Tuesday, November 17, 1987 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the order paper.
Are there any returns and documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have for tabling today the report of the Education Act Task Force and the Department of Education Public Schools Branch Annual Report for 1985-86 as well as a statement entitled Canadian Job Strategies and Yukon Concerns.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 102: First Reading
Mr. Phillips: I move that a Bill entitled An Act to Amend the Territorial Court Act be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Member for Whitehorse Riverdale North that a Bill entitled An Act to Amend the Territorial Court Act be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: Are there any Notices of Motion for Production of Papers?
NOTICES OF MOTION FOR PRODUCTION OF PAPERS
Mr. McLachlan: I wish to introduce the following motion for Production of Papers. The House to issue an order for return showing the following information pertaining to the Yukon Housing Corporation: (a) For every community or location in the Yukon the total number of housing units, including single and multiple residential, which are owned, leased or rented by the Yukon Housing Corporation, (b) For every community or location in the Yukon the number of vacant housing units owned, leased or rented by the Yukon Housing Corporation.
Speaker: Prior to calling Ministerial Statements today I would like to provide the House with my thoughts on the point of order which was raised on November 16 by the Member for Whitehorse Riverdale South when the Minister of Community and Transportation Services began reading a ministerial statement to the House.
The Member for Whitehorse Riverdale South who, according to practice had received the statement entitled Canadian Jobs Strategy: Yukon Concerns prior to the sitting of the House, argued that the statement violated the rules respecting ministerial statements because it is simply a four page criticism of the federal government and contains no factual statements of what this governments policy is.
Our Standing Order 11(8) states, in part, that On Ministerial Statements...a Minister may make a short factual statement of government policy. Also, the Chair would note the Second Report of the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges of the 24th Legislative Assembly recommended That Ministerial Statements be made only on subjects of significance and primarily for the purpose of announcing new government policies.
The Chair has now had an opportunity to review the ministerial statement the Minister of Community and Transportation Services intended to make to the House yesterday. The question to be addressed is as to whether it is a short factual statement of new government policy on a subject of significance. It would appear to satisfy the requirements of the rules as to length, and the subject dealt with is important to Yukoners. Is it, then, a factual statement of new government policy? An argument can be made that it is an assessment of and a reaction to a federal government program and that it is, therefore, not in order. The Chair must point out, however, that, in a federal system, the reactions of different levels of governments to the policies of other levels do take the form of policy statements and that the ministerial statement in question is in order in that sense.
While this ministerial statement may be in order in this technical sense, its format and language do cause some problems. The first two pages are largely made up of an explanation and analysis of the federal Canadian Jobs Strategy and the language used throughout would, in many cases, be more suited to a debate. It is not until page three that the position or policy of the government of Yukon is provided.
The Chair would ask that Ministers, in developing ministerial statements, be careful to emphasize statements of policy. Speeches, in which arguments are made for specific policies, do not belong in ministerial statements; rather, they belong in debate and I would ask both Ministers who are making ministerial statements and Opposition Members who are responding to ministerial statements to consider bringing motions before the House if they desire a debate.
One further point the Chair would raise is the difficulty caused by the early distribution to the caucuses of ministerial statements. This is done as a courtesy which the Chair does not wish to discourage. However, it does lead to the situation where points of order can be raised about ministerial statements before such statements are made to the House. It is of some concern to the Chair that a point of order may be raised on a matter not yet before the House and, if such points of order become common, the Chair may have to give further consideration to this matter.
Finally, in dealing with yesterdays ministerial statement, I would ask the Minister of Community and Transportation Services that, if he wishes to deliver this statement, he assist the Chair by redrafting it in a way which would bring it more within the spirit of the rules governing ministerial statements.
Are there any Ministerial Statements today?
Hon. Mr. Porter: In order to not continue debate on this matter, I have for tabling a ministerial statement on tourism.
Speaker: This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Operation Falcon
Mr. Phelps: I have a couple of questions about what is known as Operation Falcon. Yesterday, the Minister of Justice took the opportunity of answering questions on behalf of the Minister of Renewable Resources, which was rather a surprise to me. He indicated that this government had finally entered into a contract with Mr. Nowlan so that Mr. Nowlan might be able to sell falcons that were hatched under observation in captivity, after the charges and events leading up to the charges had been laid. My question is whether a contract was eventually signed and who signed it on behalf of the government?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I believe that, in fact, no contract was signed. However, an agreement was reached and a contract could have been signed. I would point out that, aside from the birds that were in question in the court case, there were other permits issued to Mr. Nowlan concerning falcons in each of the years 1985-86, 1986-87 and 1987-88.
Mr. Phelps: I hope nothing was signed in 1988, otherwise we will be suffering from a profound case of deja vu. Can the Minister tell us when the agreement was entered into, or signed, with regard to the falcons in question: the 29 falcons that were hatched in captivity under observation by Renewable Resources? Did that not occur in 1987?
Hon. Mr. Porter: The information is that in 1985-86 ten permits were issued for prairie falcon, one gyrfalcon in 1985-86, six mountain sheep, six goats, two sheep capes and two sheep horns. In 1986-87 one live gyrfalcon, two peregrine falcons, eight mountain goat, seven elk, gyrfalcon feathers, moose antlers, and elk antlers. In 1987-88, 25 gyrfalcons, one peregrine and 27 gyrfalcon feathers.
Mr. Phelps: Is the Minister prepared to table any contract or agreement that was signed for the selling of the birds in question, namely those that were under negotiation for a year-and-a-half? Would the Minister table any such agreement in the House?
Hon. Mr. Porter: If the Member is directing his question towards the proposed escrow agreement that we attempted to negotiate with Mr. Nowlan which would have permitted him to sell the birds in question, he has already tabled the document. Hopefully he has done so with permission from whomever he got it from. With respect to any other proposed contract, this is the only contract I know of that exists.
Question re: Operation Falcon
Mr. Phelps: With regard to the proposed contract and with regard to the birds identified within that contract, can the Minister advise this House as to when his department observed those birds being hatched, what month and what year?
Hon. Mr. Porter: I take it that the Member is referring to the birds that were under question and were of concern to the proposed contract. If the Member is wanting specific information regarding the observance of those birds, then I can try to obtain the information and table it.
Mr. Phelps: Can the Minister advise why his officers prevented the sale of those falcons in the fall of 1985 to persons in British Columbia?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The premise of the question is inaccurate. There was a discussion about those particular birds between Mr. Nowlan and Mr. Monaghan, who was acting at the time as a court-appointed official. That discussion continued for some time. The agreement was as a result of efforts of this government to accommodate the interests of Mr. Nowlan.
Mr. Phelps: That is claptrap. The Minister knows full well that at all times the officer in question, Mr. Monaghan, had the power to allow the sale of those falcons. Is the Minister denying that?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: At the relevant times, Mr. Monaghan was given that power by the court. The matter was referred to the court subsequently and was upheld. At all material times, Mr. Monaghan was acting as an officer of the court in that respect
Question re: Housing shortage
Mr. McLachlan: The Minister of Community and Transportation Services made some great glowing statements last night regarding the Budget Speech. When is the government going to address the housing shortages of all Yukoners, instead of just compartmentalizing solutions for one segment of the Yukon population?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The assumption of the operation of the Yukon Housing Corporation by the new government found that the operations of the corporation were fairly limited. They were illegally placed in the department contrary to legislation. The bookkeeping work was done in a way that was frowned upon severely by the Auditor General, and a lot a work had to be done to get the Corporation up and running. That meant that we had to piggyback on the number of programs that were already in existence. We have developed a number of programs for all Yukoners through the Corporation including the Home Improvement Program.
I am not sure of the intent of the question, whether or not the Member is inferring that support for social housing and for low income people is something that he does not support. The point of the matter is that I have already indicated that the home ownership options are going to be developed very shortly, and I would hope that such things as support for the private sector and building construction for individuals would be something that the government could undertake in the near future.
Mr. McLachlan: That is the same as the day care decision. We are going to study it and come back in a year check in next June. To build or acquire 57 housing units at a cost of $6.56 million is $115,000 per unit. My concern is for the individual out there who is paying his own mortgage, paying his own rent and his own taxes. Why can he not get a $115,000 unit, too? That is the question he is asking himself right now.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Firstly, with respect to the actual budgeted amount, the federal government, through CMHC, provides support for social housing clients for low income people as a matter of government policy. That is a policy that is shared by this government, that there should be support for low income people who have difficulty affording homes. Clearly the Member for Faro does not support that view. That is obvious in the preamble to his second question. This government does feel that support for low income families is something the government should be involved in, and historically has been involved in.
The question about engaging in support for persons, for first-home buyers, or for people to encourage the building of homes in the private sector, that is something that is getting very complicated. I have already indicated the difficulties the Housing Corporation has faced up until this point. We have only now gotten an agreement with a person who is prepared to take on the general managership of the corporation, only today, after having a vacancy for approximately a year. There are some difficulties that I am facing up to now, that I have faced up to over the past year that we have to resolve in terms of the delivery of the programs. These are complicated programs. The Member, for crass political purposes, is trying to downplay those problems. I am facing up to them, and I think we are going to be able to be in a position to provide good services for all Yukoners through the home ownership options that we are considering.
Mr. McLachlan: The Minister may feel he is facing up to it, but the people who cannot find places to live in Whitehorse certainly do not feel that way. Next May, the Canamax gold mine in Ross River will go into production. That is another 80 to 90 jobs. I would hope that some of them would be based in Faro and Ross River, but there is a large percentage of them going to be living here. There is nowhere for them to live given the vacancy rate that exists in the city. The government and this Minister are not doing anything about it. They have no solution.
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please get to his supplementary question.
Mr. McLachlan: When is the Minister going to come forward with a plan that will address all these concerns?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I think the Member probably put about two minutes of thought into that question and, unfortunately, there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hours that have to go into delivering on all those things. Now, the government of Yukon has gone to great lengths and the Capital Budget is testimony to that fact to ensuring that there is residential land available for the City of Whitehorse and around the territory. I would be very happy to be able to defend those estimates in the Legislature when the Capital Budget comes up for consideration. But let me tell you that there has been a lot of residential land developed in the last year and released in the last year, and I will be more than pleased to make those details clearer in the minds of the Member for Porter Creek East, the Member for Hootalinqua and the Member for Faro.
Question re: Day home surveillance
Mrs. Firth: I have a question on a different subject, a question for the Minister of Health and Human Resources on day home surveillance. Yesterday I asked the Minister a question about the surveillance process for day homes and she said at that time and I am quoting there was some information given to our department from the City regarding possible unlicensed day cares. There were a number of addresses that were given to us.
Can the Minister confirm that this is the way the information was received?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: That is the information that was given to me: that the process followed information that was given to our department by the City, that there were those unlicensed day cares in operation.
Mrs. Firth: That makes it now three times that the Minister has said that this information came to her from the City. She said it from the quote that I just mentioned, she said it again that day I said a number of homes and addresses were given to us and she has just said it again. I would like the Minister to answer this question now: Id like her to tell this House why her information absolutely contradicts the information that I received from the City when I made my inquiries to the City officials about her comments this morning.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: Mr. Speaker, I cannot tell you why it contradicts the information that she got from the City. She has got a lot of other information wrong in the past and I do not have an answer for that. Maybe there is a contradiction, and if there is I dont know why it does contradict what she has heard.
Mrs. Firth: It is a very serious offense for a Minister of this government to bring wrong information into this Legislature, and in so doing, mislead the House. The Government Leader says What about Opposition Members? If I might, I will give the information that was presented to me from the City. The information that was presented to me was that there is absolutely no process within the City this is a very serious issue that we are dealing with, Mr Speaker. This is an issue about innocent peoples homes that have been put under surveillance and Mr. Speaker, I look for your ruling to be able to present my case.
