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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was health.

Last in the Legislative Assembly March 2011, as MLA for Range Lake

Won her last election, in 2007, with 73% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Member's Statement 32-14(2): Condition Of Highway No. 3 February 25th, 2000

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Member's Statement 32-14(2): Condition Of Highway No. 3 February 25th, 2000

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would like to talk of something that is a rather urgent matter for my constituents. Earlier this week, I made a statement regarding the accident involving a tractor trailer on Highway No. 3 between Rae-Edzo and Yellowknife.

The results of the accident were two-fold: injuries to a person and damage to the environment. Although the driver was discharged from the hospital with minor injuries, the full impact of the environmental damages as a result of the spillage of approximately 20,000 litres of diesel fuel will not be known until the summer.

On Wednesday, the Minister of Transportation took my question about the cause of the accident as notice, stating that the issue is still under police investigation.

But yesterday, Mr. Speaker, one day after the accident, the Minister announced a change in the speed limit for trucks on the unconstructed portion of Highway No. 3 from 90 kilometres per hour to 70 kilometres per hour.

The timing of these two events is very curious, Mr. Speaker. I am very concerned about what his statement implies about the dangerous condition of the highway. As the Minister admitted himself in his statement, the lowering of the speed limit was necessary for two reasons; one, to reduce the wear and tear on the road and two, to give motorists a greater sense of confidence that they can travel the highway safely.

To put it another way, Mr. Speaker, I believe what the Minister is saying is that the perfect condition of Highway No. 3 cannot handle the current traffic load of the road. At the same time, the motorists do not have a sense of confidence that they can complete the journey safely.

It is clear the huge volume of trucks travelling to the mine sites is taking a toll on the road. The road cannot take the wear and tear, and this is dangerous to the public. He had no choice but to reduce the speed limit for the trucks, Mr. Speaker. But this does not solve the problem. This can only be a short-term emergency measure. The current plan for the reconstruction of the road is more than 10 years. We surely cannot continue this way for 10 years or more.

The resource industry is already hampered by the short winter road season. The increasing fuel prices are adding to the cost of doing business. Decreased speed limit is one more obstacle because this will mean a delay in the transportation of supplies to the mine site. In the end, we all pay.

But there is a more important flaw in the Minister's measure, Mr. Speaker. And it has to do with the safety of the people travelling on the road. I am concerned that having two separate speed limits...

Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters February 24th, 2000

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. My comment will not be too long. It will be very brief. I just want to give the Premier feedback on the statement he had made. I would like to indicate to the Premier that I have had responses from some of my constituents who expressed to me that they generally liked what they have heard from this statement.

One of the more specific things that was expressed to me is the general impression of this statement and the emphasis on the importance of the individuals to make the choices. I think many people would agree that a lot of the problems we face, especially in the area of social problems in this Territory, like every other place in Canada, the government cannot do it alone.

If I may say, I do have a bone to pick with the Premier in his reference to the new Members. Because I do believe that the new Members that are here bring more than enthusiasm. I would hate to think that we are just young people with only enthusiasm and no experience and knowledge which he attributed to all the other older Members.

I would like to say that what this statement really said to me is that it is a commitment of the Premier to say that we really are working here, all of us, to build strong individuals, families and communities. And that is what it boils down to.

That is what the government is for. The government cannot do everything for everybody. We cannot fix all the problems. We need to rely on the strength and courage of individuals.

Also, I have to commend the Premier on the list of priorities that he set out. I do not want to read them, as it is already on record, but I do not believe that it received the kind of attention that it deserves in the media and from the public.

The other thing that I took out of the statement is that it is really calling for a partnership between the government and the people, and partnership between federal, territorial public and aboriginal governments.

I think that if we learned anything from what we have gone through since we have been elected to this House and the meetings we have held in public and in private, it is that there is no issue and no problem that we face right now that we can resolve alone in this House. It calls for partnerships at all levels.

I was particularly interested in what the Premier said about the progress that the aboriginal peoples and aboriginal leaders have made in this Territory and in this Assembly.

