Whitehorse, Yukon

Thursday, May 3, 2001 - 1:00 p.m.

Speaker:      I will now call the House to order.

We will proceed at this time with prayers.



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



In recognition of Youth Week

Mr. Kent:      Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of the Legislature to pay tribute to Youth Week, which will be celebrated May 6 through 12. Youth Week is a celebration of young people working to create a positive environment in their communities.

It all started in 1995 with a handful of events scattered throughout Canada. As of the year 2000, Youth Week broadened its focus to include the world, and that has continued to grow. Youth Week has received strong support from Canadian leaders such as Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and Governor General Adrienne Clarkson.

Youth Week focuses on youth and the achievements of young people. It is important to recognize and acknowledge young people for their efforts and accomplishments. This week is set aside to allow time to do just that. It is a great opportunity for the business sector to show its support for young people and the community at large.

Young people need to be reminded of their accomplishments so that they have a better chance to succeed.

Youth Week focuses on the accomplishments, the talent, the drive and the initiative of youth. Our youth are an integral part of our society and while this one week focuses on their accomplishments, youth need to be reminded constantly that their efforts and achievements are bearing fruit.

This celebration also focuses on young people giving back to the community. It is their chance to pull together and show us what they're capable of. With that in mind, several events have been planned locally. Some highlights include the following: youth can ride public transit free all week with a free youth transit card; on Monday, an action plan meeting will be held concerning bullying; a street hockey tournament and barbecue takes place on Saturday, May 12, and the second annual Youth Achievement Awards will be presented May 12, as well. The cleanup of Riverdale and downtown is being coordinated by a group of young people on May 12 and 13. Mr. Speaker, these are but a few examples. There are many more activities going on throughout the week.

Monti Bourassa, of Bringing Youth Toward Equality, can be contacted at 667-7975 for the full calendar of events. Ms. Bourassa should be commended for all her hard work in organizing this week.

Mr. Speaker, next week is a time for youth to shine. It is all about support, acknowledgement and recognition. All of us in this Legislature and, indeed, all Yukoners should make best efforts to offer these whenever and however possible.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In recognition of World Press Freedom Day

Mr. McRobb:      I rise today on behalf of the official opposition to pay tribute to World Press Freedom Day. As legislators, we have a solemn duty to protect and preserve the system of parliamentary democracy, which is the cornerstone of Canada's social organization.

It is our duty to ensure that those of us who are elected to represent the citizens do so in an open, fair and democratic manner. In this matter of ensuring good governance, the mass media play a significant role. While not elected to public office, the media constitute another vital instrument for safeguarding the rights and freedoms of the public. It is their privilege and their responsibility to report and comment on any and all matters of public interest, without fear or favour.

It is significant that the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States is the one that guarantees freedom of speech. Our own Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees that same right to our citizens.

In 18th century France, society was divided into three estates. The first was the clergy, the second was the nobility, and the third consisted of the commoners, including the bourgeoisie, artisans and peasants.

Following the French Revolution a fourth estate emerged by tradition, if not in law. That fourth estate was the press. More recently, the electronic media have adopted the nickname "the fifth estate." Who knows? Perhaps the Internet will become known as the sixth estate.

In modern democracies we have come to accept the freedom of the press as a direct extension and expression of the freedom of speech. On the other hand, one of the very first acts of a totalitarian regime or of a military coup is to seize control of the mass media and curtail freedom of speech.

So today, on World Press Freedom Day, I would like to invite all members of this House to join me in paying tribute to the print and electronic media, which are, whether we like it or not, Mr. Speaker, our partners in safeguarding the rights and freedoms of those we are elected to serve.


Hon. Ms. Duncan:      Mr. Speaker, the Member for Kluane has reminded us of a very important tribute. I would like to join with the member, as he invited us to do, and with all members of the Legislative Assembly - and most especially the former members of the media, who are now members of the Legislative Assembly - in saluting World Press Freedom Day.

From Aurora Boreale, the Tramway, the Klondike Sun, the Whitehorse Star, the Yukon News, CHON FM, CKRW and CBC, and all of the journalists who work throughout the territory, both freelancing and as part of their regular employment, we recognize the freedoms that you hold so dear, including the first row in the Legislative Assembly here.

Mr. Speaker, I join with the Member for Kluane and, on behalf of all members of the Legislative Assembly, salute the members of the media.

Speaker:      If there are no further tributes, I will proceed.

Introduction of visitors.

Are there any returns or documents for tabling?

Speaker's ruling

Speaker:      Order please. Before proceeding further, the Chair will provide a ruling on the attempt by the Member for Klondike to table road fragments during tabling returns and documents on Wednesday, May 2, 2001.

In the rules adopted by this House to govern its proceedings, Standing Order 11(2) sets out the order of the daily routine and provides the formal opportunity for any member of this House to table a document, and for ministers to submit legislative returns.

Standing Orders 37 and 38 provide more detailed guidance to govern the tabling of documents.

The Chair would draw the attention of members in particular to Standing Order 38(2), which states: "Any document presented to the Assembly by a member for the information of members may be tabled if accompanied by sufficient copies for distribution to all House Leaders and to the Table for placement in the in the working papers of the Assembly."

While the Chair recognizes that the Member for Klondike kindly provided sufficient pieces of road fragments for House leaders, the table and indeed all members, it must be stated that the materials presented by the member for tabling are not documents and therefore are not acceptable for placement in the working papers of the Assembly.

If there are no further documents for tabling, the Chair will proceed.

Are there any reports of committees?



Petition No. 4

Mr. Keenan:      Mr. Speaker, I have for tabling a petition containing the signatures of approximately 475 Yukon people. It's asking the Legislative Assembly to urge the Commissioner in Executive Council to immediately commission a public inquiry under the Public Inquiries Act into the policies, the procedures and the practices of family and children's services branch.

Thank you.

Petition No. 3 - received

Mr. Clerk:      Mr. Speaker and hon. Members of the Legislative Assembly: I have had the honour to review a petition, being Petition No. 3 of the Second Session of the Thirtieth Legislative Assembly as presented by the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes on May 2, 2001. This petition meets the requirements as to form of the Standing Orders of the Yukon Legislative Assembly.

Speaker:      Petition No. 3, accordingly, is deemed to be read and received.

Are there any bills to be introduced?

Are there any notices of motion?


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

THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Minister of Education should request that the Premier reduce the Executive Council Office travel budget for Cabinet ministers by $24,000 in order to provide sufficient funds to keep the Whitehorse Public Library open on Friday evenings and on Sundays.

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

THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Minister of Education should personally attend all of the 10 Whitehorse area school council consultations on capacity and enrolment in order to hear first-hand the concerns of the parents, students and the respective student councils; and

THAT this House urges the Minister of Education to reconsider his commitment to build a new Grey Mountain School in Riverdale until such time as the consultation on capacity and enrolment with the 10 Whitehorse area school councils are complete and these councils are in agreement with the minister's decision to build a new K-7 Grey Mountain School.

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

THAT it is the opinion of this House that Question Period is an important vehicle for bringing forward important issues for private members in this House; and

THAT the opposition party should be commended for allowing time in Question Period on May 2 for a government private member to ask a question; and

THAT this House recognizes that the opposition parties have wrongly accused the government of "muzzling" its backbenchers; and

THAT this House urges the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges to expand the length of and adjust the roster of Question Period so that government private members are given regular opportunities to ask questions in Question Period.

Speaker:      If there are no further notices of motion, we will proceed.

Are there any statements by ministers?

Before proceeding to Question Period today the Chair has a ruling on two points of order raised the previous day in this House.

Speaker's ruling

Speaker:      Order please. Before proceeding further the Chair will provide a ruling on the two points of order raised by the Member for Whitehorse Centre during yesterday afternoon's debate on the motion to sit beyond the normal hour of adjournment.

Following the first quorum count yesterday, the Member for Watson Lake made an indirect reference to the absence of members, for which the Chair issued an admonishment to the member. The Member for Whitehorse Centre then stood on a point of order to suggest that the remarks of the Member for Watson Lake represented "a direct questioning and contradiction of the Chair's ruling."

The Chair has had an opportunity to review the Blues and finds that there is no basis for the point of order.

The Member for Whitehorse Centre also raised a point of order with respect to further remarks by the Member for Watson Lake, stating: "The Member for Watson Lake has just charged members from this side of bringing erroneous information to this House. Knowingly bringing erroneous information to this House is considered uttering a falsehood."

While the member did not say so explicitly, it is presumed that his point of order related to Standing Order 19(i), which states: "A member will be called to order by the Speaker if that member: (i) charges another member with uttering a deliberate falsehood." The Chair has had an opportunity to review the Blues and finds that there is no basis for the point of order.

This then brings us to Question Period.


Question re: Whitehorse Public Library, hours of operation

Ms. Netro:      My question today is for the Minister of Education. School enrolment is going down in Whitehorse. The minister is building a new school in his riding. Library use is going up. The library is reducing its hours. Can the minister tell us what is wrong with this picture?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      I do believe that there are a couple of questions in there. With all due respect to the member, I will answer them both.

With respect to the Whitehorse Public Library, I would like to re-emphasize that this is a totally open and accountable government and, obviously, a very, very approachable government, in that we have heard from the community of Whitehorse with respect to the impact and the decision to reduce the hours of the library. In that order, Mr. Speaker, I will find a way to make sure that the public library remains open on Sundays.

Ms. Netro:      For the last three days, the minister has said that I do not have my facts right. I take offence to that. But let's move on.

Yesterday in the House, he said that the budget had increased by $200,000. The day before, he said on the radio that, in fact, the libraries budget was cut. I have pages here from the budget regarding libraries and archives. The public libraries budget has been cut. Will the minister set the record straight and admit that the budget has been cut and that I was not factually incorrect?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Yes, Mr. Speaker, with respect to the library, I do believe that I have answered the member's question on that.

Ms. Netro:      I don't take that as an answer, Mr. Speaker.

On Tuesday, the minister said that, in 1996, the NDP promised a new Grey Mountain School. I would urge the minister to actually read the platform, as I have. He will see that we did not commit to building a new Grey Mountain Primary. Last night, I attended the public meeting at Whitehorse Elementary, as did the Member for Whitehorse Centre.

The minister did not. It became clear that at least one school council is not happy with the information provided for the public consultation. There is a clear perception that the government already had -

Speaker:      Order please. Will the member please get to the question.

Ms. Netro:      Thank you, Mr. Speaker. What is the minister now doing to ensure that the consultation following this demographic review is meaningful and that it is non-partisan and not, as was suggested by one person at last night's meeting, a sham?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Mr. Speaker, well, I'm glad the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin got all her facts right this time. The fact is, Mr. Speaker, that I did have a commitment last night, and I have been in touch with the school council president and also talked to a school council member just this morning with respect to me not attending last night's meeting. The capacity and enrolment study is not finished, and it is an operational aspect of the department at this time. For me to attend any of them, if I couldn't attend all of them, would have been seen as a bias in any one of those meetings, so therefore I didn't attend others, either.

It is very likely - and we have said this before - that we will not require the number of schools that we currently have in Whitehorse. That is an option. People need to be aware of that. We won't know for certain until the study is done.

Mr. Speaker, we are not building a new school; we are replacing an existing school. There are four schools in the Whitehorse area that are 25 years old. I cannot imagine that all four need to be shut down. Something is going to have to be replaced, though. We made a commitment to replace Grey Mountain Primary School. The Grey Mountain Primary School is a collection of portable trailers that are over 35 years old and have outlasted their lifespan. These portables have a history of rotting carpets, musty smells, poor ventilation and heating, inadequate classroom space, and the list goes on and on and on.

Speaker:      Order please. Will the minister please conclude his answer.

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Yes, Mr. Speaker. The promise to replace the Grey Mountain School was made for good reason. The difference, Mr. Speaker, is that, unlike the anti-business, anti-Whitehorse members opposite, we are going to keep our promise.

Question re:  Carcross multi-use facility, government funding assistance

Mr. Keenan:      I have a question for the Premier today.

Yesterday I asked the Premier, in her capacity as the Finance minister, to come to visit the community of Teslin and to talk to them about getting a much-needed project going, and that's the sewer extension, in which, of course, the village has a capital share and also has the plans ready and able to go. We all know that the Premier refused to answer the question. So today I'd like to ask a question about the town of Carcross.

If the Winter Games are coming in the year 2007, the people of Carcross want to participate. Right now, the people of Carcross have a 30-year-old curling rink and community club that was built by volunteer labour and salvaged material. They want to build a multi-use facility, which would include a curling club and a community hall. They want involvement, Mr. Speaker.

Will the Premier, in her capacity as the Finance minister, visit Carcross and sit down with the folks of Carcross and talk about how to get this project rolling, and I'd like that to happen sooner than later, if I could. A simple yes-or-no answer would suffice.

Hon. Ms. Buckway:      The reason the Premier did not answer the member's question yesterday is because the question was the responsibility of the Department of Community and Transportation Services, as is today's question. When a community wishes to improve their facilities, there is a process to be followed, and I would suggest that tabling a petition in the House is not the best way to get the government's attention. They merely need to come and talk to us, which they have not yet done and which we would welcome.

The community has not yet made any overtures to my office, and I would be very pleased to receive them.

Mr. Keenan:      Well, Mr. Speaker, I find it to be absolutely pathetic to take an obvious swing at the town of Carcross. The town of Carcross has followed the process, which is established and laid out in the Order Paper. There are provisions in the Order Paper for petitions, and they have let the minister know, and I am terribly sorry if the minister's nose is out of joint about this issue.

The people of Carcross want to be participants in the upcoming games, Mr. Speaker, and there's a little bit of a matter of time and questions here.

I would like to ask the Premier to go to the community, as part of the budget consultation that's coming up here now, and find a way that would enable the town of Carcross to participate. I think a good thing would be to get $50,000 out in seed money, let's develop a conceptual plan, and let's see how we can factor it in. Let's have a can-do attitude instead of this bullying attitude that we have.

Hon. Ms. Buckway:      I take offence at the member opposite suggesting that there is a bullying attitude. That is clearly not true. I would suggest that the people of Carcross are getting bad advice from their MLA who, as the former Minister of Community and Transportation Services, knows very well the process that should be followed.

I would suggest that he follow it.

Mr. Keenan:      Well, Mr. Speaker, I am following the process on behalf of the people I represent. I can tell you that this evening they are going to be watching this, and they are going to be as appalled as I am that the Premier would not stand up on behalf of the people of Carcross and fulfil her role as the Finance minister or even in her leadership role as Premier here. It seems very strange that, over the years, the department can get its wish list for the towns of Carcross and Tagish, but the people's wish list doesn't even make it on the horizon. There is not even a blip on the radar screen.

Will the Premier please come out and visit Carcross? Will she agree to fund a conceptual plan as a first step of including the multi-use centre in a future capital budget?

Hon. Ms. Buckway:      Mr. Speaker, this is very interesting. The people of Carcross obviously didn't just come up with this idea overnight. It has probably been there for some time.

The member opposite was the Minister of Community and Transportation Services in the previous government. Did he do anything for those people in this area? No, he did not. I wonder why. He was the minister responsible. It is not the Premier's responsibility, as the Minister of Finance; it is the Department of Community and Transportation Services' responsibility to talk with communities about municipal infrastructure.

I would be pleased to meet with the people of Carcross.

Question re:   Mining exploration forecast

Mr. Jenkins:      I have a question today for the Premier. Now, the Yukon Chamber of Mines is predicting the worst ever mining exploration season for the Yukon, at an all-time low of some $5.5 million this year. The chamber is laying the blame for this dismal forecast clearly on the anti-mining policies of the Liberal governments both here in the Yukon and in Ottawa. The acting president of the Chamber of Mines emphasized that mineral prices are not the key factor for this disastrous showing. It is because of government policy such as the Yukon protected areas strategy, including mining claims within park boundaries under land claims, which hasn't helped either.

Does the Premier agree with what the Yukon Chamber of Mines is saying or does she believe that she knows more about mining in the territory than the mining industry itself?

Hon. Ms. Duncan:      I have absolute respect for the preliminary estimates gathered by the Yukon Chamber of Mines for the exploration season coming up. I am disappointed, as are all Yukoners, that they are as low as they are. And to suggest that we are not disappointed or not recognizing that factor would not be as open and accountable as we are. Certainly I share the concern.

I also, in all fairness, would like to remind the member opposite that we have taken steps in assisting the mining industry. He will recall the federal Finance minister's comments around our lobbying efforts - successful, as it turned out - with regard to the federal flow-through shares. And those have not stopped. In response to one of the questions, we have continued our efforts to see if they can't be extended.

Here in the Yukon, personally, and as a government, we have increased the mineral exploration tax credit - extended it for another year and increased it. We also increased the funding and extended the Yukon mining incentives program.

