Wednesday, January 11, 1989 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
We will proceed at this time with prayers.
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Speaker: I have four documents for tabling. The first is a report of the Auditor General of an examination of the financial status of the Government of Yukon for the year ended March 31, 1988.
The second is a report of the Auditor General on other matters for the year ended March 31, 1988.
The third is a copy of the resolution to amend the Constitution of Canada, which was adopted by the Senate on April 21, 1988.
The last is a report from the Clerk, which is pursuant to sub-section 39(6) of the Legislative Assembly Act.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Mr Speaker, I wonder if, prior to tabling some documents, I might call attention to the presence in the gallery of Mr. Richard Van Loon, Senior Assistant Deputy Minister of the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs, who is visiting Whitehorse at this time, and ask Members of the House to make him welcome.
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Mr. Speaker, I have for tabling the Public Accounts of the Yukon Territory for the fiscal year of 1987-88.
I have as well the report of the Public Inquiry into Petroleum Fuel Pricing in the Yukon Territory.
And I have as well the Yukon Energy Corporation General Rate Application.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Mr. Speaker, I have for tabling six documents. They are: the Workers Compensation Board Annual Report for 1987, the Yukon Liquor Corporation Eleventh Annual Report, the Report of the Auditor General into the Yukon Liquor Corporation, the Report of the Auditor General into the Compensation Fund for the Workers Compensation Board, the Report of the Yukon Medical Council and the Report of the Department of Justice.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have for tabling the following reports: the Local Employment Opportunity Program 1987/88 Report, the Motor Transport Board Annual Report for 1987/88 and the Yukon Lottery Commission Annual Report for the same year.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I have for tabling the annual report from the Department of Health and Human Resources. I also have for tabling the Child Care Consultation Panel Report, We Care: Yukoners Talk About Child Care, and I intend to introduce the response tomorrow.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Are there any Petitions?
Introduction of Bills?
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I would give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government of Yukon should consider the establishment of an elementary school on the Whitehorse South Alaska Highway area to serve the students residing in Wolf Creek, Mary Lake and the Robinson subdivisions, and on the Alaska Highway South, Marsh Lake and Carcross Road vicinity;
and THAT a census of school and pre-school children living in this area should be conducted to determine the population base of such a school; and
THAT the South Highway School Planning Committee and residents of the area should be consulted.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I have notice of two motions.
The first is: THAT this House commends the Council for Yukon Indians, the Federal Government and the Yukon Territorial Government for achieving a Framework Agreement for the settlement of land claims in the Yukon Territory.
The second is: THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government of Canada should invite the Yukon to all federal/provincial meetings which may result in a change to the constitutional status of the Yukon.
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS
Elsa (United Keno Hill) mine closure
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is with mixed feelings I rise today to speak of the matter of the recent announcement by the United Keno Hill Mines to temporarily close their operations at Elsa. The decision, which was only made public last Friday, has devastated the community of Elsa and has and will continue to create significant turmoil and uncertainty in the lives of the men, women and children who have made Elsa their home over the past years.
The Yukon government looks on Elsa and the United Keno Hill Mine operation as an integral and important part of the economic and social fabric of the Yukon and will do everything in its power to see it returned to a fully operating community once again. We are also very sensitive to the immediate needs of the laid off workers and their families, and will all that we can to help mitigate the impact of the closure.
In particular, we took immediate steps to contact the regional headquarters of the Canada Employment and Immigration Commission in Vancouver, with the result that one of their officers arrived in Elsa on Tuesday of this week to put in place an advisory-support service to assist the laid off workers.
This assistance will be organized through a local adjustment committee, which will have representation from the federal government, the hamlet of Elsa, the union, the company and the Yukon government. To support and complement the activities of this adjustment committee, the Yukon Housing Corporation had one of their staff members in Elsa over the past weekend to review the immediate housing situation in Elsa and to provide information on housing availability elsewhere in the Yukon.
Additionally, members of the Department of Community and Transportation Services and the Department of Education arrived in Elsa on Monday to commence reviewing the current situation and examining, in consultation with the hamlet, the adjustment committee, the union and the company, actions that the Yukon government could take to help.
I want to emphasize firstly that the Yukon government will not be abandoning the community of Elsa, despite the announcement of the mine to close. The offer of UKHM to enable employees to remain in company housing until June at least will mean that Elsa will continue as a viable community even after the mine itself actually ceases operations.
Services and programs currently offered in the community by the Yukon government will, therefore, continue to be offered, including keeping the school open until the end of the normal school year, maintaining the community library and supporting the operations of the Elsa Hamlet Advisory Council.
Additionally, a number of capital works projects are currently ongoing in the community, and those will be continued to completion. This includes projects peripheral to the community of Elsa and important to the district, such as the Mayo Dam Rehabilitation Project. The employment provided by these projects and through others that might be examined for possible initiation over the coming weeks will be counted on even more now by the people of Elsa to provide a much needed income. All of these projects will also contribute to improvements to the town, which will be of benefit when operations at the mine are recommenced.
Coupled with the foregoing, the government, through the Department of Education, will be focusing efforts on identifying and developing training or retraining opportunities for the workers in Elsa. This activity will be intended to facilitate and enhance the potential for workers to obtain alternate employment or to possibly pursue further education in their particular field, pending recall to the mine. Toward this end, a career services officer will assist the community, together with additional support that will be provided through the industrial and employment training units of the department. A close liaison and cooperation with the local adjustment committee and, in particular, with CEIC, will also be maintained to ensure that worker needs are fully identified and that all available federal training and funding programs that might be available are both identified and accessed to the fullest extent possible.
This is not all that we will be doing, though. Steps were taken last Monday to establish a senior interdepartmental Elsa mine recovery working group to be lead by the Department of Community and Transportation Services, together with the Departments of Economic Development: Mines and Small Business, Finance, Education and Justice. This working group has been given a very broad mandate to examine the facts and circumstances surrounding the closure of the mine and to develop alternatives that might encourage the speedy reopening of the mine and a return to normal production/employment levels.
This government was instrumental in achieving the opening of the Faro mine and Watson Lake Forest Products, when they closed, and they are now among the major employers in the Yukon. United Keno Hill Mines is also a major employer and we are determined to achieve the same goal with it. To the people of Elsa we pledge our support to help as much as we can during this trying time and we work unstintingly toward the day when the Elsa mine can be reopened and brought back to full employment.
Mr. Phelps: We share the Ministers feelings about the mine closure in Elsa. We are concerned for the families. We are concerned for the community, and we will be monitoring the situation as to what the government is doing and raising questions in the House from time to time, if necessary.
Mr. McLachlan: I too was surprised by last Fridays announcement and after having gone through a similar situation - not once, not twice, but three times - in Faro, once on a cut-back, once on a non-startup and once on a mine closure, I have a great deal of empathy withy the people of Faro, with the Member and with what is happening in that community at this time. I realize that it is too late to reverse any decisions that were made last week. All that can be done now is to see that the very best is done to help those who are affected by this move.
From the statement that the Minister has read today, and my previous experience of dealing with these manpower adjustment committees, that appears to be well in place, and I hope it is very successful.
Question re: United Keno Hill Mines closure
Mr. Phelps: Not surprisingly, I am going to lead off this session with some questions about the closure of United Keno Hill Mines.
On Friday, when we first heard about the mine closing down, we were struck by the government leaders statement that he was caught by surprise by the announcement. Was the government leader not concerned about the situation much prior to the announcement last Friday?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Indeed I was. To that end, I met with the president of the company late last year in Elsa, at the time when the company had given notice of some layoffs, to review the situation with him, in the company of the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, whose constituency it is, and was given assurances at that time that the difficult situation was that the company contemplated some reductions in employment and some curtailing of their operations, but that a shut down was not under consideration.
Mr. Phelps: On April 14, 1988, the government leader was asked about plans to rebuild the Mayo hydro dam. At that time he said that the government would have to be satisfied that the main customer would have to be around for a long time in order to proceed with the project. As the Yukon Development Corporation has started rebuilding the dam, can the Minister tell us what facts were relied on regarding the longevity of the United Keno Hill Mine?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The member may not know, but as we proceeded with the Mayo Dam Project, it became quite clear that the storage dam at that location would have to be rehabilitated and protected. In fact we were reaching the point where it would not be possible to get liability insurance on the property. Whatever happens now, or in the near future, with United Keno Hill, we have a continuing obligation to supply power to customers in that area, including that mine if it reopens, other industrial customers and indeed the residential consumers in that region.
Mr. Phelps: Is there a long term contract in effect now between the Yukon Development Corporation, or its subsidiary, and the mine, regarding the purchase of power from the Mayo dam?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is a matter of some considerable concern to me and to the officials of Yukon Electric and Yukon Energy Corporation. Those officials met in Mayo on December 6 of this year with a senior official of the company concerning finalizing a long term supply contract. No advance notice was given of the companys intentions announced a few days ago. Every assurance had been given to us that the mine would continue to operate and that the contract we were trying to conclude would be reached.
Question re: United Keno Hill Mines closure
Mr. Phelps: I take the answer was no to my last question.
The mine has been losing money for some time and silver prices have been falling dramatically in terms of Canadian dollars. Has the Department of Economic Development of this government been monitoring the situation at the mine since last summer when the decision was made to proceed with the renewal of the dam?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Yes. I had requested, as had cabinet committee, reports. We received at least three progress reports on the situation over the last year which that were predatory to my meetings with the company officials. Of course, we have continued to endeavour to do whatever we could for this mine and industry generally in terms of supplying those things that are under our control, such as roads, power, training whatever. There are some things we cannot manage. Among them the weather and world metal prices. We have attempted to deal with those matters that were under our control and have recognized that there are some forces at work in the world over which we have no influence, silver prices being one of them.
Mr. Phelps: Would the Government Leader make a commitment to table the reports he has received from his department regarding their monitoring of the mine and its viability?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I could not give any such undertaking. The information contained in those reports is information obtained by our officials from the company. I think it is in ever sense of the word confidential in respect to their financial position, their operating costs, personnel situation and so forth. I certainly could not commit myself to sharing the information with the public without agreement from the company.
Mr. Phelps: I am somewhat confused about this. If they have all this confidential information that shows the very inner workings of the company - its costs of producing ore, and prices they are expecting for silver ore - why was a senior interdepartmental group not put together somen time ago, prior to the closing, to examine the facts and circumstances surrounding the problems the mine was having and to develop plans that might have kept the mine open, similar to, or the same group, as was just announced today in the Ministerial Statement by his colleague.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The short answer is that we are not responsible for managing the mine, nor were we invited to become responsible for managing the mine.
The fact of the matter is that every meeting, every conversation and every exchange of information that we have had with the company was that while they have had difficulties and while the price of silver was low, that in recent months and years they had made substantial, indeed major, investments into developing new ore bodies. They have greater reserves than ever before in their history. They are not likely under any circumstances to abandon their investment in that area. We were given repeated assurances that while there would be some cutbacks there they were not contemplating complete closure of the mine. The announcement that came last week was as much a surprise to the Member opposite as it was to us.
Question re: Hyland Forest Products
Mr. McLachlan: My question is also for the Government Leader. It is a simple, direct and straight forward question and requires the same in the answer.
Is the Hyland Forest Products Mill in Watson Lake making any money now or is it continuing to lose money?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am not going to give mid-year projections on the future of the company at this point. The company operates in a commercial environment and the Member, who is a small business person himself, is not going to stand in this House and make periodic announcements about his affairs. We will be providing reports to the House. As Members opposite have indicated to the media there are some discussions going on now which limit my ability to discuss these matters publicly.
Mr. McLachlan: I did say a direct answer.
Does the government intend to sell this mill or does it intend to bring in a private enterprise partner with a percentage of the action to help sort out the problems?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As you know, from the beginning, when we made this decision in December of 1986 to get involved in this project, we said we were prepared to joint venture with any community employee or private business organizations willing to participate with us in the ownership of that plant. The government made the decision to get involved with that operation because there was no other available buyer to save the jobs and protect the economic interests of Watson Lake or to develop the forestry sector there. That situation still pertains. Indeed, we have been proceeding according to that agenda.
Mr. McLachlan: Has a decision been made on the $2.5 million waste generating plant, which the Government Leader assured the people of the Yukon would be made by the end of 1988?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am not sure to what decision The Member refers. If The Member is asking has the power potential of that mill been ascertained, the answer is yes, the feasibility studies have been done to establish that during the down time at the mill, it can supply to the town of Watson Lake and agreement to do so has been reached. Equipment has been ordered to facilitate that fact, and once the equipment has arrived and been installed, we will be able to make some announcement about when that will go into effect.
Question re: Human Rights Commission, appointment of director
Mr. Phillips: I have a question to the Minister of Justice. It is regarding the recent appointment of the Executive Director of the Human Rights Commission. Was the Minister of Justice or his department ever consulted for legal advice by the former Minister of Renewable Resources regarding accepting a job as the Executive Director of the Human Rights Commission?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Not in any formal way. The answer is no. However, there was a conversation between Mr. Porter and me, which Mr. Porter has alluded to in the media, and that conversation occurred after Mr. Porter had been offered the job. We had a general conversation about that offer of a job and, indeed, to another offer of a job that he had had simultaneously.
