Thursday, May 23, 1991 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time, we will proceed with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Introduction of Visitors.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I would like to call your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the presence in the public gallery of Mr. Siegfried Haller, Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany, and Mrs. Haller. They are here visiting the Yukon Territory from their post in Vancouver. I ask all Members to please make them welcome.
Speaker: Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have two Legislative Returns, being questions respecting the Kaska Dena Taku River Tlingit claim and the formula financing agreement.
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?
Warning labels on liquor bottles re drinking during pregnancy
Hon. Ms. Joe: I rise today to inform Members of an initiative undertaken by the Yukon Liquor Corporation in response to issues raised by concerned citizens about fetal alcohol syndrome and fetal alcohol effects.
As you are aware, for years warning labels have been put on cigarette packages to make people aware that cigarette smoking can lead to lung and heart disease and smoking during pregnancy can harm the baby.
The number of people smoking has dropped dramatically in Canada in the past decade. This can be partially attributed to education programs outlining the potential risk of smoking. One of the most obvious educational tools being used is warning labels on cigarette packages.
Fetal alcohol syndrome and fetal alcohol effects are preventable diseases; unfortunately the victims of FAS and FAE are the most innocent of all: the babies of mothers who drink alcohol during their pregnancy.
I am pleased today to announce that commencing August 1, 1991, the Yukon Liquor Corporation will be placing labels on all wine, spirit and packaged liquor products to warn pregnant women and the general public of the potential risks of drinking while pregnant.
Warning labels will help to bring the problems of FAS/FAE to the forefront and increase awareness among pregnant women. The more people who are aware of the effects that alcohol has on unborn children, the more support a pregnant woman will receive from family, friends and other community members in her resolve not to drink.
The labelling of alcoholic beverages is regulated by federal food and drug regulations and consumer packaging and labelling regulations. This legislation is determined by the federal Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs. At present there are no federally legislated requirements for hazardous warning labels to be placed on liquor bottles in Canada.
In June, the Yukon Liquor Corporation will be presenting a resolution to the Canadian Association of Liquor Jurisdictions asking them for their support to put warning labels on liquor bottles all across Canada. If support is received, a proposal will go forward to the federal governments Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs. The responsibility for placing the warnings on the bottles would then be with the producer where it could be done at lower cost than if it is done by the various liquor jurisdictions.
In the meantime, however, the Yukon Liquor Corporation employees will put the warning labels on each wine, spirit and packaged liquor product sold in the Yukon. A single, somewhat larger label will go on packaged products like beer and cooler cartons. Businesses holding off-sales licences will be asked to cooperate in the labelling program.
The cost for implementing this program will be $50,000 in the first year; however, if even one pregnant woman heeds the warning labels on the liquor bottles and saves her baby from serious, debilitating birth defects, the program will be well worth the cost.
I would like to say at this time that this has been a long process and there are many individuals who are responsible for bringing this to the forefront. I have had people like my colleague, the Member for Mayo, on behalf of Sue Davies, lobbying me. I have had people like Norma Kassi, the Member for Old Crow, lobbying me, and a number of other individuals have lobbied for this for a long time.
I am very pleased to be able to announce it today.
Mrs. Firth: I am pleased that the Minister is so pleased with herself. This announcement, to me, is premature to the Committee on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome/Fetal Alcohol Effects report being published. Last week I asked the Minister of Health and Social Services a question about the report and she indicated at the time that the report was not ready and that there were recommendations coming forward with respect fetal alcohol syndrome/fetal alcohol effects. Then the Minister of Justice comes into this House and makes this announcement without hearing what those recommendations are or even what the priorities of that committee are.
Fifty thousand dollars is a lot of money to spend on this program. This program may very well be a good idea, I am not disputing that, but priorities have to be set. Surely we should be waiting for the committees report that was going to come forward to the government with recommendations and priorities.
I do not understand why the Minister is making this announcement at this time. I can only conclude that if the Minister of Justice is prepared to spend this $50,000, which could very well cover the position of a fetal alcohol syndrome coordinator, which is something that this side of the House has been asking for and a lot of the people who live and deal with fetal alcohol syndrome and fetal alcohol effect every day have been asking for, one can only assume and conclude that there is going to be money for the recommendations that the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Committee is going to bring forward. Otherwise, I would submit to the government that they perhaps are making a mistake proceeding with this program.
Also, there is no indication from the Minister if this is to be a one-year program, if it is to be ongoing or if we are going to continue to spend money. I would also like to submit to the Minister that there are other things in her department that would take priority over the officials being put to work spending a lot of time preparing this resolution and doing the other things they are going to have to do to proceed with this in a national context.
In my consultations with the people who live and deal with fetal alcohol syndrome and fetal alcohol effects on a daily basis, their concerns are: (1) why the announcement now?; (2) this money could be better spent on something that is of higher priority; and (3) why are they not waiting for the report and recommendations from the Committee on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Effects?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I find the comments made by the Member for Riverdale South ironic in regard to why I announce it now. I was under the impression that these ministerial statements were given to the Opposition with a general understanding that they would be announced in the House. If she has already spoken to individuals in regard to this ministerial statement, then she has broken that trust.
I am not surprised by the response from the Member. It does not matter what we do over here, whether it is a good idea or not, they will oppose it no matter what.
There is work being done in regard to the problem. This is part of the work that is being done. I am pleased to announce it. I have been pleased to announce it because it is a positive step. It will cost us $50,000, but if it does prevent one fetal alcohol syndrome baby from being born, then it will have been worth the $50,000. This program will be ongoing. It is not a one-shot deal. Education is very positive and if we can educate women through this process, then it is a very positive step.
Let me remind the Member that there are a number of initiatives being discussed right now. The process is ongoing.
Completion of Yukon Alcohol and Drug Survey
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I rise today to inform the Members of the completion of the Yukon alcohol and drug survey.
In the fall of 1990, the Yukon alcohol and drug survey was administered by the Yukon Bureau of Statistics on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Services. The survey asked 1,348 Yukon residents about their use of alcohol. Yukon households were selected by a random sampling technique of random-digit dialing in areas where the telephone coverage was sufficient, and by random selection from a household listing in the outlying areas where it was deemed that a telephone survey would not adequately represent the people of the community.
Individuals over the age of 15 within a household were listed by age and sex, then another grid was used to randomly select the respondent within the household who would answer the survey. By using the two techniques of telephone and in-person interviewing, the coverage, representatives and validity of the survey were ensured.
The survey was funded through the National Health Research and Development Program - the research funding vehicle of Health and Welfare Canadas national drug strategy.
This survey, in combination with the national health promotion survey of 1985, has provided an unprecedented set of indicators as to the extent, depth and breadth of alcohol use in the territory. We now have the information needed to discuss our reputation as hard drinkers, and discuss what should be done.
While alcohol and drug abuse continues to be perhaps the most serious social and health problem in the territory, the survey results show a remarkable five-year decline in the number of current drinkers. Although fewer people are currently drinking, the Yukon continues to exhibit the highest per capita consumption of absolute alcohol in the country.
This high consumption problem is attributable to a relatively small proportion of the population. Six percent of the population over 15 years of age reports consuming more than 90 drinks per month. This accounts for almost 50 percent of the reported consumption of alcohol. This is just a sample of the wealth of information provided by this survey, information that challenges policy makers, service providers and the community at large to re-examine the problem.
Not only does this data provide us with the specific information to assist in targeting our resources in the most effective manner, but it has provided an indication of a trend. A lot of good work has been done in the alcohol and drug field by many groups here in the Yukon. These include alcohol and drug services, national native alcohol and drug program, community addiction workers and private agencies, such as Crossroads Treatment Centre, and all the other community groups whose efforts and hard work toward alleviating the negative effects of alcohol in their communities often go unrecognized.
The survey results show many positive changes. We now have the information to begin the process of review, further analysis and strategy development. Now, we have a base on which to build a healthier Yukon and healthier Yukon people.
I have for tabling a copy of that report.
Mr. Lang: We are really pleased to hear the results of the survey. I want to begin by congratulating the Yukon Bureau of Statistics which, I understand, did most, if not all, the work, on the survey. It speaks very well of the expertise that we have within our government, and it is a case where we do not have to go to other jurisdictions for that kind of help.
