Wednesday, November 7, 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 to the Order Paper.
Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
Are there Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills.
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Alaska Highway pipeline
Mr. Phelps: I understand and would like to congratulate the new Governor of Alaska, Mr. Hickel, on his election yesterday. I understand that at one point in time he was chairman of Yukon Pacific Corporation, a large stakeholder in the consortium that is behind the All Alaska Gas Pipeline and the liquefied natural gas combination route. I am sure that all this has been put into blind trust, but it lends more urgency to the issue of whether or not the Alaska Highway gas pipeline is going to be the route that is chosen by the Americans to transport natural gas from Prudhoe Bay down to the Lower 49 or wherever the ultimate destination might be. Because of this new urgency, I am wondering what this government is doing to support the Alaska Highway gas pipeline as the option over the all- American LNG route?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: First all, let me say to the Leader of the Opposition that I have already, through the offices of the government, extended congratulations of this government and this jurisdiction to the new governor elect in Alaska, Mr. Hickel, who of course has been the governor before and is very well known throughout the north and indeed very well known on this continent, having been for a period the former President Nixons Secretary of the Interior.
The Leader of the Opposition is quite right that the governor elect has been associated with one particular project and that project has, I think, in the minds of Alaskans in recent years, been seen to have more vitality or more life, perhaps even more than the project that is already licensed and approved by Congress and Parliament, the project referred to by the Leader of the Opposition. I am of course absolutely certain that the new governor, having won office, will have a perfect separation between his private interests and the public interest.
I am by letter going to be communicating to the governor our hope that very, very early on, he and I can have a meeting to talk about a number of mutual interests, including a frank discussion about his intentions in this regard, because the situation has been, I think, very much in flux, and not for the least of reasons, the crisis in the Middle East has changed the geopolitical scenario quite a bit.
Mr. Phelps: Is the government going to be revisiting its strategy with regard to lobbying Congress as well, and taking steps to make its position clear in Washington?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am not sure what particular lobby the Leader of the Opposition is talking about. As the Member knows, we have a publicly expressed commitment to lobby Congress with respect to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge situation, something that I understand from Governor Hickels comments is a large divide between us. The situation in terms of lobbying Congress on the particular pipeline proposals I think is not something that we are committed to do in the short run. When doing such lobbies, one looks for a propitious time. We have made it a practice when contemplating such initiatives outside of our national boundaries to always to do so in complete consultation with the Department of External Affairs, so that we do not get any wires crossed or work at cross purposes with our national government.
Mr. Phelps: Does this government intend to meet with officials from Foothills with regard to the new urgency surrounding the routing of the gas pipelines?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am sure it will not surprise the Leader of the Official Opposition to hear that we have had rather frequent contact with officials from Foothills in the last several months. I know my colleague, the Minister of Economic Development, and his officials have had even more contact than I have. I met with Foothills representatives and their Washington lobbyists within days of Saddam Husseins attack on Kuwait and one of the things that they talked to me about at that time was how fluid the situation had become in terms of the energy developments in our area as a result. They believed there was suddenly new reason, in view of their Washington office, for new optimism for the prospects for their project.
I do have to say, though, that they were anticipating carefully the results of the congressional elections that were held yesterday. I am sure parties like that, as well as our governments in Ottawa and here, will want to be analyzing those results to see what impact they will have on the energy debates in the United States.
Question re: Alaska Highway pipeline
Mr. Phelps: With regard to the old Alaskan routes and the liquid gas ships, the concern about the potential for environmental disasters has been raised by speakers from time to time on both sides of the House. The liquid gas tankers are supposed to be huge and will be travelling the same crowded waterways as the large oil tankers. If they happen to rupture or meet with disaster, the potential for an explosion is great.
Will this government be doing anything in a public way to express its concern about the environmental impact for the all-American liquid gas route?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We are on record for already having done that. Let me just elaborate to the Member that it is fact that the knowledge of the geography of this part of the world in Washington and Ottawa is not always great. Not everyone realizes that Prince William Sound is a long way from the North Slope. Nonetheless, there has been appropriate concern everywhere on the continent about such projects as a result of the Exxon Valdez incident. That continues to properly colour public opinion in both of our countries.
But I think there is another problem for the proponents of the liquid gas route and that is that they are often the same people who are pushing to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The arguments for opening up ANWR all have to do with energy security for the United States. The argument is made that there is a demand and a need for this energy in the Lower 48. The trouble is, the LNG proponents are really pushing for a project that is about exporting product to the Asian markets. The contradiction between their two positions will not only become more obvious over time, but is already obvious to the very astute players in Congress who are watching this issue.
Mr. Phelps: I tend to agree with what the Minister is saying in that regard. I am curious as to whether or not he would also agree that we ought to be playing what I see to be one of our trumps, and that is the issue of the damage potential of the LNG route. I am wondering whether or not it is the intention of this government to raise that concern in the south, say with the Province of B.C., which is exposed along the coast to disasters involving oil and gas being shipped from Alaska.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: On the basis of several conversations with the present Governor of Alaska, and conversations with leaders in other jurisdictions including British Columbia, I believe there is a general concern about this question all along the west coast of the continent of North America. Every jurisdiction, whether it is Alaska, the Yukon, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon or California, shares the concern about this. There have been a number of occasions when the governors of those states have spoken out. Certainly, we have had occasion between our jurisdictions to have discussions on this question, but to the extent that the Member opposite is, in his question, making a representation that this government should be pushing this matter even further, I have to say we could not agree more wholeheartedly. We have raised it in the past, and we will continue to press this concern, not only in the national capitals of Ottawa and Washington, but also in a cooperative, and I hope, a constructive way, with those west coast jurisdictions, and in particular, with the new administration in Alaska as it takes office.
Question re: School/South Alaska Highway
Mrs. Firth: My question is for the Minister of Government Services with respect to the Mary Lake school. Yesterday, I asked the Minister to table several documents in the Legislature this week. I would like to ask the Minister if he has consulted his department on the information I requested, and if he is prepared to give us a commitment at this time as to when the information will be ready. Will we have it for this week?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have, indeed, consulted with the Department of Government Services. I have reviewed the requests of the Member as per previous correspondence and her questions in the House. I have directed that material be prepared accordingly. Whether or not it will be available for tomorrow, which will be the last sitting day of the House, I cannot be certain, but I will endeavour to do what I can to provide the information requested by the Member as it is available in a public forum.
Mrs. Firth: I am concerned about the Ministers last comment, as it is available in a public forum. Is he telling me I will not be getting all of the information I have requested? Could he give us a commitment as to whether I will be getting all of it, since he has done such a thorough review? If I am not going to be getting all of it, which pieces of information will they not be providing us?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: From previous correspondence that we have had, the Member knows that some information is not available in a public forum. Specifically, information that is not available is information relating to proposals by contractors. As the Member knows, that type of information is proprietary information, but other elements of the Members request will be provided. I believe the Member raised a concern about various change orders and costs related to the South Highway school. We are assembling that information as best we can for the work that is completed. I will be providing it to the House.
Mrs. Firth: Will the initial bid be provided? I believe that is public information. I agree with the Minister on the proposal part, but will the information on the original bid of the Atco Trailer Co. be made available? That is public.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not perfectly clear what the Member is referring to. If the Member is referring to the bid of Atco, in the same context as any proposal from a contractor, that is proprietary information and cannot be provided. If the Member is talking about the specifications of the contract, that is available and will be provided. With respect to the dollars involved in the contract, I believe that will be provided as part of the information, both from the original costs and the changes in the costs as additional work got added on to the project.
Question re: Emergency telephone number
Mrs. Firth: I have a new question regarding a new matter for the same Minister. It is in regard to the 911 emergency service number.
This is another issue on which I have had correspondence with the Minister over the last six months. The last correspondence indicated to me that there were some deficiencies in the report that was being done by Northwestel. I understood those deficiencies had been addressed in the very early weeks of August.
I have asked the Minister for a copy of the report from Northwestel, and I still have been unable to get a copy of that report. Will the Minister provide me with a copy of that report and the recommendations, so I can proceed with my research on the matter?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: To tell the Member quite specifically, I am not sure whether the report is a public document. I have to check on that. The report was done was done by Northwestel, in conjunction with my communications branch. As the Member correctly identified, there were a number of questions brought about by the report and considerable work done by my communications branch to clarify those questions. I do not believe that has changed the original report but there is a considerable amount of documentation that followed that original report. I will accept from the Member as notice the issue of whether or not that original document can be made public or whether it should be made public with the supporting documents or whether the entire information is considered confidential by Northwestel. I will explore that and get back to the Member.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister corresponded with me and in my correspondence he said he will give me a copy of the report as soon as he receives it and is able to review it. I waited for six months. I communicated with him for six months. The first time I ask for it in the House, he stands up and tells me that maybe it is not public. Now, it is either going to be made available to me or not. Or am I just going to keep getting these letters from the Minister making all these promises? I would like to ask the Minister if he would come back and tell me again tomorrow, because I am not going to wait another six months: am I- going to get the information or not?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am trying to be perfectly honest with the Member and I am trying to tell the Member that I cannot tell her today whether the information that has been exchanged between Northwestel and my communications branch is a public document. And I say that in open honesty to the Member because I do not know if I am under any commitment not to release that information. What I can tell the Member, in respect of 911, is that I am reviewing the entire issue as directed by a resolution of this House and I am expecting, before this session concludes or by Christmas, to report progress on our developments, our plans and our commitments in relation to 911.
Mrs. Firth: I guess there is only one question left to ask the Minister just to see how sincere the government is in their commitment to the emergency service. Can the Minister tell us if there is any money in this new budget for it, in the 1991-92 budget? Has any money been set aside for the emergency 911 service? Let him answer the question himself, Piers.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The short answer is no. The explanation of the reason for no money in this particular budget for the 911 service is that we have not completed a full costing analysis, as the Member recalls from debate in the House, and she promoted it. There was a request for a working group to be struck to examine various options in relation to the creation of a 911 service. The Member knows that if I am to follow the recommendations of the resolution by Members in this House, that there is still some considerable work to be done. The preliminary work is nearly completed. As I indicated to the Member, I will report to the House before Christmas more precisely of our commitments in respect to that service.
Question re: Destination Yukon
Mr. Phillips: I have a question for the Minister of Tourism regarding the recently launched Destination Yukon program. Destination: Yukon recently completed an eight-city tour promoting Yukon. Why, when they were specifically promoting the Yukon, did his department not see fit to include representatives from the Celebration 92 committee on the trip? After all, Celebration 92, the Alaska Highway Bicentennial, will become the single greatest attraction of the Yukon in the next two years.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I want to first of all make a correction. There were more than eight cities on that tour of Destination Yukon, which he correctly said was launched last month.
The purpose of Destination Yukon is to market the Yukon as a unique destination for travellers from across Canada and the United States. What we are attempting to do, in linking up with partners in the airline industries and major tour companies, is to promote tours of the Yukon Territory itself. They are not promoting special attractions or special events such as the 1992 anniversary celebration of the Alaska Highway.
Mr. Phillips: That is remarkable. We spend hundreds of thousands of dollars sending people all across the country talking to all the tour managers all across North America, and we do not talk about one of the most major events happening in tourism history in the Yukon.
Did the Minister or his department request any assistance or information from Celebration 92, prior to going on the tour? I am not talking about just two days before, like they did. I am talking about informing them about the tour a month in advance so that they could provide some information to the Department of Tourism for the tour.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I think a correction is in order. A lot of our marketing materials and various marketing programs have substantially promoted the 1992 Alaska Highway celebration. As I said in my response to the first question, Destination Yukon is an entirely different program designed to market the Yukon in 1991 with tour packages of the Yukon. It has got nothing to do with 1992. I am very surprised that the Member opposite, the critic of Tourism, knows nothing about that.
Mr. Phillips: The Minister and I have to disagree. It is absolutely ludicrous that the government is spending all this money on Destination Yukon and is not highlighting Celebration 92 in the promotion. I think they should be doing that. I would like the Minister to give us assurances that if they go any further on any promotion or marketing for Destination Yukon that they consider Celebration 92 a priority and promote it as such.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Yes, we are going to have a difference of opinion on this one. Destination Yukon, next year, in the 1991 program, will definitely market the 1992 highway celebrations, but, as for this year, it will not.
I want to emphasize to the Member that the purpose of launching a brand new program is to make sure it is successful. You do not give the market a mixed message by promoting 1992 celebrations. Dummy.
Question re: Destination Yukon
Mr. Phillips: Surely the Minister of Tourism knows how the tourism industry works. He knows that when people are planning a trip, they do not plan it for next week but for two or three years hence. The best thing we could be doing is promoting Celebration 92 every year until it happens. I am asking the Minister if he will reconsider that and start promoting Celebration 92 and consult with the people involved when doing so.
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Member opposite is not listening to my answers. I have already told him that in other marketing programs initiated by this government and by the Yukon Tourism Industry Association, we are marketing the 1992 celebrations; in our 1991 travel guide, just off the press; it is clearly a part of the Tourism North promotion material, in partnership with the jurisdiction of British Columbia and Alaska through the joint marketing agreement. We are continuing to do so. We are marketing the 1992 highway celebrations in a big way and have supported - to a large extent, with $500,000 last year alone - the Yukon Anniversaries Commission.
I have just pointed out four separate marketing programs where we are actively promoting the 1992 celebrations in a big way.
Mr. Phillips: All I asked the Minister to do is consider highlighting Celebration 92 over the next two years in any Destination Yukon programs. It is a significant event. We know dollars are getting tighter in the tourism industry and the Ministers own figures show that. The Minister should be promoting, at every opportunity, Celebration 92 and Yukon tourism. I am asking if he will do that.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I have given him four separate examples where we are producing marketing literature promoting the 1992 celebrations of the construction of the Alaska Highway.
On Destination Yukon, we are launching a new program designed to specifically market tours of the Yukon as a unique specific destination. We are doing it this year to launch tourism 1991. We do not send out mixed messages while trying to market a new program by introducing the marketing of a special event that does not take place next year, but 1992.
Mr. Phillips: Perhaps the Minister could tell us then why his department waited until approximately two or three days prior to the Destination Yukon tour going on its way before they even talked to Celebration 92 about the tour. Why did it not consult with them before that and ask for their input prior to that?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am absolutely surprised with the ignorance of the tourism industry shown by the Member opposite. The Member should know that the Government of Yukon in marketing all its programs does so in partnerships with the Tourism Industry Association.
For Destination Yukon we are in partnership with major airlines, tour companies and travel companies. They were consulted and all of us together, in partnership, made decisions as to how we are going to promote Destination: Yukon.
Question re: Traplines
Mr. Nordling: I have a question for the Minister of Renewable Resources with respect to traplines.
One of my constituents has a registered trapline, number 284, called Upper Lake Laberge. In fact, it takes in a huge area from north of the Takhini River Bridge to Lake Laberge, covering the Takhini Hot Springs area and the Pilot Mountain subdivision. In 1987, she applied to the concession and compensation review board for compensation. Since then there has been correspondence back and forth and her trapping concession has been renewed; however, my understanding is that she is still waiting to make a presentation to the review board for compensation. In August of this year she was promised a meeting with the board by the end of October. I know that the Minister is deeply involved in this case and I would ask what the holdup is and why my constituent cannot get a meeting with the board?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I want to thank the Member for his question. I regret to inform him I do not know the particular reason this case is not coming before the trappers compensation board, but I will raise that matter with officials in my department and get back to him with information as soon as possible.
Mr. Nordling: The Minister has signed letters regarding this trapline concession, and letters clarifying his letters, and the Minister is even named in a Supreme Court Petition that was adjourned last January pending the outcome of the application before the board. I would like to ask why the Minister has not followed up on this case and assisted in setting up a meeting between the board and my constituent?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Again, I was not aware of the delay. I thought the matter was settled, and I will ask my department officials why it is stalled.
Mr. Nordling: It appears the concession and compensation review board was established to deal with exactly the sort of thing my constituent was looking for. Is this case unique or is he having trouble with the whole system that has been set up to compensate people with respect to traplines and land that has been alienated by other users?
Hon. Mr. Webster: To the best of my knowledge there are no difficulties incurred by the compensation board dealing with these matters. Again, on this particular issue, I will look into the matter and get back to the Member as soon as possible.
Question re: Workers Compensation Board building
Mr. Brewster: On October 29, page 27 of Hansard, the Minister of Workers Compensation stated, The Workers Compensation Board will be constructing a building with occupancy date October 1991. What is the proposed cost of this building?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I do not have the exact cost of that building right before me. I would have no problem bringing it back tomorrow. It is on record. I just do not have the exact figures with me.
Mr. Brewster: I find it very strange that they come up in the budget speech and make all these glowing remarks and then do not have an answer. Is any of the office space going to be rented out to the government or to private business?
Hon. Ms. Joe: It is my information that the building will be used for the sole use of the Workers Compensation Board.
Mr. Brewster: How does the Minister justify the statement that this move will help local economy, except in a short building period? What about the loss of revenue to the private offices left vacant?
Hon. Ms. Joe: It is my understanding, from the information I have received, that there is a need for office space in the Yukon. It has been evidenced by the information that has been given to us. There is the criticism, too, that we would be interfering with private enterprise if we did rent out space to other people, other than the Workers Compensation Board. It is a good investment by the Workers Compensation Board, and they have done a very good job in regard to investment. The Member for Kluane knows that.
Question re: Extended care facility, Whitehorse
Mr. Lang: The Minister of Health and Human Resources mentioned the other day that the Workers Compensation Board would be involved in the construction of the extended care facility. Could the Minister inform this House in what manner the involvement of the Workers Compensation Board is going to be in this particular project?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As I indicated the other day, the scope of the extended care facility project had been expanded to not only include extended care, but one pod of the building will provide rehabilitation services to clients of the Workers Compensation Board, people who are now sent south for rehabilitation services, because there is nothing available here in the Yukon Territory. By the Workers Compensation providing the capital for that part of the project, and through arrangements with the Department of Health and Human Resources to operate it, we will be providing a rehabilitation, service for victims of occupational injuries who need that rehabilitation for the first time in the Yukon Territory.
In examining the project, we looked at the possibilities of doing something like this, and it was just a natural opportunity for us to add to the extended care facility. There are similar types of physical requirements for the two types of space. There are a lot of savings to be achieved by integrating the operation and maintenance between the extended care, rehabilitation and hospital. We were taking advantage of those savings, plus a very innovative financing package involving the Yukon Housing Corporation, the Workers Compensation Board, and the Department of Health and Human Resources, which we believe will save us money in the capital costs, as well as on the operating costs of the facility.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister tell this House the exact financial commitment that has been made by the Workers Compensation Board toward the capital costs of this building?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am trying to go by memory, but I think it is in the order of magnitude that the Workers Compensation Board by agreement will be contributing something like $250,000 a year with an annual accelerator to the operating costs, and that is how their contribution will flow into this project. As the Member noted the other day, the total project costs are $10.7 million. There will be a $3.3 million contribution from the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation; the other money will be coming from this government and be voted through the Housing Corporation, which will be the project manager.
