Wednesday, November 18, 1987
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time we will proceed with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am pleased to introduce to the Legislature today an executive of Curragh Resources from Toronto, Mr. Ralph Sultan, vice president of the company.
POINT OF PRIVILEGE
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I would like to rise on a point of privilege to correct the record with respect to information I gave the House on Monday last in response to a question from the Member for Riverdale South.
On Monday, I stated the City of Whitehorse had given my department information with respect to possible unlicensed day homes. Following further questions on this matter from the Member, I reviewed the exchange in this House with departmental staff. They have subsequently informed me that my statements were based on incorrect data the department had prepared.
I would now like to correct the record in this matter. The information with respect to possible unlicensed day homes was provided to Health and Human Resource staff by the Yukon Child Care Association and Public Health and not the city, as I originally asserted.
I recognize, as a Minister, I am responsible for this error. I would like to apologize to this House and to the city administration for making inaccurate statements about the source of information in this instance.
Speaker: Are there any Returns or Documents for Tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I have for tabling information as requested by the Member for Riverdale South with respect to O & M grants to day care capital development grants and other information, as requested in her motions 2 and 3.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I have for tabling the draft Standard Bylaws for Societies and the forms for the draft regulations.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees? Are there any Petitions? Introduction of Bills? Are there any Notices of Motion for Production of Papers? Are there any Notices of Motion?
Curragh Resources/Faro Real Estate/YTG Agreement
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I rise today to make an important announcement that was only concluded moments ago, and therefore I apologize to Members opposite for the short notice given to them for the details of my remarks.
I am pleased to announce to the House today that a new arrangement has been struck between Curragh Resources, Faro Real Estate Limited and this government that will assist the people of Faro by lowering their housing costs. Late this morning an agreement was reached that will result in modification of the $3.4 million Yukon mortgage with Curragh Resources. Members will recall that the original mortgage provided a repayment term over seven years. In recognition of the continuing confidence this government has in the companys operation in Faro and the future developments on the Van Gorda Plateau we have agreed to extend the repayment term of the loan for an additional seven years. In effect the original mortgage will be modified to provide for a term of 14 years commencing November 22, 1985 and expiring November 22, 1999.
We are delighted with this new arrangement because we not only protected the security position of the government but this arrangement will result in reduced housing costs for the people of Faro. We are particularly pleased because Curragh Resources have facilitated this arrangement by agreeing to extend long-term financing to Faro Real Estate Limited.
I would like to emphasize that the mortgage modification contains the following terms: Where previously interest payable at ten per cent was tied to the cash flow of the operation, now the government will receive a fixed interest rate of ten per cent during the extended term. Further principal payments on the mortgage will be repaid in equal quarterly installments beginning February 22, 1988. As well the issue of partial discharges under the mortgage is resolved which will encourage housing sales in Faro to proceed.
I would note that although I was restricted during the intense negotiations during the past several months from revealing details of the deal, a precondition of this mortgage modification was the discharge of the Yukon government guarantee. Although previously announced by Curragh Resources, this precondition resulted in the Yukon government no longer guaranteeing the $15 million line of credit between Curragh Resources and the Toronto Dominion Bank. I would remind Members that this guarantee was put in place to facilitate the very critical start-up period of the Faro mine, but the guarantee was never called.
I must emphasize that because of the diligent effort of all parties concerned in this arrangement there will be a 45 per cent reduction of the base rents in housing secured under the mortgage. This will convert to a significant reduction in overall housing costs to the community of Faro.
In closing I want to pay tribute to my hard-working negotiating team, the goodwill of the participants at the negotiating table and the support of my colleagues in helping this important deal come to fruition.
Mr. Lang: I am pleased to see that we have a new policy initiative announced during Ministerial Statements. It is nice to see the rules being followed. We are very pleased to see the positive outcome of the negotiations, especially the resolution of the issue of the partial discharge. Our caucus wants to give credit to the Member who has been persistently raising this issue on behalf of his constituency, the Member for Faro. It is a very important that people have the ability to obtain homeownership. We wonder why it has taken so long to resolve this issue, which has been consistently and persistently raised by the Member for Faro.
Mr. McLachlan: I am very pleased by the announcement made by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services this afternoon. The biggest loggerhead problem, that of the transfer of title and partial discharge of mortgage, seems to have been solved, but perhaps more importantly out of the whole thing, is the announcement of the extension of the mortgage term to a 14-year period from a seven-year period. That is an expression of confidence that this government has in Faro and in the future of the community. It is a feeling, as a resident of Faro for 18 years, that there was not always a factor of confidence in all Members of the government and in people in the territory, generally. I am hoping that todays announcement will clear that up for a long time to come.
There is one small issue that is partly due to the lateness of the preparation of the statement but has not been addressed during the Ministerial Statement. When does the 45 per cent reduction in rate begin?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I can find the actual date for the Member. It will be in the very near future. The deal was the result of a lot of hard work by a number of people, and there are many people who deserve specific credit for this arrangement. The government is pleased to have been able to, in part, facilitate the housing reduction in Faro. It was due to our diligence in wishing the housing costs would come down that it was done. There is also credit that should be relayed to Curragh Resources and to Faro Real Estate who were negotiating parties to the agreement and who were also interested in bringing down the cost of housing in Faro. I give all parties full credit.
Question re: Land availability
Mr. Phelps: I have a new question pertaining to land availability, which is an continuing problem under this government. I think we are probably coming into a critical stage, not only in the rural areas but in Whitehorse as well.
My first question is of the appropriate Minister; I gather that is the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. I would like to know how many agricultural applications are now outstanding with this government.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am not sure of the exact number of outstanding applications. They are coming in regularly, as there is a continued interest in pursuing agricultural development in the territory. If the Member wishes for me to provide that kind of information, I will be happy to try to comply; and if the Member has other further details he also wishes, then a written question will be most appropriate.
Mr. Phelps: I ask these questions every session so it should not come as a surprise to the Minister or his department. Can he tell us how many agricultural applications have gone through and have been transferred in the last 12 months?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not have a tally here but I have a list of all the applications in the last 12 months or so. If the Member wishes me to read them out, I can; I can also table relevant documents, which I anticipate will be requested by Members, as they have been requested in every session since 1985.
Mr. Phelps: I would be pleased if the Minister would table the successful transfers as well as a list of the outstanding ones, because I understand they are way up again, to over three or four hundred. Would he undertake to do that as well?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The information the Member requests with respect to outstanding transfers, transfer requests and transfers completed, have all been anticipated, and I will table a document that will essentially delineate the numbers.
Question re: Land availability, Carcross
Mr. Phelps: Perhaps we could move to one rural area where there does not seem to be any land available at all, and has not been for some time, for people wanting to build homes, and that area is Carcross. I would like to know whether or not a request for block land transfer has gone in from this government for the Chooutla subdivision of Carcross?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: A request for the Chooutla subdivision has been in place, I believe, since 1984, when this government assumed office; we reiterated our belief that lands requested should be lands transferred, and included the Chooutla subdivision in that list. As the Member knows, the Chooutla subdivision has not been transferred and I am not exactly certain of the reasons why the government has not transferred it to us.
Mr. Phelps: With regard to that subdivision, there was an agreement, as part of the land claims process, that that area would be developed and half the lots would be sold to the Carcross Tagish Indian Band at cost and paid for by the federal government, and that is why the subdivision went ahead. We now understand that the band is blocking the transfer. I am wondering if this government is taking a position on that issue?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The historic position of the government, a position that is the position of the government today, is that a portion of the lots that were developed on federal lands by the Yukon government ought to be allotted to band members and to the general public, and there has been no change in our position at this point. I do not anticipate a change, either.
Mr. Phelps: This block land transfer has been outstanding since the government took office. There are no lots available for people in Carcross to build on. What is the government going to do about the situation in Carcross regarding land availability?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is one other player in the equation, and that is the federal government. We have made requests for land specifically, the Chooutla subdivision before to resolve some of the demands for housing land and needs in the Carcross area. We have indicated to them a number of times that we would like to see some lands transferred. We have not received lands to date. I think it would be an appropriate question to put to the federal minister. I have asked the federal minister in the past to transfer lands once band consultations have taken place and in the particular case of the Chooutla subdivision, the lands have not yet been transferred. But it would be an appropriate question to put to the federal minister.
Mr. Phelps: Will the Minister undertake to become active on this matter and do something about the Chooutla subdivision? Will he press the minister to transfer it under the terms of the original agreement?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That has already been done. I do not need requests from any Member to encourage me to continue doing that. I will be doing that, in any case. We have also been discussing the matter of general land use around the territory and we have expressed to the federal minister that we would like land transfers expedited as well.
Question re: Whitehorse accommodation
Mr. McLachlan: For days and days now we have been hearing from the Minister of Community and Transportation Services that the only housing crisis in the territory is the inadequate social housing that exists in a number of communities, and that this Minister and the Government Leader are going to come riding in on a charging white steed and solve all of those problems. I want to ask the Minister that, given the statement released by the Yukon Economic Council today, which shows the deficiency in the housing allocations here in the City of Whitehorse 120 units needed in the next year will this Minister now go back to the drawing board and re-think the housing situation that they are trying to address here in Whitehorse? Will he do that immediately?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is absolutely no need to go back to the drawing board because, as I indicated to the Members even as recently as yesterday in this Legislature, the government, as of early this year, has undertaken to review the barriers to home ownership in the territory and are well underway in terms of establishing some alternatives that we could pursue in the coming year. We have also, as I have indicated to the Member before a fact immediately forgotten, perhaps that the government is trying to get residential land available as soon as possible in Whitehorse, given the lead time that is naturally required in land development.
Mr. McLachlan: I am not sure if the Minister has read the statistics in the report and, if he has read them, if he believes them. Why can the government not design a program that will address the shortage of multiple-unit residential buildings? That is critical. Why is it only the single-family residential units?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member is setting up a straw man and then beating him down. I did not say that we were unaware of the problem of the private sector in constructing multi-family residential units. I referred to it in this Legislature only last week. That is a problem that has to be addressed. We are addressing that problem as well as others. We are acutely aware of the housing shortage in Whitehorse, and we are acutely interested in helping to resolve the situation through land development and through home ownership programs that would encourage construction because, as we know, up until this point, there has been very little private sector construction in Whitehorse.
Mr. McLachlan: It took this Minister a year to react to a study, a motion in this House. How long is it going to take him to react to a housing shortage that is made apparent by these statistics by the Economic Council? It is apparent today, in 1989, that we are going to be struggling with it if he does not do something. When are they going to come out with something concrete?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member once again is repeating what is commonly referred to, in Orwellian terms, as the big lie. The suggestion is that the government has done nothing in the last year. That is patently false. The government is not only aware of the situation but is attempting to do something about it. We would hope to be able to do something about it in concrete terms in the coming season.
Question re: Whitehorse accommodation
Mr. Lang: The Minister has just indicated that he is acutely aware of the housing problem in the territory over the past year. If this has been such a high priority, why has it taken him over one year to appoint a general manager for the Housing Corporation?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There are a couple of reasons. Firstly, I think it is important to note for the Members information that the Minister responsible for housing does not appoint the general manager. The board of directors does. There was every attempt to recruit a full-time general manager over the period of the last year. It has been difficult because when the Housing Corporation was inherited by this government it was in a very sorry condition, and it was not an attractive prospect for an up-and-coming person to want to take over the leadership of this corporation.
There were some difficulties and, as I said yesterday, a person has finally accepted to take on the job on a full-time basis.
Mr. Lang: The Minister of Housing has been there for two-and-a-half years; at the same time, of his own volition, spending millions of dollars without a general manager in place. When the government made the decision to go ahead with the roughly $70 million public housing program, did they take into consideration the question of the options of home ownership?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I think it is important to note the historical context in which the government took over the Housing Corporation. When we took over there were a very few disgruntled employees left, amalgamated within the Department of Community and Transportation administrative unit. They were operating quite improperly out of that department and quite contrary to legislation passed by this Legislature, but with the full knowledge and support and concurrence of the minister of the day. The accounting system of the Corporation was in very bad shape. In trying to put the Corporation back together so it could meet demands, the government had to follow a fairly significant work plan, which was completed.
Certainly, home ownership has always been a consideration of the Corporation. It is a matter of timing and priorities. Getting the Corporation back on its feet so it could deliver anything at all was obviously a top priority.
Mr. Lang: Mr. Speaker, I have to once again register my concern with you and your office with respect to this Legislature. I asked a very direct question and I once again did not get an answer. When that happens it is a reflection on the House, not just the Minister in question.
I would ask, with you as a parliamentarian to the Minister, again: In the decision that was made by the government to go ahead with that multi-million dollar public housing program, were the options for home ownership considered?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Prior to the motion for home ownership being tabled and passed in this House, the government of the day meaning this government and this particular Minister indicated a desire to encourage home ownership, not only for middle and upper income people, but also for lower income people, and to try to encourage people in social housing to assume ownership and the responsibilities of the social housing units. That has always been the consideration that the government has expressed to the Corporation, and I think the government is going to be able to deliver in spades in the coming year.
Question re: Whitehorse accommodation
Mr. Lang: How, in good conscience, could the Government of the Yukon make a $70 million commitment of taxpayers dollars without having the results of the homeowner option study completed in order to take all those factors into account?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As I have tried to express to the Member in the past, the governments commitment is stated clearly in the Capital Estimates. The government is not committed to the so-called $72 million Five-Year Capital Plan. The government is committed to the Capital Estimates that have been tabled in this Legislature. Certainly the government wanted to put the Corporation back on its feet and make it a decent delivery agent. At the same, time we had to direct resources toward the needy people in the territory, the people who were in most need. There would have been very little generosity on the part of the public if we had done nothing of any sort while we were trying to get the Corporation back on its feet, so we tried to do both. We tried to get the Corporation back on its feet and also directed funds towards the most needy.
Mr. Lang: I will try again. In deference to yourself and the Legislature, I will ask the question again.
How, in good conscience, did the government make a multi-million dollar commitment of taxpayers dollars for public housing throughout the territory without having in its possession the home owner option study completed in order that the two could be considered at the same time?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There was a demonstrated need for housing programs while we were getting on our feet. For that reason, we decided that it was most appropriate to try and meet the people greatest in need while we were getting the Corporation back on its feet again. That is why we engaged in some social housing expenditures prior to the Homeownership Study being complete. It is nevertheless very much a commitment and a priority of this government to complete the study and to provide some options for the public.
Question re: Territorial Court Act
Mr. Phillips: Section 36 of the Human Rights Act states that this Act supersedes every other Act, whether enacted before or after this Act unless it is expressly declared by the other Act that it shall supersede this Act. Since there is no such statement expressed in the Territorial Court Act, does the Minister not agree that the Human Rights Act is paramount?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: That is obviously asking for a legal opinion. The legal opinion is so simple and obvious that I will give it. Yes.
Mr. Phillips: That is the answer that I have been looking for a long time. Would the Minister not agree that Section 41.1 of the Territorial Court Act, which requires a Justice of the Peace to retire at age 65 is discriminatory and has been superseded by the provisions in the Human Rights Act?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: That specific question is before the courts today. It would be improper to make a comment about that specific proposition at this time.
Mr. Phillips: If the Minister had done his job, it would not be in front of the courts today. Why did the Minister, through his Justice Department, dismiss Mr. Thompson on September 8 when they knew clearly that on July 1 they were violating their own Human Rights Act, and why have they not reinstated Mr. Thompson with full compensation and an apology?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The premise of the question is inaccurate. I, and the Ministry, did not dismiss Mr. Thompson. Mr. Thompson was dismissed by letter by the Director of Court Services who has a dual reporting relationship and was acting on the direction of the Territorial Court. The reason why I cannot correct the situation is that the correction must necessarily involve a change in the legislation. That should come, and it should come soon.
Question re: Day home surveillance
Mrs. Firth: The Minister of Health and Human Resources has made comments in this House several times about there only being one home under surveillance. Information that I have indicates that there were individuals, neighbours and parents called, who are participating in other day homes. Can the Minister confirm for the Legislature if her information is absolutely accurate?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: What happens is that we receive information that there is a home which could be operating without a licence. Then the Day Care Services Board very often approaches that operator to find out whether or not she or he would be interested in becoming licensed. There is a process that follows, and I believe that has happened. It does not mean they were under surveillance, it just means they were approached to find out whether or not they were interested in becoming licensed. Other than that, I know nothing more about any kind of surveillance.
Mrs. Firth: Do I take it that the Minister is saying again, by that comment, that there was only one day home under surveillance? I am talking not about the operators being approached but by parents and neighbours being approached of day homes other than the one under surveillance. If it is the Day Care Services Board doing this the day home that was under surveillance that was charged if the Day Care Services Board is doing this, they are really a board of the government and I would like the Minister to come back with accurate information if she could at this time.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: That board was created as a result of legislation introduced in this House many years ago. They have authority to go into those homes to talk to those people. My information right now is that we have only had one home under surveillance and I have said that repeatedly. If I am not correct, I will come back and let the House know.