Mr. Phillips: That is very interesting, Mr. Speaker. The Minister said the consultation was prior to the former Minister of Renewable Resources accepting the job. This is an extremely important matter, and the high profile of a political minister accepting a supposedly non-political job. Did the Minister of Justice not think it was important enough to pass this information on to his Government Leader and, if so, did he do this?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The conversation I had with Mr. Porter was in the nature of a personal conversation about his future, and I passed information about that conversation to no other person whomsoever. That conversation occurred after Mr. Porter had been offered the job.
Mr. Phillips: So The Minister is saying that this was just a personal conversation and of no political impact whatsoever on anybody, so neither he nor Mr. Porter took any of this information to Mr. Penikett prior to Mr. Porter accepting the job?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The Member opposite has attempted to put words into my mouth that I did not speak and would not adopt. The fact is that Mr. Porter and I had a conversation. It was a personal conversation about his future and I told no one else about that.
Question re: Human Rights Commission, appointment of director
Mrs. Firth: I have a question about the same matter for the same Minister. Mr. Speaker, the defence that the former Minister of Renewable Resources used was that he had, in fact, sought out legal advice regarding his job, and he had sought that advice before he took the job, not after offered, as the Minister had stated. He said before he took the job he asked Mr. Kimmerly if there would be legal problems, at which time he was told by the Minister of Justice that there were some gray areas, there was room for interpretation, there could be a legal wrangle, but there was no conflict. Can The Minister tell us when that conversation took place?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Mr. Speaker, I am increasingly amazed at the political acumen of one Mr. Porter, because he spoke to me today, saying to me that some elements of some news attacks were actually inaccurate. Mr. Porter and I both attended that conversation. It was a private conversation about his future and it was in the nature of a personal conversation and we discussed the prospect of his impending decision. That is what occurred and it was in the nature of a personal discussion.
Mrs. Firth: I heard the former Minister of Renewable Resources myself on CBC at 5:30 p.m. in the evening. I heard his words with my own ears, and I am sure CBC has it on tape. There was no factual inaccuracy. It was the former Minister saying that before he took the job he asked his colleague if there would be any problems, and he stated what his colleague had said. They were his own words.
Can the Minister of Justice confirm that that statement was accurate? Can he confirm that it was Mr. Porters words, and when that conversation regarding that legal advice took place?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The Member is asking me to cast my mind back to a newscast and to a comment on the newscast and to confirm accuracies or inaccuracies. I will do nothing of the kind. The facts of the matter are as I have stated them, and I believe I have stated them completely.
Mrs. Firth: So, what the Minister of Justice wants us to believe then is that the former Minister came to see him before he took the job. He asked about the political sensitivity of the job. He asked about conflict of the job. The Minister felt there could be a legal wrangle. He felt there was no need to pass this message on to his colleagues or to the Government Leader, with an election on the horizon and the political independence and the integrity of the Commission in jeopardy. The Minister wants us all to believe that he did not feel it was a matter to be discussed with the Government Leader. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The facts are as I have stated them. They are as clear as night and day. I had a conversation with Mr. Porter, and I told no other person about that conversation. That is something that occurred as a fact, and all the questioning is, I suppose, an attempt to draw attention to that. The facts are as I have stated them.
Question re: Human Rights Commission, appointment of director
Mrs. Firth: The facts are that the former Minister of Renewable Resources is saying that he sought out legal advice from his colleague, was told there would be no conflict of interest but there could be a legal wrangle, and his colleague did not pass the message on.
Can the Government Leader tell us if he had any discussions with the former Minister of Renewable Resources prior to him accepting the position as the executive director of the Human Rights Commission?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I understand that the Minister of Justice said he had a private conversation with an individual about a personal matter. I want to say for the record that I would not expect Ministers to betray personal confidences that they have obtained to me.
Some Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member for Porter Creek East has a complaint. I am not sure what it is. He will no doubt make it later.
The question of fact is that the Minister of Renewable Resources advised me of the offer and his acceptance prior to it becoming public. At the time he advised me, I had no prior knowledge of him applying for it, being interviewed for it, and being offered it, or his decision to accept it.
Mrs. Firth: That is very interesting because I believe when the issue became public the Government Leader insisted through his press secretary that he knew nothing of it prior to it being announced that day.
We are trying to find out what the truth is. We are trying to find out who knew what when.
I would like to ask the Government Leader again if he had any discussions regarding this sensitive job with the former Minister of Renewable Resources before he accepted that job and announced it publicly?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I said that I had had no discussions with him prior to his accepting it. He did of course advise me before it was announced publicly. The Members statement of facts earlier was inaccurate in that respect.
We are talking about a person who had decided to retire from politics and seek employment. He applied for a job which was publicly advertised. It was with an independent commission. The commission decided to short list the applicants and interview that person and offer him the job. It was not a decision that would come to Cabinets attention in the normal course of things, and in fact we would not have wanted to have done so.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Government Leader explain his comment made in the paper saying he did not know until the former Minister informed him - referring to the former Minister of Renewable Resources - that he had been offered the job. Was the Government Leader trying to convey the message that he knew that the job had been offered but not accepted, or that he knew that the former Minister had accepted the job? That statement was made quite some time after it was made public. It was made on 10 January, 1989.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am not sure what item of public business is being discussed here, or about the legitimacy of these questions in Question Period. I suspect the Member is trying to split hairs in any case.
My understanding of the facts is that prior to the announcement being made public Mr. Porter advised me he had been offered the job and had accepted.
Question re: Human Rights Commission, appointment of director
Mrs. Firth: So, in trying to get to the bottom of this matter and trying to find the truth, the Government Leader is saying he never had an opportunity to advise Mr. Porter not to take the job, however, his colleague the Minister of Justice did have that opportunity when his legal advice was sought?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have great doubts about my position, in terms of advising a citizen whether or not to accept a job. My advice was not sought on that point. I am not sure I would have offered it if asked the question.
Mrs. Firth: Surely, the Government Leader has the mental capacity to agree that this individual accepted this job not as a regular citizen on the street, but as a senior, high-profile, member of his Cabinet. Surely, the Government Leader has to agree to that.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not agree at all with the Members interpretation. I am not sure what she is trying to get at with this probe. I would have thought there were many more urgent and pressing matters before the public than this, but let me answer the question.
The Member had indicated to his colleagues that he intended to retire, that he did not intend to seek re-election. The Member is entitled, as is any other citizen, to seek new employment, and that is what the Member did. He applied for a job that was publicly advertised, he was interviewed for that job, he was offered the job and he accepted it. The Cabinet, the Government of Yukon, had nothing to do with that process.
Mrs. Firth: After this little issue - as the Government Leader is trying to make it out to be - became a tremendous public issue and public concern, which it is, can the Government Leader tell us if he sent the former Minister of Renewable Resources out to get a legal opinion regarding his position?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No, I did not. The facts are, as I have already indicated publicly, that, following the public announcement, I had reason to have a question in my mind about the standing of a Member who had accepted a job in the future, a job that he was not due to take until April, and caused an opinion to be obtained on that question, which was received and considered by Cabinet this week.
Question re: Human Rights Commission, appointment of director
Mr. Lang: With respect to this, I have a follow up question. It does question the intelligence of the general public and anybody who is watching what is taking place here. Our concern is what would appear to be, to some degree, direct or indirect political involvement by Cabinet in respect to the position they say is at arms length. I refer specifically to the fact that we have a Cabinet Minister who was retiring from public life. He can apply for any job he wants. I defend his right, but the Government Leader has informed us and the public that, to his knowledge, he has never had any discussions with the former Minister of Renewable Resources about his future and what he was going to do. The impression that is being left with all of us is that nobody is talking to anyone else, as far as the Cabinet is concerned.
In view of the fact that the Minister of Renewable Resources was told that a job offer had been made, prior to acceptance - and that is a very important point - he sought out legal advice from the Minister of Justice, who is indirectly responsible for the Human Rights Commission, to see whether or not he could accept such a position, in view of his position as a Cabinet Minister.
If the Cabinet Minister, Mr. Porter, was not speaking to the Government Leader, why did the Minister of Justice not tell the Cabinet and the Government Leader that there was a possible appointment pending and people should be knowledgeable about it? Obviously, it is a political concern to the point that we have one less Member in this House.
Question of Privilege
Hon. Mr. Penikett: On a Question of Privilege. I believe the Member has just imputed that Ministers on this bench have lied or misled the House with respect to the facts. I ask the Member to challenge me on the facts. He has alleged that Cabinet was involved in this decision. He has alleged that the government was involved in the decision about the offer of employment. I stand here in my place and say that is a complete mis-statement of the facts. This government - this Cabinet - was not involved in the selection of that position. We had no voice in the shortlisting. We had no voice in the interviewing. I would not have wanted us to have had one.
Mr. Lang: I rise on the same question. I never said anybody lied. I am just asking what happened. Has the Government Leader gone so far in his position as Government Leader of the Yukon that we are not entitled to ask a question of the Member unless it meets his fancy?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Point of Order.
Speaker: Point of Order, Minister of Justice.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: This is a supplementary question, and we are well beyond the one sentence preamble.
Mr. Lang: Mr. Speaker, what is the ruling?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I was rising to answer the question.
Speaker: I will take this question of privilege under advisement. I would just like to remind the Members to please keep to the rules of this House to a one-sentence preamble and, also, with the answers as brief as possible.
Question re: Human Rights Commission, appointment of director
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: To the question about the public interest concerning Mr. Porters acceptance of the job as executive director of the Commission on Human Rights, there has been a long tradition in this country, and the most notable example is Gordon Fairweather, who was appointed from a Member of Parliament directly to the chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights of Canada, that these commissions should have a sensitive ear to the public interest. Mr. Porter is an outstanding, aboriginal person with a keen appreciation of the public interest in . . .
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please conclude his answer?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I cannot think of a better person for that job.
Mr. Lang: The Government Leader, whose defense is to rise in a question of privilege and our right to ask questions here, stated the government was in no way involved with respect to the appointment we are discussing today on the floor of the House.
Could the Minister of Justice or the Government Leader tell us why, if that is the case, the former Minister of Renewable Resources discussed this appointment with the Minister of Justice prior to accepting it?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The question is specifically asking about the motives of Mr. Porter. However, I have known Mr. Porter for something in excess of ten years, and we have had personal conversations about all sorts of important and unimportant matters. I would call Mr. Porter a friend and a colleague, and we discussed the matter as friends and colleagues would.
Question re: Human Rights Commission, appointment of Director
Mr. Lang: I am not questioning the integrity of the former Minister of Renewable Resources. I am questioning the involvement of the side opposite with respect to the appointment at hand. What I do not understand is how the Minister of Justice can have a personal conversation with the then Minister of Renewable Resources about the appointment, prior to his appointment to the executive director position of the Human Rights Commission, and say there is no political involvement. Has the Minister ever had any other personal conversations with other applicants for that particular position?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: There are essentially two questions. The first one is how I could have a personal involvement about such an important matter. The reason is I had no official involvement or no opportunity - and I sought no opportunity - to have any impact on this appointment whatsoever. Consequently, I can have a personal conversation with an applicant. In response to the second question, the answer is yes. There have been five or six individuals, who I will not name, who have indicated to me they are interested in that job, and we had a personal conversation about those. I told no other persons about those conversations, specifically no one on the commission.
Question re: Human Rights Commission, appointment of Director
Mr. Phelps: I am from Carcross and I want to get one thing straight. Is the Minister of Justice responsible in this House for the Human Rights Commission?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I am happy to help the barefoot boy from Carcross. The answer is no. The Commission is responsible not to me but to this Legislature by an act of this Legislature.
Mr. Phelps: Who defends the budget in this House on behalf of the Human Rights Commission?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I do, and I am pleased to do so.
Question re: Yukon Housing Corporation, railer
Mr. Lang: I think we will let that lie for a while and maybe have the Minister of Justice and the Government Leader read the Votes and Proceedings overnight and think about the past events. Have we said what, who was where and who is responsible for what? I would like to move on to another corporation. I do not know if anyone is responsible for this one in the House, but I will put the question to the Minister of Housing and see if we can get any answers from there. This does not have to do with appointments, political or otherwise. This has to do with housing.
Can the Minister of Housing confirm to this House that, sometime last summer, approximately a 12 year old trailer was moved from Faro to Pelly Crossing to provide housing for a teacher in that community?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Because I am responsible for a corporation that does conduct its business on its own, it would be stretching things to expect me to have a personal knowledge of things such as moving one trailer to a community. However, though I do not have perfect recall, I do remember that, in response to a requirement for teacher housing in Pelly Crossing, the Housing Corporation did make an effort to move in a trailer to the community in order to accommodate the needs of that community.
Mr. Lang: If the Minister does not have instant recall, I hope he will take the opportunity and the time to confirm the following information that I have received so that the public is fully aware of how this lean, mean, tough corporation is running its business.
Can the Minister confirm that the total amount of money to move and set up this 12 year old trailer from Faro to Pelly Crossing and set up on some land in Pelly Crossing was $90,000?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No, I cannot, but I must caution all Members of the House on both sides that the Member last year made repeated accusations in the House that, upon investigation, turned out to be quite untrue and quite inaccurate and, yet, the press felt obligated to report the attack that was made and not so obligated to report the response.
The Member has proven himself to be quite unreliable. The accusation the Member has made will be investigated, as they always are.
Mr. Lang: Now it is the medias fault. It is the press fault. On the previous issue, somebody else made the point, and it had nothing to do with us. All we did was talk about it. In this case, if the issue is raised, then it is the medias fault if you do not have the answer.
