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Last in the Legislative Assembly October 2004, as MLA for Inuvik Twin Lakes

Won his last election, in 2003, with 55% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Question 199-15(3): Supporting Traditional Harvesting Lifestyle June 2nd, 2004

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We quite often talk amongst ourselves about the importance of supporting the renewable resource sector, but I haven't seen any dialogue to date on the level of discussions. Is the Minister continuing to dialogue with the aboriginal corporation on the Gwich'in Tribal Council to try to enhance some of their motions that were presented during their board of directors meetings to facilitate and promote the renewable resource sector? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 199-15(3): Supporting Traditional Harvesting Lifestyle June 2nd, 2004

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In the context of the Minister's reply, I want to commend the department for their continued support of the fur harvesters' program, fur pricing program. I think it's important as well to make the Minister aware that even though there is some renewed interest in how they are going to address the renewable resource sector, I still think it's important that they consider the fact that we need to have the same level of investment in the renewable resource sector to mitigate some of the socioeconomic impacts that the pipeline proposal would bring, so we can continue to enhance that level of lifestyle. I certainly hope the Minister would respond to the question of whether his department would support this subsistence-based lifestyle that is enjoyed by most communities and will be directly impacted by the pipeline. Thank you.

Question 199-15(3): Supporting Traditional Harvesting Lifestyle June 2nd, 2004

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In my Member's statement, I made reference to seasonal and healthy lifestyles enjoyed by the people of the Mackenzie Delta and elsewhere across the Territories. I want to ask the Minister of RWED if he would assess the priority of his department, so that we can have a designated renewable resource economist assigned to the Inuvik region. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Spring Activities In The Delta Region June 2nd, 2004

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In the course of our time, we spend a huge amount of time trying to deal with the major social problems and the costs associated with those problems and very seldom finding corrective methods to deal with them.

There is one aspect of our lifestyle in the Northwest Territories that is very important to indigenous Northerners, and those who understand the value of a renewable resource lifestyle would understand my statement today.

Mr. Speaker, in the history of the Mackenzie Delta, we have over 25,000 lakes, approximately 125,000 kilometres of waterways, and I have been told by a hydrologist that about one million gallons of water flows on a per-second basis out from the Mackenzie Delta, which is the 12th largest delta in the world, into the Beaufort Sea area.

The point I am trying to make today, Mr. Speaker, is we are concluding the annual muskrat hunting season. People are beginning to look at moving into town to celebrate their harvest levels. They go to RWED to get their fur cheques and advances. They celebrate for a few weeks and prepare to go into the oil camps in early July and to their fish camps to make dry fish. We get to participate in some tourism activities that occur along the Mackenzie Delta waterways, along the Dempster Highway. I am going to say before we travel back home that I would like to congratulate all those Members who participate in this annual muskrat spring hunting season. I know I have done that many times in our history and I see the Member for Mackenzie Delta smiling because we quite often cross paths in many waterways in the Mackenzie Delta.

Mr. Speaker, I am sure there are many, many stories told of one another as they climb different riverbanks and watch the ice floes go by. It becomes a story in itself. We would like to, at some point, in the near future, invite the Minister of RWED because I was told he has very little experience...

---Laughter

I think it would be a good opportunity for him to come out and learn the hunting and trapping across our vast lands here in the Mackenzie Delta and the Deh Cho.

Finally, I want to wish everyone back home a very joyous summer and especially have a safe boating season. We always seem to have some tragedy on the river and in the waterways. So I encourage you to have a safe summer. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Question 184-15(3): Highway Contract Concerns June 1st, 2004

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Perhaps in recognition that the Minister may not be in receipt of the same letter, I want to assure the Minister that we are in receipt of a letter as recent as this morning. So I just wanted to have the Minister confirm if he is willing to follow up to that initial meeting to ascertain what the problems are that may have occurred in the last two weeks between the department officials and the Gwich'in Tribal Council. Thank you.

