Tuesday, October 24, 2000 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
We will proceed at this time with prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
In remembrance of Pierre Elliott Trudeau
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of all Members of the Yukon Legislative Assembly to pay tribute to the Rt. Hon. Pierre Elliott Trudeau.
Mr. Trudeau's love of the Canadian wilderness was well known by all Canadians. In particular, the Yukon wilderness and the wilderness of the Canadian north was near and dear to his heart. Mr. Trudeau visited the north as often as he could. He opened the very first Arctic Winter Games in Yellowknife.
Pierre Trudeau holds a special place in the hearts of Yukoners. It was his government that recognized the validity of land claims and that accepted the Council for Yukon Indians land claim proposal, Together Today for Our Children Tomorrow, in 1973.
His vision of Canada resulted in Canadians adopting the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and recognizing aboriginal rights in the Constitution.
Mr. Speaker, Pierre Trudeau was a man who accepted the mantle of responsibility and the challenges of leadership without hesitation.
On behalf of all Members of the Yukon Legislative Assembly we join with other Canadians in mourning his passing and offering our condolences to his family.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: If there are no further tributes we'll continue with the introduction of visitors.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Mr. McRobb: It is with great honour that I would like to introduce a couple of very special Yukoners, who, on Thursday of last week, celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. It could be said, Mr. Speaker, that they bring new meaning to living north of 60.
Please join me in welcoming my parents, Gordon and Evelyn McRobb.
Mr. Jenkins: I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce the recently re-elected Mayor of Dawson, Glen Everett, in the visitors gallery today. With him is another one of my constituents, the postmaster of Dawson, Lambert Curzon.
Speaker: I will proceed then.
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Speaker:I have for tabling the following documents: a notice from Trevor Harding, received by me, as Speaker, on October 22, 2000, resigning as member for the Electoral District of Faro; a warrant issued by me, as Speaker, pursuant to section 15 of the Legislative Assembly Act, respecting the resignation of Mr. Harding; next, number 3, a copy of a letter from the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly to the Commissioner, respecting the vacancy in the Electoral District of Faro; and the report of the chief electoral officer of the Yukon on the 2000 general election; the 1999 annual report of the Yukon Ombudsman and Information and Privacy Commissioner; and a report of 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. Buckway: I have for tabling the operational review of the Yukon Legal Services Society.
Speaker: Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Mr. Speaker, I give notice of the following motion:
THAT Standing Order 45 be amended by adding the following new Standing Orders:
45(3.1) At the commencement of the first session of each Legislature a standing committee on appointments to major government boards and committees shall be appointed;
(3.2) The Standing Committee on Appointments to Major Government Boards and Committees:
(a) shall review nominations and recommend appointments to the following major board and committees: (a) Yukon Development Corporation Board of Directors; (b) Yukon Energy Corporation Board of Directors; (c) Yukon Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board; (d) Yukon Lottery Corporation; (e) Yukon Recreation Advisory Council; (f) Arts Advisory Council; (g) Yukon Utilities Board; (h) Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment; (i) Yukon Human Rights Commission;
(b) may review other appointments proposed by the Executive Council that are referred to it by the Executive Council;
(c) shall meet in camera; and
(d) shall prepare a report within 45 days of receipt of a proposed appointment or proposed appointments, and such a report shall contain the appointment or a list of appointments recommended by the committee;
(3.3) The chair of the Standing Committee on Appointments to Major Government Boards and Committees shall present all reports of the committee to the Legislative Assembly, but, if the Legislative Assembly is not sitting at the time a report has been agreed to by the committee, the chair shall transmit the report to all Members of the Legislative Assembly and then release the report to the public;
(3.4) When the Commissioner in Executive Council or, if applicable, a minister, due to legal requirements or operational needs, has deemed it necessary to make an appointment prior to the expiration of the 45-day period, the committee shall be notified in writing by the Executive Council Office of appointments made by a minister or by the Commissioner in Executive Council; and
THAT Standing Order 45 be further amended by adding the following new provisions, which shall remain in effect during the Thirtieth Legislative Assembly:
45(3.5) The first Standing Committee on Appointments to Major Government Boards and Committees shall be appointed during the second session of the Thirtieth Legislative Assembly;
(3.6) The first Standing Committee on Appointments to Major Government Boards and Committees shall consist of three members from the government caucus, one member from the official opposition caucus, and the third party member.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, I give notice of the following motion:
THAT the following Address be presented to the Commissioner of the Yukon:
MAY IT PLEASE THE COMMISSIONER:
WHEREAS section 35 of the Ombudsman Act states:
35(1): Subject to subsection (2), this act shall continue in force for a period of five years from the day on which it came into force, and no longer.
(2) If at any time while this act is in force, an address is presented to the Commissioner by the Legislative Assembly praying that this act should be continued in force for a further period, not in any case exceeding five years, from the time at which it would otherwise expire and the Commissioner in Executive Council so orders, this act shall continue in force for that further period.
(3) This Act comes into force on a date to be fixed by the Commissioner in Executive Council.
AND WHEREAS the Ombudsman Act came into force on July 1, 1996;
AND WHEREAS the Members of the Yukon Legislative Assembly believe it to be in the public interest to take action in a timely way respecting the continuance of the Ombudsman Act, and;
NOW THEREFORE this Legislative Assembly prays that the Ombudsman Act should be continued in force for a further period, being from July 1, 2001 to June 30, 2006.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, if I can have your indulgence, I would like to welcome in the gallery Chief Robert Hager of Nacho Nyak Dun and his wife Christine. I ask everyone to join with me in welcoming them to the gallery.
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that
(1) the members of this House acted in good faith in passing the Yukon Liberal government's budget for the fiscal year 2000-01, which included $5,480,000 for construction of a badly needed replacement of the J.V. Clark School in Mayo; and
(2) the Yukon Liberal government, through the Minister of Education, has announced that the construction will not proceed as scheduled, but has not provided a consistent or credible reason for this decision; and
(3) this delay in construction poses unnecessary hardships on the students and staff of J.V. Clark School, who are required to spend several hours each day in an outdated, structurally inadequate facility in conditions that may pose a risk to their health and safety; and
(4) this delay will deprive Yukon workers, contractors and other businesses of important economic benefits this winter; and
(5) this unnecessary delay will not result in any cost savings to Yukon taxpayers, as the minister has claimed; and
THAT this House urges the Yukon Liberal government to honour the commitment in its 2000-01 budget by authorizing the start of construction on the new Mayo school without further delay.
Mr. McRobb: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that
(1) the Connect Yukon program, as conceived and introduced by the previous NDP government, consisted of three distinct components: basic telephone service to unserviced or underserviced rural lots; high-speed internet access with better voice and data service in all Yukon communities, and distributed-learning capacity in all Yukon schools; and
(2) as such, Connect Yukon would have provided widespread benefits to rural residents requiring basic telephone service to Yukon students and teachers and to all Yukon communities; and
(3) the current government has redefined the Connect Yukon program in a manner that will provide fewer benefits to Yukon people; and
(4) this redefinition by the Yukon Liberal government has betrayed the public trust by leaving crucial decision making regarding the scheduling and implementation of improved telephone service to rural Yukon in the hands of NorthwesTel, a subsidiary of Bell Canada; and
(5) by failing to implement the Connect Yukon program as originally intended, the Yukon Liberal government has abrogated its responsibility to ensure that residents or rural Yukon will have affordable access to efficient, reliable voice and data telecommunication service in a timely manner; and
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to take all necessary steps to honour the full intent and purpose of the Connect Yukon program as originally announced last October and outlined further in this House on November 10, 1999, by the former Minister of Government Services.
Mr. Jenkins: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the decision made by the Prime Minister to rename Mount Logan Mount Trudeau was made without proper consultation with Yukoners and it is in contravention of land claim agreements with Yukon First Nations; and
THAT this House recognizes many Yukoners and numerous other Canadians have indicated that they are opposed to renaming Mount Logan; and
THAT this House urges the Prime Minister of Canada to reverse his decision to rename Mount Logan as Mount Trudeau.
Mr. Speaker, I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that government should become part of the solution rather than continuing to be part of the problem of high energy costs; and
THAT this House urges the Government of Canada to eliminate the goods and service tax on diesel, gasoline, propane, furnace oil and wood used for heating, as well as electricity.
Mr. Speaker, I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the health and safety of the students attending the J.V. Clark School in Mayo must be given paramount consideration in any decision to delay construction of the new school;
THAT this House recognizes that many workers in Mayo were counting on the construction of the new school to keep them employed this winter; and
THAT this House urges the Minister of Education to reverse his decision to not proceed with the construction of the new Mayo school this winter.
Mr. Kent: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps is deserving of recognition for the service it provided in supply and transportation for all units of the Canadian Army up to 1976;
THAT this House recognizes that in May 2001, the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps will be celebrating its 100th anniversary, and;
THAT the Yukon Legislative Assembly, having previously affirmed its recognition of the service provided by the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps by resolution of this House dated December 1, 1999, hereby reaffirms its request that Canada Post issue a commemorative postal stamp in May 2001, in order to recognize and honour the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps on its 100th anniversary.
Speaker: Are there any statements by ministers?
Legal aid operational review
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I rise to inform the House about the work that this government is undertaking with respect to legal aid in the Yukon. I am pleased today to table the operational review of the Yukon Legal Services Society.
This review was conducted by Bonnie Durnford, Assistant Deputy Minister of Social Services for the Government of Saskatchewan. Ms. Durnford is also a lawyer and a past member of the Saskatchewan Legal Aid Commission. We are most grateful to the Government of Saskatchewan for their cooperation in loaning Ms. Durnford to the Government of Yukon for this review.
In the course of the review, Ms. Durnford undertook detailed in-person and telephone interviews with the board and staff of the Legal Aid Society, representatives of women's groups, defence lawyers, the Law Society, native courtworkers and the judiciary, and Department of Justice staff. Information was also culled from file reviews and follow-up interviews.
Her report, tabled in the House and released to the public today, contains a description and analysis of the context for legal aid in the Yukon, the mandate of the society, and its administrative and financial operations.
The report outlines 31 recommendations for consideration by the government and the board. Many of these recommendations will form the basis for ongoing discussion between the government and the board over the next several months.
Due to the urgency of pressures on the society, however, this government is pleased to be able to respond to several of the recommendations immediately. The mandate of the Yukon Legal Services Society is large. A number of competing policy objectives have to be balanced in the development of a viable legal aid system. The primary objective is to ensure that low-income individuals and families have a reasonable level of access to justice services. At the same time, the fiscal realities of government, particularly governments of small jurisdictions, require cost-effective legal aid systems that provide a high quality of service.
When my provincial and territorial counterparts and I met with the federal Minister of Justice in Iqaluit recently, legal aid was high on the priority list. The federal minister committed to approaching Treasury Board for increased funding for legal aid at the national level. If the federal minister is successful in her commitment, we expect to receive an increase of approximately $63,000 per year in the federal cost sharing for legal aid before the next fiscal year, reversing the long-standing freeze on federal funding for legal aid.
Throughout the review, issues were raised with regard to the services provided to family law clients. Almost universally, concerns were expressed with regard to the inability of the Yukon Legal Services Society to provide services to clients except at the interim stage of family law proceedings. It was noted that this limitation places legal aid clients at a distinct disadvantage.
The review notes that the coverage of family law services provided in the Yukon is significantly less than is provided in the other jurisdictions examined. The distinct disadvantage this causes family law clients was almost universally identified throughout the review. Pressure for an expanded range of family law services will continue.
In discussions with the Yukon Legal Services Society Board, we have agreed that there is a pressing need to direct any additional funds to assist people to access legal aid in family law situations.
I am pleased to announce that this government is providing an additional $300,000 of new funding to the legal aid program. This new funding is, with the approval of the Legal Services Society, to assist with the provision of legal counsel in family law matters.
The society is run by a board of directors appointed by the Yukon Minister of Justice. I am pleased to announce today the appointment of three new board members, Gina Nagano, Christina Sutherland, and Leah White. Gina Nagano was born and raised in the Yukon and is a member of Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation. She has 16 years of policing experience with the RCMP, has served in many communities throughout Canada, and is currently stationed in Carcross. Christina Sutherland has been a member of the Yukon bar for the past three and a half years and has worked in the legal field for over 15 years. She currently practices as a private defence lawyer. Leah White currently works as a women's advocate and co-ordinator for the Victoria Faulkner Women's Centre and is a sessional instructor in social work at Yukon College. These new board members will join existing board members Dave Henning, Michael Cozens, Frances Woolsey, and Bruce Demchuk.
The Yukon is fortunate to have people who continue to be willing to devote many hours of their own time to direct the operations of legal aid in the Yukon. This is the true sign of a healthy community.
I am also pleased to announce that the Yukon Legal Services Society is moving into new and enlarged office space at the Tutshi building, which is being renovated to accommodate them. This new space is twice as large as their present location and will provide the society with three times as many offices, a boardroom, and enhanced security features. This new space is being provided to the society at no additional cost to them, thus allowing the existing budget to continue to be used for service delivery. Special cases also present a serious concern for the society. These cases are extraordinary situations involving multiple accused - for example, drug trafficking or conspiracy, or murder charges. The effect of these cases is two-fold. It is difficult for a small organization to have the legal expertise or capacity to respond to complex or lengthy cases, and it is impossible for the organization to absorb the costs of a private bar referral within its normal budget allocation.
I am pleased to announce that this government has been able to negotiate an agreement with the Government of Canada with respect to costs incurred for the recent high-cost drug case.
Point of order
Speaker: The hon. Member for Watson Lake, on a point of order.
Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, a ministerial statement, pursuant to Standing Order 11(3) is to be "a short factual statement" of government policy. So far the minister has merely given us a blow-by-blow schematic of the overall legal problems and issues in this territory, and I think it's imperative upon her to get to the policy of this government in the statement.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Speaker: The hon. Member for Whitehorse Centre, on the point of order.
Mr. McLarnon: Apparently the opposition is not listening, because I've heard new policies and new statements coming from our minister throughout this statement.
Mr. Speaker, I would ask that you rule that this is clearly a ministerial statement, as it is a reflection of our policy, and our new point of view. I would ask you to rule that it is a valid statement, please.
Speaker: I've had some guidance on this, and I'm aware that there have been some previous rulings from the House, which I can't cite now.
I think it would be proper for me to permit the completion of the statement here. At a later date, I will provide the House with a summary of what has been permitted in the past, and what will be required from statements, and the responses.
So please continue with your statement.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I was speaking about high-cost cases. We are aware that these exceptional cases, which cannot be predicted as part of the regular budgeting cycle, present significant management challenges to the society.
The financial review, conducted by an independent local accountant, indicates that the Yukon Legal Services Society has a serious cash-flow issue and that this problem has been escalating over the last few years. In the short run, I am also very pleased to announce that my department has been able to identify $287,781 from prior year funds to assist with the accumulated deficit that currently exists within the society.
The review examines the role of the board and the relationship of the board to Yukon Justice. The review process has provided an opportunity for the society and Yukon Justice to develop a closer working relationship. We are appreciative of the efforts of all involved, including dedicated staff who have stayed on, those who have chosen to leave, and new staff who have joined the organization.
I met with new and continuing board members last week and am pleased to announce that my officials and the board will continue to work closely together to develop an action plan in response to the 31 recommendations of the review. It will take some time for the new board members to become familiar with the work of the society and with the review and its recommendations.
I want to emphasize that this government has every confidence in the ability of the board and staff of the society to continue to provide the best possible legal services to those Yukoners in need. We are committed to working together to address those issues in need of improvement. We are confident that, together, we will be able to develop a comprehensive response to the review recommendations.
I will be able to report progress on this response as it is developed, and look forward to keeping the House informed of the government's ongoing support for and commitment to legal aid in the Yukon.
Ms. Netro: Mr. Speaker, this ministerial statement appears to have more content than the throne speech did.
A ministerial statement is supposed to be a short factual statement of new government policy. This announcement seems to amount to nothing more than some new money, some new people, and a new address.
We support the appointment of the three new board members, Gina Nagano, Christina Sutherland and Leah White, to the Legal Services Society's board of directors.
We welcome the release of the report on legal aid in the Yukon that was due out in early July, and look forward to seeing the 31 recommendations and the government's response to those recommendations.
