Wednesday, May 8, 1991 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time, we will proceed with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Introduction of Visitors.
Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Webster: I have for tabling a legislative return.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I have a legislative return for tabling.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have the Department of Education Annual Report and a legislative return for tabling.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have for tabling a couple of legislative returns.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introductions of Bills.
Notices of Motion for the Productions of Papers.
Notices of Motion.
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Lang: I give notice of motion
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the national anthem, O Canada should be sung by students in Yukon schools prior to the beginning of each school day.
Speaker: Statements by Ministers.
Old Crow flood situation
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I rise to inform Members of the most current situation facing Old Crow.
As I indicated yesterday during Question Period, the community of Old Crow was aware of the potential for flooding about a week ago and began preparations for a possible evacuation.
Water levels began rising Friday evening and elders were moved to higher ground in the new subdivision yesterday.
At 6:00 p.m. last night, the Emergency Measures Organization did a fly-over survey of the river and confirmed there was an ice jam, beginning about two miles downstream from the village and extending for approximately 19 miles further downstream.
Officials met with the EMO coordinator in Old Crow, Mr. Kay, and concluded that no immediate evacuation was necessary. The flight returned to Dawson City and was placed on stand-by.
When communications were lost shortly after 4:30 this morning, instructions were given for a fixed-wing flight and a helicopter flight to fly from Dawson City to Old Crow at first light.
A fixed wing aircraft was to monitor the river and a helicopter was to deliver the EMO communications expert and short-wave radio equipment to Old Crow to re-establish communications. An EMO fixed wing reconnaissance flight at 10:00 a.m. this morning showed that 80 percent of the airport runway was covered by water. Communications have now been restored with portable equipment. That was done at 12:00 noon today. Preliminary reports at this time indicate that water levels in the community range from a few inches to a few feet, depending on the location. We also understand that water has been rising and receding throughout the night and continues to do so.
We are advised also that everyone in Old Crow is reported to be fine and no one, other than the elders, have been moved to higher ground. There is no immediate danger requiring evacuation.
It has come to our attention that a second ice jam has been observed 100 miles upstream near the Bell River; it is being kept under observation. The main power supply to Old Crow is still on.
Our EMO communications is currently appraising the situation with the emergency measures coordinator in Old Crow and we will have reports on the overall situation as it develops. I will keep Members informed.
Canada/Yukon economic development agreement
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I also have the pleasure of apprising Members of another development this week. It gives me tremendous pleasure to inform the House today of an event that will substantially affect the growth and the diversification of the Yukon economy over the next five years. I am referring to the recent signing of the Yukon/Canada economic development agreement.
Let me say to Members that if there ever was an instrument of government that could truly meet the very distinct development needs of industry and small business in the Yukon, I believe that this is it. Before I describe the agreement, I would like to take the opportunity to recognize the extensive work and effort my predecessor in this department, the Hon. Minister of Education, has put into this deal. He was determined to put an agreement into place that was best for the Yukon. I believe that all Members should congratulate him for that.
This is, by far, the richest EDA signed between the two governments to date. It makes $37.85 million available over the duration of the five year agreement. A total of $26.5 million of that amount will come from the federal government, in accordance with a 70/30 cost sharing arrangement.
In response to consultations with the Council for Yukon Indians, industry associations, the Chambers of Commerce and other valued advisors, the agreement has been specifically designed to ensure increased flexibility in programming and to include more efficient and effective decision making structures.
I am also pleased to report to Members that, as was promised by this government prior to the negotiation of the agreement, the federal and Yukon governments will be joined in the management of the six EDA program agreements by representatives from the Council for Yukon Indians and industry groups.
All six of the program - or cooperation agreements, as they are called - have been designed to meet the needs of industry and business in the Yukon today. It also reaffirms the economic objectives of this government set out in Yukon 2000 and the Yukon Economic Strategy. I would like to outline some of the highlights of the agreement.
Through the cooperation agreement on mineral resources, $9 million will be invested in the development of the Yukons mining and exploration industry. This is a significant contribution when compared with similar provincial/federal mineral agreements throughout Canada. For example, B.C.s new mineral development agreement will amount to only $10 million over the next five years.
A further $9 million will be channeled into the sustainable development of renewable resources, through a cooperation agreement for that sector.
It also includes components designed to address environmental initiatives. Among them are measures to support the development of environmental businesses. As well, $9 million will be directed toward this governments continued support of the Yukons growing tourism industry. The new program agreement has been developed to promote cooperation in marketing efforts between businesses and to enhance professionalism throughout the tourism industry. The program will also be used to support industry objectives such as the increase in international tourism revenues, the development of products demanded by key markets, the strengthening of industry associations, and the creation of a positive business and investment climate.
The economic planning cooperation agreement will contribute $5 million toward this governments support for community-driven economic planning with an increased focus on the implementation of that planning. The new agreement will also direct resources for training and will continue to provide support for regional and sectoral studies.
A further $3 million will be available through the small business support program, which has had its mandate broadened substantially from its former focus on the manufacturing and processing sectors to ensure a more flexible response to a wider range of applicants.
This approach also incorporates a specific emphasis on meeting the fundamental training needs of small businesses.
Finally, I am particularly pleased to advise Members that an entirely new cooperation agreement has been created to meet the specific requirements of forestry development. A total of $2,850,000 will be invested in this sector as a fulfillment of this governments commitment to support both economic diversification and the development of the Yukons forest industry.
A note should be made at this point on the status of the implementation of this agreement. The mineral, renewable resources and planning cooperation agreements are now in effect. The remaining three still await Treasury Board approval, which, in the case of the tourism and small business programs, is expected within a month. The forestry agreement may take a little longer.
In closing, I would like to point out to Members that these agreements have been designed to diversify and stabilize the economy, as well as to meet the goals of the Yukon Economic Strategy. Each has been individually directed to meet the development needs of specific economic sectors. When considered collectively, they comprise a significant resource, one that this government, in close cooperation with CYI, industry and others, will use wisely to invest in the future economic development of the Yukon.
Mr. Phillips: We on this side of the House are pleased to see that we have finally reached a five-year agreement; it is a rather generous agreement. The EDA program is a good one but it is one that has met many problems in the past because of the short-term nature of the agreements.
This five year agreement will allow for the planning of well thought out projects. We applaud that.
I was quite pleased with the Ministers comments when he told us proudly that this is the richest EDA signed between the two governments to date. It confuses one a little bit when all we have heard from the side opposite in the past few weeks is how the federal government is cutting us back and treating us so poorly. We should be so lucky. We get better treatment from the federal government than almost any other government in Canada, with the exception of the Northwest Territories.
In his statement today, the Minister thanked the YTG officials, but it is unfortunate that he could not have added a couple more words of thanks and congratulations to the federal government for their generosity in this deal. After all, the federal government is contributing 70 percent of the money. That is a paltry $26.5 million. That is almost $1 million for every thousand people in the territory.
Another area of concern arises at the end of the Ministers statement when he tells us that the treasury board has yet to approve about half of this agreement. I hope that the approval is forthcoming and the Minister has not preempted or jeopardized that decision in making the announcement here today.
In closing, we on this side are very pleased to see a five-year agreement finally in place. Over the next few years, we are going to look forward to seeing a richer and more diversified Yukon economy.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I would like to say to Members that we certainly appreciate the support from the side opposite, on the signing of this agreement. Members will recognize that there is no question of generosity on the part of the federal government.
During negotiations, we had to accept cost-sharing of the agreement. Members may recall that in previous agreements our share, as a proportion, was considerably less. I agree with the Member in respect of our ability now to do long-term planning. I agree with the Member in respect of our ability now to plan thoroughly toward the diversification of our economy that will speak to the development of new products, new industry, new business and new activity that ensures that we have fewer dollars flowing south, ensuring that we have more employment generated from the resources available to us and that in the entire process we can plan as the people of the Yukon have requested we do.
Speaker: This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Land claims, final umbrella agreement
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions for the Minister responsible for land claims, with regard to the timing of the negotiating process.
In looking back over the years at the various pronouncements we have heard about the negotiations, and during the election in January 1989, we were told the final umbrella agreement, and several final First Nations agreements, would be ready to go before the House of Commons by year-end. Last June, we were told that we could expect to see the final umbrella agreement, and several final First Nations agreements, go before the House of Commons by the spring or early summer of 1991.
It is that time. Has a process been adopted yet by CYI for ratification of the final umbrella agreement?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I thank the Member for his question. First of all, let me respond to the preamble by saying something I am sure will find agreement with the Leader of the Official Opposition. There is nothing more humbling for anybody involved in the process than to be announcing deadlines for completion of land claims negotiations. I can recall a certain gentleman, back around 1979, suggesting we would have it done in six months. Another gentleman gave a speech to the Chamber of Commerce back in the 1980s suggesting a similar time frame.
I am now the inheritor of this long tradition. The situation is that the First Nations, territorial and federal governments had hoped to have enough progress on some First Nations final agreements by March 31 of this year that we could do ratification.
We now have some new target dates for ratification for completion of the First Nations final agreements with a number of First Nations for this summer, with June and July dates.
CYI has indicated that it wants to complete four First Nation final agreements and self-government agreements before ratification, but that ratification would follow the completion of four agreements and, of course, upon ratification that legislation would be prepared and presented to Parliament and ultimately to this Legislature. The final particulars of the ratification process, to deal directly with the Members question, are not yet clear. As I understand it, most parties wish to ensure the legitimacy of the ratification by having a process that is definably democratic, but exactly what that process will be, I am not in a position to announce.
Mr. Phelps: I have some sympathy for the Minister with regard to premature deadlines and timetables; if it is a tradition he has inherited, I hope it will not be codified and written down into some obscure rule book about land claims.
I wonder if the Minister could tell us when we could expect to have a defined process in place for ratification by the beneficiaries?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As to deadlines, we should understand that, should we achieve success in the Yukon comprehensive claim, this will be the first jurisdiction anywhere that has done so in modern Canadian history without some mega project pending. The major development has usually been the discipline, which has forced a conclusion of negotiations, whether it was James Bay, or in the case of the Inuvialuit, or of other agreements. Of course, even the mega projects sometimes do not stick to their timetables, and I think that was the case in the Yukon.
I understand the situation to be that CYI has indicated publicly that First Nations can ratify the UFA individually, which may be done by various methods within the bands; but governments, particularly the federal government, will want to be able to have a ratification formula or a ratification count, an evaluation if you like, of the UFA, which will stand up to any kind of objective test of approval. In other words, the Minister responsible will be able to go to Cabinet and ultimately to Parliament and say that the First Nations, who were included in this agreement, do support it and that there is no question on that score.
The Leader of the Official Opposition has some personal experience on this particular matter himself. I am not in a position yet to tell him what the particulars of that will be, or when exactly we will be able to announce it. We are, at this moment, concentrating on trying to get as many...
Speaker: Order please. Will the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: ... First Nation agreements as soon as possible, so we can face exactly the question he has put.
Mr. Phelps: I take issue with the Minister, with regard to this being the first modern land claims settlement that has been reached, or might be reached, without the pressures of a megaproject. I really do not think that is true of the COPE final agreement.
I wonder if the Minister could tell us whether any final agreements have been completed with any of the First Nations yet?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: None have been completed, though - I hate to use the expression - negotiators will say that we are close on a number of them. The four First Nations who are currently at the table include the group known as the CATCO group - the Champaign/Aishihik/Teslin/Old Crow group - plus the Na-cho Nyak Dun people of the Mayo area.
There are, as well, other First Nations seeking to come to the table, including the First Nation at Dawson City, the Fort Selkirk Band, the two First Nations in Whitehorse and others who are beginning the work of bargaining. So, there are four First Nations in the first group with whom we hope to conclude agreements very shortly. There are at least four others who are hoping to get to the table very soon.
Question re: Land claims, final umbrella agreement
Mr. Phelps: Of course, many Yukoners including us on this side are concerned about the delays. I can recall way back in 1974, when I was first involved with land claims in the Yukon, and the then negotiator for the feds, a lawyer from Victoria, expected to have a final agreement in place within one year.
I am wondering if the Minister can tell us whether he has any observations with regard to the recent announcement by the Prime Minister about a Royal Commission and whether or not that is going to have any impact on the Yukon land claims negotiations?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I thank the Member for the question. I think it is a very important question and a real concern for this government and, I take it from the Members remarks, to all Members in this Legislature.
We have communicated with the Prime Minister, following his announcement that there would be such a commission, to convey to him in very strong terms our best wishes for this commission and our indications that we would cooperate with this work. We also implored the Prime Minister not to let the mandate or work of this commission in any way delay or divert the attention of the government from the imperative of settling the Yukon land claims as soon as possible.
It is our hope that neither the wishes of aboriginal people to have a voice in the current constitutional discussions nor the land claims negotiations and self-government agreements, which are under negotiation here, be delayed by a royal commission. We have a grand tradition of royal commissions in this country, but, unfortunately, they have a reputation of being used to delay or to avoid dealing with questions rather than providing answers.
It is, I take it, the very strong view of everyone in this House, and it certainly is the view of the people involved in the land claims negotiations, that it would be tragic if that were to happen.
Question re: Land claims, overlapping
Mr. Phelps: The unfortunate thing is that, often, the external forces beyond the control of Yukoners do tend to result in delays and upset land claims processes in the Yukon. We certainly felt that way in 1983 and 1984 with regard to the constitutional forces, which were paralleling negotiations here.
Speaking of external problems, I wonder if the Minister has any further news with regard to the overlapping claim of the Gwichin Tribal Council of the Northwest Territories and the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: First of all, let me concur with the Members preamble. It is true that in the life of this government we had a formal federal review of claims policy that cost us several months at the negotiating table. That is not the first such delay that we have had.
With respect to the Tetlan Gwichin claim, about which the Member has asked, I regret that I cannot bring the Member good news about the most recent negotiations.
The best way I can express my concern is that, in the next little while, we will be seeking to clarify federal intentions in this regard. We take the position that we have every intention of negotiating in good faith. We are going to participate in every negotiating session. We are going to deal seriously with the claims of that First Nation. As I indicated to the Leader of the Official Opposition before, we are fundamentally opposed to the federal government taking any unilateral action in respect to this matter - action that may affect Yukon interests. We have taken, and will continue to take, a very firm position on that question.
When I do so, I am confident that I speak on behalf of the vast majority of people in the Yukon Territory.
Question re: Social assistance, increase in
Mr. Lang: On October 30, 1990, the Minister of Finance stood in his place and stated the following.
... economic activity in the Yukon continues at a healthy level this year. Employment is averaging well over 12,000, and the average annual unemployment rate at 11 percent is at its lowest in nearly a decade. This is a very positive development and, while there is still far to go in eliminating structural unemployment in the Yukon, it demonstrates that our economic development policies and initiatives are having their intended effect: sound economy and jobs for Yukon people.
Last night, it was revealed by the Minister of Health and Social Services that the number of people on social assistance in the Yukon had increased by 34 percent since December 1990. In view of the fact that the Government of Yukon projected, in 1990, that our economy was in very good shape, and we could continue to see good times, what is the Ministers department going to be doing in the next little while to get the number of people on social assistance down, in view of the increase we have experienced?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: The Member asks what we are looking at to get people off social assistance. There are a number of programs underway, some of which involve the Department of Education. That Minister would have more details than I have to respond to the program. There are a couple of programs, in conjunction with the federal governments Canada Employment Centre, to train people who are on social assistance and to help them get back into the work force. That is part of the program that is underway.
Mr. Lang: That is all fine and dandy. Yesterday, the figures that were given to us were that at the end of December 1990, the number of people who were on social assistance was 1,034. In three months, that has increased to 1,325, according to the Ministers own statistics.
In comparative terms, that is almost the whole population of the community of Watson Lake. Why are we experiencing such an increase - 34 percent in less than three months - when that does not take into account what may well develop in the community of Faro?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: It is common knowledge that in the North, when the economy becomes worse in other parts of the country, we experience a greater drain on our social services. This is partly because there are no jobs to be found in other parts of the country for people to move to. It is not that people are moving here, specifically, and being out of work. Rather, they cannot move somewhere else to find the jobs they may wish to. Much of our work in the Yukon is seasonal. December through spring is the tough time of year for many Yukon people.
Mr. Lang: The reality in the Yukon is that over $600 million is spent in one year when the federal, territorial and municipal government payrolls are combined. Yet, admitted by the Minister, we are experiencing a 34 percent increase in the number of individuals on social assistance. I want to ask the Minister this, are these individuals long-term residents of the territory?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I do not have those figures right here in front of me. I will take notice of that question.
Question re: Social assistance, increase in
Mr. Lang: I think all Members should be very concerned with this trend that has developed: this dramatic increase that has been experienced for the number of people involved and also from the point of view of the public treasury. I want to ask the Minister this: is she getting her department or the statistics branch to do a review of the individuals now on social assistance and the longevity that they have in this territory?
The reason I ask this is that people have come to me and said people are moving here as it is easier to get social assistance here than in other parts of the country. I do not know if this true, but I want to ask the Minister if she is going to undertake to have a review so that we know the situation we are dealing with.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: If the Member is asking if we are supporting out-of-territory unemployed people the answer, as far as I know, is no. We do not have more lenient qualifications than anywhere else in the country. The time of year and the fact that people cannot go from here to somewhere else to find jobs seem to be the factors. The seasonal nature of our economy obviously becomes part of it. We see no indication that our rolls are growing because of other people coming through the territory. In fact, the rate of single people, who are usually the ones who are transient, has gone down.
Mr. Lang: This is a dramatic increase: a 34 percent increase. We are not talking about three percent or five percent or even the rate of inflation. I want to ask the Minister if she would undertake, on behalf of the House, a general review of the number of people who are on social assistance and see how long they have been in the territory.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: My department has been doing a review, looking at that very issue, and it seems to me not an unreasonable suggestion; however, I will take it under advisement.
Mr. Lang: While the Minister takes this under advisement, I must point out that this is a very serious issue for the people affected and for us as a government. Another issue that is going to be fast approaching in confronting the Legislature is the situation in Faro, if it goes on indefinitely. The statistics the Minister stated last evening showed an increase of two families, I believe, on social assistance.
Does the Minister have a contingency plan in place in view of the situation in Faro?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: We have a worker in Faro and we are in constant communication and consultation with that worker. If such needs arise, I am sure we will be able to address them, but at the present time there has been no indication that there will be greater needs than I have indicated.
Question re: Occupational health and safety, respiratory illnesses
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister responsible for Justice and occupational health and safety.
Yesterday I asked the Minister a question with respect to the department employees and respiratory illnesses. She told me that there was a study that had been done; she was not familiar with the final result, but had made a commitment to bring it back to the House today. I notice that she did not table anything today. I would like to ask the Minister if she is prepared to table that study now?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I had indicated that there were ongoing studies in regard to the problems that we face in all of our buildings, with regard to air quality and that type of study and review is ongoing.
