Thursday, October 30, 1997 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed with prayers at this time.
INTRODUCTION OF PAGES
Speaker: It gives me great pleasure that the following students will be serving the House as legislative pages for the fall sitting. They are: Jamie Furniss, Erin McClelland, Brianne Meister, Andria Sherstone and Nikki Swerhun, from F.H. Collins Secondary School, and Ben Craigen, Ken Hunter, Stephen McGovern and Heather Salé, from Vanier Catholic Secondary School. Today we have with us Heather and Nikki. I would ask members to welcome them to the House at this time.
IN REMEMBRANCE OF TWO FORMER MEMBERS OF THE ASSEMBLY
Speaker: Before proceeding to the Order Paper, the House will recognize the passing of two former members of the Legislature, Dr. Jack Hibberd and Meg Sutherland McCall.
In remembrance of Dr. Jack Hibberd
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to a former Yukoner, a former member of this Legislature and a good friend of mine, Dr. John Hibberd, or more commonly referred to as Jack by many of us, who passed away on May 15, 1997 at 66 years of age in Penticton, British Columbia.
Jack Hibberd was born and educated in Vancouver. He married Joyce Beattie in 1968, had two children, Syke and Darcy. He was first elected to the Yukon Legislature in 1974, re-elected in 1978, during which time he oversaw the important portfolios of Consumer and Corporate Affairs and Renewable Resources.
He contributed a great deal of time, both in his private life as well as in his public life, serving and working of behalf of many Yukoners and promoting their aspirations. As a practicing surgeon, Jack is also to be commended for the delivery of many Yukoners over the years and helping those in need of medical attention.
Though he left the Yukon in the early 1980s to work as a surgical consultant in a hospital outside, Jack and his wife Joyce maintained their ties to the Yukon with annual visits to the territory each summer.
It can easily be said that he always had a very special place in his heart for the Yukon, and expressed a sincere interest in the north and its well-being. A man of true dedication, one of great knowledge, and an excellent representative of the Yukon, Dr. Hibberd will be missed by his daughters and families, and by many fellow Yukoners. As a former member of this House, please join me in paying tribute to Dr. Jack Hibberd.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of the Yukon Liberal Party caucus to join with our colleagues in this House in paying tribute to a former legislator, Jack Hibberd.
Often the most telling judgment of our time here on earth is how we are remembered by our family, by our friends, by our colleagues. Dr. Hibberd will be remembered, not simply for his contributions in this House - chairing the Committee of the Whole, Executive Committee member responsible for - as an MLA conscious of the needs of his constituents. Jack Hibberd is also remembered by many nurses in the Yukon as an incredible surgeon, by friends as someone you'd want to always spend time with, by the basketball fraternity as an athlete. Jack Hibberd's time on this earth, although all too short, was full and wisely spent, and we join with our colleagues here in paying tribute to him.
In remembrance of Meg Sutherland McCall
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would like to join my colleague in paying tribute to, not only Doctor Hibberd, who passed away this last spring, but also to another Member of the Legislature, who served her constituents very well, Meg McCall, who served the Legislature from the period 1978 to 1982.
Meg McCall was Minister of Education, perhaps best known for her work in creating the women's bureau and the heritage branch in the Department of Tourism. She was also Minister of Health and Human Resources and Minister of Heritage and Culture. She was well known to many people in the territory as having been a strong supporter of the arts. She was a person who regarded herself as a true west coast woman, in that she lived in the Yukon for many years, of course, but also all up and down the Pacific coast, through to California. She was a writer, a playwright, a producer, an actress, artist, historian, columnist, real estate agent, antique merchant, appraiser, potter, researcher, and finally, probably most notably in the latter years that she spent in the territory, a politician.
I would like to ask all members of the Legislature to join with me in paying tribute to her accomplishments and relaying our sincere condolences to her family.
Mr. Jenkins: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today to pay tribute to a long-time Yukoner and a friend who passed away on September 10th at the age of 67 after a long battle with cancer.
Meg Sutherland McCall was born in Mayo, educated in the Yukon, Vancouver, California and Europe, where she met and married her husband, Dr. Ian McCall. Dr. McCall's practice finally brought the family to Clinton Creek, then to Dawson, where the McCalls settled.
Meg was elected in 1978 and served as a Member of the Yukon Legislative Assembly for Klondike until 1982.
With the introduction of responsible government and the Yukon's first Cabinet in 1978, Meg had her work cut out for her.
As the minister overseeing the important portfolios of Education, Health and Human Resources and Heritage, as well as having to deal with the many walls of prejudice against women in the public realm at that time, Meg certainly had her share of challenges. Despite hardships in the political arena, Meg, without a doubt, held her own and carried the voice of the Klondike with integrity.
Perhaps one of Meg's greatest contributions was her active involvement in community affairs and fostering interest in history and arts within the Klondike region. She referred to Mayo as her birthplace, Dawson as her home, but it was the mouth of the Forty Mile River that Meg described as her spiritual home.
Meg worked hard helping raise awareness about the small village near the mouth of the river that once thrived, prior to the gold rush stampede. She also played an important role in the community and the Forty Mile Historical Society.
Over the years I came to know and respect both Meg and her husband Ian. In fact, it was Meg's husband, now deceased, who delivered both of my daughters at the then Dawson City Hospital. During my years as Mayor of Dawson, I also had the opportunity to work with Meg. She was an outstanding individual and a woman who stood true to her word; a good person with a love of history and a heart of gold. Meg will be remembered fondly by Yukoners, missed by her children, Hugh, Sam and Lael, and many, many more of us.
As a former member of this House, and a very special woman, it is appropriate that we pay tribute to Meg Sutherland McCall today.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to Meg McCall on behalf of the Yukon Liberal caucus. Meg McCall was born in Mayo. She was a true Yukoner who served the territory well in the Legislature. Meg and her husband Ian spent many years living in the mining communities of Cassiar and Clinton Creek. Meg had three children - Hugh, Lael and Sam. She was a well-known author and playwright.
Mrs. McCall touched many lives in the Yukon and throughout Canada, but what she was best known for, though - as a friend, Betty Taylor puts it - was an absolute interest in everything. Betty also notes that she was very enthusiastic, and she did everything with zest, and, Mr. Speaker, that's a wonderful way to be remembered.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
In remembrance of Don Sawatsky
Mr. Livingston: I rise to pay tribute to the memory of Don Sawatsky, veteran newspaperman and broadcaster, who passed away earlier this summer. Yukoners remember Don fondly as a witty and outspoken commentator on Yukon events. He was a man who truly had the common touch, and his observations often reflected the public mood with uncommon accuracy.
