Thursday, March 31, 1989 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
We will proceed at this time with Prayers.
Speaker: We will now turn to the Order Paper.
Are there any Introduction of Visitors?
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is my very great pleasure to introduce to the Legislature this afternoon the Grade 12 students from JV Clark School in Mayo: Ginny Bergman, Gabor Horvath, Ryan Cooper, Adam Mease, Dave Franke; and students from the Mayo Community Campus: Hilda Clark, Nancy Brown, Caroline Blanchard, Norma-Jean Germaine, Pauline Germaine, Trisha Martin, Marg Melnychuk, Jamie Aird. They are here with their instructors Stephanie Hind and Janice Salkeld.
Speaker: Are there any Returns of Documents for Tabling?
TABLING OF DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have for tabling three Legislative Returns.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills?
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: School, South Alaska Highway
Mr. Phelps: I have a question for the Minister of Education on behalf of parents on the Carcross Road/South Alaska Highway and south Whitehorse areas.
As we know, these parents have been working very hard to convince the government that there is an urgent need for a school in the area. They are upset by the remarks or threats made in this Legislature on March 15, 1989 by the Minister that monies spent on improving sewage treatment in Whitehorse would be at the expense of a school for the south highway children. Can the Minister explain what he meant by his remarks of March 15, 1989 on page 69 of Hansard?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member has clearly misrepresented the remarks I made. The debate was respecting the Whitehorse sewage treatment plant and possible funding by the Yukon government for such a plan. The remark I made was that when projects of such a magnitude are introduced into the capital program of the government, then other worthwhile projects like a school in the area south of Whitehorse area may be jeopardized. They may be shelved while we meet new priorities.
We are talking about priorities in the nature of many millions of dollars, such as the proper sewage treatment plan. It clearly has a tremendous impact on the capital budget of this territory.
It is not true that it applies to this particular project, but I did mention it because I knew that the issue would be known to the Member. I did mention that a worthwhile project, such as that school, might be in jeopardy.
Mr. Phelps: It certainly is ironic that the written-off losses of $6 million plus on Hyland Forest Products would be more than enough to pay for the school.
Will the Minister consider down sizing the Granger School so a school may also be built in the Mary Lake/Carcross Corner area for the kids who are being bused so inconveniently and at such hardship to themselves?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am well aware of the reasons why parents in the area south of Whitehorse would like to have a school in that district. That is the reason why there is a joint survey currently underway to review the actual needs of parents in the area. It would be premature to step down or to change in any way the current capital project plan for public schools construction. There will be ample time to review the needs for a school in the south Whitehorse area and also the total capital program for major construction in Whitehorse to determine appropriate priorities.
Mr. Phelps: Can the Minister explain how the decision to build the next elementary school in Granger was arrived at?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There was an analysis done in 1986 by Boreal Engineering, sponsored by the Department of Education and the Education Council, to review the facility requirements for Whitehorse. There was also a study done subsequently to review the facility requirements for the territory generally outside of Whitehorse. Those reports were brought before the school committees and the Education Council. Susequently, the Education Council and the department jointly put out a press release that recommended the priorities for capital construction and identified a school in Granger as being the highest priority in the City of Whitehorse.
Question re: School, South Alaska Highway
Mr. Phelps: Are copies of the analysis done by or on behalf of the council available - things such as the definition alternatives and so on?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: To my knowledge, they are available. I can check on what analysis was done after the consulting reports were taken. I know that the Education Council, along with the City of Whitehorse and the department, did review the recommendations and came to those conclusions. If there is anything that is not in the public domain currently that could be made public, I will undertake to make it public and pass a copy to the Member.
Mr. Phelps: How many children will be accommodated by the proposed Granger school?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The proposed Granger school was meant to accommodate approximately 300 children in an elementary school.
Mr. Phelps: Can the Minister let us know how the number of 300 children was arrived at? If he does not know this, perhaps he can provide me with this information.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I appreciate the notice. There was an analysis done by the department, and I will be able to provide that analysis to the Member.
Question re: School, Whitehorse junior high
Mrs. Firth: I would like to follow up on some questions with the Minister of Education regarding the analysis that was done. Can the Minister tell us the plan? When and where will this school be built? I am asking specifically about another junior high school in the City of Whitehorse.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: If the Member is referring to the construction plans for a junior high school, there have been a number of school committees in the Whitehorse area that have, given the overcrowding in at least one junior high, recommended that the Granger school be expanded to either a junior high school level or that there be a junior high school built as well. I did indicate to the Porter Creek Junior High School Committee last fall that consideration would be given to the expansion of the school to a junior high, depending on student population projections. At this point, I have not received what these might be from the department or what the population pressures might be that would justify the expansion of the schools function to junior high. That has not been delivered to me, so no decision, as yet, has been made on that.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell us when he expects to have a decision made regarding this issue? There is a great deal of concern about the junior high school facilities here in Whitehorse. When are we going to have the final decision as to whether there is going to be an expansion or another school in Granger for junior high.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It will certainly be, probably, by the summer, largely because the planning stage for a facility in Whitehorse is scheduled to be completed this year, so the construction can begin next year. Members will remember that there are funds for detailed blue print designs this year for a facility in Whitehorse and I would hope that, certainly the sooner the better, but by summer time, a final decision on the final program function can be distributed before too long.
Mrs. Firth: It has also been brought to our attention that there is a great deal of concern about Takhini Elementary School being closed down. Can the Minister tell us if that is going to happen and when?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am not aware of the analysis as yet. I heard yesterday that the report had been given to the Department of Education, that should there be a need to do substantial renovations to the Takhini School, those renovations could not be done over the course of one summer. I have not verified that. I have not done any analysis of that and I am not at this time able to confirm or deny in any way the allegation that the school would have to be closed down. I do not know much more than that.
Question re: Ross River arena
Mr. Lang: I have a question for the Minister in charge of Government Services and Community and Transportation Services. It has to do with the infamous blue thing being built in the fair community of Ross River. It is called the arena, and to refresh our Members memory, the initial projections for the cost of that facility to the taxpayers of Yukon was going to be $500,000. Now, reported figures are as high as $2.5 million and probably closer to $3 million, if the project is ever completed.
In the article of March 20, 1989 in the Whitehorse Star it was reported that the next phase for bids had been opened and the lowest tender to carry on with some other phase of the arena was $963,000. Could the Minister report to this House whether or not the contract was awarded?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The contract has not yet been awarded. It is currently under review because it exceeded the budget allocation.
Mr. Lang: I think it is safe to say that the whole project has well exceeded anybodys imagination of how it could go so high, as far as budget allocations are concerned. I guess my question to the Minister is. When is a decision going to be made in respect to whether or not this contract is going to be awarded?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The decision will be made shortly. Currently the review taking place involves a review of the fire requirements for the facility and I understand that as late as this week an inspection team has reviewed the needs for the fire requirements in an effort to pare down the costs, and I am awaiting the final result of that particular review.
I should point out to the Member that the facility in its original conception has grown to a public use for the community, that beyond being just a community arena it has become a community centre, as well as a community campus facility, not to mention a library facility. It has become a multi-use facility.
Mr. Lang: Nobody is going to argue with the Minister that the project has grown in many many ways. My question to the Minister is that my understanding is that the electrical system put into the arena presently can only be turned on by one switch.
Is it true that a good part of the electrical system that had been put in is going to have to be revised? If so, at what cost?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not aware of the matter the Member brings forward. I will immediately investigate and advise him further.
Question re: Ross River arena
Mr. Lang: No matter who the Minister is, the answer from that side is consistent: We do not know and will take notice. This is the project the Government Leader was going to get a handle on back in 1987.
Could the Minister tell this House why the government went ahead and built an ice hockey arena without building doors in it large enough to hold a Zamboni?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member suggests that answers are consistent from this side in not providing information. It is the Member opposite who talked about mirrors on fire trucks that cannot fit through doors, and when I take it upon myself to check on that, it proves to be false. I tabled the answer to that question yesterday.
I also take the question the Member has just raised under notice. I will report in detail to him on the Ross River arena.
Mr. Lang: I have a further question directed to the Government Leader with respect to the Ross River arena. As the Government Leader knows, the project grew from an estimated $500,000 to almost $3 million or more by the time it was finished.
On September 29, 1987, when the project was only $1.5 million, the Government Leader met with the people of Ross River ...
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question?
Mr. Lang: I have a new question, Mr. Speaker.
Question re: Ross River arena
Mr. Lang: When the Government Leader was at the public meeting in Ross River on September 29, 1987, he listened with shock and amazement to the representations made to him by the people of that community with respect to what had taken place. He assured them that he, personally, would become involved in looking into this project to ensure it was revised to meet some of the communitys aims, and to also look at the financial mismanagement to see what could be done to straighten it out.
In view of that commitment, why did the Minister not get personally involved and get a handle on the obvious mismanagement that has taken place with respect to this project?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Once again, the Member managed to bootleg several accusations, some of them, I believe he knows are false, into what he purports to be a question. I did not listen with shock and amazement. I looked with wonder and befuddlement at the building before I ever went to a public meeting. The design was contrary to what I thought the directions were that we had given as Cabinet. It was that that caused me to make my original comment in respect to the lack of local material and local labour content.
The Member asserts that I was making an accusation of financial mismanagement. The Member, who pays careful attention to all the debates here, will know we have debated that several times and not made a case for financial mismanagement at all. The Member knows that, as a result of my visit there and the Ministers visit there, a proper post-project evaluation of the job is being done and it will no doubt be reported to the Public Accounts Committee.
Mr. Lang: The Minister, as usual, has not answered the question. The Government Leader is responsible for the public purse and the judicious allocation of those dollars. My question to the Government Leader is. Has he undertaken to look into this particular project and does he have a handle on the financial side of this project along with his colleague, the previous Minister of Community and Transportation? Can the Minister explain to this House why he has allowed this project to grow from $500,000 at its initial conception to in the neighborhood of $3,000,000?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Let me firstly deal with the charge that I did not answer the question. I not only answered the several questions contained in the previous question, but one or two of the allegations as well.
Again, let me repeat for the Member, since he was not listening, that following our visit to the community, the questions that we asked about the management of that particular capital project led to a post-project evaluation being commissioned. As I have already indicated, that will no doubt be reported to the Public Accounts Committee as part of its ongoing interest in this matter.
The second question that he asked in the supplementary was about how we allowed the project to grow. The fact of the matter is that based on the representations and wishes of the people of the community to have a new community learning centre. The facility they now have is appalling; it is a very old and cold private trailer - and the other community club and laundry facilities. What was done was to fit them all into this building so as to avoid problems in terms of operating costs. Management Board and Cabinet made a decision to expand the scope of the building and to include all these facilities in one centre.
Mr. Lang: The reasoning that the side opposite has is mind boggling. I asked a very basic question. The Government Leader went there in August or September of 1987. This is almost April of 1989. Like many things, this project seems to be just growing in size. What I want to know from the Government Leader is: What steps did he take with the departments involved to try and get a financial handle on this obviously major financial debacle that continues to hound the government? My concern is that this project should have come in at no more than $750,000, which would have permitted $1,500,000 or $2,000,000 to be spent on a community such as Watson Lake or Dawson City to help meet some of their needs. Instead we have...
Speaker: Order, please. Will the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mr. Lang: I would ask the Government Leader, rather just saying that he just added to the building, to say what steps the Government Leader and the departments involved took to try to get some proper financial management on this project?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Again, I think I counted three questions there, four accusations and a speech and one-half, all supposedly in a supplementary question.
The problem that we identified in the community is not, as the Member continues to repeat in the hopes that it will eventually come true, a problem of financial mismanagement. It is a problem of the design of a facility being contrary to the wishes of the community and wishes of this government in terms of the priorities that they and we had established.
How that happened was the subject of a review that we requested, and again I am sure we will either be discussing that in the Estimates or in the Public Accounts Committee.
The second question about how it grew has already been answered. In fact the scope of the project has changed. We are not simply talking about an arena anymore; we are talking about a community centre that will include a library, a community learning centre and some other public space.
Question re: Ross River arena
Mr. Lang: In 1987 at a public meeting the Government Leader assured the people of Ross River that a post-production study was underway. Today, once again, he said it was underway. We spend as much money as we can and then we study the effect of how the money was spent.
