Dawson City, Yukon
Thursday, March 24, 1988 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time we will proceed with Prayers.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: There are a number of local Dawsonites in the chamber with us today on this very special occasion, and of course we want to pay tribute to them. I also want to especially honour the delegation from the Alaskan Legislature, here in strength, for spending this time here with us in this, the old capital city, Dawson City. I want to note the attendence from Alaska of representatives Drue Pearce, John Sund, Niilo Koponen, Jim Zawacki, Johnny Ellis, Randy Phillips, and Senator Willie Hensley.
Mr. Webster: It is my pleasure to introduce the students of grades four, five, six and seven of the Robert Service School, and their teachers, Kathy Webster, Shirley Pennell and Joanne Vriend. They are here to get a first-hand view of the workings of government.
Hon. Mr. Porter: I request the unanimous consent of the House to now proceed with the Addresses in Reply to the Speech from the Throne.
Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
Some Members: Agreed.
ADDRESSES IN REPLY TO THE SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Speaker: There is unanimous consent. I will now call for Addresses in Reply to the Speech from the Throne.
Mr. Webster: I move that the following Address be presented to the Commissioner of the Yukon: May it please the Commissioner, we, the Members of the Yukon Legislative Assembly, take leave to offer our humble thanks for the gracious Speech which you have addressed to the House.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Klondike that the following address be presented to the Commissioner of the Yukon: May it please the Commissioner, we, the Members of the Yukon Legislative Assembly, beg leave to offer our humble thanks for the gracious Speech which you have addressed to the House".
Mr. Webster: I welcome you, Mr. Speaker and honourable Members, to Dawson City, and thank you for supporting my Motion put forth, in December of 1986, to recognize the historic significance of these fully-restored Council Chambers by coming here to open this Fifth Session of the 26th Legislature.
Naturally, we are all overjoyed and excited that this Old Territorial Administration Building has been restored in a faithful manner that respects the design and attention to detail of architect Thomas Fuller. For this we have our Territorial Government to thank - both the previous administration for starting the job, and the present one for finishing it. And a good deal of credit is owed to the many individuals associated with the Dawson City Museum and Historical Society, and Parks Canada - Klondike National Historic Sites - who volunteered their time, pooled their talents, and established themselves as the Committee responsible for initiating action and recommending appropriate renovations. We thank all of you for your contributions.
I am especially pleased that these Chambers are today being used for their intended, original purpose, for this experience will improve awareness of our history and will give us a keener appreciation of our heritage. It is not until, I believe, a heritage building is used for its intended purpose does one really develop a proper appreciation of its history. For this reason, I have long admired Parks Canadas policy of bringing life to restored buildings by using them as they have been and should be used - such as Madame Tremblays Store, and the Palace Grand Theatre. Soon, the old Red Feather Saloon will serve as an outlet for our new liquor store, and one day, hopefully, Thomas Fullers post office will once again fulfill its original role. But I had better stop there, Mr. Speaker, before someone suggests such possibilities for Rubys Place.
By holding this Special Sitting in these Chambers, Yukon has become unique in the sense that we are now the only political jurisdiction in the country with two Legislative Chambers - this one, and the one that contrasts so dramatically with it, the contemporary one located in the new capital of Whitehorse. No longer is our Territory the only jurisdiction in the country with a modern residence for its Assembly. Today, we are conducting business in a heritage building of the same vintage as Legislative Chambers in the Prairie provinces. This, in itself, helps to remind us that our Legislature has a long history, that our traditions date back as far as those in the Prairie provinces, and these are important considerations for Yukoners to boast about during these days of debate on the Meech Lake Accord.
These magnificent Chambers have a fascinating history which began on December 5, 1901, with the first Sitting of the then partly-appointed Territorial Council. The last time Territorial Council - or more properly, the Yukon Legislative Assembly - met here was on June 13, 1977, a significant date for two reasons: June 13 is the day Yukon became a Territory in 1898, and 1977 marked the 75th anniversary of the incorporation of the City of Dawson.
Today, we write another chapter and, in doing so, pay homage to our past and accept responsibility to build on that rich heritage. This, I believe, can best be achieved by assembling in these Chambers to recognize other important landmarks in our political development. With this in mind, I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker and honourable Members, that serious consideration be given to returning here to conduct business during the week of June 13, if the House is still in Session, in commemoration of the Yukon becoming a separate Territory 90 years ago and of an amendment to The Yukon Act by the Parliament of Canada 80 years ago to establish the first wholly-elected Council of the Yukon Territory.
