Whitehorse, Yukon

Wednesday, March 26, 1997 - 1:30 p.m.

Speaker: I will now call this House to order, and we will proceed at this time with prayers.


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


Tribute to Katrina Marie Gonder

Mr. Fentie: This afternoon, I rise and ask all members of this House to join me in paying tribute to a brave young nine-year-old girl from my home town of Watson Lake. This tribute comes almost a year after the event, but I only became aware of the selfless act in the last few weeks.

On the afternoon of June 4th, 1996, Katrina Marie Gonder, aged eight years old at the time, had just become confident enough to be swimming in the deep end of the Watson Lake pool. Katrina noticed a young girl in the deep end with her face in the water, and at first thought she was blowing bubbles in play. But Katrina quickly realized that the little girl was not playing but was indeed in trouble.

Katrina swam over to her to check and found the child unconscious. Katrina grabbed onto the little girl and, although it was very difficult to swim with the child in tow, she held onto her until they reached the shallow end, where the lifeguard took charge.

Thanks to Katrina's courageous act, the little girl was revived by the doctor called to the scene, and is suffering no ill effects from her experience.

There is another reason why I am giving this tribute this afternoon. I am very pleased to introduce the members of this House to Katrina Marie Gonder who is sitting in the visitors gallery today with her parents, Leslie and Allen Gonder.

Sadly, Katrina is on her way outside for treatment of a brain tumor. I know all the members of this House want to join me in wishing Katrina and her family well during this difficult time. Katrina, I want you to know how proud we all are of the very brave thing you did and I know that the courage you showed in saving that little girl's life will help you in your fight to get well again. Thank you.


Mr. Phillips: We, on this side as well, would like to welcome Katrina to the House, and her parents. We want to pay tribute to this very special, courageous, young lady. Katrina, our hopes and prayers travel with you and may God speed your recovery. We will all be thinking about you in our prayers and I know that you will do well. Thank you.


Ms. Duncan: I would also like to rise in tribute to Katrina Gonder and to welcome her and Mr. and Mrs. Gonder to this House. Katrina, her mother Leslie, my colleague Sue Edelman and I are all sisters. We are part of the great sisterhood of guiding. I have served as Yukon's provincial commissioner. Sue is an active member of Yukon Council. Leslie has served as a leader and Katrina has been a Brownie.

Although we may not all be actively involved in the great game of guiding at this time, the values and strength of guiding are part of us. It is an organization whose aim it is to help girls and young women to become responsible citizens, able to give leadership and service to the community, whether local, national or global.

Katrina has demonstrated her leadership in caring for others with her true act of bravery. She has demonstrated the values that Girl Guides has helped to foster.

The guiding organization is also the largest women's organization in the world. By our membership, we find friendship, sisterhood and support for one another and from one another. In the difficult times ahead, Katrina and Leslie will know that the hearts and prayers of their guiding sisters are with them.


In Remembrance of Jack Allen

Mr. McRobb: I rise today to pay tribute to the late Jack Allen of Haines Junction, a respected elder of the Champagne-Aishihik First Nation.

Jack Allen was born in 1903 in the Hutshi area. He lived a traditional lifestyle and spent most of his 94 years hunting, trapping and fishing. Jack was an excellent horse trainer and rider, and gained a reputation for riding any wild horse he was dared to ride.

Jack provided for his family in a traditional and contemporary way. He hunted and trapped extensively in the Aishihik area.

During construction of the Aishihik road and airport, he worked for the army barging equipment and supplies up the 60-kilometre long Aishihik Lake.

Jack is survived by his wife, Bessie, sister Jessie Jonathan, daughters Lorraine, Rosalie and Virginia, sons Percy and James, 17 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. Jack Allen will be sadly missed by all those who knew him.

Speaker: The introduction of visitors, I believe.


Hon. Mr. Sloan: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I would like to welcome a rather adventurous group of tourists, the first off the mark this year. We have with us today a number of folks from the elder hostel program. We have 23 of them from the United States joining us. They will be trying to puzzle out our quaint parliamentary system. We have seven folks from Ontario, and we have four of our guests from British Columbia. The elder hostel program has a number of trips to the territory each year. I would like to welcome our first group. Welcome to the House today.



Are there other introductions of visitors?


Speaker: Under tabling of returns or documents, I have for tabling three reports from the Chief Electoral Officer. They are the report on contributions to registered political parties during 1996, the report on contributions to candidates during the last general election, and a report made pursuant to section 335 of the Elections Act.

I also have for tabling a report from the Clerk of the Assembly made pursuant to section 39.6 of the Legislative Assembly Act.

Are there any further returns or documents for tabling?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have some documents to table.

Speaker: Are there any reports of committees?


Hon. Mr. Harding: I have for presentation the first report of the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges.

Speaker: Are there any petitions?

Are there any bills to be introduced?

Are there any notices of motion?


Hon. Mr. Harding: Mr. Speaker, I give notice of the following motion:

THAT the first report of the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges presented to the House on March 26, 1997, be concurred in and that the amendments recommended in that report to the Standing Orders of the Legislative Assembly be adopted.

Mr. Ostashek: I give notice of the following motion:

THAT it is the opinion of this House that the recent hiring of senior level officials from British Columbia to fill important public service jobs in land claims and devolution is a direct contradiction of the government's election commitment of hiring Yukoners and makes a complete mockery of the local hire commission, especially in light of the Yukon's high unemployment rate; and

THAT this House urge the Government of Yukon to ask for the immediate resignation of the commissioner for local hire and ensure that Yukoners are given the first opportunity for jobs in the Yukon.

I give notice of the following motion:

THAT this House urges the federal Liberal government to recognize the existence of the "Crown in right of Yukon" and to amend the Yukon Act to legally enshrine this recognition;

THAT the ownership and control of "Crown land" in Yukon be transferred to the "Crown in right of Yukon" by June 13, 1998.

THAT the Commissioner of the Yukon Territory be recognized as a representative of her Majesty the Queen and as the Lieutenant Governor of the Yukon; and

THAT the Crown Attorney's office be transferred to the Government of the Yukon.

Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?

Mr. Phillips: I give notice of the following motion:

THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Youth Empowerment and Success organization offers worthy programs to youth at risk having served over 400 young people since its inception; and

THAT this House urges the Government of the Yukon to cancel all of its commissions and transfer some of the funds from the commissions to YES so it may continue to deliver programs to our youth at risk, in light of its election commitment to help high-risk children and provide financial stability to non-government organizations.

Speaker: Are there further notices of motion?

Mr. Phillips: I give notice of the following motion:

THAT this House recognizes that the previous Yukon Party government introduced and implemented a whole range of initiatives to deal with issues such as family violence, youth crime, property-related crime and offender management; and

THAT this House urges the Government of the Yukon to continue to address the problems of crime and vandalism in our Yukon communities and expand upon the work already completed by the previous Yukon government to include initiatives to help Yukon youth at risk.

I give notice of the following motion:

THAT it is the opinion of this House that testing in schools not only evaluates the level of learning attained by the individual student, but it also demonstrates the effectiveness of teaching methods and the overall education system; and

THAT this House urges the Government of the Yukon to maintain standardized testing in Yukon schools and strive for excellence in Yukon's education system by expanding the Yukon Excellence Awards to include significant achievers.

Mr. Jenkins: I give notice of the following motion:

THAT it is the opinion of this House that the National Child Benefit Program does not go far enough to address the problem of poverty among low-income families; and

THAT this House urges the Government of the Yukon not to use its participation in the National Child Benefit Program as an excuse not to implement a Yukon child tax credit that will apply to all Yukon families, especially those families with lower incomes.

Speaker: Any further notices of motion?

Mr. Cable: I give notice of the following motion:

THAT this House urges the Government of the Yukon to deal immediately with the staff and inmate health and safety concerns relating to the Whitehorse Correctional Centre raised in the Barr Ryder Condition Survey report of January 31, 1995.

Speaker: Are there further notices of motion?

Are there any statements by ministers?


Anvil Range Mine: government report on

Hon. Mr. Harding: I rise to update the House on what the government is doing with respect to the situation with the Anvil Range mining operation in Faro.

As members are aware, Anvil Range has announced a layoff of 130 mill employees as of March 31st. This will mean the full shutdown of the Faro mine for the time being. As the MLA for Faro and the Minister of Economic Development, I am fully aware of the impact this shutdown has on Yukon people and the territory's economy.

Since the company announced a partial shutdown last November, the unemployment rate has risen to 15.4 percent and is expected to increase after the March 31st shutdown. This is obviously of grave concern to our government and we are responding on a number of different fronts to address the situation as the budget tabled this week demonstrates.

It is this government's policy to respond to community needs in a timely and coordinated fashion when unforeseen circumstances arise, such as this or the school fire in Old Crow. As members are aware, when Anvil Range announced the partial shutdown in November, we reacted immediately by setting up a working group to meet the needs of the community. As a result of these efforts, additional recreational activities, counselling services and educational opportunities have been available in Faro this winter.

In addition, the industrial adjustment services office was established in cooperation with Human Resource Development Canada. A government contact person was located in Faro to respond quickly to people's needs.

When the Curragh mine shut down in 1993, one of the biggest problems faced by the mine workers and their families was that the company did not honour its commitments respecting employee wages and benefits. This year, the situation is different. The current mine owner, Anvil Range Mining Corporation, has indicated through trust documents its intention of honouring its legal obligations to its employees during the mine closure. As part of that commitment, the company is paying out an amount of $434,000 tomorrow to cover vacation pay and other benefits for workers who were laid off December 20th.

At this time, the company has completed its mine plan, is paying out its creditors, including the banks, and is actively searching for financing. As recent media reports have indicated, Mr. Speaker, Anvil Range has approached the Yukon government with a request for assistance in certain areas, but it has not asked for direct financial assistance that would immediately lead to a reopening of the mine.

Our government believes that a private sector solution is preferable to direct government assistance. Anvil Range Mining Corporation has the financial backing of both the Hyundai Corporation and Cominco, two companies with much deeper pockets than the Yukon government. While we are continuing to meet with the company about possible avenues of assistance, we are aware of the need to protect the interest of all Yukon people. Our next step is to conduct a detailed independent due diligence analysis of the mining operations. This will be done through a professional consultant in conjunction with Anvil Range, YTG and the federal government.

In order to protect the electrical ratepayers, Yukon Energy Corporation recently placed a miners' lien on the company. Anvil Range has indicated that it intends to pay its electrical bills and will meet with YEC officials to discuss the terms of payment.

Mr. Speaker, one of the biggest requirements of a mine operation is access to a skilled work force. Discussions are under way with the company and the union about the possible creation of a training trust fund related specifically to the Faro mine. This is consistent with our government's commitment to jobs and training in the 1997-98 budget. That budget set aside a minimum of $300,000 for a mine training trust fund as part of a $1 million overall commitment to training trust funds.

This budget also calls for $88 million worth of capital spending, the development of a trade and investment diversification strategy, a $2 million community development fund, and a community projects initiative program. All of these things confirm our commitment to jobs and training for Yukon people.

Mr. Speaker, with the current improvement in zinc prices, I am confident the Anvil Range operation will resume before too long. In fact, I just learned recently that Anvil Range has applied for a permit for a water licence for underground exploration in the Grizzly deposit. I am optimistic about Anvil Range's future and the future for Faro. Our government will continue to work in both the immediate term and the longer term to help bring stability and diversity to the Yukon economy.

Mr. Ostashek: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I do not want to make an issue of it now, but ministerial statements are supposed to give new information to the Legislature. There is absolutely nothing new in here that I have not seen in the papers or heard in the news media for the last several weeks. This appears to me to be damage control for a budget that bombed when it came to job creation.

The Minister takes the opportunity to go back through the budget again because the media did not pick it up the first time around; 24 hours later, there was no news of the budget in the local media.

We want to see Anvil Range back to work. We want to see it done with private sector funding. When the Minister was on this side of the House, everything that happened in Faro was the government's responsibility. Now, the government has nothing to do with it. They are quite prepared to watch a skilled workforce leave the Yukon because they have not taken any actions in their budget to keep them here. Yet, they turn around and are going to implement a training trust fund for a property that is not even in operation. I just find this mind-boggling. I see no sense of reason in this. I see nothing in here - in this statement, the budget or anything else that has transpired from this government - that is going to give any optimism to Yukoners. It is 15 percent plus that are unemployed now that are hoping to go to work in the Yukon this summer. It is a very sorry document for a ministerial statement, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Cable: Last week, the director of employment standards started an action. He was asking the courts to prohibit Anvil Range from removing its assets until the wages were paid to the employees or adequate security was posted. This action came to a grinding halt last Friday. What we have in its place is a trust document, which, in my view - and the Minister can confirm this - simply says that Anvil Range will do what it is supposed to do under its collective agreement and, according to law, under the Employment Standards Act.

Now, the minister attacked the previous administration without mercy for many, many questions. There were whole volumes of Hansard on his questions about protecting the workers in Faro. So, I would ask the minister to tell us, firstly, why was this action compromised, and secondly, what sort of security do the workers have for their outstanding wages, both under the collective agreement and also under the Employment Standards Act. I do not mean this document that simply states what the facts are. Is there some solid security? If not, why was the action compromised?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, I really welcome the opportunity to respond to the comments of the Opposition with regard to the issues that were outlined in the ministerial statement. First of all, I will say to the Leader of the Official Opposition that the ministerial statement that I read out today is perfectly consistent with the practices of this House in terms of content, in terms of delivery. We deliver our own agenda to legislators in this facility. We deliver our own agenda to the Yukon public through this Legislature, not always through the media. So we make no bones about laying out where we want to go and where we are going with these types of major, important issues to the Yukon taxpayer and to the Yukon public and to the Yukon worker, in this Legislature.

The Leader of the Official Opposition's recollection of history is incorrect, Mr. Speaker. The member seems to be upset that we have only announced in this ministerial statement a training trust fund. We have taken so much action since this shutdown. I do not see people in the galleries like they were last time from Faro responding so negatively to the government's very vindictive and bitter approach to the community of Faro. The reason is because we have taken a very responsible approach to this situation in the community. We came in quickly, we talked on the ground, we dealt with the local people in a very responsible manner. We dealt with their needs for increased counselling, for recreation, for training activities. When the company came to us and said that they would like some assistance - I do not know if the Leader of the Official Opposition is advocating that we should just throw bags of money over here. I know that he did offer a $29 million loan guarantee to Curragh, but we think that we want to take a more conservative approach and take a look at the situation, and clearly indicate to the Yukon public that any action we take would be extremely responsible and in the best interests in the long term for workers in Faro and throughout the rest of the Yukon.

Mr. Speaker, I think that the training trust fund is something that was identified by Anvil Range as a concern. They wanted to enhance existing skills for workers in Faro. That is something that we are working on doing with them. We are also taking a look at the other request that they have made, but they have told us unequivocally that nothing we could do right now would lead to an immediate reopening. They are in the process of seeking financing for the operation. They have major backers - Hyundai and Cominco - behind them. Cominco has a $25 million equity stake. This company, I might add, differentiates from Curragh in the fact that they have no debt. Curragh had roughly $200 million or $300 million of debt.

So we believe a private sector solution is imminent to this, but having said that our government is not prepared to dismiss them out of hand. We are going take a responsible and reasoned look at their request.

With regard to the comments of the Leader of the Liberal Party in this Legislature, I would say that I was very vocal about protecting workers' wages in the previous shutdown of Curragh Resources, but I would point out to the Member that this situation is very, very different.

Number one, the company has not been in default. Their first scheduled payment under the Employment Standards Act is tomorrow, and all indications are they are going to pay it. If they don't, it might require some alternative action by employment standards, but I think if they pay tomorrow they certainly show good faith that they said they were going to pay and they pay.

With regard to the letter of the law and the Employment Standards Act, it is clear that the company is not bound to pay out employment standards until 13 weeks after the layoff. What we negotiated and will set up through this trust is that they will pay in to this trust fund two months earlier than required by law to protect the wages of the workers in Faro.

The other situation, as I said before, that's a little bit different here, is that this company is quite solvent, whereas Curragh was looking at $230 million in debt. This company has just received a cash injection of $10 million. Incidentally, that came after the Government Leader and myself met with the people in charge of Cominco and talked to them about the situation, about our willingness and our desire to see the Faro mine operation go back into production and benefit Yukon workers and benefit Yukon businesses.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Carcross contaminated site: assessment and proposal for restoration

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I rise today to advise the House that I have signed an order under the Environment Act directing the British Yukon Railway Company and its parent company, the White Pass and Yukon Corporation, to prepare and submit a proposal for a site assessment and a plan of restoration for the Carcross waterfront property.

This order, which was delivered to the company yesterday, follows four months of investigation and research. The investigation determined that the land's contamination resulted from the operation of the railway tie treatment plant on the waterfront site leased by the British Yukon Railway Company.

The order comes in to effect Tuesday, April 1st, 1997, and the company has been directed to prepare and deliver the site assessment and restoration plan to the Yukon government by Friday, April 25th.

By way of background, Mr. Speaker, I should point out that the Carcross waterfront site, which is now owned by the Yukon government, was designated as "contaminated" under the Environment Act on February 7th. My department has been working with the Carcross-Tagish First Nation, the Carcross planning committee and others in the community on the approaches to further assessment and clean up since the contamination was discovered on the waterfront last year.

On March 7th, prior to the issuance of the order, a letter and other information were sent to the White Pass and British Yukon Railway Company, giving notice that the Yukon government believed that the activities by the British Yukon Railway Company caused the contamination.

I want to assure all members, especially the people of Carcross, that the actions of this government will not end with the issuance of this order. We want to ensure that the full extent of the contamination is known and that the site is restored to the standards outlined in the recently adopted contaminated sites regulations as quickly as possible.

The proposal for the site assessment and plan of restoration produced by White Pass will be forwarded to the Carcross waterfront working group for review and comment. We will also be encouraging White Pass to enter into discussions with the community on how to maximize local hire opportunities associated with the cleanup of the site.

Ms. Duncan: There are two immediate points the Liberal caucus would offer for consideration of this House. The contaminated site must be cleaned up and it must be cleaned up quickly. Regardless of any procedural or legal actions, fundamentally, the contaminated site must be cleaned up to the very best of the capability of the technology that's available to us.

The minister has not made it clear when the actual clean-up will take place. Carcross, like all Yukon communities, has a limited tourism window. Clean up of this site must not affect that window of opportunity for Carcross businesses. If one tour bus fails to stop in Carcross this summer because the driver has misinformation about the contaminated site, the effects will be felt deeply by that community. It cannot and it must not happen.

Our two key points, Mr. Minister, are that the contaminated site in Carcross must be cleaned up and it must be cleaned up quickly.

I would remind all members, as the minister did not, that the Yukon government only formally adopted the regulations that allow for the clean-up of contaminated sites on January 1, 1997. This will be viewed as a test case for those regulations. This government has an opportunity to prove their commitment to the clean-up of contaminated sites. This first case will set a precedent. We in the effective Opposition will be watching closely and we will be monitoring the results. We will be the judge.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is the health and well-being of the people in Carcross that has brought us to acting on this as quickly as possible. Since we did get in as government, we passed regulations so that we would be able to deal with this situation. And, since the issuance of the order has been put forth, my department continues to work with the Carcross/Tagish First Nation and the community. They are today in Carcross, looking and discussing the fencing around the site and looking at the current fence that is there - the snow fence - and looking at erections of a more substantial fence around the area that shows surface staining.

They are also looking at ways of controlling the runoff that would be potential to the amount of snow that is there. They are looking at covering the site so that the contaminants are not spread around.

Mr. Speaker, we will be continuing to work with the First Nations, as we have committed to, and working with the community to make sure that this contaminated site is cleaned up as quickly as possible and under the guidelines of the regulations that we put forward.

Speaker: Are there any further statements by ministers?

This then brings us to the Question Period.


