Thursday, November 12, 1987
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
Introduction of Visitors?
Returns or Documents for Tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have for tabling today the final report on the Joint Commission on Indian Education and TrainingKwiyaand the White Paper on College Governance.
Speaker: Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills?
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 90: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I move that Bill No. 90 entitled An Act to Amend the Elections Act be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 90 entitled An Act to Amend the Elections Act be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 76: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I move that Bill No. 76 entitled An Act to Amend the Legal Profession Act be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 76 entitled An Act to Amend the Legal Profession Act be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion agreed to
NOTICES OF MOTION FOR THE PRODUCTION OF PAPERS
Mrs. Firth: I have three Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers. The first is that the House do issue an order for a return of information that would provide a detailed breakdown of the $900,000 in improvements to be made to the day care system including: costs of increased subsidies and grants and copies of changes in fee schedules.
The second Notice of Motion for the Production of Papers reads that this House do issue an order for a return of information pertaining to a detailed budget breakdown of all day care costs in the Yukon including: the names of recipients of funds under the O&M grant program; the total amount of funding provided to each of these recipients; the amounts of money paid to day care centers by the Government of Yukon for day care services associated with Yukon 2000 activities; and the total money paid out in subsidies.
My final Notice of Motion for the Production of Papers reads that the following information pertaining to the Capital Assistance Programs for day cares be tabled in this House.
a) The names of all recipients of funds under that program, and b) The total amount of funding provided to each of these recipients.
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Phelps: I am going to now file a Notice of Motion regarding the call for a public inquiry into this governments handling of Operation Falcon.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would like to take this opportunity to table in the Legislature a copy of the White Paper on College Governance and Phased Implementation which was released to the public earlier today.
The Paper represents the results of a process that began over a year ago, when the Government, through the Yukon Training Strategy, stated its commitment to a new form of governance for the College. It was anticipated that the new governance model would increase the involvement of the communities in setting the directions of the College to meet the human resource development needs of the Territory. The Yukon Post Secondary Education Advisory Council was asked to take an active part in the process. In November 1986, members of the Council, along with Department of Education representatives, met with two experts on Canada college governance for an initial exploration of governance options.
The YPSEAC was then asked to develop over the course of last winter and early spring its recommendations on the kinds of functions and structure it felt a new form of governance for Yukon College should take.
Very early on in the process, three basic objectives were established consistent with the intent of the Training Strategy. These guided the search for appropriate options. Specifically, the guiding objectives are:
*provide for greater public involvement in decision-making
*be more responsive to the expressed needs and interests of the public
*respond more quickly to identified public needs and interests
With these aims in mind, and with the help of a range of background materials, the YPSEAC developed a proposed governance structure. This proposal was reviewed by groups and individuals with interests in adult education and training at a workshop held May 30th this year.
Following the workshop, a recommendation was put forward by the Council, proposing a form of board governance for Yukon College. This recommendation is summarized in Part 2 of the White Paper on College Governance and Phased Implementation.
Using this recommendation as its foundation, my Department has developed the College Governance proposal presented in the White Paper tabled today.
Under the proposed form of College Governance, the Board will be responsible for:
* preparing proposed program plans and proposed budgets for the College
* controlling the financial management of the College
* overseeing College personnel management and evaluation
* undertaking overall program planning, development and decision-making
* evaluation of programs offered
* advising the Minister on all matters concerning adult education and training
The Minister of Education will retain responsibility for final budget approval and approval of the Colleges annual program plan.
This proposal is similar to the structures of governance found in many other colleges across Canada. However, it has unique characteristics that will meet the special needs of the people of this Territory.
One of the distinct features of the plan will be the establishment of a Program Advisory Council which will advise the Board on programming matters. The Community Campus Committees, formerly providing strictly an advisory service, will have increased input into the operations of their Community Campuses, and will have a strong voice in the Program Advisory Council.
These interactive mechanisms will ensure greater opportunities for effective public involvement in decision making regarding the programming and operations of Yukon College. The proposed Board governance should also assist the College to respond more quickly and effectively to expressed public needs and interests.
Board member nominations will be solicited from public groups with interests in adult education and training. The government will appoint the members from the nominations provided to them.
An interim board will be put in place for three years, to pave the way for the operation of a permanent board.
Yukon College is central to the social and economic development of the Yukon. I welcome your comments on the White Paper, as I do the comments of all interested Yukoners. After receiving public comments, the government will be proceeding with the development of supporting legislation which I have committed to tabling in this House in the spring sitting of 1988.
Mrs. Firth: We thank the Minister for bringing this information forward to us today and tabling the White Paper. I will be reviewing it with great interest and I will, as I have in the past, make any recommendations that I have to make to the Minister in the positive and constructive way that our Opposition likes to make proposals and recommendations to the government.
I would like to stress that I think it is extremely important that the Yukon governance board is specific to Yukons needs and that it not be like everywhere else in Canada, and the Minister has given us some reassurance today that that is the direction they are going to be heading in; that certainly is a priority of ours on this side of the Legislature. We will look forward to reviewing the White Paper and, again, to reviewing the proposed legislation that is to come in the spring of 1988.
Mr. McLachlan: I want to thank the Minister also for the initiatives brought forward last year which have resulted in the release of this paper today, but at the same time I want to assure him that, because of the very key role that Yukon College is playing and will play in the future of the territory, this act, The College Governance Act, will be, as I am sure the Minister expects, subject to a great deal of scrutiny on the part of this party and I am sure the general public. We look forward to the process of the act as brought forward.
Speaker: This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Operation Falcon
Mr. Phelps: I have a couple of follow-up questions with respect to Operation Falcon and the questions and answers that took place here back on November 9. I would like to refer to the answer given by Mr. Kimmerly on page 10 of Hansard to a question from Mr. Phillips, wherein Mr. Kimmerly stated, I do not have specific knowledge of the actions of the government in the context of investigation that was in the Department of Renewable Resources. He goes on in that question about another matter.
Later on in the same afternoon, at the top of page 11, I quote an answer from myself: Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: No, I am saying that the charges were the initiative of the federal government and I am confident the investigation involved information from our government that was a very small part of the total investigation and the decisions about proceeding were not made in this government at all.
How can the Minister of Justice be so confident about the part played by this government in the investigation, when he had already said that he had no specific knowledge of the actions of the government in the context of the investigation?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I am and was confident because that is the normal course of events. It is something that would be understandable and perfectly predictable. I now have more concrete information, and there was an investigation started by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Department of Renewable Resources of this government. There were consultations and meeting that occurred. The investigation started in 1981. The responsible minister was Dan Lang, and meetings occurred.
They culminated in an agreement between the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the territorial game branch. That agreement is dated January 17, 1983, and the consequence of that agreement is that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police took over control and direction of the investigation. The responsible Minister at the time was Howard Tracey.
Mr. Phelps: The Minister could have gone on to say that members of the Department of Renewable Resources were involved in arresting at least one of the defendants. Is that not correct?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I do not have specific knowledge of that, but the raids occurred June 29, 1984, and the charges were laid February 17, 1985.
Mr. Phelps: Going back to Hansard on page 11 on Tuesday, the Justice Minister stated that the rationale for reimbursement of an official in Renewable ResourcesMr. Mossopwas that he was charged for actions that were actions within the scope and particular duties of his employment and was put to substantial expense. That principle brings in this particular government.
Does not the same rationale apply to at least two of the other defendantsMr. Nowlan and his wifesince they were raising falcons pursuant to an contract with this particular government?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: If compensation is to be paid, it should be paid by the partythe governmentthat started and proceeded with the investigation. That is the federal government. However, there is a responsibility on behalf of an employer to look after costs of employment on behalf of the employees.
Mr. Nowlan was never an employee of this government; Mr. Mossop was.
Question re: Operation Falcon
Mr. Phelps: It is my opinion that the answer just received is extremely thin. The Nowlans suffered greatly and primarily because of subsequent actions undertaken by this government that related to their reluctance and refusal to let the Nowlans carry on the business of selling falcons that were raised in captivity.
I would like to address this question to the Minister of Renewable Resources. Why did his department stand in the way of Mr. Nowlan carrying on the business of selling falcons that his department knew were bornhatchedand raised in captivity?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Mr. Nolan was applying for permits that are federal permits. The necessity to apply is because, ultimately, of the International CITES Agreement and federal law and regulations. In the course of those applications, this government was involved. The position that we took throughout was that the charges that were in existence since February 17, 1985 were not relevant to licenses and the license applications except insofar as the licenses may have affected birds in question, or identified in the specific charges. That separated charges and the application for licenses.
Mr. Phelps: This is going to be a fun session because there is a lot of documentation pertaining to the issues of which we speak. Really, what happened, as the Minister, who apparently has taken over Renewable Resources as well as his other numerous, interesting duties, must know, Mr. Nolan, at one point in the fall of 1985, had a sale for falcons raised in captivity to a person resident in Canada. That was blocked by the Department of Renewable Resources. Is the Minister of Renewable Resources aware of that?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The obvious intent is to try to identify some political responsibility on our government for the prosecutions and subsequent actions of the federal government. The fact of the matter is that we were involved as a government in the investigation phase. All of that occurred while the Ministers were Dan Lang and Howard Tracey.
Speaker: On a point of privilege.
Mr. Lang: Is the inference of the Minister of Justice that I, as a Minister of the Crown, directed such an investigation?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: That is not a question of privilege but a question that I would expect the Minister should ask during the Question Period, and not as a question of privilege.
Speaker: On the question of privileges there is no point of privilege.
Question Re: Operation Falcon
Mr. Phelps: My attempt to get the responsible Minister to answer the question has been frustrated, but we will carry on. The Minister seems to have forgotten the other Minister who has taken this on that the Minister in charge of Renewal Resources during the entire period of time that Mr. Nowlan was trying to sell the birds that were hatched in captivity was no other than the hon. David Porter. I feel that there is a suspicion, at least, that the attitude taken and the action taken by officials in that department were directed at ensuring that Mr. Nowlan would go broke and not be able to maintain a fair defence. For the record, I will gladly table a letter from myself to the hon. David Porter dated November 22, 1985 which I never did receive the courtesy of a reply to.
My question is: why did this government stand in the way of those defendants carrying on business? Was it to undermine any chance they had of a fair trial?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The Leader of the Official Opposition is directly making an accusation about officials of this government and their motives. I am quick to defend those officials. I know that those officials were acting on the basis of legal advice and, in fact, some permits were issued and the attack on those officials is irresponsible, almost as irresponsible as the original charges.
Mr. Phelps: I think the Minister ought to give his head a shake because there are innocent people who suffered, and suffered greatly. The questions I am asking are prompted by a concern that is shared by a good many Yukoners about the plight of an individual when the state when big brother abuses power and can take steps that will ultimately lead to the bankruptcy of the individual.
I have correspondence here, and more coming. The negotiations, so called, that the Minister refers to, dragged on from the fall of 1985. I have letters here from November 1986. I have notes in my file of Mr. Nowlan coming to me in January of 1987 of this year. Throughout that entire period he and his wife were unable to sell falcons and they were virtually bankrupt during the last year of this travesty of justice. Does the Minister not accept that this government acted in an unreasonable fashion towards Mr. Nowlan?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: There were various applications for permits, as the Leader of the Opposition well knows. The position that this government took is, and was, that Mr. Nowlan would be treated as would any other citizen be treated, unless the application affected directly the evidence or identified a potential evidence in the trial which we knew about because charges were laid. That was the position of the government; that is the only responsible position to take, and we took it.
Mr. Phelps: Was the Minister in charge of advocating Big Brother the Minister of Justice tell us whether or not he can understand what the plight was of Mr. Nowlan, and whether he can understand that Mr. Nowlan was prevented from selling any falcons which were raised in captivity, which were hatched in captivity, which officers from the Department of Renewable Resources came over to watch being hatched, day and night, on weekends, and which the Department of Renewable Resources was primarily responsible for, being sold?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: It is untrue to say that the Department of Renewable Resources was responsible for preventing those sales. It is certainly true that the charges affected Mr. Nowlans business and the business of falconers around the world, but we took the position throughout that a person is innocent until proven guilty. We treated Mr. Nowlan as an innocent person throughout.
Question re: Residential vacancy rate
Mr. McLachlan: I have a question I would like to address to the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. The governments own statistics, from the Executive Council Office, have shown that the vacancy rate is decreasing sharply in Whitehorse over the past two years, from 5.9% to 0.3%. I want to ask the Minister: is that sharply decreasing vacancy rate of any concern to this government or to this Minister?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The answer in short is: yes, it is of great concern to the government. That is the reason why we have developed the housing program that we have, and the latest instalment will be made public on Monday night through the capital budget. There are a number of things that have to be taken into consideration. Land development is one. Housing is another. The ability of the private sector to build housing is another. All those things are being addressed by the government and I would hope that, through our actions and through the actions of the private sector, the housing problem that the member mentions will be alleviated as soon as possible.
Mr. McLachlan: I am sure we have no differences on the facts of the situation. The differences come in remedying it. I would like to point out to the Minister that the problems originate in the level of funding that is able to be provided by a national mortgage corporation and what individual developers can put up.
Has this government, or this Minister, been able to find any way of providing some funding to help a developers provide the gap between that provided by CMHC and the developersown funds? That is where the problem is. Has the Minister addressed that problem?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: If the Member is referring specifically to support for a developer who may want to construct a multi-family residential unit like an apartment building, the answer to that is that the Yukon Housing Corporation is not yet in a position where it can provide such support. Certain home ownership options and support for the private sector are currently being discussed and debated internally, and I would hope that we would have something to be made public in the not too distant future.