Can the Government Leader provide this House with the post-production study to this phase of the project so we can examine it ourselves?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am sure we can provide a report about it. I understand that the normal post-project evaluation that we hope to institutionalize as part of the normal capital project management will not be completed until after the project itself is complete. The evaluation done on the initial portion that has been the subject of much public debate, I am sure may be reported on by the appropriate Minister. I am not sure whether the document itself can be tabled. I am cautious on this point lest it contain any matters that touch on personnel questions, in which case the normal practice of this House, through several successive governments, would be not to table same. We have given an undertaking in the past on that score, I think to the Public Accounts Committee, that either the people responsible for the project or the people responsible for the evaluation would be prepared to report on the findings and initiatives we have taken to prevent - and this is the important part - a repetition of the experience.
Question re: Health services
Mr. Nordling: I have a question for the Minister of Health and Human Resources with respect to health services.
On March 13, 1989, we discussed over expenditures in the area of health services. At that time the Minister said he had not had a chance to look at the problem and went on to say there was a pattern of a problem that had not yet been solved. One of the areas of concern identified was out-of-territory medical costs. Has the Minister or his department put any pressure on local physicians not to refer patients for out-of-territory treatment?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have spent most of the time, since I have been Minister, in the House. I have not had an occasion to meet with the physicians yet for any purpose, much less putting pressure on them. Putting pressure on them would certainly not be part of our agenda. This is a question that is properly for the Committee of the Whole and the Estimates since it initially came up there, but I indicated at the time that we would be having discussions with the physicians in an effort to find out if there can be local substitutions for referrals outside since this is a matter of considerable cost, not only to this jurisdiction but to every jurisdiction in the country.
Mr. Nordling: I am of the understanding that the physicians are getting the pressure from somewhere. I am glad to hear that it is not the Minister. I hope that it is not his department.
As the Minister stated, he was going to meet with the local physicians. He has not done that. He also said that he has asked the department to provide him with some analysis of the pattern of referrals to outside institutions. Has that analysis been done? Has it been provided to the Minister?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No, that analysis is not complete. It has not reached me yet.
I want to respond to what I think is the assumption behind the Members previous question, namely that there is no role for the government in discussions with physicians in attempting to control these costs. The fundamental problem that all health Ministers and finance Ministers across this country have found is that health care costs are controlled by the providers and by the consumers, not by the people who provide the money. That policy question is a challenge to everybody. Every jurisdiction is trying to address that in a dialogue, particularly with the care givers.
Mr. Nordling: That was not the case. I wanted to remind the Government Leader that he is not a doctor.
The issue is the quality of medical treatment in the territory. I am worried that, under this Minister, Yukoners that are not well off will be discriminated against with respect to treatment. Will the Government Leader assure the public that there will not be a reduction in the quality of medical treatment in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Not only am I prepared to give the assurance, but to also say that it would be an extremely unlikely proposition, given my family background or my party allegiance, to see the less well off suffer as a result of any changes that we want to bring about. Let everyone understand that there is a problem in terms of rising health care costs in every jurisdiction in this country. I think most of the country understands that. Part of the problem is the system, which, as it is now established, does not give effective controls to the people who provide the funding. That is something that, as a result of studies in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and a number of other jurisdictions, is probably about to change.
Question re: Fishing licence fees
Mr. Phillips: I have a question for the Minister of Renewable Resources. I have discussed this question with the Minister previously. In a recent trip to Alaska, we took part in a House Resources Committee meeting and met with the Commissioner of Fish and Game. One of the topics of these meetings was the increase of the Alaskan nonresident fishing licences from $36 to $50 American. In a bill passed in this Legislature, we have increased our non-resident licence fee from $20 to $35. These new increases on both sides of the border will certainly have a negative effect on travelling sport fishermen between our two borders. In light of our friendship and closeness with our Alaskan friends and neighbours, will your government consider establishing a reciprocal friendship agreement that would reduce the fee for nonresident Alaskans and Yukoners who may want to travel to each others area?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Member is making a representation that I will take under notice. I would like to assure him that I think it is an excellent suggestion. It would foster improved relations with our Alaskan neighbours. I think it would establish a comparable licence fee structure, which is desirable. I will look into the matter.
Mr. Phillips: In our talks with the Alaskan officials and legislators, the idea was well received, and I am sure that many Yukoners who travel to Haines, Skagway, and Juneau to fish each year will appreciate our efforts to reduce these escalating costs. I know that it is too late this year, but would the Minister...
Speaker: Order, please. Will the Member please get to the supplementary question?
Mr. Phillips: I was asking my question, Mr. Speaker.
I know that it is too late this year, but will the Minister get the ball rolling, so to speak, now, on an official level so that we could possibly see results from these efforts by next season?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Yes, I would be prepared to make that commitment, as I have earlier in this House. I mentioned that we will be making a complete review of our fee structure at the end of this fishing season and I, too, think that the suggestion would be well received by our fishermen, in an effort to keep costs down at a reasonable level and to improve relations. I think that if we act on this at the end of this fishing season, certainly a new structure could be in place for next season.
Question re: Silver City
Mr. Brewster: My question is to the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. On January 14, 1987, this House passed a motion regarding clearing the channel of Silver Creek, to protect Silver City from flooding. Last summer it was almost lost again due to flooding. Since the snowfall this year has been much heavier and the runoff, as a consequence, will be much greater, can the Minister advise the House what action his department is contemplating to protect Silver City from flooding?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I appreciate the Members question. I take it as notice. I am not familiar with the details surrounding the protection of that particular community. I can certainly provide details to him privately as early as today.
Mr. Brewster: I am a little amazed that it is one of our historic sites and they are not aware of it having been flooded; it was all over the papers. I guess that we do not read the same papers. After last summers flooding, can the Minister advise the House if the dikes have been put back into place to protect Silver City from further flooding?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I take the question as a follow-up notice.
Mr. Brewster: I am so shocked by the answers that I am getting that I am a little dumbfounded. I can assure the Minister that the dike has not been completely repaired, and I would like the Minister to give an undertaking, here and now, to see that something is done to protect this historic site.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can give the Member that assurance.
Question re: Property tax arrears, Human Rights Commission
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister of Justice. Last night in the Whitehorse Star the list of arrears of taxes was published. The Human Rights Commission, which has a budget well in excess of $250,000, appears on that list of arrears as having not paid its taxes of $1,700.23. Now we are paying a penalty of $170.02.
Can the Minister tell us why the Human Rights Commission has not paid its taxes?
Hon. Ms. Joe: Up until this time, I was not aware of this. I did not read the paper last night. Certainly I will bring that information back to her on Monday.
Mrs. Firth: It is a rather embarrassing situation. Who will be paying the $170 penalty? Is the taxpayer going to be expected to pick that up, or is there going to be some responsibility and accountability associated with this budget that the Human Rights Commission has to expend?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I will bring back that information as well.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us whether she thinks it would not be the responsibility of the taxpayers to pay this amount of money? She must have a policy regarding that issue. Are there no financial policies regarding the expenditures of the Human Rights Commission?
Hon. Ms. Joe: There are some policies in place. She is asking a personal opinion of me.
Question re: Campbell Highway upgrading
Mr. Devries: As we all know, tourism is very important to Watson Lake. The many attractions in the area are accessed by the Campbell Highway. This gives tourists the option of a circle, either via Carmacks or the South Canol toward Teslin. Does the government have any plans to upgrade the portion of the Campbell Highway from the Watson Lake airport to Ross River in the near future?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member and I share a special affinity for the road he mentions. The department is currently putting together a feasibility analysis for upgrading that route. I am sure the Member can appreciate the costs that would be involved. The current plan is for some upgrading to happen on the portion between Faro and Carmacks and between Ross River and Faro. We are just in the planning stage for the remainder of the road.
Mr. Devries: During the election campaign- whether my opponent was given the authority to indicate this or not is beside the point, and one of the things the election was fought on - this person indicated there were plans underway to chip seal that portion of the highway.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can give the Member every assurance that there is no plan to chip seal that portion of the highway in this fiscal year, and I doubt in the immediately succeeding years. There is some planning to be completed and upgrading necessary prior to any chip sealing. Chip sealing is taking place on the Campbell Highway, probably in the year following the summer. Next year, there is some chip sealing being planned, and it will be subject to the vote authorities of the House.
Mr. Devries: I appreciate that there is some planning going into this. After that promise, I could visualize it being called pothole alley.
Question re: Justice of the Peace program
Mrs. Firth: With respect to the justice of the peace program, I am sure this particular area is also a priority of the Minister of Justice because of her previous experience as a justice of the peace. Will the Minister maintain the same rigid policy about racial and gender balance when it comes to appointing JPs as her predecessor did, or can we look forward to a more reasonable and practical approach under her ministry?
Hon. Ms. Joe: It was my intention to discuss this with the people in the Justice Department, which I have already done. There is a proposal before the department to deal with the training and recruitment of justices of the peace. There have to be people in the courts who will be able to do the kind of jobs that are expected of them, whether it is a JP1, JP2 or JP3. We have to have the same kind of people as we want in judges, people who know the people and situations in the area in order to better establish judgments. There is that proposal for training and recruitment, and we are looking very seriously at that proposal.
Mrs. Firth: Nobody appreciated the Government Leaders comment about all white men being on the JP Council. Nobody appreciated that comment. It was totally uncalled for.
Can the Minister tell us if there are going to be more JP training programs provided and if they are going to look at upgrading the program that is presently provided? They are looking at it generally, but I want to know the specific intentions.
Hon. Ms. Joe: It is my intention to make the JP program more effective, and that would certainly include more training for JPs and recruitment.
Mrs. Firth: We are pleased to hear that. I am sure the communities will be pleased to hear that.
When can we expect some decisions regarding this issue? It is something that needs to be dealt with as quickly as possible.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I am way ahead of the Member for Whitehorse Riverdale South. Those plans are already being instituted.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will now proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Motion No. 24 - adjourned debate
Clerk: Item No. 1 standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Penikett. Adjourned debate on motion as amended. Mrs. Firth.
Mrs. Firth: I rise to respond to the motion regarding the re-opening of the sawmill operation at Watson Lake to express some of the opinions and points of view regarding this issue and some of the reasons why we proposed the amendment to have the financial operations management referred to the Public Accounts Committee.
Nobody in this Legislature has disagreed that the people of Watson Lake needed some help and were in a desperate situation when the government made the decision to re-open the mill. That is an opinion consistent with all Members of this Legislature.
We have made some recommendations to the government. We have had Members in opposition who have spent a great deal of time visiting Watson Lake and helping the people in that community deal with their concerns and with what was happening at that time with the downturn of the economic situation.
We did expect a little better fiscal management after the opening of the sawmill. To put it in a nutshell, what really happened was that under the terms of sale, the Yukon Development Corporation sold only 50 percent of the mill to Shieldings. They are still heavily invested in the sawmill as is the Indian consortium that holds quite a portion of shares of the company. We are told this in the memo from Eric Woodhouse, assistant executive director of the Yukon Development Corporation, which the Government Leader provided for us.
The fact is that the $400,000 cash we keep talking about being received by the Yukon Development Corporation was really paid by the Development Corporation itself. To form a company, the Yukon Development Corporation put $400,000 in a bank account and formed a new company called Yukon Pacific Forest Products. We then get a legislative return from the Government Leader saying that a certified cheque from the purchaser, Yukon Pacific Forest Products, was written back to the Yukon Development Corporation toward the purchase price. That was a paper transaction. The Yukon Development Corporation does not have one penny more than it did before it signed that agreement. That is one fact that has to be cleared up.
According to this memo, the Yukon Development Corporation gave to Yukon Pacific Forest Products $550,000 to pay for salaries and operation and maintenance costs and further gave them another $100,000 to pay for start-up costs. They are contributing this amount of money. In effect, what we have to date is the fact that the Yukon Development Corporation is $650,000 poorer as a result of this sale.
The Government Leader is referring to this sale as a wise economic decision. The wise economic decision is simply the fact that this company was paid to take the mill off the hands of the government and it was done just prior to an election. That is it in a nutshell.
I see some Members shaking their heads. They will have their chance to speak and give their opinions.