I was anticipating some thunderous applause in response to that suggestion.
It was mentioned earlier, in the Throne Speech, that 1988, with a forecast for growth of eight to ten percent, is a year of great promise. There is good reason for such optimism as the entire Yukon is experiencing an economic boom. The start of much of this economic recovery was a result of the Yukon Government action to reopen the Faro mine and the sawmill in Watson Lake, and its continuation can largely be attributed to this Governments policies which encourage the use of local hire and local materials on its capital projects.
This economic boom has fostered a mood of confidence. This confidence spreads with each announcement of a new mine opening or coming into production, with each publication of quarterly statistics documenting population growth and increased numbers working in the private sectors of our economy, with each new housing start or new business established, and just recently with the news of Air B.C.s decision to begin twice daily service from Whitehorse to Vancouver and Edmonton this June, and that the White Pass Railway, dormant for five years, will start up this spring with the intention of providing service into the Yukon next year.
The development of a Yukon Economic Strategy, which will promote continued growth of our economy, is a dominant theme of the Throne Speech. As a Member of the Legislative Assembly, representing a rural riding, it is understandable that my assessment of this governments Economic Strategy is measured by its commitment to rural Yukon. In my mind, the key to growth in rural Yukon is making our smaller communities more attractive places for people to settle and raise a family, for individuals to start a business or to expand an existing one. I believe this governments record and performance in four areas - namely, quality of infrastructure, availability of job opportunities, quality of government services, and existence of a healthy economic climate - has a major impact on a communitys ability to prosper.
In my address today, I will review the governments record to date in each of these four areas as it relates to my rural community of Dawson City, and will comment on the governments intention for action, as outlined in the Throne Speech.
The first area - quality of infrastructure - is important for obvious reasons, and a critical component of this concerns transportation. Over the past few years, a sizable portion of capital budgets have been earmarked for the continued development of our highway system. Reconstruction of the Klondike Highway affords safer travel and improved services for every resident living in Carcross and all communities north of Whitehorse. The Throne Speech indicates that improvements to the Klondike Highway will remain a top priority of this government. This guarantees the establishment of a reliable transportation corridor connecting the Pacific and Arctic Oceans, a corridor essential for the development of our North. It also means that with further improvements planned for the Top of the World Highway, this alternate route for visitors travelling to Alaska will become more attractive, and as a result, Dawson Citys status as a tourist destination will be elevated.
To conclude on the subject of transportation, I want to stress the importance of continuing negotiations with the federal government on the devolution of Arctic B & C airports. These negotiations will provide a forum for serious discussions on the provision of the new airport that Dawson City needs to better serve its residents and to promote growth and tourism.
The provision of reliable electrical power at affordable prices for residential and commercial use is a fundamental requirement if rural Yukon is to attract new investment. This governments commitment to developing local sources of energy - for example, the use in Watson Lake of wood chips and waste heat recycling - is a step in the right direction. We in Klondike must replace our dependency on fossil fuels with new, more efficient power generation, and for this reason I am encouraged with news that the Yukon Development Corporation is concluding its feasibility studies on the revitalization of the Klondike North Fork project for development of hydro electric power.
In the meantime, however, it is imperative, as stated in the Throne Speech, that rates and subsidies be introduced that will lower costs for power and enable rural Yukoners to consume energy for residential, commercial and industrial purposes at rates similar to those paid in Whitehorse.
The availability of land for residential use and commercial development is another requisite for encouraging growth. Naturally, I am pleased that this government is addressing the critical shortage of land in two ways. For one, the provision of large amounts of capital block funding to municipalities has enabled our City of Dawson to develop a block of new residential lots. Also appreciated is an allotment by the Yukon Government of $250,000 in this years Capital Budget for the development of a country residential area on the Midnight Dome, and additional funds for bringing on stream new lots in the Callison Industrial Subdivision.
The combination of this Governments soon-to-be-announced Home Ownership Program and the availability of new residential lots will provide the incentives for many to build their own homes. More private home ownership means increased stability for our smaller communities.