I must say that a number of things have been undertaken in the Whitehorse area. The senior citizens building is being put up just two blocks from this building. It is going to create 30 new additional units in the City of Whitehorse. When seniors move into this housing complex from their own homes, it is going to free up some units within the city.
It is not as much as we would like to see happen, but it is a first step. The Member also mentions the fact of the difficulty of getting mortgage insurance. That difficulty is not as great in Whitehorse as it is in many of the rural areas but, nevertheless, it is something we are still reviewing and hope that we can respond to in the not too distant future.
Mr. McLachlan: As the Minister is no doubt aware, there has only been one large apartment building built in the city of Whitehorse in the last five years a small 10 or 12 unit one completed in early 1987. That is one of the prices a government must pay when the economy is on the up-turn.
Is it in the Ministers long-term plans to correct any of the vacancy rate problems in Whitehorse solely through the use of social housing programs? Is that the only answer the Minister is providing: that it will be social housing that will alleviate this problem in Whitehorse?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Absolutely not. We have had these discussions in the Legislature before, and I have already indicated to the Member that the government is actively interested in pursuing home ownership options for the private sector, for individuals wishing to build their own homes. Unfortunately, as the Member is obviously aware, there is very little private sector activity, especially in the construction of apartment buildings. We are trying to determine what best options there are to alleviate the problems to the private sector. The Member must know that the experience of the government and Yukon Housing Corporation is essentially a clean slate. There is nothing from which to build or develop a program because there is no such program in the Yukon. We are trying to develop from scratch programs such as will meet the problem the Member mentions. As I said, I hope we can do that fairly soon.
Question re: Judges suit
Mr. Phillips: I have a question for the Minister of Justice regarding the so-called deal that this government has struck with the former Judge Rowe. As most Yukoners know, this involves a pay-off of some $20,000 plus legal fees.
Did the Justice Minister have any discussions with, or did he send any correspondence to, the Yukons Chief Territorial Court Judge regarding the dismissal of Judge Rowe prior to the decision being made?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: No.
Mr. Phillips: Could the Minister tell this House if he has had any involvement in this case whatsoever at any time and, if so, what was the involvement?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes, I have had a substantial involvement and it would be an abuse of Question Period to go through it in detail. However, after the law suit was filed, I took a personal interest and I personally instructed the governments lawyers. I have been involved at perhaps every stage.
Mr. Phillips: My final supplementary is to the Government Leader. Will the Government Leader admit the payment of $20,000 and legal fees to Judge Rowe is a clear admission by this government that the Justice Minister has screwed up again. How many more times will this have to happen before the Government Leader accepts his responsibility and deals with his renegade Minister?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The answer is: no.
While I am on my feet I wonder if I could advise the House of some news that has just come from across the border that I am sure all Members will be interested in. It is the selection of the Executive Council of the Northwest Territories. As Members I am sure know, Dennis Patterson has been named as Government Leader there. The Executive Council Members are: Titus Alaloo, Gordon Ray, Nick Sibbeston, Nellie Cournoyea, Jennie-Marie Joe and Michael Ballentine. Red Pederson has been named Speaker. I am sure all Members, notwithstanding one or two objections opposite would want to send good wishes to our opposite numbers over the mountains.
Question re: Judges suit
Mr. Lang: I was going to rise on a point of order because if that is not an abuse of the rules, I do not know what is. He was announcing information that had been released earlier this morning and information that we had been privy to prior to coming into this House. That is a good way to use Question Period and defend the actions of the Justice Minister.
I hope you are lenient, Mr. Speaker, and will give us a couple more minutes of Question Period in view of the abuse that we have just witnessed.
I have a question for the Minister of Justice. On the deal that was struck to pay off one judge in order not to sue another judge, the Minister is quoted as saying that it would have been a very messy affair. Could the good Minister elaborate to the general public what he meant by messy affair?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: It would have involved allegations of various kinds and different recollections of the facts by different judges at different times. In that sense it would have been messy. What is more important is that legal advice was obtained by, I am aware, the Chief Judge of the Territorial Court and by the government, that this law suit was best settled and the government followed the legal advice that it obtained.
Mr. Lang: The Minister of Justice has referred to certain allegations and recollections. At any time was the Ministers of Justice actions going to be brought into question with respect to allegations for a court case?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: No, not that I am aware of. It did not involve me.
Mr. Lang: How did the Minister in his good judgment come to the conclusion that $20,000 be paid for this suit?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: It was for two reasons. The cost to the government if this law suit proceeded would probably have been in excess of that figure. The figure was a negotiated amount between lawyers, and it was within a mandate constructed by the government as a figure based on the best legal advice that is available in Canada. It was an appropriate to settle this law suit.
Question re: Judges suit
Mr. Lang: Was it a Cabinet decision to pay this $20,000 so one judge would not sue another judge
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: No, it was not. It was a decision that I made. I gave the government lawyer a mandate in which to settle the action. The figures were negotiated among the lawyers, and the figure negotiated was within the mandate that I gave.
Mr. Lang: There is no question now. We have the guy writing cheques without the approval of Management Board or Cabinet. Why do we need a government when we have someone so capable?
Who made the decision to fire the judge, the Chief Judge or the Minister of Justice?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: There was a preamble and a question unrelated to the preamble. In answer to the implied question in the preamble, the authority is within the budget. There is a figure for the payment of deputy judges.
In answer to the specific question, the decision was made by the Chief Judge, but it was not a decision to fire a judge, it was a decision to not call for the services of a deputy judge.
Mr. Lang: Could I ask a question - just from a laymans point of view, a poor truck drivers point of view: why are we paying him $20,000, then?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The deputy judge started a law suit on the basis of an implied contract for services. That contract was allegedly made between Judge Rowe and Chief Judge Bladon. On the basis of the soundest legal advice obtainable, we decided that the defence of the law suit would not be successful.
Mr. Lang: Why did we pay $20,000 if, in your judgement, the law suit would not have been successful?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The Member was not listening. I said the defence of the law suit would not have successful. The advice that we obtained is that the cheapest way out of the mess was the way we chose.
Question re: Day home surveillance
Mrs. Firth: My question is for the Minister of Health and Human Resources and it is with regard to the government surveillance of family day homes. Would the Minister tell the House when she initiated the surveillance of the family day home of the woman who was charged with operating an illegal daycare centre in July?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I did not give any authorization to do the surveillance on that home.
Mrs. Firth: If the Minister did not authorize it, who did? I would like to know what the process was that was used and how the parents were contacted to be witnesses.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: That court case, as has already been stated, has not been dropped; it is still before the courts.
Mrs. Firth: We know that; we do not care about that; I am asking about the Ministers actions. The Minister is responsible for this department. She tells us now that she did not initiate this. I would like to know who did, and what the process of surveillance was. I think the public has a right to know that.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: That case is still before the courts and if she would like other information on it I would be happy to give it to her, but it is still before the courts.
Question re: Day home surveillence
Mrs. Firth: With respect to the surveillance of family day homes: were there other family day homes under surveillance at the time that this persons home was under surveillance, and how many were?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The information I have is that there was only one. There were others that were brought to the attention of this department by the city but, as I understand it, that was the only one.
Mrs. Firth: I go back to my other question then. I would like to know who initiated the surveillance. I think the public would like to know who initiated the surveillance, if the Minister said she did not. Who has that kind of authority within the Ministers department?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I would think that that would be on the authority of the Daycare Services Board, but if I am mistaken I will bring back the information.
Mrs. Firth: Is the Minister telling this House that she knew nothing about it, she does not know who initiated it, she is guessing that it might be the board, and that this is a portfolio that is within her jurisdiction and responsibility? A woman was put through all this turmoil, and she does not even know where it started, whether other homes were under surveillance and who did it?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I was aware of the investigation. I was aware of the things that were taking place during that period of time. The thing that I cannot do is talk about the investigation or the court case.
Question re: Fourth Avenue Residence
Mr. McLachlan: Can the Minister of Community Services advise if this government approached CMHC regarding the sale of the Fourth Avenue Residence, or did CMHC approach the government, asking them to take it off their hands?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: A representative of CMHC had a meeting with me in December of 1985, requesting that the government have a look at purchasing the Fourth Avenue Residence. Subsequently, the government reviewed the structure and CMHC was informed that the government and Yukon Housing Corporation were not interested.
Mr. McLachlan: Can the Minister advise why the analysis showed that that type of building that is used by a number of people who are in a position now who cannot pay the going rate for accommodation in Whitehorse would not be of any use to this government for its social housing programs?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: At the time that the request was made of the Yukon Housing Corporation, there was no policy in existence that would have permitted the government to operate such a rooming house of a kind for people with low incomes. In recent days, CMHC has put the Fourth Avenue Residence on the auction block in public. The corporation has not indicated one way or the other what it plans to do in the long term.
If there is some question as to the fate of the people who are residing in it or the people who may reside in it because they have low incomes, then the government and the Yukon Housing Corporation would have a look to determine whether or not it would be prudent and advisable to become involved. At this time, it was the result of our analysis given the structure of the building and the character of the operation that the government in 1985, 1986 and up until the present, was not interested.
Mr. McLachlan: Also at the time frame the Minister refers to since the fall of 1985, the vacancy rate was some 5.7 percent and it is significantly different now. I ask the question because as the Member for Kluane enumerated on Tuesday, the Yukon Housing Corporation has a very bad habit of turning down a perfectly sound structure to build one more expensively so nobody can afford it. Could the Minister advise the House if, in view of the situation now regarding vacancy rates and facing the possibility that the operation might be sold for a commercial purpose thus putting the constituents of the Minister of Justice possibly sleeping in the street if the Corporation or the Minister would be prepared to look at that question again and see if that building would be of any use or would fit in with the Corporations overall plans for social housing in this city.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member said a heck of a lot that I would like to respond to. With respect to what the Member for Kluane mentioned on Tuesday, I will respond to it at some length in my response to the Speech from the Throne. With respect to the question at hand I have already asked the Chairman of the Housing Corporation to review the situation once again, given the vacancy rate in Whitehorse being what it is. It is very, very low. I have also asked him to have the board have another look at this operation. The position I stated to CMHC was the governments position formally and publicly, that up until now we have not been interested in purchasing that facility.
Speaker: Time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will now proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. Porter: For the information of the House I would now give notice that it is the wish of the government to introduce an appropriation bill dealing with Estimates for the 1988/89 Capital Budget at 7:30 p.m. Monday November 16. The government will at that time be requesting unanimous consent of all Members of this House to revert to daily routine for the purpose of so introducing the said bill.
I would also like to further advise the House that the government will be prepared to proceed to second reading of any or all bills on Monday and that following second readings it is our intention to debate Motion No. 7 standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Penikett.
Speaker: Address in reply to the Speech from the Throne.
Clerk: Adjourned debate: Mr. Phillips.
ADDRESS IN REPLY TO SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Mr. Phillips: When I left off on Tuesday, I spoke briefly on general concerns of Yukoners. I would now like to focus more specifically on my riding of Riverdale North. This past spring and summer I made visits to almost every house in my riding. During these visits I learned a great deal about the concerns of the constituents of Riverdale North. For the information of the Minister of Health and Human Resources, day care was the number one issue. People in my riding were telling me they wanted action, not just words. They felt that enough has been said and that we had the problems identified, and not one single resident asked me for more studies.
Another concern of residents in Riverdale North was the spending spree that the government was on, and who will be around to pick up the pieces when it is over. Some of the most common questions were: How are we, 25,000 Yukoners, ever going to be able to afford to keep the doors open and the heat on in all of these new facilities? Are we going to see increased taxes? One of the more common questions is: Are we going to see a sales tax in the near future? Those are tough questions to answer. When I look at the direction in which this government is going, the answer becomes more and more obvious.
I listened closely to the Member for Klondike when he talked about his list of goodies that he has received for his riding. That was an awfully long list. I see some concerns arising in Riverdale North. Although Riverdale North is fairly well developed, it is not complete, and it should not be neglected. Many of the old streets in my riding are cracked and full of potholes. A lot have no curbs and sidewalks and are in need of repair. I would like to encourage this government to seriously consider advance funding to the City of Whitehorse to improve on these areas.
Many of the Members may not be aware but in the past few years, Wickstrom Road in my riding has grown immensely. From a two or three homes on this one stretch a few years ago, there are now ten or twelve. I would like the Yukon Government to consider I understand this is under their jurisdiction and the road is under their control extending the pavement that now stops at the bottom of the hill just past the hospital, to two or three blocks past the residences of Wickstrom Road. We are not talking about a great deal of distance, we are talking about less than a kilometer.
Residents of Wickstrom have approached me about obtaining better television service. I am very pleased to say that after several discussions with WHTV, that better service is imminent. I am hoping that we will see action taken on this by WHTV in the spring and summer of 1988.
I have also taken the opportunity to write several letters on the condition of the hospital road. This has been a very frustrating experience. It seems that we have a road that no one wants the responsibility for. First, I wrote to the City, and they passed me onto the federal Department of Public Works saying that it was not their land. I received a letter from the federal Department of Public Works, and they passed me on to the federal Department of Health and Welfare, saying that it was not their land. I then received a letter from the federal Department of Health and Welfare saying that it was the Citys responsibility.
I am not going to give up. My next letter is going to all of them with copies of their buck passing. I am going to address it To Whom It May Concern. I am hoping that this time someone will take the responsibility for this short piece of road that is very important when you are rushing someone with a very serious medical problem to our hospital.
