Thursday, May 14, 1992 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Introduction of Visitors.
Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
Are there any Reports of Committees?
Are there any Petitions?
Introduction of Bills.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 24: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Ms. Joe: I move that Bill No. 24, entitled International Sale of Goods Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Minister of Justice that Bill No. 24, entitled International Sale of Goods Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 24 agreed to
Speaker: Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there are any Notices of Motion?
Are there are any Statements by Ministers?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Totem Oil, loan to by YDC
Mr. Lang: Once again, I would like to query the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation about the infamous $3 million U.S. loan to the foreign-owned company, and the bulk station is located in a foreign country. It is not clear to the general public exactly how much money is involved. I noticed when the Minister made his statement, he specifically said $3 million U.S., so that it would seem like less to the reader, as opposed to giving it in Canadian dollars. I think that the public has the right to know the specific terms and conditions of the $3 million-plus loan. I would ask the Minister how much, in Canadian dollars, does this loan actually represent, and can he confirm that the interest rate being provided for this loan is seven percent. In addition, can he provide the terms and conditions of the loan with respect to the amortization and the term?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The loan was $3 million U.S. It was borrowed in U.S. funds and will be repaid in U.S. funds. That, of course, was to guard against the impact of the exchange rate. The Member can do a conversion himself: if one converts $3 million American to Canadian money at todays exchange rate, one would have $3.6 million. Because the funds are borrowed in American and will be repaid in American, that reference was used. The money was borrowed from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce at seven percent and it has been lent to Totem Oil at seven percent, so there is no mark-up on the interest rate under the terms of that particular loan. The loan is amortized over 10 years and the term of the loan is two years. In other words, payments are structured over 10 years, but after two years we can renegotiate the loan.
As I indicated to Members previously, we are prepared to table the operating agreement covering the loan and conditions and we expect to do that next week, quite easily.
Mr. Lang: There are a lot of local people out there, whether they be in business or otherwise, who would like to be able to borrow money at prime. That is a very preferred position to be in. There are not very many people who can walk into the bank and borrow money at seven percent or the equivalent of prime.
Yesterday, the Minister said that he wanted everybody playing on a level playing field. I should point out that most of the operators who are running these retail gas stations, in particular, borrowed money at about 12 percent.
In view of the fact that the Minister has chosen ...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mr. Lang: ... to lend money to a foreign-owned company at seven percent, and in view of the fact that many of our local companies are paying money at 12 percent-plus to the banks, what help is the Minister going to make available to them so they can borrow money at seven percent in order that they might be able to compete on that level playing field of which the Minister is so fond?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Let us remind ourselves about what has occurred here. A loan has been given to a company that has purchased a fuel terminal that is going to effectively reduce the price of fuel to the Yukon. Members are aware that the Yukon has historically lacked a competitive marketplace for fuel supply. In order to use the cheapest supply route, any supplier would have to use marine shipping.
So what has occurred here is an expansion of the available supply of fuel. To the Yukon consumers, there is a reduced cost. That reduced cost translates into $13 million, which would ordinarily flow out of the territory; $13 million that we can retain here to help create jobs and encourage and promote-
Speaker: Order please. Will the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Thank you.
Mr. Lang: I asked a very straightforward question. The Minister did not answer. I pointed out that there are small businesses in this town that are having to pay back loans at 12 percent. The Minister just announced that, through his...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mr. Lang: ...banking experience, he has just made a loan at seven percent to a foreign company. I want to know what he is going to make available to those retailers who have borrowed money at 13 or 14 percent. Is he going to provide them with the same loan benefits at seven percent?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The point must be made again that for a $3 million loan we have a $13 million benefit to Yukon consumers. If the Member is talking about retailers and wholesalers, they now have the opportunity to access a public facility to get the benefit of that lower priced fuel.
If the Member is talking about businesses in general, he must be quite familiar with the programs we do offer, quite substantively, to Yukon businesses to support their initiatives, investments and operations.
We have a loans program within the government for businesses in general, and this particular loan has paved the way for all consumers to benefit from a reduced cost for their fuel.
Question re: Totem Oil, loan to by YDC
Mr. Lang: It is safe to say that, again, he never answered the question. I will go into another area of concern. As I stated the other day, this issue has generated so much controversy that I have had numerous calls on it. Today, just after 1:00 p.m., we received a copy of a statement that was issued by Teamsters Union, Local 31, which has also been flooded with calls and consternation by union and non-union truckers who are very concerned about what the long-term impact is going to be to them, their families, and their ability to pay their mortgages.
Can the Minister guarantee that the truckers of the territory will not be affected in any way in the trucking of fuel into the territory? I am talking about Canadian jobs. What guarantee can the Minister give this House? Can he tell us if these guarantees are written into this agreement?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I cannot give the Member any guarantee that there will be no impact on truckers, because there probably will be more of them will be hired. When Petro-Canada first began using the facility late last fall, when it first opened, it hired five Whitehorse truckers to move that fuel from Haines to their stations here in the territory. That created work.
Totem Oil has also indicated that it plans to have five people employed at the retail station and office it is locating here in town. The territory is not going to change its volume of consumption of fuel. We are still going to have the same volume. However, we are going to see a price drop, because the cost is dropping.
The employment climate should remain relatively the same, if not better.
Mr. Lang: I doubt very much if any of the listeners are going to take any comfort from the comments made by the Minister. There are a number of other variables involved here.
In view of the fact that he has made the statement that there will be more Canadian trucking jobs, does he have an agreement with the American government that anyone who applies for the necessary PSV running rights into the United States will be able to obtain it them order to haul fuel from Haines?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not sure that I picked up the technical detail of the Members question. I think that the question he was asking is whether or not Totem Oil will be using Canadian truckers.
As I have just indicated in the previous answer, one of the users of the facility, which has a certain market share in the Yukon, is using Whitehorse truckers exclusively. It is clear to expect that the practice will continue.
Mr. Lang: I am speaking of other companies that may use the bulk plant for trucking from Haines. I would like to present the fact that you have to have the necessary running rights approved in Alaska to be allowed to go into Alaska and haul out of Alaska.
In view of the fact that the Minister has guaranteed this House that there will be more Canadian truckers trucking into the United States, I want to know what guarantees he has from the authorities in Alaska that those truckers who apply for the necessary authorities will receive them in order to get those hauling jobs.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I believe that I understand the question. I believe that the Member is asking what guarantees we may have with the Alaskan government to ensure that operating authorities are granted. I cannot answer that.
That procedure will take place through due process and under the regulatory powers that exist. The five trucks that haul Petro-Can fuel now obviously acquired their operating authority with no difficulty. Should there be a need for additional operating authority, I do not anticipate that anything will change in that regard.
Question re: Totem Oil, loan to by YDC
Mr. Nordling: I would like to follow up with the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation.
Will the Minister table his calculations that indicate a $13.5 million saving for the Yukon public in one year?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Certainly, though I hardly see the need for it. I circulated to Members opposite, the media and have made available to the public, the calculations that have determined how that potential of $13 million can be achieved. The $13 million is no small matter in terms of what impact it can have on our economy, in terms of regenerating additional economic wealth and increased consumer spending. We are reducing fuel prices to Yukon consumers, leaving them with additional funds with which they can do other things.
Mr. Nordling: Can the Minister confirm that this calculation is based on an immediate eight-cent-per-litre reduction in the price of gasoline, diesel fuel and home-heating fuel, and that this eight-cent reduction would have to remain in place for one year?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am almost tempted to rise on a point of order and attempt to give my ministerial address of two days ago. I am almost sure that Members have not been listening to what I have been saying.
The calculation of a $13.5 million saving to Yukon consumers is based on an eight-cent-per-litre reduction in heating fuel, diesel and gasoline. The immediate two-cent drop in price that we anticipate to begin occurring when the retail station opens - next week, I suspect - translates to $3.5 million over a period of a year.
I said that quite clearly in my ministerial statement and in the documentation I have provided to Members.
Mr. Nordling: I have the ministerial statement in my hand. Would the Minister agree that this eight-cent-per-litre reduction in gasoline, diesel fuel and home heating fuel is not going to happen, even in the Ministers wildest dreams, and to imply that this $3 million U.S. loan is going to result in a $13 million savings for the Yukon public in the next year is dishonest and misleading to the public?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is clearly breaching standard protocol of the House by suggesting there is misleading or erroneous information being presented by anyone in this House.
The facts speak for themselves. Based on the volume of consumption by Yukon consumers, if the price on gasoline, diesel and home heating fuel is driven down by eight cents, it will translate into a $13.5 million saving. That is the expectation provided to the Members of this House and to the Yukon public by this loan.
Question re: Totem Oil, loan to by YDC
Mr. Lang: One of our major concerns with respect to the analysis that was made is that it is becoming more apparent that, as the days go on, it was not very well thought out. We are very concerned about the long-term implications to long-time Yukoners who have their jobs and families here. We are also concerned about - and I know it is a bad word in here - the implications for those who are involved in small businesses and have made a significant long-term commitment to the territory. The ones I refer to are the independent retail service stations, primarily those along the highway, who have long-term commitments with wholesalers. I am told they are as long as 20 years. It is not as if one can break those agreements at any given time with those wholesalers, because there are certain commitments made by both sides.
If these small operators have long-term commitments and may not be able to transfer over to this bulk station that is supposed to be able to provide fuel at a cheaper wholesale price, I want to know what the effect will be on them. Was that ever taken into account?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Judge Lilles, in his report back in 1988, did a thorough investigation of the reasons fuel in the Yukon was priced exceptionally high. We have some of the lowest fuel taxes in the country. We are down in the four- and five-cent range, whereas other jurisdictions have as high as 16 and 17 cents of taxation on their fuel, per litre. In spite of that low taxation, we have some of the highest fuel prices in the country. There has to be a reason for that. Judge Lilles pointed out that we did not have a competitive marketplace. We had a bottleneck monopoly at Skagway.
Point of order
Speaker: Order. The hon. Member for Whitehorse Porter Creek West, on a point of order.
Mr. Nordling: On a point of order, I am looking at the guidelines for Question Period; rule 9 says a reply to a question should be as brief as possible, relevant to the question asked and should not provoke debate. Mr. Speaker, this Members answers are not relevant to the question asked and I think he should be called to order.
Speaker: The Minister responsible for Yukon Development Corporation, on the point of order.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not sure whether the Member wants to use up the Question Period for his colleagues and delay proceedings, but clearly, there is no point of order. I was asked a question about having taken into account the possible impact on independent retailers who have long-term contracts. In order to answer that adequately, we have to go back to how those independent retailers have procured their long-term contracts.
Speaker: Order please. On the point of order, I would say the Member had a point of order. At this time, I would like to remind both sides again, during Question Period please remember guideline 7 and guideline 9, which state that when asking questions, Members must be very brief in main statements and give one line for the supplementaries. Also, for answering questions, Members must be as brief as possible.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will respect your ruling, Mr. Speaker, and shorten the historical introduction to independent retailers. Judge Lilles noted that the artificially high fuel prices in the territory were the result of a bottleneck monopoly.
Through this loan, we have opened up that competitive marketplace, allowing the independent retailers access to it. They can have access to this new terminal facility and, effectively, pass on the reduced cost of doing business to customers.
Mr. Lang: It is safe to say that the Minister never answered the question. On page 83 of the government contracts, I noted that Prolog Planning Inc., an extra-territorial company, did a number of studies ...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to his supplementary question.
Mr. Lang: ... called The Examination of the Supply of Petroleum. In the studies done by Prolog Planning Inc., did they take into account the impact on independent retail service stations that have long-term commitments and agreements with companies other than those that would be utilizing the bulk plant?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I indicated to Members yesterday that I was quite prepared to release the Prolog report. That is expected to be done next week. They are checking the document over for some minor elements of corporate confidentiality. When we ensure we are not breaching any corporate confidences we undertook with agencies in our reviews, I will be providing the Member with the document.
Mr. Lang: Other people are going to be indirectly affected by the actions of the government. As we know, and as the Minister indicated, there is a new retail service station being built in town to join the marketplace. How is the Minister going to reconcile the fact that there is another retail gas outlet being built in this town with the indirect financial backing of the government, at seven percent, when many, if not all, of the other retailers who have purchased or built ...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please conclude his supplementary.
Mr. Lang: ... have to pay loans at 12 percent and higher? How is the Minister going to reconcile this situation? Does he think it is fair competition?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member will recall from a previous Question Period that our population base has increased by some 5,000 people in the last few years. We have an increasing marketplace. Market-share ratios should not change. Any source of fuel, because of Judge Heino Lilles report, should result in any competitor being able to match costs in this marketplace. The long and short of it is that the reduced fuel prices that will be effected by using this terminal can be matched by any other supplier providing fuel to the territory because of the previously artificially high prices in the market.
