Thursday, October 27, 2005 — 1:00 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with prayers.
Introduction of pages
Speaker: It gives me great pleasure to announce that the following students will be serving the House as legislative pages for the 2005 fall sitting. They are Napanda Ausiku, Jacob Carr, Tanner Cassidy, Kathleen Hare, Melina Hougen, Johanna Ponsioen, and Mauricio Ruiz from Vanier Catholic School and Alden Smyth from Porter Creek Secondary School.
Today we have with us Tanner Cassidy and Mauricio Ruiz. I would ask that all members welcome them to the House at this time.
Withdrawal of motions
Speaker: The Chair also wishes to inform the House of changes that have been made to the Order Paper. The following motions have been removed from the Order Paper because they are outdated: Motion No. 234, standing in the name of the Member for Mount Lorne; Motion No. 437, standing in the name of the leader of the official opposition; and Motion No. 480, standing in the name of the leader of the third party. Also, Motion No. 481, standing in the name of the leader of the official opposition, and Motion No. 482, standing in the name of the leader of the third party, have been removed from the Order Paper due to the resignation of the Member for Copperbelt.
Further, a number of motions standing in the name of the former Member for Copperbelt have been removed from the Order Paper due to the resignation of that member. They are Motion Nos. 11, 27, 33, 40, 51, 73, 79, 91, 106, 112, 116, 138, 157, 176, 198, 218 and 254.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
In recognition of the Carcross-Tagish First Nation final and self-government agreements
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I rise today to pay tribute to Carcross-Tagish First Nation final and self-government agreements.
I’d like to begin the tribute by asking the House to turn its attention to the gallery. It is a great honour to be able to introduce Kha Shade Heni Wedge of the CTFN and Darla Lindstrom, Executive Council member for the Carcross-Tagish First Nation. Please give them a warm welcome.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: On October 22, the Carcross-Tagish First Nation became the eleventh of Yukon’s 14 First Nations to sign its final and self-government agreements. On behalf of the Government of Yukon and my elected colleagues I offer heartfelt congratulations to the Carcross-Tagish Kha Shade Heni and his council, the elders and citizens of the Carcross-Tagish First Nation.
The six clans of this First Nation: the Daklaweidi and Yan Yeidi, Deisheetaan, Gaanaxtedi, Ishkaahittan, and Kookhittaan can be confident that these agreements will assist them to realize their dreams as a people.
It was an honour for me as Premier to be a signatory to these historic agreements on behalf of the Government of Yukon and to participate in the ceremony and celebration with the Carcross-Tagish First Nation and indeed the Government of Canada.
In the document, Our Elders’ Statement, the Carcross-Tagish First Nation elders eloquently expressed their vision for the care and management of their traditional lands. On January 9, 2006, the agreements to continue to implement this vision will come into effect. That day will also formally mark the recognition of the historic governance by the Carcross-Tagish people over their lands and citizens.
Because of their hard work and dedication, the Carcross-Tagish First Nation now has more ability to be full partners in the development of Yukon and to provide programs and services to its citizens. Over the past several years in particular, countless hours have gone into the negotiation and finalization of these agreements by people working for the Carcross-Tagish First Nation, the Government of Canada and the Government of Yukon.
I would like to take a moment in our Legislative Assembly to recognize and thank the people who have worked so diligently to make these agreements a reality. The negotiators who worked on behalf of the First Nation, to you, a job well done.
On behalf of the Government of Yukon, I would like to pay recognition to the following individuals: Ron Sumanik, lead negotiator; Karyn Armour, chief negotiator; Lesley McCullough, director of mandate and policy for land claims and implementation secretariat; Monica Leask, legal counsel; Greg Kent and Allan Nixon, land negotiators; Skeeter Miller-Wright and Bonnie Hurlock, implementation negotiators; and Juanita Messner, administrative support. To all those individuals and many more, a job well done.
There are also others who contributed to this success, people who, in the past, worked for the land claims secretariat, as well as those in other departments who supported the efforts of the Yukon’s negotiating team.
Finally, the Yukon government looks forward to working in partnership with the Carcross-Tagish First Nation as it charts its own course for the future.
Today, I invite all honourable members to join me in congratulating the First Nation on achieving this significant milestone in the history of the Carcross-Tagish people.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Hardy: I rise on behalf of the official opposition to pay tribute to the signing of the Carcross-Tagish First Nation land claim and self-government agreements.
I was personally honoured to be present with my colleagues, the MLA for Vuntut Gwitchin and the MLA for Mount Lorne, last week when we were graciously welcomed to the signing in Carcross.
It was an impressive ceremony, Mr. Speaker, and it was clear that these agreements were well-received by the community.
We were moved by the many elders and children in traditional dress, the First Nation national anthem and the prayers. Representatives of other First Nations, including some from Southeast Alaska, gave readings from their own First Nations and offered gifts and best wishes for the future to the Carcross-Tagish First Nation.
The elders’ statement was especially moving and I found it was done very well, and it set the tone for the whole ceremony. Also, the Tlingit language was shown to be a vibrant and important part of the lives of the members of the CTFN.
Now, this historic occasion brought to mind the signing of treaties and land claim agreements by other First Nations both in the provinces and in the north, the many that we’ve had so far. Over the many years since this process began in the Yukon, the Umbrella Final Agreement and the agreements under it have become a substantial part of economic and social development in the Yukon. First Nations are implementing their self-government rights and are seen as a vital part of Yukon society. We are in a most challenging but very exciting time in our history. I believe that the future bodes very well as these agreements are signed and the First Nations are able to move forward.
The signing of these agreements is the end, of course, of many, many years of work by First Nations and the many federal and Yukon government employees and leaders. We thank them for their diligence and their hard work and commitment.
It is with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that all Yukoners can reflect on what has been done here today, Mr. Speaker, but it is also a time for taking stock of the commitment and work that is ahead. The agreements give the First Nations not only land and compensation, but rights that call for consideration and respect in dealing with them on a daily basis. We trust that this will be a supportive environment in which future negotiations and agreements with all First Nations are made. We have an opportunity, Mr. Speaker, and we can’t let that opportunity go.
Ms. Duncan: I rise today to recognize and pay tribute to the Carcross-Tagish First Nation and its leadership, and also the negotiators from Canada and from the Yukon. Congratulations are in order for everyone, as are our very best wishes for the future.
Being involved in the negotiation of land claims and the initialling of agreements is a very rare privilege. It is truly a unique experience that is almost indescribable to those who have not been there. Having had the honour of working with past and present chiefs and the Yukon negotiating team — although the work is long and sometimes frustrating and difficult, it is to all of your credit that we have reached this amazing moment in our history.
Our Member of Parliament, Larry Bagnell, described the unique context of the Carcross-Tagish First Nation land claims signing very well to the non-First Nations and those who haven’t had the experience, at Saturday’s ceremony. His remarks were the equivalent of walking a mile in someone else’s shoes or examining the experience through someone else’s eyes. He captured the emotion of the signing ceremony and this momentous occasion for the Carcross-Tagish First Nation, all Yukoners and Canadians.
Today we have an opportunity to say thank you for all you have done — your persistence, your good faith, your strength in your beliefs. Your ancestors have stood you in good stead and you have given future generations the gift of hope and a brighter future.