Can the Minister find the time to check into the operations of this lean and mean, tough organization that he speaks so proudly of? Can he confirm that, in the setting up of this 12 year old trailer, that was moved from Faro to Pelly Crossing, it was initially set up in the wrong place and have to be moved and set up again?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Basically, the answer I provided before remains the answer to this accusation. I suppose it is no fault of anyone but the Member for Porter Creek East that he repeats his accusations which, on reflection, turn out to be not entirely accurate. It is the obligation of the Housing Corporation to respond, to make sure that the information is put on record and before this Legislature. That will be done.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will now proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
ADDRESS IN REPLY TO SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Ms. Kassi: 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 beg leave to offer our humble thanks for the gracious speech that you have addressed to the House.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Old Crow 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 that you have addressed to the House.
Ms. Kassi: First of all, I would like to say to my relatives, thank you for coming and showing your support. You give me strength.
Before I get into my speech, I would like to welcome to the House the Reverend Dr. Ellen Bruce from Old Crow and Mrs. Effie Linklater and the students of FH Collins from Old Crow.
It is good to be back. I may not think this way by the end of the week, however, it is good to be here again for many reasons: to learn to acquire knowledge that I can pass on to our people back home as well as share many of our concerns and express our gratitude for what has been accomplished.
Before I go too far into my speech this afternoon I want to pay tribute to one very important person from my community: Mr. Charlie Peter Charlie, a very respected elder of my people, the Vuntat Gwichin, who was recently awarded the Order of Canada, one of the highest honors. This honour was bestowed upon him for his contribution to the life and growth of our community and many outside as well. It is good to see people like him getting national recognition for the good work they do.
It is also my duty as a member of the Wolf Clan to thank his wife, Mrs. Fanny Charlie, of the Crow Clan, for being the woman, the background for all her hard work toward such an achievement.
Another woman we are so very proud of, and who has put forth tremendous effort in my upbringing as well as many other young and old people in Old Crow, is my auntie, Mrs. Effie Linklater. She will be ordained as the next Reverend Deaconess for our local Anglican Diocese. This will take place next Sunday, January 15, here in Whitehorse. Mrs. Linklater will be conducting services in Gwichin language in the old log church each Sunday. I know that many from our nation take pride in congratulating her for her good work and her achievements.
Further, there is yet another very special person I would like to mention today: the Honourable David Porter. We all know he had just resigned his seat on Monday. I wish to thank him for all the hard work and dedication he has put forth to build a strong foundation for many aboriginal people.
He has contributed to the well-being of his constituents since 1982 as an MLA. I have watched him work and perform in his duties as a leader. Truly he is a role model for our youth.
One of the many important things he has accomplished for my community of Old Crow was the signing of the Porcupine Caribou Management Agreement. His continuous efforts in preserving our unique arctic wilderness, its animals and peoples, will be remembered for a long time.
He contributed to the development of the forum of the Indigenous Survival International. He lobbied for the preservation of a vital resource in the north, the Porcupine caribou herd.
Many times the sacrifices that one makes go unnoticed, however, the Vuntat Gwichin and many other aboriginal friends and relatives, and many Yukoners share our gratitude. I am thanking him and am also saying as his caucus colleague that we will truly miss him here.
We look forward to working with the former Minister and MLA in other areas in the future.
Our brother, David, you have worked very hard for us; wherever you may walk, whatever you do, may the Great Spirit be with you.
That leads me to extend my best wishes and congratulations to the Member for Klondike on his promotion. I have learned something from him, too, and he certainly will learn a lot from me in his role as Minister of Renewable Resources and Tourism, with no surprises.
I look forward to working with him in the future in this position.
In Old Crow, Mr. Speaker, we have a new Chief and Council. They are Chief Roger Kaye and Councillors Gladys Netro, Robert Bruce Jr., David Charlie and Danny Kassi. This is the new Tribal Council. I wish them well in their new positions. I know they are working hard to learn as much as possible right now so that they can be a good council and deal with the many important issues that face our community.
I would also like to thank and pay tribute to the people who served on the past council. They have achieved a lot. Chief Alice Frost and Councillors Georgie Vittrewka, Stanley Njootli and Roy Moses. Mr. Speaker, my speech today, in reply to the Speech from the Throne, I will cover several areas. I will talk about what has been going on in my community and what concerns the people I represent. I will review some of the things I have been involved in since the House last met, such as lobbying on the the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge issue, but I will look specifically at what was in the Throne Speech that is of importance and relevance to my community, and there are a lot of good things in there that I would like to address.
What I see in my community, Mr. Speaker, and what people talk to me about, are the many needs we have in Old Crow and concerns about outside influences on our traditional way of life. Though we are happy to hear that the radar site will not be built on Herschel Island, the people of Old Crow request that during the environmental review process, the committee come to Old Crow and explain where these radar sites will be built, and also, who will build them. Will there be any damage to the environment? What is its purpose? What are the benefits, if any? And then gather first hand what the Vuntat Gwichin have to say on this project. We are very pleased to see they are sticking to their decisions not to put it on the Old Crow Mountain. I thank the Government Leader and the former Minister of Renewable Resources and Tourism for their lobbying efforts on this issue.
In Old Crow, again, we are hearing more news about pipelines. We have said time and time again that we do not need or want any mega-developments within the range of the Porcupine Caribou. We cannot live without the caribou. The Vuntat Gwichin will continue to have a voice in these issues. They will affect our area and we must have a say. Our environment, and maintaining clean water, has never meant more to us than today.
In our village, we continue to see the need for more housing. This Government has been responsive to requests for assistance in building further housing. We have fourteen lots set aside for new houses next year, and three more new houses are being built by the Department of Indian Affairs. But we need a lot more. There are approximately one 115 young people, aged sixteen or over, who will need houses in the next few years. If the six-plex that we have proposed is going to be built, then this will help a bit. But I think that, with these numbers, you can see how much new housing we need in Old Crow to meet the future growth.
Mr. Speaker, the health of the community continues to be a concern. We must address the unhealthy conditions of the village in the spring. We are hoping that a better drainage system will be cultivated. We need further improvements on our water and sewer systems, and a major cleanup to eliminate the problem once and for all.
Our people are growing, Mr. Speaker. We have another successful life skills program going on in the community and it makes me proud to see the changes in the participants. People are gaining more control over their lives as individuals, making them stronger. We had a program like this last year, and it worked very well. We had a lot of success. This should be done more in the future and in more communities for their grass roots development.
In Old Crow we see more people working, and lives of the families in the community improving. We are getting stronger and healthier, but there is so much more work to be done. We need more training and education for our people. We are presently working at setting up a self-government system. The support and commitment by this government has encouraged this process. Pending the final settlement of claims, we must act now to build up the skills of our youth and our people, and build a stronger future for each and every person on the land and in the community.
We are very close to the ratification of a claims framework agreement. What I want to see for the people of Old Crow is that they be fully informed before that ratification. We must make sure that all the Vuntat Gwichin know and understand what it means for our future and, most important, what the Vuntat Gwichin collectively want and need to see in our final claims settlement. I believe the new chief and council will do what they can to make this happen.
After the session ended last May, there were a couple of major events that affected my community and the Yukon overall. I am referring to the historic gathering of the Gwichin people in Arctic Village in Alaska. A direction of a grandmother of ours, Myra Kykavichic. She was over 106 years old who, while bedridden, knew of the crisis we all faced today, and advised the Gwichin chiefs to pull our people together once again to strengthen our stance on the preservation of our livelihood and the calving grounds of the caribou. She passed on after that direction was taken, so we gathered in one of the very last traditional villages of our nation. There were over 300 of us from Canada and the United States. The elders directed us on how to deal with the threat as the environmental destruction of the earth is taking place, and how we are the last and must do what we can do turn that around.
After not meeting in over 100 years, we managed to renew many bloodlines and see for the first time our very own relatives, and managed to achieve a strategy and educate many with worldwide media involvement.
Resources were made available for this very successful historic gathering by the World Wildlife Fund, Robert Redfords Institute for Resource Management, the Rural Alaska Community Action Program, and many other groups and organizations who participated from the United States. We are so very grateful to these organizations, who contributed tremendously. Mahsi Cho.
At that time, a steering committee was struck to carry the lobby of no development in the Arctic Coastal Plain and other issues of concern to us. These people are Kay Wallace, a Gwichin representative in the Alaska State Legislature; Jonathan Solomon, former chief of Fort Yukon, Alaska; Ernest Eric, chief of Venetie, Alaska; Sara James, councillor in Arctic Village, Alaska; former chief Johnny Charlie of Fort McPherson, Northwest Territories; from Arctic Red River, Northwest Territories, Alestine Andre, who is the coordinator of the Mackenzie Delta Regional Council; Gladys Netro and myself of the Vuntat Gwichin Tribal Council. These people were chosen to carry on the voices of our ancestors.
At this time, I have a resolution that was passed unanimously at that assembly, and I would like to read it into the record.
The Gwichin ... resolution to prohibit development in the calving and post calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou herd.
WHEREAS for thousands of years the Gwichin Athapaskan Indians of northeast Alaska and northwest Canada have relied on caribou for subsistence, and continue today to subist on the Porcupine Caribou Herd which is essential to meet the nutritional, cultural and spiritual needs of their people;
AND WHEREAS the Gwichin have the inherent right to continue their own way of life; and that this right is recognized and affirmed by civilized nations in the international covenants on human rights. Article I of both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights read in part:
. . . in no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.;
AND WHEREAS the health and productivity of the Porcupine Caribou Herd, and their availability to Gwichin communities, and the very future of the Gwichin people are endangered by proposed oil and gas exploration and development in the calving and post-calving grounds in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge - Coastal Plain;
AND WHEREAS the entire Gwichin Nation was called together by their Chiefs in Arctic Village June 5-10, 1988 to carefully address this issue;
AND WHEREAS the Gwichin people of every community from Arctic Village, Venetie, Fort Yukon, Beaver, Chalkyitsik, Birch Creek, Stevens Village, Circle, and Eagle Village in Alaska; from Old Crow, Fort McPherson, Arctic Red River, Aklavik and Inuvik in Canada have reached consensus in their traditional way, and request the support of ISI for protection of calving and post-calving grounds of the Porcupine Caribou Herd in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge 1002 Area as Wilderness;
BE IT RESOLVED THAT Indigenous Survival International calls on the United States Congress and President recognize the rights of our Gwichin people to continue to live their way of life by prohibiting development in the calving and post calving and post-calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou herd in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge 1002 Area as Wilderness;
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the 1002 area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge be designated wilderness to achieve this end;
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the subsistence activities of Native peoples be fully protected within this Wilderness area;
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT Indigenous Survival International calls on the United Nations to address this issue of human rights in support of the Gwichin people.
This resolution was passed during the meeting of the Gwichin Nation in Arctic Village.
Following Arctic Village there was a grand meeting of Indigenous Survival International at Fort Yukon, Alaska, immediately afterwards. Again we discussed the caribou issue and the fur labelling issue and drew international attention to these concerns.
As a result it was great news to see the European parliament withdraw their motion to put a label on fur products. This was certainly a big victory and I again want to thank the former Minister of Renewable Resources and the Yukon Government for their efforts in playing the lead role in fighting these issues of vital concern to so many people.
Again, at that time there was another resolution passed at the Indigenous Survival International Conference and the resolution reads:
WHEREAS for thousands of years the Gwichin Athapaskan Indians of Northeast Alaska and Northwest Canada have relied on caribou for subsistence and continue today to subsist on the Porcupine caribou herd which is essential to meet the nutritional, cultural and spiritual needs of their people;
AND WHEREAS the Gwichin have the inherent right to continue their own way of life; and that this right is recognized and affirmed by civilized nations in the international covenants of human rights. Article I of both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights read in part: ...in no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.;
AND WHEREAS the health and productivity of the Porcupine Caribou Herd, and their availability to Gwichin communities, and the very future of the Gwichin people are endangered by proposed oil and gas exploration and development in the calving and post-calving grounds in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge 1002 Area as Wilderness;
BE IT RESOLVED THAT Indigenous Survival International calls on the United States Congress and President to recognize the rights of the Gwichin people to continue to live their way of life by prohibiting development in the calving and post-calving grounds of the Porcupine Caribou Herd;
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the 1002 area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge be designated Wilderness to achieve this end;
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the subsistence activities of Native peoples be fully protected within this Wilderness area;
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT Indigenous Survival International calls on the United Nations to address this issue of human rights in support of the Gwichin people.
All Yukoners should be proud of the way our people have been working on these important issues. We are getting together, making strategy and doing effective lobbying on issues that benefit our people and our natural environment. The battles continue.
As the MLA for Old Crow I have been doing a lot of work on the caribou issue. The threat of development in the Arctic National Wildlife range in Alaska is still with us. During a lobbying trip last year to Washington, I met with National Geographic to encourage them to make a film of our people and our way of life. They agreed and came to Old Crow last year. There was a major article in the December issue of their magazine.
In addition, two Japanese film crews were in the area recently. One for Japanese TV and another for a major U.S. network. As publicity increases, so do our chances for success on this issue.