So we have not sat idly by and done nothing. We have taken steps. We are concerned, yes, at these preliminary estimates. I am hopeful that what will happen is what has happened in previous years, that in fact they will go up as the season increases, as they have done in previous years.

Mr. Jenkins:     The minister just doesn't get it, Mr. Speaker. They have $100 million in the bank, and they are in control of the Yukon protected areas strategy. They have to do something with that money and the strategy.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier has made much of North American Tungsten's plan to reopen the mine at Cantung. Will the Premier confirm that North American Tungsten has a hiring agent in Lower Post to hire workers out of British Columbia rather than perhaps the Yukon? Here we have a mine located in the Northwest Territories that is hiring out of British Columbia while Yukon taxpayers are footing the annual bill of approximately $1 million for the road maintenance to the mine site. Can the Premier explain what is wrong with this picture?

Hon. Ms. Duncan:      Mr. Speaker, what's wrong with the picture is the fact that the member opposite has not recognized the fact that the Yukon government is working with North American Tungsten. And, as a matter of fact, having secured their financing, it's my understanding that officials anticipate reaching a conclusion with North American Tungsten on Yukon benefits or Yukon initiatives in the very near future, perhaps as early as next week.

I will also confirm for the member opposite his own comments as of yesterday. Let's assume there's going to be a Minto Copper and a couple of other mines coming back on line. We're not assuming that, Mr. Speaker. We're working very hard with Minto, with North American Tungsten and with the placer mining community. My own lobbying with Minister Dahliwal with respect to assistance to the placer mining industry has been appreciated by them. We're also working with Expatriate and other companies interested in the Yukon.

We're not only working with the mining companies; we're working with other Yukoners who have been miners for a great length of time and are now exploring other opportunities in oil and gas, as well. So we are not standing idly by. We are working hard as a government. We are working with industry, and we are starting to see, in some other areas, some progress.

I am disappointed that we are not seeing the progress yet in the mining industry; I am not going to stop my efforts, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Jenkins:      Well, I will provide the minister with a little bit of advice. Perhaps some steps in the right direction would be beneficial for the mining industry, rather than everything being counterproductive. The major factor negatively impacting on mining in the territory is uncertainty surrounding the protected areas strategy and special management areas established under the land claims.

Will the Premier help to allay this concern here today by establishing an upper limit on the amount of land that will be withdrawn under the Yukon protected areas strategy? Will she at least do that?

Hon. Ms. Duncan:      Mr. Speaker, first of all, this government is working to resolve outstanding land claims, and the member might well think back to a few short weeks ago, when he stood on his feet and commended this government for the initials on the Ta'an Kwach'an agreement. There are six others that have to be resolved. We are working very hard, every single day, on that. And we support the settlement of land claims. The member opposite does not. In his lack of support for special management areas, the member opposite does not.

The member opposite stands and says that we do not work and have not worked in support of the mining industry. Let me quote from the recent report by the Fraser Institute: "In the Yukon, the Premier recognizes the need to encourage investment in mining and is aggressively promoting this issue." That is by the president of a junior mining company.

Our efforts have been recognized by the mining industry. They have spoken in support of our efforts in lobbying at the federal level for the flow-through shares. And they have expressed their support for the Yukon mineral exploration tax credit, which we increased and extended, and the Yukon mining incentives program. We recognize that and we are doing it.

In terms of creating certainty, there are two key things that have to happen: we have to settle outstanding land claims and we have to deal with YPAS. We are dealing with both, with the cooperation and assistance of Yukoners.

Question re:   Motion re sitting hours of the Legislature

Mr. Fentie:      Mr. Speaker, in the spirit of cooperation and in a gesture of goodwill and good faith to the members opposite, we in the official opposition have only one more question today in Question Period, and my question is for the Premier.

Will the Premier direct her House leader to move the special motion pursuant to the agreement of House leaders this morning and pass that motion here and now, and resolve this House into Committee so that we can expedite the public's business and get on with the debate of the budget? Will the Premier do that? Yes or no?

Hon. Ms. Duncan:      Mr. Speaker, what I just heard the member ask me to do is shorten Question Period, which is quite contrary to our motion today. We have 10 minutes left in Question Period. The time for government motions is after Question Period, and I'm quite confident that our House leader will move government motions at that point in time.

However, if the member would like to question as to why we have been working so hard and why our budget that has been presented is so reasonable, I'd be more than happy to answer that question.

Speaker:      Are there any further questions?

Question re:   Alaska Highway pipeline, feasibility

Mr. Kent:      I have a question today for the Minister of Economic Development.

On October 6, the Member for Watson Lake put out a press release saying that the Alaska Highway pipeline was a far-off pipe dream. Members of both the NDP and Yukon Party have also suggested the project would do nothing to help the Yukon economy.

Could the Premier please tell me whether the pipeline is a far-off pipe dream, as the Member for Watson Lake suggested, and whether the project will create any jobs for Yukoners?

Hon. Ms. Duncan:      I'd like to thank the Member for Riverside for the question with respect to the pipeline and to our aggressive promotion of the pipeline, and express at the opening my appreciation for the Member for Riverside who has also assisted me in this regard.

With respect to the pipeline and jobs specifically this summer, I would like to advise the member opposite that the AMEC, that's AMEC environmental company, have contracted to do some work and that there are - the exact quote is that the environmental company contracted to do the work will be doing a thorough going over of the route this summer, things like hydrology and hydro-geology. And the company spokesperson estimates that 80 Yukoners could be put to work on the project over the summer, and that's with one of the subcontractors. There are several others who are working, and I understand that there are many of the environmental consulting companies and several others who have been, with the assistance of the oil and gas unit, in touch with the subcontractors and are seeking a number of Yukoners to put to work in terms of survey contracts as well.

Some of the other work that is going on this summer and immediately with respect to the pipeline promotion is work on the road map with regard to the environmental permitting process and some of the other permitting that is required. And the member will also be aware that as recently as Sunday, I also spoke with Governor Knowles on our work in this particular area.

Speaker:      Are there any further questions?

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



Ms. Tucker:      Mr. Speaker, the House leaders have reached an agreement respecting the conduct of business of the House for the remainder of the spring sitting. The details of that agreement are contained in the following motion: I move

THAT, to fulfill the agreement reached between House Leaders on behalf of their caucuses, this House orders:

(1) the times for the sittings of the Assembly for the remainder of the 2001 spring sitting shall be as follows:

(a) Thursday, May 3, 2001 - 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.,

(b) Monday, May 7, 2001 - 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.,

(c) Tuesday, May 8, 2001 - 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., and

(d) Wednesday, May 9, 2001 - 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.;

(2) the business to be considered under Orders of the Day on those sittings shall be restricted to Bill No. 4, First Appropriation Act, 2001-02;

(3) if Bill No. 4 should still be under consideration in the Committee of the Whole at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 9, 2001, the Chair shall interrupt the proceedings and immediately put all questions necessary to conclude consideration of Bill No. 4 and then report to the Assembly;

(4) a motion for Third Reading of Bill No. 4 shall be moved immediately after Bill No. 4 has been reported from the Committee of the Whole;

(5) each of the Leaders in the House shall be given a maximum of 20 minutes to speak to the motion for Third Reading of Bill No. 4;

(6) if debate is continuing on the motion for Third Reading of Bill No. 4 at 5:45 p.m. on Wednesday, May 9, 2001, the Speaker shall interrupt the debate and put the question on the motion;

(7) the House shall then receive the Commissioner to grant Assent to the bills which have passed the House; and

(8) the House shall then adjourn.

Speaker:      Does the government House leader have the unanimous consent of the House?

All Hon. Members:      Agreed.

Speaker:      Unanimous consent has been granted.

It has been moved by the government House leader

THAT, to fulfill the agreement reached between House Leaders on behalf of their caucuses, this House orders:

(1) the times for the sittings of the Assembly for the remainder of the 2001 spring sitting shall be as follows:

(a) Thursday, May 3, 2001 - 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.,

(b) Monday, May 7, 2001 - 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.,

(c) Tuesday, May 8, 2001 - 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., and

(d) Wednesday, May 9, 2001 - 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.;

(2) the business to be considered under Orders of the Day on those sittings shall be restricted to Bill No. 4, First Appropriation Act, 2001-02;

(3) if Bill No. 4 should still be under consideration in the Committee of the Whole at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 9, 2001, the Chair shall interrupt the proceedings and immediately put all questions necessary to conclude consideration of Bill No. 4 and then report to the Assembly;

(4) a motion for Third Reading of Bill No. 4 shall be moved immediately after Bill No. 4 has been reported from the Committee of the Whole;

(5) each of the Leaders in the House shall be given a maximum of 20 minutes to speak to the motion for Third Reading of Bill No. 4;

(6) if debate is continuing on the motion for Third Reading of Bill No. 4 at 5:45 p.m. on Wednesday, May 9, 2001, the Speaker shall interrupt the debate and put the question on the motion;

(7) the House shall then receive the Commissioner to grant Assent to the bills which have passed the House; and

(8) the House shall then adjourn.

If there is no debate, are you prepared for the question? Are you agreed?

Motion agreed to

Ms. Tucker:      Mr. Speaker, I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.

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

Motion agreed to

Speaker leaves the Chair


Chair:  Good afternoon, everybody. I now call Committee of the Whole to order. In the spirit of expediting business, today's recess will be 10 minutes.


Chair:  I now call Committee of the Whole to order.

Bill No. 4 - First Appropriation Act, 2001-02 - continued

Chair:  We will continue with debate on Bill No. 4, First Appropriation Act, 2001-02. We are in general debate of Department of Renewable Resources.

Department of Renewable Resources - continued

Chair:  Mr. Eftoda had the floor last. Mr. Eftoda, you may begin.

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Mr. Chair, this budget is a commitment to the wise management of our natural environment to the sustainable use of our resources to increasing, improving and promoting economic opportunities and to public participation in wildlife management decisions.

With the funds provided through this budget, the department will continue to provide critical support to key government initiatives such as land claims, devolution and the formulation of the development assessment process. The total proposed expenditure of the Department of Renewable Resources reflects an increase of $742,000 or 4.3 percent from our 2000-02 forecast.

Mr. Chair, I will now go into the budget in more detail.

In O&M, the increase from our 2000-01 forecast is $777,000 or five percent. This is largely due to the $372,000 for collective agreement and employment benefit increases and $405,000 for some new and changing initiatives.

Included in this $405,000 are the following: $80,000 is for an extended campground season. Our support for the promotion of the Yukon tourism industry and the desire to accommodate the RV and other rubber-tire traffic is reflected in our new initiative to expand the shoulder-season usage of our campgrounds. To this end, the department will be extending the campground season by opening the higher utilized campgrounds in early May - presently about May 20 or earlier - until the end of September. This will complement Tourism Yukon's effort to market the Yukon as a destination outside of the peak summer season and increase visitations during this period.

The extended season will go a long way toward reducing gravel pit and rest-stop camping, and will help prevent littering and other harmful environmental impacts. The villages of Mayo and Haines Junction, the Klondike Visitors Association, the Tourism Industry Association and Yukon Tourism have all made formal requests for this extended season. There have also been numerous requests from local individuals.

$50,000 is for the operational costs of the new Tombstone Territorial Park. We know our parks, protected areas and natural wonders can be invaluable destinations for travellers seeking new and interesting experiences. To this end, we are moving forward with a new initiative to manage the Tombstone Territorial Park as an important destination that we believe will have noticeable ramifications for the tourism industry in Dawson City. A management plan is being prepared; however, it is already known that, at minimum, there will need to be on-the-ground presence this summer, including a park ranger for six months. The O&M funding for the operation of this park will need to be revisited following completion of the management plan next year.

There is $40,000 for the operational costs of the Fishing Branch Ecological Reserve. This new budget also affirms our commitment to the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation final land claim agreement with the people of Old Crow, as we begin the work of managing the Fishing Branch Ecological Reserve and implementing the management plan worked out between our two governments.

This budget will provide the initial O&M funding required for a seasonal - or about a four-month - park ranger position, including support costs as per the management plan approved this past April. The plan for the larger area encompassing the wilderness preserve and habitat protection area will be completed over the next year, at which time the O&M funding for the management of this protected area will need to be revisited.

There is $86,000 for the Aishihik wolf fertility control project. Much has been written about predator control, Mr. Chair, but what we may have forgotten is that the Yukon has been a leader in developing non-lethal predator control procedures that will have benefits for other parts of the world. We are continuing to support the research in this area, particularly since the plan for the Aishihik area was developed through wide public participation and support in the community.

This budget will allow testing of immunocontraceptive techniques on wolf reproduction in order to maintain the population at 100 animals, as per the integrated wildlife management plan recently approved by YTG, the Champagne-Aishihik First Nation and the Alsek Renewable Resource Council.

The potential savings in management costs will be significant, Mr. Chair, and will result in the delivery of a low-cost solution in future predator-prey management situations, as well as much higher levels of public acceptance than lethal control or invasive surgical techniques.

$60,000 is for the joint habitat mapping project with Ducks Unlimited Canada. Our interest in the health and vitality of our wetlands is very important to the rest of the world, especially when you consider their impact on migratory birds from other parts of the western hemisphere and the need to be concerned about species at risk. That's why we are continuing our commitment to a joint initiative with Ducks Unlimited to map the Southern Lakes wetlands.

An agreement to work cooperatively on the Yukon land cover and wild bird inventory in the Southern Lakes area was signed this past May. While this is a one-year agreement, payment of the Yukon share is spread over a two-fiscal-year period.

The first year of the agreement largely covered fieldwork, and our share was our participation in the fieldwork. There is $15,000 going to the Yukon Fish and Game Association. This will help the association take a more direct role in advising this government on important issues and participating in wildlife management planning in the communities. There is $10,000 identified to assist the Yukon Trappers Association to comply with humane trapping requirements established by the Association of International Humane Trapping Standards.

There is $10,000 for the annual meeting of the ministers and deputy ministers of Agriculture. There is no question in my mind that - pardon the pun - agriculture is a growing industry here in Yukon. We will be welcoming the federal, provincial and territorial ministers of Agriculture this June to their first-ever meeting in the Yukon. This is an excellent opportunity to showcase our industry as well as draw attention to our industry needs and our current stage of development. We expect that this will inject upward of $1 million into the Yukon economy.

The $54,000 balance is being used to fund additional fleet vehicle costs. The balance is also expected to cover fuel and electrical increases, and additional demands on some of our support units, like the GIS unit and the finance and administration branch.

In addition to the new initiatives, we will be continuing to support recycling efforts through contributions to registered recycling depots for the recycling of non-beverage container materials, the collection and disposal of waste oil, and the collection of used tires from Yukon landfills.

$100,000 was allocated in last year's budget for waste reduction and recycling initiatives. Approximately 7,600 tires, 68,800 litres of waste oil and 45 pounds of ozone-depleting substances from 382 refrigeration units were collected. Also included were $40,000 of improvements to registered recycling depots to allow for recycling materials other than beverage containers.

In the 2001-02 fiscal year, we will continue with contributions to registered recycling depots for the recycling of non-beverage container materials, collection and disposal of waste oil and finalization of the collection of used tires from Yukon landfills.

I would like now, Mr. Chair, to make a few comments on the capital budget. In capital, the decrease from the 2000-01 forecast is $35,000, or 1.8 percent. This decrease is due largely to the fact that the 2000-01 forecast reflects the supplementary of $135,000, which was largely revotes and collective agreement increases. There are some new and changing initiatives on the capital side. $100,000 has been identified for legislation development. There is no question that the public has a strong interest in the management of the Yukon's wildlife resources and this means we have to come up with new ways to adapt to changing conditions. We have allocated additional monies for the coming year to meet our commitment to produce a modern wildlife act to replace the existing 19-year-old document.

This will allow us to complete the first phase of the review of the Wildlife Act and start work on the second phase. The first phase involves administration and enforcement issues and will deal with charter concerns, authorities, penalties, licensing issues and other matters that will help clarify and simplify the law. This will reduce red tape and streamline administration.

Phase 2 will deal largely with species-at-risk issues and phase 3 will deal with land claims issues. This will also allow us to continue the development of potential park-related amendments. Regardless of possible YPAS-related amendments being reviewed by the YPAS Public Advisory Committee, a need has been identified for certain operational and administrative amendments to the Parks Act and regulations to ensure the effective management of our parks and campgrounds.

$200,000 has been identified to continue work in the planning and development of a new interpretative centre in the Tombstone Territorial Park. We have allocated funds to begin the work of managing Tombstone Territorial Park and to build a lasting visitor information centre where people start their wilderness adventure into the new park. Specifically, we will be doing some revisions and updating to the building design as they are now about eight years old. We will commence design and fabrication work for exhibits and displays, and we will do some design work for the landscaping and outdoor interpretation.

