Thursday, October 26, 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.
Introduction of visitors.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, today it's indeed my pleasure to be able to introduce the grades 4, 5 and 6 class from the Carcross school, under the tutelage of Ms. Fran Nyman. I'd like everybody to welcome them here, if they would.
Speaker: Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Speaker, I have for tabling two documents: the Yukon Public Service Staff Relations Act and the Yukon Act.
I have for tabling the twenty-sixth annual report of the Yukon Teachers Staff Relations Board.
Also for tabling, Mr. Speaker, is a legislative return. I have for tabling a legislative return relating to a question raised by the leader of the third party on June 29, 2000.
Speaker: Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 22: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 22, entitled An Act to Amend the Elections Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Premier that Bill No. 22, entitled An Act to Amend the Elections Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 22 agreed to
Speaker: Are there any further bills to be introduced?
Bill No. 28: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 28, entitled An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Premier that Bill No. 28, entitled An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 28 agreed to
Speaker: Are there any further bills for introduction?
Bill No. 29: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 29, entitled Electronic Commerce Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Premier that Bill No. 29, entitled Electronic Commerce Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 29 agreed to
Bill No. 30: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Ms. Duncan: I move that Bill No. 30, entitled the Electronic Evidence Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Premier that Bill No. 30, entitled Electronic Evidence Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 30 agreed to
Speaker: Are there any further bills for introduction?
Bill No. 32: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Ms. Duncan: I move that Bill No. 32, entitled the Municipal Loans Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Premier that Bill No. 32, entitled Municipal Loans Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 32 agreed to
Speaker: Are there any further bills for introduction?
Bill No. 23: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 23, entitled Arts Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Minister of Tourism that Bill No. 23, entitled Arts Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 23 agreed to
Bill No. 21: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Ms. Buckway:I move that Bill No. 21, entitled Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act (2000), be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker:It has been moved by the hon. Minister of Justice that Bill No. 21, entitled Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act (2000), be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 21 agreed to
Bill No. 24: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Ms. Buckway:I move that Bill No. 24, entitled Department of Justice Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Minister of Justice that Bill No. 24, entitled Department of Justice Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 24 agreed to
Bill No. 25: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 25, entitled An Act to Amend the Interpretation Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Minister of Justice that Bill No. 25, entitled An Act to Amend the Interpretation Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 25 agreed to
Speaker: Are there any further bills for introduction?
Bill No. 26: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 26, entitled Enforcement of Canadian Judgements and Decrees Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Minister of Justice that Bill No. 26, entitled Enforcement of Canadian Judgements and Decrees Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 26 agreed to
Speaker:Are there any further bills for introduction?
Bill No. 27: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 27, entitled Court Jurisdiction and Proceedings Transfer Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Minister of Justice that Bill No. 27, entitled Court Jurisdiction and Proceedings Transfer Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 27 agreed to
Speaker: Are there any further bills for introduction?
Are there any notices of motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Keenan: It has been moved by me
THAT it is the opinion of this House that:
(1) in its first six months in office, the Yukon Liberal government has failed to take any positive or concrete action to deal with the chronic economic problems the territory is facing; and
(2) as a result of this failure, or in some cases as a direct result of misguided actions taken by the Yukon Liberal government, many people throughout the territory are facing severe economic hardships as winter approaches; and
(3) evidence of these hardships can readily be seen in rising unemployment, the increasing number of families that are forced to leave the Yukon, and the growing strain being put on food banks and soup kitchens by people who need these services; and
(4) neither the Yukon Liberal government nor the federal Liberal government have taken effective steps to correct the systematic problems that keep so many people and families in poverty; and
(5) the Yukon Liberal government is contributing to these problems by failing to implement the increase in social assistance rates that are promised in the 2000-01 budget; and
THAT this House urges the Yukon Liberal government to do what it said it would do by immediately increasing social assistance rates by two percent, retroactive to the beginning of the fiscal year 2000-01.
Mr. Jenkins: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Yukon government should implement an action plan to deal with FAS/FAE that would include the following:
a) prevention programs to eliminate or reduce alcohol consumption of high-risk parents in order to foster the birth of healthy babies
b) early diagnosis of FAS/FAE
c) supporting people and families with FAS/FAE through a wide range of service, such as professional counselling and foster homes, in order to provide a suitable nurturing home environment for those afflicted with FAS/FAE, especially those between the ages of eight and 12.
d) a team of professionally trained in psychology, personal counselling, social work and health, to be formed to provide services to Yukon schools in order to provide support for FAS/FAE students and their families; and
e) investigation of the feasibility of establishing a group home for adults with FAS/FAE.
Mr. Speaker, I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that a Crossroads-type in-patient alcohol and drug rehabilitation centre should be re-established in Whitehorse.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. McLarnon: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Yukon government should be open and accountable to the people of the Yukon in its efforts to
(1) settle land claims;
(2) build the economy;
(3) achieve devolution;
(4) address the substance abuse problem in the Yukon;
(5) maintain quality health care;
(6) develop infrastructure; and
(7) restore Yukoners' confidence in government; and
THAT this House urges the Yukon government to continue using these seven priorities as the basis for its contract with the people of the Yukon Territory.
Speaker: Are there any statements by ministers?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Yukon economy
Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Economic Development, and it has to do with the serious, serious situation we're in economically in this territory.
Back on June 27, when the minister, the Premier, was off on one of her many trips to Calgary, she mistakenly appointed the Minister of Tourism to act on her behalf for the Department of Economic Development. Upon questioning at that time about what this Liberal government was doing to create jobs in this territory, the acting minister offhandedly remarked, in this Legislature, "Since the Liberal government has taken office, we have done nothing but create jobs, jobs, jobs." Yukoners, this House, we in the opposition, want to know where, where, where.
The facts speak for themselves. This Liberal government has killed jobs. Those jobs did not materialize in communities like Watson Lake. They disappeared, and the same holds true for Mayo.
Can the Minister of Economic Development get on her feet here today and tell this House how many jobs have been created in this territory directly from the result of initiatives created by the Liberal government?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, the member bootlegged in a number of what he might consider points in his question.
First of all, I note with interest the member opposite says "many trips to Calgary" and then accuses me earlier, in a previous session, of not travelling to Calgary. So, once again, we have the opposition not making up their mind. Do you travel or don't you travel? They just can't seem to get it together.
I would advise the member opposite that it's never a mistake to appoint the Minister of Tourism to stand in my stead, or anybody on this side of the House. We have a very strong, competent team, and thanks for asking about that.
The member opposite has asked how many jobs we have created and what the current employment status is in the Yukon. I can advise the member that the unemployment rate of 9.7 percent in September is actually 2 percent lower than when this government took office. Thanks for the question.
Mr. Fentie: Let the record show, Mr. Speaker, that the minister did not answer the question. How many jobs in the last six months were created in this territory as a direct result of initiatives brought forward by this Liberal government?
Furthermore, I did not berate the minister for travelling to Calgary at all. I asked why she did not attend a pipeline conference in the Northwest Territories. While the Premier of the Northwest Territories was actively lobbying the industry for the Mackenzie Valley route, we were absent. We were absent at that conference.
Mr. Speaker, maybe I should have qualified the question. I'm not talking about jobs created for Liberal operatives and Liberal campaign sign-hangers who are busily chewing on their pork chops. I am talking about jobs, real jobs for Yukoners. The facts speak for themselves. This government has killed jobs in this territory...
Speaker: Order please. Question please.
Mr. Fentie: ...125 jobs in Watson Lake, and many more in Mayo. We hear now that there is a possibility of an aircraft manufacturing plant coming to the Yukon. Is this minister prepared, through tax breaks, loan incentives and loan guarantees, to assist this plant so it may possibly become a reality in this territory and create jobs for Yukoners?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, once again the member opposite has tried to insert a number of issues into one particular question. Just like they can't make up their minds to support the Alaska Highway pipeline route, they can't make up their minds about which questions to ask or which cheap shot to offer in the Legislature.
The fact is that the unemployment rate, during the NDP's term in office, averaged at 13 percent. There were times I can remember in this Legislature during the NDP reign when it was 17 percent. In September of this year, it was at 9.7 percent. That's still too high. I agree with the member opposite; that's still too high.
And what are we doing about it? Well, let's talk about that. The Minister of Tourism has been working over the summer, and for her efforts she has to report 2,200 additional charter seats and an increase in the film work to be done this winter in the territory.
In my work in terms of Economic Development, the member opposite should be aware of the additional exploration work being undertaken by Copper Ridge and Expatriate and that the oil and gas development permits are in process, including a number in southeast Yukon, valued at over $6.7 million, which will be undertaken in 2001.
The member opposite, although he clearly doesn't support it, is aware of some of the work the government has been doing, lobbying for the Alaska Highway pipeline route. In terms of facilitating export, export sales are up. Those results speak for themselves.
In terms of government spending, the supplementary budget is being tabled on Monday.
On the Mayo school project and the delay - the slight delay - there are six people, according to the chief, who have a shortage in the interim training work to be done. We have given Chief Robert Hager our commitment that those people will be employed during the period up to the start of construction for the Mayo school. We have also undertaken pilot projects to speed up on the payments from purchases by government.
So, this government has been doing a great deal in terms of the economy and working on the economic situation throughout the Yukon.
Mr. Fentie: Well, the minister didn't answer the question. The question was if this minister is prepared, in regard to the aircraft manufacturing plant, to put forward tax breaks, loan guarantees and loan incentives to help ensure that that plant - there are competing interests for this particular manufacturing plant in Abbotsford, B.C. and Peace River, Alberta - has the best opportunity to be established here and put Yukoners to work. Is the minister prepared to do that?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: I thank the member for focusing on one particular question, as opposed to the overall economic health of the Yukon, because I've given the member a full report on that and look forward to more reports.
With respect to the specific proposal regarding an airplane manufacturing proposal in the Yukon, this was first presented to me, as Minister of Economic Development, in June by one of the proponents, whom I subsequently met with and recommended that they look at two locations in Yukon: Faro and Whitehorse.
I subsequently met, as did the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, with the project proponents to discuss it in general terms. They are at the point now where they are putting together their proposal to submit to government. We do not have a concrete request in front of us at this point in time.
I can advise the minister that, unlike the members over there, this government will discuss any options in a fully open and accountable manner. We are not the government of the backroom deal. That was that side.
Question re: Social assistance rate increase
Mr. Keenan: The Premier's answer certainly tells me that they are trying to do all and know not where they are going. Today I have a question for the Minister of Health and Social Services. The NDP budget that the Liberals adopted, including the two-percent increase in social assistance rates - that's the very first increase since 1991. Now, that increase was supposed to have taken place since the start of this fiscal year. I would like to ask the minister: when will that increase start showing up on the social assistance cheques?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: I thank the member opposite for that question. It is a very good question. The increase to social assistance was laid out in the 2000-2001 budget, as the member opposite has said. We are committed to implementing that budget.
Mr. Keenan: Well, I appreciate the compliment that it is such a good question, but that gets a "D" for failure in an answer. Let me quote the Premier. On February 22, she said in this House than an increase in social assistance is about people. We applaud the government, which has seen fit to raise social assistance rates for the first time in 10 years. This increase is in the budget that the Liberal government adopted. Why has the government not done what it said it would do and increased the social assistance rates by two percent? Why have you not done it?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Mr. Speaker, the question, again, and the answer, again, is yes, we are going to follow the budget. It is in the budget, and we are going to follow it; but we are going to do it our way.
Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, it is very typical of this government to do it their way and ignore the rest of the Yukon people. Again, I would like to quote the Premier: "If this was the right thing to do, which we believe it was, why did it take so long?" A direct quote from the Premier. We are wondering the same thing: why has it taken so long for the Liberal government to live up to this commitment. People need the money, and they need it now. We can read the newspapers, and we know that people are suffering. Just in last night's newspaper, it talked about the single parents who have to take four weeks' worth of food and education materials for their children, and they could only make it for three weeks. My God, what are we going to do about it, when it is in the budget? Let us do it the Yukon way and do it the right way, not the Liberal way.
Will the minister immediately do the right thing and direct his department to increase the rates right away and to make the increase retroactive to the beginning of this year?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Thank you for the response. I, once again, will have to commit to the fact that we are going to follow the budget.
The Liberal government has, in their platform, two major points. I'm just going to review the points, because I think that sometimes we need to know where we're going.
It says, "Recognize the value of parenting and provide benefits to single parents of preschool children without the requirement of a job search for employment outside the home." The second point, "Support social assistance recipients entering the workforce by allowing a greater portion of employment to be retained as an incentive to continue working." This is in our platform, Mr. Speaker, and we are committed to helping those who have the least. We are committed to ensuring that we do it right. We are not a knee-jerk type of government. We do it with proper investigation - with proper response - and it will be in place this year.
Question re: Tourist visitor exit survey
Mr. Jenkins: I have a question for the Minister of Tourism.
The 2000 border crossing statistics until the end of September are currently available and the numbers show what many Yukoners involved in the visitor industry already know: that the Yukon has had a very poor tourism season.
Now, July is our major month. Private vehicles for the month of July at the border crossings have dropped by 5.1 percent from 1999 with respect to U.S. vehicles entering Canada, a 9.6-percent drop for Canadian vehicles entering Canada, and five percent for others. Overall, there were 2,578 fewer private vehicles this July than last.
Motorcoach statistics were even worse, showing a 7.5 percent drop for U.S. motorcoaches, a 31.5-percent drop for Canadian motorcoaches and a 20.1-percent drop for others. Overall motorcoach traffic in July was down 10.5 percent from last season.
The figures for August are even worse.
Speaker: Order please. Would the member please get to the question?
Mr. Jenkins: My question for the minister, Mr. Speaker, is that these statistics are alarming and I would like the minister to advise the House how much she has increased the marketing budget, especially in the U.S. and Canada, to try to counteract this alarming trend and rebuild visitations from our largest markets. What has she done?
Hon. Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, I'm delighted to answer this question.
First of all, I agree with the member opposite, the numbers are down, and it is somewhat alarming. This is our number one industry, and it's something that we need to pay attention to.
We are working closely with our neighbours in B.C. and Alaska; we've increased the figures in the marketing budget to those two jurisdictions.
In addition to that, we're working with the Yukon tourism marketing partnership, started by the previous Minister of Tourism, and we're working directly with business to help increase those numbers next year.
Unfortunately, many of the people who came to the Yukon this past year made their decision at least a year previous to their arrival in the Yukon. If we had got to more people sooner, we would have more tourists.
In addition to that, we are also trying to get people to stay in the Yukon Territory for one more day, and that's part of the stay-another-day program. It's not a new idea; they do have these programs in most jurisdictions in Canada. What we're doing is increasing the amount of dollars we put toward festival funding, so that we can try to keep people for four more hours, in an attempt to get them to stay overnight. If we can keep them to stay overnight, we can add an additional $4 million to the Yukon economy through tourism visitors.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, with government's anti-mining practices, in attempting to buy out mining claims, more and more reliance is being placed on our tourism industry, yet we clearly see tourism also faltering, Mr. Speaker.
Can the minister explain how the stay-another-day tourism program is going to work, if we can't attract tourists here in the first place? Our traditional U.S. and Canadian markets are shrinking. I'd like the minister to explain how she is going to accomplish this.
Hon. Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, what I outlined in the first answer is that we have increased the dollars toward U.S. marketing, and marketing to the British Columbia market, as well as Alberta. Eighty-two percent of our visitors come from the United States; 25 percent of them come from Alaska. We're paying more attention to advertising to that group, and we're doing it a different way.
