Whitehorse, Yukon

Thursday, November 12, 1998 - 1:30 p.m.

Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with prayers.



Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.

Are there any tributes?


Tribute to Ancient Voices Wilderness Camp and Peter and Margie Kormendy

Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Ancient Voices Wilderness Camp in Dawson City, owned and operated by Peter and Margie Kormendy. This First Nations wilderness experience has just received a prestigious international award from Canada's Travellers Companion.

This European production, printed in five languages, has just today awarded Ancient Voices Wilderness Camp as being one of the 10 best attractions to visit in Canada. I would ask members to join with me in extending congratulations to Peter and Margie Kormendy for a job well done.

Once again, Mr. Speaker, Yukoners have succeeded in making a name for themselves internationally.


Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, the government indeed would like to also stand and congratulate Peter and Margie Kormendy on the operation of their Ancient Voices Wilderness Camp. We find that they are a wonderful example of a product that is definitely needed in the Yukon Territory. I wish them every success in the future. They are good role models for other people. I am absolutely delighted and pleased that they would be recognized at this level. Congratulations to everybody concerned.

Thank you.

Speaker: Are there any introduction of visitors?


Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I would like all members to join with me in welcoming a young Mount Lorne constituent, who is a home-schooling constituent and is here today doing a job shadow on the Minister of Education. Bryn Knight is in the gallery.

Speaker: Are there any documents for tabling?


Hon. Mr. Harding: I have a legislative return, regarding a written question by Mrs. S. Edelman on the matter of the unfortunate passing of Mrs. Flo Kitz.

Mr. Livingston: Mr. Speaker, I have a legislative return to table on a question asked by Ms. Duncan, regarding contracts let by the development assessment process cabinet commission.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I have for tabling two legislative returns to questions from the official opposition.

Speaker: Are there any reports of committees?

Are there any petitions?

Are there any bills to be introduced?


Bill No. 66: Introduction and First Reading

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft:I move that Bill No. 66, entitled Auxiliary Police Act, be now introduced and read a first time.

Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 66, entitled Auxiliary Police Act, be now introduced and read a first time.

Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 66 agreed to

Speaker: Are there any further bills to be introduced?

Are there any notices of motion?

Are there any statements by ministers?


Education in Old Crow: strategic planning

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise and inform the House about a new example in the Education department of our government's policy of involving people directly in the decisions that affect them.

Last month's school council election in Old Crow showed a very high interest in educational issues in that community. A total of 15 candidates ran to fill five council positions. With the settlement of the Vuntut Gwitchin land claims and self-government agreements, the people of Old Crow want to play a greater role in shaping education for their young people.

The Department of Education and Government Services worked very closely with the people of Old Crow in planning the new Chief Zzeh Gittlit School.

Members of the community now want to take advantage of this beautiful new facility to expand the range of courses available. They have asked for help in developing a strategic plan for education that is sensitive to their land claims agreements.

To support these goals, the Department of Education is exploring new directions that will be more responsive to the community's educational needs. This will involve broad community participation in strategic educational planning.

The Old Crow strategic planning proposal will focus on aspects of education that fall within the scope of the Education Act and the mandate of the public schools branch, such as grade offerings, alternate uses of time and changes in curriculum design.

The proposal calls for a steering committee of up to 10 members to guide the development of the new strategic plan. This steering committee would include representatives of the school council, the school administration and staff, the Vuntut Gwitchin chief and council, the local Yukon College campus and the area superintendent.

At the community's request, the department will provide a facilitator to help the steering committee identify issues, express their community vision and develop a strategic plan to address the educational needs of Old Crow children.

The facilitator will meet with the community and the steering committee in early December and then help with the public consultation process, which is scheduled to conclude by March 1999.

Developing and implementing the strategic plan will take place over at least two years. It is expected to address several aspects of programming from preschooling to senior secondary.

Mr. Speaker, government believes this kind of cooperative, long-term planning adds a new dimension to the partnerships embodied in the Yukon's Education Act. We expect that this model may be adapted to other small Yukon communities in the future.

By supporting local decision making, we are helping to make the educational programming and the delivery of educational services as relevant as possible to the needs and values of rural Yukon.

Mr. Phillips: I'm pleased to take this opportunity to respond to the minister's statement about the strategic planning initiative for education in Old Crow, and I would like to offer our support.

By involving the community at the grassroots level, we are supporting the educational needs and objectives of the people of Old Crow. By doing so, Mr. Speaker, the delivery of educational services and programming in Old Crow will be suited to its people and, in turn, will be responsive to the community needs.

The minister mentioned in her statement that the development and implementation of the strategic plan would take place over a period of two years. I'd like to ask the minister, is this to be interpreted as having the programming changes in place within the two years, or is it simply the two years to develop the plan? Maybe the minister could elaborate on that when she responds.

I'd also like to ask the minister, Mr. Speaker, what costs are involved with respect to this planning initiative. The minister also refers in her statement to a facilitator to help the steering committee identify issues and develop a plan. Maybe the minister could let us know if this is a new position, or is it an existing position within the Department of Education, who will be seconded to do this planning process?

If it is a secondment, how long will the position be in place, and will efforts be made to recruit another person to fill the employee's job in the department?

While I am pleased to hear that the steering committee will be made up of various representatives of Old Crow, I would like to ask the minister if any consideration was given to the suggestion of having elders participate in the committee as well. I notice there was no mention of that in the press release and, as the minister is fully aware, Mr. Speaker, as you are as well, elders have a wealth of knowledge and experience that would serve as an asset in leading discussions regarding future generations and shaping the education for our young people. Perhaps the steering committee would like to discuss this suggestion among themselves, if they already haven't done so.

Again, Mr. Speaker, I'd like to thank you for the opportunity to respond to this. My colleagues and I look forward to hearing more about this initiative and developments evolving from this committee.

Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, the public officials who are tasked with carrying out this idea, in partnership with the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation and the educational professionals, have articulated the minister's words to school councils this fall. In addition to distance education, officials have noted that the department is keenly interested in finding a way to deliver programming for secondary grades in our smaller communities, such as Ross River and Old Crow. It's my understanding that the intent is to pursue this idea in this year in Old Crow, as the minister has articulated, and to develop a new framework for delivering the curriculum.

And the officials have outlined that that development may have many of the following characteristics: be experientially based, have dual credit recognition with the local college campus, add at least one additional year to the high school program, is thematically organized, focused on literacy and numeracy, provide modern, practical skills and, most importantly, be based on a template that can be customized to the community. These are very laudable and important objectives.

It's also been noted by the minister and her officials this fall that developing the framework will require creativity and extensive consultation, and the minister has outlined that consultation process for us today. We believe this has potential, not just for Old Crow, but for other communities that are either currently or hoping to offer senior grades in the future.

Mr. Speaker, the Yukon Liberal Party caucus knows that our children are our future. We believe that education is an integral part of family and community life. This is especially true in smaller Yukon communities, where the school becomes a community focal point. Students throughout the Yukon deserve no less than the best education we can offer them. Teachers deserve no less than our support and recognition of them as professionals. Parents, volunteers, teachers and students have a role to play in setting the direction for the school in their community, just as they are doing in Old Crow. The challenge before all Yukoners is to ensure we provide students with the knowledge and skills required to compete in an increasingly competitive post-secondary education system and job market.

We in the Yukon Liberal Party caucus encourage and support innovative learning programs to meet this challenge before us.

Thank you.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to thank the opposition members for their support of this initiative.

The Department of Education officials have worked closely with the community members of Old Crow and engaged a facilitator at their request. Elders have been involved in the process to date, as you have, Mr. Speaker, and I know you're aware of the participation of elders, and they will continue to participate.

My department wants to support distance education measures, and we will develop any programming changes, together with the community, and they will be phased in over time.

We have monies in the budget for rural programming and I look forward to an education future that will take the full advantage of new technologies in distance education as well as meeting other community needs in Old Crow and elsewhere in the Yukon.

Thank you.

Speaker: This then brings us to the Question Period.


Question re:   Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board, fund surplus

Mr. Jenkins: I have a question today for the minister responsible for the Yukon Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board concerning the good news/bad news, $40-million windfall. Yukon injured workers must be very angry upon hearing this news this morning. Many of them must be wondering what is going on, because they've had to fight for every dime they can get out of WCB. At the same time, Yukon employers and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business have been complaining that high WCB premiums are one of the major impediments to doing business in the Yukon. They, too, must be wondering what is going on. Employers, after having paid too much, are being told that they will be paying 30 percent more in the future.

Can the minister explain why the WCB at that Ikea building over there with one of the highest administration -

Speaker: The member has 30 seconds.

Mr. Jenkins: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Can the minister explain why the WCB in that Ikea building over there with one of the highest administration costs in Canada, ended up with $40 million more in premiums than it should have?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, first of all, I want to say to the member opposite that we're very proud of our government's initiative, after years of fighting for it in opposition and refusals from the Yukon Party government, to bring in the workers' advocate to help assist injured workers with their appeal process. We're also very pleased about the Chair we brought in to manage these concerns, who was supported and called for to be appointed on the floor of this Legislature by the opposition. There was agreement from labour and employers to put this person in this important position. As I understand it from the board, they had another actuary do a review of the numbers.

Speaker: The minister has 30 seconds.

Hon. Mr. Harding: The actuarial who was called upon came up with these numbers. The problem, though, is that the board is paying out at a greater extent than they are taking funds in at this point. Secondly, I would disagree totally with the member opposite about the WCB premiums; they are the lowest in the country in this territory.

Mr. Jenkins: It's pretty obvious the minister doesn't know what's going on at all. On October 30, he announced a public review of the WCB act, to delay making any legislative changes for three years. Now, we have another dog-and-pony show, going around the territory, talking about the windfall, while the needs of injured workers continue to be denied by an over-inflated bureaucracy.

When was the minister aware of this $40-million surplus, Mr. Speaker?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, Mr. Speaker, it's always nice to be read to by the member opposite. He doesn't listen to the answers to the questions from before, he just reads out his next question.

Let me say to him, that there was a change in the actuary, Mr. Speaker. With regard to the legislative review, that is a government initiative. What the member's talking about now is a board initiative. That's the board that was appointed by labour and employers to oversee the system. Those employer representatives on the board, I'm sure, will be very interested in the comments of the member opposite, about how he feels that everyone at the board is incompetent.

Now, I would say to the member opposite that these are the lowest assessment rates in the country for employers and they are among the best benefits. The Workers' Compensation Board, overall, is the best funded compensation board in the country, and, Mr. Speaker, they are going ...

Speaker: The member has 30 seconds.

Hon. Mr. Harding: ... through some initiatives to ensure that their actuarial values are crisp and clear, and they can be comfortable with them, that the fund is going to be protected, that workers are going to continue to enjoy some of the best benefits. And we're going to make sure of that, through our legislative review, which we will be bringing in next fall - the member's incorrect about anything to do with three years - with changes to the act, Mr. Speaker.

That's the government response to the situation at the board. The board right now is going to be dealing with the whole issue of how they deal with new actuarial values. They're going to have to cover the fact that they are already paying out -

Speaker: The member's time has elapsed.

Mr. Jenkins:The reason that WCB was created - to look after injured workers - is not being accomplished. We're spending another $50,000 of employers' money, having the WCB run around the territory.

Will the minister suggest to the board that it reinstate the merit rebates to employers, which were cancelled because of money concerns, and streamline and reduce the bureaucracy to ensure the needs of injured workers are cared for as expeditiously as possible? Can the minister assure the House of that?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, first of all, Mr. Speaker, the administrative costs now are less than they were when the Yukon Party government had control of the Workers' Compensation Board when they were in power. That's the first thing I want to tell the member opposite. No, he wasn't around. It wasn't his fault, but he can look to his colleagues to his right.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, with regard to premiums, as I said, they are the lowest assessment rates for business in the country. In terms of benefits, they are among the highest in the country for injured workers.

We've increased access to the system through the development of the worker advocate position, which we're very proud of. We've appointed a neutral chair. We're doing a legislative review to bring before this House, next fall, to make changes.

With regard to the whole issue of assessments, that's exactly what they're doing right now: talking to Yukoners and stakeholders about those types of issues.

Speaker: The member has 30 seconds.

Hon. Mr. Harding: I think that's an appropriate thing for them to do.

But the employer reps on the board, who are nominated by the Whitehorse and Yukon chambers of commerce and other business organizations, are the ones who made the decisions about the merit rebates.

The member should be consistent. On one day, he asked me to interfere in the board decisions. On another day, they said I shouldn't micromanage them. Be consistent.

Question re: Television coverage of Legislature  

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the same minister.

Over the past two weeks, Mr. Speaker, Yukoners in all communities have been able to enjoy television coverage of proceedings from the Yukon Legislature in a prime-time slot, thanks to the efforts of Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon on its own time, its own merit, and without any financial support. Mr. Speaker, I'd like to commend Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon for its initiative to provide coverage throughout the Yukon for the first time ever.

Unfortunately though, Mr. Speaker, this is going to come to an end and rural Yukoners will not be able to see their members at work as a result of this government's unwillingness to support the continuation of the program.

