mr. Speaker, I have not had the opportunity to hear what many have had to say about the issues related to the Beatty report, nor have I participated in the discussions that are related to that particular report. But I do want to say to the government, that while the intentions of the Beatty committee were probably necessary in trying to streamline government and try to reduce overall cost to our government by making recommendations of streamlining, I still think that it is important for our government and the Members in this House to realize that streamlining is not always necessarily the best way of delivering better programs, and that streamlining itself can be as much a reduction in the quality of service and programs that are to be offered to the people.
I think that you would be more cautious about the approach that has been taken of jumping into every recommendation without a bit of caution. Not to suggest that what the government has indicated and is pursuing in terms of overall cost reductions to our government is not a laudable goal and a laudable direction to take, but I do caution you in terms of accepting every recommendation on its face value, because the fact is that you could be causing more problems in the communities than you really, really want to.
Oil And Gas Industry In The Mackenzie/Beaufort
I want to say, Mr. Speaker, that there are a number of issues that I want to deal with. I know that our Government Leader is well aware of the economic problems as is the case in the Northwest Territories, but more so in the Mackenzie Delta and the Beaufort regions where we have had a significant downturn in our economy as a result of the oil and gas industry completely removing itself. I guess I should say that I am happy that some initiative has been taken by Shell Oil and a couple of the companies that are returning. But, nonetheless, I still want to say that I do not want to put all my eggs in that basket again, because the fact is that we are never certain that there is going to be total success in the oil and gas industry unless there is commitment by the federal government to insert a tremendous amount of financial resources as they have done in the eastern offshore and into Saskatchewan and Alberta under the Western Accord. I think that only if those circumstances exist, will we find any confidence in the oil and gas industry to return to the level that they did in the mid-70s. I do not think that until that commitment is made by our federal government that we will see an initiative of a substantial nature that occurred at that time.
Development Of Porcupine Caribou Calving Area
I also want to say that I have heard a lot about this idea of the Porcupine Caribou calving area and the attempts on the part of the Inupiaq, encouraging the development of 10-02 lands which is the calving area for the Porcupine Caribou herd. I know that while the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation is involved in promoting that, I have to take the view of opposing the developments in that particular area. If anything, I would be out trying to encourage the development of the Mackenzie Delta oil and gas fields.
I would not be encouraging the development of an area as sensitive as the Porcupine Caribou calving area because I think the resources are available for us to develop. It is now a matter of us trying to find a way to encourage the oil and gas industry to come back into the Delta to access the resources that are available. In that context, I have a different position and I wanted to make that public so that it is clear.
It is also quite similar to the Inuvialuit Game Council which has taken the position of opposing the development of the Porcupine Caribou calving area. I think what is interesting is that despite the position that has been taken by the Inupiaq to develop the calving area -- 10-02 lands as we call them in the Delta and the Gwich'in -- is that they are opposed to offshore development in the Beaufort in their area for the very reason that we are opposed to the development in the calving area. That is, they are concerned about protecting their ability to harvest sea mammals and fish, and to protect that habitat the same way that we are concerned about the caribou herd and the protection of the habitat calving area in the northern part of Alaska and northern Yukon. I just want to make that information available to you because it seems that we are at cross purposes. I think that even though we have similar goals, the fact is that we are taking different positions because of the areas in which we live. I have to say that clearly and I do not want to in any way give the impression that I am totally opposed to the idea of some developments, but I am opposed to the ones that could possibly do damage to the calving areas.
As I indicated, I would be more acceptable and more supportive of the idea of developing oil and gas resources here in the Northwest Territories where we can access employment opportunities and business opportunities. I would be more open to this.
Extension Of Mackenzie Highway
I want to say that in a number of issues we have raised here regarding transportation, there is an attempt on our part, and even in the Delta, to pursue the idea of the Mackenzie Highway. I support the idea of the construction of the Mackenzie Highway, but I want to say that the people of Aklavik still do want to have some commitment on the part of our government to conclude the construction of the highway from the Dempster to Aklavik. This is the position that they have taken. I just want to say that there was a petition that was tabled in this House during the last Assembly. It was signed by a number of people in Fort McPherson who supported the construction of that project in support of the residents of Aklavik. I just hope that if we could consider the ideas that have been raised by Mr. Koe who suggested a possible break-up of various portions of construction projects that maybe we could look at the idea of breaking up the idea of the Dempster lateral, as we might call it, not referring to the pipeline or anything like that. We might consider, at least initially, the construction of a road to the gravel source in Aklavik at Willow River.
I know our Government Leader knows of the location, but the argument has been raised that it has potential for not only access to year-round gravel source, but it has potential for long-term tourist attraction. Allowing the availability to the mountains is something that should be considered in terms of that economic project.