We're advertising to the military, for example, because they will come over here on day trips. We're advertising in local newspapers through the Southeast Alaska Tourism Council; and what we're trying to do is to bring those 25 percent of American visitors into the Yukon on a more regular basis.
We know that they come here to shop because it's cheaper, to buy things here in the Yukon Territory, and we know that they come here for sports events. What we try to do with the Alaskan visitors, in particular, is make sure that they know what we have to offer. And that's what we're doing. We've increased the marketing budget to those areas, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Jenkins: One of the reasons why motorcoach traffic is down so dramatically is because of the uncertainty surrounding the opening of the Taylor Highway. Can the minister advise the House if, in all of the meetings she and her colleagues have had with the State of Alaska officials, does the Yukon now have an agreement with Alaska on the early opening of the Taylor Highway - yes or no?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: As the member opposite is aware, it's election year in the United States, and any answer I would get out of the State of Alaska right now could well be changed in a couple of weeks.
Question re: Government programs review
Mr. McRobb: Well, the answers we are getting here in this Legislature aren't any better. Now, I'd like to point to page 5 of the throne speech, which, by the way, revealed the truth about the Liberals' election slogan, "It's all about the future". Really, it's all about the past. Page 5 says, "The government wants Yukoners to know it is reviewing programs like the CDF, the tourism marketing fund, and the trade and investment fund to provide accountability and openness in government."
Mr. Speaker, perhaps this would be more appropriately stated as: "The government wants Yukoners to believe it is reviewing these programs." Each of these programs has provided funds for arts and cultural groups, so I have a question for the Minster of Tourism: does the minister have any knowledge that these programs in fact are not under review, but have been discontinued?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: The question concerned the community development fund, the tourism marketing fund, and the trade and investment fund, and they are being reviewed by the bureau of internal management improvement, which is located within Executive Council Office. And the review will be completed in the new year. These reviews are part of our commitment to restore confidence in government. We are fulfilling that election commitment.
Mr. McRobb: Well, Mr. Speaker, I did not expect the Premier to bail out the Minister of Tourism. Obviously, there is a collision course between this government in its own throne speech. I have two documents from arts and cultural industries branch dated October 2000. I would like to table them for this House now. The first, a discussion paper on a possible model for arts funding program redesign, expansion to mitigate discontinuation of alternate funding sources; the second, terms of reference for sectoral consultation on new program development. Both refer to the community development fund, the tourism marketing fund, and the trade and investment fund as being in the past tense and as discontinued programs. Will the Minister of Tourism now acknowledge that these programs are not being reviewed at all but, in fact, are being discontinued?
Hon. Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, we are doing something entirely novel with the arts community here in the Yukon: we are talking to them. What we are doing with the arts community is that we have had a series of round tables on a number of different areas: infrastructure, cultural industries, et cetera; and we are asking the arts communities how they should best be funded. They had a certain amount of dissatisfaction with some of the previous funding sources. What they have said to us is that what we need is to be part of the planning process for funding for our community; therefore, we have asked them to be involved in the development of the 2001 budget. In addition to that, we have asked them to look at long-term solutions for funding for the arts community.
Mr. McRobb: Mr. Speaker, those are initiatives started by the previous Minister of Tourism, the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes. Again, we have the Liberals taking credit for something they are not responsible for. Now, I did not get a response to the question, only more Liberal fence walking. Which should we believe, the throne speech or these documents from the minister's own department? One of these documents contains minutes from a meeting the minister had with members of the arts community on September 29, only four weeks ago, including her response to, and I quote, "fears in the cultural community caused by closure to the TIF, TMF, and CDF." It goes on to say that: "Officials in the department were subsequently directed to consult with the arts and cultural industries sector on a new funding program to be introduced next year." The first objective stated was "mitigate this impact of the discontinuation of these funds". Why would the minister give such explicit instructions to her officials unless she already knew these programs were being scrapped and not just under review? The answer, please - scrapped or under review?
Hon. Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, I guess I'm going to have to repeat the answer again.
The tourism marketing fund was completely spent out at the very beginning of this fiscal year, so that was a problem. In addition to that, we had the issues around the community development fund having been overspent by the previous government. So, those avenues of funding were no longer in existence for the planning year.
So, in an effort to be responsible to the arts community, we started a series of round tables. Now, those round tables were started under this government, not under the previous government, and we have listened very carefully to what the arts community has told us. They have told us that the previous funding mechanisms did not work that well for them. Therefore, they wanted to be involved with developing new funding mechanisms, and we are doing that in conjunction with them.
Also what this government has done is that we have invited the arts community to be part of the Yukon tourism marketing partnership, along with the heritage community, so that we could work together.
The member opposite is thinking that the question hasn't been answered. Well, I have answered it three times, Mr. Speaker. Sometimes it's very difficult for people to understand what the people on this side of the House are saying. Perhaps I'll say it again. We are working with the arts community, at their request, to come up with alternative sources of funding.
Question re: Job creation
Mr. Fentie: My question, Mr. Speaker, is again for the Minister of Economic Development. The minister could not, this afternoon, through questioning, tell this House or Yukoners how many jobs the Liberals have created in the last six months, the reason being that they have not created one.
The minister also loudly trumpeted statistics that the unemployment rate this year, September 2000, is 9.7 percent, much lower than under the NDP. But I'd like to point something out, Mr. Speaker. In September of 1999, under the NDP watch, the unemployment rate in this territory was 8.2 percent, 1.5 percent lower than it is today. That's because the Liberals are contributing to unemployment in this territory.
Can the minister, who seems to have all her eggs in one basket - the future basket, the pipeline, which we agree is part of our economy in the future. We always have. In fact, it was this government that created YOGA, the Yukon Oil and Gas Act. It was this government that started the ball rolling on the Alaska Highway pipeline.
Speaker: Order please. Could the member get to the question?
Mr. Fentie: Can the minister tell us what this Liberal government is doing now, in terms of winter works projects and creating jobs in this territory where they're so desperately needed today?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, what the public heard from that question is the member opposite's arguing, "Our statistics are better than your statistics." And that doesn't do the people who are unemployed and looking for work in the Yukon one bit of good.
The public also heard the member opposite desperately trying to do yet another flip-flop by the members opposite on their approach - support or not support, today we might but tomorrow we might not - on the pipeline and selection of the Alaska Highway pipeline route. Their position has been absolutely clear. The Member for Kluane, when I brought forward the motion as a member of the opposition about promotion of this route, stood on his feet in this Legislature and said that it wasn't worth talking about. Tell that to the hundreds of Yukoners and the 450 pipeline people whom I have met with as recently as a couple of short weeks ago in Calgary, that no, it's not important.
What we're doing in terms of work right now and what we're doing in terms of the economy right now - let's talk about it. There are oil and gas permits, development and exploration permits that are being issued. Work is going to take place this winter in north Yukon. There are six people in a training program in Mayo who are going to be working until early spring when they start construction of their new school. There are 2,200 additional seats on chartered flights in tourism that are going to be here this summer.
There are five different films that are being negotiated to shoot in the Yukon this summer. And the spinoffs from films is huge in this territory, and it's throughout the territory, it's not just Whitehorse. They use a number of locations including those in the riding of the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes.
Let's talk about the fact that Expatriate Resources and Copper Ridge Exploration Inc. are doing additional exploration work this fall.
Speaker: Order please. Could the member answer, please?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Certainly, Mr. Speaker. That's just the beginning of the work we've done. And I'm pleased to have an opportunity to discuss it.
Mr. Fentie: Nobody's arguing statistics here at all, Mr. Speaker. The point is, under the Liberal watch, September of 2000, the unemployment rate's higher than it was under the NDP watch in September of 1999, and that's because they've killed the forest sector.
There are 500 fewer workers today in this territory than there were at this time a year ago. Those are the facts, Mr. Speaker, and we can talk about the pipeline, and who supports it and who doesn't, all we want. The point there is, it's in the future - at the earliest - five years down the road.
Are you asking Yukoners - is the minister, pardon me -
Speaker: Order please.
Mr. Fentie: I retract that, Mr. Speaker. Is the minister asking Yukoners to wait five years before they can go to work? Yes or no?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, the facts are that the issue isn't in terms of Yukon's forest industry; the issue isn't just the devolution of forest resources. The issue is also wood prices. There are also market conditions. The issue with respect to the pipeline: once again, the member opposite has his facts, as he sees them, wrong.
The earliest date for construction project start, as put forward by those who hold the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity is the spring of 2002. That's not five years down the road.
Mr. Fentie: Whoop-de-do. That's two years down the road. Are you asking Yukoners to wait two years before they can...
Speaker: Order please.
Mr. Fentie: ...go to work?
Speaker: Order. Please address your comments through the Chair, not "you". Thank you.
Mr. Fentie: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
That is two years down the road. Is the minister asking Yukoners to wait two more years before they can go to work? And what is this minister's view of our economy? A diversified, vibrant economy? In our view it includes oil and gas; it includes mining; it includes forestry; it includes tourism; it includes small business.
What is this government - the Liberal government - going to do in terms of creating jobs and economic benefit in this territory now - through either winter works projects, or creation of jobs in the forest sector, or any other sector, here today - so Yukoners don't leave this territory to go to work elsewhere, such as Alberta, but can work here and feed their families now?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, if the member opposite's view of the economy includes all of those things, why don't the member's grey and negative-coloured glasses review the fact that we have been working in every single one of those areas, and that I have outlined for him initiatives and jobs this winter in every single one of those sectors the member opposite mentioned?
I would absolutely enjoy an opportunity to discuss one part of our economy and discuss it in thorough detail - aggressively promoting the Alaska Highway pipeline route. I'd love to discuss that with the members opposite, but they can't get past their rhetoric around it and their opposition to it to discuss it and have a good discussion of that in the Legislature. The Member for Kluane said it wasn't important.
If the member opposite would like to talk about what we have done in the tourism sector, I have already mentioned a number of jobs to take place this winter and early next spring. In terms of oil and gas, are the $6.7 million worth of work in southeast Yukon not important to the member opposite? They're sure important to me, and they're important to this government.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
ADDRESS IN REPLY TO THE SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Motion No. 10 - adjourned debate
Clerk: Motion for an Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne, moved by Mr. McLarnon; adjourned debate, Mr. Eftoda.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I believe, when I left off last evening, I was just wrapping up on the Department of Renewable Resources and the initiatives that are occurring within the Department of Renewable Resources toward its obligations and its commitments to the priorities of the Speech from the Throne.
I would like to move on to my last responsibility as Minister of Education, Mr. Speaker. I would first like to publicly acknowledge the thoughtful, insightful and suggestions that were made yesterday by the member of the opposition representing Old Crow. I believe that she eloquently put forth some constructive, thoughtful ideas with respect to the travelling group that is presenting the review of the Education Act to the communities. I would very much take the member opposite's suggestion to heart, as well as accept her invitation to sit down and see how we could move forward on getting the most that we can from the communities into the review of the Education Act. So, first and foremost, I just wanted to express that to the member opposite, and I look forward to some constructive comment, some constructive criticism on that.
Just before I finish my comments on the Speech from the Throne - it was brought up by the interim leader of the official opposition yesterday - with respect to the opening of the Ross River school, I would like to say, on behalf of this side of the House, that there was an oversight with respect to the MLA from Ross River-Southern Lakes. That is his constituency, and he should have been invited to speak at the opening of that beautiful school up there. It was an oversight, and we acknowledge that. I just wanted to clear that up for the record and thank the member opposite for bringing that to my attention.
Mr. Speaker, a major and significant initiative of the Department of Education is to enter in, as is the obligation within the Education Act, and review the Education Act after a 10-year period. We are doing that now. We are moving forward. The steering committee itself is composed of two representatives - each from Yukon First Nations and from the Yukon Teachers Association - two parent representatives, as well as two departmental officials.
Throughout the planning process, the committee was guided by the goal of maintaining quality education for our students here in the territory. Three major operating principles underlie the entire workplan. The first one is inclusiveness. As many Yukon citizens as possible will be encouraged to submit their ideas with regard to the changes they wish to see in the act. On accessibility, public response will be collected through a variety of means and a completely open process. The public will be able to see that their comments are included in the process of developing the recommendations.
The consultation phase of the review is currently underway, with officials already having visited Dawson. They will be visiting many other communities until mid-December. Information sought will include: what in the current act is needed to be updated or changed, what may be needed to add to the act or taken out of the act, and what people envision as the ideal education system.
Mr. Speaker, we already have, in the territory, a wonderful education system. The quality of education that is provided to our students is second to none. We are looking at options to improve that, because this government believes that we can always improve ourselves.
The Education Act review is an opportunity for all partners in education to build on existing strengths, identify current and future needs, and ensure that the legislation allows those needs to be met. To that end, eight sample topics have been forwarded by the Education Act steering committee. These topics are but just a few of some of the ideas and some of the thinking and discussions that have already been expressed about the Education Act.
With regard to teachers, principals and paraprofessionals, questions have arisen about who should hire principals, how they should be evaluated, and whether or not they should have the same security as other educators. Some people who work in the schools as remedial tutors, education assistants and native language teachers receive very little attention in the current act. The role of the vice-principal is not clearly spelled out in the act and is something that should also be addressed.
On alternate schools, schooling and curriculum: over the years there has been growing pressure to use school systems to educate children about topics that are traditionally dealt with in the home. These topics may have merit, but they are taught within the existing time schedule, with more traditional core subjects. The result is a curriculum crunch: too many programs, too much information and too little time.
Some parents and educators worry about the impact of this crunch on reading, writing and arithmetic. The Education Act provides the opportunity for communities or even groups within the communities to form school boards and take a more direct role in the decisions that affect the education of their children.
To this point, only the francophone community has chosen to do so by way of a school board. The concept of representation and/or school boards may need further discussion, especially where First Nations are concerned. Along with an increased role in decision making by students, there's also a call for increased responsibility and accountability. Regular attendance at school is essential for learning. Failure to attend has been viewed as a student's responsibility; however, the role of the parents in supporting school attendance is vital. Some parents want to be more involved in the decisions about students learning in their schools by developing strategic plans in partnership with school administrations and the Department of Education. More direct input by parents would be vital and would be energizing, not only to the school system, the students, but also to the Department of Education.
Currently there are a variety of school starting dates, holiday times and school year ending dates. Under this system, it is possible for an individual family to have children following two or three different school calendars. Ideas on ways to streamline this situation will be sought with counsel from members in the community.
The success of the kindergarten program has inspired a call for the addition of a junior kindergarten program or a full-day kindergarten program to help children who are not yet ready for grade one. Other readiness programs are also available for children, yet some Yukon people would rather see increased support for the whole family so that the parents can adequately prepare their children for school. I do expect changes to the regulations that will flow from the review. This work would be undertaken following the delivery of the recommendations on the Education Act next year.
But, Mr. Speaker, the Department of Education is more than just schools and students. The Department of Education has the advanced education branch, which looks after the education needs of yes, some special students within the school system, but also outside the purview of the school.
A prime example of that, Mr. Speaker: earlier this week I had the pleasure of attending a rather unique and very heart-warming exercise in the grand opening of a program called North of 55 - and I'm sure my colleague, the Minister of Health and Social Services, will be very delighted to hear about this program.
North of 55 is a unique pilot project that benefits older members of the Yukon workforce, people from the ages of 55 to 64. This project was started through the generous funding of the Human Resource Development Canada department, with sizable contributions, as well, from the Yukon Department of Education and the Department of Health and Social Services.
