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Last in the Legislative Assembly November 2003, as MLA for Kam Lake

Won his last election, in 1999, with 80% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Item 1: Prayer March 21st, 2000

Good afternoon, Members, and welcome back. I wish to advise the House that I have received the following message from the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories:

"Dear Mr. Speaker:

I wish to advise that I recommend to the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories the passage of the Supplementary Appropriation Act, No. 4, 1999-2000, and the Interim Appropriation Act, 2000-2001 during the Second Session of the 14th Legislative Assembly.

Yours truly, Dan Marion, Commissioner."

Members of the Assembly, before beginning the continuation of the Second Session this afternoon, I would like to take a moment on behalf of the Members of this House to offer condolences to the wife and family of Mr. Ipeelee Kilabuk, who passed away earlier this month after suffering a heart attack. I know many of my colleagues in the House today probably did not personally know Mr. Kilabuk when he was a Member of this House. However, I had the pleasure of serving with him as a Member of the 11th Assembly. I am sure that Mr. Kakfwi, who also served with Mr. Kilabuk in the 11th Assembly, shares fond memories of this gentleman.

Mr. Kilabuk was first elected in March 1975 as the Member for Central Baffin in the 8th Legislative Assembly and was re-elected to the 9th Legislature in a by-election in September, 1980.

As I said, I had the pleasure of working with Mr. Kilabuk as a Member of the 11th Assembly. I must say that it was indeed a pleasant experience. Despite a language barrier, Mr. Kilabuk was always quick with a smile and very easy to communicate with. He always had a kind word for everyone and was truly a pleasure to serve with whether it be in the House or on a committee.

Among his many other contributions to public life, Ipeelee was a founding member of the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada in 1971. As a statesman and gentleman, he was a true representative of the Inuit people, a gentleman who never had an unkind word for any one and treated everyone with respect and compassion.

Once again, I offer condolences and our deepest sympathy to the Kilabuk family on behalf of the Members of this House and all people of the Northwest Territories. Thank you.

Orders of the day. Item 2, Ministers' statements. The honourable Minister responsible for Health and Social Services, Mrs. Groenewegen.

Item 1: Prayer February 28th, 2000

Thank you, Mrs. Groenewegen. Good afternoon, Members of the Assembly. Before beginning the business of the House this afternoon, I would like to take a few minutes to speak to Members about a group of young people I had the pleasure of spending most of yesterday with. The young adults are part of the Racism: Stop it! Action 2000 youth tour and come from Australia, the United States and other parts of Canada.

The young people arrived in Yellowknife on Saturday evening. I was fortunate enough to be asked to give them a tour of the Assembly building and spent some time with them yesterday. I must say I came away from my meetings with the youths feeling proud, and also very reassured that if these young people are an example of the young people in the world today, then the future is in good hands.

This morning, the group spent time in schools around the city promoting the creation of a society that is understanding, accepting, and free of racism and prejudice. This is just one of 10 youth teams who are touring different cities in Canada as part of this international campaign aimed at stopping racism.

I would like to publicly commend these young people, one as young as 12 years old, for their efforts and for taking a stand on an issue they obviously feel strongly about. In the Northwest Territories, where we have people of such diverse cultures, it is crucial we build a society that is free of racism and one that accepts people for who they are.

As leaders, we often talk about young people being the future. If the vision of these young people is an indication of what we can expect to see in the future, we will have a more accepting society, with vibrant communities that work together towards a racism-free world.

Members will have the opportunity to meet with the young people tonight at a dinner being hosted at the Assembly. I urge each and every one of you to attend and hear firsthand what these young people are saying. That will be set up in the Great Hall at 6:00 p.m.

Orders of the day. Item 2, Ministers' statements. The Deputy Premier, the Honourable Jane Groenewegen.

Question 1-14(2): NWT Highway Strategy February 22nd, 2000

The honourable Minister responsible for Transportation, Mr. Steen.

Remarks Of Speaker January 19th, 2000

Bonjour, madames et monsieurs, et bienvenue a les Assemblée du Territories Nord-Oust. Honourable colleagues, I wish to express my gratitude for the confidence you have demonstrated by choosing me as your Speaker.

