Wednesday, April 21, 2004 ó 1:00 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with prayers.
Speaker:We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
In recognition of Dental Health Month
Hon. Mr. Jenkins:On behalf of the House, I rise to pay tribute to Dental Health Month. This morning, Mr. Speaker, we all got up, we showered, we had breakfast, and we brushed our teeth. It probably didnít even cross our minds while we were brushing that April is Dental Health Month here in the Yukon and across Canada.
Locally, Dental Health Month is being recognized by the Yukon childrenís dental program and is a month-long reminder that all of us, especially children, need to remember the importance of regular dental checkups and good oral hygiene. This yearís national theme, "What you canít see, can hurt you", focuses on the hidden threats to our oral health, such as gum disease, root cavities, infections and oral cancer. Left unchecked, these threats can lead to severe pain, loss of teeth and other serious health implications.
Research shows that there may be a link between oral disease and other health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke, as well as pre-term and low-weight birth babies. Although researchers are just beginning to understand how these links work, evidence is mounting that a healthy mouth is essential for a healthy life.
Now, locally we are focusing more heavily on children and the Yukon childrenís dental program is undertaking a series of tele-health conferences this month with eight Yukon communities to raise awareness about detection and prevention of baby bottle tooth decay. At the same time they will be provided information on how to make good dental health choices for infants and children. There are reminders that we need to start with very young children to promote strong, healthy teeth.
We are fortunate to have a good dental health program for our children in the Yukon. If we, through this program, can build good, strong foundations for lifelong healthy teeth, we are making a positive contribution to healthy families, the foundation of our society.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Introduction of visitors.
Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Hart:I have for tabling the Government of Yukonís billing office space leases.
Speaker: Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Withdrawal of motions
Speaker:Before we proceed to notices of motion, the Chair wishes to inform the House of a change that has been made to the Order Paper. Motion No. 109, standing in the name of the leader of the third party, has been removed from the Order Paper as it is now outdated.
Any notices of motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Hardy:I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to provide funding to support comprehensive studies into the relationship between climate change and the increasing prevalence of infectious diseases among humans and animal populations.
I also give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to commit all forestry stumpage fees to which it is entitled directly to reforestation and silviculture activities in order to ensure the continued viability of the Yukonís forest resources.
Mr. Fairclough: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to establish an environmental endowment fund requiring resource developers to set aside a significant portion of their revenues to offset environmental liabilities from resource development.
I also give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the governments of Yukon and Canada to work cooperatively to ensure that renewable resource councils throughout the territory have the financial and personnel resources they need to fulfill their important stewardship role, as mandated in the Yukon First Nations final agreements.
Ms. Duncan: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House recognizes that
(1) a recent court decision has highlighted the need to replace the Whitehorse Correctional Centre and to provide adequate psychiatric care facilities in the Yukon;
(2) the redevelopment plan for the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, developed by the previous Liberal government, included such a facility; and
THAT this House urges the Yukon Party government to end its delay in the construction of a new Whitehorse Correctional Centre.
Mr. Cardiff: Mr. Speaker, I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House recognizes the negative impacts on the Yukonís environment arising from over-reliance on fossil fuels, particularly in the transportation of goods to the Yukon and Alaska; and
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to investigate ways to promote and encourage the use of biofuels in the northern transportation industry, including practices being adopted in other Canadian jurisdictions.
Mr. Speaker, I also give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to work with Yukon College to identify potential centres of excellence in disciplines such as circumpolar studies, climate change and sustainable resource development.
Mrs. Peter: Mr. Speaker, I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to provide stable, long-term funding and transportation support for community-based recycling and composting programs throughout the territory.
I give notice of the following motion, Mr. Speaker:
THAT this House calls on the Government of Yukon to provide funding support for Yukon students to participate in circumpolar exchanges and conferences related to outdoor and environmental awareness programs.
Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?
Is there a statement by a minister?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Psychiatric treatment and assessment
Mrs. Peter:I have a question for the Minister of Justice. Was the minister following legal advice or political advice when she refused to answer questions for the department she is responsible for yesterday?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The issue before the House today and question posed by the member opposite is one of an individual who was found to be not criminally responsible. That being the case, it is no longer a criminal justice matter but a health matter.
Mrs. Peter: My question is directed to the Minister of Justice.
In the case we raised yesterday, the Chief Judge of the Territorial Court strongly criticized the ministerís department for ignoring an earlier finding about the use of the Whitehorse Correctional Centre as a hospital.
For the record, Mr. Speaker, here is part of what the judge said last week: "It appears that nothing has been done since that time to remedy the situation. The kindest explanation for this inaction would be that the Justice department officials were asleep on their watch and did not read the D.J. decision ó unlikely."
Can the minister explain why her department continued to use "the hole" at Whitehorse Correctional Centre as a hospital long after the Supreme Court said it wasnít appropriate?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: What has happened shows that the system does work. I would encourage the member opposite not to revictimize this individual, because thereís a very good chance that this individual, given the proper care that heís receiving and will continue to receive, can be rehabilitated back into society and become a contributing member of our society.
Mrs. Peter: The Yukon public needs the Justice minister to be accountable for these questions. For the ministerís benefit, I will continue with what the judge said last week. "Another explanation would be that they were aware of it and with total indifference to the court and parliament and the plight of the mentally ill and handicapped chose to do nothing about it."
Thatís strong stuff. The judge is saying that the department deliberately defied the courtís findings for four years under this minister and under her Liberal predecessor. Again my question is to the Minister of Justice, not to the Minister of Health and Social Services.
Does the minister agree with the judgeís position, or will her department continue to ignore such very clear findings?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: No one is ignoring any findings anywhere. What we as a government have underway is correctional reform. Further to that, the Department of Health and Social Services board of directors, in conjunction with the Whitehorse Hospital, were examining a medical detox ward in the Thomson Centre. These are all initiatives that have begun under our government. Rather than revictimize the individual as the member opposite is doing, let me make it abundantly clear that this individual has been determined to be not criminally responsible. It is no longer a criminal justice matter; it is a health matter, and there is a very good likelihood that given the proper level of care, this individual can be rehabilitated and become a contributing member of our society once again.
Question re: Whitehorse Correctional Centre, segregation cell
Mrs. Peter:I have another question for the Minister of Justice, and this time I hope she gets up on her feet and answers to the people of the Yukon.
Weíve heard the Premier and the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources give their expert advice recently about what jails are and what they arenít. It has been quite enlightening actually. The fact in this House is that the buck stops at the Justice ministerís desk. Can the Justice minister provide any reason to justify using the tiny segregation cell at Whitehorse Correctional Centre as a hospital for someone experiencing serious mental difficulties? Yes or no?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Iíd encourage the member opposite not to revictimize this individual. The individual was charged criminally and he was determined by the courts to be not criminally responsible for his actions. That would put the matter over from a criminal justice matter to a health matter, and that has happened. The system is working as it was intended to work, Mr. Speaker, and Iíd encourage the member opposite to allow this individual to receive the treatment he needs, that heís now getting. Heíll end up becoming, in all probability, a very positive contributor to society once again.
Mrs. Peter: If the system did work, we wouldnít have to deal with these kinds of unfortunate situations, and if the Minister of Justice were accountable to the Yukon people, we would hear from her. In the D.J. v. Yukon Review Board case four years ago, the Yukon Review Board submission said this: "It is an understatement to say that this facility is less than appropriate to serve as a hospital for persons who are found not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder. Calling a prison a hospital does not change the nature of the facility from a penal environment to a therapeutic environment."
What part of that statement does the Minister of Justice not agree with, or does she have another explanation for allowing her officials to ignore it?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Once again, the member opposite is concentrating on the building and not the programming. The programming is the most important issue. Thatís why correctional reform has been started by our government.
Letís not revictimize this individual again. Letís allow the system to treat this individual. Letís allow this individual to, in all probability, get better with the proper treatment and become a contributing member of society once again.
Mrs. Peter: If this Yukon Party government were to address our social issues of the Yukon Territory, then we wouldnít have to ask these kinds of questions of them.
The Chief Territorial Court Judge was extremely clear in his findings: "In this case, it is self-evident that "the hole" in the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, normally used to punish inmates, is not and cannot be a hospital room. Such a designation would be inconsistent with the wording and intent of section 672.54 and the direction given by numerous Supreme Court of Canada decisions."
Will the Minister of Justice give a clear assurance right now that her department will comply with the judgeís findings and that the segregation unit at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre will not be used this way in the future?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Once again for the record, once an individual is found to be not criminally responsible, itís no longer a criminal justice matter: itís a health matter. This individual is now in the Whitehorse Hospital. The judge has determined he has to go into that kind of a program. The judge also determined earlier on that he was to be detained at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. We have to carry out what the judges instruct us to do. Thereís due process. That due process is being followed and Iíd encourage the member opposite not to revictimize this individual. Thereís a very good likelihood that, given the proper treatment, this individual will be reintegrated into society and become a very positive contributor to society once again.
Question re: Yukon Wildlife Preserve/Northern Splendor Reindeer Farm
Ms. Duncan:I have some questions for the Minister of Environment. Last fall, the minister spent $2 million purchasing the Yukon Wildlife Preserve. He is also in active discussions to purchase animals from a game farm facility in Carcross. He was approached in January by a third party, the Northern Splendor Reindeer Farm. The owners of this facility want the government to purchase their animals, and the ministerís response was a flat "no". Once again, Mr. Speaker, we have the Yukon Party demonstrating its double standard. We buy some game farms; we donít buy others. The Yukon Party has created this double standard and now has to resolve the problems that they have created. How does the Yukon Party government and the minister plan to resolve this double standard?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Letís talk about the reindeer for a minute. Iíd like to put on record some history behind reindeer. There has been a long association between man and the reindeer population, probably for 15,000 years. This relationship and livelihood with reindeer developed cultures of the nomadic people dependent on the herding and breeding of reindeer up to 4,000 years ago. This domestication of reindeer initially developed in parts of northern Asian regions and different regions. So when we talk about reindeer, we are talking about an animal that has been domesticated for many years.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, the minister who is acting for the Environment minister can try to dance all he wants on the head of a pin. The fact is the Yukon Party has created this mess. Theyíve created two lines: one for friends of the Yukon Party and one for everybody else. All the owners of the Northern Splendor Reindeer Farm want to know is why are there two lines? Why does the double standard exist? This government likes to interfere in the private sector and buy some game farms and turn around and tell other game farms the answer is no. We know the government has a double standard. Now explain that to the Yukon public. How are the Northern Splendor Reindeer Farm and the Yukon public supposed to deal with this government? If youíre in the right line, you get bought out. If not, you donít. Why is there a double standard and how is the government going to fix it?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I guess to start with, one has to again acknowledge the history behind the animals in question. Obviously there is a difference here. Again we look back on the traditional use of reindeer. The reindeer herding in Fennoscandia, for example, was a subsistent production strategy where products from the animals were used for food, clothing, transportation, et cetera ó very different from having animals on exhibit for the public to view. Today herding is mainly based on meat production with additional revenue from hard antlers, hides and for handicrafts. Again, this really demonstrates a clear definition, a clear boundary, between the two issues weíre talking about.
Ms. Duncan: That is not an adequate explanation for the public. The minister can try to blame everyone else or try to justify it. The fact is weíre in this mess because the minister went out and created a Yukon Party double standard. The government created a new policy of buying out game farms, but only if you happen to get in the right lineup.
The Yukon Party spent more than $2 million to purchase the Yukon game preserve. The minister has publicly stated that offers are being made to the farm near Carcross. Now itís ignoring a request to level the playing field. How is the government going to fix this double standard?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I would tend to believe that, to start with, there is just a real difference of opinion here. The member opposite appears to have one opinion, and thatís fine because everyone is entitled to their opinions.
This government acted on a recommendation, a recommendation to save the game farm by probably not only hundreds but thousands of Yukoners ó a request to save the game farm. I think that previous governments failed to act on it because maybe they didnít have the interest. I donít know. Or they just donít listen to the constituents and maybe thatís why they were replaced.
So it can go on and on, but this government has taken the step that they would listen to the public at large. We saved the game farm and thatís something that has been followed through on by this government, and we are proud of doing so.
Question re: Carcross-Tagish First Nation final agreement
Mr. Hardy: I am going to ask one of the ministers over there a question, and hopefully that minister will stand up and answer it instead of somebody else. The question is for the Premier.
I am sure that the Premier is aware that the parties to First Nation final agreements negotiate the processes that will be used to ratify those agreements. Did the Yukon government negotiators have a mandate from this Premier to oppose a ratification process used by the Carcross-Tagish First Nation, and is there any record of such an objection?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Not only is there no record of such an objection, there never was an objection. Due process was followed, as it always is in the ratification process. There was a ratification committee struck. Nothing has changed with the Carcross-Tagish First Nation ratification in respect to the other nine First Nations that have ratified. Neither will anything change for the other First Nations that are still in the ratification process. Thatís the process followed by Canada, Yukon and each respective First Nation that is in that ratification process.
Mr. Hardy: We do know that, after the ratification process of the Carcross-Tagish First Nation, the Premier seemed to have a big problem accepting that no means no. The Carcross-Tagish agreement did not get ratified. The federal deadline for settling land claims and self-government agreements in the Yukon has come and gone. The Premier may not be too happy with the new reality, Mr. Speaker, but that is the situation.
Weíve heard from a number of people in the past week who want to know what this means in terms of economic activity certainty, which is something the Premier has talked a lot about in the past.
Now that the Carcross-Tagish First Nation agreement has been rejected, what is the Premier doing to provide certainty regarding land and resource issues in that First Nationís traditional territory?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: The assertions of the member opposite regarding the issue of the land claim and the process are quite incorrect. Thatís not what happens at all. We have no emotional attachment to the process whatsoever. Itís not a question of being happy or unhappy. We merely stated the facts, and the facts are that, out of the eligible voters who cast a ballot, the majority of those voters who voted, voted in favour of the land claim. Secondly, we as a government said that we will await the First Nation leadership request of us, should there be one, on what the next steps are.
We as a government are also well aware of the fact that the leadership will take its time in dealing with its Elders Council and its citizens to determine what the next steps are, and the next steps may involve another process. We will allow the First Nation to do its work out of due respect. Unfortunately, the official opposition seems to lack that respect when it comes to First Nations.
Mr. Hardy: Well, I assure the Premier across the way that the NDP on this side has complete and utter respect for the First Nations of this territory, and our record speaks for itself, contrary to what this Premier has done in the past and especially after the ratification vote at the Carcross-Tagish First Nation, in which he criticized the process and he still criticizes the outcome. Now, since the Supreme Court of Canada made its ruling on aboriginal title in the Delgamuukw case, the Yukon governmentís position has basically been that it doesnít apply here because of the Umbrella Final Agreement. I realize the Premierís not a constitutional lawyer, but I hope he has sought out some legal advice since the Carcross-Tagish ratification vote was defeated. What is the Premierís understanding about whether or not the Delgamuukw decision on aboriginal title now applies to the Carcross-Tagish First Nation?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, first let me respond to an incorrect statement, the statement by the leader of the official opposition, that the government has in some way criticized the process. And if thatís the memberís position, I would submit that the member needs help, maybe some professional help, Mr. Speaker, because there has been no criticism. And I retract that statement.
Speaker: Thank you.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: But I was compelled to say it, Mr. Speaker. Furthermore, ó
Speaker:Order. The member knows full well that he shouldnít make statements like that. Iíd ask him to retract that and carry on, please.
Withdrawal of remark
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I retract that; I was lost in the moment.
Mr. Speaker, the issue here is one of a negative approach by the official opposition. The sky has not fallen. This government will work with First Nations in partnership, whether they have a settled land claim or not and, when it comes to the economic development of this territory, that means a meaningful full economic partnership. And the Kaska have a potential in their traditional territory for a forest industry. They will share in the benefits of the development of that industry. And if the Teslin Tlingit have the potential for resource development, they will share in those benefits. Champagne-Aishihik will share in those resource development benefits. We will continue to invest in Vuntut Gwitchinís capital plan. We are investing in the Kwanlin Dunís cultural centre on the waterfront. When we say a full partnership, we mean sharing in the benefits.
Question re: Dawson City sewage disposal
Mr. Hardy:I will lower the rhetoric a bit here. I have another question for the Premier. Since last Tuesday, has the Premier had any discussion with the federal government about the fact that the territorial government may be in breach of the transboundary water treaty of 1909?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: No, at this time weíve had no discussions with the federal government whatsoever, but the minister responsible in this area is certainly looking into the matter of why the City of Dawson, after spending $10 million plus has no sewage treatment plant. Thatís a huge issue. Thatís why the trustee was appointed.
Mr. Hardy: I think it has become very clear that how the Premier responds to any question is by attacking other people, especially people who cannot defend themselves.
Until last Tuesday, the elected Mayor and Council of Dawson City were the ones on the hot seat regarding the untreated sewage the town was pumping into the Yukon River. All that changed when the territorial government took over. I know the Premier has received correspondence from the Yukon River Intertribal Watershed Council on this issue. What is the Premier doing to address the serious concerns raised in the letter he received from the intertribal council dated April 15?
Hon. Mr. Hart: We have been working with the correspondent on the issue, and weíre dealing with the sewage situation in Dawson as we have been over the last three or four months. We are working the appropriate departments as well as our solicitors in coming up with a response to the tribal nations.
Mr. Hardy: Here we go back to musical chairs on who is going to answer the questions.
