Tuesday, November 19, 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.
Tabling of Returns and Documents.
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Speaker: Under tabling returns and documents, I have three items for tabling. The first is the report of the Auditor General on the examination of financial statements of the Government of the Yukon for the year ended March 31, 1991. The second item is some correspondence respecting the Electoral District Boundaries Commission. The last is a report from the Clerk of the Assembly on deductions from the indemnities of Members of the Legislative Assembly made pursuant to subsection 39(6) of the Legislative Assembly Act.
Are there any further documents for tabling?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I have for tabling a workbook entitled, Reviewing the Ground Rules for the Yukon Workplace, dealing with the Employment Standards Act, including some options for change.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I have for tabling a legislative return.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have for tabling the Public Accounts 1990-91.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I have two legislative returns for tabling and I would also like to file the regulations and forms for the Mental Health Act.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have a legislative return for tabling.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Are there any Petitions?
Introduction of Bills.
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
Employment Standards Act Review
Hon. Ms. Joe: I rise today to inform the Members of this House that the public consultation process to revise the Employment Standards Act will take place over the next few months.
The Employment Standards Act sets the minimum standards for terms and conditions of employment in the Yukon. The act sets out the basic ground rules that employers and employees must follow. These rules provide minimum standards for many workplace issues, including hours of work, minimum wage, holidays and special leave.
Since the act was passed in 1985, there have been many changes to employment standards across Canada but there have been no major revisions in the Yukon. It is this governments policy to listen to Yukon employers and employees and we are ready to meet the need for change. These changes may include the relationship between overtime hours and seasonal employment - a major concern in this territory.
Yukoners may want to talk about improving termination provisions. They may want to discuss the introduction of new options to strengthen the employees position in the employer/employee relationship and they may feel provisions for parental leave should be incorporated to reflect current social trends.
Therefore, this review has two purposes: to allow my department to discuss with employers and employees as to what changes may be incorporated into a revised act and to consider other possible options for change that recognize the often unique nature of the Yukon workplace.
As part of the public review process, an option paper has been prepared. It is called Reviewing the Ground Rules for the Yukon Workplace. This paper has been drafted to assist the public in understanding what major issues are under review. For example, some of these issues include hours of work, overtime, maternity leave, special leave without pay, sick and bereavement leave, equal pay, holiday pay, vacations and payment of wages.
The option paper provides an overview of each section of the present act and the issues that have been identified regarding those sections. The paper also provides a comparison of what other jurisdictions are doing and presents some options for change.
The paper will be distributed to many workplaces and employment standards officers will visit Yukon communities during the review.
A copy of the paper has been tabled with the Clerk and additional copies are available.
I feel this review represents this governments continuing commitment to the principle of good government, a principle that recognizes public participation and consultation in this review process.
Mr. Phillips: We will look forward to reviewing the paper and we will be following the public process.
Major environmental initiatives
Hon. Mr. Webster: Today I rise to highlight the introduction of three initiatives that support the implementation of the Yukon Conservation Strategy and this governments policy of encouraging sustainable development. All three will help more people to work more effectively to maintain a healthy natural environment.
During the public consultation which developed the Yukon Environment Act, and in the Legislative debate which led to its passage, people repeatedly emphasized the importance of education and individual action on environmental matters.
The Youth Conservation Corps, the Yukon Environment Fund and the Environment Awareness Contribution Agreements are designed to improve understanding of environmental issues and provide people with the tools they need to help conserve the environment.
Over the last several years, the Department of Renewable Resources has helped to put into place several programs designed to make young people more aware of environmental issues. Two of these are Project Wild, which is offered at the elementary school level, and the Conservation Action Team, the environmental education summer camp, which is tailored to older students.
In 1992-1993, we will inaugurate a new program targeted at senior high school students. The Youth Conservation Corps will offer youth the possibility of summer work on environmental clean-up and enhancement projects, as well as an opportunity to learn more about environmental issues.
Examples of work students might do include garbage cleanup of campsites and recreation areas along Yukon rivers, work for community recycling groups, or habitat restoration and fish stocking with conservation organizations.
This program is not intended to be a government make-work project, but is designed to complement community-based environmental projects. The Department of Renewable Resources will provide participants with basic training and a basic wage, but non-governmental organizations and government branches will sponsor the specific projects on which students will work.
In this way, we hope to encourage community-based organizations to take on projects that limited volunteer help might otherwise make impossible, particularly during the summer months. We plan to fine tune the program to complement environmental projects which might be eligible for seed funding from the Conservation Strategy Demonstration Projects fund and support from the Federal Government Environmental Partners fund.
For several years now this Government has encouraged community involvement in environmental action through the Yukon Conservation Strategy Demonstration Projects Program. This program has assisted dozens of community-based projects that demonstrate the possibility of effective environmental action. A couple of local examples are the Whitehorse Recycling Centre and ROTS composting project.
Each year that this program has operated, there have been more projects proposed than there were funds to assist them. For that reason, and to ensure a permanent endowment to support community environmental initiative, $2 million will be invested in the Yukon Environment Fund over the next four years. Five hundred thousand dollars will be placed in the fund in this budget year.
Each year, the interest earned from the fund will be used to support sustainable development and environmental protection projects. Over time, we hope to see the fund grow through private sector contributions and revenues from other sources.
Although this government has done much to encourage discussion and awareness of environmental issues through public consultation and environmental awareness campaigns, through projects assisted by the Yukon Conservation Strategy Demonstration Projects fund, and through environmental components in the public school curriculum, we recognize that non-governmental community organizations may, in many cases, be more effective communicators of environmental messages.
For that reason, $40,000 has been set aside for Environmental Awareness Contribution Agreements with three principle, non-government conservation organizations in the Yukon. These funds will assist the Yukon Fish and Game Association, the Yukon Conservation Society and the Yukon Trappers Association to educate the public on the importance of individual environmental awareness and action.
We believe that the programs that I have outlined today will help more people to become effectively involved in enhancing the Yukons environment. We also hope that, through involvement and hands-on environmental projects supported by these programs, individuals will learn to make the environment a significant factor in their day-to-day decision-making.
Mr. Phillips: We received the announcement today in a positive vein, but it would be a little more positive if there was something in the announcement about a year-round anti-litter program, which the government was still talking about doing a long time ago.
I would like to also know if the government intends to join the national pitch-in program. I know it was examining that at one time. Some of the other provinces are part of that national clean-up program. It would be nice to see the Yukon take part in that, as part of this announcement.
We have a little bit of concern with the environmental courses and with what they teach at these courses. I would like to see an outline of the new courses that are going to be available for the higher grade students, if the Minister could provide them. We would like to see a balanced approach to the environment, with emphasis on the wise use of our natural resources. I would be interested in seeing that outline, when it is available.
Mr. Webster: I thank the side opposite for their positive approach to todays announcement. As to the Members comments concerning a year-round anti-litter program and possible Yukon participation in the national pitch-in program, all I can say is stay tuned for further budget details that will assist in that regard. We, in conjunction with the private sector and non-governmental organizations, can work effectively together to do a better job in cleaning up the Yukon environment.
I will be pleased to provide the information regarding the course outlines that the Member has requested.
Speaker: This, then, brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Curragh Resources Mine
Mr. Lang: I would like to turn the attention of all Members to an issue that is causing some uncertainty in our economy: the question of the future of the mine at Faro - Curragh Resources. It is no secret that, over the past few months, the long term future of the Curragh mine has been questioned, not only locally but in a number of outside financial reports as well.
Last week, I had the opportunity to go to Faro and I am told that every day a new rumour circulates around the town and up at the mine site about the possibility of a mine closure. That rumour, I am sure, is one that is very difficult for the people in Faro as well as other people in the Yukon to accept.
I would like to direct my question to the Government Leader. Could he give us an update on the status of the mine and its future?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The future of the mine at Faro is obviously of great concern for us. When this government was first elected, we worked very, very hard to get that mine back into production and it has become a cornerstone of the private sector in this territory.
As I have indicated in a number of speeches, and have had occasion to discuss with both the chair of the board, the president and other directors of the company, we remain very concerned about a combination factors: low base metal prices and an artificially high Canadian dollar. We indicated this concern in our budget speech.
The budget speech, the Member opposite will recall, predicts that there may be some relief in terms of base metal prices in the next year. We cannot be that confident about the exchange rate.
I think the Member should know that my colleague, the Minister of Economic Development, is in constant communication with the company, and I am in fairly regular conversation with them myself. A number of scenarios have been discussed with those officials, which I am not at liberty to discuss - and in fact I have been asked deliberately not to discuss them publicly.
But, in answer to the question, we are concerned about the situation, although we are, in the long run, very optimistic about that companys prospects for both of its mining properties in the territory and the long term future of the company as it begins to develop the ore bodies on the Van Gorder plateau.
Mr. Lang: Perhaps I could direct my supplementary to the Minister of Economic Development. As we all know, there have been some cost-cutting measures taken by the company. When I was in Faro last week, it was brought to my attention a number of times, that the management had had a meeting with the union and asked the membership or the workforce to forego a number of the benefits of their collective agreement. Could the Minister of Economic Development tell me whether or not he is aware of that?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am aware of the request put to the steelworkers by the company.
Mr. Lang: Obviously, one of the major cornerstones of the future of the mine is the question of the development of the Van Gorder anomaly, which initially, is in need of an overburden stripping project. I understand that Curragh Resources is doing everything they possibly can to secure financing for that particular project. Could the Minister tell the House how well Curragh is doing in securing the necessary financing?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: What the Member is describing is the efforts of Curragh Resources to raise some $30 million to finance the Van Gorder stripping program, in preparation for continued supply to the mill. As indicated by the Premier, I can tell the Member that we are in constant and regular communication with officials of Curragh, respecting not just the raising of the financing for the stripping program, but in matters relating to the current production at Faro.
The company is indeed attempting to utilize the convertible debenture that currently rests on the Westray Coal Mine in Nova Scotia, as part of the mortgage financing for the new issue of shares. It is premature to describe the success of that effort; it is currently ongoing and every effort is being made to provide that source of funding.
Question re: Curragh Resources Mine
Mr. Lang: The Government Leader spoke of a number of scenarios that he was not in a position to disclose to the Members of this House, but I would like to ask the Minister of Economic Development whether or not the federal government or the Government of the Yukon have been approached to assist in the financing of this particular project.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It would be inappropriate to describe discussions that have taken place between company officials and members of this government; however, suffice it to say that Curragh Resources is currently exploring every option that it can in securing the financing. No formal approach has been made to this government to provide that financing.
Mr. Lang: Can the Minister tell us if the federal government has been approached to assist in this particular project?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: By virtue of efforts to utilize a convertible debenture that currently rests on the assets of Westray Coal in Nova Scotia, the federal government is involved, due to the security provided by the federal government on that debenture. The short answer to the Members question is yes; the federal government is also intimately involved in the financing efforts of Curragh Resources.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister give the House some indication of what time estimate we are looking at as to when we will learn whether or not the financing has been secured for that particular part of the mining program in Faro?
I think that it is important that we have some idea of what time frame we are looking at because of the unsettling situation in the community of Faro, and in some quarters throughout the territory.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can reassure the Member that we on this side of the House are concerned about the matter, particularly with respect to financing preparations for continued production.
With respect to the time frame, I would venture to say that it would be quite critical that financing for the continued stripping on the Van Gorder Plateau be put in place within the next few months in order to avoid a very apparent operational dilemma that may face the company. The current ore reserve that is located in the grum deposit will run out sometime in the course of the next year to 18 months. It would be critical to find a new supply, and the stripping would have to be undertaken well in advance of that time, in readiness for a new source of supply.
Question re: Visitor reception centre in Whitehorse
Mr. Phillips: My question is for the Minister of Tourism. Yesterday, the Minister informed this House that the cost of the Whitehorse Visitors Reception Centre rose a whopping 31 percent from last years estimates. The additional $400,000 on top of the $1.3 million facility was for exterior stonework, a sprinkler system, a new basement for storage and an improved mechanical room. The taxpayers paid $350,000 for the design work on this building. I would have thought that almost all of these items, especially the sprinkler system, would have been included in the original design.
I would like to ask the Minister why these significant changes were not included in that original design?
Hon. Mr. Webster: As I tried to explain yesterday, the changes were made when the results came back on the analysis of the soils in the area. These results required a foundation to be built and the instalation of the basement. When that was decided, we looked at making the basement large enough for a storage area to handle all the materials. That, in turn, required a lift for the materials to be raised from the basement to the surface area and also enabled us to put the mechanical room in the basement as well, thus freeing up more space in the building itself to better serve the public.
All those changes were as a result of the soil testing and, of course, involved extra cost to the design work, as well. That accounts for the increased cost of the building.
Mr. Phillips: This is just a meagre $400,000 change, which amounts to 31 percent of the total cost. It is pretty significant.
How did the facility go to tender, prior to somebody discovering the need to add some more basement storage? If the basement storage area was needed in the first place, was it not in the original design?
Hon. Mr. Webster: It was not in the original design because, at that time, we did not have the results of the analysis. All the design changes were made prior to letting the contract go out to tender, which is not the assumption the Member opposite has made.
I want to assure him that all the changes were made prior to it going out to tender, and the people who bid on the project were fully aware that this was the new, revised design.
Mr. Phillips: Did the Minister follow all the procedures, as set out in the recommendations by the Public Accounts Committee in May 1988, respecting project management procedures?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Yes, all the procedures and guidelines were followed. Government Services, who handled the tender provisions of this particular contract, ensured that.
Question re: Government building replacement
Mr. Devries: During the past month, I have had several concerns raised regarding government contracts. Can the Minister of Government Services tell me if this government has a policy in place that reviews client department requests on whether buildings should be renovated or replaced? Who makes the decision?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The question is a very general one in nature so, by necessity, I will have to give a very general answer. The final decision as to whether or not a building is replaced, expanded or renovated rests with the line department, the department that is responsible for the building.
Mr. Devries: In August 1991, the government tendered the construction of a new weigh scale shack in Watson Lake. The lowest bid was $260,000, which was a full $110,000 above the budget for the project of $150,000. Could the Minister of Community and Transportation Services explain why this was allowed to happen?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not entirely familiar with the details surrounding the specific building issue raised by the Member. I can only undertake to research the matter and return to him with the information.
Mr. Devries: I am mildly surprised that the Minister did not know anything about it.
