Wednesday, February 14, 1990 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time, we will proceed with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Announcement about fur vote in Aspen, Colorado
Mr. Phillips: I rise today, Valentines Day, to bring some information to the House, which is good news for the Yukon. Yesterday, in Aspen, Colorado, a vote took place regarding the ban of fur sales. I am pleased to say that the people of Aspen, Colorado rejected the question by a two to one margin. There were 1701 voters who voted against it, and 898 for it.
Speaker: Are there any Returns or Documents for Tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Ms. Joe: I have for tabling the annual report from the Yukon Advisory on Womens Issues.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills.
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Notices of Motion.
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I would like to take this as my first opportunity to advise Members that the Yukon is currently host to 235 reindeer from the Tuktoyaktuk herd, which are in transit to a purchaser in Alaska.
The shipment of reindeer, under the supervision of Agriculture Canada veterinarian Al Chambers, left Inuvik on January 27 and 28, and were unloaded at the Circle P Ranch on the Mayo Road on Tuesday, January 30. The reindeer are in quarantine at this location.
Subsequent to their arrival and containment within secure game fences at this facility, blood samples were taken of the reindeer as a check against any communicable diseases.
Late yesterday, I was informed that 33 of the 235 reindeer have tested positive for brucellosis. The strain of this disease is suspected to be brucella suis biotype 4, which occurs primarily in caribou and reindeer.
Agriculture Canada, which has a responsibility for this testing and eradication of this disease, is making arrangements to isolate the 33 infected animals and ship them to Dawson Creek for destruction. At that time, it will be possible to determine the strain of brucellosis that is involved.
The balance of the reindeer will remain in quarantine and will again be tested for the presence of brucellosis. When the herd has received a clean bill of health, it will be shipped to its destination in Alaska.
I would like to assure Members that no Yukon animals, wild or domestic, have been exposed to the infected animals. Other livestock at the Mayo Road facility are contained in separate paddocks and have not been in contact with the reindeer.
Once the reindeer have been shipped, no other animals will be permitted in the enclosure that they have used until Agriculture Canada and my officials are absolutely confident that there is no risk of infection to other animals that may use the site in the future.
This shipment of reindeer from the Tuktoyaktuk herd is not the first to enter the Yukon, but it is the only one that has tested positive for brucellosis. The reindeer at the Yukon Reindeer Farm came from the same herd, which were tested for brucellosis when they were imported and received a completely clean bill of health. Those animals remain healthy.
Officials of Agriculture Canada and my department are monitoring the situation very carefully. The fact that the infected animals have not been, and will not be, allowed in contact with any Yukon domestic stock or wild animals means that they pose no risk to Yukon animal health.
In the future, reindeer will have to have a clean bill of health before Agriculture Canada will sanction any shipments from the Tuktoyaktuk herd. Agriculture Canada has advised us that the owners of the Tuktoyaktuk herd will be required to provide inspection facilities on site in the Northwest Territories.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Agriculture Canada for their supervision of this shipment, and for their cooperation in dealing with the problem which has arisen.
I have instructed officials in my department to advise the Yukon Game Growers Association, Yukon Livestock and Agriculture Association and the Yukon Fish and Game Association of the situation and the steps that Agriculture Canada, in conjunction with Yukon officials, has taken to deal with it. I would be pleased to advise Members of further developments in this situation as soon as I am made aware of them.
Mr. Lang: First, I want to point out that we never received a copy of the ministerial statement prior to the Minister giving it, which is contrary to the practices of this House, and is one I hope does not happen again.
We raised the concern approximately a week ago about diseased animals - and animals in general, not just reindeer. There is no policy in place providing for animals coming into or through the territory to be quarantined and checked to protect purchasers. I want to stress our dismay about the implications of bringing these animals in and the possible results.
I am not fully satisfied that the disease brought in by these 33 animals will not spread to other animals in areas along the Mayo Road. Only time will tell.
I want to impress upon the Minister, there must be a requirement that animals be checked at the borders to ensure that diseases are not being brought in. We have been expressing concern over the bison. We have been told it can take up to seven years to detect some of these diseases, because they can carry it for a period of time. It takes time to determine whether these animals are disease free.
We are pleased to see that in this particular case the animals will have to be quarantined in the Inuvik area prior to coming in. I want to impress upon the Minister how important it is that a policy be put in place so that there is a method of checking animals coming into or through the territory from Alaska, or down south, so that the Minister is not put into a position of having to notify the public, or people whose life investments have been affected because of negligence on the part of the Government of the Yukon Territory.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I want to thank the Member for his comments, and I want to apologize from the very start for not providing proper notice of this ministerial statement. I want to assure him that I just learned this information late yesterday afternoon, and this ministerial statement was just handed to me one minute before I arrived in the House this afternoon. It certainly was not by design that the Member opposite did not get notice of this statement.
I agree with the Member somewhat as to the potential seriousness of this situation. There should be some measures in place to ensure that animals being imported into the territory or transported through the territory are somehow checked to ensure they are not infected with some communicable disease. It is a serious matter; it was raised at a meeting of the Agricultural Planning Advisory Committee this past weekend; it was on their agenda. Our department is presently consulting with other jurisdictions to see what measures they have in place, apart from legislation, to do exactly that. As I mentioned, this matter is of concern to us, and we will be doing a great deal more work on it.
Speaker: This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Land claims
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions for the Minister responsible for land claims regarding the issue of land selection. As the Minister knows, there is some concern being expressed about the fairness of land selection in communities, and I think it is important to have an understanding about government policy in this regard. The federal government has frozen land claim interim selections on federal lands by order-in-council. I would like to know whether or not the YTG has frozen any interim selections on territorial lands.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As the Member, I believe, knows, there is no interim protection on land within the municipalities, and there have been no selections as such within municipalities, although the Member will be aware of interests that have been expressed by a number of first nations in some lands within some municipalities.
Mr. Phelps: I would like to know whether or not the territorial government intends to have a policy with regard to interim selection within municipalities or on territorial lands, that parallels the federal government policy, because it would seem to me that there is some urgency to a policy being adopted in this regard.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am not sure if I understand the Members point. Is the Member proposing that we should also have a land withdrawn within the municipalities where first nations have selected the land or asked for that land to be protected? Is that his representation?
Mr. Phelps: My representation is that there should be a parallel process whereby the public knows which land is frozen, or has some certainty which land might be protected at any given time, rather than the kind of guessing that is going on right now. If it is intended that the territorial government is going to be saying this land is not available or is available to individual applicants, it is far better to have everything on the table as soon as possible. There may be no such areas right now, but it seems there should be a policy whereby it is out in the open as to which areas are under interim protection and so that there is not this kind of speculation.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I think I understand the Members point. I want him to know why we cannot create a situation that is free from speculation. We are very shortly, we hope, going to get into negotiations in communities where this will happen. I think the Member will understand that, until the first nations make selections or proposed selections, the kind of protection he is contemplating for those lands while the negotiations are going on is not something we have been required to take up to now. Certainly, if that situation arises, we can, I am sure, have the means to act accordingly.
Question re: Land freeze
Mr. Phelps: To go on to the next related issue, again to clear the air: Does the YTG policy allow that government to freeze territorial lands on an interim basis and yet to develop those lands prior to a final settlement of land claims going through?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member is asking a general question and he may have in mind a specific situation. I do not know that for sure but if a first nation has expressed an interest in a piece of land, then obviously we would be - if I can use this word in its proper sense - extremely conservative in the way in which we dealt with that particular piece of land. There are cases, one in particular of which I am aware, where developments were proceeding according to agreements between both the territorial and municipal government, where an interest has been subsequently expressed. We are attempting to deal with that through negotiation.
Mr. Phelps: I make the representation, I guess, in this question, that there ought to be a written policy with regard to these issues because obviously there is some concern out there. I strongly recommend, and ask if the Minister will prepare, a written policy that deals with the issue of developing land that may or may not be frozen, as well as putting forward measures for the interim protection of lands that clearly ought to be protected because they are seen as desirable by various first nations in the lands claims process.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will certainly take the proposal under advisement. Of course, I would be considering any such policy in cooperation with my colleague, the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, who is principally responsible for land disposition in this area.
I think I would want to say to the Member though, having said that I will look at it, that there is a strong likelihood that the situation, say, in Whitehorse, where there may be many competing interests around any particular piece of land, is not the same as the situation in perhaps even the rural municipalities in the Yukon Territory. While conceding that we have to have a policy on this, I think we also have to be in the position in negotiations to have enough flexibility to move expeditiously, not only to deal with problems but also to find solutions in this very important period in the next few months.
Mr. Phelps: I guess my concern is twofold. First of all there is the issue of ensuring that appropriate lands are protected where the selections are around the territory-owned lands, and secondly, that there is fairness in terms of every possible applicant being given the same story when applicants are applying for various kinds of lands within municipalities and on territorially-owned lands. The ad hoc kind of situation, where one official says, yes, you can have it, and the other official does not know, where one person is told one thing and the other person is told another thing, is not healthy in my view. I ask that this issue be addressed soon so that we do not have unnecessary problems surrounding land selection in the land claims process.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I want to say, sincerely, that I appreciate the represention of the Leader of the Opposition. I hope that he will understand that these are not the only representations that I have heard on the subject. We recently had a proposal that amounted to transferring all the territorial land to the municipality within the city boundaries, which, I have to tell them frankly, the Council for Yukon Indians did not regard as a helpful suggestion, for reasons I think will be clear to the Leader of the Opposition. I hope he will understand that, while I am taking his suggestions under advisement, I am getting advice from many quarters and we will be factoring that in, too.
Question re: Attorney General devolution
Mrs. Firth: Three years ago, the previous Minister of Justice led us to believe the transfer of the Attorney General office from the federal government to the responsibility of the territorial government was about to happen. Could the Minister update us on the status of that transfer?
Hon. Ms. Joe: Officials in my department have been meeting with federal officials in the last little while in regard to that transfer. We keep on top of the negotiations that are going on. I cannot tell the Member at this time when we expect that transfer to take place. The discussions are ongoing. My officials will continue to meet to talk about that transfer, and I would be prepared to continue to keep the House updated on that.
Mrs. Firth: On its list of priorities, where does this particular transfer come? It has been three years. Could the Minister enlighten us as to whether other transfers take precedence over this one? As the Minister of Justice, where does she feel this is on the list of priorities?
Hon. Ms. Joe: It is on the top of the list. I cannot tell her in what order. If it was not on the top of the list, there would not be ongoing discussions, and that is occurring and will continue to occur.
Mrs. Firth: It is very nice to say it is on the top of the list. The Minister of Health says the hospital transfer is on the top of the list, and the Minister of Finance talks about his formula financing agreement being on the top of the list. Obviously, all the Ministers are on top of one another and nothing is happening in the Yukon Territory with respect to the transfers.
We place a fairly high priority on this transfer. Could the Minister come back with a response from her department officials as to what they anticipate the timeline is for the transfer of this particular area?
Hon. Ms. Joe: As I said before, it is on the top of the list, along with other priorities. The discussions are ongoing. They will continue to be ongoing. There are certain things that have to be worked out, and you just cannot have one meeting and have a transfer.
I will let the Member know when our expectations for this are. I am sure the transfer will occur, and we will continue to deal with the issue.
Question re: Swedish economy
Mr. Phillips: My question is for the Minister who is at the top of the list, and that is the Government Leader. Today, we have learned of the imminent collapse of the Swedish economy. In the words of Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson, the Swedish economy is falling apart. A leading Swedish bank economist, Nils Lundgren, said what was known as the Swedish model is, on the whole, gone. This is just another sign.
Other reports say banks have been closed for 11 days, since 62,000 employees were locked out after a deadlock in wage negotiations. People are short of cash, the stock market is virtually inoperative, and many companies may soon be unable to pay their salaries and bills.
Last June, the Government Leader and his entourage travelled to Sweden to the tune of $43,000 to examine the Swedish economy. He returned with glowing accounts of the Swedish model. In a report tabled late this fall that tried to justify the trip, there was not one word about the failing Swedish economy. In fact, the report tells of a glowing story of Swedish success.
At the time of writing the report, was the Government Leader aware of the severe economic problems that were facing Sweden? Why was that not in the report as well?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: First of all, may I say on Valentines Day how handsome the Member across the way looks today, and congratulate him on the most convoluted question in the history of the Yukon Legislature.
First of all, the Nordic commission did not go to study the Swedish economy. We went to look at sustainable development in the northern parts of the Nordic countries. The people there are acknowledged world leaders in things like winter tourism, sustainable development, appropriate technology, use of local foods - a whole range of initiatives that I think are very useful for us and from which we could learn a great deal. They were described in the report.
Sweden is experiencing some interesting problems right now. I look forward to questions tomorrow from the Member on the problems that the British economy is having. Perhaps the next day, I will be asked some questions about the French and the day after that about the Japanese and Germans. I would be happy to talk about them. I do not have any ministerial responsibility for those. If we had the problems that Sweden has had, with a one percent unemployment rate, Canada might be very grateful.
Mr. Phillips: I would like to thank the Government Leader for his convoluted answer. Most people in the Yukon are questioning the most convoluted trick in the history of the Yukon Territory by the Members opposite.
The Yukon government report, prepared by the Government Leaders press secretary, which is titled, Sustainable Futures: Lessons from the Nordic Countries, makes the effort to describe the great stability the Swedish government has reached in its economy. There is nothing here about the problems they are experiencing in maintaining that economy.
If the Government Leader wanted to be accurate - and he accuses people in this House of not beening so - why did he not tell the whole truth in that report about the economy of Sweden? This report talks about the great economy of Sweden. The report was given to us about four months ago. There is not one word about the failing economy of Sweden. Why did the Minister neglect to tell the people of the Yukon the whole truth when he tabled this report?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member opposite is trying very hard, but failing utterly. The whole truth, and nothing but the truth, is that it was a report on sustainable futures, not only in Sweden, but in Norway, Sweden and Finland. The Member says that the report says nothing about the problems. In fact, the report alludes to the traditional problems that are discussed there about the size of the public sector. It talks a little about the problem of the tax burden in those countries.
It is interesting, because the tax burden is an adjustment of the previous tax system, as they prepare for the opening of Europe in 1992. That, I understand, is causing some of the problems that they are now experiencing. If I were responsible for discussing the whole Swedish economy, if I had the opportunity one day to write a whole book about that, I might be happy to discuss it with the Member. Clearly, he has been misinformed.
Mr. Phillips: It is nice to know that the Government of the Yukon is isolated. In the report, it says, Its political stability reflects the homogeneous nature of the Swedish society in a remarkable degree by which Swedes are able to reach consensus on major issues. The report today says that Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson said Thursday, The Swedish economy is falling apart, and this government will resign unless Parliament bans strikes and imposes a wage and price freeze.
How in the devil did the Government the of Yukon ever come to a consensus to put a sentence like this in there? They do not comment, anywhere in this report, on the failing economy of Sweden. The Government Leader mentioned earlier about the unemployment rate in Sweden, but he forgot to tell the people of the Yukon that they have twice the inflation rate of western European countries.
Speaker: Would the Member please get to the supplementary question?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not know where the Member is going for this, but suspect that he is talking himself into a black hole.
Reference to the political stability in the Scandinavian countries is quite appropriate. They have had, for most of the last 50 years, a social democratic government that has guided that country to extraordinary prosperity. They have had one brief period, for six or seven years...
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Mr. Speaker, do I have the floor?
During one period they had a liberal conservative coalition, which was an absolute disaster because they had more business failures during that time than ever before in history. They have recovered from that.
Notions of what constitutes a crisis in that country are probably somewhat different than what the Members opposite think. The former Prime Minister of Sweden, the late Olaf Palmer, talked about the dangerous instability being evident in the Swedish electorate, because sometime before an election there were four percent undecided. They clearly have different notions of what constitutes a crisis and instability than we do in this country.
Question re: Swedish economy
Mr. Lang: In view of the news we have received with respect to the Swedish economy that banks have closed down, people are not getting paid and various other economic things are happening, would the Minister not call that a crisis?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not know. Did the Member opposite, who is a good Tory, call it a crisis when every financial institution in Alberta governed by the Tories for the last 20 or 30 years went bankrupt? Was that a crisis?
Every domestically licensed financial institution in Alberta, during the last crisis went under, there are no Alberta banks left so far as I know. They all went.
The Member asks me if the fact that there is a lockout in Swedish banking institutes constitutes a national crisis. I am sure it is very serious for Swedes, but I fail to see how it affects the people of the Yukon, or is an appropriate matter for debate in this Legislature. I am happy to debate it anyway.
Mr. Lang: I think the people of the territory have some interest in this - interest to the tune they paid $43,000 of taxpayers money for the Government Leader and the Members of the front bench to go and learn about the state of the economy in Sweden. Just for the record, of the 10 days spent in the Nordic countries, seven of the 10 were spent in Sweden. I thought the Minister would have had a fair idea of the economy of Sweden when he was going about his junket.
In the report it states that 65 ...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member get to the supplementary question.
Mr. Lang: Yes, Mr. Speaker. In the report it states that 65 percent of the people work for the government. That is a concern I want to get to. In view of the obvious results of such a policy, can the Government Leader assure the people of the Yukon that it is not his intention to follow the example of Sweden and enlarge the size of the civil service to the extent it is in Sweden, especially in view of the increase in the civil service over the course of the last five years?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Now the Member opposite is really revealing his lack of knowledge.
Let me first deal with his preamble. There is a well-documented major economic crisis in the Soviet Union right now, but Yukons leading Conservative, Rolf Hougen, was recently advocating investing in that country, so it is interesting, the tortuous logic of the Member opposite.
The fact of the matter is that if the Member had even read the report - I am sorry the Member for Porter Creek West is having genetic mutterings about Sweden. Perhaps his racial memory is being aired. The Russian economy is in crisis, and Mr. Hougen wants to invest in it. A whole bunch of Yukoners have gone to visit there, and perhaps they should not have, according to the Members opposite.
On the question of the civil service in Scandinavia, it is very interesting the Member should make that point. It is very interesting, because the national government departments in those countries are a tiny fraction of the size of Canadian government departments - even smaller than most provincial government departments. It is an interesting model, and perhaps we should look at it. In Sweden, Norway and Finland, many...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Thank you. Many administrative functions are devolved to the local governments: administration of economic programs, health, social services, education and everything. If the Members are opposed to that idea just because it comes from Scandinavia, we will have to think twice about that.
Mr. Lang: I do not know how Russia got into this particular debate. I would harken back and remind the Government Leader that the title of his book, that the taxpayers paid $43,000 for, is entitled Lessons From the Nordic Countries.
I am here to ask if we have learned a lesson from, in particular, Sweden. My concern is that the Minister tabled this report to the Council on the Economy and the Environment this last fall as if it was the gospel. Obviously, it is lacking in many respects about the true picture of what is happening in Sweden and the implications of government policies in that country. Would the Minister undertake to have a third party review this particular report and also then provide a true picture of what is happening in that country, so that the Council on the Economy and the Environment can review the implications of the governments policies in total, as opposed to only what the Minister and his entourage want the people of the territory to hear, and as opposed to what the true picture is.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: What a wonderful argument of convenience and what a wonderful suggestion to waste money. This is the ultimate waste: we hire someone to write a report on a report. I am sure the taxpayers will be wonderfully charmed by that.
Some Hon. Members: (inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I recall, just a few weeks ago, when we were debating a motion in this House on circumpolar relations - I think it was an unanimous motion, was it not, Mr. Speaker? I do not think anybody spoke against it, and in fact, the Leader of the Opposition actually stood in his place and expressed regret that he and the people on his side had not been along on the trip. Even though most of the private sector members were from his constituency, he expressed regret that he had not been along and had not been part of the trip and would we think of him in the future. It is a wonderful argument of convenience.
Now we have had a news report about a problem in Sweden so we had todays Question Period about that. I yearn for the opportunity to entertain questions this week about other European economies and perhaps the Japanese economy, perhaps the American economy. It would be quite bizarre in the parliamentary context, according to our rules, but I welcome the opportunity since clearly the Members have run out of important questions concerning the Yukon.
