Thursday, April 15, 1993 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will begin with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Introduction of Visitors.
Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I have a press release and some legislative returns.
Mr. Brewster: I have a legislative return and a press release.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills.
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Curragh Inc., financial assistance
Mr. Penikett: Yesterday in this House the Minister of Economic Development said that Yukons $5 million stripping loan offer to Curragh was conditional upon the territory obtaining first charge on the Faro property. Could I ask the Government Leader: is this not essentially the same impossible condition that YTG set for the loan guarantee?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: It is certainly not an impossible condition that has been set. I will ask the Member opposite: is it his position that the territorial government should be advancing money to Curragh, which is under Companies Creditors Arrangement Act, without any security at all, because that is what the Member is asking.
I am not sure what the Member is asking.
Mr. Penikett: That has never been our position and everyone knows that, but if the Government Leader wants to trade places with me, I will be happy to answer his questions on this or any other subject - I see no response to that offer.
As the Government Leader said yesterday, the banks have apparently rejected this condition for both the loan guarantee and the stripping loan. I am forced to ask the Government Leader: if the Yukons lead-zinc mines are to be saved, what exactly is this governments next move, given that the conditions for both their proposals have been rejected by not Curragh, but the banks?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Our position remains the same. We are prepared to advance $5 million immediately if we can get some security for the taxpayers money. Security has not been forthcoming from the company. We are not prepared to advance any unsecured money.
Mr. Penikett: Does the Government Leader not understand that if his position remains the same and the banks position remains the same, the position of the mines will remain the same, too; they will essentially be shut not temporarily, but forever.
Can I ask the Government Leader what new initiative, mandate or proposal he has to break this deadlock and get to yes in these negotiations?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: He is asking me what new mandate I have. I have been prepared to go ahead with it at any time the company is prepared to move. We have to remember, this company is under court protection at the present time, and will be for some time to come, unless we can see a light at the end of the tunnel. The Member opposite is asking me to enhance the assets so that the bank can step in and and take it over, which is simply what the Member opposite did when he was Government Leader by giving them $5 million that has been floating across the ocean somewhere.
Question re: Curragh Inc., financial assistance
Mr. Penikett: If the Government Leader across the floor had done what we did, the stripping program would now be proceeding, the mine would be operating, and people would be working. The Government Leader keeps talking about the company. Let me ask the question of him another way: if the banks maintain their present position - forget Curragh for a minute - what possible hope can we have for a solution to this economic crisis?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I seem to recall a year ago in this House when the Member opposite said the $5 million was going to save the company. It was going to make everything good. The company would succeed and possibly never be back to government again. This government is prepared to get involved. I have been in discussions with Mr. Frame and have asked him what he is prepared to do at this point. As soon as I hear from him, we will assess any proposals that come forward from him.
Mr. Penikett: Is the Government Leader then saying that he is prepared to accept the suggestion made from this side, that the negotiations move to Whitehorse, that he get personally involved, and that since there are policy decisions that need to be made, that he and the policy makers for the banks and Curragh will sit down together to work out what is essentially a policy problem, since I take it that someone like Burns Fry is not in a position to make policy for the Yukon government, and should not be. Is he prepared to accept that suggestion now?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I always have been involved, on a daily basis for the last six months. We have been trying to find a solution to keep the company going. The reality of the situation is that the company is having a very difficult cashflow problem, which this government does not have enough money to solve. This government does not have enough money to solve that problem. We said we were prepared to help with the Grum stripping and we are still prepared to help with the Grum stripping.
Mr. Penikett: The point is, while the government may not be able to afford to help, we cannot afford not to help. We are not talking about a Curragh asset, with the Grum ore body, we are talking about a Yukon asset. Is the Government Leader telling us now that he is prepared to get directly involved, here and now, with Curragh and the other principals of these discussions in order to close some kind of arrangement, which clearly cannot be done by the Burns Fry people who have been at the table for weeks and weeks, with no progress.
We are going to hear from the Minister of Justice by way of a note.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The point is that I have been personally involved, on a daily basis. I was in touch with the people who were negotiating on our behalf just 10 minutes ago; I am prepared to get involved with Mr. Frame at any time I see there is any possibility of any movement. The ball is in Curraghs court and they have not come back with anything that is acceptable to the government at this point to have a basis for further negotiations.
Question re: Curragh Inc., financial assistance
Mr. Penikett: Whether we are dealing with land claims negotiations, collective bargaining with employees or arrangements with a major mining company, sooner our later the principals are going to have to get to the table and negotiate - if you are going to get results.
Given that the Government Leader has said yesterday, and again today, it is the banks that will not accept YTGs conditions, will he get involved in that front, either with new proposals or negotiations with those people to try and get some results?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I guess from the words that are coming from the other side of the House, I can understand why the Yukon territorial government ran up a $58 million deficit last year. I can understand that quite clearly, especially when they think they can just throw some money at something and it will heal and everything will be all right.
We are prepared to help the company to the extent that we can; we have always been, and I am involved on a daily basis.
Mr. Penikett: We have heard the Government Leader do math, as we have heard him speak English. He is the guy who described a 11-percent tax increase as a five-percent increase, so we know what kind of math he can do.
The record of the previous government - as defined in a report filed by the Minister of Education the other day - was the creation of 1,300 new jobs in the territory last year. That number of jobs has probably been lost since the time the Government Leader has been in office.
I want to know, in concrete terms - the impossible conditions have led nowhere - what concrete proposals is he going to make? I do not want to know that he is going to wait for Curragh or the banks; what new, concrete proposals is he going to make to be successful in reopening the mines?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Here we go again. The Member opposite would like us to handle the matter the way the previous administration did, by throwing an unsecured $5 million or $34 million at the company and hoping that the problem goes away. We want the problem resolved for the long term. To become involved at this point would not solve anything for anybody.
Mr. Penikett: If the government opposite did what the previous government did, we would have an eight-percent unemployment rate, not a 15.6-percent unemployment rate, as we have today.
Since the governments proposals so far have consisted of two proposals with impossible conditions attached, which the banks have already rejected, what new proposals, if any, does he have to break the impasse in these negotiations? Does he have anything to offer the people of Faro, the people of Watson Lake or the people of the Yukon - anything at all?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The fact remains - I have said it several times today, I said it yesterday and I will continue to say it - that the company is under CCAA. You have to have the cooperation of the company and its bankers.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Oh you do not have to? Now the Member tells me we do not have to have that cooperation - that we can just start stripping the Grum deposit. That is the kind of economics the side opposite proposes.
We are here prepared to become involved the first minute that we can.
Question re: Job creation
Mr. Cable: I have a question for the Minister of Economic Development; it is following up on job creation. I note from the Business Development Assistance Act that one of the terms of reference is that there be a net increase in the number of job opportunities, or that the present jobs be put in a holding pattern, so they are retained.
Does the Minister of Economic Development administer the Economic Development Agreement with the same view in mind that one of the major determinants for granting financial assistance, or any program involved, has as its goal the creation of jobs, or the retention of Yukon jobs?
Hon. Mr. Devries: Yes, that is the mandate of the EDA. There is a committee in the Yukon that decides how that money is distributed and, when various projects are put forward, a lot of the consideration goes toward the creation of jobs and maintaining the job market.
Mr. Cable: What, if any, records are kept at the time the funds are advanced, as to the number of jobs? Is there on file some computer accumulation of the number of jobs created at the time the monies are actually advanced?
Hon. Mr. Devries: That opens the EDA up to other things, in that much of the EDA money, at this point, is eaten up by various arms of government itself - for instance, the federal government, in various projects like forestry, determining forestry inventory, et cetera. The department has an ongoing list of projects that fit within the economic development area. There would be records kept of how many people are employed and the success of various projects, yes.
Mr. Cable: Let us just focus on the business development fund for a moment. Are there records kept over the long term as to the retention of jobs? Are these records readily available for production?
Hon. Mr. Devries: First, I will clarify that the business development fund is not part of the EDA. It is a YTG fund.
Yes, there are records kept of the projects and the success of those projects. I would have to get back to the Member on whether there is a breakdown of the actual number of people employed in those projects.
Question re: Faro contingency plan
Mr. Harding: I have a question for the Minister of Economic Development regarding the Faro contingency plan.
The Minister of Economic Development has been told and the people working on the contingency plan were told by Faroites that one of the concerns of the people was with regard to housing. Some people have racked up a lot of rent in arrears because of financial hardship; some people are on a rental purchase agreement with Faro Real Estate, and some own their homes outright. I would like to know what the government is planning to do in terms of assistance to help alleviate some of the problems the people in Faro are experiencing with housing.
Hon. Mr. Devries: Some of that is administered by Yukon Housing, but I will attempt to answer it in the best way I can. I understand there are some home owners who are in arrears by as much as 18 months, and there are concerns for them, but I assure the Member that, at this point, no one will be evicted because of back rent - although I must add that there are discussions ongoing with those people who are in arrears by 18 months.
Mr. Harding: I would like to get a more specific answer from the Minister on that. I also want to point out that this is a problem; he has been told before but I am giving the Minister notice once again that there are problems with people who are in arrears with their rent because of financial hardship; there are people on rent-to-purchase and home ownership agreements who are in very serious trouble with regard to their houses and their homes, and the apartments and buildings they rent.
Can I ask the Minister to provide me with a more specific answer as to what the government is prepared to make in terms of a commitment to the people there in Faro, with regard to the contingency plan?
Hon. Mr. Devries: Again, I will say that, in the contingency plan, there are instructions not to place undue hardships on people. If this is because they are behind in their rent, et cetera, those situations will be taken care of on a one-by-one basis. They can rest assured that they will have a roof over their heads and will be okay.
Mr. Harding: Another issue that is concerning a lot of people with regard to the contingency plan is that, at the town meeting attended by the Government Leader and the Minister of Economic Development in Faro on January 21, questions were put to the government asking if the government would be ensuring that the people of Faro received holiday pay, severance pay and also wages owing from the company, Curragh Incorporated, to the employees. It is my understanding now that there are some problems in that respect. Could the government tell me what they are doing with regard to that matter?
Hon. Mr. Devries: Again, I will say to the Member for Faro that we are very aware of this and, as far as severance pay and vacation pay are concerned at this point, the discussions should be between the employees and Curragh itself, because the company is still there; the company has not been abandoned, and my understanding is that, once the company is put into receivership or whatever, that is when it becomes more of a government matter than it is at this stage.
Question re: Faro contingency plan
Mr. Harding: I would like to follow up on that matter once again, because I do not believe the time - just like with the contingency plan - is to wait until receivership before that is dealt with. There is a request by Curragh now for some financial assistance; I would think it would be quite easy to make it conditional upon some kind of a commitment by Curragh to make sure that these wages were paid to the people in Faro who are now in arrears as regards wages, severance pay, vacation pay, and those areas. Could you please tell me what the government is going to do about it?
Hon. Mr. Devries: Again, if the Member looks closely at the conditions that are placed upon Curragh for the $34 million loan guarantee, or even the $5 million loan guarantee, he will see that if the various banks and Curragh allow that project to go ahead, the company would be in a position to look after those needs.
Mr. Harding: We do not know what conditions are still on the table, what conditions are still being negotiated, who Burns Fry is negotiating for and what exactly the governments agenda really is in this matter. I do not feel very comfortable, on behalf of my constituents, with that answer.
I am asking the Minister is to tell me, specifically with regard to the severance pay, holiday pay and wages in arrears, what they are going to do in terms of dealing with Curragh to ensure that the people in my community receive those monies that are due to them.
Hon. Mr. Devries: Almost half the people who are unemployed as a result of Curragh are in Watson Lake and Whitehorse. There are truck drivers and others. We are talking about more than just Faro. This could be a huge sum of money. I can assure the Member that discussions are ongoing on some of these issues. At this point it is mainly about vacation pay.
Again, I feel that with the $5 million and $34 million on the table and the ongoing negotiations with Curragh, as long as the company keeps operating, there is very little we can do.
Mr. Harding: Let me ask the Minister of Economic Development what the government is going to do on behalf of the workers in Faro, Whitehorse and Watson Lake who are affected? They may lose severance pay, wages that are due and are now in arrears, and holiday pay. What are they specifically going to do for those workers in all of the communities - not just Faro?