Mr. Lang: The initial reason for this building was mainly for extended care, and urgency has been expressed by all Members of this House that this facility be constructed as quickly as possible in order to meet the real need out there as it presently exists. In view of the fact of what we had initially discussed, that the extended care facility has changed fairly significantly with this addition, is this going to cause a delay in the actual completion of the extended care portion of the facility?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No, quite the opposite. The Member has asked this question in a different form earlier, and I indicated it will not cause a delay. We have been barraged simultaneously about the delays in this facility, but we have also received criticism from the other side about operating costs, rising program costs and person years. I should tell the Member that it is a very, very significant operating cost for the total facility, a much more greater concern to us than the capital cost. To operate this facility with 24-hour care for this number of people, over 40 person years are going to be required. The first of them are being proposed to be voted this year. They will be in place working for the patients who need this kind of care who are now in Macaulay Lodge. So these people will be going to work at Macaulay Lodge, working with these kinds of people, and they will move with those patients into the extended care facility when it opens, we hope, in the winter of 1992. So the planning that has gone through is, I think, very sophisticated. It involves total cooperation between the agencies. I believe that we are achieving not only some savings on the capital side but also some savings on the operating side, because as much as this is a well-needed project - everybody supports this project - it is also, in operating terms, a very, very expensive facility. I am sure that will not surprise the Member. We had to be concerned about how we did that, leading to the discussions with the Housing Corporation and with the Workers Compensation Board. I know there was a very negative comment by Members opposite about it, and there was a negative headline from the Members opposite even when we announced it. We think this is a very sound plan.
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member conclude his answer.
Question re: Extended care facility, Whitehorse
Mr. Lang: I just want to pursue one more question with respect to this particular complex. The concern I have is that we voted money last year for plans, in order that we would get an early start on construction. Is the Minister then telling us that the addition of the rehabilitation wing to this complex has been built into the architectural plans, so that they will be able to go out to tender first thing this spring?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am looking for ground-breaking in the spring. The architect was selected earlier this year, in the spring or the early summer. The conceptual design stage is now just about complete. I hope to be able to make that public. We are looking for the project to start in the spring and to be open in the winter of 1992.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will now proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Speaker: Motions Other Than Government Motions.
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS
Clerk: Item No. 1, standing in the name of Ms. Kassi.
Speaker: Is the hon. Member prepared to proceed with Item No. 1?
Ms. Kassi: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Motion No. 17
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Old Crow
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Citizens Forum on Canadas Future must, as a prerequisite to any meaningful discussion of and inquiry into Canadas constitutional future, be representative of the diversity of Canadians; and
THAT this House urges the Prime Minister of Canada to appoint a representative of the northern territories to the panel of the Citizens Forum on Canadas Future.
Ms. Kassi: I brought this motion to the House because it appears that the federal government has initiated a public relations committee on the Constitution and once again it will undoubtedly make the expected recommendations. The Government of Canada will do everything it can by using the public media to make Canadians believe that the committee is both representative and comprehensive in dealing with what concerns Canadians.
Once again, northerners have been overlooked and ignored. In 1982: the repatriation of the Canadian Constitution, with no input from northerners or aboriginal people. In 1987: the constitutional amendment or Meech Lake Accord, again with no input from northerners or aboriginal people. Is it the message that the north need not consider itself as part of the constitutional process or as part of Canada? We, the people of the north, do need a voice and our concerns need to be listened to, particularly after the 1990 Indian summer of discontent.
This is not the first time such an unrepresentative process has happened and apparently the Prime Minister has forgotten the certain end of such a process. The failed approach of the First Ministers Conference on Constitutional Concerns is a great example. If you qualified as a first minister, which apparently means you do not reside north of 60, you were allowed input. Yet again, with the Meech Lake Accord, First Nations and other national concerns were conveniently forgotten and ignored. The stand of my dear friend, Elijah Harper, was an unexpected thorn in the side of the Prime Minister, a thorn of which we are proud, as the Meech Lake Accord did not recognize the north or the entrenchment of aboriginal rights into the Constitution.
We, as people affected by such constitutional changes, have always found it hard to believe the public relations material of the Prime Ministers Office. This material always tells us how we may contentedly accept these new constitutional directions, as ones we want, need or desire.
We are never asked for our input and consultation, or even acknowledged. After all that has taken place to now, I find it ironic we are still being ignored. What is the problem here?
It strikes me as odd to ignore an entire area of current constitutional development and the people these developments represent. It is easy for the federal government to forget about the north, but it is not so easy to forget about the north when it is collecting resource royalties.
The north is in a unique position in Canada. With aboriginal people forming a large percentage of the population, the federal government has made an apparently solid commitment to such issues as settlement of claims and negotiating indigenous self-government, yet refuses to entrench those into the Constitution.
The concept and implementation of self-government will have a major impact on constitutional direction, both within Canada and worldwide. Yet the Prime Minister did not think it necessary to involve those people directly involved in such issues. Unity and complete dialogue in Canada cannot happen without the involvement of northerners and aboriginal people because we are not going to sit idly by and not expect our rightful place in this country.
I am glad to see Mr. Mulroney has seen fit to appoint an aboriginal lawyer to this process. I am sure she will provide much help and insight. I trust this House will send the strongest message possible that in order for this committee to approach anything resembling representation of the diversity of Canada, that a northern member be appointed to the Citizens Forum on Canadas Future.
Mrs. Firth: There is a comment made about people who cannot do two things at one time, like someone cannot walk and chew gum at the same time. I just noticed that the Member who just spoke can stand, talk and chew gum at the same time.
The motion that we are dealing with today is with respect to the new Citizens Forum on Canadas Future. Obviously, the Prime Minister has chosen this as a method of consultation, as governments do when the waters start getting a little hotter. He has finally decided to hear some of the opinions of the people who work every day, pay their taxes, pay their mortgages and raise their kids: people like you and I.
As the previous Member said, this could be perceived to be somewhat of a public relations committee; however, I think there will be some merit to this group going out to talk to Canadians just to confirm the diverse opinions and points of view that Canadians have.
We hear different bits of news from back east about the opinions on Canada from people who live in Ottawa and Toronto. Quebec, of course, presents a different point of view. Somehow, middle Canada seems to get lost in that whole discussion. Then we hear about the west. And then we hear about the far north. The government seems to remember there is something happening in the north country and there are people up there, that every so often we do something or make a statement and rock the boat a little bit and then people remember those people up north and decide they better check to see what they want.
This motion is a response to being overlooked and ignored again, as the previous Member said, that we do again make waves so that the rest of Canada does not forget about us.
The only concern I have with respect to the motion the Member has presented to the House this afternoon is referring to us and the Northwest Territories as the northern territories to the panel of the Citizens Forum on Canadas Future. Like every other group that I suppose that is clamoring to get recognition and representation on this committee, I think we, too, in the Yukon may as well put our bid in to have more specific representation that committee as opposed to just being referred to as a representative of the northern territories to the panel of the Citizens Forum on Canadas Future.
Mrs. Firth: For that reason I would like to propose an amendment to Motion No. 17, the motion that has been introduced to the House by the Member for Old Crow. I move
THAT Motion No. 17 be amended by deleting the words northern territories and replacing them with the word Yukon.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Whitehorse Riverdale South
THAT Motion No. 17 be amended by deleting the words northern territories and replacing them with the word Yukon.
Mrs. Firth: The reason I proposed this amendment was so that we, as the Yukon Legislative Assembly, could be very specific in stating that we did not want just some kind of northern representation on it because it just contributes to the mentality of other parts of Canada of just referring to us as northerners. We felt the other northerners of Canada could make their own representations to the Prime Minister.
We felt it would be important that the Yukon Legislative Assembly make representations on behalf of only the people they represent. We wanted to make it quite specific that we want a representative from Yukon to be on the panel of the Citizens Forum on Canadas Future. We do not feel that is an unreasonable request in light of the diversity of the environment and living conditions we experience in the north and the great future potential of the north when it comes to Canada as a whole. I do not think anyone could disagree with the principle that the future of Canada could lie in the northern parts of the country. I think we should be taking a stand and more specifically representing the cause for the Yukon and our own people.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We were just discussing with the House Leader whether or not I should to speak to this now because, if I had been speaking to the main motion as opposed to the amendment, I could have spoken much more briefly. I could have spoken just to the motion as it was written. Now I will have to direct myself more precisely to the amendment, to which I have some reservations. I will explain why.
I think, given the difficulties we have been through in this country in the last little while, it was just a matter of time before such a consultation as the Prime Minister has initiated was done. According to the expert readers of public opinion, the pollsters, it is a fact that there is great skepticism in the public mind about the political leadership, or about politicians generally, in the country. There is some feeling, by people who have watched the processes by which our Constitution was patriated in 1982, that at the constitutional conferences since, and even the several rounds of talks around Meech Lake, a feeling that the political leadership, or the conventional political machinery, has failed us.
That is not a partisan comment. That is an observation that everybody who is somehow involved in the process has been, in some way, damned by. The process itself was severely criticized by most ordinary citizens. Most people who watched the premiers coming out and being scrummed occasionally, but spending the rest of the time behind closed doors, found that not surprising. In the end, since it ended in failure, it was a frustrating and not very elevating process.
All these things have led the national government to conclude that the public would be more inclined to trust a group of citizens, albeit a group of citizens of which many are closely associated with a national government party, but people who are eminent Canadians, people who have achieved some success or some repute in their profession, going out and holding hearings around the country on the question of our countrys future.
The assessment of public opinion is probably right, that the public did not want to have itself prematurely focussed on excessively technical debates, or arguments, about clauses or texts of constitutions but, rather, an opportunity to speak from the heart, and to express their passions and feelings about this country.
There has been some skepticism about whether or not this is the right time. There is some feeling by critics that having such a process going on now is a major distraction and, in time, is intended to divert public attention away from the serious economic problems of the country. I think it is more likely that there is still some weariness, some kind of mental fatigue and that the public may even be slightly shell-shocked by the recent constitutional discussions. Ideally, the national government would have liked a longer cooling off period, more time to have some rest and reflection from the kind of constitutional debate, which we have been corrupted by for a lot of the time, a lot of the time that most of us in this House have been in politics.
The judgment that we should have a group of citizens go out and tour around the country now was probably dictated by the fact that the national government has two or three years left in its mandate. I believe the Prime Minister very much wants to see Quebec reconciled to the constitutional family of Canada, which is why the Meech Lake process was started.
I think the failure of the Meech Lake Accord and the reaction of Quebec, the rise of the nationalist forces there, probably means that the restoration of federalism, as we used to know it, is now probably impossible. Any prospect that Quebeckers would content themselves with the kind of constitutional arrangements that operated up until now, I think, is a faint hope and that one way or another Quebec has determined to decide for itself its future relationship with Canada.
I suspect that the hearings of the group that the Prime Minister has appointed, the citizens forum, are not going to have very much influence on public opinion in Quebec. And I doubt that this forum will attract much attention in Quebec because the province of Quebec has established a much larger group and a much more significant body, in terms of Quebec interests and Quebec public opinion, to carry out the same exercise.
We, in this Legislature, have established our own committee to look at some of these questions - our relationship with Canada - as has Alberta, as has New Brunswick, and I suspect other jurisdictions will as well.
The problem as I see it and the reason for the motion and the reason I would like to speak to the amendment is that there are many groups of people in this country who had problems with the Meech Lake Accord and many of them felt frustrated by the fact that they had no access to the process, that there were no parliamentary hearings that went around the country and that many provincial Legislatures did not hold hearings. The project that the Prime Minister is engaged in is an attempt, after the fact, to do some binding and healing of some of the wounds and some of the grievances and some of the bad feelings that came out of that.
But I think it must be said that the kind of frustration, the kind of feeling of alienation, that we experienced in the Meech Lake process is not new. We felt it of course, during the patriation exercise in 1982 when, at the last minute, without any consultation with us, an amendment was introduced into the Constitution that meant that we would no longer be able to determine our own constitutional future in Canada in negotiations with the national government but would instead have that subjected to a provincial veto and ultimately our future would be determined by seven provinces. That again is not new. There is a motion on the Order Paper later today which addresses another issue that has been a problem for a long time because Yukoners did not have any voice in a decision that affected them profoundly.
I think the point of an exercise like the citizens forum ought to be to really demonstrate to the citizens of the country that the groups that felt left out, the groups that were not heard and the groups that felt alienated by the previous process will be listened to. I think the north, the territories, both of them, have real reason to be deeply concerned on this score.
There are two parts of Canada that have unresolved constitutional relationships with Canada; two parts of Canada whose situation in the country is in doubt; two parts of Canada who have not felt fully at home in the present constitutional arrangements. Those two parts of Canada are one: Quebec; and two: the northern territories.
I would argue that much has been done in the last decade. Much has been done throughout our history to attempt to accommodate Quebec. Quebec, nonetheless, has felt dissatisfied with the arrangements that operate. Many Quebeckers, perhaps the majority according to the opinion polls today, are looking for a new relationship with Canada, one that may even see the creation of a new country. That situation, I want to say, and I speak personally from this point of view, would be tragic, because I do not believe that Canada would survive for long if Quebec leaves. I know there are western Canadians that believe we should tell Quebec to be gone, and to hell with them. I have a very, very different view and believe Canada would be a very fragile and vulnerable entity, indeed, were Quebec to leave. The continental forces that would tend to draw parts of Canada into the United States would begin to operate immediately and the country would have great difficulty surviving.
The second area is the north. I do not believe great attention has been given by any government of any political stripe to responding to the aspirations of the people of the north: neither the aboriginal people in the north, nor the non-aboriginal people. At this particular moment in history, it is interesting to state that if you look at the two territories together, about half our population is aboriginal and half is non-aboriginal. This is the one place in the country where aboriginal people play a significant role in public government. That is not true anywhere else in Canada. It is certainly not true in the provinces.
There are processes underway that are important for our region, but which are also important for Canada: negotiations like the land claims, devolution talks, particularly talks about matters like the Northern Accord. The kinds of processes of consultation we have seen resulting in the Economic Strategy or the Conservation Strategy, or other initiatives are possible here because we have a relatively small population. Whatever disagreements exist in the House, I think we have a very vital and vibrant democracy.
In our sister territory, there is evolving a Legislature that exists and operates on a different constitutional basis and on different traditions than does ours. Ours is a much older Legislature and operates on conventional party political lines, but, because of its size, is itself unique.
Now I think there are things that have gone on in the Canadian north in the last several years that are important and interesting - not just for ourselves, but are important and interesting for Canada itself. There are some ways in which we have been and can be an example to the rest of the country. I submit that the rest of the country has not taken an appropriate interest in some of the developments in the north and indeed, the rest of the country has really indicated, I think, essentially benign neglect in terms of power and constitutional aspirations.
In creating the citizens forum, it seems to me that the federal government should have recognized us. They should have recognized that while there are many groups - womens groups, western Canadians, Acadians - and Canadians of all stripes who have deep concerns and deep interest in constitutional questions, there were two parts of the country who had felt, for a long time, alienated from the processes.
One part of the country is Quebec and we have talked about them. They have their own processes and they have a lot of clout in Ottawa and a lot of influence with the present administration; perhaps because of the number of seats in Parliament, they have a lot of influence with every administration.
The second group though, the north, is made up of a small population. We have very few seats in Parliament. Yukoners have played in Parliament and in Canadian political life a very prominent and very important role for a long time; nonetheless, we have not always been able to command a lot of media attention or in fact, because of our numbers, thrown much weight around in these discussions. I think it is a pity, then, in a process that was designed to reach out and hear from Canadians and open up, if you like, the governments eyes and ears to the grievances and the regional resentments and the complaints that have operated about the constitutional processes we have known up until now, or about the constitutional arrangements that exist, that northerners were not represented on this forum.
I know there has been a statement out of Ottawa to indicate that the person whom my colleague, the Member for Old Crow, mentioned, who is from Fort Nelson, could represent the north, but I do not think that is a reasonable proposition, that someone who lives in Fort Nelson could adequately represent the northern territories. By the same score, since we are talking about a small group of people - this is where I come to the Members amendment - it would have been difficult to, I think, make a convincing case - although I do not discount it entirely - to talk about the government appointing a person from each territory. I think, though, that when you are talking about a dozen people that it is going to be very hard, when there are groups like the Acadians, several hundred thousands strong, who are not represented in this group, when it has been argued that there are only two Quebecers in the group, that we could have had two people from the north on the panel. It was on exactly this point, in seeing the names that were identified by the Prime Minister in his statement to Parliament, that our caucus discussed this question and asked me to communicate with the Government Leader in the Northwest Territories, which I did.
He and I had a discussion on this point and agreed that it was extremely unlikely that two people from the territories would get appointed. The Prime Minister had given some statement in which he had indicated an openness to the idea of making additions to the committee if he and the government could be persuaded that it was necessary, but the prospect of getting two additional people from our region was slight.
For that reason, Mr. Patterson and I agreed that we should engage in consultations in the next few days, which have begun, about the possibility of identifying someone who might be mutually acceptable in both territories. That is a tall order as we are many hundreds of miles from Yellowknife here in Whitehorse even though we are the two northern capitals. There are some northerners who are well known in both territories, but fewer than one might think. There are many known in sports, business or political circles but very few are known among the whole population in both territories. Nonetheless, we are waiting to hear from the Northwest Territories some ideas on this subject.
If the two territories can agree on some names, and there is a person who is mutually acceptable, I would think that we could make a very persuasive case with the national government that, if both territories make representations that a certain person be appointed, they would consider that very carefully and would consider it on the basis of our problem of not having a regional voice.
I think our concerns on this situation have been exacerbated by the story that recently appeared that the chair of the citizens forum, Mr. Keith Spicer, is going to accommodate the northern needs by flying to Tuktoyaktuk, by himself, and talking to the Eskimos. I may say, without giving offence to Mr. Spicer, that is exactly what is wrong with having a citizens forum without anyone from the true north on it. Here is an extremely articulate, able, well-educated, notable Canadian saying something which, to northerners, sounds very silly. Worse than silly, it sounds a touch condescending and it has even a whiff of the noblesse oblige about it. The message is that there is not a regional grievance in the north. He said he was going to north before he got sucked into the debate on the regional grievances. The message is that there is no pan-regional concern but instead just some interesting people up there who have a distinct culture from whom he would like to hear first as a special courtesy before we get down to the real work of hearing what southern Canadian regions think about the country.
I know Mr. Spicer intended no harm or malice by what he said, but the message he communicated in the north was extremely unfortunate. It speaks to a mentality about the north that says that we are not relevant to the national debate. There is nothing happening here that is important to the national debate. Our feeling of alienation from the constitutional family of Canada is not important. It says that even though everybody in this House spoke forcefully and well about that sense of grievance throughout the whole Meech Lake debate - and some of us were going back to the patriation debate in 1982, because I was as strong then, and remind Members that I paid my own way to go to England to lobby on that subject because I felt so strongly about it - that the message needs to be conveyed very strongly to the national government.
I hope I am not in any way making a partisan statement here. I do not want to. I want to speak to the regional sense that we should have about this. I think as a purely practical political proposition that we are going to have some difficulty getting any northerner on there. I think we should not hobble ourselves impossibly by amending the motion in the way suggested by the Member opposite, which implies that we are going to try to get two northerners on it, because I argue as a purely practical political proposition that we are not likely to do that.
I do not discount at all, and I concede this difficulty, of trying to identify a person who would be mutually acceptable to the two territories. Nonetheless, I think our best bet is to try to get a person from the territories. Whether it is a person from the Yukon or Northwest Territories, I do not care so much about that as I do to make sure that this distinct territorial point of view is not lost.
There are many differences between cultures, economies and societies between the Northwest Territories and Yukon Territory, but in constitutional questions I would argue that we have a lot more in common than we do with any other jurisdiction in the country, especially in terms of our constitutional relationship with Canada.
We have, all of us, whatever side of the House we sit on, experienced frank frustration in dealing not only with Ottawa, but with some provincial capitals, in terms of getting our due, in terms of having our voice, in terms of earning and keeping a seat at the table in important conferences where decisions that affect not only the country, but affect us directly, are made.