I'd like to ask the government House leader this: what is his government trying to hide in denying Question Period access to rural Yukoners? Why is this government...

Speaker: The member has 30 seconds

Mr. Phillips: ... denying Yukoners the right to watch Question Period?

Hon. Mr. Harding: I can't even keep a straight face in answering this question from the member opposite. First of all, when the Yukon Party government was in, there were many requests for televising the Legislature. All were denied by the members opposite.

We support the televising of Question Period and, even more than Question Period, actually, we would like to see ministerial statements covered and other business going on in this Legislative Assembly. We even asked the members opposite if they wanted to use some of their caucus budgets to try and offset the cost to the taxpayer. They have chosen not to do that.

So, I think that their allegations and the way they put the question are, at best, not in keeping with the exact truth.

Mr. Phillips: I think that's dangerously close to saying that someone is lying in the House. I think that, Mr. Speaker, there is a rule against that in our Legislature. So, the Member for Faro should be conscious of that.

The Member for Faro knows full well that when this was discussed before, it was well over $100,000 to televise our proceedings in this House at Question Period. We are now looking at $10,000.

This government received $48 million from the federal government in a windfall just recently, tabled in the supplementary budget. It spent $47 million of that and can't find $10,000 to televise the proceedings of this House to its rural constituents. That's shameful.

I would like to ask the government why, on its list of priorities, when it was in opposition, it was important, no matter what the cost, to televise the proceedings.

Speaker: The member has 30 seconds.

Mr. Phillips: Now, Mr. Speaker, it's only going to cost $10,000. Is it because the members on the side opposite are ashamed of their answers and the performance the ministers are giving when they rise in the House to answer questions?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, Mr. Speaker, the member can huff and puff and try and blow the house down all he wants. It's not going to give his question any more impact.

The fact is that he's wrong. We support the televising of this Legislature. It's unfortunate that the Yukon Party government, when they were in, didn't see to it that any of that happened. Actually, they were quite opposed to it.

Mr. Speaker, we are in favour of working to see broader televising, rather than just beyond Question Period. The N.W.T. Legislature, as citizens know, is watched on channel 5. They can see that there's more than just Question Period portrayed before people.

We would love for citizens to see what's happening directly on the floor of this Legislature, rather than just filtered through the media. We think that's an important thing.

Speaker: The member has 30 seconds.

Hon. Mr. Harding: The member opposite was ranting about a $48-million windfall. Why doesn't he just say $300 million or $400 million? None of it is accurate, so why stop there? Why doesn't he just continue to expand on what's actual reality?

The NDP caucus is committed to seeing that Yukoners know what's going on in this Legislature. We're working to make -

Speaker: The member's time has elapsed.

Mr. Phillips: Well, it's obvious, from the answers of the member opposite, that he's trying every trick in the book to deflect the question. Mr. Speaker, it's unfortunate that, in the Yukon, you can watch TVNC at night and watch the Northwest Territories' Legislature. There's $10,000. That's all it's going to cost, out of a $500-million budget. We know the money's in the budget already. They don't have to find the money. We know it's in there. Why are they denying the right of these rural Yukoners to watch Question Period? We can discuss those other issues at a later date, Mr. Speaker. That's not the problem. We have the money in the budget. We know we have the money in the budget. What are they trying to hide? What are they trying to keep away from the rural constituents, other than their poor performance in the House in this sitting? What are they trying to hide, and why won't the minister change his mind and come forward and do the right thing? They're supposed to be an open and accountable government, Mr. Speaker. They told us all that. Why don't they become open and accountable, and televise the Question Period proceedings to all residents of the territory?

Hon. Mr. Harding: First of all, Mr. Speaker, the member opposite, once again - as he sits down, I hope he catches his breathe - is completely wrong about our position. He's portraying that, somehow, we're afraid of letting the Yukon people see the performance of this government in the Legislature. I would suggestion, Mr. Speaker, we have nothing but things to gain by showing the people of the Yukon the performance of the opposition. We're more than happy to show the Yukon public the performance of this opposition.

We're extremely proud of the initiatives of this government that we've been undertaking in many areas, from the economy to the environment, health care and education. Mr. Speaker, we believe that there should be more opportunities for Yukoners to see more than just Question Period, so we're working on those options, with the opposition. It's an amazing 180 that the Yukon Party ...

Speaker: The member has 30 seconds.

Hon. Mr. Harding: ... because, Mr. Speaker, when they were in government, they didn't want rural Yukoners or anybody else to see their performance, for that matter, so they were opposed to anybody seeing anything on camera that they did. However, we take a very different point of view. We are interested in pursuing options that would see expanded coverage. We're anxious to see the opposition parties kick in some of their caucus dollars to pay for this particular service.

With regard to our surplus, Mr. Speaker, and the Government of the Yukon -

Speaker: Your time has elapsed.


Ms. Duncan: Before I begin my question, I'm certain all members would like to welcome Mr. Hughes, our conflicts commissioner, to our gallery today.



Question re: Television coverage of Legislature  

Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Government Leader and it concerns his open and accountable NDP caucus and their refusal to allow the televising of Question Period to rural Yukon.

For the first two weeks of this session, Question Period has been televised and is available in all Yukon communities. This is the only chance that many rural Yukoners have had - on television - to see their elected representatives doing their jobs.

The Yukon Liberal Party caucus supports this initiative. We would like to see the filming continue. The Government Leader and his NDP caucus have rejected this modest proposal.

Mr. Speaker, the Government Leader and his team promised Yukoners they would be open and accountable. When will the Government Leader and his caucus live up to their commitment to Yukoners and agree to this project?

Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Speaker, wasn't that question just asked and wasn't it just answered?

The response, Mr. Speaker, - No, this has nothing to do with arrogance at all. The members opposite suggest that I'm pointing out that the member opposite, the member who is kibitzing, asked the question that was just put forth and the government House leader answered the question. The answer to the question is that we do support the televising of these proceedings to rural Yukon. We think that there would be a tremendous advantage for the government to do just that. We also believe that we should be reviewing options to expand that coverage and we would hope that the members in the opposition would work with us to determine the costs of -

Speaker: The Government Leader has 30 seconds.

Hon. Mr. McDonald: So, Mr. Speaker, the answer has been given, that we do support the televising of these House proceedings and we think it would be a good thing for all residents of the territory.

Ms. Duncan: This question to the Government Leader is entirely appropriate, as this subject has come up between the Government Leader and I in this Legislature before.

On April 7, 1997, I asked the Government Leader if he supported televising Question Period into rural communities. His response to me was, "I think we should encourage people in rural communities to see what goes on in the Legislature. As a general proposition, I have no quarrel with the concept."

Mr. Speaker, why has the Government Leader reversed his position? Is the Government Leader ashamed of his team? Where is the open and accountable government the NDP promised Yukoners? Will the NDP position be reversed after the next election?

Speaker: The member has 30 seconds.

Ms. Duncan: Where is the open and accountable government the NDP promised Yukoners? Will the NDP caucus agree to the televising of Question Period?

Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Speaker, the question has been put now - this is the fifth time. The answer has been given that the government does believe in televising these proceedings, does in fact believe that more than Question Period should be televised, and would like to explore options to do precisely that. That was the position I took last year, and I thank the member for doing the research into Hansard and pulling up the quote. That's the position that we take this year, and hopefully, with some good analysis...

Speaker: The Government Leader has 30 seconds.

Hon. Mr. McDonald: ... we will be able to provide television coverage of these proceedings.

Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, the NDP caucus is using their majority in this House to get their own way, to stall and stall and stall. They're stalling this decision, not based on what's right for Yukoners, not based on the financial resources available. They reached their decision because the ends seem to justify the means.

Mr. Speaker, they're ashamed of what they do in this House. They think, in their arrogance, they're going to get away with it. If they're not ashamed, then I'd ask the Government Leader to explain to all Yukoners why they are not willing to agree to televising proceedings of Question Period this fall session for broadcast...

Speaker:The member has 30 seconds.

Ms. Duncan: ... throughout the Yukon.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Speaker: Order please. Order.

Hon. Mr. McDonald: The answer is, once again, that the government agrees that there should be more televised coverage of this Legislature. We have taken the view - and historically, even when we were in opposition - that the proceedings of the Legislature should be televised throughout the territory. We believe that we should be expanding the coverage even beyond Question Period.

I think that we have everything in our favour to be able to speak directly to the public, and not have to speak through MLA newsletters or, with the greatest respect, through the Yukon News or the Whitehorse Star, or any other media outlet. We have a lot to gain by speaking directly to the people, so we support televised coverage into rural Yukon.

Question re:  Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board, premiums

Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the minister responsible for the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board. Three years ago, we heard from the Workers' Compensation Board that premiums had to increase; premiums weren't covering the payouts and expenses. Today we hear the same story: premiums aren't covering payouts and expenses. Yet, in the same breath, we're told there's a $30-million windfall, because one of the board's funds has more money in it than is required, and the board is busy talking about how to spend it.

Now, it's not exactly confidence-inspiring when we find that the money that the board is holding on to is $30 million, nearly 30 percent more than it needs. Is this minister prepared to exercise the power that he has, under the Workers' Compensation Act ...

Speaker: The member has 30 seconds.

Mr. Cable: ... and order a full operational audit of the board's operations to put the various issues to rest so that, once and for all, all the stakeholders can receive the benefit of a neutral third party's views on the board's operations?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Typical of the Liberals, Mr. Speaker. They want some third party to decide every decision for them because, as we're well accustomed to in this Legislature, they are so very afraid to take a position on anything or to decide any question.

Mr. Speaker, the member's correct. When the Yukon Party government was in power in January of 1996, the Workers' Compensation Board initiated their last rate increase. But I want to say to the member opposite that he shouldn't be too quick to jump into the fray here. What happened is there was a new actuary brought in that did another evaluation of the fund for the Workers' Compensation Board. Now, I'm surprised that he's now expressing such lack of confidence in the chair of the ...

Speaker: The minister has 30 seconds.

Hon. Mr. Harding: ... board that he lobbied me on the floor of this Legislature to put in place just over a year ago, Mr. Speaker. I'm sure the chair of the board, and the board - the labour and employer representatives - will be able to speak to the question of this particular change in the actuary. However, one fact is clear: the fund must be protected. We must be able to continue to pay out injured workers, and we must continue to have among the lowest premiums for business in the country.

Mr. Cable: I'm sure that the minister, when he was in opposition, received many complaints from injured workers. Let me tell the minister that both I and the critic for the Yukon Party continue to hear these many complaints. The board is never going to be able to give itself a clean bill of health. It's not going to work that way.

Injured workers, employers and employees need some confidence building in the operations. They need some fully disinterested party to review all the operations - not just the administration costs, but also the handling of claims, the health and safety operations and the administration - to see if we're getting our money's worth. And to put the public's anxiety to rest.

Speaker: The member has 30 seconds.

Mr. Cable: Now, this is not a comment on the board or the board's members. This is just a piece of common sense. This is in the interests of the board's employees, as well.

Why is the minister so reluctant to exercise his power and order such an investigation?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, the member opposite is expressing a serious lack of confidence in the labour and employer representatives on the board, who were nominated by business and labour organizations. He beat me up on the floor of this Legislature to appoint the chair just over a year ago. He pounded away in this Legislature, saying that this was the person - the answer to all the world's problems - who must be appointed.

Today, he stands up and expresses a serious lack of confidence in those board members. Let me just say that there was an actuarial change. An actuarial change means that there was another firm brought in that changed the size of the fund. It's very risky business to draw too many quick conclusions from that.

Speaker: The minister has 30 seconds.

Hon. Mr. Harding: That is why the Workers' Compensation Board is out talking with their stakeholders right now about the issues around the fund, ensuring that they can continue to pay out workers among the best benefits in the country, to ensure that business continues to have some of the lowest premiums in the country and to ensure that they don't get into a deficit situation with their fund, as they have in many other jurisdictions around the country. Those are the types of initiatives that they're dealing with. Those are the questions they're dealing with. I think they're taking a responsible course of action.

Mr. Cable: The minister knows full well that he has the power to order investigations. Surely, he doesn't think his ordering of any investigation is showing lack of confidence. He could be curious in any number of respects, and he wants information.

Let me ask this question of the minister. We've heard about this $30million windfall. The board is supposed to give the minister it's report by June 30, and the minister is supposed to table the report within 15 days of the start of the session. Did the minister receive the report on time, by June 30, and is he going to table it within the 15 days, which, I think, expires next Tuesday.

Hon. Mr. Harding: Mr. Speaker, since I've been the minister of the Workers' Compensation Board, I've been extremely careful and respectful of that arm's-length distance from the board of Workers' Compensation.

The members opposite have asked for that, and I have acknowledged that I remain clearly out of the adjudication of claims. That's why we came up with the position of workers' advocate. I am quite disappointed today in the Liberal member, who has expressed no confidence today, in the chair of the board that he so diligently asked me to appoint. He has no confidence, obviously, in the labour and the business representatives on the board.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to say to the member opposite that it's important that the board goes out and talks to Yukoners, which they're doing right now, they don't need a Spanish Inquisition...