I have had people say to me what a sweetheart deal this is for this company to have been offered this arrangement. They would like to know where Yukoners can line up so they too can benefit from this kind of generosity from this government.
I have to look at the governments track record with this whole sale. I am speaking about the sale and about the accountability process here and the responsibility, because no one on this side disagrees with the concept that something had to be done, so lets talk about the money and the books.
Not long ago the Government Leader flew a whole entourage to the community of Watson Lake. He hired an airplane and flew this group of people there with glossy press releases simply to explain to the people of Watson Lake and the media how they had lost $1,800,000, and to sell this as a good deal for Yukoners and that things were not so bad. In the same breath, he said that we should not judge Hylands performance on the financial picture alone. He continues to be consistent. He continues to tell us this. The bills have to be paid. There has to be some analysis and judgment about the financial picture. That is what we are here for.
In that big, glossy sell of the $1,800,000 loss, the Government Leader said nothing about the other $1,800,000 for start-up costs. He said nothing about the total $2,700,000 of start-up costs. What he talked about was a worst case scenario. This was that it would cost $18,700. That was the worst case scenario from this open and honest Government Leader.
I know the Government Leader will stand up and say that I do not know what I am talking about, that I am confused and that I do not understand or care. But he can not dispute these figures. They are figures quoted from the documentation we have received and are figures with which the public and media have also been dealing.
So now, after this big glossy announcement about the big favor that has been done for Yukoners, we have another loss announced of $4,500,000. This loss comes with another worst case scenario. This one is that it is all right, that new management has been hired. The worst case scenario is that we are going to break even in the second year. So we have another loss, this time of $4,500,000.
Now, he wants the public and the Legislature to believe that in respect to the sale of this Hyland Forest Products and the creation of this new company, that the worst case scenario is going to be that all the money, the $5,700,000, is going to be paid back to us. Well, it just does not add up. This is the third time at bat. If history repeats itself, at the next public announcement the Government Leader makes we will be talking, I am sure, about losses in excess of $10,000,000. This is how this project is rolling down the hill. The snowball is getting bigger and bigger and bigger.
What happens? We come into the Legislature and ask questions publicly. We asked questions before the election, and we got no answers. We asked questions after the election. We come into the Legislature and do our job. We provide scrutiny, we ask questions and, what happens? The Government Leader gets up and, in his usual style in this House, he launches his vindictive personal attacks on Members of the Opposition.
We get the same old stuff from the Government Leader all the time. It is the same old, tired rhetoric over and over again. The public is tired of listening to the same old, worn out rhetoric of the Government Leader. The media is tired of listening to it, and the people of Watson Lake are tired of listening to it.
The Government Leader comes into this Legislature, and gives the big presentation with his motion about Hyland Forest Products and has the nerve to talk about being open and consultative, and how he provides more information than anybody has ever provided for people before. He pats himself on the back for the great job they have done with the Hyland Forest Products. We now have a debt well in excess of $7 million, with predictions of up to $12 million and $17 million. We still do not know how much.
We get the same old lines from him about illusions, about bootlegging, about flimflam and all those other worn out words he continues to use over and over again. He did it again in Question Period today.
We maintain that the Yukon has never seen a more close government that this government that is here today. Decisions are made in the back rooms, and they are made by a chosen few. We could cite example after example. They do not all relate to Hyland Forest Products; they spread all over the whole government.
They keep the media in the dark; they keep the public in the dark, and they keep the people of Watson Lake in the dark. They announce preferred, nice, pleasing, little press statements to tell the media, the public and the people of Watson Lake only what they want them to know.
We feel the Government Leader has an obligation to come clean on exactly how much money has been spent on this project. How much of the Yukon taxpayers money went into the sawmill? Where did the money come from? Did it come from the Yukon Energy Corporation? Did people continue to pay inflated electricity rates so part of the Development Corporation could benefit from profits to pay for the debts of the rest of the corporation? Did that happen? I think the public has a right to know. We have the right to find that out, and we will find it out.
We have to know how much more money this government is prepared to spend on this particular project. The people in Watson Lake are mad about this. They want answers so they can plan their future. Yukoners want answers so they can make decisions about the future.
All Yukoners have a stake in the future of this territory, and they have a right to know how their money is being used or misused. We want answers to the questions and the concerns raised by the MLA for Watson Lake. There are outstanding questions that I think will take up many hours of debate.
The government could lessen that if they were forthcoming with their answers and if they were open and honest and simply admitted they made a mistake in the financial management of this project. There have been mistakes in the financial management of this project. They should admit to having some concerns and be prepared to open the books to the public. They should be prepared to show everyone what happened. Then I would hope that some measures would be put into place to see that this does not happen again. We want to know how much we pay to create jobs. Is there a limit on that? I would like to know what this governments policy is. The public would like to know and the people of Watson Lake would like to know.
We would like to know how we can protect the public purse from abuses, abuses that are becoming regular occurrences with this government. What is at stake here is the future, not only of Watson Lake, but of all Yukoners. The governments track record for fiscal management is not good; it is pathetic in fact. It is getting worse and worse every day.
We care about Watson Lake and we care about Yukoners. Because we care, we are going to do our job, and we are not going to be intimidated by the bullying and the rhetoric and the personal attacks that come from the Government Leader. In a democracy, which I think we still have here in the Yukon, the government must be accountable. They have to be responsible and they have to answer to the public.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am hearing a number of contradictory and confused statements from Members opposite. However, I do want to commend the Member for Watson Lake for his forthright comments last night. Particularly I want to address this motion in the context of some personal experiences of mine relating to Faro. I was a participant in an experience similar to the one in Watson Lake. Between 1982 and 1985, at Faro I witnessed the virtual collapse and disintegration of an entire community, even more so than the situation in Watson Lake. I recall in the summer of 1985 when this government rolled up its sleeves and hammered out a deal to restore that community. The effort that was put into that deal was not unlike the one that was done for Watson Lake. It was not unlike the Watson Lake situation in terms of the commitment made to the community, the commitment that was made to the industry, and indeed, the commitment that was made to the economy of the territory.
I am not sure what I am hearing from Members opposite. I am wondering if the Members are suggesting that the investment in Faro was wrong. Is there the suggestion that when this government took a risk and bought 100-odd properties in Faro for $1.5 million to provide some cash flow for that operation to kick into gear that that was a bad investment?
I would like to know what the Members are saying. On the one hand they are saying that, well, it was a good idea to help Watson Lake because it was in trouble, and in fact we think it was our idea. On the other hand, however, they say that it was not worth the risk.
If the Members opposite want to speak, they can rise on a point of privilege.
The situation in Faro was much the same. Today in Faro we have 500 people working at the mine. We have an additional 100 people working in the community. We have spin-off jobs around the territory of another 500 or 600 or 700, not to mention a number of indirect jobs. We have an incalculable economic benefit related to what took place in Faro, in terms of the risk. The Government Leader has detailed the benefit that has been provided in Watson Lake by taking the same risk.
The Member talks about quarterbacking. In Watson Lake it was the private sector that was involved in the management of the operation. In Faro it was the private sector that was involved in the management of the operation. Now, what makes Watson Lake such a different situation than Faro? Why are they not criticizing what happened in Faro? Why are they not suggesting that we should withdraw our investment from Faro and allow that place to collapse?
I am not sure that I know what is being said. The people in Watson Lake are like the people in Faro. They are the people of this territory who have homes, who have families. In Watson Lake they saw Cantung collapse, they saw an erosion of the community base, and this government went out there and rolled up its sleeves, and hammered out a deal. We have a precedent for that happening at Faro.
The motion that we are debating is quite clear. We are talking about commending the government for re-opening the sawmill at Watson Lake. Now, in one breath the Members opposite are saying that they were the first ones to suggest that involvement, and in the next breath they condemn the involvement; there is a contradiction. In quiet terms, they say that they support the motion, and then with all sorts of arm waving and noise raising they suggest that we either adjourn the debate or move it into Committee, that they just do not want to vote on it the way it is. I think that there is clearly some confusion.
I would like to suggest that the questions raised by Members opposite have been quite fully addressed. This government has provided details of the sale. They have been tabled, they have been circulated, they have been debated. The Government Leader has offered to bring representatives from the Yukon Development Corporation before the bar of the House for the intricate detail that Members feel they are not getting. We have been told that the financial statements are going to be fully presented when the audit is complete - I understand, probably within a month. I suggest that the Members opposite are very confused. I have seen what risk investment can do and I think that the Members opposite see what it can do.
That is the issue at stake. Do you agree with the re-opening of the mill in Watson Lake or do you not? There is no question. With every investment there comes risk.
There was more than $6 million invested in Faro. What would the members say if that collapsed?
I am quite proud to be a resident from Faro who has seen what government support can do. I am sure the Member for Watson Lake feels the same. I am proud to be a member of the government that took the risk, made the investment, and what we have today is an operating mill that is an incalculable benefit to the territory. Certainly, I will be supporting the motion, and I hope the amendment will allay any fears that Members may have.
Mr. Phillips: I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to this motion today. I will be supporting this motion as amended.
I would like to reply to some of the misleading statements made by the Government Leader in last nights debate. The Government Leader is trying to hide behind smoke and mirrors. He continues to use personal attacks that are quite unbecoming of a Government Leader when he feels the heat. This is unfortunate because I believe these vindictive comments are being seen by the Yukon public as just that.
Yukoners are now asking the real questions. What did go wrong with Hyland Forest Products? What did it really cost the Yukon taxpayer? The people of the Yukon have the right to know.
The Government Leader continues to detract from the real issue by twisting the debate around. He has tried to paint a picture of Members on this side as not caring about Watson Lake. It is clearly time to correct these falsehoods and let history set the record straight.
Shortly after the 1985 election, the Leader of the Official Opposition appointed each member of our caucus to a buddy riding. One of my areas was Watson Lake. I believe this was a good move on behalf of the Leader of the Official Opposition for Watson Lake and for me. I learned a great deal from my many visits to that community over three and one-half years. As a buddy MLA I asked many questions on behalf of the Watson Lake residents and introduced several motions to this House. For instance, I asked about Alaska Highway upgrading, establishing a territorial agent, establishing a permanent court in Watson Lake, which has the second largest docket in the territory. I asked many questions about the Watson Lake Forest Products and the timber leases for that mill, and about social issues and problems in Watson Lake. I introduced motions in this House about the Alaska Highway upgrading, and the relocating of the south highway superintendent. All members of this side asked questions, expressed opinions and made suggestions to the government about how to assist the people and the economy of Watson Lake.
These are the facts. They are on the record. The statement made by the so-called Government Leader yesterday that we do not give a damn about the people of Watson Lake is simply not true. If he was at least honest with himself he would admit that.
If the Government Leader is not quite convinced, I am going to give him a few more facts. In the past three and one-half years I have travelled to Watson Lake at least twice a year. That was more than the previous NDP MLA ever did.
In the past three and one-half years, I met several times with the local town council, more than the previous NDP of that area ever did. In three and one-half years, I met several times with the Chamber of Commerce, again more times than the previous NDP MLA ever did. In three and one-half years, I met with the mill managers, again more times than the previous NDP MLA ever did. As the buddy MLA, I assisted many Watson Lake residents with their problems. The Ministers across the floor know this, because of correspondence I sent to them and conversations I had with them about problems in Watson Lake. I also took the time to visit every single small business in Watson Lake that I could. I listened to and discussed their concerns and helped out if I could. I am not even the MLA for the area. He had evidently disappeared off the map. In the last two years, he became the phantom MLA. No one knew where Dave had gone.
If we get into caring, we owe it to the people of the Yukon, and the people of Watson Lake in particular, to at least tell the truth. This party has demonstrated its concern about Watson Lake residents by action and not by telling them one thing and doing another, or the shameful act committed the other day when the Government Leader blamed the workers at the mill forits failure.
The Government Leader should be ashamed of himself for making that statement. I have to agree with the Member for Watson Lake when he said the Government Leader owes these workers an apology. It seems the Government Leaders shameful comments when he said that we do not give a damn about the people of Watson Lake are not shared by his colleagues.