However, given the federal election, we wonder about the delivery of the $63,000 from the feds, if the federal minister is still the federal minister, and if she convinces the new Treasury Board. There seems to be a lot of ifs around the anticipated federal dollars.
Where is the new $300,000 coming from? Is it coming from CDF, or maybe the Mayo school? Legal aid is a federal responsibility, yet this government is letting the federal government off the hook and is committing Yukon taxpayers to cover the cost of a program that is a federal responsibility.
Why is the minister reannouncing the agreement negotiated federally for funding one high-cost case? Is the minister still negotiating for more substantial federal funding of legal aid that does not come with so many ifs?
That $287,000 identified from prior year funds requires a revote. Will it be in the supplementary budget?
Is this money included in the new $300,000? Is the anticipated $63,000 included in the $300,000 or is the total for the legal aid actually going to be $650,000?
Mr. Jenkins: I am pleased to respond on behalf of the Yukon Party to this ministerial statement. A ministerial statement is supposed to be a short factual statement of government policy. Now, this ministerial statement has to be one of the longest ever given in this House. And unfortunately, while it is long on content, it is very short on specifics. This was a speech, Mr. Speaker.
The ministerial statement raises more questions than it answers. It is obvious to anyone involved in the legal system or even outside of the legal system, that legal aid is in trouble. We on this side of the House do not have the advantage of knowing what the 31 recommendations of the review will do to correct this current problem. We do not know if the recommendations and the subsequent actions taken by the government will ensure that low-income individuals and families have reasonable access to justice services. All we know from this ministerial statement is that a report has been prepared, some additional funding has been granted, new board members have been appointed, and the Yukon Legal Services Society has new offices.
Consequently, I would like the minister, in her response, to advise the House if she feels the $63,000 per year in federal funding is fair in view of the problem facing legal aid. Legal aid is a federal responsibility. For years they maintained the status quo: cut, cut, cut. Just before the election, they throw $63,000 at us. It sounds like a usual Liberal position. In my view, that amount seems pretty paltry.
I'd like the minister to advise us of what the actual deficit is for the legal aid system in Yukon. What is the deficit they are currently facing?
Now the $300,000 of new funding over and above - is that over and above the $287,781 the minister made reference to? In other words, is the total amount flowing through in new money going to amount to some $650,000, or is that $300,000 just going to cover part of the deficit?
These are just a few of the questions I'd like the minister to answer. I am sure there will be more when we have had the opportunity to review the 31 recommendations. After all, they were just tabled in this Legislature today.
Mr. Speaker, it is a fact of life that as the Yukon economic situation continues to worsen, more and more Yukoners will be utilizing the legal aid system, and low-income Yukoners are always the ones who suffer the most.
I would urge the Premier and her colleagues that the way to overcome many of Yukon's social and legal problems is to produce a healthy, vibrant economy. Unfortunately, the members of the government's side, as witnessed by the Speech from the Throne, do not appear to be aware of the extent of Yukon's economic problems, and before a government can take steps to rectify a problem, it first must recognize that it has such a problem.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I thank the members opposite for their comments. The report itself will be in their hands shortly.
I need to remind the member from the official opposition that the sorry state of the legal aid program is a direct result of the neglect the program has experienced under the previous administration.
A $287,781 deficit did not accumulate in the six months since this government was elected, and yet we had the will to find the required funds to remove the deficit. In addition, we have also committed an additional $300,000 to assist in the area of family law. The $63,000 in federal funds is separate. And this money is not from CDF or the Mayo school, as the members opposite know very well.
The appointment of three new members will be a valuable addition to the board. New offices and a more convenient location should be of benefit to the staff in the delivery of service to Yukoners who are in need of legal assistance. I will report the progress we make with the remaining recommendations.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Hon. Ms. Buckway: And, Mr. Speaker, at this time I beg your indulgence to introduce Watson Lake residents Isaac Wood and Tom Cove, who are in the gallery.
Speaker: If there are no further ministerial statements, this then brings us the Question Period.
Question re: J.V. Clark School, health concerns
Mr. Fairclough: Last Friday, the acting Medical Officer of Health ordered air circulation to part of the J.V. Clark school to be shut down. She told a public meeting in Mayo that bacterial levels in the crawl space were higher than acceptable. Yet, the minister has insisted that there are no health concerns through this school. My question is to the Minister of Education. What is the basis for the minister's opinion? And does he still believe that there are no health concerns for the students and staff at J.V. Clark?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Speaker, all areas where the children play, all the areas where the children eat, all the areas where the children work, all the areas where the children learn, are safe and within safe guideline parameters, as explained by the Chief Medical Officer of Health when we were meeting with the residents in Mayo. Additional tests are being conducted and the crawl space itself, as well as other places in the school, are being resampled.
Mr. Fairclough: At the time the minister said that there were no health concerns, the test results weren't even back from the lab. As a matter of fact, some of them were lost, samples were not refrigerated, and more needed to be taken. The minister must realize that some experts in the field say airborne samples can miss dangerous fungi and mould spores that concentrate on surfaces. Is the minister or the Minister of the Health now prepared to order more comprehensive testing to determine the true air quality in the Mayo school rather than the Cole's Notes versions that have been done so far?
Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Speaker, it was exactly the day after we received some of the results that we headed up to Mayo directly. The member opposite knew that we were travelling up to Mayo, yet he chose not to go with us. The Medical Officer of Health did go with us. She explained the results that we had. You're right; some of the samples were compromised by the air company on their way to Edmonton. As a result of that, we conducted additional samples on the same day we were there. As well, the Chief Medical Officer had also indicated that any additional testing that anybody in the community wanted, whether it was the school council, whether it was the principal of the school, if anybody in the community wanted additional samples, those samples will be conducted.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite said that there would be more additional testings. How can they be so sure at this point that the school is safe for the children and staff at J.V. Clark School? The whole community is concerned about the health and safety situation, and the minister keeps insisting that there's no problem. He changes his tune from day to day when there's no reason at all for not replacing the school right away. Will the minister now admit that he was wrong and make the health of Mayo's children a top priority by ordering the construction of a new school this fall as was committed in the government's budget?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Speaker, it's quite surprising that the interim leader of the official opposition says that I'm waffling. First of all, he said, on Friday, October 13, that I should be heading up to Mayo, that I should be listening to the people up there, that I should be taking into consideration some of the concerns that the people of Mayo had directly, face them, confront them. Then, on Thursday, October 19, he, knowing I was going up there, chose to vent through the local press instead of going up to Mayo and representing his constituents with a number of individuals - not only me, my colleague, Minister Wayne Jim, as well as his DM, as well as the DM of Education, but, as well, the Medical Officer for Yukon, went directly to the residents of Mayo. Where was he at that time?
Question re: J.V. Clark School, construction contract
Mr. Keenan: The Minister of Education just can't seem to get the story straight about why the construction is being delayed, so I would like to direct the question to the Minister of Government Services.
Now, we follow process here. The tenders went out. Two bids came in. Both the bids were opened, and both those bids were over budget. Then the minister went ahead and announced that they would rather retender, rather than work with the lowest bidder to see if costs could be cut, as per following the established process.
Can the minister tell me why the contractor wasn't advised about the problems with the bid and given the opportunity to meet the government's requirements?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Dowland, the contractor, was not notified because the tender was withdrawn. They have now been notified as to the nature of how their bids would have been disqualified.
Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, I think people could walk away with disgust. When we speak about it now, after the fact instead of before the fact, that answer just doesn't cut it.
YTG has very strict guidelines to guarantee a level playing field - very strict. Details of the Dowland and Ketza bids are now in the public arena, which gives other potential bidders an unfair advantage. This then leaves the government of the day open to accusations of bid-shopping, and we know that's a no-no. We know that that is very illegal and could result in lawsuits. If the contract is now retendered, as is your wish, how will the minister ensure that all potential bidders are going to be treated fairly and equitably?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Speaker, we also know that this is not bid-shopping and that we shouldn't be bid-shopping. We know the process and the process was followed.
Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Speaker, the member knows that that's fundamentally untrue. That is not the case at all, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, if the minister would get his nose out of the briefing books, put it in the newspapers and talk to the public he would find this out: there is a problem out there.
Mr. Speaker, it was not 24 hours ago in the throne speech that we heard the Liberal government -
Some Hon. Member: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Point of order
Speaker: The hon. Member for Whitehorse Centre, on a point of order.
Mr. McLarnon: Mr. Speaker, I believe the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes has spoken unparliamentary language. He has accused the minister of lying by saying that he knows the statement to be "fundamentally untrue".
I would ask you to ask the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes to withdraw that remark.
Speaker: The hon. Member for Watson Lake, on the point of order.
Mr. Fentie: I believe it is the case in this Legislature that accusing a member of lying or uttering falsehoods would be out of order. In this particular instance, the member was merely stating that there was a definite discrepancy in what the minister was stating as far as the facts were concerned.
Speaker: Unfortunately, I can't recall exactly in what context the word was used, and how it was used. I would have to review the records to be sure. If, in fact, the member stated that the minister knew, or intentionally said a falsehood, then that would be unparliamentary.
But, unfortunately, I can't rule on it right now, because I would have to review Hansard. I would ask the member to continue, please.
Mr. Keenan: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Before that rude interruption from the Member for Whitehorse Centre - it was not 24 hours ago that the throne speech that we heard from this Liberal government laid out seven priorities, and today I point out that this government is breaking three of those priorities for political gain.
One of the Education minister's many stories was that there wouldn't be major changes to the school design to cut the costs. Now substantial changes might be needed just to avoid a lawsuit. The foundation is already built, so substantial changes might be impossible.
Has the minister had any discussion with the school council, with the Chief of the Nacho Nyak Dun or with the mayor of the village about what changes might be possible or acceptable to the community? Or, again, is it a unilateral decision?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: The member opposite is correct. The footprint is there; the foundation is there. This is something that, after 26 years of waiting in the community, there was nothing done. In the last four years of this government, there was nothing done. They weren't listening to their constituents.
We, in six months, have a footprint there. We have a foundation; we have turned dirt. The design changes will be substantial enough to change the contract proposals in the tender documents for such things as window sizes. Right now, there is something like 26 different window sizes. We will be a little more consistent with window sizes. We will look at things between the walls.
This is how we plan to implement design change. As well, we will be going to the community to let them review and have input into any design changes made, Mr. Speaker.
Question re: Yukon economy
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier. There appears to be little recognition by this Liberal government that Yukon is currently in the midst of an economic depression, and actions being taken by this government are making matters worse, not better.
The failure by this government to use its so-called special relationship with Ottawa to gain long-term access to timber led to the closure of the Watson Lake sawmill. It cost that community 125 jobs. Similarly, this fiasco surrounding the construction of the Mayo school and its cancellation are costing many people in Mayo and other Yukoners their jobs this winter.
Can the Premier advise the House why she isn't aware of the economic problems facing unemployed Yukoners and why she isn't doing anything to help Yukoners find employment this winter?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, the real question from the Member for Klondike: what action has this government taken on the economy in the six months we have been in office? And I'd like to answer that question for the member.
First of all, there is the matter of oil and gas exploration and development work. This government is proceeding along in the process for the second land sale. There are the efforts around the focused flow-through share program. As the member opposite is aware, the Minister of Finance has announced his initiative after some lobbying by me, the Minister of Renewable Resources and our fellow Canadian ministers on this very issue at the energy mines ministers meeting and at my meeting with the minister in August.
There's also the pursuit of a $2-billion project to the Yukon, also known as - the aggressive promotion of the Alaska Highway pipeline route. And, I might add, Mr. Speaker, that both opposition parties have vigorously opposed our efforts in that regard.
There's also the MINE program, which was announced in the throne speech, and, most importantly, Mr. Speaker, what we have noticed in our discussions with Yukoners throughout our travels throughout the Yukon this summer has been a change in attitude, a welcoming of this government and our interest in development in the territory.
Mr. Jenkins: Some Liberal footprint.
What the Premier has given Yukoners is a pair of binoculars to look at opportunities, but they're over in the Northwest Territories, they're over in Alberta, they're elsewhere. They're not here. There is no employment here in the foreseeable future. The throne speech gave unemployed Yukoners very little hope, if any, for work this winter.
I'm going to give the minister a suggestion, Mr. Speaker. When the Yukon Party government was faced with similar harsh economic times in the winter of 1993, it established a public/private sector working group to immediately devise ways to maximize job opportunities in Yukon for the winter and the future, by examining how to get the most out of our government expenditures.
Will the Premier investigate the adoption of the Yukon Party's initiative to put Yukoners to work? Will she do that, Mr. Speaker?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, our party has always indicated that we are open and listening to what Yukoners have to say to us. I thank the member for putting forth a constructive suggestion. Unfortunately, I have to disagree with the member opposite that all the opportunities are elsewhere. I believe there are real opportunities for Yukoners in the Alaska Highway pipeline project, something those members oppose. I believe there are real opportunities for Yukoners in the three new applications that have been submitted for exploration programs in southeast Yukon, in oil and gas. I believe there are real opportunities for Yukoners in the land sale, to take place in 2001, in the work that Anderson Exploration is undertaking this winter.
I believe there are real opportunities there, and our government is doing its absolute best to promote them.
Mr. Jenkins: Like I said initially, the Government Leader, the Premier of the Yukon, is giving Yukoners a pair of binoculars to look at the opportunities. The same still holds true.
What are the timelines for the Alaska Highway pipeline coming down? It could be five years or a decade away, if it comes at all. It could be a long, drawn-out process. Oil and gas exploration - how are we going to benefit from that?
I want the minister to establish a working group immediately to see how we can maximize Government of Yukon expenditures here in the Yukon to put Yukoners back to work. Will she do that? What it means is revisiting projects like the capital undertaking for the Mayo school and initiatives of that nature. The money is there. It is necessary to spend it wisely, to put Yukoners back to work.
The minister admitted that it was a good idea. Can she take it and run with the ball? She is stealing the platforms from virtually every political party in Canada. She ran with the political platform of the NDP, ran with -
Speaker: Order please. Will the member please get to the question.
Mr. Jenkins: My question for the Premier: will she take the initiative, grab the reins of power that she currently holds and put Yukoners back to work?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Speaker, let's review what the member opposite has said. The member opposite is opposed to a $2-billion construction project in the Yukon and future opportunities that an Alaska Highway pipeline represents. The member is opposed to oil and gas exploration and development work going on this winter in north Yukon. The member is opposed to exploration work going on in southeast Yukon. The member is opposed to me standing up and saying, "Thanks for the suggestion, we'll consider it", which, for the record, I did not refer to as a good idea. I said I would look at the suggestion.
The member opposite seems also to be opposed to Copper Ridge Exploration Inc., to Expatriate Resources, to the MINE program, to working actively with the industry to promote and raise the level of exploration activity and exploration expenditures - something decimated under previous administrations. The member seems opposed to Copper Ridge's comment that the Yukon is a great place to invest. As Mr. Carlson stated: "We find the Yukon, particularly with Pat Duncan coming into office, is a great place to do business. It's a huge untapped resource and you know where the goal posts are."
Clearly, Mr. Speaker, we are in power. The Yukon people spoke loudly and clearly on April 17 in support of our platform, which included a key commitment to rebuilding a Yukon economy, and that's exactly what we're doing.
Question re: J.V. Clark School, construction contract
Mr. Fentie: My question is with regard to a very serious situation in this territory: its economy. I think the Minister of Economic Development is somewhat confused. This side of the House does not oppose the Alaska Highway pipeline. Quite the contrary, this side of the House, the NDP government, started the process with $100,000 that that government tabled and passed in the budget this spring. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, the minister is getting a little ahead of herself.
The Minister of Economic Development was willing to turn her back on 125 workers in Watson Lake by refusing to even look at options to help the South Yukon Forest Corporation. And now she is turning her back on workers in Mayo. She is absolutely ignoring rural Yukon.
We've also heard the Minister of Government Services and Education throw out some lame-duck excuses as to why they've cancelled the contract. Can the Minister of Economic Development explain the business case for not proceeding with this project this winter and establish the jobs and benefits so desperately needed in Mayo?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Speaker, I really find it amazing that the members opposite continue to present fear-mongering arguments with respect to the Mayo school. The project has not been cancelled; it has been postponed. We will be retendering the project before year's end. We will be constructing the building on the existing framework come early spring. We will be opening the doors of that new school in early 2002.