Question re: Swedish economy
Mr. Lang: Is the Government Leader standing up in his place and telling the people of the territory that the $43,000 he spent on learning lessons from Nordic countries is irrelevant and does not warrant questions from this side of the House? Obviously the report tabled in this House is false and does not show the entire, true picture? Is the Government Leader standing in his place making fun of the Yukon taxpayer as he sits and wines and dines in every hotel in Sweden?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No, I am not making fun of the Yukon taxpayer. I am making fun of the Member for Porter Creek East, who is being very silly.
The report describes many innovations in Scandinavia, not just Sweden, but Norway, Finland and Sweden. It talks about innovations in winter tourism. It talks about the use of local foods, not only as import substitutions but also as a tourism device. It talks about the use of waste disposal technology. It talks about energy-efficient projects. It talks about appropriate technology. It talks about regional development. It talks about training and education: many useful lessons to learn. Also, we saw things that would not be models for things to do here; those are indicated in the report as well.
Question re: Na Dli Youth Centre
Mr. Nordling: I would like to take a huge leap back from Sweden to something that is of concern to us here in the territory and I would like to ask my question to the Minister of Government Services with respect to the young offenders facility.
On January 30 and February 6, I asked the Minister for a breakdown on the total cost of repairs and improvements to the security of the facility. Both times the Minister took the question as notice. Does he now have a final accounting?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The final accounting is being prepared and will be provided to the Minister of Health and Human Resources when it is, and then provided to the Member.
Mr. Nordling: Thank you. I will ask about it again next week. My supplementary is to the Minister of Health and Human Resources. On February 6, the Minister was going to recheck the facts to confirm that two occupational health and safety investigations or reviews were done at the young offenders facility and both times the facility was given a clean bill of health. Has the Minister done that check?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have seen one of the reports but not the others. I believe that I can confirm the original information. The discussions that have been continuing with the employees will always, of course, be directed toward improving their health and safety, and that remains a concern.
Mr. Nordling: To the Minister of Health and Human Resources again: last week, the Minister also said he would look at Hector MacKenzies report on wilderness programming for young offenders in the context of having it tabled. Has the Minister done that, and will he table the document?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I regret that I have not yet had an opportunity to read that report. I hope I will have time in the next few days.
Question re: Mount Hundere/housing shortage in Watson Lake
Mr. Devries: I have a question for the Minister of Yukon Housing. As the Mount Hundere project gets closer to production, many of my constituents have expressed concerns on the availability of housing in Watson Lake. The developers are understandably reluctant to start building projects if Yukon Housing is planning to build more houses. Could the Minister tell me if Yukon Housing is planning to build or buy any more units in response to the anticipated demand that will be created by Mount Hundere?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I believe, as I have indicated to the Member in the past, Yukon Housing is currently engaged in assessing the housing requirements that may emanate as a result of the Mount Hundere project. I have indicated also to the Member that Yukon Housing officials and Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation have recently been to the community to assess that situation. We are, at the same time, assessing our land availability needs and that is being provided to the proponents interested in the project and, at the same time, is being provided through our committee approach to the development.
Mr. Devries: Has Yukon Housing been approached by anyone on a joint-venture project that would be related to the Mount Hundere project?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I cannot say definitely on my feet today, but certainly speaking from my point of view and understanding, there have been enquiries regarding housing developments for Watson Lake by individuals who were interested, who had been directed to Yukon Housing to discuss the details further. I can undertake to provide to the Member more properly whether there are any specific joint ventures under contemplation.
Mr. Devries: Has the Minister formed an overall consultation group to assess the impact and needed infrastructure to support the Mount Hundere mining venture? Originally, I believe, I had written a letter to Mr. McDonald concerning this.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The government has undertaken to address the Mount Hundere project through a one-window approach. I believe I have indicated that to the Member in the past. The Department of Economic Development is providing the lead agency role in this area; affected branches and departments of government speak to that one-window approach and sit on an appropriate committee for matters that affect their various branches. So, Yukon Housing, lands branch, et cetera deal with Economic Development, who are providing the one-window approach in addressing the Mount Hundere development project.
Question re: Health services transfer
Mr. Nordling: I have a question for the Minister of Health and Human Resources with respect to the health services transfer. Two weeks ago I asked the Minister questions about the hiring of the chief executive officer for Whitehorse General Hospital. The Minister said a national firm was retained to search out suitable candidates. He said he would be happy to return to the House with precise information as to the cost of that process. I would like to know the name of the national firm retained, and what the projected costs are for this unusual method of recruitment.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: If I remember correctly, the cost was $17,000. I have asked for a legislative return to be prepared, and I think I can file that tomorrow. The firm was a national consulting firm. I think the name of the company is Stevenson, Kellogg, Ernst & Whinney, but I will confirm those facts in a legislative return tomorrow.
Mr. Nordling: At first glance, $17,000 sounds like quite a bit of money. Can the Minister tell us what facilities and expertise are lacking in the Public Service Commission and the Department of Health and Human Resources that would prevent them from undertaking such a recruitment?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I explained before why we were looking for a person in anticipation of us taking responsibility for the hospital system. Technically, the position we would be staffing is in the federal government at this moment, so we had some negotiations with them. The normal recruitment processes of this government are fairly passive in the sense that we put an ad in the Globe and Mail and national competitions to see who applies and then interview those persons. The advice we received was that this was not likely to produce a satisfactory result in this case, and that we would actually have to go and hire a firm to try and recruit people who were already in jobs and might not be looking for positions: people with a rare combination of skills we would need for this project.
Mr. Nordling: From where was the advice that this was the way to go received?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It was probably obtained from talking to health care professionals, both in the federal government and elsewhere. As I have indicated before in the House, this is a general problem in this country of trying to recruit certain kinds of skills. I might note in passing that Mr. Fingland had a meeting some months ago with representatives of the British Columbia government, who tell us they have not recruited anybody in a senior position in the last few years except by way of the head-hunting process. They have completely abandoned the passive recruitment method as a satisfactory way of trying to recruit talented and able people.
Question re: Wood bison
Mr. Brewster: Has the Department of Renewable Resources provided the Minister with any information regarding the possibility the so-called wood buffalo herd is not a valid subspecies?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am sorry. I did not catch the herd the Member cited. Did he say the Wood Buffalo National Park herd?
No, the department has not given me any information on that matter.
Mr. Brewster: Is the Minister aware there may be a controversy in academic circles as to whether the wood buffalo is or is not a valid subspecies?
Hon. Mr. Webster: No, I am not aware of any controversy by academics on the subject.
Mr. Brewster: Would the Minister investigate this and see if this is so before the next buffalo transplant, and table the results of any documents he finds before the buffalo are transplanted in this area?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Before I make a commitment to give this undertaking, I would like some more information from the Member opposite as to the relevancy of our situation here in the Yukon.
Question re: Wood bison
Mr. Lang: I would like to carry on with this particular topic. The reason for bringing these buffalo in was because they were that species. The information we are receiving is that there is now some question whether or not that is true. I am surprised the Minister is not aware that, in some very respected circles, there is a debate presently underway on whether or not there is actually a woodland buffalo.
In view of this obvious difference of opinion among very learned people, would the Minister check into this? Prior to bringing in more buffalo, would he find out whether or not the species we are bringing in is actually endangered?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Is the Member suggesting that the genetic quality of the strain of bison from Elk Island Park is in question as well?
Mr. Lang: The decision to bring buffalo into the Yukon was taken because they were seen to be endangered. My understanding was that was done in order to have five herds in Canada so they could be taken off the endangered list. Information has been provided to us that these animals may not be endangered. There is debate presently ensuing between people very knowledgeable on the subject, notable biologists and people who have studied these animals for years.
I would like the Minister to check on the validity of the debate prior to bringing any more animals into the territory.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I want to thank the Member for adding more information to the situation. I will certainly look into it.
Mr. Lang: Can we take this as an undertaking and that the Minister will report his findings to the House prior to making a decision to bring more animals into the territory?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Yes, but I am not making any commitment as to when that will be. I do not know how extensive the research will be. I do not know how much work has been done on this issue in the past, or how many experts were involved in this whole debate. We will look into it.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will now proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. McDonald: On behalf of the House Leaders I request unanimous consent to proceed directly to Motions Other Than Government Motions rather than calling Motions for the Production of Papers and for the motions to be called in the following order: Motion 47, Item No. 1; Motion 76, Item No. 11; Motion 71, Item No. 9; and, Motion 69, Item No. 7.
Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: Unanimous consent is granted.
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS
Motion No. 47 - adjourned debate
Clerk: Item No. 1, standing in the name of Ms. Kassi, amendment moved by Mrs. Firth, as amended by subamendment of the Hon. Mr. McDonald, debate adjourned, Mr. Nordling.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Member for Old Crow
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the problem of excessive alcohol consumption in Yukon communities is serious;
THAT alcohol not only destroys individuals, it is also a threat to the survival of these communities;
THAT the Government of the Yukon through the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Resources should investigate ways for communities to enact provisions for the prohibition of alcohol within their communities, if they so wish.
Amendment to the amendment is as follows:
THAT Motion No. 47 be amended by deleting the third paragraph and substituting for it the following:
THAT the Government of Yukon through the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Resources should:
(1) continue evaluating existing programs;
(2) recommend alternatives for dealing with this important problem; and
(3) identify ways for communities in crisis, where there is clear consensus, to enact provisions for the prohibition of alcohol within their boundaries.
Mr. Nordling: The debate on this motion began on December 13, 1989, over two months ago, and continued two weeks ago. Two weeks ago I expressed a concern that the Members of the Legislature were being asked to support this motion based on a lot of ifs, without concrete evidence of need.
The Minister of Health and Human Resources, who is also the Government Leader and has been for almost five years, talked a lot about the cost to health services of alcohol abuse. He said that we have huge expenditures resulting from the sale of alcohol, not just the direct expenditures in the health budget. He went on to say that the cost of absenteeism, the cost of car accidents, the cost of the justice system, and the cost of the social services budget was largely attributable to the problem with alcoholism in the territory.
As justification for this motion, and in asking the Members to support it, he then began with a long string of ifs. He said, if alcohol abuse has reached such crisis proportions, and a community is crying out for help, crying out for someone to do something, demanding a radical measure, who am I or who are we in this Legislature to say that this community that is crying out for this ban should not have its wishes respected?
I hope that today we hear evidence that that is happening and that it is necessary. The Minister responsible for Health also said, If we had fetal alcohol syndrome cases in large numbers, if there is family violence where people are not just being hurt, abused, cut and shot, but dying, if the community is dying of alcohol, if the community is suffering to the sense that the people are drinking themselves to death, families are falling apart, homes are being broken, the economy and the social structure of the community is in chaos, who would we be to say no, you cannot have what they need, what they desperately want, which is a ban on the sale of alcohol in your community?
Again, if those things were happening, I could understand why this motion was being brought forward today. The Minister responsible for Health went on in dramatic fashion and described the horrors of alcohol abuse, talking about when the abuse in a small community reaches crisis proportions, when the number of violent death rises dramatically, when the number of fetal alcohol syndrome starts to climb, when people, family members are caught up in the justice system as a result of alcohol related offenCes, when family members are being beaten, abused, physically violated during violent incidents, drinking parties or as a result of alcohol abuse, when families are falling apart, when homes are being broken and kids are coming into care in such numbers that the community is crying out for help, then the community is saying to us, for Gods sake, stop, enough.
When the Minister tells us that is happening in a community, that a community is saying for Gods sake, stop, enough, then I will agree with the Government Leader, the Minister of Health and Human Resources that we should not turn a deaf ear. We should not say no, never. We should listen to such a plea.
The problem that I have is that no one on the government side, including the Member for Old Crow, has said that that scenario exists anywhere in the territory. The Member for Old Crow spoke in glowing terms of the progress in her community in combating alcoholism. The Minister of Health and Human Resources spoke about the evaluation of programs that was going on in his department to check on the effectiveness of those programs and that we would soon have a report.
Now he is saying that we need this step, that we should bring in legislation that would allow prohibition, which is not consistent with what has been said. It is not fair to Members of the Legislative Assembly to be asked to approve this motion with no evidence or detail of need, except speculation. We do not know what that speculation is based on.
I have travelled throughout the territory, and I did not see a trend toward the awful scenario outlined by the Minister of Health and Human Resources. I know that many other Members want to speak on this topic, and I am going to take my seat and listen carefully to the governments side for concrete evidence of the need for this - what I would term - drastic measure to be taken at this time. I will be looking for some evidence from the government side that this step will solve the alcohol problem to a greater extent than is being done now with the hundreds of people and the millions of dollars being spent by the government of the territory.
Amendment to Motion No. 47 agreed to as amended
Speaker: Is there any further debate on the main motion, as amended?
The hon. Member will close debate if she now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Mr. Devries: I worry about the approach of prohibition. To me, it is a temporary fix method for a problem that will still be there. The abusive drinkers problem will not be addressed. The drinking problem within his own mind will still be there and when this person leaves the community for a trip, or whatever, the urge will still be with him, and the will as to whether to drink or not drink will not have been addressed. Having this motion before us is a sign that our social programs up to this point have failed. Our social programs may have been too oriented to a temporary fix approach. There has no doubt been a lack of rural community input; there is no doubt that our situation here in the north is possibly unique and we have to develop our own policies to meet the needs of each individual community independent of each other. We have heard the recent cry of the social health workers as they formed their own rural association as a protest against the governments arrogant, nonconsultative approach toward rural social services. We have yet to hear from the communities involved and have not given this new rural association a chance to follow up on their ideas. We hear promises of assessment and evaluation of existing programs, but the wheel of bureaucracy grinds away slowly as alcoholism, family violence and drug abuse eat away at the heart of the community and the traditional family.
When my colleague and I travelled around the Yukon, there was a picture of people fighting to get control of their lives, but not all were succeeding. There are people who are becoming more and more aware of their plight and of what is in store for them if they continue down the road of self-destruction. Many of the stories were much like Pilgrims Progress and often the load became too heavy to bear. But there was hope as some reached out for helping hands and often it was the hand of God or the help of friends that helped them get out of the situation. Everyone said it was they themself who had to make the decision to better themself. These decisions were often made in consultation with various caregivers, whether it be from church, government or native bands.
The government also has to address the problem of co-dependency among workers in the field. Many are doing a marvellous job but there are still those who have a co-dependency problem with alcohol and, without realizing it, become a problem rather than an asset. It is up to the various groups to ensure that we have open-minded, truly healed, reformed workers in the field.
Also, as we look at our communities, it does not take long to realize that there are many more deep, unresolved, deep-rooted problems out there. One that really came to light recently I got from a book called The Grieving Indian by Arthur H. As I read the book I got a better understanding of some of the deep-rooted hurts that our native brothers and sisters are burdened with, which in turn create much of the concern that we are dealing with today. He points out the lack of tolerance among the native peoples. He points out how 80 to 90 percent of the people in our prison system are from broken homes and many are uncertain whom their parents really are, which in turn leads them to believe that no one really cares whether they are alive or dead. They often end up in prison by getting caught up in attention-getting misdemeanors: children begging for someone to reach out and give them the love they so richly deserve.
He speaks of the unresolved grief brought on by what I just mentioned and also the high rate of violent deaths, whether it be from suicide, drunk driving, drunken brawls or whatever. I urge everyone here to read this book to help to get a better understanding of the spiritual and psychological struggles that the aboriginal people are facing today.
In closing, another area Arthur H speaks of is the passive will that has been developed by their governments, people who have lost the ability to make decisions because everything is always taken care of for them. Before a person can be cured of alcoholism they must get rid of this passive will. No longer is your wife or kid going to make excuses for you. No longer is the meal going to pop up from nowhere. Prohibition is not going to cure these ills; they can only be cured from within, with help from God, from their families, care givers and government.
The last time I spoke, I mentioned that Lower Post had become a dry community. They are in that process; they have not done this as yet. They are also listening to our debates on this subject very carefully. My understanding is that they have spoken to the B.C. government and they are talking with some judges on whether they can legally do it. I do not know for sure where it stands at this point.
Mr. Brewster: This is one of the motions that comes into this House that is very emotional, but has repercussions much, much greater than most people think. Firstly, I think I do not have to point out that alcoholism has been with us from the time human beings were on this earth and alcoholism will be with us for as long as this world survives; it is just one of those things. You can pass all the rules and all the laws you want, but unless you are going to fence people in, you are not going to prevent this. I was told one time by a corporal in the RCMP that you can pass all the laws you want in this world but if people do not accept them, they do not accept them. I hope that when I am through you will understand what I am talking about.
There is no question that alcohol is a very, very great problem. I have to disagree to some extent with the Member for Old Crow; it is not just a problem for native people; it is a problem for every person and everybody in Canada. They also state that women and children are abused. I agree with this but I can also tell you of cases where men have been badly, badly abused by it.
You can - and the government has been doing it for years - train all the people in the world to consult with people but unfortunately, although there is a great number of sincere ones, most of them work from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. That does not help alcoholic people; it does not help the average person. They need help when they call for it, whether it is 3:00 a.m., whether it is 4:00, or whenever it is.
It is a 24-hour job, and it is very hard to get people dedicated enough to work 24 hours a day. They cannot do it, because they would play out.
I recall going to a doctor one time. We had just put another person into a dry-out tank, and I went to a doctor to find out why these people would continually go back to the dry-out tank. I guarantee anybody who has gone through the experience of a dry-out tank has a very severe disease, or they would not be going into that hell again.
The doctors reply to me was very blunt. We do not have time for drunks. That was a statement made by a medical professional right in this town.
I would hasten to say, however, there are other doctors who spend 24 hours a day working on the same situation. My answer to him was very clear. In my blunt way, I made it very clear. Of course he did not have time for them, because this did not fit into the 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. system. It is something you have to stay with all the time. It is a dirty disease, and a disease that hurts people. It is a disease that wrecks families, and it does not fit into a doctors schedule, so they do not want to touch it.
The other important thing is they do not understand it. They spend millions of dollars studying cancer, heart disease and everything, but they cannot and have never, in the history of this world, been able to control alcoholism.
We have to change the whole society. We have to change people like that medical doctor. We have to change governments that think all they have to do is hand out a bunch of money and say, Go to it and straighten these people out. They wipe their hands and go the other way and hide. We are not gaining anything from this.
When I came up here as a young boy, there were thousands of soldiers here. I can name people who are here today who started their business with the alcohol they sold to those soldiers at $75 to $100 a bottle. I have been to camps where I have seen the soldiers eating shoe polish and drinking lemon extract if they were not getting alcohol. In many camps, it was forbidden to have lemon extract around, because it would have been drunk. I saw wood alcohol being consumed in the army. They would sniff anything they could to try and solve their craving for alcohol.
It is something we are not going to control by legislation. There is no way. We have to turn around and change the thoughts of society, of government, and of all the people who have to live in this world.
Most people say when you criticize, you should have an answer. I do not have an answer. However, in my years in the Yukon, I have observed a small religion. It is not one of the main religions, and it seems to be the answer for a lot of people. I have had guys out with me who I did not think would be alive in three years, and this is 10 or 15 years ago. They joined these churches, and they are still alive today and living a happy life.
This type of church has never asked for money from government, that I know of. They have never asked for money from the taxpayers. They have done it on their own. Yet, they spend millions of dollars, instead of saying, Let us get it out of the bureaucratic system. Let us see what these people are doing. Maybe we can help them a little bit, and maybe we will go on.
I can name people, although I am not going to, who I thought would not be alive in five years, and that was 20 years ago. They are alive now because they believe very solidly in what this church does. Unfortunately, it does not work for everybody. I have known others who continued to drink until they either had an accident, or drowned, or something else happened to them.
We used to have a real problem getting the guides I have had out to work. Once they joined this church, within two to three years, you would never know these people. They are completely changed individuals. They are happy-go-lucky, they smile, they are in better health than they were.
Often, we talk about the reservation at Alkali Lake. I have phoned and checked on a little of this. This is a great movement there, but it was not made by governments putting prohibition in. This was not made by anybody but the people there who made up their minds they were going to do something.
They did it. I talked to them for a long time. The one thing they said was that prohibition might have helped a little, but they were not too sure because it would have been forced on people, and you cannot force a change like that on people.