$11,000 has been identified for an agricultural infrastructure feasibility study. We are also earmarking new funds in the department to look at ways of improving local services to the agricultural industry. This will allow us to employ the services of a consultant to assess the feasibility, cost and location of establishing various types of infrastructure for the agricultural industry.

We want to look at a number of options, such as a velvet antler processing facility, a community kitchen and processing equipment, a vegetable storage facility and a farmer's market site.

Mr. Chair, these capital initiatives have been offset to a certain degree by reductions in the amounts budgeted for YPAS of $120,000; land use planning for $20,000; facility additions and improvements of $30,000; heritage rivers, $24,000, and the deer population assessment of $30,000. That covers the major new and changing initiatives in my department.

We are looking forward to another very productive year.

Mr. Chair, I would be happy to answer any questions members may have in general debate on this budget. I would also like to take the opportunity at this time to express an appreciation to the Member for Kluane in his appreciation of the budgeting briefing exercise that went on.

Mr. McRobb:      Yes, we in the official opposition certainly do have questions for the minister. I would like to thank him for reading his prepared speech and also thank the people in the department who wrote it. Unfortunately, the minister chose not to provide it to us in advance as requested. It would have been extremely helpful to have that information in advance, because the notes and questions I have prepared touch on some of that information and I am afraid it will result in some duplication in the conveyance of that information back and forth.

So, I would hope that the minister will be understanding if some of my questions were answered in his opening speech, because I did not have that information in advance, and I'm simply not able to review my notes and update them on the fly within a few minutes.

So, Mr. Chair, in the spirit of cooperation in the future, perhaps the minister would see fit to providing us in the opposition with his prepared speech in advance.

While I'm at it, I'd also like to ensure that the Tourism minister hears this because we know the Tourism department is coming up. In fact, before the Liberals started juggling these departments around, Mr. Chair, it was up first. But then they put Renewable Resources in first and juggled them around a few times. I was fully prepared to debate the Department of Tourism, but they put Renewable Resources up. I think the Tourism minister maybe felt a little too much heat from the arts community last week to proceed with her department and required a reprieve. I can understand that, because there is certainly a lot of anxiety around how these Liberal ministers are handling their departments.

So I just wanted to put those concerns upfront on the record.

I would like to turn now to acknowledge the hard-working staff within the Department of Renewable Resources. We know this is a large department that has a variety of programs that touch the lives of Yukoners in many ways. I'd also like to thank all the many volunteers and members of the important boards, committees and councils that feed into the department's work.

Mr. Chair, the Department of Renewable Resources is responsible for protecting our environment and Yukon wildlife and responding to a number of challenges, including major issues, such as climate change, global warming, oil and gas development, land use planning and park development. There are also countless other matters that the department has to deal with, including the upcoming devolution of the four major resource sectors to the Yukon government - those being minerals, forests, lands and water.

It has to deal with the reclamation of abandoned and depleted mining claims; the cleanup of contaminated sites; the management of our fish and wildlife; enforcement of regulations, including the Environment Act, the Wildlife Act and so on; wildlife inventory and predator control programs; the development and maintenance of our campground facilities and wildlife viewing stations; managing issues such as increased backcountry travel; the promotion of the sustainable use of the Yukon Territory's renewable resources; the promotion of our agricultural industry; undertaking resource management activities respecting land claim and self-government agreements.

Mr. Chair, it has to fulfill all of those and many more duties and functions while integrating with other sectors, including other Yukon government departments and other governments in ensuring that their mandate is met. So certainly this department has its hands full, and we on this side are supporters of this department and certainly would encourage the minister to provide whatever direction is necessary to allow this department to meet its objectives and fulfill its mandate and function without any delays or stoppages along the way.

Now, Mr. Chair, I know that there are many issues that are out there concerning this department. The Yukon protected areas strategy is one of them, and I'm certain that the leader of the third party has several questions, as do I, around the Yukon protected areas strategy.

I have other questions relating to agriculture, wildlife, predator control, the gas pipeline, land claims, land use planning, Tombstone, contaminated sites, reclamation, forestry, recycling, renewable resource councils - Mr. Chair, there are a few other areas - so I think you can get a grasp of some of the many issues this department has to deal with.

Of course, these issues are not without controversy, Mr. Chair. And, being a member of this Assembly, I'm sure that you are aware of some of the more controversial issues. It has been said that the protected areas strategy has become somewhat of a lightning rod for discontent, from the development community in the Yukon toward a governmental environmental agenda. And I think a lot of that goes back to the way this Liberal government is handling the issue.

About a month ago, we debated a Yukon Party motion in this Assembly on the Yukon protected areas strategy, and I made my suggestions known at that time. I believe the minister could be handling the whole area of protected areas in a much better way. I put on record that day a number of suggestions, such as that this government could undertake a public information campaign to put some facts on the record in the public domain to help clear up some of the confusion and anxiety over this strategy.

There's a lot of misinformation out there and frequently some of it enters this Chamber. I don't believe the minister is doing an adequate job in countering those forces and he certainly could be doing a lot more. On that motion day, I recall challenging the minister into at least meeting the advertising campaign put forward by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. What I am talking about is, I recall seeing more ads in support of YPAS in our local newspapers from CPAWS than I do from the whole Department of Renewable Resources.

When one group on one end of the spectrum is promoting something, that automatically causes an effect on the other side. Sure enough, it should have come as no surprise that the interests on the other side were soon publishing their own ads in the paper. And what we have is a media war of each side trying to further its own positions before the public.

Now this could have been easily prevented had the Yukon government fulfilled its leadership role and put out there some information it believes is accurate regarding this whole process. Where were they, Mr. Chair? Were they upfront, visible, vocal? No. They ran and hid, and that's shameful because it has the result of pitting Yukoners against each other - something this government promised it would not do. Another broken promise.

Mr. Chair, it's high time that this minister and his colleagues accept the responsibility given to them and do something as a government to take a lead on some of these issues and not just sit back, laugh at the ads put in the paper and watch the fight. That's not right.

It is incumbent on this government to take a leadership role and put out information to calm down the whole debate. I'm aware that there is plenty of information that could serve that purpose. I have information that we were privy to, as the previous government, that would dispel many of the myths put out there. Where is the minister and where is that information? Where is the information regarding the land cap and the fact that every other jurisdiction in the country has a protected areas strategy? Virtually no other has a land cap. Where is that type of information coming from the head of this department? It is nowhere to be seen.

There are plenty of other issues under this major initiative, and the minister could fill the void and provide some leadership, but he's ducking out. Just like at the meeting last night, Mr. Chair, he's nowhere to be seen - vacant.

Back in June, this minister promised me and committed to this House to undertake his responsibilities seriously. I won't forget that, Mr. Chair. It's all right here in Hansard, June 29, 2000.

The minister himself said, "I have committed myself to becoming totally familiar with the Renewable Resources department, so I don't really foresee in the near future any vacation time or time off. I have committed myself to work here to get the job done." Well, Mr. Chair, where is he? People at these meetings need to know what direction he is giving his department. People at these meetings want to see him and want to provide him with their input. They want to ask him questions and want him to answer before them. That's the system of accountability our democracy operates in. It's also called respect for Yukon people and organizations, who take the time - their own time - to learn about these issues and get involved on behalf of the public, and they deserve to be treated respectfully.

So I just want to impress upon the minister that he did give that commitment. I know that he takes his responsibilities seriously a lot of the time and he no doubt puts a lot of hours in. I'm not trying to take that away from the minister, and I believe he is sincere. For the most part, I think this minister is very capable of doing a good job, but why are things being performed so poorly? What's the reason for it? Why are Yukoners fighting with each other over matters that this minister can step in and provide the leadership and guidance on to see them through to the end of the process?

We on this side recognize the virtues of the protected areas process. We know that it won't be the end of exploration and development in the territory and, in fact, will bring certainty. It will bring protection of areas important to the territory and to wildlife. Also, it will help encourage responsible development in the other areas.

That's what resource interests are clamouring for. That's what the environmental community is clamouring for, Mr. Chair, but where's the product? Never mind the process; where's the product? It's all caught up in a big review. I recall reading in the newspapers last June about this minister claiming that, come the fall, the process would be decided and they will be working on legislation and they'll have so-called "fixed" - that's the word the minister and his colleagues used - "fixed" the protected areas strategy. They promised to bring everybody to the table. They made all kinds of promises like, "The Liberals will find a balance between protecting environment and promoting the development of our natural resources."

They made other promises, like these types of interests are not conflicting. These Liberals came across as the great mediators. People voted for them because they thought the Liberals would be the panacea to these types of arguments and discussions and debates in the public arena. They thought that, by voting for the middle-of-the-road party, the great conciliators, finally we would be able to move forward in these directions and put the squabbling behind us, Mr. Chair.

What a disappointment. One year later, Mr. Chair, it has never been worse. It has never been worse. The minister stands up and points a finger over here and he has all kinds of bad things to say about how the previous government bungled the consultation process. He blames it all on us. He doesn't take the responsibility himself.

That's another example of what I'm talking about. The minister's own actions substantiate my point.

I see the Tourism minister shaking her head, but let me say, Mr. Chair, that she herself has done what her colleague accuses the previous government of doing. Mr. Chair, by not consulting with the arts community over the restructuring of that department and subordinating the arts branch under the heritage branch, what she did was skip an important step in the public consultation process. Mr. Chair, that process went from backroom discussions with Liberal insiders to the Cabinet table. Where was the public process? Mr. Chair, there was none. Does that sound familiar? Yes, it does, because it's the same thing her colleague, the Minister of Renewable Resources, said the previous NDP government did with respect to the Fishing Branch process. Well, they like to point the finger, but they don't like to stand up and assume the responsibility that Yukoners expected of them a year ago.

I'm just doing my job to try to hold them accountable. Holding them completely accountable is impossible. Participating in this legislative forum is only a part of our jobs here. We are limited in number. We count on a lot of people for their help and input, Mr. Chair, to help us hold this government accountable. There are a lot of things that escape us, things that we don't know about, but hopefully they are few in number. The ones we do know about, in following up on them - quite often we don't get adequate answers. The ministers are becoming quite proficient in not answering questions during Question Period, or any other time for that matter. On the other hand, they're getting very proficient at circumventing this democratic process and dealing instead with the media. Quite often we have to resort to the media to get the information we need.

Now, the minister is chuckling. I can give an example from last July. I asked him on that day in this forum what consultative reviews his department will be embarking upon. He got up and cited a few reviews. Then the Whitehorse Star arrived. I managed to get it while we were still dealing with the department, and lo and behold, there was an article in there entitled something to the effect of "Yukon government will review Wildlife Act." Well, I checked the information provided by the minister only hours before - guess what? The Wildlife Act wasn't even mentioned in the public reviews. That's one of the first examples that we on this side discovered about how this government doesn't deal through this chamber of accountability; instead it chooses other ways to try to manipulate public understanding. They are not forthright, they are not open, and they are not accountable.

We are getting used to being treated like that. Hardly a week goes by - fortunately I don't have to say "day" - when there's not another example to prove that point.

The government tables briefing notes to the media, not to us. It tables letters to the media, not to us. It's becoming disgusting. I would call upon this minister and his colleagues to take it up a notch and to assure them that they have nothing to hide unless they are in fact hiding something. Give us the information we need to do our jobs and we'll do them and get out of here.

We know they don't like being in here. They hate being in here. We saw that from their motion yesterday. They tried to bring closure in through the back door and run this Legislature around the clock for however many days required to conclude it and bring in assent, Mr. Chair.

That was ramrodding the democratic process and depleting our thin resources, trying to force conclusion. Mr. Chair, I could stand here for hours and talk about situations like this, and you know I can. But I'm limited at this time to 30 minutes in debate. I think my time has nearly expired.

Mr. Chair, I think that the minister is intelligent enough to understand the concerns that I have put on the table. And I hope he's fair enough to also appreciate it and put it ahead of the temptation to play political games, because, in his more personal moments, I know that this minister would be willing to concede that, aside from the politics, we are here to work together for the benefit of the citizens of this territory.

Together, we would like to make progress through the business of this House. We would like to complete the review of this budget and all other matters, end this sitting like any other sitting, and get on with the rest of our jobs. We all have constituents out there who need to talk to us about various things. We all have other matters we need to follow up on. It's very difficult to do those things while sitting in here, because of the other demands on our limited time and resources.

So, we need time away from this Chamber, Mr. Chair, to fulfill our other responsibilities. I know the minister would acknowledge that, so I would urge him to start doing simple things, like providing us with information ahead of time, as requested.

Now, I will acknowledge one thing, Mr. Chair. The other day I sent him a note requesting an organizational flow chart explaining the YPAS strategic initiative and implementation plan about how it will be structured and how the direction and input would be directed. I was provided with that information yesterday, and I do acknowledge and appreciate that. I also note that that particular flow chart was dated April 3, so it was existing information and not something that had to be produced to meet my request.

Mr. Chair, it is extremely helpful in trying to understand the various functions in restructuring of the department, in terms of accommodating YPAS. It has the various sectors blocked out and integrated together. I presume that we will be exploring that later on, when we zero in on YPAS, in particular.

But I would like to ask the minister a direct and very simple question. Hopefully, I will get an informative answer that is very clear. I would like to ask him this: how many parks will he create in this mandate?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Mr. Chair, a point of clarification - is that in reference to the YPAS or everything?

Some Hon. Member:      (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Well, Mr. Chair, I will answer and I will commit to the member opposite, because I know that there are a goodly number of things that we already agree on. I am committed to answer any question that he puts forward as best I can, and I will make all attempts to do that in a respectful and complete manner.

I first of all want to thank him for the positive comments that he made toward department officials and the people who work within Renewable Resources because, Mr. Chair, they are an incredible group of people. And all the things that the Member for Kluane had listed that the department is responsible for are true. They do have limited resources, they do have to work under a tight budget, and they do have to look after the whole territory.

As a matter of fact, Mr. Chair, since last June, when I espoused to the member opposite that I was going to work full tilt on managing my respective departments, I have done that. Even the slight break that I did have was interrupted with other matters related to the Department of Education. So I am committed to doing the best that we can, and I know the member knows that. We have had a couple of conversations - frequent and short but constructive. I even gleaned a couple of kudos in his opening remarks, Mr. Chair, and again I appreciate that.

I have always expressed a willingness, because I know that when the Member for Kluane sinks his teeth into an issue - and this is meant as a compliment - he doesn't let go. I know that we have had exchanges in the YPAS debate. We flung not always complimentary comments to each other. I would like to remind the member that maybe I could have done things more effectively, better, differently, and the member, being in a previous government, knows that sometimes issues and tasks fling by at an incredibly fast pace. I also appreciate the acknowledgement by the member opposite that the previous government didn't always do things right with respect to YPAS, and maybe it's time that we do sit down and share some information.

When the member does get up, I might even take a liberty here and ask the member opposite - because I know how he does feel about YPAS. I would like maybe just a quick response on why I haven't heard him publicly support the YPAS concept even if he doesn't agree with how I am directing the department in that area. We have acknowledged in this House that the original document, as prepared through consultation, public input, has certainly been lauded as one of the best in the country.

And he mentioned the cap factor. He also acknowledged that he has information on that aspect, and he knows that the Member for Klondike has continually hammered on members on this side of the House, as I have been queried by my caucus colleagues on why a cap isn't established. And I would like to exchange an idea outside this House with the Member for Kluane and get some information from him. I know that I have been down in the offices talking to other members on different issues. I have talked to the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin when we were going to pay a visit to Old Crow on the Education Act review. She helped in setting things up because sometimes you have to take consideration of the audience that you are going to be presenting to. I have talked to the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes on a number of issues relative to his constituency, and we have found resolution on those issues, although there has never been an acknowledgement in here on that.

So there have been times when we have cooperated, and unfortunately those good times don't get mentioned in the House.

In a recent, I believe, Yukon News commentary or editorial, the author had said that the conduct in this House is shameful. And I guess we are all responsible for that. We all do it, probably some more than others. And it is hard sometimes to sit here and listen to personal comments coming across the House off microphone. But as I said when I was standing up to answer the member opposite, I will make best efforts to provide him the best answers that I can.

The comment the Member for Kluane made about the chart - things are not static. Things change. I did provide, early the next morning, the chart that he had asked for. I have always tried to respond as quickly as possible to any questions or requests that are made from any member of the opposition.

So, getting back to an answer to the question asked of how many parks I and the department are going to create in this mandate, in all honesty, I can't provide a definitive answer on that. I can't provide a set number on that.

The member knows that we are going through a review process with respect to YPAS and the remaining 16 areas of interest, and how we're going to provide certainty to the industry. I appreciate the comment from the member when he acknowledged that the YPAS is not going to impede the extraction resource sector.

I hope that answer will suffice for now. I will keep the member up to date. I would invite him to participate in the YPAS process in getting it up and running and to calm the anxieties that are out there. I will publicly ask for his support, because I know he's already acknowledged that it's an important feature. The original document was created by the previous government and it's a good one. So, I would ask the member opposite for public support on the YPAS exercise.