I want to, on a more complimentary note to our government and the former Minister of Economic Development who unfortunately was not successful in his re-election bid, compliment him on his effort in trying to conclude with the development corporation the canvass project. We are at a stage now that we can say it is almost completed and ready for opening.
I want to say to the Government Leader who served as Minister of Health that even though we had our differences about the delivery of the service, I want to pass along to her and to the present Minister, our appreciation for the efforts with regard to the health centre that has been completed in Fort McPherson.
Services To Arctic Red River
I know we want to compliment our government for their efforts in renting space in the buildings that have been constructed in the various communities. Arctic Red River, Mr. Speaker, is still seeking some commitment of improved services by our government. I hope I can work with our Government Leader and the various Ministers to improve the manner in which we deliver services to that particular community. Even though it is a community of some 150 to 200 people, there is still the need to improve the quality of services that are available normally to most residents of the Northwest Territories. They are not necessarily asking for significant more dollars as opposed to trying to find ways to deliver this service right in the community and amalgamating the number of responsibilities even in some of the positions they would like you to consider. They think it is necessary to consider the cost to government and cost to the community. They do not have a problem with the idea and the concerns that this government has.
Mr. Speaker, I want to get on to an area in which, in many ways, I have a difference of opinion with a great deal of Members in this House. This particular matter deals with the issue of self-government for aboriginal people. I want to say to you, to Members of this House and to the people of the Northwest Territories, I do not disagree that there is a need for some central government in the Northwest Territories. What causes me the greatest concern is this notion that this is the government that is going to be in existence four or five years from now. The fact is that even according to our own NWT Act, we have gone beyond what is to be the restriction of powers in this government. Section 17 says, "nothing in section 16 which deals with all the powers shall be construed as giving the Commissioner-in-Council greater powers with respect to any class of subjects described therein than are given to the Legislatures of the provinces under sections 92 and 95 of the Constitution Act, 1867 with respect to similar subjects therein described."
I have raised this on a number of occasions in this House as to how we could continue in light of this particular section, and in light of section 91 which is generally the federal powers. Section 91 deals with Indians and Indian lands. Section 91 is nowhere referred to in this particular part of our act, yet we are in fact making decisions and passing laws that apply directly to aboriginal people that our own legislation says we do not have jurisdiction in, and many people think that I am a little crazy for getting up here and disagreeing sometimes that we should try to settle this issue, but the fact is that if our own constitution, and I mean the NWT Act, says that we cannot do certain things then I question whether or not we really have jurisdiction in those areas.
I do not want to say that I oppose the idea of this government or this Assembly if the fact is that we are being treated as a department, as one says, responsible on behalf of the Department of Indian Affairs delivering the programs, but the fact is that I see this government as being more than just a department. I see this Assembly as being more than just a department. I think that we have been given what you might say are, constitutionally, certain powers that we have a responsibility to enact upon. I think that if we go beyond that then my feeling is that we are going beyond the actual jurisdiction that we have. That is not to suggest that the federal government cannot provide us with additional administrative responsibility, but I think we should be cautious about how far we think or what kinds of powers we think we have and reassess our own legal status with regard to aboriginal people. Our own history shows that land claims and self-government discussions do not go on between this government and aboriginal people, they go on between the aboriginal people and the federal government.
I want to make people aware that the fact is that First Nations, and maybe more so the Council for Yukon Indians, have set an example of the matters that are going to be dealt with in future self-government arrangements. I have had an opportunity to negotiate, again on behalf of the Gwich'in Nation, on matters dealing with self-government. Every one of these issues, interestingly, is the subject of negotiation under that agreement. Under the first nation agreement, self-government agreement, institutions or structures will be defined by the first nations themselves through the constitution, which will not be subject to approval by other levels of government. First Nations will have law-making power on settlement lands, including zoning, land development, environmental protection, as well as licensing, regulating businesses, trades and professional peoples. First Nations will have select powers over their citizens on and off settlement lands in areas such as health, native language programs and education. Laws of the Yukon Government will continue to apply until the first nation passes its own laws to replace them.
The fact is that this is the basis on which, in my opinion, many first nations, including the Gwich'in Nation, will negotiate its relationship with the federal government. The First Nations, even in this particular case, have agreed not to exercise law-making powers during a five-year transition period, but after that transition period is over they will have the ultimate authority to pass their own laws. I want to say to you that their own financing arrangement is a multi-year funding agreement with the federal government, not with the Government of the Yukon -- their funding agreement is direct, same as our formula financing arrangement, with the Government of Canada. Their agreements, I must inform you, are five-year agreements, not three-year agreements.