It is with a great deal of pride and humility that I accept the honour of being your Speaker for this, the 14th Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories.

My first obligation is to give you my commitment. My commitment to ensure the rights and privileges of all Members will be upheld, and that you are each able to discharge your duties. The most important and fundamental right is the freedom of speech in your debates, and freedom from interference in carrying out your duties.

I assure you I will do my best to ensure those fundamental rights are upheld, as well as all of the other rules and procedures this House has adopted. At this time, I would like to acknowledge the efforts and steady hand of my predecessor, Mr. Sam Gargan, who has set a high standard for me to follow.

I am sure you will all join me in extending our thanks to Mr. Gargan for the 16 years of dedicated efforts and services he has given his constituents, and particularly for the admirable performance of his duties as Speaker within these Chambers.

-- Applause

On a personal note, I would like to take this time to thank the constituents of Kam Lake who were the first to place their trust in me by electing me and who even now, I am confident, will support me in my new responsibilities. I want to assure them my accepting the position of Speaker will in no way diminish my efforts to serve each and every one of them to the best of my ability.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the people most important to all of us, our families. Our wives, husbands, partners and children. We must all strive to strike that elusive balance between our work and our families.

To my wife Elaine, and our three sons, Warren, Blair and Ian, and to my mother Emilie, I am thankful from the bottom of my heart. Without their guidance and support I could not have accomplished what I have and continue to have in my political career. I would not be sitting here before you today.

On the first sitting day of the 14th Legislative Assembly, I wish to ask all Members to pause and reflect on the tasks before us. We are a new and vibrant Territory entering a new century and a new millennium. We are fortunate to be here as the chosen representatives of our constituents. It is an honour that is bestowed on so few people.

As a Legislature, we are facing many critical decisions in the days and years ahead. Like all decisions made in this House, getting to those decisions sometimes leads us into adversarial situations. However, we must remember to always treat each other with respect, dignity, compassion and understanding.

On your behalf, I would like to thank Bishop Croteau for being our Chaplain today. It is always a pleasure to have you with us.

I would also like to acknowledge the fine performance of the Dettah Drummers and the St. Patrick's Choir, led by Ms. Hunter. It was also a treat to have the Inuvialuit Drummers from the Delta perform on the Chamber floor. This is a first for us, and an inspiration for us all to celebrate our new Assembly in the new millennium. Thank you to all.

In conclusion, my ability to preside over this House ultimately rests in your hands. I will continue to be inspired by the trust and confidence you have placed on me today. Thank you very much.

-- Applause

Mr. Clerk, will you ascertain if his Honour, the Commissioner, is prepared to enter the Chamber and address the Legislative Assembly?

-- Singing of National Anthem

Committee Motion 98-12(7): To Amend Clause 10 Of Bill 25, Carried June 22nd, 1995

Just for clarification, Mr. Chairman. Senior secondary education, is this just in the Northwest Territories? Does it include anywhere that this program is offered,

or is it strictly in the territories?

Item 12: Reports Of Committees On The Review Of Bills June 22nd, 1995

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I wish to report to the Assembly that the Standing Committee on Legislation has reviewed Bill 33, An Act to Amend the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act, No. 3, and wishes to report that Bill 33 is now ready for committee of the whole; and, further, that Bill 33 not be proceeded with. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Item 9: Replies To Opening Address June 22nd, 1995

Is this like a report card?

Item 9: Replies To Opening Address June 22nd, 1995

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, colleagues. I asked several of my constituents, in a humorous fashion, if I should go for the record that my esteemed colleague from Fort Smith has established, and I was told soundly and roundly, "Don't you dare." So, I don't dare.

---Laughter

I'm just going to say a few words, Mr. Speaker. Time has gone by since the opening address and I think a lot of us have forgotten what was really said in it, so I can't really reply specifically to the exact words. However, there are a few items that I've wanted to comment on in the House over the past little while but, unfortunately, time did not quite allow it. So, I'll touch on a few.

