Whitehorse, Yukon

Wednesday, November 21, 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.


Introduction of visitors.


Mr. Fentie:   I'd like to call the House's attention to the gallery and introduce Joyce Van Bibber, a constituent from Watson Lake. Let's please make her very welcome.


Speaker:      Are there any returns or documents for tabling?


Hon. Mr. Roberts:   I have for tabling a return on the Canadian Council for Donation and Transplantation Indemnification Act.

Speaker:      Are there any further returns or documents for tabling?

Are there any reports of committees?

Are there any petitions?

Are there any bills to be introduced?

Are there any notices of motion?

Is there a ministerial statement?


Early Childhood Development Ministerial Advisory Committee

Hon. Mr. Roberts:   I rise today to inform the House of the appointment of three Yukoners who will be instrumental in helping government design the priorities for early childhood development.

It was important that we choose eminently qualified Yukoners who would not be in conflict while carrying out the mandate of the committee.

Mr. Speaker, the committee is set up to bring a wide array of people together. Early childhood does involve people from Education, Health and Social Services, the Women's Directorate, Justice. And Mr. Speaker, the committee involves four ministers and their designated officials and three representatives from the general populace of the Yukon. These four ministers are from the departments of Education, Justice and Health and the Women's Directorate. They will be asked, in part, to look at how we distribute early childhood funding, and they also will be asked to look at how we can work together to bridge the gaps in service and to prevent government duplication of service in that area.

The Yukon will receive, and has received, some of this money already - $1.9 million in federal funding - which will be spread over four years. This is part of our national early childhood development initiative. Some of that money has already been directed toward supporting hot lunch programs at Yukon family day homes, expanding the healthy families program for early intervention of families and newborns at risk. The additional funds will be allocated to projects as directed by the ministerial advisory committee.

The three members on the Early Childhood Ministerial Advisory Committee are from the Teen Parent Centre, the Yukon Teachers Association, and the Health and Social Services Advisory Council. Together we will review suggestions for priorities that are submitted by interest groups and stakeholders.

We want to ensure that the allocation of these funds, and the suggestions brought forward, will have the most benefit to the most Yukon children.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Keenan:   Mr. Speaker, I must say that I'm eminently disappointed with this ministerial statement. I was very much hoping that the minister would bring forth a statement that would have done the right thing.

What he has done here is the wrong thing.

So let me point out what is missing from this ministerial statement. And truly what is missing is this minister's commitment from December 12 of last year, when the minister stood on the floor of this House and the minister stated that, "we are going to put money in the pockets of those people who are most dear to our child care at this point, and they are the child care workers".

Well, Mr. Speaker, this minister has broken faith with the Yukon people, and he has broken faith by not honouring his commitment that was made in this Legislature. I feel, Mr. Speaker, that this minister, instead of showing the leadership that's required for health initiatives in the Yukon Territory, has just put up another smokescreen in terms of an advisory committee.

Now, taking advice is always good, and it's necessary at all times - always necessary. Mr. Speaker, when you have a committee that has more government representatives on it than private citizen representatives on it, it seems to me that maybe government has already made up its mind.

I also take offence to the second paragraph, where the minister goes on to say that the eminently qualified Yukoners - that would not be a conflict. Well, Mr. Speaker, I have nothing against the people who are going to be representing government on this committee. I think that they are going to be able to do a fine job, but I would like to point out that the minister has overlooked an eminently qualified person here in the Yukon Territory, the national chair, and simply for the reason that this person does not conform to all of the minister's ideas at all times and this person likes to have dialogue and to bring forth what is right for the children and not what is right for government.

So, Mr. Chair, I do not consider this a ministerial statement at all for the benefit of the people of the Yukon Territory. I consider it just another statement by the minister.

Thank you.

Mr. Jenkins:   Now, on November 20, the minister issued a news release announcing the appointment of three members to the Early Childhood Development Ministerial Advisory Committee to help him spend $1.9 million from Ottawa over the next four years. That is effectively the substance of this ministerial statement. The minister is then criticized, and rightly so, by the executive director of the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Society, and then by the president of the Yukon Childcare Association, for not appointing members to the committee who have specific expertise in early childhood development.

Rather than accepting this public drubbing, the minister then brings his news release to the Legislature in the form of a ministerial statement. He sticks his chin out and is basically saying, "Hit me". Glad to oblige, Mr. Speaker.

Will the minister, in his wisdom, please advise the House why he didn't increase the size of the committee to appoint individuals who have expertise in early childhood development, in addition to the three members he has already appointed? What would be the problem with doing that, Mr. Speaker?

That is what we on this side of the House would expect because it makes common sense, and that is what those with expertise in early childhood development recommended. By announcing this additional member, or additional members, in his ministerial statement, the minister, for once, would have demonstrated that he was actually listening to and acting on the advice and wishes of the public.

Instead, Mr. Speaker, the minister did the opposite. Common sense will not deter this my-way-or-the-highway minister from falling on his political sword once again in the Legislature. This minister is a constant source of wonderment, not only for this side of the House but I'm sure to his Liberal Cabinet and caucus colleagues as well. No one is quite sure what this minister is going to say or do next. This House would be a much duller place without the Minister of Health and Social Services. He is like a beacon, shining through the gloom - be it only half a watt bright, Mr. Speaker. We eagerly await his next ministerial statement.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Hon. Mr. Roberts:   Again, I expected that kind of a response from the opposition because I guess it's not their people who have been nominated to the committee.

I believe, Mr. Speaker, an attack on government employees as the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes just made won't hold him in high regard when it comes to their expertise and their ability to work with Yukoners and with children.

The member opposite has just slammed the abilities of the very capable people we have put on this committee, who are all connected to children and all are working with children.

As well, I hear from the member opposite that we got a concern from the president of the Childcare Association. The president of the Childcare Association works in the NDP office, Mr. Speaker. I don't know if that has any connection to where we're going at this point. We sent out 50 letters. We got 10 responses. We picked three people. I think we did a very noble job in picking the best people we could have in the pool. We could have picked far more, but we don't want to make it unwieldy.

I'm really quite pleased about the representation that we, the four ministers and their delegates, are going to be, as a committee. This will ensure that the committee has access to experts working in the field of early childhood. If the president of the YTA is not an expert in childhood - early childhood, late childhood - who is? If the person working in legal aid with teenagers - and who are parents, by the way; all these people are parents - if that isn't a sort of credit to their ability, then I would wonder about that as well, Mr. Speaker.

The chair of our social services council was appointed by that council, and we selected him to serve on this particular committee.

So I guess, again, if they're not capable, I really question the ability of the opposition to make those kinds of observations.

Secondly, the general public is represented on this committee, because we value community members. We know these nominees will bring forward their own experiences, as parents, their common sense and their working knowledge as well. We are confident that a person does not need to be an expert in the field or hold a degree or even work in a particular field in order to be on the committee or to make good financial and logical decisions. I think you have to have an interest; you have to have certain experience; you have to have an expertise. Those are all factors, Mr. Speaker.

The committee will always have access to the experts, and no particular group was promised any position on the committee. I'm really glad to see that there's a lot of concern about the committee because, obviously, people are very happy with the fact that we are going to move ahead with a collective approach, far more than what has happened in the past. Here, a committee will be making the recommendations as to how the money will be spent, not one minister or one individual.

We believe in involving the general public, department officials and ministers as much as we can to make sure that we do the right thing. The committee is a good example of how this government is free of conflict, free of slush funds, and operates on a level playing field, supporting Yukoners. Our way of governing really bothers the opposition, particularly the NDP, because it's quite different from how they operated. We pick from the population; we don't pick because of the political affiliation.

Well, Yukoners can rest assured. We are making changes in the best interest of children and Yukoners. Changes are difficult to digest, especially when Yukoners haven't been exposed to change in such a long while. Well, time will tell. It's all a part of the democratic process. We are continuing to govern with respect, dignity and balance.

Thank you.

Speaker:      This then brings us to Question Period.


Question re: CT scanner

Mr. Keenan: Well, I agree with the Minister of Health that time will tell. We have just got a few short years that the Yukon people have to hang on, and I encourage them to hang on.

And, of course today I do have a question for the Minister of Health. It is regarding the privatization agenda. Now, in debate, the minister referenced the for-profit full body scans being done at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver, and the minister actually suggested that this would be a good thing for the Yukon, although we all know that that move toward privatization of health care is opposed by most Canadians. It was interesting when I read The Globe and Mail this weekend, that a headline read, "Yukon offers tourists frostbite and CT scans." The story says that a private CT scan will be operational by next summer. So, does the minister support the opening of a private centre, and how does he intend to license it?

Hon. Mr. Roberts:   I didn't realize that the member had surveyed all Canadians about opposing private CT scans. I think that is marvellous that the member opposite has been able to do that in this short time because, for the record, I would like to correct - I don't think the member really has that information that all Canadians - or the majority of Canadians - are opposed.

Again, it demonstrates how the members opposite cannot stand change or any new ideas. It is obvious because, any time you see something happening in other parts of the jurisdiction, they are going to even question that. So, we try to bring some good ideas forward to look at whether we can make new ways of doing things and, immediately, they pounce on it and say, "Well, no, we can't do it because we haven't done it that way."

A private corporation does what they have to do. If they want to do what they do as a business, then they do what they do as a business. We as government, obviously, if there are things that we have to do and we believe it is in the best interest of Yukoners, we will do what we have to do to make that work.

Mr. Keenan:   Well, Mr. Speaker, the minister has obviously missed the question. The minister did not even come close to answering the question, although he did take the time to take a couple of whacks at me. Well, that's quite all right because I think that the majority of Yukoners recognize that this minister speaks from a defensive position and also a vacuum - a vacuum of knowledge, I might add.

Now, the minister has been on record saying that there is not enough demand for full-time use of a public CT scanner. He has been there. The minister has delayed the public purchase while the hospital fund raises. Now, what does this minister intend to do if the private clinic opens before the CT scanner is available at the Whitehorse General Hospital? Does the minister have a contingency plan?

Hon. Mr. Roberts:   Again, the member is wrong. We didn't delay, Mr. Speaker. What we did was go out there and try to be creative; we tried to see if there were other solutions to the issues out there. That's what we did.

There was never any condition placed on the purchase of the CT scanner, as far as when they wanted to purchase it. They could purchase it tomorrow. It's not conditional on whether they have fund raised or not. I mean, that's a decision that the hospital board will make.

As far as the question is concerned, Mr. Speaker, we're not into the area of operating and offering services as a government, per se. The hospital board has said that it is going to move ahead with the purchase of a CT scanner. They have a timeline set up in which they are going to do that, and hopefully they will be following their timeline. I'm not going to be prejudging what that decision is. They make their own decisions.

Mr. Keenan:   Well, Mr. Speaker, I must point out to the minister that being creative or hiding behind a privatization agenda is exactly what this minister is doing. That's not being creative; that's just going down and plowing a whole different road. Now, I have to say that that road is not even blazed. The work that the Member for Mount Lorne is doing on the national committee has not even come into focus at this point of time, yet we have this rogue minister going out and privatizing the world.

Well, the minister needs to support public health care. He is the Health minister. The minister must get out in front, and the minister must lead - the minister must not hide behind committees or baffle any of the situations. The minister has a job to do, and we expect the minister to do that job.

Will the minister commit to fronting the $150,000 to the hospital and providing them with clear direction to purchase a CT scanner without delay? Will the minister do that before Christmas?

Hon. Mr. Roberts:   Mr. Speaker, once again, the member opposite makes an issue out of very little. The member opposite is famous for that. We do not purchase CT scanners as a government. The Hospital Corporation makes those decisions. I don't tell the hospital board what to do and what not to do. The member should know that. Mind you, maybe during their reign, they probably did; I don't know, but I know we don't. We believe in our corporations and our communities and our committees to do the jobs that we have assigned them to do.

We have not privatized anything. The member made a comment that we've privatized health care. We haven't privatized anything. I don't know where the member's coming from. Once again, the member is wrong to make a statement like that and expect people to believe it. We've not privatized anything. And if the member questions going out and discussing and looking for solutions to issues that are affecting all Canadians, then I think the member should really look at what he's saying.

This is what it's all about, Mr. Speaker. The democratic process, Mr. Speaker, is to look at more efficient ways and better ways of delivering services. I'm not going to give the hospital board any order. They do what they have to do. We put them there in that position to do the job that we've assigned them to do.

Question re:   Child care worker funding

Mr. Keenan:   Well, Mr. Speaker, I have another question for the Minister of Health. This minister here keeps standing up and singing that country song that I am wrong. Well, Mr. Speaker, I've got to point out that the only one singing country and wrong on that side of the House is the Cabinet, because the rest of the Yukon is singing the blues at this time. Economically, health-wise - they're just out there singing the blues. Now, yesterday the minister - what a day. The minister stood on his feet in this House, and he demonstrated a complete lack of understanding and respect for child care. He claimed that he could train child care workers.

Now, unless this minister has qualifications that we're not aware of, or I'm certainly not aware of, I don't know how he can do that. So will the minister please spell out what qualifications and training he has in adult education and early childhood development? Will the minister do that?

Hon. Mr. Roberts:   I think a question like that doesn't deserve an answer. I mean, what is the member trying to get at? What's the real question?

Mr. Keenan:   I appreciate that because, yesterday, the minister was blowing his own horn and, today, the minister is backtracking. I would like to point out to the Yukon public that the minister has gone home, watched the television of Question Period last night, and has decided that I have put in an affront to the child care workers here in the Yukon Territory. Maybe the minister will get out and lead the charge now, do the right thing, instead of find ways to smokescreen it.

Training, consistency of care and wages - they directly affect the quality of care with children. The Yukon want ads are full of trained ECEs, and that's because the trained workers leave the field.

Again, I have to quote that "we are going to put the money in the pockets of those people who are most dear to our child care at this point, and they are the child care workers." Well, Mr. Speaker, you and I both recognize that quality does matter in child care.

What is the minister going to do to rectify this issue and show that he does support quality child care?

Hon. Mr. Roberts:   I'm not sure what the question was, but I'll give the member opposite an answer. First of all, I would like to correct the member opposite: the Yukon family care providers training trust fund - if this is what the member is talking about - known as the "child care training fund", is governed by the Department of Education, so really it's not a question for me, but since the member opposite directed it at me, I'll answer it.

The Yukon Childcare Association had applied for and was responsible for the administration of the Yukon family care providers training trust fund. The child care staffing standards are prescribed by the regulations of the Yukon's Child Care Act, which is administered by the Department of Health and Social Services. This fund was scheduled to expire in the spring of 2001. No proposals were put forward by the Yukon Childcare Association before spring of 2001 to ensure the continuation of the fund.

If that's what the member wanted as an answer, I have given the member opposite the answer.

Mr. Keenan:   Well, Mr. Speaker, the minister says he's not sure of the question, yet the minister goes ahead and answers the question. I'd like to point out again to the Yukon public that we have here a minister who does not listen. We have a minister who finds excuses, and the minister is great at directing but not at listening.

Now, the minister must realize that child care is multi-faceted. It's based in centres and it's based in homes, but both are licensed by the government. The government is the licensing authority. And both receive funding from the government. So the minister is considering lifting the moratorium on the CSA standards for playgrounds and that will allow the day homes to opt out.

Now, I could ask the minister, and I hope the minister is listening: why is the minister imposing a two-tier system for children's safety? Is this just another part of the minister's agenda?

Hon. Mr. Roberts:   It's rather obvious, Mr. Speaker. When the member opposite doesn't get his way, it's two tiered. That always seems to be the way it is.

The child care training trust fund was scheduled to expire in the spring of 2001. No proposals were put forward by the Yukon Childcare Association before the spring of 2001 to ensure the continuation of the fund, Mr. Speaker. No proposal means no interest and, therefore, the fund was not renewed. Maybe the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes should ask one of the people in his office why this happened, instead of trying to blame the government for it, because that person happens to be the president of the Childcare Association.

Question re:  Addictions treatment centre

Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Speaker, this Liberal government's track record in dealing with alcohol abuse in the territory has been nothing short of appalling. In opposition, the Liberal members attacked the previous NDP government for shutting down the Crossroads alcohol and drug treatment centre, which had been operating in the territory for some 26 years. The Member for Riverdale South even tabled a petition bearing almost 3,000 names, calling upon the then NDP government to restore Crossroads funding. Now that they're in government, the Liberals have done nothing to restore an in-patient treatment centre in Whitehorse to replace Crossroads and, in fact, have frozen funding for addiction treatment in the communities as well.

Rather than spending hundreds of thousands of dollars setting up an alcohol and drug bureaucratic empire, will the minister agree to re-establish a Crossroads-type in-patient treatment centre in Whitehorse and to restore addictions funding to the communities? Will the minister do that?

Hon. Mr. Roberts:   I have been on record in the past stating that the drug and alcohol addiction is one of the seven priorities of this government. In achieving this end, the executive director of the secretariat has been working diligently for the past two months. The members opposite, you know, closed Crossroads by the way. And it's rather interesting to find that it wasn't one of their members who brought this question up, but they had to move it over to what I call their other member, the Member for Klondike. So, I guess basically what I am seeing here is that it is the same question only somebody different is asking it.

I guess over the past two months she has been working very hard. She has been to every community, talking to our partners, talking to our communities. She has been discussing with them how and what action should be taking place and how they want alcohol and drug services delivered.

The community addictions fund has not been activated for the current year until the new executive director makes her formal presentation and recommendations to me and the Cabinet colleagues. In the meantime, the executive director and her staff are keen to work with all Yukon communities and she has been working very hard. I know that the members opposite expect a lot in two months, but we are just going to give her the time and have her expertise come forward so that we can do a long-term plan.

Mr. Jenkins:   So if this is one of the seven priorities that this government is fast-tracking, I'd hate to see some initiative on any of the backburner issues.

Let's look at the FAS/FAE registry that has turned out to be a dismal failure with only 11 people having been registered because no diagnostic team has been established. Does the minister really believe that there are only 11 Yukoners afflicted with FAS/FAE, or will he now agree to act on a Yukon Party proposal made more than a year and a half ago, to establish a special diagnostic team with other health care professionals to deal with FAS/FAE diagnosis? Will he finally do that?