I have done a little checking on some of this. I would like to point out a few things on places that have prohibition. These are not my words; they are words they give us. In Rae Edzo in the Northwest Territories, it is not working. The population is 1,600. There are approximately 67 bootleggers for 1,600 people. In the words of the manager, it is not working worth a damn.
In Angoon, Alaska, the chief of police says the dry community is not working. Education at school level is probably the only way to combat this situation.
Probably none of you have ever read this. It is seven pages of an article from the Anchorage Daily News. They have won prizes all over the world for what they have written. I will give one example. It is called the Booze Line and shows what happens. This is in areas where it is supposed to be dry, and where there is not supposed to be any liquor. This is how it starts out.
First Move: A bootlegger goes to the Alascom office in Bethel to wire money, a transaction that takes about five minutes. The wire is sent by satellite to Alascom in Anchorage. A typical order might be for a case of whiskey in light weight 750 mm plastic bottles. Cost of telegram $4.20.
Second Move: The wired money is received in the Alascom, Anchorage office where it is turned into a cheque.
Third Move: A liquor retailer picks up the cheque and verifies the order has been received, processes the order and delivers it to an airline for shipment. Typical cost of a case of whiskey is $86.00.
Fourth Move: Liquor is flown to Bethel at a cost of $36.75. Order is picked up at the airport by a bootlegger or runner, if ordered under a runners name. Up to this point, everything is very legal. Total cost now is $126.95.
Fifth Move: The bootlegger sells the liquor in Bethel. A bottle typically sells for $30 to $40. The profit is $230 to $350 dollars per case.
Sixth Move: Some bootleggers will take the liquor to dry bush camps, many of which ban both import and sale, or sell it to someone else who will do so. A few villages may even ban possession. Bootleggers command as much as $100 per 750 mm bottle. If the bootlegger obtains the whiskey by the method outlined here, a single case can yield $1,000.
That is the same type of business that was going on here when I came up as a young boy. People made money from it. As long as people can make money like that, you are not going to control by prohibition. What you do is turn around and get a lot of people into trouble. The police are unable to handle what is going on, because this is going to be sneaked in regardless of what happens.
I can remember when there was an interdict list here. This is a list where, if you drank too much, you went in front of a judge. He would turn around and put you on this list. If you are from Dawson City, then you cannot drink in Dawson City. You are not supposed to drink in the Yukon, but you come down to visit Haines Junction. How is the bar in Haines Junction supposed to know this person is from Dawson City? They are now in trouble with the police. It is a vicious circle that goes around and around. I do not think there is any way at all that prohibition is going to work. If I thought it would, rest assured, I would vote for this motion, but it just does not work.
When I was in the Canadian army, I was in the regimental police. There were barracks with a six-foot fence around us. Night after night, there were booze parties when no booze was allowed in the army camps. We spent all our time running around trying to catch these guys climbing over fences. The military police were there, and it did not stop them. This is something that we have to make up our minds ourselves, the villages have to make up their mind themselves and, until this is done, prohibition is not going to work.
I also know what the Northwest Territories do. Communities cannot simply decide on their own to create or change laws governing the use of liquor. They must take certain legal steps. They must send a petition to the Minister of Justice and Public Service asking to be allowed to have a plebiscite or a vote. I did not see any such motion in here, if we were following this, which are not our rules. There has to be 60 percent of the people voting in favour of it.
Then there are three choices. Even there, they are not sure that it works. One choice is no restriction. One is a prohibition system. The other is a controlled system. Some of these choices seem to be working. When $1000 per case can be received for liquor, there will not be very many places where prohibition will work. This is ridiculous unless we put a fence around them with armed guards.
It bothered me when, in Alaska, airplanes searched the area and peoples private mail was being searched. I wonder what the officials of the Post Office in Canada would think if this was started. Where is a persons freedom? Someones parcel may look like a bottle and be opened up. That person may not even drink.
I agree that we have a great problem. Until we change society, until we change the way people think, we are not going to stop drinking by legislation. We cannot fence people off in one area and keep them from drinking. They are going to get the liquor regardless of what happens.
Hon. Mr. Webster: All of us have friends and acquaintances whose lives have been blighted by alcoholism and the social problems that go hand in hand with that disease. Studies tell us that the incidence of alcoholism in any community is directly related to the availability of alcohol in that community. It is socially acceptable to consume or even abuse alcohol, and if alcohol is available, more people will indeed fall prey to alcoholism.
The Yukon, which has the highest per capita rate of alcohol consumption in the country, where the consumption of alcohol is taken for granted, where it is for the most part readily available, is a fertile breeding ground for alcoholics.
The variety of alcohol-related problems varies from community to community in the territory. I can well understand that some communities, particularly the isolated ones where a crisis situation exits, may want to have access to strong measures to deal with alcohol abuse.
One of the implicit goals of my government is to put decision-making power into the hands of the people who are most affected by the decisions being made. In regard to the management of alcohol, that philosophy was most recently reflected in amendments to the Liquor Act, which were made in 1988. Those amendments extended to Indian bands: the ability to ban public drinking on band lands, a power similar to that that had earlier been granted, to hamlets and municipalities.
Judicial measures, which the Member has asked the government to consider in the motion before us this afternoon, are certainly worthy of consideration. I am prepared to support the Members motion. Provisions for the prohibition of alcohol in designated communities do exist in other jurisdictions. In general, some sort of legislation is required to give authority to the conduct of a plebiscite on the use or consumption of alcohol within a particular geographic region.
In the Northwest Territories, for example, an entire section of its liquor act deals with provisions for managing the availability or consumption of alcohol in the communities. There, a plebiscite must be held and 60 percent of the voters must give approval before the liquor board can grant a liquor license within a community, although some kinds of licences, primarily for non-profit-type organizations, are exempt from this requirement. In areas where some types of liquor licences already exist, plebiscites may be held to determine if the consumption, possession, purchase, sale or transportation of liquor ought to be restricted or prohibited. A plebiscite may be ordered by the responsible Minister when application is made by a petition signed by at least 20 qualified voters in the community in question.
The actual systems or mechanisms for controlling the availability of alcohol in a community are many. Some are similar to the current provisions of our act, which, with the exception of community-decided questions - such as public drinking - essentially makes all liquor outlets subject to the general provisions of the territorial Liquor Act.
In the Northwest Territories, plebiscites may seek to restrict the hours of operation of, or sales at, licensed premises, something our Yukon Liquor Board has the power to do at the present time through our licensing provisions.
Another system available through plebiscite in the Northwest Territories is restriction on the quantity of liquor that a person may purchase.
In addition to these measures, Northwest Territories communities may also decide by plebiscite to adopt a much more comprehensive method of management through the formation of a locally elected alcohol education committee. Under Northwest Territories legislation, this committee can be empowered to decide who may consume, possess, purchase or transport liquor in the settlement, who may import liquor into the settlement, the amount of liquor a person may possess, purchase, transport or import in the settlement, and who may apply for a permit in the settlement in order to make homemade wine or beer. The committee may also decide to effect outright prohibition. It may ban outright consumption, possession, purchase, sale or transportation of liquor within the settlement.
However, I should say that plebiscites are not allowable - as I understand the Northwest Territories Liquor Act - where a cabaret licence for the sale or consumption of beer, a cocktail lounge licence or a diningroom licence have already been issued. Incidentally, where a plebiscite is held, a 60 percent majority vote in favour must be achieved before its revisions can be implemented.
When this does happen and a settlement has been declared a restricted or prohibited area, regulations under the Liquor Act must be drafted and passed by Cabinet before the provisions of the plebiscites have legal effect.
My point in outlining the provisions for prohibition in the Northwest Territories is to indicate that it has not proven to be a simple matter. It may be possible to explore other options for the Yukon, such as some development of the current provisions of our Liquor Act, that provide for the banning of public drinking by resolution of a ban or town council. My own view is that prohibition is a matter of such seriousness that all members of the community should have an opportunity to be heard. We have already heard the preceding debates, and some good points have been put forward. Some people believe the introduction of prohibition contradicts the principles of the Charter of Human Rights, while others are of the opinion that prohibition has never worked and never will.
In the meantime, the Government of the Yukon, in cooperation with other agencies, will continue with rehabilitation and education programs. As well, I am confident that the Yukon Liquor Board will continue to consult and cooperate with communities to achieve the best and most responsible management of alcohol in Yukon communities possible under the present provisions of the Liquor Act.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I rise in support of this motion before us today. I have mentioned before that there is much evidence in our jails that the inmates are largely there as a result of alcohol and drug abuse. As mentioned in this House, it has been very devastating to many of our communities, including Whitehorse. It is also very evident in some of our other institutions, such as the young offenders facility, the group homes, some of our alcohol treatment homes, and many others.
We have discussed the problems we have with regard to family violence, child abuse and the breakdown of family. A number of those cases are a result of alcohol abuse. Every sector of our society is faced with these problems, and we are all aware of the very serious problems in our communities. It has been stated time and time again that there are a number of problems in regard to suicide, crime, and to many other things.
Under the family violence prevention unit, the Department of Justice is working actively to deal with many of the problems that are a result of alcohol-related incidents, and they continue to improve on the programs they already have. This government has also recognized the need for communities to be involved in their own problem-solving and, in particular, to work toward eliminating the devastation of alcohol.
We have all talked about how the communities have to be involved and how the communities have to work toward something like that, as many communities are. We have to continue to work toward solving the whole issue of alcohol abuse in the communities, and we need to work together toward this problem.
I am encouraged by the work communities are already doing in trying to face their problems in combatting alcohol problems. We all recognize the efforts many communities are making, but we need to provide more support and investigate more solutions to the needs of the communities. We need to encourage and support more healthy lifestyles and work toward changing the conditions that lead to alcohol and drug abuse. We need to encourage and support the young people who are concerned and want to make changes.
Right now, I would like to mention the work the young people were involved in last year in their substance-free grad at F.H. Collins, the work that was built up and how successful it was. At that time, it was proven there was a very big need to provide some other alternative to celebrating graduation by drinking. I think all of us have to encourage those kinds of initiatives and let our young people know that they can make a difference in the communities, together with all those other individuals who are involved in trying to help with the problem.
We know there is the will and the commitment by many groups in the communities to work toward battling the serious drug and alcohol problems in the Yukon. Some of our communities are developing their own solutions and are looking at other areas for guidance. The Member for Watson Lake has mentioned the Lower Post Band as a substance-free community, and I commend that.
We are all aware of Alkali Lake and their program down there, how they were able to deal with their alcohol and drug abuse, and how successful it has been. If it is the will of these communities to use prohibition as a means to control their alcohol problems, then we need to respect their decision and work toward a means of providing ways to develop this concept.
We have talked about the decision having to be on a consensus basis. There has already been discussion about who forms the consensus, what that really means and how many people are involved. It has been mentioned that every single person in that community should have a voice in any kind of a decision that has to be made in regard to prohibition, so we can all clearly understand exactly what it is they want. I suspect things would have to be in such a condition that it would become a crisis before that kind of a decision was made.
I do have the will and the commitment to work toward supporting the communities in any kind of manner they have in developing initiatives that will provide for a means of combatting alcohol abuse. It is our responsibility to meet those needs, and I am prepared to work toward that. It is my hope that, because of the knowledge they have and the work that they have done in many areas, the communities will work toward solving many of their own problems. As a last result, this may not have to happen but, if it is the will of that community, then I support having something available for them to work through and with.
Mr. Phillips: Before I get into the text of my speech here today, I would like to make a couple of comments on what other Members have said before me. In particular, when the Government Leader spoke the last time we debated this motion, he stressed several times - in fact, he was quite dramatic - and almost insinuated that all Members of this House were denying the people of Old Crow a right to better their lives. I think that was a bit excessive on his part, and the feeling I have has been backed up here today by comments just made by the Minister of Justice.
It was interesting to note that the Minister of Justice just told us things would have to come to such a condition where we would have a crisis, and people should have the option for prohibition when we reach this crisis. Two weeks ago, when the Government Leader spoke, he told us we have a community crying out in crisis, or a community in crisis crying out. I think the two Members should get together and decide which Minister is accurate: whether we have a community crying out or whether we should have a law in case a community cries out.
The Members opposite have to get together on this issue. The Justice Minister also used the dry grad as a good example of what people can do, and I agree with the Minister of Justice. That is a perfect example, and that is what we are talking about. There has to be a will within the community. There has to be a will like there was with the grads to have a dry grad. Prohibition would not have prevented people having liquor at a grad party. It was the grads themselves who prevented liquor being at that grad party, and they should be commended for that.
The Minister also used Alkali Lake as an example. That is another example that would run contrary to her arguments. Alkali Lake is another example of a community wanting to be dry. It did not have to have a law passed that said, You will be dry. People in the community decided it would be dry.
This last week, I have had a couple of phone calls from people in Old Crow about this very motion. The calls I received were in opposition to prohibition of alcohol in Old Crow. These people were wondering why they had to be punished for problems that were created by others. These people understood the problems, and they understood that Old Crow had fairly severe problems. They felt the problems should be dealt with by the community, not by the government passing a law that says there will be no more alcohol in that community.
In 1986, the band manager from Old Crow, Howard Linklater, stated, and I quote, Prohibition is not the issue here. It is control, Linklater added. He pointed out that twice in the past prohibition had been tried and had failed in Old Crow.
Prohibition was tried twice in Old Crow and it failed. It failed because of the will of the people. At that time, there was not the will for it to work. There has to be some kind of message from the people of Old Crow. The community has to be united, and that is the way it will work.
We have had many speakers rise in this House and talk about this problem, but we have not had one Member of this House stand up from either side and show us a petition, a letter, a request, or any documentation that the people from Old Crow, other than the Member for Old Crow, are asking for this motion to be put forward.
I understand the Members concerns, but simply passing a law is not the way to solve the problem. I sympathize with the Member for Old Crow, but I do not believe prohibition is the simple answer to alcohol abuse problems. To me, it is more like an out-of-sight, out-of-mind approach. Unless the community is totally isolated from outside access, it will not work. Every Member of this House recognizes that alcohol and substance abuse are major problems in the Yukon. It destroys individuals; it causes family violence and child abuse. It is one of the major contributing factors to the high rate of suicide in the Yukon, and it creates major problems in Yukons justice system and in Yukon communities.
Instituting prohibition is admitting that our existing programs are not working. It is a last resort, and it is one I do not believe we should consider, however worthy the intentions of this motion. Its direction is misguided.
Under the proposed amendment, the government should be directing its efforts toward evaluating existing programs and recommending alternatives for dealing with this serious problem, rather than spending its efforts examining means by which it can enable communities to prohibit alcohol.
I am not alone in this belief. I have received several letters in this regard. Some of those letters, which were from the Chamber of Commerce, the British Columbia/Yukon Hotel Association and other hotels, were actually made fun of by the Government Leader in his speech last week.
The B.C. Hotel Association has also forwarded a copy of a letter to me that was sent to the Government Leader. It makes some very valid points that I would like to reiterate for the benefit of Members. The letter points out that prohibition of the sale of beverage alcohol by licences has only given rise to increased bootlegging.
Another point that the letter makes, Licensees have a vested interest to ensure that they meet the requirement of the Yukon Liquor Act. Bootleggers do not. Further, since the government is the largest distributor of alcohol, the onus is on it rather than on the communities to regulate alcohol consumption. The communities, moreover, do not have the resources that the Yukon government has at its disposal.
I received another letter from the Yukon Hotel Association that says, This motion contradicts the principles in the Charter of Rights and would undermine the objectives of the tourism industry, which is to offer full services to all tourists visiting the territory. It goes on to say, Many years ago, the Yukon had an interdict list, which prohibited certain individuals from consuming alcohol. It is a proven fact that denial does not stop individuals from obtaining what they want by any means at their disposal. With this in mind, problems such as bootlegging, speakeasies, et cetera, would again rear their ugly heads, and more problems of substance abuse would unfold.
I lived here in the Yukon when that interdict list was in place, and so did you, Mr. Speaker. You and I know that many people who were on that list still obtained alcohol. They came in front of the court system charged with drinking alcohol while on the interdict list, time and time again. Did we solve the problem of those people who were put on that list? We did not solve it one little bit. All we tried to do was ban them from drinking alcohol rather than addressing their problem of alcoholism.
The industry is concerned that prohibition has not worked in the past and would have an effect upon the tourism industry as well as resulting in the loss of legitimate jobs in the hospitality industry.
Let us look at some examples of types of prohibition that have been tried in the past. The Yukon has had prohibition, and it lasted only one short year. It was plagued with many problems.
Again, I go back to what I mentioned the last time I rose in the House about the problem of public drinking in the streets of Whitehorse. I mention that again because it is worth mentioning. It is a type of prohibition. We had a problem where people were consuming alcohol on the downtown streets of Whitehorse. Instead of dealing with the people who had the problems, we banned it from Main Street.
The same people moved into Rotary Park and drank there. They created the same problems in Rotary Park that they had created on Main Street. Did we again go to Rotary Park to try to help solve the problems of the people who were carrying on these activities? No, we took the easy way out and banned drinking from Rotary Park. Then, I suppose we sat back and said that we had solved that problem.
Today there is no more talk of drinking on the streets of Whitehorse and drinking in Rotary Park. I can assure every single Member of this House that we did not solve one of the problems that those people have who were drinking on the streets in the first place. They were chased to the park, and now they are in the bush along the riverbank, drinking. Banning alcohol is not the solution.
I received another letter regarding this motion from the Yukon Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber is concerned that the motion is evidence of a governmental intrusion into Yukoners lives, both on a personal and a business level. The Chamber advises caution. They would rather see government efforts dedicated toward educational efforts and awareness programs rather than to legislate action and prohibition measures.
The motion brought forward by the Member for Old Crow is well intended, but at the same time, it is probably more specific to her community. Even in the case of Old Crow it is not the only answer.
We seem to have the cart before the horse. We have a Government Leader telling us there is a community in crisis, and we have the Justice Minister telling us that in case there is a community in crisis we should have a law. Would it not be proper that the community of Old Crow tell us they want to prohibit alcohol and then approach the Yukon government with a petition, or letters, or band resolution that would ask us to allow them to do that kind of thing? Would it not be looked upon much more favorably in that regard? Some of the people of Old Crow have asked me whose crazy idea this is.
There has to be total community effort and support for prohibition to work. Prohibition or not, people will get a drink if they want one. We currently ban the use of cocaine and other drugs, but has that stopped the use of illicit drugs? It has just driven the price higher and the problem is still larger than ever, but now it is behind closed doors and a lot of us do not see it. Prohibition of alcohol will do the same thing; it will drive the problem underground. The Member for Old Crow knows full well the problem that exists in her community today, and prohibition is not the simple answer. Even now, if one wants to buy a bottle of whiskey in Old Crow, they may pay over $100 for a $25 bottle. Prohibition will drive that price up even higher, and the people we should be attempting to help with their drinking problem will have to pay that higher price, and will pay that higher price, unless we look at other alternatives to solving their problem.
We cannot be instituting prohibition by sweeping this problem under the rug, we must deal with the problem at its source and not spend all our efforts in dealing with the after effects. Has the Member for Old Crow considered the rights of other individuals in her community and in all communities of the territory?
What about the Yukoners who live in a community where prohibition is brought in where this individual may like a drink once in awhile, someone who does not have a problem with alcohol? Will they be exempt? Will they be allowed to bring liquor into the community? What types of problems will this cause? We have to remember these people have some basic rights as well.
History tells us the people we are trying to help will still get liquor into the community if they want it, whether or not we prohibit it. Is that fair to the average Yukoners in that community who will have to obey the new law? It will be the person who can control their drinking who will obey the law.
The wording in the motion states that the communities can have prohibition if they wish. I would have to ask who would decide this: the band, the town or city council? Who would monitor it? Who would pay for the policing of this new law? What would happen in Ross River, Carmacks or other small Yukon communities where this new law could apply? Would government compensate local business people who now depend on the revenue from liquor sales to keep their doors open year-round? Who would pay for this?
One of the principles of the tourism industry is to offer full service to all guests who visit Yukon. What effect would prohibition have on that?