Mr. McRobb:      Mr. Chair, I have no problem giving that, again. It's not something I have ever been reluctant to provide. As recently as a month ago, during the Yukon Party motion, I made it quite clear, and also in general debate on this budget less than two months ago, I made it quite clear. As the minister knows, in previous motions brought forward by me when we were in government, that support was made quite clear. So I don't know what the minister hopes to gain by another admission that I support this strategy.

Now, Mr. Chair, I want to thank the minister for his good comments, and I appreciate that. I also appreciate the need to keep this debate at a good level and avoid deterioration into something a little less friendly. That could happen this afternoon when the third party gets up, but we'll leave that to fate.

But I would like to say that I don't think the minister provided an answer that was very helpful with regard to my question. Mr. Chair, he will recall from the debate a month ago that I put something out there that I heard on the street. That was that the Liberal government intends to sideline the YPAS process once it is introduced in legislation because, really, that's all it committed to in its campaign material, and election promises don't really go further from that.

I'm aware that, with the makeup of the Liberal caucus, Mr. Chair, the majority would be in favour of sidelining the YPAS process. So, when the minister stands up and seemingly supports the process, it should not come as a surprise, then, to not get any commitment about the number of parks this Liberal government will create under the YPAS process. And that's exactly why I asked the question, to be frank - to try to get that on the record. Instead, we're getting a clouded response and the government is ducking out on this issue behind a public consultation process.

We expect the legislation to be brought forward in the fall, as this government has committed to, and we know there are several areas that are in the hopper, Mr. Chair. Of the total 23 ecoregions in the territory, which make up the YPAS process, I believe 15 or 16 still require protection. It's on record that the previous government had the position it would have produced two parks per year. By this point, had there not been a change in government a year ago, we would have had two more out of those 16 remaining protected areas completed - at least if what the government said it would do was done. Let's agree to that. And there'd be another one coming through now and another one later this year.

That brings us to about the stage where this Liberal government will be enshrining into legislation this whole process, something it promised it would do before actually creating parks. Mr. Chair, if you read the campaign material, it's actually quite ambivalent and self-serving from a political nature for a party that really doesn't want to create parks but make it sound like it wants to. It says something to the effect of: a Liberal government would not create any more parks until enshrining into legislation the process. Well, there you go. That speaks for itself. What it really means is: we'll use the legislative process to delay the creation of any more parks. If you uncode that commitment, that's what it means.

So, Mr. Chair, I'm prepared to accept that we won't see any progress for the first year and a half under this Liberal government's mandate, but that brings us to the end of this year, the end of 2001. I want to pick up from that point, because presumably we'll have YPAS legislation. We know that the department has proposed areas in the hopper and that a lot of the groundwork has been completed.

Mr. Chair, I would like the minister just to take us down the road from that point as to how he would like to see things proceed from an implementation perspective regarding YPAS. Let's hear what the minister has to say after the legislation is approved in this Chamber. What is his outlook for developing parks?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Well, Mr. Chair, I do believe that the member knows how sincere I am in my interests toward the environment. So I'm not really going to rise to the bait that we're going to sideline the process. I believe that both Premier Duncan and I, as minister, in the current debate on YPAS have continually reaffirmed this government's commitment to YPAS, but to also respect the economic needs of the territory in the process. Both of us respect the balance that's required to proceed.

Again, as I indicated in my opening comments, I'm not going to review what the previous government did. We are in the here now and we have to deal with what we're dealing with.

What we're attempting to do is to enshrine the existing process steps of a goal 1 area in legislation. That was a commitment that we made. In our consultations, we are looking at the wording of those process steps to see if we can clarify and build on the good work that has already been done. I will acknowledge that again.

So, that's where we're going with that. Meanwhile, we still have to respect the anxieties. As the member has suggested, too, there are some anxieties out there, too. That's where we're going with that.

The Premier has also committed that we wouldn't be moving toward goal 1 areas until that was done. We have also committed to the Yukon public that, over the next two years, we would indicate areas of interest in the remaining ecoregions - and I'm very sincere in this, and the Member for Kluane knows that - in order to assist the extraction resource sector, creating a degree of certainty, because we heard that they just wanted to know where they couldn't go or where those areas of interest were. Once those areas have been identified, if it is in direct conflict with the resource sector, depending on what that area of interest is working to protect, then it could be moved, it could be shifted, it could be accommodating. That is also respecting the concern that industry has about access to those areas, and the YPAS also accommodates that, despite what the Member for Klondike would like the general public to believe.

I know the Member for Klondike knows the YPAS. The principles of the YPAS are sound. The YPAS has not been challenged yet because we haven't gone through a full, complete implementation aspect toward a goal 1 area and that is what we are attempting to do. We are attempting to find balance, to recognize the interest of resource sector businesses, oil and gas exploration and placer mining.

All of those interests are not being discarded, and we are working very hard toward that end - openly and diligently.

What the member has asked is this: once we arrive at that stage where there is an increased comfort level in YPAS, where there is reasonable and open dialogue occurring and being allowed then to proceed in the actual implementation, right from 1 through 11, where there is increased opportunity within that process - at least three opportunities to continually consult, contact and reassure the public in an open and accountable way - how and where we are moving toward a goal 1 area - but we're not there yet. We're not there yet.

The department is working hard, and we have restructured the department to accommodate that. The Department of Economic Development is working in a very close and cooperative way to assure the resource extraction industry that we are concerned, that we are listening, and that we are hearing what their concerns are and are building those in to ensure that those concerns are entrenched through legislative means so that the processes identified toward goal 1 areas are followed and adhered to.

So that's where we are with YPAS. We are going to continue, and we are going to meet one-on-one, group-on-group, in whatever way people want us to do that.

We're going to be open and accountable and accommodating toward that end, Mr. Chair. So, no, we're not going to sideline the YPAS. I want to assure the Member for Kluane that we're not going to do that. In every other jurisdiction in Canada, they have protected areas. In every other jurisdiction in Canada, there is no cap. The cap issue is going to come up, I know, from the Member for Klondike, and the best answer we can provide is that there is no other jurisdiction in Canada that is looking at a cap because it's difficult, if not impossible, on the scientific position, to establish caps when you're working with ecological representation. The scientific basis is not there to support establishing a cap in that way.

So, to accommodate the question that I know is coming from the Member for Klondike, and I hope I'm helping the Member for Klondike at this time in his debate. I know it will come up again. Like the commitment I have made to the Member for Kluane, I'll commit to the Member for Klondike that I will try to be open, accountable and responsive to his questions.

With respect to the question the Member for Kluane asked, there is still some input that we're looking at on the process aspect, on the 11 steps, and the department and the Department of Justice are working on legislation now, so we'll see how that works out when it does finally make its way back to the department, Mr. Chair.

Mr. McRobb:      Well, Mr. Chair, the minister did help out a little bit, but I was looking for a little more information than what he did provide regarding where we're going to be at the end of this year, when presumably the legislation will be enshrined and we'll be able to get on with actually making progress in creating the remainder of the protected areas into parks. I didn't hear anything about that. So I would ask the minister to give that more thought in providing an answer to that question and think about timelines. I'm very interested in getting timelines.

I also want to respond to something he said in his response regarding the comfort level in the public about YPAS. That relates back to my open remarks about the need for the government to fill that void of information out there regarding this initiative, to embark on a public education program. The minister is also the Minister of Education. What about a schools program, Mr. Chair? Now, that's a very effective way to filter information to the public through our youth. When children in school can begin to learn the facts about something, they themselves can begin to have discussions and further that understanding, bring it home and maybe discuss some of that information with their parents.

It wouldn't be a bad idea, Mr. Chair. We have to start somewhere. That's a suggestion I proposed one month ago, and we haven't heard anything from this minister about that.

I think that would help to ease the anxiety and increase the comfort level that he's talking about. When he's on his feet, I would like him to re-address the original question about where we're going to be at the end of this year. What about timelines? I would also ask him how he plans to increase the comfort level within the public about the YPAS.

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Well, again, Mr. Chair, the Member for Kluane is correct. He did make the suggestion about public education and that is certainly something we're working on within the department. Also, there are already some education tools in the schools through the Project Wild program and the department officials administer it. So we are already doing some of what the member opposite is suggesting.

We are also working on timelines. The flow chart that I handed the member, even though it was dated earlier, is a chart that has been worked on. I did get it over to him as quickly as I found out he wanted it.

The department, through the new process that has been set up, has been working specifically on the aspects the member is asking about. As soon as they become available, I will provide them to the member. I am sure that if I don't follow through on the commitment, I will be reminded adroitly on that.

I will do that for the member. And the member has already indicated that he has some residual information from when they were in government, and I would like us to exchange information on that basis if he is willing to do that.

Mr. McRobb:      Why doesn't the minister ask one of his backbenchers to get up and ask that question during Question Period?

We saw a sweetheart question today, another one yesterday. Where is the YPAS? If it's that important to the minister, why doesn't he put it on the table? There is a question from one of the backbenchers that can certainly be asked. And the minister can stand up and read his briefing notes to which he speaks.

Now, Mr. Chair, I am still disappointed that we don't have any indication at all of any timelines. Perhaps I asked the question in too formal a setting, so I am going to re-ask the question somewhat less formally. I would like to know what this minister hopes to see in the future as far as timelines for the creation of parks go. What does he foresee? When would he like to see parks created, and when would he like to see them announced?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Just one correction for the Member for Kluane - I wasn't looking for a backbencher to ask me a question. This dialogue that is happening right here is between me and the Member for Kluane, and he alluded to the fact that he retained some information on YPAS when they were in government. All I am asking is that we share in a free flow and in an open and accountable way. That's all. I wasn't including backbenchers in that question. I was just suggesting that we work together on this project.

At the YPAS Public Advisory Committee meetings, we committed to identifying areas of interest over the next two years, with an effective date of the first of this month. The Premier indicated in April that the start date of the process would be at the end of April so, therefore, the first of May. So, in two years, we hope to have identified the remaining 16 areas of interest within the territory. That in itself is a huge task. We do know tentatively where some of those areas could go now. Now that we're back on track with land claims - we have one that we have announced recently and, hopefully, within the two-year period, there will be a number of others done.

As land claims are announced, then special management areas are announced as well - or, prematurely, as the Asi Keyi area, Mr. Chair. As those areas become identified and the designation of the special management areas are determined through land claims process, they may also accommodate ecoregion representation, right within the special management areas. So it wouldn't then be necessary - or there could be a withdrawal of an area of interest, as it would be accommodated by the special management area. So there is a lot of mix going on here, and the member knows that.

With respect to the timeline, I guess that the timeline commitment we now have is that, within two years, a massive project of identifying 16 areas of interest in the remaining ecoregions of the territory - and during that time, the economic development aspects of the territory must also be addressed, so that's why we have to get on and identify these areas of interest so people know what we're trying to protect - the ecological aspects. There are also geological aspects, like Coal River Springs, for instance - an incredibly unique feature that I don't think anyone in the territory would want to see lost. It's therefore a protected area. That's just an example, Mr. Chair, but there are some ecological areas that have to be protected because there are other factors; namely, flora/fauna interests. Depending on what the goal of protecting is, that will determine the urgency there as well.

I have committed to provide to the member opposite timeline charts, flow charts, as they become available, and I'll do that.

When are we going to be announcing parks? This government alone doesn't have total control over that because the land claims aspects, as they become known, will determine SMAs, which may very well be parks as well, so in all honesty I can't give the member definitive dates on that.

Mr. McRobb:      Mr. Chair, did I hear the minister correctly that he said that within two years his government would identify the remaining 16 areas of interest? And does that mean there won't be any parks created until the spring of 2003?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      With all due respect to the member opposite, I apologize. I didn't hear the question.

Mr. McRobb:      Did I hear the minister correctly that, within two years, the Liberal government would be identifying the remaining 16 areas of interest, and does that mean that no new parks would be created before the spring of 2003?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Basically, that's correct, Mr. Chair. The areas of interest would be identified in the 16 remaining ecoregions. That's what the Premier and I committed to the YPAS Public Advisory Committee and, in all likelihood, at this particular time, there will be no parks clearly identified in that period.

Mr. McRobb:      Wow, isn't that something, Mr. Chair. It's a good thing the World Wildlife Fund has discontinued its grades for Canadian political jurisdictions as far as making progress on parks goes. We can just imagine how low the grade would be for this government in making no progress in the creation of parks for the first three years it's in government - zero parks created under the YPAS in its first three years. That's what the minister just admitted - zero.

Well, Mr. Chair, I can recall when the Liberals were in opposition how they chastised the previous government for any low grades it might have received from the World Wildlife Fund, even though at the time we were working to develop this strategy, which the minister himself acknowledges is one of the best in the country.

He knows that it is difficult to actually create progress on something for which the strategy is being designed in the meantime. But even then, Mr. Chair, our marks weren't all that low. Will the minister acknowledge that the World Wildlife Fund has discontinued its program of grading the jurisdictions and that the Yukon will not be getting graded this year or in the near future?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      The Member for Kluane isn't quite correct. I had also indicated that, over the next two years as land claims come onstream, special management areas will also be identified and come to fruition - and identify parks. But I can't presuppose that, and the member knows that at this time. And within that jurisdiction, ecoregion representation within special management areas that become parks do become parks.

So, with all due respect - and I don't want to set up an antagonistic barrage here. I do want to answer the member's questions in general debate on Renewable Resources - I do. So let's drop the politics. Let's get on with me answering the member's questions in general debate on the budget. I want to do that and I want to do that in a very respectful way.

Now, I said I wasn't going to go back in time, and I don't want to do that because that doesn't get us anywhere. So I am respectfully asking the Member for Kluane to do the same thing. Let's get on with debating the budget. I will provide this additional information in the best way that I can. And I have, in the best way that I can right now, provided an answer on what we are going to do with parks. Parks could - they could pop up tomorrow. If there were a land claim tomorrow and a special management area that captured half a dozen ecoregions - and who knows, because anything is possible - then we wouldn't have to worry about six ecoregions.

They would be covered by a park, if that's a designation that comes out of the land claims process. And the member knows that.

So, that's the best answer I can give the member opposite.

Mr. McRobb:      Well, the minister could have easily answered my question 100 times in the time he took to go on. I asked him if he can confirm that the WWF grades have been discontinued. Because he won't answer it, I will answer for him. Yes, they have been discontinued and the World Wildlife Fund will not be providing a grade for this government's poor performance in the creation of parks this year or next year - not likely the year after either - unless this program is recreated within that organization.

It wasn't that hard to answer that question, Mr. Chair; the minister knew the answer. I would agree with him. Let's try to stay above board in this debate, move on and try to make some progress. If there's a simple question that he knows the answer to, a simple answer would suffice and we could make progress. I would urge him to do that, and I will keep that in mind, too, when putting the questions to him.

I would like to move now to what he announced one month ago regarding the restructuring of the department and the YPAS Public Advisory Committee and task group and so on. I would like to ask him if anything has changed since he described the changes to us in this House on April 11.

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Mr. Chair, I don't believe that anything has changed from the outlined changes I made in the House at that time.

Mr. McRobb:      All right. Regarding the independent secretariat, can the minister tell us where exactly within the Yukon government that would be located?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      The secretariat will now be located within the parks branch, and it is now called the parks and protected areas branch.

Mr. McRobb:      All right. So, the independent secretariat will be housed within the Department of Renewable Resources.

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Just a slight correction, Mr. Chair. It's not independent. It's part of Renewable Resources within the parks and protected areas branch.

Mr. McRobb:      All right. The YPAS committee forwarded recommendations to the minister. I believe there were 18 recommendations. We received a copy of that following our motion debate on April 11. We didn't get the opportunity to integrate those recommendations into our discussion on that occasion. I would like to know what has happened to those recommendations. Has Cabinet approved them yet? Where does the government stand?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Cabinet has tabled those recommendations. The review of the recommendations is not yet completed, but once it is, it will be forwarded to the task group with further instruction.

Mr. McRobb:      When does the minister anticipate Cabinet will have those recommendations completed, and when does he anticipate they will be forwarded to the task group, and can he indicate for us the process beyond that?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      In all fairness to the member opposite, Mr. Chair, I do want to correct a statement that I made. The recommendations have moved through the task group into the working group and there is a request that the working group review and consult on those recommendations and come back to Cabinet with responses by early June.

Mr. McRobb:      According to this organizational flow chart, can the minister indicate which one of the blocks is the working group?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      The flow chart shows that there are two ministers responsible for YPAS, right at the top, and the two ministers, of course, are accountable to Cabinet. Below the two ministers - the Minister of Economic Development and the Minister of Renewable Resources - is a task group comprised of three DMs - one from C&TS, one from Renewable Resources and one from Economic Development - and right below that is the management group. They are under the direction of two ADMs - an ADM from Renewable Resources and an ADM from Economic Development.