Improving the quality of public buildings and facilities, be it achieved through new construction or upgrading of existing ones, is another element of infrastructure so very important in contributing to the attractiveness of a rural community. The commitment of our government to continue its policy of replacing inadequate - or so often with respect to Dawson City, condemned - buildings, ensures rural Yukoners will enjoy the same quality of modern, well-equipped facilities that residents of Whitehorse take for granted. The construction of our new community complex/school, which will be home for our Community Learning Centre, public and school library, our cultural organizations and hopefully in the future new recreation facilities, is an excellent product of this policy.
I want to take this opportunity, Mr. Speaker, on behalf of many Dawsonites, to thank this government and in particular the Ministers of Education and Government Services for the opportunity to contribute their ideas in planning the interior layout and exterior design of this building.
The result of this exercise will be the addition to our community of a beautiful structure that will not only provide an excellent environment to better educate our children but will also satisfy the needs of all potential user groups.
Generally speaking, the practice of our government to consult with Yukoners on matters of interest and concern, be they local in nature such as our community complex/school example or of territorial-wide interest such as the ones announced in the Throne Speech - that of improvements to our child care system, and constitutional development - is a commendable one. It is democratic government that involves the public in decision-making. It is responsible government that seeks informed public comment on problems, issues and challenges that face our society, and it is good government that acts on that advice.
New job opportunities is the second basic ingredient in a recipe for growth in rural Yukon. Our economy has habitually provided jobs during the spring, summer and fall seasons, but not the longest one of winter. The fact of the matter is that people will not choose to settle in a small community if there is insufficient year round employment to keep them working.
This government has responded by making a conscious effort to create new job opportunities at the traditionally quiet time of year. For example, the majority of work on our major capital projects in Dawson City, such as restoration of this building, construction of the dike, the community complex/school, and the liquor store, have been or will be done during the winter months. In addition, the timing of work on each project has been carefully planned so that, when one nears completion, work on another begins in order to avoid the feast or famine syndrome for contractors, skilled labour and suppliers of materials.
One initiative of this government to create job opportunities during winter was the introduction of the Local Employment Opportunities Program. This program provides capital funding to recognized non-profit organizations, registered societies, Indian bands and local governments for projects which make extensive use of local materials, are labour intensive and are of benefit to the community as a whole.
Examples of projects undertaken in Dawson City through this program include upgrading of our day care centre, restoration work on Moosehide Village, stabilization of the Odd Fellows Hall, construction of the Yukon Order of Pioneers Hall and the Jack London Interpretive Centre, and reconstruction of the concession building in Minto Park.
In addition to putting people to work, our community has acquired many improvements, most notably new tourist attractions, and more facilities for our organizations to hold social functions, meetings, and conferences. Both will do much to enhance Dawson Citys status as a tourist destination, and as a centre to host conventions even larger than the Yukon 2000 conference held here last October. Both translate into more visitors staying longer and spending more money in Dawson City.
In summary, the large capital projects carried out by this government to restore this building, to improve infrastructure by replacing condemned buildings with new ones that will be cheaper to operate and maintain, in conjunction with numerous small projects undertaken by organizations through LEOP, continues to be an exercise in spending money wisely.
Three years ago, the federal government signed a formula financing arrangement to enable our territorial government to improve Yukons infrastructure. That is exactly what this government is doing, and in the process, is creating new job opportunities 12 months of the year. Thus we are getting maximum value for our dollars spent.
I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the Minister of Finance, our Government Leader, for successfully negotiating a two year extension to the original Formula Financing Agreement. This Extension Agreement is a clear sign that the federal government endorses this territorial governments approach to fiscal management, and has faith in its ability to continue spending money in a judicious manner.
On the whole, I believe this government has an enviable record fighting unemployment with its successful rebuilding of the failing economy it inherited three years ago. However, there is still room for improvement. Thus, I welcome the news in the Throne Speech that recommendations arising from the Yukon 2000 exercise will be acted upon to rebuild and diversify our economy, to create new jobs, to improve training opportunities, and to increase community hire for government jobs and projects. The creation of the community and business development funds, use of project development agreements, and promotion of Yukon products through a new marketing campaign will all form an integral part of a comprehensive strategy that will give us more control over a much stronger and more stable economy.
