Wednesday, December 7, 1994 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time, we will proceed with
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. Brewster: I have for tabling two documents. One document is the Yukon
Liquor Corporation financial statement, dated March 31, 1994, and the annual report of the
Yukon Lotteries Commission, 1993-94.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Are there any Petitions?
Introduction of Bills.
Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers.
Notices of Motion.
Statements by Ministers.
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Rocking Horse Holdings
Mr. Penikett: I have a question for the Government Leader. According to a report on CBC radio this morning, the Government Leader's company, Rocking Horse Holdings, is the sole beneficial landlord of one of Yukon Housing Corporation's rent supplement program tenders.
Does the Government Leader not realize that this creates an appearance of conflict of interest and does he not realize that citizens may be offended by this appearance of conflict of interest?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I am concerned about perceived conflict of interest and that is why I have taken the actions that I have taken. It must be remembered that, upon assuming office, I removed myself as an officer and director of the company. I have no say in the company - none whatsoever. That was disclosed in the disclosure statement. I am a minority shareholder of the company.
I do not believe that there is a conflict. The company and I are two separate entities. But because I believed that there could be a perceived conflict, at the time I found out about this program - a public program, I must mention - that the company, and not I, entered into, I took a further step and decided to put my small share in the company into a blind trust, so that there would not be a perceived conflict.
Mr. Penikett: I thank the Government Leader for his answer, but remind him that a few months ago we heard evidence in this House that the Government Leader had continued to participate in the management of this company after he had filed a disclosure statement stating that he was no longer an officer or director.
I also remind him that the existing conflict rules in force now - not the ones that he proposes to replace them with, but those existing rules - say that a Minister must avoid appearances of conflict. So I must ask: does the Government Leader not understand that taking money from a government contract, over and above salary, indemnity and expenses, and then failing to disclose that income, creates a problem for all of us here.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: It is quite clear that I am not taking money. I filed my tax return last year. I am not taking money from my companies. There is no shareholder dividend being paid. I have disclosed my sources of income.
Mr. Penikett: Notwithstanding the Government Leader's protestations yesterday about a blind trust, the Government Leader has indicated publicly that a company in which he and his spouse are shareholders has accepted a subsidy from the Yukon Housing Corporation - ongoing income from a Crown corporation.
I would like to ask the Government Leader why, when he found out about the application being put in by his company for this program, he did not simply say, "if the company does this, it would appear to be a conflict of interest, and we had better not get involved in it". Why did he not simply make sure that there was no possibility that an appearance of conflict would be created?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: One of the reasons is that the companies have been operating at arm's length from one another. I have not been involved in the management of the company.
Question re: Rocking Horse Holdings
Speaker: Hon. Leader of the Official Opposition: do you have a question?
Mr. Penikett: I hate to remind the Government Leader of this, but just a few months ago, we had a discussion in the House about him selling an airplane, an asset of the company, and flying the airplane for business purposes since he became Government Leader.
On CBC Radio this morning, I heard the Government Leader say, quote: "I was made aware awhile back that the manager had applied to an invitation to proposals that was in the newspaper, and so that was the time that I decided to put my shares of the company into a blind trust.''
I would like to ask the Government Leader to explain why, only when he realized that he and his spouse's company were bidding on a government contract, did he take firm steps to put his business affairs into a blind trust? Why did he wait until that moment?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Once again, the Leader of the Official Opposition has not bothered to check all the facts before he makes allegations in this House. We are talking about two separate companies. I did what I believe to be the honourable thing when I found out about the contract by ensuring that I not have any say in the management of the company - I decided to remove myself further from the company so that there would not be a perceived conflict.
Mr. Penikett: Let me ask about the perceptions of conflict. Let me ask a question of fact. Can I emphasize to the Government Leader that I am not making accusations, I am asking questions.
Can the Government Leader indicate if the Mr. Al Williams whom he has appointed as his blind trustee is the same Mr. Al Williams the Government Leader previously appointed to the board of the Yukon Housing Corporation?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Williams is no longer on the board of Yukon Housing
Mr. Penikett: The record will note that the Government Leader did not answer the question.
Yesterday, I invited the Government Leader to categorically deny that, prior to obtaining the aforementioned subsidy from the Yukon Housing Corporation, he complained about the corporation taking business away from his apartments. The Government Leader said that he could not recall saying that. All Members remember that, a few months ago, he could not remember a $10,000 cheque that he had received.
I want to ask the Government Leader, in as kind and non-accusatory manner as possible, is there is any possibility that his memory might have failed him yesterday, and he might now recall making the complaint about the Yukon Housing Corporation taking business from his apartments?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I find it very offensive that the Opposition would be questioning me in this Legislature about my personal life, rather than dealing with matters of business. There is a procedure. If they would like to make a motion to deal with it, I would be happy to do that.
I went as far as to remove myself from any discussions or votes on the Yukon Housing Corporation, so that there would be no perceived conflict of interest. Question re: Yukon Energy Corporation, electrical rate increases
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Government Leader as the Minister responsible for the Yukon Energy Corporation.
Last year, there were significant rate increases. It is my understanding that the increases were due, in a large part, to the shutdown of the mine in Faro and that, with the reopening of the mine, the financial position of the Yukon Energy Corporation will significantly improve. In the Minister's view, is this correct?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Yes. There is no doubt that, with the mine at Faro coming into production, there should be a positive impact on the cashflow of the Energy Corporation. However, I believe that is a few months down the road. I do not believe that they are using very much power at the mine site, at this time.
Mr. Cable: According to the news reports, there is a very significant increase in the number of workers for the corportation, so presumably the cash flow will improve in the very near future. What is the government prepared to do to ensure that the utility moves for an application to reduce rates in a very timely fashion?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I should perhaps refresh the Member's memory. We have a rate relief program and it has been extended to December 31, 1995. By that time we will know what the impact will be of the mine at Faro coming back onstream. The company, in my understanding, has to negotiate with the Energy Corporation for a rate, and then it has to be approved by the Utilities Board.
Mr. Cable: I am not sure that answers my question. There are a number of things the government could be doing, such as laying a complaint under the Public Utilities Act or a directive under the Yukon Development Corporation Act, or perhaps even a change in the regulatory regime to make sure there is a rapid response to the increase in the revenues.
Let me ask this question, again with reference to Anvil Range Mining: who is carrying out the negotiations? Are they the politicians, members of the Economic Development staff or the Energy Corporation staff?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: It certainly is not the politicians. My understanding is that Anvil Range has been in touch with the Energy Corporation and they are trying to work out a rate. I can get more information for the Member if he likes. I have not heard any more about in the last couple of days. Question re: Conflict-of-interest legislation
Given that the Government Leader has tabled a bill that, apparently, considerably weakens the conflict of interest law passed in this House two years ago, why did he not consult with other MLAs about this legislation, as government leaders who have presented such legislation in the past have done?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member opposite has continually wanted us to proclaim his Public Government Act, and we said we would be coming in with a conflict of interest act that we feel is sufficient for a legislature of this size, and we will have the opportunity to debate it on the floor of the Legislature.
Mr. Penikett: The Public Government Act was a product of consultation with other MLAs and with the public, and we hope it met public expectations. His party voted for it in this House.
The Government Leader now proposes, in the new law, to give himself, apparently, dictatorial powers to unilaterally write a conflict-of-interest law. Given that that is at variance with the positions taken by the Yukon Party, in the past, on the floor of this House, what does the Government Leader think gives him the right to unilaterally write conflict-of-interest rules for Ministers in the government?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We can certainly get into the debate on that when we get into the bill. I believe that clause was put in the bill so that if a government leader wanted to insert more stringent measures than the conflict-of-interest bill proscribes, he had the ability to do that. That is my understanding of that clause, but we can debate it.
Mr. Penikett: I do not think that there is any apprehension or belief on the part of anybody here that that will be likely in the near future.
At some point, I would like to ask the Government Leader why he wants to lower the standards. Since the Government Leader's proposed bill is going to allow him to write the rules - but the rules are not actually in the law, and the law will only apply to Ministers, not to MLAs, political staff or public servants, as the previous law did - why is he weakening and narrowing the scope of conflict-of-interest legislation so radically? Does he think he has a mandate from the people to do that?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: No matter what we do on this side, unless we go along with socialist legislation, we are not going to get any support from the Leader of the Official Opposition and the other side of the House.
Members on the side opposite hammered at us to bring in some conflict legislation if we were not going to proclaim their bill, and we made a promise in the four-year plan that we would, and we are. We are bringing this legislation forward for debate on the floor of this House.
Question re: Conflict-of-interest legislation
Mr. McDonald: I am quite concerned about this matter. I raised the issue of conflict of interest in the Legislature last spring, only to learn that it was perfectly appropriate for Ministers to be engaging in private business while collecting a full-time pay cheque from the public.
The Minister has indicated that he felt there was a conflict of interest, sufficient enough for him to absent himself from Cabinet discussions about the Yukon Housing Corporation. Had the Minister absented himself from discussions with respect to the Yukon Housing Corporation at every opportunity before he established the blind trust for Rocking Star Holdings?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Yes. I advised Cabinet on May 5, 1994, that I would not be participating in any discussions or votes in relation to the Yukon Housing Corporation.
Mr. McDonald: I am referring to items before the date the Minister mentions. Presumably, the Minister has been involved in numerous budget discussions about the Yukon Housing Corporation, and probably policy discussions about the future of the corporation. Knowing that his company rented apartments, had the Minister removed himself from any discussions associated with the Yukon Housing Corporation prior to May 5, 1994?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I was more concerned about perceived conflict with things that Yukon Housing Corporation would be doing in the City of Whitehorse, and that is what I removed myself from.
Mr. McDonald: Are we going to be forced to draw out every element of the Minister's private business, detail by detail? He has admitted today that there is a potential conflict with the government. That is the reason he has absented himself from Cabinet discussions. He has indicated that he can no longer behave as a Cabinet Minister in Cabinet discussions because there is a perceived conflict. Do we have to draw out all elements of the Minister's private business on the floor of the Legislature in Question Period to assure ourselves that there is no possibility of even a perceived conflict of interest, or is the Minister going to release all information, in some sort of statement, that can give us a very clear picture of precisely what the Minister has done for each of the companies he has been responsible for while he has been Leader of the government?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I removed myself because of a perceived conflict of interest. I removed myself from the management of those companies because of innuendoes that came from the Opposition benches. I removed myself because of that perceived conflict.
Question re: Conflict-of-interest legislation
Mr. Harding: This new conflict of interest legislation that the Government Leader has put before us has us very concerned. I want to go back to a matter that I asked the Government Leader about on June of 1993. On that day I asked the Government Leader if he declared a conflict of interest at the Cabinet table when his government decided to grant moose hunting permits to an outfitter in the wolf kill area who was an immediate family member of his. This was against the recommendations of the Fish and Wildlife Management Board. In 1993, he refused to answer. Will he now tell me if he declared a conflict of interest in those discussions?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not know what you mean when you say a direct family member. I have nothing to do with my son-in-law's business - absolutely nothing.
Mr. Harding: It is outrageous that the Government Leader would say that, because, according to the registry, he apparently sold 51 percent of his business to his son-in-law. To say that he has nothing to do with it is not a very believable statement. On the floor of this House today, he told us that he had absented himself from discussions with the Yukon Housing Corporation because of a perceived conflict of interest. In our books, the situation involves an immediate family member. Again, I would like to ask the Minister this: why did he not declare a conflict of interest when he was at the Cabinet table discussing the extension of moose hunting permits to his son-in-law?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I am not going to talk about what happened at the Cabinet table. I have no interest in my son-in-law's business.
Mr. Harding: There is, at the very least, a perceived conflict of interest when the Government Leader is participating in discussions at the Cabinet table to extend moose hunting permits to a business that is owned by an immediate family member.
He refuses to answer the question I put to him. I will ask him again: did he participate in discussions surrounding this issue, or did he remove himself from the Cabinet room and the vote?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I have answered the question.
Question re: Conflict-of-interest legislation
Mr. Harding: I am very concerned that the fox has been put in charge of the hen house with the new conflict-of-interest legislation. It is very disheartening that the Government Leader is refusing to answer questions that are very important. Many Yukoners have raised this issue, and continue to do so, because they are concerned about it.
I am going to ask the question again of the Government Leader: did the Government Leader declare a conflict and remove himself from the discussions at the Cabinet table surrounding the extension of moose hunting permits to an immediate family member?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: My son-in-law is not an immediate family member. How many times do I have to say that?
Mr. Harding: I think that the problem here is that the Government Leader has been put in charge of this bill, he has tabled it before the Legislature and we, as legislators are going to be asked to vote on it. We cannot get a clear feeling that the government is really acting in a strong fashion to address concerns of conflict of interest, especially when the Government Leader refuses to see that there is, at the very minimum, a conflict of interest here.
Will the Government Leader answer the question: did he or did he not declare a conflict of interest when discussing the moose hunting permit extension?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I suggest to the Members opposite that we deal with the conflict-of-interest bill when it comes up. There is a conflict-of-interest commissioner in the bill to whom these kinds of issues can be referred.
Mr. Harding: The conflict-of-interest commissioner the Government Leader refers to is to be selected by the same Government Leader we are questioning right now, and who is refusing to answer the questions we are raising. I do not really think that solves anything for us.
I will ask the Government Leader one more time to answer the question. I would ask him, please, to answer the question about this particular case. We will be asking him other things, as well, as they have come up time and time again. Did the Government Leader declare a conflict of interest concerning the extension of moose hunting permits at the Cabinet table?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: In my opinion, there was no conflict of interest. My
son-in-law is not part of my immediate family.
Question re: Conflict-of-interest legislation
Mrs. Firth: I have some questions for the Government Leader regarding conflict-of-interest legislation. This bill that the Minister has tabled in the House, Conflict of Interest (Members and Ministers) Act, is entirely different than the bill that was part of the Public Government Act, which we debated some time ago in this Legislature. They are two entirely different bills.
I have some personal concern about the Minister's respect for the whole issue of conflict of interest, and whether or not he takes it very seriously. So, I hope he will answer my questions very seriously.
Firstly, I would like to ask him about the two different bills. One included public servants and appointments to boards, particularly public servants - deputy ministers, people who were leaving government employ, consulting with the government shortly thereafter and being perceived to have taken advantage of information they would have had access to as public servants. Why is his bill specific only to Members of this House and Ministers and why does it not include public servants or board appointments any longer?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I am sure we will get into the full debate on that when we come up for the bill, but my understanding is that it was the recommendation of the Department of Justice that it be kept separate - that it pertain only to the Legislative Assembly.
Mrs. Firth: Who is giving the direction here - the Department of Justice or the politicians? There is one Minister shaking his head, and he was the guy who stood up and agreed with the other bill that was in the House. The Minister of Health and Social Services agreed with it, the Minister of Tourism agreed with it, the Minister of Government Services agreed with it, you agreed with it, Mr. Speaker, I agreed with it, and at least three other Members on this side of the Legislature agreed with it. Now, the Minister is saying that the Justice officials recommended we keep them separate, so that is why we did it. I want a little more serious answer than that. Why did this Cabinet decide that it would only be for Ministers and Members?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: How many times do I have to tell the Member? We will get into full debate on it during the bill debate. I will bring her a written reply to it, if she likes.
Mrs. Firth: I do not want some Justice official writing something for the Minister to stand up here in the House and read. I want to know what these guys are doing. I do not want some bureaucrat telling me what they are doing. They do not even know what the heck they are doing. Whose decision was this? If five of the Members in that caucus supported the principles enunciated in this first bill, why did they come forward with this one? How was that decision made? Whose idea was it? Why did you do it this way, Mr. Minister?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: That is the way this bill has come forward. It is before this House for debate. We will get into the debate on it. We will get into second reading. We will get into it clause by clause.
Question re: Conflict-of-interest legislation
Mrs. Firth: I will take another approach. Obviously, the Member does not know why he did it this way, so we will try a new approach.
When we last debated this issue in the House, the public commentary after the debate was like this: editorials - politicians' ethics code a tenet of democracy; talking about standards, another editorial; loopholes big enough for an airplane; another commentary: conflict rules needed to restore confidence.
This is a Government Leader who has stood up publicly and said, we have an image problem; yes, I admit we have a bit of an image problem; we are going to do something about that.
In light of that image problem, why did the government not come forward with the previous conflict-of-interest legislation, which would have been far more publicly acceptable than what he has brought forward now, in order to address that image problem, in order to try to instill some confidence in the public that he was taking this issue seriously, and that he was going to ensure that there were some high standards of ethical conduct in the Yukon for Members of the Legislature, as well as for public servants?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We came forward with a conflict bill for Members of this Legislative Assembly that we feel is sufficient for transparency and for public accountability, and we will be debating that bill when it comes in front of this House. Why did we not come forward with the other one? I did not agree with it. I believe it was far too severe. It would discourage some people from seeking office.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We are talking about representation of the people by the people. We talk about that, yet anybody who is self-employed, who does not have his job protected for four years, has to divest himself of everything he owns, maybe his life's work, to sit for four years in this Legislature. Yet, their government went far enough to protect public servants and teachers by giving their jobs back in four years.
Mrs. Firth: I remember that debate. It was a debate the Government Leader wanted, to protect us all from bad people getting elected to office. That was the gist of that debate.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mrs. Firth: The Minister was Government Leader then. He stood in the House here and told us how he was going to protect us from bad people getting elected. They were concerned about the bad people.
Speaker: Order. Does the Member have a question?
Mrs. Firth: Yes, I do. I am just going to start it now. The Leader of the Official Opposition indicated it was not the bad people we were concerned about; it was the government.
This is my question for the Government Leader: he just told us that he did not support the previous legislation, and that was why it was not tabled here in this House. Am I to understand, then, that the official caucus position is that five Members of his caucus supported it, but he did not and, therefore, that is why the legislation has not come forward?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I did not say that at all.
Mrs. Firth: That is the way I read it. The Minister referred to the legislation as socialist, yet five of his socialist buddies supported it. However, he did not support it, so the legislation did not come forward.
I would like to ask the Minister a very serious question: in order for him to try and salvage his reputation and those of his caucus colleagues, would he consider withdrawing this mockery of conflict-of-interest legislation and return with the previous Public Government Act conflict-of-interest bill, so that we may have a sensible debate about true conflict-of-interest legislation?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I believe that the conflict-of-interest bill is a good one. We believe it is worthy of debate in this Legislature.
The Members on the side opposite were on this side of the House a couple of years ago, when that bill was passed through the Legislature. Why did they not think it was good enough to take over to the Commissioner's office to have it proclaimed? They only had to walk a block. I would like to have an answer to that question someday.
Question re: Faro electricity rates
Mr. Cable: I have some further questions for the Government Leader about electricity rates in Faro. There has been quite an extensive change of opinions in the media as to whether or not the government has done anything to get the Faro mine running again.
Could the Government Leader indicate whether there has been any proposal made to the mine operators with respect to the pricing and supply of electricity?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I know that there have been some preliminary discussions. I have not received a briefing note in the last couple of days. I do not know whether or not discussions are currently taking place.
It was my understanding that they were waiting for some preliminary figures from the company as to the anticipated amount of power that they would be using before they could come forward with the rate.
Mr. Cable: We have the draft Yukon industrial support policy, which we determined earlier this week had not passed into final policy form. It appears that we have Yukon Energy Corporation negotiators carrying out the negotiations.
How are these two linked together? We have this one proposition that the electricity supply may be linked to the price of metals, but we have a regulatory regime that would set out a different sort of proposition. What are the negotiators working on? Are they working on the draft industrial support policy or the law as it now stands?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The president of the Yukon Energy Corporation met with Mr. Forgaard about 10 days ago, but nothing has been finalized. No proposition has come forward to me, as the Minister of Economic Development, or to Cabinet.
It is my understanding that the Yukon Energy Corporation staff want to do an actual site visit to determine what the load requirements would be, prior to any proposition being presented to government.
Mr. Cable: That is not my concern. My concern is that we have two strains of directions to the negotiators: we have an industrial support policy - mind you, it is very vague and very fluffy - and we also have a regulatory regime and a mine that is about ready to start up.
How are the negotiators for Yukon Energy Corporation going to bring this matter to a ready conclusion? Has the Government Leader given the negotiators any directive with respect to energy policy and energy pricing?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: My understanding is that the recommendations of the Utilities Board are that they felt that industrial users should be worked into the cost of service. It is the Utilities Board that sets the rates in the Yukon, not the government.
Question re: Watson Lake safe home, budget cuts
Ms. Commodore: I have a question for the Minister responsible for Social Services in regard to the transition home in Watson Lake. Yesterday during Question Period the Minister suggested that the cost of protecting battered women and children in Watson Lake was outrageous, and this is from a man who charged $800 a day as a land claims negotiator, and what did we get for that?
I think what is more outrageous is the fact that these are battered women whom we are dealing with and it is much more outrageous than the thing that he was suggesting. The figure that he gave us at that time, which was less than he was getting as a land claims negotiator, was $700. I would like to ask him what he bases that $700 figure on?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The financial information that the department received from the Health and Hope for Families Society has been scrutinized and worked over by the department. The department has come up with a figure of what the cost is per day to keep battered women in that home. It is, my view, not an unreasonable amount.