Hon. Mr. Devries: Again, I must say that right now it is a matter of giving the company the opportunity to see what is going to happen with the CCAA application. For workers who decide to move on, there is money available to assist them in moving, providing they are in financial need. There is also a system in place that if they wish to borrow money, through UIC or whatever, they can do that and pay it back after they relocate and get a job.
Question re: Justice, Yukon Party election promises
Ms. Joe: It is Law Day today and I have some questions for the Minister of Justice with regard to election promises that were made during the election. I know he is not taking any responsibility for election promises made by the happy coalition, but under family violence, in promise number one, under stopping crime, they promised to urge the courts to give stricter sentences in cases involving family violence against women and children. They promised to ensure that men who are guilty of this abuse take proper counselling and other rehabilitative programs. Can the Government Leader or the Minister of Justice tell us what action their government has taken so far to fulfill this promise?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am pleased that it is Law Day, and very pleased that it has prompted the Minister to ask me new questions. It was getting awfully dull over here for awhile. With respect to the issue of family violence, it is very definitely a top priority of this government, as we heard many times over the years that it was a top priority of the side opposite when they were in power. This government is proceeding to beef up the family violence program. We are expecting very shortly the report that was commissioned by the previous Cabinet committee on social issues, composed of the major players in the court system, to look at the gaps and what can be done to strengthen the family violence program. There is a broad array of programs that both Health and Social Services and Justice have in play that impact on the issue of family violence. All of these are going to be strengthened over the course of the duration of our time in this happy coalition.
Speaker: Order please. Would the Minister try to conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I do want to say that we are also recognizing the very serious family violence issues in the small communities, which seems to be the first recognition that has really been given to the very serious problems out there by any government. We look forward to taking serious steps that will work to help solve the diverse problems that violence gives rise to over the next few months and years.
Ms. Joe: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing that long speech. I am not really sure about the priority. The new budget tells us that they have decreased funding for the safe homes in communities, and Kaushees Place. In promise number two, under stopping crime, under family violence, they also promise to upgrade and increase family counselling services on a priority basis. That is a pretty broad statement and I do not know whether or not he answered it in his long speech, but I would like to know whether or not they have started that process of upgrading counselling services.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I think the answer is yes. I did answer it in my previous answer.
Ms. Joe: The first answer he gave was pretty broad. I do not know whether he has ever seen the Yukon Party four-year plan, but in promise number three it says the government will work with community organizations and First Nations on educational programs and that violence against women and child abuse will not be tolerated. I would like to know if the Member can tell us whether or not his happy coalition has done anything more with that.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: To put a non-partisan and serious light on the question, because I am sure it is not a partisan question that she is asking, I can tell the Member that in Justice, the funding in the mains, as she will see when we finally get to the budget that is before this House, has gone up each year and has gone up again this year under the family violence program itself. We are very serious about increasing the funding and improving the programs, but we are not going to do it overnight. I can speak as well on the family violence initiatives in the Department of Health and Social Services; I could talk at length about each of these. There is the child abuse treatment services. There is the child welfare services, which has various programs attached to it. There is professional and para-professional training that offers training sessions several times a year for professionals and para-professionals.
Speaker: The Minister has 15 seconds to conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Clearly, we are doing so much that time will not permit me to really reassure the Member as to our true commitment to this.
Question re: Justice, Yukon Party election promises
Ms. Joe: I have another question in regard to promises by the Yukon Party, under reducing vandalism. They promised to encourage parents to be responsible for the conduct of their children and to exert pressure on their peers to respect law and order and to care about themselves.
Can the Minister of Justice tell me what he has done in regard to that promise by the Yukon Party?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Many of the programs I would like to talk more about - I know I will get the chance when we finally get to the mains, and we are able to talk about all these exciting programs that are offered by the departments that I am fortunate enough to be Minister of - deal indirectly with the issue she has raised in such a capricious manner. We are also considering some initiatives that might even involve the Member herself in helping us resolve some of these problems in respect to vandalism and crime among juveniles.
Ms. Joe: A lot of these election promises are not going to cost a lot of new money, or any new money, especially the next one.
The Yukon Party also promised to establish a Neighbourhood Watch program to augment the existing Crime Stoppers program.
Can the Minister tell me what they have done to put that program in place?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The Member for Faro says it is under review. We are supposed to do more in four months than the side opposite did in total in seven and one-half years on issues that were not even dealt with by the side opposite, even in a modest way, and they were more than seven years in office.
We will do a much better job in our mandate which is, as I understand it, close to four years, than they did in seven years. I will promise the side opposite that.
Ms. Joe: I can tell this House right now that constituents are wondering if they are ever going to start doing anything.
They also promised to lobby the federal government to amend the Young Offenders Act so that young offenders can be named.
Has the Minister had any contact with the federal government, by letter or by phone? If he has, could he table that information in this House?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: That will not be necessary, because I have not.
Question re: Special assistant to Cabinet
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Government Leader. Last evening, the Government Leader revealed that the transition team positions are now permanent positions. Those positions are at the same pay range of an MG8, which is $72,000 to $93,704. Those positions are for the communications advisor, the Principal Secretary and the new position of special assistant to Cabinet.
The special assistant to Cabinet does not have a budget or staff complement at this present time. I would like to ask the Government Leader when he anticipates giving this person assistance and a separate budget to do his job? I would also like to know how much money will be available in that budget?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The special assistant works under the Executive Council budget.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps the Government Leader can tell us what his budget and staff complement is.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Whenever we get around to the mains, I will be glad to reveal that information.
Mrs. Firth: I do not understand why the Government Leader cannot tell us that information.
Perhaps I could be more specific. One of the duties of the special assistant is to monitor the effectiveness of policies of the government and public reaction, and I would like to know if this person is going to have the ability to commission polls on behalf of the government, or how is this person supposed to carry out this function for government?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Once we get into the mains I will be happy to explain that to the Member.
Question re: Forestry, raw log exports
Ms. Moorcroft: During the territorial election campaign, the Yukon Party published a four-year plan entitled, Our Commitment For Economic and Environmental Change. This publication committed the Yukon Party to, encourage the development of secondary industries, rather than allow raw logs exports, yet in Question Period on Tuesday, the Minister of Renewable Resources confessed that no policy on raw log exports had yet been taken to Cabinet.
Given that this government has no formally adopted policy on this subject, what position on raw log exports did the government take when they worked very closely with the federal government to develop its draft policy for the export of raw logs?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The only people shipping out raw logs now is the Kaska Nation, which is much the same policy that the former government used.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to thank the real Yukoner Minister for that very vague explanation. The Minister has not clarified the nature of the Yukon governments contribution to the federal plan. Does the Yukon government have any plans to consult the public, such as through the Yukon Council on the Environment and the Economy, on an appropriate forest management policy for the territory in view of the impending transfer of forestry responsibilities?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The impending transfer could be a year and a half away. The federal government, in consultation with us, is now preparing a paper that will go out to the public.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister also said, when he was speaking about the draft export policy, that we will have our say on what happens. Does this mean that the Yukon government has been promised a veto over that final federal policy, or how is it that the Minister is going to encourage the development of secondary industries, as they promised to do, rather than allow raw log exports?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We do not have veto over it. All we can do is consult with them and try to convince them to do what we do. They have been very cooperative to date.
Question re: Caribou livers, cadmium levels
Mr. Cable: I have a question for the Minister of Health and Human Resources. There have been repeated but contradictory reports on cadmium in the livers of caribou in the Finlayson and Porcupine herds. Can the Minister report what the government has done to remove the uncertainty surrounding the consumption of these livers by the people in Old Crow and Ross River?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The department has been meeting with the groups affected. A working group has been set up involving officials of Health and Social Services and Renewable Resources and members of the Kaska nation, to deal with the people, to explain what is happening and try to reassure them with respect to the safety of caribou meat generally, with the exception of the questionable organs - liver and kidneys - so that their diet is not adversely affected by the almost hysterical announcements that came out as a result of the federal governments examinations.
Speaker: Would the Minister please conclude his answer?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Certainly, I would be delighted to. There has been extensive consultation with the people of Old Crow and they are looking at conducting certain tests to ascertain what level, if any, of cadmium is found in the people who are on a caribou diet.
Mr. Cable: I learned from a news report, albeit one month old, that the Ross River Dena Council has hired an elder to travel to all the hunting camps to warn people about the dangers of eating caribou organs. Does this indicate that this government is in opposition to the view taken by the Ross River Dena Council as to the safety of the consumption of these organs?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Absolutely not. I am surprised by the suggestion the hon. Member makes. The information person was hired as a result of the consultation between my department and the Kaska Council. It is part of the program to reassure them as to the safety of the rest of the animal in their diet. That is the primary focus. This has been done as a result of the consultation and cooperative approach to this issue that came up out of the blue as a result of actions taken by the federal government.
Mr. Cable: Has the government or the Minister reached some conclusion about the source of the cadmium? Is it airborne, water borne or from the land?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: No. I do not pretend to be a scientist, although I know the Member for Faro pretends to be an economic guru.
I can tell the Member this: there are traces of cadmium in other herds across Canada that have been tested. It is suspected that the contaminants were airborne, probably from the Soviet Union. It is a problem we face increasingly here in the Yukon, because we do have contaminants being carried by the air that are coming down in the form of rain all over Canada in increasing amounts.
Question re: Womens studies program
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister of Education is in the unique position of also being the Minister responsible for the Womens Directorate. My question has to do with the womens studies program proposal at the college, which a group of volunteers expended considerable energy to develop. Does the Minister support the concept of a womens studies program at Yukon College and understand its importance?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, I do understand the importance of a womens studies program at the college, but I also understand that the college board itself is having some discussions as to whether or not that program will be implemented.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister has endorsed the spirit of the Education Act, which advocates the development of an understanding of the historical and contemporary role of women and the reinforcement of the principle of gender equality and the contribution of women to society. I would like to ask the Minister if he will work to find a way to fund womens studies as a priority, given the cuts to the colleges core budget.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I had an eye on the money I could have used for those programs. It was in the $58 million that got spent last year. We have to deal within the budget constraints we have.
I will be announcing in the near future, in this House, some initiatives relating to womens studies that I think the Member will be quite pleased with. We are just formalizing those programs. I will be making that announcement to the House in the near future.
Ms. Moorcroft: I will look forward to that, but having a cross-divisional womens studies program at Yukon College would represent a significant change and an improvement in the education of Yukoners. Since the college board of governors has supported and approved a womens studies program for the college, and given that the Minister has reiterated his support for the program, when can we anticipate the enrollment for the program to begin?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will go back to check the minutes of the college board that I read recently because I remember reading something in those minutes about some thought about implementing womens studies within each individual program rather than a separate complete program for womens studies; there was some dissension, even among the members of the board, on that issue.
I will go back to the minutes and get back to the Member on that and report back to her on the concerns that members of the college faculty and the board have about a womens studies program at that college.
Speaker: Time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I now call the Committee of the Whole to order.
At this time, is it the wish of Committee Members to take a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We will be discussing Bill No. 4, entitled Second Appropriation Act, 1992-93.
Bill No. 4: - Second Appropriation Act, 1992-93
Executive Council Office - continued
Chair: Is there any further general debate on the Executive Council Office?
Mrs. Firth: Now that we are in the budget, perhaps I could follow up with the Minister of Finance on the questions I had put to him during Question Period regarding the budgetary allotment for the position of special assistant to Cabinet.
In the job description, the government indicates there is no staff complement or budget attached to this position at the present time; however, assessment of the programs and implementation of new policy and procedure directives by the incumbent may impact on all department operations.
Could the Minister tell me when he anticipates a budget being allocated to this position, as well as some person years?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: When we get to the main estimates, I will be happy to get into a detailed explanation. We are now dealing with the supplementaries, and we have been on general debate of the Executive Council Office for six hours. We have gone through the Land Claims Secretariat, Public Affairs, Policy and Planning, French and Aboriginal Languages, Bureau of Management Improvement and Cabinet Support. We have already gone through this department line by line in six hours of general debate. I will deal with the issues that pertain to the supplementaries, and I will deal with the other budgeted items in our mains.