Mr. Speaker, Yellowknife South is a very large constituency by the standards set in the territories for ridings. I think the rule of thumb is 2,500 people. Just recently, I produced a newsletter and we distributed some 3,200 newsletters to the households, all occupied, although there are a number in the process of being constructed and we didn't include those. So, it is safe to say that we're looking at nearly 3,500 households in my riding and that is about 8,000 people plus. I don't want to refer to it, as people do, in terms of the occupancy of football fields, but I think if you put a few ridings from the southern part of the territories together, they would just about be equivalent to the number of people in my riding. I think you can take Tu Nedhe, Hay River, Thebacha and, with all due respect, the Deh Cho, and it would equal about the same number of people.

I think one of the disappointments that I had as a result of this, although I'm proud to be the representative of all these good people -- and it's a very diversified constituency, with every ethnic group, practically, in the world represented and every strata of our economy, from miners, contractors, carpenters, business people, professionals and civil servants -- proud to be their representative.

But we had, at some point in time, tried to readjust the boundaries in the city of Yellowknife to distribute them around, and unfortunately, that was one of my disappointments because I was told that we couldn't do this for another few years because we had just adjusted that in the last four years or so.

I don't think the phenomenal growth that the riding has experienced was anticipated by any of us in our wildest expectations in such a short time. I think the population of the city of Yellowknife has grown to somewhere in the neighbourhood of 18,000 persons at this point in time, Mr. Speaker, and something like that sometimes requires action that may be constricted by laws and things that we do have in place; for good reasons of course. But it would have been nice to have been able to have some redistribution there to equalize it.

Nonetheless, I am very pleased and proud to have represented that large constituency and look forward to the challenge in the 13th Assembly as well.

Mr. Speaker, the population in the Northwest Territories has grown tremendously since the 1940s. It has doubled, I am sure, with the emergence of the north taking its proper place in the Canadian economy and political scene. We are now recognized not only by the people of the provinces but all of Canada for what we are, what we do and how we do things.

We have a fairly unique form of government. Its uniqueness has recently been challenged and no doubt will continue to be challenged, and we will deal with that as time goes by.

Recognition of our uniqueness comes from other countries as well. We have ambassadors and consulates coming to our Legislative Assembly and looking at the way we do things.

We are to be very proud. We have grown tremendously in the last 20 years, 25 years, 30 years. We have seen a tremendous growth in our population of northern people. People have come for longer periods of time and settled in to the north. They no longer come for a year or two years, then go away, never to return.

We are having people stay here and they are pioneering areas that, at another point in time, we never thought would see such population growth, and sharing with us their uniqueness as well. They are bringing to the north cultural activities. They are bringing us new foods, new ways of doing things and stuff that northerners are able to evaluate and take the good parts from and use.

We, in turn, give back to those cultures some of our uniqueness of our culture and our language and our ways of life. We share with them all of the resources that we have.

So this is a mutual exchange, and I see this because I have the opportunity to participate in many cultural events here in the city and in my riding. I am very honoured to be accepted by the variety of groups that are here in Yellowknife and across the north, too, to participate in whatever functions they have. It's indeed an honour. I don't just take, though, Mr. Speaker, when I get invited; I put back in to the function or the event something about the north.

Any time an ambassador or a consulate general from some of the embassies that we have across the country comes here to our Assembly, I like to, if I have an opportunity -- and I have had a good number of them -- spend some time talking to them and showing them around the Assembly because what is in this building is, in fact, us. It's the people, the way we live, the way we've done things, the uniqueness of the eight languages interpreted simultaneously, the uniqueness of the fur, the wood that we use, and the sculptures that we have that signify our reverence for the land, the country that we enjoy and the cultures that have evolved. I share that with those foreign ambassadors, and they, in turn, take this away with them to let other people know.

We've emerged in the international scene, as well. Unfortunately, the most recent cases of our involvement internationally haven't been all that favourable. In dealing with the fur industry, I was overseas with the honourable Minister of Renewable Resources to try to lobby the Europeans to be able to cut through the emotion that is blocking and blinding their vision of how we live here. We received some success but we have also received a few setbacks, and, unfortunately, the time is drawing very near where this international agreement will impact soundly on us.

