Wednesday, December 8, 1999 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed with prayers at this time.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
Are there any tributes?
Recognition of Salvation Army Christmas kettle drive
Mrs. Edelman: I rise today on behalf of all members of the Yukon Legislature to pay tribute to the Salvation Army Christmas kettle drive.
The Christmas kettle drive was first started in the gold rush in San Francisco in the 1880s. The Christmas kettle drive came to the Yukon during our gold rush in 1898. The Salvation Army continued to serve Yukoners in Dawson until 1920, when the gold ran out and the army left. In 1978, the Salvation Army came back to the Yukon, and that year Captain Bob Wilson moved to Whitehorse and set up a soup kitchen, a thrift store, a food bank and the Christmas kettle drive - all in his first year here.
The Salvation Army still serves Yukoners today, and during the Christmas kettle drive this year, we are asked to remember that there is a need for operations and maintenance money for the Salvation Army building that houses these important services for Yukon's most vulnerable - the poor, the old, the sick and the disenfranchised.
We pay tribute today to the Christmas kettle drive of the Salvation Army, but realize that need knows no season.
Speaker: 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?
Point of personal privilege
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I rise on a point of personal privilege.
Yesterday in this House, in response to a question from the Member for Porter Creek South, I indicated that I met with Paul Nordahl, the current president of the Yukon Teachers Association, accompanied by Dennis Rankin in my office, and discussed the issue of temporary teachers and the Education Act.
I have reviewed my schedule, and I held meetings with the president of the Yukon Teachers Association on February 19 and on March 11 of last year. We discussed their request for amendments to the Education Act regarding temporary teachers, and I indicated the government's position regarding process and timing of the Education Act review.
Mr. Speaker, at that time, Kerry Huff was the president of the Yukon Teachers Association. I hope that clarifies my remarks.
Speaker: This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Forest commissioner, New Brunswick tour
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the forestry commissioner on his trip to New Brunswick. Yesterday the forestry commissioner tabled a report on his trip to New Brunswick to look at lumber and telephone poles. Beside there being a bunch of pictures of lumber and logs, there are three pictures with the forestry commissioner in them, and one of them with the forestry commissioner eating finger food in a bar. What did this boondoggle cost the taxpayers?
Mr. Fentie: Obviously, the Liberals don't believe that, when we go on one of these tours to help expedite the development of our forest industry in this territory, we don't eat. This particular photo was the wind-up dinner held by the Yukon Department of Economic Development in New Brunswick. It wasn't a bar; it happened to be the Lobster Hut, and when in New Brunswick we should eat lobster. As far as the total cost of the trip, I can provide those details to the member in due course.
Mr. Cable: The conclusion part of the report says, "Participants identified the direct access to suppliers, operators and facilities, using kiln dryers, planers, and finger-jointing techniques as key benefits to the trip."
Is the commissioner seriously suggesting that we have to fly a whole passel of people to the other end of the country, on the taxpayers' nickel, to figure out where to buy machinery and how to join wood together?
Mr. Fentie: Well, Mr. Speaker, that's not what we're suggesting at all. In fact, there is a commonality between the region in New Brunswick and the Yukon in terms of land base, volumes and the developing industry. The reason we chose New Brunswick is because, in the past, officials from the New Brunswick ministry have been very helpful to the Yukon, in terms of our developing sector. They were very gracious to offer to set up this tour for us, so that we in our industry could learn, firsthand, exactly where we can go in terms of the developing of a manufacturing sector in this territory. It only makes sense to go to where we are best able to expedite that process.
Mr. Cable: The Yukon 2000 report some 12 years ago talked about adding value to our forest products. Surely we don't have to go to the other end of the country to do some looky-Louing in New Brunswick and reinvent the wheel. Even if the trip were necessary to gather information, surely it would have been a lot cheaper to take a trip to British Columbia, instead of launching off in this boondoggle. There's a huge forest industry just a few hundred miles south of us. Why was the trip set up for New Brunswick?
Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, in the first place, when we compare ourselves to British Columbia, we're dealing with a totally different industry, in terms of size, dimension and scale, and that's simply not a common approach for this territory. We do not, on this side of the House, project the utilization of literally millions of cubic metres in this territory.
We went to an area that has a commonality on volume, on land base and on a developing industry. That is why we chose New Brunswick.
So I would argue that the member is wrong. This was not a boondoggle. In fact, given what's happening today in the forest sector, it's obvious we are on the right track. We have chosen appropriate processes and steps to help our industry in this territory. It wasn't that long ago that we had a government that was the overseer of a moratorium - not the development of an industry, but the closing down of an industry.
We have taken that much farther toward a positive end, and we intend to continue to do that.
Question re: Connect Yukon project, telephone service to rural customers
Ms. Buckway: Mr. Speaker, I have some questions for the Minister of Government Services on Connect Yukon.
The Connect Yukon project was announced on October 14. We have been asking for weeks for the minister to provide a copy of the agreement that has been worked out with Northwestel. Finally, yesterday, the open and accountable minister provided the letter of intent between the two companies.
The letter of intent wasn't even signed until October 20, a week after the project was announced.
Can the minister tell the House why this multi-million dollar Connect Yukon agreement was announced, coincidentally, I am sure, during the by-election, before the memorandum of understanding was signed with Northwestel?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: One of the things that Northwestel has is that they have a board, and while we can conclude an agreement with the company locally, it had to be reviewed by their board. We had the agreement in principle with the local representatives. We felt very confident that this would go forward, but there was an issue of it being reviewed by their board.
With regard to this project, once again we feel that it's going to benefit the people of the Yukon and it's going to benefit particularly rural Yukon by providing high-speed Internet access and data transmission, and I think I have gone through in rather laborious detail over the last few days what we feel the benefits are going to be.
Once again, I'm hoping we will get some support from our friends across the floor for this valuable project.
Ms. Buckway: One point the minister made when this project was initially announced was that the cost was going to be $1,000 per residence. In general debate over the last few days, it has become painfully obvious that that isn't the case. Some Yukoners will be paying far more because they live in an area with fewer people, or their road is longer. The minister went out and raised the expectations of Yukoners who lived in rural areas: "You're all going to get phones for $1,000." Well, Mr. Speaker, they aren't all going to get this service and, in some areas, the cost will be several thousands of dollars. Why wasn't the minister upfront with Yukoners on the real cost of this program?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I don't believe I led people to believe that at all. I believe that when we talked about it we said that the optimum cost we were seeking was $1,000.
By the way, the member is mixing up a few matters here. Her initial question had to do with the agreement with Northwestel. Now she's speaking about a separate component of the Connect Yukon project when she's talking about rural telephones.
We identified over 800 lots as having the potential for expansion of phone service, which I would assume that the member, being a rural representative, would have some support for. I would assume that she is interested in seeing phone service expanded to her constituents in Deep Creek and areas out in Laberge. I'm astonished that she's not. This is completely baffling. We have said that the vast majority of those lots that are unserviced will get phone service. The target figure is $1,000. We feel that this is going to be a benefit to people in areas like Mount Lorne, Marsh Lake and Lake Laberge. I'm astonished that the member is now opposed to it.
Ms. Buckway: In Hansard on April 13, 1995, I found this statement. "Given that the minister and his government are in charge of the agenda, my job here is also to discover precisely what that agenda involves, which is what I am doing. I will not be put off by someone who says that asking any questions about it indicates I am against it." That was the current Government Leader speaking when he was in opposition. I find it curious that the Government Leader has now wholeheartedly adopted the same position he railed against - and, in fact, has had his whole caucus adopt it.
Mr. Speaker, there are more and more unanswered questions about Connect Yukon. The government announced the project before the deal was signed. The real cost to rural Yukoners is still unknown, and the minister said yesterday that if the $4 million he's supposed to get from the CRTC national fund isn't forthcoming then, "We will proceed regardless, by means of just our own funds."
First of all, this fund doesn't exist. Second, it is not guaranteed that the fund will ever be created. Third, if the fund is created, there is no guarantee that the Yukon will get any of it. Yet the minister has talked about receiving $4 million from this fund like it's a done deal. If it is instead a dead deal, what will the minister do? What government programs will he cut to make up for this shortfall?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: We won't be cutting any programs and I'll tell you one thing we won't do, we won't sit around and wring our hands like the Liberals and hope - hope - that the largesse of the federal government comes down. The Liberal Party is noted for its ability to sit and do nothing by means of royal commissions and every other stalling technique; that's precisely what we've seen from the Liberal Party. We intend to make this happen.
I would refer the member back to the press release on October 14; my quote was that there are still at least 800 homes and businesses in rural areas without basic telephone service. As we move into the increasingly connected world of the 21st century, it is imperative that basic telephone service is available to as many Yukoners as possible. I later note that the government argued that a reasonable cost to Yukon lot owners for the installation of phone service would be about $1,000, and that's what we set as where we were working form.
With respect to the CRTC fund, I said that we were hoping to recover funds from the CRTC high-cost serving area fund; however, if that fund does not produce the kind of revenues that we have hoped for, are we to sit there and say, "Okay, well, because it isn't there, we'll simply abandon rural Yukoners to not having rural phone service." Now, that may be the Liberal position; they may choose to say, "Well, there's nothing we can do; there's nothing we can do; we don't have enough money". We're not prepared to do that. We're prepared to move ahead.
Question re: Math marks, grades 11 and 12
Mr. Phillips: My question is for the Minister of Education. Two days ago, I raised a number of questions regarding Yukon students' proficiency in math, in response to the grade 12 math departmental exams where over 36 percent of Yukon students failed.
When asked why the marks have dropped so dramatically over the past two or three years, the minister quickly pointed out that all Canadian youth are experiencing the same difficulties.
It appears, Mr. Speaker, from the minister's response that it is okay to have poor results just because the rest of the country is as well. She pointed out that, in the Yukon, we have new mathematics curriculum that is also in place in the provinces and the territories. While I understand that Yukon students are not the only ones who are experiencing difficulties when it comes to problem-solving, I'd like to ask the minister why it is that students in British Columbia, who follow the same curriculum as we do in the Yukon, out-performed Yukon students considerably over the past year.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, I always have to check the facts that that member alleges to be true before I accept his proposition and comment on why things may be so. Often his facts are wrong.
Mr. Speaker, the number of students who took the math 12 examination in the last couple of years has been higher. The previous administration, while it was in office, had a policy that the entrance barrier was set at 60 percent in order for a student to get into the math 12 program.
We have lowered that barrier. We felt that that entrance requirement was artificially high. Students who achieve a pass, which is a 50-percent mark, are going into math. In the 1998 year - which is the year that he's referring to, the pass-fail rate - we had an exceptionally higher number of students who wrote the exam. This may have been a contributing factor.
Mr. Phillips: What an excuse - we have lowered that barrier. Instead of improving and working to have the students improve, we lowered the barrier. Mr. Speaker, that doesn't help the students in the real world when they graduate, if they can graduate, with a lowered barrier. It's the NDP educate-to-the-lowest-common-denominator theory, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, in 1998-99, the grade 12 math departmental marks of students in British Columbia show a 17-percent failure rate. By comparison, Mr. Speaker, the grade 12 math departmental marks of students in the Yukon show a 36-percent failure rate. There's a tremendous difference, and this is cause for concern, particularly when we look back three years ago, when Yukon students' marks were as much as 10 percent higher than the B.C. marks.
The minister can say all she wants, Mr. Speaker, but it doesn't change the fact that Yukon students are not doing as well as our B.C. counterparts in the same subjects. I'd like to ask the minister if she's now prepared to admit there's a problem, and will she meet with the partners of education, and will she commit to making additional resources available to help solve the problem?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, I'm meeting with partners of education on a regular basis, and I will continue to do so.
I want to respond to the assertions that the member makes in his preambles, though - his comments about how the Yukon Party put a tremendous emphasis on reading and writing and arithmetic. That's very important. We have put additional resources into supporting the new math curriculum, but, Mr. Speaker, we also recognize the significance of courses in science and history and geography and physics and chemistry and biology, conflict resolution skills, music education, computer skills.
We have students who are doing extraordinarily well, who are winning prizes nationally in any number of subjects, and we're going to continue to support them, as well as providing the resources needed to implement the new math curriculum.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Speaker, maybe we should change the name of this particular part of our agenda to "answer period". I'm trying to get an answer from the minister.
I pointed out that there's a problem, Mr. Speaker, with our math marks. It has been going down three years in a row. The minister announced today that the reason it has gone down is because they lowered the bar - they lowered the bar.
Mr. Speaker, what I want the minister to do is to please, for the sake of these kids, recognize that there's a problem - recognize there's a problem - and do something about it by applying new resources to it to help the kids out. They may do well in music, but if they don't have math, they won't do real well in the real world of today. That's what I'm asking the minister to work on.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, that's the member standing up there, asking a question about math. That's the party that didn't know the difference between four and three when it comes to the number of seats in this House.
I answered the question. The member asked me if I was prepared to meet with education partners, and I told him that I am and that's ongoing. The member asked if I agreed that it's important to have support for the students so they can do better in math. Yes, that's why we have additional resources in curriculum support and are implementing new math curriculum. Students need math problem-solving ability. We are providing resources to help students get that instruction and do well in math.
Question re: Minister of Community and Transportation Services, apology requested of
Mr. Jenkins: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services.
Mr. Speaker, this minister is developing a disturbing trend of attacking people, both in this House and in the media. The minister has already had to apologize to the leader of the official opposition for a disparaging remark he made about women. Now, he is accusing a member of the Marsh Lake Citizens Advocacy Organization of falling out of a tree and landing on his head.
As a minister of the Crown, the minister has a duty and responsibility to listen to what people have to say. Even if he doesn't agree with their views or what they have to say, he has the duty to try to calm the waters, not to stir them up. I would ask the minister if he would offer an apology to the individual for this unfortunate remark.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly not, Mr. Speaker. Certainly not. I do believe that when I get disparaging comments directed at me and senior people within my department - I'm called racist. I have absolutely nothing to apologize for. What I do have to applaud is the good work this government has done in defining community and working with community, listening to the people speak for their rights, and working with them to ensure that their rights are heard and adhered to.
Mr. Jenkins: But we all know that the minister is not a racist. All members of the House will attest to that. I'm not defending the comment in the letter about the actions of the minister being racially motivated. The point I'm trying to make is that the minister shouldn't be going around, personally attacking people in the media or in this House when he doesn't agree with their point of view. The minister can say he disagrees with them, rather than implying they're crazy. Does the minister not agree?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, I can say that maybe in the world today, where everybody has to live to be politically correct, it's certainly not my case. I will say what is on my mind. I will speak for my constituents, and I will speak for myself and say my personal feelings.