Speaker: I would just like to remind the Member that there will be a time and a place where you can present this. This is Question Period.
Mrs. Firth: Well, if I may start a new question, then, and present the information in my opening statement to the new question. I am looking for recognition for a new question.
Question re: Day home surveillance
Mrs. Firth: This morning when I phoned the City to confirm the comments that the Minister had made in this House, I was told by the City that they had no process for keeping records of family day homes. Because they do not require business licenses they do not even know of family day homes within the community, they do not know many how family day homes there are, and they are only aware of the larger day care centres because they require approval for zoning bylaws and recently they have required permits. They do not even have a process or the ability to give the Minister the information she has brought to this Legislative Assembly, and I would like to know why the Minister has brought wrong and misleading information to this Legislative Assembly.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: As I said before, I received the information from my department. If the Member for Riverdale South is asking me to name names, I do not know whether or not I would be prepared to do that, but apparently she is. The information I got from my department is the information I presented in this House. She may assume it is wrong, somebody may have told her it was wrong, but it is the information that I have.
Mrs. Firth: This is not the Ministers department talking, this is the Minister the person who is responsible for this department and responsible for the information that the public receives, and she is bringing it into this House. She had three days to get the correct information.
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question?
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask the Minister again why she is bringing forward wrong or inaccurate information to this House.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I am getting sick and tired of the Member from the other side of the House accusing me of wrong information in this House when I listened to her speech in reply to the Speech from the Throne that had so much misinformation in it that I could not believe it. I gave her the information that I had at that time, and I was not making up stories.
Mrs. Firth: I gather the Minister is saying that my department gave me the wrong information. The Minister has transmitted wrong information in this House and I would like a commitment from the Minister if I have the Ministers attention to present to this House in writing, substantiation of her information, because it is not there.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I just do not understand what the Member is trying to do. I have brought information to this House. It is obvious she is looking for a real argument in this House and I am not prepared to do that. I can bring to the House the information I got from my department and I do not believe my department would lie to me.
Question re: Day home surveillance
Mr. Lang: The Minister of Health and Human Resources was asked a question in her capacity as a minister of the government and the responsibilities that are vested in her as the minister of the government. I have a question on behalf of the people I represent. Is the Minister of Health and Human Resources prepared now to go back to her department and bring accurate information with respect to the situation outlined by the Member from Riverdale South, where the allegations are made that the City of Whitehorse has a blacklist in their possession, that they provided to her a list of homes that eventually wound up being under surveillance by her department unbeknownst to innocent people?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I do not know what he is talking about. He mentioned a black list. I do not know what he is talking about. I never mentioned a black list.
Mr. Lang: I do not know what else you would call it. These are very serious charges that have been made in this House, that the Minister of Health and Human Resources was provided by the City of Whitehorse information with respect to family homes that, in turn, were put under surveillance by her and her department. The question to the Minister that the Member for Riverdale South has asked is: is the Minister now prepared to go back to her department and bring back accurate information for the Members of this House?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I do not know what he is screaming about. I will come back to this House and will bring the information they require. I have received information from my department that there was information given to us from the City. If you want me to bring that back in writing, I will. I have no problem doing that.
Mr. Lang: The reason I am upset is that we are talking about peoples homes that have been under surveillance, people that have been under surveillance at the direction of her department. I would further ask the Minister if she would be prepared to bring that information tomorrow.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I will bring the information when it is ready, and as I mentioned before there was only one home that was under surveillance.
Question re: Yukon Housing Corporation
Mr. Lang: We will wait for tomorrow on this one.
I have a question for the new czar of housing. I see he has alerted the Minister of Community and Transportation in view of the announcements made last night. I would like to ask the Minister of Community and Transportation Services: is it the policy of the government, of the Yukon Housing Corporation, that they act as the general contractor in the building of houses throughout the territory?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Housing Corporation has a bylaw which is similar, I understand, in its tone and in its thrusts to contract procedures directives of the Management Board, and that bylaw directs the administration of the Housing Corporation in the construction of the units that they are responsible for.
Mr. Lang: The Member is getting very quick on his feet. I would like to ask the same question again. It is very difficult in this House to get a direct answer to questions.
I asked the Minister if it is the policy of a corporation that he is in charge of, that they act as a general contractor for the purposes of building staff houses throughout the territory?
We have been through this before in the Legislature. The general procedure is that the project is tendered in one of two ways. It is either tendered for a general contractor to build a house or it is tendered in pieces for subcontractors to build a house. It can either be built through a general contractor or it can be through construction management.
Who makes the decision on whether it goes out to a general contractor or to small contractors for small contracts?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will have to check the bylaw of the Corporation to see whether it has delegated the authority to the construction manager or if the Corporation Board takes it upon itself to make those decisions on a unit by unit basis.
Question re: Destruction Bay teachers residence
Mr. Brewster: Can the Minister of Education please tell me why a new teachers residence was built in Destruction Bay?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There was a desire for another teacher in Destruction Bay at a time when the numbers appeared to warrant another one. Overtures were made to MOT to see whether or not units would be available, and MOT did not make a decision on that until August, and I will check on that date. By that time, it would have been impossible to have units built in time for this school year. So the Corporation went ahead, in the absence of any sort of indication from MOT, and started construction of a new teachers residence in Destruction Bay.
Mr. Brewster: Can the Minister assure me that MOT did not offer two of their vacant houses for purchase?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The offer was made after the footings were put in for the unit that is being constructed by the YHC. The Corporation was, at one time, interested in purchasing houses in Destruction Bay for a couple of reasons. One, it would have been cheaper than new construction. Secondly, they would have been immediate. The teachers could have moved into the houses, and the Department of Education would not have had to bear the cost of putting the teacher up in the motel.
Unfortunately, it was obvious that the houses were not offered on time.
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please conclude his answer?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The decision had to be made, and the Corporation made it.
Mr. Brewster: It is very strange that we have been negotiating for airports for three or four years, and those houses were part of it.
Could the Minister please tell me who moved into the teacherage and at what date they moved in?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am going to have to check on that detail. I do not have it at my fingertips.
Question re: Carcross pumphouse
Mr. Phelps: My question has to do with the fire pumphouse in Carcross. Back in January 14 of this year, there was a motion unanimously passed in the House about this very topic. During the course of his remarks, the Minister of Community and Transportation Services said that they wanted a system that was designed, that was reliable, would stand the test of time, wheather it would provide a service the winter months for many years to come. Quoting from page 460, he also said that there was a shortfall of approximately $60,000 and that that was not the problem, that the department was prepared to go ahead, even with a shortfall of $60,000.
In this case, the difference is some $37,000, and they apparently are not going to go ahead with the essential service for Carcross. I would like to know why he has changed his mind since January.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member drew some erroneous conclusions with respect to the remarks I had made. The major problem that I mentioned in the Legislature of installing the pump last year was that an agreement with White Pass was not forthcoming and, at that time, at least, we did not see any light at the end of the tunnel. The agreement we were referring to was an agreement we were seeking to place a permanent pump on the bridge. I do not believe I said that the difference in tender price was so insignificant that we would simply absorb it and provide this protection no matter what the price happened to be. That would irresponsible as a Minister responsible for budgets in this House.
What I have indicated to the Member recently is that the government is extremely aware of the needs of the Carcross residents. We are intending to provide backup pumping capability for the community of Carcross. I had indicated that a portable pump was being considered.
Mr. Phelps: I have to read his remarks. He said, on page 460: in the past few months it became clear to us that the lowest bid was 50 percent higher and my information is not the Member for Hootalinquas information than the engineers initial estimate. That resulted in a shortfall of approximately $60,000 on the project. That is not the sole reason for determining whether or not a system would be put into Carcross or into any small community, because safety is the significant factor to be considering within reasonable financial limits. Even with the discrepancy between the Member for Hootalinquas figures and mine, I think the reasonable limits would be met.
Does that not mean that, in January, he was not concerned about this shortfall that he said was $60,000?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No, it does not mean anything of the sort. As the Member accurately, I presume, quoted my remarks . . .
Mr. Lang: It is just the House, it does not matter.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Speaker, I would ask that you please keep a leash on the Member for Porter Creek East while I am attempting to provide an answer to the residents of Carcross and the very important situation of their firefighting capability, which is of so much importance to this government, as well.
I indicated that one of the problems was the price of the pump and pumphouse. I said that that was not the full reason. The other reason, as I referred to before, was the agreement with White Pass.
I said, as the Member correctly quoted, that reasonable financial limits is one criteria that we do try to adhere to, and will try to continue to adhere to, in the provision of services. Be they as necessary as fire fighting capabilities in communities, or back-up capabilities as in the case of Carcross, we will still try to do it within reasonable financial limits unless Members of the Legislature are prepared to vote millions of dollars in fire fighting expenditures for the territory as a whole beyond what is currently anticipated.
Mr. Phelps: We have a situation where we have a budget before us now of $1.7 million to upgrade Mayos water supply for the purpose of fire fighting, a $330,000 fire hall for Pelly Crossing, a $100,000 fire training facility for Destruction Bay, a $100,000 fire truck for Upper Liard, and today I am told by the fire chief that officials from the Ministers department came down and said there really was not any money for anything for Carcross regarding a fire pump. Is the Minister aware of that?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am not going to vouch for something that is third or fourth hand, such as the casual conversation the Member might have had with the fire chief for Carcross. I think we will determine for ourselves the position of the volunteers of Carcross.
Let me just say this: The Member is aware and all Members ought to be aware that Carcross has a fire truck and a fire hall. This is a back-up service. Pelly Crossing does not have a fire hall, Upper Liard does not have a fire hall or fire truck. We are trying to get services in all communities in the the Yukon, including Carcross. We are at the same time trying to ensure that there is back-up pumping capability in Carcross and the engineers in the department are working towards that end.
Question re: Housing study
Mr. McLachlan: The Minister gets somewhat testy when he is asked why something is not being done immediately on the housing shortage. I would like to remind him that we have had a discussion in this Legislature over a year ago on Opposition Day about difficulties in obtaining mortgage money, granted, in a rural situation. Given the fact that we had that discussion over a year ago, why did the study into financial barriers to home ownership in the Yukon just start last week?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This subject is perhaps more condusive to a full debate and I will be looking forward to it. The period last year and the year before in the experience of the Housing Corporation was that it was selling more units than it was constructing. In terms of its acquisitions, it was purchasing existing units rather than building new ones. That was a policy the Corporation adhered to. Unfortunately that policy exacerbated the housing shortage and so the government was desperate to try to make up for the inadequate policies of the previous corporation by trying to encourage new units to be built. One of the problems that we faced was that the unit allocation that we were allowed by CMHC was simply not being taken up. In one particular year, there were no units being constructed under the CMHC program so the government and the Housing Corporation, without a general manager, had to gear up to provide housing under that particular program.
It was much needed housing, I might say. But there are a number of things which had to be done and the Housing Corporation was trying to do them all at the same time.
Mr. McLachlan: That is a polite way of saying he really does not know why the study started a year or year-and-a-half late. I want to ask the Minister: is that study being conducted by a Yukon company that has knowledge of the problems of building homes here in the territory?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would suspect the study is being done by people who are knowledgeable about barriers to home ownership and would be aware of not only what happens elsewhere in the country so that we would not have to reinvent the wheel every time we get started on something like this, but also are technically competent in reviewing the situation. I do not know specifically where the home base of the group is but I will seek it for the Member. The government is doing as much as it can to alleviate the home ownership problem in the territory.