Now, Dawson is under court order to put in a sewage treatment facility by this fall. The Intertribal Watershed Council, which involves some 54 indigenous governments in Canada and Alaska, is taking this matter up with both Environment Canada and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencyís international office.
The Yukon government is swimming in some very deep water here, but the Premier has both the ability and the financial means to do something about the problem. Will the Premier now undertake to make the necessary funds available so that construction of an effective sewage treatment facility in Dawson City can begin this year? Yes or no?
Hon. Mr. Hart: As it was previously mentioned, funds were made available to assist the City of Dawson to build a sewage facility and we have not reached that particular venue. I would like to indicate that this government is committed to Dawson and Dawsonís sewage issue, and we are working very adamantly on this particular situation. We are trying to look for a reasonable and affordable solution for the citizens of Dawson and the Yukon taxpayer.
Question re: Dawson City, appointment of trustee
Mr. Cardiff: I have a question for the Minister of Community Services.
The Association of Yukon Communities is holding its annual general meeting and conference from May 13 to 16 in Haines Junction. Itís my understanding that the ministerís appointed trustee for Dawson will be in attendance.
My question for the minister: as the new representative of the citizens of Dawson, will the minister allow Dawson Cityís trustee to participate in the discussions at the conference, and will he be allowed to vote on Association of Yukon Communitiesí business and resolutions?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Association of Yukon Communities contacted the trustee and asked if he would be in attendance. The trustee will be in attendance at the Association of Yukon Communities conference but strictly as an observer.
Mr. Cardiff: Well, letís review the Municipal Act, then. We reviewed it a little bit yesterday and weíll review it again today.
Section 336.3 says that the trustee shall have all the powers and the duties of duly constituted council. Hence, you would think that he would be allowed to represent the citizens of Dawson. It also says in section 336.6 that the trustee must consult with an act on the direction of the minister concerning the affairs of the municipality. So, the minister is basically saying that he is directing the trustee not to do that.
What direction did the minister give his trustee concerning representation of Dawson City taxpayers at the Association of Yukon Communities conference?
Hon. Mr. Hart: For the member opposite, weíve just appointed a trustee. The trustee is still trying to get a handle on the situation in Dawson. He has pressing matters right now in front of him on this issue, and I believe, as I mentioned earlier, he was requested by AYC to attend to get some representation for Dawson City, and right now I think itís premature to figure out what he is going to do on behalf of the municipality. Right now I think he made a wise decision that heíll just sit as an observer.
Mr. Cardiff: Dawson City is a paid-up member of the association and the taxpayers of Dawson have paid that bill, including the Member for Klondike, and deserve to have a voice and a vote at the conference. Section 336.7 says the minister shall provide for the appointment or election of a local committee of electors who are qualified to be a member of council whom the trustee may consult respecting the affairs of the municipality.
Will the minister order the trustee to bring the appointed members of the advisory committee of Dawson City to the conference to provide valuable advice from the actual taxpayers of Dawson?
Hon. Mr. Hart: I will provide the following: the trustee is very busy right now trying to get a hold of the situation in Dawson. The trustee, in front of the citizens of Dawson, made a commitment that he would make a selection and recommendation of this committee. He also indicated the time frame in which that would happen. He also indicated he would be looking at that particular aspect and holding regular meetings as per a regular council process. He made that commitment. Okay? That is something he has made on his own to assist the citizens of Dawson to help out their situation.
I believe that heís doing a credible job and I think right now we have to give him the chance to do so.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
GOVERNMENT PRIVATE MEMBERSí BUSINESS
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS
Motion No. 254
Speaker:Government private membersí business, motions other than government motions.
Clerk: Motion No. 254, standing in the name of Mr. Arntzen.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Member for Copperbelt:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to continue to take a balanced approach to environmental protection and responsible economic development.
Mr. Arntzen: It gives me great pleasure to speak to this motion today. The Yukon Party candidates campaigned and won the 2002 election on forming a government that would protect the environment while allowing responsible economic development. This government is following through on this commitment to Yukoners.
The fact is Yukon needs to act on economic opportunities as they arise in a fair, businesslike manner to ensure investors feel welcome to this territory. A balanced approach is required; therefore, in our platform, during the campaign we campaigned on the following: in keeping with the 1992 statement of commitment by the Canadian Parks Ministers Council regarding the establishment of protected areas, establish a process that is the product of negotiation with all Yukon partners and stakeholders, which strikes a balance between environmental protection and responsible development.
We also promised to introduce legislation that would ensure Yukoners have safe drinking water ó we are following up on that; to promote the expansion of materials that can be economically recycled ó and we support the effort of recycling centres through the use of incentives for Yukoners, particularly youth, to recycle, reuse and compost; to allow forest harvest where there is an excessive fuel load, especially in our communities, and we are doing so.
We also campaign on promoting alternative environmentally safe uses of appropriate handling and storage of waste oil, which comprises bulk and hazardous waste produced in the Yukon ó we are following through on that; to reduce Yukonís dependence on diesel for electrical energy generation ó we are doing so; continue to support the initiatives of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation to ensure the integrity and protection of the Porcupine caribou herd ó we are doing so; sponsor the Whitehorse fishway and hatchery and continue to work with the Yukon Fish and Game Association in fish restocking programs. We also promise to support catch-and-release fishing as a management tool, to provide public education programs and proper catch-and-release techniques to reduce fish mortality, and we continue to oppose the federal gun registry ó also a hazard to the environment ó weíre doing so.
This means, in conjunction with a project application for development through an appropriate environmental regulatory process will address environmental concerns associated with that development. So, Mr. Speaker, it bears saying that the Yukonís environment is in no danger and we would like to keep it so.
Not only are there activities that may affect the environment on less than five percent of the Yukonís land mass, but the Department of Environment has compiled a list of Yukon and Canadian legislation, First Nation agreements and transboundary agreements that regulate and control environmental assessments of any development within Yukon.
The list contains no fewer than 10 pieces of Yukon legislation, 10 pieces of Canadian legislation and four boundary agreements. As I said, these pieces of legislation and these agreements establish safeguards, directives, controls, standards and processes for any impact on the environment for any project. Some people may even say that they overregulate projects. Thatís what some people say.
Again, this government believes that the existing environment processes are sufficient to ensure responsible development.
Accepting that, this government placed the badly flawed Yukon protected areas strategy ó developed by the 1996-2000 NDP government and proceeded with by the Liberal government of 2000-02 ó on hold. This action alone was like a breath of fresh air to free enterprise investors anticipating projects in the Yukon. This proved to be just a first step in creating the resource certainty promised to Yukoners during the campaign.
To maintain and improve the confidence of investors, it has been necessary to do the following: work with First Nation governments, the Government of Canada, the Department of Fisheries and other stakeholders to develop a new Yukon placer authorization to replace the one rescinded on December 16, 2002. Next it was necessary to complete devolution transfer, and this was achieved on April 1, 2003. To further increase investor confidence, and as part of the devolution process, a one-year hard rock mineral claim assessment holiday was provided, and we have just passed Bill No. 43 through Committee, extending the mineral exploration tax credit for a further three years.
These actions and putting the flawed Yukon protected areas strategy on hold have resulted in an amazing turnaround in mineral explorations in the Yukon.
Mr. Speaker, $6.9 million was invested in exploration in 2002, and a year later, 2003, over $13 million was invested, and it is anticipated that approximately $30 million will be spent this year.
Mr. Speaker, another commitment this government made during the election was to formalize government-to-government relationships with Yukon First Nations. Here again, this government is following through on its commitment to Yukoners. New agreements with Yukon First Nations are being worked at daily. Some of which that have been completed are: the memorandum of understanding with the Kwanlin Dun on the new Correctional Centre; a bilateral agreement on May 9, 2003, with the Kaska First Nation, and that agreement alone has resulted in an agreement between Ross River Dena and Teck Cominco, which will see hundreds of thousands of dollars invested on the R15 block.
Also, on March 17, 2004, a forest agreement in principle was reached between Kaska and Yukon for southeast Yukon, which will see logging go forward in this area for the first time in many, many years.
The Yukon government has committed $250,000 for the Aboriginal Pipeline Group in support of an Alaska Highway pipeline. The Yukon government has also committed $200,000 toward a winter road to Old Crow and another $500,000 for riverbank stabilization in Old Crow.
The road has now been completed and the machinery and supplies have been delivered to Old Crow, and the First Nation there is now preparing for the upcoming construction season. The Yukon government has also committed $300,000 for a Carcross-Tagish First Nation cultural centre and planning for this facility to proceed.
These are only a few examples of how this government is developing a balanced approach to the economy and the environment. This is in direct contrast with what the official opposition has in view. I direct you to a notice of motion brought forward in this House on March 25, 2004, by the Member for Kluane. It states: "THAT this House urges the Yukon government not to embark on any major sale of Crown land for private purposes and any major expansion of agricultural leases or any sale of title of mining claims or outfitting concessions until appropriate and effective regional land use plans have been developed and adopted throughout the territory." This would indicate that the NDP would like to see a complete halt to development in the Yukon Territory until land claims, protected areas and land use processes are completed. Obviously this has to be a complete non-starter. Yukoners need an economy and we cannot wait for those processes to be completed. They go forward hand in hand.
I will switch gears a little bit.
The Yukon, as we know it, is a territory with a lot of beauty and free-ranging areas for its citizens and animals alike. That would bring me to some of the protected areas in the territory that I believe we have a reason to be proud of and to protect the best that we can.
There are a number of existing protected areas in the Yukon, such as the territorial parks. I could mention a few, like Herschel Island, which was established in 1987; Coal River Springs, which was established in 1990; and the Fishing Branch and Tombstone are in the process of being established as we speak.
Also in the Yukon we have national parks. The Ivvavik National Park was established in 1984; the Vuntut National Park was established in 1995; the Kluane National Park was established in 1972. These are all fantastic, beautiful areas and need to be protected very much. I have had the opportunity of visiting Herschel Island, Tombstone and, last but not least, Kluane National Park, on which I could perhaps elaborate a little.
The area in that park is very near and dear to my heart. When I first arrived in this beautiful Yukon Territory back in 1968, my home was Haines Junction. As I drove into Haines Junction on an April afternoon in 1968, the sun was shining on the beautiful mountain range of the St. Elias ó it was quite a sight. I was very taken by that sight. I think the first thing I thought as I got closer and closer to the mountains was that, one day, I want to be up there and have a look. Itís a beautiful area.
Mr. Speaker, I got that opportunity a few years later in 1971. We were able, with the equivalent of what today is called the grant program available through government to establish and build projects and infrastructure ó similar to the CDF we have today ó to get the money together to build a ski trail from the Haines Highway to the beautiful countryside above the treeline of what is now known as Kluane National Park.
I should go back a bit. Prior to 1972, Kluane had a wilderness sanctuary and still does today, but part of that wilderness sanctuary was that part of Kluane National Park.
So when I first arrived there, it was a wildlife sanctuary and we had to go to the federal government to get permits to be able to cut a trail and get through up to those beautiful mountains. That was arranged, and with the help of a few citizens and individuals in Haines Junction, we were able to cut a trail and arrived up on top of the alpine area in the spring of 1971, I believe. But I tell you, Mr. Speaker, that was a view to behold. I will never forget that. When you turn around and look back over the valley, thatís a picture thatís in my mind and will be there forever. You could stand up in the mountains and overlook the beautiful Shakwak Valley, and as we got up higher and higher you could see more and more of the lakes and rivers, you could see the Kluane Lake in the westerly direction, Sulphur Lake, Pine Lake, Dezadeash Lake, and even a little tip of Kathleen Lake and all the beautiful rivers flowing in between, and the Dezadeash River and also part of the Alsek, and Haines Junction sitting in the middle of the picture. I consider myself very, very fortunate to have had that opportunity to enjoy that beauty of that park.
I have also travelled through the rest of the park and had the opportunity to climb and walk and ski through the mountain area, which I believe has one of the largest populations of Dall sheep in the world ó a magnificent, fantastic area to visit. Iíd like to encourage everybody and anybody who has the opportunity to go and enjoy that park and, for that matter, all other parks in the territory.
I could stand and talk about Kluane National Park for probably hours and tell stories about my experiences over the years since 1969, but Iím going to leave it at that. That is just one example of a fantastic park and a wilderness protected area, and there are many, many more.
In closing, I will just take this opportunity to reiterate the fact that this government will continue on its course of encouraging investment in the Yukon and developing an economy based on responsible development while protecting the environment.
This government sees this as the best method of deriving economic benefits for all Yukoners.
With that, thank you very much.
Mrs. Peter: I would like to respond to this motion before us by the Yukon Party government.
First of all, I would like to consider the comments the member opposite just made. The NDP like to have a balanced approach in all areas that we are concerned about. I believe that the Yukon Party government will definitely leave their footprint on the environment of our lands throughout the territory. The member opposite addressed some of the issues of the Vuntut Gwitchin people and one of the issues that he addressed ó he says the Yukon Party government supports us on the Porcupine caribou issue. I would like to ask the question: how? I have been asking for support in that area from this government for the last 18 months and we have had no financial assistance from this government.
The Yukon Party government likes to say that they have a great government-to-government relationship with First Nations throughout the Yukon and that they have done all their consultations in every respect. Theyíve put out a Yukon economic development forecast; they call it A New Direction. The only two words that I can pick out in this document in regard to environment are "economic environment" and "business climate".
Those are the only references that were made to environment in this document.
Mr. Speaker, if this government has such special relationships throughout the Yukon ó and I can speak more especially in regard to my community; I can say that I have seen a couple of the ministers in my riding in the last year, and I know that they have witnessed a couple of the public meetings and heard from the elders of my community. I know that the message was very clear at those meetings in regard to protection of our environment.
I would like to make that statement a little broader, Mr. Speaker, because I believe that holds true for most First Nation elders in the territory ó because of the history and because of their lifestyle ó that the land and animals are very, very important to our lifestyle and to our culture. To that end, the message to whomever is in government ó that message is always clear and it is always passed on in our language, which makes it more powerful.
And if you, Mr. Speaker, are a visitor in my community and one of our elders wanted to pass that message on to you, it would be done with respect; it would be done in our language, and they would offer you a translation of what was being said. That is the value of the very foundation on which we live.
I remember hearing this message as a young girl in our community, and I still hear that message today, that if we do not take care of our lands, our animals and our waters, we will have nothing. The messages that I hear from the Yukon Party government are opposite of those values. Right now in my community, Mr. Speaker, the weather is a little bit warmer, people are excited that itís springtime, and to tell you the truth, Iíd much rather be there than here, because people are going out on the land, people are preparing to go out to Crow Flats, and every spring, families make that journey. Every spring, families make those journeys to their camp.
They spend at least a good month and a half out there. The reason I bring that to your attention is that unfortunately climate change is having an impact on those lands. Some of the lakes are draining and drying, and that concerns the people, especially the elders. They see the change in behaviour of the animals out on the land. They see the change in the weather every year, especially in the wintertime. That concerns them, and thatís the message they bring to us as leaders of our community. Thatís the message that they would like us to bring to the rest of the territory and the world, because we are dealing with global issues. Right now thereís a group of students in Crow Flats. Theyíll be spending one week out there learning the traditions of our people. That is our way of life. Today the students live in the best of both worlds.
There is a cycle of life in my community, Mr. Speaker. This time of year people are getting excited, because weíre coming out of the cold weather. We look forward to May when the caribou migrate past our community.
People will again get their supply of meat. Then, by late May until the month of June, we have wild rhubarb and wild onions that we can harvest out along the riverbanks of the Porcupine River, and going into July, we look forward to picking blueberries and cranberries.
I bring those scenarios to this forum, Mr. Speaker, to help bring the message that these values are not only values of the Vuntut Gwitchin, but they are values of all people throughout this territory. We all are fortunate enough to live in a beautiful territory. We have our mountains, our rivers; we have clean air. Yet this Yukon Party government is introducing the biggest budget in the history of the Yukon Territory, bragging about it, saying and putting on the record information that is not true about the official opposition.
The Member for McIntyre-Takhini is waving his hands around in support of that. Good on him, but is it good for the people ó the grassroots people of the communities in this territory?
Does it address the concerns of climate change that have been out there for a number of years? Does it bring jobs in connection with our lands for the people out in the territory? Does it bring jobs for the young people who want to learn more about their heritage?
And once again, Iíll give you an example of hiring summer students in our heritage department in Old Crow. This gives a young person an opportunity to listen to the stories that have been taped. The elders share their stories in our language. And the young people of our community take this opportunity to help and translate those stories into English.
And, Mr. Speaker, this also addresses our concern about language. It helps them to sustain their language. It helps them to hold on to the stories of our people so that they may pass them on for generations to come.
What I have heard from the members opposite in regard to their budget and their plans and whatever vision they have for people is what I call a boom-and-bust economy. The Yukon has experienced that type of an economy before in many areas. I call it "here today and gone tomorrow".
Yes, while itís here, some people reap those benefits ó very few. Weíre seeing and witnessing that today with some projects happening around our communities. Weíre lucky to see one or two First Nation people working on those projects. Yet this Yukon Party government stands on their feet and says itís going to benefit every Yukoner. I think not.
Have they thought about the effects and the impacts of this type of economy that theyíre pushing for? We see a lot of the financial resources in the budget supporting the mining industry and the oil and gas industry, but nothing to create jobs in the sustainable fields, such as environment protection, wildlife habitat, managing parks or monitoring our rivers. What about the training in these fields? Thereís training happening now in the mining industry. What about the young people in our communities who would like to help preserve our environment?