I would also like to bring to the member's attention that, within the parks and protected areas branch, there will be an entity - a person from Economic Development, an individual expert in assessment - that will also be housed within the secretariat in the parks and protected areas branch that will specifically look after the interests of the resource extraction centre.

Mr. McRobb:      Mr. Chair, so, come June, we'll have the recommendations developed and they will go back to Cabinet. Is that correct? And will Cabinet be making decisions on those recommendations? I see the minister nodding in the affirmative.

Presumably from there it will be directed toward the development of the legislation and so on, respecting goal 1 areas and what have you, and we will be back here in the fall - probably in November and December - to deal with the legislation. Mr. Chair, from that point, there is about a year and a half to go to where the minister has indicated the next step would be - and that's the identification of the remaining protected areas.

Can the minister just describe what will take place in that window of a year and a half, and what does he envision will happen once those areas are identified to the public? Will there be wide-ranging public consultation after that? Because, Mr. Chair, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that now we're into the next government - not this government, but the next government. And I'm wondering what type of a reaction this minister expects from the public, especially because of the situation now and how this matter has become polarized. This reminds me of the B.C. Liberal Party saying that it supports land claims and, in fact, will commit to having a province-wide referendum on the matter, just to prove it.

So, I think the progress will get lost in the process on this matter. I would like the minister just to explain what will happen in that year and a half between the time that the legislation is passed and the spring of 2003 when the government identifies to the general public which ecoregions it would like to see. What happens in that interim period?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Well, even now, the parks and protected areas branch is pulling together information with respect to areas. There's a lot of information already accrued on unique areas in the territory within the ecoregions that warrant some degree of protection.

That is already happening. What we've given ourselves here is a two-year period. Again, that's not static. It's not a two-year waiting period and a big fanfare announcement over that time as we get information.

I should also let the member opposite know that there are 29 stakeholder groups that were involved in the meetings and the PAC group earlier this year. We want to keep those members involved, so we are going to continue to maintain contact with them. That is a charge of the management group - to maintain contact, and we want to keep them involved. That includes all people who were on the stakeholder group list.

We don't want a big announcement or big fanfare at the end of two years. We want to keep people involved, but our commitment is that these areas will be identified within two years, with their involvement. They are completely aware, at all times, of what the government is doing in this respect.

Mr. McRobb:      Well, that's good information, Mr. Chair, and it's too bad the government couldn't keep the opposition apprised of where it is at all times on this important initiative, because a lot of what the minister is saying is new information to us on this side. So I would encourage the minister to be more forthright, as indicated beforehand, in providing such information to us so we have a better idea of what to expect down the road on the YPAS process.

Now, we have heard a lot about the Yellowstone to Yukon initiative - Y2Y. I would like to know what this minister's position is on the Y2Y proposal.

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      I believe that the YPAS initiatives are tangibly part of that process. Are we taking any additional initiatives outside the territory? No.

Mr. McRobb:      What is the minister's position regarding the Y2Y initiative within the boundaries of the Yukon Territory?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      I will just let the member opposite know that our initiatives on the YPAS are part of that process, so that's the government's position on the Y2Y.

Mr. McRobb:      Well, from what I can recollect on the Y2Y initiative, the important thing to glean from it is the need for connectivity between the protected areas in order to allow the migration of wildlife, the movement of wildlife along corridors between those protected areas.

We will recall from about a year and a half ago when a representative, Karsten Heuer, walked the trek to the Yukon for the purposes of advertising this initiative.

Yukoners were presented with information that indicated the need for the corridors. We were given examples, like in Banff, of how highways have cut off migration routes that wildlife need to survive and to propagate genetically and not just be confined to limited quantities and so on. I know that the minister knows about this stuff, and his answer neglects that important component of connectivity.

Now, I know he has a background in land use issues and so on, and he understands how some of this can be created. So I will expect him in his reply - and I won't ask any more questions on this, so whatever he gives, I'm willing to go with it. So, if he wants to be evasive in his answer, then let his answer stand. But I would like to know what his position is on the Y2Y initiative, and let's not ignore the important component of connecting these areas to allow for wildlife corridors. What can he tell us about that?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Mr. Chair, again, I'm committed to providing the member opposite with the best answers I can. I think it's also important to state that, even though the projects are similar in nature, in that there is a respect for habitat and wildlife migration corridors in that aspect, YPAS and Y2Y are not the same project, basically. We do have our initiatives here in the territory with respect to recognizing and protecting areas.

The member opposite alluded to the fact that I'm not keeping him apprised of these issues or where the government is going on these things. Quite frankly, Mr. Chair, I invite the member opposite to give me a dingle at any time. I'll go downstairs - I have no problem with that - and brief him on what the government is doing about these things, or even provide a departmental briefing to the member opposite at any time.

The fact is - and the member knows well - that the YPAS itself does take into consideration the impacts on wildlife. The YPAS also addresses migration corridors and that kind of thing, so I wouldn't be telling the member anything new in that light. But then again, I offer the member opposite a briefing, departmental or by me, any time.

Mr. McRobb:      It's not so much a departmental briefing that would be helpful, Mr. Chair, as some indication of the political position from this government. We all know that departmental personnel cannot go there, so that's why I'm asking the minister. But I said I would take his answer for an answer, and I'm prepared to move now. I have some general questions about the department.

Can the minister indicate if there are any positions vacant and any new positions within this budget?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Through the corporate planning exercise that we went through in the last year, there were vacancies identified. There has been some movement of personnel within the department.

Mr. McRobb:      Is the minister intending to establish a conservation management section within the department?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      No, Mr. Chair.

Mr. McRobb:      Mr. Chair, has the minister implemented a regional management structure for departmental services to be delivered in rural communities?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Mr. Chair, I believe there are existing regional management sections throughout the territory.

Mr. McRobb:      Mr. Chair, back on June 29, the minister said he would be implementing a regional management structure for department services to be delivered in rural communities. The minister indicates that's already existing, so I would like to ask him to clarify just what commitment he made on June 29 and what the difference would be.

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      I'm not quite sure what the member is asking for. We have regional biologists in the field; we have regional conservation officers and offices in the field, as well. So those are already established, and I'm not quite sure what the member is referring to when he said that I was establishing regional offices that are already there.

Mr. McRobb:      Well, on an equal token, Mr. Chair, I'm not quite sure if I understand what the minister was talking about on June 29 when he said what he did. So maybe I'd like to ask the minister to revisit this in the coming weeks, and if he can get back to me - I see he's nodding his head - with some information to help further my understanding, I'd appreciate it.

Now, Mr. Chair, the department hasn't expanded its field services division in more than 10 years, and in the meantime has probably tripled its policy section. Now, I know people who are concerned about the diminishing field time. I'm talking about the true field time served by conservation officers. Is the minister concerned about this, and what is he planning to do about it?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Well, I know that the member opposite is eventually going to get around to devolution, so I'll just presuppose the member opposite's position.

There were two positions that were no longer required in parks and outdoor recreation, whereas field services, as the member has indicated, has been understaffed for years. The field services branch is taking on the responsibility for enforcement of the Wilderness Tourism Licensing Act, as well, Mr. Chair, and more enforcement in the campgrounds and other protected areas as required.

There were two FTEs transferred from the parks branch to the field services branch to accommodate that. So I hope that answers the member opposite's question.

Mr. McRobb:      Well, I would like the minister to expand a little bit on what he would like to see happen to replenish some of that important field time. I know he understands that. He is someone who has spent a lot of time out in the field himself. I guess it wasn't left field or right field, but more of a centre field position.

Regardless, the minister knows what I'm talking about. He understands the importance of it, because a lot of people who enter the biology field seem to move from collecting information out in the field to more behind-the-desk types of positions. I would like to know what the minister is prepared to do to bring people back out to the land so that they can reconnect to what really is important to this department. Does he have any ideas or expectations in that regard?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Mr. Chair, I thank the member opposite for the question. He is right. I have spent a great deal of time in the field. Unfortunately, at this moment I am stuck behind a desk, just as the member opposite is. I know the member opposite lives in a wonderful part of the territory, an incredibly beautiful part of the territory.

One thing we are doing in other initiatives, thinking out-of-the-box-type stuff - one of the most successful programs within the department is the wildlife viewing program, of course. Those wildlife viewing kiosks and informative platform areas are an incredible attraction not only to tourists but to Yukoners alike. As a matter of fact, Mr. Chair, just at the beginning of the celebration of swans, there was an announcement of a new opening. Unfortunately, there was no ribbon and there was no cake, but I went out and enjoyed the vista from the new platform at the Yukon River bridge crossing.

Some Hon. Member:      (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      And I was accompanied, that's true, by the Minister of Tourism. Again, there was no cake or ribbon cutting at that time.

So there is the potential here to get people out on the land. One of the things we did was to extend the campground season, Mr. Chair, so that campers could get out earlier and stay out later and work on the fringe. We're looking at -

Some Hon. Member:      (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Speed it up, is that it? Well, I'm trying to give the member opposite a full answer to his question, and now he's waving to somebody, so I don't know.

Mr. McRobb:      I was waving to his deputy minister, Mr. Chair, who stuck his head through the gallery doors up there.

Mr. Chair, I wasn't curious as to the time spent out on the land or in the campgrounds by the minister. I was concerned about the biologists in the department and so on, because we know how the Liberals feel about getting out of this Legislature and the shenanigans that they attempted to pull off yesterday. We know where they would rather be, so let's not go back there.

The minister mentioned devolution. I want to ask him if his department is ready, what it's doing, what changes will occur, will there be policy changes, and so on? What can he tell us about devolution?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      I am trying to accommodate a couple of individuals over there - one who wants full and complete answers and one who wants me to speed up, fast forward. So I will try and get it done, and I'm sure my colleagues on this side of the House would hope that I wouldn't be so verbose as well.

As the member is well aware, the devolution aspect is a huge project. Now he is hiding under the desk. Gary, the answer isn't that bad.

Apologies, Mr. Chair, in the lightness of the moment I lost -

Some Hon. Member:      Point of order.

Point of order

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

Mr. McRobb:      Point of order, Mr. Chair. I was praying that the minister would conclude.

Chair:  Mr. Eftoda, you may continue.

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Well, Mr. Chair, I know that the rules of the House don't allow us to move our mandibles in a rhythmic fashion, but I see the member opposite is doing that. I can only allude to one thing, but that's okay.

Devolution is a huge project and the department - in the restructuring within the department that we did just go through - a large part of that is in anticipation of devolution.

Mr. McRobb:      Well, I am not sure if that answer was really adequate considering the serious nature of devolution and the changes that it will bring to the department. I would invite the minister, if he wants, to forward some good information to me in the near future to expand on that response. I would more than appreciate it.

I would now like to move to agriculture. Can the minister indicate what the status is of the agricultural lands review? When does he expect the report to be released? And was he successful in lobbying the federal government for money to help promote agriculture in the territory?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Well, with all due respect to the member opposite, I want to provide full and complete answers, but he has to be listening to the answers I'm giving. And I want to do that because I don't want to get into a paper exchange with the member opposite.

There has been a total and comprehensive evaluation of the agricultural and grazing lease policies, and it is now complete. The evaluation reports were released to the public in July of last year, as a matter of fact. An interdepartmental working group has reviewed the recommendations and prepared a government response - proposed revisions to the policy that will be forwarded to Cabinet by mid-June.

The agriculture branch has also been working with Trans Northern Consulting on a discussion paper leading to a revised policy. It is planned to have revised policies out to the public for review in the fall of 2001. The Agricultural Planning and Advisory Committee has also been reviewing the recommendations in the evaluation reports and will be reviewing the discussion paper in the middle of this month.

As I had indicated in my opening comments, the federal minister and provincial ministers and territorial ministers of agriculture will be visiting the territory. They are looking very much forward to it at the end of June, and we are hoping to be able to announce at that time some positive news for the agricultural industry here.

Mr. McRobb:      Mr. Chair, I'd remind the minister to remind his federal counterparts to not forget the suitcase full of money, because we wouldn't want to see him strike out on his lobbying efforts to help promote the agricultural industry in the territory, as he promised he would do on June 29 of last year.

Mr. Chair, I've got a few questions regarding wildlife in the territory. Can the minister indicate which boards and committees are currently working on consultation policy or whatever initiatives for the department. For example, we know the Fish and Wildlife Management Board is working on the Wildlife Act. That's the type of response I'm looking for from the minister. Can he indicate which boards and committees are doing what for the department?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Well, in all fairness, Mr. Chair, I would probably have to get back to him in writing on that, but he knows well that it's quite extensive and interrelated.

Mr. McRobb:      That's fine, Mr. Chair. As long as I get the information in a reasonable period of time, I don't have a problem. Can the minister also indicate what issues are being dealt with aside from any major topics, like the Wildlife Act,? If there are particular issues he could identify, as an example? Can the minister give us an update on the Wildlife Act review, or maybe something he can also include in that information when he gets back to me is the timelines for these reviews. Would he be able to do that? I see he's nodding his head in the affirmative. Mr. Chair, I'm fine with that.

If he could also indicate whether there will be final reports coming out of these consultations and what they will result in, I would appreciate that.

I also note that the Environment Act review is something I would like the minister to touch on when he gets back to me with this information.

The minister, in his upfront comments, mentioned a deer population study. I know that he previously indicated that there would be a mule deer population study. I would appreciate it if he could get back to me with some information on that.

Regarding the bison herd in the territory, I would like to know what changes, if any, the minister is considering for next year, particularly with respect to the department's desire to see the number of cows reduced. Is he considering extending the season, for instance? Is he considering increasing the size of the harvest? If so, how would he do that? Would he get back to me with that type of information?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      As I indicated to the Member for Kluane, I am willing to provide any information that is public at all. If I could respectfully request that he provide me with a list of the information that he wants, I will respond to it, just so that I can make sure that I cover all the points he has asked for.

Mr. McRobb:      All right. Well, the minister can take the list from Hansard. If there is anything in addition, I will undertake to get it to him in the next week, let's say.

On the matter of predator control, does the minister have a policy on predator control that differs at all from what he indicated on June 29, 2000? I keep going back to that date, Mr. Chair, because that's when we debated the department at the first opportunity during the review of the budget for 2000-01.

Has he changed his position at all on predator control and is he anticipating any new programs in the future?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      June 29 was after we had only been in office seven weeks or so and, of course, we jumped right into the budget. I will have to reference the debate that had occurred at that time, to make sure that what the member is asking for I can provide adequately. On predator control, of course, there has been the non-lethal wolf control program out in the Champagne-Aishihik area to assist in the regeneration of moose populations out there. If he wants more details on that, I could certainly provide it. Predator control of another fashion I don't believe has been announced since what I reported on June 29 of last year.

Mr. McRobb:      I asked the minister if he could indicate whether he is anticipating any new predator control programs in the future. If he could respond to that?

Also, back on, I believe it was, December 14, 2000, which was a second opportunity to review the department with this minister, which was in reply to the supplementary budget in the fall, the minister said he was working on a new policy. Can he indicate where that is at?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      The non-lethal predator control program in the Champagne-Aishihik area is still underway and will be, I believe, for another year.

Yes, I do believe that it is still going to take some time to work on the program and to evaluate the success. As I indicated in my opening remarks, as well, this program is one of the first pioneered in the country for a wolf control program and is being watched quite intensely by other wildlife management resource sectors as to its success. I'd like to report that it is a very successful initiative so far. But I will provide the member opposite with the current status of that program.

Mr. McRobb:      All right. That's good, Mr. Chair. I'd also like to let the minister know that I did attend a presentation by the regional biologist in the Haines Junction area - I believe it was last fall. It was a very informative presentation, with a slide show and updates on what was happening. The biologist also discussed moose behaviour in the integration with other animals. It was very interesting. If the minister hasn't seen it, he might want to catch it at some point.

Mr. Chair, back on December 14, he said that he wanted to design a new predator control policy that's "meaningful and comprehensive". Those were his words. What I would like to know is when we can expect this policy, how this government intends to develop it, and if it will include public consultation and so on. What can he do to enlighten us about that?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      I thought I just alluded for the member opposite that it's probably going to be based - and this is still on predator control?

Some Hon. Member:      (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Yes, because of the program that is presently occurring in the Champagne-Aishihik area - and it is probably going to be another year before this program is assessed. Depending on the results, policy will be initiated. But the policy itself is not static and that is why we've moved into this area of non-lethal predator control program. We are hoping that the success will impact on the overall policy of predator control.

Mr. McRobb:      Okay, I think the minister's response was geared more to the program and not the policy I asked about. I asked when we might expect a new predator control policy from this government and how he intends to do that and will he involve the public through a public consultation process?