Question re: Totem Oil, loan to from YDC
Mr. Phelps: I am fascinated by the answers we are getting from the international financier across the way, the Robert Campeau of the Yukon -
Speaker: Order please. I would ask that the Member please stick to parliamentary language, as it states in our Standing Orders that any language that would cause disorder will be called out of order by the Speaker. So, please, when referring to other Members, please refer to them by their proper names.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Phelps: I am rather intrigued by the endless lists and the series of non sequiturs that emanate from the good Members mouth. I am rather curious about this sudden drop in the price of gasoline that Yukoners are going to experience. The Minister has said that Petro-Can has been using these facilities for some time now, yet they have not dropped their price of gas. It seems to me that the people most outraged that we read about in the papers are the people who are running Petro-Can service stations. Can the Minister explain that?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am certainly not going to profess to be an expert in retail fuel supply in the territory, but let me pass this on the Member: the facility at Haines, Alaska is now going to be operated on a cost-based approach. A cost-based philosophy is not the same as market-based philosophy. Previous to this, we clearly had an environment where prices charged were what the market would bear. That rate was affected by the situation at Skagway, and probably still is.
We have effectively changed the cost-based approach to fuel entering the territory, something that we did not have before.
Mr. Phelps: This is all very interesting and somewhat confusing to us poor folk on this side of the House.
We have the allegation the problems from a bottleneck in Skagway, but Petro-Canada, for years, brought their fuel through Haines - they are doing it now - and the prices have not dropped. You cannot blame Skagway for that.
I wonder how the Minister can explain the pricing practices of their old buddy, the almost-wholly-owned Crown corporation, which is somewhat privatized with the majority held by government, when they are quite upset with the Ministers actions.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Again, it is not my place to make judgment or comment on the oil companys corporate philosophy or performance. What we have, and I repeat to the Member, is a changed situation of how fuel will enter the territory. We are saying no to monopolies and we are saying yes to competition. We are saying that there should be an open fuel facility for all people to use and we have helped to create that facility. This translates into eight cents a litre over the period of a year, into $13 million of additional spending power by the Yukon people and I think that is good business.
Mr. Phelps: The old philosopher over there is changing the whole philosophy of how private enterprise works.
I wonder if the Minister could perhaps turn his attention to another problem that we have, and change the way in which some of our predators in the Yukon are eating the big game. Maybe he could convince the wolves, for example, to go on an entirely vegetarian diet. Would the Minister consider that?
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products, litigation costs
Mr. Devries: I would like to move on to one of the Ministers former businesses and this is in regard to the gone with the wind sawmill in Watson Lake.
With the sale of the assets of Yukon Pacific Forest Products now being completed, I would like to know if the Minister has a final tally of the total cost of the receivership and the litigation costs pertaining to the receivership?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I suspect that we, do but I certainly do not have it on my feet, or in my head, today.
Mr. Devries: I had phoned the Ministers assistant to inform him that I was going to ask this question, but obviously, he did not get around to it.
From information I have received, there was not enough money in the sale of the assets to pay Revenue Canada for the outstanding claim that they had. According to the Income Tax Act, the directors of Yukon Pacific Forest Products would be held responsible. One of these was a director who was acting on behalf of Yukon Development Corporation.
Is this director being held liable for this, and how much money does this involve?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not familiar with the issue. I will take notice of the question.
Mr. Devries: Nice easy answers, Mr. Speaker.
Perhaps the Minister could check. If the directors money was paid by the Yukon Development Corporation, was this money evenly distributed among the directors that were on the board of Yukon Pacific Forest Products, or was this director the only one who received a bill for the full amount that was due to Revenue Canada?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I recall during last session the Member for Hootalinqua raising a number of questions surrounding the litigation at Watson Lake sawmill and results of the receivership, including costs and so on.
I will undertake for the Member to update the status of financial matters surrounding the receivership at Watson Lake and table such information in the House. It will include the matter of litigation against a board director.
Question re: Totem Oil, loan to by YDC
Mrs. Firth: I would like to go back to the $3 million loan to Totem Oil and direct my question to the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation.
I would like to ask the Minister specifically if there was an analysis done of the possible impact on the local gas station owners and fuel suppliers resulting from the decision to loan this $3 million to Totem Oil. I am not asking about the long-term agreements, just about the potential loss of jobs, potential reduction of services and potential closure of gas stations. Was there any analysis done on the impact of this decision with respect to those issues?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The short answer is yes. It will be contained in the document from Prolog that I propose to table.
I should point out to the Member that there is no anticipation of job loss. It is a simple marketplace reality: if the same volume of fuel is being consumed, with perhaps even an anticipated increase, the same amount of retail capacity, truckers and employees are going to be required.
When one translates the savings that are generated by the reduced cost to consumers in the form of the $13 million, there is a lot of job opportunity and job creation in that.
Mrs. Firth: I appreciate that the Minister has his personal opinions. Now we are going to get a censored report to tell us exactly what happened.
I have a lot of constituents who are gas station operators and fuel suppliers. They feel they are caught in the middle of a dispute between White Pass and YTG. They feel they are the victims of this dispute that has been going on for some time.
I would like to ask the Minister if he, at any time, had his people or consultants interview or consult with the local gas station owners and fuel suppliers?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The extent of local consultation would clearly have been very minimal, mainly because of the delicate and sensitive nature of the activity. I believe the Prolog report will reveal the extent of those kinds of discussions.
I would have to conclude by saying that Members will just have to wait until I can table the documentation surrounding the work done by the Development Corporation, along with Economic Development, in the last year during the discussions that led up to this particular loan.
Mrs. Firth: The message I am getting is that the consultation has been virtually non-existent - the fuel suppliers and gas station operators are now in a position where they are hastily trying to have discussions with their suppliers regarding their contracts and trying to have discussions regarding how they are going to be able to keep their services going on a full time basis.
I would like to ask the Minister whether, in his report, they analyzed, specifically, the fact that the timing of this initiative is that the first reductions are going to be at a time when the gas stations are operating at their busiest time, which is the summer, and whether any analysis or idea has been give with respect to what happens in the winter when sales drop off and it is the quiet time, which is the time...
Speaker: Order please. I ask that the Member please conclude her supplementary.
Mrs. Firth: ...that the largest reduction is supposed to come in fuel prices.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: We should clarify something here. What we are talking about is a reduction in the cost of that fuel. We are not talking about a reduction in mark-up or a shift in margins or a change in volumes. We are talking about a reduced cost to the retailer because of this facility being made available to all people.
The Member also had a lengthy preamble about consultations. I should remind Members that, in 1988, Judge Lilles did extensive consultations with all of the industry, with many regular consumers, with retailers, wholesalers, suppliers - there were extensive consultations and extensive recommendations. The recommendations we got out of that report said we should get into Skagway to try to create an open public use facility. We tried. We tried to get into Skagway, but we could not. The report said our next best alternative was Haines and, when we saw an opportunity, we jumped on it and we delivered.
Speaker: Time for Question Period has now lapsed.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Bill No. 4: Third Reading
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 4, standing in the name of the Hon. Ms. Joe.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I move that Bill No. 4, entitled Victims Service Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 4, entitled Victim Services Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 4 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 4 has passed this House.
Bill No. 75: Third Reading
Clerk: Third Reading, Bill No. 75, standing in the name of the Hon. Ms. Joe.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I move that Bill No. 75, entitled An Act to Amend the Territorial Court Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 75, entitled An Act to Amend the Territorial Court Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 75 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 75 has passed this House.
Bill No. 2: Third Reading
Clerk: Third Reading, Bill No. 2, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Byblow.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I move that Bill No. 2, entitled Economic Development Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Economic Development that Bill No. 2, entitled Economic Development Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 2 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 2 has passed this House.
Bill No. 33: Third Reading
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 33, standing in the name of the Hon. Ms. Joe.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I move that Bill No. 33, entitled Registered Nurses Profession Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Minister of Justice that Bill No. 33, entitled Registered Nurses Profession Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 33 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 33 has passed this House.
Bill No. 47: Third Reading
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 47, standing in the name of the Hon. Ms. Joe.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I move that Bill No. 47, entitled Yukon Advisory Council on Womens Issues Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister responsible for the Womens Directorate that Bill No. 47, entitled Yukon Advisory Council on Womens Issues Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 47 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 47 has passed this House.
Bill No. 19: Third Reading
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 19, standing in the name of the Hon. Ms. Joe.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I move that Bill No. 19, entitled Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act, 1992, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 19, entitled Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act, 1992, be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 19 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 19 has passed this House.
Bill No. 6: Third Reading
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 6, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. McDonald.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Bill No. 6, entitled Workers Compensation Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved the Minister responsible for Workers Compensation that Bill No. 6, entitled Workers Compensation Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 6 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 6 has passed this House.
Bill No. 93: Third Reading
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 93, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Webster.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I move that Bill No. 93, entitled Electoral District Boundaries Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that Bill No. 93, entitled Electoral District Boundaries Act, be now read a third time.
Mr. Phelps: I did not feel that it was appropriate to simply rubber-stamp this bill in third reading as is so often the case with bills that pass through this House.
I want to make it very clear that I object strenuously to this particular bill being passed into law. I make this objection because the manner in which this bill was dealt with in Committee was simply to look at some technical aspects of the report and the bill tabled before us.
One amendment was made. I supported the amendment entirely, and indeed, argued for this amendment, to ensure that the entire Hamlet of Mount Lorne be included in the proposed Mount Lorne electoral riding. I am pleased that that minor adjustment was made. Obviously, it was one that works in the interest of all concerned, particularly the residents at the end of the Annie Lake road.
My concern has to do with the perception of a grave injustice being done in at least one of the ridings. I refer, of course, to the proposed riding of Ross River-Southern Lakes, which, I must say, is a riding that makes very little sense to anyone with whom I have spoken.
It makes little sense to people in Ross River. I would read a letter addressed to the government, attention Premier Tony Penikett, from the Ross River Dena Council. It says, Dear Sir, Re: Boundaries Commission Report:
We have reviewed the report from the Boundary Commission and find it disturbing. The elders have expressed that, while we were trying to unite the Kaska - Upper Liard, Watson Lake and Ross River - in the formation of the Kaska Tribal Council and, now, we find that the commission report has grouped us with the Teslin and Carcross Tlingit people.
The distance and the language group does not really relate to Kaskas. We have made suggested changes to the commission, and we are enclosing it to emphasize our objection and suggestion.
I would like to table that letter, and I have a few more here. I have a letter addressed to the Hon. Tony Penikett from a person by the name of M. Martindale, Tagish. She writes: I am writing to you to register my objection to the new boundaries recommended for the riding of Hootalinqua. Specifically, I am opposed to Ross River included as part of the electoral district. Ross River has nothing in common with the Southern Lakes, Carcross and Tagish. As well, the transportation difficulties posed by having to travel to Ross River in the winter from either the Carcross, Tagish or Teslin area suggest that this community should not be part of the Hootalinqua riding.
I have another one here, again addressed to the Hon. Tony Penikett. It is from Lawrie Crawford and Brian Dwinnell, Crag Lake. As you are from Ross River, Mr. Speaker, you may not know where Crag Lake is, but we know it is part way between Carcross and Tagish.
I would like to comment on the recommendations of the recent Electoral Boundaries Commission. The communities of Ross River, Teslin and Carcross are communities in transition, and have an absolute need for quality representation. The lack of similarity among these communities regarding issues and concerns, the lack of respect shown for traditional aboriginal linkages and the lack of communicative effectiveness, especially between Carcross and Ross River, give rise to my request for reconsideration that Ross River should be included in the Watson Lake riding. Voter disparity figures may need to be neglected in order for common sense and respect to override the response. Referring to that there will be no changes to the recommended boundaries unless there is an overwhelming public outcry" does not consider the nature and temperament of rural residents. Rural residents do not possess the same loud voice and style of the special interest groups your government is used to listening to.
Please consider this letter a plea for rational decision-making, common sense and respect for traditional First Nation linkages to override the political solutions of southern consultants. Those consultants made decisions based on self-government assumptions, which have changed since the report was written. These consultants made interpretations of the consideration of aboriginal voice in decision making, and allowed it to supersede both quality representation and respect for traditional linkages.
Your government needs to address the unique nature of Yukon population on our own terms with our own solutions, considerations and priorities.
Another letter is from Tagish. It reads as follows, Dear Sir, As a resident of Tagish, I am opposed to the proposed boundaries for Hootalinqua. The community of Ross River should not be part of this riding. It is too far away from Tagish and the other communities of Carcross and Teslin.
The only way to reach this community by road in winter is...
Speaker: Order please. I would like to remind the Member of Standing Order 19, wherein a Member will be called to order if they unnecessarily read from Hansard or other documents. At this time, if the Member could just table these letters, I am sure they could be circulated so other Members could read them at will.
Mr. Phelps: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will certainly abide by your ruling. I will table this letter from Tagish, another one from Carcross, another one from Carcross, another one from Carcross, another one from Carcross, another one from Carcross, another one from Carcross, another one from Crag Lake, another one from Carcross, yet another one from Carcross, another one from Carcross, another one from Carcross, another one from Carcross, another one from Carcross, another one from Carcross, another one from Carcross, yet another one from Carcross - although they live in Tagish - and another one from Carcross.