They canít count on this Yukon Party government to help support them in that area. And they call that a balanced approach.
This motion urges the Yukon government to continue to take a balanced approach to environmental protection and responsible economic development. I wonder how responsible this government will be when one of those industries that they are supporting, financially and otherwise, leaves a big mess for somebody else to clean up.
I wonder if this Yukon Party government is going to stand by and support the young people of this territory in another 10 or 20 years when most of our environment is damaged through the mining industry and the oil and gas industry. Who is going to clean that up? Who is going to take the responsibility for that?
The legacy that we leave behind for our children, our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren is very important. What we have today throughout the territory is very precious and we cannot take that for granted.
There are many ideas. People are creative in this territory. There are so many other initiatives that can be supported to help our economy in this territory without having to tear up the land and leave unsafe places for our grandchildren. I believe that these initiatives can be addressed if the people of the Yukon were actually listened to. Again, Iíll use the example of visiting a community such as Old Crow and actually listening to what is being shared with you. Mr. Deputy Speaker, I do not support the motion that is before us, and in that regard, I would like to amend the motion.
Mrs. Peter: I move
THAT Motion No. 254, standing in the name of the Member for Copperbelt, be amended by replacing the word "continue" with the word "begin."
Speaker: It has been moved by the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin
THAT Motion No. 254, standing in the name of the Member for Copperbelt, be amended by replacing the word "continue" with the word "begin."
Member for Vuntut Gwitchin, you have 20 minutes on the amendment.
Mrs. Peter: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. On the amendment, I am urging the Yukon Party government, instead of continuing to talk about taking a balanced approach to environmental protection and responsible economic development, Iím encouraging them to begin, to begin today and, to that end, make sure that we do have the support in the next budget cycle to address those very issues, Mr. Speaker.
In his Budget Address to this House, the Premier starts off, and I look back to page 6 and itís focusing on strategic industries and projects, and it goes on to say how theyíre going to address that. That tells me, Mr. Speaker, that nowhere on their radar screen is environment a concern.
The next page that you come to that even has the word "environment" on it is page 39. That is quite a stretch.
Yet the Member for Copperbelt can stand on his feet on the floor of this House and tell the Yukon public that they have a balanced approach, that theyíre addressing these economic strategies in the area of environment. We have to be more careful in our messaging to the Yukon public. Because most of the population throughout the Yukon Territory lives in rural Yukon, and the only way that they receive their messages from this environment or from this forum is through their MLAs, through the local radio stations, and if theyíre lucky to get the local newspapers, then thatís how theyíll keep up to date ó but the bottom line is that what they hear from this Yukon Party government they may tend to believe. What they say and what they do are two different things. Thatís where we have to be careful.
Little simple words make a big difference. For example, the amendment that I just requested to this motion is urging the Yukon Party government to begin to take that balanced approach today.
Tell the Yukon people and take action. The young people in this Yukon Territory deserve that much from this government. We have many other economic areas and concerns that can be addressed. We have vibrant communities out there, and you tap into some of those resources that are natural. People in the Yukon are very skilled in many ways.
I know in my community of Old Crow, we grew up learning how to do beadwork at a very young age. I have shared that story in this House on several occasions. I am proud of that, because I was taught to do that by my mother and by my auntie. We did that ó we learned from the women in our lives at a very young age, not only because it was a necessity and a responsibility, but because we used that time as a gathering. During that time that we shared with the women of the community, they not only taught us about beadwork, they taught us about the responsibilities of life. Some of those teachings hold true today.
What about the other areas we can guide our young people toward ó the area of, say, managing parks, monitoring our rivers ó and the kind of training that they need to do those kinds of jobs. In north Yukon, we have Vuntut Park. We have two of our own people working in the park office in Old Crow. I know in the summer they hire three or four students who help them to gather information on various animals, various species of life and plants throughout the park, so that they can have that information on file.
And the young people who take these positions, Mr. Speaker, are very interested in that field. It gives them a goal for themselves so after they finish high school they might want to further their education in that area and then to go back home and work at the Vuntut Park office.
How about monitoring our rivers today? A few weeks ago, I went to an event at the Arts Centre. It was on the journey that was done on three rivers. Part of it is in north Yukon. These areas throughout the territory are very important to the First Nation people in those areas, whether it be Na Cho Nyäk Dun, Tríondëk Hwëchíin or Northern Tutchone traditional territory. Each of our areas have special places, and we need partnership from the government of the day in order to address the concerns that we have. We need the government of the day to partner with us to address those concerns.
Mr. Speaker, we donít need general statements to say that, yeah, weíre going to continue while there is nothing there to continue with in the first place. We need the government of the day to take action, to take action to say and do what they say theyíre going to do. If weíre talking about environmental protection and responsible economic development, then letís do it.
Because it hasnít started yet. Itís not there. They can brag about it, but it is not there. We need a government thatís going to take that action, thatís going to acknowledge that, yes, up in the traditional territory of Na Cho Nyäk Dun there are some rivers in that area that the people would like to protect. There are areas up in north Yukon that were very important to our people, and that includes Fishing Branch. The mover of the original motion made reference to that. We got that place protected today under the Yukon protected areas strategy. And, yes, we had our challenges, but governments of the day chose to work with the people of Old Crow to come to a solution. Yes, today we are proud that we have the Fishing Branch protected because, what do you know, right next door to that sacred site this Yukon Party government leased some land for development. We call that a balanced approach? Weíre very cautious. We are very cautious of that.
And, yes, this Yukon Party government has a great relationship, they say, with Vuntut Gwitchin. Itís because we make sure itís there. We make sure our concerns are heard. If you take that kind of relationship and make sure you have that relationship with people throughout the Yukon Territory, that is fair. That we might call balanced. But until we actually do what we say weíre going to do and not use general terms, then the people of the Yukon are not being treated fairly.
With that, Mr. Speaker, those are my comments on the amendment.
Speaker: Are you prepared for the question on the amendment?
Member for Mount Lorne, on the amendment.
Mr. Cardiff: Once again, the members on the opposite side of the House donít want to debate the motion. They donít accept the fact that we on this side have something to contribute to the motion through an amendment.
The motion said "to continue" and what we are saying is that we want them to "start". They talk about taking a balanced approach to the environment and to responsible economic development.
Well, letís look at what the Premier said yesterday. He said that when it comes to vision, vision is not in the rear-view mirror; vision is looking forward. Well, we want the Premier to look forward, and we want our young people to be able to look forward too. We want them to be able to look forward to having a place to enjoy wilderness and a place for recreation.
The emphasis that the government has put on the environment is, as my colleague, the Member for Old Crow stated, on page 40 of one of the longest budget speeches in the history of the Yukon. Weíve got the biggest budget in the history of the Yukon. Weíve got the longest budget speech in the history of the Yukon probably, and where does the Department of Environment end up? On page 40.
The big environmental highlight in the budget speech is a little over half a million dollars for the interim operation of the Wildlife Preserve. Well thereís a lot more to the environment than the Wildlife Preserve.
Yesterday the Premier also said that the official opposition is on record saying that before development takes place, all protected areas must be concluded. Well, Iíve got something to say about that, but I probably shouldnít, because then Iíd get called to order. But thatís not what the official opposition is on record as saying.
The Member for Lake Laberge says to read Hansard. I am reading Hansard. Thatís what the Premier said, and Iím telling the Member for Lake Laberge that heís wrong. I, too, went door to door during the election, and lots of people said that there is a need for balance between the economy and the environment and in resource development, and we need to begin doing that, and so does the government. So how do we do that? We can look at the governmentís economic development strategy; we can look at what they associate the word "environment" with. So theyíre going to begin to get business players in a more competitive environment. Well, thatís just what we need, Mr. Speaker, is a more competitive environment. They want business and resource development to compete with the environmental concerns that everyday Yukoners have.
Weíll try to get through this strategic economic development document that they presented with great fanfare. Look at all the examples they use in situations in adjacent jurisdictions. Where are they focused? Iím on page 5 of the blue book for those who want to follow along: "Alaskaís economy is poised for resource-driven growth after some flat economic performance." They talk about gold and oil prices and Prudhoe Bay oil reserves. The Northwest Territories ó they talk about mining projects and a third diamond mine. Alberta ó high commodity prices for oil and gas. Saskatchewan ó mining and agriculture. British Columbia ó they talk about weak exports of wood products. Do they talk about initiatives in those jurisdictions to preserve the environment? No, itís not in there. And what are the benefits of preserving the environment and how do you begin to achieve a balance between the environment and the economy?
Now the Premier said, and Iíll repeat it for the member, that the official opposition is on record as saying that before development takes place all protected areas must be concluded. Wrong. Thatís not what was said. Itís taken out of context or the words are misread. The approach would be to look at responsible land use planning before you move ahead with major development. Iím not saying that you canít have resource development.
The Premier has made a lot about trashing the Yukon protected areas strategy. The Yukon protected areas strategy was in place and protected areas were being protected. The areas were being created, and there was resource development going on. I was working on mining sites when that was happening. Iím afraid that I was; thatís just the nature of the trade.
There are lots of other areas in this economic development strategy, Yukon strategic assets ó nowhere in Yukon strategic assets is the environment mentioned or preserving the environment or anything to do with that. There are lots of things that need to be done in the environment. I donít see an emphasis on cleaning up hazardous sites. Lots of environmental damage has been done, and there are lots of sites that need to be cleaned up, whether they go back to the activities during the development of the Alaska Highway during the Second World War, or involve mine sites and other industrial sites in the Yukon that need to be cleaned up.
I think that we can build a portion of our economy ó and thatís needed around the world. Itís not just needed here in the Yukon. We can begin to build an economy by working on developing technology and work practices that will address the issue of cleaning up hazardous waste sites. And if you look at their economic development, they want to develop something around export. Well, thatís something that we can export: we can export our expertise in environmental protection, in cleaning up hazardous waste sites. But the primary focus in the economic strategy is based on developing resources and not on cleaning up after resource-based industries.
Another area of the economy that needs a clean, pristine and protected environment is the wilderness tourism industry. I have several constituents who work in the wilderness tourism industry, and they promote low-impact camping and wilderness experiences. I think itís important to note that they are being responsible and they are a part of the economy, and they are the ones who are beginning to find a balance between the economy and the environment.
Thereís a huge market in the economy ó and youíre importing the consumers but youíre exporting the product because those people come here and have a wonderful experience out there, on rivers, hiking in clean, pristine areas, and they take their experiences back to where they came from, wherever that is. It could be somewhere in Canada, it could be in the United States, it could be in Europe, it could be in Asia. But they take that back with them and tell their friends, and their friends come here to avail themselves of that. But if we continue along the path that the government is suggesting in their economic strategy to pursue and support a business environment ó thereís the "e" word again. The side opposite has a hard time with the "e" word. They donít like using it in conjunction with what we really need to talk about, in the context that itís used in the original motion. Now I think we need to begin to find a balance between the economy and the environment.
Also in the A New Direction economic strategy, in the summaries, thereís a section on investment.
Nowhere under the section that says "investment" does it say to invest in the environment. There are investments in the environment, as I stated, with the cleaning up of hazardous waste, responsible land use planning and areas like wilderness tourism. Thereís a huge potential for economic development and finding that balance.
Another place where the government has used the word "environment" is to promote an environment in which business risk-taking is supported. I donít think we should be risking the environment when itís our childrenís future and grandchildrenís future that will be affected. When itís gone, Mr. Speaker, it will be gone.
Resources are like money in the bank, to a large degree: theyíre there and, when theyíre gone, theyíre gone. But there are other places where you can find those resources, where you can recycle them, but when you destroy a river or you destroy wildlife habitat, it takes a long time to bring that back.
I think thereís a lot of opportunity out there for Yukoners in all sectors of the economy, and we need to begin to look at how we achieve a balance between the economy and the environment. And the government hasnít demonstrated that in its economic plan, and it has failed miserably to demonstrate it in the budget.
So I support the amendment and would encourage the members opposite to rise to the challenge and to get on with beginning to find a way to balance the economy and the environment.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Rouble: On the amendment, Mr. Speaker, I must begin by saying that Iím rather disappointed. I was looking forward to a good discussion today, one where we could discuss our philosophical points of view, because Iím sure theyíre different. There is certainly a pro-development side and a pro-protectionism side in our Assembly, and I thought we could come to some kind of consensus or meeting of the minds, but unfortunately I donít see that happening. Instead, almost immediately, weíre put forward or faced with another insignificant, meaningless amendment. And I have to ask: whatís the purpose of that? What is the purpose of amending this motion right now? Couldnít we have entered into a good, substantive debate about this? Couldnít we have reached a conclusion on this? Or is this just another ó I donít know ó legislative game of making amendments?
So letís take a look at the amendment, Mr. Speaker. The big thing is that it changes the word "continue" to the word "begin."
On first glance, Mr. Speaker, I thought, you know what? I can almost agree with that. Letís begin to take a balanced look at the environment and development. Because, you know what, Mr. Speaker? I donít think there has been a balanced approach to both the economy and the environment taken by the last two governments, because their approach certainly hasnít been balanced. It has been so skewed in the pro-environmental, pro-close-everything-down, pro-protectionist bent, that it has shut down practically everything in our territory.
How many hard rock mines do we have operating in the territory? Thatís right. I didnít hear an answer; I think there are none.
How many forestry operations do we have running? How many sawmills do we have running? None.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Rouble: The Member for Mayo-Tatchun says "nothing". Thatís right.
Itís because of the past actions of the NDP and the Liberals that industry has shut down. The members opposite are saying that there is nothing happening. And you know what? To a certain extent they are right. Itís because of the actions of the previous governments. The NDP and the Liberals have effectively put a stop to all development and all economy in the territory. Is that balance? I would suggest that it isnít ó it certainly isnít balanced. Itís unbalanced. There is none. Is that what theyíll be happy with? Will the opposition members only be happy when they can put up a gate at Watson Lake and say "Park Yukon"? Is that what itís going to take? Is that what they consider is a balanced approach? Because that frustrates the heck out of me, Mr. Speaker.
Because my economy, my Yukon, includes industry. It includes people working here. It includes people building a home, it includes people learning, it includes people growing and it includes people developing. That includes forestry, includes culture, includes tourism, it includes mining, it includes a balanced approach.
You know, the first speaker who moved the amendment made the comment that we had a protected area and then they proposed a development next to that. Now is that balanced? The simple answer to that question is: yes, thatís balanced. Thereís a protected area; thereís some development. Is it balanced if we just say thereís a protected area? No, then we have a protected area and we have no economy. We have no balance. We might as well close the gate behind us on our way to wherever because that is certainly not a balanced approach considering both the environment and the economy.
Now letís take a look at development. The Member for Mount Lorne commented the other day, "Oh, the Yukon Party ó theyíre going to leave 24 footprints." Well, we all leave footprints. All of us as human beings have an impact on the environment, including the Member for Mayo-Tatchun. He has an impact. I have an impact. We all, I would expect, burnt some fossil fuel driving here today. Thatís an impact on the environment ó
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Rouble: Yes, Mr. Speaker, some may have walked, but chances are they probably came from a heated home, which again uses energy. I think we have to come to the conclusion and accept the fact that we as human beings have an impact on the environment.
Yes, we have a responsibility to mitigate that impact, and we do. I think all of us, as we gain more knowledge, have taken more steps to reduce, reuse and recycle. Thatís proper; thatís what you do in a balanced approach, but it doesnít mean to stop everything.
We need a balanced approach. We need to mitigate our impacts, but letís look at some of the projects that are on the books. Weíve talked an awful lot about this budget and some of the projects in it, and one of the projects was the winter road to Old Crow.
Now, Mr. Speaker, that project certainly left footprints on the environment. You canít go from the highway to Old Crow without leaving a footprint. Were there steps taken to mitigate the footprint and the impact? Of course there were. We do that now. Itís part of responsible government, to mitigate the risks.
We put some footprints in; we changed the environment in getting to Old Crow. Now what are we going to do? Weíre going to crush some gravel. Well, thatís going to have an impact on the environment. Weíre going to go up, and weíre going to mine some rock and crush the rock and make gravel. That will irrevocably change the environment forever. That rock will not look the same ever again. Itíll be changed.
Then what are we going to do with that rock, Mr. Speaker? Weíre going to dump it in the water. Weíre going to dump it in the river to prevent the erosion. I might add itís part of our natural environment that rivers cause erosion. Thatís the natural flow of the river. It goes through; it causes some erosion; part of the bank falls in. Thatís the way nature happens.
But you know what weíre going to do? Weíre going to interfere with nature. We are. Weíre going to crush some gravel and dump it in the water to protect the town from falling into the river. We as human beings are going to interfere on purpose with nature to provide some protection for ourselves.
And the Member for Mayo-Tatchun is saying shame on me. From that, Mr. Speaker, I must conclude that the Member for Mayo-Tatchun doesnít want to see us go ahead with that project, and I expect that when it comes up in the budget that heíll vote against it.
I put it to the Member for Mayo-Tatchun to start a conversation with the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin about whether this is a good project or not, because I think it is a good project. The Member for Mayo-Tatchun, who seems to want to have a conversation more than a debate, said, "We did it too." Right. They interfered with the environment, and now the Member for Mayo-Tatchun is making another comment. Mr. Speaker, perhaps we should just close down debate today so the Member for Mayo-Tatchun and I can go and have a coffee and discuss this, because I think he is getting to the point of, "You know, youíre right; we need a balanced approach." We need a balanced approach; we as human beings are going to have some kind of an impact on the environment. Weíre going to change it. We canít just pull out the big sign that says, "Park Yukon. Visitors with telescopes are encouraged, but please donít step on the ground." We canít do that. We need some economy. We need some reasonable development.