When somebody has the audacity to put into a letter and speak from their own personal initiative as the letter is signed - if the Member for Klondike will so wish to look at it - and from a personal point of view, I will take that as upsetting news. I will correct the record, and I will do it in a manner that I am. If I am not politically correct, maybe that's what we need.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, I believe this minister is being overly sensitive. He's letting his emotions cloud his judgment. Implying that someone is crazy because they are questioning the motives or actions of the government isn't going to help resolve the issues that are being raised.
So I would ask the minister to issue an apology and address fairly the concerns being raised. That's what I'm asking.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Speaker, if the member wants me to apologize, I absolutely will not apologize for the comment. I will stand by the comment. I had not implied in there the word "crazy" as is coming from the Member for Klondike. Not from me. I have nothing to apologize for. I will continue to represent the department as such, doing the good things we are and the infrastructure work that we do within communities. We'll continue to listen to communities so that communities will have a voice. I will not direct people. I will work with people, and I will continue to do that fine work, which I am very proud of.
Question re: Connect Yukon project, telephone service to rural customers
Ms. Buckway: Mr. Speaker, I have some further questions for the Minister of Government Services about Connect Yukon.
Wednesday, in general debate, the minister said, "On the rural telephones, we don't have an agreement with Northwestel. Our focus with Northwestel has been on telecom infrastructure." He then said, "Northwestel may or may not choose to bid on some of these areas. They may choose to bid to deliver in certain areas, and other companies may choose to bid in other areas. What we've tried to do is keep the market relatively open on the phones." The minister also suggested that you could bring in Fred's Telephone Service to Mendenhall, for example. So, we'll have Northwestel providing the infrastructure - in effect getting the service to a point on the highway near a service area. Then a service provider - possibly Northwestel, possibly Fred's Telephone Service, maybe an Internet service provider who has decided to branch out into telephones - will get the service from there to residents of the area.
Is that what the minister is saying?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I think I have been fairly clear in saying that our agreement with Northwestel has been to develop the infrastructure, primarily the microwave capacity, for data and improved Internet service, specifically with respect to the 17 rural communities.
With respect to the rural telephone service, we're not suggesting that only one company could do that. The fact is that we have entered into the agreement with Northwestel because they have the overall telecom infrastructure in this territory, and if we're going to develop that capacity, for us to try to duplicate that would be absurd.
However, in regard to rural telephone service, there are a number of people who have made suggestions. As a matter of fact, I know there are people actively working in this field who have suggested they could deliver phone service to a particular community.
Clearly, we don't want to exclude people in that realm. That would not be fair, so we have said that, on the rural telephone service, we're willing to deal with whomever can produce a viable product at a reasonable cost that meets certain standards that we have, in terms of capacity, and I think I have made reference before to being able to sustain 56K and so on.
So, I don't see that as being particularly problematic.
Ms. Buckway: I wasn't suggesting it was problematic. I was merely looking for information.
Mr. Speaker, telephone companies are required to be licensed by the CRTC. If the minister is planning on opening up the bidding on Connect Yukon phone service to other companies, there's one huge pile of work that has to be done, and a new local company would stand very little chance of getting their licensing in place in time to participate on the schedule the minister has set forth.
The government has not done sufficient planning to meet its own deadlines. Can the minister confirm this?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: We have done sufficient planning to meet our own deadlines. The onus is not on us as a service provider, in terms of going into an area, but we have had representation from some people who feel they could deliver a phone service.
Now, if there are regulatory hurdles for those companies to overcome, that is a matter for them to do. We have said that this is our goal. We are aiming at achieving this within two years. The member is now suggesting that we should put this off. Is that her intention, that we should delay this project?
Ms. Buckway: The member is not at all suggesting that we should put this off. However, the member is suggesting that, since this is a relatively recent component, the minister had only mentioned this for the first time yesterday in the House that Northwestel wouldn't be providing the service to the door. In the interests of local hire it would be nice to see local companies doing this work. I am merely suggesting that the time schedule is a little compressed for them to jump through all the hurdles.
Would the minister not agree?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, not at all. We've had some people come forward who have expressed an interested in following up on this opportunity. We have been quite clear, I believe as far back as October 14, when we brought out the press release.
We indicated that we will be seeking technical proposals from prospective service providers - not from Northwestel but from prospective service providers. Now, it may be that Northwestel may choose to bid on some areas and choose not to bid on other areas. What we've suggested is that we want to leave this relatively open. We have had representation from some providers who can say that they can provide a particular type of service. Whether or not that service can meet the technical specifications that we have put forward is another matter, and that will have to be evaluated.
It will also have to be evaluated on cost, so we have said that we're interested in people who have ideas, who feel that they can meet this, to come forward, and we're interested in their proposals.
Question re: Resource development, conflicting messages from government
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Government Leader. The hallmark of this NDP government is the conflicting messages it continues to send out to resource investors and environmentalists.
The Government Leader will recall his answer to my question about the NDP's position on oil and gas development on the winter range of the Porcupine caribou herd. Prior to the 1996 election, the NDP position was "no development". After the election it was "development". When I asked the Government Leader about when he was telling the truth about the NDP position on development - before the election or after the election - his reply to me, Mr. Speaker, was neither.
Now we have his government stating contradictory messages over the 32 claims staked in the Fishing Branch. First, the government said on November 10 that it was sending a letter to Ottawa challenging the claims, and, finally, on December 6, I got the Minister of Renewable Resources to admit that no letter was sent or was going to be sent. In the meantime, Mr. Speaker, we have the Minister of Economic Development in England trying to encourage resource investment in the Yukon. My question to the Government Leader: does he not see that these mixed messages are having a negative impact on the Yukon's economy?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I can't disagree with the member more than I will disagree with him now, on any subject. The member is suggesting that either we must have mining in the territory, or there must be environmental protection. Now, when the member led his party, when he was in government, to sign the protected areas strategy and commit to a protected areas network to the year 2000, was he telling the truth to the Yukon public? Did he believe what he was saying? Because now, Mr. Speaker, when the Government of the Yukon, the NDP government, provides tax breaks to miners, does more geoscience work, promotes mining investment in this territory, pursues a protected areas strategy, works with communities to develop a protected areas network, he is saying that that's a mixed message. I'm saying that's a balanced message, Mr. Speaker. I'm saying it is a responsible message, and I think there is substantial support, not only in the Yukon but outside the Yukon. I have spoken to many mining companies who don't share that member's opinion about the investment climate in this territory.
Mr. Ostashek: They're all in South America, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, let me give the Government Leader another example of his mixed messages.
On November 24 in this House, the Yukon Party recommended a resource road be built in the southeastern Yukon. On November 26, the MLA for Watson Lake said that the NDP government was way ahead of us and that such a road had been in the planning for three years - three years this road had been in planning.
Then, Mr. Speaker, on December 2, the same MLA stated that there's already plenty of road access to resources in the area, so our proposal wasn't needed.
Can the Government Leader advise the House which story is true?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Speaker, for the listening public, they must be completely confused by the Yukon Party. I certainly get confused often by the messages that the members opposite put forward.
If we're saying, Mr. Speaker, that, on the one hand, we want some development and we also want environmental protection, this is not necessarily a conflict.
The members of the Yukon Party may think it's a conflict, but it's not necessarily a conflict. When we say that we have made, in the long term and through the land claims negotiations, allowances for a road into the southeast and into the gas fields, that's not saying that in the short term we don't already have good resource access to the timber stands in the Watson Lake area.
So, both are, in fact, true. Both are, in fact, pro-development - in terms of their nature, in terms of wanting to encourage activity - and both respect the balanced agenda of the NDP government.
So, the member opposite, who wants to think black and white, can only think in black and white: you must only have development, and you can't take any real action to protect the environment. It's a position, Mr. Speaker, that the Yukon people have soundly rejected. He tried it, and the people soundly rejected it.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, Mr. Speaker, you know, I have to apologize to the Government Leader if he's annoyed with the question, but the fact remains it was his caucus member - the Member for Watson Lake - who said our proposal wasn't needed.
That's what he said. The people of Watson Lake and the First Nations are the ones who must really be confused by this MLA's statements. So, I'd like to ask the Government Leader to clearly spell out what the government's interest is in building a road. Is there a government interest in building a resource road to southeast Yukon - yes or no?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Speaker, with the greatest respect, the only thing I find annoying, if he wants to know, is confusing questions - and confused questions.
With respect to the proposition the members opposite put forward, they were saying that not only do they want a road easement into the southeast Yukon, they were asking the government where the money was in the budget for the road now.
So, what we're saying is, yes, we have made allowances for a road into the southeast Yukon because that makes good, long-term sense for the territorial economy, and we've made allowances during the land claims negotiations for that route. But we're also saying that we don't need to build a road right now. We don't need to have money in the budget for next June to start building a road now, because we have good access to timber stands in the area right now. We don't need to build the road immediately. But we have taken action to ensure that the road can happen when we want it to happen.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
GOVERNMENT PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS
Clerk: Motion No. 199, standing in the name of Mr. Hardy.
Motion No. 199
Speaker: It is moved by the Member for Whitehorse Centre
THAT it is the opinion of this House that
(1) Rules set by the World Trade Organization (WTO) govern the flow of trillions of dollars of economic activity across the borders of the world;
(2) The effect of these rules can include restrictions on the formulation of sustainable development, environmental, labour and social policies, thereby threatening the exercise of national self-determination and democratic control of the economic order; and
(3) The WTO has failed to integrate into trade policy the concerns of people, still conducts most of its business behind closed doors, and has been slow to develop relations with non-governmental organizations representing other than corporate interests; and
THAT this House urges the Government of Canada, as a member of the WTO, to impress upon other member nations the need to practice a new policy of openness which, at a minimum, will ensure the building of structures for the meaningful participation of all citizens, including environmental, labour, social justice and other NGOs, in all decisions on trade liberalization.
Mr. Hardy: Senator Tom Haydon, who was arrested during a legendary anti-Vietnam War demonstration in Chicago in 1968, was on the streets minutes before the curfew came into effect on Tuesday in Seattle. "Yesterday," - and this was his comment - "no one knew what the WTO was. Today, the whole of America knows. It is a household word, and they know it is bad. A little tear gas is no problem."
To expand slightly on that, it's more than just the whole of America knowing - the whole world finally knows what the WTO is.
"To give you an idea of what brought that about, I'd like to read a few selections from newspapers, from media outlets.
"Police in full riot gear, thousands of protesters gasping amid billowing white clouds of tear gas. Bloody faces, shattered store windows. The images of disorder in Seattle this week evoke, for millions of Americans, eerie memories of the turbulent 1960s, when anti-Vietnam War protests and the struggles of the civil rights movements seared the nation."
In our national newspaper, as they so like to proclaim, even though they do have competition, it seems, "A state of emergency was declared in Seattle last night after an extraordinary day of civil unrest that threw a global trade meeting into disarray and left the city looking like a war zone. Mayor Paul Schell imposed a 7 p.m. to dawn curfew on downtown streets after thousands of protesters achieved their goal of thwarting the opening ceremonies of the World Trade Organization conference.
"About 300 armed state patrol officers and two units of unarmed national guardsmen have been ordered to keep the streets clear this morning.
"President Bill Clinton, who was supposed to arrive in Seattle, was escorted by armed guards through the streets. An armoured truck roared up carrying riot police. Dozens more converged on other areas, lining up across the road. Again, the air soon filled with tear gas and thick clouds of smoke from a series of concussion grenades. Then a fire broke out, enveloping both police and protestors, and more smoke, producing scenes like never before witnessed in Seattle.
"In other confrontations, police used tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets to disperse anti-WTO crowds blockading the streets leading to the WTO conference sites."
My colleague from Kluane just passed me a newspaper. I was reading an article there recently. A woman went to Seattle with her 10-year-old child, and a little excerpt from there is: "It sounded like shots, and then people screamed and ran and gas floated down the street, acrid and strange-smelling. 'Don't run,' someone yelled. 'Don't panic,' but we bolted. We ran up the side-street."
This is a conference that was being held in Seattle.
This fall, the most powerful legislative and judicial body on the planet, the World Trade Organization, met in Seattle from November 29 through December 3 for the third ministerial summit. In the four years of its existence, the WTO has established a set of global trade and commerce rules that benefit only multinational corporations while ignoring the needs of communities, workers and the environment, and that is probably why there was so much protest.
What is the World Trade Organization? By their own words, and very briefly, the World Trade Organization, the WTO, is the only international organization dealing with the global rules of trade between nations. Its main function is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible.
And you can add whatever you like to that, because that is their goal and they'll achieve it no matter what, no matter how many violations - human rights violations - it takes. And that is an example of what type of organization we're talking about here. Look on their page, their Internet page. There's a picture, I guess, that symbolizes what they stand for, and it's a picture of a closed door. It's a wall with a closed door, and that has been probably the most fundamental problem with the World Trade Organization so far today in its four years in existence. It is the most powerful international institution in the world.
The WTO was established in 1995 at the conclusion of the Uruguay round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, known as GATT. The WTO enforces several sets of trade rules: the GATT, whose mandate is to eliminate all remaining tariffs and non-tariff barriers to the movement of capital and goods across nation-state borders; the General Agreement on Trade and Services, mandated to do the same in the area of services; trade-related intellectual property measures, which sets enforceable global rules on patents, copyrights and trademarks; trade-related investment measures, which dictates what governments can and cannot do in regulating foreign investment; the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards Agreement, which sets constraints on government policies relating to food safety, and animal and plant health; the Financial Service Agreement, established to remove obstacles to the free movement of financial service corporations, including banks and insurance companies; the Agreement on Agriculture, which sets out the rules on the international food trade and restricts domestic agricultural policy; and several other dealings with information, technology and telecommunications.
I have grave concerns about the WTO, along with many other people in this world. In Seattle, there were 60,000 demonstrators in the streets, trying to be heard, while there were 134 countries trying to sit behind doors to make a decision that would affect how their country runs, the democracy in their country, the rights in their country, the environmental safety standards, and all the other areas that I've just mentioned, through the agreements that they monitor.
Unlike any other global institution, the WTO has both a legislative and judicial authority to challenge laws, policies and programs of countries that do not conform to the WTO rules and strike them down, that are seen to be restrictive to trade.
Cases are decided in secret by a panel of three trade bureaucrats. Once a WTO ruling is made, worldwide conformity is required. A country is obligated to harmonize its laws, or face the prospect of perpetual trade sanctions or fines.