Just yesterday in the debate, the Minister of Justice said, and I will quote from Hansard on page 147, In 1986, it was fairly evident that the town of Watson Lake, the Gateway to the Yukon", was suffering a rather severe depression. I would like to quote the words of the Member for Riverdale North from a letter to the Government Leader in October, 1986: Watson Lake is not participating in the general upswing of the economy that many other communities are experiencing. He also expressed his concern ... for the government to adopt measures that would contribute to the economic base in Watson Lake. It was with pleasure that we had at this time the support of the Opposition in our concern for the lack of economic base in Watson Lake and, in particular, for the re-opening of the Watson Lake Forest Products. That is not exactly condemning, or saying what the Government Leader says, when he says that we do not give a damn about Watson Lake.
As well, last night in his speech, the Member for Watson Lake expressed the same sentiments when he said, I also wish to thank the Leader of the Official Opposition, Mr. Phelps, for a letter he sent to the Government Leader about four months before the mill was purchased, suggesting that Watson Lake was in dire circumstances. I would like to believe that this is what prodded the government into gear.
We are pleased, on this side, to see that this letter did prod the government into gear and that our concerns were finally acted on. Unfortunately, after re-opening the mill, NDP economics took over. As you can see, the New Democratic Party does not have a corner on caring. Mr. Peniketts statements yesterday are blatantly false.
I would like to turn to another area and clear up some other statements that I believe were false.
In the Government Leaders speech yesterday, he said, and I quote from page 140 of Hansard, At the time of the purchase and subsequently in the management of the mill, the corporation relied upon the best expert advice it could obtain from the private sector. Private sector experts repeatedly advised against the construction of a new mill by the Yukon Development Corporation, insisting instead the sawmill equipment was adequate for the moment.
I am inclined to believe the Member for Watson Lake when he stated in the House yesterday, In the initial planning stages, Jack Sigalet and I suggested bringing in a portable mill. I realize that this was not in line with the Carroll-Hatch operations timetable, but we felt that as long as we ran that old bush mill, we would have nothing but problems. It is obvious that this was sound advice, because that is the first step that the new owners are taking now. This government is now paying in the neighborhood of $5,000,000 or $6,000,000 to assist them in setting up that temporary mill.
I am not taking the word of the Member for Watson Lake totally on this issue, but I twice met with the management of Hyland Forest Products and was clearly told that they wanted to replace the old mill and that it was poorly constructed, that it was sitting on shifting permafrost and was simply worn out.
This is where the management and the Government of Yukon parted ways. The governments promise to have the mill make money and at the same time employ hundreds of people are simply not compatible. Mr. Penikett bought the mill and told the people of Watson Lake and Yukon that the mill would make money in the first year. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Anyone in the forest industry in Watson Lake who knew what that mill was like could have told you that. Unless they replaced the existing mill, it would never make money.
In fact, many of the small Yukon operators that were asked to look at operating the mill prior to the government hiring Sigalet and Associates, told the government that unless they replaced the mill, it would never operate. One of them told the government that they should dig a hole beside the old scrag mill, push it in, bury it and then start from scratch. They said it would save hundreds of thousands of dollars, and I believe that it is obvious they were right.
I was a bit surprised to hear the Government Leader tell us for the second time last night that when they purchased the mill no private company was interested. Is the Government Leader playing Yukoners and the media for fools? I can remember clearly how the Government of Yukon outbid a private operator in a court case in Whitehorse. The private operator was quite upset. It was front page news for a couple of days in Whitehorse. Now the Government Leader is saying that no one was prepared to take over, no one was prepared to do it. People in the Yukon have memories longer than the Government Leader gives them credit for.
It is clear to me where the blame lies in this issue. It is my understanding, from discussions with the mill management, that the interference came directly from the political level and, in particular, from the Deputy Minister of Economic Development, at that time Shakir Alwarid. I believe that if the advice of Jack Sigalet and Associates was followed from the beginning, we would simply not be in this mess today.
The NDP government said that the costs and long-term viability of the mill were not important. What was on their mind was obviously the upcoming election. That is explained by the statements by the Member for Watson Lake last night when he said he went away for holidays and when he came back 15 more people had been hired. There was no reason to hire these people, except for the fact that an election was on the horizon and they wanted to have as many people as possible so that they could buy their votes.
I think it is a cheap trick and the people of Watson Lake are going to see through it.
After listening to the speech of the Member for Watson Lake, it is no wonder the mill cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Mistake after mistake was made. Political interference, in my view, was the major cause - not the only cause, but the major cause - of problems with the Watson Lake mill.
This management gave jobs to the people of Watson Lake but at the same time it took way their pride. The outrageously high turnover proves this. There was a better way to re-open the mill and put the people of Watson Lake back to work. The residents of Watson Lake are hardworking and dedicated Yukoners but they are not very proud of the mismanagement of that mill. They unfortunately have since become, in the Government Leaders mind, one of the several reasons why the mill failed. He has blamed the past private sector management. He has even gone so far as to blame the Opposition. The only people not involved here seem to be the Government Leader and the side opposite. I do not think Yukoners will fall for these tactics.
Yesterday, the Member for Porter Creek West made a motion to amend this motion and to have the Public Accounts Committee examine this operation of Hyland Forest Products. In light of the astonishing facts released last night by the Member for Watson Lake, I wonder if a public inquiry into this mess is not in order. During the next few weeks, I will be examining this avenue. Several million dollars of Yukon taxpayers money has been poorly managed, money that could have been better spent on things such as a main hydro facility in Watson Lake to reduce the power costs. It could have provided facilities for extended care in Watson Lake or even upgrade the Alaska Highway so that the tourism would increase in Watson Lake. I could go on.
In closing, the Government Leader said, and I quote, I will argue this was an economic decision. I would argue that there was a better way and the NDP philosophy of throwing money at a problem is wrong. This is positive proof of that.
The mill is open and I commend the Government of Yukon in assisting in that. Putting people back to work in Watson Lake was important and necessary. That does not excuse the terrible mismanagement of millions of dollars. It is time for this government to come clean and to open the public books on Hyland Forest Products. After all, this operation did belong to the public of the Yukon. Yukoners need answers and we must examine how this fiasco happened and try to put measures into place to prevent this from happening in the future.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I thank the Members opposite for the applause.
After having heard the rather nasty remarks made by the previous Member, I intend to change the tone of my response a little in order to respond better to the remarks made by the Members opposite. After hearing the speech made by the Member for Watson Lake last night, I felt the remarks, though I did not agree with all of the Members assessment, left the issue on a positive note and were constructive. For the first time, it was a message from the Conservative side that I felt to be optimistic.
That was until this afternoon. This afternoon, we heard an incredibly nasty presentation by the Member for Riverdale North. The issue has been clouded by the Members of the Conservative Opposition in an attempt to blanket the whole re-opening exercise with the feeling that the losses that had been absorbed by the Yukon Development Corporation were the one feature the Yukon public should remember in this whole arrangement. The support that comes in a whisper by Members from the opposite side always comes with a string of abuse and criticism based on the detail of the re-opening of Watson Lake Forest Products, when Watson Lake Forest Products - which was financially a basket case - was in no hope of re-opening at that time in 1985 and was considered to be yet another feature of a very depressed Watson Lake economy.
What was happening in Watson Lake in 1985? The Cantung mine was down. Cattermole was bankrupt, and it owed money to people in the community. It was a serious problem. The Skagway Road was opening, and people were concerned about the future highway and tourist traffic on the road. The basic and fundamental features of the Watson Lake economy showed very little promise in the long term or the short term. The previous history of the Yukon Conservative government was to let things happen as they may, which is basically to do nothing.
In 1982 to 1985, during my tenure as a Member of the Opposition, mines came and went. The economy went up but was mostly down. Did the government of the day suggest there was a role to play in encouraging a regrowth of our economy? No, they did not. Repeatedly, the Member for Porter Creek East would stand and say, It is a private sector matter. It has nothing to do with this government.
When United Keno Hill shut down, it was traditional that the government help people of that community try to accommodate the significant change in their lives in the depressed mining economy. Not only did the government not do that but, also, there was no suggestion whatsoever there might be anything innovative in trying to help the mine reopen. When it did reopen in the next year, they took credit for that.
Between 1982 and 1985, the Member for Faro stood up and repeatedly asked what the government was prepared to do about the re-opening of the Faro mine. The government did absolutely nothing and provided no support to a re-opening exercise of that mine.
The Member for Porter Creek East says that the difference between the two re-opening exercises was that Erik Nielsen was not involved. In 1984, Mr. Nielsen was around and there was a Conservative government in place, but was Faro reopened? No. In 1985 and 1986, this government showed hustle and took major risks with the support of Erik Nielsen, but not of the Members opposite, and we re-opened the Curragh Mine in Faro. That is a feeble comment from the Member for Porter Creek East now, who passively sat back then and, when it was all done, provided sanction for the work the government had already done.
There were a lot of statements like, We do not know if this is a good deal or not, and We do not know whether the government should be getting involved in the private sector or not, as well as but it seems so successful that we will support it.
That is exactly what happened with Watson Lake, and I do not care how many times the Member for Riverdale North tries to rewrite history. That is exactly the response that was provided by the Members of the Opposition when this government made the announcement that it was going to be re-opening Watson Lake Forest Products. What happens now is the most feeble thing I have heard in months. Somebody says they sent a letter and, on the basis of that letter, this government intervened in Watson Lake. I have never heard anything so feeble and so arrogant in my life. I am sure the Cabinet sat down together and said, We got a letter from Doug Phillips, and it says to re-open Watson Lake Forest Products, so let us get right on it.
The Member for Watson Lake of the day, whose reputation the Member for Riverdale North tried to savage in this Legislature, fought long and hard to try to get the Watson Lake Forest Products re-opened, as well as many other good things in that community. Every time I went down to that community - and I met with people in that community more often than the Member for Riverdale North did - and I met with the school committees and the municipal council, there was never any suggestion that what the Member for Watson Lake was doing was anything but good. They congratulated me on many occasions for the efforts and the initiatives shown by the previous Member for Watson Lake.
The government realized that it had to act. There were more features of the depressed economy that were causing the depressed situation in Watson Lake to occur than the Members opposite have mentioned. Small businesses were suffering, the population was declining, and the population of the school was declining so dramatically that the obvious suggestion was made that teachers should be removed from the community because their presence was not justified. However, the government said no, it was not going to jump ship, but was going to help the community and provide some stability and ensure that projects that were supportable, such as the rebuilding of the Watson Lake high school, would go ahead. The government was going to ensure there was going to be a private sector base in the community because we had faith in the forest industry, in the mill, and in the people of Watson Lake, and we were going to invest money in that project. Getting involved was a conscious, well thought out decision by this government.
As the Government Leader mentioned, there was a tremendous amount of consultation, not only with the people of Watson Lake but, also, with private sector consultants with respect to operating a mill in Watson Lake. We realized the plant was in rough shape. We also realized the whole atmosphere surrounding timber production in Watson Lake had a bad reputation - that was obvious. There was the recognition that this was going to be a venture of some risk to the government. No matter what the Members opposite want to call it, this venture did proceed because the government had enough faith in the community and that industry to take the risks necessary to see this project proceed.
The Members opposite wonder if it was our prime objective to create jobs in Watson Lake. The fundamental objective for the government was to create jobs in Watson Lake. Was the issue the long-term support for that community? Was that the issue for the government? The primary objective was the long-term economic vitality of that community. It was of primary importance to the government when we got ourselves into the project and the re-opening of the Watson Lake Forest Products.
We indicated we wanted the project managed by the private sector, and it was managed by the private sector. We indicated our intention to ultimately sell to private sector interests, and it was sold, in major part, to private sector interests. Now, what do we hear from the Members in Opposition?
First of all, we hear the feeble, Yes, we supported it and, if you care to forget history for a while, we would like to tell you that we always supported it. That is nonsense. There was nothing in the character of the discussions in this Legislature all during that period that suggests that those Conservative Members, who were here, showed any support for the re-opening exercise. There were notes of caution about the government getting involved in the private sector. I remember it specifically being evoked by the Members opposite. That is my everlasting impression of where the Members opposite were coming from and, in my view, are still coming from.