I have a couple of observations to make. We are really pleased to see the trend, if I can refer to it as that, and the decline in the number of drinkers. Obviously, of concern is still the per capita amount the Minister referred to.
As the Minister knows, over the course of the last number of years, this side of the House has been asking for an evaluation of the various programs to see how they are working and, if they are not working, why not, and how can we better redirect those resources in a manner that will meet the needs of the most people and help resolve some of the social problems some segments of our population are experiencing.
With the results of the survey, which I have no doubt are relatively accurate, we should be able to further target those individuals who are obviously suffering from the social effects of alcohol, and see what we can do to remedy the situation.
This side is very pleased to hear the announcement. As the Minister knows, we were more than constructive in debate in Committee of the Whole when we discussed this at budget time, in searching for solutions to the problems. It is not easy; I will be the first to admit it and I think all Members in this House would freely admit that it is not an easy problem to resolve. If we continue to work in the direction we are, I think we will be successful.
Before I close, the one area I feel strongly that we can put even further emphasis on is our young people, perhaps through the auspices of our school system. I would like to congratulate those parents who are involved in the substance-free graduation ceremonies, and those types of things. These are all added benefits and programs that can help our young people understand what the consequences of alcohol and drug abuse are individually and collectively; hopefully, that would subsequently temper their youthful zeal when they get involved in things of this nature.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I want to thank the Member for his comments and to say that I know we are all looking forward to using this new tool to develop programs for Yukon people.
Speaker: This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Decentralization
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions to follow up on exactly how the decentralization policy, or program, is proceeding. The policy was announced last winter and, under that policy, 39 jobs were to be relocated outside Whitehorse this year under phase 1. The policy stated that employees whose positions are being located away from Whitehorse could choose to remain in Whitehorse. Could the appropriate Minister - I am not sure if it would be the Minister for the Executive Council Office or the PSC - give us an idea, first of all, how many of the 39 job positions were staffed at the time the policy was announced?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I apologize, Mr. Speaker. I do not have that kind of detail at my fingertips. I could have provided it if I had been given notice of the question.
If the Leader of the Official Opposition would be content, for the purposes of todays Question Period, to depend on my memory, I will try and do what I can to answer his question.
As I recall, we were talking about 39 positions. A number of these were new positions that were being created. The Member will understand that all of those were vacant and none of them had been staffed. There were a number of native language interpreter positions vacant within my own department. I believe there were a number of positions in the Department of Community and Transportation Services, the airports marine branch, which was to be established in Haines Junction. There were some incumbents in some of the Community and Transportation Services positions for devolution, but I do not believe there were any incumbents, with perhaps one exception, in that area.
With respect to the 39 positions, my memory tells me it was something like this: of the positions that were staffed, the last time I asked the question that the Leader of the Opposition is asking, which was before this House sat, a third of the people had agreed to transfer, a third had declined and other positions were therefore being assigned, and another third of them had not yet made a decision.
The Leader of the Opposition will understand that that information may be dated as of this moment.
Mr. Phelps: I apologize, I probably should have forewarned him. I just thought that he would have the numbers in his briefing.
Can the Minister advise us about the process for phase 2, the next phase for relocating, because the total is supposed to be 100 positions. I would like to know whether or not the intention at this time is for the government to consult thoroughly with the rural communities or to assess their preferences with regard to relocation.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Let me clarify this. We are not going to be consulting with municipalities any more than they would consult with us about what the operational needs of the government are in respect to what positions we may want to move to rurual Yukon. In other words, we are not going to be inviting bidding by communities as to which departments, agencies or what branches of the government they would like to have located in the communities. It will not surprise the Leader of the Opposition that, without us even suggesting that possibility, we have had many quite bold, uninstigated proposals from rurual communities that would like to have entire departments of this government relocated to their towns or villages.
We are at the stage where we have been inviting proposals from within the government as to how we can efficiently and effectively locate services outside of Whitehorse to the advantage of, not only the local municipality, perhaps, but also the people in the area - and it has to be the people in the whole area who have to be considered as well as the community where they will be based.
Once the budgeting process is complete, which the Leader of the Official Opposition understands, we will be going to the communities to talk to them about how the host community can work with us in terms of issues about housing, schooling, services...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please conclude this answer.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: ... and office space - questions like that - about which we do want to have a good working relationship with the municipalities.
Mr. Phelps: Am I to take from that - as was the case last time - there will not be any consultation with communities about what they see as appropriate positions that might be moved in phase 2.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The idea of decentralization in many rural communities is such a popular idea that many of the community representatives that I have talked to would like to have wholesale decentralization, on a scale that would probably cause shock waves in this Legislature.
We are talking about something we think is a reasonable and ambitious proposal, in national terms. Phase 1 calls for 100 positions over three years. We think that 100 positions will give us something like an equitable distribution of jobs between the urban and rural Yukon, but we have clearly agreed that at the end of phase 1 we have to review it to see where we go in phase 2.
We certainly invite comments from all citizens about the general proposal, but there is no scenario under which we could or should invite a bidding war among municipalities as to which one gets what branch or what agency. The people I have talked to - and this is quite literal, not an exaggeration - would like to have whole departments, as opposed to the branches, agencies or offices we are talking about, locating in rural areas.
Question re: Decentralization
Mr. Phelps: We have had some fairly vocal complaints from some of the municipalities that felt that job classifications that were being located to their communities were not really appropriate or were not what was appropriate for that community. The initial announcement spoke of a total of 100 jobs, of which 39 positions were outlined. I am wondering when we might expect to receive an announcement regarding the next batch of job relocations?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The House will not know the precise number or the identity of the positions we are proposing to relocate until the presentation of the budget this fall. The Leader of the Official Opposition will understand that we are now working, through the budget process, in receiving proposals from departments and evaluating them. Ultimately there will be a decision made about them, the costing and other evaluations that will have to go on. Once that work is complete, the announcement will come in the budget address that will come in the next sitting of the House.
Mr. Phelps: With reference to budgets, when the policy was announced last winter it was claimed that the costs of relocating the first 39 jobs would be $479,000, of which about $225,000 would be one-time capital costs. At the time, of course, we maintained that the estimates were ridiculously low, and I am wondering if the Minister could advise us when the actual capital costs for the first 39 positions will be available?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No calculation of that kind has been provided to me, either in my capacity of Minister of Finance or as the Leader of this government. Clearly, some evaluation of the costs of the first year of experience will be necessary for us to make our decisions about the next group of positions to be decentralized. I believe I can give the undertaking to the House that I will try to provide the best information on that question that I can at the time we bring the budget before the House in and next group of proposals.
Mr. Phelps: We appreciate that but we would also like an estimate on what the actual cost was with regard to the increase in the operations and maintenance costs for the 39 positions.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will take that question as notice.
Question re: Hunting out of season
Mr. Lang: I would like to direct a question to the Minister of Renewable Resources. As the Minister is aware, the last number of days I have been asking questions with respect to wildlife management and how it relates to the land claims process and what regulations and laws are going to apply to the harvesting of game. Over the past few months we have been told about the pregnant ewes that were shot outside Ross River - easily accessible by road. We have also learned that a number of pregnant cow moose were killed in close proximity to Whitehorse and there may well have been other incidents outside what is generally referred to as normal hunting seasons.
As the Minister knows, these animals are very vulnerable at this time of year, because of their lambing and calving requirements. They herd to areas where this takes place.
At the conclusion of the land claim negotiations, can the Minister tell the House if it is the position of the Government of Yukon that all harvesters of wildlife should be required to come under some common hunting season rules, in order that these animals, when they are so vulnerable, will not come under heavy hunting pressure as they are under today?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The same question, almost verbatim, was raised yesterday.
Yes, I did answer that question. I said my opinion is that I have recognized the Sparrow decision, which basically guarantees the right of aboriginal people to harvest, and not necessarily within the seasons that have been arbitrarily defined by governments.
