Tuesday, March 16, 1993 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time, we will proceed with Prayers. I would ask each Member to bow their head in silent prayer.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
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?
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House congratulates the Yukon First Nation citizens, federal government and Yukon government officials, both past and present, who contributed to the settlement of the Yukon Indian land claim.
Mr. Cable: I give notice of the motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Public Service Commission Act should be amended to provide that the Public Service Commissioner shall be appointed by this House on the recommendation of an all-party committee of this House and to provide further that the Public Service Commissioner shall only be removed from office on the recommendation of such committee.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT the House urges the Government of Canada to provide adequate resources to the Council for Yukon Indians and the Yukon government to enable them to implement the Yukon First Nations final agreements and the First Nations self-government agreements settling the Yukon Indian land claims.
I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government of the Yukon should work cooperatively with the Government of Alaska and the Government of British Columbia to develop transportation links and an interlocking power grid that will serve the three jurisdictions and promote economic development.
Carcross caribou recovery and Specially Protected Wildlife legislation
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Today I wish to advise the Members of the progress that has been made to protect the caribou herds in the Carcross area.
Currently, five First Nations, the Government of British Columbia and the Government of the Yukon are working together to recover the Carcross caribou herd. Once numbering in the thousands and extending from the Haines Road to Teslin Lake, this herd now numbers only about 350 animals, in six isolated sub-herds. Hunting closures for outfitters and non-native residents since the mid-1980s have failed to promote any recovery. Following a workshop hosted by Chief Patrick James in Carcross on February 15, a recovery plan is being prepared. I look forward to tabling this plan in April or May, and I understand that it may call for specially protected status for the six Carcross caribou sub-herds.
I welcome this initiative by Chief James and the extensive collaboration involved in such an endeavour. Section 184 of the Wildlife Act provides for the designation of threatened wildlife populations as Specially Protected Wildlife. This designation allows for measures and prohibition to restrict the harvest of all users for the survival of such wildlife population. I wish to reassure Members of this House and First Nations that enforcement of the strict penalties for harvest that can be applied under this new Specially Protected Wildlife legislation, is seen as a last resort, and will be applied only in exceptional instances where other educational measures have failed, and after consultation with First Nations.
First Nations clearly must share some leadership in protecting our wildlife heritage. I see the Carcross caribou herd recovery plan as an excellent example of such leadership and a commitment to the conservation principles in the umbrella final agreement.
Mr. Danny Joe: Mr. Speaker, the Minister has brought us up to date on progress on a solution to the low caribou population in Carcoss.
This is a pretty good thing. What I like is that the First Nation is taking the lead to work with the government on how to manage the caribou.
We all know the numbers are low, and need to be rebuilt. The first Nation People are behind it - it is their priority. And the government should support them with that.
In my area, what we do is limit who can take caribou. We manage the herd.
In Carcross, those people - that First Nation - should manage the herd with the help of the government.
With the land claim agreement, we can do a lot more to help manage our wildlife. This is a good example of people working together to support our wildlife, and I hope everybody in the Yukon takes note of how this can work.
I wish the chief in Carcross and his people good luck in the future with this project. We all want to see them succeed.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I would like to thank the Member for Mayo-Tatchun for his support. This plan has come a little late; however, it is better late than never, and I am very proud to have been in the situation where First Nations have started something and the government has been able to work with them and cooperate with them. I hope this is a sign of things to come. I can pledge that, as long as I am in the government, I will do my best, in wildlife situations, to see that we work together.
Speaker: This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Curragh inc., financial assistance
Mr. Penikett: Yesterday, the Minister of Economic Development criticized Curragh Resources for a lack of information. Is the Government Leader aware that Curragh arranged detailed briefings on its complete operations, ore bodies, metal markets and financial positions for Opposition Members? Can he say why, according to my understanding, the Cabinet of this present government did not avail itself of a similar opportunity, especially since we are now advised that some of the government briefing notes on this question contain some important factual errors?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The information the Minister of Economic Development was talking about yesterday was financial information that was slow in coming for many reasons. One of these was that Curragh wanted to have their year-end books in place before they started divulging this information. I believe we looked at many documents. I believe the Leader of the Official Opposition is referring to one document in particular that he feels was in error. I draw to his attention that we had a Micon study done that covered the technical analysis of the company. We had the Burns Fry report, which covered the financial analysis of the company. We also had Curraghs year-end books and balance sheets, as well as numerous private briefings with Curragh personnel.
Mr. Penikett: The fact remains that the Cabinet did not meet with Curragh to compare notes, and I think that was a mistake.
On CBC Radio last week, and in Watson Lake, the Government Leader stated that he had no hard and fast deadline for Curragh to comply with the governments conditions. Why, then, in a communication to Curragh Resources, did he say that the governments offer was open only until March 29? Can he tell us why he said one thing to the public and quite the opposite thing to the company involved?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: As the Member opposite knows, when you enter negotiations, you do put a date on it. The fact remains that those dates can be negotiable if the negotiations are proceeding. By the end of March, there is no doubt that we would extend that date.
I said again in a speech this morning that we hoped to have something resolved by the end of March, but that is not a hard and fast date.
Mr. Penikett: The fact of negotiations cannot justify dissembling to the public. I want to ask the Government Leader a point blank question: after dithering for months, setting some unrealistic conditions - some negotiable, some not and a few of them secret and now, it turns out, a nearly impossible deadline - will the Government Leader admit that he is just doing another Taga Ku deal. The unrealistic conditions and the impossible deadline are a frankly dishonest way of saying no to the people of Faro and Watson Lake.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I say that the Leader of the Official Opposition is dead wrong in his assumptions.
I want to speak first about the issue of dithering for months. The Hon. Leader of the Official Opposition was into similar negotiations over one year ago, which commenced in November 1991. They did not come to an agreement until March 1992, when the Government Leader saw fit to advance a $5 million loan to Curragh to keep the operation going. The terms and conditions put forward, by all business and financial advice we have received, are reasonable in the circumstances. It is not a ploy to put Curragh under or close down the operation in Faro. In fact, it is quite the opposite. It is to see that Curragh is able to survive in the long term and provide those jobs to Yukoners for many years to come.
Question re: Taga Ku convention centre project, government stance
Mr. Penikett: The difference, of course, is that the NDP adopted a bargaining position immediately. This government dithered for four months before adopting one. That is a big difference.
I would like to ask a question on a related matter to the Minister of Economic Development, who told us yesterday that the Taga Ku project was not yet dead. Would he admit today that the deal is deader than a doorknob and that YTG killed it?
Hon. Mr. Devries: I would like to thank the Leader of the Official Opposition for his question. The fact is that the Government of the Yukon is still open to something with the Taga Ku proponents if they proceed with construction and can live up to something that fits within the parameters that were set by that government.
Mr. Penikett: That, of course, flies in the face of statements by the proponents, who say that not only is the deal absolutely dead but that YTG killed it. Can I ask the Minister if he is now ready to admit that this incredibly stupid decision may have cost the Yukon economy as many as 300 jobs if Northwestel now moves its head office to Yellowknife because it does not have that office space here?
Hon. Mr. Devries: I will not admit that because I have no indication from Northwestel that they plan to move their head office from the Yukon. I have every indication from them that they plan to keep their head office here in Whitehorse.
Mr. Penikett: On another occasion, we will have a chance to explore that information because there is evidence that jobs are already trickling away. I would like to ask the same Minister: given that the government has demolished the Taga Ku office tower project and given that it would also, I understand, cost Curragh Resources between $1 million and $2 million to break its lease in Toronto, how exactly does this government plan to facilitate the move of Curraghs head office to Whitehorse?
Hon. Mr. Devries: I do not feel it is this governments job to facilitate Curragh in the moving of its head office to Whitehorse. That is Curraghs job and there is lots of lease space available. We have cancelled one lease and we have another building that is presently empty, so it is not as though there is no space around.
Question re: Energy policy
Mr. Cable: I have a question for the Minister of Economic Development. In the December sitting of this House, his colleague, the Minister responsible for the Yukon Energy Corporation, was asked whether the government expected to have in place a policy for the pricing of electricity to major industrial consumers prior to the end of this present month - this being the date when the Curragh contract expires. His colleagues answer was, to quote, absolutely. Judging from his colleagues responses yesterday, I gather this will not happen. In view of the rate application now before the Public Utilities Board, which I gather will be heard in May or June, does the government anticipate having this industrial-user policy in place prior to the hearings so that the board may be given the appropriate regulatory direction?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The present position of the government is with respect to looking at industrial rates which, by all indications, would involve subsidies from the government. We will not have a policy in place for at least another three months.
The situation with respect to Curragh itself is one that was left to the Yukon Energy Corporation to deal with, in keeping with the decision made by the Public Utilities Board. That is what we are facing right now. We intend to look at the issue of a subsidy that would apply to that mining company and any new mining companies in the future. However, that is a decision that is going to be a very difficult one to make because of the potential cost in the event that new mines come onstream. Right now, we have several that are examining properties and spending a lot of money in the Yukon, and they could come onstream.
Let me say that, under the previous rates, which exist until the Public Utilities Board approves the changes requested, if a couple of new mines were given the same broad and generous subsidies by ratepayers of the Yukon, it would pretty well have broken everybody in the Yukon.
Mr. Cable: The Minister informed the House yesterday that the government would be able to announce something within three months that would be of benefit to all new industrial users who might be thinking of coming to the Yukon.
Does this something involve something more than electricity pricing?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Yes, it will be looking at more than just the pricing. I understand we are going to also be looking at infrastructure.
Mr. Cable: In December of last year, the Minister responsible for the Yukon Energy Corporation further informed the House that he expected a comprehensive energy policy to be in place within 12 months. Is this still the present target date, or has that time line also been changed?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It is certainly a goal of this government to meet that time line. However, as the Member is aware, we are looking at changes in law during this session to the mandate of what is now the Yukon Development Corporation. There will be legislation proceeding through the House. A lot of what is involved in a comprehensive energy policy is somewhat dependent on the establishment of the new restricted mandate for what is now known as the Yukon Development Corporation.
Question re: Curragh Inc., financial assistance
Mr. Harding: I have a question for the Minister responsible for Economic Development. Condition number 10 placed on Curragh makes a requirement that Curragh should sell the Stronsay project in northern B.C. and then turn back 50 percent of the proceeds to YTG.
Why is the government interested in taking such a big chunk of Curraghs potential working capital, when they will need this to remain viable in these troubled and depressed metal-price times?
Hon. Mr. Devries: I would like to thank the Member for Faro for his question. I would like the Member for Faro to realize that we are putting at risk a lot of the Yukon taxpayers money.
The sooner that risk is lifted, the sooner Curragh can proceed to operate the mine as they see fit, whereas, with our conditions, the way Curragh operates will be quite restricted, in that they cannot spend any money outside of the Yukon.
Basically, the answer to the question is that if they have large sums of money coming in, we feel that money should go toward paying down the money that the Yukon taxpayers have put forward.
Mr. Harding: This is a major contradiction. On one hand, the government is saying Curragh must have working capital to remain viable. Yet, when they sell off their most valuable asset, YTG wants 50 percent of it immediately.
This could ultimately result in the mines downfall and loss of the other 50 percent portion of the loan guarantee. Will the government admit that they are in fact robbing Peter to pay Paul?
Hon. Mr. Devries: I would have to admit that this is possibly one of the conditions that is negotiable. However, the Member must realize that it is not necessarily 50 percent of the proceeds; it is 50 percent of the profits associated with the sale of the property, as they do have a debt against that property.
Mr. Harding: It is nice to know that we are starting to uncover those conditions that are negotiable and which ones are non-negotiable; which ones are secret and which ones are not.
Yesterday there were some comments in the Legislature by the Government Leader regarding normal business practice for banks to pull aside to allow third parties to have first charge on collateral security.
Can the Minister responsible for Economic Development provide one example whereby a Canadian chartered bank has pulled aside their first charge on collateral security and let a third party in? I would like one, specific, normal-business-practice example.
Hon. Mr. Devries: Actually, I could not imagine the specific circumstances but I know for a fact that I was involved in one of these circumstances myself, involving a large cattle ranch down by Penticton. I know it is very possible that it can be done because I have seen it done.
Question re: Curragh Inc., financial assistance
Mr. Harding: In exploring these conditions, it is starting to become readily apparent that these conditions are in fact unrealistic, and the government is not really sure about whether Curragh will be able to comply with them or not. The next question that I have for the Minister responsible for Economic Development is: with all of these caveats and conditions on them, I want to know how Curragh is supposed to continue to operate viably within a depressed market where all other zinc producers in the world are feeling the pinch, when on May 1, the government will be allowing a rate increase of 33 per cent to their power bill?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I thought I made it very clear yesterday that the corporation operates in an arms-length manner from this government in establishing the rates, in conjunction with Yukon Electrical Corporation Ltd. It is quite clear that the actual increase to Curragh is considerably less, when one looks at the overall rates, than the 33 and one-third percent that has been announced. That was clarified, in part, by an official I heard this morning on one of the radio stations in town.
The position of this government is that any subsidies to industrial corporations ought to be out in the open and visible so that the public knows what they are doing. It is our intention to look at the kind of rate subsidy that is in keeping, and proper, with our objectives, subsidies that will not break either this government or the ratepayers in the Yukon. We agree with the philosophy that has been enunciated by the Public Utilities Board, time and time again, that that is the appropriate way to subsidize any user.
Mr. Harding: The Minister does a fine job of dancing around the issue. The real fact remains that on May 1, a 33 per cent increase in power rates will have to be taken by Curragh. I want to ask the Minister responsible for Economic Development another question regarding the Curragh conditions. The government has asked that Sa Dena Hes be opened on terms satisfactory to the government. Yet, they have yet to tell Yukoners or Curragh what these mysterious terms are. How can the government expect these terms to be met when they are not revealing them to Yukoners, or even the party with whom they are negotiating?