Hon. Mr. Roberts:   Thank you. How quickly the questions change. Mr. Speaker, again, FAS and FAE are very important issues for our government. We believe that we have to work very hard in trying to eradicate this one particular ailment that can be eradicated, and we have a working group in place that has been working on the report of a diagnostic team. I have not as of yet received that report and, when I receive it, I will share the contents with the members opposite.

Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Speaker, it has been a year and a half on these initiatives that the minister has been at work, and we're just getting a final report, and then we have to deal with the final report and implement it.

Now, early diagnosis of FAS/FAE, preferably by the age of six, is critical. When is the minister going to act to ensure that Yukoners can receive this early diagnosis? What's the timeline for this new system being put in place?

Hon. Mr. Roberts:   Once again, Mr. Speaker, I noticed or sensed a little veiled threat there, that a working committee that is composed of people from the community is being given sort of a negative here by the member opposite, because they had been working on this report, Mr. Speaker. I have not been working on the report. We tasked them to do the report. As I've just mentioned, I have not received the report yet. Once I receive the report, Mr. Speaker, then we can look at the contents and come up with timelines. So, again, the member opposite doesn't hear the answers because the member opposite doesn't want to hear the answers. We are going to deal with it, Mr. Speaker, but we're waiting for our experts, the people who know best, to come back with the report.

Question re:  Job descriptions

Mr. Fairclough:   Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the acting Premier.

Yesterday she refused to answer any questions about Project Yukon. She also wouldn't allow the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission to answer any question that's related to job descriptions. With the budget for writing new job descriptions moved to the Executive Council Office, will that office also be writing the job descriptions, or will that still be in the Public Service Commission function?

Hon. Ms. Buckway:   There are a lot of decisions yet to be made, and writing job descriptions is one of them. The members are continuing to fear-monger and raise worries among the public servants - worries that are completely unnecessary. The members opposite are being irresponsible, and I think they should be ashamed of themselves.

Mr. Fairclough:   Well, what an answer, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, this is an important issue. Renewal is an important issue. It's becoming more and more apparent that this whole renewal exercise is coming out of two corner offices on the main floor of this building. The southeast office is the Premier's, and the northwest office is occupied by her hand-picked DM for the Executive Council Office.

I ask the members on that side of the House to get up to speed with renewal because, three weeks from now, we will have a structure that's in place, and the Minister of Tourism didn't even know the date. She said April 15 but, in three weeks from now, we will have a structure in place.

Can the acting Premier tell us: did this renewal process, that is causing so much concern, originate in the southeast office or in the northwest office?

Hon. Ms. Buckway:   Mr. Speaker, I won't even dignify that with an answer.

Mr. Speaker, renewal is important. It's something that the public and employees asked for. People have been working very hard on it, and very soon they will learn what is happening. The Auditor General has also asked for it, and we are delivering what has been requested.

Mr. Fairclough:   Well, soon the public service will learn what this Liberal government is doing, and it's not something they asked for; it's not something the public has asked for. It is this Liberal government's own doing. The members opposite know that, and because of oil and gas failing, this is their next big thing that they would like to bring to the Yukon public.

Well, Mr. Speaker, the federal Liberal government cut the public service by 25 percent. The deputy minister who reports directly to the Premier was recruited from that Ottawa downsizing culture. No doubt, he arrived with a copy of a well-known, right-wing book called Reinventing Government under his arm.

Can the acting Premier provide any assurance whatsoever that the government-restructuring model introduced next month will be anything other than a carbon copy of what the Premier announced on June 14?

Hon. Ms. Buckway:   The member is casting aspersions on public servants again. I wish they would quit putting down the public service. We value their work very highly.

The members opposite have been spreading the irresponsible rumour of job loss, purely for their own political purposes. Again, they should be ashamed of themselves for spreading information that they know is wrong.

Question re: Government renewal process, layoffs

Mr. Fentie:   Well, the opposite side of the House is accusing this side of the House of attacking the public service.

So, speaking of attacks on the public service, I have a question for the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission. When it comes to project downsize/privatize, and job loss resulting from that project, this minister won't say how many. The Premier will not say how many jobs will be lost. The political lead, the backbencher responsible for this project, will not say how many jobs will be lost. And the deputy minister who is doing most of the work on this project won't say.

Let's clear this up. To end all of this uncertainty, will the minister now tell us, once and for all: is the layoff target bigger or smaller than the 175 that senior government officials used in meetings with community groups?

I would point out to the minister that when those senior officials speak, they speak for the minister.

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

Point of order

Speaker:      Order please. The Member for Whitehorse Centre on a point of order.

Mr. McLarnon:      Mr. Speaker, when facts introduced to this House are contrary to any publicly documented process, it's normal that those facts are tabled.

What I'm asking the Member for Watson Lake to do is table any public official statement that has been made, saying that these numbers are, in fact, true. Without that, Mr. Speaker, what we have is a statement attacking the civil service, without names, without any process, being brought up in this House as fact.

What we have to do in this House, Mr. Speaker, is respect fact.

What we have right here is no credibility toward that fact.

Speaker's ruling

Speaker:      Order please. There is no point of order here, and I'll ask the Member for Watson Lake to continue - but, if you're finished with your question, I'll ask the Acting Premier to continue.

Hon. Ms. Buckway:   There are no targets and there never have been. The Premier has said that over and over. The members opposite are choosing not to hear that, for their own political purposes. I will say it again: there are no targets and there never have been.

Mr. Fentie:   Well, that's not what government officials, who speak for this government and these ministers, are saying.

We all know that Liberals lead from behind, Mr. Speaker, so let's look at some facts. The federal Liberals have chopped 25 percent from the public service. The Ontario Tories have chopped 22 percent. The Alberta Tories have chopped 20 percent. And, yesterday, the Liberal cousins in B.C. announced they are going to chop one-third of their public service, no matter what devastating impact that will have on the province's economy.

My question to the minister responsible for the public service: will the minister tell us right now how much smaller this Yukon Liberal government wants the public service to be by the time devolution takes place in April 2003?

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:   As the Acting Premier has just indicated, speaking on behalf of the Premier, the Premier has indicated that there are no targets and there never have been targets. They're choosing not to hear that, Mr. Speaker, but that is the fact.

Mr. Fentie:   The worry here is that the side opposite has brought incorrect information to the floor of this House far too often. It is the government officials for this government who are reciting those numbers. It's simple math, Mr. Speaker. If you cut 175 public service jobs, you're taking millions of dollars out of the Yukon economy in a time when it is most needed. You're taking it right out of the cash registers of Yukon businesses. Instead of improving services to the public, you are jeopardizing those services to the public.

Some Hon. Member:      (Inaudible)

Point of order

Speaker:      Order please. The Member for Whitehorse Centre, on a point of order.

Mr. McLarnon:      There are times in there that the hon. member has used unparliamentary language. "You" is not acceptable in this House in a direct question. Please ask him to refer all questions through the Chair, which is normal practice in this House.

Speaker's ruling

Speaker:      Thank you. The Member for Whitehorse Centre is correct in the fact that the questions must be directed either to the ministers and address them by the ministry, not "you" or "your" or whatever else. I'm sure that the member understands, and I'm sure it was just an error. I ask the member to continue.

Mr. Fentie:   Thanks, Mr. Speaker. I see the members opposite are extremely sensitive, so I'll say "the members opposite".

Instead of improving public services, the members opposite are jeopardizing public service with project downsize/privatize.

Mr. Speaker, my question for the minister is this: besides the privatization that has already started in this territory, what public services does the Yukon Liberal government plan to cut altogether or contract out to the private sector? Which ones?

Hon. Ms. Buckway:   We have been very clear with the members opposite, but they are choosing not to hear us, that there are no targets. The figure they keep quoting is in their heads - they have tabled nothing to prove otherwise. There are no targets, and the members opposite may have had a plan to downsize or privatize if they had become government, but there is no such plan on this side of the House, and there is no target and there never has been.

Question re:  Gambling casino

Mrs. Peter:   My question today is for the Minister of Justice. Yesterday, in budget debate, the Minister of Tourism was very clear about the Liberal position on the question of gambling. The minister said, "This government is against the expansion of gambling in the Yukon Territory." Does the Minister of Justice agree with that position?

Hon. Ms. Buckway:   Yes, that is correct. This government is not interested in the expansion of gaming in the territory.

Mrs. Peter:   It is now public knowledge that a Whitehorse group of people is making plans for a casino at the Klondike Westmark Hotel here in Whitehorse. We don't know who all the players are but the group does include the president of the Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon. Has the minister been in touch with this group to explain the Liberal government's policy?

Hon. Ms. Buckway:   Yes, I have met with this group. They presented me their proposal, which referred to a space that could be used as a weekend casino, as is done now for charitable organizations. They also referred to space that could be rented to charitable organizations for bingo, such as is being done now, and I referred their information to the department so they could check and see if there was any problem with it. I am waiting for an answer from the department. They did not ask about opening a gambling casino.

Mrs. Peter:      The Yukon already has one licensed casino, operated by the Klondike Visitors Association. Earlier this year, a spokesperson for the KVA was speculating about the need for a second casino, even though revenues at Diamond Tooth Gertie's are down.

The minister must be aware of the many studies on the social costs of gambling. What instructions has the minister given her department about how to deal with an application for a new casino licence, whether it's from the KVA, this new group in Whitehorse, or anyone else?

Hon. Ms. Buckway:   The Department of Justice is well aware of this government's position - that we do not want to see an expansion of gaming in the Yukon Territory.

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




Clerk:      Motion No. 168, standing in the name of Mr. McRobb.

Motion No. 168

Speaker:      It has been moved by the Member for Kluane

THAT it is the opinion of this House that:

(1) the Yukon protected areas strategy was the result of thousands of hours of work by Yukon people;

(2) the strategy fulfilled commitments made by two previous Yukon governments to set aside representative areas of each of the Yukon's distinctive ecoregions;

(3) that strategy was also consistent with the legal obligations of the Government of Yukon under the Yukon First Nations umbrella final agreement;

(4) during the last territorial election campaign, the Yukon Liberals promised to enshrine the Yukon protected areas strategy in law;

(5) the Parks and Land Certainty Act currently under debate has not had the benefit of public review and consultation, it fails to honour the Yukon Liberal government's commitment to enshrine the Yukon protected areas strategy in law, and it ascribes powers to the minister and Cabinet that are contrary to the intent of the Yukon protected areas strategy; and

THAT this House urges the Yukon Liberal government to honour its commitments to Yukon people, by setting aside the Parks and Land Certainty Act until such time as the appropriate public consultation has taken place, and by bringing it forward for debate only when it is accompanied by separate, stand-alone legislation that clearly enshrines the Yukon protected areas strategy in law.

Mr. McRobb:   I'm very pleased to sponsor today's motion and speak to this motion.

I want to start by giving an update on where the act is at. It has been passed through second reading and will soon be brought into Committee for review before it is passed as legislation. That is, unless the Liberal members on the other side can bring themselves to agree with us who are in the minority in this Legislature.

Since the last of this sitting is December 3, and all members must also deal with other legislation as well as reviewing next year's capital budget, the members on the government side know that all they have to do is ride this out for a few days and hope everything blows over by Christmas. But this is much more than that, Mr. Speaker. It's about several things that are very important to Yukoners. It's not only about providing for future generations, protecting our heritage, our land, air, water, wildlife and our way of life, it's also about what this government is made of. It's about how this government treats all of the aforementioned values and about how it values the input of Yukon people. It's about governing for all of the people. It's about showing leadership and being true to the people of the territory and to the principles we all believe in.

So I'm looking forward to hearing what each of the 10 speaking members of the Liberal government have to say about today's motion. Certainly each member has constituents affected by this legislation and it is incumbent upon each of the Liberal members, as the people's representatives, to speak on their collective behalf.

Of course, today's discussion falls under the process of motion debate. The purpose of motion debate is to open up discussion for all members and to focus discussion on a matter of importance and urgency to the public. The mechanics of the motion process are such that both I, as mover of the motion, and the first responder on the government side, who I would expect will be the Minister of Renewable Resources, responsible for the department sponsoring the legislation, are entitled to unlimited time. Each member thereafter gets 20 minutes until either a vote is called or time expires at the end of the day's proceedings, which is 6:00. Time permitting, the mover of the motion has an opportunity to close the debate.

Sometimes the motion is amended by the other side and sometimes amendments are intended to change the effect of the motion. Normally, a member speaks to a motion only once; however, that opportunity does repeat itself with each amendment.

I encourage the members of the other side to refrain from such activity today and try, in earnest, to respect what we hope to accomplish.

What do we hope to accomplish today, Mr. Speaker? Let's start by saying this motion debate will serve to increase awareness of what this act should be and what it is not in its present form. Why? In the hope of enlightening members on the government side that setting aside the legislation, improving it through public consultation, enshrining in it YPAS and returning it in the spring as stand-alone legislation, is the right thing to do.

One more thing about motions, Mr. Speaker. Only a small portion of them ever get debated, for various reasons - just as, when a motion is debated, there are reasons. In this case, we in the official opposition believe this issue to be serious enough and of great enough concern to the Yukon public to call it for debate today, even though our remaining schedule in this fall sitting is very tightly pressed.

You may have noticed that I have spent some time setting the stage for this afternoon's debate. That's out of respect for the people in attendance and for those not totally familiar with the happenings in this Legislature. Even though my time is unlimited, Mr. Speaker, I plan to be done in less than an hour in order to provide the opportunity for others to speak. That's much unlike the Health minister, who has droned on for hours on two recent events, running out the clock and not leaving any time for other members to speak.

I want to go to an overview of this motion. This brings us to the focus of the motion, which is on the proposed legislation. I say "proposed," Mr. Speaker, because that's the status of the bill until it is passed through this House and given assent. Everybody should know by now that the legislation in question is about the Yukon protected areas strategy and is named the Parks and Land Certainty Act. This is the very act that was to enshrine Yukon protected areas strategy into law. That was what the Liberals had promised Yukoners in their election platform. That was what the minister had committed to in this House, and that was what everyone had expected. Unfortunately, the proposed act falls far short of meeting that commitment.

I'd like to say a few good things about the Yukon protected areas strategy, Mr. Speaker, starting with how it was heralded for its balanced and fair process by people on all sides of the equation. It was seen as one of the most progressive strategies ever created. The hundreds of Yukoners who developed it deserve a lot of credit for their hard work and their perseverance. The consultative process was respectful, informative and appreciated by participants who recognized the importance of developing a strategy with such long-lasting effects.

That is all part of what makes this stripped-down version of YPAS so difficult to accept.

The public advisory committee was set up in 1997, and it played a key role in developing this strategy and ensuring public input. The minister knows this, as he was a member on that committee.

A number of Yukon organizations participated on the PAC, and I would like to identify them, for the public record, in acknowledgement of their contribution to the YPAS. We will start with the Alsek Renewable Resources Council, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Klondike Placer Miners Association, Mayo District Renewable Resources Council, Teslin Renewable Resources Council, Vuntut Gwitchin Renewable Resources Council, Yukon Agricultural Association, Yukon Chamber of Commerce, Yukon Chamber of Mines, Yukon Conservation Society, Yukon Fish and Game Association, Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board, Yukon Forest Industries Association, Yukon Land Use Planning Council, Yukon Outfitters Association, Yukon Tourism Industry Association and the Yukon Trappers Association. The list of participants in the process is extensive.

The YPAS document was released in December 1998. The document named Wild Spaces Protected Places: A Protected Areas Strategy for the Yukon set out in clear fashion its goals, principles, roles and responsibilities, process, how to manage competing uses and implementation of this important strategy.

Mr Speaker, in looking through the main report, there are a number of the goals and principles spelled out. It also identifies seven technical papers, and I'll identify them quickly: (1) Roles and Responsibilities for Implementation; (2) Types of Protected Areas and Criteria for Selection; (3) Planning and Establishing Protected Areas; (4) Protected Areas and Yukon First Nation Final Agreements; (5) Socio-economic Assessment of Protected Areas; (6) Interim Protection and Third Party Interests; and (7) Reviewing and Updating the Strategy.

Among the criteria for selection of goal 1 areas - and, for the record, goal 1 is the highest level of area protection of the three levels offered in the YPAS process. There are four criteria used to select core protected areas. Now, time today doesn't permit me to get into that level of detail, but the criteria are clearly spelled out.

Other goals of the strategy are also indicated in regard to protecting special places. There are, as mentioned, the three levels of protection. In regard to guiding principles of the strategy, there are nine main principles that will guide the creation of a protected area. The roles and responsibilities are set out. The renewable resource councils are identified as important players.

It is a darn shame to see how so much good work can be flushed down the drain in what is this proposed act, because it does not allow for the good, public process that was developed through the YPAS.

It's no wonder why there was so much support for this strategy. It was built on process and it provided ongoing opportunities for Yukon people and organizations to share in the decision-making process, to be kept informed, and to have their say. People in our territory want to be treated respectfully, Mr. Speaker, and they want meaningful roles in determining what path their territory and their home take into the future.

I want to turn now to discuss some of the deficiencies in the proposed legislation. There are many shortcomings in it, starting with how it was drafted in the government back rooms, completely devoid of public process, which was the very meat and potatoes of the Yukon protected areas strategy. I will be addressing this concern in more detail later.

The list of deficiencies is extensive. In the time available, I have rendered it down to the following 10, Mr. Speaker: (1) it fails to enshrine YPAS into legislation; instead, it enshrines mining in parks; (2) it fails to protect against mineral exploration and road development in all parks, and fails to provide interim protection; (3) it fails to uphold the Whitehorse mining initiative; (4) it fails to protect each of the agreed-to 23 ecoregions; (5) it fails to protect the biodiversity of a region and creates tension between ecological integrity and other competing uses; (6) it ascribes powers to the minister and the Liberal Cabinet that clearly contradict YPAS; (7) it fails to define criteria for designating parks or to define valid or subsisting interests; (8) it fails to prohibit visitor-related development in ecological and wilderness preserves; (9) it contravenes the Yukon umbrella final agreement with respect to consultation; and, last but not least, (10) it creates confusion and uncertainty.

Is it any wonder that it has been called the most regressive piece of parks legislation since the 1970s by experts in the Sierra Legal Defence Fund, Mr. Speaker. It's something that I'm sure would be held in high esteem by the likes of Mike Harris, Ralph Klein and Gordon Campbell. Well, it won't be long before we find out whether the names of the Liberals across the way can be added to that list.