Alcohol abuse is a very serious issue, and we must examine all means of solving the problem. Prohibition, in my view, has been tried before. Even in the most isolated places, it is not without problems. It has to have total community support to work. I do not believe it will work in easier-access areas. Prohibition, in my view, is an admittance that the millions of dollars we spend on dealing with this problem are not working. That is why we should be taking the approach that will examine and evaluate the existing programs.
Prohibition helps hide the problem, it does not provide the solution to the problem.
I cannot take the easy way out, as some Members in this House would like to, and just pass the buck to the communities. It is time to take a close look at where we are failing and not try to put this problem out of sight so as to feel that we have solved it.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: First of all, I want to say that it is important to remember that we are discussing a resolution here, not a law. The House is giving an opinion on a question rather than deciding the precise language of a law. The House, collectively, in the expression of its opinion is, of course, speaking for the whole community; all shades of opinion are being represented, and the policy makers will ultimately have to read the will of the House in proceeding to deal with this very difficult question.
Since I am speaking for the second time in this debate, I shall be brief, but I do want to say that, pleased as I am to have been quoted so extensively by the Members opposite, I am puzzled in that my speech, which I thought was reasonably clear, has been read in two entirely different and contradictory ways by two Members opposite. One Member, the Member for Porter Creek West, accused me of describing a hypothetical situation, a conditional circumstance; the Member for Riverdale South said that I was describing my own perception - distorted, no doubt he believes - of current reality.
I think there has been a lot of misunderstanding in this debate and probably a lot of misunderstanding about the use of words. The use of words like prohibition is very colourful and very emotional, because there has been the impression created by one or two speakers on the other side that the government Members wish to shut down all the hotels and bars in the territory, or that they have that in mind or some kind of hidden agenda to do that. That is a long long way from the truth.
Some other things have been said, and I say this with respect to the Member for Watson Lake, which could be very much misunderstood. The Member rose in his place earlier in this debate and alleged that the rural social workers were forming an association to protest the actions of their government department. Having met with those people only briefly before they formed their association, I want to tell him I received absolutely no information of that kind. I do not know who he is talking to - one can only assume who he is talking to in Watson Lake - but that, too, is a very distorted perception of reality from my point of view.
The Member for Watson Lake also made reference to the alcohol workers in the field being co-dependent. That is a troubling accusation because it was so blanket. The inference left by the Member was that, because people working in this field were not free of their own dependency, somehow they were inadequate to the task. I am troubled by that accusation against the people working in the field, especially because it must be admitted there are people who are professionals, who are public servants, who are employees, working in the field of alcohol and drug abuse who have had personal experience with the problem; but I submit that makes them sensitive to the problems and particularly well equipped to deal with some of the trials and tribulations that people who are caught up in such dependencies have to wrestle with. The suggestion that somehow these people are the wrong people or are inadequate to the task or, because they have had a dependency in the past or still have the psychological burden of it, they should not be working in the field or are the wrong people, is something to which I take exception and have a problem.
Likewise, I must say that the Members quotation from a book attributing to native people a lack of tolerance and ascribing to native people uncertainty about their own parentage is an awful kind of suggestion to make in this House because it is bound to be misunderstood by people. It seems to be an accusation or suggestion made about one group in society, which I must submit - and I want to say this in the kindest way - is totally inappropriate.
I want to make a comment about a number of the interventions of the Members who have spoken since I did. The Member for Kluane made a number of interesting points but one of his points was that the problem of alcoholism has always been with us, throughout history. I have done a little reading in this field, and I want him to know that that is an argument that is not accepted by everybody who has looked at the question. In fact, there are people who argue very seriously that the problem of alcoholism, as a serious problem in society, has not been with us in a big way and was not a major problem until the Industrial Revolution; and further, that the use of jails and the development of modern police forces, which are associated with alcohol and alcohol abuse, did not develop until the problem of the gin mills in industrial Britain, during the last century. It is not a problem that has been with us forever; it has been with us for a long time, but it is a mistake to think that it is somehow a problem of human nature, rather than a problem of society, which society can address.
There is certainly plenty of evidence, if you look at the Justice statistics in the Yukon or in Canada today, that many of the people who fall afoul of the law, much of the work of the police, an awful lot of the work of courts and probation officers and people who work for Corrections, is tied up with the consequences of alcohol and drug abuse, and that if we were successfully able to deal with that problem, some of those expenditures might be reduced dramatically.
I apologize, I am interrupting the Member for Porter Creek West, who is muttering something; he may want to take the floor later. I think there is evidence, which you can may a very convincing case about, that communities that have dealt with the problem of alcohol abuse and those that have dealt with it by the most radical step that they might be able to take, which is prohibition, have in many ways reduced the crime rate, reduced the number of criminal prosecutions, reduced the burden on the justice system, reduced the burden on their social service system and have improved the health of the communities - a point I made before.
In the Member for Porter Creek Wests speech, he often referred to my speech. He quoted extensively from my speech, and talked about my saying if such a situation occurred, and when such a situation occurred, and responded to my rhetorical question, Who are we to deny a plea from a community to go dry? I can only reiterate the question. We are not necessarily talking about any one community being in that situation today. We are talking about whether this government, and this Legislature, is prepared to have a community decide this question for themselves. It is the question, and the power, to decide who decides. In this one respect, the Member for Riverdale North is correct when he said control is the issue.
I want to return to that because the Member for Riverdale North made a number of mistakes in his speech. He said in my earlier remarks I had made fun of the letters from the B.C. and Yukon hotel associations and other small business people who had written to me. Nothing could be further from the truth. I dealt very seriously with the comments of those people, not only in my replies to those people but in my remarks in the House.
The Member again seemed to imply what has been said before as one of the great cliches about prohibition: it does not work. As evidence of that, he cited quotes from hotel operators that prohibition does not work because it produces bootlegging. I would state the obvious. We have bootlegging now. We do not have prohibition, but we still have bootlegging. The truth is that you will have bootlegging whether or not you have prohibition. That has been the experience everywhere.
I am not making the case any further than this but, from a health point of view only, the evidence is pretty clear. Prohibition can work and does work, whether you look at communities in the Northwest Territories that have gone dry, or counties in Texas, or whether you look at the United States in the 1920s. The evidence of improved health, reduced evidence of cirrhosis of the liver, and reduced other alcohol-related diseases is quite clear.
Because it is important to reiterate this point, I want to again say that I am not standing in my place here today and advocating prohibition for the Yukon; I am not advocating prohibition for Whitehorse. I want to be perfectly clear about that. I am saying that a community should have the ability to decide if the social circumstances in its community are such that they believe they have a crisis. It is not that I believe they have a crisis, nor that the Yukon Legislative Assembly believes they have a crisis, but that the people in that community believe there is a crisis.
The issue is who should decide. Some of us in this House are saying that, on a question such as this, the community can and should decide. Some Members opposite seem to be saying that, even if a community decided the situation called for them to take this radical step of going dry and called for prohibition, the Legislature should deny them that right and that, in principle, this is a matter that should remain within the power of the territory to decide.
It is on that point that we part company.
The question is: would we, if asked by a community, accede to a request to go dry? If the situation of alcohol abuse in that community was so serious that that community decided it wanted to go dry, it wanted to ban alcohol from its precincts, would we agree to that? Some of us are saying that we would. Some Members on the other side are saying no.
The issue is who decides. The Member for Riverdale North quoted the Chamber of Commerce as saying that the Chamber of Commerce believes that this is an example of government interfering in peoples lives. I rarely, as you know, disagree with the Chamber of Commerce. On this point, I think the Chamber of Commerce is wrong.
This is not a question of the government interfering in peoples lives. This is a question of people in communities deciding that their lives are affected by alcohol and if their lives are so affected that they want to ban that substance from their communities, rather than the government interfering, we are saying that the government should respect the wishes of that community and accede to their views.
The dispute is about who decides. We believe that if the community asks, they ought to have that power. The Members opposite are saying no. They have spurious arguments about the Charter. I do not know what Charter right is claimed for the ability to have a drink in a dry community. I do not know if it has ever been tested in law. I suspect that it has not.
There are dry communities in this country. Some people believe that communities that have gone dry in the Northwest Territories have gone through a process of healing that has been very good for them.
They have made that decision. Right now, the power to make the decision is in this House. The law is here. All we are saying is that if we heard a petition from a community, we would be prepared to listen to that community.
The Member for Old Crow was elected by the people of that community. She is asking us to listen. She is asking us to be ready to listen, ready to hear such a call if it comes. I am saying that we are ready. The Members opposite are saying that it should not be up to them, that they know better. On that point, I say we disagree.
Mr. Phelps: I am pleased to rise and speak to this important motion. It seems to me, from what I have heard and we have heard from all the Members in the House, that there is a lot of sympathy for people who are suffering from the problems of drug and alcohol abuse. The fact that we have spent so much time in debate indicates that all Members are genuinely concerned about the problem.
It goes without saying that there has been no attempt by even one speaker to filibuster. Individuals Members have done a lot of research on their own. I was unaware of some of the research that came forward today that was done by Members of this side. Each and every one of us feels very deeply about the problem.
The Member who is putting the motion forward is from Old Crow. She knows I have travelled to Old Crow on numerous occasions over the years in various capacities. I know that the people there see the problem of alcohol and substance abuse as an extremely serious problem in that community. They are not alone. It is a serious problem in every one of our communities.
I was in Old Crow in October, last fall, and at that time there was some discussion among a few of the people about this issue. Of course, I did not speak to all the people, but I did speak to some people who were discussing the issue as an issue that had been discussed and was currently being discussed in that community. So it does not come as a surprise to me that we are now talking about the issue here.
We have heard that there is a bootlegging problem in many Yukon communities, including Whitehorse. We have heard that a bottle of alcohol, which at the liquor store in Whitehorse would sell for $20 or so, is selling for $100 in places like Old Crow. That is fairly common knowledge. So, there is not a question that there is a problem with bootlegging. I know we have it in my community, Carcross, and there have been incidents reported in the past about that problem.
Alcohol and substance abuse is an area of concern to us all, as I have said. The problems are extremely complex, but simply because they are complex does not mean we should not try to address them or try to meet the problem head on. Certainly, this is an issue that has been spoken to time after time over the years. I recall last year, while travelling during the election to communities where the issues of suicide and alcohol and substance abuse were being brought forward by numerous individuals. In fact, while I was in Ross River they had just, at that time, found the body of a young community leader who had died of exposure after a bout with alcohol during the bonspiel there. The whole community, virtually everyone there, was devastated.
I read in the paper and hear about similar situations occurring now that we have cold weather once again in the Yukon. The body of a man was found in an abandoned house in Watson Lake just two weeks ago, approximately, when we were debating this issue in this House. The body of another man was found just a few blocks from here, at the hill; again, it was pretty obvious that that person had died of exposure because of his incapacities resulting from alcohol ingestion.
I do not want in any way to downplay the problem. I think most of us can remember that in the election - and we certainly came out very strongly on the issue of alcohol and substance abuse - it was an issue we took extremely seriously, and we continue to take it very seriously.
I do not want in any way with my remarks and the position I am taking to appear to be downgrading the problem or to appear to be belittling any of the speakers. I want to make it very clear that I think it is good that we are discussing the problem here, and for that I thank the MLA from Old Crow.
There has been a lot of talk about government programs not working. There is a recognition that more has to be done. I, for one, want to pay tribute, though, to all those people, whether they are working for the government or not, for the work they are doing. The people I have talked to and met with are sincere and doing what they believe in. I do not think we should lose sight of that fact. I think, too, that more has to be done, more has to be done at the community level, and to some extent I suppose this motion indirectly supports that point of view.
I wanted to talk about prohibition itself without getting into too many of the standard cliches, although, as we all know, it has been tried in most parts of the world. It has been tried in Europe, and in the States. That is the most infamous example, the prohibition which lasted until 1933. It is interesting that in 1932 the Democratic Party adopted a platform calling for repeal and, as a result of their victory in the presidential election of 1932, prohibition was repealed in 1933 by Congress.
There is a bit of history involved when one talks about prohibition; it has been mentioned that prohibition was adopted in the Yukon during the period from 1914 to 1921. It was a time in this territory when prohibition was a pretty hot topic in the political arena. It was proposed in 1914 and narrowly defeated - 874 to 871. It was finally brought on in 1920, and again it was a pretty hotly-contested vote - 635, I believe to slightly more who wanted prohibition. It was only in place for about a year when it was repealed. Interestingly enough, partly on economic grounds at that time, but we have had a taste of it here in our history.
There has been some talk about prohibition encouraging criminal activity, particularly the bootlegging trade. I noted with some interest that Al Capone is the most famous bootlegger we know of. It is alleged that when he was carrying on business illegally, his annual earnings were estimated at $60 million. I know that a lot of people get into bootlegging because there is a lot of money to be made. I suspect that prohibition in a community would lead to an increase in the problem of bootlegging.
All Members received letters from hotel owners and business people who were concerned about prohibition and made their representations against the motion. We have had some debate on what they have had to say. I do not feel that economic grounds and economic arguments are the fundamental issue here before us. I do think there are good points to be made by those who oppose prohibition on that level. Certainly when one looks at any large tourism consortium making a substantial investment in a smaller community, if the threat of prohibition were there, if there was a great degree of uncertainty with regard to whether or not the community might go dry, I think that would have an impact on that type of investment. I would not - I repeat not - want to stand in this place and use that as the sole reason for voting against a motion that is as important as this.
Much has been said about the issue of the Charter of Rights, about the rights of those who may be affected but who may not have a vote. That, in turn, goes to the issue of who decides and how. Who decides? How do they decide? What kind of a vote is required? These issues are important ones. I cannot imagine it being accepted that people who do not have a voice or a vote should have prohibition imposed upon them, if they are adults living in a community.
In Old Crow, for example, the band speaks for many people, but it does not speak for everyone. A significant number of people who live there are not entitled to a vote on an issue such as this, if it were just on a band resolution basis.
One looks at other communities in the territory. We have to consider the rights of people who do not abuse alcohol but use it socially. There are some pretty important issues about rights. There are the rights of the individual and balancing off those rights with the rights of all the people for common good. These are important issues and cannot be dismissed in a sentence or two.
I have had one problem with some of the arguments. Some of them have been highly emotionally charged. That is understandable because of the seriousness, the magnitude and the scope of the problem. We have to overcome that reaction to the issue and try to deal with it in a logical fashion. We have to try and look at all the various consequences of this motion should it pass and become law.
The Government Leader spoke his spurious arguments about the Charter of Rights in his most recent speech here. Without being technical about it, I feel that there are Charter rights and individual rights that one has to look at. They cannot be dismissed out of hand. He said that the issue is who decides. Who decides if a community should or should not be dry?
There is an absence of other details such as, how it is proposed the community would vote, what kind of majority would be required, what kind of rights would be given to those who are opposed to the motion, what kind of search and seizure would be exercised by those in authority. These issues are heavily important. It is overly simplified to say that it is a choice between the community and the territorial level of government.
It seems to me that the whole issue is who decides, and it goes beyond just the community or the territory. It goes down to how it is proposed that prohibition would be enacted in any given place in the Yukon.
There has been lip service paid to medical evidence from the 1920s about how prohibition proved to be beneficial. There are records, but none of that information has been placed here. When we look at the consequences of alcohol and substance abuse, there are arguments about whether or not there is a causal relationship between alcoholism and problems of the liver. There are arguments that it may be dietary rather than a cause and effect relationship from alcohol.
Sclerosis of the liver, in the view of many experts, is brought on by a lack of certain vitamins and nutrition in a person. Many times an alcoholic gets to the stage where he does not ingest the appropriate types of food.
Nobody has really paid much attention to the problem of people going from booze, as we know it, legal alcohol, to other substances, if alcohol is cut off. I practiced as a criminal lawyer for a good many years throughout the territory and travelled to all the communities. Many times the problems and stories behind break, enter and theft in the villages around the territory surrounded people breaking into houses to get alcohol: alcohol from shaving lotion, alcohol from hair spray, and other substances. There is a whole area there that requires examination before we get into a realistic assessment of whether or not prohibition is a desirable weapon to use against alcohol.
In my own community of Carcross, young people and old people have used all of those substances - sniffed gas - often because legal alcohol was not available. That is a problem that deserves scrutiny.
We do have some examples we could look at of places where prohibition is in effect right now. I recall travelling to the Navajo nation to study the tribal justice system in place there, and particularly at Window Rock. That is a large reserve with some 25,000 square miles of area and 150,000 or more people living there, with their own police force and justice system, which is a topic I am sure we will be discussing in another motion. I was certainly struck by the fact that when I observed the proceedings in court, virtually all of the accused who appeared that morning in court were charged with either alcohol offences, or at the very least alcohol-related offences.
I think that perhaps research should be done with regard to some of those other communities, and some of those rather large areas, such as the Navaho nation. We should learn more about the experience there and in some of the small towns about which we have heard from the Member for Kluane before we take any serious steps toward encouraging the use of prohibition as an important weapon in the war against alcohol abuse.
That really is the basic problem. There are too many unanswered questions and too much potential for infringement of rights of individuals without knowing that it is really sufficiently in the common good to make the exercise of prohibition in any community worthwhile.
I intend to speak against or vote against the motion as amended. I am not doing it in a smug way. I think the problem is an important one. I think the debate, if nothing else, has served to show us all and the people of the Yukon how seriously we each view this problem. It has given us a chance to speak about the dimensions and scope of the problem and we, on this side, will certainly support measures that we feel will assist in meeting these problems head on. We simply do not, at this point, see prohibition as an answer or even as an appropriate weapon; that is why we are going to be opposing the motion, as amended.
Speaker: The hon. Member will close debate if she now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Ms. Kassi: I brought this motion forward seeking support, requesting that the government look at ways to change legislation so that if and when the communities, and my community, are good and ready, we will take the steps to ban alcohol on our lands. We are reaching that point. We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.
We are working to a point where, one of these days, we will ban alcohol and be completely dry on our lands. We have lost many, many of our relatives from alcohol abuse. We have dealt with suicides; we have dealt with murders, fetal alcohol syndrome; we are dealing with bootleggers, and every ugly effect that is created by alcohol abuse. We do not need to hear all that over and over again. We have felt it. We feel it every day as we live. Since 1985, as my chief recently stated in a radio interview, We have worked very hard up to this point; we have had many awareness workshops developed, personal development workshops, community development workshops and have dealt with many educational programs. Of course, we are going to need more. We need them to be ongoing.
Now, the majority of the people in my village have chosen to abstain from alcohol, and we are happy about that. We have come a long way. When we are good and ready, we will ban alcohol from our lands; therefore, we ask that the laws and the power that this House holds be changed to create a balance. We ask that the laws that are in place right now, that hold the rights for whisky traders and the rights for people to sell alcohol anywhere, be changed to recognize the rights of people who do not want alcohol around. There is nothing wrong with that concept. We have to live by balances.
If we had these laws in place, we would not have bootlegging in our villages, because the laws would then say that we can get rid of the alcohol upon it entering into the village.
That is why we want to work toward it. We are seeking that balance, and we should have that right. We will exercise that right. We are going to do it ourselves, and that is exactly what we are doing. We are working at home toward a consensus. We are educating the people. We are showing much care for our future. Of course, we will have people who still drink, who go against our wishes. That is understandable. They are addicted. They need it; they think they need it.
We also understand that the people who wish to continue to drink will leave the village. That is okay, too, as long as our elders and children are safe and happy in the village. Those who leave will always return to that.
We also understand that people who make money from alcohol, who sell alcohol, will dispute our efforts. We have heard that over and over again from the side opposite.
We have a lot of support out there. Of course, there is not too much from the other side as we have heard in all this debate. However, I too have been getting letters and phone calls of support to push on. From the Council for Yukon Indians, Rosemarie Blair-Smith, vice-chair of social programs, wrote to say the CYI feels this motion, represents the basic principle of democracy and is essential to us because it supports the principle of self-government in an area which we determine is a number one obstacle preventing ourselves actualizations as first nations.
She goes on to describe alcoholism as an agent of oppression for our people. She says that, the Council for Yukon Indians feels that this motion gives the community the freedom they so rightly deserve to set their own future without the continued plague of this disease.
I also heard from chiefs. Angie Joseph, the chief in Dawson, supports this motion. I would like to take this opportunity to read their letters into the record. This is from the Council for Yukon Indians.