Ms. Commodore: I think that the battered women in Watson Lake do have a problem with this Minister. The Minister yesterday also suggested that there were cultural reasons why some battered women refuse to seek protection at the transition home in Watson Lake. I would like to ask him right now if he could tell us what some of those concerns are. What is he implying when he makes that statement in this House in Question Period?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am not implying anything. I have been approached by members of the Watson Lake First Nation, the Kaska, who will not use the transition home because the philosophy that is utilized there is not the philosophy that they embrace, which is that of healing the entire family. They feel that the philosophy of the transition home is to separate them from the abuser and the relationship. This should not come as any surprise to the Member opposite. It is a common thread that one hears when speaking with people from First Nations. I am simply stating facts when I say that. It is of some concern to me that we deal and embrace the problems of all battered women in the Watson Lake area in the best and most effective manner possible. We are committed to developing a program that makes sense for the people of Watson Lake, and we will develop one.
Ms. Commodore: This is ironic. The Minister has people in his department who describe cultural programs as a bunch of crap and that is what is so serious about this.
I would like to ask the Minister if he could tell this House what is the percentage of First Nations women who have been in that home in the last year.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The issue is not whether or not some First Nation women use the home; it is whether or not some First Nation people refuse to use it. I am stating to the Member opposite that there are people who will not go to that home and use it when they need a safe haven.
I can say that in good conscience. I have been given that advice by one of the members
of the advisory committee that advises the Minister on issues such as this one. I have
also been told by individual people that such is the case.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will proceed to Orders
of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
OPPOSITION PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS
Clerk: Motion No. 5, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. McDonald.
Motion No. 5
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Member for McIntyre-Takhini
THAT the Yukon Party government mid-term report is misleading and partisan, and,
therefore, should not be funded by the taxpayers.
Mr. McDonald: My parents, who were both teachers, have told me in the past that self-evaluation is often an effective tool for students to use in order to determine whether or not their sense of progress is grounded in reality. Consequently, I have always believed that when the government wants to explain where it stands, what it has accomplished and where it is going, it should be afforded serious opportunities to do just that. I am nervous, however, about final report cards that are drafted by the students with a suggestion or hint that the results should not be accepted without at least a good, skeptical eye.
What we have here is a report that the Yukon Party caucus refers to as its caucus mid-term report. To say that it is biased is not a fatal criticism, in my opinion. We all have biases. We should all feel comfortable expressing what is happening from our point of view.
To say that it is misleading, and seriously so, is, in my opinion, a serious problem.
It does, in itself, justify forcing the Yukon Party, as a society, to pay for this
publication, not only for its production, but also for its distribution.
My thinking has evolved somewhat about the partisanship associated with this report, largely because I believe that, by the end of my remarks, I may be insisting that the Yukon Party logo be on every page of this report, and not hoping that it be purged from the report.
I feel particularly sorry for the citizen who receives this report, flips through it and tries to decide what is going on. They hear so many things, so many stories, so many conflicting messages, not only through the media - who are reporting those same messages in the Legislature here - but also in the coffee shops and stores around the territory. I feel sorry, because some of them might be inclined to polish off the old lunch box and check the bus schedule to the Casino project, not realizing that the government's vision has changed from the Casino project to a gambling casino - from a mining project to a gambling hall - not realizing that they may only have to go as far as Braeburn when it comes to checking into the next job. And we are now faced with the possibility that we have a huge coal deposit to exploit, and a giant electrical station to build.
These same citizens - our constituents, my constituents - might be inclined to believe that this government had something to do with negotiating the land claim agreement. They might be inclined to believe that the government had something to do with the construction of the Thomson Centre in Whitehorse, or even that they had truly developed an industrial support policy.
Some of these things add up to what I would consider to be a serious concern: a concern about credibility, a concern about honesty and government-funded publications, a concern about integrity and good government.
In picking up the document and flipping through it - and I will just do that, because I think it is important that I justify my comments thoroughly - we open it to the government's second page, and the first line item, entitled "Providing Good Government".
In the mid-term report, the government has said that they have balanced their budgets
in the face of what they called "budgets that had been climbing out of control".
We heard yesterday the Minister of Tourism going on about a $64 million deficit in 1993.
They make it sound as if balanced budgets are a brand-new creation, an invention of the Yukon Party. They make it seem as if they have gotten government spending under control. In order to appeal to their conservative constituency, they make it seem as if government spending has, in fact, come down. That is not the reality. The reality is that government spending has gone up, and gone up substantially and dramatically in the last two years. It is not the case that balanced budgets are something new to this Legislative Assembly. In five of the seven years the previous government was in power, the budgets were balanced. When there was a deficit in 1987, it was a result of the government wanting to invest approximately $30 million into the Yukon Energy Corporation, for which they had negotiated the transfer from the federal government.
Let us analyze precisely what has happened here. This is not in the mid-term report, but perhaps it should be. When the government first took office, they announced that they were broke. The word "broke" is pretty strong language. Broke means that you have no recourse, no control. Broke means that you cannot even fund day-to-day activities. Of course, in March 1992, the government had a $50 million surplus. By the end of the first six months after the Yukon Party came into office, we had a $64 million deficit. They said this was the result of the NDP government overspending in the first six months of that year. They said that, somehow, the government had taken a $50 million surplus and, by themselves, had overspent their budget by $114 million - all by themselves. That is ludicrous. The Minister for Tourism says it is dishonest. He is absolutely right - it was dishonest.
In 1992, the Government of the Yukon had intended to run a deficit, and they had announced that they were intending to run a deficit. They did this because they had a bank account. The bank account was there to handle emergency situations. It was there to handle various needs and to provide for infrastructure for this territory, including education infrastructure. The money was donated and dedicated to that purpose.
When the Yukon Party came to office, they not only accepted that as being the case, but they decided to do what the Government Leader likes to refer to as "making allowances for bad debts". They decided to make allowances for debts which, in some cases, they intended to collect. In a couple of cases - for example, in the case of the extended care facility - we are going to be recipients of a long-term payback. We are going to be the recipients of funding from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation for years and years to come. However, the full cost of that facility was written off in the transition year. This is thanks to the NDP. We can expect that, when the funding comes in from CMHC, it will be the result of brilliant negotiations on the part of the Yukon Party, and that they have managed to get their revenues to increase.
To indicate to the public that somehow spending was out of control and they brought it under control is dishonest. Clearly, not only was spending not out of control, not only were we not broke, but the financial situation the Yukon government was in at the time was not serious. Only a few months after having made the announcement that they were broke, they gave the all-clear signal, that things were under control. After only a few months, everything was fine again. If only Paul Martin could say, after three months of being in office, he could go from being broke - which he has never claimed the Canadian government is - to everything is okay. After only three months, I am sure he would feel he had died and gone to heaven.
In Yukon, after having declared an all clear, that things were under control and the Yukon Party had things well in hand now that they were responsible for the budgeting, we were told that budgets again were tight and that we needed to have the largest tax increases in recent memory in the Yukon to balance our budgets.
It appeared to be the case in some examination in the Legislature that what they were really responding to were federal finance officials' insistence that the Yukon government should raise its taxes. Initially, they claimed that they needed the tax increases to balance the books. A few months later, we discovered that the Yukon government not only did not need the tax increases to balance the books but they were going to spend essentially the same amount of money in new programs that nobody had heard of until the fall sitting of that year - millions of dollars in new program funding. So, we were out of the woods again.
Following that, and because the Yukon Party needed to claim that they had to fight this plague of a deficit, we were told that budgets were again tight, and this time, rather than seeking money through general tax increases, we had to cut public servants' pay. That is not in the mid-term report, but perhaps it should be.
On the same day that they brought down legislation to cut public servants' pay, they also announced that they were running a $20 million surplus for the year - a surplus that eclipsed by many times the amount of money they would be saving in wage decreases for public servants.
Each time they have taken an action, particularly an action that does not hold optimism for government finances, they have caused a crisis in confidence in this territory.
In the last couple of weeks - and even in the last couple of days - we have discovered that the government, in their fight to claim that there should be a deficit even if there is not one, has undertaken some even more creative accounting. They have transferred from one account to another $12 million that had been held for the Yukon Energy Corporation. All it does, of course, is to change the unconsolidated and consolidated financial position of the government. However, the government claims to believe only in the unconsolidated position. Consequently, what they have tried to do is to make the unconsolidated position look as depressing as possible.
Now, if the government had come to us and indicated that they wanted to change spending priorities, they would have been able to engage in an honest debate. They want to put more money into the north Alaska Highway, they want to put more into rotor power, or whatever it is that they are promoting, and they wanted to take money away from other programs. That would have been an honest claim, and we could have debated the priorities. However, they did not do that. All they did was to claim that there was a fiscal crisis, and that we were bouncing from one fiscal crisis to the next in this territory, in order to justify tax increases, program cuts and public service wage rollbacks. Yet, e
very year that this government has been in office, the overall spending of the government has increased.
In 1992-93, the year that we suffered the $64 million deficit, the government spent $420 million. In 1993-94 - last year - according to the latest supplementary, they are planning to spend $471 million. This year, by the initial estimates, they are planning to spend $474 million. Even though we have gone from crisis to crisis, from being broke to all clear and back to being broke again, wanting to fight the federal deficit, wanting to gouge the federal government for every dime we can get, we missed all the signals.
The only thing that we can count on, and that we know for sure, is that spending has gone up consistently each year the Yukon Party government has been in office. This is not in the mid-term report. This should be in the mid-term report.
We all heard about the tabling of last year's budget. When that budget was tabled before this Legislature, the government tried to claim that its spending from the previous year had gone down. All that the government had done in the process was simply refuse to identify in the margins and charts millions of dollars they intended to spend. By refusing to identify these funds, they could make the claim that government spending was decreasing.
When the simple question of whether or not the government intended to spend more was asked, they said of course, but that government spending was still decreasing, and we were told to look at the budget books. In the end, the spending will indeed increase, and the recent supplementary attests to that fact.
Another element that the government has complained about in the past is our reliance on federal transfers. They seem to believe that a test of good government in this territory is to reduce reliance on the federal government. What has happened? How would one report, in a mid-term report card, the success the Yukon government has had in reducing its reliance on federal expenditures? Well, the reliance quotient has actually increased. We are more reliant on public expenditures and federal government transfers now than we were two years ago. Surely, the government could not give itself a passing grade in that particular area.
We have listened to budget speech after budget speech, the Government Leader trying to defend the impossible, the government being broke, budgets tighter than drums that ultimately ended up with record-size lapses, government claims that taxes were essential to balance the budget, and then ending up with major league surpluses. We heard about the government wanting to fight their deficit, which is small in comparison to the federal deficit and, in turn, wanting to fight the federal deficit. We saw the government trying to screw every dime they could out of the federal government, either through devolution or through federal programming.
We have also listened to the government wanting to ensure that they receive their full share from confederation and federal transfers and, yet, they make statements about being concerned about growth in federal spending, and wanting to compare themselves and their financial record with that of the federal government.
Because none of that is contained in the report card, I think they must get a failing grade on their own self-assessment.
In Providing Good Government, which is the first title in the mid-term report book, they make mention of a number of projects that do not have anything to do with the finances of government. They talk about the service improvement program, and about how it was designed to obtain suggestions from the public and government employees on more effective ways of delivering government services. Since the debate about the government service improvement program, which was labeled a $400,000 suggestion box, we have not heard hide-nor-hair of this program. We have not heard of all the savings. I am sure that if there had been some even modest savings as a result of this program, the government would have put out a press release and held a press conference. The fact that all we have, still, is the $400,000 suggestion box suggests to me that they should have been a little more cautious about inserting this particular accomplishment into their mid-term report.
They talk about reviewing contract regulations to ensure government tendering is fair, equitable and free of red tape. When the announcement was made to review the contract regulations - which had just been reviewed only a year earlier - the government Ministers protested that they were going to do nothing significant with contract regulations, and that there was only some minor tinkering to be done.
To claim now, at this point, that these contract regulations are now free of red tape and that a major overhaul was done is dishonest and misleading. No such thing has been done; no such thing was even attempted.
There are a number of things that are normally contained in any section on providing good government that have been raised in the House, but, unfortunately, are not contained in this document. I am referring specifically to honesty and respect for the law, conflict of interest - those things that people normally consider to be the hallmarks of what good government is all about. Balancing the books is important. Being fiscally responsible is important. However, I would say that being honest and above reproach is also important.
The Ministers, in their responses to the Speech from the Throne, pooh-poohed any concerns we might have had about the government showing respect for laws passed by this Legislature. When it was pointed out that, in the past, the government Ministers had overtly and consciously broken the Workers' Compensation Act by appointing the president, when it was clearly the responsibility exclusively of the board, we were told that it was only a temporary breach of the law and that we should not be concerned about it. After all, they said, it was only going to last one month.
When we were concerned about the Financial Administration Act being breached, in the government's rush to write off - or, as the Minister refers to it, to make allowances for - bad debts, when they clearly should have brought in separate bills to accomplish that same effect, we were told that it was a technicality.
I thought to myself that one should do a survey of the prison system in this country and ask how many inmates thought that they were in prison for only temporary breaches of the law and in for only technicalities. You know, most criminals are not criminals 24 hours a day. Is it a new defence now for someone going before a judge to say, "Like, I only held a gun on a guy for five minutes, and for the remaining 23 hours and 55 minutes I was a law-abiding citizen." Well, that is not a defence. One does not break the law temporarily and decide that that is sufficient. One does not claim that it is just a technicality and, consequently, ignore the provisions of the legislation.
When it comes to enforcing the laws, the government can be quite selective. When it came to enforcing the revisions on foreign ownership under the Wildlife Act, they claim that they were concerns under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and that they felt that they would probably lose if they tested the Charter and applied that law. Yet, in the same breath, they say there are other provisions under the same act that could be challenged under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but they are prepared to enforce those elements of the act. Why is that?
The Government Leader says, "When you think I broke the law, when I was a private citizen, it was you who were in charge of enforcing the law, and you let me break it, so what is the problem?" The problem is ethical standards. If somebody, and certainly Cabinet Ministers, had consciously done what you say we had done, which is to refuse to enforce provisions of our laws, then that is a problem that we have to face. I do not believe for one moment that the NDP Cabinet ever consciously did that. So, the Minister's defence of being allowed to break the law, because he was a private citizen, is not a good ethical defence.
There are other laws - it is not just one or two. It did not start with the Workers' Compensation Act, did not continue with the Financial Administration Act, did not stop again as an off-shoot, or by-product, of concerns about conflict of interest under the Wildlife Act, or the Economic Development Act, or the Environment Act, or the Land Claims Act.
The Economic Development Act and the Environment Act say that we must review the economic strategy of the government. The government is now coming along and saying we did not mean the economic strategy of the government at the time the act was passed, we meant any economic strategy that the government has. They have not even done that. What about their own economic strategy? What about that document - Building Toward the 21st Century, the railroads to Carmacks document - they have delivered to federal Ministers as a template of their vision statement of an economic plan for this territory? We have not even had an annual review of that, even if you did make the ridiculous assumption that the references in the law were referring to anything other than the economic strategy that had been developed through thorough consultation and passed by resolution in this House.
The government is now saying that they are the government now, and if there is anything in the law that says they must do something - but, because they are the government, they have the power to change it, then they can ignore it - because they have the power, they can ignore it.
It does not mean that at all. The government cannot get away with that. What it means is if they do not like it, there is a process for them to change it. They can then follow rules that they like.
The process involves a Minister bringing a bill into the Legislature. It goes through first reading. It then goes through second reading and into Committee. There is an examination of the provisions. It goes to third reading and is passed. It is proclaimed, then it is law. The Minister of Renewable Resources says that they do not need a lecture about this. I think that they do need a lecture about this, because they have such a cavalier sense about what being a law-abiding citizen is all about.
We make grand statements in this Legislature about wanting to promote law and order in society, and showing concern about vandalism, petty crime, violence and serious crime, such as violence against women. Yesterday was the hallmark day this year.
We make grand statements, and we tell people to obey the law. If there are elected people who come in and pass laws, you obey them. It does not do for those same people to break the laws and, when called upon, to claim that the infraction was temporary, or was only a technicality.
No legislator should take joy in the label that they are an outlaw. No one should get any sense of satisfaction from the fact that they have the power to break the law with impunity.
Sure, the Ministers have power, but power must be used with some discretion, and there should be some respect for the way things work in a democracy. Ministers should not, under any circumstances, break the law and think that they can get away with it. They should not be surprised when a voice in the Legislature, or even a number of voices in the Legislature, call them to task for it.
In a mid-term report, given that respect for the law has been a significant issue in our Legislature, one would think that, at least whatever they have done that is good under the general heading of respect for the law might be something that they would champion.
It is not contained in the mid-term report, and there should be some reference to the government's desire to reform themselves in this area.
Another element concerning good government is the issue of conflict of interest. It is to ensure that people who are elected to office show respect for the public interest. We are not here to defend our private interests; we are here to defend and promote the general public interest. We have rules to ensure that takes place. They exist to remind ourselves that it is essential that people act only for the public good.
The government obviously feels that it is an issue. They have decided that, even though they are not going to proclaim the Public Government Act, which contained new conflict-of-interest rules, that this was one element of the bill that was important enough to merit being brought forward in the form of a new law. Do their actions in this area suggest that they are going to resist the practice of doing private business while they are conducting public business as Ministers? There is no prohibition in the law about that. There is no prohibition in the law about governments trading shares on the stock exchange. Should they not be concerned about these things, given that these issues have been raised as significant issues in this Legislature, time and time again, over the past two years? I would add that there has been considerable grounds and justification for raising these issues.
Can the Ministers tell us whether or not they are prepared to bring in a law that would prevent public servants from undertaking private business while acting as Ministers? No, they are not prepared to do that. During Question Period today we heard the most feeble excuse of all. It was an excuse that no self-respecting Minister would ever tell a legislature full of politicians, and that was that they were told to do it by the bureaucrats. They said that the bureaucrats made them do it. That would never pass muster in any legislature of which I have ever been a member.
If the Member for Porter Creek East was sitting right here, and he heard the Member who had assumed his seat say that there was nothing they could do about that provision in the bill, because the bureaucrats told them to do it, he would be crawling over this table, frothing at the mouth. Of course, he used to do that regarding most every issue. However, he certainly would have done it with regard to this issue.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McDonald: Yes, I am speaking about the former Member for Porter Creek East;
there is no such Member now. There is no possible way that the Members would have accepted
that kind of rationale or justification for doing what they have done. The Member for
Kluane would never have accepted that. He would have become red in the face. He would have
been standing where the Member for Mount Lorne currently sits and blustering his concern
about Ministers not taking responsibility for measures they bring forward, or suggesting
that is all they could do, because that is how they were advised.
Measures in the Conflict of Interest (Members and Ministers) Act that do not have any prohibitions about ministerial activity proscribed in law, and that makes the Government Leader, of all people in this Legislature, the gate-keeper for ethical standards for the Cabinet, a law that suggests that the commission that is in place to review perceived conflict of interest should be selected by the government side, is a law that is insufficient and inadequate to meet the needs of this territory, particularly given the history associated with this issue in this Legislature, and more particularly during the last sitting of this Legislature.
We are going to have plenty of time to debate this bill, but one would expect that an honest mid-term report would have at least addressed that issue, because that is an issue that a lot of people talk about.
I would like to move on to the next item, on page 2.
The second title on page 2 refers to the settling of land claims and implementing self-government. One would believe from reading the prose in this section that the Yukon Party government had negotiated a land claims agreement and finally wrestled it through the Yukon Legislature. It would lead you to believe that they had dealt with all the tough issues, worked their way through the tough policies, faced down the critics, worked with First Nations on a complex of issues that have monumental consequences, not only for this territory, but for the nation. One would believe that this government, through its hard work, had done incredibly ground-breaking and historic things when they came into government.
What the people reading this report do not know is that when the government came into power the land claims agreements were completely negotiated and the legislation to pass the agreements through the Legislature was completely drafted, and that there was no opposition in the Legislature none.
When the Minister toured the territory to explain the bill, he took along public
servants to explain the bill because he had not read the umbrella final agreement. When it
came time to explain the bill before parliamentary committees, he went with the Leader of
the Official Opposition and the Leader of the Liberal Party.
The fact that he did do that is laudable. The fact that he did not delay the land claims passage is laudable. The fact that he did not try to amend the land claims is laudable. But to leave the impression that he did everything himself is not right, not honest, not fair.
One would think, in reading this particular section, that the Yukon Party government actually put $3.25 million into the training trust fund, a training trust fund that they had absolutely no hand in developing or designing, or had anything to do with whatsoever, a training trust fund that had, in fact, been two-thirds funded before they arrived in the government benches.
To read from this particular section that somehow this is a major accomplishment of the Yukon Party caucus is not right. It is not correct. It is misleading.