The WTO, which contains no minimum standards to protect the environment, labour rights, social programs or cultural diversity, has already been used to strike down a number of key nation-state environmental, food, safety, and human rights laws. It has, in fact, become the most powerful tool of transnational corporations that have worked hand-in-hand with the trade bureaucrats in Geneva and Washington and Ottawa to establish what is essentially a system of global corporate governments.
What was being proposed in Seattle included the return of some key elements of the multilateral agreement on investment, otherwise known as MAI - and on which I was fortunate enough to represent this Legislature at a hearing, and brought forward a motion on that - which was defeated in 1998 at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, due in large part to a worldwide civil society opposition.
These proposals may take place either through direct new talks on investment, or through negotiations for codes on government procurement and competition policy, and a subsidiary code based on the principle of national treatment.
To date the WTO has served only big business interests, and not those of citizens or democracy.
The liberalization of the food trade has resulted in devastation for family farmers around the world and promoted the growth of giant transnational food corporations that, quite frankly, are sucking the lifeblood out of rural communities. The rate of natural resource extraction has greatly increased in the last five years of WTO rule, as has the gap between the rich and poor in every country, as well as between countries. There is a time when people must stand up.
What are some of the impacts, some of the rulings that Canada has been involved in, whether we've won them or not? Well, recently the WTO ruled against Canada protecting its own magazine industry. It upheld the American right to dump their magazines in this country and cream off the advertising dollars. If we didn't make the deal, they were going to penalize our steel industry. Now, does that make sense? But they supposedly have the right to do it.
An article on the WTO by Brian Brett, a former writer-in-residence up here - some people probably remember him - recently appeared in the local paper, and he commented, "The manufacture of steel has nothing to do with the right of your children to read about their own country." But that's unfree trade for you. That's what we have to face.
It's also important to recognize that Canada has not only been on the losing end of many of these rulings, but has - and to probably a great deal of shame - used the WTO trade dispute mechanism to challenge initiatives of other governments to safeguard environmental safety or other domestic standards, those that they are trying to protect. Canada has joined challenges to U.S. marine laws. Canada has recently filed a WTO challenge against a ban on asbestos imposed by the government of France. Now, Canada is fighting to ensure that they can ship asbestos to France, although France does not want it for health and safety reasons.
And, knowing the way the WTO has ruled in the past, Canada will win that, and France will lose, and then the people who have to work in the asbestos industry will also lose, and the people who have to live in structures that have asbestos within them will also lose. But the WTO will rule in favour of the business and not the people. It will rule in favour of the businesses of multinational corporations and not of the country.
So, the country, in cases such as that, does not have the option to say, "We will not have asbestos used in our country," because the WTO will overrule it or rule in favour of Canada, and thereby France will have to abide by it.
The WTO recently ruled in Canada's favour again, forcing France to buy our hormone-enhanced beef. In fact, the European Union law banning imports of beef produced with growth hormones was ruled in violation of international trade rules. Now, that's a major victory for the agrochemical giant, Monsanto, which produces the hormones, and for the American and Canadian cow industry that uses them.
This certainly bodes ill for the European Union law now requiring labelling of genetically engineered food.
So, on top of the asbestos, France is also not allowed to say, "We will not have growth hormone beef in our country." That's a decision by its people. They do not want it. They have probably sent the message out. They have probably asked that, "If you are going to ship beef to our country, if you're going to sell in our country, leave the growth hormone out of it."
The companies that produce the growth hormone and that own huge farms, as it has become, as we have seen the demise of many of the family farms - and I have seen a lot of them. I was born on a farm. Now they're owned by multinationals or conglomerates.
Often a conglomerate also produces many of the chemicals that are used. They are going to be allowed to ship their growth-hormone-enhanced beef to France, whether France likes it or not. And if France does try to stop it, they'll be penalized, and the people there will have to eat it. If there are sicknesses and illnesses, so be it. The rights of the marketplace will prevail in this one. The rights of the WTO will prevail in this one. And once again, democracy is assaulted. Once again, the people who elect our governments are watching their governments' inability to enact laws and policies that protect them, because the most powerful organization in the world, the WTO, can overrule them. The WTO is accountable to no one, other than its masters, which seem to be the corporations, the multinationals.
We should be appalled that our government has participated in successful actions to have laws that protect human health swept aside - laws that sweep aside a democracy of another country, the right for them to determine. There's also the old saying, "What goes around, comes around". Our own health and environmental laws are ultimately on the chopping block. I have some examples. In January 1996, Venezuela and Brazil filed a challenge against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over its clean air act. Their petroleum products couldn't meet the clean air standards that had been established to reduce pollution and smog-causing emissions. The WTO ruled that the U.S. discriminated against foreign gas producers and violated GATT. As a result, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it was changing the Clean Air Act to comply with the WTO ruling.
So let me get this straight. The most powerful country in the world has an act, and it was challenged under the WTO, and under GATT, and now they have to rewrite that act - the most powerful country in the world bowing down to the WTO and its rulings.
Unfortunately, it's called the Clean Air Act - something that is for the protection of its citizens, for the protection of its country and the environment, and it's overruled as well. Mexico successfully challenged the U.S. Marine Mammal Act, which places an embargo on tuna caught through methods that kill dolphins. They claim that it constituted unfair discrimination against foreign competitors and, rather than change their methods of fishing, they succeeded in having the U.S. law declared illegal under the GATT rules - another victory, and who suffers? The environment, once again.
There are nets made and there are methods of fishing that ensure that dolphins aren't caught up with the tuna, but they won't change their method of fishing. It's easier to go to the WTO and get a ruling and continue along that path. Once again, the U.S. law was defeated - the most powerful country in the world.
The U.S. law restricting the import of shrimp from countries whose fishermen catch them with methods that kill endangered sea turtles has been challenged and will likely meet a similar fate. At the demonstration, if anybody was watching it on TV, or in the newspapers, they would have seen some of the citizens dressed up as turtles. That was symbolic. That was a symbolic move to point out a challenge by one country to another country, and it would probably be overruled, with the end result being that the sea turtles will have a very good chance of becoming extinct. There are methods to fish for shrimp without endangering the sea turtles but, instead of making a ruling that would protect the sea turtles, instead of making a ruling that would protect the clean air, instead of making a ruling that would ensure that there were no growth hormones shipped, they make a ruling that protects the companies, or protects the businesses and allows them to exploit and damage the environment and override a democracy.
Ultimately, it all comes down to profit. It doesn't come down to the betterment of society or the citizens of the country. It comes down, basically, to profit.
The U.S. was granted authority by the WTO to impose $200 million in trade sanctions against European imports, because the European Union favoured importing bananas from their former colonies, instead of from the giant U.S. agricorporation that operates from Central America. They're allowed to impose $200 million in trade sanctions now, because the European Union, a multitude of countries, wants to ship bananas from another region, from their former colonies. It wants to support them, wants to spread the money around maybe. Because of that, they now have $200 million in trade sanctions.
Now, the Council of Canadians, along with other organizations in Canada and throughout the world has the following set of demands regarding talks at WTO, and I'd like to go over some of them. I think they're very important and should be considered and should be acted upon, and our federal government should be acting on them and taking these forward. It should at least be working with organizations such as the Council of Canadians to get direction.
(1) The cessation of negotiations to start a whole new round, and an agreement not to bring any new issues to the table.
(2) An evaluation of existing trade rules on sustainable development, social programs, and human and workers' rights.
(3) A retrospective review on the WTO's impact on development, democracy and environmental sustainability, health, human rights, labour rights, and the lives of women and children.
(4) A commitment to oppose the introduction of global investment treaty negotiations or any new investment rules in the WTO;
(5) The beginning of a real and sincere dialogue with civil society, along with the appropriate institutional mechanisms for doing so;
(6) A commitment to democracy within the WTO itself, both with regard to the bigger nations having so much power over the smaller, but with the corporations having so much more clout and access to the power structures than civil society.
They also have some further demands of the removal of the most difficult aspects of the WTO, and calls on the Canadian government, and I support these ones as well.
(1) Eliminate the ability of the WTO trade rules to overturn nation-state laws and practices that protect health, the environment, development and human rights.
(2) Adopt a precautionary principle and high international standards on health and the environment and food safety.
(3) Create enforcement measurements in multilateral environmental agreements and other international agreements on social labour and human rights, and remove the WTO supremacy clauses contained in MEAs, multilateral environmental agreements, where they currently exist.
(4) Protect local, national and international environmental and social laws from unfair challenges by ensuring that all relevant dispute forums are required to give a presumption of validity to national and local laws and policies.
(5) Ensure that there is full transparency and accountability within the DSM body and allow civil society intervener status and dispute settlement hearings.
(6) Resist the adoption of any new rules allowing corporations to take out patents on life forms - human, animal and plant life, so-called bio-piracy - through any efforts to reopen section 27.3(b) of the TRIP Agreement.
I'd like to go over some reasons to oppose the World Trade Organization. The WTO is not a democratic institution, yet its policies impact all aspects of society and the planet. The WTO rules are written by and for corporations with inside access to the negotiations. For example, the U.S. trade representative relies on its 17 industry sector advisory committees to provide input into trade negotiations. Citizen input by consumer, environmental, human rights and labour organizations is consistently ignored. Even requests for information are denied, and the proceedings are held in secret - one of the reasons why you see such a huge demonstration.
The WTO's dispute panels, which rule on whether domestic laws are barriers to trade and should, therefore, be abolished, consist of three trade bureaucrats, which I have already mentioned, who are not screened for conflicts of interest. For example, in the tuna/dolphin case that Mexico filed against the U.S., which forced, as I said earlier, the U.S. to repeal its law that barred tuna from being caught by mile-long nets that kill hundreds of thousands of dolphins each year, one of the judges was from the corporate front group that lobbied on behalf of the Mexican government for NAFTA.
The WTO has refused to address the impacts of free trade on labour rights, despite the fact that countries that actively enforce labour rights are disadvantaged by countries that consistently violate international labour conventions. Many developing countries, such as Mexico, contend that labour standards constitute a barrier to free trade for countries whose competitive advantage in the global economy is cheap labour.
Potential solutions to labour and human rights abuses are blocked by the WTO, which has ruled that it is illegal for a government to ban a product based on the way it is produced. So, in other words, you can have child labour. We are not allowed to say, "No, you're not going to bring in products that have child labour."
Governments cannot take into account the behaviour of companies that do business with dictatorships - vicious dictatorships. Pinochet is an example, as are the dictatorships that exist in Burma. What that basically means is that these people in the WTO interest have managed to get rid of sanctions to deal with dictatorships with abuses in a country. So, we have to settle for all-out war instead. That's almost what they're doing.
Now, it's an interesting argument about the labour standards. Proponents of the WTO like to say that, if you make labour standards, the developing countries are going to be at a disadvantage. It's going to be too difficult for them to build their economies and, therefore, they're always going to be poor.
Well, I would like to put it to people that the proponents are not the ones working in the slave factories. They're not the 10, 12 and 14 year old kids who are bent, for 12 hours a day, over a sewing machine, or gluing Nike soles on to shoes, while their health is being destroyed. They're not the proponents. They're not the ones being asked. They're not the mothers, whose children are working in these factories, with bars on their windows, who don't have a family life. They're not the ones who have to sell their children into slave labour to these factories.
Who are these proponents? That's what I ask. How can somebody stand in their $1,000 suit and say they speak for the poor when they've never been in the factories.
When they speak for the poor, they say, "Oh, no, no, it's all right for them. It's all right for them to get paid $2 a day. It's all right for them to work 12 hours a day, six days a week. It's all right for them to have a contract that they can't get out of. It's all right for them to have safety and health standards that are so far below anything in the industrialized countries, and in most cases, their life expectancy is shortened. It's all right for them to lose their health, their education, to lose parts of their limbs by unsafe machinery."
Speaking of education, they never have a chance to learn. They never have a chance to go to school. I say to let the people speak, and this is where the WTO falls down.
This is the first open meeting they have had, and 60,000 people demonstrated, just in one city alone. There were demonstrations all over the world, and now people are aware of what the WTO is and what our countries and our governments are signing off.
It's not a race to the top. I'll tell you that right now. It's not that the Third World countries or the developing countries are going to come up to our standards, because that's not what has happened over the last few years. It's the opposite. We're going down.
You can go into Toronto today and see sweatshops. You can see young children not in school, working. You can see single parents working, working 12, 14, 16 hours a day - a violation of our labour standards. And that has been on an increase for the last five years - a huge increase. More and more kids are not being fed properly. More and more children are not getting opportunities for education.
I was at a conference, and it was on the economic integration of the Americas. It was in Quebec. There was a phenomenal speaker, and I'll quote him later on, Oscar Sánchez, who opened the conference. And he said, more than anything else what should be traded among countries is education. More than anything else, what's needed is education of the children, the people of the country. Not opening factories that allow such abuse, that allow the taking of life just so that the industrial countries, Canada - great country - can wear Nike shoes and Nike shirts so they can suffer. There is nothing wrong with setting a standard and making those corporations, the multinationals, rise up and meet those standards. They can do it, but they hide behind an organization like the WTO and the other agreements. And what's it for? $10 billion is not enough profit for a company? What's a human being worth? A hundred billion dollars, one man?
We have trade deals that allow exploitation of whole villages. Children are born knowing that they'll probably end up working in the factory and will have a very short life, will not have education. That same company will sign a $20-million or $30-million deal with a sports figure but will not give another dollar an hour, or another dollar a day, to the children and people who work in these factories. They will give $20 million or $30 million to somebody to walk around wearing their shoes or clothes and saying that it's a great product.
This is what trade deals are about; this is what we're allowing. And does Canada have a great history? No, it doesn't. We think we do; we like to think we're a great country. With regard to the international economy, there's an enormous gap in the human rights standards at the international level. There are no international standards on human rights conduct for the transnationals or for the financial system.
The globalized economy operates completely outside the moral consensus on human rights, and we are signatory to that. As a matter of fact, we're beyond signatory. We're the biggest promoters of free trade, NAFTA, WTO, MAI.
Since the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, many treaties have been adopted that have built on the overall framework provided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. One of these treaties is the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966. In celebration of the Magna Carta of human rights, it would be natural that the declaration would be always well-received and supported in Canada. We take great pride in our promotion of human rights. At the international level, we speak out, but sometimes all we do is speak. Sometimes we don't act.
But one of the main drafters of that declaration was a Canadian - something that many people don't know - a guy named John Peters Humphrey.