Dear Norma, This letter is in reference to the motion you have put forward which states to encourage the Department of Health and Human Resources and the Department of Justice to look at ways to make provisions so that communities can prohibit alcohol if they choose to do so. We feel that this motion represents a basic principle of democracy and is essential to us because it supports the principle of self-government in any area which we determine is a number one obstacle preventing our actualization as first nations.
As you have so accurately described in the Legislature, alcohol has served as an agent of oppression for our people. There are very few crimes, incidents of family violence, failures in school or employment that are not somewhere related to alcohol abuse.
Alcohol has served as a tool for disrupting our traditional government, our spirituality, our values and our future, and this is why the passage of this motion is so essential.
We feel that this motion gives the community the freedom they so rightly deserve to set their own future without the continued plague of this disease. We commend you for proposing this motion and support you. Please let us know how we can assist you further.
Yours sincerely, Rosemarie Blair-Smith, Vice-Chair, Social Programs, Council for Yukon Indians.
The other letter from Chief Angie Joseph of Dawson City, Dear Norma: Prohibition in Old Crow. The Dawson Indian Band would like to express our support for your efforts to amend the YTG legislation so the RCMP is able to enforce prohibition if it has been voted in by the community. Sincerely, Angie Joseph, Chief of Dawson.
I also heard from other people such as former MLA, Eleanor Millard, who represented Old Crow at one time, who wrote in a letter to the editor of the Whitehorse Star that, The prohibition question deserves a decent hearing. I will quote from her letter. I have spent the last few months working in one of these communities in the Northwest Territories, Snowdrift, on the eastern shore of Great Slave Lake. This fall, Snowdrift received a national award from the RCMP for reducing the number of arrests in the community drastically. The reduction was directly related to the fact that the community had voted for, and successfully implemented alcohol prohibition. I found no one in Snowdrift who seriously felt they would like to see the law reversed. Neither was the law difficult to administer, according to those whose job it was to do so. Everyone including visitors, stated that prohibition had made the town a much more positive place to live and had given the community a new lease on life. You may not realize that Old Crow has more than once in the past voted for prohibition, acting as you would like them to, admitting they have a problem. Now Norma Kassi has made another plea for reason and legislation to come to their aid. Surely the fears of small town hotel owners who see their excessive profits from the communities misery going down the drain is worth far less than the efforts made by concerned people who have a long-term investment in their communities, and in their childrens future.
I will continue to push for the rights of the communities to decide for themselves. I will not be intimidated by people who say that even a community-willed ban on alcohol is an infringement on a constitutional right. We should all have the courage to do what is right. The reality of day-to-day life in the Yukon is that alcohol consumption is excessive. It is debilitating and a serious threat to our families and the very survival of our culture, traditions and communities. We should have the courage to acknowledge that a ban on alcohol just might be the right way to go under certain circumstances.
We should have the courage to acknowledge that sitting here in this Legislature we just might not know just when circumstances are right. Our communities must have the right to make this decision. We can give so much support to those who have had the courage to face their addiction and get the help they need to beat it.
Once a person has made that decision to stop drinking, surely they deserve whatever support their community can offer to stay dry. We will have programs in place. We are working on that. We have developed a wilderness treatment centre for people in our village, and that is ongoing.
Our people are becoming stronger, united, and one day we are going to achieve the goals and aspirations of a self-governing people that many of us are working toward. I hope that we will all see a healthier Yukon sooner than later. Mahsi-cho.
Motion No. 47 agreed to as amended
Clerk: Item No. 11, standing in the name of Ms. Kassi.
Speaker: Is the hon. Member prepared to proceed with Item No. 11?
Ms. Kassi: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Motion No. 76
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Old Crow
THAT it is the opinion of this House:
(1) THAT throughout the Western World there is a growing recognition that the existing adversarial criminal justice system is failing to resolve social and criminal problems;
(2) THAT the costs of the existing justice system are rapidly increasing without significantly improving the well-being of individuals or communities;
(3) THAT, in the Yukon, lay people and professionals recognize the need for significant changes in the justice system to enhance opportunities for communities to play a much greater role in maintaining peace and harmony within a community;
(4) THAT vital initiatives such as tribal justice, mediation and diversion in the Yukon have begun to enable communities to assume responsibilities for community problems;
(5) THAT there is a need for a change in our justice system from primary reliance upon professionals to a partnership between communities and professionals and, in many areas, to a primary reliance upon everyone in the community to participate in promoting the well-being of their community; and
THAT the Yukon Legislative Assembly recognizes and supports the initiative of the Yukon aboriginal people to assume greater responsibility over social problems within their communities through the development of aboriginal justice systems.
Ms. Kassi: I am really hoping this motion does not go through what the previous one went through and that it receives a lot of support from this House.
In December, 1987, I brought a motion to this House calling for the Yukon government, in cooperation with the Yukon Indian bands and tribal councils, to investigate the feasibility of tribal police, peacemaking and tribal justice systems.
In January, 1988, the Vuntat Gwichin Tribal Justice Council submitted a proposal for a coordinator to the Minister of Justice. In April, 1989, that coordinator, who is Grafton Njootli, submitted a six-month report on tribal justice and the Vuntat Gwichin. In November, 1989, the current Justice Minister signed an agreement with the coalition of the bands of Teslin, Champagne/Aishihik and Old Crow to work on the development of a tribal justice system in the Yukon.
One phase of this agreement provided a three-day conference to review tribal justice concepts developed by the Yukon first nations and to discuss ways to improve and implement them. That was the conference that was held last week. As the newspapers reported, judges, lawyers, Indian leaders and a professor of law all agreed that the territorys justice system does not serve aboriginal people, but that Yukon Indians have the capability to strengthen it.
The brings us to the motion before us today.
The justice system we live with today fails the aboriginal people in the Yukon. Why are so many aboriginal people in the jails? Why are there so many aboriginal young offenders in the maze of the courts? We know the justice system has failed us. We want change, and this change means putting the responsibility for justice management back into the hands of the communities. Change means re-establishing our elders in their place of respect in our communities. Change means healing and harmony. Change means peace and hope.
I want to tell you a story about a young man whom I know. He is now an adult and is in the Whitehorse Correctional Centre right now, but I want to take you back to his childhood. This young man came from a family where there was alcohol abuse. He learned to be tough to survive and he started to drink when he was very young. He rebelled against everyone: the schools, the police, his family and his community. He was involved in lots of break and enters, many crimes, and he was constantly fighting. The system could not handle him. He was sent out to youth assessment centres time and time again, but still no one could reach him. He was assessed but there was no rehabilitation; nobody had the time to develop any positive skills in this child. There was nothing good and promising to replace the bad. He was sent out to jail in a place not far from Vancouver, a place called Wellington, I believe. That was a decision that was opposed by the community at the time. We knew that once he got even further away from home, there would be even less of a chance that we could reach him.
Through all the courts, assessments and jails, we could never reach him. We never had the opportunity to do so. He was always gone. He was always taken away.
I want to go back a bit, to stories that were told by my elders. They are stories of times when our people, much like many of the Athabaskans in the northern parts of this country, used to travel in groups following the caribou or according to the availability of food. The various families within our nation, the Gwichin, had specific territories that overlapped between tribes. This was the only sense of land ownership at that time. The families came together from time to time at Rampart House, approximately 60 miles down the river. The important people in those particular groups were known as noh wah chit, which in my language means chief.
Wealth was acquired through diligence and skill; ones abilities to provide food and clothing for the tribe determined him a leader. Strong leaders acted in paternal roles, feeding people in times of famine and paying the medicine people for their healing powers.
In these groups, the chief had the power of life and death. Decisions were made on a consensus basis by adult males who were directed by the women. They would sit in council; the situation would determine the length of time. Of course, the justice problems were much different in those days. There was no alcohol. Everything was shared. There were no written laws. However, there were strong cultural expectations and practices, some of which were later written down and adopted by councils and by anthropologists. The elders say that justice was harsh and swift and therefore crimes were discouraged. This was imposed from the community, not by others. People worked very hard and their bodies and minds were very clear. There was little spare time; most of the work was done to survive and adjust to working in this severe climate. Parents had tight control of their children, and the kids helped with the workload as soon as they were able.
Then we ask, what kinds of crimes or justice problems would there have been in those days? Justice problems may have ranged from kidnapping done by other tribes or the Inuit tribes, territorial disputes, stealing, murders and other types of disputes. There were not too many, because people were too busy surviving to have many conflicts. How were these problems dealt with? I am told that the chiefs, the elders and the respected persons made decisions that were upheld by all members. Retaliation such as stealing and murder by wars, discussions between chiefs and important persons when everyone gathered together, all played a part. Banishment was a serious sentence. These talks between our chiefs in those days are now the roots of our chief and councils that are set up today.
Then came the white man, fur trader, missionaries. This began the transition to what exists today. Our peoples lives changed. Settlement patterns developed, and those are the settlement villages that exist today. Many new things were introduced such as new foods, alcohol, new diseases, drugs, material things, new weapons and new things to fight over.
My people were faced with tremendous changes and a completely different set of problems, some good and some bad. The food gathering activity changed to fur gathering and trade for new foods. The ties to the land and between the families remain strong even today. We do not recognize those borders at all. Our people, by nature, are very flexible and accommodating. We accepted the change and tried to deal with the situations are they arose.
The strength of our culture has shown that we have been able to adapt to strong cultural influences by other people. Still, during my time growing up in my village, tribal justice still existed. If someone was brought before the Chief-in-Council, they were considered marked, so to speak. That shame acted as a deterrent, all based on public opinion, which was the main factor in those days.
That soon changed with more outside influences of politics, splits, the effects of the Indian Act and more alcohol. Some of our people had weakened. The laws that were brought by those people took over. The band council system was set up by the Department of Indian Affairs. The justice systems were all new, systems that We never quite understood, and we still cannot understand them. We have heard and experienced over and over again the failures of these foreign systems. Today we are ready to change that and take control.
Our tribal customs will be re-examined for their appropriateness and application. Each nation has a great deal of flexibility in the types of courts it wishes to establish and the range of problems it wishes to handle. Each village will look at its own council structure, develop viable constitutions, look at its special needs, since what works in one tribe may not work in another. They may vary.
In deciding the village council, we should ask ourselves, and we are asking ourselves, what the problems are that could best be handled by the tribe, what human resources are available to serve as members of our tribal court, what are the traditional systems of justice in the village, and what are the judicial desires of the people in that particular village?
It is frightening to know that here in Canada, in the 1980s and 1990s, the fact that Donald Marshall was a native was a factor in his wrongful conviction and imprisonment. The criminal justice system failed Donald Marshall Jr. just as it has failed so many other aboriginal people in Canada.
A tribal justice system would not solve all of the problems of crime, but it would bring responsibility back to the community level. The people who live in a community often know why certain crimes occur. They probably know best how to work toward solving some of the social problems, like alcohol abuse, that are behind some of the crimes. What the people in the communities need is a way to work toward implementing forms of punishment that will help offenders grow and become healthy members of the community again.
Many aboriginal people do not understand the words used in the court system. They do not know what to say to defend themselves. If they are arrested they do not understand what their rights are. They are intimidated and frightened because they do not understand. Most of the time they are encouraged to plead guilty just to get them out of the road.
There are projects in British Columbia that focus on mediation and diversion of offenders. Here in the Yukon we have a diversion program in place for young offenders. This can tie into the tribal justice system. Keeping young people out of the criminal justice system, replacing jail with access to programs based on traditional values, would help.
Earlier, I outlined the steps this government has taken in partnership with the aboriginal communities in the Yukon. We are making headway in terms of listening to the communities ideas on administration of criminal justice. This motion is not intended to tell communities when, how and even if they are to implement tribal justice. Some will choose one kind of system and others will choose something else they are comfortable with. The bottom line is that we need something to work with that is different than what we have now.
When he was speaking to the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs last December, Roger Jones, President of the Indigenous Bar Association, described the concept of empowerment that aboriginal people need in order to fully respond to the needs of their communities. The non-native communities do not seem to understand what goes on in making a harmonious community in terms of native traditions. He said, The James Bay Cree are, in my estimation, recognized as having two parts of the usual three-part government structure, which is the legislative, the executive and the judiciary. Under the Cree and Naskapi Act, the Crees have their executive, which is their leadership, they also have their legislative authority, and as long as they are legislating within their own field the legislation is deemed to be within their authority without intervention by the Minister of Indian Affairs. So they have two parts of the sort of government and state structure. Except they are missing the third element, which is the court system. It is because of this they are limited in what they can do now with respect to exercising the full range of their self-governing authority in their communities.
So, certain constitutional structures are in place for them to immediately implement some form of judicial system or justice system from which they are going to choose what they want to do and what they need. In the same proceedings, Samuel Stevens, from the native justice section of the Canadian Bar Association, commented on the agreement in principle here in the Yukon. He said that the Council for Yukon Indians is specifically looking at including a justice system within the agreement in principle. At the heart of many difficulties with our land and other claims is the question of what was the customary way of doing things. Can we say that we can do anything except have a look at these justice issues? To have a look at the question of customary law, which is at the heart of the issue, and then move on from there, would seem to me to be very important. Even more importantly in the long run, it is a question of the communities determining whether they want that part of their self-government agreement.
We cannot wait for land claims to be settled. We have taken some positive steps in the direction of tribal justice over the past few years and it is now time for us to support the initiative of the Yukon aboriginal peoples wanting to assume more responsibility for life within their communities.
We do not need any more Donald Marshall Jr. experiences. We have lived through generations of upheaval in our traditional way of life. We now have the opportunity to restore the foundation of our society and we must act. We are entitled to choose our own way of doing things in this world and that includes making choices about the justice system.
Just to calm the fears of some Members, we are not suggesting throwing out the courts or the law books, we are saying let us do something to make the justice system reflect the true nature of our society and support tribal justice. I urge Members of this House to join me in supporting the aboriginal people who want to do that.
Ms. Hayden: I rise in support of this motion. We have heard much today about how the present justice system does not work for the aboriginal people of the Yukon. We have also heard a lot in the past year about how the justice system does not work for aboriginal peoples in other parts of Canada. The most famous case, as the Member for Old Crow spoke of, is the sad story of what happened to Donald Marshall Jr. The police did not do their job, the justice department did not do its job, and so many people did not do the job they were supposed to do in order to guarantee justice to someone charged with a crime.
How many other Donald Marshall Jr.s are there? How many have already been lost in an uncaring system? How many children are caught in the wheels of the legal system and cannot get out? How many of these children are from the aboriginal community?
The sad truth is that proportionally, of the young people charged and convicted of crimes, more are aboriginal than are not. If a bunch of kids are hanging around a street corner, and most of those kids are fair-haired and fair-skinned and do something stupid, like breaking a store window, the chances are the system will have a different, perhaps kinder, disposition toward them than if they were dark-haired, dark-skinned native kids.
People may not intend to discriminate but, somewhere in the backs of their minds, there is the thought that a native kid is more likely to mean trouble than is a white kid. This is a kind of subtle discrimination that perpetuates the mistreatment of people like Donald Marshall Jr. This is the kind of systemic discrimination that puts more aboriginal kids in custody in the Yukon than white kids of the same age.
Perhaps tribal justice is the answer. There is a long tradition of justice within the native communities in the Yukon. Cultures vary somewhat, but the overall goal of harmony within the community, and the well-being of the people, is common to all traditions.
The empowerment of a community to deal with its own problems can only enhance the lives of everyone within that community: any community, anywhere. The example of the diversion program here in Whitehorse is an excellent one. Last year, the Crown referred 17 kids to the Whitehorse diversion committee. Of these, only five were returned to the court system - one for only partial compliance to the diversion agreement, two for failure to comply at all, and two for re-offending. That is better than a 70 percent success rate. That means that 12 kids were given an alternative, who might otherwise have gone through the court process.
These 12 kids accepted responsibility for their offence and were willing to make amends for it. These are the two basic criteria for being accepted into the diversion program. The intent is to keep the kid out of court, and volunteers working on the Whitehorse diversion committee are helping to do just that. Everyone involved in the program has worked to show that communities can handle youth crime, and everyone benefits. Hostilities are diffused and neighbourhoods can be made healthy again.
Perhaps this is the biggest thing that can be gained from tribal justice: communities will be knit together again. Tribal justice is not so much a question of power as it is of empowerment. When we all begin to look upon ourselves and our neighbours as equals, then we will have the peace and harmony within our communities indicated in this motion.
I support this motion, but not without some trepidation. However, there is a long, hard road ahead of us to make it work. We must all struggle together if tribal justice is to work. Make no mistake about it, it is a struggle that is well worth the effort in terms of human dignity, and I urge every Member in this House to support this motion.
Mr. Joe: This is a motion that says so much about how the justice system has failed the aboriginal people of the Yukon. It also says that we can do something about this problem. We have young people who are caught in a legal system they do not understand. This is true of kids who are native and kids who are not native. We have some very good ways to keep young people out of the courts. A tribal justice system is part of this. So is the diversion program. Diversion is a way to keep young people out of court. It is a way for all of the members of our communities to work together.
It saddens me to find out that more non-native youth are diverted than native youth. We are still faced with so much discrimination. I believe that the staff at Juvenile Justice work very hard to have the diversion program work.
Many young people have had a second chance.
But more aboriginal young people must be part of that group. Hopefully, diversion committees could be linked into tribal justice and tribal justice could be a positive part of the justice system. We need to understand and work together. We need to listen to the other side of the table.
I support this motion. There is so much discrimination in the legal system we have. Native people have known a better system - a system that cares. Our ancestors lived according to the tribal justice system. We can too. This motion is not about going back to the past; however, it is about finding another way for the future.
Everyone in the Yukon can benefit. The details can be worked out if everyone is willing to talk about what is needed and how we can make it happen. The tribal justice conference held last week in Whitehorse was funded by the Yukon government. This government is committed to equality. The tribal justice agreement signed last year with a group of Yukon bands is a sign of that commitment.
We have a chance to give our young people new hope and restore the pride of our elders.
This motion is another good step toward improving justice for everyone.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to thank the three Members who spoke previously. In particular, I would like to thank the Member for Old Crow for bringing this motion forward today and allowing us an opportunity to present our ideas and opinions about her proposition.
Two years ago, we debated a similar motion in this Legislature that was presented by the same Member. The motion read as follows: THAT it is the opinion of this House: THAT the Government of Yukon, in cooperation with Yukon Indian bands and tribal councils, should investigate the feasibility of tribal police/peacemaking and tribal justice systems.
I know the Member who presented the motion has already made some comment about that debate. At that time, we presented the position that we would like to see the motion amended and that a feasibility study be done and tabled in the Legislative Assembly. At that time, the amendment was defeated, and the motion was passed and carried in the Legislature.
Since that two years has passed, we have seen the government operating in support of this concept. How well they have been operating remains to be questioned. We have some justices of the peace who are of Indian ancestry. The special constable program that the RCMP have has been enhanced so that special constables have the opportunity to become RCMP officers.
There is a crime prevention coordinator in the community of Teslin whose function is to pay particular attention to crime prevention and to emphasize a persons roots in a community as a crime-prevention initiative. The principle of that concept is that if an individual is proud of their roots, culture and identity that they will be a stronger member of the community.
There is also a tribal coordinator in the village of Old Crow as the Member for Old Crow told us during the debate two years ago. The cultural awareness programs have been increased. The RCMP is participating in this kind of program as well as do teachers and other public servants.
I cannot recall any actual information coming from the government side regarding the feasibility of the concept of tribal justice other than reports about how it is progressing in a community like Teslin or Old Crow. The previous Minister of Justice made a commitment that he would have no problem tabling that kind of information, but I question if there has even been a feasibility study or a report of that kind done. Perhaps one of the Members can answer that question when they speak to this motion.
Two years later, the same Member is back in the Legislature with a new motion. However, it is indicating essentially the same principle. I have some questions about the Members satisfaction with the governments performance when it comes to dealing with this issue and whether or not they have made progress. Is that why she is again bringing this motion before the Legislature?
At that time when we debated this issue, there was an agreement by all parties that the issue that we are discussing today should be dealt with at the land claims table to see what modifications might be made to the present system in order to meet all the objectives that we all share. Some of those objectives are: to see more understanding in the legal system, or more Indian participation, more emphasis put on crime prevention.