As you may remember, Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada announced last year that it would invest $30 million over three years for people to fund pilot projects with territorial and provincial governments. These pilot projects would have the task of finding new ways to keep our older workers involved in meaningful and stable employment.
Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to say, Yukon is the first jurisdiction in the whole of Canada to start one of these pilot projects. Our advanced education branch was very quick to see the benefits, and it negotiated the first agreement with the federal government. It then contracted Up North Training Services in Whitehorse, which did valuable work in helping the branch to develop the pilot project that is now called North of 55.
Mr. Speaker, several groups and levels of government have been involved in the development of this Yukon project. I have mentioned Human Resource Development Canada, which will contribute $600,000 to this two-year project. The departments of Education, Health and Social Services are contributing a total of $190,000 over two years. The Department of Justice and the Public Service Commission provide input to the development of programs to the North of 55 project. The community strongly recognizes the need for this project. Groups such as the Yukon Council on Ageing, the Council of Yukon First Nations, the Learning Disabilities Association of Yukon and local employment agencies have helped plan this very important initiative. They know, as we do, that the population of older adults is growing.
Speaker: If it please, the minister has two minutes to conclude.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: In fact, Mr. Speaker, people 55 and older make up the fastest growing segment of the Canadian population. This fact is also reflected in the Yukon.
In closing, I would again like to mention that it is important for me to recognize my constituents and the reason that I am here. My three portfolios do keep me very busy, but never too busy to talk to them, to listen to them, to see them, to visit them. Ultimately, as I have said early yesterday evening, they are my bosses. If I do not listen, I know I am not doing my job.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to reaffirm our government's promise to provide Yukoners with a different style of government. Our pledge is to be open and accountable in more ways than just words. It is an action plan that guides our actions every minute of every day. Yukoners voted for change, and we are going to supply it. Voters told us they wanted change in a way that their tax dollars are spent, and we are listening. We are open and accountable and responsible.
We will manage taxpayers' money in such -
Speaker: Order please. The minister's time has expired.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, it always gives me great pleasure and it's a privilege indeed to be able to stand and - speak about my riding and what constitutes my riding - a very special place, a very unique place.
I was born and raised within my riding, Mr. Speaker, so I have very deep feelings toward the people, not only of my riding but all of the Yukon, because I do see the folks who live in my riding reflect all of the Yukon. They're very much the Yukon: the old Yukon, the new Yukon, the real Yukon.
My name is Yasen. In the Tlingit language it means to look, to observe, and also to listen, to be able to hear. All the folks here know that it's rather hard for me to listen most of the time, so you have to work harder to listen and I strive to work harder to listen.
I have heard many members across the way speak of the Yukon and their link to the Yukon, what brought them to the Yukon and how proud they are to be a Yukoner, whether you're born here in the Yukon or you just found your heart and you planted your seed here in the Yukon, and it flourished into a loving family or just a love for the Yukon.
Well, that is the old Yukon. I remember growing up as a boy, and there were no colour distinctions at that point in time. I didn't understand that there were colours. We played together, we worked together, we suffered together, we spread joy and happiness together. That was old Yukon. That was rural Yukon. There were many transients, as I guess you could say - part of the army, part of the Canadian Army or the U.S. Army or the Department of Public Works as it evolved - and many of them here found homes.
I remember those days because those were days of hardships for the Yukon Territory, and the people in the territory had to work very hard to make a living, and I think that's what brings the strength to rural Yukon - that hard work, because hard work surely never hurt anyone.
There was such a great social life at that time. I know that, in many parts of my riding, we are working very hard in contemporary and traditional manners to bring that camaraderie back - that feeling of goodness - not only in the hard times, but also sharing the good times. We are working hard to do that.
When you look at the basis of the land claim, many people here say that the land claim was primarily to stop the Foothills' pipeline. Well, in part that may be true. It wasn't to stop the pipeline, but to get them to recognize that there are indigenous people in this country who should have a say, but did not have a say. It took many years of evolution to get to that point, and I am very proud to say now that, within my riding, there is a First Nation agreement that is finished and there are others that are very close to being finished. They are just putting the finishing touches to their agreements.
All those agreements speak about bringing people together. It provides certainty for First Nation people and also provides certainty for contemporary governments. That, Mr. Speaker, is what we have to concentrate on. We have to concentrate on fundamental values and directions that are contained within the land claims and self-government agreements. In those agreements, there is a very large spirit. That spirit is like the eagle flying over the Yukon Territory. It is pure and should be treated as such, because the First Nation people of the Yukon Territory did not give up land. We did not give up the land.
In my case, in Teslin, we selected, out of the 10,000 square miles of our traditional territory in the Yukon, 925 square miles. We put conditions on the rest - conditions of good governance and protection of the water, so that we might be able to share the bounties with each other, and so that we might also be able to control things through environmental standards, so that it just doesn't go to heck in a handbasket, I guess. We want to see it evolve, so that we always have that old Yukon here.
That is truly what the land claim is about.
I'd like to speak about Chief Hager, a very close friend and colleague of mine at this point in time. I remember many times when Chief Hager and I, a chief at the time also, sat together and thought, "How can we best work for the Yukon Territory?" And it was out of the mind of Chief Hager and his people that we should put something into the self-government agreements so that we might be able to have district governance, joint governance of native and non-native people for the betterment of the people who are there.
Did he have to do that? Did we have to bring that forward? Absolutely not, Mr. Speaker. That was brought forward by thinking of people and sharing for people. Because if the First Nations of the Yukon Territory did not share with the non-native people of this territory, it would be very likely a native territory again, and it always would be. So we must always maintain that in our minds. And as our people evolved through life - that we wish to share. But we have standards, very high standards. But we wish to share those standards, Mr. Speaker.
And so it's with great pride that I think of Chief Hager and how he looks to represent, not only his people - the people of Nacho Nyak Dun - but the non-native people who live within the traditional territory of the Nacho Nyak Dun. And he thinks of them. And it brings me to the school and to the postponement of the school, I guess I could say.
It was like a slap in the face to the people, Mr. Speaker, because when we brought that spirit forward of the land claim with love and generosity in our hearts - and you wear your heart where everybody can see it, it's so transparent - and yet you try to take and box love and purity and spiritualism. But you can't. You can't box that, Mr. Speaker. You have to be able to live it and you have to be able to trust one another with each other's life so that you might be able to live a good quality life.
But in an attempt to put these things together in packages, we sign land claims agreements, we sign intergovernmental agreements, we put descriptions of the word "consult" within agreements, and then we put our hearts on our sleeves, expecting that that might happen.
We know that, in a lot of cases, personalities take over, sheer energy takes over, and I've been a minister in government, too. I've also been a chief of implementation, and I've also been a war chief. So, I can play the roles of all, but deep down, I understand the work and energy that's required. I appreciate the dedication of everyone in this room, from the young backbenchers to the retired people and the retired ministers, and people such as me with the energy and the synergy that are required to make this work.
Am I speaking like a socialist? You bet. Because what I'm doing is opening my arms - my people are opening their arms and the people of the riding are opening their arms - so that we might have Yukon.
It is consistently said on that side of the House that we do not support the pipeline. Well, Mr. Speaker, that is absolutely wrong - absolutely wrong. If it weren't for the First Nations in my riding at this point in time, providing the jobs to natives and non-natives alike, the unemployment figures would be much higher.
But there are key words in my speech, Mr. Speaker, because I'm saying native and non-native together - consistently together - because that's how the communities look at one another. They are going back, and many of us can still look back and see the dream of where we want to go. We have that memory. The blueprint is there.
My grandmother's tutelage is embedded in my brain. She says, "[Member spoke in Tlingit language]." That means, "respect, you people." And I do. Do I get frustrated with you folks? Pardon me for saying "you" Mr. Speaker. Yes, I do get frustrated, because if you don't practice what we spent 30 years and practically $100 million on for a blueprint and guidelines, then what is expected from us? What is expected from us?
You can only smile and be happy so long, and then you can get totally frustrated, and you can break out the tomahawks again. We are not breaking out the tomahawks at this point in time, but I do want the government to recognize that there are agreements they must live up to and to live up to them. If you make a mistake, admit your mistake, because there is not one person on this side of the House who would not attempt to hold each other up because we are socialists and that is the way we feel and think of one another.
Mr. Speaker, we do walk the talk. We walk the talk. We want to see employment opportunities for all people of the Yukon Territory. I want to see the unemployment figures go down. I want to see the substance abuse figures go down. To those lengths, I can applaud the Minister of Health and Social Services for doing what he is doing. I might do it a little differently; and I would do it a little differently; but the minister is trying. The time frame is a little too long for me, but they're going to start thinking of prevention. Well, then, I can buy into prevention because prevention is something that is a basic, family, human value. It should be taught to us before we are a year old and then come up. When you take a young jasper like me, 49 years old now, and try to change me, it is pretty doggone difficult. You have to be open to change. When you get into the mode of prevention when you are young, that is what you teach people. So I can applaud the initiative, but let's not put all of those healing initiatives into just one basket. We have to look a little deeper than that.
I listened, sometimes with delight, to the members opposite because I recognize the exuberance and the energy of their new caucus. I was there, and I recognize that energy, and I appreciate that energy. What they are doing is nothing new; what the government is doing is nothing new, because this side of the House, when we were in government, did exactly what the opposite did.
We brought our caucus together. We travelled with our caucus to the Yukon Territory, throughout the Yukon Territory, as many places as we could hit. We set Cabinet meetings in the territory because we wanted people to know these things. Now I hear the other side of the House saying that we didn't do those things. Well, Mr. Speaker, I can't stand on the floor of this House and argue back and forth when, in my heart, I know we did. In my heart I know that we had many summits with First Nations. I can think of four right now that we held with First Nations. Were they easy? Were they difficult? Yes, Mr. Speaker, they were extremely difficult. They were extremely difficult for the leader of the third party, the official opposition and me, because we have been at that level. We said to each other at one time, "We have to go another step so that we can continue to massage this on behalf of all people, not just ourselves, not just ourselves."
So, that's what we bring. And when I hear people on the opposite side of the House springing up and shooting from the lip and the hip, it goes against the government's action plan, it goes against their thoughtful and considerate ways of moving forward, because everybody wants a chance to talk.
Well, Mr. Speaker, when I heard the Member for Whitehorse Centre talking about the pipeline and continually bootlegging in points that said that we don't support the pipeline and that if we're going to lobby with the big boys, we have to get at it, and I know that, if my constituents don't like it now, they'll appreciate it in 10 years. Well, that tells me something completely different. It tells me that you're going to go in that direction whether the people want you to go in that direction or not.
This also goes on to elaborate, Mr. Speaker, that we have looked at the environmental side of this. The environmental side of this pipeline has not been looked at for 20 years. Does the government plan to go on what the Member for Whitehorse Centre has said? He said that we have looked at the environmental side and away we go. Well, Mr. Speaker, that pipeline is going to go right through my riding. It's going to go 500 yards away from my home. And I ask questions. I'm a traditional person in a lot of ways. I spend time on the land; I make a living off the land at this point in time. Right now, I make a living off the land. I get my medicines off the land, for my parents, for myself and for my grandchildren.
And what is there to say that I'll always have access to that? I go hunting; I observe the sheep, and I look at these things for my family, and I do this for my family, and I say, with others, how can I maintain access to this? I want the jobs for the people, I want the suicide rates and the sexual abuses to go down, and abuse against women.
And I know that it has to be balanced through prevention and economic development. But by gosh, shouldn't we take a more contemporary look at this? Shouldn't we be looking at this with a view now at the way the diamond mine was brought into the Northwest Territories? They put together a ministers' review panel, and they called for special things to show that the people want the pipeline on these parameters - and this is how we move forward on these parameters. That's total buy-in, Mr. Speaker. A foreign concept, because it's a socialism concept, maybe. It's a concept that's dear to my heart.
Mr. Speaker, that has to happen. That has to happen if we want the pipeline to go. So, I hope the scribes on the opposite side are listening to what I'm saying, and writing down some of the thoughts I'm expressing, so we might be able to move forward, and not move backwards with this; to do the best thing for the people, the economy and the environment of the territory. And to allow people such as myself to be able to take my grandchild onto the trapline, as I so look forward to, and teach him what I know, and to instil that oral tradition, and those old, ancient traditions of time into his head in a traditional manner, so that he might pass it on to his grandchildren.
That's why the land claim was brought forward - for those two initiatives: to put the pipeline in its place and for the recognition of the native peoples of the Yukon Territory.
So, I want the government - the members opposite - to dwell on what I've said and think about what I've said.
Mr. Speaker, in Teslin, where I was born and raised, my people wanted a land claim. We knew that we had old ways of doing things and we knew that we had to improve - well, not improve on them, but blend the contemporary ways in with traditional values so that we might be able to move forward. We did, and I'm so very proud of it - so very, very proud of it. We put together strategic plans that spoke to what the people wanted. I took my people through a three-week general assembly to get the truth - the deep down truth - of the direction in which they wanted the leadership to go. That was, first of all, protection of the culture. You have to think Tlingit and act Tlingit. That is difficult at times, because you can get lost in other ways. You have to focus. You have to protect the land.
That's how the Teslin Tlingit Council, at this point in time, allocates their budget funding. There's a lot of tough love involved in that, but the people didn't retaliate or rebel. They embellished what they had. They looked at it as an opportunity to move forward and retain our traditional values. Now, what the people there want is a forest industry. The First Nation has bought into the forestry industry. It employs native and non-native, but they want to do it in a very well thought out way.
So, we are into the land use planning exercises. We're identifying the different areas. We are identifying them so that we know that there can be trees harvested. We also know that there can be tourists taken in that direction and there is mining potential, as well. That's how they are focusing on it.
And we're doing it with openness - open arms, open ears and open minds. And the blueprint that we follow is the First Nation final agreements and the implementation of those final agreements.
Now, I read the Blues and I listened to what the Member for Lake Laberge had said about land claims and the implementation of land claims and to what she said about my leader, my colleague, my brother, the man that works with me, shares my vision and my dreams for people. And the Member for Lake Laberge is wrong. The leader did not say, "Stop negotiating these seven land claims because you're going to get credit for it." God bless you. Get at it. Let's settle some land claims. This is not political bounty. But at the same time, let's try and massage something in: new thinking, some type of vibrancy into the implementation of the claims. Because without the proper implementation of the claims, it's just like these Blues; they'll be recycled. You'll be able to blow the dust off them and nobody will give a rip. Well, I do. I care deeply about that. That's why I had to mention it, because I do recall those times in downtown Whitehorse, living here with my parents for the summer season and whatnot, and being antagonized by the girls next door, running around and pulling my hair and just creating general nuisances of themselves as they normally would. It was done in love, fairness, faith and enjoyment. It was a good time. It was a real good time in my life. I remember those times, and that's what I share with everybody in this House. I share that with the Yukon, and I know the Yukon will share it with me, because that is what we want for our people: to be able to move around. Everybody loves to hug a tree and to look at a tree. That's why a lot of us are here: for the wilderness.
Mr. Speaker, the implementation of those claims contains that little analogy of my history with the member opposite; maybe in spirit only, but it is there to be passed on.
I guess what I would like to sum up within the land claims is that the land claims are not to be cherry-picked. In the land claims agreements and self-government agreements, you cannot just pick what you want. You have to be able to take it and understand it; and if you do not understand it, talk to the people that negotiated it and do understand it and see what they would like to do.