Mr. Lang: Perhaps the Minister of Justice would like to answer. I did not ask for Judge Sparrows decision. I asked what the Government of the Yukon Territorys position was regarding the negotiations of the land claims. I am led to believe that these agreements will be entrenched in the Constitution. My concern is the vulnerability of these animals during certain periods of the year, which has recently been demonstrated.
Is the Government of the Yukon Territory taking a position at the negotiating table that all Yukon hunters, when harvesting game, should come under general rules regarding hunting seasons, in order to protect our wildlife?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I will give the same answer, for the third time, to the question that has been raised for a third time, almost verbatim. That is no. Having said that, though, I want to remind the Member that conservation of the species is a first principle when we are talking about harvesting of wildlife in the territory. I did indicate to the Member last week, when this matter was raised, that I do not agree with the harvesting of ewes that are pregnant, nor cow moose that are pregnant, at this particular time of year. We have provided that opinion to the First Nations, whose members were involved in those hunts, because we think there are better ways to harvest the species in a manner that will sustain the species and allow enough animals so that everyone can take part in the harvest.
Mr. Lang: I am speaking about the laws of the land, that are set by this Legislature, and what we agree to at the land claim table. I do not have to remind the Minister of Renewable Resources that he is the steward of our wildlife and what I do not understand is why the Government of the Yukon Territory is not taking the position that, once the land claim is concluded, in view of the fact ...
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mr. Lang: Why is the Government of the Yukon Territory not taking the position that, once the land claim is concluded, the general laws of application respecting hunting seasons will apply to all Yukoners in order to ensure that the type of hunting and the type of things that have been happening will not occur in the future?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Firstly, I will address the Members preamble where he said the laws of the land are set in this Legislature. That is not quite true when it comes to determining the seasons when we can harvest. That is one of the problems we have right now with respect to the hunting of water fowl and game birds. We do not allow hunting in the spring season when all northerners should have an opportunity to have access to that harvest.
Question re: Hunting out of season
Mr. Lang: My understanding of the land claim negotiations is that, once the negotiations are concluded and agreed to, various general laws of application are going to apply to all Yukoners. I recognize the laws the way they apply presently; my concern is how they will apply at the conclusion of the land claim negotiations. Presently, as we all know, the hunting methods for all Yukoners have changed dramatically in the last 50 years. Four-by-fours are available to all of us; high-velocity rifles; high-powered snowmobiles. My concern is the vulnerability of game at certain times of the year. If seasons are not going to be respected, we are going to continue to see a decline, if rules are not applied.
I want to ask the Minister about the Government of Yukons position. I do not want to hear about the Sparrow case; I do not want to hear about all these other things. I am talking about the governments position. Why is the government not taking the position that, at the conclusion, with the agreement of all three parties, hunting seasons will be established that all parties will agree to and have to adhere to?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Minister of Renewable Resources has explained this very well, but let me try again. The Member for Porter Creek East keeps asking why the government does not do something when the Supreme Court of Canada has told us not to. The Supreme Court of Canada, being a rule-making body, set outs in the Sparrow decision - I would like the Member to read it - that governments have an obligation to protect the food harvest of aboriginal people. Any measure that we bring in - and this has been confirmed in a decision handed down by Territorial Court Judge H. Lilles, recently in a case heard in Dawson City - that restricts the aboriginal harvest, can only be justified on the basis that they are for conservation.
As the Member will know, the umbrella final agreement that we have, for the first time in any land claims agreement anywhere, has conservation as the first principle, and what aboriginal people and the First Nations of the Yukon had agreed to in the umbrella final agreement, was that, in exchange for the surrender of the unfettered right to harvest year round, they would participate in the resource councils at both the territorial and local levels, in an effort to cooperatively agree on sustainable harvests, for the good of everybody, but also for the good of the species. Since those agreements were made, the Member will note...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Minister please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I apologize, Mr. Speaker. The Sparrow decision came back from Supreme Court, which speaks to the governments obligation to protect the harvesting right of aboriginal people.
Mr. Lang: I do not want to give the impression that I am interfering with the right to harvest or the right for the aboriginal people to harvest presently under the Indian Act or the Sparrow decision. My concern is a question of conservation, and we are presently negotiating a land claim agreement that is going to supersede many aspects and many laws in this House once it is agreed upon.
My concern is conservation: the principle that the Government Leader just spoke of. What I want to know is whether or not the Government of the Yukon Territory is taking the position and adhering to the position that there are going to have to be established seasons for the harvesting of wildlife in order to be able to protect the species, whether it be moose, sheep or otherwise, during the course of the year when they are so vulnerable.
I also want to know what the Government of the Yukons position is.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I will answer for the fourth time that, no, we are not advocating that all people of the Yukon be subject to the same dates for a hunting season. That is not necessary to sustain the particular species.
Mr. Lang: I cannot understand any Minister of Renewable Resources saying that he does not believe that certain periods of the year should not be restricted to hunting. I want to ask the Minister why he is not taking that position, which is a basic tenet of conservation.
When these animals are so vulnerable and accessible, why is the Government of Yukon not taking the position that there should be established seasons where all harvesters of wildlife have to recognize conservation?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I can only repeat what I have already said. Part of the land claims negotiations is about the harvesting of wildlife. The first principle is conservation. All parties of the agreement are firmly in agreement that conservation will be the underlying principle that will dictate what numbers of a species will be harvested.
Obviously, there are critical times of the year when it is not wise to harvest game, especially in the case we have seen in the last month, dealing with sheep and moose. Again, I want to inform the Member that the law of the land is what has been established by the Supreme Court, which recognizes the aboriginal right to hunt.
Question re: Sheriff of Yukon
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister of Justice. The last time we sat, I asked the Minister a question regarding the sheriffs position being vacant for so long. The Minister told the House that a special person had been brought in to train the acting sheriff so that he could possibly take the job as sheriff.
I understand that the position has now been filled. I would like to ask the Minister to tell us who the new sheriff is?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I do not have the name of the person who was successful. I would like to mention that the training did happen. The training was not only for the one person but it was for the individuals who worked in that branch. It was felt at the end of the training period that they should advertise again, and they did. The Member probably knows the name of the person. I have not been told that name yet.
Mrs. Firth: I do know the name of the person. It is not the name that is so interesting, rather it is where that person is from. The person is from Dauphin, Manitoba.
This is a government that boasts a local-hire policy. We had two people who were a sheriff and a deputy sheriff and who had been doing the job for over a year in an acting capacity. Why did the Minister pass over two competent, dedicated public servants who are Yukoners to hire someone from Dauphin, Manitoba to be the sheriff for this government?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The Member for Riverdale South is once again asking questions of a personal nature. We are talking about employees of this government. It is not for us to give reasons why someone was passed over for a position. It the Member would like to know, I think it would be up to the person involved to give her that information. Certainly I am not going to do it in the House.
Mrs. Firth: I am asking policy questions here. This government boasts a local-hire policy. The Minister of Government Services is advertising contracts outside. The Government Leader just hired two deputy ministers from outside. The Minister of Community and Transportation Services...
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mrs. Firth: I sure will. The Minister of Community and Transportation Services just hired a fire marshal from Victoria or somewhere. Now the Minister of Justice has hired a sheriff from Manitoba. What is the local-hire policy of this government? I would like to know why they had to hire this person from Manitoba and not use the local Yukon people. Why were they not good enough for this government to be hired for the sheriff position?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I would suggest to this House that our record on outside hire is much better than theirs when they were government, and that has been proven.
The Member has asked me three or four different things. She wanted to know what the policy was; she wanted to know why we did not hire one of those two people for the position. The last question is of a confidential nature, as I have said, and she will have to find out in a manner other than in this House.
In regard to our policy, we hire from within the Yukon when possible. My record, as the Minister responsible for Justice, is very good, but I do not hire people. It is not up to me to say who is hired and who is not, because Ministers are not responsible for that.
Question re: Lawsuits for wrongful dismissal
Mrs. Firth: I have another question for the Minister of Justice, regarding another issue. We have established that this government does not feel that Yukoners are competent enough to be hired for jobs here in the Yukon.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mrs. Firth: I just cited the track record of four Ministers, and the Government Leader calls it bunk.