What I had indicated to the Member was that I would bring back any information that I had available. I received documentation from the department this morning. I have asked for more information so that I can provide the Member with it.
As I said, each and every one of our buildings is the responsibility of this government and we have an occupational health and safety branch that deals with specific complaints, and the complaints are ongoing.
There is a problem right now, as the Member indicated yesterday, with a group of employees who are suffering from some problems that may have to do with the air quality, but it may include a number of things. I will provide the Member with a legislative return tomorrow. That information will not include a study because, as I said, the studies are ongoing with regard to all of the complaints that we have that go through the occupational health and safety branch.
Mrs. Firth: We are very concerned about the people who are being affected by this. We understand that the officials in occupational health and safety have been very good about how they have handled the issue, and have demonstrated concern, compassion and care for the people involved.
What we are trying to find out is what the government is doing to hold up its end and its responsibility.
I guess, along with that legislative return or included in that legislative return, since the Minister cannot tell me today, can she include what the Minister is doing about it and how she is accommodating the concerns that have been raised?
Hon. Ms. Joe: One of the things that we have done in all government buildings is to eliminate smoking. It was a big hazard for anybody who came in contact with second-hand smoke. That was a big initiative on behalf of this government.
The other thing we have done was an evaluation in 1985, where people came in to look at the problem that existed at that time. We are all aware of the buildings that were overcrowded, but were criticized for moving people out of the building into better working conditions and better air quality. That was another big initiative about how we deal with the air quality in the buildings. We are doing things to try to deal with the safety of the individuals who work for this government. Those are two big initiatives.
Mrs. Firth: These problems have occurred after these initiatives. I am talking about the current problems.
I would like to ask the Minister if she can tell us, in her legislative return tomorrow, what is being done to address these concerns, and give us some indication of how the employees are being dealt with. That is all I am asking.
Hon. Ms. Joe: It would be great to just sit here and say yes or no. I have also already given her two big initiatives.
They are all different things that would cause a problem in the air. Our department is aware of existing situations. It could be something in air, or it could be something else: the furniture or computers or whatever else may cause a hazard to that worker.
As I said, there are things that are being done. We have done things. The air in buildings anywhere will never be perfect. We are dealing with individual employees who have come to our attention. That is ongoing.
I will have a legislative return. I require more information.
Question re: Environment Act
Mr. Phillips: I have a question for the Minister of Renewable Resources. On Monday last the Minister tabled the new Environment Act in this House. The Minister claims he has consulted and listened to Yukoners concerns on this issue. Many people had an opportunity to review the poorly written first draft of the act, but only a select few have seen the new version. Some feel this act is being unduly rushed through. In fact, 1,647 Yukoners signed a petition in less than three weeks, asking the Minister for more time.
This is one of the many acts this government has introduced in this House that is not accompanied by relevant regulations. The Minister has assured us that Yukoners will have input into those regulations and will be able, in the Ministers words, to petition the government for new or changed regulations.
What will it take before he will listen to the suggested changes to regulations, when the Minister will not accept 1,647 concerned Yukoners views on having a short delay before passing the act?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Member stated in his preamble that in the viewpoint of the Minister, people will be able to petition the Minister to draft new regulations, or amend and revoke regulations. He does not have to take my word for it. It is written in the act itself, in the rule-making section, and we will honour this without exception.
This process will be an open one. The public and affected businesses will be encouraged to participate. Everyone will get an opportunity to have a say in the drafting of new regulations.
Mr. Phillips: I am not disputing the process or anything else. This Minister said that he is prepared to listen to Yukoners and yet he has rejected the view of over 1,600 constituents. They were not trying to kill the act. All they were trying to do was ask for more time. How does the Minister expect to gain the trust of these individuals in the future when he just tells them, like he did the other day, that they do not understand the act and he dismisses them out-of-hand?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I did not dismiss these concerns out-of-hand. In fact, members of the coalition were invited to sit down with us, after the April 5 deadline for the written submissions, to review the new act as revised.
It has been very much an open process. I think that it has met with the satisfaction of most people concerned.
Naturally, there are still people who want a delay. You will always find that. I can assure the Member opposite that there are many more people who are urging us to proceed at this time.
Mr. Phillips: People are concerned about this Minister and trusting this Minister. He said, Trust me, trust me. We will listen to you.
In the new act it says that the time for reviewing regulations will be 60 days. How many people will it take on a signed petition, to change a regulation in that 60-day time period, if the Member will not accept 1,647 people now? How many people will it take in that 60-day time period, for the Minister to actually listen to the people who want changes in the regulations?
Hon. Mr. Webster: It is very unfortunate. The Member opposite, who is one of the two critics for the environment, has not yet had the opportunity to read this act, either. Clearly, that 60-day period for the drafting of regulations is a minimum amount of time. For some regulations that are quite complicated, and will involve many Yukoners - the public, affected interest groups and business groups - it will take much longer than 60 days. When everyone is pleased with the process and happy with the regulations that have been drafted, that is when the process will end.
Question re: Suicide
Mr. Nordling: In December 1989, the Opposition tabled a report on suicide in the territory. On February 21, 1990, we debated the report, entitled We Need Someone to Talk To. One of the recommendations in that report was that informal investigations be held into all suicides, in order to identify the contributing factors.
I was pleased to hear the Minister of Health and Social Services allude to this in her ministerial statement on Monday. She said, The Department of Health and Social Services has established a committee to review each and every infant death that has occurred over the past five years. We will be doing a similar review of each suicide.
For clarification, will that committee be doing a review of each and every suicide that has taken place in the Yukon over the past five years?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I can understand the Members concern over this issue. It is a very sensitive issue. In answer to his question, yes, where there are records available to the department, each and every suicide will be looked at to see if there is a common factor of any kind. Much is already underway in the territory to remedy what we believe to be some of the root causes of suicide, such as low self-esteem, hopelessness and feelings of worthlessness. The most important, perhaps, for First Nations people is a land claims settlement, because this will provide a future for Yukon young people.
Again, I believe that First Nations people are using the life-skills self-esteem wellness workshops, healing circles, language rejuvenation, which are addressing the issue of overall healing.
Many things are happening, and this review is part of that. The department has dozens of programs underway for suicide prevention.
Mr. Nordling: I am pleased to hear that that review will be done as I think it will be helpful and was something that Yukoners wanted to see.
Although there were 14 recommendations in the task force report one of the things that was unanimous was that Yukoners wanted suicide awareness and prevention programs introduced as early as possible. By that they meant at the primary school level. I would like to ask the Minister what specifically is being done at the primary school level with respect to these programs?
Perhaps the Minister of Education wishes to answer that.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am not sure whether the Member was referring to the unanimity in the report being the agreement between the Member for Watson Lake and the Member for Porter Creek West or if he meant that it was unanimous around the territory. The recommendation was a good one and was something that I mentioned would be adopted by the department of education shortly after the Opposition report was made public.
I indicated last November that the Department of Education had done a number of things, including the inservicing of staff, particularly counsellors at the elementary school level, to assist in managing suicide at the various levels of intervention, at the primary school or elementary school level. I had indicated once before that resource materials for teachers had also been introduced into the schools.
We have a suicide strategy. I believe I announced that in October or November 1990 - whenever we began the fall sitting. I recall it is a very comprehensive one. If anyone would like me to provide more details I would be more than happy to do that.
Mr. Nordling: I am aware of some of the things that are being done, and I would like to make sure the Minister is making it a priority.
The other recommendation that was very important to Yukoners, which they felt would cause an immediate reduction in the suicide rate in the Yukon, was that there be some sort of a campaign to encourage safe storage of guns and ammunition. Is anything being done in that direction?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I personally believe in the safe storage of guns. I am not personally aware of a program in the schools that teaches about the safe storage of guns, but the Department of Education has a strategy which, as I mentioned, includes four levels of intervention. It includes the building of self-esteem and the in-servicing of teachers, as well as a strategy for dealing with students where there is a completed suicide, and a protocol for dealing with students who attempt suicide. I would assume it would be manifestly obvious, or common sense, to encourage parents of children who may be prone to commit suicide, or even anyone, to safely store any guns they may have in their possession. Speaking off the top of my head, I know there are gun safety courses that have been ...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am desperate to try to answer the question, as I have no firsthand knowledge of this at all. I do know that the local gun clubs have sponsored safety programs for the storage of guns, and I am sure that will go some distance to meeting the Members recommendation.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day and Government Motions.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS
Clerk: Item No. 1, standing in the name of Ms. Kassi.
Speaker: Is the Hon. Member prepared to proceed with Item No. 1?
Ms. Kassi: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Motion No. 52
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Member for Old Crow
THAT it is the opinion of the Yukon Legislative Assembly that the people of the Yukon want:
(a) A voice in all constitutional consultations about Canadas future;
(b) Aboriginal self-government agreements constitutionally protected; and
(c) Quebec to remain part of a unified Canada.
Ms. Kassi: Before I start, I would like to take this moment to welcome the Hon. Joe Clark to our land who I believe will be arriving in Whitehorse this evening. On behalf of the Vuntat Gwitchin, I would like to bring him greetings and especially commend him for all of his work with respect to his position as External Affairs Minister to Canada, and the work well done on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and we hope that Barbara McDougall will carry on his work.
As you well know, the aboriginal people of Canada have a different idea of what this country is. Our ancestors have lived here for thousands of years, they developed it, settled on it, learned how to survive on it, formed societies and they made laws, developing ways to govern themselves. They learned how to defend what they believed was right and just. They lived in communities and learned how to live in harmony with the spirits of this land and it became their own. It was their land. They passed this land and a harmonious way of living on to their children. Their descendants have made good use of this birthright. They survived as strong and independent people. Then came the new ones, the new people. They had their own laws; they had their own way of looking at the land, of using it, and in particular their rights to it. They decided that it was wilderness and some of them thought it was free for the taking. They thought that everyone should be like them, that everyone should obey their laws and their religion and that we should become part of the community and practice their ways.
We tried, as aboriginal people. We tried all this. We found that it was a way for us. It was a grand experiment in trying to live together with another people, but the experiment has failed.
Native leaders looked at what was happening to their people and saw that, instead of helping their people, it was destroying them. They saw cultures disappear and traditions washed away. An entire way of life and way of looking at the world was being denied to the very people who had spent thousands of years developing it.
It is our way. It belongs to us. It is the way that is best for us. It has to be because, after all, we have survived this long. We have lived together and have the strength and, more importantly, the ability to determine what is best for us. Our ancestors families were able to stay together and become strong. They had the rights and freedoms that came to them from the land, the spirits and from deep within themselves. It was theirs. They have now passed this right on to us. It is the strength we will carry with us and use to achieve these things.
We, as aboriginal people, now realize that the only way we are going to survive is to return to our original ways of governing ourselves. How do we do this? In our homes, we listen to our grandparents and do what they say, knowing and trusting their wisdom.
In the communities, the elders continue to teach our children the old ways. Our traditional ways of governing and decision making are the rules of order of the council of our First Nations.
Free access to traditional areas and traditional methods of survival is our right. We also have a right to govern ourselves and our lands in our own way.
The aboriginal people need to have these rights enshrined in the Constitution. We need to protect and practice our traditional ways. We must take our voice to the constitutional tables and speak out.
Elijah Harper realized this and held firm to his belief that aboriginal people have to be recognized and listened to.
Unlike some of the European ways, we are prepared to work with other groups. We feel that they, too, as Canadians, have the right to practice their ways, their laws and raise their families in ways they, too, have passed down from their ancestors.
All we are saying is that we have the same rights as the first people, as northerners and as Canadians. This land was given to us. We were asked by our Creator and our ancestors to take care of it. We were told to share it with each other, to make sure there were enough resources to let all the people survive. As an example, when someone takes a caribou in Old Crow, the meat is shared with the rest of the community. Everybody is treated equally, especially with those people who do not have any. In this way, we have made sure that all our people survive.
We want our rights to be entrenched into the Constitution of Canada. We want to have our voices heard as nations within this federation, which you call Canada. The Inuit need to have this voice; the Haida need this voice, and the Gwichin also need to have their voices listened to. If we are not listened to, everyone must look at what happened at Oka last summer.
It is a fundamental and universal right that I am talking about today. We are all different and we have the right to be different. We have the right to practice these differences and we have the responsibility to determine ourselves what these rights are. This we can do together. We can sit down, like we have, with the process of settling the Yukon land claims and establish what these rights are in relation to the rights of other Canadians. We want to work together. We want peace and harmony now so that we can go on to build an even better life for ourselves in this wonderful country called Canada.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am very pleased to rise today in support of this motion. The Hon. Member for Old Crow has, in the motion she has put before us, captured some of the essential elements of Canadian unity from a Yukon point of view.
In order to be a stronger, more unified country, we must accord to the north a place in the nation and its institutions that is commensurate with its growing maturity. We must recognize and allow full expression of the rights of Canadas aboriginal people and give their legitimate rights to self-government constitutional protection.
We must recognize the special aspirations of Quebec, so its citizens can feel at home within Confederation.
These desires are not new. They were vigorously discussed during the debate on the proposed Meech Lake Accord. I think it is a fair observation that the failure of the accord to deal with some of these desires contributed to its demise.
As Members of this House are well aware, we opposed elements of the Meech Lake Accord, but not because we had any quarrel with the principles that Quebec wanted included in Canadas Constitution. In fact, we expressed support for these five principles. Our quarrel was what the proposed accord would have done to northern Canada.
As all Members know, it would have guaranteed all provinces a voice as to whether the Yukon ever became a province, while the people most directly affected - the citizens of the Yukon - would have had no say whatsoever.
Since the failure of the proposed Meech Lake Accord, we have been encouraged by the growing understanding and acceptance of the norths legitimate right to be heard on constitutional issues affecting its citizens. We are encouraged by the growing appreciation that the Yukon has matters of substance to contribute to the national debate on Canadas future.
Although we are encouraged, we are not naive. We must continue to put forward our case for a role in constitutional discussions. We must continue to offer concrete and constructive proposals to resolve the constitutional roadblock.
Since the failure of the Meech Lake Accord, Canadians have also come to realize the need for a just resolution to the long-standing grievances of aboriginal people in this country. In its interim report, for example, the Committee on Ontario in Confederation commented that the public opinion in that province showed the broadest consensus on the need for justice for aboriginal peoples in Canada.
Accordingly, that committee has endorsed negotiations on self-government agreements. It is interesting that a number of us had the opportunity of meeting with Mr. Spicer when he was here recently. Mr. Spicer reiterated the same thought, namely that, everywhere in Canada people are urging the governments to get on with the question of bringing justice to the claims of aboriginal people.
As well, since the failure of the Meech Lake Accord, we have come to more fully appreciate the sense of alienation many Quebecois feel from Canada. These feelings of alienation have led some to the conclusion that Quebec would be best able to develop as a distinct society outside Confederation. Others argue for a new deal within Canada that reflects the provinces distinct characters and needs.
Whatever the view of individual members of Quebec society, that provinces citizens are impatient for a resolution to their constitutional future. This sense of impatience, and even urgency, finds expression in the reports that have emerged from Quebec since the failure of the Meech Lake Accord.
The Allaire Report, prepared by the constitutional committee of the Quebec Liberal party, proposes political autonomy for Quebec, with it exercising exclusive authority over most areas of responsibility. According to this proposal, the federal government would be limited to exercising exclusive authority over defence, national security, customs, tariffs, currency, common debt and equalization - that is all.
In the report of the Belanger-Campeau Commission, also recently released, it was suggested that Quebec receive more powers than it currently has under the constitution, and if a form of renewed federalism cannot be worked out by the fall of 1992 - next year - then a referendum be held on sovereignty.
Clearly, both of these reports challenge the status quo in Canada. The challenge is to consider how to redefine our country. They call into question the very raison detre of our country. They raise in peoples minds the worst possible fears about the future of our national state. I must confess that, in my own worst moments, I sometimes fear that the only constitutional law at work in this country today is entropy.
In embarking on this process of redefinition, which will inevitably involve people from every corner of our country, we must recognize that there is a growing sense of impatience in the rest of Canada - everywhere outside of Quebec. People feel that other issues also need the attention of our leaders, whether it is people in Western Canada who want Senate reform, people in Atlantic Canada concerned about who should manage the fishery, people in the north anxious about our constitutional future or aboriginal people all over the country who want self-government.
At the same time, in my own, more optimistic moments, I am bound to recognize that the debate about our future that has begun in the last few months has already produced expressions of deep feeling of attachment to the country, to its values, its uniqueness. What I, in another context, might say, with no sense of irony, is our distinctiveness. I would argue that we have enjoyed in Canada a society distinct from that of our neighbour to the south. Canada is and has been, itself, a distinct society.
What we must remember is that a more unified Canada is stronger and something worth expending a great amount of effort to build and protect. In responding to these two challenges, the basic issues must be resolved. What is the substance of changes needed to build a stronger united Canada and how will we achieve them?
On the issue of substance there are two broad schools of thought. The first, what is often referred to as asymmetrical federalism, would provide Quebec with greater powers over matters of importance to its linguistic and cultural survival. The other would see a much more decentralized Canada with each jurisdiction getting the powers now generally sought by Quebec.
There are a great many people who want to see an accommodation with Quebec but who are also concerned about the latter option. They see the danger in massive decentralization being that it would create a weaker Canada.
I think it is true that a strong federal presence in this country has historically been important to the north and to other regions. It has also been important in protecting the interests of minorities everywhere in this country. I think it can be argued convincingly that greater disparity between regions could result if the federal government decentralized its power in a very substantial way, especially if, as northerners fear, this decentralization would benefit the provinces and not the territories.
I say to the Leader of the Opposition, whose opinions I respect on this score, that it can be argued both in the Patriation Act in 1982 and in Meech Lake, you can see evidence of a strengthened provincial power at the expense of the territories. As northerners, we have to be very clear on this. If there is a serious debate about massive decentralization of federal power to the provinces of Canada, we must make sure that the territories participate in that debate and that our interests are not sacrificed once again on the altar of national unity. I think that would be a tragic and suicidal approach from our point of view.
I note also on this score that none of the proponents of the triple-E Senate in this country are arguing for equal representation in a reformed Senate for the northern Canadian jurisdictions. They propose equality for the provinces, but not for the territories.
On the issue of process, the options are at the moment less clearly defined but one strong message has emerged from the failure of the Meech Lake Accord: it is no longer acceptable for the First Ministers to hammer out constitutional deals behind closed doors and present them to the nation as a fait accompli. No more will the nation tolerate 11 men locking themselves up in a room and cutting up the national pie. They will not tolerate it even if, in the next round, there are only 10 men and one woman, or nine men and two women. The process stinks, from the ordinary Canadians point of view.