The Member for Old Crow has indicated a kind of impatience for the whole land claims process. I notice she mentioned it today, and also in the media. She says that Indians cannot sit back and wait for land claims to be settled, that it has been going on for over 16 years now. I think, by bringing us the new motion, the Member is demonstrating some frustration at her governments response to the issue as well as some frustration with the long time it is taking for the land claims process to proceed.
Essentially this new motion asks us to recognize and support the initiatives of the Yukon aboriginal people to assume greater responsibility over social problems within their communities through the development of aboriginal justice systems. I have listened to the debate very closely and have had an opportunity to examine the report written by Chief Judge Heino Lilles. It is a report called Some Problems in the Administration of Justice in Remote and Isolated Communities. I have been following very closely the discussions that have taken place with the conferences going on with respect to tribal justice. We always have representations made to us by both the Indian and non-Indian community.
I find it quite interesting that Indian people express their opinions to me about how they feel the justice system is dealing with their needs, then I have representations made to me by the non-Indian population, particularly in my own constituency, but from other people as well. As Chief Judge Heino Lilles has pointed out in his report on page 11, there are cross-cultural differences in the value systems and he does a comparison of value systems. My personal opinion seems to be that the gap is broadening between the expectations of the two cultures with respect to how the justice system is serving our society.
I digress briefly. I recognize that the motion deals specifically with the wishes of Indian people and we are going to have further debate about the whole justice system and whether or not it is serving the needs of the Yukon public, but it is interesting, the representations made by the non-Indian community. The comments that have been made to me are constantly saying we need a tougher system, we want criminals punished, people should be sent to jail for their punishments, if stopped on the street, drunken drivers should have their licence taken away immediately. People have expressed opinions on the young offenders facility.
On the other side of the story, I hear the Indian people asking for more input into a system that they accuse of failing their people, and that is unfair to their people. That is a very broad gap of expectations between the Indian and non-Indian communities. Some common complaints I hear are usually directed at lawyers. Lawyers seem to share unpopularity in both communities.
I see the Government Leader frowning. I am sure I do not have to elaborate on this. Occasionally I get the complaint about lawyers and exactly what purpose they serve in society. I am sure other Members have heard that. I have discussed this with my esteemed colleagues. I am representing points of view of people who have come to me with their complaints.
I get complaints about particular incidents and the quality of the policing services. I get complaints about the judges. We hear people either are not happy with the decisions or they are not happy with the attitudes of the individuals working within that justice system.
As legislators, we have a responsibility to take in all the information presented to us, digest it in some form, and come forward with a practical solution to what is happening within the overall picture of the service of justice to people.
It is healthy to have the public expressing its point of view and to get people talking. We should be encouraging that kind of discussion. When the controversy occurred over the young offenders facility, I know there were some Members on the opposite side who were quite distressed at the fact it had become a public issue, and that people were writing letters to the paper and expressing their points of view. If you look at it in a positive context, you have to accept peoples points of view, recognize there is a diverse expression of opinion, and see if there is some common middle ground we can all arrive at so we can arrive at some positive direction for everyone we are representing.
There comes a time when people have to stand up and say it like it is, as my colleague for the riding of Kluane often says. It is fine and productive to write academic reports, but if they do not say anything constructive because it might be controversial, they are accepted as some kind of statistical information that helps us recognize what all the problems are. A lot of people know what the problems are. They are expressing that. Now, we have to come up with a solution to those problems.
We are going to have to start discussing some of those controversial issues and rather touchy issues that people may not like to talk about.
We have just had quite an active debate for two or three Wednesdays with respect to alcoholism and whether or not we were going to have prohibition in the communities. Yet in some of the information that has come forward, and in some of the discussions with respect to justice and, particularly, tribal justice, there is very little reference made to the impact the consumption of alcohol has on this system. I am not an expert and do not have the statistical information to back it up, although I would have liked to have seen that information included in a report. It would be interesting to know how many of the offences committed were alcohol related - the drunken driving, beatings, abuse, and some of the tragedies that all Members in the House talked about - that would end up in a charge being laid or some kind of punishment being given to someone. In most instances, those crimes and wrongdoings were related to alcohol and/or drug consumption.
We have to look at the problem and ask, Is the problem alcohol or is the problem the whole justice system? There is some middle ground that contributes to the system not working effectively and to the Indian people expressing their concern with how their people are being served by that system.
I would like to comment a bit about society examining its traditions and cultures. As we all face changes, we have to examine those changes and how our tradition and culture fits into the change that is happening today. The Indian people must examine their traditional relationships with the natural world and with other people, particularly as specifically stated in the report by the Chief Judge.
The Member for Old Crow has said, and I heard the Member for Tatchun say today as well, I am not saying we should go back to doing everything the old way. That would be nonsense. We are entitled to be able to choose our own ways of doing things in todays world.
I would like to ask her if she has examined whether there can still be harmony between the old and the new and where change could be made. I look forward to her comments about that when she gives her final response.
I think it is fine for us to stand up as Members in the Legislature and share our ideas and opinions on this important issue, but I also think we have to stand in our places and give recognition to the individuals who deal with this on a daily basis within the whole justice system. I am talking about all the people who are serving the public through the whole justice system, associations like the Association for the Prevention of Family and Community Violence. They are the people who are there slogging away, doing the tough sledding, working at identifying the problems, the people who are dealing with the issues on a daily basis, the ones who are making recommendations, the people who are talking to the victims of the whole system. I think we have to recognize and thank them for their continuing dedication and for their tireless work.
I want to conclude by saying that we hear the Indian people when they tell us their concerns, we hear them when they say they want more control over their own affairs and that they want to regain their pride and self-worth among their people. We hear them when they say that they want Indian content in the justice system, that they want tribal councils, that they want to advise judges with respect to sentences so that they fit within the community structures, and that they want more consultation with the police. We hear them when they say to us that they do not want two separate cultures, they do not want to throw out the law books, they do not want to create a whole new system of justice - that they just want to be able to determine their own destiny. We agree with the objectives that have been stated by the Member for Old Crow and by other Indian people, and therefore we will be supporting the motion brought forward by the Member for Old Crow to this Assembly today. We will be supporting her in her efforts to keep her own government up to snuff by making sure that we have representation of native people as justices of the peace. We can sympathize with her frustrations with the land claim process and, if we can offer her assistance or help in the form of some communication, we are quite prepared to do that.
Hon. Ms. Joe: A couple of individuals who have spoken on this motion have talked about the Donald Marshall case. I would like to read into the record, because it does reflect on what we were talking about today, an excerpt from the Royal Commission on the Donald Marshall, Jr. prosecution: Shortly before midnight on May 28, 1971, Donald Marshall, Jr., a 17 year old Micmac, and Sandy Seale, a 17 year old black, met by chance and were walking through Wentworth Park in Sydney when they met two other men, Roy Ebsary, 59, a former ships cook, and James Jimmy MacNeil, 25, an unemployed labourer. Following a brief conversation, Marshall and/or Seale tried to panhandle Ebsary and MacNeil. The simple request, the kind most of us have encountered at one time or another, triggered a deadly over-reaction by a drunk and dangerous Ebsary. This is for you, Black man, Ebsary said, and stabbed Seale in the stomach. He then launched at Marshall, cutting him on the arm. Although Marshalls wound was superficial, Seale died less than a day later.
Although Marshall had had a few brushes with the law, they were of a minor nature and did not involve theft. Roy Ebsary, on the other hand, had a reputation for violence and unpredictable behaviour and had previously been convicted on a weapons charge involving a knife.
The four Sydney police officers who initially responded to the report of the stabbing ... did not do a professional job. They did not cordon off the crime scene, search the area or question witnesses. In fact, none of the four officers dispatched to the scene even remained there to protect the area after Seale had been taken to the hospital. We found their conduct entirely inadequate, incompetent and unprofessional.
The same can be said of the subsequent police investigation directed by detective John MacIntyre. MacIntyre very quickly decided that Marshall had stabbed Seale in the course of an argument. Even though there was no evidence to support such a conclusion, McIntyre discounted Marshalls version of events partly because he considered Marshall a troublemaker and partly because, in our view, he shared what we believe was a general sense in Sydneys white community at the time that Indians were not worth as much as whites.
Regardless of the reasons for his conclusions, MacIntyres investigation seemed designed to seek out only evidence to support his theory about the killing and to discount all evidence that challenged it. The most damning evidence against Marshall came from two teenage eye witnesses, Maynard Chant, a 14 year old who was on probation in connection with a minor criminal offence, and John Pratico, a mentally unstable 16 year old whose psychiatrist later testified that he had been known to fantasize and invent stories to make himself the centre of attention.
Shortly after Seale died, both youths gave statements to MacIntyre. Chant, although he had seen nothing, generally corroborated Marshalls version of events while Pratico claimed to have seen two men running away from the stabbing scene. A few days later, however, they both gave contradictory second statements to MacIntyre. Pratico claimed that he had seen Marshall stab Seales during an argument. Chant said that he had also heard the argument and seen the stabbing. He placed a dark-haired fellow, presumably Pratico, in the bushes near where the stabbing took place.
None of this as we now know is true. The information on these second statements came from Pratico and Chant, accepting suggestions that John MacIntyre made to them. His attempt to build a case against Marshall that conformed to his theory about what had happened went far beyond the bounds of acceptable police behaviour. MacIntye took Pratico, an impressionable and unstable teenager, to a murder scene, offered the youth his own version of events, and then persuaded Pratico to accept that version as the basis for what became Praticos detailed and incriminating statement. MacIntyre then pressured Chant, who was on probation and frightened about being sent to jail, into not only corroborating Praticos statement, but also into putting Pratico at the scene of the crime. MacIntyres oppressive tactics in questioning these and other juvenile witnesses were totally unacceptable.
Largely because of the untrue statements MacIntyre had obtained, Donald Marshall, Jr. was charged on June 4, 1971, with murdering Sandy Seale.
Donald Marshall was convicted and sentenced to life on pergured evidence that was submitted to that court. It continues:
Just 10 days after Marshalls conviction, Jimmy MacNeil, a fellow who was with Ebsary, came forward to tell police that he had seen Ebsary stab Seale. At the request of the Sydney City Police Department and the Department of the Attorney General, the RCMP looked into MacNeils allegations, but the officer in charge of that investigations, in his own words, botched it.
Then, again it continues, In 1974, Roy Ebsarys daughter, Donna, confided to a friend that she had seen her father washing what appeared to be blood from his knife on the night of the murder. When she and a friend went to the Sydney City Police Department with this information, they were told by one of the key officers in the original Marshall investigation, Detective William Urquhart, that the case was closed. We believed that Urquhart had a duty to pass this information on to his superior office who in turn would have had an obligation to pass it on to the Crown. The Crown, for its part, would have then had an obligation to provide it to Marshalls counsel, who could have pursued the matter further.
I bring this into my debate because it reflects the belief that Indian people in Canada have little faith in the criminal justice system.
I want it to be on record for that reason. One of the findings was that the criminal justice system failed Donald Marshall at virtually every turn from his arrest and conviction in 1971 up to, and even beyond, his acquittal by the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. The fact that Marshall was a native was a factor in his wrongful conviction and imprisonment. The fact that Marshall was a native was one of the reasons.
Speaker: Order please. I would like to remind the Member of Standing Order No. 19(1)(d) that the Member should not read from written documents continuously but may just refer to it.
Hon. Ms. Joe: Thank you. I have read that into the record, as I said, because it did reflect on what we are talking about here today. They found that racism played a major part in that investigation.
The Donald Marshall inquiry not only instigated a further inquiry into the criminal justice system in Nova Scotia, but in other jurisdictions. We are all familiar with the inquiry in Manitoba in the death of a young Indian girl many years ago. The fact that the investigation was not followed through in the proper manner made it appear many members of the town knew who those individuals were and did not report that information. The inquiries in all those jurisdictions brought out a number of cases where justice was not done.
There is an inquiry going on now in Alberta, and I suspect very soon there will be one in Saskatchewan.
I remember spending time at an inquest in British Columbia for a man by the name of Fred Quilt who died as a result of an incident involving members of the RCMP. In the end, there was not enough evidence anywhere to lay any charges against any individuals in the death of this Indian man. That was very well publicized at that time. A few years later I also remember spending time at an inquest in Watson Lake into the death of a young 17 year old boy by the name of Doug Johnson. He died as a result of a scuffle with a member of the RCMP. I saw what could happen to a community when something like that happens. It was not only the Indian people of that community who got involved after that, but it was the non-Indian people as well. The whole town was concerned about what happened. Once again we had a dead Indian person with no convictions, no charges being laid, and we wonder why Indian people distrust the criminal justice system in Canada. I believe many of the inquiries happening right now will bring much evidence that will tell us why the criminal justice system does not appear to work for Indian people and why it is distrusted so much, and why Indian people across Canada are looking at other alternatives. It is well known throughout Canada that jails and correctional institutes have a very high rate of native inmates. At the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, right here in our own back yard, we have an average native inmate population that sometimes goes as high as 60 percent. I am told that the figure may go as high as 80 percent. The 60 percent figure is fairly constant. Coupled with the fact that our young offender crime rate is three times higher than the rest of the country, this is a very serious concern to our jurisdiction, especially in proportion to the native population.
We are all too familiar with other statistics that tell us how aboriginal people fare in the Canadian criminal justice system and how they make up 10 percent of the federal penitentiary population, how they make up a very high percentage, in some cases nearly all of women inmates in a prison.
They also tell how they account for an incredibly high percentage of admissions to provincial corrections institutions, how aboriginal children are eight times more likely to be apprehended by Canadas child welfare system, and the figures go on and on. More serious than that, the figures are not going down. Next to the Northwest Territories, we have the highest number of Criminal Code offences per capita than anywhere else in Canada. It is a well known fact that the RCMP in the native communities frequently charge citizens with a disproportionately larger number of Criminal Code offences than they would in a southern community. This frequently results in earlier exposures to the justice system than may be found in many non-native communities; therefore, it is very important for us to lead the way in making changes to those statistics in a positive way. We cannot wait for someone else to take the lead. I believe it is our responsibility to develop new ideas and to encourage new initiatives.
Because the majority of people involved in this very serious issue are native, and because we have a commitment from this government to settle land claims and to recognize the rights of the native people to develop self-governing communities, we have a responsibility to encourage the aboriginal people to resolve their social and criminal problems. The devastation that has been wrought on native people by the imposition of a foreign set of values has never really been resolved. Native people continue to have high rates of crime, severe alcohol problems and many other social ills.
The problems have been studied, researched and accompanied by countless undertakings that, while they may have made inroads, have never really been able to provide any long-lasting or effective results. We see more alcohol abuse, more young offenders, more families torn apart. However, there has been one option that has never been tried. That option is allowing the native people to solve their own problems their own way.
What happened to the traditional methods used to solve social ills and community problems? There must have been some kind of system in place as native people existed without the present judicial system we are familiar with. In all these many years, we have never asked the native people what they believe could be done to promote peace and harmony within their communities. It is time for us to take up a partners role, not an imposing one, but a partnership with our communities. We have to stop saying, You must do things my way. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain. It is time for us to take up our role as leaders in our community and recognize that we can hear, listen and, above all, understand the cries for help.
We are not being asked to tear down our present system; we are only being asked to consult with those people who need to be heard. If I am hearing the communities properly, they are asking that they be allowed to exercise control over their own community and the residents in it. One of the things we can encourage is the promotion of traditional and customary laws by tribal justice systems.
This does not mean separate jails or the abolition of existing laws. It means allowing communities to find their own method of dealing with lawbreakers. It may be there will be different laws governing Indian lands, and it will be important that all Yukoners understand the need for these laws, just as we expect all people to recognize and understand our existing laws.
This government has been involved in trying to cooperate with the aboriginal people of the Yukon in regard to tribal justice in many other areas. I, through many weeks and months of negotiations with some members of the Champagne/Aishihik Band, the Teslin Band and the Old Crow Band, was able to come to an agreement to develop a program that would have the coalition of those three groups, and appoint a task force to initially determine the tribal justice needs of each coalition in the Members community. Phase 2 calls for a coalition to retain resource people to work with the band in each community to determine how a proposed tribal justice system could operate alongside the existing justice system. Phase 3 was to hold a three-day conference.
That conference did happen. As a result of that conference, many things were brought into the open. I believe it was a huge success. I attended parts of it, as much as I could. It was very encouraging to sit and talk with a number of individuals who had many good ideas about the kind of positive things that could happen in each and every community with regard to tribal justice or prevention, or whatever else, in order to cut down and deal with the rising rate in crime.
One of the really interesting things that came out of that meeting is that each and every person who spoke talked about the communitys responsibility. That is very important. In the last few months in many communities, people have been dealing with their own tribal justice in a different way. It relates to prevention rather than waiting until a crime has been committed, as our system does, and then take action from that. The communities have been saying, Let us try to look after the problem before it happens. We all talk about prevention in many areas. The kind of thing I was hearing at that conference was that they want to be responsible for their communities. They want to be able to develop the kind of system they feel can work. They talked about the cooperation, the wisdom of the elders and how they used to do it many years ago. They also talked about dealing with individuals in trouble right now.
We used to, in this government and, I am sure, in previous governments, always get blamed for what we did once somebody came into our care, whether it was a young offender, whether it was an adult offender, whether it was a child in care. As I mentioned before in this House, those individuals came into our care after so much damage had been done and we were supposed to be the fixers. We were criticized because we did not fix everything right. I think that many bands right now are talking about dealing with their people, looking out for their people in their communities and trying to deal with problems before they become really bad ones, especially before a young person ends up in the courts.
I believe that this government has accomplished a great deal in recent years with the courtworker program. There have been trials and tribulations, and we have to remember that we are still dealing with an existing system. I know a lot of people who do not understand it. I know it because I worked in the courts and sat as a justice of the peace for almost two years. I saw the great confusion that occurred as a result of people coming to the courts who did not really understand how the system worked; they did not know where to stand, did not know who they could go to for help and very often were nervous. I could see them shaking as they stood there before the judge or the justice of the peace.
We have gained a little bit of road with the implementation of a prison liaison worker, who spoke very emotionally at the conference with regard to the inmates in jail and actually told the communities that they have to remember that those people in the jails are still members of their community. Once they end up in jail they feel that nobody cares anymore and that the communities have forgotten about them. She made that very clear at the conference: remember they are still there and remember they are still your brothers and sisters. I was very encouraged by that.
I have been very encouraged by the other programs that have been developed, some of the programs that were developed through the former Minister of Justice, who was very sympathetic to many of the things that he heard. We heard about Chief Judge Lilles and the paper that he presented to the Canadian Bar Association, which was made available to the conference. He stated in his report that, traditionally, non-native solutions have been tried for the better part of a century, with little if any success. Perhaps it is time to abandon them, to take a chance, to be risk takers and to develop new cooperative approaches to the administration of justice in our northern communities. What is there to lose?
He has been quoted time and time again by many individuals as a result of that presentation to the Canadian Bar Association. Really, people have had to stop and think about the things that he has said. I think he was able to make many individuals see that the system is not working. Although it may not be changed, there may be a different way of dealing with it and there may be other things that can be included. I think that a better of understanding of the traditions and cultures of the aboriginal people who end up in courts, and even prior to that, is necessary.
I think that we are dealing with a system that is so complex that a lot of people, including some people in here, do not really understand it and cannot even think about how difficult it must be for some young Indian person, or any other young person, who ends up in the courts for the very first time, being very afraid. As I have mentioned many times, when I sat on a diversion committee in Whitehorse, we dealt with many young offenders who were in trouble with the law for the first time. They came to us because they did not want to go to court - or a first appearance where they ended up in court and were so terrified that coming before us seemed like a very good alternative. Very often, we were able to do something very good with that kid because they always had somebody who dealt with them on a one-to-one basis.