The next thing we are going to hear from the folks across the floor is that 5,500 students graduated through the public school system, and they did it again the next year, and they did it again the next year. Well, lots of things happen every year. Even if all the Members went home, even if all the Members did not do what little they are doing day to day in their government portfolios, there would still be people graduating from classes in St. Elias School, or in Grey Mountain School, or in Porter Creek Junior High, or in Old Crow or in Watson Lake. People would still be graduating. Things would still be happening.
That brings us to the Yukon native teacher education program. This program produced its first graduates in May of 1993. F.H. Collins graduated a grade 12 class in 1993, and there were people graduating from grade 12 right around the territory. There were people graduating from grade 6.
To put this in this document suggests that, somehow, the Yukon Party had a hand in creating the Yukon native teacher education program. The only thing I remember about the Yukon Party's involvement in this program was that they were prepared to dilute it, which may have jeopardized it. They backed off because there was considerable controversy about that.
To put that in this document suggests they had a major hand in it. Why did they not put in the document that there were people graduating from the nursing services program, or the certified nursing assistants program? Why did they not put in this document that heavy equipment mechanics were graduating from Yukon College, as a demonstration of their commitment to training for the economy? They put the native teacher education program in this document because they wanted people to believe that they had a hand in the creation of the program.
This whole section on settling land claims and implementing self-government is
misleading. There is actually a suggestion that they had a major hand in inventing,
creating, developing and making things happen, when all they had to do, in reality, was to
do what was being done already.
When it came time to come into this Legislature, they did not face one iota of opposition. Just "let's go, let's go, let's go, let's get it done, let's get it done, let's get it done". That was brave of the Government Leader, and I laud him for that, because it had to be done at that point. The Government Leader says it should have been done before the election call.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McDonald: There is a lot that can be said about that. Let me say this. There are a lot of things going on in this territory. Every political party supported that land claims agreement. Any suggestion, any hint, that anything could have happened to that land claims agreement was inconceivable unless, of course, the Government Leader was not telling the truth during the election campaign, and he was, because he passed the bill. He brought it in. He brought the bill in that was drafted by the NDP government. He did not change anything. He just brought the bill in. He brought the agreement in that was negotiated by the NDP government and the federal government and the First Nations. He went through the mechanical process, and we should laud him for that, but he is taking credit for everything here. He is suggesting that his commitment to First Nations is evidenced by the fact that they went through the final mechanical process of passing the land claims bill in this Legislature.
The one thing they did not actually accomplish of the list of four items that they say they care about is giving high priority to negotiating the land selections of the other 10 Yukon First Nations who have yet to settle. He has given it high priority. After two years, he has finally appointed a full-time negotiator. There are no band final agreements, to my knowledge. There is a history of torment, concern and frustration coming from the Kwanlin Dun, to the point that I think it would actually be unsafe for the Government Leader to go into the Kwanlin Dun band office, from time to time. It would actually be unsafe for him to do that.
To suggest that he has given it high priority suggests to me that he has not applied much creativity or much political capital into seeing it happen. He has had two years to complete even one band final agreement, and has done no such thing.
I would like to turn to page 3. Page 3 begins with a section called "Yukon Control of Yukon Affairs". Now, what have they done? What have they accomplished in this task? The language is very careful here. They said that they completed the Northern Oil and Gas Accord, to transfer responsibility for on-shore oil and gas resources to Yukoners. Did they do any policy development work in those negotiations? Did they show any creativity in making it happen? Did they put any energy into seeing it happen, or did they sign the Northern Oil and Gas Accord that had been negotiated by the NDP government? Well, it was the latter, and they said this in the Legislature. When the Northern Oil and Gas Accord was signed, they made a point of saying that nothing had changed from the time the NDP government had negotiated it. Just to ensure that we did not ask any questions, and, just to reassure us that nothing strange had happened, they indicated to us that the accord had not changed and, consequently, they were there to sign the agreement.
The second item was to complete the transfer to Yukon control of the Whitehorse General Hospital and prepare for negotiations of phase 2 of the health transfer. Did they say that they changed the agreement for the transfer of the Whitehorse hospital? Did they get more money? Did they change the terms of reference in the negotiations for the transfer of phase 1 of health services? No, they did not change anything, but they signed the agreement. That is what has been completed.
Proceeding to the things that have not been completed; the transfers have still not been completed. They state that they are nearing completion of the forestry transfer from the federal government. That has been nearing completion for a couple of years now. We hope, in the third year, it will be completed. They state that they are negotiating the transfer of responsibility for the Whitehorse and Watson Lake airports. This is to follow up on the transfers of Arctic "B" and "C" airports and the highways system that were previously negotiated by the NDP government a few years ago.
These are the two "A" airports and we will have to see whether or not the government actually accomplishes these transfers and ensures that full services come with the airports.
The fact that they are in the process of negotiating suggests to me that these are two things that the government wants to signal to the public as accomplishments. They could have talked about negotiating a transfer of mining to the Yukon. That is a big issue. They could have said that they are looking for the transfer of federal lands to the Yukon. However, they have chosen forestry in Whitehorse and an airport in Watson Lake as if they are right around the corner. They make it seem that with a little bit of political energy the day will come.
In terms of the transfer of Yukon land and resources it states that they have presented a memorandum of understanding to the federal government for the transfer of Yukon land and resources. It is not new that the federal government has committed itself to transferring land and resources to the Yukon government. Federal ministers in the past, including Conservative ministers, have committed to the government that they would indeed transfer land and resources once land selections are decided under the land claims process.
From reading this, one might conclude that somehow the Yukon Party government had brought something to completion. This might suggest that the Yukon Party government had actually accomplished something. But, no, that is not what it really means; it only means that they have been working on three particular areas.
This section here says that they signed two NDP agreements and they are working in three areas. They have not completed anything but they are working in three areas. When it comes to protecting the environment and managing wildlife, a lot of things have been said about that in the Legislature. Many of the issues raised in the Legislature have not been identified in the mid-term report, but I am not surprised.
They begin with the wolf conservation and management plan. They adopted the wolf conservation and management plan. Correct me if I am wrong, but did the Yukon Party have anything to do with the design of the Yukon wolf conservation and management plan? I would have thought that the adoption of that plan made acceptable, in public terms, their other accomplishment here, which is commencing the Aishihik caribou herd recovery program. They adopted the wolf conservation and management plan that had been created by its predecessor government. They go on to say that in protecting the environment and managing wildlife they have developed special waste regulations, which incidentally were already in the works - and I know for a fact they were in the works - prior to the change in government, and were meant to run pursuant to the Environment Act, which was a new act passed by the previous government.
Come to think of it, in some ways we should be somewhat flattered that the Yukon Party has chosen to identify so many NDP initiatives as part of their accomplishments. Certainly, it appears to be somewhat flattering in a back-handed kind of way.
They have indicated that they put $18.4 million toward the Whitehorse sewage treatment problems - a good initiative.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McDonald: The Minister for Tourism says that the NDP would not do that. The Minister is wrong, and he can read the budgets for 1991 and 1992. The Minister of Tourism is clearly not being honest when he says that the NDP did nothing.
Speaker: Order. Would the Member please allow the Member to speak as the Member will have a chance to speak later.
Mr. McDonald: The government goes on to talk about recycling programs, the evaluation of the current programs that were undertaken before.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McDonald: The Government Leader is laughing about that. It says, "undertook an evaluation of the current recycling program, and expansion possibilities". It sounds as if the government cares about recycling and is going to do something about recycling that is dramatic and new. What it means is that they reviewed the NDP's program on recycling and undertook to see whether or not it could be expanded at some point in the future. They did not make any commitments to do that. That is what this item means. That is why it is on the list. The government is identifying it because they want to show the public, who care about recycling and the environment and witnessed the recent municipal election, that they are doing something. That is why they put it on the list. Read the language. They "undertook an evaluation of the current recycling program and expansion possibilities." They evaluated it.
The Government Leader should be absolutely embarrassed for having pretended that was a significant accomplishment. That was brave. They stared down raw pollution. They stared down waste, and they evaluated the current government programs. Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McDonald: This is how far the Minister of Tourism is out of touch with reality. The NDP, who funded the programs in the first place, is somehow doing less than the government who is evaluating the programs.
The Member responsible for the riding of Laberge asks should they not be evaluating the programs? Yes, evaluate this program, but evaluate other programs, too. The Government of Yukon has historically operated hundreds of programs, and there is a possibility that you can operate them better if you evaluate them. The government should be evaluating all of the programs. Why do they not list all the programs? Because they wanted to make people believe that they are actually taking action in the area of recycling. That is why it is included on this list, and that is why the list is not 100 programs long. I am sure that, if they are being a good government, they would be evaluating many different programs.
The government is trying to sell the public a bill of goods that they are suddenly interested in recycling because they are evaluating programs. They have stared down the tough policy issues.
I would like to turn to page 4, which deals with crime. As I have mentioned already, perhaps the first subsection dealing with crime is a resolution by the Yukon Party caucus that politicians and, in particular, Cabinet Ministers, will obey the law.
They are sworn to uphold the law. They pass the laws, they introduce the law and the legislation in this House, and they are expected to carry the law out. If they want to do something meaningful in terms of providing a proper role model for the citizenry of this territory, they would have resolved to obey the law themselves. That would make everything else believable.
Unfortunately, the list does not include that particular subsection. The list starts off with creating a new victim services and family violence prevention unit. One might believe that, for the first time in Yukon history, the Yukon Party introduced the government to the whole concept of victim services and family violence prevention. They appear to be setting up a unit - a SWAT team or a task force - doing something concrete and getting the job done. One might not understand that there was a victim services and family violence prevention unit already.
They are providing quality social care. I will try to move along a little more quickly, Mr. Speaker. On page 4, just to ensure that everyone is with me, there is a large picture of the new Whitehorse General Hospital that the government says they are responsible for delivering, and which they did, in their words, in the most cost-effective manner. They state that the new $47 million Whitehorse General Hospital is under construction, one of the largest construction projects ever undertaken by the government. One might get the impression that the Yukon Party came to office, identified the need for a new Whitehorse hospital and took the federal government by the scruff of its neck, telling them to transfer this responsibility to the Yukon government and give it sufficient funding to build a state-of-the-art hospital - "a hospital that Yukoners deserve".
They say that in so doing, they are going to undertake one of the largest construction projects and put a lot of people to work at one of the largest construction projects ever experienced in this territory.
Because all of us have been around a little bit, we know that this is not the case. They initiated the construction of the Whitehorse General Hospital after having created fairly significant confusion about the future of that hospital by delaying its construction for approximately a year, adding costs to re-design it. Certainly they have undertaken the construction of the Whitehorse General Hospital. That was expected under the health transfer, phase 1, that had already been signed by the previous government.
They announced the three-phase alcohol and drug strategy in May 1993. This is something that they have identified as an accomplishment in order to deal with alcohol and drug abuse after having worked with community groups and First Nations.
It may not be a surprise to anybody in the Legislature, but substantial work had been done when the government came to power. If they had said, "we continued the work in developing the three-phase alcohol and drug strategy and we completed the alcohol and drug strategy by implementing it", that would honest. Howerer, one is
given the impression that this was the first time somebody in this territory cared enough to develop a strategy, and in particular this strategy.
They have announced the opening of the new Thomson Centre, the extended care facility. Ever since that showed up in the mid-term report, it has been the butt of a lot of jokes in this territory.
They kept it closed for a year and then finally opened it. Who built it? Not the Yukon Party government. Who paid for it? Not the Yukon Party government. In fact, the Yukon Party government will be getting dividends from CMHC for the next 20 years on this particular project.
They charged the entire cost to the NDP government. The fact that they held the facility closed for a year is strange, given the fact that the Department of Health and Social Services received massive increases in its very first year of operation. The Government Leader went so far as to provide us with evidence of that during his throne speech.
This brings us back to the point about bringing expenditures under control. It is not hard to meet your commitments when you move a budget from $60 million to $90 million in one year. Yesterday, or the day before, the Minister of Health and Social Services protested that he had done great things to bring all Health and Social Services expenditures under control. He said they were out of control, and he brought them under control. They were out of control at $60 million, so he brought them under control at $90 million. That is brilliant work, and I laud him for that.
The next year, they shaved that budget by $1 million and called it fiscal conservatism. It went from approximately $60 million to just over $90 million, and he brought it down to just around $90 million - a reduction of about $1 million - and he said, "This is another example of governments cutting their budgets. This is another example of how this government is going to pare these exorbitant program expenditures that are crippling the future of this territory". He said they were bringing those debt creation expenditures that the Government Leader refers to under control. He refers to education expenditures as being debt creation and road building as being wealth creation. He said they had managed to bring that social services program funding under control. That is not hard to do if you bump up the expenditures by 50 percent in your first year.
I am sure that the people who moved into the new Thomson Centre very much appreciate that the opening took place, even though it was belated. I have a couple of constituents who were upset that one of their parents was kept in a crowded facility while waiting for the new Thomson Centre to open. We listened to all the concerns coming from government Members about how it was far too elaborate, and that we should be thinking about something much more utilitarian. We heard that we should not be thinking about having these fancy facilities for old people - after all, why do they deserve that kind of treatment and care - that here is a government going out and building Taj Mahals to support the seniors in our territory, who, unfortunately, will likely not leave the Thomson Centre, once they have entered it.
When, after hearing those messages, the government comes along and demonstrates its care and support for senior citizens, and shows concern about the costs associated with caring for them in a civil and humane way, the message rings hollow to a lot of my constituents.
One constituent of mine asked: if the government is so interested in warehousing, given that the Kelly Douglas company has just shut down, why do they not warehouse seniors in the Kelly Douglas warehouse? You have all the shelving you need, and you already have the forklift trucks. You can pack in literally hundreds of seniors in that warehouse, and think how low the operating costs would be. Oh, yeah, you could. I am certain you could watch over the senior citizens with closed circuit cameras just to make sure that nobody falls off the shelf.
Most people I have spoken to feel that money invested in the Thomson Centre and money invested in the care and support for senior citizens, living out their final months and years in that centre, is money well spent. Given the exponential increase in public expenditures in the last number of years, especially including the last two, to begrudge the senior citizens of this territory those expenditures is heartless. To talk about utilitarian boxes where you can warehouse people was considered a gross and awful thing to say.
They spoke about building a new seniors complex. I presume that is the Gateway housing project, funded by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. I am sure they had some small part to play in that project. We all know the history of the Gateway housing project. Unfortunately, it was not a happy beginning. Nevertheless, I guess we can take some comfort in the fact that it has been completed and that there is more seniors housing in the territory.
Let us come to the issue of providing quality education and training, for a moment. This is a subject that is very dear to my heart because I was the Minister of Education for seven and one-half years in this territory. I was proud to be playing that role - as proud as a person can be because I think many good people worked very hard to improve the education system and worked hard to ensure that the services and the facilities were more than adequate to meet the needs of our children and young adults.
The Yukon Party government's commitment to providing quality education and training appears to me to end with the title. In the first couple of years, we saw insignificant levels of expenditures in terms of providing improved facilities for our students. We saw some of the most furious debate in this Legislature over the need to provide some replacement schools and we heard the most idiotic, inconsistent defence for the government's actions, in the face of clear public opinion on the matter.
During the time that I and the NDP were in government, a number of projects were undertaken that were supported by Members in this House during that day. When I was the Minister of Education, there was hardly a question posed about education policy in the Legislature.
When spending proposals came forward for new facilities, they were supported not only by government Members, but also by Opposition Members.
When expenditures were proposed to build an activity room on the Grey Mountain Primary School, it was supported by Members opposite, even though those same Members now feel that the Grey Mountain Primary School has no future.
When expenditures were proposed for the Elijah Smith School, for the Robert Service School in Dawson, for the Watson Lake High School - Mr. Speaker, you, quite honestly, did have something to do with that school, because you had a real life outside of the Legislature at one point - and when expenditures were proposed for the north highway school and the south highway school, they were supported by Members of this Legislature. At that time, Members cared about education spending. Nary once did we hear a Member stand up and say that education spending in those areas was debt creation. Not once did we hear that we were somehow mortgaging our children's future by educating them.
When those projects went forward, did we hear anything about this government's concern about the cost of the facilities? Did we hear about the Yukon Party's concern that, because we were building classrooms with large windows, so that light could come in, and they were buildings that could last awhile, they were not temporary buildings? Were there any concerns from Yukon Party Members about that? The costs of building those buildings did not exceed the cost of building these public buildings, the public buildings that we work in, so why should we begrudge constructing public buildings that our children live, work and grow up in.
Now when it comes time to build schools, the government claims that it is debt creation and that building schools is a wrong expenditure, that they do not want to build any more Taj Mahals. The place where we are talking right now would be a Taj Mahal by public building standards.
We do not begrudge that. I have children right now in the school system, some of whom will be there for the next nine years, for a total of 12 or 13 years, and I want them to live in a good environment. I want to make that a priority expenditure for this Legislature, as do most other parents. Ironically, what is the picture they place in the mid-term report to identify their accomplishments in education and training? It is a picture of a school, a school they did not build - the new Catholic school in Porter Creek. They were there to open it. There is a theme here. They either sign the agreements or they are there to open things. The Government Leader is shaking his head. The Member for Porter Creek North is not even aware of what is happening in his own riding. The school did not break ground in November 1992, and then open in the spring or summer of 1993. I live right around the corner from that school. The money was identified, the planning was done, the ground was broken before the Minister even went door-knocking in his new riding.
It is only now, when they turn over the education system to a non-Yukon Party caucus member, that we expect to actually get some schools built in this territory. When the Yukon Party caucus has something to do with it, nothing happens. When they turn it over to their lieutenants, the Independents, things start to cook a little bit. At least, they make lots of announcements.
It is interesting, and I will just draw attention to this little anomaly that has always puzzled me. When the Yukon Party government does not want to construct anything, the Independent Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes stands up and says that the government is going to build a new jail, costing $16 million. They put it in the long-term expenditure plans. Meanwhile, the Yukon Party Members in that government say no to any construction activity, and no to schools. Then, when the Yukon Party member takes over Justice, that is the end of the new jail, and the Independent Member says, "We are going to start building schools".
I know Mr. Speaker is in the picture, but if I was in this picture and that was what was happening, I would be darned embarrassed to be a Yukon Party caucus Member. I would be particularly embarrassed if I were a Yukon Party Member.
Let us move away from school construction, because that is only one element of education. In fact, that is a secondary element. The primary element is what is taught and what is learned.
The government places as its finest accomplishment in education the Education Review Committee report, which reported on curriculum and special needs programs in Yukon public schools.
It does not take anyone with a long memory to remember that this initiative was started through an announcement - unknown to the Department of Education, incidentally - at a Chamber of Commerce meeting down the street. This initiative, which was going to be embraced by the Department of Education, incorporate all the partners in education and set the education system straight, was, first of all, unknown to the partners in education. I am referring to parents, First Nations, teachers - people who actually work in the system, or who make sure the system works. It was also unknown, but perhaps, not surprisingly, to the Department of Education, because the speech that they had written for the Minister of the day did not incorporate this desire to go through a review, to purge the education system of cultural programming, lifeskills and physical education, and move to the three Rs, and that sort of thing. That was something that was created by the Minister and the government's handlers probably a matter of hours, or a day, before the speech was delivered. It was an afterthought. It was not a fundamental underpinning of where the government wanted to take the education system. This was something that just came up, because it sort of sounded like a good idea at the time, like so much else that has been decided by this government and this Cabinet.
They make no long-term plans. They sit down at a meeting and say, "why do we not say that? I have heard it is popular." There is no strategic thinking in education and no vision. The government undertook to get this Education Review Committee underway.
First of all, nobody wanted to participate in the review. Do we not remember? The Minister of Education was pleading with the real partners in education to nominate someone. The people who nominated someone first were the teachers. What was the response when he finally received the nominations from the teachers? He asked for résumés from his own teachers - people who work for the Department of Education.
Finally, people decided that, my gosh, there has got to be some statement here. The government has been embarrassed, they have to do something, and we had better make sure we get involved in this thing or it is going to get out of control. So, then they nominated people to participate on the Education Review Committee. Then the government finally found a chairperson. Then what happened? The committee reported. What did the committee report - not only in the body of the report but also in discussions with the media, with me and with others? They reported to the government, to use the words of one prominent member of the committee, "to implement the Education Act". That is what they reported. They told the government that the direction had been set in education and that the people liked the direction and wanted it to continue. That is what the Education Review Committee reported.
So, when it came to talk about things the government seemed to like, which was things like testing and evaluation, the government finally fell back on the national testing that had already been agreed to by the Council of Ministers of Education. It came to things like moral curriculum, as it was referred to by the Education Review Committee. Where have we heard that before? We heard it time and time again during the Education Act review process. Where did we hear that there should be more emphasis on special needs education? This is all stuff that we know.
I do not want to say that the education system cannot be improved. It should be improved. It should be constantly reviewed, and it should be improved. However, the review process should not be started with deeply held and unpopular biases expressed by the Minister of the day as a last-minute addition to a speech to the Chamber of Commerce, which previously had shown only marginal interest in what was happening in the public school system.
