Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with prayers.
Speaker: † We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
In remembrance of Jennie Howie
Hon. Mr. Hart: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honour and pay our governmentís respect to Jennie Howie, a dedicated employee, who recently succumbed to an eight-year fight with cancer.
Jennie Howie left us too early; she was only 45 years of age. But by that young age, she had already touched the lives of most Yukoners through her work on substantial motor vehicle safety initiatives, initiatives that protect all drivers and passengers on the territoryís highways and roads.
When you hear me speak of Jennieís many accomplishments, please bear in mind and appreciate that she did all these things while she was fighting cancer.
Jennieís husband, Dave, and her children, Ben and Amanda, have joined us today. Also joining us are her father, Fred Thompson, his wife, Diane Morgan-Thompson, and Jennieís sister-in-law, Judy Adams. Jennieís friends and co-workers ó Tom Debolt, Maria Oswald, Terry Vold and Julius Debuschewitz ó are also in the gallery. I would ask all members of the Legislature to join me in welcoming them here today.
Dave, Ben and Amanda, this government is very grateful for what Jennie accomplished for our society. I am very sorry for your personal loss of your beloved wife and your dear mother.
I am especially honoured to talk about what Jennie Howie contributed to our transportation system, because I had the privilege of working with her over the last two years.
During this time, I saw Jennieís integrity, her ability to get tough jobs done, her frankness on issues, and her gentle but firm nature. She was a seasoned and dedicated professional, who skillfully led many large projects. She had a very strong commitment to duty and responsibility, and she was a dedicated leader in the Department of Highways and Public Works.
Jennie brought a smile to every meeting, a warm greeting to people she met, vision, precision and leadership to all her work and truthfulness to her actions. She was all about being fair and square.
Jennie worked for many years to improve
Jennie is well known to some members of this House, as she worked with each political administration on at least one of these amending bills. Members of this House will recall Jennie assisting me last fall with amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act.
Here are some of the safety measures she
helped create for the benefit of
In 1997, under her leadership, the Legislature passed a motor vehicles bill of major road safety changes focusing on impaired, uninsured and suspended drivers.
The following year she spearheaded the bill that allowed for regulations to be developed under the National Safety Code for large, heavy commercial vehicles and buses, and implemented longer term licence disqualifications for convicted impaired drivers. She did work to implement the immediate 90-day licence suspension for persons driving impaired or with a suspended licence.
In 1999, she led the development of a
territory-wide vehicle impoundment program, oversaw the production of an
air-brake manual for the transportation sector and completed comprehensive
revisions to the
In 2000, she presented us with the
graduated driverís licensing program for all new drivers; some adjustments to
the impoundment program; new vision-testing criteria for drivers and an
extension of the
In 2002, Jennie was instrumental in
bringing the alcohol ignition interlock program to the
Jennie also distinguished herself in national and international initiatives.
In 2000, she served as president of the Canadian
Council of Motor Transport Administrators and in 2001, Jennie brought this
national organizationís annual conference to
Jennie took special pride and a keen
interest in the
Jennieís amazing list of accomplishments shows that she worked tirelessly for our welfare. When she advocated for a safe initiative, we listened and we were moved to act. She believed with great fortitude and determination in the value of keeping us safe on our roads, whether it was in a motor vehicle, on a bicycle, on a motorcycle or on foot.
Jennie embraced the creed of the public servant to work to the best of oneís ability to make everyoneís life better. She did that unfailingly every single day, even on the days when her spirit was strong but her body was weak. She did it with a smile and a steely determination to do what was right.
Jennie would gently point out to whoever needed nudging that they, too, should do the right thing. I can testify that she was one of the few who could nudge me and still leave me smiling at the end.
We miss her, but every time we drive on a
Thank you, Jennie, on behalf of all Yukoners, for making our roads safer. Your contribution will endure. Your legacy will serve us, our children and their children as well.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Fairclough: I rise on behalf of the official opposition to pay tribute to a remarkable public servant, Jennie Howie.
Jennieís long life of accomplishments and
her too short life began in high school here in
We are justly proud of Jennie. Her
leadership skills were her true assets, and the
She started working for the
Always active professionally and personally
in the transportation field, she was the president of the Canadian Council of
Motor Transport Administrators and president of the
The Transportation Museum Hall of Fame is just one of her lasting achievements.
Those who knew Jennie through her eight
years of illness say that very few people knew that she was ill. She chose to
meet the world with a smile and to reach out to help others rather than dwell
on her own problems. She was always there with a smile and a kind word to
everyone. Jennie truly practised her philosophy of ďeveryone can make a
differenceĒ. She certainly made a difference to the
Our deepest sympathy goes to her family for their loss of this great person.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the Liberal caucus to join my colleagues in the Legislature in paying tribute to the late Jennie Howie.
Too soon, we were unexpectedly called upon to celebrate the life that was Jennieís, and it was somehow fitting that it was absolutely one of the coldest evenings Yukoners had seen in many years and transportation to Whitehorse itself and the Transportation Museum where we gathered to honour Jennie was a tremendous challenge, and yet many, many of us were there.
Without question, issues of transportation were an integral part of Jennieís professional life. Her contribution to safe driving in the Yukon included the graduated driverís licence program, ignition interlock, child restraints, bicycle helmets, to name a few. We had the privilege, as members of the Assembly, to work with Jennie on legislation in our last session.
Members of my government recall her fondly,
very fondly, as being a tough public servant to be the minister for ó and the
minister has mentioned that as well today ó because Jennie Howie was the
consummate public servant. She absolutely believed in ensuring that legislation
was fair and it was the right thing to do for Yukoners and for road safety.
And, like most public servants, her contribution extended far beyond her professional
career to being the president of the
It makes me very sad to realize that it is only with Jennieís passing that we are able to truly honour her and have the opportunity as Yukoners to express our heartfelt thanks for her dedication to public service and the safety of Yukoners on the road.
Members of the Legislative Assembly will thank and remember Jennie today and her many accomplishments. Former co-workers and former students of F.H. Collins ó as I am one ó remember her wonderful smile. It lit up her workplace and the hallways at school. It was also the light of her high school sweetheartís life ó Dave ó and is reflected in the smiles of their children, Ben and Amanda. Please accept our sincere sympathy on the loss of your wife and mother. We will remember her as well.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Are there any further tributes?
Introduction of visitors.
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
†Speaker: Under tabling of returns and documents, the Chair has for tabling a report from the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly on the absence of members from sittings of the Legislative Assembly and its committees.
Are there any further returns or documents for tabling?
Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Notices of motion.
NOTICES OF MOTION
†Ms. Duncan: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to complete, without further delay, the long-overdue review of the Workersí Compensation Act.
Mr. McRobb: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Yukon Party government should provide the Legislature with a progress report on any product by its red tape reduction committee, in relation to the following three promises from its campaign document:
(1) ensure government contract regulations, policies and procedures are sensible, consistent and fair to the local business community;
(2) conduct a red tape review of government policies, regulations and legislation to address the following:
††††††††††††††† (i) identify the need of existing legislation;
††††††††††††††† (ii) eliminate overlap and duplication;
††††††††††††††† (iii) reduce compliance costs and administrative requirements; and
(3) create a regulation task force comprised of industry and government with the responsibility to review legislation and eliminate unnecessary and overlapping regulations, or else apologize to Yukoners for failing to uphold those promises.
Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?
Is there a statement by a minister?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re:† Northern Splendor Reindeer Farm
Mr. Hardy: I have a question for the Minister of Environment. As of tomorrow morning, the owners of the Northern Splendor Reindeer Farm will no longer accept responsibility for the wildlife animals that are in captivity on their property. Will the Environment officials be there to shoot any reindeer that are running at large after that time, or will they be there rounding them up and moving them to another location?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Our government realizes that there was a lack of clarity that was created by the previous Liberal administration when they failed to identify the new Yukon Act as omitting the classification of reindeer completely, as had been done previously under section 47 of the old Yukon Act.
The Department of Environment has in place a contingency plan with respect to the reindeer and it will be exercised in the event that the owners of these reindeer allow them to wander outside the boundaries of their property.
Mr. Hardy: This whole situation is a shameful example of government bungling and heavy-handedness. This government shut these people down. Itís plain and simple. This government put them out of business and it wonít accept any responsibility for that fact, as we just heard this minister state already ó blaming it on someone else.
This government defines reindeer as wildlife. Wildlife canít be kept in captivity without a permit. The only facility licensed to keep wildlife in captivity is the Yukon Wildlife Preserve, which the government owns.
The question for the minister is very simple: does the department plan to destroy the reindeer, move them to the Yukon Wildlife Preserve or let them run free? He has already mentioned that thereís a contingency plan. How about sharing it with us?
Mr. Speaker, number one, the reindeer are owned privately by this enterprise.
The market for reindeer has collapsed. The borders are closed to the movement
of virtually all livestock. This company used to get the majority of their
earnings from breeding stock. We have a problem now in that there is no demand
With respect to the contingency plan that our government has in place, it will be exercised in the event that the owners of these reindeer allow them to wander outside the boundaries of their property.
Mr. Hardy: Mr. Speaker, itís a shame that I have to explain to the Minister of Environment that individuals cannot own wildlife. This government has lost any shred of credibility it might have had on this issue. This minister broke his word that he gave here in the House last October that the operators would be able to carry out their business. They canít. The Minister of Environment broke his word to feed the animals, since the operators canít. The Premier broke his word to enter into mediation with these people. The only ones who have kept their word are the reindeer farm operators, and itís interesting that we have a secret contingency plan that this minister wonít tell the reindeer operators about, nor the people in the Legislative Assembly.
Now, when the gates are opened tomorrow morning, does the government intend to lay charges against these people for refusing to let the reindeer starve to death on their property, and, if so, what charges are going to be laid? Under what section of the act are they going to be charged?
Mr. Speaker, reindeer have been used for domestic purposes in northern
That is the essence of the problem weíre faced with. But letís bear in mind that, at the end of the day, these are privately owned reindeer.
Question re: †Fuel, tax-exempt
†Mr. McRobb: On
All Yukoners who purchase heating fuel will have this information reported to the government without their permission or consent. This heavy-handed regulation not only intrudes upon the personal privacy of the customer, but itís cumbersome to business and it will cause divisions within our communities.
Can the Finance minister tell us why he found it necessary to impose this additional red tape upon Yukoners?
First, let me point out that this is not additional red tape. It is the normal
accounting practices in the
Mr. McRobb: Well, once again, the Premierís accounting methods are mixed up. This is a new regulation. The government is requiring businesses to report information that people feel is confidential. All of the calls, e-mails and letters I received were strongly opposed to the governmentís collection of this personal information.
One letter-writer said that the proposed system was truly offensive and called it a violation of confidentiality. Another family instructed their fuel retailer not to provide their personal information to the government.
Can the Finance minister indicate whether he cleared this regulation through the Yukon Privacy Commissioner before he lunged ahead with this invasion of Yukonersí privacy?
Hopefully we can calm the Member for Kluane down to some degree. This is
certainly not an invasion of privacy; itís simple accounting practices. We are
responsible to ensure that those who purchase tax-exempt fuel are indeed
eligible. There are issues here.
Mr. McRobb: If the Premier were better grounded with Yukoners, maybe he would take this situation more seriously. Now I have asked the Privacy Commissioner to investigate. This morning he informed me that he will. Believe it or not this is the same government that promised to conduct a red tape review to reduce compliance costs and administrative requirements; however, small business people have said this regulation will increase compliance costs and administrative requirements.
Not long ago, the government set up a committee comprised of four backbenchers to reduce regulatory roadblocks and cost to government. Itís bad enough that weíre still waiting for any product from that committee. Now this same government wants to foist the cost of monitoring tax-exempt fuel sales on to the private sector. Will the Finance minister now do the right thing and repeal this cumbersome regulation?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Thereís no cumbersome regulation to repeal. But let the record show that the official opposition, the NDP in this House, would support the purchase of tax-exempt fuel in contravention of the laws and the policies and the procedures that any government must follow. Thatís an important point to make.
With regard to the removal of red tape, the
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Speaker: Opposition House leader, on a point of order.
Mr. McRobb: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, the Premier is misrepresenting the position of the official opposition in his attempt to scrape up any kind of reason to respond to the question. I believe he has violated the House rules.
Speaker: Government House leader, on the point of order.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, there is no point of order. There was no rule cited as per the Standing Order and this is just a conflict between members.
Speaker: On the point of order, leader of the third party.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, on the point of order, what I distinctly heard the Premier suggest was that the official opposition party was attempting to suggest that Yukoners would violate a regulation and so violate the law. That would appear to me to be in contravention of Standing Order 19(g).
†Speaker: †The Chair reserves the right to rule on this at a later date. I need to review the Blues and take into consideration all that was said.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Well, with respect to the issue, government is responsible to ensure that we are doing things in accordance with the law, policy and procedure. That is exactly what is happening here. One can only conclude what the position of the official opposition would be in their line of questioning.
As far as the regulatory issues are
concerned, and most recently the review of our fishing regulations by our
committee ó and with the
Question re: †Radio communication system, replacement of
†Ms. Duncan: Iíd like to ask the Minister of Highways and Public Works about the
contracting process for the project to replace the governmentís mobile radio
communication system. Mr. Speaker, instead of the standard request for
My question: why did the government issue
an RFQ when we know from past experience that this method of contracting has
We are looking to replace our mobile radio system here in the
Ms. Duncan: Well, I appreciate the ministerís answer. I would have appreciated it even more if he had actually answered the question of why they went with this method of contracting.
Mr. Speaker, chapter 22 of the Umbrella Final Agreement says the
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, now that the member has brought forward an issue under the Umbrella Final Agreement, I will respond in terms of this issue. First, the issue of chapter 22 does not dictate that the government simply hand out contracts to First Nations. It says that the government may, in certain instances, negotiate project agreements, for example.
In this case, we are simply testing the waters through an RFQ to see if the replacement of the communication systems, not only for government but across this territory, is eligible as a P3 candidate.
Furthermore, in dealing with the previous
RFQ on the bridge in
So we are living up to the spirit and intent of the Umbrella Final Agreement and chapter 22 to the letter in all instances.
Well, I appreciate the Premierís answer; however, it didnít address the
question of how the RFQ meets chapter 22. Not only does this project replace
the radio communication system, but the government also followed up on my
suggestion to make the project provide cellphone service to all communities. It
also has the technical ability in the design to provide all
Iíd like to ask the Minister of Highways
and Public Works if he has had any discussions with the Minister of Health and
the Minister of Justice to guarantee that the new service would not overburden
justice, medical and community health care workers. And can he ensure the House
We are currently discussing the
In essence, we are looking to replace an antiquated system to assist the RCMP in performing their duties, to assist our health care workers in the communities, and also to protect our highway and other employees of the government who use the service. I think thatís the primary reason for the replacement and implementation of the new MoCS.
Question re: †
Cardiff: The initial contract for the
Mr. Cardiff: We would like to see the audit tabled as soon as possible because selected parts of the audit have already been leaked, and itís very disturbing. There are people out there in the public who have been accused of mismanagement, and the worst part of it is that they donít have any opportunity to defend themselves. Theyíre being threatened in their workplaces. Theyíre going out and theyíre getting lawyers. Already there are reports that people are really concerned and their jobs are being threatened.