Hon. Mr. Devries: I suggest that perhaps the Member should ask Curragh. The conditions are no secret. I would suggest that if the Member wishes, he should phone the Sa Dena Hes mine. If he had done his homework, he would have done that.
Mr. Harding: Based on these unrealistic conditions and the fact that it was only political and public pressure that forced them to come up with this conditional offer on the loan guarantees on March 4, will the government now admit that they have placed unrealistic conditions on Curragh and that they have no intention of seeing the deal come to fruition, thus devastating the economy of the Yukon.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member for Faro likes to go into theatrics, but the fact of the matter is that he does not understand finances.
We have had lots of good advice in coming up with the conditions we attached to this.
It is a goal of this government to see that the Faro operation survives in the long term. When a patient needs major surgery, one does not attack it with a band aid. That is what the Members opposite are asking us to do.
Question re: Curragh Inc., financial assistance
Mr. McDonald: I know that we will explore, in a little more detail, the salience of the Government Leader, particularly respecting his claim that Members on this side do not know government finances. The incredible irony of that will become more clear as we discuss the supplementary estimates and their financial forecasts of last December.
Speaker: I hope that is a brief preamble to the Members question.
Mr. McDonald: Yes, it is, Mr. Speaker. It is consistent with the tone of the question I am about to put.
I would like to ask the Minister of Economic Development a few short questions about the conditions that Members on this side are very interested in. Could the Member simply tell us when the conditions that are now being applied to Curragh were developed and finalized.
Hon. Mr. Devries: I thank the Member for his question. Some of those conditions started to be developed the moment we were aware that Curragh was going to be asking the government for a loan guarantee. Several of them are even on the recommendation of Curraghs people themselves as suggestions regarding some of the things we should look at. It is not like these are coming out of the blue.
I assure you that I think that this is a golden opportunity for Curragh Resources to show that they are a true corporate citizen of the Yukon by taking these conditions seriously. In this way, we can allow Curragh to get this $29 million loan guarantee so that they can survive.
Mr. McDonald: What I simply wanted to know from the Minister was when the final list of conditions that were published, made public to us and issued to Curragh - not the secret ones that came later; I am just talking about the final list that was published - were finalized? I am very interested in that question - I do not mean anything by it; I just want an answer.
Hon. Mr. Devries: That list was developed in Cabinet and, as the Minister very well knows because he has been in Cabinet, I do not feel comfortable discussing things that took place in Cabinet in this Legislature.
Mr. McDonald: A combination of kibitzing from both the government side and the Opposition side has decided that the answer to the question the Minister refuses to answer is that they were either developed and finalized just prior to the press conference or during the Faro protest.
My final question to the Minister of Economic Development - and this is probably the point of the whole line of questioning - is: the Minister stated in Faro that they were developing and actively negotiating with Curragh principals and would have an agreement ready for signing once the Burns Fry report came out. Were the conditions that were issued publicly just prior to the press conference or during the protest made known to Curragh at that time?
Hon. Mr. Devries: I would say that most of the conditions were made known to them, but the final list was not developed until just prior to the announcement that the loan guarantee would come through. A lot of serious thought went into a lot of these conditions and it took some time. Various Cabinet Ministers, MLAs and party supporters had input into the conditions; as well, we spoke with the people in Watson Lake, et cetera, about the conditions. At least I spoke to the people in Watson Lake regarding the conditions attached to the Sa Dena Hess operation. So, there was a lot of input from the Yukon public at large, and the Yukon public at large wanted to be certain that the conditions attached to this loan would give them some security and, for Curragh, the ability to show that it could survive in the long term.
Question re: Curragh Inc., financial assistance
Mr. McDonald: I am sorry about the roundabout way of getting to this point. What we appear to have here is a moving target. We appear to have a situation where the government issues a preliminary list of conditions and, then, as it consults with party members and roams around the territory, listening to one group or another, they build on to the list of conditions, publish this list during the Faro protest, and secretly add to the list once they send letters to Curragh indicating that there is a potential for a deal.
How can the Minister of Economic Development make the people of the territory feel any sense of confidence or trust in the Cabinet to successfully negotiate a deal when the arrangements they are indicating must be met prior to a final deal seem to be changing as we speak, every day?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I would like to clarify what seems to be a lot of confusion in the minds of the Members opposite. The sequence went like this: conditions were being discussed and finalized during the week leading up to and including March 3. On March 4, Cabinet met to finalize the conditions, which were in laymans terms. At that time, they decided to issue a statement but, on advice from the Department of Justice, they did not release the conditions until those conditions were put forward in contractual terms by a competent law firm, which was being engaged to assist Burns Fry in preparing the offer.
The reason for this was that the advice from the Department of Justice, which was good advice, was that whatever offer was made, verbally or otherwise, by this government to Curragh could be binding if the offer were accepted. It was simply a prudent business practice that caused the delay from March 4, when the conditions were agreed upon for the final time and the news release issued, to the time when those conditions were put into appropriate legalese and contractual offer form by Swinton and Co. in Vancouver, operating on the instructions of Burns Fry.
Mr. McDonald: I do not know how to respond to the Minister of Justice standing up and answering questions that are financial and relate to the Curragh deal. Perhaps he regards himself as being the Minister of right and wrong - he will correct the wrongs of the others.
I would like to ask the Minister of Economic Development a question. Given that they had promised the people of Faro - with 600 witnesses - that they were actively going to negotiate a deal that would be ready once the Burns Fry report became public, and given the fact that they had said that they were actively trying to negotiate with Faro, how can it be believed that they were trying to negotiate an arrangement when the list of conditions was not only a moving target but, also, only seriously discussed and finalized the week of March 3?
Hon. Mr. Devries: Again, I can go back to the answer I gave to the Member for Whitehorse West yesterday. The fact is that the information was not forthcoming from Curragh. They did not seem to come forward with anything that was negotiable. A few letters flowed back and forth with some suggestions of something, but nothing really developed. Curragh did not seem to recognize the seriousness of the matter. We took it from there.
Mr. McDonald: Does the Minister honestly expect us to believe that a company that is about to collapse does not understand the seriousness of the negotiations?
As a final question here ...
Speaker: With a one sentence preamble.
Mr. McDonald: Yes, Mr. Speaker. The government opposite knows how to talk turkey when it comes to negotiations. They issued a list of conditions that indicated precisely, at least at the time, how they felt about what was required as a loan security for this arrangement. If they were seriously interested in negotiating with Curragh and saving the jobs in Faro, why did they not issue those conditions when they said they started negotiations last year?
Hon. Mr. Devries: I think the Minister actually answered his own question. First, we needed the Burns Fry report. We did not have this report, and we had very little to work on.
Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible).
Speaker: Please let the Minister answer the question.
Hon. Mr. Devries: The Member also said that I could not honestly say that Curragh did not realize they were in the financial predicament that they are now in. I say, today, that I honestly do not feel that Curragh realizes the serious financial position they are in.
Question re: Energy policy
Mrs. Firth: Many people were discouraged yesterday by the Ministers words regarding the potential increase in power costs to Yukoners and, particularly, the Ministers acceptance that the increased costs were necessary. We heard the Yukon Electrical Company Ltd. representative tell us on the radio this afternoon that they were not experiencing good times, but many Yukoners are also not experiencing good times, and they cannot afford another increase.
Will the Minister responsible for the Yukon Energy Corporation look at cost-cutting measures for the corporation or the Yukon Electrical Company before he goes to Yukoners and asks them to pay more money?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The appropriate watchdog and policeman in these circumstances - and it was the fundamental wish and desire of Yukon that this be the case - is the Public Utilities Board. The rate application that these companies have put forward is to the Public Utilities Board, which will be scrutinizing every aspect of the proposed increase.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister cannot have it the way the previous Minister with the previous government tried to have it, where they would be arms-length when it suited the government. I believe yesterday the Minister did say that they may have to give some direction to both the board and the Yukon Energy Corporation regarding the industrial subsidies. You cannot have it both ways.
The Yukon Energy Corporation issues consulting contracts for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the Public Utilities Board has already raised, as an issue, the O&M costs, staff salaries and so on, as well as the costs of the hearings for the Public Utilities Board. I have a constituent who had requested copies of the cost of the contracts from the Yukon Energy Corporation, and that request was denied. These contracts were provided under the previous government. Will the Minister grant the required permission so that those dollar figures are made public?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will certainly look into whether or not that is possible.
Mrs. Firth: As I remember the Minister as a colleague in opposition, he was a very strong advocate of lower power rates and quite outraged when his constituents were faced with having to pay more electrical costs.
Since the Minister is now in a position to help his constituents and other Yukoners, will he tell us whether or not the legislative changes he is proposing will benefit Yukon power consumers by reducing their costs? Will he answer the first part of my question, as to whether or not they would look at cost-cutting measures, particularly in the Yukon Energy Corporation?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The Yukon Energy Corporation is intended to be reasonably independent from government. As per the four-year plan of the Yukon Party, we intend to try to maintain that relationship. One has to have some confidence in an independent board of directors and the business acumen of that board. We had some words over how those people were appointed by the side opposite. However, at this time, the main body responsible for running an efficient shop is the board of directors.
At this point, I feel they are doing a pretty good job in the Yukon Energy Corporation. In terms of being government and issuing broad policy directives from time to time, we will be making it very clear that we want an efficient, lean and mean operation run, wherever possible. We also recognize that, in the long run, many of the capital costs being incurred by the Yukon Energy Corporation are necessary to ensure the well-being of the company in the long term. The year to year replacement of capital equipment that is wearing out and becoming obsolete is necessary.
The Member asked a whole whack of questions in her preamble, but I will deal with the last one: do we think that restricting the mandate of the Yukon Development Corporation to the energy-related field will be to the benefit of Yukon ratepayers?
Of course. We have always said that it was the Yukon Development Corporation that drained the profits from the Yukon Energy Corporation in the past and used that ratepayer money for things like the Watson Lake sawmill. That is the first thing that we have moved to stop - that kind of bleeding that an interventionist socialistic party would be in favour of.
Question re: Mayo school
Mr. Joe: I have a question for the Minister of Education. Will a new school be built in Mayo to replace the old rundown trailers our children are in now?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Before I answer the question, I would like to apologize for a terrible mistake I made in the House yesterday. In addressing a question from the Member for McIntyre-Takhini, I mistakenly called him the Minister - I guess it is a seven-year habit, and I realize that now I am the Minister and he is just the Member. I apologise to the House for the terrible error I made yesterday; it may happen again because it is a habit, but I will try and refer to the Member as the Member.
With respect to the question from the Member for Mayo-Tatchun, about the Mayo school, the government is under fairly tight financial constraints in the upcoming budget and it will be impossible to satisfy all the needs in all the communities. In education, we have had to look at some of the communities that are in dire need of extra school space and, in the community of Mayo, it has been determined that we can repair the roof and get away, for the time being, with not replacing the school. The previous government had planned a $7 million expansion in that area; that is just not going to be possible this year with our financial constraints. It must be remembered, as well, that there were 200 students in that school a few years ago, but there are only 80 now. I have students in many schools in the territory who are sitting in nurses offices, in industrial arts...
Speaker: I would like to remind the Minister that a reply to a question should be as brief as possible.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I thought I was being brief. I apologize. The simple answer to the question is, no; we will be fixing the school this year, repairing it, but we will not be building a new school there.
Mr. Joe: This is not acceptable. Mayos children deserve a good building where they can learn. They have waited long enough, since the early 1970s, for a good school, not a trailer. We want the Minister to reconsider his decision. Will he do this for the school children of Mayo?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We fully intend to provide adequate facilities and facilities that are safe for the school children of Mayo. Is the Member telling me that, with my budget constraints, I should leave kids in nursing offices or in the industrial arts rooms and not give them adequate classrooms? I think each student should be entitled to at least decent classroom space in the existing school system that we have. We will address the Mayo issue, but we can only do it within the budget constraints we have in the government of the Yukon. Unfortunately, the well is dry, so we are left with that type of a position.
Mr. Joe: Is this an example of how this government is going to deal with the people from the communities? How can we trust a government that deals with the communities like this? Is the education of rural Yukoners going to be ignored by this government?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can understand the concerns of the Member for Tatchun.
Maybe he should also address the same question to the Leader of the Official Opposition, who built a $10 million school in his riding. This school is much more than the cost of any other school that would be built in the territory. We would have had quite a lot of money left over to build a school at Mayo if a castle had not been built in the riding of the Leader of the Official Opposition.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed.
Opposition Private Members Business
Mr. McDonald: Pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(3), I would like to identify the order in which items standing in the name of the Official Opposition are to be called on Wednesday, March 17, 1993. They are: Motion No. 17 and Motion No. 19.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Speaker: We will now proceed with Orders of the Day.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: 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 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 Committee of the Whole to order. Committee will be dealing with Bill No. 2, entitled An Act Approving Yukon Land Claim Final Agreements, and Bill No. 3, entitled First Nations (Yukon) Self-Government Act. Is there any general debate on Bill No. 2?
Bill No. 2 - An Act Approving Yukon Land Claim Final Agreements
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: While the act giving force and effect to the Yukon Indian land claim umbrella final agreement is rather short and precise, the agreement itself is not. The UFA constitutes over 400 pages and is divided into 28 chapters. It is not my intention to go into all the details of those 400 pages here in general debate, but I believe it is important for the Members of this House to go through the major elements of the claim.
There are Members on both sides of the House who are well versed in these matters. Some have even been directly involved in the negotiations and have sat at the negotiating table. Other Members who are new to the House, however, must find the umbrella final agreement somewhat intimidating in view of its scope, detail and complexity. I am not a lawyer, so I will not endeavour to give a legal interpretation of the specifics of each chapter. Instead, I would like to give an overview of the main points of each chapter and to highlight some of the provisions. In this way, I believe we can all learn to better understand this very complex social, economic and constitutional contract that will bind Yukoners together forever.
I would like to begin by reviewing the land claims process itself. As Members know full well, 20 years have passed since the Yukon First Nations first presented their comprehensive claim to the Government of Canada in Ottawa on February 14, 1973.