Mrs. Firth: Is it true that her officials, department officials, or members of the Day Care Services Board, parked outside the family day homes and counted the cars as they were dropping the children off at the family day homes?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I understand that process was used. There were not any other persons available who could do the investigation. We did not have anybody on staff that could follow that. We do have a law in our Day Care Act that says people have to become licensed under certain circumstances and we have to follow that law. The information I have is that one home was under surveillance by a member of the Day Care Services Board and our day care coordinator.
Question re: Day home surveillance
Mrs. Firth: To follow up on the process, is it true that through this surveillance process that the individual on the Day Care Services Board had embarked upon parents were phoned at home and asked how many children the day care had, even to the extent that parents with unlisted phone numbers were being called?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I do not have that information.
Mrs. Firth: Why does the Minister not have that information? I believe she said in the Legislature that she had not authorized the process but was aware of the investigation. I would like the Minister to report because I have had parents tell me that they were called and they had unlisted phone numbers how the unlisted phone numbers were acquired by her officials.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I said that I was aware that there was an investigation going on, that I was aware that a home was under surveillance. If she requires further information, I will get the information for her.
Question re: Placer mining on Wheaton River
Mr. Nordling: In September, an official with the Department of Renewable Resources wrote a letter calling for a halt in placer mining on the Wheaton River. I believe the letter called it an inappropriate use of the land and water resources along the Wheaton. A couple of weeks later, the deputy minister of Renewable Resources said the letter represented the position of the staff in the Department of Renewable Resources and did not represent the position of the Government of Yukon.
What is the position of the Yukon government on this issue?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: If the Member is asking what is the position of this government with respect to placer mining on the Wheaton River in that Cabinet has not specifically addressed such a question, we have not taken a position, other than that expressed by the deputy minister before the Water Board with respect to the particular licence and application referred to by the Member.
Mr. Nordling: The deputy minister of Renewable Resources went on to say that the Yukon government would like a study of the potential conflict between placer miners and other land and water users. Has this study been done? If so, when will it be released?
Hon. Mr. Porter: The Member is referring to a particular responsibility that is being carried out in the Department of Renewable Resources under the Lands and Parks Branch. There is a resource inventory study being undertaken by that department. It is called the Wheaton River Inventory Study. When it is complete, I will undertake to ensure the Member knows the particulars.
Mr. Nordling: My impression was that this was a separate study the deputy minister was calling for, separate to the inventory of resource use that was going on. Has the Minister of Economic Developments department had any input, or will have any input, into the preparation of this study? What is a more accurate date as to when it is expected?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: With respect to the study identified by the Minister of Renewable Resources a moment ago, the people who are involved in that are a matter of public record.
With respect to the possibility of another study indicated by the Member opposite, I cannot respond to that except to say, in a general way, that any such question that would touch on the responsibilities of more than one department, or touch on the responsibilities of the Department of Economic Development, would under this administration involve officials of that department.
Question re: Inventory of lots
Mr. McLachlan: I have a question for Community and Transportation Services.
There were 112 building permits issued in the City of Whitehorse in 1987. Thirty of those were in the Kwanlin Dun area. I consider this to be a very active year for building. Of those 82 lots, that is only two-thirds of the level of activity called for in the Yukon Economic Councils report. The Granger Subdivision cannot be ready until the late fall of 1988. Where does the Minister intend to get the inventory of available building lots to be able to fulfill the called-for 120 units in the Economic Council Report?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There are a fair number of lots on the market right now. If the Member requests I can always provide a detailed breakdown of where they are and when they went on the market. One of the problems with land development is that it takes some time for advance work to do the job right. That is the reason why it takes as long as it does to put in a subdivision of this sort. We have experienced problems in the past when the job has been rushed. The government will move as quickly as it can to get the Granger lots on the market and will encourage private sector and Kwanlin Dun, if they have land available, to make lots available as well. We will do whatever we can to see that housing land is available for private construction within the City of Whitehorse.
Mr. McLachlan: Briefing notes passed out on Monday night with the Budget Speech referred to upgrading or replacing 110 housing units. Is it the plan of the Yukon Housing Corporation to sell get rid of all of its mobile housing stock?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Perhaps the Member might want to put that question more in context because I do not believe I understood it. If the Member is asking whether or not the Housing Corporation as a matter of policy does not wish to have mobile homes as part of its inventory, I do not believe that is the case. If the Member wants to be a little clearer in what he is asking for I will try to answer.
Mr. McLachlan: Certainly I will, but I do not think I should have to use my final supplementary to clarify a question for the Minister.
The briefing notes passed out with the Budget referred to replacing of 110 housing units by the Corporation, or replacing of inventory. Does the Yukon Housing Corporation, by the meaning of replacing 110 housing units, mean they are getting rid of or selling its mobile housing stock throughout the territory?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am fairly certain that it cannot be interpreted as narrowly as the Member suggests it should. I think there are a fair number of housing units in the inventory which are in extremely rough shape and it would not be economical to repair them. I am sure those units would be sold, as is common practice. What I can do to cut what could potentially be a long answer short is find out what sort of mobile homes are in the inventory and what the Corporation plans to do with them.
Question re: Tax exemption forms
Mr. Brewster: My question is to the Minister of Finance.
Recently new Fuel Tax Exemption Forms were issued by the Department of Finance. The forms are considerably more complicated than the previous forms and ask questions of the agriculture applicants regarding residents on a farm, type of production, if farming is the main source of income or existence, and the applicants are asked to attach a copy of their latest profit and loss statement.
Why does the department need all of this information for the fuel tax rebate?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will take that question under notice.
Mr. Brewster: The Minister obviously does not know about the great forum we have here.
How does a statement of income relate to whether or not an agricultural applicant is eligible to receive the exemptions?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I presume that if the applicant has no or very little income from agricultural activities, it would have some bearing on whether or not the vehicles that were being fueled were being used properly or not.
Mr. Brewster: Can the Minister explain under what statue, authority or regulation the Department of Finance is using to request this information?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will take that question as notice too.
The purpose of the tax measure that we brought into this House shortly after coming to office was to provide fuel tax relief for certain occupations off-highway. In every other jurisdiction I know of in the country, the regulation of that activity has been a problem. That is why many jurisdictions went to purple gas. I will check with the department to make sure that whatever regulatory enforcement provisions they bring in comply with the legislation under which they operate.
Question re: Fuel tax exemption
Mr. Brewster: Can the Minister of Finance tell me if an applicant who refuses to conform to all of this government red tape will still be eligible for exemption?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Someone would have to qualify for the exemption in order to receive it. I would have to double check as to whether or not the questions that are being asked are necessary to establish a test of qualification.
Mr. Brewster: Can the Government Leader explain why the Department of Finance has to know what type of production the applicant is engaged in before receiving the fuel tax exemption?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am not sure. I will take that question as notice.
Mr. Brewster: We are not getting very far today. There are seven different types of businesses that have the same application, yet the only one that is being picked on for financial statement and other such statements is those of pertaining to agriculture. Can the Minister explain why it is only agriculture, and not the others?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not concede that point at all. The Member complains that he is not getting far today. He may not know this, but there is an age old parliamentary courtesy that if a person wants detailed answers to specific questions, notice is given to the Member opposite of the question. Had the Member given me notice, he probably could have had the answers.
Speaker: Time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will now proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
MOTIONS FOR THE PRODUCTION OF PAPER
Speaker: It would appear to the Chair that Motions for the Production of Papers No. 2 and No. 3, have been satisfied by documents tabled earlier today and the Chair will, therefore, under Motions for the Production of Papers, direct their removal from the Order Paper.
Motions for productions of papers?
Motion for the Production of Papers No. 1
Clerk: Item No. 1, standing in the name of Mrs. Firth.
Speaker: Is the hon. Member prepared to proceed with Item No. 1?
Mrs. Firth: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: It has been moved by the member for Whitehorse Riverdale South:
THAT the House do issue an order for a return for information which would provide a detailed breakdown of the $900,000 in improvements to be made to the day care system including:
a) costs of increased subsidies and grants; and
b) costs of change of fee schedules.
Point of Order
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I am rising on a point of order because I would like a ruling from the Chair as to whether or not this motion is in order or is within our rules in its present form. I understand that this motion would follow, perhaps, an Alberta practice, but I would submit that it does not follow the practice of the House of Commons in Ottawa. Our Standing Orders have very little to say about motions for the productions of papers but they do say that where our Standing Orders do not specify a practice that the rules of the House of Commons shall prevail.
I have looked very closely at Beauchesne, citations 385, 386, 387, 388, 389 and 390 and I would submit that there are two policies here that are implicit in the procedure for production of papers and are missing. Those two policies are these: that the notice for production of papers must specify, with some degree of specificity, what papers are being asked for; this motion does not do that, and I will explain why in a moment. Secondly: the second principle is that the notice for production of papers must call for papers or information that is in existence, and cannot call for a compilation of figures or documents and cannot call for research to be done.
Now, I would freely say that if this motion were in the form of a written question, it would be acceptable. Also, if it were in the form of a notice of motion to be proceeded with under an ordinary motion, it would be acceptable.
However, it is not acceptable as notice for the production of papers. I would specifically refer you, Mr. Speaker, to citation 390 in Beauchesne, which talks about the kinds of things that can be produced, and they are all papers and information that exists. The description clearly is that the procedure is to allow Members to acquire factual information such as government papers, documents and reports which can be produced. I would argue on the face of this motion that it is impossible to know exactly what is being asked for, and it appears to ask for the compilation of statistics, which is not in existence now. I would argue for those reasons that it should be ruled out of order.
Mrs. Firth: I thank the Minister of Justice for his legal interpretation and, as always, his version of the way this House should be conducted and what the Speaker should rule on what subject matter.
If we look closely at the three motions for the production of papers that have been presented to us, really the request is the same for all three motions. The context of the first is really no different from the other two. I did some consultations of my own when I brought these motions forward, and it was considered that they were in a correct form. The Minister of Health and Human Resources made this announcement publicly about this information; the context is no different from the other two motions, which are seeking public information. For the verification of the Members in government who are wanting to know when it was made public, I will support that with an article from the Yukon News, Wednesday, October 14th, 1987, where the Minister of Health and Human Resources said, in a public forum she had attended, that they were looking at costs of different options, and that the future plans for improving the day care system in the Yukon would include subsidies, grants or a change in fee schedules. She said the first draft estimate of the cost was $900,000. So, therefore, the information was announced publicly, and I see no reason why, in the context of this government professing to be open and forthcoming with information, this information would not be provided. With all the substantiation the Minister of Justice has felt necessary to bring forward, it leaves me with one question: what is this government trying to hide by not making that information public? If they are prepared to make the information that is associated with the other two motions public, what are they trying to hide if they will not make this public?
Speaker: Order, please. On the point of order, the Chair is satisfied that the motions for the production of papers are in order. However, the Chair is aware that some confusion may have been caused by the style of motions for the production of papers. The Chair undertakes to review the past practice of this House. In this respect, it will review the practice of the House of Commons, and report back to this House.
Mrs. Firth: I had not anticipated the approach of the Members in the government. I had thought this was a simple motion asking for information but, as I have said, the Minister had made some public announcement about it, and some public reference to it, therefore I did not think it was anything that was confidential or top secret about it. In that public statement, I believe the Minister even went as far as to say she was not sure how soon they would come to a definite decision, but that she hoped to announce something within two months. If she is going to be announcing something and they have this information in the department I know the news media has been trying to find out what the costs involved we on this side are interested so we can review it with the public and see if it is consistent with this governments policy with respect to child care services.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The Member for Riverdale South has requested a detailed breakdown on the $900,000 in improvements to be made to the day care system. In a program area of considerable interest, and in which considerable inactivity occurred in the previous governments tenure, it is not unusual that a number of program proposals, options and ideas are under consideration.
It appears that the Member opposite has taken a figure of a draft estimate of cost of all options, if all options were to be immediately acted upon, as was quoted in an October 14th Yukon News report of the meeting I attended that the president of the national action committee on the Status of Women here in Whitehorse the previous week. It appears the Member opposite has incorrectly assumed that the immediate initiatives announced in my ministerial statement of November 10 will cost the $900,000 quoted. That is far from the fact.
There were a number of other things that were said during that meeting, where I listed a number of other totals as well. In a manner of speaking, they were ideas and we were talking informally. The kind of information that you saw in the paper is just a small part of that conversation. I heard the Member for Porter Creek East asking for it the other day, and he mentioned at the time that it included universal day care. I do not know where he got that information from, but he said it on the radio. I do not have the kind of information that she wants.
Mr. Nordling: I think we can take the Ministers last words as the story with respect to this issue: that this information does not exist. It is interesting to note that, back on October 18, 1983, the present Minister of Justice was talking about access to information. He stood up and said, I welcome this opportunity to speak to this principle because it is an exceedingly important principle.
He went on to say that freedom of information is one of the most important impediments to modern democracy. Then instead of allowing the Minister to get up and say that this information does not exist, he tries to stop debate and prevent us from getting information. Obviously this information does exist in some form.
The Minister, on October 14 quoted the $900,000 figure of this year. The Minister of Justice wanted to have it specified as to what papers. He wanted us to tell him, or the Minister of Health and Human Resources, that this information actually exists, and it could not fall for research. Obviously for the Minister of Health and Human Resources to use the figure $900,000, there is no research that needs to be done; the information exists, and there obviously was papers to come up with that number.
I do not understand how or why the Minister can stand up now and say that this information does not exist. I would at least ask the Minister to make a commitment to make an effort to come back to this House and show us where the $900,000 figure came from.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Could I briefly get into this debate? Having participated in many of the dozen or more debates in the past involving notices of motion for production of papers, I would just remind the Member for Porter Creek West that most of the ones brought here were defeated or amended by the previous administration as a matter of routine.
I worked at the House of Commons and had some occasion to prepare for debates on the notices of motion for production of papers and debates on the production of papers. I remember very clearly that the request for a specific document was absolutely essential in order for the debate to even proceed, much less have it approved.
The question of calculation of a range of options of course is something that Ministers and Members may get into in debates in all sorts of situations in public. As Members opposite who have been in Cabinet perhaps not the Member for Porter Creek West will know that when a government makes decisions it will consider options that come before Cabinet in the form of Cabinet documents which, by the Rules of this House and the House of Commons, are specifically excluded from tabling in the House. I have not heard anybody on either side of this House make a coherent argument that Cabinet documents should be tabled. If that is what was being requested then clearly the motion was out of order.
In a typically spiteful way, the Member for Riverdale South asked what the government was trying to hide. Nothing, of course, because the results of our deliberations on this question were announced publicly in this House by the Minister of Health and Human Resources, I believe, on the second day that we sat in this session.
I believe the costs associated with those decisions were also announced in the House. They are a matter of public record. Projections of cost implications of those initiatives are also available on the floor of this House to any Member who wishes them. So there is nothing to hide. Unless a specific document is requested, a specific document which is permissible to be presented in this House in other words not a Cabinet document we cannot comply with the motion; therefore, we have no choice but to defeat it.
Mr. Lang: The Minister of Justice made a feeble attempt to justify his point of order. Section 390 says, To enable Members of Parliament to secure factual information about operations of government to carry out their parliamentary duties and to make public as much factual information as possible consistent with the effective administration, the protection of the security of the State, rights to privacy and other such matters, government papers, documents and consultant reports, should be produced on Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers.
It is obvious that the Minister of Health and Human Resources made a public statement in her capacity as the Minister, regarding the question of day care. There is no request in this motion for a Cabinet paper. We are referring specifically to the statement that the Minister made in the meeting on October 14. The number was not pulled out of the air. We are talking about $900,000 of taxpayers money. I recognize that the side opposite does not feel that it is the publics right to know. It is the right of the public to know how the government is contemplating spending $900,000.
The spirit and the intent of the Notice of Motion that we have here is the same spirit and intent of the other two motions that the government has tabled, in providing information in this House, without debating the motion. We have one choice left. That is to ask, as the Member for Riverdale South has, what does the government have to hide? The government has stated that they have the intention of spending $900,000. All we are asking on behalf of the general public, which is going to pay for this directly, is how does the government intend to spend that $900,000?
The request is legitimate, and I do not understand why the side opposite is taking the position that they are, other than to filibuster, on this issue.
It is an unwarranted use of the majority that they have in this House. All we are requesting is factual information that was publicly announced by the Minister of Health and Human Resources?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Just to make a few simple points. The Member of Porter Creek East stated that the government has an intention, and has stated an intention, to spend $900,000 on day care. That is not a true and accurate statement. That has not occurred and the Member was wrong to say that. I should also bring to the Members attention that the same Member stated on an earlier occasion on this House when I moved as an Opposition Member, a motion for the production of papers I moved that a draft green paper on human rights be tabled. That motion for the production of papers was defeated. This was in April 14, 1982. That same Member said, and I quote, documents relating to policy decisions under consideration but not yet finalized would be exempt from tabling or bringing forward for discussion.