Can the minister improve our understanding of what he intends to do?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Well, most certainly, policy will be determined after public consultation. I will, if the member would allow me to, get back to him on that - the status of existing policy plus when we're proposing changes to that policy. If there are changes, of course there will be public consultation.

Mr. McRobb:      All right, Mr. Chair, I thank the minister for that more informative answer.

I want to turn to the pipeline - the Alaska Highway natural gas pipeline proposal - and start by asking him if he agrees with the Premier's words in the budget speech on February 22 this year that the regulatory approvals are in place, the environmental reviews are completed and there is a treaty in place. I want the minister to tell us: is this a closed deal or is it an open deal? Which way is it?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Mr. Chair, I do believe the Premier stated that there are or there had - well, along the existing pipeline corridor through south Yukon, there were extensive environmental assessments done along the whole of the route. Of course it has been recognized that that happened some time ago, but that did assist in determining a treaty between Yukon and Alaska. But I do also believe that there has been recognition that times have changed since then and that there would, in all probability, have to be additional assessments done along the final chosen route.

So I do believe that has been acknowledged by this government.

Mr. McRobb:      Well, Mr. Chair, that response wasn't too helpful in trying to improve our understanding of where this government is. On one hand, it says that it's a done deal but we're getting indications at other times that there will be some consultation regarding the environmental review and the regulatory approvals and so on.

If the minister could expand on that as we go along here, I'd appreciate any more information he can provide.

I'd like to know what, if any, resources have been set aside to examine the impacts of the proposed natural gas pipeline. I ask that, Mr. Chair, because we know the Department of Economic Development seems to get hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to promote the pipeline but the Department of Renewable Resources doesn't seem to be doing much as far as examining the environmental effects of this project.

Can the minister indicate exactly what resources have been assigned and what the department is doing?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      There is an existing interdepartmental group. It's currently being led by Economic Development. As the member well knows, there is not a project yet. But, in a positive anticipation of that project occurring, Economic Development is conducting reviews of the pipeline, and the department has a representative on this group and is currently in the process of assessing what will be required when the project is announced.

The department has not been given direction, per se, on this. And, in large measure because the project has not been announced, a consultant has been hired to gather all existing environmental information with respect to providing assistance and guidance regarding the government's position. So there are a lot of things that are underway, but with the caveat that more is going to happen once a project has been announced.

So the department is not currently doing any assessment work. As I have already indicated, there is no project and we don't know when the pipeline will proceed, but we're eagerly awaiting the announcement.

Mr. McRobb:      Well, Mr. Chair, assuming that there is a project, as this government has gambled there will be, because virtually all its economic eggs are in the pipeline basket. It wasn't too long ago that the handle started coming off the basket. We know about that. At the present time, it looks like they have sewed it back on, but we'll see what happens down the road.

Assuming there is a project, we know that there have been considerable discussions within government and the departments regarding the preparation for this project. I would like to ask the minister to indicate what opportunities there will be for Yukoners to provide their input into this project? I'm talking about meaningful input, not input after the decisions have been made, but input into how the project would proceed. What opportunities will there be for Yukoners to do that?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      One of the essential ingredients in the discussion of the route selection is the preparedness of our government with the assistance of the Government of Canada. A number of initiatives are occurring. One is the report being prepared or the assimilation of existing environmental information by consultants. But once the project has been announced, there is going to be a considerable amount of time between that period and when the pipeline happens. Of course there is going to be a flurry of involvement by Yukoners.

So, up to that point, we are just gathering existing information and making attempts at anticipating what updates would be required - things of that nature. So I don't believe that there will be any decisions made without public consultation until the project is announced.

Mr. McRobb:      All right, Mr. Chair, you heard it here first.

We spoke about devolution. I would like to know how this project would integrate with devolution in the department. What steps has the minister taken to ensure that his department is ready to handle all the aspects of the pipeline project, including those currently under the authority of the federal government? Specifically, what action has the minister asked his department to ready for devolution in this project?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Well, as I indicated to the member opposite, we are already accruing the existing data along the Foothills pipeline corridor without determining that that is going to be the final route for the pipeline when the project is announced. But the corporate planning exercise that occurred within the department in the past year was in anticipation of devolution, and that is with respect to existing projects within DIAND that will fit in with the renewable resource branch.

Specifically, with respect to the pipeline project, again, there is an interdepartmental group working on, anticipating and getting ready for what initially has to occur once the project is announced. So we are linked that way. That is probably not going to be totally satisfactory to the member opposite, but that is where we are in this project.

Mr. McRobb:      All right, Mr. Chair. I'd like to know if the minister is prepared to get back to me with some information on that corporate discussion about how the department would be restructured to accommodate devolution. If he can get back to me with some information to further our understanding of that, I'd appreciate it.

I have a specific question somebody wanted me to ask about the pipeline. Can he indicate how the 100-metre wide clear-cut would be permitted for the pipeline right-of-way?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Well, that's a good, legitimate question, but unfortunately I can't provide that answer at this moment. We will try to find an answer for the member.

Mr. McRobb:      All right.

Now, Mr. Chair, as far as the pipeline goes, there has been some discussion about the designation of a utility corridor between Alaska and the southern states through the Yukon. It has been proposed that such a corridor would follow the Foothills pipeline route. As part of that discussion, other utilities and services have been discussed for inclusion along that corridor. There has been talk of the railroad. There has been talk about a fibre-optic cable. There has also been talk about a power line. Can the minister confirm that and can he also indicate if he's aware of any other services or utilities that could be provided through that corridor?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      No, I can't confirm.

Mr. McRobb:      All right. I want to just touch on one of those utilities - the power line - and ask the minister what consideration he has given to that suggestion? Is he aware of what it might mean for the Yukon Territory should there be a major power line running through that utility corridor? Is he aware of what changes it could bring to the territory?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Again, with all due respect to the Member for Kluane, I believe that's a little bit out of my sphere.

Again, the project has not been announced. I do believe that there is an assumption that the pipeline is going to follow the existing Foothills corridor. As I understand it, that aspect is also being evaluated. There may be changes. Since the original corridor went in, the technologies for pipeline construction have changed substantially, so there may be some realignments.

I have not been - or have kept myself fully apprised of those aspects, only that we have asked an individual to collect the existing environmental information on the current corridor. If there are changes, then we're going to get ready for those when the project is announced.

I'm sorry, but that's the best answer I can provide.

Mr. McRobb:      Once again, Mr. Chair, I'd appreciate it if the minister could revisit this issue and provide me at a later date, not too distant in the future, with some information on this, if he has any available - and I'm sure he does, upon demand. If he's not too much aware of this utility corridor and any consequences, I hope certainly that he would take this discussion forward and use it as an incentive to get briefed in that area. If he can share the information he learns with us, we certainly would appreciate it.

Mr. Chair, on a somewhat related matter, the Aishihik water licence is due to expire in September 2002. The member, as former chair of the Water Board, is familiar with this. He has personnel in his department working on the application. A few weeks ago, we heard in the news some stories regarding the status of a potential agreement.

Shortly thereafter the story changed somewhat. Can the minister enlighten us about what is happening about the Aishihik Lake power station water licence renewal proposal as far as any agreements go, and can he also indicate what political direction he has given to his department in their intervention in this application?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Well, if there is any one person in the whole of the territory, Mr. Chair, who knows about the Champagne-Aishihik project, it's the Member for Kluane. I know that.

Some Hon. Member:      (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:     Well, he just asked me not to butter him up, so I won't. But I do believe that the Member for Kluane has concerns and considerations on this project. But the member opposite knows full well that it is primarily a DIAND jurisdiction, and the actions of the utility company deal directly with DIAND on this project. There have been some environmental and wildlife studies conducted by the department on the project for the past several years. It is also under the purview of the Yukon Territorial Water Board when a request for licence has been made. So the member opposite is fully aware of that, Mr. Chair.

Mr. McRobb:      Well, Mr. Chair, I really don't know what the minister is hitting at here. I asked him to provide an update on this agreement that Yukoners learned about a few weeks ago. I didn't hear him allude to that. I asked him what political direction he gave to the department to steer them in their application before the board. I didn't hear about that either.

If the minister can respond again to those questions, I would appreciate it.

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Mr. Chair, I did not direct or steer the department in the application at all.

Mr. McRobb:      Okay. What the minister just said is that he provided no political direction to his department at all on how they would approach the intervention into the water licence proposal. That's fine. I would be prepared to accept that. I think that there's a lot of room there for opinion about the minister's approach, but this is not the opportunity to express it. We will try to make progress here today, and I will be consistent with that.

Mr. Chair, I asked him to comment on this agreement. Again, I didn't hear the minister touch on that. Can we go back to that again? This agreement that Yukoners heard about a few weeks ago - I believe that it was between the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the power company. Now, this is a matter of importance to the Yukon government. Can the minister give us an update on the status of that agreement, please?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Mr. Chair, the Member for Kluane had just indicated that it's an agreement between the power company and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. It has nothing to do with me.

Mr. McRobb:      Mr. Chair, the minister is ducking out. This matter is of great importance to his department and is certainly important to the Yukon government.

We hear about the cooperation with the other governments, but when it comes down to practice, we see that things are quite different.

The minister should be apprised of this situation. If he isn't, he has an official at his side. Mr. Chair, before we take a break, which is a couple of minutes away, I would like the minister to respond to this question: what is the status of the agreement that Yukoners heard about a few weeks ago?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      The department is participating in this review through its involvement on the Regional Environmental Review Committee, or RERC, and the Cooperative Environmental Review Team, or CERT, which the member opposite is fully aware of. The Department of Renewable Resources is also coordinating the Yukon government's review of the application and will be providing comments to DIAND for consideration.

Mr. McRobb:      I have one more question and I believe I will have wrapped up in general debate here and we will proceed to the break.

This last question has to deal with contaminated sites and reclamation. As the minister knows, this is a serious issue. There are hundreds of such sites in the territory and the potential cost to clean them up is in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Now, for the minister's information, I wrote to our MP about two months ago asking him to pursue this matter. Unfortunately I haven't heard any progress reports back yet. This matter is one of great importance to the territory, both for environmental reasons and economic reasons. This cleanup has the potential to create jobs in the territory for many, many years. We heard the former MLA for Faro, the former Minister of Economic Development, talk about trying to convince the federal government to advance some of the reclamation costs to provide work for his constituents.

What is this government doing to obtain dollars from the federal government for these causes? Can the minister indicate to us what he is doing to advance these issues of reclamation and contaminated site cleanups?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Mr. Chair, I do believe that the Member for Kluane is asking questions concerning devolution, and he would better address those specifics on reclamation during the debate with the minister involved.

With respect to what my department is doing, there is a ministerial order that has been issued with respect to the Marwell tar pits, but the details and specifics - I know the member opposite wants a more global response, for the whole of the territory, and he is also aware that it is currently a federal responsibility. Addressing the cleanup of those sites or the participation of those sites is part of the negotiations for devolution, and when that agreement is announced, he'll be fully apprised of the content and the extent of respective involvement. So that's the answer, Mr. Chair.

Chair:  Order please. The time being approximately 4:30, we'll take a 10-minute break. In the interest of expediting the business of the House, I'd ask members to respect the 10 minutes.


Chair:  I now call Committee of the Whole to order. We will continue with general debate.

Mr. Jenkins:      Let's start with a few little areas that are very, very costly to Yukon, Mr. Chair. Let's start with recycling. Under the last government, a new tax on juice containers was instituted that the minister's department is responsible for, and there was considerable controversy surrounding the effect of this tax on juice boxes on the budgets of many families.

Our side doesn't have any quarrel with a recycling deposit, as long as, when it comes to items that are considered to be by many a food item - not a luxury item - like a box of juice, the deposit and the refund are equal. Now, if the Government of the Yukon can see its way clear in the Liquor Corporation to have the same deposit and refund on a bottle of beer, surely we can have the same refund and deposit on a juice box, a Tetra Pak.

When is this government going to change this area to make the refund and deposit equal to each other on these specific items, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      I do thank the member opposite for the question, because it was certainly a question the Premier had when she was in opposition. The department has been instructed to review that and is moving toward the suggestion that the Member for Klondike has just made. Where we are in that, at this particular time, is that the public has the opportunity to share their views on the proposal during the current comment period. So, it is out for review, Mr. Chair. That consultation will end in the first or second week of June.

As part of changing the regulations, it does require a review period. We are doing that. But, following the recommendation that the member made, that is exactly what the recommended change is: equal payback for equal charge.

Mr. Jenkins:      Well, I appreciate the minister recognizing the importance of this area and addressing it, but this is an initiative that probably could have gained a lot of political kudos for the novice Yukon Liberal government. It would probably have been best if it came forward by way of a ministerial statement. But why is this initiative so secretive? When was this review first announced, and when is the information going to be circulated? I really haven't seen anything of this initiative.

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Mr. Chair, it is being formally announced on May 7.

Mr. Jenkins:      So this is just a pre-announcement to the announcement.

Now, could the minister advise us of the categories or groupings that are under review? Is it for all categories in the recycling bin, or is it just for those probably considered to be a food or a beverage. I don't have a quarrel with pop cans - that the deposit is higher than the refund. But I do have some concerns with food items such as Tetra Paks in which we get a lot of juice. That's usually the best way to ship products up here. Can the minister confirm that it is for all categories? Does it also include those categories covered by the Yukon Liquor Corporation, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Right now, Mr. Chair, it is with reference to the Tetra Paks, also known as juice boxes or laminated containers. So, right now we are just looking at those.

Mr. Jenkins:      Well, the other area, if you want to look at containers, the large, 3-point-something litre juice containers containing all sorts of beverages - why aren't they being included in this category? Because that is an important area also, and they are rightfully for juice - you've got juice, tomato juice, cranberry juice, all sorts of them come in big plastic containers. It's a 25 - I forget the deposit, I believe it's 25 cents on those larger containers and the refund is considerably less. That, in my opinion, is a beverage and it's not a luxury beverage; it basically forms the diet for many individuals. It's part of the diet and is recommended for consumption. So why aren't these areas being included?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Mr. Chair, I'll certainly take the advice from the Member for Klondike and look into that aspect. I believe the initial review was for Tetra Paks because it was felt that we didn't want to tax children, because they use these little Tetra Paks for their lunches and that kind of thing. But I'll certainly take his suggestion under advisement.

Mr. Jenkins:      What I believe we should have is a consistent application of a deposit refund set of rules, and for anything that could be construed as being a food item or a juice item, the deposit and the refund should be equal. With respect to pop cans, I don't have any quarrel with the deposit being in excess of the refund. It is the same with a bottle of beer or a can of beer. We have a double standard in that area, Mr. Chair, in that the deposit and the refund on a bottle of beer are equal, whereas on a can of beer, they're different. So there has to be some consistent application of the rules.

Mr. Chair, if we can do the same refund and deposit for liquor, surely we can do the same refund and deposit for all of these food items. That's what I'm looking at and that's what I'm seeking from the minister.

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Mr. Chair, I believe I responded to the member opposite by saying that we'll certainly look into that. I'll get back to the member when we have looked at it, and I'll provide him an answer then.

Mr. Jenkins:      Mr. Chair, one of the other areas that has been brought to my attention and that is causing concern is the minister's operation in the freshwater fish area. I refer specifically to the stocking of lakes by private individuals and then officials of his department guarding those privately stocked lakes for the specific use of the individuals and their guests who have stocked them. Can the minister apprise the House of the policy that his government has in place on this initiative - that the conservation officers within his department are guarding these lakes and shooing off anyone else who wishes to fish in these privately stocked lakes? How did this come about, and if the minister could point to a specific policy outlining this initiative, I'd certainly appreciate it.

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      There is no specific policy, Mr. Chair, but the member is right in some areas. Something that's occurring in the territory as an economic initiative by some entrepreneurs is aquaculture. That's something that we want to support. I'm sure the member is fully apprised of Icy Waters and their successful venture. With the initiative and spirit of some of our Yukon entrepreneurs, some of the terminal basin lakes that are stocked, meaning that there's no inflow or outflow from a water body - other species could be raised in those environs to promote an economic business in the territory.

Mr. Jenkins:      Mr. Chair, I'm not referring specifically to aquaculture. I am referring specifically to a number of small lakes in the southern part of the Yukon that are being stocked privately. The minister's officials are guarding those lakes so that they remain the private domain of the individual who has stocked them or their guests.

I would like to know the policy.

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      As I have indicated to the member, there is no policy. These areas that he is referring to are on private property. Our officials are not guarding them.

Mr. Jenkins:      Well, Mr. Chair, if you want to look at the fishing management programs in the Watson Lake area, they include Watson, Frances, Stewart, Toobally, Simpson and Quiet Lake, and Long Lake also. There are also other lakes that I am not familiar with. They have not been brought to my attention, but they have public access. There is public access to these lakes. The minister's officials are precluding anyone accessing these lakes, because they have been stocked by private individuals for what they consider to be their sole purpose.

