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In the Legislative Assembly


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was know.
Historical Information Rylund Johnson is no longer a member of the Legislative Assembly.

Last in the Legislative Assembly October 2023, as MLA for Yellowknife North

Won his last election, in 2019, with 36% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Bill 100: Appropriation Act (Infrastructure Expenditures) 2024-2025, Carried October 6th, 2023

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm given 20 minutes here, and I know we all want to leave, but I'll make a promise. If any Member of Cabinet yells out the estimated cost of the Taltson Hydro Expansion Project at any time, which I know all of them know, I will stop talking.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I love hydro. I believe it is the future to getting to carbon net zero. I love hydro for the Northwest Territories. I am so glad for the mines that came before and built our hydro power. We need more hydro, Mr. Speaker. I also love mining, and we need more mines, Mr. Speaker. It would be absolutely irresponsible to allow more mines go in production in this territory that run off diesel, Mr. Speaker. I don't believe renewables are going to get us there. We have seen our solar and wind projects to date come in at an astonishingly high price per megawatt, and they are intermittent. I think the hope of micronuclear is a pipe dream. There's not a single micronuclear reactor in Canada that is currently active, Mr. Speaker. One day, perhaps, maybe we can put them on the back of a truck, and those can power a mine, but I don't believe in fantasies. But you know who does believe in fantasies, Mr. Speaker?

The Department of Infrastructure and the GNWT, because 25 years ago someone had a dream about expanding the Taltson Hydro Project and running a transmission line to the diamonds. And if we built it, Mr. Speaker, it would have been amazing. We would be sitting here rich, paying it off, and all of our power bills were lower. But, instead, we spent 25 years not building it. And, Mr. Speaker, in the life of this Assembly, the most significant thing to happen in this project in the last 25 years occurred; that is, this government secretly, without really telling anyone, decided that it was no longer going to the diamond mines, which was the whole point in the first place, Mr. Speaker.

And, Mr. Speaker, why is that project 60 megawatts? Because that's how much power the diamond mines needed, Mr. Speaker. We have been talking about expanding Taltson at 60 megawatts for 25 years, Mr. Speaker. And we have forgot that we actually have 10,000 megawatts of undeveloped hydro potential in this territory. We have the Bear, La Marte, Lockhart, MacKenzie, Snare, Snowdrift, Taltson, and Yellowknife River, Mr. Speaker, all with undeveloped hydro potential, and no one has ever even talked about those in 25 years because they got so laser focused on a project that they have repeatedly failed to build, Mr. Speaker.

The Minister talked about well, we got too focused on who was on the board. Well, Mr. Speaker, the previous government fired that board because it had members who said listen, I'm not going to take this Taltson project on without long-term power purchasing agreements. And the GNWT didn't like that. They didn't like an independent arm's length corporation having some say over what their hydro infrastructure looked like because, Mr. Speaker, if the NTPC gets given a dam and doesn't have anyone to buy the power, guess who's rates are going up? All the other ratepayers. So we are talking about enough money here, some questionable amount that anyone could yell out at any time, Mr. Speaker, but it is fair to say it is enough to pay every single individual's power bill in this territory for the next 50 years, Mr. Speaker. And that's not surprising because we're talking about 60 megawatts. Essentially doubling all the current power we sell, Mr. Speaker. Every single power bill you have ever paid in your life is how much we are talking about for 50 years, Mr. Speaker, for all our residents. You could do the math on that, and you'll get to the number. I may have just kind of leaked it, but whatever.

Mr. Speaker, it is billions and billions of dollars. There is zero transparency in this project. There is zero transparency from the government about the cost overruns. There is zero transparency about any of our energy projects.

We have been promising a line to Fort Providence and a line to Whati for years. Well, I still don't know the cost of those projects. We are light years behind on them, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, and no one, despite years of asking has -- answered a simple question, why don't we just build a transmission line to Alberta? Mr. Speaker, we keep talking about selling power to Alberta and Saskatchewan. You know why they don't want our power? Because it's currently at 35 cents a megawatt, Mr. Speaker. And you know what they're selling power for in bulk? 9 cents a megawatt, Mr. Speaker. Let's build a line south and buy their power. Stop trying to sell our 35 cent power, Mr. Speaker.

Every single mine we could ever open in this territory is a drop in the bucket of what Alberta currently produces and provides to industry. We should tie into their grid and call it a day, Mr. Speaker, but we are stuck on this one project. We are stuck asking federal government. We are stuck wasting Indigenous government's projects. And no one will even tell me what they think it costs.