I am glad that you made that ruling, because I did not want to have to repeat, essentially, the same themes over and over again. Here is another one from Tagish that I forgot mention. I will point out that it is not very often that people from rural ridings take the time to write letters on this type of an issue.
I said during debate on second reading that it was my view that the report, instead of it being debated along with the bill in Committee as it has been, ought to have been treated as a draft report, and that the commission or a new commission in its place, ought to have then travelled around the territory again to hear what residents have to say with respect to the suggestions made in the draft.
That was something that was raised several times at my meeting with the people in Carcross and Tagish. The people raised this issue about the proposed boundaries and their very deep-seated concerns with regard to the new riding. It certainly makes complete sense to me and this has been done in the past by former commissions.
During our debate in second reading, I said that it was my view that it would be improper for us to make significant changes to the boundaries, because it would give the appearance of gerrymandering. The problems with this particular riding, the proposed Ross River-Southern Lakes riding, are fairly large in scope and any changes to the boundaries would be large and would require other adjustments in other ridings in the territory. I did not feel then, and I do not feel now, that this House is the place to start making wholesale changes to a commission report.
I think that the people of the Yukon deserve better than what they have received from this House, in terms of how their heartfelt objections have been handled.
I think the people of the Yukon deserved a chance to come out and discuss something meaningful, which they would do with a draft report. I must say, when I attended meetings, people came to the meeting not really knowing what the subject matter was all about and without anything concrete to get their teeth into. This placed them at a very severe disadvantage.
I am putting all these things on the record because I do feel that a grave injustice is about to be done to a good number of people who live not only in Carcross and Tagish but also in Teslin and Ross River. I hate to see it happen; I want them to know that it has not been done without my doing everything I can to seek redress.
Mr. Nordling: I would also like to put my position on the record.
I agree with the Member for Hootalinqua in his submission. I also believe that the report should have been treated as a draft report and feedback received from Yukoners. I know that we would never have satisfied all Yukoners, but we certainly could have improved on the report and the bill as it is now.
The minor amendments suggested to us in this House by the chief electoral officer could have been considered by the commission. It is not our place to sit in this Legislative Assembly and draw the boundaries, because of the appearance of gerrymandering. The idea was that an independent commission would do that job. We asked the commission to do that job and it was done; but, in my submission, it was not complete. We did not give Yukoners a chance to come back and look at it and have their input. It was left up to us in this Legislature. This put us all in a very difficult position. We found ourselves tangled and confused. We made a few minor amendments and are now going to pass it.
I am disappointed that such an important piece of legislation, which affects a lot of Yukoners, has received the treatment that it has and is going to be passed in such an imperfect state.
Mr. Lang: I want to make a number of observations. Judge Lysyk did the best he could in respect to the situation and in trying to meet all the terms and conditions set out in the legislation. The one that was uppermost in all Members minds was the question of voter parity throughout the territory and how to achieve that, with the exception of Old Crow, on which most of the representation that was made to the inquiry said it should meet the terms and conditions of being an exceptional case.
I can sympathize with the Member for Hootalinqua. I can see his position, as he clearly stated it, that the geography that has been presented for the new riding of Southern Lakes is going to be very broad and difficult to cover, similar to the present situation for you, Mr. Speaker.
I do not know what another inquiry or commission would do that has not already been done. The options are obvious. Either one includes a community like Ross River in the Electoral District of Southern Lakes, or you include it in the constituency of Faro. That would seem to be me to be the two options anyone would have with respect to trying to meet voter parity and looking at the geographics and demographics of the area.
I am not totally happy with the report, either. I recall the report of 1979, when there was a major review and major changes to the ridings. I do not think all Members were happy with the report brought into the Legislature at that time. However, it was a report most Members could live with, and they felt there was impartiality involved and no question of gerrymandering, or anything of this nature, which was very important so the people of the territory would feel that the boundaries that had been struck had had no political interference.
We have accomplished that in the way we have handled the report; one minor change, as the MLA for Hootalinqua pointed out, was made at the request of that MLA, recognizing the geography of the Mount Lorne hamlet and the situation those few people would have been in if they had been included in another riding. Obviously, it did not upset the question of voter parity and I think it was an oversight, in all likelihood, by the good judge who submitted the report.
I am going to be voting for the bill. I think a decision has to be made, and I do not feel that going back out to the public is going to accomplish anything more than what has already been done. Therefore, I think we should proceed as is laid out in the legislation.
Speaker: The hon. Member will close debate if he now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I want to thank the Members opposite for making their last minute pleas on Bill No. 93, and especially the Member for Hootalinqua, who discussed at great length some concerns brought forward by his constituents about how inappropriate it was to suggest an electoral district called Ross River-Southern Lakes, which would range from Carcross through Tagish to Teslin to Ross River.
Obviously, a lot of people are upset about that proposal but I want to remind the Member that there are just as many other people who were upset, and took time to write either their MLA or the Premier, about their concerns - for example, the Mayo-Tatchun riding and I understand there are some from the Kluane riding as well.
As to the suggestion being made that we put this out for another round of discussions, with this being a draft, I really do not see that that would have very much value - for some of the reasons already stated by the Member for Porter Creek East. For example, I do not know whether all people in the territory would begin with the same principle as put forward by the Yukon Party and by the party on this side that we have either 17 or 19 ridings.
This exercise begins by trying to get some kind of conformity for all residents of the territory. It would be a difficult task on that score alone. Given the other requirement that we have voter parity, with the exception of Old Crow, which all parties in this House argued for; given the population of the City of Whitehorse at the present time and the projected growth rate for the next two or three elections, for which these electoral districts may serve; given the growing proportion of the population in the Whitehorse area, compared to the rest of the Yukon; all lends itself to the inevitable conclusion that was reached by Judge Lysyk.
He had a very difficult job to do, and he made his best effort to tour the territory and speak to as many people as possible. I would be willing to wager a fair sum of money that most of the people who complained to the Member for Hootalinqua and the Premier about the Ross River-Southern Lakes riding did not bother to show up at the public meetings held by the commission in order to discuss possible arrangements for electoral districts.
There were not a lot of changes made to this bill during second reading debate. We were not tinkering with it at all; no attempts were made to be gerrymandering. The one concern that was raised by the Member for Hootalinqua was a valid one - the recommendation to have the entire Hamlet of Mount Lorne included in the Electoral District of Mount Lorne - and did appear in the text of the commissions report, and the amendments brought forward to correct that oversight were certainly in line. I want to thank all Members of the House for their interest in this bill and speaking to it in second reading. Although it is not perfect, and we are not all happy, I think it is a good compromise and will stand us well.
Speaker: Are you prepared for the question?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Some Hon. Members: Disagreed.
Speaker: I think the ayes have it.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 93 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 93 has passed this House.
Bill No. 44: Third Reading
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 44, standing in the name of the Hon. Mrs. Joe.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I move that Bill No. 44, entitled An Act to Amend the Liquor Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister responsible for the Yukon Liquor Corporation that Bill No. 44, entitled An Act to Amend the Liquor Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 44 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 44 has passed this House.
Mr. Speaker: We are now prepared to receive the Administrator, acting in her capacity as Lieutenant Governor, to grant assent to the bills that have been passed in this House.
Administrator enters the Chamber announced by the Sergeant-at-Arms
ASSENT TO BILLS
Administrator: Please be seated.
Speaker: The Assembly has, at its present session, passed certain bills, to which, in the name and on behalf of the Assembly, I respectfully request your assent.
Clerk: Victim Services Act; An Act to Amend the Territorial Court Act; Economic Development Act; Registered Nurses Profession Act; Yukon Advisory Council on Womens Issues Act; Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act, 1992; Workers Compensation Act; Electoral District Boundaries Act; An Act to Amend the Liquor Act.
Administrator: I am pleased to give assent at this time.
Administrator leaves the Chamber
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
Are there any Government Bills?
Bill No. 13: Second Reading - continued
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 13, standing in the name of the Hon. Mrs. Joe; amendment to motion for second reading moved by Mr. Lang; adjourned debate, the Hon. Mr. McDonald.
Speaker: The amendment before the House is
THAT that the motion for second reading be amended by deleting all the words after the word That and substituting for them the following: Bill No. 13, entitled An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act, be not now read a second time but that it be read a second time this day six months hence.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I certainly enjoyed myself last night as we were discussing this latest amendment. I did say most of what I wanted to say, at that time, about the amendment. I do not want to be accused of setting the tone for the debate this afternoon, although I probably will be again joining in at some later time, when we discuss the main motion or another amendment.
I will allow someone else to continue the debate and see where we go from there.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: As I sat here yesterday listening to most of this debate, I began to think that in this territory we must have just perfect employers - each and every one of them. Then, when the Member made the amendment, which is commonly known as the six-month hoist, a commonly used tactic in Legislatures or parliaments when the Opposition wants to kill a bill - I am not referring to the Member for Kluane.
It became very clear that we were talking about unreal things at that time.
This bill has gone through a five-month process - a very real process, and it is time for it to be enacted. The old act, the first act, came into effect in 1985 and amendments are, indeed, necessary to that old bill. They are necessary now; we do not want to kill this bill.
We are attempting to bring this legislation into line with legislation across the country, which recognizes that the little people - the non-organized people, the women who work in the labour force who are not part of unions, the kids who work at various summer jobs - who need some form of protection other than the goodwill of their employers, which in some instances is there. There are good employers in this territory; I know that. There are also employers who are not perfect employers. The fact that labour services branch in 1991-92 received over 2,000 enquiries, opened 243 wage claims, filed 22 certificates for wages with the Yukon Supreme Court and collected over $195,000 in wages owed to employees proves that we do need some improvement to our labour legislation.
There are young people and other people in this territory who work at jobs where they are afraid to criticize or question the fact that they have not received their wages. They fear that they will be fired if they complain. These people do not have a union.
It seems to me that it is the responsibility of government to set a minimum standard for employers. The bill before us does not deserve to have the six-month hoist. This bill will help protect those people who are most vulnerable in our labour force - the last-hired and the first-fired employees. Therefore, I cannot accept the six-month hoist that is being attempted on this bill.
Mr. Phillips: I will be brief in my comments on the amendment.
I think the government Members know that the motion last night was not in any way an attempt to kill the bill. The Minister of Justice is nodding her head and saying that it was, but I had a conversation with the Minister of Justice after the House adjourned last night. We were virtually forced by the actions of the government to do whatever we could in this House to give the people who are going to be affected by this bill an opportunity to at least see a copy of it. I am surprised that the Member for Whitehorse South Centre does not agree to a three- or four-day delay in dealing with the second reading of this bill. I can assure you that not one community outside the City of Whitehorse would have had an opportunity to get a copy of the bill.
The Members across the floor are supposed to be the people who care about the communities, yet they put a piece of legislation in here that will have a profound effect on the ways of doing business in those communities, and they are not interested in allowing these businesses four days to review the proposed legislation.
Although we do not have a lot of business on the Order Paper, we do have enough business; we could have moved into the supplementaries, or into some of the other legislation that we have before us. This would have taken up todays Order Paper, and we could have given people enough time to review the legislation.
I thought that my first motion last night was a very legitimate motion, and it was meant to be taken seriously. The Members across the floor, particularly the Minister, told us that this is one of the most important pieces of legislation that we had before us, especially in this session, and it affects the workers of the territory. I agree that it affects the workers of the territory, but it also affects the employers of the territory, and we should not be ramming it through at high speed.
I know that all that we are talking about here is the principle of this particular motion. But, we were given no indication when the bill was tabled that we would be dealing with it in 24 hours. We have no idea if the government plans to rush this thing through next week, with very little debate and passing the bill without any amendments.
The indication that the government has given us is that they are not prepared to accept anything now, and that this bill is going through, no matter what.
We have to do our duty as legislators to at least give the Yukon public an opportunity to have four measly, little days to review the legislation. That was not an unreasonable request. That request was turned down by the side opposite. They want to take the most controversial bill that we have had in this session, call it in on a night session, run it through the House, get it through as quickly as possible, with no one in the gallery to listen to it. The government does not want to let anyone know that they are doing this. The government wants to get this bill through as quickly as possible, as it has taken too much flack for it already. By doing this we will have to deal with the bill next week, and when Tony is back we will get this thing going real quick and we will get this off our platter as quickly as possible.
The amendment put forward by the Member for Porter Creek East was the only other option that we had, as the Opposition, to deal with this matter and to slow it down somewhat so that the people it is going to affect at least have an opportunity to read the bill.
If the Member for Whitehorse South Centre was honest with herself and with those of us in this House, she would know that. There may be a lot of people out there who think that this bill was well written. I have heard from some people already, and I told the Minister that last night, that some people have told me that they are quite pleased with what has happened in the bill. I am pleased to see that some of the changes have been made in the bill. I still have some problem areas with the bill, but, in general, I am pleased to see that some of the changes were made. Everyone in the Yukon had to tackle the Minister to get the changes made, but at least some of the changes were made. There was no panic, so to speak, to get this bill through the House, so we should have given people the opportunity to look at it. I will be supporting the amendment because I think that the government was unreasonable when it would not accept our request for a short adjournment of the debate for four days.