Mr. Fentie: Well, Mr. Speaker, there is the problem. The Liberal government is postponing the economy. We need action now, here, today - not next year or five years down the road. Let me point out that the Minister of Economic Development's many forays to Calgary, while wearing out the rug in the Palliser Hotel, has resulted in one nomination for oil and gas development in this territory - one. We have lost 125 jobs in Watson Lake and many more in Mayo. Can the minister tell us how that way of doing things contributes to certainty in the Yukon's economy and helps this territory address the problem of its economic woes that this Liberal government is helping to create?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Speaker, among all of that rhetoric - some of it factually questionable - was a question of exactly what this government is doing with respect to the economy. I welcome the opportunity to outline that for the member opposite and for all of the public.
What have we been doing? Well, we have promoted our second land sale. Public discussion takes place October 19 to December 1. The actual land disposition will take place in early February. The economic impact benefit agreements with Anderson Exploration to ensure that that exploration proceeds early this winter are well underway, and I fully anticipate that the work will take place in January and February. The Member for Watson Lake seems completely unaware that there are three new applications submitted for exploration work in southeast Yukon starting in early 2001. The estimated expenditure of that is $6.7 million. There is the focus flow-through share program, which we lobbied for extensively, and the Prospector and Developers Association of Canada recognized Yukon's efforts in that regard. We were successful in that.
There's the $2 billion capital project, the Alaska Highway pipeline route, which the member seems blatantly opposed to. Not only are they absolutely critical of all our efforts, which are supported by Yukoners, the member seems completely unaware of all of the details of that project. And the mine program - I'd welcome an opportunity to discuss that in greater detail over the coming days in this session.
Mr. Fentie: Never fear, Mr. Speaker, the minister will have an opportunity to discuss all those issues.
Let me point out that this much-bandied, flow-through share initiative that the minister stakes claim to began in September of 1999 at the energy and mines ministers conference in Charlottetown - a commitment from Ralph Goodale, the Minister of Natural Resources, Canada, to take that initiative back to Cabinet.
However, let me point out that the mining community in this territory has already stated, as of this morning, "Too little, too late." We're talking about jobs today, not next year, not five years down the road.
We agree oil and gas development and mining development is a must for this territory's economy. What is this minister doing now to create jobs here in this territory today, and this winter, when they're so desperately needed?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, what I'm doing is working on the economy. What I'm doing is promoting the Yukon as a good place to invest, as stated publicly by some of those investors.
What am I doing? I've just told the member opposite - promoting oil and gas development in this territory, and that work is this winter.
What am I doing right now? I'm standing in the Legislature answering questions from the members opposite about what we've been doing, and that's exactly what we'll do. We are open and accountable, and I'll gladly detail every single one of my efforts in that regard to the member opposite.
Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, the member opposite just doesn't want to listen.
Question re: Education training agreements
Ms. Netro: Mr. Speaker, the previous NDP government had a strong commitment to training trust funds, as a way of helping Yukon people develop the skills they need to get good jobs. The Department of Education negotiated a number of training agreements with community groups and Yukon College.
Does the Minister of Education support that approach to training, to help Yukon people find work here in the Yukon, particularly in their own communities?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Speaker, yes.
Ms. Netro: Mr. Speaker, in the community of Old Crow, a number of Vuntut Gwitchin people gained the skills they needed to get meaningful jobs building the new Chief Zzeh Gittlit School. Under the NDP, local people in Ross River got training and then got jobs building the new school, which the minister was so proud to open a few weeks ago. In Mayo, the Mayo training initiative trained local people in carpentry skills so that they could get jobs this winter building the new school, which was in the Liberal government's budget last spring.
Mr. Speaker, why is the minister denying these people the right to support their families with dignity this winter by killing the jobs they were trained for?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciate the question from the member opposite, in that, after we made our trip to Mayo, after we explained the situation to the residents of Mayo, the following day we did have a meeting with Chief Hager of the Nacho Nyak Dun. He did present that very situation to us, that the Department of Education had trained some individuals in the community of Mayo and they were looking forward to working the winter months on the school construction. And, in a very pleasant exchange, we looked at options for how we could keep these people working with the experience that they had garnered. So, between me and the Minister of Government Services, we indicated to Chief Hager that we are looking at options to make that happen.
Ms. Netro: In the past two years, through the Mayo training initiative, 18 Mayo residents took the carpentry apprentice pre-trades qualifier course and 12 people from Mayo completed the carpentry level one training. Because of a decision by this minister, which he has never explained satisfactorily, they won't be able to work in their communities this winter as expected.
What is the minister prepared to do for those Mayo residents who took the training in good faith and were counting on construction jobs at the school to support their families this winter?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Speaker, I thought I just did answer that question, but I will repeat: in discussions with the chief, Chief Hager, for the Nacho Nyak Dun, the Department of Education is working closely with Government Services and Yukon Housing, looking at what options are available for keeping these people working in the Mayo area over the winter months.
Question re: Nacho Nyak Dun, intergovernmental agreement
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, last year, the Government of Yukon signed an agreement with Nacho Nyak Dun First Nation outlining how the two governments would deal with each other on matters of common interest.
Will the Premier advise the House whether her government is following that agreement, particularly when it comes to the requirements of consultation?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is making reference to one of several intergovernmental accords we have signed with First Nations. We have signed intergovernmental accords with Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation and Nacho Nyak Dun, and there are others that are either under negotiation or have been signed. Certainly, the implementation of those agreements is carried out through the Executive Council Office, which is my responsibility and, to the best of my knowledge, we certainly do our best every day to live up to those agreements.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, I was speaking about the intergovernmental agreement with Nacho Nyak Dun. Last month, the Minister of Education announced that the construction of the school in Mayo would not be proceeding this fall, even though the 2000-01 budget that this minister tabled said that it would. This decision caught the people of Mayo completely off guard. The partners in education, including the school council and the Nacho Nyak Dun First Nation were blind sided by the decision.
Can the Premier tell us what consultation took place with the First Nation before this decision was made, and whether she considers that the consultation meets the requirements of the agreement between the Yukon government and the Nacho Nyak Dun.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Speaker, with respect to the consultation on the Mayo school decision, as soon as Cabinet had reviewed and made a decision with respect to cancelling the tender and postponing the construction, I got on the phone and talked to the deputy chief, Sharon Peter, and filled her in fully on what the decision of Cabinet was. I also talked to the principal of the school; I also talked to the mayor, and I also talked to the secretary treasurer of the school council. I let them know before I talked to anybody else about the decision that Cabinet had reached at that time.
Mr. Fairclough: The question was not answered. This reflects very badly on the Premier. There was a government-to-government agreement signed, and the Premier could not even answer the question. She sloughed it off to the Minister of Education. The Education Act is under review. The Liberal government says land claims is a top priority. The Liberals talk a lot about respectful relationships with First Nations; they talk a lot about providing economic certainty; they talk about restoring faith in government, yet even last week, the Minister of Education finally went to meet the people of Mayo and he didn't include the leadership of the Nacho Nyak Dun, knowing that they were at a meeting in Haines Junction. He gave a day's notice for a public meeting and calls that consultation and enough notice for the community.
What instructions will the Premier give her Minister of Education, and her other ministers, about respecting the agreements with First Nations and with the partners in education?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Here we go again. "Go. Don't go." The interim leader of the official opposition doesn't know himself whether he is coming or going. The decision reached on the Mayo school was not a political decision; it was a process decision. And we made efforts to keep the NND up in Mayo well informed, through letters, through phone calls. When the decision was made to go up to confront these people, upon the recommendation of the member opposite, we also tried to get a hold of Chief Hager to let him know that we were making a trip up that day and that we did agree to meet him the following day. It's rather surprising, Mr. Speaker, that the member opposite knew we were going and he really should have come with us, because there were people at that meeting who couldn't even remember the name of their MLA.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed and we'll proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
ADDRESS IN REPLY TO THE SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Mr. McLarnon: Mr. Speaker, I move
THAT the following address be presented to the Commissioner of the Yukon:
MAY IT PLEASE THE COMMISSIONER:
We, the Members of the Yukon Legislative Assembly, beg leave to offer our humble thanks for the gracious speech which you have addressed to the House.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Member for Whitehorse Centre
THAT the following address be presented to the Commissioner of the Yukon:
MAY IT PLEASE THE COMMISSIONER:
We, the Members of the Yukon Legislative Assembly, beg leave to offer our humble thanks for the gracious speech which you have addressed to the House.
Mr. McLarnon: C'est mon plaisir de donner mon présentation aujourd'hui. Je voudrais commencer en franCais pour le respect de l'Association des franco-yukonnais et le respect des gens français au Yukon.
What I've just said is that I would like to give the start of my speech in French to respect the Association des franco-Yukonnais and the French people of the Yukon Territory.
Today, we're going to take a bit of time to reply to the reply to the throne. Why we're going to take a little bit of time is because it is apparent that we have to get the philosophies of our party, our constituency and ourselves on record. We have to get an idea of why this document has been placed in front of us, what it is trying to say to us, who it is speaking to and who it helps.
I am pleased with the honour of going first, on behalf of my government, for the fact that I believe that the speech directly points to what I have been asked to do by my constituents.
Let's start off at the beginning. In the second paragraph, I would like to quote the speech where it states: "I know those challenges will inspire each of you to work together as Yukoners, to not only listen to your constituents, but to work constructively together to find solutions. That is the business of government." And that's what we have been doing from the start. I can say that personally, for me, it has been my number one goal. I have had the pleasure this year of walking through my riding, as promised. I go through every six months to make sure that we are being held in check. I have had the pleasure this year to hold a town hall to discuss issues with my constituents. I have had the pleasure this year to represent the people who elected me. What I have found is that if I do not do this, I will never get elected again. That was proven by the previous member, who sat in my seat before me. His lack of attention to the riding he represented dearly cost him his job.
So, we, as a government, have noticed that. We have committed to it, and will follow that. I am pleased to say that it is at the front of the speech because it does represent who we are and what we do.
Now, I would like to point out, if we go through this, the clear direction and priorities of our government, and there are seven: settling outstanding land claims; rebuilding the Yukon economy; achieving devolution; developing infrastructure; maintaining quality health care; addressing alcohol and drug addictions; and restoring confidence in government. I feel that if we do all six, we will restore confidence in government, and we are going to pay special attention to that in particular. I would like to start off with each one of these points and tell you what it means to me, what I believe in, and what I believe our government's position is on this.
Settling outstanding land claims. Now, the evolution for this has been over my entire life. In grade one, at age 6, since I could first read, one of the first things I read in the newspapers was the commencement of the land claims settlements and the commencement of the negotiations. At the time, as a six year old, I probably understood as much as most adults about how long this was going to take in our history, what kind of negotiations it would take, the amount of work and the amount of sweat and tears that would fall over this.
As a six year old, I had as good an idea about how the process would go as anybody at the negotiations that day. At the time, I remember the fears in the Yukon population about how it may divide our society, how it may set up two tiers and two classes. I remember my father not understanding and reacting like most Yukoners who did not understand the process at the time. Most Yukoners did not understand how it could be a building bridge between the societies that we see today. It is for this point that I stand firmly behind my government, and I proudly represent them, because they have made this their first priority. It is a bridge to the future, a way that our communities can work and respect each other, and it is something that all Yukoners now believe in, in one way or another.
The progress of 30 years of negotiations have brought us to the point where we want to see it done. It is the will of the Yukon electorate, and it is the will of every person sitting on this side of the House, and I am sure every person sitting on the other side.
What's the difference? Why did we get elected? One of the reasons we were elected is that the electorate had faith that the people sitting on this side would carry the fairness, open-mindedness and non-partisanship to get these deals done.
What I am asking the Yukon people when I'm making my speech is to recognise that there has already been progress. There have already been summits - sitting down and discussing issues that we can directly deal with. There have been meetings with this entire Cabinet and caucus in Ross River to talk with the Kaska Nation, to discuss the issues that they can bring forward. We went there to individually understand what was being said. There is no doubt in anyone's mind on this side what is required of us.
We will act in good faith, we will act in the traditions of a Liberal government that started land claims on the federal level 30 years ago.
What we will also act in is competence. We will bring to the table the clear direction and focus of people who have managed businesses, run government departments, and know what they are doing throughout. We do not bring bias, we bring energy, and that's what is needed right now.
I was pleased to find out that we'd organised one of the first summits - organised and carried through on one of the first summits - to talk about new relationships between First Nation governments.
I was pleased to find out that we've been working actively on a bill that was tabled by the previous government, working toward a firm relationship within the governments, that we can work on, moving forward.
This relationship, from our Premier down to a lowly backbencher like myself, is understood -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McLarnon: I'm a peon, but I'm a good one.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McLarnon: It's understood that we have to follow through on what we said. It's one of the hallmarks that I can say, through my business and my personal life, that it's something that people know me for doing, and I know that we will commit to this.
We will close the book on land claims. We will follow through, and I will get back into this later in my speech because I feel that this has so much to do with the rest of our platform that it wouldn't do it justice to speak about it as a separate issue. It is combined with a number of visions that we have in this territory but, because it is combined, it becomes the top priority but it does not stand alone as a priority.
The other one and how it relates to our next issue is rebuilding the Yukon economy. The assurances we need, the certainty that we need, to give the Yukon business community, investors from outside, and our own workers, is right here in the settlement of the land claims. We need to know who has tenure to the land, who can build, where are the payments going. We need to give people who will invest in long-term projects that certainty, and that is why land claims are important on an economic level.
I'll get into it a little further but I would like people to understand that the land claims are not being settled just on ethical grounds. On ethical grounds, it has enough reasons. It's reinforced on economic grounds. The communities that we visited and that I have been able to visit through the summer are being held back in many ways because there has been intransigence at the land claims table. These rural communities need the certainty of being able to manage their own affairs. They need the ability to be able to manage their own affairs without the interference of two levels of government. We need to create active, strong First Nations governments that can and will conduct business without the interference of upper levels of government telling them what they can and cannot do.
I saw it in Ross River. I could see, in Ross River, the very definite and possible business opportunities that were waiting for land claims settlement, that were waiting for injection, that were waiting for investors to come along. And it is for these reasons - economic as well as ethical - that we will work on it, and it is for these reasons - economic and ethical - that we will be able to be present and proudly watch as our Premier signs land claims agreements with the Minister of the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs and with the First Nation governments.
Rebuilding the economy - that's what I heard when I was walking around my constituency. On October 1, when we did our community forum, it was first on the minds of my constituents - rebuilding the economy.
Fortunately, for anybody with any business background, they know plans take time. Plans need to be followed. They cannot be adjusted by knee-jerk, throw-the-money-at-the-problem solutions. They have to be developed and followed through so everybody is on the same page as to what you're doing. This is the philosophy of the people who sit on my side. This is the philosophy of the people who wrote this throne speech. This is the philosophy of planning and looking at the problem from a longer range view than the short-sighted, throw-the-money-at-the-problem solution that we saw in the last four years.
I'm going to use an example of how throwing money at a problem can make a larger problem. I had the pleasure of sitting beside the Ambassador of Romania at a diplomatic function earlier this year. Now, he was sitting there and talking about the problem of moving the miners out of depleted coal areas and unsafe areas in Romania. What the first government did originally was to give everybody $2,000 to move out of there. It sounded like a great plan. A horrible place to live - obviously they would go. What happened instead is that they all bought television sets and new paint and stayed there. They made the problem worse. They ended up having to violently throw these people out because they could not come up with a better solution.
These are knee-jerk reactions. These are the knee-jerk reactions that we have to avoid. We have to start looking at where that $500 million is spent to get our best long-term value.
I'm fortunate in the fact that I have been blessed by operating a business, and in that sense, if I happen to make a tough decision that may not wash politically with my electorate but will improve the economy down the road, I have the conscience to know that I've made the right decision, and in the end my business will be better. My business will have a better environment to work in.
My colleagues will thank me 10 years down the road for this. That is what I have faith in. This government will make the hard economic decisions to put the plan in place. I support that 100 percent. The plan is not just short-term goals, but hitting long-term objectives and fulfilling the needs of the Yukon Territory.