Will the minister now do the honourable thing and immediately release the final report and all correspondence to the auditor?
Mr. Hart: I
will reiterate what I just previously stated: the government recognized
Mr. Cardiff: Well, Mr. Speaker, the minister and his heavy-handed actions are causing problems for people. I would remind the minister that it was a motion by the Member for Pelly-Nisutlin that first urged the government ó not the trustee ó to undertake a forensic audit. The minister actually committed to doing it before the trustee requested it.
The minister cannot miss the irony of a
report on the runaway municipal expenses going more than 200 percent overbudget.
On top of this, there was a large sum of money spent on supervisors and
trustees, not to mention the money that has been spent on the audit by the City
Now we have potential legal actions coming out of the release of the forensic audit because of the naming of people in that audit. How much more money is the minister prepared to set aside to deal with legal actions arising from this inflammatory report?
As I will indicate again, the goal of the forensic audit is: how did
We are taking steps to fix the problems in
As far as the member opposite is concerned, I plan to release the report here in the House as soon as possible. As far as time goes, yes, the early indications were that the report could be completed in a timely fashion. After the individual got in there, it was obvious that, due to lack of records or the inability to find records to do his evaluation, it became very difficult. It took a lot longer than anticipated. Coupled with that was the fact that the auditor was sick for a time. In essence, the biggest problem was trying to find the appropriate paperwork to make his assumptions. It took a long time ó a lot longer than he anticipated ó to get this report done and a lot longer than I anticipated. As such, I indicated that I would table the report in the House, and I will be doing so.
Question re: †Northern Splendor Reindeer Farm
†Mr. Hardy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question
for the Premier to follow up on the issue I raised earlier with the Minister of
Environment. The 56 reindeer at the Northern Splendor Reindeer Farm are not
domestic animals under the Yukon Act.
They are not game farm animals. They are wildlife. The
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, our government clearly recognizes that the previous Liberal administration, when they helped create the new Yukon Act, failed to provide for the regulation of reindeer as had previously been done under section 47 of the old Yukon Act. Mr. Speaker, we have reassured the reindeer farmers that they can continue to carry out their business as they have done previously by ensuring that permits will be available for the export or sale of their stock. No permits have been requested or applied for by the owners of this reindeer herd. The only caveat put on it was that it had to go to a bona fide end user.
What we have is a number of market
conditions that have changed for the owners of these reindeer. The market has
collapsed. Where at one time they were receiving $15,000 to $20,000 per animal
for choice breeding stock, the stock demands now are virtually non-existent. In
fact the latest figure that we were given for reindeer is ó when the herd in Tuktoyaktuk
Mr. Hardy: Mr. Speaker, these people asked for a permit and they were turned down. Maybe this minister needs to figure out what the heck his department is doing. Maybe he should get involved; maybe he should talk to the people. But he hasnít done that, Mr. Speaker.
I am getting a little tired of him blaming previous governments for actions. For two and a half years, they have been in power and they havenít done a thing. Take some responsibility.
The Premier could have solved this problem once and for all last spring. All he had to do was deal with these people in good faith. He dealt with the other two wildlife operators, but not these two, and I have to ask why. Perhaps the Premier should remember what the French philosopher de Montaigne had to say about stubborn and ardent clinging to oneís opinion.
With less than 24 hours to go, will the Premier do the right thing and start negotiating in good faith with these people, or will stubbornness rule the day?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I think we have to express to the House the facts of this matter. It is correct that there was an omission in the amendments to the Yukon Act that resulted in a situation ó unfortunately for the proponents ó in regard to the reindeer. This government, in recognizing that, has done considerable things to try to help the proponents. Not only did we feed the stock for an extended period of time, we offered third-party involvement to try to get to a better understanding of the position that the proponents were taking.
Itís also important to note, as the minister has pointed out, these animals have been domesticated for thousands of years; therefore, there is a responsibility to be borne by the proponents in this matter. The government has done its part. We will now, should the case arise, have to act accordingly under the laws, regulations and policies that are in place today, but there is a responsibility on behalf of the proponents who own the reindeer.
Mr. Hardy: This Premier is not putting the facts on the table. These reindeer are owned by the government. Theyíre wildlife. And what a bizarre way to run a territory ó just make it up as you go along. If you donít like it, make it up, re-spin the story. A B.C. consultant gets $60,000 to deal with the reindeer issue. The operators canít even get a load of feed, because this government has denied and gone back on their word. The Environment minister can ignore his outstanding loans, but the government gleefully forces the reindeer farm operators to the wall. Two other wildlife operators got cash settlements; these two get the shaft. Thatís whatís happening here.
Will the Premier intervene to ensure these animals do not become the innocent victims of government stubbornness and instruct his Environment minister to ensure that they are properly cared for until an honourable settlement has been reached with the reindeer farm operators? I know theyíre willing; why isnít this Premier?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Our concern for the welfare of this herd of domesticated reindeer has been quite evident from the outset. We have taken the step, which has been done previously, of feeding the reindeer, hoping that the owners of the reindeer can come to an amicable arrangement.
What we have is a depressed market. What the owners of these reindeer are seeking is compensation for feeding and looking after the reindeer for a considerable length of time. They are requiring over $1 million in compensation from the government for doing so. That doesnít include the sale of any land or the animals.
The governmentís offer has been there and has been rejected by the owners of the reindeer. We have attempted all sorts of mediation and arrangements with these owners, and we have been unsuccessful, but it was not because of a considerable lack of trying on our part.
Right now, we have a product that is not in demand. The market has collapsed, and the owners are in a dilemma, but we have an obligation under the Animal Health Act and its regulations to ensure that there is no cross-contamination of disease into the wildlife or no breeding into the wildlife. Those steps will be taken by the department in the event that the owners of these reindeer allow them to wander outside of the area that they own.
Question re: †Northern Splendor Reindeer Farm
†Mr. Hardy: Thatís very interesting. I heard today that an offer has been made to the reindeer operators. Iíd like to know what the offer is. Iíd like this minister to put it on the table in the Legislative Assembly and tell people what that offer is.
I see broken promises. Thatís what I see. I also hear a threat. I hear a threat being directed toward the reindeer operators from this government. Iíd like to know what that threat is. Iíd like to hear this minister tell the people of this territory how theyíre going to deal with these two people.
Now, last October 21, the Minister of Environment said, ďOur government is in the process of developing changes to legislation and regulations to address this very issue.Ē
Has this minister changed the act to date?
Has he changed the act, and has he discussed this, or asked the Fish and Wildlife
Management Board to consult
Speaker: The Chair would just like to point out that I am not entirely comfortable with the direction in which this debate is going with the adjectives being used. I understand that it is a passionate and pertinent debate; however, I would ask the members to just pull themselves back a little.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. There has been no change to the legislation at this time with respect to this area. What the department has done ó both the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources and the Minister of Environment ó under a ministerial order and under the Animal Health Act is to prohibit European reindeer from roaming free in any free game management subzone created under the Wildlife Act and its regulations.
The concern that is raised by all parties that are knowledgeable is the transmission of disease from reindeer to wildlife. There is also the issue of breeding wildlife by these reindeer. There are a number of issues that the departments involved have outlined for the owners of the reindeer that refer to what they cannot do. It is not a threat. It is a ministerial order under the Animal Health Act to prevent the spread of disease and inbreeding.
Mr. Hardy: Well, thatís interesting. This government has had two and a half years to deal with this issue ó two and a half years ó and they havenít dealt with it. We have a Premier who, of course, bailed out on promises that he made to have mediation. He did not want to follow through with it. We have a minister responsible for agriculture who refused to provide feed that was promised last year. He refuses to do it now. We have a Minister of Environment who is reinterpreting what has happened constantly, blaming the former Liberal government, which may or may not be responsible. But for two and a half years, they have been in charge. There is a responsibility there, Mr. Speaker. I am waiting for some accountability from that minister and from that Premier for what has happened.
Now, earlier this year, the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board made recommendations to the minister about the need to resolve this issue. Will the minister table that recommendation and his reply to it?
In line of the questioning, I think itís important to note that this government
stepped up and helped the proponents feed their animals. This government
offered third-party involvement to get to a better understanding, on behalf of
the proponents, of the situation that had developed here. Weíre not blaming
anybody; weíre pointing out the facts. There was an omission in the amendments
to the Yukon Act, which directly
resulted in the situation we deal with today. And this government assured the
proponents that if they wanted to sell or move their animals, we would make
sure they could. This government has done everything possible, but this government
will also maintain the integrity of our wildlife population to ensure there is
no transference of disease across breeding from domesticated animals to
Mr. Hardy: I love to hear all Yukon Party members clapping when their Premier speaks and when their Premier does not work with the people of this territory but is going to use the might of this government to crush these people. Theyíre going to use their position to let these animals starve, and they will be charging these people at the end of the day and think theyíve done a good job, but theyíve treated other farm operators differently. Thereís a double standard here.
In December, the minister signed a $60,000 contract with a B.C. consultant to review reindeer game farm management. This government imposed a moratorium on game farms. Reindeer arenít game farm animals and never have been, so they were willing to spend $60,000 to sign a contract with a consultant to review reindeer game farm management, but will supply no feed for these animals. They would rather let them starve and charge the owners.
What is the intent of this contract that
Iím talking about, and why hasnít the consultant ever spoken to the only people
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The dilemma that the government finds itself in is we have the owner of the reindeer wanting $1.17 million in compensation for looking after the reindeer ó $800,000 to $1.17 million, depending on which figures you want to take. What the government has suggested would be the right course of action is that an independent appraiser be brought in, establish the price of the reindeer, and they could be purchased at that price. And that price, we were given to understand, would range from $360 per animal to a high of perhaps $500 per animal, which means $20,000 to $30,000 for the entire herd, versus what the owners currently are asking for, which is $800,000 to over $1 million ó not for the reindeer, just for having looked after them for this entire period of time. Mr. Speaker, the contract that was signed by this government with an outside firm to evaluate was more encompassing than just the reindeer. This individual was looking at a whole series of facets in the operational end of the Department of Environment.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed.
Notice of opposition private membersí business
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(3), I wish to identify the items
to be called for business on
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to section 14.2(3) of the Standing Orders, I would like
to identify for debate on
Unanimous consent re calling Motion No. 404
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, I would request the unanimous consent of the House for Motion No. 404 to be called at this time.
Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Some Hon. Members: Disagreed.
Speaker: Unanimous consent has been denied.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Bill No. 14: Second
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 14, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Fentie.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I move that Bill No. 14, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 2005-06 be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Premier that Bill No. 14, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 2005-06, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I will be brief, as traditionally and historically interim supply receives expedient passage through this House.
It is my pleasure to introduce Bill No. 14.
This act requests spending authority, which is not to exceed $399,476,000 in
total. It is for defraying the several charges and expenses of the public
The amounts for operation and maintenance are $261,813,000, and the amounts for capital are $137,663,000.
The full details of these expenditures are included in the main estimates and will be discussed and debated at great length, Iím sure, during general and departmental debate on the 2005-06 main estimates.
I request that Bill No. 14, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 2005-06 be now given expedient passage in this House.
Mr. Hardy: As we have said in the press time and time again and we said last year when we faced this same situation with the interim supply bill, we support it and we would be passing it before it became an issue with the government in accordance with their spending.
I say ďweĒ. I know Iím speaking on behalf of the NDP and my colleagues here, but Iíve also heard the member of the third party indicate that as well.
I was reviewing some of the discussions and conversations that we had last budget last year, and we were in the exact same situation as we are today. This government decided once again to bring in a special warrant to basically cover their tracks just in case anything went sideways, as just about every project that theyíve developed or anything theyíve done so far has gone, or could go.
Even when we on this side have indicated that we are going to support it, they still bring in a special warrant. Why do they bring in a special warrant? I say it comes down to a lack of trust. These are people on the other side in this government who do not trust their fellow citizens. They do not trust other Members of the Legislative Assembly, and I would say also that they do not trust each other. We have seen and witnessed many of the problems over the last two and a half years. Their control of government finances is an example of lack of trust and unwillingness to consult and collaborate with other people or with other Members of the Legislative Assembly.
Now, this could be quite easily avoided if the government were far more organized in their dealings. I have heard that most of the budget was drawn up before Christmas. Iíve heard the Premier on many occasions talk about how efficiently theyíre running. If that were the case, they would at least be able to do what other governments have done in the past and that is to call the Legislative Assembly back before March, because that is not uncommon by other governments, but for some reason this Premier and his colleagues are not able to get back into the Legislative Assembly before the end of March. And here we are once again, in the last days of March, with the fact that we have to pass an interim supply bill within a few days to ensure that spending can continue, the government can continue to operate, only because this is a government that does not want to be in the Legislative Assembly and does not want to be accountable.
They do not want proper debate and will do anything possible to avoid it. Or ó and I put this on the table ó it could be because they are incompetent. It could be that this Premier is so disorganized as Finance minister that he canít get the figures in. He canít put it together in time, so here we are at the end of March trying to debate an interim supply bill. Every other government before him has been able to get that work done beforehand. Every other government before him has come in and presented budgets on time ó usually in February ó† so that there is a lot of time to debate the spending. For some reason, this Premier and his colleagues are not capable of doing that.
I point to confusion on their part, or ineptitude. Thatís all it can be, unless they truly do not want to be in the Legislative Assembly. I canít imagine that they wouldnít want to be in here. This is democracy. This is where we debate spending. This is where weíre supposed to be working and where accountability happens. This is why we have official oppositions and opposition members ó to scrutinize the spending. There is no way in the world it would ever cross my mind that the Yukon Party government would want to avoid that.
After two and a half years, I am starting
to get a bit suspicious. Their behaviour and actions are starting to point to
that. The special warrant is a perfect example. There are massive special
warrants being brought in by this government. I remember the Premier very
clearly condemning the use of special warrants. I remember the Member for
They use it to serve their own good and not serve the good of the people of this territory or of the Legislative Assembly, and it is an assault and it is an attack on democracy. They do not work with the members across the floor here. I have not received a call from the Finance minister to ask if there would be a problem with the interim supply bill. I know the House leaders. That hasnít been asked and they havenít acted on that. Why? Because they refuse to work with the people on this side of the House, and that has become very obvious.
As a matter of fact, they refuse to work with most people of this territory, and we have witnessed that for two and a half years, Mr. Speaker, and I can assure you that the people of this territory are getting very tired of the attitude that is being presented by this government.
So here we are once again with an interim supply bill in the last days of March. April 1 is coming up. They bring in a special warrant to cover their tracks, and I mentioned one of the reasons earlier. Weíre not working together. Weíre not working together because they will not pick up the phone or work with us on something like this even when we indicate time and time again that we will support an interim supply bill. They will not work together because they are heavy-handed and they are inept.
Ms. Duncan: I rise to address Bill No. 14, the Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 2005-06. This is standard housekeeping legislation that passes through, as the Finance minister has noted, fairly quickly and I am certainly prepared, as I have indicated all along, to support the speedy passage of the interim supply bill.
I would like to make mention briefly about
the timeliness of this bill, Mr. Speaker. If I have asked once, I have asked a
thousand times of members on the government side to set a legislative calendar.