The process must be more open; it must be more democratic; it must involve Canadians in discussions and in seeking solutions. Suggestions that would include other political leaders in the constitutional conferences, while perhaps a step in the right direction, do not, I think, go far enough.
What is initially more appealing are some of the proposals for a constituent assembly.
Clearly, many questions have to be answered about how a constituent assembly would be assembled, but if it is properly constituted to give an effective voice, not only to Canadas regions, but to women, aboriginal people, linguistic minorities, the disabled, business and labour and others, it could provide a real alternative to the process so discredited by the failure of Meech Lake.
Other efforts are also needed to make the process of building a stronger constitutional process that belongs to the people. Large scale public information campaigns and required public hearings by legislatures across the country, as well as by the Senate and the House of Commons are vehicles for involving Canadians everywhere.
I noticed that while, in the Meech Lake process, no parliamentary committee visited the territories in the early stages of the three-year Meech debate - at least not early enough to have solved the problems of it - a Senate committee came and a committee chaired by Mr. Charest, the now Minister of the Environment came. Those committees attracted a lot of interest. Indeed, I think the fact that they came here was very influential in the reports, and in fact, the reports that they issued were much more agreeable to the people here and everywhere in the country who had concerns about Meech Lake, than the original proposition.
The Yukon Government has also proposed another mechanism to provide greater flexibility in dealing with constitutional matters.
In a presentation two months ago to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Amending Canadas Constitution, I suggested a two-track amending process. One track would address the constitutional position of Quebec, the other would deal with other pressing constitutional concerns. Both tracks would proceed simultaneously, allowing for the necessary dialogue between Quebec and the rest of Canada, while not standing in the way of discussions on other important constitutional matters, aboriginal northern concerns among them.
The reason I suggested that is because I have acquired a very strong impression that Quebec just basically is not interested in talking about anything other than its concerns right now.
Meanwhile, we have other groups, such as the aboriginal people, quite appropriately saying, Why should we have to wait until we sort out the question of Quebec, as we have been waiting for a couple of hundred years?
Quite properly, Quebec wants to see its concerns dealt with now; so do other groups.
I sense that, if we had separate processes going along that would allow discussions on both fronts, we might, at the end of the day, be able to marry the resolutions into a single package of amendments that would be broadly acceptable everywhere in the country.
The Yukon government believes Quebec has legitimate concerns that must be dealt with, if we are to remain a strong and united country. The risks of inaction are simply too high not to make every effort.
We must recognize that we, in the Yukon - as much as any people in this country - have a great stake in keeping Canada united. I am not just dealing with the harsh, mundane dollar and cents reality of the fact that we are financially dependent on a healthy federal state. That is true but, out here on the periphery of the nation, we can watch what is happening in the great centres of population and power in this country with alarm. It is not an unreasonable fear of Yukoners that, if Quebec goes, the country might not hold together. Our constitutional future after that is very, very uncertain.
Let us remember that Yukoners are people who, more than anything else, want to be part of this country and to be involved in it. We want in. We are not a people looking to get out; we are a people looking to get in. With that said, we are like Quebec, in that we have an unresolved constitutional relationship with the rest of the country. We are sensitive to these questions. We are open to their concerns, and we want to play a constructive role in resolving this, if we can.
We also want action on the other elements of a strong Canada, identified in the motion by the Hon. Member for Old Crow - elements not addressed in the Meech Lake Accord.
As I said earlier, the legitimate aspirations of Canadas aboriginal people must be recognized and addressed. This government has repeatedly made the point that the self-government agreements must not only be negotiated, but also entrenched in the Canadian Constitution.
We want to see the Yukon Indian land claims settled. The settlement will provide Yukon First Nations with the ability to determine their own future and participate fully, on their terms, in Yukon society. It will create certainty over land and resources.
The Yukon wants a role in shaping a new Canada. As a result of this role, it wants to participate meaningfully in Canada and in the institutions that make this country work.
Finally, the Yukon is seeking self-determination within the context of Canadian federalism. We want the opportunity to control our own affairs and to have a say over which powers we exercise. We want the ability to determine political structures that are responsive to Yukon needs and Yukon circumstances. We want to define a new relationship with the other parts of Canada that allow us to be an active participant with other jurisdictions in Confederation.
Mrs. Firth: I rise today to respond to this motion that has been brought forward by the Member for Old Crow. The reason I want to speak to it is because I have some strong feelings about the issue that is being presented to the House. The issue I specifically refer to is that we, as Members of the Yukon Legislative Assembly, are being asked to make representation on behalf of the people of the Yukon as to what they want with respect to constitutional consultations, aboriginal self-government agreements and Quebec and whether or not it remains part of a unified Canada.
I have just recently been on a tour around the Yukon Territory with my colleague, the Minister of Health and Social Services, the Member for Whitehorse South Centre. We were chosen by other Members of this House to be the Select Committee on Constitutional Development and, originally, through a motion that was presented by the Government Leader.
We were asked to go out and visit all Yukon communities and to have discussions with people in those Yukon communities about a paper called the Green Paper on Constitutional Development, which had been developed by this government, and to receive the views and opinions of Yukon citizens on the green paper, as well as to present a record and interpretation of those views and opinions. We were to bring a report back to the Legislative Assembly and to report no later than the 1991 spring sitting of the 27th Legislature.
The other Member and I are presenting this report to the sitting of the Legislative Assembly next week, we hope. If not, it will be the week after, and during this sitting.
To refresh peoples memories about the questions and discussions in the Green Paper on Constitutional Development, we were to ask Yukoners opinions about self-government for the Yukon Territory, how we were progressing toward that, how closely the Yukon comes to being like a province, and what the important next steps are for the Yukon to take in its constitutional growth. There was quite a bit of discussion about Meech Lake.
In the discussions we had as a committee, there was no way we could avoid discussions about the subject matter contained in this motion. Every time a question was asked by the public, the opinion of the people was dependent on what Quebec did or our feeling of helplessness as a people and territory to determine our own future. Even though the Meech Lake provision was worse - that we had to have the approval of all 10 provinces to advance to provincial status - we were still bound by the Constitution, which says that seven provinces with 50 percent of the population determine whether or not we become a province. The same would apply to any decisions that were made, in the event that Quebec did leave the rest of Canada.
I do not want to compromise the report the Constitutional Development Committee is going to be presenting to the Legislature, but I think it is fair to say that a lot of people did not agree with some or all of the principles brought forward in the motion the Member for Old Crow has presented to the House today.
I can also say, and I am sure that the other Member of the committee would agree with me, that there were many differences of opinion across the Yukon Territory, from the people who came and spoke to us.
My concern is this: here we are in a position now that we are going to undermine the intentions of the Select Committee on Constitutional Development, by in fact debating the issues and concerns that we were supposed to find out by hearing from the people of the Yukon Territory.
I know that I and the Minister responsible for Health and Human Resources and the two staff members who came out to assist us, all worked very hard. I know that it was a particularly arduous task for the Member for Whitehorse South Centre, who was a new Minister at the time. We had to go out on the road for five weeks; it was tiring, stressful and an enduring experience.
I feel somewhat offended that this motion has been brought forward to the House at this time. I do not want to speak on behalf of the other Member, but I am sure that she may be wondering why we are debating our report, the report that we were asked by the Legislature to bring back. Why are we debating it today under the auspices of a motion with respect to what all of the people of the Yukon want when it comes to constitutional consultations and aboriginal self-government and the situation with Quebec?
I know that the argument that the Government Leader would present would be that this a more Canadian context. I would refer to it as the big picture, but I do not think that we can stand up as legislators and make representations on behalf of the Yukon people about the big picture until we have heard from the little picture, from the Select Committee on Constitutional Development that went around the Yukon Territory to hear the opinions and views of the Yukon people.
It is interesting enough that the Government Leader made reference to all of the other committees that have come here to discuss similar issues - and they all are similar issues, it just depends on at what level your interest lies with respect to these issues.
I think that the Constitutional Development Committee was perhaps the starting point for progressing to debates and discussions about the issues in the bigger picture and the issues that are more nationally recognized.
The concern I have is the timing of this motion. Why are we being asked to debate this motion now? Are we being asked to debate it because the Hon. Joe Clark is here and the Government Leader wants to present some united position to that individual? If that is the case, we disagree with it and find it highly inappropriate.
I think that in order for us to make representations on behalf of the people of Yukon about these specific issues, we have to talk to the people of the Yukon about those issues. As a Member representing a constituency of some 1,500 people, I know I would not feel comfortable standing here and saying that the people of the Yukon want Quebec to remain a part of a unified Canada when I know that there are people in my constituency who do not share that belief. I think there are probably other Members of this Assembly who are not unified in that particular opinion. When the Member for Old Crow made her representation, I do not recall her making any comment with respect to the constitutional consultations or to the issue with Quebec. She spoke only about aboriginal self-government agreements. So I would like to know what that Members opinion is with respect to the other two principles contained in her motion.
I think we have to have a lot more discussion about these very important matters before we can stand up and say, that it is the opinion of this Assembly that the people of the Yukon... I think I understand clearly that the words people of the Yukon represent an opinion from all of the people of the Yukon. I recall a week or two weeks ago when the Member for Porter Creek East made an amendment to a motion that represented an opinion that was supposed to express all Yukoners opinions, the Government Leader got very offended by that and chastised the Member quite soundly, and asked whether he had gone out and asked the people of Dawson City and the people of Old Crow if that was their opinion, and so on.
The government is saying to us that they want us to stand up today and make a representation on behalf of the people of the Yukon. I do not think we can do that. As a matter of fact, I know we cannot do that, in all fairness to the Members of this assembly who have perhaps not discussed all these particular issues with their constituents.
I hope that I have convinced my colleague with whom I have shared many hours of interesting conversation and visits to the communities that it would not be incorrect or inappropriate at this time if, in light of the fact that we feel it is inappropriate, that we debate the finding of the Select Committee on Constitutional Development and the impact specifically on the national issues.
Motion to adjourn debate proposed
We on this side of the House would move that the debate be adjourned until after the tabling of the report on the select Committee on Constitutional Development. We look forward to the support of the Member for Whitehorse South Centre.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Member for Whitehorse Riverdale South that debate on Motion No.52 be now adjourned.
Some Hon. Members: Division
Speaker: Division has been called. Mr. Clerk, would you kindly poll the House.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Disagree.
Hon. Ms. Joe: Disagree.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Disagree.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Disagree.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: Disagree.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Disagree.
Ms. Kassi: Disagree.
Mr. Joe: Disagree.
Mr. Phelps: Agree.
Mr. Lang: Agree.
Mr. Phillips: Agree.
Mrs. Firth: Agree.
Mr. Devries: Agree.
Mr. Brewster: Agree.
Mr. Nordling: Agree.
Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are seven yea, eight nay.
Speaker: I declare the motion defeated.
Motion to adjourn debate negatived
Mrs. Firth: I cannot express my disappointment at the attitude of the government enough, although I am not surprised. However, I am somewhat surprised that the Member for Whitehorse South Centre would choose not to support the motion to adjourn, as I think she has to give some very serious thought to the credibility of the constitutional committee, as it stands now. We are prematurely debating some of the opinions and views that were expressed to us as members of that committee when it toured the territory.
With respect to the other issue of the big picture, I find it very interesting that this government has, all of a sudden, become so out of touch with people that all that matters to them are the big national issues. That may be reflective of some of the attitudes and feelings of the Government Leader.
When he was a Member of the Opposition, I remember him criticizing the government of the day of not being in touch with the people here in the Yukon. I think he used to call them the real people.
I see the Government Leader shaking his head in frustration. There is a time when people get a little high and mighty. That time has obviously come. The Government Leader is so high and mighty right now that he cannot wait to hear what the views and opinions of the people of the Yukon are from a committee that was his idea. He was the one who came into the Legislative Assembly with the motion that we have a select committee on constitutional development. That was the idea of the Government Leader. We all agreed with that. We all agreed that there would be two Members from this Legislature who would be on the committee; that we would go out on the road, and we would hear the views and the opinions of the people of the Yukon Territory. We have done that. I have stated that we are bringing a report back.
I would have been quite prepared to debate this motion, had the committee tabled its report. The Government Leader is saying that the committee was not asked to talk about these issues. The committee could not avoid hearing about these issues. I think it is important that we, as legislators, review the opinions and the views that were brought forward by the people who came to the committee meetings. We need to hear what their concerns were about Quebec, about aboriginal self-government, and about the voice of the constitutional consultations, before we preempt or prematurely debate those issues here in the Legislature, and particularly before we, as an Assembly, say what all of the people want. As I have stated before, I do not think that all the people in the Yukon have expressed a consensus, or one point of view, about any of these specific issues.
The other Member of the select committee would agree with that. We heard many different points of view. It was a vast difference of opinion.
In all sincerity, I feel that the timing of this motion is wrong. I am not getting in the gutter, as the Government Leader said. He brought in a motion that appointed a committee. Why does he not have the courtesy to wait until the committee reports back? You cannot separate these issues into black and white, or A and B, or say that one has no bearing on the other. We could not do that when we were on the road, talking to Yukoners about these specific or general issues.
In summing up, I want to express that I feel the timing is wrong. I think it shows interference and contempt on behalf of the government to undermine the report that is going to be presented by the Select Committee on Constitutional Development for the Yukon Territory, and to predebate and make representation on what Yukoners opinions are, or what they want, before the Members of the House have even had the chance to read those opinions and views in a report.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I would like to add some comments and observations to the motion before us. At the outset, in general response to the previous speakers comments, let me express my disappointment at the Members statements and the suggestion that, somehow, a debate on a national unity issue would undermine the select committees report.
May I say that the motion we are addressing deals with a very important and critical issue facing our country today. We are talking about a national constitutional issue of unity. The select committee addressed local constitutional questions.
I do not believe that a government or legislature should be silent while the country is falling apart. The select committee will present its report on the questions that it raised.
The questions that are raised in this motion speak to a broad national issue, and it is that national issue that we all have very strong feelings about. In that respect, I agree with the Member. We tend to be very outspoken on constitutional matters. I suspect that being outspoken comes from the years of frustration that we have experienced in our relationship with the rest of the country, where we so often are caught up in having to plead, cajole and bang our way into recognition and respect with other provinces and the federal government.
The Premier and the Member for Old Crow referred to some of the frustrations that have occurred in the past: the federal/territorial relations, Meech Lake Accord, Spicer Commission, and so on.
I could personally cite some frustrations, like devolution talks, Alaska Highway funding and service cutbacks to Watson Lake. For those of us who have been here, however shortly, history shows that there were many occasions when our voices were not heeded. In spite of these grievances, I believe that the Yukon remaining a part of this country is a common theme and viewpoint that is being stated repeatedly, perhaps with a greater recognition in the national scheme of things.
There is a sense of urgency that I feel is being articulated throughout the country on the issue of national unity. We, in this Legislature, have debated national questions many times before. Many times, we have spoken from our hearts about how important we felt it was for us to be part of a national scene. At a time when the question is uppermost in the minds of all Canadians, it is not inappropriate for us, as individual MLAs, as a Legislature and as a territory, to say how critical it is for us.
I could be personal about commenting why I want to see the Yukon remain part of this country, and why national unity is of critical importance, but I think those reasons are probably similar to most peoples reasons.
We live here because we want to live here. It is beautiful. It is not crowded. It is environmentally pretty healthy. We have a reasonable standard of living. The opportunities are many. The list goes on and on. Even in spite of the grievances we have from time to time and in some situations on an ongoing basis, there are some very healthy relationships as well. As indicated by the Premier, many of them are improving steadily, such as our recognition at many of the federal-provincial-territorial sessions that take place, and the progress that is visible in devolution talks. In fact, things like todays announcement of a joint EDA is an obvious success story. There are many constitutional developments that are favourable and I believe the motion before us encourages that kind of favourable development.
Mr. Clarks arrival tonight has already been mentioned, and the Premier has outlined many of the constitutional relationships that show signs of steady improvement. It seems to me that the strength of the support for a statement on this motion comes from our own track record. As Yukon people, we have taken many steps to involve people in decision making, to consult with each other, especially on major matters. People do have a voice and they have come to expect to be heard. I think we expect the same kind of consultation on constitutional matters about our countrys future as we, in the Yukon, expect from each other.
I attended the meeting held in Faro by the Select Committee on Constitutional Development and I heard ordinary citizens making their case about what they wanted to see, about Canadas future and how it should be done and what they expected in matters of consultation and unity and questions raised by the committee.
I think the motion calls for that same kind of a voice by the Yukon at large to be granted in the future developments of this country at a time when all provinces and the federal government are grappling with a solution to keep this country together.
We have taken something of a lead in developing aboriginal self-government in the Yukon. It is only appropriate to constitutionally enshrine what is ultimately to be put into practice. I think that as a country you cannot expect to remove a province from the middle and remain unified in any fashion that we have become accustomed to, just as we would not expect any of our communities or groups to withdraw from participation in the Yukon.
I think that a solution on such a grave matter as national unity ought to be debated and talked about, and that there ought to be a sharing of minds and ideas. We should be sending a message to our provincial, territorial and national counterparts.
The solutions are not going to be easy, as outlined by some previous speakers. We are going to need a lot of innovative and creative thinking. We may need some new structural elements and relationships, and we are certainly going to need a lot of understanding and effort to achieve a constitutional framework that will keep this country together.
I submit that our performance here on matters of consultation, consensus building, shared decision making and respect for culturally different groups is commendable. I think the message we want to extend to the rest of Canada is that they have something to gain from our experience.
Mr. Phelps: I want to become involved in debate at this time and speak about some concerns I have with regard to the motion. The concerns were raised by the Member for Riverdale South, mainly that the motion itself was an unfortunate one in the way it was worded. In my view, clearly a Committee of this Legislature has been struck and it was charged with the responsibility of travelling throughout the Yukon to seek the opinions of Yukoners in every community and every region of the territory with regard to issues such as those set forth in the motion.
I think it is truly unfortunate that no one on the other side took the time to study this motion and what it says, in order to ensure that the debate we have heard, in part at least thus far today, could have been done in a more appropriate manner - a manner that did not show disrespect to this very House, this Assembly, and in a manner that did not preempt the work of a Committee that we in this House set up to gather the views of Yukoners.
I feel very strongly that the Member was right when she moved a motion to adjourn debate on this motion for those simple reasons. There are some principles involved here. There are principles about the very respect that each and every member has for the institution of which we are a part.