Congratulations to everyone and best wishes. Mahsi’ cho.
In recognition of Women’s History Month
Hon. Ms. Taylor: On behalf of the Yukon Legislative Assembly, I rise to pay tribute to Women’s History Month. This month, October, marks Women’s History Month, and it is an annual national celebration that is linked to Persons Day, which occurs on October 18.
As many of you know, Persons Day celebrates the accomplishments of the Famous 5 — women who, in 1929, brought their fight for equality all the way to the Privy Council in England.
Through their determination, the Famous 5 achieved the right for Canadian women to serve in the Senate and paved the way for women to participate in the public life of the country.
Each year, the Women’s Directorate honours Yukon women by highlighting their contributions to the social, economic and political fabric of the territory. To honour women in this field and their contribution to our communities, the Women’s Directorate worked closely with Yukon Women in Trades and Technology to produce a celebratory poster showcasing women working in and learning about the trades.
In recognition of Women’s History Month, we celebrate both the historical and contemporary accomplishments of women in the trades. We also note the important work that remains in areas of apprenticeship, mentoring, workplace culture change and training in order to further encourage young women to enter the trades.
We were very fortunate to have Dr. Marcia Braundy, a visiting academic from the University of British Columbia, visit the Yukon earlier this month and share her research on women in the trades across Canada. What we do know is that despite historic contributions, women continue to be faced with barriers working in the trades. As such, we continue to work with key partners, including Yukon Women in Trades and Technology, to break down those very barriers.
Earlier this month, our government released a research report that is an update to a report that was published in 1999 that identifies some of the ways in which to increase women’s participation in the lucrative and exciting trades fields. One of the results of this report is a new 16-week course, Women Exploring Trades and Technology, that will be offered at Yukon College beginning in March 2006.
Mr. Speaker, Women’s History Month is a time to celebrate women and their accomplishments. Here in the Yukon, we have a very strong and supportive community of women who are working in and contributing to trades work. Certainly a lot of women to be proud of.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Are there any further tributes?
In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I rise today to ask my colleagues in this House to join me in recognizing October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the Yukon and throughout North America.
Now, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer found in women, and everyone here today has been affected in some way or other by breast cancer. In Canada, one in nine women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. One woman in 27 will die from it. I’m proud that Health and Social Services supports breast health awareness initiatives and that it works with community groups to encourage all Yukon women to take the time this month, and every month, to take the steps necessary to ensure early detection of breast cancer. Those messages are that women need to do breast self-examination; they need to see their health care practitioner, whether their physician or a nurse practitioner in our communities; and that they should have a mammogram every two years if they are over 50 or if there is a family history of cancer.
These messages need to go to all women in the territory, young and old, because breast cancer affects our mothers, our friends, our sisters, our daughters.
Today we recognize those who carry the message and, more importantly, we honour those who fight the battle daily, those who survive and those who haven’t.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. McRobb: I rise on behalf of the official opposition in tribute to Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October. Among Canadian women, the most common type of cancer is breast cancer. One in nine women in Canada is expected to develop breast cancer during her lifetime and the risk is increasing. Four hundred and fifteen women are diagnosed with breast cancer every week — an estimated 21,600 Canadian women every year. One quarter of them will die from it.
Rates in the United States are even greater, where one in seven women is expected to develop the disease.
Breast cancer is not restricted to women, however. In Canada, it’s expected that 150 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and 45 of them will die from it.
As with all cancers, early detection and treatment are keys to remaining healthy. Breast self-examination helps a woman to learn what is normal and will indicate changes. Mammography and clinical examinations screen for the disease.
Mr. Speaker, women suffering from breast cancer often wondered why they had been struck with the disease. Thus far, scientists have been able to explain less than half the risks for breast cancer. Unknown causes are at work. If we know the cause, it’s much simpler to prevent it.
Breast cancer research is focused heavily on treatment and there is little investment in prevention. However, one of the areas of research that is proving worthwhile is strong laboratory evidence to link chemicals with breast carcinogens. Many of these chemicals are common. They are found in grilled and smoked foods, tobacco smoke, air pollution from automobile exhaust, furniture finishes, dyes, solvents, detergents and cosmetics.
One of the research centres that places a priority on the link between the environment and cancer is the Silent Spring Institute in the United States. It is named after Rachel Carson, whose book, Silent Spring, is credited with initiating the modern environmental movement. Her book warned about the impacts from some of the 70,000 synthetic chemicals that have been developed since the 1940s.
Two years after her book was published, Rachel Carson died of cancer. While testifying to Congress about the dangers of DDT, she said, “I hope this committee will give attention to the right of the citizen to be secure in his own home against the intrusion of poisons applied by other persons. This should be one of the basic human rights.”
Since Ms. Carson’s lifetime, the risk of breast cancer in the U.S. increased from one in 14 to one in seven. Since 1940, the risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer by age 50 has increased from 24 percent to 67 percent.
When we donate to cancer societies and when we Run for Mom, maybe we should also think about prevention in addition to cure.
We should make our opinion known that research linking the environment to cancer must also be a route taken in the fight against this dreaded disease. Prevention of exposure to known carcinogens should be a human right.
Ms. Duncan: I rise today on behalf of the Liberal caucus to recognize national Breast Cancer Awareness Month. October 2005 marks more than 20 years that national Breast Cancer Awareness Month has been educating women and men about breast cancer detection, diagnosis and treatment.
We recognize the progress being made in the treatment of this disease, building awareness, providing information and hope for future innovations in breast cancer treatment.
Each and every one of us has been touched in some way by breast cancer, be it a mother, grandmother, sister, aunt or very dear friend. In the Yukon, on Mother’s Day, we walk, bike or run in the Run for Mom for breast cancer awareness. Many Yukoners also participate in the Relay for Life held on June 4 and 5.
This year alone, there will be an estimated 21,800 new cases of breast cancer. Mammograms are the most reliable breast cancer screening tool available today. Regular mammograms can spot a breast tumour while it is still small and easier to treat, boosting a woman’s chances of surviving this disease.
National Breast Cancer Awareness Month provides a reminder to women to perform breast self-examination and schedule a mammogram. Please, Mr. Speaker, let us remind all of the women in our lives to do the same.
In recognition of Crime Prevention Week
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I rise today to pay tribute to Crime Prevention Week, which is from October 24 to 30 this year. Crime Prevention Week is a promotional week organized by Crime Prevention Yukon. It provides the opportunity to increase public awareness of crime prevention strategies and programs. As well, it allows us to recognize and congratulate the many individuals who give their time for activities that lead to a reduction in crime.
As always, a number of activities and events are planned for Crime Prevention Week. On Sunday, the Neighbourhood Watch community conference took place — an event that promotes citizens and organizations working together on social issues affecting neighbourhoods.
By working in groups, people can increase their ability to help prevent a crime from taking place. Crime prevention is, of course, a vital component in improving and maintaining the health and safety of our neighbourhoods.
The kind of environment a neighbourhood or community has can either encourage or discourage crime. On October 24, Crime Prevention Yukon hosted the annual crime prevention awards banquet. This event is a rewarding part of Crime Prevention Week. Many deserving individuals were recognized for their involvement in crime prevention activities in our communities. Meaningful community involvement is the key to developing safe communities. Congratulations to all of you who have worked to make our communities a safer place to live.