We have made every effort in the north to build up our fur industry and continue building it up over the years. Trapping did form the basis of our economy for quite some time, and, to some degree, it still does. But it's being inundated with opinions and a very strong lobby of persons. Perhaps they are in their right to do it, but they lack knowledge of what, in fact, they are saying about northern peoples and how we look at our renewable resources.

I hope that, through the Prime Minister's efforts recently with the G-7 summit and the invitation of the Chancellor of Germany, Helmut Kohl, to look at some of the ways that people do live and their reverence for the land and the animals that they so depend on, that he may take back some of these things and be our ambassador to his own country. Where the Minister of Renewable Resources and I failed to make that little connection that would be so important, maybe Mr. Kohl can do that on our behalf after seeing it first hand.

I know we do get a lot of folk from Europe that come over to North America and the Northwest Territories to marvel at the beauty of our land and use our rivers and stuff like that. I hope, through our efforts here or at least some of the stuff that I do here, that they will take back a message that we are, in fact, very humane and that we do respect the land, the waters, the air, the animals and the vegetation.

Mr. Speaker, while I was overseas last year, I had an opportunity to pay my respects to the Canadian war dead at some of the cemeteries in France and in the Netherlands. I was there for the commemoration of the landing at Normandy by the allies which brought an end to the Second World War a year later. We just recently celebrated overseas in Europe, and particularly in the Netherlands, the Canadian contribution to the end of the Second World War through V-E Day. A good number of Yellowknife and Northwest Territories people went over to participate in this ceremony.

One of the things that I tried to do before I went over last year was to locate some of the names of the aboriginal people who had fought in the Second World War and failed to return. I was not able to do that. While I was at the cemeteries, although I had hoped there was no one from the north in those cemeteries, I said a prayer on behalf of the souls that were there that had contributed so bravely to our liberty. The records of the northern people who put down their shovels, axes, picks and sledgehammers, hung up their traps, put away their hunting rifles and went off to join the military and put their services forward to serve Canada, is not well known. But we did have a number of aboriginal people who did go. My uncle was one, Mr. Speaker, who was there. He left the trapline and the family, and went overseas for a number of years. He was in the D-Day landing. Thank God he was able to come home safely.

Although I don't know all of the names because they were difficult to track, there were at least 20 from the Northwest Territories who did go. They were persons from the north. My mother had given me some information about the ones from Fort Smith, where I am from. There were five people from that community; Metis, Dene, and non-aboriginal persons who did go and served successfully overseas. Fortunately, they all came home.

We must set aside a special place to commemorate the veterans who did serve on our behalf and during the Second World War. Mr. Speaker, although we were just celebrating V-E Day in Yellowknife with several ceremonies, I hope that later on in the year, this Legislative Assembly will see fit to do its own commemoration and perhaps set aside a place in this building where visitors can come and see the respect we have for our veterans who served us so well.

Mr. Speaker, the seniors of the Northwest Territories are concerned that a number of initiatives being undertaken now by the government are going to impact on them over the next while. It is difficult to predict how much of an impact this would have on our senior citizens, but some of the things they have already noticed such as the increase in fees for licence plates and stickers have gone up from one dollar to around $30. That isn't a big amount when you say it fast, but to a senior on a fixed income, it is a considerable amount. Some of the things they now enjoy as far as medical services will have some small fees.

All of these things combined add up to a clawback of a very limited amount of dollars they would have. A number of us in the House are aware of that and are concerned with that. We have pleaded with the government to look very carefully at how we do these things. I recognize the fact that they need to raise money in order to carry out some of the services, but it is also important to recognize the valuable contributions that the seniors have put in over the years. They have paid time and again, not only in dollars but physical, cultural and educational ways to our well being over the years. I think it is only fair that the young people shoulder some of the burden that they are now giving to us. Let them enjoy the fruits of their labour, so that in the years they have left to be with us, they will be appreciated for their long-term efforts.

I know that the government is looking at that and I know it is troubling to them to have to do these things, but I ask again that perhaps they take another look at that to see how it does impact. It seems to be small amounts, but it is like grains of sand; each individually isn't that heavy, but pretty soon it becomes quite a load. That load can break the financial back of some seniors on a fixed income.