We have had some setbacks, including the appointments made to the International Board for Caribou. The U.S. finally filled their vacancies and these are not people who are pro-Caribou. The U.S. has been through an election which is something our people followed with close interest. Because of our concerns with respect to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, in this case it was bad news. The pro-development candidate won and has appointed a pro-development person as Secretary of the Interior in charge of the ANWAR issue. However, we will continue through our educational process to lobby and we look forward to continued hard work and resources made available and the lead role by the Government of Yukon. As with the caribou issue, we are not finished yet on the trapping issue either. As the international committee regards the leghold traps as cruel, we must continue to work towards ending the use of this type of trap. I must point out however that for my relatives in Old Crow we can still use the leghold trap for muskrats and beaver where drowning is involved. We do not have to exchange our rat traps. Our government supports trappers through programs to exchange traps and new money like grub stakes to help trappers buy new equipment.
Yesterday we heard the Speech from the Throne. It was an important speech. It was an excellent speech. My first impression was that it was good to finally see a great amount of emphasis on social and environmental issues. These are what concern me greatly as a member of this House because they are important to the people I represent. I was especially impressed with the section on social action. I believe this government and the ministers have been quite sensitive about social issues like housing, education, child care, family violence and justice issues. Since we came into office. This is because we want to see Yukon families get the support they need. The main priority of this government has been to get the economy back into shape. People need work and this government has wisely used the publics money to make important investments in our rural communities. I agree with the speech where we must turn more towards the social side of things.
I was pleased with the five principles that were outlined to guide the social actions of this government. It is recognized that there are two main cultures living here and the importance of building a bridge between the two. They pledge this government to helping individuals in our communities in a positive preventive way. The principles are: partnership with communities, client based services, cultural sensitivity, preventive approaches and integrated delivery. Looking at child care, I believe this government has lived up to the promise it made to Yukoners when it undertook the review of our child care needs. It was time for a major review. Now the government is responding and I look forward to the full details.
I give a lot of credit to the people who worked on the child care panel and to the Minister of Health and Human Resources for her dedication and work on this issue. I look forward to hearing further details of the many other items that the speech touched on as this session continues. I want to hear details from Ministers about some of the new programs and I am sure we will learn more with the upcoming budget speech. I look forward to that.
I will make a few comments now on some other items the throne speech referred to. First on power rates. We all know that Old Crow has some of the highest power rates in the territory. It will be good to see the bills go down for a change instead of going up. We will certainly welcome the break. Bringing the community development fund into being is a breakthrough. It makes sense to listen to what the community said and bring all these programs into one place and have one forum for groups, bands and other organizations to fill out. People have good ideas but they get bogged in paperwork and it gets discouraging.
On the fuel price enquiry, they had federal recommendations about Old Crow, but its obvious that our community will need assistance from this government to put some of the ideas into being. I do know, however, that this government has a commitment to rural Yukon. Whenever my community, for example, has a proposal, it is given serious consideration.
To summarize, these are just some of the accomplishments of this government in the past four years in my village alone. Many good things have happened in my village since we formed the government four years ago. We now have a new sub-division, with fine looking houses. First steps are being taken to build a better air strip at Eagle Plain. A six kilometre road is in the process of being built into the hills near Old Crow, which is badly needed, as the village has become very crowded. We need it for expansion.
The School Committee has much more power and has done a great deal in developing a much more adequate education system for our students. We have achieved international recognition for our concerns with respect to our number one vital resource, our livelihood, the caribou, which we must continue. Further, we have an economic development officer now, a wildlife officer, a probation officer, an alcohol and drug worker, a tribal justice co-ordinator and a tribal justice forum, who are now in the process of developing a much more viable grass roots justice system.
Mr. Speaker, we have seen many facilities being renovated through the Local Employment Opportunities Program, over the past few years. The new Mission House was renovated, the graveyard, the cafe, Nukons cabins, the drop-in centre will be renovated, the arcade, the skating rink will be fixed up starting in the next couple of weeks, and two major life skills programs have been successfully completed. Many thanks to the Minister of Community and Transportation Services for all his hard work for Old Crow, and I want to see him back here again to continue this in the future.
Also, in Old Crow, Mr. Speaker, we see trappers building cabins, which are badly needed.
The Liquor Act has been changed to allow us to prohibit public drinking in the communities. I am pleased to see the Kwanlin Dun and Selkirk bands taking the initial steps to dry communities. Hopefully, more will follow.
We also have a new sewage lagoon that was constructed, facilities to accommodate tourists have been built in Old Crow. The people have become much more politically aware, and a home for the wise ones is in the works.
Here in Whitehorse, Mr. Speaker, for the first time, we see a viable cultural component introduced to the inmates at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. A traditional sweat lodge is built, and being used, and a traditional feast was held before Christmas.
A Society has been established, and people are working towards the development of an after-care facility which will assist people by increasing their personal skills to phase back into society.
A bridge over the gap is being built between the native peoples and the non-native peoples, Mr. Speaker, by many people in this government, and I am very pleased to be a part of it.
Mr. Speaker, we also see that much more control is being taken in the communities by the local bands and tribal councils. Such a development will continue to contribute to this very important growth to many of us who live here in this territory and are here to stay.
I can also see, Mr. Speaker, changes to the education act, a native curriculum co-ordinator and much more involvement of aboriginal people in every level of government. Our Native Language Centre has been strengthened. There is more aboriginal content in tourism development, and more businesses are being opened up by natives.
As an aboriginal person, I am very happy and pleased to see such developments. They were a long time in coming. I cannot overstate how much hard work has been done for the Yukon people on all these issues by our Ministers in government. I want to thank our Minister of Health and Human Resources for everything she is doing and will continue to do.
And I want to say good-bye and thank you to another Minister, our Minister of Justice for his understanding and hard work on behalf of our people, especially in the Justice field. Many changes have been made. He has many great accomplishments and we are going to miss him.
There are many things I will continue to lobby this government for. Some of you have heard me talk about them. We need banking services. We have approximately $4 million dollars that goes through the community in a short time and we have to get a banking service pretty soon. Training funds for our economic development officer. Conservation and environmental preservation should be taught in our schools in all communities. We are looking forward to the Kwiya Report recommendations. The recognition of our tribal laws. Resources to be made available to continue to lobby and lead on the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge issue. Home for the wise ones, the elders in Old Crow. We need more sewage cleanup in the spring. We need new sewage pumpout systems in houses that need it. We also need an adequate skating rink for our youth. They are continuously coming to me and bringing me letters and knocking on my door asking for a skating rink and we must continue to look at that. This government has come a long way. We listen to and work with people from many walks of life. We care, we are working together to bridge the gap between cultures. We have a good government in a land of magic and mystery and we will carry on with our work towards an even better community and a better and fairer society. Mahsi Cho my relatives for being here. Mahsi Cho, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Phelps: It is always a pleasure to follow the member from Old Crow and to hear about her constituents and her community. It is good to see people from Old Crow here in the assembly to hear her speech. All of us are proud of Old Crow and of the work the people of Old Crow are doing to protect the Porcupine Caribou herd. I am sorry that my friend Mr. Porter will not be here because I have enjoyed working with him over the past three and one half years and have admired his considerable debating skills.
I would also like to congratulate the new Minister on his appointment. I have enjoyed working with him on the Public Accounts Committee and perhaps the working relationship will not be so close from here on in. It is a pleasure to be back in the house and to be working once again in this democratic forum on behalf of the people of Yukon. We have been away far too long. The Government Leader, in a surprised mood, canceled our traditional fall session, a tradition that goes back to 1979, a tradition that initially had the full support of that Honourable Member for Whitehorse West. The purpose of the fall session is twofold: to raise and deal with issues that have arisen over the summer and fall and to pass a capital budget for the following year. Both of these functions are important. Discussing issues in this house often results in a better, more responsible government. That is one of the main reasons we are hear. For example, had we been sitting in November and December, the predicament of United Keno Hill Mines would have certainly been on the agenda. This in turn would have compelled the government to do some contingency planning and to have worked with the mine management to see if the closure might have been avoided.
The timely passing of the Capital Budget is equally important, for one of the major problems of this government is its record of mismanagement, mismanagement of its finances. According to the Auditor General, the legal over expenditures for the year 1986-87 were as follows: under Operation and Maintenance, Health and Human Resources is $1.286 million; Public Service Commission, $118,000; Community and Transportation Services, $592,000; Education, $1.438 million; for a total of $4.1 million illegally over spent.
Then the Auditor General again cited illegal over expenditures in 1987-88 as follows: Operation and Maintenance, Health and Human Resources, $1.321 million; Yukon Housing Corporation, $955,000; Public Service Commission, $872,000; Community and Transportation Services, $328,000; and under Capital Government Services, $191,000; for a total of $3.6 million in that fiscal year.
Mismanagement by the government of its capital projects has been a grave concern to us. Last year the all-party Public Accounts Committee was highly critical of the way in which capital projects are being handled.
The Public Accounts Committee examined the causes for huge cost overruns on capital projects such as Yukon College, the Ross River Arena and the Dawson City Museum Train Roof, and it concluded that a lot of the problems occur at the front end of the project, in the stages leading up to the tendering of each project.
This is important to understand. It is important because the main building season for Yukon is the summer and fall. The Capital Budget traditionally has been passed in the fall so the initial planning stages for capital projects could be completed and projects tendered in time for the building season. In previous years there have been problems in the stages prior to tender and in going to tender in a timely fashion, despite the fact that Capital Budgets have been passed in the Fall Session.
This year the Capital Budget will be later than ever. I, for one, fear that the mismanagement will be worse than ever before.
We have the rather sorry spectacle of the Government Leader who campaigned on a platform of open government and the importance of the Legislature being the same person who canceled the important Fall Session.
We have the same person who has spoken so many times about the important role of the Public Accounts Committee, by timing his announcement, and the way he did it, making it virtually impossible for that all-party committee to perform its important role, as it usually does this time of year.
It has been my practice in responding to the Speech from the Throne to acknowledge new initiatives, to give credit to the government for any positive features contained in the speech, and to provide fair and constructive criticism where criticism is due. If one holds to such an approach, the result should normally be a balanced response but, this year, such an approach is very difficult to adhere to. What we heard yesterday was a pre-election speech, a speech that contained very little that could be classified as new, and very little that could be considered positive, especially after one carefully analyzes the facts that underlie the rhetoric.
As to the positive aspects of the Speech from the Throne, I am somewhat heartened by the belated attention now paid to the protection of our environment. It is better late than never. Yukoners are becoming more and more concerned about environmental issues, and a lot of practical things should be done. For example, we have been working for some time with residents who are concerned with the manner in which solid waste is disposed of in my riding of Hootalinqua. It is time the government made a commitment to spend the necessary money to establish transfer sites rather than landfill garbage dumps in Hootalinqua, so garbage will all end up in one regional dump, rather than left to pollute the groundwater under sites that are scattered all over. I am tabling a motion this afternoon that calls for the creation of a government program that will assist the private sector in providing proper septic pumpouts at appropriate locations along our highway systems.
This motion is in conformance with the resolution of the Yukon Progressive Conservative Party that stems from the problems we are experiencing of the increasing number of recreation vehicles used on our highways. At present, there are not enough strategically placed septic pumpout stations along our highways, with the result that many people are emptying septic tanks in gravel pits and other spots along the roads.
As well, I have been working with Carcross residents on the sewage problem being experienced there. The water in the Nares River is no longer fit to drink, so we are asking for a water and sewer system in Carcross. I am pleased that the Throne Speech deals with this specific issue and, as well, speaks to the similar problems being created by sewage disposal in many other communities along our navigable lakes and rivers.
The Hootalinqua riding includes a large area downstream from the City of Whitehorse. Residents along the river and along Lake Laberge are disgusted by the pollution discharged from the city into the Yukon River. Solutions to this problem must be found soon to protect the recreational values of this historic waterway for future generations.
Practical steps should and can be taken and, I am sure, will be taken, to protect our environment. Some of these steps are long overdue, but I am happy that the government is starting to place a greater priority on issues such as these.
I have one word of caution, however. I am a little concerned about the governments approach to the environmental protection issues. We do not need another army of new boards and committees with new regulatory powers intruding unnecessarily into our lives. The big brother approach could turn off a good many sincere Yukoners who would gladly pay a little more for a practical approach to protecting our environment.
The big brother approach could scare off investors and make our territory even more dependent on the federal government spending than it is now.
The Speech from the Throne also gives a greater priority to child care, especially day care, and to education. We welcome this priority as well. All parties agree about the need for improvements to our day care system. Our approaches differ, however. In any event, we look forward to a constructive debate on a very important issue when it comes to the details of the government program on day care.
Regarding education, we look forward to seeing the governments new education bill. There is a fair amount of apprehension from the public regarding this initiative, but I am certain that constructive debate will result in constructive amendments being made to the new education act where required.
The government mentions new initiatives at Yukon College in this speech. We strongly support positive initiatives in terms of new programs at the college, and we hope the side opposite will not mind if we remind Yukoners that it was our government that initiated the new Yukon College and announced its intention to proceed with the construction in March of 1985.
Let us now turn to the major problems we have with the Speech from the Throne. This is a pre-election speech if ever there was one. It is a speech that ignores hard basic reality. They want us to believe that they have done wonders with the economy, that the economy has diversified and now they can leave that and turn to the development of social programs. They talk about maintaining a climate of certainty for mining. Nothing could stray further from the real facts.
Fact: they ignored the closing of the Mount Skukum Mine in this speech.
Fact: they ignored the problems with the mine at Ketza where one partner has gone broke and the mine has been sold to a new Toronto firm that is desperately going to try to keep it going.