We do know that the government is good at doing one thing, and that is called shifting, moving, reassigning and just outright firing people. We have an outstanding lawsuit for wrongful dismissal with Mr. Jim Davie. I have a constituent who has filed a wrongful dismissal suit. I have another constituent contemplating doing that. The Member for Porter Creek East has a constituent who has filed a wrongful dismissal suit.
Could the Minister of Justice stand up here today and tell us how many wrongful dismissal suits this government has filed against it?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I am not able to supply that kind of information right now. If the Member wants that kind of information, it can be provided to her. In regard to our hiring practice, she is the one who said in this House, and she just said it now, that Yukoners are not competent enough to be hired. For the record, she said it. I would like that to go on the record.
Mrs. Firth: Come on. This is the lady who was on the radio this morning, saying she had not done her homework, did not know anything about anything and had not done her research. Come on.
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mrs. Firth: I sure will. I think it is evident in the public what this governments attitude is about local Yukoners and local people being hired by this NDP government. The Minister does have a responsibility to bring this information to the House. How many wrongful dismissal suits does this government have filed against it?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am answering the question because the issue of labour relations falls within the ambit of the Public Service Commission for which I am responsible. I think the Member is being a stranger to the truth today, because the Member has failed to recognize that 93 percent of people whom we have hired in the last year were local hires; 95 percent of the people who work for this government were locally hired. With respect to the dismissal or disciplinary procedures for employees who have not been performing well, there is a grievance procedure available to them. There is a long-standing process which goes from first level grievance procedure right through to adjudication. Consequently, there is a fair process or procedure available to any employee who feels they have not been treated fairly.
With respect to the local hire record of this NDP Government, I will stand in my place and challenge the Member to prove that while the Members opposite were responsible for government that their record was better than ours. It was not. The record that we have today, this NDP Government ....
Speaker: Order please.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: ...is much better than the Progressive Conservative record. I will say that over and over again.
Speaker: Will the Member please....
Mrs. Firth: I find this quite interesting. The other day I asked the Minister of Education a question about lawsuits. He told me that he should not be answering these questions and that they should be more properly directed to the Minister of Justice. Today, I asked the Minister of Justice questions about lawsuits and he jumps up with a big speech about local hire. All I want is an answer and I want it from the Minister of Justice, who is responsible for this area. The Minister of Education ....
Speaker: I would like to remind the Member of guideline 7, ...one sentence of preamble allowed for each supplementary question.
Mrs. Firth: It was a long sentence. I wanted to ask the Minister if, next week, she will bring back to this House information with respect to the number of wrongful dismissal suits this government has filed against it. It is information that she has previously provided to us, so I can see no reason why we cannot have an update as to the number of wrongful dismissals.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Speaker, the Member repeatedly wishes to trumpet her ignorance before all Members of this Legislature, including you.
The fact of the matter is that labour relations issues are a responsibility of the Public Service Commission. That is the reason I will be bringing back the information the Member requests with respect to the numbers of lawsuits.
Last week, the Member asked a number of questions which were misdirected and ill-directed. Consequently, I had to set the Member straight.
I had to set the Member straight as well...
Speaker: Order, please. Will the Minister please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Certainly, Mr. Speaker. With respect to advertising, when she was making reference to the Minister of Government Services advertising contracts outside...
Speaker: Order, please. Will the Minister please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I will, but I am sorry you are not allowing me to respond directly to the rather vicious and untruthful barbs put forward by the Member for Riverdale South.
Question re: Immigration policy
Mr. Nordling: I do not think my question will be quite so controversial.
My question is to the Government Leader. I have been asking about economic activity under the new formula financing agreement. I am pleased that it will not slow this governments resolve to increase that activity. I was pleased to hear about the generous economic development agreement.
The concern I have heard recently is with respect to the Yukons apparent lack of participation in the immigration investors program or the business immigration program. To oversimplify, an immigrant can get into Canada by having $500,000 net worth and starting a business here. I would like to know what this governments position is with respect to that program.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member is wrong in his preamble when he says that he is not going to ask a controversial question. This program is proving to be extremely controversial in many places in the country for two main reasons.
First, it has been much criticized in the immigrant community as a policy that allows the rich and the haves to get into the country, but not the have-nots.
We have had two proposals that I know of, and other Ministers may know of others. The other provinces had some serious questions about the practices or performance of this program.
I know of one provincial jurisdiction that now has lawsuits against it, because it was alleged that certain promises were made to the entrepreneurial immigrants that were not fulfilled. When the investments went bad, there was a lot of bad feeling and a lot of litigation.
It is true that we have not been a participant in this program, but it is also true that ...
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will conclude by saying to the Member that it has proved to be a controversial program in some parts of the country and, for that reason, we have not been quick to get involved in it.
Mr. Nordling: I will use my supplementaries to let the Minister finish the story, by asking what became of the two proposals that did come to the territory?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The first one I saw during my time as Minister of Economic Development was very early in the life of our government, and we did not think it was a proposal we were particularly keen on. We were particularly unimpressed when the program brochure and material advertised that it had already been endorsed by the Government of Yukon, before we had even seen it.
The second one that came was a more recent proposal, about which discussions may still be ongoing.
Mr. Nordling: If discussions are still ongoing, does that mean that the Yukon government may participate in this program, or is the Government Leader saying that, because the program is controversial and there have been problems in other places, we just do not want anything to do with it?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I think it is more accurate to say we are proceeding with caution because of the controversy in other parts of the country.
Question re: F.H. Collins High School
Mr. Devries: I have a nice, non-controversial question for the Minister of Education.
Two years ago, the Department of Education instituted a two vice principal system in the F.H. Collins School. Has this system been instituted in any other schools in the Yukon, or is it based entirely on numbers?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I know of no other school in the Yukon, while I have been Minister, that has had two vice principals. It was instituted as an experiment in F.H. Collins, and I understand it is about to be terminated as an experiment.
Mr. Devries: Who made the decision to institute the two vice principal system at F.H. Collins? Was this made in full consultation with the school committee?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am not sure who specifically instituted it, because it goes back some time; I would have to check the records. I am presuming they would have discussed the matter with the school committee of the day - although, if it was very early on, the Member will appreciate the fact, as he was once a member of a school committee himself, that it was not normal departmental practice to discuss all operational matters with school committees. So, it could have been that the matter was not thoroughly discussed. Certainly, the most recent discussions respecting the administration of F.H. Collins, for example, have been discussed very thoroughly with the new school council.
Mr. Devries: Are there any positions open in other schools so one of these VPs could do a lateral transfer, providing it is approved by the school council?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I religiously try to stay away from personal matters of this nature. I understand from reports, after the fact, that were given to me by department officials that they are making every effort to ensure that realistic opportunities for all persons who may be displaced as result of the reversion back to a one-vice-principal system, but I am not able to comment further on the individual details that may pertain to the incumbents in those jobs.
Question re: Office accommodation
Mr. Phillips: I have a question for the Minister of Government Services. Several months ago, the previous Minister of Government Services announced that the Government of Yukon was going to rent office space in the new hotel/convention/office complex being built by the Champagne/Aishihik Indian Band. As of this date, no activity has taken place on the new site and it is about six months past planned initial construction. I would like to ask the Minister how this late start will affect the planned move of several government departments into this facility and others?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have asked the Department of Government Services to have the situation examined, both with the representatives from Dakwakada or Taga Ku, or whatever name the company operates by, as well as discuss the situation with Northwestel Inc., another major user, to determine what the actual status of the project is. I personally have not been informed that the occupancy will be delayed by six months, but I am having the matter checked because I am aware that there have been delays and I want the situation thoroughly investigated.
Mr. Phillips: The Department of Renewable Resources was one of the departments that was scheduled to move in to the new facility and the concern has been raised that the existing lab that is connected with the department will be moved to that new facility as well. Can the Minister tell the House if they intend to move the renewable resources lab to the new hotel/convention centre complex?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There are discussions under way regarding retaining lab space at the Burns Road building as an alternative to moving the labs to the office building. That may be the case, but no decisions have been made. There may be other alternatives to explore and we will be exploring all of those alternatives to determine what is the best course of action.