Speaker: The member has 30 seconds.

Hon. Mr. Harding: ... ordered in the midst of this, to ensure that they can continue to have some of the best benefits for injured workers in the country, that business continues to pay among the lowest premium rates, and that the fund is in a 100-percent funded position. These are important tenets on which we must continue to build the system of workers' compensation.

We're going to be doing a legislative review as a government over the next year, leading into the fall of 1999 legislative session.

Question re:   Carpenters Union, award of building contract

Mr. Jenkins: I have a question for the Minister of Government Services. As the minister well knows, many Yukon businesses are having a very tough time making ends meet because of the very poor economy, caused by the lacklustre performance of this NDP government.

It's come to our attention that there was a recent tender let for Health and Social Services for 16,000 square feet of office space. Many Yukon companies bid on this request. Can the minister confirm that the Carpenters Union has been awarded this contract?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Yes, Mr. Speaker, it's my understanding that they have submitted the low bid.

Mr. Jenkins: If memory serves me correctly, on a previous occasion, an NDP government did the same thing with the construction of a student residence at Yukon College. The government utilized the training trust fund, and the whole project turned into a fiasco that the government had to later step into and complete at a considerable additional cost.

Can the minister advise the House if the Carpenters Union, which has been awarded the contract - was it directly awarded to the Carpenters Union or to a company set up by the union? If it was directly to the Carpenters Union, did they have all the necessary business licences to undertake this project?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: It is my understanding that the Carpenters Union submitted a tender. They were the low bid and they'll be discussing all the details of that project as it comes to fruition.

Mr. Jenkins: Well, Yukoners are well aware that the NDP governments like to take care of their friends by rewarding them with public money, but does the minister believe that it is appropriate for a union, with its income tax exempt status, to be able to use its union dues to bid on government projects in competition with private sector construction companies? Is this a level playing field, Mr. Speaker?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: First of all, Mr. Speaker, the member has made an inference that somehow this was an under-the-table deal. He made the suggestion that we gave it to one of our "friends". I would challenge him here and now to put his money where his mouth is on that. He has made a serious accusation, and I would suggest that he is wrong and I would suggest he has done a serious disservice to working people in this territory. Obviously, he has no confidence in working people. He doesn't have any confidence -

Speaker: Order please. Order.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: He only wants his friends - his friends - to get any project. In this case, this was done legitimately. They were the low bid.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Question re:  FAE/FAS

Mrs. Edelman: Well, Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health and Social Services. One of the first letters I wrote when I was elected...

Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible)

Speaker: Order please. Order.

Mrs. Edelman: ... to this Legislature was to the minister requesting a copy of a study on high-risk alcohol behaviour, and this study is supposed to be part of the government's attempt to deal with the fetal alcohol syndrome. I received a response on December 16, 1996 - two years ago - that I would receive a copy when the report was completed.

Mr. Speaker, I asked for a copy of that study again this spring and still have not received one. We are approaching two years. The stalling has to end. This issue has to become a higher priority.

Speaker: The member has 30 seconds.

Mrs. Edelman: When are we going to see this study on high-risk alcohol?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: The study on high-risk alcohol - I suppose it would be more appropriate to call it the Kellner report, because that's the researcher from Carleton University who was involved in this. The final draft was delivered to us on August 31. The report is being reviewed.

I think something that the member may be somewhat mistaken on is that the report was originally done under phase 2 of the Canada drug strategy, and it did not specifically deal with fetal alcohol effects.

Speaker: The minister has 30 seconds.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: The original project was intended to do that; however, the previous minister of health changed the parameters of the study to reflect the fact that at that time there were considered to be no accurate measurement tools.

With regard to when we're going to release it, we're hoping to release it very soon, as soon as we have the availability of Dr. Kellner to come up to be present.

Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, it is really important to know the number of persons with fetal alcohol syndrome and fetal alcohol effects in the Yukon, and that is why I was so excited when we found out that this report was coming. Now I find out that the report doesn't have anything to do with fetal alcohol syndrome than indeed it has to do with other high-risk behaviours.

Now, this spring the minister told the House that alcohol and drug services and the stats branch were conducting - like, they were doing - a study, to use the minister's words, to get a better handle on the numbers.

Now, Mr. Speaker, on October 16 of this year, he told a reporter that he had no time frame yet, and discussions were taking place with the stats branch on this particular topic...

Speaker: The member has 30 seconds.

Mrs. Edelman: ... and this is on this very same study.

Mr. Speaker, we've gone from "the study is underway" to "we're talking about whether or not to do the study." Now, despite what the minister says, gathering numbers about persons affected by FAS and FAE is not a priority of this government.

Why has the minister's story changed from the story of March of this year, when he said that the study was already underway?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Let me try to walk the member through this. The Kellner study is a study of high-risk alcohol behaviour. It does have a component in there dealing with FAS/FAE. However, anyone who believes that that's going to be the substance of it and believes that there's a tremendous amount of detail in that regard, is going to be badly disappointed.

It wasn't designed like that, because the original proposal was changed. Yes, initially it was designed for FAS/FAE. The research tools didn't exist at that time, so the study was -

Speaker: The member has 30 seconds.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: With regard to discussions with the stats branch, we have had discussions with the stats branch. We have had discussions with Education. We also had some discussions very recently with some of our First Nation partners. So I can tell the member that there's a certain amount of ambivalence on this particular issue, because there is concern from First Nations on this whole question. I'm going to be trying to address that in somewhat more detail, getting a sense of -

Speaker: The time has elapsed.

Mrs. Edelman: Any way you cut it, I've been asking this Legislature and this minister about the prevalence of FAS and FAE for the last two years, and people have been asking that question for many, many years previous. What is the government hiding, and why won't they face the problem?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: No one's hiding anything. As a matter of fact, I think some of the information that recently came out from the Department of Education indicated very clearly the kinds of things that schools, and particularly Education, are doing.

I'm somewhat disappointed that the member has such little faith in the folks who work in our schools and work in our special education programs in this regard. We support in many ways the kinds of programs and services for people with FAS/FAE. If I wasn't in danger of being cut off with the 30-second rule, I would go in great detail into the width of those programs. However, time and decorum do not permit.

I do hope I'm standing at the proper amplification distance, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day.


Hon. Mr. Harding: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.

Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.

Motion agreed to

Speaker leaves the Chair


Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Is it the members' wish to take a recess?

Some Hon. Members: Agreed.

Chair: We will take a 15-minute recess.


Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Committee is dealing with Bill No. 65, An Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act.

Bill No. 65 - An Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act - continued

Chair: We will continue with clause 23(1). Is there further debate?

On Clause 23(1) - continued

Mr. Jenkins: Well, the minister has had a whole day off in which he had an opportunity to review this section and what we're looking at doing. I wonder if he's had an opportunity to sleep on it and come to a different conclusion than he was advised to take by his officials - whether common sense prevailed over there or not.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, common sense will prevail on this side of the House. I certainly believe in the new version, simply stated, as I've said four or five times during this debate. It's certainly going to go a long way to ensure safer highways.

Mr. Jenkins: But the minister hasn't explained how it's going to promote safer highways. Now, this section of the act has been in place for many, many years. What resulting benefits, statistically speaking, has the department come up with to support this change? How many fewer accidents are going to occur? How many more lives are we going to save? How many deaths, fatalities and injuries that are not going to occur? That's what I'm looking at.

There has to be some study somewhere that supports this initiative in this direction, especially in light of the length of time that this has been in place.

Can the minister advise us what he's basing his decision on, what his officials are basing his decision on?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, and I will say it again right now, that this is the last time that I'm going to rise on this. I've rose on this for a good 45 minutes in the previous day, and this is the last time I'm going to explain this to the member opposite.

It is done in the interest of public safety and liability. So picture yourself driving down a road. The road is not posted, it is 90 kilometres an hour. When the road should have been posted because you're going around a 30-kilometre road, you hurt yourself, the government is open for liability. This government does not want to leave itself exposed to liability, and heaven forbid, this government does not want anyone to be hurt on our highway. Speed kills. I'm sure the member opposite has seen those advertisements throughout Canada, wherever the member opposite may go.

So, certainly, it's an issue of public safety and liability. This government wants to be very much proactive, and this government would like to ensure that folks that go out on camping trips, hunting trips, or go off to work on a tote road, come back home that evening, or whenever they're to come home.

The important point is that it's done for a health and safety aspect. Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Jenkins: Well, what I'm looking for, Mr. Chair, are statistical reviews that support this direction.

Now, we can always hide behind the umbrella of the liability aspect of it. There is a contingent liability in virtually everything government does. That's the way life is, Mr. Chair, but could the minister advise the House how long this section of this act has been in place in the Yukon in this manner, and prior to that in the English miles per hour. It's been around for a considerable length of time, has it not? Could the minister advise how long it's been in place in the Yukon?

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Chair: Does it clear?

Mr. Jenkins: I see the minister is on his stubborn streak, and he's not responding either because he doesn't know or he doesn't want to take the time to learn.

Now, what I'm looking for, Mr. Chair, is an explanation, an actuarial review, an analysis somewhere that concluded that this was a course of action that was prudent. About the only area that the minister wants to hang his hat on is liability. Can the minister point out some review or some study that's concluded that this is the correct way to go?

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Chair: Does it clear?

Mr. Jenkins: Well, let the record reflect that the minister is refusing to answer a direct question, a direct, legitimate question.

Some Hon. Member: Point of order, Mr. Chair.

Point of order

Chair: Mr. Fentie, on a point of order.

Mr. Fentie: Mr. Chair, the minister has answered the question a number of times. This is needless repetition, and in the Standing Orders that qualifies for a point of order.

Chair's ruling

Chair: The Chair sees no point of order.

Mr. Jenkins: Could the minister advise the House what study or what review concluded that this was a necessary change in this act?

Chair: Does it clear?

Mr. Jenkins: Well, let the record once again reflect, Mr. Chair, that the minister is refusing to answer legitimate questions in this House. Now, what is the problem? Is the minister not capable of answering the questions? Is he incompetent or has he not got capable advice to advise him accordingly? What's the problem? What's the minister's problem? Why won't he answer the question, Mr. Chair?

Mr. Fentie: Point of order.

Point of order

Chair: Mr. Fentie, on a point of order.

Mr. Fentie: The Member for Klondike is using abusive and insulting language by inferring that the minister is incompetent.

Chair: Mr. Jenkins, on the point of order.

Mr. Jenkins: There is no point of order, Mr. Chair.

Chair's ruling

Chair: On the point of order, the Chair would appreciate if members would bring to his attention the facts of a point of order instead of being told that there is a point of order. Secondly, the Chair would appreciate if members kept their remarks from being of a personal and insulting nature.

Committee is dealing with clause 23(1).

Mr. Jenkins: The minister refusing to answer questions in itself is insulting, so it would be appreciated if the Chair could ask the minister to not be insulting and to respond to the questions that are posed to him. These are valid, legitimate questions, Mr. Chair, and that's the whole reason that we are here.

Now, what I'm asking the minister for is the background documentation that supported the decision to make this change in the act. The only area that the minister is prepared to hang his hat on is the liability. Now, there's a contingent liability associated with everything we do, especially government. They usually indemnify and save harmless all their officials, and everyone surrounding them, in every case.

Be that as it may, there's still a liability, but what precipitated this change? What review? Was it a great number of accidents, Mr. Chair? What happened to cause this change? Can the minister please respond?

Chair: Does it clear?

Mr. Jenkins: No, it doesn't clear. Mr. Chair, the minister is refusing to answer the questions. Now, these are legitimate, bona fide questions. What I would like to know is, what precipitated this change? I can understand the liability side of it, but what occurred to precipitate this change in this section of the Motor Vehicles Act?

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Chair: Does it clear?

Mr. Jenkins: Well, once again, let the record reflect that the minister is refusing to answer a question. Once again, I would ask the minister to explain, other than the liability side, what precipitated this change in this section of the Motor Vehicles Act. What study and what review caused it to be brought forward at this time? Can the minister please provide an answer?

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Chair: Does it clear?

Mr. Jenkins: Well, let's start simplifying this for the minister, Mr. Chair. Let's go a, b and c. Did it come from public consultation? Did it come from other jurisdictions? Did it come from within the department? This is a, b and c. Could the minister stand on his feet and answer a, b and c - or a and b or a, b and c - all three? What was it? What happened that caused this change or necessitated this change? All I'm looking for is an answer.

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, with all due respect, there is an onus on the minister to respond to questions. We're going to go nowhere in this House if the minister just sits in his spot and refuses to answer any questions. The member asked a question. It was very clear, and the minister is just sitting there and refusing to get up and answer the question.

Now, one can only surmise that the minister doesn't know the answer, or the minister has no respect for this House by just sitting in his place when he's asked specific questions and not getting up and answering them.

I would ask the minister to honour and respect the tradition in this House that when we're in these kinds of debates, and you put a bill before a House, and the minister is asked a question about his bill, that he gets up and tries to answer it.

