Wednesday, May 22, 1991 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time, we will proceed with Prayers.
Eulogy to Rajiv Gandhi
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I rise on a question of privilege today to express deep regret over the assassination of former India Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. I am sure that all Members of the House accept that disagreement between politicians, political parties and differences of political views and policies are a normal healthy part of a democratic system; however, when such disagreements result in violence such as yesterdays assassination, democracy has not been allowed to follow its natural course.
I am sure that all Members of the House will join me and others around the world in expressing condolences to Mr. Gandhis family and friends, and in expressing the hope that non-violent solutions will be found for the political difficulties in his homeland.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Introduction of Visitors.
Are there any Returns or Documents for Tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I have for tabling a legislative return.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I also have a legislative return for tabling.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills.
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Notices of Motion.
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
Program for Older Worker Adjustment (POWA)
Hon. Ms. Joe: I am pleased to announce an agreement with the federal government for the Yukons participation in the program for older worker adjustment. This federally-sponsored program provides income assistance for eligible workers in the event of major permanent layoffs. The Hon. Tom Siddon, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, is in the Yukon this week. He will announce the agreement on behalf of the Hon. Marcel Danis, Minister of Labour.
The program for older worker adjustment, or POWA, is cost shared 70 percent federal/30 percent Yukon. POWA is intended for eligible older workers, between ages 55 and 64 at the time of layoff. Workers who have been in the labour force for many years often encounter special problems when faced with finding another job after a permanent layoff.
With relatively few working years left until retirement, they may have no other job opportunities and no prospects for re-employment through job training. Moving to another part of the country to find work may not be seen as an option. It can be difficult to leave family and community ties for uncertain prospects elsewhere.
Older workers who meet the following criteria will be eligible for assistance from POWA if: they are between ages 55 and 64 at the time of layoff; they have been in the labour force for 15 out of the last 20 years, with a minimum of 750 hours worked annually; they have no alternative job opportunities; they have no prospects for re-employment through job training or mobility; they are Canadian citizens or landed immigrants resident in Canada.
I must stress that we are participating in this program not because we anticipate any major permanent layoffs. The number of Yukon workers in that age group is relatively small. We consider the program for older worker adjustment to be a safety net - if eligible older Yukon workers ever need it, they will have access to it.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Would you permit me, on a question of privilege, to call attention to the presence in your gallery of the Hon. Tom Siddon, his staff and officials. Mr. Siddon, as all Members know, is the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs - a department that has special responsibilities in our area. Mr. Siddon is here today to sign the economic development agreement and for meetings of land claims principles.
Mrs. Firth: I am going to respond to the ministerial statement, but first I would like to welcome Mr. Siddon. We are very pleased to see him again visiting us in the Yukon.
It is timely that the Hon. Minister is here. The program that the Minister has announced today, on behalf of his colleague, the Hon. Marcel Danis, Minister of Labour, is a federally sponsored program.
We are in support of this program and would like to compliment the federal government for initiating it. I think it is going to address a certain segment of society that needs some assistance right now. As the Minister stated in her statement, there have been a lot of layoffs and people in the age bracket of 55 to 64 years of age, who are without employment, require retraining.
The Members on this side definitely support this initiative and we look forward to the territorial governments participation in the program. If we can be of assistance to the Minister, we are quite prepared to do so.
Geological survey office in the Yukon
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I, too, would like to recognize the presence of the federal Minister in the gallery and advise all Members in the House of the new initiatives we have signed to support this territorys mining industry. As I am sure all Members are aware, mining is the backbone of Yukons economy. It produces the highest revenue of any economic sector and, because of the crucial role that the mineral industry plays in our economy, this government is committed to helping the industry grow, helping it to diversify and helping it to develop to meet the competitive demands of the international marketplace in which it operates.
Last week I advised Members of the Canada/Yukon economic development agreement, which was formally signed this afternoon by Mr. Siddon and me. I mentioned previously the $9 million available over the next five years for mineral industry development. Under the new mineral cooperation agreement, our government will acquire full administrative responsibility and will soon open a Canada/Yukon geological survey office. This, I believe, is a significant step toward the development of a local geological community, which is an important part of the mineral industry.
Under the terms of the last economic development agreement, the Yukon government held only a partial administrative control over mineral programs. As a result, much geoscience work has been conducted by outside consultants, suppliers and air carriers. Now, we are creating a more locally based and locally staffed initiative that will put Yukon geologists in the field to conduct regional scale geological studies and mapping, which is so necessary to expanding our knowledge of our territory and assisting in the location of mineral deposits.
They will work closely with the Northern Affairs geology division and the Geological Survey of Canada to better assure that the specific needs of local government and industry are met.
The money spent on geoscience will now be administered here in the Yukon and will, for the most part, be spent here to create employment and business opportunities. Planning is now underway within my ministry to establish the survey office and I expect that I will be able to extend to all Members an official invitation to the opening of the office by years end.
I would also like to mention to Members that tomorrow is the 1991 Yukon Mines Ministers meeting. Representatives from mining companies active in the territory and industry associations will meet with the federal Minister, Mr. Siddon, and me to discuss a range of issues that are relevant to the industry. At this meeting, I will urge that the concept of an annual Yukon Mines Ministers meeting continue to be held. Members may be aware that a federal commitment to annual meetings was made in the northern mineral policy released in 1986 and such meetings would certainly go a long way toward helping to ensure that continuing sensitivity and response to the industrys concerns at the political level are addressed.
These initiatives complement our own existing efforts aimed at supporting a balanced growth within the mineral sector. Continuing programming, such as the Yukon mining incentives program supports grassroots prospecting activities. This program has contributed to the development of a number of deposits in the territory, including the Mt. Hundere deposit, now nearing the production phase. In addition to the $9 million in the mineral agreement, the Yukon government will inject a further $600,000 this year alone into the industry through the mining incentives program.
In proportion to the size of our population, these two programs provide what I believe to be the richest set of mineral support programs in the country. I say without hesitation that our activities provide some of the best support for mining available in any Canadian jurisdiction.
Mr. Phillips: In response to the Ministers statement, I would like to put on the record that three-quarters of the statement that we have here today deals with the Economic Development Agreement subagreements. It is significant to have the Minister responsible in our gallery today, because he has contributed 70 percent of the funds for this new subagreement of $9 million. The other contribution of 30 percent is the Yukon governments, along with $600,000 out of our annual budget.
It is all well and good for this government to announce new programs and initiatives to support the mining industry in the territory, but all these words ring hollow when it comes to the context in which the mining industry will be compelled to operate in the future. I am referring to the new Environment Act.
Perhaps the Hon. Minister can convince his colleague, the Minister of Renewable Resources, to heed the concerns expressed by the president of the Yukon Chamber of Mines in this House yesterday during Committee of the Whole.
The Environment Act we are dealing with on the Order Paper now will have more impact on the mining industry than all the initiatives being announced here today. The mining industry and investors in the mining industry like legal certainty when it comes to legislation that affects them. The industry is asking this government to carefully consider the current bill, to eliminate the potential for abuse and unintended consequences of this environmental legislation. They are saying to the government, go slow and do it right.
Careful consideration of the concerns of the mining industry now could save the government and the industry many millions of dollars in court challenges in the future. The mining industry has requested that the new rules that will govern their operations in the territory be clearly spelled out in the legislation, rather than leaving them to be specified in regulations.
Too many critical issues have been left to the regulations. The industry is very concerned about the impact that the legislation will have on the long-term certainty that is necessary for a comfortable investment climate.
I urge the government to heed these important concerns.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In response to the Members remarks, I would like to say that like the Member I have recognized, and continue to do so, the rich contribution of the federal government toward this agreement.
Mr. Siddon and I spent some time with the media this afternoon addressing the contribution component of the overall agreement and the various cooperation agreements. There is no question that this is one of the richest agreements in the history of economic development agreements in the territory, and that fact is recognized in addition to the increased share the Yukon government has contributed.
The Member raises concerns about the present mining industry in the Yukon. I want to say to the Member that the federal Minister and I will be meeting with representatives of the industry for most of tomorrow and we expect there to be an exciting and interesting session in addressing a number of concerns and issues that the industry does have.
There is no question that the mining industry is in a state of fragile health, as is our economy in general. Agreements of this sort go a long way in providing the kind of support that the industry needs to rebuild and reduce the risk factor so prevalent in the industry.
With respect to the Members reference to the Chamber of Mines, I would like to reassure him that I have been involved, with my colleague, the Minister of Renewable Resources, in discussions with the Chamber of Mines and the industry with respect to the new Environment Act. The Chamber of Mines has made it fairly clear that the most recent rewrite is a substantial improvement for the industry and there is a recognition in respect of the regulations - they are several years down the road - that the Chamber will be a contributor to the development of those regulations.
So, the Member and the community can be reassured that we are working closely with the industry in recognition of the problems they face and we are providing as healthy a climate for investment as we can - and they recognize that, too.
Speaker: This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Yukon Energy Corporation, energy projections
Mr. Phelps: I, too, would like to welcome the Hon. Tom Siddon to this House.
I have some questions for the Minister responsible for Mining and coincidentally responsible for Yukon Development Corporation and its subsidiary, Yukon Energy Corporation, with regard to the present crisis facing consumers of electricity due to the shortage of reasonably-priced power in the territory.
As the Minister has said, a meeting will take place tomorrow between the Ministers and members of the mining fraternity. I am sure one of the key issues to be raised at that time will be the lack of reasonably-priced energy being in place now for future mining activities.
It is interesting that the ministerial statement read out earlier by the Minister did not deal with this issue. I would like to begin by asking the Minister whether he is still of the opinion that it takes at least six years to get a reasonable-sized hydro project put in place and generating electricity?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I appreciate the Members opening remarks. Unfortunately, I have to correct the impression the Member creates that there is a major crisis looming in the energy field. The Member and I have debated the matter at some length and we agree wholeheartedly that there is too much of a reliance on diesel fuel currently in the system, particularly in recognition of the fact that there is an anticipated increased demand in consumption by 30 percent by Curragh Resources.
Nevertheless, the corporation is taking appropriate steps to reduce our reliance on diesel. In fact, legislation that was passed recently in the House to create the required investment funds for the Dawson/Mayo transmission line is part of the program and policy to reduce our reliance on diesel.
With respect to the specific question, we could probably debate what is a reasonable-sized project. A plant in the magnitude of three to five megawatts can be brought onstream in approximately two to three years. That is the time frame outlined in the strategic report of the program and is the one we are working on.
Mr. Phelps: It is interesting that the chief officer of the largest mining company in the territory, Curragh, has stated that the lack of reasonably priced power in the Yukon is crippling economic growth here. Does the Minister agree with that statement?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Far be it from me to take issue with the chief executive officer of a mining company who may or may not be accurate on various matters. The fact of the matter, in the current economic climate in the territory, is that we have absolutely no evidence that there is any curtailment of economic activity because of energy. There is no mining company, no investment group, no industry that has indicated to us that they will not come here because there is no power. The normal pattern is that as the investment climate is created and there is interest toward investment, those interests come forward and a planning process is put in place to provide for the power requirements for any company that wishes to invest.
Mr. Phelps: Mr. Frame went on to say that Curragh is presently subsidizing the electrical energy system in Yukon.
I wonder what the Minister would say about that?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The facts of the matter were laid before the Public Utilities Board in late 1988. It was revealed at that rate hearing that, currently, Curragh Resources pays approximately 71 percent of the cost of generating their power needs. Given that the facts of the matter laid before the Utilities Board support the argument that Yukon consumers support the power consumption of Curragh Resources, it would appear to me that those facts would put the matter to rest.
Question re: Yukon Energy Corporation, energy projections
Mr. Phelps: I am not exactly sure about that. As I take it, the logic from the other side, namely Curragh, is that if Curragh was not purchasing any electricity from the system, the power would prove to be very expensive to consumers.
Does the Minister agree with that statement?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am sure the Leader of the Opposition would accept that assessing utility costs - and by that I mean rate-based costs - is a fairly complex issue.
The Member is proposing that, without Curragh in the system, we would have to maintain the existing power supply network. That may or may not be the case. We may not be required to maintain the existing system if Curragh were not in place. That would not necessarily mean that there would be a cost involved.
It becomes a rather complex matter when you try to eliminate from the equation a major power user that currently consumes a considerable portion of our total energy needs.
Mr. Phelps: The Minister is busy sitting on both sides of the fence at the same time. I would like to address a specific question to him that I am sure will be raised by the mining fraternity at the meeting tomorrow.
They will say there is not enough reasonably priced power available at this time to supply reasonable demand by mines in the near future. What is the Ministers position going to be with regard to that issue?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I believe I gave the Member our general position on the matter in an earlier question. The issue boils down to the question of who is going to make the investment and take the risk to put new power facilities onstream. That is one that has to be done in a careful, planned economy. That is one that requires substantial investment dollars and a guaranteed consumer to buy that power. You cannot inflict massive costs of hydro-generation, which you may or may not need, on the regular consumer. Somebody has to pay for it.
That is why we work with industry in planning energy needs. That is why we are quite prepared to share the risk, but we need a consumer to buy it. The strategic option the corporation is following is to bring the required energy needs onstream through small scale hydro development, in the three and four megawatt range, which will meet our needs as they increase through the 1990s.
As the Member knows, we anticipate that the entire needs of the territory, through the 1990s, will increase by 16 megawatts, and we have plans for those 16 megawatts coming onstream.
Mr. Phelps: Let me get this straight. The Minister is saying that at present there is enough reasonably priced electrical energy available to supply future needs of the mining industry and other private sectors that may be moving here in the very near future.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That is not entirely correct. Unlike the Member, I do not support the simple fact that with the increased sudden needs of Curragh Resources we have to generate that amount by diesel. So, if we are talking about the immediate future, it is inaccurate to say that we have all of our energy needs provided through the cheapest form of generation. It is fair to say that our long-term economic, industrial and consumer needs are being planned and intended to be phased onstream through the nineties - whether that is through contribution by the Dawson/Mayo transmission lines, Surprise Lake, Drury Lake or other small-scale operations, those plans are in place and feasibility and detailed planning is continuing.
Question re: Yukon Energy Corporation, energy projections
Mr. Phelps: The Minister is now telling us that in the next three to six years all additional demand on our electrical system will be supplied by hydro and not diesel. Is that what he is saying?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: What the Member describes, whereby our entire energy supply is generated by hydro, is the perfect world. No utility in the country has abandoned thermal generation for peak requirements, because you can not have a massive hydro development, even in the several megawatt range, sitting on standby for peak demands that occur regularly on a daily basis. So, diesel is going to be part of the system for a long time - until we find some alternate, efficient means to meet our needs for the peak demands.
In general terms, in the next several years, particularly with the Surprise Lake project, we anticipate the majority of our energy generation to be by hydro.
Mr. Phelps: Is the Member telling us, then, that the consumption of diesel is not going to increase during that period?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I cannot give that assurance to the Member at this time. The expectation is that diesel use over the next year is clearly going to be high. I believe I filed a return to the Member indicating the actual quantity and cost. As we reduce our reliance on diesel by other forms of generation - which will include alternative forms of energy generation - we will, in the long term, reduce our reliance on diesel. That is our objective; it is part of our strategy. It is not desirable to sustain the level of diesel consumption that we anticipate for the immediate short term.
Question re: Otter Falls
Mr. Phillips: My question is related to the same area but is to a different Minister, the Minister of Tourism, and concerns Otter Falls and the Aishihik Road.
As late as 1979, the tourism department defended the Otter Falls flow requirement, saying that the integrity and beauty of the falls should be maintained. For those who are not aware of this, Otter Falls was pictured on the old Canadian $5.00 bill and it has been a fairly significant tourist attraction in the past few years. However, for the last four or five years, no one has been able to see any falls there.
This year we need more significant attractions, yet the falls are not even included in the Yukon travel guide. I would like to ask the Minister why this very beautiful Yukon and Canadian landmark is not in this years travel guide?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I guess the obvious answer is: if you are not able to see the falls in its former glory - it is no longer the attraction that it once was - it is not worthy of such note in our travel guide.
Mr. Phillips: I suppose we could say the same of Niagara Falls if we cut off all of the water flow there. It is a nice thing to see, but if we shut off all of the water it will not be very pretty. The reason that Otter Falls is not listed in the travel guide is because the Ministers colleague, the Minister of Energy has reduced the water flow so significantly that it is no longer worth looking at.
I would like to ask why the Department of Tourism did not make a presentation to the Yukon Water Board and point out the importance of that waterfall to tourism in the territory, and the type of attraction it will be if we maintain decent water flow over Otter Falls?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I want to point out that Otter Falls was at one time very much a tourist attraction. In fact it was portrayed on the back of our $5 bill.
I think this particular example that the Member has raised illustrates the importance of bringing forward an Environment Act at this time, which establishes a development assessment process that will consider the short and long-term consequences of potential developments. In this particular case, we are talking about the hydro-electric dam on the Aishihik Lake. I think that if we do take a look at the long-term and short-term consequences, we will consider the effects that it has on the esthetic features.
Mr. Phillips: The comment by the Minister is interesting. I suppose if the Environment Act was in force now, with a few changes, we could throw the Minister of Economic Development in jail for what he is doing to Aishihik Lake and Otter Falls.
I would like to ask the Minister, in light of the fact that the government is spending thousands of dollars to relocate the bison up the Aishihik Road, would he now consider urging the Yukon Energy Corporation to allow decent enough flows over the waterfall to create a tourist attraction for the upcoming 1992 Alaska Highway Celebrations? After all, Otter Falls was a significant site all through the building of the Alaska Highway, and it would be something to have it in place for the 1992 celebrations. Will the Minister restore Otter Falls to the way they were in the past?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am sorry, I did not quite get the question. Could the Member please repeat it?
Question re: Victims of crime compensation fund
Mrs. Firth: My question is for the Minister of Justice. It is with respect to the victims of crime compensation fund. We have expressed some concern with respect to this program and how it will be affected by the Ministers review of the criteria of the program. We have some specific concerns. I would like to ask the Minister when her review is going to take place, what is going to be involved and when she anticipates having it completed.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The victims of crime program involves two Ministers. It involves the Minister responsible for Workers Compensation and me. We have had discussions in the past with regard to that specific program and we will continue to deal with it. There are some changes in the process being made right now. As I said to the Member prior to today, we are looking at the program as a whole because it is costing us a lot of money.