Mr. McLachlan: I do know that the firm is not from the Yukon; it is a Vancouver-based firm, and we are going to get Vancouver-based answers to a Yukon housing problem. My question is: why, given the seriousness of the situation, of which the Minister is well aware, did his Corporation go out and contract somebody from outside the territory to tell us why we have a problem.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: What absolute nonsense. I think what we really need here is a debate. I have never heard such nonsense coming from the mouth of a Member of this Legislature. We need to have people who are technically competent. We do not have to have people explain to us what our problems are. We have to if the Member for Faro will allow the answer to be made we determine the technical deficiencies that exist within the system; we have to provide for ourselves some answers of a technical nature which will alleviate the concerns we face, and that requires expertise. You cannot always find that locally; it is an unfortunate thing, but you cannot.
Question re: Housing study
Mr. Lang: The Minister of Housing has not answered the question from my good colleague, the Member for Faro. There was a motion passed in this House approximately one year ago that there was to be a study done on behalf of this Legislature not just the Minister, but this Legislature to have a look at the various options that could be made available to the people primarily outside Whitehorse for the purposes of getting capital to build their own home. I want to ask the Minister of Housing why this motion, passed by the people of the Yukon Territory, was such a low priority in the scheme of things for the Housing Corporation.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is not a low priority of this government. Presumably, it is not a low priority of the Legislature. It is very much a high priority of the YHC. We inherited a housing corporation that was so stricken from the pathetic policies of the previous government that we had to put the Corporation back into shape. We have been doing that in spades, and we have also been able to get a decent vote of confidence from the Auditor General on the operations of the Corporation as well.
Mr. Lang: I direct this to all Members of the House, and I see the Government Leader smugly smiling to himself.
There was a motion unanimously agreed upon and passed in this House that this was a priority and that it should be examined and brought forward. The Minister of Community and Transportation Services has been in that position for two and one half years. Why was that motion not acted upon after it was passed? Does this House mean nothing? Is is just a public relations campaign?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I find that last remark truly ironic coming from the Member who happened to once be sitting in the seat in which I am sitting right now.
When we assumed responsibility for the YHC, the Corporation was very much a stricken child when it was asked to perform certain basic functions for the people of this territory. It was in a poor position to carry out those functions. We have been desperately trying to get the Corporation into shape. We have indicated to the Board that barriers to homeownership and encouragement of the private sector for home construction were priorities. The Corporation had no General Manager for approximately a year. That was truly unfortunate, and we have, as a result, been trying to perform miracles to meet the housing needs of the people of the territory.
One of those expressed needs was barriers to home ownership. The YHC has taken upon itself now to ensure that the study is thoroughly made by people with expertise. I would hope that by the end of the calendar year some conclusions can be drawn from it, and some action can take place.
Mr. Lang: It is incredible. It is incredible. The Minister of Community and Transportation Services has just informed this House that in order to get expertise, a person has to be from Vancouver or some other point south. We have been informed in one Question Period that a Minister brought information into this House that was not accurate, and when that Minister comes back, she will admit that it was not. We have been informed by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services that he will go with the fire pump back in January. Now he informs this House that he is not going with it.
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question?
Mr. Lang: The Minister then informs us that the motion that was passed in the House last year was of no importance.
Speaker: Order, please. On a point of order.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The rules of Question Period clearly state that questions must be put and answers must be given. In this case, this second supplementary is not intended to put a question but to recap Question Period.
Speaker: Order, please. Member for Whitehorse Porter Creek East on the point of order.
Mr. Lang: On the point of order, and the Minister has said it very well. We have a responsibility to ask the questions. They have a responsibility to answer them, and we have not gotten one answer throughout the whole Question Period.
Speaker: I find there is no point of order, there is just conflict between Members.
Mr. Lang: For my final supplementary, could the Minister of Housing tell this House why the motion that was passed in this House just less than a year ago was not acted upon until last week?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The tender bid was approved last week, but it was acted upon in the summer when there were lengthy discussions with the Housing Corporation, once it was determined that they were in a position that they could proceed. There was a period during the summer when discussions did take place between myself and the corporation in some considerable detail on the question of home ownership. Not only did I reiterate the motion passed by Members of this House, but I also indicated the governments intentions to encourage home ownership to private sector construction, and it was consequently the Corporations desire to put the study open for competition. The best groups that they could find applied, and . . .
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: . . .they awarded it to the best-qualified consultant.
Speaker: Time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will now proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Bill No. 78: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 78, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Penikett.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that Bill No. 78, entitled An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Government Leader that Bill No. 78, entitled An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Yukon Income Tax Act to conform with changes that have already been made in the federal Act. This is required by the Income Tax Collection Agreement between the Government of Yukon and the federal government, whereby the federal government collects personal and corporation income tax on behalf of the Yukon Territory.
These amendments are of an extremely technical and complex nature and, in the main, deal with the following: the changes to Sections 271 and 5 and 8(3) and 7 provide for the computation of compound interest on overpayments. The amendment to Section 3(1) deals with the definition of tax otherwise payable for the purpose of overseas employment tax credit. The remaining amendments outline the duties of the Minister of National Revenue, establish a time limit for reassessment and deal with installment leases and refunds.
As I mentioned earlier, we have no choice but to amend our Act to correspond to the federal Act. In this respect we are no different than the bulk of the provinces who are also part of the federal income tax collection agreement system. When we get into Committee I am sure there may be questions by Members which I shall attempt to answer some which may have to take as notice if they are of a highly technical nature. I will make sure that I have assistance available in order to assist me in answering any questions that Members of the House may have. Thank-you.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 33: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 33, standing in name of the hon. Mr. Kimmmerly.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I move that Bill No. 33, entitled Societies Act be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 33, entitled Societies Act be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: This new Act will replace the existing Societies Act, which came into force in 1950, and has not been substantially changed since that date. This Act reflects the recent trend in other jurisdictions and is specifically in response to motions calling for a new Act made by the Association of Yukon Communities in recent years. There are a couple of features of this Act that I would like to highlight now. One is its brevity. It is less than half the length of the existing Act. Another feature is the simplicity of language and style. This Act is written in common, everyday language and a style of common usage. This new Act has a number of other desirable features. The Act provides for inclusion in the regulations of a set of standard bylaws, and I will file a draft copy of those standard bylaws at the Committee stage. This will save many societies from the onerous task of drafting their own bylaws. Yet, all societies will continue to have the flexibility of substituting the whole or any part of these standard bylaws with bylaws of their own choosing.
The Act provides for different classes of societies for the purpose of financial accountability. Unlike the existing act, which treats all societies alike, regardless of size, the new Act provides for categories and the draft regulations which I have tabled speak of those categories.
All societies will continue to disclose their financial status and operations to their memberships, but only the larger societies those with large revenues, or assets of a substantial value, or which receive large sums in government grants or public donations will be required to have a review of their financial statements by a professional accountant. The smaller societies will not even be required to file financial statements with the registrar.
In treating societies according to the magnitude and source of funds that they handle, strikes a proper balance between the wish to require a minimum of reporting to the government by the small societies, and the need to maintain an acceptable degree of accountability from those societies that receive large amounts in grants from government bodies or in donations from the public.
In the Yukon the revenues and assets of societies currently range all the way from less than $100 to more than $4 million. This new Act requires large societies to have their financial statements reviewed by a professional accountant, whereas the existing Act allows the members to waive by extraordinary resolution the appointment of an auditor. This change was made in the belief that it is desirable that societies which receive large amounts, in grants from government bodies or donations from the public, have this measure of independent professional scrutiny. A number of societies presently elect to engage the services of a professional accountant to conduct a review of their financial operation. Some societies even opt to have a full-fledged audit of their finances. A review costs approximately half of what an audit costs and this expenditure should not be perceived to be unduly onerous for the larger societies.
The new Act does not provide for the registration of extra-territorial societies as does the existing Act. There are good reasons for this. One is that the incorporation procedure under this new Act is so simple that it is no hardship for any society outside the Yukon to incorporate here. Another is that it is felt that societies which originate outside the Yukon should meet the requirements for societies. Societies should not enjoy greater privileges in their operations in the Yukon, than do our own Yukon societies.
In short, the Act allows all those extra-territorial societies which are already registered here to continue their registered status and allows them a very reasonable time to amend their bylaws to meet Yukon requirements.
The whole spirit of this legislation is to make incorporation and financial reporting and accountability easier, and to cut government red tape. Societies may incorporate for any lawful purpose other than carrying on a trade or business for a profit. Charitable groups, sports groups and educational groups are just a few of the kinds of groups which get together and wish incorporation. This new legislation is designed to encourage groups to incorporate and to make that procedure as simple as possible.
Mrs. Firth: I get very concerned when I get the feeling that the government is changing legislation just for the sake of changing it, as the Minister indicated. As to his comments about how this reflects recent trends in other jurisdictions, I hope the Minister is going to be prepared to answer what other jurisdictions have been examined, and why the law of that province or jurisdiction was appropriate for the Yukon, and why he really felt that the present legislation was outdated.
I have heard the Minister say there was one organization which had asked for Societies Act to be changed, and that was the A.Y.C. I will also be asking him how many other societies of the hundreds of societies that are registered with this government asked for this kind of change, or are even aware that this change is coming to pass. I hope the Minister will be able to help us out with that concern.
We will have some questions about some of the particular clauses. Some of the concerns we will raise are the powers that the registrar will have. Also, I will be looking for more detail about the different classes of societies and how the Minister sees this as being of benefit to the societies that are presently registered.
Lastly, I want to mention the Ministers comment about brevity and how that somehow is supposed to make the law better because it is brief because we all remember the brevity of Human Rights Act, and that did not necessarily make it a better Act or a better law for the people in the Yukon Territory.
So, I hope the Minister will take those questions as notice and be prepared to answer them when we enter the debate in Committee of the Whole and get more specific in a clause by clause debate.
Mr. McLachlan: There are a number of societies that have been filing statements year in and year out on the basis of the old Societies Act. I have some concern about them coming up to speed in familiarization with the new Act I see before us. Can the Minister soon bring back his ideas for proclamation. The regulations and the legislation do not specify at all what the intent is for official proclamation of the Act.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 21: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading Bill No. 21, standing in the name of the honourable Mr. Kimmerly.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I move that Bill No. 21 entitled An Act to Amend the Liquor Act be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 21 entitled An Act to Amend the Liquor Act be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: As Members will have already appreciated, there are a number of minor changes in this amending Act that are of a housekeeping nature. There are some other amendments that are far more substantial, which are changes in policy. I will go through the substantial changes.
The present liquor Act defines liquor as alcoholic beverages containing two and one half percent or greater alcohol by volume. This Act will change that to one half of one percent, which is a move that several provinces have already taken. I am informed that other provinces are in the process of taking that move. There have recently, in the last approximately two years or so, come on the market several products that contain alcohol in relatively small amounts, generally around one percent or so. These are advertised as dealcoholized beers and some wine coolers. Some are advertised as soft drinks.
It is well documented, especially in other provinces, that these liquors have been a source of substantial abuse among young people. It is for that reason, primarily, that the government is adopting the policy of treating these alcoholic beverages as liquor and selling them as our other alcoholic beverages are sold. We are proposing that measure to the Legislature now.
There are also sections in this Bill that are designed to meet problems in the enforcement of the under-age drinking law. Specifically, the possession of liquor by under-age people will be made an offence; it is not an offence presently. I believe the Yukon is the only jurisdiction in Canada where it is not an offence. There are also measures about under-age people being in clubs that serve alcoholic beverages, and the intent of those sections is to beef up the enforcement of the drinking laws with respect to those people who are under age.