One of the things brought up at the conference was diversion and how it is offered to those individuals. I believe it is still not working, but it is a good concept, a good program and, depending on how it is used, it could improve, and people have said that. For instance, one of the communities mentioned that they did deal with an individual who came before the diversion committee, and I cannot remember which community it was. They dealt very effectively with that person. The person was able to follow through on what the diversion committee had asked him to do and what they had worked out between them, because they had to sign an agreement. But the young person ended up back in court because a charge had been laid and he had to go to court even though the diversion committee had dealt with him. I do not know the results. There was some talk about diversion committees only being able to deal with an individual if it was the first offence. In some cases, a second offence might be quite minor and, certainly, give the girl or the boy a second chance. That was brought up at the conference.
Many other things came out of that conference. I am waiting for a report from CATCO. Under phase 4 of that agreement, they will evaluate the tribal justice systems developed for each of the bands and they will use all of the information they have been able to gather so far. So, although you have all kinds of information, there has been, as mentioned by the Member for Riverdale South, talk two years ago about a feasibility study that we voted on at that time. I think a feasibility study might not have been able to give us the kind of information we have been able to gather in the past three years as the result of many things happening in the criminal justice system, which mainly relate to aboriginal people. A feasibility study, as we talked about at that time, might have given us some information and might have been able to help us. I think in the last two years we have been able to gather much good information and have been able to work with the individuals in the communities in the Yukon to try to come to some kind of an understanding about what it is that we need to improve the system to make it more effective for those individuals who are involved.
Speaker: Order please. The time being 5:30, I will now leave the Chair until 7:30.
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: I will now call the Committee of the Whole to order.
Bill No. 19 - Second Appropriation Act, 1990-91 - continued
Department of Community and Transportation Services - continued
On Sewage Treatment and Disposal
Sewage Treatment and Disposal in the amount of $904,000 agreed to
On Solid Waste
Mr. Phelps: Does that include an amount for a new relocation of the dump at Carcross or the dump at mile nine on the Carcross Road?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: New funds are not identified here. Those funds were identified last year and will be revoted. The sheets that I circulated list all the capital projects. There is no identified money for the Carcross relocation. That is the current fiscal year, which will be revoted to be completed this coming year given that everything falls into place as was previously discussed.
Mr. Phelps: Is the situation the same with the dump near the Annie Lake Road, mile nine on the Carcross Road?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Yes. The situation is the same. The money will be revoted once the site selection is made and the type of facility is determined.
Solid Waste in the amount of $320,000 agreed to
On Mosquito Control
Mr. Brewster: This line item went up by 31 percent. Are we buying some newfangled computer that knocks mosquitoes out?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It is the result of high tech. The substantial increase is largely due to our shifting over to the different type of mosquito control. We used a chemical base in the past. We are now using a bacteria base control. It is a little more expensive, and there are additional costs related to equipment that is required, et cetera. It is largely for the cost of the material used for the fogging.
Mr. Brewster: This is not going to be dropped from airplanes now. Will this be for the fogging on the ground?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The aerial spraying will still go on much as it has in the past. I think I used the reference of bacterial base; it is a biological larvicide that is used, which is more expensive. That is the same as is used in the aerial spraying.
Mr. Brewster: I am very glad of that. I was really scared we were going to use some of that bacteria that we have on the reindeer that just arrived. I thought maybe that is how they brought this in.
That one went over well, did it not?
The spray from the airplanes will still be oil-based, I presume.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am being advised that we still use some of the oil base in aerial spraying, largely because it is more effective in concentrated areas. In communities, we have moved to the larvicide base, which is more expensive. It amounts to some of both being used, but it is shifting to the biological larvicide.
Mosquito Control in the amount of $25,000 agreed to
On Emergency Measures
Mr. Brewster: Why would there be such a large increase as 176 percent?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The increase is largely due to a number of emergency control measures that have been on the books for a number of years and need to be carried out in various communities. They are listed in the sheets I circulated. Within this vote, we are going to be spending: $10,000 on the Dawson dike to finish it; $175,000 for flood protection design and construction at Pelly Crossing - there is some severe erosion taking place there we have to address; about $6,000 is being spent on various emergency equipment around the territory; and an additional $35,000 is for several smaller control measures on rivers around the territory. There is $35,000 for work to be done on existing dikes where there is severe settlement and threat of dike erosion. It is to replace riprap and to strengthen a number of dike structures around the territory.
Emergency Measures in the amount of $226,000 agreed to
On Fire Protection
Mr. Devries: What is the status of the Watson Lake No. 2 fire truck?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I should have anticipated the question. The Member knows the background to the fire truck saga of Watson Lake. I believe we have just reached an agreement. I have just communicated to the Mayor of Watson Lake an understanding that has been reached seeking final consultation. What has been agreed to now is that Watson Lake will give up its 1969 and 1981 pumpers. They, in turn, will get a 1969 1000-gallon pumper from Ross River, and Ross River is getting the 1981 500-gallon pumper from Watson Lake. It has been a lengthy horse trading exercise that I believe has been finally put to rest and Watson Lake does indeed get its Christmas present.
Fire Protection in the amount of $390,000 agreed to
On Ambulance Service
Ambulance Service in the amount of $148,000 agreed to
On Equipment Purchase
Equipment Purchase in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
Cemeteries in the amount of nil agreed to
On Hazardous Waste, Storage
Mr. Devries: I know the Minister expects me to be really nasty, but I want to congratulate the department on the fine job they are doing around the territory with their presentation. I thought it was very well done. I understand there were a few people not too happy about it, but I understand that those people had seen the show earlier, so it was just a demonstration of their protest in not wanting the storage facility in Watson Lake.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Sincerely, I appreciate the comments of the Member. The special waste committee is indeed doing an outstanding job in communicating the task that is facing them in visiting communities. The Member is acutely aware of the visit to Watson Lake. It does raise the issue that some communities are indicating an interest in actually having some type of storage facility within their communities. That flies in the face of the direction initially given to the committee, and that is something I expect to be dealing with once the committee comes forward with its final recommendations and options later this summer.
Clearly, the communities expressing an interest in having a special waste facility are looking at it from an economic point of view that recognizes that special wastes are not necessarily hazardous wastes if adequately looked after and properly stored. I, too, can confirm the excellent work that the committee is doing. It has a big task still in front of them that is not over yet.
Hazardous Waste, Storage in the amount of $1,000 agreed to
On Roads and Streets:
On Pre-Engineering Roads and Streets
Pre-Engineering Roads and Streets in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
On Road Upgrade
Road Upgrade in the amount of $542,000 agreed to
On Asphalt Paving
Asphalt Paving in the amount of nil dollars agreed to
On Recreation and Community Facilities and Services:
On Recreation Plans
Recreation Plans in the amount of nil dollars agreed to
On Recreation Facilities
Mr. Phelps: Could the Minister tell us what is involved in making up the $72,000?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The $72,000 is an essentially territory-wide response for various requests that have been made for communities other than municipalities to upgrade their facilities. With those funds, Members can recognize that the projects will be small; they will be spread among various locations; they include things like ball diamond construction, skating rink improvements, tennis court construction. In nearly half the instances, the money is spent on emergency repairs and upgrading of malfunctioning facilities. To be specific, we intend to spend the $72,000, for the most part, barring unforeseen requests yet to come, for some work at Beaver Creek, for some improvements at the community hall in Tagish, and possibly a playground construction at Upper Liard.
Mr. Phelps: I am looking at a document, Community and Transportation Services Contracts, where it shows capital agreements as of January 23, 1990, and it shows has Tagish Community Association - Tagish skating rink/playground: $27,000. Is that where this is to be found?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Unfortunately, I do not have my contracts listing with me. It is my understanding that the capital agreement is for work being done in the current fiscal year. The community hall improvements are budgeted for the next year. I expect that should clarify what the Member is seeking.
Mr. Phelps: It does clarify it. I would like to know whether or not there is any intention to provide any funding to the Carcross Community Club this coming year? The situation, as I understand it, is that there was some planning done, there is the intention to purchase a lot for a new community club, and I am wondering whether or not the community can expect more funding in order to build a new community club next year or the year after?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is asking whether or not there are any specific plans to construct a new recreation facility in Carcross - that is essentially the gist of the Members question, I believe. With the work that is currently budgeted, both through the capital agreement and in this budget, for improvements to the existing facility, I do not anticipate a new facility in the immediate future. The response that my branch has had in their visits to the community and from the response of Carcross residents, the priority is going to be given to water and sewer.
In terms of our spending priorities I do not see a new recreational facility in the immediate future. I understand, however, that the community has made an application to the community development fund for improvements to the existing facility. I cannot predict the outcome of that application but to try to answer the Members question in simple terms, it appears that the community and we are leaning toward upgrading and repairing and improving the existing recreation facility and concentrating our capital dollars on water and sewer.
Mr. Phelps: I just would like to put the Minister on notice that I do not think that that really is a consensus within the community. A lot of people would like to see a new facility fairly soon. The existing facility is almost as old as I am and not nearly in as good a shape as I am. It may not last too long. There is a feeling that there is a real need for a new facility, particularly with regard to curling, because it seems that the whole community gets involved in the curling club. Carcross, being blessed with the best and most moderate temperatures in the Yukon - the banana belt of the Yukon - has ice that is not really dependable. It would be nice to have artificial ice there. I simply want to make representation that I am sure you will be receiving demands from some people in Carcross for a new curling rink and community club. The land has been identified - and purchased, I understand - from White Pass. I think that it really is a feature that would enhance the community and really enhance a lot of activities in southern Yukon, because it would be a place for such things as the Southern Lakes Dog Race - to start at and finish at - and cross country skiing and things that a lot of people from Whitehorse and tourists enjoy. I am simply making that representation to you.
The water and sewage facility is expensive. It was of course seen as necessary because of concern over pollution of the lake system; we are upstream from Whitehorse, of course, and that gets people concerned down here. The willingness of the people to go along with that was not really because of their needs but more perceived as needs of Yukoners who live in the region, and a desire not to see pollution occur in the next few years. I just feel that that was done with good intentions but not because of personal needs or recreational needs or for selfish motives, in the sense that a community club could be considered for selfish motives more than something like water and sewer.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can appreciate the Members plea and representation for a recreation facility and I can particularly appreciate that, coming from a rural community myself and knowing how a focus can build around a recreation complex. Recreation facilities in rural facilities are a major instrument for various activities and overall enhancing an important quality of life. I have no problem with the Members representation. I guess what it amounts to is, with the identification of a similar importance associated with water and sewer services, that that is where we are concentrating our efforts to bring about an improved level of service to the community. That is not to say that a recreation facility is out of the question in the long term. I understand that the lot has been purchased for a new facility and, subject to available dollars over time, that is going to be looked at seriously. The short and the long of it is: we have placed dollars in this budget to bring the water and sewer service closer to reality.
As we have previously discussed, we will be constructing further phases of it. I appreciate the Members representation. I will take that fully into account in further dealings with the department and his community in terms of disbursing dollars that are available for capital projects.
Recreation Facilities in the amount of $72,000 agreed to
On Rural Electrification and Telephone
Rural Electrification and Telephone in the amount of $150,000 agreed to
On Whitehorse Waterfront Development
Whitehorse Waterfront Development in the amount of $25,000 agreed to
On Capital Block Funding
Capital Block Funding in the amount of $9,972,000 agreed to
On Block Funding Assistance
Block Funding Assistance in the amount of nil agreed to
Capital in the amount of $15,041 agreed to
On Allotments and Person Year Establishment
Allotments and Person Year Establishment agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on the following pages?
Community Services in the amount of $28,048,000 agreed to
On Municipal Engineering
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: This branch is quite critical to the maintenance and planning of services throughout all Yukon communities. This is the engineering branch that provides for the planning, design work and overseeing of projects, both in and outside of municipalities. There are no capital dollars assigned to this particular branch, because it is a personnel branch of engineers and administrators who work with the communities and provide the expertise level of support for the various installations that go on throughout the Yukon.
As indicated in the program objectives, it summarizes what the branch does. Those dollars are largely personnel dollars.
Chair: We will proceed with line-by-line.
On Branch Administration
Branch Administration in the amount of $233,000 agreed to
On Unincorporated Communities
Mr. Brewster: There is one thing I would like to get straight on that. With whom do you consult when you go to the communities?
I see the Minister looks puzzled. Quite often, I receive complaints from the small communities that you visit some of the people in the bigger businesses and do not consult with other people in the area. Do you go to an elected organization or do you end up taking advice from one businessman and not the rest of the community?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The practice is to deal with elected bodies first and occasionally beyond that. In other words, if you are in an unincorporated community, you would principally deal with a recreation association. On occasion, it may be the advisors who are in the community would go to a local business, like the lodges along the highway, for any kind of advice. That would be a business contact. In some communities, the bands would be the authorities.
The elected body of the council in the municipality would be the authority. It is community associations, bands and councils, depending upon the community. To go beyond that would depend upon the occasion for seeking advice.
Mr. Brewster: I gather then that there is actually no policy about who people should deal with. Quite often, I get complaints from different communities. They stay in one place, gas up and eat there and take more advice from them than from the rest of the people. It is quite apparent that there is no policy. I agree with the Minister that people should be dealing with the community clubs, the bands and the councils. At times, that does not happen. I was just wondering if there was a policy. It is apparent that there is not.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The policy is to deal with elected officials of that community first. If our engineers, technical people or administrators are dealing beyond those elected people, that is quite an accepted consultation process. It should not be to the exclusion of elected bodies.
That would be the policy, but I will confirm it for the Member. Since he has placed his concern on the record, it might help for that to be understood.
Unincorporated Communities in the amount of $440,000 agreed to
On Special Programs
Mr. Brewster: What are special programs?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: A good portion of this is related to the mosquito control program. Some of it is used for the purchase of the larvicide that we talked about earlier. Some of it is for the contract services for the aerial spraying. Some of it goes to utilities to store the supplies. All of those costs add up to nearly $100,000.
Special Programs in the amount of $98,000 agreed to
On Allotments and Person Year Establishment
Allotments and Person Year Establishment agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on the yellow page?
Mr. Brewster: On page 101, there is a line item Taxation Interest/Penalties with an amount of $0. I gather that everyone is so honest in the Yukon that no one is behind in their taxes. Are there no penalties?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It is impossible to estimate it, so the $0 figure is used. That is the case each year with that statistic. It cannot be predicted if anyone will be penalized with interest charges on arrears. It looks like $157,000 was collected the previous year. It is a zero figure because it is incalculable at the time that the budget is prepared.
Mr. Brewster: I find that very strange that with all our modern computers, you could not put it into the computer and come up with exactly what has happened. We do it with everything else but not here. I would think you would be able to get an average over 10 years and be right on with your new computers.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: We could do a guesstimate in terms of averaging past years records. The decision was simply taken in the statistics preparation that it is unrealistic to predict that people are going to be delinquent. So zero was used.
Chair: Are there any further questions on the additional pages? The green, blue, yellow or pink?
We will go back to Schedule A.
Mr. Phelps: I was wondering about page 103. Under hamlet operations and maintenance, we only have one hamlet, that is Elsa. Is that unrealistic in view of the present situation up there?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member raises a valid question for this point in time. At the time of the budget preparation, it was expected that there could well be some costs relating to the operation of the hamlet. As it turns out there are not, and no monies are being spent on maintenance of the Elsa hamlet. At the time of the budget preparation, there was an expectation some costs would be incurred.
Before we clear the vote I want to provide some information I provided in a previous debate on the budget relating to Mendenhall and Robinson. It was pointed out to me that I cited costs for the lots in those subdivisions at $3,000 and $8,000 respectively. More correctly, those were the development costs, because the actual lots sold for $6,000 and $7,000 in Mendenhall and $17,000 and $18,000 in Robinson. In the course of debate, my reference to $8,000 and $9,000 for Robinson was inaccurate for a full sale cost. It was accurate for the development cost.
The difference between the development cost and the market value is the equity portion that is written down over a 10 year period on the sale of those lots. I wanted to correct that for the record as it was pointed out to me. I understand the Leader of the Official Opposition has circulated the information.
Mr. Phelps: Does that mean one of my constituents spoke to you?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That is right.
Municipal Engineering in the amount of $771,000 agreed to
Chair: On Schedule A; Community and Transportation Services Operation and Maintenance for $53,440,000. Clear.
Some Members: Clear.
Chair: Community and Transportation Services Capital in the amount of $44,399,000. Clear?
Some Members: Clear.
Community and Transportation Services agreed to
Economic Development: Mines and Small Business
Hon. Mr. McDonald: By way of introduction, I would like to make a few remarks about the estimates and then perhaps pass out some handouts for Members to provide them with some information they had requested, not only in the supplementaries but information I think might be helpful to them in the main estimates discussion.
The 1990-91 budget requests will support the continuing program and delivery improvements as a result of the information gathered during the preparations for the Yukon Economic Strategy. During discussions with individuals throughout the territory, many avenues for improvement were identified and the capital budget, in particular, will build on the work begun in 1989-90 and extend the action further.
As Members know, the Yukon economy has been one of the fastest-growing regional economies in Canada for several years. As with many provincial economies, Yukon has shown signs of slower growth in the current year, due in part to mine closures in the middle of 1988 and early 1989. Other factors included falling commodity prices, lower harvests in some resource industries, and a weaker tourism spending. Governments will spend about the same amount in the Yukon in 1990, and regional trade is expected to be buoyed by increased consumer spending. Gains in the forest industry production are expected to help the economy post what we project to be a seven to nine percent growth rate for the coming year.
In 1990, production volumes in the mining industry should remain about equal to those of 1989, with no new mines in all likelihood going to production until 1991 at the earliest. Lower metal prices will result in a reduction in the value of production; however, exploration expenditures are expected to recover somewhat.
I am optimistic that the program directions that we are taking in economic development, together with the stabilizing economy, will produce results that will meet the needs of many Yukoners throughout the territory.
The operations and maintenance budget is, for the most part, a budget that demonstrates a tightening of expenditure patterns and a refocusing of program energies in order to address outstanding delivery improvements. Some new funding will be directed into continued activity respecting negotiations for a Northern Accord agreement.
Members will recall statements last year with respect to the one-stop shop approach to funding for business development initiatives and the improved services that would be promoted during 1989-90 through the consolidation of numerous business assistance programs into a single program with a single application process, the business development fund.
In addition, Members will recall the initiation of the community development fund in April of this last year, which focuses on promoting local economies through the development of new community infrastructure and services. In the upcoming budget year, this single service point concept will be further enhanced through the consolidation of service delivery throughout the Yukon. At present, rural Yukoners are served by resident business development officers for delivery of business development fund initiatives and by travelling Whitehorse-based community development fund officers from the community development office. While generally effective, this approach to servicing rural Yukon communities requires significant coordination among various program staff to ensure that all identified needs in communities and individual business enterprises are addressed in an efficient manner.
As I indicated to the Legislature earlier in the session, the community development fund has decentralized one position to Haines Junction from the Whitehorse office in order to better serve rural clients. In the future, rural officers in all major communities will provide services for both the community and business development funds. This single-contact approach is expected to improve the understanding in rural Yukon respecting available programs and funding sources and improve the ability to acquire funding quickly and trouble-free for approved applications.
Continuing work with the governments of the Northwest Territories and Canada to complete negotiations on the Northern Accord, respecting oil and gas resource management and revenues, is a major priority for the upcoming budget year. To this end, $400,000 has been identified in the operation and maintenance budget in the economic policy, planning and research branch to manage the process of continued negotiation. Our involvement is necessary, not only to secure revenue sharing, but to also ensure that Yukon business and employment benefits are realized in the development of northern oil and gas and to take an active role in the management of these resources, as well as to ensure the protection of the environment and that this be given the highest consideration. The money devoted here will allow us to further our discussions with the federal government and to work cooperatively with the Northwest Territories toward a Northern Accord and Beaufort Sea benefit sharing.
Person year resources dedicated to the mineral resource program have been increased by one position for the upcoming year, through the reallocation of a person year from another branch. This is a direct reflection of the importance this government places on the need for support to develop and maintain the mining sector.
In additional to the additional resources for policy and program development work in the mineral resources area, the department will be undertaking a number of significant improvements to the mining sector support programs: the exploration and incentives program and the prospectors assistance program. Discussions with the Prospectors Association and the Chamber of Mines during the past year, combined with four years of experience gained from operating the programs, have identified numerous areas where present program criteria could be improved to better target mining expenditures and investment. In addition to this, review of the program evaluations completed in early 1989 identified a number of program concerns with respect to maximum impact in the economy for every dollar invested. As a result of these evaluations, the exploration incentives program and the prospectors assistance program will be amalgamated into an improved Yukon mining incentive program. The targeted programs of the energy and mines branch will also continue to be delivered as they are now. These include the saving energy action loan - SEAL - program, the Yukon energy alternatives program and the internal energy management program.