I would also like to make some suggestions to solve another concern in my riding. There is a large new grocery store being built in Riverdale on Lewes Blvd.
My concern is the increased traffic that will occur as a result of that store and the safety of our school children in that area. There are several schools that are on the opposite side of Lewes Blvd., and the children have to cross this road to get to those schools. Currently, we have a set of street lights there that I think, with the increased traffic from Riverdale and the road to Riverdale is, in some cases, inadequate. I would think that, with the new store that is on the corner there, there will be more traffic that will move into this area. There could be some danger to children as they go to and from school and school activities.
I will be making a suggestion to the Education Minister here today, and follow it up to the City of Whitehorse in the near future. Because of the increase in traffic and the increase in students to these schools, we should be looking at building or assisting the City of Whitehorse in building an overhead walkway or causeway. We should not wait until we have a traffic accident to look into this possibility.
I am prepared, as I know my colleague from Riverdale South is, to sit down and discuss these issues of concern with the Yukon territorial government and city officials.
I will also be following with great interest the implementation of the woodsmoke bylaws in the coming months.
I would like to conclude on a positive note and thank the Yukon government for its contribution to the city with respect to the upgrading of Alsek Road, and I would, at the same time, like to thank the Minister of Education on the completion of the Grey Mountain Primary activity room the best little school in the land, as the song goes.
As you can see, my shopping list of goodies is not near as long as the Member for Klondike, but I feel that they are just as important.
Mr. McLachlan: It is a pleasure to respond to the governments third Throne Speech. I would like to use this opportunity not only for responses specific to the Throne Speech, but also to place some constructive criticism before the government on its overall approach to governing the territory.
I would like to comment on what my party considers to be the two most pressing social issues facing the Yukon at this time: the housing issue and daycare.
First, let me begin by putting how the Throne Speech differs a great deal from its predecessors in that there are only three objectives given by the government in its speech job creation, equality and democracy. In past speeches, the government has given no fewer than five: job creation, economic diversification with local control, open and accountable government, equality of opportunity and improving the quality of life.
My party would like to know what happened to the open and accountable government. Did it fall through the cracks? Slip by? Get put on the back burner? We sincerely hope that this absence of an earlier priority was just an oversight, not a conscious decision. It seems strange coming from this Government Leader who, when in Opposition, insisted upon an Access to Information Act.
The Yukon is experiencing a period of economic disparity. The government spent a great deal of its Throne Speech telling Yukoners how good times were. The Throne Speech is filled with cream puff statements like this, and I quote, Our economic recovery seems more assured with every passing season. Our economy is continuing to prosper, and the Yukons growth rate led Canada last year, is forecast to lead it again this year, and it could do so next year, too. Optimism seems to ooze from the Throne Speech. However, we are beginning to see signs of storm clouds on the horizon. Even the Government Leader did so himself. In his speech delivered to the Premiers Conference in St. John on August 26 to 29, the Government Leader had the following note to say about the Yukons economy: The territorial gross domestic product is now estimated to have been 78 percent in 1985, 20 to 30 percent in 1986, it will probably be that again in 1987, but will drop to six to eight percent in 1988.
I repeat, we expect our gross domestic product to fall six to eight per cent next year, a decline falling of almost 20 percent. All this was the governments estimate before the incredible stock market crash on Black Monday. It is very likely the governments figures of six to eight percent have been reassessed as probably over-optimistic since Black Monday. But most importantly, the government chose to keep such sober statistics out of the Throne Speech. The Government Leader feels comfortable telling outsiders of our expected growth rate but chooses to leave it out of his Throne Speech to Yukoners. Instead, he gave us vague, unrealistically optimistic economic rhetoric. Again, my party is beginning to be concerned about the governments commitment to open, accountable government. It is not always there when it suits their side.
We must recognize that the economic good times the Yukon is experiencing will eventually come to an end. Judging by government statistics and what is happening with stock markets, we all expect an economic downturn soon, rather than later. Perhaps as soon as a year or so. The government has spoken often of economic diversification, economic planning for our future, and local control of the economy. I say to the government that the time is very quickly approaching when its achievements will be tested. The time is coming when all Yukoners will see whether this government has diversified the economy, whether we have more or less local control over our economic life, and whether the plan which this government is developing is really worth anything. The governments day of judgment will come and that day will tell us whether they have achieved what they set out to achieve, or whether they have squandered away opportunity and a lot of money on studies and endless consultation.
It seems to my party more and more each day the government is often doing little more than overseeing an orgy of consultants studies and public forums which produce nothing more than vague generalities of academic type questions. The government is a consultants wildest dream come true. Although I joke about it, I view this tendency of hiring well-educated consultants to study our life and society as a very serious trend. I worry that the Yukon, the wild and free Yukon which so many people have come to love and respect, will slowly become dominated and governed by an intellectual elite just as it was dominated and governed by an economic elite in the days gone by.
I would like to turn now to the subject of the Yukon governments 2000 Project. When it comes to Yukon 2000, all we have heard so far is talk on a very large and general abstract level and a great deal of that. We are not coming to this House to accuse my party of being totally against consultation and discussion. I can simply state so far, at this point, we hope this exercise will indeed be a fruitful one for Yukoners and not turn out to be an expensive academic exercise.
One issue I view with increasing alarm is the overall cost of the project. The Government Leader has been quoted on a number of occasions as stating the project will cost no more than $250,000. In light of the costs of three major Yukon 2000 meetings, community meetings; in light of the amount of money that has and is being spent hiring consultants to write reports, and in light of the number of government employees who spend part or all of their time working on Yukon 2000 at the publics expense in light of all this, I find it very hard to believe the project will only cost a quarter of a million dollars.
The Government Leader should expect a lot of questioning on the important matter of rising costs during this sitting of the House.
The territory is presently facing the worst housing shortage it has ever experienced. When this government took office in the spring of 1985 it was 5.9 percent. Today it is 0.3 percent. It is deplorable, it is getting worse, and this Minister does not appear to be able to take control of the situation or do anything about it. Very seldom does he even acknowledge that a crisis exists.
The government is reacting to what they see is the housing problem, namely substandard housing in rural Yukon. Our party feels that the government is basing their actions on a questionable study and overreacting to a problem while failing to see the Yukons real housing crisis. The study I refer to is the Federal/Territorial Report finding Yukoners are among the most poorly housed people in Canada. It is the same study which the government referred to in its Throne Speech. I would like to point out to government that one persons substandard housing is sometimes anothers castle. This study defined substandard housing in such general and all encompassing way that far too many Yukon homes were defined as substandard. Many Yukoners do choose to live with no phone, no outhouse and no running water. Do not take the party wrong and suppose we do not recognize that a problem with substandard housing exists, it does, but what we are saying is that this government has blown out of proportion and is overreacting to the situation. The crisis is clear for all to see, we have .3 of l percent.
The statistic is nothing less than alarming. The total number of rental housing units available in Whitehorse is falling. This was combined with the fact that the population grew substantially over the same period. Sales of houses in Whitehorse continued to follow the pattern that was established in early 1986. The number of houses being sold dropped slightly during the first quarter of this year.
The territory does not need millions of millions of dollars in social housing in rural communities. The territory needs apartments and houses here in Whitehorse. The government will not solve the territorys housing crisis by spending tens of millions in social housing. It will solve it by bringing in the necessary policies to facilitate the building of more multiple unit apartment buildings and houses. The first step this government must take is to recognize where the real housing crisis lies. Only then can the government act.
I want to turn to the issue of day care which is very topical now, especially since the Minister has enumerated an initiative two days ago in this Legislature . The Minister is still acting in a nondescript, nondefinitive manner in trying to deal with the problem. Basically the regulations were implemented for a purpose. A cost factor is associated with those regulations. Regulations have driven up the cost of day care to everyone. Once having instituted those regulations and the reasons behind them the Minister is now retreating from that situation and is about to do another study based upon moves that she thought were right in 1986.
We are being told that the Minister of Health and Human Resources is going to bring forward a green paper in January. Extensive consultations will then occur. The crisis is now, today not a year from now. When it comes to daycare, all we are getting from the government is inaction and a promise to talk. This Minister is afraid to make the hard decisions. All the relevant interest groups concerned have presented their positions to the Minister. She has the relevant information she needs to make a decision and to act on it. Stalling a year or more until after or just before general election is a cop-out.
The Minister is using a panacea of public consultation to hide her unwillingness or inability to make a tough decision and stick by it. The Minister is hiding behind the consultation process while doing so. The time for more studies and more talk is gone. The Yukon has a crisis in daycare. That crisis must be dealt with now.
The Minister for Community and Transportation Services has said that he is about to undertake a thorough study on financial barriers to home ownership in the territory. I think the Minister would be further ahead to convene a meeting of rural Members. They can tell him the ideas on home ownership in the territory far better than a $500 a day consultant.
The Minister of Justice is going to rewrite legislation so that it is more understandable. On balance of first observation, the motive appears to be commendable but I wonder about it since lawyers have argued about the applicability and the meaning of legislation. I am glad to see the start on it so that maybe in my riding we can now get a correct definition of homeowner.
Faro still remains the only municipality in the territory where people cannot get title to their land. The Minister of Justice in his usual obfuscation of the facts that it is a legal problem. We can bet it is. We recognize that but I am saying to fix it. Do not hide behind existing legislation and say that nothing can be done. It is a legal problem because the Minister of Justice, Economic Development and the Community and Transportation Services failed to address the problem of housing sales when the original Curragh agreement was drawn up. It may be more negligence than a legal problem.
It is also hypocritical because the Government Leader expounded a great deal the idea of private housing sales when the Curragh agreement in October, 1985. Private housing sales are not happening in Faro. They are not happening because of negligence and shortsightedness of this government.
My party has concerns about the general approach of this government. They seem to want to study, talk and spend the money now while times are good. Time will only tell whether or not the studies and talk will eventually produce something of that or if it will be shelved as the times change and our economic picture becomes less rosy. Furthermore, my party believes that the Yukons housing and daycare crisis must be acted upon now. The time for studies and talk are gone. These are the issues that affect the people today, and these are the ones to be acted upon today.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I often hate to start first in the debate. You are often tempted to be very kind and generous with Opposition comments that are two days old.
In my brief remarks this afternoon, the parting shots from the Member for Riverdale North and very definitely the remarks from the Member for Faro have started to gear me up a little bit. Allow me just to put a little bit of passion into my speech.
I will not be hard on the Member for Riverdale North, because I realize how hard it is for a Member from Whitehorse to actually tell his constituents what is a city responsibility and what is a territorial responsibility. It is oftentimes hard to distinguish between the two. However, the suggestion that the Government of Yukon actually come in and perform City of Whitehorse work at territorial expense, beyond block funding, is something that is wrong-headed. I would be more inclined, if the Member for Porter Creek East had said it, to delve more deeply into the subject matter. As it stands, let me just elaborate for a brief moment on what block funding is all about.
Block funding is meant to allow local decision-making to take place. If it is the citys responsibility to perform municipal works, it is their decision-making that determines their priorities. I would hope that the Member for Riverdale North would remind his constituents of that particular fact.
The Member also mentioned the question of Wickstrom Road extension, and suggested that perhaps the government should extend pavement past the residences on Wickstrom Road by three blocks. For a constituency such as mine that has no pavement and only a very limited amount of chipseal, the idea of putting pavement on roads past residences for three blocks comes as somewhat of an anathema to me. There are no people living on the road. The Member for Porter Creek East says that because it is the governments road, that we should be paving it. There are priorities that have to be taken into account. If you are simply to pave roads around Whitehorse for the fun of it, that would be a gross and irresponsible wastage of public funds.
I would hope that, in talking to his constituents, the Member for Riverdale North will take into account that paving roads where there are no residences is something that the government would keep as a low priority.
The Member for Riverdale North suggests that he has just got another 20 votes, because he feels there are another 20 people in Riverdale North who feel that paving roads when there are no peoplehe said he wanted to pave the road past the residences for another three blocksis something that I think the people in Riverdale North would begin to question.
He did mention that the government should take some credit, the people of Whitehorse generally should take some credit, the people of Riverdale North and South should take some credit, for the Grey Mountain Primary room. It is a pleasure for the Department of Education, who has supported that particular school, to recognize the considerable school spirit that exists in that school.
I have really enjoyed the Member for Faros remarks. I enjoyed them largely because I felt that the remarks were not only challenging, but worth challenging. The Member started off his remarks by suggesting that the government had dropped its commitment to open and accountable government, had dropped its commitment to consultation. Where was it? They only mentioned three goals, then proceeded to criticize the government for the extent of consultations that the government has undertaken to this point.
I think that the Members inconsistency in this matter speaks for itself. You simply cannot operate open and accountable governments without speaking to the population and having the population speak to you. That is a lesson that the Conservative government failed to recognize, and it is a mistake that the Member for Faro is quickly slipping into accepting.
The Member also criticized the Throne Speech for having some general remarks, such as that the economy is continuing to prosper, and suggested that optimism was oozing from the governments statement. Presumably it was based on the fact that we have experienced 20 percent growth in the last couple of years. The Member goes on to mimic the statements made by some of the Conservative Members, that the storm cloud is coming, things are going to get tough, the feds are going to cut back, they are going to renege on their commitment to support the north.
If the Member has not done so, he should go back to the Throne Speeches of the period 1982 to 1985. I remember one Throne Speech where the only comment at all about the economy of an uplifting nature was that United Keno Hill Mines was continuing operating. Was that not a great thing?
It was a great thing. It was the only thing. It was not even the result of government action that the mine continued to operate. It was nevertheless the flag ship of the governments Throne Speech of the day.