The Members opposite are trying to make a case and a smokescreen. They do not like the idea that the government might be commended for a job that was worthwhile to the community of Watson Lake. They do not want there to be any lasting impression from this debate that the project was a good one for Watson Lake in the long term. They do not want to have any suggestion of that, so they are trying to provide a smokescreen on a variety of other issues, one of them being that there is not enough information on the record, and that the government is not being open enough. The most incredible thing came from the mouth of the Member for Riverdale South, that this is the most closed government in the history of Yukon.
Does the Member for Riverdale South remember being in existence in 1982 to 1985? Does the Member remember the Minister, who was standing here and who, many times, arrogantly dismissed questions from the Members of the Opposition and who, during budget debate, simply indicated that if they wanted more information, they could read his words in Hansard and there would be no supplementary information of any sort at any time? Is that all past history that does not deserve to be conjured up at this time when the Members are trying to make historical judgments about governments being the most closed in the history of the Yukon?
What is happening here is that the government has indicated the Development Corporation officials would come before the Legislature in Committee to discuss any or all aspects of the matter. The government has also indicated that they would like to have this issue of the Watson Lake Forest Products financial operations over the past two years brought before the Public Accounts Committee. The information has been provided on the record, both by the Government Leader and by the annual reports. Is that not information? Is there any suggestion that the government is trying to hide what the losses were at Watson Lake Forest Products? No.
The actual figures have been provided to the Members. The most closed government in the history of Yukon! Financial mismanagement! One episode that illustrates my point best of all was the $10 million giveaway that took place between 1982 and 1985. There was some extra cash one year and the Cabinet went on a tour around the territory in a great big, white car to give away $10 million. When the Opposition started asking where this money came from and how much real consultation had taken place, the Ministers responsible had nothing to say. The Leader of the Official Opposition was not here; he was busy making big money on land claims negotiations that got nowhere. The convenient memories, the bluff and blunder and the creative research of the Members across the floor is outrageous in my view.
I support this motion for a variety of reasons. It is one of the most incredible things that during the debate commending the government on the re-opening of the Watson Lake Forest Products, the Opposition tries to take all the benefit for the initiative and we take the risk. On top of all of this, the Member for Watson Lake, supported by the Member for Riverdale North, has the audacity to stand in the Legislature and demand that the Government Leader apologize to the workers of Watson Lake.
My gosh - without that risk, without that initiative, without that daring, the workers of Watson Lake would not be working. That is the fact of the matter. I am one person who has worked in the private sector for a lot of my life. I have worked in a situation completely divorced - even more divorced than I would like; that is why I got into politics - from government with pure private sector management. I have seen all kinds of things go on in private sector management. I can tell all kinds of tales about my employers that would be true. Good things and bad things happen in the world of private business. When we spend 90 percent of our time in this Legislature talking about this initiative and whether or not we care about taking these risks on behalf of our communities, picking apart the financial management of a particular operation, that does not do justice to the considerable effort that this government has put into the local and territorial economy.
Perhaps the Member for Hootalinqua feels this is an insignificant gesture on the part of the government. He is pretending to be playing a violin. This government is prepared to do things that the Conservative Opposition would never do.
No matter how they want to colour this or how they want to pick apart individual management decisions, the total operation is on the record and every vehicle is available to this Legislature to review the operations. Government is committed to this. When the people across the floor spend 90 percent of their time critizing and picking apart the fact of the loss, a loss we admit and regret, it tells me some important things about where the people across the floor will stand on any kind of issue like this in the future.
In the beginning, they were critical and skeptical. When it comes time to take recognition for what is, in the long term, a very good decision for Watson Lake, they try to take credit for it and heap reams of detailed criticism on the government. That is an injustice, a gross injustice.
I will not spend much more time on this. On numerous occasions, we have dealt with the issue of faith in the local economy and the risk and the daring that is required to ressurect these economies. I know how the Members across the floor think about these projects. I know how critical they are, not just on the detail, but in principle. I remember Members across the floor talking about government being involved in what they felt should be only a private sector issue, even if the private sector had no interest whatsoever in proceeding. I know where the Members stand.
I do a lot of travelling, and I feel it my duty to deliver the message personally into rural Yukon, because I think it is an outrageous situation to have to hear from the Members opposite what I have heard last night and today. There is a legitimate role to be concerned about about losses. Losses have been admitted to. There is a legitimate forum to dissect losses. We are committed to that legitimate forum. With the exception of a quiet whisper, We support this motion, but on the other hand, there are all these other problems, they spend all their other time providing criticism, and that sends a real message.
Mr. Phelps: I must say that this is a motion that interests me. I am puzzled and do not understand the motive that the Government Leader has for bringing it forward at this time. I have gone back through Hansard and through my notes and files, and it seems that the announcement about the opening of the sawmill took place in December of 1986. It was opened sometime shortly after that in the spring of 1987.
Now, long after the opening, we have the bizarre situation of the Government Leader coming forward looking for praise for performing the task of opening the mill in Watson Lake two years ago. His timing is kind of strange. It has led some of us to believe that it was simply used as a ruse to prevent questions in Question Period from continuing with regard to the sale of Hyland Forest Product and, in part, to try to trap people into saying that no one is against motherhood, no one is against the mill opening and jobs being created in Watson Lake. How could they possibly vote against motherhood? No one would vote against a motion like that.
The problem, and I am sure that the mover of the motion was aware of it at the time, is that two years have gone by and the mismanagement has been a disaster; atrocious. The two are separate concepts, separate events and separate things. It is as simple as that.
We get into the motion itself and we have to listen to the utterly silly position taken by the Government Leader last night. In Hansard, page 140, he said that, in opening the mill, We did so with the support of the Kaska Dene people of the area. We did so with the support of the local Chamber of Commerce. We did not take this action with the support of the Conservative Party in the Legislature. That is just not correct. It ignores the truth. It does not square with the facts.
It is a fact that we urged the government to open the mill in the fall of 1986. It is a fact that I and the Member for Riverdale North issued a joint press release on October 28, 1986, and I just happen to have a copy of it here, wherein we said that it is obvious that Watson Lake is still caught up in the recession and that NDP government should take immediate action to correct the situation. The Conservative Leader, - that is me, Mr. Speaker - suggested some positive initiatives which the Yukon government should undertake to help alleviate the economic situation in Watson Lake. The initiatives include the re-opening of Cattermole Timber by the private sector... and other suggestions.
It is a fact that the Member for Riverdale North wrote a letter to the Government Leader on October 28, which states in part, Accordingly, we would like to recommend some initiatives that the government could take to improve Watson Lakes economic condition. As the Minister responsible for Economic Development: Mines and Small Business, we urge you to facilitate the re-opening of Cattermole Timber. We believe the re-opening can be accomplished with the private sector taking a lead role with the assistance of government.
The Government Leader responded to this letter with a letter dated November 17, 1986.
Dear Mr. Phillips, re: Watson Lake, your letter of October 28, 1986... In that letter, he states they are already doing something about it. He states they are very optimistic that the operation will re-open. We are doing our best to see that it does.
On December 15, 1986, in this House, the Government Leader stood in his place and announced plans to re-open the mill at Watson Lake. I replied, and it is in Hansard, in part, as follows:
As all Members know, we have been concerned for some time about the plight of Watson Lake and about the lumber facility there. Accordingly, we are pleased to see that some progress is being made and that we are finally going to see that industry starting up again. However, at this point, we must give notice of some concerns that we have with the approach taken. We would rather have seen the government attempting to work with the private sector, so the private sector might have taken on this responsibility and taken on rehabilitating and running the operation.
We supported opening the mill. If, when the mill was opened, we were having this debate, it would have been very short. That was the appropriate time to have this debate. The House was sitting. It is so bizarre that it is going on now as the part of the arsenal of cartridges filled with smoke for a smokescreen, that is brought into this House by the side opposite. Perhaps we should take some steps to have a treaty to disarm some of the Members in this House so we will be able to breathe the air, should some of the weapons go off unexpectedly.
Our concern was not the mill re-opening. We fully supported that, and we lobbied the government to open the mill. We were not standing here, as the Member for Mayo stated, taking credit for being the decisive factor that made up the mind of the Cabinet of the day to open the mill in Watson Lake. I am not saying that. We are not trying to take credit for that decision. We simply want the facts to be laid before the people of Watson Lake and the people of the Yukon that we supported the opening, we lobbied for an opening, and that was our consistent position, right through to and including the day the announcement was made. That is what the documentation shows. It is silly for the Member for Mayo to accuse us of claiming it was our idea to open the mill, or that it would not have happened without our lobbying.
Cause and effect do not logically work quite that way. We do not claim that it does. We do not claim that we were the cause, but we certainly supported and lobbied for it.
Our concern has to do with the way that the mill was mismanaged, with the political interference, some of which we heard about last night when the Member for Watson Lake gave his most revealing speech in the House, and I thank him for it. When the mill was opened, the Government Leader painted a glowing future for the money-making ability of the mill. He quoted the Deloise Report that the worst-case scenario would be the loss of between $18,000 and $19,000 in the first year. That report did not factor in the realities of political interference with sound management. It did not factor in the kind of mismanagement and interference that did occur: the kind of mismanagement and interference that I hope will be examined, scrutinized and brought to light for the taxpayers benefit in the near future.
As I said, the worst-case scenario for the first year was between $18,000 and $19,000. The fiscal year end for the first year was March 31, 1988. Do you remember what happened? Do you remember what happened six months after year end, long after the books had been received by the government? In September we had the totally bizarre scenario where the government hired airplanes to fly the press corps down to Watson Lake to announce that they had lost $1.8 million in the year ending March 31, 1988. Everybody I spoke to was puzzled by what was going on, but the government was trying to play politics and used up another couple smokescreen cartridges. At that time there were reasons given for the unexpected large loss. We had the new management that had been in place since June. We had a press release dated September 7, 1988 from the Yukon Development Corporation headed YDC Predicts Secure Future for Hyland Forest Products. A quotation from Mr. Penikett, Although the $1.8 million loss is significant, and it is significant I will grant him that, most of the loss can be attributed to the cost of getting the mill back into production. Now that most of those costs are behind us, the secure outlook for Hylands future confirms that buying the mill was a wise investment.
Now that we are into our second year of production at Hyland, most of these difficulties have been worked out. The strong interest expressed by this company in Hylands products is an indication that last years marketing difficulties were only temporary.
And there was the newspaper story quoting the new management from the mill, glowing expectations, but this was in September. Year end was March 31. April had gone by. May had gone by. June had gone by. July came and went, as did August, and we are into September already. Do not worry about the first years results. Things are much better. One could sort of step back and say, Well okay, that is great, it is not really playing politics because if we had received those statements say in May or June or something, you could say, well, yeah maybe, or maybe it is just posturing, because nobody really would know at this point in time what to expect. After all we just started this, this next year.
So we were given this totally false impression, totally false and misleading. On September 7, half the fiscal year behind the company, and within four months - within four months - the losses were a staggering $4.5 million, according to what they tell the people of the Yukon, for that year. Why were the planes hired? Why were the press brought down to Watson Lake? Why were they given all this glowing confident reportage fodder to feed to the good people of the Yukon? Election time was coming up and we do not want the people to really know what is happening because we might call an election, you know, in the fall of 1988, or maybe in the winter. Let us keep our options open and let us try to exercise some damage control. But you are going to have a hard time convincing me or most Yukoners that the government did not have a damn good idea about just how big a hole they were into on September 7 when this absolute garbage was given to the people, the true owners of that mill.
I will repeat it. If it had occurred in May or early June, okay. But are they going to take the position they did not know how bad the losses were in September? I hope they do, because then there are only two conclusions that can be drawn. One is of absolute and bizarre negligence and mismanagement, with no idea about the true financial picture of the company. That would be one of the conclusions.
The other one, I guess, might be unparliamentary for me to mention.
We had the rather interesting speech from the Member for Faro. He talked about Faro and Watson Lake and how the two were so similar. What is the difference between what happened with the mine in Faro and what happened with the mill in Watson Lake? Well, it is pretty simple. In Faro, that entire recovery was engineered by the Conservative government, by the Lassonde Report. It was engineered and structured so that private enterprise would take it over. It was designed so that government would get involved and give some help to bring down the costs where government could play an appropriate role. It was a Conservative solution, and was quarterbacked by Erik Nielsen. It was based on a very conservative analysis and Mr. Lassonde and Peter Steen, two of the most conservative-minded businessmen that I have ever met - and I know, I have followed their reputations closely. I have known Peter Steen for a long time. It was structured in order to entice private enterprise to come into a situation where the mine would be competitive in the good days, the bad days, high prices, low prices. That is what happened to Faro.