Mr. Brewster: I am going to have to speak for rural Yukon. I am rather surprised that the Minister of Justice has, apparently, forgotten about rural Yukon. This bill was tabled here on Tuesday afternoon, and it was debated at second reading last night. I do not know how anyone expected it to get out to any of the rural areas. Going in almost any direction - south, north or even into the Klondike - is at least two days away by mail. Because it was given second reading debate only last night, there is no way it could be in the mail by Thursday to go north.
I would like to point out something else for the Ministers information: it took four days for a letter from Workers Compensation Board, at a cost of $3.97 for postage, to come six blocks to me. It also took another letter from the Minister of Community and Transportation Services 14 days to come downstairs from upstairs, and I have the envelope to prove this - and he gave me 10 days in which to make a decision. I did not have to make it because the letter arrived four days too late. It also took the Minister of Education seven days to come downstairs with a letter; I have the letter. And the Minister said in Committee of the Whole that I had the letter. I did not have it. Let me point out that one cannot even get mail out of this building in four days, yet they expect the people to see this legislation.
They say that the draft was out there. If this bill that came in was the same as that draft, you can rest assured that a lot of people would have been very, very upset.
Some of the changes are good and I would like the Minister to explain to me why the people in the rural areas and in the lodges, who are very, very severely affected, are not even going to have a chance to look at it. They will try to have it passed before then. Even the four days my colleague suggests is not enough. For instance, in the north area, if it did not get out in the mail today - which it did not and will not, and next Monday is a holiday - it will not get out there until next Wednesday. It is quite apparent that they are going to push this through. It was quite apparent at the meeting called by the Yukon Party. Almost 100 people were there. That was one of the biggest meetings I have seen for a long time. So it is apparent that an awful lot of people are very concerned and a lot of those people had come from outside Whitehorse.
I have a lot of other things to say but I will wait until the debate in Committee.
I would like it explained how rural people are going to have that bill before next Wednesday or Thursday.
Mr. Devries: I would also like to speak in support of this amendment. Already, I have most of my weekend booked talking with various people in Watson Lake. This includes both employers and employees who would like to have a look at this act. One employer, who has never seen the act but has heard so much about it, just wants to sit down and look it over.
I have to agree with the Member for Kluane that it is very important that we at least get a few days, or better yet, the six months, to give people the opportunity to review this act. Employers would then have an opportunity to understand how they would implement some of the additional paperwork that they are going to be faced with, and other such things.
I also feel that it is important to the economic future of the Yukon. People may become hesitant to get involved or to invest in an area if word gets out that legislation of this sort gets pushed through.
Many of us in the tourist trade are anticipating a very busy summer. Indications are that there is going to be a lot of spotty bursts of tourists rather than a real steady flow. This is going to strain a lot of facilities to the limit. Again, I think of the clause regarding emergency overtime. I do not think this would be a good time to restrict the ability of employers to meet the demand of the tourists. The demands of this act being placed upon employers may hinder their opportunities to facilitate the tourists in the way in which they would like.
I do not think there would be anything wrong with leaving the Employment Standards Act as it is for the summer. The Minister will have the opportunity to receive more complaints from employees if that happens, and this would give her more ammunition to justify what she is suggesting, sometime next fall.
I think Yukoners have the opportunity to make 1992 a great year for tourists. I certainly do not think we should burden everyone with more red tape.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The Member for Porter Creek East proposed a motion that this bill be read a second time, but that it be read a second time this day six months hence. Parliamentarians right across the country understand why such an amendment is introduced to any bill. It is a known fact that this is an amendment that is made to kill a bill. It is as simple as that. The Member for Riverdale North says, Come on. It is a known fact.
Yet, when the Member made it yesterday, I thought back to the days of other bills that they were very opposed to, such as the Human Rights Act, where this action was used to do exactly the same thing. Knowing at that time that we were dealing with a 20-year-old piece of legislation, it did not seem to matter that we were living in the dark ages. It was done, at that time, over and over again. This is what is happening with this bill.
The reason for doing that is that he feels that the government is, on a continuous basis, viewing the Legislature as a necessary evil, as opposed to a body that is supposed to be debating issues in a constructive manner. What a bunch of nonsense.
He was so violent and so passionate in his speeches last night that I know it did scare some of the people who were listening to it and had never heard him before. People who know the guy as a nice charming person who knocks on doors and shakes hands with his constituents and listens to everything they have to say were a bit surprised at his violent attitude in this House.
He talked about six months because there had not been a lot of consultation. The Member for Riverdale North said that they had not had a chance to react to the bill. This has been a long process; I will listen to them for as long as they want to criticize the manner in which the consultation took place but, despite that, I know we have involved many people in the process and they were able to come to this House with the bill in its present form.
The workbook, which was mentioned by other Members in this House, was released in November - five months ago, almost half a year - and it went through a long process. Some Opposition people said that they had never read it. Well, hundreds of people did read it. As the Member just mentioned, 100 people who went to a Tory meeting had read it, as there was a lot of criticism from people out there as a result of the workbook.
The Member spoke about a balance in our draft form. I did, indeed, ask for a balance by looking at all of the information we got back, and we feel that the draft was somewhat of a balance, knowing that the business community would be displeased and also knowing that the employees would be displeased because we had not gone far enough either way. Despite that, we did do a draft and we released the draft to the individuals who had submitted their reasons for either wanting changes or not. So, that information did go out.
A question was mentioned with regard to the committee; the committee that was struck certainly did not finish the job it had started to do, and it was taken on by the Yukon Council on the Economy and Environment. Some consensus was reached. They proposed that sections be included in this act, and we did that.
In the area of the act where no consensus was reached - and there were only four of them - we left the act as it was, in two cases; in another case, we changed the section around somewhat so that it remained almost the same, and one we left as it was suggested. There were additions to this act, as I said, from those recommendations.
I did talk to the president of the Yukon Chamber of Commerce prior to introducing the bill in the House. I never said he was pleased with the bill, as the Member for Riverdale North suggested. He was pleased with the process, and I let him know what was included in the act and how we dealt with the matters they had not reached a consensus on.
Since the bill was introduced, I have talked to a number of business people. Most people have been more reasonable than Members on the side opposite in regard to the manner in which we have gone ahead with this. One business person - who was a Tory, and tells me every time I talk to him that he is a Tory - praised the bill and said he was a good employer and understood the kinds of things we were saying.
The Member for Watson Lake talked about the overtime and how we should leave this bill until sometime after this summer is over and that a lot of people in the lodges were going to need people to work overtime. It is all well and good, if you are a young mother with children at home and have an extensive family, such as the Member has, for his daughter who works, to take care of that child. However, when an emergency situation arises with a child at day care, the predicament a young mother might be in has to be taken into consideration, and other cases such as that. That is a pretty important reason for asking for a 24-hour notice. The act also allows, by mutual consent, for a person to work overtime.
They can still do that; that is still in the act. Employees do not always have to have 24 hours notice. If the employer asks the person to work overtime and the person agrees to do that, then that is allowed.
In no discussion I have heard do the reasons on the other side for delaying this act for six months take into consideration the employee. I have heard no one talk about the employee, only the business people. Certainly, the business people have been very involved in this decision. As I said, most business people are much more reasonable than the Members on the other side of the House, who are opposing this act and asking for a delay in dealing with it.
I could go on and on and talk about a lot of things that I am aware of. I will wait until the main motion.
I have just today received a letter from a constituent in the Member for Porter Creek Easts riding that talks about the problems she is having in the labour force and offers some suggestions on how we are going to deal with that. That is just one of many.
I think that it is important that we proceed with this act. We are prepared to sit for as long as it takes to deal with this act. It will be open for discussion some time, maybe two weeks from today. Members will have time to consult with those individuals they are concerned about, and it seems to be only the employers that they are concerned about.
We are into second reading, and we are not jamming it through the House. We are talking about the policies in the act, and we are expressing our position on it. That is all that we are doing in second reading.
We will be proceeding with this bill in Committee of the Whole, where we will deal with the act clause by clause. I am prepared to do that anytime down the road; maybe next week, or the week after, but not six months hence. We cannot wait for the side opposite to contact every single employer in the Yukon.
I realize that concerns have been expressed by lodge owners. I am familiar with a lot of those lodge owners. In fact, the owner of a lodge in the riding of Watson Lake happens to be the grandmother of two of my grandchildren. I am familiar with some of the concerns they have there and I have received presentations from those people.
We have had this bill delivered to a number of business people in town today. I would hope that they will have a chance to read it over the weekend. We will certainly look at the possibility of having some copies of this bill delivered to businesses in the communities. I am not exactly sure how that can be accomplished, but I hope that Members who are going home this weekend will take copies with them.
I cannot wait six months to do this. Too many things have to be taken into consideration. We care about the people of the Yukon - both employer and employee - and we have listened to them. I think that this is a decent act and we will proceed with it. If it takes us a month, fine.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I do not plan to speak for a long time on this amendment, which is basically a six-months hoist, based, I guess, on the concern put forward by the side opposite that there has not been enough time for public review of the bill.
As we are in second reading debate, I want to remind all Members that the purpose of second reading is to debate the principles of the bill. I can assure you that most Yukoners who have a concern and interest in employment standards are certainly aware of the principles. This has been out in the public since late November 1991. It has been discussed quite extensively in public meetings held around the territory. Some of these meetings were even hosted by the Member for Riverdale North, so I am quite certain that he, personally, is aware of the principles of the bill. One would think he would be fully prepared to debate those principles here in the House at this time, when we are on second reading.
Members should know that the people I have spoken to - and I have spoken to some people in Dawson City who have raised some concerns with me about this piece of legislation - have made it quite obvious that they are aware of the principles of the bill. That certainly came through in the reports in the media on the work of the four-person committee, that committee that had two business and two labour representatives on it; it was followed quite closely. There certainly was some difference of opinion at that stage and, for that reason, the draft bill was sent to the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment, which reviewed it again to deal with the principles that were considered to be contentious.
They dealt with the bill in its entirety; they came out with 53 recommendations, of which 52 have been accepted in the bill before us. The extensive reporting by the media on that particular exercise brought to the attention of the public the principles of this bill that we are debating in second reading. Of course, all Members should be prepared to deal with it.
It is obvious that not all people in the Yukon, employees and employers, are happy with what has been recommended by the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment in its report, and what is reflected here in this bill. However, I submit that those people will have time to thoroughly review this bill and get back to MLAs with their concerns before Committee goes through the bill clause by clause, which will not happen until next week.
We have had a very fair process of raising the principles of this bill in the mind of the public. I know the Members opposite are fully aware of the principles of this bill and should be willing to debate them in second reading. The only valid reason I can see for their not wanting to continue with second reading at this time, as they expressed yesterday, is that they are tired and worn out. They have admitted that already, and they just do not want to do the work. That is the reason for bringing forward this six months hoist amendment.
I can assure everyone at this time that, despite how tired and worn out the Opposition is, and they do not want to do their work, the people on this side of the House are prepared and ready. Yes, we will be staying here as long as is necessary to deal with this bill, which I think will suit all of our needs very well.
Speaker: Are you prepared for the question on the amendment?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Some Hon. Members: Disagreed.
Speaker: I think that the nays have it.
Amendment for six-months hoist negatived
Speaker: Is there any further debate on the main motion?
Mr. Phelps: I did want to say a few words about this main motion. I have a few letters here that I would like to read into the record, if I may.
I have been listening to the debate thus far with a great deal of interest. I know that the bill is of a great deal of interest to a good many Yukoners. There have been some very well-attended public meetings, at which Yukoners have debated the principles of various documents that have been made available to them. The Members across the way say that all of these people must be aware of the principles behind the bill, but I do not think that that is a fair statement at all, because what we have before us is a compromise, at least in the mind of the Minister who is presenting the bill. I certainly know a good many Yukoners who are not sure what principles are coming forward in the bill and which have been discarded for the time being.
That is something we ought not to lose sight of.
When I read the first materials that were made available to the public, I was really concerned, myself, about what this government was prepared to do. I was concerned, of course, that what they were proposing might be extremely damaging to employees because of the high costs associated with meeting the minimum requirements they were going to expect at that time. That, to me, meant that a good many businesses would be forced to shut down, which would have an impact not only on the owners and the employers but on the employees as well.
Then I got to thinking about it, and thought well, maybe that was not the reason at all, because I found out that we had the international financier across the way lending a bunch of money to Taga Ku to bring in the union-busting Kerkhoff companies, which was a little strange. Then we had the same international financier lending a bunch of money to the Americans and bringing a non-union group in there, and really raising the ire thus far of unions in the territory. Perhaps their plan is to get rid of the unions up here, by lending all this money. It might really be a government-wide plan, not just the Yukon Development Corporation and its Minister. Maybe they are trying to appease some of these people by putting some union contracts in place as the law of general applications throughout the Yukon.