I do not want to be cynical or negative about the citizens forum before it has really begun its work. It seems to me that there are many admirable Canadians on this body. There is no doubt that it is not composed the same way as Members of this House might have composed it. It is not balanced in all the dimensions that Members here would want it balanced. I think its critical weakness in terms of making northerners feel they are part of this process is that it has no northerner among its membership.
Even if we could have been accommodated in some way on that score, or even if there was any prospect that we could feel some accommodation on that score - by having a very well-educated aboriginal person from Fort Nelson on the committee - has been dissipated completely by the comments attributed by Mr. Spicer, which suggest that somehow they can discharge their obligation to the north by him personally - not the whole committee, he personally - going to the north to visit the Eskimos in Tuktoyaktuk.
I doubt if there is a person in Baffin Island or the Keewatin district of the Northwest Territories, or the central Arctic, or the Mackenzie Valley, or the Yellowknife or Ft. Smith area, or the Hay River area, much less the people of the Yukon, who could be satisfied by that kind of perspective or initiative.
Therefore, without going on ad nauseum, I want to say with respect to the Member for Riverdale South, and with no offence, that I think there are very good arguments for maintaining the motion as it was originally drafted to talk about the two northern territories. There will be some difficulty getting a representative from the territory on the committee. In my view, there is very little chance of getting two people, one from each territory. Therefore, I would strongly argue to the Members that we should defeat the amendment. Perhaps the Member would even agree to withdraw the amendment so that we could proceed to speak with one voice on the question of the territories, that we be allowed to continue our negotiations with the Government of the Northwest Territories, which Legislature is also in session now, so they are able to consult with their Members, to see if we can get a name that is mutually agreeable, one on which I could perhaps bring back and consult with all Members of this House. Then perhaps the Legislature of the Yukon Territory, as well as the Legislature of the Northwest Territories, could, together, make a pitch to Ottawa saying, this is the person we would like to see on the committee from the territories; will you consider them, sir? I hope that the Prime Minister, hearing an intervention like that from both territories, especially if it is supported by all Members of both Houses, would find that very persuasive and would accede to our request.
Mr. Lang: I rise with a different point of view from that which the Government Leader has just stated, as far as our own representation on that particular committee. First of all, it seems to me to be very presumptuous for the Government Leader to come into this House and inform us he has already made a deal with the Government Leader of the Northwest Territories in respect to the membership of the ...
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Point of order.
Speaker: Point of order to the Hon. Premier.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is really a question of privilege. The Member is totally misrepresenting what I said. I did not say we had made a deal with the Northwest Territories. We said we had had discussions with the Northwest Territories about the possibility of a person.
Please, on something like this, do not misrepresent something I have said. I beg the Member. Listen to what we say, and respect accurately what we say.
Speaker: Order please. I find there is no point of order, but just conflict between two Members.
Mr. Lang: I beg to differ with the Government Leader. I humbly ask the Member if I can speak my mind in the House here without being interrupted on an issue that I personally find very important, as far as Canada is concerned.
I listened to the Minister tell this House how he had already begun discussions with the Government Leader of the Northwest Territories, and that they had come to the conclusion that the only possibility of any representation on behalf of the Yukon Territory and the Northwest Territories was by having one individual representing the north, and that is why he brought the motion forward.
In other words, the Government Leader, on behalf of the people of the territory, had already, at least in good part, made an arrangement, or a deal, with the Government Leader of the Northwest Territories, and he said that in this House. He has already had discussions that have been underway for a number of days.
When we talked just a little bit earlier, the Government Leader was quite critical about the closed doors and the way constitutional change had been approached previous to this point and yet at the same time he comes into the House and we find some decisions have already been made. It seems to me he talks about going back to the Legislature and consulting with the Legislature there. There is no consultation here. Obviously, the arrangements have been made, and we are supposed to stand up and follow the persuasive arguments of the Government Leader in this House and agree totally without expressing our views about the Yukon and how we feel we should take part in the constitutional family of Canada. I do not believe the argument that the Minister has put forward to be in the Yukons best interests, nor those of the Northwest Territories.
I do not understand for the life of me, and the Minister in part has to agree with this because of his statements about trying to find an individual who could represent both the Yukon and the Northwest Territories and speak for both areas, I would like to know who that person is. The Minister has already said that it is going to be very difficult, if not impossible, to find someone who would have the respect and the knowledge of both the people of the Yukon and the Northwest Territories and the areas of the Northwest Territories and Yukon.
I have been very fortunate in my short tenure in public life. I had the opportunity to travel to the Northwest Territories as far east as Pangnirtun.. If there is a representative of the northern territories who is appointed, say a resident of Baffin Island or Pangnirtung, I am sure they would be very capable and very knowledgeable about their areas of the Northwest Territories. But for the life of me, I do not understand how we could expect, nor should we expect, them to speak knowledgeably on behalf of the people of the Yukon Territory. It is like saying at the first ministers meetings, we will go, every second year; the Government Leader of the Northwest Territories will go down one year, and then the Government Leader of the Yukon will go down the next year. The Minister says there is very, very little possibility of us getting representation from the Yukon. We do not know that unless we ask and that is what we are asking out of this House. If the compromise has to be - the Member from Old Crow is shaking her head and chewing her gum at the same time; she can do two things at the same time. I agree with the Member for Riverdale South.
The point is that this Legislature is here on behalf of the people of the Yukon and whether or not we feel that, within the population of the Yukon, there are names of individuals who could represent us that can be put forward to the Prime Minister for consideration.
No, I am not recommending myself and neither am I recommending the Member for Old Crow. Obviously, it is going to be a citizen within our community who can represent what we believe is a fair assessment of the north and what we see as our problems in Canada being.
I do not understand, and I cannot accept the argument put forward by the Government Leader that we should just acquiesce and agree to the fact that there is only going to be one northerner on this particular committee.
I share the Government Leaders concern. We saw the chairman, Mr. Spicer, with all good intentions, go to Tuktoyaktuk to speak with the Inuit there and get the format underway. As the Government Leader quite rightly pointed out, he went there unaccompanied. No other members of the committee went to that small community to listen to how they saw Canada and to listen to their recommendations of how changes could take place in Canada in order to effect positive change for our nation. I think it was a bit presumptuous, quite frankly. I share the Government Leaders view.
In order for us to be able to get our point of view across, I think it is absolutely essential that we, in the Yukon, being so remote and alienated from the entire constitutional process up to this point, be represented with a member on the forum. I do not apologize for asking for a member from the Yukon. If the idea is to repair the wounds that have occurred over the past number of years, then obviously there should be somebody who could represent our interests on that forum. It seems to me that if the Government Leader is sincere in his request to hear what all Members have to say, he should not totally disagree, but he should say, Yes, that is a bona fide point of view and why are we not asking for a Yukon representative?
In a country as large as ours, and if the weight and the importance of this forum is going to dramatically or drastically change the course of our history, then I think that we have a responsibility and every elected Member in this House has a responsibility to ensure that a respected Yukoner is represented at that forum. I, for one, as an elected Member who has been in as many constitutional wars as any other Member across the floor - in fact more - have never, ever seen us stand in this House and not demand that the Yukon be represented by itself, as a separate area of Canada. By acceding to the notion that only one person should represent the northern territories, we are accepting, indirectly, the southern mentality that is so all-encompassing in the southern news media, when they refer to the north, to the northern territories. If you ask about the Yukon in many circles of people who should be knowledgeable, they sometimes think we are in Alaska.
We have a responsibility to continue - and it takes time and it takes effort - to dispel, as much as we possibly can, that particular myth about the Yukon.
If we vote for a motion that says representation from the northern territories we are basically saying that we are one and the same. That is not true. The Government Leader spoke very eloquently to the differences between the two territories. And they are different. There are differences in way of life, people and attitudes. If we accept the argument the Minister has put forward that it is because of the numbers game and we do not ask that the Yukon be represented by itself, that argument holds true in southern Canada. Why bother with someone from the Maritimes or the west or Quebec? Why do we not just take them all from Ottawa and save the cost of the flights from all over the country? The same logic prevails.
I submit that this Legislature should be able to unanimously agree that, if at all possible, a Yukoner should be representing the Yukon on that particular national committee.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As I listened to the first few speakers on the motion before us today, I thought to myself that, already so soon in the debate, so much had been said. I was wondering what might productively be said that would contribute additional information or new nuances to the debate based on representations made by the first three speakers. I think all three demonstrated some sense of agreement on how we are not part of the forum that will ultimately determine Canadas future. They also more than adequately described Yukoners feelings, in particular, about the aspirations of this territory in terms of our constitutional futures.
I think it is necessary before coming into a debate such as this to not only research the question as much as possible but also to act quickly and in concert with others who may share similar grievances and may want to express them to the national government that has initiated this citizens forum. It would seem to me to be the most eminently reasonable thing, under the circumstances, given that the announcement was only very recently made, to not only put something forward on the Order Paper so that the House can express its will on this particular matter.
I think it is also necessary to speak to our sister territory, to ascertain what thoughts they might have on the subject. I think those discussions that took place between our Premiere and the leadership of the Government of the Northwest Territories are a necessary prelude to a debate like this so we might know what the thoughts and aspirations are of the government of our sister territory.
So, under the circumstances, it would be unfair to suggest that that particular contact was in fact some deal making, when the reality was that exploratory discussions did take place between the governments to try to determine what our initial thoughts on the situation were.
Before entering this debate, I felt that this would be one motion once again where this Legislature could be at its finest, where we do speak to the interests of northerners, but also understand our role as Canadians in this country. Presumably, the idea has always been that we respect ourselves as Yukoners and also respect our role as Canadians.
Unfortunately in some respects, it appears to me that we have very quickly slipped into a regional squabble between the two sister northern territories that ultimately, in my view at least, is a symptom of the problems this entire country faces today.
The provinces of this country all have an interest in Confederation. The northern territories have an interest in Confederation. Given the breakdown of discussions at the national level with respect to inviting yet one more, or the last province, into Confederation, it has obviously been the choice of the federal government to set up a body called the citizens forum to represent as much of the varied and multitude of interests as possible in order to capture the sensitivities of people across this land.
In reading the Prime Ministers remarks, the First Minister of our country has opted to ensure that there is representation for men and women, east and west, native and non-native, obviously anglophone and francophone, ethnic diversity, some union and business, and professional and non-professional. These are some of the balances the Prime Minister wanted to create in order to ensure that when the committee came forward to people across the country - in all communities, in all regional areas, in all provinces - that there would at least be some sensitivity and understanding within the committee to the major natural divisions within the country, so they could all be married to form, basically, an organic whole, and one that would stick together in the long term.
The Prime Minister made no reference to the desirability of ensuring that there was provincial representation on this committee. In fact, he did not even attempt to try to ensure that there was provincial representation. Clearly, provinces, in the classic sense, are not represented here. There are some provinces that have not one of their residents on the citizens forum.
Clearly, there was a sense of east and west that had to be accommodated. Obviously, the Prime Minister has accomplished that task of appointing persons who, at least, represent both sides of the country. As the leader of the New Democratic party continues to say, this is a country that does not have two sides or two seas; this country has three seas. This is not a country from sea to sea; it is a country from sea to sea to sea. There is a significant region, unlike any other, that is easily one-third of the land mass of the country, for which there is no sensitivity or understanding built into the committee from first principles, from the very beginning.
That is what we have to address ourselves to here today. On the one hand, we have to put aside many of the regional frictions that we may harbour and, on the other hand, represent, through understanding, some of the major regional differences that may exist.
It is a tall order, I admit, but these are unsettling times for all of us. For many people in the world who look to nation states for security, who look to countries where boundaries and political orders are inviolate or stable, the world is not a stable place. Every evening on the news, we watch another country being wrenched apart through regional divisions. Many people in the Yukon, not knowing the history of the Soviet Union, have been surprised at the number of divisions and foreign national interests being expressed by so many groups within the Soviet Union. They see what was once a powerful, large nation state in this world fractured to the point that regionalism and defection from national orders are the only things that one can count on today when watching the news.
What is particularly acute is that Canadians now find they are not immune from all these unsettling times themselves. You do not have to project yourself into being a person in another country. We have watched things happening only in the last year within this country that promise to rip it apart on the basis of region, race and language.
While all this is happening, quite ironically in some respects, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories have been trying valiantly to become partners in the existing Confederation. While others are entertaining the concept of division, or separation, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories have been fighting to get into Confederation. All along, we have been taking incremental steps. We have been going to ministerial conferences and trying to upgrade our status. We have been negotiating devolution matters with the federal government in a very stable, very responsible way. Through deliberate negotiations, we tried to improve our status within Confederation, incremental step by incremental step.
At this point, what is so unsettling is that big changes in the country are happening. Quite often, for small jurisdictions like the Yukon, it is hard to be heard in the roar of the persons in the midst of a crisis that is pulling this country apart.
Canada is undergoing the most severe identity crisis in its history. There are those who feel that Canadians are prepared to sleepwalk their way into a divided country and that there are only sporadic attempts to fight to save our national identity. All the time, most of us are left wondering why we want to save it in the face of the sentiments expressed by the independents in Quebec, by western separatists and by those who, cavalierly in some quarters, are talking about a new national order or a multi-national order in this country.
I think there is lots to say about Quebecs national aspirations. There are strong historical divisions that have led us to where we are today in our relationships between English and French speaking people in this country. The history of Quebec has been dotted by rebellions and revolutions that have only petered out through the fatigue of the emotionalism of the moment.
This is a high stakes game. Any one revolution or rebellion of the past could easily have created a very different Canada than we have today. One can only wonder how dangerous it can be to simply sleepwalk through to a new national order.
I have listened to ministers from various provincial governments through the course of the last couple of years quite willingly speak of a new national order where Quebec is not a part of Canada or of eastern Canada establishing a new nation or joining the United States. Western provincial ministers have quite willingly considered the possibility of establishing a new nation out of western Canada or, again, joining the United States.
It would be fair to say that, only a few years ago, that would have been considered outrageous talk. But in the last couple of years, it has been more common and not surprising to hear.
As I said, the constitutional reform processes in the past have not been particularly fair to northern Canadians. We have not been allowed to participate in those reform discussions, whether it be 1982, or during the Meech Lake discussions. There has been no northern perspective to those discussions. The end result is that northern Canadians have been considering themselves, in some respects, not to be full citizens of this country because they have not been represented in those debates, which were largely represented by representatives of provincial governments.
I draw the attention of the Members back to debates of November 16, 1987, where this Assembly urged the Parliament of Canada and the Provincial Legislatures not to ratify the Meech Lake Accord unless amendments were made to make it truly reflective of the constitutional concerns of all Canadians, including the north.
It would seem most appropriate and most consistent to ask the latest initiative established under the leadership of the federal government to find a constitutional accord acceptable to all Canadians that a northern Canadian be represented on the committee that will be providing such important advice to all the leaders of this country.
I think it is respectable to ask that this person come from the north, inasmuch as there is east/west representation currently on the committee. I do not think it would be realistic, given what I have said, to request that there be specific Yukon representation, as it is not consistent with the design of the committee as established by the Prime Minister. I do think that northern representation, or a northerner who has sensibilities and an understanding of the north, be represented on this committee because clearly that is absolutely essential to developing a constitutional accord or developing a strategy for developing a constitutional accord that will enfranchise all Canadian citizens in this country and their governments.
In closing, I would like to say that the question before us today is probably as important a question as this House can deal with. We are operating at a time in this world when it seems almost anything goes, where national boundaries appear to be broken or shattered in every corner of the world.
When political orders change and turn over, in every corner of the world, it is an unsettling time. For Yukoners and Canadians, it is the time to set aside obvious differences that separate us, whether they be racial differences or language differences, and establish a constitutional arrangement that allows us to live together, respecting obvious differences, but including, in the end, the long-standing stated interests of northern Canadians, who are not looking at opting out, but who are looking at opting in to Canadian Confederation.
I would support the motion, but given what I have said, I am afraid I cannot support the amendment, although I do understand the sentiment behind it and respect some of the reasoning for it. Given what I have said, I think the motion, as originally developed, will have the most impact on the federal government and the Prime Minister and, consequently, have the greatest chance of success.
Mr. Phillips: I am disappointed that the side opposite has decided that it cannot support this amendment, because I believe it is a good amendment. It was meant as a constructive and friendly amendment. In a way, it runs totally contrary to the position the governments - the side opposite, and this side when they were in government - have taken in the past. That is not sending a very good message to Ottawa or to other Canadians.
The Member for Mayo said this could be a motion where the Legislature could be at its finest and I agree with that statement. But, it seems that they want to change the position the territory has taken for years. I cannot agree with that.
The Members and Ministers across the floor have travelled to meeting after meeting all over North America and the world, and have told people and explained to people time and time again, as I have at meetings I have gone to in southern Canada, that we are separate. We are not just the north. Canada is a very big country with very diverse views. The last thing we should be doing now is sending a message to Canadians all over the country that we are just the north.
Some of the members of the panel are very qualified individuals but I can assure you that Jack Webster does not represent the view of Prince Edward Island. The people of eastern or central Canada also do not represent the view of British Columbia. I think we have to remind the rest of Canada as many times as we possibly can that we are different.
When I first went to the Canadian Wildlife Federation annual general meeting in Ottawa, many times people would raise an issue from the floor and talk about the north and state that I was from Yellowknife. I would have to explain to them the differences in the north. This motion today runs contrary to that theme.
I would suggest to you that some of the members on that constitutional committee would have a great deal of trouble finding Whitehorse if they had to, let alone Tuktoyaktuk or Pangnirtung.
Perhaps we should have one MP for the north. I am sure that MP would understand everything about the Northwest Territories and I am sure we would feel confident if the MP came from, as the Member for Porter Creek East said, Pangnirtung, and would understand the issues of the Yukon.
I am going to speak in favour of the amendment proposed by the Member for Riverdale South. The structure of this committee is another glaring example of the problem Canada faces today. I would suggest to you that the debate we are having in this House is just as much an example of the difficulty Canada is going to face in this debate. It is an example of the ignorance southern politicians show towards northerners. It is hard to understand how a Prime Minister could appoint a committee to examine Canadas future and leave out in the cold, so to speak, half of Canadas land mass. It is frustrating, to say the least.
The reason we brought this amendment on the motion forward was to send a clear message to Ottawa that the Yukon and the Northwest Territories should not just be lumped together as has always been done in the past. Many southerners refer to the Yukon and the Northwest Territories as the north and I believe we have an obligation in this Legislature to try to set that straight. The motion, as it was presented by the Member for Old Crow, reaffirms that thinking.
One of the ways in which I will be making my concerns known will be to write the chairman of the panel of the Citizens Forum on Canadas Future and ask him personally to seriously consider requesting that a representative of the two northern territories be appointed. After all, this panel is supposed to represent all areas and cultures of Canada. Before it even has one meeting, I would suggest to you that it should have members from the north on it.
I would even go a little further and suggest that, not only should there be a member from the Yukon and one from the Northwest Territories, but that the Northwest Territories government should give consideration to having more than one member on it as its area is so wide and broad.
Again, we specifically see that in the area where the Northwest Territories is talking about division and creating an eastern territory. That is a message in itself, and we should be sending that message to Ottawa and not, in the most visible national forum in this country, telling them we want one representative from the north. I think it is much more important than that. In this motions present form, it does not give us the ability to have more than one member, or a least a representative from the Yukon. For that reason, I will be supporting the amendment put forward by the Member for Riverdale South.
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Prime Ministers decision to hold a public forum on the constitutional future of this country is one to which I am, by nature, sympathetic. After all, this is the government that initiated the Yukon 2000 process to allow Yukoners input into their own economic future. It is the government that solicited public input into initiatives as wide-ranging and comprehensive as the Child Care Act, the Health Act, the Education Act and the Yukon Energy Corporations power development options. We have only recently finished preliminary public consultations regarding the proposed environment act. I am strongly in favour of public consultation.