Many Yukoners may not be aware that the Yukon Indian land claim was the first comprehensive claim accepted by Ottawa for negotiations as a consequence of the Calder case in British Columbia. Who would have thought back then that we would be in this House, 20 years later, putting the finishing touches on the settlement of the Yukon Indian land claim.
I know many Yukoners are skeptical that the Yukon Indian land claim will ever be settled. I know many Yukon First Nation citizens, over these many years, must have despaired that their claim would ever be settled. It saddens me to think of how many of them, particularly the elders who worked so hard for their children, are no longer with us to see this historic legislation pass through this House.
Two weeks ago, I had the honour and privilege of participating in a naming ceremony for the new federal building: the Elijah Smith Building. It was Elijah who presented the Yukon claim to Prime Minister Trudeau in 1973. I remarked to the attentive crowd that the most fitting tribute that Yukoners and our fellow Canadians could pay to Elijah Smith was to complete the land claims process. I pointed out that the legacy of Elijah Smith would be the settlement of the Yukon Indian claim and that this legacy would outlast any building or monument that may be named in his honour.
The Council for Yukon Indians ratified the umbrella final agreement and the model self-government agreement in 1991. The First Nation final agreements have been completed with the Champagne/Aishihik First Nations, the Vuntut Gwichin First Nations, the Teslin Tlingit Council and the Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nation.
The Champagne/Aishihik First Nations ratified their final agreement and self-government agreement in October 1992. I understand that the Na-Cho Nyak Dun plan to ratify their agreements sometime this month. The Vuntut Gwichin First Nation will be voting from April 27 to May 4 of this year.
The Government of the Yukon, for its part, is doing its utmost to bring the settlement to an expeditious conclusion. We introduced two land claims bills last December and gave them first and second reading. We established a special legislative committee on land claims and self-government to hold public meetings in all Yukon communities to give the Yukon people to review the agreements prior to the Legislature giving these bills third reading. I tabled the findings of that committee yesterday in this House. Public meetings were held in all Yukon communities from January 24 to March 1. A total of 305 people attended the public meetings and the committee recommended the acceptance of the two bills without amendment.
Once the bills receive third and final reading, it is our intention to call in the Commissioner to give them royal assent. We know that time is of the essence, as the federal election looms on the horizon. It was for that reason that I tabled a motion in the House yesterday calling upon the federal Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to introduce legislation giving force and effect to these agreements in the federal Parliament as soon as possible so that the Yukon Indian claim can be settled prior to the next federal election.
It must be recognized that the passage of the settlement legislation, both here and in Ottawa, does not mean an end to the land claims process. There remain 10 outstanding First Nation claims to be resolved. Further, the process of implementation will just be beginning. The laws only outline the parameters of the claim and define what we must do, but it is the people who must make this settlement work, and this will be a never ending process as First Nations Yukoners and Yukoners at large, work out the new relationship.
That brings me to chapter 1: general provisions. The general provisions provide certainty as to the relationship between the Yukon First Nations and non-native Yukoners. Yukon First Nations are releasing aboriginal claims to non-settlement land in the Yukon in exchange for the benefits provided by governments that are outlined in the umbrella final agreement. The rights that are provided to the Yukon First Nations will enjoy constitutional protection. The identity of the Yukon Indian people will be enshrined in the Canadian Constitution.
The Yukon Indian people will still benefit from government programs for status Indians and they will continue to receive any other programs that are available to native people or to Canadian citizens if they apply for them. Further, any future aboriginal rights will apply to the Yukon Indian people, except as set out in the agreement.
The agreement can only be amended with the consent of all parties. In the event of conflicts between the umbrella final agreement and the First Nations final agreements, the umbrella final agreement will prevail.
The agreement makes reference to a number of boards, some new and some that have been restructured. It outlines general procedures, including appointments and financing. The chapter on eligibility and enrollment defines who can benefit from the settlement agreements, as well as the enrollment procedures. In order to qualify as a settlement beneficiary, a person must have 25 percent or more Indian ancestry, and must have lived in the Yukon before 1940, or be a direct descendant of such persons.
Within two years of each First Nations final agreement, the enrollment commission may consider special circumstances under which a person who does not meet the nominal criteria may be enrolled.
No Yukon Indian person can benefit from more than one land claim in Canada. Any person who finds themselves enrolled under two settlements must select one or the other within 60 days.
A person who qualifies for settlement, but who is not a Canadian citizen, can still enroll, but is not entitled to any benefits under the Indian Act, nor to Canadian citizenship or special rights to enter Canada.
There are First Nation enrollment committees, and an enrollment commission, already in place to prepare the list of beneficiaries. The committees compile information on who is eligible and the commission reviews it. A decision of the enrollment commission is final subject to appeals to the courts if there has been an error in the law, jurisdiction, or a decision based on incorrect information.
Anyone who has the legal responsibility for an eligible adult or minor may apply on his or her behalf. Two years after the last First Nations final agreement, or no later than 12 years after settlement legislation, the enrollment commission and the enrollment committees will be disbanded. Thereafter, Yukon First Nations will maintain their enrollment lists, and a dispute resolution panel will deal with any disputes over enrollment.
Under the chapter on reserves and land set aside, Yukon First Nations can decide on whether they want to keep their existing reserves as reserves or as settlement land. There are six existing reserves in the Yukon. Two are in Teslin and Carcross, while the others are situated near Teslin, Whitehorse, Stewart Crossing and Dawson City.
In addition to these reserves, other lands have been set aside over the years throughout the Yukon for the use of Indian people for housing and other purposes. If the total amount of reserves and land set aside, retained as settlement land by all Yukon First Nations, is less than 60 square miles, Yukon First Nations will be able to select an additional amount of settlement lands up to 60 square miles in total.
How to allocate this additional amount of land has to be decided prior to the ratification of the UFA. Each Yukon First Nation final agreement will spell out how the Indian Act will apply to any reserves kept by the First Nation. If a Yukon First Nation can demonstrate the existence of a reserve, other than the eight known reserves, prior to its final agreement, they may be able to keep it as a reserve as well.
After a Yukon First Nation final agreement, unselected land set aside will not be kept set aside for the use of the band. The chapter on the tenure describes how settlement land will be owned and managed. There are three categories of settlement land.
On category A land Yukon First Nations will have the rights equivalent to fee simple title to the surface of the land and full fee simple title to the subsurface.
On category B lands, Yukon First Nations will have the rights equivalent to fee simple title to the surface.
Thirdly, there will be fee simple settlement land. This land will be basically the same fee simple title as is commonly held by individuals. Individual lots in subdivisions will likely be held in fee simple title.
What sets category A and category B lands apart from fee simple land is the fact that on these two categories of land Yukon First Nations will retain aboriginal title. The term equivalent to fee simple for the surface of category A and category B land was used to avoid distinguishing any aboriginal rights the Yukon First Nations may have. This retention of aboriginal title will not interfere with a Yukon First Nation leasing, granting of permit or even selling the land. If a Yukon First Nation wishes to sell the land, it will have to register its title in the Land Registry Office and at that time the title will be basically the same as an ordinary fee simple title in the Yukon.
On category A settlement land, people who are not beneficiaries will need permission to hunt, except in limited waterfront rights of way. Likewise, mining exploration companies will generally need permission to look for minerals. They will have to negotiate with the Yukon First Nations to develop any mines.
On category B lands, public access for non-commercial hunting will be permitted. Access to the subsurface for mining exploration and development will generally require the developer to negotiate an agreement on terms and conditions of access. If an agreement cannot be reached, a surface rights board will set the terms and conditions, which will include compensation for the access.
In order to allow for flexibility in the negotiation of the land claim selection, it has been agreed that the Yukon First Nations may select lands with certain existing third-party interests. The holder of an interest existing at the time the land becomes settlement land will continue to exercise their rights as if the land were Crown land.
Royalties collected by government from the production of minerals on category A land by a person or a company that has an existing right in the subsurface will be paid to the Yukon First Nation. On category B lands, or fee simple settlement lands, Yukon First Nations will receive the rent from existing surface leases of a holder of the mineral right. Government will have to disclose all of its interests in settlement land. If a government interest is not disclosed and is found after the land becomes settlement land, government may have the option to cancel its interest or to compensate the Yukon First Nation.
Chapter 6 of the UFA concerns access. It sets out the right of access of Yukon First Nations on Crown lands and the right of access of the public for commercial and non-commercial purposes, and of the government on settlement lands.
Yukon First Nations and Yukon Indians have the right of access without consent on all unoccupied Crown lands for non-commercial and commercial activities, provided the access has an insignificant impact on the land. Government also guarantees First Nations that it will not sell or lease Crown lands in such a way that the Yukon First Nations could not have access to their settlement lands.
Access by the public and the government to the settlement lands is governed by the following principles.
The public has no access to developed settlement lands unless the First Nation consents. On undeveloped settlement lands, access by the public to cross settlement lands for commercial and non-commercial purposes that will have an impact on the land will only be allowed if the access is necessary, if there is no alternative on Crown land, based upon terms and conditions, including compensation negotiated with the Yukon First Nation or, if no agreement can be reached, determined by the surface rights board.
Access to the public to cross settlement lands for commercial and non-commercial purposes that will have no or low impact on the land is allowed provided that there is no damage to the land.
Government may access the land for public purpose if it is for less than 120 days. For more than 120 days, the Yukon First Nation may negotiate with the government terms and conditions, including compensation. If no agreement is reached, the surface rights board will determine the terms and conditions.
The public will be able to use the 100 foot wide waterfront right-of-way on all navigable waters for emergency and recreational purposes, including sport fishing and hunting migratory birds.
The public can use all undeveloped settlement lands for casual and recreational purposes.
Chapter 7 deals with expropriation; it describes the conditions under which the settlement land may be expropriated. It also lays out the rules to be followed for expropriation for public purposes. The parties base this chapter on the principle that the settlement land is fundamental to the Yukon Indian people.
Governments should avoid expropriation whenever possible. If there are strong reasons for the use of expropriation then the chapter also ensures that the process addresses First Nations concerns. As much as possible other land is provided as part of the compensation.
Any agency that has the authority to expropriate must do the following, if settlement land is involved: attempt to negotiate an agreement for the use or the transfer of land with the Yukon First Nation,and if no agreement is reached, to hold public hearings so that all parties can be heard; get approval from either the federal Cabinet or the territorial government; or pay compensation as determined by the surface rights board. Compensation can include other land, if it is available.
The surface rights board may consider the impact of expropriation on the value of hunting, fishing and gathering when determining compensation. It also has to consider the effect on other settlement lands and any value associated with the cultural activities or sites.
The chapter provides greater certainty in determining what government land, or land owned by any expropriation agency, can be used as compensation. For example, government cannot use land under lease, for sale or occupied by a government agency to compensate a Yukon First Nation whose land has been expropriated.
Government may identify up to 10 sites for future hydro electric projects. If the flooding of those sites affect settlement lands, the government will pay compensation.
Chapter 8 establishes a surface rights board through ordinary legislation. The board will resolve disputes over the access to privately held land, including settlement land. It will also determine compensation for the expropriation of settlement lands.
The board will consist of up to 10 members, plus the chairperson, recommended by the board. The Council for Yukon Indians and the government will each nominate half of the members. Not all board members will hear each dispute. Instead, panels of three will hear evidence. A panel hearing a dispute that involves settlement land will include a member nominated by CYI. The board can grant entry orders, determine terms and conditions of access including fees, set compensation for damage caused by the access and determine compensation for expropriation of settlement land. Orders of the board must be consistent with the approved recommendations of the development assessment process. One member of the board can hear disputes if the parties agree. Orders of the board will be enforceable, as if they were orders of the Supreme Court of the Yukon.
The board can consider the impact on wildlife habitat and harvesting when determining compensation for Yukon First Nations.
Chapter 9 defines the amount of land the Yukon First Nations are to receive in a settlement. Yukon First Nations will have 16,000 square miles of settlement land. It will be divided into 10,000 square miles of category A land and 6,000 square miles of category B and fee simple settlement lands.
First Nations can select lands for a variety of reasons, such as hunting, fishing and trapping, historical and spiritual significance, economic potential, housing or occupancy and others. Land already held by third parties will not be available for selection, unless the third party agrees to the selection. The land occupied or used by the government is not available for selection.
Selections on both sides of the major highway or waterway will be avoided unless special circumstances warrant that exception. Land selection will be balanced in terms of the terrain and resource potential.
Chapter 10 deals with special management areas that concern important features of the Yukons natural and cultural environment. It explains how government will embrace the rights and interest of Yukon First Nations when it creates new parks, sanctuaries, wilderness or other special areas. It outlines how renewable resource councils and advisory bodies will be involved with planning and management.
The interests of First Nations in special management areas will be addressed in three ways. Interests in the existing sites can be met during First Nation final agreement negotiations. New areas may be set up through the First Nation final agreement negotiations. After land claims, a new area can be set up by government through the process outlined in this chapter.
Special management areas will not affect the harvesting rights of Yukon First Nations without their agreement. Renewable resource councils or other similar bodies will advise the government on the creation and management of such areas.
The First Nation final agreements may include special provisions for the management of national parks. If there is a chance First Nations rights might be affected by the setting up of a special management area, an agreement can be negotiated with the First Nation to address the impact. If an agreement cannot be reached, after referring the matter to mediation, the government can create a special management area. The First Nations harvesting rights will remain unaffected.
The establishment of special management areas must be consistent with the approved land use plans. The areas may be reviewed under the development assessment process.
Chapter 11 deals with the establishment of a land use planning process outside of communities. It includes strong public input so conflicts can be avoided or reduced between competing land users. It applies equally to the settlement land and non-settlement land. This chapter ensures Yukon Indian people will be represented on planning commissions with other residents.
The land use plans lay out the best use of the land, water or other renewable or non-renewable resources. The land use planning chapter recognizes Yukon First Nations role as major land owners in the Yukon territory. It also acknowledges the desire of the Yukon Indian people and other Yukoners to participate in deciding how all lands and resources should be used.
