Wednesday, December 4, 1996 - 3:00 p.m.
THE FIRST SESSION OF THE TWENTY-NINTH LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF YUKON CONVENED IN THE ASSEMBLY CHAMBER AT 3:00 P.M. ON WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4, 1996
Clerk: "To all to whom these presents shall come or whom the same may in any wise concern
"Know ye that under and by virtue of the power and authority vested in the Commissioner of the Yukon Territory, the Assembly of the said Territory is summoned to meet for dispatch of business in the Yukon Legislative Assembly Chamber, Territorial Administration Building, Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, on Wednesday, the 4th day of December, A.D. 1996, at the hour of three o'clock in the afternoon.
"All of which all persons concerned are required to take notice and to govern themselves accordingly.
"Given under my hand and seal of the said Territory, at Whitehorse, Yukon, this 4th day of December, A.D. 1996.
Commissioner of the Yukon"
REPORT ON MEMBERS ELECTED
Clerk: Pursuant to the provisions of the Elections Act, the Commissioner has been informed of the receipt of Returns to Writs for the general election conducted on the 30th day of September, 1996. These returns show that the following Members were duly elected: the Electoral District of Faro, Trevor Harding; the Electoral District of Klondike, Peter Jenkins; the Electoral District of Kluane, Gary McRobb; the Electoral District of Lake Laberge, Doug Livingston; the Electoral District of McIntyre-Takhini, Piers McDonald; the Electoral District of Mayo-Tatchun, Eric Fairclough; the Electoral District of Mount Lorne, Lois Moorcroft; the Electoral District of Porter Creek North, John Ostashek; the Electoral District of Porter Creek South, Pat Duncan; the Electoral District of Riverdale North, Doug Phillips; the Electoral District of Riverdale South, Sue Edelman; the Electoral District of Riverside, Jack Cable; the Electoral District of Ross River-Southern Lakes, Dave Keenan; the Electoral District of Vuntut Gwich'in, Robert Bruce; the Electoral District of Watson Lake, Dennis Fentie; the Electoral District of Whitehorse Centre, Todd Hardy; the Electoral District of Whitehorse West, Dave Sloan.
Signed by Patrick L. Michael, Clerk of Yukon Legislative Assembly.
Commissioner Judy Gingell enters the Chamber accompanied by her Aides-de-Camp
Clerk: I am commanded by the Commissioner, in her capacity as Lieutenant Governor, to state that she does not see fit to declare the causes of the summoning of the present Assembly of this Territory until a Speaker of this Assembly shall have been chosen according to law, but today at a subsequent hour she will declare the causes of the calling of this Assembly.
Commissioner Gingell withdraws from the Assembly accompanied by her Aides-de-Camp
Motion No. 1 - Election of Speaker
Clerk: Hon. Members, nominations are invited for the office of Speaker of this Assembly.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move, seconded by the Member for Porter Creek North and the Member for Riverside
THAT the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin do take the Chair of this Assembly as Speaker.
Clerk: It has been moved by the Government Leader, seconded by the Member for Porter Creek North and the Member for Riverside
THAT Robert Bruce, Member for Vuntut Gwitchin, do take the Chair of this Assembly as Speaker.
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Clerk: I think the ayes have it, and, by direction of the Assembly, declare that Robert Bruce is duly elected as Speaker of this Assembly.
Motion No. 1 agreed to
SPEAKER'S ADDRESS TO THE ASSEMBLY
Speaker: I would like to express my thanks to the Assembly for the great honour it has given to me by electing me to be its Speaker. Mr. Clerk, will you please advise the Commissioner, in her capacity as Lieutenant Governor, that the Assembly is now prepared to hear the Speech from the Throne.
Clerk withdraws to ask Commissioner to return
Speaker: We are now prepared to hear the Speech from the Throne.
Commissioner Gingell enters the Chamber accompanied by her Aides-de-Camp
SPEAKER'S ADDRESS TO THE COMMISSIONER
Speaker: Madam: the Members of the Legislative Assembly have elected me to be their Speaker and I recognize the important duties now given to me. If, in the performance of those duties, I should, at any time, make a mistake, the fault is mine and not that of the Assembly, whose servant I am.