Some of the happy times we have had here over the years and things we have done have impacted greatly on the territories. Just recently, we had an opportunity to bring forward and put through the Nursing Profession Act. That allows nurses to enjoy the recognition that they so rightfully deserve. It will help northern nurses to get into the nursing profession and help serve people like they want to. The nursing profession in the south is taking a beating right now. They are forced, because of closures of hospitals, to move to the United States, which welcomes them with open arms. Trained nurses are a great asset to the States. It is too bad because here in the north we still need them. We also want to encourage students to look at that profession as an area that can serve the people in a way that is greatly respected.

I have seen, since the 1950s, the first graduates of the CNA program that used to be taught in Fort Smith by the nursing staff at the hospital, particularly by some nuns who were nurses. They showed tremendous pride on their faces of being able to be among the first of the graduates in their nursing profession. Although there were certified nursing assistants at the time, they had the door open for something greater that they would not have had an opportunity to obtain because of the great distances the educational facilities at the time were. Many of them -- and I know many of them -- who went on to be registered nurses later on, not only nurses but they became the supervisory staff in our medical facilities. Unfortunately, some of them are getting on, like I am now. They kind of pass on this knowledge and this ambition to continue in this profession onto others. It is good to see that through Arctic College and the hospitals in the territories, we can now open that door a little bit more so that we can keep home some of the professional people we need for our well-being for the next little while. Not only do we save on the dollars that we would have spent in the south by training these people, but we also establish something that we may, in future, be able to sell to the south; that is the training program. Come north to learn how to do these things. We could sell these programs and generate income. This is very positive on the side of our government to look to that in the future as revenue-generating initiatives that we can benefit by.

Mr. Speaker, when we look around at the beautiful days we have been experiencing this year, some of us can always see a little gloom in such beauty. We enjoyed a beautiful summer last year and a mild winter. We had lots of snow and little ice. This year is starting off great. We have had warm temperatures. But the little gloom in the background is the low water. We had a dry summer and a dry fall. Although the snow was abundant this past winter, it didn't contain the moisture it should have. It would have been nice to replenish the water supplies in our lakes and rivers. As a consequence, last year, we ended up having to shoulder an extra cost in order to provide electricity for the Snare distribution system; Yellowknife being the major consumer of that system. We have low water and high water bills, which certainly follow each other.

Mr. Speaker, the beautiful weather that we see and the small amount of run-off in the spring is going to add up to extremely low water. I just heard a report on the radio this morning that said that Great Slave Lake was down to its record low level, and they haven't seen the water this low -- I don't know if I should go out on a limb and say ever before, because I'm sure at some time, it may have lower -- as far as records have been kept. The same as with Prosperous Lake, it has never been this low, since they started keeping records in 1948.

Of course, it's frightening because fall is only four or five months away, and I'm almost 100 per cent sure that the Power Corporation is going to be putting forward a request for a rate increase that will impact us. We had one last year and ended up paying 11 per cent more. It's only been for a year, but there is every indication that they will be submitting another proposal and we will be asked to shoulder this burden. Mr. Speaker, I don't think it's really fair that we, alone, shoulder this. We contribute to the Power Corporation through the rates that we do pay here and it is certainly one area I will be meeting head on to try to head off this possibility. Hopefully, the climate will change and we will end up with more rain next year to avoid this in the future.

There are a few other things that I had hoped to accomplish here, including the recycling of aluminum. When we look around our territories, we can see the numbers of containers that come into the territories on a one-way trip. They are all over the place. I think we could almost make the aluminum can a territorial plant, and that's sad too, because of the amount of value contained in these containers, which, if recycled, would represent a revenue initiative for the government. In a sense, it's certainly a money-maker for the entrepreneurs, but there is no deposit on them, unfortunately. That's sad because if there is no value attached to something, there is no initiative and people probably won't collect them as they should. If there were a deposit of 10 cents a can, people never leave a 10-cent piece on the street; they stoop to pick it up and the same thing applies to a can. I do this all the time; I never see a penny without picking it up. But collecting tin cans could become a business and people have asked that we try to set deposits on aluminum beverage containers so they can be collected and recycled. We do this with bottles, so there is value in it.