Don and his wife Marilyn moved to the Deep Creek area a few years ago, and I had the opportunity to speak with them on numerous occasions. About a month ago, I attended a celebration of Don's life at the Royal Canadian Legion hall. It was obvious, both from the moving tributes that were paid to him, but also from the diversity of people who attended, how widespread Don's influence was in our community.
As a keen observer of the passing scene, as a sportsman, as a member of the Canadian Rangers, and in many other ways, Don demonstrated a robust commitment to his chosen home in the Yukon. I'd ask members to join with me in expressing our sympathy and support to Marilyn and the Sawatsky family.
Mr. Phillips: I rise as well today to pay tribute to a very good friend of mine and of all members of this House, Don Sawatsky. He was a special Yukoner. Don was also a servant of this Legislature, serving on the other side of the glass, so to speak, as one of the founding members of the Yukon press gallery. I know that Don's humour and laugh, his hard work, and his advice will be missed by them as well. Don Sawatsky's Perspective column, in the Yukon News, became a uniquely Yukon tradition, and the views it expressed were uniquely those of its author, Don Sawatsky, a true Yukoner.
The Yukon and the Yukon way of life had no greater champion and defender of the faith. Pomposity, governmentese and phony causes were all free game to Don Sawatsky. Plain, raw common sense were his hallmark. His pen may now be still, but what he believed in and what he stood for can never be silenced.
Our thoughts go out to Don's wife, Marilyn, and his two sons, Michael and Greg, and I ask all members of this House to respect the loss of Don Sawatsky.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, I would like to rise today on behalf of the Liberal Party caucus to pay tribute to a former journalist, a Yukoner in spirit and in life, Don Sawatsky.
Mr. Sawatsky's colourful life and his optimistic outlook have been stated by those who knew him and have been paid tribute to this man by those who knew him best. The note in our local papers epitomizing Don Sawatsky, the dash-thirty that accompanies the end of any media release, on a ball-cap said it all.
Media releases come and go, and Yukoners have seen our fair share of journalists that have made their mark in the Yukon and moved on. Although Don Sawatsky has ended this particular media release, his contribution to Yukon journalism and to coverage of this Assembly will not be forgotten. Those whom Don chastised and those whom he praised will remember the high standards that he placed before us - his honesty and his humour.
On behalf of our party caucus, I would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to Marilyn and to their sons.
Speaker: Introduction of visitors.
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Speaker: Under tabling returns and documents, I have for tabling the following documents:
The First Annual Report of the Conflict of Interest Commission for the period governing May 2, 1996, to June 24, 1997;
The First Annual Report of the Yukon Ombudsman Information and Privacy Commission for the period July 1, 1996, to December 31, 1996;
The report of the Chief Electoral Officer on the by-election held in the Electoral District of Vuntut Gwich'in on April 1, 1997;
and a report of the Clerk of the Assembly made pursuant to subsection 39(6) of the Legislative Assembly Act.
Are there any further documents for tabling?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have a document, entitled Framework for Discussion on Canadian Unity.
Speaker: Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 23: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I move that Bill No. 23, entitled Crime Prevention and Victim Services Trust Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It is moved by the hon. Minister of Justice that Bill No. 23, entitled Crime Prevention and Victim Services Trust Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 23 agreed to
Bill No. 33: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I move that Bill No. 33, entitled The Intercountry Adoption (Hague Convention) Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It is moved by the hon. Minister of Health and Social Services that Bill No. 33, The Intercountry Adoption (Hague Convention) Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 33 agreed to
Bill No. 27: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I move that Bill No. 27, entitled Animal Health Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It is moved by the hon. Minister of Renewable Resources that Bill No. 27, entitled Animal Health Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 27 agreed to
Bill No. 26: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I move that Bill No. 26, entitled An Act to Amend the Animal Protection Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It is moved by the hon. Minister of Renewable Resources that Bill No. 26, entitled An Act to Amend the Animal Protection Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 26 agreed to
Bill No. 30: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I move that Bill No. 30, entitled An Act to Amend the Constitutional Questions Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It is moved by the hon. Minister of Justice that Bill No. 30, entitled An Act to Amend the Constitutional Questions Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 30 agreed to
Bill No. 31: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I move that Bill No. 31, entitled An Act to Amend the Cooperative Associations Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It is moved by the hon. Minister of Justice that Bill No. 31, entitled An Act to Amend the Cooperative Associations Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 31 agreed to
Bill No. 29: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 29, entitled An Act to Amend the Taxpayer Protection Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It is moved by the hon. Government Leader that Bill No. 29, entitled An Act to Amend the Taxpayer Protection Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 10 agreed to
Bill No. 25: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I move that Bill No. 25, entitled An Act to Amend the Notaries Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It is moved by the hon. Minister of Justice that Bill No. 25, entitled An Act to Amend the Notaries Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 25 agreed to
NOTICES OF MOTION
Speaker: Are there any notices of motions?
Mr. Ostashek: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House the Government of Yukon should support the responsible development of Yukon's resources on non-settlement lands after these developments have been approved by the proper environmental, regulatory and screening processes.
Mr. Speaker, I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the contractors and sub-contractors in the forestry industry do not have sufficient means to protect their ability to collect payment for their services; and
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to give consideration to the development of a wood workers' lien act that would ensure logs which are cut are not sold without payment to the parties who worked in cutting, moving and piling the logs.
Mr. Speaker, I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the federal Liberal government's proposal to restructure old age pension benefits has flaws and raises serious issues of fairness, in that the proposed seniors benefit will penalize middle- to higher-income Canadians who are saving for retirement while at the same time reduce their future retirement benefits; and
his House urges the federal Liberal government to hold public hearings in the Yukon prior to any change being introduced to Canada's old age security, the guaranteed income supplement, the age credit and the pension income credit.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that Northwestel's application to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to implement changes in its Ruraltel phone network in the Yukon will put local phone access out of the reach of many Yukoners and will do nothing to improve telephone service levels in rural Yukon; and
THAT this House urge the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to order Northwestel to provide adequate and affordable telephone service for all Yukoners.