There are other things in the Yukon Party's mid-term report that they have identified as being important. Quite frankly, some of them are important. There are such things as the girls-exploring-technology program, and the workshops on issues such as dating violence. These are the kinds of things that the education system should do. They should be encouraged to do this, irrespective of any political direction. I would doubt that they got any political direction to actually undertake these particular initiatives. However, the fact that these types of things are ongoing is a sign of a healthy education system. I am sure that there are other things that the Department of Education and the schools have been doing.
There is a supplement to the newspaper that identifies what is happening in the schools. If one does not read anything else, that supplement tells one that there is a lot of creativity, intelligence, dynamism and energy in our school system. That should be encouraged, not hindered. Those are good things. However, they are not the result of anything that I have been able to identify as having been initiated by Yukon Party Ministers.
The final thing they have identified under the subject of providing quality education and training is something that they referred to as "providing funding support to assist Yukon net in establishing a local Internet service". You are not going to believe how inconsistent the messages coming from this government to the local Internet service proponents have been. It may be that the Department of Education is, at some point, going to purchase some services from Internet. I say all power to them, as it is a good program and a good initiative.
The Government Leader returned from China talking about the information society, and how it is absolutely essential for us to reduce distances, to embrace new dynamic technology and to get on the information highway. It is wonderful that the Department of Education is interested in supporting it. The fact that the Department of Government Services is interested in purchasing some services is wonderful, as well. However, there is a stumbling block, and it was identified only a couple of weeks ago at a luncheon meeting that was attended by the two Independent Ministers in the Cabinet.
That message was that if the Department of Economic Development does not provide top-up funding for this program, even though they have a business plan that truly exploits all that the market will bear at this moment, this service will not get off the ground. Despite the fact that there is substantial financial commitment from users, despite the fact that there are substantial donations from national organizations, they are faced with a stumbling block coming out of the Department of Economic Development. So, if I were a member of Yukon Internet looking at this mid-term report and thinking to myself that the government was taking credit for all the hard work I put in but refusing to provide the minimal funding required to get it going, I would not think that this was a very significant commitment on the government's part. I would wonder why the heck this was even in the document.
This brings me to my favourite subject. My favourite subject is the one in the mid-term report, entitled "Encouraging Economic Growth". The government Members have spent a lot of time and energy trying to tell the public that they are not only good managers but that they are the only clarion call for business activity in the western hemisphere, and that the government, through its dynamic positioning in the world economy and through its encouraging words at cocktail parties, is the only government that can attract business to the Yukon. They are talking primarily about mining business, incidentally.
This is a government that puts so much emphasis into economic development that they have decided to not only invest the time of one Minister in the last two years to the task, but they have invested the time of three Ministers in the last two years. Rather than referring to this as a revolving-door portfolio, we are led to believe that the initiative and imagination of not one but three men has been applied to this portfolio.
Just yesterday, the new Minister of Economic Development started his case in defence of the government's actions in promoting the economy by defending the government's record on the abattoir. He could not have started it with a worse example. He virtually stopped many people from listening any further to his remarks. I listened to his remarks for a short time past the abattoir, and I liked some of the things he said, and I will get to those. Unfortunately, they are not in the mid-term report.
Starting with the abattoir, he must have understood that in tackling that particular issue he might be forced to face a small amount of criticism.
This was a project that was supposed to provide an underpinning for the agricultural industry in this territory and which was supposed to have had a real defender in the Member for Laberge. I remember the Member for Kluane, in previous Legislatures, speaking up vociferously for the agricultural industry, talking about how the government was always dragging its feet. Whenever the government did something, it was always too late. We got an agricultural branch; that was too late. We started new programs and research programs; that was always too late. We began to work on the abattoir; that was too late. I understand that. It may be a valid criticism to say that governments can do good things, but they can also be too late, or at least late. But to hear those same Ministers make a commitment in this House in Question Period that they are going to devote personal time and attention to ensure that the abattoir comes together, and then to have absolutely nothing happen and have an ex-Member of this Legislature, a Member for Hootalinqua, a member of the Progressive Conservatives, a member who made quite a name for himself in promoting agriculture, come along and express serious frustrations with the commitments of his ex-colleagues must tell the government something.
The Minister of Economic Development and Renewable Resources must have decided that he, in his remarks, is going to take the bull by the horns. He will take the toughest issue and address that one first. I think his remarks fell - to pardon the pun - on infertile soil. It was patently obvious that, while there had been the gestation of an idea and concept to get an abattoir underway, which had been promoted by the Agricultural Association, and that a plan had actually reached the point of a public consultation, it was eventually torpedoed by the Ministers, themselves, in the Legislature, claiming they knew nothing about it.
This sent a clear message to the proponents of an abattoir that this government does not care, that whatever commitments they had made in this Legislature to show personal time and attention to that project were nothing but a cruel hoax. I have to tell Members that the government is going to have to do more than make an application to select a lot to demonstrate to the public and the agricultural industry that they are going to do significant things in the next two years.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McDonald: The Minister responsible for agriculture has just said to me that we went through 40 lots and did not choose one. He is referring to the fact that, when the NDP government was the government of the day, they and the Agricultural Association pursued 40 different sites before selecting an appropriate site for an abattoir. We made a funding commitment to the abattoir.
I will take Members back even further: we began the agriculture branch in the Department of Renewable Resources. We started funding a whole series of programs through the Department of Renewable Resources. We were also responsible for making available lots of agricultural land, even during the land claims negotiations and land selection process. We showed significant commitment, as opposed to our predecessors, who had shown very little.
I remember standing in the Legislature, some time between 1982 and 1985, when the Member for Kluane was in the Legislature as a private Member. I was listening to the Minister of Renewable Resources make reference to the agricultural industry as just a bunch of frozen food producers. He felt that there was no future for agriculture.
It has come a long way. We are now at a critical stage where the industry is saying that in order for them to grow further, or at least to the next level, they must have some infrastructure. That infrastructure includes a abattoir, but that abattoir does not meet the expectations for the Member for Kluane. It is too expensive, too big and not sufficient. The Member for Kluane knows something that the industry proponents do not know, and maybe he is right.
The fact that the Minister and his colleagues should have let the departments for which they are responsible know about their feelings, but did not, suggests something about their care and attention to this particular issue. After all, as Members know, I was at the meeting where the old abattoir was discussed and where the government departmental representatives were present. There was not one word about any concerns about the abattoir project, as conceived, from Ministers to that packed meeting - not one word.
I came back thinking that the government had the project well in hand. I came back thinking that this was not an issue, and that the Liberals could take it off their three-item agenda for promoting economic development. I came back thinking that there would be no more questions in Question Period, and that we should be exploring other issues to see if we can encourage the government in other areas. I was surprised to learn that all of the assumptions that I had had were unfounded.
What would the Member for Kluane say if he were on this side of the House? That has always been a fascinating puzzle for me, because I thought I knew one representative for Kluane when he was on this side of the House. There is a completely different person sitting in that chair on the side opposite. I do not understand the political imperatives that drive him any more. I do not understand what his primary, basic concerns are anymore. I even had the misfortune to tell a constituent this summer that he was lucky that he was about to deal with the Member for Kluane, because he had had problems before in dealing with his problems. I told him if he ever wanted to deal with a person who would respond to the little guy, it was that particular Member. I said that if there was anybody, including Members on both side of the Legislature, who, as a matter of priority, would deal with the little guy, it would that Member.
I have to tell you, because this issue is going to come in the Legislature, I got egg on my face. The experience that this constituent has had has been nothing short of a disaster. However, that is off topic. I am here to talk about economic development and refer to the government's mid-term report.
The new Minister wanted us to buy into the Yukon Party's vision for development. This vision, as characterized by the four-year plan and the resource infrastructure Toward Self-Sufficiency by the 21st Century document that the Yukon Party published while in government, started off with the concept that, if nothing else, we were going to build roads to resources. We were going to promote a new concept of economic development. We were going to turn over a new leaf. We were going to put aside the old, tired notions of sustainable development. We were going to put aside those notions about diversifying our economy and aggressively support all industries, so that we would have a broad economic base. We were going to focus ourselves, for a change, on mining.
If we know anything about mining, it was going to be all about roads and power. Colloquially, the government's program was referred to as a roads-to-resources economic strategy. What did we immediately do? We applied ourselves to putting as much funding as we could into road construction and road development. What road did we choose? We chose the north Alaska Highway.
A major portion of that funding comes from the federal government and the U.S. government. It is called contingent funding. It means if we do not spend it on the rest of the Alaska Highway, we do not receive it.
A fair portion of that funding was also non-contingent funding, meaning we could have spent it anywhere we wanted to. We could have spent it on schools. We could have spent it on education programming. We could have spent it on ambulance training. We could have spent it on anything we wanted. We chose to spend it in the interest of the roads to resources program.
Some wag told me that the only road that the government was building was a road to resources in Alaska, and that it would encourage tourists to leave the territory all the faster, and there would be better transportation links between Alaskan resources and the southern 48 states.
Were we also building roads to mining districts? Were we building any roads to a mine? No, we were not. In fact, the only road program that the Yukon Party government decided they were going to get rid of was the resource transportation access program. This program figured quite prominently in the discussions at the Geoscience Forum recently. A number of presenters complained that there was no longer a program they could access to get roads to their resources. If they wanted to do medium-level exploration and wanted to get access to some particular mining area, there was no longer a roads program to access.
There was not even the old tote road program - which was poorly funded - of the previous Conservative government. There were no programs. There was no funding for real mines into real mining districts. We had larded all our money and all of our resources, taking everything we could from each pot - but not in Health and Social Services, where we increased expenditures dramatically - in order to lay it into the roads to Alaskan resources. I thank the Minister for that graph.
The issue, though, is that, when it comes time to deliver on their own rhetoric, and to provide roads to real resources, there is virtually nothing that the government has done to meet that commitment.
Part of that original vision, of course, incorporated the concept of other transportation links, and one has to give the government credit for that. They were not exclusively dedicated to building roads; they were also dedicated to some railway building, particularly a railway extension from the now defunct White Pass railway through to Carmacks. Why Carmacks? I am not precisely sure. Certainly, no one at Carmacks Copper has ever suggested that they need a railway link. Nevertheless, that was part of that vision.
I have to say - and I have mentioned this briefly once before - that I actually met up with a constituent during the election campaign who wanted me to stop raining on the Yukon Party's parade. He wanted to build that railway. He wanted to get out there, roll up his sleeves, polish off the old lunch bucket, and get out there and earn a decent, industrial wage. He did not know that there was no railway. He did not know that the government did not have a clue about what it was saying or that the Yukon Party did not have a clue. I was afraid to go back to that constituent the next year, when the government announced, as part of its economic vision statement during the capital budget, that the Casino project was just around the corner. I could have walked into this guy's kitchen and I am sure he would have had his helmet on the kitchen table, ready to go work at Casino. The government was so sure that everything was going to go and it was just around the corner - the project was on its way. The guy had been out of work so long, how did I have the heart to tell him anything about Casino? How did I know that when the government referred to the Casino project, it was actually referring to a gambling casino?
What is a person in the Opposition expected to do when it comes to the Division Mountain coal project, which has not even gone through a basic feasibility study? Yet it ranks prominently in the throne speech and it is now the centerpiece of the vision statement. What are we supposed to do? We bounce from one mega-project dream to another mega-project dream and, so far, all we are actually constructing is the road to Alaskan resources.
The Member for Klondike seems to feel that the Yukon Party is virtually exclusively responsible for the message to open up the territory to mining and, not only that, is responsible for the increase in the exploration activity. He goes on at great length, at every opportunity, to compare the Yukon with British Columbia, where British Columbia wants to get rid of mining and Yukon wants to invite mining. Never mind that exploration expenditures in northern British Columbia exceeded those in the Yukon this year and are expected to exceed those in Yukon again next year.
That is a detail. We are supposed to believe that a statement that the government is open for business is, by itself, responsible for increased exploration activity, and will ultimately be responsible for increased mining activity. Mineral prices are up, which bodes well. I am certain that will encourage some real exploration activity and some real mining. I am not certain what effect the cocktail party in Vancouver had. If it had been one part of a broad campaign, it would probably not have been an unwise expenditure of time on the part of the Minister of the day.
I give him that. I am sure that the program of expenditures to the Yukon mineral incentives program have provided significant help to basic exploration activity in this territory and to medium level exploration activity. The government does make mention of the fact that they have had good results from that program funding. However, the mineral incentives program was not a creation of the Yukon Party. In fact, the funding levels in those programs have not changed one bit. While the gross expenditures of the government have gone up, the funding levels in those programs have not changed at all since the government has been in office, even though it is a stated government priority.
When the presenters at the Yukon Geoscience Forum were talking about government actions, they mentioned the RTAP program, which was cancelled, the Yukon mineral incentives program, which they said was good, and that there is a mining facilitator. One thing that I must hand to the government is that, in choosing a mining facilitator, they chose probably one of the most respected people in the mining community in this territory. That is what they have going for them. That will at least ensure that the mining community feels some increased level of comfort when it comes to having somebody who might guide them through the maze of the regulatory regime that they are destined to enter at some point. I can also tell you that the mining facilitator will face enormous frustration, if some basic policy work is not done, and I will refer to that in a moment.
This brings me to the issue of the Implementation Review Committee and the placer authorization. There was no concept back in 1987, 1988, 1989, and prior to that, that any regulatory process or review conducted by the federal government would involve any stakeholders at all. It was not even in their vocabulary to sit down at the same table on the same committee as federal public servants and engage in any tough policy work, such as that involved in the placer authorization. It did not occur to them, whether it was dealing with the placer authorization or even dealing with the Yukon Placer Mining Act and corresponding acts.
What government was it that lobbied heavily with the Klondike Placer Miners Association to get the process opened up to the stakeholders in the industry as well as to other governments?
What government was that? Was it the Yukon Party government? The answer is no, it was not that government. What that government says that they have done is that they have come along and, with their one representative, have managed to wrench a decision out of the IRC to provide for a placer authorization process that would work. Arrogance. To suggest that the previous member on the committee, who is considered to be a trusted civil servant in the present government, was there to, and could by himself, torpedo any thought that there would be a reasonable placer authorization process is ridiculous. And to suggest that the new member on the committee, by themselves, was able to change the whole process and the whole tenor of discussions to provide for a reasonable process is equally arrogant.
It is downright pathetic when one thinks of what could have been done in terms of policy work and what the government is claiming credit for. When it comes to the Faro mine, the Yukon Party Members love to talk about the Faro mine and what they are prepared to do. In fact, they state in the throne speech and in other government publications that what they are planning to do is to reopen the Faro mine. It is a big priority for them. They could see it happening anyway so they are going to be in there and open it up. They can see United Keno Hill getting started, so they are going to be right in there opening it up. When one talks to the proponents of either of those two companies they both say - and one has said publicly, in the case of Anvil Range - that the government is virtually irrelevant. One mining executive, in the case of Faro, recently had the nerve to say that the people in Toronto were more interested in opening the Faro mine than the Government of Yukon is. Why would he say that? It was not rebutted by the government, probably because it was true. But when the mine was suffering, all the Yukon Party Members can say right now is that it was a sick patient, it died, and that if they had put any resources or any hustle into opening that mine at all, it would have been wasted - we could have wasted lots and lots of money; a patient at the side of the road was sick; we could have resuscitated him but it would have cost us resources and time and energy; after all, when we did not, the patient died.
I hope that is not a new ambulance policy in this territory.
What it means to me is that, if someone is lying prostrate on the ground and the ambulance crew is following Yukon Party directives on saving money, they are going to wait and see when the person has stopped breathing. If the patient stops breathing, they will know they should never have helped out in the first place.
They will have saved money and made a virtue of it. Were there other ways of hustling to ensure that Curragh or the Faro mine could continue? These government Members were so interested in divorcing themselves of the project, that there was no hustle put into it at all and it was patently obvious to everyone watching. Anybody who goes to Faro will know better. Anyone who asks anybody in Faro knows better. You cannot fool those people. They analyze every last thing the government does.
When it comes to mines that are close to operation, the government does not know what to do. When it comes to promoting exploration, the government knows how to use NDP programs. When it comes to any real hustling and any real policy work, the government does not have it in hand. What substantial policy has the government identified that they want to institute that would help the mining industry, for example? Is it the industrial support policy? This policy is supposed to incorporate a full range of support options that the government can apply to encourage a mine to go ahead. I have absolutely no idea today whether that policy is in effect. I do not know what they are doing with the policy and they do not know what they are doing with policy. Two days ago, the Minister for the Department of Economic Development said that the policy was draft and when it came out we would all hear about it.
The Government Leader provided me with a letter yesterday that he has sent to Archer Cathro & Associates about the Division Mountain coal project, where he states that there is an industrial support policy in place and that the mining company can take advantage of the policy. Where is the policy? Is it or is it not a policy?
It is in the mid-term report as a policy - the government states it prepared an industrial support policy. What does it mean? The Minister of Economic Development, who should know, says there is no such policy. He admits that they are using this non-policy as the terms of reference for negotiating with new mining operators. Under questioning, he says that perhaps they are not using the policy, but they are using the principles of the policy. When asked what the policy principles are, which he obviously does not know, he says they are in the throne speech - they are not in the throne speech.
What is going on? Who is negotiating with whom, and on what basis? On what principles and policies is the government negotiating with the mining industry? I have heard report after report from mining companies that have talked with the Minister or the Government Leader, and the Minister has asked them if they need a road. The mining company replies that they have a nice road. When asked if they need power, the mining company says they have power. The government then indicates that they have nothing more to talk about, thank you very much, we will see you later, and all power to you.
I am sure that is going to get a lot of things done. I am sure the government is going to take credit when the mines actually get started. It is not the first time that the folks across the floor have taken credit for things that they have not done. It goes as far back as 10 years, when they were in government before.
I recall asking - pleading - as the Member responsible for the Mayo riding, for the government to provide some assistance to people in Elsa. It was their position, at the time, that the people in Elsa were vassals of the company and, consequently, were not true citizens of the territory and were not deserving of government benefits. The point was that they were not interested in providing any financial support, certainly, or even any other kind of support, in the use of their good works, to support that particular mine. Yet, do you know what happened the very next year, when the mine opened up on its own? It was paragraph 1 in the throne speech. So, you can just sense the government now positioning itself and getting ready to take credit for Anvil Range and United Keno Hill when they actually start running. When Carmacks Copper comes onstream, they will be front and centre.
The government asked the rhetorical question yesterday: how can you blame the high unemployment on us two years ago, and then say that we are not responsible for the improved economic picture, or climate, in the territory today? Well, we can do both, and it is justified to do both, because the government did nothing then, and it is doing nothing now. Consequently, the fact that it did nothing then contributed to the high unemployment rate. Why should the fact that they are doing nothing now automatically be assumed to result in economic activity? Why can we not assume that mineral prices have something to do with the increased economic activity?
The thing that was most talked about at the Geoscience Forum, and most talked about at the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment's day-long review of mining in the territory, was the issue of environmental development assessment. Where in the mid-term report does it refer to the development assessment process? Is it identified in an act that was passed by this Legislature, as part of the land claims agreement? Where does it say that the government is going to work to make sure that happens?
I understand that the clock is ticking now. They have two years to deliver an appropriate one-window development assessment process. Where, in the throne speech, does it say that the government has any intention of leading the discussion to provide for a reasonable development assessment process? Well, it does not say anything in the throne speech, and it does not say anything in the mid-term report. The government has absolutely no intention of doing anything of substance in this area, even though that is probably the toughest, most important policy area affecting the mining industry today.
It would probably require the toughest political thinking, the most political capital, the most energy and the most imagination of any project possible in promoting the economic environment in this territory.
I would bet any money what these government Ministers will say when asked what they are going to be doing to ensure the development of an appropriate environmental review process: a true one-window approach, and a comprehensive, efficient development assessment process. They will say it is the federal government's responsibility. They will say that all the resources are the federal government's. Never mind the fact that they are a signatory to the land claims, and never mind the fact that they say they can have significant influence on mining policy. They are a member of every board and committee struck to discuss federal mining legislation. Never mind the fact that devolution is on the way, and never mind that they are probably the only government positioned to really care about the success of that process. It is a minor issue for the federal government, but it should be the most important issue for this government in this economic field. However, there is not one word anywhere about their intentions to do something serious in this area.
The only thing that has any relationship to this subject is their willingness to participate in a national program to harmonize environmental regulation across the country. What about the tough processes involved in winding up what the Water Board is doing, winding up what the Federal Territorial Land Advisory Committee is doing, winding up the Lands Application Review Commission or winding up the whole approval process for fisheries authorizations - what the placer mining committee is now doing - in order to ensure that there is truly one window?
The government must be aware that, in the last little while, everybody has bought into the one-window concept. Everybody wants to include everybody, but all the existing processes all believe they should be including somebody so, now, it is coming close to being a nightmare. Everybody wants to include everybody. If there is no energy put into ensuring that the development assessment process is the only one, then we are going to have, on top of everything we now have, the development assessment process II.