Now, the minister has indicated that they do not have a policy in this area. So what is going on?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Well, Mr. Chair, the member is right. There is a budding aquaculture industry in the Watson Lake area. There is an involvement, as I have just been advised, involving both Economic Development and Renewable Resources. Again, I will repeat that there is no policy on this. I will be quite upfront about it. The Member for Klondike is always looking for policy on this and that. Well, new initiatives aren't always guided - they are so new that there is no policy established, but we are working cooperatively with this individual. I know that the Premier herself has addressed the concerns that were raised with the individuals in the Watson Lake area.

Mr. Jenkins:      What I want the minister to address is that we have an issue of public land and public bodies of water being used for private purposes. Could the minister set out by what authority this initiative is underway, and what documentation currently exists? How does one go about doing this? Does one just come to the department and get a lake? How does one apply for a lake? I'm sure there are lots of us who would like our own private lake and the opportunity to stock it for our exclusive purposes. How does one get involved in this initiative? I'm not aware of any such programs. Could the minister just advise the House how one goes about doing this?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Yes, Mr. Speaker, I understand that the member opposite is being incredibly facetious about this point. Being an entrepreneur himself - running a successful business in Dawson - I'm sure he would respect any new enterprise or initiative. We're looking to support that kind of thing in the Yukon - something that he harshly criticizes this government for doing.

This is a new initiative. We are trying to work collaboratively and openly with the individuals involved, including some of the residents in the Watson Lake area.

Mr. Jenkins:      Well, this initiative that has just been brought to the minister's attention by the Premier, in her capacity as Minister of Economic Development, is not a new initiative. It has been around for awhile, and it would appear that it's an area for which there are no regulations in place. It's an area that is causing concern. It has been brought to my attention.

I don't want to prolong debate on this area because it's obvious that the minister has just become apprised of this initiative. Perhaps the best way is for the minister just to spell out, by way of written response, what is transpiring in this area, how one applies for one of these lakes to stock privately and to hold privately, what assistance can be provided by the government, and how the conservation officers with the minister's department are protecting these lakes and precluding others access to the lake for fishing.

These are public lakes, Mr. Chair. They've been open in the past; they are currently not. What's going on? That's what I want to know.

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Yes, well, it's healthy for the Member for Klondike to really show his colours on this and that he feels that the long arm of government now should be clamping down on individuals for their entrepreneurial and enterprising spirit. It's quite obvious that that's where he's coming from.

The Department of Renewable Resources has closed waters set apart for fish farming to public angling, through a variation order on July 31, 2000, under section 6(4) of the fisheries general regulations. This closure is an interim measure to help reduce the potential for serious conflict between fish farmers and anglers, until a policy, which he lauds all the time, is developed for the public angler, regarding access to fish farming lakes and stocked lakes.

The Fish and Wildlife Management Board has indicated that it recognizes the need for action in this field and it is certainly prepared to work with the department on this matter. There was a fish farming workshop to review the need for a long-term strategy for this industry. But it was held on November 15 and 16 of last year. And the workshop focused on the legal ownership status of fish stocks by fish farmers in pothole lakes and the need for more clarification and certainty on the matter.

A follow-up meeting with fish farmers to deal with specific issues occurred again on February 20 of this year. Consultations with the angling community in Watson Lake were scheduled for April 18 of this year. That's the current status, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Jenkins:      Well, Mr. Chair, I'm questioning the minister on this area, and it appears that his attack on me came more as a result of his lack of knowledge or understanding of this area, until he was just advised by the Premier of this undertaking and handed a briefing note. I'd say that it's more of a responsibility of the minister that he wasn't up to speed on this area, but I do thank the minister for his response.

I have just one final question, Mr. Chair, on this area. I'd like to know the timelines for policy development on this initiative.

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      The Member for Klondike, Mr. Chair, is correct on one aspect of the information he just provided to the general public. I know that he was zeroing in on a specific issue involving individuals, and I did get clarification on those aspects from the Premier. I thank her for that.

I do recall the areas of stocked lakes and I'm certainly aware of this area of entrepreneurs wanting to get into aquaculture. I am not always intimate with the details as to exactly when meetings occur or the results of those meetings, but as I just indicated, from the briefing note to the member, there were meetings held in February and in April. I cannot definitively give him a clear indication as to when policy will evolve from those meetings because it will require further consultation with proponents and the public.

Mr. Jenkins:      So until such time as there is policy developed for this area, are all Yukon fishers going to be precluded from accessing these watersheds?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Mr. Chair, there are currently 19 small, pothole lakes that have been set apart under section 57 of the Fisheries Act for the propagation of fish. Fish farming licences have been issued for each of these lakes. The process for determining which lakes will be utilized for fish farming involve public consultation at the local and community levels and also including First Nation renewable resources councils and departmental staff.

The only fish in these lakes, Mr. Chair, are those stocked by the holders of the fish farming licences. Some conflicts have occurred between the angling public and the licensed stakeholders. During the summer of 2000, the Arctic char that were stocked in some of these lakes by fish farmers grew quite large, making them, of course, quite a valuable fish to farmers and very attractive to anglers. It is those 19 lakes that are being protected and, again, I think it is to the entrepreneurial spirit of these individuals. There are some bugs to be worked out, and that is exactly what we're trying to do, and we're doing that through public consultation, including First Nations, Renewable Resources, the public - the community, as I had indicated. So exactly when that policy is going to be definitively completed, I'm sorry, I can't provide that answer to the member opposite at this time.

Mr. Jenkins:      Just for the minister's information, I am a firm supporter of aquaculture. I have had an opportunity to review installations in Norway, New Brunswick and on the west coast of North America. There are some good investment opportunities and there is some very good potential. Does the department have a policy, overall, as to how aquaculture in the Yukon is to be proceeded with?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      I just indicated to the member that this is a fledgling industry here in the territory. Meetings have occurred as recently as last November. The policy is being developed in parallel with these entrepreneurs developing their fish farms. So it is a matter of finding balance between these resource users that want to fish in these areas and respecting the entrepreneurs that are establishing these areas.

We are moving fast and quickly through the consultation process and establishing policy in this area.

Mr. Jenkins:      Well, in other areas, there have been some difficulties with aquaculture. It appears that there is no policy as yet and no guidelines as to how this industry is to work here in the Yukon. I am very uncomfortable with that, but I acknowledge the entrepreneurial spirit. I think it's contingent upon government, because there is the potential for this industry to go off the rails. That has occurred.

Now, what we have is an industry with very few, if any, regulations. How is it currently being monitored by the department, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      As I tried to indicate to the member, consultations are occurring with the fish farmers and the angling public about just exactly what the best way to manage this resource is. In order that anxieties and conflicts do not occur, monitoring is being done by the department so that the conflict doesn't grow. While the policy and guidelines are being developed on exactly how to manage the resource in these terminal basins - I guess that's one guideline, that they are being stocked in a terminal basin to ensure that there is no escapement.

I think there are natural conditions - I think that the folks who are getting into the business want their business to grow to be successful. And the Member for Klondike is absolutely right that a lot of these in other parts of the country have gone belly up because they have not managed the resource in these lakes appropriately. They have overfed the fish stock, increased the carrying capacity of the waters in which they are located to the point where they eat themselves out of house and home.

He's absolutely right. Guidelines do have to be established, and those are exactly what we're working on right now and we will do that for the success of this enterprise.

Mr. Jenkins:      Well, it must be pointed out that this industry in the Yukon is currently running blind with respect to regulations and that is not reasonable or fair. If any industry that is regulated by government in Canada has an extremely poor track record, it is the fishing industry from coast to coast. The federal Department of Fisheries has been so wide of its target with respect to how to control and manage fish stocks, it's pathetic. We are all seeing the repercussions of that today. I urge the minister to move ahead with as much speed as possible. There is a lot of information on this industry out there and I would very much like to see this industry succeed in the Yukon because I know it can, but it has to be done very quickly and in a very, very well-thought-out manner. That's all I'm looking for.

I would just like to ask the minister, with respect to catch-and-release fishing, are there any anticipated changes to this program as we currently know it?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Not as we currently know it.

Mr. Jenkins:      Now, I don't know if the minister is aware of it, but currently there is a bill before the federal department, Bill C-33, the Species at Risk Act, or SARA. As it has been stated to me by many others, this specific piece of legislation is very noble in its intention in that it hopes to ensure that no additional species become extinct. The problem being, however, that it could have a profound, negative effect on commercial and recreational activity.

Mr. Chair, as I understand Bill C-33, it gives the government far-reaching powers to close large areas of land to industry - tourism and industrial, farm and mechanized industrial use. A major area of concern is the ability to carry through on such closures and this one part really, really concerns me, even in the absence of supporting and verified scientific evidence.

Mr. Chair, this bill presents some major concerns to industry. It doesn't matter if they're a miner or a First Nation individual, who I'm sure will be exempted - or I'd hope they'd be exempted, but that has not been shown to be the case - and even snow-machine and four-wheel operators.

I'm sure the minister is aware of these concerns. Has the minister made any representation to the federal government on this initiative? If it's going to impact anywhere, it will impact immediately, Mr. Chair, in Yukon.

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Yes, Mr. Chair. The member opposite's concern is certainly the concern of the territorial government. I am familiar with the species at risk legislation. As the member opposite knows, last year it was to be moved forward but there was a federal election and it fell off the Order Paper and has been reintroduced.

Minister Anderson is working on a schedule for royal assent by June of this year and proclamation of SARA by December of this year.

One aspect of SARA - we in the territory here are committed to the National Accord on Species at Risk.

The Yukon is in the process right now of developing a draft bilateral agreement, which is something that is happening with all the provinces and territories because of the uniqueness in each area. So the concerns that the member opposite has just outlined are certainly in our minds as well, and what we are attempting to do is to clearly define our respective roles and responsibilities in implementing the national accord.

Mr. Chair, as a matter of fact, phase 2 of the review of the Wildlife Act amendments will address these issues specifically. As we had outlined when we announced the changes to the Wildlife Act, they are to be phased over a three-year period, so phase 2 actually, in accommodating the species at risk, as it applies to the territory, will be fully reviewed next year. So that is what we're looking to do, and that will give Yukoners ample opportunity to input through the consultation, as is required when we are out on phase 2 of the Wildlife Act amendment.

Mr. Jenkins:      Mr. Chair, I'd like to ask the minister how he sees his way clear to protect the interests of Yukoners in this piece of federal legislation? Now, he has indicated that he's going to be preparing a draft bilateral agreement, but given that, under the Yukon Act that this Liberal government has bought into, we just have care and control of Yukon lands. It's owned by the federal government, and all it takes, Mr. Chair, are three federal government departments to agree that this must be the course of action and that act, SARA, kicks in and can be utilized to close vast tracts of the Yukon, denying entry to anyone, Mr. Chair.

Now, that's not reasonable or proper. As I said at the onset, the goals that we hope to achieve under this federal piece of legislation are laudable and something that I don't think you would find too many people disagree with. I certainly don't disagree with the intentions, but the methods of implementation are very, very scary.

The authority to make closures can come about with little or no public input. This is going to be a done deal very soon, Mr. Chair, and I think it's going to take more than representations to the federal government. I think that we're going to have to spend some considerable time analyzing the impact and getting that information out to the public. When you first hear of this federal bill, your initial reaction - at least mine was - "Oh, sounds great. It sounds like it will benefit all of us. We have a whole series of endangered species." But what this could serve to do is make the only endangered species up here Yukoners, in our own land and in our own territory.

So, I am seeking assurances from the minister here today that he is going to have his officials spend more time analyzing this in greater detail in order to make representations to the federal government on it as to how it is going to be implemented. We are in a different category than all the other provinces with respect to land ownership and tenure. You only have to dovetail this with the Yukon Act. What this could result in is a whole other federal department superimposed on the Yukon. It's scary.

It makes George Orwell's book about Big Brother seem downright logical and the basic way the federal government of Canada is proceeding today. I don't think it's necessary to the extent it's being imposed. What we're seeing, too, is more and more of this area come to us by way of regulations - not included in the act. They are not subject to public scrutiny or debate. As I said earlier, all it takes is three federal departments to agree that it's necessary and - bang - fait accompli.

So we have a window of opportunity to make representation to the feds. I call upon this wonderful relationship that this Yukon Liberal government has with their counterparts in Ottawa to see if they can demonstrate that they have the wherewithal to ensure that the best interests of Yukoners are protected at the same time as our endangered species may be protected here in the Yukon. Will the minister do that?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Well, Mr. Speaker, it would be with tremendous pleasure that I would contact our federal counterparts because we do have a special relationship with the folks in Ottawa. I know the member opposite is familiar with SARA. SARA is a national act, and it's to provide protection for species at risk on a national level, but there is provision that bilateral agreements will be reached with the federal government and each jurisdiction.

What happens then - what we're proposing to do is that, through the amendment - during phase 2 of the Wildlife Act - we will be incorporating the species at risk principles within the act. So, Yukoners will be fully involved in that consultation, as they have been in the phase 1 process in amending the Wildlife Act.

What SARA does is give the provinces the powers to look after species at risk legislation under their own jurisdiction, and that will be applied here as well. What SARA does, though, is recognize that, if federal and territorial jurisdictions don't appropriately address species at risk within their jurisdiction, that's when the heavy arm of the federal government comes down and takes over, as the member has outlined.

So it is the responsibility of this government to fully apprise Yukoners on what species at risk legislation is, to consult, and to provide, in phase 2 of the Wildlife Act, our own species at risk legislation to address the needs from a Yukoners' perspective.

Mr. Jenkins:      Well, I would urge the minister to go back to his officials and ask them to just look at caribou in specific areas of the Yukon where the herds aren't up to the standards deemed appropriate and to superimpose this piece of legislation over it - the caribou in the Southern Lakes, if you want to use that area, or the Fortymile herd. The implications of this federal legislation is very, very far-reaching and could have serious, serious implications on all Yukoners. That's the point I wish to make, and we have to do something and we have to do something now, Mr. Chair.

I will move into another area with respect to this minister's responsibilities. This minister is responsible for an area that is probably serving to be one of the greatest impediments to mining, oil and gas, forestry - any kind of economic resource development here in the Yukon - and is serving to move venture capital to other regions of the world, either side of our borders - Alaska and the Northwest Territories are receiving all sorts of capital with respect to mineral exploration, oil and gas exploration - and that is the Yukon protected areas strategy.

But let's cut to the chase, Mr. Chair, and I'll ask the minister specifically: what is the cap that this minister is putting on the total land withdrawal under the Yukon protected areas strategy? What is the cap? How much land in the Yukon are we going to save for parks?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Obviously, Mr. Chair, the member opposite didn't hear a response that I gave the Member for Kluane.

The member is asking me to define a quantum for a cap. The member knows I'm not going to do that. The best scientific knowledge does not allow that to occur. The member opposite has already indicated in this House that he fully supports, as did previous members of the Yukon Party, the Government Leader, the leader of the party and members of the party, the protected areas strategy as it was drafted, which is exactly where it is today, Mr. Chair - exactly.

The principle in that strategy was that there would be no cap. Over 400 Yukoners were involved in the drafting of that. There was a public advisory group; there was a technical advisory group. Many, many Yukoners and First Nations - traditional knowledge was incorporated. Industry was incorporated at that time in the original draft. The member has tried to suggest that there are changes to that draft as adopted by this government. That is wrong.

That is wrong, Mr. Chair. So the member's asking me to place a cap on things. The Premier, to the group of seven, right upfront, with no hidden agenda, indicated to them that there would be no cap. That's one of the principles in this strategy. That was one of the principles that the member's previous partners in his government had committed to. It hasn't changed; it's still there. I will not place a cap on protected areas. I would also like to inform the member, though, that with the new structure that's in place within government, the new management team, the new task group that's in place, all this was reviewed with the Member for Kluane. I'm sure the Member for Klondike heard it all, as well. We are moving forward. Consultations are going full bore. Consultations are occurring with members of the group of seven as we speak, Mr. Chair, so there is an awareness of where we're going.

So, Mr. Chair, we'll review it again. He'll ask the same question; he'll create anxiety - needless, needless anxiety in the public at large. The irony of the situation, Mr. Chair, is that the Member for Klondike knows and understands the protected areas strategy. He says he supports it. He said in this House he supports it, yet he'll exaggerate way beyond what is realistic just little snippets out of the strategy to his advantage. I know the member's interests are in promoting economic development in this territory. I know they are. That's a basic principle of his party, just as it is on this side of the House.

We don't want people leaving the territory. We want a vibrant, viable and sustainable forest industry. We are taking the lead on that with the help of the Member for Watson Lake. We are taking the lead to the point that DIAND has stood up and recognized that, yes, we are taking control of our resources here, regardless of devolution, because we have to. We want to live here. We want industry here.

