Tuesday, December 9, 1997 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
We will proceed at this time with prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
Are there any tributes?
Introduction of visitors.
Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
Are there any statements by ministers?
Speaker: Before proceeding to Question Period, the Chair would like to make a statement about questions raised during Question Period yesterday, December 8, 1997.
The questions raised by the Member for Riverdale North contained allegations about the activities of certain other members outside of this House.
This House has a number of precedents for such situations. They include rulings made by the Speaker, Sam Johnston, on April 27, 1992, and May 5, 1992, and by Speaker John Devries on May 4, 1994.
In the ruling of May 5, 1992, Speaker Johnston brought to members' attention a ruling that was made in the House of Commons by Speaker Roland Michener in 1959. Speaker Michener said that simple justice requires that no member should have to submit to an investigation of his conduct by the House or a committee until he has been charged with an offence. The proper procedure for charging a member with an offence is to move a substantive motion containing the charge and a proposal for dealing with it.
For such a motion to be in order, it must charge a member with conduct that amounts to breach of privilege, or which disqualifies a member from sitting in the House, or which amounts to contempt of the House.
Speaker Johnston also said, "Only courts of law make decisions as to whether or not someone has broken the law. It is not the place of members of this House to make such judgments. Allegations or accusations that a member is guilty of breaking the law, therefore, must be viewed as being unparliamentary until such time as a court has reached a verdict finding that the law has been broken or a member has openly admitted to breaking the law.
". . . [T]he Chair would once again ask that members be careful to ensure that they respect the rules concerning parliamentary language and that they be particularly careful about not making allegations or accusations about other members."
Speaker Devries also cited these authorities and Speaker Johnston's decision when he made a statement to the House on May 4, 1994 regarding questioning of the then-Government Leader by the Member for Faro.
Speaker Devries said: "I would also refer the House to Standing Order 19, which states, 'A member shall be called to order by the Speaker if that member (h) imputes false or unavowed motives to another member; (j) uses abusive or insulting language of a nature likely to create disorder.'
"Additionally, guideline 8 of the Guidelines for Oral Question Period states: ' A question must adhere to the proprieties of the House in that it must not contain inferences, impute motives or cast aspersions upon persons within the House or out of it."
The Chair would ask that members obey the directions found in the Speakers' rulings that I have referred to. If a member feels it is necessary to place allegations before the House about another member's actions, it is essential that this be done in the form of a motion containing the charge being made and a proposal for dealing with it. It must be understood that to raise allegations in Question Period will most likely be in violation of the rules respecting parliamentary language and that the member would, consequently, be ruled out of order.
Speaker: This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Salvation Army Red Shield kettle drive
Mr. Jenkins: My question is to the Minister of Health and Social Services.
The war of words between the Yukon Federation of Labour and the Salvation Army is heating up as the YFL is stiffening its boycott against the Salvation Army's Red Shield kettle drive. "No metal in the kettle, 'til they settle," I believe is the YFL slogan.
In view of the fact that the Yukon Federation of Labour is asking this government to put almost $190,000 in their kettle over the next two years, in order, I'm sure, to help fund the next NDP election campaign, with taxpayers' money, certainly the minister must realize the cost of social assistance in his department will rise as a consequence of this Yukon Federation of Labour boycott. Does the minister approve of the action taken by the Yukon Federation of Labour toward the Salvation Army?
Hon. Mr. Harding: As the minister responsible for considering a proposal that was alluded to in the member's question, I would simply say that the number that he identifies has been publicly stated by myself to be not the number that is in question or consideration.
With regard to the activities of the Yukon Federation of Labour, they are an independent organization. They're not an agent of this government, and they are free to pursue ventures as they see fit.
We do not, as a government, always agree with the activities that are undertaken by many different NGOs in this territory, whether they support us or not. However, Mr. Speaker, we make it very clear that our support for them and their organizations are not contingent upon those issues. We want to work for Yukoners.
Mr. Jenkins: Well certainly, Mr. Speaker, that is not working for Yukoners and the number of almost $189,000 - the minister is correct - it's $189,000 and some odd dollars. So, we're talking a very, very small difference from $189,000 to $190,000.
Mr. Speaker, the Salvation Army has made it clear that the Yukon Federation of Labour action is making life miserable for people living on the streets and those Yukoners who need the help the most. Last year the Salvation Army served 7,533 meals here in Whitehorse and the demand this year is expected to be up some 20 percent, thanks in part to the wonderful economic leadership of this government.
Will the Minister of Health and Social Services now accept his responsibilities and tell his political friends in the YFL to cease and desist with its mean-spirited boycott?
Hon. Mr. Harding: There is so much in that preamble I have to speak to. First of all, the numbers that the member talks about are part of an application. This government gets millions and millions and tens of hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of applications a year. What we try and do is sort through that and come up with an appropriate level of funding for the basic, public policy initiatives that we're trying to undertake. No application has been accepted in the parameters that the member talks of.
Secondly, in terms of economic leadership, our government has been providing excellent economic leadership. We simply will not tax and spend our way out of difficulty or unemployment, and drive the territory into a deficit situation, no matter what the Yukon Party asks us to do.
Thirdly, we would not cut off, for example, organizations like the Chamber of Commerce if they criticized us or said something we disagreed with. They are an independent organization; however, it is important at Christmastime that Yukoners are, and continue to be, as they always are, giving people and give to the organizations they feel will help Yukoners at this time of year, when it is important that people pull together and talk to each other in a more kind and gentle tone, as we have been doing in this House over the last couple of days.
Mr. Jenkins: That certainly was a half-hearted condemnation of what the Yukon Federation of Labour is doing. The bottom line is that the cost to the government for social assistance will rise as a consequence of this boycott. In baseball, it's three strikes and you're out. The minister missed the ball when it came to funding for the YES program. He missed the ball again when it came time to provide a shelter for the homeless through the Salvation Army, in spite of NDP campaign promises. Now, the minister is striking out once again by supporting the Yukon Federation of Labour boycott of the Salvation Army's Christmas kettles.
Will the minister advise the House as to when this caring NDP government will do something to help the needy and the homeless, rather than ignoring those groups and organizations that are trying to help these people?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, the Grinch who lives just north of Whoville did not. I felt obliged to answer because the member is clearly somewhat deluded in his rationale. We did not cut off a deal with the Salvation Army, as he has alleged. We were proceeding to work with the Salvation Army, but that was premised upon a particular facility. That facility has not become available; therefore, we felt obliged in this case to put that on hold until we worked out a different plan, where we're going to be bringing forward something very soon. We do have a plan in mind.
With regard to the YFL's Salvation Army issue, I just have to remind the member that the YFL is an independent organization. It does not take marching orders from us; nor do we take marching orders from it. So, their dispute is with the Salvation Army, in this case.
Question re: Contract registry, opposition access
Mr. Jenkins: My question is to the Minister of Government Services. It's been the practice of this House, over the course of the last 15 years, for the government of the day to provide the contract registry, the interim contract registry and individual contracts to the opposition upon their request. This tradition was established through two previous NDP administrations and the Yukon Party administration. Can the Minister explain why he is now breaking with this tradition by refusing to turn over the interim contract registry to the November period?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, once again, the member's response to truth is to make it up as he goes along. The interim contract registry was done once, in 1993. It cost the department hundreds of personnel hours and was simply cost prohibitive, so therefore it was decided that an interim contract registry was not cost effective. The registry that the member suggests is actually an ongoing list of contracts, as they come up, which is public information. Anyone is welcome to go down to contract registry and look it up. We are experimenting in the forthcoming fiscal year with putting all the contracts, as they come up on the list, on to the Web, and then people will be able to access them somewhat more easily.
Mr. Jenkins: This is the height of arrogance by this government. I could table, Mr. Speaker, the interim contract and the contract registry, contracts sorted by department, interim reports - I could go on and on. This NDP campaigned on being an open and accountable government. Now they're hiding things, Mr. Speaker. The contracts reveal the expenditures of public money for which this minister and his government are accountable. As opposition members, it is our job to question the government about these expenditures and keep the government accountable.
The minister is preventing us from doing that, and I want to know why. What is he trying to hide, Mr. Speaker?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Mr. Speaker, I have said before that this is full public information. If the member would, instead of indulging himself in some useless rhetoric, go down and check contract registration he would find that the information is fully there. He's simply beating an empty drum here. He's not willing to do the work, so therefore he wants us to do the work for him.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, if it's readily available, Mr. Speaker, why can't we get it? The news media can obtain copies of contracts. We can go over there and we're given probably the hardest and biggest run-around that you could ever hope to find anywhere in government circles. It's been the practice of all previous Yukon governments that MLAs would request information from ministers rather than going directly to officials in the bureaucracy - up to this point in time, that is. Ministers have always agreed to provide this information.
There is now a fundamental change in how the Yukon government is operated. I would like the minister to advise the House if it is now acceptable for opposition members to go directly to departmental officials, bypassing the ministers, and attempt to obtain information. Is this the new closed-door policy of this government, Mr. Speaker?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Once again, I just have to emphasize that all of this information is public. With regard to the member's allegations - and once again he likes to put his own twist on things - I would suggest that the information is there; it's available for individuals to go and check. In the case of when I've been asked for contracts in this House I've provided them - some 600 pages, I believe on the NovaLIS. I was asked for some further documents from the Member for Riverdale South; I provided those.
My job is not to carry in vast copious amounts of detail. I would suggest that the member there needs to do a little bit of work. I know it's a concept that may be somewhat foreign to him, but I would suggest that he do a little bit of work, go over and check with the contract registry. He mentioned that the media had an easier time; perhaps they just know how to ask.
Question re: Contract registry, opposition access
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the same minister on the same topic. And, speaking about a little bit of work, let me suggest to the minister that he spend a little bit of time reading the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. And, I would refer him to section 14, "If the applicant has asked for a copy of the record under subsections 6(3) and the record can reasonably be produced, a copy of the record or part of the record must be supplied with the response."
Now that's clear. The minister is claiming no privilege on the interim contract registry so there is a clear entitlement in any application to get a copy of the document. And, if we are clearly entitled to the document eventually, what earthly reason is there for not providing a copy now.
The document exists and no hours of work are required to provide a copy to the members on this side.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: The information is public. The listing that we have over at contract registry is available for members to review. There seems to be some sort of concept that all contracts are lodged over in Government Services; that is not the case. The listing we have over there is all government contracts for various departments.
I would suggest that if there are particular contracts that pique the members' interest - and I understand that they did go over and ask for some specific areas - I understand that those pages of the registry of the list were provided for the members. Then I would suggest that if they want to follow up with the respect of the department, they could do that.
Mr. Cable: We don't want to sit over there hour by hour going over the list. What we want is a list on our desk. Now that requires just a few moments of photocopying time by the minister's staff.
Let me read a quote to the minister from Hansard, April 24, 1995. "What this legislation is supposed to do is move us away from bureaucratic, secretive culture to one of openness and accessibility for citizens." That's Mr. Penikett talking about the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
Does the minister believe in this theory, and if he does, why didn't he take up the suggestion from the Member for Porter South yesterday to provide her with a copy of the document for her to photocopy the document herself?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, first of all - thank you, Mr. Speaker - I don't think it's an overly onerous task to go over, sit down, identify the contracts that one is seeking and then request that those particular pages be copied. That was done, I believe, for the members opposite and we're prepared to do it again.
With regard to the legal aspect of what can be available in this regard, I'll certainly check into that. As I said, all the contracts are published annually.
It needs to be understood, however, that the listing that Government Services has is really a list of contracts, some of which are still in progress; some have been completed but not all of them are completed.
Mr. Cable: Just on a point that was made yesterday. The members opposite have been pontificating for the last couple of weeks on the fact that members of the opposition, on this side, were referring to people in the House who couldn't defend themselves. The Member for Lake Laberge went so far as to file a motion to that effect. But yesterday, the Minister of Government Services made some derogatory comments on the Liberal researcher and his place of origin.
So, just so I can help our researcher file his Human Rights Act complaint, would the minister explain what he meant when he said, "We realize, of course, that people coming from Ontario are somewhat touched by the hand of God, but there is a little bit of work out there that needs to be done, too."
Could the minister tell us what he meant by that derogatory comment?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Mr. Speaker, I stand rebuked. If I have offended the individual in question, I certainly apologize for that. I meant no derogatory comments toward the fine citizens of Ontario, of which I was once one.
Of course, I can't say that in good conscience about Mike Harris, but in general, I support the wonderful people from Ontario, and if I have given offence to the individual in question, I apologize.
Question re: Judicial appointments
Mr. Cable: Well, I'm from Ontario too, so I accept the apologies.
Now, I have some questions for the Minister of Justice on her Montreal trip. Yesterday, I asked the minister some questions about a comment she is reported as saying in Montreal. The minister apparently told the Justice ministers conference that judicial appointments should not be based on who you know, but what you believe. And I asked the minister if she was of the opinion that local appointments to the bench have not been based on merit. She suggested to the House that I was trying to lead her down the garden path with tricky questions. But she really didn't answer the question. Much to my surprise, she didn't answer the question.
So, just for the record, I'm asking the minister to explain here in the House what she meant by the statement she made in Montreal. Is she of the opinion that some local judicial appointments have not been made on merit?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I'll thank the member for the question so that I can make it very clear for the record that that is not what I said and that is not what I meant. What I did say, Mr. Speaker - and I stand by what I said - is that the public in general would have more confidence in the justice system if they felt there were a more open process when it comes to the appointment of members of the judiciary.
Many jurisdictions in Canada - in fact I believe all, like the Yukon - have a judicial council which includes lay people. I think it's important that the public does have input, and there was a discussion in Montreal in relation to a more open process for not only local judicial appointments but appointments to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Mr. Cable: Just let us explore that for the moment. The minister today, and previously, said she wanted more public involvement in who was involved in the appointment of judges. She went on to say that most jurisdictions in Canada do have a judicial council with lay people appointed to it. What is the minister going to do to make that happen?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I'm not sure I understand what the member's question was. What am I going to do to make that happen? There is a Yukon Judicial Council now. There are lay people on it. There is also underway an inquiry that Ted Hughes is doing in relation to the courts in relation to the Territorial Court Act. He will be making recommendations based on anyone who wants to speak to him and coming forward with his own recommendations.
I want to open it up for the public to make their suggestions on how they think the system might be improved.
Mr. Cable: From the minister's remarks yesterday, I thought she was going to increase the number of lay people on the Judicial Council. It's pretty well occupied by people from the legal profession now. Does she think, and do her colleagues think, and does she have the support of her colleagues in increasing the lay membership on the Judicial Council?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Speaker, that's one option for consideration, certainly.
I think that the public at large would have more confidence in the justice system if they felt that it were more open in general.
Question re: Map produced by Department of Tourism
Mr. Phillips: My question is for the Minister of Tourism.
I am in receipt of a colourful Yukon First Nations map. It's called the Yukon First Nations Map - The Real Map. I understand it was produced by the Department of Tourism. The concept of the map is a good one and I applaud the department for the initiative, but, unfortunately, the map that I have is somewhat flawed. For example, the minister might be interested in learning that the Alaska Highway around Teslin is on the wrong side of Teslin Lake. Aside from the fact that there's a legend of the highways, where there are dots showing which highway is which, there are no corresponding numbers on the dots identifying the highways.