The problem here is that statements are made that the government is intending to spend $900,000. That is not accurate and the motion calls for the production of something that is not specified.
Mr. McLachlan: When I indicated my intention to say a few words on the subject it was mainly in relation to a topic that I had brought up during the Address to the Throne Speech, when I referred to the topic of open and accountable government. And I felt from the Members opposite, How dare you think we would not be open and accountable? This is the number one issue that is in our motion for production of papers: the open and accountable government. If the $900,000 is not true, are parts a) and b) a valid consideration? Is there an increase in the subsidies and grants? Can that information not be provided? I simply think that an attempt should be made for the total request to be honoured, in the spirit that the government has said: that they are open and accountable.
Hon. Mr. Porter: Having heard the voice of reason of the other two House Leaders, I would feel a bit lonely if I did not speak on this issue as well. The Official Opposition House Leader and I had not intended to speak, but I think there is a point of clarification with respect to the statements by the last speaker, inasmuch as his interpretation of our position on this matter is that it signifies that this government is not living up to the standard of an open government. I would refute that statement. I think that there are many instances where this government has, emphatically, produced information that has never before been allowed in the history of this Legislature.
If he would read through the previous debates he will find that out. If he does some research on this question, he will be sure by the nature of how this House is being conducted today that, indeed, this is an open government. On the question that the Member says is just information, why do you not make it available as enunciated by the House Leader of the Official Opposition, citation 390 of Beauchesne very clearly specifies the purpose of the Motion for the Production of Papers. If you read the following criteria to be applied in determining if the government papers or documents should be exempt from production although section 390 speaks about the principle of information it very clearly as well lays out which particular pieces of information shall not be released and should be exempt. Very clearly, in that section, Cabinet documents and those documents which include a Privy Council confidence, internal departmental memoranda, are clearly specified in Beauchesne citation 390 as being documents that are not to be released and should be exempt.
There are many times that many departments of government bring forward proposals to Cabinet on many issues and invariably, through the process of Cabinet government, they are considered and a decision made by Cabinet. We live with that process and that is how the government is structured. The fact of the matter is, our position regarding the funding issue of day care has been clearly laid before this House. The Members are intimating and implying by bringing forward this particular order that there is somehow another proposal that has not been announced to the public. As the Government Leader has clearly indicated, there is no $900,000 program that exists within the government for the funding of day care. The position of this government with respect to the funding of day care has been laid before this House and has been done so by the Minister of Health and Human Resources.
Mr. Phelps: I was not going to speak to this motion either, but we have a situation where there is a public meeting of day care and the Minister of Health and Human Resources stands up and says, in public, we are looking at the different costs of all options. She is unsure whether future plans for improving the day care system in the Yukon will include subsidies, grants or a change in the schedules, but she says the first draft estimate of cost is $900,000. Now, we have the side opposite trying to hide behind Cabinet documents. If these are simply Cabinet documents and there was no decision, what is the Minister doing standing up at a public meeting and making these kinds of comments?
She is out of line completely out of line. You cannot have it both ways. She should really stand and apologize in this House to the public for coming out with these ridiculous figures if they are ridiculous, and if they are based on some Cabinet documents that have not even been dealt with by cabinet yet. She is completely out of line. You cannot have it both ways. Stand up and apologize, and we will withdraw the motion.
Mr. Webster: I was not going to speak to this motion either, but clearly, from reading the newspaper article, it is clear that the Minister has considered all the costs of all the options, which totalled $900,000.
It does not specifically say that she has decided which options to follow, and the final bill is $900,000. That would be seen in the House when the budget is presented. The motion says that a detailed breakdown of the $900,000 in improvements are to be made to the day care system, and that there is an intention to spend $900,000. That is not true.
Speaker: If the Member for Riverdale South now speaks, she will close debate.
Mrs. Firth: The $64,000 question, or the $900,000 one is: is there a document or is there not a document? We have one Minister of the House saying that there is no document, that the document does not exist, that the information cannot be given because the document does not exist. Yet, there has to be a piece of paper somewhere in this government with that figure of $900,000 on it, from having done some review of child care costs.
The Government Leader has a nasty little way. He always has to accuse us of being spiteful. I brought an innocent motion to this Legislature asking for information about a public announcement that the Minister of Health and Human Resources had made. Everybody in the front bench has gotten upset about it. When the public saw that we were going to be spending almost $1 million on day care in the Yukon, they were phoning and asking what kind of Cadillac system of child care we were going to have.
The Members like to make fun of this and go on about what an open government they have. Yet, they come forward with these two other motions with the information that is tabled promptly. The Minister of Justice gives us a huge recitation about three or four citations in Beauchesne. The Member for Klondike reads the motion for us again. This is intelligent contribution. The Government Leader babbles on about how we are asking for Cabinet documents. It does not say anything about a Cabinet document being requested.
The Minister of Health and Human Resources is saying that she has a little piece of paper with $900,000 attached to it. Let us have it if it is there. Do not say that it does not exist and then say that it does. The media say that it does exist. The media are looking for this information too. The public is looking for the information. I do not care if it is a little teeny document or if it is 10 pages. We want the information, and we have a right to have it. The Minister made a public announcement about it, and we have a right to have it. People in the Yukon are interested in what the cost is going to be for child care and what this government is planning.
The government continually says that two and one half or three years ago this was the way that you guys did it, so we are going to do it that way to, and how dare you criticize us for doing it.
That is great. What are they doing? They are giving the electorate the choice of two evils. You were bad. We are not as bad, so we are not as bad as you guys were. That is what it amounts to. That is what people say to me.
Obviously we are not going to get any information from this open government. They are going to defeat the motion. They will return to surveillance. They will stand up, as the Government Leader did yesterday, and make unsubstantiated accusations about documents being stolen, yet they will not come forward with this information. The Minister of Health is constantly saying, The former government did nothing about child care and had no interest in it. We are interested in it, we are prepared to spend $900,000 on it. Yet we are not sure whether the document is a Cabinet document, a big document or a little, teeny tiny document, or even whether it exists, so I guess we have the choice of four options.
I am very disappointed to see the government react this way to this motion, particularly when they have made it so obvious. They have come forward with the information for the other two motions and intentionally left out the information for this one. I think that is going to raise great suspicions within the public and within the media. The Minister of Health and Human Resources says she does not know why; that seems to be her favourite answer these days. She does not seem to know an awful lot about what is going on in her department. The Minister will have her chance to get up and speak again I am sure.
I want to express, again, my concern that the government does not want to produce this information, and I want to ask what they are trying to hide. What is it that they do not want us to know; what is it that they do not want the public to know about the cost of child care in the Yukon Territory? We want the piece of paper with the total at the bottom of it for $900,000 for child care in the Yukon Territory that the Minister of Health and Human Resources announced at a public forum that this government was working on.
MOTIONS OTHER THAT GOVERNMENT MOTIONS
Speaker: Motions other than Government Motions.
Mr. Lang: On behalf of the House Leaders, I will request unanimous consent for the motions under Motions Other Than Government Motions to be called in the following order: Motion No. 3, Motion No. 20, Motion No. 19, Motion No. 4, Motion No. 1, Motion No. 6 and Motion No. 15.
Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: There is unanimous consent.
Motion No. 3
Clerk: Item No. 1 standing in the name of Mr. Brewster.
Speaker: Is the hon. Member prepared to proceed with item No. 3?
Mr. Brewster: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Kluane,
THAT it is the opinion of this House that Yukoners are continuing to be denied their rightful say in the management of freshwater fisheries as a result of the action taken by the Minister of Renewable Resources to terminate negotiations with the federal government for the transfer of this valuable resource;
THAT this House urges the Minister of Renewable Resources to immediately resume these negotiations; and
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to make reasonable and realistic demands of the federal government in these negotiations to ensure that an agreement, acceptable to all parties, is reached within a satisfactory period of time.
Mr. Brewster: I would like to start out by explaining to the Minister of Renewable Resources that I do not play politics with the future of the Yukon, of which he accused me. I am probably the least political man in this Legislature; I think sometimes even my own caucus wonders where I am going. There is only one way that I can have any influence on government to do anything, and that is by motions; I will continue to do this. If defending the Yukon and getting things moving for the Yukon is politics, I make absolutely no apology for that. It is with extreme regret that I must present this motion to this House. I believe more time has been spent getting this issue into the Legislature than in actually negotiating the transfer of freshwater fisheries of the Yukon.
A year-and-a-half ago, I proposed the following motion in the House: THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to recognize the importance of freshwater fisheries to the Yukon economy and accept its responsibility in negotiating the transfer of this important resource from the Government of Canada. Even though this motion passed unanimously, we appear to be no closer to a freshwater fishery transfer than we were then. Obviously, the Minister of Renewable Resources is not up to the task at hand.
The original move to bring freshwater fisheries to the Yukon was made by the hon. Howard Tracey. At that time, he was facing an extremely reluctant government in Ottawa; they did not want to give us anything and, if the truth be known, were in fact trying to take responsibilities away from the Yukon Government. In my short term as the Minister of Renewable Resources, I, too, tried to cut through all of that bureaucratic red tape to get things moving, but with no success.
It is not my intention to play politics with this issue, nor to take sides. I feel perfectly free to lambaste the federal government for not putting it up on the table, just as I criticized the previous Liberal government for not being able to put anything on the table. The onus is on us. If we want something bad enough, we have to fight for it. There is a problem that the Minister of Renewable Resources; he simply does not like to work that hard. The Minister would much rather travel to conferences to talk about fish and to eat fish than actually acquire the ability to manage this resource.
Let me give you a case in point. On July 18th, 1986, I received a letter from the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries inviting me to attend hearings in my area my area was defined as Victoria, Nanaimo, Vancouver, Prince Rupert and Kamloops. There was no mention of any Yukon community at all. I was deeply offended by this oversight and in my usual fashion made my opinions clearly known to the Senate Committee in no uncertain terms.
I am sure I was not the only one who received a copy of this letter from the Senate Committee. The Minister of Renewable Resources must have received this letter as well but he, in his usual fashion, did not do anything about it. I did, and it got results.
On October 13, 1986, I received a letter from the standing Senate Committee announcing that they were coming to the Yukon after all. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. I do not want Members to get me wrong. I am no great fan of the present Senate, but we have to use whatever forum or medium we can. I, for one, am prepared to use whatever forum I can to advance Yukon causes.
You may have noticed that the Senate committee wanted to talk about marketing of fish, but I explained to them that, before you can market fish, you first have to be allowed to catch them. Yukon got a pretty raw deal in the Canada/U.S. Pacific Salmon Treaty. I also used the opportunity to talk about the transfer of freshwater fisheries. Nearly all of the other briefs to the committee followed this approach. I would like to commend the Minister of Renewable Resources for the presentation he and his officials made to the Senate Fisheries Committee. I would also like to table the report.
It clearly shows that when the Minister does get motivated to do something, he can do a good job. Sometimes he needs just a good kickstart to get him going. When it comes to negotiating, however, the Minister could use a few lessons. In attempting to negotiate the transfer of freshwater fisheries from the federal government, the Minister has shot Yukon in one foot and is now taking careful aim at the other one. The demand by the Minister for $950,000 annually and eight positions to manage the freshwater fisheries in Yukon is totally unrealistic and, frankly speaking, not very smart.
The Yukon government might as well have asked for the moon and the stars. When you make excessive demands, you are in danger of getting nothing. The federal government has never recognized the importance of freshwater fisheries in the Yukon. Do any of the Members think that they are going to give us a bunch of money to run a Cadillac system? It just is not going to happen. Moreover, the Yukon government is going to have a hard time pleading poverty when it is throwing a $1 million budget around all courtesy of the federal government.
The Minister is reported as having said that the Yukon will not be a dumping ground for federal programs. He went on to say that he would not accept the freshwater fishery transfer because the federal government was not prepared to put enough money on the table to run it. His threat to go it alone is hollow. To quote the Minister, We would go back to our own funding sources to enhance what the federal fisheries in the Yukon is doing. Our own finances is the federal government.
Is the Yukon government going to fund the eight positions and spend $950,000 annually on freshwater fisheries that they are demanding of the federal government? Are they going to spend all this money and still have no say over how the resource is managed? This is foolishness. The federal negotiators in Ottawa must still be laughing at the antics of our novice negotiator. The Minister of Renewable Resources threat to take his marbles and go home simply does not make sense.
First of all, with all due apologies to the Minister, he does not have any marbles to take and it is not his game. We are playing a federal game. He does not gain anything by walking away. The feds will not even notice that he has left. They will, and probably still, are all laughing.
Let us give our heads a shake here. Let us examine why we want the transfer of freshwater fisheries. A major reason for promoting transfer is because the federal fisheries department has been managing this valuable resource. His sole preoccupation has been to protect and preserve the migratory fish. The freshwater fisheries has mainly been used by the Department of Fisheries as another lever against the placer miners. There is virtually no money and no staff devoted to freshwater fisheries in the Department of Fisheries budget.
Further, some of the things they do or allow are counterproductive. They issue permits for some sports fishing lodges that are operated by southern-based companies. These companies sell fishing tours in the summer months and then, as soon as the season ends, they immediately head south. Yukon receives very little benefit from this type of operation.
Yukon freshwater fishery deserves better management and I am convinced that Yukoners can do the job. Yukoners will benefit from assuming responsibility of the resource. The resource will be properly managed and the transfer should lead to a better working relationship between the Government of the Yukon and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. This better relationship should help the Yukon government to act as a mediator in resolving disputes over migratory species of fish between federal fisheries and other resource users. Ultimately I hope that Yukoners will be able to assume the management and responsibility for migratory fish, as well.
The transfer of freshwater fisheries would be a major step forward in promoting an integrated approach to resource management. Through sound management and land use planning, many needless conflicts between resource users could be eliminated. The Yukon government must take the lead role in this regard. The onus is squarely on the territorial government to ensure that there is cooperation and that all Yukoners and all Canadians benefit from the best use of our resources.
Further, I believe that the party in the best position to bring about a resolution of inherent conflicts between the fisheries resource protection and the extraction of placer gold, is the territorial government. This is one of the reasons why I have been urging the Yukon government to become more and more involved in fisheries resource management.
Mr. Speaker, in view of the 1987 Constitutional Accord, there is now a very important constitutional reason for proceeding with fisheries transfer now. I heard the Government Leader say that he was worried that the Meech Lake Accord would block further constitutional advancement. You would think, therefore, that the government would be serious about negotiating a freshwater fisheries transfer which would establish a very important precedent, and possibly influence how the Accord is to be interpreted in the future.
Let us get on with the job. I urge the Minister of Renewable Resources to go back to the table with realistic demands, and work out the best possible deal that he can get. The time for talking about the transfer about freshwater fisheries should be over. The time for action is now.
I would like to inform the Minister that on October 23, 1987, the Canadian Wildlife Federation passed a unanimous motion that the Yukon and federal government get back together and negotiate for freshwater fishing. I urge every Member in this House to support this motion. Thank-you.
Hon. Mr. Porter: At the outset of the debate I would like to comment on some of the specifics that the Member for Kluane has raised in his debate. First of all, the question of $950,000 a year: the Member is not correct. In our negotiations with the federal minister, we have not asked for $950,000 a year. What we have asked for is that over the initial three-year period, we should set aside $300,000 a year to do the necessary inventory work in all of the lakes in the Yukon. And after three years, when we have done the inventory, that cost will drop off the fishery responsibility.
The Member raises an interesting question about the transfer notion, as it relates to the Meech Lake Accord, which is a constitutional accord struck between the federal Crown and the provincial Crowns. This issue of constitutional authority or transfer of jurisdiction from Ottawa to the Yukon was never on the table, and the federal government would not even entertain any notion of discussing those responsibilities. In essence, all they are saying to us in the negotiations is management: All we are going to give to you, the Yukon government, is administrative responsibility and management. The constitutional authority, the authority to make law will still rest in Ottawa they still will control that. That is a fundamental position of theirs. So it would follow that regulation of placer mining, where there is conflict between fisheries and mining interests, will not be able to be resolved, even if we did just take management and administrative responsibilities. This is because it is the federal fisheries act that is used by the fisheries department I believe it is Section 31, the Leader of the Official Opposition would know that section and it is what the fisheries people rely on for their legislative authority to block the placer miners in terms of where there is a conflict with fisheries.
In summation those are some of the points I would like to clarify. I notice the Member for Kluane took some personal shots, as he had the opportunity, and I would not rebut or rejoin him in that sense because I do not think he really means it. We will leave it at that.
On the negotiations themselves I completely agree with the sentiment as expressed in the Members motion that it is better managed here in the Yukon than it is ever going to be in Ottawa. The question in the negotiations is what we are attempting to do is get the best deal possible for the people of the Yukon in the fishery transfer. One has to look at the federal position. The Member says you have gone too high with the numbers you have produced, but I only look to my department to ask them because they run wildlife programs on a daily basis for advice as to what they think is necessary for us to run a fisheries branch through Renewable Resources. They produce those specific numbers. We are negotiable on those particular numbers. It is very difficult to negotiate when you go to the federal Minister and he says, My bottom line is that you get what is in the Yukon, that is it, 1.6 person years, $55,000. We throw in one shot at $300,000.