Now, Mr. Speaker, just as my Canada includes Quebec, and I appreciate the diversity in that, my Yukon economy includes mining. My Yukon economy includes tourism; it includes cultural industries; it includes forestry; it includes oil and gas; it includes wholesale and retail sales; it includes this whole balanced approach.
So we need to work. We have a heck of a lot of work to do. The NDP and the Liberals put us in quite a situation, and I appreciate that the amount of work that they put into this canít just be undone in a year and a half, because they worked much harder than that to get us to where we are today. Itís a very disappointing situation weíre in today.
Now, the government has been working very hard to bring a balanced approach, despite the efforts of members opposite. We do have some legislation out there that speaks to a balanced approach. We havenít created legislation that says, "Thou shalt not conduct business." Thankfully, business is allowed. Weíve created many regulations that control it, but we do have a bit of a balanced approach. So to say we have to begin having a balanced approach ó I donít find any value in the amendment because we already have taken a balanced approach. We need to skew it a bit more to the development side because weíve certainly seen it skewed to the environmental and protectionism side from previous governments. We need to shift it back and we need to move the pendulum back. We need to bring responsible economic development back to the territory. But weíre certainly not going to begin starting today. Efforts by this government have been going on for over 16 months now to get this work underway, and previous governments have done it.
So I canít support this meaningless amendment. I just hope that it isnít an attempt by the opposition to derail what should be a meaningful, substantive discussion. The Yukon economy is a significant issue and we need to bring back a balanced approach to it, a reasonable approach, a sustainable approach. We can do that. Weíre doing that with our businesses, weíre doing that with our regulations; I think we need to do more of it.
Because of my opinions on this amendment, I really canít support it. Instead I think we should just get back to the main motion and have a thorough and vigorous debate on that.
Thank you for your attention.
Mr. Fairclough: On the amendment to the motion, I am quite surprised that the Yukon Party members on that side of the House donít have it in them to speak to this amendment and to speak to the motion ó they have spent very little time at it.
The Member for Copperbelt brought this motion into this House. Why? Well, perhaps the member had some inside information that we donít know about. Perhaps the Member for Copperbelt is a little paranoid at where his Cabinet is moving, in what direction his Cabinet is moving. Thatís why he is urging the Yukon government to do something, to take a balanced approach to the environmental protection and responsible economic development. He is urging his government to do that. So that tells me that the member has some inside information that perhaps this government is going the other way, away from environmental protection, and he should not keep that type of information from members on this side of the House. He should let the public know.
But I can understand the Member for Copperbelt in his approach to bringing this motion forward, because it is a concern that he has and we have, and many of the public have that exact same concern. So I thank the Member for Copperbelt for bringing forward this motion, although I was hoping that perhaps he would pay some attention to how he words a motion when bringing it forth to this House.
So far, we have not heard from the government side on how they feel that they are already taking a balanced approach between the environment and the economy.
Thatís why the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin made an amendment to change one simple word and ask government to begin to do this, because it hasnít happened. A year and a half into government and we havenít seen that happen yet.
I think the word "environment" is just such a foreign word; itís not one thatís being used by the government side at all. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, when you look at the Premierís budget speech ó and they brag about the amount of money for the environment thatís in there, when in fact itís for buying the Wildlife Preserve ó it skews the picture of what direction this government is really taking on the environment. The Environment minister fell asleep three minutes into the speech, but he woke up quickly when the Premier started talking about mining and oil and gas. His eyes opened and he was quite alert to that.
That tells us on this side of the House a lot about how committed this Environment minister is to Yukon and Yukonís environment, and thatís recognized by many people out there.
We on this side of the House have tabled a number of motions in regard to the environment. It must have triggered something among the government backbenchers to try to come up with some type of debate on the environment and the economy. Well, so far the Yukon hasnít moved anywhere when it comes to development. This government has been in power now for a year and a half, and itís strongly depending on things like the price of gold and precious metals rising. I know if the members opposite go in and talk to any mining developers or placer miners, their number one reason for going back out and working their claims is the fact they can get a return, and that return is on the price of gold.
If you look at the price of gasoline, that was a deterrent for them to go out and work their claims. So despite what the members opposite are saying ó that there are more jobs in the Yukon and theyíve been doing so well in developing this economic climate in the territory ó it hasnít happened. What the Premier and the members opposite are really relying on is help that has come, unexpectedly perhaps, their way. For example, Superstore opening, and Staples, and Wal-Mart, contributing to a number of, I would say, low-paying positions out there and not what Yukoners were used to in the past.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Fairclough: If the Member for Klondike would like to change careers and perhaps work in Staples, thatís fine. I think the general public would be very happy if he did that.
So what happened with the Yukon Party and their support for mining, for example? In the past I can remember when Curragh went down. Where did the support from the Yukon Party ó where was it at that time? Well, non-existent because they didnít support that mining company. They didnít support the assets to stay in the territory. It was the New Democrats who had to push hard to ensure that happens. Where was the support for BYG, for example ó the members are probably starting to recall all of this now ó when they wanted things like roadwork and that type of thing? Well, it was non-existent with the Yukon Party. So I would believe that perhaps the members opposite are trying to turn over a new leaf and leave some of their party positions behind.
Letís see what the Premier said not long ago, in 2000, when he was still on the government side. Back then, Mr. Speaker ó how can things change so quickly in his beliefs? Back then he said that the budget was balanced for the environment and the economy. At that time, of course, the Member for Klondike did not believe any of those words; neither did the member of the third party.
Well, now they are trying to make some political gains by being the champions of what? Development in the Yukon Territory? What, in fact, is happening ó and the members opposite know this ó is that they are saying the Yukon is open for business, at any cost.
Letís have a look at oil and gas, for example. Why are we getting such low bids when it comes to nominations? Not a whole lot of money is coming forward from industry to do that. Then this government says, well, we ensure that the environmental issues are taken care of when this type of thing happens. Well, I brought up a question in this House, and it was brought up by the Member for Kluane, about the environmental impacts of oil and gas development in the territory and the seismic work that was taking place. Well, this government did not think about something like that.
We have been getting calls to our party about ensuring that seismic work that has taken place along the Klondike Highway and the Campbell Highway and other small roads within communities has been dealt with. This government didnít even have the interest to go that route. Well, in fact, there could be environmental impacts, and the members opposite are just washing it away and not really bringing it the attention that it needs.
Mr. Chair, we brought this to the attention of First Nations, and they are very concerned about the environmental impact on fish, for example. And thatís what Iím referring to: the effect on fish eggs and so on. There might be nothing there. It may not affect the fish, but why not take the precaution and ensure that doesnít happen? Well, this Yukon Party just did not want to do that.
This Yukon Party has been very vague on the type of supports it gives when it comes to the calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou herd. They are not forthcoming with information about offshore development, with the Dempster Highway leg and so on. They are more interested in pushing through a railroad and a pipeline than really putting the Yukonís position forward ó unfortunate.
So the Yukon Party says they are for the environment and there is a balance. Well, letís count on our fingers how many contaminated sites this Yukon Party has ensured were cleaned up since taking power? Can they name off 10 of them? And I leave it to the members opposite to do that, to bring forward their positions on contaminated sites and tell us when bringing forward positions and documents in this House, like roads to resources, without even any debate at all with First Nations. It was going to coal deposits and looking at methane extraction without any debate in the Yukon Territory at all with Yukoners, just digging up some old maps and so on and bringing that forward.
What about the oil and gas development? When you look at all those things, in the short time the Yukon Party has been in, where is the balance? That is why the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin made the amendment and asked government to begin this work. Thereís nothing wrong with urging the government to begin this. I can understand where governments come from in trying to get things going because of the position Yukon is in, but not everything is looked at in the very beginning and thatís why weíre asking for this amendment. Weíre urging members opposite to support it.
Why not "begin"? If they say they have done it at the beginning, there is nothing wrong with adding the word "begin" in this motion. As a matter of fact, for Yukon Party members, it would be a very strong message to go out there. Letís begin to do this work; letís work cooperatively with the environmental community; letís do that along with development; letís look at past studies that took place and not just go out and do another one, because weíre just delaying things when that happens.
Whatís wrong with looking at documents that had extensive public consultation, like the protected areas strategy? The Liberals said it was a flawed process. The Yukon Party said it was a flawed process. Itís a strategy, like the forest strategy, which could be improved at any time. Those strategies can be improved and they have to keep up with the times. Why not do that, Mr. Speaker, and make improvements to the protected areas strategy?
I know the members opposite believe in protected areas of some form for our ecosystems. I do believe that. And why not voice it?
I donít think the party is going to jump all over the members for voicing that. First Nations really certainly have. They built special management areas into the final agreements. If we cannot do this, at least build special management areas into the final agreements. Thatís where itís at. As a matter of fact, they went beyond that. Hereís an area that needs to be looked at; letís work on it. The Member for Klondike knows that. Take Fishing Branch for example. That was a result of a final agreement. The end product was because it was begun by a final agreement. The Tombstone Park was because of a final agreement. As a matter of fact, First Nations gave up a lot when it comes to places like Tombstone. They gave up a lot of protection. Just go back into history and look at interim land protections that were given up basically to developers. In the end, what the Tríondëk Hwëchíin did was negotiate Tombstone Park and the development management plan. And what do we do? The Tourism minister is very proud of it. Yukoners are proud of it. And we promote it. We brag about it. Itís a beautiful place. Itís a destination for tourists.
What about Fishing Branch? How much do people really know about that and how beautiful a place this really is. Have the members read the protected areas strategy? I believe a document would be hard to find among the members opposite.
And another quick thing about the protected areas strategy: the Yukon Party is using that as a scapegoat to say that the economy is down because of that, because of an action of the previous government. Well, can any member on that side of the House tell us what the stumbling block was before YPAS? We can kibitz. Does anybody know? No, they donít.
It was a development assessment process before that. So, what is next after YPAS? There will be something else, Iím sure, Mr. Speaker. I am hoping that the members opposite will take this more seriously and look at how everybody can work together in trying to develop Yukon in a responsible way.
So letís begin. I want to see the Yukon Party support that amendment, and letís begin to do that now.
Ms. Duncan: I am pleased to rise to speak to the amendment, which addresses the motion. I have been listening to this debate quite attentively, and I must say that I am concerned that the Member for Southern Lakes characterized the amendment, or stated the amendment, to be frivolous. He was looking forward to such an enlightened debate, and how on earth can anyone bring forward a frivolous amendment to such a motion that has been brought forward by the Member for Copperbelt?
Well, Mr. Speaker, the fact is that we are all elected to be here by Yukoners. We all have opinions and we all have the right ó nay, the responsibility ó to share not only that opinion but also the results of our homework, our research, our thoughts and our party opinions.
The Member for Vuntut Gwitchin, who brought forward an amendment, is quite right: the Yukon Party has not begun as yet to recognize the balance that is necessary. Thatís obvious from the endless information presented and opinion presented by the members opposite about their understanding of YPAS and Canadaís endangered spaces, and the background and the history.
You need to know where we have been to speak about where weíre going in the future. And where we have been is under a Yukon Party signing on to a national commitment ó a national commitment to the Yukon, signed on by the Yukon Party. Oh, but, no, itís other governmentsí fault. Other governments tried with all Yukoners.
I can distinctly recall the current Member for Mayo-Tatchun, as minister responsible for the environment, standing in this House, indicating how the Yukon would fulfill a commitment made by a previous government, a commitment to Canadaís endangered spaces, outlined a process and outlined it as an 18-member committee, and thereís a story in there about trying to design an elephant. It was extremely difficult. But the fact is that Yukoners must decide what areas we protect and what areas we develop. Itís Yukoners who have to roll up their sleeves and do the hard work of making those decisions in a balanced, responsible way, recognizing this territory wants economic development ó absolutely. We have a very proud, very rich mining history. We have the potential for a tremendous oil and gas industry. We have tremendous potential in other areas. We also have world-class wilderness places that we as Yukoners have said we donít want to disturb; we donít want to leave a footprint that changes that wilderness place. So we tried. The previous government tried; the NDP government tried, and we reached some agreements. Fundamentally, we also recognized that we have to include, as part of the Yukon protected spaces, if you will, those that are protected under final land claim agreements.
The Member for Mayo-Tatchun mentioned Tombstone. I will remind the member opposite, who spoke of the mining industry, that it was Archer Cathro that gave up their claims in the Tombstone, willingly and voluntarily, and said, "We donít want to go there." As the prospector who had been involved with staking those claims said to me, "Pat, we just recognized there are some places in the Yukon you just donít want to go ó your children and our grandchildren will want to see those places."
Itís about balance and working with Yukoners and recognizing the need for balance. The Member for Southern Lakes said, "Oh, well, there were no operating mines under previous governments." Well, how many mines were opened under the Yukon Liberal government? One. How many mines have been closed under the current Yukon Party government? One.
There has been a permitted mine in the Yukon, ready to go; the issue is investor, not the protected areas strategy. I would encourage the members opposite to step aside from the political spin of the protected areas strategy ó step aside from that and look at the facts. Look at the agreement signed on by the former, former, former ó the Yukon Party government of the day. Look at what was trying to be accomplished. Donít denigrate the hard work of those Yukoners who sat through endless, endless, endless workshops trying to do the hard work of agreeing on what areas to protect, what areas to set aside, and where responsible development should occur. They have an opinion, they did the hard work, and weíve tried to work with that work. Weíve tried to recognize their efforts, their differences.
So we slowed down and said, "Letís do this process by recognizing that we have to deal with those areas set aside under the land claims first." Letís deal with, most importantly and fundamentally, certainty for people, for prospectors, for developers, for those who care deeply about the special places in the Yukon. There is no harm, no foul, in suggesting that the Yukon Party recognize that they need to begin this process. Theyíre not continuing the work. There has been an abysmal lack of attention paid to the environment under the current Yukon Party government and that need for balance. There hasnít been a balance reflected. In their new, wonderful road map for the economy, whereís the word "environment"? Oh, itís business environment.
The Yukon not only has a proud mining and development history, we also have a proud history about our environment. Our tourism statistics ó people come here because of the environment, in part. We live here because of our access to the environment. Itís about quality of life. How many of us ó I donít want to use the word "brag", but I canít think of a better one ó say when weíre travelling Outside how wonderful it is to step out our back door and be able to ski in the wintertime, to be able to go less than 30 minutes to our favourite campground with a natural lake that is not polluted by excessive use of watercraft and is essentially a pristine wilderness environment so close at hand?
If we donít recognize the balance, we will lose it. We need balance. We need to welcome development, we need to protect areas in the Yukon, and we need to do so with a balance, recognizing that both can coexist. Fundamentally, that needs to be done with Yukoners making the decisions and Yukoners collectively agreeing ó and consensus is not an easy thing to achieve. Witness us trying to reach agreement on Wednesdays sometimes. But it can be done and it should be done.
That kind of work, that striving for balance, should begin with the Yukon Party. It hasnít yet. So "continue" is simply the wrong word to use.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: The Finance minister has made another incorrect statement. Well, it may come as a complete surprise to the Finance minister, but everyone in this House is entitled to an opinion. The opinion that is expressed door to door, when I visit with my constituents, has always been ó since 1995, when I first started going door to door ó that we need to do appropriate land use planning, we need to strike a balance between development and protecting places. Successive governments have tried to do that.
Unfortunately, the current Yukon Party government has not yet accepted that the environment is also important to Yukoners. They have paid scant attention to it. The amendment draws their attention to it and encourages the Yukon Party government to recognize and to begin to work in a balanced fashion. For that reason, I would concur with the amendment.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Cathers: On the amendment, Mr. Speaker, it has been very interesting listening to the spin from the members opposite. The members opposite have exercised ó or I should say displayed ó a pattern in this House of continuously failing to acknowledge the positive achievements by this government. No matter what they be ó whether they be the economy, the environment, First Nation relations, social programs ó anything that this government has done, any positive steps, any positive achievements are continuously either ignored by the members opposite or they claim that it was all their idea in the first place ó followed by which, of course, they claim that we never listen to anything they say. A very interesting line of debate or interesting argument is that the only good things in our budget are from them, and thatís 95 percent of the budget, and then they turn around and say we didnít listen to them on anything. Both of those stories cannot be true and, frankly, I donít think either of them are accurate, Mr. Speaker.
But on the amendment, the amendment was that we should "begin" a balanced approach to the economy and the environment. Mr. Speaker, this government has taken steps to form a balanced approach to the environment since before our election. Our election platform includes the basic framework, and we have continued to act on those commitments, Mr. Speaker. Balancing the economy and the environment was the main election issue in my riding, Mr. Speaker, and itís my understanding that it was the main issue in virtually every riding of this territory, if not every single one.
Yukoners wanted to see an economy developed. We looked at the numbers, and itís very clear the two previous governments did a very good job of driving the private sector from the territory. They can argue against it all they want, but I would suggest the numbers make that very clear.
The Yukon protected areas strategy was identified by the majority of industry, by almost every industry group, as being the single biggest issue preventing development of the territory, preventing economic development, preventing economic growth, and yet the members opposite ó the NDP and the Liberals ó still fail to acknowledge that. They say, "Oh, industry doesnít really know what theyíre talking about." They think they know. Industry doesnít know anything ó the people who deal with the government indecision, who deal with the problems faced by government, waiting forever for them to come up with a strategy, to decide what theyíd like industry to invest in and where theyíre not welcome.