You will have to pardon this government for taking some credit for some of the things it has been doing. We do not often do that. We fail in our public relations sometimes. I admit that openly. When the chance does come to make a few humble comments about the governments considerable activity to date in terms of improving the economy, and we should be permitted that occasionally.
The Member for Faro is the one person in this entire Legislature who should not be criticizing this government for the considerable activity that has taken place in his constituency. The Member for Faro says it is paying its way. He forgets that the Town of Faro and Curragh Resources were essentially brought back to life through federal expenditures and considerable hustle from this government.
I am going to have a lot more to say about that because the Member has neglected to mention the considerable effort put in by this government getting the infrastructure in place, bringing the town back to life, breathing life back into the town, putting roads into place so concentrate could be hauled, assisting the mining company to get started, because we knew that the mining company would make a profit and could do for the territory what it is now doing.
The Member is shedding crocodile tears because he does not accept that the work has been done. He has had no personal experience with it, he had nothing to do with it. The Member discussed the issue briefly of the studies and the endless consultation that the government is doing with the people of Yukon. I believe it is the governments intention to continue consulting with the people of the Yukon on a wide range of matters on an ongoing basis as long as this government is in office. It is a refreshing approach to governance, quite unlike our previous experience, and obviously quite unlike that which would exist in a liberal administration.
The Member for Faro has taken great pains, as have some Members in the conservative opposition to detract from the record of the Yukon 2000 process. He can only suggest that the process is expensive and involves consultants. In the sessions I have attended I have met Yukoners from all walks of life who do not feel that they are being manipulated, who feel they are making a contribution to the economy of this territory.
The Member for Faro does not believe in that. He has made that clear, and I will use some things to remind him of that in debates to come. The Member spoke of the housing shortage in Whitehorse and suggested that the government was not doing enough. He also mentioned during Question Period that this is one of the consequences of a growing economy. There are housing shortages. A growing or booming economy sometimes puts strains in various areas on available housing and land. On one hand, he is recognizing that the economy is booming away and that there are associated problems, then he tried to hide the problems in saying that it has a life of its own.
The government is aware of the housing shortage and the land shortage in Whitehorse. It is doing an incredible amount to try to resolve the shortage. We encourage the private sector to build. We have been trying to make lots available in and around Whitehorse, and we have done quite well. The Member demonstrates remarkable ignorance in suggesting that only 19 lots have been made available in Whitehorse in the previous year. The fact the Member is unaware of the basic parameters of the equation leaves me to believe that I should not beat too heavily on him because I do not think he is that informed. I am sure we will have plenty of opportunity at other times to become more involved with this.
The Member for Faro has a desire that home ownership costs are kept at a minimum. That is a desire that is shared by the government. It is also the desire of the government to ensure that housing costs are kept at a minimum and that the integrity of the initial deal between Curragh Resources and Faro Real Estate is maintained. The principles of the deal are essential if we are to believe at all in deal making and ensuring that the governments equity is preserved.
The point made in the past is that the agreement for sale that would allow sales to take place and for home ownership to become a viable option is something that Curragh Resources and Faro Real Estate can undertake without the governments assistance.
We nevertheless have decided to discuss with them the parameters of the original arrangement, as I mentioned to the Member before, inside and outside the House, and have undertaken discussions to ensure that - and to hopefully ensure that the housing costs in Faro are brought down and that home ownership will be once again viable for the residents there.
I believe that the Throne Speech was a balanced and appropriate statement of the governments direction for the future. I think it reassured people that we had not lost faith in our vision of what a democratic government is supposed to be, that consultation, which is the interplay between the public and the government, is smoother than ever; that the role which consultation plays has been injected into nearly every aspect of government policy making. I think it is refreshing for those people who remember the days of old. I think it is a non-threatening way for government to operate and it is not authoritarian in that it makes for better and wiser policy decisions.
On Tuesday, somebody on the Opposition side misquoted me once again with respect to a statement they thought I made about my feeling comfortable about government. Of course they injected the adjective big government because maybe it sounds a little sexier, but it is not what I had said. I said that, basically, I think a government itself as an institution, a government that is democratic, is non-threatening. I think a government that engages in consultation is wiser and more mature and I feel quite comfortable with governments that carry those characteristics. Perhaps what I should have said, perhaps I should have qualified my remarks by saying that I was more comfortable with this government rather than with government. Because I certainly am more comfortable with this government rather than with the way the previous government operated. That was the distinction that perhaps I omitted.
I remember a time, long ago, when there was no consultation, that the government made a virtue out of authority; it felt that top decision making meant that people would, by necessity, have to be hurt, neglected and consequently would have to become angry. That that was what government, good government, was all about. But I have experience now in a different form of government. I have experience with a government that tries to minimize confrontation; that, in our consultative efforts which are poo-pood by the Member for Faro, we still solved problems and we still tackle very difficult issues.
I am proud to serve the public in a government such as this and I do feel comfortable with this particular government and the civilized approach they have taken to governing.
The Throne Speech itself reassured the people that the government was holding its course. The Conservative opposition was apparently also holding their course in their criticisms. They still suggested the expenditures were bad and the territory was still doomed despite 20 percent growth. They suggested that the Ottawa Conservative government is still going to renege on its commitment to the north by chopping funding for the infrastructure development. The opposition also felt the unmistaken strength in our own economy where we are leading the country in terms of economic growth, and it was largely due to people external to the territory. Not one Yukoner was mentioned but certainly Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were given some credit for the growth of our economy. In fact I think they were given more credit than Yukoners generally. The rush to thank outsiders with not a crumb of respect for the efforts of Yukoners was something I found surprising coming from the Leader of the Official Opposition.
The Conservatives said wait, do not despair, there is going to be a minor depression yet, and we have all kinds of evidence that it is coming. There is going to be a crash and it is going to be hard. Gloom and doom. Let us take our two years of economic activity and growth and put an end to it. We can handle it. The Conservatives say the feds are going to turn off the tap. Are they counselling the federal government to turn off the tap? Are they suggesting that government expenditure by itself is a wrong thing? When the Government of the Yukon spends money on infrastructure the Conservatives equate that with dependency by the public on the government. They want the money to come, they have said this, and took credit for it coming. Then when the government spends it they say that the public is becoming dependent and big government is growing out of hand. Spending like drunken sailors was mentioned by the Member for Riverdale North. Basically you cannot have it both ways.
This bring us to some of the specific remarks made by the Leader of the Official Opposition. He says that the money did come from Ottawa, the boom in the Yukon is the result of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. We should send them a note thanking them for their considerable efforts because all the work the Yukon 2000 government, and the private sector of the Yukon have done, pales in comparison to the considerable effort put forward by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.
The theme that the Leader of the Official Opposition wanted to champion was the theme criticizing what he thought was the publics dependency on government. He suggested that the increasing revenues from Ottawathat he says now are going to be cut backare creating dependency by the public on the Government of Yukon. He says that there will be a crash, and the Black Monday on the money market says that we are in for a bit of a shakeup. He says that the crash will be hard because we are very dependent. He says that buildings are built by the score, and that is a bad thing. He says that only a fractionalbeit a very large fraction, we have to look at the figuresgoes into industry. He says that people are upset with the way the government has undertaken its expenditures. He is disappointed with the takeover of the lumber industry. I presume he means that he is opposed to the purchase of Hyland Forest Products in Watson Lake, which has interesting implications for the people of Watson Lake. He says that a Tory government would represent a different future for Yukoners. I do not think we can dispute that. He says that the Tories had undertaken the transfer of the Northern Canada Power Commission, that they ought to have taken credit for the considerable work that was done to date on a score of issues for which the Government of Yukon actually put in the work.
I think that that criticism is unwarranted. I think the criticism is disputable in large part. I would like to make some effort in doing just that.
The government has been doing a number of things in the last couple of yearssome very significant things. I would mention Yukon 2000, the interplay between government and industry, Indian bands, communities, all groups within our society, discussing our economy, deciding community consensus for economic development and directions we want to go, trying to determine specifically where we can help each other, where a mutual benefit can be achieved through a strengthened economy, where we can diversify our economy, where we can engage in import substitution. This is something that is a process that was initiated by the government, which is drawing to some conclusions now and will be updated on an ongoing basis. It is essential that the government continue to speak with people, that people speak to government, are not threatened by government, and use a process such as this when all sectors of the economy can get together to speak their piece on matters as incredibly important as the future of our economy.
Some offshoots of that process included the training strategy, which was one of the first initiatives undertaken by the government. It initiated and implemented a plan, which: was to see career services undertaken where people looking for work wanted to have career counselling, saw the process to initiate college governance undertaken, saw the discussions with industry take place to develop training institutes for both tourism and mining, and assessed the needs of various people and the training needs of the people of the territory. It began new initiatives such as a band management course, a municipal administration course, a business management course, the tourism hospitality courses, and the economic development administrative skills training course - all new initiatives - and is to look at the training needs of the territory to determine how we can best meet our needs, how we can best take advantage of the economic upswing that we, as a territory, were experiencing.
When Members talk about infrastructure and when they talk about what we need to improve the infrastructure for the purposes of economic development, they must look at training and they must accept the fact that training is an integral part - if not the most important part - of a strategy which is going to see the Yukon take benefit from the economic activity that does take place.
The Yukon 2000 process also initiated discussions in the area of communications. We wanted to respond to the requests by Members in the House for more television in communities and better phone service, which we have done. We also thought it was necessary to review the telecommunications capability of the territory and to try to improve that basic infrastructure so that better data transmission can take place, so that better phone service can take place, so that better broadcasting for the purposes of distance education can take place because these, together, have distinct economic as well as social benefits. When businesses decide to communicate or want to communicate with suppliers or their markets, other than the tourism or mining industry, they need decent communication networks in order to do just that. Communications is an area where we have not spent a great deal of time and attention in the past, but this government is bound and determined to improve the infrastructure and to do it in a way that makes the most sense to all the people of the territory, including rural people who have levels of service which are below the average that is experienced in urban centres such as Whitehorse.
There appears to be some criticism of the expenditures that we have made in the form of our Capital Project plan. They feel that there has not been enough expenditures being made in the way of infrastructure development. I can say, in a brief explanation of capital expenditures for road construction, that the Government of Yukon has done considerably well in the last couple of years in ensuring that the road infrastructure is not only well maintained, but significantly upgraded.
In the area of road construction, the government has literally doubled its construction expenditures in the last two years over the previous two years. In the area of maintenance camp facilities, the government has increased its expenditures by almost 10 times previous expenditures, because we felt that in order to provide good service to the public, the maintenance facilities and the maintenance infrastructure had to be first class. We have gone a long way to ensuring that is the case.
We have expended considerable funds supporting community infrastructure development. I mentioned briefly the issue of block funding. I can recall that when the government took office in 1985, the average expenditure for all communitiesmunicipal and otherwisewas in the neighbourhood of $4 million. I can say now that the average expenditure for municipalities alone is literally double that.
There was some criticism on Tuesday with respect to what was called wasteful make-work projects. I presume that the Members were interpreting the local employment opportunities programs as a wasteful make-work program. That program has gone great distances to improving the infrastructure for both communities by way of community halls, tourism development, even firebreak slashing and has gone a great distance to ensuring that those communities are more attractive places, better places, and more efficient places in which to live. I will not apologize as the Minister of Communities for any of the expenditures that the government has made, for the initiatives that the government has taken in the communities to improve their infrastructure. They have not experienced the improved infrastructure in the past. They have long been deprived, in my view, of the services that people in Whitehorse accept as standard. I think it is time that the government does something concrete about that. I am happy to say that in the past few years we have done that.
We have done a considerable amount in ensuring that the capital funding expenditures are targeted to communities where they are needed most.
In the area of land development this government takes a back seat to no one, contrary to what the Member for Kluane has said. When we took office there was no policy framework under which to do many things at all. There was no agricultural land policy apart from some simple basic recommendations put forward by the Agricultural Development Council. There was one land transfer for a farm in two years, to the previous governments credit. We have literally got dozens and dozens of agricultural land transfers for people of the territory in the last two years, primarily in the Whitehorse area, some in the Haines Junction area, and around the territory where people have made application. So this government takes a back seat to no one when it comes to land policy development, land transfers, making land available to all people, which includes insuring that land is provided for the purposes of housing for Indian bands and other purposes.
We brought down lot prices that were currently in the inventory. We established a process for the orderly development of land. We established squatter and homesteader policies which are currently being carried out. We organized the Lands Branch, and this was desperately needed. We got the land-planning processes underway, and this was desperately requested by many people. We initiated livestock control and grazing policies and have done a considerable amount of work in land development and land policy development. We take the back seat to nobody.
We have done many things. We hustled the Curragh deal which the Member for Faro has already forgotten. We opened the Skagway Road which allowed his community to happen, which the Member for Faro has conveniently forgotten. We established the Regional Resource Roads Program which has allowed major mining activities to take place. We put money into various capital projects and have held operational expenditures down. That has been the enduring legacy of this government.
When I was in the Legislature from the period 1982 to 1985, Operation and Maintenance expenditures climbed by approximately 10 to 12 percent a year and they have gone down consistently in every year we have been in office.
I am going to reserve some of my comments on housing until a time when we can dedicate some discussion on housing. The Member for Faro feels the only housing problems in the territory that exist are in Whitehorse and Faro in Faro it is not because they cannot get decent housing but because they cannot take ownership of the housing, and in Whitehorse because there is a scarcity of housing, which the government certainly recognizes. The Member for Faro seems to feel there is no other housing problem in the territory of significance, and the government should turn its attention to the problems only in Whitehorse and Faro. The government is not prepared to do that. In our discussions around the territory I have personally talked to many people who do not want to continue with outdoor privies and inadequate insulation. They do want to have their housing upgraded and have made that very much a priority for their communities.
