Thursday, March 18, 1993 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will begin with Prayers and I would ask all Members to bow their heads in silent prayer.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
Introduction of Visitors.
Tabling of Returns and Documents.
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I have a legislative return for the hon. Member for Riverside.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Are there any Petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
Yukon flag 25th anniversary
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I am pleased to rise today in honour of the 25th anniversary of a distinctive symbol of our territorial heritage: the Yukon flag. The Yukon Flag Ordinance, passed by the Territorial Council, came into effect on March 1, 1968.
The flag was designed in a competition held by the Yukon branch of the Royal Canadian Legion during Canadas centennial year. The winning designer was Lynn Lambert of Destruction Bay who, today, is a resident of Whitehorse.
The flag, as we all know, consists of three panels. The green panel represents the Yukon forest, the white represents the snow and the blue panel represents our many rivers and lakes. The official coat of arms and the crest are situated above two sprigs of the official Yukon flower, the fireweed.
In celebration of our flags 25th anniversary, the government held a kids quiz challenge to allow our young people to learn more about our flag, its origins and what it represents. Over 70 Yukon children entered the challenge. All the entries were impressive and demonstrated the knowledge and talent of our youth.
While each entrant in the challenge will receive a Yukon flag pin, five entrants receive a large Yukon flag for their efforts. I would like to take this opportunity to direct all Members attention to the gallery, where three of the five challenge winners are sitting. They are Jordon Salkeld Cameron, Michael Lewis and Sarah Macklan, each from Whitehorse. The other two winners are Kevin Morrison and Jessica Farrell, also from Whitehorse.
I would also like to introduce the Members to Lynn Lambert, long-time Yukon resident and designer of the Yukon flag. Along with all Yukoners, I am proud to see this flag flown along with those of the Northwest Territories and the other 10 provinces beside the Canadian flag at all national events and competitions. Our flag represents our heritage and future.
I would like to ask the guests to rise, so we can give them a round of applause.
Mr. Penikett: I am pleased to rise, on behalf of the Official Opposition, to join the celebration of the 25th anniversary of Yukons flag, extracts of which adorn this chamber, where all of us who spend time here are well-acquainted with the symbols: the symbol of gold, furs, Yukon river and the cross of St. George.
Flags are funny things. They are remarkable symbols, in many ways. They can bring people together or they can separate them. They are, for many nations, important rallying points for people who have fought and died under the banner of their country, but they are also one of the ways in that they identify ourselves. They identify the members of our human family, in our society.
There are other symbols, of course, including family crests, clan symbols, official animals and birds and flowers, all of which we are proud to have identified in the Yukon.
They are also symbols of something else that is also just as important, not just the historical icons that we have here in this chamber, but they are symbols of how we treat each other, how we help our neighbours, how we respect people of different backgrounds, different financial situations and different languages. I think it is very important for all young people in our community to know what the symbolism of our flags represent.
If our Yukon flag is a representation of the physical world we see around us, then it is also a symbol of the striving and pulling together we have to achieve in order to build a more tolerant, caring community here in the Yukon.
In conclusion, in many countries, including our neighbours to the south, there are legislators who push for laws to force people to respect the national flag or even state flags.
Canadians are different, in that we recognize that respect for symbols like this comes from a love for our nation, not from some dictate of the government. This love of our country flows naturally from our love of our family members, love of our neighbours, love of our community, our territory and our country, and I think that is as it should be.
International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I would like to bring to the attention of this House an important date for Yukoners. March 21 has been designated by the United Nations as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
This date was chosen to mark the anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre of peaceful protesters against apartheid in South Africa, which occurred March 21, 1960.
I urge all Members of this House and all Yukoners to join with other Canadians and with people around the world to renew our commitment to racial equality.
There is a cure for racial discrimination. It is tolerance and mutual respect. The cure costs us little and the payoff is great. Respect will help ensure each Yukon child grows up with a sense of self-worth. Tolerance will allow us to learn from the views of another culture, and it will encourage each Yukoner to contribute to the best of her or his abilities.
There is another reason why this is an important date for Yukoners to commemorate. The year 1993 has been declared as the Year of Indigenous Peoples. This is particularly significant for the Yukon government. Last night, all Members of this House approved land claims legislation that will offer Yukon First Nations their rightful place in Yukon society. This is a truly significant step toward racial equality for Yukon Indian people.
Ms. Joe: I certainly agree with this concept of zero tolerance of racism. It is ironic that it was presented today, two days after I spoke at great length about the racism and bigotry that aboriginal people have faced over the years while trying to deal with the whole land claim process.
Racism is a horrible thing and unless one has personally felt it, they really do not have the slightest idea how it feels. It hurts and it lasts for years as the Member for Riverdale North knows by now. Today, we have read in our paper about a couple of people in government who have taken their discrimination case to the Human Rights Commission tribunal. We are reading in the newspaper about the racism that goes on and on. There is an awful lot to learn. There is an awful lot to teach.
I recall, shortly before we came into office, a young aboriginal woman coming to me and crying because she had just got a job with government and someone had come in and sprayed her desk and her chair with Lysol because they did not want an Indian germ. This is in this day and age and it is not going away.
I recall a few years ago, a lawyer in one of our local bars who had had a couple of drinks who, with great glee, stood up and imitated the speech of some of our native elders while groups of men sat around and laughed. I would like to believe that we will see the elimination of racism in my lifetime and I am going to be around for a lot more years but I do not think I am going to see it, but it is my hope that my grandchildren will.
Mr. Cable: I also noted with some concern the article the Member who just spoke noticed in the newspapers last night - the complaint before the Canadian Human Rights Commission. It showed that racial discrimination is alive and well in the Yukon and that we must be ever diligent in dealing with it. I would say that tolerance and mutual respect are not things one just picks up from a piece of paper; it is taught, and learned. In the Yukon, one of the main teaching vehicles, besides the family, is the Yukon Human Rights Commission. When the debate on the budget comes up and we deal with the Yukon Human Rights Commission, I hope we will be mindful of the ministerial statement given to us today.
Canada-Yukon agreement on the agri-food component of the Green Plan
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I am pleased to announce the recent signing of a $380,000 agreement with the Government of Canada to promote environmentally sustainable agriculture in the Yukon. Programs under the five-year cost-shared Green Plan agreement will focus on soil conservation, water quality, pollution and waste management, wildlife and agriculture interaction, on environmentally sustainable production practices and on public education and awareness.
Environmental sustainability is key to the long-term development and viability of Yukons agriculture industry. Through the Canada-Yukon Green Plan agreement, we will work with the Government of Canada and industry to promote sustainable and environmentally appropriate use of the resources upon which this important industry depends.
The Yukon is committed to encourage the development of our agriculture industry on sound economic and environmentally sustainable principles. This agreement will support the initiatives we are undertaking through our Environment Act, conservation strategy and agriculture policy.
Program activities to be carried out under the agreement were identified through consultation with the agriculture industry of Yukon. This has been a proactive and community based approach to promoting a viable and environmentally responsible industry in the Yukon.
Agriculture in the Yukon contributes in a significant way to our economy, as well as providing opportunities for many Yukoners to enjoy a rural lifestyle. The funding that is now available through the Canada-Yukon agreement will help ensure the continued growth of the industry while at the same time maintaining and protecting our natural resources for the use and benefit of all Yukoners.
A viable agriculture industry is dependent on sustaining the natural resource base on which it is founded. The signing of this agreement will strengthen Canada-Yukon-industry cooperation in achieving this goal.
Mr. Harding: I have a few brief comments in response to the ministerial statement.
I am very pleased to see the announcement of this agreement. It expands very well upon existing agreements between the Government of Canada and the Government of the Yukon under the Green Plan. It is very important, especially in the area of soil conservation, because of the fragility of soil here in the Yukon.
It is also very nice to see the Members across the way now embracing the Environment Act where, at one time, they opposed it. That is an important step in responding to the concern for the environment. I would like to say for the record that we support these initiatives.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I would like to thank the hon. Member for Faro and point out to him that we voted for the Environment Act when we were in Opposition.
Speaker: On ministerial statements, I would like to bring the Ministers attention to Standing Order 11(3), which says, A Minister may make a short factual statement of government policy.
The ministerial statements have been short, but they are pushing the limits of statements of government policy. Yesterday, there was a ministerial statement introducing Leo McCormack, and recognizing his accomplishments. Today, there was a ministerial statement recognizing Lynn Lambert, the designer of our flag and three challenge winners. These things may more properly have been done under introduction of visitors.
I would suggest that the Ministers should use the statement by the Minister of Renewable Resources as a guide, and pay attention to that Standing Order.
This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Employment contracts with government
Mr. Penikett: I have a question for the Government Leader in his capacity as the Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission. Early in its first term, the NDP government ended the use of contract employees, a practice which represented a wide-spread abuse of public service laws. Can the Government Leader explain why, during the recent hiring freeze, some term employees were laid off and then put back on the payroll by means of employment contracts?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I guess I will have to beg ignorance on this one. I was not aware of that, but I will get the information for the Member and bring it back.
Mr. Penikett: By way of preamble, I would point out that employment contracts are extremely unfair to employees because they deny them benefits like pensions and other rights. They are also used to subvert the person year control mechanisms because they hide the true number of people actually on the public payroll, which are two of the reasons why we curtailed the practice.
Can the Government Leader indicate if Cabinet or the Management Board has discussed the policy of employment contracts? I take it they must have, because clearly the policy has changed because it was prohibited under the previous administration. I assume there has been some change in Management Board guidelines or Cabinet policy. Could he indicate to us what that discussion has been about?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I would just like to point out to the Member opposite that person years are not a very accurate way of identifying how many people are working for government. I think we only have to go back to the last administrations main estimates. I believe they identified 1,500 and some-odd person years, yet there were 3,400 people on the payroll of the YTG.
Yes, we discussed how to monitor the number of people on the payroll, and there will be some changes made, but I will address them a little later in the session.
Mr. Penikett: I may compliment the Government Leader as a new Member for his artful skating around the question and not answering the precise question that I asked.
Speaker: I expect that is the Members one sentence preamble for the supplementary and we will have the question now.
Mr. Penikett: By the time I add the conjunction and get to the second half of the first sentence, then I will get quickly to the question and, Mr. Speaker, the kind of contracting out or privatization that the government during the election campaign promised would not happen, appears to be taking place. Can I ask the Government Leader if he could indicate to the House something about the change of the governments direction in this respect?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I am a little bewildered when I look at the Report on Other Matters by the Auditor General for the year ending March 31, 1992. The Member is trying to tell me that they never contracted out jobs, yet they have been condemned by the Auditor General for having people leave the payroll and then go back to work on contract.
Question re: Employment contracts with government
Mr. Penikett: I am afraid the Government Leader is confusing completely different things. He is confusing the problem of people leaving the public service and then going to work for the government on service contracts. This is something we dealt with in the Public Government Act, which the Members opposite refused to proclaim.
I want to ask about a different dimension of the same problem. Last week, in Watson Lake, the Government Leader indicated to an audience in that town that there would be no auxiliary workers in Watson Lake losing their jobs. Several people phoned our office this morning to indicate that they have had layoff notices. Others have been told that they should start looking for other work.
Could the Government Leader explain this contradiction between his statement and what seems to be happening in the Department of Community and Transportation Services.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I should let the Minister of Community and Transportation Services answer that question, because I was not aware of any layoffs.
Mr. Penikett: Again, I am going to have to be precise in my terminology, because with an auxiliary worker, it may not be a layoff, it may be just that they are not being recalled. I wonder if I can direct my supplementary to the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. Since the Government Leader said that there would be no auxiliaries losing their jobs and since some appear to be losing their jobs and have phoned our office this morning out of concern, can he explain what is happening in that town with his department?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am not exactly sure, when the Leader of the Official Opposition mentions more than one person. I do know of one particular auxiliary who will not be brought back to the same job, but we are going to attempt to find a different position for that person. That is the only one I am aware of at this time.
Question re: Curragh Inc, financial assistance
Mr. Cable: This morning, I tried to go through my Curragh file with a view to feeling my way through the fog. I have some questions for the Government Leader that may assist the House in determining where we are going with the Curragh proposals.
On March 3, certain Members of the Opposition were given a briefing, in which there was a recapitulation of the impact on Yukon government and Canadian revenues. It was an analysis of the impact. A little later, we were provided with a document, entitled, An Impact Analysis, which analyzes the impacts of a shutdown on the Yukon economy. We were told that it would affect something in the order of $220 million of aggregate expenditures. It goes on to give some kind of comparative investment-on-capital-project analysis, comparing the Curragh investment with some other capital project.
Yesterday we heard, during debate on the Oppositions motion, a quote from a University of British Columbia economics professor, who indicated that, in the context of whether or not the terms were too tough, it really depended on where the assets are currently held and what they are worth.
Could the Government Leader indicate to this House if, when the crunch comes and a decision has to be made on Curragh, this comparative analysis that is set out in the Impact Analysis Statement will be used? Will this asset analysis test that was set out by the University of British Columbia professor be used? Will there be some analysis of the impact on both governments revenues, or will-
Speaker: Order please. The Member has been granted an extremely long preamble and is now asking more than one question. There are two supplementaries. I would ask the Member to conclude his question.
Mr. Cable: I was just about to, Mr. Speaker.
Which of these tests will be used?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I had so many questions come at me in the preamble that it is going to be very difficult for me to answer. The only thing I can tell the Member opposite is that there has been a lot of information that has been analyzed and considered. The decision will be based on all that information.