Mrs. Firth: I am trying to be as cooperative as I can when I ask my questions. This budgetary item certainly would have been included in the supplementary budget. I see the Minister of Finance shaking his head and saying no. I wish to remind the Minister that, last evening, when I questioned him about the specific term of this position, he indicated to me that it had been there since November. The supplementaries are dealing with the time period from November until the present time.
I am asking general policy questions that are appropriate in general debate on this particular area. In light of this being a new policy initiative of the government, and a new position, there would have been additional funds required in this department. It is very appropriate that it be debated at this time. Depending on the answers I get, there may be no future questions to be asked in the main budget.
Mrs. Firth: I am interested in finding out how this position was established, the costs attached to the position and the general policy direction of the government.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: As the Member opposite knows, that position consisted of working with the transition team during the entire period of the supplementaries. The position is there and we will discuss it in the main budget, but if the Member is looking for a special budget for that position, there is none. The money comes from the Cabinet support budget.
Mrs. Firth: I have a concern about the Minister contradicting himself. Last night I asked about this specific position and whether or not this individual was hired under contract or as a member of the transition team. I also asked when the special assistant to Cabinet position started.
Last night the Government Leader told me that this job started in November and that there was not a special contract for the individual to work as a Member of the transition team.
Now the Government Leader is telling me that this job did not start then and that there was some other budget allocation of money while he was a transition team person and not an allocation for this special assistant to Cabinet.
Perhaps the Minister would like to clarify this and tell us what the real answer is.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member is having trouble understanding me. We did not say that there was a contract for the position; the position was established in the Cabinet office and the occupant worked with the transition team during the transition period. The position was retained as a special advisor to Cabinet. One of the individuals duties as a special assistant was dealing with the transition team.
Mrs. Firth: It would be appropriate, then, for me to ask about expenditures during this supplementary period. There would have been some expenditures attached to the position during the supplementary period. Could the Government Leader tell us what amount of money was attached, other than the individuals salary?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: When we get to line-by-line debate, we can do that. There was only his salary; there was no special budget for that position.
Mrs. Firth: That brings me back to my original question: since there is no budget attached to it or staff complement at the present time, when does the Government Leader anticipate that he will be looking at establishing a budget and a person year complement for this position?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not know what the Member is talking about. The position is a special assistant to me and Cabinet. He works out of my budget.
Mrs. Firth: In the legislative return that was tabled today - the position description - on the second page it refers to the organizational structure. It describes the special assistant as reporting to the Government Leader but working with all Members of Cabinet, the independence existing in formulating recommendations, implementing strategic initiatives, and so on. It makes mention that there is no staff complement or budget attached to the position at the present time.
Is the Minister saying that there is never going to be a special budgetary item or person year complement attached to this position? If there is not, why would they put that in the job description?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member has answered her own question. There is nothing relevant in the supplementaries, outside of the mans salary. There is no budget attached to it.
Mrs. Firth: Is there ever going to be? I did not answer my own question. If he is never going to have his own budget or staff, why did they put in here that they do not have any attached at the present time. That leads me to believe that at some time they are going to be identifying and allocating these items.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Maybe if this position was delegated to do a special job, there may be a time when monies might be attached to it. At the present time there is not, and I do not foresee any in the immediate future.
Mrs. Firth: What kind of special job would require that?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: It is hard for me to speculate on that at this point.
Mrs. Firth: So actually what the Minister is saying is that he does not know what kind of special job it would be.
Perhaps I could move on to the point in the job description regarding issues management. This particular aspect of this individuals job responsibility includes providing advice and support to the Government Leader and Members of Cabinet on the management of contentious issues, by doing two things: to monitor the effectiveness of, and public reaction to, government policies and programs and recommend a course of action, and to provide timely and sensitive advice on the management of contentious issues. I would like to ask the Minister responsible how this person has been fulfilling the requirements of this job through this supplementary budget period. What has he been doing in this job?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: What could be called one of the contentious issues was the transition of government. That position was responsible for coordinating that with Cabinet and providing advice to Cabinet.
Mrs. Firth: In my humble opinion, a lot of the public issues that have been dealt with have been contentious, not perhaps because of the decisions that have been made, but in the way the issues have been dealt with and handled publicly. I would like to ask the Government Leader, would this particular function have attached to it certain public relations aspects? How does this coordinate with the responsibilities of the communications advisor to Cabinet?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: There is no special public relations attached to the position.
Mrs. Firth: How does the person monitor public reaction to government policies if there is no public relations attached to the position?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: There are various ways of monitoring public reaction.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps the Government Leader can tell us how this person does this, so we could be better informed about how they are doing their job.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: If the Member would like me to expand, I will bring a written reply to the House. I am not going to stand here and try to speculate on every question she is liable to put forward today.
Mrs. Firth: I am not asking the Minister responsible to speculate. He hired this person; he is the one who is giving this person direction on how to do his job. All I am trying to find out, as a Member of this House, is how this person is supposed to be doing his job so that when I am asked by someone in the public what this persons job responsibilities are, I can pass that information on.
If the Government Leader cannot answer because he does not know, he can say so and bring me back the information. I am not here to get into some kind of a challenge; I am simply trying to find out information. I would like to know how this person has been doing that part of the job so far and whether the Government Leader feels he has been doing a good job.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The title of special assistant describes the job itself. He is acting as a special assistant to me and to Cabinet. He has been given various duties to perform; for example, to liaise between the Cabinet and the departments during the restructuring phase. He will bring advice back to Cabinet and make recommendations that Cabinet will then make policy decisions on.
Mrs. Firth: It also says that this individual has the ability to make assessments of government programs and recommendations regarding implementation of new policies, and that it can have an impact on departmental operations. I would like to ask the Minister responsible just what authority this individual has when it comes to going into departments. Does he have access to all government records and government information in his assessing of whether the department should be restructured and in making his recommendations to Cabinet?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Not at all. He acts as a liaison between Cabinet and the departments.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell us exactly what that means? I would like the Government Leader to tell me what that means. If this individual is going to be making recommendations to the Cabinet about restructuring departments, he is going to be looking at jobs, at program evaluation, at whether people are performing their jobs efficiently - he cannot just go into a department, take a cruise through it and come out and say, I liaised with everybody; there were three guys sitting there reading books and not doing their job and perhaps we could restructure that area. We only need three people there instead of two or four. I would like to get some idea of exactly what the authority this individual has in his relationship with the government departments.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member is making a big issue out of something that is not a big issue. He is acting as a liaison between me or Cabinet and the departments. When I talk about the departments, that is with the deputy ministers of the departments. He consults on our behalf with them and brings back recommendations; and whatever instructions are necessary are given from Cabinet. He does not make the decisions.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps I can approach it from another direction. This person has the ability, as the special assistant to Cabinet, to go into departments. He has to go there, otherwise how is he going to recommend anything? He cannot do it at an arms distance; he has to have the ability to go and talk to people and discuss issues and discuss performance and job-related duties and so on if he is going to make any recommendations to Cabinet regarding the structure of government.
As to exactly what that individuals authority is could be very intimidating to some employees and to directors and to managers. The Government Leader has already said that he cannot have access to records and files and so on, so he is going to have to talk to people to get information from them. I just want to know how this relationship is going to work and whether this individual is going to operate on the same basis as the consultant from Kelowna when he went into departments and had active conversations with department staff, perhaps indicating to them judgments about their work performance and their efficiency and their value as government and public servants.
I am not trying to be combative or controversial; I am simply trying to get a better understanding of how this individual is going to do his job and the kind of relationship he is going to have with the public service, with whom he is doing his job.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not know how I should answer the Member; I will bring her a written response.
Mr. Penikett: The Government Leader indicated in his earlier remarks the ground that we had covered. He did say that we finished with land claims. I want to assure him that I have not asked him any questions about that area yet and I still want to.
May I ask the Government Leader about the material that we received today? We were presented with an organization chart of the Executive Council Office that is not dated. What is the effective date of the organization chart given to us? I should emphasize that I am not asking about the person years and dollars in the chart, I am asking about the structure.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: That is one of the issues that we can deal with in the main estimates. The organization chart will be effective as of May 1.
Mr. Penikett: In the supplementary under discussion and throughout the period of discussion, the Cabinet Secretary continued to be the chief negotiator for land claims, is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Yes, that is correct.
Mr. Penikett: Is that a situation that continues up to March 31 and beyond or is it a situation that ends March 31, at the end of this supplementary?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Again, we can talk about that in the main estimates; the Member is now discussing items that relate to the main estimates.
Mr. Penikett: I would be happy to get to the main estimates; unfortunately, I have not received answers to the questions that I wanted answered in the supplementaries that are necessary to get before we discuss the main estimates.
Let me ask the Government Leader again about the decision made with respect to this supplementary and the reporting relationships in the Executive Council Office. The chart indicates that the chief land claims negotiator would report to the deputy minister, but in this case the chief land claims negotiator is also the deputy minister. Is the decision that was made in this supplementary that this position will be a permanent structure or permanent part of the organization for the Executive Council Office?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: At the present time and for the foreseeable future, the answer is yes.
Mr. Penikett: The chief negotiator and the Cabinet Secretary are both excellent individuals. They are well-educated, well-qualified and experienced in the public service. However, could I ask the Government Leader if he thinks it is sustainable, in the long term, to have the Cabinet Secretary, the most senior public servant in the government, also devoted to what is essentially a full-time job - perhaps more than a full-time job - as the chief land claims negotiator?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We have gone through a very difficult six months of negotiations and it seems to have worked very well.
Mr. Penikett: I take it from the Government Leader that he regards that as a permanent sustainable arrangement. It is my experience that when one actually gets into negotiations - and we have not been at the table for the last six months with most of the First Nations - that the chief negotiator may be required to work 12 or 14 hours a day. I find it difficult to imagine how a chief negotiator could do that and carry out the duties of Cabinet Secretary, be the chair of the deputy ministers group and provide direction to the Deputy Cabinet Secretary and all the other branches of the ECO. Can the Government Leader explain how that will be done?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The chief land claims negotiator is also supported by the principal negotiators in the land claims process. As well, we also have an ADM who assists in the Executive Council Office.
Mr. Penikett: That, forgive me, is the point. The ADM is not in the chain of command with respect to land claims. According to this organization chart, he is in a separate chain of command. The Government Leader will forgive me for saying this, but I have some experience in these matters. When one is negotiating around the clock or near the end of negotiations with a First Nation, the chief negotiator will be required to give instructions to the table on the hour and be at the table. If the chief negotiator is at the table, they will not also be able to be at the Cabinet table and the deputy ministers table.
I ask this question of the Government Leader for serious reasons. I am concerned about the operations of government and land claims negotiations. There is no malice in the question at all. I had a person who Dr. McTiernan knows well and a person who I would describe - even though he was much maligned in this House - as absolutely brilliant, who tried to do the job of Cabinet Secretary and chief land claims negotiator during a period of intense negotiations for a number of months, and it was an untenable position for that person in the long run. Can I ask the Government Leader this: if he has a similar experience once they get negotiating with First Nations, will he be willing to review that arrangement?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We are prepared to review that arrangement at any time. The Member opposite must remember that, in my humble opinion, land claims negotiations are now starting to wind down. Once we get through these first four ratified agreements, I feel the rest will go quite quickly and will not be running into the problems that have been run into over the last 20 years, because they have sort of a road map to follow. While there will be some intense negotiations, there are going to be times when they are not going to be nearly as intense as the other First Nations come to the table, because there is a road map for them to follow laid out by the first four First Nations that blazed a trail and showed them what needed to be done.
I believe negotiations will not be nearly so intense. If we ever got into that situation, we would certainly review the mandate of the land claims chief negotiator and make the necessary changes.
Mr. Penikett: I sincerely hope the Government Leader is right, that the negotiations from here on in are completely hassle-free, that everything moves smoothly, that there are no differences of opinion of great consequence between the government and First Nations. I would also say that, frankly, I would be extremely surprised if that were to be the case. If you just think of the opening words of Finnegans Wake, you will know full well that things do not always run smoothly.