Itís not rocket science. They can manage it in the House of Commons with 300 members
plus, they can manage it in the Senate, they can manage it in other
legislatures in this country, and the
We all know when the Legislature is reconvening. Thatís not about us in this House; itís about the thousands of Yukoners who work for the Government of Yukon. Itís about the thousands of Yukoners who await the tabling of the budget ó well they used to, prior to the pre-announcements by the government. Set the legislative calendar so we all know. Itís not difficult; it could be done, and it should be done.
The government has in the past been advised that I am prepared to support the passage of an interim supply bill to ensure that we are able to pay the bills, so to speak, and I reiterate that support today. I would ask for a similar note of respect and ask the government ó perhaps as early as when this session concludes for the balance of the calendar year ó if they could set the legislative session. That way there would be no guessing game going on. Are we going back in? When are we going back in? There also wouldnít be the need to pass a special warrant, and the use of special warrants by this government has been unprecedented in the territory. Itís not a necessity. Given that we were going back, given that the interim supply bill was being put before the House, given that they had all the assurances of a speedy passage of the interim supply bill from members on the opposite side, it wasnít necessary to do the special warrant. Members opposite know that.
I would suggest that the government rethink their attitude toward these simple, common courtesies and in the future set a legislative calendar and provide all Yukoners with information as to when the Legislature is reconvening and the date the budget will be tabled.
That would go a long way. I would respectfully ask, once again, that they do that and I would, once again, provide my assurance to them that I am prepared to pass the interim supply bill. It is the standard appropriations.
I would chastise them for making use of the special warrant. It wasnít required. It was once again a demonstration of the disrespect they have for members on this side, as well as for the public. I would ask that they rethink that and perhaps consider common courtesy in their future actions.
That being said, Mr. Speaker, I am certainly prepared to pass Bill No. 14.
Thank you very much.
Speaker: If the Hon. Premier speaks, he will now close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Well, Iíd like to thank the members opposite, the leader of the official opposition and the leader of the third party, for their overwhelming support of the interim supply bill ó although one can only wonder if the members opposite are actually supporting it, given their dissertations.
So let me respond briefly to some of the comments made. Iíll begin with the leader of the third party.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with the memberís suggestion that set legislative sitting dates are an option that might be pursued. The question the government side would ask the member opposite is: why then, when in government, did not the member opposite ó as Premier charged with the duties and responsibilities of bringing in budgets and other legislation to this House ó set dates for legislative sittings?
Mr. Speaker, what was done instead was to invoke closure to debate. All we have to do is review the changes to the Standing Orders.
What the leader of the third party actually has done is change the Standing Orders when in government, invoked closure, and thatís the way it is. However, if one were to review Hansard in any detail, one would quickly come to the conclusion that there has been a tremendous amount of time spent by the members opposite debating everything but the budget. That, then, flies in the face of their position, admonishing the government for bringing in a special warrant to back up the passage of an interim supply bill. Thatís not disrespectful, Mr. Speaker. It is merely something the government side feels would be the prudent course to take, considering the experiences we have had today in trying to debate with the members opposite.
Now, the leader of the official opposition
went on at great length about fiscal mismanagement. I think itís important that
we point out some of the facts here. When this government took office in
November 2002, the government was debt-servicing cash flow to deliver programs
and services to the
What has transpired over the last two-plus years since that very financially troubling time for the territory? Not only have we consistently increased and improved the fiscal position of this territory, beginning with walking out on the Prime Minister of Canada and getting a commitment from Canada not only to increase our health care funding and investment, but also to accept the business case from the three northern territories that would ensure that the three territories got their fair share of the wealth of this country, given our contribution.
We have tabled a budget today that has come a long way from the fiscal position that we were in due to the Liberal mismanagement of our finances in the two short years they were in office. Not only have we got a surplus position for year-end, a few short years ago we were in a deficit position. We have a very healthy net financial position. We have also a very healthy accumulated surplus, and we have again tabled the largest budget in the history of the territory, due not to fiscal mismanagement but prudent fiscal management in growing the resources and the finances of this territory to create more options to ensure that thereís a better quality of life for all Yukoners.
That is an accomplishment with the finances of this territory, and itís allowing us to do many things. Itís allowing us to improve our education system. Itís allowing us to strengthen our social fabric. Itís allowing us to create jobs and opportunities for Yukoners by increasing dramatically the stimulus in this territory. As the member opposite points out, this is something to do with fiscal management; itís good, sound fiscal management.
This government will continue to work in
the manner that we have financially, socially, economically, environmentally.
Weíll continue to collaborate with all jurisdictions around the
Again I want to thank the members for their
support, although one would wonder if they truly support anything at all in
this territory that is good and that is something for the future of the
Speaker: Are you prepared for the question?
Some Hon. Member: Division.
Speaker: Division has been called.
Speaker: Mr. Clerk, would you poll the House.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Lang: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Hart: Agree.
Mr. Cathers: Agree.
Mr. Hassard: Agree.
Mr. Hardy: Agree.
Mr. McRobb: Agree.
Mr. Fairclough: Agree.
Mr. Cardiff: Agree.
Mrs. Peter: Agree.
Ms. Duncan: Agree.
Mr. Arntzen: Agree.
Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 14 yea, nil nay.
Speaker: The ayes have it; I declare the motion carried.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 14 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into the Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
†Chair: Order please. Committee of the Whole will come to order. The matter before the Committee is Bill No. 14, Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 2005-06. Before we begin, do members wish a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will recess for 15 minutes.
Chair: Committee of the Whole will now come to order.
Bill No. 14 ó Interm Supply Appropriation Act, 2005-06
Chair: The matter before the Committee is Bill No. 14, Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 2005-06. We will begin with general debate.
Mr. Fentie: I
will be brief in my comments in general debate. Iím pleased to be able to
provide the Committee of the Whole with some introductory comments on Bill No.
14, Interim Supply Appropriation Act,
2005-06, before we move into general debate. This appropriation act is
required to allow the public service to continue to make certain expenditures
while the main estimates for 2005-06 are being considered by the Legislative
Assembly during this 2005 spring sitting. The interim funding requested is for
the period of
The amounts required for this three-month
period have been derived by canvassing all
Mr. Deputy Chair, I look forward to debating this interim supply appropriation bill in the Legislature and hope for its quick passage so that the operations of government for Yukon can continue unfettered as they should. Historically, interim supply is a very simple process.
Mr. Hardy: Well, itís interesting that the Premier indicates that itís a very simple matter and that heís looking forward to a quick passage. One would think, in view of the Finance ministerís actions with regard to special warrants and so on, that he would indicate something different. Obviously he harbours great concerns about these interim supply bills.
I have a few questions. I donít have many. Iím looking more forward to the budget debate when we get into the departments. I feel like we can spend a lot of time in that area.
As I said earlier, and as the leader of the third party has indicated, we support the passage of the interim supply bill. I do know that she has some questions as well.
I guess my first question is: why so large? Itís not unusual for any other government to bring in an interim supply bill. Generally, itís more reflective of one-third of the projected budget; this one is half. And weíre talking three months, yet itís pretty well half the spending. Within capital works, the Finance minister has indicated $137 million to be spent in the first three months. Thatís pretty substantial. Thatís way over half of the capital.
Iím looking for a better explanation than
the one the Finance minister gave where he talked about the hospital and
Hon. Mr. Fentie: First, Mr. Deputy Chair, if we are going to deal with ratio, I think if we did the math on this, considering the large size of the budget, that historically the ratios are fairly consistent. As pointed out in my opening comments, there are a number of areas that require front-end loaded appropriations, like the hospital, the Yukon College, and some NGOs because they receive the bulk of the grants and this is the time of year where a large percentage of capital expenditures are made. So that is why the interim supply bill reflects the amount or the value that it does, but it is certainly not inconsistent based on ratio, considering the size of this budget versus past budgets, if you go back any number of years.
Thatís about the best way I can respond to the memberís question.
Mr. Hardy: Will the Finance minister give us a ratio breakdown of the last 10 years of budgets?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Well, Mr. Deputy Chair, weíll have the department officials commence the work ó which will be extensive ó of reviewing† 10 yearsí worth of budgets to determine the ratio. I want to point out to the member opposite that this isnít something we pulled out of a hat. The values for the interim supply bill are based on polling each and every department and what their expenditure requirements will be for the first three months of the fiscal year.
Mr. Hardy: I sure hope the minister is not indicating that the Finance department is totally disorganized and hasnít got the concept or the ability to put together a ratio or percentage base in terms of what the interim supply bill numbers are and the budget. I sure hope he is not indicating that.
I canít see the request being extensive at all. I would suspect that this is something that most people within the Finance department would be able to do very simply. I donít think his indications are actually correct.
As to the front-end loading argument ó I am kind of curious about that. Is that any different from budgets of past governments?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Deputy Chair, no, it is probably a mirror approach. We poll the departments. The departments provide their spending requirements. The Department of Finance ensures that weíre following things like the Financial Administration Act and other things that are very important, such as statutes and legislative mechanisms.
I would also point out that the officials
in the Department of Finance are very busy. Itís no surprise that we are in
this financial position in the
So they are very busy in continuing the work of strengthening our financial position, but we will dedicate somebody to go through the very documents that the member opposite has in the archives of the official oppositionís offices. The member opposite could dedicate also a person within their offices to pull out past budgets and sit down and look at interim supply then versus now and come to a determination as easily and as quickly as an official in the Department of Finance.
Mr. Hardy: That kind of contradicts the ministerís former statement where he said it was going to be a long process and it was an arduous task. Iím not sure if the minister really knows where heís at on these kinds of questions. Maybe he just makes it up on the fly. Maybe thatís how the budget is derived as well. Maybe thatís how this figure came about. But I do look forward to getting the ratios. Itís not an arduous task and itís a simple question and I thank the minister for offering it. Itís not a problem.
Can the minister tell me why he brought in a special warrant?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Well, first we have to have clarity because it is somewhat confusing sometimes in trying to understand the oppositionís positioning and the positions that they take on many areas that are important to Yukoners. Firstly, considering how busy Finance officials are in doing their good works, it is an extensive exercise for someone to be dedicated to do something that the members opposite could do just as easily. Yes, itís going to take some time for them to pull out from archives past budgets and interim supply bills, and I also would point out, in terms of clarity, that we can only do this exercise where there have been interim supply bills required. So that will be an issue that hopefully the members opposite donít come back about and ask, ďWell, why arenít these years included?Ē And Iíll tell the members up front: because those are years where there were no interim supply bills necessary. Would that be stretching the issue? No, thatís correct.
Now thereís the question about why the special warrant. Well, if one has followed debates about budgets in this Legislature over the last couple of years, one would quickly come to the conclusion that the opposition is not debating budgets at all and is finding every way possible to debate all other issues. That considered ó and the importance of expenditures beginning April 1 for employeesí wages, for NGOs, for the hospital, for Yukon College, for capital projects ó the prudent course is to ensure that we back up the interim supply bill with another mechanism ó in this case the special warrant ó to ensure that there are going to be expenditures forthcoming, duly appropriated, starting April 1, 2005.
The second special warrant is self-explanatory. It includes overvotes for departments during the existing fiscal year. Obviously, the prudent, sound fiscal course to take is to deal with those overvotes and not contravene the statutes that regulate and govern how we as a government must manage the finances of the territory. Therefore, the special warrant reflects those overvotes. That includes the cost of fire suppression and other important matters.
So that is why there is the need for the special warrants. I hope that helps clear things up for the member opposite.
Mr. Hardy: While talking to the leader of the Liberals, we were trying to remember when an interim supply bill hadnít been brought in, in our memory. Maybe the minister has a different way of remembering things. How many governments before ó in the last 10 years is all I ask for ó have not brought in an interim supply bill, since he seems to indicate that there have been times?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Deputy Chair, thatís why weíre going to dedicate a Finance official to this exercise; however, I would again repeat for the member opposite, if anyone in the precincts of the official opposition is listening, around the walls are many shelves containing much information, including past budgets for the period of time the member is focused on. The members opposite could also go through this exercise, but we will provide that information to the member opposite. Let me point something else out that has transpired with past governments: there was a government not too long ago that woke up April 1 and had no spending authority because of the gamesmanship that had transpired on the floor of this Legislature. I guess the moral of this would be ďonce burned, twice shyĒ.
Mr. Hardy: Well, isnít that interesting, Mr. Chair? The Premier of the Yukon Party is referring to, of course, a game that was played by a Yukon Party leader on the opposition. So, of course, I understand why Yukon Party people donít trust each other. Itís obvious that they have acted in a manner that raises concerns about other people. But we have been very clear on this side that we will pass an interim supply bill for every time this government has brought in a budget. We have been very clear about that.
So there should be no question about that. We on this side have not played any games. All the gamesmanship continues to happen within the Yukon Party ranks.
So maybe the Premier is very suspicious of his colleagues in the Legislative Assembly, but I can assure him that he doesnít have to be. We live by our word and stand by our parties and everything works out well on this side.
I would like to remind the Finance minister that we donít have walls and walls of documents any more. We have moved our filing system and itís only on one wall now. If he wants to come down and see what itís like now, he will realize that itís a big improvement since he left.
The concerns that I have, of course, and Iíve expressed them before, about the special warrant ó again, itís the size of it and the fact that it had to be brought in. I think that it stems more from the governmentís inability to get into the Legislative Assembly, like other governments, early enough because they are not organized enough.
Could the minister tell me when the work was pretty well completed with the departments and his colleagues in terms of drafting the budget and when they were ready to come into the Legislative Assembly?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: First off, Mr. Deputy Chair, I think itís important to recognize that this side of the House has no problem with trusting anyone ó not only our fellow colleagues or the members opposite. Itís not a question of trust.
Just this afternoon, however, in the
Legislative Assembly, an offer was made by the government to ensure that we
could table the forensic audit report on the City of
As far as when we were ready to come into the Legislative Assembly, considering the size of this budget and all the investments that are taking place in Community Services, Economic Development, the Department of Education, Energy, Mines and Resources, the Department of Environment, the Executive Council Office, Health and Social Services, Highways and Public Works, Justice, Public Service Commission with the investment in our public service, Tourism and Culture, the Womenís Directorate ó the list goes on ó a tremendous amount of work transpired during the course of fiscal year 2004-05 to prepare our government and the Yukon for the coming fiscal year 2005-06. There were 784 million reasons to take our time and do this right, and thatís exactly what we did, especially the Department of Finance.
Furthermore, we have already commenced work on the 2006-07 budgetary process, and we were ready to come into the House two weeks ago with a budget. That tells you a lot considering the scope, the extensiveness of our investments, and itís all about creating a better quality of life for Yukoners. Itís not a question of disrespect for the Assembly. Itís not a question of anything of the sort. It is called good, sound financial management, and good governance improving the lives of Yukoners.
Hardy: My goodness, they act like theyíre kids in the candy store that
have run amok because itís all brand new for them, and they just run around.