What we have to remember is that it is an option for those individuals who have been victims of crime in some way. In some cases there is no other option for them but to apply to this program for funding. It, in many cases, helps them to deal with a problem that was not caused by them, but by someone else.
It may be a very liberal program at this point in time, but it is needed.
Mrs. Firth: That is not the issue here. I am trying to get some specifics here from the Minister with respect to the operations of the program. For example, we have some concern with the majority of the cases being alcohol related. Is that going to be taken into account in her review? What is the government going to do to address that issue? Is the Minister even aware that is an issue?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I cannot tell this House whether or not the majority of people who come to the victims of crime program for compensation are as a result of alcohol. The information that is provided to us on each and every one of the individuals who come before us is of a confidential nature.
The Member is concerned about changing criteria to cut down on the costs, but you cannot cut down on the cost of violence. Sometimes the price is very high, especially so for the individuals concerned.
We are concerned about the cost, and we are trying to deal with it, but I cannot promise the costs will decrease. Perhaps they will, and perhaps they will not.
Mrs. Firth: I am trying to get some information from the Minister with respect to what she is doing. It is fine to be concerned and to recognize the benefits of the program, but we still have to be responsible when these programs are administered.
Another concern we have is with respect to the money that is being given to the victim in the form of the award, which can be as high as $15,000, and whether that money is being used for the intended purpose. The concern would be, in the spousal assault...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mrs. Firth: Yes, I will, Mr. Speaker.
In the case of a spousal assault, when the offender has access to that money, can the Minister tell us if that is going to be taken into consideration in her review? Presently, is there some system to follow up on how the money is being used, and whether or not it is being used for the intended purpose?
Hon. Ms. Joe: When we receive an application from an individual, the information given at the time is in confidence with regard to the manner in which the crime was committed. It is not for us to follow up on each and every single individual who receives compensation. In some cases, as in everything else, there may be some abuse, but we would hope that is not the case.
As I said, we are reviewing the program, such as we did with many other programs, and there may not be a change in the criteria. I cannot tell the Member that right now, because we are still looking at the program. There are still changes being made. When we come to some conclusions, and make decisions, I will let her know.
Question re: Victims of crime compensation fund
Mrs. Firth: I would like to follow up on this with the Minister, particularly because she keeps referring to the review that is going to be done. We have to review the effectiveness of the program and whether it is serving its intended purpose.
I have just raised two issues with the Minister and she has not answered whether or not either one of them is being addressed.
The Minister made reference today to some changes that are being made. She also made reference to that yesterday. Perhaps the Minister could be specific and tell us exactly what changes are being made?
Hon. Ms. Joe: We are in the process of looking at the program as well as making specific changes. There has been an agreement in regard to some of those changes that are being made. We still have not come to a final decision with regard to the whole program. When that is done, I will let the Member know.
I must advise the Member that I am not going to stand here and talk about specific cases in regard to those individuals who come before us. Sometimes these people come to us with fear of what may happen to them. Sometimes they come because there is a great need for the compensation that they receive. This compensation may be in regard to lost wages or it may be in regard to other expensesl. We would like to let each and every one of those people who do apply for some kind of compensation know that the information that is given to us, is given to us in confidence, and not reported in this House.
Mrs. Firth: I am not asking the Minister for confidential information. I am asking the Minister very basic, rudimentary questions about the effectiveness of a program. So far, the Minister has said they are in the process of looking at it and that they are in a process of making changes. She has given us a lot of words but she has said nothing.
We have brought forward two concerns. I would like to know if the Minister is even reviewing those or even considering those as concerns, and what changes are they looking at?
What exactly is the Minister doing?
Hon. Ms. Joe: As I indicated earlier, when we have come to a final decision in regard to the matter in which we are going to continue to operate this program, I will let the Member know. If necessary, I will report to the House. The Member is asking for specific information in regard to us taking certain things into consideration. We will take many things into consideration.
Mrs. Firth: Of those many things, I wish the Minister could tell us one. I wish she could stand up and cite one thing they are taking into consideration.
Perhaps the Minister could tell us when the review will be done and when she could bring the information back, so that we can keep track of the effectiveness of the program?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The program in itself is effective. It is working for those individuals who need to take advantage of it. There is no way we are going to leave somebody out there in jeopardy when they need the benefits of this program.
When I have decided what we are going to do with that program, I will let the Member know and I will report to this House if necessary.
Question re: Formula Financing Agreement
Mr. Nordling: I have a question for the Minister of Finance. I would like to follow up on my question of yesterday on the new Formula Financing Agreement. The Minister has said that for every dollar increase in tax revenues from economic activity, our grant will be cut by $1.40. This does seem, to use the Ministers word, perverse. Perhaps the former Minister of Finance, who dealt with the federal government on this, could elaborate on this element of the formula to explain the reasoning behind it.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I would be pleased to try to explain it. It comes from the notion, which I began to explain yesterday in Question Period, called tax effort. The federal government believes that we do not tax people enough in the Yukon - that we, the territorial government, do not have high enough taxes. They compare our tax rates with the tax rates of southern jurisdictions and they say our rates should be higher. We argue that, because of our higher cost of living, our tax burden is already as high or higher than many southern jurisdictions, so they were making an unfair comparison. Nonetheless, they chose to punish us, for want of a better word, to the extent that our taxes were lower than southern jurisdictions by introducing this new element into the formula. If we wished to remove this perverse element by ourselves, we could do so to the extent that we were prepared to raise local tax rates.
I have to make a distinction for the Member, as it is an important one, between tax volumes and tax rates. If we get a new dollar, under the existing rates, or the volume of taxes goes up with a result of a new mine opening and so forth, that is the scenario which costs us money. If there is a new mine, such as Mt. Hundere, going into production and new employees and our tax volumes go up as a result of that, our grant will go down, not by an amount equal to that, but by 140 percent of it.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I apologize, but the Member asked a complex, difficult question. I am trying to do the House a service by explaining it. If the Member for Porter Creek West is not interested or does not want to hear me, I will sit down.
Mr. Nordling: I hoped at that moment that we were getting to the nub of the issue, but perhaps we will get to it when the Minister provides the analysis of the monies that come on a worst case/best case scenario.
Perhaps I can ask a simpler question. With respect to our tax effort, can the Minister tell us how much the federal government expected us to increase our tax effort in percentage terms in order to do away with this perverse element?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It did not prescribe for us what taxes we should increase, but did, in the discussions, point out that there are certain taxes that the territory does not have, such as a retail sales tax. It pointed out that if we had a retail sales tax that was similar to other jurisdictions, then, of course, we would be seen to be making a much greater tax effort. We dissent from that view because we do not believe that, on top of the GST, a territorial retail sales tax would be a good idea. We have consistently opposed that, both inside and outside this House.
Forgive me, but the Member for Porter Creek East will not permit me to elaborate further. I will have to do so on another occasion for the Member for Porter Creek West.
Mr. Nordling: I am sure that you appreciate the help you are getting from the Member for Porter Creek East in keeping the questions and answers short, as you have been trying to do throughout the session. I will wait for the information from the Minister.
One of the things the Minister said in his ministerial statement was that the objectives of the government could be adequately funded and accomplished without jeopardizing the financial position of the territory. I would like to know what the Minister meant by these words? In other words, can Yukoners take from this that the Yukon government will not be bringing in deficit budgets for the next few years or for the life of the agreement, if the government is around?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I want to be very careful about the way I answer the Members question because of course we have presented several budgets before the House which estimated annual deficits that did not happen at the end of the year because we did not spend all the money we had voted. I can answer the question very simply, this way: we came into office with a surplus and we intend to leave office with a surplus, no matter how long we are here.
Question re: Hunting access for non-natives
Mr. Lang: I would like to direct a question to the Minister of Renewable Resources to do with some questions I asked yesterday about the basic need levels that are presently being negotiated for the purposes of wildlife harvesting through the land claims process. It has come to my attention that the First Nations involved, primarily in the south Yukon, specifically game zones 5, 7 and 9 and perhaps some adjacent ones, have put forward a request to meet their basic need levels is at such a level that there would be no other hunting permitted if those particular levels are accepted. Can the Minister confirm whether or not that is true?
Hon. Mr. Webster: No, I can not confirm that to be the truth at this time.
Mr. Lang: I wonder who I would ask? Could the Minister find the information for us and report back to the House?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I indicated to the Member yesterday that that work is not complete, it is ongoing. When I do have the information I will report back to the Member.
Mr. Lang: The real concern here is the question of coming up to an agreement that is acceptable to all Yukoners, native and non-native alike. As I indicated yesterday, there is very major concern within the non-native community that once the government has concluded the negotiations - that the basic need levels will be in such a manner - there will be very little, if any, share of the allowable harvest for non-native hunters. I want to ask the Minister, can he assure the House that any agreement he signs, or that he is a party to, he will insure that in any basic need levels agreed to there will be a share of the allowable harvest for non-native Yukoners?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Member raises a question of concern about having a shared access for Yukoners to the game that is being harvested. As I said yesterday in my remarks in a similar line of questioning, it has been the position of the Government of the Yukon all along in the land claims negotiations to guarantee access to the game for all Yukoners. However, I cannot give assurance to the Member opposite that there will be enough of certain species of game in all areas of the territory to guarantee all Yukoners access to the harvest. In some cases it is quite conceivable that there will not be sufficient numbers of some species to ensure that.
Question re: Hunting access for non-natives
Mr. Lang: I want to follow up a bit further along those lines, because it is a major concern to Yukoners, native and non-native alike, that we come up with an agreement that has common acceptance. The major concern being expressed is that the basic need levels that are now being requested through the land claim process are at such a level that, if accepted by the YTG, the share available for non-native hunters in the southern Yukon is going to be very limited, if available at all.
Can the Minister of Renewable Resources tell us when we will know what those basic need levels are, so we can assess whether or not there is going to be any hunting permitted in portions of southern Yukon for non-native hunters?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Again, as I have already mentioned, the studies are ongoing. I expect they will be complete in the near future, and we will have some idea of the needs of the various First Nations in the territory with respect to various types of game.
I want to make it quite clear that, obviously, there is a great deal of concern in the non-aboriginal community as a result of the Sparrow decision, which recognizes the rights of aboriginal people to harvest. There is also concern, recognizing the fact that there are low numbers of certain species of game in various areas of the territory, which further complicates the situation.
Again, I want to assure the Member that it is the position of the Government of the Yukon that all Yukoners should have access to game, wherever that is feasible.
Mr. Lang: I would like to redirect to another area that is of major concern. In the past couple of months, it has been made public that, for example, there have been six cow moose shot just north of town. We have also experienced the situation of the ewes that were killed out of Ross River. One of the prime concerns is the time of year when these animals are being hunted. They are very close to road access this time of year, and are very easy to kill.
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mr. Lang: In the negotiations presently underway, can the Minister assure the House that normal hunting seasons, as they presently apply to the territory, will apply to all Yukoners, once the land claim agreements have been finalized?
Hon. Mr. Webster: No, I cannot give that assurance to the Member.
Mr. Lang: Can the Minister tell us what his governments position is in respect to having hunting seasons applying to all Yukoners throughout the territory?
Hon. Mr. Webster: My opinion is that I have recognized the Sparrow decision, which basically guarantees the right for aboriginal people to harvest and not necessarily within the seasons that have been arbitrarily defined by governments.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day and Motions Other than Government Motions.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS
Clerk: Item No. 1, standing in the name of Ms. Kassi, debate adjourned, Mr. Brewster.
Motion No. 52 - adjourned debate
Speaker: The question before the House is
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
Mr. Brewster: Because I was originally cut off when I was really wound up, I have thought this situation over a little bit and it is quite apparent that there are a number of things in there that we all agree with, so I would like to propose the following amendment.
Mr. Brewster: I move
THAT Motion No. 52 be amended by deleting all of the words after the words Yukon Legislative Assembly and replacing them with the following:
(a) Yukoners should have a voice in all constitutional consultation about Canadas future;
(b) Yukon aboriginal self-government agreements should be constitutionally protected once they are found to be acceptable to the people of the Yukon; and
(c) Quebec should remain a part of Canada provided that all Canadian citizens have the same rights and obligations."
Speaker: It has been moved by the Member for Kluane
THAT motion No. 52 be amended by deleting all the words after the words Yukon Legislative Assembly and replacing them with the following:
(a) Yukoners should have a voice in all constitutional consultations about Canadas future;
(b) Yukon aboriginal self-government agreements should be constitutionally protected once they are found to be acceptable to the people of the Yukon; and
(c) Quebec should remain a part of Canada provided that all Canadian citizens have the same rights and obligations.
Mr. Brewster: I am not going to speak very long on this amendment, as I have pretty well said everything I have to say already. This is an attempt to try to get the House to at least agree on one thing without a lot of bickering. It is quite apparent from the looks on the other side, that we are going to have some more bickering; this would seem to show the way we think of things in this world.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I wonder if the Member who just spoke would permit a question. He is asking us to speak to some changes in the motion; he has proposed some amendments without providing any explanation for the changes in the wording and I wonder if he would permit two short questions by way of asking what exactly he intends by the changes in the wording of phrases (b) and (c). What does he mean by acceptable to the people of the Yukon? What does he mean by that all Canadian citizens have the same rights and obligations? Does he mean that Quebec should no longer be distinct in the ways it has been in the past? Does he mean acceptable to the people of the Yukon on self-government? Does he mean that we should have a referendum or plebiscite on self-government? Is that what he means? Could he explain, please?
Mr. Phelps: I am quite prepared to speak on the amendments and in so doing, am prepared to deal with those questions and any other questions that the Hon. Member might wish to stand in his place and recite at this time.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: On the point of order, I was not speaking in the debate; I was using a procedure permitted under Beauchesne, which is to ask a person who has just spoken a question about the speech that they have just given and the proposal they have just made. I appreciate that the Leader of the Opposition may yet, in this debate, explain what his party intends. I was seeking from the Member for Kluane, who had just spoken and presented an amendment, for an explanation of the proposal he has put before us. As we are being asked to vote for it, we would like to know what he intends.
Mr. Phelps: I thank the Hon. Member for his question. I had intended to take this opportunity to explain some of the contents of the amendment, knowing that the amendment was coming forward. I think that my speaking at this time is most appropriate as I am sure all Members would agree.
I see that I have vigorous support from the other side. There is such nodding going on over there that I hope that no one suffers from whiplash, especially, as I am not currently in the practice of law and could not take their cases for them on a contingency basis.
There are a number of points that ought to be addressed. The first issue has to do with us stating our opinion that all Yukoners take a position on the items set forth in the original motion. This was a position that was debated at some length when we last addressed this motion and the amendment, as put forward by the Member for Riverdale South. At that time, you may recall that many of us felt that we could not, in good faith, state that all Yukoners took the position as the motion unfortunately read.
I think that part of the amendment should be the most self-evident to our good friends on the other side. We would anticipate, we hope not unwisely, that that portion will be easily acceptable to the government side.
With regard to the next amendment, having to do with aboriginal self-government agreements, I would take Members minds back to the situation as it was before 1985 and, specifically, before some of the ground rules with regard to negotiating Indian land claims were affected in a somewhat adverse way from the Yukon perspective by the recommendations that came forth from the Coolican Report.
As a result of those recommendations, there was a basic change with regard to federal land claims negotiation policy, in that they were not prepared to constitutionally protect the self-government portions of land claim agreements in the Constitution. Before that change in the federal policy, we were most optimistic in the Yukon that the entire land claims agreement - including the self-government components, the components dealing with education, justice, on how our municipality structures were to work, how the self-government components of municipalities on Indian-held lands were to be addressed, and so on - would have been entrenched in the Canadian Constitution.
With regard to the position, as stated in the amendment, we feel that we ought to be speaking to Yukon aboriginal self-government agreements, because we have no idea what path we will be taking in future self-government agreements in other parts of Canada.
Perhaps we do have a difference in this, but we feel that we are comfortable with supporting what has always been the position of the Yukon government with regard to the entrenchment of Yukons land claims in the Constitution, no matter which party was in power.
On this side, we have some hesitancy of the broader principle, as expressed in the original motion, because we do not pretend to have any idea of where agreements in other parts of Canada might lead, and because we feel very uncomfortable in making a blanket assertion with regard to agreements that we have heard very little about.
Part (b) speaks to the issue that they should be protected, once they are found to be acceptable to the people of the Yukon. That speaks to a ratification process. It does not prejudge what that process should be but, presumably, the ratification process, aside from that undertaken by First Nations, could be any number of processes, including a formal adoption in this House or, possibly, by Cabinet. These are issues we are not prejudging in this amendment. We want to make that perfectly clear. This does not speak to a referendum or to the issue of whether it ought to be a ratification by Cabinet, or by some formal adoption in this place.
While I understand the initial concern that emanated from Members on the bench opposite, I want them to understand that, if you carefully read the proposed amendment, please take it that we, in no way, are prejudging that issue. We look forward to hearing what ratification process is intended by the Government of Yukon.
The next issue has to do with Quebec. Again, there was some instantaneous and predictable response from the side opposite, but I think this is an extremely serious proposal. In my discussions with various people about how we are to deal with Quebec in the future, I have been impressed by those who have indicated that there ought to be a distinction made between the kinds of jurisdiction that might be exercised by the Province of Quebec, on the one hand - some jurisdictions that may never be exercised by the rest of the country - and the essential concept that the rights and obligations of individual citizens could very easily remain the same. There could be the notion of equality, even though Quebec, as a collective entity, which is the Province of Quebec, might have various unique areas of jurisdiction confirmed upon it.
My view, as I have expressed earlier in this debate, is that much of the backlash we hear about the issue of bilingualism, and so on and so forth, has to do perhaps with a concept and a judgment we quickly jump to that, somehow or other, citizens of Quebec are being afforded special rights that other citizens of the country do not enjoy. It is my view that that does not necessarily follow, and is not the case, and that the distinction set forth in paragraph (c) is merely an attempt to deal with the very, I think, critical issue if we are ever to meet the needs that are clearly voiced by the collective Quebec, and yet in a reasonable way assure that the basic notion of equality and fairness is not necessarily jeopardized by addressing Quebecs needs. The Government Leader has his hands up and I am sure it is not because he has to visit the mens room, so I would be pleased to allow him to ask me a question.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member has consented to a question. He is exploring extremely difficult and interesting ground and I am taking it from what he said that he thinks there may be a role for the federal government to guarantee minimum conditions of citizenship wherever we exist in the country.