How are we going to do that? Well, one of the things I heard yesterday on the news was a criticism that the throne speech lacked substance. I laughed at that, because I realized that, just talking about mining, there are more words in the throne speech than there has been in the NDP budget for the last four years. There are more ideas and progressive ways to help a resource industry base in this throne speech than we have seen in four years and possibly the last eight out of 12 years from the NDP. I am proud of this. I look at this and say to my constituents, who are people who worked in mines in Mayo and in Faro, that have moved to town, and are looking and asking, "What are you going to do for our resources? How are you going to get people back to work?" This is one way. This is the way to start it
The government does not buy mines. The Yukon attracts mines. The government can only facilitate the best use and the best possible way that they can work here, and how we can make sure that Yukoners go back to work in a sustainable, good industry that does not leave environmental problems. We will do that. This is what the throne speech outlines. The mine program in there is one effective way of doing it. It is a concrete plan, and I have true faith in us carrying it out.
What other things are in here to rebuild the economy? Oil and gas - let's talk about oil and gas. Oil and gas right now, as I have been briefed, is a huge growth area for the Yukon Territory. Gas prices are at the world's highest; they have never been higher for natural gas. The amount of gas we have in eight basins has only been satisfactorily explored to know we have it there. Only 71 sites have been drilled in the Yukon Territory - 71. To give you an idea of how low that is, 1,600 sites are done in Alberta a year. They expect 15,000 if the price goes up any further.
So 71 has just given us a taste. What has it done? Out of 71 sites, we have two producing pipelines. Gas is being sent down south. Yukon gas is heating some place in Chicago right now. If I keep going much further, we'll probably make St. Louis during this speech.
What I wanted to talk about, though, was the importance of this development. If you look at the geography of North America, and you follow the Rocky Mountain Cordilleran region, it follows right up the Yukon border. They have found surprising gas wells and finds just off the Yukon border, that are producing 10 times the amount in one well than we are producing in those two Yukon wells.
We have the ability to attract the investors. We have done that in the last six months; the investors are lining up. While there was one land sale this year, the subscription for that, and the interest in it, has been astounding - as has been reported at the Yukon Chamber of Commerce, when it was noted that this has high value and impact in the industry, what we're doing.
So, again, it's a plan. Did we go out and open everything up? No. We need to do this carefully; we need to do this responsibly. And I'm sure that that's what we are going to do.
Now, the pipeline. We have to talk about the pipeline, because really, this is the first government that has talked about it.
There was $100,000 thrown at it in a pre-election promise. About a month before the election it was finally put on the table - after four years of waiting, after the Northwest Territories had already claimed a substantial lead because of iron activity. We had the line; we had the resources; we had the infrastructure. We didn't have the leadership; so now we do.
Now we are in a situation where we've paid attention to it. We are going to ask the industry to start paying attention to the Yukon. We've showed the treaties; we've showed the legal aspects and obligations that are owed to us. We've looked at the environmental sides of this. We have brought people in as experts to show the foolishness and the uneconomic ways that are being proposed elsewhere. We are presenting a fair and effective lobby.
On a $2 billion project, you have to lobby with the big boys, and we are doing that. We have now putting together a professional and extremely competent group, which includes, in its successes, bringing the Foothills office back to this town - and I'll invite the members opposite to come to the opening on November 7, and the reason I'll do that is so they can finally meet some oil and gas people, because that will be the first time they may have done that.
Now, we are in a situation where this Foothills pipeline is just the start. We're asking the pipeline agency to be reopened. We've had effective communication with Ottawa on that. They are considering putting an office in this town, and it is something that we have put on record in asking for. The issue is on our table. The issue is on the national plate. It's on the American plate. I've seen stories on CNN. I've seen stories in Business Week. Stocks rise and fall based on information on this.
So we are going to make sure that we are ground central. We are going to be on the ground floor in the central location for pipeline negotiations in this country, and this is, again, part of an effective lobbying effort. You have to have the ears to listen to you; we're bringing them to the Yukon Territory.
Now, we are talking also about fully recognizing building the tourism potential in the Yukon Territory - a particular passion of mine. I've thrived and survived and, again, at times, struggled with my businesses in the tourism industry, but I know it's viable, and I know that it has had, in the past, some effective stewardship. At the same time, we are in a situation where we need to start turning into a destination and start finding ways to stop that traffic from continuing on to Alaska. One of the things that we are going to do through this is, finally, a holistic approach - a way to look at tourism, as it is defined in the department, as arts, heritage and marketing. What this is coming through is another day program. This will start to bring our heritage impacts in, our arts community will be presented with the opportunities to present themselves. This is coming from the fine stewardship of our minister, Sue Edelman, and I'm proud to say that she has a firm grip on it. This will involve festivals. This will involve ensuring that people get the fullest quality out of their trip to the Yukon Territory. We already hear that the Yukon stands far and above Alaska as a destination once they arrive. Now we are going to have people say it before they get here.
Now, one of the things we are talking about in our economic development plan is re-evaluation of existing economic development programs. This brings me to a story: There are two guys, first-time hunters out shooting a moose. They shoot a moose right beside the road, try to drag it toward the truck. They cannot get it there - it is getting muddy; it is getting late. So finally one guy says to the other guy, "Do you think it would be easier to pull it by the horns?" So they try it; and, for sure, it is working. They do this for about another 10 minutes. The other guy says, "This is great, eh?" He says, "Yeah, but we're getting a long way from the truck."
Now, one of the reasons I am saying that is because it is just the analogy of spending money in the government. The moose is there; we have the money. We want to get this money into the Yukoners' pockets in the best effective way. We want to represent the Yukoners in delivering services in the best way we can. So what we are doing is planning our trip to the truck with this money, with this moose. We are planning our trip there. You just don't throw money away and say, "We spent it; we're making progress." But that is what we saw for the last four years, and that is why we are re-evaluating here. That is why we are looking at it and asking what this money was spent on. Whom did this benefit? Whom did this hurt? I would honestly say the last question is the most important: whom did this hurt? These programs have created so many unlevel playing fields in many ways that we cannot even define the landscape. So we are re-evaluating the programs and redefining the landscape. It is going to be flat. We are starting from scratch; we are starting from square. These programs will exist. We understand the CDF is important to communities; we understand what it does for our groups in the territory. It will exist. It will be re-evaluated and brought forward under a responsible and effective plan.
Now, our next priority that we can talk about, when we are talking about ours, is infrastructure development.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McLarnon: I'm amazed -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McLarnon: We will be talking about schools.
I'm absolutely amazed that we had to make this one of our priorities. I'm absolutely stunned that the government before us, which prides itself on building infrastructure and prides itself on building larger government, has let everything fall into such deplorable disrepair that we are going to end up having to fix things before we can build new things.
When I had the experience of driving back from Ross River, I got to visit the ditch a few times. One of the reasons I did that is because the road had fallen into a state where it was unsafe at times. We are committing to repairing these roads. We are committing to putting money into infrastructure, such as schools so that they do not leak from huge holes. We are committing to making sure our assets and resources are protected and responsibly cared for as a homeowner or property owner would care for his or her own house.
When we take a look at the roads - the Campbell Highway right now represents a wonderful opportunity for investment in mines and also investment in forestry. Right now, unfortunately, with load restrictions, we can't really effectively have an operation there except on a seasonal basis. The Campbell Highway needs to be looked at. I'm proud that my government is starting to look at the idea that they are going to develop resources and infrastructure in areas that can help us.
The other thing that I enjoyed about the infrastructure that we're talking about is what we're going to do for seniors. I was fortunate enough to talk about the establishment of the seniors housing trust with Minister Wayne Jim. Minister Jim felt that we need to start taking into account the changing demographics of the territory and taking into account that we have a large and burgeoning seniors population in the territory itself. But, instead of throwing money again immediately at what we see as a resource need, we are going to establish a program of saving that money and then responsibly spending it when we have a consultation plan in place, when we have the ideas in place. And what Mr. Jim has done, by placing this trust fund in there, is to ensure that there will be no immediate impact on a budget when the plan comes along. This is long-term planning. This is responsible planning. Again, it's what we stand for.
Now, the other side, when we look at infrastructure - infrastructure can be lost, especially when talking about the Internet, when we're talking about the e-commerce highway. We are presenting bills that will allow for e-commerce to take place legally, under a structured framework in this territory, with protection for people to use it.
We are establishing the legalities of bringing us into the 21st century. Right now the technology is in front of us; what we have to do is establish guidelines so people know how to use it, and how to fairly operate under the system.
So infrastructure can be roads; it can be funds; it can be planning; or it can be as simple as a law.
The other thing - and I will defer to Mr. Kent to talk about this - is also infrastructure and investment in youth. Needless to say, we have taken very seriously the establishment of a youth directorate. Mr. Kent has been working on aspects and what form that will take, and I'll leave that for him to talk to. All I can say is that I'm proud to have been able to work with him on that.
Now, of number one importance for every Canadian in this upcoming federal election is health care - 53 percent. This was the saddest thing I found out when I took office in the government and started to look at what we had - what was available, what had been built for us, what was the legacy of previous governments. I was shocked and a little saddened to find out that there was very little - lots of gaps, lots of holes. Four years will not be enough to get this done. This is a larger problem. But it will happen, we will make it happen. And how it's going to happen is by starting at the root of the problem: producing healthy communities, producing healthy lifestyles. How we are proposing to do that is by proactively working on developing a lifestyle and a choice in a community that may need it, and also by instituting prevention programs. Prevention, in an effective way would save this government and this society money and grief. It would save us from having to worry about building specialized structures for sufferers of FAS/FAE, for which prevention is the only cure. It would save us from having to worry about enlarging correctional facilities. It would save us from having to worry about burgeoning welfare costs, in this case.
I feel that the commonsense approach in looking at what we need to do as a government is to start at the beginning, with prevention and proactivity, and make sure that people live healthily and understand the consequences of their actions. That will be some of the best money this government will ever spend. For every dollar we invest in prevention, the statistics are that we receive $7 down the line in savings.
So, we are going to promote it. It hasn't been done enough. It has certainly been recommended but it hasn't been done enough. It's simply not sexy. Well, if you take a look at my minister right here, "not sexy" is a really good way to describe him.
That's the ground floor. This is the way that we are shaping it. We are looking at what we have in our communities as well - how to bring our doctors and nurses to a satisfactory level, how to bring more to the territory. These are top priorities.
One of the things that we have done is encourage rural health summits to talk about these programs. One of the things we have done is ask the nurses and the doctors in the communities what we can do for them. We are finding that we are getting positive responses and I, again, will leave this to Minister Roberts to get into more detail on. All I can say is that I fully back him.
Now, I'm very proud to say - and speaking on the record of what we have already achieved - that we have brought FAS to the national table. We have brought it to ministerial discussions on a national level into provinces that have the problem but are not admitting it, into areas on the national level that have never discussed this before. And why? Because it's time that somebody stands up and says, "Recognize your flaws; recognize the problems you have, and start dealing with them." I have to credit my minister again for having the courage to do that. Knowing that there is probably no identifiable money in the program for that, he still took the time to point attention to it.
What else are we doing for the health of the community? We are working again on the Thomson Centre, and we have taken it from the original phased-in number of 72 beds to 96. Why? Recognizing first of all, the economy of building this in the one stage will be better savings -
Some Hon. Member: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Point of order
Speaker: Order please. The Member for Watson Lake on a point of order.
Mr. Fentie: On a point of order, for a matter of clarity, the 72 beds aren't at the Thomson Centre. They're in the new extended care facility, where there were 96 beds as was originally designed.
Mr. McLarnon: I stand corrected. It was originally designed at 72, with an expansion to 96, but you're right on the name. I misspoke the name. It's for the new extended care facility, which will probably have a new name by next year, but I'm sure, unless there's another Thomson we want to honour, it will be a different one. So, I stand corrected. Thank you very much.
What I was talking about is the need for this facility. We understand. And, going through right now in my constituency and with the high number of seniors in the constituency, I understand the over-crowding that we face, the fact that Macaulay Lodge is currently being used for purposes it was never designed for, the fact that, while that is being used and is jammed full, people are in hotels waiting for rooms, people are giving up living in the Yukon because they cannot find any place. The swift and prompt construction of the centre up the hill will enable us to start lifting the housing shortage for seniors in the area. And I'm proud to say that this was done immediately. It was done with direction and conviction from all of the caucus to address this problem. This, combined with the seniors housing fund, will start to alleviate the pressing need for housing in this territory. The seniors housing fund also has the ability in many ways to address problems not just inside Whitehorse, but in rural communities. How will it do this? Because it will be through the Yukon Housing Corporation, which represents the entire Yukon Territory. I'm sure that Mr. Jim, knowing the concerns of rural communities, will be bringing this forward with every piece of action that he brings through.
Now, health - the prevention side is important. When we talk about our healthy communities, unfortunately we are in last place. In many ways, we are the Arkansas of the Yukon when you take a look at the statistics that we've been given over the summer. And I do really mean this. It is an honest shame that, when I think of NDP, I think of strong social programs, but yet, we are last in this country in alcohol abuse. We are last in this country in cigarette usage. We are last in this country in incarceration of our youth. All these point to a sick society. I can't take any blame for it. I will not take any blame for it. This takes a lot of time to develop into this. We have to address the problem and fix it, and this is one of the reasons that we put alcohol and drug addictions and the servicing of the needs of this community and the people who are affected by this as the top priority. I take pride in this.
Why I take pride in this is because my family itself is affected by this problem.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McLarnon: My family itself has been affected by this problem. It has, like many other families in this territory, suffered through addictions. The problem with that is, when you are personally affected, you see the gaps, and we have lots. We had the program studied by the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Commission. I am very pleased to say it identified the gaps and has given us directions to follow. I am looking forward to the day that Minister Roberts is able to table that report; but I can honestly tell you, it has given us a firm direction, and we need this. We need this when we have a situation when your families are being divided, when our workforce is unemployable in many cases, when we look at the incarceration rates. We need this because this affects every fibre and thread of Yukon society. We have not paid attention to it in the way it needs to be. It is, I believe, our most pressing social problem. Yet, have we done anything about it? Have we really looked at it? Have we given it the attention it deserves? Only this government started it, and we will start ...
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McLarnon: Somebody just mentioned the new jail. One of the reasons the new jail was built was because it comes with programs; it comes with rehabilitation. This is, again, one of the shortfalls that the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Commission has pointed out. Within our jails, we are not able to rehabilitate people; we just keep them there. We have to address this. In our programming, the new jail will do this - a fresh start, a clean start. That is what we need to do. Unfortunately, until we clean the problem up, that jail will be used. We have to take responsibility; we have to protect the weakest; we have to protect the most feeble; we have to protect the people in society that cannot protect themselves. I am proud to be able to represent a government that has finally taken a look at one of our Yukon's most serious problems, which is alcohol and drug addictions.
When we talk about that again, we need to know how we're doing. And we're fair, and we're responsible, and we're also open to criticism, as we are today. The minister right now has committed to delivering a report card to Yukoners on how we are doing, on how health care is affecting them and how it's responding to their needs. This report card is an important component to the commitment to provide open and accountable government, and it also will point out the strengths and weaknesses of our system here. It will give direction, and it asks the questions that governments are usually afraid to ask, because it usually has resource implications and also has implications on performance. We're not afraid to ask the questions, as my performance has always been subject to review.
And this comes to our next part of this: restoring confidence in government. All of these things that we've talked about would restore confidence in government. But it still needs more work, and the reason why is that we got elected to change things here. We got elected to have a look and say what's working and what's not working. This is the criticism I heard yesterday on the radio, that it seems to be that the government is under review. Well, if there are some things wrong, you've got to fix them. For example, the Wildlife Act, we were told -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McLarnon: Well, I was asked by the other side: why solve a problem when you can spend millions reviewing it? Because apparently in the last four years, they just threw millions at it, and it never got solved. So I'm just going to be looking at it that way, saying at least we know what we'll be doing.
The Wildlife Act will be reviewed. We've already been told in the courts that there are problems with the enforcement of this. The Wildlife Act is one thing that even the courts are telling us is wrong, so we have no choice. We have to review it.
