Wednesday, November 21, 1990 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
We will proceed at this time with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
Are there any Introductions of Visitors?
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would like to introduce all Members in the Legislature to our special guests in the gallery from J.V. Clark School in Mayo: Vernon Asp, Rosemary Asp, Michelle Buyck, Lana Cooper, John Dahle, Simone MacDonald, Joe Popadynec, Vera McGinty, now working with Yukon College, and teacher Jim Hawrylenko. I would like to welcome them warmly today.
Speaker: Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have for tabling the annual report of the Government of Yukon and also a number of legislative returns, copies of which I have provided to the table.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have for tabling a legislative return from the Department of Economic Development.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I have for tabling, for your information, an ad from the 1982 elections from the Whitehorse Star.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Petition No. 1
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have for tabling a response to a petition regarding mining in the Kluane north area.
Speaker: Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Notices of Motion.
Statements by Ministers.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I rise today to inform Members of new initiatives being undertaken by speech and hearing services to deal with the backlog of audiological clients waiting to be seen. It has been a subject of some debate in this House in previous months.
As Members may recall, during the last session there was some discussion over the lengthy period of time that clients were required to wait before being able to see an audiologist. Then, the waiting period for adults was up to 18 months, and up to three months for children.
I am pleased to inform Members that it is this governments policy to provide audiology services in as expeditious a manner as possible and that by January 1991, the old waiting list will have been cleared up and all clients on that list will have been seen by the audiologist.
As well as clearing up the backlog of waiting clients, steps have been taken by speech and hearing services that will ensure that Yukon residents who need to have their hearing tested by the audiologist will have only a minimal wait for an appointment.
A reorganization in speech and hearing services, changes in procedures and the purchase of new diagnostic equipment have already helped to drastically reduce the current waiting list.
The new equipment is highly accurate and reduces the need for repeat visits and reassessments while the reorganization and changes in procedures have allowed waiting clients to be seen much sooner than previously.
These changes have all helped contribute to a more efficient and speedy service. Once the backlog has been cleared up, adults who need appointments will have a minimal wait to see the audiologist and children will be seen within a few days of the initial call requesting an appointment.
It is unreasonable to expect that there will be no waiting list at all but efforts are being made to limit that waiting list to a minimal length of time - certainly within a month. I thank all Members for their patience on this question.
Mr. Lang: We welcome this ministerial statement. As the Minister knows, we raised this question last year and we were assured during the course of the last session that the backlog was going to be taken care of. I was quite surprised, as an MLA, over the course of the summer, when I had representation made to me by a constituent that he would not get the necessary service for up to two years. As the Minister knows, I pursued that with him as the MLA and we did get that clarified and the individual in question did get the necessary treatment. I hope, as an MLA, and I speak for all members on this side and I am sure on the other side, that we do not have to make further representation to the government in this respect. It is a service that is long overdue, and as long as it is done efficiently it is going to be very welcome by the public.
Speaker: This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Hootalinqua North plan
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions about land-use planning again today, this time with respect to the Hootalinqua North land-use planning exercise. Looking through one of my files I saw a release dated February 23, 1987, entitled, Whitehorse West Planning Starts. That was the first name given to this planning exercise. Eighty-five thousand dollars was awarded to a consulting firm to assist in preparing the plan. The plan got to a certain stage and then bogged right down. I am wondering what has been done over the past 12 months with respect to advancing the Hootalinqua North land-use plan.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: With respect to the land-use plan affecting Hootalinqua North, the Leader of the Opposition may recall that I met with him during the course of last winter, outlining to him a scenario that I was going to be proposing to respective interest groups of the area. The proposal that I was putting forward was to create a planning body in three respective areas of Hootalinqua North. In the subsequent discussions that I had with residents of Hootalinqua North, the issue of hamlet status and incorporating a planning exercise with the hamlet body came into the discussion. As a consequence, the position that I have taken is to await the election of the hamlet councils of the respective areas and address the adoption of a Hootalinqua North Plan, following that time.
Mr. Phelps: I understand that there is a movement afoot to form another hamlet in the Hotsprings Road/Mayo Road areas. Is the Minister going to wait for that process to attain fruition before he proceeds with the land-use planning exercise?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member raises an interesting and very valid point. It was my intention, as I believe I have indicated to the Member previously in private discussions, and I definitely indicated to representatives of the steering committee that evolved in the Ibex Valley, that I would proceed with discussions pertaining to an adoption of a plan following the election and establishment of a hamlet council. The issue of waiting for another hamlet council is one that I have not given much thought to; certainly at this juncture, I would take the position that I feel committed to proceeding with discussions on adoption of a plan. It has been on the books long enough. Residents have some things to say about it. I would like to proceed early in the new year with those discussions, irrespective of another hamlet formation. If that posed a problem, it would be my logical approach to include representatives of that hamlet area that may be under consideration.
Mr. Phelps: How is the Minister going to appoint members to the new steering committee?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: When I outlined to the Member opposite and to representatives from the area the plan to create four steering groups with an umbrella group of representatives from those four groups, it was prior to the creation, or even the thought of the creation, of a hamlet council. It was during those discussions, in attempting to find a workable approach to a plan, that the hamlet councils began to evolve. Following the election of hamlet councils, I will approach the new council and address a model that would be acceptable to the council, a model that would address completion of the plans and that indeed would provide for a planning exercise through which ...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Minister please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: ... a planning model could be adopted that would be acceptable to residents and meet the requirements of the planning exercise.
Question re: Hootalinqua North Plan
Mr. Phelps: Back in February of 1987, $85,000 was awarded to a consulting firm to assist in the planning exercise in the area, and subsequently that contract was enlarged. I understand that somewhat over $100,000 was spent for that consulting group. I am wondering if there is going to be another contract awarded to have consultants assist the new planning body that is going to be appointed by the Minister?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I cannot give the Member a firm answer to that question. Through the planning efforts that have taken place over the past three years, we have compiled quite a substantial body of research and planning material. In fact, a final document exists, which has been put into circulation. It may not be necessary to engage further detailed work in an initial effort to finalize the planning exercise. The Member knows that as plans become more and more detailed, further detailed effort is required. Now there may be, later on in the planning exercise, a need to engage the services of outside help, but in the initial stage, I would propose to use the existing hamlet council and work with the existing research we have already developed.
Mr. Phelps: It is fine to deal with the hamlet council that is going to be elected, but that is only one small part of the area that is being planned. Most of the area is on the other side of the Takhini River.
Does the Minister intend to have a lot of public meetings before a final plan is adopted by him?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is correct when he says the hamlet council will serve only a portion of the Hootalinqua North planning area, but it is a substantial portion. The area in the region down the Mayo Road toward Marsh Lake is an area that is not represented by the hamlet, nor is some of the area around the Takhini Hotsprings.
I take a lead from the hamlet council to formulate the area steering group. I would be approaching the residents of the unrepresented area to formulate the other steering groups and, ultimately, create the umbrella group I explained to the Member I plan to use in the model.
Mr. Phelps: Over the course of the next few weeks, would the Minister prepare and table in this House the cost of the planning exercise to date?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am sure that would not be a problem. I could probably provide that information during budget estimate discussions.
To correct the record, in my previous answer I inadvertently said Marsh Lake; it should have been Lake Laberge.
Question re: South Highway School
Mrs. Firth: I have some questions with respect to the South Highway School, the school that was supposed to cost $1.4 million and is now going to cost well over $2 million. Some procedural problems with the tendering of this project were identified in April in the Minister of Government Services department, at which time it was determined that, number one, a decision to go with the invitational proposal call for fabrication and delivery of the school was a departure from normal procedure; number two, that there was a fine line between the distinction of purchase contracts and construction contracts; and number three, that there was a great deal of concern about criticism to be expected from the construction community because of the invitational proposal call; and finally, number four, that they were ignoring the government policy of promoting and using local labour and material.
Why did the Minister go ahead anyway, in light of the procedural problems that his department identified?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do not accept the Members allegations of procedural problems. What I do accept is that Government Services was faced with a unique exercise in representing and servicing a client department.
In short, it amounted to a tendering of a contract for modular school construction. It had to meet some rigid, tight deadlines. A stick-built-construction facility could not be built in that period. We tendered it properly according to our current contract regulations. We awarded the job to the low bidder. It was done in the democratic process of receiving unanimous support from the building committee and client department.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister has been very defensive in the last few days about the tendering procedures, as to whether or not it was done legally or properly. His department identified and flagged that very point.
I would like to ask the Minister why he did not even go to Management Board with this proposal, where he would have benefited from valuable input from the officials and from his colleagues. He said in the House that he did not take it to Management Board. Why did he not even do that to ensure that everything was on the up and up?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I would like to assure the Member that everything was on the up and up. My Department of Government Services received a request from a client department to put in place a facility for September 1. The only way that that could be done was by tendering for the modular construction of a facility. It was done. It was perfectly in line with contract regulations, perfectly in line with the responsibility assigned to Government Services and it was in line with the response it is obligated to provide when there is a request from a client department.
Everything was above board and done properly. The school is in place today.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps the Minister could just answer the question. Why did it not go to Management Board so that his colleagues could have a chance to review it and the officials have some input?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: My department and I make countless decisions in the course of a working day. I do not take all of those decisions to Management Board. We take decisions to Management Board where there is a requirement for a particular decision to receive an endorsement. In this particular case, everything was properly represented. It had a format and procedure to go through, which we followed. There was no need to take it to Management Board. I would ask the Member why she feels it would have to.
Question re: South Highway School
Mrs. Firth: I have another question for the Minister of Government Services with respect to the South Highway School, the school that was supposed to cost $1.4 million and is now coming in at over $2 million.
I want to show the substantiation for why this should have been a construction contract and therefore it should have gone for public tender. The bids were opened for this school. Only valid bids should have been passed on. When the government accepted the TSL bid and was prepared to consider it as a valid bid, it recognized it as a construction tender call and it should have been a public tender; is that not true? I would like the Minister to say if that is not true.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have to tell the Member that that is not true. Since the Member raised the question yesterday, I inquired about the logistics surrounding the bids. I am advised that there was no prior screening of the proposals before they went to the evaluation committee. They were received and they were forwarded to the evaluation committee members. Those committee members ranked the proposals and at the same time the technical review was provided.
Mrs. Firth: That is exactly the point. His department should have rejected the bid outright if it did not conform to the tender requirements, which is what the Minister has been stating.
The second point that confirms that it should have been a construction contract and gone to public tender is this: when the design changes were made...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mrs. Firth: Well, Mr. Speaker, I will start a new question.
Question re: South Highway School
Mrs. Firth: When the design changes were made - and Atco told me there were lots of major design changes: the layout, the skylight, the windows, some shelving and the siding was taken right out of the contract, major design changes - the supplier was no longer providing the design and the government was. That is exactly what the department had cautioned contracting services about. They said that that was the fine line that would make it a construction contract.
Is it not true that if the government decided to provide the design, it became a construction contract? It was only a purchase contract if the supplier supplied the total design. Is that not true? That confirms it should have been a construction contract.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is, unfortunately, confusing facts. The government undertook a commitment to put a facility in place. The only way that facility could be put into place in the required time frame was to tender fof a contract that conformed to the acquisition of goods. In other words, it is a purchase contract. A purchase contract is simply a call for a specified product. The specified products were modular trailers. We have done this, in fact, before. It comes to mind that a couple of years ago we tendered the same way for some trailers at Takhini School.
There is nothing inappropriate to tender on a purchase contract basis for a modular facility construction. That is what was done. Subsequent contracts were publicly tendered that related to the installation of surrounding facilities for the school - the foundation, the grounds work, the approach, the bus turn-around. All of those things were subsequently publicly tendered. There is nothing inappropriate to call for a purchase contract to provide a modular building.
Mrs. Firth: This should have been a construction contract, and the Minister can see from what I have outlined that it should have been, with reinforcement from the department. Construction contracts...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary.
Mrs. Firth: I am just about to do that, Mr. Speaker. Construction contracts over $25,000 have to go to public tender. This one did not. That is where the concern is about the law being broken. Construction contracts have to go to tender by law.
Speaker: Order please. I have asked the Member to please get to the supplementary question.
Mrs. Firth: Is that not true? I would like the Minister to answer if that is true or not.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: You know, Mr. Speaker, the Member is now representing more misinformation on the record. I am sure she is hoping that if she puts enough misinformation on the record somebody might start believing it. The Member is asking me a question about a construction contract and its $25,000 limit. What we are talking about in the South Highway School situation is a purchase contract, and the ceilings for a purchase contract are higher than that. They were extended on an invitational basis. And, as I recall, there was some concern raised about the extent to which that contract should be let, and there was a two-week delay in which the purchase contract was retendered.
You cannot confuse construction contracts with purchase contracts and try to mix the rules that apply to each. That is wrong. Those are legal regulations that we must observe and that we will observe in respect for the integrity of the tendering system.
Question re: South Highway School
Mr. Lang: I want to follow this up with the Minister of Government Services. We have a school that was budgeted at $1.4 million. Four months later, we have now spent over $2 million for the same school, which is more than a $600,000 overrun.
How was that particular school tendered, and were procedures followed? It is very clear in the government regulations that, if a supplier provides a design, and we stay with the design, then it can be a purchase contract. If we alter the design, then it has to be a construction contract.
Why did the Minister break the contracting regulations, which he is defending? Why did he allow those major design changes, which account, in good part, for some of the escalating cost of this particular school? Why did he permit that to happen, when he was advised by his officers that that was the case?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: We now have another Member putting misinformation on the record. Construction contracts cannot be confused with purchase contracts. The estimated $1.4 million was the original estimate in late summer of the previous year, which was prior to the final decision regarding the location of the school.
At the time of the tender, the seriousness of the ground condition was not known. We estimated that 50 cubic metres of rock would have to be removed. In the final analysis, we had over 700 cubic metres of rock to remove. That escalated the price approximately $400,000. That cost ...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Minister please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That cost would have to have been borne, regardless of the method of construction or who the contractor was.
Mr. Lang: This sounds like the Ross River arena all over again, and I am sure Mr. Speaker will remember that debate. We went from $500,000 to almost $3 million and it was always somebody elses fault, except anybody on the front bench. I want to ask the Minister this: why did he and his officers, prior to the contract being actually signed, begin doing design layout changes when he knew that was contrary to the contract regulations? Why did he permit that to happen?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member draws reference to the Ross River arena. The fact is that is a community facility with a multi-use purpose, and the Member forgets that when he was on this side at one time, he budgeted a million dollars for an expansion to the Faro School and ended paying $2.6 million for it. The Member is not without his own track record.
The fact is that we are still talking about a purchase contract and a purchase contract is just that. You design a set of specifications for the product you want to buy. You are allowed to change your product with your supplier under the contract regulations. Only in a construction contract are you restricted when you exceed 10 percent of the scope of the job by a change that you have to retender. Again, the Members are mixing two types of contracting procedures, two types of contracting rules and attempting to blend them and create confusion. I am sorry, there is none - not on this side.
Mr. Lang: The reality of the situation is that the government presented this House with a budget of $1.4 million. We are now over $2 million and it is climbing. We still have not completed the facility; there are things that still have to be done. We are very concerned about what his involvement and his officers involvements were in the tendering procedure. It is very clear that once the layout of the design is altered, it must be a construction project according to the contract regulations. I want to ask the Minister this: why did he go against the advice of his officers and begin changing the design of the facility, if he was going to follow the contract regulations that all Members of this House have agreed to?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is creating confusion by applying construction regulations to a purchase contract procedure. I keep repeating for the Member: the government is entitled to lay out a set of specifications for purchasing goods. It is not obligated to have those specifications rigidly met in a purchase contract. That is a fact. We put out many tenders for the purchase of goods, and we will pick the one that comes lowest in price and closest to the specifications that we have called for. The Member is trying to give the impression that construction contract regulations were applied to a purchase contract where they do not apply.
When we buy goods, we buy according to the supplier who provides the closest to specifications of that product we are asking for and that is exactly what has happened here.
Question re: Capital City Commission
Mr. Nordling: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services with respect to the Capital City Commission - I think I am going to give him a bit of a break here but I am sure we will get back to the other question.
The creation of a Capital City Commission was first announced in the throne speech on January 10, 1989, and I would to know what progress we have made in the last two years toward establishing the commission.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am trying to recall if we have a contract on that project as well.
There has been substantial progress with respect to the Capital City Commission concept. During the course of the past year and one-half, I have had numerous meetings with the city council of Whitehorse and with the mayor. At the same time, my staff has met with staff of the city and through the various communications and meetings, we have essentially drafted a working model for the creation of a Capital City Commission.
We have established some basic guidelines for the creation of that commission. It is in the process now of the preparation of legislation to endorse it. It will require, before all of that takes place, an endorsement by my Cabinet colleagues and by city council, respectively. Those formal steps have not yet taken place, largely because some of the paperwork relating to the legislation and the framework for that commission is being finalized.
Mr. Nordling: The throne speech, on March 8, 1989, said that the first task of the Capital City Commission would be to oversee the development of the Whitehorse waterfront. Is there going to be anything done before this Capital City Commission is created?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I take it that the Member is asking whether anything will be done with respect to the waterfront before the commission is created. The short answer is yes. The explanation to that answer is that, given what has taken place in the failure of our tripartite planning exercise to produce anything substantial and final, the City of Whitehorse and the Government of Yukon have undertaken to re-think their approach to the waterfront lands. As the Member knows, the waterfront lands are principally owned by the private sector and that private sector has withdrawn from the planning exercise, so the City of Whitehorse and the Government of Yukon are now in discussion as to what approach to take with respect to the acquisition or the...
Speaker: Order please. Will the Minister please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The two levels of government are addressing what to do about the waterfront lands.
Mr. Nordling: My concern is with the time that has gone by without substantial progress being made. Could the Minister give us some better time estimate as to when the legislation will be drafted and when we will have a commission in place that can take over the waterfront development plans?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The question is reasonable, in that we do see, in the long term, the commission taking charge of waterfront development. It is our hope that, while the commission is being formed, all of the waterfront activity will not be put on ice. I hope to introduce legislation in this sitting, possibly in the spring, that would confirm the commission. In the meantime, I hope to reach some resolution on an approach to the lands of the waterfront with the city.
Question re: South Highway School
Mrs. Firth: I would like to get back to the South Highway School - which was supposed to cost $1.4 million and is now coming in at over $2 million.
The Ministers department said, and I will quote: The decision to go to an invitational proposal call for design, fabrication and delivery of the modular school is, of course, a departure from normal procedures. The YTG contract regulations stipulate that any construction contract over $25,000 must go to public tender. An invitational proposal call is allowed, however, for purchases. The supply of the modular units is being treated as a purchase. In this instance, the distinction between a construction contract and a supply contract is very fine and rests in the fact that the supplier must supply the design. That is, if a building is prefabricated to an owner-supplied design, it is a construction contract. Members of the project team should be aware of this distinction.
That is exactly what the government went ahead and did. They redesigned the unit so it was an owner-designed unit. They made major design changes, and it should have been a construction contract. They further compounded it and legitimized it by sending the TSL bid to the review committee.
In light of those recommendations and the procedural issues that were raised, why did the Minister go ahead and do it anyway, which brought into question whether the law was being broken here?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member has actually answered her own question. All the bids went to the committee. At that level, it was rejected, only because it did not conform to tender specifications of the purchase contract. It could not be accepted. Acceptance would have meant breaching contract regulations. I am sure the Member is not suggesting to me that I should advance a position of casting into doubt the contracting regulations by breaking them. I am sure the Member is not suggesting that.