When it was drafted, there was considerable hostility by the Canadian political right, the business community and the legal profession.
They're opposed to the inclusion of social and economic rights, along with civil and political ones, in the declaration. The rationale behind opposition to the declaration was that human rights issues cause conflicts between nations - brilliant. It is interesting that a similar rationale is being used to justify the Canadian trade policy and its lack of human rights values.
Where are we today? Canada has been proud of its record. We think we're an international crusader for human rights, but what has just been said recently, in the last two weeks? It's a sad day for Canada, when the President of the United States welcomes the opinions of the protestors and acknowledges their principles, while the Canadian trade minister, Pierre Pettigrew, goes on public record stating that human rights have no place in trade negotiations.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Hardy: And, as my colleague states, he climbs over the wall to avoid protestors.
A funny story about that, actually, is that he was walking down the street, and somebody came running toward him, so he took off running, and this guy was chasing him and calling to him. He thought it was a protestor, and, of course, you don't dare talk to a protestor, especially one dressed as a turtle. Now, I can't say if he was dressed as a turtle, but it was a protestor. It ended up being, I believe, the aide for the Swiss embassy who was trying to catch up to him to ask him if he would meet with his minister. I don't know if Pierre Pettigrew ever got caught on that one - probably not. Any person who says that human rights don't have a place in trade negotiations doesn't deserve to represent Canada at trade negotiations.
Now, the U.S. president went even further. He instructed the bureaucrats to include some of the above principles in their international negotiation strategies, while our government kowtows, as Pierre Pettigrew did, to corporate interests. So, the President of the United States was willing to do it. He spoke publicly, spoke openly about it, recognized the rights of the protestors, but our minister didn't, and definitely our prime minister hasn't because I have not heard him speak on it yet.
Maybe that goes back to an incident in Canada, called the APEC, at which, once again, the freedom of expression was denied. Once again, violence was used against peaceful protestors, and we have seen the film clips of that. Of course, the big debate is, did our Prime Minister give instructions, or was he involved in any kind of decision making by the RCMP to use force against peaceful protestors? That's a long, drawn-out affair, and, personally, I hope not. It would be a shame if our Prime Minister actually gave direction in a manner that was against freedom of speech, against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, against peaceful protestors who were protesting against the dictatorship, one that has fallen, but a country that's still in huge turmoil because of what he has left behind.
The WTO threatens democracy as we know it, but democracy has been changing. Some people consider it an organic structure in that it will always adapt and change and grow, expand and contract.
But I have a belief that democracy has been contracting. And there are two rules: one for those that have, and one for those that haven't.
There are provisions in the WTO that make it very difficult for us to enact any type of incentive for small business, community business, any type of incentive for our citizens, labour standards, rights to hire, employment opportunities. And as they grow, as they are developed under the WTO, this most powerful organization, we will find our rights in a local community withdrawn from us. We will find our rights withdrawn because, first of all, the levels of government that we have today will not have the strength to enact those laws. Federal governments will not have the ability to bring forward legislation directed from the people, to bring forward policies directed from the people, because they will be shot down. All levels of government will be affected.
And much of this ties into the same debate that we had with the MAI, which was mostly around investment. They have tried to take the MAI out of where it was defeated by the people of Canada and by other countries, and moved it into the WTO.
There's not even an honest debate. When the people of a country do not want something, they try to move it into another forum, to get what they want. That is the Liberal government that we're facing today. They cannot accept the fact that maybe we're not ready for free trade, under this banner, under the WTO with the phenomenal amount of power they have. What we're seeking is fair trade.
What drives them? It's definitely not the electorate any more, so what's driving this? I don't think it's to anybody's surprise that the people who sit on the boards, the bureaucrats who sit on the councils and the dispute mechanisms are all from corporations - multinational corporations, often generating more money than half the countries that are in the WTO - more power. They're setting the rules. The moment that starts to happen, you start to lose democracy.
We could sit here and think we are going through a form of democracy, but I say something like this will take it away from us. In 10 or 20 years, this will be totally useless. We will do little laws, little changes, but everything we will do will be with this organization hovering over of us. "Ay, you can't do that; oh, sorry, you can't assist that group of people over there, because it contravenes this law that we've made up - without your input, of course."
By creating a supernational court system, which the WTO has, that has the power to economically sanction countries, to force them to comply with its rulings, the WTO has essentially replaced national governments with unelected, unaccountable, corporate-backed governments.
For the past nine years, the European Union has banned beef raised. Nine years - when I said it earlier, it was just an example. They have banned it for nine years - nine years. The WTO ruled that this public health law is a barrier. It has gone - just like that.
So, what does that mean? Governments can no longer act in the public interest. The WTO's most favourite nation provisions requires all WTO member countries to treat each other equally and to treat all corporations from these countries equally, regardless of their track record. Local policies aimed at rewarding companies who hire local residents - something that we do - use domestic materials - something that we do - or adopt environmentally sound practices - something that we work on - are essentially illegal under the WTO.
Under the WTO rules, developing countries are prohibited from following the same policies that developed countries pursued, such as protecting domestic industries until they can be internationally competitive. You can't even do that. You can't even help your own businesses to build - absolutely not.
Where does that take us? Ultimately, that's going to ensure that a very small, controlled group will always be able to keep down a rising star through sanctions. It will always be able to keep down a company that's working closely with its elected representatives. How is a small business supposed to work under this? Everything we do to try to assist our society in the Yukon today is in violation of WTO. It would all have to disappear tomorrow.
What about intellectual property rights, patents, copyrights and trademarks? It all comes at the expense of health and human lives. The organization's support for pharmaceutical companies against governments seeking to protect their people's health has had serious implications for places like Sub-Saharan Africa, where 80 percent of the world's new AIDS cases are found.
The U.S. government, on behalf of the U.S. drug companies, is trying to block developing countries' access to less expensive, generic lifesaving drugs. For example, the South African government has been threatened with a WTO challenge over proposed national health laws that would encourage the use of generic drugs, ban the practice of manufacturers offering economic incentives to doctors who prescribe their products, and institute parallel importing, which allows companies to import drugs from other countries where the drugs are cheaper. That's all banned.
Environment - the WTO is being used by corporations to dismantle hard-won environmental protections. They call them "barriers to trade". In 1993 the very first WTO panel ruled that a regulation of the U.S. Clean Air Act - again, I said it before, I'll say it again - which required both domestic and foreign producers alike to produce cleaner gasoline, was illegal. Recently the WTO declared illegal a provision of the Endangered Species Act that required shrimp - I'll mention it again - sold in the U.S. to be caught with an inexpensive device that allows endangered sea turtles to escape.
The WTO is currently negotiating an agreement that would eliminate tariffs on wood products. That would lead to increased demand for timber -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Hardy: Exactly, as the Member for Watson Lake says - export raw logs. Definitely no manufacturing base would be developed here, especially if the government was asked to assist.
The list goes on and on and on. I want to close my statements here with a few words of a speaker I mentioned earlier - Oscar Sánchez, Nobel Peace Prize winner. He was the president of the Republic of Costa Rica, and the speech was in 1997.
"The ethic that hemispheric democracy owes to itself encompasses everything from Plato's good government of the city to the 'thou shalt not kill' of Moses, from the 'love one another' of Jesus and the 'do not resort to violence' of Ghandi, to the 'we are all equal' of Mandela and Menchú. It can embody all of this because in our Hemisphere, as in no other, the races, the languages, the religions, the virtues, the weaknesses, the joys and the pains of the entire planet converged. This new ethic, constructed on the basis of values rooted in all periods and originating from everywhere in the world, which can be summarized in the practice of solidarity, tolerance and respect for life, dignity and human freedoms, may also serve as a basis of a human and solidaristic rationality." Oscar Sánchez.
Mr. Cable: It's interesting to note how attitudes change over time, as we learn from experience. In Canada, it's not that long ago when the left was singing the praises of world trade, particularly trade between developed and developing countries. It was to be a means of raising living standards in the developing countries.
Well, it hasn't worked out that way. The consumption addicts, the United States and Western Europe and ourselves, just keep raising our appetites and consuming more, and our standards of living, as measured by that consumption, just seems to keep growing.
Many of the developing countries seem to have to keep running faster and faster, just to be standing still.
There's a vague unease in many countries, particularly our own that, in the area of trade, more and more power is being concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer people. These fewer people have the wealth and the cleverness and the clout to make things happen that are beneficial to them, without anybody really looking after the rest of us.
Governments seem influenced by, and helpless in the face of, the power of these global corporate oligarchies. That's the perception, anyway, and there's probably a certain amount of truth to the perception.
That fear of unrestrained power was the underlying cause of the Seattle demonstrations. While everyone may not share some of the goings-on of the demonstrators, they did serve as a wake-up call to the slumbering populations of many countries, including our own.
With our branch-plant economy, we have experienced the power of multinational corporations, first British, then American. We have watched our Canadian-ness slowly frittered away on the altar of free trade. So maybe it is time to step back and have another look at where we, as Canadians, are going, to assess just what it is that we, as Canadians, want to be.
Are we ready for the global village? That debate hasn't taken place in Canada, and it's time to start. A good starting place would be a review of the rules surrounding the World Trade Organization's powers and how it does business. In this time of globalization and the disappearance of the nation-state and the weakening of our national governments, we need to spend more time thinking about international organizations, our international government institutions, and the checks and balances that are necessary to make them work.
The Liberal caucus supports the substance of the motion and will be supporting the motion.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to thank the Member for Whitehorse Centre for bringing this motion forward. I believe it's important for Yukoners, for Canadians, to be fully aware of what is taking place.
Mr. Speaker, many people had not heard of what the WTO was all about until the Seattle incident. Some people might think it's a wrestling organization, and Seattle actually proved that there is a lot of violence involved in this, too. But the WTO is an international organization charged with enforcing a set of trade rules, including the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and Trade Related Intellectual Property Agreements, or TRIPs, and General Agreement on Trades and Services, or GATS, among others. It currently has 134 members, with 33 who are observers.
The central goal of the WTO is to deregulate international trade and, to accomplish this, the WTO rules limit the capacity of governments to regulate international trade or otherwise interfere with the activities of large corporations. In fact, the WTO agreements are little more than an extensive list of policies, laws and regulations that governments can no longer establish or maintain.
Some of these agreements prohibit trade measures, such as control of endangered species trade, or ban on tropical timber import. Others prohibit regulations that might only indirectly influence trade, such as recycling requirements, energy efficiency standards and food safety regulations. Still other rules prescribe government measures that have nothing to do with trade, such as prohibitions against government regulations of the activities of foreign investors.
Mr. Speaker, why would Yukoners and why would Canadians worry about the World Trade Organization? There are many things Yukoners should be worried about. The WTO threatens our democracy.
I ask whether or not even the Liberals, or Yukoners, or Canadians would vote for higher drug prices, or weakened environmental protections, or private health care. I would think the answer is no, but I would question the vote from the Liberals.
If the World Trade Organization continues to have its way, you won't even get a chance to vote on these important issues. The World Trade Organization has the power to force Canada to abandon its policies and programs that Canadians have voted for in a democratic election.
Why, Mr. Speaker, wouldn't the World Trade Organization include issues like protecting our environment? Why wouldn't they include issues that avoid global warming, that are on the minds of many Canadians - the Yukon included, and the world, for that matter?
Why would they not address these important issues? To Yukon, the environment and what has taken place with global warming is important to us - about what could happen 100 years down the road. It's being talked about, more and more, in many of our discussions with provincial ministers across Canada. Some of the things that are coming out of these studies and outlooks over the next 100 years are alarming. For example, the waters off our north coast could rise 20 degrees in temperature in the next 100 years. That's a big problem for us, as Canadians, and the world, in what happens with fish. Why can't this be part of their policies when you talk about trading in automobiles or whatnot? Why isn't this an important issue with the WTO?
Well, Mr. Speaker, the WTO rules protect the rights of global corporations to make profits, but provide no protections for citizens, workers, communities or the environment. The WTO wants to give for-profit, global corporations free access to our health care and our education system. The U.S. negotiators have voiced clearly in wanting new rules to give American companies free access to foreign health care and education systems.
In Canada, of course, this would undermine our medicare and the quality of public education, and Canada would be forced to allow for-profit global corporations into our school system and into our hospitals. I think that, in itself, is a shame. With all that could take place in the World Trade Organization, who speaks on behalf of Yukoners? Who speaks on behalf of Canadians? Well, it's the federal government, the federal Liberals, whom the Yukon Liberals are so closely related to and back them on many of their decisions, whether it is the GST or free trade or even Bill C-68, the gun laws. They back them up on that. Mr. Speaker, the Liberals can't be trusted to fight for Canadians' interests at the WTO.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order
Speaker: The Member for Porter Creek South, on a point of order.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, I don't believe there's a quorum present in the House.
Speaker: Order please. According to Standing Order 3(2) if, at any time during a sitting of the Assembly, the Speaker's attention is drawn to the fact that there does not appear to be a quorum, the Speaker will cause the bells to ring and then do a count.
Speaker: I have shut off the bell and I will do a count.
There are 12 members. A quorum is now present. We will continue debate.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The Member for Porter Creek South doesn't seem to know how to count. We have 12 people in the House.
Mr. Speaker, as soon as I mentioned that the Liberals can't be trusted to fight for Canadians, they stop and interrupt what I had to say about what the Liberals are doing to fight for Canadians at the WTO.
The Liberal government refuses to protect Canada's health care and education systems. Even though the U.S. had placed health care and education on the WTO agenda, Canada's trade minister refuses to rule out an agreement that includes these core public services.
What else are they doing that is upsetting Canadians? What else are the Liberals doing that is upsetting Canadians? Well, the Liberals have sacrificed Canadian farmers at the WTO bargaining table. Mr. Speaker, for a long time we have heard about the problems the prairie provinces have been having with export of their produce and wheat and so on. Although this free trade would basically give Canada some lower prices, for example the importing of eggs could be lower than what is produced in Canada, but what does it do to the quality of life of Canadians? It will force us to shut down our production in Canada, force a lot more people out of work, and we'll still be importing from places other than Canada, to the south.
So, is it a good thing in the long run, on the quality of life for Canadians? I would think not.