And when we look at the Liquor Act and regulations - 23 years old, archaic, hindering our tourism industry, I believe. I'm not on the committee, but I know that the Liquor Act review is necessary in our society right now, because we need to come into the modern age. We will not be able to effectively run a proper tourism industry if we don't keep up to standards and rules set elsewhere.
The Education Act review is mandated and running smoothly. It talks about teachers; it talks about the way we relate to our children, the way we spend money, and I'm proud to say that that's a necessary review as well, and I'm pleased that we've undertaken to look at this.
Again, YPAS: flawed. It was actually a good process; it made a lot of sense. Unfortunately, distrust of the process is existing now, because of people not following the rules. We need to review this. We need to look at it. We have to make sure that the rules are followed, that they are enshrined, and that everybody understands them. That's what we've done. I came out of a Yukon Chamber of Commerce meeting this weekend, where YPAS was the discussion. They were asking us, "How are you going to ensure that you follow the rules?" And the ministers responded, because that's why they were elected. That's what they do. They were elected to follow the rules and make sure they're doing it.
So YPAS is an important step, in not only restoring confidence in government, but restoring our economy, and rebuilding our economy.
Now, we also have talked about An Act to Amend the Elections Act, which is coming up right now. Now, the Act to Amend the Elections Act will address some real problems that we have in the Yukon Territory on distribution. Our hon. Speaker right now represents a very large riding - represents double the size of mine, within the same city. A judge will probably decide on whether this is going to be a fair distribution, but it certainly does speak to a problem, since I'm pretty sure that the hon. Speaker doesn't get paid double the money that I get for representation.
So we have to look at the fairness of this act, and I'm pleased to say that it's what we said we'd do before the election; it's what we said we'd do in our platform, and it's what we're doing now.
Now, we also have to look at programs within the government. The management improvement program - this addresses the fact that our workforce is ageing, that we have many people in the upper echelons of our management that may be facing retirement. It's time to start looking at the talents we have within our own government, rather than hiring from outside. So we're offering training programs to bring them forward, to give them the opportunities that they will face down the road.
So I look at this and see a positive initiative. It should have been done four years ago, but we're fixing it now.
That's one of my problems. I keep looking at it and saying all of these things sound old. All of these things sound like they have been done before, but the problem is they haven't. This is why we were elected - because the electorate was tired of waiting for them to happen. They were platitudes spoken before. They are actions now.
Now, the Yukon Arts Centre Act, which I won't go into too much detail on, also gives an infrastructure, gives a set definition of how Yukon relates to the arts community. Again, when we look at this, it has been a long time coming. This is needed. This defines roles and relationships. This defines how groups will organize themselves and respond to the government. This is a needed bill. I won't go into this too much further because there has been too much hard work done on it by Minister Edelman, and I would prefer that she give a detailed and understandable explanation, as I essentially do not want to steal the thunder of an excellent act coming forward.
When we start looking at the overview of what this is, though, it's the pride that I can receive by keeping my promise to my constituents, the pride that I can walk around to every door and say I have done what I said. This book defines me. This book defines me, not only as a member of the government but as a proud Liberal. This is Liberalism in the Yukon right now. This is going to be the structure on which we build our dreams.
Now, when we go through this, it's important that we look at the priorities of the government and it's important that we look at the expectations set for us. First of all, the consultative side of it reflects the point that we do not have all the answers. We are going out to the community. We are asking for input. The reviews that we are putting forward are asking for this input, on what we consider three key points of legislation - four, I'm sorry, four key points of legislation. We also have to give the expectations to people that you can't solve problems overnight. You can certainly band-aid them - a very expensive band-aid - by throwing money at them with no plan. You can have knee-jerk reactions, or you can plan so that they never happen again.
You can plan so they never happen again. This is what this government is doing. This government is setting the Yukon on a track that, 15 or 20 years down the road, we will have a diversified, strong, healthy economy, not the patch-up economy that we faced over the last four years with no plan, no vision. We are establishing credibility as planners; we are establishing the guidelines on how business is to be done with the government in this territory. And when it is, it's going to be responsibly.
I told you I would get back to land claims, and I just wanted to talk about them again. The reason why is because of the opportunities that they have and that they offer for all the other areas of government. The cooperation, then, will allow in the tourism sector, for example, with the amount of cultural dollars being spent through the stay-another-day program - land claims will be able to enable bands to participate more fully, the government to participate in government-to-government relationships. Again, it is something that, until they are settled, will hold us back.
When we take a look at other priorities in rural communities - in this case, it is not land claims, but it is rural. We are looking at prioritizing - and this is a strong one - not recreational centres, not hockey rinks - they may be built - but water and sewer, the health of our communities, the long-term health of our communities. This is a larger project. This has nothing to do with building circuses; this has nothing to do with creating outlets for entertainment. People need direct health care and healthy environments. The water and sewer development is a high priority for us, and we have put that in the throne speech. You asked what the specifics are. If you read the throne speech, they are there. They are talking about all these things.
We are talking about things that we have done to improve the restoration - I want to talk about things that we have done already to improve and restore the confidence in the government. These are caucus and Cabinet tours. We have gone already to Ross River. I know that Mr. Keenan will think that we are picking on him, but we have gone already to Ross River to understand problems in Ross River. On February 6, we will be in Teslin to talk about the problems in Teslin. We have also been to Faro to talk about the problems in Faro. This was full consultation, head on, with the community leaders to understand what is needed.
The filters that happen in Whitehorse, if we don't get out to the communities, often prevent full understanding. It also prevents full understanding from communities as to who we are and what we are. We went to Ross River as strangers and left as friends with the community there. We left with a strong sense that we can work together. In the community of Faro, we went to find out what we could do for Faro and what they wanted from us. The lines of communication are clear and open. In fact, we probably did so well in Faro that I'm just sizing up the size of the desk that will fit right beside Mr. Fentie very quickly, probably in the next month and a half.
So, I know Faro was a good visit. That might be exemplified for the over 100 new Liberal members in the town.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McLarnon: Well, could be. Someone has got to sit somewhere. I would honestly say that Faro was good. I would say that it didn't take them long to forget their previous member. They felt a little betrayed. They felt like someone had cheated them and taken - what have I been paid since April 17? It is approximately $2,000 per month. Someone had just stolen from them $12,000 to $15,000. When we went in there, they wanted it paid back. How they are going to do it is by putting a member over here and starting to get some real economic solutions for Faro.
Now, I was talking about Faro. Faro is a good example of a healthy community in many ways. They have gotten together and have really looked at the priorities as to how they can stay in that town. They have looked at economic development; they have looked at the health care system. Our commitment to Faro was that as long as they remain an active, proactive community, they have a place in the Yukon and on our side of the government.
When we look at all the things that we have to offer to this territory, I think one of the things we have is accountability. We are on the streets. I am happy to say that I take tickets at Claim Jumpers games. If anyone wants to come in and talk to me directly, they can find me there every Saturday or Sunday. We do town halls. Mr. Roberts and Premier Duncan did a town hall. Mr. Kent and I did a town hall. We do walk-arounds. I walked around - it seems to snow the exact day you want to do this - with my executive assistant. Every one of my constituents knows my executive assistant's name now. They know that the person on the other side of that phone -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McLarnon: Yes, yes.
They know that person on the other side of the phone, who that person is, who can be accountable, what kinds of questions I can help them with, and what I can't.
And there are a couple of things. One of the things that they always ask me is, "Why did the NDP screw up so much in the last four years?" And I can't tell them. I don't know. So there are a few things I can't tell them.
I just wanted to talk about some other opportunities that we presented, about the hard work that our Minister of Tourism has done. Not only has she introduced a holistic view to tourism and a way to bring people in and keep them here through the stay-another-day program, but our commitment to heritage.
Heritage is addressed in the fact that the museum strategy has started. The discussions have started within the industry and the heritage community. Why this has started is because of the need to find a better way to have museums represented and heritage sites represented within our society.
The heritage funding that goes along with that will reflect these needs. And again, it's planning. It's a long-range look. It's not just throwing money at it. It's not building a centre, which I had the experience of working in for two and a half years. Unfortunately there are no buy-ins, but everybody knows that they have to work at it and build it into something. It is looking at what we need, what the gaps are in this territory, and we promise, through the effective work of our minister, that that will be done.
Also, we're co-operating with what is probably the hardest working group in the Yukon tourism industry, and that's the Yukon Convention Bureau. We are partnering, in recognizing the fact that they need resources and they need money to bring more money to the Yukon Territory.
The Yukon Convention Bureau is committed to making the Yukon a convention destination. They worked very hard in being able to bring the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce to the Member for Dawson's riding, to Dawson City next year.
They're there to fill our shoulder seasons up. They are there to extend our season. This is the biggest thing we need in the Yukon Territory right now for our tourism industry. Right now we need to extend from the three months of the season to the five months that are possible. And I'm pleased to find out that their hard work has been recognized and acknowledged by our government.
We also have to look at ecotourism and the needs of the ecotourism industry and sector. And this is reflected in other parts, the review of YPAS, making sure that the ecotourism people are at the table, that they're represented along with other businesses in discussing these issues. We also need to talk about the fact that, for ecotourism, we need to maintain our reputation for maintaining our sacred and beautiful lands. And that will be reflected in our continued opposition to the use of the 10-02 lands for oil and gas development. The continued opposition to that in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a political position that every person in this caucus and Cabinet is willing to state publicly. We stand on side of the people who support the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And we will not back down. Oil and gas is one priority, but not there.
When we're talking about protected spaces, we also need to talk about the work that's being done on the process for DAP. It's working; it's moving ahead. It's not reflected as far in this. I just wanted to tell you that it's a priority of our government and a priority of our minister to continue this.
Now, when I got elected I was asked to ensure that I kept my promises from the book, from the platform. If I were to be a real candidate, that would be how I would be judged. I have kept copies of the platform for people to ask and judge against me. Using the words of our Premier, I ask them to check against delivery. In six months in government, I can proudly say, it's already starting to show up. They've already got notice of what we're doing. In the next session, I would say, over the next 30 days, it will be coming out, and that's the thing that I'm proud about.
Now, I want to get back a little bit onto the health care system, because we have found that we need to address a lot of things in here, especially the alcohol and drug services. Having looked through it with my family as to where the gaps were and what was needed, I found out why we have such a problem in this territory. Under the previous government, it was almost impossible when you needed help, when you asked for help, to get an appointment. That still exists today. We're changing that. But it was in that situation. When you have hit that bottom, when you need that help, when you recognize that you have the problem, the help has to be there for you. I think this would be the first thing that we have to look at in the treatment area.
The other side we have to look at in the treatment area, though, is the prevention of people starting, and this is one of the most tragic things that I saw when I was going to high school. And I still see people who are in the trap that they got caught in at high school of drinking too early. We have to find ways to get out to the communities that there are alternatives, and these are healthy living and healthy communities - healthy communities, healthy living.
We are in a situation where this message needs to reach every person in the territory, not just the people we identify as problems. But every Yukoner must know and help when they realize the problem we have and the scope they have. One thing I have told people is that I wish they could have my job for a second, just to see what we have to do and the mountain we have to climb to fix this problem.
I ask the opposition, when this legislation comes through, to recognize that we have this problem, to recognize that solutions need to be found, to recognize the status quo. And this is not to diminish any efforts made by the opposition in the previous four years, but the efforts thus far have failed us and failed us miserably. To recognize that somebody is taking this problem and attempting to tackle it because it affects almost every constituency in the Yukon Territory, affects families, the people who vote for you. It's a hidden problem in many ways, but it is there and it costs us in lifestyle, it costs us in government programs and money, it costs us in deaths and injuries, and it costs us in grief and tears. And I ask the opposition to work closely with us on this to ensure that we can deliver the best program possible, rather than poking holes in it for political gamesmanship. This is too important. I ask for all-party resolution to understand that this is an important subject and that we don't need this held up. We can certainly use constructive advice, but the Yukon can't wait.
If one more child dies in a fire caused by an alcohol-related event, one more child is molested because of an alcohol-related event, one more family breaks up, one more person dies in a drunken car crash, we cannot afford that. It could be, in this case, your brother, your son, your daughter, your wife. So do not stop it. This is one thing I ask: hands off. Hands off. Work together.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McLarnon: The question across the way is, what if the proposal is no good. In that case, we would ask for criticism. You do it well, but we would certainly ask, when it comes out, that you consider coming and looking at this with us, rather than recognizing it as a political football, which unfortunately happens far too often in politics.
Now, we were talking about a few things. We were talking about the changes that we are bringing forward. One of the things that we are bringing forward - it is joked about, but it has worked - is a special relationship with Ottawa and the ability to talk to them, government-to-government, about things that we need here. There have been requests, and there has been information given to the federal government on the need for a northern economic development agreement. Since 1996, we have not received economic development money. We have been negotiating hard and fast for this. It is something that we feel we have the right to. We feel that we have been left out of the process. When we elect a federal Liberal MP, we will certainly have a little more voice in getting that to our table. The economic development agreement, as you remember, in 1996, did something; it helped. Businesses were able to expand their infrastructure. There were businesses that were able to achieve new markets and new customers. It also was, in many ways, not a good program. It was not administered through proper planning. It was granted in many cases. Money was thrown away. This government will endeavour to lay the rules out on any economic development agreement. Work has already been started on any possible implementation of this. Rebuilding the Yukon economy will probably need kick-starts. Pipelines, economic development agreements, mines these will need to be kick-started. The planning will be there to make sure that, once the kick-starts are there, the motorcycle rides very well.
Now, this gets us to the next point. We have talked about planning and working with the federal government on making sure that economic development agreements are achieved. We also are working with them on devolution. Devolution is probably the most key element in my mind to what happens in the Yukon over the next two years, if that is the time frame. I am hoping so. I am told that negotiations are going well, but this is for the negotiators and the Premier to discuss in more detail.
As I see devolution, it allows us to take control of what we are and what we can govern in this territory. It allows us to start looking at problems that have been inflicted on other areas of the Yukon Territory, like Watson Lake because we have had no clear timber harvest agreement. It will allow us to look at direct problems with mining and cleanup and will allow us to control a lot of our own destinies. We are moving forward in this, and we are moving forward with the knowledge of the First Nations.
We are looking forward to being able to work and discuss this issue. One of the places where we will discuss this issue, for example, is at the forum we are going to hold with the four First Nations of the Ta'an, White River, Kluane and Carcross-Tagish. It will be a common forum. These are Yukon-specific issues. I am sure devolution will be on the table. Am I worried about it? No, because we are going to be working on a fair, honest settlement that takes into account the realities and needs of all Yukoners and First Nations, especially in this area.
We also look at the fact of how we are doing in devolution - for example, in the MINE program. Right now, it is being jointly administered and being worked on with DIAND. Well, the way I see the MINE program in the future is that it will be the sole ability of the Yukon territorial government to take control of its industries and resources.
I am looking forward to -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McLarnon: There are lots of resources left in the Yukon Territory.
Now when we look at our resources, when we look at how we are going to control them in the Yukon Territory - I said I'll be continuing to refer back to this - the partnerships established between the Yukon government and the Yukon First Nations are vital and extremely important. This is again why settling land claims is our top priority, because we know that the management of these resources has to be shared with all Yukoners. It has to be understood by all Yukoners to benefit each individual's livelihood and each individual's right to live in the Yukon in a clean, safe environment.
That's why we've been looking at settling land claims and devolution. These are things that can be negotiated in parallel. They can be talked about, because it's an ongoing process, it's a living process. They don't have to be exclusive of each other. I'm extremely pleased to find out that our government has taken the attitude that negotiations can happen on a number of different levels. When you're selecting priorities, the priorities can be worked on if the effort is put in there, rather than finding out when we're going to give our next $3 million out to our favourite interest group, like the other side has done.
Government is a little different. The 10 people that sit on this side represent urban Yukoners. We do have rural representation, such as the Member for Mount Lorne and the Member for Lake Laberge. We will have one from Faro in a little while. We also understand that we need to get out in the communities. We've done that; we'll continue to do that. And the rural points of view that are being reflected are also coming from individual visits to the communities. Myself, I've had the opportunity this year to visit Watson Lake, Teslin, Ross River, Keno, Haines Junction, Destruction Bay and Dawson City. I'm pleased to find out what's going on.