Mr. Phillips: I think that might be a wise move. With numerous cadavers arriving in the back of pick-ups at a first class hotel, some tourists looking out their window may become a little nervous about what they are going to have for lunch if they see an old dead moose arriving through the back door. I think that people may get concerned over that.
I would like to ask the Minister, since they are contemplating not putting the lab in that facility, what other department are they going to be putting there to take up the space vacated if the lab is not there?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We would not want tourists who are paying premium rates to consider the dead moose carcasses as their substitution for country foods. We will be looking at the office space requirements in our analysis of Renewable Resources needs to determine what may be left vacant by the absence of the lab space.
Once we are in a better position to know, I will be in a better position to tell Members what the office space plan will be.
Speaker: The time of Question Period has now lapsed. We will now proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Bill No. 46: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 46, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Webster.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I move that Bill No. 46, entitled An Act to Amend the Parks Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Renewable Resources that Bill No. 46, entitled An Act to Amend the Parks Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am pleased to present the second reading of Bill No. 46, An Act to Amend the Parks Act. The amendments contained in this bill are a direct response to public pleas for action against vandalism and rowdyism in our parks and campgrounds. I am sure that all Members have read the headlines about late night parties and the damage to public property that sometimes results.
I suspect most of us have neighbours, friends, or visitors who have had to pack up in the middle of the night and leave campgrounds because of the noise. Members may also have read the news story a few weeks ago about a bush party at Kookatsoon Lake that resulted in serious damage. This is not an isolated incident.
Last year, similar destructive parties were held in public campgrounds at Marsh Lake, Wolf Creek, Fox Lake, Five Mile Lake near Mayo, Pine Lake beside Haines Junction, and Johnson Lake at Faro. In each of these cases, damage to public property resulted.
Both the Ministers of Tourism and Renewable Resources have received letters and suggestions from tourists, individual Yukoners and communities requesting that steps be taken to reduce the amount of rowdyism in our parks.
The Silver Trail Association has written to me with concerns about the number of parties at Five Mile Lake campground and the effect these parties have on local tourism. The Mayor of Dawson sent a letter to me following the Discovery Day weekend last August, and expressed the view that the Parks Act must be amended to provide park officers the authority to deal with rowdy individuals and groups.
Every year, I hear from residents along Army Beach, complaining of the late night drinking parties, the loud noise, and the damage to both private and public property.
These amendments address two key principles. The first is public safety, and the second is security. Yukoners, and visitors to the Yukon, should be able to use our campgrounds in comfort and safety. They should not have to endure all-night parties, noise, abusive behaviour and vehicles racing through the campgrounds.
Loud music, loud voices and breaking bottles do little to entice tourists to stay and enjoy what the Yukon has to offer. Damage that results from these parties cost money to repair. The costs can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand. This is money that would be better invested in improving our facilities and our public services rather than making emergency repairs. It is also taxpayers money. Taxpayers want their investments protected. They do not want to pay for the same picnic table two or three times.
The amendments to the Parks Act will provide parks officers with the tools to deal with objectionable behaviour and establish basic rules for conduct within parks and campgrounds. Specifically, the amendments will provide park officers with the ability to evict persons whom the officer believes have committed an offense or interfered with the enjoyment of others.
Park officers will also be able to arrest persons who cause disturbances and conduct searches of vehicles, buildings or other places where there are reasonable grounds to believe they contain illicit items. The amendments also provide officers with the power to seize evidence. Other sections deal with illegal entry into parks or campgrounds, the illegal use of liquor and park permits.
Finally, a few sections are amended, which are housekeeping changes, to ensure that the wording of sections is constitutionally correct and complies fully with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
At the recent Kookatsoon party, the most disquieting piece of vandalism was a sign defaced with the wording, First bush party of the year. I trust these amendments will ensure that it is the last destructive bush party in a Yukon campground or day use area.
Mr. Lang: This side of the House supports the principles of the bill before us. We recognize that there is a major problem encountered by the Department of Renewable Resources and primarily those involved in the parks branch of the department. Difficulties exist with the parks officers as well as the RCMP in trying to enforce any laws applying to these parties.
The unfortunate aspect of this is that the people who are using the campground are generally from outside the territory. Those who are abusing it are generally local people. That is the unfortunate aspect of this.
I feel very strongly that these offenders should be dealt with quickly. They should be dealt with in such a manner that they do not forget the offense that they have committed. If they vandalize and abuse public campgrounds for which the taxpayers of this territory have paid, part of the sentence, if proven, should be that they have to go in at their own expense and replace or fix it.
Too often, in our criminal justice system, we are so concerned about rehabilitating the criminal, we forget about those who have been victimized. I feel that the judicial system and the court system should seriously look at this type of decision being met by the court when there has been serious abuse of our campgrounds.
Situations such as this do have an effect on our tourism industry. It is very difficult to encourage people to come back or have them tell their friends to come here if they have experienced a situation like the Minister has described, where they could not enjoy camping in the territory after having paid for that right.
We have some technical questions on the bill, perhaps more toward the offence section, to see whether or not that type of principle could be put into the bill so that courts can at least consider handing down those types of sentences to persons found guilty of abusing our public campgrounds.
Speaker: The Hon. Member will close debate if he now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I want to thank the Member opposite for his remarks and his support for the principle of this bill.
The Member is quite correct. The prime abusers of our campgrounds and parks, those creating the conditions that law-abiding citizens have to live with, are local people. They are people out looking for a good time on weekends or after the bars close at 2 a.m.
I also agree with the assessment by the Member opposite that the courts hopefully will deal severely with these offenders and that they do consider restitution in the form of repairing and replacing damaged materials. We have heard many complaints from tourists and Yukoners alike. It is starting to have an adverse effect on the use of our campgrounds to the point that we are noticing that we are not getting the kind of use from our campgrounds that we anticipated. That, of course, has an effect on revenues, which are used to improve those facilities. It is getting to be a very serious problem. This is the reason for the amendment to the Parks Act coming forward at this time.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 46 agreed to
Bill No. 27: Third Reading
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 27, standing in the name of the Hon. Ms. Joe.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I move that Bill No. 27, entitled An Act To Amend The Occupational Health And Safety Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Minister of Justice that Bill No. 27, entitled An Act To Amend The Occupational Health And Safety Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 27 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 27 has passed this House.
Bill No. 79: Third Reading
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 79, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Webster.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I move that Bill No. 79, entitled An Act To Amend The Pounds Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Minister of Renewable Resources that Bill No. 79, entitled An Act To Amend The Pounds Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 79 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 79 has passed this House.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Chair: It has been moved by the Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call the Committee of the Whole to order and declare a brief recess.
Bill No. 46 - An Act to Amend the Parks Act
Chair: The Committee of the Whole will now come to order. We are on Bill No. 46, An Act to Amend the Parks Act.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I just wanted to start off general debate on this act bringing to your attention an example that proves how serious this problem is. Around May 3, 1991, we had six picnic tables stolen from the Fox Lake Campground. We received a report from the RCMP that there were big bush parties in a gravel pit not far from Fox Lake that involved up to as many as 400 kids. It was reported that some of the parents of these kids were driving them to the party and dropping them off. At the pit we found the remains of the six picnic tables that were stolen from the Fox Lake Campground, which cost the taxpayer $1500. They had burned the picnic tables and all that was left were the bolts.
Mr. Lang: I think that there is a broader question here. Maybe the Minister of Justice wants to take part in this debate to some degree. I know that there are these bush parties taking place. Kids as young as Grade 9, maybe Grade 8 - we are talking about as young as 14 years of age - are going to these bush parties.
I think that is of some concern to Members of the House. The Minister of Health and Social Services brought before this House the results of a survey that I believe to be fairly accurate. I have no trouble believing the numbers and statistics that are contained within that document. My concern is the young people themselves, and also the fact that there is a lot of pressure on those kids who do go with the kids that are involved in these bush parties.
There is real peer pressure if the parents are taking their parental responsibilities seriously by saying that their children will not attend things of this nature. The kids that do not take part in these bush parties are seen to be outside the acceptable social circles within the school system. I do not know how it applies outside of Whitehorse; perhaps some other Members can tell me.