Most important, the deficiencies in this proposed legislation have disturbed and disappointed many Yukoners who were hoping for better from a government that masterminded the public perception that it could be counted on to do the right thing.

As you have heard, Mr. Speaker, there are a considerable number of deficiencies in the proposed legislation. It would therefore seem reasonable to expect the movers of the bill to retract it until such time as things get ironed out and the act is strengthened and in the public interest. Do I see a signal to this effect from the minister? No, Mr. Speaker, so I will continue.

Let's talk a bit about following process. As mentioned, but worthy of repeating, is the fact that Yukon protected areas strategy was heralded for its balanced and fair process by people on all sides of the equation. It was seen as one of the most progressive pieces of policy ever created. The Liberals made great political hay out of accusing the previous government of not following the process set out in the Yukon protected areas strategy. The Liberals were also careful to endorse the Yukon protected areas strategy and said it was good process and should be followed.

Mr. Speaker, I have in my hand a Liberal news release from December 13, 1999, entitled "Broken Promises, Economic Uncertainty and Misplaced Priorities". One quote taken from the document from the now Premier says, "The government has shown an incredible lack of leadership by failing to follow the rules that have been set down. It proves the government just cannot be trusted."

Well, Mr. Speaker, the irony - the irony - of the present situation versus the recent past is something to behold. We know that YPAS was clear in spelling out the process for public consultation in the process for establishing goal 1 protected areas. The YPAS document, on page 5, says, "The Yukon government will work in partnership with other governments, boards and councils, non-government groups and the public to create core protected areas within each ecoregion.

Now, the way this act is written, there is no allowance for open and fair process in the process of establishing goal 1 areas and in the selection of boundaries or determining the purpose of any park. Those are entirely at the discretion of the minister. Is that a sign of an open and accountable government? I'm afraid not, Mr. Speaker.

Allow me to read from the proposed bill, in the section dealing with public participation: "The Commissioner in Executive Council shall ensure that there is opportunity for public involvement, in a manner and to the extent the Commissioner in Executive Council considers necessary, in the selection of the boundaries and the determination of the purpose of the proposed park."

So, whatever the minister considers - with emphasis added, Mr. Speaker - considers necessary is what Yukoners will get in the way of public process. Is that certainty? Certainly not, Mr. Speaker.

Why didn't the minister use the quote from page 5 in YPAS to set out the consultation process? It was safe ground; everybody agreed to it; and it provided certainty - that's what everybody wanted. Even the group of seven, eight or nine wanted that. Why now did the minister circumvent the open and fair process and replace it with the autocratic clause?

This is another signal this government governs from the back rooms and has no patience for anything else. My, how things have changed in a short 18 months, Mr. Speaker.

I want to refer now to a motion that was read on April 11, 2001, in this House, sponsored by the Member for Klondike regarding the YPAS. This is a quote from the Minister of Renewable Resources, who said, "As we know, from when an area of interest is determined to when it becomes a protected area - if it becomes a protected area, I would like to remind the Member for Klondike - it's an 18-month to two-year process to go from area of interest to protected area. There are 11 steps that have to be followed during that process. There are three opportunities for direct input by the public, by interest groups, by resource users and by the mining industry during that process."

Well, how soon we forget, Mr. Speaker. This was just a few short months ago and already we see a drastic change in what is required through this legislation. Basically, the minister and the Cabinet can decide the goal 1 areas, they can circumvent the public consultation, and that's a huge contradiction to what the minister said in this House back in April, and several other times as well, I might add.

This Liberal government, therefore, is now guilty of not following the very process on which it harvested political favour, and helped these same members get elected and form a majority government. Now look at what they're doing. Where is that recall legislation, Mr. Speaker?

The Liberals are dividing Yukoners. Instead of living up to their self-proclaimed status as the great conciliators and champion of achieving balance among competing interests, the Liberals have pitted Yukoners against each other. That's why that word "certainty" is so important.

If the government had established a certain process for the decision making with respect to YPAS, then everybody would know what to expect.

But what does everybody expect now, Mr. Speaker? The loudest voice will win. We've already witnessed how this government negotiated outside of the public process it deemed with such high regard until recently, vis-à-vis the downtown accord. We have already learned that the most effective lobby model with these Liberals is, "The squeaky wheel gets the grease." Now, a big concern with respect to the downtown accord is how its open-endedness has potential to trip up the schedule for establishing protected areas, unless groups representing economic interests are fully satisfied with the outcome.

Such language gives one side of the equation essentially a veto over the process, and this minister signed on to it.

Is that what this government said they would do, Mr. Speaker? Absolutely not.

Now, time is ticking away on me this afternoon and I did promise I would be as short as possible, but I do want to touch briefly on the list of 10 deficiencies. But first I want to comment again on the complete lack of consultation in drafting this legislation.

Now, I know the minister has said there were already years of process and that should be good enough. In fact, his words were, "YPAS has been consulted to death." You can check Hansard for November 15 for that one, Mr. Speaker.

I guess that's the minister's excuse for terminating the consultation, just as the process was starting to get to the good stuff: selection of the goal 1 areas. Mr. Speaker, many Yukoners, along with environmental organizations in the Yukon, including the Yukon chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and the Yukon Conservation Society, are very concerned about this legislation. They are raising a red flag, telling this government the spirit and intent of YPAS is not reflected in this act. But, in true Liberal fashion, the minister is not interested in Yukoners' concerns about new legislation or policy. Instead, he announced in the media that the legislation will be rammed through this session, as is, with or without the support of CPAWS. Those were his own words, Mr. Speaker. Instead, he prefers to endorse backroom deals made on the steps of the Downtown Hotel in Dawson City.

Now, given this government's disdain for proper public consultation on its proposed legislation and budgets, I guess we shouldn't be surprised at the minister's disregard for public concern about this act.

I want to turn to the first identified deficiency: how the act fails to enshrine YPAS into legislation and, instead, it enshrines mining in parks.

Reading through the review of the act prepared by the Sierra Legal Defence Fund - which, by the way is a Canadian organization, not American as some people are confused about - this review is quite interesting.

I know the minister has been provided this material and no doubt would admit that a number of concerns are identified that, at the very least, are quite thought-provoking and, at most, perhaps are the basis for legal action against this act.

I want to refer to that review and reference it under the section "Ecological Integrity versus Development": "As suggested above, the act creates a tension between ecological integrity and other competing park uses such as resource development. As more of the act is devoted to defining the parameters of development than to expressly prescribing protections for biodiversity, it is helpful in considering the legal protections afforded ecological integrity to examine" -

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

Point of order

Speaker:      The government House leader, on a point of order.

Mr. McLachlan:   Mr. Speaker, the rules of the debate in the Legislature clearly spell out that, when a member is quoting from a document, he provide sufficient copies for all members in the Legislature from which to review the legal opinion the member is quoting.

Speaker:      Official opposition House leader, on the point of order.

Mr. Fentie:   Past practices in this Legislative Assembly are that, during debate, members in this House can briefly quote from documents. It is not a standard practice that we table all those documents unless we are referring to the document that's being spoken to in its entirety.

Speaker's ruling

Speaker:      Order please. The Chair is not certain whether the document referred to by the Member for Kluane is a public or a private document. However, I don't believe it has been the practice of the House to provide every member with a copy of the document. If it's a private document, the practice has been that the document is tabled. The Chair will review the Blues or Hansard and determine if it is necessary to get back to the House. It was the Chair's impression that it was a public document.

However, the Chair would like to make it clear that it is not the practice to provide everyone with a copy. It's only if it were a private document that it would be tabled.

Mr. McRobb:   The second deficiency - the act allows mineral exploration and road development in all parks and fails to provide interim protection.

Mr. Speaker, I recall from a public meeting about a month ago at the Yukon College lecture hall, where Justice Thomas Berger was speaking to a crammed room, with probably 200 there. There is one principle he related that I think really stood out to everyone who heard it, and that was his "no development" principle. He said something to the effect that some areas should be protected forever from any development. Those words of wisdom were lauded by the audience, and I believe are supported by Yukoners and are entrenched in YPAS. The problem here is that YPAS is not entrenched in this legislation.

Now, this SLDF review reveals at length the deficiencies with respect to development activity. I want to give an excerpt from that review: "The implication is that pre-existing development may continue and the nature of the interest that would entitle issuance of a park permit for industrial development is undefined."

Well, Mr. Speaker, what did the minister say in that regard? Well, on March 6, in this House, the Minister of Renewable Resources said, "Parks will then be selected based on this strategy with the intent to represent and protect a representative sample of each of the Yukon's ecoregions. These ecoregion parks will be on the high end of the protective scale and will be free of industrial activity."

Obviously, Mr. Speaker, the government is again not doing what it said it would do.

I refer again to the SLDF review. It says, "With regard to the third type of development contemplated in the act, park-related development, both its definition and its permitting invite the minister's discretion. Further, unlike visitor-related development, park-related development may be undertaken prior to the coming into force of an approved management plan. Accordingly, infrastructure facilities or services for park purposes may be undertaken in any type of park at any time and without public input."

Mr. Speaker, let's compare that with what the minister again said in this House on June 29 last year, "... the issue of interim protection may be further explored. Our government recognizes the need to provide a level of certainty so that areas of interest will not be jeopardized by development, mining or otherwise, prior to the full status of protection being assigned."

Well, do you see the difference, Mr. Speaker? Of course. The government is clearly not doing what it said it would do.

The third deficiency: the act fails to uphold the Whitehorse mining initiative. In the Whitehorse mining initiative final report, dated November 1994, entitled Protected Areas, it says, "The Whitehorse mining initiative, signed by the former Yukon Party Minister of Economic Development, Mickey Fisher, the Government of Canada and the Mining Association of Canada, among many other senior governments, industry groups, labour unions and environmental organizations, says one of the accord's principles is, 'Protected area networks are essential contributors to environmental health, biological diversity and ecological processes, as well as being a fundamental part of the sustainable balance of society, economy and environment.'"

The initiative goes on to state goals related to this principle and they include: (1) to create and set aside from industrial development by the year 2000 those protected areas required to achieve representation of Canada's land-based natural regions - this goal has not yet been achieved, Mr. Speaker; (2) to use, after establishing where they do not already exist, clear scientifically based criteria for determining both the number of regions and the amount of a region that need to be protected in order to achieve representativeness - well, we have already seen what the Liberal government wants to do about that; (3) to ensure that the selection of protected areas is undertaken consistently across all jurisdictions, including an identification of candidate protected areas by government based upon scientific criteria, followed by consultation with the mining industry and all other stakeholders, and final selection taking into account appropriate economic, environmental and social information.

Does the legislation achieve those principles, Mr. Speaker? Absolutely not. Again, this government is not doing what it said it would do.

The fourth deficiency - and I'll be reviewing these in less detail, Mr. Speaker - is that the act fails to protect each of the agreed-to 23 ecoregions. Now, contrary to what the Liberals promised and what the YPAS is all about, this number has been reduced to 20, without public discussion. It was a decree from the minister. Again, this government is not doing what it said it would do.

The fifth deficiency is that the act fails to protect the biodiversity of a region and creates tension between ecological integrity and other competing uses.

The comments regarding the Yukon protected areas strategy, either in the preamble or the act, should be amended to address the contradiction - should be amended, Mr. Speaker. Well, the SLDF review, Mr. Speaker, speaks at length about this, and again the government is not doing what it said it would do.

The sixth deficiency is that the act ascribes powers to the minister and Cabinet that clearly contradict the Yukon protected areas strategy. This has already been dealt with. Essentially, there is no guarantee of public involvement in the decision-making process and the powers of decision making are provided exclusively to the government. Again, Mr. Speaker, this government is not doing what it said it would do.

The seventh deficiency is how the act fails to define criteria for designating parks or to define valid or subsisting interests. Once again, Mr. Speaker, public process is cut short and the new guidelines are vague, with the exception of ascribing powers to the government. Well, talk about self-serving. Again, the government is not doing what it said it would do.

The eighth deficiency is that the act fails to prohibit visitor-related development and ecological and wilderness preserves. Mr. Speaker, I refer again to the SLDF review: "To the extent that settlement agreements provide for First Nations rights, the act adequately addresses these with the exception of a potential infringement arising between the preamble and the UFA. As was considered in the context of YPAS, paragraph 3 of the preamble purports to limit park representation of core areas to one per each ecoregion. While not duplicated in the act, this provision gives rise to the concern that it may encourage an interpretation of the act which would have the effect of likewise limiting settlement agreement parks on a per-ecoregion basis.

Well, we know how the minister feels about that. He shut the door on amendments and refuses to do anything more to improve this act, never mind agree to the intent of the motion, which is to bring it back in the spring, after it has undergone public review and YPAS-entrenched and so on.

Now, the final deficiency, number 10 - the act creates confusion and uncertainty. Nobody knows what will happen with respect to process establishing protected areas. Everybody is confused. Only the minister and his colleagues know what will happen, because they have ensured themselves - they are given all of the decision-making authority in the absence of public review. But Yukoners need certainty, Mr. Speaker. That's a big reason why the YPAS set out the process in detail, and that is why YPAS must be enshrined in the legislation, which it is not. Again, the government is not doing what it said it would do.

Now, aside from those 10 deficiencies, Mr. Speaker, along with a lack of consultation in developing the legislation, there are others, such as there being no mention of some campgrounds in the act. I noticed two from my riding were missing - the ones at Million Dollar Falls and Aishihik Lake are missing from the act, and I wonder why. Is this part of an agenda by this government to maybe privatize these campgrounds? What's going on, Mr. Speaker? I asked the minister yesterday about this, and clearly did not receive an answer.

Now, there are others, but I was limited in the time available in which to review this act.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, this legislation is regressive. There has been no consultation. The Liberals have politicized the Yukon protected areas strategy. They have destroyed it in the backroom upstairs. There's no commitment to biodiversity, and the act fails to provide certainty.

Mr. Speaker, as indicated in the motion, stand-alone legislation is needed. The proposed legislation mixes up something as important as YPAS with the maintenance of campgrounds. That's shameful. This process deserves distinction and respect and stand-alone legislation. As mentioned, public review is needed to correct the deficiencies in this legislation. YPAS needs to be enshrined into it. The minister needs to take this legislation back to the drawing board, run it through the mill, straighten it out and bring it back in the spring. We on this side would surely feel differently then.

Mr. Speaker, instead of respectfully debating the problems with this act, or explaining his rationale for doing what he has chosen to do, it's very unfortunate the minister has spent his time firing off media releases, spreading falsehoods and speculation about NDP caucus discussions.

Point of order

Speaker:      Order, please. The hon. Minister of Renewable Resources, on a point of order.

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:   Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. The Member for Klondike has just suggested that I was spreading falsehoods.

Mr. Fentie:   It is customary, when giving direction to the Chair, to make reference to the Standing Order that has been contravened. This is simply a dispute between members and certainly is not a point of order.

Unparliamentary language

Speaker:      Order please. This is not Committee of the Whole, and clearly the Member for Klondike accused - pardon me, again - the Member for Kluane, I meant Kluane, indicated that falsehoods were being spread and that is unparliamentary. I would request that the Member for Kluane withdraw those remarks and then conclude.

Mr. McRobb:   Then conclude?

Speaker:      It was my impression that you were concluding. I am not ordering you to conclude. Sorry; it is the wrong word - just continue.

Withdrawal of remark

Mr. McRobb:   I'll withdraw my words, Mr. Speaker.

Let's just say these media releases, at the hands of the Liberals, speculate about NDP caucus discussions. I would submit that that is entirely inappropriate. I question the minister on applying his resources as minister of this department into taking pot shots at the public and the opposition whose task it is to ask questions that need to be answered by this government. That is our job, to hold them accountable and to represent the public. That is what we are doing.

Now, in closing, I do want to reference a few other pieces of information that were all part of this discussion.

There have been news releases from organizations, including CPAWS. There have been news releases from the Proper Land Use Society. There are Polara poll results, which are very interesting, indicating that 57 percent of Yukoners support protected areas. There is documentation that we all have entitled The Economic Benefits of Protected Areas. I think we can all graduate to the level where we can understand that protected areas can not only protect the environment and our heritage and our wildlife but also provide opportunities for us economically. Yet, all too frequently, that thought is lost in here, Mr. Speaker, when the rhetoric gets going.

The Liberals' election campaign made lots of promises. I've alluded to many of them this afternoon. There were others out there. Well, I'm sure this issue isn't finished yet. There will be plenty of other times for discussion on this. There are recent grades that the government has received on areas of the environment - failing grades for species at risk. The World Wildlife Fund - I'm sure if the program hadn't been cancelled, this government would have received an F for failing to protect areas in the Yukon in the past year.

Mr. Speaker, there are other serious issues out there. We hear about peregrine falcons on the brink of extinction again. Certainly there are problems to indicate that could be what's happening. We need to focus our attention in here on achieving what Yukoners want us to achieve and doing what's best for the Yukon.

Some of the tactics I see, like these press releases that seem to come out on a daily basis from the Liberal caucus, are diverting from what we should be doing. I'm not merely pointing the finger at them. I think everyone collectively needs to pull up their socks in that regard.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, this issue of YPAS and the Parks Act is one that will set a legacy for the territory. It is something a lot of people have waited a long time for. There is no rush. It could come back in the spring. We can afford a few months to allow it to be improved through some proper consultation. And, as the motion suggests, that's what we in the official opposition do support.

I would encourage the members opposite to try their best to meet us on the objective of the motion, so we can move ahead.

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:   The first opening remarks presented by the Member for Kluane I don't disagree with. The Member for Kluane knows very well how I feel about wilderness, about Yukon, about protecting areas. The member was correct in acknowledging my participation in the first public advisory group that worked to create the Yukon protected areas strategy.

It was a long and hard process, because there were many people around the table - many people who spent hundreds of hours contributing just to the document that the member has indicated has been recognized nationally as one of the best protected areas strategies in the country. And I thank him for acknowledging the hard work that that group did. It was a long process - it was about two years, approximately, that the group worked.