They havenít done this before and thatís why they have to wait right to the
bitter end before they come in. Iíd suggest that if the year-end was in June,
we wouldnít be coming in until June. We could sit through the summer. I do know
that they really do like sitting through some of the finest weather we have in
I donít buy the argument that it is sound fiscal management to wait until the last minute to bring in the budget. Youíre backed right up against the wall and you have to bring in an interim supply bill ó a very large interim supply bill; itís almost half the budget. I donít believe that it is sound fiscal management to back yourself into that kind of spending corner where you have to bring in a special warrant because youíre scared that you might not get your way and therefore you have to have that hammer. I donít believe that you can categorize that as sound fiscal management. I almost view it as ineptitude on behalf of the Minister of Finance and his colleagues, because all the other governments have been able to do this. Why is this one struggling so much? Why do they have so many problems in getting into the Legislative Assembly in a timely fashion?
If theyíre already working on the next budget, 2006-07 ó let me rephrase that. I would assume that thatís what they did, of course, last year. I think I heard the minister state that last year as well. I would assume that much of this work would be done and it wouldnít be piled all up into March, still frantically trying to decide where the money is going to go. I give a lot more credit to the people who work for this government, their abilities, than what this minister is doing.
I can assure you that other governments did and were able to get into the Assembly a lot earlier. So why is it so difficult for this government to do that?
Now, the minister has indicated that all the work was done two weeks ago. Why werenít we in two weeks ago?
First, letís point to some issues here that relate to the financial or fiscal
management of the government. This government is not struggling financially. In
fact, it has dramatically improved the finances of this territory. Past
governments struggled. Thatís why there was $200 million-plus less in
I know the leader of the third party will
get up and loudly proclaim that this is the gift from the federal government.
Well, I have to tell the member opposite that this is our fair share, and it
took the three northern premiers to walk out on the Prime Minister of Canada in
February 2003. From there, we got a commitment from
That resulted, to a great degree, in the
financial position we are in today. But it must also be pointed out that along
with a 5.3-percent increase in our transfer from
Quite contrary to what the third party was pointing out the other day in the face of the camera, in the camera lens ó and most Yukoners know that. Most Yukoners know that the federal government announced the northern strategy fund before Christmas and now are debating the budget that includes the northern strategy fund. The important point here is we were informing our public, we were not spending money, we were informing the public in terms of reflecting back on their very important input to the creation of this budget as weíve done in the previous budget. So much of what weíve created today is based on the input of Yukoners. Weíre merely informing them.
So all in all what the government has done
is in accordance with all the statutes and legislation we must follow, but more
importantly itís taking the time to ensure the
Mr. Hardy: Well, here we go now, as everybody jockeys for position to decide who got the money into the territory. I hear the Liberal MP running around saying he got it. I doubt if thatís ó he has contributed. I recognize that. I hear the Premier running around saying he got it. He has contributed. I would say past governments have contributed ó absolutely. Each step of negotiations or relations doesnít just happen overnight. Everything is built upon other things and our people who work for the government, who negotiate and deal directly with the federal government, definitely probably deserve more credit than anyone else in this room. The politicians are sure going to try to attach themselves to the credit for all that.
I have been thinking about the influx of
money into the territory over the last couple of years. Thereís no question
that itís had a profound impact on the unemployment figures in the territory.
Credit has to be given to a federal government that has decided that itís going
to invest more in the
Now, thereís no question that the creation
The discovery of diamonds in the
Another fact that is having an impact now is minority governments. Minority governments are more responsive to provinces and territories. Theyíre trying to deal with those issues. Theyíre always more responsive and they are definitely more responsive to people. They have to be. They also have to work very closely with oppositions, and that is, to me, a positive step. What weíre seeing on the federal scene is that happening, and weíre seeing input from all members of Parliament and not just the government side. So that also contributes to it.
Unfortunately that is not being reflected in this Legislative Assembly. I donít think a special warrant was necessary. As I said, the last question I had was, why didnít we go in two weeks ago? Why did we delay the sitting for two weeks? I would like to know if there is a sound fiscal reason behind that, or was it just the wish of the government that they had picked a date and they were comfortable with that? Maybe there is a reason that the minister could explain to us that we would find acceptable. But at this present time, I donít find it acceptable and I donít understand why we didnít go in earlier and be well into our debate on the budget and not be, once again, backed up against the wall with an interim supply bill and a special warrant held over top of us. Thatís not good government. I donít think thatís good government.
My question again: why didnít we go in earlier? What was the delay ó especially when other governments have done it before?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I did answer that question, explaining to the member that the government took the time to inform and involve its public in a meaningful way. But it would be customary also, considering the size of the documents, to have them printed before we table a budget. That took some time over the last number of weeks. A printed budget document is critical to debate, I would suggest. I hope that reasoning resonates to some degree with the member opposite.
The member opposite seems to be fixated on
an issue of being backed up against the wall. Nobody is backed up against the
But weíre now experiencing some of the reasons why our government does what it does, because weíre getting into a discussion that has little to do with interim supply and everything to do with general debate of a nature that does not reflect the issues and the finances of the territory. It reflects the views or opinions of the members opposite.
Frankly, we would have little success in appeasing those opinions and views of the members opposite. They do not agree with the investments weíre making. In the past, they voted against each and every one of them. This budget is an extension of what has been started to date. If we look at the trends and statistics that show some positive movement, I think we can agree that with the investments being made to date, and now with this large increase of investment, those trends should and will continue.
Itís important to also reflect on the fact that government continues to stimulate the economy, strengthen our social fabric, improve our education system and work closely with other jurisdictions ó which was not happening a few short years ago. In fact, we were fighting with other jurisdictions under the leadership of the leader of the third party.
That is something that has changed
Thereís nothing unique or mysterious about the interim supply bill. Iíve already laid out where the expenditures are required, laid out the reasoning why, weíve laid out how the numbers were arrived at by polling all departments, and I think itís necessary for us to move along. Weíre not going to be able to resolve the negative approach by the members opposite. Thatís impossible. That would be like trying to do handsprings over the moon, and we canít do that. So, Mr. Chair, I would suggest that we give passage to the interim supply bill so we can get into debate on the budget, because thatís where all the detail is, should the members wish to do that.
Mr. Hardy: You can always tell when the minister is starting to get a little antsy. Then he starts to try to push us as quickly as possible forward and tell us that weíre wasting our time and that any type of discussion, even a philosophical discussion in regard to how they come to their spending priorities, is wasteful. Of course, once we get into the budget that will also be the line thatís taken. So weíve heard it before. Weíve heard it within the budget. Weíve heard it within departments. The minister has already insulted us about our approach to using general debate to talk about budgets and passing a lot of spending toward the end. Well, every opposition has done that. Thereís nothing different and thereís a reason why that happens.
Each of us approaches it in our own way. Just as when the minister was on this side, he approached it his own way. He voted against expenditures in his own riding when he was in opposition. So what is he saying? Was he any different when he was over here? No, of course not. We figure weíre different. We try to work as closely as we can, but that argument is fairly weak, especially when weíve made it very clear that weíre not necessarily voting against all this spending. There is obviously some very good stuff in it, but we are voting on how this government arrives at that spending and their conduct as a government of this territory.
If there were the ability for us in here to bring down this government at this present time, we would do it. I wouldnít have any hesitation at all.
I have a question about the announcements of the budget over the last four weeks. We have had lots of announcements of spending. If the budget wasnít finished until two weeks ago, how was this government able to announce massive spending priorities when they hadnít even finished the budget?
Well, Mr. Chair, as I pointed out earlier to the member opposite, informing our
public is a very important part of practising good democracy. We were announcing
things like a $1-million upgrade to the Teslin arena and installing an ice
plant for the citizens of Teslin. Of course we would relay that information to
those citizens. We announced a $450,000 investment to complete the community
We announced the stabilization of the Mayo dike. It is a demonstrated need. Of course we are going to inform the citizens of Mayo. We announced further investments in the stabilization of the Porcupine riverbank in Old Crow. Of course we are going to inform the citizens of Old Crow that something very important to them, a critical issue, was going to be taken care of.
We announced the upgrading of the walking
bridge over the
We announced that there is a Carmacks
sewage treatment project, informing the citizens of Carmacks. We will be completing
the Carcross sewage treatment program, also at Burwash Landing and
Mr. Chair, the list goes on and on and on.
And itís important, because we want Yukoners to understand where this territory
is going, and the way to do that is by informing your public. We expressed to
the public that there would be, under Department of Highways and Public Works,
some $72 million for capital projects. I think that is important information
for the public to have in their hands. It breeds an optimistic outlook on
whatís ahead, and it helps the situation the
The member asked why we chose to do this. We chose to inform our public. Thatís something that does not always transpire in debates with the members opposite in the Assembly. But weíre hopeful that the members will see the error of their ways and delve into the detail and facts of this budget ó something they have not done in the past.
Mr. Hardy: Well, thatís once again very nice to hear from the Premier as he announces the spending initiatives, which happen to be with taxpayersí money.
I also find it very interesting that a few minutes ago he informed us that the budget wasnít complete until two weeks ago, but a month ago they started announcing $73 million in capital works projects. He says that they know what theyíre doing over there, but listening to that, it doesnít sound like a really organized group of people running the show.
Our argument ó and we based it on what a lot of other past governments have done when it comes to bringing in a budget ó is that they brought it in earlier, they ensured that they were in the Legislative Assembly so that all the budget can be shared with all the people of the Yukon ó not bits of budget floated out there, depending on which group or organization youíre trying to court that day, but putting it all on the table, laying it all out: ďHereís our spending priorities. Hereís our O&M. Hereís our capital. Hereís our community spending. Hereís the direction weíre going in. Take a look at it. Take a look at all of it so you see where your money is going.Ē
Thatís not what this government does. This government puts out bits and pieces, and then they bring in an interim supply bill in the last few days of March because they have waited so long, for whatever reason, to get into the Legislative Assembly. They bring in a special warrant to cover their tracks because theyíve waited for so long. Itís quite an inept operation, as far as I can see. They donít lay out the whole budget for the people of this territory to be able to scrutinize it in a proper manner.
They put out bits and pieces, and this Premier insists that thatís the good way. ďThatís a good thing,Ē as Martha Stewart, who is now out of jail, would say. This Yukon Party government is using a type of finance and operations that I canít agree is a good thing. Iím hoping that theyíre not using Ms. Stewart as the mentor in this matter.
Now I would suggest, for the future, for the Premier to get his act in order, to get his Yukon Party people together and come in with the next budget earlier. That way people who rely upon government spending, communities that want to know what funding is going to be available, businesses that every year do a substantial amount of work in the spring, summer and fall will have a heads-up long before where weíre at today in the late days of March, long before the pre-announcements before they even finalize their budgets, which he has already admitted that theyíve done. Why canít this Finance minister get his act together? Why canít he get all this work done like former finance ministers were able to do? What is his difficulty in this matter, and then why does he try to spin it in a different manner? Itís not good politics and itís not good economic analysis to put out bits and pieces depending on the group that you want to send it out to.
Get into the Legislative Assembly; letís have the debate; letís have all the figures out there at an early date, so by the time we reach this period, as we come up to April 1, we have a lot of work done. People will have had a chance to analyze the spending habits of this government. Is that asking too much from this Premier? Is this too much for him? I suggest thereís an answer if it is too much.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Well, weíre really forging ahead with passing the interim supply bill; I can tell you that, Mr. Deputy Chair.
I am only going to respond in one manner.
The member opposite points to past governments and their financial management,
so letís look at the facts. Under past governments, in the tabling of budgets,
we had double-digit unemployment, an exodus of the
Not only have we taken the financial
position of the
Also, we are showing an accumulated surplus for year-end, projected at $64 million plus, with a healthy accumulated surplus which, considering our change in our bookkeeping system to full accrual accounting, shows a $465 million accumulated surplus for the territory.
We are showing Yukoners, through our
efforts in fiscal management, the true financial picture of the
Mr. Hardy: Well, isnít that an interesting spin that the Premier put on that one. Iíve got a very simple question, since he is indicating that he is going to give us all the information. I really believe that every single MLA in this room deserves detailed information in regard to government spending, especially if theyíre from communities and theyíre going back and they want to talk to people about the priorities and spending habits of this government. So will the minister give us a detailed community breakdown, not just an overall breakdown?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: First, Mr. Chair, there is a tremendous amount of detail right here, and the members opposite have it. Furthermore, we have tabled the community distribution of capital right here in the Legislative Assembly for the members opposite. And hereís the important point, Mr. Chair: the members opposite can debate this detail by getting into departments and line-by-line debate instead of the discussion weíre having now, which has little relevance to the budget for fiscal year 2005-06. The discussion the member is engaged in is semantics, at best. There could be other terms for it, but we will not bring that up from this side of the House. There is a great deal of detail that we can glean from the budget. It takes constructive debate. It takes an approach by the opposition that reflects an understanding of budgeting. So far, that would be in question. I think the members opposite are very, very hesitant to engage with the government side in debating this budget because they would be forced into supporting it in its entirety, considering the investment being made in the social fabric, considering the investment being made in education, in our environment, and in creating jobs and opportunities for Yukoners. The members opposite hesitate to debate the budget in any detail, because they would be forced to support it in full.
Mr. Hardy: Well, Iíve really heard everything now. The Finance minister says thereís no relevance in debating $399 million. Can you believe that? Thereís no relevance at all in debating an interim supply bill that will authorize the government to spend that amount of money. Thereís no relevance in doing that. What the heck is going on over there? This is the Finance minister making statements like this on the floor. I cannot believe it. No relevance ó unbelievable. What did I ask? How did that come about? I asked if the minister would supply a detailed community breakdown on the spending ó community by community, not just an overall for community, but a breakdown. Is that so difficult? I do know from past experience that this is a difficulty with the Finance minister. We have asked for this in the past and they have done everything possible to avoid giving it to us.
So weíre talking $399 million plus. The Finance minister figures thereís no relevance in talking about it. We are going to vote on $399 million. The Finance minister figures thatís chump change. It has no relevance to the future of the territory. Iím going to go back to my question: will he supply a detailed community breakdown so we can look at the chump change that this minister seems to indicate to us as not having any relevance?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: The relevance of the issue is debating the budget, not discussing semantics with the member opposite on when we should come into the House or when we shouldnít.
Besides, given the breakdown of community distribution weíve already provided the members opposite, theyíve been provided a document that further breaks it down in detail.
Let me go over some of the investments by
community: in Carmacks, a new school; in
We also have to go into the fact that there
are two multi-level care facilities for
We also have the investment in terms of
Klondike Institute of Art and Culture in
We have the sewage treatment plants or initiatives for Carcross and Carmacks.
Mr. Chair, the list goes on and on and on. I think the members opposite ó considering they donít want to get into detailed department-by-department, line-by-line debate ó will extend general debate. Here we are on interim supply. The issues are very clear. Weíve explained them. Weíve explained that corporations like the hospital need front-end money; NGOs have wages that need to be paid, and there are capital projects that will move forward in the first three months of the fiscal year.
There is a great deal of detail that the members opposite can discuss and debate, but that should be in the budget, and thatís why weíre here. Every minister is available and waiting to discuss those details with the members opposite.
And weíve even gone further, committing to the member opposite to dig into the archives of the Yukonís Department of Finance to find out when interim supply bills were actually brought forward over the last decade and what the ratios were for interim supply bills. Weíre doing all those things. As far as relevance, all one has to do is read the pages of Hansard, and then we will see the relevance of which I speak.