This building plan was so over-speced that the mechanical and the counters accounted for $90,000 of the proposed $150,000. How could the Ministers department put out a tender, taking up the time of both government employees and potential contractors, knowing that there was no way that the tender could ever be accepted, with only a $150,000 budget?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member puts the question in the form of an allegation. I cannot add much information at this time. I do recall discussion of the item during budget debates about a year ago, and it seems to me that the figure budgeted was closer to $150,000 than $100,000; but I stand to be corrected. I do not know what has occurred in the interim and I can only undertake, in the context of the Members questions, to provide full information in writing to the Member.
Question re: Government building replacement
Mr. Devries: Now my understanding is that this project has been put on the back burner and they are renovating the existing building. Could the Minister perhaps table how much the renovations to the existing building are going to cost?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I respond in the affirmative, if that is indeed the case. I take it the Member is talking about the weigh station at Watson Lake. The Member is nodding in the affirmative. I will undertake to provide him with information, as requested.
Question re: Department of Government Services mandate review
Mrs. Firth: Last week I asked the Minister of Government Services to table the terms of reference for the mandate review of the Department of Government Services. I was asking for the documents. The Minister answered that he would do so. What I have been given is a one-page response. It is a response to the question and not what the Minister said he would do. I have asked the Minister of Community and Transportation Services for mandate reviews and I have it here in my hand. He has provided me with the whole mandate review, with the background, objectives and so on.
I would like to ask the Minister of Government Services if he will table the document this afternoon and not some Readers Digest condensed version so that we could have it. I am sure it will take a lot less time and effort than it did for the person who had to draw up that response.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I regard the criticism as being unfair. I did indicate to the Members that I would table what the mandate review was about. I did do that. The legislative return, even though it is a condensed version, is entirely accurate. I am more than happy to table further documents and the documents that may have been transmitted to the contractor, if that is what the Members wish. I would have no problem doing that. There has been no attempt, whatsoever, to hold that information back at any time by me or by my staff.
Mrs. Firth: I was very specific. I asked for the mandate review, not for what it was about. I am not criticizing the Minister. I am just saying that he was very positive and agreed to table the mandate. Could we have that whole mandate this afternoon?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Again, even though the Member tried to soften the criticism somewhat, it remains unfair. I understood the Member to request information respecting the terms of reference for the contractor who is doing the mandate review. I provided that information, I believe, truthfully, in the legislative return. I have indicated that I will undertake to provide precise documents for this Legislature. I cannot promise it this afternoon - I have to be here this afternoon - but, I will table it as soon as I can.
Question re: Hazardous waste storage
Mr. Nordling: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services with respect to hazardous waste storage.
In 1985, Environment Canada told this government they had a problem with storage of hazardous wastes. In 1986, the government formed a committee to look into a storage site. In 1987, the Department of Renewable Resources was going to draft legislation for the management of waste and hazardous waste disposal. In April, 1989, the Minister did not know anything about his committee. Then, in November, 1989, the Minister changed the name from hazardous waste to special wastes and set up a committee comprised of 14 Yukoners, chaired by Ione Christensen. In August 1991, after two years of numerous hearings and costly studies, recommendations were presented to the Minister. It is now November 1991. I would like the Minister to tell us why he is keeping the recommendations of that special waste storage committee a secret.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have answered a similar question from another Member of the side opposite just last week, I believe.
The details surrounding this governments intentions on a hazardous or special waste facility will be announced very shortly. The Member is correct in saying that the committee was struck approximately two years ago, when I first became Minister, to address the question of site selection. That committee has done a masterful job of revealing the complexity of the issue. They have participated in public forums throughout most Yukon communities, and have participated tremendously in educating the public to a better awareness of the myths and facts surrounding special and hazardous waste.
Indeed, that committee has recently provided me with a recommendation for a site selection. The final site selection will be made shortly. I will be sharing with all Members of the House this governments intentions with respect to the final selection and construction of the facility. It is still our intention to have the facility in place next year.
Mr. Nordling: I would like to ask the Minister if he will table the recommendation of the committee so that we can all review the masterful job that they have done in choosing the site for the hazardous waste facility.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can probably do better than that. It is not only my intention to table the recommendations, but also to provide to Members a summarized version of the committees findings, as a result the committees two-year study.
The matter of a hazardous waste facility is not something that should be treated lightly, nor is it a decision that should be treated carelessly. It is a serious matter, and it is a decision that we, as people of the Yukon, will have to live with for many decades to come. I intend to make the most educated and intelligent decision on the matter that I can.
Mr. Nordling: I agree that it is a serious matter and that it should not be treated lightly or carelessly. I also agree that it should not be kept a secret. We do not want a summarized version, we would like to review the full report of the committee. I would like the Minister to make the commitment that he will provide us with a full report together with a time frame.
In the media the Minister announced that his decision would be made in October. It is now nearing the end of November.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can share with the Member that it is my intention to discuss the matter with the Whitehorse City Council this Friday, partly because of the recommendation from the committee. I can also assure the Member that I will certainly provide a full report of the committee to Members of the House and the public. I can tell the Member that I intend to come forward with our intentions surrounding the special waste facility within the next couple of weeks.
Question re: Yukon Electrical Company, power brown-outs
Mr. Phelps: I have a few questions for the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation with respect to the Yukon Energy Corporation and, in particular, with the numerous power black-outs and brown-outs that we have been experiencing in the Yukon over the course of the last number of months.
These are the worst we have experienced in recent memory, and culminated in a black-out that lasted for more than an hour in October, and which did substantial damage to some businesses in town.
The spokespeople for the Yukon Energy Corporation and for the Yukon Electrical Company Limited mentioned that some of the problem seems to have to do with equipment needing upgrading. Can the Minister tell us whether most, or some, of these black-outs are due to the old, outdated equipment that is being used by the Yukon Energy Corporation?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can undertake to transmit the concerns of the Member to the operators of the utility but, more specifically he implied that the outages are the result of outdated equipment. I have raised the matter with the Yukon Energy Corporation who, in turn, raised the matter with the managers of the system, Yukon Electrical. There is no evidence that we have had any increased, or more severe, power outages in the last while, in comparison to previous periods.
It is a fact that equipment failure can contribute to a black-out. It is also a fact that external forces can contribute to a black-out.
A simple thing like a windstorm and a tree falling on a line can set off a series of technical consequences that will trip out a system.
I suppose it only remains to be said that there is no evidence, based on my inquiries with the Yukon Energy Corporation, that outdated equipment is at the root of outages. There is no evidence, either, that outages have been occurring with increased frequency or duration.
Mr. Phelps: One of the senior engineers for the Yukon Energy Corporation is quoted in the media as saying that the Whitehorse substation is due for updating to bring it up to modern standards.
Will the Minister at least confirm that much of the equipment that is being used by the Yukon Energy Corporation is outdated and needs to be replaced or upgraded?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can undertake, through the Yukon Energy Corporation, to advise Yukon Electrical that it is the Members concern that their capital upgrading program is not adequate. That is precisely how the managers of the system function. They put forward, on an annual basis, their capital upgrading programs. In the past number of years, there have been substantial capital upgrading programs to the system. It is based on the judgment of the operators of the system. It would be a fair statement that, with many systems, there is ongoing upgrading to improve equipment that, by virtue of being on line, eventually gets outdated.
The long and the short of it is the simple fact that the Yukon Energy Corporation has approved millions of dollars over the course of the past several years for capital upgrading, as put forward by Yukon Electrical. That is how the system runs.
Mr. Phelps: The Minister uses the phrase, The long and the short of it. I do not think there are any short of it in the lengths of his answers, which do not clear up things very much.
Can the Minister come back to this House and tell us when we are going to get the equipment upgraded to modern standards throughout the system of the Yukon Energy Corporation and how much it is going to cost?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Again, the short answer is that it is an ongoing process and I believe that, as early as next week, some of the figures relating to the capital injection into the utility, for upgrading purposes, will be put forward to the utility board. So, it is an ongoing process of upgrading; it is done on an annual basis and it is part of the management of the utility, a utility that is not demonstrating any abnormal patterns of service delivery than in any other year.
Question re: Yukon Electrical Company, power brown-outs
Mr. Phelps: I thought that this was going to be a simple issue and I wanted to get some information. It is a fairly basic kind of question.
First of all, we have all of these power outages. One of the longest in recent memory occurred just last month. It cost a lot of businesses a lot of money. Secondly, we have the statement that a bunch of Yukon Energy Corporation equipment is due to be brought up to modern standards. I want to know how much of their equipment is not up to modern standards, how much it is going to cost to do it and when it is going to be done; that is all.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In the general rate application, those statistics, those calculations, those figures and the significance or consequence of those figures, as they affect the rate base, are presented on an annual basis. So those figures are available but, certainly, if the Member wants me to request of Yukon Electrical Company more special numbers or more simplified numbers than presented in the general rate application, I can undertake that.
Mr. Phelps: That would be very nice; I am looking forward to it.
Question re: Horses on the highway
Mr. Brewster: My question is to the Minister of Renewable Resources.
Last summer I wrote to the Minister and met with some of the officials regarding the problem of bison destroying fences at Canyon Creek, allowing horses to wander onto the highway. In a letter to me dated August 1, the Minister stated that his department had offered fencing material remaining from construction of the bison enclosure near the Nisling River to the Canyon Horsemens Association to help protect and reinforce the fencing. Yet, in an undated letter, the Minister stated that his department had not spent any money for fencing in the Canyon area for bison.
I would like to know which version is correct. Did the department offer to provide fencing material or not to the Canyon Creek area?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I really do not know the answer to that question. I do not know if there was an offer of fencing materials made for that area. I will have to check on that question for him and come back with the information.
Mr. Brewster: I find that very strange, because both letters were signed by the Minister.
I expect I will have to get a legislative return on this one too. Could the Minister please advise the House what happened to the extra fencing material from the bison compound on the Nisling River, which was flown out and transported to Whitehorse?
Hon. Mr. Webster: That is related to the first question and I will research that information at the same time.
Mr. Brewster: I will try something else then.
Is it true that a vehicle, driven by a woman accompanied by her two daughters, was damaged by buffalo at the Jarvis River this summer?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I did not receive a report to that effect.
Question re: Elsa recreation centre and curling rink
Mr. Lang: I would like to turn the Members attention to an issue that has been discussed on an ongoing basis, that being the question of the recreation centre and the curling club in the community of Elsa. I, like my colleague, the Member for Kluane, have corresponded with Members on the other side with respect to this particular issue.
On October 7, I sent a letter to the Minister of Community and Transportation Services seeking information about the recreation centre, which, as all Members know, collapsed. I asked the Minister of Community and Transportation Services how much government money, federal or territorial, was spent on the recreation centre prior to its collapsing? Does the Minister have that information?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do not have the information at my fingertips. I do have it in my budget material. Even better than that, I can tell the Member that I do recall the letter and that I expect to be signing a letter to the Member this week with the study and the figures that he requested.
Mr. Lang: We are having some difficulty in respect to some of our correspondence taking quite a lengthy period of time to be responded to. This one is over a month and one-half late. Could the Minister tell us why it has taken so long to respond to some very simply questions? For example, one of the questions was how much did it cost to dismantle the recreation centre.
I do not understand why we have to rise in the House during Question Period to try to get answers to letters, similar to the experience of my colleague for Kluane, where correspondence was sent months ago.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I agree with the Member that some responses do take some time to research adequately to provide accurate information. In the case of the Elsa issue, there was a need to research statistics and financial data from several years past. Researching that data does take time. I have given the assurance to the Member that he will receive a response this week, maybe even this afternoon, given that he has raised it.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will now proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Unanimous consent requested re notice of Private Members business
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would like to request the unanimous consent of the House pursuant to Standing Order 14(5), for motions for the production of papers not to be called on Wednesday, November 20, 1991, and for motions under the heading of motions other than government motions to be called in the following order when that business is reached on Wednesday, November 20, 1991: Motion No. 84, Motion No. 85, Motion No. 20 and Motion No. 88.
Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Some Hon. Members: Disagreed.
Speaker: Unanimous consent has been denied.
Are there any Government Bills?
Bill No. 19: Second Reading - adjourned debate
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 19, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Penikett, debate adjourned, Mr. Nordling.
Mr. Nordling: I am pleased to continue my address in reply, entitled Time To Go. Before I continue, I would like to briefly recap my comments of yesterday to remind the Members where we were.
I was discussing the five messages I received from listening to the budget address. The first was dishonesty, and I referred to the misleading news release of November 12, 1991; the main feature touted in the budget, being no tax increases, and how ridiculous it is for the government to put great stock in the fact that they have not increased taxes. To call a $19.3 million deficit a healthy surplus, and to call the $103 million capital budget the highest capital budget in Canada, is certainly not giving Yukoners much credit.
The second message I got was that the government was tired and worn out. I spoke of hearing the same old rhetoric and speeches that we have heard many times before.
The third message was that this government has no vision and I spoke of the government having no plans for the future, except for secret plans. This government seems to have a lot of secrets. I said that this government was content to spend federal government money and complain that it was not enough.
The fourth message that I received from the budget address was that the government lacked the political will to tackle the real problems facing the Yukon. I talked about treating the symptoms. Two examples that I used were with respect to the hazardous waste facility and whether or not we would ever have a decision with respect to that and the lack of commitment to tackle the alcohol abuse problem.
This brought me to the fifth message that I received, and that is that it appears that the governments purpose is simply to hang on, get what they can for themselves and their friends. That seems clear when we see $1.3 million for Cabinet support, where we have included in that, executive assistants being paid up to $68,000 per year, along with executive secretaries being paid up to $44,000 per year, making the expenditure $112,000 per year for the same support that the Government Leader so strenuously objected to spending $40,000 on just a few years ago. This is not to mention that the Government Leaders principal secretary, who makes up to $85,700 per year.
Along with that, the government has added 19 percent to the Deputy Ministers salaries, which are in the area of $100,000 per year. The government added 17 assistant deputy minister positions that did not exist in 1986, in their first year. The salaries of those assistant deputy ministers go as high as $102,000 per year.
Then we come to the elite class of employee, the land claims negotiator who has made almost $1 million and still is not back at work, and the Deputy Minister who is still receiving the $92,000 education leave along with secret benefits.
This government has hired consultants. They have spread the wealth, not only to their friends here in the Yukon, but have paid out millions of dollars to their friends across Canada. The upsetting part of that is that those who are not friends of the government or on their preferred list, just do not seem to get much work from them. Even scarier than that is that attitude seems to be affecting the contracting and service industry in the territory, where there is the appearance of favouritism.