What is also important to the people in Teslin in the cottage lots and the people that live in the cottage lots that are seniors are that some are not well seniors, and have to be visited by the doctor. They have to see medical professionals.
There are also people out there in the cottage lots that develop cottage industry, and they work from a little lot - sitting beside beautiful Teslin Lake - around the world. They cannot do that without a basic telephone service. They want the telephone service. They do not want the cheap political shots back and forth; they want the service. I believe that it should be there for them, because the Yukon is not a Third World country. I have friends and business people that live on the other side of Teslin that visit outside of Canada in the wintertime and go deep into the hinterlands, and they can contact their businesses at home through e-mail, yet they cannot do it from their place of business. We have to look at that again.
Ross River - I was quite pleased to see the caucus up there so that the Liberal caucus might be able to have a real good, in-depth look at Ross River. So often, we have heard in the newspapers the derogatory names that have been used about the community of Ross River. I am not going to say it; everybody here knows it. I have not heard anybody here say it, but I had members of the Cabinet come up to me when I was there, and they said, "I can feel it; I can feel the energy here. I can feel the goodness here." Boy, you wouldn't have known what that did to my heart.
That just made my heart swell, because that took three and a half years of solid work, and sometimes I had lead with my chin to get it whacked, Mr. Speaker, but you have to sacrifice a lot of things in order to move forward.
And so I encourage the community, and the government of the day, to continue with the initiative that we have started within Ross River. I encourage them to share that initiative with other communities. I know that the community of Carcross is looking for joint governance, and new ways of doing things, and so there are many ways of doing things. People are not sheep; people can move forward with their own thinking and do things in their own way - if we act as facilitators, not as dictators, or directors, or whatnot, but as absolute facilitators, and to be able to listen. So I absolutely encourage the government to continue with that new way of looking.
We have a new school up there now, and I heard the Minister of Education say in his speech up there that we should have the Internet, and long-distance learning. Well, I encourage the government to continue with Connect Yukon, to get the basic telephone services into the communities, to bring our communities into the 21st century, and to allow us to be able to flourish from home, and not other places.
In Ross River, there are mostly health and safety issues, and jobs. That's what it is, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I included the community of Ross River - and I say community-at-large in Ross River - in the decisions in the budget that would affect them. We spent $1 million a year on the Campbell Highway - and I don't know how the Member for Whitehorse Centre could hit the ditch three times coming home, because I did it in a snowstorm in a Cadillac with summer tires, and I didn't hit the ditch, Mr. Speaker. I didn't hit the ditch, Mr. Speaker. Maybe the old 1981 Cadillac that my friend loaned to me is just a gas guzzler - they're sure doggone heavy - but, Mr. Speaker, I didn't do it.
This government's not responsible for the deterioration of the Campbell Highway. It's - well, I'll tell you exactly what it is. It's a seed that the government's planting so that they might go into a private-public partnership with a consortium of people in this town. That's what it's for.
Do not colour me stupid, folks, because I ain't; I'm just hard of hearing. I can see it. I have many questions about that. I will leave them for another day and the television camera.
I included a community. I let them identify their priorities, because there are so many in road building. Now Grew Creek is done, and what is commonly called the Margaret Thomson hill is being done, hopefully, even with the bad rain this year. It's going to get done next year. It was an extremely rough year for construction. Government, I know, will have to help out a little bit, and I encourage them to.
But, I included a community, and the community also looked at the access road in Ross River. It's like a game of snakes and ladders going in there. Now, if the Member for Whitehorse Centre slipped off the road there, I would certainly understand that. That was a priority of theirs, so I would encourage the Minister of Community and Transportation Services to continue with that proactive approach, if he could.
Tagish - again, what a wonderful community. Many people, elders, seniors and young people are there. There's an assortment of people from around the world and around the Yukon. What an energetic, vibrant community. Many kudos to the advisory council of the day and from the past, as well as to the community club and association, because there, Mr. Speaker, is an absolute reflection of old Yukon - an absolute reflection of it - with people coming and going on horses and with dog teams. I know, Mr. Speaker, that they did want to have a lot of local roads fixed up. They wanted some zoning done there and streetlights on the First Nations lands. I encourage and continue to encourage the minister to look at those initiatives, because this is beyond politics. This is our children.
I encourage the minister to go, take the first right past the campground to the First Nations land and look how dark it is in there. The next time he is there in the winter, he should spin through. I know six-year-old children who sometimes have to walk to the school bus on the other side. Mr. Speaker, it's wild country. There are animals - bears and wolves - and our children are too precious for that.
So, they have basic health and safety issues; that's where we have to go. And, of course, they would like the roads maintained. There are a lot of seniors out there. They get worried sometimes about the ambulance services and the health services. There have even been some folks talking to me about a nursing station out there and bringing a nursing station in there, because it is a community. Tagish, I believe, is the largest community within my riding, and the rest are mostly incorporated. So that's an old-fashioned community doing it the old way, and doing very well at it. But those are their priorities, and they want the telephones in there, Mr. Speaker.
And in Carcross, as I alluded to earlier, they're looking for community government structures. They want their land protected. The land of the Carcross Tlingit includes Marsh Lake and area, parts of this Whitehorse area where we're at here, and what they want is to bring people together to identify meaningful development. That's what they'd like to do, and that's what they're going to do.
They have also asked for government to facilitate between the Tourism department and Economic Development department to come out and help with identifying some of the processes. I understand that that hasn't happened yet, but I'd like to see that it does happen. I ask that it happens and that it further moves ahead so that people in the community at large can look at opportunity. And there's golden opportunity in the tourism business there, Mr. Speaker - absolutely.
I'd like to speak about the folks in my riding who, I guess, are closest to Whitehorse, along the Lewes Lake Road. I can think of an entrepreneur, a lady, who works very hard in many areas to express her freedom, I guess, but, by the same token, to work and to work at home. But, Mr. Speaker, she finds it absolutely frustrating, as I do, that she cannot do that. She is simply 30 miles from Whitehorse but does not have a telephone. And then the politics go back and forth - I said this, you said that, and I said this, you said that - and then it turns around and you stay in each other's lives, but the reality is that there's no telephone service for those people.
And there's not just one person out there; there are many families out there who are in the cottage industries, living a rural lifestyle, contributing to the Yukon economy, and they need the opportunity. And I very much encourage government to be able to look at those industries. Let's put aside the duke-outs and let's do what we said we would do. Let's walk the talk. It was seven months ago when everybody was running around. Well, let's stabilize. We've got three years of government - make it a good three years. Listen to the people.
I guess I have to talk about Johnson's Crossing and its uniqueness, because that is certainly in my riding. There are not many people there. Some folks want telephones, some folks don't want telephones. Some folks are there because that's where they've always lived. Other folks are there because that's where they want to live. But what a unique little spot. The best doggone cinnamon buns in the country, too, and a wonderful little community. We should always be keeping them in mind when we look around at the things that affect them: the homeowners grants and those types of initiatives, because they're elderly people who live in those places, and they are people who are living independent lives and want to live those independent lives, but they need a little help too. And I know that we should be there to help them.
I guess I've got to show my toughness a little bit too, and no more nice guy. Well, I guess I'll always be a nice guy, won't I?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Keenan: Well, now we've got an argument over there in the ranks on the opposite side: one says yes, one says no. Become good socialists. Get together; make a consensus.
But, Mr. Speaker, the throne speech - or the memo from the throne, if I could say that - is supposed to present the government vision. Well, that is the government vision. It's like - I don't know - floating rubber ducks in the bathtub. Just splash around, and it will go any doggone place you want. Create a wave, you'll surf that wave at this time. Well, I do believe that that is what is happening.
The members opposite have adopted our budget, taken the scissors to it, cut the heck out of it, made a real good Liberal budget out of it, and then turned around with their own initiatives in a throne speech, and did not have the leadership required, because it was an NDP budget that they adopted but couldn't implement, wrote their own throne speech, but there was no leadership in there, so it's a memo.
By gosh, Mr. Speaker, I think there is due leadership needed there. So you adopt it for certainty and then cherry-pick the heck out of it. I think what that basically tells me is that the other side, if that is their way of doing things, are just socialists in disguise. That is all they are. When you become that, you do not know who you are, you become leaderless; you become adversarial; you become defensive; you take cheap shots - you take really cheap shots at the leader. "We met people in your riding who did not even know who their MLA was." Well, I bet I could go into Riverdale, Riverside, anywhere in the Yukon Territory - maybe with the exception of Old Crow - and ask people, "Do you know who your MLA is?" And they will say no. So let us cut with the cheap shots. Let's start performing; let's start to focus the energy that people have, and if people will focus their energy into good governance, there will be no time for cheap shots and there will be only goodness for the government and the people of the Yukon Territory.
Now, we speak of communication. I have heard it spoken of being forward and lateral. It is kind of funny when I hear a Liberal speak about being socialists and extending the hand, "I extend my hand to you; in my hand is an olive branch." Then when you come with something - whack - your hand is slapped. So, now, why am I going to put my hand out there again? For another whack? I went to the old school. My hands had been strapped enough in the establishments of these contemporary people, and I am not going to do it again. That is what it means. If you are going to extend a helping hand, an open hand, then for gosh sake, let us listen to what people have to say.
I am not going to say that would all get emotional and lose it, because I know myself. I know myself very well, but I know others in this room, too, who have been around for a while.
I am very, very upset about the lack of community vehicles. What is going to happen? We have gone out, and we have empowered communities -
Speaker: Order please. The member has two minutes to concluded.
Mr. Keenan: We empowered communities, Mr. Speaker, to identify their priorities, and we as a government put into place vehicles for them to tap into. If those vehicles are taken away - those budgetary vehicles - what other vehicle is going to be out there for the communities?
And I include the community of Whitehorse. Are we going to have to go out there and cut a bunch of spruce trees and cut them up into blocks and put them underneath those tireless vehicles? I do believe that's what's going to happen. So let's not take away without replacing some type of vehicle. Let's not put a burden onto the communities, including Whitehorse. That is just totally unfair.
Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pride to speak of tourism and to hear the Member for Riverdale South speak about tourism. A lot of those successes are because I listened. I listened to the film industry, and so when I hear the Member for Riverdale South, the Tourism minister, speak about the tourism initiatives, I can only applaud, because they're good initiatives. We're making money by taking pictures of the Yukon. A good New Democratic initiative, and I hope that the electrics package is not cancelled, because the electrics package is essential - essential - to the economy of the Yukon Territory.
Mr. Speaker, it was with some tough talking that I talked charters into coming in here, and I'm glad that I planted that seed because, if there are 2,200 new seats coming to the territory next year, it's from a New Democratic initiative.
Mr. Speaker, my last comment is that I caution the government, before they go into private/public partnerships, to really examine what your priorities are, because your priorities should not be corporations, but people.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Mr. McRobb: At this time, I'd like members to join me in welcoming a constituent from Haines Junction, Mrs. Enid Tait.
Mr. Kent: I would also like to thank the member opposite for the speech he just delivered. I hope that after four years, I can deliver a speech with the same passion as he does.
Before I get into my reply to the Speech from the Throne, I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Member for Lake Laberge for - yesterday, of course - on her one-year anniversary in this House.
Mr. Kent: October 25 is also a special day for me. As she was celebrating her win, I was celebrating my 31st birthday, in 1999. A year later, now, I can't say "same old, same old", when it comes to "How was your birthday, Scott?"
When I was campaigning in March, my first time out on the campaign trail, I remember a local reporter writing something about me in one of newspapers, and he said that Scott Kent is only campaigning on the fact that he is a sourdough, and at the door, all he spouts is economic platitudes. After the initial anger and the odd swear word were finished with, I realized that that particular reporter did me a big favour.
By saying that to me, he made me realize that there are a lot of issues and concerns that I have to learn to deal with. With the people of Riverside and campaigning through Riverside over that month, it was a very steep learning curve, and it didn't take me very long to adjust to all the different issues and priorities that they - the people of Riverside - were concerned with.
On April 17, when they chose me to represent them in this Legislature, I felt very privileged, and I still feel that way today. I will do my best to serve them, as they are my bosses. As we have stated, this government will be open and accountable, and I, too, will be open and accountable to my constituents. My door is always, always open.
In the Speech from the Throne, Mr. Speaker, this government set out seven priorities. One was the settling of old land claims; two was the rebuilding of the Yukon economy; three was achieving devolution; the fourth was developing infrastructure; fifth was maintaining quality health care; sixth was addressing alcohol and drug addictions; and seven was restoring confidence in government.
I'd like to address some of the points regarding these seven issues that are important to me. First, with regard to land claims: land claims affect many people in my riding, both First Nation and non-First Nation. The settlement of outstanding land claims is very important to Riverside residents, both in terms of closure and in terms of ensuring that all parties emerge from negotiations having felt the process was fair and equitable.
On October 16, I was fortunate to attend a meeting with First Nation chiefs that reinforced the commitment of both sides to work together on common issues. This was an important step in the process, and I hope the continued efforts of both sides result in the settling of all outstanding land claims.
On a personal note, at the October 16 meeting, I was seated with Chief Robert Hager, Chief Eddie Skookum and Chief Hammond Dick, and they all remembered my father's work with the Department of Indian Affairs in the late 1970s and into the 1980s. In speaking with my dad in the last couple of days, he also worked with the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes on many issues during that time, and he sends his greetings.
So in that sense, First Nation issues and land claim issues are a family tradition for me, but it is a tradition I do not want to pass on to my children. We need to settle land claims to create certainty in many areas. We need to create a sense of harmony among all Yukoners, a feeling that we are all one people, that we are all in this together and that we all have the same goal of trying to make the Yukon the best place on this planet to live.
We also need to create economic certainty. Only when land claims are settled can we truly focus on economic issues that affect us all, both First Nation people and non-First Nation people. We want to work hand in hand to expand their markets, to create long-term jobs, to make sure everyone has a bed to sleep in and food to eat. Yukoners deserve certainty.
When I moved here with my mom, dad and six brothers and sisters in 1973, mining was the number one industry in this territory. Mines like United Keno Hill, Whitehorse Copper, Cyprus Anvil were but a few of the operating mines. In grade two, I was fortunate enough to be taken on a tour of the Whitehorse Copper operation, and it was quite an eye-opener for an eight year old. Unfortunately, my eyes are now open for a different reason, as these mines are now shut down.
But what I do see is that we are trying to do our best to restore the industry to its more prosperous days. This government has introduced initiatives, such as the $250,000 mining incentives program, the "Welcome back to the Yukon" conference, held in Vancouver, and the MINE program, which focuses on management, investment in infrastructure, networking and education in the mining sector. This program will help provide clear rules for miners, review the exploration tax credit, ensure continued support for the Yukon geology department, and increase public awareness about the industry, to name a few.
While we strive to promote mining, this government will not lose sight of environmental concerns. The two must work hand in hand to foster a thriving economy, and we are all aware of this. We want and need both of these groups, because I want my children to have jobs and to be able to go to and enjoy all that our amazing wilderness has to offer.
While we enjoy our own backyard, and hope that our children are able to as well, many others travel thousands of miles to share in our treasures. Tourism is now the number one economic generator in the territory, and we need to keep it growing.
The Minister of Tourism's trip to Europe has already resulted in more flights coming over from Europe, and numerous new contacts were made that will result in more traffic from that continent. The dollars these tourists and tour operators spend here are important to my constituents. I have, among others, restaurateurs, retailers and wilderness tourism operators in my riding, who directly benefit from tourism spending.