We will clearly explain in the budget exercise what we plan to do to assist land development around the territory. I hope there will be other opportunities for us to discuss this particular issue because I would like to smoke out the Member for Faro and his views. I love to listen to the Member for Porter Creek East recant his views, which is unlikely. I will be happy to explain any expenditures that the government makes in the year to come when the estimates come forward. I am very proud of the governments overall record. There was considerable activity undertaken in the riding of Mayo to improve the quality of life for its communities. The basic infrastructure was developed and improved to a point where people are beginning to see some significant differences.
Speaker: I would like to remind the Member that he has one minute to conclude his remarks.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As an MLA and as the Member for Mayo, I am happy to have been involved in so many good and well thought-out projects for the communities of that riding. I happy to have been the one most directly involved in paying some concrete attention to the community of Elsa, which at one time was seen by the previous government to be on a different plane. The Throne Speech was an appropriate reassurance to the people of the Yukon that the government is holding its course and that good times are yet to come.
Mr. Nordling: The Speech from the Throne is generally a statement of the governments policy, and replies are debate on that policy. The Throne Speech made on Monday, at the opening of this session, contained no new policies, and it was very short on detail regarding existing policies. The question being asked all over the territory is why the government bothered with Throne Speech at all. Perhaps it was because there has not been a Speech from the Throne since March 13, 1986, and it was time for a public relations campaign, one that has wasted a considerable amount of the taxpayers money, and time in the Legislature.
I hope that this public relations document has backfired and Yukoners have gotten the clear message that this government is not going to do anything. Next year at this time, we will be discussing and probably fighting an election on the same four or five issues. The government will be talking about, firstly, implementing the Yukon 2000 strategy; secondly, fighting the Meech Lake Accord as it moves through the provincial legislatures; thirdly, settling land claims and blaming the federal government for this governments inaction and unwillingness to take a position; fourthly, doing something about housing.
I expect there will be another commission set up to consult on education. The Minister of Health and Human Resources will be announcing that a daycare policy is being developed and about to be released. If the Minister of Justice runs true to form, I expect that next year at this time he will still be telling me that appointments to the Yukon Utilities Board are imminent.
There are dozens of pressing issues that this government should be acting upon, issues that I expected to be dealt with in the Throne Speech. In my reply to the previous Speech to the Throne on March 25, 1986, I quoted from a speech made by Dave Porter on July 13, 1982, more than five years ago. I will repeat that quote.
Mr. Porter said: We must quit trying to sweep the alcohol problem under the rug, hoping someone else will clean it up for us. Nobody but the people of the Yukon are ever going to effectively deal with this devastating disease. I say it is about time we face up to the reality of our situation and take immediate action to combat alcoholism in the Yukon.
That is the end of the quote. At that time, I challenged the Minister and the government to take immediate action and to lead the fight against this most serious of Yukon problems. Where are we today? In his maiden speech made two days ago, the Member for Tatchun said that alcohol is the number one problem in his riding. In a political comment in the Yukon News yesterday, the Member for Old Crow cites alcoholism as one of the major problems facing the Yukon, yet there is no mention in the article of specific government actions to deal with the problem.
I expected and hoped this problem would be addressed specifically in the Throne Speech. Perhaps it is something that the NDP thinks will take care of itself, or perhaps they need the revenue from alcohol sales to finance their public relations campaign. After all, the Member for Klondike stood up in this House only two days ago and announced with great pride that the liquor store in Dawson City made over $1 million in profit last year. This was proudly given as an example of how this government is creating new wealth.
Another glaring omission in the Throne Speech and in the list of Bills to be introduced this sitting is mention of the Mental Health Act. In a Yukon News article on September 10, 1986, the first line states, The Yukon government is currently working on new mental health legislation which it hopes to introduce in the Legislature by the fall.
That was last fall. The article goes on to quote Margaret Joe, the Minister of Health and Human Resources, as saying, and I quote: There is (sic) so many problems. We want to bring it up to date and make it more easy to deal with. The article proceeds to outline five major problem areas identified by the NDP. What has happened? Have these major problem areas cleared themselves up or is the Minister not doing her job?
The government has sounded the alarm over housing, and announced a $75 million program to deal with it. In my mind, an even more alarming statistic is that the Yukon has the highest rate of suicide per capita in Canada. A year-and-a-half ago, I wrote to the Minister expressing my concerns in this area. Six months later, I received a letter from the Minister addressing several of my concerns and stating, and I quote: We are also making significant progress on drafting new mental health legislation. What has happened to that legislation? In her reply to the Speech from the Throne, the Minister says: I would like to focus my remarks on those areas that will impact directly on the individual Yukoners and the policies and programs of my department. In her reply, there is no mention of directly attacking the problems of alcoholism, suicides or the shortcomings of the mental health legislation.
As the Editorial regarding the Throne Speech said in the Whitehorse Star, November 10th, and I will quote that: We did not need this restatement of unchanged priorities. We need action.
If the government was really doing its job, we would not be listening to nebulous statements about diversification and devolution and jobs and the year 2000 as we have been hearing since 1985. We would be hearing about concrete accomplishments and specific programs for the future. I believe the accomplishments, and I put the word accomplishments in quotes, of this government are being purposely withheld from the public. These accomplishments, again in quotes, include the tremendous growth of government and the dependency of Yukoners on government and the fact that government is gaining more and more direct control over contracts and business people. The Throne Speech fails to announce that soon equal pay for work of equal value will be imposed on the private sector and, in this way, government will play a role in the running of every single business in Yukon, and that supply and demand will no longer matter, and that further that the principles of democratic socialism will regulate the production and distribution of both goods and services in Yukon.
As critic for Economic Development I see another omission in the Throne Speech which is of great concern. The Throne Speech makes no mention of change in the present system of grants and loans. I mention this because the government agreed that a revolving loan system was preferable to a system of outright grants. The government was urged to enter into discussions with the federal government to change the present economic development agreements, to do away with grants in favour of a revolving loan funds. Obviously this has not been done and the hard feelings and inequities created through the present grant programs will continue. Yukoners will become more and more frustrated with the atmosphere in which business must be conducted in Yukon. The obvious priority of this government and unfortunately the only priority I have seen over the past two years is to get itself re-elected.
In conclusion I would like to use one of the Government Leaders favourite words to describe the Speech from the Throne. It was pathetic.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The new word that the Leader of the Official Opposition appears to have discovered is dependency. Awhile ago it was inconsistency, and I would point out that it is inconsistent to laud the acquiring of new monies from the federal government and then condemn spending of the money. That speech that he made in fact has an exactly similar theme to a speech made in this House on April 11, 1983. I would point out that the real question here is how the money is spent which, of course, we will be debating at length in the budgets, especially the Capital Budget expected on Monday night at 7:30.
He did say that Throne Speeches are time to sit back and take stock or to assess in a general sense the way things are going. I will do that in relation to my ministerial responsibilities. I was personally criticized by the Member for Riverdale North, but I took heart from that speech not for what it said but for what it did not say.
In looking at, or in sitting back for a moment and taking stock, I looked at the previous Throne Speech debates. On the first one, which occurred in October, 1985, I specifically said on October 3 what the priorities were that I had identified for the department during my tenure as Minister. The first concrete project that I spoke about on October 3 was the delay in the court systems, specifically the Territorial Court. I said that I would put considerable effort into improving the situation, and that I considered that the delay was an objective measure. It was a measure by which I wished to be judged.
I am pleased to say now that, for all practical purposes, there is no delay in the territorial court system. The system is the best in the country, with respect to that issue. The delays that do occur are as a result of time required for preparation of cases at the request of lawyers, but it is possible to get a court date within a week or so of the first appearance, if that is desirable to the parties and, characteristically, dates are set within three to six weeks of the pleas. That initiative, which I had identified as a first priority, was achieved. It was achieved by this government.
Further, the circuit courts have been expanded considerably, and the time between circuits in the rural areas is substantially reduced. The record of disposing of cases on a single circuit is substantially improved.
The second that was identified in 1985 was services to victims and to witnesses. Without speaking at great length, the payments to victims under the Victim Assistance Program, because of its more efficient administration and its advertising, its service has tripled over the last three years. We have a victim/witness coordinator in the government and, also, a witness assistance program and, for the first time, we have native courtworkers resident in the communities they serve and serving as a communication between the communities and the courts outside of Whitehorse.
I identified, as a third priority, a correctional philosophy that was to the effect that the training that occurred in correctional centers should be work-related and that there should be work in the nature of restitution to the community. That initiative is proceeding very well. The Member for Kluane has never supported it, and that is why he did not bring to the attention of this House, the feelings and the support of the Community of Haines Junction with respect to that program.
The Member for Faro spoke about plain language in legislation. With regard to the drafting philosophy, legislative drafters have characteristically either one or two approaches. Those approaches are, firstly, that legislation should be written with the judges or with the legal profession in mind in order to make it increasingly precise by making increasingly complex. That would include in an increasing way, legalese and legally motivated phraseology. Secondly, the approach can be taken as legislation and the regulations under that legislation as an instruction to the civil servant to instruct them about the policies they are to follow.
This government has taken a substantial leap forward and has abandoned those two methods of drafting, at least insofar as the emphasis on them goes. It has adopted a new approach. That approach is that legislation is being read by the citizens who the legislation is supposed to serve, and that we have a duty as legislators to address the legislation to citizens. The extra effort that it may take to interpret and to discover the specific instructions should be made by the government, not the citizens.
Consequently, we are writing legislation in a simple language and in a simple style. The style is almost as important as the language. The emphasis is that legislation should be written with the readership by the citizen in mind, not the particular court or the particular civil servant.
That was not mentioned at all by the Conservatives, but I would submit it is a very important aspect to this Throne Speech that deserves some attention.
The Throne Speech spoke about the Meech Lake Accord. I will not dwell on that, because there is a motion on the Order Paper about specifically Meech Lake and also about land claims. The important statement that was made is that it is time for a new initiative for the constitutional development of the north. The Meech Lake problem has focussed the attention of some media in the south on our concerns and there is a window of opportunity opened just now.
Also in a rare political occurrence, the political parties have come together and are speaking with a united voice on this issue. It is significant also that the Indian organizations in Yukon and in the Northwest Territories are getting together now and are identifying those common concerns that they can propose and publicize in the very near future. The Meech Lake process leaves us with a problem, and if we unite and work together in the months and years ahead, there is a unique opportunity to seize on this moment of unanimity in the north and to promote the legitimate constitutional issue of self-determination in the north both with respect to land claims and the constitutional development of the territory.
In closing, I would like to thank the Member for Tatchun for his maiden speech. That is the first maiden speech that I have heard that has spoken of the continuity of the Members that come after himself, and it is that long-range view so characteristic of native people that we can learn from in this Assembly.
Mr. Lang: I want to begin, as well, by congratulating the new Member for Tatchun for presenting this House with his maiden speech. I think the MLA for Kluane spoke very well about it, allowing for how difficult it is for new members to come into this House and speak for the first time. We have all had to do it at one time or another. It is quite a momentous occasion for each one of us when that time comes and you have to take your rightful place on behalf of the constituency you represent. So I want to begin by congratulating the MLA in taking his seat and I am sure we look forward to his contributions as the days and months go on.
With reference to the reply to the Speech from the Throne, there have been some comments made with respect to its contents, or lack thereof, and the direction of the government, but, from a parliamentarians point of view, this is a very important period in the session, where it allows each and every one of us the ability to stand up in this House, express views on behalf of their constituency, and also how they see Yukon developing and the direction our Yukon is taking, not only this year, but in the years to come. As one Member said, it is a time to sit back and reflect and give some though to how we see Yukon developing.
Over the past couple of years, there has been some positive development, positive developments that I think have touched all people in Yukon in one manner or another, and I refer specifically to the mining industry to begin with: the development of Mount Skukum; the development of the Canamex property at Ketsa River; the revival of United Keno Hill Mines; the resurrection of Cyprus Anvil, now known as Curragh Resources. I think there has to be credit given to the government in some areas of work that they have done, and initiatives in these areas, primarily in the Curragh Resources development, where I think it is safe to say that a fair amount of work had been done prior to assuming office but that work was completed with the resources at hand and steps were taken. The argument may well have been at that time as to how you take those steps. But, at the same time, the political risks were taken and I think it is a really positive development for the Yukon when we read and heard that the Australian investors had come forward with further financing for the mine.
The other area that I am very pleased to see advancing and taking its rightfully, prominent place in Yukons economy and I think being recognized as days go on by all of us more and more and that is the question of placer mining. I think a lot of credit has to go to the K.P.M.A. and the work through Mr. Ross and his executive and now the new president, Mr. Taylor in the sacrifice they make as individuals to put their free time into that organization to ensure that their interests are taken into account.
I think it is an area that we and the Government of the Yukon Territory have to pay more attention to with respect to the legislature and, in turn, the government taking definitive positions with respect to placer mining and the various environmental factors that they have to deal with. That is our responsibility as government and as a Legislature that decisions of this kind have to be taken.