Mr. Chair, it is a serious, serious matter
of relevance when we pass hundreds of millions of dollars in this Legislative Assembly,
when the opposition is backed up against the wall, because there is no time
left in the sitting ó not one sentence of discussion on those hundreds of
millions of dollars. I challenge the members opposite to come clean on this
issue. Why do they spend all this time in irrelevant general debate when we
could be in detailed line-by-line discussion on issues, expenditures and
investments important to the
Instead we inevitably wind up passing most of the budget without any discussion. That is the member oppositeís choice; itís certainly not the choice of the government side. We are ready, willing and able to debate the budget in detail, department by department, line by line.
Mr. Hardy: This is unbelievable. I am not sure what is going on with the Finance minister today. One moment he says there is no relevance in debating $399 million. Once we pass this it is the departmentís authorization to spend it; it can go ahead and do it. But the Finance minister says there is no relevance in talking about that or asking any questions or finding out how they came to the sum of $399 million. The next time he gets up he talks about the serious matter of it.
So I am not sure, depending on what happens when he sits down, who is going to pop up next and what line they are going to take. I have asked for detail on the community breakdown. The minister gets up and talks about the importance of going into detail during the budget debate. I asked for a community breakdown with some detail to it. Why is getting it today or getting the assurances from the minister that that will be supplied to us today different from getting it next week when we are in budget debate? Why is there a difference there? We would much prefer to have it up front, to have it supplied to us as soon as possible, especially when we are talking about the interim supply bill and $399 million.
I think the figure used by the minister was $137 million for capital. Well, maybe we would like to know what we are voting on for the communities to see what is going to flow immediately, if there is going to be anything at all that is going to be flowing once we pass the interim supply bill.
So will the minister assure us that we will get a detailed breakdown?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Always willing to give a detailed accounting of whatís in the budget ó weíve just got to get there and debate the departments line by line.
Hereís an example of what I speak of. The
member opposite has been informed twice now that the level of appropriation in
the interim supply is derived from polling all departments. I can repeat that
over and over for the memberís benefit; however, obviously itís not an answer
that is in keeping with what the memberís trying to do, but thatís how the
numbers are derived. We didnít invent them. Departments were polled and they
brought forward what their spending requirements will be commencing April 1 for
a three-month period. This is not unusual. This is not unique. Weíre even going
to go back a decade to provide the member opposite information that the official
opposition and the third party have right at their fingertips in their offices.
Itís called all the previous budgets and interim supply bills. These are all
public documents that were made available not only to the
So the relevance of the matter is contained in the budget itself and thatís the mains. The irrelevance that we are dealing with is the needless discussion that weíre having with the leader of the official opposition on interim supply. Let me point out that weíve had a number of financial discussions with the leader of the official opposition. I can recall last sitting a discussion at great length on how we come to the term ďamortizationĒ. Lo and behold, in the pages of the front end of the budget document, all the definitions are clearly articulated in the glossary. All the definitions for every area of terminology used in the budget are there on the pages of the budget document.
Instead we spent all our time talking about amortization. The member opposite obviously did not understand what amortization is. One would only then question how we would engage in a financial debate unless we get into the budget, department by department, line by line. That would be the constructive approach.
Now, Iím sure the third party will rise and ask more questions. I will also respond in a very similar manner. This is interim supply. We are prepared to move into the mains and debate the budget in great detail, department by department, line by line. Thatís why we have ministers. Thatís why we have line departments. Thatís why we have officials who attend in the Legislative Assembly ó to provide the members opposite with the detail they seek. Itís never going to be in general debate. It has to be done in a manner that results in the detail being provided from the questions being asked by the opposition.
Ms. Duncan: I have a few questions regarding the interim supply bill, which is an expenditure in excess of $399 million. It is the authority to spend. Much as the Finance minister likes to refer to these questions as needless, he also, in the same breath, accuses other members of not doing their jobs.
I have afforded the interim supply bill close scrutiny and I would like to ask a couple of questions about them.
First of all, the minister has said that the sums that were arrived at were done by polling the departments. Now, we know this Yukon Party government is fond of attempting to politicize the public service with their requests for speeches about their budgets. The fact is, however, that before this interim supply bill is granted ó or the warrant ó yes, departments are asked how much they need to spend, but Cabinet ultimately says yea or nay to these amounts.
My question is: why in some instances are the amounts greater than a third? Let me give the minister some examples. In the operation and maintenance votes, if you look in Schedule A of the interim supply bill, quite a few of them are less than a third or about a third of their average overall spending. In some departments, however, it is significantly more. One example is Community Services ó $22,779,000 out of $50 million in operation and maintenance. The other one that leapt out at me was Health and Social Services ó a significant portion of their annual operation and maintenance, $89 million out of $170 million. Thatís a lot of the operation and maintenance that theyíre asking for. The minister could stand on his feet and say that itís front-end loading. We have all these grants we have to pass on. Well, in fact, Schedule B in the grants is only $18 million. So the front-end loading is only $18 million out of the $399 million that theyíre asking for in excess of. So Iím not accepting that itís just front-end loading. What Iím suggesting is there are some ministers who havenít given their departments close scrutiny and asked them exactly why they need more than a third. Iím asking the minister why in some instances is it higher? It does seem an excessively large interim supply bill.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Well, Mr. Chair, we have to compare apples to apples. The Schedule B is not the same thing that the member is asking for. In terms of Schedule A, there is no comparison. One is grants and the other is contributions. Furthermore, ministers donít involve themselves with this. In polling the departments, the Department of Finance scrutinizes these expenditures. When we say ďfront-end loadedĒ, these are the requirements for the first three months of a fiscal year that pays wages, that covers front-line workers and NGOs, that ensures capital projects are going forward, that ensures we have a hospital that can actually take on patients. The Hospital Corporation is asking for X number of dollars commencing April 1 ó $25 million in total.
So, Mr. Chair, this, again, is not a mysterious process. Itís a very upfront process that is, I would say, traditional in many cases, and once the departments are polled and they bring forward their requirements, the Department of Finance scrutinizes, an interim supply bill is created, but what is really important here is that the members opposite will re-debate every one of these expenditures ó should we ever get to the main budget document ó department by department, line by line.
So they have again another opportunity. Plus they could have debated in the public, considering the announcements the government was making, on what the government was investing in. Instead the third party went on at great length about something that they uncovered in Beauchesne, and who knows what else.
So, Mr. Chair, the whole issue comes down to polling the departments, a scrutiny by the Department of Finance, and from there a determination is made on interim supply. No minister is involved in that process. So the question about why ministers arenít doing whatever it is the member opposite thinks they should do, again, is not relevant to this discussion because they are not involved.
Ms. Duncan: So did the ministers not pass the interim supply bill in Cabinet? Cabinet, Management Board, didnít look at this? Thatís what the minister just stood on his feet and said.
Yes, I understand quite fully and quite thoroughly that it goes through the Department of Finance. I asked why some amounts were larger than others and the schedule of grants is quite minimal. There is quite a significant amount in the special warrant.
As belittling as the Finance minister chooses to be of members opposite, we all got to this place the same way. We were elected by Yukoners to do the job, and that is what we are doing.
I would ask the Finance minister ever so politely if he would consider answering the question. There are some amounts in some departments that seem larger than others ó they are larger than one-third, required to June 30 ó and I am not accepting the argument that for those departments it is all front-end loading. Everybody understands that.
Thatís a very good example. Why do some departments require more? Are they purchasing a significant piece of equipment that has to be paid for? Is there a warranty on a computer program ó the human resource information system ó or something that has to be paid? Itís a simple question.
Can the minister explain why some departments require significantly more in the interim supply bill than others?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Well, because during the polling exercises and the scrutiny by the Department of Finance, those are the spending requirements requested and needed by the departments. This is not a secret. This is pretty academic, Mr. Chair.
In terms of what the member opposite is trying to relay here, and on which weíre more than willing to provide details ó letís get into the mains and start debating the budget. This is interim supply. For the member opposite to consider that during this sitting we canít be very thorough in the debate on the mains ó department by department, line by line ó not only about expenditures in April, but also expenditures in May and June, I would suggest that maybe they should reconsider how they want to approach a budget debate.
This is not out of the ordinary, in terms of the interim supply bill, given the size of the overall budget. We committed to the member opposite to dig into that detail. Even though the members have it all in their offices, weíll do it for them. Weíll dedicate a Finance official to sit down and do the arithmetic, which is in the pages of all the documents that are in their possession today ó right now, in their offices. Weíll do that work for them.
But at the end of the day, the exercise is that departments are polled, the numbers come forward, the Department of Finance scrutinizes, an interim supply bill is brought forward and it is given passage in Management Board and Cabinet. Thatís it. Thatís the same way it has been done with past governments. So why do the departments need those expenditures? Well, those are the requirements they brought forward when polled. After thorough scrutiny by the Department of Finance, an interim supply bill was constructed and it was given approval in Management Board and Cabinet.
Ms. Duncan: In the thorough scrutiny by the Department of Finance and presumably by Management Board, are there any unusual expenditures that required significant front-end loading?
This is the same process that has always been conducted with interim supply.
Municipal grants, the Hospital Corporation,
What is different, obviously, is the size
of the budget. Itís dramatically different. Itís the largest budget in the
history of the
I think that would contribute to some degree to the increase in areas, considering the amount of the overall budget.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Deputy Chair, there are a number of specific points that I could ask. I am going to accept the fact that the minister is saying that there is nothing extraordinary about any of these expenditures. They are all polled by department. There is nothing unusual about any of them.
In looking at the bill, I see that is the
case, of course, in the municipal grants, for example. It is tradition. The
I do find it somewhat odd that the interim
supply bill is going to
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Well, in the context of being prudent, considering that we could go 40 days this sitting, we could go into June. Does it make sense to bring in an interim supply bill that only covers half a month? Itís much easier in bookkeeping to use each month in its entirety, and in deliberations ó not by ministers or me but by officials with Justice ó that date came forward, all things considered. So again, itís not an unusual issue. And then, on the Public Service Commission front, with capital, a $50,000 expenditure out of $784 million is certainly not something that we would find unusual. Obviously, in scrutinizing the polling of departments, neither did the Department of Finance. I hope they spend it wisely.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Deputy Chair, the Minister of Finance criticizes the members on this side of the House for not paying close scrutiny to the budget, and then when we do ask a reasonable question, like why a department would be spending almost the entire capital within the first three months ó I mean, theyíre not entering into a contract to build a school or construct a highway. Iím just asking for a reasonable explanation. The Minister of Finance belittles that request.
Well, perhaps the members opposite will
chuck out their 20-minute canned speeches and come prepared when we get to
debate the budget and get to debate it fully. I hope the minister recognizes
that every single line of that $780 million budget is going to be given close
scrutiny ó absolutely, as it should be. And the Member for
The interim supply bill is a standard housekeeping measure. I indicated in my opening remarks that during second reading I am prepared to give it my support and speedy passage in order that we can get on with the close scrutiny of the budget.
I would also ask that the Minister of Finance, his House leader and the Yukon Party caucus give full and thorough consideration to some of the other suggestions that have been put forward this afternoon, such as a legislative calendar in order that we can all be prepared, and that the ministers also demonstrate the proper respect for the House and bring this budget in full to this place first.
Thank you, Mr. Deputy Chair.
Deputy Chair: Is there any further general debate?
Is it the Committeeís desire to look at each of these votes individually?
Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible)
Unanimous consent re deeming all votes and schedules in Bill No. 14 carried
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Deputy Chair, I would request the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all votes and schedules in Bill No. 14 carried.
Deputy Chair: Ms. Duncan has requested the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all votes and schedules in Bill No. 14 carried. Are you agreed?
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Deputy Chair: Unanimous consent has been granted.
All votes and schedules of Bill No. 14 deemed to have been carried
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I move that Bill No. 14, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 2005-06, be reported without amendment.
Deputy Chair: It has been moved that Bill No. 14, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 2005-06, be reported without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Deputy Chair: It has been moved by Mr. Jenkins that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Deputy Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Deputy Chairís report
Mr. Hassard: Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 14, Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 2005-06, and directed me to report it without amendment.
Speaker: Youíve heard the report from the Deputy Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
†Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 15, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Fentie; adjourned debate, Mr. Hardy.
Bill No. 15: Second
Hardy: † Itís with great anticipation
that I rise today to speak on the budget brought in by the Yukon Party government.
We have waited a substantial amount of time with expectations of good things
from this government, and unfortunately, with a few exceptions, I am not so
sure that weíre going to get it. What is interesting is the comparison that you
can make between the first budget, the second and the third budget now of this
government and some of the language that is used. Iíll give you an example. We
are looking at a budget that has $784 million in it, $80 million more than last
year. Thatís significant. Thatís probably the single biggest increase that we
have seen in the
The year before that, of course, there was a significant increase. Some of that could definitely be attributed to devolution. But this budget is in direct contradiction to the position that the Premier took last year when he named last yearís budget of $705 million ó which was a substantial size ó the ďflagship budgetĒ. He said that people should not expect the type of spending that was being demonstrated in that budget to materialize in the following budgets.
And heís correct. We havenít seen that type of spending. We have seen an extreme acceleration of spending. We see an increase of $80 million, but more than just that, itís the language, as I said earlier. Itís the language thatís really fascinating. When the Yukon Party government brought in their 2003-04 budget, they had indicated that there was a problem with the finances of the territorial government because of the former Liberal government ó very typical of a Conservative government to use that tack. And we challenged them on it.
We werenít defending the Liberal government ó far from it. We had a substantial amount of criticism, as did the people of this territory with respect to the Liberal spending priorities and conduct when they were in power for two and a half years. But the NDP did not condone a new government using a former government as a scapegoat for their actions ó especially when the comments were unsubstantiated.
I think it has been borne out in the last two years that they were completely unsubstantiated and, if anything, need to be corrected or put on the record. I will leave it up to the Liberal leader to do that, if she so wishes. Thatís not why Iím here and speaking today.
I do have strong concerns, when a government uses that very old, standard response ó after they formed government from another government ó using them as an excuse for why they can or cannot do something or as an excuse for the direction they may want to take philosophically or ideologically. I would much rather a government just stand up and say, ďThis is what weíre doing; this is what we believe in; this is where weíre going.Ē We donít need to justify it based upon pointing the finger at former governments. Interestingly enough, Mr. Speaker, we have once again heard the Premier use the exact same lines, same positions in the debate with the interim supply bill, in which the finger pointing back to previous governments was used.
Even in Question Period today, there were a substantial number of ministers pointing toward some other government as the fault of why they are acting the way they are today. Now, thatís two and a half years into a term. And at some point, unless you can justify it and make it very clear, you donít do that. You start to accept responsibility for your own actions, your own decisions or your own inaction in certain areas. However, weíre not seeing that ó definitely not seeing that.
Anyway, I had mentioned that I went back and looked at the budget of 2003-04, and I looked at some of the language that was used. Just as a comparison, that budget was $550 million, and the budget we have today is $784 million.