With the Prime Ministers announcement coming, as it does, on the heels of the failure of the Meech Lake proposals, I can only think that it is too little and too late. A public cynical about the motives of all politicians, regardless of stripe, would be only too justified in questioning why the Government of Canada is so interested in obtaining the opinions of Canadians, and why it was not interested in obtaining those same views before the Meech Lake Accord was engineered. I can tell you that the federal government was certainly not interested in soliciting public opinion prior to the breakdown of the Meech Lake Accord.
The Meech Lake Accord was reached by 11 white, middle-class, middle-aged men locked together under pressure-cooker conditions. In setting up the situation, the obvious object of the federal government was not to canvass representative views but, rather, to get a deal. The deal was certainly made, but we are all aware of its outcome.
Now, after the country has been torn apart by constitutional strife, after the positions of parties have polarized, the federal government has decided to give Canadians the opportunity to air their views on the future of the country. I hope that the citizens forum is successful in answering questions posed to it. Its task is not an easy one. The report is due for July 1, 1991. That gives members of the citizens forum just eight months to criss-cross the country, giving all Canadians an equal opportunity to express their opinion, come to a consensus among themselves as to what the Canadian people want in their country and, then, articulate it in their report. This is a very tall order.
The Province of Quebec has already stated that the report prepared by the Spicer committee will not be of real interest to them. They have their own constitutional committee, and they shall be guided by its recommendations. I also have some concern about the makeup of this committee. I am quite confident that they are all intelligent, committed people who are going to do their best to carry out the quite enormous task given to them, but how representative of Canada are they?
They were told this was to be a citizens forum with no politicians or bureaucrats. Yet, of the 13 members of the panel, one is a former Member of Parliament, and one is currently the mayor of a sizable municipality. Two panel members have spent a great deal of their working lives employed by the federal government. Another two are former provincial public servants. Six of the 13 have backgrounds as journalists or with the media. One of the panel members is presently the president of a union. Another is the publisher of the largest French language newspaper in the country. One is the Under Secretary General of a department of the United Nations.
Mr. Mulroney, and his Conservative friends, may believe that this panel is representative of Canada. Perhaps it is representative of the Canada they wish to see, but it is not representative of the country I know. Something else I find very disturbing on a committee dealing with the future of Canada - the youngest person on the panel is 35. Surely, a committee with a mandate to look at our future should have at least one representative who does not automatically tune into the golden oldies stations on the radio.
Are we really expecting that this panel will, after listening to Canadians, come forward with a new vision for our country? Of course, I object strongly to the fact that this panel contains no representation from either of Canadas territories.
This should not be surprising. The federal government has long shown an inclination to ignore the concerns of the north on constitutional matters. When the constitution was repatriated in 1982 and it was proposed that the conditions for provincehood be more stringent, northerners vigorously protested. Every legislator from the Northwest Territories went to Ottawa and pressed for the norths case. Members for the territorial government voiced opposition in the House. The Constitution was repatriated with a new formula for admitting provinces.
A more recent example we are all familiar with is Meech Lake. The views of the Yukon and Northwest Territory were not admitted to the original Meech Lake meetings in 1987, even though the constitutional future of northerners was as much at stake as those of any other Canadian.
I do not believe that anyone except a northerner can represent the North. I do not believe the panel can do its job without that northern representation. The federal government was negligent in not appointing a northerner to the citizens forum. I would urge them to correct the mistake before the panel begins its actual work. In other words right now.
I want this forum to work. I want the citizens forum to elicit the views of Canadians on the future. I want them to find out there are some commonalities, values we share, dreams we dream. In order to work with the people, the panel has to be of the people. For that reason I support this motion. I support the motion in its original form despite the arguments put forward by the Members of the Opposition, which are sound arguments. Sure, the Yukon Territory is definitely separate from the Northwest Territories with both of us being in the north, of course. I grant there is some confusion among Canadians about the north, as the Member for Riverdale North suggested.
They say if you are from the north, you must be from Yellowknife. We have to educate them better. When a southern Canadian tells me they are from the Island, I am quite as confused as they may be about us. I do not know if they are referring to Vancouver Island, PEI, or Newfoundland, fondly referred to as The Rock.
The Member for Porter Creek East also said Jack Webster does not represent PEI. He is quite right in that. It is interesting to note that PEI does not have a representative. Not only does PEI have no representative on this citizens forum, but neither do the Provinces of Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia. I seriously believe that if our demand for northern representation is going to be treated seriously by the federal government, the most we can demand is for one person from the north to represent all our interests. For that reason, I strongly support this motion.
Mr. Nordling: I agree with the Member for Old Crow, who brought this motion forward, that the north has been overlooked and ignored in the past, that we do need a voice, and we want our concerns listened to. I will support the motion, despite the fact that I doubt it will have any effect. To be realistic, we should not expect to get our way; however, our voice must be heard, and we must speak out at every opportunity.
The creation of the citizens forum without a representative from either the Yukon or the Northwest Territories has given us an opportunity to speak out and put our concerns on record. The way we are treated, as northerners, by the citizens forum will be very interesting to see. Perhaps we will learn that our problem of being overlooked and ignored on constitutional matters not only applies to whatever government is in Ottawa, but to southern Canadians in general.
I hope we will be pleasantly surprised, and that the forum will listen to us and to our concerns, and that they will be reflected in its report.
The members of the forum were not chosen as regional or provincial representatives, or representatives of interest groups. Their mandate was not to meet and put forward their own regional or personal views. They were chosen to listen to all Canadians, and to report the feelings of Canadians. It would be ridiculous to try to do what the Member for Klondike and other Members have suggested and appoint representatives from all age groups, all races, religions, colours, and areas. We would have a forum consisting of thousands of citizens, and that was not the point of this at all.
With respect to the amendment, I think it is unrealistic and a bit selfish to be asking for our own Yukon representative. We are pushing it to realistically expect that we can influence the Prime Minister to appoint a representative from the northern territories as a whole. Let us face facts. The citizens forum has been appointed, the Prime Minister has stated it is up to the chairman if he wants to add members, and the chairman has said he has no intention of doing that.
Today, we are making our displeasure known in our perpetual hope that it will not happen again next time, and we will not be ignored.
I think that we should do this in as united a manner as we can and in as realistic a manner as we can. In that way, I think the motion should go ahead as it was originally written, that we do contact the Northwest Territories and put a position forward together with them. I doubt it will have any effect, but at least we, as northerners, will have put our displeasure on the record.
Mr. Phelps: I wanted to say a few words in support of the amendment. Like everyone else here, I suppose, I have been following the national events both before and after Meech Lake with some concern and trepidation. I was somewhat caught by surprise when the Prime Minister made his announcement that he had put together the citizens forum.
The concern I have with the motion as originally drafted is that it does tend to reinforce the stereotype that so many Canadians have about the north, Canadas North. I know that for many, many years, decades, we in the Yukon have been struggling to educate the people in southern Canada about the differences Yukon has, and how Yukon differs from the Northwest Territories. When we went through the process of the hearings with regard to the proposed Alaska Highway gas pipeline, one of the concerns we had was that we might be lumped in and stereotyped to be a territory that is the same as the Northwest Territories. In our letter to the minister of the day we gave our unanimous view that while there are some similarities, there are some extremely important differences.
Many of these differences account for our judgment that, under certain terms and conditions, a mega-project, such as the Alaska Highway gas pipeline, could succeed in the Yukon with acceptable social and economic costs.
Consider for a moment the differences between the two territories. Firstly, there is the infrastructure. In the Northwest Territories, which is a much larger area than ours, very few towns and villages are connected by road. That is quite the opposite from the situation in the Yukon, where all communities, with the exception of Old Crow, are connected by all weather highways.
Consider the differences with regard to ethnic makeup. In the Northwest Territories, there are, in the Eastern Arctic and extreme north of the western territory, a large and predominant population of Inuit. We have no, or perhaps just one or two, truly resident Inuit people in our territory. I am told by the Government Leader there are 12. Not very long ago, there was only one family at Pauline Cove on Herschel Island and a few families that spent some summer months along the northern coast of the Yukon. Whether 12 or one, it does not really change the point I am making: there is a tremendous difference in ethnic makeup in that regard.
A total of two-thirds of the population of the Northwest Territories are native. This is the opposite from the Yukon where the beneficiaries in the Yukon number somewhere between 5,000 and 6,000 in number, and the total population of the Yukon is 30,000, so it is the reverse ethnic makeup: native to white.
Consider the history of the two territories. Our history differs greatly from that of our neighbor to the east. The gold rush, the creation of the Yukon Territory out of the Northwest Territories back in 1898, the early move toward self-government by 1909 - an entirely elected council composed of elected residents of this territory - is quite different from the history of our neighbour to the east.
We used to take pride in the fact that we had moved more quickly toward responsible government. We were the ones who really led the way in terms of moving toward Cabinet and elected people and in terms of ensuring that the government was run by elected people rather than by bureaucrats.
I can remember going to Ottawa when the real seat of the Northwest Territories was in Ottawa. It was not even in the territories. Then, the people who made the decisions were people appointed from the nations capital with very little voice given to the residents of the territory itself. So our history is quite different.
I think too about the linkage. All of my life and those of people before me, the linkage has been primarily north-south not east-west. The transportation, the facts of our terrain, the mountain ranges and so on, have made it that way. Even today there are relatively few Yukoners who have ever been to the Northwest Territories. I myself had never been to the Northwest Territories until the mid-1970s, yet I had spent a lot of my time as a child and later as an adult in both British Columbia and Alberta.
I recall reading in the paper not too long ago that the Northwestel company is thinking of taking over the telephone subsidiary of Bell Canada in the Northwest Territories, partly because they think that will make a lot more sense for business. The fact is that there is very little communication, whether it is between businesses or residents, east-west to the Northwest Territories, with the one exception being the Delta area: Inuvik and Aklavik and Tuktoyaktuk.
Most of the long-distance charges incurred by residents in Yukon are to southern Canada, and particularly to B.C. and Alberta.
So I get somewhat concerned when I think that somebody who might have his roots and experience in the NWT would be put on a committee such as this to represent northern views in a general way. There are, of course, similarities between the two territories. There are some commonly held concerns. Certainly there was a mutual sense of outrage with regard to Meech Lake and we did join forces with the NWT in fighting the three major complaints we had against that document. That does not mean that we are completely similar. I would still maintain that we do have many differences. I, for one, am always concerned about reinforcing the stereotype: reinforcing the sense that the north is all the same. It is important that sensitivity and understanding be built into the committee. It is important that the committee be seen as representing more than, as the Member for Klondike said, older people and it be seen to be made up of more than mere politicians, civil servants and members of the media.
I personally feel a very strong case can be made for a number of new citizens being appointed to the committee to address the concerns as expressed by the Member for Klondike. I feel very strongly that one extra person should be appointed who has a fairly intimate understanding of our special problems and our special concerns in Yukon.
I feel we should give it a shot and attempt to get a person on the committee who does have our confidence and has spent a lot of time in the Yukon Territory, whether or not that person is still a resident here. If we fail in that regard, if there is to be only one person added to the committee, and it is a person to represent the North then I suppose that is better than nothing, but I would hate to accept that without a fight.
I urge all people here to stand up for the Yukon. Let the Prime Minister know in no uncertain terms that we demand to be heard and we demand to be understood.
I feel that anything less could not fulfill our duties to our fellow residents of the Yukon.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am prompted to enter the debate on the amendment because of the amendment. I think it should be stated that the likelihood of the Yukon achieving a single representative to the citizens forum is quite remote. In that respect I would support the position as enunciated by the Member for Porter Creek West who essentially recognizes the global nature of the debate taking place here and the global issue at stake.
What is being overlooked is that what we are dealing with in this constitutional debate is something that must transcend all regionalized, parochial thinking. I submit to Members opposite, and particularly the last speaker, that there are as many differences within the people of the Yukon as there are between the Yukon and the Northwest Territories. If one argues, by using demographic analysis as the basis of the argument, that somehow, by the simple fact that one-half of the people of the north are aboriginal, the political white interests may not be represented, then the argument is truly flawed.
By the Prime Ministers own admission, he attempted to create an advisory group that represented the broad spectrum of the country. I believe that both sides of the House believe the Prime Minister has failed.
I believe that there must be a representation beyond those diverse representations that he attempted to put in place. By the Prime Ministers own admission, he wanted the representation of the citizens forum to be from east to west, of the east and the west. He expressed his interest of having a gender balance of men and women. The forum was to represent native and non-native. It was to represent the principal language interests of the country: French and English. It was also supposed to represent a broad ethnic representation, not to mention union and businesses as well as professionals and non-professionals.
In not one of those diverse representations is the Yukon mentioned. That was not the intent. Yukon cannot expect to have a representation of its own. It must join the broad spectrum of the Canadian effort at unity that we are trying to achieve here. The Yukon is part of a special part of the country. The Yukon is part of the north. The Yukon represents as many broad interests within itself as there are throughout the north. I have no problem in attempting to represent, or have someone represent on my behalf, the broader interest of the north.
We talk about trying to create a representation of the north and if we do so it would be typical stereotyping of what southern Canadians think about us. I do not understand that stereotyping. The people in the north are indeed part of this country, whether they are aboriginal, whether they are white, whether they are Inuit, whether they are professionals, whether they are business people; they are all part of the national unity that makes up this great nation that we all love. I do not think we should expect that Yukon in and of itself will take a seat at the citizens forum as a diverse group of the country. We, in the Yukon, are as much a part of the country as anyone else in the north. It is the north that is attempting to be represented. I share with the Members opposite and my colleagues that for too long a period the north has, indeed, been neglected, been shut out, been ignored, in constitutional questions.
I think that certainly in the course of the past decade this has been exemplified numerous times. You can go back to the 1982 constitution act that was brought from England, if you will. We can go back to the Meech Lake Accord. In all of these efforts, there is no question that the north was not recognized as a particular voice, not specifically the Yukon, but the north, north of 60. And with all due respect to the aboriginal lawyer from Fort Nelson, I do not think that as northern people we will feel part of the constitutional process that is being proposed if we do not have a broader representation of the diverse area of the country that we represent, not as Yukon, but as the north.
I do not think our position is strengthened by trying to ask for a representative from the Yukon. In fact, I suggest that it would be weakened. Look at the reality of things. What is the likelihood of the Yukon getting a representative placed on that citizens forum. If that is the sense of regional importance that Members feel, then what is to stop the NWT from asking for a representative from each one of its regions of the NWT because it is far broader than one single interest group that we might think that we can represent here in the Yukon.
This effort to protect our sense of regional difference has to be broader than Yukon, we are talking about a constitutional future, we are talking about directions for this country. We are talking about trying to tidy up the constitutional chaos that has faced this country over the past decade, over the past 120 years. I do not agree that we should be just giving it a shot and taking our chances. I think we must rise above parochial regionalism and speak to the big issue at hand, and that is speaking on behalf of the neglect that the north has faced over the constitutional debates of the past decade and present a unified position that would give us entry to those questions facing our constitutional future.
It goes without saying that I am not going to be supporting the amendment. The original motion, as presented by the Member for Old Crow, is representative of a vision I believe we, as Yukon people, should be articulating to our friends in southern Canada.
Mr. Brewster: I was not going to get up and speak on this. When I hear the arguments going on around here, I think I should have a few words. I am rather surprised with the Member for Faro. He makes the statement that we are highly unlikely to succeed. If you do not try, you get nowhere in this world.
I recall when Commissioner Jim Smith decided he was going to have two elected people from the Legislature on the executive. I recall people all over saying he was silly, he could not do it, but he rounded this Legislature up and went down there. He wanted three, and he came back with two. He tried, and he gained it.
We turn around and sit here. Really, if someone were appointed from the Hudson Bay area, what knowledge does he have of the Yukon? There is no comparison at all. The argument that Northwest Territories can have two or three is their problem, not ours. For once, let us stand up and say the Yukon is the Yukon. Let us forget this northern territory stuff. Let us stand up and own up that the Yukon is the Yukon, and let us be proud of it.
Ms. Hayden: I realize I am speaking on the amendment, which I do not support. It is my intent to speak more directly to the original motion. I have a question I suppose is really directed to the federal Government of Canada. How many more times are we, the people in the north, going to be ignored?
There is a maxim that says, Love me or hate me, but do not ignore me. We are not asking the Prime Minister and his advisors to love the north. We are not asking the Prime Minister and his advisors to hate the north, but we are asking that the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and his advisors realize that there is a north, the north of Canada, with most of the rights, duties and obligations of other Canadians.
We, the people of the north, live in two territories where almost half the population is made up of aboriginal people. We live together and work together, at least in the terms of working in the subarctic part of Canada. We share many of the visions for the future of the north. We also share in the anguish and frustration of being ignored by the federal government. Our alienation is strong and is deeply rooted.
We were left out of the process in 1982, when the Constitution was patriated. We were left out of the Meech Lake process, and we are being left out again. How can the Prime Minister even pretend that this forum will have anything to do with national unity, when such a large chunk of Canada is not even being included in the process?
So, Mr. Spicers last minute announcement that he will make a personal visit to Tuktoyaktuk to find out what people there will have to say is well-meaning, I am sure, but nothing more than a major exercise in avoiding the real constitutional issues in the north. We are relieved that the Prime Minister has made it clear that the commissions mandate will study native and multi-cultural relations, as well as French-English relations.
I wonder how any of this can lead to credible results if the north is left out.
It seems that our Prime Minister has learned little about the profile of the aboriginal populations in this country. It never ceases to amaze me how very little he seems to know about the regional makeup of this country. I wonder did we, as a country, learn nothing from the failure of the Meech Lake Accord? Do we not remember northern leaders protesting being left out of that process? Do we not remember northerners protesting about being ignored? I believe we should have a voice in deciding our own future.
The Premier of the Yukon said in 1987, and I quote, It is grossly unfair and undemocratic that the future of the north should be decided by those who do not live here or speak on behalf of those who do. Mr. Penikett went on to say that, The failure to treat Quebec fairly in the past has been an embarrassment for Canada. Has no lesson been drawn from this? In the rush to redress past wrongs, legislatures should be careful not to perpetrate new wrongs. In their eagerness to bring Quebec into the constitutional fold, the first ministers are trampling on the rights and aspirations of another group of Canadians. They are sacrificing another part of Canada that has been an integral part of our national identity. Just as French-speaking Quebeckers feel alienated from their English-speaking neighbours, the north feels a constitutional alienation.
We hear these words again and look around us. It is as if none of this had ever happened. We are being overlooked again.
When Premier McKenna put forward his companion resolution to Meech Lake, he appealed to all Canadians, saying that reconciliation is never easy and almost always involves putting generosity before pride.
We, the people of the north - men, women and aboriginal peoples - indeed, all northern citizens, are asking the rest of Canada to listen. We are asking for a generosity of national spirit that can recognize and accept the coalition of interests that, in fact, make up our true national identity. We, the people of the north, have argued, negotiated, demanded and otherwise made it known that we have the right to be part of major decision-making processes that affect our lives. We have a rightful place at those times and places where these decisions are made.
I wish Mr. Spicer well in his hearings. I truly hope there will be a northerner on that panel. I will not vote for the amendment, although I do not think anyone can accuse me of not being a Yukoner, but I am also a northerner.
Hon. Ms. Joe: It seems that once again the federal government is showing its true colours by shutting the view of northerners out once again by completely neglecting to appoint a northerner to an extremely important inquiry into the constitutional matters of Canada.