Mr. Cable: Then I am to take it that there will be a multitude of tests attached to the analysis of the Curragh guarantee. Let us just look for a moment at this asset analysis test, completed by the University of British Columbia professor, and condition number 1 in the proposal. What value does the government attach to the Faro division assets that are referred to in condition number 1 in the proposal?
I ask this in the context of whether or not the assets, after the Grum ore body is stripped, will be worth more or less than $29 million.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member is, in a roundabout way, trying to get at the 14 terms and conditions that were given to the Curragh people.
I think those types of negotiations are best left to Curragh Resources and our negotiators, Burns Fry, rather than being negotiated on the floor of the Legislature.
Mr. Cable: We are going to be called upon, if in fact the proposal is put before the House, to make some sort of intelligent decision as to whether the security is any good and has value.
There has been much debate over the relaxation of the chartered banks priority over the assets and whether it will relinquish its priority. Are those assets, to the knowledge of the Government Leader, presently charged? I am referring to all the hard assets, for example the claims and the mining buildings, exclusive of the receivables and the inventory.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: As I previously replied to the Member opposite, I think he is trying to get into the terms and conditions that have been set out for negotiations. On that note I would like to table this letter I received from Curragh Resources this morning, ... requesting the consideration of your government in providing a media blackout on all details of negotiations with respect to the loan guarantee. We are sure the government can appreciate the necessity of such action in view of Curraghs current endeavours. Curraghs position from the beginning has been to refrain from negotiating in the media.
Question re: Hiring freeze, lifting of
Ms. Moorcroft: The Government Leader stated yesterday in this House that he will recommend to Management Board to have controls on hiring lifted. As today is when Management Board meets, will he tell us the results of these discussions?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We are not in the practice of discussing what goes on in Management Board or Cabinet. Yesterday, I said I was going to be recommending to Management Board. I was not discussing what was going on in Management Board. The Member will have to wait and see. Something will be announced shortly.
Ms. Moorcroft: Earlier this week, at a Rotarian meeting, the Government Leader announced his governments decision to direct Management Board to reverse its policy on the hiring freeze. I have recently spoken with a Yukon government employee in Faro who told me that, because of the hiring freeze, they are doing the work of a permanent indeterminate position on a contract basis.
What kind of a hiring freeze is it that has a worker being renewed on a month-by-month contract arrangement, with no job certainty or stability?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Under the controlled hiring, essential positions were filled. Term positions that were required were filled. Auxiliary positions that were required were filled. All those things went on under the controlled hiring.
If, and once, some other arrangement is made, I do not think the Member opposite can expect that there is going to be a wholesale hiring by government. It has been the goal of this government: we believe we have to downsize. We are going to downsize by attrition.
Ms. Moorcroft: We know that term positions are established for a finite specified period and, at the end of that period, they no longer exist. By definition, this employee is in an essential position. When can this employee have assurances from the government that their job is secure?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: If the employees position is essential, it is certainly secure.
Question re: Hiring freeze, lifting of
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like the Government Leader to assure this House that Management Board will not be eroding the public service, for example, by laying off custodial workers to hire private contractors to clean government offices, as occurred under a previous Tory administration.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The only thing I can assure the Member opposite of at this time is that it has not happened and it has not been discussed to this point.
Ms. Moorcroft: As positions become vacant, it is my understanding that all requests for filling the positions will now come before Management Board for it to consider how essential they are in providing government services. Yesterday, we were told that nothing will change when the hiring freeze is lifted. Will the Government Leader tell us if this means that every position in the government will be examined on the basis of the job function, to determine if it is essential?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member is on the right track. We certainly are going to be cautious. We are restructuring some departments and the deputy ministers, with their Ministers, have been making their requests to Management Board, but first they have to go through the scrutiny of the deputy minister and the Minister before they get to Management Board.
Ms. Moorcroft: I sincerely hope this government is not planning to look for savings solely at the expense of working people and their families. Will the Government Leader assure this House that, before cutting any public sector jobs, a cost-benefit analysis will be done to examine whether his plans for public sector cutbacks will not have a damaging effect on the local private sector economy?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I have no problem giving that assurance to the Member opposite.
Question re: Taan Kwachan land selection, Whitehorse sewage system
Ms. Joe: It was interesting listening to the Member talk about blackout negotiating and negotiating in public.
It would appear that, according to the letter dated March 10 from Tom Siddon to Mayor Wiegand and the response from the Government Leader, they all support the land grab from the Taan Kwachan First Nation. I want to know, and First Nation groups want to know, if it is the intention of this government to completely ignore the wishes of First Nation groups and continue to make these kinds of deals without consulting with them first, especially if the Government Leader is planning to agree to give away land that has already been selected.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: First of all, we have not agreed to give away anything. I would like to draw to the Members attention that it was an announcement made by the mayor of the City of Whitehorse, not by the government. I responded to a request from the press. It has been my understanding all along that there has been a conflict between the land selections and the land required for Whitehorse sewage, and that this was an issue that would be dealt with during the Whitehorse land claim negotiations at the negotiating table.
Ms. Joe: He is absolutely right that discussions have been going on about this issue, but what I am having a great deal of difficulty with is that he is making announcements to the public and alienating those First Nations groups. I want to know whether he really does intend to publicly announce those kind of things again, especially if it is going to substantially affect a First Nation group.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member opposite seems to have trouble understanding. It was not I who announced it to the public, it was the mayor of the City of Whitehorse. When I was asked to respond to it by the press, I said that was the position that had been taken by both negotiators at the table, both the federal government negotiators and the territorial negotiators, that the sewage lands for the City of Whitehorse, because they were serving all Whitehorse residents, both status, non-status, and native, non-native, should go to the city unencumbered.
Ms. Joe: The Government Leader is completely wrong. He is absolutely and completely wrong in his response. I have had discussions with the Taan Kwachan. They are absolutely horrified that all these things are taking place. I would like to ask the Government Leader if it is his intention to actively negotiate in public a land claims settlement for this First Nation. Is it only restricted to that First Nation, or can other First Nations groups in the Yukon expect the same kind of thing? They want to know.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member opposite says I am dead wrong, but I was only following the policy that was set by the previous administration. There were no new instructions given to the negotiators. The position has always been that that sewage land should be given unencumbered to the city. Those lands in which were selected had not received interim protection. My understanding is that there was a map put forward by the Taan Kwachan that that land was selected, but it is also my understanding that it was never finalized, that it was in the negotiation process, and it still is.
Question re: Land selection, Whitehorse
Mr. McDonald: I have some questions which are thematically consistent with those put by my colleague from Whitehorse Centre. On Monday, March 15, in the legislative return, the Government Leader indicated the governments have committed not to enter into any massive block land transfers in the Whitehorse area until the First Nations have a final settlement. Given that a block land transfer is something larger than a site-specific transfer, what is the definition of a massive block land transfer?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I guess there could be many definitions of it, but I would like to assure the Member opposite that there have been no land transfers. There will not be no land transfers until this issue is settled at the negotiating table.
Mr. McDonald: I would like to explore what There will not be no land transfers until this issue is settled... means at some later date. That is an interesting statement.
Are all lands, either Commissioners or federal lands within the Whitehorse area, eligible for selection by a First Nation - either the Kwanlin Dun or the Taan Kwachan?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: As far as the Yukon government is concerned, all lands within the City of Whitehorse boundaries are eligible for selection, but I believe that there are some caveats on that in that there has to be a balanced selection. They are eligible for selection and that is the position that our negotiators are taking.
Mr. McDonald: Just to follow that up a little bit, what does the Government Leader mean by a balanced selection, under the circumstances?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: It is my understanding that pertains to some serviced and some unserviced lands, some lands that have commercial value and some that do not. I believe what the negotiators are trying to come up with is a balanced selection that will be satisfactory to all the people.
Question re: Court reporting contract
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister of Government Services. The Auditor General has just pointed out in his report that there are weaknesses and deficiencies in the governments contracting procedures. I just remind the Minister of this because the real question I want to ask him is about a contract for court reporting and recording services that has been tendered in the last few months.
A local small businesswoman bid and met the required specifications - not once, but twice - for this contract, yet she has been told the contract is going to a large firm in Vancouver. I would like to ask the Minister if there is still time to review who exactly is going to get this contract.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I rise to answer this question because it was a contract for court reporting and the courts are under the domain of the Department of Justice - at least on the administrative side.
The contract was let, as was said by the questioner. The contract has been reviewed by a panel on the basis of the various criteria to evaluate each of the bids. The people who were on that panel independently evaluated each of the bids. The bid that the questioner has referred to simply did not come out on top.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell me whether it is too late for this individual or not? In one letter he wrote to the individual - and I am glad he stood up to answer, because it is really his correspondence we are dealing with - on March 9, it was one of those Thank you, but do not call us, we will call you letters. He told the individual that the contract was going to be awarded. Then, a week later, he wrote to the same individual. In this letter, he has led her to believe, and I quote, until a contract is officially signed, therefore, all bids are relevant.
Is this persons bid still relevant, is she still in the race, or has the contract been awarded and there is no hope for this small business person?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: My understanding, as was conveyed to that person, is that there is an appeal procedure she can follow. My understanding is that that person has been advised about that procedure by the department.
Mrs. Firth: Therefore, the Minister is telling us that there is no hope that this person is going to get the contract. Once it has been awarded to a Vancouver firm, the government is not going to take it away from them and put it out to tender again. Has it been awarded to the Vancouver firm, signed off, a fait accompli?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: As of a couple of days ago, it had not been. I can check and refer back to the Member later today by letter, if she would like. However, my understanding is that it had not been finalized, and it was a review procedure that the person in question could trigger by taking the appropriate steps.
Question re: Court reporting contract
Mrs. Firth: I want to be very specific about this, because this person received a piece of correspondence from the Minister of Justice today. This is a week after he has indicated that the contract for the services will proceed and the contract will be awarded. A week later, she receives a letter from him saying, An agreement is being offered this week, meaning today or tomorrow, I guess, to the first-rank company. If it is acceptable to both parties, they will get it. Until a contract is officially signed, all bids are relevant.
This woman wants to know whether or not she is still in the race. That is what I would also like to know.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There is a procedure for that person to trigger a review. Failing that action on her part, the bids have been ranked.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister still has not told us whether or not the contract has been awarded; she has proceeded with a question regarding having her contract reviewed. In the letter the Minister sent, he indicated that the contract has not been awarded yet. All I want to know is whether it has been given and signed off or not. If it has, then she has no hope of getting this work.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Perhaps I was not here a few minutes ago, but I was certain I advised the Member opposite that I would review and find out whether or not there actually had been a contract awarded in the past little while and let her know this afternoon.
Question re: Caribou enhancement program in Aishihik area
Mr. Joe: I would like to ask the Minister of Renewable Resources if he could tell this House how many wolves have been killed in the Aishihik area.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: As of a week ago, 54 wolves, or 14 packs, had been killed.
Mr. Joe: I would like to ask the Minister where the wolves were that they studied? What happened to them?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: That is a $64,000 question. Number one, they had a very hard time locating them because there was no snow in that area this year, which made it very difficult to reach the wolves. Also, the wolf packs have dropped from seven a year ago to an average of 4.7 now.
Mr. Joe: What will happen to the wolf kill now that there are fewer wolves?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We are still on the same percentage. We knew there were 108 wolves in there when we started this year, and we are still taking out 70 percent, leaving the others. They will be checked again, in the same way as they are now radio-collaring wolves in the Finlayson area.
Question re: Faro banking services and home ownership
Mr. Harding: I have a couple of important constituency matters I would like to raise with the government.
I wrote the government on November 19 concerning the issue of banking services in my community of Faro and I received a letter back on December 14 from the Government Leader saying that he had referred it to Community and Transportation Services.
I wrote the Government Leader on December 29 of 1992, suggesting that the Government Leader consider a tough but realistic condition to try and re-establish home ownership opportunities in Faro for my constituents. I have not received any further responses and today it is March 18 of 1993.
I would like to ask the government when I can expect an answer and when I could possibly expect some action.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I must apologize to the Member opposite. I am quite sure that I signed off a letter to you regarding banking services. If you will give me the opportunity this afternoon, I shall check and find out exactly what did happen to that response. That was on the banking service and the other question was regarding housing in Faro. Is that correct? I am sorry I do not recall that particular letter but again, I can check into it for you.
Speaker: I just remind the Minister that his answer should be addressed through the Chair, not directly to the Member for Faro.
Mr. Harding: The housing letter was sent to the Government Leader on December 29, but I have received no response. It is concerning home ownership opportunities and entering into negotiations with Curragh to try and improve that situation because they have quite a bit of leverage in that area. It became readily apparent yesterday in Question Period that there is some mix-up upstairs in interdepartmental communications. I would like to ask the government when they would be resolving those serious problems in handling communications from other MLAs and from constituents.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Maybe the Member opposite thinks there are some severe problems, but I think the government is running fairly well. I apologize if he has not received a reply to his letters, but the Minister of Community and Transportation Services said he would check on it for him and I suggest he give the Minister time to do that.
Mr. Harding: I think the first request for some help for my constituents was November 19, 1992. The second letter was December 29. At least a courtesy reply would be nice. I do believe that is sufficient time to come up with an answer.
I would like to ask for a direct commitment from the government now to investigate how to help solve these serious problems of my constituents and also commit to me that they will come up with some satisfactory action for my constituents.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Again, not remembering the contents of those letters, it is relatively difficult for me to comment on them, but I can assure the Member that the department will be doing what they can to alleviate the problem.
Question re: Golden Age Society request for land
Mr. Cable: I understand that members of the Golden Age Society have recently approached the Minister regarding land on which to construct a drop-in centre in the City of Whitehorse. Can the Minister tell us what the status of this request is?