All my constituents benefit indirectly from tourism as well, and from the revenue generated from the influx of dollars. These tax dollars contribute to many of the programs and services that Yukoners enjoy year-round.
I find the stay-another-day program to be very exciting, as it is a way to encourage much of the Alaska-bound traffic to spend more of their time and money here.
Convention Bureau funding is also critical to improving the economy through tourism. I had the opportunity to attend the Yukon Convention Bureau's annual general meeting in Dawson earlier this year. In speaking with many of the tourism-based business people there, they felt conventions to be a huge economic impact in the Yukon. The recent Kinsmen/Kinette Convention attracted hundreds of visitors to the territory, many of whom will return for a bigger taste of what we have to offer.
At the recent Sport Yukon annual general meeting, there was consensus to establish a close working relationship between Sport Yukon and the Convention Bureau so that sporting events could take advantage of Convention Bureau services. We all realize the huge impact on local businesses of sporting events such as the Arctic Winter Games, Dustball, the Native Hockey Tournament, the International Curling Bonspiel, the Haines Junction Broomball Tournament, to name just a few. Encouraging more sport-governing bodies to hold events here is very important.
My constituents have told me that they are tired of funds that do not produce results. The community development fund, the tourism marketing fund and the tourism investment fund were designed to stimulate the economy. We are reviewing these programs to ensure that they are indeed producing effective results.
Now, the pipeline. Oh, the pipeline. In the 1970s, the possibility of a pipeline worried many Yukoners, environmentalists and First Nations alike. Today, talk of oil and gas and a pipeline brings excitement to our territory. Environmentalists recognize that oil and gas development can be accomplished responsibly and that any pipeline would only proceed after passing stringent environmental scrutiny.
First Nations recognize the economic benefits that this development can bring to our Yukon community. They also recognize that new technology in the pipeline industry will allow for a minimal effect on their traditional territories while maximizing the economic impact.
As we push for the Alaska Highway natural gas pipeline to become a reality, this government is in constant contact with the affected First Nations to ensure that concerns are addressed and that they are included in the process. Just last month, at the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce meeting, it was announced that Paul Birckel, former Chief of the Champagne-Aishihik First Nation, has been hired as the liaison between the government and First Nations regarding the pipeline.
The hard work of the Premier on the pipeline should be recognized. The Premier's efforts have resulted in Foothills Pipe Lines Ltd. opening an office in Whitehorse. The Premier has reaffirmed existing treaties and approvals. The Premier has held and attended meetings upon meetings upon meetings with oil and gas representatives, and if the Alaska Highway natural gas pipeline does come to fruition, it will be in large part because of the Premier's tireless efforts.
I hear the side opposite saying that they do support the Alaska Highway natural gas pipeline, and I would ask them to stop sending mixed messages. When they were in government - in an interview on CBC radio on March 21, 2000, the reporter asked the former Member for Faro, the Minister of Economic Development at the time: "Now, you talk about the economy and a lot of Yukoners have identified that as the number one issue in this particular campaign that's going on. Is this," referring to the Alaska Highway natural gas pipeline, "part of your proposal to get the economy in the Yukon going?" The minister at the time, the former Member for Faro, responded, "In the case of the pipeline, we want to make sure we continue to push for the appropriate route, which we believe is the Alaska Highway."
That was when they were in government. Now, there is a press release issued by the NDP, October 6, 2000. The Member for Watson Lake said the Premier had far-off pipe dreams. He criticized Premier Duncan for paying too much attention to the futuristic hope of a pipeline megaproject.
And then, just yesterday in this Legislature, the Member for Kluane stated, "Some would argue that even if it proceeds - a one-time wonder - it could leave a big black hole in its wake."
We have to get together on this. This is too important to all Yukoners. A project like this would bring thousands of jobs, and millions of dollars into this economy. This whole House has to stand together on the pipeline issue, and I hope that all members of the House will stand behind Premier Duncan and me and all members of Cabinet in ensuring that best efforts are made to ensure -
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Speaker: Member for Kluane, on a point of order.
Mr. McRobb: On the point of order, Mr. Chair, the Standing Orders clearly state that members aren't to use abusive or insulting language.
The member opposite clearly knows that last night I stated that all parties were unanimously in favour of this Alaska Highway gas pipeline, and that was the end result of our motion, discussed within the past year in this House. Okay?
What we're getting is a different story. They're fabricating these press releases, with their spins on it, which simply are not accurate. And Yukoners expect more from this government that campaigned on demonstrating model, professional behaviour in this Legislature. What a disappointment.
Speaker: Member for Whitehorse Centre, on the point of order.
Mr. McLarnon: On the point of order, Mr. Speaker, the Member for Riverside was merely quoting directly from Hansard, and he has the right to quote directly from Hansard, and to quote out of recognized media outlets. He has said nothing beyond quotations.
Speaker: I can't really see that there is a point of order. I believe it's just a dispute between members. With that, I would ask the Member for Riverside to continue, please.
Mr. Kent:Before I was interrupted, I was just trying to get all members of this House to reaffirm their support for the Alaska natural gas pipeline, and I hope that all members will do so.
Now, I will move on to reply to the Speech from the Throne. The Minister of Community and Transportation Services also deserves credit for her work as minister, securing $2.4 million, which will go a long way to addressing water, sewer and solid waste management needs of rural Yukoners.
A story related to me by a Yukon resident hit home on the topic of decreased highway capital funding, a trend which we will reverse. This Yukoner has been involved in highway construction in the Yukon for many years, and he told me that this year, the last year of NDP spending, was their worst ever in the business. He said that they started two months late and finished three months early. This is a very sad legacy of the past administration.
The Government Services minister also should be commended on his seniors housing plans. Ensuring that our seniors are properly housed and cared for is of paramount importance to me, not because I'm close to becoming a senior, but because many of my constituents are in the latter stages of their lives. They deserve a choice of lifestyle opportunities that various housing options will give them. I look forward to these plans unfolding during our mandate, and to presenting these options to my constituents.
In response to health care, I realize that access to hospitals and medical services must remain a top priority of this government. Healthy choices and lifestyle issues must be addressed to ensure that rising health costs are kept in check.
I am proud to be an advocate of active living. My involvement in broomball, football - until that unfortunate accident earlier this season - and other outdoor activities has shown me how healthy choices can benefit Yukoners. These two recreational leagues, of which I am past president of both, totalled more than 300 members combined - that is 300 Yukoners who decided that a healthy lifestyle is important to them.
On another health issue, increased programming at the Thomson Centre is something that my constituents who reside there will be very happy with. My constituents at Macaulay Lodge and the Thomson Centre are also pleased that we have expanded the capacity of the new extended care facility by 24 beds. However, for myself, after reviewing the election results, I will be sad to see them leave my riding, because they gave me tremendous support during the election campaign, but they will be in good hands in Whitehorse West under the watchful eye of their new MLA.
I find fetal alcohol syndrome and fetal alcohol effects problems very disturbing. These are 100-percent curable afflictions that are far too common in our territory. Education and prevention are the only ways that we can eliminate these terrible diseases. I look forward to analyzing the recommendations from the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission report and seeing these implemented by our government. Taking an aggressive approach when dealing with all addictions is the only way these social ills will be cured in our society.
I would like to stand here and commend the efforts of the Watson Lake Students Against - it used to be "Drunk Driving," but I believe they have changed the name to "Destructive Decisions"- program. All indications that I have seen are that they are a model, proactive group. One of my personal wishes during our mandate would be to see the establishment of a SADD-style program in each and every Yukon community.
As the Commissioner outlined in the Speech from the Throne, and as promised in our election campaign, this Liberal government has committed to establishing a youth directorate. Contrary to what the leader of the official opposition said yesterday, which I can quote from Hansard here, "Where are the youth when it comes to the Liberals? There is nothing in the throne speech here about a youth directorate being set up." But then, as I was sitting back here listening to speeches, I was referring to the throne speech and I found on page 10 that it says that the Department of Education and the youth organization, Bringing Youth Toward Equality, are consulting with parents, non-government organizations, intergovernmental departments and other jurisdictions to lay the groundwork for the Yukon's first youth directorate. So, I'm not sure what throne speech he was reading, but nevertheless -
The Liberal government has committed to establishing a youth directorate, and it is a task that Cabinet and caucus has assigned to me as well as to the Member for Whitehorse Centre. Currently, several departments within our government have separate mandates to provide the programs and services to youth. These include education and training, recreation, art, cultural activities, employment initiatives, health and social services, justice programs, environmental initiatives, and various funding programs.
In developing the Yukon youth directorate, it is not only our intention to improve youth programs and services, but to also continue to be supportive of the many internal and external youth initiatives that are currently underway.
The interdepartmental committee on youth initiatives, chaired by me, will have the responsibility of overseeing the consultation process leading to the development of this new initiative.
This committee is made up of representatives from departments that have responsibility for providing youth services, including Education, Community and Transportation Services, Health and Social Services, Justice, the Women's Directorate, Renewable Resources, Economic Development, and Tourism. The background experience of the members of this committee will provide valuable guidance on next steps. The committee members will draw from their own involvement in past youth consultations and use this knowledge to develop recommendations regarding the directorate. Even more importantly, perhaps, will be consultation with and by Yukon youth, which will guide the formation of this new youth office.
To that end, the advanced education branch and Bringing Youth Toward Equality have been given the lead to conduct these youth consultations. These two groups have developed a plan to consult in every community in the Yukon, as well as have a series of meetings in Whitehorse. Meetings are chaired by a young First Nation woman from Carmacks and will take place, depending on where each community or group feels is appropriate. We hope to host a meeting in every school that has young people between grades 8 and 12.
We will be consulting with youth, from the Youth Shaping the Future Council, the Youth of Today Society, the BYTE Society, the Whitehorse Youth Centre Society, the Youth Achievement Centre and the young offenders facility. Additionally, we will target large gatherings of youth that will be happening in the next two months, such as the Dawson City volleyball invitational tournament. Youth can also access and answer the questionnaire on the yukonyouth.com Web site.
By consulting with a variety of target groups, we will ensure that youth who have differing needs will be given the opportunity to provide their input into what they feel is appropriate. A questionnaire will be distributed to all meeting participants, which will ask questions about the location, hours of operation, access, youth ages to target, appropriate qualities and characteristics of a youth office, and services that should be offered.
Next, the meeting changes to a focus group type of format that provides an opportunity to collectively discuss their thoughts on a youth office. Youth consultations are currently underway and started last week with Pelly Crossing and Mayo. We will be finished the youth consultations by the end of November. Internally, the Interdepartmental Committee on Youth initiatives will be responsible for developing a process to provide government personnel the opportunity to express their thoughts and ideas of improving youth programs and services. Obviously, there are several non-government groups and organizations that will be affected by this initiative. These include First Nation governments, municipal governments, parents and the many providers of youth services in our territory.
The Interdepartmental Committee on Youth Initiatives will be meeting this week to further develop a process for seeking their input. Finally, we intend to look at how other jurisdictions deal with youth issues. We hope that seeking advice from other provincial and territorial governments on their experiences, both positive and negative, will greatly improve our process. So when the Member for Mayo-Tatchun, who on October 24 stood up in this House and said, "They," being the Liberal government, "have no confidence in any of the members who are not Cabinet people to do any additional work," I take exception to that.
Restoring confidence in government is one of the major goals of this government and an action plan I wholeheartedly endorse. The caucus' recent tour to Ross River and Faro showed us just how neglected many Yukoners feel with their government. The excitement shown by members of those communities to our visit was overwhelming. It strongly reinforces for me the commitment I made to my constituents to conduct yearly walk-arounds and how important it is for Yukoners to see their elected representatives, and not only at election time.
I received a call one evening from one of my constituents, thanking me for visiting her at her home. That phone call made my evening and made me feel that I'm doing my part toward restoring public confidence in my government. Small gestures like those add up in the long run, as confidence works both ways. If I feel confident that I'm doing my job, I act more confidently and that, in turn, leads to my constituents feeling confident that I am representing them to the best of my abilities.
This government sincerely cares about all Yukoners and our focus during our mandate is to ensure that everyone is made to feel that way. We have some difficult decisions ahead of us and the road we travel on will not always be smooth, but I have the utmost confidence that no one will ever be able to say that we didn't try or we didn't care, because we do, Mr. Speaker.
Thank you very much.
Mr. Fentie: I'd first like to begin by applauding the Member for Riverside's presentation here this afternoon and his speech. If he weren't sitting on that side of the House, one would never know he was a Liberal. And I do value the way the Member for Riverside conducts himself. Some of the other members on the Liberal benches should maybe take note and possibly move him into a Cabinet position. He's performing quite well, contrary to some of the ministers we have in this government and their performances.
At any rate, déjà vu, here we are again, Mr. Speaker, to reply to another throne speech.
Now, I'll give credit where credit's due. This one is a few pages longer than the last one. However, it still is an empty, hollow vessel, framed in motherhood statements. It does not contain anything that would indicate to the opposition benches, to this House or to Yukoners where this government is taking us.
There's no vision, no direction and absolutely no content here that would show us where this territory is headed under this Liberal government's watch.
They have finally come out with a seven-point plan - what they are going to deliver over the course of their mandate. Settling land claims is their top priority. Well, that's an earth-shattering statement, because that's the same priority that successive governments have had in this territory for some 30-odd years. It has been going on that long. Hopefully, we will soon see the completion of land claims and the settlement of those claims in this territory.
However, I want to point out to the members opposite that there is now an imminent delay. The federal election has been called as of last Sunday, and will certainly set back the negotiations of the land claims in this territory for months. That is a fact. That's the way things are. So, we already know that this top priority is going to be delayed because of the federal election.
The Liberals have set this issue up as being their top priority, to the point that all other things in their plan stem from the settlement of these land claims. I urge the Liberals to look at their plan. I urge the Liberals to explain to Yukoners how they intend to settle these land claims in a timely manner during their mandate. Why can the Liberals and the Premier not come forward and explain to Yukoners how they intend to settle land claims? They can't do it the way the Member for Whitehorse Centre did it - by making a huge error and making the claim, during his reply to the throne speech, and I quote, "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."
It's a huge mistake. The First Nations are not taking this lightly.
Land claims began in this territory many years ago with the initiatives started by CYI, Together Today for Our Children Tomorrow. It was the First Nations in this territory that started land claims in the Yukon, not the Liberal government. I would argue that the reason we have not settled land claims in this territory over the 30 years that we have been negotiating is because of Liberal governments failing to live up to their fiduciary responsibility; that is why we do not have land claims settled in this territory.
When we deal with issues like section 87 and loan repayment, which are federal responsibilities, and they fail to act on those, we have a serious problem in our ability to settle land claims in this territory. That is an indication, although I want to give the benefit of the doubt, that the members opposite do not have a grasp on what these land claims really mean and what they are all about. On the settlement of land claims, we must also hear from the Liberals, the members opposite, especially the Premier, whether any other development or progress in this territory is stopped until those land claims are settled and completed and implemented. Is that the position? It is not in this throne speech.
You are saying your top priority is the settlement of land claims. The Member for Riverside just finished saying that there can be no economic development in this territory until those land claims are completed. Is that the Liberal position? The members opposite must come forward and explain that to Yukoners, explain that to this House, whether or not all other development and initiatives and programs in this territory are stopped until these land claims are settled.
Furthermore, how, as only one - one - party at the table, are you, the members opposite, going to be so sure that you will be able to deliver in making this your top priority? Tell us, tell Yukoners - in this throne speech, as you should have - how you intend to deliver on the settlement of the land claims?