The language in the motion talks about rights and obligations and therefore I am curious, on the question of language, which he has alluded to, exactly what he is proposing. We have one bilingual province in this country. The English citizens of Quebec have certain rights that are not enjoyed anywhere else by linguistic majorities, such as separate universities, separate hospitals and separate school systems. These rights are not guaranteed in any province, until very recently, under section 23 of the Charter - but not as much as they are in Quebec, Quebecers argue.
Is the logic of what the Member is proposing here that all Canadian citizens having the same rights and obligations would mean that rather than the federal government protecting linguistic minorities, languages would become a provincial matter as a way of having symmetry of rights and obligations across Canada? Is that what his motion suggests?
Mr. Phelps: I really would not want to make that judgment at this time. I think that it is a very complex area. What we are attempting to do is to deal with what I feel is a basic tenant of democracy, namely that the body politic and the social contract of citizens, in order to be acceptable to all, ought to provide for the notion of equality, and that conferring powers on one province that may exceed the powers of other provinces does not necessarily, depending on what the package is - I am not going to develop that here, because I am certainly not the person who is qualified to do this, I recognize that - has to be implemented as a result of the constitutional debate that we are going through at this time. It has to be understood and seen to be met by the vast majority of citizens in Canada if we are to overcome the problems currently facing us, such as the backlash over Quebec.
The obvious problem that we on this side had with the original motion, as it stood, was that it could be interpreted that all Yukoners are of the opinion that Quebec should stay in at any cost, and I do not think that is the position that I would like to take and it is certainly not a position that I have received from a majority or even a significant minority of Yukoners that I have communicated with on the issue of Canadas future and just exactly where we are going.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I thank the Leader of the Official Opposition for permitting me another question. I am beginning to regret that Mr. Speaker is still in the Chair, not because you, sir, are the Speaker but because it may be that this forum is not the ideal one for my having the opportunity to explore the Leader of the Official Oppositions views on this question, which I find very interesting.
I wonder if he would not agree that the use of the word same in the phrase rights and obligations does not potentially lead to some misunderstanding with respect to the existing constitutional arrangements in Canada where many scholars argue that we already have some asymmetry in the Canadian Constitution. If the rights and obligations of citizens in different provinces are not the same, in the sense they are identical, they are qualitatively different. I refer the Member to what he has just said about clause (b) that the character of the rights enjoyed by First Nations, for example, or First Nations citizens of this country, could well be, or are likely to be and are now, different from those enjoyed by other citizens in the country; therefore I am wondering if he does not see that the word same in this phrase might not potentially lead to some misunderstanding.
Mr. Phelps: I thank the Member for his question, and he does raise a problem with the wording. I agree that there could be a better choice of words with respect to clause (c), something like similar, perhaps. I would be interested in entertaining a subamendment.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Leader of the Official Opposition has indicated his willingness to consider a subamendment, and I appreciate that. I do not know how quickly he and his side wishes to expedite this matter. In other words, I do not know how many speakers they wish to put up to their own amendment.
I have a preamble to a general question, which is, in the tradition of the preambles in Question Period - a bit long.
Given that I am having such a good time asking the Leader of the Official Opposition questions about this subject, and given that I think, for all of us, these are very serious and important questions for those of us who care about our country and the kind of constitutional crisis it is, since he has the floor, would the Leader of the Official Opposition entertain the possibility of moving this resolution into Committee to allow more flexibility in the kind of discussion we have been having than we customarily do with the formal 20-minute set speeches? It seems to me, in listening to each other give those formal speeches, it has inhibited the kind of dialogue that all Members might relish this afternoon on this question.
Mr. Phelps: This has been a most unusual debate, thus far. In view of the seriousness of the subject motion, I would have no objection to it being moved into Committee, in order to discuss such issues as the one raised by the Hon. Member.
Motion No. 52 referred to Committee of the Whole
Mr. Phelps: Accordingly, I move
THAT Motion No. 52 and the amendment be referred to Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Leader of the Official Opposition
THAT Motion No. 52, and the amendment, be moved to Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Deputy Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We will have a brief recess.
Deputy Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Motion No. 52
Deputy Chair: We will be dealing with Motion No. 52 and the subsequent amendment, moved by Mr. Brewster.
Is there any debate?
Mr. Phelps: The amendment was being debated. Just before we moved debate into Committee of the Whole, we were discussing clause (c) of the amendment. There was concern raised with regard to the use of the words have the same rights and obligations.
I feel a better, more appropriate wording would probably be have equal rights and obligations.
I would be interested in hearing any comments with regard to whether that amendment might be considered appropriate or not.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As I do not want to use this as my opportunity to speak on this matter, I would simply say that I cannot speak for my caucus as we have not discussed this in precisely these terms.
It is my personal view that the word equal would be much better than the word same for the reasons I indicated in the question that I put to the Leader of the Opposition. We have a similar problem with the wording in part (b) of Mr. Brewsters amendment, because acceptable to the people of the Yukon might have meant something other than what he explained it meant, which was ratification by some legitimate legislative and First Nations process.
Same rights is the problem, for the reasons I explained, both in context of language politics and also in terms of the asymmetry that already exists between Quebec and some of the other provinces in the Canadian constitutional framework. It is also problematic, if we are to take clause (b) of the original motion and of the proposed amendments seriously. I think the word same is problematic. Perhaps the word equal might be more agreeable. It might be useful if other Members who have opinions on that aspect also express them here.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would like to explore this a bit prior to expressing a final view on the change in wording in clause (c) from same to equal. I need to better understand the intent of the motion. I will put this in the form of some questions to the Member for Hootalinqua.
As has been pointed out this afternoon, Quebec has some elements of a distinct society now, which I am presuming from the comments made so far would not be jeopardized in a new constitutional arrangement. What is of concern to some Members is that Quebec has certain special rights beyond what currently exist, which would provide two very distinct classes of Canadian citizenry.
In terms of the original explanation the Member for Hootalinqua put forward, providing a justification for the new (c), he indicated that the rights being referred to are rights that would apply across Canada and would be considered, in essence, as federal rights - rights emanating from the federation - but there could be different rights if those rights had been designated to provinces.
I am interested in understanding a little more about that in the context of language rights and, in particular, the effect that this would have on minority language interests in provinces. If language was to be considered the exclusive domain of provinces, how would minority language rights be played out under this scenario?
Mr. Phelps: I would not want to be misleading in the concept I am attempting to put forward and in discussing terms of part (c) of the amendment. It seems to me that there is a distinction to be made between provinces having different jurisdictions and citizens not having equal rights and obligations under the law.
The issue of language, of course, is the most emotive one that we could come up against with regard to the issue of Quebec. I want to make it very clear that I would see the protection of language remaining a protection under the Constitution. I very much agree with those who were quite upset at the use of the notwithstanding clause by the Premier of Quebec to override the Constitutional notion of equality. I think that is one of the grave mistakes that has led us down the path to this crisis we are facing regarding the country holding together.
I think that the backlash regarding bilingualism had to do with the concept that there was inequality in the result of the use of the notwithstanding clause. I think that was a very harmful use of that clause.
Just to make it clear, those kinds of protections should remain, in my view, under the Charter. I feel that the notwithstanding clause is inappropriate in its present context.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It would be interesting to pursue this further, respecting the intent of the clause, should language rights be considered part of the federal jurisdiction, and therefore obligate the Province of Quebec to have the same powers as the Province of Saskatchewan or the Yukon Territory or perhaps the Province of Saskatchewan only.
With respect to language protection, that would certainly appear to take the discussions that we have progressed through so far back a notch with respect to Quebecs acceptance of the Constitutional Accord, which incorporates the Members understanding of how clause (c) might apply to language rights. I think the elegance of clause (c) is that it is silent on the question and consequently we avoid the issue altogether. We can perhaps leave that up to people who are better practiced at debating and understanding these questions than we are.
The other elements, clauses (a) and (b) - just for the record I find acceptable, given the Members interpretation of clause (b). Clause (c) is something that I can accept with the amendment that is proposed, namely equal rights, because it allows some flexibility for constitutional drafters, if they consider this to be their marching orders, which I doubt very much they would. It will leave some flexibility for constitutional drafters to consider a division of jurisdiction or jurisprudence, as some people have referred to it in this House, in fact it is jurisdiction. It will leave some flexibility for them to actually determine the number of options with respect to jurisdiction and also a number of options with respect to quantifying what equal rights are.
Mr. Phelps: I am pleased with the conclusions drawn by the Member for Mayo. I think the distinction really is one that the Constitution ought to ensure, to the best degree possible, that the principle of equal rights for individual citizens is protected. There is a difference between a province, such as Quebec, enhancing French language in positive ways and infringing upon rights of the minority, in this case the anglophones in Quebec. It seems to me, for example, if various jurisdictions were conferred upon Quebec that are now exercised by the federal government such as immigration, that would not impact on the notion of equality among citizens of Canada. I think that if people understand that distinction, it would go a long way toward ameliorating the present ill feeling that is felt by so many people with respect to the Quebec issue. I have often felt that much of the emotion that we hear is addressed by the feeling that some people are being given special privileges at the expense of others. A lot of the emotion can be reduced to that kind of simple moral concern. I would hope that the Canadians involved in the various processes that are being set up to address changes in the Constitution, and that may hopefully bring Quebec on side, would be extremely sensitive to the notion of equality. I feel compelled to strike that theme in this motion with regard to a united Canada.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I have a question in regard to (b). At first glance, I find it very unacceptable to me and, I expect, to a lot of First Nations people. I understand that the Member for Hootalinqua has suggested that part of the amendment would possibly include agreement or ratification by First Nations and this government. If that is the case, how would he intend to include it? As it stands right now, I would not be able to accept it. If there was a small amendment that said that it would include the agreement of the First Nations and the government, then I might be able to.
I would like the Member to elaborate a little bit more on that.
Mr. Phelps: I think there is common ground among Members that we would like to see the entrenchment of the entire land claims agreement in the Constitution. It seems to me that the issue of the final agreement ratification is one that we do not want to prejudge. I have always been of the opinion that the formal final agreement would be ratified, not by federal Cabinet, but by the House of Commons, as were previous land claims settlements in recent years. The Committee of Original Peoples Entitlement agreement went to the federal government, before the House, for debate and ratification.
I would anticipate that the ratification of the final agreement, as opposed to the agreement in principle, which is done by Cabinet in this House, would be through the mechanism of a bill that would be debated in this House, as well. Most of the self-government aspects, depending on your definition of self-government, deal with areas that require the enactment of laws in this House, because education, social services, justice, and so on are currently largely under the jurisdiction of this government.
I have always been of the opinion that the ratification process, without prejudging it, would be one that would involve nothing more or less than debate of bills in this House in order to ensure that the appropriate laws were passed here. So I find it acceptable.
I would certainly entertain another amendment. It should be something along the lines that states they should be constitutionaly protected once they are ratified in an appropriate fashion by the three parties involved in the negotiations.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I think, for our side, if that more precise expression were made, such as the one the Leader of the Official Opposition has suggested - and our House Leader will perhaps now draft a subamendment - is acceptable, it will deal both with the same verses equal or equal verses the same question and the question of ratification. Does the Leader of the Official Opposition already have an amendment that does this?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We have a subamendment that, I believe, accomplishes the need to amend both (b) and (c) in the amendment in a fashion that should be acceptable to all Members. Let me move a subamendment to Motion No. 52:
THAT the amendment to Motion No. 52 be amended in (b) by deleting the words found to be acceptable to the people of the Yukon and substituting for them the words ratified in an appropriate fashion by the three parties to the land claims negotiations; and
THAT the amendment to Motion No. 52 be further amended in (c) by deleting the words the same and substituting for them the word equal.
I believe that accomplishes everything and that there is no further need to subamend.
Deputy Chair: Is there any further debate on the subamendment?
Subamendment agreed to
Deputy Chair: Is there any further debate on the amendment as amended?
Amendment agreed to as amended
Deputy Chair: Is there any further debate on the main motion as amended?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I was not sure whether it was appropriate to do my speech on the motion now, or whether we had to leave Committee of the Whole. However, I do want to speak on this motion, and I want to say, once again, that I am very proud to be an aboriginal person of this country.
Their history goes back a long way to the years when aboriginal people in this country did govern themselves. They had their own laws and their own languages, and they had their own beliefs, cultures and traditions. The land was taken care of well during those times, and it was protected for future generations.
I think that our cultures and traditions are worth protecting. A lot of people do not know this, but history tells us that the practice of culture and tradition, many years ago, was taken away from the aboriginal people of this country through laws that were passed by others. For instance, if you were stick gambling, you would be charged for practicing this unknown culture and you were actually thrown into jail sometimes.
I think that it is well worth looking at all of the things that have happened in the past and protecting them in the future. We know for a fact that here in the Yukon, graveyards were promoted as a tourist attraction by the former government long before a lot of us were sitting in the House. They were advertised and bus loads of people went to look at the graveyards, taking pictures and sometimes taking some mementos from the graveyards.
Through the work of the Yukon Indian Womens Association, we brought this issue to the forefront and absolutely opposed using Indian graveyards as a tourist attraction. The government at that time did listen to us and they started taking it out of the tourist brochures that were being made available to tour groups. The Yukon Indian Womens Association had signs made and paid for them to be put up on at least two of those graveyards.
We know for a fact some of those cultures and traditions can be easily taken away and we want to be very sure that they can never be taken away again. We need to have those rights enshrined in the Constitution, so that we can protect and pass on those cultures and traditions to future generations.
I wonder sometimes how many Canadians really care whether or not the north is a part of Canada. During the Meech Lake debates we did not have a voice in constitutional consultations about Canadas future and we all know that we all pay taxes and that we are all suffering from the effects of the Goods and Services Tax, as are many other Canadians. Whatever happens to Canada in the future will affect all of us, not just the Provinces of Quebec, Ontario or Alberta, but all of the provinces and territories.
The federal government, with the appointment of the Spicer Commission, shut out the North yet again, despite the urgings of the Yukon government and the Northwest Territories government - the request for appointing a northerner to that Commission was denied.
If Canada is going to remain united, it must listen to the opinions of all Canadians and that includes the Canadians in the Yukon. I do not want to live through another Oka crisis. The visions of Canadian soldiers lined up with tanks and guns against other aboriginal Canadians caused me a great deal of pain. The events at Oka would never have occurred if aboriginal rights were entrenched in the Constitution.
Aboriginal self-government agreements constitutionally protected would have ensured that no one could go in and steal lands away from any First Nations people. It would have stopped the arrogant and blatant grabbing of aboriginal lands so that some person could not go out and expand a golf course in some cities. It would have prevented the federal government from sending in the Canadian Armed Forces, much like the cavalry of the old American west.
I was never so proud to be an aboriginal person as when Elijah Harper stood up and stopped the Meech Lake Accord. He believed strongly that the rights of aboriginal people in all of Canada must be recognized, respected and protected.
Just as Quebec has its own language and traditions it wants to protect and preserve, the aboriginal nations want the same, but we have to be able to communicate. We have to have our voices heard and listened to. We have to work very hard together to ensure that we have a strong and united country in the future.
Canada is multicultural, multi-lingual and multi-racial. We are a country that people from all over the world envy: for our freedom, our standard of living, and the rights that every ethnic group has to preserve and develop its own culture and values. It is sad that these rights are not always protected. It is sad that the standard of living of some of the aboriginal people is comparable to Third World countries. It is sad that after hundreds of years, the Canadian government still feels it must play the parental role and, through the Department of Indian Affairs, protect our interests.
There must be self-government for aboriginal people and these agreements must be constitutionally protected. We must be allowed to develop and carry on the new initiatives we have begun in the development of land claims.
We must continue to support and help educate all people in their own culture, languages and spiritual beliefs. We must ensure that the new-found pride that the aboriginal people are sensing will not be smothered as it has been so many times in the past.
In conclusion, I urge you to support this motion; support that all Canadians have a right to have a voice in our future; support constitutionally protected aboriginal self-government agreements; and support keeping our country together by opening communication between all provinces and territories, so that everyone, including Quebec Canadians, will have a desire to remain in a united Canada.
I think that after a great deal of debate in this House with regard to this motion, after amendments, discussions and going back into Committee of the Whole, we have been able to come to some sort of an agreement here. I really think that that is the very first step.
Mr. Devries: I would like to speak briefly in support of this motion as amended. Firstly, in regard to clause (a), I think we should thank the Select Committee on Constitutional Development for their excellent work. There is a diverse range of opinions among Yukoners regarding constitutional development of the territory and this would also pertain to the motion that is before us.
On clause (b), a concern came to my mind about what is meant by self-government. It is still very unclear to me what self-government comprises.
I became very suspicious of self-government when I was recently handed a document called the Kaska Economic Accord. In this document, it seems to me that the natives themselves are dividing native groups into four different classes of people regarding hiring and training policies at the Kaska joint-venture project, which would include Mt. Hundere. In this document, there are five different hiring and training prerequisites and they are in order of preference. The first preference would be given to a Kaska member living in the community nearest, or possibly within the community where the venture takes place. I realize there is not much of a problem with that, because we also have the same preferences in our hiring policies with YTG, where priority is given to a resident of Watson Lake or wherever.
The second person they would choose would be a Kaska member from another community. The third person they would choose would be from among other natives living in Kaska communities. The fourth person they would choose would be from among other natives. The fifth person would be a non-native.
My concern, and this has already happened, is that this has the potential of pitting family members against each other, whether intentional or otherwise.
I have already received complaints regarding the policy from some of the natives seeking employment at Mt. Hundere-related projects. Just a few weeks ago I was in the restaurant with my wife and children and a couple of native gentleman were sitting at a table not too far from me and they were hollering across at me, John, who do you support, the Kaskas or the Tahltans on this issue? They were having trouble getting employment at the mine and whether it is true or not, they were basically indicating that the reason they were being turned down for this employment was because they were Tahltans. This is a problem I have to deal with as an MLA and it has not made the Indian community a nicer place to live as we are starting to see natives divided among themselves.
This type of discrimination, I feel, will divide the Indian people and in order to achieve self-government, my understanding is that they have to work together. I do not know if what we are saying in this motion can possibly help to rectify this situation. Our culture, I feel, has established the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and we have the Human Rights Commission to prevent some of these issues. My big question is, will the natives someday also fall under the Charter or will they develop a charter of their own?
In this mobile society we see more and more natives inter-marrying with various tribes. I definitely feel that this will create more stress in what is already a stressful situation.