I do know from experience that this is the case.
I find it amazing that five picnic tables can suddenly disappear and all that is left is a handful of nuts and bolts.
I would like to ask the Minister of Justice what steps her department is taking and what discussions she has had with the RCMP in seeing how these bush parties can be limited and policed so that at least those kids who are under age are not present in situations of this kind.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I have not had recent discussions with the RCMP in regard to this problem but I have had discussions in the past. One of the things that I was told is that the children these days are getting a little bit more sophisticated in the manner in which they have these parties and where they are held. It is a known fact that the kids announce that a party will be held in a certain place and then they end up having it at another location.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Ms. Joe: The Member asked a question and the Member for Riverdale South is sitting there giggling about something.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Ms. Joe: The Member for Riverdale South says it is the oldest trick in the book so I guess she is aware of it.
The discussions, as I said, are ongoing. Sometimes the RCMP are able to find out where those parties are. Last year, as the Member for Porter Creek East knows, there were some cases where some of those parties were raided by the RCMP when they knew ahead of time where the parties were going to be. Some arrests were made. The concern is there again this year, now that the weather is getting better. It is a concern that I share along with other Members in this House.
Mr. Lang: The Ministers description of what goes on is, in part, accurate. I know, and anyone else who has been around the community for any length of time knows, that, in most cases, toward the middle of Friday or Saturday evening these events are taking place and the RCMP have a pretty good idea of that. There are not that many roads one can go along to a destination point of that kind, to start with.
I am asking the Minister if she would undertake, in view of what the Minister of Renewable Resources has provided us with today - that was only May 3; it was only two weeks ago that this party took place with 400 participants - it almost sounds to me like we should provide busing - in the next week or so, to meet with the top people in the RCMP and stress how important we see this situation becoming. We know that in the next two months there will be more of it. If they would step up their enforcement, we could do something to at least keep it to a minimum.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I will undertake that. I have done it in the past. I have met with Inspectors Guilholme and Henderson. We have talked about this very same thing. I have not met with them for a while. Certainly it is a part of my responsibility. I will talk to them again about it now that the weather is getting better and find out exactly what plan they may have to reduce the numbers of children attending these parties.
Mr. Lang: I just want to pursue this a little further. I appreciate the commitment from the Minister on this. I think there is a common cause here. I would ask the Minister if she will also correspond with me and other Members in writing about the results of her meeting, if we happen not to be in session.
Hon. Ms. Joe: Yes, I will make that commitment.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I want to remind the Members that we are not only talking about children here. It does remind me about the campaign to force parents to ask the question of themselves, Where are your children?, which I think should be revived. There are many adults there.
The people who have just finished a bit of a party, or are in a good mood following the closure of one of the local hotels, will go out with their case of beer - and they can buy off-sales - to the campgrounds near town where they can continue. We have also heard a number of reports about members of construction work crews - not Community and Transportation Services crews - who are in a community working on a road, or doing some building for a number of weeks and will hold a special evening and select the local campground in which to conduct their activities.
I want to stress that it is not just children we are dealing with here.
Mr. Lang: I realize that, but the Minister was the one who raised it in his opening comments about the last festivities that took place. I also wanted to bring it to the Houses attention, as it has been brought to my attention, as an MLA. The other aspect is that there is a mix of the adults and minors, which is an offence in itself if liquor is being provided. I am saying to the Minister that that should be enforced.
I agree that there are adults involved. I think that goes back to the principle we spoke of earlier in respect to the lack of the offence section in here.
I think we should be writing into the law that we would like to see the judge take into consideration restitution or repair of the damage that has been done, along with the penalty that goes with the vandalism.
Hon. Mr. Webster: In the Parks Act, as the Member knows, sections 20(1), 20(2) and 20(3) deal with offences. Persons are liable, on summary conviction, to fines from $2,000 to $25,000. That provision is already in the act, but this Act to Amend the Parks Act does not deal with that section.
With respect to the Members question about the courts ordering restitution for repairs or replacement of the damaged facilities, I think that is something for the courts to decide and, of course, some decisions are taking those options into account where people who commit an offence do certain work to replace the damaged equipment.
Mr. Lang: My purpose in raising the question is: why do we not specifically write into the legislation that a judge should consider this type of sentencing when a case is brought before the court? Sometimes, we leave it so general. We think that the court is the end-all and be-all and they know everything. It is the political will of this House that is going to determine what the offence section is going to be. I realize the offence section is not in the amending bill before us, but the Parks Act is open with the fact that this amending bill is before us.
Would the Minister consider bringing forward an amendment that would reflect his concern? Obviously, he agrees with us; I have spoken to it and I know the Member for Kluane is going to speak about it.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Sections 20(2) and 20(3) of the act, right now, state very clearly that the Executive Council Member may cause it to be restored or repaired - the Executive Council Member may take action to recover the cost of the restoration or repair - from the person who caused the destruction. It is already written in the act.
Mr. Lang: I realize it is written in the act. I may be wrong and stand to be corrected, but that does not necessarily mean the judge is going to follow that instruction. It is the Executive Council Member.
Hon. Mr. Webster: All I can say is that we have already written in section 20(2) and section 20(3) of the act that by civil action we can require the person to make restitution. I think the Member is asking for something more; I will have to take that under advice.
Mr. Lang: I would appreciate it if he would. Perhaps he could see if an additional section could be written in to make it clear. I think we should not let this opportunity slide by. We see the consequences that the Minister provided here in the form of nuts and bolts from five tables. I think that is unacceptable and if our law enforcement officers find out who has done it and, it is proven beyond a doubt that they have done it, it should be a requirement that they have to go out and rebuild or pay restitution of these things. Going to civil litigations is just another job for a lawyer here, as far as I can make out.
Mr. Brewster: I am not going to take very long. I guess I have learned one lesson, and that is how long it takes legislation to come through. I can recall two and one-half or three years ago the town council in Haines Junction, the police and the Deputy Minister, Mr. Klassen, met about this very same thing, which is absolutely ridiculous. My understanding was, at that time, that the police did not have authority to do to much unless there was some property damage. They, of course, were being blamed by all the mothers and fathers there and finally I suggested that they name some of the names, because I know all these scallywags. I have been there many, many years and I brought a lot of them up. Some people in the conference, the mothers and dads, were rather shocked with the names of the boys and girls mentioned. I think that one of the problems - and I understand why they did this, and maybe it was not a good deal - was the fact that we put in the campgrounds an area for local residents. I realize what we were trying to do but all I said at that time, and I will say it again, I told you so. You are going to have a bunch of drunks down there. Tourists and local people in fun and play do not mix.
Tourists leave early in the morning, travel, sleep and go. The scallywags come in at two or three oclock in the morning. They can hardly walk; they crawl out of vehicles and smash beer bottles.
I heard the Minister make a statement that the crews are doing this; once again, we are not facing facts. The local residents are also responsible. I am sick and tired of crews being blamed for every incident. Undoubtedly the crews are involved in some instances, there is no question there. However, it is the local orangutans who cause the problems.
I am not going to continue with stories of guns being pulled at Pine Lake - and I live less than a half mile away from it. I am not going to go on and tell you about the people coming to my place crying, in the middle of the night to use the phone, trying to find police because there is no phone at the campground.
These people cannot sleep, because these scallywags are running around with speakers blaring on their fancy stereos - I do not know what you call these new hysterical things that scream, yell and holler - and this goes on all night, night after night.
There have been tourists who have actually pulled guns on these people because they were scared. Some of these tourists are Americans who are used to gangsters all around them and all of a sudden they go into a peaceful camp and these gangs start running around.
It has taken us two and one-half years to get this legislation. Just the other day, the gate was knocked down out there and the cement post was also knocked over. I did not pick it up, because I would suspect it is 250 to 300 pounds. That was not knocked down with a car; someone deliberately knocked it down with a dump truck or something. The gate was smashed to pieces and because there was damage done, the RCMP said that could react this time because damage had been done.
The police are completely frustrated; they are called upon to attend, and they cannot do anything. This bill will give them the right to take action.