I am not sure if I was right in that suspicion but I must admit, and I am sure they must admit, that it makes rather an interesting prima facie case when we have the infamous Kerkhoff brothers being financed by the Yukon Development Corporation and, as well, we are throwing money out to bring in non-union jobs from across the border.
I would think that what passes as conscience with the Members might have been tweaked a little bit, and they might have felt a little regret and, hence, some of the heavy-handed legislation that was proposed earlier.
Be that as it may, I am pleased to see that there is some compromise in the works. I remain concerned that whatever we do pass in this House does not serve to be regressive in actually preventing people at the lower end of the income scale from obtaining employment. There is a whole bunch of economic arguments that one could get into that centre around that concern.
I take some heart in hearing from the side opposite, and particularly from the Minister, that we are not going to plunge right into discussion of the bill in Committee of the Whole, but that there will be a couple of weeks go by before we start the clause-by-clause debate, thus giving business people and employees to have their say. In particular, I am thinking about those employees who work seasonally and require a lot of overtime. I am pleased with the kind of promise that there will be time for people in the rural communities, such as mine - I have a lot of people involved in the tourism business in my riding - to have a chance to come forward with their concerns.
I must say that I do not have much difficulty in this matter going ahead.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Members would have been pleased to know that I did not originally intend to speak to the second reading of this bill because I felt that the Minister has done a masterful job of addressing concerns that were raised. A very fair round of consultations were done, which always helps in creating better legislation.
Unfortunately, I had to rise to my feet when the Member for Hootalinqua spoke and repeated some of his oft-stated themes about the support of this government to various interests. In his view, they do not reflect the kind of investment that this government ought to be taking.
Let me just say a couple of things about Kerkhoff. The Member has made repeated references that somehow the money that was loaned by YDC to Champagne/Aishihik First Nation was exclusively for the Kerkhoff group.
Nothing could be further from any intention of this government. This government operates on the premise that, in order for a sound economy to function, we must work with a broad range of economic interests.
We do not selectively choose who receives support from this government. Our loans programs, incentive programs and support programs have a broad criteria to which people must apply in order to qualify. The fact that anyone can access government programs in the territory is nothing but a credit to any government.
The support that is provided by this government to various interests in the territory is available to everyone. We are talking about a loan program to a hotel or an incentive assistance to a mining company or prospector. It does not matter who that person is. The bottom line is that the program is available to people who are eligible under the criteria of the program.
Champagne/Aishihik took a loan from the Yukon Development Corporation for $2 million. It is not our business to tell them who they can hire, contract or choose to help them do the job they have undertaken. We do not tell anyone, when they get a loan from us, that they must hire certain and particular parties and Kerkhoff fits that same group.
We do not agree with the union-busting tactics that are used by Kerkhoff and Sons in other parts of the country. We would discourage any attempt to bring that type of confrontation to industrial relations here in the Yukon.
At the same time, we are not going to dictate to Champagne/Aishihik who their partners or contractors will be, or whom they choose to do business with in order to carry out their objectives, because I think that is what the Member is hinting that we should do.
We do not negotiate collective agreements for trade unions, they are quite capable of doing that themselves, and the natural marketplace will look after that.
The Member, in speaking on the principles of this bill - which have been debated at some length over the past six months by the public, by various interest group and by businesses - also indicated that there was something sinister about the loan to Totem Oil. The Member is indicating that because it is an American company, somehow there is a reason underlying that relationship that should disqualify it from any support. Again, let us be realistic about what is going in the marketplace and the economy.
The Member suggests that all of our fuel is Canadian-based and owned by Canadian companies and that we should only support Canadian, irrespective of whether or not we pay an arm and a leg more for it. I think that it is a fact of life that the principal operator controlling the Skagway port is an American subsidiary, pays American taxes and gets fuel from American suppliers. Those are the facts of the marketplace.
I would like it put on the record that our position is one of a broad public interest that speaks to the benefit of all Yukon people. I cannot state more strongly than I have in the last couple of Question Periods that the reduction in price of the fuel supply to the territory has to be one of the biggest benefits that consumers, businesses and residents will be able to enjoy. Going to the pump and filling up for a few dollars less results in those few extra dollars being spent at the next business down the street.
Just because we may be burning American fuel now does not mean that we have not been doing so before this; it is the same. Other than the cost of fuel coming down, the status quo has not changed much at all; that is good.
Members have spoken to various aspects of the bill as being damaging or onerous for business. In my previous life, I was a business person involved in a small business that employed a couple of dozen people. The Member for Watson Lake was probably quite correct, yesterday, when he suggested that a good business person probably does not need a law and that a good relationship between an employer and an employee does not require legislative guidelines. Good relationships occur when no one is taking advantage of anybody and there is the best sharing of resources that are available to the business with the employee. There are businesses in the territory that will not be impacted one iota by this bill, simply because their benefits level exceed those suggested in this bill. The fact remains that not every business operates that way and not every employee works in a circumstance where his or her interests are being looked after.
It is generally the case in our business community that it is the lowest paid, the poorest and the most disadvantaged person who gets taken advantage of. That is a fact of life in the broad world of business. I am quite familiar with some of those situations. It is often the person who is doing the least skilled job, the person who is working the toughest hours or the person who is working for the least wage who gets taken advantage of because they do not have the power or the protection to look after themselves. They are often single parents. They are often young people. They are often people who do not have a very marketable skill. That is why I can support the principles in this bill. I can support principles in an employment relationship that encourage a quality of life, a standard of living and a rate of income that permit people to live decent lives in the Yukon. If that means sharing some of the resources we have at our disposal, if that means sharing the wealth, then so be it.
Nobody was granted divine right to make great wealth on the backs of other people. This bill speaks to balancing the resources of the territory, ensuring that people can have a decent living and lifestyle, a fairness in equity in the marketplace. This is the kind of fair and responsible thing we should be doing in this House.
Speaker: The hon. Member will close debate if she now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I want to respond to some of the comments that were made and correct some of the things that were said that were not entirely right. There were a lot of comments made with regard to this bill and the manner in which we are proceeding with it.
As I mentioned previously, we will give those people time. We will take our time in Committee of the Whole.
There was a lot of criticism from the Member for Porter Creek North with regard to our consultation process. I have heard that and I have also heard the opposite; that people have had ample time to deal with the act. I think that in most cases that is true.
The Member for Riverdale North spoke about me making statements at our party convention to the effect that I would prevail no matter what the business community thought. I want to set that straight. I did not say that. What I said at our convention was that I was going to introduce this act this spring, and that is exactly what I am doing. I made no comment about what business people thought. There might have been a comment made by another person there, but at our conventions we certainly do allow our members to voice their opinions. Maybe that is not so at the Tory conventions, but it certainly is at ours. However, I do want to make it very clear that I did not say that. The Member should get his information straight.
He also said that the meeting at Hellaby Hall that was called by me was supposed to be an open house to provide information and, I think, it was probably a good meeting for everyone to air their concerns; certainly that was done at the meeting that night. I was encouraged by a lot of the things that were said that night. It certainly gave me a chance to find out exactly how the business community felt, as many views were expressed. As a result of many of the things that happened that night, some of those changes were made. I am happy to say that they were. But, what the Member said in his speech was that the Minister brushed off the comments of those people, saying that they were just a bunch of Conservatives. Well, I did not say that, either. Let us get things straight in this House when one makes comments. I did not ever say that.
I get really upset. I do not mind people in this House making comments about something I have said, if they are right; but let us clearly set the record straight. He talked about how the people that night felt that they had been had. Maybe some of them did; I cannot say. I certainly did listen to them and I spent probably two hours on my feet answering their questions. He mentioned something about me not understanding the business community. Whether or not the Member knows this or not, I was a business partner in a business for about five years; I certainly understand the kind of work that goes into having a successful business. It needs a lot of hard work. So, saying that I do not understand what business people are saying is not true. I know a lot of business people. I talk to them all the time. I go into their stores and I go into their businesses; I deal with business people all the time and I know some of those business people offer many more benefits to their employees than we are even considering in this bill.
I did have a discussion with the Member last night after we adjourned and I talked about what was in this act that was recommended at the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment. He said many times that there was no consensus. There were only four sections where they could not reach any consensus and, as I mentioned, we did leave two of them the same as they were in the old act. They were left because a consensus was not reached. Another section was changed just a bit - it did not really say what we had suggested, because we could not determine what wellbeing meant, so it was not one of those big things that anybody would have had a lot of trouble dealing with. We did put in another one that was suggested. I gave that information to one of the members of the Yukon Chamber of Commerce.
I did mention that I never did say that the Chamber was happy with this. I did not have any discussions with them until I talked with Mr. Irwin, I believe it was on Tuesday, and we did talk about how he agreed that the process was a good one and that this consensus-reaching body had done a fairly decent job.
They talk about ramming this bill through the House, and that certainly is not our intention. As I mentioned, we do have a lot of time, and I see a big difference between what we are doing with this bill and what the Members opposite did in 1984, when they rammed a bill through the House in the middle of the night and we sat here until almost 11:30 p.m. to deal with it. There was no consultation whatsoever with the people in the communities, so this is a far cry from what the Members opposite did when they brought this bill to the House in 1984.
I am satisfied that we have done our job and that most business people are quite reasonable and agree with the changes for their employees, because they do have good employees and appreciate how valuable they are to them.
The Member for Riverdale North talked about how this bill was poorly drafted and that it was leading-edge legislation. I disagree with that; that is not the case. In a lot of sections, we have improved what is already in the bill.
None of our new amendments to this act exceed the standards anywhere else in Canada. I am not sure, therefore, why he would say that we are on the leading edge. From the recommendation that came from the committee that asked for section 50 to be left in - to deduct one weeks wages - that would have put us at the tail end rather than the leading edge. That just brought us up to par, because we were the only jurisdiction in Canada that had that included in the act. That was one of the sections we did disagree with. I called the president of the Yukon Chamber of Commerce to let him know that. He was well aware of that before it was introduced in the House.
The Member spoke about the advisory committee that was first struck, consisting of two labour representatives, but that there were no unorganized employees. The two labour representatives were certainly speaking for all employees, whether or not they were organized. They have a good understanding of what employees have to deal with.
I spoke about questionnaires we send out a couple of times a year. This questionnaire came back with an addition to it. It talks about jobs. I said this person was from the Porter Creek East riding. What she says here is that there are too many demeaning jobs with few hours and no benefits. This is just one person. She talks about the new Employment Standards Act, which she has not seen yet, but hopes will encourage employers and employees to have more mutual commitment.
Minorities, in particular, get sidelined into these below poverty level jobs and end up getting caught in the housing crunch. This cycle is terribly hard to break out of.
She goes on a little further to talk about how she has persevered despite all of that. She mentions several things that she would like to see in the Employment Standards Act, and some things that we have not included in the act.
Point of order
Mr. Lang: On a point of order.
Speaker: Point of order to the Leader of the Official Opposition.
Mr. Lang: As per rules, in view of the fact that the Minister is reading from a letter, I would ask that she table the document so all Members would have the opportunity of viewing it - especially since it is from my riding.
Speaker: On the point of order, I would ask that this letter be circulated to all Members, as I asked the Member for Hootalinqua to do.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I have no problem doing that as it is only one page. If the Members want to make copies of it, it mentions not only the employment standards legislation but other things as well, such as parks, tourism, et cetera, and can be tabled.
Some Hon. Member: Does she know you are going to table it?
Hon. Ms. Joe: It was ordered by the Speaker. It does not have her name on that page.
Mr. Lang: I am asking that the whole letter be tabled.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The only thing that I was reading from was one page of the letter, and I have tabled that.
The Member for Riverdale North talked about the public meeting, that I promised to take things out and they were not taken out. I am a little concerned about anybody reading his speech and believing that some of the things he said were true. Some of the things that he said certainly were not true.
I previously mentioned, because the question was raised with regard to overtime notice, that there are many unforeseen situations that could occur where employees cannot work.
There is still a provision for those individuals to work if there is mutual consent by the employer and the employee. I think that we have to be very careful about having legislation that does not force some young mother or some other person who might be celebrating a graduation, or some such situation, to have to work overtime. Legislation will be drafted to include what some of those emergencies are.
In regard to the regulations, they will be made available to the employers and employees before they are dealt with in Cabinet, to seek their advice in regard to the kind of things that they want included in the regulations. They will certainly be available to the Members opposite.
There was some discussion on vacation pay and that we were on the leading edge; well, we are not on the leading edge. There are several other jurisdictions in Canada that get as much as 6 percent vacation pay. One of the suggestions from the YCEE was that instead of eight percent, why do we not allow employees to take a week without pay.
There were many of those kinds of negotiations that went on when they were trying to come up with the recommendations for the act.