What else are the Liberals doing to upset Canadians? Well, the Liberal government refuses to stand up for Canadian citizens, for their workers and the environment. We have issues that are on the table, like clean air, our water - which we consider a valuable resource in the Yukon and in Canada. We've had many discussions on things like bulk water export and what it means to Canada, whether or not this is a tradable item of Canada's resources and, according to the NAFTA - the way it is written up in NAFTA - this is considered a resource that cannot be traded but, yet, we have companies that are challenging those very words, and what it could mean is U.S. companies coming in and looking at our water, wanting to drain our lakes, our streams - reverse them, have them go south in bulk, whether it is by shipment, by containers on trucks or even by pipeline.
Mr. Speaker, this is of big importance to Yukon. It is important to all Canadians that we do not see our waters going south in containers or pipelines, and having our lakes - our precious lakes - drained by the demand for water down south. It is not small business. Water is big business to many people. Just look at a litre of water. What do you pay for a litre of water versus, say, a litre of gasoline?
So a lot of people are looking at this very precious resource. As a matter of fact, I know members in this House are fully aware that the B.C. government is being challenged by a company that was bottling their water in B.C. and now has moved to the States, thinking that they're entitled to bulk water, which is presently in Canada now.
They're being sued for big money - $10.5 billion is what the B.C. government is looking at. So if this ever was a winner on their part, I think Canada would be in trouble with regard to its water. So I think that every effort needs to be made to make sure that this is still considered a resource, and not a good. Once water is put in bottles, of course, it's a good and it can be traded.
Well, Mr. Speaker, what else is the Liberal government - our government - doing to upset Canadians? They want to give foreign corporations the right to sue and intimidate the democratic governments at the WTO, and that's quite evident by what has taken place in Seattle and what has taken place in B.C.
Mr. Speaker, I think that, before Canada negotiates any new trade and investment rules at the World Trade Organization - or any other trade forums - we must secure binding and enforceable rules to protect human rights, core labour standards, cultural diversity and, of course, the environment.
I also think that the health care and education that are being talked about right now must be completely carved out of the WTO agreements, so that governments are free to maintain and develop publicly delivered social programs in these key areas.
And I also think that Canada must not accept any new trade rules at the WTO that would include an investor/state dispute mechanism that allows global corporations to sue and intimidate democraticallyelected governments.
Also, the WTO must become much more open, democratic and inclusive.
Mr. Speaker, the scenes we have seen on TV in Seattle are quite violent, and it is something that we haven't seen for a long time close to home. I feel that the people have spoken in Seattle, because a lot was at stake. We talked about our health care system, our public education, and even the future of our family farms and cultural sovereignty, and again, of course, about the environment, which we will be leaving behind for our children in the future.
Because of the Liberals' failure to act, everything that defines us as Canadians was on the table in Seattle. Thanks to the people who have demonstrated, decisions weren't being made. If the Liberal government came clean with us about what was on the table in Seattle, Canadians would be horrified, just as they were a few years ago, when they discovered that the Liberal government had spent three years negotiating the MAI behind closed doors.
Now, while we're on the Liberal track here, let's read out a few numbers that might be of interest to the members opposite. The number of times that the 1997 Liberal platform mentions health care - 46. The number of times the platform mentioned opening Canada's health care system to global corporations and the WTO - zero.
The amount of time that the MAI would have bound future parliaments to its provisions - 20 years. The amount of time Prime Minister Chrétien spent in Parliament defending Canada's participation in the MAI negotiations - 59 seconds. That's an outrage, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, in closing, I support the Member for Whitehorse Centre's motion. I think that there is a lot to say in regard to the WTO, and I'm sure that we'll hear more from the Liberals and how they might want to backtrack and support their federal counterparts by giving constructive suggestions on how they can improve themselves as a government.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Ostashek: Now, Mr. Speaker, all we're hearing from the NFP in the debate on this motion is the same fear-mongering that we heard from the NDP in the Yukon and in Canada against NAFTA, the same fear-mongering that we heard against the free trade deal, the same old tactics of saying what a detriment this is going to be to all Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, the Member for Whitehorse Centre must really be a frustrated man. He must really be frustrated, locked within a party of ambiguities. And I believe he's sincere in his remarks, the one member over there who really is sincere in his remarks and believes in what he's saying. But here he's locked in a party that fought against free trade, fought against NAFTA. Now he's speaking out against the World Trade Organization, yet the party that he's in power with has made 30 trade missions around the world to communist countries that have devastating records on human rights.
And yet his party - his caucus colleagues - have gone there promoting free trade. He must be very frustrated.
Mr. Speaker, the Member for Whitehorse Centre spoke today of the World Trade Organization being of benefit only to multinational corporations. He spoke of human rights violations. He spoke of the federal Liberals' position, of Pierre Pettigrew saying in Seattle that human rights have no place in trade negotiations. And I think he really believes that. He believes in what he's saying.
I want to ask the Member for Whitehorse Centre, how many times in the 30 trade missions that have been made by his caucus colleagues - some to communist countries - did they speak out on human rights violations? Maybe he can give us that in his summation, how many times they spoke out.
I can recall, Mr. Speaker, when I went on a trade mission with the Prime Minister of Canada, his party - which was in opposition then - said that, even though the Prime Minister never spoke out on human rights issues, that I should have.
But that's okay, because this is the party that can say one thing in opposition and can say another thing when they're in government. That's one thing that they're consistent in.
Maybe the Member for Whitehorse Centre in his summation can let Yukoners know how many times his party spoke out about human rights violations in China, and some of the other Third World countries that they have visited on these trade missions.
If you believe in what you're doing, then you have to practice what you preach.
Mr. Speaker, May 12, 1993 - a motion put forward by the NDP opposition party in this Legislature by the Member for Mount Lorne:
THAT it is the opinion of this House
(1) that the proposed North American Free Trade Agreement will seriously erode Canada's economic and political sovereignty;
(2) that both the Yukon and Canadian economy will suffer because of the further loss of jobs and employment opportunities to a low-wage American and Mexican labour force; and
(3) that the North American Free Trade Agreement will cause the deterioration of the living standards of working people... and
THAT this House urge the federal government to abandon its plans to endorse the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Well, we heard from the federal Liberals prior to the election in 1993, I believe it was. The Prime Minister was going to kill the free trade deal. But thankfully, after he was elected, he saw the error of his ways and didn't kill the free trade deal. Liberals are very similar to the Yukon NDP; they say one thing in opposition, do another thing when they get in government. "I'm going to get rid of GST," Mr. Speaker - that didn't happen, either.
So, it seems to be all right for these political parties to compromise their principles and to bend whichever way the political winds of the day are blowing, and that's where I have difficulty with the member's motion, although the motion itself is very innocuous. All it's asking for is a liberalization of the process, which is like motherhood - who could disagree with it?
But I want to take a little bit of the short time I have today, Mr. Speaker, to look at what was really behind the WTO ruckus in Seattle. At the meeting, there were riots, and from what I could gather from watching TV, the riots were against free trade. That was the issue. If they were really sincere and were against free trade, let's consider some of the economic principles involved in free trade.
We could take an example, Mr. Speaker, and say that 10 sweaters a day could be produced using one machine and one highly skilled worker, who is paid $40 a day.
We could take that example, or we could say, Mr. Speaker, that 10 sweaters a day might be produced, maybe in another country, using one machine and four low-skilled workers who are paid $11 a day apiece. Just for the sake of argument, we could say that.
So then, where do we believe the employer would get his sweaters made? Well, I believe he'd get them made by the highly skilled worker whom he is paying $40 a day, because he is going to save $4 a day in labour costs - $44 versus $40. So, therefore, it would mean higher profits to him. It only makes sense that that's where he'd get it done.
Now, Mr. Speaker, if you were that employer, and if that highly skilled worker came to you one day - whom you were paying $40 a day - and demanded $50 a day, well, you would probably tell him, "So long, it's been good to know you. I'll get my sweaters made where it's only costing me $44 a day." Because, after paying the labour costs, you would have more profit than paying him $50 a day.
But, Mr. Speaker, highly skilled workers are not naïve. They are not stupid, and before they ask for that raise, they might attempt to eliminate the cheaper priced competition. But they wouldn't be upfront about it, they'd conceal their agenda. So, they would probably raise humanitarian concerns, like the Member for Whitehorse Centre did, about all the child labour, and nobody else will give them a dollar a day more but they'll give $20 million to somebody who will make a sweater with the name on it - I think that was the example he used. They would say that they need to put an end to sweatshops, stamp out slave labour, pay living wages - I think we heard all these words in the Member for Whitehorse Centre's speech - and, above all, save the world's children from ending up in child labour.
And suppose that this highly skilled worker was successful in his campaign to force U.S. companies to pay the poor workers in other jurisdictions $15 a day. Well, now, all of a sudden, for that employer to get his sweaters made, it's going to cost him $60 a day in the poor countries, and his highly skilled worker is only demanding $50 a day, so the highly skilled worker would have the job again.
The point I'm trying to make, Mr. Speaker, is that the low-paid worker in these other jurisdictions is going to lose under either scenario. They're not going to be winners. I think that's an attempt by the labour unions in their argument against free trade, that they believe that if they stamp out child labour in other jurisdictions, or if they can raise the cost of labour in other jurisdictions, then they can demand more for their workers in the higher paid jurisdictions. I'm not saying that's what it is, but that's what I believe is probably one of the things that was behind the World Trade Organization demonstrations in Seattle.
As I said, Mr. Speaker, either way, the low-skilled foreign worker is the loser. After all, the reason a person works for the wages that are offered for low-skilled labour in other jurisdictions is because they don't have any alternatives. And from the debate from the Member for Whitehorse Centre, it sounds to me like he doesn't want them to have any other alternatives. He believes that, if we can curtail free trade, all of a sudden the standard of living is going to come up in the Third World countries. No, it's not. And I think he knows that as well as I do.
Mr. Speaker, there's another reason, though, that companies go offshore besides labour costs, and that's because of the Environmental Protection Agency, and occupational health and safety administration, and other agencies that set strict laws in North America. Yet, those laws don't apply in Africa, Asia or Latin America, and whether the Member for Whitehorse Centre likes it or not, they all add to the cost of the product, more than just labour. So, by establishing their factories offshore, this gives them a competitive edge even if the labour costs are the same - even if the labour costs are the same.
So, Mr. Speaker, I think there are arguments on both sides, but, one way or another, the lower skilled workers are the ones who are going to lose. When we look at the World Trade Organization - or NAFTA, for that matter, the North American Free Trade Agreement, the NFA deal - are they really a free trade agreement? Are they? I don't believe they are at all.
I understand that the World Trade Organization has an attachment to those agreements that contains thousands of pages of specifications - thousands of pages. Mr. Speaker, you don't need thousands of pages if you're engaged in free trade. These are rules for trading between nations - rules between trading nations.
Now, Mr. Speaker, before the Member for Whitehorse Centre gets up and says that the Member for Porter Creek North must have been reading from a Fraser Institute document or some other right-wing publication, I just want to assure him it's not, but it was pulled off the net.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Ostashek: We both read it? We both read it.
Mr. Speaker, the writer of this article says that there's one free trade agreement that he really likes, and that is article 1, section 9 of the American Constitution.
It says no tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any state, and he argues that that would make the United States and all countries of the world richer. And I tend to agree with him.
We have just seen unemployment figures come out in Canada that are the lowest in 20 years. We have heard this government - the government that the Member for Whitehorse Centre is a part of - saying that we have to diversify our economy, we have to export more - the ones who were against free trade here a few years ago - we have to export more; we have to diversify; we have to export more.
Mr. Speaker, you can't have it both ways. Either they're for it or they're against it. They're ambiguous, Mr. Speaker.
You know, in the debate in 1993, the Member for Mount Lorne, you know, expressed the views of the NDP party and brought out all these bogeymen and all the things that were going to hurt Canada and Yukon under NAFTA and free trade. Our standard of living was going to drop.
I don't believe that's true. I believe that we enjoy a good standard of living, and I believe that we have been the net benefactors of the free trade agreement, when we just look at the amount of export that this country's engaged in. Could we have created that many jobs in Canada, even with the jobs that were displaced? And there is displacement. I won't disagree with the Member for Whitehorse Centre that there is displacement under free trade agreements, but we're doing the things that we're best at, and we're doing it in spades, because there are hundreds of thousands of new jobs being created.
A lot of people don't like change. They believe change is bad. I don't. I believe change is healthy.
But I have great difficulty with a party that, when it is in opposition, speaks very vocally and loudly against free trade and then, when it is in government, takes 30 trade missions around the world and doesn't speak out on human rights - not like they asked previous governments to do, and not like they're asking the federal government to do now. They don't have anything to say about it.
The Minister of Community and Transportation Services spoke out about human rights when he was on a trade mission a few weeks ago. I wonder if the Ministers of Economic Development and Community and Transportation Services did when they went to China. Did they speak out on human rights violations? Did they raise the issue? I don't think so.
The Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes says, "I don't know that." But maybe he'll enlighten us when he gets a chance to speak, Mr. Speaker. I know that he has great difficulty when somebody starts getting to him about trying to portray what a great job he's doing.
Mr. Speaker, in that same debate our present Minister of Economic Development, the Member for Faro said - this is in a debate from May 1993 on free trade - "If we get sucked into this, I think we're in over our heads with this North American Free Trade Agreement. There is no question." That was his position then. Listen to what he says now. He can't get enough of travelling around the world on airplanes. I think they were right when they called him the "champagne socialist".
He seems to enjoy it, even though there aren't many benefits coming to the Yukon from it so far, Mr. Speaker.
I believe there are two sides to every argument, and I believe the Member for Whitehorse Centre's argument would be much stronger if his party did not keep changing their positions on issues to flow with whichever way the political winds of the day are blowing. If they truly are principled and truly believe free trade is going to hurt Yukon and North America, then they ought not to be engaging in it when they're in government.
Mr. Fentie: In beginning my speech to the motion before us today, I would like to say that this motion brought forward by the Member for Whitehorse Centre is certainly a timely motion, given the issues that surround the WTO and free trade issues in fact around this globe.
What we're dealing with when it comes to the WTO is the most powerful international institution on the planet. And that power can be managed and implemented either in a positive manner or in a negative manner.
If we look at the positive manner - the World Trade Organization enhancing standards of living and economic development in Third World countries, in helping to share technology from countries such as ours and the United States, increasing our ability to trade around the world and create economic growth in our homelands - we must understand that the WTO cannot be a freelance institution.
It must have the influence of duly elected bodies, such as the local governments, and the federal governments of each respective country. It must have the ability and the means with which the people whom this trade organization will impact - it must have the means for them to be represented in all trade negotiations and talks. And I think that is the crux of the problem.