Another principle is to make the law very clear about the practice of taxi drivers or taxicabs purchasing and delivering liquor for clients. It is documented here that that process has been the source of liquor to under-age people in the past and that liquor has been abused. It is also clear that some persons with serious alcohol problems are obtaining their liquor in this fashion, where they may be under the influence of alcohol already to such a degree that they would not be served in a licensed outlet or the liquor store. So this Bill will make it clear that that practice is, in fact, bootlegging.
A very important aspect of this Bill is that there is concern in some communities three I will mention: Teslin, Pelly Crossing and Old Crow about the control of public drinking in some areas of the community. I have recently received a submission from the interagency committee in Ross River about exactly this issue. The policy in the Bill is to empower Indian Bands to ask for local orders exactly as municipalities now do with respect to public drinking. Incidentally, for the information of Members, the town of Watson Lake has recently asked for a prohibition of public drinking there, and that order is in the process of being enacted.
The last major principle concerns the question of the selling of off-sales liquor after normal hours, or after hours when the bars are normally open. A considerable public discussion has occurred about this issue in past months, and it is clear that a majority of public opinion in Whitehorse favours the closing of off-sales liquor in the late hours of the evening.
The policy of the government here is to make it clear that the Liquor Board would have the authority to specify the hours of sales for off-sales in individual licenses, and that they would follow the policy of treating the communities differently and would consult with communities about the particular wish with respect to off-sales and follow what the Liquor Board defines to be the public interest in the individual communities.
Those are the major principles of this Bill.
Mr. Phillips: We find that some of the changes in this Bill are rather significant, and also find it the rationale of the Minister for making the changes very interesting. When we get into the clause by clause discussion, I am sure we will get the Minister to expand upon his ideas.
When I look at some of the areas, for instance the prohibition of drinking, I am concerned about where the Minister is going with that and if it is maybe more of a bandaid approach. I would like to hear the Ministers comments on that when we get to it. We look forward to the debate in the Committee of the Whole.
Mr. McLachlan: One of the areas I see of particular contention is the move by the Minister, in agreement with the Indian bands, to allow them to pass legislation respecting their ability to control drinking within their areas a lot more. What I am hoping the Minister can do when we get to the clause by clause discussion is to more correctly define the expression within the community. It is not clear at all what happens in situations where you do have a number of white people in very clearly what is mostly or almost entirely a native community. Will they be subject to this same prohibition order? What defines the boundaries of that community for the purpose of the order issued by the band?
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 16: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 16, standing in the name of the hon Mr. Kimmerly.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I move that Bill No. 16, entitled Private Investigators and Security Guards Act be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Ministerof Justice that Bill No. 16, entitled Private Investigators and Security Guards Act be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: This Act is a new Act and the purpose is to provide a means of licensing and regulating the activities of persons engaged in a security business, a private investigation business or burglar alarm business. The government here is responding to the needs of the industry, which already exists here. The industry has been consulted widely, both at the stage of the conception of the Bill and in the drafting of the Bill, and the draft has been circulated to all of those persons we know of who are carrying out these businesses and related businesses in the territory. I am pleased to report that we have a virtual unanimity of opinion as to the need for this measure and with regard to the specific principles contained in the Bill. It is a regulation that responsible members of the industry are calling for in order to better serve the general public.
Mrs. Firth: I will be looking forward to quite active debate with the Minister of Justice regarding this Bill. I recognize that this Bill has been drafted for some time, and if I am not mistaken was one that included locksmiths also. In his redrafting of the Bill, I see the Minister has left out locksmiths and even gone as far as to include them in the exemptions of this new Bill. I will be wanting to know just what the governments intentions are with this piece of legislation. I would like some idea of what mischief it is designed to remedy that the government felt that it was a priority to be brought forward at this sitting of the Legislature. I listened to the Ministers comments very closely about the consultative process that he has gone through and I will be asking more questions about that.
I also will be very interested in knowing whether the territorial government employees will be under the jurisdiction of this legislation and, again, the same questions about whether it was designed according to what is present in other provinces and if the legislation is Yukon-specific and, if not, why it was deemed that that particular choice was appropriate for the Yukon Territory.
I am going to be asking many questions about the costs associated with the legislation, in terms of person years and implementation and administration of this Act. My interpretation, as a lay person, is that this Act is going to have a lot more impact on Yukoners, in general, than the Minister would indicate in his second reading speech. I will be looking forward to some very active debate about that aspect of this legislation.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Pleased I am to rise today to discuss the Private Investigators and Security Guards Act. I have been waiting for this opportunity for a number of years. As one who has been an officionado of the fictious world of the private investigator, I view this recognition of the profession as long overdue. The image that many Members of this House may have of the private investigator is that of a middle aged man with a slouch hat, a dingy office and a bottle of scotch in the desk drawer. Such is the power of the movies. They might think of a wholesome athletic type, like Thomas Magnum. Such is the power of television. I suppose that some might think in terms of the Hardy Boys. That is the power of Christmas gifts from elderly aunts and uncles.
The world of the private investigator is much more diverse and includes such very different detectives as Sherlock Holmes, Lord Peter Wimsey, Peter Duluth, Mr. Tibbs and Kate Fansler. The profession of the private investigator is an example of democracy in action as it is open to men and women of all races and ethnic groups; it cuts all class lines and is a haven for practitioners of all religions possibly too much of a haven, as there is now a well developed sub-genre of detective fiction that features private investigators as men and women of the cloth. What G.K. Chesterton innocently started with Father Brown now includes Rabbi Small, the Very Reverend Mr. Randolph and Bishop OCasey. The congregation of religious PIs is fast becoming crowded.
The world of private investigation has always been exceptionally and admirably open to women. It is truly an equal opportunity employer. Perhaps the most notable female detective would be Miss Jane Marple, the aged resident of St. Mary Mead, but strong forceful women, such as Theodolinda (Doll) Bonner, a close friend of Nero Wolfe and Cordelia Grey, the heroine of An Unsuitable Job for a Woman have also made their presence known. And of course, we are all familiar with that sleuth in the sporty red sportster, Nancy Drew.
Private investigators must often draw upon their own heritage and background in order to deal with the enigmas of the modern world. Perhaps that is why Jim Leaphorn, a Navajo detective, is able to solve cases that puzzle the police sent out by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Harry Kemelmans rabbi, David Small, looks to the Talmud for assistance. And of course, Superman often reflects upon Krypton. We can all learn something from the manner in which private investigators call upon traditional learning to help solve puzzles.
It has often been said that detective fiction thrives only in democracies. While the drawing room detectives of Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers are familiar to many of us, the private investigator is the subject of study in many more countries.
I am sure our friends, the Members for Mayo and Porter Creek East would not mind my pointing out the importance of Scotland, which has offered us P.D. James Adam Dalgleish, Reginald Hills Inspector Dalziel, Ngaio Marshs Roderick Alleyn and by heritage, Philip Marlowe. Perhaps the suspicion borne of stubborn Presbyterian egalitarianism is a driving force for these investigators.
American PIs are often unrepentant capitalists, but social democratic states have private investigators, too. The streets of Holland and Scandinavia have been well-trod by the gumshoe. The Martin Beck mysteries, by Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowall, have introduced countless readers to the political processes of Sweden. In Holland, Nicholas Freelings Van der Valk, who is now sadly deceased, and the inimitable combination of De Gier and Grijipstra, ferreted out secrets, but they also guarded the rights of the little people. The private investigator is an individual who offers an alternative to the solution offered by the officials of law and order. The private investigator is one who is not satisfied with The Official Version. Although much of the literature of the private investigator is in translation, I have yet to see any contribution from Chile or Cambodia.
So, Mr. Speaker, as we said before, perhaps only in a democracy, capitalist or socialist, is there a place for the private investigator.
What this legislation before us today does, is recognize the role of private investigators and security guards, and at the same time protects its integrity by setting up a licensing system so that not just any person can claim to be fulfilling that roll. Unfortunately, in the past, and in this country, self-styled private investigators and security guards have taken on some ignoble tasks as hired muscle and strike breakers.
This legislation make it clear that the Yukon government is not going to condone those who bring dishonour to the calling of PI. Definitions of private investigator and security delineate what those professions are.
We believe that such a licensing scheme is a responsible way to regulate the profession. Those of you who are familiar with the works of Dashiel Hammet, and in particular his novel, Red Harvest, will know what can occur when a PI goes rogue. In that book, a private investigator who had recently been released from prison is hired by one faction in a town at war with itself. By indulging in some double crossing, the PI manages to have the entire town wipe itself out and he walks away with the spoils of his victory.
Although this may be considered a suitable population control mechanism by some madmen in some locales, it would not be appropriate in Yukon and we would naturally hate to see its like happen here.
Red Harvest was one of Hammets first novels and it was perhaps the reason why his later sleuths were so concerned about their licences. Both the Continental Op and Sam Spade were vulnerable to police threats that, if they did not cooperate, their licences would be lifted. In fact, in The Maltese Falcon, when Sam Spade is propositioned by the wicked Bridget OShaughnessy, who has murdered Sams partner and undoubtedly many others, he declines on the ground that if he ran away with a murderess it would mean his licence, sooner or later.
Raymond Chandlers Phillip Marlowe also put great stock in his licence and in The Big Sleep and The High Window originally entitled The Brasher Doubloon both pitted Marlowe in a race against time to solve a mystery before his licence was lifted. Luckily, in each case he was successful.
I note that, although this legislation provides that a licence either for an individual security guard or private investigator or for an agency be prominently displayed, there is no provision for an impressive badge that can be flipped down to impress a reluctant witness. However, perhaps this will be a development which emanates from within the profession.
It is with some regret that I see this Act limits the ranks of those who can hold themselves out as private investigators. An RCMP officer or a Peace Officer acting within the authority of his or her appointment does not fall within the ambit of the legislation; neither does an insurance investigator, which would disentitle such sleuths as Dave Brandstetter, or V. I. Warshawski, a woman whose field of expertise is investigating commercial frauds. Perhaps the greatest pity is that barristers and solicitors in the regular practice of their profession do not fall under this legislation. Once again, Perry Mason must look to Paul Drake to do the dirty work for him.
However, the exclusion of these other sleuthing vocations is probably for the best. The image of the private investigator, our modern white knight, or as Ross MacDonald wrote, a slumming angel, should be kept as pristine as possible, and confusion with other professions would doubtless lead to the degradation of that unique quality that makes one a PI. That unique quality, I believe, is well served by this legislation.
I am pleased to support this Bill.
Mr. Nordling: I hope that that speech was not an attempt in any way to minimize the significance or importance of this Bill, and I would like to take the opportunity, on behalf of the Government Leader, to thank Leslie McCullough for her input into this very entertaining, but unnecessary, speech.
Mr. Lang: I, too, as a Member, want to rise to express my concerns about the seriousness of the legislation before us. I think that it has to be given due consideration in respect to the clause by clause examination of it. I seems to me that, in view of events and how they have gone forward in the last couple of days within at least the one area of the Department of Health and Human Resources, perhaps they should be required to have a licence to become private investigators, in view of the actions that have taken place.
Mr. McLachlan: It is rather difficult to rise to reply to a speech that the Government Leader has given like that, which sounds for all the world like a passage adapted from Harlequin Romance. What we have seen and heard this afternoon is the Government Leaders secret passion to really be a script writer for Universal Pictures or Columbia Pictures. If he wants to pursue that avocation, I am sure that Members on this side of the House would more than accommodate him, come the next election.
I hope that the Minister of Justice could bring forward a number of things that are not indicated as to why they are in or out of the Bill when we get into clause by clause discussion of it. He has not indicated who the registrar is to be. No mention whatsoever is made of a ban or a contradiction on colours of uniform. There is a problem if a security firm has blue.