Mr. Speaker, I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the proposed user fee charges for air navigation services in Canada will add to the cost of air service, specifically air cargo, in the north, and have a significant impact on tourism, exploration and the cost of basic goods; and
THAT this House urge NAV Canada to reconsider its proposal to replace the air transportation tax with user fees so that northern Canadians do not bear any additional cost than what is currently being charged for air navigation services.
Mr. Livingston: Mr. Speaker, I give notice
THAT this House commends the Government of Yukon for being committed: first, to a multi-faceted strategy to support youth as they develop their life skills with initiatives such as the Watson Lake/Ross River youth recreation leadership program, the Kwanlin Dun recreation program, the Mayo Youth Centre and Youth Works; and secondly, to ensuring that there are ample opportunities for all youth, that the achievements of Yukon youth are recognized and that they are encouraged to aspire to their dreams in an atmosphere of trust, hope and opportunity.
Mr. Speaker, I give notice
THAT it is the opinion of this House that: first, Yukoners deserve reliable, affordable and accessible telephone service; secondly, the present telephone service does not adequately serve the very needs of rural and urban Yukoners; third, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has a responsibility to Yukoners to ensure that regulated competition facilitates lower long distance rates, improved service, an extension of service in under-served areas; fourth, all telephone services directed toward basic home and business use in the Yukon should be regulated by the CRTC to ensure reliable, affordable and accessible service; fifth, the Government of Yukon should urge the CRTC to direct telecommunications companies operating in Canada to establish a fund to expand the Yukon's telecommunications infrastructure; and, sixth, the Government of Yukon should actively pursue all avenues to promote reliable, affordable and accessible telephone service in this territory.
Hon. Mr. Hardy: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that: first, the Government of Canada has unfairly restricted access to the income support for Canadians who have paid into unemployment insurance, which has been renamed employment insurance, throughout their working lives; second,
despite a projected $20 billion cumulative surplus by the end of 1998, the Government of Canada has unfairly reduced EI benefits, eliminating training programs and appropriated workers' money to pay down the deficit; and
THAT this House expresses strong opposition to the federal Liberal government's ongoing attempts to dismantle this vital component of our social safety net, causing great hardship to the victims of Canada's structural unemployment, and
THAT this House calls for the billions in savings which restrictions to unemployment have produced to be used to restore the program to meet the real financial and training needs of unemployed workers.
Hon. Mr. Hardy: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that: first, Canada's public pension system, which currently provides 58 percent of retirement income for seniors, is a pillar of our social support network and represents a sacred trust, ensuring a decent standard of living for lower and middle income Canadians upon retirement; second,
the federal Liberal government's introduction of the seniors benefit to replace the old age security and the guaranteed income supplement, and major changes to the Canada Pension Plan violates a sacred trust and demonstrates a callous disregard for the well-being of Canadian seniors; and
THAT this House strongly opposes these unnecessary changes to our pension system and calls for a re-commitment by this federal Liberal government to provide for a decent quality of life for the present and future elderly of our country by, at the very minimum, ceasing all plans to cut the CPP and destroy the universal OAS.
Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House strongly objects to any reduction of NAV Canada's staffing levels and services in the Yukon,
THAT this House strongly objects to the imposition of user fees; and
THAT this House urges Canada's Minister of Transport to deny any approval for any NAV Canada proposal of reduced staffing and service levels or user fees.
Mr. McRobb: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House, one, places a high value on Yukon River salmon runs; two, supports the provisions of the umbrella final agreement that commit governments to manage salmon to ensure conservation and maintenance of those subsistence harvests; and, three, recognizes the recreational and commercial importance of healthy salmon stocks; and
THAT this House urges the governments of Canada, Alaska and the United States of America to conclude a Yukon River Salmon Agreement based on equitable principles that, one, recognizes and compensates Canada for the high proportion of Canadian-produced salmon harvested by Alaska; two, provides for an increased salmon catch in the Yukon Territory; and, three, ensures adequate escapements to conserve and continue rebuilding Yukon River salmon stocks.
Speaker: Are there any statements by ministers?
Fire at Yukon Energy Corporation's main hydroelectric building on October 30, 1997
Hon. Mr. Harding: Before I begin my statement, I would just like to apologize to the opposition for this statement being late, but I was trying to wait until as much information as possible about the fire - that we are all aware of - could be obtained.
I rise today to update the members on the fire that occurred early this morning at the Yukon Energy Corporation's main hydroelectric building in Whitehorse. As you can imagine, officials of the Yukon Energy Corporation and Yukon Electrical Company Ltd. have been very busy all morning assessing the situation and examining the best course of action from here, and have been doing a good job.
It's too early to comment about the possible cause, of course, and the full impact of the fire is not known at this time. However, we do know that three of the four hydroelectric turbines have been damaged. The newest of the four turbines, which is housed in a separate building, is fully functional and continues to provide a reliable supply of energy.
In addition, Mr. Speaker, the diesel plant was not affected by the fire since it, too, is in a separate building. There was extensive damage to the Yukon Energy Corporation's main office area, but again the exact extent of the damage has not yet been determined.
One significant area of damage was to the central automatic control that handles automatic switching to balance demand loads. At this time, the system is being operated manually, with an automatic backup in place.
This may result in some minor inconvenience for consumers in the event of a power outage. Mr. Speaker, since any outage could last a little longer than usual, my officials advise me that ways are being explored now to re-establish an automatic control system as soon as possible.
Mr. Speaker, one worker did sustain a minor injury performing a switchover from hydro to diesel generation. I am sure all members will join me in wishing him a speedy recovery.
An event such as this is obviously unsettling for many people, Mr. Speaker, and I would like to pay tribute to all the employees of the Energy Corporation and Yukon Electrical Company Ltd. who are being called upon to shoulder extra duties at this time.
I would also like to express my gratitude to the emergency workers from the City of Whitehorse and others who responded so quickly and effectively during the emergency situation.
Mr. Speaker, I can assure members and power consumers in the territory that the fire will not result in any loss of power supply. As members are aware, the Anvil Range mine was asked to suspend its operations during the early hours following the fire.
The mine operators complied with this request, and took the further precaution of informing the Toronto Stock Exchange about this situation. The TSE did suspend trading in Anvil Range shares, but trading has since resumed.
YEC officials have been in touch with Anvil Range and have assured them of their ability to meet the mine's power requirements.