Mr. Cardiff: I rise, too, in tribute to Crime Prevention Week in the Yukon, which is October 24 to 31 this year. Statistics tell us that crime rates have increased six percent across Canada. In the Yukon the rate has remained stable, but it is still among the three highest in Canada, behind our other two northern territories.
In response to these trends, citizens have organized to help prevent crime. Canada developed a national crime prevention strategy in 1998, which funds local initiatives for the prevention of crime. Prevention is one of the most effective measures we can take in helping to create a healthy society. Groups of volunteers such as Neighbourhood Watch, Block Parents, Citizens on Patrol, and the RCMP auxiliary constables all serve citizens in confronting and stopping possible criminal acts. They play an important part in assisting in the policing of our community, and we salute the volunteers who donate their time for the prevention of crime in our neighbourhoods.
It’s important, however, to realize that crimes do not arise for no reason. The social and economic reasons for crime are where prevention should play its most effective part.
The environment that creates risk factors for crime includes family violence, social isolation and substance abuse. These environments are largely the products of poverty, and social programs that help to eliminate poverty should be of paramount concern to this government. Social and economic development programs to support families and communities that face crime are the surest way to prevent it. Programs that focus on children and youth, aboriginal communities, the security of women, seniors and persons with disabilities — all help to prevent crime. Many of these programs are funded by government-managed non-government organizations, with volunteer boards, dedicated employees and the support of many, many volunteers who work very, very hard. We need to extend our gratitude to those people for the work that they do in our community.
It is especially important to note that the crime rate among young Canadian people, age 12 to 17, has increased by five percent. That’s the third gain in four years. Young people are our future, Mr. Speaker, and we all benefit by investing in their welfare.
Each one of us can assist in the prevention of youth crime. We can support sport and recreation programs, we can become informed about substance, physical and sexual abuse problems, and we can educate children about those problems. Monitoring the activity of children and youth in our families, our schools and our communities and supporting programs to help keep youth safe and healthy should be our priority.
Crime Prevention Yukon and Neighbourhood Watch sponsored a community conference earlier this week to take a look at the best way that we can develop crime prevention organizations in the Yukon and support the work that they do. Many good ideas came from this conference and the initiative, and we look forward to this government’s support to help implement them.
In recognition of National Block Parent Week
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to National Block Parent Week, which is from October 23 through 29 of this year. Block Parent Week is a promotional week that provides the opportunity to increase awareness of the valuable service the Block Parent program provides to communities.
The familiar red-and-white Block Parent sign displayed in the windows of Block Parent volunteer homes indicates not only to children but anyone in distress — teens, women and seniors — that they are able to approach that home and know that someone inside is available to help.
Bullying continues to be the most common reason that a Block Parent is called upon to offer help, but their assistance is also needed in other situations, such as when someone is lost, hurt or ill, frightened by a stranger or locked out of the house or car. A Block Parent assists persons in distress by telephoning the appropriate emergency services.
The Yukon Block Parent program operates out of Crime Prevention Yukon with financial assistance from the Department of Justice. There are currently 80 Block Parent volunteers in Whitehorse and Watson Lake, but more are needed.
This year’s theme, “Building safer communities one block at a time. Become a Block Parent,” encourages members of our community to volunteer to be a Block Parent. For their part in making our neighbourhood safer, I would like to recognize and thank those individual volunteers who are presently active in the program.
Traditionally, Mr. Speaker, we view this as a spirit of caring and a spirit of sharing. It is vitally important for all communities to recognize that giving of your time is valuable to everyone’s safety.
I look forward to seeing the network of Block Parents expanded to more blocks and more communities throughout the Yukon.
Thank you. Mahsi’ cho.
Ms. Duncan: I rise in recognition of National Block Parents Week and to pay tribute to the Block Parents throughout the Yukon. As the minister has noted, a Block Parent window sign tells children, seniors and others in the neighbourhood that help is at hand if they are lost, frightened or in distress.
Working together with educators and police, Block Parents help make our communities safer. There are more than 300,000 Block Parent volunteers throughout Canada including here in the Yukon. I would like to extend our thanks to our Yukon Block Parent volunteers and to encourage more members of our Yukon communities to consider becoming a Block Parent. The more Block Parent homes, the safer our neighbourhoods and communities will be.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Merci beaucoup. Mahsi’ cho.
Speaker: Are there any introductions of visitors?
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Mr. Hardy: I invite all members to join me in welcoming Maureen Stephens, who is the NDP candidate in the by-election for the Electoral District of Copperbelt.
Mr. Hardy: Also, I invite all members to join me in welcoming Laurie Butterworth. He just last weekend became the new president of the Yukon Employees Union.
Mr. Hardy: That’s fairly significant. There hasn’t been a new president, I believe, in 26 years. That is a substantial change, and I hope it bodes well for all future negotiations.
Also, I would like to welcome a constituent of Whitehorse Centre, a constituent of mine, a visionary businessman, Mr. Rolf Hougen.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleagues in the Legislature to join me in welcoming Arthur Mitchell, the leader of the Yukon Liberal Party to the gallery.
Speaker: Any further introduction of visitors?
It is the Chair’s pleasure, on the rare occasions I get to introduce visitors — we have with us today Missy Follwell, the former Deputy Clerk of the Legislative Assembly. I’d like you to join me in welcoming her.
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Speaker: Under the tabling of returns and documents, I have for tabling the following documents:
(1) A notice from Haakon Arntzen, received by me as Speaker on September 9, 2005, resigning as Member for the Electoral District of Copperbelt;
(2) A warrant issued by me as Speaker, pursuant to section 15 of the Legislative Assembly Act, respecting the resignation of Mr. Arntzen;
(3) A copy of the letter from the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly to the Commissioner respecting the vacancy in the Electoral District of Copperbelt; and
(4) A report of the Clerk of the Assembly made pursuant to subsection 39(6) of the Legislative Assembly Act.
Further, the Chair has for tabling the Conflict of Interest Commission Annual Report for the period ending March 31, 2005. This report was distributed to members of the Assembly and to the media this past May.
Are there any further returns or documents for tabling?
Mr. Hardy: I have for tabling a letter in response to the whistle-blower protection we have been waiting to see come forward for the last three years.
Mr. McRobb: I have for tabling a letter dated October 18, 2005, addressed to the government House leader, trying to avoid early adjournment on opening day. I also have for tabling two other letters.
Speaker: Are there any further documents for tabling?
Are there any reports of committees?
Petitions No. 8 — not received
Clerk: Mr. Speaker and honourable members of the Assembly, I have had the honour to review a petition, being Petition No. 8 of the First Session of the 31st Legislative Assembly, as presented by the Member for Kluane on May 17, 2005.
The petitioners ask the Yukon Legislative Assembly to revoke a regulation requiring that the sellers of heating fuel submit monthly reports to the Department of Finance. The Assembly, in passing the Fuel Oil Tax Act, delegated responsibility for making and revoking regulations to the Commissioner in Executive Council. The right to do this is set out in section 34 of the act.
Although Standing Order 66(5) states that, “A petition may raise a matter that has been delegated to another body by the Yukon Legislative Assembly”, there is no Standing Order or other authority that permits petitioners to ask the Assembly to take an action that is the responsibility of another body.