Everything that everybody has to go through now is going to have to be endured two years from now, but they are also going to have to go through a development assessment process, too, even though that was envisaged by all governments, by everybody, to be the only process. So why is the government not embracing this? Why was it not in the throne speech? Why was no energy put into this and identified into the mid-term report?
It is because it is tough policy. Any government that successfully manoeuvres its way through that deserves credit for generations to come, but it takes a lot of creativity and it takes a lot of hard political work, because there are 14 governments out there in the First Nations. There is the federal government that has never made this a high priority, or at least it has its own agenda to follow, and I am never sure precisely what that agenda is; it quite often is not the Yukon's agenda. There are a myriad of organizations that have an interest in development - everything from the Chamber of Mines to the Conservation Society.
To develop in that climate a regulatory process that makes sense for the Yukon today would be a true accomplishment. It could not be diminished by any criticism whatsoever. Even the attempt to try it could not be criticized. Even failed attempts could not be criticized, if they were honest ones. But they are not on the agenda. This is not on the agenda. If I were the Minister or Government Leader, I would have my head in my hand, too. I would be absolutely shattered, because if it is not in the throne speech, not in the mid-term report, not in the statement issued by the one Minister now for Economic Development and the environment, it is not possible now to come forward and say, "we were going to do that, too; by the way, that was one of the other projects we were going to do, because that is the most significant project and the toughest project".
The Government Leader says "do some research". I have read the throne speech. I have listened carefully to the remarks of the various Ministers. I have listened to the Government Leader's remarks. I have done a review of Hansard. I have read through the mid-term report. I have gone back to Yukon Party promises. I have even looked at the final page of the mid-term report, which just talks about looking ahead - the vision statement.
The point of the matter is that this most significant of policy areas is not given even lip service by the government Ministers. They may be doing it in secret. That is not unheard of. We know that the whole European tourism marketing program is being done in secret, so it is not unheard of that this significant policy area in economic development could not be done in secret.
For all I know, there may be secret agents now scouting out the Chamber of Mines. There may be secret agents right across this territory looking to see what they can do to size up this considerable problem and wrestle it to the ground. If there are, they are truly and effectively secret.
I would only encourage the government to re-think or re-jig its priorities in that particular area. The clock is ticking, and quite seriously this is one area to which the government must really respond. They are the best positioned government, given that there is no clear leader. There is no rule book that says the Yukon government, the federal government or the First Nations have to lead, but this government should care the most about the problem and should take the leadership role, certainly in the absence of anyone else.
What about small business? What about other businesses? What about encouraging other sectors of the economy to expand and to show some growth?
I remember getting questions from the Members on the side opposite about economic diversification when I was Minister of Economic Development virtually every week in the Legislature. They were always concerned about what was happening in the various, small communities. What are you doing to diversify? I have been told by this government that there is no point in talking about that subject, because it is absolutely impossible to measure. So why ask such dumb questions?
There are things that governments can do to encourage business activity. That brings us to the issue of financial support.
This has been one of those classic puzzles - classic in the sense that it has never been resolved. What does the Yukon Party stand for when it comes to loans and grants? Where does it stand when it comes to supporting investment capital for small business?
On a couple of occasions, I have asked the government, at a minimum, in terms of new initiatives, to bring together the small business community and the investment community, including the Yukon government, the federal government and First Nations, to discuss access to capital for business enterprises.
It is so often the case that small business finds it difficult to understand the rules or the expectations of investors, to determine their limitations. Every self-respecting small business in this territory has long-term plans, plans that involve expansion, plans that show some growth. Quite often, these plans are limited by a business' access to capital.
People talk to me, not every day or every week, but regularly, about the problems they have, particularly with the banking community, or problems they might have with the business loans fund, or problems they might have with FBDB. They are wondering whether or not there are any venture capitalists, in the classic sense, at all in this territory, or whether they simply have not gotten it straight as to what reasonable and realistic requirements are in order to even make application for funding from any agency, private or public. There was a point there where a Minister did agree that this was something that could be pursued by the department, yet his successor decided that was not a priority for him. He decided that was not an issue, and he essentially nixed the project - no more project, no more energy in this particular area. It remains a concern. If the new Minister of Economic Development decides it is something that might be a useful investment of their time, I would encourage him to engage in that particular review.
Where does the government stand when it comes to loans and grants, generally? When the government took over only a couple of years ago, they were putting advertisements in newspapers, encouraging people to come and make more applications for the loans funds. They said they were not getting enough takeup. They made a financial investment in encouraging people to take more advantage of the loans funds that were available.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McDonald: That is a good point. One Member says that they were phoning business people and suggesting that there were interesting and good ways they could spend the money, in case the business community did not have sufficient ideas of its own.
At the same time, they were saying that the economic development agreement, as one funding vehicle, should be supported and enhanced. In effect, there was a concern expressed that this may no longer be a funding priority with a new government. So, things were going along. We were assuming that there was not a lot of change in terms of government policy with respect to the basic desire for government loan funding. We felt that there may be some increased effort to ensure that there is more care taken in respect to there being no competitive advantage being given to anyone as a result of receiving public funds. In the end, we thought that things were, basically, business as usual.
Then, the next Minister comes along and says, "We do not believe there should be any grants or any loans. We do not believe that is a role for government at all". He does not know whether or not the private sector can pick up the slack. He does not know whether or not the banking community can. He believes, as a matter of principle, that the government should not be involved in loan funding, period.
And it certainly should not be involved in grants. Grants are out of the question, not that there are a lot of grants left in any of the programs.
When the Minister was questioned about what he believed now as Minister and what he had done when he was in private business, we were informed that the Minister had, while owning a private business, indeed taken advantage of government funding programs and had in fact accepted grants.
It was not unheard of for the same Minister to be criticizing anyone else who may have been asking for government grants as being nothing more than leeches, sucking from the public purse. But, w
hen it came to his own business, it was perfectly acceptable to come forward and get grants, and for good purpose, presumably for good economic purpose and presumably it was a good return to the economy. I do not know.
When asked why he would apply for and accept grants and why it was completely unacceptable for anyone else to even think of approaching government without being guilt-stricken for loan funding, he replied in his defence that he did not apply for grants, his company did.
I know something about small business and I know that it is very difficult for a company with a couple of directors - only two directors - to make a major decision, such as applying for $25,000 worth of grants, over the objections of the chief executive officer. That is virtually impossible, I think.
Circumstances have changed so dramatically from five years ago. The Minister has had such an incredible change of heart or he is being inconsistent. I think that that is something that the government should be reviewing, so that we get a consistent policy. Admittedly, that is the one area in which they say they are going to review their programs, because now the new Minister is not sure whether they want to proceed with business loans programs or not.
Two years ago, we wanted more loans, more ideas, more uptake. Last year, it was no loans, no grants, nothing. Now maybe we will, maybe we will not. This has to be resolved. This is one area that deserves a conclusion. It will not take a lot of heavy-weight thinking to resolve it.
What about other business activity? What about the government's relationship with First
Nations? The Government Leader took a few moments yesterday to vent on the record about
the Taga Ku project. I am going to do the same thing.
I am not going to go into the kind of detail the court case involved in terms of providing information, but I will go into sufficient detail to make my point.
Yesterday, the Government Leader tried to make the case that, if the government did make a mistake in terminating the contract with Taga Ku - the one big project and the biggest project ever attempted by a First Nations group in this territory - and if the government had broken that contract, I - meaning me personally - was morally obligated to save the government from its own folly. I was responsible for telling them. I was responsible for setting them straight. I, who had no credibility with the Yukon Party at all. No one talked to me and no one phoned me - nothing.
The Government Leader said that if I had made a decision, why did I not say something during the election campaign. I want to tell the Minister that I made a decision, along with the full knowledge of my colleagues, to do exactly what was done. I wanted a real agreement with Taga Ku. Would it not have been wonderful to announce that a Taga Ku project was underway? Would it not have been wonderful to say that we were going to be able to cement Northwestel's head office in the Yukon? Would it not have been wonderful to say that the biggest business project ever undertaken by First Nations of this territory was going to proceed? Would it not have been wonderful to say that, around the corner, there would be hundreds of construction jobs? Would it not have been wonderful to say these things, if one was completely confident that it was going to happen?
I did not want to raise the spectre of a railway for Carmacks. I did not want to raise the spectre of the Casino project or Division Mountain coal. I wanted to see a project that was absolutely clear, because I did believe in that project. We believed in that project, and we had made it very clear on the public record that we believed in that project.
That project was more than a construction job or two, or even 100 or 200. That project was more than simply cementing the head office for Northwestel in Whitehorse, which, incidentally, is leaking like a sieve into Yellowknife even as we speak. That held more meaning to this territory than some better office space for public servants. I do not want anyone across the benches to tell me they do not care about the subject of how public employees are housed at their work.
Only a couple of days ago, the Minister of Department of Health and Social Services championed, as a big initiative of his, that he was finally able to put public servants into decent accommodations, something that the NDP refused to do.
This project means more than the convention centre which, incidentally, was raised as an issue at the Geoscience Forum. This project was not only the hope of the Champagne-Aishihik Band, but of all First Nations who felt that they were allowed to get into real business activity in this territory. Did I and my colleagues support that project? Absolutely. Did we accept criticism from Members opposite about that project? Absolutely. Did we hide from our support? Did we say, just before the election, that it had all been cancelled, we really did not mean it? Did we try and do that? No, we did not.
We did not use the pathetic tactics that the Government Leader has used to try and distance himself from the Boylan contract. No, we believed in it before the election, we believed in it during the election, and we believed in it after the election.
The Government Leader says I was pretty quiet about it. Did the Minister even take time to read the judge's decision in this matter? Do you know what the judge said? He said, effectively, that even if I had not testified and not claimed to have said anything to my department, that it defied common sense for anyone to believe that the hotel and the office space convention was de-linked. It was published in the newspaper in early September that the project was de-linked. Even reporters are questioning what is with this government, that they must have known. Everybody in the territory knew except them.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McDonald: The Government Leader and his little puppet, the Minister of Tourism, is saying that the NDP governed in a pretty loose manner, that they did not have a big, long paper trail to cover every last decision they ever made. This is the same government that has just given the big green light to Division Mountain coal proponents, saying go for it. They do not know the economics of the project, they have no feasibility studies, they do not know what the business acumen of anyone involved in the project is, but they are saying to go for it, because they have a vision.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McDonald: This is a government that wants to promote extensions of railways to Carmacks that have been defunct for five or six years.
The Minister said his government is not afraid to put it on paper. Well, he should be afraid to put it on paper.
The point is that, after listening to the evidence and reading the judge's decision, where he says it defies common sense to believe that it was not de-linked, it says a lot.
It says a lot. This is supposed to be a commonsense government? Nonsense. This is absolutely ridiculous. For the Government of Yukon now - which had a clear agenda to deep six that project well before the election and to promote the interests of others who will be impossible to identify now because they are so buried into the Yukon Party organization - to now say that I had an obligation to save them from themselves is ridiculous. Well, the justice system does not believe in the Minister's position, the courts do not believe in it, an independent arbiter does not believe what the government is saying, and neither does anybody else, including the media commentators who have been following this project for some time. Nobody believes it, and I do not believe it, either.
The government had another agenda, and I do not care what facile comments the Minister made in public at the time, saying that they were going to live by NDP contractual commitments.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McDonald: The Minister says it is going to come back to haunt me. It may come back to haunt me, because I might be in the government and asked to pay for the government's mistakes today. It may well come back to haunt me. And that is an injustice.
I will tell you one thing. The people who are truly responsible for this project, and who have just lost the court decision to prove it - the people who are truly responsible for what has happened - may not be the people who have to pay for it. Somebody asked me why the Government Leader and others who are responsible for the decision should not pay for it out of their own pockets. Why does the taxpayer have to pay? That is a good question, and so I asked the Government Leader, in the interests of trying to do the appropriate and mature thing, once that part of the court decision was lost to try to start negotiations so that huge penalties would not have to be paid and so that a project might still be there. Maybe it will be a different project. Maybe Northwestel is too far along leaving the territory. Who knows? Maybe the Champagne-Aishihik Band cannot get the funding. But at least the mature, responsible attempts should be made in order to avoid paying the penalty.
What did the government do? It said no, no, no, we are going to try to win this on other grounds. We are not going to try to win the point of whether or not the contract was broken. It was clearly broken. We are going to try to limit the penalty by trying to prove that Champagne-Aishihik did not have enough money in the first place to get the project going. That is what we are going to try and prove.
But that is not what the Government Leader said when he broke the contract in the first place, in November 1992. That is not what he said then. So, the true agenda does get exposed in time. Unfortunately, not in time enough for this government to take responsibility for its own actions.
Speaker: Order. Order please. If the Members want a free-for-all, they can go do that outside later. I would like the Member to please conclude his remarks.
Mr. McDonald: I will be concluding my remarks in due course, Mr. Speaker.
What about what the government can be doing to promote economic development; is that in the mid-term report? What about forecasting? We know all about forecasting, and the government's interest in ensuring that the public in the territory and the other Members of the Legislature get a true picture and a true appreciation for what the economy is all about. They want us to know what the various sectors of the economy can possibly do in the coming year and beyond. When the traditional winter forecast comes out, we have noted from the past that Members and investors can get an appreciation from some economists about what they can expect if they were to invest in the Yukon. We have also learned that sometimes that is not friendly to the political priorities of the government. We have learned that, from time to time, the government can feel that it is perhaps more desirable to manipulate those figures, rather than simply issue the numbers without any political input.
We have to be clear. If we were to be honest with ourselves, we would have to admit that the Yukon government Ministers are not the best positioned people to be passing judgments on economic forecasts. Last summer, before the forecast came out, we heard Ministers protesting that the economy was in fine shape, and that there was nothing wrong. In fact, we heard that it was just as good as 1992, which was just as good as 1991, and that if we did not have our heads in the sand, we would notice that business activity was up. We even had Ministers trotting out statistics, which they used to prove that the economy was really doing well and that it was the Members in the Opposition who were preaching some doom-and-gloom message.
It was only a year later, when the Canadian statistics came out, that we found that the GDP of this territory dropped 19 percent. The bottom dropped out. The charts from Statistics Canada indicated that there was growth in the rest of the country, and the only negative jurisdiction was Yukon. Its GDP rate was reduced 19 percent. That was not mentioned in the summer of 1993, even though it was happening at the time. It was the Opposition who were completely out of touch with reality. It was the Opposition who did not really know what was going on in the economy. We were told to trust the Ministers' opinions about what they regarded as the healthy state of the Yukon economy.
Based on that record alone, we should be skeptical about Ministers reporting on the economy and, even though we must listen to them and hear their perspective, we must also learn to trust or at least to listen to professional economists, when they come out with forecasts. We hear now from the Ministers that there may not be any more forecasts. They cannot trust them to say what the government Ministers want them to say, so we may never again have the benefit of seeing another forecast come out of the Department of Economic Development.
They believe in the value of the advice that they get from that department. We get treated every day to the economic theories of the government Members opposite. The Government Leader goes off to China with business people he has invited along. It is part of a very large delegation that sits down and talks about job creation. I do not realistically expect him to come back with contracts. I do not realistically expect him to come back with any notion that we are going to have immediate payback. Do I think the trip was worth taking? Yes, I do. Was it a national initiative? Yes, it was. Did it produce good results for the country? Yes, it did. Should he have been there? Yes, he should. Had he not gone, would he have been criticized? Yes, he would have been. That is all he needs to say.
He was there, he represented the Yukon's interests, he raised the Yukon's profile. Did he have to come back and say that the Chinese are very interested in our copper? Did he have to say that they are going to forsake the reserves in the Philippines or in Chile, that they are going to ignore world markets and come straight to the Yukon? Does that mean we all have to sit down with our constituents in their kitchens and say, "Wait a minute, do not polish up that lunch bucket yet, that is not what it means." The cash-rich Chinese are not going to be investing large sums of money in the copper mining industry in the Yukon next year. There is no need to embellish it. There is no need to embellish the Government Leader's actions. There is no need to say that there are things happening when, in fact, they are not. Say, "I went, I tried, I explained the Yukon's position to everybody who would listen. I did my job as the Government Leader in a large delegation. I came home, and I am reporting on it." That is a try, that is an initiative. Go for it, but do not come back to the Yukon and say that it is a well-known economic fact that there are four or five jobs in the north for every job created in the south. That does not make sense.
Does that mean that, if Jean Chretien comes back with 50,000 jobs, we have got to prepare ourselves for 250,000 jobs in the north? It does not make sense. He said, and I will quote the whole section of the news transcript, "We are a resource extraction industry. We produce zinc here. We are going to be producing copper here. We produce gold here. Companies use that stuff in the south to put their products together, so we benefit directly from that. We have always maintained that, and people have done analysis on it. They come up with four or five jobs for every job created in the south." Come on. What do we have to do now? If that is a proven economic principle, what do we do? Do we now put pressure on the Minister of Community and Transportation Services to explore the need for major new land developments to handle all the jobs that are going to be created in the north? For every job that is created in the south, we are going to have four or five jobs in the north. That is four or five breadwinners. That means four or five families, or maybe two or three families. So, if Jean Chretien, by extension, and the Canadian delegation, gets 50,000 jobs, we must be prepared for between 175,000 to 200,000 new families living in the Yukon and the Northwest Territories. So, we have to expect that there is a very real potential for doubling our population next year.
Does that make sense? No, it does not. Why embellish what was a reasonable initiative? Why carry it further? Why feel that you have to justify it by using these crazy figures? Why set yourself up as economic gurus, when you do not have the wherewithal to carry it off? Why trash reputations of economists who work for you, people who are professionally trained, when you or the government promotes economic theories such as this? This is the kind of thing that limits a government's credibility. This is the kind of thing that could ultimately become fatal to a government's credibility.
Obviously, we have to pursue this matter in Question Period and elsewhere. Maybe the Government Leader has something. Maybe we should be looking for the analysis. He says that people have done an analysis on this, and they have come up with four or five jobs for every job created in the south. We have to look for that analysis, because we want to see it. I am prepared to wait until the analysis is tabled in the House.
I think that we will have to explore with the Minister responsible for Community and Transportation Services and the Minister responsible for housing what they are prepared to do to prepare for the job rush.
I have to tell you what I think is really important, and that is that the Department of Economic Development has a role to play. They just have to be told what the role is.
I would like to discuss the items identified in the mid-term report, because the thesis that I am trying to present is that this report is misleading. I think a sufficient case has been made already, but we must identify those items that are relevant in the Yukon Party's own report. Eventually, I will come to the point that I started off with, which is that, from the time when I presented this motion until now, I am prepared to accept that the Yukon Party's logo should be on this report. I am also prepared to insist that it be on this report, but I am not prepared to accept the notion that it should be paid for at public expense.
The government identifies, in the section entitled Encouraging Economic Growth, that they have done a number of different things, including the industrial support policy, which is not a policy. I do not know what it is - it is coming, but it is not there yet.
They go on to say they have negotiated a multi-million dollar infrastructure program with the federal government. This is a program that the government could never really decide whether or not they supported. I think we are talking about the Liberal program, are we not? This was part of the federal Liberal campaign platform, so they may have negotiated it, but they certainly did not like doing so and did not think they received enough, even though they thought the federal government's biggest problem was deficit fighting.
Ultimately, if one were to actually read this report card, one would be inclined to draw the conclusion that they liked it. I guess they have come to the conclusion, after all is said and done, that maybe it was marginally popular. At least, it did no harm.
They go on to say that they are undertaking a major upgrading of our main highway, which was something I referred to - the road to Alaskan resources. They have also prevented the Yukon Energy Corporation from investing in non-energy related projects. I guess that is why they have got them digging deeply into coal and coal generation. That is a true statement, a fair statement, but it does not tell the whole story, of course - the story of the government's attempts to change a law that had been entrenched in the umbrella final agreement, and their only belated attempts to actually negotiate or discuss with First Nations the terms of that law. I think they have found a backdoor way to change the direction of the Yukon Energy and Yukon Development Corporations. Nevertheless, that is probably a fair statement and deserves to be kept in the mid-term report.
They say they have supported the keep-mining-in-Canada initiative. It took virtually no time at all, other than to read it. There was certainly no policy work. It did not rank with the really tough policy issues they could address. I am sure they did support the keep-mining-in-Canada initiatibve; I did not know that they had, but that is fine.
Then they go on to tourism and small business. Tourism is one area where I think the government has performed better than usual. Quite frankly, while I take issue with some of the things they have done and feel that they have done too little in some areas, overall, one would have to give the government better than a passing grade in this area. That is because the government hustled, and there is a big difference between sitting back waiting for something to happen and hustling. Even if the Minister of Tourism today could not prove what tourism statistics were, he has to be given credit for hustling, for trying.
It is an important distinction, because I do not think anybody could say that if the government had hustled to save the Faro mine, it would have been saved. I do not think that, as a result of the collapse of the Faro mine, if the government had hustled to attract more mining business or anything else - truly hustled and really dealt with the tough policy areas - that things would have happened. Similarly, I do not think that anybody could say that if they had really done what they said they were going to do with the agricultural industry and the abattoir, the abattoir would have happened.