Mr. Speaker, members should also be informed that all Yukon Energy Corporation assets involved in the fire are fully insured, so there should be no negative impact on ratepayers as a result of this unfortunate occurrence.
I have also received assurances from health and environment officials that the fire did not pose any health hazards to the public.
The Yukon Energy Corporation will continue to address the issues arising from this fire in a coordinated manner, along with officials of the Yukon Electrical Company Ltd. which currently manages the Yukon Energy Corporation's assets.
I can assure the House that any decisions about replacing lost equipment will be made in a manner that is consistent with the best interests of all Yukon ratepayers and taxpayers.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Ostashek: I thank the minister for that statement. We accept his apology for it being late. We know it has been a very hectic morning for the minister but, nevertheless, we are pleased to see that he did get a statement available to this House and to the public.
The official opposition would also like to commend the emergency workers, the firefighters and the employees of YEC and YECL, for the professional manner in which they conducted their duties in the face of some real travesty and some real trying times.
They were professional enough and accomplished enough in their tasks that we did not even have an interruption of power. I think they deserve commendation for that.
I know that the minister has not had time to fully analyze the impact of this fire. I know that he is trying to put as positive a spin on it as possible. I don't blame him for that - we need to be able to look at this in a rational manner - but I do believe that there are some questions I would like the minister to respond to in his rebuttal.
While the minister says that the assets were fully insured, we would like to know what the deductible was on the insurance and who the assets were insured by. Were they insured by Yukon Energy Corporation or were they insured by our manager, Alberta Power?
Also, since the fire has destroyed the offices of YEC, and there is a lot of corporate knowledge stored somewhere - over years of records - can the minister inform this House if the fires had any detrimental impact on the records of the Energy Corporation?
I will not go into more detail this time. I will have questions, possibly some as soon as Question Period this afternoon, but I know that, in the days to come, we will be looking for responses from the minister as to how we are going to get the hydro facility back up to full capacity so that we're not paying for expensive diesel fuel. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Cable: Thanks, Mr. Speaker. Let me say that the Liberal caucus is pleased that no one was seriously hurt in the fire.
Now, I appreciate that the utility officials haven't had time to fully assess the damage, and that the minister hasn't had time to be fully briefed on the problem, but Yukoners need an early assessment of what is taking place, and they need some questions answered.
While the generators I know have been damaged, have the turbines and shafts been damaged? Are we looking at an extensive period for replacement of the capacity? How long will it take to restore that destroyed capacity, and will it be in the form that the capacity was in before the fire? How long will it take to put the instrumentation back in place? I know people who experience power outages are going to be very interested in that, judging from the comments this morning.
Could I encourage the minister, who I'm sure is not fully briefed yet, to provide this House with a new ministerial statement on Monday and give us the assurances that are needed for homeowners and for businesses?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, thank you very much for the comments, Mr. Speaker, from the opposition. This is a very serious matter, but I do not want to unnecessarily alarm the public. I think it's important that the response is coordinated; that it is thoughtful and deliberate and responsible from the way it was handled in that manner last night and straight on through the process.
The Government Leader and I were recently over for a brief look at the situation. It is, on first glance, quite serious and certainly somewhat alarming and disturbing to see, but the firefighters have been working very hard and are still, as we speak, spraying water on the damage caused by the fire.
I have telephoned the mayor to express my sincere gratitude to the City of Whitehorse for the way they handled the situation and the quick response of the firefighters.
On the questions, I am not aware of a deductible on the insurance. I will provide that information for the members. With regard to the insurance, though, and who carries it, it is the responsibility of the manager, which is Yukon Electrical Company Ltd., to provide the insurance. The member is quite right. The details surrounding that will have to be worked out.
The basic point, though, is that the assets are insured.
With regard to the offices and the records, some records I know for sure are gone. If you look, the roof that houses the boardroom is completely caved in. There were some files and some papers there, obviously. As to the extent of the record damage, again, I will have to wait until the appropriate people can venture in.
As I saw the place myself, first hand, there was not a lot of action other than firefighters. That is probably for safety reasons, and quite appropriate at this time.
With regard to the turbines and shaft damage, all I have is anecdotal discussions with the firefighters at this point. No one has done appropriate assessments on it. I wouldn't want to comment further on the level of damage, if there is any substantively, to the turbine. I will provide more information, as we get good information, for the members opposite.
I also look forward to working with the new chair of the Yukon Energy Corporation board, Mr. Ray Wells, on this. This is a baptism of fire, in a sense, for the new chair of the board. He's certainly going to get up to speed in a hurry. We will have to work through these issues as we approach the issue of direct management, as well.
I appeal to Yukoners for their cooperation and their patience as we deal with the fallout of this unfortunate situation. I will bring more information to this House as soon as I can give the members opposite good information. I make that commitment.
National Unity Consultations
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to inform the House of arrangements that have been made to give Yukon people an opportunity to add their voices to the important discussion now taking place about how to keep this great country of Canada united and strong.
As members are aware, the premiers of nine provinces and the leaders of both territories met in Calgary in September to discuss this tremendously important subject. We did so because of a shared concern that events in Quebec seemed to be pointing to the possibility of another referendum on national unity in the near future.
Regardless of our place on the political spectrum, each of us recognized the responsibility we share to provide leadership on this issue, just as all parties in this House have stood united in the past on the importance of keeping the country intact.
During that meeting in Calgary, we agreed to seven principles that we believe can help focus public debate and discussion about who we are as a national people. I have been fortunate enough to be able to table the principles already today.
In our discussions, we also agreed to seek the views of people in our respective jurisdictions on these seven principles and on the wider questions of what it means to be Canadian.
Here in the Yukon, through the cooperation of the hon. leader of the official opposition and the House leader of the Liberal Party, we have reached an all-party agreement on the process for consulting Yukon people.
To ensure that the process is independent and non-partisan, a Yukon Commission on Unity has been formed to engage Yukon people in discussions on the principles for national unity. The five people who have agreed to undertake this task are all well known and well respected throughout the territory. I would like to introduce three of them to members in the House today, as they are sitting in the gallery. I would like the members to take note of the presence of Joyce Hayden, Ken McKinnon and Pam Buckway.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The other two members of the Yukon Commission on National Unity are Doug Bell and Bob Charlie.