Question re: Unemployment rate

Mr. Ostashek: My question is to the Government Leader on the Yukon's currently high unemployment rate. It is more than 15 percent and more than 2,400 Yukoners out of work. Many of those were looking to this government's first budget to give them some optimism and hope that they would be able to find employment in the Yukon. Unfortunately, they were let down and let down badly.

I would like to ask the Government Leader: does his government not believe that the very high unemployment in the Yukon is a very serious matter?

Hon. Mr. McDonald: We certainly do believe that the unemployment rate in the Yukon is a very serious concern, both to the government and to the community at large.

It is for that reason that we delivered a budget speech and proposed budget estimates that include $88 million worth of buildings, roads and land development, that targeted spending to job creation and such programs such as the CDF and the community projects initiative, that tried to spend more wisely in terms of internal government operations than our predecessors did by spending 25 percent less in those areas, because we wanted more value-added benefit to the territory from expenditures that we make. To get on with new opportunities with the private sector through the trade and investment strategy, we have held discussions, as my colleague has mentioned today, with Anvil Range mine. We have been working with the mining industry, not only participating in trade shows as our predecessors did, but also speaking directly to the federal minister about mine permitting, and have had extensive discussions with industry representatives. We have announced new tourism initiatives in the budget, particularly with respect to marketing initiatives with the airline industry. We have announced some new training initiatives, which I believe are much more extensive than our predecessors had applied.

We have already had discussions with various people, for example the City of Skagway, about port development, because we are very, very much interested in the long-term economic future of this territory and we are very concerned about the economic prospects in the short term. What we cannot do, that our predecessors did, what we cannot do is spend our way out of this trouble. We have to spend more wisely, spend smarter and that's what we are doing.

Mr. Ostashek: I am sure that will give great comfort to heavy-equipment operators living in my riding who are looking for a job this summer. I am sure that he is going to feel very, very comforted by that.

What we basically have is a government that has no ideas, doesn't know how to deal with high unemployment in the Yukon, doesn't have any ideas, no creativity, nothing new. Everything he spoke of has been included in every other budget in the territory, and much larger capital budgets.

This government's responsibility was to direct some money to put people to work this summer in the interim while these long-range things continue to unfold to make a better economy in the Yukon. What this government has done, which no other government in Canada is doing today, is increasing operation spending and decreasing capital spending. Why is this government concentrating on bigger government and less capital?

Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would first of all like to point out to the member as gently as I can that the road funding projects that he took advantage of while he was in government were all negotiated by the New Democratic government in 1991-92. There were no attempts made by the previous government under his administration to renegotiate an arrangement to see an extension of the Shakwak program. So, the member, with his lack of foresight, has left us in the lurch. We are trying to pick up the pieces and we are doing the best we can.

With respect to the operation and maintenance spending, I would point out to the member that the operation and maintenance spending that we are projecting in this budget estimate is, in fact, slightly lower when one discounts devolution and slightly lower than the operation and maintenance spending that he himself engineered through this Legislature for the Yukon Party government in the last year of operations. I would point out that it is not only lower, but it also has to account for some very significant new O&M costs that were bequeathed to us by the previous government.

I would just point out that the new tax bill for municipal buildings - thanks to some of the buildings that the previous government built - is $700,000 that we have also had to eat in the operation and maintenance estimates. So, we are doing the best we can. We recognize the need to provide for jobs through the capital budget, but I don't think the member is being fair at all, and perhaps purposely so, in assessing the spending estimates, the very wise and creative spending estimates, in this particular budget.

Mr. Ostashek: What the Government Leader is saying is simply not true. We worked hard to get a new agreement negotiated for Shakwak so that this one would not lapse before a new one was in place, and he knows it. For him to stand up and say something different in the House is not right. It's not right.

The fact is this government doesn't know what it's doing. I want to draw to the Government Leader's attention, if he would just put his Finance minister's hat on from his budget speech the other day, in which he, on the revenue side, is estimating that corporate income tax is going to go down by 48 percent, fuel taxes are going to go down by 15 percent, which leads to me to indicate that they're expecting a real slowdown in the economy. Yet, at the same time, he is indicating that personal income taxes are going to go up by 9 percent, some $3 million.

Well, unless you are a graduate of the Glen Clark school of economics, those figures just don't add up. Can the Government Leader shed some light on them?

Hon. Mr. McDonald: I'll begin by saying, Mr. Speaker, that first of all, the one thing we can't do, and the one thing we're not doing, and the one thing we cannot, will not, do is that we will not run the kind of annual deficit that our predecessors, the Leader of the Official Opposition, ushered into the Legislature last year. Thirty-five million dollars deficit is not sustainable, so we cannot spend our way out of this problem. We have to do other things to try to account for the need for jobs and to promote economic growth in this territory, but it cannot be through raw government spending, because that was something that the previous government had the opportunity to do, but we do not, because we don't have those kinds of reserves bequeathed to us.

With respect to the tax receipts that we expect from the federal government, the member knows very well that the estimates projected for corporate and personal income tax receipts in this budget are the result of averages from the last three years, calculated by federal Finance, and passed on to this Legislature as being what they calculate to be the personal income tax or corporate income tax receipts. There's been no fudging, unless the member is attacking federal Finance, of these figures by Yukon Department of Finance officials whatsoever. In fact, this whole budget is predicated, on its expenditure side and on its revenue side, on the assumption that even the Faro mine will not be operating, which does expect that there'll be fewer revenues. So we have been very careful to provide cautious estimates on the revenue side.

Question re: Yukon Energy Corporation, management agreement with YECL

Mr. Ostashek: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My second question is for the minister responsible for Yukon Energy Corp. As we are all aware, there needs to be a decision made on whether or not a management agreement with YECL is going to be renewed, and that day is fast approaching.

Can the minister tell me if in fact they have reached an agreement with YECL?

Hon. Mr. Harding: I'd like to reply to the Leader of the Official Opposition in this House that the negotiations with Canadian Utilities, Alberta Power have been progressing. Discussions are underway. There is no final deal that has been approved by our Cabinet. The president of the Energy Corporation, as I understand it, has been having discussions with his own board at the Energy Corporation to discuss aspects of the arrangement. I'm well aware of the March 31st deadline, and I'm cognizant that we should be able to make some announcements in the near future about where the status of that arrangement is going.

Mr. Ostashek: Well, Mr. Speaker, when we were negotiating the new agreement prior to the election, we always maintained that we would not dispose of any of YEC's assets to reach an agreement, although the Opposition, who are now government, continually accused us of that. In fact, I will table papers that they even put out to that effect, that assets of YEC should remain in Yukon control and should not be sold off to southern interests. I would ask the minister today if he can assure this House that there will be no assets sold in reaching agreement with southern-based Alberta Power.

Hon. Mr. Harding: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would say to the member opposite that there is a board for the Energy Corporation that is having discussions with the president of the Energy Corporation about issues that the member refers to. There are still discussions under way with Alberta Power. I think it would be far too preliminary for me to stand up in this Legislature and to speculate on what the negotiated deal - if there will be one - will ultimately be.

Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Speaker, I wasn't asking the minister what the agreement was. I was asking for his assurance that he was not going to change his position now that he is in government, where when he was in Opposition, he said that none of the assets of the corporation should be sold. I was asking him to assure this House that he was not changing his position. At the same time, while he is on his feet, I would like to ask him if he is aware that if there were to be the sale of any of the assets of the corporation, that there has to be full consultation with Yukon First Nations subject to the umbrella final agreement.

Hon. Mr. Harding: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. First and foremost, this government always makes sure that it lives up to its obligations in the umbrella final agreement. It is a pity that the previous government could not make that commitment to First Nations, but we will with this government. We have been repairing a lot of relations that were badly, badly damaged over the last four years in that regard.

I am not going to speak for the board of directors for the Yukon Energy Corporation. We will base our decisions on the basis of the best interests of Yukon ratepayers and Yukon taxpayers with regard to any negotiated deal with Alberta Power or Canadian Utilities.

Question re: Anvil Range Mining Corporation, government assistance

Mr. Cable: Thanks, Mr. Speaker. I have some questions for the minister responsible for Economic Development on Faro.

The minister was asked last week on his position with respect to a bail-out of Anvil Range Mining Corporation. He was reported as saying - this was last Wednesday I believe it was - that if the company doesn't resume production in the next two months then the government may have to step in. Then the next day he must have done a big "Whoops" after he said that, because the next day he did - it wasn't a 180, but it was about a 150 - and he said there was no plan to bail out Anvil Range. Then yesterday he was quoted as saying that the $5 million contingency fund may be used to help the Faro mine. Then of course today we got some further obtuse comments.

Would the minister give this House and the Yukon public a clear statement on his government's intentions? Is a bail-out one of the options that this government is seriously considering?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Mr. Speaker, I am shocked at the confrontational tone of questioning of the Liberal Party. It said that they were going to bring a gentlemanly attitude to this Legislature, that they were going to conduct themselves with a lot of decorum, they are going to work with the government. But, it is obvious that they are interested in a lot of confrontation.

Mr. Speaker, I gave an answer to media queries. I gave the same quotes - what has been attributed to me here is not a quote, it is a paraphrasing of some of the local media. One headline in one paper said, "Anvil Range Bail-Out" the next paper said, "No Anvil Range Bail-Out" and the quotes that I gave were consistent to both reporters.

What we said is that we will not dismiss requests from Anvil Range out of hand, nor will we say yes to requests from Anvil Range out of hand. We are going to take a reasoned, responsible attitude and a reasoned, responsible approach to any decisions we make, and I think that we have to be mindful not only of the unemployment rate, which has been dramatically impacted by the closure of the Faro mine, but also of the interests of the Yukon taxpayer in general - all Yukon taxpayers.

That is the type of approach we will take and I would ask the Liberal Member of this House to not be so confrontational, to want to work with us. We will seek his opinion on these issues and we ask him to join us in trying to better the interests of Yukoners.

Mr. Cable: I am almost embarrassed to ask the next question, but just bear with me, if you will.

Now, the backers of Anvil Range are two multi-billion dollar, multinationals - Hyundai and Cominco - and I have a statement here which indicates Comino had sales last year, or 1995, of $1.5 billion, and they had consolidated earnings of half a billion and net earnings in 1995 of $100 million. And I am sure Hyundai would be in the same league. I believe Hyundai is even larger.

Now these two corporations could guarantee any borrowings that Anvil Range would ever require. How can this minister possibly suggest that his cash-strapped government would advance money to two rich corporations that don't need it - they would even consider it - when this money could be used for job creation elsewhere?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, Mr. Speaker, I want to say to the member opposite that, as I said in answer to the first question, we are not going to dismiss or say yes to things out of hand. We are not in a position to bail out, as the member has referred to, Anvil Range Mining Corporation.

The member is quite right about the size of Hyundai Corporation and Cominco and that their pockets are much deeper than the Yukon government's, and I have pointed that out to the local media and to the public of the Yukon on many occasions in all the correspondence, including the ministerial statement that I made today.

So, Mr. Speaker, it is very, very preliminary right now to speculate on the actions of this government. All I can say is that we are very, very cautious. We believe that Hyundai Corporation, who has a $25 million equity investment, has a lot to gain or lose on the fortunes of this mine, and we would think that certainly they are in a much, much better position than the Yukon government to assist. However, as I referred to in the ministerial statement today, we are prepared to look at initiatives like training, which we think is something that is quite appropriate for the government to be involved in with regard to assisting Anvil Range to enhance the skills of the mine workers that they have, so that they can overcome production problems and move into production.

Mr. Cable: David Lewis, if he is dead, would roll over in his grave to hear the modern social democrats think about feeding huge corporations.

One of the very interesting observations and points that were raised by the Government Leader in the discussion of Anvil Range was the participation of workers in the operation of the mine. Has this been followed up?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, Mr. Speaker, I think, again, the Member is going far too much into speculative territory. We have not begun any extensive negotiations with Anvil Range. It is my sincere hope that they do not take place with regard to a bail-out, as the Member has referred to.

It is our belief that the Hyundai Corporation, Cominco and the board of directors of Anvil Range will be able to find appropriate financing. I just read a release today that they are actively considering doing a share offering for that financing. I am also buoyed by the fact that zinc prices have maintained a fairly steady increase and seem to be hovering there in a quite stable fashion.

Mr. Speaker, we are not prepared to do a bail-out for Anvil Range, but what we are prepared to do is invest in Yukon people and Yukon workers in areas such as training, which I outlined in brief today.

That is going to be our approach. We are going to be responsible. We are going to be mindful of the Yukon taxpayer. We are also going to be very mindful of the fact that there are major corporations and banks who have all been paid out who have a lot to gain by the mind reopening in Faro, as well as the Yukon workforce.

Question re: Schools, rural schools facilities study

Ms. Duncan: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the Minister of Education.

The rural schools facility study identified four schools that had substantial problems with overall building structures. Yet, when I review the budget document - with the exception of Old Crow school - Mayo, Ross River and Carmacks do not have a dime of Department of Education capital money. Why is the Minister ignoring the rural schools facility study?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I do not believe that the Member's assertion is correct - that we are ignoring the needs of rural schools. I would point out to the Member that there is $20 million in the budget addressing needs that are already ongoing with the grade reorganization problem with renovations to a number of schools in the Whitehorse area. In addition, there is $500,000 for beginning design work to rebuild the school in Old Crow. There is also $500,000 in the budget for design work for other rural schools.

As the Member indicated, there are five rural schools in need of either major upgrading or reconstruction. We have scheduled a meeting of school council chairs for next month to sit down and talk with communities about how that work will proceed, and it is something that is a priority of our government.

Ms. Duncan: I note the minister mentioned money for Whitehorse schools, and F.H. Collins would appear to be the focal point for Whitehorse capital money.

I refer you to another Whitehorse school mentioned in the Whitehorse school facility report, the Poon Gardner report. "Children are not able to engage in many art projects. The library cannot accommodate an entire class. The health room does not exist. Sick children wait in the classroom or the staff room. Public, staff and students share the same washroom. This school is considered substandard, small and inadequate." This school is Grey Mountain Primary. There are 20 percent of the primary school-aged children in Riverdale whose first exposure to education is this facility, and this government's uncaring attitude about their school.

Will the minister state clearly, for the record, her intentions with respect to Grey Mountain Primary School?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Well, first I need to correct a couple of comments in the member's preamble. While there is considerable money in the education budget for upgrading at F.H. Collins, the main focus of the capital budget in Whitehorse is Porter Creek Junior Secondary School. There are $20 million in Yukon Party commitments that have to be cleared first before we can go on with big capital expenditures in Whitehorse and in rural communities. It's impossible for a government to address all needs at once.

In regard to Grey Mountain Primary, I toured Grey Mountain Primary School not too long ago, and there have been a number of renovations undertaken there. The picture is not as bleak as the member paints, and we will continue to address education needs as we're able to.

Ms. Duncan: The picture that was painted was not mine. It was the Poon Gardner report's. Funny that the minister could move the money in Opposition, but she can't in government.

The minister mentions that she's meeting with school councils, and we have a $13 million too small capital expenditure on education. Where is the promised restoration of partnerships in education? What are the minister's priorities for the capital money of this department?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Speaker, the restoring of partnerships in education is an ongoing endeavour on the part of myself as minister, and on the part of the department. I would like to advise the member that I've had a number of meetings both with school councils and with education and community groups. I would also like to inform the member that the comments she was reading from the Poon Gardner report in regards to Grey Mountain Primary have been responded to with a number of renovations and upgrades that have already been completed.

As I've said, we will continue to work with school councils to address the needs as we can.

Question re: Old Crow school, rebuilding

Mr. Phillips: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the same minister, the Minister of Education.

On January the 28th of this year we lost the Old Crow school to fire and the Department of Education, Yukoners and others reacted quickly to help provide temporary space and supplies for the children of Old Crow.

Officials from the Department of Education and the minister herself travelled to Old Crow to give assurances to the people that a new facility would be rebuilt as quickly as possible. In fact, the residents were told by senior education officials that we're hoping to complete the construction within two years. The budget that was tabled on Monday doesn't reflect that commitment.

The minister, on CHON-FM this morning, said that now it is a three-year cycle. I spent a week in Old Crow about 10 days ago and the indication that I got from the people in Old Crow who had been at the meetings with the minister was that there would be some planning money in this budget and that there would be some construction money in this budget, and that the school work would actually start this year.

The Old Crow people are extremely disappointed that no work, other than planning, which will go outside of Old Crow, will be started this year.

I would like to ask the minister why she broke her commitment that she and her department had made that this construction will start on the new school immediately.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: First of all, Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out to the member that I have not broken the commitments that I have made to the community of Old Crow.

I have not heard from the people of Old Crow that they are dissatisfied with the way the department or the government has responded. I think we have responded both quickly and appropriately. There are renovations underway to provide for temporary classroom facilities for the students of Old Crow.

In two meetings that I have held with community leaders, one in Old Crow and one in Whitehorse, we have made it clear that we are going to work with the community on the planning of the school. The scheduling of school construction will depend on the work that is done in the community. They have now named all of the members of their building advisory committee.

It will be a two- or three-year construction cycle. That member, who is a former minister, should know very well that no school can be built in one year. Even if it were right here Whitehorse where there is road access, it would not be possible to rebuild a school in one year.

Mr. Phillips: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Well, I'm not asking the minister to build the school in one year, because I know that is not possible, but the commitment that was made by the department is that they would react quickly to put up temporary classrooms and they did that. They are working very quickly to try and put up temporary classrooms.

There is an expectation by the people of Old Crow, by promises made by the minister and people from the department who went to the community, that construction would start this year and that people would be put to work in Old Crow. And with $500,000 in the budget, Mr. Speaker, I know and the minister knows that very few people in Old Crow are going to get to see any of that money. That is going to go to the planners or the designers in Whitehorse - or like the NDP used to use, sometimes outside the territory - that would design their buildings for the future. So very few people in Old Crow are going to see any of that $500,000 and certainly they are not going to start construction this year, and certainly they are not going to move into their school two years from now. It will be three years from now at the earliest because of the way the minister has drafted her budget.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The department has responded quickly to the needs in Old Crow. I would like to point out to the member that we are working in cooperation with the community. The temporary renovations that are underway now are being project managed by the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation. There is money going into the community, and we are working with the First Nation and with the community to ensure that local hire is maximized both in the renovations and in future construction. I would also point out to the member that there is an additional $700,000 in this year's budget for a teacherage, which will be constructed with Yukon Housing Corporation.

Mr. Phillips: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The minister is dodging the question. The question I posed to the minister is that the minister's department and the minister gave a commitment that construction would start on the school this year. All that is going to happen with the money in the budget is planning for the school this year. I already commended the minister on the quick action that the department did in setting up temporary quarters and in working to set up temporary quarters. But, the feeling from Old Crow is that they wanted to only be in those quarters for a couple of years, and they got an indication from the minister that is all it would be. This budget says that they are now going to be there three years, and maybe longer before they move into their new school. I am asking the minister today, if they advance the planning, if the planning goes quicker than the minister says, has the minister any plans to bring in a supplementary budget to advance some money for construction, because the construction season is so short, and do they plan to spend more money on the school than is actually in the budget?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, I should point out to the member opposite that the replacement of the school in Old Crow is being approached by working with the community on a consensus basis. We have now in place a building advisory committee. The Old Crow school council and Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation and an elder are on that committee, as well as people from the Department of Education and the Department of Government Services. Now that all the people have been named to that committee, it will hold its first meeting on April 3rd. The community has not yet selected a site for the school. It is impossible to begin construction when there is no site selected. The community made it very clear to me that they wanted some good planning to be done, that they wanted to be involved in the planning, that they did not want portables brought in on a quick basis, that they wanted to build the school properly, and we will respond to the schedule as the community identifies their needs. We will work on meeting those needs in a responsible manner.

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



Motion No. 13 - debate resumed from December 11, 1996

Clerk: Motion No. 13, standing in the name of Mr. Phillips, amendment moved by the hon. Ms. Moorcroft, adjourned debate, the hon. Ms. Moorcroft.