Fact: the closure of United Keno Mines is ignored. I do not say this with any enjoyment. My family has ties with Elsa that go back a long way. My grandfather was involved with the predecessor company, my father worked at the mine and lived in Elsa, my aunt and uncle worked at the mine and lived in Elsa. While the closing of the mine will not affect me nearly as closely nor severely as it will the present workers and their families, including the hon. Member for Mayo and Elsa and his family, I share with most Yukoners a sense of loss and a deeply felt concern for Elsa, for its residents, and of course for our economy.
Be that as it may, this speech should not have ignored that closing.
Fact: tourism is down.
Fact: the sawmill in Watson Lake is losing huge amounts of money because of mismanagement.
The truth is that our economy is not diversified. We are experiencing a false economy in Yukon. The government has badly misinterpreted the economic upturn we have experienced here.
I want to now discuss this issue. I will also discuss the issue of government growth, government spending and the resulting false economy.
There is no question that the Yukon did experience an upturn in recent years. In fact, several groups, including the Yukon Chamber of Commerce, have expressed some concern from time to time about overheating the local economy and the inflationary pressures that may result. The present boom was fueled by two main factors. Firstly, the healthy economies in the western world in conjunction with the devaluation of the dollar, and, secondly, by huge increases in government spending.
The first factor is fairly self-evident. The economies of the U.S., Japan and Europe have been booming for the past number of years. This has lead to an increased demand for products in inventories such as metals. The increased demand together with the falling dollar caused metal prices to rise and led to an increase in mineral exploration in Yukon. The strong upturn in metal prices ensured the success of one mine, namely Curragh, and the increase in exploration has resulted in the discovery and development of numerous other properties. The same factor, namely the growing economies of the western world coupled with the devalued dollar, led to an initial increase in our tourism industry. While we initially made solid gains in tourism and in mining over several years, people in those industries are now more than a little apprehensive about the remarkable increase in the value of the dollar over the past number of months, and about the decline in prices for our precious metals. These new trends make us skeptical about this governments platitude regarding the economy.
The second main cause behind the economic upturn was, and is, the huge increase in government spending. Most of that money was negotiated by the previous administration prior to the 1985 election and that includes the Economic Development Agreement and the Formula Financing Agreement. Not only were those agreements in place by May 1985, but a substantial surplus, approximately $41 million, was turned over to the new government.
The point I am making is that the economic upturn was largely the result of forces external to the policies of the present government. It has no control over the economies of free world countries or the value of the dollar. That was admitted today in question period by the Government Leader in response to some of my questions. The money it has been spending was in place, or the agreements that provided the money were in place, when they took power, so that was external as well.
Therefore, in order to judge the effectiveness of this government one has to examine the manner in which it is spending the money. It is my thesis that the government has been creating a false economy in that we are becoming more and more dependent on government spending. It is interesting to compare the present boom to the one we experienced in the late 70s, particularly when we keep in mind the population back then was nearly the same as today; todays is slightly larger. In 1980-81, the transfer payments from Ottawa totalled almost $60 million. In 1987-88, the transfer payment was around, or over, $230 million. In 1980-81, the total budget for YTG was about $104 million. This year, the total budget will probably exceed $300 million. Government spending has grown dramatically and so has the number of government employees.
Look at the huge increase in government office space. It has more than doubled since the new government took office and it seems destined to grow much more. The problem is that the more this government grows, the more it becomes dependent on Ottawa and this is largely because of the way the government is mismanaging the money delivered to it pursuant to the Formula Financing Agreement. That agreement, as I said, was negotiated by the previous administration. It was an extremely rich deal. It was designed to give the Yukon Government a lot of money for infrastructure.
The government is now spending about $300 million a year. Mr. Speaker, when the government spends that kind of money, its bound to create a lot of jobs. But government doesnt create wealth, the private sector does that. When the government builds office buildings, curling rinks and that kind of thing, short-term jobs are created. But so is our dependency on Ottawa increased, because we have to pay for the operation and maintenance costs, and that kind of spending, when you spend on things that cost money in the future, is debt creation, not wealth creation. That has been a fundamental problem with the spending habits of this government.
We simply havent seen the economic diversification here. The governments money has been spent on government growth, social programs, expensive and unproductive facilities. Very little of the budget has been spent on creating an infrastructure that will attract industries and facilitate the private sector.
We have heard the complaints over and over again from, such as, those in the mining industry. It is simply a fact. Social programs and fancy buildings are important to our quality of life, we will not deny that. But we should have concentrated on developing our private sector because it, not government, creates wealth. And as the private sector industry developed, we would be better able to afford social programs and the fancy buildings.
Mr. Speaker, the economy is not good. The external forces that cause the economic upturn are changing. The dollar has risen dramatically in value against the American dollar, making our minerals less valuable on the foreign market, and our tourism tours less attractive to foreigners, especially Americans, shopping for value.
Our government has grown in leaps and bounds and built projects that require even more money to operate and maintain. The huge injection of money that we receive from the federal government to develop our infrastructure and diversify the economy has been mismanaged and misspent.
Time is running out. This government is now negotiating for a new financial arrangement in Ottawa. The one we negotiated runs out in 1990. If negotiations do not go well, the economy will suffer drastically.
We have nothing on the horizon to take the place of government spending. It is a false economy. I hope we will all realize that fact and deal with that fact soon. The Speech from the Throne, Mr. Speaker, ignores these basic realities.
Mr. McLachlan: Before beginning, I would like to pay a fond farewell to the Minister of Renewable Resources, the Member for Watson Lake, on his departure from Cabinet in acceptance of another portfolio, although under somewhat questionable circumstances. At the same time, I would like to congratulate the Member for Klondike on his appointment as the new Minister of Renewable Resources and Tourism, despite his oft protestations that rural ministries were not for me. Perhaps we are beginning to see the relocation of the Department of Tourism to another area of the Yukon.
The Throne Speech is simply not believable in a great deal of the things it purports to do, to say and to be. The opening page proposes that this government will present a green paper on constitutional development during the current session. Ten months ago, we met at the historic opening of the Legislature in Dawson City and were told exactly the same thing would happen then, that a green paper on the constitutional development would be presented during that session. What happened? We are still waiting.
How can Yukoners believe what the Government Leader says when he puts back into the Throne Speech something he said he was going to do a year ago? No one will hold him up to task for admitting the work load was a little high that he simply did not get through it all and will try again. It is completely left out, glossed over and inserted the next time. Those are the sort of things that are not believable.
The Throne Speech also tells us that this government has created another 3,000 jobs in the territory since they came to power three and a half years ago. That is about 30 percent of the entire work force. The greatest private sector job creation was the reopening of the mine in Faro. That is about 500 jobs. I searched frantically last evening for the other 2,500. There are a few extra acting assistant deputy ministers, a couple of new executive assistants, a few speech writers kicking around in the woodwork somewhere. We are far short of 2,500. I think the writer should go back and have another look at the numbers. Somebody is double adding, and it is done to create the impression that they are doing a tremendous job creation in the territory.
The Minister responsible for housing has said he has done two things. He has increased accessibility and he has increased affordability. I have some exceptions to take with the second statement because, when the interest rates are going up, the building costs are going up. I have to question his arrival at the term increased affordability. I also believe that the government has, again, missed at least part of the argument in providing for expansion of home ownership problem, which I do not have a problem with, but has continued again to ignore one part of the housing industry in the territory that is going wanting, and that is the rental market. The initiatives we saw last spring were targeted toward home ownership. I still maintain, and will until I see a change, that this government is ignoring one part of the industry in favour of others.
The Throne Speech also tells us that the actions of this government will be taken in good spirit with full consultation, good planning and careful spending. Mr. Speaker, I would not want you to tell the residents in your riding in Ross River that part of the speech as they look at the great white elephant of the arena and wonder about what planning, what consultation, and more like reckless spending.
The government has developed a long and carefully-monitored program of social spending. We have been told that that will be the accent in the final year. The Government Leader is coming late with that idea. I do not have a problem with it when the economy is carrying on in good proportions, but simply when some of the foundations of the territory are beginning to crack and crumble, it is not the time to increase a lot of the social spending concerns. In the final year of the mandate, can we really believe that is the proper direction, when some of the funding is beginning to show cracks in the showcase? I believe they should think more carefully about priorities.
The Throne Speech has a great deal of promises about day care. Again, I have to believe that until shown differently, it is a case of smoke and no fire. We have heard about the consultations and know about the problems. We have heard about the research, the tasks, the reconsultations and consultants. We still have no evidence of legislation that is going to deal with that problem. We will probably soon get six more reports to consider. We will believe it when we see it, but we have not received anything yet to believe that the government is prepared to act firmly in the area of the day care problems facing the territory.
The Minister of Education has made a number of statements believing that that situation is well in hand. The only problem with the Minister is that he has been working too long in the department and he is beginning to actually believe all the statistics and reports that cross his desk, and that nothing is really wrong in that field.
That is not the case at all. There are a number of schools that are still short on the teacher rolls. There are still not enough to around, by Minister budget controls, mainly, to handle all the workload. There is a problem in my riding. The magic formula designed to staff the schools does not take care of a large swing in in-and-out migration. Some of the schools in your riding and the capitol city may suffer only two or three changes in a year. We can suffer that in a year or a day. The formula will not handle that.
The Minister says we are doing well because the ratios are down. In many cases, the split-grade combinations are up. That is probably one of the most challenging things facing a teacher - trying to deal with 33 or 34 in a double, triple or quadruple grade.
Some areas of the territory are getting new schools. The one in Faro is crumbling, or at least the new addition is. That space is badly needed, but it has taken four years for this government to come to a decision. The Ministers of Government Services and Education have fumbled the ball. We do not have enough room in the school in Faro.
On the positive side of education, I do look forward to continuing programs at the college. The base is there for expansion. There are a number of areas that we can proceed on. One of the things that has never been clearly identified by the Department of Education is whether the specialized programs that are offered by this department and this college will be channeled to others in other parts of the north. Will students come from the Northwest Territories and Northern B.C. to take part in our programs? If they do, will it be by accident or will a concentrated effort be made by this department to market this aspect of our advantage as an industry.
Turning to health care, again, the same Minister responsible for day care has said she is continuing to negotiate with the federal government for the transfer. That is beginning to sound like a broken record. It is like a car stuck in the sand. They are negotiating but there is no forward momentum. Nothing is happening. The drive wheels are not going anywhere.
Finally, we are beginning to get some indication that a movement on funding for services related to the movement of people to Whitehorse from rural areas for medical travel will be forthcoming. That is welcome, but it also is late in coming since a motion was passed in this Legislature two years ago.
The Department of Community and Transportation Services is going to now provide more funding support for the jaws of life. This has been called for in the riding of Mr. Speaker and my own riding because of the heavy highway traffic. I will wait for the final efforts. I hope they will follow through with more ambulances and fire trucks to replace at least some of the ones that are 18 and 19 years old.
The injection of cash money into the territory through a land claims settlement, I believe, will no doubt have a good effect on the territory. Native people normally keep that money in the territory. They do not buy a ranch in Kelowna or a condominium in Hawaii. The cautionary note I would like to throw out is that because of the amount of money comes over only a 15 year period I have some reservations about how the money will be spent and investment opportunities for the native bands in some areas. I believe the college could offer courses or some help to the native peoples in the way or the things they should be looking at for the spending of that money. If it goes wrongly there is not any more; this is it. It has to be spent properly and it has to be looked after.
The Government Leader has made a lot out of the Fuel Price Inquiry, much the same as he did over the Food Price Inquiry in 1981 and 1982. I am extremely curious to see how he intends to implement those plans without treading on the feet of private industry, if that is even a consideration.
In the metal mining industry, only the very obvious good points have been referred to in the Throne Speech. The convenient parts have been mentioned where the help was given. No mention was made of the closing of Mount Skukum in August. It was not redrafted over the weekend for what happened in Elsa last Friday. No mention was made of the final closure of the Erickson Mine just south of the Yukon border, where a lot of the spending effect was felt in Watson Lake. We know that the Canamax Mine at Ketza River has had some problems and is struggling to find sufficient cash flow to pay its bills and indebtedness.
The Minister referred earlier today to what is being done now to help. One has to wonder where everybody was from the first week of November until the first week in January. The previous government developed a model that was designed to follow particular price trends and effects that downturns in the economy would have in the overall economy of the territory. The Department of Energy and Mines monitors prices. It is done on a regular basis for the price of silver. The Department of Statistics also does the same. Where were these two departments in the last two months? Where were the two particular ministers who were responsible for those areas? Planning a Christmas party? We cannot believe that it happened all of a sudden as we were led to believe in last Fridays announcements.
The Minister of Economic Development has been quoted in the newspapers as saying that the mill at Watson Lake was to be a sparkling example of forestry pioneering in the Yukon. Considerable government funding has already been put into that and more may be dedicated to it yet.
Initially, there was to be more private sector involvement than we have seen. What happened? There have some problems with the staffing. There has been a shortage of qualified help. There has been some labour management problems. An efficient logging plan has yet to be totally developed. Now the government leader seems intent on bailing out. But at what cost? What write-down will this government take? What job protection will the employees of Hyland Forest Products be guaranteed in the event of a change of ownership?
It would appear that the Hyland Forest Products mill at Watson Lake has been designed to handle a large forest industry, and the rest of the factors simply arent there to go with it.