There will be a single land use planning process outside community boundaries and national parks. A three-person planning council, with the job of overseeing land use planning, will replace the existing policy advisory committee.
The planning council will make recommendations on overall planning policy and priorities, boundaries of planning areas and planning terms of reference. Regional planning commissions will develop plans and must ensure public input. They must also try to avoid land use conflicts and promote sustainable development. In doing this, the commissions have to have considerable knowledge and experience of the Yukon Indian people.
Yukon First Nations will approve and implement those sections of plans that deal with settlement lands. Government will approve the sections that deal with non-settlement lands. At least one-third of the planning commission members will be nominees of Yukon First Nations; however, Indian representation on planning commissions will reflect the population of the Indian people in each planning region. Up to two-thirds of the members could be nominated by a First Nation.
Local governments will continue to plan land use within community boundaries. Chapter 12 sets out the basic principles and components of a new development assessment process for the Yukon. Federal and territorial legislation will set up a new Yukon development assessment board. It will be responsible for reviewing major projects to see how they will affect the environment, economy and our society.
I have more comments to make, but I will let other Members speak at this point. I will enter the debate further on.
Ms. Joe: I would like to thank the Government Leader for his long explanation of the land claims process. I will reserve my comments, as others will, until third reading. I think these two bills are acceptable to everybody sitting in this House and a lot of work has happened since we introduced it in the House with the special committee that went out into the communities to hear what those more-than-300 people had to say. A lot of the questions were good, valid questions; a lot of people were still asking the same questions they were asking 20 years ago, but not for lack of people available to inform them over the years. As the Member knows, the Official Opposition Leader has done many tours of the Yukon throughout the years, informing people of the whole process and of the kind of things that have happened in regard to land selections and self-government. A great deal of information was already out, but people still had questions and those questions were, of course, answered either by the chair of the committee or the land claims person who was in attendance at the time. The process was a good one and I thank the House for appointing me as one of the members; it was very informative for me to find out how people felt after 20 years.
I will have no questions in regard to sections of the two bills. As I said, I am reserving my comments to third reading, but other Members on this side of the House do, I understand, have a couple of questions.
Mr. Penikett: Hay kaii choo - shilak.
I might, under different circumstances, have an awful lot to say about this legislation since a large chunk of my time over the last few years has been devoted to policy matters around these negotiations and occasionally, in an entirely unofficial way, the negotiations themselves. However, I think the legislation before us must be treated today as if it is a matter of some urgency as the imperatives of the federal government, the time table of the federal Parliament, the life, indeed, of the present administration in Ottawa, is running out and it is my view that we ought to, today, expedite this matter and provide speedy passage of these bills at third reading. So I will not speak at length about an issue on which I feel very deeply and very strongly, and which I am sure I feel about as strongly as do many of the participants, particularly the First Nation leadership. Indeed, I think all of us may come to look back on these negotiations over these many years as one of the great journeys of our lives.
Of course, I want to congratulate the First Nations - the Vuntut Gwichin, the Na-Cho Nyak Dun, the Champagne/Aishihik First Nation and the Teslin Tlingit. I also want to congratulate the Government Leader that, at a time when we are beginning to observe, we feel, the dismantling of so much good work that we have done over seven years, it is very pleasant to see legislation going forward that gives effect to agreements that were negotiated during our time in government. For that, I am very grateful.
I would like to ask a few very brief questions that have to do with where we go from here, following this legislation. Following the exchange on these questions, I will forego the opportunity to make lengthy comments at third reading.
Today, the Government Leader introduced a motion on the question of implementation funding. I have some deep concerns about the adequacy of the implementation funding for this government. Since it does not matter what you put into law, or even into the Constitution, the effectiveness of the instrument can be considerably muted if you do not have adequate resources.
Could the Government Leader briefly give this House a progress report on implementation funding negotiations. Following that, I will have a couple of general questions.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I thank the Member opposite for the question. I am happy to report to this House that progress is being made on implementation funding. My negotiators were in Ottawa last week. As the Member opposite knows, I wrote a letter to Minister Siddon, and he followed up with a letter that was cosigned by himself and the Member for Whitehorse Centre, stressing to the Minister the importance of providing adequate funding for the implementation of land claims. I believe a lot of the issues were resolved last week on implementation funding, and a lot of the barriers have been taken down. There are a few more issues still outstanding, but I believe they will be resolved in a matter of days and the implementation funding will be in place.
While we still would have liked to have had more, so we could do a better job of implementing the land claim, we feel that we can at least give it a good effort and make some progress on the implementation of it. As the Member is aware, some of the areas were looked at to go into renegotiations in four years with perhaps more funding coming forward, with the funding being readjusted in the fifth year. It appears now that we will be able to move that back at least one year and start the negotiations in the third year, with a readjusted funding process in the fourth year.
There has been some shifting of figures. The actual overall dollars are not going to be that much bigger, but there is going to be more up-front money.
Mr. Penikett: Rather than taking time today, I would like to serve notice to the Government Leader that I would like to have more detail on this when we get into the estimates for the Executive Council Office.
When we began to negotiate the self-government provisions some years ago, I would be betraying no secret to say that a number of the Members of the side opposite felt deeply uneasy about the notion of a third order of government in Canada and, indeed, I am not sure that everybody was equally enthusiastic about recognizing that the agreements that are negotiated here do establish the third order of government in legislation for the first time anywhere in Canada.
Could the Government Leader just briefly indicate to the House if his Cabinet and caucus are now fully reconciled to that reality.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I have no problem in telling the Member opposite that Cabinet and caucus are fully reconciled. I would just like to say to the Member opposite that the third level of government was a concern to many people, clean across Canada. I believe that was one of the reasons that the constitutional process - the Charlottetown Accord - was turned down across Canada. We in the Yukon accept that there is going to be a third level of government. I think it is incumbent on us, the leaders in the community, to see that it goes into effect in a rational and expedient manner and that we explain to all people in the Yukon what it means and how it will work.
The biggest fear in the community out there is that there is still a lot of uncertainty about how it will work. It is not so much that they are against it, but there is an uncertainty about how it will work.
Mr. Penikett: I appreciate the Government Leaders statement on that question just now. While this is a day for celebration and not for sentiment, refighting old battles or opening old wounds, I wonder if I could ask him if he would help me put to rest a statement that caused some considerable pain among Members in this House, especially on this side, and in the communities. I would not raise it except that it was reiterated in another form this morning. It was the statement by the former Yukon Party Opposition Leader that self-government was like apartheid; a view with which we took extreme exception and a view that has been reiterated recently by a prominent local figure in the news reports today. I wonder if the Government Leader would do everyone the service of officially repudiating that view on behalf of his party.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not believe that was the view of the Yukon Party. That was a statement that was made by a former Member of this House. It was probably based on his own opinion but certainly has never been a philosophy of the Yukon Party. I would just say to the Member opposite that the land claims negotiation started many, many years ago and was almost completed under a government, the predecessor of the Yukon Party. A Member who is sitting in the Legislature today was a chief negotiator on behalf of the territorial government. I do not ever believe that the Yukon Party or its predecessor ever had that position.
Mr. Penikett: The one other urgent matter is of course the intentions of the federal government. The Government Leader has also given notice of a motion on that subject to this House, but I do not doubt that he has had discussions with Mr. Siddon recently, whether it is about appointments to boards or other matters. Could I ask him if he has received any personal assurances from Mr. Siddon that this matter will be dealt with - in other words the Yukon land claims legislation - expeditiously. I would be more precise in asking if he has obtained an assurance that this issue will be dealt with before the national Conservative leadership convention in June. I ask the question in that form for the obvious reason, that there would be a new government sworn after that point; there may be new Ministers and we all know that old Ministers cannot commit new Ministers absolutely on matters about things like parliamentary business.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I can assure the Member opposite that several weeks ago at a principals meeting in Vancouver, which Ms. Gingell and I attended, along with the Minister, the Minister stated unequivocally that he wanted to see at least three, maybe four of these agreement ratified, but he wanted it done quickly so that he could get them to his Cabinet colleagues and get them on the calendar so that they could be dealt with prior to an election being called.
Mr. Penikett: I have a very general question but I hope the Government Leader will be able to answer it in the way in which it is asked. As we all know, this legislation gives effect to one agreement, but it is based really on the fact that there are four sets of agreements that have been negotiated. There are still at least 10 to go. I want to ask the Government Leader, out of an understanding that over the years there have been some very strong differences between different sides in this House on matters of land claims policy, if he could indicate to us whether there are any major or substantial policy changes coming in terms of the negotiating position of the territorial government at the table in respect to the negotiations with the First Nations who are about to begin to bargain with the two other governments?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Just prior to answering that question, I would like to ask the Committees indulgence to bring in my chief land claim negotiator, Mr. McTiernan, to provide advice to me on any technical questions that may arise.
Mr. Penikett: I have no objection but, for my part, it would not be necessary as I have only a couple more questions and they are of a similarly general nature to the one I have already asked; I am well acquainted with the kind of advice Mr. McTiernan might give, and I am actually more interested in the opinions of Mr. Ostashek at this point.
What I am asking is: is it the intention of the government to have any major changes in the negotiating mandate of YTG as it goes into negotiations with the next 10 bands? That is really the question.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I was not referring to the question the hon. Member opposite asked, but there may be other Members in the House who have some technical questions on which I would like to have the chief land claims negotiator here to be able to help me.
In reply to the hon. Members question, at this time, there is no different policy in place. We are negotiating under the terms of reference that have been set out under the umbrella final agreement and under the self-government agreements and we are continuing on that basis.
Mr. Penikett: One of the provisions of the agreements negotiated with Yukon First Nations provides that they shall have, for all time, the right to nominate - in effect to appoint - a quarter of the members of certain boards - among them the Yukon Development Corporation board. I would like to ask the Government Leader how they will accommodate that provision, given the stated intention of the government to abolish the board. I am, of course, mindful that different language was used by the Minister of Justice today in Question Period.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I am a little bewildered here - I do not believe it is the intention of this administration to abolish the board of the Yukon Development Corporation.
Mr. Penikett: I apologize, Mr. Chairman. I was depending on press reports that indicated in the swearing-in statement of the Government Leader that that was his intention. If that is not his intention, I am gratified to hear it.
Let me, then, just make one last comment: I have had the pleasure - I use the word challenge, at times - of having done many dozens of meetings in the communities, trying to explain the land claims and self-government agreements to the people, and I just want to say in closing that I am extremely envious of the Government Leader that he was able to persuade officials to answer most of the questions since, in going around, I got stuck doing that mostly myself, so it is a compliment to his skills that he was able to delegate so effectively on this occasion, whereas I was not.
Mr. Cable: During the hearings of the special committee, as we went around the various communities, it became apparent to me that many people - perhaps most people - did not have a working knowledge of the fundamentals of the claim. This disappointed me, but I suppose that as I had to start from scratch in dealing with a very complex document, it perhaps should not have surprised me.
In view of the fact that the success of the claims from the social contract aspect relies very heavily on people having a working knowledge of what is going on, has the government worked out a strategy to promote the claims among the people of the Yukon after these bills are passed, if in fact the House sees fit to pass them?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: It is my understanding that there will be a communication strategy that will be put together for the implementation plans, which will involve CYI as well as the territorial government, to communicate the different aspects of the implementation and how they work in relation to the rest of the community.
As well, for the Member opposite, I would like to say that while it may be boring for the Leader of the Official Opposition and some of the other Members of the House that I read certain sections of the UFA into the record, I believe, as you do, that there is great concern that there is not a great understanding of the process yet. I just want to take this opportunity in general debate to read this into the record. Maybe someone will pick it up and get a better understanding of the process. As we go along here, I have a few more pages I would like to read into the record, as well.
Mr. Cable: I have further questions of a rather minor nature. During the hearings, I asked the land claim officials whether or not a checklist would be prepared of things that had to be done. Not having a photographic memory and having pawed through these rather extensive agreements, I thought that would be some sort of an aide memoir for people who have to go out into the communities, such as Members of this House, officials of CYI and anyone else who is associated with acting as a salesperson for these claims. Has that as yet been produced? I am referring to a list of things to be done, the timetable by which they have to be done and by whom.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I have just been advised by my staff - he has been very busy going to Ottawa - that he assures me that this will be drawn up and finalized, and we hope we can have it to the Member tomorrow.
Mr. Penikett: I apologize to the Government Leader for going back to this, and I will table this, but I quote from a letter from him, dated January 20, which says, As promised within our four-year plan, our government made the commitment to eliminate the Yukon Development Corporation.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: There is no doubt that was one of the processes we were following. Since that time, we rethought the issue and feel we are going to restructure the Yukon Development Corporation and keep it in place. At the present time, the Minister is going to be coming forward with a plan to Cabinet for us to work on. As far as I know, at the present time, the Yukon Development Corporation will be kept in place to develop energy sources for the Yukon Energy Corporation.
Mrs. Firth: After these bills are passed, could the Government Leader tell us what the relationship is going to be between his government and the Council for Yukon Indians? Specifically, I heard the chair of the Council for Yukon Indians indicate that the whole Cabinet had gone over and met with the council. What kind of communication is going to carry on? Will the government be seeking advice from them, and what kind of cooperative relationship will they have, particularly with any new initiatives they plan on pursuing? Are they going to work with the Council for Yukon Indians in a cooperative manner?
What is the relationship of this government going to be with respect to the other First Nations and communities? Will they also be working in an advisory capacity with them?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: This administration has been trying to keep lines of communication open with the Council for Yukon Indians and the different First Nations organizations. We try to meet with them on a regular basis when we are in the communities. We had a very open and frank discussion with almost all the 14 chiefs - at least with representatives of the bands - when we met with council a few weeks ago. I thought it was a very healthy exchange. It was informal; everyone could speak; everyone had the opportunity to speak. We had no officials in the room. I think both the First Nations people and ourselves found it a very useful exercise. I gave a commitment to the chair of the CYI that I would like to see this happen not on a regularly scheduled basis, but on a fairly regular basis, such as every two or three months.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask the Government Leader what particular initiatives he is taking to repair the damages that have been caused in the relationship between his government and the Council for Yukon Indians and the First Nations people over the Taga Ku project? Is he taking any special initiatives to mend the relationship? Specifically, is any one of his Cabinet members going to be designated as a particular liaison person with the Council for Yukon Indians, or is he going to continue in this capacity himself?