We now have an interesting situation where the Minister responsible for human rights is insisting upon compulsory fingerprints. I would like some explanation of the reason behind that.
In the area of guards employed with an armoured car service, who determines the competency of those individuals who are carrying firearms? Who is the person who determines that?
In the legislation, it says the holder of an agents license shall be issued with an identification card signed by the registrar. Will each field investigator who is employed by the agency be in possession of an individual identification card as members of the RCMP do, or what is the method if one is challenged in the field, where that individual can identify his employer and the reason for being caught in someones backyard at 12:00 oclock at night looking through a bedroom window?
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 31: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 31, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Kimmerly.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I move that Bill No. 31, entitled Torture Prohibition Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 31, entitled Torture Prohibition Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The specific reason for, and the reason for the timing of, this Bill is that Canada wishes to proclaim a United Nations agreement in Canada. The United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1975, a declaration concerning the protection of all persons from being subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Canada has signed this convention that was on August 3, 1975 and hopes to ratify the convention in 1987.
It is necessary because of the federal nature of the country that provinces that have jurisdiction over property and civil rights pass legislation that is contemplated by the United Nations agreement. This Act will be evidence of Canadas obligation under the convention.
Specifically, the Act is a succinct statement of the law. It establishes a new principle of law in terms of torture and clearly gives a right to compensation to both persons tortured and the family of persons who are tortured.
I would draw Members attention to the 12 point program for the prevention of torture sponsored by Amnesty International, that organization with a truly unique and honourable record in the prevention of torture. Amnesty International has these points concerning the prevention of torture: There should be an official condemnation of torture by the highest authorities in every country of the world. This Bill will serve that principle.There should also be limits on detention incommunicado and there should not be secret detention. There should be safeguards during the interrogation and custody of any individual. There should be an independent investigation of reports of torture. There should be no use of any statements extracted under torturous conditions. There should be a prohibition of torture in the domestic law of all countries. There should be prosecution of alleged torturers. There should be training procedures of law enforcement officials to determine the limits of torture. There should be compensation and rehabilitation for cases where torture occurs. There should be an international response to torture and there should be ratification of international instruments.
It may seem farfetched that there might be torture within our jurisdiction, however, I would submit to all Members that because torture exists in the world, there is a responsibility on all citizens to beware of the 12 point approach of Amnesty International and we should do our part. We can be proud that Canada is a leader among nations in this respect.
Mr. Phillips: There are many pressing things that we have to face in the Yukon, and one of them is child care. We see nothing on this legislative calendar to deal with the child care issue, which is pressing and important. We have a Bill, such as this, which is more of a statement than anything else. I get a little disappointed that this is the kind of thing that this government considers its highest priority. On a lighter note, I suppose that if this Bill had been in place already and we were abiding by it, we could have considered the last speech by the Government Leader as torture.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: On that note, I do not find torture a laughing matter. I am sorry if Members opposite, in reference to my previous speech, do not recognize or appreciate my own bizzare sense of humour. I do realize that one can have a sense of humour when discussing serious matters. I do not accept the view put forth by the other Member that torture is not a serious question in the world today. It is, and it is as worthy of this house as it is of any other Legislature.
I am going to begin by declaring my interest in this question. Until I wearied of writing letters to various dictators around the world, I was a member of Amnesty International and have been, as I think most people who are acquainted with the facts or will be, concerned with this issue. As the Minister of Justice said, this legislation signifies our acknowledgment and acceptance of the United Nations Convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. We have to recognize that torture is torture, no matter whom performs it or what reason they give for doing it.
This means that torture cannot be condoned because it is performed by official authorities, for example the military or the police who claim to protect their society. We must be especially vigilant in reviewing the actions of these empowered groups. Torture cannot be condoned on an ends-justifying-the-means basis anywhere. To do so would be to capitulate what is most base in ourselves as human beings. It must be recognized that torture is not specific to any particular type or ideology. It has occurred and is still occurring under every type of political system. Nor is torture endemic to any geographic region. It is a myth that torture is confined to Third World countries and does not affect us.
I want to cite a few examples to indicate that torture can be very close to home and is a matter that ought to concern all people, especially legislators in the civilized world.
Torture has been documented in the following countries: Mexico. Amnesty International has detailed cases of individuals being tortured by the police, usually for political or trade union activity, although torture also occurs in rural regions with relation to local disputes. Torture is usually to obtain a confession or admission of some sort. Cases detailed include repeated and savage beatings, submersion in water, burnings, electric shock, introducing carbonated water into the nasal passage, and sexual abuse.
In Israel, Palestinian detainees, including those being held on suspicion of committing non-political crimes, have been beaten, burnt and kept in total sensory isolation for up to three weeks. In Ireland, although the situation has improved over the past few years due mainly to the scrutiny of groups like Amnesty International and the activism of police surgeons who have gone public with what they perceive as abuse there have been documented cases of British soldiers beating prisoners, submerging their heads in water, putting plastic bags over prisoners heads until they pass out, burnings with cigarettes and placing detonators near prisoners ears so as to permanently deafen them.
There have been many documented cases of the secret police detaining and torturing those involved in the Catholic Church in Poland and in the trade union movement Solidarity. Torture is routinely explained there as being self-inflicted. Some improvements have been seen recently with three secret police officers being convicted of torturing and murdering a Catholic priest in a case that was reported around the world.
Although the Italian government has maintained an anti-torture policy and does prosecute those against whom the accusation has been made, there have been cases documented there that suggest the practice still continues. One particularly horrifying Italian practice, popularized by the fascists, is to beat prisoners directly above the liver and kidneys and then to force them to drink vast quantities of water so that these organs fail.
Those who have seen the film Brubaker or other documentaries know that, although the United States constitution outlaws cruel and unusual punishment, torture and even murder occurs within the American penal system. The magnitude of the problem is so great that the Supreme Court of the State of Texas ordered the entire prison system to be administered by a court-appointed controller in order to rid it of some of these abuses.
In this country, Canada, Amnesty International has complained about the treatment of prisoners at Archembault Prison following the 1982 riots there. The complaint of treatment included spraying mace directly into the mouths of prisoners, beating them, keeping them deprived of clothes in unheated cells for up to three weeks, and depriving them of sleep and adulterating their food.
Last Wednesday, the City of Montreal was ordered to pay $14,000 to a 17 year old deaf-mute who, in 1985, was detained by a police officer. During the interrogation of the youth, which took place entirely within the officers car, he hit the boy with a flashlight, pointed a gun at him, nearly suffocated him, and banged his head against the doorframe of the vehicle.
We have to fight our own complacence and the assurance that the type of behaviour only happens to those who deserve it or those who are too far away from us to do anything about it.
I can report that there are people living in the Yukon today now who have been tortured. Those people will see this legislation, and our endorsement of the U.N. principles and Canadas Act, as being an act of civilization. We are doing this at the request of the national government and I believe we should do so sincerely and wholeheartedly. Torture must be recognized as one of the evils of humanity and one of the bars to civilization, and I pray that our endorsement of this international covenant will go some way to eradicating this evil.
Mrs. Firth: I rise to speak to the second reading of this Bill because I recall some of the comments that Ministers have made when Yukoners have come forward with requests for specific changes to specific laws that exist now in the Yukon Territory. I find the comment that the Minister of Justice made about this Act particularly interesting. His comment today was that, because torture exists in the world, we should do our part. Well, nobody disagrees with that. There will be those of us in the Legislature this afternoon who understand why this Bill has been brought forward, there will be some members of the community who I am sure the Government Leader will let know that this legislation has been passed the members of the community he referred to who had suffered from torture. But I think of the comments made by the Ministers, particularly the Minister of Health and Human Resources, regarding the heavy legislative agenda of this government. I would like to know what this government is going to be prepared to do about the heavy suicide rate that Yukoners are facing, particularly teenage suicide. How are they going to explain to the public that the Mental Health Act that they have been promising for a year-and-a-half now, which may help address that situation and which deals with Yukoners how are they going to explain to the public that they have not done their part to address that issue, but that this one had priority over that one? How is this government going to explain to the public that they couldnt make changes to the child care legislation and laws that this territory has, because this Act takes precedence over that concern that involves Yukoners. I say there is going to be a handful of people that is going to understand this issue and who will understand why this legislation is here. How is the government going to explain to those parents who feel that the child care is in a turmoil, those parents who are parents of teenaged suicide this Minister and this government has done nothing to address this issue. How are they going to explain to them that in the heavy legislative agenda, that this takes precedence over things that involve Yukoners in their everyday lives.
Speaker: The hon Member will close debate if he now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Mr. Nordling: I feel that I have to respond. I have raised the serious concern myself about the statistics in the Yukon with respect to suicide, and especially amongst our youth. I am challenging the government to do something about that. We are all happy to do our part because torture exists in the world and it is fine for the Government Leader to stand up and make great speeches about torture and describe methods in graphic detail for all Members of the House, but I challenge him to speak to his Minister of Health and Human Resources and do something about the serious problem and the staggering statistics that we have right here in the Yukon.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I am moved to rebut fairly briefly. The assertion is made by three Conservative Members opposite that the fact that this Bill is before us indicates that this is the first priority of this government and this matter is by implication a greater priority than suicide or day care or other matters. It is unfortunate that those Members have taken that view. It is certainly the case that there are many priorities before Members of this House, but by their statements it denigrates or degrades the importance of this particular measure. This measure is coming forward at this time because of international obligations. I stated that earlier. To imply that we should not consider it until we have considered other important measures is downgrading the importance of this substantial measure.
It has been stated that the implications of this will only be understood by a handful of people. I think that is an elitist attitude that I do not share, however, it is clear that the attitude of Members opposite and the statements that they have made is absolutely nothing to improve the understanding of everyone of these issues and it is unfortunate that those remarks were made.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 90: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading: Bill No. 90, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Kimmerly.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I move that Bill No. 90, entitled An Act to Amend the Elections Act be now read a second 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 read a second time. Minister of Justice?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: It gives me some pleasure to be introducing this Bill. I rather expect it will pass unanimously. It is certainly the policy of the New Democratic Party that the voting age be reduced from 19 to 18 and I understand from both media reports and the private members bill, which is on the Order Paper, that that is also the policy of the Conservatives. The Liberal party of course can speak for itself on this issue.
This is not an issue that is as simple as it appears. After the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was passed, the government of the day, which was the previous government before May of 1985, did an analysis of existing legislation in order to identify inconsistencies of the Yukon legislation and the Charter. This Act the Elections Act was identified in fact in at least two areas. One area was the age of voting and another, a significant area, was the length of the residency period to qualify a voter to vote. The residency period was the subject of a court challenge that was successful at the first instance and overturned on appeal. It is certainly arguable, either way, that the one year residency is unconstitutional, or contrary to the rights of all citizens to vote. However, we now have a Yukon Court of Appeal decision that states that the one year residency is a reasonable limit on the rights of all individuals.
This is a similar kind of measure. It is the situation in most of the provinces today, that the voting age for territorial or provincial elections, and also, incidentally, for municipal elections, is the age of majority. In the Yukon the age of majority is 19.
The argument goes that there must be some age in the law, and it is consistent with the policies in other bills. It is consistent with common sense that the age of majority and the age of entitlement be the same. The age of entitlement to vote for federal elections is 18. There is an argument that it is desirable to have the same age to entitle a person to vote in all federal, territorial, provincial and municipal elections. It is the view of the government that that argument is the stronger argument. It may well be that it is defensible in court, and it is, by implication, the view of other provinces that the age of majority is not contrary to the Charter.