This minister has already had a rather rocky week and a half, and this isn't making it any better. The general public, Mr. Chair, is losing all confidence whatsoever in the minister's ability to do his job and understand what he's supposed to be doing, and yet the minister won't get up and answer a simple question.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Phillips: Well, it's interesting, Mr. Chair, that the minister can heckle from his little seat on the side opposite but can't do his job that he's getting paid very well to do - stand up and answer questions.

The minister might think this is a joke. Well, I can tell you, Mr. Chair, he's going to find out how much of a joke it is when the next election rolls around, and we'll see if the general public has confidence in the work that this minister is doing or not doing.

Mr. Chair, the questions were clear. The response from the minister was clear. He refused to answer. The minister has to get up and respond in some way, and he should do that out of respect for this House and the process that we're going through with this bill.

Chair: Does it clear?

Mr. Jenkins: Can we stand this one aside - 23(1) and the resulting subsections - until such time as we have answers from the minister, please, Mr. Chair, and move on to section 24?

Chair: Are you agreed?

Some Hon. Members: Agree.

Some Hon. Members: Disagree.

Chair: I think the nays have it.

Does it clear?

Mr. Jenkins: No, Mr. Chair, it does not clear. What I am seeking from the minister is a clear and concise response, and the minister refuses to stand on his feet. Now, what do we have to do to get the minister to address his responsibilities? I know he's having a tough time doing that. I know he demonstrates a clear lack of understanding of many of the sections of the act, but he has the deputy minister with him, who can advise him accordingly.

But it does take some initiative on the minister's part, Mr. Chair, to go over and, perhaps, go to the department and spend the time and have a briefing on these issues so the minister is fully conversant and he can come to this House prepared to answer questions.

Currently, we have the minister coming to this House ill -repared to respond to bona fide and legitimate questions concerning sections of this act, and the minister refuses to stand up, Mr. Chair.

Now, the question for the minister is very, very simple: what event or series of events occurred that precipitated and necessitated this change in this section?

We have heard the liability component. The liability side of the equation I understand. But other than the liability component, what other issue? Can the minister please respond?

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Chair: Does clause 23(1) clear?

Mr. Jenkins: No, Mr. Chair, it does not clear. Let the record reflect once again that the minister is refusing to stand up and answer. I hope very much that the news media is listening in to see what a wonderful job that the Minister of Community and Transportation is not doing. He's sitting there wasting this Legislature's time by not responding.

Now at hand, we have a very important issue. We're taking a reverse direction with respect to speed limits on all Yukon highways. What we're saying now is that the speed limit is 50 kilometres per hour unless posted otherwise. For decades that I'm aware of it used to be they're 90 unless posted otherwise.

Now, what precipitated this change? We understand the liability side of the equation, but can the minister advise the House what precipitated the change? Why the change? Would the minister please advise?

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Chair: Does it clear?

Mr. Jenkins: No, Mr. Chair, it does not clear. Once again, let the record reflect that the minister refused to stand up and refused to answer the question. Now, if the minister doesn't understand the question, that's my fault. I can help him.

Does the minister want me to elaborate further, or go into a little bit more detail with my question, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I've sat here and listened to this for the last several minutes, and I believe that the minister did respond to the question, and quite frankly, I find the Member for Klondike's condescending, wheedling tone to be offensive. If he really is interested in moving on the business of this House, I would suggest that he get off this particular hobby horse he's riding.

The minister has already responded numerous times, and I think if he really believes that this bill has merit and this bill has import for the people of the territory, he would be well-advised to move on to a subject that is somewhat more important.

Mr. Phillips: Well, Mr. Chair, I'd suggest that the Minister of Community and Transportation Services not take advice from that minister who just spoke. Because we all remember that it was that minister who stonewalled in this House for several days on the release of contracts.

So, if there is one thing in here, in this House, that is consistent, it's the consistency of the members opposite to withhold information, or not answer questions, or deal with issues that are in front of them.

If the Minister of Community and Transportation Services can't stand the heat, he should get out.

Some Hon. Member. (Inaudible)

Mr. Phillips: The Member for Faro says, "What heat?" The Member for Faro should take a walk out there, and talk to a few people on the street in the last week or two - he'll find out what heat we're talking about.

Yukoners, Mr. Chair, are not that proud at the present time of the ministers who represent them as a government. And it's clear, by the many, many people who I've spoken to, from all political parties, in the last couple of weeks. In fact, they're astonished and dismayed at the performance of these ministers, or lack of performance.

The minister should try to answer the questions and not take advice from his ill-advised colleagues, who also have received a few battle scars from their tactics in the House in refusing to divulge information that they should when they're in here.

It's the minister's job to come into the House and defend the bill that he puts in front of us. It is obvious by the half an hour or 45 minutes that we've wasted in the House here this afternoon - at great expense to the Yukon taxpayer - that the Minister of Community and Transportation Services has demonstrated to all of us again that he doesn't know what he's doing, that he can't explain what these bills in front of us are, and that Yukoners are going to have to pay the price, because we know that the government is going to run this through one way or another. It doesn't care about the input that others in this House might have with respect to improving the bill, and that's unfortunate. The minister is getting paid well, and the minister should do his job.

Chair: Does it clear?

Mr. Jenkins: No, Mr. Chair, it certainly does not clear. Once again, let the record reflect that the minister is refusing to stand up, refusing to answer. Now, I don't know if his refusal is based on his inability, or his fundamental lack of knowledge in this area, or his lack of briefing by his departmental officials, or what the problem is, but that's the minister's problem.

Now, the question before the minister is a basic question. We're just looking for the justification for this significant change. Can the minister advise the House why this change is necessary, other than the liability component?

Chair: Does it clear?

Mr. Jenkins: No, Mr. Chair, it does not clear. Once again, Mr. Chair, let the record reflect that the minister refused to answer. This is a very, very foolish move on the minister's part.

Can we just stand aside clause 23(1) until such a time as the minister comes back with the answers?

Chair: Does Committee agree to stand aside clause 23(1)?

Some Hon. Members: Disagree.

Some Hon. Members: Agree.

Chair: The nays have it. Does subsection (1) clear?

Mr. Jenkins: No, I'm sorry, Mr. Chair, clause 23(1) does not clear. Let the record once again reflect that the minister if stubbornly refusing to answer.

Now, I don't know if he has received his instructions from his House leader - the Member for Faro - as to what he's supposed to say. I guess he's obviously getting his instructions right as I speak. I hope that the Member for Faro will advise him to stand up and respond.

Let's get on with this and cut out the shenanigans. The minister has an obligation to bring forward the information that's requested. If the minister can't respond at this time, I would be happy to receive a legislative return before we give final reading to this bill, spelling out the reasons for this section. Can the minister provide this information by way of a legislative return? Is the minister prepared to do that?

Mr. Livingston: Mr. Chair, it's pretty clear who's wasting the time of this House and who's being particularly stubborn. I don't think there are any requirements in House rules that say the member opposite must like the answer given by any minister on this side of the House. The minister has answered the question and, as one of the members opposite has pointed out, it's a rather costly exercise that we're going through here, simply insisting that you hear the answer again and again and again.

I would urge all members of the House to give it their best constructive effort, and let's proceed with the business of the House.

Chair: Does it clear?

Mr. Jenkins: No, it certainly doesn't clear, Mr. Chair. The minister has given a partial answer. There are still a number of issues before us that the minister has not addressed, has not responded to. He's addressed the liability side and the safety side, and they are two areas on which virtually any clause in this act can hang its hat on - safety and liability.

What I'm seeking is where this change originated from, Mr. Chair, and why. Could the minister ...

Perhaps he's now currently received a note that'll advise him as to the reasons, and he can stand on his feet and respond. Then we can move on, Mr. Chair.

Can the minister advise the House accordingly, please.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Chair: Does it clear?

Mr. Jenkins: No, it doesn't clear, Mr. Chair. We have a legitimate question before the minister that the minister is refusing to answer.

Now, I'm not willing to waste the time of this Legislature. The minister has a number of options. If the minister doesn't know, I'm prepared to entertain the minister bringing back this information via legislative return before this act is given final reading so that we can speak to it, or we can stand aside this section.

Now, what's the minister's preference? He had three choices: legislative return, we can stand it aside or the minister can stand up and explain it. There are three courses of action for the minister. Which one would the minister like to take?

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Chair: Does it clear?

Mr. Jenkins: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Well, unfortunately it does not clear. This line does not clear. I'm still awaiting a response from the minister and if he hasn't got a response here today, I'm prepared to accept a legislative return explaining this area or we can stand it aside. Now, which way would the minister like to proceed? There are two options there, or a third option is stand up and provide a reasonable explanation as to why this change in this section came about, other than hanging his hat on liability and safety. There had to be something that precipitated this fundamental change. What was it, Mr. Chair?

Chair: Does it clear?

Mr. Jenkins: No, Mr. Chair, it does not clear. Let the records reflect that the minister is once again refusing to answer. Now, can the minister bring back a legislative return? Let's go through these options one by one. Is the minister prepared to bring back a legislative return? Yes or no, Mr. Chair?

Chair: Does it clear?

Mr. Jenkins: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. Well, option 2: let's stand this line aside. Is the minister prepared to stand this line aside?

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, in the spirit of trying to keep things going, I wonder if I might recommend that we take a brief recess and the three House leaders get together to discuss this issue, and maybe we can come back with some kind of resolution so we can move on.

Chair: Is it the members' wish to take a brief recess?

Some Hon. Members: Disagree.

Chair: The nays have it. There will be no recess.

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, I've spoken to the Liberal House leader, and I think that in the light of continuing, constructive debate, we feel it's important that House leaders do get together to discuss this, one way or the other. Now, we may or may not be able to resolve it, but I think it's important, and that's the role of House leaders after all - to provide and help expedite debate in this House - and so I am pleading with the government House leader to let us take five minutes or whatever and sit down and see if we can come to some -

Some Hon. Member: Point of order, Mr. Chair.

Point of order

Chair: Mr. Harding, on a point of order.

Hon. Mr. Harding: The House leaders can meet. This debate will continue. House leaders can meet right now, but this debate will continue.

Chair's ruling

Chair: I see no point of order.

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, I think what we've just witnessed here is what the Liberal House leader and I go through every day with this government House leader in his approach to running this House. He has basically just said that it doesn't matter about expediting the business of this House, they're going to do it their way. This little boy is going to fall to the floor and stomp and kick and throw a tantrum. He's not going to -

Some Hon. Member: Point of order, Mr. Chair.

Point of order

Chair: Mr. Livingston, on a point of order.

Mr. Livingston: It seems to me that the Motor Vehicles Act is what's on the agenda for this afternoon's Committee of the Whole, and that's where we should be spending our time.

Chair: I'd like to remind members to refrain from making personal attacks. On the point of order, Mr. Phillips.

Mr. Phillips: Order, Mr. Chair. I am talking about resolving the stalemate with respect to the Motor Vehicles Act. I believe that we are completely in order with respect to trying to resolve the stalemate. Now, maybe the Member for Laberge is not listening, but that's what I was talking about, and that's what I was hoping we could resolve among the House leaders - a brief break, let people sit down and think about this for a moment and maybe we can come back in here and move on in this bill, as soon as we can get some answers.

Chair's ruling

Chair: The Chair sees no point of order.

Does clause 23(1) clear?

Mr. Jenkins: Well, it certainly does not clear, Mr. Chair.

Now, the minister, at this point, has a number of options open to him, and he's chosen the one that's impeding the business of this House by not responding - he's not responding and won't answer the questions.

Now, if the minister doesn't know the material that he has to deal with, I'm quite prepared to accept a legislative return on this issue. I have no problem with that. Or, alternatively, we can stand this line aside, and deal with it later on in debate, after the minister has had a full briefing from his officials. Or, the third option, the minister can stand up and answer the question. But those three logical ways of conducting and addressing this issue, and conducting business in this House, are being shunted aside for the fourth option, and that's the minister just saying nothing, and doing nothing.

Now, will the minister kindly respond as to which option he would like to pursue here today?

Chair: Does it clear?

Mr. Jenkins: No, Mr. Chair, it does not clear. Once again, let the record reflect that the minister is refusing to answer the question.

Now, is the minister prepared to bring back a response by way of legislative return? Yes or no. It's a simple question, Mr. Chair.

Chair: Does it clear?

Mr. Jenkins: The other option is to stand this line item aside. Can we stand it aside, Mr. Chair?

Chair: The Chair has already asked Committee twice whether it should be stood aside. The answer, quite clearly, was no, so the Chair will not entertain re-asking the question to the Committee.

Does it clear?

Mr. Jenkins: No, Mr. Chair, it certainly does not clear. Once again, I guess we only have three options open to the minister: we can bring back a legislative return, the minister can answer, or he can say nothing and do nothing. Which option is the minister going to pursue?

We can't ask to stand aside this line any longer. That question has been posed a couple of times, according to the Chair. It's been declined. So, we still have three options available to us.

Can the minister advise the House which option he would like to pursue?

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Chair: Does it clear?