Hon. Mr. Devries: I would like to thank the Member for Riverside for the question. We have had meetings with the Golden Age Society and several recommendations have been made to them. We are in the process of looking at the different options and assisting them in this endeavour.
Mr. Cable: I understand that one of those options may be the swap of Commissioners lands for the land on which the present drop-in centre is located. Is the Minister prepared to entertain a land swap?
Hon. Mr. Devries: Yes, I have instructed my department to look at the option of perhaps selling the existing facility and land and building a facility on another piece of land. This is one of the options we are looking at. We are looking at what we can get for the land and what the financial implications are, whether it would fit within their needs and our budget.
Question re: Land selection, Whitehorse
Mr. McDonald: I would like to briefly return to a subject we brought up earlier in Question Period today respecting the subject of land transfers from government to third-party interests.
The Government Leader, in his answer to me, indicated something like there would not be no new land block transfers to the city.
Does that mean that there will be some block land transfers, or there will be no block land transfers?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: On the block land transfers, I guess this is where we are getting into whether they are massive or whatever. Within the boundaries of the City of Whitehorse, there are lands owned by the territorial government. There will be subdivisions, and so on.
As far as block land transfers from the federal government to the territorial government, I do not believe there are any within the City of Whitehorse. Outside the city, as the Government Leader has stated, there will be no major, or massive, block land transfers until the final selections have been made.
Mr. McDonald: I see now that, if I want information, I should be asking the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, and I will do that again.
The Minister has just indicated that there would be some consideration given to land transfers from the territorial government to the City of Whitehorse for particular purposes, and he cited things like subdivisions.
Will those transfers be permitted for lands that have been selected by either of the First Nations in the Whitehorse area prior to the land claims agreement?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I would hope that any lands that the department wants to develop for residential subdivisions would not be included in the land selection by any of the First Nations. However, I cannot say for sure whether or not they are. If it were the case that a development is planned and the land is selected by a First Nation, it would certainly go to the land claims table.
Mr. McDonald: Then the only way a transfer could be made to the City of Whitehorse is if it was agreed to in some manner at the land claims table. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Yes, that is correct. Either at the land claims table or if the particular band were willing to relinquish its selection.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day and Government Motions.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Clerk: Motion No. 15, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Ostashek.
Motion No. 15
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government Leader
THAT this House urges the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to introduce, at the earliest opportunity, legislation in the Parliament of Canada giving effect to completed Yukon First Nations Final Agreements and Yukon First Nations Self-Government Agreements; and
THAT this House urges all Members of the Parliament of Canada to support this legislation so that it may become law prior to the next federal election.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I rise today to speak to this motion because I feel it is very important, due to what has transpired in this House in the last two days and has been given assent to: the final land claim agreement and self-government agreements. We are all very aware that a federal election is looming over the horizon. We are also very aware that there is a leadership race on within the governing party.
Yukon First Nations have waited 20 years to reach the point at which we are today, on the verge of having their agreements passed into law. It has been completed at the territorial level and now it must take its final step to the federal level. I believe it is incumbent upon this Legislature to give a clear indication to the federal government that we support the Yukon First Nations in their request to have this legislation dealt with and passed prior to a general election being called.
Several weeks ago we had the first opportunity - for myself, Ms. Gingell and the Hon. Tom Siddon - to meet at a principals meeting in Vancouver to discuss this issue. As I stated earlier, the First Nations people are very concerned.
We only have to go back through the land claims process and see what has happened to the process as each general election was called. Sometimes, even if the same party was returned to power it seemed that Ministers changed and sometimes government priorities changed. That has happened several times in the history of the Yukon land claims. First Nations people do not want it to happen again; I do not want to see it happen again.
We have followed through, in our Legislature, and passed the necessary legislation. What is left now, from what Mr. Siddon indicated to us in Vancouver, is for the other three First Nations that have completed their agreements to ratify them. Then, Mr. Siddon indicated, he would be prepared to take these agreements to the federal cabinet.
Now I know, as does the Member opposite know, that the umbrella final agreement says that they only need one completed umbrella final agreement and one self-government agreement, but it appears, due to the complexity of these agreements and the great difficulty that we have had in finalizing these agreements, Mr. Siddon feels he needs at least four to be able to get them through the federal cabinet. That is what Mr. Siddon indicated to Ms. Gingell and me several weeks ago in Vancouver.
We have heard during debate in the last couple of days that the Champagne/Aishihik First Nation final agreement has been ratified, as well as the Vuntut Gwichin and the Na-Cho Nyak Dun Band, and that the Teslin Tlingit agreements are on the verge of being ratified, so that would be another stumbling block out of the road.
What Mr. Siddon also told us is that he wants the implementation agreements to accompany them. We are working very hard to have them finalized by the time the three First Nations have their agreements ratified. When they have them ratified I am certain we will have the implementation agreements in place.
Nobody wants to be accused of, or perceived to be, holding up land claims at this stage of the game. There are still some problems with implementation funding, but we will be debating that in another motion on the Order Paper today, so I will not delve into it now.
I just hope the Members are unanimous in their support for this motion today and send a clear message to Ottawa that it is time to finalize these Yukon land claims agreements so that our First Nations people can start to reap the benefits of what they have waited and worked so hard for, for the many, many years that negotiations have been going on.
I am a firm believer that, with the conclusion of these agreements and the First Nations people being allowed to make their own decisions, to set the course that they believe they should follow, all Yukoners will benefit.
I am not going to speak for long on this motion; we have two other motions on the Order Paper and I would like to see all of them unanimously passed today, so I am going to keep my comments brief. We have been speaking on land claims for two days in this House, and I think all three of these motions are very, very important motions, which will send a clear message to Ottawa.
Ms. Joe: I do not think there is any question in the House that all of these motions will get unanimous consent. It is our hope, as it has been for a number of months, that federal legislation will be passed before a federal election is called. I believe the First Nations groups who are in the process of ratifying the agreements are hard at work trying to put that process in place. I have no doubt in my mind that everything that is required of the Yukon will be done and that the government will be ensuring that they have also done their job. I know that our federal party, of course, supports the passing of these bills in the House and will speak in favour of them. I would hope that the Members of Parliament are aware of the importance of dealing with this legislation and making sure that it is dealt with and passed in the House before they call an election.
Speaker: The Leader of the Official Opposition.
Excuse me, the Member for Vuntut Gwichin.
Mr. Abel: I am sure Tony is going to get his chance.
Speaker: That is the Leader of the Official Opposition.
Mr. Abel: I know him as Tony.
Before I speak to the motion, I would just like to add a little humour to this House. I am, today, still alive and well. In that regard, I would like to ask the Minister responsible for Education if he should appoint himself coroner of the Yukon Territory.
I will now speak to Motion No. 15. I would like to urge the federal Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to table legislation in Parliament very soon so that the Yukon First Nations and self-government final agreements can be put forward for ratification. I want to urge all Members of Parliament to support the bill so that it may be passed into law before the next federal election. I want to emphasize that it is very important that this parliamentary business be taken care of before the next federal election. I therefore encourage the Minister, Mr. Siddon, to speed up the affairs in the House of Commons. We must make sure it passes before the next federal election so that we will be assured that the legislation will become the law of Canada instead of having it drag on any further.
We have been at this task for 20 years, and the people of the Yukon have shown their commitment to the First Nations people regarding land claims in the Yukon through the action of our government and all Members of this Legislature last night. Now it is time for the federal government to share that same commitment. Members of this House, as well as all people of the Yukon, have shown support. It was good to see all the people in this House agree on, and give unanimous consent to, something as important as land claims legislation.
Now, I urge the people of Canada to support us in our endeavours, so we may completely achieve our goals, our aspirations and our dreams.
Mr. Penikett: I said most of what I have to say on this question a couple of days ago in Committee, but I will repeat my view that the most opportune time for expediting this important business is in the period between now and the selection of a new leader for the federal Conservatives.
As I pointed out then, with a new Prime Minister and a new Cabinet, you cannot assume that commitments from old Ministers will carry forward to new, and you cannot assume that, if there is a coronation pending for Ms. Campbell, there will not be an election writ dropped very shortly after the convention.
We should be especially concerned about any hint from anyone in the bureaucracy - the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs - that this is a matter that can easily wait until September or October, when the parliamentary calendar will be more free.
Apart from a few close friends and observers, the gallery is practically empty, so I can say what I am now going to say to the Government Leader and the Members opposite without anyone noticing. I notice that the official position of the Members opposite is that they have no connection whatsoever with the national Conservative party. However, I believe, nonetheless, that there are some intimate relationships, close friendships - they are not going out, they are just good friends, as they say in Hollywood. It may be that some of the Members opposite have friends, family, people they know, territorial campaign managers, who happen to have been recently appointed by the federal Conservative Minister to chair an important federal board, people like that, and even MLAs themselves, who may be going off to the national Conservative convention. People who are going to that convention and who may, in the next few weeks, be lobbied for their support, might take advantage of the fact that they are Yukoners and there is one Yukon issue on which we want to extract a commitment.
Whether it is friendships or associates like Mr. Hunter - I am quite envious of the Government Leader. I was never able to insinuate a New Democrat onto the water board at all, much less the chairmanship. Federal appointments have nothing to do with us; they are just good people.
If one has friendships in the Conservative Party in other provinces, like Mr. Frank Taylor from Manitoba, or places like that, we should ...
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I will trade that appointment for some of the money the Leader of the Official Opposition got.
Mr. Penikett: The money was given to all the people of the Yukon. I think it is a misunderstanding of the Government Leader to assume that it was just negotiated by the Conservatives and spent by the NDP. That is a mistaken notion of parliamentary democracy and public government. However, we will have other opportunities to discuss that during debates on the several money bills before the House.
I only want to say that some Members opposite may have some connections with other federal political parties - I cannot imagine which. However, I would say to all of us in this House that we should be stretching the limits, or testing the limits, of the affections of friends we have in Ottawa in order to expedite this business.
Of course, I think the main decision is in the hands of the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs. Even though the Government Leader is quite right, there is only one agreement technically required to go to Cabinet, but the Minister had originally decided he wanted four. I understand, in recognition of reality, he is now talking about three agreements. I understand Teslin is going through ratification now; Champagne/Aishihik has already ratified their agreement. I am told that Na-Cho Nyak Dun is contemplating their process sometime at the end of this month. I believe March 27 was the date I heard.
The Member for Vuntut Gwichin will appreciate the sweet irony for me, as I was criticized for not proceeding with this legislation earlier when we brought legislation forward based on the Vuntut Gwichin agreement. The Vuntut Gwichin have not yet ratified, but we know and hope that they will be able to do so soon. I understand the complications for that First Nation because they have so many members who are residing outside of Old Crow and even outside of the Yukon, and some even outside of Canada, which makes if difficult to complete the ratification.
The national leaders of the party favoured by the Members opposite may have views on this subject that are unknown. However, the national leader of my party is totally in support of the proposition that this matter should be legislated as soon as possible. She has already given her wholehearted endorsement to that project. I know that she, as the MP for Yukon, will be lobbying strenuously in that capacity to make sure that we all achieve the objective that has been endorsed by every Member of the House.
Mr. Cable: Naturally, I wish to add my support to the motion, as I expect everyone here will do. It would indeed be a tragedy if, after all the hard work that has gone into both the agreements and bills, they were to die on the order paper at the federal level because of the upcoming federal election.
I will be writing to my federal cousins in the Liberal Party, the Leader of the Official Opposition, Mr. Chretien, and our Senator, Senator Paul Lucier. I will be asking them to give their personal attention to pushing the matter through Parliament and inducing the government to put it on the order paper at the first possible opportunity.
Mrs. Firth: I just wish to express my support for this motion. I am not going to be a name dropper this afternoon and provide a long list of names of people I am going to call and lobby regarding this matter, but I will be making representations to certain people who still have some influence - who may not in a little while, but they still have some influence now in Ottawa - and I think, in all seriousness, that if every Member of the Legislature makes as many phone calls to whomever they know with any influence, perhaps we will be able to encourage them to do the right thing.
Hon. Mr. Devries: I also support this motion and encourage the Members of Parliament to get on with approving the land claims agreement. Having just experienced a change in government and being a new Minister, I can see where legislation like this could get hung up for a short period of time as new Ministers get a grip of what is going on within their departments. I would suspect that, if an election were called in, say, June, possibly nothing would happen until Christmas.
For the First Nations people, this would be very sad. We could see here yesterday that they were very excited about the legislation that has been passed here and they would like to get on with being in charge of their own destiny. Also, from the economic aspect, it would be great to see them able to start utilizing some of the land claims money for the economic development of the individual First Nations and the Yukon.
Ms. Moorcroft: We, on this side of the House, certainly support the motion to urge the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to deal with these matters as early as possible in the federal House. However, I feel confident in many ways about the future of this legislation because I have assurances from the next Prime Minister of Canada, our Yukon Member of Parliament and the Leader of the New Democratic Party, that land claims is one of her highest priorities.
Now that this Legislature has passed these bills and we have all stated our unequivocal support for the inherent right of our First Nations to self-government, it is important that the torch be passed over to the federal government. I understand that there are assurances that this will take place before the next federal election and I am confident that all parties will continue to work diligently and hold the federal government to its commitment to get these bills enacted.
It is not just for the people of the Yukon, but once passed in Parliament it will set an example for all Canadians and, indeed, the rest of the world. The underlying principles of these agreements are applicable around the world - in central America, in Australia, New Zealand and Africa. These are made-in-the-Yukon agreements, of which we should all be proud, and everyone in this House has already expressed their gratitude and appreciation to the many people involved in this lengthy process.