The hard commitments, the compromises, the agreements that were reached during those meetings, with all people involved, give and take, were very hard and strenuous, and they are all to be commended for the final product that they put together, along with working papers and along with a very clear, precise document of implementation, Mr. Speaker.

The member is right - in December it was officially handed over to the now leader of the official opposition, who was the Minister of Renewable Resources at that time. All that work - hours and hours of dedicated consultation; involvement of a good number of people.

The Member for Kluane then has a lapse of memory between when the document was handed to government until the election, so I would just like to fill the gap with a little bit more information. Now, I know they don't like to hear this, Mr. Speaker, but the fact is - the simple fact without going into all the details - was that the first time the Yukon protected areas strategy was implemented - and again I have to say that, when that implementation document was handed over to the government, it was emphatic and insistent by the public advisory group that the process be followed - simple, simple instruction. Here it is, follow it. If that had been done, we wouldn't be having this debate. We wouldn't be working to entrench something in a parks act. We wouldn't be there, because all partners that were involved in creating that document would have applauded the previous government for respecting the long, hard work that went into it.

But the process wasn't followed, Mr. Speaker. On November 22, 1999, during Question Period, the former Minister of Economic Development in the previous government, a colleague of the Member for Kluane, when he was asked and was talking about the protected areas strategy, admitted about implementing the process that mistakes were made.

So they knew back then, Mr. Speaker, that something had gone awry with the Yukon protected areas strategy. I do have a question for the Member for Kluane, as well. I would like to know when the previous government was notified by the Chamber of Mines - after they dropped the ball and put in the process, after they didn't follow, didn't respect the work that people had done - when were they notified that the Chamber of Mines was the first group to walk away, throwing up their hands because they were the group that was ignored during the first implementation of Yukon protected areas strategy - the first one - along with the instruction to please follow the process? Because this group - I was there. It was very tenuous at best that they hung together, but there was a modicum of trust. The trust has been shattered. We're in this House today as a consequence of that shattered trust.

It has been suggested that we don't consult, Mr. Speaker, that we make backroom deals. We are consulting and listening to Yukoners all the time, and that's why an opportunity that very recently occurred in Dawson, where we, the Minister of Economic Development and I, can sit down with a group of individuals who haven't been involved in resurrecting, repairing the Yukon protected areas strategy and its process, who are now willing to allow the Minister of Economic Development and me to sit down and bring them up to speed of where we've gone, to summarize for them directly what happened earlier this year when we invited the public advisory group to get together to look at what happened to the process of Yukon protected areas strategy.

The member is absolutely right when he says that this protected areas strategy is one of the best in the country - and it is. There is no doubt about it - no doubt about it.

The process is broken. That's what happened. The official opposition is reminding me that the process is broken. That's true, because they dropped the ball. So that's why we are where we are today.

We have been listening over the last 18 months, Mr. Speaker. We said that we would put YPAS in an act. But we also told the public advisory committee that we would take their counsel seriously, and they did work hard. A group of individuals, minus the group of seven at that time, still went ahead because they believed, just as the Member for Kluane does and as I do, that we have to have protected areas in the territory in response to the commitment that Yukon made on the national issue of ecosystem representation. And we have not deviated from that commitment once.

So where are we now then? We are debating the YPAS issue, and I could go on for hours, just like the member thankfully limited himself to doing, because we would like to get on with getting the job done that we were elected to do. So I too will keep my points brief.

He introduced the discussion on the act, Mr. Speaker, but this act is one of the most balanced parks acts that I think ever can be created, and it was home grown, right here in the territory. We created the act right here. It's our act. With all due respect to the Sierra Legal Defence Fund, I think we can look after ourselves. We're well on the way with devolution. We can look after ourselves and manage quite adequately looking after our natural resources, looking after our oil and gas, establishing a pipeline.

We can do it, Mr. Speaker, because we're grown up, we're responsible and, as often reminded by the opposition, accountable. We have nothing to hide.

So, Mr. Speaker, this act is incredibly balanced with respect to the environmental and economic interests allowing for establishment of protection of parks, while respecting - oh, my God, Mr. Speaker - while respecting legal, third party interests.

I think they have done a commendable job in drafting this bill. It is now time to move forward and put this legislation in place.

The Member for Kluane just asked me if I wrote it. No, I didn't, Mr. Speaker. I didn't. We have competent drafters of legislation within government and I respect the hard work that they do. Obviously the Member for Kluane doesn't.

We are moving forward, Mr. Speaker, and there have been extensive government-to-government and public consultations on the Yukon protected areas strategy for nigh on five years.

It didn't have to be, but we are still here. And that was when the Fishing Branch happened. And I am proud, just like the member, the leader of the official opposition, that we do have a protected area there. That was a direct result of the Vuntut Gwitchin, not because of the government of the day. But the NDP didn't follow the process. I have mentioned that and I'll mention it again and again and again. It fell, they missed steps, they ignored the full consultative aspects required, and there was a group of individuals who walked away. And I don't blame them. They were ignored. But yes, if we can encourage people to come back to the table on the steps of the Downtown Hotel - and I don't know how that is a backroom deal when it is out in the open for everybody to see. But if we can encourage people to come back to the table and find out, listen, speak to us and let them know where we are and what they would like to see us do better, that is consultation, and we are going to do it because we are very good at it.

And why did the process fall apart? They wanted oil and gas development so they literally cherry-picked the process to ensure that their agenda was met. They have admitted that in this House many times. That was why, during the election, just before the election, the former leader of the NDP had indicated that they were going to look at it and fix it. Why would he acknowledge that if it were okay, if it wasn't broken, as the now leader of the official opposition is chirping across the way.

And I quote from the former Economic Development minister with respect to the oil and gas initiative, "We did it, as well, to try to ensure that we could open up oil and gas industry in this territory, which we've done,..." But at what cost? They openly admitted they made a mistake, and the Member for Kluane, in newspaper releases earlier last year, as a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, also admitted that they had some work to do.

Well, it has taken 18 months of consultation, hard work, dedication of officials, of my colleagues, in re-establishing a confidence in that sector that walked away.

That's how serious the damage was by the previous government, because they didn't respect process - didn't respect the hard work that people slaved over, literally, to put together a protected areas strategy. The Member for Mayo-Tatchun is laughing about that. Well, I was there and I can tell him straight to his face that there was a lot of work done on that.

Since our government was elected, Mr. Speaker, it reconvened the public advisory group to review what had happened and, hopefully, correct the implementation of YPAS. It has consulted with people on their concerns about process for establishing parks.

At one of these consultations, changes were made to YPAS and were announced publicly in July 2001. While the aim of selecting a goal1 protected area remains, the process to see the task completed has changed with public input.

And that aspect is now reflected in the act, despite the secured legal opinion that the Member for Kluane got, which I'll respond to in a minute, by the way.

When drafting the act, Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Yukon was well aware of other issues that were raised by various groups, and the resulting act attempts to balance - key aspect - balance various interests. To that end, the act does not prescribe how to establish and manage all parks. It provides Cabinet with the flexibility to address parks or park areas on a case-by-case basis. It's not carte blanche for setting up our park system, Mr. Chair.

Another mindful thing that bears mentioning, Mr. Speaker, is that YTG fully respects - fully respects the consultation requirements identified in the First Nation final agreements and self-government agreements. In this respect the draft act, from our analysis, does not affect the rights of Yukon First Nations and does not have an impact on First Nations' legislative initiatives on their land. All First Nations were asked to comment on a government-to-government basis on the options for improving the implementation of YPAS, as well.

RRCs and the Fish and Wildlife Management Board participated in the Yukon protected areas strategy implementation review through the public advisory group directly earlier this year. The Fish and Wildlife Management Board and the RRCs were consulted on the current Wildlife Act, and these amendments, as well as the old act, will apply to the park system as well. There's integration, Mr. Speaker, another forward-looking aspect of how this government is creating law.

One of the key recommendations made by the public advisory committee was to enshrine the goals and principles of YPAS. To enshrine the goals and principles - this is diametrically opposed to what the Member for Kluane was saying. The Member for Kluane didn't even participate in the latest round of consultations. He was probably too ashamed to put his head in the door, Mr. Speaker.

We were specifically asked by the public advisory committee not to legislate the YPAS process, and there is rationale for that, Mr. Speaker. The public advisory committee left government with the choice of how to enshrine the goals and principles of YPAS. An important point made by the public advisory committee was that the process for YPAS has not been tested fully, and it would be unwise to enshrine a process in the act that may be subject to further change, but we know what the difficulties are of opening up an act just to make a simple change. Governments are very reluctant to do that. The act provides government with the flexibility to develop recommendations in the future, outlining in more detail how the identification and selection of future parks does occur, and that will require a 60-day public review - something the member opposite must have overlooked when he was reviewing the act.

The government chose to put the YPAS goals and principles in the preamble. It is a written expression of the government's intention for the YPAS process.

It will be used to interpret the legislation and it will be very difficult to do anything opposite to the preamble. This is consistent with the suggestion made during the April public advisory committee meetings to consider using the preamble for YPAS.

So, Mr. Speaker, we are listening and responding. We are very good at doing that - listening and acting on behalf of Yukoners. Public participation requirements in the act and in other legislation - government is required to consult on the establishment of parks and on the management plan for parks. Parks will differ in size and purpose, so the extent of public participation can be better determined on a case-by-case basis - rational and understandable - or it can be done through regulations directly. Regulations developed under this act have to go through the 60-day public review - more consultation, Mr. Speaker, and it is also a requirement under the Environment Act.

Mr. Speaker, the Member for Kluane went on and on at length with respect to responding and showing how the Sierra Legal Defence Fund feels about our act. Again, I am going to try to keep my comments brief, but it is worth mentioning some of the points brought up by the member, literally reading into Hansard the full context of the review by the Sierra Legal Defence Fund.

The fact of the matter is that, when the Sierra Legal Defence Fund was asked the question, it was posed a fairly specific and restrictive question by CPAWS. The wonderful thing about our Parks Act is that it addresses all kinds of parks in the territory.

One that has been mentioned recently in the House is our recreational parks. We have 41 of them. They are called campgrounds. The unfortunate part about the Sierra Legal Defence Fund's opinion is that it focused principally on the goal 1 aspect of the protected area strategy and how this act reflects it, totally ignoring the other types of parks that are available here in the territory. And again, the unfortunate part is that the Sierra Legal Defence Fund doesn't live here. How could they possibly know how we function? There are 30,000 people in the territory. How could they? They can't.

If we were to follow all the recommendations of that review, the Parks and Land Certainty Act would indeed be a huge volume. The restrictive nature of their so-called review wouldn't allow anybody to do anything in the territory. And I am sure that the Member for Klondike would have a concern about that.

So, Mr. Speaker, I could go through, point by point as the member did, and dispute all the points that are contained within the review by the Sierra Legal Defence Fund. Suffice it to say that I will mention a couple of things right from the review for the member opposite's benefit.

One of the criticisms our act got, and this is a direct quote: "The act as a whole encourages a balancing between use of parks and the desire to preserve natural environment." For shame, for shame. We're finding balance. We're respecting that not only in Yukon is there plenty of room for protected areas, there is also room for economic development. No, he didn't find that line in the review, did he? Again, it's selective memory, selective reading, selective fact finding, selective everything from the members opposite, Mr. Speaker.

On the last page, in the conclusion, "The act encourages a balancing between public use of parks and the desire to preserve natural environment." Not only once did they mention that, but twice. For shame, for shame. And that's exactly what the public advisory committee did when they drafted YPAS. They respected balance. They respected the folks who live in the territory.

Again, Mr. Speaker, I don't really think that we need to be told how to manage our natural resources. We're quite competent in doing that ourselves, so that's why I have a lot of respect for the drafters of the act. It's a good act, and if the Member for Kluane would just spend a little more time reading it, looking at the good things in there, and recognize that there is something for everybody in this act.

It really is unfortunate, Mr. Speaker, that they don't, considering, as I mentioned, at the very get-go of this debate on my side, that we wouldn't be here doing this if only the process had been followed. Simple. But it wasn't. We know how the members feel now. They voted against the parks. We noticed that within the structure of the NDP here there are people who want to cut trees down everywhere, and then we have another member who wants to park everything. Well, Mr. Speaker, on this side of the House, we have found balance, and we are listening to all Yukoners, as this act affects all Yukoners. And we'll continue listening to people, Mr. Speaker, because we're good at it.

Amendment proposed

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:   Mr. Speaker, with the permission of the House, I would like to propose an amendment to the motion. Now, the Member for Kluane suggested that we don't get into this activity. I'm glad he reminded me. I might have forgotten, but I have an amendment to the motion, and it reads as follows:

THAT Motion No.168 be amended by deleting everything after the word "law" in paragraph 4 and substituting the following words:

(5) the completion of the Yukon protected areas strategy will protect the biological diversity and ecological integrity of the Yukon, as well as provide new long-term economic opportunities for Yukoners;

(6) the resource extraction industries such as mineral, forestry, and oil and gas are all equally critical to Yukon's economic future;

(7) the government has removed three of the Yukon's remaining 16 unprotected ecoregions from the YPAS that lie almost entirely outside the Yukon's borders, leaving a total of 13 unprotected ecoregions;

(8) the Yukon Liberal government has provided leadership and certainty to Yukoners by implementing changes to the YPAS process to ensure that areas of interest to be considered for goal 1 protection under the YPAS are identified and made public by April 30, 2003;

(9) the government has heeded the recommendations of the public advisory committee and those of industry by ensuring that resource assessments will be an integral part of identifying an area for protection under YPAS;

(10) the government has committed that where a special management area meets the criteria for goal 1 protected area, that there will not be an additional goal 1 protected area created under YPAS; and

THAT this House agrees that it is completely unnecessary to delay consideration of the Parks and Land Certainty Act as the Yukon Liberal government has lived up to its commitment of balancing environmental and economic interests by enshrining the goals and principles of the Yukon protected areas strategy in the preamble of the Parks and Land Certainty Act.

Speaker:      Order please.

It has been moved by the hon. Minister of Renewable Resources

THAT Motion No. 168 be amended by deleting everything after the word "law" in paragraph 4 and substituting the following words:

(5) the completion of the Yukon protected areas strategy will protect the biological diversity and ecological integrity of the Yukon, as well as provide new long-term economic opportunities for Yukoners;

(6) the resource extraction industries such as mineral, forestry, and oil and gas are all equally critical to Yukon's economic future;

(7) the government has removed three of the Yukon's remaining 16 unprotected ecoregions from the YPAS that lie almost entirely outside the Yukon's borders, leaving a total of 13 unprotected ecoregions;

(8) the Yukon Liberal government has provided leadership and certainty to Yukoners by implementing changes to the YPAS process to ensure that areas of interest to be considered for goal 1 protection under the YPAS are identified and made public by April 30, 2003;

(9) the government has heeded the recommendations of the public advisory committee and those of industry by ensuring that resource assessments will be an integral part of identifying an area for protection under YPAS;

(10) the government has committed that where a special management area meets the criteria for goal 1 protected area, that there will not be an additional goal 1 protected area created under YPAS; and

THAT this House agrees that it is completely unnecessary to delay consideration of the Parks and Land Certainty Act as the Yukon Liberal government has lived up to its commitment of balancing environmental and economic interests by enshrining the goals and principles of the Yukon protected areas strategy in the preamble of the Parks and Land Certainty Act.

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:   Again I won't be taking much time on this because I believe that the amendment speaks well for itself. There is a wide range of parks that can be established under this act, as I mentioned earlier. Each park will have different issues, and the beauty of this act is that it allows a recognition that each park will be treated slightly differently on a case-by-case basis.

A goal 1 park created through the YPAS process will be quite different from a campground established under this act, with very different purposes. Through much discussion and hard work by both parties, the government now has a coalition group participating in the YPAS as well.

There is a suggestion in the Sierra Legal Defence Fund submission and review that maybe we should go to two acts. Yes, that is a very wise suggestion, I am sure, to increase the workload by creating another act to impose upon Yukoners when, quite simply, this act alone could more than accommodate the types of parks in the territory.

So why, quite frankly, Mr. Speaker? And again, this is a total lack of understanding by the folks who drafted the review of the Yukon condition, the Yukon circumstance. We don't need two pieces of legislation. All goal 1 protected areas will be parks and can be established and administered under a single piece of competent legislation.

The public advisory committee recommended enshrining the goals and principles of YPAS and not the entire process, as I mentioned earlier. A separate act was not necessary in order to implement this recommendation either, Mr. Speaker.

Two pieces of legislation to administer parks in the Yukon would undoubtedly be an incredible, expensive and very complicated way to manage land-base resources. It means more departmental resources to administer them and, as the Member for Klondike would most emphatically stand up and say, we are a growing government.

The old Parks Act needed to be amended. It's a very old act and it had to be brought up to current-day vernacular and specifically to address issues relative to the umbrella final agreement and to address park management specifically - not just campgrounds, Mr. Speaker, but goal 1 protected area parks. It also would allow park enforcement and recognize parks created through the land claims process. A separate act legislating the details of YPAS is not a standard model for modern legislation, which is to provide a general enabling framework and to use regulations and policies to implement it.

The act should not be read in isolation of YPAS - most definitely not - or any new general regulation required to assist the implementation of the act.

There are some concerns, Mr. Speaker, that have been expressed that the minister will now have too much power. Quite frankly, under the current act, the minister has less power to establish parks than he does now under the old act. This is consistent with the direction provided by Yukon protected areas strategy in which Cabinet is given more authority over establishing parks - the whole of Cabinet, not just one minister.

The minister does have the authority to issue park permits in a park administrative aspect, and this is normal. It is important to remember that the minister is constrained further under this legislation by the act itself, including the purpose of the park set out in the schedule to the act. He is also constrained by any additional new regulations that will have undergone a 60-day public consultation period.

The management plan, which will be again approved by Cabinet, not the minister, and developed by the public planning team, will have public participation in accordance with Yukon protected areas strategy. There will be a tremendous amount of consultation occurring during the creation of parks, Mr. Speaker.

It has been stated that the new act entrenches resource development in parks.

Quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, it does not do this - not in any way, shape or form. Instead, it recognizes any legal interest in the land in the park and requires Cabinet to provide for these interests prior to the establishment of the park.