Mr. Chairman, I am not that old, but in 22 years of living here in Yellowknife, and about 11 years of being involved in and out of government and in and out of this Assembly, I could say that I have personally witnessed the empowerment of aboriginal people in this land and in this Assembly. I was here when the aboriginal leaders were a minority. Their issues were largely ignored. We have witnessed the empowerment of not only the leaders, but a great advancement of the aboriginal issues in this House and across the Territories.

I think it is very important that we celebrate this. That we take a breather and say "look at how far we have come." Our Territory is now made up of half aboriginal and half non-aboriginal people. I think the power of the aboriginal issues and aboriginal people are so obvious now. Because we are calling for an intergovernmental affairs forum, we are asking the aboriginal leaders to help us. Not to just consult, not just give us advice, but we are talking about them taking a direct role in controlling where we are going to go as a Territory, and how we are going to make decisions on a number of issues that we have to deal with, namely the devolution, fiscal situations, social problems, and everything else that the Premier mentioned in the statement.

I would like to highlight three things from the statement. I think I have already stated that I agree with most of the statements that were made.

Under human perspective, the Premier stated that he would like to see a society where children and youth can and are prepared to take advantage of education and training opportunities to grow and prosper.

I would just like to say two things under this heading. One is that I think that the recent settlement of the teacher's strike is one way to advance this. I think the settlement package addresses the high pupil-to-teacher ratio which has been caused partially by an increase in special needs students. This is an issue that was addressed to me time and time again when I was on my campaign trail, going door to door. There are many teachers in my riding and parents with young children. The number one issue they talked to me about is the crowded school situation resulting from the inclusion policy of special need students in their school system.

This is a priority to me Mr. Chairman, I think that this is one area that we have to address if we are going to create a society where the youth and children are going to be able to take advantage of all that is available.

I could also add a personal note to this. I think that when we are being very grim and negative about our social situation, I can say for the record that I think the system we have in the Northwest Territories is something that we have to be very proud of. I came here 22 years ago, when I was 14 years old. I spoke no English. I am a child of a single mother. I came here and I received every kind of help I needed. I had a tutor with me who taught me how to read the cereal box to everything else I needed to eventually do.

I was able to finish my junior high, then senior high. I wanted to be a lawyer and somebody mentioned that I should go and study political science. I was able to do that. Then I wanted to be a lawyer and I was funded to go to law school.

I realize that I had to work hard for that. I always had jobs from the government so that I could pay my way, because my mom was not able to pay a cent of my education or any of my living expenses. I think that when we are looking at what is wrong, it is very important to look at what is right. I understand also, Mr. Chairman, that not everyone in this society can take advantage of what is out there. I understand that not everybody can get everything that I have been able to get. I do not know why that is so, but I know that some people need more help than others.

I think we have to remember that we cannot do everything for everyone. We have to make choices so we help those who need it the most. That is all I am going to say on the human perspective.

The next item I want to mention is the economic perspective, where it was talking about infrastructure. There are two things I would like to say on this. I want to note for the record that over the last ten or 12 years we have had virtually no capital spending in this Territory. We are so burdened with paying for our social spending that we have not been able to spend any money at all on other things. I noticed no money at all on building roads, buildings, or anything that the government has to do to maintain its infrastructure.

I made a statement and I asked questions about the condition of Highway No. 3. I plan on doing that continually, along with other Yellowknife Members, until this matter is resolved.

I was a little alarmed that Highway No. 3 was not mentioned under economic perspective, infrastructure. The road from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk was mentioned, and the Mackenzie Valley, but not Highway No. 3. I am going to read that as saying that it is money for new road projects and that is why it was mentioned there. I appreciate that Highway No. 3 is an existing road and we are talking about reconstruction and not new construction.

Another item I want to mention is division and the cuts in public spending. In this statement when the Premier mentioned the things that we could leave behind. One of the things that was said was that division and cuts in public spending are behind us. I will just wrap it up by saying that I hope there will be no serious job cuts without a rational plan at least.

I want to conclude by saying that I appreciated the Sessional Statement, and I believe that it gave a vision of the Premier and of what he wants to do for the next four years. It was well received by my constituents and I think that it is important that everyone in this House work hard to make this a reality. Thank you.