The government has appointed friends and supporters to boards and committees, where per diem allowances have been substantially raised, some as much as $300 a day. The government ran into a bit of a problem, in that Yukoners began to recognize this excess in favouritism. The feeding frenzy at the public trough became evident to the general public. This frightened the NDP. It frightened the Government Leader, in that the public might have recognized what was going on. The Minister of Finance, the Government Leader, does some damage control. He stands up and says that he and his Minister will reduce their travel and entertainment budget by 25 percent. Big deal.
As the saying goes, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. After six years in power, the government is corrupt. It is most noticeable in the Government Leader, who seems to have absolute power. The rot that has always been at the core of the NDP apple is showing through clearly. Yukoners can all see it now. It is time for this government to go.
Hon. Ms. Joe: After listening to the speech last night by the Member for Whitehorse Porter Creek West, it was interesting to get a summary of the same thing again today - the same kind of rhetoric he was spouting off last night with so much wrong information. What is really scary about it is the fear that he is promoting in this House.
I wonder if the Member has ever sat down and read the budget. Has he ever done that? Has he ever looked at the kind of information that was provided to him in regard to the budget?
I find it quite amusing. Some of us sat here last night in disgust because of the kind of information that he was giving to the House. Some of us sat here with great amusement, due to the kind of information that he was providing. It was not very pleasant, in some cases, to realize how little this person knew about the budget. It is very scary and I really feel so badly for his constituents in Porter Creek West, if that is the kind of information that they are getting.
He talked about a government that has no political will. He talked about a government that is only treating the symptoms. He talked about the kind of social problems that we have here in the Yukon. He also talked about no capital expenditures. I do not know who is paying for the kind of construction that is going up. I do not know who is paying for the roads that are being fixed and the kinds of facilities that we are offering to the people of the Yukon.
He also talked about big government and the kind of things that we have done since we became the government in 1985. I think that there are a lot of individuals in the Yukon who will disagree with the kind of things that he has said regarding the things that this government has done to promote a better way of living for a lot of Yukoners.
What he also did was talk about treating the symptoms. He would like Yukon people to think that there were never, never any social problems in the Yukon prior to this NDP government coming to power, but I know that is not the case.
We took over a government here in the Yukon where those programs were completely ignored and we improved upon them. That has become very evident, very evident to the people of the Yukon. In some cases, I think some of our programs have improved so much that people forget what it was like before, prior to 1985. It is unfortunate that the Member does not remember this, because I believe not only does his memory go back to the day the budget was introduced in the House but as far back as 1985.
I would like to talk about some of the things this government has done. We are very pleased to be part of a government that offers the kind of things we have offered in the last few years. We have been criticized, of course, for taking money out of a pot that has been sitting for a while; the Member talks about spending money we received from Ottawa. Well, their money also came from Ottawa when they were the government and they did not mind spending it either.
It is a pleasure for me to stand here today and respond to yet another budget that reflects the desires and needs of the Yukon people without adding any tax increases to their already heavy load. This is the sixth year in a row for no tax increases in the Yukon, and the 1992 budget estimate increase is only four percent greater than the current forecasted budget. This is in line with the inflation rate.
At a time when the recession, the GST and increasing personal tax burdens are weighing heavily on low and middle income Canadians, I am proud to be part of a government that understands what Yukon people want.
Contrary to what is happening all over the country, the Yukon is maintaining a healthy surplus and the unemployment rate has decreased one percent every year since 1985.
Our GDP, the gross domestic product, has increased about five percent per year, the fastest growth rate in Canada - this at a time when the national rate of growth in GDP is declining. The fact that the Yukon GDP has doubled since 1985 shows good economic management by this government.
I would like to extend my congratulations to the Minister of Finance and his staff for consulting with the people of the Yukon, for listening to their concerns and ideas about improving programming by investing in education, health, child care, social services, justice, womens issues and the environment. Many Yukoners attended these consultations in order to learn more about how the budget process works and to gain a better understanding of what options are available, financially.
The Minister of Finance listened to the people of the Yukon and put in place a budget that adds no additional tax burdens on Yukon families, and one that also looks at investing in the future of all Yukon people. Contrary to the Conservative view, this government is committed to investing in the future of the Yukon and ensuring its continued growth.
Since this government has been in power, 3,000 new jobs have been created. I want to stress that the majority of these jobs are in the private sector. In fact, the ratio between the public and the private sector has remained relatively the same. Over the past six years, government employees have consistently represented nine percent of the population and about 20 percent of the total labour force. Certainly, the public service of the Yukon has increased, but so has the population as well as the demand for services.
I can remember in the spring, in this Legislature, listening to the Conservatives opposite wanting more money spent on foster care, more money spent on child care and more money spent on upgrading roads. As part of our investment plan for the future plan of the Yukon, we are doing exactly that.
It is not because they told us to, but because it was part of our plan. Now, what do we hear from the side opposite? We hear that the budget is too big. They say do not spend money, cut, cut, cut. First they were Conservatives. Now they call themselves the Yukon Party and the Independent Alliance. On the one hand, they want to spend money and on the other, they want to cut programs, jobs and economic growth.
The Members opposite cannot have it both ways. Investment in the future of the Yukon is the only way to ensure continued growth for this generation and future generations of Yukon people. This government is investing $12 million in our children through improved educational facilities, $1.7 million in assuring that Yukon children receive quality child care and $299,000 to increase foster care rates for Yukoners who open their home and lives to children in need of care.
The 1992-93 main estimates also represents the highest capital budget in Canada - $103 million, or 25 percent of the total budget.
This government is investing in Yukon communities in many ways. Some of these include community and business development funds, in the amount of $1.1 million, sewage treatment projects, non-profit housing, highway construction, and rural communities through decentralization.
Building a sustainable economy, promoting healthy communities and settling aboriginal land claims are high goals for any government to set for itself. This government is successfully reaching those goals, as promised in our 1989 budget. Approximately $19 million is being spent on new investment, ensuring future growth in healthy communities and a sustainable economy for the Yukon.
I am pleased that land claims and self-government agreements are coming to completion. Reaching fair and equitable settlements for Yukon First Nations goes a long way toward developing a sustainable economy and healthy communities for all people in the Yukon.
This government has also made a commitment and is keeping its promise to provide more service and revert more resources to the communities.
This government has recently announced an increase in funding for municipal governments. In addition, $400,000 will be added to the community development fund and another $700,000 for the business development fund. Investing in the future means putting money into an initiative in order to reap the benefits in the future.
My constituents, located in Whitehorse North Centre, will receive a substantial increase in funding for the Whitehorse sewage lagoon, as will all other Whitehorse people. In the 1992-93 budget, $580,000 is committed, up from $150,000 in the last years budget. This is another indication that we, as a government, are indeed committed to assisting the City of Whitehorse to invest in their future as well.
I was very pleased to see so many businesses in my riding who have received funding from the business development fund; businesses such as, The Chocolate Claim, The Yukon Inn, Decora Landscaping and the Klondike Inn, to name a few. Some of these businesses needed funding for capital expenditures, such as buying new equipment or expanding, while others received funding to help open up new businesses and create new jobs.
I also found it interesting to note the numerous businesses in the rural communities. This is just another indication of the many economic diversification activities going on in the Yukon: banking services, construction companies, hotels, stores, et cetera. I was also pleased to see the number of businesses being set up and run by people from the Yukon First Nations.
The Conservatives on the other side are saying on the one hand that this budget is too big. On the other hand they are saying that we have not spent enough money on this program or that program. I, however, am proud to stand here today and congratulate this government on their good record. There is not a single jurisdiction in the country that has such a good record. There is not another jurisdiction in Canada with no tax increases in six years. There is not another jurisdiction in Canada with a decrease in unemployment for the past six years. The Conservatives opposite say that this is poor management. They are wrong. The record of this government shows good economic management.
As the Minister responsible for the Department of Justice, I am pleased that investing in healthy communities is a goal reflected in the mandate of justice. I already announced early in the sitting of this Legislature that, consistent with this governments objective to decentralize and evolve programs to rural communities, a 25-bed correctional facility will be built in Teslin. In the Yukon, at any given time, 60 to 80 percent of the offender population is of aboriginal descent.
The territorial communities are becoming more and more involved in the delivery of correctional services to native offenders and they want to see offenders accommodated in their own communities.
The Yukons First Nations want to develop rehabilitative programs that are culturally appropriate, in ways that are traditional to the aboriginal community. They want to participate at all levels of developing and implementing such programs. As I announced last week, Teslin has been chosen for the 25-bed co-ed facility because of the successful tribal justice infra-structure that is already in place in that community. The new correctional centre will also bring an economic benefit to the community and will provide training and employment opportunities for the people who live there.
Yesterday, in a reply to the budget address, the Member for Watson Lake asked about the local hire that will take place with respect to that facility. I would like to report here that many discussions have gone on prior to making this decision, and we have made a commitment to employ as many 75 percent of local people to work in this facility. It is our endeavour to increase that amount as well.
Also, as a part of this governments decentralization plan, two positions from the Department of Justice will be going to the town of Faro. Until recently, the needs of victims of crime were largely overlooked and yet nowhere is there a greater need for sensitivity toward victims than in family violence; therefore, an additional $75,000 will go toward family violence prevention.
In the past three years this government has invested $780,000 in programs for the prevention of family violence. In response to the public, courts and communities asking for more resources to be dedicated to breaking the cycle of violence, there will be an increase in person years in the assaultive husband program and the victims program.
The demand for justice programs and services is strong. The Department of Justice will continue to provide services through Legal Aid, Corrections and Probation Crime Prevention Programs, the Victim-Witness Assistance Program and the Native Courtworkers Program.
Four new corrections officers, a programming training coordinator and one clerical support staff have been added to the staffing of the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. This is in response to several recent inquests and court cases, which has reinforced the need for this increase in staffing.
The 1992-93 main estimates for the Womens Directorate total $416,000. The person year establishment for the directorate remains at three.
Family violence initiatives will continue through a public awareness campaign, the information line and a family violence conference. As well, the directorate will continue to provide outreach assistance through the help line.
Although it is a small department, the Womens Directorate has a very important mandate to carry out. They do an exceptional job, and I am proud of the lead role they have taken on family violence issues, women in the justice system, equality in the workplace, education equity and education and training for women. Funds will be set aside for providing outreach to Yukon women, including bringing in speakers, providing library resources and hosting the international Womens Day celebration. The Womens Directorate will also publish a newsletter and brochure.
Funds will also be provided to the Womens Directorate for contract services to be used on issues such as the womens survey and education equity issues. The directorate will be addressing issues identified through the territory-wide service in addressing education equity issues, as identified through federal, provincial and territorial initiatives.
These are just some of the initiatives the Womens Directorate is working on. I hope to address all of them during our budget discussions.
I would like to thank my department for the hard work it put into the preparation of the budget. I thank the Minister of Finance, once again, for ensuring that this budget reflects the desires and needs of Yukoners to invest in the future.
Mr. Phillips: The budget we have before us today is some $418 million. It is the largest budget in the Yukons history. This $418 million is for 30,000 people. A lot of Yukoners are surprised at that figure. If you look at the budgets over the past six and one-half years, we are now looking at over $2 billion spent in the Yukon. That is a lot of money. That is more money than you or I could ever comprehend.
In each year, we listen to the budget speech and hear the government proudly announce how they are wisely managing our money, building new projects and announcing new social programs. We have now had six and one-half years of this massive spending in the Yukon, and we should be able to look back and clearly assess how wisely this money has been spent.
Let us look at the goals this government had when it first took power in 1985.
Every throne speech since that time had the theme of economic diversification as its base. There was an appreciation by the side opposite that we had to diversify the Yukon economy to provide more stable growth to Yukon. I applaud that concept; after all, that is why the federal government was so generous to us when they signed the first Formula Financing Agreement, and so generous as well, I might add, in subsequent agreements. The government may not be happy with the formula they have today but I can tell you, from talking to other provincial representatives who were here last week, they think we are pretty fortunate in what we get from the federal government.
The argument used these days is that the Yukon needed a major boost to improve its facilities and infrastructure and that we were treated as fairly as the rest of the country. The question is then have we spent these large sums of money wisely? Have we diversified the Yukons communities?
Let us look at the communities one at a time and, just to make it more interesting, I would like to present it in sort of a report card form, with A as the top grade and with F, of course, as a failure.
We will start at the southern end of the Yukon, with Watson Lake. In 1986, we had the closure of the mine at Cassiar; we had sawmill problems at Watson Lake with the Cattermole sawmill going broke; we had high employment; tourism was relatively stable because of the Alaska Highway. In 1991, a new mine is going ahead at Mount Hundere, and I would give the government a B-plus on that. I think they did a fairly reasonable job in getting that mine on track. Mind you, there are some problems, which I will mention later.
There is the possibility of a new sawmill. Well, I am going to give them an F for that one, because we still do not have a new sawmill and we all know what has happened in Watson Lake, and I will elaborate on that in a minute. Unemployment is still high and I am going to give them a C-minus on unemployment in Watson Lake. In tourism I am going to give them an average grade; I am going to give them a C because I think in tourism that they have sort of held their own, again because of the Alaska Highway. It has not been to the credit of the Government of the Yukon, other than the streetscape, which has been a good program and they should receive credit for that.
But one should not let Watson Lake go by without a comment or an explanation. This government does deserve some credit for the development of the Mount Hundere mine but we have to remember that it was the private sector that took the risk. In some cases, the government hampered the development of that mine by not providing adequate land on time for housing development. I understand that just recently some lots went for sale in that area and only one lot out of 30-some odd lots was purchased.
The Minister for Community and Transportation Services is saying only one lot out of 30. Well, maybe the people of Watson Lake are a little more intelligent than the Minister, because they asked themselves why they should purchase a lot in the middle of the winter when they could not do anything to it until the spring. They would have to put out $18,000 or $20,000 now and can do nothing until the spring, because the government took its time in getting the lots on the market.
Whether the Minister knows it or not, it just is not very economical to build in the middle of November and December in the Yukon.
The mine is now operating, and the government should be given the benefit of the doubt about helping to get that mine open.
What about the sawmill? What can I say about it? Fourteen million dollars later - at least, that is all we can count up to right now, but I am sure there is more - we still have no sawmill. We have just a lot of broken promises, lawsuits and unpaid bills. We have lost thousands of valuable trees in that area that were over 200 years old, by inefficient logging practices, bugs, worms and, finally, the leftover logs were sold as firewood for a mere fraction of their cost. Anywhere else in the country, people would be charged and sent to jail for using that type of wood for firewood and letting it rot the way they did. In this case, of course, it was the government and they got away with it.