I think it is a very similar situation with Quebec. From the constitutional review committee, we see Yukoners are not united on this issue as it was stated in the original motion. I am not prepared to say that Yukoners support Quebec remaining in Canada without at least some conditions applied to it. I feel that is what this amendment does. Most Yukoners I speak to want Quebec and Canada to stay united - but it is not at any cost.
I support this motion as it has been amended.
Mr. Johnston: Once again I would like to thank the House for allowing me this brief opportunity to say a few words on the motion before us.
These constitutional talks have been around for quite some time, dating back to the first years of land claims negotiations. The message to the Government of Canada at the time was that the Yukon native people wanted to have a voice in any constitutional talks that would affect the native people of the Yukon, whether it concerned amendments to the game laws or anything else that affected the Yukon. We wanted to have an equal voice and the opportunity to speak.
After a while, it seemed like things were getting away from this, but I am glad to see it is coming back to where we are saying we, as Yukoners, all would like to have a voice in these kinds of talks. I support this motion the way it is amended and I hope we will all have a voice in stating why we accept it. Thank you.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I was waiting for the original mover of this motion to rise. It was so long ago, I had forgotten who had originally put this motion forward. It has also been amended and subamended several times.
I would like to briefly speak to the main motion, as amended. It has long been my belief that Canada is strengthened by its cultural diversity. It seems to me that this motion speaks specifically to the strength that has made us an honoured and respected nation and, I believe, the best place in the world to call home.
Many Canadians derive their very sense of identity from Canadas tradition as a northern nation and a land of frontiers. It is my opinion that, during this time when Canada is seriously re-examining its constitutional relationships, it is essential that the view of northerners, in particular the view of people from the Yukon, should be heard in the halls of national power.
The people of the Yukon have spoken on this question. The findings of the Select Committee on Constitutional Development, which was tabled yesterday in this Legislature, confirm my own conviction that the Yukon deserves a full voice at national conferences, such as first Ministers meetings, that anyone other than Yukon representatives cannot adequately state Yukon interests at these meetings, and that the Yukon should be fully represented at all national conferences, not only those dealing with constitutional matters.
I need say no more on the first proposition of this motion.
On the second proposition, that the people of the Yukon want aboriginal self-government agreements constitutionally protected, I agree that Yukoners have more than once expressed their support for the concept of the protection of self-government agreements achieved by First Nations.
The negotiation of a fair Yukon land claim, which respects the rights and interests of the Yukons First Nations, has been the key issue of more than one general election in the territory. Yukon people have repeatedly endorsed a fair settlement. Self-government agreements have clearly been a feature of the kind of claim settlement supported in this territory.
For the country, there is an unfinished piece of constitutional business, and I take some satisfaction in the knowledge that the Yukon may be leading the way, through its cooperative and constructive negotiating process, to solutions that may help the rest of the nation live up to its constitutional obligations.
Although discussions of self-government matters were not part of the mandate of the Select Committee on Constitutional Development, I was pleased to see the apparent respect that witnesses appearing before the committee paid to the settlement of land claims. I believe that their reluctance to express firm views on the best constitutional future for the Yukon as a whole, prior to the resolution of claims, was yet another clear indication of public commitment to meeting our constitutional obligations to Yukon First Nations.
On the third proposition put forward in this motion, that the people of the Yukon want Quebec to remain part of a unified Canada, I will simply say that Canada would be diminished without Quebec. Canada would not be Canada without Quebec. It would be devastating indeed if, on the eve of extending full recognition of rights to the nations first citizens - the aboriginal people - we were to see one of our founding provinces slip out of Confederation.
It is my belief that we should take advantage of the recently announced opportunities to participate more fully in this countrys constitutional debates. In these debates, we must work toward extension of constitutional recognition of the Yukon. We must work for the constitutional entrenchment of self-government agreements for aboriginal Canadians. We must continue to recognize the importance of Quebec as one of the foundations on which this great country has been built.
I hope that all Members will join me in supporting a united Canada.
Motion No. 52 agreed to as amended
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that you report Motion No. 52 out of Committee as amended.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Mr. Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Joe: The Committee of the Whole considered Motion No. 52, respecting the Canadian Constitution and directed me to report on the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of the Yukon Legislative Assembly that:
(a) Yukoners should have a voice in all constitutional consultations about Canadas future;
(b) Yukon aboriginal self-government agreements should be constitutionally protected once they are ratified in an appropriate fashion by the three parties to the land claims negotiations; and
(c) Quebec should remain a part of Canada provided that all Canadian citizens have equal rights and obligations.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried and that Motion No. 52, as amended, has been agreed to by this House.
Motion No. 52 agreed to as amended.
Clerk: Item No. 2, standing in the name of Mr. Joe.
Speaker: Is the Hon. Member prepared to deal with Item No. 2?
Mr. Joe: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Motion No. 39
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Minister for Tatchun
THAT it is the opinion of this House that trapping is an important part of life in the Yukon for both its economic and cultural values;
THAT trappers are monitors of the health of our environment and wildlife habitat; and
THAT this House commends Yukon trappers for their dedication to humane trapping and wise use of wildlife resources.
Mr. Joe: It is the people and their way of life that is in trouble. Trappers all across the country are losing their jobs because of pressure from people in Europe. These people do not understand how we live and why we must trap our animals.
They want to ban all the fur. In much the same way, they want to ban our lifestyle - the only lifestyle many of our people know.
We chose this way of life because it is the way it has always been. This is what we have been taught by our elders. It is how our ancestors lived. When the white fur traders first came here, we used the fur for clothing. We traded with other native people all along the coast. We are still trading today.
The people in Europe brought these changes to our people. We were happy to provide them with furs and we benefited from this trade. Since then, our lives have changed in many ways.
The people from Europe went back home with a new outlook of the way we live. They were able to see first hand, just how important this issue is for us.
This is the only way for others to learn. They should be there with our people, eating with them and sharing their tea.
There were plenty of furs when the white man first came here. There are still plenty of furs. Our ways have helped make sure of this. Why would we destroy our source of income? Our people have worked closely with researchers to develop better and more efficient traps. Nobody wants to see animals suffer unnecessarily. With better and quick-kill traps, we hope to show the anti-fur lobby that we are taking care of the animals.
We must stand up for our trappers. We must show them that our support is not just vocal. Trapping is a very important industry to the Yukon. But if we do not do something about it soon, it will disappear forever.
Mr. Brewster: I do not have much hesitation in supporting this motion. I, myself, have brought forward several motions into this House on trapping, and I am quite convinced that the one motion I brought forward on trapper awareness was one that spurred the Minister to turn around and proclaim a trappers awareness week.
It does not matter to me who does these things. I do not care who gets the credit, as long as these things are done.
In speaking to this motion, I would like to talk a little on the last part of the motion. I would caution the government not to panic on these issues, when the environmental and Green Peace people start to go after them.
Trappers must be consulted, and the trappers must be listened to. This is their livelihood, and it is affected by what environmentalists say who do not know a thing about what they are talking about. They use false information and emotion, and the trappers have very little chance to get back at them for this.
I hope the Department of Renewable Resources is keeping in touch with Alberta, where they are experimenting on animals to find quick-kill traps. These traps are very important. They must be traps that do not harm or take the lives of trappers. If a trapper is ever caught in some of the traps now in use, that would be the end of him. He would not last very long out there at 40 degrees below zero with his leg trapped and, possibly, broken.
That is the trap they say kills an animal quickly, but it also kills the trapper. That is being done simply due to pressure from Green Peace and environmentalists, who have never been out there and do not understand this, but they are trying to force things like this down trappers throats. Eventually, trappers will quit trapping, because they cannot handle the situation.
I am a little concerned about what the new Environment Act will do to trappers, their livelihood and their lifestyle. I do not know just how it will affect them. I guess we will have to look at that further on, but I do know that there are more and more wilderness guides coming into the area and, as they come in they will push the trappers out. Trappers seem to be the people who are the easiest to push around because they have no way to communicate with the public.
All trappers are environmentalists, but I think they also know and realize they must use the land and farm the fur sensibly, and that by doing this they will have lots of fur. The Member for Tatchun mentioned that there is still lots of fur out there; there is, as long as we look after it. But as long as we start closing off parts of this land where nobody can trap and nobody can do anything in it, then you will find that the fur will start to decrease. Fur must be harvested. If not, nature looks after it and will kill off some of the animals to keep things in the proper perspective.
I think trappers are well aware of this and I think it would be very smart of this government - and all governments - to listen to the trappers once in a while about trapping and not come along with some of their emotions, some of their Walt Disney shows, which are shown all over the world and show the trapper as a mean man, which he is not. In most cases he is more conscious of animals and of people suffering than any of these people who watch these programs.
These programs have an effect, they go into the big cities, where they do not know what they are talking about, and they play on instinct and emotion. I hope that this Legislature continues to support trapping and trapping awareness, and that anything that trappers need I hope that we will support it.
Mr. Devries: I also rise to speak in support of this motion and I thank the Member for Tatchun for bringing it forward. I spent about four years of my life in Watson Lake being the representative for the Yukon Trappers Association. Through it, I developed many friendships with many of the local trappers and I must say I still have about $500 in my books as outstanding accounts from many of the trappers, but that does not mean I have any less regard for them.
I would like to share some research I did on this, along with some help from my daughter, from material given to us by the Department of Renewable Resources.
In a thousand ways my existence is in conflict with others. The necessity of taking life and harming life is imposed on me. When I walk along a lonely path my foot brings pain and death to the tiny forms of life that populate it. To preserve my life I must defend it against a life that injures it. I become the prosecutor of the little mouse that wants to live in my house, a murderer of the insect who wants to build his nest there, a mass murderer of the bacteria that endanger my life. I get my food by the destruction of plants and animals. My happiness is built upon injury to my fellow creatures. It is a quote by Dr. Albert Schweitzer, who was genuinely concerned about animal suffering.
As living beings, we are forced to harm other life. In doing so, we do incur a growing debt that we can only repay by showing respect and responsibility for the well-being of animals and other living beings. This is the basic understanding of the fur trade. Respect for the animal is the trappers greatest concern and responsibility. It does not appear to be an understanding of the anti-fur and animal rights activists. These two groups condemn the use of the leg-hold trap, but they do nothing to contribute to humane trap research and development. A majority of those working to destroy trapping have never seen a trapline and are totally ignorant of trapping regulations and management. They have little or no understanding of the cultural and economic importance of trapping to rural people. They use distorted facts, shock tactics and sheer emotion to gain support.
These groups do not realize that the elimination of fur trapping will not end death or suffering for animals. Animal species produce more young than their habitat can ultimately support. It is this surplus production that aboriginal hunters saw as the animals gift. It was available to support human life, as long as it was used wisely.
It is true that nature does not need us to maintain the balance. Starvation, disease, predation, intra-species fighting and cannibalism are all natural occurrences to maintain the equilibrium in nature, and they are not necessarily more humane than trapping methods. They are hidden away in the bush, where most of us do not see this happen.
These groups condone leg-hold traps with teeth, which cause an animal to suffer to its death. These types of traps are not promoted by any trappers association and are, in fact, becoming illegal in North America. Leg-hold traps without teeth are used because no safe and effective killing device has yet been found for the largest predators - wolves, coyotes and foxes. It is required by law that live-holding traps be visited every 24 hours. Trapping systems are becoming more humane.
These groups fail to acknowledge that a trappers own survival is incentive to maintain the fur-bearing populations within his area. He works with biologists and provincial fur managers to ensure that the animals are well managed. As a result, today, no fur-bearing population in Canada is endangered or threatened.
Trappers are also licensed and they must pay royalties for furbearers that are harvested on their traplines. Trapping seasons are regulated to protect animals and quotas are applied where necessary.
These groups fail to recognize that in the regions concerned, trapping provides an important source of income, especially in the winter months. In the Canadian far north, fur trade is one of the few sources of cash income available to the people living there.
Ironically, may I add that the introduction of synthetic furs is not for the sake of animals. Synthetics are chemical products that cause pollution and deplete non-renewable resources and disrupt natural life, supporting ecosystems that are in fact threatening animal populations. In contrast, animal furs provide warmth for cold climates, will outlast cloth, are non-polluting, biodegradable and environmentally sound. The fur trade is proud to supply natural products of exceptionally high quality, while promoting true environmental conservation.
For thousands of people in rural and remote regions around the globe, the fur trade provides critical income and employment, while maintaining habitat and native wildlife. For these people, fur is a way of life, an integral part of their heritage and culture. Looked at from a broader perspective, furs are not a luxury. Furs are a valuable and particularly beautiful gift of nature, an important natural resource to be used wisely and with respect.
Much of what I just stated was part of a speech that my daughter gave at a trendy university in Toronto, Polytechnical Institute where she studies fashion design. She chose to speak on this subject, because she feels very strongly about it. It was not a popular subject among her peers and she said that some of them just glared at her angrily. There was no doubt that they were angry with her to even mention it, but she spoke up for something that she believed in. She was pleasantly surprised when one of the most vehement opponents came to her several weeks later, indicating that she had rethought her position and would like a copy of the speech.
It is not the politicians who are going to save the trappers; it is our young people, as they speak out. As hard as it may be when they face the stares from the Disney mentality brain-washed youth of today, the opportunity is there in our schools and universities, in this land where we are free to speak for what we believe in.
We must make sure that there are good resources available for our youth.
It is my opinion that no one cares more about our wildlife than the trappers. It is the trappers way of life. The trapper is the first one to realize that disease or other problems are developing among the creatures he loves and which sustain his lifestyle. No one but the trapper is as dedicated to seeing sustainable wildlife populations, so that his way of life may be sustained in the most humane way possible.
Trapping and furs developed this great country; if trapping is lost, so is a great part of our heritage.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I would like to begin by thanking the Member for Tatchun for bringing this motion forward and, also, by acknowledging the experts in my caucus, the Member for Old Crow, the Member for Tatchun and our Speaker, the Member for Campbell. As each has been, at one time or another, actively involved in trapping, my colleagues can speak on this issue with far more authority than I will ever have. They can speak far more eloquently than I to the cultural and lifestyle importance that trapping has for the Yukon. However, I can make a number of observations, and I appreciate this opportunity to do so.
On a national scale, the Canadian fur industry contributes $850 million to our economy, annually. It provides incomes for more than 100,000 individuals, ranging from trappers and ranchers to manufacturers and retailers. In the Yukon, trapping provides an important economic boost to our small rural communities. It helps sustain a northern lifestyle enjoyed by approximately 700 trappers and their families.
Our fur sales alone generate more than $1 million annually. Two to three times that amount goes to local businesses, as the economic spin-off from this income. Cottage crafts people and tourism gift shops are increasingly capitalizing on our wild fur resource by producing and selling fur products ranging from dolls to clothing.
In the north, where wage jobs are often tied to the seasons, trapping is an important source of winter income, particularly in the communities. The fur industry, which has always been largely dependent on foreign markets and subject to the nature of international monetary fluctuations and fashion trends, has been in a major slump for the past few years. This is the result of several factors: a surplus of ranch-raised furs, the world economy in recession, and effective lobbies by anti-fur and animal rights groups.
The downturn is so serious that, earlier this year, the Hudsons Bay Company announced it was getting out of the fur-selling business, on which its retail empire was founded over three centuries ago. Also disturbing was the news that, as a result of low prices for furs, the Ontario Fur Trappers Association declared bankruptcy after 50 years of operation.
Despite the bad news, I believe there are reasons to be optimistic about the future of the wild fur industry. Recent spring fur auctions have shown quite a strong upsurge in the price for wild furs. Hard times in the industry over the past few years have knocked a number of ranching operations out of the picture and seems to have ended the glut of farm furs on the market.
Other factors seem to be changing, as well. For example, recent survey results indicate a new attitude is emerging among consumers. The vast majority of them continue to value fur and to view it positively. People are beginning to question the arguments and tactics of animal rights activists, preferring to hear all the facts from both sides of the issue before making their choices.
Many new developments, including the increasing use of more humane traps and the effective promotion, through trapper education workshops, of more humane trapping techniques, are encouraging consumers to look more favourably on the fur industry. These initiatives help to counter the claims by animal welfare groups that there is excessive cruelty to animals in the fur industry.
The Yukon has played a leading role in encouraging humane trapping. Our trapper education program, offered through the Yukon Trappers Association, is well established and does an excellent job of keeping trappers up-to-date on the best humane trapping techniques and equipment. It is one of the first trapper education programs in the country, and I want to take this opportunity to thank the executive of the Yukon Trappers Association, in particular the president of many years, George Darbyshire, as well as general manager, Darlene Richardson, for their contributions over the years to promote the industry on behalf of all Yukoners, in this program, as well as others.
Unfortunately, the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs, which had contributed to trapper education initiatives in the past, has withdrawn its support this year. I am pleased to report, however, that the Yukon government has been able to cover the cost of the shortfall in the funding, and will continue with their contribution to this program in the future.
Our efforts, on behalf of trappers, have not been limited to education. Our trap exchange program, the first in Canada, allows trappers to turn in steel-jawed leghold traps in exchange for humane alternatives.
Similar programs are now being contemplated elsewhere in Canada, as trappers and governments across the country recognize that traditional trapping methods are no longer acceptable to the consumer.
The Yukon government has been actively involved with the Fur Institute of Canada for a number of years. This organization, along with others, such as Indigenous Survival International, has been a strong international lobbyist on behalf of the fur industry in this country.
The fur industry has also been instrumental in encouraging Canadian jurisdictions to adopt more humane trapping standards in order to counteract the hysterical propaganda of the anti-fur activists.
Officials of the Yukon Department of Renewable Resources have been active in efforts to establish a set of internationally accepted standards for humane trap technology. The adoption of such standards by the International Standards Organization, and the use in Canada of traps that meet such standards, would ensure our continued access to the important European markets.
These developments in the industry should do much to reassure consumers, who have been assaulted by anti-fur advertising.
In my view, the development by trappers of a national accreditation program and a code of practice would further enhance the public image of the industry.
Improved education and communication strategies are still needed to get our message across. The annual Dawson Fur Show, sponsored by the Dawson chapter of the Yukon Trappers Association, held during Yukons Trapping Awareness Week, is an excellent example of what can be, and is being done to better inform local residents of the ways and means of trapping and its benefit to our society. To advance our cause, more can be done in our public school system through such programs as Project Wild and wilderness education courses.
