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Last in the Legislative Assembly November 2003, as MLA for Sahtu

Won his last election, in 1999, with 61% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Item 5: Returns To Oral Questions October 2nd, 2003

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a return to oral question asked by Mr. Lafferty on Wednesday, June 4 with respect to coming to consultations on the government's capital planning process. The deputy ministers task team on "meeting infrastructure requirements" includes the task to clarify core capital need and development of infrastructure policy framework. The objectives of the above task include:

  • • the requirement to develop clarity between the government and communities on the types of infrastructure that will be funded;
  • • the involvement of communities in the planning and decision-making;
  • • community responsibilities on the maintenance and upkeep of infrastructure;
  • • community contributions to capital projects;
  • • how this government may address a balance between core service needs and community priorities; and
  • • application of capital standards and criteria.

The community consultation undertaken this spring was intended to seek the communities' input into both the development of the 2004-2005 capital plan and the capital planning process, including the criteria applied in prioritizing projects. A consultant was engaged to review the current capital planning process and also to address how we may better provide for the needs of communities. The results of the consultants report and the community consultations will form the basis of a number of recommendations to enhance the capital planning process to better serve the needs of this government and communities. Thank you.

Minister's Statement 81-14(6): Weekend Meeting With Federal Infrastructure Minister Allan Rock And Secretary Of State October 2nd, 2003

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. On Saturday, October 4, 2003, Transportation Minister Joe Handley and I will be meeting with the federal Minister responsible for Infrastructure and Minister of Industry, the Honourable Allan Rock.

Secretary of State for Rural Development, the Honourable Andy Mitchell, will accompany Mr. Rock.

I cannot speak about the specifics of the agenda, but you can be assured that Minister Handley and I will continue to make a forceful case for federal investment in the Northwest Territories for infrastructure and we expect positive results.

Mr. Speaker, Members will be provided with a full account of our meeting early next week.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Item 9: Replies To Opening Address October 1st, 2003

Aboriginal rights were virtually non-existent in the 1970s when I first got involved. Today and recently, we're seeing Metis people being recognized in their own standing, on their own as a distinct people with full rights. This is a tremendous event for all our people, not only across Canada, but here in the Northwest Territories.

I believe that because of our dream, our hard work, that the quality of life is improving in our territory, in our communities and amongst our people. It is true that we have our share of difficulties -- drugs, alcohol, family abuse, violence -- and we will always have that. But I believe we are better off because we have a plan, we have an economy and we give hope to our young people, to our families. There are jobs for those that need jobs. There is a social safety network for those that need help, that need our care.

More than anything, I believe we are a strong people. We've had our share of pain and difficulties over our history, but because of that we're also stronger because we're dealing with it and we have a plan in the future.

One of the great joys of my life has been to see where I started there was very much a separation of people of treaty descent between Metis and Northern people, the business community, this government, the federal government and the different peoples that we are. Over the course of the last 30 years I have seen us become neighbours, partners and friends and this government, in particular, become much closer to truly representing all people and making all people feel that this is their government and this is their Assembly.

There is still a lot of work to be done. There are still institutions to change, but that is our work. I believe we will continue doing that in the future. What has come out of that, I believe, is a unique culture and a unique identity that as Canada starts to see us as an emerging, significant, prominent part of confederation, they also see us as a collective of peoples; a diverse mosaic of cultures and traditions coming together to be seen by the rest of the world and Canada as a very distinct people: the people of the Northwest Territories.

We've spent many years thinking about the things we're going to do, talking about the things we're going to change. We've learned one thing: that we must have a high degree of tolerance. That is the only way we can get the respect and diversity we have and have tolerance for ideas that are different, values that are different, perspectives and attitudes that are different. This leads to new ideas and new ways of doing things.

We have leaders and we are the leaders who embrace the need for change. We've learned to respect one another. Respect our cultures and our languages and our different ways of life. In recent years, I believe increasingly there has been a marked growth and increase in our enthusiasm for the future, for working together. This is where I am today.

In spite of the difficulties and the challenges we have, I am very confident about the future of our peoples, our territory and this government. Always when we started as young people...Many of us who started together had an inherent desire to bring people together. The initial documents that came out of the Dene Nation and the movement talked about tolerance and about bringing people together and having governments, not for each of us separately, but for all of us. We talked endlessly about the rights of non-aboriginal people here on our land in the territory and how to extend and make sure that we become a community and a people together.

Through the years that I've worked, I've also extended my enthusiasm for trying to support the Metis and their work, the Inuit and their work and I've taken part in helping to define the boundary between the Inuit, the Dene and the Metis in the claims negotiations. That was the basis on which we used as a boundary for dividing our two territories.