We are certainly accessible out there. When we have problems, we've gone to face them; the Mayo school being an example. We've gone to address issues there. We have no fear of going in and explaining our positions, because we feel our positions are fairly based.
And there is no hiding; there's no cowering. He certainly has no problem finding us. I don't think anybody's got an unlisted number. People can call us, and they have. They won't have any problem in the future.
That's one of the things that I've found. One of the reasons that I'll be re-elected is because people can talk to me. That's because they've asked me to represent them, and I feel I have. They don't have to find me at my house - even though they have, they've come to my house quite a bit, and I've gone to theirs.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McLarnon: Just looking for you.
One of the prime examples of how we've been working on land claims, a step at a time, to build up trust in government, also to build up a relationship, is the Kaska nation, and what we've been able to negotiate with them.
The Kaska nation has developed an economic development agreement on oil and gas - something unachievable under the previous governments apparently. Apparently they had a whole bunch of commitments to, but instead of actually achieving it, a month before the election they just gave them $750,000. So that's one way of negotiating a deal, or getting some votes, I guess, is if you can't get the deal, just throw some money at the problem.
Again, this is what this government won't do. This government will stand and deliver, and make life better for Yukoners; not just in the short term, but in the long term.
Now, since taking office, this government has aggressively promoted the Alaska Highway pipeline, with producers and pipeline companies, and has made substantial progress. I've already talked about Foothills coming in. I've already talked about the National Pipeline Agency possibly being resurrected.
One of the things that I have not talked about, though, is the absolute interest that we are receiving from the Alaskans. The Yukon Chamber of Commerce was filled with Alaska Chamber of Commerce representatives, all representing oil and gas companies; representing companies with pipeline interests, such as Alyeska. We looked and listened to them, and they are coming here to see.
We are seeing Yukon consultants being flown down to Calgary to discuss and talk about the Yukon Territory and the economic situation and the environmental situation here.
We are seeing Yukoners already going to work for the pipeline. We are seeing the impacts happening. We need, as a House, to stand together unanimously, to support this.
We need to be seen, like they are in the Northwest Territories with their consensus government, as 100 percent behind this. The people along the north highway and south highway need it. There are long-lasting jobs there. People in depressed areas of the Yukon right now and people without work need it. They need the training. They want the experience. This is something that is just the start. It is just the commencement of the very tip of the iceberg of the potential that could be unlocked in the Yukon Territory.
I again ask members on the other side to come forward and sign papers, standing alongside us to say that they are 100 percent behind the Yukon government's efforts to bring a northern pipeline through the Yukon Territory. Without that commitment - and of course it is easy for us to stand up and say that you don't support it. The reason why is because the opposition will sit and criticize every positive action taken to bring this pipeline here. So, remove the political burden from the opposition by standing alongside the government saying that it is unmistakably a good idea and something the Yukon needs. I don't think anyone would argue with you, and the opposition would gain votes.
Also, at that point, we could present this pipeline to the Yukon people as a viable alternative. Right now, we don't have the ability to present the united front, like our neighbour does because of consensus government over there. We are still trucking ahead. We have a competitive advantage of being closer to Alaska, being a more direct route and being a better route, environmentally checked over with permits ready to be placed. We just now have the political need to present a united front to go over that last step. So I am asking you again to find a way to cooperate with us, rather than come up with senseless opposition that doesn't do anybody any good.
Now, when we talk about other economic development, I am pleased to say that our government has been working hard in the areas of information technology, under the leadership of three areas. Education has been bringing information technology forward in computers. Mr. Jim has brought it into the Yukon government system, and they are upgrading in that area. And again, we have Connect Yukon, through Community and Transportation Services.
The IT development is important because this is how we're going to achieve our markets outside. We have school-based programs right now and we will be looking forward to bringing out a site on October 26 that will be discussing a virtual centre on competency training. We're providing the acts, we're providing the training, and we will be able to provide the platform to bring us into the 21st century and online.
One of the things we have committed to is retaining a one-tiered health care system in the Yukon Territory - a Liberal promise. There'll be some argument about who invented health care. We think we did. But one-tiered health care means that we have to be able to deliver the services in the Yukon Territory in a responsible and easy-to-understand fashion. We have already started looking at efficiencies within the department to be able to deliver the system better, to make sure that we are on top of problems before they happen. We have looked at relationships with the communities.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McLarnon: Yes, we are. Unfortunately, it's done. Somebody asked if that's what we're supposed to be doing, but what we have done is actually do it. It was something that wasn't done for a long time, so I guess I'm proud of that.
Someone asked me why the health care system is in such a mess, and I'll refer them back to one of the statements I made earlier, which was that problems can't be fixed immediately. This was endemic. This happened from four to six to eight to probably 12 years of taking us down the wrong paths. We have gone down so many wrong paths, I'm surprised that we found the right one, but we have, and that's what I'm asking -
Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible)
Mr. McLarnon: Now, when we talk about health care, again, we have to talk about prevention. I have gone back to it and I really need to talk about it more, because prevention not only helps us in areas of alcohol and drug services and FAS/FAE, but it also helps us in the problem we are developing right now with HIV and the spread of AIDS.
The education in this area has been good, with the limited funds that it has had. We are, again, talking about being able to prevent a long-term problem by simply placing the resources with the people who know how to prevent it, know how to stop it, getting into the education system, talking about the coordination of efforts. Our government system has, for too long, been structured like the army, top down, and bottom up, no side talking, no lateral conversations, no information between departments. We have now seen the Education and Health start working together. We have now seen Health working with Community and Transportation Services on road problems. We are now seeing a lot of talking between ministers. One of the things I am most proud of is the way that we do business on our side. Full caucus meetings, everything is discussed. We have input - every one of us - on decisions. Communication is a must; everything needs to come out and the cooperations have been set up. I am extremely proud of the way my colleagues and Cabinet work. I think that they have set up a new standard of communications.
I would like to finish up in about, what, an hour? We would like to talk about, again, infrastructure, and about the fact that infrastructure does not mean just roads. We have talked about the fact that infrastructure could mean laws; it might be infrastructure needed to set up e-commerce and protection of e-commerce. We have talked about the fact that it can be funds, like the Yukon Housing fund for seniors. We have also talked about the fact that it can be buildings. This is one of the things that we will bring forward. Discussions of the Mayo school have come forward, and I think that our minister has spoken ably on this today. We said it will be built; the Mayo school will be committed. For 26 years they have waited; we are doing it properly. The program is delayed and will be reflected in a better deal for all Yukoners. This is called spending money responsibly.
This is called understanding that when we spend money on our side, every dollar that we spend has to be accounted for as if it were our own, as if we were talking to our own family about what we are spending. Now, we are in a situation where, when we finish this - this is one of the issues that grabs the public's attention, and grab it hard for a while. When it's finished in four years, we will be held accountable for building a school, not for delaying a school. There will be a minister's name on that plaque, and we will be able to point proudly at this and say, "See, one Liberal government equals a built school." We kept our commitment to building it; we are going to do it. The planning - and I'd like to correct somebody. Somebody said that nothing has been started on that. Well, in fact, last time I checked, pouring concrete and paying contractors to put a concrete pad down is substantial progress and a good start.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McLarnon: That's right. I think that the only batch plant in Mayo for a long time had to do with mines. We put one in there; there was work done, and I'm proud to say we've done it. We ended 26 years of waiting for that community. And we are going to do it right. And that's what we're standing for: accountability, responsibility, straight-forwardness, openness. And that's what we are. None of these decisions are made in closed doors. These decisions were made responsibly with all things taken into account. We are going to get the best deal for Yukon taxpayers. We are going to make sure that the school is built and built right.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McLarnon: Well, you would know all about that, Mr. Jenkins.
Speaker: Order please. Order.
Mr. McLarnon: Yes, I withdraw that. The hon. Member for Dawson would know all about repeating himself. I do apologize.
I would like to finish up by talking a little bit about forestry and mining. Talking about the need for all of the things we've done and said in the development of the economy. The settling of land claims will improve this. Devolution will improve this. Rebuilding the Yukon economy will improve this.
We've talked to the Yukon Chamber of Commerce. They were satisfied with the agenda that we put forward. This is the business community that we talked to. We have had full consultation with our business community and we are open to discussion. Actually, I'm on a very good, friendly basis with them. This is reflective of the job we're doing. The fact is that the idea has come out in the public that we are doing responsible planning for it. We are not acting rashly. We are reviewing funds to make sure that we get a big bang for the buck. That is what this government stands for. It stands for strength, accountability, planning, responsibility and access. I am proud to be part of this government. I am proud to stand up with every one of my colleagues and say that they are doing a good job. I am proud to be able to have made the first speech in the House on this reply to the throne speech.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government said they were going to do things a new and better way, and the member opposite did not even respect you calling order. He continued to speak and just shoved the Speaker aside. Really, is that the respectful government that they say they want to be over the next three or four years?
Mr. Speaker, the throne speech that was presented to us yesterday, in my mind, has very little in it. In six months, the Liberals have presented two throne speeches to the Legislature. There were two in six months. That is pretty unusual. The only difference between the two of them is that one has a lot more words than the other. They are both empty and hollow. We will point that out as we go through this throne speech.
As a matter of fact, normally, a new government comes in and makes a throne speech. The media watches. This one didn't even generate enough interest in the public to be a lead story.
I have to say, following the Member for Whitehorse Centre, who has used examples of pulling a moose by its horns, I hope he wasn't trying to express to everyone that he is a true Yukoner in the way he does things. I was quite surprised that he would even bring that up - dragging a moose by the horns that was killed on the side of the road. Where was he dragging it to - the side of the road? Maybe he is the one responsible for all the gut piles on the Dempster Highway that everyone is complaining about.
This throne speech doesn't have very much in it. It's empty. It's hollow. Members want to add more to it later or try to bring details to it later, but this throne speech is telling the general public that the Liberals are going to be focusing in this area over the next four years. This is what the Liberals are all about. We waited for four years, when they were in opposition, to see where the Liberals were. Where were they? Sort of sitting on the fence. They would go from one side to the other. One time they're environmentalists and the other time they're pushing mining. Nobody ever knew what they were all about, and they didn't express this in the election either. They had no positions; no policy. Their policies now, of course, come in the form of motions.
So, the general public is anxiously waiting to see what the Liberal government has to offer them as far as direction and what they're all about. What were they given?
Now, the second throne speech, of course, has a lot more words in it. It does not, in my mind, express the needs of Yukoners over the next four years. It lacks in many areas. There's no social agenda in this. The Liberals sure spoke up a storm during the election as to what they were all about, but they can't even express it in the throne speech.
There's very little as far as an environmental agenda in this throne speech. It surprised me a bit. We were criticized every day in this House with regard to environmental issues that the government had brought forward. YPAS was something the Premier said would not work and couldn't work. It was bad. Yet the Minister of Renewable Resources was in Old Crow. No problem with that. A management plan was a result of this. A protected area actually came out of the protected areas strategy. It was the result of that.
What they wanted to do and what they were campaigning on doing was involving the Chamber of Mines more in the process. That was their platform, but they steered away from that. They didn't put it in this throne speech - flip-flops.
Their platform said that it's all about the future. Well, this throne speech is all about the past. It's all about NDP initiatives, which they try to take credit for.
It's good to go and cut a ribbon, isn't it? In six months you cut a ribbon. This is the change in government that they say is better for Yukoners - the Minister of Education up in Ross River cutting a ribbon. Well, you know what, he didn't even have enough in him to invite the MLA for the area to even speak to the community. That's the new government.
It's embarrassing that that particular minister would even do that. I would think that he would have at least invited him to say a few words. After all, they are his constituents, and it is his hard work that eventually had the school built in that community.
We wonder where the direction comes from. There was no invitation to MLAs in their riding to meetings that they set up. The one in Mayo, for example, that the Minister of Education was so happy to announce now - now that it has already happened - that there was a meeting there. One day's notice - that's what he gave to the community. One day's notice - and he knew full well that the leadership of Nacho Nyak Dun was in Whitehorse, even to meet with the Premier the next morning. Do they expect the leaders to run back and forth to the communities? I asked the member to go and meet with the community, to face them, to show them and tell them, at full face, what the government was up to and to answer to them why the cancellation of the school took place.
But no, I believe they were trying to hide from the First Nation, but the community, even though there was short notice, had 60 people out to that meeting expressing their concerns.
So, this is the new government, restoring confidence in government. That's what they tell people they're going to do. Give them the example the next time. They didn't invite the MLA to say one word at a ribbon-cutting. They didn't invite the opposition, when the release of the management plan for the Fishing Branch took place.
One thing they're good at, though, is rewarding their friends. That's the new government. They reward their friends well. There are no monies for other things - additional expenses, maybe, on the school, for $168,000. But pay off their friends, give them a good job? Sure. But the jobs for the communities were just not there. It doesn't matter to the members opposite anymore - hey, they're in government, and they're there for four years. Community people seem to come behind.
There is very little mention in this throne speech about the environment and environmental agenda - no mention whatsoever about the environmental agenda. There is a little bit about White Pass. They had to mention that. It was in the platform. What they didn't say is that the protected areas strategy didn't work, but it formed a protected area at the Fishing Branch - the biggest one, 6,400 square kilometres - done by the community. But they were going to change that and invite the Chamber of Mines to be part of the process. That was the big push.
Now, they have changed their views. It's different in the throne speech, because the mines aren't there anymore. They don't have any major issues regarding the environment. There is nothing green there. They don't even talk about alternative energies or commitments for a wind turbine - nothing like that in here. So, what do people of the Yukon have to look forward to in this regard? Well, very little, because there's nothing in the throne speech at all about that.
It does not even mention anything about women in this throne speech. That sure was something that was talked a lot about when the Liberal government was in opposition - but there was nothing, no commitment there at all. Anything they are following was built by the NDP government. Thank goodness we had a good budget that can take them through four years, because they have nothing new here at all - no planning. They sure talk a lot about land claims, though. It is a number one priority, they say; but as you heard from the previous speaker, it sure was not there. Most of what you heard from the previous speaker was about pipelines, and it was about mining; it was not about land claims. That certainly came last. It is behind that. It is not a priority any more.
Maybe what they can do as a government is table how much work has been done since we left. I do not believe there were very many hours of negotiations that took place, at all. It will be up to the First Nations to ratify their agreements, not this government in trying to push separate tables or whatnot to get things done. We wonder, if there is such a change in the way they approach land claims negotiations, where it is going, whether there is a change in the UFA as a basis for negotiations. Certainly, the Yukon people deserve more. They need more vision, and this document does not give all that much. It has got a lot of NDP initiatives - 96 beds, YPAS, all these old issues, nothing new, as far as new thoughts from the Liberal government.
You would have thought that, in six months, they could have come up with something. They had all the time they needed. This is the second throne speech. How often are we going to get one? Every six months?
People need more vision for the economy. They need more vision for the social programs. They need more vision for women's issues. They need more vision of the environment. This throne speech does not provide that. So where do you get it from? Again, it puts the pressure on NGOs, communities and municipalities to try to lobby hard for changes for what they think is best and will make a healthier community.
The Liberals talk a lot about a clear direction, but the government is wandering aimlessly with no leadership, certainly no direction and no vision for where it wants to go in the Yukon. We have our Premier who says land claims is really important, but what was her focus over the last six months, travelling all over Canada, meeting with oil companies, having dinner, having the Prime Minister send his jet to pick her up for dinner. It's only $30,000; isn't that fiscally responsible? You know the same offer was offered to Piers McDonald, and he refused it because he couldn't justify the money. But for the Premier - no problem, spend the money. After all, it's just Yukoners' taxpayer dollars along with the rest of Canadians. I don't believe they think that affects Yukoners at all. Part of their -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Fairclough: Well, with the big surplus that the NDP left behind, about which every one of them had said, "It's only $14 million. Wait until the audit comes back, you'll all see that it is different." What the Liberals are trying to do right now is spend it down to try to say it's smaller than what it is.
Pretty good, isn't it?
The throne speech says that we would be faced with many challenges and, of course, every government would be faced with that. Our biggest one, which we have worked on for so many years, of course, is land claims, and that has a speed of its own. Members opposite will know that, too. If First Nations want to do things differently, then that's how fast the process goes, and the Yukon government is not going to be speeding that process up and telling them what to do, because it's not their claim.