It was the case that with the previous government, in its determination of what laws would be changed as a consequence of the Charter, this law was not changed at that time. This law was considered as a matter that was agruable both ways, or it is uncertain as to what is the proper limit. It is predictable that somewhere in Canada, where the provincial or territorial age is higher than 18, this law will be challenged at some time. To change the law now will add a measure of certainty to elections. That is desirable.
It is also not beyond the realm of probability that a 16 or a 17 year old will challenge the law on the basis of discrimination on the basis of age. That is a possibility, but that is substantially less likely if the provinces, municipalities and the federal government have established the age at 18. For the certainty of elections, we need a fixed age as opposed to some sort of a majority test, which would be a nightmare to administer.
The impact of this change will mean that at the time of the next election, and for future elections, those individuals between 18 and 19 will be entitled to vote. They otherwise would not be eligible. I do not have a prediction as to the precise number, but it will be several hundreds of individuals around the territory.
Mr. Phelps: Of course, we put the Bill forward first, because it is the clear policy of our party and in fact we have a resolution passed unanimously by our party, which resolution was put forward by the youth wing of the party. We, of course, are in support of the Bill. We are rather surprised that the government suddenly decided it wanted to put it forward. We personally intended to, but surprisingly enough they tabled the Bill on their own and they did not mention it in the Speech from the Throne, although they mentioned all the other legislation they were going to bring forward. So we were taken a bit by surprise, taken aback, that this government is so eager to try to gain brownie points that it would usurp the private Members bill, but we will, of course, support it.
Mrs. Firth: I just want to add to what the Leader of the Opposition said about the Conservative youth wing of our party bringing forward this motion at the spring, 1987, convention, at which time we had six youth delegates get up and speak very emotionally about the law being changed to allow them to vote at the age of 18 years. I think we have to recognize that that is an extremely important and exciting time for young persons to know they can influence party policy and can have some impact on changing the law of the land, so to speak, by a resolution brought forward and by a Member having the ability to come into this Legislative Assembly and amend a law, or change a law.
We feel very strongly on this side about this position. We do not express doubts, as the Minister of Justice has. I would like to just reaffirm what the Leader of the Opposition has said. We had no indication from the government that they were going to proceed in this direction. It was not mentioned in the legislative program in the Throne Speech that the government was ...
Some Member: It was mentioned under other bills.
Mrs. Firth: ...I understand from the Member for the Watson Lake/Campbell riding that he is saying his Bill was drafted before ours. I do not think we have to get into a little picky detail. Our Bill was drafted back after the convention in April; the Bill was ready to go, and the Member is saying let us all take credit.
This government really amazes me. We have had the Minister of Justice stand up and pontificate, in the way that he does, about how important this was and how strongly they feel about these young people having the vote and how important this was. Then they take it and mention it under other bills in the Throne Speech, and they expect people to buy that dribble?
That is just ridiculous. Let us give credit where credit is due. The credit is due with the young people who came forward and asked to exercise their franchise and their rights when it came to voting in this Yukon Territory, because they want a say in what is going to happen to their future. It is not them who are going to take credit and it is not us. It is the young people of this territory.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 76: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 76, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Kimmerly.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I move that Bill No. 76, entitled An Act to Amend the Legal Profession Act, be now read a second 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 read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: This is a very simple measure involving one single and simple change. That involves the fact that, in the present law, lawyers are exempt from the requirement to have a business license when they open an office and carry out business within a municipality. This measure does not exist for doctors, does not exist for engineers, does not exist for architects, does not exist for dentists, and I could name a whole host of others. The argument for the exemption is generally that lawyers do business around the territory and not simply within a municipality. Of course, that argument can be made for doctors, dentists, engineers, private investigators, or for all the other professions and trades.
The Association for Yukon Communities has noticed this inequity, or this special privilege, for lawyers and has requested that the government treat lawyers along with other businesses. The policy of the government is that we will do exactly that.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Porter: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Mr. Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chairman: Committee of the Whole will now come to order. We will recess for 15 minutes.
Chairman:The Committee of the Whole will not come to order.
Bill No. 4 Public Libraries Act
On Clause 1
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The opening remarks that were made during second reading sum up a lot of what was necessary to say in terms of principles of the bill and what the bill says. It is a very simply worded piece of legislation and is very short and to the point. It effectively deals with the principles at hand, that is to provide certainty for community library associations around the territory. It defines and delineates the responsibilities of volunteer library boards, the community library associations and the Director of Library Services.
The Member for Riverdale South expressed a concern about the lack of an explanatory note accompanying the Act. It was felt that the Act was short and was put into common language and was therefore understandable. There was less of a need for explanatory notes. I do take the point that sometimes a shorthand version of what the Act is all about is often handy, and maybe some thought should be made to putting it down in one sentence.
There was a question respecting the role of the Director of Library Services. That would be set out in the regulations to be tabled for the consideration of the House.
To generally get a perspective of how the regulations will be drafted they are not approved by Cabinet but nevertheless they do give the departments and my intention with respect to regulations for the future. The regulations themselves are meant to address a number of things and most of the responsibilities that are outlined in the regulation-making section of the Act are covered now in the draft regulations. There are a few areas where there will have to be some further work done and I am referring particularly to regulations falling under the provisions of subject (a) and (g). I would hope that we could have those done within the next month or so.
The director, him or herself, will be responsible for carrying out the provisions of the Act as stated in the Act and draft regulations. That is the intention at this point, and it is also to ensure that the library system itself works, to ensure that books keep moving from library to library in a smooth fashion, and to ensure that all of the libraries share resources and to conduct the centralized purchasing and cataloguing that is currently in place.
The responsibility of the Community Library Boards is stipulated quite specifically in the Act and in the regulations. Basically the Bill itself is the result of approximately two years of public consultations in order to try to firm up and to legitimize that which is common practice around the territory. There was and has been development of a decentralized nature of library boards and volunteer library associations around the territory for a number of years, and this is merely an attempt to clarify and set the rules and responsibilities out in legislation and insure that the attending responsibilities and accountability are defined as well.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps a point of clarification for the Members. I understand we will be going through the Bill as we have in the past. Are we going to be dealing with the regulations at all in a separate context or are they just there for our information?
Chairman: They are just here for information.
Mrs. Firth: Can I ask specific questions about the regulations then or bring forward a concern that I may have about the regulations?
Chairman: I do not know, to be honest with you. If the Minister responsible for the Bill is willing to speak to them, then it would be acceptable.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: There is a motion on the Order Paper that contemplates a method for dealing with these regulations. It is very difficult to be talking about regulations before the Bill is accepted; if there are changes in the Bill, there will most probably be changes in the regulations to correspond to those changes.
The regulations can be an assistance in understanding the complete policy of the government with respect to the legislation and the regulations, and it is primarily for that reason that they are provided for informational purposes. I would suggest that it is beyond the scope of the Committee of the Whole, when considering Bills, to consider clause by clause the proposed regulations if the Bill is passed.
I would also argue from a public policy perspective. If the regulations get the kind of scrutiny here that Bills get, and especially if that occurs in an argumentative way, then the policies of government in the long term and I do not say this government, I mean all governments will be not to produce these until after the bill is accepted, for obvious reasons. I would submit it is appropriate to talk about the general policies and about which policies might be in regulations and which in the law proper, but not to entertain specific questions or clause by clause discussion of proposed regulations in this Committee of the Whole.
Mrs. Firth: Now that we have had a legal opinion, I would like to give just an average, general, laymans point of view. The intention was not to scrutinize every aspect of the regulations in a confrontational, combative way. However, when I look at the Bill and the regulations attached having had the regulations brought into the Legislature and made available to us am I wrong in assuming that in approving the Bill it could also be said that we approved the regulations?
Mr. Chairman is shaking his head saying no, so that does not necessarily mean that if we agree with the Bill that we are also agreeing with the regulations. Therefore, is it fair to come to a section or a clause, such as the volunteer branch library in the Bill could I ask some specific questions about the regulations that are attached for that section of the Bill, and how they would be affected in the context of the Bill? Or how people would be affected in the context of the Bill.
Chairman: I dont see how we have a departure from what we have done in the past.
Mrs. Firth: Yes, I agree.
Chairman: That same question has been asked before. Only this time, the regulations not being part of the Bill, and these are they are draft form. So, specifically looking at those regulations I think would be out of order.
Mr. Lang: I just want to get it clarified in my mind here. You are saying it is out of order to discuss them clause by clause and that is not our purpose. We understand that the regulations are by Order in Council and go through Cabinet and that is the responsibility of the government. But I want to get it clear in my mind. We do have the ability to refer to regulations in general or a policy section that is related in the regulations, saying, How will it affect a certain area and how this particular portion of the law is going to be applied. Is my assumption correct? I want to get your ruling clear here.
Mrs. Firth: If the Minister wanted to say something about the regulations?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The reason why the regulations were brought forward was to give a flavour of what was anticipated to be the regulations section. In a general sense, if we can avoid going through clause by clause we will not break the rules and no-one will be upset and I am sure the points will get across in one way or another, if we have a mind for it.
Mrs. Firth: It was not raised to be confrontational or controversial or whatever. I wanted to get the rules so that we all understood what the rules were.
I appreciated the Ministers comment about the explanatory note. The shortness of the Bill really does not mean anything, because some of the little Bills that are one or two lines still have explanatory notes, and I know the Minister is going to have explanatory notes on any subsequent Bills he brings in the House. It is just a note that really sums up the intention of the Act and then we know exactly where the government is coming from, and what their direction is with the law they are going to be making for the people of the Yukon.
As to the question of the Director of Library Services what I had asked the Minister about was in the context of whether or not it was going to be a new person year. I do not believe we have a director per se now unless there is someone who does the job in a similar capacity to what the director is going to be required to do. That was what I wanted to know. Is this going to be a new person year? Could the Minister tell me if there are any more new person years attached to this legislation, and what the potential cost is of this new piece of legislation?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There should be no initial costs, either in person year terms or in financial terms, as a result of the passage of this particular piece of legislation. I am sure there will be requests by community library boards for increased hours of operation and that sort of thing, and those requests will be ongoing. The library boards now will be in more of a position to determine salary scales and things like that in accordance with their own needs than they were before. As was the case this year, there was an increase of hours of operation, I believe, in Haines Junction and Faro and that would mean an increase in cost. But this legislation itself should not require any additional expenditures or an addition to the person year complement. What would simply happen would be that somebody in the Libraries Branch would be designated as the director.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us if there was an analysis done of potential financial implications as a result of this legislation?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There was a very thorough analysis done. On the face of it, it is fairly obvious that there ought not to be any increase in costs. Although, if some board or group of people comes along and want to set up a community library board and the government decides that under the legislation they would wish to designate this group of people as a library board, then that would mean an increase in costs. But that would have to be approved through the normal budget cycles. In itself, if no increase in service was the order of the day and if, as is anticipated, the present library associations are converted to community library boards, there ought to be no increase in costs whatsoever.
Mrs. Firth: There has been a problem in the past where volunteer library boards have been set up: as the demands grew on that volunteer board, a demand grew for more assistance from the government. Two or three years ago that was experienced in some of the communities, and Faro was one of them. As the population grew, and as the demand for more library services grew, the demand for more money was there. That is the concern that I have with the legislation. If the Minister says it has to go through the normal budgetary procedure, who would be giving the final say as to whether that money would be approved? Would it be the Minister?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Ultimately, to be technical and picayune about it, the final authority would be the Legislature. The Management Board would have to give its approval, as well as the Minister. The normal financial controls would be in place. There will requests for increased services, I am sure, even among the group of community library boards today. There is a constant demand for increased hours of operation for the libraries. That is not going to be reduced, in any way at all, by passage of this Act. Those demands will continue to made, and the government will have to make various decisions as to how much in the way of resources they are going to dedicate to this priority.