We've been part of negotiating with many people; the Vatican, the Government of Canada, provinces, animal rights groups, BHP, Diavik, Rio Tinto and, most recently, De Beers. I think in all our dealings in recent years, increasingly people know we are serious, we are committed and we have an inherent belief that we have to be strong. We have to be warriors if we are going to get anything done and we will settle for no less.

All of us, we see strength and inspiration from our own sources and some of us from the same. It's our land, it's our elders, our youth and our families. All of us depend on our spouses, our friends, our children for strength and order in our lives. My wife Marie has believed in me, my strengths and weaknesses, and I thank her for that.

Over the course of the summer, I've thought about how much more I can contribute and if this is the place that I should continue to serve the people of the North. I thought about my constituency and I talked to my family. I talked to my wife and children. It came to a day when I needed to make a decision. So it's not something that was easy to make, but most of the time I feel very good about it. If I sound a bit emotional it's because it's taken me a little while to get to this moment.

Because I have not taken occasion to talk to my constituents in the Sahtu, I want to tell them now before I turn to you, my Members, that to the people of the Sahtu I wish to inform them now that I will not seek re-election as an MLA and that I will not seek re-election as a member for the Sahtu.

To those of you that are here as my colleagues in the legislature, I want to tell you as well that I will not be seeking election, obviously, as the Premier, as a Member of the Executive. I will not be seeking re-election to be a Member of the next legislature.

What I will do is continue to work until my last day in office as your Premier. There is still work that I can do with Ottawa, with the Premiers, with De Beers, with other partners that we have to continue advancing our agenda. We have momentum. The confidence is there, the enthusiasm is there and this is what I will promise you.

I have a huge sense of accomplishment right now. The last 16 years have been great. I've learned a great deal about myself, about the strengths I have and the weaknesses. They've become glaringly evident to all of you who have had the good fortune to work with me in my new perspective. I don't apologize for them. I know the weaknesses I've had. I've learned to deal with them. I've learned to address them. So, personally, I've grown from those things that have become evident in the course of my work. Dealing with alcoholism and many other things in my life have made me a better man for it.

Being Premier, I should tell you is the best job in the world. It is also the toughest job I've ever had. My wife was telling me, it's a statement about you because you also said that when you were president of the Dene Nation. Every job is the toughest job. It's also the best job because you enjoy it so much and you give it everything you've got.

I can tell you that I believe that all of our peoples and all our leaders are well placed for the future. I believe we're together and we can see what it is that is available to us, what we have done together. My vision is your vision, it's our people's vision. I look forward to working with all of you, the community leaders, with the people of the North, in the future. There will be other opportunities and occasions to do things together. I will be here, always, to support you, to support the government, support our communities and our leaders as we go about those things that we know are within reach and available to us.

I want to thank the people in government who have made it possible for us to accomplish so much in the last few years. I want make special thanks to Vital Manuel who is a constituent of mine and has worked in my office for many years, for his devotion and commitment and for being my friend as well as being my long-term office worker. I want to like my personal staff and departmental staff, Melody Morrison and John Tees, Lisa Goulet, Neysa Roberts, Debbie Baert-Reid, Drew Williams, Liz Snider, Gabriela Sparling, George Braden, all of whom I've asked to come and be in the gallery today.

On occasions like this it's important to say many things and not to forget, but I wanted to be as short and punctual, as Spartan as possible. I don't want to be emotional about it. I'm here. I want to take the occasion to thank the public, who surprised me many times over the last two years, the last four years, with the tremendous support and enthusiasm and the work that I'm doing personally for the work of this Cabinet and this legislature. This is how I read it, all of us took leaps of faith sometime in our lives and people of the North, Members here in the House, have taken the leap of faith by voting me into office and sticking with me through the many events and days and weeks and months and years that we spent together. I want to thank you for that. God bless you in your work to continue seeking election to serve people. I, on my part, will wish you all well and work to make sure that the next few weeks, next two months as your Premier, I will continue to do what I can to promote and maintain the momentum that we have created in the last few months.

I again just want to thank my wife for coming out this afternoon. She's just been great. My daughter Kayla and Amos in Calgary, my grand-daughter Maslyn, my daughter Daylyn in Fort Smith, my son Keenan in Yellowknife. My mother, who I spoke to this morning, who as usual said, when are you going to come home. I said to Mom laughingly, probably sooner than you think. She's been asking me since 1970 and we had a good laugh about it, a nice talk. I just want to thank, as well, my older brother, Everett, who's been there with me for many years. So thank you very much and thank you for being here with me. Thank you. Mahsi.