The Member for Whitehorse Centre said that he began to read at grade 6 but he understood the negotiation process of the land claims as well as anybody else at age six. Well, what happened? Since then, did he just slide backward and forget about how the process is even supposed to go about, because I don't believe the government understands the process now. Maybe he should have got involved in negotiations at that point, on behalf of Yukon, but maybe, thank goodness, he didn't because I don't think we would have had the claims we did.
And this is another thing the Member for Whitehorse Centre said - that the Liberals started land claims 30 years ago. Does he still believe that? I think that statement is wrong, because it's the First Nations that came forward to start the claims. They're the ones who came forward and said, "We want something different." They were losing opportunities out there. They're the ones who made the initial contact. I'll show you a picture that's in my office right now of the members who went down to Ottawa in 1972. They gathered together here in the Yukon. It was not the federal Liberals who came down here to say, "Aboriginal people in the Yukon need a land claim."
I could tell you, if the federal Liberals came down to try to settle a land claim and give aboriginal people a claim to work with, it certainly wouldn't be what we have now.
Indian agents used to come to the Yukon to aboriginal people across the Yukon and offer them a tent, you know. Nothing to do with anything to improve any social life. Maybe a stove. That was the Indian agent that came down from the Liberals at that point.
So I was quite surprised that the Member for Whitehorse Centre would even say that; try to give credit to the federal Liberals for starting land claims negotiations. I would say that they're stalling on most of them. They're a key player in the land claims negotiations right now. I'm sure that Vuntut Gwitchin would not have the claim they have if the Liberals had come in and settled one 30 years ago with them.
That's an insult to aboriginal people, what the member said, because for the last 25 to 30 years, so many people have put their heart and soul into negotiating a land claim agreement, with so many ups and downs. There were so many times that it had stopped. Many times there was a blockage in the progress because of an election. Now here comes another federal election and another delay - a change of ministers.
In the Yukon, we have First Nations with final agreements that have been sitting there for four years, and it wasn't up to YTG to ratify their agreements for them. We just sign it off later.
They need things worked among governments - the federal government and the territorial government. Ta'an, for example. For many of the First Nations that are quite close to finishing off in negotiations, there are only a few things left. Others are so far apart right now, whether it's land quantum or dollars that they are talking about. I certainly did not see the Liberal government coming out in support of the First Nation when it comes to forgiveness of the loan. Certainly, the federal government is out there forgiving everybody else who has huge, millions of dollars of loans out there. How come the First Nations did not get it? They come last.
As a matter of fact, go back and look at the history of the Liberal Party in Ottawa. You will see that from day one they have always suppressed the aboriginal people. I certainly would not like to see this government support that. It is still happening today.
Now, of course, land claims is the government's number one priority - their number one priority. Have their actions really said something different over the last six months? It's the number one priority, and we have had the Premier all over Canada and everywhere else. She said she was going to stay close to home; but, no, she has trips planned to China, trade and investment. Is that going to happen? Because the Premier was definitely against that, Mr. Speaker. I bet you any money that she will be taking that trip to China.
They say they have a vision of improving the economy. Two things the Liberals focus on: mining, and oil and gas.
Mining: if the price of metals goes up, you'll see a lot more activity in the Yukon. The activity is not going to go up if the price of fuel goes up. Fewer and fewer people are going out there and mining. Some people like that, by the way.
Oil and gas - a pipeline going through - $2 billion. I thought it was around $6 billion, but I guess there's some Liberal math here. It's $2 billion now. It has been reduced by $4 billion. It was a $6-billion project to take place, and certainly there were monies put in the budget for it. I'm glad to see the Liberal government at least using that money. It's no problem to fly around and meet with people, but when it comes to the grassroots, like the people in Mayo, they couldn't do it. They couldn't do it; they didn't pay attention to the contracts. As a result, people are out of work. Just think of yourself. Would you like to be out of work for a winter? It's pretty tough for the people in a community like that, where there's not a whole lot going on.
Not only did the Mayo school project affect people working, but this was about three years in the making and planning. And we followed a process, by the way, and I hope the Liberal government will continue to follow a process and not have Grey Mountain School interfere with that process just because it's political now. The school councils made a priority list and the Department of Education has been working with them. I know that Selkirk Street School and the school in Pelly and the one in Carmacks are next on the list. Let's see where the Liberal government goes with that.
As a matter of fact, they have moved toward that in preparing the grounds for expansion of the Tantalus School in Carmacks. It will be very interesting to see where the priorities of this government go and how political it is, rather than reaching back to the community people and into organizations to get some direction.
I can tell you that it's still in the newsletter from the members opposite that the Grey Mountain School will be built. And the one in Pelly Crossing, by the way, is not a replacement of the school. It's just replacing the trailer units that they still use.
Now, when the Liberals were in opposition, they sure cried a lot about how the floor wasn't quite right in one of the gyms in Whitehorse, and they had to get it replaced because someone hurt themselves. You go along into the schools in the communities, and they've got cracks and tears in the same floors that were put in. It's good enough in the communities, but the people in Whitehorse, I guess, deserve a different type of flooring to make it easier for them.
Now, the platform lays out the seven points that Liberals feel they should be graded on over the next few months and years into their mandate. But I think there's more than that they could be graded on. Some of the points just don't make sense here, too. How much effort would be put into, for example, achieving devolution? The previous speaker spoke about how negotiations for devolution are going along well. That's what was said, that negotiations were going along well. Well, there's a date that's already set - April 1 - for Yukon to take over that. That negotiation is already done. We are waiting for the Yukon Act so that we are able to have devolution.
I hope that the government is preparing themselves to take on this responsibility and maybe get into action a little bit more, and support the communities and the business that are out there - something they haven't done and are not doing at this point, for example, in Watson Lake.
Right now, people are leaving because there is very little industry there.
Achieving devolution - I'm wondering if the dates have been moved. I wonder if the Liberal Party can tell us if they have been moved up from April 1, and if it's going to actually happen quicker than what we thought it would. Or is that date of April 1, 2001, still a solid date? What happens? Are we prepared right now?
One of the things they wanted to do was to have those programs devolve to the Yukon, so that we could best manage the resource. Well, where is that in this throne speech? Where is the preparation work for achieving devolution? There is none. You're telling Yukoners that you're not doing anything to prepare for devolution. There are no strategies in place. Forest strategy - what are you going to use? The NDP initiatives all over again because you can't think of anything new on your own? Or, maybe it's the high-priced help you have who are not giving you the right direction.
What about rebuilding the Yukon economy? What's in there for that - mining, oil and gas? What else? People in the Yukon feel that we have a lot more than mining and a lot more than oil and gas here. It's all fine and dandy when that takes place, but certainly there are a lot of other things we could be doing.
Why is the Liberal government not supporting diversification - doing other new and innovative things? I thought this was all about the future.
But this is all about the past, and all the NDP initiatives. That means, if you're not putting it in your throne speech, you're going to throw it out. Diversification, trade and export - things are under review. When are they going to be finished, and who's doing the review? Are you going to change things to your liking, as you did with YPAS? They didn't like what was in the protected areas strategy so they changed it a little bit to their liking.
During the election, they said they would involve the Chamber of Mines in the process of selecting these protected areas. Well, of course, they were in there anyway, but they wanted to give the Chamber of Mines more say than anybody else who is on that committee - more than the environmental community. Now they're changing their minds, of course, but in the meantime, they'll change a few things to make it easier and more suitable for them.
But there are no plans in here for protected areas - just the review, that's all. Just the review. It wasn't the New Democrats who put the strategy together, it was Yukoners. Yukoners put the protected areas strategy together, and ever since it was passed and brought forward to this Legislature, the Liberals have had nothing good to say about it at all. Now, I bet they're going to use it. Change it a little bit, but they won't go through the same public consultation as the NDP did. No, they'll railroad it through, just the way I believe the Liberal government is going to react when it comes to motions and so on in this Legislature; they will railroad it through.
It doesn't matter what the aboriginal people say - boom; gone. People in Old Crow? Look at the school bus situation. The Minister of C&TS said that the people didn't want it. She knew what the community people said. She didn't even respect the fact that the MLA has been working with the community on this, and the First Nation, and it was a priority. Yet she still made that statement, that no, the community did not want it. Until they went to see the community, and what? What happened to that? The New Democrats were right again.
One of the seven-point plans here, of course, is developing infrastructure, which I think is one of the keys to having people make Yukon their home, but Liberals are not doing it. They are doing the opposite. Even what they say here - developing infrastructure, like Connect Yukon - how come it all of a sudden changed? It flowed from one department to the other, and all of the sudden it changed, just like that - boom. The whole project is not the same as what it was before.
I think the Liberals will change their tune, though. Action is happening in Faro. They were going to try to put the support behind the project itself, and they will have the same Internet access as people in Whitehorse. That will be one that they bring forward. How they can change in six months is incredible.
At one time, rural Yukon did not matter. When it comes to the election, all the sudden, it does. That is the new government. Restoring confidence in government is what the Liberals call it. Better relations with First Nations and better relations with communities.
There was mention of our highways in here. I was quite surprised about the wording itself, but there was mention about our highways and how, because of the decrease in the capital budget, the highways are in a crisis situation. I wonder why they use that word. I would think that if any road is in a crisis situation, you would get people off the highway and not let them travel it. I would bet you the Liberals won't do that. We will clear some brush. That will bring it up to grade. But it saved at least one vehicle on the road and a moose.
Nothing in here speaks to wildlife.
The highways are in bad shape, according to the Liberals, and they are going to throw all kinds of money at them. I would say, well, take a trip to Teslin. How's that highway?
There are times that you cannot do improvements and maintenance to highways. And I'll give you an example because - you guys are all green over there, you can laugh at it. I'll give you an example.
It's quiet now all of a sudden, you want to hear it?
The Campbell Highway - have you driven the highway this summer? Pretty bad shape, right? Well, you can't grade the thing when it's raining every day. You're going to grade the top off, right? That's right. So you can't do the maintenance on it.
But, you know, the NDP has been putting chipseal on the highway, trying to focus from one point to the other. Well the Liberals cancelled that. I guess the highway wasn't at that time a priority. Now, all of a sudden, it's a priority because they had to have something in their throne speech. I'll see if the Liberal government put Yukoners in debt over upgrades to our roads.
It's funny, because is this a priority that all of a sudden grew with the Liberals in the last six months? Because when they were in opposition, they certainly didn't support programs such as the rural roads program. By the way, where's that program? Gone? All of a sudden rural roads are not important to the Liberals?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Fairclough: That's right.
It's good to the road at the end of the Lake Laberge riding, and that's it. Communities suffer after that.
So, what is the Liberal government going to do? They said they will reconstruct the highway. That's the wording that's in there. "Reconstruct". So, what do we do? Put millions of dollars into the highway just outside of Whitehorse here to widen the road so that we can put a centre line or lines on the side? Is that what their plan is, to spend all that kind of money? Are they going to do improvements to the Campbell Highway? Why couldn't you put what you're going to do in the throne speech, instead of just saying it's in a crisis? Maybe you're talking about the streets in Whitehorse, which don't get any maintenance during the winter. Maybe you'll throw that money into Whitehorse streets. Maybe that's the plan. Maybe the streets are in crisis.
What else is the Liberal government going to focus on? Water and sewer, they say, is more important than having a recreation area in a community. A school gym is not important to the members opposite. Having community use of facilities like that is not important to the members opposite. Recreation is just not there. I'd like to hear what the Liberals say about water and sewer for First Nations. You can bet the Liberal Party would not be coming out with any type of plan for, say, a sewage system for the Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation. Do the Liberals consider the First Nations as part of the community? Are they a community and will they get water and sewer? Wrong. They wouldn't. They would not get it. Why? A little discrimination going on there, or what? What's good enough here in Whitehorse is good -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Fairclough: Water and sewer is important for many communities in the Yukon, and I wish this government would work with First Nations in resolving that. This is not just municipalities. There are unincorporated communities here that need the attention, too. I have not once heard the Liberal government mention that anywhere in their throne speech, and they should be ashamed of that.
Now, how come the Liberals, when they were in opposition, did not support the infrastructure dollars there in the budget - did not support it? I might surprise some members opposite, but when you say this is your priority, you should at least have felt it before. Maybe you have got other directions from new people, and that is great. It is a good direction if it's taking place right now. But with the monies there, long-term planning monies dealing with priorities of the community, what if it is not a priority right now and something else comes up?
So, if a school collapses in Mayo, would that not be a priority over water and sewer that could be left alone for another year? There is nothing mentioned of that in this throne speech. It is unfortunate, because I thought that the Liberals said that they would work with communities and First Nations. I thought they were committed to the things that had been agreed to by government, but it is not that way. Even when you go back to the Mayo school and intergovernmental agreements signed, and they are breached by the Liberal government. They are breached. They may not want to admit it. One holds things close, so that as little information as possible gets out, but people want to work with government, of course.
And you're going to see that when you go to communities. Do you think that was any different when the NDP was there in government?
People want more control; communities want more control. Municipalities plan with government to do things. It may be recreation centres, it may be skating rinks, it may be roads. I certainly hope that this Liberal government would consider the priorities of communities and not have what's in their platform just override that, just like that.
I do hope that government will give consideration to the needs of communities and their wishes and wants. And I hope that they do not back away and go for the cheapest option or one that would only carry them for five years down the road. And I refer, I guess maybe, to what design of sewage system, say, the Village of Carmacks would like. Right now there is a big push to replace the mechanical system that's there - the only mechanical system we have in the Yukon which serves about 40 percent of the community, only downtown. And should there be any approval of dollars going forward, which, by the way - I don't know if you all know this, but you did commit money to that project: $5 million. I think that the community is quite happy about meeting with government and trying to move forward to this replacement of a system in that community. But I sure hope that it is one that serves all the community and not just one side of the community on one side of the river. If you're looking at the community of Carmacks, I certainly hope that you include the aboriginal people as part of the community - not keep them separate, not push them and say, "Do your own thing," like you did with the increase to the post-secondary monies.
I hope they don't change their minds, either. The Premier herself was at a CYFN general assembly. She told all the people there, including the youth who asked a question about whether or not this 20-percent increase of post-secondary dollars was going to them, and the answer was "Yes, it's for all Yukoners." As soon as the meeting ended, she pulled him aside, and said, "No, it's not, it's not for you. Go get your own. Aboriginal people, get your own. You've got your own system."
It's pretty funny, to have that type of thing happen. She could have said it right up front; it's for those who apply for the post-secondary funding through the Yukon government. That was not said, and it was unfortunate.
People like me, an MLA in a rural community, have to do a lot of damage control. They come up to me and say that they're getting an increase, and I say, "No, you're not. Your funding is not through the Yukon government."
Now, what the Liberals could have done is brought it up to speed in equal amounts. There are two different amounts that they do get right now. They could have done that, wanting an equal playing field. They could have brought everybody's funding up to its proper level. They still could do that, I suppose.
There's a lot of talk about maintaining quality health care. I think sometimes that's a bit of a challenge. There is a commitment from the Minister of Health right now that there will not be any lower levels of health care in the Yukon than what we have right now; we are only to build on that. That was committed already. What the challenge will be, of course, is the ever-growing cost of providing health care to people in Canada and in the Yukon.
But I certainly wonder where some things are going right now. You mentioned in the throne speech that you'll be looking at better ways of recruiting nurses and doctors to the Yukon and trying to keep them here, too. Right now, we're faced with - what is it? I think six nurses are leaving the communities. Some of them could be in trouble right now, and I know pressure is going to be put on us, and governments also, to make sure that we do replace those nurses as quickly as possible. People are looking elsewhere. There is a big demand in the rest of Canada - in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. There is more money that can be made out there. Right now, the people in the communities are the ones to suffer because of that.
But we do have nurses in the Yukon who make their home here. I think the community of Carmacks is fortunate to have one permanent nurse there, who lives there year-round, has her own place and is always relied upon by the community as people come and go.
I was a bit surprised by the wording in this throne speech about the drug and alcohol addictions. There is no focus on any problems other than drug and alcohol problems. There is nothing about poverty in here. There is nothing about the type of schooling that First Nations were faced with and had to go through. There's nothing like that. Drug and alcohol addictions - throw money at it. This is the solution of the Liberals: we'll provide the information to the community, and they will heal themselves.