I, too, would like to thank all of the paid negotiators, the volunteers and support workers, the outspoken advocates who expressed their support for aboriginal self-government and the legitimacy of the land claims, as well as the countless silent supporters. We particularly owe gratitude to the First Nation citizens who have waited for so long for a just settlement. Finally, we must urge the Government of Canada to meet its fiduciary responsibility for aboriginal people by providing adequate implementation funding for these Yukon agreements.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I rise in support of the motion that is before us here today. I do differ a little bit in the timing from the previous Member who just spoke. That Member said that the next Prime Minister of Canada, if it were a member from her party, would support this. Well, I do not think we can wait that long. We have waited 20 years. What we want to do is get on with this in the next few weeks and months. I hope we do not have to wait until an election.
In fact, this motion reads that they do this prior to an election. I would hope that Ottawa takes this very seriously. I know that people in Ottawa, Mr. Siddon in particular, have been waiting for us to get to this stage, and I feel comfortable that he will take it to his colleagues as soon as possible. Although I do not have as many friends in Ottawa as some of the others have, I will be writing a letter to Mr. Siddon, the Prime Minister and all other federal Ministers of the federal Cabinet, urging them to pass this legislation as quickly as possible.
Yesterday was a very great day for the First Nations in the territory, but it is not over yet. I urge all Members of this House to continue to lobby the federal officials to get it through their House as soon as possible.
Mr. Harding: I will be very brief. I just simply want to say that I support this motion, and I will be placing a personal call to Bill Clinton. Under the federal Conservatives, the Americans have had more influence over the direction of this country than the Prime Minister, so I will drop that name.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I will not take very long, because I have probably talked longer on this subject than I have on quite a few subjects. I, of course, support the motion. I urge us to move on it as fast as we can, because to get anything out of Ottawa is like pulling teeth out of a chicken: it does not always work. Also, with the coming leadership convention and the possibility of an election, politicians are a strange breed of cat. They will be spending more time trying to cover their own backsides and being in the right position when the next election comes, rather than forgetting that they are running the government. The government still has to operate even though they are running around, trying to shake hands and become politicians.
Some people mentioned this, and I know some are going to phone the United States. Perhaps I could try South America? I do not think I better phone Ottawa. I do not think that would help the cause one little bit. I will do everybody a favour in not bothering to phone Ottawa.
Not only should we pass this, we should also instruct the Speaker - although I know he has a busy schedule - to see that these motions, when passed, should immediately be fast-tracked to Ottawa as fast as he can.
Mr. Danny Joe: Of course, I support this motion. The government in Ottawa should be proud to sign this agreement, to represent the whole nation and send a message to the people of Canada. This will give them a chance to say positive things about this country and First Nations. The federal government will say, we believe in the rights of First Nations, we believe this is a good thing for all Canadians.
Mr. Millar: Unlike many people in this House, I have not been very involved in the whole process. I did mention that being a member of the land claims special committee opened my eyes a lot. I feel I have a better understanding for it. It is also a great honour for me to be able to tag along with the rest of you in this. I would like to offer my support.
The other day, I stood up in the House and said that all Yukon people are now ready to get on to the next stage. Yesterday, the Members of this House passed two bills, An Act Approving Yukon Land Claim Final Agreements and First Nations (Yukon) Self-Government Act. That was a step, and what we are doing here today is the next step. For this House to urge the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs to, at his earliest opportunity, introduce legislation into the Parliament of Canada, so that all Members of the Parliament of Canada can give their support to this legislation, so that it may become law prior to the next federal election.
I do not have anyone to phone in Ottawa, but I hope that our message does get there and that they do this as quickly as possible.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: While yesterday was an historic day in Yukon - and, later today, we will be congratulating the many people who were involved in the last 20 years of the land claims - I would like to remind everyone of the urgency of keeping this land claims process going.
It is urgent that we maintain the mobility of what we have started. The federal government has asked for ratification of the land claims and self-government legislation from four bands, prior to introducing their legislation.
Collectively, we may well be able to lobby them to proceed with fewer than those four bands. However, let us not take that chance, given the upcoming federal election.
I have to agree with the other Members of the House that all of us should be calling in any markers we may have in Ottawa to ensure that the legislation is on the federal order paper.
I have been told that the Teslin Tlingit council hopes to have ratification by the end of March, NaCho Nyak Dun by mid-April and Vuntut Gwichin by early May. As we know, the Champagne/Aishihik First Nation has already ratified.
I urge these bands to work diligently to meet those target dates. I am sure that the CYI will continue to lobby on behalf of all the bands, as will we, the Government of Yukon.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I want to add a few words to this discussion. I have a couple of points.
Firstly, the First Nations are upset about the size of the loan they are required to repay under the land claims stipulations. One really valid point that they make is that a lot of the expenses incurred by the negotiating of the claim were caused by elements they had no control over and, most particularly, by the various elections that have taken place at the federal and territorial levels over the years. They have quite a point. These are things that have happened that are beyond their control.
I would like to go on the record as saying that there is a very high level of expectation now among all Yukoners, and especially First Nations beneficiaries, that the emotional level is extremely high. It would be nothing short of cruel to have this agreement not make it to Parliament in time to be passed before the next election is called. Each and every MP who will receive a copy of this motion should realize that, right now, the aboriginal people of the Yukon are on an emotional roller-coaster. It is critical that this be resolved as soon as possible.
Mr. McDonald: I was going to leave it to others to express the fact that this motion will pass unanimously. Then, I realized there might be somebody in Ottawa wondering where the MLA for McIntyre-Takhini was. If that message were to echo through the halls of the capital region, I do not think I would ever live it down.
I would like to express my unequivocal support for this important motion. The ratification by the Canadian Parliament is a necessary step and something, as the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes indicated, that is expected by all Yukoners.
As long as we are putting our cards on the table, I do have a couple of contacts in Ottawa: a waitress/sometimes graphic artist and a daytime TV show writer. I will use my influence with them and with anyone who could have some influence on this decision to ensure that this measure passes through Parliament as soon as possible.
I join all other Members in making this motion unanimous.
Speaker: The Hon. Government Leader will now close debate.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I will be very brief. It is great that everybody got on the record and are prepared to lobby their friends or foes in Ottawa, whatever the case may be. I think it will do a lot to help this motion get through.
Motion No. 15 agreed to unanimously
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Point of order.
Speaker: On the point of order.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I do not want to preempt debate on motions that are coming next, but we could do something that is a little unusual for a House but consistent with the atmosphere today and, at the end of the third motion, if there is unanimous consent, we could call division on all three motions at the same time and everyone record their vote as accepting all three motions unanimously.
Speaker: Is there any further debate on that point of order?
Mr. McDonald: Among the House Leaders, I would like to contribute toward making this point of order unanimous.
Speaker: Without ruling specifically on whether that was a point of order or not, this House can direct its business by unanimous consent, and I think on that point of order we have unanimous consent that if all three motions are supported unanimously, we will have division to record each individual Members vote.
Motion No. 21
Clerk: Motion No. 21, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Ostashek.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government Leader
THAT this House congratulates Yukon First Nation citizens, federal government and Yukon government officials, both past and present, who contributed to the settlement of the Yukon Indian claim.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: This motion is a very fitting one today for what we have gone through in 20 years in the Yukon. It is incumbent upon us to recognize all the people, many of whom have been forgotten, but as each Member stands maybe more names will come up. This motion shows that we understand and realize what a tremendous effort went into 20 years of negotiations in order to arrive at the great historic moment we experienced in this House last night - a very emotional moment.
I am not going to begin to try to name the people involved in the land claims, because I do not know them all. I have dealt with many of them; I have forgotten lots of their names. I have watched them come and go - chief negotiators, government leaders, Prime Ministers, Ministers of Indian and Northern Affairs, First Nations people - some of whom we recognized in this House last night but who are no longer with us and are not here to see the results of their efforts. Those are the people this Legislature is honouring and remembering today.
There are a few names on which I would like to elaborate. One of them is my colleague, the Minister responsible for Justice, who, in the 1970s, for several years, was the land claims negotiator for the territorial government and who worked very, very hard to get to the very brink of having this agreement finalized in, I believe, 1984. I am sure the hon. Member may have a few words to say about that himself, but I can understand how let down he, the First Nations people and the federal negotiators must have felt when that agreement started to unravel. That is almost a decade ago - eight years.
I guess the reason we had the previous motion is that some of us are very concerned in this House today that that same scenario will not play again in 1993.
The present Minister responsible for Justice worked very, very hard on behalf of Yukoners in those days. That is when I first got to know the Minister in his capacity as land claims negotiator; I was, myself, a Yukon outfitter.
Secrecy surrounded claims during the 1970s. You could not pry any information of any kind out of anyone. As the Hon. Member for Whitehorse Centre pointed out, there were a lot of animosities and a lot of fears. But what I want to remember about our Minister of Justice, in his capacity as land claims negotiator, was his ability to deal with First Nations people, federal people, territorial residents and be able to communicate with them and negotiate with them: Elijah Smith, Johnny Johns, Joe Jacquot, Ms. Gingell, David Joe, you can go on and on - people who were very, very dedicated.
I also include the Hon. Leader of the Official Opposition, who for seven years struggled to bring this to the stage that it finally came to. All those people should be remembered by this Legislature and by the people of the Yukon for the efforts that they put into this during some very, very frustrating times.
I can remember my first meeting with the Hon. Member of the Official Opposition during the change of government when he in some ways expressed some of his frustrations by telling me of some of the frustrations that I would be facing as we progressed down this road.
I believe that all the people involved had the tenacity to continue in the face of great odds. First Nations people I worked with many years ago said to me that we would be old men before it was settled. Some of those people had a lot of foresight. We are getting to be old men. We were all 20 years younger when this started - two decades.
I am not going to go on forever here. I want the other Members to have a chance to speak. I just feel that I want to congratulate all of those people - the hundreds and hundreds of people who contributed to getting this agreement to this stage.
Ms. Joe: I think most of us in the House today have already paid tribute to a lot of those people who were somehow involved in the land claims process throughout the years. It is a pleasure to add my congratulations to this motion.
I would like to go back to 1902, right after the gold rush. Chief Jim Boss of the Lake Laberge Tutchone Indians had asked the federal government for a treaty to protect his people, who were already suffering from the overwhelming number of whites who had moved into the country. Ottawas reply at that time was that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police would take care of the Indians and not let them starve. This information came out of the book entitled, Together Today for Our Children Tomorrow. I would certainly like to recommend to anyone sitting in this House who has not read it to do so. I do not believe that Jim Boss name was mentioned. He plays a big role in this as well, as did Johnny Johns.
In 1949, Johnny Johns made representations to governments concerning rights and claims when he saw certain activities being undertaken by outsiders on lands that he and his ancestors had traditionally used.
We mentioned Elijah Smith, in 1968, speaking at an Indian Act consultation meeting in Whitehorse, letting DIAND officials know that the Yukon Indians wanted their land and rights. It evolved from there.
The history since then has been mentioned in this House over the past two days and my congratulations goes out to all of those people, like Chief Jim Boss, Elijah Smith, Johnny Johns, Joe Jacquot, who are no longer with us, but wherever they are, they are looking down and are very happy today.
I would also like to congratulate the hundreds of people who followed in their footsteps: Vic Mitander; Dave Joe and Mike Smith were very young lawyers when they first became involved; Dave Porter had some involvement in land claims; Judy Gingell has persevered through the last few years; Rose Marie Blair-Smith, Gail McDonald, Billy Webber, who was my YANSI partner during the time we were trying to make sure that the non-status Indians became a part of this claim; Dorothy Wabisca, Frances Woolsey, Norma Kassi, Albert James and the hundreds of chiefs who worked through the years ensuring that their people knew what was happening in the whole process. The families of all those people have to be given great credit.
My thank you and congratulations goes out to all the federal and territorial negotiators. I do know that their jobs were not easy.
My special thanks goes to our leader, Tony Penikett. I know that, under a great deal of stress and opposition, he took the lead in 1985 to put land claims on the top of the priority list.
I would also like to add my congratulations to the present government who followed up on the commitment made by the previous government. There are so many people who helped to get the process through, and I congratulate each and every one of them.
Mr. Abel: I definitely want to take this opportunity to congratulate all Yukon First Nations people, the federal and Yukon government officials, both past and present, and especially the late elders who shared so much of their love and wisdom before passing on.
I want to thank all those people for their participation in Yukon First Nations land claims and all those who contributed so much of their time to see that this legislation was brought to the House. There are so many people to thank.
I definitely want to acknowledge my wife Rosalie for her continuing support of me throughout the many years. Without her support, I could not have done my job. She endured the hardships; she suffered by being alone for much of the time and she was left to shoulder the responsibilities of raising our three children, managing the household and making decisions.
As well, we should pay a tribute to all the spouses and children of members who participated on the negotiating teams, for the hardships their loved ones had to endure over the many years of being left alone for much of the time.
After enduring all these many hardships - every one of us - we just have to make this land claim settlement work.
Furthermore, I once again want to acknowledge and thank all Members of this House for supporting this legislation yesterday. It was a great historic occasion for me and for all Yukon First Nations. Our hearts soar - that means flying.
We do appreciate all the people who contributed their time and efforts over the 20 years of negotiations. If I tried to mention every individual by name who gave so much to the negotiations, this House would be sitting for the next six months just listening to me listing thousands of names.
With that, I will say thank you to those individuals on behalf of all Yukon First Nations who truly appreciate those many, many hours of hard work.
Mr. Penikett: I would like to say to the Member for Vuntut Gwichin who just spoke, massi shidhja a [thank you, my friend].