At this time, so that all Members of the Assembly can best carry out their duty to the Yukon, to their country and to the Queen, I would claim for them their undoubted rights and privileges, especially freedom of speech in their debates, access to your person when necessary, and your favourable consideration of their proceedings.
RESPONSE BY THE COMMISSIONER
Commissioner: Mr. Speaker: I am pleased to declare to you that I believe in the duty of the Assembly and, not doubting that the Assembly's proceedings will be conducted with wisdom, temper and care, I grant and allow the Assembly's constitutional privileges. I assure you that the Assembly shall have ready access to me and that the Assembly's proceedings, words and actions will receive from me favourable consideration.
Please be seated.
SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Mr. Speaker, Hon. Members, Officers of the Legislature and visitors: it is my pleasant duty to welcome you to the First Session of the Twenty-Ninth Legislative Assembly. Welcome to those who are returning to this House, and to new Members who are sitting for the first time as elected representatives of the people of the Yukon.
The people of the Yukon have placed their trust in my government and provided it with a mandate to conduct the public's business for the next four years. It is a great honour for me, as Commissioner, to open this session by indicating how my government intends to proceed with that task during the next year.
The women, men and children of the Yukon expect their government to work thoughtfully and diligently on their behalf, and to act with honesty, vision, compassion and humility. They expect to be informed of what their government is doing and planning to do, and to be treated with respect as partners in the democratic process.
These expectations are both just and fair, and my government accepts the responsibility of acting in a manner that merits public trust and confidence. My government also knows that it exists to serve all people of the Yukon, regardless of race, gender, age, economic status, religious or political beliefs, or where they live.
My Ministers and the private government Members who will serve as Cabinet Commissioners also recognize the need to hold themselves openly accountable for their actions, and to manage public finances wisely. They realize that good government requires careful long-term planning, with guidance from the people on decisions that will affect the lives of the men, women and children of the Yukon.
At the same time, Yukon people look to their government for leadership in meeting the challenges of change. My government will demonstrate that leadership by taking a measured approach to public issues, recognizing that not everything can be accomplished at once. A long-range planning process will ensure that major initiatives are integrated into the government's overall activities, and that the public is well informed in advance of such initiatives.
One of my government's first priorities will be to provide fresh efforts to settle outstanding land claims and self-government agreements. As they come into effect, these agreements form part of a new constitutional arrangement that offers tremendous challenges and opportunities for all Yukon people.
My government will be vigilant in its dealings with the federal and First Nations governments regarding the transfer of federal programs to Yukon control. In the face of continued restraints in federal spending, my government will do everything it can to ensure that program standards remain at the highest possible level.
Making Government Better
My government believes that how it does things is just as important as the things it does. It will listen to the people of the Yukon and respect their views. The spirit of partnership and consultation behind Yukon 2000 and the Education Act, for example, resulted in good and long-lasting decisions. Consultation and consensus-building will be characteristics of this new government.
We will encourage the use of modern technology to offer people in both rural and urban communities improved access to their government, to each other, and to the outside world.
The composition of advisory and decision-making bodies should reflect the diversity of Yukon society. Appointments to boards and committees will be made in a way that moves toward greater balance of gender, race and geography. We intend to work with the Opposition parties to formulate ways to achieve this goal.
My government has identified four particular areas in which Yukon people have expressed a need for priority action. They are forest policy, energy, Yukon hire and the development assessment process.
Each of these important areas has been assigned to a separate Cabinet Commission under the direction of a private government Member of the Legislature. These commissions will consist of small teams of public employees, most of whom are currently working on related matters in various departments of government. They will conduct their work using existing resources.
The mandate of each commission will include the need for public consultation and information. These commissions are action-oriented and will be accountable to the Yukon people through the Legislature. They are not intended as a permanent fixture of government; each will dissolve when its assigned tasks are completed.
The structure and preliminary terms of reference of these commissions will be outlined in the Legislature in the early days of this session.
A fundamental principle of democratic society is the right of workers to free, collective bargaining. My government will introduce legislation in this sitting to repeal the Public Sector Compensation Restraint Act. Bargaining agents for public service workers and teachers have been advised that my government stands ready to begin negotiating new collective agreements.