TSL did not conform to tender specifications and was rejected. It was clear, under contract regulations, that that had to happen. If we had not done that, we could easily have been taken to court for breaking those regulations. There was no substantial design change. As I explained to her colleague, we had the right and authority to address changes to a product with the supplier who comes closest to it, and that is what we did.
There was no breach; there was no impropriety.
Speaker: Order please. Would the Minister please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In the final analysis, we have a school onsite, being occupied and available for all to see.
Mrs. Firth: The issue remains that this project was mismanaged and fooled around with. All of the groups ranked the TSL bid. It should have been rejected before it even went to the committee for ranking. None of the committee members put the word reject beside it. One of the committees said that the peoples...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mrs. Firth: ...committee chose it as its second choice. Does the Minister not agree that that legitimizes the bid, when the government accepted it and sent it to the committee? Does the Minister not agree that the government should have rejected the bid the moment they opened it?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I cannot agree with the Member. It is misinformation.
All the bids were sent to the committee for review. That is quite ordinary and standard.
I would also point out that the building committee unanimously endorsed the Atco bid for $1.258 million dollars.
The attempt by the Member to suggest that there was any impropriety because TSL was not turfed before it was referred does not make sense. It makes reasonable sense for the committee to review all the bids that came in, even though one did not comply with the specifications and had to be rejected.
Mrs. Firth: The bids were evaluated by the superintendent of schools, facilities manager, building advisory committee, building maintenance manager and project manager. All of them chose Atco as their first choice except the building advisory committee, which chose Travco as its first choice, TSL as its second choice and Atco as its third choice. Will the Minister answer as to whether or not that is true?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: From my recollection of what took place in the evaluation process, Travco was selected by some people as first choice. It was also $1.58 million. It was chosen because of its design features. TSL was also chosen for a number of other reasons. But Atco had the lowest bid, was the most eligible bid and was unanimously endorsed by the committee in its evaluation process. It is misinformation to suggest the building committee chose otherwise.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will now proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Mr. Phillips: I would like to take this opportunity to welcome to the Legislature several young women and men from the Grade 10 class at F.H.Collins and their teacher Mr. Dueling. They are here to observe us at our best behavior this afternoon and I would like all Members to give them a hearty welcome to the Legislature.
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS
Motion No. 22
Clerk: Item No. 1, standing in the name of Ms. Hayden.
Speaker: Is the hon. Member prepared to proceed with Item No. 1?
Ms. Hayden: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member of Whitehorse South Centre:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that racism is the scourge of humanity; and
THAT this House recognizes that multiculturalism is the foundation of Canadian social fabric and that the awareness of issues around racism, when combined with understanding and respect, will accomplish much to protect individual rights and freedoms of all Canadians.
Ms. Hayden: We all think we know what racism is, and we may indeed know the hurt, the disillusionment and the horror that comes with blatant racism. But I wonder; are we aware of the subtle racism that goes on all the time? Some of us here have experienced racism and most of us have perpetrated racism, whether we like to admit it, even to ourselves. Some of us have experienced other kinds of discrimination such as sexism or ageism, for example. Not only old people experience ageism, so do the very young.
The people of the world have somehow never been able to get past these isms to see each other for what we really are. Dye us all the same colour and put us in the same clothes and we would have little left to fight about. Yet we have fought wars, put up barriers to employment and otherwise interfered with the day to day living of each other since the beginning of time - mostly, on the basis of race.
I think the shock for many middle-of-the-road Canadians has been the realization that racism is alive and well right here in our own multicultural country, certainly here in the north, in the Yukon that we all love.
How many times have you heard someone say: I am not racist but... They usually go to say something like this: If people want to live in our country, they should expect to live like we do, not impose their culture on us. They may be referring to turbans, religious practices, religious symbols or language. The inference is that everyone should try to become white, middle-class, English-speaking Canadians - and yet we brag about being a multicultural country.
We are outwardly proud of our cultural mosaic, as long as it is somewhere else in the country and not in our neighbourhood, our church or our school - or our Legislature, for that matter.
The summer siege at Oka told all Canadians, from sea to shining sea, that the hatred that is racism runs deep. Guns or no guns, what will stay with me for the rest of my life is the television coverage of people - people like you and me - throwing rocks with the energy and fury that only hate and fear can spark, at their neighbours, also people like you and me. That incident has left an ugly scar on our Canadian soul.
Hate is fear. It is fear of the unknown, the unfamiliar. It is fear of change. It is fear of something other than what is us and yet, just look around us. The composition of us, even in this Chamber, is as varied as the mosaic of this country itself. We are middle class; we are ordinary working people; we are white; we are Indian; we are women; we are men; we are born in Canada; we are immigrants; we are single; we are divorced; we are married; we are young - well at least youngish, except for our gallery - and we are older. Well, I speak for myself. We have experienced racism, sexism and ageism.
I often wonder what will happen to one of the rules of this Chamber, which comes from a bygone era and relates to people not sitting in the Legislature with their heads covered. It goes back to when men keeping their hats on was a sign of disrespect. I wonder, if someone who wears a turban is elected to this Legislature, will there by a great fuss about parliamentary tradition, or will we gracefully acknowledge that old traditions can sometimes lead to built-in discrimination?
I am not going to pretend that I have the answer, that I can say do this and discrimination will fade away. We all know that that just is not so. I wish I could do that. I guess that I also wish that our world would grow from self-interest to enlightened self-worth and the acceptance of others that goes with feeling good about oneself, that we would indeed grow up.
In William Blakes Songs of Innocence and Experience, we are presented with an eloquent picture of the innocence of childhood, and the changes to this innocence brought about by the experience of growing into adulthood. This is a theme that has been played and replayed in literature, drama and music for generations and no doubt will continue to be. We - every one of us in this territory, this country, this world - are the major players today.
So, if little has changed, why bother? Why bother getting into this subject again today? Well, for one thing, if even a little can be changed, if just a little more justice can be created, then it is worth the time and the effort to do that little.
It has not been so long since Indian people in this territory could not vote. For that matter, it has not been that long since women could not vote. Indian people could seldom find jobs, and they had assimilation tactics used on them, like the suppression of language, religion and cultural rights, for example. Apparently, the vision of a cultural mosaic did not include Indian people, nor did it include many of the other people who happened to be our neighbours. Some 15 years ago, a black man here in Whitehorse was called Snowball. Some of you may remember him. People thought it was hilarious. Nicknames are often derogatory and often racist. The man had a name, and he had the right to be called by it. It is something like referring to your spouse as the wife, or the old man. These are dehumanizing tactics that allow us to separate people from who they really are.
None of this is new. People looking into recent Yukon history and the construction of the Alaska Highway are finding out about the blatant racism that prevailed in Canada in the 1940s. That is only 45 years ago, certainly during my lifetime.
The Yukon Anniversaries Commission published a supplement in the Yukon News on October 6. They talked about the more than 3,000 black American soldiers who helped build the highway in 1942. These soldiers are described as the forgotten ones: forgotten ...because of the racist attitudes of both Canadian and American governments of the day.
The quotations in that article, which I want to enter into the record today, and quotations from correspondence of the day, are frightening. Frankly, they make me feel physically sick. The important question is: have we changed all that much? Certainly some, I hope.
I am going to read a small section from that insert. It is a Yukon News story put in by the Yukon Anniversaries Commission, and it does highlight the history of black soldiers, who have largely been ignored in the history of the building of the Alaska Highway. This is a quote from that article.
It was an excerpt from a letter written in 1942 by U.S. Army General Simon Buckner, who was in charge of army operations in Alaska. Buckner was responding to a letter from Brigadier-General C.L. Sturdevant in Washington D.C. Sturdevant had written Buckner to inform him that the Pentagon had decided to use black troops on the highway project. Buckners response to Sturdevant states, in part, and I quote, I appreciate your consideration of my views concerning Negro troops in Alaska. The thing which I have opposed principally has been their establishment as point troops for the unloading of transports at our docks.
The very high wages offered to unskilled labour here would attract a large number of them, and cause them to remain and settle after the war, with the natural result that they could inter-breed with the Indians and Eskimos and produce an astonishingly objectionable race of mongrels which would be a problem here.
We have enough racial problems here and elsewhere already. I have no objections whatever to your employing them on the roads - if they are kept far enough away from the settlements and kept busy and then sent home as soon as possible.
I find that difficult even to read but I think it is something we need to be aware of.
One of the things that one cannot help but notice are the dehumanizing references to them. And, of course, the words, mongrels,"interbreeding" - my god.
We Canadians like to spread our racism around. Just look at the terminology used over the years about people who come from somewhere else. I am not going to use the terms. You all know them. All of them are derogatory.
Our world is small. It is a global village. Our world is a community and we may no longer see people who are something other than what we are as exotic, mysterious and from some far off land. The people of the world are our neighbours in both a figurative and literal sense.
Even when we believe that age, sex and race are not an issue, subtle forms of discrimination take hold. We live out the myths of discrimination, saying things like, Sure, we would hire a woman if we could find one who is qualified, or, I would really like to hire an aboriginal person, but I do not know even one who has the training and experience to do the job. Besides, they will never show up for work. How about, Gee, it would be great to work with someone older who has lots of experience. But, you know, when people are older, they tend to be forgetful and really do not have the energy to do the job. Or, how about this one, Sure, I would be glad to hire a young person right out of school - good energy there - but they really are unreliable. They do not know what it is to get to work on time and really stick it out. After all, they have no experience.
And the myths go on, myths that are no excuses, but we use them as excuses. We use them as excuses so we do not have to look at our own behaviour. Then we get smart comments like If only I were a disabled Indian woman, I would have it made. I suggest that anyone who thinks that should ask a resident of our community, Judy Johnny, if she has it made. Ask her what it is really like being subjected to three compounding types of discrimination.
We can do a lot to deal with the excuses in the business world and in government. We can do a lot to deal with overt discrimination. We can legislate employment equity; we can legislate human rights; we can develop programs to help balance the inequities but we cannot do anything about stupidity and that is the bottom line. Discrimination is stupid. It is costly and it tears at the core of our country and our territory. Surely we can recognize that there is strength in diversity.
When we talk about discrimination at times like this we encourage other people to talk about it, to recognize it for what it is - fear of someone who is different. In time, we reach one, two, three and then more and more people. Each one of us can do something to rid the world of this scourge. The great freedom fighters of the world reached out to educate with determination and strength and it cost them their lives. Some of them were well known: Gandhi, Martin Luther King, for example. Others worked for social justice and equality, people like Mother Theresa. Most are never known beyond their own communities.
I believe that we must all work to educate ourselves and the people around us. We must show by our lives and by our actions that we can live side-by-side with respect and dignity, and that we are not threatened by people who are different. There is beauty in a mosaic. People bring different strengths, customs and talents, and if we are open, we learn to appreciate those strengths, customs and talents. This is one of the greatest arguments for living in other parts of our country and of our world. Our vision is broadened.
If we root ourselves, even here in the Yukon, and fail to reach out to others, even our neighbours here at home, we will remain people of limited vision. We will continue to distrust what is not familiar.
We all stand to win in a community of understanding and respect. We all stand to lose if ignorance and stupidity prevail. Surely the rights, responsibilities and freedoms of all Canadians are worth our time and effort and our attempts at understanding.
I look forward to your support of this motion on this North America day of action against racism.
Hon. Ms. Joe: With the official recognition of the North America day of action against racism, it makes me very sad that we have to recognize such a day. In this day and age, it is disturbing that we have to concern ourselves with such an unpleasant subject; nevertheless, racism is a problem that is very prevalent right here in the Yukon. In Canada, it is also a very serious issue as well. It is generally perceived by the average person that Canada, compared to other countries, does not have a serious racism problem; however, this summer during the Oka crisis, the horror of watching people stoning the Indians in Oka without any intervention by the police attending, and to watch this pure hatred was a frightening experience for me.
It was not only a frightening experience for me; it was a frightening experience for many other people. It caused many deep feelings among Canadians. It caused many Canadians to stop and think about what is really happening in our country.
I have already mentioned in this House, in my own home down in British Columbia where, during the Oka crisis, a group of non-aboriginal people walked into the graveyard one night, ruined the graveyard, broke the stones, some dating back prior to the turn of the century, with the original Indian names on them, and they left a sign that said, Die Indian Scum.
That was not the only incident across Canada. There were many. There were some right here in the Yukon. I sat beside a peace fire waiting for the Oka crisis to end with many other concerned people. One of the good things that happened during that process was the many people who came and offered their support. There were some young school children. A grade eight class from Jeckell School came over one day with offerings of wood and support. A number of other people came and sat beside the fire and took their turn.
As a result of the incident in Oka this year, there was a group of people who struck a committee that was called Justice for First Nations. They wrote a letter and said, We are ashamed that we have kept quiet this long, as Canada is headed for an obvious conflict between the federal government and our First Nations. They go on to talk about existing treaties and promises that were made, and they also said that they do not condone, although they understand, any desperate show of arms by Indian warriors. It is to eliminate the cause of more conflicts to help avoid Oka in every major highway, and they ask for support from other Canadians.
That was signed by committee members, including Margaret Atwood, Maude Barlow, Pierre Berton, June Colwood, Shirley Carr, Martin Cowen, Muriel Duckworth, Ray Gibson, Mrs. Walter Gordon, Kay McPherson, Kenneth McNaught, Farley Mowat, and the list goes on and on.
There are many people in this country who saw something that they did not believe was possible in Canada. We suffer in the Yukon from many types of racism, not only toward the aboriginal people, but toward all kinds of people here. I know of an incident in Porter Creek where an East Indian family, probably third, fourth or even fifth generation Canadian, built a home, proud of their home and proud of being Canadian, and woke up one morning with a racist remark painted on their driveway.
I wonder why people are so afraid of ethnic groups right here in the Yukon and other parts of Canada. Since 1971, Canada has had a formal policy on multiculturalism allowing every ethnic group the right to preserve and develop its own culture and values within the Canadian context. This policy has now become entrenched in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and right here in the Yukon we have legislation under the Human Rights Act that prohibits racial discrimination.
Yet even with all of these laws and policies, we continue to witness racism. Aboriginal people, minority Canadians and recent immigrants are often accused of taking away jobs and at the same time using up social services. These are myths. Often we hear statements about immigrants in Canada. People do not want immigrants or say that we should not allow immigrants into this land. Yet, immigration in North America goes back hundreds of years. I think some of my ancestors will remember discovering a fellow named Christopher Columbus on their shores. The Economic Council of Canada has shown that immigrants create jobs, rather than take jobs. They often take on jobs that no other Canadian would have and they often start their own businesses. There is no direct connection between unemployment figures and the number of immigrants allowed into Canada.
Blaming these groups is what causes racism. Instead we should be blaming employer practices and government policies. Canada is changing. It is becoming more multi-racial, multicultural, multi-lingual and multi-religious.
The Yukon, as well, is changing. It is exciting to see the new growth in population that has resulted in new businesses, new economic growth and new ideas - and all of this for the benefit of all Yukoners. Cultural diversity only becomes a problem if the minority culture, language or religion, is not recognized or respected. A changing society represents a challenge and many opportunities for all to learn to appreciate and respect one another. The development of land claims has provided for a new era of appreciation and respect of the aboriginal people of the Yukon. With the new awareness of the culture, language and spiritual aspects of the aboriginal people right here in our own back yard, we have seen the aboriginal people take on a new sense of pride and hope for a brighter future.
But there have been some who do not appreciate this new changing society of ours. There are those who actively work to try to sabotage any land claims settlement in the Yukon. I tabled an ad in the House today. I tabled it because I did not want something like this to ever happen again. It was an ad that was in the Whitehorse Star on Wednesday, June 2, 1982. I was told that this ad had to be softened in order for it to be published. I cannot even imagine what it was like before the publication. That was my first experience in dealing with a democratic process and trying to get elected to this Legislature. I picked up the paper one night and I looked through the paper and I read the ad. I have to tell you I could not go out and campaign that night, I was so angry, because I thought this kind of thing had disappeared: the use of a whole group of people, a whole race of people - in order for them to try to get elected.
There are 12 names on here; some of them I know and some of them I do not. But I sure do know D.G. Phillips. I know him very well. I did not know him then but I know him now. There is a persons name here I cannot believe. When I was a justice of the peace, I did the wedding of his daughter. I could not believe that his name was on this paper. I want people to remember this. They say that when you face a lot of bad experiences in your lifetime, that you should forget the past and try to live in the future; but in order to live in the future, in order to live a life and to help with the human process, you have to remember the past. This is only one small indication of the past that many cultural groups have to live in.
I have also mentioned in the House during this sitting that when land claims were first contemplated in the Yukon, I do not think that there were a lot of Yukoners who would have objected to it, except for the fact that there was a move to oppose any land claims settlement in the Yukon.
In 1975, in the Toronto Star, it was reported that Dan Lang founded the Northern Land Research Society to oppose handing land back to the Indians. It was also stated in that article that Mr. Lang said, I would hate to split the Yukon but I am sure we could get 8,000 people behind us if we worked at it. If we worked at it, he said, if we really worked at it, we would get 8,000 people behind us to oppose land claims in the Yukon.
Aboriginal people in the Yukon and all over the country do not forget these kinds of things that are done to oppose land claims or to oppose the Indian people. But to deliberately put an ad in the paper, to name names - do not vote for these people, Mr. Speaker, because they like Indians and gee, it will be really bad, and we feel harm will happen to the Yukon if the NDP win this election. Then they go on to talk about what Tony Penikett said - and this is really bad, Mr. Speaker - Tony Penikett says that his party has a fundamentally more positive attitude ... Is it really bad to have a positive attitude toward the negotiations? Then they go on to say that he also said that YTG is sitting on the other side of the table from CYI: It is a symbolic thing but we take a symbolic leap across the table. Well, is that not a horrible thing to have to do? But they were saying that was bad, do not do it and do not vote for the people who do it.
I think that Yukoners are opposed to that kind of thing. It was very evident when the results of the election became final and we ended up with, I think, three more people in this House than they had prior to that. At that time I think that there were two aboriginal people in the House, and then five, and now four. The majority of Yukoners do not feel this way; I know they do not.
I would like to talk about the Indian Act. I have spoken about it before, but I would like to mention some of the discriminations that were in it. The first thing was that Indian women lost their status by marrying a non-Indian or another Indian person who did not have status. Men did not lose their status. Not only that, but if an Indian man chose to divorce his non-Indian wife, she had the option to keep the status she obtained through the marriage or give it up. Indian women lost their status and there was nothing they could do about it.
At one time Indian women, according to the Indian Act, were not allowed to run for chief or council. That was changed in the 1950s. Indian people, as was mentioned by my colleague from Whitehorse South Centre, were not allowed to vote. Men and women could fight in wars, and did. They were called the forgotten people with no recognition as they were not considered real people. They could fight in wars, but they could not vote when they came home.
Here in the Yukon, aboriginal people were not allowed to own a business. Many people had to give up their status in order to own a business. They were not allowed to attend public schools.
Many years ago, when I worked for the Yukon Association of Non-Status Indians, some research on the lack of progress in education was going on in the Yukon. They came across a petition signed by a number of influential Whitehorse people. What they were opposing was the fact that there were Indian children starting to attend public schools. The petition was signed by people like Jack Hulland. He did not want Indian kids in that school because they spread disease, had lice, were dirty and things like that. That petition is in the archives.
Aboriginal people were unable to collect a northern allowance. I am not exactly sure why. That was not in the Indian Act. It was something they made up through the process. I know people who had to give up their Indian status in order to collect northern allowance.