The process of trying to give proper recognition to all the people who have contributed to the agreements that have been reached here in the Yukon is, as the Member for Vuntut Gwichin said, probably impossible. But I would like to just mention some of the people whom I remember particularly well - and I will not mention all the chiefs with whom I worked during the time I was involved in the process or the First Nations councillors or other community leaders. I want to begin by saying something about each of the chief territorial negotiators with whom I have been involved over the last few years. I, of course, must begin with my predecessor as Government Leader, the present Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes, who went from the job of chief land claims negotiator to Government Leader and began to establish a pattern that I think has now become evident: that there is no great reward for becoming the chief land claims negotiator; in fact, there is almost nothing but pain to follow.
One of the many indignities inflicted on the present Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes as the land claims negotiator as he then was, was a casual remark I made in this House one day in reference to him as the $800-a-day man, which was of course a reference to his income from the territorial government for negotiating land claims at the time. It only goes to show that you sometimes have to be very careful about what you say in this House because, to my utter astonishment, within 48 hours I was hearing taxi drivers repeat the label back to me and I am sure, as the Member from Ross River Southern Lakes will admit, it stuck.
I was, I freely admit, young and quite innocent at that time, and innocent enough to have almost no association with the legal profession. It was only later that I learned that $800 a day was, for what was called a senior lawyer, only a modest remuneration. In fact, the income expectations of people in that particular occupation were considerably higher than $800 a day. Even after doing the incredible thing of insisting that our negotiators work for much less, I was astonished and somewhat appalled to discover some years later that all the negotiators for all the other parties got considerably more and that we really had been shortchanging, to some extent, the people who had this, the most difficult of all jobs.
I want to say, and I do not think I am betraying any confidences, that when, following the 1985 election, the outgoing Government Leader and I met to talk about some transition issues, he did indicate to me that he thought the most difficult appointment of all to fill would be the job of chief land claims negotiator, indicating something not about the remuneration, I think, but about the general thanklessness of the task. I considered myself and our Cabinet, and indeed our government and I think the people of Yukon, extraordinarily fortunate in having the talented individuals that we were able to attract to that task.
I have confessed my sins about the appellation I attributed to the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes and apologized abjectly, but I am now going to go on and say that all of the quite brilliant people we have had as chief negotiators have all suffered incredible public abuse. Most of it was unwarranted, with quite an inappropriate quantity of it coming from this House.
I know the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes would probably agree that what goes around, comes around. Having suffered the $800-a-day label himself, it was probably fair game to subject eminently decent, civilized and intelligent people like Judge Barry Stuart to similar abuse. However, I want to say that, having forced Judge Stuart to accept his remuneration at considerably less than the previous incumbent, he then had to suffer the ignominy of being blamed for an arrangement of a judicial sabbatical, which had been negotiated by my colleague, the then-Minister of Justice, on behalf of all judges. Somehow it became stuck in the public mind that this was extra remuneration for land claims work. I believe, in the case of Judge Stuart, it was a 12 to 16 hour a day job, seven days a week.
We were dealing then with a situation where land claims negotiations had broken down. As happens sometimes, there was a period of great bad feeling between First Nations and the territorial government. He laboured mightily to introduce something he called interest-based negotiations, or, a cooperative form of negotiation, in the communities as a way of trying to bring the parties to the table and talk about where they agreed rather than where they disagreed.
Judge Stuart did an extraordinary job in moving the negotiations along. Unfortunately, he had to cool his jets quite a bit while the federal government, in the middle of the process, decided to do an 18-month review of their policy. This was one of the delays referred to by the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes that have been very costly throughout the process.
I want to pay tribute here today to the work of Judge Stuart. It was costly to him. I know the Minister of Justice will not mind me saying this, because I am not entitled to speculate about how these things are done, but one of the costs to him may have been a federal appointment, in which I know he was interested. I am not at all commenting about the qualifications of the person who did eventually get the job, but I believe that Judge Stuart would have been eminently well-suited and well-qualified for that position.
Our next chief negotiator was not as well-known to the side opposite, but someone for whom I have incredible respect. He had the daunting task for a time of directing land claims negotiations as well as being Cabinet secretary. I do not think it is known in this House that he was an absolutely brilliant individual. He was principally an economist and a Rhodes Scholar. He had been appointed by a provincial government a long time ago to the position of deputy minister at age 26, after being chief economist for a number of royal commissions for both Liberal and Conservative governments.
Unfortunately, he had had a very brief political career some years ago. He suffered abuse for that great sin. I have never quite understand why legislators think it is all right to have been in politics for them, but someone else who did it once is absolutely scarred, sullied and unfit for any kind of decent work thereafter.
We seem to have this schizophrenia. If you were a psychiatrist, you might regard it as almost a peculiar form of self-hatred, which is quite unseemly. I think Doug McArthur was absolutely pivotal in playing the role for YTG and bringing us to an agreement in principle. As someone who actually knew his way around Ottawa, he performed many wonders in closing absolutely impossible policy gaps between us and the federal government. I think he enjoyed a very good working relationship with the First Nations here.
If I may repeat my theme to the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes, there is no reward in heaven for chief negotiators; they all go on to some greater punishment: in his case, it was to Government Leader; in Mr. Stuarts case, it was tenure on the territorial bench; in the case of Doug McArthur, it was to suffer the ultimate penalty of being asked to go to British Columbia and assume the responsibility for land claim negotiations in that province, which he did.
The next chief negotiator with whom I worked, and the last chief negotiator with whom I worked, whose signature, ironically, is on all four of the documents to which we have just given legal passage, was, for his great sins of achieving these four agreements, fired by the new government.
As I said to the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes, or as he may have said to me, what goes around, comes around, and his revenge is that he gets to negotiate now on behalf of the First Nations with the people who canned him. Knowing that gentleman - who has been described by one First Nation leader I know as an adrenalin junkie - that will be a prospect to which he looks forward with glee.
Other people have paid tribute, appropriately, to leaders like Elijah Smith, and other chairs of the Council for Yukon Indians over the last few years - Harry Allen, Mike Smith and Judy Gingell, who has played an absolutely essential role in the success of this project over the last few years.
The Council for Yukon Indians negotiators - all of them, but most especially their chief negotiators: David Joe and Victor Mitander - have earned the respect and admiration of every single individual who has encountered them. In fact, I once had cause to speculate, since he was a neighbour of mine for many years, what David Joe did before land claims and the only conclusion I could reach was that he was a kid, because land claims is all one can think of David ever having done.
The Member for Vuntut Gwichin, quite appropriately and quite marvellously, made reference to the silent partners in all of this work - the spouses and families of the participants who have paid a great price to help bring this to fruition - not just in the absences but also in the tensions and, let us also be frank here as we close this chapter in our lives, some of the nastiness.
I have had cause to complain before in this House about one particularly eventful stage in our political past when death threats were made against my spouse and children by some particularly ignorant rednecks. I can only say, I suppose, that I take some small satisfaction today in seeing that those people did not have their way in any sense; they did not triumph in terms of their policy objectives, nor alternately, I am glad to say, did they ever do any physical harm to my family, although they obviously caused some considerable concern in our household at the time.
We have, over the years, seen at least 12 federal Ministers in one way or another associated with this claim, and probably almost as many federal negotiators. Some of the Ministers and some of the federal negotiators are more memorable than others. The present chief federal negotiators are well known here and, of course, Mr. Koepkes talents recommended him very immediately and very quickly to the federal team, although he was originally hired by our government, and he has played an essential role in bringing the federal government to many of the agreements in, and let us be frank again, some of the areas where they had great doubts and reservations. One of the concerns for the federal government was that we in this tiny corner of the world were creating precedents for Canada, about which they were very nervous.
But the work here has been done well enough so that it was interesting today to see all sorts of language from the Yukon agreements turning up in constitutional documents in the Charlottetown process, and I do not think that was any accident. I think it was because there are, certainly with respect to the self-government agreements and also in respect of many provisions in the land claim agreements, no other models, no other completed agreements, and some of the innovations that have been forged here at the negotiating table are going to be very influential for a long time to come.
When we introduced the land claims legislation last spring, I had the chance to name, in great detail, a lot of the Yukon negotiators with whom we worked. That was quite a long list and as it has been previously recorded I will not repeat it.
As someone who has never subscribed to the great man theory of history, I have never believed in that view of the world, a view that Heather Robertson once attributed to John Diefenbaker the idea that politics and government was great men giving speeches to each other in Parliament. I know that most of the important stuff that has to do with politics and government does not happen on the floors of the Legislature.
I regret that, and I also regret that there is not time to recognize all the people. I think it is appropriate that Elijah Smith has been well-recognized; there have been three facilities in Whitehorse named after him, and I think that is fitting tribute, but there are many other deserving people, some of whom have been mentioned today - Johnny Johns, Joe Jacquot, all the leadership of YANSI, all the leadership of the YNB, all the chiefs, including Members who have sat in this House: the Member for Mayo-Tatchun, our former colleague, the Member for Campbell and Watson Lake, our former colleague for Vuntut Gwichin, the present Member for Vuntut Gwichin and my colleague, of course, from Whitehorse Centre, who have been deeply involved in, and committed to, this over the years.
All of us who have been named also know that there hundreds of others who have played a role. The products we have in the agreements are the result of thousands of small acts of inspiration, generosity, decency, and duty.
As I read through the documents I can actually identify clauses, phrases and words that were contributed by Barry Stuart or David Joe or Doug McArthur or Mike Smith or Shakir Alwarid. The memory of who actually wrote what will erode over time.
I think, on this occasion when we are saying thanks to people, it is important that we understand that this, probably more than anything else in Yukon history, has been a cooperative effort. It has been a collective effort, not just of negotiators, not just of leaders, not just of chiefs and councils, but of First Nations citizens and citizens elsewhere in every community in this territory. To puritanical or northern European-like people such as myself, there is something unseemly about self-congratulations, but I think it is okay on this day to say a thank you to ourselves; it is a way of saying a thank you to the whole Yukon, because I think what we have in the agreements which have been passed here, is something that we can give, not only as a gift to future generations, but also as a gift to our country, and perhaps even as my colleagues from Whitehorse Centre and McIntyre-Takhini said, perhaps even a gift to the world.
Mr. Cable: I, too, rise today to congratulate all those people who contributed to the settlement of the Yukon Indian land claim. This agreement, with its unique elements, marks a new chapter in the history of the Yukon. All those who worked to see this process to completion deserve our thanks, and all those people who had the patience to see the process through to completion deserve my personal thanks.
Hon. Mr. Devries: I also rise to congratulate all those who were involved. I would just like to tell a few stories of how I have come to be a supporter of the land claims. During the past few years, I have had the pleasure of spending some time with one of the negotiators on several of the Yukon rivers. It was during some of these moments of floating down the river and camping on the banks that I gained deep respect for this individual and I was thoroughly impressed by his understanding of First Nations people. I recall stopping at the Member for Tatchuns fishing camp and we were talking with Danny about various rivers and hunting. As we were about to leave he said something I did not quite catch as the sawmill planers kind of wrecked my ears over the years and I have problems hearing certain tones. Dannys voice seems to fit right into that category. But as I pulled away from the shore, it became obvious that I should have paid a little more attention to what he said as my motor started bouncing over a bunch of rocks in a hidden gravel bar. To put it in a nutshell, if a chief tells you something, you better listen.
Johnny Johns was mentioned several times yesterday. I did not know him very well, but I recall him dropping into my business in Watson Lake one day, when I had company from Ontario. It only took Johnny Johns about an hour, and they were worshipping the ground he walked on. In fact, the people from Ontario talked me into loaning Johnny $25 to buy gas so he could get back to Carcross. I suppose the only way I will ever be paid back is to meet him up in the great blue yonder.
In closing, I want to say that it is all the natives I have worked with in my life who have been the negotiators for me. At the campfires, I learned about the pride and honour and the life they had that I envied. In town, I learned about the pain and despair.
I would like to congratulate all the negotiators, but I want to give a special thanks to my friend, Whitewater Willy, for helping me put it all together and develop the understanding of why land claims has developed the way it has.
Ms. Moorcroft: Earlier, I referred to the fact that everyone in this House has already expressed their gratitude and appreciation to the many people involved in this lengthy process. I will be brief in my expression of thanks. I think we owe particular gratitude to the First Nations citizens, who have waited so long for a just settlement.
Earlier today, we acknowledged the Day for the Elimination of all Racial Discrimination, and 1993 is the International Year of the Worlds Indigenous People. We must also then not forget the many occurrences of racism in our society today, such as well-dressed white people cutting in front of an aboriginal woman in a bank lineup. We must not only celebrate the passage of the completed Yukon First Nations final agreements and the self-government agreements, but we must all strive to extend the feeling of mutual respect that has been expressed in this Legislature, last night and today, into our daily lives.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I, too, rise in support of the motion before us today. It is very important that we do take the time, after 20-some-odd years of negotiation, to recognize the many people who worked thousands of hours to get us here.
I know that my friend from Old Crow-Vuntut Gwichin spoke earlier, and I want to take this opportunity to thank him for his efforts in land claims, when he was the chief in Old Crow. I know he put in hundreds of hours. I want to thank a very good friend and his brother, Abraham Peter, who is no longer with us. Abraham was very dedicated to his people in Old Crow and spent a great deal of time working for those people to come to a final land claim settlement.
Again, an elder in Old Crow who gave a lot of advice to both Johnny and Abraham was Peter Lord. Peter is also no longer with us, but I know that everyone in Old Crow remembers and respects Peters advice, his stories and assistance through those very difficult years.