There is no room for negotiations on that particular score as the federal Minister has put the issue down. Then you have to look at what exactly Fisheries is doing. The federal government currently has responsibilities for freshwater fish management in the Yukon as well as salmon management for the species. As they do in the Northwest Territories. When you examine the operation in the Northwest Territories and the Yukon there is a vast difference. The Yukon operation is run out of the Pacific region which is located in Vancouver; the NWT operation is run out of Winnipeg, where Fisheries has that particular office set up. You look at what they are doing in the Yukon: we are getting $56,000, less than one person. In the NWT the budget for next year in freshwater fisheries and these numbers were obtained by the Director of Wildlife as I asked him to call his counterpart in the NWT and get these numbers for me for inventory of freshwater fisheries, the federal government will be spending $600,000 in the next year alone. We asked for that in the Yukon for a two-year period and we cannot get it.
In the next year for O & M for their operation of freshwater fisheries in the NWT they are spending half a million dollars. Ten times the amount they are spending here in the Yukon.
So fundamentally there is an unfair attitude that exists within the Department of Fisheries as it views its operations within the NWT and the Yukon, and one has to wonder why we are treated so unfairly when compared to our neighbours across the Mackenzie Mountains.
I think that it is clear, and everyone of us in this House recognizes this, that there is a real problem with the federal governments operation on the freshwater fisheries issue.
I think that we are unanimous in that particular sentiment, and I think the people of the Yukon are. I have talked to a number of people in the communities, a number of people in specific interest-oriented groups, and I have not seen anyone who would take the position that, over the long term, there should be continued federal responsibility. There has to be something on the table that we can accept, that we can say is beneficial to the people of the Yukon. I will not accept the current position of the federal government. I invite comment from the side opposite on that particular proposal. I have heard them on our proposal. They are saying what we are advocating is simply too much, it is a Cadillac system. Are they suggesting that we take a broken down bicycle system and try to run a fishery on a non-existent program in the Yukon?
From my perspective, that is what is being put on the table. Are they advising me to accept what the federal government has put on the table? I would like them to respond to this. I would like to hear those comments.
On the particulars, the motion that is before us, if you read it clearly, states that the Government of the Yukon, through my office, has basically shut the talks down. That has never occurred. We have not walked away from negotiations. We have not shut the talks down. As a matter of fact, the federal Minister of Fisheries was supposed to come to the Yukon on November 5 to meet with us. Unfortunately, as I have had it explained to me, because of a memorandum from the Prime Ministers office on travel, the federal Minister of Fisheries had to cancel that meeting.
There is no intention on the part of this government to shut those talks down. I was just passed a note as we were sitting here that the federal Minister of Fisheries office now has put to us the idea of mid-January as a potential date for him to come to the Yukon to again begin these negotiations. That is a very important point of clarification with respect to the motion that we have on the floor of the House.
I repeat our position that we are prepared to negotiate. We are willing to accept a program that we deem is in the best interest of the people of the Yukon. We have not received any proposal at the negotiating table that I believe is fair to the people of the Yukon, and I will not accept any proposal until we see a position from the federal government that meets the basic needs of the Yukon.
I do not believe the people of the Yukon should be treated any differently than anybody else in Canada. I do not believe the people of the Yukon should be treated any differently from the people of the Northwest Territories. I think we should have a fair shot at resources that the Government of Canada makes available to all Canadians, and those resources should be given to the people of the Yukon on an equal basis just as to they are given to any other Canadian in this country.
As well, earlier in his statement the Member asked the question, What does the Minister of Renewable Resources intend to do by saying that now we are going to have to go out on our own? What we are attempting to do is we are trying to continue a cooperative effort with the federal government. We are saying to the federal government: fine, if you do not want to enhance the fishery resource in the Yukon, if you want to continue to neglect the fishery in the Yukon, we feel that something should be done about it now.
For example, the other day the Member for Riverdale North came into my office and said: Look, the Fish and Game Association is interested in putting forward signage on the highway system to indicate to the travelling public where there exists a fishery resource, where there are potential fishing sites. I agreed to look at our programs, to look at the guidelines of our signage programs, and try to accommodate the request of the Fish and Game Association as represented by the Member for Riverdale North. Fundamentally, what we are talking about when we talk about a program that is unique to the Yukon is that we would like to look at potential alternatives in the government that the people of the Yukon can enjoy. For example, if we expand on the motion that the Fish and Game Association has put forward, I think one of the areas we should be looking at is developing fisheries from the perspective as to how it would enhance the tourism sector of our economy. Another way in which we could look at this issue and the federal Minister of Fisheries has agreed at the previous meeting I had with him to assist me in this matter is to try to look at a current economic development programs that the federal government operates that can be project-specific. In other words, if we want to do enhancement programs, they can be jointly done with the Fish and Game Association, ourselves, and, say, the Council for Yukon Indians. Then I think we have a responsibility to try to gain access to those programs and try to get the benefit of those programs set aside to assist the fishery development.
As well, the Member insinuated that if we are going to do any program funding, we are going to have to rob Renewable Resources programs. That is one of the arguments I have made on accepting a transfer that is not resourced adequately. If we take a responsibility from the federal government that has basically been gutted, if we want to deliver according to the demands of how the people in the Yukon have been living, we would have to steal from other programs. Basically, that is what we would have to do. In this instance, my position is I am immune to the Member for Porter Creek East; it is like mosquitoes: if you get enough dope, they will not bite you, and I have built up an immunity system over the last four years so I cannot even hear a word he is saying but directing my comments to the Member for Kluane, on the question of funding my proposal is that if there is going to be a program that is going to be funded by the Yukon Government the major source of that funding should be from licences revenue. I think the Member for Riverdale North would agree with the statement of fact that the Yukons licence revenues, the licence fee charges levied by the government, are some of the lowest in Canada. Five bucks is what we are talking about in terms of the fee for Canadians to be able to fish in the Yukon; in most areas other than the Yukon it is $15 or $20. What I am saying is that if we are going to expend revenue, that is one of the sources we would look at. It would take quite a bit of time to be able to change those fees because we would have to operate through the Department of Fisheries and put forward a request for regulatory change affecting the fee structure, and then it would go through the process. That is no change from the process as it exists anywhere else in this country. Regulations are held by the federal government. The provinces make recommendations for regulations and the federal government approves those regulations. Sometimes those regulatory changes can take in excess of a year to change.
We are willing to continue to cooperate with the federal government to try to look at programs and ideas that can enhance the fishery. We want to do this by talking to the people of the Yukon. We are willing to sit down with the Fish and Game Association, the Council for Yukon Indians and any other organization that would want to discuss this matter with us, and examine the various alternatives that can be open to this government to take a Yukon initiative to try to enhance the fishery resource that we are all in agreement with.
Because of the comments that I have made, I cannot accept the motion that was presented by the Member for Kluane. Out of deference to his record in the House and his real intentions in bringing forward this motion, I would not counsel our side to defeat the motion. I would rather look at an amendment to the motion that can satisfy what he wants to do, which is to put pressure on both governments to get the job done, but as well, to clarify the reality of the situation.
I move That Motion No. 3 be amended by deleting the following words: As a result of the action taken by the Minister of Renewable Resources to terminate negotiations with the federal government for the transfer of this valuable resource, and that Motion No. 3 be further amended by deleting the word these where it appears in the second clause of the motion and substituting, for it, the words freshwater fisheries transfer.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Renewable Resources that Motion No. 3 be amended by deleting the following words: As a result of the action taken by the Minister of Renewable Resources to terminate negotiations with the federal government for the transfer of this valuable resource and That Motion No. 3 be further amended by deleting the word these where it appears in the second clause of the motion, and substituting for it the words freshwater fisheries transfer.
On the amendment.
Hon. Mr. Porter: If the motion is left intact as it is, it suggests that talks should terminate. I have produced evidence to this House that talks have not terminated. There are planned discussions between myself and Mr. Siddon in January. Further, the second amendment that was proposed would simply change these negotiations because there are no negotiations referred to; that we insert freshwater fisheries transfer, so that anyone who is reading the motion would understand what the intent of the motion is and what it addresses. These are amendments of clarification and are of a technical nature. I hope that they will receive consideration by the side opposite.
Speaker: Are you prepared for the question on the amendment?
Hon. Mr. Porter: Division.
Speaker: Division has been called.
Mr. Clerk, would you kindly poll the House.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Agree.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Porter: Agree.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Agree.
Mr. Joe: Agree.
Ms. Kassi: Agree.
Mr. Webster: Agree.
Mr. Phelps: Agree.
Mr. Brewster: Agree.
Mr. Lang: Agree.
Mr. Nordling: Agree.
Mrs. Firth: Agree.
Mr. Phillips: Agree.
Mr. McLachlan: Agree.
Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 15 yea, nil nay.
Amendment agreed to
Mr. Phillips: I do not intend to speak for long, but this is a subject that in no way should belittle its importance. A great deal has already been said in a motion that was brought forth here in April 30, 1986. Those same arguments were heard again today.
I would like to thank the Member for Kluane for bringing this motion forward and bringing it back to this Legislature.
When this government came into power two-and-a-half years ago, it said the transfer of freshwater fisheries was a priority. I hope it does not treat all its priorities the way it has treated this one. The government has decided to stand firm with a pie-in-the-sky request for funding along with the transfer. It is becoming more clear every day that, in this political game, the only one who is suffering is our freshwater fishery resource itself. I believe in some areas far too much damage has already occurred. We all know that when it comes to fish and wildlife it takes a great deal of time to repair the damage. It certainly cannot be repaired overnight.
The Government of the Yukon must get back to the table today with a realistic proposal. They have a prime responsibility to protect the fishery resources of Yukon. This impasse is not all the fault of the Yukon government. As we know, it takes two to tango and, right now, it seems that the two governments are not even at the same dance.
The federal government has, for far too many years, almost totally ignored the freshwater fisheries in Yukon. Their officials have struggled with a bandaid approach and a shoestring budget. The federal Department of Fisheries in Ottawa has to bear most of the responsibility for the terrible state of our freshwater fisheries today.
I listened to a speech recently by the hon. Tom Siddon, the Minister of Fisheries, and he told the audience freshwater fisheries resource was, and still is, a very high priority of his government.
Today I would like to challenge the hon. Tom Siddon to put his money where his mouth is and get back to the table with a realistic offer. I would like to extend a similar challenge to our Minister of Renewable Resources and encourage him, in the strongest terms possible, to get serious and get back to the table as well. There must be some room for these two governments to move. The freshwater fisheries resource loses ground every day that there is not an agreement. We can ill afford another year without any action. The Minister of Renewable Resources in the Yukon has recently changed the name of his department to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and it is high time that he accepted a little more responsibility for the resource than just changing the name.
Mr. Phelps: I have listened with some interest to the debate thus far, as I did back in April of 1986 when a similar motion was before this House and passed unanimously. As I said back then, it is an issue of tremendous importance to the residents of Hootalinqua, because that is where the freshwater fisheries is for the most part. It takes in Fox Lake, Lake Laberge, Coghlan Lake, a large part of the Teslin River, Teslin Lake, Tagish Lake, Bennett Lake and Fish Lake to name a few. The mismanagement of freshwater fish in this jurisdiction is critical because, of course, all of these lakes are easily accessible by tourists because of the highway systems as they presently exist in the Yukon also by all the residents of Whitehorse, many of whom have cabins on one or more of the lakes I have just named. Of course, as all Members of the House know, the best freshwater sports fishermen in the territory come from the Carcross-Tagish area, and that has been proven many, many times.
We have all acknowledged in the past the poor efforts that the feds have made to maintain this resource; it is absolutely deplorable. But I did have to listen with some interest to the speech of the Minister of Renewable Resources because he gave as a contrast the NWT where there is substantially more money being spent in O&M and inventory. However, that is probably because they have a huge commercial freshwater fisheries there, and we do not have that in the Yukon. In fact, in terms of netting fish for food and commercial sale as a freshwater resource, I do not think that that has ever been seen as a realistic, large scale resource of the future. I think most Yukoners agree that the best income to be realized in terms of using fish in a commercial way in the Yukon would be from sports fishing by guiding tourists and that sort of thing.
The vast freshwater resources of the NWT dwarf those of virtually every part of Canada, in Great Bear Lake, in Great Slave Lake and so on. The contrast does not do much for the debate in this House. It is just not a very realistic comparison. That is not to say that a lot more should not be spent here. A lot more should be spent here. A lot more undoubtedly should be spent in the NWT on freshwater fisheries by the federal government as well.
Our real basic concern here is the way in which negotiations seem to taking place. We are playing the labour negotiations game. It is not going to bear fruition. This government has a duty to come forward with a realistic, bottom-line position from which it will not budge. The position should be reasonable enough that it can be sold to the people of the Yukon Territory, and in particular, those most directly affected. It should be simply sold to the rest of the nation.
Playing the game that we are going to start at X and come down to here, they will start here and go to there does not work in those kinds of negotiations. A bottom line position is realistic and from which we will not budge is the way to go. I urge this government to come forward with the position that is not gamesmanship but is the real final position. If it is realistic, I am sure that all of us will find ways to work in concert and to sell the position.
We were asked for our comments about the federal position. It is simply not acceptable. I do not think there is a person on this side or a Yukoner who feels that it is. I would really like to see us go with something that is better, that does have some realism attached to it and that we can all sell as a bottom line position. We have done this before in other kinds of negotiations with the federal government. The COPE claim was a situation where we took a bottom line position right from at least three years before the final deal was signed. We sold it, and sold it and sold it, and we finally got it. This is another situation that bears the same kind of approach.
I am very pleased to support this motion of the hon. Member for Kluane. It is certainly true that next to Hootalinqua, that riding is perhaps the most important sports fishing area of the Yukon. I am sure that if there were a few experienced sports fishermen who resided in the Members constituency, they would probably come up with results as good as those that we have seen year after year from the Tagish-Carcross area.
Speaker: The hon. Member will now close debate if he now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Mr. Brewster: This side is a good Conservative party, and Conservatives never agree with each other. I would also mention Kluane Lake, Tin Cup Lake, Dog Path Lake, Kathleen Lake, Dezadeash Lake, Nelson Lake and Martin Bates Lake, and that does not include all of the rivers. Undoubtedly, the Leader will give me a little punishment when we get out of here. That is alright because that is how we Conservatives live. The Minister of Renewable Resources mentioned that he likes our opinion on the motion. No bicycle. No Cadillac. If we can get a Ford in between, we will all be happy.
Maybe I owe the Minister an apology, when I read a statement he made. I am not a negotiator, but when you make the statement, We will go back to our own funding source, and this is heard by the other side that is trying to beat you out of money, I think that this is not very good negotiating. I am not too smart, but I do not think statements like that should be made. If you did not break off negotiations, then I apologize, but I do not statements like that should be made when you are dealing with Yukon money, and put the other side in a position of thinking they have got us, we can use our own money now, I just do not agree with that at all.
There is no such word in my dictionary as cant, and there is no such word as no. If I have got to sit on the outside of the door, I will sit on the outside of the door, and I am quite prepared to stay there and stay there and stay there. You learn, as you get older in life, they can holler and scream at you all they want but if you keep going back, they get tired. I found that out in this Legislature: if I keep coming back, most of the Ministers get tired and give me what I want. Sometimes it takes me four or five years, and I will probably have to stay here another four or five to get the other things I want, but I will be around to do it.
I agree with my leader, that you cannot compare us to the Northwest Territories because they do have many more, and larger, lakes than even Kluane has although we do have the largest lake in the Yukon and that is something that my leader cannot deny. I am quite prepared to go with these amendments. We have agreed with them, and if this makes the Minister happy and solves some of his problems, I have no problem with it. My idea is simply to turn around and make it very plain that this Legislature is solidly behind it. We are fed up with what Ottawa does, and we want some of this stuff turned over to us, and we want it done just as fast as we can get it. And, right now you are the Minister, and you are the person in charge who can get this.
Motion agreed to as amended
Motion No. 20
Clerk: Item No. 2 standing in the name of Mr. Phelps.
Speaker: Is the hon. Member prepared to proceed with item 10?
Mr. Phelps: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Leader of the Official Opposition
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government should request the low bidder on the fire pump system in Carcross to hold his bid for a period of 15 days in order that government officials may properly consult with the Fire Department in Carcross; and
THAT if additional funds are required to provide this adequate, essential service, the government should consider dropping or delaying filling of one or more of the following government positions advertised in the Whitehorse Star, November 13, 1987, namely:
Manager, Student Services $40,166 - 52,232
Translator $1,457.41 - 1,690.62, bi-weekly
Program Coordinator $38,828 - 45,270
Supervisor, Highway Maintenance $32,717 - 37,900
Corrections officer $31,263 - 36,200
Traducteur/trice $1,457.41 - 1,690.62 bi-weekly
Mr. Phelps: I should have said in the motion, but I did not, that even if you just delay buying these new positions new desks, you would save enough to be able to afford an essential service to the community of Carcross.