As Petition No. 8 asks the Assembly to act beyond its legal authority, it does not meet the requirements as to form of the Standing Orders of the Yukon Legislative Assembly.
Speaker: Thank you, Mr. Clerk. Accordingly, Petition No. 8 may not be received.
Are there any new petitions to be presented?
Petition No. 9
Mr. Hardy: I have for tabling the following petition to the Yukon Legislative Assembly:
This petition of the undersigned shows that the Government of Yukon is a party to the Umbrella Final Agreement, dated May 29, 1993, and that section 2.2.8 of the aforementioned Umbrella Final Agreement sets out the requirements for ratification of that Umbrella Final Agreement as follows:
The parties to the Umbrella Final Agreement shall negotiate the processes for ratification of the Umbrella Final Agreement and the ratification of those processes shall be sought at the same time as ratification of the Umbrella Final Agreement, and that the undersigned representatives of the Kaska Nation wish to determine whether the Umbrella Final Agreement has been ratified in accordance with the aforementioned provisions of section 2.2.8.
Therefore, the undersigned ask the Yukon Legislative Assembly to request that the Members of Executive Council responsible for land claims in the Yukon provide a reasonably detailed written response to the following questions:
(1) Did the parties to the Umbrella Final Agreement, dated May 29, 1993, negotiate the processes for ratification of the Umbrella Final Agreement?
(2) If the parties to the Umbrella Final Agreement did negotiate the processes for ratification of the Umbrella Final Agreement, what specifically were the processes that they negotiated?
(3) Did the parties to the Umbrella Final Agreement ratify the processes for ratification of the Umbrella Final Agreement?
(4) If the parties to the Umbrella Final Agreement did ratify the processes for ratification of the Umbrella Final Agreement, when did that occur and by what means?
Speaker: Are there any further petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 16: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I move that Bill No. 16, entitled Fourth Appropriation Act, 2004-05, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Premier that Bill No. 16, entitled Fourth Appropriation Act, 2004-05, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 16 agreed to
Bill No. 17: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I move that Bill No. 17, entitled Second Appropriation Act, 2005-06, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Premier that Bill No. 17, entitled Second Appropriation Act, 2005-06, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 17 agreed to
Bill No. 57: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I move that Bill No. 57, entitled Act to Amend the Small Claims Court Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 57, entitled Act to Amend the Small Claims Court Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 57 agreed to
Bill No. 58: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I move that Bill No. 58, entitled Act to Amend the Supreme Court Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 58, entitled Act to Amend the Supreme Court Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 58 agreed to
Bill No. 63: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I move that Bill No. 63, entitled Act to Amend the Family Violence Prevention Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 63, entitled Act to Amend the Family Violence Prevention Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 63 agreed to
Bill No. 60: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I move that Bill No. 60, entitled Act to Amend the Public Service Group Insurance Benefit Plan Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission that Bill No. 60, entitled Act to Amend the Public Service Group Insurance Benefit Plan Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 60 agreed to
Bill No. 61: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I move that Bill No. 61, entitled Cooperation in Governance Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Premier that Bill No. 61, entitled Cooperation in Governance Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 61 agreed to
Bill No. 64: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I move that Bill No. 64, entitled Act to Amend the Income Tax Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Premier that Bill No. 64, entitled Act to Amend the Income Tax Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 64 agreed to
Speaker: Are there any further bills for introduction?
Are there any notices of motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Cathers: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Minister of Finance to develop a program to assist Yukoners in coping with the recent increases to the cost of heating fuel.
I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the federal Liberal government to comply with the request of the Royal Canadian Legion, veterans associations and individual veterans and their families to end the current unjust situation whereby, as a result of a federal order-in-council passed in 1946, approximately 14,000 veterans are deprived of pension benefits and the recognition of having honourably served our country in time of war.
I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon, in cooperation with the St. Elias Seniors Society, to work to establish a seniors’ central residence in Haines Junction.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Hardy: Mr. Speaker, I give notice of the following motion:
THAT a special committee of the Yukon Legislative Assembly be appointed during the current sitting of the Legislative Assembly to conduct a public review of the legislation, rules and practices that apply to the Yukon Legislative Assembly and its members;
THAT the committee consist of an equal number of members from each of the three recognized political parties in the Legislative Assembly, plus the Speaker, who shall act as a neutral chair of the committee;
THAT, at any time that the Speaker is unable to attend the business of the committee, the Deputy Speaker shall substitute for the Speaker as chair of the committee;
THAT the remaining members of the committee shall be chosen by the recognized leaders in the Legislative Assembly and that each of their appointments be made effective upon the date of a letter from the recognized leader;
THAT the committee shall conduct public consultations throughout the territory, beginning no later than three months after this motion is agreed to, and shall report its findings and recommendations to the Legislative Assembly no later than nine months from the date this motion is agreed to;
THAT the scope of the public consultation shall include but not be limited to the following areas of consideration:
(a) establishing a code of ethical conduct for members within the Legislative Assembly Act;
(b) creation of an Executive Council Act, including:
(i) definitions of the terms Premier and Minister and the principal duties pertaining to those roles; and
(ii) qualifications required of members to be appointed or, once appointed, to continue to serve as Cabinet ministers;
(c) options for increasing resources and support for members’ constituency responsibilities;
(d) measures to improve public awareness of proceedings of the Yukon Legislative Assembly and the legislative process, and to encourage public participation in the decision-making process;
(e) amendment of the Standing Orders of the Yukon Legislative Assembly respecting:
(i) fixed opening dates for legislative sittings;
(ii) composition and role of standing, special, and select committees;
(iii) mechanisms for the referral of reports from departments and agencies and for the review of government bills prior to second reading;
(iv) suggested rules for tributes, ministerial statements and private members’ statements;
(v) proposals for the review of deputy head appointments and appointments to major boards and committees;
(vi) measures to improve the accountability of ministers to the Legislative Assembly for the performance of the departments, Crown corporations or agencies for which they are responsible;
(vii) ways to increase public involvement in legislative decision making, such as allowing witnesses to appear before standing, special or select committees;
(viii) improving the ability of opposition members to exercise their legitimate roles of legislative review and government scrutiny;
(ix) proposals for greater access of private members’ business to the Order Paper;
(f) suggestions for periodic future review of legislative practices and procedures; and
(g) other matters the committee may deem appropriate for public review.
THAT, if the Legislative Assembly is not sitting at such time as the committee is prepared to report, the Chair shall transmit the report to all members of the Assembly and table the report when the Assembly next sits;
THAT individual members of the special committee shall be free to table independent reports dissenting from the recommendations of the committee as a whole;
THAT the committee shall determine its own procedure for achieving the general mandate as outlined in this motion, including the forum of public consultation to be used subject to the approval of the budget by the Members’ Services Board;
THAT administrative and research support to the committee shall be provided through the Office of the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly; and
THAT the Clerk shall assist in the preparation of the final report and recommendations of the committee to the Legislative Assembly and may advise on legislative amendments or other initiatives that may be required to bring effect to the committee’s recommendations.
I also give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House calls upon the Yukon Party government to honour its commitment to establish an all-party standing committee on appointments to major boards and committees by introducing the necessary enabling motion in this House no later than the fifth day of the current sitting and by calling the motion as a matter of government business at the earliest possible opportunity.