We all know about the residential school system. There has been much publicity with regard to it. Aboriginal people were forced to attend residential schools because they could not attend public schools. I think we are just starting to find out the problems that occurred because of that. It has been said before but more people are beginning to come out and talk about the horrible things that happened to them and the reasons why they were sent there. It is not a pretty picture. It is a horrible picture.
The Canadian Human Rights Commission talks about the Indian Act as a relic of our paternalistic past. That is exactly what it is. A lot of things have changed. Attitudes have not.
I am proud to be a part of this government that, through a great deal of opposition, passed the Human Rights Act. I spoke of it before. Seeing that pass was one of the highlights of sitting in this House. The night that it passed in this House, there was great joy in the gallery. There were people all over the Yukon who were pleased to see that we were looking forward and thinking differently. We know there was great opposition to it. I believe there was a petition in this House, which was tabled, with many names on it. People were objecting to certain parts of the act, and I am sure there were people who objected to many other parts of it. I believe there were two items of protection included in that proposed act that were objected to at that time. One was sexual orientation, and the other one had to do with criminal records.
This government, as a whole, supported the whole act. The day it was passed, I had great respect for the former Minister of Justice, Roger Kimmerly, because I believe that was probably the highlight of his life.
The Human Rights Commission in the Yukon was set up under this government. They have had to deal with a lot of racism against the first executive director, who was threatened through phone calls. He had his tires slashed, and many other things happened to him. There was a great deal of opposition to the kind of things he did here in the House. He was called in here to do a job.
The Human Rights Commission in the Yukon has had to print ads. One of them said, I am not a racist but... and then it goes on to say things like some of my best friends are Indians, or some of my best friends are gay, or whatever. It is so bad, and it should not be, but we have to put out ads to tell people what a racist really is. They talk about racism not being a joke, and they talk about jokes that are told. Some of us aboriginal people have a great deal of fun telling Indian jokes to each other but, if somebody else told them, we would be very angry, and a lot of us are guilty of racist jokes ourselves.
Someday, we may never have to do things like this again; things will have changed a great deal. I do not know when that is going to be.
Tonight, the New Democratic Youth of Canada are holding an equality day panel discussion at Hellaby Hall, and that is a good move by a number of people. They are concerned about what is happening across Canada, and they mention Donald Marshall, a Micmac Indian, and we have talked about him before in the House. I will say it again. This was a Micmac Indian who spent 11 years in jail for a crime he did not commit. The inquiry into the Donald Marshall case determined that he was convicted because he was an Indian, and they worked toward that conviction with lies and many other things. They talked about an instance of a Jewish cemetery being desecrated. These kinds of things are probably happening every day in Canada.
They talk about the Betty Osborne case in La Pas, Manitoba. The whole community knew who killed her, but no one would come out and say it. They talk about a racist pin that was proudly distributed in Alberta. They talk about the stoning of Mohawk women and children as they were leaving Oka. They list a number of other things. Every time that someone does something like this, it is in order to try and deal with racism as it is and try to work toward eliminating it. Sometimes that happens and sometimes it does not.
There was a hearing here in 1984. It was on visible minorities. A group of people came here to sit on this panel, including Members of Parliament. I guess they did not think there was much of a problem here because there were only two people who showed up, myself and someone from CYI to talk to them about the kind of racism problems we have here and how we would like to see things changed.
I got the report back and looked at it. The panel and all the people working for it had all kinds of racial groups represented on it, but not one aboriginal person. I am not quite sure why; I have never been able to figure that one out.
I would hope that all Canadians can be proud of their culture. I am sure they are proud of their language and their religious beliefs. In turn, each and every one of us has the responsibility to ensure that we respect one another. No one is better than anyone else. We may be different, but with these differences should come respect for one another. We can learn and experience new things just by being tolerant and taking advantage of the opportunities that are available to all of us, by meeting and knowing the many cultures that make up this country.
I speak here today with a lot of anger. I do not know if it will ever go away in my lifetime. I speak because I have experienced it. We like to believe that all people are good. But, during the time I was growing up, my grandmother always used to say, Ignore them; they are very ignorant. They are. You can ignore it but you cannot forget it, because, every time, something comes back to remind you. The thing that came back to remind me of all the things that happened over those years was Oka. I had to deal with it all over again. I had to deal with having spent eight years in a residential school because of all the things that are starting to come out. Some day I will get rid of my anger. I hope it is soon because I love this place. I love living here. I love the people in it. I hope we will not have to stand here again and talk about anti-racism.
Mr. Phillips: Before I get into my speech today, I just want to make a few comments about what the Member from Whitehorse North Centre said. I listened closely to what the Member said and I share some of the concerns of the Member, but I do not agree with everything she said. I think the Member has had blinders on on this particular issue for a long time and reads into it what she wants to read into it. I think that is unfortunate.
When I read this motion, the way it is presented in this House, I feel that it is a basic statement of motherhood, and I do not know how one could not support the motion. History tells us that, other than aboriginal peoples, all of us immigrated to Canada from other countries, bringing with us our culture and our traditions. Multiculturalism may be the foundation of Canadian society, but I am becoming more concerned that, in our attempt to accommodate all people of all races and cultures, we are diminishing our own Canadian culture.
It is important for people from other cultures to maintain their traditions. What is Canadian culture? To me, it is a mixture of all people coming together from countries all over the world and working together in a country that affords us more opportunities than any other country in the world. We are rich in resources, we are rich in area and we are rich in cultural background. Lately, I have become more concerned about the fact that that priority seems to be switching to the importance of every other culture except for the Canadian culture. One of the most basic institutions in Canada - and the Member from Whitehorse South Centre alluded to this - is something well-known throughout the world as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in their scarlet uniforms. That is Canadian. That is Canadian cultural history. Now it seems we have allowed a certain segment of our population to wear their religious headgear, rather than the Canadian traditional one. As well, we are now allowing people of native ancestry to wear braids, rather than the traditional dress code.
I am afraid that even if one says that they have trouble with these changes, they are quickly painted as racist and that troubles me. I feel that the people who want the RCMP dress code to stay the same are Canadian traditionalists and not racial bigots. I would not be surprised if the next thing we see is someone who becomes a member of the RCMP demanding to wear their traditional uniform or clothing they have from another country instead of the scarlets, and I would not be surprised in Canada if we let them. Human rights commissions and governments are not respecting Canadian culture.
What are we doing to our Canadian tradition and culture and do we have one? My great, great grandparents are from Scotland and Wales. I am proud of that, but I would not insist that groups such as the RCMP change their dress code so that I could wear a kilt if I joined the RCMP. I am proud to be Canadian and to help build a strong Canadian culture, at the same time being tolerant of other cultures and enjoying and learning from the differences. Some groups in this country are very proud of their heritage and spend a great deal of their time, energy and their own resources in promoting it to their children and others and I have no problem with this.
I applaud the groups that do this without asking government for hundreds of thousands of dollars to do so. We should all be very proud of our heritage and be prepared, as many are, to promote its culture, its value and its traditions.
I suppose that some Members opposite will jump to their feet and claim that I am being intolerant. But I have heard the arguments I have made today here many times from my constituents. They are asking me: what about Canadian culture? There is a strong feeling there that in our well-intended attempts to protect individual rights and freedoms for some Canadians, we are leaving out many who believe there really is a Canadian culture.
Ms. Kassi: I thank the Member for bringing forth this motion, because we have to discuss these facts and face reality in order for our communities to heal. Not too long ago, this past summer, I was honoured to participate as a speaker at the Canadian Association of Statutory Human Rights Agencies annual conference held here in Whitehorse, at which time several of us made a lot of recommendations that would be appropriate to review on this North American day of action against racism. The term racism means different things to different people. Usually it means someone of a different colour, of different religious beliefs or different sexual orientation. Here in the Yukon, the most prevalent form is attitudes against Indians.
Four years ago, I was appointed as chairperson of the legislative committee to discuss the green paper on human rights for the Yukon. Being very new and naive to the white political arena, it was a shock for me to experience the ugliness of the opposition to this legislation. There are a number of other people of different races, religions and beliefs that have experienced the struggle for human rights legislation for the Yukon. I know that there is a perception by many people that human rights are for everyone. We all just include exceptions in our list of who qualifies as everyone.
It was not so long ago that an aboriginal person had few rights and the ones they did have were second to the rights of all other people. It was not so long ago that aboriginal people could not vote in this country; a little more than 30 years ago the vote was given to aboriginal people. How long ago was it that aboriginal people could not attend the school of their choice but were forced to attend residential schools? I do not want to go into the details of that either, of the devastation and the long-lasting impact of this process, which many of you now have some knowledge of. I had recommended an investigation of the impact of residential school syndrome that is still causing serious problems among our nation and quite recently, the request came from many aboriginal leaders across the country. The federal government has said no to such investigations taking place.
Further, how difficult it was for aboriginal people to find employment. Not so long ago, the only place in Whitehorse that would hire aboriginal people was the laundromat. That was owned by a Chinese person.
Housing was carefully protected against the intrusion of aboriginal people in the neighbourhood. Today, when an indigenous person is hired for a job, it is automatically assumed that they must be extensively trained. They always have to be trained first. We are appalled to hear of this blatant racism, but what about today? Has anything really changed? The answer is, quite simply, no. The only thing that has changed is that the discrimination and racism is more subtle. It is what aboriginal people call speaking out of both sides of your face, or with forked tongue.
While we are trying to reach milestones, like self-government, there are still some asking the question, why are we giving lands to the Indians? Today, I feel most would like to see a settlement. So much progress has been made. You can see the complexity of the whole situation, which differs greatly in the view of the aboriginal and the understanding of the non-aboriginal person.
The First Nations of our country will be happy to celebrate equality day when they are considered equals. Our role, as Members of the government, is to understand, respect and protect the rights of the indigenous and other minority peoples of Canada. If we put an end to the myth surrounding racism, we shall put an end to racism itself.
Here we are in the 1990s. We are in a similar position to those in South Africa and have received very little support from the highest level of the Canadian government in our struggle. In this age of exploring the outer reaches of the universe, computerizing every aspect of our knowledge and close to completely destroying our planet, the majority of aboriginal nations of this country live in utter poverty, enjoy the poorest housing, have the least education of any ethnic group in Canada, and continue to fill our jail cells.
It took Donald Marshall 11 years to get one person to listen to his claim of innocence. Something is very wrong. The fact is that another Third World racial country exists within the borders of Canada and is always consciously overlooked. While this government has been able to establish the present human rights legislation, which includes racial discrimination, we still have some of the old attitudes lingering around here, and there is much work for the Human Rights Commission in the Yukon.
Let me assure you that I, as a Member of this government, will continue to do all that I can to ensure that aboriginal minorities, all races and all creeds, contribute to their full potential as equal citizens of the Yukon and Canada.
Human rights have been around for quite a number of years and yet we all know that things have not really changed. Canada has been quick to criticize other countries for their racism, human rights violations and their treatment of minorities, of indigenous people. Yet the suffering and the inequalities of the aboriginal people of this country continue to be ignored and hidden in the furthest corner possible. Our people are not just being ignored but they are dying. The suicide rate is highest among our people. Malnutrition and poor health is highest among our people. These are allegations that you have heard on not just infrequent occasions; they are an epidemic among our people in this country.
We have a responsibility to educate the average Canadian, to bring about an awareness and an understanding of the differences and the beauty that exist in the variety of cultures and the traditions, in the braids that we so proudly wear in the police forces or in our culture. We want to continue to wear those braids. Canada should accept that culture. It is our belief. Canada should also publicly support the aspirations of the First Nations in their quest for control not just of their lands and resources but of their health, education, justice, traditions and all aspects of their daily lives that are presently under the control of bureaucrats and politicians in Ottawa.
At the Canadian Association of Statutory Human Rights Agencies conference this past summer, Mary Battaja put it very eloquently when she said, We eat the same, we cry the same, we die the same, we are human beings with differences that must be respected.
So what can we do? It is quite simple. We can become aware of our own attitudes that can be racist in subtle ways. We can try to understand that there are differences in culture and that these differences do not represent a threat. We can respect the fact that not every human being is going be, nor should be, the same. Awareness, understanding and respect: together these things will protect us all. They will protect our right, they will protect our differences, our cultures and our human dignity. I urge everyone to find the courage that allows them today on this equality day to examine their own attitudes and to make the changes that will enable everyone to contribute to contribute to the fullest extent possible.
Mrs. Firth: I rise today to respond to this motion in a different theme than I have heard presented today, particularly from the Members opposite.
I found it interesting that all three of the previous Members who spoke talked about how difficult it is to talk about this particular issue. The issue we are really talking about is racism and how we have to deal with that as legislators.
I am not quite sure what kind of confidence the general public has in the words we as politicians might express here this afternoon. If I were to guess, I would say that a lot of the public is skeptical about what we are talking about, whether we really know what we are talking about and how much information we have to support the comments we make.
I do not want to sound like I am an authority on something I have no knowledge about, but I do want to make some observations about some of the comments I have heard here this afternoon.
I listened very closely to what the Minister of Justice had to say. She did not say anything new when compared to her points or opinions that she has brought forward in this House before. Perhaps I was listening more closely today, but I made note of a couple of things she said. I would like to respond to them.
The Minister talked about eliminating racism. She made a comment that many people would like to eliminate it. That is not a realistic goal. I am sure the Minister knows that but I am sure she did not mean it in the context of it being an achievable goal as there are some people who are always going to be like that. There is not much you can do about it except try to be more tolerant and more understanding of those people yourself.
The other comment she made that was sort of the opposite of eliminating racism is the comment about having to like everyone. I believe that is the way she put it. She feels we have to like everybody or at least try to like everybody. That is unrealistic. We, as people, do not like everybody and we should not expect everybody to like us. When I am talking about liking people, it is not in a racial context. I am talking only about our reactions as individuals to other people. We do not always like them.
If there is some expression made that way, it does not necessarily mean that the person who does not like someone else has racist attitudes toward them or that they do not like them because of the colour of their skin or contour of their eyes or some other physical or racial difference.
I feel for the Minister of Justice because, from what she has said today, and what I have heard her say in the House three or four times since the last election, she talks about the anger she feels because of her past experience and what she has had to live through. I feel for her, because I do not see that she is able to deal with that anger. Today, she said she was trying to, but could not, and she still raises all those awful things that happened in the past and made her angry, things that happened 15, 20 or more years ago.
Then, in the next breath, she says we have to get rid of that anger and be more tolerant and spend more time working on the anger. If she is going to do that, the Minister has to start talking more positively about the whole problem, and having a more positive outlook about it. If she does not, that anger will be passed on to her children and grandchildren, and maybe some of it has already.
I find that the more I deal with adults, the more I enjoy being with children. Children are uncomplicated people. They are loving, kind individuals. They have not yet developed all kinds of biases. They just accept people because they are nice to them and respond to them, depending on how they are treated. Maybe that is a lesson that we, as adults, should learn. Maybe we should be treating people in a more kind, tolerant and respectful way. In turn, we could also expect to be treated that way.
I am not saying that is done based on race or any colour, or sex. It is just based on people as individuals. I make an appeal to the Minister of Justice to try to be more understanding. She raised many examples of very nasty, unkind things that were done, and asked how could people do things like paint the signs on the streets and desecrate the graveyard. If we try to look at it in a more positive way and understand why those people are doing that, I feel that people do those things because they, also, are afraid.
They feel scared and they feel threatened. I think we have to be tolerant and understanding of that as well. I do not think there are lots of intentionally nasty, unkind, evil people in the world. I have already said you are not going to be able to help those kinds of people anyway. So let us deal with a goal or an objective that is achievable and let us look for something kind so we can all, because of this debate that the Members opposite find difficult to talk about and wish they did not have to talk about, as a result of that debate come out of here with a better understanding of each other as people, and maybe with some better credibility with the public that we understand the issues and we know what we are talking about.
One particular thing that the Minister has done that I think will help her see why some people may have a negative approach toward her or a negative attitude toward her is that she stood up in the House here one day and was very angry at the Member for Porter Creek East because she felt that he was in some way trying to tell her what she should think and how she should think. Well, it is fine for the Minister to stand up and express anger at someone else trying to form her opinions and tell her how to think. On the other hand, she stands up in the House and she tells us how proud she was when the human rights legislation was sponsored by this government and how the human rights legislation was passed, and how she thought it was the best legislation and objected to some peoples attitudes about sexual orientation and some of the other attitudes that were expressed about racism or whatever she made reference to.
It was the same thing. The Minister is telling other people how to think. Not only telling them, she is trying to legislate it. The Member for Whitehorse South Centre already indicated that you cannot by law make people do things that you want them to do and you certainly cannot make them think the way you want them to think. So I am saying to the Minister: please be a little more open and a little more positive when making her judgments about other people. She should think about how she responded as an individual when the Member for Porter Creek East tried to, as she interpreted it, tell her how to think.
I had a lot of representation made to me on behalf of the religious community, on behalf of mothers, constituents of mine, with specific objections to some of the clauses in the human rights legislation.
I can make representation on behalf of those people, and I have to take into account and weigh my own personal feelings, as well. None of us in this Legislature likes to be told what we are supposed to be thinking, or that what we are thinking is wrong. If unkindness is attached to that, then none of us is going to be able to relate to each other as people, nor to demonstrate those good qualities of tolerance, respect, the acceptance of other points of views and differences, and so on.
It is fine to hear all the negative things. It is fine to hear all the wrongs that went on in the past. We have heard them from the Member for Whitehorse South Centre. We have heard them from the Member for Old Crow. I would like to concentrate on what we are going to do about this problem. Obviously, it is going to be here and continue to be.
What constructive recommendations do we, as legislators, have to offer?
There have been some positive things done. I have talked to the new executive director of the Human Rights Commission at length about positive initiatives, things that I think they can be doing. He has asked my opinion, and I have given it. There is a tremendous potential we have in the education of our children: to teach them to grow up to be better, kinder and more tolerant people, to be less influenced by some adult points of views, and to think for themselves.
Those are not the kinds of things you can make people do. Those are the kinds of things that have to be gently taught. An awareness of issues is important. I agree with the Minister of Justice and the Member for Old Crow that people have to be made aware of these things, but we do not have to keep stirring up all the old nightmares and memories. It is fine for the Minister to remember so she does not forget, but it is time to be positive, optimistic and constructive, and to look toward the future and hope that our children, and our childrens children, belong to a more tolerant society.
They are not going to become that way if we keep harping and going on and on about what happened in the past. That is for us to remember and learn from, and it is time to go on to the future and positive things. As some of the positive comments the Member for Whitehorse Riverdale North said, look at and capitalize on our assets, the richness of our country and our people and resources, and capitalize on that.
I think we, as legislators, can do one thing that we should be able to do well when it comes to this particular issue. That is: set a good example. I think it is incumbent on us, it is our responsibility; to set a good example in a positive and constructive way, to show that we are being tolerant, that we are trying to be understanding of our colleagues, of people with different racial experiences than we have and to try to understand them, and that we respect their points of view, ideas and opinions.
I respect the Minister of Justices opinion and her life and what she has gone through and I am trying very hard to understand that and to help her deal with it if I can. We have to have an example set by the Member for Old Crow, by the Minister of Justice, by the Member for Whitehorse South Centre who spoke and all the other Members who are going to speak. They have to set a good example and show that they are prepared to be tolerant and to respect other people, even though some of the things that have happened to them in the past have not been positive experiences. That is how we are all going to get along better in society.