By way of background on this important matter, fire has always been a concern of residents in the historic Town of Carcross; in fact, it is one of the older Yukon communities that was wiped out by a great fire back in the early 1900s. Several hotels burned at that time, as well as several residences, and the Caribou hotel, which unfortunately is not in business right now, was built after the great fire.
Many of the buildings in Carcross are old buildings that have been restored by government or by individuals, and many of the ones in the downtown area have sawdust as insulation between the walls and nothing else. They are frame buildings that would go in a flash if a fire was to start in a wind. I have said that the government has put money towards the restoration of a good many of these buildings, and it has. It has a stake in some of the businesses in Carcross and, of course, has been restoring the S.S. Tutshi, which could go up in flames rather quickly. The government has been restoring that vessel over the course of a good many summers.
In addition, the housing of the Indian Band has been increased and residential housing has been built, although we are now out of land, and we are at a bit of a standstill.
We have, at the present time and have had for some time, a fire truck that can deliver one load of water to a fire. That is adequate if it is a small fire and if it is caught immediately and there is not a strong wind and so on a good number of ifs for it to be adequate. But the Department of Community and Transportation Services realized that the fire truck by itself is not adequate. That truck has a pump that is carried with it in order to refill the fire truck, but of course the delay in refilling it could be critical.
The officials from that department went to Carcross and consulted with the fire department. They went around the village and looked on site for the best possible solution, which was to build a small pumphouse on the railway bridge so that there would be a pump in place with an insulated culvert down into the river so that instantly 500 gallons a minute would be available should a large fire occur. That facility was designed so that, once in place, it would be capable of pumping that kind of quantity of water in either direction to the south side of Nares Lake where the original Indian village was, and to the north side where the S.S. Tutshi and the commercial and other residential part of town lies.
I think it is important that people realize that, with that facility in place, hoses could be kept on standby by the bridge, which could be unwound and cover most of the downtown area of Carcross almost immediately with a steady supply of water in addition to the fire truck.
The source would be in an area of town that is abandoned in the wintertime where a fire could start without anybody seeing it. Before anybody would observe it, it could be completely out of control. The fact that a lot of these old buildings, the hotel, the store, the depot, the S.S. Tutshi and some other buildings in that area are unoccupied and unused during the winter months is a very serious concern to the people of Carcross.
Very recently, in fact within the last ten days or so, there was a situation at the Post Office where somebody set fire to some bulletin board notices in the Post Office and very nearly started the building on fire. Had that not been caught or seen in time, it is quite likely that the whole downtown area, including all those historic buildings, would have been gone, and it certainly would not have been stopped with one fire truck load of water.
In any event, everybody agreed on what the best solution was. Last winter drawings had been prepared at a cost of some $20,000 using outside consultants. The project went to tender, and there were a bunch of bids at that time. The low bid was rejected. Shortly after that, on January 14, I came forward with a motion in this House, which is reported in Hansard on January 14, 1987 at pages 459 and 460.
The government had estimated $93,000, at least that was the information given to me and the lowest bid was $108,000. It is interesting that at that time the Minister disagreed with my figures and stated that the shortfall was really about $60,000. I want to once again quote him in the House because he said, In the past few months, it has become 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 the 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 considered within reasonable financial limits. Even with the discrepancy between the Member for Hootalinquas figures and mine, I think the reasonable limits would be met.
That means to me and I have read it many, many times that even if there was a shortfall of $60,000 on the engineering departments estimates then, nonetheless, because of the safety requirements and the need in Carcross, that it would be considered reasonable by the Minister.
The Minister went on to say that the reason for canceling the project in January of this year was not the bid. It was the fact that they were having a hard time putting together a deal with White Pass for the use of the railway bridge in Carcross.
What has happened is that, apparently very recently, they cleared up any problems with White Pass and put the pumphouse out for tender once again. Again, there were a number of outfits that bid on the project. This time, the low bid was higher costs have gone up. Building costs have gone up, mechanical costs have gone up. The low bid now is some $122,000.
When it became apparent that the department may not accept the low bid and may not go with this project once again it is a serious time of year because it is the winter time during which you have most fires in the Yukon I tried to get in touch with the Minister. I was put on to people in his department on Friday the 13th. I always kind of pooh-poohed Friday the 13th as an unlucky day. In this case it was an unlucky day not only for me but for Carcross. That was the morning that they decided not to go with the project. I was told that they thought it should only have cost $85,000. Therefore, it would appear that the shortfall was $37,000, not $60,000, which was apparently okay to the Minister back in January but not on Friday the 13th.
The officials in the department told me that the department had decided to go with plan number two. That was to have a trailer and a pump, and house it in a temporary kind of insulated shed, where the firehall is right now. They had not talked to anybody in the community about this. I immediately talked with the fire chief and the band, and they did not know anything about this. That was going to cost them $20,000 for a trailer and a pump, and approximately $20,000 for the shed, for a cost of $40,000. This much money for a band aid solution. I suppose they are saying, never mind the $30,000, now that it has cost us for outside consultants for design. It cost them $20,000 last year and another $10,000 this year and the $5,000 or so it cost them to put this thing out to tender. It is a waste of money. Never mind that it is a band aid solution. It is how we are going to go without even consulting with the people in Carcross.
On Monday there was some consultation by the department with the fire chief. I talked to the fire chief after that on Tuesday morning. He was told this trailer was the way to go, but the department had no money in its budget and they would be lucky if they got the trailer and the shed. The other interesting fact that was put forward was that a good feature of the trailer and the pump in it, is that once Carcross got a permanent kind of solution for its fire problems it could be trucked off somewhere else.
What a contrast that is with the remarks made by the Minister in this House on January 14, 1987 when he said: We do recognize the increased activity around the centre of town in terms of investment put into the town and into peoples homes and business. The S.S. Tutshi has been upgraded and it would be a true tragedy to see that vessel burn into oblivion because people did not have the foresight to provide proper fire fighting capabilities to the community. In so doing, the department had to ensure that a system was designed that was reliable and could withstand the test of time and weether in a sense that would provide a service in the winter months for many years to come. There is a significant capital investment that would have to be made in the community to ensure that would take place.
What an aboutface. First of all, money is not the real problem. It is White Pass. Then when they come in with a low bid which is closer to their estimate than it was in the first place, they refuse it on the grounds of money alone. Secondly, rather than go with the system that would stand the test of time, they come in with a band aid solution one of the good points in favour of that band aid solution is that they figure they can use it somewhere else.
The position the Minister is taking simply is not good enough for Carcross. This is a very serious situation. The idea that most of the town could be covered by hose, from the outlet of the pipe from the pump on the railway bridge, is a very important one. That is the way Whitehorse was protected for many, many years, from the Yukon River. I do not believe the trailer comes close to providing the same kind of protection for Carcross. I think, and I am confident in this, that it will not be satisfactory for the south side of Nares Lake, which is where the reserve is and a lot of old houses that could go up rather quickly in a fire. I really feel the department has underplayed the danger to the community, and perhaps underestimated the impact of a strong wind on a fire in late winter. I would wish that every serious-minded Member in this Legislative Assembly support this motion.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Where to begin? I actually enjoyed very much the speech by the Member for Hootalinqua in his presentation this afternoon. I think it was a fairly good rendition of what the situation has been. I would dispute, however, significantly some of the points he made. I will say this, and it may be one of the first times it has happened here: I certainly had every intention of coming into the Legislature this afternoon and voting the motion down for what I believed to be sound reasons. However, upon reflection, and after having listened to what I think are decent remarks and cogent arguments made by the Member for Hootalinqua, it would warrant a review. For that reason, I would be tempted to recommend to my caucus that the government actually vote positively for the motion. I would have to read it once again just to make sure I am not doing anything that would be unwarranted.
I do not think we are going to be canceling any job advertisements even if two of the jobs are one and the same the translator and the French version of the same. That was obviously not intended to be serious in any case.
The point of the matter is that this government is very concerned about fire protection in Carcross and it was this government that initiated the activity to review the situation in the first place. We felt that a 1,200 gallon fire truck with some back-up there is a water truck with 800 gallons and a holding tank of 5,000 gallons, which is standard equipment for the communities was not good enough given the investment in that particular community.
What I will do, given the remarks that the Member read back to me that I made myself, given the remarks the Member has made, and given the arguments that have been put forward, I will be recommending that we support the motion.
Motion agreed to
Motion No. 19
Clerk: Item No. 3, standing in the name of Mr. McLachlan.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Faro,
THAT it is the opinion of this House that parliamentary democracy in Yukon should be improved by providing television coverage of the proceedings of the Yukon Legislative Assembly on a more consistent and higher quality basis than is presently the case; and
THAT the Members Services Board investigate and report to the Assembly on the methods and costs of alternative means by which this goal might be attained.
Mr. McLachlan: In moving this motion I wanted to draw particular attention to all Members of the 26th Legislature and subsequent Legislatures, that we do have a golden opportunity to bring the workings of government closer to the people of the Yukon through the medium of television. At least as far as rural members are concerned, probably very few of our constituents have much idea of what goes on in these chambers. They may read from time to time of the debates in the Legislature, get them when the newspapers do reach them. They will sometimes hear short 30-second clips on the radio and will hear the news stories of the debate. How long all this remains with the constituents is anyones guess. Most, I am willing to wager, have very little concept of the inside of the Legislature. The mysteriousness is not quite so pronounced for those who live in Whitehorse. They may physically visit these chambers if so desired. But I believe it would all be made so much easier if there was a community channel that could carry the programming nightly.
We already have in existence a Parliamentary Broadcasting Society. We have the legally recognized framework for carrying on broadcasting from these chambers in the form of radio. It would take very little extra to include television broadcasting within this legal framework.
I believe that the quality of television coverage of Question Period could be upgraded considerably; obviously that is the case when it is not presently covered. But upgrading from the form of television coverage that most of us have been used to in the 26th Legislature is going to take some effort. For example, the present design of the Legislature and our House Rules allow for a television camera to be mounted at one end of the Assembly only. This is hardly conducive at times to flattering portrayals of Members. The best camera pictures are taken by what is known as in the industry as straight-on shots. Television coverage of Question Period has been provided solely by private enterprise. To upgrade the mechanism the hours of TV coverage will almost inevitably require expenditure of public funds. That is the only way it could be, for we cannot expect private enterprise to film and carry continual, uninterrupted coverage of Members in debate and it probably does not carry very high Nielsen ratings.
Members of this Legislature who have visited other legislatures in Canada are probably quite aware of the recent improvements made in the delivery of television services in provincial capitals. The television system in Regina is first-class. Queens Park has recently improved its coverage extensively when that Legislature was remodeled in 1986. There are some things that I believe this Legislature is ahead of the Northwest Territories in; television is not one of them. They have had a system for two years now. With the advent of home VCRs, Members can, for a small fee, videotape their sterling performances and send the tape to their constituents. I believe that could be far more exciting than the old-fashioned method of mailing out Hansard. The medium of television coverage will be able to record events for future posterity of which we only now have a memory. Important events such as: the swearing in of new governments; a visit by royalty to this Legislature; an identification of special guests in the VIP box. At present we have a permanent record of what was said in this Legislature we have nothing of what was seen. Who knows, we may spawn a new era of television viewing in the Yukon with this move. When the Government Leader rises in the House to introduce the Capital Budget, we may have the greatest TV give-away game show the Yukon has ever seen.
If the Member from Kluane is ever able to engage in a conversation with a raven again, we may have a series that will rival Mutual of Omahas wildlife show. And when the day care debate heats up again as it inevitably will I am certain we will see a television shoot-out that will rival the Cagney and Lacey show.
For those who are unsure how all the television coverage would ever make it to our airwaves, let me remind Members that CRTC regulations make it mandatory that television stations carry a minimum percentage of Canadian content. We, the politicians, can provide that coverage, but we ask only that the local stations carry it in accordance with regulations. At a time when the government is developing an entirely new policy on broadcasting and communications in this territory, I think that it is timely that we give consideration to the advancement of television in the Legislature. I believe that it can raise the level of debate within this Legislature and move Yukon politics more in step with the 20th century and the video era. I am interested in the views of other Members. Thank you.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: For my personal point of view, it is bad enough having a Hansard to record all my grammatical errors. The prospect of having videos to record for all time the way I look, is too frightening to imagine. I have always considered myself extremely fortunate to live in the Yukon Territory and have the opportunity to practice politics in a pre-television political culture. That is my personal view. No doubt I shall not survive its introduction.
The mention was made of the Member who moved this motion of the present radio coverage of our proceedings. I daresay, either because the signal is so weak or the debate so undiverting, that I had almost forgotten that we had radio coverage. I have certainly never, in my time in this House, ever heard anyone except one particular citizen ever mention to me that he has ever heard it. I may be dead wrong, and there may be thousands of people out there turning to their radios every afternoon to listen to our debate. I would be very pleased to hear from them, because I have not heard from them so far.
I must deal with the motion not in terms of my own interest but in terms of the interest of the House and in terms of the interests of our democracy. In that connection, I want to respond to the suggestion from the Member opposite that bringing television into the House would improve the quality of debate and the decorum of the House. The experience everywhere is exactly the opposite. I would refer Members to a recent article in McLeans by George Baine which made the very convincing case that television has turned the Question Period in the national Parliament into a total sham. Even though I am an unashamed supporter of one of the Opposition parties in the House of Commons, I believe the Question Period is no longer a question period at all, but some kind of glorified parliamentary gong show, and completely defeats the original purpose of Question Period which was to ask questions of Ministers about policy and to receive policy response. It is now regarded as some kind of political gladitorial sport, played out for the entertainment of citizens across the country. I use the word entertainment advisedly, because it is not a forum for providing information, which is what it was originally intended to do.
I would think there are plenty of observers who would also say with conviction that the introduction of television into the Congress of the United States has caused debate into that body to deteriorate considerably. It is such that members now get up and pontificate entirely for the cameras, entirely to use up time, and entirely to make political points not to have a reasoned debate and exchange of views, as was the original purpose of Parliament.
There is a further entirely unfortunate development in the House of Commons that is the result of television. People now feel obliged to wear red ties and pin-striped suits, get their teeth capped and have their hair blow-dried, or whatever it is they do. I find that frankly appalling, and the idea that one day on the basis that they look good on television we elect a Parliament full of blow-dried airheads, is something that I find slightly frightening. If we are going to have a day and an age when people get elected on the basis of how they look and how they sound, rather than on the basis of what comes out of their mouths, I think that would be very unfortunate.
Having said all that, if we are going to seriously contemplate this, I think we should take a look at some of the experiences elsewhere in the country. I remember when television came in Alberta. I remember going to that Legislature and being surprised that there was only one television camera angle, and that pointed at the government front bench. I think the Opposition only got the backs of their heads on television. I think that would be an objectionable arrangement to Members here.
The model of the electronic Hansard in the House of Commons is probably, if we are going to have television, not a bad standard. It means that when Members are speaking, the camera is only on them. Apart from the silliness of people packing the benches immediately behind the person who speaks in order to pretend the House is full when it never is, except during Question Period, that system works quite well. There cannot be reaction shots. There can only be closeups or medium shots. We only see shots of the Members speaking, the Speaker, and occasionally a wide angle shot of the whole House.
That is the way it ought to be done, if it is done. That means that the rules under which television operates in the House have to be very clearly laid down by the House and by no one else. I can imagine nothing more irritating than having bright lights in ones face while one is trying to make a point or answer questions. Question Period is close enough to a third degree without having some shining lights in ones face. That would be unfortunate. Members should not have camera crews and technicians wandering around on the floor of the House. We should not be tripping over cables. We should not have to suffer that interference during our debate.
However, the notion that the Member put, which is not embodied in his main motion, the suggestion that this should all be done with public funds, is one that we need to consider very carefully. There are, I do not doubt, many things that Members on all side of this House would propose for expenditures from the public purse before they would have us spend the large sum of money that would be involved to provide gavel to gavel television coverage of this House throughout the territory.
Notwithstanding my personal views, I recognize that television is here to stay. This House will have to deal with that reality. There are many people who do not read newspapers or books anymore. They depend on television for their news and their information. Our party will support the reference of this subject to the Committee that is proposed in the motion. I would caution Members about thinking that the matter of the money associated with this idea can be dealt with easily or quickly. I do not think that it can.
Mr. Brewster: For a change, I have to agree with the Government Leader. He talked about people having their hair done. In the professional hockey leagues, they have contracts that state that they have to have their hair permed or waved so often, and they get extra pay for that. I wonder if the Government Leader would be willing to let that be included too. I would have a problem with that.
I really do not know what we did to the Member for Faro. He wants us all to get booted out and not get elected next election. He certainly got the answer. What goes on here would put all of us in the poorhouse, and we would all be out of here in very short time.