I feel the motion itself is extremely unfortunate. I am rather saddened by the fact that it was allowed to come forward from the caucus of the side opposite in its present form, and I am further saddened by the fact that, for obvious political reasons, the side opposite chose to vote down the motion of adjournment put forward by the Member for Riverdale South.
I am not saying this because I have any problem with discussing the issues that are raised. I am not saying this because I think it is inappropriate for us, at this time, as Members, to be speaking about our opinions regarding the issues raised in this motion about Yukoners having a voice in all constitutional consultations about Canadas future, or with regard to us debating the issue of how we feel about aboriginal self-government agreements being constitutionally protected, or with regard to us debating at this time how we feel about Quebec remaining part of a unified Canada.
Some of us have some very strong and passionate feelings about these issues. I am going to give this Assembly some of my thoughts on these issues. I do not think that it is appropriate for us, at this point in time to be saying what the people of the Yukon want when we still have not heard from the sub-committee of this Assembly that went to seek their views on these issues. Why are we wasting this money?
It is an insult to the Members who went out and did this hard work. It is an insult to the people who worked with them. It is an insult to all of the people who attended all of the meetings that they held throughout the Yukon.
Like the Member for Faro, I attended the meeting in my constituency. It was interesting. There certainly was not a consensus, but people felt very passionately about these issues and others involving the unity of our country and the future of it.
I am sure that they would be shocked that we were now presumptuous enough, without hearing from that committee, with all of the meetings that they attended, to speak about what the people of the Yukon want as expressed in all of those individual meetings.
Enough of that, I am quite prepared to speak to some of these issues.
I enjoyed very much the speech given by the Government Leader. He does have some very valid views about many constitutional issues. I am sure we do not agree on some. I feel that it is appropriate that we all speak to those issues at this time. I just wish that the motion had not come forward in this fashion.
A couple of weeks ago, Mr. Spicer traveled to the Yukon. He paid the caucus the honour of meeting with us one morning for a fairly lengthy period of time to discuss Canadas future. We had some very frank discussions, wherein each of the Members of the caucus put forward their heartfelt views with regard to our countrys future. I had no difficulty whatsoever in sharing some of the current concerns that I raised - perhaps all of them, if I could remember them all - with Hon. Members in this House at this time.
My view is that Canadians have really lost sight of what this country is fundamentally about. It is my view that there is a very deep-seated need for all Canadians to start speaking about the basics of our democracy and the basic principles upon which our democracy ought to operate. It is a time for some commonsense views. In plain language, it is a time for us to speak in simple terms that everyone can understand.
I feel that in a large part, the malaise that faces this country has to do with the fundamental issue of fairness.
What we are really talking about is the social contract between each of us as citizens of this great democracy. I speak of fairness. I know that some people find that a little too plain to want to listen to. I think we have to get at the notion of equal rights and that we enter into this social contract as equals. The goals and objectives of any democracy have to be founded on the principle of equal rights of all citizens in all regions of the country.
Principles such as that, in plain language, are what people throughout this land are seeking. I would make the case - and I think I can support it reasonably well - that the very large backlash that we are experiencing, not only in western Canada but in all of English Canada, regarding Quebec has to do, more than anything, with a feeling that the Quebeckers and their province are being given special treatment, that there is some sort of plot afoot to confer special rights on Quebec. That suspicion is exacerbated by the double talk and double speak we get almost daily from politicians in every House in this land.
The backlash that we are experiencing has been growing rapidly in the past number of years and months - the backlash against multi-culturalism.
The backlash against multiculturalism, in my view, is founded on the same sense of unease and frustration. It is founded on the feeling of many, that once again we are creating a situation where some groups of citizens are being given special rights and that we do not have, therefore, equal rights in this country, and therefore the social contract is one that no one would surely, under free will, enter into.
The same issue, I think, will develop in the same sense of outrage and backlash and concern with regard to aboriginal self-government rights, if it is felt that there is an attempt here by the politicians and the negotiators to create special classes of people within our society, that there will be more than one class of citizen and that the whole basis for land claims is more than simply striving for equality among all peoples, including native peoples, but it is somehow a means of developing two classes of citizens with regard to fundamental rights in our Constitution.
While we are on the subject of aboriginal rights, I have always been a strong proponent, from day one, of a fair settlement of land claims within the Yukon, and I have held that view because I have always seen it as a means of redressing some wrongs and achieving equality in the Yukon, and ensuring that aboriginal people would finally have an equal voice and play an equal role in this territory and in this countrys great future.
I am increasingly concerned about the notion of special rights, and the constitutional entrenchment of these special rights, when they are reduced to some fundamental principles that, in my view, have no place in a true democracy. Every time there has been a democracy in the history of the world where people did not have equal rights and obligations as citizens of the county, that democracy has failed.
In discussing some of these concerns with Mr. Spicer when he was here, I acknowledged that there is a great deal of goodwill with regard to the settlement of the problems of Indian and First Nations people throughout Canada. The concern is that the goodwill is accompanied by a pretty basic lack of understanding of what the issues are. In my view, the policies of Canada are completely lacking in a thorough understanding of the goals and objectives of land claims processes, or of where they are going with regard to the Indian Act or the future of First Nations people.
We hear about this latest pronouncement of the federal government and the Prime Minister of having another royal commission, and I hope to hell that some people get down and get a firm understanding of simply where we are going with regard to trying to solve the so-called aboriginal problems and issues throughout the land. There is no understanding.
Federal policies with regard to Indian and First Nations issues are a hodge-podge. Many of them have not been created by any fundamental views of where we are headed as a country, or whether we believe in equality or even special rights. In my view, in many cases the policies have simply been devised because of political expediency, with no idea of where we are going.
These are knee-jerk reactions to pressure brought on by special interest groups, by well-meaning people who care about the plight of some of the First Nations involved, without any kind of fundamental view about what we see as the future of Canada or, how we as Canadians feel about where policies regarding aboriginal claims would lead.
Are we looking to ensure that aboriginal peoples are equal and that they have equal rights and equal opportunities? Is it really the view of Canadians that we are trying to create special rights for everybody, entrenched in the Constitution? I do not have the answers. I suspect that Ottawa does not either. In fact, I know that it does not.
Look at the way in which policy has evolved with regard to the Indian Act. I will make a case that the amendments to the Indian Act have not been thought out very well at all. They have been knee-jerk reactions to pressure on certain aspects of the act that have been amended. In my view, the whole act should have been examined. If you are going to throw it out, replace it with a policy that makes some sense and with the understanding that the policy is going to achieve something with regard to the rights of Canadians, with regard to readdressing wrongs, and with regard to compensating people who have lost a great deal because of our past and present history.
I started by saying that it is time for people to get down to the basics and speak in simple terms. There is no mystery about why average Canadians dislike politicians. It is because one does not get any straight answers from them. If you come into this House during Question Period, the game is - and it is a very clear one, and it is the game throughout the land - do not answer that question in plain language because it may have some political consequence for you - talk around it or double talk.
People are sick and tired of it. I am not a member of the Reform Party but I know some of the people who founded it; I knew them many, many years ago, in the 1970s, and I have watched with great interest the growing popularity of that party in the west as well as throughout Canada. I suspect that the appeal of that party, more than anything else, is that you have a person in Mr. Manning who goes about the country and answers questions directly, relying on some fundamental principles, in a language that people can understand. People are not used to that. It is a party that, without getting into the merits of it - because, as I say, I am not a Reform Party member or supporter - talks about fundamental issues and gives straight answers to questions that are addressed to the philosopher types behind it. You can watch Preston Manning on national TV and he does not try to be evasive, but every single other politician whom I have watched on TV and every single party other than this new one have been evasive and have tried to outsmart the public.
That is why people dislike politicians.
The Government Leader spoke about a constituent assembly, but my view is that what we need are some people like those who are responsible for drafting the American Constitution, people who are going to talk about the fundamental issues and where we want to go, people who are going to talk about all sides of the issue of special rights for any group of people, people who can explain why we have, or will have in the future, policies regarding Quebec that may be different from policies regarding other parts of the country. Instead of trying to hide or play political games, perhaps somebody will come along and, in a very rational way, address the issue of fairness and be able to sell the policy, or whatever it is, to the rest of Canada.
If you look at Quebec and its present relationship within our country, one of the means used in the past to allow it to have certain powers not exercised by the provinces was by agreement that the provinces could move into the same areas, but we knew that they probably would not choose to. The pension plan is one example. Perhaps when we are discussing how we deal with Quebec, and allow it to have some of the powers we all could have if we want - or would not want - that kind of approach to at least some of the aspirations of that province might we worth exploring and would be saleable to the rest of the country.
The notion that, somehow or other, Quebec is special comes back to the same basic problem, or flaw. If you are in a democracy, it is founded on the notion of equal rights and equal obligations.
The Government Leader spoke to the issue of the triple-E Senate and pointed out, quite rightly, that almost every position paper you read supporting the triple-E Senate seems to have different representation for the territories than they do for each of the provinces. I can say that I view the triple-E Senate as an important concept. Our party supports the concept, with the territories having an equal number of senators to each of the provinces.
I am not going to get into developing some unctuous thoughts about how passionately I feel about the future of this country. I do, however, feel very deeply about basic honesty and have an understanding and a clear vision of where we are going. That is not going to be accomplished with a whole bunch of emotion or high-falutin words. It is going to be accomplished through almost Socratic dialogue among the players of the country. The players are the citizens.
I have very little more to say. Once again, I regret the wording of the motion. I do feel that it is disrespectful to this place. I welcome the opportunity to share some of my thoughts with regard to Canada, its problems and its future. I enjoyed listening to the speakers before me. I will listen with great interest to those who follow.
Mr. Nordling: I would like to thank the Member for Old Crow for bringing this motion on Canadian unity forward to be debated. However, I agree with the Member for Riverdale South that it would have been more appropriate to adjourn debate on this motion until after the Select Committee on Constitutional Development tables its report in this House. That committee is a committee of the Legislative Assembly. It is not a government or opposition committee that was sent around.
It certainly is my opinion that, generally, Yukoners want a voice in all constitutional consultations about Canadas future. Yukoners also generally agree that Quebec should remain a part of a unified Canada. I am not sure if all Yukoners, or even a majority of Yukoners, know exactly what aboriginal self-government agreements are or will be, but that does not detract from the intent of the motion. I agree with the intent of the motion if it is to speak to and advocate Canadian unity.
As the Government Leader has said, all Yukoners have something to contribute to constitutional development and want a voice.
I understand the concerns of the minorities, those two minorities mentioned in the motion being aboriginal peoples and Quebeckers.
Let us take a practical approach to this and look briefly at the realities. What we have with respect to Quebec is a few million French-speaking people in an area of North America surrounded by 250 million English-speaking people. That is a reason to be nervous and a reason to fear a loss of their language and culture.
To aboriginal peoples, that fear has become, to a large extent, a reality. Most aboriginal peoples have lost their language and are in danger of losing their culture. What they fear is those English-speaking, non-aboriginal, non-Quebec Canadians, saying to them, Look, we have to be Canadians first, because when a Quebecker or an aboriginal person hears that, what they are hearing that English-speaking person saying to them is, You have to be like me. They certainly are not hearing that non-aboriginal, non-Quebecker saying We have to be Canadians first and I am going to be like you.
Their fear and their concern is real. They do want and need protection within a united Canada. Peace of mind must be negotiated for both of those groups of people and perhaps other minorities.
As the Leader of the Opposition has said, no one in Canada has the answer; obviously, Ottawa does not. My opinion is also that no one in Canada is special either. No one should be treated as special, but the reality is that there are a lot of groups in Canada that are different and we can have different groups in Canada and still be one proud and united country.
Surely, we can devise a process that does not paralyze the country, divide the people, startle the international community and make us all look like squabbling children.
With respect to this motion, it is too bad that the timing of it is poor, and that the wording of it is presumptuous. However, it has led to interesting debate, and I am sure we will hear a lot more on this topic.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I had intended to be brief before the debate started this afternoon, and I still intend to be brief, but I will have to address my remarks to a couple of other issues that have been raised by some Members as being significant ones, particularly the issue of timing of the discussion in advance of a committee report on Yukoners aspirations within the Canadian Constitution.
I do not share the views of the Members on the opposite benches with respect to their concern about the timing of the debate this afternoon. They may have guessed that, because I voted against the adjournment motion put forward by the Member for Riverdale South, who made reference only to the timing and did not contribute at all to the substance of the motion.
The reality in which we are placed, as a legislature and as a government, is that constitutional debate and discussion will take place in this country, and has taken place in this country, in the absence of any particular concern for the Yukon agenda, or any particular concern that Yukon should be broadly consulted and heard prior to decisions being made.
There has been no question, during the consultations with Yukoners with respect to their constitutional aspirations, that the Government of the Yukon had to speak on behalf of Yukoners on national questions respecting the constitutional development of this country.
Otherwise, there would have been silence from this corner of the country at times when we could ill afford to be silent.
The motion before us this afternoon was drafted to avoid interfering with the ultimate debate on the constitutional aspirations of Yukoners but, at the same time, allowing us to express a perspective that is not new to this Legislature in time for the arrival of the Minister responsible for Intergovernmental Affairs to discuss the issues of the constitutional future of this country.
I hope that Members who have spoken expressing concern about the timing of this motion do not expect the government nor the Cabinet nor the Premier to plead to the federal Minister that we are unable to continue speaking out on constitutional matters until such time as a Committee struck by the Legislature, which was not mandated to deal with the issues cited in the motion, had spoken.
It is obvious that the government and this Legislature have spoken out on these matters before, in particular the issue of the need for Yukon to have a voice in constitutional consultations and the constitutional future of this country with respect to their particular role. We have spoken out with respect to the issue of aboriginal self-government. I am certain the government has made its opinions clear on the need for self-government agreements to be constitutionally protected.
All the Members in this House have liberally - and I use that word advisedly - commented on the desirability of Quebec remaining a part of a unified Canada. I would hope and trust, given the wording of the motion before us, that this very limited and modest motion could be, at the minimum, supported by the Members of this Legislature.
I would feel very depressed and pessimistic about there being any constitutional consensus of any sort in this territory if we could not agree to this motion.
There has been the opportunity placed before us to speak on the motion respecting the Spicer Commission and the need to have a northern voice on the national constitutional committee. There has been relatively little opposition to the fact that the federal government, through the good offices of Joe Clark, has been discussing constitutional questions, including a short stay in the Yukon, prior to hearing from the Spicer Commission.
The point to be made is that debate on the constitution is not a linear debate. The point is that we come to consensus, over time, as it is a complex matter.
The Leader of the Official Opposition has appealed to politicians in this country to speak plainly and give straight answers to the public, in order to ensure there is honest debate about the constitutional future of this country. Who would want to quarrel with a remark like that? Certainly not I.
Unfortunately, the Member also cited Question Period as a time when plain talk is not the order of the day. With all due respect, that is a bad example as the information provided in Question Period, in my experience, has been very straight. Our concern has been the misinterpretation of government remarks, which is probably of the most serious concern in terms of how the public might perceive our proceedings.
I think one of the major concerns we face in this country is that politicians do not have the answers. Politicians have been buffeted back and forth between various opinions being expressed by different people and are perhaps unable to inspire the public with a particular vision of this country, perhaps not being desirous of inspiring the public of a particular vision. I believe that in many respects many politicians of this country have failed the public by not providing leadership on these questions. We heard the Member for Riverdale South today say that it may be impossible for Yukon legislators to actually comment on whether or not Quebec should stay in Confederation, because the Member had heard constituents express the view that it may not be worth keeping Quebec in Confederation.
If that is the political leadership in this country, if that is a reflection of how politicians generally respond to a question of this nature, I think it will be virtually impossible to show any kind of leadership or to inspire the public in any way that will cause us to come to some consensus as to the essential fundamentals of a constitutional framework that will bind this country in the future.
I believe that, generally speaking, the people of the Yukon do support the basic elements expressed in the motion. I believe that they have consistently desired a voice in constitutional discussions about the future of this country. I believe that they do wish that Quebec remain a part of Canada, and I do believe that they are prepared to accept the self-government agreements being constitutionally protected.
As the Member for Porter Creek West pointed out, there is a great deal of debate about what these elements may entail. What does it mean to have a constitutional voice? There are many different versions and variations of that perspective.
What does it mean to support aboriginal self-government? What does it mean if aboriginal self-government agreements are constitutionally protected? What does it mean to have Quebec a part of a unified Canada?
I think what we can usefully do, under the circumstances, is discuss what vision we have of Canada, with respect to what we can tolerate in terms of accepting a diversity of region, culture and language. If we insist on a homogeneous country where the majority language is the only language tolerated, or the majority culture is the only culture tolerated, then I think that we will not have a recipe for a constitutional framework that will be acceptable to this country.
It is most arrogant for some to demand that the dominant English language be spoken everywhere, that the culture of the majority is that which is practised by everyone, or even that the political traditions be practised - and I use that term loosely - everywhere in this country.
We spend much of our time in this Legislature insisting that the Yukon is different. Yukoners demand the right to be different and express unique views on what is socially acceptable, the acceptable role for government and the appropriate relationship between government and people. These are not views, as we have pointed out time after time, that are shared by all Canadians. But we do insist that we in this Legislature have the right to express different views. We in this Legislature insist that we have the right to support our public in a manner that may be different than the traditions of other governments in this country. Yet, we still express the view that we are proud Canadians.
The Member for Porter Creek East put forward a motion only today asking that schoolchildren be prepared to sing the national anthem before classes every day. What does that mean for schoolchildren in this country? Does that mean that if children in Old Crow sing the national anthem, they are buying into a whole package of qualities that may be culturally and linguistically unacceptable to them? If that is the vision of some people in that country, I think it would be considered unacceptable to people in Old Crow, or Sherbrooke, Quebec, or Halifax, Nova Scotia, or Whitehorse. People, in talking about being Canadian, are not insisting that they be members of a homogeneous group of English-speaking, Anglo-Saxon Canadians.
I think that if we can accept a diversity of cultures in this country; if we can accept that there exists different languages spoken by people in this country and; that these languages and cultures have a right to continue: that makes Canada, in some respects, unique and worth being a member of. That brings new meaning and new passion to the claim of being a Canadian.
If we insist that this country practice one culture-one language, and that we all act the same way, talk the same way, and behave the same way no matter where we are in this country, then I think that is a recipe for disaster. I do not believe that there can be a Canadian Constitution that can capture that spirit and keep this country together.
I did not plan to speak at great length. So many valuable and interesting points have been made so well by previous speakers that I would like the opportunity to listen to others. I think there is a great deal that remains to be said about our constitutional future and I look forward to debating this matter again, I hope in this sitting through the vehicle of the Constitutional Committees report to the Yukon Legislature. I hope that there will be many other opportunities as well to debate the issues. They are important to us.