The President of the United States said clearly that it is time that the WTO listened. We cannot allow the money changers and multinationals and large transnationals to dismantle our health care, dismantle our own local economies for the sake of profit on the world stage - a profit that will only go to a few, and not benefit the world at large.
The Member for Porter Creek North amazes me sometimes with his approach to things. He gave us an example of basic arithmetic on where a particular business would seek out its labour force given some fabricated numbers that the member himself came up with. And I might add that it seems to me that those numbers would be similar to somebody trying to come up with an answer on an adding machine with half the keys missing. It makes no sense at all. That is not what this motion debate is about. That is not what the WTO even promotes.
Secondly, it seemed evident to me that the Member for Porter Creek North actually supports slave labour, and if we listen closely to the comments made by that member, it is quite evident that he has no problem with people in this world who work in forced labour to create a product for those richer nations to buy and utilize.
I think that is a very shameful approach to this motion.
The Member for Whitehorse Centre did not stand here and promote that we stop free trade around the world and that we disagree or oppose free trade. We, here, state categorically that we support free trade that is fair, trade that does not dismantle our social programs.
One of the things this country has, one of its ingredients that makes it one of the best places in this world to live, is our health care system. The universality of our health care is extremely important to Canadians. There is definite indication inside the WTO that there is movement afoot to privatize health care. That simply cannot happen in this country. The universality of health care means that every Canadian will receive a quality level of health care service.
That is something that, for decades, people in this country of ours have stood for, fought for, and will continue to fight for. It is basically our right. We believe it to be our right. We cannot allow the World Trade Organization to dismantle that universality in health care.
Beyond that, Mr. Speaker, free trade is not a bad thing. We don't say that free trade is bad. We simply say that with free trade we must ensure that certain things do not happen, and it must be a fair trade system that we implement.
Some of the examples that we've seen in the past simply are issues that are profit driven and ignore the safety and the health and the well-being of the citizens of any particular country.
One of the examples in the free trade agreement is the gasoline additive of MMT. This product is banned in the United States, across the States. Nowhere is this product added to gasoline to the consumer in the United States of America. Yet free trade has allowed companies in the United States to export that product into Canada. It's in our gasoline.
And there's no argument or question around what MMT does to the air we breathe. That's the reason the Americans banned it and will not allow it to be added to their gasoline. Yet we in Canada, because of regulations and mechanisms within the free trade agreement, are basically forced to have the product added to our gasoline and to have those emissions go into the air that we breathe. That's what we mean by fair trade.
Mr. Speaker, there are many examples where this continues to be a problem, where the WTO ignores the need for public education, health care, safety and food, environmental concerns and, above all, done for profit. When we really think about it, if that short-term thinking to maximize profits compromises the future of our environment, how can we be sustainable? What kind of an economy would that turn out to be?
Now, the member from the Yukon Party - the Member for Porter Creek North - goes on about principles, and compromising our principles on this side of the House. That's easy for that member to say, because there are absolutely no principles for that member to compromise on that side of the House.
They will say and do anything it takes for partisan, political gain, not unlike what the Liberals will do.
He talks about how we opposed the free trade agreement in the past - NAFTA - and all the good it has done for the economy, and, again, I point out that we supported fair trade. And, it's not all that rosy. Yes, free trade has created an increase between Canada and the States, and, yes, on the global stage trade among countries, trade that is done in a manner that can help all of us and ensure that we do not compromise education, health care or the environment and our ability to create businesses and jobs and economic growth in this country - of course, we support that. The WTO as an organization does not allow that input at the table - does not allow that input at the table. The President of the United States said himself that it's time to open those doors and allow the citizenry to have a say.
The Yukon Party goes on and on and on and on about the economy in this territory, as if to say free trade is the mechanism that created the economic well-being for the Yukon during their reign. Well, that's not the case, Mr. Speaker. Free trade helps to some degree, and free trade poses problems in some areas, problems in areas that are very important to us economically, such as the development of a manufacturing sector in forestry. The tariffs that the Americans can place on lumber exported out of Canada into markets in the States are extremely detrimental to what we here in the Yukon can do in that sector.
We must realize that those tariffs are there for a simple reason: that free trade to the Americans meant that they have control. That's not fair trade, nor do I see that as real free trade. If those borders were really open, there would be no tariff. We would be allowed to compete in the U.S. market with our product against U.S. producers without any restriction. That simply does not happen for us in Canada.
Another problem that the WTO seems to be heading toward is a two-tier health care system, and I'd be interested to hear where the Liberals and the Yukon Party really sit on this issue. Do they support the ability of every man, woman and child in this country to access health care? Or, do they support a two-tier system where those who have get medical care, and those who have not are left by the wayside?
The leader of the third party also makes statements that we can't have it both ways, but I would argue that he's wrong. We're not attempting to have it both ways at all. We are consistent. It's those on the side opposite that are trying to have it both ways. They are the ones that are trying to find ways for partisan political gain. They are the ones who are being inconsistent.
The WTO, given its power around this globe, must allow the input from the citizenry of each and every member country. We, the elected people, are the spokespeople for those citizens.
We must ensure that what the WTO does now and into the future does not compromise our standard of living, does not compromise our programs in education, does not compromise our health care, and does not compromise our abilities to grow economically, to produce businesses and jobs for the people of this country and, more importantly, for the people of this territory.
We have come a long way, Mr. Speaker, in the last three years in diversifying the economy, and the reason we have come that distance is because this government, the NDP government, has taken on the hard issues, taken on the challenge, and went to work to solve the many problems that we faced for decades in this territory, which created the boom-bust cycles, which result in massive unemployment. Unlike the Yukon Party, we realized long ago that there was more to this territory's economic future than just mining. We realized that there were many, many areas in this economy that must be addressed. We did not take a sit-back attitude and watch it happen, such as the Yukon Party did. We went to work on the issues.
The results are clear. Yes, mining is down in this territory, but we have today a number of mines with ore bodies exposed and ready. We have mills sitting, waiting. We have licensing and permitting in place. These mines aren't operating, Mr. Speaker, because they simply can't operate profitably. That is something on the world stage that the Yukon cannot address. Therefore, we must focus also on areas that are experiencing growth, that are creating jobs in this territory, and we must help nurture those areas and allow them to grow so that we may maximize the benefits from such areas as forestry.
We are the ones who have done that work, Mr. Speaker - this government, the NDP government. The Yukon Party can talk all they want. They did not, in four years in office, address any area of our economy to help improve the future here - none whatsoever. They simply went stumbling along, from crisis to crisis, ignoring the communities - turning their backs on communities, simply ignoring the issues, blaming everything that they could blame under the sun, coming up with fancy report cards and graphs, and talking nothing but nonsense. The Yukon public saw through that, and the results of the election in 1996 are the proof of that.
Mr. Speaker, this motion, I say again, is timely. It is imperative that we all work together to ensure that large corporations - transnational corporations - do not get control of our resources and do not destroy our standard of living. It is to that end that we debate this motion today. It is to that end that we must all continue to work towards ensuring that the citizens of each and every member country of the WTO have a say. It is up to us and all legislatures to make sure that we do the right thing.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, this motion before us, on the World Trade Organization, is a very interesting motion. I want to pay tribute to this NDP government and the New Democratic Party for their understanding of politics. When you can't do the job of running an economy, when you can't address your responsibilities as a government, you attack.
You attack an issue. You attack an issue that is usually beyond the comprehension of most individuals. The World Trade Organization is such an organization. But we only have to look back a few years ago when the organization that was attacked - or the initiative that was attacked - was the free trade agreement between Canada and the United States. After that was a fait accompli and the benefits were accruing to both signatories - Canada and the United States - then the NDP went on the attack once again, against the North American Free Trade Agreement.
So after we attack both of these two organizations, after both of the agreements are signed, and the benefits are accruing to Canada and to the other signatories of these agreements, we have to look for another cause, and we look toward this World Trade Organization. Well, who's doing the fear-mongering? Fear-mongering is coming from this NDP government and, to a lesser extent, the NDP government in British Columbia.
And both of these governments do have something very much in common. They have both clearly demonstrated that they do not know how to stimulate their respective economies, they do not know how to put in place the necessary tools on which an economy is built.
In fact, both areas are stagnant. British Columbia and the Yukon are stagnant today. The rest of Canada is doing very well, in large part to their involvement in the free trade agreements and the North American Free Trade Agreement. I'll take the members back to a motion that was tabled on May 12, 1993 by the Member for Mount Lorne. The member raised a motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House
(1) that the proposed North American Free Trade Agreement will seriously erode Canada's economic and political sovereignty;
(2) that both the Yukon and Canadian economy will suffer because of the further loss of jobs and employment opportunities to a low-wage American and Mexican labour force; and
(3) that the North American Free Trade Agreement will cause the deterioration of the living standards of working people, the erosion of Canadian social programs, and curtail the ability of the Yukon Legislature Assembly to enact improved environmental and health and safety standards; and
THAT this House urge the federal government to abandon its plans to endorse the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Well, here we are. That was 1993, and this is 1999, and we are reaping the benefits here today of the North American Free Trade Agreement. We are reaping the benefits. Nothing that this motion mentioned has occurred - in fact, exactly the opposite. Hypocritical - that's the only way to describe this kind of an approach.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Point of order
Speaker: Minister of Health and Social Services, on a point of order.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I believe the word "hypocritical" is pejorative and unparliamentary.
Speaker: I would ask the member to withdraw that wording, as it is unparliamentary.
Withdrawal of remark
Mr. Jenkins: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I will withdraw my description and the word "hypocritical".
Mr. Jenkins: What this party is doing is fear-mongering once again on another issue, the World Trade Organization. Here is a party that on the provincial or territorial or federal levels has been opposed to all these initiatives, and yet the benefits today that are accruing to Yukon are significant as a consequence of these undertakings.
Do we see slave labour in Canada? No. Humanitarian conditions? Child Labour? No. It's just fear-mongering.
The Member for Watson Lake suggests that we're jeopardizing the universality of our health care system. In a large part, today, Canada is dependent on the revenues we derive from free trade. We are in a global economy, and it is best for us to be at the table when all of these initiatives are advanced.
To suggest otherwise would jeopardize all of the programs that we have in place in Canada, which we take very much for granted. To work in isolation to other countries would very much jeopardize these standards, Mr. Speaker.
The Member for Watson Lake went on to suggest that the United States is exporting additives to our gasoline and we can't do anything about it. We certainly can, if that's an initiative that that member wants to take up, and he feels so strongly about it. We still have lead in a lot of the gasoline consumed here in Canada. That's much more harmful than the additive MMT, and we had lead in our gasoline from just - I believe it was introduced into gasoline as an additive in the 1920s. It has only recently been eliminated from automotive gasoline.
So if this New Democratic Party wants to get the lead out of their thinking, they might want to get on board and be at the table at these world trade initiatives, review their thinking with respect to the North American Free Trade Agreement, recognize the benefits that have accrued to Canada, that are accruing to Canada and, indeed, Yukon.
This economy of ours is one of a global economy, and it's going to become much more so. There are only a few countries in the world, Mr. Speaker, where people are running the borders and jumping on old decrepit ships to get into. We are one of those countries. That bodes well for the opportunities here.
But when we look at where those opportunities and our income are coming from, Canada is, by and large, an export country, and our benefits are derived, in a large part, from our association with the North American Free Trade Agreement. And that's going to be expanded upon, and we'd be wise to not oppose these world trade initiatives but to be at the table and ensure that the interests of Canadians are protected, to ensure that we can continue the standard of living that we have all grown so accustomed to, Mr. Speaker, and continue to enjoy them - ourselves, our children and our children's children. We can only do so if we are there, if we are involved, and if we recognize the totality of the situation. That's something that NDP governments are notoriously void of.
NDP governments, again, do have the ability to be elected and re-elected, perhaps because they have mastered the language of doublespeak, telling the people what they want to hear, hitting on issues that, by and large, they do not understand, and by fear-mongering.
At the end of the day, though, I guess common sense has prevailed. We are members of the North American Free Trade Agreement, we are at the table with respect to the World Trade Organization, and, hopefully, Canada continues to make strong representation on these fronts to maintain the standards that we have and enjoy.
For those reasons, Mr. Speaker, I can't support this motion, and I would urge the members opposite to rethink their thoughts on this motion. On the surface, it does have some merit, but ultimately, at the end of the day, it's just another NDP ploy to deflect away from the issues - the issues that they have failed to address here in the Yukon, and that their counterparts have failed to address in British Columbia. Consequently, our respective economies are in the toilet, so we have to have another issue to capture the imagination of the people and to put up there as "This is what's wrong. This is why we're failing", or "This is why we will fall into failure if we don't do something about it." And currently, that initiative that they're attacking is the World Trade Organization.
Mr. Speaker, I'm disappointed, but I do want to recognize the ability of the NDP in playing the game of politics and doing a reasonably good job at it. Unfortunately, it doesn't lead to a sustainable economy, and it doesn't lead to maintaining a standard of living that we have all come to accept, recognize and appreciate.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I seem to regularly follow the Member for Klondike who has no lead in his pencil. What an ill-informed, irrelevant, ridiculous series of statements he just put forward here.
Mr. Speaker, you know, every time the members of the Yukon Party stand up and quote a motion from the Member for Mount Lorne, and quote from the debate on what the Member for Mount Lorne had to say on previous issues, I listen to their quotes. Nothing that I am saying today in support of this motion is contradictory to positions we've taken in this House on the subject of free trade.
Mr. Speaker, we recognize that there is an environment now of a global economy. The World Trade Organization is a group of 135 nation members. They believe that free trade is, on the whole, good for the welfare of people. The 135 members see benefits to joining the global trading club.
Our concern, Mr. Speaker, in bringing forward this motion is that we need to ensure that we have fair trade policies in effect. The World Trade Organization sets rules that govern the flow of trillions of dollars in economic activity across the borders of the world.
The organization was established in 1995, and Canada is a member. The Member for Klondike was standing there - ill-informed - stating that Canada should be a member. Well, Canada is a member. What we're saying with this motion is that our federal representatives on the World Trade Organization should be sure to bring to the table that the World Trade Organization needs to practise a policy of openness.
We need to be sure that the rules that are set up under the World Trade Organization do not place restrictions on the formulation of sustainable development or environmental or labour or social policies.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: The hon. Member for Riverdale South, on a point of order.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to draw your attention to the fact that there may not be quorum in the House.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Speaker: The hon. Member for Kluane, on a point of order.
Mr. McRobb: On the point of order, Mr. Speaker, that's because there is only one opposition member present.