This, again, is fair and consistent with YPAS. YPAS says that the government must respect third party interests. Right in the Yukon protected areas strategy, Mr. Speaker, it does state that.

The fact of the matter, as well, Mr. Speaker, is that government will try to avoid such third party interests. I think we are going to be looking at this from a very practical and responsible way of implementing protected areas.

If, in some rare instances, it is not possible and government does move ahead to designate the area as a goal 1 area, we will then respect those legal interests. We are obligated under law, under other acts, to recognize them. We can't just, as I'm sure the Member for Kluane would suggest, look at a map of Yukon and erase that interest and say, "Oops, it's gone; we don't have to deal with it." Well, Mr. Speaker, we can't do that. We are responsible and we are accountable to Yukoners - all Yukoners.

At this point, the government would have two choices: we could either negotiate fair compensation with the third party interest or we could grandfather them and allow them to operate.

Quite frankly, those are the choices we have. If the latter option is either chosen or forced upon us, then the government, again, has two choices: to either designate the goal 1 area and allow the exercise of legal rights, or to find an interim designation other than goal 1, until such time as the legal interest runs out.

So, Mr. Speaker, there are options available. The Premier, the Minister of Economic Development and I all agree that we would prefer not to see mining in parks. We have said that from day one, and we have an opportunity to move ahead with 13 areas of interest and, under this new amendment, to have that done by April 30, 2003. It's a horrendous task, but we are committed. We are committed to Yukoners, to all those people in the past who contributed to the YPAS process, who have dedicated themselves, who were committed, and that includes all Yukoners at the outset.

It is my hope now that we can proceed forward with YPAS with everyone else back at the table. That is the best way to get things done, and we are moving ardently in that direction.

I thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the House.

Mr. Jenkins:   On the amendment, when I was going to stand up, I was going to be in favour of the motion, as proposed. Now, with these changes that are being proposed and which I am speaking to, I don't think this motion has much chance of success if amended.

Mr. Speaker, we must recognize that we want to accomplish two things under this legislation. We want to protect ecoregions, number one, and we want to restore investor confidence. We want to restore certainty.

And the minister is partway along the process, because the two biggest factors that are missing are: (1) following due process, which has gone off the rails in many cases; and the second factor that has to be addressed is that government has to put a cap on the total amount of land that we wish to see going into parks in one form or other. Now, if those two conditions were met, we could do something.

The minister went on at great length that his government doesn't want to see mining claims inside parks. Well, there's a simple solution to that, Mr. Speaker. Don't create parks where mining claims exist. It's a very simple solution.

Mr. Speaker, the minister went on to say that this is a home-grown act. Well, that's pretty interesting. I don't know what kind of grow light it was developed under, but it certainly wasn't an act that was widely circulated. In fact, it appears to be an act that hasn't been well-thought-out or well-researched, or well-drafted for that matter, given the number of amendments we are seeing coming our way at this early stage.

The protected areas strategy, as it was drafted, is quite all right.

Under the NDP, the problem was how they implemented it. If the protected areas strategy was enshrined in law, the government itself would be forced to follow the strategy or face the sanctions of the courts. So, I really don't have any quarrel with enshrining the protected areas in law. It would provide some certainty.

Following or flowing from enshrining that in law, I would also suggest that the government impose a cap on the amount of land that we are going to withdraw from these purposes, because we have to do something to restore investor confidence in Yukon. All that this Liberal government has done since it has come to power is destroy that investor confidence, and destroy it at an alarming rate. And one only has to witness the recent time lines, or the recent trip around the Yukon that the minister and Economic Development people took with Devon, the purchasers of Anderson Exploration. And the whole purpose of their visit was to tell Yukoners, basically, that they are shutting down oil and gas exploration here in the Yukon and, if you really wanted a job, a real job, you have to move to the Northwest Territories. Further to that, they went on to say that the Mackenzie Valley pipeline is probably going to be a go and that is where we are at.

Now, you only have to pick up some of the newspapers - News of the North, Opportunities 2001. It's amazing, Mr. Speaker. The Northwest Territories are going to enjoy $1.4 billion of capital expenditure alone this next period of time - $1.4 billion. Let those numbers sink in, and contrast that to the Yukon and what's going on here. We're not even on the radar screen. We're not even in the air, to be on the radar screen, because the resource sector has abandoned the Yukon. Why? It's in large part flowing from the consequences of initiatives like the protected areas strategy that are sound in what they hope to accomplish, but flawed in that the process is not being followed, nor is there a cap on the amount of land that is going to be put into this area.

Mr. Speaker, we could go on and on and on. The minister says, "We don't want mining in parks." Yes, okay, and they're going to respect legal, third party interests. What the minister is doing, in effect, is questioning the legality of mining claims - very interesting. When we see the parks that have currently been created and what they have done, just defining their boundaries, in many cases they have cut off access to existing mining claims and known mineral deposits. Yet, mineral assessment is supposed to be part of the process.

But, under this government, as it was under the previous government, mineral assessment appears to be just part of the window dressing part of the review. It is not given much credence or much opportunity or much time to be completed or undertaken or, for that matter, much in the way of resources put to this end. It's a sad day for the Yukon, Mr. Speaker; it's a sad day, indeed.

What the Yukon Party proposed was a protected areas strategy based on the concept of multiple use, whereby only sensitive core areas would be excluded from all development and not massive land withdrawals, such as has been done in the Fishing Branch and the Tombstone withdrawals.

Core areas would be withdrawn for immediate protection, while multiple-use activities would be permitted in less sensitive areas. Consequently, it will be necessary to ensure that the law has no-development zones and that they are kept to a minimum size, protecting these very sensitive core areas.

Now, if we were to go forward on that kind of a concept, we could accomplish something for these ecoregions, and we could accomplish something very quickly. And, above all, what we would accomplish is that the protected areas strategy legislation would make it clear to resource investors, to environmentalists and other Yukoners exactly what the process is, how it is to be implemented, ensure proper public consultation and stakeholder representation on the local planning teams.

At the end of the day, it would also make it clear what core areas are to be excluded from development.

All Yukoners have a right to know how much land and what areas will be excluded from development activity. A cap must be placed on the total amount of land that will be identified and withdrawn under these processes.

I am of the firm belief that spelling out the strategy very, very clearly in law would be a win-win situation for all stakeholders. We have to proceed in a direction that is going to restore investor confidence. Otherwise, the depopulation of the Yukon is going to continue. There is no incentive for the youth coming up through our education system here - other than going into government - because, if you look at the income that you can derive from a resource extraction position, versus what you can derive from a keeper of the gates in one of our many parks, there is no comparison whatsoever - no comparison whatsoever, Mr. Speaker.

The high standard of living that Yukoners have come to enjoy came into place, in large part, as a consequence of the resource extraction industries. And government, in order to compete, had to raise the level of wages to attract. Now the only game in town is government.

Even our visitor industry is floundering and failing. What we have now - and I've said it earlier - is the Yukon's Wal-Mart economy where more and more we just purchase goods that are produced elsewhere. It used to be that the amount of goods produced in the Yukon was very, very significant. Our base metal industry and our precious metal industry were significant contributors to the economy here. That is no longer the case. And now, with the demise of the oil and gas industry, what do we have? We don't have very much left to hang our hat on, to earn a living or to create some certainty to attract investors back to the Yukon, save and except, perhap, the Member for Kluane, who seems to be very much a representative of the Sierra Legal Defence Fund or CPAWS - very much a spokesperson for these two groups -

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

Point of order

Speaker:    The hon. Member for Kluane, on a point of order.

Mr. McRobb:   I think the Member for Klondike is using language that is likely to incite disorder, possibly a riot. We all know that I am not a representative of either of those groups. I merely was reading from some of the material in hand in relation to this discussion. 

Speaker's ruling

Speaker:      Order please. It's the Chair's view that it isn't in order to suggest that a member is representing somebody or someone other than his constituents. Therefore, I find that there was a point of order. However, I'll ask the Member for Klondike to continue, please.

Mr. Jenkins:   I thank the Speaker for his ruling.

Mr. Speaker, it's kind of interesting that the business coalition group met with Government of Yukon representatives and put together a deal and made an announcement and yet no one has seen anything come out of that announcement with respect to changes in this legislation - not one change, other than a whole series of amendments that appear to be just flawed drafting in the legislation itself.

Mr. Speaker, I'm disappointed that the minister has not given more consideration to the input from the business coalition group. It certainly is a broad, sectional representation of Yukon. They certainly have a point, a whole series of points, but there has to be balanced representation between the resource sector.

Mr. Speaker, it might be prudent if you asked the Member for Whitehorse Centre to conduct his business in the members' lounge.

Speaker's statement

Speaker:      Order please. According to Standing Order 6(6), when a member is speaking, no member shall interrupt, except to raise a point of order, or interrupt on a question of privilege. The member is finding other members' talk to be interrupting, and he asked that people refrain from interrupting him.

Please continue, Member for Klondike.

Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Speaker, the amendment to Motion No. 168 basically guts the intent and direction that the original motion was going to take. And the final paragraph itself - "THAT this House agrees that it is completely unnecessary to delay consideration of the Parks and Land Certainty Act as the Yukon Liberal government has lived up to its commitment of balancing environmental and economic interests..." - is the question. I have had very little agreement that that area has been given serious consideration. In fact, there were very few people who knew anything about the content of this Parks and Land Certainty Act - very few individuals, other than some in government. It was done in isolation; it was done in a backroom with no one from the business coalition and no one from the private sector providing input into the process.

What I'm stating for the record is that environmental concerns and economic concerns were not given the equal weight in this process. I suggest that, as a consequence of those two areas, environmental concerns and economic concerns, having an equal weight and balance...

Speaker:      Order please. The member has two minutes to conclude.

Mr. Jenkins:   ... this whole act is seriously flawed.

And the Liberals have gone on at great length to say that all of these old acts need to be reviewed and that the Parks Act needed to be reviewed. Well, whether it did or not, there wasn't a great big hue and cry about reviewing the Parks Act. It was serving the purpose for which it was originally intended and doing the job well.

What is at the crux of this problem that we have before us in the form of this motion is that this government isn't listening to a good portion of our population with respect to the Yukon protected areas strategy. That speaks very, very loudly and I cannot support this motion as amended, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Fairclough:   I would like to speak to the amendment as moved by the Minister of Renewable Resources.

I cannot support this amendment as it reads. I believe that the Liberal government does have an obligation to Yukoners about fulfilling the promises made during the election.

Obviously, in people's minds, this is not taking place.

Mr. Speaker, we had a motion on the floor that speaks to the Liberal commitment, and that commitment was to consult with the people of the Yukon. I believe that introducing the Parks and Land Certainty Act to - in the words of the Liberals - "protect YPAS in legislation" just doesn't do it.

For one, Mr. Speaker, it's an insult to all of the hard-working people who developed the protected areas strategy. It's an insult because so many people have worked hard and put a lot of thought, energy and compromise into the strategy over a year and a half - close to a year and a half. Since the election, this Liberal government has been in power for a year and a half. They said the strategy was broken and that they were going to fix the strategy.

Mr. Speaker, a lot of consultation went into developing the protected areas strategy - this nice document. And then this Liberal government feels that an act, coming forward with no consultation, complements the strategy that had extensive consultation. Now, I feel that's an insult to the people who developed the strategy, and I think most people out there feel the same way.

You don't bring forward an act that doesn't enshrine the strategy that they put together without talking to members of the public, and that is why people are up in arms about how this government is going about protected areas in the Yukon Territory.

And the Minister of Renewable Resources said a lot of interesting things in this House. For one, they were saying that if things weren't followed in the process - they felt they weren't followed in the process - that is why we are here, to enshrine YPAS in legislation. Well, the member opposite knows that that is not the case. As a matter of fact, I don't believe that anyone on that side of the House has read the strategy. If they had, they would have known that there are reviews that take place annually on the strategy - updates, improvements and so on. And, if they had read the strategy, they would have known that.

Now, if this Minister of Renewable Resources had read the strategy, he would have known what goal 1 meant, for example, in the strategy. And in my view, he does not know what goal 1 really means in the strategy. He doesn't know what a core area protection for an ecoregion really means. As a matter of fact, the minister said that the remaining 13 ecoregions - he has reduced it down from what the strategy originally said. It's right on page 1 - 23 different ecoregions. They reduced it. He said that the remaining 13 will have a goal 1 area and it will be a park.

That's what I keep hearing from the members opposite - it will be a park. It just goes to show that that minister does not know what a protected area is, and it's not a park. It doesn't have to be a park. It can be a protected area, just like Fishing Branch is a protected area. It's not a park; it's a protected area. The members opposite should really know the difference between the two, not bring forward and talk about a strategy that they said they'd fixed. Does the member opposite know what was fixed in this strategy? Does the MLA for Faro know what was fixed in this strategy? Does the Member for McIntyre-Takhini know? Does anyone else on that side of the House know? The Member for Whitehorse Centre knows? I don't think so, Mr. Speaker, because they haven't read the strategy itself. They don't even know what it means.

Mr. Speaker, I'd like to read something out of the strategy that I'm hoping the members opposite will take seriously. Page 1, because it's quite obvious from the members opposite that they don't understand it, so I'll read it. It's called the "Vision Statement" - the vision statement of the protected areas strategy, and it says that, "Our shared relationship with the northern land, water, air and life forms defines our character, sustains our spirits and unites us as people of the Yukon. We have a duty to protect the ecosystems and natural processes that support this relationship. We will meet this responsibility for the benefit of ourselves and our children, and also for the benefit of other life forms and the earth as a whole - for biodiversity and the intrinsic value of wilderness. We will use the Yukon protected areas strategy to guide us as we set up a network of protected areas based on ecosystem management, conservation biology, sustainable economies, and the values and knowledge of Yukon people."

Now, if the members opposite had read just the vision statement on the protected areas strategy, then the kinds of things that they're doing and bringing forward to this Legislature would not happen, and it would not happen because the legislation, as brought forward, brings very much a top-down control on how protected areas are to be developed in the future in the Yukon Territory, and that basically eliminates a lot of the knowledge of the Yukon people in general. Mr. Speaker, that shows a lack of respect for the processes that are out there.

I'd like to refer to a few more places in the strategy that I think need to be brought to the attention. And I am also very interested to hear the views of some of the members opposite - the MLA for McIntyre-Takhini. I would like to know his views on this motion. I would very much like to know them, and I would like to hear from the member opposite because I believe that the members opposite don't know exactly what's in the strategy, and that's why we see something like the Parks and Land Certainty Act brought in place.

And here we have the Minister of Renewable Resources coming forward and saying that it's only because they felt the process was not followed that we are now faced with attempting to enshrine YPAS in legislation. Well, I don't think that he read all the documents that are attached to the protected areas strategy. One of them, Mr. Speaker, is the workplan, and the workplan clearly spells out the need to amend the Yukon's Parks Act.

It wasn't this government thinking up a bright idea to bring forward to the floor of this Legislature - by far, it was not that. It's already in the works; it's already in the workplan.

But the big difference is that the Liberals are bringing forward an amendment changing the title of the Parks Act to the Parks and Land Certainty Act and attempting to enshrine YPAS, but it doesn't do that. It's mentioned in the preamble, but every other process that's outlined in the strategy will be ignored by this Liberal government. It was said straight to the public and to the members in this House by the Minister of Renewable Resources.

I'll give you an example: by April 1, 2003, all remaining ecoregions will have identified core areas put out to the public. What does that mean? It was only months ago that he said that it would take a year and a half to work out and identify, and work with the general public, a protection of an ecoregion. At that time, it was a protected area. It could be habitat protection, too. But now, all of a sudden, it turns into parks. I couldn't understand where the member opposite was coming from with that.

Now things have changed dramatically under this Liberal government. I believe that they were caught in something here. One of them was that they said YPAS was broken, and that they were going to fix it, because it needed fixing. Well, when the minister refers to a strategy, which one does he refer to? Was it one that was put out, called Wild Spaces Protected Spaces: A Protected Areas Strategy for the Yukon? Is it that one?

Or is it another one that this Liberal government just doesn't want the public to see just yet?

As a matter of fact, they made a comment about how, in April 2003, we'll see some amendments take place in the process, but we'll already have it enshrined in legislation passed through this House. It doesn't make sense at all.

I haven't heard that minister, the Minister of Renewable Resources, speak to other processes that are happening in the Yukon. I haven't heard him talk about the importance of senior governments, the recognition of First Nation governments and self-governments. Why is that? Well, there could be many explanations for that. I feel that that Liberal government does not have a full understanding of any of the land claims agreements or self-government agreements that are out there and in place. It's quite evident by the way in which First Nations are dealt with in this House.

As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, when I first brought a question to the floor of this House in Question Period about First Nations, the Premier popped up and said that the NDP, the official opposition, is scraping the bottom of the barrel for questions. That's how I feel they look at First Nations in this Legislature, and I think it's embarrassing for a Premier who represents Yukoners to even make such a statement in this House.

If that is being said in this House, what is being said out there in the public? I hope the Member for McIntyre-Takhini can straighten out some of the direction the government is going in, particularly when it comes to First Nation issues. I hope his voice is not in the background, but forward, and I hope that the members opposite are not muzzled - that's my hope.

I have not heard the Minister of Renewable Resources talk about the importance of land claims versus protected areas. It has always been our view on this side of the House that we would go ahead with protected areas in ecoregions that have First Nation land claims already ratified and settled. That was our position. And the Minister of Renewable Resources came forward and said, "Whatever it is, we'll have it in place by April 1, 2003." That doesn't respect any of the negotiation processes that are taking place out there.

So, Mr. Speaker, with those few things, I believe the general public feels that this Liberal government is not listening to people. A year and a half has gone by, they have done nothing with the YPAS strategy and have put everything on hold, just like the Minister of Health - funds are frozen, and so is the strategy until we enshrine it in legislation, then maybe things might proceed with the Liberal government. But the fact of the matter is that they have taken more time to amend it, fix it - they call it "fixing" it - than it did for the general public to put this strategy together. Lots can be said about how things are going.

Mr. Speaker, even the secretariat has been developed - housed in a different building, at arm's length. As soon as the Liberals got in, what did they do? They pulled it back and stuck it under the Parks Act. With a public process identified in the protected areas strategy, I couldn't see why this Liberal government would go the opposite way, unless they had something else in mind.