The members opposite think they can take forever to make up their minds and that industry should be waiting to knock on the door of "Park Yukon". Mr. Speaker, when industry players consistently identify one problem as being the biggest roadblock facing them, why would you ignore that? The NDP did and the Liberals did. This government listened to what industry had to say.
The opposition continually raises the spectre ó the story ó that members on this side of the House just want to open everything up, develop everything, pave it all over and rip down all the trees and turn it all into a parking lot or something of that nature. That seems to be their attitude and suggestion of how we approach the environment.
Mr. Speaker, our platform said very clearly ó and our government has said consistently since election ó that we believe in the need to balance the economy and the environment.
It is the first section in the Yukon Party platform upon which the Yukon citizens elected us in the fall of 2002 ó the very first commitment, the very first section of the platform ó which includes things such as working with industry and the federal government, seeking participation of the resource sector industries on ways to encourage new investment and stabilize current investors, develop a resource permitting regime thatís on par with other jurisdictions, and working with First Nations to promote resource development for the mutual benefit of all Yukoners.
Why does the opposition fail to acknowledge the positive steps of this government? Every day in the newspaper they criticize us for mistakes made and mistakes they say we have made, and many times the arguments made inside this House and outside this House by the members opposite simply do not reflect the facts or the real situation. They create issues out of nothing and criticize this government and yet they fail to acknowledge the positive steps and pretend that they never existed. Itís very interesting. Personally I donít think itís responsible and I donít think most Yukoners think itís responsible.
The NDP and the Liberals not only drove the private sector out of the Yukon, they drove about 4,000 people out of the Yukon. The Yukon population went from about 34,000 in 1996 to under 30,000 in 2002 when this government took office. Thatís a pretty strong indicator of the direction of those two governments. Unemployment during that period under those two governments ballooned. It ballooned to about 10.5 percent in 2002. And itís a pretty clear indication, Mr. Speaker.
Since this government took office, unemployment has fallen to a record low of six percent in March of this year. This is following the first increase in the Yukon population in six years, but the opposition says this is nothing. The removal of the protected areas strategy ó which is a very badly flawed approach to protecting the environment ó was a key sign to industry that the Yukon was open for business. Not open to business at all costs, as the members opposite suggest, but open to responsible development.
That was said very clearly in our platform and said very clearly by us during the election campaign and since: we are open to responsible development. We must review the environmental impacts, and government does and will continue to do so.
To suggest that we should "begin" balancing the economy and the environment, rather than "continue", simply is not reflective of the facts. It is another example of the opposition NDP and the Liberals spinning everything this government does into a negative.
Mining exploration ó from $5 million just a few short years ago to over $13 million in 2003 ó more than doubled, yet the opposition says thatís nothing. They ask what our record is on creating new mines. Well, do they not realize that it takes time to begin the development of a mine? The massive increase in mining exploration shows that industry is once again considering mining in the territory.
But these things donít happen overnight, which is something the members opposite fail to recognize, because this is part of their continuous demonstration of a failure to understand almost anything about how the private sector works. Itís disgraceful, in my opinion.
I had two people, now constituents of mine, who said to me during the election that they had consistently been NDP voters. One told me he had worked on a number of campaigns, yet they were not going to vote for the NDP. They were going to give me and the Yukon Party a chance. They were concerned that we might go too far in terms of allowing development. But both recognized that the NDP had gone overboard in the other direction and had locked everything up and had shut the Yukon down. They knew that going down the path of an NDP government was certain disaster for the territory, for young people in the territory looking for work, or for anyone looking for work.
The removal of one of the Yukonís key industries, the effects on other industries, and locking up the land base does not just affect mining or forestry ó again, something the opposition fails to recognize. It affects the entire picture of the private sector and it affects every Yukoner in some way, shape or form.
Before this government took office, Yukoners were joking that the last businessman out should turn the lights out. We saw mining companies that had invested in the Yukon going to countries where there were ongoing civil wars and unrest because they were safer than being in the Yukon under an NDP or Liberal government.
Mr. Speaker, one of the key things that was identified during the election campaign and before was the need to develop timelines and to communicate those timelines to industry of how long it would take them to receive a yes-or-no decision on their application to put a mine in place. That has not been the case.
The record of the NDP and the Liberals, as I said, was so abysmal that two historic NDP voters told me that they were voting for me and that their spouses probably would vote for me as well. And those are only the ones who told me that they were hard-core NDP voters. I had a number of people who were what you might identify as swing voters or soft voters, one way or the other, who told me that they were considering the Yukon Party, because they saw that the record of the other two parties, while governing, spelled disaster for the Yukon and did not work. We have moved forward since that point, because words are not enough. We are moving forward. We are balancing the economy. We are balancing the environment. We are working with First Nations; we are working with Yukoners; we are working with the federal government to put in place sensible resource permitting regimes. We are dealing, of course, with federal legislation, the Yukon Environmental Socio-economic Assessment Act, which is coming into force and effect later this year. We have to be aware of the limitations that that places on us, but we have been working with all stakeholders on this to move forward to try to ensure that the federal government gives enough time and enough fair consultation that the regulations developed are proper and are fair. Balance is necessary.
I would like to state clearly and unequivocally, which I believe I have before in this House, that devastating the environment is not acceptable. Itís absolutely unacceptable. I can tell you that every member on this side of the House agrees that environmental devastation is not acceptable. But the NDP and the Liberals fail to recognize that an economy can exist without environmental devastation. The attitude that they have taken is to lock everything up, they know that nothing is going to happen; thereís going to be no damage. Well, theyíre right. Thereís going to be no damage, except to Yukoners.
The Member for Mount Lorne was standing up as an expert on wilderness tourism and its needs, and I would like to remind the member that I grew up in a business that my parents started and have been involved in that sector since just after I could walk, I guess. I wonít dwell on that area, but Iíd like to remind the member opposite that a balanced approach is brought to the table. It involves the tourism sector. It must involve tourism. It involves all areas of the economy. And these things are considered.
The importance of the environment to a number of industries, such as tourism, is something that this government is very keenly aware of. The importance of the environment to Yukoners is something that the members opposite fail to recognize ó that the environment is important to most private businesspeople just as much as it is to any person employed by the government or who is unemployed. Most of us are in the Yukon because we love its natural beauty, because the freedom and the wilderness are important to us. We donít want to see this area spoiled or turned into a parking lot. We donít want this to become a heavily developed area like some areas in southern Canada and the northern United States.
But, Mr. Speaker, I would urge the opposition to look at the figures on what percentage of the Yukon is protected and what part is developed.
The Yukon has a land base of 483,450 square kilometres. The three national parks and the existing territorial parks alone protect over 44,033 square kilometres. That is not considering the special management areas set up under First Nation final agreements. Itís not including those or any other means of protection. Thatís a pretty high percentage already.
We have made it clear, as a government, that itís not just about percentages brought forward by some southern groups. There are commitments regarding percentages of the land base that should be protected, and we respect commitments that are in place; however, that seems to be the only thing that the members opposite recognize.
We have always said that we will take action to protect any areas ó an example being Coal River Springs, which are identified as being unique or sensitive. But the opposition seems to be urging that 12 percent of every ecoregion ó or perhaps the number is more now ó be locked away for representative protection, when many of them have literally no footprint ó little, or no footprint ó of human activity on them.
Certainly, no one would argue that it should be left until there is barely any land left or that we should leave it until the last minute, but, Mr. Speaker, there is a big difference between protecting the first 12 percent and protecting 12 percent after there has been some development.
To simply just look at a map and decide thatís the area weíre going to protect, when itís not based on anything, is just ridiculous. Thatís the same method the former Prime Minister, Mr. Chrétien, said he took when flying over the Yukon with his wife. She said how beautiful it was and he said on national TV how he consulted with the Minister of Indian Affairs, which was himself, and the Minister of Parks, which was himself, and they all agreed, so he said, "I took my pen and I filled out the map and I wrote on it and I made a park." Thatís not sensible; thatís not responsible.
We have to protect the Yukon, but even without parks there are a number of regimes, such as the land application process and the environmental review, that do provide protection and do assess environmental impacts.
I have quite a bit more to say on this topic, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but youíre signalling to me that my time is up so I will thank the House for its attention and urge the members of this House to vote against this amendment, which I believe does not recognize the facts that this government has been balancing the economy and the environment and is a continuation.
Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
Deputy Speaker: Are you prepared for the question? Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Some Hon. Members: Disagreed.
Deputy Speaker: I think the nays have it.
Amendment to Motion No. 254 negatived
Deputy Speaker: Is there any other debate on the main motion?
Mr. Hardy: I think Iíll take a slightly different twist to the debate that has been happening today. I think Iím going to reference an editorial that was written, and itís from the Centre for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard Medical School. Itís quite a fascinating editorial.
Itís about emerging diseases that seem to be threatening various places around the world, various food sources, different cultures, and even within Canada, some of our waterways, agriculture and even some of our cities and issues that weíre starting to see rise in the Yukon.
Iím hoping that the Minister of Health and Social Services listens closely because I believe there is a motion we brought in that points toward some effort being made in trying to identify some of the serious consequences we may be facing down the road with respect to emergent diseases. Weíre not immune to them in the Yukon. We might feel that at times, but we are not immune to them. They are carried by the air, by the travels of people and by the animals shipped here, whether itís chicken or beef, and now theyíre carried by the vegetables we often eat. Itís a problem thatís growing on a regular basis.
Not only that, itís also now within our food chain in the Yukon. The elders throughout the Yukon are very concerned. Theyíre starting to see more illnesses that are spreading in our system. Itís going to have a profound effect down the road on the people of this territory. Even beyond that, itís going to have a profound effect on the world.
Now, in April 2003, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) appeared suddenly ó and I mean suddenly ó sending shock waves throughout the public health system and economies worldwide.
"By July 2003, 8,439 cases had been reported worldwide, with 812 deaths, and the economic impacts were estimated to be $50 billion to $100 billion."
What Iíll do as I reference some of my notes here is also reference some of the costs, because we are talking about the environment and the economy, and they do go hand in hand. No matter how much the Yukon Party wants to separate them, no matter how much spin we hear in regard to this, we cannot ignore the very serious consequences that are going to be facing the Yukon and the human race down the road. And development cannot continue in the manner that it has enjoyed in the last ó the Industrial Age, say 100 years, in the manner in which they are accustomed to. It cannot continue, because our biodiversity, our biosphere is changing, and changing at a rate and changing in such a manner that, on a humanitarian level, is going to be very serious, and on an economic level, is going to be exceptionally expensive.
Now a lot of the public attention was focused on this very explosive pandemic that happened. But we have to recognize that more than 30 brand new diseases have emerged since 1976 ó brand new to the medicine we have today. These are brand new diseases, Mr. Deputy Speaker. What has been noticed is that it is accelerating. In 1976 we saw a new disease arrive; it was brand new and we didnít know how to deal with it. It was totally new to the scientists of the world, and it caused death. The next year we saw another, and in the last decade we have seen them multiplying and increasing.
For any person in here, I believe we all want to be able to live a long life, a healthy life, and we want to enjoy our retirement. We want to be able to take those walks in the woods, to canoe the rivers, to hike the mountains, to swing our clubs on the golf course ó Iíll leave myself out of it ó to be able to do that knowing full well that the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat are of a quality that ensures we have a long life and a healthy life, knowing full well also that our children and our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren will also share in the tremendous opportunities we have and the health we have.
Unfortunately thatís changing, and itís changing now and itís changing today. You hear on the news that the leading cause of death in Canada is going to be cancer within a year. Now this is replacing heart disease. That does not mean that heart disease is dropping. On the contrary, heart disease continues to climb. What it means is that cancer continues to grow, and weíre seeing cancer showing up in younger ages than ever before. Weíre also recognizing that many of the cancers are preventable through lifestyle, whether itís smoking ó probably the leading cause of death in men, I believe, will be lung cancer. Many of them are starting to show up from the illnesses within our environment. We take that in, whether we breathe it, eat it or encounter it through our workplace ó thatís whatís happening.
In the past three decades, previously unknown diseases have surfaced at a pace without precedent in the annals of medicine.
These increases have a tendency, at times, to create panic within a society. The problem is that panic exists because the diseases are running ahead of our ability to deal with them, and people know it. The scientists are not able to address the diseases as they arise.
Weíve witnessed some of them in Canada. I just mentioned SARS. We are all very familiar right now with what is happening in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia with the avian flu virus that is going around there. I could be dating myself a few days back, but Iíve heard that up to 19 million chickens have now been slaughtered, and they still do not have control over it.
Unfortunately, we are also hearing that some people are trying to smuggle those chickens out, which would, of course, spread the disease even further. I heard that on the news just the other day. Unfortunately, that is quite shocking, because this is something that we have to stop. This is a food chain. This is what we eat, and this comes into our bodies.
Now, human practices, widening social inequities and changes in our ecological systems and climate are compounding and conspiring to unleash a barrage of emerging diseases that affect humans, livestock, wildlife, marine organisms, and the very habitat we depend on.
As the climate becomes more unstable, its role increases. Unfortunately, we have underestimated the rate at which climate would change. We still do not understand the biological systemsí responses to warming. But what we are seeing is more and more disease, more and more sickness and more and more people who are in need.
We see this within our health system. There is no question about it, it is being used more and more and by younger people, often, and by illnesses that we can no longer categorize. Iíve gone to the doctor, I think it was about a year and a half ago, and they couldnít figure out what was wrong with me. I felt really, really sick but they could not locate it. They did tests ó they did blood tests; they did all that.
Theyíre not sure, and the doctor told me very clearly that they are not able to keep up with whatís coming through the door. They do not have the ability to identify a lot of the illnesses. The flus alone continue to evolve and change and the medicine they have to deal with them now is not adequate in many cases. The flus themselves are becoming stronger and more detrimental to our health, to the point that people are dying from them. The colds that we experience seem to have increased and develop into other types of diseases. Some people have a cold for months and months, and then they swell up again.
Of course, when youíre feeling like that, you do use the medical system. You do have a cost to our system. A lot of this stuff can be traced to our environment.
I stand here today and listen to the attacks on the Yukon protected areas strategy, not that itís even mentioned in the motion. I hear the attacks upon the environment by some members on the other side ó I donít understand why ó but I donít hear anybody make the links of what weíre facing as a species on this planet and how we are connected to the environment.
We can live without a lot of things. We can live without certain types of food, we can live without vehicles ó a lot of people do. We can live without a lot of the luxuries we have in our society that weíre very fortunate to have. Thereís no question about it, and Iíve travelled a lot, that this is one of the best places in the world to live.
But we can live without a lot of those things and still live, but we cannot live without clean air. We cannot live without clean water. We cannot live with mass pollutants and the diseases that arise from them. They will affect us and they will ultimately take our life.
Many, many scientists are very, very concerned. Iím not talking from my own perspective. Iíve already mentioned that Iím quoting words out of an editorial done by the Harvard Medical Society. There are many, many documented reports and studies about what is happening in the world today.
Unfortunately, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Iím painting a gloomy picture, but I donít necessarily want to sit here and throw ideology back and forth, back and forth, back and forth and whoís right and whoís wrong and which two NDP members voted for me and all of that stuff. Thatís not the pertinent issue here. I am talking ó and I am taking a different tack on this ó about the health of the planet and the balance that has to exist there. Because I think everybody in here wants to live a long life without being sick, and I think everybody wants to see other children have the same benefits and generations further down.
Now, I can give you just a small, small list of some of the new diseases ó and these are new diseases, Mr. Deputy Speaker: HIV/AIDS, which has taken hundreds of thousands of lives, maybe even millions now. And Iíll maybe pronounce some of these wrong, because Iím definitely not a medical professional here. Lyme disease, Legionella infection, Ebola, Nipah virus, hantavirus pulmonary syndrome ó that one weíre seeing more and more of up here, even ó toxic Escherichia coli infection, a new strain of cholera and an infection by a host of antibiotic resistant organisms.
"Old diseases such as malaria, cholera, tuberculosis, rabies and dengue fever, are resurging, while others such as the West Nile virushave undergone redistribution. SARS, like influenza, probably originated from a genetic reshuffling of animal virusesÖ"
So what weíre seeing is an adaptation of these viruses to deal with these climatic and environmental changes. They call it reshuffling of animal viruses. They have found reservoirs in other species that we are not familiar with and donít have any tracking for. So, all of a sudden ó bang ó it shows up in China, and tens of thousands of people become affected and thousands die. And, of course, there is this mass attempt to try to control that ó all connected to our environment. And then it takes billions of dollars to try to get it under control. Thereís the economic side, the humane side and the side of the future. But the economic side is the one many people like to always get into the picture, which is important.
But weíre talking hundreds of billions of dollars to try to contain some of these diseases now. One of the questions out there is: is nature having her way with us? Thatís an interesting question because many people feel we are the superior species on the planet ó that we control nature, that we have this massive amount of intellect and ability to be able to shape our environment the way we want.
The argument that is being brought forward now with the changes in our climate, the changes in our ó well, specifically climate in this case, with the rainfalls, the patterns changing, the droughts, the massive amount of climatic change in snowfalls in areas that have never had it before, the warming of the planet, the warming up here, the impact it has on biodiversity ó the plants, animals and all that ó are really out of our control.
The very fascinating question out there is: has nature now decided to have its way with us?