Speaker: I would remind the Member for Kluane, when a member calls for a quorum count, no one may make a statement.
Order please. According to Standing Order 3(2), if, at any time during the sitting of the Assembly, the Speaker's attention is drawn to the fact that there does not appear to be a quorum, the Speaker will cause the bells to ring and then do a count.
Speaker: I have shut off the bells and I will do a count. There are 12 members present. A quorum is present.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I'm pleased to be speaking in support of this motion this afternoon. I was outlining a summary of the extent of trade rules that are covered in the World Trade Organization's activities.
They include intellectual property measures. They include foreign investments. They include food safety and animal and plant health. They include regulation on international food trade and domestic agriculture policies. There are several agreements that are concerned with information technology and telecommunications.
The position that we're bringing to this Legislature is that we need to retain the ability of democratically elected national governments to establish standards that are in the best interests of all of their citizens within their borders. We need to be able to support development of local industries.
The concerns of the protesters at the recent meeting in Seattle were simply to bring forward the need to have environmentalists, labour standard advocates, people concerned about social justice and all citizens meaningfully participating in this organization.
You know, education ministers across this country are concerned about the potential of bringing education and cultural industries to the World Trade Organization. We do not want to run the risk of Canada's support, notwithstanding that the federal Liberal government has dramatically cut support to post-secondary education, legal aid and health care and other sections of the Canada health and social transfer. We do not want to run the risk of having the World Trade Organization rule that that support is an unfair trade barrier.
Members opposite have stated that we're fear-mongering. Nonsense. We're bringing forward important concerns. We need legitimate public debate. The Member for Whitehorse Centre has spoken eloquently about the reality that many of the multinationals that are driving the agenda of the World Trade Organization are corporations that engage in child labour practices.
The Yukon Party also spoke about the trade missions that this government has been undertaking in order to increase our export trade of Yukon products. The Government Leader spoke up about human rights. Members opposite make allegations without checking their facts at all.
We believe that we need to keep in Canada an ability to have environmental standards that protect our environment. We need to keep labour standards that protect the health and safety of citizens. We need to support the advocates who have been trying to bring forward these concerns at World Trade Organization forums. President Bill Clinton spoke to the group and indicated that he felt that they should be included, that there was a need to bring them into the tent.
So, Mr. Speaker, we'll be supporting this motion. The World Trade Organization has, to date, failed to integrate into trade policy the concerns of people. The World Trade Organization still conducts most of their business behind closed doors. They have been extremely resistant to developing relations with non-governmental organizations that represent anything other than corporate interests. Those are legitimate voices that need to be heard.
The Government of Canada, as a member of the World Trade Organization, must impress upon the other member nations the need to practice a policy of openness. I think that's what Canadian citizens expect in a country where we do give value to the meaningful participation of citizens.
So, Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to speak in support of the motion and thank the Member for Whitehorse Centre for bringing it forward.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I had sort of assumed that we would get some reaction from our friends on the Liberal Party side. If I seemed to be hesitant, it was because I was expecting them to leap into the fray. However, given the somewhat tepid record of the Liberal Party on a national front on the entire question of fair trade and the rather dismal record of the federal Liberal Party on the entire question of permitting free speech, as witnessed by the debacle at APEC, I think it may be a somewhat sensitive issue for them - also, the rather quaint performance by the former Liberal member and now well-paid trade minion to the WTO, Sergio Marchi, in concert with my former colleague on the federal scene, Mr. Pettigrew, who, I think, probably speaks to this matter.
One of the things I was fascinated by when I was watching the WTO demonstrations was the number of sea turtle costumes, and I thought, well, this is an interesting symbol, and why would the sea turtle have become a symbol for this particular event.
In doing some background research on this, I discovered that there was a very simple reason. Sea turtles are a species that follow shrimp, the small crustaceans that are in the ocean. They follow these, I guess, clouds almost, underwater clouds of shrimp, to feed on. And, in the process of netting shrimp, fishing fleets around the world have decimated the sea turtle population.
This caused some concern among people who are concerned about the reduction of wildlife and the depletion of species, and the United States - in, I think, a forward thinking kind of motion - became aware of a particular kind of technology that allowed the detection of turtles among these swarms of shrimp, and permitted a manner in which shrimp could be caught without any impact on the sea turtle population. What they attempted to do was restrict the importation of shrimp into the United States, except for those shrimp that had been caught by this method.
Well, lo and behold, the most powerful trading country in the world - or the most powerful country in the world - found itself at loggerheads with the WTO and was forced to abandon this laudable, I think, type of trade restriction - a trade restriction that was designed to reduce the impact on an endangered species. They found themselves obliged to surrender that kind of economic and social autonomy.
So for many of the people at the WTO, the turtle became a symbol of what they saw as a surrender - a surrender of the ability of nation-states to determine some of their own social, environmental and economic priorities.
No one argues that free trade can be a benefit. That's not the issue at all. The issue is what kind of free trade, and free trade being fair trade as well.
Since it has come into power, the federal government has changed 31 Canadian laws in order to join the World Trade Organization, and what we have found - we as Canadians - is that our ability now to determine the kinds of agricultural products we take in, the kinds of medicines we take in, the kinds of environmental restrictions that we may have in our own country, is now being jeopardized by this rush to subvert the democratic process.
We have seen the federal government willing to bargain away the rights of Canadians to access cheaper drugs in pursuit of supporting multinational pharmaceutical companies. I haven't spoken on some of the other things that the federal government has done.
What I'm concerned about is that the WTO has now ventured into areas that are not traditional trade areas, such as education and health care. The universally accessible medicare system that we have fought so hard to maintain, despite deep cuts and serious downloading by the federal Liberal government, is now in danger of privatization. It's now in danger of becoming one of those aspects of our economy that seems to be up for sale. I would suggest that when we get into subverting our own national interests, when we get into losing the ability to determine our own character of our country, then we're in serious danger of losing the identity that we have as a country. And really, I think that is what the WTO is saying.
They're saying it not only about us, but they're saying it about other countries. They're saying it of countries around the world, that you cannot put up restrictions that might inhibit access of capital or labour - establish labour standards. You cannot put up protections for farmers, human rights standards or ages of individuals who participate in the work force and so on.
Even things that we have brought about here, such things as local hire and local purchase - where do they sit on the WTO's agenda?
I wonder if we, as Canadians, are willing to give up some of these just to benefit a multinational. Are we really willing to accept the fact that coffee, which we consume in tremendous amounts, should really be grown on land that, more properly, should be going to feed populations in underdeveloped countries, and are we willing to put forward some restrictions, so that people cannot be put into that kind of jeopardy?
When we talk about the WTO and its impact, I don't think we're talking about simply countries like Malaysia or China or Thailand. I think we're also talking about developed countries - countries like Canada, countries like in Europe, and so on. What we have seen in Seattle is really a manifestation of fear and a concern - not an abnormal concern, as the Member for Klondike seems to feel. He seems to feel that because people have some concerns and discontent, somehow that's fear-mongering. This is not fear-mongering; this is fear of people's futures, of their children's future, of their ability to define themselves as a country, their ability to define their own culture, their ability to define their own social programs, and so on.
The fact is that this country, led by the Liberal government in Ottawa, has shown a remarkable eagerness to be part of an organization that's working essentially to globalize, to profit a few extremely wealthy corporations.
I found it interesting that, when one took a look at how many of the events at the WTO were sponsored, there was $9.2 million raised and presented to sponsor these things by multinationals in Seattle.
Companies like Boeing, companies like Microsoft, and some others - they were the ones that put up the money because, quite frankly, they're the ones that stand to make the huge profits. Twelve of the largest multinationals in the world are based in the United States. There is a clear profit motive that's going on here - not that profit is necessarily wrong, but when we get into large multinationals dictating the policy of a nation, dictating the policies of a country, dictating to a country like Canada what they can do in terms of their own social and health policies, I think that becomes disconcerting, and I think it becomes somewhat frightening.
The fact is that what we are seeing here is a massive ability by capital to shift - and to shift quickly - wherever they want, to exploit the most vulnerable people around the world. A couple of years ago I was overseas in a country that feels that they are climbing out of the economic doldrums, and that, through a series of policies, they have managed to raise themselves above the regional standard. And those countries have developed an industry - this country was formerly dependent exclusively on sugar and, with the impact of sugar prices and the impact of some sugar tariffs, their economy went into a tailspin. They were forced to diversify in a very real way, and one of the things that they did was they got into the manufacture of garments and the assembly of garments, and through a series of tax policies and others they have managed to develop a fairly vibrant industry. The people in that country, however, are terrified. They are terrified because of the ability of multinational corporations, because of the ability of companies like The Gap and some other large garment factories to simply shift production at the drop of a hat. They are concerned that other countries such as Madagascar and some of the east African countries, where labour standards are far more lenient and the wages are even lower - they are afraid, they live in terror, of that kind of capital shift.
Membership in the WTO increases the economic and political power of the corporate sector. We have to recognize that.
In a society in which multinational corporations have this control, I'm somewhat concerned about us signing away even more power to them, because every day we hear about the ill-treatment of workers in well-known corporations, the abuse of the environment, whether it's the cutting of tropical rain forests in countries such as Thailand to feed an overseas furniture and paper industry, and the subsequent degradation of the land and the economy and so on, and the inappropriate influences of corporations over governments. Yet, we're considering giving them more control over our fates.
I was struck by the fact that dictator Suharto - whom the Prime Minister bent over backwards to make sure was not embarrassed at APEC - the Suharto family used competing interests within their own family to gain preference for companies like Bre-X. We were actually supportive of a regime that exploited companies economically and worked in tandem with these companies, but here's a regime that was one of the most despotic. It mercilessly went after people in East Timor and other places, yet when he came to UBC, this was the person for whom the Canadian government went through mental and moral gymnastics to make sure this dictator did not see embarrassing signs.
We were willing to pepper-spray and tear-gas Canadians, students, people who were merely expressing their opinion of the absolute abuses of human rights by this dictator. We were prepared to exploit them. To date, we still haven't got to the truth, and I suspect strongly that the Prime Minister's Office is going to do everything they can to make sure that this will not come to pass.
Now, one of the effects of the World Trade Organization could be that what we're seeing is a devolvement of social services and health care and education into private and for-profit hands. I'd like to know what that is going to do for us. I'd like to know if that's going to help our sick, our elderly and children in this territory. I would say that given the reports of the so-called HMOs in the United States, the health management organizations, is this really where we want to go? Is this what we want in Canada? Do we really want a World Trade Organization dictating to us that we have to permit U.S.-style HMOs to come into this country? Is this the nature of this society?
We point to the United States and their phenomenal economic growth, but we also point to the fact that there are over 48 million people in the United States without any form of health insurance whatsoever. We don't point to the fact that just over three months ago the HMOs in the United States took over a million elderly people off the coverage for their medication. Elderly people in the United States are being obliged to cross the border in busloads to try to get their medication at a reasonable price in Canada. Now, if that's the kind of society we are really encouraging, I would suggest that we're going seriously the wrong way, and I would see the World Trade Organization and some of their desire to open up, Mr. Speaker, the health and education sectors as not being of particular value to people in this country.
I think we've made some progress in this country around employment equity. Under the World Trade Organization, I question if we'd be able to require this of foreign corporations. Would we be able to levy the performance requirements in environmental practices and domestic content? I don't think so, and I would say that a good deal of the work that we, as Canadians, have done, in terms of protection of the environment and equalizing employment opportunities for women and minorities, would go out the window. If corporations don't like the environmental regulations of a government -
Speaker: The member has two minutes.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, there's a good deal more to go here, Mr. Speaker, and I am concerned about getting to conclusion.
One of the interesting things about some of the recent trade organizations is that, if the corporation doesn't like the environmental regulations or the requirements of a government, they can sue. We've seen this with some corporations, like Monsanto. They haven't liked what we've done and felt they can sue the Canadian government. However, the interesting thing is that the right isn't reciprocal - governments cannot sue the corporations. That's interesting. There's an interesting power imbalance.
If I could just take it to our experience here, in the Yukon. With land claims, we've become accustomed with government-to-government relationships and working in that environment. New connections are being made between the federal government, the Yukon government and First Nations. I think this has been a positive development, and I think, at that forum, those are the kinds of intergovernmental relationships that we should be encouraging.
What I'm concerned about is international corporate government dictating to us how we can work and interact as Canadians. I am concerned about an international corporate government gaining even more power to define what this country will be in the future and define where Canadians will be going. I think that, with respect to the World Trade Organization, we need to take a look at this entire question and begin to think in terms of trade - not merely as just free trade, but as fair trade - for everyone. That's what I would encourage this federal government -
Speaker: The minister's time has expired.
Mr. McRobb: I rise in favour of this motion today, and I'd like to thank the Member for Whitehorse Centre for bringing this motion forward. It's a very important motion. It addresses some very important topics, and very timely topics.
In some respects, Mr. Speaker, it's about time we touched on things like globalization and the World Trade Organization in this Legislature and expressed our views. I'm a little disappointed that some of the opposition members have chosen to ignore this debate, Mr. Speaker, because it is the only opportunity we may have as legislators in this sitting to put on the record our views regarding environmental laws and work regulations being lowered to the lowest common denominator of countries in the world.
The World Trade Organization has the power to reach into national government jurisdictions and challenge the laws, policies and programs that interfere with trade. The WTO has the power to confer punitive trade sanctions on governments found to be in breach of WTO trade rules.
These powers are both legislative and judicial, and trample on the rights and freedoms of democratic societies.
The only rationale for the WTO's actions is corporate-led free trade.
The method for deciding trade disputes is the dispute settlement mechanism, or DSM, which meets in secret with no input from civil society. All disputes that have come before the DSM since 1995 have found in favour of transnational corporations and against public health, human rights and the environment.
So, Mr. Speaker, it's clear that the World Trade Organization supports big corporations' interests and certainly does not support the rights of the common person in society, those interested in health, the environment and workers' rights.
If anyone was in any doubt as to the true nature of the World Trade Organization, its actions in the three years since it was created paint a depressingly clear picture. As feared, in every case brought before it to date, the WTO has ruled in favour of corporate interest, striking down national and subnational legislation protecting the environment and public health, at every turn.
The Member for Porter Creek North made a comment that mining companies have left the Yukon, they're all operating in Chile now, and this shouldn't be tolerated, he claims.