Watson Lake? Watson Lake was a situation of an opening engineered by the NDP government, replete with government interference and bureaucratic interference. Steps taken to make the operation more efficient mean fewer jobs, and that is a political no no. What is the difference between Faro and Watson Lake, the Member from Faro asks. Well, for openers, about $6 million from Yukon taxpayers pockets that they will never see again.
What will have happened in Watson Lake - if everything works, if a new mill is built in the south of Canada and assembled in Watson Lake, as is the plan - what will have happened is that the NDP will have, in order to get themselves out of a politically embarrassing position just before an election, turned it over to private enterprise, and private enterprise will have effectively - if the mill is built and things work - accomplished efficiency by having a mill that is going to put out at least five times what the present mill is capable of doing, with no increase in jobs and, in fact, probably fewer jobs.
I guess five times the production is one way of saving face, but the end result is the same. You need so many thousand board feet of lumber per man to make a go of it. That is the bottom line. Businesses do not make politically positive decisions in many cases. That is why they tend to be more efficient than government. They do not have to get elected. They do not have to throw up smokescreens. They have to tell the truth to their shareholders. That is why they run operations such as this so much more efficiently.
I am saddened by what has happened since the opening. A lot of good, proud people worked at that mill. A lot are still there. The people of Watson Lake, in general, tend to be of an entrepreneurial spirit. They tend to be an independent bunch. Many of them are excellent woodsmen. They have a history of pioneers who loved the woods and the forests. There are those indigenous people in the area, many of whom look at this operation as perhaps giving them a future in the workplace. There are those who trapped for many years. Many of them are renowned. I think of all the big game outfitters in the area who operate out of there, not in just Yukon but northern BC as well. I think of pioneers in the aviation business. I think of people like George Dalziel, who traversed through that wilderness from the early 1920s onward. No man knew more about the bush and bush survival than George Dalziel.
These were people who were not looking for government handouts. They were people who did not want dependency. They were people who simply wanted the chance to make a contribution to society. They were proud and wanted to stand on their own two feet. There were and are people who want to make a contribution. They are people with self worth and a lot to offer all of us who make up the fabric of Yukon society and, indeed, all Canadians.
They have their contribution to make to the nation. These people are hurt. The Member for Watson Lake was not playing politics last night when he expressed his dismay over the way he was treated by the Government Leader in the House or the way the workers of Watson Lake were disparaged to save the political skin of the side opposite. He was not grandstanding. He reflects the feeling of a lot of the workers in Watson Lake toward those comments. The government was desperate and looking anywhere for a buyer. They got one just before the election and announced a sale before the election was called.
During the election, it promised full disclosure. Closing was held on February 21. The election was held on February 20. I know that I did not come down the Yukon River in the springtime on a bicycle. It was February 21, and we still did not have full disclosure.
The people have the right to know what happened. They have a right to know what the books contain. They have a right to see the documents of the sale. It was their asset and their company. The people of Watson Lake have the right to know the details of the sale, a right to know their future.
People have built homes in Watson Lake and moved their families there, people who do not want government handouts, do not want social welfare, do not want socialism, but want the chance to work as proud workers to build a future for themselves and for their families and to make Yukon a better place to live. The people in Watson Lake deserve the facts. The people of the territory deserve the facts. When all the smoke clears and a fresh wind blows in from the west, we must all realize that the public has the right to know.
Speaker: The hon. Member will close debate if he now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I want to thank the Leader of the Official Opposition. He did a very good job presenting a very bad case. He began his speech by saying that he was puzzled and that he was confused. I think that describes his attitude on this question very well.
What we have is a crisis that the government responded to with some difficult decisions at considerable cost, but with substantial long term benefit to the community of Watson Lake. What the Leader of the Official Opposition and what the Conservative Opposition cannot decide is whether they are for what we did or against what we did. They have consistently tried to have it both ways.
They have said one thing about this initiative in Watson Lake and another thing in Whitehorse. They have been for it there, and have managed to sound like they were pretty negative about it here. They are going to vote for the motion but, as the Leader of the Official Opposition made it quite clear minutes ago, they had been opposed to public ownership of this mill from the beginning. He quoted himself from Hansard, from his press statement on that score.
They say that they are in favour of private management, but they have totally contradicted themselves throughout this debate. Some Members have even done it within their own speeches. They have said earlier on in the debate that we should have monitored the managers more, we should have taken a closer look at the operation, we should have been on top of things, we should have been doing hourly, daily and weekly checks on what was happening - and we should not have interfered. We should have had hands on and hands off. Had we accepted their recommendations on this score we should have been totally, completely and certifiably schizophrenic.
They are for the mill but against the costs, for the benefits but against the costs. The government did a bad job and they would have done a better job. They would have done a better job because they would have done no job at all.
The nub of this question is that, notwithstanding the assertion of the Member for Riverdale North, there was no private sector operator available who was willing to open the mill, invest in the mill and get that mill running again. There was a bidder for the assets who was interested in the timber, but there was no one - no one - interested in operating the mill. That was a fact.
The Leader of the Official Opposition has said that their position - and he quoted his own press release - was the re-opening of the mill by the private sector. That is very easy to say, very easy to say, especially since there was no private sector operator on the horizon who was the slightest bit interested in operating the mill and making the necessary investment to put the people of Watson Lake back to work.
We are here today, at this moment, going on to 4:00 p.m. on March 30, 1989, being accountable for what we have done and for what it has cost to do what we did. The Members opposite are now trying to claim that they were with us all along. Just ignore the fact that the only contribution to the discussion of this operation was consistent sniping from the side lines. There was not one constructive word, not one positive comment, not one supportive suggestion from any of them, but they were with us - until we had some losses. What we still do not know is what the Tories would have done in the situation at Watson Lake. I think I know, and I think the Member from Mayo knows, because we have been here long enough to see what they have done with other communities that have been in crisis. They would have blamed someone else. They would have blamed Ottawa. They would have said there would have been nothing to do, because it was not their problem. In Elsa it was Falconbridges problem; in Faro, it was a federal problem.
Even now, the Leader of the Official Opposition cannot summon the intelligence or fair mindedness to make one single constructive observation about the very powerful and major contribution this government made to the opening of the mine at Faro, and in fact, notwithstanding what he said, the leadership role that this government played. Michael Wilson said to us very clearly, You guys are up front; we are last in. That is a fact.
We still do not know what the Tories would have done. Even out of their own mouths in the last two days we have not heard an intelligent proposition from them. Even in retrospect, even with the advantage of being able to rewrite history, we would not know what they would have done. We have heard the interfering suggestions and the non-interfering suggestions. I have been quoted from press releases. I freely admit to saying those things, and I quoted reports that the Members were kind enough to mention - expert reports from leading consultants in this nation. We took that advice. We took their advice on how the mill should be operated and how it should be managed. We do not know yet how the Tories would have managed the mill. Would they have hired management? Would they have interfered on a daily basis as suggested by some, or would they have had, as proposed by others, a totally hands-off approach - let them go to it and we will take the consequences down the road. Would they have had a private manager or a public manager or would they have hired one of their friends? We do not know.
One of the Members said we should have bought a mill. What kind of mill? Expert advice said we should not buy a new mill, and you certainly should not buy a mill until you know what kind of market you are trying to supply.
And that if we had bought a mill, even now, the new purchasers have said, we would have been in an awful position of trying, having invested several million dollars in a new mill, to then sell that company based on a certain kind of massive capital investment that might be entirely inappropriate for the new owners needs.
The vote that we are going to have in a few minutes here may not tell the full story, because the Leader of the Official Opposition has said, very clearly, what the Conservative position is. He has said that the Government of Yukon should not have become involved. They should not have owned this mill. We should not have taken this initiative. Since there was no one else prepared to take this initiative, he is, in effect, saying that nothing should have been done. That is exactly what he is saying, because his position is that it should have been done by the private sector. That is the position of the Conservative Party. They cannot escape that because they are on the record.
I want to take a few minutes to rebut or respond or otherwise comment on some of the other things that have been said in this debate.
During Public Accounts Committee, I am going to look forward to dealing with Mr. Phillipss charge that extra jobs were taken on at the insistence of the Development Corporation or some politicians interference. Nothing could be more false. The jobs that were created were at the initiative of the manager. I look forward to discussion in that matter, because I do not like false accusations based on no evidence about actions based on political motivations, which are totally false, especially when the Member has no evidence. In fact, all the evidence is quite to the contrary.
We have heard a lot of rhetoric about open books and closed government. We have heard a lot of rhetoric about public accounts. We have heard lawyers in this House saying that we should make commercial transactions public. Interestingly enough, people are commenting on these remarks in the street. After yesterdays debate, I ran into a lawyer who was appalled that a lawyer would make the suggestion that this government could legally or ethically expose the private business of a third party, in a debate in this House, without their consent.
We went through this before when the Members opposite were trying to throw cold water on the Faro deal. When they were trying to create uncertainty and doubt on that they did the same thing. We faced the issue then and we reported to the House what, as I understand, is the convention and law about commercial confidences. Having argued it a bit, it was conceded. But yesterday, we heard an argument again that we should establish a new principle here. The private business of somebody who has some transactions, even with a Crown corporation operating in a commercial environment, should be exposed to public scrutiny in this House. That warrants further debate.
On the question of the supposedly closed government: I have already given an undertaking that Development Corporation officials will appear at the appropriate moment in the discussion of the Main Estimates to answer questions before the bar of this House. I want to remind Members opposite that, in very similar circumstances when they were government and we were Opposition, they absolutely refused such a request.
They absolutely refused. I want to remind them that we are very happy to have these matters, including some of the items raised by the Member for Watson Lake last night, discussed before the Public Accounts Committee.
We are having this debate today, and this debate is a very useful debate for a number of reasons, not for the curious kind of speculation that the Leader of the Opposition raised. This debate is an opportunity for individual Members to make a statement about this matter, and, indeed, the House as a whole. The Members opposite, for, I am sure, local political reasons in Watson Lake, say that they are going to vote for this motion. Yet they have insistently made clear that on every question of judgment about whether the government should have been involved or not, about whether or not the government should have taken ownership, and put back the mill back to work, they have great doubts. Indeed, the Leader of the Opposition has said today, and repeated today, that it should have been left to the private sector, no matter how long that took.
The question has been raised about why I went to Watson Lake to announce losses. The Leader of the Opposition did not suggest that I was hopelessly masochistic or incredibly politically dumb to do this; he suggested that somehow - perhaps he is, in a backhanded way, giving me some kind of perverse credit - that I was Machiavellian or sinister. I went to Watson Lake to make the announcement about the losses because I knew that, with the help of our friends opposite, great uncertainty would follow from that announcement in the community of Watson Lake among the employees and business community and, indeed, I suspect in the territory as a whole about the future of mill, over whether or not we would have the guts, in the face in the inevitable criticism from the Members opposite, to stay with the project, whether or not we would have faith in the future of the mill, notwithstanding its difficulties.
I went to the mill and met with the employees, and I went to a public meeting in the town to say, We do not like these losses and we are going to do what we can prudently can, as the owner of the mill, to turn it around. The Government of the Yukon is committed to seeing this mill back on its feet. We believe in the future of the forest industry and we want to keep the jobs.
We could have done the quick and easy thing. The Member talks about private sector virtues and there are some virtues in private sector management, but what would they have done? They would have laid off most of the workers; they might even have shut it down for a period of time. We have, and I said this in my opening speech, a different bottom line. The Members opposite are entirely, and solely, obsessed with the dollars and cents. Our concern was about the jobs, the mill, the industry, the town - those social and economic purposes, which were our guiding considerations.
The Leader of the Opposition then made much of the fact that I personally did not make the losses of the mill public in May or April of the year in question. I am sure he knows that the act in question requires that the audited financial statement be presented to the Minister on June 30 following the closing of the year on March 31. I believe he may know that I did not get the report until that time.
There has been no comment on it, even now, and we believe he knows that the numbers we have been talking about in terms of the losses are not audited. They will be. There will be an accounting before the Public Accounts Committee about that.