Speaker: I will read the motion. It has been moved by the Member for Riverdale North:

THAT it is the opinion of this House that the universal licensing and registration associated with the Liberal federal government's Firearms Act, Bill C-68, will be costly and intrusive on property and civil rights, and will have little impact, if any, on reducing the criminal use of guns; and

THAT that this House urges the New Democratic Party government to continue the work of the previous Yukon Party government in opposing Bill C-68 and join Ontario, Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories and Manitoba in the Province of Alberta's constitutional challenge of the new gun control law and opt out of the administration of this law if the challenge fails.

It has been moved, in amendment thereto, by the Hon. Minister of Justice:

THAT Motion No. 13 be amended by:

(1) in the first paragraph, deleting all words after the expression "civil rights" and substituting for them the following:

"and the rights of First Nations people pursuant to their self-government agreements, and is not an effective measure for reducing the criminal use of firearms."



deleting the second paragraph and substituting for it the following:

"that this House commends the Yukon government's position to participate in the Province of Alberta's constitutional challenge of the new gun control law, along with the governments of Ontario, Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories and Manitoba."

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for recapping where we were when we left this motion debate on December 11th, and I am pleased to rise and speak to the amendment now before the House.

The gun control bill, the C-68 Firearms Act of the Liberal government, has been one of the most contentious pieces of legislation, both in the Yukon and elsewhere across the country. It is for those reasons that I would like to be very clear about our position on it, and on the subject of universal registration and licensing as well as gun control in general.

We are vehemently opposed to the violent use of firearms and are supportive of any realistic, effective measures to reduce firearms violence. However, the universal registration and licensing provisions in the Firearms Act will not be effective mechanisms to reduce violence. There is no evidence that tougher registration and licensing laws will have any impact on the criminal use of firearms.

We have here in the north respect and safety-consciousness on the part of firearms owners. Although they are widely used, firearms are rarely used in the commitment of crime in the Yukon. There is also a large concern that cultural considerations were virtually ignored in Bill C-68. Firearms in the north are a tool, not a weapon.

The Firearms Act will merely complicate and increase the cost of the use of firearms by safety-conscious firearms owners who need firearms to sustain themselves or to pursue legitimate recreational activities.

Huge expenditures on firearms licensing and registration cannot be justified. It would be much more effective to take the resources that are expected to be consumed by the new firearms program, conservatively estimated at $85 million, and put them into direct programs that have been proven effective in reducing violence against women and children and in other crime prevention measures.

This bill was designed to garner political support for the federal government among southern urban Canadians who have little, if any, appreciation for the realities of life in the north. It is an attempt on the part of the federal government to exploit the fear of crime in urban areas for political gain. It will merely give people in urban areas a false belief that crime involving firearms will be greatly reduced once the act comes into effect.

I would like to speak on the Yukon administration of the Firearms Act. The Yukon government will only be required to administer Bill C-68 if the court challenge fails. We expect to win the court challenge and we therefore do not expect that we will be administering the Bill C-68 regime. However, it would be irresponsible to not consider the implications for the Yukon of the court challenge not succeeding. If the Firearms Act is eventually proclaimed into law, the Yukon government will do whatever is best for Yukoners, regardless of our personal feelings on the Firearms Act.

Opting out of the firearms administration would have little effect on the application of the law to Yukoners. Yukoners would still have to comply with the law; it would simply be administered by a federal agency, rather than the Yukon government. If we did opt out, the federal government would assign that firearms program to the RCMP. We believe that it is better to have police officers out doing police work, rather than doing firearms administration. This is a job better left to officials in the justice department. Since the RCMP is 70 percent funded by the Yukon government, we would only be hurting ourselves if the firearm program were transferred to the RCMP. We would likely end up paying for a portion of it.

By administering the program, the Yukon government is in a better position to hold the federal government accountable to its commitment to cover the full costs of the program. The federal government reimburses the Yukon for 100 percent of the costs of the existing firearms program. We will accept nothing less under the Bill C-68 regime. By administering the program, the Yukon has a voice at the table as implementation discussions are carried out. Yukon's circumstances and issues can be raised and discussed. If we do not participate, there will be no Yukon input into how implementation will actually be carried out.

The national policies established pursuant to the Firearms Act, which will establish how, in practical terms, the legislation will be interpreted and applied, will be developed through interjurisdictional meetings. It has been a benefit to the Yukon that we have had a seat at these meetings and that our officials have been there to participate with other jurisdictions in them. We have learned from experience that we cannot rely on Ottawa and southern jurisdictions to make policies that are relevant to the north.

To opt out would be a step back to colonial Yukon, when the federal government conducted our affairs and we had little influence over numerous government programs, which had a direct impact on the lives of Yukoners.

The Yukon government is smaller and more responsive than the monolithic federal system. We are confident that we can provide superior service to the public and minimize the inconvenience that can be created by bureaucratic delays in issuing licences. This is a reality we will have to face if the court challenge fails.

Opting out would mean the loss of federal firearms funding, of closure of the firearms office, and the elimination of two positions in the Department of Justice. This would lead to two layoffs, or it would require new money to be voted to create positions for the affected employees to fill.

I would like to advise members of the House that I have been working with Council of Yukon First Nations in seeking a satisfactory resolution of the difficulties we face with the federal Firearms Act. Earlier this week I met with Grand Chief Shirley Adamson of the Council of Yukon First Nations to discuss matters of mutual interest related to Bill C-68 and to discuss the First Nations' intent in looking at the possibility of their own firearms legislation.

One of the issues we discussed was the possibility that the Yukon justice department will be administering Bill C-68. Grand Chief Adamson recognizes the propriety of the Yukon government continuing to administer the firearms programs, even if YTG and CYFN, as they are, oppose this legislation.

The Council of Yukon First Nations is also looking at establishing its own firearms program, possibly pursuant to their own legislation. This is a matter that CYFN will be pursuing with the federal justice minister.

As a result of our meeting, the Grand Chief of the Council of Yukon First Nations and myself sent a joint letter to the federal Minister of Justice requesting a meeting with him so that all of our governments can work together towards a firearms control regime that is both relevant to the Yukon and sensitive to Yukoners' needs.

Our government intends to continue working cooperatively with Council of Yukon First Nations on the issue of gun control, as on other issues. As they carry out their discussions, we hoped that we might be able to assist in coming up with a made-in-Yukon solution that can be acceptable to all three orders of governments.

The degree to which this will be possible, given the federal government's intransigence on this issue, remains to be seen. However, I am hopeful that the federal minister will agree to meet with us, will recognize that cooperation between the Yukon governments and Council of Yukon First Nations is a positive step, and will recognize that we do share common concerns about firearm safety and about crime prevention measures.

Both the Council of Yukon First Nations and the Yukon government were clear on our position that we support the responsible use of firearms. We also want to see safety increased in our communities. We recognize that violence is a problem, and we would like to see this addressed through effective legislation and effective crime prevention measures. In addition, there is no difficulty with the provisions of the firearms legislation that provide for mandatory weapons prohibitions for people who have been convicted of violent crimes.

So, I would like to say to the members that we have some optimism over the fact that First Nations and the Yukon government are working cooperatively. We hope that the federal government will be willing to work with us, and we encourage members of the House to support the amendment before us and to support the motion as it will be amended. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Phillips: Well, Mr. Speaker, Bill C-68 is what I would consider probably one of the worst pieces of legislation that we have seen come out of the Liberal government in Ottawa since they became elected. It is an unfortunate piece of legislation, because I thought the system worked a lot differently than it appears to have worked. You wonder sometimes what you are fighting when you deal with Bill C-68. You wonder why no one is listening. Until you read a quote, and the quote is, "I came to Ottawa with a firm belief that the only people in this country who should have guns are police officers and soldiers." The individual that said that was Allan Rock, the federal Minister of Justice, in Maclean's magazine, in an article, "Taking Aim on Guns," on April 25, 1994, on page 12.

I think that says it all about Allan Rock's opinion about firearms. He doesn't care about our cultural values; he doesn't care about our lifestyle. He has his own opinion about guns and he is not interested in listening to anyone else's.

That is the frustration that I experienced as the Minister of Justice when I travelled to Ottawa to meet with Allan Rock, to meet with the Senate, to meet with the Members of Parliament in Ottawa and to plead the case for some changes to what we thought was a law that had some good points in it - the increased penalties, the smugglings, some other aspects of it that I thought were positive - but, we felt it was flawed in other parts, like the licensing and registration. We took a responsible approach to this by asking Allan Rock and the Liberal government in Ottawa to consider some changes that would make this law more acceptable to Canadians.

The Minister of Justice today spoke about her meetings with Shirley Adamson, the Grand Chief, and her hopes to meet with Allan Rock, and I will talk about that in a moment.

With respect to the amendment, I am not entirely happy with the amendment, primarily because I don't buy into the arguments that the Justice minister has told us, that it will weaken our position in devolution and responsibility and we are smaller than the other jurisdictions. Generally, I think it weakens our position in the court case, and that it sort of sends a message that we are defeated before we even argue the case.

I think that this is an issue that you have to stand on with strong principles. You have to say that if the federal government wants to administer this law here, as they do other laws here, then they can do it, not us. We won't have our territorial officials going in and out of Yukoners' houses and charging them with firearm-related offences when these are law abiding citizens that maybe just forgot or won't register their firearms - never committed a crime in their life with a firearm, and never will. I think it is an easy way out.

I am not going to belabour the point. I am pleased that they are going to continue with the court case that they are going to work with the other provinces in fighting the legislation - Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan. They are all going to opt out, by the way. Saskatchewan is an NDP jurisdiction and they feel it's important to send a clear message to Ottawa and they're opting out, but we won't.

That aside, I hope that today in this House that we are going to send another message to Allan Rock and the Liberal government.

I know that in the past all three parties have supported motions such as this, condemning Bill C-68, and we've all taken a responsible approach to improving Bill C-68, but I know that there're going to be three individuals in this House that are going to have some difficulty today and feel maybe a little uncomfortable in supporting this motion again, in the light of a federal election that might be happening in the next six months or so and knowing that C-68, at least in the Yukon, will probably be a pretty major issue - and should be a major issue.

Allan Rock wouldn't listen to me. I'm not convinced that Allan Rock's going to listen to Grand Chief Shirley Adamson and our Minister of Justice, either, because I've had several meetings with Allan Rock where he nodded his head and encouraged me and said he agreed with me, and then when I left his office the exact opposite happened - every single time. And it was pretty disappointing.

You know, Mr. Speaker, there is something we can do, though. We can send a message to Allan Rock and the Liberal government. We can send a message through our motion here in the House today, by all of us unanimously condemning the law and his refusal to listen, and we can remind Yukoners out there that in the next federal election they have more power than any of us will have in here. They can vote for any party other than the Liberals, and they will send them a real message.

It's obvious that Allan Rock wasn't prepared to listen then, and he's not prepared to listen now, because his ultimate goal is to remove firearms from every household in this country and only leave them with police officers and soldiers. And that's what this bill is going to do. This bill is targeted at law-abiding hunters, shooters, collectors, and it's not targeted at the criminals.

In fact, the Liberal government in Ottawa is moving in the opposite direction. It is bringing in legislation such as Bill C-68, which will affect law-abiding citizens and, at the same time, it's cut the funding for the port police in the various major ports in this country where, we are told, most of the smuggling of the firearms goes on. Most of the smuggling goes on in the ports.

The port police and the authorities in Vancouver and other major ports throughout this country are pleading with the federal government. They say, "This is contrary to what you say in Bill C-68, that you are going to increase the resources to stop smuggling and so, the first thing you do is decide to reduce the deficit at the expense of the people who will actually stop the smugglers from bringing the firearms into the country."

It is more important to Allan Rock and the Liberals in Ottawa to support the faint hope clause and protect the likes of Clifford Olsen, a mass murderer, Mr. Speaker. He'll protect Clifford Olsen, but he'll go after the law-abiding citizens of the Yukon and dramatically affect their lifestyle and their use of firearms.

I notice my Liberal colleagues over there shaking their heads, Mr. Speaker. Well, they should shake their heads. They should shake their heads at Allan Rock. They should shake their heads and hang their heads at the Liberals in Ottawa, who are ramming this legislation down our throats.

It'll be interesting to see if they come to the defence of Mr. Rock or come to the defence of their own constituents who disagree with Bill C-68.

I wanted to put on the record, Mr. Speaker, a couple of things. I think people should understand what Bill C-68 will do and when it'll do it. The federal Liberals plan to make it as difficult as possible for you or I to own firearms in the future. They're going to make firearms ownership so complicated and expensive that many regular hunters and shooters are going to be driven away by the paperwork, the high fees and the bureaucratic red tape, while making those who do not comply - the criminals - laugh all the way to the bank on their way to the holdup.

C-68 is not going to be proclaimed until after the next federal election. Many of the aspects don't come into place until after the next federal election, so there still is time to send them a message.

By the year 2001, we all will have to have a firearms licence to keep firearms we now own. You have to pay to get this licence and the government, by regulation, is going to set the fees. Anyone not having this licence will be guilty of a criminal offence. Interesting to note, I think the penalty is five years, and I was just hearing in the CBC news at 7:30 this morning that a person who killed his wife got a four-year prison sentence. It makes you wonder where we are going with our justice system in this country, believe me, when they figure that for not registering a firearm you can get five years and for killing your spouse you get four. No wonder the people are outraged. No wonder the people are fed up with the system, but the federal Liberals cannot see the light.

These new fees can be increased arbitrarily whenever the government wishes. They do not have to go back to the House of Commons. They do not have to go out in the public and ask us if they should increase the fees. We will just get a notification the next time you go in to register and it will cost you more.

All firearms are going to have to be registered by the year 2003. If you do not register, they have made it perfectly clear they intend to charge you. Anyone not registering firearms will be guilty of a criminal offence. On that date, the federal government will have created a whole new class of criminals out of honest citizens, who just happen to be the law-abiding firearms owners of this country. Allan Rock and Jean Chretien know that there will lots of errors in the system, but they do not care. They are going to disarm the country.

I understand that there are going to be some fees. Some of the fees are going to be... I think there is a $25 fee if you sell a rifle. It was described to me by one person. He said, "what does this going to do to the people who live in the bush - First Nation people and others - who might use a little Cooey .22 to hunt muskrats, gophers or whatever ,and they want to sell it?" First they have to have a firearms acquisition certificate, then they have to be licensed and registered - that will probably cost $75 or $100 when the smoke clears - then they have to pay $25 if they sell it. The .22 is not worth much than that nowadays. It will lead to a lot of illegal trade in firearms or people do it under the table. Again, it is making criminals out of these people who want to go rat or gopher hunting. It just doesn't make any sense.

The federal firearms legislation is going to cost a lot more than Allan Rock has suggested. I think his figure was about $85 million - $80 million to $85 million - and the firearms users have estimated somewhere in the $500 million mark - half a billion dollars. The figures that I've heard bandied now - the feds are getting up there in the $200 million mark. They realize that no longer is it going to be $80 million; it's going to be around $200 million, and everyone who's doing that, or looking at what they're doing, is saying they are really underestimating it.

There's a lot of costs in there that the Minister of Justice says we can bill for. We implement it on their behalf and we can bill them for it. Well, I think there's a lot of hidden costs with respect to C-68 that we'll never be able to bill for, and that's when the First Nations person, or the non-native person from Teslin walks into the policeman's office and says, "How does this work? What do I do? How do I register?" And the officer has to take 20 minutes or half an hour out of his time to explain what C-68 is all about. We're not going to be able to bill for that, and while we're doing that, he's not working on the spousal assault case, he's not working on the drunk driving case or a break and enter case that he might have at the time. It's going to take time, and we only have so many people in these small communities to do this work. And you're not going to be able to bill for any of that.

The RCMP are going to be the information centre and the sounding board for every person in the communities, and that's something that we won't be able to bill for.

As well, the Minister of Justice knows that not only does the Yukon have an outstanding bill with the federal government with respect to the existing legislation, but so do other provinces and territories. The feds haven't paid their share of what we've billed them from the existing legislation. So I'm given no comfort whatsoever to think that if we send them a new bill on the new legislation they're going to pay all of it.

Mr. Speaker, this is an issue that strikes home with many Yukoners. It's an issue that's going to be extremely expensive to implement. The licensing and registration provisions are going to cost millions of dollars. - I think between $200 million and $500 million before the smoke clears. This is coming at the same time - the same time - that the federal government is cutting programs in health and education.

Let's look at a good example - the YES program that was just cut by the federal government here. March 31st the money runs out. No money for YES, but we got several million dollars in the Yukon for a licensing and registration system for people who don't commit crimes. It doesn't make any sense. It's like the right hand doesn't know what the left hand's doing. They don't talk to each other over there. Allan Rock is bound and determined to disarm the country, and he doesn't give a hoot what it costs. But we have an opportunity. We have a golden opportunity as Yukoners. And that's going to come up in the next six months when the federal Liberal government - Mr. Chretien and Mr. Rock - call an election. And I think it's time. We've tried to get into meetings, and the local Liberals locked us out. As Yukoners, we tried to speak out loud and clear about C-68. Allan Rock wouldn't listen to what we had to say. The Liberal senators shut us down in Ottawa. The Liberal Members of Parliament shut us down in the committee hearings in Ottawa. You know what? Yukoners have the last say. Yukoners can shut the Liberals down in the Yukon and send a real strong message to Allan Rock and the Liberal government.

Speaker: Order. I would ask the member to complete his remarks in two minutes.

Mr. Phillips: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Just in wrapping up, I want to give all members a little word of caution. There are lots of people, besides ourselves, who are fighting this legislation. I will give you an example. The wildlife federations of this country are fighting this legislation on behalf of their law-abiding gun owners and hunters and fishermen. The Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation started a fund to fight Bill C-68, and they raised a bunch of money from law-abiding gun owners to help fight the case. Do you know what happened? When the federal Liberals passed Bill C-68, and the people said it was unfair and encroaches on individual rights, many of the Saskatchewan people vowed to oppose the Liberals in the next federal election. Last month, the 30,000-member Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation found out that the government thinks the charity should keep their political opinions quiet, and they ordered an audit on the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation. Now isn't that scary? Maybe if we oppose this strongly enough, they'll threaten to cut off some of our formula financing, or money coming from Ottawa, and say, "You guys shut up or you're not going to get anything from us."

It's outrageous that they're acting in this way with a bill that's so fundamentally important to so many people.

Mr. Speaker, I encourage Yukoners to go to the polls in the next federal election and speak loud and clear. Jean Charest said he will throw out C-68. Other parties have said that they will amend or change C-68. So the choice is yours. The Liberals are going to keep it in. The Liberals are going to work hard to make sure that we, as Yukoners, and others will lose the rights to own and use our firearms in the future.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Hon. Mr. Harding: Actually, sorry, the speaking order - I guess I have to go, okay. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to support the amendment by my colleague the Minister of Justice. I think it is a responsible amendment. I think it shows a clear commitment on behalf of our government to stand up for Yukoners to the federal government and say that this bill is not appropriate for us as Yukoners, that we feel that there are certain aspects of the bill that make some sense but when engrossed in the mantra of the registration system we are not in favour of this bill. The people in my riding, certainly, they're very active hunters and fishers and enjoy being out in the bush, and feel that, while they are certainly opposed to violence in society and some of the heinous things that happen in our lives and they are supportive of initiatives to deal with that, they obviously do not feel very strongly that the registration system and a lot of the initiatives proposed in Bill C-68 are going to accomplish that task.

I, myself, am very upset with not only the federal Liberals with this bill but the local Liberals who, time and time again, have stonewalled our abilities as a Yukon jurisdiction to raise our concerns and to oppose the C-68 bill.