This is just one of many errors. Many other communities are on the wrong side of the river. Many of the communities are on the wrong river. Fort McPherson is on the other side of the river you have to cross to get to it. I would like to ask the minister if he's had the opportunity to review the map before it was printed.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I can't really, to tell you truth, recall if I reviewed it before it was printed or not. Certainly, the idea and the suggestion, as it came forth from the department and me, is a good idea, and I thank the member opposite for the comment.
Mr. Phillips: I'm surprised that, in regard to a map produced by the Department of Tourism specifically identifying First Nation traditional lands, the minister just heard of the concept but never had a chance to look at the map. I would have thought that the minister would have asked for it.
For the minister's benefit, Mr. Speaker, I do have a copy of the map here, and I'll table that for all members to look at. They will see there are numerous errors on the map. The real map, as it says on the front cover of the folder, is fairly costly, as it's printed in colour and it has its own folder, which, I might add, is also in error.
Can the minister advise the House how many copies have been printed and at what cost? I've heard that they printed about 30,000 copies on the first run. Is that figure correct? Can the minister confirm that?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Speaker, I will have to get the information for the member opposite.
Mr. Phillips: I'm surprised that the Minister of Tourism, a former First Nation leader of one of the First Nation governments, hadn't seen the map at all, and didn't ask for the map to proof it. I also have to wonder whether any First Nations people had an opportunity to proof it, as well, because, like I said, many of the communities are on the wrong side of the river and, in fact, the minister's own community is on the wrong side of the lake.
If they printed 30,000 copies and have to destroy them, Mr. Speaker, this will be extremely costly to the taxpayer. I wonder if the minister could come back to this House with what the cost would be of the first printing of this map, and if the numerous errors have been corrected in the reprinting of a new map.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: The third supplementary is exactly the same as the second supplementary, and I did commit to getting back to the member opposite. I must say that the member opposite, every time he says something, is surprised. I'm absolutely amused at that, because it does seem to be the way that he walks around with his jaw open and looking for certain other things that are not there. Thank you very much.
Question re: Public service, contract negotiations
Ms. Duncan: My question is for the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission.
The negotiations have been going on for some time between the Yukon Government Employees Union and the Yukon government. In fact, the negotiations have been dragging on for months. People working for the Yukon government are anxious about the amount of time it's taking to reach an agreement.
I do appreciate that issues at the negotiating table are between the parties; however, the public deserves an update on these negotiations and a reason why the government has remained silent on this issue to date.
Would the minister provide us with an update on the negotiations?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, Mr. Speaker, the negotiations have taken some time. They haven't been dragging on. There hasn't been a lot of face-to-face work done at the table, simply because of problems arranging dates between the two negotiating parties. Efforts are being stepped up in that direction to try and accommodate each other.
We have been silent on the issue of where the negotiations are simply because we respect the collective bargaining process. We're into it now and we hope to see it through to successful fruition.
We are proud of the fact that we've reinstated collective bargaining in this territory after it was killed by the Yukon Party.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, progress has been described as so slow that time-elapsed photographs would be necessary to detect any movement. The union has also said real bargaining has been stalemated because the government has been immovable on non-monetary issues.
Does the minister have any idea when negotiations might wrap up, or can we look forward to more uncertainty well into 1998?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, Mr. Speaker, I'll just say that we won't bargain like the member opposite's Liberal counterparts who slashed tens of thousands of jobs in the federal public service and rolled back wages and killed collective bargaining at various times.
We will proceed in a thoughtful, deliberate manner. We're going to be mindful of the interests of our employees as well as mindful of the interest of the broader public in terms of the negotiations. That sometimes leads to some discomfort at the table, but I do not intend to bargain on the floor of this House.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, the minister has responded about everybody's bargaining practices and everybody's negotiations but their own, and it's my understanding that the two sides have not met for some time and that the government has told the union that there will be no new negotiations until late January.
Can the minister at least today confirm that there is a date set in January to at least meet at the table?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, Mr. Speaker, it's interesting to hear the member sort of standing up - I guess, it's hard to read whether she's championing the labour cause. She's just recently bashed the Yukon Federation of Labour. She just recently bashed the local hire commission for consideration of any union principles whatsoever, and today she's standing up trying to champion the collective bargaining process. I somehow don't see it by interfering in that process. So, Mr. Speaker, I don't think she has a lot of credibility on this issue.
However, I will say that the issue of trying to conclude negotiations successfully for both parties is high on our priority list and we're trying to step up efforts to do that. We're trying for some dates in December to try and move the process along. However, we do have negotiators from both sides and it is often very difficult to find accommodating schedules. We have to work through those issues and try as hard as we can to conclude them favourably and successfully and with respect for the collective bargaining process, which we have reinstated after it was killed by the Yukon Party.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed.
Notice of opposition private members' business
Mr. Phillips: Pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(7), I'd like to identify the items standing in the name of official opposition be called on Wednesday, December 10, 1997. They are Motion No. 70, standing in the name of the Member for Klondike and Motion No. 22, standing in the name of the Member for Riverdale North.
Ms. Duncan: Pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(7), I would like to identify the item standing in the name of the third party to be called on Wednesday, December 10, 1997. It is Motion No. 84, standing in the name of the Member for Riverside.
Question of privilege
Ms. Duncan: I rise today on a question of privilege. Yesterday in Question Period, I asked the Minister of Government Services to provide a copy of a document that I feel is vital to the performance of my duties as a member of Yukon Legislative Assembly and as the Liberal critic for Government Services. The minister refused and suggested in a manner that was extremely disrespectful of our staff that for "a modicum of effort", I could obtain this information.
Immediately following Question Period, during a short recess of this House, I requested, in person, from contract services, a photocopy of the interim contract registry, the document I had requested from the minister. I was refused.
Speaker: Point of order.
Point of order
Hon. Mr. Harding: Mr. Speaker, I would say that the member opposite's question of privilege is out of order and I would submit to you that, based on a previous ruling with regard to the Member for Kluane, which stated that questions of privilege should be brought to the attention of the House at the earliest opportunity, which was after Question Period yesterday, that you would want to make a similar ruling as you did last year that there was opportunity yesterday. There is no substantive breach of any privilege here whatsoever and that the member had ample time yesterday to raise this question of privilege and, therefore, I would submit that this is unnecessary and out of order.
Speaker: There is no point of order. The member has to choose a question of privilege that the members will respond to. So, there is no point of order.
Member for Porter Creek, please continue.
Question of privilege - continued
Ms. Duncan: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Immediately following Question Period, during a short recess of this House, I requested in person from contract services a photocopy of the interim contract registry, the document that I had requested from the minister. I was refused.
Later that same afternoon, a member of the media requested a copy of the same document. The media individual received what was deemed by the staff to be a reasonable amount of photocopying of the document; namely, 30 pages of the interim contract registry.
Mr. Speaker, the interim contract registry, which is about 112 pages long, currently provides a listing of all contracts issued by the government from April 1, 1997, to November 26, 1997. Reviewing this document provides vital information in terms of the types of contracts - whether sole-sourced, tendered or invitational - the types of services being contracted by individual departments, and, in short, reveals a variety of patterns in government spending. It is an important informational tool in our review of the supplementary estimates and in holding the Government of Yukon accountable for the expenditure of taxpayers' dollars. Tabling the complete document in the House is not without precedent.
The minister was clearly prepared to permit a review of the document by members of the Legislature and their staff within Government Services' offices. This would take several hours and would involve several visits by each member of the Liberal caucus. The media, however, were given 30 photocopied pages of the document to review at their leisure.
In other words, a member of this Legislature could spend time required to be in this House reading the document but could not obtain a complete copy of it to be read outside of the legislative sitting hours.
Beauchesne's definition of privilege states that, "Parliamentary privilege does not go much beyond the right of free speech and the right of a member to discharge his duties in the House as a member."
Section 92 of Beauchesne states that, "A valid claim of privilege in respect to interference with a member must relate to the member's parliamentary duties."
It is my belief that failure to allow members a complete photocopy of the interim contract registry interferes with my ability to fully discharge my duties in this House and, therefore, constitutes a breach of the privileges afforded to me as a member.
Mr. Speaker, I respectfully request your ruling in this regard.
Hon. Mr. Harding: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me to enter into this debate. The Speaker, in this case, has two issues that have to be addressed: was there a prima facie breach of privilege, and did the member raise this issue at the earliest opportunity. I would say, in both counts, there's a failure to establish and to meet that threshold.
The member, as I understand it, did give notice that this was coming, which satisfies one of the criteria, but it doesn't satisfy the two most important elements of whether there's been a question of privilege.
First of all, I'll say, with regard to the prima facie breach of privilege, I've been a member in this House for just five years but, over that time, I know that what the minister has done has been established practice in this Legislature, and it is more the norm to proceed in this manner with the public information - the contract registry - than it is to provide the information as the members have requested.
Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I would say that there has been no breach of privilege and, on that case, the threshold has not been met. I remind the members opposite that information is public.
With regard to whether the issue was raised at the earliest opportunity, I would submit that the member did have an opportunity yesterday to raise this issue after Question Period. I would refer the Speaker to a previous ruling he made with regard to a similar attempt at a question of privilege being raised by the Member for Kluane. The Speaker at that time ruled that the matter was not raised at the earliest opportunity, in my recollection, and, Mr. Speaker, I would say that this is indeed also a case where it was not raised at the earliest opportunity.
For those two reasons, in both cases notice was given, as did the Member for Porter Creek South today. However, that was not seen as sufficient early opportunity. So I would submit to the Speaker that this is entirely consistent with that. There is no prima facie breach of privilege, and there has not been a matter raised at the earliest opportunity. So, therefore, I would submit, humbly, that there is no question of privilege.
Mr. Ostashek: On the point of privilege, I disagree with the Member for Faro that there isn't a point of privilege. I believe there is. But that is a decision that you as Speaker will make, and I am sure that it will be a wise decision.
But I do want to speak to the context of the point of privilege and the information that is being sought by the opposition in this Legislature. And, the Member for Faro is wrong. That information has always been provided when requested by opposition members. And I believe that this is a new approach being taken by the government when they are refusing to table a document that the minister quite clearly stands up and says is public information, but he thinks the opposition should be using their time to be going through it and have to go through the bureaucracy at great inconvenience and no cooperation.
There has always been an agreement between parties that information would be requested through the minister who is supposed to be the head of that department, in charge of the political arm of that department, and should be providing it to members of this House.
Mr. Speaker, two previous NDP governments in the past and the Yukon Party government in the past, have provided the information when it was requested by the opposition. They have not withheld it.
Ministers are accountable for their expenditures, as the Member for Riverdale South said. It is information that we need to do our job, and I believe that this government could have expedited this a long time ago and not got in this great debate in this Legislature about whether they will or will not table it because this one they are not going to win in this Legislature and they are not going to win in the court of public opinion.
Mr. Speaker, I believe the request is a reasonable one by the Member for Riverdale South and I urge you to rule accordingly.
Speaker: The Chair wishes to thank members for their assistance.
The Chair will take the matter under advisement and provide a ruling on the next sitting day.
We will now proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. Harding: Mr. Speaker, I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Is it members' wish to take a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: Fifteen minutes.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Committee will be dealing with Bill No. 8, Second Appropriation Act, 1997-98. We are on the Yukon Housing Corporation capital expenditures, line item staff housing renovation and rehabilitation, existing stock.
Bill No. 8 - Second Appropriation Act, 1997-98 - continued
Yukon Housing Corporation - continued
On Capital Expenditures - continued
On Staff Housing - continued
On Renovation and Rehabilitation Existing Stock - continued
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, on three separate occasions yesterday, the minister who is reporting for this department said that he would come forward with some information on the line item for $56,000. I wonder if that information is available.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Well, the information that I have, Mr. Chair, is the information I gave the member last night. The $56,000 was transferred to the Department of Health and Social Services budget and taken out of staff housing renovation and rehabilitation. Health and Social Services wanted to use that funding to provide for a contribution to the Signpost Seniors Society in Watson Lake. That's the information we have.
I did ask the Housing Corporation to scour around between last night and all this morning, trying to figure out what might be an issue here, and they've not had any success.
They've done a fair amount of work to respond to what they were trying to figure out was the concern. They have determined that CMHC has had no involvement with the Signpost Seniors Society recently. Health Canada provided Signpost Seniors with some funding.
This is not, in any case, a Yukon Housing Corporation initiative. They just simply are spending less on this particular line item than they otherwise would.
The money that the member can explore with the Minister of Health and Social Services was given by the government, through Health and Social Services, to the Signpost Seniors Society for services. I don't believe that there was any transfer of personnel associated with this. I don't know that much more about the issue in terms of the mechanics of the handling of the payment.
Mrs. Edelman: Perhaps I'm a little unclear. I did manage to get a very brief briefing from the department on the supplemental budget. It was at that point that I was led to believe that the money for this line for staff housing came from CMHC. That's where I am perhaps a little unclear.
It really doesn't matter to me that it has gone to Health and Social Services. What matters to me is that the money originally came from CMHC and that the federal funding is being used in a way that was not originally intended. That was what my point was and I think I still need to have a little bit of clarity on that issue.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Well, Mr. Chair, I don't know - no one knows - where the suggestion came from with respect to the funding for Yukon government staff housing coming from CMHC. As far as I'm aware, CMHC is not involved at all.
Mr. Jenkins: I guess, Mr. Chair, what attracts our attention to this money is the unusual way in which it was handled. If there's a requirement for funding in Health and Social Services, in that branch, and there are funds that are not needed in Yukon Housing Corporation, they are usually lapsed and they are reallocated or revoted in the other department.
It gives rise to suspicion that something is being done in a different manner when it is indeed done in a different manner. The Government Leader has to admit it is a very unusual type of transaction.
Now, why did it occur? Why didn't the money go directly from Health Canada to the department responsible for spending it? Why did it have to be run through the Yukon Housing Corporation, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Well, I don't know where Health Canada comes into it, Mr. Chair. Health Canada is not providing the funding to Signpost Seniors; the Department of Health and Social Services is.
The member says that this is a very unusual way of making changes to the line items in budgets. I've seen this sort of change made many, many times for many, many years. Where there is a clear desire to make a change in priority in particular areas, this has been done in the past.
I don't see where the member has a point to make with respect to precedent setting. The precedent has been set, and it was probably set long before I even reached the Legislature.
In any case, Health Canada's not involved, as far as I'm aware, and CMHC is not involved. I don't know that the federal government's at all involved.
Mr. Jenkins: Can the minister point out other areas of this budget where this method of fund transfer was used? He's the Minister of Finance - the Government Leader. Certainly he would be aware of other items in this appropriation where this method was utilized.
I'm not aware of any, Mr. Chair. Perhaps the Government Leader can enlighten us.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Well, there are two in this department alone, in this supplementary, aside from this one. The residential energy management program (REMP) and commercial energy management program (CEMP), from the Yukon Development Corporation, are both examples. If the member wants me to demonstrate more, I'm certain we could come back with more examples, both in the supplementary alone and in other budgets.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, those items are easily understood, and the background and justification for them are well-laid out and well-documented. With the case of the Signpost Seniors, it is not so evident as to the reasons and the backgrounds and the flow of the funds, and that gives rise to concerns.