Mr. Jenkins: It does not clear. I am seeking a response from the minister to this item. Why is there this tremendous change in the reversal of the roles? There's the safety issue and there's the liability issue. But, what drove the process? Was it public consultation, what is occurring in other jurisdictions or the department itself? Or was this just some whim or wish of the minister as he was scurrying through the trees this summer or something he dreamed up when he was out fishing all summer?

Now, what precipitated this change, Mr. Chair? That's all I'm looking for, is that answer. Can the minister advise the House?

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Chair: Does it clear?

Mr. Jenkins: No, it certainly doesn't clear, Mr. Chair. For the record, let me once again state that the minister has refused to answer the question, and it's a very legitimate, bona fide question dealing with the Motor Vehicles Act.

Now, what I'm looking at, Mr. Chair, is a response from the minister. And he doesn't even have the courtesy to listen. What has transpired that would necessitate a change in this act to this degree? We're going from the point of view that all roads in the Yukon are currently posted at 90 kilometres an hour, unless posted otherwise, for speed. Now we're going the other way, and saying all roads are 50 kilometres per hour, unless posted otherwise.

Now, the liability component of the equation I understand and accept. We can always hang our hat on the safety component. But obviously, there has been something that's changed, that has brought forward this significant reversal in this clause in the Motor Vehicles Act.

Now, what I'm seeking from the minister is what process and what change - what occurred to precipitate this change? Is the minister in a position to respond, or is he going to remain silent once again, Mr. Chair?

Can the minister advise the House of this change, why it came about, why it was necessary?

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Chair: Does it clear?

Mr. Jenkins: No, Mr. Chair, it does not clear. Once again, let the record reflect that the minister has refused to answer the question. I was hoping, Mr. Chair, that the minister, who has had an opportunity in the last number of minutes to be briefed by his deputy minister to the extent necessary, could stand up and give a clear, concise explanation as to why this change in this section of the act has been brought about. Now, can the minister advise the House why, Mr. Chair?

Chair: Does it clear?

Mr. Jenkins: No, Mr. Chair, it does not clear. Once again, let the record reflect that the minister is refusing to answer a question. Now, I'll sit down in a couple of minutes, after I have asked the question once again of the minister and will sit down and listen to a clear, concise response as to why this change came about and why it was necessary.

Now, we're going through a fundamental change, Mr. Chair, in the posted speed limits and speed limits on Yukon highways. We're going from 90 kilometers per hour, unless otherwise posted, to 50 kilometers per hour unless otherwise posted. Now, the issue of safety and the issue of liability have been brought forward, but there had to be something else that occurred. Now, I'm very hopeful that the government House leader has given the minister his instructions and he will stand on his feet and respond to the question.

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, I wonder if at this time I might recommend a five-minute break so the House leaders can confer with their caucuses.

Some Hon. Members: Agreed.

Chair: Five minutes.


Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Committee is dealing with Clause 23(1).

Does it clear?

Mr. Jenkins: I understand that the minister is prepared to offer some sort of a compromise and provide the information at a later date. Is that the case, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly not, Mr. Chair. I'm not in the mood for compromise. I think what we stand here and do, after talking with the people of the Yukon Territory not over one consultation process but over many consultation processes - the people have spoken.

Mr. Chair, I can do nothing other than continue to explain as I have been explaining. If the Member for Klondike does not wish to listen, well then, certainly, the Member for Klondike does not have to listen.

Mr. Chair, I have stood on my feet on this one particular issue on the previous day for over an hour. I've answered that question many, many different times in many different ways. Obviously, I think we're up to playing silly-bugger in here, and if we are going to continue playing that, then we shall continue to play it.

Unparliamentary language

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Chair: Order please. Would the minister please withdraw the remark. It's clearly unparliamentary language.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: I'm begging your pardon, Mr. Chair. If it's unparliamentary, well then, certainly I will withdraw it, but if it's not said, it's still the character here and certainly in some issues.

Mr. Chair, what I will do -

Some Hon. Member: Point of order.

Point of order

Chair: Mr. Jenkins, on a point of order.

Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, you can't withdraw unparliamentary language and then state in another manner virtually the same thing.

Hon. Mr. Harding: The member did not. What would be unparliamentary is if the minister accused the member opposite of playing silly-bugger or being a silly bugger. In this case, he said that there is an attitude in here reflective of that type of behaviour. He didn't even mention anything unparliamentary. There is a clear distinction between the two, and that's why he didn't say it. That's specifically why it's not unparliamentary.

Anyway, this is a ridiculous discussion. I think the minister was just about to explain how he felt he could provide this information to the member opposite.

Chair's ruling

Chair: The Chair would like to ask the minister to withdraw the unparliamentary language unconditionally.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, I'm of the conclusion that I did.

Chair: The Chair takes it that the minister has withdrawn the language unconditionally.

We shall resume.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, I cannot deviate from the answer that I've given previously numerous times in this House over the previous day and again into today. I cannot deviate from that answer, Mr. Chair, because that is the answer that is there.

I've explained it in many different fashions for the Member from Klondike. The member chooses not to listen. Mr. Chair, we can continue to play these games, but certainly in the interests of the House, as House leaders have put forth, I would be willing to put down, in legislative return, exactly what I have said here in the House for the reason why we are proceeding to make these highways safer. We're looking to cut down on the liability and we want people to return home from whatever trips they might take on these roads.

Mr. Chair, I will put all this into a legislative return, as long as it is not holding up this debate.

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, we're prepared to accept the legislative return, and we're prepared to move on in the bill, to expedite some debate, and hopefully there won't be more of this in the future.

But I was concerned about some of the comments the minister just made, that he's just going to reiterate exactly what he said here today. Well, Mr. Chair, that was the problem. There were some other questions asked.

So, we're prepared to accept a legislative return and move on, if the minister will give us a guarantee that he will look at the questions that the Member from Klondike asked and that the legislative return will respond to those questions, the specific questions, and we can move on.

The other proviso that we would like to put on this, as well, is that we would receive the legislative return before the bill comes to third reading, so that we can at least deal with this matter before third reading. It's not a problem, receiving it before third reading, as that's somewhere down the road. I think that's a reasonable approach.

Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, the member opposite - the opposition House leader - has just changed the parameters of the discussions we had. We said that we would bring back a legislative return on this particular issue as soon as possible. I said to the Member for Klondike that that might even be tomorrow. But, the information will be brought to him. We are not going to put timelines and constraints on it. I think this is unnecessary. If the members opposite, though, choose to continue to work in this vein, that is their right. We will be here until 5:30 p.m.

Mr. Phillips: Well, Mr. Chair, let me remind the members of what was done in the past. What was done in the past, when we had an issue like this, was that we would stand the item aside and then there would be a legislative return tabled. We would come back to the matter later and there would be questions allowed about the outstanding issue.

In this case, if the minister agrees to provide the information that was asked for in a legislative return, we have agreed to clear this item. But, we want to reserve the right, surely to goodness, in this bill, to respond in the third reading speeches if necessary. It may not be necessary.

As the Member for Faro said, we may get it as soon as tomorrow. Well, we're not going to give third reading to this bill tomorrow - at least as far as I've been advised. That means that the department has all day Friday and all day Monday to provide a response to this. I think that's ample time, with the questions that we're asking the minister. It's not unreasonable.

Once we receive that response, we've agreed - once we've received the legislative return, if it's prior to third reading - that we can continue. It's not a really unreasonable request. I think we have already ceded the fact that we've agreed to clear the matter if the minister agrees to a legislative return. That is significant. We at least should be able to reserve the fact that we don't want to see the legislative return on the very last day of the sitting, or maybe even next spring when we come back. We would like to see it before the bill becomes law, if that is possible. That is not unreasonable, Mr. Chair.

Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, Mr. Chair, what normally happens is, when there's a very substantive issue, there's an opportunity at times, rarely used, to stand aside clauses. That is done for a cognizant reason; that is done to ensure that the debate moves along.

The opposition has ample opportunity to examine, to debate, to be briefed, to get research done, to ask questions in Question Period, to ask questions to raise points in second reading, to do it in Committee. This particular question in point has been answered probably 15 to 20 times in this Legislature.

What normally happens is on a point like this is that a critic who is doing their job says, "Well, I'd like just a little bit more detail, so perhaps the minister could provide me a ministerial response. I don't expect the minister to have all of that information here at his fingertips, but he could provide that sometime in the future." In this case, the minister's been most accommodating in providing all of that information, and has even gone beyond what I think would be normally expected of a minister to do, and I think that that is normal practice in this Legislative Assembly.

To go further, I think is unnecessary repetition. It's irrelevant, and the members opposite are trying to exert some pressure on the government and play what I think is quite a wasteful game. But, nonetheless, Mr. Chair, the minister has answered the question. He's offered a legislative return to the members, and the members opposite can feel free to accept that or not. If they don't, they can continue to get up and speak, and we'll be here until 5:30.

Mr. Phillips: I want to get it clear for the record, Mr. Chair. Is the government House leader saying that it's an unreasonable request to ask for the legislative return pertaining to issues in this bill prior to this bill passing this House? Is that what the minister's saying? Because I would have thought that it's important before we actually pass the bill through this House to have an opportunity to at least look at the legislative return that pertains to the bill that we're dealing with. It doesn't do anyone in this House any good to receive the legislative return after the horse is out of the barn and the barn door is closed.

It is a significant concession to accept the legislative return and allow the clearing of this line item. It's not, Mr. Chair, an onerous position to be put on the government to at least come back with it before we pass the bill out of this House.

Hon. Mr. Harding: Mr. Chair, I've been in this Legislature for only six years. The member opposite is more senior, but I can tell him that what he is proposing is not past practice. To set that precedent would mean that the opposition on every clause could ask extensive, detailed, monotonous, repetitive questions and try to bind the government on each and every one of them to bringing forward legislative returns prior to going through third reading.

Clearing the debate is not agreeing with the debate. There should be no misapprehension about that. The opposition has the right to raise the questions, the debate can occur, the government can respond to the level that it feels appropriate. In this case they have. Clearing is not accepting. Clearing is the normal process of moving through the legislative bill after proper debate has been allowed. In this case, I would argue the debate has been excessive on this particular issue, but the minister has gone even further to offer the members opposite a legislative return. If they choose not to clear it, that is their right. The public will decide whether there has been an error here in the process of our democracy. I would argue that there has not been.

Mr. Phillips: Well, Mr. Chair, the Member for Faro can give us a lesson in the way our Legislature works, so maybe I'll join in as well. Mr. Chair, the member has been here for six years and he knows that when you clear an item, when you pass an item through in a bill that, unless there is consent - unanimous consent or at least a majority consent - of all members of the House to go back, we can't go back to the item. So, once we pass this item through, we cannot go back to it under Committee of the Whole. We can raise it in third reading debate. That's my point. The member is making my point. The Member for Faro said, "Raise it in third reading debate." That's exactly my point. We can't raise it in third reading debate if we haven't received the legislative return.

We won't know what the minister's answers are. We'll be as much in the dark about what the minister feels on this particular issue then as we are now.

Mr. Chair, I don't think that's a hardship on the minister to receive that before we pass third reading, and I would hope that the minister would see that. I think that once we clear Committee - and we will, if the minister gives us a commitment that he will answer the questions from the Member for Klondike in a legislative return. He hasn't said that, so I want that on the record. We will accept it as an opportunity to move on if we get a commitment that before we proceed to third reading, whenever that may be in this 25-day sitting - we have until December 15 - that the minister and his department will come back with a legislative return on the matter we've been discussing. That is not a hardship for the government, and I would ask the minister to give serious consideration to it.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, in the interest of expediting - well, certainly not expediting, because I'm certainly a member of the caucus that does believe in informing and listening to people and gathering their thoughts, which is a lot of what these Motor Vehicles Act amendments are all about. They come from the people, Mr. Chair.

But, Mr. Chair, what I'm not prepared to do is to invent answers that will suffice for the Member for Klondike. I'm not prepared to invent answers.

We said that, in this House, you cannot legislate stupidity and you cannot legislate common sense, but what you can do is that you can legislate public safety. You can cut down on liability factors for the government, and that's exactly what this piece does. In many cases, the very minor roads that we're talking about are unmaintained. In the interest of public safety, in the interest of our liability - which I've explained over and over again - we wish to drop these roads. We wish to bring the speed limits, if I may, into more of a line. By doing this, Mr. Chair, it improves the safety and improves the liability. That is what is going to be in the legislative return.

I'm not going to invent anything else. The Member for Klondike wants me to say that it came from this court case or that it was for this reason, but I've given every reason about where it came from and I will put that into a legislative return and I will return that to the member.

Mr. Jenkins: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. Well, I thank the minister for his response. So, the issue is one of safety and one of liability. There are no other reasons whatsoever for this change. Those are the only two reasons. That's all the minister has to respond to at this juncture. Those are the only two reasons for this change - liability and safety.

Chair: Does it clear?

Mr. Jenkins: We look forward to receiving the legislative return, but if it's going to state exactly what the minister stated here in the House, I guess we can hang it on the wall. The minister is still taking a long time to answer a very simple question. I don't know why he insists on wasting time in this Legislature like he is doing, Mr. Chair.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, I haven't been in this House for six years. I haven't been in this House for 14 years. But, Mr. Chair, I've been in the Yukon Territory all my life - born and raised here.