I was accused of sneering at some of the things the Member for Watson Lake said. I am not sure if I know how to sneer, but if it looked like a sneer it was not intended. Maybe I will try it out with my colleagues one day to see if they can tell me how well I sneer. I want the Member for Watson Lake to know that I was not sneering at him. What I was was probably doing was rolling my eyes - and I know we all do that well because I have seen other people do it - and reacting to the kind of things he was saying in regard to employers with good hearts. I believe, as does the Member for Mayo, that the Member for Watson Lake does have a good heart and believes that everybody else does, too; but we cannot count on it. We cannot count on the fact that everyone out there is a good employer, because our statistics in the labour services branch tell us differently. So, if I looked like I was sneering, I certainly apologize, because that was not the intent.
The Member for Riverdale South talked about not consulting with the employers about the costs, and she criticized some of the information that came out of the department. As I mentioned, we have a lot of information in the labour services branch that tells us there are a lot of problems out there. There are, indeed, employers who continue to do things that definitely are not right. We have all those complaints on file - I have not seen them, though, because I have not asked to see them, as I do not think I should know the names of those people - that come to us; we have had to collect a lot of wages and a lot of things have had to be dealt with either through the Employment Standards Board or through the people who work in labour services branch.
Because they want to be informed, employers often consult with the department to find out about the act and how it works, so they will be informed and not do anything wrong. Certainly, they do appreciate the kind of information they get back.
There was some comment made by, I think, the Member for Riverdale South that people from my department were out dropping off the Reviewing the Ground Rules workbook to employees as they were walking out the door. I know that is not a fact. It sounded as though they were standing by the door, but they do not have a lot of time to stand by doors and hand these to people as they are walking out.
They did take a lot of time to ensure that most people had a copy of the workbook and the draft once it was finished, after receiving all the information as a result of the workbook. There was a lot of criticism with respect to some of the things that were in there, and we took out a lot of things that were in the workbook.
After the draft act came out, there was not a lot of criticism about what was in it, because it did balance the suggestions and criticism we received. At that time, there was again criticism about the consultation process, but I know that people knew about it, because hundreds of people approached us to let us know what they thought of it. There were certainly people out there who did not respond, because they felt that we were going to be doing this, and they agreed with what we were doing.
The Member for Porter Creek East mentioned yesterday that no one in his riding has ever come to him. I think he made a bet, as the Member for Mayo said, that no one has ever come to any of us. That is not true. We hear from people all the time that there are some problems out there and that our act was too restrictive. In some cases, we have included in the act some suggestions made by business people prior to going into the consultation process because we had heard from them before.
In 1990-91, there were 2,400 inquiries of the labour services branch. Some of them were complaints but some of them were just inquiries about the act from people who wanted to do things right. We did hear a lot of complaints from those individuals.
I want to make it very clear that we will be taking a lot of things into consideration when we draft the regulations for the act. There will be consultation with employers and employees when we draft those regulations.
I have no question in my mind that a lot of hard work has gone into putting this act together, and that there are a number of people in the public who have concerned themselves with the act, and have offered all kinds of assistance in trying to put the act together. I certainly appreciate all of the work that those people have done.
I am prepared to wait; it is not my intention to come back to the House on Tuesday and try to ram this legislation through the House. We have all kinds of legislation that we are dealing with.
I have no idea how long we are going to be sitting, but I am willing to sit for as long as Members on the side opposite want to sit here and deal with this; I will be available. I do not have anywhere to go, although I would like to go to a lot of places, as I am sure a lot of Member here would.
We will be ready and we will certainly be making more contact with business people and employees, because I respect their views. I have talked to a lot of business people who, right from the start, have supported new and improved amendments to the Employment Standards Act. These people, from the beginnings of this act, have not seen any problem with looking forward and putting together legislation that meets the needs of all of those individuals in the work force.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 13 agreed to
Point of order
Mr. Lang: On a point of order.
Speaker: Point of order to the Leader of the Official Opposition.
Mr. Lang: I rose on a point of order a few minutes ago. I waited until such time as the Minister finished her presentation to the House. I want to bring to her attention that the document she tabled is only partially there. I notice under section 495 of Beauchesnes Parliamentary Rules and Forms it states as follows: A Minister of the Crown is not at liberty to read or quote from a dispatch or other state paper not before the House without being prepared to lay it on the Table. More specifically, section (7) states: When a letter, even though it may have been written originally as a private letter, becomes part of a record of a department, it becomes a public document, and if quoted by a Minister in debate, must be tabled on request. I recognize that the Minister may not have the letter in its entirety, but I would expect to see the full document tabled as of Tuesday.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I am not really that familiar with the rules in regard to tabling something in the House. I am familiar with the rule that I have to table a document that I am reading from. This is part of a questionnaire that was returned to us. I believe that it does have the name of the individual on the rest of it. I would like to seek some advice in regard to that concern. I am not entirely sure whether the person who tabled it would have me do it, so I will seek advice on that.
Mr. Lang: On the same point of order, I just wanted to clarify that it is not a question of seeking advice or opinions. The rules are very clear. One of my concerns is that, in the letter she speaks of, she has referred to me, as the Member for Porter Creek East, and it is from a constituent of mine and I am very concerned. I have certain direct, everyday responsibilities that I am more than prepared to take up as a sitting Member here.
Under Beauchesne, section 495(7), it is very clear and explicit. It is not as if it is the first time that the rule has been invoked in this House. I am quite surprised that the Minister of Justice indicates that she was not aware of the rule, because she has been in here for a number of years. It is clear that if one is going to use this kind of thing in debate and be that specific, then all Members have the right to see those documents, not just the Minister.
Speaker: Order, please. On the point of order, I would rule that the Minister should report back about this on Tuesday. Also, it would appear that the rest of the letter should be tabled at that time.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call the Committee of the Whole to order and declare a brief recess.
Chair: I will call Committee of the Whole to order.
Bill No. 7: An Act to Amend the Wildlife Act - continued
On Clause 7 - continued
On amendment - continued
Mr. Brewster: I guess we are speaking on the amendment here. I looked back through Hansard and the arguments are very, very weak. In fact, they do not stand up at all. The Minister keeps stating that there might be someone outside who has had to go out to get some education and might not be here. Number one, he would be a resident as long as he is going to school. If he is going out on business, then how could he be of any advantage to the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board, which I suspect once the land claim is settled will probably be meeting once a month for a long time until we get things settled. Is this government going to pay the air fare of this man back, when he is completely out of touch, instead of having Yukoners who live in the Yukon on that board?
Hon. Mr. Webster: As the current situation exists, if someone were to be outside for a period of time - two or three months - and there was an important meeting, I think we would be willing to pay for that members trip to attend a meeting of the board if we thought it was really crucial. Occasionally, emergencies do arise that require a Yukoner to be outside for a while for a variety of personal reasons, and perhaps business reasons.
Mr. Brewster: It is the same, weak excuse. All that I can draw from this conclusion is that was done because you have already made a deal with the Tetlit Gwichin, from the Northwest Territories, to have them sit on our board and control our wildlife.
If the Minister is not prepared to accept this amendment, then I am quite convinced that this has been arranged so they will sit on the boards, together with ones from Lower Post and several other places.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I want to assure the Member that no such deal has been made with the Government of Yukon on that score, but there certainly has been an arrangement made with the Yukon First Nations, as articulated in the umbrella final agreement, which is reflected in this clause.
Mr. Brewster: I want to know why that clause is there. Quite frankly, it is a very suspicious clause. This clause does not indicate that Yukoners will be looking after their own fish and game. It indicates that anyone can be appointed at any time. The majority of the board has to be Yukoners, and this means that you can bring anyone from anywhere.
Firstly, you have tried to give me the lame excuse that it was a student who was going to school, but that does not apply at all because they are residents, so it was not required there.
If a person goes out on business and is going to be gone for a year or two, this would mean that you would be flying this person in all the time and they would not be in touch with the situations here. Once the land claim is settled, this board is going to have much more power and will be working much harder than it is right now. It will almost be a steady job, especially for the first two or three years, deciding how this should be sorted out.
Is someone going to be put on there who has to be flown back and forth, or is the decision going to be made to bring in an expert to sit on that board instead of Yukoners?
Hon. Mr. Webster: As I mentioned the other day when debating this bill, it certainly is our intention to have Yukoners on the board, as is the present situation. All members currently on the board are Yukon residents. I did mention, however, that in extraordinary situations, we may want some flexibility, and this is the reason for the clause being worded the way it is. I want to point out that one of the reasons it is worded the way it is, is because that ensures that wildlife resources continue to be managed by Yukoners and not by outsiders, as is reflected on the board at this time. I think that does a great deal more than the existing Wildlife Act, which makes no reference to the members of the Fish and Wildlife Management Board being Yukoners.
Mr. Brewster: Every argument brought forward by the Minister today has been a political argument. Madam Chair, the Minister does not even mean what he is saying. For years, the board was appointed by the government and Yukoners have always been appointed. All of a sudden, this has been put in: and the majority of members appointed from those nominated by Government of Yukon shall be Yukon residents. That is also in the umbrella final agreement in the land claims, which means that people from other areas can be brought in. It is really coincidental how these coincide so closely. No one can tell me it is not for such times as when we had 600 square miles literally stolen from us and this government sat back and did nothing. Now, they are going to sit and let them control our game, too.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I would remind the Member that this bill and, specifically, this provision of the bill we are dealing with at this time, reflects the implementation of chapter 16, section 7 of the umbrella final agreement.
Mr. Brewster: Everyone is shaking their heads today, but no one is talking.
That only convinces me of what I said in the first place. This government knew all about what was going to happen in the Tetlit Gwichin claim, and they called us into this Legislature. They knew because they had already put it in here on March 31, 1990. They moved that clause into here.
It is quite apparent that we were not told the truth about what happened in the northern Yukon. What has happened is that the Yukon fish and game management thing has been sold down the drain. We can now have three or four people from outside the Yukon controlling the game for all the people of the Yukon. That is what we have now.
Mr. Devries: On the same subject, it is very important to have Yukon citizens on these boards. I receive a lot of complaints about the one member of the Yukon Development Corporation board who is a B.C. resident. A lot of people comment on it. This person is not a taxpayer in the Yukon, yet the decisions these people make affect Yukoners.
I could make all kinds of outrageous demands. It is not going to affect their pocketbook, but it is going to affect other peoples pocketbooks. It is going to affect the wildlife populations, et cetera.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I fail to see how the example raised by the Member for Watson Lake that one person from outside - and a repeated example raised by the Member for Kluane that as many as three or four people from outside - can be a problem. They are certainly a minority on a board consisting of 12 individuals. How are they going to control fish and wildlife resources in the Yukon? I do not expect, and it certainly is not our intent, to appoint non-Yukoners to this board.
Mr. Phillips: This section allows the government to appoint non-Yukoners to this board. There is no reason in the world why non-resident Yukoners have to be on these types of Yukon boards. These people could be brought in to the Yukon if required for consultation, but they do not have to be on a Yukon board.
This is a Yukon board discussing Yukon issues, and it should be strictly Yukoners on the board. You could bring these people in as advisors, but I cannot accept the fact that we have to bow to every whim of every organization or group in the world and have non-Yukoners sitting on Yukon boards, thereby having their influence on things that go on in the Yukon - not in their area, but in the Yukon.
Mr. Lang: I want to support what my colleagues have said. I am actually amazed that any Member of this House would bring something like this forward. I have to go back to what the Member for Kluane said.
The government is asking each one of us, as duly elected Members of a riding, to give the rights and responsibilities for our wildlife to people who do not even live here. Do you think the people of Klondike would accept that? I do not think so. I do not think they have any problem where there happens to be a trans-boundary situation, such as might affect the Porcupine caribou herd. However, that is a different situation.
I have a lot of difficulty with someone who is perhaps a resident of Fort McPherson being on this board and having more influence on the decisions made in, say, the southern Yukon. I find it totally unacceptable.
It discourages me. If this is the type of thing we are going to be presented with, in the context of Indian land claims and the settlement, I have to say to the side opposite that they had better start re-evaluating what they are doing.
Your job was not to be elected to give fewer rights to other Yukoners than you would to people who live outside our boundaries. To think, on top of that, these people are paid a per diem and costs, including such things as airfare. You are asking the taxpayers, through the House, to give approbation to that.
I say to the Members on the side opposite to take a look at what we are doing. I thought that the concept of an Indian land claim and an umbrella final agreement was to bring people together. I thought that the concept was going to be equal opportunity, but that is not what this says.
I submit that, in view of what has happened, it should be mandatory for appointees to all our boards to be residents of the Yukon. It should not only be a majority, but it should say here that all members appointed shall be residents of the Yukon.
Let us look at it in a broader context. The side opposite has gone to the polls twice to be the elected government under the auspices of local purchase for local people, and everything for local people. Now, the government is bringing in agreements and bills - and decisions made by the Yukon Development Corporation - that are totally beyond the parameters of any of these policy statements made by the government in the context of going to the electorate.
Would the Minister consider taking this particular section back and have his people look at it, or else deal with the amendment my colleague from Kluane has brought forward?
It is simply unacceptable.
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Member for Porter Creek East asks what we are doing here. Let us take a look at what we are doing here. Presently, we have all Yukon residents on the Fish and Wildlife Management Board. That is the intent and, in likelihood, it will remain so.