The Government Leader's assurances that Health Canada and CMHC are not funding and it's not something to circumvent their terms and conditions on funds that are supplied to the Government of Yukon are reassuring, if that is indeed the case.
Could the minister confirm that we're not just moving funds over from the federal government, not just these two specific departments from other federally funded projects or programs and they're not just flowing through the Yukon Housing Corporation to the Gateway project in Watson Lake?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Well, Mr. Chair, I can't make it any clearer. There's no way I can make it any clearer. The federal government is not involved. If one wants to make a real stretch of it, the federal government funds the Yukon government to the tune of about 70 percent of its overall expenditures. In that respect, the federal government is involved but, apart from that, the federal government is not involved - not CMHC, not Health Canada, not the Department of Environment. No department that I know of is involved. I have asked the Housing Corporation if they're involved; they're not involved.
Renovation and Rehabilitation Existing Stock in the amount of an underexpenditure of $56,000 agreed to
On Construction/ Acquisition
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will repeat from last night, Mr. Chair, they were transferred from another section of the Housing Corporation toward the Old Crow duplexes.
Construction/Acquisition in the amount of $115,000 agreed to
On Central Services
On Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There are two items here that comprise the $138,000. The first is $53,000 to support the mobile home strategy, and that is PC's and furniture for the people delivering the program, and the second is the implementation of business systems for the Housing Corporation. And, this is in response to the Auditor General's recommendation regarding the reliability of the existing systems, and also readying their computing systems for the year 2000.
Mr. Jenkins: The mobile home strategy - this supp indicates to me that we spent a total of $856,000 through the various line items. Could the minister confirm that sum? This is just on the capital side, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There are expenditures supporting the mobile-home strategy that are also existing in the various components of the existing programming. So, those elements would also be considered part of the mobile home strategy.
Mr. Jenkins: Thank you very much, but if one does a review of what the Government Leader has just spoken of, under central services there is $53,000, under mobile home strategy there's another $453,000 and of the home ownership component the Government Leader indicated that, of the $750,000, $350,000 of it was utilized for the mobile home strategy. That comes to $856,000 on the capital side of this undertaking, Mr. Chair.
Could the Government Leader confirm that, and how many other dollars would the mobile home strategy be costing throughout the program?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: First of all, Mr. Chair, under the home repair program, $125,000 has been allocated toward the mobile home strategy. Under the home ownership program, $350,000 has been allocated toward the mobile home strategy. The mobile home strategy, in terms of its specific line item, you can see the total is $453,000, and on top of that there are the systems, which are also incorporated into that, which would be $53,000, so it would be a total of $453,000, $125,000, $350,000 and $53,000 on the capital side.
Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space in the amount of $138,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on the recoveries?
Mr. Jenkins: How are the recoveries on staff housing explained, Mr. Chair? Construction/Acquisition, is that disposal of staff accommodation?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No, this is the reference from the transfer from the joint venture program and will support the construction costs of the Old Crow units that I mentioned before.
Capital Expenditures for Yukon Housing Corporation in the amount of nil agreed to
Yukon Housing Corporation agreed to
Department of Economic Development
Hon. Mr. Harding: The O&M budget shows an increase of $1,350,000. That's a $1.5-million loan to Yukon Energy Corporation and a variety of internal reallocations and reductions. The loan to Yukon Energy Corporation is 100-percent recoverable, and the recoveries budget is increased accordingly.
The capital supplementary is showing an increase of $1,435,000. The primary reason for this is an increase in the revote for the CAP. There are two initiatives in the capital supplementary - the Taylor House purchase and the Info Point 2000 project - which contribute funding to Total Point to develop manufacturing test market FM transmitters for use in remote locations.
I'm open to answering any questions in general debate.
Mr. Cable: I have a number of questions about Anvil Range and, in particular, on the $1.5-million loan receivable.
Let me just start with a general policy question. The minister has had conversations, I believe, with the chair of the Energy Corporation Board, as I have. One of the conclusions that I have reached, both from the conversations and from the past, is that the risk associated with the Anvil Range Mining Corporation going on and off the grid is very difficult for the Energy Corporation to handle and, in my view, one option to handling that risk is to put the risk in the minister's department, Economic Development.
That would mean that the movement up and down in the rates would be absorbed in a budget which is of the order of $450 million, rather than through the sales of electricity, which approximate something like $30 million.
I think the minister last week indicated the difficulty in living up to the election promise of stabilizing rates. He indicated that stabilization of rates, of course, was different from rate relief.
Let me suggest to the minister that he consider removing that risk from the Energy Corporation and, in some fashion, taking it into the government, so that the Energy Corporation, as a corporation, becomes manageable. They can start to plan without this huge spectre of Anvil going off and on the grid, that the capacity that has to stand by for Anvil Range, the risk associated with that and the risk of any new capacity that may have to be put on the grid to accommodate the Anvil Range Mining Corporation, be absorbed by the government rather than the Energy Corporation.
Is the minister prepared to look at that approach to handling this very significant risk?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Yes, as a matter of fact, we are, to some degree. However, it's a very difficult issue. The member implies that you're spreading the risk from essentially $30 million in revenue to $450 million, in terms of the budgets of the YEC versus the budgets of the YTG.
In reality, though, that's not the case. The level of disposable income to absorb risk, i.e., money that's not already committed in that $450 million to health care and education and roads and highways - everything that's in the budgets - is that there's very little left to absorb the massive rate shock.
The principle of the ratepayers absorbing the shock is that those who are the biggest users pay the bigger increase, and there's some merit to that approach. I think - and I'm speculating, and the member will probably put out a press release on it - that there is an opportunity to consider the idea to look at some kind of mesh and to lessen the risk. There's an opportunity within YEC to look at rate stabilization initiatives. I think it's something that should be considered.
It's often an issue that's overlooked until there's a reduction of your major customer, and then it's too late. Often the amounts that are required to offset the shock are, as the member knows, huge.
So, does the proposal have some merit, as I've discussed with Mr. Wells? Yes. Does it have much difficulty? Yes. Are we looking at it? Yes. Will we consider it? Yes.
In terms of the Cabinet Commission on Energy, they're also doing some policy work surrounding rate stabilization initiatives, and that's part of the package that they'll be making recommendations on.
I've had those discussions. One of things, though, that does sometimes bother me about a regulated utility is that, whereas they talk about making so-called business decisions, they don't always make business decisions like normal private sector businesses because they operate in a monopolistic, regulated system. Often in the private sector, businesses are willing to extend credit, to renegotiate arrears, to try to make arrangements to stay in the business in the hopes of recouping their monies. However, with a regulated utility, they always know they can go to the ratepayers for that money if they don't collect it. So, it's something that I think exacerbates the difference between the private sector versus the regulated, monopolistic utility.
So, I guess the answer to the member's question is, I think it's a reasonable idea. I think it's worth looking into. We are looking into it and I hope that we can come up with something that meets the member's approval. If there's any money paid out by the taxpayer, I'm sure he'll stand up and say it was a good move.
Mr. Cable: Let me suggest to the minister that he whisper in the ear of the energy commissioner the word "deregulation", if in fact he likes the private sector approach.
I'm pleased to hear that he's considering the absorption of risk by the taxpayer as opposed to the ratepayer. I'm not suggesting that it's easy for the taxpayer to absorb it, but I am suggesting that, in many cases, the taxpayer and the ratepayer are one and the same person, so that there's a lot more cushion in $450 million than there is in $30-million worth of sales. It's a lot easier for the Cabinet to make decisions on risk absorption than it is for the Yukon Energy Corporation management to try to put their finger in the dike after Anvil Range goes off the grid.
So, I'm pleased to hear that the minister is considering this. I won't put out a press release, but he and I together can pass along Hansard to Mr. Wells. It may give him some confidence with all the things that are happening with the Energy Corporation right at the moment.
I'd like to ask the minister some questions about this Anvil Range loan. It was my understanding that the money that was owed to the Energy Corporation - I think it was nearly $3 million - was secured by a miners lien under the Yukon Miners Lien Act and that these miners liens, at the time, before the contract with Anvil Range Mining Corporation was entered into by the government, were first charges on the claims. Is my information correct?
Hon. Mr. Harding: YEC was first in and first to file a miners lien.
Mr. Cable: Okay, that's useful to know, but were they first charges on the claims? Is the minister aware of that? Was there anybody ahead of them on the claims?
Hon. Mr. Harding: It's not my belief that there was. I think the member's right that they had first charge.
Mr. Cable: The minister wrote a letter to the Yukon News; it was published on August 22, 1997, and he was castigating the editorial staff at the Yukon News. He had a whole bunch of points in the letter - most of them were right, actually; let me start off with acknowledging that - but one of the points he was making was point number 6 in his letter. It says, "The Yukon Energy Corporation is not the final creditor on the miners lien against Anvil Range. YEC agreed to assume the second creditor position, behind Cominco, with the arrangement of the $1.5-million loan to keep Anvil Range out of receivership and reduce the revenue shortfalls and rate increases on residential consumers."
Now, that's not totally accurate. I think the minister must have mis-appreciated the situation. Before the agreement got into place, I would assume that the Yukon Energy Corporation was, in fact, the first creditor in line, together with all the other miners lien claimants.
Could he confirm that again?
Hon. Mr. Harding: My understanding is that YEC, with the action of filing the first miners lien, had the first charge. Subsequent to that, we reached an arrangement with Cominco that allowed Faro to get back on the grid to start to contribute toward 1997 final rates. Otherwise, we would have had another massive rate increase this fall, and that was not something that I wanted to go through this session dealing with - as I did last session.
Some Hon. Member: (inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Harding: Yes, the leader of the official opposition says, "Save it for spring." Well, I hope the Faro mine continues to operate. He may not, but I certainly do.
So, we subordinated, both us and YEC, to Cominco.
Mr. Cable: Well, that's what troubles me. What we had was good security. What we've got now is second-place, several million dollars down the road.
Let me ask the minister some questions on this agreement of August 7 between the parties. Does the minister have the agreement in front of him or does his deputy have it in front of him?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Cable: The minister says he has the agreement. I refer him to section 4, the payment of the Yukon debt. It talks about the first installment on the Yukon debt. That's the first installment of nine payments of $166,666.66. It will be made on the day that is 120 days after Anvil's first commercial shipment of concentrate from its Faro mine site.
Then, later on in that same paragraph, it defines the first commercial shipment of concentrate. It means the date of the bill of lading for the first shipment of concentrate from the Faro mine site to Skagway, Alaska, after the date of this agreement.
I gather there has, in fact, been a shipment of concentrate from the Faro mine site. Is the minister aware of that? When did the 120 days start to run?
Hon. Mr. Harding: It starts on the basis of the first shipment not from the mine, but out of Skagway - the first boat. That's when the clock starts to tick, is my understanding.
I want to go back to what the member said, that we had good security and he's concerned about that. I just want to tell the member that the mine was down for a considerable period of time. Anvil Range was basically on the verge of bankruptcy and very, very seriously so. Had they entered into bankruptcy, obviously we would have seen a number of things happen - a continued 15-percent to 17-percent unemployment and a massive rate increase for the 1997 shortfall.
Cominco was expected to participate in equity, but didn't, for many, many months. In case anyone thought they were bluffing, the mine stayed down through the entire period when the price of zinc reached some 78 cents per pound.
They made it a condition of their participation that their $15 million, which restarted the stripping program, would have to have first charge. We acquiesced. We had to make a judgment call. We felt it was the only call to the benefit of Yukoners to try and ensure that rates don't go up. It was part of the negotiation and it actually paved the way for that investment and the restart of the mine.
Yes, we have less security than we did before, but I felt that it was something and the government felt it was something that had to be done.
Mr. Cable: I'd like to make the point, Mr. Chair, that I'm not critical of the minister's efforts to get the mine restarted. I think he has been spending a lot of energy on the project and he is to be complimented, but I would like to make the point that we now have security, which, in my view anyway, is virtually worthless. We'd have to pay out the first charge, which is many, many millions of dollars, before we could realize on the miners lien. So, I don't think that we should be under any illusion that we have any real security.
But, just to go back to the first question I was asking, when does the minister anticipate that the 120-day payment date is going to start to run? When does he anticipate that the first shipment out of Skagway will take place?
Hon. Mr. Harding: The CEO of Anvil is expecting a shipment in December and it will start after that first shipment is made. They will be successive payments of 30, 60, 90 days to Yukon Energy Corporation, then the payments will kick in to YTG. He's expecting in December. They are hoping for mid-December for their first shipment - as soon as possible. Right now they have an arrangement with Glencore that they get the money for the product as it hits Skagway, so that it allows them to pay some bills. They are still not in any great shape, and I don't think their recently announced results would indicate to the general public any more than that. They are working through it, but the Glencore arrangement does provide some relief, as it does provide cashflow, but it did come with a price.
Mr. Cable: Okay, so this receivable that is shown in the recoveries, we don't anticipate that there will be any money on that receivable shown in this fiscal year. Is that right?
Hon. Mr. Harding: It would be highly unlikely unless there is a shipment right away in December, which would -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Harding: The leader of the official opposition said, "The first of first of April." I'll check with Anvil.
To Yukon Energy Corporation, we expect monies in the fourth month. The member is correct; we will be outside of March 31, thus the end of this fiscal year.
Mr. Cable: So, the deficit then should in fact really reflect another $1.5 million. We're not anticipating payment of the $1.5 million. Am I on the right track?
Hon. Mr. Harding: I will ask the Finance minister and the deputy minister of Finance if that is indeed the case.
Mr. Cable: Speaking about the Yukon Energy Corporation debt, described as section 5 of this agreement, the question was asked of the minister, I think, by the leader of the official opposition a few days ago: are all payments up to date under that section of the agreement, and all payments on current usage of electricity?
Are they all up to date?
Hon. Mr. Harding: My understanding is that they are.
Mr. Cable: Now, the $5 million that was loaned by Cominco recently to Anvil Range Mining Corporation - where does that sit in this agreement? It doesn't appear to fit readily in my reading of it. Does that money also take priority over the miners lien?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Yes, Mr. Chair, that money does take priority. So, we're subordinated to the tune of $20 million.
The member is correct. It's not as good a security as Yukon Energy Corporation initially had. However, the purchase price of the mine in 1994 was some $27 million. There is potential for some security. However, it's not as good as it was.
Mr. Cable: Let me make this point to the minister. Cominco, with sales at $1.5 billion, I think, and profits of over $100 million makes a loan of $5 million to a company that, I think, it controls. I don't think it's majority shareholder, but I think it controls it. And it says - by my reading of this press release from Anvil Range Mining Corporation - that the new $5-million loan has a maturity value of $7 million, and I think the loan is callable, if I read this document correctly. I haven't seen the security documents, so correct me if I'm wrong, but it's callable on or after March 15, 1998.
So, here we have this multi-million dollar corporation lending money to a company that it controls. It's going to lift $2 million for four or five months' worth of effort, and if you sit down and calculate that, that comes out to 127-percent interest. And here we have the minister sweating blood trying to get this thing going for his constituents, and we have this multi-million dollar corporation raiding the treasury for 127-percent interest. How did we let that get ahead of our miners lien?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, I think the short answer is impending bankruptcy by Anvil Range. The company that the member refers to, Cominco, has considerable clout. They have put some $30 million into the project in equity and in loans, probably more than that now, so I certainly can't discount their investment. They didn't have to do that.