However, the fact that someone shows hustle, vigour and some initiative is something that, by its very nature, should be recognized and supported. I have to give the Minister of Tourism credit for that. I think that, no matter what anyone says about what the rest of the government has been doing in this particular area - and I feel an obligation to say this, after having said some things that were not complimentary about education - I have to say that, in tourism, he has done what I would consider to be a relatively good job.
Having said that, I do believe - and it is unfortunate that it is not included in the mid-term report - that more work could have been done in the heritage area. It should have been given greater priority. I think it is unfortunate that we have not had legislation in place to protect heritage resources. I think it is unfortunate that we have not been able to convince the City of Whitehorse or others to contribute to protecting the very rare resources and facilities that we do have.
I think there have been some initiatives in this area, as identified in the mid-term report, such as the commencement of the restoration of Canyon City. This has only been marred by the firing of the archeologist. The archaeologist was, essentially, fired. I think it was a sad moment in an otherwise reasonable record. So much work could have been done and so much vigour applied to preserving and restoring historic sites. So much could have been done that was not done, and all punctuated by the loss of the archaeologist, who has had to be kept on in other forums, anyway, because there has been so much work for him to do.
I think the fact that the arts program has not been given any profile in the mid-term report is also a problem. I think the work done, though not completed, in developing an arts policy is good and should have been in the report. If they truly respected this particular field of activity, and acknowledged its economic contribution to the territory and its contribution to the lives of people, they should have identified it, rather than trying to pretend that so many of the rest of these accomplishments were, in fact, real.
In terms of what the government has done, there are a couple of little problems. I will point them out, even though I think I have given the Minister of Tourism as much credit as he deserves and as much credit as I can.
The $9.5 million centennial funding program has been overplayed a lot. There have been problems identified in the communities about how this program is structured. There is not a lot of feeling that this is substantially different from the community development fund, other than the impression that this is the community development fund with focused objectives.
When comparing this with the community development fund, naturally one will find that
it is less money. The fact that it is only geared to identify one project in a community
is a problem. I have to contradict the Government Leader when he said that the program was
designed to bring people together. On the contrary, it seems designed to force people
together. Only one project is allowed and, consequently, all ideas in the community must
be rolled into one project.
We have been told, for example, that the Member for Klondike has identified his priority project for the Dawson community and has actively lobbied to see that project proceed. He has actively resisted the aspirations of other community groups who have different projects in mind.
I was told today - and I may stand to be corrected - that the Member for Klondike has gone so far to say that if a resolution cannot be found then all three projects should be funded, because, after all, Dawson is the heart of the Klondike. We have to tell him to look at the program guidelines - no can do - they cannot have three. They have to work together. That is what the program is supposed to do; encourage people to work as one big happy family. If the happy family cannot resolve the problems, then one project is going to be funded.
There are some unrealistic expectations and this should be no stranger to any government. There are some unrealistic expectations about what this program is going to accomplish. The previous Whitehorse City Council has already made noises - I do not know what the current council has said - that this program was going to fund a $5-million project.
This means that the rest of the communities - and presumably every community gets a crack at one project - are going to have to divvy up $4 million over five years. If Whitehorse is going to be satisfied, then the Member for Dawson is going to have to pare back his expectations because obviously there are going to be some problems headed our way.
The government says that they have established the Anniversaries Commission head office in Dawson City. I think it is important to let people know - somebody on Redwood Street for example, who is interested in the Anniversaries Commission and picks this up from the kitchen table and reads that the Yukon Party had anything to do with creating the Anniversaries Commission - that it should not be believed. They changed the office location. That is good; changing the office location is good. Taking credit for the Anniversaries Commission is not justified.
They hosted the Tourism Summit in November 1993. Right on. My sons would say Right on, Saigon. That is what you should be doing. That is what you should have been doing in mining, in every other sector. I will give the Member for Laberge credit. He started off doing some good work in housing, in terms of trying to bring people together, trying to make things happen when things were slow and sluggish. He showed some hustle.
If anybody says my remarks today were not positive in any way, I want to be able to say, on the record, the Minister of Tourism has done well with the Tourism Summit. The Minister responsible for housing did well with the housing conference.
Unfortunately, there is so much of this report that is misleading that I can honestly say -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McDonald: I could extend it for a couple of minutes, if the Member likes, but I think the point has been made that this document is not completely worthless; it is almost completely worthless. The point I would like to make is that the Yukon people should not pay for it.
I do believe that governments should express themselves and explain what they are doing. I believe that every MLA has an obligation to explain their programs and their initiatives to the public. Governments as an entity, too, can and should do that. But I must say that having the Yukon Party logo on every page crosses the line of acceptability. It is wrong. The generally accepted practice of this Legislature for as long as I have been here, and I support it, is that we have an obligation to put out information to our constituents. We have franking privileges and we do, from time to time, do general mailings or special mailings. Care is taken to ensure that we are not too partisan in that initiative. We can be as partisan as we want in here and I am a fierce partisan. I am a partisan player. I have my biases, but I do believe in and I do support the long-standing policy of this Legislature that documents that go out that are clearly party documents do not display party logos on them.
That crosses the line, that is not right. That suggests that every other party and every other group no longer plays on the same playing field as the party that has crossed the line and has done something that they should not have done with public funds.
I think that the government and Members in this House already have an opportunity and resources to get the message out without having to resort to this kind of party propaganda.
Outside of this Legislature I can be as much of a propagandist for my party as the Yukon Party can be. I can be as much a supporter of party policies as anyone. I am as proud to call myself a New Democrat as anyone in the NDP. I am as proud an NDPer as the Yukon Party members are proud of their party, but I do not believe that this kind of propaganda should be paid for at public expense. I believe it should be paid for by Members.
After all, goodness knows that the Yukon NDP does not have anything like the financial supporters that the Yukon Party has. We did not get one dime from a single banking institution. The Yukon Party did, from two or three banks. We did not get any money from Archer Cathro or large business organizations that can afford to provide large bucks to the Yukon Party. All our funds come from individuals' donations, right out of their pockets, after taxes. The taxpayer takes its cut and, out of people's household expenses, they throw a few bucks toward the NDP.
We do not have the corporate sponsors that the Yukon Party has. It should be reasonable to expect that the Yukon Party could afford to lay this kind of propaganda across the kitchen tables of every home in this territory. They do not need to use public funds to do it. They do not need to put their party logo into every home at the public's expense. They can put their names in everybody's house. I have no objection to the Government Leader's picture being on it. If this was a government document, I would have no objection to the government's wordmark being on it, and it going into people's homes. I might have serious concerns about its credibility, and about whether or not it is factual, but I would not challenge the government's right to do that. I do have a lot of problems when it becomes a party matter, and I think that we have to draw the line. We have to make our intentions clear. I do not think the government has seriously considered the nature of that.
I want to make a point very briefly, because I do not think that it needs to be belaboured. The point has to do with the picture on the front of this document. It is a very partisan document with the Yukon Party logo on it. Unfortunately, it includes you, Mr. Speaker. I must take issue with that, because being Speaker of this Legislature is a tough job and it treads a very fine line. The Speaker of the Legislature has to demonstrate to all of us, not only in everyday actions in this Legislature but in actions outside the Legislature as well, that the Speaker is not a partisan antagonist.
That reduces the image of the Speaker; it affects the way the opponents see the Speaker, and it ultimately diminishes the respect they have for the position and for the person in the job. I must say that, for the other Members of the caucus to draw the Speaker into this picture, it has done damage and should not be repeated.
I recall when Mr. Sam Johnston was a Speaker of this Legislature. He attended one caucus meeting per year, a general caucus meeting, just to talk about general things. He refused to sit with our caucus, because he was worried that it might send the wrong signals to Members in the Opposition. We have to respect him for that. Not everybody understood what he had to go through and how lonely his existence had to be as a result, but he believed in the institution of the Legislature, he believed in the role of Speaker and how important it was to be seen as impartial. I am not going to belabour that any further. I just think that Mr. Speaker should think about this a bit, and his caucus should not try to draw him into a role that he is not suitable.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McDonald: Some Members feel this speech does not affect them, I presume.
The mid-term report is a document that establishes the report card for this government. What is most interesting about this report is what is not in it - rather than what is in it.
So much of what is found - I have done a review and an analysis of the Yukon Party's four-year plan - in that plan is not in the report. So much of what the NDP government did in its final period in office, the last part of its last term, is in the report. That should say something to a government that, if nothing else, is being accused of lacking direction, being inconsistent, and sending out different signals to different people.
What is really interesting about this report is what is not contained in it. What of the four-year plan has not been incorporated into this document? When one compares this document to the throne speech, which is the outline of the government's plan for the next two years, one notices, quite dramatically, that the government is not going to live up to its four-year plan. There are many examples where the government's agenda is not going to be met. Where they can be of most use in some critical and key areas, they have identified no action plan. That is a tragedy associated with this report, quite irrespective of the issue of whether or not it should be funded or if it is misleading.
I want to end with the same subject upon which I began, and that is the issue of financing and the future of this government's financial plan for the territory.
The government has had three years - it is going into its third year in office. It has been responsible for approximately $1.2 billion worth of spending by the end of this fiscal year. While we were in office - and the Government Leader will remember, because he was watching from the gallery at the time - the Member for Porter Creek East made his pronouncements about how much money the NDP government had spent, and how little had been accomplished, in his opinion.
By the time this government finishes office, they will have spent close to, probably exceeded, or been responsible exclusively for, $2 billion.
We are going to judge the government by how much it has accomplished, and by how much it has spent.
In the four-year period, the NDP government will have spent between $1.3 billion and $1.4 billion. The Yukon Party will have spent $2 billion. Irrespective of what comes out of formula financing negotiations, there will be a chance for another report. That report will come at the polls, presumably. Ultimately, that will be the only test that I will trust. Whether I believe people's decisions are right or wrong will be absolutely irrelevant. But I can tell the government that these self-evaluations, presented in this manner, at public expense, did nothing but a disservice to this government and this government's caucus. When this comes out, presumably it will be twice as much. We can say, ultimately, that it will be $2 billion, and we will have to make our own judgments.
I would only advise the government that when it comes forward with its next report, it must, at all costs, identify projects for which it is exclusively responsible - not projects which were the responsibility of previous governments or other governments or other people. In all sincerity, that is what 75 percent of this mid-term report is all about. There will be nobody two years from now to blame but themselves if they do not accomplish that.
Now, they have pathfinders, in a manner of speaking. I do not want to make it sound too glowing because I may be inclined to want to criticize these Ministers later for perceived misdemeanors.
They have undertaken some good projects. They have engaged the public in debate and they have done what they could in certain areas. They should take a hint from that success. They should take a hint from the progress that they have made in those areas, because they have established, in their own right, some credibility in those areas. They have not tried to establish their credentials by trying to trash other people, with the exception of the European tourism trip, which was taken by the Minister of Tourism in a manner that he said set him apart from the Minister in British Columbia.
I could have spent some time with the Minister, as I did with the Minister after his China trip, but I did not think of it. This Minister could have come back from his European trip, indicated what he had done, what he had accomplished, without making it sound as if he had just moved mountains, because that is not credible. He did not have to indicate that what he had done was appropriate by trashing what he thought was a misdemeanor by the Harcourt government in British Columbia. One person - and I will be very brief on this, I promise - could reasonably say that Mr. Harcourt went to Europe, faced down his critics where they were most effective, and he showed courage in doing so. No one had to say here that somehow what he had done was not courageous but stupid. Consequently, the Minister of Tourism invited criticism when he came back, criticism that otherwise was not coming, and he should have taken note of that.
Speaker: Order. Please allow the Member to conclude his remarks.
Mr. McDonald: I have enjoyed myself this afternoon. I must say that yesterday I
was unable to complete my remarks, particularly in response to some of the disturbing
things the Government Leader said. I believe that I have had my opportunity this
afternoon, and I thank the House for its time and attention.
Speaker: The time now being 5:30, I will leave the Chair until 7:30 p.m. tonight.
Debate on Motion No. 5 accordingly adjourned
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
Bill No. 64: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 64, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Phillips.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that Bill No. 64, entitled An Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Minister of Justice that Bill No. 64,
entitled An Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This bill forms the linchpin of the government's administrative sanction program, the first step of which is to amend the Motor Vehicles Act and to provide for an administrative sanction program for fine default. The administrative sanctions in this bill are designed to remedy the current situation that enables drivers to evade sanctions imposed on them by the courts. Administrative sanctions are restrictions on specified privileges that can be imposed when an individual has defaulted on a fine or a debt owed. These sanctions can include the suspension or revocation of an existing privilege, for example, licences, or the blocking or withholding of future services, such as registration.
The main purpose of these amendments is to ensure that the sanctions of the courts are carried out in an appropriate and timely matter. The enforcement of court sanctions, such as fines, is necessary to ensure that laws are respected and the integrity of the justice system is maintained, and that drivers are held accountable for their actions in making the road safer for everyone. Imposing administrative sanctions for fine default has proven to be a highly effective enforcement tool in jurisdictions across Canada, and an increasing range of offences is being enforced this way.
For example, in the future we may enter into agreements to include City of Whitehorse offences in this program. To ensure the effectiveness of these sanctions, this bill makes provisions that the notice of sanctions will now be deemed to be served when sent by certified mail, even when they are not picked up by the individual affected. This will prevent persons in default from avoiding sanctions by simply not picking up their certified mail.
It is interesting to note the high default rate on motor vehicle-related fines imposed by the courts. Approximately 80 percent of the fines imposed by the territorial government pertain to motor vehicle-related offences and out of these 40 percent are defaulted.
For the 1992-93 year, this amounted to $132,240. These defaults represent a significant debt owed to the government through the courts and civil remedies for collection have proven largely unsuccessful and very expensive.
Ultimately, it is the general public who unfairly bear the loss of the government revenue due to these uncollected fines, as well as the increased expenses required by the courts, the RCMP, the Sheriff's office and the court registry to follow up on these fines.
This bill also specifies that licences, registrations and permits can be cancelled and suspended for infractions of certain related legislation, provided the offences are motor vehicle related. This is another effective and appropriate enforcement mechanism.
In addition to the amendments providing administrative sanctions, a housekeeping amendment has been included in this bill delegating certain enforcement functions. For example, licence suspensions now carried out by the Minister are to be handled by the registrar of motor vehicles.
In conclusion, I believe that this package of amendments will have a positive effect on, and foster compliance with, motor vehicle laws and enhance public safety through an effective and appropriate enforcement, while achieving administrative efficiencies.
Ms. Commodore: I am not at all sure that the general public is going to be pleased with this. I would suspect that many of our supporters out there will be quite angry about it. The possibility that there are problems with the new federal legislation for guns may create the same kind of anger. I am only guessing; I am not saying this based on what a lot of people have said to me about this. I suspect that they did not consult with too many people in regard to what they wanted to do.
I agree with the Minister that there are all sorts of fines that have not been paid. Somehow there has to be a way to encourage those individuals to pay their fines. As the Minister said, you cannot laugh at the law and, certainly, some of them are, and making every effort to not pay fines.
I would be interested in finding out from the Minister how much consultation went into this act. Who did he speak to? Who were his supporters out there in the public? This is not going to pass without controversy. There will be some people out there who will be concerned that their rights are being taken away from them. People who own guns think that they have a very strong right to bear arms and do whatever they want with them, and people feel the same way about their licences. They feel the same way about their cars.
I would be interested in finding out from him exactly who his advisors were in regard to this. When we were in government, we discussed this possibility at great length, and it was a bit of a concern to us. We never brought anything like this to the House, as the Members know. This is the first time it has been seen here.
We are concerned about a number of things that are not being done, and that is with respect to maintenance enforcement. We understand that the program has been approved and improvements to it are certainly being looked at. So, if we are changing legislation to deal with outstanding fines, then we also have to look at other ways to make things better. If mothers are not receiving maintenance payments from deadbeat dads, I would say that that is as serious as people not paying fines that have been imposed by the courts.
On this side of the House, we have talked about including an amendment to this piece of
legislation to include maintenance enforcement orders. We are looking at introducing a
motion when we go into line-by-line debate. I have some examples of motions that I will
propose, but we have not had a chance to go through them as a caucus. I am telling the
Minister now that we are concerned, and it is equally, or even more, important that single
mothers receive the payments they should be getting for the care of themselves and their
children. So, I forewarn the Minister now that that is something that we are very serious
about seeing in this act, and I do not think that there is a soul on that side of the
House who would disagree.
It is a matter of how we are going to do it and where it would fit in. However, we have had some good advice. We looked at two different pieces of draft amendments. I would like the Minister to let me know exactly how he feels about that suggestion.
I would like to ask the Minister is another thing: he has indicated the amount of fines
that are in default. I would like to know whether that is just for this year, or whether
that is what is owing from the last 10 years, or whatever. The other thing that I am not
quite clear on - maybe I should be, but I am not - is this: are we looking at fines that
are in default only for convictions under this act? The Minister has indicated that it is
just for motor vehicles. We still have a problem with other fines that are not being paid,
and these amounts are very high as well. Would he tell me how he is going to deal with
those outstanding fines? There are two lawyers over there, and a whole floor of lawyers
over in Justice that could give him the right information. It may be somehow possible to
look at those other outstanding bills as well by using the administrative sanctions under
this act. I do not know that. We are certainly interested in trying to improve the system
so that those women who are not receiving their payments get paid somehow. If we have to
use this sort of action to do it, then I think that we should at least look at it very
Mrs. Firth: I share some of the same concerns as the previous Minister, who raised the point about public acceptability. I would be interested in knowing if the Minister could elaborate in more detail, when he summarizes his comments this evening, about what kind of public input there has been with respect to this legislation. I know various interests have lobbied the Minister. I would like to hear more from the Minister about what their reading of the public mood will be with respect to this legislation.
In the past, I know the Minister has had some bad experiences with a particular headlight law that a lot of Conservatives were not pleased with. I wonder if he has received the support of his party to proceed with this particular initiative. Is this a resolution or a Yukon Party initiative that the Minister has been asked to proceed with?
I would like some information about the outstanding fines. I do not know if the Minister gave a figure. I did not hear it. If he did, I will read it in the Hansard later. I would like to know how much we are losing in revenues every year, and what the Minister expects to recover in unpaid fines with this initiative.
I would also like to know if there has been any identification made by the Minister, the Cabinet or the officials with respect to the trends of who is not paying their fine. Is there a particular group of people who are not paying their fines? Is it sporadic, or is it something that happens all through the year? Is it a small group of individuals who are perpetually not paying their fines, or does it apply across the board? Has there been any identification to help us better understand the urgency for this particular initiative?
I have some questions about the regulations. It is fairly difficult to understand
exactly where the government is coming from with this initiative without having the
regulations in place. I know there are going to be new regulations written, and my
preference would be for us to have some idea of what kind of regulations are being
considered. Of course, my first preference would be that we have a draft set of
regulations circulated to us so that we can better understand this new law we are going to
be imposing on Yukoners.
I will give the Minister an example. In the particularly new section of his bill, clause 2, subsection 64(1) of the act is going to be repealed and there is going to be a new subsection (1.1), which states, "The Commissioner in Executive Council may, by regulation, prescribe as a contravention to which subsection (1) applies any contravention of any enactment if the contravention involves the operation, parking, or abandoning of a motor vehicle".
To me it is unclear exactly what that means, particularly with respect to abandoning a motor vehicle. If someone abandons a motor vehicle due to mechanical problems, how is that going to be identified or taken into account? How will that particular issue be addressed? Perhaps the Minister can give us some clarification. Perhaps the Minister could address the issue of regulations and whether or not we will be receiving the draft regulations within the next two or three months that we will be sitting here in the Legislature.
There is also an interesting clause about licence suspensions for convictions of Yukon residents in other jurisdictions. I take that clause to mean that if I as a Yukoner am somewhere other than the Yukon Territory, I could be punished for that conviction in some other province. I would like the Minister to clarify for us how that will work. I could speculate, but I do not want to waste the time of the House. Would the Minister tell me the purpose of that clause and how it will apply and be maintained? I am particularly concerned about the invasion of people's privacy. However, I can appreciate if people are breaking the law in other jurisdictions that we may want to have some record of those infractions. I would like to know how this is going to happen.
I always have an interest in protecting Yukoners, but am not necessarily as enthusiastic about protecting those who are lawbreakers. I will look forward to some explanation about that particular aspect.
The Minister has already mentioned the change in duties that is currently being done by the Executive Council Member and will be given to the registrar of motor vehicles to do. I am sure there are many things that the registrar is now doing and this will simply be seen as another responsibility. However, I want to know if there will be any additional regulations in place or any additional skills or abilities required for the registrar to carry out these duties, such as special licencing and education, or will the new duties be easily added into the registrar's job description?