This Act speaks more to the control of the resources at the community level than how much is to be dedicated to the community.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell what the government is presently spending on this activity?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not have the budget figures here. I will provide the Member with some information regarding the cost of funding of all library boards and volunteer library associations.
On clause 2
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Clause 2 simply provides for the appointment of someone responsible for the library system and for the central library where that person would work. It would be the headquarters for the library and would include that which is currently a part of library services, the Technical Services Branch. The Whitehorse Public Library would be the designated headquarters and, technically, would be designated the central library in the Act.
Mrs. Firth: What will the reporting relationship be between the director and the volunteer librarians? I understand the volunteer librarians will have their own authority, and the director will also have their own authority.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There will be a fairly close working relationship between them as exists today. The volunteer librarian will be setting the hours for the library, because those persons is going to have to be dedicating his or her own time to ensure that the library is open. They will be responsible for establishing their own policies and procedures consistent with the rules of the central library.
Mrs. Firth: With respect to the particular area of the regulations that says the director will be appointing volunteer librarians, does that mean that that volunteer librarian is responsible to that director, or will they have a fairly autonomous authority?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There will not be a lot of autonomy apart from establishing the hours of service. What is going to have to happen is what is happening currently. The director speaks to the volunteer librarian, talks about the housing of the collection, talks about the care of the collection, makes the rules for the volunteer library with respect to borrowing procedures, et cetera, and provides some advice to the volunteer librarian as to what that person can do to increase the programming, to the limits of the abilities of the volunteer librarian.
Mrs. Firth: As I understand it, as I read the legislation and the regulations, I still feel there is a central control and a control by the director, and the autonomy of the communities and the volunteer librarians are really incumbent on the approval of the director. I think the regulations reflect that. Many things are subject to approval by the director. We will just have to see if the communities feel they have more control over their authority. It will depend on the kind of relationship the directors have with the communities and with the volunteer librarians that are going to be appointed.
Most of the regulations reflect that the director has the ability to take charge of certain aspects and operations of the community library. To me, that still seems to be quite a central control. If the Minister feels I am wrong, could he enlighten me on that.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Firstly, with respect to volunteer library boards, we are talking about very small communities, primarily, and erratic levels of service, depending on the degree of vigor of a particular volunteer librarian. We are also talking about significant resources in that a collection has to be housed on behalf of the public and protected, so there is a measure of authority that is vested in the Director of Library Services in situations such as that. If the Volunteer Library Association wants to evolve to a community library, then that community can therefore take more control over the operations of the library. Typically, in communities such as Keno, Ross River, Pelly Crossing, Old Crow, Burwash and Beaver Creek, the degree of enthusiasm for the actual operations of the library waxes and wanes and is very dependent upon the good offices of the volunteer. There has to be some continuity and that continuity has to come from some place. We are suggesting that it come from the Director, who is ultimately responsible for the collection.
As I say, there is the out that if the community is really gung-ho on operating its own board and demonstrates it has the driving ambition to do so then they can certainly make application to become a full community library. The community libraries do allow the community to take a fairly significant step in controlling the destiny of that library. They will be responsible for the hours of service, which they currently are not. They will be responsible for programs offered and, of course, they have always done that. They can engage in story time and book fairs, and all sorts of things, to heighten interest of community people in their library. They will be responsible for staff training and supervision for remuneration for the staff, for operational policies and procedures, and I think that that in itself is a fair degree of responsibility.
If, of course, they fail or neglect their basic, fundamental obligations as a community library, then surely there has to be some fallback for the government to ensure that the resources placed in a community library are not lost for lack of attention. I suggested in the draft regulations that perhaps if the board fails to meet often enough and I am suggesting at least once every couple of months or if they do not adhere to proper financial accounting procedures, which is the minimum to be expected of some group handling public money, and if they decide themselves that they would like to give up the ghost, then those would be grounds for the Director assuming responsibility and taking charge.
But the Director cannot, willynilly, come in and take charge because they happen to disagree with a particular policy, if they disagree with the hours of operation or anything else; that is very much for the community to decide for itself. So I think it is a decent balance, given the public expenditures involved role and given the desire by communities to take more control of their own library operations.
Clause 2 agreed to
On clause 3
Mrs. Firth: The members are going to be appointed by the Executive Council Member. Is there going to be a chairperson, or who will be appointing that individual?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would suspect, in this particular case, that the Advisory Board, as currently exists with library advisory boards, would be appointing their own chair, but it would not be up to the Minister to do that.
Mrs. Firth: It does not say that anywhere. The Minister may assume that, but are we to assume it as well? It does not say anywhere in the regulations or in this as to who will be responsible for picking or choosing that chairperson.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will put it to the ad hoc group, which is discussing the committee composition and if they feel that is a problem which really must be addressed and delineated clearly in legislation and regulations, then I will undertake to clarify it through the regulations.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister give me a commitment that he will get back to me with the decision of that group, so that I know whether they agreed or it has been put in the regulations, or whatever?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will undertake to do that.
Clause 3 agreed to
On Clause 4
Clause 4 agreed to
On Clause 5
Mrs. Firth: The community library boards are going to be making rules to govern their own procedures, from what I understand from the regulations; and they have to be considered consistent with the policies and procedures established by the central library. Is that something that the boards are going to have to do things according to some specified outline or are they going to have a fair amount of flexibility in designing their own policies and procedures and then submitting them for approval? What I am looking for is: are the boards going to be given the direction or are the boards going to be able to be creative and go to the director and say, look, this is the way we want ours done and we are looking for approval? Sometimes that ability is not always there if you are having to comply with some policies and procedures that a central organization has laid out for you and which perhaps are not applicable to a smaller library board or community.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is a good point. Some time ago, a conference of library associations around the territory indicated that they wanted to have control over policies and procedures for the community library boards. At the same time, they felt the development of these policies and procedures would be a difficult undertaking if they had to start from scratch. Over the course of the past year, they have worked out a guideline of policies and procedures manual, which community library boards can adopt or not, according to their own wishes. At least when the Act comes into place and the community library boards are expected to be able to operate, they will have something to act as guidelines. They can change the guidelines to their hearts content, according to their communitys needs.
Clause 5 agreed to
On Clause 6
Clause 6 agreed to
On Clause 7
Mrs. Firth: If I may just ask about clause 6, in the powers of the Executive Council Member, there is nothing here that specifies the Executive Council Member has to be in consultation with the director. I am assuming that this authority is given strictly to the Executive Council Member and cannot be done by the Executive Council Member without any consultation with the director.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would find it almost inconceivable that a Minister would not consult with the director, or the department generally, on matters such as this. However, the Executive Council Member is ultimately the responsible agent. I would hope that, in their wisdom, they would be discussing it with the staff and expertise that they have within the organization that they are responsible for. Basically, the proposed regulations stipulate some limitations to when a library can be canceled. The proposals are reasonable in the draft regulations. Any arbitrary decision by a Minister would be ultimately checked at the Cabinet level if there was a desire to change beyond what was allowed through regulations.
Clause 6 agreed to
On Clause 7
Mrs. Firth: Before we pass this regulations clause, I would like to point out a spelling mistake in the regulations. Liraries should be libraries, under the interpretation of the word Director. I am prepared to approve the last clause.
Can the Minister tell me when this Act would come into effect? Does it mean that it will come into effect immediately because there is nothing stated?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would like to discuss with the Libraries Associations the date for which it comes into force. I would like to finish the process as soon as possible. They, in their meetings, have determined that they would like to see the Act come into force by March 31, 1988. If they are able to respond to their obligations under the Act by that time, or sooner, we could proclaim the Act.
There are a couple of regulations that would have to be incorporated into the regulations section, but we would like to ensure that the regulations are perfectly in tune with what the library associations have been saying. That is simply a matter of drafting and discussing the content with the library associations at their next gathering.
Mrs. Firth: I understand that this would come into force when it assented to at the end of this session. Is the Minister saying that the government may be delaying it?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Perhaps I misunderstood what the Member was suggesting. When the Act is assented to, the Act will come into force. When all of the obligations that are anticipated become active regulations and are made clear, that is the time when the library associations would assume their new responsibilities. It would be desirable to have the library associations in agreement with the timing regarding the obligations they would be assuming under this Act. I will do everything I can to ensure that the transition is as smooth as possible regarding the general provisions of the legislation and the specifics of the regulations.
Clause 7 agreed to
Title agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that you report Bill No. 4 without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 52 - An Act to Amend the Municipal Act
Chairman: Bill No. 52, An Act to Amend the Municipal Act. Any general debate.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is a very straightforward Act. As I mentioned in second reading there are two brief amendments to be considered by Members and there is an explanatory note as well. They are both the result of consultations that have been conducted with the Association of Yukon Communities and whereas they are fairly minor measures under the Municipal Act they have proven to be somewhat irritating to the daily operations of municipal councils, so we are proposing here that there be one requirement for the Yukon government to consult with municipalities prior to requesting that they impose a special levy bylaw, and secondly that we allow the municipal council to delegate the encroachment authority to their administrations under terms and conditions that they would set out in a bylaw.
Mr. Lang: With respect to the principles of the Bill to amend the Municipal Act it is very straightforward. I want to pursue with the Minister the relationship of the government vis-a-vis the Association of Yukon Communities. Is it the policy of the government that where possible the government will meet the general requests of the Association of Yukon Communities?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is, and there always will be, hopefully, a judgement call by the government, by the responsible Minister, by the Cabinet, and ultimately by the Legislature, as to whether or not they will adhere to the requests that are put forward by the Association for Yukon Communities. We do try to be sympathetic to their wishes as possible, because we realize that they have a major role to play and have lots of responsibilities on their shoulders, and we would like to make things as easy for them as we possibly can within reasonable limits, so they can conduct the fair and judicious operations of municipal councils.
In terms of a general proposition, the government would like to be very sympathetic to the concerns expressed by the Association for Yukon Communities. Ultimately a judgement call will be made by this Legislature and the government.
Mr. Lang: Is it the general policy of the government that, if the government is taking certain actions that are going to directly cost the municipality monies, it sees its role or responsibility to perhaps to come forward with financial assistance, since they are the ones that initiated that policy?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is, in my view, fairly significant financial support going to municipalities. I would doubt that every time a measure was taken that there would be some sort of an attending cash grant to the municipalities. If the Member is referring to perhaps the provision of the Human Rights Bill with respect to the implementation of equal pay, it is clearly this governments position, as the Minister of Justice has enunciated, that the communities would have to absorb any costs associated with the equal pay provision of the Act. The government has, as a matter of general proposition, listened to the municipalities concerns with respect to general funding levels for the general operations of municipal councils and the matter came up recently at the AYC meeting in Dawson City where it was obvious that under the existing Act the increase of the O&M grants to the municipalities would be much smaller than had ever been the case before. So the government did undertake to discuss with the Association possible changes to the Act which would allow the government some more latitude to ensure that they are adequately funded. That is basically where the government stands.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister go on a little further? He talked about more latitude for the municipalities. Are we talking a further ability to tax or what are you referring to?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No, the ability to tax will not be changed. What I am referring to is, basically, that under the Municipal Finance Grants Act, as I recall, the allowable increase to Operation and Maintenance grants from the government to the municipalities is set by the legislation I believe, the of government revenues or government expenditures in the preceding fiscal year. Traditionally, that has meant that the government has been able to provide so far at least grant increases in the neighbourhood of between five and 12 percent, in terms of general ball park and so far the governments have always provided the Association with the maximum allowable limit.