Mr. Lang: The question of cost has to be looked at very carefully. There is a fear being expressed by some Members of this House of television. Although up to now during this session we have not had television, we have in the past had television in these chambers. I have not seen any blowdryers being used by Members. Perhaps, in some cases, they should be used. It is important to recognize that this Legislative Assembly was the first assembly in Canada to permit television in its chambers.
Thats an historical fact, although I believe the Alberta tries to claim that honour for themselves. I think people should realize that the number of people who do have access to the TV, in Whitehorse in particular, watch it. I am surprised at the number of people who comment that they have watched Question Period on TV. The same, unlike what the Government Leader has said, applies to the radio; there are quite a number of people who listen to it as well. I agree with the Government Leader on the use of telecommunications becoming used by the general public so much that people are starting to get to the point that they do not read the newspapers. I think we have a duty to review what we can with respect to this issue and report back to the House. At that stage, a decision can be made. So I, for one, support this resolution.
Speaker: The hon. Member will close debate if he now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Mr. McLachlan: I have a couple of remarks in conclusion. In response to some of the points raised by the Government Leader, rules can be written; there is no question of that. There are only 16 Members in the Legislature, not the 282 members that the House of Commons has. Knowing the Government Leader can be a great promoter of commonwealth parliamentary association things, I am a little bit surprised about some of his reactions because the whole thing is intended to raise the level, not denigrate it. I have no doubt that a move to television coverage would be costly; there is a price tag, there is no doubt. The road could be fraught with a number of pitfalls and it may in fact be as costly as the 1974 move to 12 Members or the 1978 move to 16 Members. I simply want to say that progress and improvements always carry a price tag. Are we willing to pay it, that is the question?
Motion agreed to
Speaker: Pursuant to the directions of Standing Order 11(7), it is the duty of the Chair to now call Bills Other Than Government Bills. Before doing that, the Chair must point out to the House that the content of Bill 101 is the same as that of Bill 90, which received second reading on November 17th. The established practice of this House in such cases is to allow both Bills to remain on the Order Paper, but, once one of the Bills has progressed beyond first reading, not to call the second Bill for second reading unless the first is withdrawn. I would therefore rule that Bill 101 may not be called at this time. If Members desire a full explanation on this practice and the parliamentary authorities supporting it, I would refer them to the ruling made by Speaker Taylor on October 18, 1983.
BILLS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT BILLS
Bill No. 102, Second Reading
Mr. Phillips: I move that Bill No. 102, entitled An Act to Amend the Territorial Court Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Whitehorse Riverdale North that Bill No. 102, entitled An Act to Amend the Territorial Court Act, be now read a second time.
Mr. Phillips: The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Territorial Court Act in order to set out the term of office for justices of the peace that will comply with provisions of the Human Rights Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Currently, Section 41(1) of the Territorial Court Act states: Subject to this Act, a justice ceases to hold office (a) on obtaining the age of 65 years, or (b) when he resigns.
This section was effectively superseded by the prohibition against age discrimination that is contained in the Human Rights Act, which came into force on July 1, 1987. Section 36 of the Human Rights Act states: This Act supersedes every other Act, whether enacted before or after this Act, unless it is expressly declared by the other Act that it shall supersede this Act.
Since there is no such expressed declaration in the Territorial Court Act, clearly the Human Rights Act is paramount. I am sure every Member of this House understands this to be true. We heard an affirmative statement to that effect by the Minister of Justice here today. What I fail to understand is why, on September 8, 1987, two months after the Human Rights Act came into force and effect, the Department of Justice sent a letter to a then justice of the peace advising him as follows: It has come to my attention that you have continued to act as a justice of the peace beyond your 65th birthday, and I am informed that you reached this age on July 16, 1986. As I am sure you are aware, the Territorial Court Act provides that a justice ceases to hold office (a) on attaining the age of 65 years. This means that, effective immediately, I will be unable to authorize any payment of fees since, by operation of the Act, you are not a justice of the peace.
The officials in the Department of Justice, of all people, must know what the law states. The Minister of Justice must take full responsibility for the appalling ignorance of his department. What is worse, the Department of Justice followed through and terminated the services of this distinguished justice of the peace. A grave injustice has been done, and this injustice must be corrected immediately. The Minister of Justice cannot absolve himself of the responsibility for this unjustified dismissal. He cannot hide behind the courts or his departmental officials on this one, no matter how hard he twists and squirms.
This action was not only a serious travesty of justice to the individual involved, it is also an affront to all Yukon senior citizens. On November 13, 1987, I received a copy of a letter that was sent to the Minister of Justice by the Yukon Council on Aging that complains about this obvious case of age discrimination against a senior citizen. They call upon the Minister of Justice to reinstate the individual in question. I would add that there should be full compensation, as well as an apology, from the Minister of Justice.
In the Bill I have presented today, Members will note that there is no age limitation at all.
One option that could have been presented is a mandatory retirement age, but that problem is: what age? What age would be in keeping with the Human Rights Act and the prohibition against discrimination of age?
We feel the most appropriate option was to give justices of the peace term appointments that have a fixed number of years regardless of age, and that is renewable. This appears to be the fairest way of proceeding. What we mean about the reappointment section would be that all justices of the peace in the Yukon would reach their anniversary date upon the changes to this Act, the five-year period would start now. Of course, the gentleman in question who was let go because he reached the age of 65 would be reinstated, and that his anniversary date, as well, would be this date. Five years from this date I would expect that the process would be that all the names would again be submitted to the Judicial Council. The Judicial Council would in turn go through the process that they go through in looking at JP appointments. They would recommend the JPs again to the Minister, and the Minister would follow through with the normal process, which in some cases has not worked very well in the recent past, but hopefully it would work better in the future.
I was extremely disappointed that the Minister of Justice did not present a bill correcting this obvious flaw in the Territorial Court Act. In fact, I waited for over a week for the Minister to bring in such a Bill. The Minister has had over two-and-a-half months since this obvious mistake was made by himself and his department, and he has refused to do anything about it. As we sit here today, there is still no bill before us to amend the Territorial Court Act, which would correct the injustice by this government.
I have done the job for the Minister of Justice, and it is time that we, in this House, respected the laws that we make in this land and that we correct this injustice, and I commend this bill to the House.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I notice that Mr. Thompson is in the gallery, and I welcome him here today. Also it gives me a moment of pleasure, if I may be allowed that, to see Members opposite using the new Yukon Human Rights Act. That is gratifying indeed.
What has happened has already been outlined in some form. Mr. Thompson received a letter signed by a Mr. Williamson who is the Director of Court Services. That individual, in his job description, has a duel reporting relationship, he reports to this government on administrative matters and to the courts that is specifically the resident judge of the Supreme Court and the chief judge of the Territorial Court who is also the chief judge of the Justice of the Peace Court by statute.
The court administrator received instructions from the Chief Judge of the Territorial Court to send such a letter. That letter was sent. I found out about that letter after reports were made in the media.
It is, and will be, the policy of this government that we do not support mandatory retirement based on an age discrimination. The provisions of the Territorial Court Act for both judges and justices contain an age discrimination based on an arbitrary age limit. I have been advised by some lawyers that that age should be defended in the courts as constitutional in that it is a defensible limit under our Charter. I have been advised also by some lawyers that there is an argument that the Yukon Human Rights Act does take precedence over the Territorial Court Act; however, in this specific case, primarily because of the definition of employment, it would not help Mr. Thompson.
I am not accepting those arguments. I am simply reporting that they were given to me as advice. Members should be aware that there is a court action brought by Mr. Thompson about this very issue. It is not a policy of this government to try and argue in a court, or anywhere, that there should be age discriminations upheld that are based on arbitrary ages. There is an obvious problem here. That problem must be corrected. Members will appreciate that I, as Minister of Justice, do not have it in my power to simply reinstate Mr. Thompson. There is not any action that I can do that will achieve that.
The appropriate course of action to take is to propose to the Legislature an amendment to the Territorial Court Act. That amendment should provide for an appointment for the judges as well as the justices, which will not encompass a mandatory discrimination on the basis of an arbitrary age, and it should, at the same time, maintain the independence of the judiciary.
Now, as a general proposition, the proposition that is put before us in this Bill, while concerning a term appointment for the Justices, is not a bad proposition, and it is not the intention of the government to vote against that principle. However, as Members opposite well know, this measure was introduced yesterday, which enabled us to get a copy of it in the late afternoon, and through the House Leader, we asked for some time to study this measure. Now it appears to be a very simple measure; however, it does require some study to consider the effect on the individuals involved, the effect of the fixed term of office. Nowhere in Canada is there a five year term of office, such as this requests, and it requires some study.
Normally, the government does not introduce a bill on one day and require the Opposition to proceed with second reading on the day immediately after. I would submit that that is legislation by ambush, and I would say that because we have sympathy for this particular principle, because it would be wrong to vote against this principle, we should not simply vote this measure down; we should study it with the attention that it deserves. It is clear to me that this measure is a measure of some urgency and that we should proceed. I hope that there is a bill that passes this House before Christmas either this bill or a government bill.
The Members are aware that this is a bill that was listed in the Throne Speech. Consequently I move that debate be now adjourned.
Point of Order
Mr. Lang: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
I want to state on the record for the Member opposite that the purpose for proceeding with this bill was that we would not have the opportunity of debating this for a minimum of three weeks. And the importance of this is such that there is a private individual expending his own money to argue his case in court and now the Minister of Justice is coming forward to this House, under the guise of using the rules, for the purpose of muzzling debate if I might say so, Mr. Speaker in order that we might wait until Christmas time for a resolution of the problem.
It is unacceptable.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: With the greatest respect, that is not a point of order, and the Member knows it.
Speaker: There is no point of order.
Some Members: Division.
Speaker: Mr. Clerk, would you please poll the House?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Agreed.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Agreed.
Hon. Mr. Porter: Agreed.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: Agreed.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Agreed.
Mr. Joe: Agreed.
Ms. Kassi: Agreed.
Mr. Webster: Agreed.
Mr. Phelps: Disagree.
Mr. Brewster: Disagree.
Mr. Lang: Disagree.
Mr. Nordling: Disagree.
Mrs. Firth: Disagree.
Mr. Phillips: Disagree.
Mr. McLachlan: Disagree.
Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are eight yea, seven nay.
Motion to adjourn debate 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.
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chairman: Does Committee wish to recess until 7:30 p.m?
Some Members: Agreed.
Chairman: We will recess until 7:30 p.m.
Chairman: Committee of the Whole will now come to order.
Mr. Nordling: Before we start our business tonight I would like to introduce members in the gallery. We have with us tonight the Boy Scouts of Canada the First Porter Creek Wolf Cub Pack and three of their leaders, Craig Hook, Bruce Underhill and Vanessa Grant. The Cubs are out on what is called a ramble tonight, and they have rambled down to the Legislative Assembly to see how the Government of the Yukon works. I have explained a bit of the procedure to them and they are all anxious to see us get under way.
Hon. Mr. Porter: As well the government would like to acknowledge the presence of the Business Administration Class from Yukon College who are here, I understand, on an assignment to look at politics and government. I would also specifically like to introduce the former MLA for the Community of Old Crow, Mr. Grafton Njootli.
Chairman: We have the Committee welcome everyone.
Bill No. 80 An Act To Amend The Assessment And Taxation Act
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This Act, as was mentioned in the Second Reading Speech, is a fairly simple amendment to the Assessment and Taxation Act. As Members will remember the Rural Electrification Program, which was implemented in 1984 to assist rural property owners with electrical extensions and the Legislature subsequently in this last year passed the unanimous motion requesting that the program be extended to include telephone line extensions to subdivisions. This simple amendment permits that to happen in the same manner as electrical extensions.
Mr. Lang: We are pleased to see the amendment coming forward. We put a resolution on the floor of the House to allow the electrical program to be extended to apply to telephone service. Does the Minister have any applications pending for telephone services in those areas that would be affected depending upon the results of this legislation ?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The only area that would be pending would be the Tagish Beach-Taku subdivision proposal. That would be the only area, at this point, that would fall under the terms of this program and this Act. There have been a number of enquiries made to the government about electrical extensions elsewhere in the territory. Through negotiations with NorthwesTel, it was determined that it was really a responsibility of the telephone company to provide those extensions. It subsequently agreed to provide extensions in those areas. The only area that I can think of right now that could take advantage of the program would be the Tagish Beach-Taku subdivision proposal.
Mr. McLachlan: Can the Minister not confirm that there is an application for use of this Act for telephone service in the industrial subdivision outside of Carmacks.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There was some desire from persons in the industrial subdivision to take advantage of this program this summer. It was expressed by the previous Member for Tatchun that there was some desire that this program be used for that extension. We discussed the matter with Northwestel, and they agreed to provide telephone extension at their expense. They have also agreed to extend it beyond the subdivision to properties a mile down the highway.
Mr. McLachlan: Can the Minister tell me if there has been any thought given to increasing the amortization period to 15 years, rather than ten years. There are some areas that, depending upon the distance, could represent a substantial cost still to run telephone lines to some rural areas. Two areas that come to mind are out of Watson Lake and out of Dawson City. Is the ten year period not high in cost for some of those people. A 15 year amortization may make it a little more reasonable.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: When the Rural Electrification Program was initially crafted, a good deal of thought, I think, was put into the ten year amortization period. To this date, there have been no suggestions by any community group that has suggested that it should be for a longer period. The ten year period was crafted well enough to strike a reasonable balance. If there was significant evidence to the contrary, however, we would have to take a look at that proposal to extend it beyond ten years. At this point, ten years seems to work quite well.
Mr. McLachlan: Most of the applications only come from a community group. Can an individual not apply under the same program?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, they can. Individuals have applied and have been successful.
On Clause 2
Clause 2 agreed to
Title agreed to
Clause 1 agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that you report Bill No. 80 out of Committee without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 9 Change of Name Act
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The Change of Name Act is intended to create a new administrative process that individuals may use instead of cumbersome and expensive court applications for legal changes of name. The Act recognizes the need for families, whether headed by parents who are legally married or by persons who have some other form of stable relationship, to share a common legal identity, as well as the rights of individuals to seek changes in legal identities. However, the Act also recognizes there may be legitimate interests of other parties, such as those of the natural parents of children. Finally, the Act recognizes that children themselves have rights by requiring their consent to changes in name when the children are 12 years old or older.
The Act has been drafted to ensure consistency with legal name change laws and practices in the other provinces and the Northwest Territories, as well as congruence with the principles expressed in the Uniform Law Conference Draft Change of Name Act.
The Member for Riverdale South was asking some questions with respect to the Act. I believe she was interested in knowing the change in the costs, why this was going to be less than the former bill. If she has already read it, there is not the expensive court case to go through, as has happened in the past, and that you need only go and fill out an application at the Registry. There are other things that you have to do. It does comply with some of the other jurisdictions, especially Saskatchewan. The intent is also to comply with some parts of the Uniform Law Act. She mentions, the involvement of women and the benefits to women. I just think there are certain things in this Bill that women were not allowed to do before under the old Act. This allows them to make name changes and hyphenations and that sort of thing.
The Member for Faro wanted to know about the exclusions of Roman numerals and symbols in the name changes. The reason for that is that they are not done anywhere else, and it was just to be consistent with other jurisdictions. For instance, if we allowed them to use Roman numerals or just plain letters for their names, it would not be acceptable in another jurisdiction where a birth certificate would have to be changed. They would not do it. It is consistent with other jurisdictions in Canada.
Mrs. Firth: When I asked about the cost of this Act, I did not ask that question in the context of cost to the individual. It is fairly evident in the Act itself that that cost will be reduced.
I am interested in the phrase the less expensive administrative procedure, and I would like some explanation from the Minister as to how the administrative procedure is going to be less expensive. Is that the administrative procedure within her own department or where is that justified?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I am not exactly sure whether or not that includes the administration. I do know that, for instance, a fee will be charged to the person who comes in to change his or her name, a specific fee that I believe is in draft form now to go with the regulations. That would include a number of things such as Gazetting it and other things that have to be done in order to have a name changed. I really do not know any more than that.
Mrs. Firth: When the decision was made to bring in a new Act as opposed to amending the old one was an analysis done as to the amount of money it was going to cost to implement this legislation? Was it going to be more? From the explanatory note, I am concluding that it was going to be less. I would like some explanation from the Minister about that, as well as an explanation of whether or not this means that any new person years are going to be attached to this legislation. Because of this, are we going to require new staff within the department to implement the legislation?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: When she asked for the information on the cost, I was under the impression that she wanted the kind of information I brought back. I am sorry I did not bring the proper information back, but I will. I have information that is not going to cause any more work; the amount of person years we have in that branch would be maintained.
Mrs. Firth: Was it expensive for the government to operate under the previous law? The rationale that is given is that it is going to become less expensive. Now I understand that for the individual, but I would like to know administratively. Whenever new legislation is brought forward, quite often an analysis has to be done regarding the cost, because person years and costs are incurred to the government because of the legislation. When we did the Public Libraries Act, the Minister readily admitted that there was bound to be some extra costs associated with it. So I think those are the first two questions I would ask about every new piece of legislation that comes in: is it going to require more person years, and is it going to cost the government more money?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: It is my understanding that it is not going to cost the government any more money. The work that will be done by the registrar and those people in that branch is already being done as a result of the court cases, and whatever they will be doing now will be also done again, except that forms will have to be filled out forms that were previously filled out in order to go to court.