Is this planet, this biosphere that we are part of, finally starting to react in a manner that we really do not have the ability to deal with? Weíre struggling. What Iím seeing from a personal perspective is that we are now starting to chase nature, where at one time I think we thought ó and maybe at that point ó we had some control over the environment we were living in. We can point to some examples. But the last few years, if anything, have demonstrated a phenomenal shift in how this biosphere is reacting to our imprint on this planet.
There is a lot said in regard to thatÖ Oh, thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I only have two minutes. I was only just warming up. Itís a huge topic and Iím hoping that what Iím saying is being taken seriously. I apologize, but Iím not taking the same lines in regard to the motion that was brought forward. Iím bringing forward a concern I have, that I think many people in the world have. I think there are many studies and thereís a tremendous concern by a large group of very eminent scientists, doctors and citizens that points toward changes in our planet, in our ability to live here, that we are not able to control.
Does that mean we have to adjust the way we are doing things? Does that mean we have to find that balance between our ability to sustain ourselves through jobs, through activities, to create a society and communities that we want, but also still allow the planet to continue to function without our impressions on it being so deep and so heavy that it becomes sick? And, of course, if it becomes sick, we donít have much chance. It doesnít matter what we do, we are part of this planet.
These emerging diseases are now what are considered new drivers of the environmental change.
They are showing up, and I would suspect that we are in the year 2004 and weíve already seen a brand new one surface. I suspect that by the time we get to the end of 2004, we will probably see in this world two or three or four more brand new ones. We will be scrambling, and itís going to be billions and billions of dollars, and it does affect the Yukon, no matter how we spin it. And it will show up here if itís down south, because we are all in a global world and we are all interconnected in this.
I put that out. It doesnít sound that upbeat. Iím sorry, but itís a serious concern that I have, and I hope that people think about it and share that kind of view as well.
Mr. Hassard: I rise today to speak in support of this motion.
Itís interesting to listen to the debate today, to listen to the oppositionís remarks. They would like the public to believe that we, on this side of the House, do not care about the environment, and that is absolutely not true.
I have lived in the Yukon for 35 years. I am not sure how that compares with all of the other people in this Legislature, and it probably doesnít really matter. I grew up in the Teslin area. Itís where I played as a child in the wilderness. I lived 20 miles from the nearest town and seven miles from the nearest neighbour, so I certainly have an understanding of being in the wilderness.
My history is that of being on the land. I grew up outfitting and certainly spent my summers in the very backcountry, and certainly enjoyed it. I think that if there is anybody in this Legislature who appreciates the beautiful Yukon Territory, I am definitely one who appreciates it very much.
The Member for Mayo-Tatchun lets on as though he does as well, but that remains to be seen. While Iím on the topic of Mayo-Tatchun, Iíve even taken the trip by boat from Teslin to Carmacks. It was a very enjoyable trip. Iím curious if the Member for Mayo-Tatchun has done that or not. I havenít had the opportunity to go beyond Carmacks. Some day I hope I do.
When we talk about economic development, I think people have to understand that you canít have economic development in a resource-based industry without having something happen on the land, and that means creating roads and creating access. Iíve heard in the past a lot of people talk as though they fear access. Theyíre concerned about what access will allow.
Iím not sure that access is really the issue. I think the education of people is probably the issue, because itís not the road itself, per se, that is going to do the damage that people talk about; itís people who do the stupid things. I would hope that people would not fear the word "access", because how would we have gotten to the Yukon Territory, those of us who have moved here? We couldnít come by boat, as the Member for Mayo-Tatchun would have us come ó from Fort St. John, British Columbia, where I moved from. But I did come on the Alaska Highway, and that is access.
Now, obviously I wasnít around when they built the Alaska Highway but itís there and all of us use it. The Member for Mayo-Tatchun uses it to go to Teslin. Iíve seen him there so I know he got there by that road.
I believe that most of the beautiful places that people get to see in the Yukon are accessed by a road. The Dempster Highway ó I donít think the Dempster Highway was built for tourism purposes, but there it is. Yes, it could be considered a road to resources and it was built as such, but today it is used by many people for other uses ó hunting, tourism and access to resources in other parts of the country.
So I fail to see where access is such a huge issue. In fact, in my mind, itís important that we have more access. I believe there are more parts of the Yukon Territory that people would like to see, but a lot of people canít afford to fly to a particular part of the Yukon Territory.
I can recall discussions in Teslin a few years back when there was talk of a national park. Some people said they supported the park if a road was put into it, because they didnít see the point of having a park if you couldnít see it. So itís interesting to see how people view access.
As I said, I believe education is a more important issue, because I believe we can limit access. Even though there is a road there, it doesnít mean it has to be used. We can put a gate on it, or whatever we have to do. A little education goes a long way.
We have been criticized today, and other days, for doing away with YPAS, and I say, "So be it." In my mind, YPAS started as a way to protect areas of special interest and areas that Yukoners identified as specifically different or in need of some form of protection.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Hassard: Thereís nothing wrong with that. It is, in fact, a very good thing. The problem with YPAS is that it grew into a tool that was used to stop development. In my mind, it was wanted to be used to protect huge tracts of land from development.
I donít think that was the intent ó I know that wasnít the intent because Iíve talked to people who were involved with the origins of YPAS. Itís unfortunate that it became what it did. It became very unpopular. It became a campaign issue for me when I decided to run. It upset a huge segment of the population. We know that the hunters and fishers and mining industry were very upset. Anyone who used the land to make a living was really not happy.
It was interesting to see how it affected people within my community. We found friends at odds because they felt they had to take sides over something. Before YPAS they didnít have to. All of a sudden theyíre presented with having to make a decision on which side of the YPAS issue they were on. It pitted friends against friends. I know of people today who still donít talk to each other. They were friends in the past, but the simple issue of YPAS forced them apart and they donít talk to each other as of this day. Thatís really sad because that isnít good governance when we force people apart.
It brings me to something that ó I was part of the Teslin Renewable Resource Council, and during the heated discussions of YPAS, it was interesting that we as a council were not supportive of the YPAS process. In talking to members of the renewable resource council since then, they are trying to come up with a way to have community-driven protected areas. Instead of having the government come to your door and to your community with a busload of bureaucrats trying to convince you of whatís right and whatís wrong and what you should believe in, they would like ó and I agree itís the way to go ó to have the community decide. Have the renewable resource councils and whatever other councils are in the communities, and the local people, decide what is desired to be protected, whatís considered important enough to require protection.
It may not be just protection from development; it may be protection for development. Maybe there are areas of the territory that we need to identify as ó we need to protect this so it doesnít get turned into agricultural land when in fact it should be placer mining properties. So thereís more than just protection from development.
When it comes to that, I believe that we have legislation that allows us to do that. And chapter 10 of the Umbrella Final Agreement refers to special management areas. Now, the objective of this chapter is to maintain important features of the Yukonís natural or cultural environment for the benefit of Yukon residents and all Canadians while respecting the rights of Yukon Indian people and Yukon First Nations.
Now, special management areas are a way of protecting things. In fact, included in special management areas are national wildlife areas, national parks, territorial parks or national park reserves and extensions thereof, and national historic sites. We also have special wildlife or fish management areas, migratory bird sanctuaries or wildlife sanctuaries, designated heritage sites, watershed protection areas. Those are all legitimate ways of protecting things. So to fight over YPAS, in my mind, was a waste of time when we have chapter 10 of the Umbrella Final Agreement, which spells out how we can protect things. And we know it works, because in the Teslin Tlingit Council Final Agreement, we have the Nisutlin River delta national wildlife area, and this is a special management area, as specified under their final agreement, and when we look at the objective of that, itís to establish a national wildlife area in the Nisutlin River Delta to conserve nationally and locally important wildlife and wildlife habitat for the benefit of all Canadians.
For the members opposite to say that we are not doing anything is, in fact, not true, because it was done in the past, so the Yukon government continues to do things. This has already been done, so we canít go back to the beginning, because we have already begun. The motion reads "the Yukon government", so the members opposite need to read the motion before they start amending it.
Now, the Nisutlin River delta national wildlife area is a place that I know well. I think the people of Teslin are happy to have it. They are happy that they can say theyíve gone through a process where they protected something. Itís a success story, and why would we not recognize that? The members opposite donít seem to recognize that.
So, Mr. Speaker, the opposition is wrong when they say that this government is abandoning the environment, because we are not. We recognize our existing ability to protect the environment. We donít try to duplicate it just to look busy.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Hassard: The balance? The Member for Mayo-Tatchun challenged us to bring forward an example of balancing the economy and the environment. Well, in Teslin today, as we speak, they are working on the forest management plan. The Yukon government is a part of that planning process. One of the things that is going on is that a committee has been struck to look at access. That committee is working at ways to mitigate the impact of the roads that will be used for logging. One of the things that theyíve come up with is, rather than build permanent bridges across bodies of water, if there are areas that can be harvested during winter, then letís only put roads in there where we can use an ice bridge. That reduces the impact on the environment, because in the summer there is no bridge ó nobody uses the road and nobody gets over there to hurt the environment. To me, that is balancing, because we are looking at putting in roads to allow resource extraction, but at the same time we are mitigating the process by not building permanent structures.
I wonder if the member opposite would agree with that, that we are balancing the economy with the environment.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Hassard: The Member for Mayo-Tatchun would like us to go and clear-cut, but thatís not how we in Teslin pursue things. We are looking at alternative ways of harvesting. "Selective harvesting" are the words being used out there. The people of Teslin have control of whatís going on in their territory, and theyíre happy for that.
Mr. Speaker, I have mentioned the Member for Mayo-Tatchun far too many times ó he doesnít deserve that much credit ó but I have to admit that he earlier referred to the fact that the Yukon government hadnít done anything to clean up any contaminated sites. Well, I wonder if the member opposite would like us to assume all the liability that the federal government now has with the contaminated mine sites in the territory? Would he like us as Yukon taxpayers to become responsible for footing that bill? I donít think the general public wants us to do that. The NDP math might allow hundreds of millions of dollars to come into play, but we have what we have, and weíre not prepared to take on the federal governmentís responsibility at this time.
To speak to what we have done for the economy, yesterday at 11:00 a.m. on the sidewalk in front of the government building, I talked to an individual who is a prospector/placer miner ó an individual Iíve known for many years. He explained to me that he was heading back to his claims and looking forward to a busy summer.
I said to him, "Well, youíre going to have a good summer then." "Oh, yes. "Yes, very optimistic, very optimistic."
I said, in my usual manner, "I guess I would like to take some of the credit for the promising outlook on mining, but Iím not sure that I can. I believe that metal prices have probably played a role in that." Surprisingly enough, he brought to my attention the fact that, yes, gold prices are up, but the value of the Canadian dollar is also up, so metal prices alone are not creating this air of certainty and optimistic future in the mining industry.
He told me outright that he felt that what the government was doing was a positive step, and he thanked me for whatever part I may have played in that. It was a pleasure to have that conversation.
So, Mr. Speaker, I believe the tide is changing and the future of the economy and the environment are both very bright.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Well, it has been quite an interesting debate about the environment going on here. I am convinced that the opposition members are in full agreement with us on this motion, but they just donít have the political will to admit it. They prefer to fence sit. I guess sooner or later theyíll have to come off that fence, because it is progress that makes the world turn. Itís not sitting on the fence.
Iím going to put a different spin on some of this debate. Iím also going to comment on some of the comments made by the other side about this government making footprints. Well, I believe this government will make footprints of prosperity and restoration. They go together. I am also a firm believer that Mother Earth is a provider and that when one extracts anything from the earth, itís important to repair the damage thatís done.
I believe that First Nation people are natural conservationists; they always have been because of their direct belief in their relationship to Mother Earth.
Mother Earth is not much different from the person who walks on it or the animals that walk on it. When you gets a cut across their arm, you donít leave it like that until you bleed to death, or you donít leave it like that so that it heals with an ugly scar. You fix it up so that it will heal properly.
Well, the same holds true when you extract a metal from the earth or do placer mining, or whatever. Once you have done your work with the ground, you must make all possible efforts to ensure that you fix up the damage you did ó slope the creeks, for example. I think the days of the 1898 gold rush where you could pile mountains of rock all over the country, beside the highway and behind peopleís houses, are gone. Itís not acceptable any more in this day and age, and I believe that this government is quite capable of ensuring that regulations are followed. Thatís what theyíre there for.
When we talk about this progress, you know, I donít believe that there is one person in the whole Yukon Territory who hasnít committed to damaging the environment. All you need to do is think about when you flush your toilet ó where does it go? When you go and throw your garbage out, where does it go? It seems to be acceptable to society when you do it in the middle of the city. Yet, when one goes out into the wilderness to do some exploration, there seems to be a problem with it.
Well, Mr. Speaker, I am a firm believer that it is a necessary evil of life, maybe, you might call it, where the society on this planet has grown so used to driving vehicles, extracting metal from the ground to build those vehicles, drilling wells to be able to extract the fuel to drive those vehicles ó nobody walks anywhere any more. So, again, everyone who drives a car has to accept the fact that those materials came from the earth.
They didnít come out of the air or out of the sky. The very shelters we live in, this building weíre standing in right now, was extracted from Mother Earth at some point in time. It didnít just happen to appear here. So when we look at the balance weíve been discussing all afternoon between the environment and the economy, they go hand in hand in my opinion. You need to be able to develop the economy, but you also need to respect the environment. I believe this government is on the right path when we say that thatís our agenda. Weíre aware of those things. Itís nothing new to this side of the House.
I believe one of my first lessons on environment was when I was out in the bush with my father, at probably the age of five or so that I can remember, when he told us kids not to ever urinate in the creek; make sure you go back away from the creek because you will drink this creek water and the fish live in it. Now thatís a very traditional message of protecting the environment. It sounds simple, but how many people across the world ever listen to that simple bit of direction? Not many. Most of the suburban communities have used the rivers for getting rid of sewage. That was the first lesson I got from my father, not to do that.
So people across the country need to realize that First Nations people do ó well, I canít really confirm that all today because of the change even in First Nation people with regard to environment. I believe that not everyone respects it as much as they used to. A lot of our people have forgotten what it means to look after the environment.
So everyone has some negative play in damaging the environment. Along with that lesson from my father, he also said that because he was in the game guiding concession business, we travelled over a lot of trails, a lot of mountaintops. He always made sure that he told us never to throw gum wrappers or candy wrappers on the ground. We had to pack them back to our base camp; or where we stopped for lunch, everything had to be buried. If you didnít pack it back, you had to bury it. And I can tell you today that you could travel a lot of the country around Atlin, B.C., where I was raised and grew up. We had several hunting camps around the perimeters of Atlin and I think you would be very hard-pressed to find one camp that had a big pile of garbage left there, because it never happened. So we were raised to respect the environment.
Iíd like to talk just a bit about some of the comments made by the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin. And this is not to discredit any comments made by that member. However, you know, when you want progress, whether itís in the community of Old Crow or wherever, you are going to see environmental impact. Thereís no doubt about it. The winter Cat road to Old Crow: nobody can ever convince me that had no effect whatsoever on environment, because it will. Even though there was snow, you will still see the trail of that Cat trail in the summertime if you fly over it. So there is some impact there. And then when you get into an isolated community like Old Crow, where there is no highway going there, what was the reason for taking all of that heavy equipment in there?
It wasnít to dig outhouse holes, you know. It was taken to be able to move huge amounts of dirt. Thatís natural environment. Now, all that rock quarry weíre talking about that has got to be used to stabilize the riverbank, for example ó I know from experience that youíll never go into a rock mountain and dig it up with a backhoe. I believe youíre going to have to blast it, so there again youíre affecting the environment. Youíre going to destroy and youíre going to change the face of that mountain. It doesnít matter what anybody says, itís not going to be the same any more. Itís going to be moved from its natural state over to a foreign place on the riverbank. And again, itís to save the town of Old Crow.
Progress is something that will always create some kind of environmental change. Youíre going to have to build a road to haul the rock quarry, so again thereís going to be a road where there never was one. So progress is something thatís going to happen regardless of what many groups may wish never happen. It will happen eventually because it has to in order to make economic development happen. In an isolated place, you have to make little changes to the land. Itís only a process that is almost essential to be able to live on this earth today. We need to be able to use the environment but in a friendly way. Iím not and I believe this party is not for going out and destroying any natural environment intentionally or giving the permission to anyone else to do that.
I think itís in the best interest of everybody that the environment is protected. Again itís about balance. There has got to be some balance. I know youíre not going to at all times have everything equally balanced; however, I still think that in order for people to make a living and to be able to live to the standards of society, youíre going to have to give and take here and there with environment, with gas emissions, with a lot of different things. Thereís hardly any way to escape that. It just has become a fact of life; people need to continue using the elements on Mother Earth and to respect Mother Earth in all sense of the matter.
I already mentioned that society is so used to the progress that has happened over the years. We went from horse and buggy to cars that drive 150 miles an hour. So thatís a fact of life. A fact of life again is that we need to be able to extract fuel for those vehicles. Itís all just common sense, fact of life things that most people I know would not give up today. In fact, I really have my doubts that many people would go back to travelling to Dawson with a dog team or walking to Watson Lake like they used to do in the old days. Iíve talked to some of the elders from different communities, like Carmacks and Ross River, who said they walked all that country. Well, today they donít have to. They are either driven or they drive themselves.
So I believe that it doesnít matter which government is in place, itís going to have to accept the fact that economic development will happen. It has to happen in order to have a sustainable population in this territory.
When the economic development initiatives are depleted, you soon see how many people are prepared to move. I believe itís not because thereís a lack of natural resources in the Yukon Territory; being a member of a First Nation government for several years, I believe that one of the big deterrents to economic development was all the different rules and regulations that previous governments had established and adopted.