I understand what the member is saying, don't get me wrong. I don't like it any better than the member does and it was with considerable difficulty that we initially subordinated and that we subordinated the second time. But, by the same token, no Cominco loan, no Faro mine, higher power, higher unemployment. So those are the types of choices you have to make.
There have been, and I should tell the member, many requests for things from Cominco and others that have not been acquiesced to. They don't end up in the media. However, we try and find out what is do-able, what is reasonable, and try and deal with it.
I understand fully that Cominco's resources are much greater than the Yukon government's. However, we have to try and balance that out with acting in the overall general public good, and it's not just my constituents; it's the entire territory that is affected, and I know there's lots of debate about that in the Yukon. And Faro is not the most beloved community in the territory by some in some corners because of our reliance and dependence on it, but it is important and it does help a lot of Yukoners.
I'm not telling the member anything he doesn't know. I'm just saying, in terms of negotiating with Cominco, it has been difficult. They do control the strings, as does Glencore now for Anvil Range, to a large degree. I've met with the CEO, David Thompson, on two occasions. I've talked to him about a number of issues and tried to express to him how important it is to the Yukon economy, what my constraints are in terms of trying to find acceptable arrangements to keep this economic engine running, and also, I've tried to express to him, not only our concern if they wouldn't invest and what that might mean for the future of the territory, but also to thank the company for the $30-plus million they have put in, which has kept a lot of people working and power rates down - not as low as I'd like to see them but certainly we're not up in the stratosphere.
Mr. Cable: Let me suggest to the minister that he not thank them for lifting two million bucks out of their working capital at a time when they desperately need it.
Now, the agreement that I've got - the agreement of August 7, 1997 - doesn't appear to provide for a subordination for the second $5 million. Is there a subsequent agreement?
Hon. Mr. Harding: That arrangement was reached in the twelfth hour. Anvil Range was essentially to the point where a CCAA was necessary. I was involved to a degree. There were some rumblings about what role the government might play in terms of this arrangement. I felt that Cominco was in for a penny, so they should be in for a pound, and I took that position.
When it finally closed, what happened was the offer for the $5 million from Cominco came with a request for a subordination from the Yukon government. It took a couple of days, but I finally went through caucus and Cabinet and secured that. All it was was a letter. The legal agreement will have to be drafted up. We gave them a commitment of a one-paragraph letter saying we would agree to further subordinate if they gave the $5 million to provide the cash injection.
At that time, the mill was on a what was referred to in the media as a test run, and it probably would have had to shut down if that money wouldn't have been injected and they reached a deal with Glencore.
But it was twelfth hour stuff, and all there is is a letter right now. The legal document isn't even done yet.
Mr. Cable: Could the minister provide the opposition with a copy of that letter just so we have all the documents? We have the first agreement.
Hon. Mr. Harding: Yes, I don't expect any commercial confidence, so I will do everything in my power to get it to the member.
Mr. Cable: Now, the original agreement of August 7 calls for the provision of financial statements by Anvil on the thirtieth day of each month. It calls for that company to provide both Yukon Energy Corporation and the Government of Yukon with monthly financial statements. Has that, in fact, been done on a regular basis?
Hon. Mr. Harding: I'll have to check on that. We have been provided information whenever we requested it. The member will realize, when I read out my estimates. We had a $5,000 due diligence done by a reputable accounting firm, who's basically on retainer to provide us information as it's required.
Mr. Cable: Now the agreement anticipated a term loan of $15 million, which the minister's talked about previously - the term loan to Cominco. It also talked about an operating line of credit later on, which I assume it was originally anticipated would come from the bank. It talks about it in the subordination agreement, that the Energy Corporation will postpone to the operating line of credit. I think it was $30 million. Oh, the operating line - $35 million. Was that what was originally anticipated, that there would be an operating line of credit in the amount of $35 million?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Yes, that was the previous arrangement Anvil had with the Toronto Dominion Bank. All that was technically in place. The equity that has been so much talked about, the famous $25 million to $30 million they needed, was virtually pulled together by RBC Dominion Securities. There was essentially an agreement in principle with the TD to come back in, but one key investor - who I won't name - refused to participate in the equity, and the house of cards was built on the basis that they would. It didn't come together. Hence the $5-million loan and the scrambling arrangement with Glencore and our $5-million lien subordination.
Mr. Cable: Well, it appears originally that somebody thought they needed a total of $50 million to get this thing going - some cash in the amount of $15 million, plus an operating line of credit of $35 million. Now what we've got, I believe, is the $15-million term loan plus another $5 million in cash to keep them going for the next few months, which means there's a shortfall in what was originally anticipated in the amount of $30 million.
Is the minister of the view that there's enough cash in this corporation to keep it going and to make for payment of the debt to the government and the Yukon Energy Corporation?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, the alternate arrangement that I just mentioned to the member with Glencore does provide some relief, because the payment is upon receipt of the concentrates at the dock. The cashflow requirement that was originally intended is not necessarily needed.
Am I confident? Mr. Chair, I would like nothing more than to see the price of zinc at 65 cents; however, it isn't. All I know is that they're working hard. I've been doing what I can without handing over the Yukon. I think a private sector solution is what's provided the $20 million from Cominco and the $9-million equity injection and the Glencore arrangement. We've tried to facilitate where we can. We're still working with them on energy cost savings. There's no doubt in my mind that they would like to see a 70-percent cost of service for their energy, but that's not in the stars.
I've been doing whatever I can to try to find ways to assist and still be mindful of the overall public policy perspectives that I have to consider.
Mr. Ostashek: I want to get into this debate. I just want to follow up on the Anvil situation, because I think it's very important to Yukoners. I want to say, Mr. Chair, from the outset, that I'm not criticizing the minister for trying to get the mine operating again, but I am going to be somewhat critical and caution the minister, so that he's not involved in building another house of cards here. While I appreciate that we all would like to see the mine operating, I, for one, along with many, many Yukoners, don't have much faith that the company is well-financed enough to be able to survive the price of zinc, as the member just mentioned. I would feel quite comfortable, too, if the price of zinc were 65 cents.
When we look at the year and a half, or whatever it is, since this new company took over that deposit, I believe that when they took over, the average price of zinc and lead, combined, was about 80 or 81 cents - 41 cents for zinc and an average price of 35 cents for lead. Today, we have zinc at about 53 cents and lead at, I think the last time I looked, about 24 cents. I know that's not the exact mix, because they do produce more of one concentrate than the other, but I'm just trying to get a ball-park figure of what we're faced with and what the minister is faced with here.
And what I'm concerned about is that we don't get into the same situation as we did with Curragh Resources, where the taxpayers of the Yukon advanced them $5 million for a very short-term gain - a matter of months before they were back at the government offices looking for substantially more money. And when I watch what's happening with the Anvil Range situation and having the background in the operation of that facility in the four years that I was on the opposite side of this Legislature, I'm just concerned that we don't get too far down this path of trying, at all cost, to make this operation work, and yet, in the end, having a bigger deflation for all Yukoners, because every time that mine goes down it loses more and more credibility with Yukoners as a whole. And I think the member opposite is aware of that fact. He alluded to it earlier in his comments.
I appreciate what he's trying to do, and as a politician and as a member of government, he doesn't want to see that operation go down any more than anyone of us in this House does. But at some time somebody's going to have to bite the bullet. Let's hope that it does operate.
But having said all that, Mr. Chair, I want the minister to remain cognizant of the fact that we're talking about a mine that has a very short mine life unless there's a major injection of capital for further exploration. And while Cominco is a very well-operated company, and, as my colleague has said, is a company that's in business to make money, they also look after their shareholders and are not hesitant about putting an operation down that isn't profitable.
So I get concerned when a company of that size and magnitude is basically calling the shots in this operation now, when they have something like 30 percent of the world's zinc market and have mines operating around the world that are far lower cost producers than Anvil Range is.
So, I just ask that the minister remain cognizant of that and that we don't continue to grasp at straws.
The security we have, as the minister has said, is very, very slim. If we get out there any further, our hopes of recovering it, if we ever do recover it, is a long way down the road - such as the situation with Curragh Resources where we are still trying to recover some monies, some four years after the company is out of business. I know that the position the minister is in is not an easy one.
I would just like to ask the minister, does he believe that, with the arrangements that are made now, the company has sufficient cashflow to get past March when the advance from Glencore will run out, I believe - that there are no new arrangements after that, but there may be some negotiated - that they're going to have the cashflow to be able to meet their financial obligations and to continue keeping the mine operating if the price of zinc and lead doesn't move from where it's at today?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, the member said a lot so I'm going to have to respond before I answer the specific question.
I find with the member that I get this untenable request from him. On the one hand, it's, "Do something about unemployment, do something about power rates, but don't help Faro." The member knows full well - all politics aside - that it's difficult in this territory to accomplish both of those requests from the member, particularly when the mine has been operating, was operating, and reopened back in 1994.
The member ought not to be worried about the farm being sold. I think we have demonstrated, as a government in the face of full frontal assaults on this government from the former CEO, Mr. Forgaard, for concessions on bulk haulage fees, 80 percent cost of service. I said, "No." The member opposite was in a similar position when $2.4 million was lent by his government to Clifford Frame and Curragh Resources, to YEC, on a similar power arrears issue.
That's $2.4 million - the amount that we lent to YEC to cover those arrears. And I'll tell the member, in a worst case scenario, that $1.5 million is taxpayers' money going to protect the ratepayers, because either the taxpayers would have paid for the arrears, or the ratepayers.
In this case, we chose to try and keep Anvil off bankruptcy or out of CCAA and give them a chance to pay ratepayers back, and taxpayers. Otherwise, we would have had to make up the payment anyway. And, I know the member knows that.
As the member has said, there is this progression that he is worried about. Well, look at what we have done. We have invested in training with the largest private sector employer in the territory. Only a small fraction of that money has been actually advanced because of the arrears issue - I think about $150,000; we are looking at a geoscience program with our geoscience people that is trying to help increase the life of the mine and using some of our resources to help in that respect because it has been such a good engine for this territory. We have participated in trying to find ways, at no expense to other Yukon ratepayers, to cut their energy costs. We have lent $1.5 million to Yukon Energy Corporation to pay off a portion of their arrears which had Anvil going to CCAA would have been recouped from the ratepayers, and given them a chance to pay us back. That's what we've done.
The member is quite right; Cominco and some of these other big organizations have significant power, but I want to tell the member that they have asked for much more than they have received. And, I have been diligent in trying to consider my overall, public responsibilities with requests from big corporations. And, to their credit - although I won't give them any credit for the deal they reached on the $5-million loan - according to the Member for Riverside, they have pumped $30 million bucks into the Yukon economy. I did not want to slap them in the face and say that that is not welcome. That's a mining company investing money in this territory. I see a future with Cominco - I hope they see it, too - and a good relationship where the Yukon government - and, I'm speaking generically - isn't continuously having a gun put to their head.
And, I see a future with Kudz Ze Kayah and the Sa Dena Hes; those reserves down there are tremendous. But, we are a small government - smaller than Cominco, as a matter of fact - as the members know, and we have to consider what we can do responsibly to deal with the fact that they are so large. They have huge expectations of what we could do and what we can actually deliver and deliver responsibly.
The member mentioned the $5-million loan to Curragh, which was supported by all members of this House. The member is quite right; that was one of the few monies, along with the $2.4 million that wasn't recovered until some lengthy court case. I would say that, however, if you were looking at it from a private sector perspective, if you could take that $5 million and turn it into $300 million in annual revenue a year for seven years, that's a pretty good arrangement even though we did lose some.
I would like to have gotten it all back, believe you me, but economically speaking it was quite a winner, if you look at the numbers and the generation to the economy, and that's why I think members supported it at the time in this House on both sides.
The member's specific question was, do I think the company has significant cashflow, or enough cashflow? In the absence of a new equity arrangement, and in the absence of a continuation of the existing deal or a bank stepping in with some kind of an extensive line of credit, I don't believe they have sufficient cashflow.
So, we're month by month and, sometimes, quarter to quarter, but they are, and we are, and we have, working with them, tried to bring this one through.
Mr. Ostashek: The minister need not get defensive. I'm not criticizing him for what he's done. I'm just laying out what we see from this side. We need not go back and rehash history over the $5-million loan, but if the minister opposite is trying to say to the people of Yukon that's all that the Government of Yukon contributed in seven and a half years to Anvil Range, well he's wrong; he's very wrong. There were millions and millions of dollars contributed and other arrangements. It was more than just a $5-million loan in the last few months that kept them going.
As far as, you know, throwing back at us the $2.4 million we gave them for power, he's absolutely right. The ratepayers of the Yukon would have had to pay it if we didn't give it, just as with his $1.5 million. But, I'm just saying to the minister, where does it stop?
I want to ask the minister this: have they had an outside mining consulting firm look at this property and the viability of it, as we did before we turned Curragh down for the loan for $30 million? What is he basing his information on? Has he had a consultant look at this - mining experts look at it - and give him their critique of the feasibility and viability of this project and at what price zinc they would require to make it feasible? Has the minister done that?
Hon. Mr. Harding: We've looked at their books and I told the member that. We haven't been asked for the amount of money that the member opposite was. The loan on the rate was essentially a no-brainer in terms of the protection of the ratepayers. So, we didn't do a $120,000 due diligence, which is what I think is what the member spent on Burns Fry. I think it was cost shared by the federal government.
However, Strathcona Minerals, which as the member probably knows did the Bre-X analysis - of that big Indonesian salt mine - and they have concluded a report. We haven't seen it, but we haven't asked for it, and the reason is that the company hasn't come to us to ask for any more cost-of-service breaks.
We're participating with them on the premise that they are a large customers of YEC, and as a large customer, and as any other customer, we're prepared to cooperate with them to find savings as long as they're prepared to pay their fair share for power, which they would argue they paid more than. And others in the territory would argue they don't.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, I thank the minister for that and I'm not going to go on forever in the supplementary budget on any particular issue. I just need to highlight a few issues that I believe need to be highlighted. Just on the analysis that was done by Strathcona, was that at the request of Anvil Range? Who ordered that study to be done?
Hon. Mr. Harding: That was part and parcel of their equity dog-and-pony show. As I told the member earlier, they had a house of cards built but it was contingent upon one particular investor coming in. It was done by RBC, and part and parcel of that was the Strathcona report. I believe Graham Farquharson was the person who worked on that. So, that's the answer.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, in view of the fact that the report was done as part of their effort to refinance, does not the minister believe that it would be prudent to ask for a copy of the report?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, I'd love to have an analysis done of the report. However, I don't want that report to come with a price. Normally I wouldn't interject myself as government into their business as long as they're not asking me to invest in their business. So, the member has a point, but I don't want to invite requests.
Mr. Ostashek: The minister may not want to invite requests, but the way I do it just on a quick calculation in my head, Anvil Range is into the taxpayers of the Yukon for some $5 million or $6 million right now. You know, all told with what they owe the Energy Corporation, the $1.5 million they owe the government for their part in the power bill, the odds and ends, I believe that it's close to $5 million now.