Let me just give the Government Leader an example of what I think is likely to happen. Among the next group of First Nations to come to the table will be the two from the Whitehorse area - the Taan Dun and the Kwanlin Dun. I suspect the land selections they make, and the governments response to that, will be quite controversial, in some respects, and will require a lot of negotiating time, a lot of the Government Leaders time and the Cabinets time. I make this as a representation.
I suspect the Government Leader may quickly find that the kind of intensity and complexity of negotiations with the two Whitehorse First Nations, for example, notwithstanding the fact that we have passed the legislation, even on just one issue alone - that of land selections - and the need to keep the city council informed, put out political fires, to deal with the media between the many competing interests and claims for land in this area will be, by itself, a full-time job.
I do not want to jump into the line-by-line material, but is the Land Claims Secretariat fully staffed, at least with negotiators, at this point?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: No, we have one principal negotiator position to fill.
Mr. Penikett: Is that vacant position assigned to any area? Or maybe I can put the question the other way. Are the other principal negotiators assigned to particular First Nation negotiations already?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Not at the present time, but it is quite likely that the new position, once it is filled, will concentrate on Whitehorse.
Mr. Penikett: I do have some other questions on other areas, although I could wait until general debate on the mains to ask them. I would be prepared, subject to other Members here having general questions in general debate, to move into the first line, which is land claims, subject to the understanding that any questions that are not able to be answered now, would be answered by the time we get to the Executive Council Office mains.
Ms. Moorcroft: I have a policy question for the Government Leader. I would like to return to an issue we were discussing yesterday regarding The Sluice Box. I would like to ask the Government Leader, will The Sluice Box publish any feature articles by Members of the Yukon Party government political staff in future?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: That issue was discussed in detail yesterday. As it pertains to the future, we will discuss it when we get to the mains.
Mr. Harding: I fail to see, when the undertaking happened in the last fiscal year and we are discussing the supplementary estimates, why the Government Leader cannot give us a simple answer, as a matter of policy, as to whether or not they were going to be publishing articles by political staff hired for political purposes by the government in The Sluice Box. Could he please tell us?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We will deal with that issue in the mains.
Mr. Harding: I have to say again that we are dealing with an issue that happened in the last fiscal year. The work that was undertaken was done by someone who was paid in the last fiscal year. We are discussing the supplementary estimates, which constitute money spent in the last fiscal year. Could the Government Leader please tell me why he would not discuss it at this time?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: As I said, we spent six hours going through the general debate on the Executive Council Office; we have covered each and every one of these issues in great detail. There will be a legislative return filed on The Sluice Box in the near future. Until then, I will not be addressing the issue again.
Mr. Harding: I have a question, not related to that, although some of my colleagues might want to get back to that. The Government Leader and I engaged in some lengthy, lengthy debate with regard to the Consulting and Audit Canada report. Some have called it the Insulting and Audit Canada report, the phony forecast that was undertaken for political purposes. I made a request many times to the Government Leader to provide me with some information on this past Tuesday. I was not provided with the information. I asked for the dates the departments submitted their information that formed the basis of the report to Consulting and Audit Canada. Could the Government Leader tell me why I have not received that information?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I will check on that.
Mr. Harding: I thank the Government Leader for saying he will check on it. Could he give me a commitment, seeing as the previous commitment was not met. Could he give me a date when he will get back to me with an answer?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: As I said, I will check on the matter.
Mr. Harding: The Government Leader will have to forgive me but he made a commitment and I was quite leery about whether or not he would follow through on it. I was not able to nail him down to a specific date as to when he would get back to me. He told me he would get on it as quickly as he could. A week has gone by. I asked for a commitment for the information to be provided by Tuesday of this week and this was not upheld by the Government Leader. Could he give me an answer within the next week?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Point of order.
Chair: Point of order.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We are dealing with the Executive Council Office, not Consulting and Audit Canada.
Chair: On the point of order, Mr. Harding.
Mr. Harding: The document prepared by Consulting and Audit Canada was paid for by the government of the Yukon through the Executive Council Office; therefore, it constitutes an expense of taxpayers money and it think it is quite appropriate to discuss it in the context of general debate, especially when commitments were made to the Member for Faro, me, to bring back information about it. He would not have done that in the first place if he did not accept that it should be debated in this context.
Chair: I find there is no point of order because it was under the ECO. The Minister, however, is not required to answer any questions he chooses not to. Continue, Mr. Harding.
Mr. Harding: We are learning quite quickly that the Government Leader is not prepared to answer many of our questions and it is getting a little bit frustrating because we do have a number of very interesting things we have to pursue with the government.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Chair: Order please. Continue, Mr. Harding.
Mr. Harding: Contrary to what they may think, it is getting a little frustrating as we try to get answers to these very important questions.
I was told on a point of order by the Member for Riverdale North that I should accept the Government Leaders commitment to get back to me, which I ended up having to do, and I asked many times if he would have the information by next Tuesday; it did not come to me. It is very frustrating. It is very important information that I made a request for. Now I am making a simple request that he give me a reason as to why it was not produced this week and make a commitment to produce it for me next week. Could he please do that?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: If the Members opposite would get on with the job and the task at hand of discussing the supplementaries, maybe they would find a little more cooperation from this side of the House. Six hours on Executive Council Office - two hours on Legislative Assembly - unheard of in this Legislature. Ten minutes is usually the most time spent on Legislative Assembly - but two hours. They are filibustering, and we are not getting anywhere. We are spending thousands and thousands of taxpayers dollars here just to satisfy the Leader of the Official Opposition because he is still hurting from being defeated. I said I would check on the matter, and I will check on the matter.
Mr. Penikett: With the greatest of respect, the Member opposite is a new Member here. He does not know what he is talking about. He is complaining about six hours on one department - I have sat here for six days on one department. The Government Leader opposite leads a new government, which made tons of ridiculous promises during the election campaign - major changes in direction. We have been through the Executive Council Office so far; we have not found a single change in policy on anything, except that they have cancelled the decentralization program and cut a couple of jobs.
If the Government Leader wants to get out of here, he can start answering some questions. We have asked hundreds and hundreds of questions he has not given us any answers to. The economy is falling apart. He is doing nothing. He has killed the Taga Ku project. We do not know what he is doing with land claims implementation. We have asked questions about decentralization; he says he agrees with our policy - the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes says it is stupid. He agrees with our policy but he is doing nothing.
The only weapon the Opposition has is to ask questions. That is our right. He talks about wasting money. That is what we are paid to do. The only time the public thinks we are here and doing our job is when we are asking the Members questions.
Mr. Fisher over there does not like it. He does not like answering questions; he does not like being accountable. Well, it is different being a Minister than it is being a bureaucrat. He is going to have to answer questions here because we represent the citizens as much as he does, and those are the citizens questions.
If the Member opposite does not have respect for democracy, I can respect the election decision - he is over there; we are over here now. Our job now is to ask the questions; his job is to answer them.
I have not been rude, abusive or wasting time in my questioning at all. I have been asking policy questions.
We have had two sets of answers from the Government Leader; he does not know what his policy is, because they have not had time to discuss it, or they have not changed the policy.
We have a huge question about what in the dickens they have been doing during the six months they have been in government - nothing.
They claim that the previous government spent $58 million more. That is their position, but they have also admitted that they will probably lapse $15 million.
In the year during which the previous government supposedly spent $58 million, this government was in power for six months. What did they do about the overrun?
We have demonstrated so far, during several weeks of debate, that they may have saved several hundred dollars in travel and hiring expenses, but they almost blew the entire amount when they fired four deputy ministers without cause. They have not saved any money, they have not made any policy, they have not solved any economic problems, and they have not addressed the social situation. All they have done is possibly put us in worse debt with the implementation agreement.
Now, we have some questions that need to be answered. If the Government Leader will start bringing back the answers and answering the questions, we can get on with this business very quickly.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The fact remains that Members on the side opposite are filibustering. They do not want it proved to the public that the previous government spent $58 million more than they took in.
I have stood here, day after day, and answered their questions. They said they have the answers, but we are not doing anything. Okay, we are not doing anything, so let us get on with the job of discussing the supplementaries. The minute that they want to move into them, perhaps they will get some answers.
Mr. Penikett: With the greatest respect, doing nothing is not doing the job.
The Government Leader can sulk, pout and lose his temper, but that will not make the questions go away.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I am not pouting, and I am quite happy to be here and answer questions.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Penikett: What is it with the Members on the other side? They spent five weeks on the supplementaries, and that was all right. We never complained or whimpered and cried, they are asking too many questions, they are so mean to us, please stop picking on us, we want to go home.
We gave more answers in one day than this Cabinet has given during the whole six months that they have been in office.
I have read the Hansard, and I have been around here a long time. If the Government Leader starts answering some questions, we are going to move very quickly. We do not have any answers yet.
Let me ask the Government Leader this very simple question in general debate, on the Executive Council Office supplementary expenditure, ended March 31, with respect to transition expenditures: was Mr. Bob Walters, president of the Yukon Party, paid for any work with respect to the transition of the Yukon government?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: That question is such a joke, I do not think I should even bother to stand up to answer it. Mr. Walters has never been employed by this government.
Mr. Penikett: See? You ask a direct question, you get a direct answer. It moves very quickly. Now, I am going to move on to another subject.
Why is the Member complaining about discussing a department for six hours? I have been in this House when we spent six days on a department. I was in this House when the Members opposite - the Member for Riverdale North, the Member for Kluane, the Member for Watson Lake and others - spent four days on one $4,000 underexpenditure in the Department of Health and Social Services.
We are not going to sit here and listen to lectures from a new Member in this House about our wasting time. There is an old expression about the pot calling the kettle black. Since the Government Leader is filibustering and does not want to get into the lines, I will continue on with general debate.
Let me ask the Government Leader with respect to an area where land claims and devolution overlap. Some months ago, Mr. Siddon gave the former government, in a letter addressed to me, a commitment that, upon the completion and legal resolutions of land claims settlements with each First Nation in each area, the federal government would be prepared to do bulk land transfers to the territorial government. What progress has been made by the new government, since their election, on this question?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: None, that I am aware of.
Mr. Penikett: The answer does not surprise me at all.
Can I ask the Government Leader, with respect to implementation funding on land claims, how big will the annual deficit for YTG be between the amount the territorial government departments felt would be needed to implement the land claims and self-government agreements and the amount the federal government has agreed to in the recently completed negotiations?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not believe that is part of the supplementaries. It will be dealt with in the main estimates.
Mr. Penikett: With respect, the Government Leader made a ministerial statement before April 1. This was an agreement completed before April 1. It was completed by negotiators and paid under this supplementary. I would like to know more detail about the content of the agreement, which was completed during the period of the supplementary we are discussing.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We will deal with it in the mains.
Mr. Penikett: Will the Government Leader tell the House how many meetings there were on implementation negotiations between January 1 and March 31, 1993?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I will bring that information back.
Mr. Penikett: Could the Government Leader tell the House on what date they initialled implementation agreement between negotiators of the federal government and this government?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I will bring that information back.
Mr. Penikett: Could the Government Leader tell this House, as at March 31, what the total request was from the departments of the Yukon government for implementing the claims in terms of annual expenditures?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I will bring the information back.
Mr. Penikett: When the Government Leader brings that information back, would he bring it back on a department-by-department basis?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: That will be very difficult to do.
Mr. Penikett: Why would it be difficult to do? Every single department was asked to prepare lists. When we were in government, I saw the lists by department, and I know that was the basis on which we went to the negotiating table to negotiate the amounts.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member opposite knows very well that some of the responsibilities cut across departments.
Mr. Penikett: That does not change the fact that departments put in individual requests, and the YTG request was a sum of departmental requests, notwithstanding the fact that they were shared responsibilities of some departments. Why is it that the Government Leader cannot provide us with a department-by-department list?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I will see what I can do.
Mr. Penikett: When will the Government Leader bring that information to the House?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: As soon as it is available.
Mr. Penikett: Would the Government Leader make his best effort to make the information available next week?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: If possible, I will.