Now, thatís a substantial difference. That is roughly a $234-million increase. I donít think, looking at past figures and a historical comparison of the main estimates, that there is any kind of jump in two years as substantial as that. As a matter of fact, in looking at this, in 1993-94, going back 12 years, it took eight years of budgets to go from $480 million to $502 million. But it only took from 2003-04, which is when the Yukon Party came in with their first budget, to 2005-06 to go from $550 million to an estimate of $784 million. There is no comparison in our history of that kind of a jump in spending.
The reason why I brought this up, and why I have started with this, is because this is a premier and a government that made a huge position around the fact that the fiscal house was not in order when they inherited the government. In two and a half years, the spending has gone up $230 million and they are saying that their fiscal house wasnít in order previous to that, which begs some serious questions.
What was used then ó and itís the title here ó was controlling the trajectory of spending. That was the title of the Budget Address that started it all off. Itís very typical of a conservative government saying that spending is ó basically the government was laying out the scenario and the case for why they were reducing spending, or attempting to reduce some spending. They actually never did.
It goes on to say: ďThis budget represents
a concerted effort toward lowering the Government of Yukonís trajectory of
spending. Maintaining the expenditure levels of previous budgets would have put
the Government of Yukon in violation of the Taxpayer
Protection Act, causing another territorial election. Itís a simple fact
that the growth in government spending cannot be sustained, and with our
government only having been elected
Now, ďexercise fiscal restraintĒ ó two years later this is a government that has gone and spent $230 million more on top of where they were at. That is fiscal restraint Yukon Party style, obviously.
Now, we do know some members on the other side do spend quite freely; however, this is taxpayersí money and they are responsible. More than anything else, theyíre responsible for the future as well as the present. We on this side are very concerned that the type of spending and the direction of spending that this government is going in and the positions that theyíve taken in their spending do not create a responsible, sustainable economy, contrary to the words in their platform when they ran.
This is not sustainable in many ways; that
is our position. I have even heard the Premier indicate that much of it, of
course, depends upon the generosity of the federal government. Well, thatís not
sustainable. We all know that. Thatís going to ebb and flow. There is a
minority government at this present time in
Saying that, you have to use it when devising a budget and planning for the future. Going back to 2003-04, as I said, the title was controlling the trajectory of spending. Obviously, at that point, this government felt the territorial revenues were not in bad shape. There was no violation of the Taxpayer Protection Act. Every government before had not violated it, contrary to what the Premier may indicate that every government mismanaged funds except for them ó contrary to all that, the position that was taken was that there had to be some cuts or that there be some control in the trajectory.
Within that, there are charts demonstrating that. Of course, even within that document there is a recognition that renegotiating the funding transfers from the federal government can put the territory in a difficult situation, if they go down. So thatís an interesting position that the Yukon Party government took two years ago.†
Flash forward two years, and you end up with massive spending. You end up with a $206-million capital budget and a $577-million O&M budget. Thatís an increase in O&M in two years of $126 million. Now, if I remember rightly, I have sat in this House and listened to members from the Yukon Party talk about controlling the O&M, controlling their spending, and getting a handle on it. They talked about Health and Social Services, and they talked about other departments.
The only department that leaps to mind ó and we will be going through all departments and looking at it ó that I see this government singling out to cut and basically make inoperable is the Department of Environment, and I very much believe that that is an ideological decision. That is one they have intended to target, single out and make redundant, as much as possible. Thatís almost reflected in the way theyíve gone after boards and committees. Iíll use the example of the renewable resource councilsí cuts in funding, no reappointments, and basically not using them to the extent of their contracts.
Of course, another board that really jumps out is the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board and the political interference that we witnessed there, to put on people of their persuasion to try to influence the direction and decisions at the board level, not reappointing respected people of our community who had the endorsement of all parties and representative stakeholders and who had experience, but blocking them. We still see to this day that the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board does not have its full complement. I believe that the government is interfering at a level that is totally unacceptable for any government. That is contrary, again, to some of the positions that the Yukon Party government took.
Another thing that is quite striking about
this budget is that it is such a massive budget in terms of
When you look at that ó the massive amount of spending ó and at the greater reliance that the Yukon Party has taken with spending in this territory, you would have to come to the conclusion that what the Premier has said and what the Premier has done are opposite. As I have heard many times in the last few weeks, especially around ANWR, which I will get to in a little while, he canít just talk the talk; he has to walk the walk. A lot of people are very concerned that there is a lot of talk but it is not shown in the actions and decisions being made by the Yukon Party government.
Now, I have been very concerned about sustainable economies over the years. I have watched governments ó and I was even part of one, from 1996 to 2000 ó recognize that there are more legs to an economy than just the non-renewable resource sector and government contributions. When I say that, I mean specifically federal government contributions, from the transfers. We recognized, as I think other governments before us recognized and hopefully governments down the road will do the same, that a healthy, sustainable economy cannot rely on any one sector. It canít be done, especially with non-renewable sectors. The reason I say ďespecially non-renewable sectorsĒ is probably because I have lived through too many booms and busts in the territory. When things are good, it is wonderful. There are lots of jobs and people feel good. The economy is moving along fairly nicely and we can move forward a lot of initiatives.
When, for instance, the mines went down ó I have lived through quite a few of them up here ó it was quite devastating. Part of the reason for that was because government never looked with a broader scope. They never anticipated where these industries, especially now that they have changed, will come, start up and go. They have a finite lifespan and a finite impact on an economy.
So you have to approach it in that manner.
You have to recognize from our history that non-renewable resources can only
contribute in peaks and valleys. Itís going to have lower areas, and itís going
to have more activity, and almost all of them are driven by the prices they can
sell their commodities at. I donít think thereís anybody who can argue that. I
see the Member for
What weíre witnessing of course is
countries, such as
We are once again on more of an upswing
because of demand. Prices are up. Oil and gases are massively up, and I would
have expected far more activity in the
I would actually expect a lot more interest. I do know a little while ago that there was some up for sale, some areas for exploration, and there wasnít even any uptake on it. Now, I donít know what happened since then. Maybe the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources can give an update on how people are lining up desperately to work in the Yukon, but to date I havenít seen that, which is contrary in some ways to the activities that youíve seen in other provinces and the excitement with the prices ó where they are at and what is driving them.
But letís talk a little bit more about the mines. The government has been in for two and a half years and there hasnít been a mine open yet, in two and a half years, which is not a good record, but in their term something might happen. Maybe an old mine might open up. We might see some activity in that area, and, of course, the government may lay claim to that happening, that decision being made, and knowing the fact that mineral prices, once again, are a big factor in it.
The interesting thing when you talk about
that, though, is the Fraser report that came out just recently. In the Fraser report
ó and I can say Iím not necessarily a person who agrees with all the positions
that the Fraser report puts out, but I find it interesting reading, and like
all publications there is always a benefit to learn from most of them. So it is
worth reading. Anyway, I was just glancing through it and noticed that the
They were also concerned about the uncertainty with land claims, which, again, have not been resolved under the Yukon Party government, contrary to what they may want to present.
And this is from a fairly right-wing publication that you would assume would be more supportive of a right-wing government. But it actually wasnít and I found that quite striking.
So I have to ask myself: what are they doing? Theyíre relying upon action that is out of their control, like oil, gas and mineral prices, and then trying to take credit for that? I sure donít see much change that would stimulate activity in a non-renewable sector by this government. They talk the talk, but again they donít walk the walk. Thatís a serious concern.
There have been more mines open when NDP
governments have been in power, interestingly enough. If this government
doesnít get their act together very quickly, theyíre going to go down in
history as having no mines opened under them and having a half-built school.
That will be their legacy ó and possibly a P3 project that came in at double
the estimated price. If I remember rightly, it was only around $20 million when
they first started talking about the bridge in
So Iím very curious to see the results of ó it sounds like four years of Yukon Party government, no matter how much we try to encourage them to go to the polls early.
I suspect that some members will cling to their positions as long as they possibly can in order to ensure that the taxpayers continue to fund their income.
What Iím concerned about is where we are going to be in 10 years. A budget like this raises some serious concerns with me, because unless we can get some guarantees from the federal government that they are going to continue funding us on an escalating scale, I canít see this type of spending being sustainable.
I also canít see this kind of trajectory spending continuing with 31,000 people in the territory ó $784 million and 31,000 people sounds very rich. An increase of $80 million from last year sounds very rich. I do have some concerns along that line. I donít think that what weíre witnessing here with this kind of spending is sound fiscal management, contrary to what they say on the other side. I donít think this type of spending is at all sustainable.
I would like to think that what we will witness is continuing support coming into the territory in order to be able to continue to build this territory into a place we can all be proud of and comfortable living in, as well as ensuring that all are cared for and looked after through government spending. I donít have those assurances, especially when I read the words of the Premier from two years ago to this year and then look at the actions. They donít jibe at all.
Letís look at the title again. I looked at
the title where the first title of 2003 was ďControlling the trajectory of
spendingĒ. Well, they didnít control it. They went right off the map with that
one. Now the title for this one is ďAchieving a balanced budget and building
Anyway, in the first sentence the Premier says, ďa budget that builds on our record of providing Yukoners with sound fiscal managementĒ but nowhere does it say long-term planning and that is the part that I am very, very concerned about. I do not see financial certainty with the type of direction that this territorial government is going in. Possibly thatís our role on this side ó to challenge the government on their spending priorities, the spending amounts, the direction theyíre going in, and try to get them to be more cognizant of the needs of planning for the future. That ties in very closely, of course, with the Department of Environment and balance ó balance in planning for your future. But Iíll get to that in a little while.
I am concerned that this is a government, the Yukon Party government, that has recognized that they are one term, and I am concerned that because of that they are now becoming irresponsible in the direction that theyíre going in, and I mean irresponsible for future generations. We should not be planning for a year in advance but should possibly be planning for 10 years in advance when we draw up budgets. We should not be planning for whatís good for only that season but planning how there will be activity and investment by the territorial government within the departments and the programs that they offer, or within capital works, for five years down the road or 10 years down the road. Seven to 10 years is a good way to plan. And we should not assume that you can spend this amount because there is going to be a pipeline, and we should not assume that we can increase the spending trajectory in the territory up to $230 million over a couple of years because there is going to be a railroad in the territory. There might, and there might not.
Some of us have heard the talk of the
pipelines for 30 years, and 30 years later, here we are, debating budgets and
no pipeline. Some of us heard talks of railroads through here. I know exactly
where the railroad ends outside of
They made it that far ó not even to
Saying that, there is no doubt a lot more activity and discussions around pipelines, and the railroad has become quite a favourite topic. Iím aware that some Alaskan politicians are coming to the territory. Theyíll be arriving later tonight, and there will be discussions with them. Itís an exchange that takes place every year or every second year, where some Alaskan politicians come over and the next year weíre supposed to go over there and learn their systems, operations, issues, what theyíre dealing with and how they conduct their government business.
I would suspect there will be discussions
around the pipeline, railroad, and probably discussions around the road that
both Houses in
And there will be discussions, of course, around the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. I suspect there may be some differences of opinion between some Canadians and some Alaskans on the importance of the preservation of that area and the impact drilling will have on the Porcupine caribou herd and the Vuntut Gwitchin, the people who have lived for tens of thousands of years in perfect balance with the herd, with the species, in that area.
Thatís good. Thatís very good. Thatís very good, especially when itís done at a high level and people feel passionate enough and comfortable enough to take a position, to take a very clear position. Most debate and discussion proceeds well when itís clear, not when itís vague. The public expects politicians to be clear, and often where politicians get in trouble is when they are trying to sit on too many fences to avoid taking a position, thereby putting them in a position they may not want to be in, or exposing a position that they may not want exposed.
My concern, of course, is that this is a budget without a vision because there are no long-term predictions that I can see. There is mention of megaprojects, as well as future activities that may or may not happen. I am not so sure, as a person who has lived here, that putting all our eggs in one basket, or hoping for a megaproject, is sound fiscal management. I consider them almost as a bonus if they do come in, if theyíre managed well, if the return on megaprojects is identified at the beginning and work is done to ensure that Yukon people will benefit from it, the Yukon government will benefit from it, but you have to question any politician who spends all their time running from oil and gas conference to oil and gas conference without doing the hard work on the ground, whether they are planning for the future or they are just trying to get a home run.
I think one of the criticisms against the
former government was exactly that. More time was spent on the airplane or down
Now we see the Yukon Partyís method. It is
slightly different, but on a political level itís not. There is still this huge
interest to go to every single invitation that comes out of
Well, of course, you have to participate to a certain degree, but you have to participate at a lot of levels and you have to make sure that your message is very clear as well, and that is that there are benefits for this territory. If we are going to realize development, there will be benefits. Otherwise, why would you go and do it? If there are no benefits of employment, or training monies, or benefits to the First Nations in their traditional territories, or to the companies that exist or the new companies that want to start up, if there is not that message delivered very clearly, and ultimately, if there is no long-term plan ó when I say ďlong-term planĒ, Mr. Chair, I am talking about assurances that that environment will be protected, and must be protected.
Itís not for sale. That is our future; itís
not for sale. Many of these projects only last 10 years or 20 years. Our environment
is for our lifetime and then beyond, that of our grandchildren and
great-grandchildren. That has to be part of the equation, and thatís why the
Member for Vuntut Gwitchin was so upset ó among many reasons, one of them ó
with the Premier and, yes, the Liberal MP when they did not take the opportunity
in meeting with the Prime Minister, when they were there with Governor
Murkowski from Alaska. When they were in
I can assure you that activity is not happening in this territory because this government has taken a very hard line with respect to protection of the environment. That activity would have been happening anyway. I have already indicated that some of the predominant driving factors are the supply and demand and pricing. We are on an upswing. Five years from now, it might be going the other way. That is, to me, why I donít see a long-term vision in this. Someone has to clean up the mess.
We have a terrible record both in
If all theyíre dealing with is the mess that we leave behind, then thatís not fair. I donít think thatís what anybody wants to do, and I am concerned about that. I am very concerned.
There are so many things to look at in this budget. As I said, all the MLAs will be analyzing it and putting it under scrutiny from many different perspectives. There will be the perspective from your riding, the community you represent, and the spending that is happening there and the kind of impact that will have ó negative or positive. There will be the economic perspective, the environmental perspective and the departmental perspective.
From a criticís position, they will analyze what the departments are doing and what the priorities and direction are that this government is giving them. As I said, there are some areas so glaring in their neglect that itís impossible to accept a budget that does that, especially when they are short-sighted and short-termed, as I said.
There is a big question about this
government thatís circulating in the public today. Everywhere I go ó I was in
In doing so, you are, of course, part and parcel of unethical or questionable behaviour, and this government has had many, many issues that have challenged both us in the opposition and the public on their conduct, on their actions. And I donít think in our history we have ever seen such a relentless bombardment of bungling or action that is extremely questionable, morally and ethically. It really speaks to the understanding of what it means to be a politician and the role you take on.
I think some members on the other side have never been able to move off the fact that they had their own businesses outright and conducted them in a way they felt business should be conducted. It may have been very successful, but it doesnít work that way in government. Itís quite a different kettle of fish. There is definitely a far broader scrutiny of your actions, both personally and publicly. There is far more scrutiny of your decisions and your spending that is contrary to a private business.