Speaker: Order please. I must remind the member to address the comments through the Chair, please.
Mr. Fentie: The Liberal government has a duty to explain that to the Yukon public.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Fentie: Not page 4. The Premier tells me page 4. There's nothing in this throne speech that would indicate to the Yukon public how you're going to settle the land claims.
Now, they claim they have started a forum to deal with Yukon issues. Why do we not see in this throne speech - in this vehicle that is intended to show the public where this territory is going under the Liberal government's watch - what those issues are, and how this Liberal government intends to deal with those issues?
As I have pointed out, section 87 and loan repayment - without those issues being dealt with, what do the Yukon issues really matter? The remaining First Nations that have not settled aren't going to move until loan repayment and section 87 are dealt with. Where in this document does this government, which has made the claim that settling land claims is its priority and it will deliver, point out how they intend to entice the federal government to deal with those two very important issues - those two deal-breakers? I point out again, Mr. Speaker - a motherhood statement with nothing indicating how it's to be done.
And that's why Yukoners are having a problem with this government today. They don't know where we're going. They're trying to understand where this government's taking us, but there's nothing coming from the Liberal government benches explaining where we're going and how we're going to get there.
Mr. Speaker, I want to speak for a moment about land claims as they pertain to southeast Yukon and the Kaska Nation. The Kaska Nation has decided, instead of negotiating land claims in a separate forum as Liard First Nations and Ross River Dena have decided to negotiate their land claims as a nation, which includes the Kaska people outside the Yukon. That is a fact. They are ready; they are prepared. The B.C. government is ready; they are prepared. The federal government is ready. They are prepared to negotiate with the Kaska as a nation. Where in this document is the indication of how the Liberal government here in the territory is going to deal with that fact? Because that includes transboundary claims. What does that mean to this Liberal government? How are they going to deal with that issue? Is the Liberal government prepared to negotiate with the Kaska as a nation and include the transboundary claim along with the Yukon claim and negotiate the land claim to bring it to closure? Is the Liberal government prepared to do that here in the territory? It does not say so in the throne speech, yet they claim that the top priority is settling land claims. There is nothing here that would indicate to the southeast Yukon and the Kaska that they are prepared to do so.
So there are many problems with this number one priority of the seven-point plan. Recently, the Chief of Kwanlin Dun, after the Premier, who I must say did try to do something here in the land claim front by moving people around within the land claims secretariat, and I am a firm believer that sometimes changes tend to improve things a great deal. Fresh, new blood and fresh air always helps.
The Chief of the Kwanlin Dun was very clear: we will wait a couple of months, and if we don't see any tangible progress, we're walking away from the tables. How, then, with the federal election upon us and with at least six months of being in neutral on the federal front, is the Kwanlin Dun land claim going to show any progress? I see the Liberal government having put themselves in a very precarious position with this claim. I think they owe the Yukon public an explanation of what they intended to do by making the settlement of the land claims their top priority, without pointing out how they were going to do that and how they were going to get us there.
We all agree in this territory that it is time to finish the land claim issue. It is time to move on. More importantly, it is time to implement those that are settled already. There's nothing in this throne speech that indicates to us in the opposition or to the Yukon public how the Liberal government intends to do that.
Mr. Speaker, achieving devolution is another motherhood statement. We have heard that statement from successive governments over and over and over. To the best of my recollection, we're well past a decade now of the very same statement. Again, how do they intend to do that?
According to recent past history, negotiations for devolution were completed, and the Minister of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development made the commitment that the transfer would take place April 1, 2001. It's in writing. Now this Liberal government claims that they were going to negotiate devolution. What negotiations are those? The negotiations and the deal were signed.
Again, with the federal election upon us, we are going to have a substantial delay while the federal ministers get all organized and a new Minister of DIAND is chosen. It's the typical thing that happens when governments re-elect, pick their Cabinet, everybody gets briefed. In the federal system, of course, it's much more exaggerated, given the size.
The member opposite, the Premier, is jibing me about whether I'm wearing my Reform hat or my NDP hat, and I'm proud to say that I am very diversified in my thinking and, furthermore, when it comes to my community, I am their mercenary. So what hat I wear is irrelevant. Today I'm here on this side, holding the Liberals accountable for their claim in this empty, hollow vessel they call a throne speech.
I would also point out to the Premier, what hat is the Premier wearing, having been a member of the Conservatives and the Yukon Party and a member of the Independent Alliance? She wouldn't run for the Yukon Party because then leader, Mr. Ostashek, would not give the Premier that deal that the Premier wanted; therefore, she jumped ship to la-la Liberal land. Well, the same holds true. In this territory, Mr. Speaker, all political parties and entities are trying to capture the same ground. There are only 30,000 people in this territory, of which 20-some thousand vote. So, we have to be astute enough in the political field to capture the ground.
Devolution, Mr. Speaker, is one of the most important initiatives in this territory and, as I pointed out, it's gone on for over a decade. The reason it's so important is that we in this territory are much better able to respond to the needs and the desires of Yukoners than our colonial masters in Ottawa, who are not responsive to Yukon needs and desires of what we require here daily, never mind in the longer term.
I was hoping that this throne speech would show us how they intend to do that as government. The Member for Riverside and other members opposite have made the call, "Join us; work with us." Well, give us something to make that decision on. Give us something to draw that conclusion. There's nothing in here, and that's what this was intended to do. It is the road map, the blueprint of the Yukon Liberal government's decisions and directions and visions for this territory, from now into the future. It's not here; it's lacking, and that's why I say this is an empty, hollow vessel. We need to see some content to be able to work with the members opposite, and Yukoners need to see some content so that they can become confident that their government is actually taking them in the right direction.
Now, let's look for a moment at the First Nations, and let's take this back to the Liberals' top priority of settling land claims. The First Nations in this territory are clear, from the Grand Chief of the Council of Yukon First Nations to every chief of every First Nation - all 14 of them in this territory - no devolution until our land claims are settled. How can this be one of the points in their seven-point plan? If they can't get land claims settled, they can't deliver on devolution and have the First Nations onside.
Why, in this throne speech, do we not see the blueprint, the road map, how the Liberals intended to do this? They put it in here. It's here. They claim that settling land claims and achieving devolution is their priority. How are they going to do it? The First Nations are very clear. They said no, land claims first. Is it the Liberal government's position that they would proceed and bring closure to devolution before the land claims are settled? Is it here? No. Is that what you're saying? Is that what the Liberal government intends? First Nations want to know. They're waiting.
Mr. Speaker, let's move on to developing infrastructure, which has gone on in this territory since its beginnings. Whether in communities, whether it be highways, infrastructure has been something that has been ongoing. Some governments take different views and develop different types of infrastructure.
This government, the Liberal government, claims, first and foremost, to rebuild highways. They're going to rebuild highways.
Well, the Alaska Highway is pretty well done on the Canadian side. From Watson Lake to Whitehorse, it's complete. From Whitehorse to Haines Junction, other than a section in between, it's complete. What do they intend, on rebuilding highways? They're going to rebuild the rebuilt Alaska Highway, or are we going elsewhere?
Secondly, on the north end - the Shakwak - the U.S. government has provided significant funds to complete that project. Luckily enough, the former Minister of C&TS managed to negotiate those final monies, and it's ongoing. And this year, one of the biggest road contracts in the history of the Yukon was let, and a Yukon road-builder was successful in obtaining that contract. And I was just talking to one of his employees the other day in the bank, and they're still out there working - still working out there, 16 kilometres of road.
Now, I want to point a little something out on road-building. Is it this government's intention to make road-building a megaproject, in terms of developing infrastructure? What do they intend by it? What do they mean by it? It's not in the throne speech.
I'll give you an example. There's only so much capacity in this territory by Yukon contractors. Is it this government's intention to open up a big megaproject on the Robert Campbell Highway? I caution you. You could open the door to North American Road, Thompson Brothers, Geddes, Doug Gordon - the list goes on and on and on.
Move slowly so that Yukon contractors get the contracts and we maximize the benefits here in the territory. I say that because, if outside contractors are allowed in, money will flow out of this territory, money that this government is intending to spend on infrastructure development. We need the money to circulate here in the Yukon. That is why we need to know what they mean in the throne speech, the roadmap, the blueprint, and how they intend to do it.
You asked for our support. If we knew what you intended to do, you may very well get our support; but how can we support something we do not understand, and we have reservations because it may cause a situation where Yukoners' money flows out of this territory as it has in the past many, many times. I think we are all aware of that, in the road-building business, too.
The other mention of infrastructure in the throne speech is water and sewer. I overheard the Member for Whitehorse Centre claim that we are going to put water and sewer as infrastructure development in the communities. What if a certain community does not want water and sewer as infrastructure development, and it wants something else? Now, I want to point something out - why we need to see more content in throne speeches and more content coming from the opposite side if they want us to support initiatives that benefit all Yukoners.
The Member for Whitehorse Centre said, "We're going to build water and sewer as infrastructure, not recreation complexes." Well, I want to point out, number one, that recreation complexes are infrastructure: (a) It is an asset to the community; (b) It is a place where many positive activities can take place for citizens of that community. In contradiction to the Member for Whitehorse Centre's points in his reply, the Minister of Health states that we need healthy living.
We're taking our health care system and we are steering it toward active, healthy living. Well, I would ask what is wrong, then, with recreation complexes as infrastructure. It does promote active, healthy living. Maybe some communities want recreation complexes.
Let's deal with a specific community: Watson Lake. I can tell you, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the majority of the people in Watson Lake's priority for infrastructure is a road to resources. That road to the southeast Yukon doesn't have to be built in its entirety, but we have developed a process for timber harvest agreements and THA candidate areas where this road should go. Mile 0 should be in the community of Watson Lake. What about that as infrastructure? Nothing is in here.
The people of Watson Lake are wondering now where this government is taking us. They make the claim that we are going to have oil and gas development in the southeast Yukon. I will touch on that when I speak to the economic portion of this speech, but we have a long way to go to maximize the benefits from oil and gas in the southeast Yukon - and anywhere in this territory when it comes to oil and gas - because it's a highly specialized industry. Yes, we can get into seismic and slashing rights-of-way - whoop-de-do. It's all short term. Once rights-of-way are complete, it's time to drill. Mr. Speaker, do you see any drilling rigs in this territory? No.
In the Yukon Territory, whether it be in the north or the southeast, in all likelihood, the depths of holes to be drilled are deep enough that we need triple derricks.
One triple derrick consists of this amount of crew. Each shift had a motorman, a derrickman, a roughneck, a toolpush and a leasehand - three shifts, add it up. When a triple derrick rig is moved it can be in its entirety, including camp facilities, 90 loads. This industry is so highly specialized that that one rig of 90 loads can be moved, set up and commenced drilling within three days. Who in the Yukon is capable of doing that?
Our point on this side is that when it comes to oil and gas, we have a lot of work to do to bring ourselves up to that level, to maximize our benefits. Yes, we will achieve some work, some jobs. But we've got a long ways to go. And I would point out that drilling rigs are paid by the foot, not by the hour. So they're not going to spend a lot of time trying to scour the countryside to see if they can find a motorman, a toolpush, a derrickhand, a roughneck. That's why we commenced the training programs in oil and gas. We need more.
Further to that, the Kaska people are very clear: their priority is the settlement of their land claim. The Liberal government can talk to them all they want about pipelines and oil and gas development, but there is much more to the Kaska people involved here.
Now the Premier, yesterday in Question Period, made mention of an agreement. Well, that began a couple of years ago at the economic table. And the first phase of activity in the southeast Yukon began a year ago, in terms of the seismic work.
Those are the facts. We asked the Premier how many jobs have been created in the six months this Liberal government has been in office. How many? We didn't get an answer, because there haven't been any jobs created by the Liberal government. They have killed them. Yet, they ask us to work with them.
The Liberals are making claims regarding the development of infrastructure that it's all about highways or it's all about water and sewer. I, for the record, would point out that it's much, much more. When it comes to budgeting, you will soon learn that, because all the people in the territory don't want water and sewer and all the people in the Yukon Territory might not want a highway. They might want something else. There's much work to be done in that regard. So much for that part of the seven-point plan. Though it has merit, where is the content? How do you intend to do it?
Speaker: Order please. I would like to remind the member once more to direct his comments through the Chair.
Mr. Fentie: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Where are the content and the blueprint on how the Liberal government intends to do that, as it relates to all the other needs and desires of Yukoners in Yukon communities?
Now, let's look at the part in the seven-point plan about rebuilding the economy. All right, rebuilding the economy. Well, I can accept that, but I would put it as "diversifying the economy". For far too long, this territory has been dependent on one economic engine - mining. Well, for some reason, the members opposite seem to believe it was only a few years ago that mining started to decrease in this territory. This is not the case.
Mining has been dropping off in the Yukon Territory for almost 15 years. Diversifying the economy should be part of the plan. Diversification is the key. When Yukoners heard the Liberal government say, "We are going to rebuild the economy", they did not know that the Liberal government was going to dismantle it first, before they begin rebuilding.
When we look at the forest sector, the Premier has made excuses beginning with "planned hiatus," and it goes on and on and on and on. In the business case, when we talk about the south Yukon in particular - well, there is no business case in the forest industry unless there is security of timber. That is why the request was made for bridge financing. There was no reason to be in this delay to secure access to timber. This side of the House, the former NDP government, was prepared to sit down with the community of Watson Lake immediately upon the election wrapping up and begin the planning process to build a road - Mile 0 at Watson Lake - into the DHA candidate areas to secure consistent access of timber. Once that would have been done, the industry had all kinds of access to capital dollars from financial institutions. Those are the facts.
Secondly, a huge mistake by the Liberal government is to put Renewable Resources in the lead on forestry. It is a contradiction. Forestry is much more than just wildlife and environmental concerns and much more. Where is the economic leadership for forestry in this government?
We haven't seen any yet. All we hear from the Premier is "pipeline, pipeline, and pipeline". That's the future. Now, the Premier is grasping at straws by claiming that the opposition opposes the pipeline.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Fentie: No, we didn't say that at all. Read it, quote it. We said it was a pipe dream, futuristic. Nobody opposes the pipeline on this side of the House. Nobody opposes the pipeline on this side of the House, and I point out something else - I would make a wager on this - that in the mandate of this government, you may not see one length of pipe laid in the Yukon Territory. That is something that should be considered at great length by the members opposite.
First, let's look at the fact that this Alaska Highway pipeline inception is 20-plus years old. There are reasons why it wasn't built then, and there may be reasons why delays will happen again. All we're pointing out on this side of the House is that there has to be more. Where is it in this throne speech? When it comes to the economy of this territory, where is the direction, where is the blueprint? It isn't there. All the Premier and the Minister of Economic Development could put in here is about a pipeline and mining.
So, let's talk about mining. There's a big hoopla about flow-through shares. Whoop-de-do about the flow-through shares. Well, that process also began a year ago. That process began in Charlottetown and was led by all the jurisdictions of Canada, which said, along with the industry, that Canada is losing market-share of investment dollars in mining. We need the federal government to act by implementing incentives to bring back some of that investment. Ralph Goodale, Minister of Natural Resources Canada, representing the federal government at the Charlottetown mine ministers conference, committed to every province and territory and to the industry to take back to Cabinet that request to develop a new and improved flow-through program.
However, beyond that, it is also a fact that the industry here in the Yukon, though it may benefit from a flow-through program, believes it's too little, too late.