Mr. Speaker, the final pages of the Speech from the Throne have been dedicated, in a large part, to the environment. I do not think that many members of this Legislature would think that is a bad idea, or would think that is the wrong approach. Its trendy. Its popular. But the problem at the moment, despite the Government Leaders protestations to the contrary, is that there are so many fingers in the environmental pie in the territory - Yukon Government, federal fisheries, fish and wildlife, water boards, mining acts, and soon, perhaps a level of native government - that until a comprehensive environmental resources plan is laid out about who can do what, the government loeader is only waving the flag in the final years of his mandate on this one. We must develop a base and a plan in order to efficiently convince people that he really has this concern at heart.
There are a number of problems. The drinking water in Carcross is certainly not the best. If any area should be targeted with water and sewer improvements, that is one.
Government has spent large sums of money on an edifice like the Yukon College at $50 million dollars. Now it is time to spend some more money, but in larger amounts, on those things that affect the health and welfare of our citizens.
There are a number of problems that the Minister of Community Services is beginning to have, and he will continue to have more, with municipal dump sites in the territory. We are suffering from the NIMBY syndrome right now, not in my backyard. If this government is truly committed to environmental concerns, this is one that will be addressed, but sooner rather than later. Some of the dump locations are not very secure. There certainly is not an entory of what went into them. What management plan will this government develop for cleaning up the old ones and constructing new ones? There is only a lot of speculation about that now.
The government leader has also said that he will introduce forestry legislation. I am curious to see how he would do this, because we yet do not have responsibility for forestry. Again it may be flag waving, flag waving in the wind. I believe that the government does not give enough attention to the small sawmill operators in this territory. A lot of the emphasis -d we know a lot of the money -s been put into the one operation in Watson Lake. However, the smaller operators, who are quite good small business operators, havebeen able to carry on and supply some of the territorys needs.
They just have not been considered to the same extent. A lot of the material in this document delivered yesterday has not been well enough outlined. No doubt, the Minister is using it for his own election call purposes.
In closing, I would like to point out some of the similarities in the way I started. The document that we had before us yesterday is really a false bill of goods. The weigh bill simply does not reflect, in reality, what it is supposed to be. What is delivered is not what is really there.
People usually get into trouble over that approach. One Minister has already left. Perhaps another one should go away to some hard labour on a farm somewhere. I find that I cannot support the glossy efforts that are outlined in this document. It simply does not tell the whole story. It simply does not tell us what we should be told, and it does not reflect the true economic picture in the territory today.
Mr. Joe: I want to thank all hon. Members for the opportunity to address this House today.
I would like to start my speech by thanking all those involved in the Yukon Indian land claim negotiations for the past 15 years: the land claims staff of the 13 Yukon Indian bands, the territorial and federal governments, the chiefs who stood up for what they thought was best for their people, the New Democrat government and the Indian Affairs Minister, and all the individuals who worked hard to achieve a framework agreement on November 8, 1988.
It is not over yet. We must continue to work hard for a land claims settlement that will benefit all Yukoners.
This New Democrat government has done a lot for Yukoners in the past four years. We have seen, for the first time, a government that consults with people on a consistent basis: Yukoners like that. Indian people feel that their voices are being heard, that we are being treated equally. I remember my days as a chief of the Selkirk Indian Band and the frustrations of dealing with the Conservative government. You just got the feeling they did not want to listen to what we had to say.
This government has responded to the needs of Yukon people like no other. Social assistance rates were increased, provided better child care support and training for day care workers, has increased its help for victims of family violence, provided better training through Yukon College, supported tribal justice in Old Crow and Teslin, increased support for native courtworkers, supported a successful pilot project on Indian child welfare, brought in the popular Home Ownership program, and given municipalities block funding that will give more local control of projects.
In future months, the New Democratic government will introduce an education act that was designed by Yukoners, increase support for single mothers who want to stay home with their pre-school children, initiate new special education programs and Indian child welfare agreements that will be made available to more bands, and an Indian teacher education program that will be added as a course in Yukon College. In cooperation with the federal government, the Yukon government will increase literacy programs, will provide communities with new emergency equipment, including fire trucks, ambulances and the jaws of life. April 1 will see new power rates come into effect. The result means the cost of electricity to the average residential consumer will drop. Also on April 1, a new simple to use Business Development Fund will be introduced that will require the use of a single application form for business loans, Special ARDA, renewable resource commercial development, venture capital, applied research and development, trade show assistance and support for economic organizations, and a Community Development Fund will be created to help communities meet job creation and long term economic development plans.
At a meeting in Carmacks on March 18, 1988, an economic development committee was formed made up of representatives from both the band and the municipality. Since that first meeting, a lot has been done. We are looking at creating long term jobs in the community. To date, we have discussed several projects, including the creation of a radio station, improving and enlarging rest stops, a satellite cable system, video rentals, doing an inventory of local forests to determine the use of timber resources in the area, fish hatcheries for stocking local lakes, considering ways that waste heat from the local coal mines could be used, and the creation of a heritage tourist stop in the community. We also talked about the possibility of hosting a rockhounding jamboree in the future, as there is a great deal of interest in this hobby. A human resources inventory of Carmacks residents was also done this past summer to serve as a guideline for future employment development and training opportunities for the community.
I would like to congratulate the people who were elected to municipal office in Carmacks on November 10. Luke Lacasse was re-elected to a second term as mayor, Char Barker, Heather Scanlon and Randy Taylor were also elected. The one vacant position on council will be filled tomorrow at a by-election in the community. Good luck to the person who will fill the remaining position.
On November 14, the Little Salmon/Carmacks Indian Band held their election for a chief and six councillors. It was good to see so many young people throw their hat into the ring for a councillor position. To those who did not get elected, I say keep trying in future elections. You are our future leaders and will have a lot to say in how your community is run.
Roddy Blackjack was re-elected to a second term as Chief of the Carmacks Indian Band. Also elected were Happy Skookum, Allen Skookum, Ed Skookum, Howard Charlie, Kevin Billy and Elder May Roberts to the six councillor positions. Special congratulations goes to Kevin Billy, who is a recent graduate from the school in Carmacks.
I am happy to say that the Fort Selkirk project that was run by the Selkirk Indian Band this past summer was successful. The project was run well and came in under budget. The Selkirk Indian Band has proven that an Indian band can take a project and run it well, and I would encourage the Yukon territorial government to give the same opportunities to other Yukon Indian bands. The Selkirk Indian Band appreciates the opportunity the New Democratic government gave them to manage their own projects.
The popular LEOP program the New Democratic government introduced has created a lot of jobs since it was started a few years ago. In the Tatchun riding this year, a total of $126,620 was approved for the Little Salmon/Carmacks Indian Band to construct a snowmobile trail to Claire Lake, for renovations to the Heritage Hall, winterizing the carpentry shop, and construction of an addition to the craft shop, creating ten jobs for 119 weeks.
Sixty-nine thousand four hundred dollars was approved for the Selkirk Indian Band for seven projects, which include construction of a trail and cabin, a wheelchair ramp for Welcome House, fencing a storage compound, outhouses for eight fish camps, park furnishings for a day use area at Pelly, clearing right-of-way in a new residential subdivision, and renovations for a suite in the basement of the Community Learning Centre.
In addition to the LEOP, Carmacks has benefited from almost $500,000 per year through block funding to the municipality of Carmacks, roads and highways in the area have been reconstructed, a day care was constructed to meet the needs of working parents, and an alcohol treatment centre was built at Airport Lake south of Carmacks. These are just some examples of what the New Democrat government has done for the Tatchun riding.
I would like to end my speech by wishing all the best to Dave Porter and Roger Kimmerly. I enjoyed working with them and learned a lot in my one and a half years as an MLA.
Mr. Brewster: It is with mixed feelings that I rise today to address the Speech from the Throne. I would like to begin by extending my best wishes to the previous Minister of Renewable Resources and Tourism, the MLA for Watson Lake. Although we sat on different sides of the political fence, and often had divergent views on the various issues that have come before us in this House, he was always an honourable man, and I consider him to be a friend. I make no secret of it: I will miss him.
At the same time, I want to extend my congratulations to the very new Minister, the MLA for Klondike, who I hold in high regard. However brief his role and political career will be, I am sure it will be brilliant, like the shooting stars that flash quickly across the sky and disappear into the night. I might add that if he tries to take Tourism to Dawson, we shall be flying across the sky.
I have this confidence in him, because he has been very well tutored. As chairman of the select committee on renewable resources, of which I was a member, we had many interesting discussions, and I believe we saw eye to eye on many renewable resource issues.
One of his first jobs in checking out his new office should be search out the select committee report. I am sure he will find it in the corner, somewhere under a stack of reports by outside experts. It will be one of the reports that was never opened and never read.
In listening to the Throne Speech, I was immediately struck by the fact of how out of touch the government is with reality. It was like listening to a fairy tale. Take one of the statements, The Yukons economy is healthy.
Nowhere in the speech was there any recognition that one of Yukons oldest mines, United Keno Hill Mines in Elsa, had closed, that Mount Skukum had closed, that Ketza has problems. Does it not matter, or is it deemed to be too shocking a reminder to speak about Elsa and the reality in keeping with the governments rose-coloured view of the Yukon? There is no recognition of the fact that one of the other major pillars of the Yukon economy, tourism, has suffered a 9.9 percent reduction. Instead the speech states that mining and tourism have become much healthier.
It is dangerous for a government to ignore economic realities. When this happens, it is Yukoners who must pay the price. Just ask the miners in Elsa. Ask the lodge owners along the Alaska Highway what happened. The speech talks about good planning. Where was the good planning in Elsa? Where was the contingency plan? Why is the planning only being done now in a crisis situation? The answer is very clear. The government is out of touch with both reality and the people. It talks to the people, but it does not listen to the people.
My honourable friend, the Minister of Community Affairs and Transportation Services, the MLA for Mayo, of all people, should not have been caught with his pants down on this one. But he was. He was caught because his eyes, like those of his Cabinet colleagues, were fixed firmly on the year 2000. The Throne Speech says much about planning that has already been done about Yukon 2000, which continues to serve us well as a solid guide to our future. The problems of today are of little importance when a government is embarked on such a noble enterprise.
Much has been made of the Yukon 2000 economic strategy, unfortunately too much. The government is starting to believe its own rhetoric. Effectively, Yukon 2000 is not a strategy at all, it is a statement of goals and objectives. Every government should have goals and objectives, but there are major pitfalls in pretending the process is more than it really is. In reality, Yukon 2000 was a major public relations exercise. I have nicknamed it The Days of Wine and Roses. The participants were wined and dined in various Yukon communities and the Government Leader handed out roses to his staff in gratitude. The process should have been called Yukon 2001 Economic.
To the government consternation however, Yukon 2000 was beaten out by another report by the 20/20 Vision Action Committee. It is an economic strategy and although pertaining mainly to Whitehorse has territorial wide implications. It is really too bad that the government did not have the 20/20 vision. The 20/20 report was done at a fraction of the cost of Yukon 2000. Moreover, it was done by Yukoners for Yukoners.
Yukon 2000, by way of contrast was based largely on research reports by outside consultants. These findings were then presented to Yukoners for their comments and the government then compiled a selective set of recommendations. Many groups were very disturbed with what happened to their recommendations and with the way they were finally interpreted. This government has said it consults with the people. Yukon 2000 is but one example. There have been inquiries, reviews, committees and panels all touring the communities, but there is very little evidence of that the government had listened. Some Yukoners have grown skeptical of the governments intention in this regard. I noticed in one of the local newspapers a letter to the editor in which a person pointed out that one of the co-chairpersons of the Justice Review Panel was a candidate for the government party in the Tatchun by-election. The other co-chairperson is now a candidate for their party in Porter Creek West. The chairperson of the Child Care Panel is now a candidate for their party in Whitehorse South Centre. These people may have been totally qualified to conduct these reviews, but some Yukoners are questioning whether the motive behind this consultation. Was an intent to listen to the people or to gain profile for the prospective candidates for the upcoming election?
I would have to agree with the hon. Member from Faro. Although the throne speech talks about mining and tourism as being healthy, I wonder if the government actually realizes what is happening, because the small communities have not benefited as much as Whitehorse has and they are still not much better off than they were four years ago.
Let me talk on tourism as Kluane was mentioned in the Throne Speech. I have a deep concern about how both the government and the CBC handled the flood situation on Kluane Lake. There appears to be absolutely no central control and no place to update information. The CBC was very quick to get the disaster on the national news but when everything was rectified nothing was put on the national news to tell everyone that everything was right. Nor, to my knowledge did the Department of Tourism do an advertising campaign in southern Canada and the United States to encourage tourists to reconsider their travel plans. In fact, I heard a representative of the Tourism Department say that he did not think it would hurt tourism. I have news for him. It not only hurt, but it will hurt for a number of years to come. You do not have to take my word for this, just ask the lodge owners along the highway. Many of them have been through this many times before.
I was also disappointed not to hear that a concentrated effort would be made between this government and the Government of Canada to fix the Alaska Highway. This is the major transportation corridor and it is simply a farce. To put it mildly, it is worse than wagon roads. With the centennial coming up, action must be taken immediately, not one or two years from now. The centennial will be a complete flop unless they do something with this wagon road that they call the Alaska Highway.
In closing on the topic of tourism, I would like to point out, as I did a year ago that some of the poor attitudes and poor advertisement done by the Tourism Department are simply not giving the tourists the value for their dollar.