More importantly, however, is the need to reach the potential consumers of wild fur living in cities throughout the industrial world. This can be achieved by focusing on the close relationship between the wild fur industry and a healthy environment. With all the attention and concern for the environment and conservation demonstrated by governments, by businesses offering environmentally friendly goods and services, and by individuals participating in activist groups, we have an excellent opportunity now to promote the wild fur trade as an excellent example of an environmentally sound activity.
In the Yukon, 14 wildlife species are harvested for their fur, and none are endangered or threatened. Trapping is totally in keeping with the principles of sustainable use management of natural resources.
From an environmental point of view, convincing arguments can be made that the use of natural fur for making garments is much preferable to the use of synthetic materials, which are manufactured from non-renewable resources, such as oil and chemicals, which contribute to pollution of our environment. This environmental message can also emphasize the beneficial role the trapper plays, while in the bush, by observing changes in the health of fur species and wildlife habitat. The trappers in the bush who can report such problems when they are encountered can prevent further deterioration.
In short, trapping is good for the environment and is consistent with good environmental management. These are the points that need to be made at every opportunity.
The development of educational programs highlighting this theme and ways to communicate it is a priority of a national committee recently formed to prepare a comprehensive strategy for the promotion of the Canadian fur industry. Our Yukon representative will be making a significant contribution to the work of this committee in developing a clear message that the fur industry is of vital social, economic, cultural and environmental importance to the north.
The role politicians can play is an important one. In addition to providing human and fiscal resources for our governments to implement the above-mentioned programs and strategies, we can demonstrate our moral support in a personal way by wearing more fur harvested from the Canadian wild.
In conclusion, I would like to express my unequivocal support for this motion. As Minister of Renewable Resources, I appreciate the contribution trappers make to the Yukon and to our way of life, economy and environment. I believe that Yukon trappers deserve recognition for their dedication to the wise use of our wildlife resources. I encourage all Members to support this motion.
Mr. Phillips: I am pleased to rise in support of the motion that has been put forward by the Member for Tatchun. A lot has happened in the trapping industry over the past five to six years.
Some Hon. Member: They love you, Doug.
Mr. Phillips: It appears that I will have to take a brief pause in my speech for the applause that I anticipate will be coming from the other side. This is a brief pause - applause, applause.
Thank you very much. I appreciate the overwhelming support from the Members opposite.
The anti-trappers have had a profound effect on the trapping industry over the past few years. For the most part they have been successful in severely damaging the industry. Their tactics are extreme, to say the least, but they are effective. They paint people in the trapping industry as cold-blooded killers of wildlife, and nothing could be further from the truth.
Every single trapper I know is concerned about the environment and about the effects that he or she may be having on the environment. In many cases, the trappers become the watchdog of that environment. They are the first ones to notice the changes in wildlife habits, and they manage their traplines accordingly. They know that, if they overexhaust or overharvest the furbearers in their area, there will be no future for them because, in many cases, this is their lifestyle, and it is the only lifestyle that many trappers know.
Many of these trappers rely on trapping for almost all their income, and to lose that would be like any other Canadian, or every other person who has a job, losing their only way of life. Trappers are concerned about the environment, because they have more to lose than anyone else. It is time that we made others aware that the trappers are the real stewards of the environment.
We have made many advances in the past, such as developing quick-kill traps, and we are doing a great deal to support Yukon trappers and trappers in general. The government has a program of trap exchange, but we should not stop there. Trappers have to be educated and instructed in the safe use of these quick-kill traps, and I would like to see a larger commitment from this government in the training of instructors to help the native and non-native trappers better understand the safe use of these traps. As we know, the new quick-kill traps are extremely dangerous and, as others have said here today, a trapper can get into a lot of trouble in the bush if one of these traps malfunctions, or the trapper does not know how to use it properly.
I believe that it is time to turn up the accurate information available to the public on what trapping is all about.
It is important to stress the wise use of our renewable resources, specifically in trapping. We could do a lot more nationally - we talk quite a lot about carrying on international programs and fighting the anti-trapping lobby in Europe - but we can do a great deal more at home. A lot of the Canadian public and Canadian schoolchildren believe trapping is a bad way of life. We could possibly do a lot more with the Canadian Trapping Awareness Week, the same as we have a Trapping Awareness Week in the Yukon. This could go a long way toward making people better understand the life of a trapper and the wise use of our wildlife.
We are fighting a huge and well organized anti-trapping lobby and we must not let up now. The poor fur market has forced many fur farms into bankruptcy, as the Minister has said, and in fact it has allowed some of the prices to rebound in the last few months. The bush trapper has survived tough times before, and I believe he will survive these tough times now, but he or she will need our support in the future. I encourage all Members of this House to strongly support this motion.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Now that spring has arrived in the Yukon - and it will continue to arrive as long as we are sitting here; I was going to say it has fully arrived - many people are thinking of doing springlike things such as gardening, hiking, cycling, canoeing and fishing, as the Member for Whitehorse North Centre points out, and tractor driving, for the Member for Riverdale South - and also, leadership conventions, which the Member for Riverdale North points out is on his agenda; it is interesting to see him declare it in this way.
Mr. Phillips: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I want it on the record that I have not declared my candidacy.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: He doth protest too much, but he has created a first in the House by declaring, in one breath and in less than a minute, his withdrawal from the leadership race. That is taking Progressive Conservatism to its ultimate extreme.
I was actually planning to talk about trapping. We are enjoying the coming of spring and it gives a chance for people to get outside and enjoy the beauty, the natural resources and the wilderness of the Yukon. It has been pointed to me by my executive assistant that this is the time people put away their winter parkas and furs in storage until next winter. Of course, for trappers spring also marks the winding down of their winter season. The trapping season, as Mr. Speaker knows better than most Members here, has closed and beaver and muskrat seasons are open for a few more weeks, except north of the Arctic Circle where muskrat season runs until Mid June. The closing of the season does not mean the end of the work as many trappers are now planning and preparing for the fall season. Unlike those who can walk away from a job at the end of the season, many trappers choose to live on their traplines and to monitor their areas in order to ensure a continued harvest of furs. Trapping is, after all, a way of life - not merely a source of income.
This is not to suggest that the monetary return on trapping is not relevant to those who live and work on the trapline. Indeed, the economic value of trapping for the individual and for the territory cannot be ignored.
It has been mentioned that there are more than 700 people in the territory trapping. These people contribute an average of $1 million to our economy each year. The estimates of the spinoffs from the fur industry are two or three times that amount. In many small communities trapping provides the main source of income at a time when seasonal unemployment is high.
More important, trappers are part of the non-wage or subsistent economy. They live on the land and consequently make, I think, far fewer claims on public resources than many other groups. I think they make far fewer claims than people who live in municipalities around the territory. For this reason, I am sure that trappers are, in economic terms, net contributors to the economy and to society.
As the Member for Tatchun said in his speech, the value and importance of trapping as a way of life, not merely as an occupation or as a hobby, is most noticeable among Yukon First Nations. In the Yukon, over 60 percent of the licensed trappers are of First Nations ancestry.
For aboriginal Yukoners, trapping has very strong cultural traditions that existed long before the arrival of the majority of settlers to our area. Indeed, subsistence use of resources is the heart of Yukon aboriginal cultures and is fundamental to the spiritual well-being of all Yukon First Nations.
Subsistence use of wildlife and the natural environment is important, not only to aboriginal people, but also to a wide and diverse range of Yukoners. As it has been mentioned by a number of speakers previously, including the Minister of Renewable Resources, my colleague the Member for Klondike, Trapping Awareness Week is one way in which we recognize the contribution that trappers make to their communities, to the Yukon economy and to the environment. Yukon trappers have a strong commitment to responsible trapline management because their livelihood depends on it. Planning for the future through wise management of harvest today is fundamental to trapping. This is not to suggest that trappers sit down with a pencil and paper or even with a laptop computer to decide the number of animals they will harvest. It recognizes instead the knowledge and skill that trappers possess and which they have possessed for time immemorial.
Most trappers keep very careful records of numbers and locations of fur-bearers and other animals in their trapping areas, and they use these estimates to set harvest levels, making certain that enough animals are left to maintain the population for coming years.
The careful observation of animal populations, not just fur-bearers, is key to trapline management. Trappers follow a number of basic principles in doing this work. For example, areas of refuge are not trapped for several years to allow populations to build up. Careful attention is paid by trappers to the age and sex of animals in the trapping area. It has been said by a number of speakers, including the much-loved and well-thought of gentleman from Kluane, that we need to promote public awareness about trapping and the fur industry, and the role trapping plays in the economic and social value system of the Yukon. As the blushing Member for Kluane said, we do need to educate those who lobby actively against the wearing of furs and who take extreme and violent objection to an activity that has continued for many hundreds of years.
We have to admit that we are an easy target for the anti-fur lobby, because of the size of our industry and the size of our population. The anti-fur lobby fails to see that, in the heartfelt and sincere desire to protect the lives of animals, they have targeted trappers for extinction and, indeed, targeted a traditional way of life for extinction, the consequences of which are incalculable.
The Member for Klondike made a very important point when he noted that the Hudsons Bay Company was founded for the purpose of trapping beaver and other furs in western and northern Canada in about 1670 by royal charter. I think it was Prince William who got a group of his friends together in London, and decided they should get this personal game preserve, which was most of western and northern Canada, and exploit the furs there. This company went on to become the oldest continuing corporation not only in this country, but probably in the world.
It is a great irony for those of us who live in an area like this that a company, which is now a fabulously huge one with all kinds of assets in all sorts of industries - a widely diversified, highly integrated company with interests in the media, resources, manufacturing and retailing, all sorts of things - originally started off as a company founded on the backs of trappers and furs that came from this part of the country. It is a great irony that after living - we say this to our British friends - for hundreds of years and having many fortunes established over those hundreds of years from this industry, from the furbearers and from the trappers, those same people should now want to get out of that business. Also, some of those people are in Parliaments, like the British Parliament, saying to people, no, no that is a very bad thing and we should not be doing this anymore, and saying that we should not even buy these furs anymore. There are people in this part of the world that would find that action unfortunate. Some people would even describe it as hypocritical, given the history of European involvement in the fur industry in this part of the world.
I want to say in my closing comments that trapping has been, and will continue to be, a very important aspect of life in Yukon. It is part of the character, economy and social fabric of the territory and it is not an exaggeration to say that it is an essential part of the culture of the territory. I think that without it the Yukon mosaic would be missing a very valuable piece.
This week, the Legislature will be entertaining and receiving visitors from a number of European parliaments. They are coming here with some Members of Parliament from our country to visit the Yukon and we will be entertaining them later this week. I think it is an opportunity for us to express very strongly some of the views that have been expressed today on this question on both sides of the House.
This is an influential group. I do not personally know any of the members who are coming, but I hope we will have an opportunity to meet them. I assume, since it is sponsored by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association - that well known, non-partisan, or is it multi-partisan, organization - that they are people who are representing all shades of political opinion in Europe.
It will be a special opportunity for us to bend their ear on this question, and I hope they will have a chance, while here, to meet people such as yourself, Mr. Speaker, who can tell them, in very real and concrete terms, what trapping is all about and what the life of a trapper is all about.
With that observation, I will conclude my remarks.
Mr. Nordling: I am at a loss for words. The Government Leader seems to have gotten hold of my speech and presented it for me. I will be satisfied this afternoon simply to endorse his remarks and say that I, too, am in support of this motion.
Mr. Lang: I commend the Member for Porter Creek West for such a well-thought-out address. It is nice to see that Members on both sides of the floor are going hand-in-hand into the future.
I would like to register a couple of observations that I think are important, as far as the trapping industry is concerned. These are directed primarily to the Minister of Renewable Resources.
Firstly, and I make this observation in all sincerity; the anti-fur lobby, or those who are opposed to the harvesting of fur are, primarily, people who are also against and opposed to the harvesting of wildlife in general. They have chosen to key into an area of the economy from which a small segment of the population derives a living. Subsequently, with the narrow focus they can project into that area, in some cases, they have been able to successfully shut down the fur industry. I speak, in part, of what has been experienced in the State of Alaska with the seal hunting that has basically come to a halt, and that of the Northwest Territories and Newfoundland. We are talking native and non-native hunters.
I think the sad part about it, as has been mentioned here, is that some very innocent people have been hurt very badly by the fact that not only their way of life, as described by some Members, but also their way of making a living has been taken from them through actions of others, which actions they cannot comprehend. As we know, in many of our northern communities, especially in the Northwest Territories and the State of Alaska, in some degree, this has contributed to the social problems there, in view of the fact that, at least in part, a way of life has been taken and, subsequently, their lifestyle has been altered dramatically.
I have a couple of areas of concern. I was informed this morning of the efforts that Canada is making, in conjunction with a number of partly publicly funded organizations, to take, to the European community, our message about the effects of the anti-fur movement and how we are successfully competing to get the necessary media to get our story to those who are obviously a captive audience in the European forum.
I know there was money allocated through this House to some of these organizations to help offset their costs, but the statement was made this morning that these organizations have not been that successful. In fact, there is some question in some of the trappers minds whether or not the money was wisely spent in the various media and what it accomplished. I think that should be of concern to not only us here but in Parliament as well. Maybe the Department of Renewable Resources should review how the money was allocated toward that public relations campaign. We are not talking about just thousands of dollars. I understand there was over a million dollars a year given by the Government of Canada, on a five-year agreement, plus our contributions and, I may stand corrected, other provincial jurisdictions - maybe the Northwest Territories put money toward these efforts.
I think it is an area that we have to continue to pursue, but I think we had better evaluate how we spent our money and if it is not being spent wisely, then maybe there are other ways of getting our message to those particular areas that have affected us.
Comments have been made in the House that in some cases weather is a major contributing factor of whether or not people do buy furs, and I would assume that is correct. On the other hand, I do feel, as time goes on, that if we do not maintain some sort of presence and public relations in respect to getting the message out about what trapping does mean and how it affects the harvesting of our wildlife and the way we are doing it, I think in the long run, we could conceivably lose a basic way of life for many individuals.
The other point I want to make is that the Trappers Association is looking at the major problems surrounding individual trappers understanding the new trapping methods. The Member for Kluane raised that as an issue. A trapper today has to be able to deal with these new traps. I understand that this is supposed to be law by 1992.
It would seem to me that perhaps the development agreement might be the ideal agency that could help to finance the Trappers Association obtaining certified instructors to work with the trappers to ensure they have the ability to operate these new types of traps safely. There are two points of view, obviously. One is that the government is bringing in the law and therefore have a responsibility. The second is that the safety of the individual trapper should be paramount in our minds, as well as the effectiveness of the trap.
These two issues are the ones I feel should be expressed. Firstly, there is the issue of the public relations side of trapping and how it affects the European community. Secondly, there is the question of training our people locally so that they can meet the demands placed on them by the Department of Renewable Resources and outside interests so that they can carry on the lifestyle we spoke about. I do not see it as a major expenditure. I see it as a short-term training expenditure. Obviously, once the trappers have learned how to use the new trapping techniques, they will be passing it on to those they will be working with. At that point, it will be similar to the way trapping techniques were learned in the past.
I will end now with those comments. I want to say that we support the Member for Tatchun.
Speaker: The Hon. Member will now close debate if he now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Mr. Joe: Trapping in the Yukon has always been an important industry. We must give thanks to the animals and to the trappers who have worked so hard. We must not turn our backs on it. We must give our solid support.
Motion No. 39 agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Deputy Chair: I call the Committee to order.
Does the Committee agree to recess until 7:30 p.m.?
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Deputy Chair: I will declare a recess until 7:30 p.m.
Bill No. 20 - Environment Act -continued
Deputy Chair: I will call Committee of the Whole to order.
This evening we will be hearing from the remaining witnesses with respect to the Environment Act. The first witness to be heard this evening is Mr. Michael Brandt. I would ask the House to join me in welcoming Mr. Brandt. Are you representing a particular group, Mr. Brandt?
Mr. Brandt: I come to you tonight representing the Yukon Chamber of Commerce. Good evening, and thank you, Mr. Chairman and Mr. Minister, for the opportunity to provide input regarding the Environment Act. My name is Michael Brandt and I am representing the Yukon Chamber of Commerce this evening.
The Yukon Chamber of Commerces original position paper on the Environment Act is still very valid today. Our recommendations are:
1. Legitimize the role of development within the Environment Act.
2. The tone of the act should be positive and supportive, and clear in order to provide certainty and stability to business.
3. An economic impact study should be done to quantify the relationship between the economy and the environment.
4. There should be ongoing consultation with stakeholders.
5. It should provide specific definitions and processes.
This is not a debate for or against the environment. It is a legislative debate that deals with the substance of the act and the process of implementing it. The Environment Act became an emotional issue because the act was subject to public review as a rough draft and with limited time for consultation on the actual version which would be tabled as legislation.
Numerous stakeholders who will be affected by the legislation have raised many concerns regarding the act. The public consultative process provided a forum to hear these concerns - sometimes harsh and critical, but valuable public input nonetheless.
Throughout this process we have to remember that it is not who is right, but what is right that counts.
In all fairness to the process, there have been many changes made to the original draft. The current version of the Environment Act legitimizes the input provided by the various stakeholders and interest groups. Yes, there has been a public consultative process and, yes, many concerns and recommendations have been heard. But in the final analysis the responsibility rests with the government as to the extent that input is incorporated into actual legislation.
However, there are still several major concerns that must be addressed if the stakeholders are to have a sense of ownership of the act. Public support for the Environment Act should not be construed as an endorsement for the content of the legislation.
A petition with some 1,647 names, of which I, personally, am one, must be recognized as significant public interest and genuine public concern for this legislation. The petition represents hundreds of volunteer hours and sends a simple message: 1,647 have not yet bought into the Environment Act.
Sixteen hundred and forty-seven people thought that more time is required to develop an environment act that is in keeping with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom Act and that strikes a proper balance between environmental protection and economic development.
The concern is not for the need for an act; rather, the concern is for what the act says and does not say.
The Yukon Chamber of Commerce would like to summarize our concerns, our comments and our recommendations with the following four points.
First, make the act clear. Make it say what it means and mean what it says. Make it readable so that individuals, small business and large business alike can interpret with certainty what it means and how it affects them. If the act is not clear, it is like asking the courts to administer the act, and the only direction to the courts is to be harsh in sentencing.
The second recommendation is to make the Yukon territorial government fully accountable under the act. The Yukon territorial government should lead by example and not be exempt from any of the terms of the Environment Act.