I heard the Member for Riverdale North speak of the famous meeting organized by local Liberal bag people. They organized. They stood at the door and said that unless you had a Liberal party card you couldn't get in the door. Publicly they say at times that they are not supportive of Bill C-68, but it's clear their actions and their cheerleading of the Chretian government and Allan Rock's actions really show Yukoners that they are on side with this bill, and it's clear that they feel very strongly that it should be part of the Liberal government's agenda. And no doubt the local Liberals will be out there campaigning for the Liberal platform that is going to support and promote Bill C-68, while we poor Yukoners trying to get heard by the federal government are obviously going to have to clamour for that right and continue, as our justice minister has, to try and ensure that we get our voice heard with regard to our concerns.

On the administration issue, I simply don't think its practical to opt out, because I know the federal government and the bullyish tactics of the federal Liberals will ensure that the administration is forced upon us one way or the other, and we'll end up with a situation whereby they're controlling it through some other method and we'll have no input or no control whatsoever, at least to mitigate the impact.

Mr. Speaker, it's possible they may even send the auditors in if we don't agree publicly. So, we are quite worried and we do feel that a responsible action is to concur with the administration of the bill, even if it's reluctantly, so that we can at least get a say on the ground floor. We haven't had a say with the Liberal government so far, but we're hoping that in this respect we'll have some luck. If not, it's going to be foisted upon us anyway, so we feel we are pretty much bound in that respect.

I also believe, fundamentally, as a Democrat, that when the federal government speaks we have our opportunity through political action to try and change that. But, when a law is commenced and is given stature, I believe that there is some obligation upon us to carry out the letter of that law, agree or disagree.

I believe the more appropriate action, rather than not administrating a law of the federal government, is to speak out with political action, as we're doing today, and to try and put pressure on the government who has initiated this action, to try and either modify, change to meet our concerns, or to disband the legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I would just say that my constituents, the vast majority, have many concerns of which I have iterated to this House on many different occasions with regard to Bill C-68. I'm very, very disappointed with both the local Liberals, as well as the federal Liberals, for their constant cheerleading of this bill. We often hear that they're against it, but their actions and their obvious work they'll be doing in the next little while, the campaign here in the territory for the Liberal party and its pushing of Bill C-68, will be a clear indication to Yukon people that they're all red, whether they're territorial or federal.

Mr. Speaker, further to that, I would also add that I have to support the Minister of Justice's action with regard to the court challenge of the law and also her reluctant and her tacit realization, in order for Yukoners to have any say we may have to reluctantly participate in the administration.

I also reject the argument, with all due respect to the Member from Riverdale North, that it weakens our case. I think it's just simply a point, as Democrats, that we believe we are certainly going to be a participant with the other jurisdictions in the argument as its presented.

But, I'm not a lawyer and the following speaker is, so he may have something to say about that.

I commend the amendment to this House and I think that the course charted by the Minister of Justice is one of exemplary action and I support her and this government fully.

Mr. Cable: Thanks, Mr. Speaker. I know there are strange things done under the midnight sun and we have the government - the New Democratic government - whose federal counterparts, anyway, for many, many years have been identified firmly with gun control and who - one of their members, Svend Robinson, chided his colleagues when they voted against Bill C-68. When he was chiding them, he indicated they were abandoning their principles. Here we have the Yukon Party who went through this change-a-name act several years ago because Mulroney was in bad taste. Now they're fighting the next federal election on behalf of the Progressive Conservatives from the floor of the Legislative Assembly. All I'm left to do is address the real issue, of course, which is Bill C-68.

Now, Bill C-68 has many facets. There was an increase in the minimum sentences given for commissions of crime with guns and with weapons. There's, I'm sure, unanimous support in this House for that provision and I have never heard anyone in this territory say, "No, that is not a good idea."

The second facet of Bill C-68 was a new offence relating to cross-border movement of guns. I'd never heard any negative comment on that provision. There's increased prohibition of military assault weapons, giving indication to people that most governments in this country and most Canadians believe that people do not need military assault weapons or AK-47s to live their lives in Canadian society.

Where we have problems is in the registration of long guns, rifles and long shotguns and these give rise to problems that relate to inheritance and problems that relate to rights of entry clauses in the gun bill. These are genuine problems. The Yukon Liberal Party, despite the protestations that I have heard here today, are firmly on the record against these provisions. All of the previous speakers are fully aware that they're perhaps doing a little smoke and mirrors on us.

Just for the record, for those who were asleep in the previous gun bill debate, Yukon's Liberal senator voted against Bill C-68. While many of the Progressive Conservative senators scurried for cover and voted for it, which shows the effect that the previous justice minister had on his trips down to Ottawa. He was very convincing.

He didn't stop the bill.

Now the Yukon Liberal Party Leader has spoken publicly against the registration provisions on many occasions, and I say that again for those that were asleep.

And when Mr. Abel's motion came before the House two or three years ago - a very well thought-out motion - I voted in support of the motion. So the Yukon Liberal Party's position is clear, and to distort that position I think doesn't do justice to this House.

Having said that, most Yukon Liberals think the jury is out on the relationship between the ownership and registration of long guns and rifles and violence against the person. Most Yukon Liberals, including myself and my fellow colleagues, believe that these registration requirements will create a bureaucratic empire, probably considerably more expensive that what we are led to believe. So we have no problem whatsoever in supporting the motion as amended by the now justice minister. And I would agree with the justice minister - and to some extent the previous justice minister. He's pointing frantically at himself. He wants a little credit, and I think the previous justice minister does deserve credit. He started the action - the constitutional challenge - and I think that's very wise.

There's no point in building up a huge bureaucratic empire if we have a bill before us that's constitutionally questioned. And I welcome that constitutional challenge. But if, in fact, the constitutional challenge is unsuccessful, if the Supreme Court does not agree with the applicants, then we are obliged, in my view, to administer the bill. We can give Yukoners the best service if we're not on the sidelines, but if we are actively involved in administering the bill.

So on behalf of myself and, I am sure, my colleagues, I have to indicate that we will support the amendment and we will be supporting the motion as amended if, in fact, the amendment carries.

Mr. Ostashek: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today to support the motion and the amendment, and want to get on the public record one more time that when we were in government we said that we would continue to fight this very, very undemocratic bill that really infringes on people's rights for no valid reason and will do absolutely nothing to deal with the real issue, and that's keeping the firearms out of the hands of criminals. There is nothing in this bill that would lead me to believe that there will be any impact on the number of weapons that criminals have or are able to acquire.

I am certain that somebody who wants to rob a bank doesn't first go and get a firearms permit, buy a firearm, and then go and rob the bank. I am sure that, after this bill is through, they will not have any more difficulty getting a firearm than they do now, because they do not need to go through the legal system to acquire firearms.

So, as my colleagues have all spoken before me, all this does is create a huge bureaucracy that is going to be very, very costly to administrate and will have relatively little, if any, effect on the level of crime in our country.

We all would like to see violence curtailed and live in harmony, but bills such as this one are not going to do anything to help us get there. But, I do believe that we could even strengthen this motion. In saying that, I would just like to propose a friendly amendment to the motion:

THAT Motion No. 13 be amended by adding, after the first paragraph, the following:

"that this House urges the Liberal federal government to cancel the costly registration system and to utilize the savings to combat alcohol and drug abuse and violence against women."

Speaker's ruling

Speaker: The amendment that has been moved is out of order at this time because, in fact, it is an amendment to an amendment. This amendment is entitled "An Amendment to Motion No. 13". We must first deal with the amendment that is on the Order Paper.

Question has been called on the amendment.

Some Hon. Members: Division.


Speaker: Division has been called. Mr. Clerk, would you kindly poll the House.

Hon. Mr. McDonald: Agreed.

Hon. Mr. Harding: Agreed.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Agreed.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Agreed.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Agreed.

Mr. McRobb: Agreed.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Agreed.

Mr. Fentie: Agreed.

Mr. Hardy: Agreed.

Mr. Ostashek: Agreed.

Mr. Phillips: Agreed.

Mr. Jenkins: Agreed.

Mr. Cable: Agreed.

Ms. Duncan: Agreed.

Mrs. Edelman: Agreed.

Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 15 yea, nil nay.

Speaker: I declare the amendment to the motion carried unanimously.

Amendment to Motion No. 13 agreed to

Speaker: Is there further debate?

Mr. Ostashek: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I was speaking prior to the vote on the amended motion I apologize for that. I should have realized that I had to wait for the vote on the amendment before I could present another amendment. But I would like to carry through with the amendment so I will move it again.

Amendment proposed

Mr. Ostashek: I move


Motion No. 13 be further amended by adding after the first paragraph the following:

"that this House urges the Liberal federal government to cancel the costly registration system and to utilize the savings to combat alcohol and drug abuse and violence against women and".

Speaker: The amendment to Motion No. 13 has been moved:

THAT this House urges the Liberal federal government to cancel a costly registration system and to utilize these savings to combat alcohol and drug abuse and violence against women.

Is there further debate?

Mr. Ostashek: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We've had much debate, not only in this Legislature but across Canada, on the complexities of this bill, the good parts of the bill and the bad parts of the bill. I don't believe that there are very many people in Canada that believe that the registration part of the bill will do anything to combat problems such as violence against women, violence against society and the use of firearms in an illegal manner. And yet that is the portion of the bill that is causing the greatest concern for most Canadians.

We all agree with stricter controls of automatic weapons and those sorts of things. We have no difficulty with that. We agree with harsher penalties for people caught in criminal acts, with the use of firearms to be come down on heavily. But what we can't agree with is a costly system that is not going to be of any benefit to Canadians and a great cost to taxpayers, when, at the same time, we have the Liberal government in Ottawa that is imposing this on Canadians. They are dramatically cutting health and social service spending by downloading to the provinces.

If we look at the record of the Liberal administration in Ottawa, which takes great pride in standing in front of the public and the world at large and bragging about the great job they have done in curtailing their spending, the only thing I can say to the Minister of Finance is that he is very, very fortunate that he had 12 jurisdictions in this country to unload this spending that he was not prepared to make.

That was the only way that he was able to combat his deficit without actually cutting the federal spending by that much. When you look at all the figures, the health and social service transfers to the provinces have been cut by 40 percent, yet overall government spending has been cut less than 10 percent. Even with all the rhetoric and the noise we hear of the thousands and thousands of bureaucrats being laid off, the fact of the matter is that the actual cuts to the federal government are less than 10 percent.

Most of the accomplishments in fighting the deficit - and I agree that we had to get the deficit under control, but I don't agree with the manner that they did it, because most of the money that came from that, almost all of it - was from cuts to transfer payments to the provinces and the territories - some 40 percent - and also by dipping into the employment insurance fund to the tune of some $5 billion a year that has gone to fight the deficit.

And it has gone to fight the deficit. And it's not right. It's not right, Mr. Speaker, and it should not go without legislatures in this country voicing their concerns and doing what they can to force the federal government to deal with things in a more responsible manner.

So, what are we estimating? Eighty million dollars, I think, is the conservative figure for gun registration in this country, up to possibly a half a billion dollars. It would go a long ways to fighting alcohol and drug abuse and violence against women and other such social programs in our country that are sadly lacking of funds, and governments at all levels not having enough financial resources to deal with them - as my colleagues across the aisle are starting to find out: it was a lot easier to sit on this side and criticize than it was to sit over there and try to balance the books. Now they're starting to find out that it's not all that easy. It's not all that easy, and it's a little touchy sometimes, too, I see.

Nevertheless, Mr. Speaker, I would like to see this amendment pass because I believe that the money that is going to be wasted on gun registration - we just don't have those kind of financial resources any more in this country. No country in the world has the money for those kinds of luxuries any more, for setting up these huge bureaucracies. Yet we have a federal government that just laid off 25,000 civil servants, cut out all kinds of other Crown corporations and everything else, and now they're going to start hiring again. Now they're going to start hiring again. They're going to force us to hire to implement this system that they imposed on us.

So, Mr. Speaker, I urge the House to give support to this amendment and send a strong message to Ottawa.

Speaker: Are there further speakers on this amendment?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I'm not going to speak too long. I'm not particularly a user of firearms. Given my vision, I would probably present a greater threat to the public if I took out a firearm. No one would be safe, but I have lived up here long enough to know, and I have lived in small communities where firearms are indeed a tool. They're part of the northern lifestyle. I have lived in communities where I have seen people use firearms as part of their daily life and I have severe concerns about restrictions on that way of life. In many ways for many of our aboriginal people up here it is a traditional way of life. It's a way of supporting themselves. It's a tool to personal dignity. It's a tool to pursuing a lifestyle that gives people a sense of freedom and personal value, so I have severe concerns about inhibitions on the way of life of people up here by this firearms legislation.

I would like to just echo perhaps some of the concerns of the Leader of the Official Opposition when he talks about where the priorities lie. We do have, as he has said, a federal government that is cutting back and cutting back on a wide front of social programs. We have lost the federal drug strategy. We are losing the tobacco reduction strategy. We are losing New Horizons in Aging and there appears to be, if I interpret it right, some severe restrictions on the CAP C funding.

In the face of these kinds of massive, massive federal off-loading of programs, we are being asked to inherit a federal cost, and I really do have to sort of suggest at this point that we are getting some mixed messages that, on one hand, we are having things off-loaded in terms of cost and responsibilities and, on the other hand, we are having additional responsibilities and additional financial responsibilities off-loaded onto us by this federal bill.

So, I do have some concerns in that regard and I felt I would be remiss if I did not speak to some concerns which have begun to disturb me increasingly in the last few months, and it is something that I hope to bring forward in future weeks in this House. Thank you.

Speaker: Are there further speakers on this amendment?

Mr. Phillips: I'm pleased to rise to speak to the amendment here today and I think it's a wise amendment considering what's happening in the country at the present time.

A couple of years ago, just after I became the Minister of Justice, I attended a conference at the Westmark Hotel on family violence and on violence against women and children.

There were a couple hundred Yukoners that attended that particular conference and I listened to speaker, after speaker, after speaker talk about the issue of family violence and realized how prevalent it is in our society, and I had been somewhat sheltered with it through my life and not having any experience within my own family that I can ever recall. I always kept thinking the figures were distorted, or that it wasn't really happening, or maybe I didn't like to think it was happening. But when you get exposed to a little more, as I did, as the Minister of Justice, it makes you realize that it is a very serious problem out there and that many times the family violence is related to alcohol and drug abuse and it does create enormous disruptions within families and it sometimes can lead to disastrous results such as a murder, or severe beatings of an individual.

Although I don't necessarily support the budget that's been put in front of us, I certainly do support some of the initiatives in respect to the justice department and one is the extra money put into the family violence prevention unit.

I applaud those initiatives, because I know when I talk to individuals over there and I talk to others who are involved, they are a super group of dedicated people who work in a very difficult area and are overtaxed at the best of times. We put enormous resources in there when we were in government by establishing the unit and building on the unit, and I am pleased to see the government has that as a priority as well.

But, wouldn't it be nice, wouldn't it be just wonderful if Allan Rock and the federal Liberal government would take the $500,000 to a million dollars, which was the estimate that we looked at to implement C-68 - $500,000 to a million dollars, just in the Yukon - if Allan Rock had said to us, "Well, where could you use this money?" Well, I'm sure the Minister of Health and the Minister of Justice could find good uses for that money. I'm absolutely convinced that if we were given between a half and a million dollars from the federal government directly for those kinds of services, we could put it into crime prevention initiatives in the alcohol and drug area, or in the violence against women area, we could get some concrete results.

I'm pleased to see that the Opposition House Leader has brought this amendment forward, because it is important. It's not only important to identify these areas as areas of high priority but it's also important to express our concerns as members of the legislatures on what direction the federal government appears to be taking in these areas - the "downloading", as it has been called. The federal government prefers to describe it as reducing the cost of government, but it's not really reducing the cost of government. It's removing the cost to another jurisdiction, and in some cases they are right. It is reducing the cost to the program, like the YES program, like other programs. But unless someone picks it up, then the program is lost. And when you get good programs like YES, when you get other good programs that the federal government has piloted over the years - and they have been famous for it. They come in and they pilot a program. The maintenance enforcement program is one that comes to mind, where we had a three- or four-year agreement where they came in and gave us a whole bunch of money to do some groundwork, which was good; but then, when the program ended, we still have the unit, we still have expenses for the unit, ongoing O&M, and there was no money for a program which I think in the long run didn't necessarily help government but certainly helped a lot of mothers out there who weren't receiving regular maintenance payments. Yet the expectations were created and then it was left up to the Yukon government to carry on - as is with the YES program and other federal programs.

I imagine the Minister of Health could probably stand on his feet, and the Minister of Justice, and probably list a dozen programs. Legal aid is another good example. Legal aid - we were funding it to the tune of about $1 million a year a few years ago, and the federal government cut it and cut it and cut it and cut it, yet the expectations were out there that the legal aid level was available and the pressure was put on us, from the Opposition sometimes, mainly from the clients who needed it. It was a necessity and it forced us to put a little extra money into it and pick up the downloading. It didn't reduce the cost of government. It reduced the federal government's deficit, but there is only one taxpayer, and we're looking at them. It's us.

It doesn't matter how many levels of government we have, it all has to come from the one pocket. The federal government seems to forget that and prides itself on the reduced deficit. Meanwhile, the people that are really doing the cutting, the people that are really reducing the operation and maintenance of the government, other than the Yukon government, are the other provinces. In Ontario they're cutting back on their government. In British Columbia they announced 3,000 or 2,000 layoffs. The layoffs are something that no one likes but you have to realize that with the layoffs go other provincial programs that may be helping people.

The problem of alcohol and drug abuse and violence against women does not go away if you ignore it; in fact, it gets a lot worse. I think that by amending this particular motion that is in front of us, it sends a clear message to Ottawa in two respects: one, that our priority in the Yukon is to reduce crime and our crime isn't firearms related, so don't put the money into firearms-related licensing and registration. Our problem is alcohol and drug abuse and violence against women and children, which is very much related to alcohol and drug abuse and that's where the money should be spent.

I know that the minister said she was going to meet with Allan Rock. I spoke with Allan Rock. I was as close to Allan Rock as I am to the Leader of the Opposition. I said this very thing to him. I said this very thing to Allan Rock and Allan Rock nodded his head in agreement and then did nothing with my recommendations. If there is anyone in the whole world whose name is appropriate, it is Allan Rock. This guy is a rock. He ain't changing his mind no matter what.

It was a frustrating experience, believe you me, to stand there and not only listen to Mr. Rock tell us we were wrong, but to listen to senators and Liberal Members of Parliament who were women - who should have known better - stand up and say that my argument about the violence against women and alcohol and drug abuse in the Yukon was not right. It angered me to see those women who listened - those women in particular - to the instructions of Mr. Chretien and Mr. Rock and knew better. Sharon Carstairs was a good example. She knew better about how alcohol and drug abuse was causing a great deal of harm to Yukoners in the territory - to other women in the territory - and yet they weren't prepared to listen for a moment to our arguments, weren't prepared to give them an ounce of credibility, weren't prepared to listen to an individual who actually lived in the territory. That was irrelevant. They didn't want to hear from anybody who lived there or experienced it or had to deal with it or went to the conference on violence against women and children. They were not interested in what the people at that meeting said about violence and alcohol and drug abuse. They were not interested.

Sharon Carstairs was not interested in the issue of violence against women. It's sad, but that's the case. I was there; I saw it with my own eyes.

It's unfortunate, Mr. Speaker, and I became frustrated and angry and upset, and there wasn't anything you could do about it, because the bill was rote from day one. The bill was a done deal when Allan Rock said nobody but the police and military should have firearms, and he didn't care, and still doesn't care, at what cost it is to other women and children out there, what cost it is to anybody else out there. He doesn't care. He might tell you he does, but he wasn't prepared to listen to any sound arguments, not just from me. I'll bet every other justice minister of the country that attended with us in those meetings stood up and said very similar things - Stephen Kakfwi, identical. You could read the transcript of what everyone said, and we were virtually under attack from the Liberals when we went to present our views.

They weren't interested in what we had to say. It was a confrontational approach, and it was unfortunate, and it's reflected in the bill. The amendments that they made in the bill were a joke. They didn't touch any of the issues that were fundamental to the whole bill.