I do know, from losing people over the years, and knowing that people are not going to be around, are going to be killed in highway accidents, certainly brings this issue forth. That is exactly why we're doing things.

I would further suggest to members across the Yukon Territory - and my hearing impairment has certainly been in the newspapers - that we get some devices like the one I wear right here for others in this House who refuse to listen. Certainly, this is a very helpful device. It does provide answers and it does, with clarity, bring those answers next to your eardrum. So, Mr. Chair, please, if you could find a way for others to improve their listening skills, this is a good example.

Mr. Phillips: Well, Mr. Chair, I wouldn't go that far. In fact, I'd add one more thing. Maybe the minister should get the electronic technicians to check his hearing system out, because maybe it isn't working all the time, because the minister isn't listening to the questions that are being asked.

The minister wasn't clear when he gave his answer. He said he was going to answer the questions from the Member for Klondike, but he wasn't clear if he is prepared to table the legislative return prior to third reading of the bill. That's not an unreasonable request. I think his officials could have that to him very quickly, and we could get on with the debate.

Well, let me put it to the minister this way - the Minister of C&TS. Does he figure it's an unreasonable request, to receive the legislative return with respect to the bill prior to clearing the bill from this House?

Chair: Does it clear?

Mr. Phillips: Here we go again. Let the record show the minister got advice from the Member for Faro and is now, again, sitting back in his spot and refusing to answer any questions.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Phillips: The member said it has nothing to do with me. Well, Mr. Chair, the member should know that it has a lot to do with me, and it has a lot to do with my constituents, and it has a lot to do with every member in this House's constituents. We are in this House to discuss matters that are put before us by the government - his government. The bill that is before us, Mr. Chair, is the An Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act. The minister is responsible for that act.

I'd like to ask the minister, then, a question about procedure in this House with respect to this particular bill. Does he believe it's fair to all members of this House to not provide information or reasons or a rationale for decisions he's made or clauses that he's put in this bill? Does he not feel that it's unreasonable that the members wouldn't receive that information until after the bill has passed the House, or does the minister feel it would be fair to provide the information prior to this?

Mr. Chair, in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if we didn't get this information in the next couple of days.

But what we're seeing -

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Phillips: The Member for Faro says, "Well, then, sit down." Because he says we'll get it very quickly. So, what it boils down to is arrogance and a stubborn approach of members opposite.

Some Hon. Member: Point of order, Mr. Chair.

Point of order

Chair: The hon. Member for Faro, on a point of order.

Hon. Mr. Harding:    I think in Beauchesne that you'll find that "arrogance", inferring that the minister's showing arrogance, would be unparliamentary.

Chair's ruling

Chair: The Chair would like to bring to the attention to members on both sides of this House section 19(1) in the Standing Orders of the Yukon Legislative Assembly, which reads as follows: "A member will be called to order by the Speaker if that member uses abusive or insulting language of a nature likely to create disorder."

I would like to ask all members to respect this rule.

Mr. Phillips: When does the minister think he might be able to come back with a legislative return with respect to the issues we've been discussing?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: I will very much endeavour to get the legislative return back as soon as possible. Certainly, Mr. Chair, this government does not wish to do anything to impede the parliamentary process and certainly we'll stick within realistic time frames for the gentlemen - that might be considered unparliamentary, also - for the critics opposite, the official opposition. So certainly, Mr. Chair, I give my word that I'll make best efforts to get it to folks prior to the third reading.

Mr. Phillips: That was difficult to get out. I appreciate the minister's answer and I hope that we can move on in the debate.

Clause 23(1) agreed to

On Clause 23(2)

Clause 23(2) agreed to

Clause 23 agreed to

On Clause 24

Mrs. Edelman: This is interesting because in the section prior to this we talked about safety and here what we're doing is we're taking on an additional liability by saying that it's okay for adults and children to be in the back of a truck as long as they are below waist height. In the previous clause we talked about how we have to drop the speed limit down to 50 kilometers per hour from 90 kilometers per hour.

You know, it's a little hard to figure out where the consistency is here. I know that it's a fact of life in rural Yukon that people use their trucks and people drive around in the back of their trucks, and I think that that's still the way it is here and probably that will change over time.

But it won't change over time if we say it's okay, if we say in our legislation that not only do we recognize that that's a fact of life in the Yukon but that that is okay and that we will continue to condone that.

Now, plainly I remember reading all sorts of tomes and tracks from humane societies across Canada talking about how unfair and how unsafe it was to have your dog in the back of your truck and all these studies about all these terrible things that could happen if your dog went flying out of the back of your truck.

We're talking about people here, and that's a little bit more dangerous, not to say that some dogs aren't as valuable as some people, but, Mr. Chair, I'm not too sure why we need to even have this clause in here. To me, all that it does is condone a type of behaviour that's terribly unsafe, and it opens us to all sorts of liabilities because we condone it in legislation.

Now, I know that, now, it's okay for people to go in the back of their pickups, but if we say not only is it okay, but it's okay if you follow these rules, which are ridiculous, because it makes almost no difference, then we're causing a problem. I'd like the minister to consider - seriously consider - what he's doing here with this clause, and perhaps give me an extremely good reason, other than to remark on the way things are in the rural communities, why we need to have this in here, and why it makes any difference to have your waist below the railing.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, I can certainly agree with the Member for Riverdale South that it is a dangerous experience, I guess you might say, because I'm sure that every one of us has ridden around in the back of a pickup truck at one point in time or other.

As I grappled with this, as it came through in the last year, I thought, well, you certainly have to recognize that Yukon does have different ways of doing things. People are different in the Yukon Territory. I can take, for example, myself - and I will use myself as this example, and I'm not specifically limited to me here, because it happens with many, many people in many, many jurisdictions, in many areas of the Yukon Territory. There's a group of folks who are going to go on a hunting trip, or a gathering trip, whether it's in the springtime hunting beaver, or whether it's in the fall hunting moose, or whatever we might be doing. We travel together in numbers, usually in the groups that I travel with - well, sometimes because I'm such a terrible shot, it's just myself, but generally it's four people, or so, with us. We try to travel in one vehicle to cut down on costs and to make it easier because, if there are the four of us, one of our wives, or partners, or somebody like as such, would come along and give us the drive. So we've gone with one boat, one truck, four sleeping bags, and all the necessary type of gear.

What we thought is that one person - or in some situations, maybe two people - has to ride in the back because they surely can't sit up in the front because there are no seat belts, et cetera.

So, our caucus thought - and we've taken it to other people - that if we could recognize a unique Yukon lifestyle by allowing folks to ride in the back of a pickup truck, but as long as - in my case, it's pretty obvious where my centre of gravity is - your centre of gravity is lower than the box top, you're not in danger of falling out. So certainly, Mr. Chair, that is the reason why we put this in there. If you're lower down, you're not going to be able to fall out. It's a safe practice.

Now, Mr. Chair, it is not to be inclusive of children. Certainly, children six and under are required by seat belt legislation to have seat belts. So, it would not be applicable to children under six, and I certainly am hoping that the member opposite would look at it in that way. It's not that we expect folks to be travelling down the Alaska Highway breaking speed limits to get to the bank in Whitehorse or wherever they might have to get. It's simply to try to accommodate that rural subsistence type of lifestyle that many in this room, whether you are native or non-native, enjoy and participate in.

Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, just to be clear - it's perfectly clear to me that this is a situation that exists in all Yukon communities, not just rural communities. I suppose that my problem with this is that you really aren't significantly or insignificantly any safer if you are below the railing. You know, if you hit something at 80 kilometres an hour, everybody, even the dog, is going to get thrown out of the back of the pickup along with whatever else might be in there. This is a false sense of security. To me, what this does is point out that maybe, if you're in the back of a pickup truck but you're below the railing, you're safer somehow.

You're not safer, at all. That's ridiculous.

If, for some reason, the minister is going to condone this activity, which this clause does, then I don't think it makes sense that you talk about people being below their waist - if they can find it - and being below the railing. I suppose that that's the thing, if the minister will consider it.

The old reading, if I recall from the old act, says that it's okay to be in the back of a pickup truck. What this one says is that it's okay to be in the back of a pickup truck, but especially if you're below the railing. Well, it doesn't make any difference if you're below the railing. You're going to fly out of the back of the pickup truck, one way or another. But, you're saying in this one that children under the age of six have to be in a child restraint chair or mechanism, but for children who are seven, it's the death sentence in the back.

I suppose that what I'm saying is that I don't see any reason to repeal the old one and replace it with this one. This is a false sense of security. There is no evidence anywhere to say that, if you're below the back of the railing and you hit something at 80 kilometres an hour, you're going to be any safer.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, certainly, the Member for Riverdale South is absolutely correct. Right now, there is nothing prohibiting passengers from riding in the back of an open truck. So, certainly, they can sit with their centre of gravity right on the pickup rail if they like; they can sit with their centre of gravity right on the toolboxes in the back or they can sit just about any doggone place they want.

Certainly, I agree that folks in the back do get hurt and killed by riding in the back. This clause is not to condone the folks coming down the Two Mile Hill and just rattin' to get somewhere. This is not meant to condone that. What this is meant to do is just not to make lawbreakers out of some rural folks, who do necessarily use that type of transportation.

So, certainly that's what it's for. It's not meant to say licensed wholesale, people allowed to go in the back of their pickup to get here, but certainly to allow people in the sporting community, the wilderness tour association, to be able to transport folks in a safe and expeditious manner.

Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, before we actually clear this, you know, roaring around in the back of the pickup truck, coming down the Two Mile Hill to either go to the bank, or for any other reason, whether you're above the railing or below the railing makes absolutely no difference whatsoever. What this does is condone behaviour that is unsafe, much like the change in the previous section, where you condone behaviour by saying 90 kilometres per hour, because that was unsafe on many roads in the Yukon. This is unsafe anywhere.

I see that the minister's made up his mind that he is going to do this, regardless. So what I'm asking the minister now is, if you are going to do this, once again, you cannot legislate against stupidity, but we try it and try it. It just doesn't work.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mrs. Edelman: There's always one exception.

So, Mr. Chair, if the minister could outline for me what sort of public announcements, or how he's going to get into the rural communities to talk about this new legislation and, also, to be very, very careful about protecting the government's liability factor on this issue. If the minister could tell me those two things, I would greatly appreciate it.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: If the Member for Riverdale South does have some answers or solutions to the problem, certainly I'd be very willing to entertain and listen to them - very much so. I'm very desirous of the Member for Riverdale South to be able to give me some information on how we'd be able to accommodate that and to go both ways. Because, simply, that's what I'm trying to reflect. I'm not trying to say that you can fill up the back of your truck and just go off and do these types of things, and cruise down the road joy-riding, or anything. That's not the intent of it at all. The intent was to try to accommodate a rural lifestyle in certain situations.

So, certainly, we will work with the rural communities and the RCMP and the public at large to bring some type of educational thoughts to them, to get them to understand that. Again, I want them to come home. We didn't lower the speed limit on roads that are not posted to not bring them home. I'm not going to say load up the back of your truck and go rattin' around. So, it's certainly meant to be able to accommodate.

Please, if the member opposite does have something, again I say it would be very desirous to find out a way to mutually accommodate this.

Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, despite the fact that everyone in this House is a politician, not all of us are PR people. I suppose that what I'm saying is that if you are going to be doing a public service sort of thing where you're telling people about how you can do this in the back of a truck, you should in no way mislead people that this makes you safe by being below the rail. It doesn't. I suppose that that will be my concern.

The other issue that I'd like to hear about from the minister is, how are we protecting our liability issues here? I mean, we have 29 lawyers on staff or some such unbelievable number. Have they gone through this and talked about our liability?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, this has been through the lawyers and the lawyers have not raised the liability factor as a problem with us. But I will check and, as a matter of courtesy, get back to the member opposite as soon as I possibly can on that.

I want the Member for Riverdale South to feel assured that, through a very rigorous educational program - and maybe a continuing one of sorts within the driver brochure, et cetera - we would let them know that this is meant to accommodate a lifestyle, not necessarily to say that you're going to make it home, et cetera. So, it's sort of a last resort - that's what it was - to accommodate lifestyles, not to promote a new way of doing things.

Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Chair, this whole section deals with riding on the outside of vehicles. If you look at that whole section, it starts off by stating, "No person shall ride or permit any other person to ride on the outside of a motor vehicle." Then it says, "Subsection (1) does not apply to a person riding ..." and there are various categories. What we're looking at is amending section "(b) in the box of a truck".

But if you look at the other categories, Mr. Chair, "in or on any firefighting vehicle." Now, if you extrapolate that and look at what the Workers' Compensation Board has entered into, by way of regulations, as to how someone in a fire department is permitted to ride on a fire truck, you'll see, clearly defined and outlined for the safety of the fire department or the firefighters, how they are to be attached to that vehicle. So that they can't be dragged, they actually have a tether onto the back of the fire truck.