---Applause

Item 9: Replies To Opening Address October 1st, 2003

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I want to take a little bit of time today to share some of my thinking and thoughts with the Members here, who I've worked with over the last four years. I have spent a lot of time in my job, in my life, thinking about the future of the territory and the future of our people, the future that they have together, and I have spent a lot of time thinking about it over the summer.

I've spent I'd say about 95 percent of my time in the last year on the road in the communities and not a great deal of time in the office, the physical office of the Premier. I have also spent a lot of time thinking about my role as an elected leader and the style of leadership that I provide and I also don't provide. There is a certain approach that I take in the work I do. It has not changed much in all the years that I have been providing my share of leadership to the people that I represent. I've served 16 years in the legislature and the entire time I've been a Member of the Cabinet, 12 years as a Minister and four years as a Premier.

Recent developments and events have buoyed me very much. After years of fighting and struggling to get attention, to get the respect and some attention and commitment to deal with the issues that are put in front of this country, I believe that the base and the foundation that we require to address and get these to conclusion are in place. We have a current Prime Minister who is committed, his government and his office, to concluding devolution and revenue sharing. We have the incoming Prime Minister, who I believe will be Mr. Paul Martin, who has committed to us that there will be a net fiscal benefit included in revenue-sharing talks.

We have made a rather dramatic change in our discussions with De Beers, clarified some rather confusing moments and statements recently and I believe I am now back on track, assuring our territory, our government, our people, that we will get a share of diamond production from Snap Lake and that the project will proceed on time.

I believe that the pipeline that we've been talking about and discussing and promoting in the South over the last three and a half years will proceed according to plan with our conditions and demands met over the next few years. The oil and gas development and the companies and industry are set to give a fair deal, a balanced approach to our communities and our people.

I believe that the lobbying we've been doing as a government, as Members of the legislature, on infrastructure will see results in the next while, thanks to the work of Minister Handley, Minister Antoine, other Members of Cabinet and you, the Members of the legislature; the business community and the Chamber of Commerce, amongst many.

Our economy, Mr. Speaker, is the envy of everyone in Canada. Those of you that have followed the Globe and Mail, the national newspaper, in the last few weeks realize, although it started a bit inadvertently by statements on my part in my attempt to get attention. We did get attention, we got a lot of attention, but more than anything we got understanding from the media, from politicians, from industry and corporations right across this country. They know what it is we're saying, they know what we want and they know it is reasonable and that it should happen.

Question 350-14(6): Single-rate Zone For Hydro Electric Power October 1st, 2003

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I think the suggestion that the issue of a one-rate zone should not proceed until after an energy strategy was completed, debated and discussed and this government had found the time to set new direction and this has not happened. The corporation itself does not have the...(inaudible)...time to address that. The Minister concurs with that so that is where we are. We are at a point where there is not sufficient time to debate it. It is, as the Member knows, controversial. There is no consensus on this and I doubt very much that there is any political will or prospects of getting an agreement on it at this time. Thank you.

Question 350-14(6): Single-rate Zone For Hydro Electric Power October 1st, 2003

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, it is the Minister responsible for the Power Corporation, Mr. Handley, who has responsibility under the legislation to speak on behalf of the government and the Cabinet to the Power Corporation and the board that we have appointed to manage and administer that corporation's business. The government gives overall direction from time to time, and the Power Corporation's board manages and administers the corporation. It is very close to an election and we have recently completed the energy strategy and there is not sufficient time to give this the attention and debate that it deserves. It is the view of the Minister and myself that there will not be any direction from Cabinet regarding the issue the Member raised at this time. Thank you.

Question 350-14(6): Single-rate Zone For Hydro Electric Power October 1st, 2003

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I believe it will be the next government that will deal with this issue and it will be the Power Corporation that will make application for rate changes and the way which rates are charged. It is the Power Corporation that makes application through the Public Utilities Board. Thank you.

Question 350-14(6): Single-rate Zone For Hydro Electric Power October 1st, 2003

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The government and Cabinet have no intentions in the future of discussing this rather controversial issue. There are no plans to discuss it or other decisions made. Thank you.

Item 5: Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery October 1st, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I wish to recognize today in the gallery the secretary to Cabinet, Liz Snider, and her aunt from Hamilton, Ontario, Elizabeth Maus.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 80-14(6): Premier's Sessional Statement October 1st, 2003

Most importantly, now I want to thank my wife, Marie, and my children: Kyla, my son-in-law Amos, my daughter Daylyn, and my son Keenan who have made many, many sacrifices in supporting me through these last four years.

Mr. Speaker, colleagues, northern leaders, elders, friends, it has been an honour and privilege to serve as your Premier. In the weeks coming, I look forward to continuing. I will work hard right to the completion of our agenda and to the end of my term as a Premier and help prepare for the transition for the next legislature. So thank you very much. Thank you.

---Applause