And then, months afterwards, they start cutting and decimating social programs throughout the country, and asking the provinces, and you and me, the taxpayer, to pick them up.

I don't think that's acceptable, and I hope that all members will support this amendment to the motion that's before us here today, and that we can take this motion, and the contents of the motion, and mail it to the Liberals in Ottawa. Maybe we should mail it to all the party leaders of all the respective parties in Ottawa, and again, with a cover letter from me or the Minister of Justice or the Government Leader expressing our strong views on how we think that this has been poorly handled and that they should have a second thought about this before it goes any further.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It's certainly being demonstrated today that politics sometimes makes for strange alliances and also for differences, and I'm going to address both of those in my comments.

I do rise to support the amendment, but before I do that I really must comment on the previous speaker's remarks criticizing Liberal women for not knowing better and supporting the Bill C-68 legislation. It's interesting that the member's putting all the responsibility on women to make the right decisions. Perhaps that reinforces the problem that politics, like so much of society, is a male-dominated institution and that we certainly need more women participating in it. Nonetheless, I think the responsibility for the firearms legislation belongs squarely to the federal Liberal government as a whole and not strictly to the women in their caucus.

The member opposite is kibitzing there and I'm not catching all of his comments. Nonetheless, I am rising to support this amendment. I want to state that it is consistent with our position, that we support effective measures to reduce firearms violence but that we do not believe the registration and licensing laws contained in C-68 will have an impact on the criminal use of firearms, particularly not in northern Canada.

I also should let the previous speaker know that at the recent justice ministers conference in New Brunswick, I spoke with many of my colleagues from all political parties from various governments across Canada and, as members know, western premiers are united in a challenge of the firearms bill. So, there are political alliances on opposition to firearms legislation that certainly crosses party lines.

This amendment speaks to cancelling the costly registration system that is the most offensive part of Bill C-68. We take the position that effective crime-prevention measures should be government's priority. They should be the priority of the federal government. They are a priority of the Yukon government and the First Nations governments.

I think, in the end, that responsible citizens will register their firearms if all attempts to prevent this bill are unsuccessful. Nonetheless, it is far more effective to support initiatives to combat alcohol and drug abuse and to combat violence against women in society than it is to proceed with Bill C-68.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Are you prepared for the question on the amendment?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Thank you, very much. Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure indeed to be able to stand here and speak in a unified House about what we would like to see come into legislation and how we would like to see our federal government react, and maybe how we would also like to see them implement, I think, the people's desire.

I will speak in support of the motion. I do believe that the motion, as talked about previously by all previous speakers, has been spoken about with due elegance, due diligence. I believe that it is very important that we - the Government of the Yukon - speak in a unified voice to this motion.

Let me first of all say, Mr. Speaker, that violence in any culture is not a traditional value. Not at all. It must be said and reiterated time and time again that violence against women, against children, against one another should not be tolerated and considered deplorable in any society.

Turning firearms into weapons of violence, and categorizing them as such, will restrict nothing. We must look at better education; we must look at the social value system of our society and try and make it better. We must try to speak [First Nation language spoken]. You have heard me say that in this House before. It means "respect". It means respect for yourself before you can have respect for others surrounding you. Only then, will you be able to move forward. I find that in my experience of leadership, that [First Nation language spoken] is deeply missed today, and it is fundamental that we work together as people that are desirous to see respect and family systems brought back into existence in this country and all over the world.

By restricting firearms, it negatively impacts the people of the land and, I do believe, people in general. I will not try to reiterate all of the points that have been made by the previous speakers, but I would like to point out that by working together, we can do a lot of positive things for our society here in Yukon.

I would also like to point out that through cooperation of both levels of government - the Council of Yukon First Nations and all First Nations, the territorial government - within the Yukon Territory, only then will we be able to begin to mend that fabric that has been so sadly lacking, and I think is very desirous and wanted by all people in the Yukon.

Because we are Yukoners, we must stick together and act as Yukoners. I do believe then that this small jurisdiction of 30,000 people will be able to be pinpointed on a map and say, "There is where positive change is coming from. There is an example that we are living and working towards." I do see that that is going to be able to be brought into existence by cooperation, by working closely with all levels of government.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to again reiterate my support for this and I do believe that I would encourage all members present to work towards those ends.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Are you prepared for the question on the amendment?

Some Hon. Members: Division.


Speaker: Division has been called.

Mr. Clerk, would you please poll the House.

Hon. Mr. McDonald: Agreed.

Hon. Mr. Harding: Agreed.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Agreed.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Agreed.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Agreed.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Agreed.

Mr. McRobb: Agreed.

Mr. Fentie: Agreed.

Mr. Hardy: Agreed.

Mr. Ostashek: Agreed.

Mr. Phillips: Agreed.

Mr. Jenkins: Agreed.

Mr. Cable: Agreed.

Ms. Duncan: Agreed.

Mrs. Edelman: Agreed.

Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 15 yea, nil nay.

Speaker: I declare the amendment moved by the Leader of the Official Opposition carried unanimously.

Amendment No. 2 to Motion No. 13 agreed to

Speaker: Is there further debate on the motion - Motion No. 13?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, I will make my comments very short.

Bill C-68 is definitely a big blow to the people of Yukon. It affects the way in which we live, that is, all the people of the Yukon- the hunters, the trappers, the outfitters - those that use firearms for sports and those that use it for protection out on the land.

It also affects the aboriginal people of Yukon, Mr. Speaker. First Nation people in Yukon have anticipated that these things could come up and have attempted to have some protection for this and, in the umbrella final agreement under chapter 16, there are some attempts to try to have this type of issue addressed so that the First Nation people can continue their way of life and not be affected as much as the laws that are coming out of the federal government pushes it.

The federal government is slowly picking away at First Nations peoples' aboriginal rights. I feel that its another attempt to assimilate the aboriginal people of this country.

Mr. Speaker, the people of the Yukon that own firearms, that use it as a way of life, would certainly be greatly affected once this bill is in force. One gun control that we have been speaking about to one another in Yukon is one that's very simple and that is a gun control where what you need is a good eye and steady hand. I think that concept that's out there right now is certainly part of people's lives and it should not change. We have a unique situation up here in the Yukon and I will continue to support the fight on Bill C-68 and not see the decent people of the Yukon dragged into a world of crime.

Speaker: The Member for Riverdale North, to close debate. The Member for Kluane.

Mr. McRobb: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. There is not much more I can add to what has been said already, but I do have a few words for the record.

Our government is opposed to the criminal use of firearms and will support measures to reduce firearms violence. However, there is no evidence that the universal registration and licensing requirements of the Firearms Act will reduce the criminal use of firearms, particularly in the north, where incidents of violent use of firearms are minimal.

People of the Yukon are generally safety conscious when using firearms and have a respect for firearms. This is especially so, given that guns are traditionally used for hunting and safety purposes. Let's not forget that the costs of firearms licensing and registration is estimated at $85 million minimum. This is difficult to justify in a world of federal cutbacks and downloading and corporate downsizing and streamlining. It makes sense to use the money on programs proven to be effective in getting at the root of violence, thus reducing violence against women and children. In Yukon, there are many incidents of violence, although a criminal activity with the use of firearms is rare. There are many ways this money could be better spent in the Yukon and throughout Canada.

In addition, Bill C-68 shows an incredible lack of consideration of the First Nations' cultural perspective and traditional lifestyle. It would cause undue hardship, particularly for elders who speak only an aboriginal language. If an elder wants to purchase a firearm, he or she would have to produce a firearms acquisition certificate, which is obtained only after taking a course. This could prove to be quite a challenge and a disruption for such a person, who would only be continuing on a traditional lifestyle.

Mr. Speaker, as my colleague the Minister of Justice has indicated, the Yukon government and the Council for Yukon First Nations has developed a formal, good working relationship on firearm control. She met with CYFN Grand Chief Shirley Adamson and signed a joint letter to the federal Minister of Justice, Allan Rock, regarding Bill C-68. The letter indicated that both governments would like to meet with Mr. Rock to attempt to resolve issues surrounding the bill. The First Nations' self-government agreements allow for the right of First Nations to enact laws in settlement lands which could include the control or prohibition of the possession or use of firearms, which they will be pursuing with the federal justice minister through CYFN.

As these discussions are being carried out, our government will be working with CYFN in the hopes of coming up with a made-in-the-Yukon solution. YTG and First Nations have many areas of common concern such as crime prevention, safe use of firearms and violence.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, we want to work cooperatively with CYFN and other Yukoners to come up with a regime that is relevant and sensitive to the needs of all people in the territory.

Hon. Mr. McDonald: Although I spoke on the subject of Bill C-68 and have enjoyed very much the eloquent comments made by many people as recently as this afternoon on the subject, I thought I'd once again, for the record, simply state my support for the amended motion.

Clearly, in this territory there is a culture which believes firearms are used primarily as a tool and not a weapon to inflict damage on one human being from another. It is clear that given our traditions in the north, particularly in Yukon, that some of the more onerous provisions of Bill C-68 are completely inappropriate. The registration of firearms that many members have spoken about is one such onerous and bureaucratic response to a poorly identified problem. It's simply a move by government - in this case the federal Liberal government - to inflict paperwork on the citizenry rather than to deal with the core issues that the community and society faces.

So, I do support the amended motion, of course, and support our Minister of Justice in the efforts she is undertaking to, not only challenge the legislation in court, but also to build a consensus inside the Yukon that can be taken to the national stage to make it clear what our position is with respect to gun control generally and this bill particularly.

So, I thank the mover of the motion and the people who have spoken and believe that the unanimous voice that is heard today from this Legislature will have some impact on national decision-making bodies.

Mrs. Edelman: It will be short.

Once again, I suppose we need to look at Bill C-68 as having four key elements. The first one is minimum sentencing for committing a serious criminal offence with a gun. That went from one year to four years. There are specific new penalties against the smuggling of firearms. There is an increase in the number of prohibited weapons, like military assault weapons, and the extension of the current sidearm registration system, which was to include long guns. There seems to be general agreement across the country on the first three elements, but much disagreement in some rural areas on the need for the registration of long guns.

In addition to the long-gun registration issue, Bill C-68 has some contentious provisions relating to the right of entry by enforcing officers into residences and limitations on the transfer of weapons by deceased people's estates.

The polls show heavy support for the legislation in urban areas, but they also show that the support drops off when people become more aware of the particulars of the bill.

To restate our position on Bill C-68: Senator Lucier, the Liberal senator, voted against C-68 in the Senate. Many, many senators voted for C-68, but here our representative from the Yukon voted against it. Our leader spoke out publicly against long-gun registration. The Member for Riverside wrote to the federal justice committee on two occasions, expressing Yukoners' reservations and voted in favour of the Yukon government motion in the last Legislative Assembly requesting that the legislation be amended to meet northern needs.

Last but not least, the Yukon Liberal Party passed a resolution in October of 1994 to the same effect, with a further resolution in 1995 calling for the Crown attorneys to enforce the minimum sentence more rigorously and to avoid plea bargaining where guns are involved in the commission of crimes.

I support those positions.

Speaker: If the Member speaks, he will of course close debate.

Mr. Phillips: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Where did this all begin? I guess it all began with a very good friend of mine and colleague who raised this motion first in the House - the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin, Johnny Abel. Johnny brought this motion into the House I think in 1992 or 1993, when we first became aware of the provisions of the bill.

I am sure Johnny is looking down on us now, and is pleased with the fact that we've continued the long, hard fight that he began in those days.

I also want to thank Esau Schafer, the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin, after Johnny passed away. His first motion that he brought into this House was this very same motion to support Bill C-68. I'm pleased that all members of the Legislature have seen fit to support this motion from the beginning.

One person that I should mention who I think has been a strong supporter all along, and certainly helped me when I was in Ottawa, and that was Senator Lucier, as mentioned by our Liberal colleague. Although I didn't get much support from other senators, Senator Lucier made his office available to me and was a great support and even helped me lobby a couple of other senators. I thank him for that on behalf of Yukon people.

I made some comments earlier about Sharon Carstairs and the women that were there, and the Minister of Justice made a comment about that. I think the Minister of Justice should look at the context, which I've got a little upset about - the fact that no one wanted to listen to our views. I was speaking primarily at the time about violence against women and children. What upset me is Sharon Carstairs was one of the most vocal people on that committee and chose to ignore those comments that I made about my concerns about violence against women and children, and so did the other senators that were there. The other Liberal senators that were there chose to ignore them and divert attention to other matters and totally ignore our arguments with respect to how this was going to do nothing to stop alcohol and drug abuse and do nothing really to stop crime in the territory. They weren't interested in listening to that. And that was really unfortunate.

I'm satisfied now that I think that we, collectively in this Legislature, have done what we can do to this date. I'd like to suggest to members in this House that although some may be tired of debating this issue, that until changes are made to C-68, we in the Yukon Party will be persistent in trying to bring about change to that federal piece of legislation, whether it be with this Liberal government who, if they are returned to power, will not make any changes, or with future governments.

For Yukoners who are going to be forced in the next couple of years to fill out all these federal documents in registering your guns, I want to leave you with one last thought: you have one more federal document you get to fill out before you have to fill out your registration and licensing one, and that's your federal ballot. And I suggest to Yukoners that are out there that they can send a very clear message to Jean Chretien, Allan Rock and the Liberals who supported Bill C-68 by supporting those parties who will stand up publicly in a public forum in the Yukon and tell Yukoners that they will work and do whatever they can to change and amend the bad provisions in C-68.

Mr. Speaker, again I'd like to thank all the members who have supported this motion, from all the parties in the House, and encourage them, as individuals, to continue the fight. As long as Bill C-68 is in the form that it is now, I think the fight has to be continued.

So I thank all the members for their support on this particular motion.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Are you prepared for the question?

Are you agreed?

Some Hon. Members: Division.


Speaker: Division has been called. Mr. Clerk, please poll the House.

Hon. Mr. McDonald: Agreed.

Hon. Mr. Harding: Agreed.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Agreed.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Agreed.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Agreed.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Agreed.

Mr. McRobb: Agreed.

Mr. Fentie: Agreed.

Mr. Hardy: Agreed.

Mr. Ostashek: Agreed.

Mr. Phillips: Agreed.

Mr. Jenkins: Agreed.

Mr. Cable: Agreed.

Ms. Duncan: Agreed.

Mrs. Edelman: Agreed.

Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 15 yea, nil nay.

Speaker: I declare Motion No. 13, as amended, carried unanimously.

Motion No. 13 agreed to as amended

Motion No. 40

Clerk: Motion No. 40, standing in the name of Mrs. Edelman.

Speaker: It has been moved by the Member for Riverdale South

THAT it is the opinion of this House that:

(1) current legislation in the Yukon does not adequately protect victims of domestic violence;

(2) the government should examine legislative initiatives, recently taken in other Canadian jurisdictions, to assist victims of domestic violence; and

(3) the government should then prepare a comprehensive discussion paper, for use in public consultations in developing new legislation, that will provide a wider range of options in responding to domestic violence.

Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, when speaking with the marchers who protested the verdict of Ralph Klassen, the Minister of Justice, Ms. Moorcroft said , "As a feminist who entered politics to bring a woman's perspective to public decision-making, I have an obligation to share with you my vision of how we can make change to the systems which entrench sexism and do not fully value women.

I appreciate the support the community has given to me to take on this role." Well, here's your chance t

o make change here at home in Yukon. There's no question that domestic violence exists. People are assaulted, women are abused, children die every year in this country because of domestic violence.

Perhaps domestic violence will never disappear in this country, but I would like to think that we can come up with some measures here in the Yukon so that five years, or 10 years from now, things will be better.

I would like to think that we have some measure of control over the future of domestic violence in the Yukon by virtue of the good legislation that we can pass here in this House and I would like to think that, in this House at least, domestic violence will not be tolerated.

Domestic violence is a large, complicated, difficult-to-solve problem. What is so urgent about this particular problem is that it is life threatening.

Now, when Banting and Best discovered insulin they didn't go about it by talking to the community and getting input from special interest groups. No, they used tried and true scientific methodology to find this treatment for diabetes.

Now, with domestic violence, you have a societal disease. The only tried and true methodology for finding a cure or a solution to a societal problem is to go to the people who suffer from the disease and ask them how to solve the problem.

The sad reality is that we all suffer from domestic violence in this country. Our courts are full of abuse cases, our hospitals over and over again treat its victims. Our children learn from their elders and perpetuate the cycle, generation after generation after generation.

In Saskatchewan, the leaders of that province said, "Enough." On February 5, 1995, the Government of Saskatchewan proclaimed the Victims of Domestic Violence Act. This new legislation was the first of its kind in Canada and provided a wider range of options to respond to domestic violence than was already available in the Criminal Code and through the current civil remedy.

Prior to the proclamation of the legislation, the Saskatchewan justice department consulted with 62 agencies involved in responding to domestic violence. These included police, crisis intervention services, family services, aboriginal service delivery agencies, tribal councils, safe shelters, sexual assault centres, immigrant women's organizations, youth centres, organizations representing aboriginal women, disabled persons, agricultural women as well as other provincial and local women, hospitals, inter-church networks and seniors abuse committees, and this was good.

When we can go to Yukoners and ask them how we can stop domestic violence, it is my hope that we can take the Saskatchewan legislation, the Victims of Domestic Violence Act and craft a similar act for the Yukon that will give Yukoners something to respond to as at least one way that we can tackle domestic violence here at home.

In Saskatchewan, the government enacted a comprehensive training strategy to disseminate information about the legislation and its use. The Saskatchewan justice department also provided training for the specially selected justices of the peace and approximately 2,700 police and crisis intervention staff that were trained by teams consisting of a police officer and a family violence specialist.

If we are going to pass effective legislation in this House that deals with domestic violence, we are going to have to prepare to do the same. We must have something to talk about when we go to these very necessary discussion groups in the communities about possible solutions for domestic violence and we must have adequate training and education about this act to make it available and useful to all Yukoners.

Now I am not saying that the Saskatchewan act, the Victims of Domestic Violence Act is the be-all and the end-all of solutions to domestic violence. I'm not saying that at all; it's just that this legislation is better than what we have now.

The true solution to domestic violence will come from the home, from what we pass on to our children about what is and what is not acceptable in our society - what our children truly believe about their value in society - and the deep-down in-your-soul belief that no one deserves to be hit.

The legislation passed in Saskatchewan contains two important improvements over the Yukon legislation. First, the act provides for the immediate safety of the family by way of an emergency intervention order, which starts the family into the family services system earlier.

The second important aspect of this legislation is the fact that emergency intervention orders involve no formal criminal charges being laid.

Historically, victims of family violence have been afraid to lay charges because of possible future repercussions, and in the communities I am told by various people in the field of domestic violence that this fear of laying charges is particularly prevalent. This legislation protects women and children and stops the cycle of violence before it starts.

There were some problems with the Saskatchewan legislation, and I think we can learn from this. We don't have to reinvent the wheel. We have to be aware of what is at the forefront of policy and legislation in the field of domestic violence in Canada. This is a different approach. We may want to adapt it to the needs of Yukoners. We may want to take a completely different approach.

The current legislation in the Yukon does not adequately protect victims of domestic violence. It's time to be proactive on the issue of domestic violence, and it's time to prepare a comprehensive discussion paper for use in public consultations on developing legislation that will provide a wider range of options in responding to domestic violence. The only unfortunate thing is that, for many Yukon victims of domestic violence, the time to deal with this issue so that they might have had better lives was a long, long time ago.

We are here to build good legislation. We are here to set future policies for the Yukon, and we are here to make things better for Yukoners - or, at least, that's why I'm here.

I have a great deal of information about domestic violence in Canada. In 1993, there were 208 female homicide victims, representing about a third of all homicide victims that year. However, women made up almost two-thirds, or 59 percent, of all homicide victims killed in a domestic relationship, while they represented only 22 percent of those killed by an acquaintance and just 12 percent of those killed by a stranger. Plainly, women are being killed by people that know them.