The minister can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe it's getting up in that neighbourhood. I believe the minister has a legitimate right to ask for a copy of that report that was done to help them refinance their mine when they went back into production and I would suggest to the minister that he seriously consider asking them for it. There ought not to be another price attached to it.
The government has gone 110 percent to try to help this company survive in the Yukon. I believe it would be a legitimate request by the minister for a copy of that report for his perusal. I'm not even asking for him to table it in the Legislature. I just think that the people who are in charge of spending the taxpayers' money should be afforded the same rights as anybody else that's going to participate in the equity of that mine, whether it's in a direct equity or in a loan position.
Hon. Mr. Harding: Thank you, I will take the leader of the official opposition's suggestion very seriously. I thank him for it. He makes a valid point.
In terms of the arrears that are out there right now, most of them are to the Yukon Energy Corporation. The arrears, technically, to the Government of the Yukon are $1.5 million. Anvil still owes Yukon Energy Corporation about $1 million on their old arrears. They owe the Government of the Yukon $1.5 million. So, you're looking at roughly $2.5 million or $3 million. There's also the finalization of 1997 rates, which could impact on those arrears. At this point, that's the extent of the arrears, but they could build.
If Anvil were to be forwarded money in the future and not pay, there could be more arrears built up, I agree. The exposure could grow to fairly considerable levels. It could be argued that even now they're at considerable levels, sufficient to request a review of the Strathcona Minerals work that was done.
I will tell the member, just before I conclude, that that's the limit of the exposure of the Government of the Yukon. The only other money we've invested is $150,000 in a training trust fund, so we are not out on a limb in that respect.
However, I will give serious consideration to that. I'm sure that the Yukon Energy Corporation might also want to do the same.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, there have been a lot of figures thrown around in the year that Anvil's been shut down and about their power bills. There's one figure that is bothering me and maybe the minister can clear it up. I understood that, on top of all of this - the minister can correct me if I'm wrong - there's another $1 million or $1.5 million that Anvil Range was disputing with the Energy Corporation, and that that had been set aside. Am I correct in that? Is there another $1.5 million that they've agreed will be settled in the courts?
Hon. Mr. Harding: I don't think it's that high. The money that the member's referring to pertains to the appeal rider and their share of the appeal rider that's on everyone's bills. Should they lose that court case, obviously that appeal rider would evaporate, because it would probably actually be - I'd better not say that, because the member will hold me to it. There will be sufficient monies available to offset that rate rider. I'll put it that way.
So, that money is in dispute. The member's correct on that. That was part of the discussion surrounding the repayment of their arrears. They felt very strongly that, as they weren't the customer at the time of the complaint, they shouldn't be held to have to pay for those monies.
Mr. Ostashek: Just for further clarification, on the $1.5 million, the minister said that their payments start 120 days after the first ship leaves Skagway. My colleague, the Member for Riverside, said that we couldn't expect any revenues in this supplementary budget, and the minister opposite, I believe, said he thought that the member was correct in assuming that. I think we all agree that the ship has not left Skagway yet, so if we took 120 days, it would be sometime in April before their first payment would be due.
In the meantime, I see a line item on the revenue side here of $53,000 in interest. Is there interest accruing, or is the company supposed to be making interest payments in the interim?
Hon. Mr. Harding: My information is that the interest is accruing. I didn't agree with the Member for Riverside on the question on when the loan should be shown as recoverable, because I didn't know the answer. I said that I would have to ask the Finance minister and the deputy minister to get an answer to that question. However, I would argue that, if you look at, say, for example, the business development funds, they show offsetting recoveries in every year for the amount that's lent out, whether that money is to be paid back to them in that year or not. So, I would suggest that the principle here is consistent with the BDFs, but I will investigate that again.
Mr. Ostashek: I don't think anybody's criticizing the principle. We realize that it's put on the books as a recovery. We're just looking at the reality of any monies flowing before the end of this fiscal year. I think the minister agrees with us that it's highly unlikely.
What is the rate of interest that they're paying on this loan?
Hon. Mr. Harding: It's prime rate plus one and a half, and that number was used because it reminded us of the arrangement that the former Government Leader struck with Curragh, and they used the exact same rate.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Harding: I said prime plus one half.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, I thank the member for that, and I thank him for saying that we did something right. He's very reluctant to give us credit for anything.
Mr. Chair, is the agreement that the interest will accrue until they start making payments, or are they supposed to be making a monthly interest payment? That's the issue I want to get clear in my mind.
Hon. Mr. Harding: They don't make the interest payments until they start making their full payments. It does accrue, and they will be responsible to pay, and the 120 days, and so on and so on, each month. So we're not getting interest payments every month that I'm aware of.
Ms. Duncan: I have a question for the minister with respect to mining exploration.
I note from our files that Northern Affairs had published a forecast prediction, in fact, of almost $58 million spent on mining exploration in the Yukon, or to be spent this summer and fall. The outgoing manager of the Chamber of Mines had predicted that $25 million to $30 million would be spent in exploration - about half the amount predicted by Northern Affairs.
Does the Minister of Economic Development or his departmental officials have any idea of what the dollar impact of mining exploration has been on the Yukon this summer?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Yes, well, the numbers were just announced by the federal government during the Geoscience Forum, and they were down from what was predicted. Now, aside from the politics of it, I think that we did enjoy some banner years overall in exploration Canada-wide. Nineteen ninety-two was the worst year in Canada, overall for exploration throughout the country, I think in the past 20 years. It picked up considerable the last few years.
We got hit this year with Bre-X, which decimated the junior mining company's ability to raise capital. We have substantially declining gold prices, down to the lowest levels in many, many years. And, of course, just to give us a trip-over, we have this lovely turmoil over in the Asian markets.
So, it's very, very difficult to raise capital right now for the junior mining companies, and that is the most substantive reason - and talk to any of them, they'll tell you the same thing - that the mineral exploration is down this year. And it is not just in the Yukon; it is almost consistently Canada-wide. I believe Labrador, because of all the hype around Voisey's Bay, and Newfoundland have done okay, but every other minister I talked to is singing the blues.
Ms. Duncan: Well, I would be delighted to talk to the mining industry at any time and I'm sure the minister would be as well.
I'm just wondering if he could outline for the public record what the government's intentions are with respect to the Cordilleran Roundup coming up rapidly in January. Is the same level of participation expected from the government?
Hon. Mr. Harding: I don't think so, entirely. Last year, we brought the development assessment process commissioner down because we wanted him to become more familiar with the issues of the industry. We felt that was a good opportunity.
The Government Leader and I will hopefully be participating. Unless the Government Leader has something that comes unexpectedly, he's scheduled to be there. I will definitely be there. The department is working hard with the chamber and other partners to ensure that we have a good presence to promote the industry.
We don't intend to stop there. We probably will go to PDAC. We've been talking, just initially, with the mining industry about other things we could do to help soften the blow of Bre-X in terms of capital raising and investment promotion, so we're going to be there at the Cordilleran.
Mr. Cable: My colleague just asked about forecasting for exploration. I have some questions on other forecasting.
In April, the press reported on the short-term economic outlook that the department made, and there were a number of projections. I'd like to explore with the minister just whether those projections actually happened.
The first one was that tourism was expected to grow at least 1.5 percent this year, following a strong performance in 1996. Did that, in fact, happen up to the present date? I know that tourism, per se, is not the minister's responsibility, but the forecasting, of course, is the minister's responsibility.
Hon. Mr. Harding: All the figures aren't in yet. When we get them, we'll provide a followup report.
Mr. Cable: Well, what's projected at the present time? Surely some figures are in. Surely there's enough brain power around the minister's department to make some projections.
Is it expected at the end of the year, when all the numbers are in, that tourism will, in fact, have grown at least 1.5 percent?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, I don't know. It was in the economist's report; however, he pulls together that information - and the department pulls it together - from many different sources. I don't have it at my fingertips, but I will certainly go back to the economist and see if there's an ability to make a preemptive statement to the member as to where they feel tourism numbers are heading.
Anecdotal reporting certainly indicated mixed reaction. Some said it was up; many said it was down. That's just what I've gleaned from reading the papers, listening to the radio and talking to some of the operators myself.
Mr. Cable: Well, here's an easier question. I know these numbers are collected through the stats branch.
The next paragraph in this newspaper article states that "residential construction could continue at its 1996 pace - up 34 percent - if interest rates remain low." Of course, interest rates have remained low. Has residential construction continued at its 1996 pace?
Hon. Mr. Harding: The department tells me that we don't know. The stats are compiled by the Bureau of Statistics, and then they are published when the Bureau of Statistics is ready to publish the statistics. So we don't have an answer. As I say, I can do the same thing in terms of trying to get the department and its economist to analyze some interim data, if it's available, and to give the member some information as to whether or not their initial projections were up to snuff.
Mr. Cable: Here I thought the minister has this monstrous computer that he just pressed a bunch of buttons. Every month, the data flowed in, and out flowed the answers.
There was one other projection made in April, and that is that retail trade is expected to weather the impacts of the mine closure and continue to grow and increase by three percent. Do we know that, to date, retail trade has increased by three percent, or something in that order?
Hon. Mr. Harding: They put out more numerous information on retail sales. The last monthly report that I got showed an increase, I believe, of about two percent - down from the national average, but still an increase.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, Mr. Chair, I guess we'll have to wait until the spring session, when the minister will give us the figures on whether they're positive or negative. I've just got a couple more questions in general debate on the supplementary budget. We have a lot of departments to do yet.
I want to just refer the minister to the capital expenditures for a second. I'll ask the questions now, and then I won't ask them when we go through line by line.
I see that we have an increase of $469,000 in community project initiatives program, and we're lapsing $400,000 in the community development fund. Can the minister explain them?
Hon. Mr. Harding: The community development fund pertains to the Taylor House purchase.
And the other question was a lapse on the what?
Mr. Ostashek: A lapse on the community development fund, I believe, of $400,000. And there's a request for the community projects initiative of an additional $469,000.
Hon. Mr. Harding: When we announced the CPI, it was done over $500,000 over two fiscal years. So, that's why there's a request for further funds in this fiscal year. It was split.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, but we voted $500,000, Mr. Chair, in the mains for the community projects initiative, and now we're increasing that by $469,000, and I'm asking for the reason why.
Hon. Mr. Harding: My department tells me that it's a revote. The money was approved but not disbursed. Therefore, it shows up in this year.
Mr. Ostashek: And why is there a lapse of $400,000 in the community development fund, especially in the supplementary budget? I can't understand that.
Hon. Mr. Harding: We've got the same problem as when we went to consultation with the CDF. It took longer than expected. We've approved some projects, but perhaps did not expect to release the funds in this fiscal year. So, that's why there is a lapse, and we have further meetings coming up on CDF. A number of projects are coming in. There is potential for an expenditure of those monies, but as of right now, they are expected to lapse.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, can the minister tell me if this is the last year for the community projects initiative, or are we going to continue to have the community projects initiative as well as the community development fund?
Hon. Mr. Harding: The CPI was short-term - $500,000 in each year spread over two fiscal years. Unless there is some unusual disbursement of CPI, which is not expected, that will be the last time the member would see it in the supplementaries or mains.
Mr. Ostashek: What is Info Point 2000?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Info Point is a purchase that the Economic Development department has made, and it's a purchase of a number of FM transmitters. We've done it in partnership with Community and Transportation Services. What we intend to do is use these FM transmitters to work with a local communications company to essentially help them to market and to sell the transmitters, and then we intend to have C&TS use them for their various markets for highways, for tourism and for their EMO's. It's essentially a partnership between C&TS and the Department of Economic Development.
Mr. Ostashek: What are they going to do with these transmitters?
Hon. Mr. Harding: The member knows they are essentially an emergency measures unit. The member knows they have some of the same capabilities as, for example, transmitting the bear information, the talking signs, but they are more comprehensive; they have ability for communication in extreme situations and they are used by EMO organizations, by Tourism, as well as for the highway road conditions.
Mr. Ostashek: What is the total cost of this program going to be? And, is the minister saying that this is a program that is going to have stationary FM transmitters throughout major portions of the Yukon or - I'm still not clear in my mind, from the explanation the minister has given me, as to exactly what the government and his department and C&TS is trying to accomplish here.
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, my apologies if I'm not being clear. It's an arrangement that we have struck with Department of Community and Transportation Services and with a local producer of these products. What we are doing is we intend to work with C&TS to use them on highways, for local advisory conditions, for tourism, for remote interpretive signage, and for emergency measures organizations. We are looking at eight FM transmitters units to be delivered immediately and 12 will be manufactured and provided here in the next two years. C&TS will take these units and repay the monies to Economic Development over the next two years. The total cost is as it is indicated in the budget.
Mr. Ostashek: The total cost is as indicated in the budget: $150,000 from Economic Development and $150,000 from C&TS. Is that the total cost of the program? The reason I'm asking is that I didn't see that line item in the C&TS budget. I may have missed it.
Hon. Mr. Harding: It's not in there because it's going to be in two years' time that they'll pay us for these units.
Mr. Ostashek: Who's the supplier of these units?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Total Point Incorporated.
Chair: Is there further general debate?
Mr. Ostashek: I just want to go back to the Anvil Range loan. Under what program was that loan given in his department?
Hon. Mr. Harding: What? Could you repeat that?
Mr. Ostashek: The member will recall that when Mr. Penikett was in power and the NDP were in power, they gave a $5-million loan to Faro. They brought a bill to this Legislature. We brought in the industrial support policy for loans of this type, so that they would be debated on the floor of the Legislature. I'm just asking the minister under what powers in his department was this loan given? What program was it given under or under what authority?
Hon. Mr. Harding: I sought advice from Finance. They felt that a line item in the budget was sufficient. It was not an outright grant as was, for example, the Loki Gold arrangement for the road. It was actually a transaction directly between YTG and YEC, as the monies flowed right to YEC. The arrears or the receivable was essentially purchased and the tripartite arrangement came in when Anvil had to pay us back. So, they felt that it was sufficient.
Mr. Ostashek: There's no doubt that it is sufficient. The Department of Economic Development has the authority under the Economic Development Act to make loans. It's just that if that's the way the minister chose to do it, I'll leave it for now. I'll think about it over the winter and I may have some more questions on it in the spring.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I just have a few questions in general debate for the minister with regard to the trade and investment diversification strategy.
The minister's statement on November 4 to this House said, "Success will not be immediate."
Hon. Mr. Harding: Could I request a short recess, Mr. Chair?
Chair: Yes, 10 minutes.
Chair: I now call the Committee of the Whole to order.
Ms. Duncan: I'd like to ask the minister in general debate some questions regarding the trade and investment diversification strategy.
The minister, on November 4, said, in reference to the government's efforts, "Success will now be immediate," and that was 30 days ago, which is a fairly timely time period for most businesses.
Would the Minister of Economic Development care to enlighten the House as to what progress has been made in terms of this initiative of the government?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, it's going to take a couple of years at least before we start to see the benefits of this initiative. It's not going to be measured in months.
In terms of actual hard numbers, I've already seen the benefits anecdotally, in terms of the enthusiasm that's been generated in the business community and the creation of opportunities for exporting and for creating business opportunities.