Mr. Speaker, I did promise that I wasn't going to go on for a long time; I felt, though, that I should mention those areas. They are not major items, but they are complimentary items that must be mentioned. The time allowed for this Assembly is drawing to a close and I would be derelict in my duty if I didn't make recognition of the veterans, seniors, some of the professionals we have, and to point out some of the facts: that we are seeing greater numbers of people retiring in the territories than ever before; and, that far more people are also staying here longer and raising their families here because they see it as a good place to be. We have lots to offer and they have lots to contribute.

Along with the excitement of seeing a country on the verge of blossoming in both economy and culture, we have a very challenging four years ahead of us before division of the territories takes place, and an equally challenging time after division, as the two territories settle into a mode of life like nothing they've ever seen before. These are very challenging times. We are being challenged by what the Minister of Finance says about the economy of the territories, a buoyant economy according to the Minister of Economic Development because of mineral potential, diamonds in particular. But, although diamonds, gold, silver, lead, et cetera, are economically viable and we should look at them, we also have a tremendous human resource.

And that human resource can be accommodated in many ways, as the Minister of Renewable Resources tells us, with forests, agriculture, fur, fish, and certainly, tourism. We attract an awful lot of people to see the north and we should be cognizant of the amounts of dollars they put into our economy. We should assist our budding tourist industry here so we can accommodate these people, so they continue to come.

I guess I can say a lot about the types of services we provide for our people that are greatly appreciated and are necessary, because it takes us awhile to catch up to some of the services available to southerners. As we well know, we go to the south to receive medical care and other professional care, but we are bringing a lot of that home through the initiatives of our government. The Department of Health has established programs here and delivered services here that were never available here in the Northwest Territories before because of the small numbers of people. The small numbers of people have since grown and we're seeing the fruits of that, Mr. Speaker, in terms of dollars spent in the north rather than dollars spent in the south.

As Mr. Pollard tells us from time to time, anything we spend in the north is a dollar saved because it, in turn, is spent time and time again here in the north, rather than going south, a one-way trip out. So, we see the value of that, and the value we receive as recipients of these services. There are many programs that people now enjoy here in the medical area. They don't have to go south and it speeds up the healing process and also stops the trauma associated with relocation. We are certainly appreciative of that.

Mr. Speaker, I'm going to end with a thank you to all of my colleagues for their patience over the four years that I've been in this House. I've worked hard with them, I hope, to achieve our mutual objectives which benefit not only my constituents but also help theirs. The research staff of our Assembly is second to none, as far as their qualifications are concerned and the effort that they put in to help us present our points of view as clearly and concisely as we would like, if we had the time to do this. To them, I owe a great deal of thanks, and to the support staff who keep all of the wheels of this Assembly moving through some pretty difficult times, under the tutelage of you, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Hamilton and the assistants to the Clerk.

I certainly appreciate the Hansard staff taking the time to interpret what I say and my meaning, and correcting some of my oversights. I certainly appreciate that.

Of course, I need the support groups that I do have in my constituency that helped me through these last four years to a great extent.

My family have always stood by me in this, and they will continue to encourage me in the future towards continuing this contribution to northern people.

I want to say, again, thank you to the Members of this House for allowing me the honour of being a Minister in this government for a short period of time; far shorter than I would have liked, but I had the honour of being there, and I accepted their comments with respect and I continued to do that after I became an ordinary Member.

The chairmanship and being on the Standing Committee on Legislation was indeed an honour; and, Mr. Speaker, I hope that I did justice to it as you did when you were the chairman.

I do want to say a special thank you to this Assembly for the honour of being on the short list for the Commissioner some time ago. It was indeed a highlight of my life to have been at least considered for that position.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I would like to say thank you for allowing me this time to reply to the opening address. I said I wouldn't go on, but I did go on longer than I should have, perhaps, but thank you for your indulgence. I'll look forward to working with all of you back here in November.

---Applause

Question 683-12(7): Status Of Dc-4s Used In Fighting Forest Fires June 22nd, 1995

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is directed to the Minister responsible for fire suppression. We have heard a lot of controversy dealing with the DC-4s in forest firefighting. I would like to ask the Minister if these DC-4s are flying. Are they fighting any fires with them?