I think those are most of the points that my excellent researchers and I have gone
through in the bill. I look forward to hearing what the Minister has to say about some of
the concerns and questions I have raised. I will be raising them again when we go into the
Speaker: If the Member now speaks, he will close debate. Does any other Member
wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I would just like to respond briefly to some of the questions that were put on the floor by other Members. Both Members who spoke asked about the costs involved. Right now, about 80 percent of the fines that we do have are motor vehicle-related. Forty percent of those fines are delinquent. I can check it out, but I believe it is a cross-section of people who do not pay their fines - it is not one particular group of people - and thousands of reasons why they do not.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The figure amount for 1992-93 was $132,240, so it is a significant dollar figure. As for the consultation and who we spoke to, we certainly spoke to other jurisdictions in Canada that are looking at this. I think it is something that will be accepted by the general public because we are not talking about the average, law-abiding citizen who happens to get caught speeding, or another motor vehicle infraction, and pays a fine. We are talking about the people who are caught, convicted and then simply refuse to pay, leaving the rest of us to pick up the tab. That is what we are talking about.
There are other jurisdictions, namely Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta that all suspend licences at the present time. Nova Scotia and Newfoundland add $30 to the fines. Newfoundland also withholds drivers' licences and registrations, which practice has been very successful there. Manitoba and British Columbia withholds drivers' licences. The Northwest Territories has no motor vehicle sanctions at this time, and we were unable to contact Quebec. So, almost every province in Canada is looking at this as a way to collect fines.
The Member for Whitehorse Centre suggested we expand it to the maintenance enforcement program. I can tell the Member we have looked at expanding it to all other programs. There are a lot of outstanding fines to be collected using this as a tool because it has been very, very successful. We decided to start with this and to look at its success, and then look at the other programs. I agree with the Member and will have a quick look at the maintenance enforcement program to see whether or not these provisions can be put into it. I am not sure, on my feet, how it will fit in with the amendment, but I think it is an excellent idea.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I agree. There are other things done in other jurisdictions, too, but we felt that we wanted to start with this one. We will look at how successful it was, and then move on. It is a very efficient way to collect the fines.
The Member asked if I had a resolution from our party. The answer is no, but I think that there is a type of resolution from Yukoners in general who feel that people who have been convicted of a crime in the justice system should pay at least the penalty that was assessed to them. I do not think that anyone here should think that someone who has been delinquent should simply walk away without having to pay.
The idea is to use this as a tool. People have to get their registration renewed annually, or their driver's licence renewed every three years. This is a method through which to remind them that they have an outstanding fine, and to obtain payment; that is the reason for bringing this forward.
The regulations will be drawn up fairly quickly. I think the act sufficiently lays out the scope of what we want to do. I would be more than happy to table the regulations in the House if they are ready within the next two or three months. I do not think it is very complicated. I believe it could be done fairly quickly, but I will have to speak to the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. It is fairly straightforward. We are following what other jurisdictions are doing, so I do not think we are reinventing the wheel, by any means.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 64 agreed to
Bill No. 59: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 59, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Phillips.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that Bill No. 59, entitled An Act to Amend the Small Claims Court Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Minister of Justice that Bill No. 59,
entitled An Act to Amend the Small Claims Court Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This bill allows the Small Claims Court to hear disputes involving amounts up to $5,000. The intent of this amendment is to provide a faster and less expensive means for the general public to resolve civil disputes. The limit for small claims actions last increased in 1987, when it was raised from $1,500 to $3,000. Since that time, inflation and the economic environment have changed significantly enough to support a further increase. Under the current system, all sanctions over $3,000 are dealt with in the more expensive Supreme Court system, are reduced to $3,000 or less for purposes of filing, or are dropped by the claimant. This amendment will provide improved access to a less expensive court process for the public. The small claims system also encourages the use of mediation and settlement conferences.
The departmental survey of monetary limits in other Canadian jurisdictions concluded that the increase in the limit would be consistent with the majority of the provinces and the Northwest Territories. Only Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island, in addition to Yukon, still have the maximum of $3,000. Five other jurisdictions have limits set at $5,000, and one each at $4,000, $6,000 and $10,000.
The judiciary and the president of the Yukon Law Society have been consulted regarding
the proposed increase of the small claims limit and have indicated support for the
Mr. Cable: I am in support of the bill. I am just curious as to why the Minister
cut it off at $5,000. I know it is not efficient for citizens to hire lawyers to litigate
$5,000 claims. There are many people who let their rights go by the board because they
cannot afford the litigation expense. Has the Minister given any thought to raising that
$5,000 limit so that it would be more in line with some of the jurisdictions he mentioned.
I think he mentioned that one had gone to $10,000, is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am pleased to support this amendment for this amount of
money. When I was Minister, I did consult with senior members of the various law firms,
and the consensus was that we not increase it beyond the $5,000 range. It was because of
that consultation that we decided to go ahead at this time with the $5,000.
Speaker: If the Member now speaks, he will close debate. Does any other Member
wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I do not have a lot to say. The only comment I would like to make is this: I have hired a lawyer, and I do not think that it is ever a very efficient thing to do. I think that it is always a costly process for people. I am speaking from the personal experience of having hired a lawyer. I wish that it had only cost $5,000. There was, as the Member said, agreement from all of the lawyers who spoke that this is an appropriate level at this time.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 59 agreed to
Bill No. 83: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 83, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Phillips.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that Bill No. 83, entitled An Act to Amend the Business Corporations Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Minister of Justice that Bill No. 83,
entitled An Act to Amend the Business Corporations Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: These amendments will facilitate the removal of inactive corporations from the corporate registry. This will assist the registrar in eliminating backlogs and improving efficiency. The act permits the registrar of corporations to dissolve a corporation when it fails to file an annual return for a period of two years or more. As part of the dissolution process, the registrar must give the corporation and its directors 120 days' notice by registered or certified mail. In many cases, inactive corporations no longer have a current address filed with the registry. As a result, notices of dissolution are returned to the registrar.
The way the act is presently written, such corporations cannot be dissolved, since the notice of dissolution has not been formally received. The result of this situation is a buildup of inactive corporations in the corporate registry that cannot be dissolved. Continually sending notification to these inactive corporations has proved time consuming and costly.
The intent of these amendments is to resolve this problem. We are amending the act to state that any notice of dissolution sent by the registrar to a corporation or director is deemed to be received on the tenth day after it is mailed to the last known address on file. It is important to note that it is the responsibility of the corporation to maintain correct information on this corporate file. This includes up-to-date addresses.
The change we are proposing will allow the registrar to eliminate the backlog of
inactive corporations. There are presently about 200 corporate files that can be dealt
with once these amendments take effect. We estimate there will be approximately 50 files
per year on an ongoing basis. This is not a problem unique to the Yukon. Other
jurisdictions in Canada have similar problems and either by legislation or by practice,
are taking similar steps. These amendments will help to streamline the operation of the
corporate registry resulting in savings in staff time and postal costs without any
negative impact on the business community.
Mrs. Firth: I wonder if the Minister can give us any indication of how long it
is going to take to eliminate the 200 corporate files. When he says it is a very time
consuming and costly measure, can he tell us how much money and time they are going to
save by bringing in this particular initiative?
Speaker: If the Member now speaks he will close debate. Does any other Member
wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The amendment is written in to be effective if they fail to file a return for a period of two consecutive years.
As for the other question about mail, I will obtain a formal opinion from the department officials here tonight and provide that information when we resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 83 agreed to
Bill No. 43: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 43, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Phillips.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that Bill No. 43, entitled Electronic Registration (Department of Justice Statutes) Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Minister of Justice that Bill No. 43,
entitled Electronic Registration (Department of Justice Statutes) Act, be now read
a second time.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: As the world, particularly the business world, moves from the age of paper to the age of computers for registration and information purposes, we are moving to introduce legislation that will give us the means to accept information in a form other than that of paper.
This move recognizes the technological advances that are taking place right now in the private sector and will improve our ability to serve our clients.
The first branch in the Department of Justice to make use of electronic registration is consumer and commercial services. This branch administers a number of acts where registries are made. These registries provide a public record of information about business corporations, societies, partnerships, trade names and personal property security registrations, to name a few.
This bill will provide us with a means to better serve the clients that use these registries and will help us move with the rest of the world into the computer age. Paper filings will no longer be the only method of submitting information. Information may be filed in an electronic format if it is compatible with the system being used by the Department of Justice.
Clients may be able to enter information on a disc, drop it off at the corporate registry, as it happens now with paper material, and have the electronic data loaded into that branch's database.
In addition, information may be filed by direct electronic transmission directly from a client's office computer into a database administered by the Department of Justice.
The intent of Bill No. 43 is to permit electronic filing under the various acts administered by the Department of Justice. When the necessity to do so arises, regulations will be developed for specific acts. Those regulations will outline how electronic filing can be done and who can do it. It will also specify the computer formats that can be used. For example, if we want to permit electronic filing under the Business Corporations Act, the first step would be to designate it by regulation under the Electronic Regulations Act.
We can then create regulations, under the Business Corporations Act, specifying the format that must be used for electronic filing. Regulations in a designated act will address the timing of electronic filings, where time is a critical element in the filing process. Regulations will also provide that paper copies of electronically-filed information will be made available with the some evidentiary value as the original document.
This bill includes consequential amendments to the Business Corporations Act and the Personal Property Security Act to facilitate electronic filing. It is not anticipated that every act administered by the Department of Justice will be designated for electronic registration. The acts that provide for the registration of information, such as the Business Corporations Act, the Personal Property Security Act, the Partnership Act and the Business Licence Act, will be the most suitable for electronic filing. At the moment, corporate affairs is in the process of computerizing the registries that it administers.
Another reason to proceed with this legislation is that, down the road, we expect to be able to provide our clients with remote searching capabilities. From their offices, they will be able to have access to all the databases maintained by corporate affairs. This will improve service and efficiency from the clients' perspective.
Once familiarity with remote searching is established, the possibility of remote registration for filings under those acts administered by corporate affairs will be considered. Other jurisdictions, such as British Columbia, permit remote registrations for the personal property security registry. In British Columbia, 85 percent are done by direct electronic filing into that particular database.
The amendments to both the Business Corporations Act and the Personal
Property Security Act are of a housekeeping nature, which remove the requirement for
filing the paper records and the typing of information for financial statements when
electronic registration is being used by a registrant. It is expected that the electronic
filing under these various acts be designated as appropriate under this bill, and that it
will improve service and efficiency from the clients' and the government's perspective.
Mrs. Firth: I have some comments about this particular piece of legislation that I would like to pass on to the Minister, so his officials might have some time to get responses for me.
I would particularly like to know how this system is going to be different from the other system, other than the electronic and technical change. I want to know if there is going to be any change, in particular, to the kind of information, or if there will be any further information gathered on individuals.
When I read through the bill and had the researchers who work with me read through it, we found a lot of terms were used in the bill, like "electronic format", "electronic data base", "electronic data storage", "information filing system", "direct electronic transmission" and, in particular, we were concerned that there were no definitions for any of these terms. We got into a debate about whether "direct electronic transmission" included fax and modern discs, or all of these. I want to bring to the Minister's attention that there are a lot of expressions in these amendments that do not seem to have any exact definitions.
Another one in the Personal Property Security Act is the definition of "direct electronic transmission registration systems data base". It might be helpful if we could get some further explanation about that.
I also want to know if the forms that have to be filled out electronically are on disc or, if someone is to fill it out in an electronic form, do they give the information that way, or are they given a template? How is that whole procedure going to work?
Twice in the act, and once in the Personal Property Security Act, it is mentioned that "information that is filed in an electronic format may be filed only by a person who is or is a member of a class of persons that is authorized to do so...". We would like to know who these people are, or who this class of people is, who are authorized. Do they require any new classifications or training in order to do this?
The general principle does not sound suspicious or complicated, but I would like some clarification on those particular issues. I have a fairly good understanding of what the government wants to do, but there are some outstanding questions and clarifications I would like to pursue in Committee of the Whole.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 43 agreed to
Bill No. 61: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 61, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that Bill No. 61, entitled An Act to Amend the Legal Services Society Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Minister of Justice that Bill No. 61,
entitled An Act to Amend the Legal Services Society Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: These amendments will provide for a more efficient operation of the Legal Services Society, which is attempting to implement a new delivery model for legal aid. It is expected that the new model would provide for extensive cost savings in the delivery of the program. Federal funding cutbacks require that these savings be made.
The amendments deal with three matters. The first change amends the structure of the board of the society and lengthens the terms of the directors. The current board is composed of eight members: three appointed by the Law Society of the Yukon, one by the Attorney General of Canada and four by the Government of the Yukon, with terms of one to two years for the members. At present, the board has vacancies. There is a need to have the board operate with a full complement of members in order to better deliver a new model for legal aid. Flexibility in the appointment process is needed to achieve this. The following amendments I will now outline are designed to meet the current need.
The board will now be composed of up to seven members, all of whom will be appointed by the Minister. Consultation or requests for recommendation will occur with such bodies as the Law Society of Yukon, Canadian Bar Association (Yukon), CYI, the Attorney General of Canada or any other appropriate organization. The appointees are to act solely in the best interests of the society and not as representatives of their sponsoring organizations, if any. The appointments will be at pleasure for up to three years. This means the society will have members from a cross-section of the community. Filling the vacancies will not be a problem as this will be at the discretion of the Minister. The odd number of board members avoids tie votes, and the terms of three years provide for greater continuity. These changes will provide greater stability for the board in this time of change in the delivery of legal aid.
The second change deals with the problem of the possibility of the board members being sued personally for any action they may have taken. Current trends in the law impose greater responsibilities on board members, thus exposing them to a greater probability of being sued personally. As a result, insurance is expensive or even impossible to get. To deal with this problem, the act is amended to protect the board members from this kind of litigation if they are acting in good faith while performing their duties as board members. This type of provision is found in other legislation. For example, members of the Liquor Corporation board have similar protection. We recognize and appreciate the work of the board members of the Legal Aid Society and hope the extension of this protection to them will make their work easier.
The last change permits the Minister to appoint an administrator to manage the society if the board is unable or unwilling to act. This type of revision is common. For example, business corporations have mechanisms to deal with winding up and the appointment of a receiver. It is therefore advisable to give the Minister this addition authority to deal with a non-performing society, especially the Legal Services Society, which has the exclusive authority to deal with legal aid.
These changes will allow for better continuity and more efficient management of the Legal Services Society in this time of change and delivery of legal aid in the territory - a change mandated by the federal cutbacks in funding.
Ms. Commodore: I am a little concerned about these amendments to this act. We have had a wide range of new people being appointed to boards by this government, and they know that we have had some concerns about these appointments being politically motivated.
I am not exactly sure what is happening with this board right now. The Minister says there are a number of vacancies. The amendments appear to give the Minister full authority to appoint whomever he sees fit. I think there are a number of people in the community who take a lot of interest in what happens with legal aid in the Yukon. I would be really afraid that this Minister may use that authority to appoint his own personal friends and political supporters, rather than looking at those groups that have an interest and want to see things done in a manner that is appropriate to those people in need of the service.
I am not fully supportive of this, right now. I will have to sit down with my caucus colleagues to talk about what it is that he is trying to do, and what determines what a non-performing board is. I do not know whether or not there have been problems with the former board. I know that there was a lot of criticism about the direction in which legal aid was going, and I can understand that changes had to be made due to the cutback in funding by the federal government. However, the authority the Minister has assumed to appoint these members really concerns me.
The Minister of Justice says that the Minister may consult with, or solicit from, these different groups recommendations for appointments to the board groups, but he also may choose not to. I worry about the amount of flexibility the Minister is afforded. I do not think this Minister should have that authority. I think that he should look at proper involvement from those groups that have an interest in what is happening with legal aid. I am not entirely sure whether or not we will support this. We may, or we may not - just like his little amendment states. I am sure there are other people on this side of the House who may wish to speak on the amendments to this bill, but certainly I do not want to jump into Committee of the Whole to go over this because, as far as I am concerned, there are some problems with it.
Mr. Penikett: I would like to rise and join my colleague for Whitehorse Centre in the expression of her concern. I want to focus as well on a particular point about legal drafting, which has caused some discussion in previous years in this House, and that is about the use of the words "may" and "shall". I understood from some meetings I had recently outside of this jurisdiction that there are some Attorneys General departments in Canada who have stopped using the words "may" and "shall" and use another word instead, in order to give greater precision. As the Member may know, those of us in this House who are not lawyers have, in the past, spent some hours debating the intentions of the government when the words "may" and "shall" were used. "Shall" is quite clear; "may" is not. I understand that British Columbia, for example, is now using a different word. I am not asking the Minister to respond now, but I am wondering if he might ask the drafters in the Department of Justice whether that is something that has been studied or examined by them in the last few months.
Mrs. Firth: I have some questions for the Minister about his opening comments. He indicated to us that there were going to be tremendous cost savings, and that this would be more efficient. I wonder if he could elaborate on those comments. I would like to know what the cost savings are going to be. I would like him to give us a description of how it will be more efficient.
I would also like to hear some commentary about the relationship of this government with the Law Society with respect to the delivery of legal aid services. I agree with one of the previous speakers that there have been some relations that were not very pleasant. I would like to ask the Minister what he has done to make them a little more harmonious. Could he also give us some indication of the cost of legal aid? Is it going up or down? When he talks about cost savings, is changing the makeup of this board going to have any bearing on the general costs of legal aid?
I understand the Minister's intention in having seven members on the board. It would also be my preference that the Minister be required to get recommendations from these organizations - the Law Society, the Attorney General, the Canadian Bar Association and the Council for Yukon Indians - and appoint those recommendations to the board. There is a provision there for the Minister to put his own member on the board as well, when it says "and any other organization the Minister considers appropriate". I would prefer that there be more direction given to the Minister when it comes to appointing the board members.
I have some concern about the new term. I do not have any problem with the three-year term but in the section we are amending I believe the members were staggered so there was some continuity. That is not going to happen under this new bill. The members are all going to be appointed for three years and there will be no staggering of members with experience. Perhaps the Minister did not take that into account. I do not know whether he did or not, but that is a concern I have.
The liability of Members performing duties is fairly straightforward. The business of appointing the administrator if the society is incapacitated is pretty straightforward. Those are the concerns I have. If the Minister would be prepared to answer the questions I have, I would appreciate hearing what he would have to say.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 61 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call the Committee of the Whole to order. Is it the wish of the Members to take a brief recess at this time?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Clerk: We will have a brief recess.
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
We are dealing with Bill No. 64, An Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act.
Bill No. 64 - An Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Ms. Commodore: As I mentioned, I would like to have a chance to debate with the Minister the proposal I made to him. I would like to be able to find out more about what he has heard from his officials and if he has spoken to them at all since we have had the break. We, on this side of the House, have had discussions and are looking to move an amendment. I have already told him that. There are other people on this side of the House who may want to speak in general debate about this bill and what we would like to do. I would like to ask him what he intends to do. Can we stand it aside, or does he want to deal with it tonight?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I do not have all of the answers for the Members tonight and certainly I could not deal with the issue of an amendment tonight. If the Members wish, I would be prepared to go through the act and approve what we can, and if there are areas that have to be stood aside, or an amendment has to be put forward, then that section can be stood aside. If the amendment is presented, then we will have something to go by. I did mention earlier in second reading speech that we did look at the idea of including other acts, not specifically the Maintenance and Custody Orders Enforcement Act, but that would be included with many other acts that we were looking at. We thought that we would go this far now and then look at the other act and see how it worked. I would, however, be willing to look at the amendment the Member might have and deal with it that way. If we could, I would prefer to go through some of the act and get some of it out of the way, and stand aside the sections where the Members have some concerns or questions.
Ms. Commodore: The section that we were proposing to add an amendment to was in clause 2 on page 2, and adding a following paragraph, that being 64(1)(a)(1). That would take place down here on the second page. I think it is going to require a lot more discussion among us over here. I know that the Member for Riverside also has some comments that he would probably like to make or some questions to ask.
We are looking at two draft motions right now, and trying to decide which one we would
like to move in this act. I would like to have further discussion with my caucus members
prior to that.
We have been trying to get some work done on this throughout the day, but we do not have the legal advisors that the Minister has, so it has been a bit difficult. On an unofficial basis we have gathered some information, but the information that we have tells us that we need more information on what we are trying to do, so that we can speak a little bit more clearly about what we want. We know for sure that we would like to introduce a motion to include the Maintenance and Custody Orders Enforcement Act. We know that for sure.
There has been some discussion about including other acts, such as the Family Property and Support Act, the Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Act and the Divorce Act. There are some other acts that have been suggested to us, so it will require further discussion. I am prepared to go through the act as the Minister suggested, but I am sure that there are a lot of other people that want to speak in general debate about this act. I would like to propose that we not deal with that section - I guess the Minister has already done that - until we have all had a chance to have more discussion and to gather more information to draft amendments to the act.
I am looking forward to the Member providing us with information other jurisdictions in Canada that include the Maintenance and Custody Orders Enforcement Act in the motor vehicle legislation. I am told that it is done in other jurisdictions, but I do not know which ones, and I do not know how it is included. I would certainly like to have more information about it, but I have not had a chance to get that information or any other pieces of legislation that include that information. This requires a lot more discussion.
I know that since the break tonight other Members have had some concerns about what it is that is happening to this bill.