It will also be an economy that plans for sustainable growth and greater self reliance, qualities that are found in measures to assist agriculture and industries based on our renewable resources. For example, the new inspection policy and services to enable the sale of locally raised meats to retail outlets is what is needed to encourage farming and ranching throughout the Territory and to reduce our dependency on imported foods. The introduction of a fur enhancement program and the continued support of Indigenous Survival International to combat the anti-fur campaign will enrich the income and protect the lifestyle of the Yukons several hundred trappers. Improved local control of our economy and greater self-reliance will be realized through the devolution of the freshwater fishery from the federal government, and with an agreement with the Americans on the Yukon River section on the Pacific Salmon Treaty.
It is clear that both issues remain a top priority of this government and I applaud our Government Leader for raising Yukons concerns on the latter subject as recently as last week in trilateral meetings with the Premier of British Columbia and the Governor of Alaska. No doubt, discussions on the Yukon River Salmon Fishery will continue this week between Members of this House and members of the Alaska House of Representatives who are with us here this week and in our Gallery today.
The quality and variety of services provided by government in rural communities is my third area for consideration as a factor in encouraging growth. Every improvement in the delivery of services and information on government programs means less often we are forced to travel to Whitehorse or to wait for a civil servant to arrive from Whitehorse.
Looking back to my first reply to a Throne Speech, delivered in October of 1985, which incidentally was also my maiden speech, my remarks on the subject were as follows, and I quote, I cannot understand why a rural Superintendent of Education does not live in a rural riding and, Why does Dawson City, with all its economic growth and potential for growth, not have its own Government of Yukon employee responsible for economic development, tourism marketing and promotion? It is a pleasure to report that these two new positions, as well as a Community Recreation Consultant, have been established in Dawson City within the last two years.
Further, I am encouraged that our Government of Yukon acknowledges the importance of decentralization with an announcement in the Throne Speech to locate a building inspector in Dawson City to better serve northern Yukon.
However, in consideration of the significant role this matter plays in contributing to the stability of a small community and to the wellbeing of its residents, I believe it deserves greater attention. Therefore, I am suggesting than an advisory group on decentralization, with representatives from government, communities, Indian bands, business and labour, be struck to investigate the possibilities for decentralization of services and to make firm, practical recommendations to our government for action. My personal belief is that the advent of new technology in communications, and the introduction of improved communication services, has made it much more feasible now for government to conduct business in an effective and efficient manner from locations throughout the Territory.
The improvement of social services to rural Yukon by the Department of Health and Human Resources is one area that rightfully received a good deal of attention in the Throne Speech. Extending the Family Support Program and revising social assistance rates to reflect true costs for basic necessities will help the less fortunate of our society.
One topic of major concern long shared by outlying communities is that of medical services. As recently as three weeks ago at the Annual General Meeting of the Klondike New Democrats, the requirement to upgrade our Father Judge Nursing Station to cottage hospital status was again raised for discussion. I realize this is an area of federal control, but in its review of community health services with the federal government, as promised in the Throne Speech, I strongly suggest that our government recommend immediate action. The time has long since past for the delivery of health services and the provision of medical treatment that meets the real needs of our rural communities.
A fourth area critical to rural communities in becoming a more attractive place to live, or to establish a business, is the existence of what I call a healthy economic climate that induces a response to new opportunities in a positive, vigorous manner. And although the fortunes of our two major industries of mining and tourism are dictated by forces beyond the control of our territorial - or even the federal - government, initiatives by governments can be effective stimulants in promoting growth. We have all seen, for example, the positive impact that the federal governments tax incentives respecting flow through shares have had on mining investment in the Yukon.
Much credit for the recent success of the mining industry can be claimed by this government of Yukon. Removing the tax on fuel for off-road use, introducing a Road to Resources Program, providing assistance to the popular Dawson City Gold Show and its exhibitors, raising the profile of the Prospector Assistance Program, and many more measures have established an economic climate favourable for entrepreneurs to expand, to take up new challenges. Naturally, the message in the Throne Speech to continue in this vein by working with the federal government to establish a rational, streamlined regulatory process for the placer mining industry is most appreciated.