I think it is very important that the government works immediately on rebuilding that relationship, so that there is a mutual trust between the two levels of government.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I believe the Member opposite is a little behind the times. We have been working on that all winter - to keep lines of communication open and to build up a mutual trust with the First Nations people.
The Taga Ku situation was an unfortunate situation, but that is behind us.
We are now working on the land claims process. I talk to Ms. Gingell on a fairly regular basis on the telephone - I call her or she calls me, and I will continue to do that.
My Ministers deal with the First Nations people in the same manner. We are trying to build up a very strong working relationship with these people.
Mr. Millar: I was a member of the Special Committee on Land Claims as well. As a new person in the Legislature, it was a very interesting experience for me. The concerns that are out in the general population of the Yukon have been talked about today. I have to be honest with you; I did have some concerns about the land claims and what was happening there.
For me, personally, being a member of this committee was a positive experience. I was able to learn a lot about what happened in the past and the likely direction that this is going to take in the future.
It was mentioned earlier today that it is a very complicated deal for the new people in the House. It is a very complicated deal. I think it goes beyond that. I think that there has been a great deal of effort to get the word out to the people in the communities and around the Yukon. I think that more work still has to be done in that area.
One of the questions that was asked when we were out there was, why are you constantly sending committees around to talk to us? The people that I saw at most of these committee meetings were very heavily involved with the negotiations and already knew a lot about what was going on.
I think we have to find a way to get the word out to the general population and let the people know what is going on. I do not believe that it is a bad deal for anybody. I think that it is probably a good deal for everyone in the Yukon. The message that came to me fairly loudly and clearly is that everyone, both native and non-native people, want to get on to the next stage of negotiations and get past where we are right now.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I would like to reiterate Davids comments. Both David and I are new to the Legislature and it was a learning experience for me, as it was for David. I travelled to Beaver Creek, Destruction Bay, Burwash, Haines Junction and Whitehorse with the Special Committee on Land Claims. Because the White River band is quite new to the whole land claim process, the questions at Beaver Creek were actually very, very good, and probably more the type of questions you would hear on the street in downtown Whitehorse. They were interested in knowing whether they could go fishing here or go fishing there, or if they could still hunt in this area and that area.
In Destruction Bay, there were only two people at the meeting. One of the people at the meeting started it with the comment that all lawyers are crooked - I very quickly agreed with him - and then we went on to Haines Junction, where there was probably the biggest crowd of all of the meetings, and there were no questions. I think a government employee, if I remember correctly, felt sorry for us all sitting up there so he asked a question - and we did not know the answer - so that was pretty well the end of it. Whitehorse was interesting, to say the least, and there were some very, very good questions.
Then, Mr. Ostashek had to go to Faro for a meeting so he said, Mickey, would you mind chairing the meeting at Carcross?, and I said, Sure, that is not difficult; I have been to about five meetings and that should be no problem at all. Sure I will do that. So, I went to Carcross. On the way down there - Mr. Cable and Mr. Millar were riding with me in the car - and it suddenly dawned on me, I am going to Carcross; there is going to be trouble. So I would just like to read a little bit out of the report on the special committee.
I made a few introductory statements in Carcross and turned things over to Mr. McTiernan who did a very good job of giving an overview of the land claim. Then I thanked Tim and said to the public, Again, I remind you that if you have any questions please identify yourself for the record. From that point on, things got worse.
Mr. Howard Carvill: We would like to know who is running this meeting.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am chairing it and your questions will probably be referred to Tim or Karyn.
Mr. Howard Carvill: Where is your fearless leader?
And it went on and on. Later on in the meeting - and I am fighting for my life here:
To answer to your first question, Stanley, yes, we do believe in a land claim final agreement, and we believe in the self-government agreement. It was introduced in the Legislature and received agreement in principle in December of last year. What the Legislature mandated us to do was to go around the territory and just listen to people - Indian, non-Indian, anyone who cared to voice their concerns, or complain, or whatever - about the land claim and self-government agreements. I believe that is what we are doing. The committee, as you can see, is non-partisan and is made up of all parties. I am not sure that your statement is totally fair, but we are out to listen to all people.
Mr. Stanley James: That is my problem. I cannot see why you have come out with the committee when you could stand up and say, we as the Government of Yukon disagree with land claims - period - instead of using this process to go around and our people becoming involved in all the 14 different communities just to voice something. Then you will bring up later on this spring that there are 10 out of the 14 communities that reject the land claims agreement and the self-government agreement.
Again, my reply: I cannot say that this would happen at all. You are second-guessing what people will be telling us and, in fact, they are not telling us that at all. People do believe in the land claims, as we do, as the Government of Yukon - not just the government in power, but the Official Opposition and the Opposition Members.
It got worse and it got worse. One of the Members, I guess, took pity on me. I had dealt with this particular person a lot in the past; he called me by name. This seemed to break the ice a little bit and it got better.
At one point in time, there was a legal question. I leaned over to Mr. Cable and asked him to answer it. He told me he would break my fingers if I mentioned it.
Anyway, even though the meeting went from bad to worse and then got better again, I think it was very good for some of the people there. I know it was good for us, because we did learn a different viewpoint. I am very proud to have been part of that whole process.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I want to make a few comments at this stage in the proceedings. I intend to have a great deal more to say in third reading. I think it is important that people get their thoughts and feelings on the record for the very historic passage of these very important bills.
I know that there is some eagerness to see these bills passed into law; I share that sentiment. At the same time, there is no question that these are extremely important pieces of legislation; they are fundamental to our future. They form a very solid social and economic contract between the First Nations and others in the territory. I know that people in the Yukon do expect us to have at least a few words to say in view of the extreme and weighty importance of this social contract. However, I will say more about that aspect of things in third reading.
I did feel compelled to say a few words. I was perhaps prodded a bit by the words of the hon. Member for Laberge, who mentioned something about lawyers being crooked and his agreeing with that sentiment. I think there are three of us now in this House who share the double burden of being both lawyers and politicians. No one likes politicians either, in case anyone was wondering. Some of us have the distinction of providing two reasons for people to despise us, I guess. Of course, we also try to find other reasons as well, but that is of our own doing.
The Member for Laberge mentioned the meeting he chaired in Carcross. I have to leap to the defence of that community, as I consider it my home town. There is no question that it is a town of people who revel in public meetings and enjoy it when people come from other parts of the territory, and particularly from Whitehorse, to tell them what they should do, how they should do it and when. Generally, they have some fairly strong words for those who would take that position.
I think people have learned. Over the course of the past number of years, we have seen the establishment of a form of local government in the Carcross land use planning committee. The First Nation has been very active in putting its concerns forward. Government, in a trend, is becoming more and more interested in following community initiatives, rather than telling communities what their initiatives ought to be. That is certainly a trend that we intend to encourage and enhance to every degree possible. In my view, there is no question but that land claims social contracts will go a long way toward ensuring that does happen in the future.
In land claims are set out numerous safeguards and processes that will serve to ensure that the voice of people in the regions and the local areas of the Yukon must be listened to and, in many cases, will have to be taken into account and acted upon. That is one of the more salutary aspects of the agreements that we are here to discuss in this legislation.
I was pleased to see this government carry on with essentially the same committee and process that was established by the previous government and the previous Legislature. I was particularly gratified to see that things have proceeded as smoothly as they have. The feedback I get, and from reading the record in the committee report - the Hansard - contained therein, is that it would seem to me that there was very little opposition or confusion to the basic elements these agreements address.
In my view, there always has been a tremendous feeling that Indian people have grievances that have to be dealt with, and this is the way to deal with them in this form of negotiation, no matter how long, cumbersome and expensive the negotiations have been. It is gratifying for me to see the public of the Yukon accepting the result of these negotiations in the manner we have seen displayed in the communities, and the way in which the public has reacted at the public meetings.
I was interested in the comments of some of the Members on the committee as to their feelings about how it went. They said they learned a lot in the process about the concerns of people, and about some answers to some of the basic concerns. I think the entire exercise was indeed very worthwhile.
Those are the only comments I wish to make at this time. Certainly, I will have a good deal more to say when we move into the third reading of these important bills.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I would just like to follow up on my overview of the land claims process. I think it is very important that it be said again in this House during general debate. I see the television cameras are here and media is here and anything that is said that will help explain the land claims process, I believe is to the benefit of all Yukoners, so I just ask that the Committee bear with me while I continue with the overview of the land claims process. I was speaking of the development assessment process in chapter 12 and the basic principles and components. As I said, the territorial and federal governments will set up a new development assessment board that would be responsible for reviewing the major projects to see how they affect the environment, the economy and our society. This process will guarantee the participation of Yukon First Nations and provide for public involvement in the review of projects.
Through its activities with the First Nations and with public input, the board will ensure sustainable development of the territorys natural resources. Half of the seats on the Yukon development assessment board will go to First Nations nominees. The board will make recommendations to the government and the First Nations on projects with impacts on settlement and non-settlement lands. The governments and Yukon First Nations will approve projects on non-settlement lands and settlement lands using their respective land and resource management authorities. The process will cover all development projects in the Yukon. There will be different levels of review for different sizes or different types of projects. Most of the projects, those with no significant social or environmental effects, will not be required to undergo detailed reviews. Minor projects can be reviewed and approved locally. Special panels may review larger projects. The new process provides for a much stronger role for community involvement. Details will be set outlining the Yukon First Nation final agreements, and in legislation. The public will be able to participate in the project reviews done by the Yukon development assessment board.
Chapter 13 establishes how Yukon Indian people will participate in the management of heritage resources in the Yukon and how the heritage resources of the Yukon Indian people will be owned and managed.
In management and interpretation of the heritage resources of the Yukon, attention must be given to the cultural knowledge, values and traditional languages of the Yukon Indian people. A 10-member Yukon heritage resource board, to which First Nations will nominate five members, will be set up to advise on the management of non-documentary heritage resources, the use of traditional Indian knowledge and heritage management, methods by which Indian languages can be preserved, a strategic plan for heritage management in the Yukon, and an inventory of Yukon heritage objects.
Yukon First Nations will own and manage all heritage resources found on its settlement lands. It will also own objects relating to its history and culture found off settlement lands within its traditional territory.
Governments will own and manage all heritage resources that are found off settlement lands that do not originate with the Yukon Indian people.
The government will distribute program resources to manage heritage resources of both native and non-native people on a fair basis. Government will cooperate with the Yukon First Nations in the management of heritage resources and in the preparation of displays in the Yukon, particularly those related to the Yukon Indian people.
Governments shall consult with Yukon First Nations when developing heritage legislation and related policies.
Yukon First Nation burial sites will receive special protection.
A Yukon geographic names board will advise on naming and renaming features in the Yukon. This board will have 50 percent nominees of the Yukon First Nations as members.
Chapter 14 concerns water management. It outlines the rights of the Yukon First Nations and the Yukon Indian people to use and protect the use of water. It also explains how other people who need to use water on settlement land will be provided for. This chapter details new rules the Yukon Territorial Water Board will have to follow in deciding on water licences that might affect Yukon First Nations rights. Indian people will sit on this board. The objective of this chapter is to balance the desire to maintain the Yukons water in a natural condition with the desire to use the water wisely. This chapter also recognizes the cultural, spiritual and traditional importance of water to the Yukon Indian people and other Yukoners.
Yukon First Nations will nominate one-third of the Yukon Territorial Water Boards members. The water board can resolve water-use disputes. Yukon Indian people will have the right to use water without a licence for traditional purposes.
Subject to other provisions of the chapter, Yukon First Nations will have the exclusive right to use water while it is on or flowing through settlement land. Other people with a legal interest in the settlement land, and who need to use water, will be able to do so. They will have to follow the general laws.
The chapter protects existing water licences on settlement lands. The Yukon First Nations have a right to compensation for losses or damages to settlement land suffered as a result of new or changed water licences. This chapter does not affect the rights of domestic water users.
The government continues to be responsible for the management of water throughout the Yukon. The government is committed to negotiating water management agreements with neighbouring jurisdictions in consultation with Yukon First Nations.
Chapter 15 deals with the boundaries and measurements and how settlement lands will be surveyed. Initial costs will be paid for by the federal government. Within one month of signing each of the Yukon First Nations final agreements, settlement land claims committees will be set up. These committees will advise the government and First Nations on the priorities for surveying settlement land. The committees will be disbanded once the surveys are completed.
The Surveyor General will determine the survey standards, statutory responsibilities and definitions of boundaries. Indian people can use settlement land if a survey plan has not yet been completed. Qualified Yukon Indian people and Yukon First Nations businesses will be given first consideration for any employment or economic opportunities arising from settlement land surveys.
The proposed site specific concept protects aboriginal title on specific land sites, if its exact location is not known. Further, it enables the site to be identified at a further date. Special management areas may be described or depicted by map notations at the Surveyor Generals discretion. The chairperson appointed by the Surveyor General, and no more than two representatives from a Yukon First Nation, will make up each settlement land committee.
These committees will determine priorities for all settlement land surveys. Disputes over survey priorities and boundaries that cannot be settled by the committees may be referred to the dispute resolution process.
Chapter 16 addresses the management, use and conservation of fish and wildlife populations in the Yukon. It provides for greater public and local community involvement. The priority of the agreement on both settlement and non-settlement land is the conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitats. This chapter lays out the rights of the Yukon First Nations and the Yukon Indian people to use fish and wildlife and to participate in their management. A territory-wide fish and wildlife management board, to advise on aspects of Ifish and wildlife management, will be set up according to this chapter. A subcommittee to advise on salmon will be part of the board. Community-based renewable resource councils will be set up for each First Nations traditional territory.