Question 28-14(2): Pension And Severance Concerns Of Giant Mine Employees February 24th, 2000

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will make this question very short. Will the Premier make the commitment to make these items, this pension and severance for the workers, a priority of his workload? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 28-14(2): Pension And Severance Concerns Of Giant Mine Employees February 24th, 2000

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate the Premier's answer with respect to the pension side of this predicament of the workers, but there is also the question of severance pay, which was a lot less than most workers had expected. I appreciate, Mr. Speaker, that with respect to the severance package, it was a deal made between two private companies. But what I would like the Minister to know is that it is not just about two companies dealing with this. It involves the working of all governments. My question to the Minister is, will the Premier make a commitment to really put pressure on the federal government to address the concerns of these workers? I really think that the government has to pressure this. This is not just about the deals between two companies. It is about the rights of workers. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 28-14(2): Pension And Severance Concerns Of Giant Mine Employees February 24th, 2000

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is to the Premier. It is in regards to the situation of the laid off Giant Mine workers. Mr. Speaker, there are a huge number of laid off Giant Mine workers that live in my riding. Throughout my campaign, I have had many occasions to talk to them about their predicament. It seems they had to suffer through a major problem with their severance pay, and now the latest thing is that their pension will be cut by 25 percent. My question to the Premier is to ask him what this government has done, thus far, in terms of addressing these problems with the pension and severance for these workers?

Japanese Aurora Tourism Industry February 24th, 2000

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and colleagues. The tourism industry needs the government's action to help develop our summer tourist product to match our winter product. We need a comprehensive action plan in partnership with all stakeholders.

I appreciate that this government, along with all the Members on this side of the House, will continue to work hard for the next little while to set our priorities on how to get the governance right and how to achieve a healthy economy and healthy people.

As a Member for Yellowknife, I intend to work hard to push for a coordinated and common sense tourism strategy that will benefit the economy of our city and our Territory so that this success story can be shared across many sectors in our economy. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

-- Applause

Japanese Aurora Tourism Industry February 24th, 2000

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Japanese Aurora Tourism Industry February 24th, 2000

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to take this opportunity today to celebrate something very positive going on in the city of Yellowknife, that being the increasing number of Japanese tourists who travel a very long distance to make Yellowknife and the Northwest Territories one of their tour destinations in Canada. This month alone, Mr. Speaker, upwards of 2500 Japanese visitors are expected to visit our city. There are up to 300 of them in the city on any given day, looking up at our sky at night, visiting our shops and eating country food at our local restaurants.

Just last night I was at the Explorer Hotel at 9:00 p.m. and watched two school buses full of the tourists in their familiar red gear heading out into the night to see the northern lights. The sight of them warms my heart. I have also had the occasion last week to talk to the local restaurant operators, who are very happy to have these visitors fill their premises every night in what is otherwise a very slow tourist season.

Last year there were approximately 7000 Japanese visitors, but we are expected to surpass that by a large margin this year, as we have already exceeded that number with two more months left to go in the season.

Mr. Speaker, what we should recognize is that this is not simply an overnight success that happened by accident. A number of local operators have been working very hard for over a decade to perfect this very specialized product. The visiting tourists are catered to take advantage of everything our city and the North have to offer, above and beyond the northern lights, including dog sled rides, snowmobile tours, caribou viewing, snow shoeing and ice-fishing demonstrations.

It should also be recognized that this has been achieved without a lot of assistance from the government, and perhaps even in spite of it. All of the local operators and service businesses should be commended for making this possible.

Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, not everything about this is positive. If the number of visitors continues to grow at this rate, we will not have enough accommodation space in the city to accommodate them all. And the solution to this is not as simple as building an extra hotel to accommodate them. The demand for accommodation in the city during the summer is not nearly as high as that in the winter. In fact, the number of visitors to the North has experienced a steady decline over the last number of years.

The tourism industry needs the government's action to help develop our summer tourist product.

Question 22-14(2): Fuel Spill On Highway No. 3 February 23rd, 2000

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Minister of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development, Mr. Kakfwi.

I want to ask a follow-up question to the accident that happened on Highway No. 3. The accident resulted in two things; one of them being a man ending up in the hospital for injuries, but also there was spillage of diesel fuel onto the road. The last I heard from the media was that clean up efforts were engaged. I would like to ask the Minister of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development what the extent of the clean up is, what the status is, and what is the extent of environmental damage? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.