The other thing that we have to take into consideration is the mess that is made every weekend and all summer long. The campground attendants have to go in the next day and clean up the campgrounds. Then the department wants to know why they are putting in so many hours, because they are only allowed so many. The reason that they have so many hours is because they are cleaning up for the people who did not pay a cent to be in that campground; they go over to the local campground and start partying. We as taxpayers have to pay to have their mess cleaned up. It is real nice to go out and have a bush party when someone will come around the next day and clean it all up for you. It would be perfect; why would we not all do it?
I think one of the biggest problems is that there are not enough penalties in here. The other big problem is to make judges enforce this legislation. I think that from now on, legislation should not say that a judge may do this but rather it should say he shall do this and start cleaning these campsites up. What is the point of the RCMP arresting these same people every weekend?
The justices of the peace let them go again. I would like to know how many have actually been fined for rowdyness in the campground. I do not know the figures. I would be interested in that. How many of them received a fine from any JP for being rowdy in a campground?
Until the judges start handing down the maximum penalty, we are going to have this problem. I hear some people saying that they are young people and have to have a good time. Believe it or not, I was a young person once. I was not an angel, but I paid the penalties for my stupid mistakes. We did not have all these laws protecting me when I was 12 and 14. I got rapped around for it and I believe I am a better man for it. I realized how stupid it was.
It is about time we start making some of these young people smarten up. They actually come out after the JP has talked to them and laugh at the policemen. They tell them that they cannot do anything to them and that they will be there again. It is about time we have laws that will tell people what is going to be done. If it means cleaning up the campgrounds, everyone in the town should be notified so that they can stand there and watch.
I really realize now how long it takes legislation to come. It has been two and one-half years now. We have lost a lot of tourists over this. A lot of tourists have left that area. They talk to me. I live right there. The other reason they continually come to me is for water. The million dollar well does not work half the time, so they take the water out of my tap.
Anyway, I will support this bill all the way. I am quite sure that we will on this side.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I want to thank the Member for his comments. Many times in this Legislature he has raised concerns about improper use - infrequently, by tourists, but certainly by locals - of the campgrounds. He should know, as he lives very close to the Pine Lake Campground. I know he has been a good fellow in the past and even provided some water for some people when it was not available.
I agree with him that these amendments are long overdue. We have recognized this problem for quite a long time. The situation is deteriorating. Obviously, this amendment has been brought forward at this time for that reason.
As we began this conversation, we have acknowledged that they are local people, Yukoners, doing this. In the example he just cited about someone knocking down the fence at the Pine Lake Campground, if the police do catch that person, he or she will be fined and ordered to pay restitution.
I agree with his comments as well, about the courts possibly being too lenient and not providing a sentence equal to the crime committed. He has asked me if I could report back to him about how many people have been charged for committing offenses in campgrounds over the last two years. I will endeavor to do that for him.
I know of one example in Dawson City last year, at the Yukon River Campground; 13 people were arrested for a variety of infractions.
For those 13 people, the total fines amounted to slightly over $1,000, which I do not think is sufficient, either. I wanted to mention to the Member that I agree with all he has mentioned in his remarks, and I am very pleased to hear he is supporting this bill.
Mr. Lang: As the Minister can see, there is no real difference of opinion about this act.
Because it would be after hours when these types of festivities generally take place and, in most cases, on Friday or Saturday night, what consultation has the Minister had with the RCMP on this bill? Second, have they made a commitment that they will be doing regular and consistent patrols, specifically on Friday and Saturday nights, over the course of the coming year while the campgrounds are open?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am pleased to report that we have had extensive consultations with the RCMP, who wanted to have more power to enforce the Parks Act. Under this amendment, RCMP officers will be appointed park officers. We do have the advantage that we do know when these parties are going to take place, where they are going to be taking place - in our campgrounds - and we also know there is a rash of them at certain times of the year, particularly on holiday weekends. With that advantage, they have assured me that they will be out in force when this act is in place to prevent recurrences of this throughout the summer. We want to act swiftly and early.
Mr. Lang: I appreciate the fact the Minister has had consultation with the RCMP on this. Has he received a commitment from the RCMP that there will be consistent patrols over the course of the summer months ahead?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Not only will there be consistent patrols throughout the summer, but there will also be extra security on certain campgrounds that have established the reputation of being popular.
On Clause 1
Clause 1 agreed to
On Clause 2
Mr. Lang: With respect to the wording, ex officio a park officer, I was always under the impression that if we had designated in our legislation a peace officer or parks officer, automatically the RCMP have the same obligations and responsibilities as if we had hired our own officers. Obviously, that is not the case. Perhaps the Minister could clarify that for me.
The Minister is looking puzzled. The way that it has been described in the House thus far is that the RCMP do not have the right to go into a campground and exercise the prerogatives of a parks officer.
Why do we have to say in law - and this is a technical question, I guess - ex officio a park officer? I would have assumed that the RCMP would automatically have had those rights under our legislation.
Hon. Mr. Webster: This is a formal designation of additional authority for the RCMP to act as parks officers. According to Justice, the RCMP were not able to exercise that authority under the existing act. It is merely formalizing a new authority for the RCMP.
Clause 2 agreed to
On Clause 3
Mr. Lang: I have a general question concerning section 18.1(1)(d), ordering the person to stay out of the campground for 72 hours. I have no problem with that but, perhaps in the offence section, which the Minister has undertaken to review, we should also be providing the ability for a person to be suspended or ordered that they cannot go into another campground for a period of up to three, four or five years. This is similar to the situation where, for example, in the community of Haines or Skagway, if one does certain things, they can disallow your return for a period of time by reason of being classed as an undesirable.
Would the Minister undertake to look at that, recognizing this is the immediate situation we are dealing with, but to also include where charges and so on follow because of misbehaviour?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I agree with the Member and the fact that there should be some deterrent to individuals who are repeatedly requested to leave our campgrounds because they have created some infractions of the act and have abused their privileges. I will look into that possibility for the Member, as he suggested.
Mr. Lang: The Minister talks about or the regulations. I am concerned about how far the Minister intends to go when he talks about contravention of this act or the regulations. Does he see some substantial regulations being put into place because of this bill?
Hon. Mr. Webster: As the Parks Act is written at this time, regulations only apply to parks; they do not apply to campgrounds. In the amendment before us, this is basically a housekeeping matter whereby we are applying regulations to campgrounds.
To give an example, we do have a regulation concerning a maximum time of stay for someone at a site being 14 days, or two weeks. That really only applies to parks, although we do, of course, apply it to campgrounds right now.
Clause 3 agreed to
On Clause 4
Mr. Lang: I am on clause 4. What clause is the Chair on? It seems we are going very quickly, and it seems like we are just going through sections here.
Deputy Chair: We are in clause 4, dealing with clause 19.1 of the Parks Act.
Mr. Lang: That is fine. I would appreciate if we would go through each clause. I am getting a little confused at how fast we are going through the bill.
Mr. Lang: I would just like to go back to clause 19.2. I am a bit lost, but I am sure we can sort it out if we work together. I would like to speak to the question of power of seizure.
This is a very wide-open section. I notice that, in conjunction with clause 19.3, he shall forthwith go to the justice of the peace with an affidavit. I am just wondering if there should be a period of time up to a maximum amount that a person can hold some property? It is pretty loose at the end. If the officer decides to give it back, he can, but between clause 19.2 and 19.3, sometimes this property can be held for a long time. There should be a period of time where it has to be assessed or there be an appeal procedure available or something when the government has a certain object. This could include a vehicle, I would think. Is the Minister contemplating leaving this as wide open as it is in this legislation? I realize the justice of the peace makes the decision, but I am wondering how long this can go on. The powers here are fairly significant.
Hon. Mr. Webster: The amendment says that following the seizure, anything will be taken immediately to the justice of the peace who issued the warrant. At that time, it is the decision of the justice of the peace to determine how long the evidence is held.