As a matter of fact, things that are set out in the UFA and final agreements I don't believe are respected in their amendments, and I would like to hear what the Minister of Renewable Resources would have to say to that. For example, the renewable resources councils. This minister comes forward and says, "Here are the protected areas for the ecoregions. I have done research and here it is," but he has not respected the processes laid out there and the important advice that can be given by the renewable resources council. What does that mean? A lack of respect for the processes that are out there. I just heard the minister say that he respects those processes. Well, I can't see how they can even say that when what is laid out in the strategy is different from the direction that this Liberal government has taken so far.

Speaker:      Order please. The member has two minutes to conclude?

Mr. Fairclough:   Is that it? Well, Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak more to this than two more minutes.

One of the things that I would like to bring forward is the inconsistencies of this Liberal government has. The social and economic assessments, resource management and economic development agencies of the Yukon and federal governments will have coordinated inventories of economic resources and provide advice to local planning teams. Well, how is that going to happen when this Liberal government is coming forward and putting on the table identified areas before people, the general public, all industry, First Nations, even have a chance to comment on that?

It's wrong. The member knows it, Mr. Speaker, and it's a shame that a strategy that was built by Yukoners is now slowly going down the drain, thanks to this Liberal government. And I'll have more to say later on, I'm sure, once we get back to the motion.

Thank you.

Mrs. Peter:   I speak to this amendment with great sadness in my heart today. I listened to the minister and his comments, and it reminds me of what I had to do to go into another country to lobby on behalf of my people. I had no idea that I had to do the same thing in my own traditional territory and in my own homeland, and that makes me very sad. The comments and concerns that I hear from my own riding are very, very serious with what is before us today. This Liberal government has talked about consultation with people across the Yukon, and I have not seen that happen in my community.

My community has many concerns with the legislation that is before us, for many, many reasons. The people of Vuntut Gwitchin have always lived off the land and still continue to do so today. They care about what happens in our traditional territory and surrounding areas.

They care about what happens with lands throughout the Yukon, because we are people of the land. They care about what happens to the animals within those lands. They care about the waters that flow through this country, and this legislation that's before us today, I believe, will not take care of that. I heard the minister stand on his feet this afternoon and say that this is good legislation that takes care of the people and the land, and they heard this through consultation, but I beg to differ with that.

What I see in front of me does not speak to the concerns of the First Nation people in the territory. Our very heart and soul is what takes place out on the land for each individual, for us as a people. There's a phrase in here that says that we're going to take care of this land for future generations. That's a voice that I've always heard from the elders of my community when we talk about preserving our land, preserving our culture, and we use traditional knowledge to make sure that these things are in place for our children.

I've travelled to Washington, D.C. in the United States, and I have had five minutes to defend 10,000 years of livelihood out on the land, and to me that is not fair. Today I have 20 minutes to voice 10,000 years of concern for my people, and I don't think that's fair. This legislation gives industry the right to continue business in protected areas, and this piece of legislation gives the minister the right to have industry go into our traditional territory and to extract whatever they have to from those lands. I don't feel that it's right. It does not give respect to our people. It does not honour the legacy that our people gave to this land. As a matter of fact, it takes away from that.

I think about the generations that came before us, the respect and honour that they paid to our lands and how they took care of it so that we may live in a good way today, and we still have that tradition.

One of the things that I am very proud of today is that I know where my ancestors walked in my traditional territory, and that gives me a good foundation. And when I look at this information that's in front of me today, I feel great concern for those who are yet to come in our trails. What are we going to provide for them? If industry comes in and is interested in a place, they will be allowed to go in there and take away from the land that is so rich, not only with its animals and the waters, but the history that goes with that place, whether it be in north or south Yukon or anywhere within this territory.

The provisions that are allowed in this legislation to drill underneath a park I pray that I don't see the day that that happens. Again, as I stood here today on my feet, I thought there was only one place I did that before and that was in another country to try to ask for protection of a very sacred place to the Vuntut Gwitchin people so that we can save our traditions and our culture for my people.

And today I am having to do the same thing, right in this territory, in my own homeland. I do not support what the minister is putting forward and I know that the people of Vuntut Gwitchin have great concerns about this. I've said it in this House before and I will say it again: I am the voice of my people. And if there was any consultation done with my community, it wasn't put forward in the legislation that is before us. There are agreements that have been signed by three governments. I don't feel that this legislation respects that. There are strong voices in my community from every age group.

There are strong voices in my community from every age group who told people who came to our community about their concerns, and those were not heard.

We need to protect those areas that are important to people who have lived in that traditional territory for thousands of years. We are all Yukoners. We have different values, and I sure can see that today. We need to take that into consideration. We need to protect the areas that need protection, and we do not need one person to have so much power that they will allow destruction in those areas - destruction by industry. We talk about our economic state in this territory, which is at an all-time low right now. I know we need jobs, and yet we have to find a balance for that. There are places that need to be taken care of.

There were deals that were made between certain people and certain areas in the Yukon. There is one word that I've heard constantly in this House: partnership. What happened to that partnership? What happened to all the players who are part of this whole process? That includes the people of the Yukon.

I believe everyone needs to be heard, especially when it comes to our lands.

This piece of legislation was supposed to bring certainty to us as a people and, right now, I know there is mass confusion out there.

We need something to offer us some hope that we are being listened to, and that's not happening, Mr. Speaker. If there was consultation done with the people of the Yukon, we would be putting forward a very different piece of legislation right now, if that consultation took place.

I know for a fact that there are lots of concerns out there in the Yukon public. The Liberals had promised to enshrine YPAS, and what is before us is not doing that, which causes confusion. What we need to see is this minister taking this act off the table and going to the communities, going to the territory's public, and listening to exactly what the people out there are saying, because that has not been done. I can bet that the minister will hear some very grave concerns from the Yukon public.

There are a few land use planning committees happening around my community. There are at least three or four of them. I attended those meetings in my community throughout the summer, and I know exactly what the elders are saying. I heard the concerns, and they're not reflected anywhere. I'd like to note in the vision statement, where it says, "Our shared relationship with the northern land, waters, air and life form defines our character, sustains our spirits and unites us as a people of the Yukon." I believe that statement with all my heart - I always have. That's what I grew up with in my community, and I hope I will never lose sight of that.

We need to give the Yukon people some hope.

Speaker:      Order please. The member has two minutes to conclude.

Mrs. Peter:      Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to take a strong message back to the people of Old Crow to say that, yes, we have been heard by someone in this government.

Of all the issues that I have to bring forward to whomever in this government, this is one with the highest priority because it involves our very culture. And, like I've said before, it brings me great sadness, because there is only one place that I thought I had to do this, and that was outside this nation. And, with that, Mr. Speaker, that concludes my comments.

Mr. McLarnon:      I just want to put a few points on the record as far as confusion on the other side of this House and to explain to them that, yes, in fact, every member of the government understands the YPAS process, and every member of this government has been involved in lots and lots of debate and discussion on the Parks and Land Certainty Act.

Let's get a few things straight. The entire bill that we see in front of us is how to create a park, what happens in the park, how a park is governed. It does not, in any way, discuss the creation of a park, because that is entrenched through the YPAS process. All the consultation the opposition says that has never happened, happens consistently through the partners in the YPAS group.

What we have seen through the YPAS legislation is a consolidation or reaffirmation of those partners to participate in the YPAS process. Why that's important, Mr. Speaker, is very simply - and it has been admitted by the other side - that the YPAS process was broken when we got it.

I will use an analogy of a marriage. It is easy to fall in love with an idea of marriage. It is easy to fall in love with your spouse. When that spouse breaks that trust through cheating, through not doing whatever the marriage vow says, it takes years, if not actually decades - if it hasn't fallen apart altogether - to regain that trust.

What we've seen in this Yukon Liberal government is the start to regain that trust, to bring a balance forward that all Yukoners can understand in a clear and direct manner - simply that.

I know that the opposition will not understand that, but then again, the opposition never understood the process that they initiated and never understood that if one step were skipped, it would lose all credibility in the person who was supposed to be marshalling the process and was supposed to be taking care of the process.

I actually laughed when I heard the leader of the opposition stand up and scold this government for not following any process, when every person I talked to with any knowledge of the YPAS process during the election blamed that exact member of this House for the failure of the process. So, when I listen to criticism, I generally listen to criticism and judge the credibility of the person criticizing me.

In this case, there is no credibility at all on this issue.

Speaker:      Order please. I would request that the member not get personal, please.

Mr. McLarnon:      This is not personal. This member represented the Department of Renewable Resources at the time. He represented government policy that broke this process. It is impossible to separate the two, because at the time the person we were talking about, the member we were talking about, indeed was the minister of the department. They are inseparable. And I am putting that forward, Mr. Speaker, because without being able to take that separation, if I have to separate it, there is no way - no way on earth - I can hold that member accountable for the mistakes made in his name through the department.

So, Mr. Speaker, when I look at this and when I talk about the leader of the official opposition, it has to be in the context - the leader of the official opposition was in fact the Minister of Renewable Resources when this process broke down. When the process - and freely admitted by members of his own party in the press, public documents - failed, when the industry walked away, when this happened, it is inseparable. He was the minister. And so when I ask and when I take into account credibility, I have to take into account the fact that the Yukon protected areas strategy process failed under the direction of the minister and the direction clearly understood by the minister and clearly apologized for members of his own party. So it's inseparable, Mr. Speaker. It's inseparable.

The Member for Kluane even admitted in the newspaper that the Yukon protected areas strategy process broke down as a result of them. They dropped the ball.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we had a broken strategy, we had a broken marriage, we had a process that, at that point, all the trust was broken out when we were elected. It takes time to mend that. It takes positive moves to mend that. It takes steps. It's now coming together.

Why this is important, Mr. Speaker, is for all Yukoners, for everybody who wants to protect the land for their children and who, at the same time, needs a job to stay here to protect that land for their children.

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

Point of order

Speaker:      Order please. Official opposition House leader, on a point of order.

Mr. Fentie:   Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have never, ever seen such a display in this Assembly. Not only is this member outside of any standard practice here in the debate, this member is challenging the Chair. This is unheard of in this Assembly, and should not continue.

We are here to debate a motion and that's what's on the floor. This dribble coming from the Member for Whitehorse Centre has no place in this Assembly, and I would urge the Speaker to deal with it accordingly.

Speaker:      The government House leader, on the point of order.

Mr. McLachlan:   Mr. Speaker, the Member for Watson Lake is again trying to skid through a point of order on his own nothings. The member is simply comparing an analogy in a marriage to the trust that the opposition broke when they had a chance to put this legislation through, and he compares the leader of the official opposition's role, who was then the Minister of Renewable Resources and responsible for shepherding the legislation through. That's the only analogy that has been done in this Legislature. That, in our opinion, is not a point of order.

Speaker's statement

Speaker:      The Chair is not going to rule on this right now. The Chair wants some time to review the Blues or Hansard. I feel that we're going down a road here that we should not be going down; however, until I get a chance to look at this and think about it and so on, I'm not going to make a ruling. There will be a ruling on it, but I'm not going to make a ruling right now. With that, I would ask the Member for Whitehorse Centre to be judicious in his comments, but to continue.

Mr. McLarnon:      Unfortunately, I'm looking at the rude interruption I have just suffered because I'm doing nothing more than stating the facts. I'm doing nothing more than giving a history of this House and a history of the YPAS process. Unfortunately, there happen to be members here who broke it. If I happen to point fingers, the simple fact of the matter is that's nothing different from what happens in this House at any given time.

Speaker:      Order please.

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

Point of order

Speaker:      The Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes, on a point of order.

Mr. Keenan:   Well, Mr. Speaker, you have given a ruling on this issue. It has been accepted by our House leader and the Liberal House leader. I would say that this now falls under 19(c), where the member is persisting in needless repetition and is raising matters that have already been decided upon. Now, that's not in the current session, but certainly you have already ruled on that and are going to come back. I find it needless repetition for this member to continue to cause uncertainty with your decision.

Speaker's statement

Speaker:      Well, I think I'll err on the side of caution here, too. I'll take this under advisement and get a chance to do some research and get some assistance on it. I'll come back to the House with a statement or decision.

Member for Whitehorse Centre, please continue.

Mr. McLarnon:      Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It pains the opposition to actually be reminded of the past. It pains the opposition to actually be reminded of the mistakes of the past. And, just because we are standing in this House reminding them, we have broken no rules, Mr. Speaker. What we are in fact doing is just reminding them of mistakes that that government made. There are no rules broken. I know they are sensitive and I know they have a problem accepting the reality of the fact that YPAS was broken when we got here and YPAS will be fixed because of us.

And it takes steps. Yes, they are controversial. Yes, they won't satisfy everybody. But what they will do is get people talking about balanced, representative ecoregions in our territory. What they will do is make our entire society buy into them. And what we are doing on this side is doing that cautiously but very fairly, and we understand that YPAS is a process to be respected but it is worthless unless all people stand in front of it and understand and buy into it. That is what this government is doing; that is what the first step in this process is in the Parks and Land Certainty Act. YPAS is entrenched. YPAS is guaranteed through it. Stakeholders will be heard.

The Member for Vuntut Gwitchin said that they had not been consulted, but in fact they have a voice on the YPAS Public Advisory Committee. So, consultation happens all the time. It is often just forgotten for political purposes - sometimes. And what we would like to do is just point out the errors in very weak arguments that we hear from the other side. I know this hurts them. I may end up getting called on another frivolous point of order. But what I will actually do is tell the honest truth, in a very straightforward, non-confrontational way, in the way that all members of my riding who talk to me remember it.

I am presenting a point of view from people who were burned by the last government in the YPAS process, and it took 18 months to get them back to the table and get them talking again. That's what we need - a balanced process with every Yukoner and every stakeholder having the right to say what they need. This is the best approach. It is the Liberal philosophy of balance that we're talking about, Mr. Speaker.

I'm sorry I have offended members on the other side, but then again I understand there's a certain balance on the other side as well. They are for parks, then they're against parks. Apparently, balance and indecision works for them. This is the only way they're going now, and this is the only way we have seen them. We saw it - the people who brought the YPAS forward, the interest groups that were protected by the people who brought the YPAS forward, are talking to us, are having input into the YPAS process. The Yukon Party and the New Democratic Party were both proponents of the YPAS process while they were in office. The second they stepped outside of office, YPAS was a bad idea.

The difference is that the Yukon Liberal Party, while they were out of office, believed YPAS was a good idea, and still do.

I would ask the voters of the Yukon to understand that political gamesmanship is being played in this Legislature today, and what we need, Mr. Speaker, is for these people to stand up and honestly explain to the Yukon people where they stand, not just the political posturing of the day, which is what we see today.

I am fully in support of this amendment, because it represents an honest and purposeful point of view, and something that can get progress on parks, and also the progress on Yukon economic development, and progress on conservation - all three areas, a balance in one place.

This party stands for balance. We are going to deliver balance.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Keenan:   Mr. Speaker, it's indeed a pleasure to be able to stand and speak to this motion. I must say right off the bat, Mr. Speaker, I won't be supporting the motion as amended, but I would like to thank, I guess, my little sister for grounding me again in her words. I deeply appreciate listening to my little sister from Vuntut Gwitchin because, when I can speak in the shadow of - my colleague, I guess I should say - it certainly grounds me and reminds me of why I'm here. Certainly that shadow had a bit of a dark side cast to it, I guess, by the Member for Whitehorse Centre in his comments, but I override that, and I would like to take up on the force that my little sister has brought to me, and I thank her for that very much.

As I was listening I thought: how much more do Yukon folks have to go through. in terms of providing certainty in protecting our lands? What is it that we want to do? And I started to reflect, because I think that the Liberal government, the caucus, is wanting maybe to do the right thing, and I believe that they're going ahead in the right manner. So, I'm going to use my, I guess, 18 minutes or whatever I have left now, to explain some process, I guess.

Because it was 100 years ago approximately that a Tlingit man, Chief Jim Boss, on the shores of Lake Laberge, sent a letter to the king, asking for a land base and some rights for the people, the original inhabitants who at that point in time outnumbered the newcomers to the land.

That was the start of it. That was the start of a land claims process, but it was the start of a political process - I won't say a political movement. It was the start of a process that native peoples, original Yukoners, had to opt into.

Our original peoples were truly a part of the land and a part of the water, and there were not contemporary systems that were set up.

I'm sorry - the Member for Faro is wishing to speak, or making hands at me. Does the member wish to call a point of order on this?

Some Hon. Member:      (Inaudible)

Mr. Keenan:   Thank you very much to the Member for Faro for allowing me to continue.

What do we have to go through now as a people to come together? Because the original peoples only knew that we were not owners, but that we were more - not even a caretaker of the land, but definitely a part of the land.

I was watching a television show last night, and it's unfortunate that I only caught the last few minutes of it. It was an article that showed Alaska. It was on a Detroit public service station or something like as such. But there was a quote at the end from Chief Seattle, who spoke about not owning, but being a part of - and I have to bring that forth because that was the philosophy of the First Nation people continually, all of our lives, and it continues to be that philosophy.

To have something as important as the protection of YPAS to be punted about as a political football - well, it brings me a deep sorrow. It really does truly bring me a deep sorrow. I usually try to strive over and learn the modern methods or contemporary methods based on old principles to move forward, but I have to say "Here we go again", and it truly does make my heart sore when I think, "Here we go again."

What more do we have to go through? The people brought forth this idea over 100 years ago - brought it to us, and here we still are on it.

Mr. Speaker, it has been so that through revolving mandates, undefined processes, agreements in principle, UFAs, First Nation final agreements, hybrids off those constitutionally protected agreements - processes that are hybrid to that - are still in place. In some situations, government mandates, both at the territorial level and at the federal level, have continued to evolve, albeit that I was one of the masseurs, if I can say it in that way, who massaged some real life into those mandates.

Mr. Speaker, I have tired fingers now from all that massaging I have done to government and with government, on behalf of government, yet I shall continue to massage hoping that people will listen, that people will truly listen to what we have to say.

We're not against what the minister's intent is in protecting a land base that is credible to all. We're not against that.