There will be equal representation from the First Nations and government. The board and councils will provide recommendations on the management and use of wildlife, while the subcommittee will provide recommendations related to salmon.
Renewable resource councils will have the responsibility for local renewable resource management, including the development of certain fish and wildlife management plans and bylaws for furbearer management. The Yukon Indian people will have the right to harvest fish and wildlife, subject to conservation, public health and public safety factors. Subsistence hunting can take place in their traditional territory and, with the consent of another First Nation, in its traditional territory.
Management plans developed by the board, the councils and the subcommittee will determine how certain species and populations will be managed and harvested. These plans will also allocate and determine the total allowable harvest on both settlement and non-settlement lands.
Negotiations will set out the basic-need harvest levels for important fish and wildlife species. These levels may be used when population levels demand hunting limits as part of the conservation measures.
Renewable resource councils will give input on furbearer trapline management. About 70 percent of the Yukon traplines would be allocated to Yukon Indian people.
The Migratory Birds Convention Act, the Pacific salmon treaty and Porcupine caribou management agreement will apply to the Yukon First Nations. The Ministers ultimate responsibility for fish and wildlife is recognized. The salmon subcommittee will include the First Nations nominees from the three major drainage basins - the Yukon, the Alsek and the Porcupine. Overall representation will remain at 50 percent.
Yukon Indian people will receive 26 percent of the total number of Yukon commercial salmon fishing licences.
Chapter 17 recognizes First Nation ownership of forest resources on settlement land, including the First Nations ability to manage, allocate and protect these resources. Resource management will be integrated and will include community involvement. The chapter includes all flora, not just trees. Sustainable use and integrated management will be key elements of forest management.
Government and First Nations will jointly develop management plans. Renewable resource councils will provide recommendations to government and First Nations on forest resource management.
The First Nations can cut a maximum 500 cubic metres of wood a year for community use on Crown land without charge.
Yukon Indian people have the right to harvest forest resources on Crown land at no cost if the use is connected with hunting, trapping, fishing, handicraft production of the practice of traditional customs and culture.
Government will consult with Indian bands on general priorities for fighting forest fires on settlement land and adjacent non-settlement land.
Government shall fight forest fires on settlement land for five years after the first final agreement under the same rules as the government uses to decide which fires are fought on Crown land. Current commercial timber holders are entitled to exercise all rights within their permit areas on settlement land. Forest management and protection must be consistent with approved land use plans and the chapter on development assessment.
Chapter 18 on non-renewable resources is new to the agreement. However, the 1988 agreement in principle contains some of its provisions in the access and tenure subagreements. It is designed to collect together the provisions dealing with non-renewable resources, new and existing third-party interests and questions of ownership of specified substances are dealt with in the tenure chapter.
The First Nations will be able to use all the specified substances found on settlement lands and collect all the royalties from other users. Specified substances include sand, gravel, construction and carving stone and some other materials. When there is a conflict between the use of a specified substance by the Yukon First Nation and the mining of minerals in a mining operation, the dispute will be referred to the surface rights board.
Government will try to locate quarries away from settlement land. Where the government has not been able to identify all the quarries required for public purposes before a First Nation final agreement, up to two years will be provided for identifying the rest of the quarries.
Anyone who has a mineral right existing at the time the land becomes settlement land will have access on or across settlement land to get to the resource, providing that the access has low impact on the land or is on an existing route. If the access imposes significant impact or if there is a change of the route, the developer will have to negotiate terms and conditions with the Yukon First Nation. If no agreement can be reached, the surface rights board will establish the terms and conditions.
Anyone who has a new mineral right in category B lands has access to settlement lands without permission of the First Nation, provided that the access has low impact on the land or is on an existing route. If access affects the land or there is a change of the route, the miner would have to negotiate the terms and conditions with the Yukon First Nation, including compensation. If no agreement can be reached, the surface rights board will determine the terms and conditions and the compensation.
Certain matters identified in this agreement will be referred to a dispute resolution panel. Chapter 26 describes the panel, the procedures to be used to resolve disputes, and the powers of the panel. The dispute resolution process is designed to avoid complex and costly legal battles in the courts. It can accommodate a wide range of matters. The parties will jointly appoint a dispute resolution board of three members. The board will ensure that there are enough trained mediators and arbitrators to serve the process. Third parties can be represented in this process if their interests are affected.
After consultation with the parties to the agreement, the board will be able to set rules of procedure for arbitration. The settlement agreement will specifically refer some matters to the dispute resolution process. The parties may mutually agree to refer anything else to dispute resolution.
The dispute resolution process is a two-stage process. The first stage is mediation. The second stage is binding arbitration. Some disputes will only go through mediation. Others will go through both stages. The chapter makes provisions for limited judicial review of a decision from the dispute resolution process.
Chapter 27 concerns the Fish and Wildlife Enhancement Trust, in keeping with the spirit of the fish and wildlife chapter, and recognizes the importance of these resources to all Yukoners. The parties will start a trust fund for fish and wildlife enhancement. The trust fund can also be used to enhance, restore and protect habitat. Each of the three parties will make an initial contribution of $1 million to the Fish and Wildlife Enhancement Trust. This $3 million fund will be used to increase and rebuild fish and wildlife populations in the Yukon.
The Fish and Wildlife Management Board will serve as a trustee for the fund. It can initiate, sponsor, fund directly or carry out activities aimed at meeting this chapters objectives. Individuals and organizations can make tax deductible donations to the fund. The board can use the trust fund to meet the objectives of fish and wildlife enhancement. Reasonable administration costs can be met, too. The trust shall not duplicate, or take the place of any government expenditures.
Chapter 28 provides the ways and means of developing implementation plans for the umbrella final agreement and each First Nation final agreement. It also will make possible training for Indian peoples so that they can take full advantage of the opportunities arising from the settlement. The three parties will jointly develop implementation plans for the umbrella final agreement, and each First Nation final agreement.
Training plans will be developed by a training committee. The training committee will act as the trustee body for the training trust. The committee will have three members appointed by the Council for Yukon Indians, one from the Yukon government and one from the federal government.
The federal government will finance a $500,000 implementation planning fund as soon as possible after the settlement legislation is passed. It will be administered by the Council for Yukon Indians. The money will be used to pay for Yukon First Nation involvement in implementation planning.
The federal government will provide $4 million for implementation as soon as possible after it passes settlement legislation. The money will be used to help Yukon First Nations set up administrative structures to meet their land claims responsibilities. It will also help Indian people to take full advantage of economic and other opportunities arising from settlement agreements.
The Yukon and federal governments will each provide $3.25 million for a newly formed training trust fund. The trust will be set up to advance the training of the Yukon Indian people. The Yukon and federal governments identified $6.5 million for this fund in November of 1988. The trust will be set up as a charitable organization that can issue receipts to anyone making a contribution. The training committee will have three members appointed by the Council for Yukon Indians, one from the Yukon government and one from the federal government.
The governments are committed to funding the trust as soon as possible after the settlement legislation but, recognizing the importance of training, will try to provide the funds sooner.
That is an overview of the land claim settlements. I know it is far from the length of the 400-odd-page document. I hope it will help some Yukoners to understand the process.
Hon. Mr. Devries: I was also a Member of the select committee, and I had the privilege of travelling to Haines Junction. I also went to the meeting in Whitehorse, and I chaired the meetings in Ross River and Faro. They were interesting meetings. Just from the meetings I went to, Whitehorse versus Ross River and Faro, there seemed to be several different questions. There were not huge turnouts, and I had expected a big turnout in Faro. When I had been there a couple of weeks earlier, there had been a huge turnout, only it was on a different subject.
There were some very important issues brought up in Faro, mostly pertaining to land. At the Watson Lake meeting, it was a much more focussed meeting than the one that Mr. Penikett had gone to the year before. One of my supporters decided to stay home at that particular meeting, and I am sure the Member for Whitehorse West remembers the meeting in Watson Lake about a year prior to that, which was an interesting meeting, nonetheless.
At Upper Liard, there were quite a few questions, and there seems to be some concern by the Kaska Nation about where the claim is going. They are not very well-informed on where we are at this point. It is safe to say that we still have a long way to go in resolving land claims with the Kaska Nation - everything from transboundary to forestry. They have a lot of questions, and they have not been kept informed on where it is at.
With the new leadership that is down there, we hope their people will be more fully informed on what is really going on.
Overall, the general consensus was that the majority of the people support this legislation and want us to get on with it.
Mr. Joe: I think the speaking order is out of order. I hear too many questions being asked. I thought we were supposed to be doing general debate on land claims. My support has to be straightforward.
I would like to thank the chiefs of the First Nations who struggled for so many years to make it possible for this land claim bill to be before us today. I would also like to thank the negotiators for the long hours, dedication and commitments so that this land claim bill could be before us today.
We have all been waiting for these days to arrive. We have worked long and hard for this agreement. It is very important for all the people of the Yukon to work together as we head into implementation.
It is going to be a long, hard road for the people involved. I hope that this government will enter this negotiation in good faith, creating a positive working environment. It will be an opportunity for them to show the people of the Yukon just how strongly they believe in the principles we have here before us.
In conclusion, I would like to mention someone. Someone mentioned my greatest friend, Elijah Smith, the one who started all this. Right from the beginning, I was involved, too.
I would like to see this agreement supported strongly by both governments.
When I think back sometimes, I think about my old friend Elijah Smith. It is sad that he is not here with us, but his spirit is going to be here with us, especially to encourage the younger generation to be like him. I want you to keep in mind how my friend used to be a powerful man. Now he is gone. You have to take over. What we are talking about here in this land claim is your future.
That is all I have to say, thank you.
Chair: Question has been called. Does clause 1 carry?
Clause 1 agreed to
On Clause 1
Clause 2 agreed to
On Clause 3
Clause 3 agreed to
On Clause 4
Clause 4 agreed to
On Clause 5
Clause 5 agreed to
On Clause 6
Clause 6 agreed to
On Clause 7
Clause 7 agreed to
On Clause 8
Clause 8 agreed to
Title agreed to
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I move that you report Bill No. 2, entitled An Act Approving Yukon Land Claim Final Agreements, without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 3 - First Nations Yukon Self-Government Act
Chair: Bill No. 3, entitled First Nations Yukon Self-Government Act. Is there any general debate?
Mr. Penikett: I would move that it be deemed to be read.
Chair: Is there unanimous consent?
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: Unanimous consent has been granted and the bill is deemed to be read and carried.
Title agreed to
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I move that you report Bill No. 3, entitled First Nations Yukon Self-Government Act, without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. May the House have the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Abel: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 2, entitled An Act Approving the Yukon Land Claim Final Agreements, and Bill No. 3, entitled First Nations Yukon Self-Government Act, and directed me to report them without amendment.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Bill No. 2: Third Reading
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 2, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Ostashek.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I move that Bill No. 2, entitled An Act Approving the Yukon Land Claim Final Agreements, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Government Leader that Bill No. 2, entitled An Act Approving the Yukon Land Claim Final Agreements, 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. 3: Third Reading
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 3, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Ostashek.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I move that Bill No. 3, entitled First Nations Yukon Self-Government Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Government Leader that Bill No. 3, entitled First Nations Yukon Self-Government Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We are a little green on this side of the House yet. We wanted to speak to Bill No. 2, but they are both the same bill, so it really does not matter.
Historic legislation, such as is in front of this House today, should be spoken to by most Members of the House. We have a speaking list of all the Members of the House. I will not be too long in my opening statements on third reading. I will catch up when I speak to the bill in closing.
I have a few comments to make on my history with the land claims process.
I came to the Yukon in 1972 when the process was just beginning and Elijah Smith was travelling from community to community drumming up support for his dream of the future of the Yukon and putting together his document, Together Today For Our Children Tomorrow.
I am sure when Elijah Smith and the other First Nations people who gathered together to start the land claims process, they never, never would have thought that the process would have carried on for 20 years and still not be resolved. It is hoped that we are coming to the end of that journey. As the Hon. Member for Tatchun said, some of those people have left us now. They are not here to see the final enactment of what they started 20 years ago. I am saddened by that. Elijah was a very dear friend of mine. I sold him a few horses over the years and he was always a horse trader, a gentleman, and someone I always enjoyed visiting with.
Many years agi, I had the honour of being able to purchase a hunting area that was operated for many years by one of the other proponents of the land claims process, Mr. Joe Jacquot from Burwash - another one who is no longer with us. The late Johnny Johns, who was a dear friend of Mr. Phelps, the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes, is also no longer with us, but these people made their commitment to the land claims process. They put in motion a process that could not be stopped and a process that will be finalized in the very near future, not any too soon, from my point of view.
I believe the Yukon will prosper with the settlement of the Yukon native land claims. It will give First Nations people economic opportunity. It will give them the ability to make their own decisions and to take their people in the direction in which they wish to go. I believe all people in the Yukon will prosper from the finalization of the land claims process.
I am very, very honoured to be able to participate in that process. Many of the First Nations people, over the years, worked for me and with me; many are the times that we sat around the campfire and discussed the ongoing process of the Yukon Indian land claim. I believe that Yukon communities will be much healthier. People will learn to work together. They will understand each others traditions more so than they do today. It is already happening in the outlying communities, where people have worked together and lived side by side for many, many years.
As the monies from the land claims start to flow, these communities will be able to put their economic plans in order and will be able to do what they wish to do to create employment for their peoples.
As I said, I will not speak too long in my opening comments on this. I will have the opportunity to speak again in closing debate and I will make further comments at that time.
Ms. Joe: I was about to get up during the Committee of the Whole because so many things were being said at that time and I thought I might miss this opportunity to speak. First of all, I would like to welcome the many First Nations people who are here today to witness this very important event that is happening in this House. It is evidence of the kind of wishes they have had over the years and the great deal of difficulties a lot of them have seen in reaching this action here today.