I've seen it in several ways: a trade mission I organized, or that my department organized, with the chambers of commerce and local businesses to Ketchikan. The export forum that we held up at the college was, in my estimation a tremendous success. People were enthused, they were educated, they were informed, and they swamped us with requests for more information about exporting and asked us to do more.
They asked us to do more on investment promotion and they asked us to do more with them on trade promotion. So, we are busily organizing now for the next Team Canada, with Prime Minister Chrétien, and the indications from several local businesses are that they want to attend.
But we can't stop on other countries. We also have to continue to look to Alaska, perhaps in a more focused way. We have to continue to hold seminars locally with our businesses to try and put our local entrepreneurs in touch with other entrepreneurs, in touch with opportunities for business exchange and for capital. The end hope of all this is that we create more jobs for Yukoners.
There is a heavy dependency, as the member knows, in this territory on government investment and government money, and we believe that one of the only ways that we can get people to look more outwardly than they do now is to provide them with information for other opportunities.
So, the Member for Riverside made fun of me when I said that I was enthused and excited about recent trade initiatives that we've undertaken, but I really was.
Ms. Duncan: I think the word my colleague used was "energized."
Would the minister indicate when there might be an announcement as to who the Yukon members of the Team Canada mission will be? I assume the Government Leader is one of them, but who are the other business people?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, there are four paid spots on the trip. I'll be attending with the Government Leader. The federal government pays for those four; the others are not entirely worked out - obviously the Government Leader and his spouse and myself. The Yukon businesses - we're having some difficulty. The demand for this trip was so immense that they had one charter that filled up in hours. We were scrambling with some of our local businesses to try and get their deposits in for the trip. Even though we had prepared very well, just the sheer onslaught of business people around the country trying to get on the charter was so strong.
Then there was a second charter added to the trip out of the blue, and the same thing happened. So we're picking up the pieces and trying to get the businesses on. We should be in a position to announce, I would hope in the next two to three weeks, who local businesses are. I'm sure they're talking about it, but I wouldn't want to release it at this point, until they confirm and we get that done.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I understand that, and it's quite an expensive investment for the business community to attend Team Canada missions, so I appreciate that they'll be giving it much thought.
One of the issues and one of the comments made upon the return from the last Team Canada trade mission - or perhaps it was in an interview during the trade mission - that the Government Leader felt more preparation could have been done. Would the minister outline what preparations have been done or are underway for this Team Canada mission?
Hon. Mr. Harding: I'm glad to. We started organizing this quite a while ago, but we essentially launched the kickoff for Team Canada after having floated it at some chamber luncheons, and that sort of thing, at the export conference. We formed as well, as the member knows, a group of trade or export and trade investment partners with CYFN, TIA, the chambers and that organization.
So, we've been meeting regularly and we've been talking about Team Canada. However, the investment is fairly substantial. Only people that are extremely serious about spending $12,000 to $15,000 are going to go. We started talking as soon as possible.
However, there is a mind set in the Yukon that's quite internal in terms of business, because of logistics and because we have a small base to expand businesses here, so it is quite understandable. However, with the background work we've done to try and get people enthusiastic about opportunities, that has helped us prepare. We've hired a facilitator to help with that, who's been working constantly with the local businesses to try and get the initiative up and running and successful.
There's no doubt about it, Latin America is a tough market for the Yukon, but we believe that just the opportunities alone that those businesses will gain on the charter flights in the business programs, meeting the people they're going to meet and having the access they're going to have, they will be energized and hopefully expose some opportunities and tell other people in the Yukon what they saw and what they heard, much the same as the person who accompanied last time did. That would be, I think, a very good thing.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the minister, in his response, indicated that a person had been hired by the department. I understood that that was a term contract till March 31, 1998.
Hon. Mr. Harding: It's a two-year term.
Ms. Duncan: I assume, then, it would be evaluated at the end of that two-year term. The minister is nodding.
One of the points that I noted from the Government Leader and others who attended the last Team Canada mission, when they returned, they talked about tremendous opportunities for Yukon College and I haven't heard it mentioned since. It seems to have been lost somewhere in the discussions. The leader of the official opposition is saying it's a standard line. I don't believe that in this case it was. It was seen as an opportunity as well as the log homes and so on were seen as opportunities and I don't seem to hear much about them. Would the minister indicate whether or not they've been included in these ongoing discussions?
Hon. Mr. Harding: I personally met with a representative of the college on several occasions to talk about pursuing opportunities for the college. They're doing some of it on their own right now and they came to me and asked me for some funding to help them do more. I said that we're willing to involve the college in our strategy; if they can participate along with us if it's consistent with the goals and objectives we're setting, because they're an independent organization, and certainly we'll be there.
We think they do have a role to play and it hasn't been forgotten. It hasn't been talked about a lot publicly, although it has been talked about some, perhaps as much as some other areas because they kind of have their own agenda and their own board of governors and their own system. So, to the extent that they want to become involved and participate jointly, we think that's a great diversification initiative.
There're a lot of success stories around the country. I was just at the new university in Prince George, and their second-language program has become quite successful. A lot of money is getting injected in the economy by the students who are staying there and it's helping to pay tuition fees and all those sorts of things. So, it's certainly not forgotten. It's something I want to continue to pursue.
Ms. Duncan: I would just like to ask the minister a few questions regarding the community development fund. I was listening to his earlier exchange with some of my other colleagues and I don't want to do ploughed ground - I'm not sure what the precise farmer's expression is. However, I do have a couple of questions.
I'm interested in the tier 3 level of projects, and I note that these are projects over $100,000 and that the application deadline is January 15. Are all projects over $100,000 subject to this tier 3 review?
Hon. Mr. Harding: When we get to the point where we clear out this year and any projects that are held over from the CPI, then there will be a clear cutoff as of the January 15 date.
Ms. Duncan: So, is the minister saying that some projects could be considered under the CPI so they wouldn't be subjected to this tier 3 of the CDF?
Hon. Mr. Harding: It's a possibility, but they have to be clearly a project that is well-considered under CPI
Ms. Duncan: Are there any such projects?
Hon. Mr. Harding: At this point there is at least one that I am aware of. One would be the new administration building in White River, working with the White River First Nation and the community association, and this is a project that I think is one that we started under CPI, in terms of putting some money in for a study to come up with a new administration complex centre.
We received quite a bit of support from the community, both from the First Nation and also from the Beaver Creek community club. They sent letters of support, actually, and cc'd one to me. We are looking at seeing some good work in the community and over the winter months it is not actually an economically booming area, and the funding will be coming out of next fiscal year.
Ms. Duncan: The minister's response generates a number of questions. First of all, is the minister saying that money for a - he referred to it as an admin complex resource centre. Has it in fact then been approved?
Hon. Mr. Harding: We are proceeding with completion of what we started under CPI.
Ms. Duncan: When does the minister anticipate this project being approved?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, that means that it has been approved.
Ms. Duncan: Is the amount of the Government of Yukon's contribution to this administration-resource complex in Beaver Creek $200,000?
Hon. Mr. Harding: It would be a maximum of that, and it would be contingent upon other sources of funding, such as from the federal government.
Ms. Duncan: And what is the anticipated contribution from the federal government, and has that been approved?
Hon. Mr. Harding: $200,000.
Ms. Duncan: We're looking at a maximum $400,000 building being built in Beaver Creek - is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Harding: The total cost of the project could be considerably more than that, but that would be the responsibility of the First Nation, and I hope we'll have the members' support in opposition as we fight for this worthwhile community project.
Ms. Duncan: Well, before this member of the opposition says anything about it, I'd like some more information. Exactly what kind of a complex are we looking at? Where will it be built?
Hon. Mr. Harding: I'll provide some more details, and I invite the member to also contact the White River First Nation, who are actually putting the project together, and I'll get some more information for her as well.
Ms. Duncan: I'd be delighted to review that information. Is the minister willing to give me a copy of the application?
Hon. Mr. Harding: I've never dealt with a request for the actual application. So, I'll review the member's request, and if it's consistent with past practice, then I'd be prepared to provide it to her.
Mr. Ostashek: I have a couple of more questions in general debate that are just relating to the Whitehorse CAP project.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Ostashek: Now, the minister is laughing over there, but I don't think it's really a laughing matter. I think this is a very serious matter.
The minister seems reluctant to say yea or nay to this project. In fact, he has postponed that decision on numerous occasions since he's been in office. It's our understanding that this project was given a thumbs-down by the technical committee. Can the minister confirm or deny that?
Hon. Mr. Harding: It's too difficult to confirm or deny it, Mr. Chair. As I told the members opposite, there were many concerns identified by the technical review committee. There were also some achievements made. So, it's not as simple as confirming or denying that they turned it down.
Ancillary to that point, I'll also say that we tried to help the projects in Ross River and Teslin along, as well - in the rural communities, - simply because when we came into office, we felt that it would be appropriate to do this, given the work that was undertaken, and given the fact that the Liberal government in Ottawa had told, for example, the Whitehorse CAP proponents that there were going to be bunches of money coming. Hedy Fry was up here herself and said it was a great idea. The cheque was going to be in the mail, but so far it hasn't shown up. This is very disturbing news for the people who put a lot of work into this, but we're used to having the federal government bail out on commitments.
Mr. Ostashek: We've had numerous representations made to our office by people voicing concerns over this project. This project has strayed a great distance from the terms of references for a CAP project. If the minister wants to fund a project like this, I believe he ought to find another vehicle other than the CAP project to do it. I'm not saying the project isn't a worthwhile project. I'm saying the project doesn't fit the terms of reference of the CAP project, as a tourism-related facility, which was the thrust behind that program - to bring in facilities similar to the Northern Lights Centre in Watson Lake, that was going to have some economic benefit to the community by creating a tourism attraction.
I think it's a real stretch to think that what they now call the unity project is going to do anything for the tourism industry in the Yukon. I don't have any difficulty with the government if they want to undertake the funding of such a project, but I think that they ought to look at a different program under which to fund it, whether it's the community development fund, or whatever program, but to try to use the terms of reference for a tourism-related project and to twist them around to try and make them fit this is a long stretch.
The other concern that I have, and a concern that many of the communities in Yukon have had is that there were strict guidelines put in place to apply for this money. There's concern that the Whitehorse project is being given special treatment. I would suggest to the minister that he not dilly-dally around any longer on this, and that he make a decision. I ask him to seriously look at what the terms of reference were for the CAP when they were brought forward and to really listen to what the technical committee has advised him, because we don't believe this project fits into the CAP terms of reference at all.
So I'd like the minister to respond to that.
Hon. Mr. Harding: I know the Yukon Party can't wait to take an axe to the Whitehorse CAP project. They were writing me letters to do just that last year. They are not interested in the project. They don't believe in it, in any way, shape or form. They have laid waste to it publicly several times, and that's fine; I understand their position.
I would, however, argue that there are some similar elements in their proposal to the project that was approved by the Yukon Party in Haines Junction - some similar elements. Now, numerous people have probably made representations to the members opposite opposing the project; I have had representations opposing the project; I've also had numerous representations in support of the project. I've been told by the proponents that elements of it can meet some of the tourism criteria. They are reluctant, however, in the absence of a more-funding commitment from the federal government to the project, to invest more of their own dollars into tourism marketing potential development. So, they are in a bit of a catch-22 right now.
In terms of the guidelines, I would argue that the guidelines have been bent in many places, and that was even by the previous administration.
With regard to favouritism for Whitehorse, if we're favouring Whitehorse, we're also favouring Ross River and Teslin projects in the rural communities because they were in the same boat when we came into office, and we've been working with them to try and make something come to reality there.
I can understand the criticism, I come from a rural community. People often feel that Whitehorse gets more than the rural communities. I can assure people of the Yukon that is not the case here. We are trying to treat everyone equally.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, I have a few questions about this for the minister, and I want to explain for the minister the concerns I have.
The $9 million that was put into the CAP projects by the Yukon Party was the very first time in the history of the Yukon that so much money had been put forward for tourism infrastructure. We looked at the visitor exit survey and one of the primary issues in the visitor exit survey was infrastructure and attractions and things that people wanted to see and do, and used that as the basis for coming up with a program which would help the various communities in the territory develop attractions that would make people want to stay an hour or two or a day or two longer and thus prolong their visit to the territory and make the Yukon a destination on its own, not just a pass-through as it is in many cases now.
What I'm concerned about here is that I have read the proposal as put forward by the unity group and I think it's a proposal that has merit.
But, unfortunately, in my view, it doesn't meet the criteria that all other communities had to abide by. I'll go back to the member's own community of Faro. I think they came back to the committee twice, or maybe three times, with changes to their proposal to meet the criteria. I think they met the eventual deadline, but they also met the criteria. So did Watson Lake. Watson Lake was initially rejected. The amount was rejected, and I think they wanted to include their administration building and firehall. They wanted to build one big complex and we said no. We said that this has to be a tourism-related facility and we want to make sure, because tourism dollars were so hard to come by for any government in the past, that the money went directly into tourism infrastructure and it benefited the tourism industry. That was the purpose of the program.
That is my first concern, that this particular program doesn't meet the tourism side of it. In fact, some of the arguments on the tourism side of it are the convention centre. Well, right now, we can accommodate tourism conventions of 500 or 600 people. It's a little more difficult, but we can do it. We have a lot more problems with respect to accommodating larger conventions and it's not just the space. It ranges from tables, to chairs to dishes and plates - to a whole infrastructure that would be involved in something like that.
The other problem is that one of the components - the tourism component - is the convention centre. Another component is the Kwanlin Dun involvement in it. I'm not sure, if this project even got a go-ahead from the federal government today and the minister kicked in his dollars tomorrow - there are a lot of other problems associated with the Kwanlin Dun's participation, which is a key component to the tourism side of it. The First Nations songs and dances and that kind of thing, and the First Nations village that's involved in it, and the location itself, on the waterfront, is not settled. You can't have any kind of a facility or even start to build any kind of a facility until at least the land issue is settled. You have to do that.
The other area that I have a problem with that I want to express to the minister - and I'm sure the minister must share this concern - is that I'm very concerned that we don't build anything on the most valuable piece of Whitehorse real estate - which is the Whitehorse waterfront, Mr. Chair - without an overall plan. If you build a convention centre or the unity facility there now, then everything else has to sort of conform to that down the road. It doesn't fit into an overall plan. I thought the city councillors and the Government of the Yukon and others in the Yukon were more interested in developing an overall plan for the area, where there might be a historic section and there might be a commercial section and there might possibly be a convention section.
So, Mr. Chair, those are some of my concerns. Maybe the minister can share with us whether he shares those concerns about the need for an overall plan, the concern about the land and the concern about how valuable tourism dollars are, how hard they are to get and that they should be put directly into something that can we see tangible tourism results from. Can the minister maybe answer some of those questions?
Hon. Mr. Harding: I know the member opposite is very keen to deep-six this project and he's made his point. He's written letters to the editor chastising me for not doing it quickly enough. He ought not to lecture me any more on that. I understand what his position is.
I would argue, though, that at least one of the projects - in Haines Junction, for example - the criteria was bent. It's still a good project, but the criteria was bent to accommodate that project. I would argue that in Ross River and Teslin, we bent the criteria as well to try and help those communities deal with the difficult issues surrounding the projects. We don't make any apologies for that.