It was not a surprise to me that once again northerners had been left out of something. I think one of the reasons that we had so much trouble with Meech Lake was because of a lack of consultation with the territories. Our first ministers conferences continued to ignore the concerns of the territories. The very fact we are looking at the constitution of Canada is an extremely important reason to ensure that all jurisdictions of Canada are equally represented on this panel.
We are told there are 12 people on this panel yet not one person is from the north. Maybe the Prime Minister believes the north ends at the 60th parallel. I would like to feel assured that as a Yukoner my concerns are as important as the rest of the country and any individuals in downtown Ottawa.
During the debate on the GST it is more than evident that I am just as equal in paying the proposed Conservative sales tax. Why then can this equality not be extended during important historical debates on where we will fit in Canadas future?
We, in the north, have some specific concerns. We experience a very unique relationship with the rest of Canada, I cannot expect someone from Quebec or Ontario to understand or respect political development in the north. The Yukon and Northwest Territories have a very large aboriginal population that is presently seeking its own and rightful place in the Yukon and Northwest Territories.
During the recent Oka crisis we saw inequality at its finest. We know that aboriginal people all over this country do not feel equal. We know that, in fact, there is little in the view of the federal government of the north that makes sense in either equality or in dealing in situations that would bring northerners to equal status with the rest of Canada.
I speak of the many areas in this country, like the ability of aboriginal people to make their own decisions on their own land. We live in what we think is a modern progressive society, and yet in this society there are inequalities to the extreme.
I believe that this forum was put together because of the many problems that developed over this summer. It showed the rest of Canada that there were many things that this country was not doing to try to develop it in an equal way. We know that what happened with Meech Lake right across the country made it very evident to the federal government that many of the things that were being done were not being done right. I believe the situation in Oka played a very important role in letting the rest of the country know that there were many problems we were aware of.
The tour that is being proposed is looking for answers from Canadians. They are looking for answers that they would like to have in order to try to make this place a better place to live. The federal government must get its priorities straight and understand that northerners demand to be heard. The federal government is proudly touting the fact that there are 12 people on this forum, of which there is one aboriginal person. I would assume that if there were 12 members then at least one position can be reserved for the north.
It has been mentioned that there are many other jurisdictions in Canada that did not have representation on this forum. There were whole provinces that were excluded. We knew that it was very unlikely that we in the Yukon would be given the preference of having one person.
We also realize that there are many common concerns among people of the north, many different concerns and many common concerns. It has been said that we may not find somebody who can represent the Yukon, if we were to choose from one person from both territories. But you also do not know that unless you try. There are many individuals in the territories who are very familiar with both the Northwest Territories and the Yukon and I think we have a better chance of getting northern participation if we have one individual from the north.
I believe that discussions that have gone on have been very good discussions. There have been things that have been talked about that we have not forgotten here in the Yukon that if we do have somebody we would make very sure that that person knows the Yukon, knows the concerns of the Yukon. If that person is from the Northwest Territories, I would hope that that person from the Northwest Territories would know the Yukon, and the other way around. I do not think that the Northwest Territories would agree on a person who was not familiar with the Northwest Territories.
We certainly do have a better chance of putting forward this proposal of one representative on the forum who would represent the two territories. To me that is the best solution and I cannot support the amendment to this motion.
Mr. Devries: I would like to speak in support of the amended motion. However, I would like to share some of my thoughts on the subject that will come up during this process when this committee gets travelling around the Yukon. First, as an immigrant to Canada - I immigrated at two - as a little Dutch boy I had to fight for self-esteem without the help of government and government programs. I feel I have become a better person because of it. I have not asked for special rights to protect my specific culture but I have become a Canadian. I am proud of my Dutch ancestry. I am proud to be a Yukoner. But, above all I am proud to be a Canadian.
At this time I would like to share a paper a person I love very dearly did on multi-culturalism at the University of Alberta.
Many points she made really made me think of my position on these matters, many of which I will be happy to share with the committee when they come to the Yukon.
She starts out, God said, Now then, these are all one people, and they speak one language; this is just the beginning of what they are going to do. Soon, they will be able to do anything they want. Let us go down and mix up their languages, so they will not understand each other. (Genesis 11:6 - 8). This Scripture is from the Bible, at a time when the people were building a tower in an attempt to conquer the heavens. As the Scripture states, because the people shared a common language, they could communicate and, therefore, achieve. Once they were multi-lingual, a barrier hindered communication and, thus, achievement.
This leads up to my firm position in respect to multi-culturalism. As a note, it took a lot of courage for her to write this, because she knew that the teacher she presented this paper to was in favour of multi-culturalism, and she is, in a certain sense, speaking against it.
I believe that multi-culturalism does nothing more than create a diverse effect on society by balkanizing communities and school systems. I will support this view by discussing Quebecs quest for a distinct society, both historically and presently, as I view the bilingual and bicultural system as a reflection of pluralism in its entirety. I will also describe how multi-culturalism makes it more difficult to be an individual in a larger system.
First, I will address multi-culturalism as an effective means of achieving a unique, vibrant, national identity. It is suggested by some advocates that, if French and English can be identified within Canada as a bilingual framework, the final construction will entail recognizing the many ethnic groups, in view of their culture and tradition. They believe this recognition will result in the assurance of cultural freedom for Canadians and administer hyphenated Canadians with feelings of patronage.
Multi-culturalism is also viewed as a step toward the equity of status attained through ethnic groups forming a national coalition, ensuring that they are heard, both collectively and individually. This equality will permit ethic groups to identify Canada as a support system and fill them with strong, national identity. These advocates also suggest that Canadian identity will not be undermined by multi-culturalism. [This is taken from a book by McLeod, on page 13.] Canadas identity is rooted in cultural plurism. Education is an important ingredient of multi-culturalism, as it allows a child to develop his worthwhile potential through knowledge and understanding concerning himself and others.
The survival of the French culture and Roman Catholics is represented in Quebec from 1760-1960, in a period known as La Survivance".
Schooling during this time was under the control of Roman Catholics and emphasized religion and knowledge of French. Within this period came the introduction of compulsory education. In 1943, the maintenance of the same educational elements as prior to this date. During the 1950s and 1960s, education emphasis was on the development of a special person, not the skills required for economic survival and Quebec understandably fell behind the rest of North America. The Quiet Revolution of the 1960s brought with it the Official Language Act of 1974, Bill 22, as introduced by the Parti liberal du Quebec and the Charte de la langue francççaise of 1977 (Bill 101) as introduced by the Parti Quebecois. Each bill concentrated on protection of French language and the discharge of English elements in Quebec. A more recent issue in Canada was the Meech Lake Accord, which would have established Quebec as a distinct society.
In 1971, the Prime Minister stated that every ethnic group has a right to reserve and develop its own culture and values within the Canadian context." In this respect Quebec is indeed establishing a unique identity and is making little effort to administer multi-culturalism. Recall that the Quiet Revolution, yields two bills, each promoting a unilingual province and attempting to assimilate anything viewed as non-French. Bill 101 makes no provision to ensure that instruction in English as a second language is available and required thus enforcing the promotion of unilingualism. Also, the desire of Quebec to form a homogenous province, in which all members form an indifferentiated whole is apparent in the Meech Lake Accord, which is to be ratified in June 1990. Basically, Quebec wants to promote and preserve its distinctness and have diversified itself from Canada in this endeavour. Consequently, I ask [Yukoners] to consider the effects of, for example, 20 ethnic groups striving for recognition.
Furthermore, still focussing on Quebec, is a statement by Keith McLeod, who suggests Canadians ...have been preoccupied with bilingualism while neglecting multi-culturalism. If successful implementation of multi-culturalism within Canada is his goal, which I believe it is, I ask: is not the bilinqual framework important in achieving it? After all, if the framework, biculturalism and bilingualism, is not stable, what is going to support the additions being the recognition of ethnic groups. If two cultures cannot get along, how does one expect multi-cultures to cooperate? Realistically, it is far from feasible.
This leads directly to the hard fact that ethnic groups must be aware that in singling out their cultures, they are making it more difficult to be individuals in a larger system.
Groups spend so much of their time, energy and natural resources in the maintenance of their ethnic ethnicity that important issues, such as achievement in the larger society, are ignored. Multi-culturalism tends to fragment a country. It does not provide a unifying force... This is a quote taken from a book by Mazurek and Kach, in 1987. It is the very precise discipline of pluralism. If a society cannot acquire the necessities for achievement, identifying with norms, institutions and customs from areas world wide, alienation and balkenization of communities is a foreseeable result.
Historical evidence, dating back to the 1800s, indicates that Canada experienced a large immigration movement. These people, whether they be Germans or Dutch, for example, had to adopt the language and cultural norms of Canada in order to survive, as German or Dutch was not understood by everyone. Illustrated is the necessity of common communicative and social norms as acceptance of every ethnic language and tradition will result in confusion.
Native children were educated at day schools on reserves or in boarding schools that provided programs that were blatant attempts at deculturalization and assimilation. Perhaps education was administered in such a manner that it seems to be assimilative, but one fails to recognize that survival was, and still is, dependent on that approach, as English is, the communicative language in Canada.
Recently, native control over their own education has been recognized, and I ask this: will natives be able to survive outside of their society if they identify only with their norms? Indeed, they will not. As a result, education must emerge in the form of an assimilative process.
English as second language programs were introduced but received criticism because they stressed English as a substitute for the mother tongue. Is it not obvious to these ethnic groups that English is an essential language and serves as an official communicative vice? Furthermore, how is a school curriculum to administer 15 or 20 languages when it is already overcrowded? The implications that ones freedom is increased if he becomes educated stresses the importance of sound education.
Keith McLeod outlines three major approaches made through multi-cultural education. The first is ethnic specific, the purpose being to counteract assimilative forces which thereby extends to the contact of the person with their ethnic culture. This is demonstrated in native control over native education. The second approach is problem oriented in which specific programs are developed to meet the needs and demands associated with schooling, assimilating or integrating diverse people. ESL programs are representative of this as well as are anti-discrimination programs, which are crisis connected. The third approach is cultural/intercultural which focusses on the security of ones own identity as well as a knowledge of and interaction capabilities of other cultures and subcultures. This occurs in todays school systems as bicultural and bilingual programs. The school systems stress the official language of Canada and also provide some instruction and learning of other languages, implementing a form of multi-culturalism.
Obviously, I believe that this is as far as multi-cultural education should go, or we will find Canada in a state of pandemonium.
In conclusion, I identify multi-culturalism as a segregating force in communities and school systems. The instability of a bilingual and bicultural system suggests that if only two groups cannot cooperate, how are additional groups going to? The suffering native culture is an example of how signalling out ethnic groups fragments a country and indicates the importance of solving socio-economic issues before multi-culturalism.
If I have yet to convince you of the negative implications of multi-culturalism in Canada, I will point out that the most positive ideologies of pluralism are in fact based on ideologies or theories while negative implications are prevalent in society today. I will leave you on this note - would the tower of Babel not be completed today if the country had remained unilingual?
I am not saying I agree with everything that is in there. I am sure that after the Minister of Education heard it he would never hire me because I imagine there are a few things in this that he would never agree with. This is a student who has been brought up in the Yukon education system, a family where much of her life has been spent around native people, around my family, who would be people of different ethnic backgrounds. At the cattle ranch we used to work on we had a lot of native people working there. They always ate in our house with us and we shared many good times with them.
Also, in Watson Lake she has had many native friends over the years. So even though she has been exposed to a lot of multi-culturalism she has seen our country being fragmented by multi-culturalism in a sense, and I think this was her desperate way of speaking out in her way on what she felt was needed to keep Canada together. I really appreciate this.
I do not think it is a matter of whether we are going to criticize what she says or not, but it is just an example of our youth crying out, that they want to keep Canada together. I think this is very important. My understanding is that that is what this motion is all about - to keep Canada together as a unified force.
I still feel that the Yukon should be speaking up for its own representative. That is the way I would like to see the motion go forward, although I will also support it if the motion is not put forward in that way.
Speaker: Division has been called. Mr. Clerk, would you kindly poll the House.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Disagree.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Disagree.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Disagree.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Disagree.
Hon. Ms. Joe: Disagree.
Mr. Joe: Disagree.
Ms. Kassi: Disagree.
Ms. Hayden: Disagree.
Mr. Phelps: Agree.
Mrs. Firth: Agree.
Mr. Phillips: Agree.
Mr. Lang: Agree.
Mr. Devries: Agree.
Mr. Brewster: Agree.
Mr. Nordling: Disagree.
Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are six yea, nine nay.
Speaker: I declare the amendment defeated. Is there any future debate on the main motion?
Amendment to Motion No. 17 defeated
Mr. Lang: I rise because I did not get the opportunity to speak a second time after some Members had made comments. I want to do it from two points of view. I want to make a couple of observations on what was said by other Members, which I do not believe to be true if one really evaluates how the committee was formed and where the representation came from.
In voting against the previous amendment, the Member for Porter Creek West placed most of the excuse for his position on the fact that the members were not selected on a regional basis. I point out that not all the membership is from Ottawa. The Prime Minister made it very clear that he wanted to hear from east to west of our country, forgetting the north, as we have all mentioned. Representation was from as far east as the Maritimes, and from as far west as British Columbia.
Where the individuals lived was a factor in the appointment of a majority of the members of the committee. I suggest to all Members, especially the Member for Porter Creek West, that his observation on the makeup of the committee is not accurate. If the present individual from New Brunswick happened to be the mayor of Ottawa, I would have been very surprised to have seen that appointment. You would have seen somebody from the Maritimes to ensure an individual on that committee would have the ability to pick up the nuances and feelings for the various regions of the country.
In the Minister of Justices presentation, she said the north had been shut out of the process again. With the disagreement with the amendment that was put forward by this side, we are accepting the fact that at least one part of our great country should be shut out, as far as representation is concerned. We are doing that voluntarily in this House by the majority will of all Members in this House. We will have no position to put forward, whatsoever, as time passes, depending on what the recommendations of that particular committee are. If there is no representation from the Yukon, and we find there are many recommendations we cannot live with, then we have no choice but to live with them, because we have not asked for representation specifically from our region, where other parts of the country did get regional representation.
Indirectly, as the Minister of Justice has said, we have been shut out of the process but, this time, we are, in part, requesting that we be shut out of the process.
There is another area I would like to comment on. I overheard the Government Leader make the comment to his colleague, the Minister of Renewable Resources, about the position taken by the MLA for Kluane. The MLA for Kluane stood up and said that we should be proud to be the Yukon, and we should have Yukon representation. The Government Leader said to his colleague, Small minded.
That is perhaps part of the trouble with our country. Do not shake your head. The Government Leader is shaking his head. That was not unparliamentary. What was said was uncalled for. The front bench on this side heard it.
The reason I raise this is that it shows the difficulty we are going to have in coming to a national consensus in this country, when we do not have the respect for each other. A person may have an opposite point of view but respect that view for what it is worth.
The Government Leader said I misrepresented his views. I did not misrepresent his views today. He told this House that he had already had ongoing discussions with the Government Leader of the Northwest Territories, that there already had been an agreement that they would look for northern representation. There is no question that we have a motion before us that has already had some agreements made on it behind closed doors. I like the part where it was all agreed to behind closed doors, and we are supposed to rubber stamp it.
There is point of view here that says there is another way of approaching the situation as it confronts us. It was put in good faith. We, as all Canadians, want to participate in a process that is very important to all of us. I do not disagree with some of the comments made on both sides of the House with respect to where our country is going. There is going to have to be a change of direction if we, as Canadians, are going to stay together as a country.
I agree with the evaluation of the Government Leader on Quebec. If Quebec leaves and goes on its own, and that is the final decision, it is going to be a difficult situation as far as Canada is concerned. If that occurs, time will tell whether Canada can stay together. I share his view. That is how important it is.
There were the comments made by the MLA for Watson Lake on the point of view of a young lady raised in the Yukon, who is a Canadian, who put the time and effort into putting forward a point of view that is obviously well thought out and well researched, in respect to exactly where our country is going.
Look at the difficulty we have in this small Legislature of ours with 16 Members. The other day, I talked about being a Canadian. I talked about what our country meant to us, and that we should be Canadians first. Some Members in this House questioned whether or not they were proud to be a Canadian. I defend their right to say that. I defend their right to say that in this House or anywhere else, but that tells you something about our country.
I am concerned that our country is falling apart, because we are forgetting that we are Canadians first, and anything after that is second. I happen to have some very close relatives in the United States of America, who were raised in a very small village. Communication was almost nonexistent up to 20 years ago. When the American national anthem is played, they stand at attention. They not only stand at attention, but they also cross their hands over their chest. They are Americans. They are Americans first. They are Alaskans second and, thirdly, they talk about their ancestry.
I believe that is part of our problem in this country. In reference to the comments made by the Member for Watson Lake, it seems to me that if we do not pull together as Canadians, if we do not go to a hockey game and be prepared to stand together at attention when our national anthem is played, what represents our country? Our country is our people.
For the sake of our country, I hope we do not see this particular committee, which I believe has been put together with all good intentions, become a platform or podium for interest groups to come forward and see what they can take from their country, instead of seeing what they can give to their country.
If that is the case, this will not be a healing process. It will not aid and abet our country. It will further divide our country because our governments - this government included, the federal government and the provincial governments - are more and more becoming governments of interest groups. We are forgetting about the individual out there who is trying to pay for a family, trying to raise a family, out working, out contributing to the GNP and asking for very little, if anything, from government. They are beginning to feel very lonely out there, because they are beginning to feel that they do not have a voice any longer in government. They do not feel that the governments - national, territorial, provincial and municipal to some degree - are not representing their view.
It is almost like: what can the Legislature pass and put into place without the taxpayer recognizing how the money is being allocated and how it is going to affect them in the long term?
So I submit that I have one concern regarding that committee: I hope, for the sake of our country, that those who take the time, those who are prepared to appear before that committee, will take the position that their country is number one to them and that they ask what they can do for the country to keep it together, not what they can take from it.
Mr. Nordling: I will be brief because I hope that this motion receives passage today. I am proud to be a Yukoner. I was born here and my father was born here. I will promote and defend the Yukon at every opportunity, but I am also proud to be a Canadian. I have just returned from a trip around the world and I am more proud than ever to be a Canadian. When people asked me where I was from, I simply said, Canada. I felt like an ambassador for the whole of Canada from sea to sea to sea, not just of the Yukon.
Today we are talking about Canadas constitutional future, not the constitutional future of the Yukon. We are talking about keeping this whole country together, and we should be discussing our similarities and our hopes and our aspirations for the country as a whole, not highlighting our differences. I am sorry that this debate has, to some extent, lost its focus. We should be pleased that there has been a citizens forum on Canadas future appointed and that nation-building and constitutional development is being carried on. Obviously, the politicians could not do it. Now let us give the citizens a chance to try. The forum is not perfect and that is why this motion is before us and that we should send a message to the federal government and the rest of Canada. But the focus should be on building and cooperation, not tearing things apart for our own self-interests and our own personal agendas.
I would like to congratulate the federal government for taking the initiative and doing something even if, in our eyes, it is not perfect. It is not perfect, from the point of view of Canadians who live north of the 60th parallel. That is why I support the motion, not as negative but as constructive criticism, which I hope will contribute to more representative constitutional development in the future.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I feel very good about the fact the federal government has chosen to have the citizens forum. I believe they finally understand there is much work to be done in Canada in regard to what it is that Canadians want. I get very disturbed when people in this House, or anywhere else, try to tell me how I should think and what I should do. Is this not a free country that we live in? I do not have to be told how I should think, just because somebody else thinks another way.
When the Europeans came to this country, one of the worst things that they did was to develop an Indian Act to work toward assimilation of the aboriginal people of this country. That was one of the worst things that they did. In many ways, we have found that what they tried to do did not work, and it is becoming more and more evident all the time.