For nigh on most of my life, I have worked to protect and I have worked in the shadows of some very great people, family members of the people who are here, and I have learned from those people. I have sat and I have listened and I have reflected and I have taken time to understand how we, as Yukoners, must learn to get along, how we must learn to share. And I know folks are saying, "Oh, here he goes again. He's preaching. Lord help us if Keenan ever finds religion, because he'll continue to preach." But this is a necessary item to preach on, if I can say it in that manner.

What do we have here? I had constituents in my hometown, just in the last week, speaking about raising the issue of bringing a national park back into our traditional territory. I said, "Whoa. Hold it man. We've got processes here that we should all try to buy into." Then I started thinking of these processes. Holy moly.

Whew, we have the process we're talking about, we have national processes, we have special management areas, and goodness knows what else is going to come. But it's for protection; it's for protection of the land.

I guess what I'm saying here, Mr. Speaker, is that over a very long time we're getting closer to providing some certainty to the First Nation people. Because, as the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin has so elegantly stated, 20 minutes is not nearly long enough to speak of 10,000-plus years of occupancy. But yes, it is a necessity that we, the people - the original peoples, I guess - have to stand in this House and share. It's incumbent upon us. As a matter of fact, I think it's inherent in us now - that we have to share. That's why I bring it here.

To be a part of the land and a part of the water means much more than just the legislative envelope that comes to this House and gets passed through the House. You cannot capture everything in a legislative calendar or in a legislative bill about what the real intent is. There has to be a certain amount of trust. But we must at least attempt to crystallize it and to bring it forth to a very transparent point, where simple people, like myself, Mr. Speaker - simple people. Let's not put the legalese to it. Let's just say it simply and commonly, and let's trust that the legalese will cover it. But let's just make it simple and define the process.

To marry not only the usage of the land, but the cultural content of the land, and to put it into that potpourri, I guess, where it would begin to water it down - it would "grey" it. I'm not trying to say anything mean or antagonistic, but that's what I find. It just gives the future generations so much more to worry about because there is always that fog or haze that lies over the certainty.

So let's open it up and let's speak to the people. I have been told that folks who want to talk about it have not had the opportunity to talk about it. And, for goodness' sakes some First Nations in this land have spent most of their compensation dollars to participate in the process for the protection of our cultural rights, our inherent rights and also in the ability to share the land as we know we must.

When is it going to stop, or is it ever going to stop? I believe it can be stopped. I do believe that the minister can do the right thing and I do believe that the minister wants to do the right thing, but I also believe that the minister is boxing himself into a political frame of mind. I don't think that is healthy because we're taking something that we should have been speaking to people about - empowering people - and people will empower government to do the right thing. That is buying in. It takes communication. It takes skills and special people to do it. I do believe that the minister has all those skills himself personally, and certainly the minister has his finger on a button that could touch those skills, or to touch people who have those skills.

We are not asking for abeyance forever. No, no, no, no, no, by golly, not forever. We are not even asking for abeyance. We are just asking for a clearly defined process where people can go forth and say what they have to say because it is time that a deep process was put into place that will clearly define everything that I want to say and that we do the right thing and put together an act that is clearly defined within this House. I'll guarantee you that - there might be an odd amendment or two - this side of the House wants it, very much so wants it. And I want to see it done within this mandate, but I want to see it done correctly by this government. I don't want this to be carried over for the next government, although I will be a part of the next government and I will be there to help if it is there.

Mr. Speaker, I think that this government has the right and the opportunity to do the right thing. There's certainly - the Member for McIntyre-Takhini - I put faith in that lone voice on that side of the House. It might not seem it at such times in questions I ask and hard questions, but I put faith in that member because that member, I do believe, is the one light over there - or maybe there are others who can see to do the right thing and that we shouldn't be treating this as a political football. I mean, let's not put so many old band aids on this old pigskin so that we don't even recognize it as pigskin any more. Let's not do that, because that just distorts where we're going. Let's do the right thing, and I would expect that the Member for McIntyre-Takhini will be thinking and reflecting on this and speaking to the chiefs in the riding that he represents, so that we might be able to move forward.

I can only, I guess, speak more about why we should have this enshrined singularly, and I've already spoken a little bit about it, and it's for certainty. But what does certainty actually mean? Is it so that, in the big picture that we know of, the miners can't come here and certain people can use it in this way and, if you look over and you get out of the box and you look at it at another angle, it gives you another perspective? Are there just two halves to this whole? Well, there are only two halves to any whole, I guess. I'm not such a learned guy in that manner, but I think there are more ways of looking at it if we step out of the box and crawl underneath it. You can get to the south end, you can get to the north end, you can get wherever you want to get. Not only is that physically healthy, that's mentally healthy, and it's a good process, because it could reek of communication. I know that my chief, I know that my mayor, the people who represent me on a daily basis, I know that my MLA even thinks the way I do.

Mr. Speaker, they need an opportunity to voice their opinions, not to defend my opinions. I'm capable of defending my opinions. I just want folks to listen and to hear me. I remember negotiating - and trying to come to an agreement under the umbrella final agreement - the description on the term "consultation". Holy moly, Mr. Speaker. Dig out that UFA. I know you have it under your pillow and probably read it every night because it's such good reading. It'll put you to sleep like that.

But there are a couple of paragraphs in it that speak to how people want to be consulted. That has not happened. You know, with all the people in the room at that time, including the federal negotiators and the territorial negotiators and the First Nation negotiators, we have probably spent $100,000 defining what that means. Did we stop there? Heck, no. We even translated it into French. We did all those things, yet it doesn't matter how you define it; it's how you implement it.

So we can define these words, these nice things - politically correct to get certainty to the land for economic purposes but, basically, that's it. The land claims agreements and the First Nation agreements attempt to cover off the cultural rights and the cultural diversity of our vast nations, but it doesn't quite capture it. There has to be an ongoing dialogue. People in the future - our children, our pages - are going to get older. My children are getting older, the old keep getting older, and the young must do the same. But there is a recurring role for all these people in the future to come together and define by talking to one another, by communicating with one another.

If we did this talk, if we did this communication, we wouldn't be in the situation of a divorce. Now, divorce, as depicted by the Member for Whitehorse Centre, is a terrible thing to go through - I know from personal experience. I would hope, before we get to the divorce and there are winners on one side and losers on the other side, that we don't have to go there. We don't have to blacken each other's eyes; we can sit down and we can say, "We know what we want to do. It's not a political football. We want the opposition side to stand on their feet and say they're going to support this, because it's the best doggone thing for the Yukon."

I'll even have to recognize Mr. Ostashek, the previous leader of the Yukon Party, and thank that member - I do believe it was that member, the government leader of the day, who said that he was going to commit to the Yukon protected areas strategy.

But, Mr. Speaker, if we can have a person like me congratulating a person like I just described, who are at two complete opposite ends of the spectrum - and then maybe we even have step-ladders off the spectrums and we are both hanging off those; that's how far apart our differences are - if I can thank that member for bringing that here, then I would like to be able to stand on the floor of this House and thank the current Member for Riverdale North the same way. I want to be able to thank that member. This isn't an issue of New Democrats, Liberals, Yukon Party - a right and a left. This is the preservation of the Yukon, and to have it clearly distinguished in its own envelope, because what could we do with this?

Mr. Speaker, I have travelled quite a bit in the last four years, I guess, or five years, around the world, and every time that somebody from down under, or wherever, found out that I was from the Yukon - holy moly, they just had to talk to me.

So, you know me, Mr. Speaker, I'm very short on words but I can paint a picture if I have to, so I painted those pictures for those folks. I painted them - and you know what? I've had some of them show up on my doorstep, because they wanted to see the Yukon.

So, why am I going over here and talking about those things? It's because there are many areas like this. There are many areas like this. And to represent one - in my personal opinion but not my professional opinion - might be under-representing it, because I see the value. Yet I also see the value, Mr. Speaker, in sharing the land and finding ways, because we need an economy. Holy man. We need an economy right now. Right now. So we should be trying to work together for the betterment of that.

And can it be done? Oh, Mr. Speaker, I have personally orchestrated, with good help, a 100-percent consensus decision to accept the land claim and a First Nation self-government agreement. And I did that not because I'm a sly old fox or anything like as such. I did it by bringing people in, working with people, communicating with people and, yes, Mr. Speaker, listening to people.

Because people out there do care. They care deeply about our Yukon, deeply about our Yukon.

Mr. Speaker, I know spots in the Wolf River - maybe some people here have floated the Wolf River - but I know spots in the Wolf River where the last dinosaur was killed in my country. The last dinosaur. There are legends of my people. I know exactly where it lies. Should that be protected?

Oh, man. There's a history to this country, Mr. Speaker, if people would take the time to listen to each other. It's such a benefit to share and to hear others.

But, Mr. Speaker, this is not a fantasy, this is not a legend, this is not a UFA depiction. This is life, reality, and what the Yukon is and means.

Now, why am I talking about that cultural content in the Yukon protected areas strategy? Because I think that the architects of the strategy need to hear what I have to say. They have to hear it. Because is it limited? No. It's whole in its nature - and even that whole has two halves. But it's whole in its nature. And it should be, could be and, I'd like to think, will be, but I'm not so sure that it will be. But I think the people are getting tired of being punted around. And that's going to come. It's going to come, maybe like a bucket of ice river water to some folks on the opposite side, maybe like a slap in the face -

Speaker:      Order please. I neglected to give the member the two-minute warning. The member's time has expired, so could you please conclude?

Mr. Keenan:   Yes, I thank you very much. And Mr. Speaker, it has been said by both my leader and the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin that 20 minutes isn't enough. And I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that I appreciate that extra two minutes because now I can go.

Thank you.

Mr. McRobb:   It's always a pleasure to follow the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes. He speaks with such inspiration and talks from the heart, and I think that's a pleasant change in this atmosphere and something we should all try to do more of. I'm also pleased to hear that he has moved to Haines Junction. At least, that's what I'm assuming, after his comments about his MLA. I'll check that out a little later.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Renewable Resources made a number of comments that I want to respond to - and even the Member for Whitehorse Centre deserves recognition for a couple of his comments - and also address some aspects in the amendment.

To start with, Mr. Speaker, this amendment is something I cannot support. In my opinion, this amendment is frivolous, it's a waste of time, it's a diversion from the intent of the motion and it's typical gamesmanship, Mr. Speaker. I invited the members opposite to avoid that very type of tactic and I should have known better than to put any faith in them obliging me on that, because past practice will show that the Liberals cannot address an issue as put on the floor and have to twist things around to steer it their way. That's why we are not supporting this motion.

Now, I noticed the minister said that I virtually read the whole legal review. I'd like to say that that is quite incorrect. He's not even close. I would say that I read, at most, about 10 percent of this review. So it brings to question whether or not the minister himself has looked closely at that review. I would suggest he should, because it really calls into the question the legislation he wants this House to pass.

I also note that he questions the review on the basis that there was a restrictive, restrictive question put to the Sierra Legal Defence Fund. Now, Mr. Speaker, I want to put on record what the question was, and let's let people decide for themselves if it were restrictive or not.

The fund was asked to provide an opinion with regard to the following considerations: (1) the degree of legal protection the act provides for the ecological integrity of the Yukon's parks; and, (2), the act's implementation of the goals and objectives of the Yukon protected areas strategy. It goes on to say that, in doing so, the act will also be examined to consider the extent to which the following elements, considered desirable in parks legislation, are incorporated.

Now, I will read these into the record - there are about nine of them. And, to refer to this as being restrictive is quite selective categorization. (1) prohibits industrial development; (2) protects permanently boundaries legislated; (3) incorporates dedication to future generations; (4) provides specific management objectives for the park; (5) ensures public participation in mandatory planning; (6) provides additional protection for ecological reserves in wilderness areas; (7) limits activities outside or adjacent to proposed parks; (8) requires reporting on state of the parks; and, (9) recognizes aboriginal rights. That is quite a slate of wide-ranging requests the fund was asked to analyze and report back on, so for the minister to try to marginalize this review by saying the question put to it was selective, I would say is probably selective memory on the part of the minister.

Now, the minister also wanted me to concentrate on the good in the act. Well, I tried to find the good in the act and was quite hard pressed.

There are lots of questions in the act. I would like to also point out that the minister tried to characterize my criticism for the act as criticism toward the officials and the lawyers who drafted the legislation. I want to respond to that.

We all understand how it works here in government. The drafters of the legislation are given direction on how the legislation should be drafted. There might be one draft, two drafts or more. The legislation then goes to CCL - the Cabinet Committee on Legislation. On CCL, the members from the Justice department are represented as well as sponsoring departments, and the Minister of Justice and the minister of the sponsoring department, and any other members as so desire.

From the eagerness of the Member for Whitehorse Centre, I would suggest he might have a role on CCL. Now, in that process, these clauses are debated. The intent of the clauses is debated. In fact, the government has notes on virtually every one of the clauses - notes that we are not privy to as opposition members, but notes the minister and some of the minister's colleagues are privy to. Wouldn't it be interesting to get some of those notes, Mr. Speaker? But more on that in a minute.

Anyway, the point is that the drafters of the legislation are provided direction from the government, and that's putting it mildly. The direction might get quite detailed and even, clause by clause, there could be wording changes suggested during CCL meetings. It's normal to expect that.

So, for the minister just to back off on his responsibility and point the finger at us for criticizing the drafters I think deserved some comment.

Now, we also understand, Mr. Speaker, that there was a considerable amount of internal correspondence regarding this act. That's a fact. There were lots of e-mails between the departments and the Cabinet upstairs - lots of them. As a matter of fact -

Some Hon. Member:      (Inaudible)

Mr. McRobb:   Well, the Member for Faro asked me how I know. Well, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure this out. We do know.

Mr. Speaker, actually, I'm a little intrigued by this, and it makes me want to go file an ATIPP application to maybe request copies of those pieces of correspondence because, from the look on the Member for Faro's face, there's something they're hiding here.

Now, why was there so much internal discussion on this parks and lands uncertainty act? Well, Mr. Speaker, it's because there were issues between the departments and the Liberals and the government, there was meddling into what the departments wanted to do, there was micromanagement, there was politicization, and there was infighting between the departments. All of the above are true, and then some. We in the opposition couldn't help but hear some of the spillover. I would venture to say that some of the NGOs out there also did, and that has helped to fuel the fire of protest against this act. Yet the minister will stand up and claim innocence and say all kinds of wonderful words about how he's so responsible and how the Liberal government is doing the right thing and how it's doing what it said it would do and blah, blah, blah. Well, I find that very patronizing of the hard-working people in the departments who were subjected to political direction from the minister and others in the Liberal caucus.

Now, one other thing the Minister of Renewable Resources stooped to attack me on was my absence from a consultation meeting on the YPAS. Well, Mr. Speaker, I can't believe that he'd go this low, although it seems the Liberals will find new lows each and every day. The minister should know that I had a schedule conflict and I was out working hard, representing my constituents, in a process he used to chair. So, shame on him. He was aware of this other process but had to come in here and invent this spin and attack me on why I wasn't there. Furthermore, how appropriate is it for me to go to a stakeholder meeting and try to barge in front of members of the public and put my views forward? Rather, I find it's incumbent upon me to listen to what the members of the public are saying.

And I have reviewed the report and the minutes from the meetings, as well as having read the act, despite what the minister says, and am speaking from a knowledgeable perspective on this act.

So, I think we can all understand, Mr. Speaker, how the rhetoric flies and the accusations are easily refuted, if the opportunity to do so presents itself. So, every time we do have an opportunity to respond and clear the record - this is one such rare opportunity, and I'm glad I had it.

Now, the amendments proposed by the minister - there are six new clauses, along with a new summation that doesn't do what the original motion said.

It makes me wonder, Mr. Speaker, whether the minister and his Liberal colleagues were actually listening to my original comments. I ask that question because virtually every one of these clauses in this amendment was refuted before the minister even introduced this amendment. It was a dead duck from the word "go".

Obviously, instead of listening to the discussion, the minister was busy clacking away at his typewriter. Perhaps he was trying to formulate next summer's travel schedule to the campgrounds, where he could go after a second campground badge or something, Mr. Speaker. At this stage, I think we all know he won't be getting the badge for public consultation or the badge for good government.

Now, the Member for Whitehorse Centre talks about the pain of divorce and tries to apply that analogy to the YPAS. I find that somewhat questionable, but I do feel sorry for his family - and his Liberal family because they're beginning to discover that the honeymoon is over. I say that because more and more groups out there are beginning to attack this government. And what is the government doing? Instead of listening and reacting appropriately, pulling up its socks and rolling up its sleeves and getting back to the drawing board to improve what it's trying to do, it's fighting back. It's actually attacking the public, more and more and more all the time.

For instance, we know that the Premier has gone down and argued with the editors of the newspapers about cartoons of the crown on the head. We know that the Minister of Renewable Resources phoned up the national office of CPAWS and complained about this press release that came out on Friday.

The examples are too numerous to mention, but this is not a government that heeds advice and learns from criticism. This is a government that fights back and attacks anyone who dares to hold it accountable. The record will speak for itself. Read what the Minister of Renewable Resources said in response to my original comments to this motion, and you will discover how he spent most of the time re-fighting the last election and criticizing the previous government.

When are these Liberals going to get it? They're in government now. The member is a minister now. Even the Member for Whitehorse Centre, when he is allowed back in the caucus, is a member of the government. Maybe they won't get it. Next election is probably less than two years away, and I am losing hope that they will get it before their time runs out, and then they'll never get it. Because I just can't see the Yukon public ever electing this bunch in there again.

This is a government that more and more people are questioning. We are seeing people in the environment community come out against what it is trying to do. We see people in the education community appalled by what it is trying to do. We see people who are very concerned about our health services, who are very concerned at what this government is doing and what it is not doing.

Mr. Speaker, virtually every sector of society has lost its patience with this government - every sector. Even the Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon put in a very reasonable request - $1.5 million for marketing in light of the crisis facing the industry. And the Tourism minister told them that the Auditor General's instructions were that the government had to hang on to $40 million for emergencies.

If September 11 and the aftermath wasn't an emergency, what is?

The Business Council of Canada, among many other organizations, says the tourism industry was the hardest hit industry of any. But where is the financial commitment? Where are the principles of this government?

Speaker:      Order please. The member has two minutes to conclude.