I am not levelling any criticisms at people. I want to be kind. I hope I have said kind and positive and constructive things. I have not heard a lot of kind comments today with the exchange that has taken place in the Legislature. I heard the Member for Old Crow talk about how Indian peoples lives were being controlled by other forces, by bureaucracies, by governments and I think it is very important that we all, as individuals, get control of our own lives first. We have to do that in order to set a good example and pass on all the qualities that everyone will talk about this afternoon, those qualities that are admired, of tolerance and respect and setting a good example.
I think the dialogue we have this afternoon, the increased awareness, will have a more positive effect and will have a positive result on all Members of the Legislative Assembly, and, I hope, a positive effect on the public. I would encourage Members to exchange their points of view and to have this kind of dialogue.
I think we will all be better off for it.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I, too, would like to share some thoughts on the subject of the motion. I would like to say a few things on racism, multiculturalism and individual rights and freedoms. But I have to say I find it a bit sad that we have to debate such a motion, not because of the subject of the debate, but why we must talk about it. We have to talk about it because racism does exist around us. There are some very convoluted ideas about multiculturalism and what it means. I think there is some disrespect for individual rights and freedoms. It is sad that it exists around us in the Yukon, Canada and around the world.
I can support the position of the previous speaker in that we should express our preference and desire to see more positive discussion about racism. I agree that we should encourage positive attitudes and a greater awareness of racism. We should be more tolerant and understanding. Those are valued principles. But the reality is that racism does exist and a discussion of it allows for the kind of increased awareness that will lead to a much more positive and healthy attitude about the issue.
Someone once said that there will be racism as long as there is ignorance. That is very true. Having been also a victim of that kind of ignorance, I can speak with some first-hand experience. I grew up on a farm in rural Saskatchewan. It was a very typical rural scene.
There were many small farmers. There were many families. There were many immigrants. There were also many Canadians of second, third, even fourth generation sons and daughters. There was quite a broad mix of cultural heritage in the community where I lived. There were Germans; there were Irish; there were French; there were Ukrainians and there were many others. In fact, my first language was Ukrainian, and I began school with very broken and deficient English. My parents instilled in me a deep respect for our own cultural heritage as originated in the Ukrainian tradition but, at the same time, they balanced that with a very broad respect for all people.
But I guess what I will never forget is an incident when I was about seven or eight years old. It occurred on some afternoon in the home town of the region where I grew up. I was joining a group of friends and strangers. It is so vivid in my recollection. I was very ceremoniously ostracized from the group. I think to this day I can hear in the back of my mind and I remember the chant so well: You stupid Bohunk; you talk so funny. I guess that stuck with me. It had quite an impact. It made me realize just how cruel kids can be to each other. In my instance, it gave me a tremendous early understanding of just what racism and cultural slurring was all about. I guess at the same time it gave me an early awareness of basic human rights.
There is no question that in any circle an experience of a child is more profound and more impacting than on an adult, especially when you do not understand and you are exposed to something for the first time. It is interesting also that ones first reaction to that kind of abuse is that they lash back; they tend to respond in anger. I guess that too is part of the ignorance that perpetrates attitudes of racism. In this respect, I appreciate the comments of the previous speaker, because I think she is right.
Racism is a learned behaviour. Children do not inherit that characteristic or attitude in their lives. They acquire those attitudes from their parents and their immediate friends. There is no question that those attitudes are the product of bias, bigotry and selfishness, and all of those things are the products of an ill-informed point of view. So I feel very strongly that we must discuss an issue such as this, to create a more well-informed society, to create a change in some old attitudes that could be perpetrated with continuing ignorance. We clearly have a better understanding when we talk about something and we can get rid of the undesirable attitudes that exist.
In my own childhood experience, if it had not been dealt with properly by my parents, it could very well have left me just as bigoted and as racist and selfish as my critics, but rather, I feel very proud of my cultural heritage, and I feel strongly committed to protecting and preserving those same rights for others.
Looking around and listening to some of the debate this afternoon, clearly, when I see the examples of racism taking place, I am sometimes very disappointed and sometimes very, very saddened, and sometimes truly embarrassed. My experience, however, was not as deep and impacting as it has been for others, so I am not angry. I want to help with the understanding that is required to eliminate it.
It is true that our aboriginal people are so often singled out, as I was, as a child, in a much more powerful way. If I have any understanding of the personal pain and damage from racial slurring, it comes with a deep understanding of the cruelty, the unfairness and the harm that it can create toward a better life for all of us.
I find it quite revealing that one of the most critical issues facing our society today is the relationship we have with our environment. We express it in debates in this House. It is a matter of global concern. We talk about our fears relating to global warming and our desire for sustainable development. We debate it as one of the most important developing issues that could potentially have some catastrophic effects on the survival of our planet.
What I find even more revealing, and particularly so in light of the debate going on this afternoon, is that the aboriginal people, not just of the Yukon but of the country and elsewhere, have a closer affinity with and respect for the environment than all of the rest of us combined, who dropped in from Europe in the last century. I would be prepared to submit that if the rest of the world paid the same kind of attention and respect for the environment as the aboriginal people, it is very unlikely we would be facing the grave environmental concerns we do now. In fact, as noted by other speakers, a more informed attitude and cultural awareness would go a long way in eliminating the Okas of the country and the other racist and dehumanizing activities we see around us.
In closing, I would suggest we should make every effort to demonstrate our respect for, not only the cultural mosaic of our country, but also of the aboriginal presence among us and a respect for the dignity of all people. I think that would go a long way in making this a healthier, safer and, clearly, a much better place for us to live and raise our children.
Mr. Lang: I have a couple of comments I would like to make on the motion before us. But first I would like to clarify the record because of the Minister of Justices continual personal attacks on me.
The Society for Northern Land Research was formed in 1973. It was a group of people who were very concerned about what was happening to the Yukon with respect to the question of aboriginal title. One of the aspects of the organization was that it did question the issue of aboriginal title. Eventually, the organization accepted it. We were very prominent and were a major political force, prior to me getting into office, in getting the Yukon territorial government involved in the negotiations of the Yukon Indian land claims.
We felt it was important that the non-beneficiaries of the Indian land claim in the Yukon should have a say, and a major say, in how land claims were going to be settled.
The intimation by the Minister of Justice is that, because of that organization and my involvement in it, I am a racist. I want to make very clear that, on the board of directors at that time there were Indian people involved, and there were Indian people involved in the organization. It was a cross-section of the population of the Yukon that was, during that political climate of the day, questioning decisions being made, mainly by the Government of Canada, contrary to the decisions being made today, where the Government of the Yukon Territory is a major force.
I also want to clarify another point with the Minister of Justice, so my record can stand up against anyone elses on the other side. I happened to be part of a Cabinet that appointed the now Minister of Justice as a justice of the peace. I happened to be part of a Cabinet in 1984, that agreed to a land claim package that was put to the public to the Yukon Territory. For one, I have nothing to apologize for to anyone in this House or in the territory. What concerns me is the attitude that is being exhibited by the Minister of Justice to anyone who happens to disagree, and it is an intolerant attitude that is being exhibited by her in her capacity as Minister of Justice. That takes away from the debate we are pursuing today.
I respect the Minister of Justices opinions. I am prepared to accept her opinions. We live in a community that has gone a long way in the last 30 years. If one takes a look, from 1960 to 1990, to see what we have done, as a people, together, we have seen native people elected to this Legislature. They are sitting here. We see the Minister of Justice, who represents a constituency that is not predominantly native, but is a homogeneous constituency of primarily non-native voters. She has been successful, at least twice, in an election. I commend the Minister of Justices ability to run in that constituency and get elected, because she is obviously reflecting in most part the wishes of that particular constituency.
All I ask is some tolerance from the Minister of Justice and others in respecting other peoples points of view, whether it be the Member for Riverdale South, or the Member for Tatchun. If we, in this House, do not have the ability to at least listen and show some respect for a difference of opinion, then this motion before us is meaningless.
It concerns me very much as a Canadian about where our country is going. It concerns me very much that we, as Canadians, seem to be forgetting that we are one country. I will reiterate that it concerns me. I listen to various interest groups and hear them on the airwaves, whether it be TV or radio, and they stand up and say, first of all, in some cases, I am an aboriginal person, secondly, I am from the Northwest Territories and, thirdly, I am a Canadian. I strongly believe that, in many ways, we are forgetting our national identity, our reason for being a country as we, within ourselves, search to find out what we can do for ourselves and forget about our country.
We spoke to that the other day with the Minister of Justice, who would not stand up and say that she was proud to be a Canadian. It took until two days later for her to stand up and yet she is the Minister of Justice for the Government of the Yukon Territory, for the people of the territory. She has a responsibility to uphold the laws and respect the laws and if she does not like the laws then she has a responsibility to come in this House to change the laws.
We have a wonderful country. We have a beautiful country. We have to be very careful in the future about what we do in order to keep it together. We are a multicultural society. One way or the other, we have all come from some other place, including the Minister of Justice, who is not from the Yukon but comes from another part of Canada, as do I. She should not apologize for it and neither should I, because I am a Canadian and I have a right to be in the Yukon and I have a right to be in Newfoundland and if I do not have that right, then I ask what kind of country do we have?
We, as Canadians, must see each other as Canadians first. Second, we must see each other as people from areas of the country, Yukon to Newfoundland. We must also, if possible, respect the differences of our ancestry, whether we be of Indian ancestry or whether we be of Inuit ancentry or whether we be of Scottish ancestry. I think, in many ways, we have our priorities skewed and we better start asking ourselves, as Canadians: if we are going to be Canada, we better be Canadians first. You look at our country and you take a look at what is ripping us apart. We have the most affluent, beautiful country in the world and we have the French fighting the English. We have the west versus the east. We have the aboriginal people versus the Government of Canada or versus the white people. We have a situation here where I think we have to really look within ourselves to ask ourselves if collectively we are doing what is right for our country? I think, in many ways, indirectly and not knowingly, and because, in many cases, of intolerance, we are breaking away and we are tearing ourselves apart.
I am prepared to accept the motion with an understanding of what multiculturalism is. There is no question that our country was built by various people of different ancestries coming to this country, in conjunction with the aboriginal people of Canada. They built a country that compares well anywhere around the world. Our standard of living is probably above anyone elses in the world. I think we have to very careful about what we do as Canadians in respect to the principle of multiculturalism. As my colleague, the Member from Riverdale North, said: how far do you heighten the differences between people?
I have no problem respecting people of different nationalities and different interests. I will defend their right to be proud of their ancestry. On the other hand, I think we have to be very careful with government and how government becomes involved in the world of multiculturalism. What has happened in our country, in some cases, is that ethnic groups are looked at as a voting bloc. In other words, the politician has become involved and has said, I can capture that vote if I do certain things on behalf of that particular ethnic group. The unfortunate thing is that if a group is given preferred status, those who do not have that preferred status look with envy at those who have been put on the pedestal through the power of government. You cannot - you will not - be successful in eliminating racism if you have one group of people up here and one group of people down here - whether it be native up here and white down here, or vice versa, or French up here and English down here, or vice versa. Human instinct tells you that if you are putting somebody in a preferred position, over and above others, those who are not being treated in that manner are going to resent it. That being allowed to happen is what is going to propagate racism.
It is not in the interest of our country. It is not in the interest of our country to see us tear our people apart by race. I believe strongly that - and I do not care if you are of native ancestry, Scottish ancestry or French ancestry - given equal opportunity to get an education, he or she will be as capable as anyone else to join the workforce and to take part in Canada.
Our job in this Legislature is to ensure and to do our best, where possible, to provide equal opportunity. In good part, through the will of the Legislature and the government over the last 20 years, we have gone a long way, primarily in the education system. Take a look at what has been done in our education system and how people are prospering, whether it be native or non-native, growing up here in the Yukon. We can compete with anyone. We do not have to apologize to anyone. We can hold our own in almost any forum there is, primarily because we have allowed, permitted and ensured that equal opportunity has been made available to all people, regardless of race.
I think it is important that we, as politicians, as leaders in our community, look at people, not for not what they are, but for what they are prepared to do.
If we do that, then it is my humble opinion that we can go a long way toward eliminating racism within our community. If we heighten the differences between us, just as the Minister of Justice attempted to rewrite history earlier today, all we are going to do is to continue to propagate intolerance. The results of that, we all know, do not make for a nice place to live. People of the territory, and I am talking about my constituents, want a place to live where there is equal opportunity. They want a home; they want a family; they want the opportunity to raise their family in such a manner that those children, when they grow up, can compete in the world as it is going to be presented to them when they are at the age of majority. They want to live in peace and harmony with their neighbour. They do not want to be fighting with their neighbour. I do not believe, at least, that a majority of my constituents do. If we are going to be successful in that, then we have to make the necessary steps to try, wherever possible, to point out our similarities as well as our differences, and say that we have that much more in common than we have in differences and we can build a better Yukon and a better Canada together.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I thank the mover of this motion and thank the House for the opportunity today to follow the Member who has just spoken, because he and I have exchanged views and exchanged differences of opinion on this question before. Since the Member who just spoke, as others have said, suggested a kind of clearing of the air on some of these questions and allegations, I would like to do the same. I will say it, not in a combative way, to try to get Members opposite to understand why there is such a point of view about some of the things they have said in the past and why some of those hurts and pains do not go away quickly.
I want to state the obvious. I stand before you today as a white male - perhaps worse in the demonology of some people: a white, middle-aged, middle-class male. It is probably true that in terms of discrimination, I belong to the luckiest group in Canada, the most privileged group of human beings perhaps who have ever lived anywhere in the world. Certainly never before has such a large group of people, so defined, enjoyed so much of the earths riches and so many cultural riches in society. It would be dumb to suggest that racism is gone from our land or gone from our country or even that it has disappeared from our institutions. It has been long practiced in this country.
Let us be clear about this. Racism has been practiced for the benefit of the group to which I belong. To be white and male is economically and socially advantageous in this society. Nonetheless, my upbringing is such that I have no hesitation in joining my colleagues in calling racism a scourge of society.
I was fortunate in that I grew up in a democratic socialist family who taught its children about social justice, equality, racism and sexism. And, even though I have learned much from my parents, one never really learns anything until one experiences it oneself.
I do not think many of the lessons that my parents gave me became real for me until the 1960s, the time at which I came of age, particularly politically. There were certain people I admired at that time in the civil rights movement, which was for me, one of the most galvanizing events in my life. It was one of the most moving and persuasive political developments on this continent.
As a young person in university and as a young person here in the Yukon, I came to admire people like Martin Luther King and the traditions of Gandhi, and some of the people who were fighting racial injustice in this country and abroad. Likewise, I came to be sickened by the views expressed at that time by people like George Wallace and Lester Maddox and even, more recently in Canada, Jim Keegstra, and others.
I say, even though the Member for Porter Creek East has stepped out of the Chamber, that some people perhaps seem to have convenient memories of these events, but I remember very well some of the things said and reported by members of the Society for Northern Land Research. I am interested in what the Member says now about its true position. I know the members of the society whom I encountered. I was appalled and sickened by their views about native people and about land claims. I was sickened by the views articulated by some of the members of that group who suggested violent responses to the claims of native people in this territory.
The motion before us uses the word scourge. It is a strong word and means a punishment. That is exactly what racism is. It punishes us for small mindedness, for our petty and fearful acts of superiority and our exploitation of others for financial gain.
What is the punishment? It is the lessening of the dignity and the worth of every one of us who allows racism to continue to flourish in this community and country. While some among us may profit from a racist society, there is no one who is not diminished by it as a person.
In Canada, we are proud of what political scientists would call our liberal democratic traditions. I know that Canadians have been justifiably proud of their reputation as international peace keepers. We Canadians have traditionally liked to look upon ourselves as compassionate, caring and non-biased people, as the peace keepers and good neighbours. How easy it has been for us to look at our brothers and sisters in the United States, sniff in a superior way, and suggest that that cannot happen here, as we are much too nice.
During the acrimonious debate over human rights in the last Legislature, some people even put forward the notion that Yukon was somehow an oasis, a Shangri-La of racial tolerance, so far removed from some of the ugly events in other parts of the world that the kind of legislation we enacted here was really not needed. I do not want to draw too many conclusions from this, but I think it is remarkable that every single person I know who expressed that view was a very comfortably well-off white person. I never heard that view flouted by anybody of any religious, ethnic or visible minority. Despite what we may like to say and think about ourselves, this country has a long and dishonourable history of institutionalized racism that continues to this very day.
It is a matter of historical record that the earliest European settlers to our shores set right to work enslaving aboriginal people. By 1600 in this country, black slaves were brought to Canada to serve the French. Canada was certainly no trailblazer in the abolition of slavery. Slavery was routinely seen in Canada until British legislation abolished slavery for the entire Commonwealth in 1834.
Doing away with slavery did not do away with racism in Canada. Racist laws continue to be in the books in almost every jurisdiction in Canada, and racist actions continue to be allowed.
Legislation such as the Indian Act specifically promoted discriminatory behavior against aboriginal people. Provisions which denied aboriginal people the franchise, as has been mentioned by the Minister of Justice, or restricted areas in which they could practice otherwise legal activities were routinely approved by our legislators. It is a matter of record that a profoundly religious and cultural practice of aboriginal people on the west coast, the potlatch tradition, was made illegal by John A. Macdonald. A religious practice was abolished because it was regarded as paganism or heathenism. There are, in this territory, people among us who would attempt, and have attempted, to defend the use of residential schools as a means of crushing the culture and the spirit of Indian children who were forced to attend. The term cultural genocide has been used, and it is not too strong a term. It was genocide motivated by the conviction that only European culture had any value whatsoever. There was one way to do things, the right way to do things, and that was the way of the dominant culture. It is foolhardy for us to deny that that is one of the traditions of this community, and even of this Legislature.
Certainly it is a matter of record that very few in this country spoke out on behalf of the Japanese that were forcibly detained, had their property expropriated, and were moved away from their homes, across our country during World War II. People, many of them moved, were born and raised in this country. While Germans and Italians were considered Canadians and detained only if they gave some indication of fascist sympathies, the colour of the skin of the Japanese Canadians was reason enough to transport the Japanese. I have, I think, personally, as a long-standing member of the NDP, reason to be proud that the CCF, the forerunner of the NDP, opposed legislation authorizing this discriminatory action, and likewise fought this hysteria against the Yellow Peril promoted by the government under the aegis of patriotism.
While the horrors of the Second World War and the sickening evidence of what happens when unbridled racism is allowed led the Canadian government to adopt international covenants such as the Atlantic Charter and the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, only slowly did legislation in Canada come to forbid racist practices. By the 1950s, most jurisdictions in Canada made it illegal to advertise or publicize the intention to discriminate, but silent discrimination went unchallenged.
It was not until human rights legislation specifically made them invalid that covenants restricting alienation of land on the basis of race were done away with and this country consistently upheld restricted covenants that stated, and I quote, land not to be sold to Jews or persons of objectionable nationality or the land and premises herein described shall never be sold, assigned, transferred, leased, rented or in any manner whatsoever alienated to any person of the Jewish faith. In fact that quote goes on, any person of the Jewish, Hebrew, Semitic, Negro or coloured race or blood....
That is from legal documents in Canada.
The introduction of the Bill of Rights in Canada, in 1965, during the Deifenbaker government, was intended to help end discrimination. Instead, we saw a rise of legislative juggling so as to escape its effect, and the downgrading of the Bill of Rights from supreme law to a rule of construction.