I think some of the problem has been that some members havenít been able to make that switch. That is what has got them in trouble. It could be what some people might consider the most innocent thing such as a phone call to another hotelier, which raises questions about that, or all kinds of other issues that weíve had to deal with: the loans and the questioning around that and the ethical position of actually owing the government money and refusing to pay, yet being in charge of a department that hires people to collect from other people who owe the government money.
That really raises some very strong feelings among the public. Still, to this day, whether I was in Dawson or Whitehorse or, last week, Carmacks, that is still an issue that comes up and people have not accepted the final solution that the Premier came up with a year ago and failed in and has come back to again, to deal with the money owed. That is an issue that still goes out there because it is symbolic of the actions of this government and it has become one of those topics that ó I shouldnít even say ďtopicsĒ ó one of those issues that symbolises the behaviour of all members in the Yukon Party, because they all support it. The actions of one or two have all been supported by every person who still sits over there as a Yukon Party member. None of them stood up publicly and tried to address this. Because of that, I believe that many people are very frustrated; many people in the ridings that they are representing are extremely frustrated and they are waiting for the next election, which is not that far off in the life of politics. It goes very fast, a year and a half.
So the NDP does not accept the solution. As I understand it right now, there are two ministers who owe money to the government. One is making payments. That one is in good standing after many years of not being in good standing, and he stays making payments to the government. The other one, who has not made payments in many, many years, has had his file moved to Dana Naye Ventures to see if they can collect any money from him.
So now you have a situation where you have two different scenarios for two ministers.
We asked very clearly for the Premier to do what the public wants, and that is to garnishee the wages or remove him from Cabinet. He refused to do it. He refused to take any action whatsoever to indicate that the standard that they set, the actions that they take against a person on social assistance ó if they are overpaid $50 ó will be applied to elected members. That person will have their next cheque reduced to an agreed-to amount to pay that money back. But that will not be applied to ministers who are collecting a government cheque, and my question is: why not? If you are going to support that position, then you have to be fair across the board. You have to apply that across the board.
So thatís what people have a hard time understanding around this. Itís not a difficult decision. The Premier has the authority to put somebody in Cabinet or remove somebody from it. The Premier has the authority to make a change to the Financial Administration Act. We brought in a bill to address that. This government blocked it. This would have allowed the collection of that money on a fair basis. Treat these ministers fairly, but recognize that they do owe this money and start to collect some of that off them while they are in government.
I donít think anyone in this territory objects to that. The only people who objected to it are 12 Yukon Party members. The rest of the territory does not ó so itís 12 against 30,000.
††††††† You can be fair when doing this. You can take a portion of the wage. You can treat it like you treat a poor family ó a single mother with two children on SA as an example, who got paid $100 more on her cheque. The government then claws it back. You can treat it the same way, knowing full well that that mother with two children on SA, who is struggling to make her payments, will pay her money back. This is knowing full well that these two ministers will pay their money back.
One of them has stepped forward and started doing that. That is fair. Terms have been set out that are recognized by him. He can pay, and he is doing it. Thatís good. The other refuses. Yet, the other sits in the most powerful position in government. He is the minister who directs the collector to collect that $50 or $100 from that single mother with two children. He doesnít give them a break ó not even a drop of a break. That is why this government has an ethics problem. That is why, anywhere we go ó after two and a half years and the fumbling attempts by the Premier to resolve this issue ó we are witnessing a huge animosity toward this group of people.
And their future as a government is in jeopardy. One issue ó now, there are many more and I am going to talk about them in a bit ó has resonated as symbolic of 12 MLAs, because those 12 all support that action, all believe that itís all right to collect from a single mother who has so very little and claw back on her next cheque ó thatís all right to do, but it is not all right to do it with their colleague. Itís a double standard and people of this territory cannot stand that and they do not deserve a government that behaves in such a manner. Regardless of our political background, I think we could all agree that the political status quo is simply and morally unacceptable at this stage. It has been two and a half years and these issues are not resolved; these issues continue to resound among the public.
I was walking home about a week ago and there was a woman. She was about, I would suspect, 75. She had a walker and she had her few groceries in her basket in the front of the walker, trying to get over the ice and snow that is a problem right now because of the freezing and melting weíve experienced this winter ó there have been quite a few of them ó and she stopped me and we were talking about that issue, and she was showing me her boots and showing me she has these strap-ons with little spikes on the bottom to help her. We were talking about that and immediately she switched to the loans. She immediately switched to the loans and specifically one person. There was nothing I could do to change the subject because, frankly, it is a subject that there is no resolution to, as far as I can see at this present time.
So, I let her talk, and she used herself as an example of what she goes through daily to pay her bills and to feed herself ó she still has her own home ó to make ends meet on a very fixed income. She has never not paid a single loan sheís had in her life. She has honoured every single loan and every single payment. She has never been behind. She wonders what is going on with this country when we elect people who do not have that moral fibre and how a person can stay in government and use that as an example of where we are and what we have become as politicians.
Thatís a shame when the seniors start to look at us as politicians. I say ďusĒ because we are all tarnished by this. No matter what we try to do in here, it doesnít take much for one politician, rightly or wrongly, to affect all the others by their action or inaction, by their position, or what they say.
We in opposition can say what we want on this side, criticize and demand that the Premier take action, or that the ministers step forward and honour their debt and set an example, but we on the opposition side do not have the control to make it happen. But elected members of the Yukon Party do. They have the opportunity and the ability to make it happen. They have to answer to that when they go to the doorstep because thatís what is going to be in the back of peopleís minds, why you did nothing. Why you, as an MLA with the Yukon Party, did nothing when you had a chance to do something.
††††††† Iíll put it out to you. All the members of the Yukon Party, get your storylines correct, get them right, because thatís a question thatís going to be asked. I can remember when I ran in 2000, within the first four days of campaigning ó and just for the record it was an election that the NDP lost and it was an election that I lost in my riding ó and Iíll tell you something before I go on with the story: it was the best lesson I learned. It was very humbling and made me very aware that this is a position where people expect you to act in a certain way. Whether you agree with it or not, morally or not, they expect certain behaviour and conduct and action and to be led by example, and if you donít do it, they call you to task.
However, to get back to the story, within the first four days I knew I had lost in my riding. Thatís all it took. I knew that I was not going to turn it around in 26 more days. Thereís something quite interesting that happens to you when you realize that youíve already lost and thereís this long election ahead of you, that youíre going to go knocking on the doorsteps and youíre going to hit every door twice or three times, and youíre going to try to convince the people. I will tell you, the people are very polite. A lot of them say, ďOh, yes, you did a good job, yes, yes,Ē and you walk away and you know. If youíre honest with yourself, you know. But I knew within four days that I wasnít going to win because ó and it doesnít matter what the issues were ó they only asked the one that I found was consistent.
Then there was another question that kept floating up through it all. To be perfectly frank, I felt my answers were weak, because at the end of the day, I knew that this was an issue that they felt strongly about and I had probably let my constituents down. I was not able to, when I was in government, enact change or represent their values, for whatever reason. It could have been because of party unity. It could have been because I had seen it differently. I was in government now, I had seen it differently and they didnít understand. It wasnít that, though. It was because I was just one of 11 people, and, frankly, I was outvoted. My position and my argument didnít carry, but I was part of it. So 26 days of going door to door and knocking and enjoying myself, I have to admit, once I knew that this was going to be the outcome ó I was very honest with myself and I predicted it right. I wished I wasnít at the time, of course. It wasnít actually a bad campaign. I knew what I was dealing with. Itís a lot easier in some ways to know what the outcome is and then go forward and present yourself in the best way you can and stand by your values and hopefully they connect, and if they donít, well, you can partly prepare yourself for the results. That is probably what it allowed, but ultimately what it came right down to was there were one or two issues that the NDP became saddled with. You know what, theyíre not as big an issue in many ways as what the Yukon Party government has been facing, but they were enough that they resonated deeply enough with the people that they were enough to bring the government down.
So, it doesnít take much. Iím not lecturing, and I hope people donít take it that way. I am just sharing an experience that I went through. I can say that losing was an extremely valuable experience for me. It taught me a lot.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hardy: The Member for
Iím just sharing this with the government, because I see some similarities in the public mood and fixation on an issue or two that will define the next election. Iím speaking from my experience. I didnít touch on the Liberal period in government, because I was not in government. I did not experience that period, so I will just skip over it.
Anyway, that is one issue. There is no question about it. It crosses party lines. It crosses different categories, from business to employees to the unemployed to retired people. It crosses gender. When it crosses all those and connects all those people, itís massive. Itís not a single issue. Itís not specific to one item. This is, without a doubt, one that affects every single person. When you hear 12-year-olds talking about it, itís a problem.
So we dealt today with the reindeer ó or tried to deal with the reindeer issue. I heard some arguments in return in which the minister tried to indicate in Question Period that it was all the fault of the Liberal Party, and that it was also the fault of the reindeer owners, and that there was no fault whatsoever with the Yukon Party, and that there was also no fault whatsoever with the Department of Environment minister or the minister responsible for agriculture or the Premier.
To a certain degree, they can make that argument, but you cannot argue for the last two and a half years that what you have or have not been doing is the fault of some other party or the reindeer owners. It is very well documented what has happened. It is very well documented what correspondence has gone on between the owners and the government. Itís very well documented what discussions have happened from the highest level of government with the Premier, from the departments, and what levels of discussions have not happened, contrary to some of the positions taken today.
I heard the Minister of Environment indicate that they had an offer on the table. Iím not aware of that offer put out by the government.
I heard the Minister of Environment use numbers from negotiation, from correspondence, that have not been out in public before, that is privy in this House, to try to discredit the owners. And I say shame. I heard the Minister of Environment indicate what I would consider to be information that is not supported by documents or the facts as we know them at this present time.
Now, if that minister has information that Iím not aware of, that the owners of the reindeer farm are not aware of, then I think it would be incumbent upon him to make that information available, especially to the owners. If they wish to make it available to me or other people, so be it. But instead this minister said things that are not supported as I know them today. Thatís a serious concern in my eyes.
We have a very serious situation here and thereís a point where thereís no fault in this, and that point was when it was recognized that the reindeer, when devolution happened, missed categorization or language wasnít written to accommodate reindeer from what they were previous to devolution to what they were after. When that happened, they became wildlife. And thereís no reason to point fingers. Thereís no reason to say itís this personís fault. To me thatís a no fault. You recognize that. So what do you do to resolve it? How do you resolve this? It all came about when the reindeer operators went to sell, or transport to sell, some reindeer and were told by the department that they could not do it any more. Under the new act they could not do it, so then they were denied ability to make an income and denied the ability to make some kind of money, profit, off the reindeer in order to buy feed again, for instance.
When that happened, of course, they approached their MLA. They approached the department and got a run-around. It got worse and worse. Then the government reneged on a promise. They bought the game farm, which became the game preserve, from a Yukoner for roughly $2 million. Then they bought the wildlife from the game farm and tried to move some of them to the game preserve. Some of them died in the move. They bought them out. But when it came to the reindeer people ó the last ones to own wildlife ó they stopped. For some reason they took the position that they werenít going to deal any more.
Now, they had already spent probably $2.2 million or $2.4 million in settling these other two, but when it came to this last one, they decided they werenít going to do it any more. Donít ask me why. Iíve never heard a proper explanation yet from the government on this one.
The people cannot sell the animals. They cannot butcher the animals. They cannot make any income whatsoever off the animals, but they are told that they are still wildlife. They canít contain or own them. They cannot cage them and cannot keep them. They donít own them. So where did that leave them? What kind of a situation is that? Well, of course, it was the government at that time. As I said, there is no fault on the devolution. It happened at that time and it was incumbent on the government to correct this ó move forward and correct it.
For some reason ó and I donít understand what goes on in the heads of those on the other side ó they decided they would not work with these people to resolve this issue. A lot of things have been said on this floor ó a lot of things.
Last year, after much debate in this House, the agriculture minister finally agreed to supply feed for these animals. There are 54 reindeer right now. They supplied feed for 10 months. There were assurances made by the minister that that feed would be supplied this year, as well.
It hasnít come forward. I have it in Hansard where it says very clearly that if the reindeer or if the people need help next year, that help will be supplied by the government. The Minister of Environment made that statement. So, here we are. We have one of the owners, 58 years old or so, destroying their knees kicking carpet to pay the bills to feed the animals. We have another one who works at Wal-Mart, trying to pay the bills to feed the animals. Theyíre not their animals. They canít sell them; they canít make money from them due to the changes in the act. Theyíre stuck. They canít even get rid of them. They canít touch them, but theyíre expected to keep feeding them. The government reneges on that, and decides theyíre not going to feed them this year. So, Iím not sure where weíre at with that one.
You have a Premier who agreed to negotiate a settlement, and there were terms ó Iíve seen the papers signed by the Premier ó that they were going to have a mediated agreement to resolve this issue last year. Iíve seen the papers; he signed them. There was an agreed-to process in hiring the mediator, and both parties would have to agree to that. The government put one name forward. The reindeer operators put three names forward, so there would be a choice. The Premier changed the rules; he didnít like them. He changed it from mediation to resolution, or arbitration, if you want to call it that ó a completely different process. He also insisted that their selected person was the only one who they would consider, even though it is contrary to a letter before where he agreed that they would mutually agree upon a person.
Interestingly enough, the person whose name was put forward got a contract from the government after the Premier pulled away from the negotiations ó before they even started, because he couldnít get his way. He hired this guy whose name they put forward. Now, I wonder what was promised to this man ó some $60,000.
Now, the feed for the reindeer is about $18,000 for another year. This guy was hired for $60,000 to do an analysis of the reindeer game farm management. Well, what the heck is that about? Do we have so much money to just hire somebody and just hand over $60,000 to this guy? Interestingly enough, heís also got another contract for $25,000. So there we have another piece of the puzzle.
Now, we have the situation where these people are not supposed to contain wildlife. These are wildlife. Tomorrow morning, those gates will probably be opened. The reindeer can either wander out or not. I asked today in the Legislature what the Minister of Environment and Premier are going to do about this and if they had contacted the game farm owners to come to an agreement about at least ensuring there was feed for the animals until this can be worked out. Absolutely not.
Do you know what has happened? A letter has been sent indicating that action will be taken against these people for doing this. So the government is going to use the heavy hand and hammer these people to the ground, although they gave $2 million to another preserve. They give money to another one. Theyíre not going to do that with these people. Theyíre going to hammer these people. Theyíre going to take them to court and charge them.
The minister wouldnít say in the House what theyíre going to do, but we know what theyíre going to do. Weíve seen the letter. Is that fair? Is that treating people equally? Absolutely not.
Whatís going to happen to the animals tomorrow? What contingency plan did the Minister of Environment indicate to us will take effect? All I understand is that the Gregorys are going to get charged. Who is going to look after the reindeer? Are we going to see a Wal-Mart employee in jail?