The other area that some positive news was given to the Yukon was in the area of tourism. It is good to see the continued growth in our tourism industry. It is an area that we have to continue to nurture, we have to continue to put the time and the monies for it to ensure that we have an annual increase in our visitors. It is very disappointing when we hear from the MLA for Kluane and read that in one area of Yukon we have had a decrease. This is what this time allows for a Member such as the MLA for Kluane to bring forward facts of that kind and present it to all Members of the Legislature to give some thought to how we can increase the number of tourists going to Kluane, instead of using the time to outline what projects we have in one riding versus another, but using the time to listen to the MLA for Faro with respect to the question of housing, and how we couldcollectively or as individualstake the necessary steps to see whether or not free and clear title can be granted to homes in Faro. It is a legitimate request from the MLA for Faro. I do not think it is one where the government side stands up in a bellicose post manner and says to the MLA for Faro that that is not consequential, that we keep the road open to Faro, as if the MLA for Mayo did it all by himself in his spare time.
Comments that are made at this time should be given serious consideration by the government so that areas of concern that have been registered are taken seriously and not just dismissed out of handfor example, the MLA for Riverdale Norths request to look at the question of Wickstrom Road, whether or not that particular road should be paved, chipsealed or upgraded. There are 10 residences there, and it is a road that the YTG is responsible for, instead of taking the attitude that you have to become the government in order to be able to rectify the situation. I do not think anyone is elected in this House with the intent that if you are elected all you do is porkbarrel.
There is a dual purpose for us as parliamentarians. We bring forward the concerns of our constituents and look at the territory overall and the direction it is taking. Sometimes you have to make a decision that is adverse to your constituency.
At times that does occur. In order to serve the public interest in the direction the Yukon should take.
There are some programs within the Government of the Yukon Territory that have been initiated, perhaps not to the extent that we would do it, but some in principle that I feel should be given some credit. One in particular that comes to mind is the Roads to Resources. The Government of the Yukon Territory deserves credit becoming involved in that area. It should be expanded or further discussions should be made with respect to that program, but it is a program that is going to serve Yukon in the long term with respect to investing in Yukons future and the economy.
The Small Business Loan Fund continues and is serving a purpose. I will get into grants and loans later on. The Small Business Loans Fund is an area that should be given some credit. The other program that is directly benefiting our economy is the Yukon Mineral Development Program. I look forward to hearing what other projects have been initiated under that particular program because I believe those programs are set up with the intent of creating future wealth for the citizens of the Yukon. There are areas we should be discussing within this House to see what we can do to improve programs of that kind.
The other area I want to touch on in a positive view is the senior citizens housing. We are pleased to see the continuation of the governments commitment to this particular area, and the building of fourplexes in various communities. Also the senior citizens facility on First Avenue that the Minister of Community Transportation mentioned. These improve the quality of life in the Yukon and just as important as years go on they have the effect of stabilizing our communities so our senior citizens no longer transfer out of the territory but stay and maintain a home here in the Yukon.
Another area in which the government deserves some credit which is well warranted is the further emphasis on the historical contribution of the Indian people to Yukon. It is a positive move on the part of the government and it is nice to see programs initiated some years ago continue to be built on.
I would like to touch on educational facilities and programs generally. We are pleased to see a continuation of the monies being allocated to these particular facilities. That is where our young people start out and these facilities provide the basis for our young people to come forward and eventually someday take our places in this House.
There are a number of very serious issues confronting the Yukon, and we have to take some time and think about them. In July, 1987, the number of eligible voters in the Yukon was 15,097. That includes anybody over the age of 18. I raise that to bring into context what we, in the Legislature and the government, are doing regarding to dependency on government. On page 16 of the Statistical Review, First Quarter, 1987 under government employment, it says that in March, 1987, the number of employed civil servants was 3,975. I assume that they are all over the age of 18. If we compare that with our working population of 15,097, we have one civil servant for every three adults. In other words, we do not have to worry about anything happening to us because we are being well taken care of.
Is that the direction in which we want to go? When one turns 18, they automatically assume that they will be going to work for the government. Do people on the other side of the floor honestly believe that government was responsible for how the Yukon developed and that the government can take all the credit? These are very staggering figures when we reflect on where the Yukon is going. I use are in the context of the royal we.
The Government of Yukon, in 1983, had 1876 permanent employees. In March, 1987, we had 2,581 permanent employees.
We have not seen or experienced any devolution of departmental responsibilities from the Government of Canada except for NCPC. The growth in government that we see every day is the consequence of expansion of programs within the YTG or the initiation of new programs. It would seem to me that we all should pause and have a look at what is taking place, and I am going to refer specifically to Whitehorse. We now have so many civil servants on the payroll that any building in Whitehorse of any consequence has a government department in it. It is either fully rented by the Government of Yukon Territory or in part. Does that not tell you something about where we are going and the direction we are being led as far as Yukon is concerned? Our economy back in 1979 was very similar to what it is now and we had substantially less government.
I think we have to pause and have a look at just exactly what the Legislature is doing with respect to increasing the size of government. Is it in the best interests of the people we serve, or is it not? as opposed to the position being brought forward by some Members, which is a look what I have got in my riding concept versus a what you did not get in your riding concept.
I really believe it is a scenario that deserves serious debate. It also, I believe, bears public scrutiny. Because what you see before your eyes is that the Government of Yukon is becoming the preferred place for employment as opposed to all other employers. We really have to question what we are doing.
When you hear people in your constituencies saying, I do not want to work for that company, or that individual; I am going to work for the government because they provide this benefit, that benefit, this pay package and whatever, we really have to have a look at the consequences of what we are doing, not only for the people who are looking for employment but for our young people when they come of age. Should we not be looking at a society where we reward incentive; should we not be looking to where we say to the young people of tomorrow: go start a business, go out and make decisions, your own decisions, and take a risk, have the experiences of the hardships and successes that go along with those decisions as opposed to saying: I am going to go and work for the government.
There are other issues facing us in Yukon, other issues that are going to shape the social, political and economic future of Yukon, and one of those issues is going to be the resulting settlement of Indian land claims. We have not heard any definitive policy statements from the Government of Yukon on this subject in two years.
We have heard the platitude of fairness. We have heard the platitude about justice, but we have not heard what the Government of Yukons position is on any given specific issue that they have been presented with. I want to transmit to Members opposite that there is a suspicion by the people of the Yukon with respect to just exactly what direction the Government of Yukon is going in this area.
One wonders why it would raise the question of suspicion. One wonders why the general public is starting to ask some questions about just what has taken place when, in the Speech from the Throne, the following statement was given to this House: I am pleased to report to this Assembly that substantial negotiations began late this summer after a three year gap.
We have been paying an ex-judge over $100,000 a year to negotiate on behalf of the Yukon territorial government, which, in turn, is the public interest of Yukon. What do we have? We have an admission that the taxpayers have funded its own industry the land claims industry to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars to have a report from the government say that we have had a three year gap.
The question that has to be asked is: what have we been doing? Is that not a legitimate question, on behalf of those people who have been applying for land or applying to do certain things and have been turned down because we do not have a land claims settlement? Is it not a legitimate question to say: where are the people that we put in trust? What happened? This is a question that people are raising with me, as an MLA, as a person duly elected. They come to me to say: what has happened? I cannot tell them what has happened. I have now got the report that nothing has happened.
There is one other area that I want to touch on. It is a statement of native self-government that continues to come up with respect to the native land claims negotiations. The previous package that was accepted by the Government of the Yukon Territory, by the Government of Canada and by 75 percent of the beneficiaries of the Indian land claim, was a package that was put together on the basis that we would have one government that was represented by the various elements of our society.
Various concessions were negotiated through various parties to make that happen. It was going to be known as the Yukon government. It was not going to be known as a native or non-native government, white versus indian. It was going to be a government for the people of the Yukon Territory. Although we have not got a land claims settlement it is occurring as time goes on. It takes time, perhaps not as quickly as some would like, but it is happening, where the native and non-native people of the Yukon are becoming involved in the everyday governing of the Yukon. Just look at the representation in this House. The reason that representation has come to fruition in this House is not because of action taken six months ago, last year or six years ago. It is because of actions taken as far back as 1974, and before. I refer specifically to the Electoral Boundaries Commission and the demarcation of the constituencies and ridings that were accepted by Members of that House of 1974 to 1978.
I want the Members on the other side of the House to seriously look at what they are doing, where they are going and why they are going in that direction. When we are finished I believe the people of the Yukon want one government, not two, not three and not four. If we do not have that as an end result of the negotiations, you will not have one Yukon, you will have two Yukons. The responsibility for that decision and the effects it will have will lie with the side opposite.
It concerns me when I hear the Minister of Justice coming out with what is called tribal justice. What does it mean? How will it affect the people of the Yukon? I notice that in his reply to the Speech from the Throne, the good Minister did not tell us. The Minister of Justice so arrogantly puts it that it will come. I take him at his word because he is a man of his word, sinister or otherwise. There is no question that if we can throw it down their throat we will do it.
There are going to be some very real questions put forward by the people of the territory about where the government is taking us. They are legitimate and they deserve specific and legitimate answers, not like the answers we got from the Government Leader with respect to government overlap where the same question was put to the Government Leader that was put six months ago and he still could not answer it.
That brings me to another area of concern, an area that is starting to pervade these chambers. Once it does, the Legislature suffers and we all suffer. That is the question of arrogance and disrespect with respect to questions being raised by Members on this side about the governments actions.
The MLA for Faro raised the legitimate ongoing question of procuring title for property in Faro. The Member was berated in public by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services for not saying thank you for keeping his highway open.
I think some time and reflection has to be given to the answers in Question Period. I find it very frustrating when I ask the Minister of Justice a question, and he does everything he can to avoid answering it. We have to take up half of Question Period to get a yes or a no as to whether or not it is raining outside.
Mr. Speaker, I think you and the House deserve better, and I think it is time that the government recognizes that they are responsible to the House and in turn, the people of the territory instead of saying that our democracy is going to be sitting in Committee and that we will be running around the territory consulting. There are some hard choices in government, and there are questions that have to be raised. The public deserves a straight answer.
I have heard Members on the side opposite laughing about the allocation of money throughout the territory and what the end result is going to be. There does not seem to be much time or thought given to this area. I think the government had better start. There is the question of financial management. It is a question of accountability and responsibility. This government was blessed with a direct grant from the Government of Canada in 1985 of an extra quarter of a billion dollars for the people of the Yukon Territory to improve their infrastructure and to invest in the future. A quarter of a billion dollars is a lot of money. We could close our eyes and envision how many government buildings that would fill. We have the buildings and physically we could fill them with that amount of money.
I resent Members saying that we have no right to question how this money is being spent. I had the good fortune or the misfortune, depending on how one looks at it, of hearing the Government House Leader on CBC say that we should not have the nerve to question the Capital Budget. It was like a threat. The unfortunate part about that attitude is that the waste and the mismanagement is never duly considered by the government.
In other words it is a game of one upmanship of how can we spend this money, and try to make whoever is requesting it make the most of it.
The question on this financing and on this grant of dollars from the Canadian taxpayers, is not whether or not it should be spent. The question is how it is being spent and is it being spent in the best interests of the people we serve? As one Member of the House stated earlier, who is going to pay for all these buildings when they are finished? It is a valid question: who is? It concerns me when I see overruns, when we are presented in this House with a budget in the neighbourhood of three-quarters of a million dollars for a particular recreation facility, and we find out that now it has gone to $1.7 million and is climbing. Unlike the stock market.
The response we get from the government side is, Oh, it is the civil servants fault. I had nothing to do with it, said the Government Leader, it is the civil servants fault. Well, I think there is something drastically wrong when this House can vote $750,000 and in less than a year it is up to $1.7 million. That is what I call mismanagement. Mismanagement. And that has to be answered in this House, because there is no other place it can be answered.
One other area I want to touch on is with respect to grants versus loans. We are getting those who are capable of applying for grants and receiving grants, and those who perhaps do not have access or the expertise, or perhaps refuse to apply because they do not believe in them. They are not getting the benefits of their own tax dollars. Yet at the same time, they see businesses coming up through government financing going into direct competition with them. This is an area which I believe the government had best start looking at very seriously in order to rectify that situation, as opposed to having the situation in Kluane, where you have lodge owners pitted against lodge owners as the MLA from Kluane so well expressed the other day in his reply to the Speech from the Throne.
There is another area of concern, and we are going to be discussing it in great detail. I expect the Minister of Housing, the new czar of housing in the Yukon Territory, to be prepared to answer specifics with respect to the new housing program which is going to resolve all our problems. It is not often that I can say the MLA from Faro and I agree, but I can say this: this is an area that is going to be scrutinized and scrutinized closely.
There is another area I want to bring to the attention of the House and that is the question of land development. I am speaking now as the MLA of Whitehorse. We are going to be facing, next spring, a situation where no land is going to be available for the purposes of house building.
The government better be prepared to take some quick action with respect to developing these lots in order that people can get their own homes as opposed to . . .
Speaker: Order, please. I would like to remind the Member he has one minute to complete.
Mr. Lang: . . . having the Minister of Housing providing social housing to the people in Porter Creek East.
I recognize I will get an opportunity sometime during the course of the session to stand up and express my views, as irrelevant to the other side as they may be, but I just want to say to the Members opposite that the concerns being expressed here are not only those of the individuals who are representing constituencies, but they are from what people have told us. They should be seriously considered. If they are not, it is going to be to the detriment of everybody in this House.
Hon. Mr. Porter: I will not be very long in my comments in reply to the Speech from the Throne. With respect to the Throne Speech itself, the first thing I would like to do is to join my fellow colleagues in the Legislature in welcoming the Member for Tatchun to his seat in the House. I hope that his calm and cool outlook in life does have some effect as to the conduct with respect to all Members in the Legislature.