Again, I have to say that a lot of that economic development is now being recognized by First Nations themselves, and they are going to do economic development. I would love to see somebody go full bore into the economic development initiatives without ever touching the land. There is no economic development unless, like some of the members opposite are suggesting, you make a territory-wide park up here and have 30,000 rangers touring it. Thatís the only way I can see something happening. Then again, how would you sustain that?
Anyhow, Mr. Speaker, Iíve heard a lot of criticism from the opposition about the slowness of this government in getting economic development going. Iíd like to close by saying that the damage that was done by previous governments canít be rectified overnight.
Mr. Fairclough: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me at least 20 minutes for the members opposite to hear some of the words that we have said.
The previous speaker spoke a lot about respect and so on. He talked about sewage. I havenít seen this government put any money into a sewage plant in Dawson City. Maybe that minister ought to lobby others to encourage them to take care of that environmental impact, which could result in lawsuits and so on. So I encourage the member opposite to do that. We would definitely be supportive of the member opposite.
The member keeps talking about development and the fact that some environmental impact has to take place. Well, we on this side of the House donít disagree with that. We are asking the government to take a closer look on how not to impact certain areas of the territory. I donít think the members opposite would want to go and mine a small section of the area ó say, for example, around Keno that involves this unique place where the butterflies are. You can move somewhere else. I donít think they would want to do that. I donít think that any government would go and take gravel out of a hillside that would affect some sort of environment, whether it is traditional medicines and so on. They look elsewhere. Thatís not what we are saying and asking this government to do.
But this government ought not to blame other governments for anything, even the downturn in the economy, although that is exactly what they will do. If the members opposite ó the Member for Klondike was very interested in the environment. Well, this book here that is called "Yukon Economic Development" ó itís a Yukon Party new strategy. Why isnít there any mention of the environment in there? They talk about a business environment. They talk about a business climate, but very little ó there is a small section in here that speaks to the beauty of the Yukon and attracting people here.
Thatís it, nothing else. And how unfortunate that this Yukon Party would put out such a document and not have what they say are their true feelings about the environment reflected in that. The Member for Lake Laberge talked about ecotourism. Well, why didnít the Member for Lake Laberge at least try to wrestle with the Premier and others and the Minister of Economic Development to have it reflected in their strategy? Well, they didnít do that either. What theyíve done is constantly blame the New Democrats and Liberals for what took place in the Yukon in regard to mining itself.
Mr. Speaker, the undermining of their economic sectors: they talked about the downturn because of Faro and because of Brewery Creek mine. That was what they said on the small section on mining on page 32 of that book. I know that if the members opposite talked to some of the junior mining companies around 1996, they know that the price of metals was a big factor for people investing in the territory. And they know the deterrent to people investing in junior mining companies was the big scandal of Bre-X. That had a huge impact on the Yukon in getting investors here. Thatís a fact, and the members opposite cannot just push those things aside. That had an impact on the Yukon Territory.
Also, the members opposite had to blame something in their campaign, and they blamed the protected areas strategy. I heard the members talk about how this was to take huge tracts of land and tie them up as protected. I donít think they were referring to Fishing Branch. I hope not. I hope theyíre not referring to Tombstone. Those are the two parks that were formed in the territory, and they were the result of a land claims agreement. So what else was there?
The members opposite, and particularly the Premier, were also quite involved in developing this strategy. I heard him talk about a balanced budget of the economy and the environment back in 2000. You can read it in Hansard, Mr. Chair. Back then, the strategy itself was in fact a document that had lots of consultation. It was publicly endorsed by ó Iíll name a few for the members opposite ó the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. They endorsed the protected areas strategy. Itís interesting for the members opposite to hear that developers actually endorse a strategy like this, right? The Yukon Tourism Industry Association publicly endorsed this strategy, as did the Wilderness Tourism Association, the Mineral Advisory Board, the Fish and Wildlife Management Board, the Yukon Association of Communities have publicly endorsed this document, as well as the Outfitting Association, Trappers Association, CPAWS and so on. The list goes on about the kind of input people had on this particular document.
I know the Member for Pelly-Nisutlin is talking about how beautiful our country is, and the fact that we do have parks. He talks about special management areas, for example. What he doesnít know is that development certainly canít take place in special management areas. And the special management areas are not a protection of an ecosystem. So the protected areas strategy was all about some type of protection in an ecosystem.
I havenít even heard that word from the government side yet. Why? Why doesnít the Minister of Environment stand up and talk about ecosystems? Well, there must be reasons they leave out some of these words. I recall many of the speakers blaming YPAS, but even in the Premierís speech he talked about potential mining that could take place. He went back to 1977 with Harlan in east-central Yukon and Bear Paw Discovery on Clear Creek property in 1999. He talked about a new occurrence of emeralds discovered in 1998. Well, how did that happen? Did the strategy block it? And it didnít happen, so really members opposite know that this was not a deterrent to any companies coming in and doing work here. Now the Yukon Party is bragging about what took place in 1997, 1998 and 1999.
Let others remember something else. During those times, from 1996 on, when people were not investing in the territory, there were seven fully permitted mines ó seven of them. They were permitted already, so that means that the strategy was not going to hold them back from development. It was all about investment and people investing here in junior mining companies, and so on. I know that because, even in my small community of Carmacks, weíve been affected by that. Minto Resources and Western Copper have basically been ready to go and are of course fully supported by the community and First Nations.
The other thing that members opposite fail to recognize was to bring certainty to the Yukon and developers will come. One of the certainties was to conclude land claims agreements. That was a big one.
When I spoke earlier about the development assessment process, that fell out of the Umbrella Final Agreement and it did not change when it went to the final agreements. That was a process that people thought was maybe cumbersome because they didnít know how it was structured because the structure wasnít laid out to anyone yet. That was certainly an area people investing in the Yukon were worried about.
The member said that we on this side of the House chased industry away. How did we do that? Did we do it by bigger tax breaks to the developers? I donít think so. Did we do it by not making any changes to environmental regulations? Itís a lot for the members opposite to think about, really.
Those who are fully aware of mining and the type of mining taking place in the territory would recognize that, particularly the Member for Klondike, who, when on this side of the House, endorsed the strategy too. Funny, isnít it, how things change so quickly.
Iím glad the Member for Pelly-Nisutlin brought up a number of things, and theyíre the same as what weíve been talking about. One, of course, was our dollar value going up. That is certainly one of the attractions to get out and work claims.
I know that even last year, Mr. Speaker, the price of gas had the opposite effect, to the point where government has been talking about how we can help out in that manner. Well, Mr. Speaker, did we not support development when we had the Oil and Gas Act brought down under the New Democrats? The members opposite said that it takes a long time for things to happen. Well, someone has to get it going, and oil and gas got going during that time. As you could recall, there were nominations that took place in the northern part of the territory, and monies were committed to be spent on exploration. That weíre seeing today, and that is with a government that had some vision. And now the members opposite are saying that this is not what the New Democrats are standing for.
And letís take another one that helped mining companies and local people around the territory ó under the New Democrats, we developed the rural roads program. I can remember dollars going into, say, the road at BYG, for example, improving the safety aspect of that road, taking out some sharp corners. And many have not survived on that road in the past. That was because of a mine and because of mining. Not only that, there was year-round maintenance and that type of thing that didnít happen before. So the members opposite cannot hold that on the New Democrats.
There are many other roads that the members opposite could think about, including the Duncan Creek road, the improvements to that, and right around the territory. So, Mr. Speaker, why then do they point to us on this side of the House?
Well, it could be that when we were in government we did a lot. We had the tax round table, for example, and a result of that was the exploration tax credit, which they ó the Yukon Party ó support now. Isnít that interesting?
It is as if this Yukon Party now makes claim that no other government has done it; we have seen the light; we know how to support industry, and so on. Well, that hasnít happened, has it? The members opposite know that the New Democrats did do tremendously in that area. When it came to Faro, the Yukon Party didnít support that. Why didnít they support Faro? It was a huge impact on our economy here in the territory when Faro fell ó and it hurt us, and we are feeling that today.
I donít believe that perhaps all the people here in Whitehorse really understood the amount of support that mining and that community had on the City of Whitehorse, until Faro disappeared. Thatís too bad.
We on this side of the House can see tremendous opportunities, and itís riddled throughout this economic development strategy, carrying on from previous governments. That is a reality, of course. The potential for oil and gas is here. The potential for mining is here. It has always been here. If you want to put money in your pocket in mining, you donít do it and work so hard and have barely enough to survive on. You want to try to put money in your pocket when the climate is right.
The price of gold is up. Our dollar is up. Certainly there is a lot of interest here from what took place, for example, in the Northwest Territories.
I know the members opposite are scared of protected areas. Itís like every square inch of this land called the Yukon Territory should be open for mining. Well, I can see why theyíre doing that. Because they do support their leader. They follow the leader, the Premier, and the Premierís line that he has used today, yesterday, probably all his life, was log it, mine it, drill it, pave it and then protect it. I can see how the members opposite would fall into that, and thatís unfortunate because thatís not how we would like to see responsible development take place. As a matter of fact, some of the ministers not only like to mine the land of this beautiful country, they like to mine government, and theyíve done very well.
Why then does the Yukon Party talk so negatively about others when today they are reaping the benefits of what took place back then? What about the land claims and the certainty they are supposed to bring?
Well, this Yukon Party has come a long way in a year and a half. One community, one First Nation, already rejected a land claim agreement. Whoís next? Is that a trend thatís going to happen here? Does this bring more uncertainty to the territory? I think this government has discovered that they are in trouble when it comes to that 30 years of negotiations and they up the ante on a land claims agreement and people want more now. As a matter of fact, theyíre saying, "Really, now that we donít have an agreement, does the Water Board have any jurisdiction over what takes place on our land??" Any government regulations, for example.
What happened could very well be very scary to the members opposite, so they should take this matter very, very seriously and make some serious efforts with First Nations to ensure that final agreements are ratified, or the best possible agreements are brought forward to the people.
Itís unfortunate that I donít have enough time, but members opposite ought to look at the budget speech, what people are saying and what really took place here in 1995, 1996 and 1997, with the big world out there and its effect on mining in the territory.
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Certainly one thing I have to disagree with the member opposite on is that, fortunately, he doesnít have time to continue with some of what he is saying, because it makes no sense at all. I mean, Iím still sitting here ó he says weíve put nothing into sewage treatment in Dawson. This government has put $10.4 million into sewage treatment in Dawson. Where did it go? Well, weíd like to know that too, and thatís one of the reasons why a trustee is appointed there, but trying to say that nothing has been put into that is incredibly inaccurate.
I canít even remember who said it in this marvellously spirited debate, but at some point, someone referred to the New Democratic Party having no interest in this issue and no interest in development. I think there has to be some interest there. I think that should be corrected. There is some interest there, because there is still a population left here.
What has the Yukon Party government done about that? Weíve tried to take a balanced approach. We have a rapidly increasing population, the lowest unemployment rate since the last Yukon Party government, and itís getting better by the day. Everything continues to improve.
But the party opposite and the members opposite do continually try to sit on the fence on many of these issues, and this is very frustrating, Mr. Speaker. Iím finding very rapidly that these are people who are still sitting on the fence on the application of leaches. We have to look at this and make reasonable decisions.
The Yukon biodiversity and conservation and sustainable development initiative is something that our government has bought into wholeheartedly. And conservation of biodiversity does not equal protected areas strategy. That is a very small approach, a small part of that, and itís a part that has very limited use in Rupertís Land, in the north, under a completely different regime. It caused us no end of problems. It was badly flawed, and weíre very pleased to have thrown that in the hopper and tried to replace it with something that works. Sustainable development, or resource use by ourselves, without depletion of opportunity for future generations ó thatís really what sustainable development is all about.
Weíre in partnership, weíre seeking partnership with other territories and provinces in the implementation of the Canadian biodiversity strategy. This includes integrated resource management. Look at all factors of any project and make reasonable science-based decisions. Donít flip a coin, Mr. Speaker. I suggest that the members opposite go back and re-consult their tarot cards. Make your decisions with science-based information and thought.
We have to use a full range of land and resource designations and classifications from full protection ó and, yes, there are some areas and some that Iím most interested in that require full protection. Thatís protection from all resource utilization and everything in between, as long as itís consistent with all of the rest of the guiding principles. Ecosystem and science-based and traditional-knowledge-based natural resources management has to be a major factor in all of these decisions. And all of these decisions have to be made in partnership with First Nations, industry, resource stakeholders, non-governmental organizations, communities and resource conservation and management and all of these various groups.
So therefore itís in our interest to have a made-in-Yukon biodiversity conservation and sustainable development strategy. We have to coordinate with government departments ó the Department of Environment, the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources and Economic Development department, and we have to consult and cooperate on the building and implementation of this strategy through integrated resource management.
We have to establish a new biodiversity unit within the Department of Environment with the policy and planning branch, to coordinate the development and implementation of this strategy. We have to establish partnerships and agreements as considered necessary with strategic First Nations, non-government organizations and all the rest of the groups again and make it an open, transparent and interactive strategy. We have to increase efforts of the departments to gather data and information for strategy building and also for information dissemination, auditing, reporting and public education. All of this is to make science-based decisions. Flipping coins just doesnít cut it any more.
Pursue integrated resource management and logically you get this under the umbrella of the entire strategy. Itís a tool that has not been well used in the past, and itís one that certainly has to now. Canada ratified the 1992 United Nationsí Convention on Biological Diversity, which was the outcome of the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. In 1995, Canada fulfilled a key obligation of the global Convention on Biodiversity by releasing the Canadian biodiversity strategy, a national blueprint promising to implement our international promises. Before that, in 1987, the Brundtland report, also known as Our Common Future, alerted the world to the urgency of making progress toward economic development that could be sustained without depleting natural resources or harming the environment.
This was published by an international group of politicians of all stripes. Civil servants, experts on the environment and development, and reports provided a key statement on sustainable development ó development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Now, the Brundtland report was primarily concerned with securing a global equity, redistributing resources toward poorer nations while encouraging their economic growth. The report also suggested that equity, growth and environmental maintenance are simultaneously possible, and that each country is capable of achieving its full economic potential while at the same time enhancing its own resource base. The report also recognized that achieving this equity in sustainable growth would require technological and social change.
The Yukon biodiversity conservation and sustainable development initiative involves other territories and provinces that have collectively committed to be active partners in the implementation of the Canadian biodiversity strategy. Past efforts, such as YPAS, of course, only partially addressed the goals and objectives inherent in the Canadian biodiversity strategy.
As they didnít make a balanced approach and a balanced allowance for resource utilization and development, they were doomed to failure before they got off the ground. That is the problem we are having to readdress here. The new Yukon biodiversity conservation strategy will seek to find balance between land and resource or ecosystem ó the member opposite wanted to hear the word, so Iíll put it back out there for him ó conservation and development. There will be a balance between the economy and the environment.
This initiative to the Department of Environment will also involve positions that are dedicated to this and to work with other departments on a common strategy.
Weíre not going to get back into the silos of administration.
Now, all of this is possible right now because we are coming into a fairly good financial position, thanks to the good and diligent work of the officials in the Department of Finance, the statistics branch, and the work of our Premier in national meetings. We do now have the opportunity to come back and to look at some initiatives and some infrastructure.
If you look back on the finances of the Yukon territorial government over the years, the previous Yukon territorial government did one thing very, very right ó that was building an economic base that we could work from. Unfortunately, by the time the election was over, another political party came in and had the ability to spend it all. And then, of course, the government in-between managed to do a pretty good job of finishing everything off.
They cut down the money tree, but our reforestation programs are doing very, very well. Theyíre alive and well in the Yukon, and weíre going to put that right back into the economy. That is a primary interest to everything that weíre doing.
Mr. Speaker, the environment is important to everyone. We have in total $11 billion ó and thatís with a "b" ó spent to pursue nature-related activities in Canada. According to a 1996 Environment Canada report on the importance of nature to Canadians, Canadians as a whole spent $7.2 billion on outdoor activities. Of this amount, $1.3 billion was for wildlife viewing, something that we are promoting very strongly in this yearís budget; $1.9 billion went to recreational fishing; $800 million went to hunting, and $1.2 billion went to other nature-related activities, including sustaining land for conservation, residential and wildlife-related activities.
On average, the per capita expenditure of Canadians on outdoor activities works out to $704 per person in Canada, but here in the Yukon, it is $1,298 per person.
When you compare this across the country, Mr. Speaker, you look at some of the other jurisdictions: $836 for Albertans, $435 for Nova Scotians and $735 in Ontario, $1,298 in the Yukon. So weíre very much aware of the fact that this has great implications in terms of what is valuable to retain in the environment.
It gives us great pause to examine development in this term ó again, balancing everything, balancing the economy and the environment as we move ahead in this.
To come into some of the areas that are a little bit near and dear to my heart that the opposition members whoíve spoken to this motion have mentioned, itís certainly wildlife and wildlife disease. I believe the leader of the official opposition mentioned something about a few disease things, and he did rather well, actually, pronouncing some of the diseases. One of them, Legionella, unfortunately occurs in air-conditioning systems in hotels primarily, but, you know, he was close. He was on the right track and I give him full marks for that.
Canadaís national wildlife disease strategy is a policy framework through which governments at all levels will minimize the harmful effects of wild animal disease on Canadian and international society. The objects of this strategy will be achieved through a series of action plans developed for each strategy and each strategic goal and implemented collaboratively among the responsible jurisdictions. Again, Mr. Speaker, this involves territories, national, provincial and all different levels.