The criteria have also been bent in a couple other cases. Watson Lake did come back for more funding and it was granted, I think, just before the last election, and that was beyond the criteria.
I just received a proposal from Haines Junction for chairs and tables and what not for the community centre in Haines Junction - for their project. So, that was not initially considered in the criteria.
We're just trying to deal with the fallout of members opposite's projects, and we're trying to do it as responsibly as we can.
We are looking at different vehicles for this project. The federal government's money that was at least indicated by the Unity Foundation was committed and there might possibly be some things we can do there.
With regard to Kwanlin Dun, I'm not going to be paternalistic and decide for the present administration whether or not they have an ability to participate in this project. We're not even at that point yet. I still get correspondence from the chief of the Kwanlin Dun First Nation. Just the other day in this House the member opposite was mentioning his name 10 times in a Justice bill debate, or 15 times. At that time, I didn't hear any concerns about the ability of the chief to function, but today it seems to be a concern with regard to this Whitehorse CAP project.
So, I intend to go there. I just know what the Kwanlin Dun First Nation has said in terms of their participation in this project. If there's some funding from the Liberals, then it looks like we might go to the next step. If there's not, we have to look at other alternatives and there won't be a Whitehorse CAP project.
With regard to the overall plan the member mentioned, we've always wanted to consider overall planning, but obviously our first priority is to settle land claims. But in this particular case, we have the Downtown Community Association, we have L'Association Franco-Yukonnaise and we have the Kwanlin Dun First Nation all coming together on a particular project, and it does warrant some sort of consideration at least and a minimum of an exemption.
We have bent over backward to try to help make this project a reality. We know the member opposite wants to see it dead, but we're not going to jump to kill it. We want to make sure that if there's money from Ottawa, there's appropriate time for that. I think we've done that. We are close to being able to make a rational decision about this particular project.
Mr. Phillips: Well, Mr. Chair, the minister keeps saying I want to deep-six the projects. That's not true at all. I'm asking, first of all, Mr. Chair, that this project, like other projects, be required to conform to the criteria - first of all.
Secondly, I think the proposal and the groups that are involved is a good idea, and it has merit, but I'm not sure that this is the program for it. It's a good idea, but there are a whole bunch of key elements that are missing, like the land. We don't know if the land is even available. Like the overall plan for the land and the waterfront: there isn't one. The federal government money: there isn't any, and they keep delaying it.
I think it's a wonderful idea, but I'm not totally convinced that the type of project, as it's designed, can support itself financially on an ongoing O&M basis. I would like to think it would somewhere down the road, and I'd like to think it would benefit other hotels and businesses in this community, but there are a whole bunch of questions here that aren't answered and, in fact, that are really up in the air and are really questionable. So that's why I'm asking the minister these questions.
Mr. Chair, the minister says I want to axe the project. That's not true at all. The minister, when he was in opposition, didn't care much about tourism and criticized tourism quite strongly all the times he stood on his feet. The tourism industry itself has said it has strong concerns with this project meeting the tourism criteria.
You know, the minister has more responsibility now that he's the Economic Development minister. He can't just look at it from the narrow-minded view that he took when he was on this side.
He has to look at it from the perspective of how will this affect the industry, how will the industry react to it, will it benefit tourism. It's a million and a half of tourism dollars that we should be able to see a tourism return from.
So all I'm asking the minister is to treat this as a serious proposal. I mean, maybe there's a way, Mr. Chair, that this government can look at another way of funding this community centre concept. I think it's a good concept, but let's make sure that the waterfront plan is in place so it fits in neatly with the waterfront, that the land issue is kind of settled, and that the federal funding issue is settled, because the government can look at other avenues. It developed the community development fund. It could look at other initiatives down the road, but this was primarily for tourism dollars. I hate to see Whitehorse lose the $1.5 million, too.
I think it could have been put to good use in the City of Whitehorse, because it's one of the stops along the way in the visitor exit survey where visitors didn't spend a lot of time, but passed through. So, it did need further attractions in the City of Whitehorse to make people want to stay and spend more time.
I'm just not sure whether this will do the job. I mean, a convention centre is not going to stop the RV traffic coming through. It might attract some larger conventions down the road, but right now, we can attract some of those and they can use existing commercial facilities and they can use existing public facilities that we have now, and they do. In fact, I was just reading in the paper tonight that Fulda, who is coming here in February with 375 people, is going to be using probably either the Mount McIntyre Center or the Takhini Arena.
Now, it would be nice to have a convention centre for these individuals, Mr. Chair, but, if we are only having two or three of those things a year, it might be difficult to sustain it. And, I don't know if there has been any kind of work done to investigate whether or not we could sustain a building of that size with the activities that are planned there.
I'm asking the minister to give it serious thought.
The minister mentioned Haines Junction, saying it's a similar project. No, it's not at all; it's not similar at all. In Haines Junction, there are no other facilities for meeting rooms and the kinds of facilities they need. This is not available now in Haines Junction. That was a project that the Haines Junction people put together that is going to - I mean, one of the problems we have with Haines Junction is that people drive right past Kluane Park and don't get an opportunity to see any of it, other than if they rent an airplane or unless they are just driving by on the road - a convention centre, a smaller convention center with no competition involved in the community.
The community itself picked the project. The community itself decided that it wanted that particular project, and it's not competing with anyone in the private sector. And, I'm hopeful that this particular project, which is on a much smaller scale than this one, will benefit the community of Haines Junction in the future and I'm supportive of that project.
I'm not sure we're not duplicating things we already have. We don't have the land issue solved. We don't have the tourism component of the First Nations solved. We don't have the federal government funding solved. The tourism industry itself has spoken out against it.
There are a lot of reasons. They missed, I think, five or six deadlines - at least three - that the minister himself has set. And I just wonder where it ends. If the minister feels that he has to fund this project, then let's look elsewhere in the budget for funding for this project.
I don't have a problem with that. I think that with different criteria, this project might have some merit if it can be proven that that size of a convention facility can survive.
So, those are the concerns that I have, Mr. Chair, and the minister should quit saying that I'm trying to kill the project. I'm trying to justify the project under the criteria of the CAP and tell the minister that the tourism industry is concerned that they're going to lose $1.5 million.
We have very little money to put into tourism compared to other jurisdictions, and we have to spend what we do have very wisely, and so I just want to pass that on to the minister. We have to be careful how we do this.
Mr. Hardy: This is an interesting debate, but, you know, when the member opposite says that he doesn't want to kill a project, he hasn't said anything positive about the project. So, you have to take the assumption that he doesn't want to see this project go ahead downtown.
And the reason that I'm standing here, of course, is because it's in my riding. It will have a tremendous effect upon the downtown core, and the member opposite from Riverdale North mentioned Fulda. Well, what's Fulda? Fulda is tourism. What does Fulda need? It needs a bigger convention centre.
Mr. Ostashek: Point of order, Mr. Chair.
Point of order
Chair: Mr. Ostashek, on the point of order.
Mr. Ostashek: Committee debate is to ask the minister questions, not to be debating an issue on the floor of the Legislature with the opposition.
Hon. Mr. Harding: Mr. Chair, all members of this Legislature are entitled to ask questions of the minister and to speak freely about issues that are being debated. There are significant preambles. As a matter of fact, the member has 20 minutes in chunks to speak in this Legislature in Committee of the Whole, and I don't think the Member for Whitehorse Centre has done anything other than engage in his right to speak freely on issues that affect him in this territory.
So, Mr. Chair, I would strongly suggest that the point of order does not exist.
Chair: The Chair recognizes that there is no point of order. All members are free to not only ask questions, but also to inject points of debate, as well.
Mr. Hardy: Thank you, Mr. Chair, because I've noticed that there haven't been many questions over the last few questions in the Committee of the Whole. There's just been a lot of preamble and positioning taken. So, I'm glad you support the position of all the members in this House who have been doing that.
Anyway, going back to Fulda, what does Fulda need? Fulda needs a bigger centre. They also need to be served better. They also need a good location. That's tourism. Now, if this project - and we should really recognize the tremendous work that's been done by the three groups that have put so much work into it and are trying to make the downtown core vital again and bring people in, as well as providing a destination for tourist groups who come here. That's been a complaint, so I would just like to raise that point.
The Fulda issue itself would benefit. They have a long-term investment in the Yukon. A facility like this would go to feeding their needs, because I can also see this one growing. I don't see Mount McIntyre being able to keep up with the growth of the Quest, nor do I think that the Takhini Arena is the venue that we would want to put many, many tourists from Germany, Switzerland, the U.S. and Canada in. We would like to have a better facility for them, so that they can go back and say, "There are great facilities in Whitehorse and we can have conventions there."
When people come over, they don't come over to have a party, spend a bit and go back and forget about it. They go back and talk about what they've seen and the facilities and locations that are there. This is a wonderful location. Even though there are some concerns possibly about the development of the waterfront - and I share many of those concerns - I also recognize the need of anchoring parts of the waterfront, and a convention/community centre is a good anchor. I think I've heard members, over the past few years, also support the idea of having anchors at the end of the development.
Business has also come out very strongly in support of this - not all business, but you're not going to get all sides or everybody agreeing to any of these plans. I've seen a lot of letters in support of this business from those who would like to see this developed. They can see the benefits.
I was looking at an older edition - December 6 - of the Globe and Mail. It is some people's bible, I've noticed; they like to quote it a lot.
But they're talking in this one, an article by William Thorsell, about what a stadium can do for a city centre. Now, we're not talking about a stadium, but I do know there is the idea of putting a sports complex downtown. But, for a town our size, a convention community centre would be similar to a stadium in Edmonton or Vancouver or Toronto, and what this author has done is make a comparison of towns and cities - larger cities of course - that have either put their convention centres or stadiums outside of town, or the ones that have actually put them right downtown, and what has happened to the downtown core. In all cases, in the examples they used, where the cities have put their stadiums downtown, such as in Vancouver with their GM Place and their B.C. Place, as well as their convention centres, right downtown on the water, and where I believe Toronto has put some major developments, convention centres, downtown, and where Edmonton didn't do it - they put theirs out of town - what they have seen is that the vitality of that community has grown downtown and it has drawn in a lot of people who have come to those vibrant places. It becomes a place to visit, an exciting, dynamic place to visit.
For my riding downtown, that would be good. There needs to be more life down there because there is a crime rate down there and a lot of people head down to that area. The more people you can get in that town for longer periods of time, the less crime you will have, and that's proven by the residential growth around these places.
But where they haven't had it, in Edmonton as an example, the downtown urban core has died. Edmonton used to be a great place to visit, but they've really suffered over the years and now they're struggling to put these places back downtown. They've put a performing arts centre down there but it's almost like it's too late because they've put their convention centres and stadiums out of town and it's killed the downtown core and that's made the town very weak and not a place to visit.
It's a good article. I think it's something we have to consider. So, that is a good place to put it. That's a very strong place. It also supports the waterfront, and I really think it's a wonderful project in that it does bring cultures together. And out of that alone we can build a tremendous tourist attraction just by having the showing of the unity - the unity of coming together, the cultural diversity, and the ability to host events with a demonstration of different cultures and the unity that we have.
And, since we're in a unity debate right now, having this project die, I sure hope the federal Liberals support it. I sure hope they do, because it would fit really nicely with the unity debate across the country.
If they come forward with the money that they have promised, I think it's very little for us to take a step of trust and belief, and honour and recognize the work that's been done and put a little bit back into the downtown Whitehorse, because it is suffering. Maybe it can become a stronger tourist destination than just some of the areas that are well-known outside of the Yukon.
Hon. Mr. Harding: I want to thank the Member for Whitehorse Centre for his representations and for the good, hard work that he's done on behalf of many of his constituents in terms of trying to ensure that we're doing everything we responsibly and thoughtfully can do to try and see this project come to fruition. I have indicated, and I'll just tell the members as I've told other members, that we are prepared to look at other options if the federal government doesn't come through with their stated commitment to this project. I have a very strong desire to see strong communities and also to see increased tourism. If this project were to come through, then I've been assured by the Unity Foundation that they would do more work to ensure that the tourism component is stronger.
So I hear members' representations on both sides, and I look forward to continued discussion and positive moves and investment in the territory.
Mr. Phillips: I actually am pleased that the Member for Whitehorse Centre got involved in the debate, but I guess there'll be a lot of Yukoners asking where was he when we built the Arts Centre up at the Yukon College. If he wants to see some waterfront development or some downtown core development, he should have listened or should have spoken up with his own colleagues with respect to where the Arts Centre should go.
His leader said, "If you want the 12 million bucks, it goes up at the college or you don't get anything." That's what he said. Even to this day - in fact, Mr. Chair, I can tell the member that the birth of this downtown community centre comes from many of the people who were disgruntled by the Arts Centre being built up the hill. That's where it's coming from. Many of those people are involved in that.
I agreed with those people that said the Arts Centre should be downtown. If you go to Charlottetown or other major cities in this country, the arts centres are downtown, where there can be art shows where people can walk. That was a bad decision made by the NDP government at that time.
I see the member nodding his head in the affirmative. He agrees with me and I'm pleased to see that he agrees that his leader has made a mistake.
I was pleased that the member spoke; I am disappointed as a Whitehorse MLA that the member is taking a position that we should develop our Whitehorse waterfront with no plan. I would think that a lot of people would be concerned about that approach because, first, there's this and then there's something other and then there's something other and then there's something other, and pretty soon you have an ad hoc design or a waterfront that looks like it was done without a plan.
One only has to go to Winnipeg or some of the other communities in this country and see what they've done to their waterfronts, Mr. Chair, and how beautiful they have become because they planned them. I think that's what we've got to do.
That's my concern. This downtown community centre - and it is a community centre; it's not a tourism facility - in my view, may have enough merit to go ahead, but maybe not on the waterfront, unless there's an overall plan, and maybe on the waterfront when there's a plan.
All I'm concerned about is that we don't rush into something that we have to live with forevermore; that it doesn't do what it's supposed to do for tourism; that it compromises any future planning on the waterfront. That's the concern I have, Mr. Chair - that we're rushing into it.
I mean I agree with the member that we do need some things downtown to draw people into the downtown core so that it doesn't die. We have probably the most valuable piece of real estate, historically and scenic-wise in this country, in this waterfront. It stretches from this building down past the White Pass building. It's beautiful. There's lots of scenery, beautiful clear water, a lot of history from First Nations to gold rush history, and we can't compromise that by rushing ahead and building something without putting it in an overall plan. That's my concern.
We can't compromise it, as well, by cutting a deal on a project. I mean, maybe I'll ask the minister. We don't have, Mr. Chair, any agreement on the land as yet. There's an outstanding issue with the land and I believe the land in the proposal is worth $1 million or $1.5 million. It's valued at that.
What other alternatives has the minister been briefed on that they're looking at? What other areas of land are they looking at if, in fact, the federal government comes through with their money and this government decides to fund it anyway? Where would we be looking at putting such a facility if it wasn't to go on that waterfront land, because I'm concerned about it going down there without a plan and I'm concerned about it not being able to go down there because the issue of the land may not have been settled. It's not settled now and may not be settled this year. It may not be settled next year. So, what are the alternative plans if the land issue isn't settled?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, Mr. Chair, the member opposite is trying to now soft-sell his opposition to this project and his desire to see it killed. And I know he's been very strident about his desire to see it axed from even as early as last year. So, I understand his position. We just simply don't agree. We've tried to make things happen.