Over the next few weeks, they will be actively seeking out the views of Yukon people on the seven principles for national unity in a variety of ways, and tabling a final report in this House. I understand the commissioners plan to make an announcement shortly about how they will be conducting the consultation, so I won't attempt to steal their thunder this afternoon.
I should point out, Mr. Speaker, that the discussion on how to bring the national unity question to the attention of Yukon people included a meeting, shortly after I returned from Calgary, with L'Association Franco-Yukonnaise. A clear commitment was made that the Yukon French-speaking community would be fully respected throughout this process. A similar commitment was made to the leadership of the Council for Yukon First Nations that nothing in this round of public consultation would take away from the rights of First Nations people to address their role in Canadian society in future discussions.
I would just like to conclude, Mr. Speaker, by making it clear that this public consultation is not an attempt to rewrite Canada's constitution. Neither will it preclude any further negotiations about the Yukon's role in confederation or our future aspirations.
I am proud to say that all my provincial and territorial counterparts have given firm assurances that the Yukon will continue to be a full participant in all discussions over the future of our country.
Mr. Speaker, we on both sides of the House, are fully committed to preserving and protecting a country that is widely recognized as one of the best places to live in the world. I am sure that all members share that sentiment, and I am sure that all of us in the House welcome the opportunity to hear the voice of all Yukon people on this matter.
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Speaker, I don't have much to add to what the Government Leader has said. As he stated, all three political parties in this Legislature work together to try to get a method that would get the input of all Yukoners on an issue that I feel is very, very important to all Canadians, and it is also an issue that most politicians nowadays don't want to touch because of the failure of Meech Lake and Charlottetown.
Nevertheless, I believe it is a very important issue and I am pleased with the cooperation that we've had among the parties in this House to be able to come up with a consultative process to get Yukoners' opinions, and I guess, as a legislator, it gives me great pleasure to be able to work at times with other political parties that are of different philosophical beliefs - well, at least, Mr. Speaker, between the Yukon Party and the NDP party. The liberals sort of like to keep one foot in each camp, but we do have different philosophical beliefs, and we have been able to work together for the betterment of all Canadians.
I do not think the Government Leader has addressed it, but I believe that at some point in this session there will be a motion coming forward in this Legislature, and I will be looking for all-party support on that.
Ms. Duncan: The Calgary Declaration has focused the attention of a country on the subject of national unity. As other members in this House noted, it is among the most important issues facing our nation and I am truly pleased that the Yukon will be participating as full partners in this discussion.
I, too, would like to welcome the members of the Yukon Commission on Unity to this House. I thank them for agreeing to undertake this most important task and I truly appreciate the time, the thought and the energy that they will be putting into this exercise. They are each respected members of our community and I am truly confident that they will do an excellent job.
I want to use this opportunity to encourage all Yukoners to take advantage of the opportunity to participate in this process. The debate on this issue of national unity has, for far too long, been left only to politicians. This commission, and others like it across the country, have been set up to hear from the public on this issue. It is time to hear the views of Yukoners and all Canadians on this topic that is of paramount importance to the future of our country.
We, in the Liberal Caucus, will be very supportive of the work of the Yukon Commission on Unity. It has a very important task ahead and I wish them well.
Energy Awareness Month
Mr. McRobb: Although I share the concern of all members about today's event concerning the Yukon Energy Corporation, I rise to inform the House of some good news on the energy front. Specifically, Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform members about a number of special activities related to energy conservation and energy alternatives that the Cabinet Commission on Energy is sponsoring during the month of November.
In line with our government's policy of encouraging the prudent use of our energy resources, I am pleased to announce that November is being proclaimed Energy Awareness Month in the Yukon as a means of focusing public attention on this important subject.
Mr. Speaker, our government believes that all of us have a responsibility to use our energy resources wisely, just as all of us share responsibility for the preservation and enhancement of our environment.
Energy Awareness Month will provide a variety of opportunities for Yukon people - young and old - to become better informed and better equipped to make responsible decisions regarding energy use, both in their homes and in their places of business.
This month-long event is a result of a partnership between the Cabinet Commission on Energy and the innovators in the schools program.
The first major activity will take place next Monday with a public address at the High Country Inn, beginning at 7 p.m., on a very relevant topic, entitled A Penny Saved: Home Energy Conservation. The speaker will be Godo Stoyke, an environmental educator from Edmonton who has won numerous awards for public speaking on energy-related topics.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Stoyke will give a noon-hour lecture on Global Warming to Yukon College students. This lecture is also open to the public.
Other speakers during the month will include Dr. Mark Jaccard, an internationally respected resource economist from Simon Fraser University, who is currently heading the British Columbia task force on electricity market reform. Dr. Jaccard will speak at the High Country Inn on November 16 about Community Energy Management.
This address should be of interest to anyone who is concerned about public policy on energy.
Mr. Speaker, unfortunately there isn't time this afternoon to outline all of the activities that are planned for Energy Awareness Month, but I do want to mention one highlight in particular. That is the Family Energy Expo that will take place next Friday and Saturday, November 7 and 8, in the Yukon College gym.
This event promises to be both entertaining and informative for Yukoners of all ages, and it results from a lot of very hard work by our partners in the innovators in the schools program. We expect that the Energy Expo will yield positive benefits in terms of public awareness for a long time to come.
A number of other displays, tours, public addresses and panel discussions are also planned during Energy Awareness Month, Mr. Speaker, and I urge all members to watch for announcements about the details, and to join us for as many of these activities as possible.
As legislators, Mr. Speaker, we have an opportunity to provide leadership and public information and debate. That is what the Cabinet Commission on Energy is attempting to do in all its activities. The resource papers on oil and gas, coal, hydro, wood, wind and alternatives that we released in conjunction with the energy resources branch of the Department of Economic Development are part of that effort. So is the discussion that is taking place now regarding the future of electrical rate relief for the territory. Early in the new year, the commission will be going out to the communities to consult with Yukon people about a new comprehensive energy policy for the Yukon based on principles that our government has enunciated many times both here in the House and elsewhere.
I urge all members of this House and all Yukon people to take an active part in this discussion, just as I urge and invite them to take an active part in the activities coming up during Energy Awareness Month in the territory.
Speaker: This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Yukon Energy Corporation, fire
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister responsible for the Energy Corporation. There are a couple of things that I'd hoped the minister could address today that may give some comfort to Yukoners over the weekend before we hear more about what's happening.