Mr. Penikett: I am asking questions about the implementation funding negotiations that took place in the period of this supplementary. The Government Leader has told the House that the agreement was reached March 27, I think, which is within the time of the supplementary. I think he told us there were $7.5 million in one-time costs, plus $1 million a year for ongoing implementation, initially. I think it increased to $1.5 million, once agreements with all 14 First Nations are in place.
In general terms, what is the order of magnitude of the gap between what the federal government is offering and not what the departments want but, if I could put in these terms, what the departments needed as at March 27?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I can tell the Member opposite that the monies that were obtained from the federal government were within the ballpark of what the departments needed.
Mr. Penikett: I know that the Department of Renewable Resources originally asked for $10 million. I know that perhaps both sides of the House might agree that that was too much. Given that even if the Department of Renewable Resources only needed half that much, the agreement with the federal government would not provide enough.
I think that one First Nation asked for $400,000 a year to operate the renewable resources council. Fourteen First Nations would obviously put that figure up to more than the total sum available.
How did the Government Leader close the gap between that one departments needs and the federal funds available?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: As I said in the ministerial statement I put forward in this House, once the financial transfer agreement is finalized, I will be bringing that information to the House. The money for the wildlife management board and the resource council will be over and above what we got for our responsibilities under land claims. They will flow through us, but they are over and above the negotiated settlement.
Mr. Penikett: I appreciate that answer from the Government Leader. Could he tell us what is the order of magnitude of money provided for that purpose? I am not looking for an exact number.
Chair: Order please. Mr. Penikett, for the record could you clarify if you are on line-by-line debate on the Land Claims Secretariat?
Mr. Penikett: I had indicated a readiness to move to the line-by-line debate, but I met with some obstructiveness and some objections from the other side to my doing that. I thought it was the wish of everybody here to stay in general debate.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The question asked I believe is a line-by-line question.
Mr. Penikett: If I move to line-by-line debate, will the Government Leader answer?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I will do my best to answer the questions.
Mr. Harding: The Member for Riverdale North says I swagger. He should take a look at himself, the little Hitler of the House.
Chair: Point of order. I do not agree with name-calling in this House. It might have happened in the past, but I do not like name-calling in this House while I am sitting in the Chair, please. I just do not like it.
Mr. Harding: I am very sorry. I got caught up in the insulting comment from the Member opposite, but I withdraw the comment.
Chair: That goes for all the Members.
Mr. Harding: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I was just asking a couple of brief questions prior to clearing general debate, but when the Government Leader stood up and flew into a tirade a couple of things were said that I feel I just have to quickly touch on before I ask what will probably be the last question I have to ask - if I get any answer to it - in general debate.
I would just like to say that I do not think there is any waste of taxpayers money. There is no filibustering going on. We are all paid as Members here, as employees of the government, as elected people, whether we are in the Legislature, or outside the Legislature. The work we do outside is valuable. The work we do inside is valuable. The Opposition has the opportunity to ask questions only for a brief period of every year. I think it is very important that we are allowed the opportunity to ask those questions and to get the answers from the government that we need to have. It is certainly not a waste of money to ask all kinds of questions of this government. They made many, many bold promises and statements in their four-year plan. We are trying to establish exactly what new policies they have created, what new policies they are following through on, what is under review, what is not under review, what has been thrown away, what has been changed, what has not been changed. I think it is very important that we are afforded the opportunity to do that in general debate and also in the line-by-line debate, and we will move through each and every section of it.
It certainly is not a waste of taxpayers money in any way, shape or form - we are asking serious policy questions and we intend to get answers. I asked the Government Leader the week before last for some information; it did not come back. I was told by the Member for Riverdale North that I should accept that. I did at the time; I was forced to accept that. The information did not come from the Government Leader, so now I have to ask him if he would commit to bringing the information by the end of next week?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I told the Member, many times, that I will bring the information forward as soon as I can get it.
Mr. Penikett: I have an outstanding question for the Government Leader and he has indicated that he would answer if we go into the line-by-line debate. I am happy to go into the land claims line in order to get an answer.
Chair: Is that agreed to by the Members?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
On Land Claims Secretariat
Chair: We will proceed to Operations and Maintenance Expenditures and go line by line. The first item is Land Claims Secretariat in an amount of $252,000.
Mr. Penikett: I had a question for the Government Leader that he was going to answer.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: To answer your question, an increase of $252,000, or 19.4 percent, was required for implementation of the negotiations, to travel to Ottawa for negotiations, and contract services related to completion of the first four final agreements for a total in the Land Claims Secretariat of $1,549,000.
Mr. Penikett: Does the Government Leader have an answer to the question I asked previously that he said he would answer when we went into the line by line?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I will answer to the best of my ability. If not, I will have to bring the answers back. I am sorry; I thought he was going back through his whole tirade that we listened to for 15 minutes.
There is $1.5 million for all the territorial boards and $75,000 for each of the renewable resource councils.
Mr. Penikett: Does the Government Leader think that $1.5 million will be sufficient? Does he think the First Nations think that the $75,000 a year for local renewable resource councils will be sufficient?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: As the Member opposite knows, there has been tremendous pressure upon the territorial government by First Nations people to come to some settlement with the federal government on implementation funding, so they could move ahead with their land claims process. As I have said in this House before, we certainly would have liked to have seen more money, the First Nations people would have liked to have seen more money, and I cannot answer for the First Nations people in this House.
I do know that they are prepared to work within the confines of what is being offered for the first four years of the agreement - or three years, and start renegotiating in the fourth year - so they could have a better fix on what the actual costs are. They were prepared to do that. When we got the increase from the federal government, which was over and above the bottom line of what we felt we needed to do a decent job of implementing the land claims - not as good as what we would have liked to have done, but we would be able to fulfill our responsibilities - we felt that we had no alternative but to accept that implementation funding, so the land claims process could move ahead.
Mr. Penikett: I understand completely what the Government Leader is saying, and I appreciate the point. Let me be specific, using one example, namely that of the Na-Cho Nyak Dun, who had a local resource council for which they had very high hopes. They had plans that were perhaps more ambitious than those of the territorial government in negotiating these agreements.
In order to pre-implement the establishment of that resource council, I think they had asked for in excess of $400,000 annually. Clearly, with $75,000, one is not going to be able to do nearly as much as one could with $400,000. How would the scope of the operations of a resource council, such as that proposed by the Na-Cho Nyak Dun, be changed or reduced to fit the $75,000 available? What projects, or what activities, would it not be able to carry out that they had previously hoped to carry out?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: My understanding is that the budget the Na-Cho Nyak Dun is working under now runs around $60,000 a year, so they felt the extra $15,000 a year for the first four years of the agreement would give them some cushion, until such time as it could be looked at, after being in operation for a few years, to get a better understanding of the costs involved.
Mr. Penikett: I knew that. I was really asking a different question. The Government Leader will no doubt have encountered the view of First Nations people of treaties as living documents - that they should be subject to a Liberal interpretation. I believe it was the interpretation of the chief of the Na-Cho Nyak Dun that perhaps renewable resource councils ought to be able to do more things than the Department of Renewable Resources had contemplated them doing. While in the interim they had to settle for $60,000, and have settled for $75,000 in the long run, they dreamed of the resource councils doing things. In simple terms, it could possibly be said that they believed the renewable resources councils should probably be able to run and manage some programs. They might have been able to do that with $400,000; they certainly cannot with $75,000.
I do not want to spend a lot of time on it, but could the Government Leader briefly reflect on the role and the operations of the resource councils, such as the Na-Cho Nyak Duns - one of the first four claimant groups - what he sees it doing and what it will be able to do on an annual basis with the $75,000 that is available?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: My understanding is that one of the saw-offs on the funding was the balance of the responsibilities between the resource council and the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board. It is now my understanding that the Na-Cho Nyak Dun Band will be concentrating on local issues, and that they will be forwarding those issues to the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board for further discussion.
Mr. Penikett: Could the Government Leader update the House on what will be - if he does not know, he can get back to me - the annual budget available to the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I will have to come back to the Member with the precise details. My understanding is that it varied in the final hours of negotiation, but it is in the neighbourhood of $400,000.
Mr. Penikett: I thank the Government Leader. Before I leave the question of funding for the boards and committees, there have been some utterances from Ministers opposite suggesting that the per diems and costs of boards and committees ought to be reduced. To what extent did this new government policy impact on the negotiations or the costing of the boards and committees that have come into place as a result of the land claims agreement?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We used the existing per diem rates in the negotiations.
Mr. Penikett: So there was no effective change in policy or rates as a result of the recent negotiations?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: No, the negotiations were completed under the existing per diem rates. That is not to say that the rates are still not under review.
Mr. Penikett: Well, as a matter of policy, what is the capacity of the territorial government to review or change the rates of a board, such as the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board, to which we are not the only party nominating Members?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: For the land claims boards there is practically none.
Mr. Penikett: I will not ask now, because it would take too much time, but I might ask the Government Leader to reflect on what impact his view of boards will have in years to come, with respect to the per diem rates, because I cannot remember what the mechanism is for reviewing the per diems over the next five, 10 or 15 years. I cannot recall whether it is by written question or a response during the main estimates debate, but I would be interested in hearing the Government Leaders comments.
Before I move away from the question about the Na-Cho Nyak Dun, every Member in the House was aware that the Na-Cho Nyak Dun had made a very significant claim for land in the Northwest Territories in response to - perhaps not in response, but probably following - the Tetlit Gwichin situation. Could I ask the Government Leader if he would report to the House as to what the status of that claim is, whether the Yukon territorial government has been involved in discussions about the claim, and if they have been involved, what has been the new governments position?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I will have to get back to the Member about whether it has been dismissed as a claim or is in abeyance. There has been nothing done on it since about last November.
Mr. Penikett: Yesterday, in a moment of pique or a minute of passion, the Government Leader indicated to the House that he would have done much more than the previous government in response to the Tetlit Gwichin situation, because he was not clear as to whether or not he supported the change in the umbrella final agreement that we had negotiated. We do not know whether another such situation will occur again. In case it does, could the Government Leader tell us what he believes should have been done last year that was not done?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: For the Members information, after an emergency debate in this House, I think more forceful action should have been taken on behalf of the administration at the time.
Mr. Penikett: What exactly did the Government Leader have in mind?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I am not exactly sure what I had in mind, except that I do not believe that our case was very forcefully stated to the federal government.
Mr. Penikett: Other than a motion of censure of a federal Minister in a Legislature, something that has not happened for many decades in this country, representations to the Prime Minister, Members of Cabinet and Members of Parliament, what more would the new Government Leader have done - for the record?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: It really does not matter; it is history now. It is something that is in the history of the Yukon now. I did not agree with the stand the previous government took on it.
Mr. Penikett: The Government Leader cannot escape that easily. Last night, he indicated that he was not sure that he agreed with the change to the umbrella final agreement that this government had negotiated to make sure that never again would such an agreement be negotiated without our being at the table. Since he seems to be unclear about whether or not he supported that change, it raises the possibility that it could happen again. If it does, I would like to know what this new governments intentions would be.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We will deal with that when the issue arises.
Mr. Penikett: We will be forced to conclude then that the Government Leader has nothing to suggest that could have been done, over and above what was done. For the record, once the Prime Minister and the Cabinet of the country have made a final decision and have been appealed to and said once again that it is final, I would respectfully say to the other side that since they have not proposed any other effective action, their position is purely rhetorical.
One issue that arose from the Council for Yukon Indians General Assembly discussion of the land claims agreement, was the problem of overlapping claims between Yukon First Nations. The problem is especially difficult in cases when there is a conflict between the two First Nations. When one is at the table and the other is still waiting to come to the table, there is a fear that the First Nation that gets to the table first will have the hammer and the First Nation that is lower on the list will suffer as a result. There was a selection, as I am sure the Government Leader knows, in the Nisling River area, about which there was a stew between elders of the White River First Nation and the Champagne/Aishihik First Nation.
I am not asking this question in terms of an amendment to the umbrella final agreement, but as a question of negotiating procedure. Does the Government Leader have any ideas as to how he and his negotiators will avoid this problem in the negotiations that we are about to pursue with the next group of First Nations?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Those are issues that will have to be dealt with at the land claims negotiating table.