I think it is important to note that we should be discussing constitutional arrangements beyond the boundaries of the Yukon. We spend so much of our time in this Legislature speaking only to issues that are unique and special to us. Our relationships with Canada and with the circumpolar north are relationships that will help to define the Yukons future in the years to come. I think that it is essential that we address these issues thoroughly whenever the opportunity arises.
I do support the motion, and I hope other Members of the Legislature can rise to the occasion and support the motion, as well. I hope the simple message that we speak today can be transmitted to the federal government at the first opportunity, which may be today, and that Members will have the opportunity, once again, to debate this issue in the weeks to come.
Mr. Lang: I rise to speak to the timing of the motion in this House. I want to express to all Membersr, as the Leader of the Official Opposition did, that I feel strongly that the timing of this motion is inappropriate.
To go back to when we created the Select Committee on Constitutional Development: it was established on May 14, 1990, by a motion presented to this House by a long-term Member of the Legislature, Mr. Penikett. I will quote a couple of statements he made at that time. He stated, The green paper we have released talks about the history of constitutional development in the territory. It talks in broad terms about the options ahead of us: whether we can continue to aspire to be a province, like any other, whether we can content ourselves to remain in a form of colonial territorial status in perpetuity, or whether there are some other arrangements that might be mutually satisfactory, both to the country and to us.
Then he goes on further. I would say frankly that it is the governments hope here that the Committee that is proposed would operate on the model established by the Renewable Resources Select Committee, a Committee that had full-party representation and heard public opinion and then reported to the House. Then there is a very key statement made; he goes on to say, and provided the basis for government and legislative action, which followed in subsequent months and years.
The Constitutional Committee travelled at great expense around the territory, as the Member for Riverdale South noted. They went from community to community to discuss the future of the Yukon, and in a number of those meetings the future of the country was also discussed. I am not privy to that particular report, but it would seem to me, logically, and as a Member of this House, that we should have received a copy of the Constitutional Committee report before we debated the bigger question of the constitutional direction of Canada. If we do not know where we, as a jurisdiction are going to go, if we do not know whether or not there is a common consensus within this House on the direction that we should go, then obviously, we are not in a position to speak as one in respect to where we feel the country should go.
As the Member for Riverdale South pointed out, in order to talk about the larger picture you have to speak first to the smaller picture, which in our case, in the context of Canada, is Yukon.
With the decision by the side opposite to vote against the motion presented by the Member for Riverdale South, to adjourn debate until we had received the report of the constitutional committee, shows, in my view, a disrespect for the Legislature and the Members of this House.
Over the course of this debate, we found that the Member for Mayo indirectly admitted that one of the reasons for the motion, and for having it debated today, was so the Government Leader - who now calls himself Premier - could speak to Mr. Clark, who happens to be in town this evening and tomorrow. In other words, the feeling of importance and being able to speak on behalf of this territory - although we have preempted a select committee of this House - was more important to the Member who would call himself King than the importance that we, as MLAs and Members, have to this House.
I am not shocked or surprised by the governments decision to defeat the adjournment motion. It is becoming more and more evident that what is good for the political party across the way is more important than what is good for the Legislature as an institution.
The decision taken by the side opposite to vote against the adjournment motion says, loud and clear, that they do not care what this side thinks. They are just going through the motions. It is going to be like the constitutional committee. They do not care about what is in that report although they talk about consensus, cooperation, consultation and communication. That is not what the government wants. The government is going to do exactly what they feel like doing, when they feel like it and any time they want.
I guess what we are seeing and what we are experiencing is a government that has been there a long time, that has been in power a long time; we are seeing a government that is becoming contemptuous of the general public that we are supposed to represent. As Members of this House, we are only messengers on behalf of the people of the territory. There is utter distain and almost contempt demonstrated now and again by the Members opposite. For an example, the issue brought forward by the Member for Riverdale South speaks volumes in itself. They talk about how important it is to have a unified front in the Legislature, but not one Member from that side came and discussed any element of this motion with any Member, to my knowledge, on this side of the House. It appeared suddenly on the Order Paper, and suddenly it became of utmost importance.
The Member for Mayo spoke earlier and he gave us the impression that he wondered how we could even dare bring forward another point of view on an issue that was so important to Canada.
There are obvious differences of opinion on how we feel about our country and where we feel our country is going. Quite frankly, I am very troubled as a Canadian when I see what is happening to our country. I have had the opportunity, primarily because of my participation in public life as an MLA, to travel across this country. We have one of the greatest countries in the world - one of the greatest countries in the world. We are talking now about it perhaps breaking up. The question is: why? I note the side opposite is so contemptous of the United States of America .
Look at the United States of America, and go to Alaska. I have relatives located in a small Eskimo community in the outback of Alaska, at the mouth of the Yukon River. You meet them, one and all and, above all else, they are Americans. Then, they are Alaskans. Thirdly, they talk about being Eskimos.
The Member for Old Crow snickers to herself. When she brought this motion forward, her whole speech was not about Canada. She talked about what she could take from Canada, not what she could give to Canada. I ask her why.
We should listen to what the Member for Hootalinqua has to say. He said it very well, and gave some candid observations about our country and what we should be looking at in the fundamental principles of our country.
The motion speaks about Yukon wanting a voice in constitutional consultations. Who, in their right mind, cannot argue that point? Do we have any blueprint of what we feel Canada should do, or how Canada should change its political structures to meet the very real needs of the people of Canada today and in the future, other than through platitudes, or by standing up and saying that we believe in one Canada? Why are we in the situation in this country, where we in the west, and sometimes the northwest, feel deprived and that the centre of Canada gets most of the benefit and, when they feel like it, they throw some minor benefits to those in the wilderness.
The Leader of the Official Opposition referred to the triple-E Senate, which the Government Leader scoffed at. That particular fundamental change in our political system could well meet a lot of the problems that we face as Canadians.
Take a look at our neighbor nation, the United States of America, and see how their country has developed. How come they have major industry in the State of California? Yet, you look at Canada and say to yourself that it is all in Ontario and Quebec. Why has the United States of America been able to diversify its economy right across their nation, even to the State of Alaska? Perhaps we can learn something from how other countries govern themselves and see how some of their ideas can be incorporated into our country.
I will tell the people here why the United States of America, in good part, has become the nation it is today. It is because they have the Senate. The State of Alaska gets two Senators and the State of New York gets two Senators. Those people in Alaska are just as important when it comes to the nations business as those down in Louisiana.
This is not the case in our country. Let us face it. Because of our system, the political priority has to be the question of what are we going to do with Ontario and Quebec. That in part - not in total - is why we are in the situation we are today. The west is growing up and is beginning to speak out. The west is starting to realize that some of the benefits that should be going to the west are not going that way, primarily because of the political expediency of all three political parties - not just one of the political parties, but all three.
I think that we, as Members of this House, should take a very serious look at how we feel as a Legislature - not just as political parties - and of how we feel we should fit in as a jurisdiction within Canada. We should look at how we are going to evolve toward an equal partnership within our country.
The principle of our country has to be based on our citizenry feeling - not only feeling, but knowing - that they have equal rights, whether you come from Newfoundland, Northwest Territories or British Columbia. The tragedy of that right now is that that feeling is not prevalent within our country.
Once again, the question has to be asked: why not? Why does such a large segment of our population feel alienated from all political parties? Why are Canadians standing up and saying that they do not want Legislatures deciding for them and that they do not want politicians to make the decisions for them?
I hear the intellectual recommendations being put forward that talk about a constituency assembly. Well, what is that? That is going to be people being elected, similar to all Members in this House. It may be in a different forum. It may be a different process that Canadians would go through to be part of this constituency, but the reality is that somebody is going to have to make decisions respecting the future of this country. They are going to have to be, in one way or another, elected.
I feel that if the decision is to go to that kind of a forum, I would submit that the politicians, once again, are divesting themselves of the responsibilities that they have been elected to do.
I would conclude my remarks on the question of Yukons constitutional future by saying that I feel that we should be developing a blueprint of options of what we could do. We should have a debate, at some given time in this House, of what we feel we should be doing as Yukoners and as a jurisdiction. We have options, for example, like the triple-E Senate.
Once that definitive decision has been made, then the leader of the government of that time would have the ability to say exactly what Yukoners feel should happen to our country. We have not had that.
As I said earlier, we have had platitudes. Over the past six years, we have had the Government Leader talking about the evolution of the Yukon and devolution of power, but we have seen very little. At least in part, the government has a responsibility to bring a plan forward for debate and to inform the public about what they see for the future.
Another area I want to turn to is the second part of the motion. It is the constitutional protection of the aboriginal self-government agreement. At one time, as a member of the public, I had a lot of difficulty accepting and understanding the principle of aboriginal title. Over a period of time, I think I came to an understanding, probably like many other Yukoners, and feel there is some merit here. I was prepared to accept it.
The Government Leader always brings that up and tries to portray me as a racist, because I questioned a concept and principle.
That, in itself, is disappointing. He knows he is rewriting history and trying to portray history in a different context from what actually happened.
I was part of the government that agreed to a land claim package back in 1985, and recommended that it be entrenched in the Canadian constitution. In that package, there were some compromises by all sides, but as a member of the government, as an MLA, I felt it was a common understanding and a partnership among all parties of where the Yukon could go and how we could work together.
I have difficulty now with the section in the motion, because I no longer know what self-government agreements are, and I think most Yukoners also do not know what they are. In fact, I know they do not.
Back in 1985, the package that was agreed to was referred to as the one-government system: the laws that would be passed in this House would apply to everyone, evenly and equally. Now, it is not clear, and nobody is coming forward to speak straightforwardly to the public. I ask the Government Leader: does this act apply? Is it going to apply to all people in the territory, the way it is being passed here? The reply we get back is that they do not know. We do not know, for example, if the Environment Act is going to apply to all of the land in the Yukon, because we have not debated it in land claims. I have difficulty, as a citizen and as an elected Member, accepting the principle that the laws made in this Legislature are not going to apply to all people in the territory. There may be a transition period - I accept that - but eventually we must have one government.
We must have one representative government where the laws of the land are made, amended and passed because, if you do not, you do not have a country. You do not have people who feel equal before the law. You have a country where people grow up disliking each other and do not know each other, because it goes back to that fundamental issue the Leader of the Official Opposition spoke to, and that is every Canadian feeling equal. The perception in many quarters is that is not the case.
I want to turn to the situation in Quebec. I have had the opportunity to visit Quebec. It is a very beautiful area of the continent, and there are some very nice people there. In fact, my son has the opportunity this week, leaving tomorrow, to go on an exchange trip and stay with a French-Canadian family. It is a wonderful opportunity, and an opportunity that any one of us in this House would like to have had when we were going to school. Yet, there is no question, in my very short exposure to the Province of Quebec, that it is a very different province of Canada.
It is going to have to be dealt with in the discussions coming up, similar to what the Leader of the Opposition is saying, on some areas of responsibility that they would like to assume versus, perhaps, what the Province of British Columbia would assume.
In those discussions, we cannot be seen, and neither should they be seen, as having a special right over the Province of British Columbia or over Yukoners. Once that is done, and once that is seen to be done, then we fail. I know that the language law in Quebec concerns Canadians very much. If that had been done in the Province of British Columbia, or the Yukon Territory, the Government of Canada and all three political parties would have come down so hard if any of those legislatures had recommended that their signs could only be in English.
It would have been a national debate by the three political leaders of the three national parties - now, six years ago and 20 years ago - about how treasonous it was that the province of British Columbia would do that. What happened in Quebec? What happened to the three political parties? Did they speak up? Oh no, and there is an English minority there, a large English minority, if we want to talk about minorities. Who stood up for them? It was a vacuum. Do you know why? It came down to votes. It did not come down to what was right or wrong or what the national governments responsibility was. It came down to the fact it was Quebec; it is different. If the province of Nova Scotia does it, we will step on them. Once again, it goes back to the feeling of fairness, the feeling of being part of Canada.
I, for one, have no problem with the principle of bilingualism, recognizing the population in the province of Quebec, but no one has spoken to the principle of bilingualism and how it is affecting the country. I will give you an example. I am sure many of us in this House have talked to people who have made or are looking forward to careers in the RCMP. I have been told a number of times that you are only going to go so far. Unless you are bilingual, you will not receive any further promotions. That does not promote goodwill. Put yourself in the position of a young corporal, knowing that maybe he has the chance of two more career moves and that is it, the door is shut. That, in my judgment, is a major problem with how bilingualism has been instituted in our country. Who stands up and questions it? It is a sacred cow. You cannot question that. You cannot question how it is being instituted, because all of a sudden you are opposed to French Canadians.
That is not the case at all. It is a case of Canadians, perhaps those in the west, in the the east or even those in Quebec, saying, look, this has to be given a hard look, what are we doing, where are we going?
I have no problem in standing up and saying that I want my country to stay together. As I said earlier, I am very troubled, as a Canadian, when I see what is taking place. At what cost? At the next constitutional meeting that takes place, what is the government, representing this Legislature, prepared to offer? I want to know. I want to know as a citizen and as an MLA.
I want to conclude by saying that I am really disappointed, as the longest-serving Member of this House, that the side opposite would choose to bring a motion forward that, in my judgment, is premature. They should have had the decency to have waited for the report of the committee that has been struck by this House to see what they had heard and so that we would be in a better situation to deal with a motion of this kind.
Further to that, I would have thought that a motion, with the degree of importance the Government Leader had attached to it, according to his remarks, would have at least been discussed with the Leader of the Official Opposition to some degree to see if there were areas of common interest. That did not happen.
I want to express my disappointment. I think there could have been a better way to do this. I am looking forward to hearing what other Members have to say with respect to the process and why we are dealing with this motion at this time. I would also like to hear what they have to say about Canada as a whole.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I find myself in rather a unique position today in discussing this topic. Along with the Member for Riverdale South, I sat on the Yukons Select Committee on Constitutional Development; in fact, I had the honour of chairing that committee. I obviously believe that the topic of national unity does not conflict with our committees report. Certainly, many Yukon people had comments on a broad spectrum of topics.
I am pleased to note the amount of interest in our report that as has been expressed here today. Our select committee did not receive national attention like the one from Quebec and other regional committees considering the constitutional future of this country, but we did hear from a lot of people in the Yukon who showed genuine concern not only for the future of the Yukon but also for the future of Canada.
When our select committee was established by a motion in this House on May 14 last year, we were instructed to invite comments from all Yukoners on constitutional development in the Yukon. We held public meetings in all Yukon communities from February to April this year. Before I continue, let me assure this House that our report will be tabled in the very near future.
We heard from people in groups with varying perspectives on the direction in which we should be moving constitutionally. Regardless of the point of view expressed, what was heartening to me was that opinions were expressed in this kind of open forum. I was not surprised. The people of the Yukon are open and caring, and the people of the Yukon are forward thinkers; they are people who also want a voice in planning.
Discussions on constitutional development were no exception. This is what the people of the north, here in the Yukon and in the Northwest Territories, have been saying for a long time. We know that change is an inevitable product of the passage of time and we want to be heard when discussions take place about the direction of change and how change is to be implemented.
That voice has been denied us in the past. Our Premier has worked steadfastly to bring Ottawa the message that we, the people of the Yukon, are a part of Canada. We want to be heard like other Canadians. Perhaps tomorrows visit by Mr. Clark is a sign that his voice has not landed on totally deaf ears.
In the meantime, we must continue to use all means possible to impress upon the federal government that we want to take part in making the decisions that affect our country, as well as the Yukon.
Quite a few years ago, this government made a commitment to the people of the Yukon that they would be consulted about major decisions to be made by the government. No government before us provided such forums for extensive public discussion. Expectations are high in the territory. What was once a rarity in process has become the norm. I find it interesting that other governments in this country, including the federal government, are turning to public consultation as a way to give people the democratic platform that is rightfully theirs.
We can be proud that the Yukon was in the forefront of innovative thinking in developing workable consultation and in responding to the voice of the people. Likewise, with reference to the motion before us today, the people of the Yukon are demanding a full voice in federal constitutional debates. We are not afraid of making difficult decisions. We want to be part of those decisions while they are being made and not just to be informed about what someone has decided for us after the fact.
The failure of Meech Lake was a bitter experience for many people in Quebec. That bitter experience of being shut out by the rest of Canada is not foreign to the Yukon either. It is not unknown to First Nations in the Yukon and in other parts of Canada.
I am coming from a position of believing that there is a future for a unified Canada. The Canada that we have known will no doubt change in the months and years ahead, but is change really such a bad thing? Frankly, I believe that change reflects a growing process that, while difficult, can be positive. Consensus is the key and consensus requires participation and the opportunity to participate, and no one should be denied the opportunity to participate - least of all the peoples of the First Nations of Canada.
In the Yukon, where at least 25 percent of the population is composed of aboriginal people, we are in a unique position to be able to show that all segments of our population can have the opportunity to participate in developing workable solutions to the challenges that we face in land claims, constitutional development or some other aspect of our lives.
So it is, too, that federally, a large number of Canadians, members of First Nations, cannot be left out of constitutional discussions. Aboriginal people must have a voice in changes that affect their rights. Constitutionally entrenched self-government agreements are key to the protection of aboriginal rights in this country. Self-government agreements are fundamental to the development of strong Yukon communities. Only when the government has fulfilled its constitutional obligation to settle land claims, can the constitutional development of the Yukon be complete. The relationship between First Nations and government must be redefined in a way that sees First Nations having jurisdiction over their own affairs.
Self-government agreements will not split the Yukon, as some would have us believe. Self-government agreements will strengthen Yukon communities. They will facilitate strong, working relationships between First Nations, municipal councils or local governments. First Nations will have a recognized and effective way to develop agreements with municipalities on matters of joint interest. No logical argument can be made to maintain the constitutional status quo in our country.
This is a time of renewal. It is a time of renewal. It is time to face the current challenges and develop workable partnerships that will sustain this country for the future.
The unanimity rule is exclusive. It leaves out the very people in this country whom it can most directly affect. There can be some support by northern jurisdictions for the seven-provinces-and-50-percent-of-the-population rule, but not insofar as this rule affects the extension of provincial boundaries into the north or the creation of new provinces.
Decisions on these matters cannot be taken out of the hands of the people most directly affected. Constitutional change affecting the northern territories must involve the people of the north. Aboriginal people must also have a voice in changes that affect their rights. Many provinces in Canada are still working on their constitutional positions. Recommendations from the provinces may or may not be based on the premise of a unified Canada.
I am speaking today in support of this motion and the clause that Quebec remain a part of Canada, just as I support the demand by Yukoners to have a voice in Canadas future and the concept of the constitutional entrenchment of aboriginal self-government agreements. I, too, want to encourage Quebeckers to remain a part of a unified Canada.