When the Yukon Party left office, there was some $10 million in the Yukon Development Corporation coffers. We know that some of that money has been spent on diesel fuel because of the Aishihik decision, but there is no doubt that, regardless of the fact that the Energy Corporation's assets were all insured, it's going to take some financial liquidity in the short term for the Energy Corporation to be able to deal with these issues.
So, my question for the minister is: can he tell me the amount of money that is left in the Yukon Development Corporation fund?
Hon. Mr. Harding: It is true that we kept our campaign commitment to Yukoners to take steps to mitigate the environmental impact on Aishihik Lake, unlike the now official opposition, the then Yukon Party government that promised to do something about the lake, but did not accomplish much.
I would say to the member opposite that the financial position - with the exception of buying the bottom two feet of the licence last year through YDC dividends and some of the costs of transition - is exactly the same. It would be in the vicinity of $4 million to $5 million.
All of the 1997 cost of service numbers have not come in yet, obviously because of the uncertainty surrounding Anvil Range and its impact on the grid and on customers. However, I will give the member a more definitive statement of accounts and provide him with that as soon as I can.
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for that update and we will look forward to getting the exact figure in the very near future.
There is no doubt that, with the loss of three turbines, we are going to have to generate more electricity using diesel fuel. We do have the ability to use the full licensing range that has been licensed to us for Aishihik Lake.
Is it the government's intention to change its order in light of this very serious accident that we have had in order that we do not have to pay any more than is absolutely necessary for excess diesel costs in the interim or until the turbines are up and running?
Hon. Mr. Harding: The member is putting the cart well before the horse. We do not know yet what our capacity draw is going to be. The two feet that was purchased is still in Aishihik Lake, I might add. There is a whole slew of factors that will determine what level of draw down on Aishihik Lake would be required. There is a whole slew of factors to determine what level of diesel might be needed that are variable, to say the least at this point, and we will not know, for some time, all of the impacts and all the implications and whether or not we even lost all three of our hydro-generating vehicles.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, Mr. Speaker, the minister can try and put as positive a spin on it as he likes, but he needs to be realistic. We have lost some hydro capacity. We do know that at this time last year, with the Faro mine on line prior to them shutting down, we were very close to maxing out the system. There are going to be additional costs, and I don't think the minister should be making light of it. We will look forward to his further report on this in the very near future.
My final supplementary, Mr. Speaker, is: I would like to know from the minister if this is going to have any impact on the schedule of the turnover of the management from YECL to Yukon Energy Corporation.
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, Mr. Speaker, I would say to the leader of the official opposition that I'm not trying to put a positive spin on anything. What I'm trying to do is take this matter very seriously, but not to unfortunately and unnecessarily alarm the public until we have a full evaluation of the extent of damage to the Yukon Energy Corporation as a result of this unfortunate incident.
With regard to the situation last year, we do not know that that will be the case. It depends on many, many variables and many factors - from warm weather to ascertaining what water inflows came into our hydro system last year to what happens to the future of the Faro mine and their power drain. Mr. Speaker, those are just three factors. The number four hydroelectric-generating vehicle we have can produce 20 megawatts of power.
So, Mr. Speaker, I don't want to unnecessarily alarm the public. I hear what the member is saying. I have some of his concerns, but we have to see precisely what has occurred with the damage from the fire. With regard to the direct management, I'm not aware at this time of impacts that this might have on direct management, but again that's an issue that will have to be fully fleshed out as we work through and try and ascertain more clearly what damage was caused by the fire.
Question re: Anvil Range Mining Corporation, financial stability
Mr. Ostashek: Well, we'll be waiting patiently for the minister to come back with more information to the House on that.
My question is to the Minister of Economic Development. While Yukoners are still reeling from the disaster over the loss of our major hydro facility, there are rumours of another calamity that may be in the making, and I am now speaking here of the financial stability of Anvil Range Mining Corporation. Largely because of lack of action by this government, the fate of the Yukon economy now hinges solely on the fate of the Faro mine.
Can the minister confirm or deny the rumours that Anvil Range Mining is facing immediate and severe financial difficulties?
Hon. Mr. Harding: I might remind the leader of the opposition, when we took over this government, some three weeks after being sworn in, we were faced with the situation of Faro mine shutting down. Then the unemployment rate skyrocketed, so I wouldn't say that the member opposite can blame some dependency on the Faro mine on this particular government. His own record in government shows dependency on the Faro mine. It has been, historically, a major component of the gross domestic product of this territory. Now, he did inject some more money into the economy by taxing Yukoners with a record tax hike, but we've told Yukoners we won't do that. It is interesting to note, however, he told Yukoners he wouldn't do that, but he did. We intend to keep our commitment.
In terms of action by this government, there are good things on the horizon economically in this territory, with Sa Dena Hes opening. I was just down at Watson for a signing ceremony. Minto Explorations, hopefully, will be open in the spring. We're bringing in an oil and gas bill. We've started up the community development fund. I just kicked off a major export symposium.
Mr. Phillips: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Point of order
Speaker: Point of order called.
Mr. Phillips: Point of order, Mr. Speaker. The question was, "Is the minister aware of any financial difficulties that Anvil is under," and not a whole description of the economic activities of the territory. Would the minister please answer the question.
Speaker: Will the minister answer the question on the financial -
Hon. Mr. Harding: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have obviously touched a nerve with the members. They don't like our long list of action on the economy. However, I would say to the member that, as I am aware, Anvil Range is actively financing. I'm in communication with them virtually on a daily basis. On Tuesday, I met with the chief executive officer of Cominco. They are considering, and are pursuing, financing options, and they've started, or had started, a test of the mill. It was recently suspended, as of this morning, because of the fire, but I do know their efforts to find financing to open the mine are continuing.
Mr. Ostashek: I am glad to see here that the minister is staying on top of this issue and is fully informed, so he shouldn't have any difficulty in answering our questions.
My supplementary is that this morning, the share prices of Anvil Range dropped 39 cents shortly after the opening and a stop-trading order was issued at the request of the company. That was at about 9:30 a.m. this morning. We heard that an Energy Corporation representative had advised the company at 10:00 a.m. that they could continue with the milling and mining at Faro, that they had plenty of power. At 11:00 a.m., Vancouver time, the company put out a press release that I will table. It stated that, as a result of the fire, the mining and milling operations had to be shut down and the facility will be maintained on a standby basis until a time when power supply can be resumed.