I think that the 1960s really were a turning point for this continent on the question that we are debating today. I mentioned how I was affected by the civil rights movement in the United States, how impressed I was by people like Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, how impressed I was, a little later on, by people like Tommy Douglas, who stood up against public opinion, against the War Measures Act, and made me proud to be standing up for a principle.
It is very easy to think of these times as being a long time ago but they are as recent as the time that I worked at the House of Commons, in the mid-1970s. I knew an MP there, who happened to be Jewish, who told me an interesting story about how he had noticed that the Government of Canada regularly booked events with prominent international visitors or prominent guests at the Rideau Club. He decided to file a written question in the Legislature - we used to have them around here but they do not get used very much anymore - that had two parts: one, had the Government of Canada booked any meetings or events at the Rideau Club; and two, was it the policy of the Rideau Club to deny admission to people of the Jewish faith?
It so happened, as is often the case in parliamentary terms, that the person asking the question knew the answers to both of them already. A very unusual thing happened to this MP, who actually served for many, many years in the House of Commons: he filed his question with the table, as required, and then, instead of the question turning up in the parliamentary documents, he had a visit from a Cabinet Minister, with his question in hand. The Minister asked him if he would please desist in asking this question, because the Rideau Club was meeting at this minute to consider their policy on the question of the admission of people of Jewish faith.
Now, that is not very long ago in Canada, in a club that probably included, among its members, a sizable percentage of the national Cabinet, a great many senators and a lot of deputy ministers. I would say, as a matter of record, they included a lot of people who were - I will not say notoriously - proudly liberal in their views. In fact, I think the Leader of the Opposition was still a Liberal back in those days - a long time ago.
I even remember in Whitehorse, in the 1970s, going to a meeting one time where there was a prominent member of this community who had been on a Canadian Chamber of Commerce visit to South Africa.
He had observed there the method by which it was alleged that South African mining companies chose foremen for their underground crews. The method was, allegedly, that they took young men from their tribal homelands and brought them into a clearing and asked them all to try and solve a big wooden jig-saw puzzle. The first person to solve the big wooden jig-saw puzzle, it was said, would then be the foreman for this crew in the underground gold mine or diamond mine.
I had trouble not displaying my reaction to this story, in and of itself, but I was absolutely amazed when the gentleman then went on to suggest that something like this might be pretty good for our natives up here.
That kind of ignorance was not uncommon. The Member for Riverdale South, the Member for Porter Creek East, and, in some ways, the Member for Riverdale North, have complained that the Minister of Justice has gone over the past and reopened old wounds, and suggested that somehow statements made a long time ago, in a different context, were misunderstood.
Well, I think that we should talk frankly about some of these things since we are talking about clearing the air. I will tell Members opposite what I think about some of those things. I know the Member for Riverdale North said that the famous vote white, vote Tory ad was not racist and it was not intended that way. I have to tell the Member, and this will not surprise him, that a lot of people reacted to it as if it were that - a lot of people. While he personally may not have intended any malice, it was a matter of fact that some real ignorant bigots, inspired by that ad, phoned my house and made death threats on my kids and my wife, who happens to be an aboriginal person.
I am not going to just forget that. That is not going to go away. It is not going to evaporate. It is not going to get swept under the carpet, but there is a way in which we can exorcise the bad feeling that remains about those things. The Prime Minister of this country recently decided that an official apology should be extended to Japanese Canadians and that that apology should be extended to Italian Canadians who were interned during the Second World War.
I have just read what was said at the time about the drafting and intent of the ad, and that ad was clearly intended to raise racial fears. I read English very well, and I think I can be counted as an intelligent reader of English. That is what that ad was designed to do. For some people, it had that effect. Other people were horrified and appalled by it.
I am not trying to rewrite history, as the Member for Porter Creek East says. I am telling the Member what happened from my point of view, and how I experienced that situation.
I want to say something more, picking up on the remarks of the Member opposite. He talked about the very inflammatory situation recently of the turbanned members of the RCMP. It is interesting that this has become such an issue, when you think of the British army, hardly the most liberal or liberated organization in the world, that never had any problem allowing complete regiments, or some of its elite units, the Ghurkas, to wear the turban. It was not regarded as remarkable or inappropriate or contrary to tradition at all. It was regarded as a respect for the traditions of the people who were wearing them.
The Member spoke about religious headgear and that, somehow, that was a denial of Canadian traditions. I want to explore that with the Member for a second, and I do not want to be nasty. I want to share with the Member my thoughts on that.
If the proposition is that, somehow in order to join an institution like the RCMP, someone would have to betray their religious principles, I cannot buy that, nor can I accept the validity of that. The Member talks about Indian people wearing braids versus the traditional dress code. The traditional dress code notion is interesting, because now, it is the red serge but, of course, the working uniform of the RCMP is not the red serge. The uniform has been evolving all the time. The kind of short haircuts and clean-shaven looks that are now the norm, were not the norm when the RCMP was formed. You are not talking about ancient traditions; you are talking about current fashions.
Current acceptable hair fashions today, given the kind of variety of expression that people choose for themselves today, can include long hair, braids or crewcuts. I would suggest that the military style haircut, which some people favour, is not now the norm, is not even a tradition, but is the fashion of a period of the late 1940s or 1950s, which is now long past.
The Member talks about a question, which he asked rhetorically: What about Canadian culture and tradition? He implied that the hat and uniform of the RCMP is a Canadian cultural tradition. Indeed it is a very important Canadian cultural icon. I submit, however, that it represents only one part of the Canadian culture and tradition. To use the Member for Riverdale Norths expression, we are talking about the cultural traditions of previous generations when we assume that the dominant culture and tradition in Canada was the English language and Scottish, Welsh and Irish traditions. The dominant religious views, at least in English speaking Canada, were probably Presbyterian, Methodist and Anglican. In French Canada, there were the Catholic traditions. But, interestingly enough, Canada has since become more of a Catholic than a Protestant country. Notice that the traditions were Anglo-Saxon, Celtic, Presbyterian, Methodist, English and French.
Canadian culture has been evolving and changing. It has become enormously enriched by immigration in the last few years. English and French are part of our traditions, but they are not the only part. Saxons and Celts are part of our traditions, but they are not the only ones. We now have a country that has a great many Jews, Moslems, Sikhs, and Hindus. We have people from faiths from all over the world, of all races and religions. Gone is the day when our immigration was from northern and western Europe as the standard of living in those places reached and sometimes surpassed our own. Immigration dried up from those quarters. Immigration since has come from southern Europe, Africa, Asia and the Third World. Those people appropriately see Canada as a desirable place to come to achieve their potential.
I believe it is entirely wrongheaded to suggest that when those people come and bring their values, languages, ideas, arts, music and poetry, that somehow they are not a part of the Canadian tradition or that they are somehow spoiling or corrupting it in some way, and that when they ask that their traditions and values be represented in our institutions, such as the RCMP, that somehow they are doing something wrong and pursuing something unCanadian.
The Member for Riverdale South talked about harping on the past, thinking positive and forgiving and forgetting. I think that is fine, but I do not think we can sweep things under the rug. Racism is a cancer that corrodes society and scars individuals. It is true that time heals wounds, but we may not have enough time if we just use that approach. Leaving it to time takes too long. Talking about it, as we are today, is a much more desirable point of view. Even getting past the accusations of racism, I still think there are some fundamental differences of opinion in this House on this question; I am just saying that there are.
Even when the Member for Porter Creek East was giving his current view on the Society for Northern Land Research, he talked about that society making the representation that the Yukon government should represent the non-Indian view at the land claims table. That statement seems to suggest that the Yukon governments responsibility, in the view of the Society of Northern Land Research at the time, was to represent non-Indian people.
We take a different view. Our view, on this side of the House, is that the role of the Yukon government is to represent all people in the territory, Indian and non-Indian, urban and rural, men and women, native and non-native. That is a fundamentally different position. He suggests that the Minister of Justice is intolerant. It is an interesting case of a situation where a Member, who has been a victim of racism, unlike the Member for Porter Creek East, is somehow being told that she has to be understanding and sympathetic. Somehow, by implication, the victim of racism is to be blamed for it.
The Member then went on to talk about homogenized constituencies. The Minister of Justice represents Whitehorse North Centre. The one thing I am absolutely certain about is that Whitehorse North Centre is not a homogenized constituency, nor is Whitehorse a homogenized community, nor is the Yukon Territory a homogenized community, and I do not believe that most people here would want it to be so.
The Member for Porter Creek East asks about where our country is going. Canadians seem to forget we are part of one country, just one country. Well that is a great and a fine idea but I want to question what the image of that one country is because I suspect I might not buy into the Member for Porter Creek Easts image of one country.
The Canada of our childhood, as I mentioned, was governed by a white, male patriarchy. There were two rival oligarchies that occasionally traded power, but the people were of a certain predictable socio-economic situation and type, predominantly men. Even in 1974, there was only one woman Member of Parliament, I think. In 1974, as far as I remember, I think there were no native people - maybe one - in the Parliament of Canada. There were no visible minorities in Parliament. There were very few people of Jewish faith for example. I think in Canadian history there has only been one premier who was not a Protestant or a Catholic.
What I guess bothers me with the notion of one Canada is somehow that one Canada implies cookie-cutter Canadians- that there is a standard model of Canadians - that everybody should aspire to that model and fit into that model. I hope the Member does not mean that because it seems to me that what that will lead to is a position that says: what is wrong with other people is that they are not like me; if they were to behave properly, they would behave like me. Instead of being true to themselves and their own traditions, their own cultures, they would do as others would have them do.
Treating people equally does not produce equality. Take the tax like the GST. If it costs a rich man and a poor man each $1,000 a year, that is not equal treatment. That is nothing to the rich person and may be a heavy burden to the poor. You cannot treat everybody the same way and assume that is equitable treatment. I believe a French Canadian is entitled to receive, from government, particularly national government, services in their language. I believe a Sikh has a right to demand that public institutions respect his religious beliefs. I believe an aboriginal person is entitled to demand respect for their rights, for their language and culture.
If we treated all people the same, all people as if they were white Anglo-Saxon Protestants, we would not have equality; we would not have justice. Of course we want people treated equitably in terms of jobs and housing, as the Member said, and in economic opportunities. That is what I call blinkered liberalism - the notion that somehow inequalities and problems like racism do not exist.
It is true that today with human rights legislation in every jurisdiction and the federal Charter of Rights, the situation has improved for those who have traditionally been the targets of racial discrimination. I would point out that while every time such legislation is introduced and opponents argue that you cannot legislate goodwill and a lack of prejudice, people of colour in this country, the people who are truly affected by this legislation continue to state and argue that it is a real benefit. It has to be said that the battle is far from over and the pressure to discriminate on an arbitrary matter such as race is not found only among the uneducated, the unsophisticated, or those who do not know better.
Just two weeks ago I am sure you read, as did I, that the president of the Montreal Catholic School Board suggested that Canada should start restricting its immigration to traditional Judaeo-Christian cultures so that children will fit in at school. Is it any coincidence that the residents of the non-Judaeo-Christian cultures are overwhelmingly non-white? I think it is a tribute to the good sense of the electors in Montreal that this person was not re-elected in his bid for re-election last week. Good for the people in that constituency.
It is not unusual to hear protests about the floods of immigrants from Hong Kong or South Asia or from the Indian sub-continent. The objection is that they are just not like us. Does anyone ever suggest that restricting immigration from the United States, or from northern Europe or from white countries would make sense? Of course not, although there were parts of Canada where no Englishmen were encouraged to apply, but that may have had something to do with some stereotypes about their work habits rather than an objection to their religion or colour, I suspect.
We may be a little better at rationalizing our bigotry today, but rationalization does not change its bitter, twisted and evil motivation. I suspect that no Englishman may apply originated from the allegation that Englishmen were notoriously trying to get themselves involved in the trade union movement, and it was a way of keeping some places of employment non-union.
As I conclude, I want to move from England to Scotland. I know the Member for Porter Creek East will not mind if I quote Robbie Burns, and I am sure he has an appropriate admiration for the bard of Scotland, much of whose work took great delight in exposing the hypocrisy of the elite of his day. I ask all Members to consider Robbie Burns words of more than 200 years ago. I also ask that you forgive his understandable exclusive use of the masculine gender. He said:
Then let us pray that come it may
(As come it will for a that)
That sense and worth oer a the earth
Shall bear the gree and a that
For a that and a that
Its comin yet for a that
That man to man the world oer
Shall brithers be for a that."
Men and women have worked together for centuries to eradicate the blight of racism from the earth. The battle is not over yet, and it is a battle that every generation must fight over again. History tells us that. I am proud to support this motion, and I think that, whatever the views that have been expressed on all sides of this House, that it is useful, important and necessary for us to talk about an issue like this.
Mr. Phelps: I, too, want to say at the outset that I am pleased to speak to this motion and will be supporting it. The Member who spoke just before me talked about clearing the air, and I think that is always a helpful exercise, while I may not agree with everything he says. The Member said he is one of the privileged group of people, being a middle-aged, white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant. I, too, am one of those, although I sometimes get a little tired of apologizing for that fact. It seems that is one of the new duties of those who are WASPs in Canada.
I grew up in an environment of people who were tolerant and taught me to be tolerant in my younger years. In the 1960s, when I was going to university in British Columbia, I was very much involved in the civil rights movement. I got involved in the goings-on at campus and was one of the first members of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, which still carries on its work today in British Columbia. It was a non-partisan association that had a good number of people from all parties, and some later better-known NDP MLAs were quite heavily involved in that during the 1960s.
When I articled in Vancouver, I had the good fortune to work for a very well respected, well-known Jewish firm. They were perhaps the biggest and best known Jewish firm in Western Canada, and did a lot of corporate work in Vancouver. At that time, I was appalled to see the kind of discriminations these people faced in Vancouver, and that was in the late 1960s, around 1968, 1969. These were people whose brothers and sisters were psychiatrists and doctors and so on, and they could not join some of the best known clubs in Vancouver at that time. Clubs like the Vancouver Club and Terminal City Club were closed to various races and to Jewish people.
It was really appalling that some of the people who made these rules were people who were coming to these very same people, or these very same lawyers, for advice about how to run their affairs, how to raise money and how to get ahead and survive in the corporate jungles of Vancouver. It was quite a welcomed event when this firm, which was then fairly small, acquired new large, corporate clients who were non-Jewish, something that they were always proud of. They gave good service and still do.
I returned to the Yukon in 1970 and, in those days, did quite a lot of criminal law. The first full-time Crown Prosecutor was Chinese from Vancouver. I got to know him very well, because we were a rather small bar in those days. This gentleman has gone on to become a judge in Vancouver - one of the first, if not the first, judge of Chinese extraction.
I was very interested in the way that he dealt with racial issues when they came up, sometimes as defences in the courts, and some of the frank discussions he had with native people about their duties, about what he went through, what he expected them to do for their people, and how not to behave. I was very impressed with him and very pleased to see that he has gone on to become a leader for his people, certainly in the legal community.
I can remember when land claims was becoming an issue. I can remember some people I knew fairly well who were involved in land claims back then, people like Johnny Johns and others. I was always a supporter of a fair land claims settlement. In fact, I can recall running for office at the same time the Member for Whitehorse West ran in 1974.
Some of the speeches I gave back then were rather simplistic, I suppose. We had no idea of how complex the issue of land claims would become. It is kind of interesting to see how your thinking evolves.
I was involved early on as a Member chosen by the Legislative Assembly of the day, in 1974, to take part in the land claims negotiations, the first appointment from the Legislature of a sitting MLA. Later, I was involved as one of the commissioners on the Alaska Highway pipeline hearings, for which the issue of land claims was a fundamental issue during the hearings in 1977. Most people know I was also involved in land claims as a negotiator from 1979 to 1984, when we had an agreement-in-principle that ultimately floundered. Interestingly enough, it was supported in democratic vote by nine or 10 of the First Nations who did vote on the issue.
There is no question that racism is a question we all face in Canada and the Yukon. It is an ugly thing. But I would like to say that it is not confined to white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants. There seems to be a feeling that it is all right for other people to make racist comments, but not the dominant culture in Canada.
I sent to Vancouver to have an article faxed to me. I would like to table it in the House. It is an article from the afternoon Vancouver Sun. I heard about this new item on the noon television news from B.C. The article is entitled, We should have killed you, Native tells Canadians. It is an article about what Bill Wilson had to say at a meeting in Victoria. Among other things, he is quoted as saying, If it were not for the generosity of Indians, the majority of Canadians would still be homely, diseased, smelly people on boats. The countries you came from kicked you out. You came here because you could not make a living and you had nowhere else to go. What did we do? We welcomed you. It was a stupid mistake. We should have killed you all ... Selective breeding might have produced a better quality of Canadians than those who have created the present mess of native/non-native relations.
I feel, as do, I am sure, most aboriginal people, that comments like that are despicable and that that is racism at its worst. This article goes on to quote one of the aboriginal leaders in B.C., Peter Scow, who was terribly angered by Wilsons outburst and stated, of course, that Wilsons view does not represent the thinking of the majority of native Indians in the province. He went on to say that just because one person is a certain way, it does not mean that everyone in that race is that way.
I draw this to peoples attention, because racism is a scourge and a disease that is not confined to any one group of people. It is something that all of us come across, much to our dismay. My home community of Carcross had tensions and troubles that, everyone knows, arose during the summer. Some of them were partly brought on by the nightly events on television surrounding the Oka barricades and some of the statements made by people involved in those blockades. Unfortunately, when there is misunderstanding, when people do not talk frankly about issues, tensions do seem to escalate, as they did for a time in that community. Some of the problems have been reported in the press: the criminal proceedings that resulted from some of the behaviour of some of the youths in the community.
When that sort of things happens, the vast majority of people in town are troubled, and the elders of my community, Indian and white, are almost 100 percent gentle people who are tolerant and try to teach people to respect, communicate with each other and get along with each other.
I have a bit of difficulty with what people tend to define as racist remarks, or racism itself. When I was involved in the civil rights movement, and caught up in what was happening with regard to Negro people and their lack of equal rights in the southern states, I was very interested in political philosophy and took some courses in that subject while I was still in Arts. I have always felt that equal rights are what we should be striving for. Sometimes, when people are concerned with issues such as land claims or multiculturalism, it has to do with the issue of whether or not we are creating special rights in Canada so people will not be equal in our democracy, equal in the sense of having equal rights.
When one goes back to the early 1970s and rereads what was said in those days by people who were upset by land claims, which was a new concept to most people, and one that was revived, in terms of the law and the fact surrounding the legal concept, some of the reaction had to do with people who were concerned about the future not being one where we all might enjoy equal rights.
Whether that proposition is defendable, and whether they were right or wrong in their concerns, is a side issue. It is important to discuss issues like this. I do not have any problem discussing, in a rational and non-emotional way, the concepts of aboriginal rights and what I see as fair and unfair in terms of a settlement. I have always expressed my concerns in this way. I would be concerned if I felt the final settlement would put us into a situation where there were constitutional rights that caused us to be unequal, because I do not think democracy could survive that. I firmly believe that the fundamental principle is that we, in our social contract, have to be equals.
For example, when an ad such as the one tabled by the Minister of Justice appears, I can understand that people would react emotionally to it. I do not think that the issue itself is one that people should not be able to talk about. The issue is whether or not there is a conflict of interest - surely people can talk about that and take the position that there is or is not, and defend their position.
We cannot talk about these things without yelling racism. I do not know where Canada is going. It is unfortunate that there are some feelings of hatred that affected some individual people. I do not think that is good. The issue itself is one that should be met head-on and discussed like adults in an adult way. Because someone makes that claim or raises that concern, I do not think that person is necessarily a bigot or racist. Issues of conflict of interest are complex issues that have to be discussed.