Tourism is another sector of our economy enjoying its best year in recent history, partly as a result of initiatives of this Yukon government over the last few years. Our strong presence at Expo, continued commitment to joint marketing in Alaska, offers of financial assistance to the Klondike Visitors Association to conduct its own highly successful marketing program in Alaska, and the employment of new, innovative measures - such as the Yukon Treasure Hunt, and the Magic and the Mystery campaign - have dramatically improved the fortunes of everyone in the territory who plays host to our visitors. Further support, with the formation of a Yukon Anniversaries Commission funded by the territorial and federal governments, as revealed in the Throne Speech, will produce more visitor participation in our special events to celebrate the Alaska - or Alcan - Highways fiftieth anniversary, as well as the centennials of Klondike gold discovery and the Gold Rush. True to form for the enterprising residents of Dawson City, planning of the latter two is already well underway. Representatives of ten local organizations have held preliminary meetings, and City Council is in the process of drafting a by-law to form a Centennial Board with the responsibility of organizing and coordinating all local events associated with these celebrations.
With respect to the service sectors catering to these two major industries, the government of Yukon has contributed to the creation of an improved economic climate in more direct ways. Continued support through a concerted effort to purchase more services and goods locally for use on government projects is a commitment emphatically expressed in the Throne Speech.
To summarize, this government of Yukon has, in the last three years, made significant contributions in the ways I have delineated to make rural Yukon communities more attractive places to live. In Dawson City, for example, the positive effects are evident everywhere, with increases in housing starts, the increase in value of private, commercial and industrial construction, and new businesses.
Population has jumped 4.2 per cent in one year, and our school enrollment now numbers 190, which is 24 more students than just two years ago.
More important, however, is that the commitments and initiatives outlined in the Throne Speech and highlighted in this address place increased importance on providing the infrastructure, services and job opportunities that our outlying communities need and deserve. This is a sound strategy for our government to employ, for what is good for rural Yukon is good for all the Yukon.
In closing, I want to voice my strong support for this governments policies and programs of working together with all men and women of this Territory to realize equality and democracy in our lives, to improve the quality of life in our society, and to create new jobs so that our Community of Yukon may continue to prosper.
Mr. Nordling: The Throne Speech debate is an opportunity provided to us as Members to petition the Crown on important issues of the day, but before I get to those important issues of the day, I would like to say how proud and pleased I am to be standing here today. Although I am now living in Whitehorse and represent the good people of Porter Creek West, Dawson City is my home town. I was born and raised in Dawson; my father was born here in Dawson and spent his whole life here. I was married in Dawson and our first son, Anders, was also born in Dawson just one month before the flood in 1979. Judging by the dike that has been built around the town, I expect that 1979 will go down in history as Dawsons last great flood.
It has taken many years, but most traces of that tragedy are gone and Dawson is looking very healthy again.
My brother and sister were also born and raised here in Dawson, and my brother still makes his home here. His daughter was almost born in Dawson but, due to the strange - and as yet, unresolved - mystery as to the operation of Dawsons hospital - or should I say nursing station - little Monica was born in Whitehorse.
My grandfather came to Dawson from Sweden just after the gold rush and decided he wanted to stay. He then went back to Sweden, picked up his wife and four young boys and returned. The oldest boy became sick and died shortly after their arrival in Dawson, but my aunt and my father were born after their arrival here. Unfortunately, my grandfather died of food poisoning when my dad was only five months old. My grandfather was working for a large mining company, and the whole camp was poisoned. Several of the men, including my grandfather, died as a result. That was in 1919.
My grandmother then raised the five children on her own. She died in a house fire here in Dawson in 1950.
This building holds many memories for me, none of which involve its use as the seat of government for Yukon. The capital was moved to Whitehorse in 1952, the year that I was born.
I suppose the move made sense at the time; Dawson was not growing; Whitehorse was, and it was easier for the Ottawa bureaucrats to get to Whitehorse than all the way to Dawson. The move may not have seemed a big deal at the time, but I believe it changed the face of the Yukon completely. If the capital had not been moved, Yukon would probably have two major centres of almost equal size. This was not to be, and resentment still exists in the rural areas that Whitehorse gets everything.
To me, this building was the school. Thirty years ago, I was a grade one student sitting just down the hall from this Chamber and to the right.
For grade two, we moved into a brand new school. That brand new school will be torn down and replaced very shortly. In my memory, this building then became the post office and home of our local radio station, CFYT.
Finally, it became known to me and to most people who are here today as the Dawson Museum, which it still houses, and I hope it will continue to do so for many years to come.