It has been really amusing when I travel abroad. I travelled to the womens conference that was held in Nairobi, and it was paid for by the federal government. When I was there, somebody asked me where I was from, and I said I was from Canada. Do you know what they said? They said, you do not look like a Canadian. I did not look like a Canadian because I was not white.
There are different depictions of Canadians. At the Commonwealth conference that I went to - for Ministers responsible for womens affairs - the very same thing happened. I was sitting around a table with other Ministers from the Commonwealth countries and I tried to explain to them that I was an aboriginal Canadian. They did not know what I was telling them. Once again, they told me I did not look like a Canadian.
Sometimes, I wonder about what the rest of the world really thinks about Canada and what Canadians should look like. At two conferences I was at, I was told I did not look like a Canadian.
Because of the seriousness of the many issues that we have had to deal with in the last year or so, it has become evident that we do have a problem.
People, like myself, who have tried to live in a country in which we would all like to be happy and content have tried to live up to the obligations of what the Europeans expected of us. It has not been an easy job.
I come from a very passive group of people on my reserve. They are hard working and have tried to get along in this world, ignoring all the horrible things they have seen happen over the last few decades. When I say I am proud to be an aboriginal person of this country, I mean that. I do not need the Member for Porter Creek East, or a Member from any other jurisdiction, to tell me how I should act or what I should say. I know how I think. He does not have to tell me.
I am proud to be here as a Member of this assembly. I have been here for eight years - not as long as the Member for Porter Creek East - but in that time I have learned a great deal. I feel I have been able to accomplish a great deal in this system.
But there is a big problem. I hope this forum will deal with it. I think all of us here, on this side anyway, want this to be a better place to live, where we all can think independently. I think very differently than many of my colleagues here. They do not have to tell me how to think or feel or what I should say in this House.
I really believe that in the citizens forum there has been a sector of this country left out. I do not think our views will be heard if we do not have that representation from the territories.
Speaker: Are you prepared for the question?
Some Hon. Members: Division
Speaker: Division has been called. Mr. Clerk, would you kindly poll the House.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Agree.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Agree.
Hon. Ms. Joe: Agree.
Mr. Joe: Agree.
Ms. Kassi: Agree.
Ms. Hayden: Agree.
Mr. Phelps: Agree.
Mrs. Firth: Agree.
Mr. Phillips: Agree.
Mr. Lang: Agree.
Mr. Devries: Agree.
Mr. Brewster: Agree.
Mr. Nordling: Agree.
Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 15 yea, zero nay.
Speaker: I declare the motion carried.
Motion No. 17 agreed to
Motion No. 20
Clerk: Item No. 2, standing in the name of Ms. Hayden.
Speaker: Is the Member prepared to proceed with Item No. 2?
Ms. Hayden: Yes, I am, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Whitehorse South Centre
THAT it is the opinion of this House:
(1) That the tidewater port of Skagway has historically been the principal strategic entry point for the Yukon economy;
(2) That the present monopoly ownership structure of the port facilities has had the effect of increasing transportation costs for Yukon imports and exports and reducing the share of freight shipped to and from the Canadian northwest through Skagway; and
THAT the Yukon Legislative Assembly affirms its support for future initiatives that will see the development of an open competitive port that will benefit the town of Skagway and the people of the Yukon.
Ms. Hayden: The very fact that this motion is before us today is testament to the need for the exercise of wisdom in all of the deliberations of this House each and every day that we sit.
If the international tribunal that decided on the Alaska/Yukon boundary in 1903 had been more astute in its deliberations and cast more than a glance to the future, perhaps they may have been able to see that one day, perhaps in the second half of the century, there would be an even greater need for the Yukon to have a west coast port than they considered that need to be in 1903.
The United States bought Alaska from Russia in 1867. The existing boundaries went with the purchase. But it was not long before the Americans tried to rearrange the border so that it marked a continuous stretch of coastline and the fjords were on the American side. Canada protested. Time went on and then the gold rush made the boundary definition that much more important. Negotiations in 1898 and 1899 failed to produce an agreement and in 1903 the whole matter was referred to an international tribunal.
There were three Americans, two Canadians and one British representative on that tribunal. The British representative supported the American claim.
Wilfred Laurier was the Prime Minister of Canada at the time. His protests were to no avail and so today we continue to live with the consequences of that moment in history.
I am sure many of the Members opposite will remember a 1987 study on the port of Skagway, the prefeasibility study final report, jointly funded by the Yukon Department of Community and Transportation Services and the City of Skagway: 75 percent funded by Community and Transportation Services and 25 percent funded by Skagway. The principal recommendations of that report are a matter of public record and the reasons for wanting accessible port facilities for the Yukon transport have affected Yukon people for generations.
When one corporation has control of points of entry and transportation then the concept of market competition fails and consumers pay the bills. In the old days, the sternwheelers were owned by White Pass and that company also ran the stagecoach line to Dawson City. In the 1940s and 1950s, groceries and other supplies came in by White Pass ship and by train. Fresh vegetables were flown in and were very expensive and very scarce, if memory serves me correctly. White Pass used a container system with its container ship and a new train in a time when the local joke was that when you went shopping whatever you were looking for would be in on the next boat.
Al Oster, a local musician, even wrote a song about it, but my voice not being up to the timbre equal to that of the Leader of the Official Opposition, I will not sing it.
Truck transport routes have provided some competition over the years, but the Yukon is still something of a captive community in terms of its inability to open the access port facilities in Skagway. Although the parent company may have changed over the years, the monopoly has remained.
I am not standing here today ready to attack any one company, especially one that is such a large employer here in the Yukon. I do, however, feel that facts are facts and we all have to acknowledge them with an eye to the future. As recently as 1988, in the report on the public inquiry into petroleum fuel pricing in the Yukon Territory, the board of inquiry said, competition, while not the sole determinant, is a significant factor in the setting of petroleum prices in the Yukon.
I quote, further, the board said, Steps taken to increase competition will, in the long run, reduce prices to the consumer. We can, therefore, conclude that, if there were more competition at the port of entry in Skagway, consumers would benefit. But this is the port that is controlled by White Pass.
The Lilles Fuel Price Inquiry points out that, Transportation costs represent a significant portion of the price of all petroleum products. The report points out that the Yukon market is large enough to bear competition, but that White Pass, which deals with Chevron and Petro Canada, imports over 90 percent of all fuel products into the Yukon. That leaves just 10 percent of the market for everyone else. This must have an impact on the price.
Surely we can all expect that corporations that depend on the community to make profits can also be fair corporate citizens. The port of Skagway is a traditional point of entry to the Yukon. White Pass has served the Yukon through this port for many years. Except for the Alaska State ferry facilities, White Pass is the only dock and terminal operator in the port, something the Lilles report refers to as a bottleneck monopoly. I wonder if the 1903 tribunal had envisioned this kind of corporate control.
We are facing increased costs all the way around if the Conservatives proceed with their plans to introduce the goods and services tax. We are looking at a seven percent increase in the costs of books, clothing and many more of the day-to-day items we purchase. We are looking at an increase in the cost of living at a time when there is no hint that interest rates will go down. Now is the time to look at other factors that influence the cost of living in the Yukon. Surely, one of them is freight costs of many items, including fuel.
I was intrigued to read about the White Pass pipeline in the fuel price inquiry report. This is a 170-kilometre pipe that runs from Skagway to Whitehorse. According to the report, White Pass started using the line in 1947. The company bought the American section of the pipe in 1958 and the Canadian section in 1961. It was a package deal that included bulk storage facilities in Skagway and Whitehorse and docking facilities in Skagway.
White Pass recently repaired many sections of the pipeline after the National Energy Board indicated that 65,000 litres of petroleum product was spilled from the line in the previous five years.
From an environmental perspective, I was concerned to read that the National Energy Board did not feel that repairs recommended would significantly decrease the rate of incidents occurring along the pipeline. In fact, 350,000 litres of product have spilled in the 25 years up to 1988.
I understand this pipeline is still in use. In 1987, it was used as a way to bring 55 percent of all fuel products into the Yukon.
I believe we must all give some thought to environmental safety when we consider the White Pass pipeline. I bring this motion forward today for debate. We need to work toward a more reasonable cost of living in the Yukon for all Yukon people. We all need to protect our environment. We need to support and nurture our economy. None of these is mutually exclusive. To this end we must support initiatives that will lead to the development of an open, competitive port of entry into the Yukon. To that end, I ask for your support of this motion.
Mr. Phillips: I speak to this motion today with mixed feelings and really have to wonder what this government is trying to accomplish with this motion. Is it really trying to do what it says and provide better access to Yukon by way of an open, competitive port at Skagway, or is it just the Government Leader, Tony Penikett, continuing in his personal vendetta against White Pass?
Let me explain to you why I raise this concern. Prior to this motion being put on the Order Paper by the Member for Whitehorse South Centre, there was a very similar motion to this made by the Member for Faro. It was very similar except for one item. That one item, which was left off this new motion, is in clause 3 of the motion that is still on the Order Paper, and it reads, that an opportunity to open the port has been lost with the cancellation of the recent referendum on a new multi-purpose dock facility in Skagway.
Here we have one Member from the side opposite who believes that a new open port is possible. At the same time we have the Minister of Community and Transportation Services saying that the opportunity has been lost. Is the Minister who is responsible for transportation in the Yukon correct?
There is another issue that concerns me with this motion. We have to ask ourselves what right we have to interfere in the affairs of the State of Alaska and, specifically, the Town of Skagway? I have several friends who live in the Skagway area. I know this port issue was a very difficult one for the people of Skagway to resolve, but they did resolve it. They decided to cancel the referendum and stick with the port facilities they currently have, after there was a deal struck between Curragh Resources and White Pass to continue with the existing freight terminal.
In fact, they now have a third dock that was constructed this spring to accommodate more cruise ships in Skagway. Should we, in this House, be telling the people of Skagway what they should or should not have? Is that not like our own municipalities, telling them what they should or should not do in their communities?
I know one does not have to look very far back into Hansard to read speech after speech from Members of the other side, telling us that communities should be able to set their own agenda, and that we should not be telling them how to run their own affairs.
In this case, we seem to be wanting to tell Skagway that they should re-evaluate the decision they made before and look at doing it again.
Everyone in the Yukon would appreciate a lower cost of living, if a new open port could provide that. I am not convinced that the people of Skagway are ready to change the decision they made only a few months ago.
The other concern I have is with the involvement of this government in any future port development. It is one thing to encourage the development of better access to port facilities, and another to get involved financially. We all have very sad memories of the involvement of this government in Hyland Forest Products, and their attempt to help that industry.
My preference here is to encourage the private sector to develop, rather than government involvement. For these reasons, I would like to propose the following amendment to Motion No. 20.
THAT Motion No. 20 be amended by deleting the words Future initiatives and replacing them with the words future private sector initiatives unassisted by government, and providing the Town of Skagway agrees.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Whitehorse Riverdale North
THAT Motion No. 20 be amended by deleting the words Future initiatives and replacing them with the words future private sector initiatives unassisted by government and providing the town of Skagway agrees.
Mr. Phillips: I will be brief, because I have outlined the reasons for tabling this amendment already. I should point out that I am as concerned as other Members about the cost of living in the territory and reducing the cost of living. The governments own figures tell us that, currently, only seven percent of the freight that comes into the territory is attributable to the bottleneck at Skagway. So, when the Member for Whitehorse South Centre stands up and talks about the very high cost of living around Whitehorse, there are not many people around here who can relate to that. In fact, the other high percentage of food is coming from sources other than through that bottleneck - food, supplies and fuel. In the last few years, we have experienced a reduction in fuel costs because several companies are bringing fuel in here that is less expensive than it was before.
I am as skeptical as the Skagway residents about the ability of a new dock to stand alone and pay for itself, since Curragh Resources has struck a deal with White Pass. It is a concern we have to address in this House. If another port facility goes in there, and we are involved in it in some way, you can be sure that we are going to have to heavily subsidize such a facility to make it stand alone.
In an article in the Yukon News, on April 11, it states that a deal between White Pass and Curragh Resources, which is the main user of the dock, means a new multi-purpose dock in Skagway likely could not pay for itself.
It also goes on to say, and this is in support of my earlier argument and is: Mr. Cormie, speaking for the Yukon government, said that because of the agreement, the Yukon government likes to let Skagway know its positions on things like port development while keeping in mind that the territorial government is a foreign government that respects Skagways right to make its own decisions.
I think the amendment is a friendly one as it just changes a couple of areas in the motion.
I would like to point out something else when we talk about a stand-alone dock, which is some other information I have. The article on Skagway goes on to state that there are facilities already available for other boats and barges to come in and unload yet none have done so.
It might also be interesting to note that in the 1988 freight activity in the Skagway port, in January there were ships in port 14 days; in February, 8 days; in March, 10 days; in April, 11 days; in May, 19 days; in June, six days; in July, six days; in August, 9 days; in September, 11 days; in October, 7 days; in November, 9 days and in December, 5 days. As well, during the high load summer season, 75 percent of Skagways present cruise ship facilities remain unused. This means that there is a 25 percent utilization of cruise ship facilities during the normal five month summer cruise ship season.
The combined industrial and cruise ship use of all Skagways docks amounts to 17.3 percent of the available time. This means that all docks presently available to Skagway were unused on an annual basis 83 percent of the time.
I raise this only because if we were talking about another dock facility in Skagway, we have to realize it is going to be a stand-alone feature and we have to take into consideration what it will cost us, the people of Skagway or the people of Alaska, to subsidize that dock. It would be great if there were other facilities there, but I think that is a decision the people of Skagway and Alaska in general have to deal with more than us. I think we could encourage them, as we can do with this motion, but I do not think we should be telling the people of Skagway how to conduct their business.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am intrigued to be responding to the series of contradictions being presented by the Member for Riverdale North. One of the first questions that he asked was: what was the purpose of the motion? He suggested, I believe most inappropriately, that perhaps it was a personal vendetta of a Member or Members on this side of the House. I am disappointed by that suggestion. I am disappointed because obviously the Member has not grasped the importance and significance of the issue at stake here.
We have, as indicated by the previous speaker to the Member, that is, the mover of the motion, the critical importance that the port of Skagway serves to the Yukon. The purpose of the motion, as questioned by the Member, is quite simple. It is to encourage an open, competitive port at Skagway. What the Member is arguing is that the port at Skagway ought to continue in its situation of monopoly by a Canadian company, which is currently the status now. In other words, the Member is arguing that it is perfectly okay for a Canadian company to have complete control of a port facility that affects the goods that can come in to the Yukon, in turn affecting the price of those goods.
I do not want to go on for two hours, and I suspect that I will get another opportunity on another day, but I do want to refute a number of comments by the Member: in particular, the issue surrounding his allegation that an open port facility would not pay for itself. The amendment that he is proposing clearly would eliminate the American development corporation from support of any development in that port facility in that country. In other words, the Member is suggesting that the State of Alaskas development corporation does not have a right to carry out any initiative in developing that port. That is a blatant contradiction. On the one hand, he says we should not be telling Alaska what to do.
In the same breath he is telling Alaska what it should be doing. I am barely winding up, and I have much more to say, but given the lateness of the hour I move adjournment of debate.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services that debate be now adjourned.
Motion to adjourn dabate on the amendment to Motion No. 20 agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair and 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 the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: We will recess until 7:30 p.m.
Chair: I will call the Committee of the Whole to order.
Introduction of Visitors
Mr. Nordling: Before we start I would like to introduce a group in the audience. They are the First Porter Creek Wolf Cub Pack along with their leaders. There are 25 boys and three leaders. Their visit here tonight is to study for their law badge. They have come here tonight to see how laws are made and how the territory is run. I think we should be on our best behavior tonight.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I would like to say that on the way in I had a conversation with a couple of the little guys when they were standing there. I asked them what they were going to be seeing tonight and two of them turned around and said, Nothing!
Bill No. 15 -Second Appropriation Act, 1990-91 - continued
Chair: We were dealing with the Second Appropriation Act, 1990-91 and were in general debate on Community and Transportation Services.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I extend a warm welcome to our distinguished visitors in the gallery. I trust you may or may not find out how laws are made; we will see in the next hour.
The Member for Kluane raised the issue surrounding personnel at the weigh scale in Haines Junction. I have had a brief opportunity to speak to the department and, as committed last night, I will be providing detail in writing to the Member.
Mr. Brewster: I will take that in good faith that it will be done. I would point out, however, he made a couple of statements about how good the road crew could take care of the road there. Just outside of Whitehorse today one of my good friends was severely burned, another man was killed. The road plow showed up quite late, but I will not go into that now. I will a little later.
Two weeks ago I was in Mayo, and coming out of Carmacks four cars went into the ditch because it was so icy you could not hardly climb. If that is the way they are going to look after the Haines Road we can expect lots of trouble.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It is with sad regret I, too, learned of the tragedy on the highway today. I can assure the Member, as I can assure all Members, highway personnel respond as quickly as they are able to in changing weather conditions. The crews are certainly mobilized and ready for every eventuality of emergency. The fact remains that as a storm is occurring and as it extends itself through long periods of time, the capability of keeping that snow and ice off the road has its limitations.
I certainly do share the sadness that the Member expresses. At the same time, I feel my sense of responsibility to ensure that we are still doing the best job we can in maintaining those roads.
Mr. Brewster: I will not carry on with that; I just pointed it out to him. At supper time tonight, I talked with the wrecking crew that had to pull him out and I know quite a bit about what happened out there. Politicians are politicians. They always talk a lot and do not really know the facts. I would like to get on now with the airport, the only one in the Yukon, probably the only one in Canada that has a big hump in the middle. Maybe that is why they are transferring the Department of Transportation out there in the decentralization, because if they put them out there, they would be very close to the wrecks unless something is done. Can the Minister confirm that the airport in Haines Junction has a large hump in it, and for this to be operated properly and to be under the right regulations, it would have a tower with a man maintained in the tower?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Well, I cannot confirm or deny the issue surrounding the hump in the airstrip; I can only investigate. However, I will note for the Member that we have just had the Arctic D and C program devolved to the territory. In other words we have just concluded an agreement with the federal government whereby we are now in charge of managing those strips. The agreement that was reached, very directly and quite importantly, affected Haines Junction. Part of the devolution agreement included a $3.6 million one-time capital expenditure over a three-year period for two airports, namely Carmacks and Haines Junction. The portion of funds directed for Haines Junction is being partially spent this year. The airport is under construction now; it will continue its reconstruction and upgrading over the next two years. I can assure the Member that the airport and any facilities related to it are going to meet required standards. They will achieve Ministry of Transport certification and any deficiencies that would endanger the safety of the airstrip will not be permitted. I am not sure what more I can add to that. If there are any deficiencies as a result of construction, they ought to be rectified during construction so that the strip is safe. I landed at the Haines Junction strip only a few months ago. I certainly physically did not observe anything or feel anything in the landing.
I visited the Haines Junction strip about three weeks ago. It was not brought to my attention in my review of construction that there were any deficiencies. There was certainly considerable construction going on and I think that is to the credit of our officials who negotiated a good deal and got the money to deliver it.
Mr. Brewster: I will have to challenge the Minister to go on another trip with me so I can show him what is going on in this world.
We spoke with the outfit in Edmonton and they tell us that, as you cannot see from one end to the other of that airport, planes coming from either end could hit square on. I confirmed this because I went out and looked at it and brought my horses nearby during construction so I could snoop around and see what was happening. There was a definite hump in it and I am told that the only way it will qualify is if there is a tower. Is that in the design? Will someone be operating it?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The only assurance I can give the Member is that the final construction of the strip is going to meet MOT certification standards. If there is a hump in it, we will have to remove it before the strip can be fully certified.