Today, we are dealing with two bills - the first one is an act approving Indian land claims final agreement and second, Yukon First Nations self-government. As mentioned in the report of the special committee on land claims and self-government, Bill No. 2 is the Yukon land claim final agreement between the Government of Canada, the Government of Yukon and the Champagne/ Aishihik First Nations, ratified by that First Nation in September of 1992 - of which I was a witness. Bill No. 3 is the Yukon First Nations self-government agreement between the Government of Canada, the Government of Yukon and the Champagne/Aishihik First Nations ratified on September 15. As we all know, these bills were tabled in this House on December 14. On that same day, the Special Committee on Land Claims and Self-Government was created. My colleague, the Member for Mayo-Tatchun, and I were appointed to sit as members of that committee.
We heard a lot of Members in this House who were on that committee talk about their experiences; indeed, it was an experience for me to sit there with people of other political stripes, because I am a very dedicated New Democrat and it was an opportunity at least to get to know some of the other people on the committee. I had a great deal of fun listening to the Member for Laberge talking about our experiences in Carcross. I knew what to expect when we got there, but I did not realize it was going to be as interesting as it was.
The questions were many. A lot of people wanted more information. A lot of people wondered why the whole process had taken so long. One of the things that was very interesting was that some people asked if certain things could be changed in the bills. We hoped that that would not be the case and certainly it has not. The New Democratic Party has always supported the concept of a land claims settlement and self-government for First Nations. Some Members here today will remember a motion introduced in this House in December 1991 by the Member for Tatchun that read:
THAT this House supports the principle of self-government for First Nations.
He talked about the ability of First Nations to govern themselves and he said they knew the right things to do and what was wrong and what things were done well and they knew how to treat people with respect and how to heal people and how to make wise decisions regarding the future of his people. He talked about the much larger world we live in now and how we must all work and live together. He talked about a different set of values and principles that we must abide by and that they were handed down to us by our ancestors. He made the statement that we must have the right and ability to practice them once again.
In that same motion, Norma Kassi, the former Member for Old Crow - now the Vuntut Gwichin riding - said self-government is not a big, mysterious monster that needs to be defined to its every detail every time one turns around. Simply put, it means our people are standing up for themselves. It is our people governing themselves according to the laws established centuries ago, passed down for the people to follow, based on our spiritual connections, based on natural law.
They each spoke at great length about the right of First Nations people to govern themselves according to what they were taught by their elders.
Self-government may come in different ways according to the wishes of each First Nation, but the ability to govern themselves is of the utmost importance. The road to land claims and self-government has been long and hard. I know because I once was a small part of that process.
Some people in the audience will recall my involvement with the Yukon Association of Non-Status Indians. At the time, we realized that the Indian Act was created to assimilate the aboriginal people into the mainstream of society and that within a few decades - if the plan of the Indian department worked - there would be no more Indians, according to their act.
But it is evident here today by the number of aboriginal people in the audience and the three of us sitting here in the House, that their plan did not work. As you know, for many years, the aboriginal peoples of this country have suffered under the rule of the Indian Act. No other race of people in Canada has been subjected to a piece of legislation that puts them under the total control of a department governed by Canada. The Indian Act has brought nothing but destruction, pain, anger and helplessness to the aboriginal people in Canada. Indian agents, some good and some bad, decided what was best for aboriginal people. Can you imagine how degrading that is? Can you imagine being told that you had to send your children away to residential schools, sometimes never to see them for years, sometimes never to see them again? Can you imagine being told that you could not speak your own native language, and if you did you would be severely punished for it? Can you imagine being told that if you wanted to join the Armed Forces and fight to defend Canada in a war, you had to forfeit your Indian status first? Can you imagine what it was like not being allowed to vote, not being able to voice an opinion or support a candidate to represent you in the legislatures of this country, or even in the Parliament of Canada? Can you imagine being told you cannot practice your religion, hold potlatches, have sweatlodges or pass hundreds of years of tradition and culture on to your children? Can you imagine being adults but being treated like children who cannot make their own decisions? An aboriginal man or woman could not set their own goals, have their own dreams, make their own decisions as to where to live, how to educate their children, and what traditions they wanted to hand down to their own families.
The aboriginal people could not send their children to public schools unless they gave up their status. They could not own a business, eat in certain restaurants or drink in public bars. I believe that unless you are an aboriginal person, you cannot relate to the degradation and injustice we felt, and continue to feel.
I know a lot of people here may say that was all in the past and that mistakes were made, but they were only doing what was best for those people. I read this, because this is part of a speech that I made in the last session. It still stands today. What I want to talk about here is the difficult time the First Nations of the Yukon had in trying to come to some agreement for land claims and the many roadblocks that were put in their way.
The Yukon Association of Non-status Indians, very early on in the 1970s, organized for many reasons. Our main objective was to be recognized, especially to work toward the rights and claims of aboriginal people in the Yukon. One of the difficulties was that, according to the Indian Act, there was a message there to divide the aboriginal people of Canada. It was done through the discriminatory sections of the Indian Act. Early on in the days, there was division in the families. There were people who, at the time, were entitled to a land claim in the territory and there were people who were convinced that they had given up that right.
Why I mention that today is to talk about the work that went into trying to settle a difference that was created by Indian Affairs. Half of the aboriginal people in the Yukon who might not have been entitled to a land claims settlement and might not have been able to participate in self-government are now given that opportunity only through the hard work of the many people who are sitting in the stands today.
I can remember sitting - or standing most of the time - at confrontations between some of the people who said that we did not have a claim, when there were many people who believed sincerely that their sister, brother, mother or father should be a part of the land claims settlement in the Yukon.
The aboriginal people of the Yukon, the Yukon Native Brotherhood and the Yukon Association of Non-Status Indians persevered. All people who were of Yukon Indian ancestry became part of the land claims process, and the Yukon Association of Non-Status Indians was no longer needed. That was a victory in the Yukon. It was a victory in the Yukon and nowhere else in Canada, where the non-status Indians have been accepted by all people and where there is an amalgamation of the Council for Yukon Indians and we can see the difference today - the difference from what it was like 20 years ago.
A lot of people do not remember the history. I want to talk about this because last week I was talking to someone who was doing the history of the Yukon Association of Non-Status Indians and we dealt with it.
We dealt with it because it was of the utmost importance to these people. The whole road to a settlement was very bumpy. I have spoken about a lot of those things in the House before.
Throughout the whole process of land claims, there was much opposition to any kind of a claim. Some of the things that we had to deal with, when we were organizing the Yukon Association of Non-Status Indians, were opposition to aboriginal people, racism and discrimination.
Some of the people sitting in the House today will remember the time an unofficial organization was established through the Capital Hotel. Many people were encouraged to join the Organization for Non-Status Whites. This organization actually sold tee-shirts to that effect. People wore them with great pride. They were in effect saying, I am a Non-Status White. I can do this if the Indians can.
There were a lot of things we had to put up with at that time. I remember Elijah Smith going to Ottawa, along with the other chiefs, presenting Together Today for Our Children Tomorrow. That started the evolution of land claims in the Yukon.
At that time, one of the questions that was asked in the high schools was: What do you think about land claims? I am discussing this information as I want people to know about the difficulties and the hard work and why it took 20 years to get to this today.
I have here my response to the letter that was in the paper. It was written by students. One of the comments that was made by Ken Coates, who is now an historian or something, was that, They will get the claim if only to shut them up.
It was those kind of things that were being said by the students. They said we were bums; we could not hold down jobs; we spent our money in bars; we got too much from Indian Affairs. I am prejudiced against Indians because I have nothing to lose. These were comments made by children growing up in the Yukon.
At that time, I felt I had to respond to it, which I did. I do not have copies of those letters, but I do have a copy of the letter I had written back to them. I remember the difficult time I had attending meetings when the First Nations people of the Yukon were promoting land claims, when they were first talking to Yukoners about it, and the great opposition to the whole thing. There was a lot of opposition to it.
I remind people that I read this article before, in the Toronto Star, in October, 1975, almost 20 years ago, but shortly after the land claim first got started. It was a comment made by one of the reporters of the Toronto Star, where they say, if we were to continue with a land claim settlement in the Yukon, someone would get killed. That was said by a former Education Minister.
They talked about how ugly it was getting, and that whites in the Yukon are shaken at the prospect of 65,000 Indians regaining much of the territorys wild and staggeringly beautiful 207,000 square miles. Someone else said that, in one village they were in, they were saying the best thing would be to put a bounty on Indians.
A lot of people do not remember this. I only bring it back to let people know it was not easy. Someone else said they solved the Indian problem in Newfoundland: they shot them all. A Yukoner said they did not think that was a bad idea and that if those Indians get $150,000 apiece under a land claims settlement, I am going to go out and shoot me an Indian. Somebody else says, and they name the person here - this was published in the Toronto Star - that the Indians do not deserve anything; if you took away the white mans culture and shoved them out in the bush, they would all be dead within a year.
The list goes on and on. A lot of us remember Bob Charlie. They interviewed him, and he said, You would have to be an ostrich not to notice the change in attitude. There are some bars I just would not go because you get into arguments about land claims, and it hurts me to see the graffiti about Indians on the washroom walls, he said.
It continued, Danny Lang, a Member of the Territorial Council, speaks for a growing white resentment. He spoke at great length about it. He said, when you give away the land, you are giving away your economy by birth and bloodright.
As a result of all that, he founded a northern land research society to oppose handing back land to the Indians. He then says that if we proceeded with land claims in the Yukon, he would give up his job as an MLA. He says he would hate to split the Yukon, but he is sure we could get 8,000 people behind us if we worked at it.
Somebody else said, just watch; if they get a big cash settlement out of the government, they will blow it all on booze in a couple of years. Then we will be supporting them with welfare again.
After 20 years, we can sit here and we can rejoice in the kind of things we are doing today; but I do not want anyone to ever forget the opposition that people in the Yukon had to put up with in order to get to this stage today.
I have always been a great supporter: I love my party, I love the kind of things we do and I really believe in the things we have done in the last three years. But when I first came into politics - and I have mentioned this in the House before - there was an ad in the paper telling people not to vote for the NDP because they supported land claims. The ad was tabled in this House. It read, Long time Yukoners are seriously concerned about Mr. Allen, chairman of CYI, openly attacking the present government while at the same time there are at least five NDP candidates running in this election, all with close CYI affiliation, and our concern is that this may seriously affect a land claim that will be fair to all Yukoners. In the end, the ad says, Winning an election is not worth that kind of destructive activity.
The ad also talked about our leader, Tony Penikett, and said his party had a fundamentally more positive attitude toward negotiations. Ten years ago, that concept was being opposed by the Tory party.
I mention this so that we will never forget - I know I will never forget - the Member for Riverdale North, who is sitting in this House today - now the Minister of Education - signed this ad and today still talks about too many cultural programs in the schools. I am familiar with a lot of the things that happened - with a lot of the things aboriginal people of the Yukon had to face during the whole process, the bigotry they had to put up with, trying to get the land that was stolen from them by different governments, and the hard work they have had to do in order to try to retain that land that was rightfully theirs. I know for a fact that some people did have commitments to it, and in the last seven years we, as government, worked to come to some kind of agreement on land claims. It was our number one priority - the number one priority with our government - and it is today.
I want to say that it is a pleasure for me to be sitting in this House, especially after the ruling last week. It is a pleasure for me to be sitting in this House today, dealing with these two bills, as they have been introduced. After giving the history of the kind of things that First Nations people of the Yukon had to deal with, I am convinced, just from travelling around with the special committee, that there is a deep commitment by the Government Leader. I have seen him speak in favour of a lot of the things we are doing, letting all the people at the meetings know that there was a commitment from that side of the House to get these bills through the House. I say that because I do want to give them a pat on the back.
I also want the information to go on record that it was not an easy job. We can all sit here and pat ourselves on the back, because we have come to this conclusion; however, the gratitude I have goes especially out to those who worked so long and hard to make this event possible today. I know for a fact that the fight was not easy. They had many things to deal with, things they disagreed with, things they wanted to change, and I have seen the frustration of many of those people over the years, who came to me to let me know how they felt.
It is with pleasure that I stand here and support these bills in third reading and, once again, congratulate this government and our government for the work we did in seven years, but especially to thank Elijah Smith and the people who followed him to make this happen today.
Mr. Millar: We have heard from just about everybody who attended the meeting in Carcross. I would like to make a comment on that meeting myself. I was in the car, on my way up there with the Members for Laberge and Riverside. They were telling me how calm the meetings had been and how well everything had gone, that they expected this one to be the same.
Let me just say that it was quite an experience to be sitting there. I learned a lot at that meeting.
Since Elijah Smith started a dialogue with Pierre Trudeau in the 1970s, the idea of land claims settlement has dragged on to the point where the dreams and aspirations of the First Nations people have been replaced by frustration and uncertainty. The time is now. Let us end the uncertainty by demonstrating to the First Nations people that there is at least one subject on which we, the Members of this House, agree: that we agree with the First Nations people that it would be in the best interests of all Yukon people to bring land claims negotiations to a successful completion as soon as possible.
This is something that has been going on for 20 years now. There has been, and remains to be, some tough negotiations. Resolving issues is not an easy task. The First Nations people of the Yukon are to be congratulated for their patience and persistence in this long, drawn out process.
The passing of this bill today would be the next step in providing the First Nations people with a land base. In turn, they would have an opportunity to control their own destiny, whatever that may be. Some may choose to go into business, other than the traditional hunting, fishing and trapping. Others may not, but it will be their choice.
The Champagne/Aishihik Band has led the way with their final agreement. Next was the Teslin Indian Band. The Na-Cho Nyak Dun and the Vuntut Gwichin are close to ratification. If we want the other First Nations to use these bands as incentive, we must help now by showing our support. We realize the benefits of an expedient settlement. We all know the importance the land claims settlement will have on the economy. We have an obligation to settle quickly and in the best interest of all Yukoners.