I have ahere a 1989 Official State Vacationers Plan for Alaska. On page 11 the Alaska Government put in a complete map with all our roads included right up to Inuvik, the Campbell Highway and everything. Then, you turn to page 29 and see that the Alaskans do not miss one of our roads in the Yukon; that is courtesy. Then, you go to a big double page ad for the Yukon - the Yukon always goes big - and what do we have? We have one road that goes straight right through - I think it comes in at Watson Lake but they do not mention Watson Lake because they work in Whitehorse. Whitehorse did get mentioned though. I am not sure if they went through the Klondike or Haines Junction but it looks to me that they split it in the middle so there will not be an argument between the Minister and me. Then, where does it go? It goes to Fairbanks. That is an idea of who is on the ball and who is not. This is a double page ad and the Alaskans had the courtesy of putting ours in complete with all the roads and paying for it. That is an example of what goes on in the Tourism Department. It is absolutely ridiculous and we pay good money.
The Throne Speech admits that the Yukon must be a destination stop, not just a place to pass through, like 78 percent of the people are doing at the present time. It also honors the Kluane area by mention: Kluane. The last time we had the picture of the sheep and this time we get our name mentioned. Kluane is really doing good. If they were so sincere, why did they not even put a public brief in for the Kluane Management Committee when it was here in November or December? I did not hear from them. Maybe they put a private one quietly in the back so they would not have to deal with pressure from outlying outfiters or conservationists or a few people who would try to shoot them down. They are really interested in Kluane and helping it. If you remember our motion in Hansard, the statements made by the former Minister of Renewable Resources and Tourism are right to the fact. He had a grasp on it. Why it did not go any further I do not know.
Let us turn to fishing, on page 2 of the Throne Speech. It says: negotiating the transfer of responsibility for fisheries, forestry, land and resources. What is new? That has been going on since I came into this country. That is only 38 years ago. There is nothing new there.
As for the transfer of fisheries, the hon. Howard Tracey started that and I defy anyone on that side of the House to say that he did not. I put two motions forward to the House that were both passed and all of a sudden this is news? A big new government and a big new program. Those fish are all going to be dead before we get straightened around on this thing.
My honorable colleague from Whitehorse Riverdale North put in the fishery hatchery one, he put a motion in and passed it and now the government doesnt do it. About all I can say on that part of the Throne Speech, is that it is very good that they are using the PC Yukon motions to run the government. If they move enough of them, they will make a good government.
I would like to go on to one more, the livestock control situation. I am not going to say much about it. I think I said what I should have said the last time. I was very, very skeptical. I voted for it because I realized horses and stock have to get off the road. I was very scared and if you look back in Hansard, I said when the administration gets it, bingo, we are going to have a great blow-up and everybody is going to be mad and things, instead of using your sense and give them some land and then give them a year, the Honorable Minister of Renewable Resources agreed with me on that one. I said a year, he would give them two years. But no, the Department of Community and Transportation Services came along and on December 1 said you go put your fencepost in. You havent got any land to put it on anyway, but you are going to get your horses off the road.
I am not going to say any more about that, but I am going to read parts of a letter from a very fine gentleman, very intelligent, and a man who has worked very, hard for both the native people and the white people. He is an asset to the community, and these are a few things he has to say: The Government of Yukon have passed land laws banning livestock off the highway right of way knowing that this will create a hardship for livestock owners that have no land. The Government of Yukon knew that land issues and applications for grazing leases were under application, but went ahead and passed the laws, thereby catching livestock owners in the middle without trying to help find a long-term solution. You may have lessened the political pressures, but you have created hardship for the common people. There should be a delay until some immediate adjustment is made, pertaining to land availability for grazing. Grazing applications are in, but the bureaucracy is at its usual slow pace. Penalties should not be imposed on livestock owners that have no grazing leases until all people have a charter for grazing lease. The price of livestock feed in the Yukon is very high. This law forces people with no pasture land to feed the animals in a confined area, thereby creating a huge financial burden. It is also an unhealthy situation for livestock, which may create a problem with the SPCA.
This gentleman knows what he is talking about. Its no good me saying it, because they do not think I know what I am talking about, but this gentleman does; We agree that livestock should not be on the highway right of way, because it is a danger, but give us some place to put them and make some allowances before imposing these heavy penalties on us. But there is no solution to this problem. Some livestock owners in the Canyon Creek area are considering selling or dispensing with their livestock because they cannot afford the cost. Livestock owners may be a minority, but it is still a way of life for us.
Some livestock, cattle, particularly, have already left the Yukon, for the very simple reason that it does not work. If you have no land, you cannot fence. It is absolute stupidity. And I might just forewarn the new Minister of Tourism and possibly the Minister of Community and Transportation Services that there will be, in Question Period, some very serious questions about what went on up in the Haines Junction area.
I was very disappointed not to see in the Throne Speech any mention of the falcon case. As you recall, we put through a motion December 9, 1987; we compromised and made an amendment that if the federal government did not move on it, we would. This is a matter that has got to be settled, but maybe it is like all the other motions we put through, if they do not think they can get some popular vote by stealing our motions in, they throw them in the wastepaper basket.
In closing, about all I can say about the Throne Speech is its the last time that the Government Leader will be able to save Faro; I am sure that he will not be able to run on this one any more. And I am really concerned that he has given up on the economy, now that he is going into social things. I presume that could not handle economy, so he is bailing out onto something else.
All I can say, in closing, is that the verdict will be in very shortly, and it will not be long before the jury in the Yukon will decide what this government has and has not done. Thank you.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Before I begin formally responding to the Throne Speech this afternoon, I would like to do a few things and begin by paying tribute, like the other Members in the Assembly, to a much admired, much appreciated colleague, the Member for Watson Lake, who lasted out a term as Member for Campbell - your riding, Mr. Speaker - and served his constituents at all times very well, and provided a necessary view to the Legislature, which was much appreciated.
The Throne Speech responses this afternoon have been interesting to listen to. I have enjoyed some of the comments made by some of the representatives on both sides of the House. I found the criticism that has been leveled by some Members in the Opposition bordered on a high level of hypocrisy, and I will deal with that in the fullness of time.
I had planned to respond initially by discussing the Leader of the Official Oppositions speech and, perhaps, responding in part to his comments on the framework agreement for land claims, but was surprised to hear no mention whatsoever on the land claims agreement. It is probably the most important initiative in the history of the territory for Indian people, and to say that I am surprised at not hearing anything whatsoever coming from the Leader of the Official Opposition - a person who pretends to want to become Government Leader in this Legislature one day - is no less than shocking.
The speeches by the opposition leaders were fascinating, and I will deal with some of the points in my main remarks. I did anticipate some of the criticism. They did a good service of announcing in advance some of their themes for this session. I was particularly taken by the remarks made by the Leader of the Official Opposition with respect to the environment and his active support of this governments interest in resolving environmental questions around the territory. At the same time, he had called them belated and seemed to be, in some respects, upset that the government was responding, as it is now and has in the last three years, in a way that does not really meet his expectations.
What does the Leader of the Official Opposition say about the environment? He says that he has water and sewer problems in Carcross that must be addressed immediately and, yet, one of the first acts of the Conservative government prior to the last election, for which he was responsible, changed a major expenditure in Carcross from water and sewer work to pavement of streets. This does not, in my view, denote a strong, firm and solid commitment, or even an understanding of the needs of that community, or other communities, with respect to the handling of wastes, whether they be domestic wastes or other wastes. What does the Leader of the Official Opposition suggest? He suggested the proper approach to handling garbage and waste in the Hootalinqua area is to transfer it someplace else.
I do not often criticize people for being gutless and irresponsible, but this has to be the epitome of gutless irresponsibility.
This is NIMBY gone wild. The O&M associated with transfer stations alone are significant. The Leader of the Official Opposition suggests this is the only method that he would like to see taken to handle solid wastes in the riding of Hootalinqua. It is absolutely shameful. Given the Members own record with respect to water and sewer works in Carcross, given the previous governments record with respect to handling wastes around the territory, and with respect to their handling of toxic wastes, it is the height of hypocrisy to hear one word come from the Opposition.
The Member for Porter Creek West is suggesting in an article that the NDP is hiding from the PCB storage question. Did I hear one word about PCB storage in the period from 1982 until 1985 in this Legislature? Not a word. Did we hear anything about the handling of toxic wastes? Not a word. Did we hear anything about the sewage disposal in Carcross? Not a word. Did we hear anything about the sewage disposal in the Hootalinqua area? Nothing.
The Conservative government of the day had absolutely no interest in any of these questions, and it is the height of hypocrisy for them to even mention it now in the terms that they have brought it to this Legislature.
What does the Member for Porter Creek West suggest? If we have toxic waste in the Yukon, we can give it to Alaska! For the Member for Hootalinqua, it is not in my backyard. The Member for Porter Creek West takes it all the way and says we should export our wastes - free trade!
It is something I am sure we will have to pursue much more thoroughly in this session. I find the remarks made in the discussion this afternoon totally unrealistic and completely lacking in any kind of commitment whatsoever.
The Member for Hootalinqua talked at some great length about his version of the Yukon economy. It is a bit of a boom and gloom version. The economy is all false and, at the same time, it is overheating and much too active. He blames all the bad things that are happening on the government and all the things that are good are really the result of some foreign force. This is the theme they have pursued in the past, such as metal prices increasing to justify the opening of the Curragh Mine. He makes the explicit statement that metal prices alone opened the Curragh Mine. We will probably all agree on one element - that the Member for Faro was not an element in the reopening scenario, because he was on holidays.
The point is the view of the Opposition, in responding to the state of the Yukon economy, is grossly simplistic and quite unwarranted.
The Member for Hootalinqua talks about government growth and too much in the way of social programs, yet he lauds the governments efforts with respect to more education spending. At least, I think he did. Certainly, the Member for Faro did, and he asked for more. The Member for Hootalinqua said there was very little in the way of infrastructure that had been part of the governments action plan with respect to the improving of the Yukon economy and, yet, Capital Budgets are almost totally dedicated to infrastructure development.
There were a number of remarks made by the Member for Faro that I would prefer to deal with at some length later on in the session. There are a couple of things I think it is important to mention.
The Member made an important remark when he said that the education system in the territory requires effort, care and understanding to show the real kinds of improvements that Yukoners expect. In that one element, we certainly agree.
He misinterprets anything that I have ever said that suggests there are no problems whatsoever with the education system. I recognize there are many good things about the education system and there are many things to do. Certainly this government, not only through the actions taken up until now through this Legislature but, also, through the actions to be taken have shown that it has a commitment in this particular field.
I am a little more skeptical on the Member for Faros suggestion that the college should run courses on how Indians should spend land claims money, but perhaps the Member can elaborate on that suggestion later.
This is an important time in the Yukons history. Not only has the land claims framework agreement been negotiated and agreed to by negotiators for the three parties, a historic agreement and an agreement for the future development of Yukon Indian people and all people of the territory, not only has the Yukon economy turned a corner to a more stable and more broadly based economic framework, but it is also important because this is an historic time. This will be a chance in the coming year to choose who will provide the leadership in this territory.
It is also a sad time for me, given the temporary closure of United Keno Hill Mines. This is my home town. It was the subject of my very first remarks in this Legislature, as the United Keno Hill Mines temporarily ceased operations in 1982 shortly after the spring election. The remarks had the themes of unemployment, people being dislocated and having to leave town, and it was also a time of recovery, hope and of requirement for action. The times I remember in the Legislature, speaking to all Members of the House about the troubles that the community was experiencing, were times that probably stand out most in my mind in the last six and a half years.
There were differences between that time and now. There were also some useful similarities that can be drawn in comparison between that time and now. It is important to elaborate somewhat on these.
The differences that existed were probably largely as a result of differences in the technical decisions that precipitated the closure in 1982 versus the temporary closure in 1989. In 1982, the mine was experiencing severely low silver prices and, as well, a reduction in the known ore body. They had experienced some fairly high operating costs. Those elements, among others, helped to precipitate a closure of the mine.
Today, the situation is roughly similar, with the exception that the ore bodies are much richer than they were before, but the technical decision appears, at least on the surface, to be roughly equivalent. The big difference between then and now is the way the government responded to the closure of the United Keno Hill Mines. I can say no less than that I have been seething with anger at the comments made by the Member for Hootalinqua and the Member for Kluane about their claims that the government took a do-nothing approach to the closure of the United Keno Hill Mines.
I was seething with anger because the government of the day, when the mine closed in 1982, did absolutely nothing, not only to resurrect the mine, but to try to help the dislocated workers of that town. I was there, and I participated in those efforts that were made by the union and the company to assist the mine workers of that town.
In 1982, and this is a useful lesson for us all, the Conservative government of the day, with at least three Members on the Conservative side of the House present and participating, two as Ministers, took the position at the time that Elsa was closed and that it was time to cut and run. They looked on passively under identical circumstances to the mine as it was experiencing closure and dislocation and the agony of losing jobs, the agony of losing one of the major employers in the territory at the time. The Member for Hootalinquas remarks about the requirement for fast action are the most hypocritical remarks that anyone in this Legislature can ever make. Not only did the government at that time abandon the people in that community, but the Minister of Education of the day suggested as one of her first remarks that the school in Elsa was a candidate for closure, and only responded positively after extensive lobbying by people in the district to remind the government of the day that there was a community called Keno City, which also was served by the Elsa primary school, that there were other people residing in Elsa who could use, and were going to use, the Elsa primary school, and that it was premature and insensitive to suggest that the school should be closed.