Mr. Penikett: Let me ask the Government Leader this: when we get to this line in the main estimates, would he be prepared to give some indication to this House whether or not there would be a change in policy or a change in mandate, or any new instructions to negotiators from this government, as part of an effort to avoid a repetition of the problem?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We will be able to do that.
Mr. Penikett: The Government Leader filed a legislative return in this House during this session in respect to block land transfers in the Whitehorse area. I believe the Whitehorse First Nations were extremely grateful for the clarity of his statement in this respect, since there was some uncertainty following some statements from city hall. Unfortunately, the waters got muddied a little bit about the question of the sewer and water treatment centre and the Ta-an Dun. Can the Government Leader tell us what his policy has been in respect to dealing with what may be called at-the-table irritants, aggravations, or side issues that are not at the negotiating table, but issues about land use that may complicate negotiations or cause problems at the negotiating table. Does he have a procedure for dealing with these?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: In the case where there is no land freeze on that, we try to sit down with the First Nations to resolve the issue, so it does not interfere with selections at the table. We try to get it worked out ahead of time.
Mr. Penikett: I wanted to ask some specific questions about this governments policy in negotiations. I am going to concede, right off, that some of them may be more appropriately addressed when we get to the main estimates, but I wonder if the Government Leader would indulge me now by allowing me to present the questions. If he wishes to hold off with the answers until we get to the main estimates, I have no problem with that, but I would like to put a series of questions to him about the negotiating position of the government, the policy of the government, with respect to land claims concerns of the City of Whitehorse, for example.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member can put the questions to us and, if we can answer some now, we will; if not, I will bring them back during the mains.
Mr. Penikett: I thank the Government Leader. Perhaps I will put the questions as a group, then the Government Leader can indicate whether he wants to answer them now or later.
Last fall, the City of Whitehorse issued a communication concerning a number of their land claims positions. Subsequent events have raised some doubt as to whether these were positions of the whole council, or the mayor, or even the administration. Let me concede that I am not perfectly clear about all these. However, because I attended a meeting of the land claims information session here in Whitehorse, I know that some of the questions were repeated that evening, which is one of the reasons I want to explore government policy.
One of the positions attributed to the city was that land claims selection should be pro-rated, based on population comparisons. I am not quite sure what that meant. Perhaps it meant that, since the First Nations were a relatively small percentage of the total population in Whitehorse, they should only have that proportion of the land inside the city limits. At least, that is what I take the meaning as. That is one question.
The second question is one that concerns the governments view of city representation, which I think stated that the laws of general application should apply to all land selections within the City of Whitehorse.
If I may be permitted, I would express my own view that self-government for the Kwanlin Dun First Nation would be meaningless, if that were the case. If they did not have self-government over their own village, under the rural land blocks and selections, it would be meaningless. Obviously, the city has some concerns, and I want to know how the government is addressing them.
The city was also concerned about the order in which the two Whitehorse First Nations came to the negotiating table. I believe that they were concerned that if one First Nation came first, that would be to the disadvantage of the one that came second, particularly since it is widely-believed that the two First Nations have overlapping land selections inside the city. That is the third area that I would like to know the governments position on.
The fourth area that I would like to know about is the Government of Yukons view on the city representation that the joint planning be done for an official community plan between First Nations and the city, and that the joint planning process proceed before land selections are negotiated.
The fifth area is the concern of the city that land within the city limits is obviously of greater commercial value than land in most other places in the territory. That increases the need to make the public aware of the selections and give the public the opportunity to comment on the selections. I would like to know, as the fifth point, how the territorial government and its negotiators are going to deal with that problem?
There is a belief at city hall that land selections along the Mayo Road, Alaska Highway, waterfront, and in future development areas such as Hillcrest, Porter Creek and Wickstrom Road, might - and this is not my view - choke any future development of this community. I would like to know the territorial governments views on that issue.
The seventh area of concern was how the city would recover the value of improvements that it has put into place on lands they were going to develop, but which are now under claim. I presume this means where there has been surveying, sewer and water work, or perhaps other roadwork.
I think the answer to that is already clear, but I want to know if there has been a change in policy by the government on that score.
Another concern of theirs was about the taxability of selections in the city. The city was looking to have some assurance that they would be able to tax First Nation land. It is my own view that principles on that score have been well-established in negotiations in Haines Junction, Mayo and elsewhere, but I want to know if the government will be taking the same position to the tables as we took in those communities, especially because everyone has to agree that the situations are a little more complex and quite different here than they are in some smaller municipalities.
Of course, the city wants to be able to recover jurisdictional costs from lands selected in the city. They have an interesting claim that having administered the area for the last 40 years, they are entitled to some compensation for that. I suspect there would be a lively debate among different levels of government as to who has administered what for 40 years. Given that the federal government did not consider this factor for the territorial government in negotiating the implementation funding, I would be surprised if YTG considered it for the city. I would like to know if it is under consideration.
I understand that the final concern of the city was that, even after the claims have been settled within the city for the Kwanlin Dun, there may be subsequent claims for land in the city by other First Nations in this vicinity. I would like to know, if I could, the governments response to that.
I have already conceded that these may be questions for general debate. If the Government Leader wants to respond now, I would be happy to hear his answers. If he wants to wait, I have other questions I would like to ask.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member has put a lot of interesting questions on the table. We will wait and reply to them in the mains.
Mr. Penikett: Let me just ask one more question on that subject: there is a widespread belief that the Ta-an Dun selections, for example, overlap with at least four other First Nation selections. The question I ask with respect to the conflict between Champagne/Aishihik and the White River First Nation is relevant. Perhaps it is, arguably, at least two times or five times as complex here as it was in that case. My belief is that there is some urgency to exploring the government policy on that question as we are about to go into negotiations.
I have quite a few other questions. They are not as detailed or complex as the others, but people are whispering to me that we should take a break. I am in your hands, Mr. Chair.
Chair: Is it the wish of the Committee to take a break?
Some Hon. Members: Oui; si; yes.
Chair: We will take a brief recess at this time.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole back to order.
We are on Land Claims Secretariat, on operation and maintenance expenditures.
Mr. Penikett: The Government of Yukon was named in a court action concerning the dispute between the Indian people of Carcross and Tagish. Can the Government Leader give us a progress report on that action and some indication of the governments position?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We do not have a current briefing on it. I know the Justice department lawyers are looking at the court action, so I could get the information back for the Member.
Mr. Penikett: If I remember correctly, it was specifically the Tagish Aboriginal Governance Society lawsuit against both the territorial government and the federal government with respect to the status of the Six Mile Creek reserve area. I think we were being sued because the Tagish people contend that the Tagish campground infringes on Lot 138 of the reserve area. The view of the Yukon government may be that that is not the case; however, the boat launch was at issue and I gather there may be another issue about the Pennycook Road, which was recently upgraded by the Yukon government but which I think is on federal land.
The Government Leader has indicated he will come back with a response; that is good.
Can the Government Leader indicate, either now or when we get to the mains, what the agreed upon schedule for negotiations or claims is for 1992?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I believe the Member opposite may have meant 1993. We will come back with that information; we are getting the schedule together at the present time.
Mr. Penikett: May I ask the Government Leader a precise question about the umbrella final agreement, clause 25.5.5, which gives the Yukon government some influence in transboundary negotiations.
It was not clear from the previous answer whether he had doubts about the clause because it was ineffective or because he did not agree with it. Could the Government Leader be clearer about this?
I know that technically and legally you could say it has already passed through this House and it is the law, but the Government Leader stated that the Kaska First Nation has some problems with it. I understand their problems. Frankly, we could have a difference of opinion on this without anybody having to be wrong; everybody may be right. It is one of those issues where everybody can be right, but I am curious about the Government Leaders view on this.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: My view of that clause is that basically what it does is give us a seat at the table; it does not ensure that there will not be any transboundary claims just because we do not agree with them.
Mr. Penikett: Of course, if you do not have a seat at the table you cannot prevent the federal government and some other First Nation repeating what they did with the Tetlit Gwichin.
The Government Leader has indicated in a rambunctious way that he might take a different view on transboundary claims. I do not want to provoke him into a flight of spell-binding oratory this afternoon but if the government is taking a new policy direction in this area, could the Government Leader, when we get to the Executive Council Office general debate - perhaps in his introductory remarks - indicate something about what the new policy is. I am not going to ask that question now, but I wonder if I could give notice of that request.
I presume that this government will want to continue to participate in transboundary negotiations. That is why I asked whether the government supported clause 25.5.5. I have asked already about the internal overlaps in the Yukon. Could I ask the Government Leader what his position is in respect to an item that was under discussion some time ago, namely the possibility of a coalition between the Dawson First Nation, Taan Kwachan and the Kwanlin Dun, as a means of trying to expedite negotiations with those three First Nations. What is the Government of the Yukons position in terms of dealing with such a coalition?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We have been dealing with each of the First Nations individually at this point. We have not had any requests to deal with them as a group.
Mr. Penikett: Today I saw on my desk a statement attributed to the Association for Yukon Communities. It may not have been made today; it may have been made some time ago. It was about the municipalitys wish to have greater involvement at the claims negotiating table. I think the words used were, to criticize the secrecy of negotiations. Now, I know the new Government of Yukon has reaffirmed the policy of the previous government, that the municipalities should not be a fourth party at the negotiating table, but that the Yukon government would, with the consent of the First Nation, include them in a negotiating team, and even where that did not happen, they would provide regular briefings or information to municipalities. Could I ask the Government Leader, as a matter of policy, how he intends to address this concern about secrecy and participation by the municipalities in negotiations?
Again I would be quite content if the Government Leader wants to hold off answering until the mains, but if he has something to say now, I would be glad to hear it.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I will answer it in part now; if the Member wishes more information I will provide it later. We have offered to brief the municipalities on a regular basis during the term of the negotiation, on a confidential basis. We have agreed to brief AYC, if it so desires, and to try to address the issue that way.
Mr. Penikett: One of the provisions of the umbrella final agreement is to allow the Yukon government to select up to 10 hydroproject sites. It is well understood that the land First Nations can select within the agreed-upon hydro sites is different from other land that may be subject to flooding for hydroelectric purposes.
In Opposition, I think the Yukon party expressed the view that the NDP had made a serious mistake in doing this and should have, before developing these 10 sites, made them subject to public consultation. I personally thought that was a fair comment but we did not, while we were in government, work out a successful way of allowing for public consultation while maintaining some protection of the sites.
The problem, as the Government Leader will know, is that was very easy for NCPC; they just made notations on maps and the federal government would not allow the land to be disposed of. The territorial government does not have that ability because we are talking, at least for formal purposes, about federal land. We would have had to get federal orders-in-council to withdraw that land. If we did that, we would have, in a sense, been making a final judgment about those sites without having gone to public consultation. I think we believed that the public consultation and land withdrawals were both desirable but we had not worked out a way to achieve both objectives.
Has the Government Leader been able to square that circle yet? Does he have anything to suggest about how he perceives this?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We have not got around to dealing with that issue yet.
Mr. Penikett: There have been newspaper stories about potential hydro developments at Drury Creek near Faro and at Morley River. Can the Government Leader indicate if the Yukon Energy Corporation or the Land Claims Secretariat have, as yet, had any consultations with the Ross River Dena Council or the Teslin Tlingit Council about either of those sites?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I cannot speak for the Yukon Energy Corporation, but the Land Claims Secretariat has not had any discussions.
Mr. Penikett: I might like to get back to that when we get to the mains, because it may become a subject of greater urgency as we proceed.
I want to ask one question, although in doing so, I think I should declare an indirect interest in the matter. I think some Members know, I married into, and have in my household, members of the White River First Nation. The White River First Nation has made public concerns about a lack of Government of Yukon response to maps tabled by that First Nation. A problem arose when the White River First Nation separated from the Kluane Tribal Council some years ago. The White River First Nation had felt disadvantaged by that.
The map we are talking about is the traditional territory map of the White River First Nation. I know this is a question in which the deputy Government Leader had taken an interest in when he was in the Opposition and we were in government. I am wondering if the new government has been able to address this issue yet.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We have not been briefed on the status of that map as of this date. We will look into it and find out for the Member opposite, but we have not received any information on it.