Frankly, I know that a lot of people do not fully understand what constitutes a conflict of interest in certain cases, and I do not think that makes them inferior or bad. It is the kind of thing that should be talked out. I just feel it is a philosophical issue, a legal problem, and one that has been wrestled with through the centuries. Freedom of speech is important and, when you start preventing issues from being raised and use racism as the reason, you have to be fairly careful. There are no easy answers to where the boundary is. When I look at this kind of an issue, I do not feel it is one that needs to be swept under the rug or anything. It is something for people to talk about.
I do not think because somebody suggests there is a conflict of interest and if I disagree with that position, which I do, I do not think that it is an unfair question to raise. I do not think it is unfair for people to ask, Well if you are getting a benefit out of it, how are you handling it? Good God, we are voting for you or voting against you or trying to make up our minds and it is an issue that we want to talk about. I just do not really see it. Maybe the timing of it or something was unfortunate, but I talked to some of the people involved - Charlie Taylor - and nobody can say that Charlie Taylor is a racist in any way. I know most of these people; they are long-time, good Yukoners, some of them are friends of mine, and one or two of them I do not know.
I think that they were raising a point of view and wanted to discuss that very issue. There was a feeling from at least one person that it was an issue that was being swept under the rug at the time. When there were articles in the paper and so on, the relationship with CYI, by some of the individuals that were working for CYI at the time, was played down. That is unfortunate.
Let us face this head-on. I understand the emotional part, but I do not think it is the kind of question that ought not to be raised and that those who raise it are wrong. The position can be explained to them.
I think that, on a positive note, there has been a lot of movement in Canada, in our society. There is a lot more tolerance here in the Yukon and across the nation than there was in the 1950s. I completely agree with many of the comments made by the Member for Whitehorse West with regard to how things have moved rather quickly and how very recently we faced intolerable cases of racism in our institutions and across the land. On the local scene, I am very pleased to see that Indian culture is being appreciated more and more by all of us. I am very pleased to see Indian artists being recognized. I am pleased to see a better understanding of events such as the potlatch. I am always pleased, the few that I do go to, to see there are a lot of people from the white community there, people who are friends of the family. I am always pleased with the way that non-Indian people are welcomed to these events. I look forward to increasing tolerance in our society. I firmly believe that the land claims settlement, if it is balanced properly, will be a good thing. It will make Indian people equal.
I hope that is the goal. For me, it has always been the goal, that that be what is accomplished, not a situation where there are some fundamental inequalities built into our Constitution, things that will fester and cause hatred and problems in the future.
I would like to thank the Member for Whitehorse South Centre for bringing the motion forward. I am pleased that we have discussed such things as the infamous ad, as some would call it, but an ad I personally do not feel is racist at all. It is important that some of the people concerned joined the Northern Land Research Society because they were concerned about some fundamental rights and issues surrounding our democracy and our social contract. I am not saying there was not anyone who was a racist but, on the healthy side, these are issues that have to be discussed. We cannot take large steps or change our Constitution without frank and open discussion. I do not think it helps to call a person racist because they raise issues.
I have enjoyed listening to the speakers who went before me, and I have no hesitation in saying that, of course, we will be supporting the motion.
Mr. Brewster: First, I would like to apologize to the two House Leaders. I was not on the list. I was not going to say anything, and I am really not going to get into the debate. There are just a couple of things I would like to have people think about.
I recall talking to Bill Drury Jr. His grandfather came over the Chilkoot Pass. When young Bill got out of university and applied for a job, it said it was for native Yukoners. He had all the qualifications and thought he was a native Yukoner. When he went to get the job, he was told he was not a native Yukoner. He still laughs about this, and he is a farmer today and is quite happy.
When my daughter was 16 years of age, she wanted to go to work. She got out of school for the summer, and she did not want to work for her dad. I do not know whether he did not pay very good wages or something, but she wanted to go out and work for the government. She applied for three jobs, and was turned down on all three jobs because she was not a native Yukoner. She was born, raised and went to high school here. She is now in Alberta. She says, they never told her she was not a native when she applied for a job there. She has the job, is quite happy, and will never come back. The only problem I have with that is I have a grandson 1,500 miles away that I have to go down and talk to every once in a while. That causes a little inconvenience for me.
Maybe I am a little prejudiced on that.
In regard to the turban, maybe I am prejudiced here. I see the Sergeant-at-Arms looking at me. If I do not say what I am about to say, he would probably meet me in the alley and straighten me around a little on this. Number one, the Government Leader mentioned the Ghurkas all had turbans. That is quite correct and is quite apparent that the Government Leader does not understand armies or how they are formed, or anything about them. The Ghurkas are a regiment. Each regiment has its own dress. The only uniform that was different was the officers, and that was the English officers uniform. There was a very good reason why they had the uniform of the English officer. They might not have lived very long if they did not have it, because the Ghurkas respected them, and they did not respect anybody else.
The Scots had the kilts. They found out they were not very good in action, so they went back to the regular brown uniform. The regiment I was with was the Black Devils, and everything was painted black. We were in the Canadian army, but we were different. The same thing applies to the RCMP. They always should be dressed the same all across Canada. There should be no difference.
I am not a middle-aged person, as some people say, so I do not think I am prejudiced on this, but you are taking away something people are proud of. Number one, a lot of people here do not understand that, when you go into the army, or the RCMP, or anything else, you are taught the uniform is you, and you are proud of that uniform, and you stay that way. Since they have started this issue about changing the uniforms, go ask all the old ones who are close to retirement how many are quitting and getting out in complete disgust. There are hundreds of thousands all across Western Canada who have signed that they do not want the uniform changed. It belongs to Western Canada. The force was formed for Western Canada, and they want it left alone. That is Canadian culture. You can juggle it around all you want.
The other thing I find surprising about this motion is that all of it has been about racism; northern culture was not talked about at all.
Speaker: The hon. Member will now close debate if she now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Ms. Hayden: I just have a few comments to make.
Among other things, the Member for Whitehorse Riverdale North talked about the petition that was filed, which many people signed. Its aim was to keep Indian children out of one of our elementary schools. Since we seem to be in the era of petitions now, I wanted to comment on that. I remember that time. I remember the petition and knew many of the people involved.
I am sorry. Let the record show I am talking about the Member for Whitehorse North Centre.
What concerns me about the petition was that, in my view at that time, they were well-meaning people. Racism is often perpetuated by well-meaning people.
I had forgotten that incident. It brings it home to me that there is value at times in looking back.
The Member for Riverdale North talked about his concern that we are diminishing our Canadian culture by allowing extensive immigration. I suggest that both old and new immigrants are enriching our Canadian culture. I believe that the Member assumes that our unique Canadian culture is white. I would suggest that has not been so for many decades, as both the Premier and the Leader of the Official Opposition have said.
The Member for Riverdale South talked about having tolerance for those who are racist. I grew up in rural Saskatchewan as, I believe, the Member did, and I was told by my family about a branch of the Klu Klux Klan that flourished in Saskatchewan in the 1930s. I just have to say that there must be a limit to the amount of tolerance that we can show racism.
The Member suggested that we, on this side, wished we did not have to talk about racism, and I think that is true but in a different context than she meant it. It is too bad there is still so much racism to talk about. That is the way that I meant it and I believe others on our side have meant it. I do not believe we can belittle the experiences of our neighbours, nor will platitudes placate or solve the problem.
I am glad that the Member for Riverdale South acknowledges the fact that racism is rooted in fear and that we need some sort of better understanding of each other. I am concerned that she seems to assume that anyone can get over living with racism by dealing with their anger. It seems to me that is another version of blaming the victim and I have problems with that.
Talking about racism, talking about what has gone before, is not just stirring up old memories but is perhaps, in the words of the Premier, exorcising some of the problems that we have. I think Remembrance Day is lest we forget. We have to remember what has gone on so we can, I hope, make positive changes for the future.
The Member for Porter Creek East said a number of things, but I am only going to mention one. He talked with some passion about one country. Again, perhaps you will forgive me if I refer to a time long ago, which I think is what some of us are talking about, when we really did see our country as separate and as one country. Certainly that is what it was when I was growing up and going to school. I think and hope we can go beyond that image now. I think we have to believe, to understand, the image of one planet, and to remember that we truly are a global village now. It is not just a cliche. Also, the majority of people in that global village do not have white skin.
I think that much has changed, as has been said, and I would like to read a bit more from the article that I read from earlier.
I think it indicates some of the change that has happened over these 47, 48 years. It is very brief, but these are the comments of the two researchers who were finding the blacks and talking to the black soldiers who had worked on the Alaska Highway.
Plans are now being made to hold a reunion of black American veterans who worked on the Alaska Highway, probably in Florida next year or in 1992. Eaton and Morgan, who are the researchers, are both working to try and get enough material together to form a travelling exhibit that focuses on black soldiers who helped build the highway.
A lot of them, they say, are too old or not well enough to travel, Eaton said. Others just cannot afford the trip in 1992. He said many of them are excited about the prospect of getting together again to reminisce and record their memoirs. He says they have not been recognized for their part in the project, and they are just dying now to tell their stories. Let us hope that their stories do get told before they die.
Talking about racism, talking about what has gone before, is useful and I think it is important that we air our grievances and that we allow them, perhaps, to be exorcised. There is a richness of resources in this country but resources, I suggest, are meaningless without humanity. This motion is about humanity, and I thank all the Members of this House for their support.
Motion No. 22 agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Given the time of the day, I would ask unanimous consent of all Members to move a motion that this House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: Unanimous consent has been granted.
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 that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I now call the Committee of the Whole to order. We will recess until 7:30 p.m.
Bill No. 15 - Second Appropriation Act, 1990-91 -continued
Health and Human Resources - continued
Chair: We are on general debate on Department of Health and Human Resources.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Yesterday I agreed to come back to the House with some written information explaining the financing of the extended care rehabilitation facility and agreed to try to document, as I laid out for Members yesterday, the numbers involving the annual amortization and the annual operating subsidies. If I could ask for copies to be made of these two sheets then I can distribute them to Members.
Mr. Lang: I appreciate the information. I would like to move on to another subject if I could, and that is the question of group homes. I noticed the Minister has outlined a number of areas where monies are being spent for group homes and, if the Minister is not in a position to answer me now maybe he can answer me in the main estimates; it has to do with the question of how discipline is administered in the group homes. It has been brought to my attention by a number of people that the discipline that is administered is not severe in any respect and what allegedly occurs is there is no respect for those who are working within the institutions. There is no respect being shown to them and subsequently there is almost chaos. I would like it if the Minister could take some time over the course of the next week or so to discuss with his officials what kind of discipline is administered to these young people and how it is administered. I would sure like to have a debate in the House on exactly where we are going as far as these young people are concerned.
The other thing I would like to know, and I would like to put the Minister on notice on this, is if he could provide us with it. Over the past five years a number of young people have gone to the group homes and then have wound up in the young offenders facility. I would just like to see what the comparison is because I think that could maybe tell us something if there is a trend where some of the young people are winding up in the group homes and subsequently then, and I guess one could use the word loosely, graduating to the young offenders facility and then further perhaps to the Whitehorse correctional institute. Then I would submit that if there is a correlation of any kind then I think we really have to have a hard look at what we are doing.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I thank the Member for giving notice of those questions, and I will be more than ready to debate those when we get to the mains. I would be prepared to provide an account of the discipline situation in group homes. I am a little disturbed at the Members suggestion of chaos because certainly when I have visited those facilities there has been nothing resembling chaos, although I would be surprised if there were not times, especially with troubled teens, when they did not act up. That happens even in the best of homes.
The tracking of clients of the department through group homes into young offenders facilities and ultimately into adult offenders is an interesting question. I do not know how scientific the information we have is, but certainly people who have been with the department for a long time will have personal knowledge of individuals who have been clients of either foster homes or group homes and then have had trouble with the law. I am quite happy to debate that question.
The Member should know, though, that there is plenty of literature, writing and research in this field generally - not Yukon-based - which talks about the root of the problem being dysfunctional families and, in many cases, other social pathologies. The roots of many problems for children is in the first two years of their life. If you are trying at any stage in a persons development to correct or make up for or try to adjust for some crisis or trauma or difficulties that arose early in ones life, you are dealing with a very difficult proposition. I will not try to debate it at length now, but I welcome the Member giving notice; I appreciate that. It will allow me to be, I hope, well prepared for the discussion.
Mr. Lang: I want to move on then, from the group homes to the young offenders and the young offenders facility. I was wondering if the Minister can provide us, during the main estimates debate, with the number of young offenders whom we have housed outside over the past year and what it is costing us. Perhaps he can verify whether or not the number of children in the young offenders facility has been constant over the past year.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Again, I will be pleased to provide that information. The Member should know that in some cases it changes from day to day, from week to week, because of the dispositions of many of the residents. The last time I checked, I think there was only one person outside of the territory, and I believe since that persons family had relocated to B.C., they wished to stay there themselves. I do not think we had any difficulty responding to that request. I appreciate the Members interest in having a retrospective on the information for the last several months or the last year, and I will undertake to provide that.
Mr. Lang: Exactly how much money was spent over this past year for young offenders based outside?
If the parents, or guardians, of a young offender do move outside to be in closer proximity to the particular institution in question, are we still responsible for paying the per diem? How long would this go on? They would then be seen as residents of that particular jurisdiction, as opposed to ours.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am sure there is an adjustment if, at some point, families become residents of British Columbia as opposed to the Yukon. They would not continue to be our charge, ad infinitum. I do not know what the time lines or the cutoff dates are. I can check into that.
Mr. Lang: I would appreciate that information.
I would like to move into the area of day cares. How many day cares have we purchased over the past year?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am sorry. I missed the question.
Mr. Lang: How many day cares have we purchased over the past year?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Purchased?
Mr. Lang: Rather, how many non-profit organizations have we financed to purchase day cares, is a better way of putting it.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member is asking how many new spaces have been created, or is the Member talking about conversions from profit to non-profit? Will the Member please clarify his question?
Mr. Lang: Call it what you may. Perhaps from the governments point of view it is called going from profit to non-profit, where the government front-ends the money through a non-profit organization to purchase a private day care. How many have we purchased over this past year? Which ones were they, and for how much?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not have that detail with me. I will be prepared to report on that at the main estimates, if that will satisfy the Member. If I can get the information earlier, I will.
Mr. Lang: Perhaps I will outline the information I would like: the number of private day cares that have been purchased by the government through a non-profit entity, or any other method the government has employed to purchase day cares. I do not know of any others, but if there are, I would like to know about them. I would like to know the amount of money that has been paid for them. For those day cares that have been purchased, how much money was paid in grants over the past five years to provide equipment and other accessories to the day cares, whatever government financing has been made available, whether it was through Health and Human Resources or the community development fund?
The information was provided to me for Carols Day Care. Unfortunately, my file has been mislaid. It is my fault, but I cannot find the information. Could the Minister provide me with the information on that particular day care, as well? I know he provided it once before, but I have misplaced the information. If he could provide that as well when we get into the main estimates, I would appreciate it.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will provide that information, including the one that he has just mentioned. I have knowledge of two situations where there are new owners and there may have been some government funding involved. Rather than depend on my memory, I will come back with the numbers that the Member has requested.
Mr. Lang: I would appreciate it if I could have it if it is possible sometime early next week because I would like some time to look at it before I come into the House for the purpose of debate.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will get that particular information to the Member as soon as I can.
Mr. Lang: I would like to move on to another area if I could then, and that is the question of physiotherapy and the question of the hospital. Could the Minister update us in respect to the situation with physiotherapy being provided at the hospital? The reason I ask this is that over at least a portion of the summer the physiotherapists were almost over taxed with people who had to be treated and subsequently a lot of people were having to go elsewhere, primarily to private physiotherapy, and to pay for it themselves. With some of these people, especially the elderly, it is quite expensive. I am just wondering if the Minister could update us in respect to this situation.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I should explain to the Member that I do not have any notes on that subject for this supplementary so I cannot provide the Member with any recent information. I do recall, myself, this summer that there was a point at which there was some question about physiotherapy waiting lists and access to the hospital base services.
The best thing I can do for the Member is to take that question as notice. I do know that the Member for Riverdale North was asking about the difficulty we had recruiting both for the homecare program and for the Macaulay program part-time occupational therapists and physiotherapists. Those are the ones who work for us as opposed to the ones who work for the feds. That problem has been solved to the extent that what we have done is to combine two half-time positions into one full-time position to work for both programs. In fact, it is much easier to attract someone, it turns out, to a full-time position because we have a number of qualified applicants for the job. I happen to know that from current information, so that may help in terms of some of the demand for those services in the community. Rather than just leaving it at that, I will again, at the time of the mains, take note of the questions and I will come back and be prepared to talk about the physiotherapy situation.
Mr. Lang: I look forward to getting into debate on that subject because I think there are going to be some questions raised as to how physiotherapy fits into the question of medicare and what we can do to assist in some manner and at the same time get best value for our dollar.
I would like to go on to another area and it is a question on the alcohol programs that are run by the government. The area I would like to discuss for a few minutes is the question of the treatment centre that I believe was built out in the Tagish area, the Yahananx centre. I understand there was LEOP money made available for the facility. The Minister is looking puzzled by this and if he does not have the information for me now, I will alert him once again for what may be a long discussion when we get to the main estimates.
The Minister has indicated that this is not directly involved with his department but it is a question of alcohol treatment facilities and I am sure there must have been consultation with the department prior to going ahead with such a facility.
There are some very serious allegations made by a previous employee of the facility. We have territorial money involved in that particular facility and I think it should be checked out. It should not be discounted. There are a number of outstanding questions. We gave a community grant for it, yet I understand there were no building permits sought, nor given, for the facility and I would like to know why. The Minister for Government Services asks where this is. This is in Tagish last year.
The other allegation that has been made is that the fire marshal has deemed the structure to be a fire hazard. I would like to know if that is verified. Also there are allegations that monies were made available either through the federal government or territorial government, $37 for a curriculum manual, and there are some allegations that $19,000 is gone with no accounting for it. I can provide a copy of this letter for the Minister that went to Audrey McLaughlin, but it should be cleared up one way or the other.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As a citizen, I am generally aware of the project to which the Member refers. I would be happy to have a copy of his letter and give an undertaking that we will try to provide what answers we can. As far as I know there was no special provision made by the Department of Health and Human Resources for this facility. The Member says there may have been community development fund money in it and I will check into that and the allegations that are made.
What is relevant to the whole discussion about alcohol treatment is that a number of communities and groups in the last couple of years have developed proposals for treatment centres. That has happened at the same time that a critique has been made from an aboriginal point of view of the Crossroads program. The Crossroads board has been attempting to deal with that critique because the consequence of the federal funding that is destined for the native people being lost to that facility would be quite serious in terms of its operations. We could not simply pick up the slack if the feds stopped funding their share of the cost of that operation.
There are a whole raft of proposals being made by different people for different kinds and methods of alcohol treatment. One of the things that I think we told the House some months ago on this question is that we are having a look at our programs. The research project that I discussed in the Executive Council supplementary, which is a project funded by National Health and Welfare, was a baseline study on alcohol and drug abuse use and abuse questions in the territory, which is being done through Carleton University Official Statistics Branch, National Health and Welfare, similar to studies being done across the country. This is going to give us for the first time some real solid data research on which to take a look at the policy. We intend to have the results of that survey, either late this year or early in the new year, available for analysis and discussion by the people involved in the field. In the alcohol and drug abuse services there are some things like detox for which there is great demand and sometimes the place is full and, in fact, quite crowded.