In 1993, three percent of all women who were married or living commonlaw reported that they had experienced wife assault at least once during the 12 months prior to the 1993 violence against women survey. As well, six percent of women in Canada had been sexually assaulted, and three percent had been physically assaulted that year by dates or boyfriends, other known men or strangers.

Women are much more likely than men to feel worried about their personal security. For instance, 42 percent of women aged 15 and older reported that they felt unsafe walking alone in their neighbourhood after dark in 1993, over four times the figure for men, which was only 10 percent.

There are a number of different types of family violence. There is emotional abuse or the undermining of a person's sense of self-worth by constant criticism, belittling, name-calling, silent treatment, subverting the parent-child relationships, making and breaking of promises, and so on. There is psychological abuse, which is the instilling or attempting to instill fear by intimidation, threats to harm the victim or others, threats of kidnapping, harassment and destruction of pets and property.

There is financial exploitation, which is the making or attempting to make financially dependent by maintaining control over all household income, withholding money or access to it, keeping the person from outside activities, such as school, forbidding employment, harassment at the job, or requiring justification for all monies spent.

There is physical assault, which is the inflicting or attempting to inflict physical injury or illness by grabbing, pinching, shoving, slapping, hitting, hair-pulling, biting, arm-twisting, kicking, punching, hitting with objects, stabbing or shooting.

There is physical abuse also, which includes the withholding access to resources to maintain health, which would include medications, medical care, wheelchairs, fluids, sleep, or alcohol or drug use.

There is sexual assault, which is the coerced sexual contact or non-consensual or against a person deemed incapable of consent, which will include marital or date rape, forced sex after beating, beating sexual parts of the body, bestiality, forced prostitution, unprotected sex, fondling, sodomy, sex with others, use of pornography, or undermining a person's sexuality by derogatory treatment, criticism of desirability or unfounded accusations of infidelity.

It's not pretty.

So what are the effects of family violence? All family violence has the potential of severely harming individuals directly or indirectly abused and the nature of the potential harm does not seem to be affected greatly by the family relationship or the type of abuse, as long as the element of power equity is present.

Children who witness parental violence, for example, may be as severely affected as children who are direct victims of physical or sexual assault, and if they are also direct victims of abuse, the effects are additive.

Suicidal and homicidal behaviour are possible in a domino effect type of abuse in which the original target of the violence is powerless to stop violence against themselves or abuse their power over other family members; for example, children or elderly dependents.

In addition to the physical injuries that can occur, psychological damage in the short term is highly likely to some degree. Fear, anxiety, depression, anger and hostility, aggression, lowered self-esteem, social isolation and withdrawal, and other inappropriate or self-destructive behaviour have all been noted. These effects, which are the effects of family violence, may in some individuals be so severe that they are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder - a set of symptoms that often characterize the victims of torture, natural disasters and war. Long term or even lifelong effects can also occur.

Studies of the chronically mentally ill, alcohol and drug abusers, criminals and adult perpetrators and victims of family violence regularly reveal high proportions of individuals who have experienced family violence in earlier years. This has led many professionals to conclude that early experience of family violence inevitably results in long-term damage. However, studies that followed child victims of family violence through to adulthood show that about two-thirds managed to overcome their disadvantages - and there is hope - and carry on to live productive and violence-free lives.

So far, the primary factors identified as protecting victims from long-term damage are extensive social supports, secure attachments and a supportive relationship in adulthood.

But is all family violence criminal behaviour? The short answer is yes, at least potentially. In Canada's Criminal Code, an assault is defined as the application of force directly or indirectly or an attempt to threat or apply force with or without a weapon. The strength of the force applied is immaterial. Assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm or aggravated assault are deemed more serious and carry the potential for longer sentences. Similar definitions exist for levels of sexual assault. Although the term "assault" applies to physical force, "bodily harm" means any hurt or injury that interferes with the health or comfort of the complainant and that is more than merely transient or trifling.

A broad interpretation of "serious bodily harm" has been encouraged by the Supreme Court of Canada to mean any hurt or injury, whether physical or psychological that interferes in any substantial way with the physical or psychological integrity, health or well-being of the client.

With respect to psychological and emotional violence, the Criminal Code was amended in 1993, to strengthen a previous section on uttering threats to the broader concept of criminal harassment. This is the section on stalking in a lot of ways. To be convicted of this crime the prosecution does not have to prove the offender intends to harm the victim in the future, but only that a reasonable person would be afraid, given the circumstances.

Historically, violence within the family was not only considered an internal family matter, but was societally condoned. Even when behaviour was clearly constituted - a crime occurred - society generally conspired with those involved to keep the matter a secret.

In British Columbia, as well as in many jurisdictions in and outside of Canada, major social directives have been issued, requiring, for example, the criminal justice system's personnel lay and follow-up on assault charges if there is reasonable evidence that an assault has occurred, whether or not the victim wishes the charges to be laid.

Child protection policies have been reviewed a number of times, and the new Child Family and Community Service Act and Child Youth and Family Advocacy Act, have been passed.

Despite public awareness of the criminal nature of acts of violence amongst family members, most family - that was in B.C. - violence is not reported to protective agencies, police or social services.

A federal survey on victimization found that only 68 percent of non-sexual assaults and 90 percent of sexual assaults were not reported to police. When asked why a report had not been made, major reasons were given that it was dealt with in another way, or that it was a personal matter, or they didn't want to get involved with the police, or it was too minor. Police couldn't do anything, or there was a fear of revenge, or nothing was taken and the police wouldn't help. This is really where the Saskatchewan legislation is good. This is where it doesn't really matter what excuses you come up with, there is someone else who can lay a complaint for you, that you have protection from that person. There are no criminal charges laid so that you have the opportunity to feel safer and to gain safety for yourself and for your family.

So how common is violence in the family? We do know that estimates of the extended family violence all underestimate reality. Not only is this true with statistics available from the criminal justice system, but it is probably true of major surveys as well, especially for forms of violence in the context of inequality of power and control, where there is shame associated with either being a victim or a perpetrator.

Now in homicide, for obvious reasons, the prevalence of homicide in the family is least likely to be underestimated, although even these statistics may underestimate the numbers of children and elderly killed by family members. In a recent study of family homicides conducted in the B.C. Institute of Family Violence, it was found that between 1984 and early 1992, 148 persons were killed by 124 family members, just under 30 percent of all homicides occurring during that period in and around the lower mainland of B.C.

There is a relationship, in most cases, between the deceased and the perpetrator. In child sexual assault, according to the victimization survey cited earlier, 90 percent of sexual assaults are not reported to police. However, the survey questioned persons aged 15 or older, so that that finding cannot automatically apply to children. We do not know what proportion of child sexual assaults is reported, but we do know that many victims do not even disclose the abuse to other members of their family, and hence we cannot be certain that the extent of under-reporting is large.

Sexual assaults against children account for 38 percent of all sexual assaults reported to police in 1993 in B.C. The level of reporting of sexual assaults to police corresponds to a rate of 0.3 percent of all children in the province. If the estimate of 90 percent of sexual assaults not being reported to police is applicable to children, this would suggest that three percent of all children in the Province of British Columbia were sexually assaulted.

The majority of reports in 1970 - that was 82 percent of alleged level 1 sexual assaults where no weapon was used, nor was there any serious physical injury - there were other sexual assault crimes. One percent related to other crimes, such as break-and-enter or physical assault, but sexual assault was also alleged to have occurred. Seven reports of level 3 aggravated sexual assault were made in six levels of level 2 sexual assault with a weapon occurred in the same time period in 1970.

Since legal matters are time consuming, many cases have not yet been fully processed or the outcome has not been reported to the police services division. And I think that that's the thing: it can take up to six months here in the Yukon to get a peace bond. That's a long time, and even when you get the peace bond, it's not going to stop someone from hitting you. We need to look at other solutions. We need to look at things that make sense, things that are practical.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We're very pleased to have the support of the Liberals on the issue of responding to violence against women and children. I have, personally, a long record of speaking on the issues of violence, and the problem of domestic violence is not a new problem.

As Minister of Justice, Education and the Women's Directorate, I feel privileged to now have the opportunity to initiate government actions to respond to the problem of violence in our society. I have asked all of the departments that I am responsible for to address this issue as a priority, and we have, as well, a number of interdepartmental initiatives that we'll be bringing to the public as they proceed, and that we'll be offering in the community.

Mr. Speaker, every person should have the right to live without violence or the threat of violence, to be safe at home, at work, at school and in the community. The New Democrat policy on freedom from violence recommends, among other things, that a territorial domestic violence act should examine such benefits as making it easier to obtain court orders to remove and bar violent men from the family home.

The Department of Justice, shortly after the election, provided information to the member who has brought this motion forward on the Saskatchewan legislation, as well as legislation in Prince Edward Island that looks at victims of domestic violence. Ms. Edelman and I have corresponded in the last few months on the subject, and I again am very pleased with the offer to work cooperatively toward the implementation of a victims of domestic violence act for the Yukon.

We need to be clear that women and children are most at risk for repeated and systemic violence. The criminal justice system and alternatives to it should restore and support the victim's right to safety and self-determination. The system plays a key role in reaching these goals. As well, offenders should be held accountable for their behaviours.

We encourage the RCMP and the Crown to use Criminal Code provisions to reduce the risk imposed by violent offenders and to increase public safety.

Women in need of protection need immediate access to the courts and, if desired, help in obtaining peace bonds.

Currently, in the Yukon, victims of domestic violence have a variety of options. There are women's shelters available throughout the territory. Our government has committed to providing secure, stable funding to women's shelters on an ongoing basis. There is a process for laying charges against a violent person by going to the RCMP. Peace bonds can be used by women or men to restrict their partners from having contact or being in communication with them. As well, restraining orders can be obtained to prohibit contact. A peace bond or a restraining order is obtained through a court process.

I acknowledge that some people have some concerns with the peace bond process. We hope to work on that in various ways. Some of the concerns though, are that people are reluctant to go to the police and to charge their partners. They are afraid of becoming involved in the justice system. Applying for a peace bond means going to court before a justice of the peace. This could be a rather lengthy process involving the RCMP, the victim services unit, and the federal Crown's office. There has to be a real concern that the other person is seriously threatening to cause bodily harm or property damage. The victim and the accused person appear in court at the same time, which can be somewhat traumatic for the victim. The conditions that can be applied are restricted to areas of no contact and no communication, a firearms prohibition, and keeping the peace and being of good behaviour. There are no provisions for child custody, support payments or occupancy rights. No further actions can be taken unless the defendant breaches the condition of the order.

I agree that there are some gaps in our existing process and that action must be taken to provide a more comprehensive approach to help victims of family violence as early as possible and as safely as possible. We need to add to the safety net to assist victims of family violence to become strong enough to deal with the decisions facing them. The outcome we want is to provide more safety for people, and we have to work together to do this.

The Department of Justice has currently studied the effectiveness of peace bonds and exploring options such as early intervention orders for future action.

We have reviewed the legislation introduced in Saskatchewan.

We support federal initiatives that strengthen the criminal justice system's ability to deal with high risk violent offenders, for example, long term supervision or a protocol on community notification, which is an initiative that has already taken place in a number of Canadian jurisdictions. It is also very important to uphold the victim's right to privacy.

Public education programs directed at preventing and responding to violence against women and children will continue.

Violence is a continuum. It is present in many people's lives and it is present in many women's and children's lives to an extent that we might not like to recognize. It can range from insensitive remarks and disdainful comments to harassment to more violent assaults and death.

Reducing violence and the fear of violence is essential to the fundamental goal of achieving equality for all members of society. Earlier today, I spoke about male-dominated institutions, including the political realm. At a recent political panel, where a number of women spoke about their experience in politics and women from all parties were represented, the subject of safety is something that women who work late at meetings have to bear in mind. The fear of violence, then, is very much a contributing factor to inequalities in our society.

Within the Department of Education, we are helping to reinforce non-violent methods of resolving conflicts, promoting cooperative behaviors toward others, offering professional training and support for teachers in dealing with discipline matters and working toward a non-sexist and equitable education system.

Taking action to reduce violence requires a common definition of the problem. It requires changing our attitudes and it requires educating both children and adults about non-violent conflict resolution. Using resources in classrooms, staff rooms, workplaces, government and in society as a whole can help us to achieve equality.

In recognition of the priority of violence prevention and the provision of victim services, as was announced in this week's budget, the Department of Justice will spend an additional $160,000 for the family violence prevention unit and $80,000 for the victim services unit. These combined expenditures will allow the department to provide more comprehensive services to communities outside of Whitehorse. Specific services to be enhanced are the operations of the victim services unit, the sex offender risk management program, and the outreach services of the family violence prevention unit.

As I indicated in the House on December 6th, 1996, our government intends to establish a crime prevention and victim services trust fund. I expect to table this legislation in the fall session of the present year. The trust will make money available for community-based victim services and crime prevention projects, with an emphasis on funding projects designed to reduce violence against women and children.

The Department of Justice will soon undertake consultations with key groups and First Nations. These groups will include victims' advocates, women's groups, the RCMP, the Crown, the legal community and the Council of Yukon First Nations, as well as all interested members of the public. This funding can be structured to reach a base amount over the next two to four years, allowing the trust to sustain itself over time and make a long-term contribution towards the reduction of family violence by providing funding to crime prevention initiatives for the interest on the principal of the trust.

Another recent initiative I have taken, which illustrates the importance the Department of Justice is placing on domestic violence issues, is reflected in unanimous support given by all ministers of justice across Canada in response to three proposals I tabled for action. These proposals were to review the provisions of the Criminal Code relating to homicide committed in the heat of passion. This is frequently called the provocation defence. The second proposal was to provide some guidance in the Criminal Code, or at least model jury instructions, for cases where a man has killed his partner, where a judge would be required to instruct the jury on gender bias and how they might consider it in their deliberations. The third proposal was to amend the Criminal Code to make previous convictions of stalking, assault, threatening, or any other aggressive act against a partner, such as damaging personal property, killing a pet, or breaking a peace bond, admissible in evidence in a prosecution for murder or manslaughter.

These proposals were a direct result of the concerns expressed in our community. They reflect recommendations that were made by the public. Hundreds of Yukoners endorsed my proposed actions on this matter, and, in fact, corresponded directly with federal Minister of Justice, Allan Rock, on the subject.

I will also continue to actively pursue the transfer of the Crown prosecutors' office for the federal government. Ultimately, when this transfer is completed we will have the ability to ensure the actions taken by criminal prosecutors in the Yukon address local priorities, such as the high levels of family violence.

We will be able to do this by way of general policy instructions, which will be mindful of the need for an independent and fair prosecutions office.

The previous speaker talked about some of the statistics that tell us how serious the problem of violence against women is.

Mr. Speaker, these speakers are not put forward in order to shock; these statistics reflect people that we know, reflect women in our community.

One-half of all Canadian women have experienced at least one incidence of violence since the age of 16. One-quarter of all women have experience violence at the hands of a current or past marital partner, including commonlaw unions. More than one in 10 women who reported violence at the hands of a current husband felt that at some point their lives were in danger. This trend continues and women continue to be killed.

According to a 1995 Canadian Centre on Justice statistics report on homicide in Canada, in 1995, six out of 10 spousal homicides involved a history of domestic violence known to the police. Women were the victims in 77 percent of spousal homicides in 1995.

From 1985 to 1994, there was an average of 110 victims killed by a spouse each year, with women representing more than three-quarters of these victims.

These statistics give evidence of the importance of continuing to take action to protect victims of domestic violence.

There have been many, many studies done in the area of domestic violence. Statistics are compiled on the level of domestic violence in our society. The federal Advisory Council on the Status of Women, federal government departments, provincial government departments have done studies.

There have been studies on gender and equities in the law and in the justice system.

I don't believe that there is a need for a white paper. I do agree that there is a need for changes to be made here in the Yukon, and a need to build good legislation in the Yukon.

I would like to bring forward an amendment to Motion No. 40 as moved by the Member for Riverdale South, to speak to the concern I just mentioned on a comprehensive discussion paper.

Amendment proposed

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I move

THAT Motion No. 40 be amended by deleting paragraph (3) and substituting for it the following:

"(3) the government should then provide draft legislation responding to violence against women and children to victim advocates, the RCMP, the Crown, First Nations, women's groups, the legal community and interested members of the public in order to ensure Yukon legislation addresses community needs."

Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice:

THAT Motion No. 40 be amended by deleting paragraph (3) and substituting for it the following:

"(3) the government should then provide draft legislation responding to violence against women and children to victim advocates, the RCMP, the Crown, First Nations, women's groups, the legal community and interested members of the public in order to ensure Yukon legislation addresses community needs."

Is there debate on the amendment?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Public consultation is integral to effective public policy development and service to the public. It is our government's commitment to provide the public time to review issues and to present their opinions. I would argue that on the subject of violence against women there has been a considerable demonstration of public will in responding to this issue. Our government has already, in the few short months that we have been in office, been asked to analyze the Saskatchewan legislation, which the mover of the motion has spoken to, as well as other legislation across Canada. We agree that the emergency response orders, which are a key provision in the Saskatchewan legislation, could be an effective measure to respond to violence against women and children.

As I wrote to the Member for Riverdale South in February, when I provided her with a copy of the evaluation done in Saskatchewan, I am happy to work cooperatively with all parties toward the implementation of a victims of domestic violence act in the Yukon and other legislation that would be effective in meeting community concerns. This amendment before us provides that we would take specific proposals to the public and request comment from them, and I encourage all members to support this amendment as a friendly amendment and look forward to the work ahead of us in the future, not just on this legislation, but in many other ways of responding to the problem of violence against women in our society.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Phillips: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. First of all, I would like to commend the Member for Riverdale South for bringing this motion forward and addressing this issue -

Speaker: Order. Just a point. This is on the amendment.

Mr. Phillips: Yes, Mr. Speaker. I would just like to get to that in a moment, but I am pleased that we have the motion here to deal with this as an issue. I can support the amendment that's been put forward by the Minister of Justice if the intent is to more or less get on with the job, and that is what I think we should be doing. A couple of years ago, we hosted a family violence prevention conference, where dozens and dozens of Yukoners met and submitted their ideas and suggestions. We have new ideas and suggestions coming forward now from other jurisdictions of what they're doing and how they're dealing with it with respect to an act. My sense is that we probably have most of the information that we need now to put some draft legislation together. If the intent is to get on with it, put the legislation together, go back out to the public and let them have a look at it and make suggestions of improvements, then we on this side in the Yukon Party are in full support of the motion and the amendment to the motion, which, in fact, the way I see it, would speed up the process a bit from the suggestion of extensive consultations.

I think there has been a lot of extensive consultations. There is a lot that we know now, and it is just a matter of putting it together and coming back with a draft proposal or draft act, and fine tuning it and getting something in place sooner than later. We would strongly support that.

I would ask the government, when its putting its legislation together, to seriously consider the information that it gathered during the family violence prevention conference that was here, as the talking about crime and creating safer communities initiative where we went around the territory.

As well as the talking about crime and creating safer communities initiative, where we went around the territory, I know family violence was high on the agenda at those conferences and that they utilized some of the recommendations and the information they heard from that as well. And, as well, some of the initiatives that the justice minister has taken with other justice ministers in the recent meetings, and combining with all of that and the suggestions from the Member for Riverdale South with respect to other jurisdictions and their acts, I think we've got all the information we need to put together a comprehensive piece of legislation that would go a long ways to preventing or putting a stop to violence against women.

It is something, like I said earlier in an earlier motion today, that having been brought up the way I was with my parents here in the Yukon, I didn't even really realize that it existed, and now I have a much broader knowledge of this subject and realize that even some people that I knew or had as friends at one time or another have been involved in this kind of abuse. It's a sad thing about our society, but it is there and it is something we have to deal with, and I think that putting an act together and dealing with it in that manner will go a long way to help alleviate or reduce the amount of family violence that there is in our society. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mrs. Edelman: It's good to hear. We're working well together here. That makes sense.