Mr. McRobb: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that
(1) the Yukon government’s plan to significantly amend the quartz mining land use regulations and the placer mining land use regulations violates due process as well as its election campaign promise to be open, transparent and accountable;
(2) the government’s approach does not satisfy its legal and moral requirement to consult in a meaningful way with all affected parties, especially First Nations, whenever major changes are being proposed to important environmental legislation;
(3) these changes are certain to have direct impact on our lands and waters, including the aquatic and terrestrial wildlife they support; and
THAT this House urges the Yukon government to defer implementing any of the proposed changes until such time as all affected parties have had adequate time to provide their input through a formal consultative process.
I also give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that
(1) the review of the Children’s Act has used a substantial amount of time and resources;
(2) this act is very important, since a new legislation will affect all Yukoners;
(3) the review has been delayed several months and won’t be completed on schedule;
(4) Yukoners are still waiting for the document summarizing the proposed content of the bill, scheduled for release last May; and
THAT the House urges the Yukon government to give priority to the completion of the Children’s Act and bring it before the Yukon Legislative Assembly without further delay.
Mr. Fairclough: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Yukon Party government to respond to the shortage of skilled trades workers in the Yukon by immediately funding and implementing programs for training of construction and mining trades in the communities outside of Whitehorse.
I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House recognizes that
(1) the Yukon Party government stated that the heavy equipment rental contract program was a pilot project during the 2004-05 fiscal year;
(2) the Minister of Highways and Public Works promised in the House to release an evaluation of the program and failed to do so;
(3) the vast majority of contracts in the program to date have gone to a small number of contractors in the southeast Yukon; and
(4) legitimate questions have been raised regarding the value-for-dollar impact of the program; and
THAT this House urges the Yukon Party government to release to the public a complete analysis of the heavy equipment rental contract program for the 2004-05 fiscal year and for the 2005-06 fiscal year before proceeding further with the program.
Mr. Rouble: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Minister of Community Services to, as part of the Yukon government’s commitment to the decade of sport and culture and to making the 2007 Canada Winter Games a resounding success, recognize the under-funded state of the kids recreation fund, which assists children whose families are experiencing financial hardship in participating in sport, art, cultural, social and recreational programs, by increasing the Government of Yukon’s contribution to this fund from its current level of $60,000 per year to a new level of $200,000 per year.
Mr. Cardiff: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Yukon Party government has repeatedly failed to honour its commitment to call a municipal election in Dawson City so that residents of Dawson can exercise their democratic right of choice as to who will conduct the municipality’s business on their behalf;
THAT this delay, as well as the Premier’s unnecessary delay in calling a by-election in a timely manner so that residents of the Electoral District of Copperbelt could have democratic representation in the House throughout the current sitting, demonstrates disregard for the vital importance of the democratic process; and
THAT this House urges the Yukon Party government to take the necessary steps to restore Dawson City to financial solvency and to ensure that a municipal election is held in Dawson City before the completion of this sitting.
I also give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that
(1) the cost of living in the north is much higher than in Canadian jurisdictions in the south;
(2) the Yukon minimum wage does not allow low-paid workers a decent living;
(3) the minimum wage in Nunavut is $8.50, and in the Northwest Territories it’s $8.25 an hour; and
(4) the Yukon’s minimum wage has not changed since 1998, and at $7.20 per hour, it is not only lower than Nunavut and Northwest Territories, it is also lower than B.C., Manitoba, Quebec and Ontario; and
THAT this House urges the Yukon Party government to immediately raise the minimum wage to $8.50 per hour; and
That this House urges the Yukon Party government to work with the governments of Nunavut and Northwest Territories to develop and adopt a northern minimum wage policy that reflects the higher costs associated with living in the north and ensure that the minimum wage will keep pace with the increases in the cost of living.
Mrs. Peter: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that
(1) the Yukon Party government’s proposed changes to the Wildlife Act to address broader management concerns need to be spelled out more clearly and in much greater detail before the public can be asked to review them;
(2) the implications of these changes could be enormous for all Yukoners if they result in a redefinition of the word “wildlife” that allows the expansion of game farming in the Yukon;
(3) they may even violate the spirit and the letter of the Umbrella Final Agreement if they allow the private ownership of a public resource, like wildlife indigenous to the Yukon; and
THAT this House urges the Yukon Party government to reconsider making any changes to the Wildlife Act until all Yukoners have been fully informed about the exact nature and possible impacts of these changes and have had sufficient time to properly study and discuss them.
I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House recognizes that
(1) the impact of global warming has a disproportionately negative effect on northern ecosystems;
(2) Yukon has a responsibility to implement the Kyoto Protocol;
(3) Yukon is one of only three jurisdictions in Canada with no Kyoto Protocol implementation plan in place; and
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to immediately enact a Kyoto Protocol implementation plan tailored to Yukon climate change conditions.
Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?
Is there a statement by a minister?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: First Nation agreements
Mr. Hardy: I have to say it’s wonderful to be back in the Legislative Assembly and able to question this government.
At the risk of provoking a sense of déjà vu, I have a very simple question to ask the Premier. When does the Premier intend to start giving the same importance to honouring the numerous agreements he has signed with the First Nations that he gives to getting the signatures in the first place?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I’m not quite sure what point the member opposite is trying to make, but I can assure this House, First Nations and all Yukoners that this government places the utmost importance on the agreements we’ve entered into.
The foundation for our relationship with First Nations is built around the agreements — the final agreements and the self-government agreements — and the government has taken a step further than other governments in the past have even attempted, and that is to formalize the relationship of two jurisdictions that must collaborate in governance in the territory.
In the coming days and weeks in this House, we will be debating the Co-operation in Governance Act, which is evidence and testimony to the tremendous priority and importance we place in this relationship and the agreements we’ve entered into.
Mr. Hardy: Everything is fine in the Premier’s mind. Relations have never been better — he has said that before — and all he has to say is look at all the paperwork out there. It gets even better: as he has referenced already, we’re going to get to see another piece of paper, the bill that will turn the Premier’s Yukon Forum into law, and we’ll have a debate in the House about that.
But the trouble is that it’s just one more piece of paper if the Premier doesn’t live up to the commitments. The Premier says everything is hunky-dory between him and the First Nations — we’ve heard that before — but that’s not what many First Nations are actually saying.
We are hearing the First Nation leaders say the exact opposite things about the state of government-to-government relations. Whom should we believe, Mr. Speaker? Why should we believe this Premier when there are so many other voices that are contradicting him?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I would respectfully submit to the member opposite that we should believe in the evidence and the facts. There will always be differences and debate among orders of governments, especially here in the Yukon, considering the unique situation the Yukon is in vis-à-vis the land claims and the self-government agreements. But now let’s talk about facts that speak to relationship, and building and improving relationships. It is no small wonder that through our approach of improving the relationship we were successful in negotiating collectively with First Nations the Yukon chapter in the northern strategy, which addresses many of the priorities for this territory in partnership with Canada.
It is no small wonder in the importance we place in this relationship that we conducted a process for the Children’s Act review that has never been attempted before in the territory. It’s a true partnership of First Nations and we are forging ahead with that relationship with the Children’s Act review.
We have co-chairs for the education reform process and we have co-chairs for the correctional reform process. We have done a great deal in terms of our commitment to building and formalizing and strengthening our relationship with First Nations, with Yukoners and with our neighbours. The facts speak for themselves.