I will be tabling the draft document, which is basically the foundation of their future agreements, and I know will be the foundation for aboriginal First Nations in the Northwest Territories because the Gwich'in will be, in fact, pursuing an agreement very similar to this particular agreement, and I do not want people to get the impression that even though we are pursuing an improved relationship with this government that the Gwich'in are going to retract from the negotiations direct, including all these aspects that have been included, including their jurisdiction with the federal government. I wanted you to be aware of that, and you will note from the document how substantive that relationship is with the federal government. I did not want you people here to get the impression that this idea that we are pursuing of self-government is insignificant or, for that matter, of no relevance to the status of this government, because the fact is that they will have significance that is almost similar in many respects to the same kind of jurisdiction that our own Assembly has, but it may apply either, depending on negotiations, to the aboriginal people or, in conjunction with this government, to the citizens that reside in the particular area.
I just wanted you to be aware of that so there is no confusion about, first of all, where I stand and, secondly, where the Gwich'in Nation will be going in terms of this particular matter. These are the issues in the self-government agreement, and they will be a matter that will probably set out, along with the Yukon First Nations agreement being the guide, the relationship between aboriginal first nations in the Northwest Territories and the Government of the Northwest Territories. Just so that you will be aware. That is all I have to say. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Government Leader if she could indicate to this House if there has been a change in the status of the deputy minister of Economic Development and Tourism and at what time did that status change.
I wish to ask the Minister responsible for the Workers' Compensation Board, whether he could make available to Members of this House the memorandum of agreement regarding the removal of hunters and trappers from coverage from the Workers' Compensation Act.
Motion 11-12(1): Appointments To The Standing Committee On Finance, Carried November 15th, 1991
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker:
WHEREAS it is required by Rule 86 that a standing committee on finance be appointed;
NOW THEREFORE, I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Iqaluit, that Mr. Antoine, Mr. Bernhardt, Mr. Dent, Mrs. Marie-Jewell, Ms. Mike, Mr. Todd and Mr. Zoe be appointed as Members of the standing committee on finance;
AND FURTHER, that Mr. Arngna'naaq, Mr. Arvaluk and Mr. Gargan be named alternates to the standing committee on finance.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I wish to seek unanimous consent to deal with my motion today on the matter of appointments to the standing committee on finance.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker:
WHEREAS it is required by Rule 86 that a standing committee on agencies, boards and commissions be appointed;
NOW THEREFORE, I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Nunakput, that Mr. Antoine, Mr. Arvaluk, Mr. Dent, Mr. Koe, Mr. Lewis, Mrs. Marie-Jewell and Mr. Todd be appointed as Members of the standing committee on agencies, boards and commissions;
AND FURTHER, that Mr. Bernhardt, Ms. Mike and Mr. Nerysoo be named alternates to the standing committee on agencies, boards and commissions.
Motion 9-12(1): Appointments To The Standing Committee On Legislation, Carried November 15th, 1991
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would seek unanimous consent to deal with my motion today on the matter of appointments to the standing committee on agencies, boards and commissions.
Notice Of Motion 11-12(1): Appointments To The Standing Committee On Finance November 15th, 1991
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I give notice that on November 19, 1991, I will move the following motion: Now therefore, I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Nunakput, that Mr. Antoine, Mr. Bernhardt, Mr. Dent, Mrs. Marie-Jewell, Ms. Mike, Mr. Todd and Mr. Zoe be appointed as Members of the standing committee on finance; and further, that Mr. Arngna'naaq, Mr. Arvaluk and Mr. Gargan be named alternates to the standing committee on finance.
Mr. Speaker, I will be requesting, at the appropriate time, unanimous consent to deal with this particular motion today.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I give notice that on November 19, 1991, I will move the following motion: Now therefore, I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Iqaluit, Mr. Patterson, that Mr. Antoine, Mr. Arvaluk, Mr. Dent, Mr. Koe, Mr. Lewis, Mrs. Marie-Jewell and Mr. Todd be appointed as Members of the standing committee on agencies, boards and commissions; and further, that Mr. Bernhardt, Ms. Mike and Mr. Nerysoo be named alternates to the standing committee on agencies, boards and commissions.
Mr. Speaker, I will be requesting, at the appropriate time, unanimous consent to deal with this particular motion today.
Motion 8-12(1): Election Of Deputy Speaker, Carried November 14th, 1991
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker:
WHEREAS in accordance with section 40(1) of the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act a Deputy Speaker shall be elected;
NOW THEREFORE, I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Aivilik, Mr. Arvaluk, that Mr. Pudluk, Member for High Arctic, be appointed Deputy Speaker.
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