With land claims dragging out for so long, some people now fear it. I felt the fears would have been put to rest through an informative, sharing format. I was a member of the Special Committee on Land Claims that travelled around the territory, holding public meetings. Most, not all, of the people who came were very heavily involved with the negotiating process. They already had a deep understanding of what was happening. I believe we have to reach the others - the ones who do not know what is going on.
I know they are out there. It shames me to say this, but I was one of them. Because of my being on the committee, I now have a much better understanding of what is going on. I am confident that once the public understands these matters, they will readily accept the land claims agreement.
We need to get the facts out to all of the people. To give an example of what I mean, some people think that too much land is being given away to the First Nations. If we look at the big picture, the whole Yukon is 207,000 square miles. The First Nations people have claim to 16,000 square miles, or less than eight percent of the total land mass of the Yukon.
There are incidents in which third-party conflicts have occurred over land set aside for First Nations. This will happen again when the other 10 bands begin their negotiations, which some have already done. But, as has happened in the past, once these problems are identified, it is possible to work out solutions to the mutual satisfaction of all parties. It only seems natural that the First Nations people will be easier to deal with over their lands. After all, their prosperity will depend on how astutely they conduct business. I can assure you, anything would be an improvement over what we have endured from the federal government.
Now is the time to end the uncertainty. I trust that all Members of this House will offer unwavering support to those First Nations people as they move toward a new found freedom.
Mr. Penikett: This will be very brief for two reasons. One, I want to see the vote come soon on this measure, but also, as you know, Mr. Speaker, I have had the opportunity to address this matter on many other occasions in the House, including at second reading on these bills last June and again in December.
The facts of the agreements are I think well-known: the 41,000 square kilometres to which First Nations will retain title; the $232 million in capital that they will invest for the benefit of future generations; the wildlife provisions detailed by the Government Leader today, which provide not only that conservation should the first principle of renewable resource management here in the territory, but also that there should be cull management; fourthly, in the land claims agreement, a commitment to negotiate self-government agreements.
The self-government agreements are profoundly important in that they provide that First Nations shall write their own constitutions to govern their own affairs rather than being dictated to by that perfectly colonial piece of legislation, the Indian Act.
They make clear the power of First Nations to govern their own lands, to own, manage, plan and utilize them as they see fit. Thirdly, they enshrine in law the right of First Nations to provide services to their citizens, whether in their own communities and settlement lands, or elsewhere in the territory.
Historians are bound to ask why it has taken so long to negotiate the agreements in the Yukon. There are at least two reasons. The first of them is that it has taken a lot of time for aboriginal and non-aboriginal people to learn about each other here but, more than just to learn about each other, to learn to respect each others traditions, and for non-aboriginal people, especially, to respect the rights of First Nations people and their rights to government.
There are a great many provisions in these agreements about which Yukoners should be proud. There are a number of firsts. Some of them were mentioned by my colleague, the Member for Whitehorse Centre, in that this is one of the first agreements to be recognized for negotiation in Canada that does away with the arbitrary Indian Act distinction between status and non-status Indians and allows the aboriginal community to be made whole again on their own terms.
It is the first land claims agreement, or treaty, anywhere in Canada that does not require the extinguishment of aboriginal rights as a condition of settlement. It is the first agreement anywhere that respects the continuity of aboriginal title on settlement land. It is the first agreement anywhere in the English-speaking world that enshrines conservation as the first principle of wildlife management in any treaty.
It is the first agreement anywhere that creates a constitutional obligation to negotiate self-government agreements. It is the first such agreement in Canada that clearly establishes a third order of government.
For these and many other reasons, the chiefs, the Council for Yukon Indians and the negotiators for all parties, should take a real pride in the accomplishment and in the passage in this House, as well as the federal Parliament, and in the communities that will ratify these agreements, of these measures.
However, we should have no illusions about the long-term implications of what we are doing here today. We should be clear about the necessity to dedicate the rest of our political lives to the implementation of these agreements. As the Member for Whitehorse Centre has said, for the participants and for First Nations people who have been the subject of many racist attacks over the years from political opponents of claims, this has been a painful process.
It has left scars - wounds - wounds that need to be healed. For myself, I think we should all say here in Whitehorse in the Yukon Legislative Assembly on this March 16, 1993: It is time for the healing to begin. It is time to give life to this social contract that has been negotiated, and it is time for us to go forward as brothers and sisters and build this great territory together.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I, too, remember the days of the Yukon Association of Non-Status Indians - the organization that was started I believe in 1971 or 1972. A good friend of mine was part and parcel of starting that organization. I am 1/64th Indian so I tried to join because they seemed to be having lots of fun, but he said I was a white man and there was no way they would let me join. But they did want my wife - Marjie is one-half Indian, so they said I could join if Marjie would join; but Marjie did not want to join so we never became part of YANSI.
I do remember YANSI. I spent most of my time in Watson Lake from the late 1950s and we did not really see the issues or the racism Ms. Joe was referring to. It never came until later and it was kind of sad. When I first went to Watson Lake in the late 1950s, the problem just was not there, but I knew that type of racism and those things were happening in Whitehorse. It was quite evident when we came here. There was a certain amount of it in Watson Lake, but not to the extent that it existed in other communities.
I am really proud and happy to be part of this government that one hopes is putting an end to that type of situation and putting an end to the Indian Act. Many people have asked over the years, Will land claims ever end? It has been going on for over 20 years. The answer to that is, yes, and I am proud to be part of the government that introduced the settlement legislation, together with the Champagne/Aishihik First Nation final agreement.
Land claims discussions, as Mr. Penikett noted, will still be with us for several more years. However, ratification by this Legislature will signal that talks for the past 20 years have paid off. It will be a signal that the parties have found the basis for meeting the legal obligations to settle land claims.
The previous government froze all land dispositions in the rural sections of my riding, Lake Laberge, partly because of land claims. This has caused hardships for many residents in that area who want to expand their operation or subdivide their properties to start a commercial operation.
Legislation before this House is a step forward for these residents, as well as for the Yukon Indian people.
I would like to commend the residents of Laberge for being patient while land claim processes proceeded. The Yukon land claim is the only land claim where the majority of the population in the claimant area are non-aboriginal.
The Indian people should also be commended. I believe that the Yukon Indian land claim is the only comprehensive claim in Canada that includes several different aboriginal cultures and communities under the framework of one overall claim.
Undoubtedly, that has made it difficult to reach agreement in many areas and may be part of the reason for the lengthy process we have all been involved in.
The Yukon comprehensive claim, while being one of the earliest claims filed with the Government of Canada, has likely also been one of the most difficult and is the first claim that provided the negotiation of self-government agreements.
Today is a momentous day for Yukon Indians, for non-Indian Yukoners and the government, which represents all people.
Mr. Cable: I expect that this House will shortly give third reading to An Act Approving Yukon Land Claim Final Agreements and the First Nations (Yukon) Self-Government Act. This is historic legislation that will redefine the relationship between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Yukoners.
These agreements are more than legal agreements between governments and Yukon First Nations. While they settle some outstanding legal issues, they are also a social contract. They are meant to address past injustices and form the basis for a new partnership between all Yukoners. It is a sad fact that one of the Yukons foremost statesman and politician, Elijah Smith, the father of the Yukon land claim, cannot be here to witness the passage of this legislation. However, it is appropriate that, in the same year that two major public facilities are given his name, the process he initiated in 1973 has resulted in the presentation for third reading of these two bills. The success of these agreements and our ability to meet the goals set out in them is, in large part, going to depend on the attitude of public leaders and all Yukoners.
While the agreements are fairly definitive in many aspects, we must at all times remember what these agreements are really about. They are about equality, justice and dignity. The real test of these agreements does not lie in their legal text but rather in our attitude toward them and how these attitudes are reflected as they are implemented.
Self-government is an ideal that aboriginal and non-aboriginal people share. It means having control over the decisions and events that affect ones life. We all need to have some control over what happens to us, our families and our communities. In that sense, self-government is not strictly an aboriginal goal. We all desire self-government of one form or another. For that reason, self-government is not to be feared, but embraced as a fundamental principle of a free and democratic society.
As Members know, I participated on the Special Committee on Land Claims and Self-Government, established by this House. While the committee conducted its work, we met many Yukoners who had questions about the agreements. It is apparent to me that despite 20 years of negotiation many Yukoners do not understand these agreements as much as they would like, and that is understandable; they are complex agreements. However, I call on all Yukoners to make an effort to educate themselves about the contents of these agreements, and I further call on the government to assist in that process.
Broad understanding of the principles, goals and processes of these agreements will be the key to their success. This is necessary if they are to be respected and not feared.
Whether or not this House is successful in helping to make land claims and self-government work requires more than speeches and the raising of hands to pass the bills. It depends on what we do to promote the new relationship these agreements create. We all have an obligation to advance this relationship personally and publicly in the years ahead. Land claim settlements represent opportunity, and we all share a responsibility to seize the opportunity this legislation presents.
Hon. Mr. Devries: It gives me a great deal of pleasure to be a Member of this Legislative Assembly on this historic occasion. I would like to take this opportunity to thank those many men and women who worked extremely hard and, in some cases, put other parts of their lives on hold to negotiate this agreement. However, even a casual observer of land claims knows that there is a lot of work yet to be done. Some First Nations, such as the Liard and Kaska Dena in the area I represent, feel strongly that there are many outstanding issues yet to be resolved. I can only hope those issues, like so many others before them, can be resolved in time for all Yukon First Nations to proceed together.
With the passing of this legislation, and the same by the federal government, the Yukon will be poised for unprecedented opportunities. We will be the only area of Canada that will be able to offer a relatively undeveloped area with a modern transportation infrastructure, a well-trained workforce and concluded land claims.
Land claims is the critical factor in this equation. We have something unique to offer in the mining and mineral exploration areas. We only have to read the national newspapers to see other areas of Canada, and North and South America, which have the same geology and access to tidewater as we do, the same workforce as we do, but they do not have land claims settlements. Therefore, there is no clear demarcation of land set aside for traditional use, no certainty in what the development rules are and, thus, there is limited cooperation to ensure orderly and timely development.
It was with this issue in mind that we, as a government, for the first time in the history of this government, decided to invite the Council for Yukon Indians to be part of the Yukon delegation at the 1993 Cordilleron Roundup in Vancouver. This function is the primary economic generator of exploration capital in western Canada and offered opportunities for Yukon First Nations, Yukon businesses, and governments to entice crucial exploration dollars into the territory for the 1993 exploration season and beyond. We are committed to continuing to involve the Yukon First Nations and hope to facilitate joint ventures in mineral exploration between industry and First Nations.
One only has to examine the prospects of the Carmacks First Nation and their talks with the developers of the Williams Creek copper property to see industry and First Nations working cooperatively.
They are examining training opportunities, infrastructure development and business development opportunities related to the proposed mine.
In the area I represent, the Kaska Dena have two existing joint ventures in road maintenance and construction and in forestry. I realize that people in both industry and labour may have concerns about this issue, but they only have to look at what has been done to see First Nations offering opportunities to business that would not be available without that cooperation.
The other major issue of fishing development, particularly in Canada, is the cumbersome regulatory processes that industry must go through to facilitate all the groups that now have a say in our development. We have seen many well-intentioned but misguided organizations and special interest groups, some with memberships so low that they are embarrassed to publish them, have an impact on proposed development and resource management way beyond what any reasonable process should be subjected to.
In the umbrella final agreement, we see the emergence of the development assessment process, or, DAP, which provides First Nations with a key role in land use planning and heritage resource management. I know from conversations with industrial representatives and Yukon government agencies that they would far rather deal with Yukon First Nations people than with federal bureaucrats 3,000 miles away, who, on occasion, feel they are our lords and masters rather than public servants.
I spent a fair amount of time speaking about resource extraction issues. From an economic development perspective, that is but one area of opportunity I see for First Nations and all Yukon people as a result of the land claims negotiations.
Government contracting policies now require that the contract administration office provide the Yukon First Nations corporations information on how to compete for contracts and standing offer agreements, information on how and when to register on source lists and notice of publicly advertised invitations to bid for projects in their traditional territories, as well as information on contracts in excess of $50,000 awarded in their traditional territories for which invitational bids were not publicly advertised.
Government Services will, where reasonable, structure contracts on both settlement and non-settlement land so that they are manageable by small business.
The Government Leader and I have had preliminary - and I must stress, preliminary - discussions with Dana Naye Ventures to act as a guarantor for small Yukon contractors, both First Nations and non-First Nations, on government jobs.
If we, as a government, are able to provide the appropriate legislation to facilitate this service, provided we have the jurisdictional power, it would be of substantial benefit to smaller Yukon businesses. We are currently researching this issue.
We have met twice in recent months with a Canadian western bank. This bank is a western-based bank designed to meet the needs of western Canadians with financial services, loan arrangements and deposit provisions. In short, they are a young, well-financed western bank that has the Sampson Band in Hobema, Alberta, as their second largest shareholder.
In conversations with the CEO of this bank, we have suggested that Yukon First Nations be contacted through the CYI and the Yukon Indian Development Corporation to discuss the possibility of the bank doing business in the Yukon.
It is my understanding that this has been done. It will be interesting to see what develops over the short and long terms.
We all know the inequities that have been suffered by the Yukon Indian people. Nothing can be done about things that happened in the past. However, we do have the future. I would like to close by quoting a former colleague of ours in this Legislature, and a respected elder - Sam Johnston:
Native people have gone on many journeys since the white man came to our land. We have travelled some of those roads together, and we have come a long way because of this cooperation, but there has also been a great deal of despair because of this relationship. We must never forget these things, but we must not dwell on it any longer. It is in the past and, now, we are looking toward the future, so that our children will have a safe and secure world to grow up in.
I think Mr. Johnstons sense of history and optimism for the future should be a guide for all Yukoners. As the Minister of Economic Development and Minister of Government Services, I look forward to working together with CYI, to getting involved in more joint ventures and various things. I think there is a great opportunity in the Yukon, and I see a great future. Much of it will be as a result of this land claim.
Speaker: The time being 5:30 p.m, this House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
House adjourned at 5:30 p.m.