Mr. Hardy: I would like to remind the Premier opposite that the signing of the Umbrella Final Agreement was one of the most significant documents ever in the history of the Yukon, and that the signed self-government agreements are some of the most significant documents ever signed in the Yukon, not just his little pieces of paper that he is bringing forward or the MOUs that he has out there. Maybe he needs a little bit of humbleness in this matter.
Now, the Premier should pay very close attention to the radio or read the newspapers more closely. He should pay more attention to the mail that he actually receives. We do take the comments of First Nation leaders very seriously on this side of the House, whether the issue is education, economic partnerships, environmental concerns or any number of other things.
When we hear words like “betrayal”, “offensive”, “disrespectful” — even “dictatorial” — used to describe this Premier, there is a very serious problem Mr. Speaker. When we hear a chief say that this is probably the worst government his First Nation has ever had to deal with, things are not hunky-dory.
When will the Premier come out of denial and recognize that he is judged by what he does, not by what he says or how many photo ops he has signing agreements he has no intention of honouring, Mr. Speaker?
Speaker: Before the Hon. Premier answers the question, I would just like to remind all members that you cannot quote from documents from outside this Legislative Assembly when the words may be out of order. So I would just ask that the honourable members be very careful about that.
Hon. Premier, you have the floor.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, first let me respond to the issue of coming out of denial. That will not happen, because there is nothing to deny. But I can tell you that this side of the House is fascinated with how the member opposite has just diminished the significance of the Umbrella Final Agreement, the significance of the final agreements, the significance of the self-government agreements, the significance of the aforementioned list of partnerships that I have just responded to the member opposite here on the floor of the House. All of those areas are exact, in terms of what our obligations are as a government. We are living up to those obligations. We are delivering on those obligations. We are formalizing our relationship. We, together, with First Nations, are building Yukon’s future, not dismantling the past.
Question re: Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition
Mr. McRobb: Mr. Speaker, I want to follow up with this government on its poor treatment of Yukon First Nations. Last spring, this Legislature approved $200,000 for the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition. Now we find out that the government is withholding $150,000, despite pleas for those funds, which are needed for the APC to function. The APC’s member First Nations indicated in an October 4 letter to the Premier that they felt dismayed and deeply disappointed after meeting with him the previous day. They were unable to get reaffirmation of support in funding for the APC from this government, and there was no confirmation of the Premier’s pledge in April to commit six-figure funding to the APC.
What’s going on with this money? Why hasn’t this government honoured its agreement with these Yukon First Nations?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: For the benefit of the Member for Kluane, let me point out the facts.
First off, we have honoured our commitment with a heavy investment in the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition. In fact, this government was instrumental in working with First Nations on the pipeline corridor that is given effect by the Northern Pipeline Act, but we were instrumental in forming the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition and, in recent discussions with the very same First Nations and their leadership, we have informed them that we have every intention of continuing to invest in administrative needs and office space needs of the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition.
We’re also going to invest in more work, the broader work that needs to be done in this territory, to ensure that Yukon is pipeline-ready, and that will include our government working with the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition to those ends.
This is a massive project. The possibility of it becoming a reality in the near future is there. Yukon must be pipeline-ready. This is not about the opposition’s view of the facts — this is about what the Yukon must do to maximize its benefits and ensure that, over the long term, the Alaska Highway pipeline project gives full benefit to this territory with the least amount of negative and adverse effects.
Mr. McRobb: The Premier didn’t answer the question. It turns out that despite this government’s promises to support the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition, it now wants to abandon all previous commitments and abandon the cooperative work with the APC. Instead, this government wants to replace support for the First Nation members of the APC with a pipeline commission.
Well, isn’t that interesting, Mr. Speaker. Guess who else has a pipeline commission? This government prefers to go Murkowski style instead of the made-in-Yukon approach. Why is this government trying to force the member First Nations into submitting to this pipeline commission?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: This is only the first day of Question Period and the Member for Kluane is already exceeding the bounds of what it is we should be discussing. Frankly, we aren’t forcing the First Nations to do anything. We’ve just talked about the need to respect and understand the agreements we have in this territory and the two jurisdictions that we must ensure can collaborate here in the Yukon.
We’re merely offering the opportunity. It’s up to the First Nations as governments to make the decision, should they want to participate — or not. So let’s go over the facts. First fact: we will continue to support the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition. Second fact: we will create a broader process — call it commission, call it whatever you like. This territory is going to get pipeline-ready to ensure that we maximize the benefits and reduce the adverse effects.
Mr. McRobb: Mr. Speaker, the letters I tabled earlier today demonstrate just how concerned the First Nation members of the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition really are with this government. These letters use words such as — and I hope they’re all parliamentary, Mr. Speaker, — “deeply disappointed,” “nothing could be further from the truth,” “offensive,” —
Speaker: Order please. Order please. That one is not acceptable. The member knows full well that quoting words from outside the House that are out of order, in the House, is not in order. So I would ask the member not to do that. Please control yourself.
Mr. McRobb: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thought they were, in this context.
Speaker: No, they’re not.
Mr. McRobb: What brought it on, Mr. Speaker, this type of language in these letters is the Yukon Party government’s false representations to the oil industry giants and the federal government with respect to the position of the APC First Nations. Here’s an excerpt: “Your letters imply that the Alaska Highway Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition shares your government’s view with respect to the Yukon advantage of the Northern Pipeline Act. Nothing could be further from the [blank].” Why does this government continue to misrepresent this necessary ally in a way that is so injurious to the proposed pipeline project and, indeed, all Yukoners?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Well, Mr. Speaker, it should come as no surprise to the Member for Kluane that my response will be in direct contradiction of his assertions. We do not in any way, shape or form, misrepresent the territory’s position; but we are not, out of due respect to another order of government, going to dictate or assume what First Nation governments’ positions will be. But we will not stand down as public government on representing the interests of all Yukon citizens.
The Yukon does have an advantage when it comes to the Alaska Highway pipeline that is dramatically different from what is going on in the Mackenzie Valley. We have an established right-of-way. That right-of-way is an asset, and this government will protect the integrity of that right-of-way as we go through this process.
Furthermore, the member opposite has a great aversion to working with the State of Alaska. Well, does not the member opposite recognize that the Americans have invested millions and millions of dollars in his own riding, putting Yukoners to work? What is wrong with this picture?
Question re: Business loans outstanding
Ms. Duncan: I have some questions for the Minister of Finance. In March this year, the government announced a deal with Dana Naye Ventures on the outstanding loans issue. As part of the agreement, the government gave Dana Naye Ventures $350,000. It has been seven months. Can the minister tell the public how much money has been brought in under this agreement, how much has been collected, and are all the outstanding loans now in good standing?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: In the first place, the outstanding loans — the delinquent files — were placed in the hands of a financial institution for collection. All other files have been retained by the government because they are in good standing. Today I cannot give the member opposite the exact value of what has been collected to date, but I am sure that as we go through the proceedings of this House this fall we can ferret out the information for the member opposite.
The government has moved this out of its hands and is allowing a financial institution to do its work, considering all the circumstances that go with each individual file, and we have gone further — we have created a fund for small business to access risk capital.