I would like to begin in detail by responding to some of the questions raised by the Members who have spoken before me, starting with the Member for Tatchun. The Member clearly illustrated in his speech in reply to the Speech from the Throne that there were some problems related to the area of trapline allocation, very specifically to the question of boundary. I would like to assure the Member that this government takes as its policy the proposed agreement-in-principle that was established by the previous government of 1984 with respect to the allocation of traplines, and that we have no intention whatsoever of moving away from those particular agreements with respect to the allocation between aboriginal and non-aboriginal trappers.
The Member has raised some specific concerns from his riding. I understand we have been investigating some of those concerns and I am happy to report to the House that as of yesterday one of those particular areas of boundary disputes has been settled satisfactorily to the proponents involved in the dispute. As well the additional dispute that was brought to my attention is being worked out and the individuals were brought in and asked to jointly go over the disputed boundary.
One of the questions raised by the Member was the question of signage for the community of Burwash.
Mr. Brewster: On a point of privilege. I have gone through my Hansard very carefully and it appears that my speech was very, very short. I am not recognized anyplace so I according to the rules could not have said anything.
Hon. Mr. Porter: We will simply assume that it was said by someone, and because it does concern the community of Burwash we would assume that it was in the Member for Kluanes district. The problem at Burwash as someone said yesterday, was that there were no signs in the community. We did respond to that particular request and our response was that we have developed streetscape programs for the entire territory. One of the guidelines for the streetscape program is the question of signage and we leave it up to the people there to decide where they will put the signs and what kind of signs they are going to put up. We will fund them to make those decisions. It is clearly a matter of devolution of responsibility to the community.
On fisheries, it is clearly the intent of the Member for Kluane as he has indicated on the Order Paper a motion regarding fisheries, to lay the blame for the non-transference of fishery responsibilities related to the management of freshwater fishery in the Yukon squarely on this government. I understand the politics and motives behind it but we will be debating that particular question. I can assure the House that for the most part the Yukon has represented its position well. I will not be in a position to counsel this government to take a poor agreement to set precedents for other areas of the government and then have to rob other wildlife programs to be able to shore funding for inadequately funded programs that emanate from the federal government.
Another question that the phantom speaker talked about was in respect to border crossing numbers. I would like to bring Members of the House up to date on recent numbers. The border crossing statistics that come from the Customs Canada indicate that in Beaver Creek there was a percentage decrease of 3.7. In the area of the Haines Road, Pleasant Camp, there was an increase of 2.8, and at Fraser there was an increase of .6 of a percent, at Little Gold on the Top-of-the-World Highway leading into Dawson a 22.9 percent increase, and in Whitehorse minus 28 percent for an overall decrease of 0.01 percent.
Numbers indicated in 1987 that there is an increased registration at our visitor reception centers of .65 percent. Furthermore, the percentage of bus traffic was reported as being down. That was not the case. I am happy to report that bus traffic in the Yukon has increased by .073 percent for this tourism year.
The question of housing was also raised. We are promised lengthy debate on that question. The Throne Speech clearly sets out the priority of housing. There have been studies done that indicate that the Yukon is an area that has poor housing relative to the rest of Canada. People in the Yukon should be treated no differently than any other Canadian. People of the Yukon deserve access to the same basic rights and programs that exist elsewhere in this country. Housing, as an issue, is universally held to be an important aspect of peoples lives. I will be a welcome proponent of the debate. I will support my colleague, the Minister for Community and Transportation Services, in his attempts to try and rectify what is an obviously neglected problem. It has been neglected for a number of years.
If we look back at the record of the previous government, while they were building handfuls of houses in the Yukon, the Northwest Territories was building 300 and 400 units. There is a problem. There is no way to ignore that. This government is going to do something about it. It is a problem that exists in my riding, it is one of the major problems in Watson Lake and in many of the communities in the Yukon.
In speaking of the community of Watson Lake, it would be fair to say that Watson Lakes economic health has improved significantly in the last couple of years. One of the major reasons for that improvement is due directly to the government making a decision to take the Hyland Forest Products mill operation and get it on its feet to produce lumber. The numbers that have been generated from the Department of Economic Development indicate that approximately 80 people are working in the mill with two shifts operating. As well, there are approximately 40 people employed in the bush to supply the mill with logs.
The people of Watson Lake, for the most part, are happy with the governments decision. They supported it, they think it had to be done, and they congratulate this government for doing so. One of the other questions that was raised in Question Period and was raised in the media is that the Conservative Party travelled to Watson Lake; the report indicated that there were 16 people at that meeting, and the major concern was that people are wondering about life after land claims and what the situation would be.
It is a question that should be pondered because the Government Leader and myself have been in Watson Lake on a couple of occasions where an excess of 100 people have attended public meetings. The discussions were about questions that not only involved land claims but education, constitutional rights and the health of the environment. People in Watson Lake are as concerned as anybody else in this territory about some of the major issues that affect the territory. Their viewpoint is not limited and is not, in any way, solely engaged in discussions of a claim that has not yet been agreed upon.
There is an awful lot of discussion in the Throne Speech on the economy and, like my colleague from Mayo, I am astounded by the fact that the Leader of the Opposition gives Ronald Reagan and Maggie Thatcher more credit for the revitalization of the Yukon economy than the people of the Yukon. The infrastructure we have seen built by the government and by the private sector the roads that have been built, the houses that have been built, the new tourism attractions that have been put forward were not put there by Ronald Reagan or Maggie. As a matter of fact, those initiatives were taken on by people of the Yukon and I think it is very short-sighted and impolitic to ignore the contribution of the people of the Yukon with respect to what has occurred in the economy.
By extension, one would have to believe that similar policies that have been advocated by those two members of the extreme right-wing of the political spectrum are held by the Member opposite, and I would be interested in seeing as to which ones he does in fact favour.
There has been criticism of the government in terms of the late sitting. I would just like to, for the purposes of being clear for the record, indicate from 1980 the times that this House has convened. In 1980 we started the House October 14; in 1981, November 12; in 1982, November 1; in 1983, October 17; in 1984, November 13; and in 1985, October 1. Clearly, there is an established trend in the House that sittings of the House normally occur around the time we are sitting now.
In a very cursory way, those are some of the rebuttals to the points made by the Members opposite. I think most of the ground in terms of the discussions that occurred earlier has been covered, and covered very adequately. In terms of the opposing philosophies that emerge from this debate, I think I could be quite concise in my view and it is simply this: in many respects it can be boiled down to the fact that the side opposite believes that government means in essence the divine right to dictate. However, that is a very opposite point of view from this side and what we believe is that government is an institution that the people have a right to be involved in.
Mrs. Firth: I rise today to make my presentation on behalf of the constituency which I represent and my response to the Throne Speech. I find it interesting, in previous speakers presentations, how their attitudes have changed. I remember a time ago when the previous speaker used to get up and take full advantage of his forty minutes allowed to make representation on behalf of his constituency, and we never criticized him then or said of those who spoke long that the content is not necessarily of quality or of importance. We were not so unkind as to criticize the Members for taking advantage of that opportunity. I am sure, Mr. Speaker, there are many times when you wish you had forty minutes to stand up and have a say on behalf of the constituents you represent in the Campbell riding. You are at the mercy of the Members of the Legislature to make what little snippets of representation on your behalf that they do make or that they remember to make. I have to listen to the comments of the Government Leader, both now as Government Leader and when he was the former Leader of the Opposition, about democracy and the parliamentary process and how strongly he felt about this process we are going through right now.
Where Members like the new Member for the riding of Tatchun have an opportunity to stand up and make some representation on behalf of his constituency, or the Member for Old Crow has her 40 minutes to stand up and talk about her constituency; the Member for Klondike, the Member for Kluane. I can not think of a lot of other times when these Members have had the opportunity to publicly have the forum to get up and have their say.
For any Member of this House to downgrade or try to demean what those Members have to say is very unkind and is very unparliamentary. I hope that Members from this side of the Legislature never stoop to that kind of low comment and tactic.
I want to start out by making comments about the constituency that I represent, the riding of Whitehorse Riverdale South. I spent a considerable amount of time in the constituency starting, after two years, to get the feeling of what a Member of the opposition is supposed to do, what kind of activities they are supposed to take on to represent the constituency. It is an adjustment you have to make after having been in the government and going from being a minister to being a member of the opposition. It is exciting when you find out what your purpose is as a member of the Legislature and what your purpose is in representing your constituents. After visiting the complete constituency twice, once on my own as the MLA, to find out what the concerns were and again with the Conservative candidate in the past federal by-election, I found out a lot of things about the people in the riding. I found a lot of changes had taken place and I had a new relationship with the people I am representing. As my colleague from Riverdale North mentioned, when I went from door-to-door, both during the federal campaign and on my own as the MLA, the most prevalent issue brought to my attention was that of day care, child care services, and what was happening with child care services in the Yukon. I will get into detail later on in my presentation.
Other concerns that were brought forward were concerns about education that I would like to pass on to the Minister of Education at this time. The Grey Mountain Primary School is a very active little school with active participation from the parents, who are all pleased to have witnessed and participated in the opening of the activity room. They are enjoying that facility very much. I still have concerns about the long-range plans for that school, what the destiny is going to be. They feel secure now that it is going to be a school, but still have outstanding questions about whether it will become an elementary school for grades kindergarten to six, whether it is going to be made into a Catholic school, and some of the issues raised in the study done by this government when it came to school facilities.
There were also some concerns at the beginning of the school year about overcrowding at the Grey Mountain Primary School. Some parents were called upon to volunteer their children to go to Selkirk School. I understand this was done on a voluntary basis and was handled very smoothly by the staff at the two schools and also the parents involved. I want to congratulate them on those efforts and in finding a reasonable solution to that problem.
Through the efforts of all the school committees to consult with people and the consultative process that the government likes to stand and talk about in this Legislature, the government sometimes puts extreme demands on these volunteer organizations. The school committees are volunteers. They put demands on them by asking for input on studies and reports and give them a very short time period within which they need that input. For example, the Grey Mountain School Committee was asked for input on a policy and procedures manual for programs in education for special needs children, which included gifted children. They are now being asked to provide input for the Joint Commission on Indian Education and Training. They are going to be asked for input on the task force on education. My concern is that school committees are not being given enough time to call public meetings to get enough input from the parents within the area that they represent to come back to the government with a well planned and consulted analysis of what they were asked to do. I hope the Minister takes that as a recommendation.
The comments I heard asked about how sincere the government is about input if they are asking for answers so quickly when there is so much to discuss on the question and report.
I understand that the G.A. Jeckell School was concerned after the Grade 7 French Immersion teacher decided he did not want to stay in the Yukon after all, that that program was going to be discontinued. There were a lot of very upset parents who were concerned that the program would be stopped. I understand that through the efforts of the parents input and the activity of the school committee that in consultation with the department they were able to have some continuity so the children would not miss out on their French Immersion and that we now have a new French Immersion teacher from F.H. Collins School.
The gymnasium construction is carrying on. I understand it has been delayed a bit but we will not criticize the department. I am sure we will find out why the construction was delayed when we get into a more detailed questioning of the budget.
The Joint Commission on Indian Education has produced a lot of questions about the quality and standard of education and whether or not we are going to have two separate school systems, one for Indian children and one for non-indian.
There are concerns that standards may be affected. The government may move towards lowering the standards of education. They would not like to see that happen. Also, the F.H. Collins High School had an assessment done by a consulting group and in some of the comments made in the newspaper about the outcome of that assessment there was talk about the high academic standards that were required at F.H. Collins School and that that was going to be looked at. I would like to make representation on behalf of the constituency that parents are very concerned that we do not lower the academic standard to some low average at F.H. Collins. They feel it is extremely important that the academic levels be maintained.
We know that there are alternate programs, equivalency programs, for students who are not suited for the higher skilled academic programs.
We have also had some lots developed in Riverdale. There has been a big demand for extra lots in that riding, because people have heard of the good quality of the Grey Mountain Primary School, and Jeckell School has also had its reputation enhanced and improved from past years. In cooperation with our efforts and some of the people within the community who had approached me, I approached the Minister, and we were successful in getting 19 more lots developed in Riverdale. They are presently for sale. I understand they have been advertised in the paper, and there are a lot of people pleased about that.
There have been some concerns brought to my attention recently about the Yukon Housing Corporation, particularly about the houses that have been purchased in the constituency on Hart Crescent, Firth Road and Ketza Road. People know that the government has bought the houses. They are not sure why they have bought them, who is going to be going into these houses, or whether they are going to be consulted about who is going to be going into these houses. There have been some very extravagant renovations on some of the houses. I hear complaints from people that they cannot afford to paint their house or upgrade things they would like to do, finish off their basement, put new windows in, or whatever, yet they see their tax dollars being spent next door upgrading some of the Yukon Housing Corporations houses. I think the government has to be made aware of that. I hope that the Minister is going to be prepared to address that issue during this sitting of the Legislative Assembly.
We have also had a new child care facility open in the constituency, the Learn to Love Daycare. It was opened just recently and, I expect, will soon have a reputation of being one of the best daycare facilities in the Yukon. I have extreme confidence in the individual who will be operating that facility to run a quality daycare facility.
I want to move on into some of the specifics of the Throne Speech itself. Particularly, I want to touch on some of the governments initiatives and the track this government is espousing to have. I am particularly interested in the comments in the Throne Speech about democracy. I heard the Member of this Legislature who represents the riding of Whitehorse West stand up in this House many times and talk about democracy and the kind of democracy we would experience under an NDP government when he was Leader of the Opposition, and how much better it would be than what we had in the Yukon Territory then; how much fairer and more equitable it would be. Yet, I do not hear that when I talk to Yukoners. I do not hear them say that things are better democratically in the Yukon than they were before.