Is that what the Member for
You know whatís so bizarre about this is that there has been approximately four visits from friends of the party to these people to try to get them to do something. Sometimes theyíve kind of threatened them. I donít know if they speak on behalf of the Yukon Party. The most recent one was this weekend, and thatís an interesting story in itself. Possibly at this time I wonít get into it, but it bears telling because there were a lot of promises made supposedly conveying messages from a minister ó one of the ministers over there ó that was guaranteeing money to settle it. Now I hope the governmentís not operating in this loose a fashion. This is taxpayersí money and I hope that ministers just donít send off somebody who is not even an employee, but a friend, to go and offer deals. However, maybe thatís the way they operate. Maybe thatís how this P3 deal is coming down.
This government has embarked upon a new way
of doing contracting. Theyíve hired Partnerships B.C. to put together a P3
project for the
Weíll talk about the bridge in a second. I
find it very interesting that there are three companies I know of that put in
proposals. One company is a strong Yukon Party supporter, has First Nation interests
and is in partnership with SNC-Lavalin Engineers & Constructors Inc.,
which, as I understand it, is close to being one of the largest construction
companies in the world. I did business with them years and years ago, when I
was in the industry. They are massive. They bought up two companies in
I believe that there were five First Nation economic groups that were part of this. I could stand corrected, but I think there were about five. They got rejected.
Two other companies got accepted. The
principals certainly arenít from the
This company wasnít even allowed to put in
a proposal or price in the end. These are your P3s. We have made it very clear
from day one where the NDP stands on this project and P3s. We have asked a
multitude of questions. We have asked about pricing and costs. We have asked
about process. We asked about fairness. We asked even about the need to build
I get a chuckle when I hear the Minister of Economic Development say that P3s save money, then we read the report and it says right in it that P3s cost more. Thatís right in the governmentís report.
I get a chuckle when I hear the government
say that the
This is a government that has lots of wealth, tons of money pouring in from the feds, tons of money pouring in from the Canada Winter Games. Thatís whatís driving it. Itís not short. Thereís $230 million more being spent in two years on budgets. Thatís a massive increase. Weíve never seen the likes of that type of increase in the territory in our history. In two years, an increase of $230 million being spent, $137 million more being spent in just operation and maintenance costs of the government.
This is a government that talks about controlling their spending, and it has gone in a completely opposite direction. Here we have the P3 method being driven forward where the departments say donít do it, contractors say donít do it, opposition on this side says donít do it. Other governments will tell you not to do it, but theyíre determined to do it and theyíre determined to do it for a project that is questionable at best. There are serious, serious issues around building this project. Is there a need for it? Not at all. There has been no proven need. Has there been a cost estimate on this project yet that is supported by the government elected members?
I remember two and a half years ago it was a $20 million project. Thatís what I heard from this government ó $20 million. Are they willing to stand by that now? No, theyíll duck their heads. Theyíll duck their heads. Thereís a contractor in the back corner. He would know that this bridge is not going to be built for $20 million. But thatís the number they were floating out there. Now I hear $35 million. Is that going to be the cost? What happens if itís $35 million? You predicted $20 million. You told the public $20 million. Itís going to be $35 million. Oh, $15 million ó whatís the deal? Thatís no big deal. Weíre only out 40 percent. But thatís only if itís $35 million. What happens if itís $40 million, or $45 million? I remember this government laughing at us when we said $35 million a year ago, saying, ďOh, yeah, you guys donít know what youíre talking about.Ē Well, guess what. Prices are already being predicted by the departments, by the engineers, as a minimum of $35 million. So who is telling the people what the real price is, and when will we know about it? Or will they sign the agreement through a P3 side deal with some company and then roll it out and itís too late to stop?
Where was the consultation around this project? It didnít happen. This was a pet project of one MLA, and they will take public funds and drive that project forward, whether the rest of this territory agrees with it or not ó and whether their own riding agrees with it.
I just came back from
Another big issue, of course ó I just came
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Hardy: Thatís right. Two hundred percent is all right for the Yukon Party. The Minister of Economic Development thinks thatís fine. Two hundred percent is not a problem.
The cost for the forensic audit was $150,000. How did it end up at $460,000 in a few short months? Who was controlling the piggy bank over there? Where do you call it? Where do you pull it back? Thatís an example. Put another zero on that ó $1.5 million. Next thing you know, you end up with $4.6 million. Itís that kind of thinking that leads you down that path.
Is this fiscal management by this government? I donít think so. There is $230 million more spent in two years on our budget. Is this fiscal management? I donít think so. Iím very worried about the trajectory of this governmentís spending. Where is the cost analysis? Where was the minister when he signed off 200 percent more on a forensic audit that hasnít been released? Itís floating out there. Someone leaked it. I would like to know who had that report. Who leaked it without giving it to the public? Why hasnít it been tabled in this Legislature yet? Why is it still being kept?
All this government had to do was table it. Why wonít they table it? Why are they playing silly politics with it? There are peopleís names being floated around out there. Whether they are innocent or guilty, they have a right to defend themselves and not have a partial report leaked to a media outlet, and this government does nothing to correct it by releasing the whole report. This minister is doing an injustice to the people of this territory, allowing rumours to spread and causing disharmony and friction.
I am glad to see that the minister finally
reacted. That was nice to see. Maybe he should go up to
Iím concerned that parts of it have been leaked that are very damaging, and none of us can see it. None of us can take a look at this report that went from $150,000 to $460,000.
Now, the Member for
Well, thatís good. The minister from the
We just went through a very difficult process with this government in regard to a veterinary seat. Before we go into this, I want to make it very clear that I did receive some of the correspondence after the Conflicts Commissionerís report, and I did read where the minister who was up to his eyeballs in it ó and the other minister was only up to his kneecaps in it ó indicated that he may want to take action against the opposition if we dare bring this up again. Well, I will put him on notice right now that I dare bring this up. Iím not too worried about that.
That is an issue that was extremely difficult and got murkier and more difficult to deal with as it went on. Iíll tell you right now, Mr. Speaker, I did not want to go the Conflicts Commissioner route. I made that very clear. When this first started, I sent a letter to the minister involved, asking him to see about three questions. I felt there were no accusations in those questions, which I want to make very clear, as well, because his letter back accused me of making accusations. The letter I sent to him I also sent to the Conflicts Commissioner. It was the same letter, pretty well, but I asked for a clarification on three questions. I asked the minister to take that to the Conflicts Commissioner himself, just to get those clarified and get back to me on it, if he could. He has been good enough in the past to do that. He has done that on two or three other occasions. When there has been questionable action, he has gone to the Conflicts Commissioner and clarified certain things, which is fine. I assume that he would have applied that same type of behaviour to this one. He refused to do it.
Unfortunately, after the initial stage, Mr. Speaker, the story got bigger and it got more convoluted and more difficult. We ATIPPíd information to find out what actually went down around that. We were very concerned about a couple of particular issues in this matter. One was a former student whom we were very concerned about. Had they been denied an opportunity to go to school and then not given the first opportunity of refusal once it was reinstated? We were concerned about that, and if the two ministers had ensured that that student had been treated fairly; and, of course, the interference of another minister and why they switched their position, what was driving that, why they went from sponsoring to not sponsoring to sponsoring.
Iíve said from day one that I didnít want to go through the Conflicts Commissioner. I felt it was the wrong thing. I told the member of the Liberal Party that that wasnít the route I felt we needed to take. I felt the Conflict of Interest (Members and Ministers) Act wasnít broad enough to allow a proper investigation, which would allow all parties involved to have a say. Now, thatís what happened. He worked within the act. I know the Liberal leader was disappointed in the outcome, but I felt that, in the end, it was too narrow in scope.
As we found out more information, things were said. Things were said by both ministers, but one in particular, and there were accusations. This is the second part that was very disturbing. Again, the second part was not covered by the Conflicts Commissioner investigation. That is why, to me, it was not the direction to go in.
Accusations were made against the department and individuals within the department about not doing political will, about not supplying proper information, about not releasing information to the minister, and the department and those people did not have an opportunity to defend themselves. That is totally incorrect. You should not go after somebody who you know cannot say a word. Mr. Speaker, we have to give them an opportunity to respond. That was the second part of this, and I felt it was necessary that all parties have an opportunity to present the information, and the only way we were going to do that was under the Public Inquiries Act. It would have been the Public Inquiries Act that would have allowed the department officials to have a say and respond to the accusations against them made by the minister.
It would have allowed the department officials to talk about the former student and ensure that information we required was presented, and to ensure that person was treated fairly and given first opportunity.
Unfortunately, that hasnít happened. So we had this investigation, under the Conflict of Interest (Members and Ministers) Act, that was very narrow in scope. I sent a letter to the Conflicts Commissioner with the exact same questions I had sent to the minister and also informed him that we had been very involved in this and we were willing to meet with him. We never even got a call.
I was disappointed but not surprised. Unfortunately, that is another one of those issues that is going to resonate all the way to the next election. Thatís one of those issues defining this group of people and this government, and how they treat people who cannot defend themselves and how they have handled this. It is connected, if we think about it, to the same type of investigation that this government conducted in the computer use investigation. We still have questions about that. We would like to know what the cost was of that investigation, what the final outcome was and what the final repercussions of the whole thing were.
That was an extremely damaging
investigation. There was a lot of debate in this Legislature about that. We
took a very strong position that it was an inappropriate type of investigation.
There was an example, Mr. Speaker, right here in the
That one happened a couple months before
the Yukon Party initiated this other investigation. The other investigation was
built on an
Itís not a new issue. There are businesses throughout the world that are dealing with inappropriate computer use, with pornography at the workplace. This wasnít brand new. This is going on in corporations. You can name them. I was reading a list of all the corporations that have dealt with this: IBM is an example; I was just reading about that one. They used a totally different method, one that was designed not to target or blanket employees with the same brush but to identify the problems, put in programs, help deal with the offenders in a manner that did not damage the morale of the workplace. But this government, that minister, chose a different method, and because of that, it had very serious fallout. To this date, we still donít know what the fallout is on the morale or the cost, because this minister has refused to share any of that information with us. I am hoping in this budget we will get some of the final figures on that and what action this government has taken to try to re-establish the morale.
There is another issue around that, and that is the whistle-blower legislation. Now, thatís a promise of the government. We brought in a bill and the government rejected it. Where has it gone since then? We received a letter a couple months ago, and weíve responded to it, but there has been no reply since then. Now, it has been two and a half years and weíre still waiting for something to come out of this government with regard to that.
This would help ensure an ability for employees to be able to monitor whatís happening with their own workplace and be able to report on it if they had to and have protection. Thatís only there to serve the public better. You would think a government like this would jump at an opportunity to bring in something like this, but they havenít, even though it is part of their platform, even though it is one of those things that was ó and is still expected ó to be done before their term runs out.
Now, there are a lot of other issues. Let me look at the backbenchers. They were assigned certain tasks. For the life of me, and my colleagues, we couldnít remember what task was assigned to the Member for Pelly-Nisutlin. So weíre not sure if he was ever given a job or if he has only spent most of his time in the last couple of months trying to get a loader out of the water. Weíre still trying to figure that one out. But we donít know what his task was, but we do remember the other three. One who is sitting over here at this present time was assigned the task of red tape reduction. Iím not sure. Heís no longer part of the Yukon Party but he is kind of part of the Yukon Party because he said heís always going to vote Yukon Party. We always know that the Minister of Community Services writes his questions, so weíre assuming that there must still be some kind of close attachment there. Iím not sure if heís still in charge of red tape reduction. If heís not part of the government ó and the government says heís not ó then whoís doing the red tape reduction? Whoís working on that portfolio? I donít see anybody leaping to attention on that one. I guess no one wants to touch it.
I did read a report from a B.C. small business association, the regional one, and red tape, of course, is still one of the number one issues that theyíre always dealing with. This government hasnít moved forward on that yet. Again, weíre running out of time on that, but thatís one of their promises.
So Iím going to look forward in this budget to find out who actually has been assigned that ó unless the Member for Copperbelt still has it but is not actively working on it until later. He hasnít indicated to me whether he is. Maybe Iíll ask him at the end of today.
Now, we do have the Member for Southern Lakes, the beautiful Southern Lakes, as he likes to say, working diligently for the last couple years on the Workersí Compensation Act review. Mr. Speaker, remember that this is the Workersí Compensation Act review. How many years have gone by now? Two and a half years, Mr. Speaker, and I think they have finally hired somebody to help them.
Now, Iím not sure what the Member for Southern Lakes is actually doing. I understand that itís important that they have tasks to do, but I think you have to see some product after awhile, and maybe the Premier needs to sit down with his backbenchers and say, ďOkay, youíve been assigned some duties; youíve been assigned some tasks. Letís have an update. Letís see where weíre at with this.Ē Should all the ministers under whom these tasks fall, because each of them fall under a certain department, take the backbenchers into their room and say, ďLook now, you said you were going to do this. Whatís happening?Ē Because so far Iíve named three. Well, one I donít know about, the other one has kind of gone sideways, the Workersí Compensation Act review has finally decided to hire somebody because they werenít able to get any kind of resolution, and thatís after two and a half years.
This brings me to the Member for
Itís a tough one, isnít it?
Iím really looking forward to that report being tabled in the Legislature. If thatís his duty, it could be interesting.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Hardy: Yes, we might need a motion on that one. Iím sure it will be read into the record so that when he tables that one, it will be something weíve all been waiting for.
I have to go to the back of this. In reading the ďin conclusionĒ part of the budget speech that went on for about two hours, we got to this point. I thought of this member immediately when I read this. It said that, ďWith the passage of this budget, the majority of our election commitments will be met.Ē Well, isnít that interesting? I am looking forward to the Member for Lake Laberge showing me how achieving a balance between the economy and the environment was met.
They said that they will ďconduct a red tape review of government policies, regulations and legislation to address the following: identify the need for existing legislation.Ē Well, we know this government doesnít even bring in any legislation at all, so theyíre not even eliminating it. They said they would ďeliminate overlap and duplicationĒ ó well, obviously they havenít done that. They said they would ďreduce compliance costs and administrative requirementsĒ ó well, thatís an election promise that weíre still thinking about ó arenít we, Member for Copperbelt?
Sorry, Mr. Speaker. I hope the Member for Copperbelt is thinking about it. Yes, yes, I know Iím supposed to speak to you.
How about ďsupport energy conservation
initiatives and ensure that
ďPromote the development of
Just to pick out a few more here ó
ďContinue to support the initiatives of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation to
ensure the integrity and protection of the Porcupine caribou herd.Ē Wow, thatís
a big promise. But guess what? They are being threatened. Where is it? Where is
your action? Where is it? When they start drilling, where are you going to be?
Pay attention. The Member for
Now I know that one minister over there, the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, has been working hard to streamline it. ďGo stake. Stake until your heart falls out. Itís all right. Weíll figure it out in the end. Iíll promise you 100 acres will be here for the Yukon Agricultural Association. Weíre going to streamline it. Iíll just decide where and when and whatever you want.Ē Thatís how thatís ministerís going to operate. Weíre not going to bother with any other process. It causes problems for my buddies.
Open, accountable, fiscally responsible government. Wow, those are big words.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Hardy: Yes, calm down.
Speaker: Order please. The time being , the House now stands adjourned until tomorrow.
Debate on second reading of Bill No. 15 accordingly adjourned
The House adjourned at
The following Sessional Paper was tabled
††††††† Absence of Members from Sittings of the
Legislative Assembly and its Committees: Report of the Clerk of the Legislative