So, I think all in all, considering the length of time that these delinquent files have been in place in this territory under a number of governments — including the member opposite’s government a short time ago — this Yukon Party government is the first government that has taken those long-standing delinquencies and turned them over for collection. That’s exactly what we intend to follow through with.
Ms. Duncan: One of the loans handed over to Dana Naye Ventures has been the subject of much public discussion — unfortunately, there has been no public repayment. It is also one of the larger outstanding loans.
In September 2002, the MLA for Klondike owed Yukoners $260,000 in overdue business loans. In three years that amount has grown to $306,000 — an increase of $46,000. Can the Premier tell taxpayers how much of this outstanding loan has been paid back? Has it been brought into good standing?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: This particular file is under collection by a financial institution in the private sector. The member opposite ignores and diminishes the fact that the citizens of Klondike elected, in three general elections, the sitting Member for Klondike. So I and this side of the House would never diminish the importance of the democratic process and the citizens of Klondike casting their vote.
Let me talk about owing monies. It was a short time ago, under the member opposite’s watch as Minister of Finance, that this territory was in an overdraft position to pay for programs and service delivery to Yukoners. That’s a significant difference. Under our watch, we have money in the bank; we’ve put over $200 million more into circulation, with the assistance of the Member for Klondike’s effort in leading the Health and Social Services department, strengthening our social fabric.
Mr. Speaker, there is a contrast and a parallel to be drawn here. That’s the difference between the financial management of this government — turning over these files to collection — and the member opposite’s financial management of having the Yukon in an overdraft position to pay for programs and services.
Ms. Duncan: Yukoners are very familiar with finances and also with fundraising. The Whitehorse General Hospital is currently fundraising for several new items. On the list is updated mammography equipment to help fight breast cancer. Earlier this afternoon we spoke about how much all of us in this House support initiatives aimed at fighting breast cancer.
The cost of that new equipment is $650,000. Hundreds of Yukoners are digging into their pockets to help pay for this much-needed equipment. Half the cost could be covered if one of these loans — the outstanding loans — was actually repaid.
Has the Premier asked the MLA for Klondike to repay his loan and if not, why not?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I am pleased to advise the House that the Yukon Hospital Foundation, with a recent initiative of Yukoners, is moving forward. It’s a very aggressive campaign to raise $5 million, of which our government is proud to have contributed $50,000 for the initial funding to set up the Yukon Hospital Foundation.
From there, we’re very hopeful that new mammography equipment will be purchased. An MRI is another aggressive piece of equipment they’re looking at purchasing, as well as upgrading a CT scanner.
It was just a short number of years ago that the Liberal Party government refused to honour a commitment to pay for the CT scan, and that was a subject of considerable debate.
This side of the House fully supports the initiatives of the Yukon Hospital Foundation in fundraising and we are contributing to that cause and assisting it. Together we can do a great deal more in the field of health care and equipment.
Question re: Wildlife Act amendments
Mrs. Peter: We have heard unofficially that the time allowed for public comment on the government’s proposed changes to the Wildlife Act may be extended, and that is a good thing. However, there are still major concerns among renewable resource councils, First Nations and environmental groups. The minister has not spelled out what the changes will be, which leaves people totally confused about the minister’s intent.
One of the government’s reasons for the proposed changes is a need for “broader management concerns.” Will the Minister of Environment provide the actual wording of the proposed changes so that the public knows exactly what changes the government has in mind?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: That is exactly what we are doing. Through public consultation, all of this information will be in the public domain. There was a recent meeting in Mayo of the RRCs and the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board — that information was presented, which is the first area that we present that information to — and consultation is ongoing. It will continue to move forward.
There are a number of areas where the Wildlife Act is being looked at for amendments and we are very, very pleased that all the parties in the equation are working on examining this piece of legislation.
Mrs. Peter: If that were the case, why are the Yukon people still confused about what this minister’s intent is? We have here another example of how the rights of First Nation people are being eroded while this government chips away at the right and the letter of the Umbrella Final Agreement.
There is a lot of concern that this anti-environmental government is using these changes to expand game farming in the Yukon. Ownership of wildlife species is not acceptable to a great many people in the Yukon, especially First Nations. Expanding game farming at this point to please a few select people is bitterly ironic, considering the disgraceful way this government handled the reindeer issue over the past couple of years.
Is the minister intending to defy the express wishes of First Nations and the environmental community by changing the law to expand game farming despite well-documented concerns about the potential for the —
Speaker: Thank you. Time is up.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: This side is not changing any law until full consultation has been completed. It’s the side opposite that is confused on this issue. We have an obligation as a government to honour the Umbrella Final Agreement and self-government agreements, and that we will do and continue to do.
Question re: Education reform
Mr. Fairclough: This government has had three years to address the problems faced by First Nations in the education system. They have ignored all studies; they have ignored resolutions, all the protest from First Nations, and they refuse to do anything about the Education Act review.
Three First Nations have openly rejected the present system and are talking about their own schools, and others are ready to do the same. We’ve heard nothing from the Minister of Education but stalling tactics and non-answers, so I’d like to direct my question to the Premier.
What does the Premier plan to do about the chaos in the education system that his Cabinet colleagues have ignored?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I’d like to correct the record by saying that this government is working and will continue to work with all the stakeholders in education, and the whole process of education reform is moving along quite well.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, Mr. Speaker, the Premier needs to take some responsibility here. There is a lot of chaos out there, and the members opposite know that, and we still don’t have any answers from the minister. I’m hoping the Premier maybe can give us some answers.
Now, Mr. Speaker, the self-governing First Nations are tired of waiting for this government to honour its commitments. They’re exercising their legal rights to draw down education, while this government is trying to buy time with something they call the education reform.
Now, the Premier and the minister need to understand that the problems won’t just disappear if they close their eyes. In fact, it will get worse. Will the Premier tell Yukoners clearly, right now, what his government’s position is on the draw down of education?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, the Member for Mayo-Tatchun knows full well what the government’s position is, must be, and will always be. It is enshrined in the agreements. We as one of three parties are obligated, should we be given formal notice for a self-governing First Nation to occupy this area of authority — we as one party of three must sit down and negotiate the transfer of that authority. That is the position of the government; that will always be the position of the government. It is enshrined in the agreements.
Question re: Dawson City financial situation
Mr. Cardiff: Mr. Speaker, we all know that some sort of financial package from the Government of Yukon is needed to restore solvency to the municipality of Dawson and to allow the elected council to function. Make no mistake, Mr. Speaker, that’s what the people of Dawson want.
Now, the Premier stated that he’s looking at five options, but in typical Yukon Party fashion, he won’t say what those options are. Will the Minister of Community Services clear the air and tell us what financial options his government is looking at for the City of Dawson?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Mr. Speaker, Yukon has received the City of Dawson’s 2004 audited statement. There are serious concerns expressed by the auditor, and they have qualified those statements. Mr. Speaker, this government has been working diligently to rectify the situation in Dawson and will continue to do so.
Mr. Cardiff: The minister didn’t answer the question. We just have to look at the delay in holding the by-election in Copperbelt to know how much to trust the Premier’s word. “As soon as possible” seems to mean “whenever I get around to it.”
The government did away with democracy in Dawson over 16 months ago. They promised an election last spring, and they promised an election last fall. Now the Premier is saying that a return to local government may happen during this government’s mandate; we don’t know. It’s clear that the government hasn’t done the work necessary to move this file forward.