I understand that the Leader of the Official Opposition has said in the media that the government will not even get the money back from the mill, that the losses from Hyland will be way more than they are and that the money that the Development Corporation is to receive from the mill will be worthless if the mill continues to lose money.
That is wrong. Even under the worst-case scenario, the favorite scenario of the Leader of the Official Opposition, the Chicken Little scenario, the doom and gloom scenario, the end of the world scenario, YDC will receive $800,000 in four equal installments from Yukon Pacific for the power house. We will receive within this year the $1.65 million from the logs, whether or not the mill makes money. We intend to receive from the Indian consortium the $1.6 million for their shares. All of this money will be paid whether or not the mill makes a profit.
I would like to say something about the very interesting comments made last night by the Member for Watson Lake. I appreciate his on-the-ground knowledge of the operations of the mill, and his unique experience, in the House, on that score. I would remind him, and I am sure he knows this but just expressed himself badly, that the Development Corporation never intended to undertake direct management of the sawmill from Whitehorse. For that reason the board sought expert assistance from the private sector, and it considered competing management proposals in response to the boards search. Two of those proposals came from large British Columbia forestry firms. Mr. Sigalet was selected on the basis of excellent references.
I am interested that the Member for Watson Lake, having told us that he was a senior member of Hylands management team at the time of certain disasters that he described, did not feel that he had any obligation to bring them to the attention of the owner. I felt that the Member was as inconsistent as his colleagues when, on the one hand he talked about the Development Corporation interfering, and on the other hand said that the Development Corporation did not take an active enough role. He is saying that in effect he was a senior manager and he was aware that information was being withheld from the owners and directors, but he did not take responsibility for that.
The projections and plans for the operation of the mill were, as I am sure that Member knows, developed by the private sector manager, were reviewed by the corporations board of directors, and, within the context of the business plans approved as a result of that process. The day to day management of the operation resided solely with the on-site management.
There are several specific allegations that were made during last nights debate. I am sure they will be explored further.
I would not want to comment on some of the allegations about training. There is an allegation that a native training program was approved by a local committee but turned down by the Yukon Development Corporation. That is false. There was no local committee in a position to approve funding under a training program. Both the Watson Lake Community Advisory Committee, which we set up to give us local advice on the operation, and the Development Corporation board wanted to assess what funds were available. Applications were made to DIAND for on-the-job training for native people, dependent upon the availability of funds. The Member will know that accounting training for office staff was assisted by the Canada-Yukon Small Business Training Program and apprenticeships were funded by Canada Employment and Immigration, under the Skills Shortage Program. There were also lumber grading and industrial first aid courses offered in Watson Lake.
There was discussion about the log inventory. I am sure that the Member for Watson Lake knows that Hyland initially logged intensively on the British Columbia lease in order to maximize the return on its time-limited access, and that the timber harvesting was based on the managers projections of production, and the specific recommendations of the management as to the log inventory required to meet those projects. Had those projections been met, the inventory would have been fully utilized. The production levels were not realized and I think the logging was then halted.
There was an allegation yesterday that logs were sold for firewood. Public access to the mill was restricted as a matter of security and public safety, but access was permitted to an individual who was allowed to cut waste timber from the yard and sell it to the public. The criticism that we have heard from that community comes from the fact that the wood was not generally available to anyone who just wanted it, but was sold for that purpose.
If the Member for Porter Creek East had been listening he would have heard that it was waste wood.
The Member for Porter Creek East also alleged that a large proportion of Hyland timber was milled in a mill other than at Hyland. The facts are that the timber cut under this contract was for a specific sales order, which was for mine timbers, which were cut on a piecework rate at a time when the Hyland mill had been set up to cut dimension lumber for export. The management had advised that dimension lumber had a higher value added than the mine timber contract and consequently the decision was made to continue cutting export dimension lumber in the Hyland mill and to contract out the other job.
I wanted to say something about the timing of some of these events and the transaction that saw the mill sold to new owners. Members will recall that in December of 1986, the Supreme Court was dealing with the sale of these assets following the bankruptcy. That is when the Yukon Development Corporation put in a successful bid for the assets.
There was a contract given to Jack Sigalet and Associates in January. In late May, the mill was officially opened and named Hyland Forest Products. In June, Mr. Sigalet left the management of the company and, in July, 1988, a new manager was brought in.
It was last fall when the board began to receive serious offers for the sale of the company, and an initial agreement was reached in January, which was concluded in late February. I would have loved to have convenienced the Members opposite and had the closing on February 19, or February 17, but that is not the way it happened. I am sorry for that, but I was not at the table for the closing, and I could not speed things along.
I am here to account for the transaction. The Member for Porter Creek East would never admit responsibility for anything, not even the $12 million sewer system he screwed up in Dawson City. I understand it was built because the old one was beginning to cost too much, and his new system cost twice as much to build and operate. That was one of his wonderful achievements.
The assets of Hyland Forest Products were sold to the new company for $5.7 million. The new company received cash from the Development Corporation and from the Shieldings group, and shares were issued to each of those new partners. The new company will receive additional cash of $1.6 million from Shieldings for its shares, and the Development Corporation exchanges debt owed by the new company to the Development Corporation for shares.
In turn, the Development Corporation is selling shares to the Indian consortium. The total sold was equal to $1.4 million. The balance of the Development Corporations shares will be held in anticipation of a sale to employees, something I would hope will be transacted fairly soon. The final share ownership of the proposal is: 50 percent Shieldings, a well established national company; 35 percent to the Indian consortium; and 15 percent to the employees.
A new mill will be constructed at an estimated cost of $6 million. I believe that it has the strong possibility of being a very successful operation. This government is participating in operating a temporary mill while the new mill is being built, and we have also made a commitment to help with the training of new people. I believe the jobs that will result from the new mill will be much better, higher quality jobs and there will be more job satisfaction.
As painful as these losses are, and we cannot but regret the operating losses of the mill, - and this is not based on any consultants reports - it is my personal hope, that five or 10 years from now, we will not only have a new and profitable forest products operation in Watson Lake, but we will have good, secure, sustainable jobs for the people of that community. These are jobs for which we will help train people. It is my hope that we will have a very thriving forestry sector in the Yukon economy. It will be something that will be a credit to the people of Watson Lake and to the territory.
I predict that even if that happens and there is a good mill producing a quality product and dozens of people in Watson Lake are working and that the forestry industry is well established in the Yukon Territory, the position of the Members opposite will still be that we sure screwed up. Boy, what a disaster that was, losing $6,000,000.
I am not happy at all about the operating losses of the mill. I am very very unhappy about it and I have made that clear from the beginning. But I believe profoundly that the decision that we took and the risk we took, without any encouragement or support from the Members opposite, to buy that mill, put it back on its feet, get the product back on the market and get people in Watson Lake working, was the right one. I believe that time will prove that even if todays debate has not convinced everybody here today.
Speaker: Division has been called.
THAT this House commends the Government of Yukon for re-opening the sawmill operation at Watson Lake, known as Hyland Forest Products. (Amended on March 29, 1989 by addition of the following)
THAT, due to the financial losses incurred by Hyland Forest Products since the re-opening, the financial operations of Hyland Forest Products be referred to the Public Accounts Committee; and
THAT the Public Accounts Committee report any findings and recommendations to the Assembly in its next report.
Mr. Clerk, would you please poll the House?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Agreed.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Agreed.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Agreed.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Agreed.
Hon. Ms. Joe: Agreed.
Mr. Joe: Agreed.
Ms. Kassi: Agreed.
Ms. Hayden: Agreed.
Mr. Phelps: Agreed.
Mr. Brewster: Agreed.
Mr. Phillips: Agreed.
Mr. Lang: Agreed.
Mrs. Firth: Agreed.
Mr. Nordling: Agreed.
Mr. Devries: Agreed.
Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 15 yea, nil nay.
Speaker: The yeas have it. I declare the amended motion carried.
Motion No. 24 agreed to as amended
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: Committee of the Whole will now come to order. We will have a brief recess at this time.
Bill No. 33: Third Appropriation Act, 1988-89 - continued
Chair: Committee of the Whole will now come to order. We are on Bill No. 33, Third Appropriation Act, 1988-89, Government Services O&M, on page 36, Property Management.
On property management - continued
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Before we clear this item, I just want to advise Madam Chair that, during Question Period, I inadvertently said that I had tabled a return that I indeed had not. It was an unintentional error on my part, so I would like to circulate that. It relates to a Community and Transportation Services matter.
With respect to Government Services, I believe the items in the Budget book are fairly well cleared away, but I believe the Member for Riverdale South had raised some questions during a subsequent Question Period, and the Minister of Finance and myself responded to a number of questions that the Member had been raising. I would invite the Member to place any further questions she has.
Mrs. Firth: I still am concerned about the contradictory statements. The former Minister stated emphatically that there was no money in the budget for the Old Yukon College, and, yet, this Minister is coming and saying that there was $700,000. It is on page 46. I can appreciate that decisions were made after the budget, but it is still a contradiction. If there was a change of direction and there was a reallocation of funds, I think that should have been brought forward in this Supplementary Estimate.
I guess I would like to know the fact that $700,000 had been spent for the renovations of the Old Yukon College was not brought out in this Supplementary Estimate, and I will have further questions after I get an answer to that.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I hope the Member will appreciate that I am attempting to answer the question as informatively as possible. The question she raises about why it was not brought forward in this particular Supplementary is a simple matter of budgeting practice. The issue of the expenditure on the Old Yukon College was a decision that was taken following the calculation made at period six in estimating the required funds for the balance of the year.
At the same time, the previous Minister, when he spoke to the Budget a year ago, did not portray any inaccurate information. At that time, there was no intention to expend because there was no known amount of what would be spent, nor any final decision about what would be done with the college. So that does not place into contradiction anything that the previous Minister would have said. At the same time, there is no contradiction with respect to the Budget, because, at the time that the Supplementary was prepared, there was no decision taken again with respect to the college or any firm plan.
The Member will recall that two weeks ago I tabled all the reports related to the studies done on the college. In those studies, various information was presented about possible uses. The decision made to renovate the college and accommodate the Child Development Centre under Renewable Resources was taken subsequent to those reports and to this Supplementary.
As for the authority for it all, I think the Minister of Finance in Question Period the other day, as well as the comments that I presented to the Member previously, spoke to that issue. The vote authority is there. It is contained within the capital side of the Budget. There is no change to those appropriations, the $700,000 was totally and clearly within available funds in the department. There was no change to the Budget and therefore no change is presented in here.
Mr. Lang: How can the Minister stand and say that? We were told in this House by the government that there was no money allocated for the purposes of renovating the Old Yukon College. Not once, but three times. Now is the Minister telling us that you can lie as much as you want in this House and there is no recourse? Is that what the Minister is saying? Are we going through an exercise where you, say, vote $330,000 in the area of government supplies, outline where the money is going to be spent, but then feel that you have the legislative authority to, instead of buying six vehicles, go and take your friends to lunch?
The point my colleague is making is that we were told, not once, but three times, that there is no money in the Budget for the project that you presently have underway. The question then is why were we lied to? We must have been. Hansard does not lie and the question was put not once, but three times. I do not understand how the Minister can stand here and tell us that there is nothing different from what you were told eight or 13 months ago.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I resent the implication by the Member that there is a lie taking place. The Hansard record shows that at the time the previous Minister was speaking, he spoke according to the situation at that time. At that time, there was no intention to expend any money. There was no intention to expend on a program for college renovations. The vote authority exists to reallocate funds according to the changing needs of the government and the public. The government has that authority under the strict rules of the Financial Administration Act and the directives that fall within. I explained to the Members that there was nothing inaccurate at that time. There were reports that I have tabled that appeared since then repeating that no decision was taken with respect to renovations of the college during the course of time following the Capital Mains. This Supplementary reflects an estimated budget requirement of the government to the end of the fiscal year. At the time it was presented, which reflects a period six estimate, there was no decision taken with respect to the college renovations.
When I spoke to this, I identified that there was $700,000 on the capital side from internal reallocation. This is fully and totally within the authority of the vote.