Third, development activity should be defined and supported within the act to reflect the objective of promoting sustainable development in the Yukon. In particular, the development assessment process and permitting process should be clearly outlined in legislation.
Fourth, formalize ongoing consultation with the various stakeholders within the act. As the regulations and processes are developed to support the act, stakeholders must be involved.
Regardless of the clause, if there is a difference in interpretation between the government and various stakeholders, we have a problem. We have no certainty. Now is the time - and public consultation is the forum - to work together to avoid these problems.
For example, key words like impair, development, activity and private property are not yet defined. Processes such as the development assessment process and public hearings are not defined. The definition of spill is still too broad and subject to varied interpretation.
Though the act says it is binding upon the Government of Yukon except where the act provides otherwise, the definition of person seems not to include the government and, therefore, would exempt the government from prosecutions, investigations and penalties. The principle here is that the Environment Act should be applied equally to all people. As it stands now, the Environment Act can still be superseded by the land claims agreement or self-governing agreements, which could create a two-tiered environment act. The government, which has such a major influence in all economic matters throughout the Yukon, should lead the example and be fully accountable for its actions under the Environment Act.
The government and its staff should be subject to the same liability and processes as the rest of industry. This would also provide an incentive to government to keep the processes and administrative requirements working.
Ministerial power and discretion are broad terms, particularly in the absence of regulations. In particular, with respect to development plans and enforcement the Minister has been given tremendous discretionary power.
In the absence of a sustainable development act or a complementary economic development act to the Environment Act, we are concerned that most development as set out in part 5 will get strangled by conflicting resource management plans. The development assessment process has not yet been defined, which does not provide any certainty for future development.
There is little contained in the act that speaks to an objective and a principle as contained in section 5 of the act. The objective to promote sustainable development in the Yukon and the principle that economic development and the health of the natural environment are interdependent requires bolstering throughout the Environment Act. Definitions for development and activity are required. The assessment process has yet to be developed, and there is no commitment on a pro-active approach to development.
Just as a recession is largely psychological, so too is the mood for future development in the territory. The Yukon Chamber of Commerce recommends that the government be pro-active in the legislation and in its regulations and programs to create a sense of confidence in the long-term development plans of the Yukon.
In summary, the Yukon Chamber of Commerce remains committed to working with the Government of the Yukon to develop an environment act that protects our environment while preserving the industries that drive our economy. With a true sustainable-development approach the economy and the environment will be complementary in the long-term success for all Yukoners.
I hope I kept that under five minutes.
Deputy Chair: Thank you, Mr. Brandt.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I want to thank Mr. Brandt for his presentation today and for all the good conversations we have had in the last month on this very important Bill No. 20.
Mr. Brandt made a statement suggesting that this act in some way violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Could he point out the section of this act which violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?
Mr. Brandt: I refer to the petition and what their concerns were. I am not here to debate the actual terms that may or may not violate the Charter.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Does Mr. Brandt know if the people who signed the petition are actually accurate in their statement?
Mr. Brandt: I am sure they have done their homework. The point is that there are a number of people who feel that they still have concerns with it.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I would like to turn to the statement that Mr. Brandt made with respect to promotion of sustainable development. Mr. Brandt stated he felt strongly that this act does not go far enough in promoting sustainable development.
Is Mr. Brandt aware of any other piece of environmental legislation in this country where the words sustainable development appear?
Mr. Brandt: No, I am not.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Could Mr. Brandt offer any suggestions as to where we could entrench that concept more fully in this act, considering that section 30, the rule-making section, will give all stakeholders and all interest groups - indeed, all the public in the Yukon - a say in the drafting of regulations, which will affect industry?
Mr. Brandt: In all fairness, it is the Environment Act. In section 5, where the development plans are laid out, there is an opportunity for the government to put programs in place to be pro-active on the side of development, to legitimize the role of development and to provide some kind of commitment and assurance that development will not be hampered by this environmental legislation - that the two will continue to work together. This is why a lot of people would like to see a sustainable development act, but in terms of an Environment Act, to emphasize that development still has a very legitimate role.
Mr. Lang: I would like to thank the witness for appearing. This is a pretty specific brief we have here. I have an observation for the Minister, who keeps referring to section 30, the public review process for the regulations. He is almost giving the impression to the public that the Cabinet meetings are going to be televised and made open to the public when the actual decisions are made. For the record, it should be noted that final decisions are made behind closed doors. That is a concern we have on this side, which I think is a concern to anybody appearing with respect to this bill.
In view of the fact that the witness received the legislation late last week, at the time it was tabled, does he feel there has been adequate time for him and the executive of the Chamber of Commerce to go through this bill, clause by clause?
Mr. Brandt: The simple answer to that would be no.
Mr. Lang: The witness specifically mentioned the concern that all parliamentarians have that the development assessment process and the permitting process are mentioned in the act, but the specifics are not laid out - similar to the Assessment and Taxation Act or the Municipal Act, or any of the other pieces of legislation passed in this House - of how one applies for a permit, how one receives one, how one intervenes and all those things that are necessary for a public regulatory procedure.
The witness has indicated that he feels this should be in the body of the legislation. Is the reason because it would provide certainty to all those involved, whether it be communities, businesses, intervenors, or those who have a vested interest, so they can intervene in the process?
Mr. Brandt: Yes. Certainty is a very big issue. Regardless of how tough, regardless of how fair, regardless of the hoops, the processes, regardless of what the permits and the licences are, when they are spelled out it gives industry a chance to plan for and work within those parameters. That is one of the things that we are saying here. It is not to be critical, but we would like all of these questions and concerns spelled out. Just address them one after the other.
Throughout this consultative process, there has been a lot of valuable input provided. I think that if enough time is provided for that process, ultimately all of those questions, requests and concerns will be addressed and we will end up with a piece of legislation that everyone can buy into.
Mr. Lang: I think it is fairly evident from all the witnesses, including this witness, that most people favour an Environment Act. It is just a question of how it is written and how the guidelines are put into it so people can clearly understand it.
I would like to refer to the environmental rights section of the bill, which is very loosely written from my perspective, where one can go to court and perhaps stop a development or intervene in the middle of a development. My question to the witness is, once a permit has been given for the development of a mine or something, and if the individual or company that has been given that permit is meeting all the requirements laid down in the guidelines, does the witness feel that the rights given under this section should still be in place where, if one feels there are environmental violations, they could still proceed through this process by either petitioning the Minister or going to court?
Mr. Brandt: I can see that there always has to be the avenue for appeal on both sides, but that is where the responsibility rests with the government for providing a permit. We talk again about certainty. Once you have a permit and there are plans based on it, you need to have a certainty to carry on. If it means that some modifications have to be made to the plans, that may well be, but you cannot go into anything with the assumption that a permit may or may not be permanent.
We do not like to deal with all the what ifs and the down-side scenarios and the worst-case scenarios, but that is life. There are going to be people who interpret the act in one extreme or the other. That is why planning ahead is important, so that it is so tight that these problems can be avoided.
Hon. Mr. Webster: On the same subject, Mr. Chairman, is the witness aware that there it is a defence under this act to be operating under the terms and conditions of a permit? It is a defence under a charge of an alleged infraction of this act to be operating within the conditions and standards of a permit.
Mr. Brandt: That is a defence?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Yes. Are you aware of that?
Mr. Brandt: That sounds reasonable.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Would you say that would provide certainty to the industry to continue operating within the terms of its permit?
Mr. Brandt: Well, it may be a defence, but does it mean that those who still question and challenge it cannot pursue it any further? Is having a permit the ultimate defence? That is my question.
Hon. Mr. Webster: According to the act in this section, yes it is. It is a defence against an action by an individual.
Mr. Brandt: Is it the ultimate defence?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The ultimate defence is written right here in the act. That does constitute a defence against an action.
Mr. Lang: It is obvious, even in common law, even the Minister did not find time to write it in, that that would be the defence. The question is, under the process here, they still have the right to proceed through the system.
I want to go on to another area that I think is of major importance to us all here in the Yukon and that is the enforcement and fine section regarding the personal liability of corporate and municipal administrators under this act. There are very significant liabilities attached to this legislation. Do you feel that particular area of the legislation should be revised and made more clear, or should it be struck? I would be interested to hear any comments that the witness may have in that area.
Mr. Brandt: Personal liability is a part of the reality of everyday business life today, but the terms surrounding that liability have to be very clear. The issue of due diligence and what constitutes a defence have to be very clear; I understand some of the other witnesses have made some presentations on that issue, so I do not want to belabour it.
Deputy Chair: We have one and one-half minutes left for questions to Mr. Brandt.
Mr. Lang: Just as an observation to the witness: one section of the Environment Act gives the government the right under regulation to, for example, put in regulations governing the forest industry. I am curious as to the Chamber of Commerces point of view on whether or not it feels a forestry act should be brought into this House covering forestry and the principles that should be embodied in such an act, or should it be done by regulations through an act of this kind?
Mr. Brandt: In all fairness, we have not addressed that point specifically, so I think I would be a little out of my league to address it. Sorry.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I would like to ask the witness if he is aware that the development assessment process will be a separate piece of legislation?
Mr. Brandt: I am not aware that it would be a separate piece of legislation. I do not understand why it would not be part of this existing legislation.
Hon. Mr. Webster: The development assessment process will be a piece of legislation that will be established through the land claims process involving the Council for Yukon Indians, the federal government and the Government of Yukon. It will not be developed in regulations under this act, but it is a very important part of the Environment Act overall in that it is a very integral part of this very comprehensive piece of legislation - everything from definitions to fines to pesticides, and the development assessment process is another one. Each could be a separate act, but they will all be rolled into this one omnibus Environment Act. I think a lot of people who have made presentations here are not aware that the development assessment process in itself will be a separate piece of legislation that will eventually be rolled into this act.
Mr. Brandt: We need a development assessment process that is already spelled out now to tide us over until that great omnibus piece of legislation comes into place. I do not think we want to wait for an important part of the Environment Act like that to come into play. We would want to see that as soon as possible, to spell out the role of development in the Yukon.
Deputy Chair: Thank you, Mr. Brandt.
Deputy Chair: Our next witness is Judy Dabbs. Welcome, Ms. Dabbs. Do you represent a group?
Ms. Dabbs: Yes, I represent the Recycling Centre of the Yukon Conservation Society.
Deputy Chair: Do you have a prepared statement?
Ms. Dabbs: Yes, I do.
Thank you for the opportunity to make a submission to you on behalf of the Recycling Centre of the Yukon Conservation Society. My presentation will be as follows: there will be a brief overview of my personal interest, followed by a discussion of the general issues raised by the Yukon Environment Act, concluding with more specific coverage of the Recycling Centres position with respect to the act.
Personally, I began to feel more and more pressure to make some sort of a contribution toward the resolution of the immense environmental problems that were being discussed almost daily by all forms of media. Having young children, and my concern for the future that might await them, further mobilized me to take action.
I realized very quickly that the larger, global issues - such things as ozone holes, the inequity between developed and developing nations, and desertification - were much more than I could tackle.
Consequently, in 1988 I started closer to home with an issue that had disturbed me for some time: the sewage treatment and disposal for the City of Whitehorse. Out of that concern came an awareness of other problems, such as the oil pit at the local landfill site. A group involving all levels of government, business, non-government organizations and interested individuals looked at the possibility of recycling oil.
We found that this was a very complicated process and it was decided to start on a simpler scale. Out of this initial effort came the Recycling Centre. This collaboration has been one of the most exciting parts of trying to establish recycling in the Yukon. In general, our local efforts are starting to bear fruit but the overwhelming global issues are unchanged. It becomes more and more apparent to me that governments, as well as individuals, must make decisions that consider the wider implications of our actions. This will mean making some potentially difficult decisions with respect to our lifestyle choices. These choices require good information and education. As we know, education is a long process and if you agree with the scientists we do not have a lot of time left to alter the potentially devastating effects being predicted.
The Yukon Environment Act begins in the Yukon what needs to be done on an even wider scale. From the point of view of the Recycling Centre, the Environment Act will make it possible for us to continue our fledgling efforts. To date we have been operating on short-term, piecemeal funding from several different sources. Presently we have confirmed funding for only one more year.
Our aluminum can return is an example of the effect that legislation would have on our activities. When we first opened our centre we were offering a refund for each can. The refund was provided by the Recycling Centre and the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce as an incentive for recycling aluminum cans. Since there has never been a deposit paid on the cans, the cost became prohibitive and the refund was discontinued in December, 1990. When the refund was in place we were receiving approximately 26,000 cans per week. Since the refund was stopped, the refund rate for cans has dropped to approximately 8,000 cans per week. In jurisdictions where container legislation exists the return rate is very much higher. If the legislation is structured in the way suggested in the Environment Act, there would be on-going funding for the Recycling Centre.
Of particular importance is the support for waste reduction, reuse and consumer choice programs described in sections 106, 107 and 108. The Recycling Centre announced yesterday that it will be taking household glass beginning this Saturday. This summer a pilot project will be carried out using glassphalt on a portion of the Alaska Highway. Glassphalt is the use of glass in a measured amount as a substitute for sand and asphalt.
Our fine paper recycling will be open to the general public and private sector businesses on July 2. In addition, through the assistance of a local business, the possibility of recycling food tins, newsprint and plastic is much more likely.
According to information from the City of Whitehorse a little over 6000 tons of garbage go to our landfill annually. When our expanded program is in place, we will be able to divert at least 1000 tons of previously wasted resources from this waste stream; this is exclusive of newsprint.
There are obvious local benefits from recycling activities. These include the reduction of resources going to the landfill site with the potential for extending landfill life and the decrease in litter. In addition, we are providing six jobs, with a potential for at least two more.
There are also less tangible effects that accrue elsewhere. The energy savings of 95 percent for the remanufacture for aluminum out of old aluminum cans is such an example.
It has been our experience that efforts such as the Recycling Centres do not have to be in conflict with the initiatives of the private sector; quite the contrary. The business community has supported us extensively and continues to do so. We are also helping to create opportunities for local business, as evidenced by the glasphalt project, in providing material for backhaul, which may help defray some of the costs of commodities coming into the Yukon. Without ongoing funding assisted by the legislation provided by the Environment Act, the Recycling Centre will not be able to continue to operate and expand to provide the comprehensive territorial recycling programs so needed by the Yukon.
In closing, we all need guidelines for our behaviour. These help us determine what is appropriate and what is not. The Yukon Environment Act is just such a guideline, entrenched in law. The Environment Act is needed to protect us from such things as the inappropriate disposal of hazardous waste, which most recently appears to have happened with the toxins contaminating the Lake Laberge fish.
The Yukon needs this legislation and needs it now. The Recycling Centre supports the principles embodied in the Yukon Environment Act. In our experience, the collaboration between all of the groups involved in the Recycling Centres activities bodes well for the ability of people from diverse backgrounds to come together on an issue viewed as of common importance.
We gladly accept the governments invitation to participate in the ongoing discussions and regulation setting.
Thank you for allowing us to make this presentation.
Mr. Nordling: The witness has expressed concerns about three issues that I mentioned in second reading. They are: the sewage that is going into the Yukon River from the City of Whitehorse; the waste oil that ends up at the dump and a storage site for hazardous waste. Perhaps the Minister could assist this witness by telling her how and where in this particular act those things will be taken care of. How will this act, the way it is written, stop the sewage, plug the hole and find a site, and explain to the witness why this cannot be done without this act being passed in the form it is in.
Hon. Mr. Webster: It looks like this process is taking a different twist, but to answer the Members question, the witness suggested the answer herself when she cited the reasons for an Environment Act: it is so that these problems or ones similar to these do not arise in the future.
Mr. Nordling: One more question. I do not want to take time away from the witness. Cannot these problems be taken care of by the government without this act? Are we not looking for a storage site for hazardous waste? Are we not contributing money already for the City of Whitehorse? Are these things illegal until this act is passed?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I do not want to take time from the witness. Clearly, there are problems here that are affecting the environment that have been cited already. There are programs in place, such as the Arctic Environmental Strategy, where monies have been devoted to monitor the quality of the water of the river and clean up abandoned sites such as we have in the Marwell area. This piece of legislation that is before us now will prevent the recurrence of similar situations in the future.
Mr. Lang: I would like to start by saying we really appreciate the work that you and your people are involved with at the Recycling Centre, both the initiative and the ongoing work.
I would like to ask a number of questions with respect to the surcharge. Ms. Dabbs is indicating she needs this section in place in order to be able to continue to operate. Is it Ms. Dabbss intention to have a surcharge large enough that it cover the cost of their operation? If so, what are we looking at as a charge? Does Ms. Dabbs have any idea what this amount would be per can?
Ms. Dabbs: Container legislation is certainly one part of what needs to be done. There are other ways of assisting the Recycling Centres activities.
With the container legislation, as is being done in New Brunswick and other places, a set amount is charged. Then, a portion of that is refunded and the other portion is retained for the activities of recycling, reducing or reusing.
Mr. Lang: That is the matter that I wish to pursue with the witness. I must make it clear that we support that concept.
Would the witness like to see the surcharge large enough or great enough so that it would cover their costs totally, so they would not be required to come to the government for further assistance and grants and all those things that require paperwork, time and all the things that go along with it?
Ms. Dabbs: Our position is that we would like to have enough funding to cover our activities at this point so that we do not have to keep coming back looking for more money. It would be ideal if the commodities that we are recycling gained a market value, so that when we sell them they will help to defray some of our costs. At present, as you are probably aware, we are at the mercy of the market. Recycled materials do not have a high value. They tend to fluctuate in the commodities market and we are guaranteed prices for very little time.
Mr. Lang: Perhaps I am not making myself clear. Presently we charge, I believe, $1.25 for 12 beer, as a refund.
Ms. Dabbs: It is ten cents per bottle.
Mr. Lang: That is right. It is ten cents per bottle.
Would your organization be putting a surcharge of five cents a can? When I buy a can of pop would I pay an extra nickel and then get a portion of that refunded if I bring the can back down to the Recycling Centre?
Ms. Dabbs: That is the container legislation that we would like to see in place. We hope to be able to take part in the regulation setting that would deal with some of those issues.
That would certainly cover the costs of recycling containers. There are a lot of other commodities that are much more difficult to attach charges to, such as newsprint. Containers are simpler to deal with. There are other ways of dealing with commodities other than containers.