I didn't say it. The industry representative said it. Well, if I were the Premier, I would check the news transcripts, because their comments are that there are two main problems for the mining industry in the Yukon Territory. The number one problem is world metal prices. The number two problem is the inconsistencies of the federal government's process for permitting and screening and all the rest of that side of development. They need a much more streamlined process in developing, and they need a change in world metal prices.
So now, one of the only other segments of the Liberal's economic plan in this throne speech - mining - is also futuristic, because there's no indication that the federal -
Speaker: Order. Member has two minutes to conclude.
Mr. Fentie: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. There's no indication that the federal government's going to move on the issue of permitting or screening, and there's no indication on the markets that world metal prices are turning around. In fact, they're dropping.
And worse than that, in the investment community, the Toronto Stock Exchange is plummeting, plummeting down 800 and some points as of this morning. Future - what about now? Yukoners want to know how they can feed their families, go to work and pay their bills now. I urge the Liberals to look at every possible initiative they can to put Yukoners to work from today on, until we get to mining and pipelines.
Mr. Speaker, there's much, much more to deal with - not what's in this, but what's not in this.
I want to point out that if this seven-point plan is going to be delivered on, there has got to be a definite improvement in the Liberal government. The Liberal government is showing a great deal of efficiency in their ability to lead and manage the issues in this territory, and if their point about restoring confidence in government is ever going to materialize, they have to change that for sure. Yukoners are not very confident in this government and never will be if they continue to operate the government as they are. If you want the opposition to help and support, show us how you intend to do it. Do not come to us and claim that we will not participate in all-party committees after you have thrown out all those pork chops to your operatives and influence peddlers. You could have started with -
Speaker: Order please. The member's time has expired.
Mr. Fentie: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Ms. Tucker: I am honoured and privileged to be here to reply to the Speech from the Throne today. When the opening ceremonies took place, I was once again reminded of the role we have here in creating history. It became apparent to me that every action we take here will have an impact on future generations, and it is very important that all of us remember that the things that are said here can create a future that we look forward to of prosperity and peace or it can create a future of division. The things that we say here are passed along to our neighbours, our friends, and our children, and we should be cautious about creating ill feeling.
We have a vision, all of us, of where we would like to see the Yukon go. Sometimes that vision is different, but we all came here with the intention and the desire to have a healthy and happy future together. When we campaigned, it was not just about a vision; it was about performance and communication that we were to work toward and put into action the common goals that we saw.
And what is it that we're trying to do? When we put out this throne speech, the throne speech is a map. It's a guideline of where we plan to go over the next four years and to set into place the guideline for the next 30 years, because we can't manage effectively short term for the future of the Yukon. We need to manage with a vision to perpetuity. We need to manage with a vision for our children's children's children. If we don't do that, the short-term decisions that we make will create a vision that we didn't intend.
When I listen to some of the issues on land claims, I also hear the voice of my husband, who was born here in the Yukon. His family came to the Yukon after the Second World War. They were classified as immigrants and displaced persons. They didn't speak the language here. When he went to school at the old Lambert Street School, he didn't speak English. He experienced many of the senses of alienation that a lot of our First Nation people share with us. And I'm reminded that it's all of us in this together. It's people like me, who came up here 12 years ago. It's people like my husband, who was born here. It's people like our First Nation people who have been here for generations. However we got here, those of us who choose to stay, love the place and would like to stay here in a nice, healthy and happy community.
Anger in and of itself is rarely constructive. How can we manage that anger and put the energy in that anger toward fixing things and reaching consensus as to what needs to be fixed and where we need to go?
There's a different sense of time between many of us in the territory. Some of us want immediate jobs, some of us want long-term jobs. Some of us aren't really interested in having jobs as they are defined.
We look at the old Keynesian concept of the economy, which meant that everybody who wanted a job would work full time, 40 hours a week. If we look at the concept of full-time employment in Yukon, many people would say that they would like to work to make enough money to enjoy a lifestyle. And that's a whole different approach to working. How do we incorporate that approach to working into our plans for the future? What we want to have are options for people. What we want to have are career choices. What we want to have are education choices. Mostly, we want a healthy and happy Yukon.
When I look at my own community, in the Hamlet of Mount Lorne and the greater Mount Lorne riding, I have heard a number of concerns expressed among the First Nations and the other residents - non-First Nations - that there is a lack of communication on the community level. Mostly, that is a result of lifestyle choices, common interests, and where people spend their time. However, in order to get the community to work together, we have to try a great deal harder to encourage communication.
For me, when I look at the initiatives in this throne speech - rebuilding the economy, achieving devolution, maintaining quality health care, addressing drug and alcohol addictions and restoring confidence in government - I look around my neighbourhood and I see each one of those issues portrayed and being lived out. We have people who have had applications for land for 18 or 19 years, which haven't been resolved. We have people who have not been able to find employment for the last five years and have been intermittently working, on unemployment or on social assistance.
We are concerned about having some control and input into the development of our lands behind our homes, which are currently in the hands of the federal government. We want some answers from the government. That's one of the reasons why I got here, because I was finding it very difficult to get answers from the government. Was that because no one was communicating with me or because they didn't have answers?
I originally grew up in Ottawa, and from that experience I found that there was a great deal of difference between a large-city mentality, where you didn't know your neighbour, and moving to the Yukon, where you know just about everybody - look in their car as you drive by, and wave. The choice for me was to live here. However, I haven't forgotten, in growing up in Ottawa, some of the prejudices that develop between the French and the English, and how I came to the Yukon and I was surprised that there was really no understanding of the French-English problem up here in the Yukon.
However, what I found instead was a lot of problems between First Nations and non-First Nations, mostly based in communication. I think that everybody has a common goal, and I think that we need to sit down and talk about reaching consensus. And I was very pleased to hear the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin request if we could sit down and meet face-to-face and talk about some of the issues. It was about getting to know each other.
We need to walk together for the future. We need to make the decisions today for tomorrow, and we need to be partners in the truest sense of the word, having trust and confidence in each other to do the right thing, and to discuss what the right thing really means.
We currently have a contract for four years with the people of the Yukon, and we're hoping that by doing the things we said we would do, they will choose to renew our contract.
We would like constructive and helpful input from the members opposite, and we're willing to work with them in a spirit of cooperation. We would appreciate respect, and we're quite prepared to give it.
We've been asked for and support the concept of responsible government, and that means acting in a responsible fashion. I'm delighted that our Premier and our team work together. We have respect for each other, we have responsibilities, and we really enjoy each other.
There are a number of social issues facing the north, and I have some experience in working with both Government Services, with the Yukon Housing Corporation, being the chair of the hamlet council and having worked on land planning and land use issues.
My experience in property management has been that there is a great need in the Yukon to review the current housing stock, to improve it and to provide special needs housing. When I was working for the corporation, I found a lot of those needs were not being addressed.
While I was working in housing, I found that there were a number of people who, through drug and alcohol related issues, through behavioural issues, through FAE and FAS, were losing their housing because they couldn't manage independently. So, how are we going to address those issues? The Housing Corporation is working on the needs of seniors. Health and Social Services is working on alcohol and drug issues. We have some cooperative work going on between the departments to try and meet the needs of those of us who are coping with FAE or FAS, and trying to find supportive living environments for those persons who are now disenfranchised from our society because of a lack of understanding or a lack of services.
We don't have all the answers. However, we wish to be inclusive, and we wish to listen to people, to help them help us find the solutions.
Wellness doesn't come from outside. It comes from inside. What we can do, as a government, is to provide the tools to help people help themselves. Sometimes that's a matter of training, sometimes that's a matter of finance, sometimes it's education. What we do know is that all the ideas are not going to come from these people sitting here. The ideas are going to come from the community as to what they're ready for and what they really feel will help, and we'll try things. Some of them will work and some of them won't, but in order to find out what's working and what isn't, we have started a system to evaluate programs, and that's something that the government has been very, very poor at in the past.
The government traditionally has thrown money at every issue that has arisen. They continue to throw money at it. And we've never really had an evaluation of what's working and what's not working. We hear it from CDF, we hear it from TMF, we hear it from the arts community and we are hearing from social housing. We are hearing it from the health professionals. More money isn't the answer. I would like to quote the Minister of Health and Social Services announcing active living, education and prevention. If we mean to bring down the health costs of the territory over the future, it is not going to be by limiting services. It has to be through a process of educating people to help themselves take better care of themselves and their neighbours. It has to be through a system of cooperation where we work together and agree that to have a healthy community starts at home with active and healthy choices.
I was very pleased with the Member for Riverside telling us about the group of youth who are working together to make healthy decisions. The health teams are going out into the community to find out what's going on, to find out how programs are being effective and what's needed in those communities to empower both First Nations and non-First Nations in the communities.
In terms of developing infrastructure - infrastructure, as you said, isn't related to just roads and highways. The infrastructure is also providing all of those people who are necessary to support and develop a community. It's every person in that community working together to support the whole. We will manage taxpayers' money wisely.
I'd like to just digress into education for a moment. We've entered a whole new era of technology. And the whole concept of education delivery is going to change. In order to promote that, we've proceeded with the infrastructure through the Connect Yukon strategy.
In my own riding, we have a number of issues, and that is that, although fibre optic cable will be going by many people's homes down the Alaska Highway, on the Carcross Road, the cable is not going to be put in. It will be a bound system. Down on the Annie Lake Road, we have people living there who have no telephone service. How are we going to address those three very separate and different issues for people? The goal is to get education into the communities via the Connect Yukon strategy, but what does that mean to individuals along the route? They will be able to take advantage of all kinds of business opportunities through Internet. We have an Electronic Commerce Act coming forward, and we are hoping that that will be an added benefit to people. The training programs at the college are being reviewed. As there is demand, we are hoping to institute new programs in conjunction with the college that would benefit people so that they can take advantage of jobs as they become available.
We are taking steps to rebuild the economy. We need to continue to promote development and the Alaska pipeline. We also need to look at the concept of having a railroad come through the territory. The railroad has been a dream of many Yukoners over the years, and it appears that Alaska is ready to pursue it, along with the rest of the country. We are hoping that the bill will be passed in the Washington Senate, so that we will have $6 million to proceed with the research and development of the railroad route.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Tucker: I thank the members opposite for their comments.
When we talk about infrastructure development, one of the things that hasn't been mentioned today and that is of concern to me is the handling of waste disposal throughout the Yukon. And it's one of the areas that, when we're looking at infrastructure, we'll have to look at the small communities and see where they wish to go on that. There's some division among the communities about how they wish to dispose of their refuse, and it's becoming an increasing problem for us in Yukon, if we continue to have hundreds of thousands of people coming through. We need to look at that.
In order to provide sound fiscal management for the Government of Yukon, it's necessary for us to sit down and look at the money we have, the commitments we have made to the territory, and decide where it is that the people of Yukon want to end up in 30 years. We have stopped the previous trend of throwing money, on a day-to-day basis, at every issue that arises and have decided to sit down and take a hard look at where we want to go.
This road map sets out the overall direction. We don't have to sit down and give a blow-by-blow, detailed analysis of that because that will be coming out in future budgets. The members opposite have been very critical of our efforts to bring business to the Yukon, efforts to bring the pipeline through here, efforts to get the mining industry back in the Yukon. It takes time for the outside businesses to establish or re-establish any trust in the Yukon. We're working very hard to re-establish the trust that has been lost through previous administrations. Premier Duncan has been out there saying, "We will do what we say we'll do." And that means that when we develop a policy, strategy, or a set of rules, we will follow them. We have encouraged all the members in the community and the territory to participate in reviews of the legislation, so that we can have effective legislation and something that works for the business community. The minister responsible for the Liquor Corporation is working on reviewing the Liquor Act.
The Member for Riverside is busy with the youth directorate. I'm involved in renewable resource issues. All of these things are moving forward, hopefully to fruition over the next four years - or at least we'll get something in place.
The member opposite is correct. There may not be any pipe laid here in the next two years. The pipeline people say that they will proceed with the pipeline, and that it will be in and functional by the earliest, 2007, and the latest, 2010, if it goes ahead. Now, a lot of the timing on that will depend on what happens in the territory in terms of permitting, environmental issues, reviews of environmental strategies and how realistically the people in Washington and the people in Ottawa want to proceed, as well as all of the First Nations here and as well as the Yukon government. However, if we don't get out and do something, nothing will happen. At least we're out there doing something.
I want to commend all the members sitting here for working very hard on the Yukon housing strategy, on renewable resource issues, health issues and community issues, which is what the rest of us are doing, all the time. We're out there listening to people. We're trying to be constructive and get answers. We are trying to find a better way of doing business.
When we talk about restoring confidence in government, one of the issues for us has been access - access to the representation and finding out from everyone who works in government or uses those services how we can do it better; how to streamline; how to be accountable. One of the ways that we've chosen to do that is to put things on the floor of the Legislature for debate, by having open review processes and by having the CDF reviewed. How many people over the years considered the CDF to be a slush fund for friends of the government in power? We don't want to end up in an HRDC scandal. We want to find out where that money is going and whether it's doing any good. We want to know that every penny that we spend has value to the Yukon public, and that includes everyone.
Our efforts at land claims and our efforts to try and get people to agree to the future - and you say that nothing is being done. Well, something is being done. We're willing, we're open, and we will try to do our best to help things proceed in as open and accountable fashion as we can.
Small business - what's happened to small business over the years? They cease to exist. Small business has continually been driven into bankruptcy through the lack of business and the lack of confidence in this territory. Getting confidence and restoring confidence is necessary for us.
This government intends to focus on health care. We need to work with the rural communities. We've been asked to identify their specific health care issues, and to suggest solutions for them. Efforts are being made to set aside money to develop plans to enable communities to identify and help themselves.
The Department of Education is working in conjunction with Health and Social Services to try to proceed along those lines.
I'm afraid I can't read what the member opposite is waving at me; however, I will continue.
We are making every effort to lobby the federal government to assist in the transition to devolution. We are making every effort with the federal government to negotiate on many of the issues that have been mentioned by the other members of this House.
It is our belief that by working with the federal government we can achieve those goals - all of us, as Yukoners, working together at the table. Again and again and again, the message from this side - government - is that in order to achieve anything we must have consensus.
We're sensitive to the environmental issues; we're sensitive to the economic issues. What we are trying to achieve through this plan is a balanced approach to both.
It's all very well to set aside the entirety of the Yukon; however, most of us would like to have jobs. So, how do we achieve that? That's what we're trying to do; we're trying to find that road between responsible economic development, environmental protection and a future for Yukoners.
In the six short months since we were sworn into office, members of the government caucus have travelled to every community in the territory, talking to Yukoners. I'd like to repeat some of the things that I've heard. People have said to me that they voted us in because we were the only alternative. They were tired of seeing previous administrations fight, lobby back and forth, and go right and left. What they wanted to see was a constructive, middle-of-the-road approach where sensitivity to social issues was demonstrated and responsible fiscal management was there, and yet there was a commitment towards business so that people could go out and start businesses and succeed, and have a sense of self-respect.
The other issues that I heard raised were the concerns for health, as we've said. And their concerns were that we take a balanced approach again there. We've mentioned women, seniors and children. But there's a great deal of emphasis in the communities on the whole sense of family and community. And it would be to our peril to forget that. The Yukon is based on families and community. That's what we're going to try and work very hard to re-establish. It's not just about one portion of the population. It's about all of the population of the Yukon. We would like to work with the members opposite. We would like to hear what they have to say about their communities. We would like the members of the communities to come in and see us. We will go out and see them.