This sawmill virtually destroyed several small businesses who had made their livelihood in the industry for several years in Watson Lake. Now they are being forced to rehire all new employees if they wish to start up again. Some of the most major timber resources in the area are part of the timber I talked about earlier that was harvested and never utilized. As Members of the Public Accounts Committee, we walked down to the mill and looked at how they were sawing the logs. We saw how inefficient the whole process was and how they were getting very little out of each log because of the poor system they had.
Now we have another proposal for a new mill - a new mill that is not going to export raw logs; it is going to export jobs.
When are we going to learn our lesson? We cannot afford to export Yukon jobs. One of the things we can do in the Yukon in the forest industry is have an industry there that is supported by the people of Watson Lake. We do not have to send those logs somewhere else to be milled. The people in Watson Lake are very qualified to do the job; they have done so in the past, and those logs should be milled in Watson Lake to keep the jobs here in Yukon.
In the unemployment sector, some would argue, with a great deal of merit, that with a $400 million budget, the unemployment rate should be zero in Watson Lake, not just experiencing a minor decrease.
Let us move up the highway a little, to the community of Teslin: what was the economy of Teslin in 1986?
Basically, it was a highway community, deriving its main income from tourism and some government spending in that area. After over $2 billion of government spending in the Yukon, what has changed in Teslin? Is Teslin more economically diversified today than it was in 1986? In 1986 it had its highway traffic, government spending, and it had high unemployment - unless one worked for the government or the band, and even that was seasonal. The 1991 tourism numbers have not changed since 1986. Very little has changed since 1986.
They have a new and improved museum. It is a beautiful museum. I give them a C for that museum; it will help the Village of Teslin. Government spending has increased in Teslin and we will give them a C for that, as, after all, they are pumping some money into Teslin. As for the development of new industries in Teslin, I will give them an F. There is no new industry in Teslin. The unemployment in Teslin is not much different from what it was in 1986. It is poor. There is high unemployment.
Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible).
Speaker: Order please.
Mr. Phillips: I want to talk a bit about tourism, and about why it has not increased. We are told that tourism is the fastest growing industry in the world. Why are we not seeing this increase? Why are we just marginally holding our own? There is no way one can construe government spending as economic diversification. It is not. In fact, one comment to be made here is that government spending in this area has cost jobs in Teslin. The Government of Yukon has positioned a full-time electrician in Watson Lake. This electrician is now travelling to Teslin to perform work on YTG facilities. It helps keep him busy, as he does not have enough work in Watson Lake. The problem with that, Mr. Speaker, is that he has put a private sector electrician out of work in your community.
There is no work for the private sector electrician, because the government is now doing the job. This leads me back again to the issue of getting value for our money. A $400 million budget with $2 billion being spent over the last six years, and we still have unemployment in Watson Lake that is higher than the national average. Teslin also has unemployment that is higher than the national average.
Let us look at Whitehorse. In 1986, there was some economic diversification, and there was very little government growth. There were not too many new industries as we were just coming out of some tough times. Unemployment was high, and the word with tourism was that we needed to develop some more attractions. What do we have in 1991? I gave economic diversification a C minus, partly because all the diversification was related to government growth. I gave the development of new industries a C minus, because all the new industries were related to government growth. The unemployment rate now is not much different than it was in 1986.
The Government Leader says, oh, come on. However, the Government Leader forgets how many millions and millions of dollars that have been spent in Whitehorse over the past six years, with our unemployment going down just a squeak. The Government Leader should be ashamed of that.
With regard to tourism and the development of attractions, how many more attractions do we have here today than we had in 1986? This government has diversified the Whitehorse economy. There are many new industries that have developed in the past years. The downside is that almost all of these industries are to service the large government growth. The government is in virtually every office building in this city. Whitehorse is the big beneficiary of the fastest growing industry in the Yukon: government.
We heard Members on the other side talk about new industries that have been established since 1986. We have heard many, many times about the char farm. This has been talked about in every budget as a major accomplishment in every year for the past four or five years. Yukoners must now believe that there are literally hundreds of people working at the Yukon char farm. In fact, for the most part, there are less than six people employed there. We are not all suckers. We know that something is fishy here.
Another major industry is the furniture manufacturing business. This is a worthwhile project, if the private sector could afford to buy some of this fancy furniture. Could the industry stand alone today if the government ceased to buy the furniture?
Do Yukon government employees really need the large, fancy desks that have been purchased by this government, or are we just artificially propping up a campaign promise of the NDP to help some of their friends?
Unemployment in the City of Whitehorse is at 10 percent. It has gone down slightly during the past year, but it is still higher than the national average. This is inconsistent with the message that government Members are giving Yukoners. The Government Leader and others are telling us that we had the best growth in Canada over the past several years. The highest percentage in capital budgets is being spent here, higher than any province in Canada. They are also telling us that our economy is the healthiest in the country. You cannot have it both ways. If you have a healthy economy, then you should have a much lower unemployment rate: much lower than the national average and much lower than what it presently is.
What about tourism? I gave the government an F in tourism, simply because we are not a great deal further ahead today than we were six years ago. At that time, this government told us that we had to develop more attractions to keep people here longer and that waterfront development would be a priority.
Today, six years and $2 billion later, we have one or two new improved projects. For the money spent, we should have seen a lot more. Waterfront development has seen mediocre progress in six years, and we still have to form the repeatedly announced Capital City Commission before we can even start to finalize the plan. This government receives a far from satisfactory grade for its efforts in Whitehorse.
Let us look at Carmacks. What was the economic base in Carmacks six years ago, and what is their economic base today, again $2 billion later? As far as economic diversification is concerned, they had a coal mine just close. There was very little development of new industries, and unemployment was high. Tourism in Carmacks was based on the traffic going to Dawson City.
What is happening in 1991? I gave them an F on economic diversification, because I could find none in Carmacks. I gave them an F for development of new industries, because the only new industry I found in Carmacks was the rental of government office space. Again, that is more government.
It is seasonal and it is unchanged, and we gave them an F in unemployment.
Tourism has improved because of the Dawson City attractions, but what would happen to business in Carmacks if we had a couple of bad tourism years? I gave them a C on that issue in Carmacks.
Let us move to the community of Pelly. Pelly was primarily a native community in 1986 and not a lot has changed. The quality of life has changed because of some government housing projects, but has Pelly really seen any significant economic diversification after the $2 billion is spent? They have a new airport but I wonder who uses it. I am afraid that the answer simply is no. Another F, meaning failure, for Pelly.
Unfortunately, there is very little change at Stewart, as well. The government failed in its economic diversifications in that community.
Look at Mayo and Keno: for 1986 economic diversification there was the United Keno Hill Mine. Industry in Mayo and Keno was virtually just mining. Unemployment was high and there was little or no tourism in the area at that time. I gave them a D for 1991, when the mine shut down, leaving all kinds of vacant buildings up there - new curling rinks that no one has ever thrown a stone in. Businesses have closed and Elsa and Keno are virtually ghost towns.
New industry? I gave them a C- because there is a proposed new power line to Dawson City, which might help the community. The problem is that the costs are starting to come in for the line and they have dramatically escalated to the point of questioning whether or not it is even a worthwhile line. Judgment is still out on that issue.
How about tourism? The Member for Mayo might smile because I gave them an A on tourism - mainly for effort. I believe this government and the people of Mayo have made significant efforts to draw more tourists to their area. They actually achieved a semi-passing grade in Mayo for effort but, as for results, I am afraid the economy is still suffering badly in this community and unemployment is far too high.
Let us look at Dawson City. In 1986, economic diversification in Dawson was gold mining, tourism and the salmon industry. New industry: at that time, it was really the salmon industry, which was just getting off and running and things were happening there. That was the only really new industry. Unemployment was quite seasonal because all these job areas are seasonal.
Tourism was good, but, again, tourism was very seasonal. What has happened in 1991 in economic diversification? Again, I give them a C there. We still have mining, tourism and the salmon. The economy is diversified, but all the activities are seasonal, creating high employment in the summer and high unemployment in the winter.
There is not much new industry in Dawson at all. I gave them a C- for that. The unemployment is, again, seasonal, and I gave them a C-. For Tourism, I gave them a B. I did that because I think that the Government of Yukon and especially Parks Canada, have made outstanding efforts to improve Dawson Citys tourism facilities and the attractions in the Dawson area, as well as the many new businesses that have created new attractions in the area. Again, however, they are tied to one area: tourism.
Let us look at Old Crow. That is a much different situation as, for the most part, the people of Old Crow do not want major changes in their lifestyle. It seems that the largest industry in Old Crow is now, and will continue to be, government spending. No new economic initiatives have taken place in Old Crow. Unless you are working in a government job, you are not working. Again, the government has failed to economically diversify Old Crow.
That is just a brief look at the Yukon and the territorys economic diversity from 1986 to 1991. Two billion dollars has been spent. I am afraid we are not much further ahead. This government has failed miserably. Yukoners do have some better facilities but the economy is as fragile as it was in 1986. If Curragh Resources closed today, where would we be? If the federal government cut back severely on transfer payments, where would we be? If tourism took a turn for the worse for a couple of years, what would we do? These are questions that should be asked. Are we more diversified today than we were in 1986? Do these communities I listed earlier have any more new industries than they had in 1986? In almost every case they do not. That is $2 billion dollars later. They are not diversified.
No government can be proud of that record. Just being able to spend millions of dollars a year does not make a good government.
Mrs. Firth: I have a great deal that I want to say about the budget and about this governments performance. However, I am going to be saving my budget address for when we go through the budget. I think I saw the Minister say good. The Minister of Education said it is a blessing.
I want to go through the budget with the government, department by department, line by line and dollar by dollar. I am going to be closely examining how this government determines its priorities. I expect that the Ministers will be able to answer my questions and will be prepared to discuss their budgets. I look forward to the next three or four weeks we are going to spend here in the Legislature addressing all those issues.
Speaker: The Hon. Member will close debate if he now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I thank the Member for Riverdale South for her excellent speech. It is the best I have ever heard her give. I want to say that I am pleased to know that, even though she has donned the mantle of sensitive politics, non-partisan behaviour, and of constructive and conciliatory politics that, in terms of her behaviour in the Legislature, she has not changed a single whit. She is still the same endearing, charming and ingratiating person she always was. We are pleased that is still the case, and that there are some eternal verities.
Those lovely people on the other side, the Conservatives - both groups of them: Conservative Party A and Conservative Party B, the me-first party and the Bea-first party - say we have a bad budget here.
It is the sixth year in a a row with no tax increases, but it is a bad budget. It is the sixth year in a row with a healthy, accumulated surplus but it is a bad budget. It is the sixth year in a row with a reduction in unemployment - no other jurisdiction in Canada can claim that. We have gone from 16 percent unemployment, which is what we inherited when we took office from those people over there, and every year we have brought it down - not a niggardly, tiny little bit, but one whole percentage point - until the annualized rate is now 10 percent, which is close to the national average, with all the disadvantages of a huge, rural, northern area with a sparse population, a narrow economic base and a whole history of do-nothing governments. But in six short years, we have got the territory down to near the national rate of unemployment. Yet it is a bad budget.
The gross domestic product has nearly doubled since we came into office - nearly doubled - and that represents a bad budget. More than 3,000 jobs have been created, and that is a bad budget.
We have settled land claims. We have reached agreements with four First Nations and not a Member over there mentioned it in a positive way - they say it is not a good thing at all and it has got nothing to do with this government and it is probably just an example of more bad budgeting.
Government employees now represent 20 percent, approximately, of the workforce, which is the same as when we came into office - but no, that is terrible, it is big government - big government, bad budget. Now, it was 20 percent when they were in office, so it must have been bad then, because it is bad now - it is awful and it is bad, bad budgeting.
If they sound like sheep, I think that it is no accident, because we have been hearing the same thing every year from them, no matter what we do in the budget. No matter how much the economy improved, no matter how many social problems we responded to, we have the same refrain from the Members opposite: it is a bad budget.
It has been said that the budget has only increased four percent from the budget from last year. The Leader of the Official Opposition said that it is a bad budget because it is really an eight percent growth. He has his figures all wrong and I know he does not pride himself on arithmetic but even if it was eight percent, is it not interesting that, in a territory that had seven percent inflation last year - the highest rate that we have had for years, because of the GST - that our costs have gone up by only that much?
Are you surprised that our costs have gone up by that much, Mr. Speaker? An incredible thing. We were chastised during the budget debate, by the Members opposite because only one new mine has opened in the Yukon this year. Only one. Ignorant they were of the fact that there had only been two in the whole country and that we had half of the new mines in Canada. That was an example of a bad budget. Very bad. We do not even have jurisdiction for mining, but we must have done a bad budget.
I love it when the Leader of the Official Opposition uses numbers. He quotes page 29 of the budget, which shows that we have 84 percent of our money coming from the federal government. I defy anybody who can read to look at page 29 of the budget and get 84 percent out of that. It says quite the opposite; it says 61 percent comes from federal transfers. In that year, which describes the year past, that includes all transfers including the money that they give us to maintain roads. The Leader of the Official Opposition somehow says that it is 84 percent. What is terrifying is that there may be some people out there who actually believe him when he takes a piece of paper that says 61 percent, and says that same piece of paper says 84 percent. He is almost as careless with the truth as the Member from Porter Creek West. I hope that is not a Porter Creek problem.
The Members opposite said that nothing happened in mining. The interesting thing is that mining exploration activity in the Yukon Territory this year was up 29 percent, up $14 million. Do you know something? It was down in every other jurisdiction in Canada. That must be an example of a bad budget.
In spite of stagnant gold prices, escalating mining costs, uncertainty regarding new legislation, all sorts of pressures on the industry, this government, which does not even have responsibility for mining, has put in a whole bunch of mining programs during our time: mineral incentive programs that help prospectors, help small and large mines; we involved ourselves with placer mining implementation; we did the resource access transportation program; we have built bridges and roads, provided fuel tax exemptions and we do not even have jurisdiction. All of that we have done since we came to office, while our wonderful friends on the other side of the House who claim that they love the mining industry and are devoted to it, did not do a damn thing when they were in office. Because we did it, it must be an example of a bad budget.
Our friends, the Conservatives - both groups of them, Conservative Party A and Conservative Party B, the me-first party and the Bea-first party - say that nothing is happening in the economy.