Mr. Lang: Does the witness organization in town have a relationship with communities outside of town? If so, could she expand further on that?
Ms. Dabbs: To date, the relationship is quite loose. We have been struggling ourselves to survive, and we have kept in contact with the communities. We have had people who, on their own time, have travelled and made contact with interested individuals in the communities. This September, we hope to have a workshop for representatives from the communities to come in and see what we are doing, and to try and structure something that would work for them, particularly with a backhaul to Whitehorse, and also discussing what methods might work best for them. To some extent, that has already started with Haines Junction.
Hon. Mr. Webster: It is obvious that the witness has a particular interest in waste reduction and recycling, and has obviously spent a lot of time working with the Recycling Centre Society. We appreciate the work she does.
Is the witness satisfied with the way this particular part of the act is written? Is it adequate, or is it inadequate in some way? Does it go far enough, or is it fine the way it is?
Ms. Dabbs: I am satisfied with it. I had some concerns with the previous discussion paper but, at this point, the fact that we have been invited to take part in the establishment of regulations means that we have that opportunity to address concerns that are specific to our interest.
One of the things that would be interesting is to establish the baselines, which are discussed in the act under the state of the environment. Some of that information would be extremely valuable to have. I know it is not all available in a concise form at this stage, but that baseline information is really crucial to planning and establishing whether or not we are successful in what we are trying to do.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Does the witness have any comments on the section devoted to banning products and packages?
Ms. Dabbs: I am glad it is there. It leaves us the opportunity to make those decisions. I would hope they are done with care and all the consultation that would be required.
Again, I am glad it is there. It allows us that flexibility, if it is determined that it is necessary. Some things have been established, such as the CFCs and those kinds of products. I think most of us agree, it is not appropriate to purchase them.
Mr. Lang: On the banning of products, I wonder if the witness would agree that there should perhaps be an appeal procedure for an individual or organization to appeal if they feel they have not been properly dealt with. There is nothing in the legislation to permit that. Does the witness have any comments?
Ms. Dabbs: I am trying to remember the specifics. There was a portion in there that allowed for discussion as to whether or not it was appropriate to ban that particular item. I personally feel that I like appeal processes; I believe there is a good place for them. It allows for total exploration of all the positions. I would not be averse to an appeal process for that.
Mr. Lang: I would like to go back further to the surcharge, which has some significant ramifications to those who provide the initial commodity, I would think. Has the witness or her organization had discussions on this with companies selling canned pop? Has the witness had discussions with them, and does she have an idea of how this would work? Perhaps the witness could elaborate?
Ms. Dabbs: We have had discussions with the two major beverage companies. I am not sure if they have made representation here or elsewhere, but their feeling is that they are concerned about the bootlegging aspect of containers coming into the territory. From our understanding, they would feel happier if the surcharge was placed at the retail level, because, in that way, every can coming into the territory would have been paid for. A deposit would have been paid. Again, I would like to see the container legislation in place in whatever method works best.
Deputy Chair: The witness has two minutes left.
Deputy Chair: The next witness is Mr. Hrynuik.
Mr. Hrynuik: Just to make things easier for the Members, if they want to refer to me during questions, they can just say Hey, Wayne. I do not mind.
Deputy Chair: Could you tell the House which group you represent?
Mr. Hrynuik: Yes, Mr. Chair, I am here on behalf of, not only myself, but also the Yukon Fish and Game Association.
Deputy Chair: Do you have a statement?
Mr. Hrynuik: Yes, I do.
Mr. Chairman, Hon. Members, on behalf of the Yukon Fish and Game Association, I would like to thank the Members of this Assembly for the opportunity to speak on this. It is probably one of the most important pieces of legislation in the history of the Yukon.
When I was asked last week to come forward and speak, much time was spent contemplating how to present a case in favour of the Environment Act. Since the beginning of public input, back in the spring of this year, I took time to read and review how such an act would affect me and Yukoners in general. What surprised me was the lack of input from more individuals and industry at that time.
What was even harder to understand was how organizations that should have been on the leading edge of this act sat back and waited until the last minute and the last public meeting in March to voice concerns that six months of input time was not long enough to read and review the proposed act.
In reading Bill No. 20, the concerns of those individuals and organizations that did put time into this bill have almost all been addressed. Hon. Members, in reading the discussion papers of this House, in what you call the Hansard, it is very obvious that all the Members here have a concern with our environment, the fish and wildlife that inhabit this corner of the world we call home.
In this room before me sit individuals who have very strong concerns for the well-being of the Yukon, but it is very unfortunate that a lot of these good ideas are not pooled together because of political practices and beliefs.
Political bickering has not only divided the House, but the community as well. We are dealing with the well-being of our home environment. The Council for Yukon Indians has a motto that we can all take to heart, Together Today for our Children Tomorrow.
No act or law will help the environment unless we, as Yukoners, put away some of our greed for the almighty dollar and dig into our hearts and use a little of the Yukon pride that we all possess.
Hon. Members, no bill brought forth by any government that I have ever seen is perfect. Probably the only law that comes close is the one that God laid down in the beginning of mans domination of these creatures of the earth and that was the Ten Commandments.
Hon. Members, I have repetitively heard from individuals that this act, with the influence from the outside, could bring Yukon economy to a grinding halt. The concerns of all Yukoners is how we can balance the economy and not depend solely on digging up the land to make a living.
I am very pleased to see that this bill recognizes wilderness as a resource. As an individual who makes his living from hosting customers from around the world, it has brought me to realize that the wilderness experience is becoming more and more in demand. We have all had the fortune to travel to different areas in North America and witness the effects of clear-cut logging and mining and heavy industry - scars that will probably remain until the end of time.
Hon. Members, it has been the taxpayers, not industry who have paid for the majority of the costs of rehabilitation to a livable standard. For an example, we can all learn a lesson from other areas of the country, where the economy of that particular area came to a grinding halt because of low metal prices and lumber prices. Through enhancement work by community and regional governments the economic prosperity was brought back to these same regions.
Hon. Members, here in the Yukon we have a natural resource that can quite easily help diversify the impact that we are feeling and help cut down on the dependency on industrial use of the lands and water. It is unfortunate that Tourism Yukon does not promote more of a fishing and wilderness adventure in the Yukon. I had the good fortune to be involved with a promotion a couple of years ago with a lodge here in the territory, and I was amazed how British Columbia and the Northwest Territories have diversified their economies by promoting their wilderness resource.
I realize that not all Yukoners could be employed in the wilderness tourism industry but, as one of the least detrimental industries on the environment, with monies being made available through the Canadian governments Green Plan, this government should be pushing contingency plans for the clean-up of the Yukon wilderness.
There are rough estimates made that the amount of garbage left in the wilds of Yukon from exploration could employ 3,000 Yukoners for the next five to seven years. This is ironic, since the life expectancy of most mining operations is less.
In conclusion, there is no one answer to this environmental problem we face. All we are saying is that those of us who support Bill No. 20 would like to see our environment protected, and the use of the wilderness resource to help diversify an economic base over a longer period of time, compared to the irreversible effects from short-term mining projects. Examples of these are Skukum and Ketza River which, incidentally, five years later, left many Yukoners wondering where the next mortgage payment would come from.
There are some concerns about the new bill that I would like to express. The first one is on page 9, section 9(2). It is kind of like a grandfather clause, stating that any damages to the environment up to 15 years was not in the original proposed act. Section 11(6) talks about an environmental enhancement fund. I would like some clarification, if this is not the same type of fund that is already in place and called the wildlife enhancement fund, set forth in the Wildlife Act.
On page 15, access to information, section 21 - I was under the impression that we had an open government. On page 18, sections 29 and 30 - I hope, with all the public concerns about regulation making, that the government will have more debates on regulations open to the public. Page 19, section 31 deals with education. I feel very strongly that this clause should read, The Minister shall..., not may, carry out sections (a), (b) and (c).
On page 26, environmental information, awareness and education, section 51(1)(a) and (b), and also section 53(1)(e) - it is a must that public environmental information be available to First Nations, as well. This might prevent incidents like the one that recently happened in the Faro area, with respect to killing the sheep on the lambing grounds. Education is the key to a better relationship between First Nations and the wildlife management problems we face today.
On pages 30 and 31, in section 58, the word may pops up, especially for subsection (e) and subsection (h). Our fish and wildlife are dependent upon good strong healthy habitat. I was especially concerned with reviewing the Environment Act and revisions to the Wildlife Act that there was not more protection of habitat. If there is to be more meat in the act, I hope it is found here.
Here again, Mr. Chairman and Hon. Members, I support Bill No. 20, but hope I have entered some insight into a long-overdue issue of the environment. By working together we will have a better tomorrow.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I would like to thank Mr. Hrynuik for his presentation. it is obvious that he feels very strongly about the Yukon environment and the need to protect it. From the way I interpret the witness remarks, this act does not go far enough to suit his liking.
Mr. Hrynuik: I agree, Mr. Webster. It does not.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am certain that when we come to those clauses that the witness has picked out where the mays should become shalls, they will be given consideration.
The witness also asked a number of questions, and I will answer one at this time. I will respond to all the questions in a formal way in writing, but I want to assure the witness at this time that the proposed environmental enhancement fund is completely different from the wildlife enhancement fund. The last wildlife enhancement fund was created under the land claims agreement. This one will deal with rehabilitating environmental hazards created in the past. It is specifically designed for cleaning up areas that have been abandoned.
The witness spoke briefly about the following rule-making sections: section 20, section 9, section 30 and section 31. The witness feels very strongly that the basis of the act will depend upon government assuring that all Yukoners have an opportunity to participate in the process. Would the witness elaborate on that?
What I am saying is that I think, for the first time personally, as well as for a lot of people I know, the government has come forward and asked what we thought about something. We have got into little debates about it in the past and I feel this is a first step to something positive. If the regulations come about, please, I appeal to the government, take the time to hold some consultations and let everybody have some input. Perhaps this time around people will not sit back on their haunches and wait until the last minute.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Does the section as it is written right now - the rule-making section - not give you comfort that, indeed, the public will be asked for their opinions and their input in the drafting of regulations?
Mr. Hrynuik: The way things are written, sometimes yes and sometimes they do not happen. That is all I am concerned about. I am just stressing it, and I hope that is what I am interpreting in the act. As I said, the biggest controversy through this whole act has been that some people can interpret it one way and some people can interpret it another way. I hope that is the way I am interpreting it.
Hon. Mr. Webster: As the representative of the Yukon Fish and Game Association, was the executive and the membership actively involved in the process to develop this act?
Mr. Hrynuik: Very much so. We have had several meetings where we discussed the original proposal. Three of us were specially delegated to go over it and make recommendations. We attended three out of the four public meetings that were held.
Hon. Mr. Webster: What has been the reaction of your association in addressing the concerns that were raised in bringing about this final act?
Mr. Hrynuik: The response I got from a lot of people I talked to was that this act does not pack enough clout for environmental habitat, or habitat in general. One of the comments observed quite closely, and by a gentleman who I was quite surprised about, was that if the Yukon government is not responsible for the fish and wildlife that live in this country, which we are, then are we not by this act protecting the habitat they live on, whether it is controlled federally or by whomever? If there is going to be detrimental action on federal lands and we are responsible for the fish and wildlife, is this clout going to be strong enough to protect our wildlife and fish from the sort of things that are happening right now from mistakes made in the past?
Hon. Mr. Webster: It seems to me that what the witness is asking for is that the Government of Yukon assume responsibilities for land and water immediately so that we can ensure greater habitat protection for the wilderness tourism industry.
Mr. Hrynuik: There is an old expression. If you do not have habitat you sure as heck are not going to have wildlife and fish. It is as simple as that.
Mr. Lang: I have a couple of questions for the witness. It has to do with the wilderness management plan and with respect to section 74. I do not know if the witness if familiar with it. I am curious about the position of the Yukon Fish and Game Association. Has the association had enough time to assess the implications of whether the designated management area should be in the Environment Act or if it should be in the Parks Act? I am thinking primarily from the point of view of the rights and privileges that the association has for hunting and harvesting of wildlife, where the numbers permit.
Mr. Hrynuik: When I first sat down with the original proposal, there were recommendations being made for changes in the Wildlife Act. I sat down at several meetings and asked what there was for that exact thing: wilderness management or habitat management. I was told by a few people that it is in the Wildlife Act. I sat down and went through the Wildlife Act and attended the wildlife board meetings. I waited and I waited until we had gone through the act clause by clause. They basically told me that the Environment Act covered it.
I am concerned that we do not forget about habitat. In the definitions, there were some adverse effects such as: Damage to plant or animal life or any component of the environment necessary to sustain animal life. This sounds to me like a definition of habitat or endangering of habitat.
I went through 31 pages and did not find one reference to the word habitat. That is why I addressed it as I did to the government. We definitely need more control on this act.
As Mr. Webster indicated, if that means lobbying the federal government for control over our land and water, et cetera, so be it.
Mr. Lang: I just want to go back to the wilderness areas. It is not clear in the bill exactly what a wilderness area is or what the standards or guidelines would be. For example, I know a major concern, as I said earlier, is the right to harvest wildlife. I think your organization has proved that over the years.
With the section being as broad as it is, has your organization had the opportunity of looking at it from the point of view that perhaps this section should be incorporated in the Parks Act, with a clear definition of what a wilderness area is and what it would entail, so that it is clearly understood how these areas are going to be operated if they are going to be designated within the territory?
Mr. Hyrnuik: When you use the terminology parks or the Parks Act, the first thing I think of is an area that does not permit hunting. An example is Kluane National Park or the territorial parks. I think it would be very confusing to a lot of people.
But I do agree with Mr. Lang that there should be more definitions as to what wildlife areas are. I think what we may be missing is not just solely the way it is covered here in the Environment Act, but we should also make some type of regulations covering it under the Wildlife Act, where it belongs.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Continuing on this line of questioning, I want to ask the witness if he is pleased with the definition for wilderness in this act?
Mr. Hyrnuik: Yes, I am very pleased that wilderness has been recognized as a valued resource. I think it is very lightly utilized today.
We are an area in the world that was started from mining. A lot of our generation and my fathers generation depended on mining to make a living. I think the whole key to cleaning up the environment is economic diversity. When I say economic diversity, I mean more promotion done for the wilderness tourism industry. Of all industry that goes on, such as forestry, mining and placer mining that we have to utilize in the territory, the wilderness tourism industry is the least damaging and least detrimental to the environment.
Deputy Chair: Excuse me. The witness has two minutes left.
Mr. Lang: In the opening of your address you mentioned that you had been asked to appear.
Mr. Hrynuik: Larry Leigh is our Executive Director. Paul Deuling phoned me up, because he had heard through the grapevine that this was going ahead. Both of them being busy, they asked me to phone and ask if the Fish and Game Association could have a representative. Since I got the phone call I got the nod; that is why I am here tonight.
Mr. Nordling: I would like to ask the witness if he or his association has any concerns with the makeup for the appointments to the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment as established in section 40 of the act.
Mr. Hrynuik: Actually, ironically, I did make some notes, figuring that I would get all tied-up and not get back to it, so they are quite brief. Basically, I would just like to make a recommendation that this committee be carefully selected and have representatives from all aspects of business and not just the local Chamber of Commerce.
I have a really hard time with tourism and our Chamber of Commerce. TIA is not bad. They promote the highway traffic. I read some reports here on tourism in the Yukon. Every report shows highway traffic. There was not one stipulation on the number of people who flew up here and travelled into the wilderness, fished in the camps we have here or used the tour companies that we have here, et cetera. When you approach Tourism Yukon to bring up a sports promoter to promote fishing in the Yukon, they hem and haw and give you a hard time. Their business is in the traffic and I think there should be more input on that council, because it is a growing industry. I am not talking about the highway tourist industry, I am talking the wilderness tourist industry.
Chair: Thank you, Mr. Hrynuik.
At this time the Committee will take a short break.
Deputy Chair: I will call Committee of the Whole to order.
We welcome our next witness, Dr. Boothroyd. Whom do you represent?
Dr. Boothroyd: The Friends of the Yukon River.
Deputy Chair: Do you have a statement?
Dr. Boothroyd: Members of the Legislature, my name is Wendy Boothroyd and I am here to represent the Friends of the Yukon River. Thank you for the opportunity to share some thoughts on Bill No. 20, the Environment Act.
North Americans have a dismal record for looking after their natural environment. We have acted as though economic growth and development are the most important goals. So far, Yukon has been spared the worst of this economic opportunism. Our climate, rugged terrain and distance from markets have meant that other, more accessible regions have been plundered first. This happy state will not last forever. New technological advances daily bring the spectre of a tamed north closer to reality.
The northern environment is special. We still have areas of almost untouched wilderness. With a few notable exceptions, we have clean air. Most Yukoners list the natural environment as the main reason for living north of 60. Many Yukoners moved north to get away from the environmental nightmares of the south. They do not want to see the same things happening up here.
Unfortunately, it does not take a penetrating search to find flaws in our environment. You can find dumps of cans, broken glass and chemicals even in remote, seldom travelled lands. I have seen abandoned oil barrels at the headwaters of the Hess River, on the banks of the Snake and inaccessible canyons on the Bates River.
I have come upon garbage pits of rusty tin cans and broken glass, in the remote alpine near Keele Peak and beside the Firth River. We no longer have the luxury of drinking fresh water without worry.
Despite the problems, we still have the opportunity to profit from mistakes made elsewhere. It is no longer acceptable to rely solely on the goodwill of individuals, business and government to care for the land. Our environment needs immediate safeguards, and the Environment Act is a responsible step toward attaining this goal.
I have been surprised by some of the comments made by others. I have heard that the Environment Act is an attack on our rights and freedoms. Is it a right or a freedom to abuse our environment? I have heard worries about penalties that will be hard on business, but surely business can avoid those penalties by complying with environmental laws. If anything, Friends of Yukon Rivers is worried that the act does not go far enough, but we accept that it is a fair compromise.
This Environment Act is not the end product, but the beginning of a process that will benefit from further public participation. Once the regulations are added, it is our hope that the Environment Act will be an effective tool in giving our environment the protection it deserves.
We are pleased that the Government of Yukon has accepted its responsibility to conserve the natural environment in accordance with a public trust. We are pleased that citizens will be able to ring the alarm if they believe the environment is being damaged. We are pleased that they may file a complaint against the government as well as against private interests. We are pleased that the Minister will be obliged to respond to these concerns. We are happy that the fines for crimes against the environment will be meaningful deterrents and reflect the seriousness of the damage. We are happy that section 73 recognizes that wilderness has intrinsic value. It is time that we began treating the land as if this were so.