The Government of Yukon is making a constructive contribution to the debate on Canadas constitutional future. The goal is to gain a place for the Yukon representation in national institutions and for the acknowledgment of full aboriginal rights.
The Government of Yukon has been negotiating the transfer of provincial-like powers that are adequately funded and serve the long-term interests of the people of the Yukon. Transfer negotiations are governed by the 1988 Canada/Yukon Memorandum of Understanding on Devolution. That memorandum outlines the federal and Yukon negotiating guidelines, including the point that transfers depend on Yukon priorities.
Transfers are also done in consultation with Yukon Indian people and must be consistent with land claim agreements. Several transfers have been completed in recent years, including the transfer of the Northern Canada Power Commission, freshwater fisheries, mine safety, B and C airports, and inter-territorial roads, and other transfer agreements are being worked on.
This, it seems, brings me full-circle in my comments today. Just as the people of the Yukon have had the opportunity to state their views on constitutional development, we should also have the right to take part in discussions about the Canadian constitutional development, as those discussions are carried out at the federal level. We live in a democracy, and the rights and privileges of our democracy are balanced by our responsibilities as citizens. One of those responsibilities is to participate in the process of government. If that opportunity is denied to any one of us, it is denied to us all. It is denied to the aboriginal peoples in this country. Our democracy is compromised at its very roots.
Representatives from other areas of Canada cannot fairly represent the Yukon at discussions about issues that concern us. We have a Canadian Bill of Rights and a Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but we must have a place at the decision-making stage and not simply be left to comment when our comments can have no effect.
We accept fully the cultural dimensions of this country. We accept fully the linguistic reality in which we live. Our reality in the Yukon is more than a duality of languages. We are rich in the heritage of many peoples: those who lived off the land from the beginning, and those who have chosen to settle here. It is this reality that we are asking to be acknowledged by the rest of Canada. We are a small jurisdiction, but we are a part of this country and will claim our seat at the tables of discussions on issues that affect us.
We have a lot to offer this country. I hope Mr. Clark will be presented with a copy of todays debate when he is here tomorrow, and I hope he hears the words. We are part of the constitutional renewal of Canada. We should not be left out again.
Mr. Phillips: I would like to add my voice in support today for the words that were spoken by the Member for Riverdale South. I was somewhat puzzled when I read the motion that was tabled by the Member for Old Crow in this House today. The motion speaks to what Members of the Assembly believe to be an opinion of the people of the Yukon on matters such as having a voice in all constitutional consultations that will affect Canadas future, the protection of aboriginal self-government in the constitution and whether or not Quebec should remain as a part of Canada.
The Government Leader also talked about Yukoners will to be involved in future constitutional talks, and the Yukons future as a province or territory. It seems, for one reason or another, we are pushing the cart before the horse again.
I do not believe we can express the views of the Yukon people on this issue. To pass the message on in these strong terms, we first have to receive the message, and we have not received that from the Yukon people. We are supposedly going to hear the report that is coming into this House sometime next week or the week after about what people see as Yukons role.
We spent thousands of dollars listening to those territorial concerns, and we have yet to see that special Committees report. I do not believe we have the right to preempt Yukoners views on this issue. No wonder people become so cynical about politicians.
Just six months ago, the Government Leader was telling us he wanted to hear from Yukoners and that their opinion counted. In fact, he made a big hoopla about the whole issue in striking this Constitutional Committee and he told us it was very important to the Yukons constitutional future in Canada. Today, it does not matter. Today, it is secondary, because the Government Leader wants to impress his national friends, one of whom he just happens to be meeting with tomorrow. It is really unfortunate that the Government Leader believes that he knows what is best for Yukoners, before he hears from Yukoners.
It is funny what a couple of terms in government will do to any government.
Although this motion has good intentions, its timing is a real slap in the face to the legislative committee and to all the Yukoners who spoke at those meetings. I notice the Member for Whitehorse South Centre rejected the idea that we adjourn debate on this motion, and that disappoints me. I thought that Member treated her work on that committee quite seriously.
It will be interesting to listen to the comments of all Members of this House, especially the constitutional committee, if that report happens to condemn or contradict any of the items in the motion that we are dealing with here today.
I would like to make a few comments on the intentions of this motion. I would like to emphasize that the comments I am going to make are strictly my own. I would prefer to wait until I have heard from Yukoners before I try to reflect their views.
The first issue deals with Yukoners having a voice in future constitutional talks. I supported this concept from day one. I have expanded that theory in my own personal work with a national group, of which I am a member. It took three years but now the Yukon has the same representation on the board of the Canadian Wildlife Federation as the Province of Ontario does. In fact, as a Yukon delegate, we moved a motion that was unanimously supported that allowed the NWT an equal voice, as well. The Canadian Wildlife Federation is one of the few national organizations that now have two directors from each province and each territory in the country, and all have an equal voice. This is similar to what would happen with a triple-E Senate. That voice is well heard in the Canadian Wildlife Federations deliberations. Many of the resolutions and motions that come out of that federation now originate from the Yukon members, with full support of delegates from across the country.
It took a while to convince the delegates that we were more than just the land of ice and snow. The Canadian Wildlife Federation now treats Yukon as equal to all other provinces and territories. Only by involvement in future constitutional talks will we educate the rest of Canada about northerners. Only by participating will we be able to convince them that we are just as Canadian as they are.
The second part of the motion states that the people of the Yukon want aboriginal self-government agreements constitutionally protected. What is aboriginal self-government, as the government defines it? I support the aboriginal people controlling their own destiny, but what is aboriginal self-government? How will it affect other existing governments? How will it affect Yukoners and other Canadians? How will it affect the First Nations? There are many unanswered questions on this issue and no one, not even the Government Leader or the Member for Old Crow, has any clear answers. In fact, the Government Leader, when he is asked questions in this House, continues to evade the issue and tells us that the self-government issue is many different things to many different people.
It is not clear. It is one thing to ask people to support aboriginal self-government but it is a warm and fuzzy word. I suppose people could support aboriginal self-government if they knew exactly what it was. Even prominent native leaders in this country have difficulty defining exactly what aboriginal self-government is; it seems to change from week to week and month to month.
It was defined in the 1984 agreement, but that aboriginal self-government agreement now seems to have changed from the 1984 agreement and no one has given us a clear definition. In fact, the Government Leader spoke out in the House here just a few days ago and told us that we had to wait for certain land claims agreements to define exactly what it is.
I think if you want the full support of somebody for something, you have an obligation to explain to them exactly what it is you want, or what it is you mean. That has not clearly been done by the side opposite, by the First Nations, by anyone. If you were to go out on the streets of Whitehorse tomorrow, and stop anyone in the street and say, Can you explain to me what aboriginal self-government is? they could not do it, because no one really knows clearly what it is.
If it is being asked for or demanded, I think that governments, government leaders and First Nations owe it to the general public to explain what it is.
The last area states that Yukoners want Quebec to remain part of Canada. Personally, I support this wholeheartedly and I cannot envision Canada without Quebec. There is a real lack of understanding of the different regions in this country. It is a large country and, even though we live in modern times, communication between the east and the west, the north and the south, English and French, seems to be sadly lacking.
We, in the Yukon and in the west, know so very little about Quebeckers and Quebec, and vice versa. We rely on the media and headline news stories to form our opinions of Quebeckers. A good example of that is the English-only law that was passed in Quebec. I was offended by that law and angry at Quebec that we, in the Yukon, were dealing with so many issues and were trying to provide French services to the French community and trying to cooperate in that manner, yet the government in Quebec was turning around and saying that there would be no English in Quebec.
I had an opportunity, last October, to speak to several of the Quebec delegates of the Canadian Wildlife Federation. They had no idea of how I felt about it. They had no concept about how we in the west were interpreting that. Yet, when they explained it to me, I had a better understanding of what it was. I did not agree with it but, when I finished talking to them, they felt a little more compassion for our feelings as well. That says a lot about communication in the country.
On that subject, I look at what has happened in the last few months with the Spicer Commission. I do not know what is going to happen as a result of it but, in some ways, it was a useful exercise. Where I think it failed badly was in communications between Canada and Quebec. I know a lot of what went on in English Canada with the Spicer Commission, as I listened to many of the hearings. I also listened to the media and read the newspapers, but I know very little of what went on in Quebec.
I am sure there are many Quebeckers in Quebec who want to remain part of Canada, and I know there are many Canadians, myself included, who would like to see Quebec remain in the country. We have to keep this country together, and we have to exhaust all avenues to do that.
In closing, I only wish that the Government of the Yukon had respected the work of the legislative committee before it presented this motion to the House. I believe the government, itself, has clouded this motion today, and it could have been a very positive motion. If we had dealt with the legislative committees work and then dealt with a motion such as this, we would have a lot more support than we are getting in this House today.
Mr. Brewster: At least one good thing has come out of today: I have my leader looking at something else that he has told me for two years he would not do. Perhaps I have gained a little ground, and I will have to talk to him some more.
I am completely surprised and disappointed that we would bring this motion in when we knew that the Constitutional Committee would be tabling its report very shortly. I can imagine what the Hon. Minister for Tourism would have thought if this had happened to us when we travelled around. They work very hard at these committees; they spend very long hours. To me, quite frankly, it is an insult to be sent out of this House by this Legislature and then a motion is put on the floor to debate things that should be in that report.
I know some Members are going to say that Quebec was not in it, but I followed that matter in my area. I went to every meeting they had there, which included four in four different communities, and I do not think there was any meeting when Quebec was not mentioned. It is all mixed in. Frankly, people do not really understand a lot of it, nor do I, quite frankly, but it is all mixed in together, and people want answers, but they are not getting answers.
I suppose in one way I am not disappointed. I have seen this government change completely and I am very disappointed in this. I will say - although I should not say it, as the Government Leaders chest will swell - that when I first came into this House and sat in that very chair there, he was one of the only ones who I thought respected this Legislature and respected the rules and the laws. Many times he backed me even among his own people when they were trying to give me a rough time. I know this. My, how things change when you are in government for a while, and this really disappoints me.
I would like to give a few examples. One of the things the Wildlife Management Board is running around trying to sell - among other things - is that the rules be changed, so that everything is in regulation not in legislation. They want to take a little more away from the Legislature. I hope that people will stand up and talk on this one. At the meetings I attended, people were so upset over the search warrant issue that they missed these completely. These are little things that we pick up because we are in this Legislature. Believe me, if that comes in here, there will be some hollering from me.
I learned a lot from the Government Leader in the Public Accounts Committee. He was the chairman when I was there. They changed this around so that they now have the government instead of the Opposition having the chair position, and it was all for some petty little thing that should not have been at all - politics. They now have two Cabinet Ministers on the committee. People do not have faith in that committee anymore, as far as I am concerned.
The Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments, which is an old, dull committee that I sat on, is so very important. That committee tries to control the Deputy Ministers and tries to control the departments, the regulations and the orders-in-council.
That committee has never sat since this government has been in. There is no control over it at all. I sat on it for three years when we were in government, and I know how dull and hopeless it is, but I cannot understand that. The Government Leader, at the present moment, was always interested when we brought our reports in. I can remember him quite often complimenting us because, quite often I stood up and slapped even my own government, because they were not doing what the rules and regulations said they should do.
Things are changing. Once you become the leader, you seem to turn around, maybe it is the pressure, and you get to the point where you are not a bit interested.
On the motion itself, the first one says a voice in all constitutional consultations about Canadas future. If that had been the motion, I do not think there would be any problem. I have never heard a person in the Yukon say that they do not agree with that. That is something that we can all agree with.
The second one is that aboriginal self-government agreements should be constitutionally protected. I have no problem protecting it if we know what it is. You go ask anyone in my area, or anywhere in the Yukon, about self-government, and they cannot tell you. They cannot even tell you here. They get rattled around, it is going to be this way and that, and I have talked to chiefs on it. One has an idea here, and one has an idea there. How can you vote on a thing like that when you do not know what it is? What are we doing in this House voting on things that we do not understand? The government can be blamed for that, because they have never put it out to the people. The people do not understand it and, when people do not understand something, it is quite apparent that they distrust it, and they certainly distrust politicians.
I was around when that Constitutional Committee went around. I will not say all the things I said because you would probably put me out of the House for unparliamentary language.
A great number of them said that Quebec should go. There were lots of them. The Minister of Education said that this is not happening. He had better go and talk to people in the street. Some people said Quebec should stay, but on equal terms with us. They should get no special privileges. Another said that if Quebec wants to stay and wants special status, we want no part of it. Another said, and this is very important, that they were simply tired of the whole thing and had no more views.
How could I truthfully speak and vote in this House for people on a fundamental issue about which we have never talked to the people of the Yukon. We did not campaign on this. We never promised anyone during the election that we were going to do this. This is a fundamental right. It is not a change in regulation or the making of a new law. It is a fundamental right that the people of the Yukon should have.
There are many Members in the House today who are speaking their own views. They are not speaking the views of Yukoners. I challenge every Member in this Legislature to state how many times any of them ever went out and held a meeting strictly to ask what people want.
I challenge anyone to stand up or put their hand up and tell me that they had a meeting among their own constituents on the Constitution. Not very many.
Speaker: Order please, the time being 5:30 p.m. I will declare a recess until 7:30 p.m.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that you report the score of the hockey game and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion Agreed to
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Mr. Speaker, with respect, sir, I believe that I heard the motion was that Mr. Speaker report the score of the hockey game and leave the Chair.
Speaker: The score is 5 to 1 for the North Stars.
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to Order.
Before we start, I would like to ask Members to join me in welcoming my nephew, who is down from Old Crow for medical reasons, but he is stuck here because of the flood. His name is Vincent Tetlichi.
We are on general debate for the Department of Tourism.
Bill No. 3 - Third Appropriation Act, 1990-91
Department of Tourism
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Department of Tourism is requesting supplementary estimates of $128,000 in operation and maintenance and $56,000 in capital. The net increase of $128,000 is largely required for salary settlement increases. The variance of $56,000 in capital is needed for two items: $20,000 is requested for the planning and design of the renovations to the train depot in Carcross, which is planned to be used as a visitor reception centre this summer. The remaining $36,000 is required for estimated salary settlement increases.
There are also some minor reallocations between capital projects that do not require any additional funds.
I would be pleased to answer any questions the Members may have with regards to this supplementary.
Mr. Phillips: Could the Minister bring us up to date on the results that we are receiving from Destination Yukon and the work that they have done? Are we getting positive results?
Hon. Mr. Webster: At this time, it is a little too early to determine the extent of the results from our Destination Yukon program, which was kicked off last season. We are now making an analysis of the benefits being derived. We are expanding the Destination Yukon program this year. In addition to the Canadian market, we are now entering the American market in a big way.
As a result of the preliminary analysis, which showed a good deal of success in last years program, we have managed to attract some new partners this year, for example, the White Pass and Yukon Corporation.
Mr. Phillips: Are we stepping up the Celebration 92 side of Destination Yukon? Last year, the Minister said we were not going to do very much on it and that this was going to be the year we would focus more on Celebration 92 to attract visitors here for that bicentennial.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Yes, we have done that in a big way. Many of the trade shows over the winter months involved special promotions of Rendezvous 1992 and, of course, this week in Calgary, for Rendezvous Canada, the Anniversaries Commission has its own booth down there. The Member may also note that, in our travel brochure this year, the Anniversaries Commission was advertised and promoted in a much bigger way than last year.
Mr. Phillips: I would like to turn to the potential for tourism this year and the forecasts. I understand that, in some sectors, it is going to be up fairly dramatically. Cruise ship traffic is going to increase by almost 100,000 people. I do not know if they are all going to funnel through the Yukon, but I know they are coming up the west coast, and some will certainly come through here.
I have also heard rumors that Dawson may be down this year, compared to the north highway being up, because of the new buses that are being put on, and a lot of the traffic is going to be routed in a different direction. Could the Minister update us on that?
Mr. Phillips: The Member is quite correct about the estimates for the cruise traffic this year. It will be up quite significantly. Westours traffic along the Alaska Highway will be up considerably, although it will be down in Dawson, partly as a result of the new buses they have put on the Alaska Highway route. Princess Tours is also showing a decline in Dawson City as a result of not as much success as they had hoped for last year with their program among Fairbanks, Eagle and Dawson. There are signs of lower traffic from the European market; many of those visitors travel independently and rent recreation vehicles. That trade is down this year. I spoke at the TIA convention to a couple of business people who operate in that area. Also, some of the people who take advantage of our wilderness adventure opportunities are indicating that bookings are down from last year, while others are saying it is the same as last year, but they are not reporting an increase in European travellers from last year. As far as the independent traveller is concerned - those in RVs and campers - it is difficult to forecast at this time because, although interest was high at all the trade shows held at various locations in the United States throughout the winter, the recession in the United States and the war have caused some people to rethink their plans about travelling far from home this year. Also, of course, there have been some strong indications that more people are putting off their travel plans this year in order to take advantage of the 1992 celebrations in both Yukon and Alaska.
At this time, we are getting mixed signals but overall I would say that if we hold our own from last year it will be a good year for us.
Mr. Phillips: In the Ministers opening remarks, he mentioned Carcross and the $20,000 we spent renovating the depot to make it into a new visitor reception centre after the S.S. Tutshi burned down.
Does the Minister have any other plans he wants to tell us about Carcross? Are there any other attractions planned for Carcross in the future? Where are they and will they be operational this year or next?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The $20,000 in this supplementary budget is set aside for the planning for the visitor reception centre in the train depot. We are in the process of spending it right at this moment so that we can be ready to receive tourists at the end of May. We are spending somewhere in the neighborhood of $360,000 this year on a variety of work in the train depot, as I said, to get it in shape structurally and aesthetically and to buy some equipment to make it a fully operational visitor reception centre.
Mr. Phillips: I want to jump ahead a little bit. I am concerned about 1992 and the influx of traffic for that year. I wonder how we are going to handle all the people who will be coming through. Could the Minister tell us if there are any plans to open our campgrounds and visitor reception centres earlier? I think we are going to have people arriving earlier than usual next year because there are going to be activities planned right from the beginning of the 1992 season. Many people will be attending those. I wonder if the government has a plan in place to open the facilities earlier to accommodate this expected increase in traffic?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Judging from the activities that are planned in the various communities, it would not warrant opening up our campgrounds or visitor reception centres earlier in the year.
In terms of accommodating the anticipated increase in visitors, we are looking at expanding campgrounds to have overflow areas for tenting only, of course, but not for RV traffic. In our expectations of having a 10 to 15 percent increase over last years figures, that would still approximate the number of tourists we had in the best year ever in the Yukon, and that was 1987, which would be in the neighbourhood of about 210,000. We managed to accommodate them that year.