We just heard a recitation from the territorial councillor for Riverdale North, who left out most of the small businesses in the small communities, - his biases are interesting - but did not mention any of the things happening in the aboriginal communities. My colleague, the Minister of Economic Development will give lists of these later in the debate.
When one walks down Main Street in this town, ask yourself if there are more people working. Yes. Are there more people working now? Yes. Is there more private sector employment now? Yes. Are there more restaurants? Yes. Are there more stores? Yes. Are there more tourism operators? Yes. Yes. Yes. Is there more mineral production now than when our friends across the floor were in office? Many times more. Is there more manufacturing? Yes. Is there more construction? Yes. There is a difference between us. The difference between the people on this side and those on that side is that they do not believe government has a role and a responsibility to help people improve their lives, whether it is in their economic lives or in the social dimension of their lives. They believe that government should do nothing because that is what they did when they were in office.
I do not know what we were supposed to do with all this money that came from Ottawa. Perhaps we were supposed to take the $60-a-day wine and aspirin expense account and boost it to $120. I do not know. Perhaps the Cabinet cars were supposed to become luxury cars - Cadillacs or Lincolns or something. Maybe we should have chauffeurs. We have a different approach. We believe that government should invest in people in communities and invest in our future. The Conservatives believe that the government should take money from the people and not give anything in return.
It is no accident in this country that we talk about Tory times as being hard times. The Tories, now, look around the territory and cannot believe their ears and eyes. While the nation has been in a recession and the world economy is in a slump, we have been relatively immune. Our mines are still operating. We did not have a great year in tourism. That is true, but, you cannot have improvement in tourism every year. It is the nature of the industry, but we are going to have a very good year next year.
They are upset, jealous, angry and envious because someone else is in office while this is happening. Someone else is helping to make this happen. I am sorry to report to the people opposite that, compared to the rest of the country, the economy of the Yukon is in relatively good shape.
Unfortunately, our friends across the way, including the people who claim they are now ideologically independent - they are not really Conservatives any more, they will not really vote for Brian Mulroney and they will vote for the Independent Alliance at the national level - are so ideologically blinkered that they cannot see what is happening. They are like the three monkeys who say they will see no good, hear no good, speak no good. That is what those folks are like across the room - the ultimate flat-earthers, the Chicken Licken, fly in the sky, the sky is falling.
One of the officials in our government just sent me down some of the speeches from the previous years. The former Leader of the Official Opposition, the present Leader of the Official Opposition and some of their erstwhile colleagues were doing the same doomsday scenario every year we have been in office - it is about to collapse; it is all going to fall apart; nothing we did meant anything; the people were not really working, they just imagined they were; those were not pay cheques in their pockets, no, they were going to evaporate at any moment; it just was not happening.
The Member for Riverdale North, the territorial councillor for Riverdale North, talked about the unemployment rate not having decreased. Perhaps everybody cannot see this, so I will blow it up larger for them later, but this is a number from Statistics Canada. I assume they still accept the credibility of that organization. It shows that the unemployment rate, when we came into office, was 16 percent. The national rate was about eight percent. The national rate has now gone up to about 10 percent; the Yukon rate has gone down to 10 percent. The two lines have joined. They were a long way apart and then they joined. This government helped do that, and it is not a minuscule reduction in unemployment. It has done what no other jurisdiction has done in this country. We have reduced the annual rate of unemployment by one percent a year. The other side did not do that while they were in office, nor did any of their Conservative colleagues in any other jurisdiction across this country, for the same period.
The Member for Riverdale North, the territorial councillor for Riverdale North, says that nothing is happening in the communities. I looked at the list that was just handed to me of the communities. Businesses that did not exist...
Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, but the territorial councillors over there are giggling.
The businesses that did not exist...
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Both parts of the Conservative Party over there are caucusing. I wish that they would do it quietly while I am speaking.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I got them to agree on something. I have united them. What a victory.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am casually glancing over the list of businesses that exist in the communities now that did not exist a few years ago. I look at communities like Pelly Crossing, Carmacks, Mayo, Elsa, Dawson City, Old Crow and Teslin. I look at some of the new businesses that exist now but did not exist then - cabinet makers, expanded hotels, expanded trading posts and historic homes. There was an item on the radio this morning about Mayo. We have been involved with the streetscape program, new delicatessens, new museums, new hotels, new inns, museums, a canoe factory, band-owned facilities, fisheries equipment, heavy equipment operation, cabin operations and, yes, a new mine in Watson Lake. He did mention that and said that we got a B-plus for that from him. That is not bad, I guess, for him. There is also a new school, which is all part of it.
Of course we did try to do something for the forestry industry. Let the record show that we admit that we did not succeed. We wish good luck to the next people who try.
There are many new products coming out of the Yukon economy. These are examples of diversification. They are small, but it may impress the Members of the side opposite; it probably will not, but I will try anyway. There is a doll factory, crafts, roofing, rafters, pottery, septic systems, furniture, metal fabrication, pasta, tourism items, pre-cast forms, smoked meats and sausages, qiviut sweaters, northern grass seeds, core sample boxes, quarries, windows, cabinets, fiberglass, building trusses, dog harnesses and the list goes on. The Member opposite wants me to mention char. Okay, I will, but it was not previously in the speech, but since he is insisting: char farming.
I was fascinated to hear the former Leader of the Opposition, an intelligent man - who does not agree with me on much and I do not agree with him on much - offer the proposition that somehow we should be more like Singapore or Hong Kong. That is the economic model that we should have. Can you imagine what it would mean to try and make the economy similar to that of a third world economy? Imagine what it would mean, apart from the fact that most of those places have no land - we have lots of land, so we would have to get rid of that - the federal government, I guess, has made a good start. We would have to add millions and millions of people, as those countries are very densely populated in those areas. Of course, we would have to deal with strategic trading location. That is pretty important, too. So I guess that you will have to throw the Yukon out in the Pacific Ocean somewhere, in order to get a strategic location and then you would have to give to us what those economies have: low wages. You would have to get rid of the minimum wage laws; you would have to make sure that there is no job security; you would have to get rid of employment standards; you would have to make sure that there are no labour laws whatsoever, because those countries will not tolerate any rights for employees. You would have to make sure that there are no environmental laws. It is considered quite acceptable for people to be polluted and die of carcinogens at their workplaces.
There would be no human rights, of course. The great Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, was very fond of locking up anybody who was politically opposed to him, or even ran for office against him - that was considered quite a serious crime, so they were locked up.
We could have that model. There were no human rights and no choice of kind or quality of work. People were treated simply as economic units, as wage slaves.
I guess, in theory, we could pursue that economic route, but I sure would not recommend it, and I am damn sure that 99 percent of the people in this territory would not want it. Even if they wanted it, it aint possible. It is entirely a fanciful proposition, as were the megaproject ideas that we used to hear from the Members opposite.
We have heard from Tories, in my day, that we should become a Pittsburgh. I think that somebody else wanted to make us into an aluminum smelting area, which is a proposition that depended upon giving power away to a giant aluminum company, for nothing, and passing on the costs, of course, to local residents.
The Member for Old Crow says, You are kidding, but I am not; that was a serious proposal by the previous Conservative government.
The Member for Hootalinqua is a bright man and a serious fellow, and one who has served the Legislature long and well but who has certain quaint Eisenhower notions about how the world should operate. He said, - and this is not the Hong Kong economic strategy, but rather the close-encounters-of-a-third-kind strategy - that if we build good roads and we build power dams, then they will come. Remember how they built the mud hill there and the space ships came? Well, if you build the roads and if you build the power dams and if you take flow-through shares and you put down some mining shafts to ore bodies, so that you have brand-new silver mines there - you have power and roads - then somehow guys are going to land in space ships, or some other kind of craft, with bags of money, and say, Let us turn this into a silver mine.
The world does not work that way, nor does the economy. This government cannot do a damn thing about silver prices; they are set by international market forces. We cannot do anything about exchange rates; those are set by an agreement, according to Sinclair Stevens, by the national government with the United States government as part of the free trade deal, so that we keep ours higher. Unless those problems are addressed, we cannot do it. We have done what we can, but there is no magic and one cannot make silver mines go into production - even if they get to use the roads for nothing, even if we gave the power to them for nothing. It is not enough.
In the process of building an economy and diversifying it, especially as narrowly based an economy as ours, where we have three principal sectors: mining, tourism and government - and government is a sector - public servants are important. They are real people, they are important; they are as economically valuable as any other sector. But one cannot develop a manufacturing sector and a food producing sector and the other sectors we are now developing, such as adding to the tourism sector, overnight. It takes a long time. It takes a lot of work and a lot of investment. We are doing it.
The Members opposite say this is a bad budget and that we are lousy managers because we have six years of no tax increases, six years of decreasing unemployment and six years of a healthy surplus. Someone over there asked why we had so many people in government for a population of only 30,000. One of the reasons why we have a lot of people working for us is because we have a lot of geography - 200,000 square kilometres, 5,000 kilometres of road. Where else in the world do 30,000 people have to be responsible for a 5,000 kilometre road? We have 28 schools, we have a college system, we have airports all over the place. We provide services that the private sector cannot or will not. The free market will not. The government provides public services and goods that can only be provided by the public sector.
I would like to contrast what we have been doing, which has been improving those services, improving the economy, improving life for Yukoners, with what the Conservative government has been doing.
Since they came into office, they have made a virtue out of cutbacks, layoffs, privatization, contracting out, downsizing, shrinking, reducing and cutting, cutting, cutting. Let me say something that is a plain fact. We heard cuts proposed by Members opposite. They never get specific. They are far too sneaky to do that because they know they do not want to be responsible for specific cuts, but they make a general proposition. There should be cuts in social services or something else. But let me say something that is a plain fact: cuts hurt people.
Sometimes, when I hear Conservatives - and I am not just talking about ones in this House - talking about cuts, I almost get this macho sense from them. They want to prove they are tough guys. They want to be real men, because they can cut budgets, they can hurt people.
These are often people who cannot afford or are not able to look after themselves and meet all their needs. They are not usually economical or politically powerful enough to stand up and make their voices heard. I am very interested that there is now, in this country, a serious reassessment of the virtue of that economic strategy. It is interesting that the former Auditor General, Mr. Dye, in his speech to Fraser Institute - a well-known, right-wing think-tank, if that is not an oxymoron - in which he said that contracting out, as it has been done by the federal government, had not proved to be cost effective or efficient. In fact, he told the Fraser Institute that it had been a waste of money. The services that were provided previously were done much more efficiently and better by the public service.
It is interesting that we have not heard from the Members opposite, apart from some personal attacks on certain well-qualified officials, what programs we should cut, how many teachers we should eliminate. We have heard about heads rolling in public service, or the snidest comment that I have heard in a long time and that is that people who work for the government are just people on welfare in suits. We have heard the suggestion from the territorial councillor for Riverdale South that maybe we should consider forcing people out into the rural communities as part of the decentralization policy. That is what Grant Devine did and you may have heard that he recently paid a rather large cost for that policy. I am pleased to say that our decentralization policy has been described by a representative of the employees organization as the most humane in the country. I am actually proud of that fact. I am proud of it.
The Member across the aisle, the Leader of the Opposition, snickers, but I am proud of it.
The public wants to hear where the Conservatives are really coming from here. It used to be in this country that, unlike the system that operates in the United States, or in most of the world, we could say in Canada that we have very good public services. We were proud of the fact that our public services were honest, fair and efficient. I believe that the territorial public service that we have is honest, fair and efficient. I think that it is one of the best little public services in the country. It is a very capable group of people.
The federal government has been cutting back, privatizing, laying off, contracting out, downsizing, shrinking and off-loading. Why have they been doing this? They say they been doing it because they have a great, big, huge deficit. This is true; they do. After seven years of doing this, they still have the huge deficit and a public service that is a mess in many cases, and they have a national economy that is in ruins. What they have been doing certainly has not worked.
I would only say to the Members opposite - because they may like to think about becoming New Democrats one day, although, probably not - that maybe the way that we have been going about it is better. The problem is that the Conservative approach, nationally, has seen the unemployment rate go up and has seen the economy in shambles. A lot of people are hurting but they still cut back on services. As a result of that and free trade, we have now lost close to 200,000 manufacturing jobs in this country. The country is in terrible shape.
Sometimes when I lay in bed at night and ponder some of the great truths, I wonder why it is that if Conservatives hate government so much, if they despise government as such an awful, creepy-crawly, nasty thing, why they lust for power so hungrily, so endlessly and so relentlessly. There is a mystery here - one of lifes great mysteries.
I have a chart here that shows that in this budget we are spending 28 percent of our budget on capital. One should compare that with most jurisdictions in the country, which are spending between six and 10 percent, or that of the Northwest Territories, which is spending 16 percent.
If you accepted some of the ideas for cuts from the Members opposite - let us say that you cut that capital portion in half - what you would be doing would be to bring our total budget down to less than last years, what would be the consequences of such Tory cuts?
Hundreds of people would be out of work. Where would they be? They would be on unemployment insurance. How is that for federal dependency? You go from people being productive, working, tax paying and contributing Yukoners, to a situation where they would all be on UIC, dependents of the federal government.
The Members opposite say that we are more dependent on the federal government than ever. It is interesting that they say that because, as the Member for Klondike pointed out in an excellent speech yesterday, why were they bragging about the Formula Financing Agreement so much back in 1985, if it made us so dependent, if it was so awful.
The facts speak for themselves. This chart, which is included in the budget document, seems to have been rather ignored by the Members opposite. It shows that, when we took office and presented our first budget in 1985-86, the percentage of the federal transfer payment, as a percentage of our budgetary income, was about 62 percent. It has gone steadily down from there, to where it is 54 percent in this budget, and they say we are more dependent than ever. How is that possible?
It is not possible, unless you decide to take an entirely blinkered, myopic or dead-eyed view of the facts.
When the side opposite was in government, they said dependency was a good thing. They argued that they wanted more money and they like to claim that they negotiated the Formula Financing Agreement, not the officials who actually did the work. Now they are singing a different tune. They are saying that we have too much money. They are actually saying to the federal government, Take some back. Cmon, do not help these guys. Mr. Lang said that we are using the federal government to settle land claims just so that we could hurt them politically. Boy, what skewed view of the world.
Should we, the people of the Yukon, receive federal government money? Why should it go elsewhere? Why should we offer it to someone else? Should we refuse it? Suppose, for example, that their Conservative friends in Ottawa took the advice of the Members opposite and cut the money. If that is what they are arguing, I would like them to go out to the communities and meet with some of the groups that I have been talking to during the last little while and make that argument. If they do not go out to those communities, we are going to pass on what the Members opposite have been saying here in the House.