Question 184-15(3): Highway Contract Concerns June 1st, 2004

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is not often that we would debate an issue of a sentence. In the Minister's statement today there was reference made to a specific economic development matter that respects, and it goes on and on. I won't quote it all, but it is important to know that the Minister's statement is in contrast to actions taken by the Department of Transportation with respect to MOUs signed between the Gwich'in and the Government of the Northwest Territories on a highway contract in Inuvik. I want to ask the Minister of Transportation if he is willing to sit down with the president of the Gwich'in Tribal Council to resolve all the outstanding concerns that are included in the letter. Would he do that? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Congratulations To New Speaker And Cabinet Member June 1st, 2004

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of my constituents in Inuvik Twin Lakes and all of the people of the Northwest Territories, to offer congratulations to you as our new Speaker. I want to extend our well wishes and convey our confidence in your role as the Speaker of this Assembly. Also, Mr. Speaker, I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate Mr. Krutko, the newly-elected Cabinet Minister for the north region of this Assembly. I look forward to working with Mr. Krutko on a number of issues that impacts or affects the Mackenzie Delta region.

Mr. Speaker, the democratic process we have in Canada is a world envy. It is known that we have the ability to speak freely and without fear of retribution. Therefore, I know you will require us to uphold this level of excellence. Again, I congratulate both of you. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Motion 8-15(3): Pursuit Of Provincehood For The Northwest Territories, Defeated May 31st, 2004

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It gives me great pleasure today to speak to the motion that I put forward. Mr. Speaker, the bill of intent is an alternative to devolution. The Premier has clearly advocated to the northern leaders and in his travels, and I want to state some of his replies to a number of questions back in the early part of the session. I am just going to paraphrase a number of statements he made. He is clear about...(inaudible)..."We are looking for arrangements similar to what the provinces have where the people of the North are responsible for the land, the resources of the North and we have a fair resource revenue sharing agreement."

He points out also that how negotiations are split between the Department of Northern Affairs who is handling the devolution of powers and the Department of Finance, which is looking after the royalty issue. This is a fatal flaw in the view of Handley who insists that the territory is not interested in seeing more responsibilities and costs without an agreement for resource revenue sharing. In finality, he says this has been going on far too long, let's get on with it.

Mr. Speaker, my riding of Inuvik Twin Lakes, as I stated in my reply to opening address, in which I stated very emphatically they want political transformation and it's discouraging to them the time it takes the Government of Canada to make a commitment to devolution and resource revenue sharing.

I want to point out that this motion states that people want political transformation and this is one method of achieving it. The procedural format is fairly standard, Mr. Speaker. What is important in the context of this statement is that it is time to get ownership of the lands and resources and control as a Premier. There was a statement several months ago that it takes 30 to 50 years to assume ownership, but that was 100 years ago, Mr. Speaker. In today's high tech era, it shouldn't take that long with the way information flows back and forth. I think it's incumbent upon ourselves as legislators in the Northwest Territories to really emphasize the need to gain ownership, otherwise we are going to be like the other two territories where they will take out the minerals, have a tremendous amount of resource revenue and at the end of the day, which could be 30 to 50 years after the lands are depleted of their wealth, we will assume the liabilities. I think that has occurred in the past with Giant Mine and perhaps this year with Con Mine. There are a number of other gold mines that are laying dormant that have environmental issues relating to them that extend not only into the Territories, but other provinces as well.

So we need to look in the context of this motion at our place in Canada that goes beyond resource and revenue sharing, but also addresses our sovereignty issue. I don't think we are any different from Quebec. Quebec has often called for referendums to secede from Canada. I don't

think we want to go that far, but we certainly want to have the public interest of Canadians to support our ongoing initiative to try to work through to provincehood.

We also need to address the essential points, Mr. Speaker, in the sense that we need to plant a seed. Currently we sit under the federal statute. Let me cross-reference a number of issues in terms of our Legislative Assembly. The two major differences between the legislative powers of the territories and that of the powers of provincehood are the powers of the provinces to amend their constitution and control the management and sale of public lands.

The Constitution of 1982 grants each province the power to amend its own constitution. The constitution of the Northwest Territories is the Northwest Territories Act, which is a federal statute. Therefore, only the Prime Minister of Canada has the right to amend the constitution of the Northwest Territories.

That's why it's important, Mr. Speaker, in trying to redress our constitutional issue that we ask the Premier to take this and work with the federal government and also the Premiers to see if we can garner support for the Northwest Territories. Hopefully the Yukon and Nunavut will embrace such an undertaking and initiative.