There are many other programs in this territory now that are provided either by the federal government or by the territorial government and in some cases, in some small ways, by municipal government, certainly by band councils and as well some by private organizations. There is a wide variety of opinion about how effective each and every one of these programs are. I think it is fair to say that none of them are consistently effective for every single client. Needless to say, we are moving to a time - and I think this will probably happen for the health and social services council and some of the other bodies that are interested in this - where we will want to have a major review of the general approaches and programs and the effectiveness of all of these in this field. I think that will likely happen very early in the next calendar year, maybe not in this fiscal year but in the next calendar year.
Now, regarding the particular project that the Member is talking about at Tagish, I do not know if the Department of Health and Human Resources had any money in it. I will check. I probably would have known about it if we had. It may well have had community development fund money. It may have had access to other programs, federal and maybe even some private sources; I do not know. If the Member provides me with a copy of the letter to which he made reference, I will check it out and respond as well as I can.
Mr. Lang: We are dealing with two separate issues here. First of all, I will deal with the question of the treatment centre. I am more than prepared to provide a copy of the letter to the Minister, and I think it should be checked out. The correspondence refers to LEOP, so it may have been a couple of years ago so the financing is going to have to be checked out.
I also would like the Minister to check out that when these facilities are being built, even through interest groups or whatever, why building permits are not necessary and all the necessary, along with all the other things that apply to anyone building a new structure under our laws. It concerns me a great deal, and I would like to think the Minister would share this with me. If it is government money - whether it be federal or territorial - it comes from the same taxpayer one way or the other, and has to be administered in such a manner that it is spent properly. So I would ask him to check that out.
The other area I want to touch on is the question of alcohol programs and how they are working. I would like some information on - I do not know whether you would refer to them as repeat offenders or the recidivism of clients, because I sense that there seems to be quite a number who are going through the program and then coming back over a period of time. I, for one, as a taxpayer, think there comes a time when we have to say, Look this is not a right; this is a privilege. People cannot expect all of a sudden just to keep coming back and keep coming back. There is the responsibility of the individual. With the undertaking by the Minister that a review of the program is going to be taking place, I think there has got to be some terms of reference regarding the options available for those administering the program, vis-a-vis government, that dictates when the responsibility finally rests with the client. I think it is very important that we start to recognize that there has to be a mutual respect here, because if there is not, then I think we are putting air in a flat tire. I really question if that is our role as government. We are there to assist but not to be used.
I think there is a difference, so I would look for a review of these programs and I would like to see the results of them, because I think that it is fairly important that we look, in the 1990s, at where we are going in this particular area and how we combine and integrate many of the facets of our alcohol and social programs. I can tell you this: if somebody is drinking every day, it is not an inexpensive sport. It is very expensive. If one is not working and is going in this direction, my question is: from where are they getting the money? I think it is a legitimate question.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will try to respond to all of the Members questions. First of all, I think the question that he asked about the building code and the project is a fair question, and - even though I do not have direct responsibility for that - I will take notice of the question and make sure an answer is provided.
The second question is much more difficult and I hope I can explain why to the Member. By definition, an alcoholic is not a person in control of their life. I cannot give the Member, off the top of my head, any data about what he calls recidivism or repeat visits to a facility like Crossroads. If the Member thinks about the people he knows who may have been clients of Crossroads, he may know, as I do, people who went there in the course of a long career of drunkenness, sometimes three or four times. They went there with good intentions and they stayed through the program with good intentions and perhaps stayed dry for awhile afterwards and then fell off the wagon. I know some people who did go there two or three times before they got control of the situation enough that they were able to lead clean and sober lives. I know others who may have been there several times who have not yet done that.
I understand what the Member is talking about as the costs, but I think it is a real tricky proposition to say to someone who says, Look, I really want to straighten myself out; I want to come into this program; I know I have been there two or three times before but I know that this time I can really do it, and then say to them, No, you cannot; you have been here two or three times before and we have got to say no. I am not comfortable with that idea. I think drying out or getting straight, or whatever expression you want to use, is not an easy proposition for some people, especially if they have been abusing alcohol for a long, long time. So I would have to think about what the Member is saying some more.
Let us take a worst case scenario; someone who is not working, whose family is broken down, who does not have any housing and is still spending every penny they can get on booze is obviously on a pretty suicidal course.
I am aware of some of the ways in which some of those people get money. I am painfully aware how serious drug users, even in this city, just like the big cities, get the money to feed their habit. There is a spiralling of costs to the health system, as well as to the criminal justice system and the police. There are all sorts of private citizens who get their cars boosted or their houses broken into. There are a lot of costs associated with it. It is a problem that is worth trying to solve. If by trying, even the third or fourth time, to help someone get straight by readmitting them into a program they have been through before but did not work, I am still inclined to believe that that is a better bet than just sending them back out onto the street to do whatever they do to get the money to feed their alcohol or drug habit.
Mr. Lang: I realize it is a tricky situation, but I do not think we should run away from our responsibility to see whether or not there are new ways and ideas that can be put into programs, so the individuals involved realize their responsibility. We can sit there and say it takes four, five or six times to dry out, depending on the individual. We all know people who have gone through the process, and it is not a nice situation to watch.
As an elected representative, I think we have a responsibility, as government, to try to build into these programs some responsibility the client eventually has. It is too easy for us to give in and give it away and say that is life, that is the way people are, and we are going to accept that. There are ways we should be looking at about what we can do with these programs to try to ensure that these people realize that this is not just a free ride, that it is something that is being made available to them from their fellow citizens to help them out.
Sometimes, I feel we are being used, and I do not think that is right. I made the point earlier about somebody who has got to the point where they are an alcoholic, which is an expensive pastime. That money has to be coming from somewhere. In some ways, it is coming from some aspects of government to assist this. I am concerned that we would be seen to be contributing to it in any way, shape or form. It is something that should be looked at.
The Minister probably shares my concern. I am looking for ways by which we can correct it to some degree. I was pleased to hear him say that programs are going to be reviewed. The other element of it is that we are getting so many different programs, and a lot of the money is being spent just on the administration of specific programs, separate and apart from each other, especially when you look at the programs that were being provided through the YTG and, at the same time, through the native organizations. There is not a great deal of money available for programs through that method, as well.
I think there has to be a meshing of this and perhaps revisions of our programs, and maybe theirs, to see how we can work together on these programs. Perhaps the Minister could provide to the House how much money in the past three years has been allocated for the various alcohol programs run by the native organizations in the Yukon.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will try to get that information. My best source may be from the federal public accounts, which means it will be at least a year old, but I will try to do what I can. If I can find out from the delivery agencies what it is, I will. I understand what the Member is saying, but I go back to the first point I made that by definition an alcoholic or drug addict is not someone who is in control of their life. Most of the programs, whatever their approach, ultimately involve trying to get people to have enough awareness and enough self esteem to get control of their lives, to become masters of their own fates instead of hooked on whatever it is they are hooked on. Changing habits or changing the way people live is not an easy proposition. I am sure all of us know that.
I think that the people in the field do a remarkable job, but they will usually tell you that you need a fairly unique coincidence of circumstances to make a recovery program work. You need the willing client, you need the right program, but you also need the right time. Often, a client who will do best has a supportive family or perhaps has a new job, or has some kind of positive things happening in their lives to enable them to break out of the old mold. To be frank, a person whose life is a mess in every other respect, whose marriage has fallen apart, has lost a job or are just moving from UIC to welfare or whatever is probably someone still on the slide and not a great candidate for recovery. I think it would be something horribly wrong with government unilaterally making a decision and not allowing the person, if they felt they wanted to try, to gain access to whatever services we can provide, if we can help them.
Mr. Lang: Yes, I intend to pursue this further in the main estimates. I think it is an area that we should take a thorough look at. The Minister indicated that he would have to go to the public accounts for how much money is being made available to the native organizations for the purpose of the alcohol and drug program. Could not the Minister approach the various federal departments to find out how much has been allocated over the course of this year to give us a current understanding of how much money is being spent in this area?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Sure, I could to that, but I also know, having said that, that that would not give a complete answer because there may be money coming from sources I do not know anything about. I happen to know, for example, that there are a couple of national private foundations that are contributing money to programs in the Yukon. There are non-government organizations such as Four Worlds, I think it is, that are active in some communities trying to work in this field. There are organizations like the Salvation Army. They do not provide any programs discretely to the Indian community, but they are active in this field. There is no government accounting of any cost although I would argue, and I think the Member would probably agree, the contribution that we make to them for the halfway house, I suspect, is in an indirect way a cost of alcohol abuse. I suspect a very significant number of the clients in there are people who have ended up in jail in the first place as the result of alcohol-abuse problems, in the same way that a very significant root cause of some of our health care expenditures is alcohol abuse. In fact, I have heard physicians say to me recently that alcohol would be a primary, secondary or tertiary cause of death in a very large number of the violent deaths in the Yukon Territory. The costs are quite enormous, whether you are looking at the justice system or if you are looking at the health system or if you are looking at the corrections system or if you are looking at even our social services.
Mr. Lang: I do not disagree with that. I look forward to hearing exactly how many programs are being administered, to the best of our knowledge, to try to get a handle on what we are dealing with. The Minister, just off the top of his head, named at least four or five different programs and I am sure there are another four or five out there. It would be interesting for all elected Members to say: look, what are we doing and where are we going with this?
I just want to move on to another area, if I could, and that is the question of foster homes. The Minister issued a press release about a month ago that tried to encourage people to become involved in foster homes. As the Minister knows, I wrote a letter to him as a MLA, on behalf of a constituent of mine, because of the situation they were confronted with when they assumed the responsibility of a foster home. Could the Minister provide me with the number of people who have been involved as foster parents, who have subsequently been in a situation where there have been investigations and various other things take place?
Could the Minister provide me with that during the main estimates?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I thought the Member was going to ask me about total numbers of foster homes, and so forth, which I can do. I cannot tell him about ones where there have been investigations, off the top of my head.
We are also reviewing the foster home services and the schedule of supports that we provide to foster parents, financial and otherwise, the method by which we do home studies, and a whole range of things around the foster parent programs. Last year, when we were discussing the estimates, the kind of kids who are coming into care and requiring foster care is changing somewhat. We are getting more older kids. Interestingly enough, in the last little while, we are getting more non-native kids coming into care for various reasons.
I will take the Members question as notice and be prepared to debate that question more extensively during the main estimates.
Mr. Lang: I will be pursuing another area I want to alert the Minister about and that is the question of home care. The question was raised before as to what we can do to expand that program, especially in the area of nursing.
There is one other area where I have concerns, and that is on the question of policy on asbestosis. It has come to my attention that at least one individual, whom I know quite well personally, may have asbestosis. From his accounts, it would be because of his exposure at the Clinton Creek mine. He is an older gentleman, of whom I am sure the Minister is aware.
What recourse does this individual have, if it is true that he has asbestosis? I realize he is probably not eligible for Workers Compensation, because he is retired. I leave it to the Minister to explain to me exactly what steps are open to this individual.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This is a matter of which I have just been advised. I think I know the case the Member is talking about. The citizen has now retained legal counsel to pursue the matter with the Workers Compensation Board, and that board is seized with the matter.
The Member is quite correct that the gentleman would not be eligible for a pension in the normal way of things, because he is retired. He is not losing income from work now, which is the normal basis for pay outs. The Workers Compensation Board does not have any problem recognizing that asbestosis, or asbestos cancers, are work-related illnesses. That is not the issue.
If there turns out to be a lot of cases on this, it might become an issue down the road since, under the basis on which the premiums are set, we would have a bit of a problem, since the company in question is no longer operating in the Yukon Territory. That can often happen with these kinds of industrial illnesses.
It so happens, as I recall, because I am a former asbestos mine employee myself, that the incubation period for asbestosis and asbestos cancer, and so forth, is 20 years. It so happens, it has been 20 years since I was doing that work, so I have a particular interest in this matter myself.
I know of more than one case. I am not free to divulge the names. These are people who were contemporaries of mine at that mine, or at Cassiar, B.C., who appear to have health problems that may - and I emphasize may - be related to exposure to asbestos and that working condition.
One of the Members opposite and I recently attended a funeral of someone else who worked at that thing whose death may have been linked to exposure to that substance. I personally, believe me, think this is a very serious situation. I have, on behalf of the gentleman mentioned, asked to arrange for meetings with the Workers Compensation Board, in fact I think he did meet with the president of the Workers Compensation Board. The Minister responsible arranged a meeting. Although I am not privy to the boardss discussions, I know that the board was taking a look at the question.
Just let me speculate about what can happen with a case. It is not uncommon in industrial parts of the world to discover that 20 years after people were working in a certain plant, 10 years after it closes, there was some toxic or noxious substance in the work environment that is now leading to an unusual number or a greater than predictable number of certain kinds of ailments, sometimes fatal. From an actuarial point of view, apart from the point of view of justice and fairness and health, it is very difficult to account for that. You might reasonably say when talking about assessments on the mining industry, for example, as a result of an unusual number of claims turning up 20 years later, that the mines now operating have nothing to do with that particular substance or that particular product or even those methods, and might object quite strongly to being charged for having to pay for the claims of people that are turning up.
There are a whole bunch of issues around this question that have to be addressed and I am sure they are being addressed by the Workers Compensation Board.
Mr. Lang: In part that is the principle of Workers Compensation. Previous companies that have functioned may well have some of their contributions to the Workers Compensation fund allocated at a later date for some other serious situation such as a bus having an accident with a load of workers on it. Everybody contributes to that in one manner or another. That side of the equation has already been taken care of. I understand the problem the Minister is talking about is that perhaps no rates were being applied 30 years ago and now we are seeing the results of the work place and what has happened to the people.
I would like to ask the Minister if he would provide for me, and I am sure if this work is not being done it should be done in view of the case that we have cited and others that he is aware of, what other jurisdictions have done when confronted with this problem. I am thinking of Quebec in particular, where they had some major asbestos mines at one time. Could the Minister provide information for Members on exactly what they have done when someone has retired and is found to have asbestosis? Is there any compensation and, if so, how?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am enthused about the question, because I will be personally enthusiastic about having that question checked out. I know enough about this problem to know that there is actually some quite awful history around this question. The Member may remember quite a few years ago, in the mid 1970s, the major manufacturer and processor of this product in the United States was a company called Johns Mansville. When faced with several million dollars worth of claims from its workers, it decided to force itself into bankruptcy in order to avoid having to pay them.
Interestingly enough, it re-emerged like a butterfly out of a caterpillar into a new corporate entity, somehow having absolved itself of all its corporate and legal responsibilities to these people. That is still regarded as one of the most morally repugnant events in corporate history in the United States. There is some history in this continent around some very difficult things around just that product, forget some of the other carcinogens that may be around.
I would be happy to have a look at that question. It is particularly apt now, because the EPA in the United States has now decided that asbestos is so dangerous, they do not want it used. For all intents and purposes, the EPA in the United States has essentially shut down the asbestos industry in Canada. Cassiar is still going, but I think it is generally assumed now that the industry does not have a great future, because the markets for that product in the United States are now gone.
Mr. Lang: I cannot comment about the industry. To be frank, I do not know that much about it, or whether or not it is going to continue in the future. My concern is that our workers are adequately protected.
My concern is with the case we are discussing, where the individual is retired - he knows of whom I speak. I am sure they do not have an over abundance of money for retirement purposes. What concerns me is that they now feel forced to get a lawyer. It is a very expensive expense to hire a lawyer to appear on your behalf.
That is where I feel the government has a responsibility. If the Workers Compensation Board is the agency before which the case of this individual has to be heard, perhaps the government should be taking it on as a test case, as opposed to expecting him to pay for it himself.
In this particular case the individual is not that well. I just think it is another psychological burden that is not going to help him at all, along with everything else. I am just wondering if the Minister would consider going back to the Department of Justice to see whether they could assume that responsibility on behalf of that individual as a test case because I think, unfortunately, we are going to have other situations like this. The Minister alluded to it earlier. I think we should get squared away one way or the other just exactly what obligations the government or the Workers Compensation Board are going to face.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will have to think a little bit about what the Member is suggesting because I am not quite sure, when he talks about a test case, what the test case is. Under the compensation system, of course, they contract out of the ability to sue the employer through the workers compensation system. The other option is suing ourselves, but the Workers Compensation is for these purposes. I do not know about the government suing the Workers Compensation Board. I do not know about the legality of that. I would have to ask the Department of Justice. I know, in Britain, government departments can sue each other and it is a wonderful time for lawyers. I have a high opinion of the members of the Workers Compensation Board and the officers of it. I know, in arranging for the gentleman I think we are both speaking about to meet with the president, they did look at the facts. I have been advised about seeing the lawyer and I will put the question to the Department of Justice. But, of course, I think the suggestion the Member makes would very much hinge upon exactly what kind of case we are talking about.
Mr. Lang: I do not expect any snap decision on the floor of the House. I just think it is something that should be taken into consideration. From my exposure to the Workers Compensation Board, I have to say that I feel that the board and the administration is doing a very good job. I had a constituency situation that I had to deal with. I could not have been more pleased; it was expedited and dealt with in a fair and objective manner. I am not questioning the credibility of the board.
But in this case, what I am saying is, the board is not the government. The board is the employers and employees funds; therefore, I am not asking the Department of Health and Human Resources, for example, to be sued by the Department of Justice. I see the Workers Compensation Board as a separate agency. Maybe there is a reason to use this as a test case, because the Minister did announce a policy on asbestosis four or five months ago and the concern over asbestosis. Here we have a very real situation, a very human situation, and I know the financial implications for them and their frustration with the system, which has caused them to seek their own legal counsel.
I am sure it is having an effect on them. I think the Minister and I both share a common cause here. In view of the situation, perhaps it could be used as a test case to sort this out, one way or another. Unfortunately, I think we are going to be looking at other cases in the future.
I take it from the Minister that he is going to look into it and get back to me on it. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Yes.
Chair: Shall we begin line by line?
On Operation and Maintenance
On Health Services
Health Services in the amount of $478,000 agreed to
O&M in the amount of $478,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on recoveries?
Mr. Lang: The Minister gave us a general overview the other day. Could the Minister go over each line item and tell us why we are receiving this money?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Under CAP, we end up negotiating to claim that certain recoveries are our entitlement. Because we are entitled to a certain percentage, based on our expenditures in a wide number of areas, the increase in the recoveries of $1,212,000 results from the two main programs we talked about, which is the negotiated final settlements on the whole number of CAP-assisted programs, and results in an increase of $707,000 to us in recoveries. The second recovery of $505,000 came from claims we made for services we provided to status Indians to the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs. These are recoveries of those monies to the health services branch.
Mr. Lang: I have spoken to someone in one of the provinces, and they were saying that the Government of Canada was changing its policy, as far as the recoveries of native health care is concerned, if I can use that terminology. Can the Minister outline to us what is taking place in this area?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Yes, the federal government has, without discussion with the Indian community or with us, decided to unilaterally end the provision of non-insured health care benefits and is simply assuming that we are going to pick up the tab. The department has written to the federal department, and we have written to advise the chiefs that we are not going to do that without discussions and negotiations. We are very firm on that.