I would like to personally thank the CYI leaders, past and present, Judy Gingell in particular, and the 14 chiefs who have been involved in the land claims negotiations in the last few months. As I said last night, they have been in hundreds of meetings, and are in meetings almost every hour of every day.
I want to thank the people at the Council for Yukon Indians, the workers who have been the support staff for their leaders in preparing the information they needed to present at the land claims table, as well as the support staff for the federal government and the territorial government.
I want to repeat what I said last night. I want to thank the First Nations people for their patience for 20 years in getting us to this point. It is extremely important to recognize those individuals who are with us now, as well as those who are not. I will not repeat them, because I know many of the Members have already put their names on the record.
I would like to stand with other Members in the House and strongly support the motion that is before us.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: When I first looked at this motion, I was thinking about whom I should congratulate.
When I first read this motion, I was very much afraid that I would be leaving some names out. I thought there must be a better way of doing this. When I think back over my 40-some years in the Yukon, there has been an awful lot of people in this thing. I would, however, like to offer congratulations to the three chiefs in the area: Chief Paul Birckel, Chief Jo-Jo Johnson and Rose Marie Blair-Smith - who is not chief now, but did an awful lot of work.
To make things simpler, so that I do not miss anyone, I think we should congratulate all the elders of the First Nations who sat through many council meetings. They were never at the big table, but they sat back there and gave advice and, at times, were completely confused as to how white men could mess things up so badly. They continued, however, to give advice and smile through it all. They were a great success.
I would also like to congratulate the hundreds of secretaries, people who drew up the maps and the advisors who spent hours to get draft papers ready for the negotiators. It is something like our staff: they do all the work, while we sit up here and take all the credit and do all the talking, and they hope that we say what they told us to and not mess it up.
In closing, I would like to congratulate all the First Nations, all the First Nation elders and the Yukon people - some who were once deathly against it and have learned over the many years that this thing is workable, although not without everybody working at it. I would like to congratulate all of them, as well as the young people, who are going to have to take this over. This is not finished, and it will be some time before that happens. The young people are going to have to take this over.
Mr. Harding: I would like to join this debate and express a few of my feelings on it. I certainly did not know a lot of the people who have been mentioned in the last couple of days concerning this, but I have heard a lot about them. I have heard some stories and read some things. I would certainly like to extend my congratulations to them for their hard work toward seeing this come to fruition. I know there is still some work, not just in the passing of this legislation and the motions we are dealing with today, but also in the implementation of it and the ratification of the remaining claims. There will certainly be some issues of contention in the future, but I think it is very important that the people who contributed to where we are at this point are recognized.
I would like to pay particular homage to my leader, the Leader of the Official Opposition, Mr. Tony Penikett. His actions exemplified what leadership is all about, back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when he was very vocal in the area of land claims and self-government and worked with the native people who were trying to further their claims on the land and increase their rights to self-determination and self-direction. I think that is what leadership is all about - taking a position that may not be shared by the majority of Yukoners, but taking a firm position anyway with reasons behind it. It is about sticking to ones philosophies and to ones guns, perhaps revamping that position over time as new thought processes come into the equation.
I certainly think that the letter read by the Member for Whitehorse Centre, my colleague Margaret Joe, concerning the early times and some of the sentiments, racism and ignorance that were present in the territory, made for a tough fight for a lot of people.
This was not just the non-native people, but very much the native people. My colleague from Whitehorse Centres point is well-taken. I do not think I have ever been the brunt of some of the type of things of a racist nature that she or other members of the First Nations have been the brunt of, and I do not know if I will ever be able to understand exactly what they went through. I certainly feel the type of things my leader went through, with the party and the First Nations people in this territory, really deserves the respect and appreciation of Yukoners because it certainly exemplified leadership.
I would also like to thank the present government for following through on their commitment during the election and leading up to the election to carry this legislation through. I am glad the Members on the opposite side - some of whom had supported it and some of whom had not - have all come around and gone 360 degrees to recognize the legitimate claims of the native people in this territory.
I come from a community that does not have a lot of native people, so I feel somewhat devoid of extensive knowledge on native people. However, I do know what my philosophy is and what my beliefs are with regard to native people, what rights they have and what rights of self-determination they deserve to ensure that they can do the things they need to do with regard to maintaining their unique way of life and culture.
One thing we have to deal with, and continue to deal with, in the territory is the breakdown of something that really drags our territory down: racism. We have to start with our young people. They are very important, and that is why multiculturalism and the education of young people as to the specific and special needs, requirements and ways of other cultures are important. This all comes together in this country, and it is very important that we concentrate on furthering our understanding of each other.
Certainly, the people who have done all the negotiating over the years deserve my sincere thanks. I look forward to being a part in the future implementation and moving ahead.
Mr. Joe: I, too, rise today to congratulate all the Members of this House in passing the agreement yesterday. There are so many people to be thanked. What happened yesterday was something that we should be thankful for. This is going to be the future of many generations.
I want to touch on what self-government really means. Yesterday I heard three young Members of this House speak in support. While they were speaking, I thought that they learned quickly. This is something that showed me that, if we are going to work together, we have to educate our young people about ourselves. This is the learning process. Not only that, but we have to learn to share many things, and we have to learn to manage our great Yukon.
You know, every time I say Yukon, it makes me feel proud. We have a great country here in the Yukon, and we have to work together to protect the environment, every bit of it. If we work together, I think things will work for us. I heard many good things yesterday, as I listened to the Members speaking. We never turned back. We want to work together, and this is something that we really have to do. Nobody is going to do it for us. It is Yukoners together who are going to do a good job for the Yukon.
Mr. Millar: While I have never been personally involved with the land claims negotiations, I have sat on numerous boards and committees over the last number of years. I know it can be a very difficult task to reach an agreement, so I have a deep appreciation of what has happened here in the past couple of days. I knew it took 20 years to accomplish it, and I think that speaks very highly of the people who did the negotiating.
I would like to offer my congratulations for the tremendous dedication and determination shown by the federal government officials, the Yukon government officials and, especially, the First Nations people, who felt it was very important for their future not to give up on their dreams. It is good to see those dreams now coming into place.
Mrs. Firth: I rise today to express congratulations to the First Nations people on having achieved this historic day. I speak on behalf of the constituents I represent and offer congratulations on behalf of those people.
Although I do not want to start naming people, we have to give special recognition to those who were more closely involved in land claims than others - the people who worked, the people who went to the meetings, the people who did all the legwork. The people who have to be thanked the most are the First Nations people, because they waited and waited for this day. They were very patient when things did not work out and everything fell apart. They did not collapse. They got up; they kept working; they tried again. Twenty years is a long time. The First Nations people had to get up and start all over again many times during that 20 years.
My congratulations and accolades today go mainly to the First Nations people, because of their determination and persistence, and because they showed everyone that they could get up and keep doing it again, until they achieved their goals.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I, too, wish to show my full support for the motions before the House and include a thank you to all the people involved in the claims.
Yesterday and today we have heard many names of many people, including Judy Gingell, Johnny Johns, Elijah Smith, Joe Jacquot, Rose Marie Blair-Smith, David Joe, Jim Boss, and so on, people who have had a tremendous effect on the whole land claim. If it were not for these people we probably would not be here today.
However, I would like to make special mention of the hundreds, or possibly thousands, of people who worked in the background, people like the band councils and staff who, during the past 20 or more years, have worked very hard to bring us where we are today; the territorial councillors, and now the MLAs, who worked to have a place at the table and continued to devote their energy to carry this through; the elders who provided historic background for the actual land selections; the federal and territorial negotiators; the government employees involved in the claim, and the spouses and children of all of these people. I strongly suspect that many family members from all of these groups spent many evenings and days at home alone while their partners were involved in the land claim process.
Lastly, I would like to lend my support to the Member for Riverdale who said that there should be a thank you to the First Nations people who have actually brought this whole thing here today.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I rise to support the motion. I would like, at the outset, to thank those who have spoken before for their kind remarks about my modest role in land claims over the years. There are some names that I would like to mention because I do not think they have been raised in this context and I think they are people who deserve mention: firstly, Dennis OConnor, who was the chief land claims negotiator for the federal government for about six years, coincided with my time as the chief territorial land claims negotiator. He was one of the brightest people I have ever had the pleasure to work with and he has gone on since that time to become one of the very top courtroom lawyers in all of Canada.
I think mention ought to be made of Professor Dr. David Elliot, who gave selflessly of his time in the early years of land claims. He was brilliant in his insights and he really came up with a paper that in effect set the foundations for the land claims model that you see in its final form here before us today. I can recall David being a very quiet person. I can recall that during negotiations David would write up some position papers, come up with some new ideas and there were some people who worked as officials from the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs who would steal his ideas and take credit for them. I finally got kind of sick and tired of that, so when David came out with his most important piece of work that sort of set the foundations for the model, as a joke I wrote at the bottom that this was copyrighted and anybody who stole the copyright would be sued. Dennis OConnor and others thought that was hilarious, but the two officials from the federal government never did understand the humour. So, to David I offer appreciation, I am sure, on behalf of many, many Yukon residents.
Gordon Steele worked long and hard; a very dedicated person. He was away in Ottawa when three of his children were born and I think he deserves honourable mention here today.
John McGilp is another person who, after his retirement as a senior person in the Department of Indian Affairs, came to work on a contract basis for the Government of Yukon and he showed a lot of dedication and was a skilled tactician and really instrumental in our success in having the COPE agreement in principle modified to such an extent that it actually proved to be compatible with the aims, aspirations and goals of Yukoners.
Finally, I would like to mention Jack Stagg, who worked tirelessly in his capacity as an assistant negotiator in the federal government, under Dennis OConnor and others. Jack is now, as some of you know, an assistant deputy minister in the Department of Indian Affairs, and is still a very good friend of all Yukoners.
I, like everyone else, could go on and on about individuals I came to know very well during the course of land claims negotiations, but we do not have time for that here. The Hon. Leader of the Official Opposition mentioned that what goes around comes around in reference to some of the criticism I received from politicians during my tenure and some that were directed at negotiators in the same way who followed me in this journey. I hope he will recognize that I was not one of the people who sat in this House and criticized them, because I know the kind of pressures and stress they are under. In fact, something I have never made public before and something of which I am rather proud is that, at one point when negotiations were going very badly a number of years ago, Barry Stuart came to see me for some advice and to discuss some of the options; I was quite honoured by that. I do not think I was of much assistance, but I tried to the best of my ability. I look forward to working with him in the justice system in each of our respective capacities; I think we have a lot of goals and objectives in common when it comes to community-based justice, and that sort of thing.
Once again, I add my voice to all those in this House. A lot of people deserve a lot of credit. This really is an outstanding achievement for the people. It is one of the more significant weeks in the history of Yukon, and a very emotional one.
Mr. McDonald: It will not take long for the facts of the negotiating process to fade and a new mythology will grow up as to who did what, but the remarks in the House today will help to keep the record straight for some generations to come. Everyone who has contributed to the land claim can take comfort in the fact that they took part in something that, by itself, would count as a proud accomplishment - probably enough of an accomplishment for anyones lifetime.
I particularly would like to thank the chief and council in Mayo who, during my political career, put me through my paces and made me aware of what the bottom line was respecting land claims from their perspective. As rough and tumble as Mayo politics can get from time to time, I appreciate their candor and their support in ensuring that the voice I was able to raise in the land claims process, particularly near the end, was the one that had their understanding of the big picture.
I would like to support the motion, of course. I cannot identify everyone who participated, and like everyone else, I do not want to miss anyone. There are probably hundreds of people, not known to any of the MLAs in this Legislature, who participated in the final product. Everyone who helped deserves our thanks. I, for one, would like to extend mine to them.
Speaker: The Hon. Government Leader will close debate if he now speaks.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I have just a few closing comments to make. I believe it is very fitting that each Member recognized others for their participation in the land claims process. I am not going to dwell on it much longer. I just have a couple of closing comments in reply to the remarks made by the Leader of the Official Opposition.
The Leader of the Official Opposition spoke of ironies and how some people did not benefit as much as other people, some got a bigger wage than others and some got a sabbatical while others did not. I think the key to all this is that they all be remembered for what they have contributed to the land claims process in the Yukon. I think it is very fitting that this Legislature recognize that.
Motion No. 21 agreed to unanimously
Clerk: Motion Number 23, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Ostashek.
Motion No. 23
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government Leader
THAT this House urges the Government of Canada to provide adequate resources to the Council for Yukon Indians and the Government of Yukon to enable them to implement the Yukon First Nations Final Agreements and First Nations Self-Government Agreements settling the Yukon Indian Land Claims.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: This is a very, very important motion today. As has been indicated, I believe it will get unanimous consent. It is very important we have just passed some very crucial legislation for the settlement of land claims in the Yukon yet, without the finances to implement them, the agreements would be worthless and we would not have accomplished anything.
I believe that the federal government is trying to renege on some of their commitments.
Shortly after assuming this office, while talking with the Land Claims Secretariat, I found that we were having a problem with implementation funding - a major stumbling block. Unrealistic finances were being contributed to the implementation of these very, very important agreements, and it is a federal obligation to provide the funding to both us and the First Nations for the implementation of these agreements.
I went through a few rough periods with the Yukon First Nations for not agreeing to accept what was being offered by the federal government until we had a better understanding of what our responsibilities would be, what we would have to pay for and how much money we were going to have to pay for it. That led to the implementation plans that are being worked out at the table today and they are proceeding at this point quite well, but it is still my opinion, and the First Nations opinion, that the federal government is being very stingy on this issue.