My government values the efforts, expertise and loyalty of its public employees who provide essential services to the public on a daily basis. We believe they deserve to work in a positive environment, free of harassment and intimidation.
My government is also committed to employment equity in the public service, and will present a plan during the coming year to set direction toward a more representative public workforce.
Another matter of high priority is restoring public confidence in the Yukon Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board. My government has begun the process of establishing an independent workers' advocate position by presenting proposals to the stakeholder groups. It is also taking steps to ensure that the board enjoys the confidence of both labour and the business community.
In this sitting, Members will be asked to approve two money bills: the final supplementary budget for 1995-96 and the first supplementary budget for 1996-97.
A key aspect of the first supplementary will be a request for additional resources to proceed with settling and implementing land claims and self-government agreements. This is a timely and prudent investment in the Yukon's future and in harmonious, productive relationships among its people.
My Government Leader has held a number of meetings with the Grand Chief of the Council of Yukon First Nations and other First Nations leaders, to embark on a new partnership among orders of government in the territory. These inter-governmental meetings will continue.
My Government Leader has also received direct assurances from the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development that the timetable for transferring federal programs to Yukon control will accommodate the priority of land claims and self-government agreements. Efforts to reach a tripartite agreement on devolution are consistent with my government's belief that First Nations governments should participate in devolution discussions.
My government will work with other governments to achieve made-in-Yukon solutions to devolution matters. We recognize that the process must be open to public scrutiny, and that those most affected by devolution, including government employees, must be consulted as part of that process.
To return for a moment to budgetary matters, the new government's first full budget will be presented for consideration at the spring sitting.
Public finances are a matter of public trust. Yukon people expect their government to live within its means, without compromising the quality of public services.
The Yukon is in the enviable position of being free of public debt. Reductions in federal transfer payments, and recent difficulties facing a major Yukon mine, may present real challenges on both the revenue and expenditure sides of the ledger. Nevertheless, my Minister of Finance is committed to maintaining the territory's debt-free status while keeping a reasonable savings account for contingencies.
My government also believes in long-term financial planning to provide greater economic security and stability. It is equally important that the working people of the Yukon and their families continue to enjoy the highest possible standards of health care, education and social services.
This is not an easy task, but by careful management and by working together with those who will be most affected by the decisions, we believe the goal can be achieved.
Jobs and the Economy
Yukon women and men recently demonstrated their belief that Yukon people should be the first to benefit from jobs and other economic activity resulting from public spending. The Yukon Hire Commission will work with labour and with business to advance that goal. The government will also review its contracting and purchasing procedures to ensure that maximum advantage of Yukon public spending stays within the Yukon.
My government believes in balanced growth, and in assisting Yukon communities to work toward a positive future. Accordingly, it will work with community leaders, industry, educators, First Nations governments and the federal government to identify opportunities for upgrading, apprenticeship and training programs. The goal is to enable Yukon people to acquire the skills they need to take advantage of employment opportunities close to home.
A key feature of my government's economic program will be to restore the community development fund. My Minister of Economic Development will soon unveil a consultation process to involve communities in the development of this program. In the meantime, he will introduce a community projects initiative to operate this winter, to deal with existing community priorities.
My government will strongly support the mining industry, which is a major building block to jobs and economic strength. Nevertheless, the current situation at Faro reminds us of the need for more diversification in our economy. While my government has responded quickly to address the needs of Faro residents, we must create long-term alternatives to the boom-and-bust cycles of a resource-based economy.
Similarly in the tourism industry, our vision must extend beyond the era of centennial celebrations. My government will work with industry, communities and First Nations to develop a balanced plan for the future. The Yukon has a lot to offer, and we want to present the territory's natural beauty and cultural heritage to the world in a positive, respectful and sustainable way.
My government will also look beyond its borders and pursue relations with our Canadian and international trading partners through initiatives such as the upcoming Team Canada mission to Southeast Asia. We will exchange knowledge on circumpolar issues with our northern neighbours through organizations such as the Northern Forum and the Arctic Council. And we will maintain positive relationships with our immediate neighbours in the Northwest Territories, British Columbia and Alaska.