At this particular time, we are not expecting numbers we would not be able to properly accommodate.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
Administration in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
Heritage in the amount of $48,000 agreed to
Development in the amount of $19,000 agreed to
Marketing in the amount of $41,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of $128,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
On Artifact Inventory and Cataloguing
Artifact Inventory and Cataloguing in the amount of an under expenditure of $6,000 agreed to
On Historic Sites Maintenance
Historic Sites Maintenance in the amount of $3,000 agreed to
On Historic Sites Inventory
Historic Sites Inventory in the amount of $2,000 agreed to
On S.S. Tutshi
S.S. Tutshi in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Ft. Selkirk
Mr. Phillips: What is left to do at Ft. Selkirk? Do we have any further plans to do work on buildings there?
Hon. Mr. Webster: There is approximately another three years work at Fort Selkirk, stabilizing buildings and restoring them to their original condition as far as possible. For each of those years, the capital plan is looking at expenditures in the area of $150,000.
Fort Selkirk in the amount of an under expenditure in the amount of $1,000 agreed to
On Historic Sites Planning
Mr. Phillips: I attended the MacBride Museum annual general meeting two or three weeks ago. They had on display there the new plans for the renovation of the main floor, recreating Whitehorse as it was in the Alaska Highway construction days. The whole floor is going to be renovated to reflect that theme.
I was struck when I noticed the budget. I cannot recall the figures, but I think the budget for the displays and renovations was well over $100,000. The heritage branch was down at the bottom with a $1,000 contribution to the budget. I wonder if the heritage branch will be contributing any more than that? Is that as much as they feel that they need to contribute to that particular project?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Is the Member referring to MacBrides 1992 project?
If that is the case, I was not even aware that we were offering $1,000 for that project. As a priority to provide funding to all museums, the heritage branch had allocated monies for ongoing exhibits, as opposed to the special exhibits for 1992.
Mr. Phillips: Is the Minister saying that they are not providing any money for that exhibit in the MacBride Museum?
Hon. Mr. Webster: That is what I understand.
Historic Sites Planning in the amount of $1,000 agreed to
On Yukon Archaeology
Yukon Archaeology in the amount of $3,000 agreed to
On Visual Arts Acquisition
Visual Arts Acquisition in the amount of $6,000 agreed to
On Strategic Planning
Strategic Planning in the amount of $1,000 agreed to
On Wilderness Resource Assessment
Wilderness Resource Assessment in the amount of $1,000 agreed to
On Regional Tourism Plans
Regional Tourism Plans in the amount of $2,000 agreed to
On Signs and Interpretation
Signs and Interpretations in the amount of $2,000 agreed to
On Regional Planning Implementation
Regional Planning Implementation in the amount of $2,000 agreed to
On Television Audio Visual & Other Equipment
Television Audio Visual & Other Equipment in the amount of an under expenditure of $2,000 agreed to
On Visitor Reception Centres Development - Carcross VRC
Visitor Reception Centres Development - Carcross VRC in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Production of Films, TV Vignettes
Mr. Phillips: Are they the vignettes that we have seen on television lately? There are a couple now about the Yukon. I have seen them on northern television. Or is this something new that still has to be produced?
Hon. Mr. Webster: No, these television films - the vignettes - have already been completed and require an extra $2,000 to cover the production costs, because they were higher than expected.
Mr. Phillips: Before we clear that item, for the last several years I have been encouraging the Minister to create some vignettes that promote Yukoners and the value of tourism to Yukoners themselves, not necessarily just advertising the Yukon. I have seen them in other jurisdictions where they pick a welder or a gas station person and they tell the you how valuable tourism is to your job and it makes people more aware of the value of the tourists when they come and it creates a better atmosphere and awareness of the resource. I wonder if there are any plans in the future to do that?
I know TIA talked about that in their new program and I wonder if the government is going to go ahead with that type of thing this year?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I do not know if the government plans to do those kinds of features in this years budget. The Member is quite correct about TIAs involvement in this in promoting a better quality of service than is being received by tourists in the territory.
Production of Films, TV Vignettes in the amount of $2,000 agreed to
Capital Expenditures in the amount of $56,000 agreed to
Department of Tourism agreed to
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
On Public Information, Policy and Program Development
Hon. Ms. Joe: All I have here is an item for $10,000. The budget for the Womens Directorate is $333,000. We are asking for $10,000 to be included for the retroactive pay under the collective agreement.
Public Information, Policy and Program Development in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
Womens Directorate agreed to
Yukon Housing Corporation
Chair: Is there general debate?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: You have before you the supplementary budget for Yukon Housing Corporation and these estimates provide for a reduction of capital expenditures of $3,682,000 and of the operation and maintenance expenditures by $578,000.
The major reason for the reduction in the capital expenditures is one project that was committed during the last fiscal year but will only be constructed during this coming fiscal year. This project, the transition home for victims of spousal abuse, accounts for $1,209,000 in the total reduction in the capital expenditures.
Another major factor has been the interest rates. As the Members will recall, interest rates increased to 14.25 per cent during the last fiscal year. These high rates pushed the home ownership programs beyond the reach of the applicants. Most of these applicants had applied and had been qualified when the interest rates were much lower. These high rates account for $1,573,000 of the capital budget reduction.
The reduction of the operating and maintenance budget is again a result of the high interest rates. Due to the abnormally high rates of interest the corporation delayed converting its short-term financing into longer term. This has resulted in less interest expense than had been originally budgeted for. This decrease in interest expense amounted to $650,000. The corporation budget was also adjusted for the retroactive salary increase in the amount of $72,000, which left a net decrease of $578,000.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
On Gross Expenditures
Gross Expenditures in the amount of an under expenditure of $578,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of an under expenditure of $578,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
On Non-Profit Housing
Construction/Acquisition in the amount of an under expenditure of $1,209,000 agreed to
On Home Improvement
Home Improvement in the amount of an under expenditure of $400,000 agreed to
On Home Ownership
On Lease Purchase
Lease Purchase in the amount of an under expenditure of $1,248,000 agreed to
Owner/Build in the amount of an under expenditure of $325,000 agreed to
On Joint Venture
Joint Venture in the amount of an under expenditure of $500,000 agreed to
Capital Expenditures in the amount of an under expenditure of $3,682,000 agreed to
Chair: We will go to Schedule A.
On Schedule A
Schedule A agreed to
On Schedule B
Schedule B agreed to
Title agreed to
On Clause 1
Clause 1 agreed to
On Clause 2
Clause 2 agreed to
Title agreed to
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Madam Chair, I move that you report Bill No. 3, entitled Third Appropriation Act, 1990-91, out of Committee of the Whole without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Chair: We will go on to Bill No. 44
Bill No. 44: Highways Act
Hon. Mr. Byblow: At second reading, I went to some length to explain some of the background that led up to the presentation of this particular bill in the House. I also spoke to some of the elements of the bill, namely, that the bill confirms the authority of the Yukon governments jurisdiction over highways. For the most part, it follows the pattern of the existing Highways Act.
However, through the course of this particular bill, we have improved the rules under which highways will be maintained safely.
We have clarified the governments responsibility to maintain highways and we have laid out all the responsibilities of the government according to the various sections of the bill. We speak of the ability to close highways; we talk about the need and rules that will govern closure of a highway; we talk about restricted highway use; we talk about highways within municipalities; we talk about the need for access onto private land while, at the same time, ensuring that adequate compensation is provided to people; we talk about how we are going to address the issue of access to highways and we create the tiered fine structure for offences under the Highways Act. By and large, we believe this provides a much clearer picture of what the rules are surrounding the governance of highways in the Yukon.
I am sure that through clause-by-clause I can speak to specific items, but if there are some general questions, I would be pleased to entertain them now.
Mr. Brewster: I would like to know what the government policy is going to be regarding blocked highways - in other words, where a protest occurs and public highways are blocked. What is the government policy going to be? We have not had one up until now.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Under this bill, we make it quite clear that all the highways and highway right-of-ways are the responsibility of the government. That is, the jurisdiction and the management and the control of those highways rest with the government. At the same time, we make it clear that it is an offence to obstruct the use of a highway.
With respect to the policy on such matters, it would be our position that you would first go in and talk to the people, or parties, involved in the blockade. It would be preferable to remove the blockade through friendly means, and without the use of force but, under both the Criminal Code and this act, it is illegal and, ultimately, the courts can be used.
As a matter of policy, we would attempt to remove the blockade through peaceful means.
Mr. Brewster: I am very concerned that one of these summers we are going to end up with a whole bunch of tourists here, and the road will be blocked off so they cannot get by. As you know, besides the mining industry, we survive on tourism. I think the government had better make it very plain and firm that it is not going to put up with this. We cannot have this hurting our tourism business in the summer. It does not work.
I would like to go on to one other matter. I am not sure if I can get this across or not. If not, I will have to write the Minister a letter.
Some people have a piece of private land, and there has been a road going across that land for 25 or 30 years, and it has never been blocked off. Can they block that off after that time, or is that considered a public highway?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The short answer to the Members question is that whether or not it would be a public road would depend upon its previous use. In other words, if the road was historically used by the public over a period of years even though it went through private land that would technically be a public road under this authority. In essence, it would be designated as such.
I suppose there would be some room for maneuvering in any special circumstance. Let us assume that there has been public use of a road through private property for the last 20 years. The owner of the property wanted to cease use of that road by the public. For whatever personal reasons, they wanted to cut off access. It is perfectly acceptable for that closure to be negotiated if there is another route that would bypass the property and still lead to the same access. That is something that Highways officials and the individual would use. He could not arbitrarily close the road if it has been historically used for public access. That is the principle protected here.
Mr. Brewster: The Minister mentioned the period of 20 years. Is that considered the period from there on back?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am advised that the act does not specify a period of time. What the act specifies is historical use of the road by the public. In interpretation, that would either have to be spelled out in regulation or it would become an interpretation by the courts of what is a fair length of time where the public has used the road. I am sure the Member and I would recognize that a road that came into use for public access in the last year would hardly be eligible. We are talking about the spirit of Yukon development, if you will. There is the use of the road by the public over a period of time. I used 20 years as a general guesstimate of what, to me, would constitute a use of a road that has taken on an historical public purpose. It is not defined in the act. It simply refers to historical.
Mr. Brewster: That is all that I have for general debate.
Mr. Nordling: I would like to ask the Minister about a conflict with the Yukon Act and the Highways Act.
I know early on in the discussions in the development of this act, there was a concern where the Highways Act and the Yukon Act overlapped. I want to ask the Minister if those overlaps have been dealt with.
I should say that one of the areas of concern was with respect to highways that were closed and what happened to the lands - whether they remained with the territorial government or if they reverted to the federal Crown?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In response to the first question about the issue surrounding jurisdiction, that is jurisdiction that comes under the Yukon Act. I suspect that the Member is familiar with the issue.
Where there was a question that arose is whether or not all roads in the Yukon were under the control of the previous Highways Act. That issue is essentially resolved.
The interpretation of section 17 of the Yukon Act gives the authority to make laws relating to various matters. Subsection (h) refers to property and civil rights in the territory, but more specifically subsection (o) speaks to the closing up, varying, opening, establishing building management or control of any roads, streets, lanes or trails in public lands is essentially now clarified to mean that all roads in the Yukon are under the jurisdiction of the Yukon under our new Highways Act.
We have clearly taken the power that flows under the Yukon Act and applied it under the new Highways Act to ensure that that jurisdiction flows from one act to the other. The problem is that under the old act, we designated certain highways and roads under provisions of management, jurisdiction and control. It was not particularly consistent with the powers that flowed from the Yukon Act. What we have done here is ensured that the power and authority that flows from the Yukon Act extends into the new act, so that we cover all aspects of jurisdiction relating to roads.
That should answer the Members first question.
I believe the second question related to what happens to land in the closure of a highway. I may have to seek some consultation on that, but it appears to me that, if the Member is talking about the question of legal title and ownership, lands that would be federal lands could be argued to flow back to the federal government. What we are talking about is jurisdiction and control - management - on those highways; we are not talking about ownership. Where there is clear ownership of a road, as designated through some authority that flowed, then there is no question; it is ours. I am not sure if I understood the Members question correctly.
Mr. Nordling: Just to clarify my question: I understand there is no problem with the road. I was wanting to make sure that there was no problem with ownership of the land, if a highway or part of a road was closed - for example, under section 13; then, it is disposed of under section 39. My question was whether this conflicts with the Yukon Act or not. My understanding was that, in the case of highways being closed, that land reverted to the federal government, and it would not be the territorial governments land to dispose of.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I think I have a clearer picture of the Members question. He is referring to section 39 in the new Highways Act, not the Yukon Act. Section 39 does lay out the method of disposition of lands that are no longer required for highway purposes. In that clause, we have laid out a priority order for that disposition. We have made an assumption that those lands will be entitled for disposition to us, in the priority laid out. It may be arguable. Ownership is a grey area, but we are assuming, by the authority we have to manage and control the land while it is a highway, it will extend to us an authority to dispose of it in the steps we lay out in section 39.
It remains to be said that it could be challenged. We are assuming that we have that authority, as extended under the Yukon Act. We have sought advice on it, and we believe that this will stand up.
Mr. Lang: I have a couple of questions. It is unclear to me, with the way you have changed the definition of highways to land used as a highway, land surveyed for use as a highway and land designated by Commissioner, and a bridge or other public improvement ... and an ice road.... Why was that definition changed from the previous Highways Act, which included any trail or thoroughfare, square bridges, causeways and so on?
My concern is the situation we had with the access into McEvoy Lake. The individuals involved applied for the permits and received them. Subsequently, there was a blockade of that particular access. I would like the Ministers assurance that this definition of highway will cover that particular situation, and it will be seen as a public thoroughfare. Then, the laws of the Highway Acts would go into effect.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The definition we have attached to the word highway in the new act is a clarification and improved version of the definition from the old act.
If the Member refers to the old act, it cites all the different types of roads that would qualify as a highway. It talks about roads, trails, avenues, parkways, driveways, lanes, alleys and so on. Where the problem lies in the old definition was in the restricting nature of the clause in the definition that talks about any part of which the public is ordinarily entitled or permitted to use for the passage of vehicles.
Our legal advisors have told us that that, in part, created some of the problem relating to the road problem at Ross River. The interpretation of that raises questions of whether that road was a road that people were ordinarily entitled to use. It created a grey area of debate.
In the new definition, we have said that all land that is used as a highway, or surveyed as a highway, or designated as a road allowance, which is all inclusive of any road, trail or public access, would be eligible under the definition of highway. It is a clarification of the old definition, making it less restrictive, and would eliminate the problem we had in the case of Ross River.
This goes hand-in-hand with other clauses that speak to the provision that does not allow you to block it. Any road that is for public access, which would include a winter trail, a mining road, or a tote road, is included in the definition of highway.
Mr. Lang: With all due respect, it does not say that in the act that is before us, unless I am missing something somewhere. In his opening remarks, the Minister said, Land designated by the Commissioner in Executive Council is a road allowance.
First of all, we will use the example of McEvoy Lake. Is the Minister telling me that, had this section been in effect, the Commissioner would have designated, by regulation, that particular road access? I submit to you that he would not have. It would probably not even have been known that it was being done, because it was done through federal permits.
I feel strongly that the act should be looked at from the point of view that, where an area has been used as a public access, the definition should be clearly outlined. This says it has to be done, in part, by regulation.
I see the Ministers second-in-command shaking his head. Then, why does it say Land designated by the Commissioner in Executive Council is a road allowance?
Designation means that it has to be done by regulation. I would submit that a tote road from Ross River into McEvoy Lake, or from here to Fish Lake, is not a highway. I would refer to that as a tote road.
It seems to me that we are abrogating our responsibilities in not trying to make this as broad a section as we possibly can. Maybe the section that he has cited - the one particular part with the definition of highways in the old act - may well have been limiting with that one small section. Just remove that small section and reinsert the old definition.
It seems to me that we are trying to give ourselves a choice: if we do not want it, then we have not designated it, and if we are not too sure about the politics, we can just say we are not involved in this, and that our act does not allow it.
I would like the legal interpretation that tells me that this definition is broader than the one that was used in the previous act.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Members interpretation is not the same interpretation that I have. The old act said that highway includes, and then it listed all the different road types. It had the additional clause that spoke to roads that are ordinarily used by vehicles. That became the restricting aspect, and I think that the Member accepts that it is necessary to improve on that.
In this definition, we have created a more encompassing and clarified definition. I think that the two key words that have to be recognized are land used. In other words, land used as a highway. That would be all encompassing for whatever land that is being used by the public for public access. That is my definition. Land use simply refers to all the categories broader than the ones listed in the old act. This would include winter roads and trails of a sort that are seldom used, but still designated as passage through for access.
My interpretation is simply that the key words, land used as a highway, give it the broad all-encompassing inclusion of all categories of roads.
The Member referred to land designated by the Commissioner in Executive Council as a road allowance. The operative word there is and. We may well designate a road allowance as a portion of a highway. That would not necessarily be the same as land used as a highway. The road allowance would be expanded beyond that. We have had a legal opinion, which I referred to earlier, that said this was the improved all-encompassing definition that would get us out of ,in part, the problem we had in Ross River. I believe it was that same opinion that addressed the restrictive nature of the old definition. This is the improved version and should pose no problem in covering all roads.
Mr. Lang: I just want to make the point to the Ministers that I do not quite follow his logic. A highway includes land used as a highway, land surveyed for use as a highway. The argument boils down to land used as a highway. Is it used as a highway? It is just a case of coming in and bringing in some supplies. It is not a general thoroughfare or whatever. All of a sudden we get into this kind of technical legaleze.
What I do not understand is that on any of these tote roads we have always had some government involvement, financially or in kind, or whatever the case may be. I do know that in my discussions with some authorities the designations of highways by Executive Council, by Cabinet ... In some cases I understand it is being changed in some of the provinces. I do not know how true that is but it would seem to me that we should have a section that would really clarify if there is any access that has been seen as public access and has had public money spent on it, then it should be seen as a highway - which would further clarify this section of the bill.
I think in Alberta, or maybe British Columbia, if public money has been spent on a road it is seen as a public thoroughfare and there is no question about it; it is written into the law. Why are we not doing that?
In view of what we have experienced, we should try to make it very clear what the authority and responsibility of the Legislature is and make it clear in law.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In principle, I do not disagree with the Member at all. What he has enunciated is in fact what I believe is enshrined here and is enshrined in our road programs, if you will. The resource transport access program, for example, requires that the road being constructed be maintained for public access. This is under the old act where you could argue that the definition under the old act does not cover an RTAP mining road, cost shared with public funds.