Mr. Lang: Perhaps the Minister can be ready to debate this in the mains, because I would like to know exactly how much money we are talking about. Also, is this position now being taken by the Government of Canada based on the fact that, through our established program financing, we are paid on a per capita basis, and the native population was always taken into account, as far as the established program financing is concerned? How does it work?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not know what the claim is, because I have not heard the federal Minister articulate that kind of argument. This came to us, as far as I know, like a bolt out of the blue. It was fairly sudden. It may well be that, very shortly, we shall be hearing from the federal government exactly what their arguments are about this. Needless to say, given the discussion we have been having with them on other subjects, I am a little disappointed about the way it was announced to us.
Mr. Lang: To my knowledge, it has never really been announced. I just had a conversation with somebody from one of the provinces and they mentioned that there was a change.
I have a question on established program financing. Is that not based on a per capita basis? Is that not the formula that is used for the purposes of allocating dollars to the Yukon and to the provinces - or capital assistance?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No, we do not receive that money directly; it rolls straight into the consolidated revenue fund but it is money - though it has been reduced recently by the federal government - that is intended for post-secondary education and health and expenditures in those areas. I forget exactly what the formula is. Maybe the Minister of Finance can provide us with that information. If the Minister does not have it at his fingertips, I will check and find out myself.
Look, I am being asked a Finance question so I am sure the Minister would be quite upset if I answered it, especially if I answered it incorrectly.
The question is that they have been revoked and the Member opposite is right in the sense that we have not had a formal announcement. I think we discovered that this was going on quite by accident.
Chair: Committee will take a break.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order
On Family and Childrens Services Group Homes
On Group Homes
On Construction & Renovationsenovations
Mr. Lang: I wonder if the Minister could give me a list of exactly where that money is being spent.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not have a detailed list with me. I would have to take this under advisement for the mains because I do not have that information here. I suspect, if you look at the group homes in this list, the young offenders group home later on the list and the other projects, that there actually might be quite a number of little projects that add up to quite a long list. I could not guarantee that I could get it together in, say, 24 hours, but by the mains I will undertake to do that.
Construction & Renovations in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On Whitehorse Transition Home
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This is essentially a revote from last year.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister tell us exactly how much the actual transition home is going to cost?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not have that budget with me but one of the reasons why the $200,000 could not flow last year was they had not yet presented us with the capital budget for their complete program, and our money therefore could not flow because that was one of the conditions. Yes, I can bring back that information.
Whitehorse Transition Home in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On Social Services
On Alcohol & Drug Services
On Facility Construction
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This is a partial revote of the $80,000 requested last year. This $40,000 plus the $240,000 will allow us to complete the planning and architectural phase for the new detoxification facility that we need.
Facility Construction in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
On Health Services
On Extended Care Facility
Extended Care Facility in the amount of an under expenditure of $3,075,000 agreed to
On Macaulay Lodge Renovations
Macaulay Lodge Renovations in the amount of $174,000 agreed to
On Mammography Equipment
Mr. Lang: Regarding the mammography unit, you have allocated $20,000 here, my understanding is it is quite a bit more money than that. Can the Minister give us an outline of exactly how much the whole program is costing?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This is essentially a partial revote of the funds we approved. You may remember that we bought the equipment just before the end of the fiscal year last year. This is some capital costs associated with installation. The Member will note that in the mains there is an amount provided for, and the money was described in the budget speech that we were providing for operating monies, which I seem to remember was $160,000. I am sorry I cannot remember it off the top of my head but it is provided for in next years mains.
Mammography Equipment in the amount $20,000 agreed to
On Whitehorse General Hospital
Whitehorse General Hospital in the amount of $30,000 agreed to
On Juvenile Justice
On Young Offenders Facility
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I described in my comments earlier about the expenditures for the young offenders facility that were about the sally-port entrance and the fencing around the perimeter of the property. I think I mentioned that was indicated to us in terms of the final enhancement to the security of the building to make it as completely secure as we could, following our incident last year.
Mr. Lang: I would ask the Minister to undertake this if he could for the main estimates. I would like to know exactly, up to date, how much money we have spent for the new young offenders facility from when we began construction to where we are now. The total amount of money.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The estimated amount as was budgeted in 1988 was $3,537,756. The actual construction costs of the original facility were $3,214,000. The additional improvements that have been made in the last budget and in this, in terms of the fencing, sally-port entrance, all the things that we have done, have added $282,900 to a total of $3,496,900 that still, with those additions, means the project is $40,856 below the original capital budget.
Mr. Lang: The Minister forgets to tell us that the building is a lot smaller in size than what it was supposed to be under the estimates that were provided to the House about three years ago. So we have two-thirds the size of the building that originally was estimated for the amount of money that he is talking about so I do not want the Minister to get too comfortable in trying to convince us what a good deal he has made on behalf of the taxpayers.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am not trying to make that case at all. Believe me, the Member does not contribute to my comfort. I do not want get into a comparison of the original $6 million estimate cost for a 24-bed facility. We are talking about a 12-bed facility and we are talking about it coming in at $3.5 million. But I am only just telling the Member that even with those additions, it is still under the capital budget. I am not claiming any particular credit for that, I am just saying that is what the numbers add up to.
Young Offenders Facility in the amount of $175,000 agreed to
On Group Homes
Mr. Lang: I am wondering if the Minister could provide for me in the main estimates exactly how much has been spent on 501 Taylor, including the purchase price up to now. Also, I noticed that he has got $120,000 for the purpose of putting, I believe, a new roof on 305 Lambert. I really question whether or not we should be proceeding with that. Perhaps we should be looking at some alternate kind of accommodation if I am thinking about the same building, the one close by the liquor store.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The roof we are talking about is on 5030 5th Avenue. We are talking about an interior retrofit and renovations and a new heating or furnace system at 305 Lambert Street. That is the one next to the liquor store, the big square building that is actually much larger than most group homes. It has had a number of uses over its life.
Mr. Lang: Has that money already been spent?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not think it has been spent but I cannot guarantee that work has not been started. I will find that out.
Mr. Lang: I guess I am asking the Minister if maybe a second look should be taken at this whole building. Should we be putting $120,000 into this building in view of where it is located? Maybe we should be looking at some alternate kind of accommodation. If we spend $120,00, we will still have an old building.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As I recall, there are something like 12 or more beds in that facility. I know the building is old and the last time I went through it, it was not a particularly attractive building; it really needed work and we are going to continue to use it. I suspect that even though $125,000 is a lot of renovations, we would have trouble acquiring 12 beds for anything like that price. We would have to spend a lot more to do it if we were, say, buying a house or a couple of houses to do it.
I will take a look at the proposal, as suggested by the Member, but it is, as I recall it, in terms of numbers of beds and amount of space there, much larger than most group homes. I am not sure that there is another obvious, good use for it that the department has at the moment.
Mr. Lang: I was looking at the property we are dealing with. I do not know if an evaluation was done on it, but let us assume it is worth $120,000 or $150,000, or even $200,000. If you could sell that property and take the additional $120,000, you are suddenly in a situation where you have $300,000 or $400,000, which the government could put into a new facility. I question putting $120,000 into this building. I do not know how far it dates back, but when you are finished, you are not going to have much.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Let me take a look at that and report back to the Member when we get to the main estimates.
Group Homes in the amount of $300,000 agreed to
On Regional Services
On Safe Homes in Rural Yukon
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This is a revote of the funds that were intended for the Watson Lake safe home project, which will be going ahead this year.
Safe Homes in Rural Yukon in the amount of $75,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of an under expenditure of $1,961,000 agreed to
Health and Human Resources agreed to
Department of Justice
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I have a brief explanation as to what these expenditures are for in the supplementary estimate. The overall operation and maintenance expenditures projected for the 1990-91 fiscal year total $23,273,000, with operation and maintenance recoveries of $659,000, partially offsetting this expenditure level. As a result, net operation and maintenance expenditures total $22,514,000.
Variances in the administration, court services, Attorney General, justice services and solicitor general programs were partially offset by internal efficiencies in the policy and planning program. The combined variance for the Department of Justice is $2,474,000.
Overall capital expenditures for the 1990-91 fiscal year are expected to total $129,000, with capital recoveries in the amount of $24,000. This reduces the net capital expenditures to $105,000. Variances in the Attorney General, French language agreement and justice services mine safety program are responsible for the capital variance of $107,000. I have an explanation, as we go line by line.
Mrs. Firth: I am prepared to go line by line.
On Operation and Maintenance
Hon. Ms. Joe: The $16,000 is for the victims of crime program. They have an expenditure of $120,000 and they have had quite a number of clients and awards made. The victims of crime program has experienced an increase in the number of claims they have received. The projected variance represents the estimate of projected claims and expenditures in the victims of crime program. We have experienced a number of additional clients this year, much more so than in the past, and I am not sure whether that is an indication there are more victims of crime or whether more of them are coming forward, so we are asking for $16,000.
Mrs. Firth: I had heard that the victims of crime compensation fund had run out of money and this was the first time it had ever happened. I know it has only been in effect for a couple of years. The Minister says she does not know if it is because more people are coming forward. Can the Minister provide us with a reason why? It has to be because there are more people claiming. Can the Minister give us some idea of what kinds of claims are being dealt with? I know of maybe one or two personally where people have come to see me, but I would imagine that that kind of information would be public as long as names are not associated with the kinds of claims being made. If I could also have information as to the legal representation that is encouraging the individuals to come forward, because we may see certain trends where some lawyers are referring more people to the victims of crime compensation program than others. If she can provide us with that information, it would be very helpful.
Hon. Ms. Joe: We are experiencing a large number of these victims coming forward, much moreso than previous years. In previous years we have not reached the allocated number, in the last couple of years anyhow. We did not expect that we would even reach this number this year. But certainly we are getting a lot more. They include physical abuse of some kind: some sexual abuse, some physical abuse. There are individuals who represent them. In some cases lawyers do, and in some other cases individuals from the Kaushees Place or some other place who are more involved in the kind of an incident that might have occurred in regard to this. They are not always approved. But in many cases they are. I know we have had young victims coming forward, boys and girls, in regard to awards made to them. There have been some victims who have come forward who have been assaulted in some way who have had to miss work and have been compensated for a certain period of time. I would have no difficulty presenting to the Member a listing of these cases.
I think that lawyers are starting to get more involved, moreso than before and I do not know if that is because the program itself is being advertised more but we do have a brochure for victims of crime with an application form attached to it and that is available in a number of areas for those victims who might want to take advantage of it.
Mrs. Firth: I would appreciate receiving that information just so that I am specific with the kind of information that we would like. Could we have listings of the different kinds of assaults that are presented and some idea of the compensation paid? And then, if the government is making any observations as to if it is legal representation, who the lawyers are. If it is others, I would be happy with just stating other. I will look forward to reviewing that when it comes time for the main budget debates.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I do not know if the Member is aware that the Workers Compensation Board is the board that hears the cases. I actually had a meeting with them today and we talked about the program in regard to the costs and what is causing the costs to rise. I will have the information that she has asked for prior to the main estimates.
Administration in the amount of $16,000 agreed to
On Court Services
Hon. Ms. Joe: The $97,000 indicates $71,000 for the increase in the remuneration for justices of the peace. We have provided the $71,000, but it is reflected here because the money representing that has been taken out of other branches. As we go through the budget, I will indicate to the Member when that occurs. Right here, we are showing that we have asked for an additional $71,000. The JPs have not had an increase since 1983, and they have indicated that they would be losing some of their JPs if they continued to be paid what they were being paid before. That has happened.
In addition to that, $16,000 is for travel for the Supreme Court. This court is now travelling and holding court in some communities, and those are additional expenditures we have had to provide for. There is also an additional $10,000. The Supreme Court circuit also generates a variance in rental expenses associated with renting local community facilities to hold court circuit in those communities.
Mrs. Firth: What were the JP salaries, and what have they been increased to? How many JPs do we have? Has the number increased? A couple of sessions ago, we had talked about the JP programs starting up, and I know they have. I have seen news releases to that effect. Are there any communities that do not have JPs? Old Crow was the only one that did not, and that may still be the case.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I do not have the specific amounts. They are registered under the regulations, but I can provide that information to the Member.
We have appointed some new JPs. We have appointed Alice Frost in Old Crow, Joanne Smith in Dawson, and I cannot remember the name of the person in Haines Junction. We have appointed three or four new people. We have had some new appointments, and we are trying to make sure that there is a JP in every community. I think we have reached that goal. Some people have resigned, and we have had to replace them. Some people have moved from communities or have left the territory, so we have had some revocations, as well. I will provide that information to the Member.
Mrs. Firth: We always ask the question about the gender parity. I know that was one of the Ministers goals. Can she also report on that?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I can provide that. There were recommendations from the Judicial Council, and they gave me a list of individuals, both men and women. They were aware that we were looking for gender parity and have provided some very good names to me. We are still waiting for some final information back on some of the other people, but I think we did appoint three women and, possibly, one more. I will provide that information, because I cannot remember the names right now.
Court Services in the amount of $97,000 agreed to
On Attorney General
Hon. Ms. Joe: There was one dollar budgeted for this item in the last budget. We are asking for $20,000. Traditionally, the activity of costs and judgments is entered in the main estimates at a value of one dollar. This is to reflect the uncertainty of expenditure levels for this activity. Based on expenditure levels to period 4, the Department of Justice is projecting a variance in this activity of $20,000.
With respect to the $408,000, traditionally, the litigation cost activity, which includes the retention of outside counsel and professional services, is entered on the main estimates at a value of one dollar. Again, this is to reflect the uncertainty of expenditure levels based on the experience of the Department of Justice. To date, a variance on this activity is projected. A breakdown of the exact amounts that comprise the $408,000 total will be made available to the Member opposite by way of a legislative return. That has already been done.
Under the French language agreement, conversion of existing statutes is to occur over time. A variance is projected for this conversion in 1990-91, but it is 100 percent recoverable from the federal government under the French language agreement.
Mrs. Firth: I have some questions about the major portion of this $408,000 for litigation costs. I can see that this cost is increasing every year, when I look at previous budgets. The Minister has given me a list of civil and construction litigation, and the numbers for the others. There is still no mention of wrongful dismissal cases. Is that because the Ministers department is not handling that, or is her other department, the Public Service Commission, dealing with the wrongful dismissal suits?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The only wrongful dismissal that is being handled through the Department of Justice is the one of Jim Davie. I do not have the information on things before the Human Rights Commission. Today, I was informed that there is only the one case.
Mrs. Firth: That was the one I was aware of. I just wanted to know through which department it was being handled. When I did not see it on the list, I thought something had happened to it.
I have some concern about the cost of this particular area increasing. With budgets getting tighter, I am concerned that Justice is having to foot the bill for all these litigation costs. There are no charge-backs made to the other departments, for example, the Department of Government Services, or Education, or Health and Human Resources, who are client departments of Government Services. I am concerned that the Justice budget is going to suffer in other areas because of this increasing number of litigation suits.
What is the Minister and her department doing with respect to this particular issue? Are they concerned about it? How are their budgets going to hold up under the additional financial pressure of having to pay for these lawsuits?
Hon. Ms. Joe: We are concerned about the increase in the cost in the past years. Last year, it was $271,000, and the year before it was $137,000. So, it has risen. Right now, our biggest cost is the old case on the Yukon College regarding the ventilation system. That is still ongoing. It is not going to court. There are ongoing negotiations as to how we are going to do it. A cost such as $408,000 has to come from somewhere, and Justice has the responsibility of providing that service. I can only hope that the cost will go down.
Mrs. Firth: I guess the other alternative is that the general coffers of the government will have to continue to provide supplementary funds for this and not request that the department find it within their budget. My concern is that the department not be asked to find it within their own budget. We are going to have a huge increase with police services this next budget, we have litigation costs increasing, and Justice needs the money it has for the administration and service of justice in the Yukon, which is also taking a beating. I am looking for some reassurance from the Minister that, when she goes to Management Board to look for the money, she will not have difficulty getting her supplementary estimates approved for litigation costs. If she is, I will have to go after the Minister of Government Services, the Minister of Education, and the Minister of Health and Human Resources, who are responsible for all these litigation costs.
Hon. Ms. Joe: Prior to this year, the costs did come from those individual departments. They have now been turned back to Justice. If I find I am having a problem getting it from general revenue, then I will make that suggestion back to them. For now, it is all coming from Justice.
Mrs. Firth: I do not want to get into every one of these litigations that the Minister has listed, but perhaps I could get some indication of how long some of them have been going on. I have a list of them. Have we got any that have been going on for years? The college one is probably one of the most lengthy ones. The Porter Creek C one has been going on for some time. I would like to get some indication from the Minister as to how often reviews are made. Do we just carry on and does the government just keep going on and on and on? Or do they, at some point, cut it off and say that it is hopeless, and that good money is just being thrown after bad. Perhaps the Minister could give me some indication of exactly what the process is and how they keep it in check.
Hon. Ms. Joe: As I said, we do have the responsibility of dealing with these things as they arise, but they are reviewed monthly. We have a good indication of what we have to deal with at that time. I do not think that a time will come when we will say that we are sorry, there is no more money left, because we do have the responsibility to deal with these as they arise. I can only hope that the cases will not increase. I do not like spending this money any more than the Member for Riverdale South does. I will provide the Member with the information in regard to the cases and how long we have been dealing with them, just a very brief listing of what they are for. I have got some in front of me but not all, so the kind of information I have got I can provide to the Member.
Attorney General in the amount of $536,000 agreed to
On Justice Services
Hon. Ms. Joe: As part of the devolution of the mine safety program, managerial and clerical support staff positions have been devolved. Program material and supplies funding has been made available, as well. That is $200,000, and that is recoverable. The Department of Justice has initiated the risk-reduction program under the occupational health and safety unit. This is in the amount of $131,000, and that is also recoverable.
The additional $17,000 is a reallocation for the increase in the payments to justices of the peace.
Justice Services in the amount of $314,000 agreed to
On Solicitor General
Hon. Ms. Joe: I will give a quick listing of this. The $84,000 is for the increased supplies, food, utilities and communication cost at the correctional centre due to increased inmate counts and the rising cost in these expenditure areas. Twenty-nine thousand dollars has gone to the justice of the peace salary increase, and the additional $1,486,000 is for the police services contract increases estimate, provided by the RCMP. The Member knows that we fund 70 percent of these costs.
Because the time is moving on, I will provide a listing tomorrow to this House in regard to all those expenditures that are included in this $1.4 million. I have it here right now, but I will provide that tomorrow.
I move that we 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?
Ms. Kassi: 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 the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:27 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled November 21, 1990:
Government of the Yukon Annual Report, 1989-90 (Penikett)
NDP-CYI Special Relationship Questioned - Whitehorse Star paid ad dated June 2, 1982 (M. Joe)
The following Legislative Returns were tabled November 21, 1990:
Yukon Development Corporation: Financial matters re 7716 Yukon Ltd. (Yukon Indian Development Corporation, Liard Band and Kaska Council) and Watson Lake sawmill (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 131
Yukon Development Corporation: Financial matters re 7028 Yukon Ltd. (Yukon Pacific Forest Products Ltd.) and Watson Lake sawmill powerhouse (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 131
Yukon Development Corporation: Funds loaned to Receiver/Manager of Watson Lake sawmill (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 131
Yukon Development Corporation: Legal fees re Watson Lake sawmill (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 131
Yukon Development Corporation: Financial information re Watson Lake sawmill (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 131
Yukon Development Corporation agreement with Confederation Life Insurance Company re Old Yukon College (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 201
Yukon Development Corporation: re Watson Lake sawmill and partially built bridge over Rancheria River (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 216
Loan guarantees (McDonald)
Oral, Hansard, p. 209
Mining in Kluane North: mineral potential, and need to protect other resource values (McDonald)
Response to petition received by Assembly November 13, 1990