I have no problem with the amendment, mainly because the issue of family violence, as the two previous speakers were saying, is an extremely well known issue. We know about it. Now, if it was something like midwifery, which is a brand new profession and which has a very difficult position in our health care system, I might have some problems with it. And generally speaking, I know that typically the NDP approach is consultation first, but I think there has been a great deal of consultation on this issue and I have no problem with it. Let's just go ahead, full steam ahead. That's great.

Speaker: Is there further debate on the amendment?

Mr. Cable: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am speaking to the amendment. I think part of behaviour modification and the reduction of violence, of course, is getting people talking about violence. It's surprising, when people talk about things, how they go away. The family violence prevention unit has an interesting video, which I would commend to the members for viewing. It goes over the situations that several women found themselves in with abusive husbands and the terror of spousal abuse which eventually led to the homicide of the husband. And it shows what happens when society does not adequately protect its weaker members. When the established structure of society cannot be looked to for protection in life-threatening situations, then the results are predictable. Homicides will happen. On occasion, it will be the abuser who will kill and on occasion it will be the victim of the abuse who will kill.

Now, there is no law, Mr. Speaker, that will protect people from the mentally ill. There is no law that will protect a victimized spouse against the actions of an abuser's spouse consumed with anger and a need to control someone who has crossed the line into mental illness. Here we need programs that will encourage victims to come forward early on in an abusive relationship for their own protection and before the negative behaviour becomes ingrained and obsessive.

Having said that, this legislation that is in place in Saskatchewan has, in my view, many positive attributes and needs our review. Whether the review takes place as suggested by the mover of the motion or as suggested by the amendment brought forward, I think we can live with either approach, but it is important that the public have some input. It is important that this be talked about. It's not just a matter for us here in this Legislature to be talking back and forth. We need to talk to the people and the people need to talk to the people.

Peace bonds can criminalize the offender and build resentment. The Saskatchewan legislation, in my view, opens the door for an initial minimum response approach to behaviour modification, and it does not certainly close the door to the more rigorous approaches of the Criminal Code. While there is no guarantee of success, it is a useful addition to the response options open to both the victim and society in dealing with the abuse of spouses.

So I have no problem with supporting the amendment if there's some commitment from the minister that she will, in some way, deal with public education at the time that the draft bill is put out for discussion in the public.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Is there further debate on the amendment? Are you prepared for the question on the amendment?

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Speaker: Question has been called. Are you agreed?

Some Hon. Members: Agreed.

Speaker: I think the yeas have it. I declare the amendment carried.

Amendment to Motion No. 40 agreed to

Speaker: Is there further debate on the motion?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I would just speak in support of the amended motion, and I won't go through the rather sad litany of statistics that we have before us. We know the degree of the problem, and we know that figures can't always tell the story. They can't tell the story of people who live in terror, of children who live in terror. They can't tell the story of individuals whose lives have been disrupted, whose quality of life has been so diminished by the threat of violence than the actual violence itself. So I won't try to reiterate many of the things that have already been said.

What I would like to do, however, is just sort of make a couple of references to some things that I would like to commend my colleague, the Minister of Justice, on.

First of all is the issue of the inclusion of the extra funding for the family violence protection unit, and as well $80,000 for the victim service unit.

One of my constituents talked to me at great length both during the by-election last year and during the general election about the impact of being a victim of violence. She spoke in a very eloquent way. In this case, it had been the loss of a father. She spoke to me about the kind of impact, the kind of loss that occurs in one's life, the kind of sense of closure that a person can't have - in the normal cycle of life, when one loses a parent or one loses a loved one, the idea of the preparation, being able to deal with some of that loss, that anguish - she spoke about the impact of a sudden loss through senseless violence, and she talked to me about some of the issues surrounding victim services.

And I'm extremely pleased to see that my colleague has brought this forward as a key issue, and I think that it will provide a tremendous service to people in the territory.

I was interested yesterday when the Member for Riverside brought forward his motion on the question of trying to provide greater gender and racial balance on judicial councils. I think that is something that we have not really addressed yet in this country. Certainly former Justice Bertha Wilson made some, I think, extremely valuable comments on the role of women in the law and the role of women on the judiciary. I am very hopeful, given the comments of my colleague from Riverside, that this is a direction that we will also continue to pursue.

My colleague, the Minister of Justice, I think took one very bold step in that regard with the appointment of a female judge. I think our courts have to represent the people that they serve. I think our courts have to reflect what society is truly like. I am hopeful that the idea of trying to get a greater balance, both in ethnic terms and gender terms, on the Judicial Council will lead to a more inclusive, more sensitive, court to some of the issues surrounding women and the question of violence - particularly domestic violence. I am very hopeful. I think it is a very positive step and I commend the Member for Riverside on that as well as I commend my colleague the Minister of Justice on some of her fairly bold initiatives.

I would just like to say in closing that I think this is an issue that we all have to take seriously. This is not just a women's issue; this is an issue of society. This is an issue of children. This is an issue of our future and I support the amendment.

Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, I think there are a number of points that need to be made in this House this afternoon, and I'd like to begin by noting that it's our duty, as I see it, as legislators, to bring forward ideas on behalf of our communities and to present good ideas, well thought out, well-researched ideas to this Legislature. I believe my colleague has done that, and I commend her on her research efforts, and the minister opposite for her amendment as well, which indicates her good faith and support for this essentially good idea.

Good ideas are not the sole property of one party or one individual. They are our collective work.

There's one element in this debate that may have perhaps gone unrecognized, and that is the children witnessing parental violence. It's been estimated that the children of at least half the women assaulted by male partners have witnessed an assault. It is suspected that most, if not all, children in a home where there is violence would be aware of the fact, even if the adults present thought otherwise. Sometimes silent, sometimes small bystanders, this has a huge impact upon their future lives.

I'd also like to note that this interest in spousal assault - specifically violence against women - has grown in the last decade, and it is something we have, as a society, as the Member for Riverdale North has pointed out, become aware of. We have opened our eyes.

I'd like to also note that the rates for assault are highest among the poor, among women with disabilities, women living commonlaw - a common practice in the Yukon - and among women age 25 to 34. The young and the children, and therefore their future, are being affected by this.

I would like to close my remarks, having reminded members of those points, by noting my strong support for this effort and this initiative to deal with a Yukon-wide issue.

Speaker: Are you prepared for the question?

Motion No. 40 agreed to as amended

Hon. Mr. Harding: I would request the unanimous consent of the House to waive the notice provisions of Standing Order No. 27(1) in order to allow the House to debate committee report Motion No. 1 respecting concurrence in the first report of the Standing Committee on Rules, Regulations and Privileges. I gave notice of this motion earlier today.

I would also request unanimous consent to waive the same Standing Order in order to debate Motion No. 38, respecting the appointment of the Ombudsman, standing in the name of the Government Leader on today's notice paper.

Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?

Some Hon. Members: Agreed.

Speaker: Unanimous consent has been granted.

Speaker: Does the House wish the Chair to see the clock as having reached 5:30 p.m.?

Some Hon. Members: Agreed.

Speaker: The time being 5:30 p.m., the Speaker will now leave the Chair until 7:30 p.m. tonight.


Speaker: I will now call the House to order.

Motions respecting committee reports.


Committee Report Motion No. 1

Clerk: Committee report Motion No. 1, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Harding.

Speaker: It is moved by the Chair of the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges

THAT the first report of the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges presented to the House on March 26, 1997, be concurred in, and that the amendments recommended in that report to the Standing Orders of the Yukon Legislative Assembly be adopted.

Hon. Mr. Harding: I won't be long. I would like to thank the members of the SCREP for their cooperation in terms of developing this report that does a number of things, including the changing of Standing Orders to reflect the ability of Cabinet commissioners to respond to questions of policy in Question Period, and give statements on behalf of the work they're doing, as well as responding, in Committee of the Whole, to questions of policy development.

Mr. Speaker, I also would like to thank the committee for considering changes, or at least some serious reflection on how we, in the House, refer to other members and to members of the public, in terms of being gender inclusive, in terms of using non-sexist, non-violent language.

Mr. Speaker, with regard to the specifics, I commend the report and the change in the Standing Orders to allow for a more open and democratic process. We have charged the commissioners, private members of this Legislature, with significant political tasks. We have asked them to develop policy in four keys areas of forestry, energy, development assessment process, as well as local hire, Yukon hire issues and policies.

These were major priorities in the election campaign for us. They were given these tasks. They had been funded with charge backs to ECO, as well as utilization of the existing staff in departments like Economic Development. When I came into Economic Development I met with my energy branch. I met with the people doing forestry work and it was quickly apparent to me that these people should be put to work in a very cohesive fashion and that's what the commissions are entitled to do. The commissioner is the political point person for the project. I believe that an integral part of doing this important task for our government, for the public agenda, is them being able to respond to inform the public and other legislators as to the work they're undertaking in key policy areas.

It has been said by some members of the Opposition that this would be a stalling tactic or could be used to put off the ultimate responsibility to the ministers. The commissioners are without a doubt entrusted with carrying out a significant part of this government's agenda. The government as a whole is accountable for the actions that they take, as well as the fact that the ministers on the budgetary issues will be responsible for their departments. So, we believe that the principles of accountability are well respected.

With regard to issues that they have raised, the conflicts commissioner has satisfied my mind, certainly to the issues that have been raised in terms of conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest, any questions of secrecy, any questions as to remuneration. These members are not paid accordingly as ministers because they are not considered to be absolutely full time, and they are the policy recommenders to Cabinet; they are not the final decision-making authority.

Their advice is given very strong weight as a result of the work they do, but they are not the final decision makers in the process. That still rests with Cabinet, so we feel very strongly that this is an integral part of them being able to perform their duties on the public's behalf and carrying out that public part of our agenda.

The other part to the standing committee report referred to language. They referred to a review of the Standing Orders with regard to the debate on Opposition days in this House. We reached an agreement - I believe there is one dissenting party, and it was difficult with the numbers 3:3 in the Opposition - that the Official Opposition should have the advantage of the first two motions, followed by the Liberals with the second two, and then on a 1:1:1 split each sitting.

There was considerable debate about this. Many members feel that the Official Opposition does deserve certain advantages, and we modelled this essentially after the Question Period order. I think that all members on SCREP agreed that, if things were to change in some other election or in a by-election, we would have to fairly quickly revisit this principle because, for example, if the Official Opposition presently was to win a by-election that would give them four members, and clearly that would eliminate any argument that the situation right now is tenable. I think that, certainly, there is that commitment on our behalf and I think that should be extended to all legislators, whether you are in Opposition or in government, that the respect for the Official Opposition in terms of their standing should be maintained. They need to have, because they are the alternative government or presenting alternative views, significant obligations upon them to present that alternative point of view. Thus, they need more resources. They should be able to present their agenda first, and those kinds of things.

I would just commend this to the House and would hope that I have all members' support when we vote on it. Thank you.

Mr. Ostashek: Well, thank you, Mr. Speaker. I sincerely wish we could accommodate the member opposite in supporting this motion, but we can't, and we won't. I am going to take a few minutes to lay out our reasons and rationale as to why we will not support this motion.

I will start first of all with the commissions. We've been accused of wanting to muzzle people speaking in this House. That simply is not the case, but what we want to do in a limited time that we have in this Legislature is conduct the business that is before us. If we are going to be having backbenchers giving ministerial statements, taking up the time of the Legislature, answering questions in Question Period when even the conflicts commissioner says they have no responsibility. They are basically a messenger between the commission and the Cabinet. It is laudable that the Government Leader wants to put these people to work, and it's good to see him do it, but it need not be carried this far. The ministers are ultimately responsible for what happens in their department, right down to policy development.

And they ought not to be able to shirk off that responsibility to an MLA and have him or her stand up in this Legislature and answer on their behalf. That is just not acceptable. It's not the democratic system, and it just simply does not work. I received a copy of the letter that Mr. Hughes wrote back and said there was no conflict because there was no authority. If there's no authority, why are they given ministerial sanction to make statements in this Legislature? That's a minister's responsibility. Why are they allowed to answer questions in Question Period when they have no budget that they're responsible for - no department that they're responsible for? That's a ministerial responsibility. It doesn't mean they can't carry out the work that the Government Leader wants them to do. Certainly, they can carry out the work. But ultimately, it's the six ministers over there - if this is a six-minister Cabinet - that have the responsibility to answer the questions of the Opposition in this Legislature. And I'm terrified of where we're going with this. I'm terrified of where we're going with this, if this is passed in this Legislature, and we know the government's going to use its majority to do it, so it's no use carrying on forever trying to stall it. But I'm going on the public record that I'm totally against this move. It just doesn't make sense to me. I don't see how it will streamline the business in the House. I see it further complicating the business in the House. And I do see members on this side asking a minister a question and him bouncing it off to the commissioner. That's not right. The minister is responsible for that department, and it's his responsibility to answer on behalf of the department. There is no other way.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Ostashek: The better way, all right. The member opposite might think so, but there are many Yukoners that don't.

Mr. Speaker, we agreed to change many things in this Legislature with consensus agreements. We reached an agreement on sitting days. We shortened Question Period. All based on a six-member Cabinet. Nobody said we were going to have 10 people over there answering questions.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we aren't going to be able to stop this motion from going through, but I'm going to go on the record now and let the members opposite know that this caucus will not adhere to the 35 sitting days in the spring session or the 25 in the fall session with the new arrangement in the Legislature without full consensus being reached.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Ostashek: You hear the Government Leader yipping from the seat there but they broke the agreement in the first session. They broke the agreement in the first session, and they have been trying hard to get us to sign another one in the back room since then, and we won't. And, Mr. Speaker, they are abusing this Legislature, and they are using their majority to do it. But that is exactly the message they are giving to the Yukon public, too: "We are going to do it, because we've got a majority. Because we've got a majority, we are going to do it, and we don't care what you think or you say."

It is not right, and I will not accept it.

On the question of Opposition privileges, I have some difficulty with that as well.

I believe there ought to be more to the Official Opposition than just a parking spot, especially one you can't get into because someone else is always in it.

I believe we were named Official Opposition in this Legislature. I was not happy with what the Question Period was. That was a trial for the first sitting and I spoke to the Clerk of the Legislature about it afterwards. The motions were brought up in the SCREP committee. I thought Question Period was going to be brought up too. It was my mistake; I should have followed up closer on it.

I believe that there should be more questions for the Official Opposition and more motions for the Official Opposition, and if we watch what's happening with Question Period now we're getting equal questions.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Ostashek: Yeah, pack the thing, split it up. We're not happy with that either and quite clearly if we were to win the Old Crow riding we will be coming back very quickly to SCREP. I'm not so certain that we won't be coming back even without winning the Old Crow riding, because I do believe that as the Official Opposition there has to be some extra benefits in it.

Mr. Speaker, I'm very disappointed in the government's actions to date, especially in this issue with the Government Leader pushing and trying to get some headline space for his commissioners and trying to get them acceptable. I don't think that was necessary. I think that his backbenchers could have done a lot of valuable policy development work for them and the ministers should be quite competent and capable of answering for that policy development work in this Legislature, without having to have the commissioner doing it for them.

I would hope - as I know the government is going to put this motion through anyhow - that they don't abuse that privilege in this Legislature, because I can see a great abuse of it coming in the near future.

Mr. Cable: I am rather disappointed that we haven't listened to the previous speaker's clearly crafted speech when he decided upon the Official Opposition. He was clearly trying to recognize that there were three people in the Liberal Party and three people in the Yukon Party and he was trying to strike some balance, some quid pro quos and that is why he went to the Question Period rotation.

I should draw it to everyone's attention that the lead off in Question Period is always recognized as a very valuable tool to the Official Opposition and they have that. The lead off of debate in reply to the Speeches from the Throne and in the budgets and in all the departmental budgets is a very valuable tool to the Official Opposition. There is a lead off in motions. The way we have set it up the first two motions go to the Official Opposition and of course in a short session as we will probably have in the legislative session, that may mean we may wind up with nothing. So, I think there is substantial advantage given to the Official Opposition outside of the very substantial financial advantages, so I think this is a very fair trade-off.

I think we are going to support the motion and we support the report as presented, but we would like to reiterate our position on the commissions. We recognize the government's authority to experiment with the way it does business. We have no trouble with that. We, on our behalf, maintain our right to criticize if the experiments don't work. We're not prepared to reject the commission approach out of hand, although we have some growing reservations on time lines and costs, and we have some reservations about whether the commissions are moving out of policy and perhaps into operations.

We are of the view that if the commissioners have substantial cross-departmental powers to coordinate people and to coordinate and generate policy, then they are the ones that we want to ask the questions of and we feel that they are the appropriate people to answer them, in theory anyway.

The policy questions in the areas that the commissioners have been charged with could be most efficiently dealt with by the commissioners and we are keeping our fingers crossed that the government will act in good faith and will not do some Charlie McCarthy-Edgar Bergen act on us and bounce around because they are the people who are the accountable people.

The quid pro quo, what the government is suggesting, is that these commissioners will bind the government on their policy statements, and we hope that we will not be faced with the situation where we get an answer on a policy question and find out that the commissioners are being undermined and being told that they are not giving the proper policy answers. So, the minister, when he replies, hopefully, will clear this up so we have that clearly on the record.

Speaker: The Government House Leader, should he speak next, will close debate on this motion.

Mr. Jenkins: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon this House demonstrated a spirit of cooperation that I thought was what we were elected here for. When I start looking at what is being advanced by the government, with these commissions - and I take specific aim at these commissions and their involvement in the day-to-day operations of the government - I recognize it is an experiment. I recognize it will probably be a very costly experiment and one that I cannot support.

As I understand the role of government, we are here to provide the best level of service that we possibly can at the lowest possible cost to the end user. That is the population of Yukon. We manage to make simple things the most convoluted through this legislative process that we possibly can.

Let's just focus in on one of these commissions, Mr. Speaker. Let's focus in on this Energy Commission. Right now, we have seven groups involved in the rate-making process. We have the Yukon Energy Corporation/Yukon Development Corporation; we have Yukon Electrical; we have the Department of Economic Development; we have the Yukon Utilities Board; we have the Yukon Cabinet, we have a multitude of outside consultants and we have the major consumers. Now we are adding the Energy Commission. This is for an operation that sells one product and has a virtual monopoly. How silly can we become, and how much cost do you feel we can add to the consumers to justify our existence?

I'm sure the next area that the government of the day is going to explore is how to pay these Cabinet - or these commissioners - probably soon to be called Cabinet commissioners ...

Speaker: Order. I would like the member to speak to the motion, please.

Mr. Jenkins: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. That is exactly what I am doing.

What we are looking at is the cost that we are going to incur with these commissions and with these other areas. This costly experiment is going to come back to haunt this House.

Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, Mr. Speaker, I had expected the second speaker from the Official Opposition, but I want to begin by saying that there were comments made by the Official Opposition that we rammed this home somehow by using our majority, when the fact is that we have the support of two of the parties in this House. So, how is that using the majority? Fourteen out of 17 members in this House have indicated support for this change. Somehow, the NDP is using their big majority. That is pure folly on the part of the Official Opposition, and they have to get it wrapped around their heads that not everybody in this House is going to oppose everything that the government does or everything that a third party does.

Mr. Speaker, I know that the former Government Leader is terrified about these commissions, because what this opposition to the commissions is all about is that we have very qualified, competent politicians as private members, who are going to actually be out there, consulting with the public, building consensus in the public, taking on tough public issues; yes, getting criticized, but also getting profile, and the Government Leader has helped some of them already.

Mr. Speaker, that is what this is all about. I have full confidence that the commissioners are going to do their job. They are going to be more open and more accountable and more democratic than any other system we have seen in this Legislature. How many times have you heard it said that people wish that private members could do more or would do more or would speak up or get to show their constituents and others what they have to offer the Yukon public?