If you look at the other sections of that same clause, "in a vehicle forming part of an entertainment exhibit," or on a "special vehicle that has a special standard seat," and then you start looking at the Workers' Compensation regulations for that area, that refer to floats and exhibits, they are restricted to a very, very low speed in order to ensure the safety of those who are on that float.

Now, all of these sections are covered off in one way or the other, with the exception of this one. What we're saying now, we're expanding on riding in the back of a pickup truck or the box or a truck - it doesn't even say a pick-up truck, it says the box of a truck. That could be a 16-wheeler; that could be virtually any configuration, and there's no restriction as to speed.

That vehicle could be going the legal speed limit and, unlike the firetruck, the individuals in the back are not tethered to the truck by safety harnesses, and unlike the people on the float that is restricted to a very, very low speed, so that they could virtually fall off that float and probably only get some scrapes and cuts but not be hurt, people riding in the box of a truck - boy, if that vehicle has to stop suddenly from a high rate of speed, they don't have anywhere near the protection, Mr. Chair, as someone who is properly seat belted in. So, are we actually encouraging the lifestyle of Yukoners by permitting this and expanding on it and just stating that you have to be contained below the rail of that truck? I don't feel that that is the case.

Now, about the only time I believe this clause regarding the box of a pickup truck is necessary is in the case of an emergency, when you have to transport people from A to B, but it would appear that the minister is using this for carpooling reasons, and I don't think that that's the intent.

While we're on that same section, Mr. Chair, consideration should be brought to amend section 3 - "No person shall draw or tow by a motor vehicle on a highway any person riding a sled, toboggan, skis, motor cycle, scooter, moped, snowmobile or bicycle." There's an inherent problem right in that section 3 that hasn't even been considered. A snowmobile can be licensed as a motor vehicle. It has to conform to the same rules and regulations, and very, very frequently, in rural areas of the Yukon, a snowmobile will break down, and it is towed by another snowmobile. Now, I'm told the only exception is Arctic Cat, but I beg to differ with the Member for Riverdale South.

But, there is an issue that hasn't even been addressed. Now, in other jurisdictions that I'm familiar with in Canada, it's completely illegal to drive in the back of a pickup. In fact, it's even illegal to keep your dog in the back of a pickup.

Now, certainly, if we're concerned with the safety of Yukoners and the subsequent liability of government, this is a situation that should not be allowed to occur unless it's an emergency situation.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, the information from the opposite side of the House is coming with some suggestions and food for thought, if I can put it in that way.

What I can certainly do, so as not to hold up the debate, is get an understanding. We could look at possibilities in the future.

A couple of points have just come down on the liability issue. The legal folks within government advise that this does not increase liability to the territorial government - not at all.

Now, it might increase the driver's liability, but I'm sure that that would be - Folks know what they're getting into when they do these things, and certainly we could let the general public know, through an education of the law coming up. I can certainly make sure that all of those are in there.

Another issue is that all the seat belts need to be filled before we would have folks riding in the back. So certainly I can put some thought to this, try to accommodate what you're saying, because I do understand you're saying it for the health and safety of folks riding in the back of pickup trucks.

We're not far apart on this, but I would like to again find some way to accommodate that rural lifestyle. You know, there might be the speed issue. I'm not sure if it was the Member for Riverdale South or the Member for Klondike who brought that up. Certainly I can talk about those and think about some situations and try to come up with a situation that would both respect where you're thinking and where we're trying, on this side of the House, to accommodate.

Mr. Jenkins: Well, I'm pleased to hear the minister's position on that, because we're looking at a jurisdiction right next door, in British Columbia, and while I don't agree with most things the Government of British Columbia is doing currently, I will point out to the minister that riding in the back of a pickup in British Columbia is illegal. I will point out to the minister that if you're carrying a dog in the back of a pickup in British Columbia, it has to be either in a cage or it has to be tethered with a chain so that it can't leap out. So I would think that that's tethered to both sides of the pickup and the dog is in the middle.

Now, the liability side, I'm not sure who's giving the government their advice on this matter but I'd suggest to the minister that this could be a very contentious issue as to the subsequent liability to the Government of Yukon for permitting people to be allowed to ride in the back of a moving vehicle, even in the manner that we're looking at amending to.

Could I ask the minister, while he's looking at this section, to cross-reference it to the regulations contained in the WCB regulations? If the minister doesn't have a copy of the book in his office, I have the little white book. I can send a copy over for his consideration - it'd be good bedtime reading - so he can have a look at where it cross-references. All these areas are very well protected to ensure the safety of those involved in riding on the outside of the vehicle or on a float, either by tethering them there or by the speed of that vehicle.

I would ask the minister if he would please entertain an amendment to section 3 of that same subsection 186 to permit a snow machine to tow another snow machine on a highway. Could he also entertain that amendment at this juncture, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, we will look at what both the members from the opposition parties have brought forth and will give them very serious consideration to see ways to make life just a little better and to accommodate our lifestyles here in the Yukon.

Clause 24 agreed to

On Clause 25

Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, can we have a little bit more detail on this section, please?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, section 255 of the Criminal Code deals with the offence of impaired driving causing bodily harm. Now, while it can be argued that the existing provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act do apply to this offence, the amendment will bring legal certainty to it and ensure that it is exactly what we'd want and that's simply the intent of this - to bring legal certainty.

Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, I have to go back to what I was speaking about earlier in this debate, earlier in the bill, and about how we're legislating about impaired driving, and we're not talking about being impaired with drugs. One of the things they do in other jurisdictions is have drug recognition experts. I spoke to the minister about that at the time.

I got some information about marijuana in particular and its effect on driving, and I'd like to read that into the record because it's actually quite interesting.

Now, this comes from a study in B.C. It talks about multiple vehicle crashes compared to drunk drivers or single-vehicle accidents. It says, "For most driving studies worldwide, and including Canada, marijuana is the most commonly detected drug after alcohol. Now, Health Canada states that marijuana use increases the risk of a motor vehicle accident at least two to four times and, even with moderate to low dose marijuana, driving performance can be impaired for up to 24 hours." This goes on to say, "A recent impaired driving study demonstrated that if police could test for marijuana, then one-third of those currently set free to resume driving impaired could be taken off our roads." I'll go on. It's just astonishing how much information is available on this.

It says that, "Alcohol use, along with marijuana use, is common, and the combined effects of both drugs is well documented to cause increased behavioural and motor-skill performance problems. The Criminal Code addresses drug-impaired driving, and driving while intoxicated includes being impaired by any mind-altering substances, as defined under law impairment, could arise from ingestion of legal drugs, like alcohol, illegal drugs, marijuana, cocaine, LSD or non-prescription drugs."

So, there is something in the Criminal Code, and I think we need to recognize that as well. Then we're going on to truck drivers. Now, it says "stoned". I gather that's someone who's under the effect of some sort of drug. "Stoned truck drivers are a significant problem on our roads. In Canada, there has been public outcry over poor truck maintenance, which has caused senseless deaths by acts such as truck wheels flying through the windshield of cars, but another very real danger in Canada, besides truck maintenance, is the impairment of truck drivers. Most of us are unaware that truck drivers, carrying loads which could weigh more than 15 tonnes, have a good chance of being impaired by alcohol, marijuana, codeine or all three."

"Results of a recent U.S. study show that cannabis and alcohol were found equally in 13 percent of the drivers, and those found positive for the combination of drugs and alcohol were determined to be 90-percent responsible for causing or contributing to the cause of the accident in which they and others were killed. "

The Canadian Automobile Association - the CAA - argues that, "Heavy truck drivers should be subject to the strictest penalties for driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs, reflecting the danger and the risk associated with the operation of a heavy vehicle on a public road. The law has not changed to reflect this very real danger."

As to the effects of marijuana on driving performance, "Marijuana use causes central nervous effects, which alter driving performance. So, based on the results of numerous open and closed course driving studies, a person who is stoned on marijuana cannot drive properly if the following everyday situations occur: emergency situations, such as having to break quickly if a car cuts you off or having to pull over to the right quickly when an ambulance approaches from behind; in the performance of a concurrent task, involving divided attention" - I'll bring you back to that issue about having children in the car - "the driver and passengers engaging in conversation, the driver attempts to concentrate on lyrics playing on the radio and sings along; the cellphone rings or, worse, the person attempts to dial a phone number while driving; any kind of monotonous driving .. ." and I can tell you that that's a lot of the Yukon.

Health Canada's assessment of the effects of marijuana on driving include many of the above points. Also, "Marijuana use increases the risk of motor vehicle accidents two to four times. Even with a moderate to low dose, cycle motor performance can be impaired for up to 24 hours, and marijuana use also affects the ability to judge the time required to pass another vehicle and safety as it is related to staying in or changing lanes."

Mr. Chair, plainly, we talk a lot in the amendments on impaired driving about the interlock devices and everything else. That's supposed to save us from people who are likely to go out and drink alcohol. They breathe into the little tube and their vehicle won't work. But, there's a great issue. Plainly, especially for young drivers, as all these studies suggest, we need to be looking at marijuana use as well. The impairment factor with marijuana is far greater than with alcohol, as it does last longer.

I suppose that I'm pleading with the minister to take a look at this issue - very, very seriously look at this issue.

There are way too many kids out there using marijuana, and where they usually smoke up, apparently - or toke up, or whatever you do - is in their cars. That's the most common place for them to do that, probably because in most homes it's not allowed, or on most educational properties.

Could the minister look at this issue, talk to drug recognition experts, and perhaps come back to the House at some point in the future and say at least that this issue was examined? It's timely, it's what's out there, and we need to look at that very seriously, as legislators.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, it was my own oversight not to have gotten back to the member opposite, because I did check on the drug programs, the drug efficiency, or the drug expert - I forget exactly just what you call it - but it's not one person within the RCMP; it's a course that they take regularly to refresh themselves. So, certainly, they see it as we see it. It's a problem that is occurring, and certainly, we'll take very seriously the comments of the Member for Riverdale South, and try to find a way that we might be able to bring this problem back to being less of a problem.

Chair: Does it carry?

The time being about 4:30, is it the wish of the members to take a recess?

Some Hon. Members: Agreed.

Chair: Ten minutes.


Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Committee is dealing with clause 25. Is there further debate?

Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, the Member for Riverdale South elaborated quite extensively on the issue of drug abuse and its effects on motor vehicle operation. There is a wide use of a number of drugs in the Yukon and their use, by and large, is going undetected. I'm sure it's cause for concern, given that there's not a test as reliable as the test that's administered by the RCMP for alcohol.

I would like to know what the government's timetable is for addressing this issue, or even if the minister is concerned about it and will be addressing it. Is it something, or in an area, that will be brought forward in the not-too-distant future?

I can recall a number of years ago attending a seminar put on by the U.S. Coast Guard in Anchorage, and the extent that they went to for drug and alcohol testing of all those on the various boats. The fishing boats had a large accident rate - a considerable number of deaths in the State of Alaska. After the implementation of this program, they cut deaths considerably. Most of the deaths were drug related, not alcohol related, Mr. Chair.

So it's an area that is going undetected, and it's an area that we need to address to ensure safety on our highways. I was hoping the minister could enlighten us with an overview of how he sees these changes being implemented and when they will be forthcoming.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, certainly, Mr. Chair, I did say that we, on this side of the House, do take the provision very, very seriously. We do want to have safer highways; hence the Motor Vehicles Act amendments here in front of us.

Certainly I said that I would talk to our partners, and in this situation there are many partners, one of which is the RCMP. Certainly, with some good discussion, good talk in trying to be able to solve the problem, I think we might be able to find a solution.

There are probably many legal barriers, I would say, to this type of a thing, but certainly I will look at it very seriously. I can't promise a timeline on something like this. We certainly know that it's not going to be entered into in this debate at this point in time, simply for the fact that we do not have the time for it. But certainly I give my word that I'll make best efforts to talk to all of the partners involved in trying to find a meaningful way to curb this problem.

And there are many different situations, after listening to the Member for Klondike, and the Member for Riverdale South, and I'm sure that there's much food for fodder, and direction to move upon.

Mr. Jenkins: Well, the trend today to more and more drug and alcohol testing of those engaged in various industries - it's growing all through the States - and it's proven to be quite advantageous from a safety standpoint, and that's what I understand all this legislation is to be about - safety.

While we're on the topic of drug or alcohol testing, I was wondering if the minister could give me an understanding of one issue that's been raised in a number of areas: the issue of kind of a double-testing for alcohol. Usually a motor vehicle operator/driver, is stopped for impaired driving, and they have the small, hand-held units, and they blow and they light up different coloured lights, and I guess if it's green, it's safe to go. Usually if they blow green, they're okay.

Now, a number of individuals have raised the concern that, "I was stopped; I blew green, and yet I was told to follow the member, or taken by the member, to the RCMP detachment for a further test."

Is this not a double jeopardy, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I'm not in a position to answer that question here and there, but I'll certainly talk to my colleague, the Minister of Justice. I will do that.

Mr. Jenkins: It is in the Criminal Code, but it does relate directly back to this section for implementation, so that's why I took the opportunity to raise it here at this juncture.