What a statement. I mean, what a shame and what an insult to the community people who have been working at this for so many years now, in trying to build healthier communities, to have information thrown at them saying, "Here, go heal yourself as a community." I don't believe the Liberals have any idea what that word means to people. I feel it's a pretty powerful word. It scares a lot of people. As a matter of fact, it scares the First Nation elders a lot, to have to go through this type of process, because of their long history. Communities find it very tough to deal with this whole thing.
And alcohol and drugs are not the only problems in communities. Is putting people out of work a solution to alcohol and drugs, like in Mayo, with no people working on the school? The community spent three years addressing the design of their school and how they could make their community a better place. They developed training programs for the carpenters. The village looked at how they can continue activity in the community. The First Nation looked at how they can continue to keep people working and have increased activity in the community. And this one move by the Liberal government threw all that out. They were going to start on an administration building the year after, keep the carpenters working, try and do something because there's not much out there for a mining industry in and around Mayo right now. And then the village, of course, wanted to do a project, a centennial anniversary project for the community. Would the government ever approve a project now, because the school project has been delayed? I don't think so. But maybe. Maybe there's hope, and I would like to see the Liberal government tell them that they will be doing something in that community for the 100th anniversary of the Village of Mayo - and I say the "Village of Mayo" because that's what it is. It's not about the First Nation at all.
Maybe if the Liberals are so up and in support of mining, they will look at that community a little bit and see what it had to offer Yukon in the mining sector. You might be surprised how much money took place in the community of Mayo, and how much history there is about mining and the different types of mining that took place in and around Mayo. There's so much potential there right now; it's just incredible. Of course base metals are going to be key to seeing some activity around the Keno area.
What else is the government doing with regard to alcohol and drug addictions? I hope they get out there. Everything is money here, additional money to what's taking place right now. And if you truly want to support some of these initiatives, then you've got to put the money toward it. I'll give you an example of how communities have been dealing with it. They have places like Tatlmain Lake where they take people who are in trouble, either through circle sentencing or those who want to change their lives around, and they have counselling programs that work. Are there additional monies going toward that? I'm sure the First Nations are going to look towards this and be asking. Well, not in this budget, but certainly in the next one.
Now here's one that gets me and is put in as a point as one of the seven priorities in which the Liberals are going to be graded on: restoring confidence in government. They've been in government for six months now. What they say they want to do is to do things differently, more user-friendly government. They certainly haven't been making friends with the communities, with First Nations. They certainly haven't been abiding by the agreements that are out there: final agreements, intergovernmental agreements. They haven't been doing that. So how are they supposed to make friends out there when they're breaching agreements?
Right in this House itself, we have a process for dealing with issues - like SCREP - for dealing with the motion that was tabled yesterday. Is that a new way of governing? Trying to ram it through the House rather than go through due process? A new government restoring confidence in government?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Fairclough: Everything above.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Fairclough: Everything above. In rebuilding the Yukon economy, the government will work toward the following results in the short term: achievement of a closer working relationship with First Nations that will result in the settlement of land claims. Well, what if one or the other does not happen? You just scrap it, throw it aside? That's it? Here is the biggest one, right here, and that might interest the Member for McIntyre-Takhini. The big focus is getting land claims done: the number one priority. Well, where do the first seven sit? They have negotiated their agreements already. What about implementation, which is tougher than negotiations?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Fairclough: So those First Nations just get left aside? They are trying to implement their agreements. You are negotiating. Where do they fit? No support from governments at all? It is an outrage to have government split First Nations in their throne speech. It has nothing to do with implementation - washing their hands, walking away. The Yukon government signs on to those agreements. You cannot forget that; you cannot forget your responsibilities. Implementation is big. As a matter of fact, maybe one of these times you could try and make it a priority to work with First Nations, to get more for the Yukon. Implementing - it does nothing to make an agreement if you are not going to abide by it or implement it. It is supposed to benefit Yukoners, First Nations, non-First Nation people, people in Mayo are looking forward to getting some of their agreements implemented. It is sure a tough job because they are under the thumbs of the Liberal government right now.
The federal Liberals don't want to fund the land claims agreement and self-government agreements. What happened? Did they ever mention anything in this throne speech? Did the Liberals mention anything in this throne speech about self-government agreements? Nothing. It's pretty shameful. They are senior governments.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Fairclough: I can't read lips.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Some Hon. Member: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Speaker: The Minister of Tourism, on a point of order.
Hon. Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to take a brief moment. I hate to interrupt the fine thoughts from the side opposite, but I'd like to introduce one of my constituents, and that would be Danelle Ouellette, who comes to us from Riverdale South.
Speaker: Please continue.
Mr. Fairclough: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, during the election, the Liberals refused to say what they believed and what they would do. Yukoners, for a long time, have been waiting to see what the Liberals are all about, but now we know why. The bottom line is that they don't know what they're doing. They have no direction and no leadership. They are good at hiring friends, but that's about it.
People in the departments in government are begging for direction. Everything's under review. They have put a hold on everything. Where does the department go with this? They like to be busy. People like to work, and when there's no direction coming out of the government, it's the same old.
Usually there are new things that governments adopt and push forward, but if everything is under review, how do we move ahead?
There's a big review going on. May as well put a sign on their door, "Gone fishing. Government under review."
The business community across the Yukon is begging for leadership and not getting any. People in the communities are looking for reasons and hope, and they're not getting any. What they get, though, that they've been benefiting from in the past, is cancellation - if they're under review, are they going to get cancelled if they don't meet the Liberal criteria - for example, this community development fund that the communities have benefited so greatly from?
It's not all about government dollars going into a project to make a project happen. Communities come forward, put together their priorities and put their money into these projects - some of them are substantial, hundreds of thousands of dollars of their monies going into these projects. That's a community priority, and the only place where they can find dollars is not out of the federal Liberals or municipalities; it's out of the Yukon government, something they can own as a project and say that they've been involved, with some help from the territorial government.
Isn't that what being in government is all about - to help out people, help out communities, keep people working? Small projects to keep people working through the winter, isn't that what it's all about, instead of taking jobs away, like the Mayo school?
What was so disrespectful about that was that people weren't notified. They don't tell people that they cancelled a project, don't even tell the contractor about it. They find out in the media. The media snoops around, digs out information, and they get it - but not the community people, not the contractors. It's embarrassing, it's shameful. How can a government act like that?
They have empty documents. That's all they bring forward. They seem to be a corner-office government. They claim they have been in every community. Well, you know what they were in the communities for - cutting ribbons on New Democrat projects and initiatives. "Oh, we have done this. We have done good work. We poured concrete in Mayo." But they quickly covered it up with plastic because they weren't going to have the project go ahead. It's all covered, and it's a wood foundation. And Mr. Speaker, if you saw it, you would be sad to see a project like that put away for the winter. The whole reason behind it was to keep people working through the winter. That's why it starts in the fall. All Yukoners have more jobs during the summer, during tourism season and so on, so you try to maximize the people that are here and have work throughout the winter. So they wanted work throughout the winter. Contractors who put bids toward subcontracts have been putting all of their faith, I guess, in this project. They did not go out and bid on other subcontracts in the rest of the Yukon. They stayed home to work on their project, and it's gone. So, it will be quicker to the unemployment line, and it certainly demoralizes the people there. Another tease in the community - they have got the concrete poured, the floor on. It's right beside the school, and all of the students see it every day they go to school. They have been talking about it for a couple of years now. They were really excited that they were getting a new school - gone. The Liberals let them down in the community.
I guess students were not important in that particular community. They have to wait. Keep them waiting. It's unfortunate that that has to happen. They say they will save money if people aren't working throughout the winter. That was the big thing, and the fact that it was over budget. But it will save money if you start in the spring. Well, the whole idea was to keep people working throughout the winter and come in with a product at the end of the summer, and the students could move into the school in the fall and have a decent learning environment for that community.
Not only that but the Village of Mayo got involved and expanded the school to include an additional room for a weight room and exercise room. That was their input. That was $480,000 that they put toward this project. That's an additional amount to what the contract was. So it's more than just a school; it's a community building, a community facility. It didn't matter, I guess. The government screwed up, they didn't keep track of their contracts. They didn't think it was a big deal to pull the contract; "The people in Mayo can handle it." I bet you that would never happen in Whitehorse, not with this corner office where the Liberals seem to be. It's only, I guess, the real priorities that the Liberals have - is it land claims? Well, they certainly didn't talk about land claims a whole lot, other than the Liberals started it 30 years ago. But it was oil and gas and mining, and, of course, rewarding their political friends. That was the big one. It still hasn't ended yet. I know they want to get us on boards and committees so that we could all work together to agree on a name, but, hey wait, would there be any room left? They like to fly around the country acting important. I can remember the Minister of Tourism saying that it was important to look closer to home, to Alaska, to B.C.; focus on the rubber-tire traffic. As soon as she got elected, bang, on the plane, gone, because she liked to fly around. How could that minister give any direction in a national meeting like that, not even knowing her department, not even knowing what direction came from the people of the Yukon? The truth is out there. It was a good dinner. Next thing, she'll be off to Italy for a pizza.
Is that in the plans? That minister is no different from the Premier, who, again, wanted to focus trade closer to home. But the next trip, where is that, Mr. Speaker? China, or Chile. It certainly did not take long to head down there to China and Chile.
What is happening there? They did not support that initiative by the New Democrats at the time. Now it must be good; it must be a strong NDP agenda to lead the Liberals over the next four years. Who is running the show?
It is funny, hearing the little story about the Member for Whitehorse Centre about how he compares his government to dragging a moose out of the ditch by the moose horns - they have antlers, by the way - and just dragging it off the road - onto the road, I suppose. Where else would you drag it to?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Fairclough: Well, it could be. It could have been a cow or something else. I do not think they recognized that. But comparing it to how the government does things - well, what did they do with the guts? Do they leave a big pile of guts there?
The Member for Whitehorse Centre also spoke about how his government is involved in planning. They are going to do all kinds of planning. Well, it has to result in something; planning has to result in something. Jobs, for example, maybe, is a good one to start with. Don't plan to get rid of the jobs; plan to create them, be innovative and think of new things. You can always plan a vacation and cancel it. Are these plans like that?
The Mayo school had a plan. It was cancelled. Jobs were lost. It was a big thing in that community. I don't know why the government is taking it so lightly.
They like to think about the good things that supposedly they're doing, like the extended care - 96 beds have already been mentioned. But they haven't mentioned it again in here, in the throne speech. Is that all about the future? It sounds like it's all about the past.
They talked about the jail - replacing the jail. What's happening with that? They're keeping it pretty low-key right now. But in doing all of these things, they're still trying to restore confidence in government, is what they're saying. Their actions don't speak that way - certainly don't.
They didn't even mention devolution or the development assessment process. Important, but not important enough to put into this. That's a commitment out of the land claims agreement. They have no confidence in any of the members who are not Cabinet people to do any additional work - travel to the communities, hear what they have to say.
The Member for Whitehorse Centre also said that negotiations were going well in devolution. It's going well? Well, the date's already set; they're going to take over on April 1. What happens if they don't finish negotiations? Well, there are no more negotiations taking place.
The Yukon Act is being worked on, and it will fall into a federal process and out of Yukon hands until April 1. But, I certainly hope that Yukon is prepared when it comes to taking over those resources - forestry, for example. You would think that the Liberal government would have made some moves in that particular area, where communities are suffering. They could have gone onside with the communities, and talked about how things can be better, even under the Yukon government; how things could change. They could look at sustainable development and so on.
But no, they didn't have time to do that.
They're travelling across the country. And communities just didn't matter; jobs just didn't matter. The Mayo school project - nobody paid attention to that. It fell apart. It just didn't matter. I'll bet you that won't happen in Whitehorse.
One thing they said and put in letters to constituents is that they would replace Grey Mountain School - no commitment for the priorities that have been worked on by Yukoners. Isn't that a shame? Here we have, for years now, chairs of school councils looking at communities and what community needs are, working with governments, setting a priority, starting to get schools built. Old Crow has a beautiful school and so does Ross River. Mayo is next on the list. Carmacks and Pelly come next. But no, the Liberal government is going to use their political influences to have Grey Mountain School built - a shame. What would they say to the people of Carmacks? Just wait, we're not finished our political agenda yet. When it comes to education, what does this government stand for when it comes to education? What does it intend to do? What are they going to do, other than basically telling the students in Mayo that they're not getting a school?
There is certainly very little mention of training at all in this throne speech. What does this government stand for on training people for real jobs here in the Yukon? Is it just a joke to them that people have gone to school knowing that a project is in place, that it's in the budget? There's money planned out for a project like this. Money is there. There weren't the right contractors, I suppose.
All of a sudden, there was not enough money in the budget. That's what the Liberals said. It was over budget and they did not have any money. They cried poverty. They cried poverty to the Mayo school. And then, even today, the chief sat in the gallery here listening to how the government is going to be bringing forward a supplementary budget. It's their priorities, not the community's or the people's. It's just a political thing. Is that restoring confidence in government? The Liberal way, I suppose.
Training people for real jobs, I suppose, is just not a priority of the Liberal government. They didn't even have enough to mention it in their throne speech. No training.
Post-secondary education - well, that was one of the first things that the Liberals have done. They increased funding to post-secondary education by 20 percent. But that was not to all the people but a portion of the people. "Aboriginal people, go the other way; get your own." That's because they didn't think it through.
When we talk about education and support for places like Yukon College who do a tremendous amount of training for us, there's nothing mentioned by the Liberals. Social services - where are the child care regulations or the training regulations for child care workers? Where do they stand on that? There's nothing there. I mean, what are they telling people of the Yukon? That they're hollow and empty and this is all they're going to be for the next four years, and that everybody else out there - NGOs - have to put the pressure on them and beg them for dollars to keep things going in the communities and keep the services that should be going there.
Is this an attempt by the Liberal government to have communities beg for these dollars? I think there should be a lot more respect there. Allow the community people to have a say in the things that governments do.
Social assistance rights - where do they stand on that? Programs that are in place for SA recipients, such as training for jobs - there is certainly nothing in the throne speech about that. Is it that the poor and unfortunate people of the Yukon just don't have the support of the Liberal government, even though they campaigned on the left and are governing on the right? Or, are they governing at all? Those are the questions, I guess, that Yukon people have.
Where are the social programs? They are certainly not a priority of this government. Was there any mention of justice at all in this throne speech?
You have the opportunity now to work with communities to improve the systems that we do have out there - the justice system, to make it more responsive to the community needs. Simple wording in this throne speech could have done a lot and said a lot to the community people out there. Why would you not do it? Do you have no faith in the people you have, your colleagues? I know the departments are hard-working. Maybe it is the spokesperson for the government who wrote this. I would not doubt that.
What is the government doing about the Whitehorse Correctional Centre? What plans does this government have for the Teslin Community Correctional Centre and the people who work there? Why would you not mention that in the throne speech? I guess we have to give you all the ideas again. I guess the NDP budget and initiatives put forward were so great and so powerful that they dominated the throne speech. That is incredible.
Mr. Speaker, given the time, I move that the debate be now adjourned.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. leader of the official opposition that the debate be now adjourned.
Motion to adjourn debate on Motion No. 10 agreed to
Ms. Tucker: I wish to inform the House that, pursuant to Standing Order 26, consideration of a motion for an Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne shall take place on Wednesday, October 25, 2000.
I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the 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 5:27 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled October 24, 2000:
Resignation notice as MLA (dated October 21, 2000) from Trevor Harding, Member for Faro
Warrant dated October 23, 2000, regarding vacancy in Faro due to resignation of Trevor Harding, issued by Speaker Schneider
Vacancy in Electoral District of Faro: copy of letter dated October 23, 2000, from the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly to Commissioner Cable
Report of the Chief Electoral Officer of the Yukon on the 2000 General Election
Ombudsman and Information and Privacy Commissioner 1999 Annual Report
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 of the Yukon Legislative Assembly (dated October 23, 2000)
Yukon Legal Services Society, Operational Review of the: Final Report submitted by Bonnie R. Durnford (dated September 2000)