A while back I wrote to the Hon. Tom Siddon after our meeting with him in Yellowknife and discussed with him the problem of implementation funding and the fact that they were being very frugal in the amount of monies they were offering.
I was quite happy to receive a copy of a letter from the Leader of the Official Opposition that he and his land claims critic wrote on behalf of their caucus to the Hon. Tom Siddon expressing their concerns regarding the level of funding being offered.
I would like to read a couple of lines out of the letter, as they sum up my sentiments, ... neither the First Nations nor the Yukon government should be asked to accept the financial obligations that Canada previously agreed to carry. That was something that was negotiated many years ago and it is a federal obligation.
The Leader of the Official Opposition went on to say, ...services to First Nation citizens, by First Nation governments, or the Yukon government must be enhanced through implementation of the claim, while not negatively impacting upon the level or quality of services which the Yukon government must provide to all of its Yukon citizens.
I have echoed these words to the Minister on every possible occasion. We are getting to a stage where we are close. I feel it would be useful to give you some background on where we are with respect to implementation planning and why I feel the motion today is so crucial.
We have completed the implementation plans for the umbrella final agreement, and work is on schedule to complete the implementation plans for each of the first four final agreements and the self-government agreements by the end of March - that is the deadline we have set.
We expect that work to continue on schedule so that the plans will be ready in time for the Teslin, the Na-Cho Nyak Dun and the Vuntut Gwichin ratification votes and in time for the agreements to move quickly through the federal Cabinet review process.
The First Nation and Yukon government implementation negotiators have been faced with a major challenge in completing implementation plans because of the unexpected low level of implementation dollars. Both the First Nations and the Yukon government have had to make tough decisions: first, on whether to proceed with the implementation planning, and second, on how to proceed. Both the Yukon First Nations and the Yukon government decided that we have come too far to stop or delay the process now. We have resolved to work on designing implementation plans that can be put into effect with limited resources, but which meet the essential requirements of the land claims and self-government agreements.
However, while working to put the claim into place, both First Nations and the Yukon government will continue to look to the federal government to increase the implementation funding and to hold the federal government to its obligations to adequately resource the claim for the long term.
Money may be tight or not, but dealing with this issue in the short term is not an indication that we will stop trying to improve the implementation arrangements for the long term.
Adequate implementation funding is important to all three parties, because all three parties have responsibilities to implement under the claim. If any one of the parties is severely under-resourced, it impacts directly on all parties and on the ability of the parties to meet the legal requirements of the agreements.
Adequate funding from the federal government is critical to Yukon First Nations and to the Yukon government because neither of us have the ability to cover the shortfall.
In working on the implementation plans, we have been looking at ways in which we can best meet our responsibilities with the limited funds available from the federal government. We have begun to focus attention on ways whereby we can reorganize existing programs to more effectively meet our implementation requirements without any loss in any service to the public in general.
Expanding existing programs to meet new claims responsibilities would have been much easier to accomplish in a more straightforward option, but it requires a level of funding not available from the federal government at this point. Therefore, much of our effort in the first few years of implementation will be in looking across departments at long-term program and service delivery changes that will allow us to work more effectively with all 14 First Nations on land claims and self-government implementation issues. At the same time, we will be meeting our immediate implementation responsibilities to the first four First Nations and those First Nations whose final agreements follow close behind.
To support our efforts, we will be completing a financial transfer agreement with the federal government on implementation funding. This agreement will focus on re-profiling ongoing costs so that we can get a somewhat higher level of cash flow in the early years to help us with our reorganization and so that one-time start-up costs are also available in the early years to support implementation planning and delivery for both completed agreements and those under negotiation.
It is expected that the details of this agreement will also be completed by the end of March, allowing the Yukon government to carry on with the important work of preparing for the immediate implementation provisions of the existing agreements upon passage of the settlement legislation.
Additionally, as I discussed yesterday in the House, there will be a full review of the implementation plans, five years from the time of settlement legislation. We are trying to get that moved back one year, so that it kicks in one year earlier.
We put the federal government on notice that the adequacy of ongoing implementation funds will be a priority topic for this review.
We are moving ahead in concert with First Nations to finish the implementation planning process and start the work on the actual implementation of the agreements. We are not letting the federal government off the hook over the long term. It has an obligation to fund the claims, and we will do the best with what we receive now from the federal government in the current economic climate.
We will place a great deal of emphasis on the review and on the question of adequate future funding levels. In fact, this government will be taking a new approach to all aspects of federal government financing. We will no longer accept the status quo of the inadequate offers of the federal government funding in all areas in which it has fiscal obligation to support.
We will apply the one-time start-up implementation funding and ongoing implementation funding we receive from the federal government to the fish and wildlife and heritage boards and renewable resource councils as provided for in the implementation plans, to implement the provisions of the existing agreements, to meet our obligations in the 10 sets of agreements that remain to be negotiated and to re-orient government programs and services to meet our long-term claims responsibilities and to work most effectively with First Nations governments. We are looking forward to cooperating with the First Nations on their implementation work and we expect the federal government to be an active participant, fully meeting all of their obligations.
I believe that unanimously passing this motion in this House will reinforce our position to the federal government and the federal Minister, to see if we cannot spring a few more dollars free to help us in the early stages of this implementation.
Mr. Penikett: I am pleased to enter this debate on behalf of my party, and to contribute our perspective to this debate on a motion that no doubt will be adopted unanimously. I do want to make some comments about what the Government Leader has just said and, if he does not mind, use this opportunity to give notice of some general questions that I would like to pursue when we get to the Executive Council Office estimates, particularly the land claim vote because, as he has indicated in his speech, this question of implementation funding is absolutely critical to the success of the Yukon land claims agreement.
It is extremely important to understand that the reason that we have implementation agreements under negotiation is that some of the earliest modern settlements, such as those with the James Bay Cree, did not, in the opinion of the beneficiaries, adequately address the question of funding of resources to implement the settlement.
As a result, in northern Quebec, there has been one political crisis after another, but also much litigation - much frustration and anger, because there was nothing like an implementation agreement for any of those settlements. The implementation agreements, it is intended, should be contracts, binding and enforceable but which respect the provisions and intentions of the land claims agreements. Remember, the land claims agreements themselves are not just given effect in law by passage in this House, or even by passage in the House of Commons. They are, in fact, modern treaties, because they will be appended to section 35 of the Constitution as modern treaties and will not be changed, as the Government Leader said yesterday, except by agreement of all parties.
The problem is - and I mentioned this a couple of days ago - this country has been through a lot of constitutional wrangles over the last few years, but we are all discovering that, just because there is a constitutional obligation, or a legal obligation, or even a treaty obligation, it does not mean that the funding some of the signatories to that agreement or the makers of that constitutional agreement believed should flow always flows. The power of the government-of-the-day over the purse string is still there and it can be used to frustrate, undermine or even nullify a sincerely and honestly made treaty, law or constitutional amendment.
That is why so much time was devoted in an ultimately fruitless process, in which I was engaged for much of last year in the constitutional negotiations, to the question of properly resourcing or financing land claims and self-government agreements as we were discussing constitutional protection of self-government agreements and constitutional recognition of the right of First Nations to govern themselves.
Canada and the Yukon government, the Council for Yukon Indians and the four First Nations who now have final agreements, started the development of implementation plans for the umbrella final agreement, boards, commissions and committees - a final agreement on self-government agreements, according to a memorandum of understanding on implementation planning, was signed by all parties, I think three years ago.
At that time, the parties agreed to develop activity sheets for each obligation, setting out who would do what, and when, and the resources required by each party to carry out their responsibilities.
I am not suggesting that everyone who filled out those activity sheets was entirely realistic in terms of the probable available funds, and that may be subject to some debate for some time to come. I do not want to dwell on that today. If I may be permitted to say so now, in my new capacity, some of the great offenders on that score were departments and agencies of this government.
In the process of doing that, Canada agreed that all the implementation costs would be borne by the federal government, and that was an absolutely essential point that we discussed last year in the constitutional agreements. It was a position that the Yukon government and the First Nations had fought very firmly for.
Do not forget that, as I mentioned earlier, Canada was concerned about precedents being established here, which would apply in provinces, particularly in places like British Columbia, where they had a bigger and more complex land claims situation to deal with and a costly series of settlements to face. Canada was also trying to establish precedents here, in getting the Yukon government to commit to things that the provinces did not want to do, but which would lever the provinces into financial arrangements that they did not believe they had any constitutional responsibility for.
Therefore, the agreement we got was very important, and it said that the federal government shall be responsible for all implementation costs, and that the Government of the Yukons contributions would be limited to the net savings from transferring program delivery to any of the First Nations.
On a previous occasion, in a speech self-government on an Opposition Day more than a year ago, I tried to explain how this would work in practice in some of our smaller communities.
As the Government Leader mentioned in the letter sent by my colleague, the Member for Whitehorse Centre and myself, we also tried, in our agreements here in the Yukon, to establish a floor for First Nations that the services they would receive would be at a level of that enjoyed by the general public, but that there would be a protection that the federal government could not reduce the level of services to the general citizens as a way of achieving that floor - if you like, there was a floor and a ceiling. It was protection for the First Nations in that the services in their communities would come up to the standard enjoyed by the general citizenry. Most of us would agree that that is not the case now in most communities. It was also protection against the level of services going down for the general public. That principle was at the heart of the funding agreements we tried to negotiate.
We should remember that the Yukon government and the Council for Yukon Indians both have spent over two years working on the required implementation plans. There was great effort to achieve a consensus on the activities contemplated in the plan and there was one in the end. The costs of these activities were under negotiation when the territorial election campaigns began last fall.
I want to share this with the Government Leader, although I am sure he already knows it, but I think it is important that both sides of the House understand that, last September, the federal government - and remember, this is at a time when we were in an election campaign - tried to raise the possibility that the total funding for implementation would be limited to a mandate they received in 1988, establishing a ceiling on funding to $70 million. This position was rejected. The territorial government-of-the-day refused to even discuss it. At the time, the Council for Yukon Indians was very strongly in support of the territorial governments position.
We insisted that the 1988 mandate had no relevance to what was being negotiated and no one could have predicted what transpired and what was to be agreed to in the end in the final agreements and the self-government agreements. The federal government could not have done that when they set the earlier mandate, so it was unrealistic to say that, although they did not know what was going to be negotiated, Here is the total amount of funding, - we could do what we liked with it, but that is all there was.
All of this was completely inconsistent with what was being proposed at the same time in the national constitutional package. It was completely contradictory. In the Charlottetown Accord, there was an effort made by all the participants to give the financial security to the First Nations and to the provinces. It was not absolute, but it was negotiated that there would neither be program dumping, program off-loading nor dumping of costs onto the provinces and that the First Nations would have the resources they needed. The federal government, obviously, had to have some predictability as well, but that, too, was contemplated.
Earlier, in a debate on another motion, the Minister of Justice talked about the delays and costs of negotiations that were no fault of the First Nations, but have caused them to incur a large debt to the federal government in negotiating loans.
It was very frustrating for the First Nations to find out that while they had spent something like $1.5 million of loan money on implementation planning, the federal government was now contemplating a cap on the funding, which meant they had no way of covering what was a legitimate cost of negotiating, and potentially represented for them a large waste of time and money.
I will not comment on this again, but as everybody here knows, after the election there were some key changes in the Land Claims Secretariat. I do believe, and I have made the criticism in the past and I do not want to invite debate now - we will get into that in the estimates - that there was a moment there in which we had no senior person in charge and it may have been costly. I will not state any more than that. I will pursue that with the Government Leader on some other occasion.
I think the federal government had an opportunity to sell their package to some of the First Nations and there was a moment where the Yukon territorial government was dealt out of what might have been a tripartite agreement. I think, as I understand it, the Yukon territorial government was offered something like $1.5 million per year to implement the claims and the self-government agreements and, I based on what I have heard from the Government Leader, this was later revised to something like $2 million.
Let me not go into a lot of detail about this, because I do want to discuss this, as I say, in the estimates. But I think it is fairly widely known that one department in the Government of Yukon was looking for $10 million a year to implement their obligations. In fact, if the Government Leader has not been told about this, let me share it with him. There was a department that I will not name, but has offices up in my constituency and has as Minister, a close personal friend of his, who represents an area in which he used to outfit - I do not want to betray the name of the department. But that particular department was looking for, I think originally, something like $100 million over 10 years to do implementations just for their obligations. Now, clearly you can see that there is a huge gap between that departments hopes and dreams and what is on the table. That has to be a big concern for this House and I am not being frivolous today when I say to the Government Leader that I want to come back and discuss this in the estimates because we are talking big dollars here over the life of the agreements.
I understand that CYI did not get an agreement with all the chiefs at the time, but they did agree that the four first Nations that had agreement should proceed on the basis of the federal offer without prejudice to future negotiations by each First Nation on its own implementation plans and, as the Government Leader said, all parties are working on concluding implementation plans by the end of March.
The Government Leader mentioned the financial transfer payment between Canada and each First Nation. I would like to bring to everyones attention that this agreement will have a great potential impact on YTG; it is this agreement that will determine YTGs net savings from program transfers. That is absolutely critical for us.
It happens in a democracy, but there may have been some problem with a lack of continuity; none of us is to blame for that, it just happens, but I would like to raise the issue that the Department of Finance, when I was Minister, was not happy with the program transfer process. I would be extremely surprised if they were happy now. When we get to the estimates I want let the Government Leader know that I have a number of questions.
I want to ask the Government Leader, when we get into the estimates, about the total differences between the federal offer and what the departments of YTG, under the present administration, believe is the minimum for implementation. I want to explore, in this House, how big the gap is.