Mr. McRobb:   More and more every day we are beginning to see the obvious. It's a very simple plan. This government is giving everybody the mushroom treatment; they're hoarding all the money, and, come election time, they'll all don Santa suits and be giving away all the money like freebies. Here you go; here are all the programs and goodies. They might even restore the community development fund. It's down to a quarter of what it was at election time. Even the fire smart was reduced more than 10 percent.

They'll probably restore all the good NDP programs and try to buy the votes. That's the only rationale that makes sense for how this government is behaving.

Not only has it thrown those principles out the window, it has thrown principles of protected areas and other things out the window as well, Mr. Speaker. It's almost like the government is saying, "If you don't like our set of principles, we'll show you another set." That's what makes this a Liberal government. They're riding the fence, unable to make a decision, and they're coming under fire from everybody. It's painful to watch it from this side of the House and the sooner the public can put this government out of its misery, the better off we'll all be.

Thank you.

Mr. Fentie:   Mr. Speaker, my intention here is to move this debate along quickly. We have heard a lot today but I think it has to be said that the one member on the Liberal side of the House who has actually got this right is the Member for Whitehorse Centre. The Member for Whitehorse Centre said that, for any process to work, the public must buy into it, and that is the essence of what we are doing here this afternoon in debating this motion. For anything to work, the public must buy into it.

I want to applaud the Member for Whitehorse Centre for getting it right. In the face of all his colleagues simply not grasping the situation, this member has stood on his feet and hit the bull's eye.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I have a friendly amendment to propose to amend the Minister of Renewable Resources' amendment - who should know better when it comes to the public buying into it - and get this motion back on track and, indeed, this territory when it comes to protect areas.

Subamendment proposed

Mr. Fentie:   I move

THAT the amendment to Motion No. 168 be amended by deleting everything after the word "future" in paragraph 6 and substituting the following:

"(7) the Parks and Land Certainty Act currently under debate has not had the benefit of public review and consultation, it fails to honour the Yukon Liberal government's commitment to enshrine the Yukon protected areas strategy in law, and it ascribes powers to the minister and Cabinet that are contrary to the intent of the Yukon protected areas strategy; and

THAT this House urges the Yukon Liberal government to honour its commitment to Yukon people by setting aside the Parks and Land Certainty Act until such time as the appropriate public consultation has taken place, and by bringing it forward for debate only when it is accompanied by separate, stand-alone legislation that clearly enshrines the Yukon protected areas strategy in law."

Speaker:      Order please.

It has been moved by the hon. Member for Watson Lake

THAT the amendment to Motion 168 be amended by deleting everything after the word "future" in paragraph 6 and substituting the following:

"(7) the Parks and Land Certainty Act currently under debate has not had the benefit of public review and consultation, it fails to honour the Yukon Liberal government's commitment to enshrine the Yukon protected areas strategy in law, and it ascribes powers to the minister and Cabinet that are contrary to the intent of the Yukon protected areas strategy; and

THAT this House urges the Yukon Liberal government to honour its commitment to Yukon people by setting aside the Parks and Land Certainty Act until such time as the appropriate public consultation has taken place, and by bringing it forward for debate only when it is accompanied by separate, stand-alone legislation that clearly enshrines the Yukon protected areas strategy in law."

The hon. Member for Watson Lake on the subamendment.

Mr. Fentie:   Mr. Speaker, I think it's evident that with this amendment we get the motion and the issue back on track as it should be.

It also gets this issue back to what the Liberal government has done in terms of a commitment to the Yukon public. That commitment was their contract during the election with the Yukon public with respect to the Yukon protected areas strategy. I think their commitment speaks for itself. Unfortunately, in the last 18 months, the Liberals have done everything they possibly can to move away from that commitment, and therein lies the major problem with this legislation, before us in this House today.

The problem is, firstly, the Liberals are not honouring their commitment as it relates to the Yukon protected areas strategy. Secondly, this legislation, the Parks and Land Certainty Act, does not promote, in any way, public buy-in and, as the Member for Whitehorse Centre so aptly put it, without that public buy-in, processes such as the legislation the Liberals have tabled cannot succeed. That is why we, the official opposition, have brought forward this motion today. It is to try and get the Liberal government to understand that they cannot contradict commitments to the Yukon public, which is vital in the political realm and, secondly, that they must produce a product that will result in public buy-in.

What the Liberals have done with this Parks and Land Certainty Act is completely opposite to that very fundamental principle of public support and buy-in. They have created situations that result in uncertainty.

Now, this act that is before us is going to do nothing but create land use conflict. It is going to create land use conflict because it does not have public buy-in - it has public opposition and that is a well-known fact. The opposition is public, and it has been heard.

The motion we have tabled here on the floor of the Legislature is to try and urge the Liberal government to get it back on track so there is not opposition in the public, so that there is public buy-in with what they're doing, and that will result, instead of uncertainty and land use conflict, it will result in certainty and Yukoners collectively working together toward a common goal, a common purpose.

We all agree, and we all believe, that through any process such as the Yukon protected areas strategy, we must achieve balance. We must ensure that what we do today does not compromise our future and what we can do tomorrow.

The legislation that the Liberals have tabled in this House is going to compromise our future and what we can do tomorrow because of the extensive land use conflict that will take place. It's truly unfortunate, because Yukoners held out a lot of hope that this Liberal government would honour its commitment to enshrine the Yukon protected areas strategy and process in stand-alone legislation so that everybody would know where the goalposts were. Instead, the Liberals have moved the goalposts all over the map, Mr. Speaker, and now it doesn't matter if you promote an environmental agenda, if you promote an industrial or development agenda, or if you are just a Yukon citizen who is worried about our territory and our future and ensuring that we protect what we have, you have completely confused us all.

Why can't the Liberal government understand that they are not here to govern for themselves; they are here to govern for the people of this territory. The Liberal government surely must recognize that bringing forward such flawed pieces of legislation as this act and the motion that we in the official opposition have brought forward to get them to see the error of their ways - surely they must recognize that what they're doing is not about governing for people in this territory; it's merely satisfying some unknown need by the Liberals themselves to produce a product that is simply going to result in total chaos.

I'm hopeful that the Liberals will see the light and that somebody will get through to them. That's what this motion debate is about today and that's why the amendment to their amendment has come forward. It is to get them to see the light, to get them to put the YPAS strategy, the Yukon protected areas strategy, back on track so we move away from land use conflict.

Mr. Speaker, land use conflict in this territory has been an impediment, an impediment for us advancing, not only in ensuring that our future is a bright one and that our future generations can enjoy what we have today in terms of the wonder and the beauty of this territory, but ensures that this territory can start down the road of self-sufficiency because we can develop and create an economy and build hope and have a bright future.

The Yukon protected areas strategy is all about balance. It's when governments of the day, like this Liberal government, decide it's time to play politics with the future of Yukoners that that balance goes into a very dangerous wobble. That dangerous wobble, Mr. Speaker, that loose wheel, is the Parks and Land Certainty Act that this Liberal government has brought forward.

Surely, the Liberal government, if they had any desire whatsoever to move in that direction, to ensure certainty, to move away from land use conflict, to move away from backroom dealing, which creates more confusion, more uncertainty, surely they would have simply stood up and supported the motion before this House.

There is nothing wrong with the motion as it was written.

There is no need to panic and make some knee-jerk reaction and bring forward flawed legislation to this House, not when our future is at stake, not when our land and all that goes with it, our resources, and what people can achieve and benefit from this place is at stake. Why is it such a problem for the Liberal government to recognize that taking some time to go back to a public process with this legislation and getting it right and getting public buy-in - what's wrong with that? Why can't the Liberals understand and recognize that?

The Member for Whitehorse Centre did. He recognized it, and he stated it on the floor of this Legislature. Why can't his colleagues see the same thing? The official opposition sees it. The leader of the third party has seen it. Yukoners see it. Yet this Liberal government lurches blindly forward for reasons that totally escape me and this side of the House and, indeed, all Yukoners, Mr. Speaker.

I think, for the sake of this territory and its people, the Liberal government should act now and act decisively and take the Parks and Land Certainty Act off the legislative agenda in this sitting. What would make sense here, Mr. Speaker, is that the Liberals spend the next number of months until the spring sitting getting it right, that the Liberals spend the next number of months until the spring sitting consulting with Yukoners, involving the Yukon public, getting that public buy-in for this legislation so that, when we implement it and move forward, we have the best possible product that can be developed. And, Mr. Speaker, if the Liberal government were to act in this manner, they would find unanimous support in this House and, more importantly, there would be unanimous support in the Yukon public.

That's why we're here - to do the necessary things on behalf of the Yukon public.

The Yukon protected areas strategy is not just something that fell out of the sky into this territory. It is something that is in the minds and the hearts of people around the world. The Canadian government committed this country to do this very thing. It was done at the United Nations, Mr. Speaker. The former Government Leader of the Yukon Party signed this territory on to that commitment that was made at the United Nations on behalf of this country. That whole commitment that was given by this territory, by the former Government Leader of the Yukon Party, was merely followed through with by the succeeding government, the former NDP government. That was what created the Yukon protected areas strategy. Hundreds of hours of work by Yukoners creating public buy-in - the result was the protected areas strategy, Mr. Speaker, keeping us in line with a commitment made by this country.

Along comes a Liberal government, and what have they done? They've thrown a monkey wrench into that public process, destroying public buy-in, creating confusion and taking this territory backward, beyond the point of where even the Yukon Party had brought us years ago. I think that's wrong, Mr. Speaker, and I think that the members opposite know better. I believe that is why the Member for Whitehorse Centre recognized that fact and put on the floor the necessity of public buy-in.

The Liberals have a chance here to do it right. They have a golden opportunity, even at the expense of this opposition forming government again. If they got it right, they have an opportunity to do this in an appropriate manner that will achieve the results that all desire.

Why can't they understand that that commitment they made to the Yukon public is no less important than the commitment this country made to the world? It's no less important or vital than the commitment that the former Government Leader of the Yukon Party made to the people of this territory. It's no less important than the work that was done under the former NDP government in regard to this process.

Why are they shirking their duty under the commitment that they made to the Yukon public, by bringing forward this very flawed piece of legislation?

And there's no hurry here. There's absolutely no need to rush into this - not when so much is at stake. Surely other members, other colleagues of the minister responsible for this legislation, must realize that. Surely those members will now take the time to sit down with that minister and explain to him, maybe go for a ride in his motorhome, tour this territory with the minister so that they can see first-hand for themselves why it's so important to get it right.

Mr. Speaker, I am trying everything I know to convince the minister and the members opposite that what must be done here is very simple. Stand down on the legislation as it is, go back to the public whom we serve, allow the public process to create public buy-in, and then we can move ahead. Enshrining this strategy in legislation is not some flippant thing that we should just do so we can say that we created some legislation.

It's too important. It's much too vital to this territory and its people, and we cannot allow, without doing our job as the opposition representing the public -

Speaker:      Order please. The member has two minutes.

Mr. Fentie:   I thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We cannot allow this to proceed without making the case that what's going on here is a mistake - a mistake that should be corrected and that the Liberals have ample opportunity to deal with and get right. I know for a fact that if they were to say openly and publicly that it has been their decision to stand down on the Parks and Land Certainty Act, the cheers the Liberals would hear out there in the Yukon public could be from potential supporters of this Liberal government come the next election.

If they go the other way, Mr. Speaker, it is at their own peril, because what they are doing is pitting Yukoner against Yukoner in land use conflict - community against community, First Nation against non-native. They have to get this right - it's that important for all of us.

I urge this minister to take the lead, as it is his job to do. Let's do this properly. Stand down this legislation, as this motion on the floor today urges, and let's get it right.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:   Well, Mr. Speaker, if we would only get it right - profound, passionate - if we would only get it right. The fact of the matter is, as the Member for Whitehorse Centre had indicated, if they had only gotten it right the first time, we wouldn't be here. We wouldn't be debating this. Now they are telling us to get it right. Are we to take their advice on the issue on getting things right? I think not.

The member opposite speaks passionately about getting it right. Well, I believe we have got it right because we have listened, we have consulted, and I think people are asking us to move on, to get it done. Let's get on to getting this economy in the territory up and running again. We are getting it right, Mr. Speaker, we are getting it right.

The members opposite continually criticize us. There is no way they are ever, ever going to agree with anything we do. As the Minister of Economic Development said yesterday, it's a matter of choice. And we asked the people 18 months ago to make a choice. We had a different course to take - make a choice and they chose. They spoke very loudly, as a matter of fact.

The members opposite continually say that they are speaking for Yukoners, and I don't doubt that. But we also speak for Yukoners. Every day we speak and listen to Yukoners - every day throughout the territory. So they can make light of how we conduct our business; that is fine. And they get offended - they get downright offended if we don't follow their advice. Well, we chose not to. And again, I mention the Minister of Economic Development, who eloquently brought that point to fact yesterday - because we choose to do it right.

We choose to consult; we choose to build partnerships. I was reminded several times today about partnerships. That's what this government is all about, Mr. Speaker. It's about teamwork. It's about building partners. It's about listening to Yukoners. It's about getting about and into the communities. It's about talking to First Nations. It's about listening to elders. It's about listening to students. It's about listening to teachers. It's about listening to the public service.

The leader of the official opposition just reminded me that the teachers went on strike. It was a consequence of them not listening and respecting teachers, Mr. Speaker. We have had to build a lot of bridges. We have to build a lot of bridges, and we're going to continue to do it, because we're good at it. We listen. We have built a relationship again on the YPAS process. We have brought it back, and we recognize and respect the tenuous nature of keeping people at the table. But we have managed to do it, Mr. Speaker, because we know how to get it right. And we are moving forward with this legislation, because that's what Yukoners want. They want this out of the way. They want us to complete the task we said we would do. We're doing what we said we would do.

The Member for Kluane laughs. Well, I guess the member thinks it's a joke. Quite often, Mr. Speaker, we walk out of this House and the members opposite will say to me, "Don't take things seriously in there."

Quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, all members on this side of the House take government seriously. We take our jobs seriously. We take Yukoners seriously, and we'll continue to do that. We will continue to build that trust. And we're going to continue to find ways to have the public at large have a modicum of respect for politicians, and the opposition will benefit from that, because we're good listeners, Mr. Speaker, we're up front, we are open, and we are accountable. And we'll continue to do that because it's the right thing to do.

The Member for Watson Lake has for the last 20 minutes said, "Get it right." Well, under their terms of reference, Mr. Speaker, it's impossible because they didn't get it right. That's why, 18 months later, we're still talking about YPAS.

The Member for Whitehorse Centre is absolutely right. It takes time to build trust. And we are out there every day, seven days a week - members on this side of the House - talking to acquaintances, talking to the public. And we do listen, Mr. Speaker, and we do like to get all the facts and we do like to present all the facts in this House.

The presentation from the Member for Kluane, in his opening remarks, left a huge gap about YPAS and where it is now and why. He forgot to be open to the Yukon public about why YPAS is in trouble.

We have managed to get those people back, Mr. Speaker, but the members don't want to see success. They don't. They voted against the Parks and Land Certainty Act because, literally, they are against parks. They can't stand - and I do believe that, again, the Minister of Economic Development mentioned that you just can't cut off all government programs at an election. Yes, we do take on the responsibilities of the previous government for a short time. The fact of the matter is they can't stand it because they are now Liberalized. They are ours. They are ours, and every one on this side of the House is proud of that fact.

We're going to continue to build on the Liberal fall-off's feet, because we are open and accountable.

Every day, we come into this House and we are open and accountable, and we do get it right, Mr. Speaker, because we listen.

And we will continue to consult. We will continue to talk to all Yukoners. They don't like it, especially when we go in their communities. And they joke about the travel. Well, the travel has indicated that we have been out and about to the communities. We have been talking to, not only staff people in the communities, but frontline people, people who know what's happening in those communities. And we bring that knowledge back.

The result of that is that we get it right because we listen, and we'll continue to get it right.

I know that there are members on the opposite side - we have worked out problems outside these halls, and I continue to encourage those individuals to do that because we do listen. We want to work for the betterment of all Yukoners, at all times.

So, Mr. Speaker, we will continue to work in the way we have worked because it's a successful formula. And we are going to continue on our way - the Liberal way - of getting the job done.

Now, the members are chuckling on the other side because the problem is that they can't relate. They can't relate to the fact that we have chosen to go a different way than the way they were taking the territory.

Some Hon. Member:      Point of order.

Point of order

Speaker:      Official opposition House leader, on a point of order.

Mr. Fairclough:   Well, Mr. Speaker, the minister said he would like to bring his facts to the floor of this Legislature. I guess this is just friendly information to pass on.

I know we're right at the end of the day here, Mr. Speaker, but the fact is that the workplan, which was presented along with the protected areas strategy, lays out processes in the future.

Some Hon. Members:      (Inaudible)

Speaker's statement

Speaker:      Order please. Order please. There is no point of order and I would ask the minister to continue.

Hon. Mr. Eftoda:   It is a joke - see, Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what I was pointing out. It is a joke with the members opposite. It is a joke, and that is where we let down - all of us are reflected by that kind of conduct in the House, and we let all Yukoners down when that happens. That is very, very, very unfortunate, but they are professionals at that. But that is okay, because we are going to continue to move along the way we are moving, and it is the right course.

So, yes, we have a very good leader, we have strong ideas, we've got strong commitments, and we are going to continue to listen to Yukoners despite what the members opposite think is a joke. This House is not a joke, and we are here to react in a respectful manner and will continue to do that. The bottom line is that YPAS is a good thing, the Parks and Land Certainty Act is a good thing, and we will, for future generations, protect special places in the territory as a result of the partnerships that we have created through listening and consulting. So, we are going to move forward with the Parks and Land Certainty Act, because that's what Yukoners want. That's what they've asked for.

So, Mr. Speaker, I think that we on this side of the House are proud of the legislation. We don't trivialize legislation, as the Member for Watson Lake has suggested. We believe that it is a good piece of legislation and it's good for Yukoners and it respects the Yukon protected areas strategy.

Speaker:      Order please.

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

The House adjourned at 6:00 p.m.

The following Legislative Return was tabled November 21, 2001:


Canadian Council for Donation and Transplantation Indemnification Act: indemnification cost allocation to Federal and Territorial/Provincial Governments (Roberts)

Oral, Hansard, p. 2685