Just suppose that worse came to worse and some fool Finance Minister came into office in Ottawa and took their advice and cut our money. If that happened, let me say that I would be proud to say that we could handle that situation, because if and when that day comes, we will be able to say that we have built the roads, schools, sewer systems and educational infrastructure. We have invested the money in the way in which it was intended to be invested, so we could handle that situation. We will put ourselves into the shape where we can continue to prosper and continue to grow. One of the Members opposite said something about how we should not take any credit for not raising any taxes over the past few years.
I know that the national government has raised the taxes on working people and middle-class people, very dramatically during the past few years. Maybe that is part of the Tory tough-guy act. See how much you can squeeze the ordinary folks.
We do not intend to follow that route, just because it happens to be done by many other governments in the country. We have had the will and the vision to invest in roads and schools and education and adult literacy and child care and community organizations and municipalities and family violence, a new environment fund, the business development fund and community development fund. We had the vision to develop the Economic Strategy and the Conservation Strategy and the Education Act and the Health Act. We have as clear an agenda as anywhere in the country.
Perhaps he was being misquoted, but a friend of the Member for Porter Creek West confided in me that the Member actually felt the Economic Strategy and the Yukon 2000 process were brilliant ideas. That is not what he said here; perhaps he has changed his mind since then.
We have doubled the gross domestic product since we came into office; we have had steadily declining unemployment; we have had no tax increases - in fact, we have decreased taxes. We have also improved education and health care. We have been doing land claim settlements. We have a better quality of life in the communities. We have a college that is about to become a degree-granting institution. Yet all a Member opposite can say is that all we have been doing is helping our friends.
I do not know how much time I have left, but I have a list here, which someone just handed me, of consulting services contracts. It is a matter of public record, so I could read the list just to give you a flavour of some of the friends who have received contracts from this government. It includes: A V Action Yukon Limited; Anton, Campion, MacDonald and Phillips; a gentleman by the name of Michael Brandt; Isosceles Enterprises Inc; Lewis Consulting; MacKay and Partners; McFarlane Trading Company; Preston, Willis and Leitch; Reece and Associates; Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce; Yukon Chamber of Commerce; Yukon Home Builders Association; Alkan Air Limited; Peacock Air; Airport Chalet; Carmacks Hotel - there is a close friend; Ione Christensen; Downtown Hotel; Eagle Plains Hotel; Eldorado Hotel; Gold Rush Inn; Masonic Lodge; Regina Hotel; Watson Lake Hotel; and so it goes on. These are just some of the close, personal and political friends that have received contracts from this government.
I just had a chance to re-read the budget debate of last year. There was a fascinating exchange between the then-Leader of the Official Opposition and the then-Minister of Finance about dependency. It is interesting that it does not matter that my colleague did an excellent job of setting the record straight. Somehow, I do not understand it, that very bright guy - the Member for Hootalinqua - does not seem to have been persuaded. He has repeated some of the same stuff this year that he said last year.
Let me just deal with that. The Member for Hootalinqua said that the recoveries from 1992-93 are up 16 percent, referring to page 4 of the main estimates. Yes, they are. The biggest single increase, $4,650,000, is in the Health and Social Services budget. That is for the hospital.
I have to ask the Member a serious question, not as a partisan point: how can a capital contribution to the hospital really seriously be an increase in our dependency? Is the Member opposite seriously suggesting that we fund it ourselves? Is he saying that we should not seek the hospital transfer?
There is another increase in Economic Development, due mainly to the EDA. Is he saying that he is opposed to the Economic Development Agreement? The Member opposite keeps talking about when the feds shut off the tap. It is the same error that the new Leader of the Official Opposition makes. Should we not get federal government money? Should it come from elsewhere?
Speaker: Order please. Point of order to the Member for Hootalinqua.
Mr. Phelps: In the various times that I have been giving speeches, the Government Leader has stood up on a point of order to ask whether or not I would entertain a question. I am wondering if the Government Leader would then entertain some answers?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I would be very happy to do that when we get into general debate, in Committee, but since I have been warned that I only have five minutes left - and I hope that he has not cost me some of that time - I do want to finish my speech today.
Of course, we maintain the publics roads and schools and all sorts of things in the Canadian public interest, here. A viable community is very important to Canada. Otherwise, we have to have what Alaska has, which is a huge military establishment that costs multi-billion dollars.
If the Opposition keeps talking about the tap being cut off, it will become a self-fulfilling prophesy, I am sure. We will have the Tokyo Rose problem all over again.
The Member opposite suggests that when the country breaks up, the transfer payment may be cut. Well, why? I assume the Members opposite are the ones who think that Quebec has always been a drain on the country, and if we lose that drain, would not the remainder of the country be better off and would not, therefore, more money be available for some of the developing areas, like this one?
The argument that we should spend our money on a federal responsibility like the Alaska Highway is very silly. There are people who say that that would be a colossally stupid bargaining proposition, so I guess it is the give-away-the-farm argument.
I wonder what the Member opposite would think about voting for a line item that said x-billion dollars, entitled grant to the federal government. He would say that we were insane to put such a thing in the mains. I ask him: what is the difference?
The bottom line, in the end, is that even though the Members opposite do not like it and do not want to accept the reality of it, this is the sixth budget, the sixth year in a row with no tax increases. It is the sixth year that we have a reduction in unemployment. It is the sixth year where we see an expansion of the economy. It is the sixth year where we see an expansion of the private sector. It is the sixth year where we are investing in diversification. It is the sixth year where we are investing in healthy communities. It is the sixth year where we shall have a budget surplus.
I defy the Members opposite to name another jurisdiction anywhere in this country, especially a Conservative one, that has that kind of a record. I enthusiastically support this budget. I think this budget is a profoundly important investment in the future of the Yukon Territory. Any fair-minded person would vote for and support it, and enthusiastically see it implemented in the coming year.
Speaker: Division has been called.
Mr. Clerk, will you kindly poll the House.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Agreed.
Hon. Ms. Joe: Agreed.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Agreed.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Agreed.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: Agreed.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Agreed.
Ms. Kassi: Agreed.
Mr. Joe: Agreed.
Mr. Lang: Disagreed.
Mr. Phillips: Disagreed.
Mr. Phelps: Disagreed.
Mr. Devries: Disagreed.
Mr. Brewster: Disagreed.
Mrs. Firth: Disagreed.
Mr. Nordling: Disagreed.
Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are eight yea, seven nay.
Speaker: I declare the motion carried.
Motion for Second Reading of Bill No. 18 agreed to
Speaker: Government Motions.
Clerk: Item No. 4, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. McDonald.
Motion No. 68
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader
THAT the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges review and make recommendations to the Legislative Assembly:
(1) on what grounds any group of members should be accorded recognition in the Legislative Assembly as a party; and
(2) on the Standing Orders which apply to the order of precedence of private members business on Wednesdays.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: My remarks to this motion will be brief. I can sum up the reasons for bringing forward this motion in just a few words.
Two independent Members of this Legislature have expressed a wish to obtain party status in the Legislature for the purposes of receiving money and privileges they would not otherwise receive as independent MLAs. They have indicated that they have met the minimum qualifications set out in the Elections Act for the establishment of a party for the purposes of party identification in an election. Consequently, they believe that they should be automatically accorded party privileges in the Legislature.
Since the request was first made to the Members Services Board, in writing, by the Member for Riverdale South, I was asked, along with the House Leader for the Yukon Party, to canvass the thoughts of other MLAs. We were asked to do this because the accordance of House privileges is a matter for elected Members to establish for themselves.
In that review, various Members expressed some concern that a party without a constitution, platform or members did not fit what they regarded as the commonsense definition of a party. Others expressed the concern that, if this is not a party in fact, it would set the precedent that any one or more Members could refer to themselves as a party for the purposes of extra money and party privileges, without ever being a party.
There is a conscious desire on the part of the Members I canvassed to resolve this situation satisfactorily. It was suggested that the matter be referred to the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges which is, as you know, a House Committee designed to review matters exactly like this.
Consequently, I have presented and support this motion in order to allow any Member who wishes to express themselves an opportunity to discuss this matter seriously and deliberately for the purposes of making recommendations back to the House regarding this matter.
Mrs. Firth: I think it is only fair at the beginning of my comments for all Yukoners to know that what is about to happen here today is a fight for democracy and democratic rights - not just for two Members of this Legislative Assembly, but for all Members of this Legislative Assembly. This is also a fight for the constituents those Members represent.
We are not about to be pushed aside and picked at like the previous Liberal Member who was here in the Legislature, until his rights were diminished, and we want all Yukoners to know that the voices of the people in our constituency are going to be heard and our opinions are going to be heard. The voices of other people who have come and addressed this issue to us will also be heard with respect to what many Yukoners feel is an injustice. Only time will tell how this particular issue will be resolved.
I want to begin by addressing the brief comments the House Leader made. There are really only two points in his comments. The first point was that we met minimum qualifications, and the second point was that our only purpose was to receive money and privileges.
That is absolutely wrong, because we met all the qualifications for a registered political party under the Elections Act, which states in section 46, Organization Promoting Candidates, that any organization that has as its primary purpose the promotion of candidates for election to the Legislative Assembly may apply to the Chief Electoral Officer to be registered as a political party. We complied with that.
Section 47, Subscribed by Signatures of Members: An application under section 46 shall be made in the prescribed form and shall be subscribed by the signatures of at least 100 members of the organization who are qualified to vote in an election under this act. We also complied with that.
Section 48, Name: No party shall be registered unless they have a name. We complied with that. The name did not cause any confusion with any other political party. So, we met all the qualifications, not a minimum of qualifications, as the House Leader has tried to infer.
On the registration form, it clearly states what the purpose of registering as a political party is. That purpose is to run candidates in the next election, not to receive money and privileges. The House Leader may wish to read that form.
I wanted to address those two brief points the Member raised.
This whole incident came about some four months ago. I understood that the Members Services Board was going to handle this issue and take control. This board met, but it was really two individuals. Mr. Speaker, I believe you were not at that meeting. They met in the back room. It was the Leader of the Official Opposition and the Government Leader and, at that time, they denied recognition of our party status.
Things have just gotten worse until reaching the point where they are today.
I did some considerable research regarding this issue because I was interested in what went on in other jurisdictions and what went on in the House of Commons. I was interested, of course, as to why the Bloc Quebecois was not recognized as an official party in the House of Commons. It is because they require a minimum number, which is 12, and the Bloc does not have that number, so therefore they are not recognized. However, I was told that, in the House of Commons, the Speaker assumes the responsibility for recognizing Members in Question Period, and that they operate on tradition and precedent. They have a Parliament Act, of course, and they also have draws for certain privileges, and so on. I did find out that precedent was never overruled, and I think that that was an interesting point.
I checked with the Province of Alberta and they were very adamant that it was up to the Speaker to make decisions with respect to recognition in the House; however, they do have a rule that you need four Members and a certain percentage of the popular vote to be recognized as a third party. In fact, most provinces that I checked with had this requirement - that is out of 75 seats in Alberta.
Manitoba also had a requirement for four Members to be elected before they were recognized as a political party. Manitoba had an interesting situation where they did have one Member elected of another party - I believe Ms. Carstairs was one member of a Liberal party - and they did make arrangements, through the House leaders and party leaders, without coming to their Legislature. They made arrangements for this Member to ask questions in the Assembly, even though she was just one member of a party in a big Legislature, as they have in Manitoba. They also gave her certain rights and privileges on committees and were quite generous with respect to privileges that she was given.
British Columbia has 75 seats as well and they have a requirement that there be four members in order to have official recognition of party status. When I spoke to the gentleman in British Columbia, he said that the worst that you could be called in the House is a minority party. Even if they have a minority party in the Legislature, they were still afforded the privileges that a third party was entitled to with four members.
I also checked with the Province of Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan has a requirement of only two members in their 66 seat Legislature. The Speaker in Saskatchewan recognizes all Members and relies on precedent and tradition.
In my discussions, I found that there was a general consensus among the legislatures that I checked with that, in this kind of a situation, you would fall back on legislation that recognized your party status and then follow precedent that had been set in the past. Perhaps then, there could be other steps taken.
I wanted to present that outline of the review that I did. To summarize, precedents and tradition played an extremely important role in determining whether the party was recognized in the House or not. The Speaker was given a great deal of responsibility to recognize and enforce whatever tradition or precedent had been set. There were other legislatures that had other rules or legislation that made the determination about whether a party would have third-party status or not or whether it would be recognized as a third party.
We do not have written rules here in the Yukon defining numbers or commonsense - what is the term that the Minister used? - commonsense definitions, whatever that means. We do not have percentages of popular vote requirements here. We do have tradition, though, but precedents have been set here in the Yukon. I would like to make reference to those traditions and precedents. There are really five that have been established in the Yukon. I know that the Government Leader is always talking about the past, along with the Government House Leader as well. I would like them to bear with me and get them into the great time machine with which they go into the past and I will refresh their memories with respect to the precedents that have been set.
There was a time when there was one Member in the Legislature, Mr. Penikett, who had third party status in 1978. He was allowed to ask the second question in Question Period.
There was a second precedent when there were two Members, Mr. Penikett and Mr. Byblow. They were given third party status. Their status was recognized. No one debated it or went to any Rules, Elections or Privileges Committee. There were two Members and they were given the second question in Question Period. Then, in a turn of events, the NDP, Mr. Penikett and Mr. Byblow, became the Official Opposition when Mr. Kimmerly joined their ranks. Then the Liberals became the third party and they had two Members who were recognized as the third party in the House and they were given the second question. In fact, they, as the third party, were allowed to ask alternating questions with the NDP, the Official Opposition. That precedent has been set as well.
With respect to the fourth precedent, the Liberals were elected with two Members. That was Mr. Coles and Mr. McLachlan. They were recognized as a third party and they were given the second question at the beginning and then it was changed to the third question.
There was no Rules, Election and Privileges Committee. The Speaker recognized these Members in Question Period. There was no debate, discussion or any withdrawal of privileges. None whatsoever.
Of course, the fifth precedent was the one Liberal Member, who was Mr. McLachlan, who was recognized as a third party and was given the third question in Question Period and given all the privileges the Independent Alliance has requested.
It is very interesting to see the precedents that have been set in the past. It begs the question of why, all of a sudden, we are not being afforded the same privileges by the Speaker, based on what has happened in the past, as is the tradition with other assemblies and with the House of Commons.