The Member raises the issue of a tower. The information I can provide the Member is that the facility in Haines Junction is getting a new terminal, but this does not include a tower.
Mr. Brewster: I am not going to carry this on too much longer. It is obvious the department disagrees with me. I know what I saw and what pilots have told me. They tell me it will continue for two or three years. The crushed gravel is all on and I assume you will asphalt it, but you sure had better not have to tear it up afterwards to get that crown out of the strip. I am five feet, ten and one-half inches tall and I cannot see from one end to the other. There must be at least a six-foot crown on it.
Surely you are not going to turn around now and tear that all up. It is quite apparent to me that there was plenty of goose mate out there. I will get on to the timber cutting and a few other things shortly. The whole job is another one of these mix-ups that has been made by them. I will go on from there.
The next question I would like to ask the Minister regards the eight hectares of land that was supposed to be cleared for gravel; they ended up with 35 hectares. Will you truthfully stand up and tell me how much gravel is in that pit?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Just to conclude the issue surrounding the alleged hump in the airstrip, I want the Member to know that because he raised the matter I will raise it with officials of the construction project. I will raise it with MOT officials who are responsible for certifying strips to be level, straight and safe. I can anticipate, from my past experience in air navigation, that there are some tolerances allowed on any strip, and particularly in the north. I recall a situation in Faro, where we were upgrading an airport, years ago. The required distances and slopes for location of that airstrip did not meet the MOT standards. However, by some adjustments of the grades leading off the airstrip, there was an accommodation made, so I know that some tolerances are allowed in the standards that are set by MOT. I guess the final word is that I respect the concern the Member raises. I will have it investigated and he can be assured that if MOT certifies a strip as being safe for landing requirements, there is not very much more that I am technically competent to do or change.
The Member raised the issue surrounding the gravel pit. Well, that is another issue in itself. I am sure the Member knows quite well some of the details surrounding that. I cannot tell him at this very instant the volume of gravel that exists in that pit but there is gravel there and there is gravel throughout the entire cleared area.
I do know the entire pit should have been cleared at this time. I had said so. It is a clearing that was done under contract and had the authority to be done, but I do not agree, nor do many residents, that it all should have been cleared at this time.
I have met with the mayor of Haines Junction. We have discussed the matter. We have corresponded on the matter. We are addressing it with a view to examining the option of grassing some of the area of the cleared pit for an interim period, because we are not going to require the use of all of the pit for a number of years. It is anticipated that entire pit will not get used up for possibly as many as 15 to 20 years. It stands to reason that we could have cleared it in sections, but we did not. Having cleared it entirely, we are trying to find an approach to assist in some form of rectification and reclamation, as we use it.
Mr. Brewster: How much extra out of the contract are you going to have to pay for the crusher? They were told to crush there, so I suspect the crusher had to keep moving. I happen to run cone crushers. Every time you move them, you lose a day or a day and one-half. Somebody is going to have to pay for that, and it is not the fault of the crushing crew.
I know the Minister does not have the information now, but I would like him to come back and tell me how much extra they had to pay the contractor. When he first started, he made three moves within a week because he could not find gravel in the great gravel pit. There was just a small layer of gravel, and there is nothing anywhere else. What were the extra charges?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am going to have to review in Hansard precisely what the Member is asking. I say that because I think he is confusing a couple of different pits. There is an existing pit besides the one that is cleared, and there is still some remaining gravel there. In the new cleared area where a pit was opened, there was a considerable volume of crushed gravel in one pile. I cannot remember if the crusher was still there, but I believe it was. I personally viewed it, and there was no appearance of any movement to do that crushing. There was a huge excavation from where they took the gravel. The crushed pile was nearby. I believe the crusher was there, but I cannot specifically remember that, and it was in one specific area.
I will investigate the question the Member raises that suggests there is no gravel, or very little gravel, and that the depth of it is very shallow. I think that is what the Member is getting at.
It is not my information and is not what I observed when I went to look at the site. I distinctly recall an excavation that I am sure was to the depth of approximately 20 feet. I walked through, around and over the area. The only disappointment I had was that they cleared all of this area that is not going to be used for years to come. I will investigate this suggestion from the Member that the gravel is shallow, that there is not much of it, and somewhere in all of that is the suggestion by the Member that the decision on location was a poor one.
Mr. Brewster: You may have found gravel after we chased around 35 hectares, but where they first put this individual, there is no question that he moved because when we were in there the place the gravel crusher had been was changed twice.
I would like to go onto another question on this. The government keeps talking about the environment and how it is going to save everything. It put a road in there. I live within a mile of both gravel pits and am quite familiar with the area. They did not take any crushed gravel that I know of from the first pit, because that belongs to the municipality and they hauled all their heavy stuff out of there. The crushed stuff came from the other pit. I am quite aware that the municipality pit was opened up so the heavy industrial stuff could be hauled out. A road was built in there. I have not been back since to confirm that. It may not have been done, because I would have let out such a scream that I think someone thought they better not do it.
All the trees were cleared for something like three miles. The timber was all pushed over. Here is the government that is going to look after the environment and the economy and everything else. All the timber was pushed into the bush. I complained about this and asked Forestry why they were allowing them to do this. When the rest of us clear farmland, we have to clean and burn everything and look after everything. He said that the timber was supposed to be burned along the road, but the crews got behind so they pushed it into the bush. I said, Now you mean to tell me that the taxpayers are going to pay to have it pulled out of the bush and burned?
Oh no, he said, they will cut more trees around it and burn it.
I do not understand it; the whole community is in an uproar. If this is done, it will be absolutely criminal. Then at the airport, green timber was destroyed all over the place. After some hollering, some logs were left, which they tried to get the little sawmill to take. He explained he was not going to put his saw through that stuff. It was full of dirt and had been run over. I went and looked at it. It is true. I think some of it was hauled into Whitehorse.
If an agricultural person went out to clear some land, he would have to save everything with over a six inch butt.
Let me just explain what could have been done. I am not very good at judging timber, but I would say 500 to 600 cords of wood were destroyed. During the budget debate I said that some of the senior citizens were not getting their free cord of wood from the correctional institute. And here is what it says: In the 1990-89 fiscal years, 134 cords of firewood were cut to stove length and delivered to 34 different clients. This year, you will see about the same number of cords being cut. This is due to new land clearing projects this winter and no feasible firewood lots. We neither have the monetary means nor the equipment to operate a woodlot to recover fire-killed wood. Yukon Forest Service Canada has indicated they have no areas at the present time where thinning of green trees can take place.
This outfit cleaned a mile and one-half to two miles. How wide? It must be a one-half mile wide, and it was all burned. Why could they not have taken the LEOP program or taken the inmates out of the correctional institute, cut that wood and give it to the senior citizens? The government continually scream and holler to the private businessmen that they cannot do these things. The placer miners are told that they are putting too much dirt in and yet, in one project, the government destroyed all that timber and the rest would have been destroyed if the town had not started screaming and hollering about it. I suggested ways that you could have solved this and helped everybody in the Yukon.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member raises a number of very valid points, and I would like to speak to each of them as I can recall. However, I must make one correction to a statement he made at the outset and that was in respect to the second pit, that is the pit leading into the one that was open. I understand that we indeed were granted authority to use gravel from that pit and in fact, we did use, I am told, some 15,000 cubic metres from that first pit for use at the airport. I do not know if it was crush material or not. The Member spoke about the issue of the road clearance and about the firewood not being salvaged. I can agree wholeheartedly with him when he says that we should be making better use of wood that has to be cut down for, in this case, a development project. The unfortunate thing is that our directions, if you will, our instructions, our requirements under the contract were not heeded as we would have liked them to have been heeded. The Member knows that the road is put through and the clearing is done through a land-use permit. A permit is granted by Forestry. The Member is perfectly within his right to chastise anyone where there is a waste of wood.
The fact is that wood salvaging was not taken advantage of by local residents. I am advised that we asked for the wood that would ultimately be destroyed by the clearing to be salvaged by local woodcutters and residents. That was not taken advantage of to any great extent. There were some people who went in and cut firewood. There was some slashing done in advance and some salvaging, but the Member is right, a good portion of it was burned. I agree that is not a good practice but I cannot direct Forestry to write terms into a land-use permit that they will not enforce. We can only request that wood salvaging be a condition of the contract. Under the land-use permit, Forestry has to manage that. If Forestry wants to permit clearing and the destruction of the wood and refuses to insist on precutting or salvaging of the wood, this government and I are limited in our control over this.
I agree with the Member. I was disappointed to see some of the wood burned. I was very disappointed to see the condition of the road. But when I inquired about the road to the mayor, I was advised the contractor did, as I believe the Member said, intend to clean up the road and this may involve even more wood cutting and destruction.
If Forestry, under the land-use permit, is going to allow that, the only recourse I have is to speak to them and insist they adhere to stricter terms for wood salvage. I will do that in any further work that may be associated with that airport. Unfortunately, I think we both realize the access road to the gravel pit is already done and the clearing for the airstrip is virtually done.
In all fairness, as I am sure the Member will agree, there was some salvage of wood. Local residents and the contractor himself did precut and stack cord wood that I am sure still sits there today.
While there was some wood salvaged, I agree with the Member that it was not prudent enough and it did not get utilized as it should have been.
Chair: I would like to remind you to address your remarks through the Chair to the Minister. Do not use you.
Mr. Brewster: I will try not to use the word you any more but I think you should take into consideration that the Government Leader says I have a small mind; sometimes I cannot get everything collected in it at once.
I would agree with the Minister...
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Point of order, Madam Chair.
Chair: Point of order.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Once again, we cannot allow Members to misrepresent private conversations not spoken into the record. It is totally unparliamentary. The Member is saying I said something I did not say. I say to the Member: either his hearing is not very good or he is in fact willfully misrepresenting what I said in private conversation.
Chair: There is no point of order.
Mr. Brewster: I will agree that they did haul wood out of the municipal road, but I believe that was the road that was based with the heavy stuff. I do not believe they were correct in there. I could be wrong but I certainly never saw the crusher there and I do not think it was there, but that is a small point.
I have one little problem with the forestry thing and I talked with the Forestry about it. However, during their cutting of the road, they ended up across my lease, which I have had since 1960. They then had to come to apologize to me because they did not know they were on my lease. They already had the road marked and surveyed. Then they gave me a piece of paper to sign that is in this building somewhere. I was in a rather tough spot because, number one, I spent eight years trying to get an airport and here it looked like I was going to hold the airport up for a lease.
I would not know why the government would not know I had a lease. I only got it in 1960. I only paid taxes for 30 years - no, 29 years, it will be 30 years this spring. I can certainly understand why the government would not know I had a lease there. In all fairness, the poor surveyor came down and he had to take the beating and talk to me and I think he got rather a surprise. Like I said, you know, you really have me over a barrel, I will be quite frank. I have been fighting for eight years and I would be really hypocritical now to hold you up, but I think you would be damned thankful that I was an MLA, because otherwise you would be hearing about a few things.
However, during that time, an individual from the territorial government telephoned me and I laid the complaint that if they were going to make a mess on that lease like they did with the airport with the timber and that, that I was not signing that lease. Now my understanding of that conversation was that he was issuing me a land-use permit and he would see that it was cleaned up, and I took him at his word. Now you are telling me that Forestry is responsible. I would like to know really who issues these land-use permits and controls this thing because I telephoned - and there is no mistake - I telephoned to this department to find that out.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: My understanding regarding the issuance of land-use permits is that the Northern Affairs program issues them on federal Crown land, and we, as the Yukon lands branch, issue them on territorial lands. I believe that was the Members question.
Mr. Brewster: This is getting worse and worse. Number one, I have a federal lease that I refuse to turn into a territorial lease, and this lease does not expire until 1992, so I am still on federal land. Yet, the territorial government apparently gave them the land-use permit to go across my land.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have to beg notice of the question to provide a full answer. I think it deserves checking out. I have some recollection of the problem the Member raises. My understanding is that the road was moved off the lease so as not to interfere. If the Members information is different, please put it on the record. I do want to investigate who would have issued the lease on the Members land, and what corrective measures were taken as a result of any abuse through that permit.
Mr. Brewster: I am not too sure there is going to be any abuse. They were just starting to clear it and I am quite sure that after the conversations I had the young surveyor out there, that he was very sincere that they are going to clean this up.
We can have an argument about whether this is on my land or off it. Neither the other land owner beside me nor I have ever done a survey on it, because we have a year-by-year lease. The understanding of the surveyor, and our understanding between the two of us, was that our land joined, so there was no way a road could get between us. In fact, I made it very plain that if the other individual would not sign, I would not sign. We wanted the road in, and we got it. I am not going to argue over the 50 feet of road. I am just pointing out what goes on. I would just as soon get off that right now.
I would like to bring up the subject of foxtails in the ditches. Foxtails are spreading all across farmland, and all over. It appears to be coming out of the ditches, which are completely covered with it. Is the government doing anything to start controlling this weed, which is dreadful when it gets going? On my own farm, although it was only 50 or 100 feet onto my farm a year ago, it has now gone well back to the back of my fields. This is a Yukon problem.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It does come to mind that, at some point this fall while travelling through the Haines Junction area on the Alaska Highway, I noted that there was considerable foxtail in that area. I do not recall having noticed it to that great an extent elsewhere in the territory. The Member knows that the hydroseeding we do is a combination of grasses. We certainly do not seed foxtail but, somehow, it gets into the ecosystem. The Member has reminded me there is an abundance of it in his area. I do not know why. I do not know where it came from. It is certainly a natural grass, I am sure. I would be interested in knowing what the Member would like me to do about it.
Mr. Brewster: It is not such a funny thing when people spend a lot of money tilling and breaking land. Then the seeds come off the highway and start spreading through everybodys properties. It is not just around Haines Junction. It is into Whitehorse and all over. You are going to have to start controlling it. It is a weed.
If a farmer did that, they would close him down immediately, and he would be out of business. These things are not funny. You can snicker all you like about it, but farming happens to be the livelihood of some people. When they have to turn around and start fighting this weed, plus the other natural weeds that are on their property, they have a lot of trouble. This has come up before. I have heard of this at meetings, where people have asked government to do something. I think they better start doing something about it.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Yes, I agree with the Member. Where a particular grass becomes a weed, it becomes harmful and dangerous to the agricultural effort.
I can only tell the Member that I did observe, just this last fall, an abundance of that particular grass in the area of Haines Junction. I will ask my officials to see what they can determine about its origin or control.
In all fairness, the Member should recognize that the foxtail may well have come from a farm, and that it did not necessarily get dropped on the road and move over to the farm. Members opposite seem mildly shocked with the suggestion that the seed of a foxtail could be transported from a point south to a local farm, where it may have taken root, spread in abundance, and moved over to our highway system.
I put that forward as an imaginative possibility, but I take the Members point seriously. I will ask my officials to determine some information about its source, its seriousness as a problem, where it may have originated and what we may be able to do about it. In our hydroseeding and in any grassing we do as Highways, we do not plant foxtail.
Mr. Phillips: Maybe we should commission an official foxtail inquiry and find out where this vicious, little beast came from.
I would like to go back to airports for a moment. The one I would like to talk about is the Cousins strip just outside of town. It is an emergency airstrip that is maintained by the Government of Yukon. I have had several complaints in the past about the state of this airstrip.
Apparently, the Government of Yukon maintains it on a regular basis but, what seems to be happening, is that vandals go out there and, in one particular case, they took all the marker cones that were along the side of the runway, identifying the actual strip you could land on, and they shifted them all over. When an aircraft came in to land, there was a near accident. In other instances, people have gone into the area with vehicles, used the area as a party spot and pulled doughnuts on the strip, creating ruts. Then, when someone come in there and tries to land, especially with a nosewheel aircraft, it can create all kinds of problems and may contribute to an accident, if we are not careful.
Has surveillance been stepped up at that airstrip, as it is close to Whitehorse, or is there some kind of security in place to check on the strip periodically, especially after weekends? Most of the time, people have reported it happening after a weekend or long weekend, where people will go out there and use it as a drinking spot, leaving bottles all over the airstrip, and that type of thing.
Could the government inspect it more frequently, especially as it is close to town and is used when people are training for flight school? I understand they use the Cousins strip quite frequently. It is also used when Whitehorse is fogged in with ice fog, or there is some other reason why you cannot get into town. Small aircraft use that strip as an emergency strip. Most pilots believe it is maintained in a proper condition but, if it is not, this could create an accident.
Will the Minister give us some assurance that they will increase surveillance, or at least increase the maintenance, of that strip so that it is safe.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member does raise a matter of some concern. Cousins strip is one of our emergency strips. It is one of 16 around the territory that we maintain on a regular basis as emergency strips. In the case of Cousins, it is also used for more than just an emergency strip to an area, it is an alternative for Whitehorse. It is also a training strip as the Member points out. I am advised that we patrol that airstrip on a daily basis, so if there are occurrences of damage to the strip or some nuisance, then it ought to be caught on a daily basis. If it is not, then it is not being monitored as we expect it to be. I accept the Members suggestion to ensure that it is monitored daily. I understand that it is supposed to be. I will ensure that it is.
Mr. Phillips: I am glad to hear that they are monitoring it daily now. My understanding several weeks ago when this was brought to my attention was that it was not being monitored on a daily basis, but maybe once a week or whatever. If they have stepped up that type of surveillance of the runway, then I am pleased to see that. Since it is used as a flight training airstrip, the cones used are portable ones, but sometimes they drive down these rubber cones and they get crushed, and replacing them is quite an expense to the government. I know they have replaced quite a few of them there. So maybe the government should look at something a little more sturdy. After all, it is an airstrip that gets used quite a bit for training and emergencies and that type of thing close to Whitehorse. If it is being damaged, then they might look at putting something in there that might last a little longer. It might be cheaper in the long run, rather than replacing these cones that are, I suppose, costing quite a few dollars. If we spent a few dollars more they might last a little longer.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: If, as the Member alleges, we are replacing stolen or damaged cones, then his point is valid and we should be looking at some alternative to minimize that kind of loss, damage and waste. I can only provide to the Member that we will take a look at firstly, whether or not we are losing them and, if we are, then what alternative we can put in place to minimize that loss. I am sure that that is not the only airstrip in the country used on an emergency basis that is frequented on very rare occasions. There must be other airstrips and the Ministry of Transport must have some excellent advice for us on some alternatives that ought to be cheap.
Mr. Lang: I have a number of questions, one of which has to do with the cost sharing of such things as sewage lagoons that have to be put into communities in order to meet environmental standards. What is the policy of the government, as far as the sewage lagoon that is going to be going into the community of Mayo? Is that particular sewage lagoon provided on a cost-shared basis with the community? Is it over and above the block funding available to the community?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The standard policy is 90/10 cost sharing that, in the case of small communities, obviously depending on their ability to afford it, would be less than that, or more than that, depending on how you look at it.
Mr. Lang: That is over and above the block funding to the communities, is that correct? In other words, the 10 percent could be part of the block funding or the general revenue, and the territorial government will pay the balance of the 90 percent. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I believe the Member is correct. If he is talking about a municipality where the block fund applies, yes. Block funding is provided, and that is within the parameters that block funding can be used for.
Mr. Lang: The government is recognizing that, out and beyond the block funding that is available to the communities, that these are extraordinary financial burdens on the community and, subsequently, will go into an extraordinary type of agreement with the community on a 90/10 split?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not sure I completely heard the question. He is asking if it is a normal practice that a 90/10 split is the standard cost-sharing for a municipality where they have block funds that can or cannot be used for this. Perhaps he could restate the question so I could give him a clear answer.