I fail to understand what the Members are precisely trying to pin down. We are talking about a capital budget that provided a certain authority. Within that authority exists the governments right to reallocate funds according to the need of the day. It was done all within the scope and breadth and legality of the Financial Administration Act. There was nothing inappropriate reflected here.
Mrs. Firth: We asked the previous Minister specifically about this issue and project. He said that there was no money in the budget for it. The new Minister came in and said on page 46 that there was $700,000 for the Old Yukon College. That is exactly what was said. It is right here in Hansard. The Minister said the money was there, not the authority. He said there was $700,000 identified in the Budget on page 46 for the renovations to the Old Yukon College. That was a contradiction of what the previous Minister had said. I could not believe my ears. I had been told three times by the previous Minister that there was no money in there.
The purpose of the Supplementaries is to bring information to the House and to the Legislature to get proper vote authority and legislative approval for expenditures of funds.
I can appreciate what the Minister is saying. I could have accepted his story that they had moved money around if the Supplementary Estimate had come back with further detailed information. If, like the Department of Education, he brings in all their projects, he shows where they have turned money back, he shows if there were other projects or revotes he had put it in, but there was nothing done for this in Government Services. Where does he get $700,000 to proceed with Old Yukon College renovations? There must have been some projects within Government Services that had money turned back. There is nothing here to reflect that. Of course I am going to raise questions about it. We want to know where it is. This has been a public issue of some controversy and debate. I would have expected the government to have their books in order and have an explanation for it - not to come in with two completely different statements.
The Minister, in an effort to try to save himself in Question Period yesterday, made the comment that maybe there would be another supplementary to reflect it. We are not going to do that; we are moving into the Main Estimates where the government is asking for $1.775 million, and they have put an asterisk to indicate $700,000 of this is for 1988-89. What does that mean? Does that mean they are asking for $1.5 million and are asking us to vote retroactively on an amount of money? We are not allowed to do that. I have never heard of an auditing or accounting practice that would accept that as legitimate. I am not raising these questions to be picayune, and I know I am not going to get any answers, but it has to be stated for the record.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I want to clarify the matter of the $700,000 and the authority from where it came. I understand part of the Members consternation. If I implied to the Member that the money was originally identified in the Capital buildings maintenance vote authority at the time the Budget was originally presented, that was not the impression I intended to leave.
The explanation I was providing to the Member was in response to her questioning of the authority to find $700,000, and that was the explanation I provided. The $700,000 came from that authority, and it was a change that took place very late in the year, I gather from the history of the developments. I hope that will clarify what the Member perceives as a contradiction.
I will put into circulation a detail of where the $700,000 was identified within that vote authority and what projects were not completed.
The Member asks why it was in the Supplementaries. I cannot answer that. I am sure the Member can appreciate that I was running a hotel at the time all of this was taking place. I will put into circulation the details pertaining to where the money came from. I hope I clarified for the Member the business of the authority surrounding the $700,000 versus the specific program at the time the original Capital Estimate was tabled.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps the Minister has learned a lesson from this whole incident. Yesterday, I laid my case out very clearly in Question Period that there was information that had been brought to this House. The Minister specifically said in Hansard on March 28 that there was $700,000 set aside for that purpose, which was the renovations at the Old Yukon College. It is pretty conclusive that there was money set aside for the purpose of renovations to the Old Yukon College.
At that time, he was prompted by his colleague, the Minister of Finance, who said there was no misinformation. Obviously, there was, and the Minister has acceded to that now and said it was not his intention to misinform the House. I feel confident it was not his intention.
However, it distresses me that we have to pick and trap to get accurate information. I find it frustrating. I was not making an accusation about misinformation to have the Minister kicked out of his seat. I wanted to get the facts straight. I was not questioning the legality or the vote authority in that context. I know how much maneuverability there is within the department. I was trying to get the facts straight so we could see where we were being asked to vote for this money. It is still not finished, because we still have to proceed with the Main Estimates to find out what that story is all about.
I understand the maneuverability of the department to move money from one project to another. I would have expected to see a capital line in the Supplementary Estimates stating that money had been changed from these projects that had been turned back and, therefore, they had money to do the renovations to the college. It was a decision that was made late.
We had this announcement made twice publicly about the Old Yukon College renovations. The government gets offended when we make accusations about political points and expediency. This decision was made just before the election was called. It was on January 5 that the big announcement was made about the Child Development Centre.
I can appreciate the governments ability to move money, but let us be open and honest with the public. If we are going to make decisions and change our minds about expenditures and funds, it should be publicly declared. If I have to resort to Question Period to ask a question, I would expect an honest answer and little interference from the other Ministers so we can get the record straight and do not have to prolong debate to try to get the straight facts out of the Ministers.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am sure the Member realizes that, in the explanation of the $700,000, the authority for that was being addressed. The Member is pushing the issue a little unnecessarily with respect to what a previous Minister may have said and what has taken place now. I think the Member fully appreciates how government needs change. I am sure the Member appreciates the timing related to this Supplementary. I am sure the Member appreciates the reports and studies that have been done on the college, reflecting the assessment for that building and, more precisely, what to do.
I trust that the Member does not have any further questions, that everything is cleared up and everything is appropriately and correctly within the authorities and the Budget.
Mrs. Firth: I would appeal to the Minister to bring one report or study here that was done to review the options that were available for that buildings use, other than the predetermined, previously made up mind of the previous Minister as to what the building was going to be used for.
We had tabled in this House a bunch of reports that talked only about that building being used for government office space. It was going to cost anywhere from $8,000,000 to $13,000,000. There was not one document tabled in this House as to whether there were some other options for that building, whether the city had been approached, whether there was some potential that it could be used as a tourist attraction or as a convention centre, and I would bet there was no analysis done about it being used as a Child Development Centre either. If there was, no one was consulted, because the Child Development Centre people were called up and said Guess what, everybody, you are going to get a new home for the centre. They had made previous requests that they wanted new facilities. They had never participated in any consultations or discussions as to what kind of new facility. All of a sudden, this was just dropped in their lap, just prior to the election.
So where is all the documentation showing that the preferred usage of that building was for government office space? There is not any. The previous Minister wanted it used for government office space and put out contracts for 14 different ways that it could be made into office space. This is the documentation that this new Minister tabled in the House in response to our motion for the production of papers.
Do not tell me I am being overly sensitive about it. It has been a sensitive issue with the public for a long time now. I have been following through all this talk of there being no money in the Budget for it. I have been following through the $8,000,000 for the renovations to the office space and I have been following it through the $5,500,000 for the Child Development Centre. All I am asking the government for is a proper, truthful accounting. That is all we have been asking for.
The Minister says these projects are completed and we have this money left over so we decided to do the Old Yukon College. That is fine. I will accept that as an explanation. But do not try to stand there and tell us that we are being picky or obstructive or that I do not understand the Financial Administration Act or that we are confused or some other stupid, silly thing.
Mr. Lang: I would like to ask the Minister a question. Before reviewing Government Services, we went through the Supplementaries on the Department of Community and Transportation Services. At that time, you made a commitment to me that the questions that I asked at that time would be answered shortly after we got back from spring break. I am just wondering if the Minister is going to be able to table that information in the next little while, so I have the opportunity to study it prior to getting into the Main Estimates.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not sure precisely which issues and questions the Member is referring to, but I know that I have considerable information that I am reviewing for the House. I did table one today that I thought I already had tabled. Certainly I expect that by early next week I will have most of that information to forward to the Member.
Mr. Lang: Another area of major interest to us is, of course, the question of the contracts that have not been publicly tendered. I wrote a letter to the Minister and just got a response in respect to when we would expect the book of the untendered contracts to be tabled in this House. I want to point out to the Minister that, in his reply, he indicated it may be as late as mid April.
Now it is not our intention to hold up the proceedings of the House, but it is going to make it very difficult for us to expedite the process of the House without the necessary information being made available. I just want to refresh the Ministers memory. When we had the information given to us by the previous Minister, - much to his reluctance - we did manage to get it in the first week in April.
My understanding is that it is just a question of pushing a button, and in fact it probably has already been pushed, and that information is made available and it is all programmed. I would like to ask the Minister if he can make every effort to see whether or not he can have that information toward the middle of next week. There is no reason why he cannot.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Again, I hope the Member will appreciate that I am a new Minister, and I am dealing with matters that took place over the course of the past year. I am sure the Member, in light of the Old Yukon College discussion, would appreciate that I would like to know as much as possible about information that I am providing to the Members opposite. I expect to review the contracts quite closely, and only when I get them. I understand that will not be until well into the first week of April, and I expect to table them shortly thereafter.
Mr. Lang: You have gone the country mile beyond the previous Minister. What are you going to do? Censor them? This is information that could have been made available, quite frankly, on a monthly basis to us with a print out. I notice the Government Leader whispering to him. Is there something in there he does not want publicly discussed?
I would like to ask the Minister this ...
Chair: Order, please. Would you let the Member finish?
Mr. Lang: The Government Leader is trying to rewrite history, as he continuously does, and if he checks the record, he will find that he very seldom asks about any contract, in fact he very seldom asked about financial management in the few years he was in Opposition. I would like to ask the Minister this, and I will give him fair notice. When we get back here on Monday, I am going to be asking some very direct questions in respect to that information being made public as soon as possible. I am going to object strenuously if it is the Ministers position that he is going to hold back on that information that should be made public as soon as it is prepared, so that he has the opportunity to study it at his leisure. I want to say that is the publics right to know. I am putting the Minister on notice that we expect to have that information early next week and there is no reason not to have it, because the information is there and it can be made available.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I want to agree with the Member that it is the publics right to know and the public will know in detail the entire scope of the contracts. I do want the Member to remember that when he was Minister and I sat where he sat, he provided nothing. This government has bent over backwards a thousand times to provide information to the Members opposite, as I have already in my short tenure. There is no question about providing information. I want the Member to get off his high horse about the provision of information for public review because this side gives it.
Mr. Lang: I just want to give the Minister notice. We can carry this debate on for weeks. All we want is the information. We know it is there and that it is a question of pushing the button. It is not any big deal as far as the way the governments computers are geared up. We went into this debate for days before the government conceded that we should have that information.
I heard the Government Leader say that this is nothing that the previous government did not do. We are talking five years ago. Firstly, he never asked for the information. It is pretty tough to provide something that is not asked for.
I just want to put the Minister on notice. We are not talking about only a couple of thousand dollars. We are talking a couple of million or even more. This should be reviewed. How is it being expended? It is very simple. I do not think it is anything the government should be defensive about. They signed the contracts. They know what they are for. There is no reason anyone should be defensive about them being discussed in the public domain. It is not your money. It is the publics money.
I would like to move on to another item of business that is more of a constituency one, but that perhaps reflects the intervention of the government and the fact that money is perhaps not being spent the way it should be. I wrote a letter sometime ago on behalf of constituents of mine who are in business with as a locksmith service. In fairness to the Minister of Government Services, he was very congenial and said he would look into it to find out what the concerns are. I explained in my letter and verbally that the concern was that any time keys had to be cut or locks changed, the government should go to the various locksmith services in town, which are small private business.
I asked in that letter if it was true that the government was buying a key-cutting machine? Why did the government buy that machine?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member and I did have a discussion following this letter. I approached him about it. I sought the information and this afternoon I reminded the department that I had not received the information. I will have it, at the latest, tomorrow.
Mr. Lang: With all deference to the Minister, I will let him follow it up. My information is that you are now in the key-cutting business, and I want a full explanation on Monday why we are getting into another area of small business.
Chair: Is there any further debate on property management?
Property Management in the amount of $905,000 agreed to
Total in the amount of $1,213,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move you report progress on Bill No. 33.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Chair: It has been moved that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole?
Ms. Kassi: Mr. Speaker, Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 33, Third Appropriation Act, 1988-89 and directs me to report progress on same.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move 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 stand adjourned to 1:30 p.m. Monday next.
The House adjourned at 5:25 p.m.
The following Legislative Returns were tabled on March 29, 1989:
Hyland Forest Products sale - $2 million investment by Shieldings (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 102
Hyland Forest Products sale - financial commitment by Shieldings (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 102
Hyland Forest Products sale - who will pay for and own new mill (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 103
Size of Fire Hall Garage Doors - Keno Hill (Byblow)
Oral, Hansard, p. 95