I know the member has been lobbied by the Unity Foundation. They've expressed their concern about the member's position to him, and it's obvious from the written word and the spoken word that the member wants to kill the project. He can try and soft-sell that all he wants. They can try and identify all the problems. I am just telling him that we know there are problems. However, it is a requirement of this project that we get Liberal money so that we can invest that money into the further development of the project. It does not have to be rushed.
We have considered other options and discussed other options in a very cursory forum with the Unity Foundation, should the Liberal government not come through with the money they've promised.
The member opposite wants to fight election battles of two elections ago about where the Arts Centre was - ironically coming from the person who lobbied very hard to have the tourism VRC up on the highway as opposed to downtown.
But, Mr. Speaker, I would just say that in respect to the member's comments, we will not have dealt with all the problems of this project until we get the Liberal money. If that doesn't come, the project is not going to be able to proceed as it was envisioned.
So, I hear him. I know he wants it dead. I know he wants to kill it. I know that he says stuff in the heat of debate and that he'll just grab on to anything and just say it, but Mr. Chair, people out there know that he's opposed to the project and wants to axe it. So, whatever.
Mr. Phillips: Well, we know which member in this House says things in the heat of debate. Hansard is there for everyone to see, Mr. Chair. It's the Member for Faro time and time and time again.
Mr. Chair, I guess I could play the silly game that the Member for Faro wants to play, and I can say, "Well, the Member for Faro wants to go ahead with this project even if it doesn't meet the criteria." That's his position. That's what the member is saying. That's what he says time and time again that he's just going to give this money no matter what. That's the position that the Member for Faro seems to be taking.
I am not saying that, as I said before, this is a bad idea. I'm saying that it doesn't fit the criteria. It doesn't meet the tourism criteria. The land issue isn't settled. There are all kinds of problems with this issue.
I think it merits the government looking at another program which could entertain something like this. I mean, the government brought it on itself, Mr. Chair, with putting the Arts Centre up the hill. That's how it got everybody mad at them. Now, they are all back to build a similar facility downtown because the government wouldn't listen the first time.
So, Mr. Chair, I'm concerned.
Maybe the minister can answer this question: will he give us assurances in this House that he won't approve any of any funding for this project until the Government of the Yukon and the City of Whitehorse agree to an overall waterfront development plan, so that this project will not necessarily go ahead on the waterfront until there is an overall waterfront development plan?
Mr. Hardy: Well . . .
Point of order
Chair: On a point of order.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, I am asking the minister a question; I deserve a response. I know the other members want to get into debate, and I have no problem with that, but I would just like the minister to respond.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, we don't usually take five questions from members and then add them up and respond, you know.
Chair: Order please.
The Chair recognizes that the minister has chosen to respond after the other member speaks, so there is no point of order.
Mr. Hardy: There have been comments made about the previous NDP government. They made a choice to put a cultural centre up at the college, good or bad. People can take their sides and voice it time and time again. There is some benefit to it and some disadvantages to it. One, of course, is not being downtown where we would want to revitalize the downtown core, especially if you see that it is suffering.
As a person who represents the downtown core, I believe that it is suffering.
But, just to clear the air here, I think that it has to be pointed out that it wasn't my boss or my leader, because I wasn't in the Legislature at that time - maybe the Member for Riverdale North's memory is getting a little weak there - but no, I wasn't elected at the time, I've only been elected recently, about 14 or 15 months, and the leader at that time had long left the Yukon.
I was a private citizen and I lobbied for what I believed in and spoke of what I believe in at that time, and I'll stand by what I said at that time. I have no problem saying that the downtown core has to have investment in it.
There is something that worries me here, though, and I think it has to be cleared too. Maybe the minister can speak a little bit on this. The tremendous investment that's been put into this - the planning, since we want to talk about planning - area that's been identified by the Kwanlin Dun as part of their property and their willingness to work with the other groups to put up a structure that will serve all of Whitehorse and serve businesses, serve the public and serve tourism - their commitment - also the recognition of the francophone community and the importance of having them participate in this project, since they're a vital part of the Yukon and the Downtown Community Association, which has done a tremendous amount of work.
There has been a lot of planning done. There's been a lot of plan design for the waterfront, and it's very rare that you get an offer like this that comes along, where tremendous work has been done by private citizens, and this is many, many years of work. This is not just last year's brainwave. This is many years' work.
So to let something like this go by, especially if the federal government's willing to support a project like this, would be a disservice to the people of the Yukon, and it would be a disservice, in the long run, for tourism, because it's only a short view that says that this is not a tourist project. This will have tremendous benefit for tourism in the Yukon, long term. I believe short term as well, but definitely long term.
The town desperately needs it; private people put a lot of work into it. First Nations who have a very legitimate claim for a lot of the property down there are willing to share in it. It's pretty hard to find anything wrong with the project, really, but it seems the member opposite has found a lot of things wrong, and that's a disservice to many of my constituents downtown who believe that it's necessary to get some vital projects happening down there to re-establish the downtown core, because it will be a benefit for all people of the Yukon, as well as for the tourism business.
If the minister could talk about the people that are involved and the commitment they have made, I think that would help clear up the air about the tremendous commitment to make this thing work.
Hon. Mr. Harding: There's been a lot of work done by a lot of people. The member opposite asked me a specific question about whether any money would flow to the project in advance of an overall plan. There has been money flowed to the project already - some $25,000 in planning - and I think it would be difficult for me to make the commitment that he's asked me to make.
The Member for Whitehorse Centre makes some good points, and I've gone about as far as I can go, in the absence of some Liberal money from Ottawa, to making the project a reality; however, we are prepared to look at other options, if need be.
But, Mr. Chair, I just want to say that it would be difficult for me to, on the one hand, ignore all the work that's gone into it by the Kwanlin Dun First Nation, l'Association des Franco-Yukonnais and the Downtown Community Association. I have not ignored that, and I've tried to be respectful of the work they've done, while trying to balance out the need to try and meet the criteria identified in the CAP project and also analyze other options.
But in response to the former Minister of Tourism, I would just say that I would have difficulty meeting the criteria that he has set in terms of his question.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, I just want to let the minister know that I, too, share the minister's view that the individuals involved in the unity group have done a very good job and worked very hard on this particular project. I'm not opposed to the project, per se; I am, like I said to the minister, concerned about it meeting the criteria and about other issues surrounding it that I've mentioned previously.
Mr. Chair, I would like to ask the minister what his final deadline is. What are we looking at? Is the minister prepared to wait another week, another month, the end of the year, or until the House adjourns, and then he can make an announcement? What is the deadline that the minister's planning to go to? Is the minister telling us here today that, by saying he won't hold back any money he, too, agrees that there can be development on that waterfront without an overall waterfront plan? Does he support that concept, that there can be some development on that waterfront without a comprehensive plan?
Hon. Mr. Harding: My time lines are very soon. Last week, I said that we were going to be analyzing whether we had obtained a substantive federal Liberal government commitment to the project. We haven't obtained that. I have to meet with the partners, first and foremost - the Unity Foundation - to discuss what I'm going to do. They will have to be the first to know, in terms of our decision, but I expect it very soon.
I heard some heckling about the House ending. That's certainly not a consideration. I know what the positions of the members opposite are. I just haven't had the time to organize a meeting with the proponents. They want the project to be - well, I won't say killed, because I'll spark a bunch more debate, but they don't want the project to succeed in its current form, anyway - I'll be kind. They've already stated that umpteen times in the media and in this Legislature, so I'm not afraid of that position.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, when I started out earlier today, I talked about how hard tourism money is to come by. Would the member give us assurances that if the federal government doesn't come through on this particular project and this money is not allocated under the CAP program, the minister will sit down with the Tourism Industry Association and the players in the industry and discuss the best use for this tourism funding, whether or not it can be used for such things as - I know the minister said something about Haines Junction looking for chairs and Watson Lake looking for other things - but maybe it can be disbursed in some way to enhance existing projects or look at other projects in other communities if that is the case, because I'm just concerned that the money would be lost to tourism and end up in general revenues, being used for something other than tourism.
That is a concern, because tourism dollars are very hard to find and our visitor exit surveys tell us time and time again that if we're going to become a destination, we have to invest more in infrastructure.
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, I can tell the member opposite it won't be for another Beringia Centre, but we will have a good discussion at budget time. I will encourage the Minister of Tourism to sit down and talk with the people that he works with on an ongoing basis. I also have TIA as a partner in our trade investment diversification strategy, so I'm obviously not opposed to talking to them about this issue in terms of budgeting.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, Mr. Chair, from what I've gleaned from the debate here this afternoon - and I would like to ask the minister to confirm this - the minister is going ahead with this project, whether the federal government contributes or not. That's what he's told the House here today. And I just want to ask the minister if that is his position. Is he going ahead with a scaled-down project if the federal government doesn't contribute?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, the member's gleaning is wrong. What we've said is that if there is a failure by the federal Liberal government to participate in the project, we're prepared to consider other options of some form of project with the Unity Foundation. There's been absolutely no decision made other than that we've said that we're willing to entertain ideas.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, then, if that's the position that the minister has, then he's wrong telling my colleague, the Member for Riverdale North, that the decision time was very soon, that he's not going to prolong this. Yet, he turns around and says, well, if the money's not there, we're going to look at another project; we're going to use this money somehow.
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, it won't be a CAP project. It would stand on its own.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, I thank the minister for that. I just want to say for the record that's been our only concern. We have nothing against the project as a unity project. In fact, we think that it's probably a very worthwhile project. We just don't believe that it should be funded under the CAP program.
Ms. Duncan: I'm pleased to enter into discussion with the minister. I just want to seek clarification on a question that I asked earlier regarding the community projects initiative.
I'd like to say before I ask it that I believe that questions asked during this general debate have been quite productive and, for the information of the Member for Whitehorse Centre, there have been specific, direct questions asked.
With regard to the community projects initiative that the minister and I discussed earlier with respect to the White River First Nation, I understood that the minister said that the up-to-$200,000 project for White River - the complex - was funded under the community projects initiative. However, when I went back to our files, the community projects initiative has been fully committed, and that only included the $25,000 toward the community resource and cultural centre.
What I'm trying to understand from the minister then is, where is the $200,000 coming from? Is it coming under CDF?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: I don't have the Blues to look at. So, the minister is saying that's what he said.
If that's the case - if it's up to $200,000 - it requires, according to the booklet we have, a tier 3 approval.
Is the minister also saying that that tier 3 level of approval has also been given to this project?
Hon. Mr. Harding: I said that initiatives that we had gone sensibly down the road on with CPI were not to be cancelled because of over considerations with CDF. We feel very strongly that this is a good project in White River, that it has community support, that CDF money should be used to fulfill the commitment of some kind of an administration centre - the commitment meaning the one that was made with the CPI. There was $25,000 invested in the concept, and we think it's worthwhile to continue on with the community involved. I would hope to have support, rather than opposition.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I want to be absolutely clear: this is not opposition or support for the project. I'm simply trying to gain some information, and I want to understand the process quite clearly. What the minister is saying is that, under the community projects initiative, there was a $25,000 study and undertaking toward a community resource and cultural centre.
So when it came time for this study - presumably, when we haven't seen a copy of it - it says that this is a good idea. So what has happened is they're going through under CDF, but rather than going through an application process and an approval process, because this was started under CPI, it's been automatically approved under CDF, but it's not subject to the tier 3 approval. That's what I'm understanding from the minister, that this project isn't subject to tier 3 approval.
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, subject to approval and to an application, that was considered. Actually, there were several initiatives put forward, not specifically tier 3, as set out under the criteria of the CDF. The reason for that is that it was initially started under the CPI. So, there was an approval process. There was an application and there was due consideration of many elements concerning the project.
So, on all fronts, we felt, given the fact that the study was successful, that the community had the support they did, that we wanted to see some jobs occurring in the community in terms of the construction of this project, along with what we believed was a good project go-ahead, that we would make the move that we did, rather than be rigid to the January 15 tier 3 application process.
Ms. Duncan: What was the process that was used in this case, then? The minister said there was an application and there was an approval process. What process was this subject to, then?
Hon. Mr. Harding: The same process as the community projects initiative approval process for some of the major projects we undertook, like the Victoria Faulkner Women's Centre finding of a new home.
Ms. Duncan: In this May 21 media release there are 30 CPI projects listed that were approved. How many of these have been subjected to the same process that the White River First Nation has?
Hon. Mr. Harding: All of them went through the same committee and criteria.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I am not making myself clear. The White River First Nation received money under the CPI and has subsequently been approved for money in a separate process than the normal CDF. How many of the other 29 CPI projects are getting CDF money?
Hon. Mr. Harding: I'll have to do an analysis of that for the member in order to provide the information. The White River is the only one I can stand on my feet and be clear on. However, there may be a couple of others, but I'm not entirely sure.
Ms. Duncan: If the minister could come back to me with the details of this project, and it seems so far to be the only one, I would be just interested in, as I stated earlier, exactly what this project is. When does the minister anticipate the money flowing to the White River First Nation?
Hon. Mr. Harding: I'll have to bring that back.
Chair: Is there any further general debate?
Seeing none, we'll go to operation and maintenance expenditures, administration, $24,000.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
Ms. Duncan: Is the minister not going to offer an explanation on that?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, yes. It's been the practice that if people want me to give one, I will; otherwise, sometimes the people just want to clear them.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, the member says obviously just do it. I mean, that's a new policy. There were many times, Mr. Chair, when I was in opposition that I didn't ask the minister to break it down, and many times I did.
Anyway, I will break it down. I'd be happy to.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Harding: Oh, do I ever remember the 76 days. It's probably the reason the members opposite are sitting over there.
Anyway, computers and furniture for new community development fund positions.
Administration in the amount of $24,000 agreed to
On Mines and Resource Development
Hon. Mr. Harding: Okay. The $208,000 pertains to - the explanation I have is that the five-year EDA with Canada expired March 31, 1996 -
Sorry. The explanation under mines and resource development is the loan to Anvil Range for $1.5 million, a reduction of $56,000 for the senior director seconded to DIAND; senior mineral development advisor backfill, senior director, $23,000; vacancy for administrative assistant is a reduction of $11,000; oil and gas recruitment for petroleum engineer and land administrator delayed, $51,000; FIDO recruitment delay, $38,000; energy management analyst vacancy, a reduction of $32,000; increased contract services to oil and gas, $20,000; utilities analyst relocation cost, $12,000; contribution to oil and gas working group paid in 1996-97, $50,000; four training development officers outside ad interview and relocation, $32,000; Anvil Range due diligence contract, $5,000; other miscellaneous expenditures; for a total of $1,356,000.
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Chair, I move that you report progress on Bill No. 8.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Harding: 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 Committee of the Whole?
Mr. McRobb: Mr. Speaker, Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 8, Second Appropriation Act, 1997-98, and directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Harding: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:29 p.m.
The following Document was filed December 9, 1997:
"Yukon First Nations Map - The Real Map": errors (Phillips)