The Member for Klondike is suggesting that YPAS is way bigger than it is, and it's not. He would like to spread fear to everybody. It is his rhetoric in this House that is driving people away. Why? Because people trust him. We all want people to trust us. They trust what he says, but he is wrong. He has often alluded to me as the minister of parks.

Some Hon. Member:      (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      It isn't Mr. Juri Peepre. He slings aspersions at people who can't protect themselves in this House, Mr. Chair. It is incredibly inappropriate and rude. He stands up there and says, "That's my job - to stand up here and hold you accountable. Open and accountable." We are. We are being blatantly open and accountable in this process. We will continue to do that, because as I said in the debate on his motion, YPAS is a good thing. It's nothing to be frightened of.

The Premier and I talk to interests - anyone who calls and anyone who knocks at our door. We have not turned one individual away. We have returned all phone calls and we will continue to do that, because YPAS is a good thing.

We are in a very fortunate position, as I indicated to the member during debate on the issue. We have good people who are dedicated to the resources. We shouldn't have to pay or buy back habitat or areas lost. We are in a unique situation here where, at no cost to Yukoners, we can protect unique ecosystems, unique areas like Coal River Springs.

No, but what would the member do? He would take the options, which are no longer there. The options were meant to stimulate thought during the YPAS Public Advisory Committee meetings. But no, he takes it literally.

The discussion papers that were presented to the PAC members are not part of the discussion any more, quite frankly. Those aren't even part of the equation any more. We are right back to the principles. The PAC did make their recommendations to Cabinet and now they are being worked on.

But no, he'll focus on the 5,000 - repeat it like a mantra - because he is good at it. He is good at it, but it's wrong because that is not what's going to happen. We are coming up with some innovative ideas that we'll be announcing shortly. We will be continuing our consultation. We'll be showing people on maps where things are and what we're planning to do. We know that there will be more land claims coming up in the next couple of years and that special management areas will be identified. We know where they are, and those special management areas will contain ecosystem representation.

So I know that when I sit down he is going to go on a tirade again, spreading needless fear. Instead of supporting the community and supporting the resource industry, he would rather create apprehension and fear, and do so needlessly.

I know I'm getting very close. So, Mr. Chair, I'm taking advantage. And I know that one day, I hope, I can sit down with the Member for Kluane, in an open and frank discussion, to go through the document. I invite him to do that, as a matter of fact - even to sit down with the task group. I would invite him - I would challenge him to do that - to sit down and take the opportunity to listen to what we're doing and where we're going. This is an open invitation. And as the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes often believes is happening, this message goes out to 28,000 Yukoners because YPAS is a good thing.

So, I invite the member - I'll stay out of the picture if he doesn't want to talk to me. But there are some incredibly competent officials who are coming up with innovative ideas from both the departments of Renewable Resources and Economic Development on this subject - thinking out of the box.

As a matter of fact, the member, on Wildlife Day, stood up and eloquently spoke. I know why he lives here - because he likes the wild.

Some Hon. Member:      (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Well, that's true. The Member for Klondike just shared a little tidbit of information that he runs into them all the time. Well, I know that he likes the live ones too, and that's why he lives here, why he has persevered and why he has a business here - because Yukon is a wonderful place. He knows that.

This government, like what he is espousing, wants to see economic development here. We want pipelines. We want oil and gas development, as initiated by the previous government. We want it all. We want people to live here and enjoy the land in Old Crow. So it is a passionate subject, and I do take delight in getting a little carried away sometimes when I speak about YPAS, because it's a good thing.

Mr. Chair, I hope I have answered, in a respectful manner, the member's queries with respect to YPAS. And I would only hope that, in future debate and discussion here - and I know it's a job to hold us open and accountable, Mr. Chair - you would do that in a responsible way, in a factual way, because YPAS is a good thing.

Mr. Jenkins:      Mr. Chair, there are a few statements that the minister made that I agree with, not just 100 percent but probably 110 percent.

The minister said that the Yukon Party's main position is to promote economic development, and I agree with the minister. That is absolutely correct.

The minister went on to say that the same position has been taken by the Liberal Party. Well, we have a little bit of a disagreement there. That might be what their intentions are, but when the Yukon Party was in power, Mr. Chair, they demonstrated economic development, they demonstrated how to turn the economy around, they demonstrated how to turn a $60- million-odd deficit into a $60-million-odd surplus. They put Yukoners to work. They saw an increase in the population here in the Yukon because there was light at the end of the tunnel. There were business opportunities. There were opportunities in virtually every area.

And what has the Liberal government done to date? They haven't demonstrated anything of the kind, in spite of having over $100 million in their bank account, in spite of having a very, very big majority in the House. Mr. Chair, they have all of the tools. All that's lacking, sadly, is the ability. Mr. Chair, the minister went on to say that my figures were wrong. Well, I'd ask the minister to correct my figures that I put forward that he stated are wrong. Could the minister advise the House what are the correct figures as to the land that is going to be withdrawn under the Yukon protected areas strategy?

The other concern I have, Mr. Chair, is the minister goes on stating that I am responsible for getting the message out there that things are not going right with respect to the Yukon protected areas strategy. Well, Mr. Chair, I submit that the resource industry is much more capable than I am and has made that determination on its own. When you start talking to the likes of the individuals that run Cominco Teck or Teck Cominco as it now is, it's one of the largest mining consortiums in the world - a Canadian company. And they have both virtually abandoned the Yukon, Mr. Chair, virtually abandoned the Yukon. Their main area that they're concentrating on, if you want to look at the north, is Alaska. Cominco has more of a drilling program going on in Alaska now than ever before.

Teck is going through the final stages - or Cominco Teck, as these companies have recently amalgamated, Mr. Chair. Teck has one of the largest gold deposits just outside of Fairbanks, and they are going through the final stages of their permitting process.

The same mineral potential lies on this side of the Yukon/Alaska border. But they're not here developing it. They're not here exploring it. Cominco has secured its position in the Anvil Range and the Faro mine. They will receive their money out of the bankruptcy. They have sold off Sa Dena Hes - bye bye Yukon. That decision was made by this major mining company not because of the MLA for Klondike, but because of the position advanced by the Government of Yukon with respect to the Yukon protected areas strategy. That is a reality, Mr. Chair. The same holds true -

Some Hon. Member:      (Inaudible)

Chair:  Order please. I will remind members that interjections are not allowed in this House. Mr. Jenkins has the floor.

Mr. Jenkins:      Mr. Chair, the minister could restore some confidence - some confidence, not a lot - by coming clean as to the amount of land that is going to be withdrawn under the Yukon protected areas strategy. They could provide some certainty out there. There is no certainty. It is an open-ended cheque book.

We only have to see the mining claims currently inside of Tombstone. I wonder how much the minister's department has budgeted to buy out those mining claims, because the federal Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs indicated that he didn't really think that parks and mining went together. The minister ably pointed out that, "Your government created the park. If you don't want mining claims there, you buy them out."

I don't see any money budgeted for the acquisition of those mining claims. The same process repeats itself with respect to the Fishing Branch and now with the new Asi Keyi Park. That kind of uncertainty scares away the mining community and moves investment elsewhere, not the MLA for Klondike.

To restore that investor confidence, there are a number of steps that need to be taken and one of those steps is to provide some certainty around the Yukon protected areas strategy as to the total amount of land that is going to be withdrawn in goal 1. Currently the statistics are 5,000 square kilometres times each one of these initiatives. That is clearly outlined in the documentation.

Furthermore, when the Yukon Party bought into the protected areas strategy, it was based on multiple use but multiple use appears to have been sidelined. It's not front and centre as it should be. It's a sad day for the investment community.

I cannot, for the life of me, understand how an area so rich in natural resources - it came about as a result of the location of a vast deposit of gold in this area - could be almost totally dependent upon the federal government for our livelihoods today.

Even our visitor industry is suffering. You have to work really hard at wrecking that many industries at the same time. It's pretty hard to do. I don't know who is calling the shots. I call upon the Minister of Renewable Resources to provide some certainty in the investment community, specifically the mining community and the other resource extraction industries, and spell out how much land he proposes to withdraw under the Yukon protected areas strategy. There has to be a cap.

Ontario was greatly applauded, Mr. Chair, when they indicated that they were going to withdraw 12 percent of their total land mass. That's the Province of Ontario. And the Yukon has vastly exceeded that. That's the way to provide certainty. When is the minister going to wake up, smell the flowers that are starting to bloom and recognize that he has a responsibility to provide some investor confidence in the Yukon? He can do that by way of setting out the maximum amount of land that is going to be withdrawn under the Yukon protected areas strategy.

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:      Mr. Chair, I can't believe that the whole Yukon economy is on hold because of YPAS. I find that incredible, and that is what the member is suggesting - that the whole of industry in the territory is on hold because of YPAS. YPAS does establish certainty. We listen to industry, and we are prepared to identify areas of interest. That's what they wanted to know. They said, "Tell us where we can't go." We said that we're prepared to do that.

I can't give the member an answer to that because, over the next couple of years, there are going to be special management areas as a result of land claims settlements. I can't quantify. I can't do it. The member knows that. So I won't.

Chair:  Is there any further general debate?

Seeing no further general debate, we'll proceed to the branches.

On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures

On Corporate Services

Chair:  We have had instructions from the House leader and, just to confirm what is going on. We're going to just proceed to the bottom line but we do have to ask questions on the allotments and statistics first.

So, in Corporate Services, are there any questions on the statistics?

Are there any questions on the allotments?

Corporate Services in the amount of $1,708,000 agreed to

On Policy and Planning

Chair:  Are there any questions on the statistics?

Seeing no questions on the statistics, are there any questions on the allotments?

Policy and Planning in the amount of $1,232,000 agreed to

On Resource Management

Chair:  Are there any questions on the statistics?

Seeing no questions on the statistics, are there any questions on the allotments?

Resource Management in the amount of $12,091,000 agreed to

On Land Claims

Chair:  Are there any questions first of all, on the recoveries and revenues?

Are there any questions on the transfer payments?

Are there any questions on the allotments?

Land Claims in the amount of $1,091,000 agreed to

Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Department of Renewable Resources in the amount of $16,122,000 agreed to

On Capital Expenditures

On Corporate Services

Corporate Services in the amount of $209,000 agreed to

On Policy and Planning

Policy and Planning in the amount of $195,000 agreed to

On Resource Management

Resource Management in the amount of $1,496,000 agreed to

Chair:  Are there any questions on the recoveries?

Are there any questions on the transfer payments?

On Land Claims

Land Claims in the amount of one dollar agreed to

Capital Expenditures for the Department of Renewable Resources in the amount of $1,900,000 agreed to

Department of Renewable Resources agreed to

Chair:  Do we want to proceed right to the next one? We will now proceed to the Department of Finance.

Department of Finance

Chair:  Is there any general debate?

Hon. Ms. Duncan:      Certainly we are prepared to move along in discussion of Vote 12, the Department of Finance. The members opposite will be aware that there have been virtually no substantive changes or increases in this particular budget line item - this particular vote. There has been a decrease in the cost of banking services that they will note. There have been no significant changes in personnel or significant changes in prior period adjustments. That is to do with the operation and maintenance of the Department of Finance.

In capital, similar comments apply, with the exception, Mr. Chair, that I note that there is a decrease of 14 percent, or $5,000, in the capital that this particular department has requested. That is a reduction in the capital equipment required by the department.

I realize that the time is drawing to a close in this afternoon's debate. I understand also that perhaps members may wish to take a few moments to prepare for the debate. I will, on record, ask the leader of the official opposition and the leader of the third party that, if they wish to expedite debate and if they have any questions that they would like me to prepare for, perhaps they would take the opportunity during the break over the weekend to advise me of those questions. I would then be fully prepared for any detailed answers that they might be seeking.

In light of the time, I would suggest that you report progress on Bill No. 4 and that we might resume with the Department of Finance on Monday.

Some Hon. Member:      Point of order.

Point of order

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

Mr. Fentie:      With all due respect to the Premier, the Minister of Finance, we still have six minutes to go. I think it's evident that we're all ready to expedite the business of the House and, given the agreement we have just reached and the motion we have just passed, it is imperative that we ensure that we utilize the time to the second to make sure we conduct the public's business in an appropriate manner and finish by the predetermined time on Wednesday, May 9, at 6:00 p.m.

I would suggest that we quickly move along because we are prepared to go ahead in general debate in the Department of Finance.

Chair's ruling

Chair:  Unfortunately, a motion to -

Some Hon. Member:      (Inaudible)

Chair:  You can ask unanimous consent of the House to withdraw it if you wish. That's the only thing you can do, Ms. Duncan.

Unanimous consent re withdrawal of motion

Hon. Ms. Duncan:      Certainly, Mr. Chair, I was trying to be accommodating to the leader of the official opposition, but I am fully prepared to withdraw that motion that the Speaker resume the Chair and carry on with general debate on Finance, if the members wish.

Chair:  Unanimous consent has been granted. We will continue.

Hon. Ms. Duncan:      Mr. Chair, I could just add a couple of more notes then, in terms of general debate in the Department of Finance.

The department is seeking $4,249,000 in O&M and, as I mentioned, $30,000 in capital for the new fiscal year. Again, Mr. Chair, these figures are unchanged from the previous year. There is no change in the department's operations.

The capital monies, more specifically, are for the replacement of computer workstations and the ongoing enhancement of financial data processing systems.

The O&M budget is the same as last year, except for the addition of the negotiated wage increases, net of some offsets.

PIT, personal income tax revenues, are down based upon current estimates from Canada, which collects them on our behalf. The decrease is to be expected, given the tax reductions that have taken place at both the federal and territorial levels. As members know, decreases due to federal tax measures are failsafed under our formula and made up through transfer payments.

Corporate income tax has increased based on federal estimates.

Tobacco tax revenue has risen, and members are well aware of that.

The transfer payment from Canada increased through normal workings of the formula. We continue to discuss several issues - and the members are well aware of this - regarding the federal financing agreement.

If members have any general questions in the three minutes left, I'm certainly prepared to answer them.

Mr. Fentie:      I thank the minister for her comments. First, I want to begin by just going over a fundamental principle of the Department of Finance and, of course, the duties that the minister performs. I think we all can agree that the Department of Finance is certainly the department that oversees expenditures by all government departments to ensure that they fall within the parameters of whatever regulations, statutes, and spending authorities that we are governed by. However, I want to add to that something that I think the Minister of Finance and, indeed, the department should focus on - and probably does, but should certainly be focused on - and that is spending priorities.

The spending priorities of any government, I believe, are triggered at the pivot point, which is the Minister of Finance, who ultimately can have the final say at the Cabinet table and at Management Board on the expenditures of monies.

I must point out, Mr. Chair, that with this budget - the largest ever in the history of the Yukon Territory - of $535 million of expenditure for this fiscal year, there is a disturbing trend of spending priorities that come to light once you go through the budget.

Simply put, there appears to be a trend toward spending on initiatives and things in areas that certainly have a great deal today in this territory, and yet spending on those who are having difficulties, who are struggling with daily life, who are having problems even making ends meet, we don't seem to have much of a focus. Spending on government, for example, has increased considerably. An example we can use, Mr. Chair, is, given the plight of many, many Yukoners today at the windup of the fiscal year 2000-01, we have seen a massive expenditure of government monies on themselves in cosmetic upgrades - furniture, rugs and, indeed, computers and equipment of that nature. One must always scrutinize those types of expenditures at year-ends because it is definitely an indication of departments spending what would have been lapsed monies.

So we have to ask the questions then. We in the official opposition will not have a great deal of general debate in this department, but we will try to ferret out what the minister's spending priorities are, which will indeed be a reflection of her government's priorities.

Given that the time is 6:00 p.m., Mr. Chair, I move that we report progress.

Chair:  It has been moved by Mr. Fentie that we do now report progress.

Motion agreed to

Ms. Tucker:      Mr. Chair, I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.

Motion agreed to

Speaker resumes the Chair

Speaker:      I will now call the House to order.

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

Chair's report

Mr. McLarnon:      Mr. Speaker, Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 4, First Appropriation Act, 2001-02, and directed me to report progress on it.

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

Some Hon. Members:      Agreed.

Speaker:      I declare that report carried.


In recognition of Doug Arnott

Speaker:      Order please. Before I continue on, I would just like to complete one little duty. Before adjourning, I would like to advise the House that this is the last day of this session of our Acting Deputy Clerk, Mr. Doug Arnott. Mr. Arnott will be returning to his home in Ontario in the next day or so. I'm sure I speak for all members of the House by sincerely thanking Mr. Doug Arnott for the able assistance he has rendered this House.

Please join me in wishing Mr. Arnott a safe journey home and future health and prosperity. Thank you very much, Doug.


Speaker:      The time being 6:00 p.m., this House now stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. on Monday.

The House adjourned at 6:04 p.m.