Mr. Penikett: Earlier today, the Government Leader indicated that there was at least one principal negotiator position vacant. In the past, from time to time, the First Nations have expressed an interest in doing at least some informal consultation with the Government of the Yukon about the suitability of negotiators we proposed to send to the table. I do not think we have, of course, ever put a First Nations person on the hiring committee, obviously, but there have been some informal consultations. Can I ask the Government Leader if it is his intention to have any private discussions with First Nations leaders with respect to critical or key appointments such as principal negotiators, prior to finalizing the appointment?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I will be talking to the First Nations people about that, as I did when there was a change in the chief land claims negotiator.
Mr. Penikett: I thank the Government Leader for that answer. I admit that it does complicate the personnel process, since it was only yesterday when we were asking about non-political interference in the hiring process. I also understand that this is a different situation, and there are some sensitivities that we must respect.
I was one of many Members who applauded the decision of the Government Leader to participate in the land claims committee and to go around to the communities to talk to the public and hear from the public about the land claims agreements and legislation.
Knowing that the Government Leader is busy, would it be his intention to play a key role individually in maintaining communications with non-aboriginal groups that may be interested in the progress of claims negotiations? For example, as the Minister responsible, does he intend to meet directly with municipalities, the Fish and Game Association and other groups that have an interest in these questions as the talks proceed, or is that work he would largely delegate either to others in his Cabinet or to people in the Land Claims Secretariat?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: It is an area I would like to participate in as much as humanly possible. I will endeavour to meet with groups that wish to meet with me on the land claims issue, or any other issues, for that matter. I will continue to take that approach. There are times when, because of conflicting schedules, it is not always possible. At that time, some of the Land Claims Secretariat personnel fill in for me. However, I do try to keep in as much personal contact as I can with various groups.
Mr. Penikett: I would like to move on to the question of self-government. What is the Government Leaders view of the legislation we have passed? In his opinion, does the legislation we have passed actually establish a third order - an aboriginal order - of government in the Yukon, or not?
I understand there is a division of opinion about this in some circles, but I would like to know the Government Leaders view.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The self-government agreements certainly give that ability to First Nations. How much they intend to pursue it, and how in-depth they intend to implement it, is another matter.
Mr. Penikett: I understand what the Government Leader is saying. I am really asking a question about his policy, or constitutional philosophy. Does he believe the passage of the self-government legislation here in this House and, then, the passage of the same legislation in Ottawa, will establish, in law, a third order, or an aboriginal order, of government in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Once it has passed the federal Legislature, I am sure it will establish a third level of government. As the Member opposite knows, they are even trying to seek constitutional protection for it, so I do not think there is any doubt in anybodys mind that the ability is there.
Mr. Penikett: The Government Leader has anticipated my next question, which is about constitutional protection for the self-government agreements. As he knows, and I am sure most Yukoners know, it has been the position of the federal government for some years that they would not give constitutional protection to self-government agreements, except by way of an amendment to the Canadian Constitution. That was one of the things we attempted to achieve in the Charlottetown agreement, which was rejected by many people, and by the people of the Yukon.
I am assuming that option is closed, since the federal government is not likely to resume the constitutional process for some years - at least, in my judgment, unless and until there is an election of a separatist government in Quebec.
The other option always was that the federal government could, as a matter of policy, decide that the self-government agreements in the Yukon could be treated like the rest of the land claims agreement and appended to the Constitution, through section 35, as part of a modern treaty. During our time in office, we made representations to the federal government to do that. They were hesitant to do so and, in fact, were holding out for the Charlottetown Agreement.
Does the Government Leader agree that that is an option? If so, has his government made any representations to the federal government to have the self-government agreements treated like the land claims agreement and, therefore, given constitutional protection in that manner?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Yes, we have made that representation to the federal government.
Mr. Penikett: To state the obvious, given the coincidence of certain events, I have only had the opportunity to have one conversation with the Prime Minister since my demotion. I am wondering if the Government Leader has had any communication from the federal government in response to those representations that would indicate a change in federal policy.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: No, we have not had any indication of their response to it, or if there is going to be a change of heart there or not.
Mr. Penikett: Nobody knows for sure who the new Conservative leader or new Prime Minister is going to be, and nobody knows who will be in the Cabinet after that Prime Minister is chosen. Can I ask the Government Leader if he will be taking an opportunity during the visit of Mr. Siddon to Whitehorse tomorrow to make representations to him on this question and to press him for a change of federal policy, since I believe the constitutional amendment option is not a live one, or will not be alive one for several years now.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I have discussed this with Mr. Siddon before, and if I have the opportunity when he is here this time, I will be discussing it with him again. We are going to continue to work with CYI in this direction.
Mr. Penikett: I thank the Government Leader for that answer. I would only hope that - and I will not put this as a question - if Mr. Siddon indicates any openness on the part of the federal government on this question, I am sure all Members in the House, as well as the Yukon First Nations, would like to hear it. When we were in the closing stages of negotiations last year, I had a number of public meetings and I had many more following the finalization of the first self-government agreements. During that time, a number of people were concerned about the application of the Charter of Rights and legislation like the Yukon Human Rights Act in connection with the self-government agreements. It so happens that the Charlottetown agreement, after some struggle, got the acceptance of First Nations who were reluctant on the score, and got them to agree that the Charter of Rights would apply to First Nation governments.
The Government Leader may recall that there was a lively debate about that issue, with aboriginal women being very much in favour of it and some of the traditional First Nation leaders being opposed.
To state the obvious, since the Charlottetown Accord was defeated, there may be some question in some peoples minds now about that and I would like to ask the Government Leaders view on that question.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Charter does apply to our self-government agreements, but the problem is that First Nations do not always agree with that interpretation.
I know for a fact that when in Opposition we had two different legal opinions on the self-government agreement that gave us two different interpretations as to whether the Charter applied and how it applied.
Mr. Penikett: It will not surprise the Government Leader to know that we had at least that many legal opinions; perhaps in government you have a greater capacity to obtain legal opinions than when in Opposition.
The germane question is the application of the Yukon Human Rights Act. I believe that we did not find any inconsistencies in the Yukon Human Rights Act or the First Nations (Yukon) Self-Government Act, but we clearly had to recognize that the First Nations (Yukon) Self-Government Act would take precedence if there were a conflict. That can lead to some of the kinds of potential issues that I am sure the Government Leader and I will not want to get into today.
An extremely difficult and sensitive issue, which is causing controversy elsewhere in the country nowadays, is the application of taxation powers of territorial governments to First Nations, the right of First Nations to tax their own citizens, and of course the purchase of the section 87 exemption with respect to the Yukon claim.
I know that this was difficult to negotiate here, but given what has happened elsewhere in the country over the last few days and weeks and given some of the public statements that I have heard made by First Nation leaders here and elsewhere, has the new Government Leader of the Yukon had any reason to change the policy of the territorial government with respect to these matters?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: No, we have not.
Mr. Penikett: One of the questions on which I had to spend delightful hours discussing with the Government Leaders predecessor in his own constituency was the question of paramountcy with respect to the application of the laws of the different governments here in the Yukon - First Nations, territorial and federal. What are the Government Leaders views on the subject? Let me put it in a lively way: does he share the views of Mr. Lang or of the previous government on the question?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I am not sure how to reply to that question. Laws of general application and self-government laws are all set out and defined in the agreements, and they will be interpreted that way. I think these issues are all dealt with in the agreements.
Mr. Penikett: Forgive me for putting the question the way I did, but I was subject to some abuse in the House from the Government Leaders predecessor in his constituency. I wanted to find out if he shared his predecessors views or the views of the government. From what the Government Leader is saying, I gather that the views of the government have not changed in any essential way.
I would like to ask the Government Leader just a couple of questions about implementation planning. Has the implementation planning that the Government Leader has been involved in the last few months been changed in any significant way by the limitations on funding imposed by the federal government?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: As the Member is aware, the basic amount of funding was set out first, before the implementation agreements were reviewed and finalized. In the negotiation of the implementation agreements, the scope was focussed around the amount of funding that was going to be available. Therefore, there were some limiting factors in the negotiation and finalization of the implementation agreements.
Mr. Penikett: This is rather a large area and I would like to spend some more time on it, but I do not want to wear out whatever scraps of welcome I have left from the Government Leader by doing it now.
I am wondering if I can ask the Government Leader his indulgence and if I could get a commitment from him that the questions that I gave notice of some weeks ago in respect to implementation funding - I read into the record following the ministerial statement and also during the debate on land claims in the first week of the sitting - before we get into general debate on this same line in the main estimates?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not have a problem making that commitment to the Member opposite. The problem was that they were not understood to be written questions at that time but questions that would be asked again in debate. We will get the answers for the Member.
Mr. Penikett: I apologize; they were not written questions but questions that I gave notice of. I thought I gave clear notice of them in the House, but perhaps I did not. They concerned the minimums for implementation by the departments and the expectations. I wanted to get some assessment of the short-fall, estimates of the costs for YTG to carry out some of its obligations under the claim - wildlife studies, land use planning, renewable resource councils, training of First Nation citizens for government jobs and negotiating program transfers, to cite a few.
There was also the question of appointments to boards and the processes because there have been some appointments recently that the First Nations did not feel they were consulted about and felt that they should have been. I do not want to get into that now; I would just be repeating the questions.
There was a question about program dumping, off-loading and stripping and, to be precise, whether the territorial government was going to commit to continue to deliver programs like CDF, BDF, capital works and the training programs directly to First Nations, as the former government did. I understand this is a controversial area as there are provinces in this country that refuse to deliver programs directly to First Nations because they regard that as a federal responsibility. We took a different view in that we felt First Nation citizens were entitled to services from YTG yet we did recognize there were problems.
Among the problems, I will state frankly, was that the minute we started to provide any type of services to First Nations the federal government would just back off, leaving us to carry a financial commitment. That is not a new story; it has nothing to do with who is in power in Ottawa; it is a behaviour of the federal government in respect to provinces and territories. It is a real issue but of course the First Nations were concerned about being doubly damned by virtue of the territorial government beginning to adopt the same federal behaviour. I wanted to get a statement of policy on that.
There was also the fear that YTG would start insisting on the First Nations using some of their settlement dollars to do things that the territorial government had previously done for them.
That was the general area of the questions I wanted to get some answers to, and I think they are fairly clear on the record; I would like to come back to it in general debate.
The Government Leader made mention earlier in the session about the training trust fund and I would like to ask him whether there have been disbursements under that fund, and to what extent?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: There have been no disbursements yet.
Mr. Penikett: Are the committees that were supposed to be established to manage and implement training trusts in place and operational? I am particularly interested in how soon it may be before we have some disbursements under the fund.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: It is our understanding that the committee is in place and, now that negotiations of the implementation phase are over with, it is a priority to get the committee up and running.
Mr. Penikett: We may have to come back to this again later, but not now. I cite the concern that I am sure everybody shares on the problem of different policies between the territorial and federal governments. The federal government had a policy of refusing to pre-implement claims and we were very keen on pre-implementation because we had seen the experience in Alaska where, for an initial period after the settlement of the Alaska claim, the major beneficiaries seemed to be the expert advisors who flooded in from the south because there was not a cadre of trained people in many of the native corporations to carry on the responsibilities that they had negotiated.
Without prolonging debate, either in the Executive Council Office mains or, perhaps more appropriately, in the Department of Education mains, might we have a simple document indicating a schedule or plan for disbursements or use of the training trust?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We are not sure what the training trust committee has established yet, but we will look into it and see if we cannot come up with a background paper on it.
Mr. Penikett: I have quite a few more questions to ask in claims but, in view of the hour and my colleague opposites impatience to get to the mains as quickly as possible, perhaps I will just defer to other Members for a second and, then, I would be prepared to move on.
Ms. Joe: I only have a couple of brief questions. While I am on my feet I would like to say that we, on this side of the House, take our jobs very seriously. We have sat here for a number of days, trying to obtain information that tells us what the government is doing, what their policies and philosophies are. I think it is very important that we be allowed to do that.