Activity is proceeding currently to renegotiating the Economic Development Agreement with the federal government. All subagreements but one under the EDA expire on March 31, 1990, and the department is anxious to see each renewed. It is anticipated that the federal government will respond favourably with a one-year extension at this time, with further negotiations toward the long-term agreement to follow. The EDA has proven itself to be an effective tool for promoting economic planning and growth in strategic sectors and will benefit all Yukon people.
In response to an environment of tighter financial resources, the Department of Economic Development has continued the process of program evaluation in order to make program deliveries in an effective and efficient manner. The Members may have noted that the department has reduced the person year complement by four in 1990-1991. This does not in any way reflect a reduction in the services to the public but instead a serious response to the need to justify all the expenditures and program support. Two of the term positions retired reflect functions that have been vacant for more than 20 months. The responsibilities of these functions are being borne by other staff positions. The other two positions provided interim support in the business development office, which are unnecessary for continuing program needs, due to the shared-delivery approach I just mentioned.
To conclude, I would like to reiterate that the Yukon Economic Strategy details what I regard to be an ambitious series of tasks for the upcoming years and I am sure that the programs that we have established, that are in place, will go some distance to enhancing the departments performance with respect to meeting those expectations.
I will briefly describe what I have. I have a number of things that were requested during the last round of budget discussions on economic development. They include some legislative returns that I am providing only now because they are questions answered during Committee debate.
I have also incorporated a few other things that were not requested but are interesting and helpful, including an organizational chart for the department. There are a number of issues I am sure the Members will want to discuss, but we should take them in the order the Members prefer, so, I will sit down.
Chair: We will have a short recess.
Mr. Phillips: I would like to thank the Minister for the information he provided, but I would like to make one small suggestion and that is that if the Minister has this information in his hands he could give it to me the day before we go into debate. It is a lot of information to try to go through in a short period of time. If it is available it would certainly help matters to have it a little ahead of time.
I would like to start off with the economic development agreements. The Minister mentioned that we are looking at a one-year extension, with the possibility of longer term agreements in the future. Can the Minister elaborate on exactly what agreements we are talking about and what the terms of the agreements will be for the first year, and what he contemplates the terms to be for the following years?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: First, with respect to the provision of additional information, the staff was pulling this information together for the last couple of weeks. It was my intention to put it in one package. I am sure we will be on Economic Development for more than a day or two. I am sure there will be all kinds of opportunities for the Member to go through it.
The economic development agreements have been under negotiation since approximately September or October of 1989, when negotiations became active. Up until that time we had been making representations to the federal Minister to try to get negotiations underway. Apparently DIAND was undergoing some reorganization and were prepared to put forward initial discussion papers and then the actual negotiations began in the fall of 1989.
At the outset, I should say there has been no agreement reached that has been sanctioned by the federal political government. However, there is some good work near to completion between the administration of the YTG and DIAND. DIAND has taken responsibility for focusing all negotiations through that department for the federal government, and Economic Development in YTG has taken on the responsibility for conducting negotiations for all departments in the Yukon.
The small business agreement still has one year to run. We are talking about the renewable resources, mineral resources and the planning subagreements, and the potential for a Yukon tourism agreement. What we feel we have, as I indicated in the opening remarks, is a commitment to provide for an extension for one year in order to bring us ultimately in line with the same schedule that the federal government has with negotiating agreements for the Northwest Territories as well. We put to them that everybody had been requesting, and even the background documents had been suggesting, that a longer term agreement was appropriate and necessary for the orderly development of the territorial economies.
For their reasons, they are not in a position at this time to agree to more than a year. They have been talking about the possibility of funding an extension based on historic funding levels. That is also based on historic funding ratios.
The potential is there to get an agreement like the one we are currently operating under. We feel that the negotiations this time are advanced enough so that we can have the agreement in place prior to the end of the fiscal year. That will have us one step up from the position that we were in last year. There is a good likelihood that the three subagreements I mentioned first will be funded through DIAND: the mineral resources, renewal and planning.
The tourism agreement is still an unknown. I wish I could provide happy or more certain news, but I cannot.
Mr. Phillips: I share the Ministers view that we should have a more long-term agreement rather than a short-term agreement. We seems to be developing a little bit of a trend where we are almost playing catch-ups with these agreements. Last year was a good example where we were talking about negotiating new agreements, then all of a sudden in August we were given several hundred thousand dollars. I think there was $900,000 in a tourism agreement. We had to spend it by March 31 of this year.
The department was scrambling to notify people who were interested. That is probably not the most efficient way to plan. If we did the jobs in the summer, they would be a lot cheaper. Sometimes, however, it is nice to spread the work over the whole year.
When facilities are built in the middle of the winter, especially in the type of winter that we have had this year when it is -40 degrees C for three or four weeks in a row, it can be a lot costlier to build. That has to be built into the costs. We should be trying for a long-term agreement in order to get the best for our dollar, so we can plan a little more into the future.
I would like to touch on a couple of the contributions that have gone a little sour on us. One is the MV Anna Maria. What is the status of the MV Anna Maria? We recently heard media reports that buyers are difficult to find. Does the government still feel confident that it can recover all the money that it invested in that project?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The duration of the EDA has been a source of significant discussion between the two governments. There is no question about that. It is desirable that the work go ahead during the summer months, which requires advanced planning of at least a number of months prior to the beginning of the fiscal year. Many of the most worthwhile projects, that are best thought out and have the most impact on the territorial economy in terms of their stability, are those that are thought out years in advance.
If one expects the private capital to be pulled together on some of the bigger projects, one cannot expect that the capital can be assembled in a matter of months.
Quite often, it takes a lot longer than that. You cannot operate on the basis that there may or may not be an EDA. The point is well taken. It has been expressed before to the federal authorities. They understand where we are going, but they have some imperatives at the financial budgeting end and some difficulties getting long-term agreements past Treasury Board. The best they can do is to look for support for a project like this through departmental funding, which does not require Treasury Board approval. Anything longer than one year does. That is the reason we understand there to be some difficulty in pulling together a project or an agreement that is longer in duration than one year.
The MV Anna Maria was put on the auction block by Pan American. The deadline date for the first round was to be January 31, 1990, at which time the best bid would be considered but not necessarily accepted. As I understand it, we are not managing the bidding process, but we are keeping an eye on it. I understand that no serious bids were put forward at all. There is lots of room for speculation as to why that might be. In short, we still hope that a bid price will be put forward that will allow us to recapture the funds invested through the business development fund. It would be unrealistic to expect the funds originally invested through Canada/Yukon Tourism Subagreement to be recovered, but the funds we have invested ourselves are funds we think should be recovered. We do not yet have any assurance that will happen in the end, because the boat has not been sold.
Mr. Phillips: I do not think the Minister answered my question. Have we secured our money? How do we recover our money out of it? It looks like we have no interested buyers in the boat. What will happen if the boat has no one who is interested? What happens to the investment of the people of the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I thought I answered the question. If the boat cannot be sold and there cannot be any cash value attached to the assets of the company, then nobody gets any funds out of the project, and all the funds that were put into the project are lost.
However, there is the significant asset of the boat. We are in second position behind Pan American. We feel we have the ability to recover approximately $160,000 that we have put in. The only way we can recover that is if the boat is sold. If the boat is not sold, we cannot recover it.
Mr. Phillips: The Minister is saying that if no one buys the boat, we are out of luck with all the money, and all we end up doing is harboring the boat in the Carmacks garage lot forever.
The other area I wonder about is the Belvedere Hotel in Watson Lake that also had financial difficulties. I understand it is in receivership, and the Yukon government has an interest in that, as well. Has there been any change in that status?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The funds that have been put into the MV Anna Maria clearly, as the Member notes, cannot be recovered unless the boat is sold. Because nobody has bid to January 31 does not mean there are no interested parties; there are interested parties to my knowledge who are still seeking information and are still expressing some interest. There has been some discussion about the technical nature of the river run and whether or not it is realistic to pursue the boat running between Whitehorse and Dawson. There are suggestions of other uses to which the boat could be put and these are being communicated to potential buyers: anything from runs in the southern lakes district through to the suggestion I heard somebody kibitzing the other day across the floor of a restaurant taking day trips to Lake Laberge, or something of that nature.
The bottom line is that if the boat is not sold we do not recover any funds. We still feel it is a good asset and there will be bidders ultimately.
With respect to the Belvedere Hotel and the foreclosure, the situation is roughly the same although, as the Member knows, I am sure, the YTG legal counsel has obtained a default judgement against the company and has commenced some action to try to recover the funding from persons who have provided personal guarantees. The funding that YTG has itself actually advanced is in the neighbourhood of $75,000. That is what we would be looking for in an ultimate sale.
Mr. Lang: I want to follow up on the M.V. Anna Maria, which is a really sad story and one I am sure the Minister will remember for the rest of his life. I would like to ask the Minister: in view of the fact that he has mentioned that there are some people interested but who perhaps have not bid in the public auction for this outstanding boat, could the Minister tell us, or assure this House, that the government will not be joint venturing or helping to finance somebody to buy the boat?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No, we are not contemplating financing people to purchase the boat, to my knowledge. When the proposal was first put forward, it was considered to be a good risk. It was a good risk because it was felt that the concept was good and the private sector backers were reputable. I think they still remain reputable despite the fact that the project has run into trouble. There is a large number of private sector investors in the Yukon, currently living here, who have invested in the boat in the past. Some of those backers are still interested in seeing the boat run and are considering whether or not they are interested themselves in further supporting the project. We will not know until they do. It was a good concept. It was perceived at the time to be a good risk, and it had reputable backers.
That is not very helpful information, I realize. The situation as it stands right now, quite simply, is that Pan American has put it up for bid; we are providing the good offices of the Department of Economic Development to provide information to persons, but we are not, to my knowledge, contemplating support for any particular investor to purchase the boat and get it running.
Mr. Lang: Is it true that one of the reasons the boat was not successful was because of the way the motors were built: the props required too much water and would drag bottom and lose propellers? Is that one of the reasons?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The design flaw that the Member cites is a cause for concern, and probably one of the reasons why the boat had difficulty making the river run. Certainly low water was a factor and nobody doubts that. It left very little margin for error. Consequently, in low water years, the chances of running aground again would be very high. Consequently, for that reason, the business plan, as originally conceived, was ill fated and would cause one to consider that should they purchase this particular vessel that a lake run, such as a southern lakes run, or Whitehorse to Lake Laberge run might be a more appropriate business venture. It would certainly be less risky.
Mr. Phillips: I would like to move into a similar area but it pertains to some of the information the Minister gave earlier this evening. It is appropriate. I am going to be dealing with the table of grants and loans the Minister gave us. I would like to ask some questions about that. I rather enjoyed the first page of the document that the Minister gave us, because it says, the index of handouts for economic development. I think that will tie in with some of my questions.
On the first page, there are three non-repayable grants to the Yukon Development Corporation for $6,000, to the Yukon Development Corporation for $15,000, and to the Yukon Development Corporation for $25,000. What tourism project is the Yukon Development Corporation involved in, and what are the total costs of that project? Is this the total cost of the whole project?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not have the information with me at the present time on what exactly a particular project is. I can have that information available tomorrow. I was not quite prepared for a detailed discussion of particular projects in general debate. I can provide whatever information the Member is requesting on particular projects tomorrow.
Mr. Phillips: Yes, we will be asking some questions on some of these contributions tomorrow, so I would like to have the Minister bring that information back to the House.
Mrs. Firth: Why did the Minister not include what the project was for on these pages? We would not have to ask specifically on each item if he had. On the other information I received from the Minister for programming and approved projects, the purpose of the project was given so we could have some idea of what it is. Why was that not provided with this information?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is no particular reason. If Members have questions about particular projects, I will try to answer them in line-by-line discussion. I will have the information, and I can make it available.
Mrs. Firth: I noticed a non-repayable item on the second page under infrastructure: Business Womens Network for $1,736. I was under the impression that the Business Womens Network had declined to accept that grant. I think the Minister even met with some of the members of the executive who explained to him that they did not want that grant. I would like to know why it was included on this list, if that is the case.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The list that I requested was for all projects approved. Whether or not they have taken the funding is another story. If the funding was declined or turned back, it would still be listed, but it would not be shown. That is the only thing that I can think of as an explanation.
I did meet with the executive of the organization, and I knew before I met with them that they had turned back the contribution. We talked about a number of other things and the general purposes of their organization moreso than this funding application.
Mrs. Firth: It would only be fair to the Business Womens Network that this be clarified. This is to be a public document, so the impression that the media will have when they read it is that this group received this money. They were very specific that they did not want the money for their organization. It is incumbent upon the Minister to make that clear publicly that they did not accept the money.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is a well publicized fact that they did not take the money. They indicated that they would not be holding to the principle of not taking funding in the future. If some opportunities for support arose that could enhance the objectives of the organization, they would be considering it in the future.
They were clear that if they had the money, they would use their own resources. That is a sound principle and a well publicized one.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister outline for us tomorrow which ones have had the money? I would like to be aware of which programs have not gone ahead. His department should have that information.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I can provide that, but I do not know if I can provide it tomorrow. I will find out how easily it can be pulled.
Mr. Lang: The Minister gave a very full answer in the legislative return in answer to the question that I posed on Windy Craggy and Geddes Resources Ltd. He stated in the return, These comments included the conclusion that..., and it goes on. Could the Minister table the position in full that the government gave in September, 1988, to the B.C. Mine Development Steering Committee?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Is the Member referring to something the Member indicated before was something that came out of Renewable Resources?
Mr. Lang: I will just refresh the Members memory. He just tabled a legislative return on a question I asked December 6. He signed it on January 23, 1990, and I just got it today. That is interesting because I should have had it a long time ago. It had to do with a question about Windy Craggy.
It seems to me we have a comment from the overall position taken by the Government of the Yukon Territory. Could he provide us with the full position, as opposed to an excerpt?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not see any difficulty in that. I have not read the whole position myself, but I do not see any reason why it cannot be made public.
Mr. Lang: I would like to see the text in total. It is a very important project, especially to the MLA for Kluane. We would like to see what the various departments are saying in respect to a project that is going to a have significant effect on the territory in many ways.
Mr. Phillips: While we are on the topic of Geddes Resources and the Windy Craggy project, is the Ministers department or government providing any assistance to Windy Craggy on their project right now? Are they assisting them in any way on any particular part of the project?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: If the Member is referring to funding, the answer is no, largely because the mine and road access are in B.C., and our funding programs do not fund projects outside the territory.
If the Member is asking whether or not we have been in touch with Geddes Resources, the answer is yes. We do sit on the Regional Environmental Review Committee and we have provided what support we can there. We have the desire that should the mine go ahead, we take as much benefit as we can. There are some environmental questions that need to be addressed. We are not downplaying those at all. I am sure Renewable Resources will be providing comment with respect to environmental questions.
Mr. Phillips: This may relate to the answer the Minister just gave about the environmental questions. Has the government taken a position on the possibility of a bridge across the Tatshenshini? Has it looked into that at all? I know it is probably going to be the most controversial part of the mine itself; more controversial than the mine going in there is getting the ore to tidewater. Has the government looked into the road access, where it is going to go and keeping track of what Geddes Resources is doing in that regard?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Of course, the government knows, through the Regional Environmental Review Committee, what the proponent is requesting because the proponent has completed a road specification and corridor assessment report a year or more ago and filed it with the federal government. We have not, as I indicated in Question Period, taken a position with respect to these matters but, when the time comes, we will. As I think I reported in Question Period, the company has submitted a stage 1 report to the B.C. Mine Development Steering Committee but we have not yet received a copy of that report so we do not know what it says - at least, we have not received it as of today.
Certainly, we will be involved in the process, even though we will not be directing it. We must be careful that we do not interfere with B.C.s legitimate responsibilities. We have been careful not to. We have tried to provide what support and advice we can, but we will not impinge on B.C.s jurisdiction.
As I said, when there is an opportunity at an anticipated public process, we will be passing comment, but with respect to the environmental affects or even associated economic affects, in terms of a detailed report, our position has not been made, has not been approved and has not been communicated.
Mr. Phillips: Are we working on such a position now, so that it will be ready for what I guess will be called the second stage impact study that will go on in British Columbia? I understand from the Ministers comments that we will be an intervenor, just making a comment one way or the other, either for or against. I am just wondering if we are working on anything at all right now with respect to the Windy Craggy mine, or are we going to wait until the last minute?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We are not waiting, but we are not in a position to make anything public either. We are, as I have indicated, following the process through our participation on the Regional Environmental Review Committee. We hope to receive all the relevant documents. We have not received the most significant one: the stage 1 report. The stage 1 report will likely lead to requests for further information from the B.C. Mine Development Review Committee. They will likely require additional information, which they will then refer to as a stage 2 reporting. We have not taken a formal, or any detailed position, publicly. Should the occasion arise, we will take a position, but we are reviewing it internally and preparing for the day when we are required to pass judgement.
Mr. Phillips: I hope this is not another Kluane Park access story where we wait until all the presentations are made and the committee has almost made its decision before we even make a statement.
I hope we do not wait until that point in time before we take a stand one way or the other on it. I hope that we are doing some preliminary work and do have some basic guidelines with the conservation strategy that is coming out and is in its final draft stages and is almost ready for release. I hope we can get the ball rolling and make a reasonable presentation. I know there are a lot of expectations from the Yukon business people and also some strong concerns from people concerned about the value of the Tatshenshini River. It is something the government should get to work on now and should be prepared to deal with prior to a final announcement being made like they did when they waited for the Kluane Park access decision to be made.
There are also rumours of a platinum find in the Kluane area. Does the Minister have any information he could share with us on whether that platinum find looks like it will move into the mining stage in the near future? Does he have any word on that at all?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not want the Member to leave the impression that as of this evening we will get right on the Windy Craggy issue. We have been doing a great deal of work, but we are not in a position to comment publicly. The Member may dismiss this as being irrelevant, but I think it is very relevant: this mine is in British Columbia. The British Columbia government has not abandoned the review process to some northern government. They take their jurisdictional questions very seriously, and we are careful about how we respond.
The work is ongoing. It is detailed. We will respond to the extent we think we legitimately can, both on the environmental questions and the socio-economic elements. I am well aware of what they are. Certainly, we are taking a pro-active approach, as I have indicated on a number of occasions before.
The Wellgreen deposit that the Member makes reference to is something for which there is a cause for hope in the sense that the mine is at the feasibility stage. That is just short of production decision. The mine is potentially large - well, 10,000 tonne a day is what I think of as medium sized or large. It compares to 300 tonne a day for the Elsa mine and 20,000 for the Windy Craggy deposit. Faro is 12 or 13 tonne a day. In terms of size, it is probably an equivalent size to the operation at Faro. They are at the feasibility stage and are trying to assemble financing. They feel further exploration work is warranted. As far as mines go, it will not go into production in the next year or probably two, but there is a good chance if the nickel and copper prices, as well as the platinum prices, hold up.
Mr. Phillips: Can the Minister tell us if the mine has discussed with the government whether it will be a drive-in operation or will there actually be a town site at the mine site?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have not personally been involved in the discussions. I think that those particular discussions are premature because they are still doing the geology and engineering work. I think the mine - I am not sure, I have never been there - is about 30 miles or kilometres from Burwash. It is a half-hour drive from Burwash anyway. I have passed the site but I have not actually been in to the site. We have had preliminary contact but I would not call it the kind of detailed analysis that we are in with respect to the Mount Hundere project, which does address such issues as who will work there and that sort of thing.
I realize it is late. I would move that we report progress on Bill No. 19.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Mr. 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 Committee of the Whole.
Ms. Kassi: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 19, First Appropriation Act, 1990-91, and directed me to report progress on same.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:27 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled February 14, 1990:
Yukon Advisory Council on Womens Issues, 1988/89 Annual Report (M. Joe)