Mrs. Firth: As a point of interest, can the Minister tell us how many people come in, say, in a year, and request name changes?
Hon. Mrs. Hon. Mrs. Joe: I do not have that information. If she would like it, I think it would be quite easy to get and bring back to the House.
Mrs. Firth: I would expect the Minister to have that kind of information. It is a relevant point as to why the Act would be changed. I would like to know if there is any demand, or whether five people get their name changed, or 500. If there is a handful of people it would seem excessive to go to the trouble of writing a whole new Act rather than amending the old one for the two points the Minister mentioned, which was for the availability of women to go back to their maiden names, and to make it less expensive. It is an extremely relevant question.
The Minister made some comments about this Act being consistent with other Acts across Canada. Can she tell me which provinces they looked at? She mentioned Saskatchewan as one. Is this a Yukon-oriented Act, that we have picked the good parts from the provinces, or how is this Act written?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: It is a definitely a made-in-Yukon piece of legislation using Saskatchewan as a bit of a guideline more than any other province. We have to be consistent with those Acts across Canada so that they comply with each other.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell me what was so good about the Saskatchewan Act that it should be applicable to us here in the Yukon? What was the basis for using that Act?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I cannot really answer that question. The lawyers did it and I did not ask that question. If she really wants to know what was so great about the Saskatchewan Act and how it might better have applied to the Yukon, I can certainly find that out.
Mrs. Firth: I do not want to know what was so great about the Saskatchewan Act, I simply want to know what was so relevant in that legislation that is applicable here for Yukoners. The lawyers are not bringing this Bill and this new law to the Legislature, the Minister is. The Minister is imposing this new law on the people of the Yukon Territory, and I think she should bring back that information before I am prepared to pass any of the law.
The Minister also made some comments in the second reading speech about the proposed legislation. While providing for easier and less expensive access, it also strives to protect existing common-law rights of both men and women within the context of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Can the Minister give us a little more explanation on that?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: In the former Act there were restrictions that dealt mainly with individuals and there was not the freedom to change names as there would be in this new Act. As she knows one of the women of the Yukon had to go to court in order to get her family name. There were other parts of the Act that possibly could have done the same thing, but it makes it a lot easier, for instance, for common-law relationships to deal with name changes in that family, and easier for individuals to retain or regain their birth name.
Mrs. Firth: I asked the Minister also about the absence of the regulations and why the regulations were not attached. Could she give us an answer to that question now, please?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The regulations were not ready at that time. I have them in draft form. They include the fees and the forms that have to be filled out for the change in name, and that is all the regulations will include. They are only in draft form but they replace the forms that we had with the old Act.
Mrs. Firth: Was the Minister aware that her regulations would not be accompanying the Act when the Throne Speech was drafted? When the Throne Speech was given, it was announced quite wholeheartedly that all of the regulations would be accompanying the Acts that were going to be tabled in the Legislature.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: If the Member reads the Throne Speech carefully, she will determine that it did not say what she just repeated.
Mrs. Firth: I did read it carefully, and I guess perhaps it did not say exactly that, but the implication was there. If the Minister of Justice would read the Throne Speech, he will find that the implication was there, that this government had embarked on a new, exciting step and that as never before the regulations would now be accompanying the Bill. I believe that was the impression that was left with Members of this Legislative Assembly as well as the media when the Throne Speech was given.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: That was a point that was discussed in the drafting of the Throne Speech. Great care was given to the wording to make it clear that it would not be possible to introduce the regulations with bills on every occasion. By doing it on this occasion, we were pursuing an innovation. There is another initiative before this House that will talk about a reference to a Standing Committee to deal with draft regulations, which is an innovation. The Throne Speech does not indicate of infer, at all, that all bills in all cases will have the regulations attached when they are presented in this House. The Member who speaks, and who has been in Cabinet, will know that there are all sorts of practical reasons that it is not always possible. I doubt if any government anywhere could ever be able to commit itself to that.
Mrs. Firth: I do not disagree with the comments of the Government Leader other than the impression was left with people that the regulations would be included with bills. However, it is an interesting point, and I am sure that we may get to discuss it again. Can the Minister tell us when we can expect the regulations?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I cannot give a firm date. I explained that they were in draft form, and it is just a matter of going through the necessary process that regulations go through. I would suspect that they would be ready soon. I have copies of them here. They are just forms, and it is just a small matter of sending them through the procedure that they must go through.
Mrs. Firth: What is the process that it has to go through, and can we expect it before this Bill is passed in this Legislature?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The process is under review, because the Minister may choose, if the Motion on the Order Paper is passed, to send the draft regulations to the Statutory Instruments Committee, or the Minister may choose to go to Cabinet and have the regulations approved first. In this case, the regulations are entirely the fees and forms, and there is no substance in the regulations that affects the sections of the Bill.
Mrs. Firth: I would hope that we will have an opportunity to see them before we are asked to approve the legislation.
I just want to go back to the Throne Speech for a minute where it says on page 12 that, My Ministers will be bringing before this House a number of bills on these and other matters. Of particular interest in this session will be the introduction of bills written in simple language and style. They are intended to be understood and used by everyone, not just lawyers. As well, these particular bills will be accompanied by their proposed regulations, which used to come months after the bills were passed.
I do not like to be picky but, to me, it is pretty conclusive that the regulations would be accompanying the bills. The list of bills includes the Change of Name Act.
What were the specific policies that this government considered when it came time to rewrite this legislation? I know that when legislation is written the Cabinet gives direction to the lawyers within the Justice department who are going to be responsible for drafting the legislation. What was this governments policy and what direction did it give when the legislation was to be drafted?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: These regulations almost go hand-in-hand with the Vital Statistics Act, as the Member knows. We had brought the Vital Statistics Act to this House in the last session. It was passed. A lot of the changes that were made in here would comply with some of the sections of the Vital Statistics Act. We were going to introduce it in the last session, but we were not able to finish it at that time. It was sent by Cabinet to the legal services, and our lawyers prepared it in draft form for us before it went to the legislative review committee.
Mrs. Firth: What is this governments policy when it comes to this issue? They obviously had some specific policy about it being offensive to women who wanted to revert back to their family name or maiden name as most people call it in the case of a separation or a divorce. Was there specific policy direction that was given? I am thinking specifically of policy decisions that have to be made about things like publication. What was the direction that was given? What is this governments policy with respect to that particular issue?
In a very short and simply way, the Minister should be able to outline the policy direction that was given to the lawyers, or were they just told to look at Saskatchewans and make one up for the Yukon?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: There was no specific policy with regard to any direction in the Change of Name Act, but there were sections of the Act that were outdated, as many of our Acts are. There were many changes being made across Canada. There was the Uniform Law Conference where that law was being put together. Our main purpose was to have a Bill that was up-to-date that met the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and one that would make it simpler for everybody to change their name.
Mrs. Firth: I have the old Act here and it is very short. Can the Minister tell me specifically what sections she directed the lawyers to look at? Was there no direction given to them? Did she just tell them to draw up a new Change of Name Act?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I think lawyers are much smarter than that. They know what to do when you ask them to bring a Bill up to date. They know which issues are outdated, they know the challenges that could be brought before a court under an old Act that do not comply with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I give the lawyers credit for including those kinds of things in a Bill when they draft it, and far be it from me to say change all of these, because I am not a lawyer. I do know that when we change Acts we change them to improve them so they will be easier to use and people who have been discriminated against in the past can no longer be discriminated against because of a law.
Mrs. Firth: I disagree with the Minister one hundred percent. We are the legislators. We make the laws. I would not go to some lawyer and say write me a law for the Change of Name Act. As legislators, we have a responsibility particularly the government Members to tell those lawyers what the policies are and that they are to be reflected in the new law that they are about to impose on the people. The message I get from the Minister is that she did not give them any policy direction, she simply told them the Change of Name Act needs to be rewritten, so rewrite it.
She has to come into this Legislative Assembly and defend this Bill, this new law that people are going to have to live by. I would like some reassurance that this law reflects somebodys policy direction or philosophy, and that it is not just Saskatchewans. I do not put my responsibility as a legislator in the hands of a lawyer. It is up to the Minister to come back to this Legislature with some policy direction that went into the forming of this legislation.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I have already answered that question. She might not like the answer that she heard. We gave the lawyers the authority to put together a document that would conform with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as everybody else in Canada is doing. I have no problem coming to the House and defending that concept or policy, or whatever it is that she wants to call it. I have faith in the lawyers who have been putting together legislation for years. There are sections in there that are outdated; there are other sections in there that did not comply with other sections, and we were looking at making it consistent with other pieces of legislation in other jurisdictions. We want to be up-to-date with our laws: we dont want to have laws that discriminate against anybody and, in fact, this law is doing that.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister is wrong. There is to be policy direction given when a new law is written and I do not know how we are going to proceed with this bill if the Minister is not familiar with the bill: why it was written, where the changes were made, what the policies of this government are if there are any. How can we proceed in a clause by clause debate? I do not get the impression that the Minister even understands why the bill is here.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I am not really sure what she is getting at but I know she is getting at something. For all the other reasons that I have explained to her more than once we had those necessary changes made. We also made it easier for people to change names. We also made it cheaper for people to change names and we made it a lot more fair for people to do that. I am not really sure whether that complies with her philosophies on life or what it does, but it certainly does improve on the old bill. It includes a lot more than what was in the old one and women have applauded us for these changes. They knew we were doing it and they expected it in the last session; it did not happen then and they wondered when it was going to come back again. We certainly did have input from the Womens Directorate and people that they are in contact with.
Mrs. Firth: I do not know how the Minister can debate this bill if she does not even know why it was changed, where the old act was changed. She did not give the lawyers any direction, she let them write it up. So this bill is not hers, it is the lawyers, that wrote it up. She is a law-maker. She is coming in this Legislature to make a new law for people to live in the Yukon Territory, and now she is telling us that she does not even know what the policy was behind the new law. It is not the lawyers that make the laws. It is us as legislators, who bring them to this Legislative Assembly and ask for them to be passed. I do not doubt that there are some women out there who have read it and who are in agreement with it, and who understand it. I am very disappointed in the Ministers comments tonight, and I want to register that disappointment on behalf of all of the Members on this side of the Legislature, because I can remember being a minister of the government at some time and I do not feel that I am being overly critical in saying that I do not feel that the Minister is taking her responsibilities seriously enough when she brings forward this piece of legislation, and is so unprepared to explain the policy direction that was given when the legislation was drafted. Even to the point where we do not know tonight how many people requested these changes.
Mr. McLachlan: Is the change of name we are referring to only the surname?
May one then change given names as well? Is there a limit on the number of names that can be registered with a surname? Is two or three the maximum to go with the surname or can one add seven or eight names?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The Act allows for changes of first and last names. In case of the last name, a person can have two names with a hyphen. In a last name, there cannot be four names with a hyphen.
The Minister for Riverdale South made a comment. I see nothing irresponsible about directing my department to go to a legal services draftsperson to put together a piece of legislation that is outdated, so that it would conform with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in Canada. I do not see anything irresponsible about that. I do not think that fact that there may be half a dozen people who change their names if there are that many, does the Member think that we should not bother with it. I dont feel the same way.
If there were three or four people a year who wanted to change their names and our laws were still outdated, still did not comply with the existing laws, I would still give direction to have it changed. I feel that strongly about those individuals and their rights.
Mrs. Firth: This government is supposed to be setting priorities. For the Minister to say that even if there are only six people who wish to change their names, they deserve to have this right as well. This government is supposed to set some priorities. We have 2,000 children with parents who require child care services who are in a state of limbo right now. Obviously, that was not a priority because of this heavy legislative program.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: Point of order. We are talking about the change of name and not children.
Chairman: On a point of order.
Mrs. Firth: We are in debate about the government setting priorities, and I simply raise that as an example and as a comparison. I think it is perfectly in order to make comparisons about how this Minister is coming into general debate with her legislative program.
Chairman: There is no point of order.
Mrs. Firth: I will defer to Mr. McLachlan to ask his questions.
Mr. McLachlan: Certain people in the entertainment industry have a practice of adopting only one name. The name that comes to mind is Valdy. Is the Minister saying that to change a name to one name from the common given Christian names under this Act would be illegal
Hon. Mrs. Joe: That would not be illegal.
Mr. McLachlan: On the idea of using the Roman numerals with the names, is the Minister saying that has been put in our Bill because it is no longer done anywhere else in Canada? I see the Minister nodding her head. Does that also mean one cannot change to a numeral system, but if one arrives in the Yukon with a numeral, that is okay?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: This one is a bit complicated. I was given the information that we included it in our legislation because it was consistent with other jurisdictions but, as I mentioned before, if we did allow them to use a number or a letter to change their name to and sent that information back to where they were born, and if that jurisdiction did not have that in their change of name law, or whatever they call it, that they would just completely ignore it and leave the birth certificate the way it was. So, it would not be legal. If we allowed ourselves to do it in the Act, we could do it but it would not make any difference in the place they came from, so they really would not have a name change except here in the Yukon.
Mr. McLachlan: Is there a restriction on the number of times one can change his or her name? What is to keep a person in subsequent years saying: I do not like Smith or Jones anymore and I am going to take a new one. How often can this occur?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: An adult has the right to choose a different name. I do not know whether or not they can do it every day of the week, but an adult can. I do not know whether or not they will.
Mr. Lang: This is a question of policy direction. If this was to make things easier for those who wished to change their name, why is there nothing in the legislation making a time requirement for the Registrar to respond to an application? In other words, if I put my application in they could sit on it for three years the way the legislation is written and the way I read it.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I do not know about that. I did look through it, and I do not know whether or not it is indicated anywhere else. If the Member wants me to find that information out, I would be interested myself and I would get that information.
Mr. Lang: I appreciate the Ministers honesty. Perhaps we should get the person who is responsible for drafting the Bill to come here and explain it to us. We are asking the Minister policy statement questions. I thought the Member for Faros question was a bona fide question as well. In reference to the Minister of Health and Human Resources response, she did not answer it. There should be some serious consideration given with respect to timeframe for the Registrar to respond to an individual who has made an application. In the legislation, you have one section where you have within 30 days to appeal to the courts if you do not like the answer you have gotten from the Registrar, but there is no requirement for the Registrar ever to respond in any event. It would seem a to be a reasonable request to have it outlined and give some direction to the civil service.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I do not know if it was a problem before a time period of waiting and I do not believe if it was in the old legislation either. If the Member can tell me that it was, then I would accept that, but I do not think that it was. It is just not a common practice.
Mr. Lang: There is not much point in proceeding with this debate. The Minister has come to us to say she was going to improve the old legislation that she was responsible for, and she tells me she does not know whether or not it was in the old legislation. She is the one who is sponsoring the Bill, not myself. If you want me to take the time, perhaps I could explain the Bill to the Members opposite if I had a few minutes to spend with the legal draftsman.
Mrs. Firth: I am not prepared to go through a piece of legislation, a Bill, a law that the people of the Yukon Territory are going to have to live by with a Minister who says that she has looked through it. The Minister should know this Bill off by heart and should know what it is going to do, what the shortcomings are. If she cannot debate that with us here and give us that information, we better get somebody in here who can.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The Members on the other side are getting picky and petty. They do that whenever they come up against me. I believe I have given them the kind of information they need. According to a person who knows the Act a lot better than I the waiting period was not in the old Bill. I have given them other answers that are quite acceptable to other people I have talked to. I am not sure what the problem is with this Bill; it is a very good Bill; it meets the requirements of many people who have wanted an updated Bill. The content in it is good; it makes the necessary changes, and certainly it is a Bill that most people can live with.
Mr. Lang: I want to pursue this idea of a time limit being put on the government to respond to an application. I realize this idea has not come from a legal draftsman, it has come from one of the Members of the House and that does not matter much to the side opposite, but it is a legitimate thought that it should be incorporated into the legislation, because it is not in the old legislation. That is one of the reasons the Bill is before us; there are deficiencies in the old legislation. I do not understand why there should not be that type of guideline, and basically it is a guideline to the civil service.
Could she explain to me why it is a bad proposition?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I did not say it was a bad proposition; I did not say that at all. What this Bill does and what is so good about it is that it does conform to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It gives individuals the freedom to do certain things they could not do before.
If the Member feels there should be a time limit for making a name change, then he can make that amendment. We have made amendments to your bills in the past, and you have made amendments to ours. It is a simple procedure and they know it.
Chairman: Any further general debate?
Mr. Lang: There is one other area that I would like to pursue, and I did not get a dollar from the Minister there. What is the intention of the government? If one applies for a change of name, what is it going to cost an individual?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: We have a suggested fee of $50. This is in the proposed fees for the regulations. Fifty dollars would include the Gazette fee, which is $17.50, and a certificate to include search, which is $10.00.