I might add, Mr. Speaker, other addendums are in effect as well, and each province has the sale and management of public lands. Those lands in the Territories remain Crown, which is federal land. Aboriginal governments who settle land claims are also large land owners. Unlike a province, the three territories do not have the power to deal with the lands within their boundaries. That's a key issue, Mr. Speaker. If we are going to promote and work with industry and we talk about partnerships with aboriginal governments, I don't think we have the constitutional framework to do that. I think it really translates into a meaningless way in how we govern ourselves. We don't want to deal in the past tense, Mr. Speaker.

We want to deal with the future, what the future of the Territories evolves into. That's important. We need to realize that as long as we remain under a federal statute, we have no methodology to develop a way we can generate revenues outside of what is given to this government through federal/territorial transfers. I sympathize with the Minister of Finance who goes down to Ottawa and other major cities across Canada and tries to negotiate a fair financial arrangement and yet come back with approximately $3.5 million to enhance our ever-growing budget demands.

I see us working more closely with aboriginal governments and also being beneficiaries of land claim agreements, and the study of the way the process works and the transfers between the federal government and the aboriginal governments indicate strongly to me that much of the transfers circumvent the Government of the Northwest Territories. I think that's not fair to the NWT as we often have to administer the funds through to aboriginal governments. When we do come up with critical management problems, we have nowhere to turn and we are not in a position to try to cost-share any of the program service and deliveries that we are obligated to.

So I certainly want to encourage Members of this Assembly to look very closely at how we function as a government. The future of this government is again at the beck and call of federal statute of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada on the devolution of programs and services. So under the financial arrangements, we have to deal with Finance Canada, which isn't willing to deal with the territorial government outside of what is normally given to us under transfers.

We are hearing Members of this House talk to problems of their constituents not accessing that level of service or being under funded. I believe this strongly gives us the suggestion that we need to support the motion and work through the process that is laid out under the federal jurisdiction. I want to assure the Members that we need to clearly look at where we stand in the Canadian Constitution and give our Premier and our Ministers the capability of sitting down face to face and having some powers. The systematic approach we want to take is going to be cost-beneficial to the Northwest Territories, not only to ourselves but to the residents.

I see it as a long-term plan, but today we need to begin to plant the seed, Mr. Speaker. I want to assure the Premier that certainly from the riding of Inuvik Twin Lakes and hopefully the rest of the Members will join in in supporting our government to assume some of those powers beyond just turning over responsibility to our constituents which, at the end of the day, will be confronted with huge fiscal deficits and having to mitigate future cost controls in terms of how we provide that level of service.

Again, I wanted to speak briefly. I had spoken briefly to the level of intent to the Constitution Act of 1982 and laid out some format of how we should proceed with it, giving the Premier the mandate to move out on this very large, but very important initiative on behalf of at least my riding, as the mover. I will speak again at the conclusion of the debate. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Motion 8-15(3): Pursuit Of Provincehood For The Northwest Territories, Defeated May 31st, 2004

WHEREAS discussions on devolution and constitutional reform have been ongoing for several years with little or no change resulting;

AND WHEREAS the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada continues to have authority and control over many aspects of the Northwest Territories and the operations of the Government of the Northwest Territories;

AND WHEREAS the Northwest Territories deserves a seat at the Confederation table on an equal basis with provincial governments;

AND WHEREAS there is an urgent need for the Northwest Territories to gain control over its resources and a share of the associated revenues;

NOW THEREFORE I MOVE, seconded by the honourable Member for Sahtu, that the Premier immediately signal to the people of the Northwest Territories, to this assembly and to the Prime Minister his intent to pursue provincehood for the Northwest Territories;

AND FURTHER, that the Premier begin immediately to seek the support of provincial Premiers for the Northwest Territories to become a province;

AND FURTHERMORE, that the Premier report back to this Assembly on his progress during the fall session. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 179-15(3): Mortgage Investment Corporation May 31st, 2004

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. There are certain legal instruments that are required under the covenants of any agreement. I won't go into any detail, but I just want to ask the Minister if he feels that a MIC is more applicable to the economic reforms than a social policy reform? So if he can make comment to that. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.