Why is this important? The member opposite actually had a rather good point there. There are a number of diseases that are emerging. They emerge from humans and mutate into something that can affect animals; they can also mutate in animals and affect humans.
And Iíll give you a couple examples that just ó you know, I give my head a shake when every now and then I do read the news. Every now and then thereís some humour in that. And there was an article on a cat from southern China that got into a container; and having gotten into that container, it was in southern China and it was bound for California. Now, that happens every day, Mr. Deputy Speaker; we all know that. Probably the shirt youíre wearing is made in China. So we can get into that debate too.
From there, this cat went on the container by rail across North America to Tampa, Florida. Now, thatís an amazing story. They had beautiful pictures of the cat and everything else. It was just a great story, but nobodyís looking at the disease implications of this. Now, in Florida, there may be a discussion about captive wildlife; thatís quite possible. Iím not aware of that. But did anybody notice that the cat came from right in the middle of the area where SARS came from, that SARS was implicated in civet cats, that SARS is now implicated in the corona virus, which is implicating domestic cats ó like the one that just got dumped in the middle of Tampa, Florida? Just amazing. Thatís quite incredible that nobody ever actually picked that up. But then, again, actually paying attention to that is sometimes not a forte of some reporters.
There was another case that recently made the news. A decade ago, as many as 300 sheep ó and these are bighorn sheep ó were killed by a bacterial disease called pasteurella. To really confuse our friends in Hansard, itís Pasteurella haemolytica. And I understand our scientific people, who had a habit of doing this to us, have actually done a little bit of a change. They always like to change the name of diseases and of bacteria. It keeps all of us on our toes. So itís now Mannheimia haemolytica. But thatís another story.
Three hundred bighorn sheep were killed down one side of a canyon. It swept through a place called Hells Canyon ó this is, I believe, in Idaho actually ó in 1995 and killed sheep on the western side of the canyon from the Grande Ronde River to the Imnaha River and now herds that have no exposure to the 1995 outbreak started dying off in the last month. Now, biologists from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife are taking a look at that. Itís only on the west side. Whatís on the east side? A herd, or a flock ó Iím not sure which would be the proper one there ó of domestic goats. Goats carry Pasteurella haemolytica normally in their mouths. Bighorn sheep probably donít because theyíre dying of pneumonia that is very likely caused from domestic animals across the way. So whether itís something that changes from humans to affect wildlife, wildlife to affect humans, or any variation in between ó swine flu in 1918 wiped out tens of thousands of humans. Itís a normal disease in pigs, but it mutated slightly. We have to be very cautious of those sorts of things.
People arenít aware of the fact that these things will mutate on a regular basis, and they will change constantly. Disease is not a static issue. It is not something that simply sits there and never moves. This is always a definite problem and a definite challenge to all of us who work with this.
Those are some of my concerns on disease transmission and one of the reasons our government has made the decision to put $150,000 into a disease strategy to test every animal that we can. Weíre not concentrating on an individual area. We are concentrating on the Yukon. We will work with the Fish and Wildlife Management Board, renewable resource councils, we will work with First Nations to get blood samples from animals normally harvested in hunts, and I want to say that Iím very proud of the staff of the Department of Environment. We have some incredibly talented people and I have ever faith that they will produce disease surveys that are meaningful and will allow us to make all of these decisions.
Why do I think there is an urgency to this? Well, I just picked yesterday, Mr. Speaker ó there is a news list put out by the International Association of Infectious Disease. On Tuesday, there were new reports of white spot disease in shrimp, specifically in Hawaii in the United States; anthrax, involving both humans and livestock in west Bengal, India; avian influenza ó not in British Columbia; we certainly have problems there with it, but it was about avian influenza in eastern Asia, which has sprung up there and is causing massive problems; Lassa fever in Sierra Leone; foot and mouth disease has cropped up again in Amur, an area of Russia; yellow fever in monkeys in Venezuela. This is one day, Mr. Speaker, and I would really prefer not to have the Yukon on such a list.
We have to buy into this disease strategy. We have to work with every jurisdiction that we can on this. The scale and direction of these recommendations have been fully endorsed by the federal, provincial and territorial Wildlife Ministers Council of Canada in September 2002. I am very proud to be the host of the 2004 meetings of the federal, provincial and territorial Wildlife Ministers Council of Canada, which will be held in Whitehorse this coming September.
This is an incredibly large issue. We have to develop an economy. We have to protect the environment. It has to be balanced. No money, no protection ó that is unfortunately the reality. We have to balance both. To say otherwise is pure folly.
Mr. Rouble: Itís my pleasure to stand and support this motion today.
It has been a very interesting debate so far and Iím sure that we can all agree that all of us live in the territory because we love its environment.
We all live here because we love its beauty, the land and the opportunities.
I think, Mr. Speaker, it has become clear today that we do have some philosophical differences and differences of opinion here in this House. There are some who feel appropriate responsible development is a good thing ó and Iím one of those ó and others who oppose development.
Weíve heard from the opposition that they donít oppose development. Well, letís just take a look at the motion that was tabled on April 20, and the action clause is "THAT this House urges the Yukon Party government not to allow any resource extraction activity in the territory that would negatively affect Canadaís ability to meet or exceed its greenhouse gas reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol."
Mr. Speaker, there it is in black and white: the opposition puts forward a motion asking us not to allow any resource extraction activity. That concerns me because I think we can have reasonable and responsible sustainable development in this territory.
Letís take a look at the situation weíre in. Our economy is very dependent upon resource extraction. We have businesses that are built up because of that; our labour pool is made up of people who have a tremendous amount of experience and interest in resource extraction. Thatís what a lot of people do. Thatís what the history of the Yukon is, in part, built on.
We have an abundance of resources. I heard one figure that we had over $300 billion worth of known mineral resources. Thatís a tremendous asset the territory has.
Additionally, we have an abundance of beautiful images and areas. This is truly a beautiful territory we live in, and it is the envy of practically everyone on the planet.
Another part of the situation to look at that is important is that we live on one world. It is just one planet, and the leader of the official opposition was discussing this in quite a bit of detail earlier. What happens here has impacts elsewhere on the planet. Changes elsewhere on the planet will impact us here.
We do have a very strong intermingling of economies. Money flows from Whitehorse to Toronto to London to China to Buenos Aires and back again, often in the blink of an eye. While we have one economy, we have many different rules throughout the planet ó rules governing resource extraction.
Another important factor to consider ó and I discussed this quite a bit earlier in speaking to the amendment ó is that humans are consumers. That is something that we naturally do. We consume stuff, we use stuff up, and many of us now know that we simply canít sustain our current consumption practices. And many of us are taking steps to reduce that. Again, itís important for all of us to reduce, reuse and recycle. Thatís an important fact of life that I think almost all Yukoners have come to accept.
We have a very strong set of legislation ó rules and regulations that govern these industries. Here in the territory, we have the Waters Act, Forest Protection Act, Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act, Quartz Mining Act, Placer Mining Act, Environmental Assessment Act. The Environmental Assessment Act includes special waste regulations, air emission regulations, spills regulations, solid waste regulations, contaminated sites regulations, storage tank regulations, beverage container regulations, recycling fund regulations, pesticide regulations, ozone-depleting substances and other halocarbon regulations.
We have the Parks and Land Certainty Act. We have the Wildlife Act, which includes the wildlife sanctuary regulations, wildlife regulations and trapping regulations. Under federal law we have in place the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the Fisheries Act, the Canada Wildlife Act, the Migratory Birds Convention Act, the Northern Pipeline Act, the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act, Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Inter-provincial Trade Act, and the Canada National Parks Act.
In addition, we are governed by the Inuvialuit Final Agreement, the Tríondëk Hwëchíin Final Agreement, the Selkirk First Nation Final Agreement, the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation Final Agreement, the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations Final Agreement, the Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation Final Agreement, the Teslin Tlingit Council Final Agreement, the First Nation of Na Cho Nyäk Dun Final Agreement, and the Taían Kwachían Council Final Agreement. Our activities are regulated by transboundary agreements, including the 1916 convention between the United Kingdom and the United States of America for the protection of migratory birds in Canada. The list goes on. We have a tremendous amount of regulations that are currently in place, and many of these regulations govern responsible development and responsible resource extraction. We have these laws in place.
In looking at a balance between the protection of the environment and responsible economic development, I donít think itís just a matter of having your cake and wanting to eat it too. We can have economic development and we can have environmental protection. We need some of both. Our options arenít simply park it ó call it a park and close the gates ó or pave it ó turn it into a Toronto.
Those arenít the only options. We have a lot of room between the park-it or pave-it approaches.
Mr. Speaker, there is a sustainability concept that Iíd like to toss out, and I think it would serve well in our discussion this afternoon. Thatís the concept of the triple-P bottom line. In the triple-P bottom line, the Ps stand for people, profits and the planet. The triple-P bottom line focuses not just on the economic value added but also on the environmental and social value added or destroyed. The term "triple-P bottom line" is used as a framework for measuring and reporting performance against economic, social and environmental parameters. Itís another tool to use in our decision making. When we make a choice or we make a decision, letís not just consider the profits involved but also consider the people and the planet ó or the whole product lifecycle approach or the whole product approach to things.
Now, when we make a decision, it does have impacts. And, Mr. Speaker, in our society, we typically measure whatís important to us. So we need to take that step and start to measure some of these concepts, because it is important to the continuation of life on our planet, if I can put it in such grandiose terms, that we remember to take care of it, and we have a responsibility to do so. We also have a responsibility to our children to put bread on the table.
Now, Mr. Speaker, we heard earlier about the boom-and-bust economy. Well, I donít think itís just an either/or equation there, but under past government practices and with current trends or some initiatives or some people, I think weíll go to simply a busted economy.
We canít allow that to happen in the Yukon. A Yukon population solely employed as park rangers simply wonít work. It doesnít work.
We also heard about the holistic planet approach, and the leader of the official opposition brought that up earlier, and I applaud him for it. He does certainly have, and shares with us, larger visions and takes into consideration broader topics. Iíve often commented before that he appears to think globally and act locally. Iíd like to ask him a question, and that is: where would he rather see a mine? Here or in Russia? Where would he or members of the opposition rather see forestry? Here or in the Amazon? Remember that we are part of one planet and a global economy.
But the big question is: what would have a greater impact on our planet? Raising Yukon standards or raising the standards of the rest of the world to meet our current very high and very responsible standards?
I would put forward that if we raised the rest of the planet to our standards, the world would be a better place. The energy put into bringing Argentinaís standards up to our own, or bringing Russiaís mining practices up to our own, would do a much greater service to the environment. The potential for disaster in other countries is tremendous. But, as Iíve already put on the record, we already have a tremendous amount of legislation and regulation that mandate that we conduct operations in a responsible and sustainable manner.
I think we can have a vibrant economy and protect the planet if we have a balance. I said earlier that my Yukon economy includes mining. It also includes information technology, tourism and culture, cultural industries, forestry, oil and gas, wholesale and retail trade, and I hope I havenít missed any other industries because they all have a place here in our territory. We need them in order to have a sustainable and diverse economy. We canít do it if we go out and protect everything. If we put up the sign that says "Park Yukon, Please turn off the lights on your way out", well, then our time here is done.
As I said, I endorse this motion and I would encourage other members to do so as well. Thank you for your attention.
Speaker: Are you prepared for the question?
Mr. Cardiff: Itís my pleasure to get up and speak to the main motion. I had the opportunity to speak to the amendment. The amendment was proposed for a reason, and it was to encourage the government to "begin", because we on this side of the House donít believe that the effort that has been made has been enough, enough of a focus on the environment, and that itís largely focused on other areas. Maybe like the budget speech, the order in which people have spoken today is indicative of the emphasis placed on the environment.
In the budget speech that the Premier gave, the environment came on page 40, and the Environment minister was almost the last one to speak to this motion today.
The other thing the Environment minister said ó one of the figures he used was $10.4 million for sewage treatment in Dawson that this government has spent. Well, I challenge the Minister of Environment to check the budget and to check the figures, both in this yearís budget and last yearís budget, to find the $10.4 million that his government contributed for sewage treatment. Because those were his words, and I think he needs to check the math.
I agree that there has to be a balance between the economy and the environment. The economy is based on many things. The Member for Southern Lakes cited some of them. One of the things the Member for Southern Lakes talked about was the need to recycle ó reduce, reuse and recycle. Thatís something a lot of us try to do. I try to do that on a regular basis, to the best of my ability.
Thatís one of the areas where, in my opinion, the government has fallen down. The government, through the appointed supervisor in Dawson City, forced the democratically elected council in Dawson to rescind a waste management contract thatís going to impact on the environment.
So whereís the balance? Youíre using your budget to impact on the environment in Dawson, and the contract in question had a recycling component in it. But instead of going for a contract that has a recycling component in it, the excuse given by the Member for Klondike was that you canít recycle cardboard. Well, the Member for Southern Lakes is looking quizzical because he knows that you can recycle cardboard. As a matter of fact, the same day that the Member for Klondike said the reason the contract in Dawson would promote recycling and contribute to the environment and would actually employ people in Dawson, I just happened to have someone put a call in to Raven Recycling to check out whether or not cardboard was recyclable. Well, not only was cardboard recyclable, they had actually been phoning around to the communities, asking them if they had any cardboard. So there is economic activity, and there is an example of doing something for the environment. Itís something that the Member for Southern Lakes thought was a good idea.
My colleague from Old Crow mentioned in her remarks something that I think is very important, and that is some of the areas that remain to this day virtually untouched. It was truly an honour for me to attend at the Yukon Arts Centre a few weeks back the presentation of the Three Rivers Journey.
It was a presentation that included slides, music, videos, and artistsí renditions of their experiences on the Snake, the Wind and the Bonnet Plume rivers. I havenít had the opportunity to actually go there, but the environment there was beautiful. Iím almost stuck for words to describe it, but it was truly an experience to sit in the Art Centre and be able to see the experience these people had and to almost feel like you were there. The sounds, the recordings, the pictures, the slides, the comments of people both from the Yukon and visitors to the Yukon who were participating and contributing ó whether they were there as writers, musicians or artists ó will go out to a lot of people, and itís going to travel and the word is going to spread; not just around the Yukon, itís going to spread around Canada and North America. People will go back to the wilderness tourism aspect of the economy.
One of my constituents actually had been chosen as an artist to participate in the Three Rivers Journey, but when I went and watched the presentation at the Arts Centre, I was really proud actually because it wasnít just one constituent of mine on that trip doing the work she does as an artist, but there were also guides who live in my riding. There were photographers, and there were other people from my riding on that trip.
I think that we need to preserve areas like that for enjoyment and to attract people to come and see that. When thatís gone, there is no taking it back.
I know the time is getting short, but Iíd like to go back a little bit to the argument about resource development. Contrary to the interpretation of members on the other side, we are not against resource development. We on this side of the House think that there is a responsible way to develop resources in conjunction with land use planning, and it is to identify the areas that need to be protected and identify the areas that are open for resource development. If the members opposite can agree that that is something that has to be done, I would be happy.
The other thing that the Member for Southern Lakes touched on is all of the regulations govern responsible resource development. Well, then why arenít they working? Why are there environmental disasters? Why are there examples of that around?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Cardiff: The member is wrong, I believe. A lot of those regulations were in place, Mr. Speaker. Hereís another example of how we can work toward preserving the environment and developing resources at the same time, and promoting an economy. That would be another thing to look at doing. But I donít see it in the budget, and that would be to ó there are lots of entrepreneurs in the territory. There are lots of businesspeople who have good ideas. So letís look at researching and developing environmentally responsible ways to develop and extract resources. And thatís going to promote economic activity. And we can do it while weíre actually developing those resources. But we need to encourage those activities at the same time as weíre looking at responsible land use planning and the development of our natural resources.
Supporting the motion the way itís written is difficult for us on this side because we believe that the government hasnít made enough of an effort to allow us to say, "You should continue down the path that youíre going." We think the effort needs to be better, that there isnít a balance, that the balance is tipped in the wrong direction, and that a balance would mean that itís even.
The message in the Budget Address that the Premier gave, and the message in the economic development plan, is that itís all about business and resource development, and itís not about preserving the environment or trying to find the balance thatís needed.
Actually, I hope the members go home and read the blue document, A New Direction: Building a Sustainable and Competitive Yukon Economy and look how many times the word "environment" is in there and the context itís used in.
Because there is a message there, and the message is that the balance isnít there. They donít have that balance.
The Member for Southern Lakes is quite right: the economy is based on many things, and many of those things do affect the environment. The work that we do in here affects the environment. But I know that there are lots of people I talked to during the election, during my 30-day consultation, who told me that thatís what they wanted to see. They wanted to see responsible land use planning and economic development but it has to go hand in hand. I donít see where the government is promoting or dedicating resources to responsible land use planning. Thatís the message I heard on the doorstep. That was my 30-day consultation.
Yes, we will go back and we will do another 30-day consultation at some point. When the Premier decides that we are all ready to do that, then we will get a chance to go out and weíll see what people say then.
Whether or not the balance that the Yukon Party believes itís achieving in the economy and the environment is there ó
Seeing the time, Iíll wrap up.
Speaker: Order please. The time being 6:00 p.m., the House now stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. tomorrow.
Debate on Motion No. 254 accordingly adjourned
The House adjourned at 6:00 p.m.
The following document was filed April 21, 2004:
Building and Office Space Leases, Government of Yukon, as of March 31, 2004: listing (Hart)