As I mentioned, we are concerned about some of the controversy out there. I think that some of us may have to face irate constituents. There were a lot of people angry at us because we introduced seatbelt legislation, although that was something that made driving safer for people. There is controversy over any kind of legislation wherein people feel that their human rights are being taken away. I do not think that we are going to allow this act to slip through the House without finding out a little more about it, or making the kind of comments that we would like to make. I will leave it there for now.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I wish that the Member had contacted me before I tabled the bill. I would have been more than willing to have my officials work with the Member to see if we could include other areas. I know that was something that was raised when we discussed this in Cabinet. We talked about it being made broader. It appears that there seems to be some consensus in this House that it should be broader. I would be willing to have a look at that. I would like to get an idea from other Members of the type of support they would give it.
I think it is much different than seat belt legislation, and much different than the issue of having people having their headlights on. Here we are talking about people who have been convicted of an offence and are refusing to pay the fine. We are not talking about asking somebody to put on their seatbelt or turn on their headlights for safety. We are talking about somebody who knows they have been convicted and fined, and knows they have to pay the fine but are choosing to ignore it.
It is costing the taxpayer of the Yukon a lot of money, not just in the motor vehicles area, but all over the justice system. Other jurisdictions have found this to be a very effective way to recover delinquent fines, because everyone wants to drive. I do not have information about the other areas the Member talked about in front of me. The bill here in front of us was just intended to deal with motor vehicles. I have some information about what other jurisdictions do with motor vehicles, but I do not have a list in front of me about what they do with other criminal offences or fines that people get - maintenance enforcement programs or others.
I would have to get that information. I certainly would not have it tonight. We would have to set the section aside or the bill aside, and get an indication from the other Members about how broad they want this bill to be. I think it is the type of thing that would be supported in a very strong way by the general public. I do not think anyone likes to see someone who is convicted of an offence not have at least to pay the penalty that is set down for the offence. I think that is the general feeling out there. I would think that if we were to expand it, it would certainly receive support from this side, but I would like to hear whether other Members of the House feel that they would be prepared to support an expanded bill. I am certainly prepared to work with the Members opposite to bring back a much more expanded bill that covers several other offences, if that is the wish.
Mr. Harding: I would like to see this particular bill held over. I do not think we have sufficient time to discuss the implications of everything involved in this bill. Also, I do not think the Minister has enough information at his fingertips to fully cover the details tonight.
I would like to speak about some concerns that have been identified to me in the last day or so by different people - those who are even aware that this bill is being considered. One concern has to do with a question of consultation - whether or not there has been any - and, another is the question of the penalty to be imposed. I believe the Minister is correct in his belief that people would like to see people convicted of an offence pay their fines. However, do all people want to see them lose their driver's licence? There may be some circumstances where people have let things slip, such as the government having neglected to try and exact this money, and suddenly someone is served with an ultimatum that states that they must either pay the fine or lose their licence. Perhaps the individual does not have the money on hand, and subsequently lose their licence. They may need their vehicle to get to work and would lose their livelihood.
There are many questions for which people would like answers. They should, at least, have the opportunity to be aware that this bill is being brought forward. I do not want to see people led down the garden path. If there are problems with people who have not paid their fines, we would like to see the taxpayers paid. However, by the same token, I would not like to see any rash actions taken.
In light of my comments, I would ask the Minister to heed our request to hold this bill over for a short time, so that we can consult with our constituents, discuss particular amendments and discuss the bill as a caucus a bit more. It is a more important issue than perhaps the Minister realizes.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I do not want to hold up this bill forever. We are talking about $132,000 in 1992-93 that people are simply refusing to pay. These are people who have been convicted of something. We are not talking about law-abiding citizens here. These are people who are people who have actually been convicted of a crime. They have gone through the whole process of time limits for payment, and then we have to go through the whole legal procedure with the sheriff and the courts. This costs the Member and me a great deal of money. There is no reason in the world why these people should not be required to pay.
What we are saying is that this is a way to make them pay. Every year, they have to get their vehicle registered. If they can afford to put gas in their vehicle and buy insurance, and if they have been caught speeding, or some other offence, they can afford to pay the fine.
I believe that it would be far better to let these people know that if they get a fine, they must pay it. For example, if a person is caught speeding, it is better to make them pay the fine than to have that same person speeding time after time, because they feel they do not have to pay anything. One day, they may run over a child in the street, or cause an accident.
I think it is a commonsense solution that is adopted in almost every other jurisdiction in the country. We are not breaking new ground, by any means. I am willing to look at what they want to do in other areas. I am a little concerned that the Member opposite now seems to want to protect people who are convicted of offences and do not want to pay their fines. I hope I am not reading that from the Member opposite. I hope the Member is saying yes, these people should pay and, if they are convicted of a crime and have gone through the period of time of their sentence and have not paid their fine, there should be some other method to require them to pay.
Mr. Harding: The Minister is turning this into something else. I simply stated some concerns, and he is trying to imply I have said things I have not. He has brought up the subject of people running little girls over. There is no need for this.
I have simply stated some concerns. We have not had much time to respond. I do not want him to give us three months, by any means, but I think it would be appropriate for us to have some time to look at some of the concerns I identified earlier. Today is Wednesday. We came into session on Thursday afternoon for a brief period. This is our third day of sitting. We received the bill on Monday. There have been some pretty significant things happening in this Legislature. I do not think we are being entirely unreasonable. I do not think that the Minister has to say that the NDP Official Opposition has now taken the position that we do not want convicted people to pay fines. I do not think that is fair. We simply stated some concerns that we would like to have more time to address the bill. Perhaps we could also engage in some discussion in a private manner, with the other Members of the Opposition and with the Minister, concerning some amendments we might like to propose, on which he might get some cooperation from the Legislature.
Those are my comments, at this point. I hope he hears them. We can move on, or we can discuss this for the next half-hour. It is his choice.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I am willing to sit down with the other Members and discuss expanding the options of this bill to address some of the their concerns.
Ms. Commodore: I have two copies of proposed amendments. We were looking at it
as either/or. We wanted to have a chance to go over it thoroughly in caucus to find out
whether we would go with one or the other.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Commodore: No, I do not want to do that yet. I would like the Minister to
see them and talk to his officials about them, if he is in agreement with that approach.
Ms. Commodore: I want to make it very clear that they are only drafts. We are working with it because it is something we would like to do, if at all possible.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I am listening to the debate go back and forth, and there are some valid concerns being raised by the side opposite. I am concerned about using the Motor Vehicles Act as a club for all other areas where there are outstanding fines. I think that is something we will have to approach very, very cautiously. I am certainly prepared to look at it, but I am not quite clear why we should be using the Motor Vehicles Act.
The Member for Riverdale South has the answer to everything.
I think it is a very valid concern. Are we going to use the Motor Vehicles Act to police all other acts in the collection of outstanding fines? Is that the proposal? It can be expanded, but how far do we go? Do we include Wildlife Act convictions and maintenance support? We want people to pay their maintenance support, and that seems reasonable. When we look at the whole broad range of different violations in various areas, I would be concerned that we are using the Motor Vehicles Act to police all of these other acts.
Mr. Penikett: Let me make it quite clear that the concern of the Government Leader may be appropriate. We are not proposing a wide range of offences for which you would forfeit your vehicle licence. We have not had much time to consider it. We have actually met with lawyers and tried to talk about drafting. We are only considering one provision. We have prepared two rough draft amendments for the Minister to look at so that discussion can continue. We have not had a chance in caucus to even discuss which one, if either of them, we want to move. I will explain to the Government Leader our concern.
All of us have constituents. We have some problems with what is known in the United States as "Deadbeat Dads", people who have not kept up with their support payments. Throughout the United States, in particular, there is a wide range of sanctions being applied against such people. In some places they are being jailed, in some places they are being denied all sorts of benefits under the law, hunting licences and so forth. One that we have heard about, which has been very effective, is the denial or the removal of their driver's licences. Many people need to have a driver's licence in order to work; many people need a driver's licence to get to and from work; many people use their driver's licence as part of their work. Although the Justice department would probably have more valid data, there is plenty of evidence in the States that many jurisdictions have successfully used the threat of taking away someone's driver's licence to get enforcement of maintenance orders. That is the only thing we are proposing.
We have not yet cast it in terms of a precise amendment. We hope we will be able to do that. Even if we do, we are entirely open to discussion about the language. To be fair, we have not had a discussion about it in our caucus to be absolutely certain that this is the right instrument, but we think from the informal discussions that we have had so far that this is something we want to explore with the other side. That is as far as it goes. We are not proposing a whole long list of offences; we would just like to talk about this one.
Mr. Cable: I was just given these amendments tonight. I must say that they have some merit, and I would like to encourage the government to view the amendments as benefiting two distinct people. First, there is the party that receives the support and, secondly, there is the taxpayer who will see social assistance costs reduced.
I know the recent British experience, with their you-can-run-but-you-cannot-hide approach to collecting support payments, is showing that there are very significant reductions in social assistance costs. I think this really does warrant a thorough examination.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It is an area that was considered when we discussed the bill. The choice, at the time, was to go with just the Motor Vehicles Act. I think it is a good, valid consideration, and something at which we will take a hard look.
I will take the proposed amendments to the Members, now that I know their intent, and I will ask the Department of Justice to draft some amendments. I will come back to the Members opposite and see if those amendments are acceptable.
Ms. Commodore: I think the Minister mentioned the reason why he did not include this in these amendments, and that was that he was not entirely sure whether or not this was going to be successful. He wanted to wait and find out. I am not exactly sure if that is what he said, but it was something to that effect. My suggestion is to include it, and then you can find out whether they all work together.
The other thing that I am concerned about - and I think it was already mentioned by the Member for Riverdale South - was in regard to abandoned cars. As she mentioned, what is an abandoned car? Are we looking at something that has been on the side of the road for a week, or something that has been in the bush for a day? I think we have to be quite clear about exactly what the Minister is referring to when he talks about an abandoned car. It may be possible that we are talking about a car belonging to a low-income person whose car broke down, and he or she is not able to remove it because they are unable to hire or find somebody to tow it soon enough.
I know that when the government was in Opposition, they were always asking us for legislation. I do not know whether or not, since they have become government, they have changed their minds about introducing regulations in this House along with legislation. If they are, that would be good, because we would at least have an idea what they are trying to do and how these new amendments go along with regulations that apply to them.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will bring back the interpretation of the abandoned car when we are discussing it with other Members with respect to the proposed changes to the bill.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to follow up on the aspect of regulations. Is that kind of definition something that is going to be included in the regulations, with respect to an abandoned vehicle and what it means? The clause very specifically states "parking or abandoning of a motor vehicle", so there must be some definition of what that means. This is what I was saying to the Minister in the second reading speech I made. It is very difficult to understand exactly what this registrar is going to be able to do, unless we see the regulations.
In order for all of us to be responsible law-makers, we should have the finer details of the law. Otherwise, you never know how, or who, you might be affecting. I know that the intent of this new law is to punish individuals who have already broken the law. However, as legislators, whenever we pass new laws, they sometimes impact on the lives of people whose intention is not to break the law. The only way I can make that assessment is to look at the regulations and at some incidents that might come under those regulations, so I can point out to the Minister an example of an incident and ask him how it would be dealt with.
I do not know if the Minister has had a chance to ask his officials yet - he had made a commitment that he would try and get the regulations here. I think it is fairly important that we have them, or have some kind of idea what the parameters of the regulations are going to be, before we get into the discussion of the clauses. The regulations come on the second page - fairly early in the bill - so it is difficult to go through clauses and approve some, but not others.
I still want to know if the Minister could give me some more information about the suspensions of convictions of Yukon residents in other jurisdictions. I wanted an explanation about how that was going to work and I was anticipating that the Minister might bring that information back for me in general debate in the Committee.
I do not know if the Minister made a note of the other questions that I asked, and I really do not want to have to repeat all of them right now, but I was also concerned about the change of the Executive Council Member's authority being placed in the hands of the registrar. Is the Minister prepared to answer those questions for me now?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The reason for the registrar taking over the duties is because that is something the department is going to be dealing with all of the time. It is a little more cumbersome for the Minister to be dealing with all of the time. It is more administratively efficient for the registrar to be carrying out the duties.
With respect to suspension in other jurisdictions, I believe this is similar to the maintenance enforcement type rules, where there are agreements in place with other jurisdictions across the country. If someone is assessed a fine in the Yukon and does not pay the fine, but leaves and goes to Alberta, the Yukon can recover the fine if the reciprocal agreement is in place with Alberta. By having a reciprocal agreement in place with Alberta that province could hold the person's licence, and vice versa. A reciprocal agreement would allow us to withhold a licence in the Yukon if a person has received a speeding ticket in Alberta and recover fines for that province. Those are some of the areas that the agreement would cover.
The abandonment of motor vehicles moves into the area of the Minister responsible for the Department of Community and Transportation Services, because we are talking about the Motor Vehicles Act. I am leading this one because it is motor vehicles in Justice. As we move into definitions, such as abandoned vehicles - I do not have the act in front of me - I would think under the Motor Vehicles Act there might be a definition of an abandoned vehicle. Without seeing the act, I would think there is some reference to an abandoned vehicle in it. I will check that out for the Member.
Mrs. Firth: That is exactly why I am asking these questions. If the Minister is sponsoring this bill, I think he should know what that means. We have researched the other acts, and we do not know what could happen in that instance. There are going to be new regulations that come with this particular act. I would have expected that that specific regulation would be in this new act, because it is a completely new clause that makes reference to the abandoned vehicle. It is the clause on page 2. It is a totally new section. It seems to need new regulations and additional rules for loss of licensing and for abandoning motor vehicles.
I had asked a question of my research staff about the regulations. I have it here. My question was that there were regulations for all these acts that are included - the Fuel Oil Tax Act, the Motor Transport Act, and the Highways Act. For the Fuel Oil Tax Act, all the regulations are is just some forms.
I would like to hear from the Minister about that. I am not challenging him, but I would like to have a better understanding of the law that I am being asked to support.
On my question regarding the registrar doing this activity instead of the Executive Council Member, I know the Minister says it is more efficient because they do it all the time, but my question was specifically with respect to whether or not they needed extra training, or if it was just going to be an expansion of their present job classification.
With respect to the question regarding the suspension for convictions of Yukon residents in other jurisdictions, I am looking for some indication from the Minister of how this process is going to work. For example, when someone in the Yukon goes to renew a driver's licence, or another operating permit, is the agency they are trying to renew with automatically going to check with the provinces to see if they have outstanding fines? If they do that, is it going to be a lengthy process, or can that be done fairly quickly? How is that whole process going to work? How are they going to track that?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: There is an agreement being signed by all of the provinces across Canada, and it is being done by computer. Wherever you go, your driver's licence will follow you. Any convictions you have will be sent along to the next province, and they will know whether or not you should have a licence. It is being signed right now. Nearly all of Canada has it, and we are one of the last places to join in.
Mrs. Firth: I understand that is some kind of reciprocal agreement, but how does it work? If I go to Alberta and get a speeding ticket, there is a computer entry made that says I have a speeding ticket, is that correct? Let us say that I am in Alberta, and I have received a speeding ticket. I come home and go to renew my driver's licence, but I have forgotten to pay the speeding ticket from Alberta. What would happen in that event? If I forgot to pay it, what would happen to bring to my attention the fact that it had not been paid? Would it be brought to the attention of the government here and, then, the government would remind me? Or does nobody remind me, and I then come to what happens when I go to get my licence. I would like to understand how this is going to work.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: As I understand it, the only time that it would go on record would be if you went to Alberta to live and wanted to get a driver's licence down there. In that case, they would automatically check back to see if you had any kind of record on your driver's licence and were entitled to it. If you had a fine down there, I suspect you would have to pay it down there, but I am not completely sure about that. I will find out and get back to you on that.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: If you get a speeding ticket in Alberta, you give your name, address and phone number to the police officer when you are stopped. Most of the time now, you can pay a speeding fine right away, and you do not have to go to court. You will get a notice in the mail, and there is probably a process whereby you get a second notice in the mail. If you then refuse to pay it, when you come to Whitehorse to renew your driver's licence, they will say "Sorry, Mrs. Firth. You have an outstanding fine of $60 in Alberta, and we will not issue you a licence until you pay the fine". That is my understanding of how it will work. If you then pay the $60 fine, you will get your Yukon driver's licence. Otherwise, you will not.
Mrs. Firth: I understand that process, but how do they find out here that you
have an outstanding fine elsewhere? How does the motor vehicles branch here find out? If
they are signing a reciprocal agreement, does that mean that all provinces enter all
tickets and fines and penalties in their computers, and we can access their computers?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Once they have this agreement completed - they have started to sign it in the last six to eight months - then they would be able to pick up any information across Canada just by getting on the computer system and going to it.
Mrs. Firth: I do not know if the Minister is planning to bring officials into the House, but I would like to get a detailed explanation of how this is going to work. I am still a little unclear as to exactly how it is going to work. I can understand the concepts the Ministers are presenting. I am concerned that it is going to be more than that. When we go in to get our driver's licence there are often lineups. It is not as bad as it used to be. My concern is in the delivery of service to the public. If we bring in this new law, there may be instances when you go to get your driver's licence and they will not be able to issue it quite as quickly. If we do this, we will have people lining up while they have their driver's licences checked in every province to see that they do not have any outstanding fines. I would expect that that might take some time, even if it is computerized. If a penalty is going to be imposed, you are going to have to know about all this before you issue a driver's licence. It seems fairly clear to me that it is common sense. I would like to have some of the officials here to explain exactly how that is going to happen so that we prevent any possible problems that may arise as a result of these new changes.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: In the first place, I would offer the Member the officials' briefing on the matter. If the Member feels it would take a long time, I would remind her that banks do it. One can be anywhere in Canada, and the banks can cash a cheque within three or four minutes, just by producing a card. The system seems to be working quite well for them, so I do not see why it would not work for other purposes.
The whole system is under the Motor Vehicles Act, which is harmonized across Canada. However, if the Member would like a briefing from the officials, I can arrange that for tomorrow morning.
Mrs. Firth: I would appreciate that.
The point about the banks is a nice try, but they are dealing with a much smaller client list than a motor vehicles branch would be.
I look forward to getting some kind of briefing from the officials in order to get some idea of how this would work. I would like to bring my researchers along as well so that we can be better informed.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I have been informed that there is a definition of abandoned vehicles in the Motor Vehicles Act.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: In light of the discussions that have gone on this evening on this bill, I would ask that we stand the bill aside.
Bill No. 64 stood over
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the Chair report progress on Bill No. 64.
Motion agreed to
Chair: We will now be discussing Bill No. 59, An Act to Amend the Small Claims Court Act.
Bill No. 59 - An Act to Amend the Small Claims Court Act
Chair: Is there any general debate?
If not, we will proceed with the clause-by-clause reading of the bill.
On Clause 1
Clause 1 agreed to
On Clause 2
Clause 2 agreed to
On Clause 3
Clause 3 agreed to
Title agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, I move that you report Bill No. 59 without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Chair: We will now be discussing Bill No. 83, An Act to Amend the Business Corporations Act.
Bill No. 83- An Act to Amend the Business Corporations Act
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The Member for Riverdale South asked a couple of questions that I think I can clear up at this time.
The Member had a question on how long it would take to eliminate these files. We first have to give 120 days' notice. Overall, we expect that it will take about five months from the time we begin to eliminate the files.
How much will this save? I cannot give the Member a figure on that. Of course, it will save an individual from going through some 200-odd delinquent files every year, as we have been doing for a couple of years, with an additional 50 or more that seem to pile up each year
It will certainly save quite a bit of time in the areas of the processing, the letters that go out, the stamps. the for register the letters and that type of thing.
The other question was asked by the Member for Riverside on mail and the type of mail. My understanding is that it has to be certified or registered mail, and it will be considered to have been received 10 days after it has been mailed. It will go through the regular post office system as a letter to the last known address of the corporation that is on file in the registry. It would have to be a registered or certified letter, sent through the regular mail process, to be considered received.
Mr. Cable: I am just trying to collate what the Minister just said.
I notice that, under the Motor Vehicles Act, there is a deeming clause on the sending of a notice: "A notice of suspension, cancellation or disqualification referred to in subsection 1 may be served by certified mail." I read that from the Motor Vehicles Act amendment the Minister brought in. In 2.55(1), it states that "a notice may be sent by mail". The problem I have with that is that the word "sent" has some connotation of being received. I do not want to create some unnecessary litigation here. I wonder if, in view of the time, we could stand it over until tomorrow, when the Minister and I could perhaps discuss it further.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, I move that you report progress on Bill No. 83.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the 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: Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 64, An Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act, and Bill No. 83, An Act to Amend the Business Corporations Act, and directed me to report progress on them. Further, the Committee has considered Bill No. 59, An Act to Amend the Small Claims Court Act, and directed me to report it without amendment.
Speaker: You have heard the report from 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 the House to now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
This House stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:29 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled December 7, 1994:
Yukon Liquor Corporation: financial statement for the year ended March 31, 1994
Yukon Lottery Commission Annual Report and audited financial report for the 1993-94
fiscal year (Brewster)