Under the Act, this year, it would have meant and would still mean if the Act were not changed that the allowable limit increase would only be 1.5 percent, which is well below inflation, certainly, and for that reason the government is somewhat concerned that the municipalities will not receive an increase that will meet their needs. Certainly, inflation alone will eat away at their ability to provide services for the municipalities.
The government has undertaken to consult with the association what methods might be taken to have a review of the Act to determine whether or not the latitude can be extended so the government can, in rather unique circumstances such as that which exists this year, increase the grant. At this stage, we have only had preliminary discussions. The deadline for any changes to any legislation would be the spring session of this coming year.
Mr. Lang: I want to get a definitive answer on the record with respect to the policy. When the government implements a program that is territorially-initiated, is it their policy to generally provide financing for that initiative as opposed to relying on the municipalities to pay for a territorial initiative?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: In terms of general proposition, it is the policy of the government to block fund communities, both on the Capital and the Operation and Maintenance side. The block funding on the Operation and Maintenance side has been in place for some time. The policy of the government is to block fund municipalities. If the government enacts a law that makes it mandatory for the municipalities to do a certain kind of licensing, then that would have to be borne by the municipalities themselves. The government, for its part, will have to take into consideration the ramifications of its measures in passing legislation through this House, or passing measures that may cost municipalities money. Ultimately, the governments policy is to block fund municipalities and not provide funding on a case-by-case or measure-by-measure basis that may pass this Legislature.
Mr. Lang: You are having it both ways. What I have just heard here is you block fund the municipalities and then, if you decide what is good for the community, they can pay for it out of their block funding. That goes totally contrary to my understanding of block funding, which was to be transferred to the communities for their decisions to be made and theirs alone with respect to the allocation of those dollars.
Why has the Minister not included in there the necessary amendments for consideration with respect to liability insurance?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is no decision as to whether or not the government should limit the liabilities of municipalities for the purposes of lowering their insurance costs. The only jurisdiction, to my understanding, that has attempted to do that, and with considerable difficulty, is British Columbia. I think the people who are familiar with the issue realize it is quite problematic and may not be the best way to approach rising insurance costs, the rise of which has tapered off in recent months and in the last year. So, the government has come to no conclusions with respect to that particular matter and that is one of the reasons why it is not in the Act.
Mr. Lang: My recollection is that, in September, the department indicated that the Legislative Council was considering amendments to the Municipal Act for the purposes of meeting the request of the Association of Yukon Communities to see what could be done to limit liability. I think it is a very bona fide question, and I do not think it should be dismissed out of hand. Perhaps the Minister, in his knowledge, could tell us a little bit more about the experience of the British Columbia community in this particular area?
Chairman: Order please. Does this relate to this amendment?
Mr. Lang: Yes, I am referring to the Municipal Act. That is why I prefaced my comments.
Chairman: Does it relate to the amendments that appear here. Is liability on particular encroachment on a highway what we are referring to?
Mr. Lang: I am referring to the policy outlined by the Minister to meet where possible the recommendations of the Association of Yukon Communities when it comes to amendments to the Municipal Act. I am referring to the two amendments that we have before us. I am asking why other amendments have not been incorporated into the act in view of the fact that they were recommended by the Association of Yukon Communities.
Chairman: Many recommendations could be made to the Minister, which could appear as later amendments to the Municipal Act and not be dealt with at this time. I would like to stick with those we are dealing with now.
Mr. Lang: I guess we have a difference of opinion. Why are we dealing with an Act that, in September, does not contain September. The government indicated that there would be amendments in this area for debate. I am asking, on principle, why is that not included in the Act?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Quite conceivably, this could be a vehicle to string this debate out for at least two or three months. When the department made suggestions about further amendments to the Municipal Act, there was a specific request by the Association to postpone all further amendments until such time as the Association had a chance to review them in detail, since they would be impacted by them. They want them postponed until the spring.
Mr. Lang: Have those proposals been prepared and sent to the Association and the communities affected?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There are many proposals that are in different stages of consultation. If the Member wants to contact me to find out where specific proposals are, I will undertake to tell him where they are in terms of the consultation process.
Chairman: Thank you for that suggestion. Mr. McDonald will do that. Could we proceed now with the amendment dealing with the Municipal Act?
Mr. Lang: Only as long as I have the commitment that it will be tabled in the House. I do not think I have to go to the Ministers office. It is public information. I am not looking for anything that is hidden, I hope. Will this be information that is provided to the House?
Chairman: There are other ways to explore that instead of doing it here.
Mr. Lang: In the recommendations and the general principles of the Act, there was one area that deserves some scrutiny. Why is the Municipal Act not being amended to reflect a recommendation by the Association. Section 252 is the resolution by the Association that is asking that the Municipal Act be amended to ensure that, under no circumstances, the Government of Yukon will undertake a local improvement project within a municipality, and subsequently invoke section 252 of the Municipal Act without full prior knowledge and consultation with the local Municipal Act.
In concert with the requirement and the amendment that we have here, requiring consultation with the municipalities prior to requesting that they impose a special levy bylaw why was that section not brought in, seeing that there are similarities with the other amendment?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Basically the Member wants us to pursue all the recommendations made by the AYC at one time, and I want to indicate to him that I would be prepared to discuss the state of discussions. I might indicate that the government philosophically is fully in favour of that particular recommendation. When it came to the AYC for discussion it was not that the Government of Yukon should consult with municipalities, but should get concurrence of the municipalities for any major work in the municipality. We found that to be an onerous provision and cooler heads prevailed during the discussion with the AYC, and they changed that to consultation. That is a perfectly livable and acceptable proposal. We have not had the chance to do full consultations with them and discuss all the ramifications and aspects of that, and that is one of the things we are undertaking to do in the review of the Municipal Act.
Mr. Lang: I have a very legitimate question here as I understand there was a commitment made to the AYC, that an amendment to the legislation would be tabled at the fall session of the Yukon Legislative Assembly. That commitment was made prior to September of this year to AYC and I do not understand why, in conjunction with the Bill and in view of the principle we are discussing here...
Chairman: Order please, we are not dealing here with Clause 252, we are dealing with Clause 245 and 254. Can we proceed with that please.
Mr. Lang: With all respect to the Chair, I am discussing the principle that there should be consultation for the imposition of proposing a special levy bylaw. I am also referring to a request that is very similar in nature by the Association of Yukon Communities, that the government had committed itself bring forward this session. It is not in the Bill, but is very similar and almost identical in principle. What I do not understand is why it is not included in the Bill.
With all due respect to the Chair I think I had every right to ask that question. I do not like an attitude that if I do not stick with strictly subsection (1), I cannot discuss, on principle, the Municipal Act or amendments thereto.
Chairman: Mr. Lang, you have already asked that question.
Mr. Lang: I did not.
Chairman: It was answered by the Minister.
Mr. Lang: Mr. Chairman, the question I asked was that a commitment was made to the AYC prior to September. What I did not understand was that if the commitment was made, why was it not included? We are talking about a very simple amendment. We are not talking about major initiative that is going to require a consultant.
Hon. Mr. Porter: In response to the particular questions that are being brought forward for consideration by the Minister, I think it would help guide the House in deliberations of the Committee of the Whole, as to a clarification of the rules of debate that pertain to the House.
Mr. Chairman, as a Member of this side, I am requesting that you clarify for all Members in the House as to what the rules of debate clearly are pertaining to legislation that is before the Committee of the Whole for discussion.
Chairman: I have been trying to do that in a very polite way. Basically, we are dealing with the Bill as it appears before us, no other clauses. You have other avenues to pursue that same line of questioning, like in Question Period, for example. I would just like to deal with the sections of the Municipal Act to be amended, namely 245 and 254. You have asked your question once. I allowed it and the Minister answered it.
Is there any further debate on Clause 1?
Mr. Lang: In all deference, I did not get an answer as to why a commitment was made in the fall that the amendment would be here. I do not understand why I would have to go to Question Period for the purpose of that question. I do not understand why the commitment was made by the government that an amendment would be here. That is my only question. My last question, as far as general policy debate. I just want to know, for the record.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The government said that it had a number of proposals to take through better than 20 proposals for minor changes and included that particular change, and that it could take place on all major works within communities. We received a request from an executive of the association that we should consult fully on all further changes beyond the two that we had indicated last spring that we were going to take forward in the fall. We have complied with that. Many of the proposals that were being proposed by the government are consistent with not only the governments policies but the wishes of the association. What the association wanted to assure itself of was that, in total as a package, the changes were going to be completely adequate to meet their desires and their needs, and that the wording would be complete and acceptable to them.
We have indicated to them that we were prepared to do just that. We were prepared to work through all the ramifications of all provisions, and hear their thoughts for changes as well. Over the course of the balance of the winter, we would put forward a package ultimately in the spring that would include all those items. That was what we undertook to do.
Clause 2 agreed to
On clause 3
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister explain exactly what the difficulties are that have been experienced. He touched on it in the second reading speech and I would like some further clarification on this.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Basically this is a problem that is more seriously felt in the City of Whitehorse and Dawson or Watson Lake, but primarily Whitehorse. There are many simple administrative-type decisions made by councils. In the councils view they clog up their agendas in the operations for approving encroachments on roadways, or on lands that are considered public lands. For example, a persons property line might end midway through their front lawn and they might want to do something on what they think is their front lawn, but is in fact the road right-of-way for the municipality. Regularly municipalities allow people to put up sheds and fences, and they would like to be able to delegate that authority under certain guidelines to their administrations so the administration can simply deal with it and get it done quickly so there would be no delays in responding to fairly, simple straightforward requests. Currently they complain that there are numerous items on their agendas which are relatively minor in nature and they think they could best delegate this authority to their administration, so we are allowing them the right to do so. In practice what they will do is establish a bylaw which will determine how the administration is to act in approving such encroachments and hopefully the process will be made much more smooth and valuable council time will be taken up with more policy work than administrative work.
Mr. Lang: How is it going to affect the Highways Act and YTGs responsibility on highways? Or is it? I am primarily thinking of the Alaska Highway.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It ought not to affect the territorial governments responsibilities at all. It is essentially for highways within the municipal boundaries. There are still, of course, YTG and federal roads within municipal boundaries but they are clearly visible as being such. This is only to cover municipal responsibility.
Mr. Lang: Perhaps I am confused here but it says: authorizing encroachment on a highway. Are you saying the Highways Act will take precedent over this as far as YTGs responsibility on the Alaska Highway through the Municipality of Whitehorse or through Watson Lake?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member is going to have to give me some clear examples of what he is concerned about. Basically, it is to allow for municipalities, where they have responsibility for the road which is probably the vast majority of roads in the municipalities to allow the encroachment upon that road. For federally-owned and territorially-owned roads within municipalities, the federal or territorial jurisdiction would apply.
Mr. Lang: I am asking if you are relinquishing any authority.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Is the government relinquishing authority? As a general proposition, no.
Clause 3 agreed to
Title agreed to
Clause 1 agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that you report Bill No. 52 without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Porter: I move that you do now report progress.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Porter: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. May the House have the report from the Chairman of the Committee of the Whole.
Mr. Webster: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 4, Public Libraries Act, and Bill No. 52, An Act to Amend the Municipal Act, and directed me to report the same without amendment.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chairman of the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Porter: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:23 p. m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled in the House on November 17, 1987:
Report of the Education Act Task Force, November, 1987 (McDonald)
Department of Education, Public Schools Branch, Annual Report, (1985/86) (McDonald)
Canadian Jobs Strategy, and Yukon Concerns (McDonald)
Tourism Yukons Travel Film, Yukon - Canadas Last Frontier - award (Porter)