But if we stop dialogue, we will cease to have an effective government. So, our commitment to Yukoners has been that we will keep dialogue open, we will keep going to the communities, and we will keep going from community to community to try to understand the issues and resolutions that are put forward.
The other concern that I've heard voiced is the concern about tourism, and how we can get the benefit out of tourism without suffering some of the issues that have arisen in other countries with tourism. And our Tourism minister is working very hard on that. How can we benefit?
How can we benefit from tourism? Our Tourism minister has more seats on the planes coming over. We should have an increase in the number of visitors, and as everyone knows, everybody who flies in spends lots of money, so we're all looking forward to that.
We have a lot of educational programs developed around tourism, and how we can maximize both our service and our rewards in tourism.
There are a number of wonderful small businesses that have been set up to enjoy our wilderness tourism, and, contrary to the members opposite, we are very, very sensitive to wilderness tourism - ecotourism of the future - because it is going to be one of our biggest industries.
We have two ends of the spectrum. One is the high-volume road traffic and the other is the very exclusive, very expensive, isolated ecotourism. We have to find some balance there. Again, we have to sit down, with each community that we go into, and say, okay, what do you want to look like in 30 years, in 50 years or 100 years? Because the decisions that are made today are going to have very long-term impact.
The problem with the issues in the past has been that we've gone into the communities, and asked, "What do you want today?" What we really need to ask is, "What do you want 100 years from now?" I think - as the member for Vuntut Gwitchin said - that the First Nations certainly have an advantage here, because they do think in generations.
I think it would be to our advantage to pay special attention to some of the things they have to say, because they are examples to us.
Yukoners want to change the way their tax dollars are managed. They want to see results. But my sense from travelling around the communities is that they don't necessarily want to see results today. They want to see honesty, integrity, commitment and action, and they want us to go there together. And if we give them what they want, they will choose to bring us back here in four years, which is something I think the members opposite forgot. This whole job is about listening, and it's about taking what we hear and turning it into constructive action and taking a balanced approach. We committed to do that, we're doing that, and we're going to continue to do that.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, thank you. I especially want to say thank you to the people of Porter Creek South. I'm honoured to represent you, and I offer my thanks for giving me the privilege of doing that.
Always, I try to remember that this task is an earned responsibility, and it is fleeting. Most importantly, it is a position of trust. It's a contract. It's a contract with the people of Porter Creek South and with all of the people of the Yukon. It's a contract that my colleagues and I on this side believe in, and we remember every day that part of that contract is communication, which is a two-way communication. It's listening, as well as speaking.
Our contract was signed on the night of April 17, when the people of the Yukon accepted it. It was formally signed with a ceremony on May 6, when we were sworn in. Contracts are about offer and acceptance.
On November 6, it will be six months since May, and the throne speech that the Commissioner so ably delivered to the House a few short days ago outlines the contract we made with Yukoners.
We have often referred to it as a road map. A road map, Mr. Speaker, provides you with an idea about your journey; a direction of your journey. It doesn't detail every single stop for gas along the way. The members opposite have made much ado about saying, "Well, how are you going to do this." I would sound flippant if I said something the previous Prime Minister said about observing them. It's not a flippant matter. It's a very serious matter. This is our direction. This is our agenda, and this is what we're going to do. Most importantly, we do what we say we're going to do.
We said we'd be focusing on seven priorities: settling land claims, rebuilding the Yukon economy, achieving devolution, developing our infrastructure, maintaining our quality health care, addressing alcohol and drug addictions, and restoring confidence in government.
Mr. Speaker, it strikes me, in re-reading those points into the record and re-articulating them, that I could have put "finally" in front of all of them, because that's what people say on the street, and that's what we're going to do.
Later this session, I'll be tabling a supplementary budget with more details - more of the "how". We'll be doing that throughout this session and throughout the forthcoming sessions of this Legislature.
I might also add that there has been much hullabaloo from the members opposite about, "Oh, my goodness, are you going to do another throne speech?" Well, we might. Just because the previous government didn't like throne speeches doesn't mean that we're going to have one throne speech for a complete term of government.
It is perfectly acceptable to have more than one, as we have already demonstrated, and the members, I am sure, look forward to others.
My colleagues on this side of the House have spoken very ably about their constituents and about the various portfolios and ministerial responsibilities that they hold, and how they are reflected in this budget - or in this Speech from the Throne. Pardon me, I'm getting excited about Monday.
Today, I would like to focus on my departments - the Executive Council Office, Economic Development, Yukon Development Corporation, and the Department of Finance - and how each of those are working to support the priorities that we as a government have laid out and the priorities of my colleagues and I.
First, the Executive Council Office - they, of course, have the overarching role in the functioning of government. It is also the lead department in three out of the seven priorities: land claims, devolution, and restoring confidence in government. How do we do this? The Member for Watson Lake said, "Well, how are you going to settle the land claims? How are you going to do this?" And at the risk of being rude, which I do not want to do, there are reading recovery programs, and I would commend them to page 4.
We have reorganized the Executive Council Office to provide more focus on closing land claims and on developing government-to-government relations with First Nations. More senior resources have been allocated to pushing the land claims agenda forward. We have created new and streamlined decision-making processes to ensure that our negotiators can get fast turnaround on negotiation issues.
We know how important this is, and it is a priority of this government, and we are proving it every single day. The Council of Yukon First Nations and First Nation chiefs from Kluane, White River, Ta'an and Carcross-Tagish have invited the territorial government to participate in a common forum. Members over there tried to suggest that we have not done anything on land claims, that we have not done anything, that we have merely this last six months been collecting the briefing notes and adding commas to the speech, and that we are just drinking some of our fine Yukon water.
That's not the case. What we've been doing is responding and working on developing a strong working relationship so that we can do what we said we would do and settle these outstanding land claims.
The forum that I just mentioned - the common forum - will allow senior territorial officials and negotiators to address Yukon-specific issues.
The Member for Watson Lake, earlier this afternoon, said, "Well, so what." Well, quite frankly the "so-what attitude" is perhaps why there was only one claim signed under the previous administration - and that was as a result of the work of the administration before that. The willingness of both First Nation governments and the Yukon government to meet and resolve these territorial issues signals a new era of cooperation in the settlement of land claims. The members opposite love to say, "Well, that's what we were doing." Well, you just talked about it.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Speaker: Member for Watson Lake on a point of order.
Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, not only words in this Legislature can be used to cause disruption. Condescending manners and actions can also. I'm very sensitive, and the Premier is being very condescending.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: I certainly would not want to offend the Member for Watson Lake. I would be happy to withdraw the "you" that I just used in the sentence.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Speaker: Order. It sounds to me that this is a dispute between members. I would ask the hon. Premier to continue.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: There is certainly no dispute on this side of the House. We are happy to work with the members opposite.
Our efforts with respect to the settlement of land claims - and my comments don't denigrate the work that has gone on before; it doesn't steal anyone's thunder. It's about accomplishing this particular task.
I have been asked in Question Period about a new mandate, and I have answered that question. But just to review for the members opposite - they seem to greatly admire that word "review". Unlike the previous government, I have asked officials - as our caucus has supported me in this - to review the overall negotiation mandates as they relate to outstanding issues, to determine if there is greater flexibility.
And a great deal of time, Mr. Speaker, has been spent over the past several months in developing new working relationships with First Nation chiefs and with the Grand Chief, Mr. Schultz. This effort by everyone is reflective of an overall Yukon desire to see the settlement of land claims. And this is not to denigrate the seven final claims that have been signed. Unlike the previous government, we are willing to tackle Yukon government issues that remain unresolved.
We have also improved the First Nation relations secretariat. They are working on building government-to-government relations with First Nations. This will ensure that the Yukon government's relationship with Yukon First Nations addresses more than just land claims, but the broad range of social, economic and political concerns that we all share as Yukoners.
We're beginning a useful series of government-to-government meetings, and Executive Council Office staff are providing the support we need to ensure these meetings are well-organized and productive. They will also ensure that the relevant follow-up at the official level takes place in other Yukon government departments. The Executive Council Office is also supporting the Yukon government's First Nations summit process that was undertaken with the chiefs and our entire caucus on October 16.
Contrary to what some members may have misunderstood, the devolution agreement with the Government of Canada was not signed, and we have been making worthwhile progress on devolution at the officials level.
Later in this session I'll be making a more detailed statement on devolution. However, at this point, I would like to put the offer on the table - as I will be making it more frequently throughout the session - that the officials who are negotiating the devolution agreement are fully prepared, as they were when I was leader of the official opposition, to brief members of the opposition on this important negotiation undertaken on behalf of Yukon. I would encourage individuals opposite to take advantage of that.
There has been some discussion in this House with regard to economic development. Economic development is critical to rebuilding the Yukon economy, as well as restoring the public's confidence in government. In the past, the public has been disappointed by the special deals that other governments have negotiated - deals that often appear to have political motives.
As taxpayers, the public is often left footing the bill when the dust settles. This government's approach is to create the environment of certainty, confidence, opportunity, and, above all, fairness, Mr. Speaker - fairness so that all businesses can thrive.
What we mean by this is focusing on making government better at what governments do, and trying not to interfere with what the business community can do best. This means that this government is not in favour of special financial deals for specific companies.
Again, Mr. Speaker, I stress fairness. Fairness and financial prudence are our watchwords in this area. Our economic development policies will be transparent, open and accessible to all.
We have refocused the Department of Economic Development on the government's priority.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Speaker: Leader of the official opposition, on a point of order.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to correct some misinformation that the Premier is giving to this House.
She said that the NDP had settled one First Nation final agreement. She talked about fairness. This is fair to do. I have three documents in front of me, and she can look at them herself: the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in final agreement. Whose name is signed on there as the Government Leader? Piers McDonald. I have the Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation final agreement. Whose name is on there as Government Leader? Piers McDonald. We have a Selkirk First Nation final agreement. Whose name is on there for the Government of the Yukon? Piers McDonald.
Mr. Speaker, I think it's sad when a Premier is coming forward and talking about fairness, and yet has not recognized whose names are attached to these agreements.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, on the point of order, I will take the member opposite's correction in the fairness with which it was intended, and I will also note that I did make reference to negotiations by the previous government.
So, I would be happy to correct that if the member opposite wishes.
Speaker: Order please. I believe the Premier's explanation satisfies the point of order.
The hon. Premier may continue.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, thank you. I'll be delighted to continue, in the short time I have left, to respond to the Speech from the Throne. I am delighted that the members opposite are appreciating and paying such close attention to my words this afternoon.
We have discussed and refocused the Department of Economic Development on the government's priorities. Departmental activities are in four key areas, and they're outlined in the throne speech, Mr. Speaker. We make reference to the MINE program and, unlike the member opposite, we do believe in the mining industry.
We also believe in building a strong Yukon oil and gas industry, including advocating the Alaska Highway gas pipeline route. There have been a lot of discussion and barbs and suggestions made in the house with respect to this particular route, and I just want to remind members that: (a) I invited members to have a full discussion on this; and (b) I would just like to remind members opposite of a few salient points. First of all, there is a Canada/United States treaty with respect to this Alaska Highway pipeline route - an international treaty, Mr. Speaker, in case they missed that point - that speaks about this project as being far more than what the Member for Kluane refers to as a black hole. It is about far more than a construction project; this is about access, access for Yukon gas, access for Yukoners, including the constituents throughout the Member for Kluane's riding. The treaty spells out the access; it spells out the price. That is access to natural gas at the Alberta wellhead price, which is quite a significant advantage.
There is also a certificate of public convenience and necessity issued by the Parliament of Canada. There is a land easement registered in the land titles office in Whitehorse. There is an environmental review that was completed and signed which met the environmental standards of the day in 1982. This government has consistently stated that those environmental reviews should be refreshed, which is a substantial difference between us and some other projects.
On August 31, members may not be aware, I invited the Yukon Conservation Society and many other groups to meet with me to discuss this project. I personally would like to offer the members, since they seem to fail to understand or want to appreciate the facts as I have laid them out, to a briefing with officials, if they wish, or, if they would care to visit the Government of Yukon's Economic Development Web site, the address is www.economicdevelopment.gov.yk.ca, and every single one of these speeches is listed on there.
I invite the members opposite to review them and fully acquaint themselves with the salient details with regard to this important project for Yukon.
Economic development is about far more than oil and gas or mining. It's also about facilitating business development. It's working with, as I mentioned the other night, all members' constituents who are trying to do business with other areas of our country and throughout the Yukon - facilitating that business, working with business. Business is also developing the infrastructure and the investment climate to support sustained growth. That infrastructure, however narrow some members may wish to view it, is fundamental. It's what makes the Yukon such a terrific place for business and investment. It's because we have infrastructure in this territory that is second to none.
And the Member for Watson Lake is right, we have the best road-builders. We just want them working here at home and not in Hunan, China, like the previous government. We want them working here.
Let's also talk about work that we've done on flow-through shares. And the members opposite dearly want to take credit for this. And they have tried hard. They have really tried hard. In six months, this government delivered. The last time I checked, even the Member for Watson Lake, as high of an opinion as he may have of himself, does not have access to federal Cabinet documents. Therefore, it would be inappropriate for him to suggest that it was Minister Goodale who took it before Cabinet. The point is that Minister Martin delivered, thanks to work by both the Minister of Renewable Resources and me at the mines ministers' meeting in Toronto where Alberta previously has not been on side with this issue.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Speaker: Order please.
Speaker: Order please. I wish to inform the House that, as per Standing Order 26(6), "On the third of the said days, at fifteen minutes before the ordinary time of adjournment, the Speaker shall interrupt the proceedings and put the question on the motion."
I wasn't aware of that before, so I guess with that I serve notice that the Premier has five minutes to wrap up. Thank you.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: So much to say, so little time.
The Liberal Government of Yukon earned the trust of Yukoners on April 17. We earned the trust, because we laid out an action plan.
We said that this was our contract with Yukoners. We further outlined it in a Speech from the Throne, delivered on Monday. Fundamentally, Mr. Speaker -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Ms. Duncan: The Member for Watson Lake is saying that our contract is the platform. Well, the platform is the Speech from the Throne. They're outlined one and the same.
I could, once again, commend the reading recovery program. I know how good it is. However, the point is, Mr. Speaker, that this government believes in Yukoners, and Yukoners have shown their belief and their trust in us.
We hold that trust, we want to live up to their expectations and live up to our own, because we've set the standard very high, because we've said that we'll deliver on these key points, and Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what we intend to do. And I, for one, and I know all my colleagues, are looking forward to doing that.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak today.
Motion No. 10 agreed to
Motion to engross the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne
Ms. Tucker: Mr. Speaker, I move that the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne be engrossed and presented to the Commissioner in his capacity as Lieutenant Governor.
Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne be engrossed and presented to the Commissioner in his capacity as Lieutenant Governor.
Motion agreed to
Ms. Tucker: Mr. Speaker, 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. Monday.
The House adjourned at 5:17 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled October 26, 2000:
Yukon Public Service Staff Relations Board 1999/00 Annual Report
Yukon Teachers' Staff Relations Board 1999/00 Annual Report
The following Legislative Return was tabled October 26, 2000:
Staffing watch; restructuring: explanation of (Eftoda)
Oral, Hansard p. 463
The following documents were filed October 26, 2000:
Arts Funding Program Redesign/Expansion: discussion paper on possible model (McRobb)
Arts Funding Program: terms of reference for sectoral consultation on new program development (McRobb)