The Member asked what was the purpose of the land claim settlement in the Yukon. It is obviously to give Yukon First Nation people more control over their lives, more control over resources, and that obviously includes fish and wildlife resources of the Yukon Territory.
However, in drawing up the umbrella final agreement, when it came time to look at membership on the board, they recognized that there could be, from time to time, some extraordinary circumstances when it would, for a short period of time, be to the advantage of the Fish and Wildlife Management Board to have someone on there who did not meet the resident citizen criterion. It was for this reason that the agreement was so worded.
I must remind Members that the umbrella final agreement was agreed to in 1990 by the three levels of government, and I am not prepared to negotiate changes to that agreement, which has had the approval of all three levels of government on the floor of this Legislature.
Chair: I would just like to remind Members that we are dealing with the amendment at this point
THAT Bill No. 7, entitled An Act to Amend the Wildlife Act, be amended in clause 7 at page 3 by deleting the subclause and substituting for it the following: (2) the members of the board shall be Yukon residents.
Mr. Lang: In view of the fact that we are going to be sitting next week, I would like to move adjournment on this particular section, which will give us and the Minister more time to think about it. I feel quite strongly that the Minister should reassess the situation.
The Government Leader is not here, so perhaps he could bring the clause forward over the course of the weekend and discuss it with him, and we could maybe deal with it next week. This section is very important. A precedent is being set of permitting us, as Members, to pass legislation that is advocating and condoning the appointment of individuals who are not resident in the territory, and I find this unacceptable.
I am asking the Minister if he would accept an adjournment on this section, take some time to think about it and perhaps we could deal with it early next week.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I have already said in this House that I am not prepared to negotiate changes to the umbrella final agreement on the floor of this House.
Mr. Lang: I would ask the Minister if he would permit us to have some more time to deal with the section and if we could deal with it next week.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Again, I want to state that this clause reflects section 16 of the umbrella final agreement. That is why it is in this act, and is one of the purposes of bringing this act forward at this time. I am prepared to vote on the amendment.
Mr. Brewster: I will just go right back to what I asked the Government Leader and others. We should have those agreements where we can see them. We are elected by the people. We were not too far behind in the popular vote. It is quite apparent that they are bulling this through us and we are not even going to have a say.
How many people have ever seen that document? Very few. It is quite apparent that we had better start looking at what is going on here. Why was I not given a copy of the deal with Champagne/Aishihik when I asked for it? I have asked them and they have said that there is no reason why we could not have those agreements. Yet this government says that they are holding them up. They blame the CYI and the CYI said, in a public meeting, that there is no reason why we could not have them. I asked for them months ago.
It is quite apparent that the government is now asking us to vote on things that are in the land claims settlement and we have never seen the documents. I am not prepared to do it. I am prepared to vote against this legislation.
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Member has seen the umbrella final agreement. He has had it in his possession now for at least one year. I will admit that he has not seen the terms of the First Nation agreement with the Champagne/Aishihik Band because it is not finished yet.
Mr. Brewster: Here we go again. Two of the chief negotiators of the CYI sat in an Association of Yukon Communities meeting and told us it was available and ready. Now, the Minister of Renewable Resources says it is not. Will someone please make up their mind about what they are doing around this place?
I may have seen that, but I did not see this. The land claim is being manipulated without us even seeing the agreements. I am prepared to vote against it. In fact, I am even prepared to walk out of the place; I have had it.
Mr. Lang: I share the view of the Member for Kluane. The side opposite has exhibited arrogance throughout our legislative program ever since we came into this House. This is unacceptable.
We have seen money being spent without the proper approvals of this House. The Minister stands up and defends these expenditures by saying they are strategic investments. It is a joke. We have asked, by letter, by phone call and by every other method, for the actual agreements with four bands that the government says that they had entered into, signed, and had come to conclusions on. Did we get copies of these agreements? No, we never got them. Instead, the Minister presents us with a bill and tells us that we have no choice but to vote for it and that we should sit here and condone non-residents being appointed to the Fish and Wildlife Management Board. That is totally unacceptable.
If the general public knew that the government was trying to ramrod through a piece of legislation that permits people not living in the Yukon having more influence on a wildlife management board than any other taxpayer in the Yukon, they would not accept it. If the Minister thinks that the people in the riding of Klondike are going to accept it, he has another thought coming.
I am not even prepared to vote on this section. It is totally unacceptable. The Minister sits there and he looks at us and says, Vote, vote, vote. My good friend, the MLA for Kluane has brought forward a very valid amendment. It is unbelievable that the side opposite can sit there and argue that members on the Fish and Wildlife Management Board should not be residents.
It appears that an attempt is being made to bring the umbrella final agreement in through the back door. We are being asked, through the Wildlife Management Board, to agree with certain segments of the umbrella final agreement without it actually coming into effect, without all parties agreeing, and without the final agreement coming to a conclusion in order that we might look at it in its totality.
What is the purpose? Is the purpose to confuse the public and use smoke and mirrors, or to bring it in step by step, so that nobody sees the whole picture? This is unacceptable, and I do not think that the public is going to accept it.
As a Member, I can say that I am not prepared to vote on this section. I feel that it is an insult for two reasons: the government is trying to bring the umbrella agreement in through the back door; and they are bringing in a section of the bill that is so unacceptable to the public that the Minister will not even permit a four- or five-day delay, as far as debate on the section is concerned.
The Minister and I both know - and you do not have to be a political scientist to know this - that when it becomes known to the public what the Minister is trying to do, the public is going to say, once again, that arrogant government is doing that to us.
When the public, native and non-native, find out that people from outside can be appointed to our Fish and Wildlife Management Board - because this government agreed to it and, when it was brought to their attention that they may have erred, said they could not change it - do you think they are going to find that acceptable?
I am saying that it is not acceptable.
Another point was just raised by my good friend, the Member for Riverdale North. Could the Minister tell us how many non-residents are sitting on the British Columbia wildlife management board?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I do not know how many non-British Columbia residents are currently sitting on the British Columbia wildlife management board.
However, in response to the Members comments that we are bringing the umbrella final agreement in through the back door, I want to remind him that the only matter that is dealt with in this bill before us with respect to the umbrella final agreement is that which has already been pre-implemented - the membership of Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board - and that already has the acceptance of all Yukoners.
I want to make it very clear that the 12 members on the board are all Yukon residents.
Mr. Lang: You are changing the rules. You are asking us to approve legislation that permits you, and gives you the political approbation of this House, to appoint individuals who are not residents of the territory.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am not changing the rules at all because the existing Wildlife Act, under the Wildlife Advisory Committee, states: In appointing members to the wildlife advisory committee, the Executive Council member shall consider making appointments from groups or organizations representing trappers, Indians, outfitters, environmentalists and hunters. It says nothing about them having to be Yukon residents. I am not changing the rules; I am not doing it unilaterally. In addressing this piece of legislation, I am simply reflecting provisions of the umbrella final agreement, chapter 16.
Mr. Lang: Then take that section off because by agreeing to this, we are accepting the fact that non-residents can be on the board. The section the Minister quoted from was never, ever intended to contemplate appointing non-residents to Yukon boards. We never, ever thought we would ever have to write it down in this House - until today, when the Minister came in and told us that he is going to appoint a majority of Yukoners to the board, and if there are one or two other positions, he will conduct a lottery in the Northwest Territories or British Columbia. That is unacceptable. It never occurred to me that we would be appointing our friends living outside the boundaries of the territory to Yukon boards. Surely, you have had enough problems with boards and committees that you do not want to compound them.
I am submitting to the side opposite that the MLA for Kluane has brought forward a very valid point, and I am asking the Minister if he will consider it over the weekend.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I have already stated my position twice on this matter; I do not think it is necessary to do so a third time.
Mr. Phillips: Since it now says in this legislation that people other than Yukoners can be appointed to this board, who does the Minister have in mind? Who does he conceive, other than a Yukoner, would actually sit on this board?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I gave an example the other day of a person who was very well qualified in the matters of wildlife management. This person was a new resident to the territory and had not necessarily fulfilled the necessary period of time required to be considered a resident, but would prove, through his experience, to be a valuable asset and therefore should be considered for appointment.
Mr. Brewster: I can give them an example of something they have already done that cost them $13,000. They got a wildlife expert from B.C. up here to trap wolves. I do not think they ever looked at the mans history. They brought him here and spent $13,000 and they never even saw a wolf. That is the expertise of the Department of Renewable Resources. They have to bring someone into the country.
I am saying that there are enough First Nations people and other Yukoners from whom they can choose 12 people. They do not need any outside help. It is about time we started to stand up and defend the Yukon and not give it away to every lobbying group that wants to come in, just because the government wants to be on the right side of them. It is about time we looked after the people of the Yukon.
Hon. Mr. Webster: It is interesting that the example the Member for Kluane uses about the expert trapper from British Columbia, contracted by the Champagne/Aishihik First Nation was a B.C. resident who is now living in the Yukon. It is an exact example of a B.C. resident who is an expert living in the Yukon.
Mr. Phillips: When the Minister gave his reasons for the change to the legislation, said it was so that if someone was an expert in a certain field but did not have his full years residency, that person could still sit on a board. Why could this individual not be used to consult with the board. It is nice to know that people do live in the Yukon for more than one year before they become experts on the Yukon and everything that is happening.
It is a problem we have out there. We have so many experts and consultants who are up here for six months trying to tell Yukoners what is right for them. I think the Member for Kluane was dead on. We have enough qualified people in the territory to make up 12 people to sit on that board who would do an outstanding job. Unfortunately, right now, the Minister does not bother listening to the board, but we do have qualified people to sit on it. I do not think that a one-year residency requirement is not too much to ask for as a qualification for anyone to sit on a board that will discuss wildlife issues that will affect all Yukoners - not for the one year or two years the individual might be in the Yukon before he or she leaves, but for the long term. I think we should look at people who have been in the Yukon, made a commitment to the territory and have lived here for more than one year.
I cannot accept this change to the legislation.
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Member for Riverdale North makes a good point. There are certainly people who have a great deal of expertise gained in the Yukon and who have spent much more than one year here, perhaps, though, only for short periods of time. It could be that a person is going to school or university and returns five or six summers in a row and has a great deal of knowledge about certain subjects, about certain species in certain areas of the territory. Now that person is about to make a commitment to move to the Yukon. That is exactly the kind of person we are looking for to sit on this board.
Mr. Lang: I want to point out to the Minister that that type of individual would come under the definition of resident. If he or she has been going out to school and has been coming back on a continuing basis and looks upon the Yukon as their residence, then there would be no problem. The example explained by the Minister does not hold water.
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Member misunderstood me. I was talking about a person who lives in, say, British Columbia or Ontario and has been coming up here in the summers - his residence is Ontario or British Columbia; perhaps he has been doing work here for a number of years during the summers and would not qualify as a Yukon resident.
Mr. Lang: The Minister is saying to the House that that type of individual, with that kind of background, because of his or her political connections - it is a political appointment when it comes right down to it - should be on the board over and above people who live here on a 12-month basis and pay their taxes here. Is that what the Minister is telling the House?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I made no reference whatsoever, and the Member knows it, to the political affiliation of any of the people who may be appointed to these boards; I certainly am not aware of the political affiliation of any of the members who currently sit on the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board - who, incidentally, are all Yukon residents.
Mr. Brewster: One way to solve this is to state that nobody should be able to sit on that board unless they can carry a Yukon hunting licence. It is quite simple. Or, in the case of the First Nations, they would not have to because at the present time they do not have to have licences; but any of the government appointments should not be able to sit on the board unless they have a Yukon hunting licence.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I have been a resident of the territory for 18 years and I have only had a hunting licence for I believe two of those years. I have not had one for at least 12 years, but I would consider myself to be a person with the qualifications and experience to be considered for appointment to the board.
Mr. Lang: The Minister took the Member for Kluane out of context. He said: eligible for a hunting licence. Whether or not a person has the will or the money to purchase a licence, that is a personal decision.
Quite frankly, I think I might argue with the Minister being on the Fish and Wildlife Management Board. In view of the decisions that have been made over the past six months, there are a lot of Yukoners wondering why he is in charge of Renewable Resources. One could argue whether or not the Minister should be appointed to the Wildlife Management Board when he goes into his next vocation, which, I have no doubt, will be in the very near future. I realize that the Minister is trying to plan for the future and is attempting to look ahead.
I submit to the House that the MLA for Kluane is trying to do something that is logical and has merit. If we believe that the wildlife of the Yukon is important and of significance to us, then there is no way that we should pass legislation that allows the appointment of individuals who do not reside here. I just cannot buy it.
Quite frankly, until they brought in this section, as it is written, it had never occurred to me that we would even consider appointing people other than residents to the board.
What agreements has the Minister reached that have not been tabled in this House with respect to trans-boundary land claims? Are there some agreements that say that they now will be on the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board? Is that why the section is here?
Hon. Mr. Webster: There is no agreement with any First Nation that has trans-boundary claims requiring that they must have a member of their First Nation sitting on the Fish and Wildlife Management Board.