I am assuming, from the Government Leaders remarks today, that there is a shortfall. If there is a shortfall, we, the Yukon government, are probably going to be committed to implementing quite costly YTG obligations in areas like wildlife studies, land use planning, renewable resource councils, training of First Nations people - for government jobs, for example, which is part of the agreements - and negotiating program transfers under self-government, and so on.
This burden could fall to us without the recovery from the federal government, which we should be able to expect. There is a whole question under the agreements about the appointments to boards and consultation to First Nations - the water board is a critical one. As we acquire responsibilities in that area, we also have to understand that there are established rates, per diems or indemnities for members that are quite high, particularly the water board - I have heard that members of the water board get between $500 and $800 each per day. These are all costs that, at some point, we are going to have to pick up.
We have to understand that there will be a perfectly predictable fear among First Nations that the territorial government could, one day, stop delivering certain services that certain programs such as the community development fund, the business development fund, capital works programs, training programs and such could be underfunded or reduced. Therefore, even though the problem is originally federal funding, the commitments that we made to those First Nations under the land claims agreements would be diluted by our reducing the level of direct services from YTG to those communities.
If those communities wanted to maintain those levels of service and programs, they would be forced to use their own scarce resources under the settlement to do that, and they would have a reasonable fear that that is inconsistent with the spirit and intent of the land claims and self-government agreements.
The Government Leader may know that one of the frustrations we had in government in dealing with the federal government on devolution matters was something they in Ottawa call program-stripping. That is, just before they start negotiations to transfer a program, they cut down the amount of staff and dollars in the program - they shrink it - so you have a kind of impoverished shadow of the former program you are negotiating about, rather than the full-fledged program that you had originally hoped to take over.
I predict the First Nations will have a reasonable fear that the same thing could happen in respect to potential devolutions from YTG to their communities. If they have an eye on program X, but if, in the course of the next few years, program X has its funding radically reduced, they are obviously not talking about transferring the same program as was originally contemplated.
This is an extremely important part of the whole land claims and self-government process. As I said, there is great potential, even though these agreements will eventually be constitutionally protected, to defeat the intent of the agreements, simply by starving them of the necessary implementation funding. The implementation agreements are in the nature of contracts, and we have to bargain hard to get contracts that are a true reflection of the original agreements. We all have to be prepared to hold the federal feet to the fire in order to get the kind of agreements and money the settlement and self-government agreements here require.
Mr. Abel: To provide adequate funding - as the Yukon First Nations are about to enter the first phase of a freedom that allows us to control our own destiny - I support the Government Leader, along with the leaders of the Council for Yukon Indians in requesting the Government of Canada to provide sufficient funds to enable the Yukon First Nations final agreements to be implemented.
We came a long way last night in this House but the work is not finished by any means. It will be necessary to have sufficient funding from the federal government to enable the First Nations to train and to educate their people so that these agreements can work, and work well, for the benefit of all Yukoners.
Ms. Joe: I do not have a whole pile of things to say, but I would like to stand and support this motion. It is a very important one. I know from the kind of work that was going on prior to the election, the First Nations had a lot of plans in place to try to prepare themselves for the eventual work they were going to do, knowing that they were at that time doing small things with small amounts of money but that they were going to need a great deal more.
I want to lend my support to the motion.
Mr. Cable: The manner in which the Yukon Indian land claim is implemented will decide in large part whether the agreements fulfill the expectations we all have of them. The agreements themselves will not mean much if they are not implemented in the spirit with which they were negotiated. I agree that the provision of adequate resources will be the key to successful implementation, but our attitudes are also going to play an integral role in the success of these agreements and the legislation we passed yesterday.
I support the motion fully in order that the very important financial implications of the agreement are attended to, but I also call on all governments, Yukon First Nations and all Yukoners to approach the challenge of implementation with the same dedication that they applied to negotiating the agreements.
Hon. Mr. Devries: I would also like to speak in support of this motion. We know that we now have the ingredients for a successful conclusion to land claims. Generally our society accepts the process as a social justice issue and as an economic opportunity for the First Nations people and, in fact, all Yukoners.
I know all Members of this House are concerned with the issue of implementation funding, and I know the previous government worked hard and long to see that this issue was properly dealt with, yet we still seem to be facing a fair amount of reluctance on the part of the federal government to provide adequate implementation funding. Funding to the Northwest Territories aboriginal groups has been substantially more than the present federal offer. It is obvious to me, from the federal stance in the Northwest Territories, that they realize the importance of adequate funding being there. I can only hope that they will consider this issue as an important part of the whole package.
I would like to urge all Members, in all seriousness, to lobby the federal government, however they see fit, to ensure that this important issue is dealt with immediately. At this time, I would also like to thank the present Government Leader for being so persistent in making this land claim his number-one issue and I assure you, from what I have seen of our leader so far, he is a stubborn old lugger, and if there is an extra nickel in Ottawa for this implementation money, he will get it.
Ms. Moorcroft: I rise to support the motion before the House. The land claims of Yukon First Nations will not truly be settled until these agreements are implemented. As my colleague, the Member for Mayo-Tatchun eloquently stated, we must work together as aboriginal and non-aboriginal people and we are learning together.
In the implementation of aboriginal self-government under these agreements, we will forge new relationships. The participation of First Nations citizens on boards to manage Yukon resources will enhance the decision-making made by these boards. There are challenges ahead, but I am confident we will achieve a fairer Yukon in the implementation of the Yukon First Nations final agreements and First Nations self-government agreements, settling the Yukon Indian land claim. The Government of Canada has a fiscal and a fiduciary responsibility for Yukon First Nations. We must urge the Government of Canada to meet its fiduciary responsibility for aboriginal people by providing adequate implementation funding for the Yukon First Nations final agreements and self-government agreements to the Council for Yukon Indians and the Government of Yukon.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I rise in support of this motion as well today.
I just have a few comments. I really believe that the motion we are dealing with last today is probably the most important motion we have dealt with all day. If there is not adequate funding for this agreement, the land claims we have spent 20 years developing and working on simply will not work.
It is time for all governments involved to put their money where their mouths are. The federal government is sponsoring this land claim and it is time for them to honour the agreements that so many people have put thousands of hours of work into developing.
I strongly support this motion. I urge the federal government to act on the intent of the motion.
Mr. Harding: I simply want to say that I am in full support of this motion. I hope that the Government of Canada acts responsibly and provides adequate levels of implementation funding.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This motion is particularly important to the department I handle. It is very critical that we get the funds to protect the wildlife.
I have travelled around to quite a few of the First Nations communities in the short time I have been Minister and it is quite apparent that they have great expectations that we are going to salvage the game and get it back. Whether people in this Legislature believe it or not, the game and the wildlife in the Yukon is in a very poor position. It is a fact of life and we had better start facing up to it.
It is also a fact of life that, despite the groups all over Canada and the world that are going after us, we must do a proper management job. This costs an awful lot of money, because we have to spend a lot of time trying to keep knives out of our backs while we do it. It is a fact of life, whether we like it or not. The days where we just went out and got rid of certain animals - particularly predators - to protect our other game, are gone. We now have to face groups from all over the whole world, which do not know what they are talking about. They climb all over us and threaten us, and threaten people who do not even have anything to do with it. The only way to counteract that is with the type of program we have here. It cost an awful lot of money and when we are short of money, this is not good.
If the government does not provide the money, we have two choices: we lose face with the First Nations and with the other hunters in the Yukon who expect to be able to go out and get their animal in the fall - and there is nothing wrong with that as people have lived this way for thousands of years. However, it can be salvaged, but it takes money. We have to prove everything we are doing. Right now, I have people going back into the Finlayson area, re-collaring wolves to prove that they are now back, more than they were when we started. This all costs money, but we have to do it. If we have to take it out of other programs in the Yukon, then other people are going to suffer. Whether the Government of Canada likes it or not, they are as responsible for this as anyone else. It does no good to cry over spilled milk. We are now in that position. They can be blamed as much as anyone in the Yukon or anywhere else.
There is no question that they must give us enough money. I support this motion solidly. It is a lot of money. It is not just a bit of money that we get once a year. Once this program starts and the studies go on, it will be a continual program and a continual fight to keep the game at a level that is acceptable. We will be able to prove, within two years, that we will have another area of the Yukon back.
As I travel around, First Nation after First Nation has asked me to come in and start in their area, because there are no caribou or moose left. This is ridiculous. It must be cleared up. The only way we are going to be able to do it is with lots of money so that we can prove what we are doing is right.
The rest of the world will climb all over you, because they do not understand what is going on up here.
Mr. Millar: I, too, rise to offer my support to this motion. To implement the process and ensure it works will require a sufficient amount of funding. I hope the federal government will see its way clear to ensure that enough money and people are provided to implement the Yukon First Nations final agreements.
Mr. Joe: I also support this motion. It is a very important motion. The implementation is important. If we have no money, how can we implement an agreement? I would like to see this House strongly support this.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I want to have it on record that I fully support the motion. I believe my colleague for Watson Lake verbalized it quite well when he said our leader would look after it. I definitely agree on the stubborn part. As to the old part, I am very close to our leaders age, so I will not go into that. On the other part, that has never been proven.
Mr. McDonald: I realize that slipping out of the Legislature for even a short moment means that you can miss quite a lot. I will have to check the Hansard about what was left unproven in the Member for Watson Lakes remark.
In the last few years, I have spent a great deal of time thinking through the financial consequences of the land claim. I will have a lot to say, in some detail, in the supplementary estimates.
The intent of the motion is one that I support wholeheartedly. The federal government clearly has the financial obligation to implement this claim. They must meet that obligation. In fact, the success of the land claim itself, over the long run, depends on the federal government living up to the promises they stated and implied during the negotiating process and while the deals were being signed.
In the interests of this claim and in the interests of the credibility of the federal government, they must respect the intent of this motion. I am certain that, in reading the transcripts of this debate, they will be in agreement with us.
There may be some people at various levels who will be operating under different agendas, particularly within the administration of the federal government. We must speak with one voice, and we must speak loudly, when it comes to the financial elements of this land claim, because that is something that will determine whether or not this claim is the success we want.
I support the motion, and I know that all my colleagues, particularly those who have spoken and even those who chose not to speak today, support the motion as well.
Speaker: The Hon. Government Leader will close debate if he now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: With some of the comments that have been made by some of my colleagues here - the last couple of speakers - I guess I should thank the Members opposite for the beautiful extended care facility across the river. I may need it soon. I wish they had left me enough money so that I could get it open.
I am not going to be long here, but I do want to put a couple of comments on the record in response to the Leader of the Official Opposition and some of the concerns he raised.
There is no doubt that the federal government has been very stingy with implementation funding and, yes, they are still trying to stick to the 1988 level of funding. That has been one of the problems - a very serious problem. Even though we feel that what is there now will be adequate to go ahead in a very frugal manner, we certainly are not happy with it. However, at the same time - as the Member opposite knows - we have four First Nations that want to get their agreement to the federal Cabinet prior to an election being called. That has caused some dilemma for the First Nations people and for ourselves, because the First Nations people are not happy with the funding, either. However, we are going to try to work within the amount of funding that we can pry out of the federal government at this point and hope that, in the renegotiation process, we will be able to get adequate funding for the entire implementation of the land claims.
I have a couple more comments. The Hon. Member of the Opposition spoke of one department, which he would not name but graphically illustrated, asking for $10 million or something like that. There is no doubt the departments did have massive wishlists for implementation funding - probably far too massive. They threw a number at it and hoped they could get the money.
I can assure the Member opposite that, in order to be able to get anywhere close to what we could operate with, they have had to go back and get that amount down to something our negotiators felt would be acceptable to the federal people, yet which would give us enough money to do the implementation so that we would not be holding up the process for the Yukon First Nations, who are wanting to get this agreement to the federal Cabinet prior to an election.
I believe that the federal government realizes the anxiety of the First Nations people to have these agreements ratified by federal legislation prior to an election. Therefore, they are being very hard-nosed in their negotiations for implementation funding.
I believe this motion is timely. I hope that this motion, along with the other two motions we passed in this House today, when forwarded to the federal government, will pry the purse-strings open somewhat so that we can get more dollars for implementation.
Speaker: Are you prepared for the question?
Some Hon. Members: Division.
Speaker: Division has been called.
Mr. Clerk, would you kindly poll the House.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Agreed.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Agreed.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Agreed.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Agreed.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Agreed.
Hon. Mr. Devries: Agreed.
Mr. Abel: Agreed.
Mr. Millar: Agreed.
Mr. Penikett: Agreed.
Mr. McDonald: Agreed.
Ms. Joe: Agreed.
Mr. Joe: Agreed.
Ms. Moorcroft: Agreed.
Mr. Harding: Agreed.
Mr. Cable: Agreed.
Mrs. Firth: Agreed.
Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 16 yea, nil nay.
Speaker: I declare the motion carried and, pursuant to unanimous agreement, this vote and the results of this division shall also apply to the previous two motions, Numbers 15 and 21.
Motions Numbers 15, 21 and 23 agreed to unanimously
Speaker: May I have your further pleasure.
Mrs. Firth: I move the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Member for Riverdale South that the House do now adjourn. Are you agreed?
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. Monday next.
The House adjourned at 5:12 p.m.
The following Legislative Return was tabled March 18, 1993:
Lake Laberge: contamination studies (Brewster)
Oral, Hansard, p. 132
The following Document was filed March 18, 1993:
Letter dated March 18, 1993, from C.K. Benner, President, Operations, Curragh Inc., to the Government Leader re: blackout on negotiations with respect to the loan guarantee to Curragh Inc. (Ostashek)