Mr. Speaker, there are some discrepancies here. The share prices continued to plummet all day. There was plenty of time for the company to put out another press release saying that power had been restored to the company and stop the slide in the share price when they're going to the markets to try to raise money.
My question to the minister is: does he think that the company is using the fire at the Yukon Energy Corporation in an effort to buy more time for their financing?
Hon. Mr. Harding: The member opposite has been busy this morning compiling a case to make on the floor of the Legislature. I cannot speak for Anvil Range. I can speak for this government.
I know that I have been in constant communication with Anvil Range. We have been working, as I have told this Legislature and the public before, on issues that have arisen, such as energy, to try and help them with their financing. I have met with Cominco. I met with Cominco Tuesday afternoon. The national news reported the fire at the Energy Corporation very early this morning. It was only responsible, one would think, that the mining company would give that information to the Toronto stock exchange to halt the trading.
I know that they are actively trying to find the financing for their operation. I would also say to the member opposite that they hadn't started full production at the mill; they had started a test of the mill. I do not believe they will start full production until they have equity financing.
Mr. Ostashek: The minister, it seems, in his opening statements today, is going a little bit soft on his whole-hearted, convincing arguments that he had given the Yukon public as early as last September that the mine would be back in production first before the end of September, then before the end of October and now we hear it is the end of November.
Can the minister confirm that, in his mind, he believes that the Anvil Range Mine will be in production next month as planned and Faro workers will continue to have their jobs?
Hon. Mr. Harding: I am glad to see the leader of the official opposition finally taking an interest in the jobs in Faro and the people of Faro, and I welcome that new approach on his behalf. I would say that the government does have some concern about the financing of Anvil and, as I have told the member, we have been trying to work with them on those issues. We have, as I have said, been in constant contact with them. We have recently met with the CEO of Cominco to talk about it.
The mine in full production will not go ahead following the stripping, which has essentially been completed, until equity financing is in place. I know those efforts continue by Anvil Range. We have offered. There are buyers that have to be talked to to try and help the company by representing the government on behalf of Yukon people to tell people we actively promote and welcome mining in this territory.
Let me just say to the member opposite that I am hopeful, and Anvil Range continues its financing efforts.
Question re: Yukon Energy Corporation, relationship with Yukon Electrical Company Ltd.
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the minister responsible for the Energy Corporation.
Now, the minister and a representative for Yukon Electrical were trading barbs in the newspaper earlier this week. The minister was quoted as saying that he was concerned with the relationship between Yukon Energy and Yukon Electrical and he talked about the relationship having gone sour. Then the Yukon Electrical representative talked about a ministerial coverup. Now these signals on the relationship are disturbing, particularly in view of the fire this morning. Could the minister elaborate, when he is saying he "is concerned about the relationship," what are his specific concerns?
Hon. Mr. Harding: I was not trading barbs with the manager of Yukon Electrical. The manager of Yukon Electrical was throwing barbs this way. I, as minister of an arm's length utility that has a board, am obviously concerned about the fallout that took place in the wake of a decision for Yukon Electrical to no longer manage the assets of the Yukon Energy Corporation.
This was a very big decision by the board - a government-appointed citizen board, many of them were appointed by the Yukon Party, Mr. Speaker - and that has had some damaging of the relationship, and I don't think that can be overlooked or underscored. So that is what I was concerned about.
The decision recently by the board with regard to the systems contract obviously also did not further help that. However, there are a number of businesspeople on that board who felt that it was the only decision to make, given the circumstances.
Mr. Cable: The Government Leader had been previously quoted as saying he wishes the government had done a better job at determining the long-term relationship between Yukon Electrical and Yukon Energy. That comment, together with the minister's comments and together with the fact that Yukon Energy Corporation's office and records have been destroyed, cause some apprehension about whether Yukon Energy's management has more than its hands full right now.
Is the minister prepared, in an arm's-length sort of way, to broker an extension of the Yukon electrical management agreement until the capacity that has been destroyed this morning has been rebuilt?
Hon. Mr. Harding: I will take the member's suggestion under advisement. However, I would caution him that the firefighters are still spraying the smouldering ashes with water, as we speak. It is too early at this point, to tell what the impact will be.
I will not put the cart before the House - before this Legislature - that may not or should not be made. I intend to analyze this situation very carefully and then make appropriate, thoughtful, deliberate decisions. And, Mr. Speaker, I look forward to working with the board of the Energy Corporation in terms of those things.
Mr. Cable: Well, speaking of the board of the Energy Corporation, over the last year, we, on this side - and I think I can speak for all the opposition members - sometimes feel like mushrooms in the dark in relation to the energy issues and the handling of energy issues by the government.
Is the minister prepared to ask the Yukon Energy Corporation board chairman and the president to appear before the House to give evidence on the relationship between the two corporations and on the effects of the fire, so that we can get some undistilled opinions and some undistilled comments on what's going on?
Hon. Mr. Harding: I can tell the member opposite that if he feels in the dark on energy issues, perhaps he should participate more fully in all the work that the energy commissioner is doing. He is going to have many workshops and encouraging public debate. I am sure he would welcome more comments from the opposition member and the participation of the Liberal Party, instead of just being confrontational and criticizing us moving ahead the public agenda.
Mr. Speaker, in terms of witnesses before the Legislature for the Energy Corporation, it has been done before. As a matter of fact, I, as the minister, called witnesses before the Legislature in the last sitting, if I remember correctly, so I'll take the member's suggestion under advisement.
Question re: Contracts, sole-sourcing
Ms. Duncan: My question is for the Minister of Government Services.
The minister has awarded in excess of $400,000 elicit contracts - almost half a million dollars - to a Nova Scotia company for development of a land information management system, or LIMS. The first contract to this company was sole sourced for $24,500 - just under the limit that requires a call for public tender on a value-driven contract.
Why did the minister go out of his way to sandbag the efforts of the local hire commission and exclude Yukoners from bidding on this work?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Well, first of all, I'm very interested in the comments of the Liberal Party here on local hire, considering that they not only did not mention jobs or local hire in their last campaign, but as a matter of fact brought in their constitutional guns to ridicule the idea. As a matter of fact, they had such a lack of faith in the literacy ability of Yukoners that they even brought in outside consultants to write their programs, so I don't know what they are talking about.