At the national and regional levels, we will participate actively in intergovernmental conferences and working groups, and present clear Yukon positions on important issues such as social policy reform.
Closer to home, my government has indicated support for private-sector initiatives such as the Canada/Yukon Business Information Centre, and imaginative events such as the 90th anniversary re-enactment of the Dawson City Nuggets' challenge of the Stanley Cup in Ottawa.
Through the Cabinet Commission on Energy, my government will examine the range of energy issues that affect Yukon individuals and businesses. These include the future of rate relief, management of the Yukon's energy infrastructure, power supply options and environmental considerations. Its goal is to ensure that Yukon people can derive maximum benefit from an energy supply and distribution system that is affordable, reliable and environmentally responsible.
The Yukon Forest Commission will seek to achieve consensus among industry, First Nations, conservationists, affected communities and others to develop a made-in-Yukon forest policy. It will also encourage a viable forest industry that brings maximum economic benefit to Yukon people while protecting this valuable resource for the use and enjoyment of future generations.
The Commission on the Development Assessment Process, or DAP, will provide leadership in setting a new direction in how resource projects are reviewed and approved. This is in accordance with legal requirements under the Yukon First Nations Umbrella Final Agreement. The DAP will streamline project assessment through a one-window process, to ensure economic benefits, social stability and protection of our environment.
Strong, Safe Communities
Yukon families and individuals cherish the ability to choose lifestyles that reflect their personal values. The territory provides a unique variety of opportunities, from urban living to the smaller scale atmosphere of rural communities and the rugged independence of life in the wilderness. My government is committed to preserving that diversity.
My Ministers and Commissioners believe profoundly that the Yukon must be a society that provides opportunities for the young and the elderly alike. They believe we have a special duty to those who are vulnerable due to physical or mental challenges, who are economically disadvantaged, or who are involved in relationships that pose a threat to their personal safety.
This week marks the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. This is a time to reflect, and to rededicate ourselves to reducing all forms of violence in our society.
While we wish a need for places of refuge such as the Help and Hope Society, Kaushee's Place, or the Dawson Shelter Transition House did not exist, my government is committed to ensuring that safe places are available for women and children who are being abused at home.
Poverty and homelessness are also unfortunate realities that a caring society must address. My Minister of Health and Social Services has begun consultations with community groups to find a way to carry on the excellent work provided for many years by Maryhouse and the St. Joseph's Shelter for Men. My government will also work with the federal government to try to find solutions to child poverty.
My government has pledged to help the Victoria Faulkner Women's Centre find a suitable permanent home for its programs for women and children. This is part of a larger commitment to work with community organizations that provide valuable essential social services, enabling them to plan their work on a long-term basis with the benefit of stable and predictable funding.
Many of the seeds of future problems are sown in a child's early days. My government will work with communities, First Nations, educators and health and social service agencies to support families at risk. We will also work with our partners in education to ensure that the highest possible quality of education is available in an atmosphere that is free from violence and conducive to positive achievement.
My government is fully committed to excellence in public education, and will renew the educational partnerships that will help prepare the territory's young people not just for jobs, but for life in the 21st century.
My government takes ongoing concerns about crime in our society seriously. The Ministers of Education, Justice and Social Services will play a lead role in pursuing community-based policing and justice initiatives. The process of exploring ways to ensure the administration of justice properly reflects the wishes of Yukon people has begun.
The goal of my government is to develop approaches that keep our communities safe, that respect the rights and needs of victims, and that encourage offenders to accept responsibility for their actions and alter their behaviour in positive ways.
While much public attention has been cast on youth crime, my government recognizes that it is unfair to characterize all young people as offenders. Most are law-abiding citizens who want to contribute positively to society. We also recognize that programs aimed at young people will have greater success if youth themselves are directly involved in designing and implementing them.
Caring for Our Resources
The Yukon is blessed with a natural environment that is second to none. My government believes it has a sacred trust to protect it for the use and enjoyment of future generations.
That is why my government remains opposed to developments beyond our borders that could endanger the calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou herd. That is why my government supports the Whitehorse mining initiative, the Yukon Conservation Strategy and Protected Spaces 2000. That is why it will work with First Nations, Canada, the resource industry and others to bring the development assessment process into being.