Mr. Speaker, the cost matters. The cost per megawatt on production is the entire debate we are having. It tells you whether you are going to develop another hydro system. It tells you whether you are going to continue to burn diesel. It tells you whether you're going to use LNG. The cost per megawatt is the entire debate. That is why we need to know how much it's costing to build 60 megawatts, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, this is my plea. Say the number. Bring some transparency until we have an election. Until then, I ask every single worker in the GNWT who spent 25 years, some of them their entire career on a project that's going nowhere, stop working on it. I am so sorry for you. I am sorry we have wasted your time on this hopeless endeavour, on this fantasy of made up math and made up numbers that does not work.

To all of the Indigenous governments we are meeting with right now, that we are keeping in a room, leave, walk away. Our government is lying to you. They are asking for hundreds of millions of dollars in P3 funding that is going to be a terrible investment for your people. And, Mr. Speaker, that business case we have is absolute garbage, and the government needs to make it public. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 1639-19(2): Family Day Holiday October 6th, 2023

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm a big fan of four-day workweeks, and so I've really enjoyed these back-to-back holidays we've had creating two 4-day workweeks. And I'm a big fan of holidays especially in the dark cold months of February. And so for one last time, for the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment, does the Minister support his family by creating a family day holiday in February. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 1637-19(2): Cost of Taltson Hydro Expansion Project October 6th, 2023

You know, I -- well, I think it would be inappropriate to say during an election that we're investing in a billion-dollar project, Mr. Speaker, because it's going to be a lot more than that. And I'm very confident that the government's number is already outdated and underestimated based on construction inflation costs. So I guess I'll try one last time. Can I get an over/under on $3 billion, Mr. Speaker.

Question 1637-19(2): Cost of Taltson Hydro Expansion Project October 6th, 2023

Yeah, thank you, Mr. Speaker. I think there's some argument not to share the entire business case. I think there is a zero argument not to give an updated cost estimate. What's going to happen is we're going to have an election and everyone's going to say should we build the $1 billion Taltson Dam. And they say $1 billion because we released the business case in 2014, and that was the cost then. And, Mr. Speaker, it is a lot more than a billion dollars. So when we go into a democratic election, I would just like people to say the correct number. I understand there's this confidentiality around the business case and who may be buying power and those negotiations, but can we update that number.

So can the Minister give me a date at which the government will feel comfortable giving us an updated cost estimate on the Taltson Hydro Expansion Project? Thank you.

Question 1637-19(2): Cost of Taltson Hydro Expansion Project October 6th, 2023

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm feeling pretty good considering I got some answers to the changes to BIP. Maybe I can get a number now, Mr. Speaker, a number that will save me speaking for quite length of time at third reading as I vote against the capital budget, a number I've been asking for for years, Mr. Speaker, and is -- can the Minister of Finance give us a cost estimate of what we think the Taltson Hydro Expansion Project will cost. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 1635-19(2): Business Incentive Policy October 6th, 2023

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I feel quite confident that Walmart does not have the majority of its employees in the Northwest Territories or 51 percent of its owners do not reside here. And just to confirm, does this mean that Schedule 3, the old grandfathered southern businesses, including Walmart, are going to be removed from the BIP policy? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 1635-19(2): Business Incentive Policy October 6th, 2023

Yeah, thank you, Mr. Speaker. I believe that means we are getting a new definition of a northern business. Can the Minister just confirm that and, if so, what that division will be? Thank you.

Question 1635-19(2): Business Incentive Policy October 6th, 2023

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We spent four years talking about the procurement review. We've had a number of recommendations to change the Business Incentive Policy over those four years. So one last time, for the Minister of ITI, will we see any changes to the Business Incentive Policy in the life of this government? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery October 6th, 2023

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'd like to recognize all of the Yellowknife North constituents in the gallery. They are actually very well represented in both GNWT staff and the Assembly, so I won't name them all. And I'd also like to recognize Yellowknife North constituent Arlene Hache for all of her work. And Yellowknife South constituent Sarah Kalnay-Watson for being a great constituency assistant. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Member's Statement 1662-19(2): Reflections on the 19th Legislative Assembly October 6th, 2023

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Four years ago when I decided to run for MLA in Yellowknife North, it was on a bit of a whim, and I didn't think I had any chance of getting elected at all, Mr. Speaker. So, firstly, I would like to thank the constituents of Yellowknife North for putting their faith in me, Mr. Speaker. They're a unique bunch, the Yellowknife North, and I truly -- truly, it has been the honour of my life serving them.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank all of my colleagues. Even through the rough times, it has been a learning experience. I am a completely different person than I was when I entered this House four years ago.

And, lastly, Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my two constituency assistants I've had in this Assembly. That is Cathy Kirk and Ms. Sarah Kalnay-Watson. It makes this job so much easier knowing your constituents are in good hands.

Mr. Speaker, thank you, everyone. Best of luck to the 20th Assembly. Keep your stick on the ice.