Clause 25 agreed to

On Clause 26

Clause 26 agreed to

On Clause 27

Mrs. Edelman: Can we have more detail on that particular section, please?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly. Last year, as we went through the amendments, I received a letter from the chief of the judiciary, and he said, "In an already overburdened court system," he says, "why don't you folks just leave it to the experts on this panel." And there are many experts on the panel. The panel is made up of doctors - people that are very, very qualified to make these types of decisions. So, basically, it will allow the Driver Control Board to make the final decision on a driver's licence reinstatement, and it will allow the board to order the removal of a licence disqualification.

Again, certainly, it will cut down on the red tape in the process, but this is meant to leave it in the hands of the Driver Control Board, which was on the suggestion of the Chief Justice.

Mr. Jenkins: Basically, all these sections are just flowing through for the Driver Control Board to be permitted to order instead of going back through the court system. That's my understanding of it. Do I have an understanding of it?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Absolutely correct.

Clause 27 agreed to

On Clause 28

Clause 28 agreed to

On Clause 29

Mr. Jenkins: Again, this brings us back to a wonderful device being added to a motor vehicle to stop its operation if you have alcohol on your breath, but you can smoke a couple of joints and still drive it. What are you going to do about that?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, I've already made a commitment to the House that I would look into different manners and ways to solve these problems, and that is my word.

Mr. Jenkins: Could the minister advise the House if any of these interlock devices are in use in the Yukon currently, or have been installed?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, Mr. Chair, none are in use.

Mr. Jenkins: Is the minister aware of there being any occasion where it would be advantageous to use such a device?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: I would certainly suggest that that's the whole point of bringing it in.

Clause 29 agreed to

On Clause 30

Clause 30 agreed to

On Clause 31

Clause 31 agreed to

Chair: There were two clauses stood over, 3 and 10.

Committee will deal with clause 3(1).

On Clause 3 - previously stood over

Mr. Jenkins: I still disagree with the minister, and I think we're going too far, too fast, Mr. Chair. I would ask the minister to really reconsider going from allowing a licence to be invalid for 30 days from when one moves to the Yukon to six months. Now, I was just back in Dawson yesterday and checked as to what burden was placed on the motor vehicle branch there and I couldn't get a clear answer. The only thing I was told is, since we've changed over to licences being renewed on your birthday, that has really, really reduced the load - and that's from a territorial agent who's been there for a considerable period of time.

That has reduced their load and the same thing with licence plates going to be renewed according to the company or the individual's name. With drivers' licences and the rationale that it places an additional load on our various territorial agents or licensing branches - I don't see that as being reason enough to justify a change from 30 days to six months. I also believe, Mr. Chair, that we would lose track of quite a number of individuals who are employed here for the summer season or could be for lengthier periods of time.

In that vein, Mr. Chair - or in that light - I would certainly ask the minister to reconsider that 30 days. You know, 60 days might be advantageous, but I would suggest to the minister, if he's adamant, that we stick with the 180 days or the six months, and that a clause be added to this section: "or immediately upon commencing employment here in the Yukon."

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, certainly, Mr. Chair, I appreciate the member taking time to drive back to his riding on a statutory holiday and getting information that's pertinent to the debate.

The member did ask the question, but I'm not sure if I even replied to it. He asked, "How many drivers' licences are issued in the summer?" and we say from April until the end of September. In Dawson City, we were told the number is at 148 and, in the same period in the Whitehorse area, the number is 1,000. So, we thought that we would be able to expedite issues here.

I do believe that the Dawson City number is very significant. We've been told that it's been estimated that the agent there spends 80 percent of their work time on motor vehicles work, so certainly that is significant. Now, I see that there is a skeptical look on the members' faces. It's more than skeptical.

Yes, I'm certainly used to reading body language from the member opposite, so I know what skepticism is. Certainly, though, what they have said is that 80 percent of their work time is on there, so I feel that the numbers are realistic numbers. I will make a commitment to talk to my caucus about it, so that we might be able to give good discussion to it.

Mr. Jenkins: About 148 drivers' licences were issued in Dawson during that five-month period. Would that take into consideration all the licence renewals, or is that just the licences converted from other jurisdictions?

What I'm looking for, Mr. Chair, are the number of licences that are converted in Dawson City, during that five-month period, from other jurisdictions to Yukon drivers' licences.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, I'm loathe to get the department to break into that. We did say that 148 new drivers' licences were issued in the summer, and that was from April to September, inclusive. Now, it's been estimated that they take up to 80 percent of their time. Now, that's the administrative side of things, and we do wish to make the administrative side of things that much easier.

Again, Mr. Chair, I reiterate that it does make sense that people who are in the Yukon for only a short period of time should be allowed to follow through on this process, if they're here for the six-month provision.

So, if you stay in the Yukon, you can use your driver's licence from another jurisdiction, but certainly, it's meant to make things expeditious - cut down on red tape - and basically that's the whole interest.

Now, I can also again - and I've done it previously - talk about the other jurisdictions.

Certainly, Mr. Chair, six months is a part of the highest, which reflects the Quebec interest and the New Brunswick interest. It is four months in Prince Edward Island, and the rest are pretty much standard, after 90 days and such, with Nova Scotia, which is after 30 days, and the Yukon Territory, which is after 30 days. The Northwest Territories is after 90 days. But therein is what we're attempting to clarify, and certainly 30 days is not sufficient. It would not work at all to leave it as it is, because we certainly wish to make it easier administratively and to lessen the red tape, and, again, not to inflate our numbers that come up.

Mr. Jenkins: Those are pretty interesting statistics that are occupying such a tremendous amount of our territorial agents' time. When we look at 148 new licences being issued over a six-month period, that equates to 25 licences per month, Mr. Chair, and we're advancing this change predicated on overburdening our territorial agents.

That's some overburden. Eighty percent of the liquor vendors' time is spent on territorial agent business, but that includes the full gamut. That's licence plates. That's during that period. Taxes are to be paid. Licence of occupations, marriage certificates issued - there's a whole series of other areas that are covered off in the time that the liquor store manager is acting in the capacity of territorial agent.

I know that, in the case of Dawson, there are two individuals trained in that role. I believe that there's a third who can be used as a backup. I believe we have, in the summertime, seven individuals in the liquor store in Dawson. So, I don't think that the rationale that it's a burden on our system washes.

Will the minister be prepared to entertain a friendly amendment for the 30 consecutive days and substituting for it the expression, "85 consecutive days or when that individual commences employment here in the Yukon"? This would be similar to what British Columbia has, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: If I could have the indulgence of the House for a few moments, I would greatly appreciate it.

Chair: Is it members' wish to take a brief recess?

Some Hon. Members: Agreed.

Chair: Five minutes.


Chair: I will call Committee of the Whole to order. Committee is dealing with clause 3(1) of Bill No. 65.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, in the interests of cooperation and working together and getting a deeper understanding of where we each come from involved in the situation, I would be prepared to propose an amendment to the bill.

Amendment proposed

Hon. Mr. Keenan: I am prepared to propose THAT

Bill No. 65, entitled An Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act, be amended in subsection 3(1) on page 2 by: deleting the number "185" and substituting the number "120" for it.

Chair: It has been moved by the hon. Dave Keenan, Minister of Community and Transportation Services THAT

Bill No. 65, entitled An Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act, be amended in subsection 3(1) on page 2 by: deleting the number "185" and substituting the number "120" for it.

Amendment agreed to

On Clause 3 as amended

Clause 3 agreed to as amended

On Clause 10 - previously stood over

Mr. Jenkins: What we are looking for in 10(1), Mr. Chair, is a uniform way of registering motor vehicles across all weight classes. Now, there doesn't appear to be any rationale for having a difference in registration at 9,100 kilograms. What we're suggesting is that this section be looked at so there is a uniform method of registration when it's a leased vehicle. It would state GMAC, or whomever it is being leased to - whatever the company is or whoever the individual is - and subsequently, if it's a commercial lease, a copy of that lease may be filed with the registrar.

I believe this would streamline it, so that we only have one type of registration. We'd get away from the rental vehicles, the leased vehicles, and everything altogether, Mr. Chair.

I'd ask the minister - We can probably clear this bill tonight if we could just come to some mutually agreeable arrangement to have a more simplified arrangement in this area than what is presently put before us.

Would the minister entertain an amendment to bring that change into that section, please?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, I won't entertain an amendment, and I'm saying that in a friendly manner. I would like the member opposite to listen. We've talked to owners and operators and have been listening to owners and operators. They felt that the current registration requirements were absolutely impeding them from responding to business opportunities as they arose, and they felt that this served no useful purpose, Mr. Chair.

So, certainly, that is the owners/operators of vehicles that are over 9,100 kilograms. Again, the amendment would allow the owner/operator to register vehicles in either their name, or in the name of the company that they lease the vehicle to.

Now, in the case of under 9,100 kilograms, the owners of the light vehicles were pleased with the current registration requirements. They feel that there are hundreds of such lease arrangements in the Yukon at any given time of the year. This, again, would ensure that the vehicles couldn't be sold without the leasing company's knowledge. So, certainly this is what we've checked, and we find that folks do want this - the owners/operators want it for the over 9,100, and the light vehicles are certainly very pleased with the process for under 9,100 kilograms.

So, I'm certainly hoping that the member would concur.

Mr. Jenkins: Well, I concur with the minister for the vehicles having a GVW of less than 9,100 kilograms and that the present method is a very good method, where the owner of the vehicle, be it GMAC or whoever it's leased to, is clearly spelled out on the registration. This protects both the lessor and the lessee. It clearly identifies both.

But the minister mentioned that in his consultation this was the direction. They wanted the option to go both ways. I'm not aware of any leasing company that doesn't insist, as the owner of that vehicle, that their name doesn't appear on the registration form showing "leased to"

Can the minister give me an example of a leasing company - a major leasing company - that has this agreement? I am not aware of any, and I've seen quite a lot of leases between heavy equipment lessors - whether GE Capital - and virtually all, without exception, require that their name appear there as the owner and, after that, "leased to". Can the minister cite me an example of a leasing company that wants it that way?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: The member opposite wants a name. No, Mr. Chair, I cannot provide a name, but we can certainly reiterate that an amendment will allow the owner/operator, the small-time trucker here, whom we have been speaking to, to register a vehicle in either way, and that is what they want. So we will expedite the system for them and make life easier for them. Hopefully, the member will concur.

Mr. Jenkins: If I were to be leasing a vehicle, I would want it to be unencumbered in any way or form. Now, the leasing company must encumber that vehicle somehow in some way. The normal way to encumber it on the registration form is, "such-and-such a leasing company leased to..." If it's leased directly into the name of the individual or a company, it means that that leasing company has to go another route to encumber that motor vehicle. So then we put in place a whole series of other legal requirements for both the leasing company and, ultimately, the lessee is going to be paying for it, one way or the other, because the original owner of that vehicle, the lessor, is going to ensure that they retain ownership of that vehicle, one way or the other, or encumber it so that they're secure.

Now, I'm sure that this area has to have been explored, because I'm familiar with a lot of leases for both smaller rubber-tired equipment and heavier equipment, and I cannot recall one lease that does not have the name of the owner or the lessor on those documents for registration purposes. Could the minister enlighten me?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well certainly, Mr. Chair, what the Member for Klondike says is correct, and it works for the big guys. What we're trying to do within here, and who we were talking to, are the owner-operators, the little guys in here, and certainly this is what they're desirous of, and I would wish that the Member for Klondike would concur, simply to make life easier for the little guys, because it does not affect the big guy, but the mom-and-pop type of truck driver - my cousin Harry; it affects my cousin Harry.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well no, that's my uncle Harry's son, so it works.

Mr. Jenkins: I think I'd like to let the minister sleep on that one over the weekend and come back after his officials have explored that a little bit more thoroughly. If there are only one or two exceptions, I think we should be consistent with other jurisdictions in Canada and the norm, because all we're going to do is require another way to encumber those vehicles which is going to put in place another burden on our bureaucracy somewhere else if we pursue and accept what the minister has told us here today.

So, on that, Mr. Chair, I guess I'll move that you report progress.

Motion agreed to

Hon. Mr. Harding: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.

Motion agreed to

Speaker resumes the Chair

Speaker: I will now call the House to order.

May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?

Chair's report

Mr. McRobb: Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 65, An Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act, and directed me to report progress on it.

Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?

Some Hon. Members: Agreed.

Speaker: I declare the report carried.

Speaker: The time being 5:30 p.m., the House is now adjourned until Monday at 1:30 p.m.

The House adjourned at 5:30 p.m.

The following Legislative Returns were tabled November 12, 1998:


Severance pay to the estate of Flo Kitz, a former teacher (Harding)

Written Question No. 6, dated November 2, 1998, by Mrs. Edelman


Development Assessment Process Commission contracts: list and value (Livingston)

Oral, Hansard, p. 3350


Yukon Housing Corporation: mandate for land development (Fairclough)

Oral, Hansard, p. 3454


Construction on the Range Road project: information pertaining to (Fairclough)

Oral, Hansard, p. 3454