That was the first formal response that sticks out in my mind about that governments response to a community and a mine in trouble. Did the government of the day think that there was anything the government should be doing to help the company? They did not even know what was going on in Elsa. Did the government of the day think there was anything that should be done to support the community infrastructure of that community? Not only did they not feel that, but what infrastructure they were providing they suggested to make it one of the candidates for closure. I remember standing in the House at budget time, the same year, and an innocuous question of the Minister of Transportation at that time - the Member for Porter Creek East today - asking him whether or not he would be prepared to give us the assurances that the road between Mayo and Keno City would remain open for the period of the temporary closure in Elsa, and I got no such assurances from that Member. I could not believe my ears.
Som Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member for Porter Creek East says, it stayed open, did it not? Well, due to the acute embarrassment the government faced after having shown so little commitment to that community, it had to keep the school and road open. What do you think the Member for the riding was doing? He was embarrassing the government.
After their record is drawn to the Members attention, the Member for Porter Creek East suggests that something might have been different in November. In November, this government had already been to Elsa, discussed their situation, and received optimistic assurances about the mines future and, when the mine laid off some workers, the government reacted within five days and had work in community projects underway in that community to help the dislocated workers. The Leader of the Official Opposition suggested in the paper this week that, at the first sign of trouble, the word from this government should be to cut back the budgets of the Mayo Dam and community works in that community. That would have been devastating. It would have sealed the future of that community, sealed its fate, would have closed it with certainty and it would have remained closed. That is the Conservative response to a mining community in trouble in this territory.
I will remind the Member for Hootalinqua and the Members of the Conservative Party that, in the riding of Mayo, there are a number of communities. Those communities have enjoyed hydro power for a number of years. It is important that, if those communities are to have any chance at economic recovery and growth, they continue to enjoy hydro power. Suggestions that the hydro dam project might have been or should have been canceled are irresponsible and potentially quite damaging to the future of that small mini economy within our territory.
The message to Yukon through actions and through words in recent times - actions when they were government and words when they were Opposition - is that, when things happen, you do not do anything; if you can cut and run, move it. The view they have of the territorial economy is short term to say the least. These long winded remarks about world metal prices and the value of a dollar and all those elements are all important factors, but what this Yukon Legislature has to deal with is what we can control. That is the difference between our understanding of the territorial economy and the Conservative understanding.
When the Government of Yukon made serious efforts to provide a cooperative planning process for the people of this territory, where people of all walks of life - people who had not even had contact while they were a resident of the territory - could get together and discuss the future of their territory, determine what they had within their control to change, and what they could to do provide more self determination for our community economies, that initiative was readily put aside as a wine and roses effort by the Member for Kluane and readily criticized for being unnecessary. The only reaction we got from the Conservative Opposition was wholly negative. We can only assume that that will not be the order of the day when and if they are ever allowed back on the government side of this House, and that the era of cooperation and consultation will be over.
One of the main criticisms the Leader of the Official Opposition has had has been that the economy is not broadly based.
The economy the New Democrats inherited three and a half years ago is now, with the snap of the finger, not broadly based and, therefore, is the mark of failure on the part of this government. Yet, what was the Conservative government of the day doing to broaden the economic base? They had a do nothing approach to the economy. The Member for Porter Creek East had an economic development department that had 19 vacancies. They were not doing anything. They took a do nothing approach to the economy, assuming that all actions, whether they be taken by the private sector outside the territory or anywhere, were somehow legitimate, and any actions that were taken by our community are somehow illegitimate - community together, communities of people speaking together, talking to each other, labour, Indian people, business - that is somehow illegitimate. That is not the proper way to run the economy. The proper way to run the economy is to do absolutely nothing. Then they have the hypocrisy to suggest that the government should have done something for the United Keno Hill Mines. It is outrageous.
The one thing that rings true more often than not is the Conservatives view, sometimes, that one has to have a realistic view of our community economy, of what we can do in order to perform well economically. The very pessimistic view that is evoked by both the Conservatives and the Liberals about our economy does no-one a service.
We have to ask ourselves a little bit more about the record of the Conservatives. We have to ask what the Conservatives did when Faro shut down. What the Conservatives did was suck wind for a number of years, and then allow us to inherit the problem. What did the Conservatives do when United Keno Hill shut down? Absolutely nothing. It was the passive approach. It was a new economic approach to dealing with economic crises. You do nothing and see what happens. Well, what happened was nothing happened, until United Keno Hill got itself back on its feet and, then, do you know what happened? In the Throne Speech in 1983, I believe, if my memory serves me correctly, when the economy was at its lowest point and the Conservative strategy of doing nothing did nothing, when United Keno Hill got itself back on its feet, United Keno Hill showed up on the first page of the Throne Speech as a major accomplishment by the Conservative government.
What did the Conservatives do when the Watson Lake forestry company was experiencing difficulty - a major industry in Watson Lake? Absolutely nothing. For some reason, they were getting the signal that the do nothing approach was working, and we were moving deeper and deeper into recession the whole time.
What has been the response to government issues to broaden the economic base of which there have been many: better road infrastructure, for example, for both arterial roads and resource roads. There has been next to silence about that. The Leader of the Official Opposition says there has been no work done on infrastructure and, yet, the Government of Yukon is cited in industry journals across the country as spending more money on road construction and on resource road construction than any other jurisdiction for the size of its budget. Yet, the Conservatives consider that to be either over spending or wasteful spending.
The hypocrisy of the Conservative approach is almost unbearable. What do the Conservatives say about lower power rates? Nothing. It is almost as if the initiative does not exist. Do you hear what they say about small business assistance and the numerous programs we have provided, and the integrated delivery? They have said nothing about that either.
What could possibly possess the Conservatives to say absolutely nothing about these important elements of infrastructure, which are essential to the economic development of this territory? I can tell you what possessed them to say nothing. That has been their approach all along: do nothing and, now, say nothing about the things that are important to the infrastructure of this territory.
What about efforts to encourage local purchase and local manufacture? It is entirely pessimistic, unproductive and negative. Not even the Chamber of Commerce is that negative. These people are trying to provide leadership and are being negative.
If you can blend the themes of the criticism provided by the Conservatives, one of the themes is that the Throne Speech says that nothing new is going to happen; it is all pat. If our record rings true, we can expect one of the fastest growing economies again anywhere next year, if we continue to do what we have been doing. We have every intention of continuing economic development initiatives that we have been pursuing, of continuing community development and resource sector development.
One of the things the Conservatives have been saying is that the territory is too dependent on government. This is in spite of the fact that the percentage of employment by the public sector has declined compared to the private sector. Yet, and it has come up time and time again, they constantly make mention of the fact that they have been the ones responsible for fighting for more money for this government to spend, securing more money for this government to spend on infrastructure and, then, in the same breath, criticizing high expenditures - not criticizing the expenditure for the school at Carcross, not criticizing the expenditure for Jeckell School, not criticizing LEOP funding. They say no, that government expenditure is wrong, ideologically wrong. We have the money, but we would not have spent it, because that would have been ideologically wrong, because the economy would have been too dependent on government.
We have been spending resources, creating policy, trying to broaden the economic base of our communities. We have been trying to make our communities more viable than ever before. We have been trying to do so in a manner that is responsible and expends money on infrastructure and keeps a limit of increased expenditure for O&M budgets. At the same time, we have been facing criticisms from the Conservatives, which suggest any kind of expenditure at all by government is some sort of evil, in and of itself. Certainly, any expenditures beyond what they were spending in their day is somehow evil. Yet, do I hear the Member for Hootalinqua criticizing the Carcross school addition? No, but I see the Member for Hootalinqua show up at the opening of the Carcross school. Do I hear the Member for Riverdale South criticize the Jeckell School expenditure publicly? She did privately, but did she do it publicly? No, but she showed up for the opening.
The Member for Riverdale South now says here that she criticized the expenditure of the Jeckell gym publicly.
She did not do it publicly. She may have done it privately, but maybe she is the only one who is prepared to criticize something that is so popular in her own riding, and I give her all kinds of credit for that.
These Conservatives over there continually take credit for the money that is provided to this territory because of their super relationship with the Conservative government in Ottawa. Yet, when it comes time to take credit for the massive expenditures that the federal government has been making on the Alaska Highway, they cringe at the prospect that they might be associated in any way with the federal Conservatives. When it comes to things that are important to our development, they cringe at the prospect that there may be some relationship. This is another element of the new kind of hypocrisy that is filtering into the Conservatives minds.
It is the most hypocritical approach that I have ever heard in this Legislature. The conservatives have been saying that the spending by the government is too high. It is refreshing to get a Liberal critic suggesting that the expenditures are too low in the high cost areas. It is the theme of the Conservatives that spending is too high, that some capital projects have come in over the budget that was presented in the Legislature and somehow suggesting that this is a brand new phenomenon to the territory, and that there was no such thing as a Porter Creek Junior High School cost overrun, and there was no such thing as a Dawson water and sewer overrun.
It is a theme that the Conservatives have been trying to pursue that somehow capital projects, which are anticipated to cost one thing, come in at cost overruns only because there is a New Democratic government. That is absolutely outrageous.
It is important that we remember some of the spending patterns of the previous government. Given that the capital budget is, admittedly, twice as much as it used to be, I can remember one year hearing about a tour where the Cabinet ministers of the day went waltzing around the territory with $10 million in their back pocket and all the hyenas in the territory yapping after the Cadillac that was driving them around. This $10 million, which would probably equate today to a $20 million slush fund, was spent by the Conservatives in a very short period of time because they simply had to get rid of it and they had to take a tour to find out how to spend it. They went around to the communities and they bestowed projects on the communities with the taxpayers own money.
Speaker: I would like to remind the Member that he has three minutes in which to conclude his remarks.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Speaker, it is really too bad, because I have so much more to say.
The Conservatives have been talking about overspending by departments. In 1981-1982, ten departments over spent almost $2 million. Next year, six departments over spent by $6 million. The next year, 15 departments over spent by over $7 million. In 1984-85, there was no overspending because they just worked in a ten percent contingency. Why worry about over spending, just work in a big slush fund and you will not overspend. The criticism provided by the member for Hootalinqua is outrageous and pathetic. They are the hypocrites of the century. They do not like history lessons but they sometimes engage in some of them themselves.
They do not like people to remember their hands off approach to economic affairs. They do not like people to remember their paternalistic approach, their born to rule approach, where everybody gets a Conservative party card. They do not what anybody to remember that they did not consult. They liked to dictate, consulting you once every four years at the polling booth. I remember coming in this Legislature to tell this house that the Conservative members in my riding were complaining they were being overworked.
They are still here, and there is a history lesson we must learn.
I am hoping that there is much more time to say what we have to say. The past few years have seen a government that has never been more active in supporting Yukon peoples aspirations, and an administration that will change the character of the government to better reflect local decision making, real ongoing consultation, cooperation among all sectors of our community, because this government respects the public it serves. We have an economy that is booming, and one that continues to need our faith and support, not the pessimism and negativism of the Conservation Opposition.
There are 3,000 new jobs. There is improved infrastructure, and the economy is more broadly based.
This government is in a significant surplus situation, and that is the legacy we will be taking into the coming year.
Mr. Nordling: I wish to congratulate the Member for Klondike on his appointment of Minister of Tourism and Renewable Resources. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the former Minister, Mr. Porter, for his service to Yukoners over the past six and a half years, through his work as a Member of this Legislature.
I see that my comment in todays newspaper hit a sore spot with the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, and I will be pleased to talk about PCBs and toxic wastes tomorrow when I continue my reply to the Speech from the Throne. I hope to answer a few of his other concerns.
I move that debate do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Whitehorse Porter Creek West that debate do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 4:56 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled January 10, 1989:
Auditor General of Canada, report on examination of accounts and financial statements of Government of Yukon for year ended March 31, 1988 (Speaker-Johnston)
Auditor General of Canada report on other matters for year ended March 31, 1988 (Speaker-Johnston)
Copy of Resolution to amend Constitution of Canada adopted by Senate on April 21, 1988 (Speaker-Johnston)
Clerk, report re deductions from indemnities of Members (Speaker-Johnston)
Public Accounts of the Government of Yukon, 1987/88 (Penikett)
Yukon Petroleum Fuel Pricing Inquiry Report - September, 1988 (Penikett)
Yukon Energy Corporation 1989/90 General Rate Application (Penikett
Yukon Workers Compensation Board 1987 Annual Report (Kimmerly)
Yukon Liquor Corporation, 11th Annual Report, April 1, 1987, to March 31, 1988 (Kimmerly)
Yukon Liquor Corporation, Auditor General of Canada report on examination of accounts and financial statements (Kimmerly)
Workers Compensation Board, Auditor General of Canada report of examination of accounts and financial statements of Compensation Fund (Kimmerly)
Yukon Medical Council annual report for year ending July 31, 1988 (Kimmerly)
Department of Justice Biennial Report, 1986-87, 1987-88 (Kimmerly)
Local Employment Opportunities Program 1987/88 Report (McDonald)
Motor Transport Board, Annual Report 1987-88 (McDonald)
Yukon Lottery Commission - Lotteries Yukon Annual Report 1987/88 (McDonald)
Health and Human Resources Annual Report for the Year Ended March 31, 1988 (M. Joe)
We Care - Yukoners Talk about Child care (M. Joe)