I want to say from my constituents, at least, and for anybody else, that I am paid to be a politician. I get a salary, and I think that they would be very insulted if they thought I was wasting taxpayers money by sitting in here and gathering information that is going to be very important to me and to our caucus. We are here to learn, we are here to speak on behalf of our constituents, and we want to know what the government is doing.
There have been many promises made. We want to know whether those promises are going to be kept, or how far along they are. The new government has been around now since the beginning of November. They have done certain things that are affecting every single Yukoner, real or otherwise. I feel that I am not wasting taxpayers money by being here, and I want to say that for the record, and for my constituents. I know that a lot of people out there only think that we work when we are in session, and they are very surprised that MLAs spend a lot of time doing all sorts of things pertaining to their jobs, and that we do take our jobs very seriously. If we do not take our jobs seriously, then we should not be sitting here.
My question is in regard to questions I asked in the House of the Government Leader regarding the land that was on the selection list for the Taan Kwachan. There was some controversy in the papers, and a lot of very angry First Nations people from that nation, in regard to land that had been selected. I understand that the Government Leader and the federal Minister, Tom Siddon, met in Vancouver, and they talked about a number of issues concerning the Yukon. There was some discussion in regard to the land for a sewage disposal program.
I want to say, first off, that I agree that is a very necessary thing for the City of Whitehorse and for anyone else that problem may be affecting.
I am not opposed to land somehow being set aside for that. My problem is when First Nations are in negotiations and looking at what they want to do in regard to selecting an area they feel is traditionally theirs, and a discussion takes place between our Government Leader and the Minister of Indian Affairs in regard to that land, and they agree between them that a certain parcel of land should be given to the city, unencumbered.
I am not exactly sure whether or not there was prior discussion with the Taan Kwachan before I read in the paper that our Government Leader also agreed with Mr. Siddon that the land should go to the city, unencumbered, for the sewage disposal.
I only know that the First Nations people from Taan Kwachan were outraged, as was the leader of the Council for Yukon Indians, that this was taking place.
When the discussions were going on with regard to the land in question - the land grab, as I call it - and the Government Leader and Tom Siddon agreed that the land should go to the city, unencumbered, was the Council for Yukon Indians chairperson at the meeting?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: First of all, I think we should set the record straight. The Member is partly right: Minister Siddon and I both agreed that lands for Whitehorse sewage should go to the City of Whitehorse unencumbered. That was a matter of principle, and we were not talking specifically about the Taan lands. We were talking about unencumbered lands for Whitehorse sewage.
It is my understanding that was the position the previous administration had, that the City of Whitehorse should be able to have unencumbered lands for the Whitehorse sewage. We were not specifically talking about the Taan lands, but we were talking about the principle of the matter.
Further to that, I said that the issue would be settled at the land claims table, in dealing with the Taan lands.
Ms. Joe: The Government Leader has indicated that he was not talking about a specific area of land and that he and the federal Minister agreed that any land given to them should go to them unencumbered. The Taan Kwachan First Nation were of the opinion that he and Tom Siddon were speaking about a specific land area, covering a certain number of hectares. The Government Leader was questioned about whether or not he had agreed to it. He is saying it was just a general piece of land and that they were not speaking about anything specific.
I would like to ask the Government Leader if that situation has been straightened out with the Taan Kwachan. I know he met with them and felt that things were working out very well. I have heard otherwise. I have not spoken to them for awhile, however, so I would like to know whether or not the Government Leader feels that the problems that occurred as a result of the article in the paper have been straightened out with the Taan Kwachan First Nation.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Apparently the situation is still under negotiation at the land claims table. They have not met for some time on it. I think the problem right now is determining exactly the specific land that the city would like to have. They will discuss at the table the possibility of the Taan Kwachan being interested in exchanging that for some other land. The issue is being dealt with, although it is not resolved yet.
Ms. Joe: We are talking about specific land that was discussed by the federal Minister and our Government Leader and which the Taan Kwachan has identified as land that they have selected as an area that would be part of negotiations. Is that what the Government Leader is telling me?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Not at all. The Minister and I were talking about the principle of the City of Whitehorse receiving unencumbered land. The Member opposite is fully aware that is the land that the City of Whitehorse has expressed an interest in, and we are seeing if some arrangement can be worked out where they can pursue their interest in that land.
Ms. Joe: The City of Whitehorse does have a specific area mapped out that they would like to have as part of their sewage disposal system. I was under the impression that the land that the city wants for its sewage disposal program is an area that is in the selected area for the Taan Kwachan and the area of land the federal Minister and our Government Leader agreed should go to the city unencumbered. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We have said the city should have unencumbered land for the Whitehorse sewage treatment plant. There are still a number of options and site selections that the city has not finalized. As the Member opposite knows, it is not only the Taan Kwachan that has some interest in the land, but I understand part of it may also be the Kwanlin Duns choice as well.
Ms. Joe: There are some misunderstandings here in regard to that land. The city received a letter from the federal Minister saying, Yes, I agree that you can have this land. If I am not mistaken, he identified a certain area of land that outraged the Taan Kwachan First Nation, because it was an area of land they had in their selection.
In the newspaper, the Government Leader agreed that that land should go to the city unencumbered, and that land in question is what caused the outrage by the Taan Kwachan First Nation. Tom Siddon said the city could have the land it wanted, and the Government Leader agreed. That is the opinion of the Taan Kwachan, and that is my own personal opinion. I am trying to find out if, in fact, the land is an area of land that has been selected by the Taan Kwachan, and that he agreed to give it to the city.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member opposite is fully aware that it is up to the federal government to provide the land for the land claims settlement. It is their ultimate responsibility.
The Minister said that the city should have lands unencumbered, and I agreed with that. Further to that, there was no interim protection on that land. The Taan Kwachan had expressed an interest in that land, but there was no interim protection on it.
Ms. Joe: The question arises about the commitment from the territorial government in regard to land that is in question by First Nations of the Yukon. The aboriginal people of the Yukon maintain that they own the Yukon, but there are certain lands that have been selected, or are in question. When the Government Leader makes a statement to the media that he agrees with the federal Minister that land the Taan Kwachan showed an interest in should go to the city unencumbered, I question whether or not he realized, before he did it, that it was going to create a problem.
The relationship between the First Nations and this government was starting to build up, and it was beginning to look like it would be a good relationship. Then, promises were being broken, and it was agreed that land be given to the City of Whitehorse - land that was in question by the Taan Kwachan. If he had not made a statement agreeing with Tom Siddon, I do not really believe that this problem would have been created - a problem that has not been dealt with yet. If a Government Leader agrees to give land to the city that is in question by a First Nation, and then says that it is under negotiation and we have to go back to the table, he has already made a decision in his own mind that, no, land should go to the city and not the Taan Kwachan. I would say that was bargaining in bad faith.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I will disagree with the Member opposite. First of all, there were no promises broken. The land had not received interim protection.
The Minister stated that the city would get unencumbered lands for Whitehorse sewage, and I agree that they should, as did the previous administration agree that the City of Whitehorse should have unencumbered lands for the sewage facility.
We have shown our good faith by not just taking lands out of there, but by sitting at the table and negotiating some lands to compensate the Taan for that. We have shown our good faith, and we are building a relationship with First Nations people. There are going to be many problems in the land claims process. We are not always going to agree, but we will work the issues out and get them resolved.
Mr. Penikett: I have one general statement on this subject. Surely, the Government Leader must understand that it is not just a question of interim protection of land, that, if land has been selected, the First Nation is bound to see the selection as an act of bad faith, if the two other governments agree that it should be disposed of before they have had a chance to negotiate the selection.
I am prepared to clear the other lines in this department now, on the undertaking from the Government Leader that he will return to the Committee with answers to questions we have put on the record today, and in the previous days debate, at the time we commence general debate on the main estimates for the Executive Council Office.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We will bring that information back to the House.
Land Claims Secretariat in the amount of $252,000 agreed to
On Public Affairs Bureau
Public Affairs Bureau in the amount of an underexpenditure of $104,000 agreed to
On Policy and Planning
Policy and Planning in the amount of an underexpenditure of $45,000 agreed to
On French and Aboriginal Language Services
French and Aboriginal Language Services in the amount of $149,000 agreed to
On Bureau of Management Improvement
Mr. Cable: I have some questions that are a follow-up from some of the questions I asked in the House yesterday. This is perhaps because of my lack of familiarity with the executive Committee.
I wonder if the Government Leader can confirm that the role of the Bureau of Management Improvement is as set out in the mains from last year, page 56. I will read them out in case they are not handy. It states that, It is to provide management improvement, internal audit and program evaluation services for the Government of the Yukon. Is that the Government Leaders view of the present role of the Bureau of Management Improvement?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Basically, the Member opposite is correct.
Mr. Cable: Yesterday, I asked a question of the Government Leader about what was taking place to improve the efficiency of the public service and the reduction of O&M expenses generally. The Government Leader indicated that there was an interdepartmental committee set up, as well as a Cabinet committee. I note that in the return that was given to the Leader of the Official Opposition that this committee is not referred to. Is this Cabinet committee in the process of being struck or have I misunderstood this return?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I am not sure which return the Member is referring to. Perhaps I could discuss it with him later or get the information he requires back to him.
Mr. Cable: Will you bear with me for a moment, Mr. Chairman?
Does the Government Leader have the last page of the return? It is a return dated April 15, 1993. I gather it is in response to some questions put by the Leader of the Official Opposition. The question is, is this Cabinet committee in existence? It does not appear to be referred to in this return. If it is not officially struck, when will it be struck?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I believe there may be a misunderstanding opposite. If he is referring to the audit committee, that is not a Cabinet committee.
Mr. Cable: Perhaps I misunderstood the questions that were asked by the Leader of the Official Opposition. I thought the Leader of the Official Opposition had asked what operating Cabinet committees were in place, and what their membership was. There appears to be three committees referred to. In the question that I put to the Government Leader yesterday, he appears to have referred to an additional committee, which is some sort of committee dealing with government efficiency, if I could call it that.
Mr. Penikett: Maybe I could be helpful here. There is an additional committee not referred to in the return, which is technically a subcommittee of Cabinet, which is the Management Board, which includes Members of Cabinet and others. I think the audit committee that the Member is asking about is a subcommittee of the Management Board, which has usually been chaired by the Government Leader.
Mr. Cable: If I could refer the Government Leader to Hansard of yesterday, he has indicated this committee at page 504. If, in fact, that is the subcommittee, or the audit committee, that would be a useful piece of clarification.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not have a copy of Hansard with me, but I will get clarification for the Member opposite.
Mr. Cable: I have no further questions that would bear on the answers to that. These people cannot be in a hurry. I can see the clock is ticking, so I will ask questions to keep the flow going.
The Government Leader, on various occasions, has piqued my interest on this approach to remodeling the Public Service to make it more efficient. At the end of the road we would all be paying less taxes - which is a goal we all are working toward. He has referred me to this book on reinventing government, which I think has built-in incentives to the Public Service to keep expenses down. What I would like to know is what is going on with this Bureau of Management Improvement? Is the Government Leader going to use this as his prime vehicle for improving the efficiency in the Public Service?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: No, we will not be using that particular committee, because it serves as an arms-length audit. That is not one that will be used. There are others, and we will get into them when we have more time.
Mr. Chairman, I move that you report progress.
Chair: You have heard the motion.
Motion agreed to
Mr. Penikett: As long as the record will show that I tried to clear this item this afternoon, I would move that Mr. Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Abel: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 4, entitled Second Appropriation Act, 1992-93, and directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. Monday next.
The House adjourned at 5:27 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled April 15, 1993:
Government Services Deputy Minister Appointment (Ostashek)
Workers Compensation, Health and Safety Board President Appointment (Brewster)
The following Legislative Returns were tabled April 15, 1993:
Costs for briefing meetings re 1993-94 budget and loan guarantee to Curragh (Ostashek)
Discussion, Hansard, p. 336
Qualifications, roles, conduct code, position descriptions, organizational chart for various positions in the Executive Council Office (Ostashek)
Discussion, Hansard, p. 524-533
Liquor licences, fees and permits: anticipated increased revenue (Brewster)
Oral, Hansard, p. 484