Will the minister explain why there have been so many delays in restoring democracy for the citizens of Dawson City?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I think the government’s position has been very clear. This has nothing to do with diminishing the democratic role of the citizens of Dawson. Everything we’ve done is within the confines of the Municipal Act. We have stated that we will ensure that a new mayor and council are elected once the City of Dawson is on sound financial footing, and not until.
There’s good reason for that. The position the City of Dawson finds itself in is the result of a long period of time where past governments did not act within the confines of the Municipal Act as they should have. This problem for Dawson and its insolvency began under the NDP government in the late 1990s and was exacerbated further by the former Liberal government not acting.
The City of Dawson is broke. Millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money has been expended, and we are going to get to the bottom of it. It could include criminal action; it could include civil action; and it must include a sound financial plan to bail the City of Dawson out of its insolvency. That’s going to be from the good graces of the Yukon taxpayer, not from the member opposite’s assertions of what has gone on with the democratic process.
Question re: Government credibility
Mr. Hardy: There was one question that I was going to ask today, but I decided I wouldn’t. It’s a question my colleagues and I hear on a daily basis: when will there be a general election so that people can send a message about how much they actually believe this Premier is saying?
During his community tour, the Premier has been telling people his government has fulfilled 80 percent of its campaign commitments. The facts show the opposite to be the case, Mr. Speaker. The Premier goes on and on about his respectful relationships with First Nations; again, the facts show the opposite to be the case. The Premier wants us to believe his government is behind the Yukon’s economic improvement. A simple look at mineral prices, for example, tells a totally different story. The Premier promised to stimulate the private sector economy; in fact, many people in the Yukon know that much of the stimulus has more to do with project funding from Ottawa and Washington, D.C.
In the final year of his mandate, will the Premier be changing his messages so that Yukon people will not find it so difficult to believe what he says?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Considering what has been accomplished to date in three short years of this mandate, the government has no intention of changing any message or the direction it is leading the territory. Yes, it is true mineral prices have increased, which is a good thing; but it is important to also note that the government has applied complementary policies and programs to ensure that we, the Yukon, can compete and retain benefit from those increased prices.
One of the first things we did was remove a very flawed process the NDP invented — the protected areas strategy — which was impeding investment in this territory in the mining sector. Can the member opposite not look at the budget documents that we have tabled over the course of the last three years? There’s $200 million more new dollars in circulation in this territory, which is living up to the commitment — evidence of us delivering as a government on the commitment to increase stimulus. There is a lot more private sector investment in this territory because we have restored investor confidence in the Yukon.
We have no intention of changing the message. We have no intention of changing our plan and direction. It is proving to be a very positive vision and plan for this territory.
Hon. Mr. Hardy: Well, Mr. Speaker, it’s heart-warming to hear that the Premier believes what he says. I believe he is a minority of one out there.
The Yukon Party campaign document promised all sorts of wonderful things but the hundreds and hundreds of Yukoners I meet during the year are hard-pressed to name one single piece of significant legislation from this government in three years.
The Premier started his term of office raising all sorts of alarms about the big bad spending trajectory. Well, guess what, Mr. Speaker? What the Premier has done ever since is spend, and spend, and spend and spend. Is it any wonder that Yukoners are having trouble believing what this Premier says?
The Premier promised a government based on consensus building, consultation, collaboration and compromise. Once again, the facts speak for themselves. How does the Premier plan to address a credibility deficit that he has created in the first three-quarters of his term in office?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: It is at times very difficult to try to respond to the leader of the official opposition’s questions because the assertions being made are totally removed from the realities of today’s Yukon.
We are not spending money; we are investing money. This government has increased capital investment across the territory to do what we said we would do: increase the stimulus. But this government also said it would be very strong on the social side of the ledger. The list is long of where we’ve increased our investments for social programming, for health care, for education — for all facets of our social fabric to make the lives of Yukoners better.
Do you know what the member opposite should do? Instead of asking the questions he just did in the House, he should go ask Yukoners: is your life better today, over the last three years of this government’s watch, than it was when we came into office? The answer will be obvious. The evidence speaks for itself.
Mr. Hardy: Mr. Speaker, I agree with the Premier. That’s all he has been doing — watching while other factors have been stimulating the economy.
Now, the Premier can believe what he wants, Mr. Speaker, but we don’t believe him and the Yukon people don’t believe him. They don’t believe him because it’s all words and no actions. Do we see any solution to the doctor shortage? Absolutely nothing, Mr. Speaker. Have we seen the Workers’ Compensation Act amendments? No. A new correctional facility? No. Amendments to the Elections Act? No. Has the minister’s loan travesty been resolved? We just heard a debate about it once again in this Legislative Assembly. No. Have the people of Dawson got their democratic rights back yet, although it has been promised? No.
Has there been any concrete action from this government on the drug problem that is affecting every single community? Absolutely nothing, other than another report, just a plan to plan a plan — all talk, no walk, Mr. Speaker.
Maybe I should ask that question I mentioned at the beginning. Since the Premier is clearly not providing the kind of leadership Yukon people expect and want, will he tell us now when there will be a general election so that voters can send a message about how much they actually believe this Premier?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure where the member opposite gets his information or how he engages with the Yukon public, but this government sees, as we should, a totally different picture of this territory.
We see an increasing population. We see economic growth. We see strengthening of the social fabric. We see an optimistic Yukon public. We see a better and brighter future for this territory.
The member opposite is mired in negativity. The member opposite sees a place of madness and misery. The member opposite sees that picture because the member opposite is not engaged with the Yukon public. Maybe the answer for the member opposite is the Yukon public might not want another general election in case the worst case scenario happens: an election of an NDP government, which would lead this territory backwards.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. Monday.
The House adjourned at 2:30 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled October 27, 2005:
Resignation notice (dated September 9, 2005) as MLA from Haakon Arntzen, Member for Copperbelt (Speaker Staffen)
Warrant dated September 9, 2005, regarding vacancy in Copperbelt due to resignation of Haakon Arntzen issued by Speaker Staffen (Speaker Staffen)
Vacancy in Electoral District of Copperbelt: copy of letter dated September 9, 2005 from the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly to Commissioner Cable (Speaker Staffen)
Report from the Clerk of the Yukon Legislative Assembly on the Absence of Members from Sittings of the Legislative Assembly and its Committees (Speaker Staffen)
Conflict of Interest Commission Annual Report for the period ending March 31, 2005 (Speaker Staffen)
The following documents were filed October 27, 2005:
Whistle-blower Protection Legislation Select Committee: letter dated March 16, 2005, to the Hon. John Edzerza, Acting Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission from Todd Hardy, Leader of the Official Opposition (Hardy)
House adjournment procedure: letter dated October 18, 2005, to the Hon. Peter Jenkins, Government House Leader, from Gary McRobb, Official Opposition House Leader (McRobb)
Alaska Highway Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition: letter dated June 9, 2005 to the Hon. Dennis Fentie, Premier, from Chief Mike Smith, Interim Chair, Alaska Highway Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition (McRobb)
Funding for Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition: letter dated October 4, 2005 to the Hon. Dennis Fentie, Premier, from Chief Mike Smith, Acting Chair, Alaska Highway Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition (McRobb)