There is a number of things that have to be done in order for a name to be changed and that suggested fee in this draft is $50.00 and would include the Gazetting, among other things that have to be done. The birth certificate would have to be changed, and all sorts of other things, but the $50.00 would include all of that. We have other schedules in here for election of name by married persons that is $50.00; revocation of election of married name that is $25.00. Those are the fees that we have, but the $50.00 would include all of the necessary changes and notices that would have to be made.
Mr. McLachlan: Can the Minister advise if the registrar has the right to refuse a name change? We have that provision in the Corporate Companies Act where someone may be applying to start a corporate name that is too close to someone elses. But common names, when you get a large number, are not uncommon; the difference would then come if the first and second names were the same and you get the same initials. I am wondering if the Registrar has the right to say, We have got too many Smiths; you will have to change it to something else.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I do not know if he would give it for that reason, but I think, under one of the sections, it tells where a Registrar can refuse a change of name, and it explains some of those reasons why.
Chairman: Are there any questions on the definitions?
Mr. Lang: Say a person is going into their second or third marriage, does this Act affect them, as far as change of name is concerned, or is it strictly under the Marriage Act, because you are dealing with a change of name?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The person that is getting married can elect to keep the name they have or they can elect to use their husbands name, or the husband can elect to use the wifes name. It does not necessarily have to be changed every time they get married.
Mr. Lang: I was making the assumption that the individual in question wishes to have their name changed to that of their third spouse, or whatever the case may be.
Chairman: Is there anything else on definitions.
Mr. Lang: I would just like to get it clarified. Is the Minister of Health and Human Resources saying that a person has to pay, under this Act, a $50.00 fee for a change of name?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The name that a person chooses will be indicated at the time that they get married, and that will automatically be sent to Vital Statistics. A person does not have to apply to change it.
Chairman: Is everybody clear on the definitions?
Before we move to Clause 2, is it the wish of the Members to take a brief recess. We will now recess for ten minutes.
Chairman: Committee of the Whole will now come to order.
On Clause 2
Clause 2 agreed to
On Clause 3
Clause 3 agreed to
On Clause 4
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us why they have specified three months as a residency requirement?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The three months was chosen for the consistency with the Uniform Law Act and other territorial statutes.
Clause 4 agreed to
On Clause 5
Mrs. Firth: In sub-clause (6) can the Minister tell us how they are going to go about doing that?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The name would apply, for instance, in the case of a person who was in the permanent custody of our department in a foster home where the foster parents would choose to have that name changed to become a part of the family. Under some circumstances, those foster parents could not afford to adopt a child because the payments would stop in some cases. In a case like that, the director would allow that childs name to be changed to the foster parents, if they were in permanent care.
Mrs. Firth: Is the Minister saying that it is policy that the name of the child can be changed but they will still be paid by the government for looking after that child?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I would like know if we are on subsection (6) or section 6?
Chairman: We are on clause 5(6).
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I am sorry I was given the wrong information.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister answer my question in the context of the clause we were dealing with?
Chairman: Could you please repeat that question?
Mrs. Firth: The section we are dealing with is the application for change of name of child, clause 5(6). I wanted to know how they were going to get all the consents.
Honon. Mrs. Joe: It would be up to the person who was applying to get the consent. I do not know how I can better explain it than what it says here.
I cannot really explain any more than it says here. It says an application under the section shall be accompanied by written consent of every other person who has lawful custody of the child or who is lawfully entitled to access to that child.
Mrs. Firth: I can read the clause, but I asked the Minister how they are going to get the written consent of every other person who has lawful custody? Could that not be difficult to get? This is supposed to make it easier on people and I am looking for some explanation.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: In some cases there has to be some kind of protection; for instance, in the case of a mother or father who had legal custody of a child and the one spouse did not want the name to be changed, there would have to be written consent of that other spouse in order to do it.
Clause 5 agreed to
On Clause 6
Mrs. Firth: That is the one that says that the name could be changed to the name of the family, but the family could continue to get paid by the government. Is that the policy of this government?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: It is something that is made possible through this Act. It would happen only in the case of a child who was in our permanent care. For instance, it has not happened that often in the past, but there could be a time in the future that they may require for closer family ties, where a person who would care to look after a handicapped child for a number of years, for instance, but could not afford to adopt them they could have their name changed to their foster parents name. It has been requested in the past and is already a practice.
Mrs. Firth: I have always felt that in order for people to give the child their name, they had to adopt that child. If you adopt the child, you become financially responsible for that child. The Minister is saying that is not what has to happen anymore, that the child does not have to be adopted. The name can be given to the child, yet the government will continue to pay for the child.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: It was already done under the old Act. It is also done in the case of a legal adoption where the department continues to pay a part of a fee to those parents for looking after a child. It has been happening for years. It is not something that we developed. It has been there for years.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to come back to that one if I may. We can go on, and I would like to come back to that one in a minute.
Chairman: Should this clause be stood over?
Clause 6 stood over
On Clause 7
Mrs. Firth: Who is going to be responsible for obtaining the consent? I am talking in a sense of explaining to a 12 year old child what all of this means.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I did not understand the question. Could she please repeat it?
Mrs. Firth: The Minister said earlier that if a child who was 12-years-old, they would seek their consent. This clause says that the consent of the child will accompany the order made under section 8. Who is going to look after obtaining that consent? There is going to be some explanation there that is going to accompany it. I mean, you are not just going to put a piece of paper in front of a 12-year-old. Is it a verbal consent or what are you doing?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: There is a very deep understanding between parents and a child, and there is a type of conversation that goes on between them. I do not know whether or not she is asking whether the judge does it or whether the Registrar does it. The parents would be the people who are responsible for letting that person know.
A 12 year old child would give his or her consent, and that age was chosen to be consistent with the Vital Statistics Act and The Childrens Act.
Mrs. Firth: Is it just a verbal consent?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: No. It is not; it is a written consent. It is not just a matter of saying that a person wants to change their name. There is a lot of preparation that goes into it.
Chairman: Is there anything further on Clause 7?
Clause 7 agreed to
On Clause 8
Clause 8 agreed to
On Clause 9
Mrs. Firth: In the registrars opinion, what kind of information does the registrar have access to that would help them in forming their opinion as to whether something was a misrepresentation or if the name change was sought for fraudulent or unlawful purposes?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: Sometimes, a letter would be sent, for instance, from one jurisdiction to all of the other jurisdictions in Canada. That person may be an immigrant who had changed their name a number of times. Someone in another jurisdiction may have applied for a change of name and for some reason was not granted that change for certain reasons. That kind of information would be relayed to all other jurisdictions. Under circumstances such as that, the registrar would not grant the change.
Mrs. Firth: If I want to change my name, and the registrar thought for some reason that I was a suspicious looking character, or it was suspect as to why I wanted to do this. The registrar cannot deny me a name change just based on that. What authority does that registrar have, other than searching records that are transmitted from other provinces to see if that individual is misrepresenting or is doing it for fraudulent or unlawful purposes? How much power does the registrar have?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: There are certain names that parents sometimes want to give to their children as in the case in British Columbia, I believe it was, where parents wanted to name their children Repent, and Be Damned, and that was not allowed. In a case in Quebec, there was a fellow who was going to be running in a provincial election and had applied to have his name changed to Rene Levesque. And such would be the case if somebody came to the registrar who was running in Riverdale South, and wanted to change her name to Bea Firth. Those kind of things would be very suspicious of and would probably not be granted because they were unusual.
Mrs. Firth: Those are very specific examples; I am talking about something that would not be so specific. I mean, if I went in and wanted to change my name to Jane Doe, and the registrar thought that for some reason that Bea Firth should maybe have her police record checked, or something like that, or she had not paid her bills around town for awhile and wanted to slip out of sight for awhile just how much power does the registrar have to search into ones background, ones financial history, ones police record, or whatever, to see whether this name change is acceptable or not? Or do they have no powers to do that sort of thing?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: There are application forms that have to be filled out and I think that, although I have not studied each and every one of them, they are quite long and they require certain kinds of information and, based on the kind of information they get, they may see no reason whatsoever to not grant a changing of a name. But if a person walked in there and looked suspicious, I do not think that would be a good enough reason to suspect that that person was acting in a way that was not acceptable.
Mrs. Firth: I have not even seen the forms so I do not know what the registrar has the ability to ask. So all I am saying is that even if an individual looks suspicious, I know that that is not enough for the registrar to do any more. I would like to know what the registrar can do. I would like the Minister to tell me what else can the registrar do to substantiate him or her not wanting to give this individual the name change request.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I have already given her a number of examples and I really do not know what more she is getting at. It is a matter of someone wanting to change their name. Most people who want to change their names do it for a perfectly normal reason and I do not think it is up to the individual who takes each application to become suspicious in any way that would cause her to take any kind of action that was not appropriate. If there were certain names, as I mentioned before, that just were not nice names, of course that would not be acceptable, and in the opinion of the registrar, I do not think she would grant that.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister cannot say what the registrars opinion is it have to be published in the Yukon Gazette?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: It is standard practice all over Canada, and we are doing it here.
Mrs. Firth: That is really not an answer. Why are we doing it here? Why are we publishing it in the Yukon Gazette? Just because everybody else does it is not enough reason. There must be some other specific reason for doing it. What purpose is it supposed to serve?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: It probably gives the information that a person has changed their name to another name. It allows the individuals out there to know who that person is. There may be mail that that person has coming to them or maybe debts that are owed to them. There are a number of reasons for doing that. We also have had requests to delete that type of thing for protected witnesses. That could have happened if we did not allow the gazetting of those names.
Mrs. Firth: Who reads the Gazette? Are people who are looking for people going to read the Gazette? I do not believe that happens. If someone wants to change their name who is a good person, like most people are, whose business is it that they are changing their name? If this is supposed to be some form of publication, I do not think it is a great one. If it is as good as the Minister says it is, why do we have to tell everybody in the world that Bea Firth changed her name to Jane Doe? Is that not between Jane Doe and the registrar?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: A lot of people would like to know that Bea Firth changed her name to Jane Doe. It is a permanent record that is kept somewhere. It is there for a purpose. I cannot see the problem that the Member is perceiving. If there is a problem, I would like to hear a little more about it.
Mrs. Firth: The Yukon Gazette is not a permanent record. There is a permanent record of name changes kept with the registrar. That is what their function is. If Bea Firth wants people to know that she has changed her name to Jane Doe, she is going to tell those people. They are certainly not going to read it in the Yukon Gazette. I would like to know what the governments policy is. Why does the change have to be put in the Yukon Gazette?
What purpose is it supposed to serve? Why is it not put in the Whitehorse Star, the Yukon News and on the rolling ads on WHTV and everywhere else. What is the policy on notices of change of name? If it is simply to keep a record, why can it not be sufficient to keep it with the registrar?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: There are a lot of individuals who change their names for different reasons. There could be a time someone wanted to change their name because they did not want anybody to know where they were, or who they were. In a case like that, although most people do not object to having their name gazetted, having their name gazetted would reduce the risk of fraud in some cases, but not all cases. Most people who want to change their name want to do it honestly for some good reason.
Mrs. Firth: What the Minister is saying is that it is for the public record and anybody from the public could go to the registrar and see the list of everybody who has changed their name. Is that what the Minister is saying?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: Yes.
Mrs. Firth: If that is the case why does the name have to be put on the Yukon Gazette, or on TV or in the paper? If people are looking for people they can go to the registrar and find it. Why does it have to be published? I do not understand. Maybe it is because we have not been given a clear definition of what the policy is regarding this matter.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The records are in the Gazette and that is where they have to go to find the change of name. They may go to the registrar and ask if somebody had gone in there to change their name. That information would have gone through all the other places it had to go in order to get a name changed; for instance, to wherever that person was born to have the birth certificate changed, or to the Gazette to find out from that.
Mrs. Firth: That information is going to be kept somewhere else within the government other than just the Gazette. It is going to be registered, the appropriate alterations are going to be made under Vital Statistics. That information is going to be somewhere else, not just the Yukon Gazette.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: If the Member disagrees let her voice her opinion. That is all she can do.
Mrs. Firth: It just does not make sense. If there is no clear policy direction then it is not going to make sense and I do not agree with it.
Clause 12 agreed to
On Clause 13
Clause 13 agreed to
On Clause 14
Clause 14 agreed to
On Clause 15
Clause 15 agreed to
Mrs. Firth: Under this Act the registrar can conduct a search of the records kept under this Act. I believe I understood the two Ministers to say that the records were not kept, that the Yukon Gazette was the record. So is that what happens here, does the registrar have to go to the Yukon Gazette or does he have some other area to search the records. There must be a record kept with them of who has changed their name.
You know what they did, they contradicted themselves.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: This is the same as the Vital Statistics Act and the confusion is that there are two records, the records under the Vital Statistics Act and the Gazette. The difference is that it is not possible to go to the registrar and simply get a list of everyone who has changed their names. It is possible to ask about a specific name. The way to search for all people who have changed their names is under the Gazette and not with the registrar.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to know why it is not possible to get a list of names from the registrar. I am sure they would have that on file. There must be some way of cross-referencing that information.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: For the same reason that you cannot ask the registrar of the court who in the Yukon has a criminal record, but you can ask about a particular individual: what is that persons record because it is public information. The registrar will not keep or publish lists of people but will respond normally to requests on an individual basis.
Mrs. Firth: Do I understand it incorrectly? I understand from what the Ministers are saying that it is the policy of this government to make that information public. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: It depends what you mean by that information. It is not the policy of any government, that I am aware of, to supply lists of individuals, although it is published in the Gazette. The policy is to respond to specific inquiries about specific individuals.
Mr. McLachlan: I would like to ask the Minister: to whom does the registrar apply? I thought he was the top official in the department and had access to all the records. To whom does he apply to do this?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The people apply to the registrar. He, or she, does not apply.
Clause 15 agreed to
On Clause 16
Mrs. Firth: I know that the government has said that this Act will not cost the individual very much, but again we are talking about some fees. Are they just talking about the standard fees attached to the document that is being changed, or what kind of fee structure are we talking about here?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The information I have is that the $50.00, as mentioned in that draft fee schedule, would include all of the things taking place.
Clause 16 agreed to
On Clause 17
Clause 17 agreed to
On Clause 18
Mrs. Firth: How does the registrar satisfy themselves that the change of name has been obtained by fraud or misrepresentation?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: In the case of a person who possibly had charges from some other jurisdiction, those charges were not known here. If they came to the Yukon, lived here for a year and changed their name, and that information came to us, the change could be annulled because it would have been done under false pretenses.
Mrs. Firth: How actively is the registrar going to pursue this? What happens if an individual comes here, is here for the required three months, has their name changed, moves on to Manitoba, then the registrar gets a flash of a memo over their desk from some province saying that John Doe is wanted in three states. Does the registrar track that person down? Do they pass that information on? What is the registrars responsibility when it comes to annulling that?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: If the registrar received information to that effect what would happen is that name, because it was given fraudulently, would be annulled by the registrar and that information, if it was known where he was, would be sent to the jurisdiction where he was and other jurisdictions as well.
Mr. Phelps: I am concerned about this and also 9(2). I do not understand why we are giving this unfettered power to the registrar. What is the right of the citizen? If the registrar is not going to grant the change of name because he thinks it is based on fraud, what does that mean? Does the citizen have to go to court for an order? I think it gives far too much power.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I can answer that. Yes, it means that the citizen goes to court. That is under Section 19: it is an appeal of the registrars decision to the court and the court makes the decision. I would emphasize that under the present Act the court makes the decision in the first instance so everybody goes to court. Here the registrar has discretionary powers; however, if the citizen objects or disagrees it goes to court.
Mr. Phelps: Upon what is this discretion based? I do not understand why this power would be vested in the registrar. The function really is a rubber stamp as far as I can see. Unless there is misrepresentation, or if the form was filled out wrong, there is absolutely nothing that discretion is to turn upon. I do not understand why he has that power.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The alternative is to say that registrar shall grant every application and it is necessary to give some discretion to ensure that, for example, the applications are properly filled out and all the consents are there and the names are not obviously indecent. The protection is to allow for an appeal in every case.
In view of the time, Mr. Chairman, I move you report the progress on Bill No. 9.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Porter: Mr. Chairman, I move the Speaker now resume the Chair.
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will now have a report from the Chairman of the Committee of the Whole.
Mr. Webster: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 80, An Act to Amend the Assessment and Taxation Act, and directs me to report the same, without amendment. Further, the Committee has considered Bill No. 9, the Change of Name Act, and directs me to report progress on same.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chairman of the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
The time now being 9:30 p.m., this House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:30 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled on November 18, 1987:
O&M Grants to Day Care Centre (M. Joe)
Day Care Capital Development Grant - Grants Approved (M. Joe)
Bylaws and Constitution - Draft Regulations of Societies Act (Kimmerly)
The following Document was filed on November 18, 1987:
FD No. 5
Management of Freshwater Fisheries (Brewster)