The Member understands that extraordinary funding under the current legislation means funding that is in excess of two and one-half times the block fund that the municipality is getting. The law is not clear as to what proportion the cost sharing should be. That becomes a negotiable matter. In the small communities, where we have entered into extraordinary funding arrangements, we have generally gone into them on a 90/10 basis.
One comes to mind where it was a 75/25 cost share and there were extenuating circumstances that, in our opinion, warranted a greater share by the municipality. In terms of the law, extraordinary funding kicks in wherever you have a project that exceeds, by two and a half times, the amount of the block funding, but the law does not state what proportion the government shall put up toward that extraordinary funding. In essence, it could be anything from 50/50 to 90/10, both ways.
Mr. Lang: I guess that is my point. I just wanted to find out what the policy was. For example, in the community of Mayo, I take it that the policy is 90/10. I am just thinking of the City of Whitehorse and their situation. I am hoping that that type of a split can be negotiated with the City of Whitehorse, so that they can carry on with their ongoing commitments, i.e. in the constituency of the Member for Whitehorse South Centre, where there are some major water and sewer problems that are going to have to be rectified very soon.
If the project has to exceed, strictly, two and a half times, the block funding, well you can forget about that because it is going to be three years of the capital funding of the City of Whitehorse and, unless they raise taxes dramatically, they are not going to be able to afford it. Quite frankly, I think they are almost at the breaking point now in many cases. I know in my riding that it is not uncommon for people to have a tax bill of $1500 or $2000. It is coming to the point where people are really starting to wake up when they get their tax notices.
I see the Member for Whitehorse South Centre nodding her head in assent to what I am saying. I just feel very strong in the representation that I am making to the government and I know it is an issue that is going to be ongoing. We will expect to see a quite generous cost-sharing agreement entered into with the City of Whitehorse or else, quite frankly, it will be a long time before we see a sewage treatment plant.
Does the Minister have any comments on that or shall I move on to another topic?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I accept the representation by the Member. He knows, and I know, that the issue is somewhat sensitive. The Members questions all lead to the issue of the Whitehorse sewage lagoon costs. As I indicated to the Member in previous Question Periods and previous debates, we have not made a specific funding commitment, largely because we do not know the precise costs. Secondly, we do not know what ratio of cost sharing it will be. Thirdly, we do not know over what period of time the costs will be borne. The Member understands that for any kind of massive capital expenditure, you cannot ordinarily find $10 million or $15 million or $20 million in a single year. I anticipate that the Whitehorse sewage lagoon, if it is upgraded in the order of $20 million or $30 million or $40 million, can in no way be afforded by the City of Whitehorse. There is no way that the Yukon government can afford that and I doubt if that kind of money would flow from the feds.
The Member should know that I have raised the matter at a federal level. The Member knows, from reports in the paper, that there has been some positive response, albeit no commitment, from the federal Minister. There was a recognition that Whitehorse has a unique and serious problem. There was a recognition that other cities in the country, faced with burgeoning cost for water quality control, have received federal support. The City of Halifax comes immediately to mind, and several other cities in the country where similar projects were assisted by federal money. Clearly, it is in our interest to approach what kind of cost sharing may be available from the feds. The mayor and I have discussed the matter at length on numerous occasions. The council has raised it. We all recognize that there is a burgeoning cost to Whitehorse to upgrade its effluent discharge. What is happening with the current discharge into the Yukon River is unacceptable to most people. Its licence is unacceptable. We have a problem that is ballooning and the balloon will burst soon. The costs are going to be burdensome.
I do not have much to offer in the debate other than to say we are in the final stages of analyzing the options available and costing those options. We are in discussion and communication with the federal government. We recognize that, in the spirit of the motion passed here last year, that there is an expectation by people that the Yukon government will share in the cost for that upgrade. I think the point is also that the City of Whitehorse has a responsibility. The fine print of where the lines should be cut on that responsibility, where the burden is cut in terms of how it is financed, over what period it is financed, has not been started yet.
Suffice to say to the Member that I certainly recognize the responsibility facing my department to lead a support role to the City of Whitehorse. We have not abrogated any responsibility in terms of our desire to see sewer and water installations in place throughout the territory of a secondary nature, secondary in terms of effluent standard, and Whitehorse has got one of the poorest records of all the communities around the territory. So we have a problem. It is a costly problem. How we are going to deal with it in the final analysis, we will work on it and negotiate it out.
Mr. Lang: It is obviously an issue of concern to both sides of the House. I just wanted to make sure the citizens of Whitehorse are treated in an equal manner to any of the other communities in the territory. I guess that is what we are looking for. We will expect that kind of treatment and I will be watching the negotiations with a great deal of interest to see what the final outcome will be.
I understand that the Minister cannot give us a definitive answer today, and we will have to see what the bottom line is and what our financial commitments are going to be.
I would like to move on to another area. The Minister may not have this information with him, but I would like it provided to me. I would like to have a full accounting of how much the Elsa curling rink cost. I also would like to know the full amount of money that was spent on the Elsa community club in the last five years. I would also like to know the total amount of money spent on the Elsa school in the last five years. I know there will be a cross-over in budgets but most of the funds one way or another come through the Department of Community and Transportation Services.
I would like to ask the Minister if he has any of that information with him. If he does not, I would like to ask him what the plans are for the Elsa curling rink. Is there going to be a grand opening?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will answer that after the recess.
Chair: We will have a short recess.
Chair: I will call Committee back to order.
Mr. Nordling: While the Minister has got his department chasing down a bunch of figures for the Member from Porter Creek East, I would like him to get a couple for me too. I have had someone write me a letter and ask How much has it cost the Yukon government to design the magic and mystery licence plate that now will not be used? It seems to be Maurice Byblows name on the material about it but I am sure you will know better than me where to get the information. So I thought I would use this opportunity to ask Mr. Byblow himself for those numbers.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Right. I thought I had provided most of those numbers in debate last February and January and December and November. In fact, I thought I may even have provided some in April and May. Nevertheless, I take the question seriously. I can try to provide some wrap-up costs relating to all associated costs on the licence plate. The Member I am sure will be on his way to Motor Vehicles by Friday morning to get his rendition of the new plate that went on sale this morning at 8:30 a.m. I would not suggest that we would give the licence plates away. Members recognize that we use the fees to help maintain our roads and do many other transportation-related things. Anyway, I do not mean to be frivolous. Yes, I will provide to the Member the costs associated with the production of licence plates. I take it that what the Member wants to know is what would have been involved in design costs, not just for the fireweed but for the various renditions of the goldpanner plate. I take it he would want to know costs related to mailing any literature - all associated costs - and I will try to provide it.
With respect to the Member for Porter Creek East, and the questions surrounding Elsa, he is correct, I do not have the information at my fingertips on five-year costs for the three facilities he cited. The Member can anticipate that that will take a bit of time to produce.
A similar question was asked about a year ago this time, with regard to those facilities. I suspect that the cost for the four previous years has already been produced and may well have been filed and tabled, but I have to check that. The Member knows that the recreation centre was owned by the community association, so it is not an asset of the government, as such. I am sure I can procure all the capital and operational costs that we may have contributed in relation to the curling club. I have already asked the Minister of Education to assemble the figures related to the school, so that will come from that Minister.
To conclude, that information will be ready for the mains.
Mr. Lang: I had one other question before the break, and that was what was going to happen to the new curling rink? Is there going to be a grand opening, or what is it going to be used for? What is going to be done with it?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can only offer assumptions and a comment. I cannot say definitively. I can only anticipate that, as the community restores production at the mine, some community assemblance may take place. The curling club may be used again. I cannot say definitively. We will have to give it until the community is in full operation next year before we can anticipate use of the facilities.
Mr. Lang: Perhaps we could have some bonspiels there for economic diversification. Perhaps we could put in a Zamboni and artificial ice so we can have an early start in the fall.
My understanding is that the plan for the mine, if it is to open, is to be a fly-in/fly-out operation. If that is the case, is it not the position of the company that there is just going to be a bunkhouse and a small rec room available to those who are working there?
They will be working 12-hour shifts and then commuting back to Whitehorse or Mayo or wherever the employees are coming from; is that correct?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The present plans are that the company will open a number of bunkhouses and encourage people to stay at either Keno City or Mayo on a permanent basis. There is still a plan to keep a number of houses open in the community itself for the purpose of housing senior employees who would be residing there. For that reason, obviously there will be some community infrastructure remaining.
With respect to other things that are happening with the mine, the mining plans are being developed for next year. The various community facilities, including the school, will not be decided until such a time as the mine is back in full operation. There is a potential for the school to re-open, depending on the number of people residing in Keno and Elsa with young children.
As the Minister of Community and Transportation Services indicated, the use of the other facilities will be determined as the community comes back to life. It will not be the same as it was, unfortunately, but there will still be some community activity there and there will be some need for facilities.
I am sure there will still be a grand opening of the curling rink and people will use it. I will be there, at least, as well as some people who have shown support for it. I am sure it is even big enough to invite those people who did not show so much support, which means the Member for Porter Creek East might even get an invitation.
Nevertheless, the future looks relatively bright for the community as opposed to how it appeared in the past. I think that is a short sketch of the community plans.
Mr. Lang: My concern about the curling rink is that a lot of money has been spent on it. I am sure the intentions were good.
I was told some time ago that the Member for Mayo and the Minister of Education, while he was Minister of Community and Transportation, was told approximately one year prior to the mine closing that there was a strong possibility that it would close.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I was told no such thing: not a year ago, nor a couple of months before.
I had a meeting with the senior mine management, including the president of the company, along with the Premier, in November, at which time issues such as power rates were discussed with United Keno Hill Mines. There was no indication at that time that the mine was going to shut down. There was talk about flow-through share financing and various other things, but the mine management remained hopeful and optimistic that things were going to proceed well. The rumour is not true.
Mr. Lang: I will wait to see the figures that the Minister is going to get together.
The problem is that once or twice the figures have been tabled, but each year we seem to add on to these figures. We never seem to get a final accounting of exactly how much money in total we are putting in these various assets. Not that anyone is trying to hide these figures. The fact is it is $50,000 here and $20,000 there. For a Member to get all those figures you have to have a filing system that I do not have and three people chasing it. This is why I would like a final accounting.
I would like to move on to the MOT transfer of airports to this government. How much money was involved this year and this forthcoming year and how much is being allocated for running the airports?
Secondly, the same goes for the transfer of highways agreement. How much money was allocated for the highways in that agreement, and how much is being spent this coming year on highways vis-a-vis the transfer agreement?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can provide some of that information on my feet.
The amount of money involved in transferring the airport program for the 10 airports classified as B and C was $1.756 million on the operational side. That provided funds for our maintenance of the 10 airports that we took over. Within that $1.756 million approximately $600,000 was discretionary capital dollars that would flow each year. That would leave approximately $1.1 million for the maintenance of the airports.
I should point out that as a result of the devolution the department, or airports, do not directly get that funding anymore.
That has been withdrawn from the departmental structure of financing directly for airports to government-wide general revenue. Nevertheless, the commitment is there to maintain, in the case of the airports, ongoing costs, so I think I can assure the Member approximately the same amount is still used for airport purposes.
That is approximately the story on the airports. I guess the only thing that remains to be said is that, under terms of the agreement, there is an escalator clause built into the agreement such that each year the dollars escalate by the cost-of-living increase into the base funding for the Yukon government. If it was 1.756 in the first year, it would increase by, I believe, three percent, or thereabouts. The additional point on the airport agreement was a one-time capital funding, and I think I said this earlier to the Member for Kluane, of $3.6 million over a three-year period and that was for upgrading the Carmacks and Haines Junction airports. That money, spread over three years, is distributed for upgrading those two airports largely on the grounds that when the B and C airports program was first put in place back in 1974, I believe, there was a long-term capital plan to upgrade the 10 respective airports. Carmacks and Haines Junction did not get that capital upgrading so part of our agreement, part of the negotiation, included a one-time capital funding for those two airports. So it is $3.6 million on the capital side, one-time only over three years, $1.7 million O&M of which $600,000 was discretionary and $1.1 million is the annual O&M costs.
There were five roads involved in the devolution, in terms of responsibility for capital upgrading. The five roads were: the South Klondike Highway, the Dempster Highway, the Top of the World Highway, the North Canol and the Nahanni Range Road.
Under terms of that agreement, strictly on the capital side, we achieved $8.4 million in the negotiations in the first year, also with an escalator clause. Again, that no longer reflects in the budget of Community and Transportation Services as a recoverable item. There is no longer an agreement, as previously structured. The Member will recall that, when we used to come in with a budget, we would give our best guesstimate of what we hoped to get from the feds in that year and, then, we would come in with a supplementary or with an adjustment, because we had to adjust figures in our budget to correspond with the actual dollars we received from the feds.
The $8.4 million had an escalator clause, so it goes up each year, and it is built into the base of formula financing. It goes on with the escalator clause for 25 years. That is built into the Formula Financing Agreement with the federal government.
That gives a general summary of the monies involved in the devolution of those two programs.
Mr. Lang: Is the discretion such that, say for example with the $8.4 million set aside for the five highways we are talking about, the government would have the ability to just spend $6 million and put $2.4 million into operation and maintenance, or into capital in some other department?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is perfectly correct.
When the agreement was signed off, the Yukon government assumed the responsibility for the capital upgrading of those roads - in essence, the funds with which to do any required capital upgrading expected over the next 25 years. I am particularly pleased with the roads agreement, because it reflected a very healthy transfer of dollars over a 25-year period for those roads. The Member is perfectly correct when he says that in any given year we need not spend it exclusively on those five roads if we set priorities differently. That is a budgeting decision of this Cabinet. So we could easily, in any given year, spend $1 million on capital upgrading of those five years. Or we could spend $10 million. In terms of the devolution of the program, of the responsibility for the capital upgrading, because we already had the operations responsibility, we acquired that $8.4 million escalated annually for 25 years.
Mr. Lang: When we get to the main estimates, I would like the Minister to provide for me exactly how much is budgeted for this forthcoming year, 1991-92, for airports. Also on the capital side, I would like to know exactly the full amount budgeted for all those highways in the 1991-92 budget.
Is that okay?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can articulate it for the Member, but it is already marked in the budget, in the mains. Each highway is listed as to what its capital dollars are. In the case of the airports, the operational and capital dollars are there. On the airport side, the Member might note that it is stretched over three years. We only get the $3.6 million on the capital side for the two airports if we spend it. If we do not spend it, we do not get it. So we are going to be very sure that over the three-year period we are budgeting the total amount of that $3.6 million in Carmacks and Haines Junction.
On the operation side, it approximates $1.1 million, and $600,000 discretionary, that will be identified as to where we are spending it. On the roads, the amount we are spending is listed out. The Member will note, when he looks at the main estimates, that we will spend substantially less than the $8 million in the next year.
Mr. Lang: I would like to refresh the Ministers memory. During the debate on decentralization, we asked for a full accounting of exactly how much the department was estimating the decentralization of the communication branch transfer to Carcross was going to cost. That included all housing, and all those costs. I wanted to alert the Minister, to make sure that is available for the main estimates.
The other question I had was with respect to the land policy for agriculture. That has been under review. The final call for comments was approximately a month ago. When is a decision expected to be made on that? How much money has it cost to date for that particular program?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The agriculture policy that has been under review has just concluded, as the Member notes. Between the two departments involved - Renewable Resources and the lands branch of Community and Transportation Services - there is a review of all the comments and submissions received. The two departments will jointly be preparing a final document for Mr. Webster and myself, at which point we will review it, revise it, carry it forward, as we deem responsible, and pass it on through our colleagues, and bring it forward to the House.
I do not want to tie myself down to a time frame, because the lead agency is the Department of Renewable Resources.
So I do not want to pre-empt any commitments the Minister of Renewable Resources may have made. Whether or not the department will complete the review of submissions and documents before Christmas I cannot say. Perhaps the Member can raise the question again in the appropriate departmental review. I think the Minister of Renewable Resources is at much more liberty to discuss the time frame.
Mr. Lang: Maybe I could rouse the Minister of Renewable Resources from his obvious studious stance that he has taken thus far and maybe he could inform the farmers of the territory, or potential farmers, when this policy that has been underway since a year and a half ago is going to get a final decision.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I want to assure the Members opposite that I am paying close attention to this matter that is being debated right now in the Community and Transportation Service budget. I do not want to give any assurance at this time to the Member opposite about the release of the agricultural policy in its final form. I will say that we did have a number of responses from the public and from the agricultural community, prior to the September 30 deadline.
They are being reviewed by both departments at this time, Community and Transportation Services and Renewable Resources. Once they have reviewed those submissions and made some recommendations, they will run that by Cabinet before the final policy is formalized. And I cannot at this time promise the Member an exact date for that to take place.
Mr. Lang: Sure, if this is not the magic and the mystery, I do not know what is. I mean anybody paying that close attention, I have to give the Minister full marks, he obviously knows how the process works and so does the Minister of Community and Transportation. We have got that in our minds. Does everybody have it clear how it works?
That is news for the unwashed public out there. They would like to know when the decision will be made public. That seems fair. I asked questions on this a year ago and it was supposed to have been released about six weeks later at that time. The decision was supposed to have been made on policy. We are all a year older. Can we expect that a final decision will be made by Christmas or are we talking about the first month in January? I want an idea of the time frame we are working with here.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I do admit to the Member there is a bit of deja vu here. I do recall the Member opposite asking the same question about a year ago. So he must understand my reluctance this year to provide some definite concrete guideline as to when that decision will be made public. We would like to know within two or three weeks when to expect this.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I would like to be able to provide this to the Member in two or three weeks time. Perhaps at the time we are reviewing the main budget for the Department of Renewable Resources we can give you a good idea of when the policy will be ready to be tabled.
Mr. Lang: I guess this subject will be coming up again as they are not yet very far ahead with it.
I just have one more question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services and it has to with land dispositions. I wrote a letter to the Minister on a constituency problem about one week ago. It has to do with land. Four people who are applying and meet the criteria are finding that the question of land claims has come up. Can the Minister provide for this House, in the main estimates, the number of pieces of property that have been applied for and are being held up due to land claims?
Is he going to be able to tell how many people are going to be affected by this?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not sure if I have that kind of specific information. I know that I can provide, and have provided in previous debates, the number of applications that are currently in progress. I can advise of the number of applications that are at various stages of review, whether they have gone through the Lands Application Review Commission, whether there is a consultation process going on, whether they are in an agreement for sale, how many titles have been issued. There is considerable data. Whether or not it has been delineated or refined to the extent of which applications are being affected strictly by land claims, I am not sure. I will review that.
Mr. Lang: I will be following that up in the mains, and I hope we can have that information. It seems to be a problem that some individuals have. It would be interesting to see what we are talking about in terms of the numbers of applicants who are running across this final decision being held up because of it.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Just quickly looking at some stats that have been provided to me, I can tell the Member at this time that there are currently 113 applications for agricultural land on file now. Forty-four are active and in some stage of review. There are 17 in a land transfer process. There are 51 on hold. That should total the required number.
Of the 51 that are on hold, they are on hold for a number of reasons. Some are on hold because of current agreements that must be completed before these applications can move anywhere in consultation with the City of Whitehorse.
Some are on hold because of the application not meeting requirements for non-soil-based agriculture, so they have been put on hold pending the agricultural policy coming out. Some have conflicts with game farming policy, and some have land claims conflicts. That is the refinement I can give at this time.
Beyond that, I have no further information. I suspect the Members question still stands: which of those 51 have a land claims conflict, and I will see if I can find that out.
I would move that you report progress on Bill No. 15.
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 the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Chair: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 15, entitled Second Appropriation Act, 1990-91, and directed me to report progress on same.
Speaker: You have heard the report from 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.