My point to the Member is that under the definition that we have created here, which addresses the land surveyed for use as a road, includes the provision that if public funds are spent on a road it must in turn be available for public use.
It is inherent in what is being defined here, because what we are saying here is that all roads that are used as a highway are public roads. That is what the definition implies. That is what is implicit in the definition. It does not matter whether you spend public funds or private funds, if you have built it on public land and it is intended for public use it shall be for public use. It is a logical extension of the all-encompassing definition that I believe we have created here by saying land used for a road shall be a highway, and defined as such.
Mr. Lang: Say I accept the position given by the government. The government says they have a legal opinion that backs up what the Minister has just stated. I would like to see that legal opinion, because I am very concerned about what this section is going to do. If it narrows it, then we have defeated the purpose of what we are trying to do.
Is the Minister prepared to table that legal interpretation in the House so that it is available to all Members? My concern is that, after the Ministers office is changed - people do change in this House - that there is a clear understanding in law as to what this means. Can the Minister provide that for us?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can give that undertaking. I am sure I can provide it to the Member tomorrow, but I am not sure I can locate it tonight.
I want to reassure the Member that the definition we have described here by the operative words of land used as a highway is all-encompassing, all-inclusive of public access to property and, in fact, is an improvement on the previous definition, which tried to list all the different types of roads.
Mr. Lang: I, for one, am prepared to accept that as long as he tables it in the House. I do not think it sufficient that I just get a copy of whatever legal document he has. I think it should be tabled in the House for all Members to view and it will also be on the public record. If the Minister agrees to do that, then I am prepared to let other Members carry on with debate.
Mr. Nordling: I think that would be helpful, because the way I read it is that we have this all-encompassing definition of highway by saying land used as a highway and what we are going to resort to is the dictionary definition of highway, which lists all these things the Minister wants to avoid. How else do we find out what the word highway means. Land used as a highway does not give a definition of the word highway. A highway has to be something where vehicles or people or whatever travel, and we do not have that definition. What we are saying is that highway includes land used as a highway" - highway being defined by Websters dictionary.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I was only going to make a brief comment to the Members remarks. In part, the Member is correct. There is an accepted definition of the word highway, which is all-inclusive of any road, for lack of a better term, that is used by the public for the passage of vehicles. The standing definition of highways is the all-encompassing feature in addition to the operative words of land used.
The Members are correct that, in addition to land that is used for an ordinary road for the passage of vehicles or whatever form or description we wanted to give it, we have identified that land that has been surveyed for use as a highway be also included in the definition. You will not find a definition of a highway to include land that has been surveyed for use as a highway, without being used as part of a highway. Quite similarly, land that is designated as a road allowance would not be included in a definition of a highway.
I understand the difficulty Members are having. I will provide for them the more articulate, legal opinion that will explain that better.
Mr. Nordling: I am pleased to see that I take precedence over our esteemed Premier who stood first.
I would just like to ask the Minister if, under this definition, he foresees a lot of surveying being done of roads and right-of-ways and how he foresees the development or the definition of road allowance. Will there be standard road allowances or otherwise? My impression is that they would all have to be surveyed regardless.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In response to the Members query, there is no specific intention to put into place a lot of land surveyed for highway use - nothing more than what is ordinarily expected in the normal course of Yukon growth and development.
If I were trying to extend a meaning into the Members inquiry, it might suggest that we would survey all the Yukon for roads and, thereby, exercise a measure of control. No, that is not the intention.
The only roads that will be surveyed are roads that are intended to be built, whether it has to do with subdivision development, or new road access to existing roads. I dare say, in the immediate future, there are no major new roads intended.
One of the more recent major new roads is the access road to the Mt. Hundere mine outside Watson Lake. That was constructed with support from the resource transportation access program. Aside from general and average growth, there is no intention to survey a lot of land and designate it for highway use.
Similarly, the case is true for land designated as a road allowance. There is no particular intention, other than what is required in the normal course of doing business.
Mr. Nordling: Will what is required in the normal course of business will be determined by regulations? By that, I mean will the width of road, depending on whether it is a tote trail or a major highway, or the road allowance, be set by regulation to cover each and every type of highway in the territory?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is totally correct. The regulations prescribe standards for the different categories, or types, of road construction. We do not intend to immediately change the existing regulations. The regulations under the old act will be appended to this act, when it is proclaimed.
Over time, I expect there will be some regulations that will change, which is also normal in the course of doing business. The Member is correct when he talks about regulations governing the standards, features and specifics of the different highway types.
Just as a point of interest, I am advised that the standard road allowance is 60 metres, and that will remain.
Chair: We will take a brief recess.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Mr. Lang: I wish to move on to one other issue. It has to do with the closure of roads. I noticed that there is a section dedicated to that. My question is in respect to the closing of roads and exempting certain people from going down those roads. Is this what the government intends to do with this section of the bill? What is the purpose behind it?
For example, in an area where there is some very key sheep habitat and there is a mine down at the other end, and a decision is made that the only ones permitted on that road are the ones working in that mining area, is that the intention of this section?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I believe the Member is referring to section 14. This section refers to highway closures of a temporary nature. There could be any number of reasons where we would have to temporarily close a highway for public safety reasons or protection of the highway. This would relate to things like washouts. It could relate to some dangerous slide conditions. This would also allow a closure of a highway for environmental reasons for a period of up to seven days. It requires the Minister to go to Cabinet for any longer period of closure.
To provide an example of that, we could well want to close a particular road while a caribou herd is migrating through. That would be an environmental reason.
A slide or a wash-out would be a public safety reason, and that is what section 14 really speaks to.
I would note that section 14 limits the authority of the Minister in that the closure can only be made for seven days before a Cabinet endorsement of that decision would be required for it to remain closed any longer.
Mr. Phillips: A misgiving has been expressed by many people who are concerned about wildlife and wildlife use. In some areas, mining companies, for example, will come in and get a tote road assistance, or some other assistance, to put a mining road into the area but, as the Member for Porter Creek East said, it goes right into the heart of a new sheep range or something. There is some concern that, once these roads are built, they will provide unlimited access and, usually, what happens in many such cases - it happened on the Dempster, and there are all kinds of examples of it - is that the wildlife takes a real hammering, because the people go in and wildlife is really susceptible to harvesting. In most cases, these roads go into alpine, or right above alpine, areas and get people right up into the heart of the country, which has never been hunted before. The wildlife is pushed further back, and this eliminates them in that area.
Does this section allow for this? I believe letters were written to the federal Minister asking for some kind of restriction, and I think the Minister has also received letters from people, asking for some kind of control of access into these areas. Is that the intention of these particular clauses, especially clause 3, which says for as long as the Commissioner in Executive Council considers necessary? Would that mean the whole hunting season, from August 1 to October 31 in a given year?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Section 14 refers very specifically to the full closure of a road for the reasons I outlined to the Member for Porter Creek East. It would permit the Minister to close the road for up to seven days for the very environmental reason the Member for Riverdale North now describes. The Minister could close the road for an entire season, but after seven days, the Minister would have to go to Cabinet to endorse an extension to that closure.
What we have built into this act that addresses better what the Member is talking about is essentially a new component of the act. That is a restricted-use provision.
The definitions section raises the restricted use highway definition. It says that any highway can be prescribed for use on a restricted basis. We have defined the ability to restrict a highway to use by certain individuals, which could not, for example, include hunters. Another example is one that only permits conservation officers to travel up the road or some other designated person. This is a new aspect.
Under section 44, we can make regulations prescribing conditions for the restricted use of the highway. Section 44(1)(d) allows for the regulations that would apply to the restricted use of the road. The act does provide for this new component to restrict use as the Member describes.
Mr. Phillips: I thank the Minister for that answer. It indicates a little bit at least that it may solve part of that problem that we had in the past. I would ask the Minister if he is prepared to go one further.
Those particular roads may go into the hinterland or into some area that is not subject to any land claims. In this particular case, I know the Minister is talking about limiting the non-native people from hunting in those areas or restricting those areas. What I do have a concern about is that if this is not a traditional hunting or harvesting area, and if the road goes through critical habitat, everyone should be restricted from going into that area. After all, I think what we are trying to do is protect the wildlife in that critical wildlife area. If we are going to protect wildlife in this habitat area, and it is not on land that is claimed by the band as traditional hunting areas - there can be many of those when we start building roads through the hinterland - that we should restrict anyone from hunting wildlife in those areas. I would like to hear the Ministers comments on that.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I think the Member is giving perhaps too broad an interpretation here. Perhaps I can help clarify, at least to my way of thinking.
By creating the new section that speaks to the use of a highway into areas, we have restricted the travelling of the public on that road. It does not speak at all to the ability to hunt. That is not the jurisdiction of this act. This act does not speak to whether of not anyone would be entitled to hunt at any point or in any place in the Yukon. This act speaks to restricting the people who could travel along that road. On public land, it would be a restriction clear across the board. In other words we would restrict all vehicles and all people on a public road. That would be described in the designated purpose of the road. We would not restrict it just to white people or just to Indian people. That is not the intention of the section.
This act would be subservient to any land claims settlement, meaning that the final settlement would determine how this act applied on settlement land.
That is another issue. Insofar as restricted use is concerned, we are making a provision to restrict traffic and the passage of people on certain roads, by regulation. We have not written the regulations. I indicated earlier that all the existing regulations are going to be flipped over and appended to this act, when it is proclaimed. Any new regulations that may be written will come in the future in application to sections like this that are new.
Mr. Brewster: I had a couple of questions and I was going to do it line-by-line but, seeing that we have come this far, I will ask this, and we can probably skip through that.
When you restrict roads that people live on, what is going to be the qualification? The reason that I bring this up is that I recall a case when the Canadian Army closed the Haines Road and people lived down there. A fellow by the name of Mr. Bud Blue, who was a great friend of mine, took his five-ton truck, went right through that and tore the gate all to pieces. Of course, the police were out, put him in handcuffs and locked him up.
Anyway, the short of the story is that he went to court, and the old judge threw it out and said that he can go home any time that he wants.
Now, is that still going to be the understanding here, that if you live there, you can go home when you want?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Let me give the Member the reassurance that, by the restricted use of a road, we are not going to disentitle people who live along that road from using it to get home and back. I think the Member makes a good point. I would be the last Minister to be held responsible for an ordinary Yukon resident not being allowed to travel on a road that he is accustomed to travelling on to get home.
The Member raises a good point, and I am sure that my Deputy, who is listening, will ensure that the regulations, when written, will cover that requirement.
Mr. Brewster: Whether the Deputy Minister was listening or not, the Minister has now put that down in what I believe is the gospel truth, the Hansard. His name will be in front of it, so that is good enough for me. The first time one of these gentlemen appears in court, I shall tell them to visit the Minister.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: For fear of being misinterpreted in court some day, I want to make it clear that, in the case of a resident who would be using the road to get home and back, they would probably - I say probably because I do not know how the regulation will finally be written - not be allowed to use the road for the purpose for which it was restricted.
If it is restricted to prevent people from passing through a critical habitat, as pointed out by the Members colleague, the person who is living along that road would not go out of his way to breach the terms of the road restriction in the course of travelling home and back. That is getting technical and detailed, and I would not want to go into any great lengths on it.
I respect the Member, and he does have it on the record that people will be allowed to go home on a restricted road.
Mr. Brewster: When the Minister gives me a straight answer, I wish he would stop at that instead of coming up with something technical. I had to ask my friend the lawyer over here just what he did say.
I understood what he said to start with. I was satisfied with it, thanked him and sat down. The next thing I know, I have to ask a lawyer what he said then, because I did not know what he was trying to say. You blew it again.
On Clause 1
Clause 1 agreed to
On Clause 2
Clause 2 agreed to
On Clause 3
Clause 3 agreed to
On Clause 4
Clause 4 agreed to
On Clause 5
Mr. Brewster: With respect to clause 5(1), I would like the Minister to read it and explain it to me. We are into lawyer language again. Why could they not put what we are trying to say there in simple English?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I apologize to the Member if the language is not in plain enough English. We certainly tried to write this bill in as simple language as possible.
Essentially, section 5(1) permits highways within municipalities to be transferred to municipalities. That is consistent with the Municipal Act, where that same power exists now. The Municipal Act does allow highways within municipalities to be transferred to them. This is simply a restatement, consistent with that authority.
I would point out that we got a fair amount of feedback from the municipalities on this section, and we have revised it accordingly. The wording that exists now is quite a variation from the original wording that went around in circulation over the last couple of years. It has been improved upon. I hope the Member understands that.
The phrase other than a highway or part thereof excepted by order simply refers to those portions of a highway that are designated as part of the territorial highway system and, therefore, the jurisdiction of the territorial government. An example in Dawson City is Front Street. It is part of the Klondike Highway all the way up to the ferry.
It travels right through the municipality, so that portion of the highway would be excepted by order as not being part of the municipal road responsibility. This is the case under the old act and it will continue under the new act. That is essentially an example.
Another case would be the Mitchell Road in Faro. This road would be part of the territorial highway system and it will be excepted from the roads within the municipality that belong to it.
Mr. Brewster: He has proved his point. He has talked for 10 minutes and I do not think he knows yet what he has said. I can understand this because I have spent eight years trying to read government legislation. The average person on the street would not understand that and they certainly would not understand what the Minister has just said. I just asked that it be cleaned up a little bit so that people can understand it. Instead of that, he makes it worse. Every time he talks he makes things worse.
Clause 5 agreed to
On Clause 6
Clause 6 agreed to
On Clause 7
Clause 7 agreed to
On Clause 8
Mr. Brewster: As I understand that clause, a person can go on private land and ditch it to run water off. Does this mean that if a farmer had a lagoon someone could come in and ditch the water out of it?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That is what it means but only as required to protect the highway.
Mr. Brewster: I understand that, but does it mean they can just go on private land without asking for permission or anything? Can they just go on the land and start erecting snow fences and digging ditches? There is nothing in here that says they have to get a warrant or permission.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As spelled out in section 8, we are talking only about the need to remove fences or construct ditching as would be required to protect the road. As a matter of policy, no highways officer is going to arbitrarily do that because I am sure, in the spirit I am sure the Member opposite would be sure to demonstrate, they would not get away with it. Highways officials clearly, in policy, would be required to make contact with the owner, if possible, and make every effort in the absence of the owner to contact someone who may be responsible for the property; however, there may be the need to move quickly in emptying a slough or creating a ditch to prevent the washing away of the road. This section provides the authority to do that, but no highway officer in his right mind would do so without making at least a strong attempt to establish contact with the owner.
Mrs. Firth: Is it going to be mandatory in the regulations?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Excuse me. I believe some Member asked if it would be mandatory in the regulations to contact, or make every effort to contact, the owner of the property, or the leaseholder, or whomever is in charge of it. I am not sure whether it would be in the regulations or not. It is currently a written policy of the government that that would be the case. This is similar to the old act. That policy would prevail. Given that it is a sensitive matter on an issue of property, I would consider putting it into regulations.
Mrs. Firth: I think that would be the appropriate thing to do. It is fine for the Minister to say that people would do this or that and that it is the intention of this clause to do such and such. Unless there is some kind of guarantee that this is going to be done, it is open to interpretation. If what must be done is not written down, one can only conclude that it does not have to be done.
There should be regulations accompanying clause 8(1), so that there is specific direction given.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I take the point of the Member. Given that it is a matter of policy, it is prescribed that it shall be done. What shall be done is that every effort will be made to contact the property owner, lease holder or responsible person wherever possible. We recognize that that may not always be achievable, but it is currently in policy. The Member suggests that it should be in regulation. This is not an unreasonable suggestion and I will discuss the matter with my officials.
Mr. Brewster: I would like to point out an incident that could be a very curious one: Danny Nowlans game farm. If all of a sudden it flooded and all of those animals had to be let out, then there would be one h-- of a mess all over the place. The Minister says it is in policy, that is fine. It is also in policy that they will not block your driveway; when they have time, they will come clear the windrows out. The Minister and I have gone over this. I have gone over this with every Minister in this government. I went over this with the Canadian Army. They still block those roads and leave them, leaving you to sit high and dry out there, unless you shovel them out with a scoop shovel. That is a matter of policy that has never been enforced. So how do we know that the policy will be enforced in this? If it is in regulations, then they have got to read those regulations.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Members are making a good case and a good point and I have said that I will consider establishing that in regulations.
Clause 8 agree to
On Clause 9
Mr. Brewster: I am asking the same thing under clause 9(1), where it states they may enter your place and put up snow fences and push snow onto your property. Are they going to get permission to do these things?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Clauses 8 and 9 are essentially parallel clauses, for different purposes. Again, I tell Members that I will consider establishing requirements in regulation to make every best effort to contact property owners or responsible people for the property in regulation.
Clause 9 agreed to
On Clause 10
Clause 10 agreed to
On Clause 11
Clause 11 agreed to
On Clause 12
Clause 12 agreed to
On Clause 13
Clause 13 agreed to
On Clause 14
Mr. Brewster: On Clause 14(2), it says The Minister may close a highway or part thereof to traffic for protection of the environment, and then you go down to the other one where, if it is closed longer, that means the Cabinet has to help close it. Is this correct?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Members interpretation is correct. Subclause (2) only permits a seven-day closure. To retain that closure beyond seven days requires Cabinet to make a decision.
Clause 14 agreed to
On Clause 15
Clause 15 agreed to
On Clause 16
Mr. Brewster: Is the government planning on putting tolls on the ferries?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: There are no plans to place tolls on ferries. There are no tolls charged now. I believe the section is straight out of the existing act.
Mr. Brewster: It might be out of the existing act, but it leaves it wide open so that tolls could be charged. I just asked if the Minister was planning to doing that. I do not care if it was in the last act or this act.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The answer is no.
I move that you report progress on Bill No. 44.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Ms. Kassi: Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 3, Third Appropriation Act, 1990-91, and directed me to report the same without amendment.
Further, Committee has considered Bill No. 44, Highways Act, and directed me to report progress on same.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:29 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled May 8, 1991:
Department of Education Annual Report, 1989-90 (McDonald)
The following Legislative Returns were tabled May 8, 1991:
Consultant representing Department of Tourism at Rendezvous Canada in Calgary, May 1991 (Webster)
Oral, Hansard, p. 823
Contracts with epidemiologist, Dr. P. Cappon, re community health (Hayden)
Oral, Hansard, p. 871
Policy re shipment of household effects when employees transfer to Yukon; list of officials transferred April 1, 1990, to March 31, 1991 (McDonald)
Oral, Hansard, p. 758
Subsidy to Curragh Resources for electrical service in 1990 (Byblow)
Oral, Hansard, p. 798
Diesel consumption and cost in 1990 and 1991 by the Yukon Energy Corporation (Byblow)
Oral, Hansard, p. 754-55