I stood in the House on November 12 with respect to a ministerial statement that had been presented by the government. I had stood on a point of privilege to have the opportunity to respond to that statement. Mr. Speaker, at that time, you gave a ruling that said, The Chair must rule that the Member for Whitehorse Riverdale South does not have a point of order or question of privilege. The Member for Whitehorse Riverdale South and the Member for Whitehorse Porter Creek West have said that they have been denied status as a third party of this House. This House does not have any rules or any practices that authorize the Speaker to recognize third parties.
We do have practices that do recognize third parties. I just cited five precedents that have been set in the past. We do have traditions, practices and precedents for recognition that have been set. Mr. Speaker, your ruling also went on to say that, It must be noted that neither the Standing Orders, nor the Legislative Assembly Act, contain any provisions that define a third party; therefore, it is the House, not the Chair, that must decide upon the recognition of a third party.
Well, Mr. Speaker, that is absolutely wrong. From what all other jurisdictions say, it is the Chair who is to recognize Members based on precedents, past practices and tradition. That was the consensus of all jurisdictions with whom I consulted.
During my discussions with the Alberta Legislative Assembly officials, I learned that there was a time in Alberta when a decision had to be made with respect to who the Opposition party was going to be. Two parties were elected, other than the government; neither one of them met the numerical requirements to be considered the Official Opposition, so a ruling had to be made by the Speaker. The Speaker gave quite a lengthy ruling and I found one of his comments very interesting. They had asked for presentations from both of the parties so that they could determine who was to be the Official Opposition. In those presentations, the Speaker noted that all Opposition members agreed that the question of recognition is a duty of the Speaker; it is not a government matter, nor a political nor a party matter.
I think that the statement made in that presentation was a very powerful statement, and I think it applies here in the Yukon and it applies to this issue that is happening today.
The Members have said they want to be very cooperative and helpful so they want to send it to the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges. We do not feel it should even have to go to that committee; any changes of House procedure should be by unanimous consent.
The House of Commons never overrules precedent. Never.
I, and my colleague, know that it is going to go the Rules, Elections and Privileges committee. Instead of the committee discussing what privileges we should have, they should be discussing what privileges they want to take away if we do not meet some requirements. Because of the precedent, we should have been given those privileges. If the Members of the House felt that we were not entitled to those privileges, then they could have sent it to the Rules, Elections and Privileges committee and said, okay, they are not entitled to it and here are the reasons why, and these are the privileges that we are going to revoke. They did not do it that way. I maintain that they did not do it because there was interference at the political level, by the political party leaders who did not like the way the third party operated, based on their standards of operation and their determinations of what commonsense party operations are. They denied and completely dismissed all of those precedents that had been set in the past. It was just like those precedents never existed. They completely washed over those precedents like they never happened.
In the meantime - and everyday we go another day longer - we are denied these privileges. In the meantime, we in this party, the Independent Alliance, feel very strongly that because these precedents have been set and, because we are supposed to be following tradition in this House - because it is up to you, Mr. Speaker, to make those determinations, the responsibility is on your shoulders to make those determinations without political interference and political bias - we feel that it is up to you to make the decision with respect to us being recognized as has happened in the past. It is not a complicated or complex issue at all.
I want to sum up my comments. I am very interested in hearing what the other Members have to say about this issue. I listened very carefully to what the Member for Tatchun had to say yesterday with respect to our conduct in this House. I have to agree with him 100 percent. We had given a commitment that we were prepared to agree with positive ideas that came forward from Members of the government, and we were prepared to agree with positive ideas that came forward from the other Opposition - the Official Opposition - but we were not even allowed an opportunity to do that. We had been a party for four months. I had been in touch with the House Leader four weeks prior to the House sitting, asking about House business. Two days prior to that, this announcement was made to us.
I respect the Member for Tatchuns comments, and I respect all Members of this House, but I am not about to stand by and allow all these other Members to push us around or to diminish the importance of the constituents I and the Member for Porter Creek West represent, nor to diminish the importance of this issue when it comes to the democratic rights of Members and all Yukoners in this territory.
Mr. Nordling: It is absolutely amazing to me that no one else in this House is going to speak. The Minister bringing forward the motion was about to stand up and close debate. This year will be looked upon as the year that the Yukon Legislature tried to deny fairness, justice and democracy.
The Independent Alliance is a party officially recognized under the Elections Act. The Independent Alliance has two Members sitting in the Legislative Assembly. Absent any rules to the contrary, the Independent Alliance should be recognized as the third party in this Legislature, according to the well-established traditions and precedents in this House, just as the Liberals were recognized by the Speaker between 1985 and 1989, when they had members in this House.
They were given certain rights and privileges, pursuant to tradition and precedent, with respect to third parties that existed prior to 1985.
Now, what is happening in this Legislature today is not just embarrassing, it is scandalous. Historically, it will be viewed as a shocking manipulation of the House.
I want to put the names of the people involved in this on the record because it will be referred to in future years, despite the fact that Members opposite and on this side will try to diminish the importance of this debate today.
The names of the people involved in this shameful conduct start with Tony Penikett.
Speaker: Order please. I advise the Member, when speaking in the Legislature, to use parliamentary language when he is referring to other Members.
Mr. Nordling: Mr. Speaker, is his name not parliamentary language?
Speaker: Not when you are referring to Members in this House. You must refer to them by their constituency or their government status.
Mr. Nordling: This is a very important issue, and I think that what has been done in this House and what is being attempted is to do away with traditional practices, such as the ruling that you just made with respect to using someones name.
Other Members will get their chance to speak. The Member for Old Crow can stand up and speak on this motion, and so can the Member for Mayo.
I will carefully avoid using the names of the Members involved, but I will identify them by their position and constituency, and those reading Hansard can go back and will know who they are.
In fact, when we vote on this motion, I believe their names will be recorded at the end of the vote.
The Government Leader, the Member for Whitehorse West, met with the Leader of the Official Opposition, the Member for Whitehorse Porter Creek East, with the Clerk taking minutes - or, perhaps they were not minutes, as it was not an official meeting as you were not there, Mr. Speaker. It was supposed to be a meeting of the Members Services Board. There were notes taken that were not released until approved by the two gentlemen referred to. That is fact.
With no research into precedents, these two Members decided that they did not want to give the Independent Alliance the rights and privileges afforded to a third party in the House. I will speculate that the reason they did not was because they feared the growing support of the Independent Alliance, which had registered as a third party to run candidates in the next election. I am speculating when I say that, because I do not know the facts. I do know that they did not want to take the responsibility for that decision themselves, because they knew they were out of line.
The Member for Whitehorse West and the Member for Porter Creek East brought others into this to justify their action and make it more acceptable. They brought in the Government House Leader, who is the Member for Mayo, and the Member for Riverdale North, the Opposition House Leader. Without consulting the Independent Alliance, they decided to bring a motion forward to have the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges consider whether or not the Independent Alliance would be recognized as a party in the Legislature.
The Member for Klondike and the Member for Whitehorse West sit there, chatting and laughing, but they should be paying attention because this is not funny. I realize they are probably not laughing at this issue but it is something I think all Members should consider.
Now comes the interesting part, which will make interesting reading in the future. Historically, it will be looked at. That was the Member for Riverdale South, standing up in this House as co-leader of the officially recognized Independent Alliance party, on a point of privilege to explain why we, the Members of the Independent Alliance, were not afforded the opportunity to reply to a Ministerial Statement - an important statement of government policy. The two House Leaders to whom I have referred - the Member for Mayo and the Member for Riverdale North - stood up and spoke on that question of privilege.
Now, so that history will accurately reflect exactly what happened that day, the Clerk - and I will not use his name - rushed up to aid the Speaker in making his ruling.
On many occasions, the Speaker in this House has reserved the right to consider points of order and points of privilege but on this occasion that was not done. I would speculate that the Clerk was prepared for this question and had written something down to aid the Speaker. That is only speculation, and those who read Hansard in years to come will make their own decision.
I would like, now, to read the ruling: Order please. The Chair must rule that the Member for Whitehorse Riverdale South does not have a point of order or question of privilege. The Member for Whitehorse Riverdale South and the Member for Whitehorse Porter Creek West have said that they have been denied status as a third party of this House. This House does not have any rules or practices that authorize the Speaker to recognize third parties.
Also, it must also be noted that neither the Standing Orders nor the Legislative Assembly Act contain any provisions that define a third party; therefore, it is the House, not the Chair, that must decide upon the recognition of a third party.
What we are fighting for today is fairness and democracy. Frankly, that ruling is nonsense. To say that there are no rules or practices that authorize the Speaker to recognize third parties is not so. The Speaker of this Legislative Assembly has done that many times in the past, and you yourself have done it, Mr. Speaker.
I would like to know how or on what authority the Speaker of this Legislative Assembly recognized the former Member for Tatchun when he was the Leader of the Liberal Party and stood up in this House. Later, there was the MLA for Faro, who at that time was the only Member of the Liberal Party and the acting leader. When they stood up in this House to respond to a ministerial statement, my recollection is that somehow the Speaker of this House took it upon himself to recognize that Member and let them speak in reply. The Speaker did this because they were members of a third party; they were the leaders of a party and had the right to speak through precedent and tradition.
I would like to know if either of those two Liberal Members - the former Member for Tatchun who was forced to resign or the former Member for Faro, who I believe is still the acting leader of the Liberal Party - were called into the Speakers office to explain the policies and platforms of the Liberal Party before they would be recognized in this House as a third party.
The Liberal Party, like the Independent Alliance, was officially registered under the Elections Act as a political party in the territory. That is what gave them recognition, as well as years of tradition and precedent that do not seem to be recognized in our case.
The Liberal Party was automatically granted third party status as soon as it entered the Legislative Assembly. The number of members elected, the number of members, if any, in the party, the number of memberships that were sold, and its particular policies or platforms at any time were never questioned or debated. In fact, these things played no part at all in the decision of the House to recognize them as third parties. All the rights and privileges accorded a third party were automatically theirs by right of calling themselves a party and being so recognized under the Elections Act.
Then another interesting event took place in the Yukon Legislative Assembly. We come into this session, which started not very long ago, with a brand new, all new party. The Yukon Progressive Conservative Party no longer exists. What we have now is the new Yukon Party. This new Yukon Party had no problem being recognized by the Speaker in this House as the Official Opposition. Their status was not considered by the Members Services Board. They were not called in by the Speaker or sent to the Standing Committee to explain their platform, their policies or how many memberships they had sold before they were recognized by the Speaker in this House. Something convinced you, Mr. Speaker, to recognize that group of MLAs as the Official Opposition. Based on the ruling you made with respect to the Independent Alliance, I do not know what it was.
I would have thought that it was tradition and precedence, which are well-established, but perhaps it was something else. Absent any rules to the contrary, it is absolutely clear that tradition and practice demand recognition for the Independent Alliance.
For the Speaker and the Clerk of this Legislative Assembly to be bullied by the Government House Leader, the Member for Mayo, along with the Member for Riverdale North, the Opposition House Leader, is unacceptable. The Member for Mayo, with his pompous, presumptuous and pious definition of what a party should be has bullied the Speaker and the House. His definition of a party is that it has to be like his.
What is happening over the issue of recognizing the Independent Alliance in this Legislature is sick. In no other legislature in Canada would this type of bullying of the Clerk and the Speaker go on.
My concern is the bullying that is going to go on with respect to other Members of this Legislative Assembly, when it comes to voting on this motion. We are not voting on the strict wording of the motion, but we are voting on the idea and a principle. That principle is fairness, justice and democracy, which will be denied by the bullying of the Government Leader, the Member for Whitehorse West, along with the Member for Porter Creek East, the Leader of the new Yukon Party, which has been recognized as the Official Opposition of this House by you, Mr. Speaker.
I know what will happen. They will pass a note to every other Member, and it will say that they are supporting this motion.
This motion should transcend the partisan, political politics that we see so often and that Yukoners are so fed up with.
Every Member in this Legislative Assembly knows that the Independent Alliance should be recognized until the rules and/or tradition and precedents and practices in this House are changed. That can be done because we can change our traditions, we can change our precedents and we can change our practices - it is very simple - by unanimous consent of this House. That has not been done.
Now, I challenge every Member of this House - and in respect of your ruling, Mr. Speaker, I will not name them individually - I challenge the Member for Tatchun and the Member for Whitehorse North Centre - who share the same name, although they are no relation - the Member for Old Crow, the Member for Klondike, the Government Leader, the Member for Whitehorse West, the Member for Faro, the Member for Whitehorse South Centre and the Member for Mayo. I challenge each one of them, along with the Members on the Opposition benches - the Member for Riverdale North, the Member for Whitehorse Porter Creek East, the Member for Hootalinqua, the Member for Kluane and the Member for Watson Lake - to do what is right in this Legislature and to vote against the motion, because it is a principle that we are upholding here. It is a principle that is at stake.
Every one of the Members knows that the Independent Alliance should not be denied rights and privileges granted in this House to each political party registered under the Elections Act.
Now, when we vote on this motion, we will call for division so that the vote of each Member, on the principle of tradition, fairness and democracy, is recorded. We will know who has been bullied and who has not.
I hope a number of other Members will get up and speak for themselves and their constituents rather than toe the line of the Government Leader on one side along with his House Leader and the Opposition House Leader on this side along with his House Leader.
For some reason, I am not confident that that bullying will not take place and will not be successful. It has obviously worked on the Clerk and the Speaker and I am sure it is going to work on the Members of the Legislature, so I would like to propose an amendment to the motion.
Mr. Nordling: I move
THAT Motion No. 68 be amended by adding, after the expression Legislative Assembly, where it first appears, the following:
, by the end of November, 1991.
Speaker: The hon. Member for Porter Creek West moves
THAT Motion No. 68 be amended by adding, after the expression Legislative Assembly, where it first appears, the following:
, by the end of November, 1991.
Mr. Nordling: I will be very brief with respect to this amendment. As I said, there are no indications that the bullying will not continue in this House. There is no indication that the denial of the rights and privileges of the Independent Alliance in this House will not go on and on. I am seeking to put a time limit on it so that we know where we stand in this House.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I did not plan to speak to this motion or the amendment, but I feel compelled to respond to the Member for Porter Creek Wests allegation that the Premier is somehow bullying all Members on this side of the House to vote a certain way on this, and that we have all been given our marching orders to tow the line. I want to ensure the Member that that is not the case at all. I certainly have not made up my mind at all, because I am still waiting to hear the arguments. I want to ensure the Member for Porter Creek West that I have been listening quite intently to the arguments presented by him and by the Member for Riverdale South.