Sure, they may be talking about some of the economic issues and how things economically seem to be better. I do not think the community in general has a positive attitude about it. They have a questioning attitude about why things are better, economically, and they usually pass it off as just because the government is spending more money, and there is lots of government money and, therefore, the situation is better economically, but it does not give them a feeling of reassurance or a feeling of security that the next few years are going to be healthy years for this territory. I am not coming here with a message of doom and gloom, as some of the Members opposite would like to get up and allege. I am simply saying that things are not as good out there as the Government Leader and some of his colleagues would like us to believe.
You cannot convince people of that with the thin, patronizing, repetitive Throne Speeches. The people are too well-informed and too involved in what is happening in the community to be fooled by that kind of platitude.
We talk about the kind of democracy that we have with this government. There are some incidences that I think about when I start to reflect on the last two years and seven months of this government. The first initiative that was taken by the government that made me question exactly how democratic and how strong their beliefs in democracy are was the Government Leader calling in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to investigate the so-called leak of a document, whether it was a budget or a taxation document, or whatever. At that time, the civil servants were put under interrogation and scrutiny. Their desks were searched. The MLA offices were searched and things were taken from them that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police thought were relevant to the investigation.
We had kind of an ineffective report after all this investigation occurred, and there was really nothing there to report. It was then all dropped as quickly as it was activated. I did not think that that was a show of democracy that this government had embarked upon. Then, occasionally we would hear or see in the newspaper snippets of information about lawsuits against the government by civil servants who felt that they were wrongfully dismissed. We heard the outcome of a couple of them. Some of them probably have not been settled, so we have not heard about them.
The government, in all of its intentions for fairness, equity and equality activated a very tumultuous time for a lot of civil servants with the Job Evaluation Study. They reclassified and rewrote many job descriptions within the government. I understand that there were hundreds of appeals over that from many people who were very unhappy and dissatisfied about what had happened. It, in effect, turned the whole civil service into a turmoil about their status and their jobs. I know that the intentions of the government were good. They wanted to get rid of certain inequities. Sometimes, however, when those intentions are launched, it is the people that the government is trying to help who are affected and sometimes hurt. There were probably a lot of incidences within that whole process that happened that way.
We then had a judge suing another judge. I do not ever recall that happening in the territory before. There was a lot of interest across Canada about this case. I had Members from Legislatures phoning me from various provinces, who had heard about it. Obviously, we made the news in some national sense because some other provinces were aware of it. The Minister of Justice, then, told us today that he had some involvement to settle it with taxpayers money.
The Minister of Justice, in all this great democratic process that we are experiencing, needed legal services.
And, he then needed those services again. It was not the Ministers fault, but I understand that the lawyer who was representing him had received an appointment that required that he could not any longer serve him, so we had to solicit more legal services for the Justice Minister. All the time, the taxpayer is going to be paying for this.
Then I have a personal representation to make on behalf of an individual I have been trying to assist for over a year now with this government, an individual who came to me because he had gone to the government and had complained to them that they were not enforcing their laws with one of the contractors with whom they had had a contract. He had been through a year of red tape by now a year and some months of red tape. He still does not have a solution to the concern. All this time, he has been unemployed. He has been unable to find a job. He is not on any other employment benefits and he sees this government spending money on all kinds of projects and does not understand the fairness or the equality or the equity in the situation when he is unable to have a job; he is unable to get the situation settled. Through their efforts to assist the client, for use of a better word, his name was mentioned and he feels he has been very wrong done-by because he was tagged as an individual who was complaining about this particular company; he was identified as an individual who had a complaint.
I have heard that there have been employees or that there may have been employees within this government told that, if they continued to exercise their civil rights when it comes to issues like daycare and so on, their jobs could be in jeopardy, and that gives me a great deal of concern, because I do not find that very democratic.
No doubt, all governments suffer from those kinds of complaints, but these have been brought directly to me and therefore the magnitude of them is a lot stronger and I believe the individuals who have brought forward the complaints; the individuals, because I have had more than one brought to my attention. That is not democratic.
Then I come to another incident, an incident where we were discussing the daycare issue. I was being interviewed by the media and it was brought to my attention that one of the Ministers of this government had indicated to the media I was not named specifically, but it was a Conservative MLA, and if there are any Conservative MLAs talking about daycare, I think there was probably only one who is talking publicly about daycare that I had, in some way, encouraged people to break the law and that I had been inciting civil disobedience and that the government was going to charge this Conservative MLA; they had all kinds of substantial evidence and they were going to charge this MLA for inciting these riots and disobedience. I found it extremely interesting that a Member or Minister of this government would say that to anyone out of this Legislative Assembly without substantiating the remark, and particularly say it to people within the media.
When you have Ministers of a government with that kind of mentality, to me that is one of the most severe erosions of the democratic process: threatening Members of the Opposition for speaking out, threatening Members of the Opposition if they are giving the government a bad time. I know these kinds of things go on in other countries, but I really did not think this government, and a Minister of this government, would resort to such low tactics as that. I want to say for all the Ministers that the Members of the Opposition are not going to be intimidated or muzzled by that kind of threat and that kind of intimidation. I know how offended the Government Leader would have been if we, as a government, had even insinuated or inferred that we might take on that kind of approach to questions and to opposition that they had raised when they were the Opposition. We never did. I do not recall a Minister of the government, when the former government was in office, ever making that kind of accusation or allegation. I am sure the Government Leader feels just as strongly as I do about that being an erosion of the whole democratic process and of the MLAs of this Legislature having the ability to represent their constituency. If he wants to discuss it with me any more, I will be quite prepared to, and he can take suitable corrective action with his Minister.
We come down to the issue of the day now, which is the issue of child care in the Yukon. When we talk about democracy and the democratic process, probably one of the worst things that this government did after I heard the Ministers responses in Question Period today was to pick a woman who is at home providing a babysitting service to the community, a woman who loves children, has children of her own, who is looking after other peoples children and has the trust and confidence of those people to look after their children to have this government put this person under surveillance and watch what she was doing. We know what the surveillance tactics were like, because they were reported to me by the parents who had been called. The Minister today tells us that she does not know who authorized the surveillance. I find that totally unacceptable, that the Minister knew the investigation was going on but did not even take the time to check and see who had authorized it, why, what was going on, and what was happening. She could not respond to any of the questions today. This happened five months ago.
We have this surveillance operation going on where parents are being telephoned at home and being asked questions about how many children were at the facility that they had taken their child to that day. Parents with unlisted phone numbers, who phoned me up and asked how the government was able to get their telephone number. I said I really did not know and would have to find out how that happened. I would have to question the Minister and ask her what the process was that was undertaken. We know that, during the surveillance, peoples license plate numbers were taken down. I can only speculate that license plate numbers were checked in Motor Vehicles and telephone numbers were taken advantage of that way. I am not saying that is what happened, but that is speculatively what I would conclude had happened, if these departmental officials were able to get these peoples telephone numbers.
That is not democracy. That is not democracy the way the Government Leader sees it.
I would like to point out for people as a result of the Minister for Health and Human Resources actions over child care in the Yukon. I heard from the Minister that this daycare issue was almost a new issue. She presented her ministerial statement and talked about the great track record that this government had with child care as compared to the previous government. She talked about all the great things she had done. For everybodys information, maybe we should take a look at some of those things because our criticisms of this government have been consistent particularly when it comes to child care policy.
This government has never had a position or has ever revealed a position. I know what the NDP position is regarding child care, and I will be stating that very emphatically a little later on. We go all the way back to February 19, 1986 when people were raising questions about subsidy problems. There was a question about the daycare centers not getting their subsidies. On February 19, 1986, it was stated that daycare government moved little help. This was a concern that was made about the amounts of money and whether or not the money was going directly to the daycare facility, the individual and whether or not there were delinquent payments.
The Minister did nothing to address that issue except to give a little more money and to say that she had addressed it because she offered the option to people to have the money go directly to the daycare centers. That did not solve the problem of the delinquent payments. People were not intending on paying their daycare and were going to take advantage of the money for a month would not choose to have the money go directly to the day care. That effort produced something called a blacklist that I found out that the daycare centers were keeping. The blacklist was names of people, their childrens names and the amount of money owned daycare centers. It was a representation on their behalf to other providers of child care services not to give those people any child care service until they had paid their delinquent payments.
This was an extremely negative thing. I was in shock when I saw this as were the people from the Council for Yukon Indians who I believe are proceeding, in some manner, with the blacklist. I will be asking the Minister if she knows anything about that list, and we will have to see how well informed she is about that now. I hope she is better informed than she was back then.
We moved on to around May 27, 1986, when the parliamentary task force on child care was here in the Yukon. There were some 20 concerned groups and individuals who made presentations to that parliamentary committee. I know the Member for Faro made a presentation on behalf of his party, and I made one on behalf of our party. The Minister of Health and Human Resources did not make any presentation. She never told anybody what their position was on daycare, and she got quite indignant when the Opposition criticized her for not making a presentation because, after all, she had had breakfast with them and was able to talk to them then. She was quoted in one of the newspapers, on May 28, 1986, as saying, our position is very well known to every Yukon, said Joe, who feels a written presentation is not necessary to clarify the governments position. Our position is to improve health services.
That is wonderful. Just like the Member for Faro said today, it is nice to get up and say all these nice things, but let us have something a little more specific here, a little more concrete.
Then we move on to May 30, when the Minister throws another $100,000 at the daycare problem, still not knowing what the daycare problem is, gives them another $100,000 for the subsidy program for direct subsidies. Many people saw that as a very positive initiative and were quite pleased with the Ministers initiatives.
Moving into June and July of 1987, we have daycares under surveillance. We went for a lull there with nothing happening in child care services, then we had child care services under surveillance. On July 23, the Ministers department charged a woman with operating an illegal daycare. The whole daycare issue became extremely controversial. Family day homes started getting organized. They felt they had not been represented. They formed an organization. They had meetings, started selling memberships. The Minister still refused to address the issue. In the meantime, we were seeing articles in the newspaper from the city about inequities in the bylaws. In August, the Family Day Home Organization made some representation to the Minister. She told that organization and myself that she was not going to do anything this session, that the schedule was far too heavy. Her department officials were quoted in the newspaper as saying that nothing would be happening in daycare, that there were far too many things going on.
September 4, the charges were stayed that had been brought forward for this woman, after she had gone to considerable legal expense to defend herself. The Department of Justice said they had hostile witnesses, that it was not a high priority, that for a simple $200 fine they did not think it was worth proceeding with this charge. Some of the officials within the Department of Justice said that they charges had been stayed and noted that it was a process in practice about the same as dropping the charge.
When that comment was made public the Minister became outraged and said that they had been stayed but a lot of people felt that once a charge had been stayed that it would never be reactivated. On CHON-FM she said that in this case that is not what is going to happen, they will be actively pursuing any case that comes up when they feel individuals are not complying with the Day Care Act and they have not dropped it as people think. Of course the individual involved in this great democratic process was not notified of any of this, she had to get that information from her lawyer and find out what the process was. The Minister had representations made to her from the day care centres through the Day Care Services Board about what changes they were interested in, the city had made representations about what changes they were interested in, and as I said the other day the Family Day Home Association presented the Minister with a nine-page document of recommended changes to the Act and to the Regulations.
I find it interesting that after all that the Minister, in a September 25th news article in the Whitehorse Star, still says that the biggest problem with day care are affordability and people who encourage others to operate a day care without a license. Operate day cares without a license. There you go. There is the Minister coming forward and again making unsubstantiated allegations about people exercising their civil rights. Totally unsubstantiated.
I realize my time is drawing near and I will have to stop speaking so I want to talk about the governments real position on day care. The governments position, the NDP position on day care is that a long-term goal of free, universal and non-profit day care is what they are after. Essentially the proposal is to make day care an essential government service like public education.
We have the Member of Parliament saying that they want support, she wants to provide financial support similar to that now given to health care and education and that all Canadians deserve affordable, quality day care for their children. Well that is the NDP position that the Minister is refusing to come out and tell the public. Instead she is going to throw more money at the situation and embark on a consultative process that is going to take another six months.
As the Member for Porter Creek West has already said about the Minister of Justice, after that whole consultative process is carried on, this Minister will still come back to this House knowing all along what the NDP position is on day care, supporting non-profit day care, universal day care for everyone, and she will still not address the issue of what the people of the Yukon want.
She will continue to waste their time with more consultative committees, Green Papers that are not even written yet, panels that are not even appointed yet, and that is not democracy and it is not an example of this government being able to stand up and, as the Government Leader I know will varoom on about how democratic his government is as opposed to the former Conservative government.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that debate on the address in reply to the Speech from the Throne now be adjourned.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Porter: Pursuant to the provisions of Standing Order 26, I would notify the House that the next day on which the address in reply to the Speech from the Throne will be debated is Monday, November 16th, 1987.
I move that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. Monday next.
The House adjourned at 5:28 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled in the House on November 12, 1987:
Final Report of the Joint Commission on Indian Education and Training, Kwiya (McDonald)
White Paper on College Governance and Phased Implementation (McDonald)
The following Document was filed in the House on November 12, 1987:
Letter dated November 22, 1985, from Willard L. Phelps to Hon. David Porter, Minister of Renewable Resources, re: Sale of Falcons