An example of difficult wildlife management issues is the Aishihik caribou enhancement program. My government placed a moratorium on the wolf kill, and has begun consultations with affected First Nations governments, co-management partners and the Yukon public to exchange information about the long-term impacts of the program and to seek direction on its future.
With the scientific data collected from this program and, more importantly, with proper stewardship in the future, my government hopes there will never again be a need to resort to large-scale culling of any animal species in order to protect another species.
My government is assessing options for the Tombstone Park and other protected spaces. After due consultation, we will establish a territorial park that reflects the wishes of Yukon people to protect unique ecosystems and archeological sites, and is consistent with settlement of the Tr'ondek Hwech'in First Nation land claim.
Strategic planning in the tourism sector will also recognize the economic potential of wildlife viewing and other wilderness tourism. Like the goose and the golden egg, however, it is essential to protect the source of that economic potential by encouraging activities that will not compromise the environment.
Our Future Together
Hon. Members, this House is a place for public deliberation, debate and decision. Much work lies ahead of you as elected representatives of the people of the Yukon Territory.
Yukon women, men and children look to you for inspiration, leadership and a sense of partnership in the public life of the Yukon. If you provide those things, as my government is committed to do, the years leading to the next century will be years of hope and progress for the territory.
We have many reasons to be proud of this beautiful territory and what we have accomplished together. We also have good reason to look ahead to new challenges with confidence and determination.
May you be blessed in your deliberations. I thank you for allowing me to introduce my government's program for the first year of its mandate, and I look forward to many pleasant visits to this place.
Commissioner leaves the Chamber accompanied by her Aides-de-Camp
Speaker: At this time, I will call the House to order.
We will proceed at this time with prayers. I will say it in English and then translate it into my language.
O Great Spirit, Creator and Leader of all people, we are thankful to be gathered here today. O Great Spirit, we ask that You touch and bless each and every one in this House. Grant that we, the elected Members, will make only strong and fair, sound decisions on behalf of all the peoples we represent throughout the Yukon.
[Translation into First Nation language]
INTRODUCTION OF PAGES
Speaker: It gives me great pleasure to introduce to the House the Pages for this session. They are Marcia Davidson, Jillian Ewert, Jamie Furniss, Amy Klassen and Betsy Sinclair from Riverdale Junior Secondary School. I would invite them to join us at this time.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 1: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that a bill, entitled An Act to Perpetuate a Certain Ancient Right, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government Leader that a bill, entitled An Act to Perpetuate a Certain Ancient Right, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 1 agreed to
TABLING SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Speaker: I wish to inform the Assembly that I have received a copy of the Speech from the Throne, which I will now table.
CONSIDERATION OF SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Speech from the Throne be considered on a day following.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government Leader that the Speech from the Throne be considered on a day following.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Harding: I wish to inform the House, pursuant to the provisions of Standing Order 26(2), that consideration of a motion for an Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne will take place on Thursday, December 5, 1996.
Speaker: I would now ask whether the House is prepared to elect a Deputy Speaker.
Motion No. 2 - Election of Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committee of the Whole
Hon. Mr. Harding: I move
THAT Gary McRobb, Member for Kluane, be appointed Deputy Speaker and Chair of the Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that Gary McRobb, Member for Kluane, be appointed Deputy Speaker and Chair of the Committee of the Whole.
Motion No. 2 agreed to
Motion No. 3 - Election of Deputy Chair of Committee of the Whole
Speaker: I would now ask whether the House is prepared to elect a Deputy Chair of Committee of the Whole.
Hon. Mr. Harding: I move
THAT Todd Hardy, Member for Whitehorse Centre, be appointed Deputy Chair of the Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that Todd Hardy, Member for Whitehorse Centre, be appointed Deputy Chair of the Committee of the Whole.
Motion No. 3 agreed to
Speaker: May I have your further pleasure at this time?
Hon. Mr. Harding: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: Before adjourning the House today, I would like to thank those in the gallery for attending the opening of the First Session of the Twenty-Ninth Legislature and to remind you that there is a public reception being held in the cafeteria immediately following adjournment.
This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 3:42 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled December 4, 1996:
Speech from the Throne