As a child growing up, this was one of the most magnificent buildings in town, with its beautiful grounds and huge trees that lined Fifth Avenue. A favourite place to play and ride our bikes was in the park-like area around the Cenotaph. The only place off limits was the coal shed out back.
In the 1960s, when Parks Canada began its restoration program in Dawson, I wondered why this building was not first on its list for restoration. I later found out that it belonged to the territorial government. In those days, YTG did not have much money, and I was worried that this building may not be saved.
There was always minor repair work being done, but I was not really encouraged until 1977 when the Territorial Councillors, our present Commissioner being one of them, gathered in this Chamber. At that time they came to the realization that not only was this an historical and important building, but that they owned it. At that time, I was the general manager of the Klondike Visitors Association and we were celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the City of Dawson.
The ball really got rolling in 1983 when the present Government Leader introduced a motion urging the Government of Yukon to consider the renovation of these Chambers for ceremonial occasions.
Finally, in 1988, this has become a reality, and we find ourselves in not only a beautifully restored Chamber, but in a whole building that has been restored to its former glory.
I know that this must be a very special occasion for the Government Leader, as well as myself, because he and his family made their home in Dawson for several years. The Government Leaders father was the doctor in Dawson, and although I did not know Tony Penikett very well back in those days, because he is a little older than I am, I went to school with, and knew his brother, Steve, very well.
And now, Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak briefly on what I would consider to be some of the important issues of the day. There are many concerns I have that relate specifically to my constituents in Porter Creek West; however, there are two more general points I would like to make today, so that they are on the record in reply to the Speech from the Throne.
In 1984, the present Government Leader gave a speech in this House, the theme of which was democracy. The Government Leader referred to a book entitled 1984 and said that one of George Orwells superb insights was that the threats to democracy can come from any point on the political spectrum. I would like to use the words of the Government Leader, which I think are more applicable today than they were in March of 1984.
He said, Parliamentary democracy, as it is practiced elsewhere in the Commonwealth, is still in its infancy in Yukon, but already I fear it is showing signs of neglect and symptoms of retardation. Instead of nurturing its development, I fear the Government of Yukon is, consciously or unconsciously, stunting its growth.
I would like to give some examples of this: when the contracts were let for work on the Frenchman/Tatchun Lakes road near Carmacks, the Minister responsible took it upon himself to disregard the contract regulations and awarded contracts to people of his choice and not the lowest bidder who could satisfactorily perform the work.
The same Minister then took it upon himself to sign an agreement costing the taxpayer $100,000, which he said was to obtain the relocation of the road right-of-way. Upon review of this $100,000 agreement, it did not even mention a road, let alone the relocation of a right-of-way.
Attempts to obtain further information on the handling of this affair were blocked despite our application under the Access to Information Act.
Not long after that frustrating experience, this government stopped giving Members of this Legislature copies of service and consulting contracts valued at under $5,000.
We found that over 72 percent of the contracts let over a five month period were for less than $5,000 and that these contracts could total up to $20 million a year. After two weeks of pounding in this House, the government finally consented to give us one-line summaries of the contracts at the end of each fiscal year. Thus, many of the contracts will be 18 months old before we get a chance to ask questions about them in this House.
When we discovered that the Government Leader had hired a new principal secretary from very high up in the Manitoba NDP government, we asked for a copy of that contract. Finally, after a lot of spluttering and a long delay, we were told he was being paid $52,000 a year and we received no information at that time about his fringe benefits.
For another example, the Minister of Health publicly announced a new $500,000 Day Care Program and, to get any information at all we had to bring a Notice of Motion for the Production of Papers. And now, the Throne Speech announces that a Child Care Plan is imminent.
The Government Leader has said in this House that the public business should be done in public. This is not happening under his leadership.
I could give many more examples but I do not want to spend this historic and largely ceremonial occasion rehashing and reviewing three years of NDP administration. There will be plenty of time for that in the coming weeks and months.
However, before I move on, I would just like to make a few more comments and point out a few more examples of the simulation of virtue and goodness exhibited by this government.
I, like the Government Leader, believe that parliamentary democracy is one of our civilizations greatest achievements. However, I perceive a shift in power from the Legislature to the executive. The Government Leader and his Cabinet colleagues no longer like to be in the House.