I would like to remind the Member that it is still not our intent to appoint non-Yukoners. We have a board right now that is composed of all Yukon residents.
I have presented some good examples showing some of the extraordinary circumstances allowing non-resident Yukoners to sit on Yukon boards. There have been instances where, for a short period of time, we may have appointed a person who is of non-resident status. As the Member for Kluane said, someone who is eligible for a hunting licence - - I am sorry. I did not hear him say eligible for a hunting licence - which requires residency for a period of one year. There may be an individual who does not quite meet that qualification at the time of his appointment to the board.
The Minister speaks about a short period of time. What does the Minister estimate to be a short period of time: three, four or five years?
Your appointments are for a minimum of three years and a maximum of five years. Who is the Minister trying to kid, outside of the public, by saying that it will be a short period of time.
I know that when three years passes in my short lifetime, it is a significant period of time. Is the Minister saying that three years is a short period of time for an appointment? Is that what the Minister is trying to tell the House?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Three years is not a short time for an appointment, but I do not know how the Member has found this line of questioning.
I was saying that a person who had moved to the Yukon, but was not quite yet considered to be a Yukon resident, in other words had not been in the Yukon for one year, could be considered for an appointment to the board.
I think that under some circumstances that would be quite valid and acceptable.
Mr. Lang: He would not have to live here. He could live in B.C. and come up for the board meetings.
Mr. Brewster: Maybe we can settle it very easily. Perhaps the Minister can tell us the name of the person that he is trying to sneak in from outside of the territory, who has not yet qualified for residency, but is going to qualify as soon as this legislation passes. Then the Minister will be able to quickly put that person on the board.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Again, I want to emphasize that I have no such person in mind, and that all present Members of the board are Yukon residents; that is my intention in the future.
Mr. Lang: The Minister refers to the umbrella final agreement. My question is: why would the Government of Yukon ever agree to a section like this?
This government was elected by the residents of the territory, not by the federal civil servants flying in and out of here from Ottawa, nor were you elected by the Tetlit Gwichin from Ft. McPherson, or the people in British Columbia. Your responsibility is to the people of the territory and I want to ask you why you would ever agree to a section of that kind?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Again, as the Member knows, three parties negotiated the umbrella final agreement. When the arguments were presented by the federal government and the Yukon First Nations - keeping in mind that the goal of the Yukon land claims is for Indian people to have more say and more control over their lives and the resources - this was the agreement that was reached and what this bill does is honour the principle expressed in the umbrella final agreement.
Mr. Lang: The Minister told the House that they went to the negotiations, they were told what to do, and they came back with the agreement. The Minister is representing the people of the territory, the Government of Yukon, the electorate and the residents of the territory. I want to know why the Minister agreed to it. Why did the Minister leave the negotiating table saying that we agreed to it?
Hon. Mr. Webster: We could see that, in some extraordinary situations, it would be acceptable to appoint people to that board who are not, as yet, residents of the Yukon, but who would make a valuable contribution. I have already given some examples.
Mr. Brewster: Maybe we had better go back in history a little bit. Number one, the territorial government was never in land claims to start with. The Member for Hootalinqua was our representative, and he worked to defend Yukoners because the Council for Yukon Indians was defending the First Nations, the federal government was defending the First Nations and there was no one to defend other Yukoners. It is quite apparent that this government has sold the ship down the lane, and I suppose it is for boats. That is the only reason I can think of. The Minister has not given one reason. He keeps saying that someone might come along. Laws are not made on there might be; laws are made to defend the game and look after the people here, and the people of Yukon can look after themselves. They do not need someone that might come in here and be a resident later on. There are enough experts in this community and in the Yukon to handle this. In fact, if a Minister would listen to a few experts, we would have a lot more caribou by next spring.
Mr. Lang: I do not think that it is quite that simple. I cannot understand, for example, how the MLA for Campbell could support a motion like this, which perhaps would give people from B.C. more rights than any from the constituency he now represents. Or the MLA for Faro. How can we stand in our place here and say that it is fine, knowing that the intention of the government down the road is to appoint someone from outside the territory to manage our wildlife?
The Member for Riverdale North made it very clear that it is fine if we have expertise from B.C. or Alaska. They can come in as consultants, meet with the board and give some advice. If it is their intention to become so involved in the wildlife of the territory then, I submit, they should take the time to live here and perhaps find out where Haines Junction or Dawson City are.
It is not our place to pass a section in a bill that opens the door to this type of an appointment. I cannot accept the principle, just because the Ministers argument is that the three levels of government approved it, so there he is, like a guinea pig, to rush it through. We do not need the Legislature, if that is the case. We can shut it down. We can just get the Commissioner in here and have him sign it. We should get rid of the Legislature, as it is irrelevant - that is obvious from the way we have been spending money here with no vote appropriations, no accountability and no responsibility.
The Minister is not even prepared to go back and say that perhaps the Member for Kluane, who has lived so many years in the Yukon, has a point; there is an area here with a significant weakness.
We should not pass something just because someone told us to. Does the Minister not think for himself? Instead of getting his walking orders from some other group, the Minister should be able to say that the argument is a valid one.
I cannot believe that any Minister or elected politician would knowingly walk into this House and ask for the right to appoint non-residents to boards.
I just cannot imagine anybody running in an election in Klondike saying that if they elect me in the riding of Klondike and they vote for me, I will make sure that representatives from British Columbia and maybe the Northwest Territories will be appointed to Yukon boards and manage the wildlife on our behalf. It would be quite a campaign slogan. I have to say it would probably be a first in the Yukon for anyone seeking public office to run on the political platform that we feel non-residents should be on all our boards and committees, just in case we get one of our friends coming in and they have not quite got their 12-month residency.
That is absolutely stupid, and I find it hard to believe of the MLA for Klondike. He did run for election, did he not, and he told the public he would do certain things? I realize he has been here for a while and sometimes one forgets those things. If he is going to seek re-election he is not going to go back and proudly stand in his place and say, look, I really gave it to you this time; I am sorry, we cannot take any appointments for the board out of the Dawson City-Klondike area because we have two from Fort McPherson and, oh yes, there was a political debt down at UBC and I forget what his or her name is but we appointed them, too; but they are going to live here because they got the appointment; they are going to move here and they are going to live here.
Surely the Member for Klondike has to think about whether we really want to give anybody the legislated right, by inference - and that is what this section does - to be appointing non-residents to boards, which is what this section does.
I never thought we would ever consider doing this. It has never come up in debate. It has just been assumed by precedent and common sense that any appointments to boards would be people who live here.
If we allow this to happen on this board, what will happen with the next board or committee?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I want to make it clear to the Member that I am not bringing forward this piece of legislation, or this particular clause, because I have my marching orders from the three levels of government. This particular clause appears in the umbrella final agreement for some good reasons, and I have already tried to articulate those reasons. Unfortunately, they have not been accepted by the side opposite.
I want to remind the Members of the side opposite that the Yukon Indian land claim is about Indian self-government. I will admit that a lot of First Nation people do not reside outside the Yukon.
There are a lot of First Nation people from the Vuntut Gwichin, for example, outside of the territory. They would not be considered residents. Sure, they are band members, and I am not about to tell the Vuntut Gwichin First Nation who they can nominate to the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board in a land claims agreement. That would be contrary to the whole reason behind a Yukon Indian land claim.
Mr. Lang: Now the truth comes out.
Mr. Brewster: As I said right at the start, we could have settled this right off the bat, but the Minister ran around and around for 45 minutes today and an hour the other day. Let me point out that number one, in the north, the Porcupine Caribou Management Board looks after the wildlife up there. It has the two territories and Alaska, and I have no problem with that at all, but I am not going to ever sit here and allow someone from the Northwest Territories to tell the people in the central or southern Yukon how many moose they can have and where they can have them. Never!
I would like to ask one more question. The Minister travelled with me on the select committee. We spent $60,000. Did the Minister even once say that, one day, we would have a Yukon management board that has people from outside the Yukon sitting on it?
I would like to ask the Minister to be truthful. What does he think would have happened at the meeting if he had brought that topic up?
Hon. Mr. Webster: No, I do not recall anyone proposing that we have non-residents on the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board. The Member is quite correct about that.
I would remind the Member that we still do not have non-residents on the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board.
Mr. Brewster: For 45 minutes we have saved the Yukon from this. We have kept the Minister from getting it, because we have not allowed him to vote yet, but he will drive it down our throats, though, as he does with everything else.
Let me point out another thing. We talked about experts from outside. We have them on land claims. The CYI represents the First Nations and with whom I agree. I am right behind them. We are supposed to have the territorial government representing the other side, but who has the final say? I had better watch my language here, or I might get thrown out. It is some guy sitting down in Ottawa who is an expert. He flies in on a plane and then back out again. He has the deciding vote. He can tell us to do things his way. He told us that on the telephone when we objected. He said that since he owns all the land and is in charge of it from Ottawa, he will do what he wants. There is our expert. Now you are bringing one for the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board, are you? It stinks.
Mr. Lang: I want to make a couple of observations. I have never seen such a spineless display in my life in this House. There is an elected Member telling me he has his marching orders and he is going to push it through. Why should I think anything else? This is the same government that virtually gave away 600 square miles of the Yukon, called a special session to play a game of smoke and mirrors with the public and then we heard nothing more about it. They had already made their deal. They are going to appoint some of them to the Fish and Wildlife Management Board. That is what has finally come out of this conversation.
But first, we have to stroke the public and pretend - the great pretender. It is too bad that the great pretender is not here. You guys must be getting tired of doing his dirty work.
I can tell you right now that this is not going to sell. It is not going to sell in Watson Lake, Dawson City or anywhere else in the territory. People will not accept the fact that this government has gone to a negotiating table as a third and separate partner and got their marching orders. Come on down and sit on our board. We have lots of wildlife.
The regulations are so fixed and firm that the resident hunter in the territory cannot even hunt. We have really done our job; we have managed our wildlife; we have done a good job. We are in charge of predator control; we have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars. Then, what does the Minister do? The Minister wants to be appointed to the Fish and Wildlife Management Board after the next election - or maybe the anniversary board, we are not too sure which one. When he gets a vote of non-confidence on one board, he forms another board. The Minister expects that he should have some credibility in this House because he brought in an expert. This expert was paid $13,000 to show people how to trap wolves. Our record was perfect.
The words were all consistent with the governments policy with respect to predator control. Zip. Zero.
The Minister sits there proudly, so happy that he has managed the wildlife; he has managed the resident hunter. If we can keep them disorganized, and if we can keep them playing smoke and mirrors, we will pretend we are doing something, but we will put in more rules. Of course, what happens is the resident hunters will have to go to the great community of Ross River, now that it is in Southern Lakes. The residents there are going to be flooded with hunters, primarily out of Whitehorse and Watson Lake. What is going to be the outcome of that?
The residents in Watson Lake will not mind a few but, all of a sudden, they will be flooded from Faro and everywhere else, because we cannot hunt in one-third to two-thirds of the territory. We have 600 square miles that is going to be in private hands in northern Yukon, and I bet no Yukon hunter will be allowed on that land once it is all finalized, because it will be private property. Six hundred square miles is a big area.
What have we accomplished? Then, the Minister has the audacity to come into this House with a section of a bill that says we have really laid it to the resident hunter now, and we will not even appoint the resident who wants to get involved in wildlife to the board. We have some commitments and some handshakes there we have to honour.
The Minister of Renewable Resources was not involved in the discussions at all. He had his walking orders, like a little guinea pig walking in here saying, here is the bill, I do not know why it is there, but trust me, there are all Yukoners on the board, and we just want this, just in case an exceptional circumstance happens.
We should not be surprised with the Yukon Development Corporation appointments and such. We should not be a bit surprised, in view of this governments modus operandi. It infuriates me, and I do not know how the Member for Faro can sit here and vote, in good conscience, for something like this. Anyone in Faro, no matter what their particular stripe might be, would say that this is not acceptable - what are you doing? Even people who are not interested in wildlife would say that the principle is wrong; the boards and legislation are designed by Yukoners to govern themselves. Why would you pass a piece of legislation that permits the government to go outside the boundaries and appoint people other than residents? But, he has made a concession - the Government Leader negotiated hard on our behalf because he said to the public and at the negotiating table that we will make sure that there is a majority of Yukoners on the board. That should appease them, so we will have a vote: seven to five. Is that not great?
I have a question to the Member for Faro. Can he tell me, in good conscience, that the members of the Fish and Game Association, or the outfitting association, or the conservation society in Faro would support that? When I look at the side opposite, I have to ask who they are representing. Have they forgotten?
I would move that we report progress on Bill No. 7.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Webster: I move that the Speaker now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Ms. Kassi: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No.7, entitled An Act to Amend the Wildlife Act, and directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of Committee of the Whole.
Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. Tuesday next.
The House adjourned at 5:28 p.m.
The following Document was filed on May 14, 1992:
Number of letters pertaining to the proposed electoral district boundary of Ross River-Southern Lakes (February 1992 to April 1992) (Phelps)