The member from Dawson talks about, "Isn't this all about providing service to Yukoners?" Well, exactly, that is precisely why we have structured it this way, because we want them to provide service.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Harding: The member from Dawson says, "At what cost?" At no extra cost, Mr. Speaker. The Official Opposition has conveniently ignored the fact that when I came into my Department of Economic Development, I found two whole branches - one for energy and one for forestry - going in no cohesive fashion. What, in the election campaign, were the issues that we heard over and over again? Energy. Forestry. Local hire. Development assessment process. "What are you guys doing? What is the government doing about them." Well, the answer was nothing. Precisely nothing. They were laying flat on their faces. They were dormant. They were forgotten about by the Yukon Party.

Take forestry, for example. What happened in the election campaign? The Government Leader flew into Watson Lake - big announcement. "We know this has been going on for two years, folks. We know people in Watson Lake have been out of work, but here's how we're going to solve it. I know I have a branch in Economic Development...", but, Mr. Speaker, he said that they couldn't get the job done. "We know we have some people in Renewable Resources." The Government Leader, at that time, said they couldn't get the job done. "So, what will we do? We'll fly in a mediator from America to solve all of our problems."

So, Mr. Speaker, what we're trying to do is put some accountability to the development of these key, critical, important areas for Yukoners, so when you see the energy commissioner or when you see the commissioner for local hire under fire, or consulting with the public, they're doing a job. They're the political point person - they're the accountability. They're accountable for making policy recommendations to this government for the Cabinet to decide upon. And as I said - and I freely admit - considerable weight will be given to their recommendations, because we're confident there's accountability built in within our system to ensure that they're doing the appropriate job.

What we want to do is create an open, accountable system where everybody in our government is accountable. For our department, we will respond, but in these key, specific policy areas, we want the commissioners to be able to tell the Yukon public and tell other legislators what action. We were criticized today, as a matter of fact, for not doing enough on forestry. Well, that is completely incorrect, and I want the commissioner to be able to stand up and say, "This is how we're dealing with this big forestry issue. This is the kind of thing that we're doing." It's going to be good for the Yukon public. If the members don't want to, as they put it, take up more time, they don't have to ask those questions. It's entirely up to them. The ball's in their court. Now, they said they were not going to respect the 35-day agreement they signed on to. Well, I'll tell the members opposite I asked them if they wanted to modify that agreement any more from the 35 days a couple of months ago. They said, "No, 35 days is plenty." Now they're changing their tune. There are Cabinets in this country with 15 or 20 members, 25, who sit less than we do.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, the Member says, "He didn't think about that when we were in Opposition." He was also whining about the length of Question Period. We're the ones in Opposition who agreed to 30-minute Question Periods.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Harding: Yeah, it was some grand scheme. We knew we were going to win the election. We had the crystal ball there, and we knew it was in the bag. I mean, how ridiculous.

Mr. Speaker, on all of the points raised by the members opposite in the Official Opposition, they have no argument. That of using our majority is completely false; we have the support of two-thirds of this House. On the fact that it's going to take longer, it's entirely up to them how long the session's going to take, but I will say that they agreed to a 35-day session, so we will be working within the parameters of the agreement that was signed by all parties. They can pound their chest all they want about it not being 35 days, but that's what they signed.

With regard to costs, I'll say it again, it's not costing the government any more money to run the commissions. They are using existing resources. We've done charge backs to ECO and, Mr. Speaker, we have people who are working in government anyway, working on commissions. Clearly, we have delivered on that part of the commitment with the commissions as well.

The Liberal Party raised the concern about the commissioners binding the government. Certainly, they will bind the government politically in the sense that I am sure the members opposite will hold them accountable for comments they make in the media, in the public, That can be reflected on the floor of this Legislature. Where the line is drawn is that they are not ultimately defining what Cabinet decisions will be. They'll be recommending to Cabinet. That's the distinction.

So, politically, and in the public's mind, they're going to be accountable as they have been. You've already seen the Official Opposition say that one of the commissioners should resign, so obviously they must feel, if a resignation is warranted, there must be some accountability at that level. Obviously, if they feel that the buck stops on that issue, with that commissioner, to the point that they should resign, they obviously feel there's a chain of accountability there, it's already been established.

So, Mr. Speaker, I'm sure the Opposition will bind the commissioners to their words; they will bind them to this government, and I welcome them to do that. However, the decision will be made at the Cabinet table. That is why there is no conflict of interest with them performing these roles as the conflicts commissioner alluded to me.

Mr. Speaker, the Energy Commission was raised by the Member for Klondike. Now, the Energy Commission is not paid for by ratepayers and they won't be involved in rate setting; they're not the Utilities Board, they're the Energy Commission. The member alluded to seven bodies. Well, before the Energy Commission there were six. They hadn't been able to develop a comprehensive energy policy for eons. So the Energy Commission is trying to fix a wrong that we have, a glaring error that we have, an omission in this territory. That's what their role will be.

So if six doesn't work and seven, it doesn't cost the taxpayer anything extra with a political point person in charge. It makes a heck of a lot of sense to me and it makes a lot of sense to Yukoners.

The members opposite say that there are so many Yukoners concerned about this. Mr. Speaker, we do not hear it. I certainly do not hear it in my constituency. I did not hear one word of it in Watson Lake, other than that they were really pleased that somebody was in charge of bringing this policy to bear so that it would bring a responsible policy to the Yukon and bear fruit and create some jobs.

I am sure that the conservative ranks are frothing at the mouth over this one - giving these people a chance to participate and be open and be democratic and speak to the public. Mr. Speaker, when the product is delivered, all of that stuff will fall away.

In summation, I just say that I welcome the commissioners being able to be an even more active and more accountable part of this Legislature. I look forward to them giving the information to the members opposite on the issues they have an interest in. When they want questions answered about what we're doing in these specific areas, we would be happy to give that to them.

The media and the public will find that they will be quite pleased with the product and with the results. I commend the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges' report - their first report - to this Legislature, and I commend the changes to these Standing Orders.

Speaker: Are you prepared for the question?

Some Hon. Members: Division.


Speaker: Division has been called. Mr. Clerk, will you please poll the House.

Hon. Mr. McDonald: Agreed.

Hon. Mr. Harding: Agreed.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Agreed.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Agreed.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Agreed.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Agreed.

Mr. McRobb: Agreed.

Mr. Fentie: Agreed.

Mr. Hardy: Agreed.

Mr. Ostashek: Disagreed.

Mr. Phillips: Disagreed.

Mr. Jenkins: Disagreed.

Mr. Cable: Agreed.

Ms. Duncan: Agreed.

Mrs. Edelman: Agreed.

Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 12 yea, three nay.

Chair: I declare the motion carried.

Committee Report Motion No. 1 agreed to

Speaker's ruling

Motion No. 36 dropped from Order Paper

Speaker: The Chair wishes to draw to the attention of the House the wording of Motion No. 36 standing on the Order Paper in the name of the Government House Leader. The wording of that motion is identical to the wording found on the first report of the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges with reference to adding new Standing Orders regarding Cabinet Commissioners. The House has just adopted Committee Report Motion No. 1, concurring in the first report of the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges.

As a result, all of the new Standing Orders set out in Motion No. 36 have been adopted.

Because the House has now reached a decision on the content of Motion No. 36, the Chair must order that Motion No. 36 be dropped from the Order Paper.

Motion No. 38

Clerk: Motion No. 38, standing in the name of the Honourable Mr. McDonald.

Speaker: It is moved by the Hon. Government Leader

THAT the Yukon Legislative Assembly, pursuant to section 2 of the Ombudsman Act, recommends that the Commission in Executive Council appoint Hendrik K. Moorlag as the ombudsman of Yukon for a term of five years commencing April 8th, 1997.

Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am pleased to be moving this motion recommending the appointment of Hank Moorlag as Yukon's next ombudsman. Even though I was only peripherally involved in the selection myself, I would like to explain to members and, for the record, the circumstances which led to the need for this appointment and to provide some information on the process which led to the recruitment of Mr. Moorlag.

Members will be aware that the Alberta ombudsman, Harley Johnson, served the Yukon as its first ombudsman. Mr. Johnson's services were obtained in a contractual arrangement between our Assembly and the Alberta Legislative Assembly, and it was always intended and it was clearly expressed at the time that Mr. Johnson would serve only until March 31st, 1997, and that his primary responsibility would be to get the offices of the ombudsman and the information and privacy commissioner up and running.

I am confident, as I am sure all members are, that he has done that and he has done it very, very well.

It has always been my position and it has been the position of members on both sides of the House, I believe both before the last election and after, that the recruitment of Mr. Johnson's successor should be done through a process which involved all the caucuses in the House. The Members Services Board, which is chaired by Mr. Speaker, has on it, besides me, the Leader of the Official Opposition, the Leader of the third party and the Government House Leader. This board was the most obvious forum to address this matter. It met on January 6th, 1997 and decided, on the recommendation of Harley Johnson, that the position of ombudsman be a half-time position. It also agreed to establish a subcommittee to undertake the recruitment of an ombudsman. The subcommittee was to be comprised of one member from each caucus. The three members of the subcommittee, for members' information, were the Minister of Health and Social Services, the Leader of the Official Opposition and the Member for Porter Creek South.

I do have some information from a news release that they issued, which explains the recruitment process and explains how the recommendation was ultimately made. I will just quote from the news release: "The subcommittee placed advertisements inviting applications in local newspapers from January 31st to February 14th. Mr. Jean Bessier, Yukon's former Public Service Commissioner, assisted the subcommittee in shortlisting the 48 applicants, and interviews and the selection took place during the dates of February 22nd to 28th. Harley Johnson sat in on the interviews to provide the sub-committee advice on the technical competence of the applicants. The sub-committee was very pleased with the overall quality of applications and expressed its appreciation for the assistance provided by Jean Bessier and Harley Johnson.

So, I would like to express sincere thanks, Mr. Speaker, to all the subcommittee members for the work they've done and for the particular importance that was placed on ensuring a clean, transparent and fair competition. It is vital that this position, which is that of an officer of this Assembly, should be filled through a process that is, both in fact and in perception, above board and above partisan interests, and I believe that the sub-committee met those goals as completely as any of us could have wished, and they should have our appreciation for that.

Now, having addressed the process of how this sub-committee recruited and made the recommendation that Mr. Moorlag be the ombudsman, I will just tell you a little bit about Mr. Moorlag himself. He has been employed for the past two years as the director of safety and security for Anvil Range Mining Corporation in Faro. Prior to that, he served with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for 31 years, including three years from 1992 to 1995 with M Division, where he was the criminal operations officer and second in charge. Now, I understand his personal interests include fly fishing and photography. This may go some distance to explain why he wishes, in his retirement, to consider such a position and stay with us here in the Yukon.

I am sure all members will join with me in congratulating Mr. Moorlag on his selection by the committee and would join with me now in the Legislature to support his appointment formally as the ombudsman and wish him well in his endeavors.

Thank you.

Mr. Ostashek: I guess I rise tonight on one of the more pleasant tasks we have to do on behalf of the people of the Yukon.

I fully support the nomination of Mr. Moorlag as the next ombudsman in the Yukon. But, I do want to say for the public record, Mr. Speaker, that the Government Leader has gone over and laid out the process that was followed and he did that quite thoroughly, and I have nothing further to say to that, but I do want to say to my colleagues who were on that selection committee - I don't know if they felt as nervous as I did about going into it; we do get into some very hot debates in this Legislature at times where we have to reach a consensus decision of this magnitude that's going to be accepted by two-thirds of this Legislature.

It seemed like a very onerous task to me as I was going into it, but the Minister of Health and Social Services and the Member for Porter Creek South and myself all worked very, very hard during the interviews.

We were quite fortunate in having some very talented people that we had to choose from. Going into the process, I thought that this would be an ordeal and that we would be a long time in coming to a consensus that we could bring back to this Legislature. Surprisingly, that wasn't the case and I'm quite pleased about it, quite happy for it, that Mr. Moorlag was one of the top three on all of our lists; it was a matter of where each one of us had ranked him. So, there was a little shuffling around from there, but the reality of it was that we did leave our political biases outside the door when we went in there and we were all interested in only one task, and that was selecting the best possible person that we could from this very talented group of people that we had chosen to interview, with the help of the former Public Service Commissioner in the Yukon.

It really ended up being a very easy task, and I hope when the time comes again for the selection of an ombudsman the next selection committee is able to have as easy a task as we did. It was very enjoyable. It's tough work interviewing people; it's tough work asking very pointed questions and trying to get the information out into a context that you understand. I know how hard it must be on the people that are being interviewed for the job, because some of the people I have never seen before.

It's really not a pleasing task to have to interview a group of people and select one and say, "Well, you're better suited for the task than your competitors." But that was the goal that was assigned to us and we worked very, very hard at it Mr. Speaker, and I do want, on behalf of my caucus, to thank the other two members that were appointed on behalf of their caucuses for the full cooperation that we received and had in that committee, and as a result of it we came to a decision in a very timely manner, and I hope that this Legislature will uphold that decision.

Ms. Duncan: I too would like to speak on behalf of my caucus regarding this appointment and a little bit about my experience in serving on this committee. First of all, I'd like, for the public record, to commend all the candidates who applied for this position of ombudsman. We had an incredibly strong field of individuals who sought the position and it speaks to the quality of individual who lives in the Yukon, I believe.

The ombudsman, as the Government Leader has outlined very well, is independent of government, a non-partisan individual, independent, someone with investigative abilities, and, as we all know in politics, perception is reality and the perception must be that this person is above reproach and is able to handle the position.

One of my first tasks as a newly elected member was to serve on this committee that conducted the interviews and selected the final individual. It was an honour to be asked to do this. While I can't say I approached the task with trepidation, I certainly felt that it was an important task and one of the more important things that I would be asked to do and I approached it with a great deal of thought.

I also approached each interview with the thought in mind, if I were an individual who had been perceived to be wronged, how I would feel talking to the person across from me. And I must say Mr. Moorlag was an exceptional individual in that respect. I think any person in the Yukon would feel absolutely comfortable discussing anything with him, and I fully commend him as the selected individual for this position. I'd also like to, before I take my seat, thank the fellow members of the committee. It was a pleasure working with you and I look forward to more constructive work with all members of the House.

Some Hon. Member: Question.

Speaker: I hear the question being called. Before putting the question, the Chair must draw members' attention to section 2 of the Ombudsman Act. That section requires that the recommendation of the Legislative Assembly to the Commissioner in Executive Council respecting the appointment of an ombudsman be supported by at least two-thirds of the members of the Assembly. The effect of section 2 is that, for this motion to be carried, at least 11 members must vote for it in order to ensure that the requirements of section 2 of the Ombudsman Act are met. The Chair will now call for recorded division.


Hon. Mr. McDonald: Agreed.

Hon. Mr. Harding: Agreed.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Agreed.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Agreed.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Agreed.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Agreed.

Mr. McRobb: Agreed.

Mr. Fentie: Agreed.

Mr. Hardy: Agreed.

Mr. Ostashek: Agreed.

Mr. Phillips: Agreed.

Mr. Jenkins: Agreed.

Mr. Cable: Agreed.

Ms. Duncan: Agreed.

Mrs. Edelman: Agreed.

Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 15 yea, nil nay.

Speaker: I declare the motion carried by the required support of two-thirds of the members of the Assembly.

Motion No. 38 agreed to



Bill No. 5: Second Reading

Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 5, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. McDonald.

Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 5, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1997-98, be read a second time now.

Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government Leader that Bill No. 5, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1997-98 be now read a second time.

Hon. Mr. McDonald: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. That was more or less the motion.

Members will know that the bill before us is necessary if the government operations are to be carried out during the month of April and prior to the passage of the 1997-98 main estimates. Without this bill, there would be no spending authority for that month. I think all members will see and, as is usual, the sum being requested far exceeds a simple calculation based on one-twelfth of the total main estimates. This happens because many expenses, especially transfer payments and capital expenditures, are incurred or committed in an upfront fashion. These monies we are appropriating here will, of course, be subsumed in the main estimates once they have received this House's approval. I'll be more than prepared to answer questions in Committee about any details the members may have.

Mr. Ostashek: I just rise to say that we support the bill. It's one of the necessary evils of the Legislature. We have to give approval if the government is going to continue to operate, and this seems to be an annual thing. I don't see anything new here.

Speaker: Are you prepared for the question?

Some Hon. Member: Agree.

Speaker: I think the ayes have it. I declare the motion carried.

Motion for the second reading of Bill No. 5 agreed to

Hon. Mr. Harding: Mr. Speaker, I move 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. Committee will be dealing with Bill No. 5, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1997-98.

Bill No. 5 - Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1997-98

Chair: Is there any general debate?

Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Chair, I have every intention of asking you if we could take a break.

Chair: Is it the wish of this House to take a break at this time?

Some Hon. Member: Agreed

Chair: We will take a brief recess.


Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We are dealing with Bill No. 5. Is there any general debate?

Hon. Mr. McDonald: As I had just indicated before the break, this bill is to appropriate monies for the month of April. It obviously exceeds one-twelfth of the annual expenditures, but as most members know, many contributions to non-governmental organizations and government corporations, like the government-run corporations like the Arts Centre, are made at the beginning of the year, and numerous contractual obligations are signed in April, for which a commitment of the authority is required. A commitment of authority, of course, can only be given by departments if there is sufficient money there granted by the Legislature.

The sums that are being requested in the bill that exceed the normal monthly total are as follows: the Legislative Assembly requires $470,000 for the MLA pension plan; Community and Transportation Services requires approximately $11.5 million for the comprehensive municipal grants and $14.3 million for commitments for highway construction contracts; Education needs $11 million for the Yukon College contribution; and, Health and Social Services also requires $16 million for the Hospital Corporation for operating expenses, and a little bit for the hospital construction budget.

Of course, once these are passed, they will simply become part of the appropriations in the main estimates, and we will be able to deal with the expenditures in detail, presumably, at that time.

Chair: If there is no further general debate, we will go to Schedule A.

On Schedule A

Schedule A agreed to

On Schedule B

Schedule B agreed to

On Clause 1

Clause 1 agreed to

On Clause 2

Clause 2 agreed to

On Title

Title agreed to

Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Chair, I move that you report Bill No. 5, Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1997-98, out of Committee without amendment.

Motion agreed to

Hon. Mr. Harding: Mr. Chair, 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 the Committee of the Whole.

Mr. McRobb: Mr. Speaker, Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 5, Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1997-98, and has directed me to report it without amendment.

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

Some Hon. Members: Agreed.

Speaker: I declare the report carried.

Hon. Mr. Harding: I would request the unanimous consent of the House to allow Bill No. 5 to be called for third reading at this time.

Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?

Some Hon. Members: Agreed.

Speaker: Unanimous consent has been granted.


Bill No. 5: Third Reading

Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 5, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. McDonald.

Hon. Mr. McDonald:

Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 5, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1997-98, be now read a third time and do pass.

Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government Leader that Bill No. 5, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1997-98, be now read a third time and do pass.

Motion for third reading of Bill No. 5 agreed to

Hon. Mr. Harding: I move that the House do now adjourn.

Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.

Motion agreed to

Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.

The House adjourned at 8:45 p.m.

The following Sessional Papers were tabled March 26, 1997:


Report of the Chief Electoral Officer of the Yukon on contributions to political parties during 1996 (Speaker Livingston)


Report of the Chief Electoral Officer of the Yukon on contributions to candidates, 1996 general election (Speaker Livingston)


Preliminary report of the Chief Electoral Officer of the Yukon on the administration of elections of members of the Legislative Assembly (Speaker Livingston)


Deductions from the indemnities of members of the Legislative Assembly made pursuant to subsection 39(6) of the Legislative Assembly Act: report of the Clerk to the Legislative Assembly (dated March 24, 1997) (Speaker Livingston)


Yukon College Annual Report, 1995-96 (Moorcroft)


Yukon College financial statements, June 30, 1996 (Moorcroft)


Department of Education Annual Report, 1995-96 (Moorcroft)


Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges: first report of (dated March 26, 1997) (Harding)

The following Document was filed on March 26, 1997:


Newsletter to constituents from Tony Penikett, MLA (fall, 1994) re Yukon Energy Corporation and southern interests (Ostashek)