The Government Leader said that the Opposition was too mean and nasty in the last Session. Well, I have read through many years of Hansard debate and no one comes close to the present Government Leader in exemplifying those terms.
I believe sincerely that our democracy, the kind of democracy that I want to see built here, could become a very poor and shrivelled thing if the present trend continues.
The power in this place is shifting from the Legislature, and I perceive the power is going to the unelected, unmerited appointees - some of them not even public servants - but just simply NDP appointees. That is not democracy.
I have several more examples of the pretence of this government.
In opposition, the Minister of Health argued strenuously in support of funding for the Native Courtworkers Society. Then, when this government came to power, the Minister of Justice tried to cut off the funding with three days notice, before he even bothered to read the contract, which required three months notice.
In opposition, the present Minister of Renewable Resources said, and I quote, if the Conservative government was going to attract industry to Yukon, then they had better do their homework and clearly indicate to industry what exactly is its position with respect to development in this territory.
Recently, the Minister of Economic Development gave a presentation to the Business Development department of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce and said, in essence, that if mining caused a hole in the ground, we dont want it. A mixed message, to say the least.
Another issue of great concern - perhaps the greatest in Yukon today - is information with respect to land claims. This government claims to have provided more information than ever before, yet no-one really seems to know what is going on. This Yukon government appointed its land claims negotiator in August, 1985, and the clock did not start ticking until September, 1987, over two years later. We would like to know what instructions this government has given to its negotiator and what this government sees as its function at the land claims table.
I would close my speech with that statement except that I have a few more things to say. I want to discuss what I believe is the most critical issue of the day. This issue was brought to the fore in the 2020 Action Committee report entitled Laying The Foundation For Our Future. The issue is dependency on government and our illusionary economy - and it is an illusion. I have thought, from time to time, that we should write letters thanking those people in southern Ontario, and especially those in Oshawa, who are doing so well as a result of huge investment by the large American automakers.
As an aside, I was going to ask those people in Oshawa if they had lost their Canadian heritage and culture and if they were planning to ask their employers to leave Canada so they could regain their Canadian identity. But free trade is another story, and I will not get into a debate over the anti-free trade position of this government. The way I hear it, in Progressive Conservative circles, is that the NDP position on free trade is so backward that, when an NDP appears on Talk Back, the program runs from noon to 11 a.m.
More seriously, I would like to note that the Alaskan flag is present in this Chamber along with the Yukon flag, and I believe we should be fostering friendship with the Alaskans and not generating fear of them.
I know the Government Leader will not quote me as he has quoted Benjamin Disraeli in the past, but I would like to say that an NDP government is organized hypocrisy.
Getting back to my point about our economy, we have a new $13 million justice building, a new $55 million college, a $7 or $9 or $10 million arts centre planned and a $2-3 million young offenders facility, to be built shortly. All these buildings we will have to maintain on our own some time in the future. Ottawa is sending us hundreds of millions of dollars each year but Ottawa is running a deficit of $30 billion a year. The national debt has grown to over $300 billion. This all leads to one question, and that is: Where is this governments contingency plan to deal with a cut in federal transfer payments?
The answer is: nowhere.
We have seen the results of socialist economic planning in B.C.in the 1970s and in Manitoba in the 1980s. In planning our future, this government has undertaken a massive and extremely costly exercise called Yukon 2000. But does this project deal with free trade? Of course not. More importantly, does it contain a contingency plan to deal with a total cut in federal spending, or even a 50 percent cut? No, it is simply a wish list, which cost over half a million dollars to prepare and will cost billions to implement.
As the old saying goes, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
This government must sober up and face reality. If we continue along this road at the same speed we have been going for the past three years and our dependence on outside money continues to grow, there will be no responsible government in Yukon. Our grandchildren will be sitting in Victoria or Edmonton, representing the far reaches of a large, new province.
As we stand in these chambers today as proud and independent Yukoners, it is wonderful to recall our past. This really is a historic day for Yukon, but in conclusion I would like to remind all Yukoners that we must be cautious in laying the foundation for our future.
I move that debate be now adjourned.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Porter: Pursuant to the provisions of Standing Order 26, I would notify the House that the next day on which the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne will be debated is Monday, March 28, and to restore some class and harmony to this occasion, I move that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m., Monday next.
The House adjourned at 2:23 p.m.