The Yukon is one of the last storehouses of true wilderness anywhere - a treasure that we hope will be strongly protected when the regulations of the Environment Act are formulated. We believe that the process of determining regulations by inviting input from the public is democratic and sensible. We look forward to working with the government on these regulations.
In closing, I would like to draw a brief analogy between environmental legislation and criminal legislation.
Think for a moment if we had no criminal laws to protect us. I am sure no one in this House would suggest that we put off making laws for two months, six months or a year, until we had legislation that attained everyones idea of perfection.
We feel that our environment is also worthy of immediate protection. We applaud the governments initiative in pressing forward with its environment act.
Deputy Chair: Thank you, Dr. Boothroyd.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The witness may have noticed in the preamble of the act that there is a link identified between the questions of human health and the environment. I was very impressed with the reasoning in the witness brief.
The witness has talked about finding evidence of human waste and garbage in far-flung corners of the territory. I would like to ask the witness to think about this community, and ask if the witness thinks that this kind of legislation can contribute in a positive way to the public health of a community such as Whitehorse.
Dr. Boothroyd: I do believe that, because I have a rather holistic view of health. I think that human health depends on a healthy and nurturing earth. If we are breathing dirty air and drinking polluted water, eventually we are going to have human health problems.
I believe that there have been some suggestions that wood smoke pollution in Whitehorse has led to an increase in respiratory illnesses. Hopefully, the air pollution part of this act will be addressing things like that.
I believe there is a direct link between the health of our environment and eventually the health of all animals and humans on earth.
Hon. Mr. Webster: The witness mentioned in her presentation that she thought that, in her opinion and, I assume, the opinion of the association she represents, that Bill No. 20 does not go far enough, that it represents a fair compromise. Could the witness describe some areas in this act where this bill does not go far enough in protecting the environment?
Ms. Boothroyd: I do not think I could name any parts offhand but, in general, we would like to see close limits on what people are allowed to do to the environment.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Could the witness give us some examples?
Ms. Boothroyd: I am sorry, but I cannot think of one right now.
Mr. Nordling: I agree with the witness that this act is the beginning of a process. What makes the witness think this act will give immediate protection? I understand the witness said this act would do that.
Ms. Boothroyd: That is not what I believe. I believe the act will give no protection until the regulations are in place. However, one cannot start making regulations until one has the acts framework to base them on. Putting this off for six months is only going to put the regulations off for six more months. I think we have to get started on it, and get some regulations in place.
I recognize that there is a time lag before the regulations have to be in place, but I think you have to get started.
Hon. Mr. Webster: In the witness opinion, what would the priority be for the protection of the environment, and what regulations should be developed accordingly?
Ms. Boothroyd: I think wilderness areas should be protected. Perhaps some areas of the Yukon should be set aside for no development, and I would base that around river systems, because a river watershed can be the basis of an ecosystem. There are some very large tracts of land that, right now, are fairly untouched. If those could be preserved, they would be a treasure for Yukoners and for world citizens, because there are not many places like that left.
I think we have to act quickly to do some things like that, while we have the opportunity.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask Dr. Boothroyd a question with respect to the regulations, in particular dealing with wilderness operators. I would like to ask the witness how stringent she sees the regulations being that would control those wilderness operators and what she sees them being allowed to do and not allowed to do in the environment. They also have an impact on the environment, so I would like to know if she could give some indication of what she envisions in those regulations.
Dr. Boothroyd: I am not certain that I understand the question. Were you asking what I thought wilderness operators should be allowed to do in the wilderness or what I mean my wilderness?
Mrs. Firth: The regulations that are going to be drafted will put some controls and limitations on wilderness operators. I would like to ask the witness how she sees those regulations being established and what they would restrict or allow the wilderness operators to do, for example, the type of equipment that they might use, taking garbage out, and that kind of thing. How does she see that working?
Dr. Boothroyd: I was not necessarily even thinking that much about wilderness operators, so much as wilderness areas, which to me means leaving an area as untouched and off limits to development as possible, for example, no roads, no mines, et cetera. I think that different areas of Yukon could be given different degrees of protection. For example, there might be areas where people choose to have no hunting and other areas where they would allow hunting, and things like that.
Mrs. Firth: I get the message about no development and preserving particular areas but this Environment Act will have an impact on all of the users of the environment. I still want to emphasize to the witness that this act will have an impact on the business that the witness is in, the river raft business or the river tour business.
Dr. Boothroyd: Actually, I am not in that business.
Mrs. Firth: There will be support for wilderness businesses; is that correct?
Dr. Boothroyd: I only support wilderness businesses to the extent that sometimes I fly into a river.
Mrs. Firth: Okay, so the act will impact on wilderness businesses as well as hunting, as well as mining, as well as any other kinds of developments - forestry and so on.
How severe does the witness see the regulations being for wilderness operators as opposed to development operators; or is that something she has not considered?
Dr. Boothroyd: I think each area would have to be dealt with individually and I imagine it would be dealt with as regulations are discussed in public. I do not know exactly how the legislation works, but I presume people look at different parts of Yukon lands and decide what the use of those lands is going to be, and I imagine it would be discussed under that system, also. I do not have a blanket answer to that question.
Mrs. Firth: The question I am trying to get answered is whether there is recognition that every activity in the environment will be regulated by this act. I am sure the witness would agree that every activity will be regulated, no matter how much of an environmental impact it is perceived to have or not have. Every activity will have some regulations applied to it?
Dr. Boothroyd: I think that would be suitable. One would have to look at everyones use of the area.
Mr. Phillips: The witness, at the end of her presentation, mentioned that not having this act was, to use her analogy, like not having criminal laws. This act, as has been explained by the government, is only going to affect currently about one percent of the territory; the rest of the territory is covered by existing legislation. I get the impression from the witness that we need this act tomorrow, that there is some urgency to having this act in place tomorrow. I wonder if the witness could elaborate on that and tell us what major environmental disaster or what major environmental concern she has that she could share with us to show us that this act is needed tomorrow.
Dr. Boothroyd: I do not have one major environmental catastrophe that I am scared will happen in the Yukon tomorrow, but I am frightened by the general trend of things that I see. I think the sooner this act is in place, the better it will be for our environment.
I believe, right now, the federal government has jurisdiction over quite a lot of Yukons lands. As that devolves to us, then we will have jurisdiction over it. I turn your point around and say that if only one percent of Yukon land is not protected right now and some big mine is able to go in and take off the top of a mountain and pour acid waste in the water, that is a tragedy and maybe we could have done something about it.
Mr. Phillips: I think it should be explained to the witness that the one percent of the land we are talking about is basically in the municipalities. It is not a wilderness area. The wilderness area is the very area we are talking about that is under federal jurisdiction right now.
The remote areas the witness is talking about are the areas we will not have any control over for some time to come. We need devolution to take place so that we gain control of them before we will.
In the municipal areas, many things are happening, such as the sewage problems that are going on in Whitehorse, and people are dealing with it. The witness should be aware that this is the one percent that the act mostly deals with.
Hon. Mr. Webster: This might be an appropriate time to point out that this act will apply to all of the Yukon where there is a lack of federal legislation governing, say, the quality of the air, waste management and, the pet peeve of the Member for Riverdale North, litter. This act will deal with all parts of the Yukon with regard to those areas.
Deputy Chair: We will hear from the next witness, Bob van Dijken. Welcome, Mr. van Dijken.
Mr. van Dijken: Thank you.
Deputy Chair: Will you tell the House whom you are representing?
Mr. van Dijken: The Yukon Conservation Society.
Deputy Chair: Do you have any opening statements?
Mr. van Dijken: It is the view of Yukon Conservation Society that protecting the environment necessitates education, cooperation and partnerships. We can proceed on the basis of voluntary compliance, but it is also necessary to have regulation and enforcement. We can accomplish this process in two ways: it can happen antagonistically or it can happen in the spirit of partnership and cooperation.
The Yukon Conservation Society is engaged in a number of committees, consultations and such that are working toward environmental protection and we prefer the approach of partnership and consultation. Some examples are: examples the City Sewage Technical Committee, the Yukon Mining Advisory Committee, the Advisory Committee on Waste Management and the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment. These different organizations or different groups are working toward a goal and it seems that, in most cases, the road may be a bit rocky at times. No one agrees fully on every point, but in each of these committees that I have mentioned there does seem to be progress being made - the announcement by the city yesterday of its decision on sewage for example. The Yukon Conservation Society believes that we need the Environment Act; we need it now. There is a necessity for it, for example, in the public process on the environment. We have the water board process; that is an open public process to discuss and make decisions on environmental issues governing water. There is no such program in place or no such forum for public input on other environmental concerns on land use on various problems with the environment.
The act that is before the House is just a framework. We have to sit down and discuss regulations, develop regulations, listen, and consult.
In terms of what the Environment Act could do now and what problems there are to address: the Recycling Centre has just brought out their views and what they can accomplish, and what they feel they need to accomplish more. In areas like waste management and the design of dumps, we have heard discussion of the waste-oil pit in the Whitehorse dump. We have the old dump in McIntyre Creek, which may or may not be leeching various substances into Lake Laberge.
Regulation could control location, construction, operation of dumps and what goes into dumps. Work could be done hopefully with the municipalities to identify waste stream, to work with the three, four or five Rs: reduce, recycle, reuse, rethink, reject.
Work on waste management could help control problems like the area in Dawson where we have housing developments moving up toward the dump and concerns of people shooting seven black bears in one year in their back yard. In Faro, there is a chronic bear problem in the dump.
Our committee on special waste is working toward developing protocols in putting together a site. Regulation could help in controlling what goes into dumps and in identifying special wastes. Education can help in having people segregate special waste.
Over the past few months, the government in Victoria has been putting together legislation concerning the recycling of batteries. You pay a surcharge, which you get back once you bring back an old battery. The same goes for tires. There are a number of options such as this that could be considered and developed.
Other areas are, for example, litter and the problem at Dalton Post for the last number of years. There is nothing covering air quality concerns right now, and there are air quality concerns in Watson Lake. Citizens in the McCrae area have been concerned about some air quality issues in that area. If you have ever driven down the Alaska Highway by the Whitehorse Copper Mine on a good, windy day, you will see the sheen of dust and tailings coming from that area, which is, again, an air quality issue. There are a number of issues that can be addressed and put together quickly.
In terms of the act itself, there is obviously no time to go through things clause by clause, but I will just highlight some sections that YCS feels are important: section 4, which binds the Government of the Yukon; section 8, the right of action and the right of citizens to pursue the government if they feel they are not properly looking after the environment and have not been a good trustee of the public trust; section 10, common law rules, the ability to develop regulation in the time constraint of October 1996, to ensure we do not just sit here with an act and no regulations, and drag our feet and get nothing accomplished; section 21, an access to information; section 33, the ability to petition the Minister for regulations; and, section 73, the value of wilderness. Also, the whole issue of public trust is an important one to YCS.
Working on some of these committees and talking with people, the development of regulations is something that will take time and, we hope, will take a lot of consultation. Industry talks about developing industry-specific regulations, with input from them. There has to be a good timeframe in place to allow good regulations to be put into place that balance the interests of different groups and takes into account everybodys interests.
Just to end up, I will talk a bit about the SAVE tour. There were four students who came to the Yukon last month and visited junior and senior secondary schools. SAVE stands for Students Advocating a Viable Environment.
They are between 16 and 19 years of age. They arranged the entire tour by themselves, going to bankers to arrange loans, arranging transportation and they travelled the country on bus passes. There were 10 of them travelling at any point. Four were in the Yukon.
Once their tour is through, they will have talked to over 200,000 students at the secondary level across Canada. They are concerned that they are being told to wait until they are older, established, have a job, get married and become responsible citizens. They are saying that they cannot wait that long. Some scientists are saying that we may have less than ten years to get our act together or we will be over the edge of the slippery slope.
Their concern is that they, the young, will inherit the earth and they are concerned with our stewardship. They have expressed the message that youth must ensure that our stewardship will currently be such that the environment will be left for them.
I would just like to leave you with what they have on the back of their T-shirts. It is a quick, simple statement: We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. I think I will leave my presentation with that.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Mr. van Dijken, thank you for your presentation tonight. We end by saying that, in your opinion, you thought that in order to protect the environment adequately there are a few basic ingredients required. They are: education, cooperation, consultation and partnerships. How do you think Bill No. 20 measures up to meeting those requirements?
Mr. van Dijken: There seems to be adequate provision for all the categories I have mentioned. I will have to see as we develop regulations, how the consultation process goes and how cooperation goes.
Education is mentioned again and again. I hope it is enshrined as a critical part and an ongoing part of the protection of the environment.
Hon. Mr. Webster: You also mentioned that, in your opinion, it was also necessary to have some voluntary compliance, and also to have some regulations and that there be a proper balance in that regard. Again, what is your opinion of Bill No. 20 in meeting those conditions?
Mr. van Dijken: It seems that Bill No. 20 will. Clauses talk about environmental protection officers and their responsibility to be broad minded and for them to be properly educated and the need to put together a manual to address what their enforcement powers will be and how they will go about it. I think the bill goes a long way toward addressing these concerns.
Mr. Phelps: I would like to thank the witness for his presentation.
The impression I have been getting from listening to the various witnesses, and this witness is the last to come before us, is that one group is opposed to one section, the next group is opposed to another, and the disagreement seems to be less about principles. As I listened to this witness, I had no difficulty at all with the principles. On the one hand, there seems to be the feeling that we should move ahead into regulations right away, which presupposes a very great faith in the official bureaucracy and the Cabinet, which change from time to time, as opposed to others, who would like to see more of the issues defined and placed in the act where they cannot be tinkered with very easily.
For example, a major development under part 6 was so entirely insufficient as to allow all kinds of developments to bypass the development assessment review process, one would be very concerned. Also, I expect the witness would like to see a definition of that very important concept, with which he could agree, in the act so that it would be more or less frozen and could not be lightly tinkered with. Would I be correct in saying that, from the witness perspective, if he was content with a definition or a process, he would feel safer over time with it enshrined in legislation, than he would with it in regulations?
Mr. van Dijken: Again, that is a sort of two-edged sword. We look at things like the Northern Inland Waters Act, and the time it has taken for the various versions. I have been with YCS in a really active capacity for about six years, and we have been shown different versions of NIWA. We were told a year ago last December that it would be on the Order Paper and passed by this time last year. Unfortunately, in the overall schemes of the Canadian government, the Northern Inland Waters Act is eddied into a backwater, so there are pros and cons to both the act and regulations. In saying that there is total comfort in enshrining something in an act, or total comfort in enshrining something in regulations, I think it is a judgment call.
Mr. Phelps: Taking two critical elements of any comprehensive environmental act, and the concept of what kind of development ought to go before a very formal assessment review or process, assuming that we can strike a balance and have it placed in this act fairly quickly, that was acceptable to the witness group and various other interest groups the witness has worked with in a very constructive way for a number of years. Does the witness not feel that would alleviate the concern of a lot of the groups who have concerns about some aspects of this legislation?
Mr. van Dijken: It would but, from my understanding, it is also complicated by the development assessment process agreement, under the umbrella final agreement, and that definition also enters into the equation, from my understanding of the UFA and how that fits in.
Mr. Phelps: If that same reasoning was taken with regard to the other very loose sections, and with definitions that have been raised in the various briefs that we have heard over two days, there could be found a common ground that could be placed in this act. Assuming that it could be done in a reasonably short period of time, would the witness not be satisfied with that kind of process that would, in some ways, not necessarily hold back the development of regulations, but would at least give comfort to all of those groups that are worried about how loose some of the sections are?
Mr. van Dijken: That could be feasible depending upon where we draw the line on what is too loose. If we start going section by section and listening to peoples interpretation of what is too loose or what should be put into the act and what should be left for regulation, I think we are opening a whole Pandoras Box again of trying to decide what should be in the act and what should be in regulation. Where do we draw the line? We have X number of pages here and if we go through clause by clause and we start pulling out points, the question, I think very quickly becomes: when do we stop?
Mr. Phelps: I understand the concern that the witness raises in that respect, but I wonder if the Minister can appreciate the point of view of some of us who feel that the fundamental principles of an act such as this, ought to be dealt with by the Legislature wherever possible, not simply passed over to the regulatory process.
I am wondering if the witness can appreciate this. There are a lot of issues in this act that are left to regulations that some of us feel are appropriately debated in this House and not simply swept out of here. Some of those issues include such things as the environment assessment review process, the definition of development and some of the other definitions that have been raised by those who have shown concern about the act.
Mr. van Dijken: Yes, I can appreciate those concerns.
It is something like the Northern Inland Waters Act, where the act itself says that to deposit a waste or to use water you need a water licence. If we go into the regulations, we now have regulations saying that if you use less than 50,000 gallons a day, you do not need a water licence. In that case, the act is all-encompassing, and we go to the regulations to exempt from the all-encompassing idea.
Deputy Chair: The witness has two minutes left.
Mr. van Dijken: From some points of view, in developing industry-specific regulations that, on the various committees YCS or I sit on, there seems to be a concern about this. Again, where do we decide what is properly put into an act and what should be discussed. I do not have a quick answer, unfortunately.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Perhaps I can get a more definitive answer from the witness. Let me put the question this way: considering the type of activities that may be subject to a review under the development assessment process, it has been argued by some that might be best determined by regulations, whereby all members of the public and business have a say in the development of those regulations, before they come back to this House for review. What is the witnesss opinion on that?
Mr. van Dijken: The development assessment and the whole concept of developing a framework for excluding/including is something that is critical. I can understand concerns from industry and concerns of grabbing everything if you have too fine a mesh. Also, there is the concern from the other side that if you build that mesh not fine enough, things escape.
I think it is something that deserves a lot of debate. It is something that there is no quick and easy answer to.
Deputy Chair: Thank you, Mr. van Dijken. Our time is up.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I move that you report progress on Bill No. 20.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: 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 Deputy Chair of Committee of the Whole.
Mr. Joe: Mr. Speaker, Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 20, entitled Environment Act, and directed me to report progress on same.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Deputy Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:28 p.m.
The following Legislative Returns were tabled May 22, 1991:
Alcohol and Drug Services for Youths (Hayden)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1046-1047
Haines Junction School: Invitational tender for renovations to the computer room (McDonald)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1014-1015