Mr. Lang: I realize that. Our courts go so slow at times. Sometimes these cases seem to take forever. I realize in the section one can go from clause 19.2 to 19.4(1)(b), held as evidence pending the disposition of any proceedings. I am wondering if there should not be a maximum period of time so the judge would be forced to deal with it. It could be someones assets that are being held, such as a vehicle. This could have an effect on a person. I am not judging whether or not the person is guilty, but I am saying that it should be dealt with expeditiously.
I am wondering if the Minister has taken that into account. Is he contemplating something in the regulations along that line? Justice should be done in an expeditious manner. I do not know how this relates to the Summary Convictions Act. That is another question perhaps the Minister could explain to us.
Hon. Mr. Webster: The act says we are obligated to bring the seized item to the justice of the peace immediately. We are speaking of clause 19.4, Disposition by a justice of things seized. I do not think we are in a position anyway to restrain a judge in making his or her decision as to when things seized can be released, but there are some options obviously.
Mr. Brewster: I have a little problem with clause 19.4(2) where they can return the material. The same thing was in the wildlife management thing, and we asked a former justice of the peace why this was there and he said it was to save paperwork. For instance, we pointed out that if he decided to pick up some fishing equipment, he could return it when he wants. In other words, he may just have had a bad day - there is no check point. I hate paperwork; I would be the first to say I hate the sight of it, but this is the only check point we have for these conservation officers or police. Perhaps they have been out partying the night before and are just having a bad day. They have to justify why they seized that equipment, even if they turn the man loose. They have to justify the seizure to a justice of the peace, otherwise they have no check points. Am I reading this wrong?
Hon. Mr. Webster: All I can state again is that the justice of the peace has the control over the release of things seized. Maybe I can deal with clause 19.4 for a minute. I will go back to 19.3. The justice of the peace has the ability to return it immediately or to hold it as evidence or to give it back to the person and allow them to use it until a later date when it may be considered as evidence, et cetera. With respect to clause 19.3...
Mr. Brewster: It is 19.3(2) on page 4.
Hon. Mr. Webster: The park officer may return the thing to the person from whom it was seized before it is dealt with... In this particular situation, maybe a vehicle was seized because the person was too intoxicated to drive it the night before, maybe when the person was being ordered out of the campground. The vehicle could be returned the next day when the person is obviously no longer intoxicated.
Mr. Lang: I do not think the Member for Kluane is arguing that the officers have to immediately deal with the situation they are presented with. Sometimes, certain things have to be done and we do not disagree with that.
My concern is, for example, where the officer seizes a vehicle. Perhaps it is on a Friday night, and he is off duty Saturday and Sunday - first thing in the morning, he is gone fishing or on a sheep hunt. This particular vehicle is in his custody for the whole weekend, with no recourse to a JP or anyone else. I do not know if the Member for Kluane is, but I am prepared to accept the fact that the officer could perhaps seize something and return it, but it should be for a very short period of time, held no longer than, say, a maximum of 24 hours. This way, it forces the officer to deal with the question.
Here, it is very open-ended. This could go on for two weeks, the way this reads. Perhaps the Minister could tell us if we are reading this wrong, but it seems to me that this section should be a little tighter. If you are going to seize something for six hours, I can understand that common sense could be involved. However, once you get over 24 hours, I think it is fairly significant and should be dealt with by a justice of the peace.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Subsection (2) starts off by saying notwithstanding subsection (1). There is a requirement to take it forthwith to the justice of the peace. There may be situations, as the Member described, where the parks officer may return the item to the person before it is dealt with under subsection (1), such as in the case of the vehicle we are talking about right now.
I am not sure what this section means, but would the Minister entertain an amendment that would say that, when an officer seizes an article, it may not be held in that officers possession any longer than 24 hours? Our concern is that it is very open-ended. You could conceivably be sitting there for a whole weekend at the discretion of the officer. We recognize the common sense of this section, but we feel that there should be a time factor involved for the officer to make a decision within as to whether or not he or she is going to give the article back and, if they are not, then they are required to appear before the JP.
Would the Minister entertain bringing in an amendment? I think that a maximum of up to 24 hours seems to be a reasonable period of time.
Hon. Mr. Webster: What we are dealing with is a time frame involving the term forthwith. I would recommend to the Committee that we stand over this clause for consideration during the break, and deal with it at that time.
Clause 4 stood over
On Clause 5
Mr. Lang: Perhaps the Minister could explain this section to us. Is this just a wording situation that he is trying to clarify?
Hon. Mr. Webster: This is a housekeeping clause.
Clause 5 agreed to
On Clause 6
Mr. Lang: With respect to section 20.2, how are they going to go about designating areas where liquor can be consumed? This is a very broad statement. We are talking about the campsite or picnic site being designated.
If I go to a campground will there be a sign there that says I can drink over here but I cannot drink over there?
Hon. Mr. Webster: It seems to be the designated sites in a campground, either the camping sites themselves or the picnic areas down at the shelters. A good example would be the roads going through a campground. You would not be allowed to drink in that area.
Mr. Lang: It also says in accordance with a permit issued by a park officer. Are we talking about a day use area if one applies to have a function out in a campground?
Hon. Mr. Webster: That is exactly what the clause is there for. A permit would be required for large functions, like a Lions Club picnic, for example.
Clause 6 agreed to
On Clause 7
Clause 7 agreed to
On Clause 8
Clause 8 agreed to
Deputy Chair: We will break for a short recess.
Deputy Chair: I now call Committee back to order.
On Clause 4 - resumed
Hon. Mr. Webster: I would like to propose an amendment:
THAT Bill No. 46, entitled An Act to Amend the Parks Act, be amended in clause 4 on page 4 by, in section 19.3(2), adding after the phrase park officer may: , within twenty-four hours,.
Deputy Chair: It has been moved by the Hon. Minister of Renewable Resources
THAT Bill No. 46, entitled An Act to Amend the Parks Act, be amended in clause 4 at page 4 by, in 19.3(2), adding the following after the phrase park officer may: , within twenty-four hours,.
Deputy Chair: Is there any debate on the amendment?
Mr. Lang: I would like to speak to the amendment. I appreciate the Ministers looking at this and bringing forward the amendment. I think it meets what both I and the Member for Kluane raised as perhaps a technicality. However, legislation should be explicit and definitive in areas of this nature as far as the authority of a peace officer is concerned, as to what they can and cannot do. I appreciate the amendment.
Amendment agreed to
Clause 4 agreed to, as amended
Hon. Mr. Webster: As we are looking at possible additional amendments to this bill, we will ask Committee to report progress.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 20 - Environment Act
Deputy Chair: We will now proceed with Bill No. 20, entitled Environment Act.
Mr. Lang: I think that, prior to starting into general debate on the bill the Minister of Renewable Resources and I should sit down and go through areas we view as significant and see whether or not there is common ground. I propose that the Minister and I set a time tomorrow to meet and go over the bill. We will then get into general debate on the bill Monday. I will entertain a motion from the Minister of Government Services, as House Leader, and proceed accordingly.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Deputy Chair: It has been moved by the Hon. House Leader that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to Order. May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Joe: Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 46, An Act to Amend the Parks Act, and directed me to report progress on same.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of the Committee of the Whole. Are you Agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Salute to Sergeant-at-Arms
Mr. Lang: This will be the last day that the Sergeant-at-Arms will be participating in our proceedings, so I would like to convey my best wishes, as the senior Member of the House, to Frank Ursich on his retirement from the position of Sergeant-at-Arms.
I feel that I have some latitude in that regard, because Frank and I have spent many evenings together with the Midnight Sun Pipe Band.
I want to wish Frank and Peg all of the best. I understand that there is an open invitation to all Members of the House - collectively as a parliamentary delegation, or individually - to visit him at his southern estate and to entertain all of his neighbours.
All the best, Frank, and to Peg, as well. I am sure we will be seeing each other in the future.
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. Monday next.
The House adjourned at 4:55 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled May 23, 1991:
Yukon Alcohol and Drug Survey: Volume 1 Technical Report (May 1991) (Hayden)
The following Legislative Returns were tabled May 23, 1991:
Transboundary claims negotiations: none in progress with Kaska Dena or Taku River Tlingit (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 773
Financial implications of new Formula Financing Arrangements: 1990/91 to 1994/95 (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1068-1069