There seem to be two arguments put forward by these two Members, which I would like some clarification on and fortunately an amendment has been proposed so there will be an opportunity for them to do that.
One argument being made is that because the Standing Orders of this House and the Legislative Assembly Act are silent on the matter of recognizing the new parties created in mid-term of a mandate, then the House should automatically accept the legitimacy of such a party and provide them with full rights and privileges. I wonder if both Members of the Independent Alliance hold that view and if they can provide some compelling reasons why we should accept it.
The second argument they put forward, which is more important, is the argument that the Independent Alliance should be recognized according to precedents, which have established tradition in this House. The Member for Riverdale South used five examples illustrating such precedents - going back to 1978 when the present Premier was elected as the only New Democratic Member of the House. She used the example when the NDP was the third party and then later on when it became the Official Opposition. The fourth example was when the Liberals had two Members in the House and finally, when the Liberals had only one Member in the House.
I think that that argument was used to somehow make a comparison to a situation that existed then as it exists now and, therefore, they are arguing for the legitimacy and acceptance of the Independent Alliance as a fully recognized party of this House.
What occurs to me, and I am sure to other Members of the House, is that in all five precedents, the individuals ran under a party banner in an election, with a platform based on party policy. I really do not know if the same case can be said for the Independent Alliance. I am looking forward to some response from the two Members opposite in response to that, so that I can get some clarification before I make up my mind about the arguments, both for and against, before this matter is referred, as the motion suggests, to the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges for further discussion.
Mrs. Firth: I am speaking to the amendment; however, I would like to address the questions that were posed by the Member for Klondike. If Mr. Speaker wonders where I am wondering off to, please bear with me.
We have asked for this time commitment so that we do know where we stand. I would like to express to the Member who has put the questions - one with respect to the mid-term thing and the other with respect to party platforms. The mid-term thing has nothing to do with it. We are two sitting Members. We are no different, in changing our status, than the Yukon Party was. I know that the Yukon Party has said that they are different because they had a convention, there were delegates there and that over two-thirds of the delegates made the decision and so on, but many of those delegates are now no longer members of that party, so that addresses the membership question the Members opposite have raised.
There has also been an indication, by the leader of that party, that there is going to be some policy direction change and platform change. Really, when you look at these two incidents, one cannot argue one thing on the one hand and one on the other.
We feel that the only problem here - and what the House Leader originally indicated to me - was that the difficulty was that we were not the same as you were, that we did not run our party the same as the other two parties. I do not think that is fair. The people whom I represent do not think that is fair. They feel that we should be at liberty to run our party which ever way we want and have which ever political philosophies we want, as long as we comply with what is set out in law to be recognized as an official party. We do that. We have members and we have a philosophy. We have an interim co-leader - granted, it is not traditional, but we do have it. We have an official agent. We have a caucus of two members. I am the House Leader of that caucus. The Member for Porter Creek West is the caucus chair. We call in advisory bodies just as the other parties do. We do not understand why we would not be given recognition based on the mere fact that we do not run our party the way that the other parties run their party.
We combine our budgets and have common staff. We do not do anything different than the other parties do, other than our philosophy being different. Is that not what this is all about? The way we operate our party is different. The way our members are involved in our party is different. I think that it is only fair that recognition be given. We have two Members here in the Legislative Assembly. We are the Independent Alliance. We will be running candidates in the next election under the Independent Alliance banner.
My colleague is correct. I should not have to be standing up here explaining this and making this appeal. We should be allowed to have the privileges until such time as tradition or precedent is changed. Until then, I am prepared to do what I have to do to get that representation for the constituents I represent, for the constituents that the Member for Porter Creek West represents, and for all those other Yukoners who agree with our philosophy and what we do and who want to come out and support us. I think that it is important that I stand up and say those things on their behalf.
Speaker: Are you prepared for the question on the amendment?
Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Member: Agreed.
Amendment to Motion No. 68 agreed to
Speaker: Is there any further debate on the motion, as amended?
Mr. Phillips: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I plan to be rather brief but I do want to make a few comments on what has been said here this afternoon.
I do have to agree that this is a very serious matter and all Members on this side are treating this as a very serious matter. I also have to agree with the Member for Porter Creek West that this is a sad day for democracy.
I was quite disappointed today, Mr. Speaker, to hear some of the things that that Member said about yourself, about the Clerks office and about other Members in this House. I think that that was unfair - totally unfair. I think that all Members have dealt with this matter, right from the beginning, in a very serious manner, and I think to lower the level of debate to the level that the Member for Porter Creek West has is shameful.
There is a real question out there about what a legitimate third party is. I think that is a question that the proper committee, the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges, should look at.
The party itself has declared that one of the reasons it is a third party is so that it can access funds. The party has also said that one of the reasons it is a third party is so that people can be totally independent and not bound by any party lines and can vote any way they want on any issue, and that they will just vote for their constituents in the House.
They are now saying that you are being bullied, that all of us on this side are being bullied; that is an unfair comment - absolutely unfair.
They say we are trying to deny fairness and democracy but that is the furthest thing from the truth. Every Member whom I have talked to on this issue is extremely concerned about what will happen on this issue.
There are a lot of questions out there. What happens in the next election if there are 10 Independents elected and they do not want to sit with the two Independents who are here today, and then form five more independent parties - Independent A, B, C, D, E and F?
What do we do with that? What status do we give those kinds of parties? Right now, we do not have adequate rules to decide what constitutes a third party and I think that has to be looked at very seriously.
The Independent Alliance did not run in the last election as independents. They ran as P.C. Yukon candidates. They talk about the Yukon Party not running as the Yukon Party, but they seem to forget that they were members of the Progressive Conservative Yukon Party when it changed its name to the P.C. Yukon Party, and they did not cry foul then. They are crying foul now because there is another minor change.
They quote precedents and try to compare themselves to the Liberal Party, which was a legitimate third party, considered by all people in the Yukon to be a legitimate party.
There are some serious questions of what constitutes a third party. We, on this side, believe that the Standing Committees on Rules, Elections and Privileges should examine it. What will be interesting here today is that we have all accepted the amendment to the motion, which says it will be dealt with by the end of November; but we, on this side, believe it should be dealt with right away, as soon as possible. It will be interesting to see, now that they have put an amendment in and we have all agreed to it, whether they will vote against their own amended motion.
We on this side will be supporting the motion as put forward by the government, and the amendment, and we think the best place to deal with it is in the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges.
Mr. Phelps: I had not intended to speak to this motion during debate today but there is one issue I would like to say a few words about, concerning solely the red herring about a party changing its name and suddenly becoming a new party. What amazes me particularly is that the Member for Porter Creek West, being a lawyer, knows better than that. Time and time again, corporations change their names in law.
No lawyer in his right mind would suggest that those are new corporations when they go through the legislation to change their name. That argument is a red herring. The party is the same party. The name has been changed. In law, I would defy anybody to even attempt to prove otherwise. That is the nature of the beast. I am really shocked that that particular Member would go so far to try to twist reality in his quest for more money from the Government of the Yukon Territory.
Speaker: The hon. Member will now close debate if he now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would like to remind Members, after having heard from a number of Members this afternoon, that the motion that is presented before us this afternoon is to refer the issues and the question about whether or not the two independent Members in this Legislature can identify themselves as a party for the purposes of receiving money from, and party privileges in, this House to a standing committee of this Legislature for discussion and debate.
Some Honourable Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I realize that the Members in the independent group - and this is an aside - have virtually trashed many of the long-standing traditions of this Legislature in the last hour or so, but one of the traditions that I hold closest to my heart is the one that asks for respect for Members while they are speaking in this Legislature. The Member for Porter Creek West and the Member for Riverdale South have both spoken in this debate, and, in one case, twice. I, the Member for Mayo, the duly elected Member for Mayo, am speaking now - and I would like it to be a new tradition for the Independent Alliance - to grant me the courtesy to allow me to speak.
The issue that we have before us this afternoon is simply whether or not we will send this matter - not whether we will decide the matter - but whether we will send this matter to committee for further discussion.
I have heard from most Members now and it appears fairly obvious that Members agree that it should be referred to the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges. Even those Members who originally spoke against the motion have suggested an amendment before even hearing other peoples remarks. They have already suggested an amendment to the motion to have it referred and a decision made by the end of November 1991. I presume that during the course of their remarks they themselves have changed their minds.
I have a few things to say about what has transpired this afternoon. In a sense, I must admit that, after having spoken to many Members over the course of the last few weeks about this situation - and the really true interest that they have taken in determining and helping to determine this question - that the flagrant attack on their characters perpetrated by the Member for Porter Creek West, was, in my view, absolutely shameful. It was the meanest and most vitriolic attack on Members from the Member for Porter Creek West that I think I have ever heard in this Legislature.
Mr. Speaker, you do not have one right in this Legislature; you do not have the right to defend yourself. The Clerk does not have the right to defend himself and it is the most cowardly kind of attack on you, Mr. Speaker, and on the Clerk, to suggest that you are being bullied, that you are not of an independent mind, that you are in fact weak.
It is an attack that is cowardly, and I am ashamed of the Member for Porter Creek West and for his constituents.
For Members information, the Members Services Board was alleged to have the responsibility to decide questions of this nature, but it has no such mandate. An issue such as this has not risen often in the history of this Legislature. It certainly has not risen often while I have been a Member of the Legislature.
We do have a committee of this Legislature, the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges, which is designed in my view, and in the view of other Members, to respond to exactly the kind of issues that have been put forward by the Member for Riverdale South and the Member for Porter Creek West. To suggest that to refer a matter of such importance to this committee might be a shocking manipulation of this House is to willfully misunderstand the traditions of this Legislature. I hope that this committee will debate this matter in public. This committee will ensure by its own rules that all Members, including the two independents, may participate in the discussion. Ultimately, this committee will make recommendations to our Legislature respecting the roles and privileges of Members of this House. It is a tradition in our House that Members decide the privileges of Members, and no one else.
We will be perpetuating that tradition by having this matter referred to the committee and by having the committee provide recommendations back to Members for public discussion.
A Member has suggested that it is the tradition of our House that rules should be changed only upon the unanimous consent of all Members. This is not a tradition I recall. I have been a participant in the House and in House committees for a decade, and I do recall that a good argument usually carries the day but, in all cases, a majority of Members will decide the issue.
Nevertheless, despite the rather aggressive and mean attack, particularly by the Member for Porter Creek West, I do believe in the honour and integrity of every other Member of this House, and that they will, in considering this matter further, consider all the arguments on their merits - as they normally do in House debates.
I have a great deal of respect for the honour and integrity of the Members of this House, even those with whom I disagree on policy matters. I am not in the least intimidated by the combination of guilt-tripping and threats by the Member for Porter Creek West that, somehow, if we vote on this particular referral motion today, we will be denying that Member rights.
That is completely unfair.
I would like the record to point out the obvious. Every word spoken in this Legislature is recorded. Every word spoken in this Legislature will be studied by some bored researcher. Every word in this debate will be reviewed.
I am confident that when this matter is finally referred back to the Legislature, despite the indiscretions of the Member for Porter Creek West and the attacks on the characters of not only Members, but also support staff of this Legislature, that the best decision with respect to our privileges - which we designed for ourselves - will be made.
I would remind the Members of what the fundamental issue is. The issue is not whether or not the House rules mention third-party status. I detected no one, in the discussions I have had with Members, who believes that third parties in this Legislature should not be recognized. The issue is not whether privileges have been withdrawn. The issue is whether or not there is, in fact, a third party in this Legislature.
I suggested in my opening remarks some of the issues that have been presented to me by other Members that they feel the Members of the independent group should respond to. They are genuinely concerned and puzzled by what they regard as being a suggestion that this party defies the commonsense definition of what a party is.
This Legislature, in my time in this House, has always stood for fairness. It has always stood for justice and democracy. Thanks to many Members here, it has also stood for common sense.
I am hoping that when we decide this issue for ourselves, that fairness, justice, democracy and common sense will all be features of the decision that is made.
As Chair of the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges, I wish to inform Members that if the motion passes, and I presume that it will pass unanimously now, it will be my intention to call a meeting of the committee very quickly and hope that thorough discussions will take place and with all Members who wish to participate. I will be more than happy to have this matter referred out of the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges by the end of November 1991.
Mrs. Firth: On a point of order, I wanted to wait until the Member was at the end of his speech, but I would like to ask the Member if he would entertain a question, something that initially I heard him raise twice. I would like to get a clarification from the House Leader.
Speaker: I find that there is no point of order.
Are you prepared for the question on the amended motion?
Some Members: Division.
Speaker: Division has been called. Mr. Clerk, would you kindly poll the House.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Agree.
Hon. Ms. Joe: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Agree.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Agree.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Agree.
Ms. Kassi: Agree.
Mr. Joe: Agree.
Mr. Lang: Agree.
Mr. Phillips: Agree.
Mr. Phelps: Agree.
Mr. Devries: Agree.
Mr. Brewster: Agree.
Mrs. Firth: Disagree.
Mr. Nordling: Disagree.
Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 13 yea, two nay.
Speaker: The yeas have it. I declare the amended motion carried.
Motion No. 68 agreed to as amended
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved that 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 5:18 p.m.
The following Legislative Returns were tabled November 19, 1991:
Beaver dam flooding: Haines Road (Webster)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1234
Extended Care Facility for Watson Lake: Feasibility Study (Hayden)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1233-4
Mental Health Act Consultation (Hayden)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1242
Cost related to educational leave: Deputy Minister, Community and Transportation Services (McDonald)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1231-2
The following Sessional Papers were tabled November 19, 1991:
Report of the Auditor General on the examination of the financial statements of the Government of the Yukon for the year ended March 31, 1991 (Speaker - Johnston)
Correspondence respecting the terms of reference of the Electoral District Boundaries Commission - September/October, 1991 (Speaker - Johnston)
Report from the Clerk of the Assembly on deductions from the indemnities of Members of the Legislative Assembly made pursuant to subsection 39(6) of the Legislative Assembly Act (Speaker - Johnston)
Reviewing the Ground Rules for the Yukon Workplace: The Employment Standards Act: Some options for change (M. Joe)
Public Accounts of the Government of the Yukon Territory for the year ended March 31, 1991 (Penikett)
The following Document was filed November 19, 1991:
Mental Health Act: Regulations and Forms (Hayden)