As far as the LIMS project goes, I mean, I can go on at great length on this one - and I won't - but I can tell the member that we did not actively sandbag, as she so colourfully puts it, the efforts of the Yukon hire commission. This is a project that has been in the works for some four years. We've had three requests for tender. It's been a long, exhausting process, and we have been in touch with my colleague here from the Yukon hire commission on a variety of things that we can do in Government Services on local hire.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, the minister's condescending attitude and remarks about the Liberal Party are not helpful to this debate.
Before NovaLIS was sole sourced this lucrative contract, another outside firm - Monenco Agra Inc. - was given $42,000 to begin work on the LIMS project or to conduct work on the LIMS project. Monenco won their contract through a public tender. After Monenco was told their services were no longer needed, the government sole sourced the work to NovaLIS. Why was the Monenco contract publicly tendered and the NovaLIS contract sole sourced for just under the limit that requires a public tender?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I see where the member has gone off to see that movie Conspiracy Theory, but I'm afraid that really doesn't hold water. In this case, this project had a series of requests for tenders. Monenco Agra did get one of the contracts, which they completed. However, the entire project was tendered - or there was a request for tenders put out, the most recent one being in December 1996 - and early on in this year, we became aware of an off-the-shelf software package which met our needs. It seemed to meet our needs, so we took an active look at it.
For a variety of reasons, which I can provide in greater detail in terms of technical data and a variety of other things, including price, that ended up being this successful company.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, the only thing not holding water in this Legislature is the minister's answers. By handing out contracts worth over half a million dollars, this government has broken one of its fundamental promises to Yukoners, namely a commitment to local hire.
In recent media reports, government services officials have indicated, and I quote: "We're not finished yet." Would the minister tell this House exactly how much money this non-local hire government is planning to give this Nova Scotia company?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I'm shaking here.
Mr. Speaker, first of all, let me just remind the member that, on local hire, the process is not yet finished. We expect that the report will be coming out in December. Until then, we are operating under contract regulations which have existed - I believe last revised in 1995. So, we are. They are doing work. They're going to be bringing forth ideas and suggestions for us to use.
With regard to NovaLIS, the entire project will come in at about $1.9 million, but that is the entire LIMS project. We expect that NovaLIS has received or will be receiving somewhere around, I believe, $898,000. It is somewhere in there. However, I should -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Excuse me. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. However, I should also indicate to the members that this project is an ongoing project. One of the reasons why there was a decision to go with the particular group that we did was because of the Oracle-based technology which had, we feel, some promise for local companies to get involved in as this project stages its way through.
Question re: Old Crow winter road
Mr. Jenkins: My question today is for the Minister of Government Services. It concerns the Yukon government's plan to build a winter road to Old Crow in order to transport building materials for the construction of the new school there.
Earlier, the Government Leader indicated that he was not opposed to the plan by Northern Cross to build a winter road into the northern region of Yukon that would give that company access to its wells, because the proposal was approved by DIAND's environmental screening process.
Subsequently, Northern Cross proposed that the company and the Yukon government cost share part of the construction of this road, as they were both going in the same direction.
I understand now that the Minister of Government Services has rejected that cost-sharing arrangement even though the Vuntut Gwitchin's court challenge has been denied with respect to Northern Cross and their construction of the road.
Would the minister kindly explain why he is taking a position that is opposite to that of the Government Leader?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Mr. Speaker, I don't think there is any incongruity at all. I was very clear in saying that we did not see the two projects as being linked. There is strong - and I suggest extremely strong - support by the people of Old Crow for this road project to transport materials in for the school. However, I believe that it contrasted against the Northern Cross project. There was concern about some of the principles of the Vuntut Gwitchin's agreement. I can't see any contradiction in this at all and, as a matter of fact, we have had a very preliminary discussion with some people who would be interested in also utilizing this road, including the Vuntut Gwitchin, about cost sharing.
Mr. Jenkins: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, but the minister has failed to address the question. We have an oil company going in to re-drill wells in the same area, and the same road could be utilized for two different projects. It would be beneficial to the government coffers to jointly share the cost, let alone the concerns for the environment involved in constructing two roads going in the same direction.
Can the minister tell the House how much this decision to go it alone with the construction of this winter road is going to cost the Yukon taxpayers?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Mr. Speaker, we can't cut out what 12 or 18 kilometres are of this road and say, "This is what we would save if we had shared with Northern Cross," but I can tell you this: we've never, never received a formal proposal from Northern Cross. The report that was quoted in the media, I believe, was by the president of Northern Cross, who speculated on the idea of a shared road.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, the question still remains: is the government going to accept a proposal from Northern Cross to cost share this road? My final supplementary is to the Minister of Renewable Resources. I would like to know if the minister supports the construction of two winter roads into this area of northern Yukon rather than one in view of the environmental impact that two roads would have in this area.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Mr. Speaker, perhaps I could just address some of these concerns. We are in the process right now of trying to get a permit for this road and I can tell the member opposite that we have done extensive research prior to presenting our plan to the federal authorities on this to minimize the environmental impact and, as a matter of fact, we have had some considerable revisions on the original route of the road. The northern crossroad is a loop road; it accesses fields. I believe that there is some contention there about how the process went. I don't see the two roads as being linked at all.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will now proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. Harding: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. government House leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. next Monday.
The House adjourned at 2:49 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled October 30, 1997:
Conflict of Interest Commission First Annual Report (May 1996 - June 1997) (Speaker Bruce)
Ombudsman/Information and Privacy Commission First Annual Report (July 1, 1996 - December 31, 1996) (Speaker Bruce)
Report of the Chief Electoral Officer of the Yukon on the by-election held on April 1, 1997 in Vuntut Gwich'in (Speaker Bruce)
Deductions from the indemnities of Members of the Legislative Assembly made pursuant to subsection 39(6) of the Legislative Assembly Act: Report of the Clerk of the Yukon Legislative Assembly (dated October 30, 1997) (Speaker Bruce)
Framework for discussion on Canadian Unity and Press Release dated September 14, 1997: Premiers agree to consult Canadians on unity (McDonald)
The following document was filed on October 30, 1997:
Anvil Range Mining Corp. News Release dated October 30, 1997, re operations status as a result of the fire at Yukon Energy Corp. (Ostashek)