Well, Mr. Speaker, if their priority is to evade environmental responsibilities and operate at the lowest cost possible, without respecting the environment, and if the lower, or decreased, environmental regulations in Chile are all it takes, then I say, let them go - let them go. Because Yukoners demand a higher grade of society and tougher laws protecting our lifestyle and the environment than what is offered by some other countries. And certainly Chile is one of them. If businesses want to do business here, then they have to play by the rules.
The World Trade Organization was marching very quickly toward globalization, and, as some Yukoners are aware, Mr. Speaker, globalization would lower regulations for the environment and workers to the lowest common denominator of some of the participating countries. To our society, that simply isn't acceptable.
In regard to the battle of Seattle, Mr. Speaker, I was particularly pleased that it happened because it disproved the verdict of the pundits that our youth of today are largely either net-heads or couch potatoes and don't have the fortitude to understand public issues or get involved in public issues. So, when I saw on television this situation developing, it caught my interest, because I'd always hoped that the public wouldn't be as apathetic as the pundits hoped, as maybe the global corporations hoped. This offered a sign that people still do care about issues affecting them, affecting their community, affecting their neighbours, affecting their country, and affecting all the countries in the world. Certainly, this is highlighting what the World Trade Organization has been up to. It shines a light on its agenda, and certainly, Mr. Speaker, this could very well become an election issue in the United States and elsewhere next year and in the years ahead.
So, Mr. Speaker, I'll be brief and wrap up because we would like to bring this to a vote, and just say that I would encourage people to express their views on the WTO and what has happened and clearly come out in favour of those wanting to protect our society and uphold the interests of the people versus the corporations.
Speaker: Are you prepared for the question?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I just wanted a few moments to be able to speak to this motion if I may, in light of events in the last couple of days, and certainly the world as it turns every day. Certainly I'll be supporting this motion. I think this is a very, very important motion, and I felt that I had to speak to it, certainly, for just a few short moments.
I think what this motion does is that it encourages the federal government, as our federal jurisdictional government, I guess - we have a lot of jurisdictions underneath it but certainly, when I stand and sing O Canada, that is the government that I think of and the people that are contained within. And when we asked them to share an openness, at a minimum, with building structures and to do things, we simply mean it. And the reason why I'm going to say "simply mean it" is because I think that they have been working toward those ends.
I recall when I was in Malaysia - and it was just within the last two or three months - and the Malaysian government and Canada, just before we got into a major symposium on highways and building and all sorts of other neat and nifty stuff, were getting into a diplomatic duke-out, and what was at the heart of the diplomatic duke-out was the way we treat indigenous people in the world. And I have had the opportunity to share, on behalf of the conventions in Geneva, world human rights issues, and when you're that close to it and you see people bringing forth and you see people who actually have bounties on their heads, let alone the ability to opt into a government job or a process of government or any such thing, it makes you think.
And, so, when I was in Malaysia, I was asked by reporters to - get this - defend the Liberal Government of Canada.
And, as I started to talk about what we're doing, it made me quite proud that we were doing these types of initiatives. We're creating, through land claim agreements, economic opportunities, and we should continue to do them, because the indigenous people of this country, who have the legal right to this country until it has negotiated a treaty settlement with them, have always said that what they would like to see is a sharing of the resources, a stepping up to the table for equality, a level playing field - not prejudicism, or "I want more in this capitalistic mine than you" but very much a sharing of the wealth. And to describe wealth just means simply that it's a cultural base, that it's a good home base, that your relatives are included, that you think of the universe as a whole, and not yourself as an individual within the whole, and that you have to take this amount of pie in your 63 years on this earth or whatever, but it's to share and to be able to do that.
And that is reflected in this motion also. And so I felt that I had to speak to those issues, because what we as an indigenous people want from around the world - and especially in this country - is opportunity to share.
And I feel that Canada, if they have the audacity to go out and to trade away our health care and our economic opportunities, would be doing the worst and the wrong thing that they could for all of Canada and all the world.
So certainly I support this motion very, very much. I believe that all people should be supporting this motion. I believe that this motion is an excellent motion, and I'd like to thank the member for bringing it forth.
I do not think, as the Member for Klondike thinks, that this is an insult to Yukoners. I think that this has given Yukoners the opportunity to be able to speak for what they believe in, and for us as representatives to speak on their behalf for what they believe in and what we believe in. And truly we believe that the world is a global village, that we have to share and to get along and to work, and that's what we expect the Government of Canada to be able to do.
So thank you very much for this opportunity to share my voice.
Speaker: If the member now speaks, he will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?
Mr. Hardy: What model do we follow? Often, we hear so many different opinions in this Legislature, but what is interesting was listening to the members from the Yukon Party, the third party.
A continuing theme with them seems to be extremes. Now, as an example, they talk about free trade and they talk about the NDP. They say that we're against free trade; therefore, we're against absolutely every type of trade - an extreme. They have an us-or-them attitude, a do-or-die attitude, a mining or the environment; we heard that earlier in Question Period. If you don't speak every minute of your day, if you don't speak about every issue centred around mining, you have to be totally against it. If you believe in the processes, the protected areas, if you do create parks, if you honour agreements, then you're against mining, according to the Yukon Party. When in reality and in the world, it's not an us or them. It's not a mining or the environment. It's not a do-or-die situation, and it's not free trade or no trade. The world is made up of grays, made up of shades and colour, and it's made up of balances and conflicting interests that you have to find your way through when you're in a government, or anything in your life, really. There is always give and take; in a relationship, there's give and take.
This is a case here. They paint us as totally against trade. Where have we been against trade?
No evidence, but they say it. What we have always said and what we have always proposed is fair trade, a word used by many, many organizations in Canada and throughout the world. Many organizations and businesses are active in fair trade. We have businesses within the Yukon that are promoting fair trade, and we have many people who are working to ensure that the money that's spent does make it down through the chain of production and delivery of the product down to the people who do produce it, down to the people who grow it, to ensure that they are paid a fair wage for a fair product. There's nothing wrong with that.
Besides fair trade, you also have attaching human rights. What's wrong with that? Why is that so difficult for some people to understand? Why would you not think that, in your trading, you, yourself, as a country, can set some standards so that you feel comfortable in your purchase of the goods from another country and maybe, through your economic policies, you can improve the conditions of many of the citizens throughout the world. What's wrong with having labour standards, and if they wish to trade with you, fine, but they will have to recognize your labour standards and what you also wish to see in the production of the product, in that those people are treated fairly, too. Safety standards. Respect for the citizens. Nothing's wrong with that. A country should have the ability to make those decisions and act upon them.
There is also the idea that you should be able to say no to certain products, if you don't wish to have them in your country. Under the World Trade Organization, we have lost that ability. We have given up a right in this country to protect our own citizens in some cases, and to protect the environment, in other cases.
As we end out the century, we have to start to take a look at the world in a much more holistic manner, and we have to approach trade in a more humanistic manner. And it can't always be the bottom line, or what's good for the corporation is good for everybody. That's not true, and that has been proven time and time again.
I know that the Member for Klondike made a statement about my comments - how everything I said wasn't true, or what I said would come to pass wasn't true. Obviously, he hadn't been listening very closely, because I didn't make this stuff up. This is an actual fact that the World Trade Organization has ruled on, when we talk about the turtles or the Clean Air Act or the asbestos.
So, for him to make a statement like that is very extreme, I find - somebody who will not listen or open their eyes to what's happening in the world. He says that the world has been better since we have had free trade agreements and all that stuff. In some areas there has been some improvement, but in other areas there hasn't. I can tell you right now that the last 10, 15, 20 years have not been a great period in the history of the world, and it won't go down that way.
Free trade is not working for the majority of the world. During a most recent period of rapid growth in global trade and investment, 1960 to 1998, inequality worsened both internationally and within countries. The UN development program reports that the richest 20 percent of the world's population consumes 86 percent of the world's resources while, of course, 80 percent consumes just 14 percent. Is that good?
WTO rules have hastened these trends by opening up countries to foreign investment, thereby making it easier for production to go where the labour is cheapest and more easily exploited, and where environmental costs are low. This pulls down the wages and environmental standards in developing countries that are having to compete globally, and it is pulling down our standards.
According to the Member for Porter Creek North - the way he talked - this is perfectly fine. Let's exploit other countries - perfectly fine. Well, it's not. We don't tolerate it in our own country. We set laws and standards in our own country to try to prevent exploitation of people. We try to ensure that there's a distribution of wealth, which is one role of government. Why should we accept it in another country, and actually add to it by allowing it to happen by purchasing the products that encourage it? Why can't we work with the other countries and work with the businesses to make those changes? And why can't the WTO have in place human rights, labour standards, environmental standards, recognition of the rights of democracy, and being able to govern your own country? Why can't they have those within their trade deals? That's the question I ask.
Why is it so bad? Does somebody think that all trading would stop if we put that in place? I can guarantee you that it would not stop. It would change for the better, but it would not stop, because nature hates a vacuum.
And it would be filled up very fast.
We fight for fair trade, along with over 1,100 organizations around the world fighting for fair trade. The NDP stands for fair trade, stands up for fair trade, and believes in fair trade.
The Yukon Party can spin it any way they want, but to them it's always black or white, us or them, do or die. We're a party that believes that there are a lot more people out there than just the black and whites, the ones who are rich and the ones who are poor.
There are people who care, there are people who have a different vision for this world, there are people who want to work in communities and societies to make it a better place, whether it's locally, or it's nationally, or it's internationally. And they come back and share those experiences, and we learn from them.
And the World Trade Organization has to open its doors and allow those people a voice, so that if we do have trade, it is fair trade, and one that includes the rights of the citizens.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Are you prepared for the question?
Some Hon. Members: Division.
Speaker: Division has been called.
Speaker: Mr. Clerk, would you poll the House.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Agree.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Agree.
Mr. McRobb: Agree.
Mr. Fentie: Agree.
Mr. Hardy: Agree.
Ms. Duncan: Agree.
Mr. Cable: Agree.
Mrs. Edelman: Agree.
Ms. Buckway: Agree.
Mr. Ostashek: Agree.
Mr. Phillips: Agree.
Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 14 yea, nil nay.
Speaker: The yeas have it. I declare the motion carried.
Motion No. 199 agreed to
Clerk: Motion No. 189, standing in the name of Mr. Hardy.
Motion No. 189
Speaker: It is moved by the Member for Whitehorse Centre
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Gross Domestic Product Indicator measures only the level of market activity, without reference to social and ecological costs and conditions;
THAT this House recognizes that Statistics Canada is responsible for compilation of the GDP in the Yukon and that Statistics Canada has begun a pilot project in Atlantic Canada using an alternative measure of progress; and
THAT this House urges the federal government to abandon use of the outmoded and narrow GDP as a measure of progress, and adopt instead the more inclusive and relevant Genuine Progress Indicator for use in the Yukon and Canada as a whole.
Mr. Hardy: Often in governments, there's a consensus, and that's one of the fundamental principles of a decent society and one of the benchmarks that would signify genuine progress.
There's no doubt that we all want to live in a peaceful and safe society without crime. We all value clean environments. We want good physical health, strong communities, and free time to relax and develop our potential. We want economic security and less poverty. A society usually based on these principles could provide a good framework for spiritual practice, economic growth, well-being and encourage us to be more caring, freer and wiser.
I don't think there is any political party that wants something different than that. I don't think there is any political party that works to have insecurities, to have greater poverty, that works for a degraded environment, or more stress, or crime, or poverty and inequality. It may happen. It may happen because of their actions even, but I don't believe it's something that they lay awake at night and plan. But it raises the question of why we are unable to create that kind of society, and why we do not order our policy priorities to accord with our shared values and human needs and dreams.
Now, this is a debate about the GDP and how we measure. The GDP measures the amount of goods and services produced and sold in a country or region, and the total amount of money earned and spent. It doesn't take into account the value of the environment. It doesn't take into account volunteer activities and the value of housework. It doesn't take into account higher levels of crime, pollution, social breakdowns such as divorce - I shouldn't say "it doesn't take into account". It doesn't subtract from the GDP. What it does is it actually increases the GDP. So, I'm wrong there, it does have an impact on the GDP, but in a way that is quite perverse.
An incident over the perversity of the economic statistics can be - an example would be the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Alaska experienced a huge increase in the GDP because not only did the GDP increase when the oil was produced, but it also got a boost when the money was spent cleaning up the oil spill. The GDP measure takes no account of the negative environmental effect of the oil spill, but does credit a growth because of the economic catastrophe.
Higher levels of crime increase the GDP, and that's through spending on insurance. When crime goes up, spending on insurance goes up. Security, the purchase of security systems, more resources put into policing, more resources put into the court system - that all increases, all on crime, and of course the greatest growth industry in the States today is prisons. That has a positive spin on the GDP. One in five people in the United States will serve time in a prison now.
That's a growth industry, and it is ranked as positive for the GDP and that's what is measured.
Now, the other part of the motion is the GPI, the genuine progress indicator, which is a new measurement of the economic well-being of a nation. It broadens the conventional accounting framework to include the economic contributions of family and community, realms of the natural habitat, along with conventionally measured economic production.
The GPI takes into account more than 20 aspects of our economic lives that the GDP ignores. It includes estimates of the economic contributions of numerous social and environmental factors, which the GDP dismisses with an implicit and arbitrary value of zero. It also differentiates between economic transactions that add to the well-being and those that diminish it. The GPI then integrates these factors into a composite measure so that the benefits of an economic activity can be weighed against the costs. It is intended to provide citizens and policymakers with a more accurate barometer of the overall health of the economy and of how our national condition is changing over time.
Now, while per capita, GDP has more than doubled from 1950 to the present, the GPI shows a very different picture. It increased during the 1950s and 1960s, but has declined by roughly 45 percent since 1970. Further, the rate of decline in per capita GPI has increased from an average of one percent in the 1970s, to two percent in the 1980s, to six percent so far in the 1990s. This is a wide and growing divergence between the GDP and the GPI, and it's a warning that the economy is stuck on a path that imposes large and, as yet, unreckoned costs on to the present and the future.
Many economists now consider economic growth, as it's measured by the GDP, to be one of three things: fixing blunders and social decay from the past, foreign resources in the future, and shifting functions from the community and household realms to that of a monetized economy.
And yet, how we measure is how we value in much of our society. If we do not count our non-monetary and non-material assets, we effectively discount and devalue them. And what we don't measure and value in our central accounting mechanism will be effectively sidelined in the policy arena.
Now, when a GDP was created, it was never meant to be the measuring stick of the health and wealth of a nation. Simon Kuznets, the Nobel Prize winning economist who developed the basis for our GDP measures clearly recognized the shortcomings of the GDP as a measure of the welfare and progress of a nation, and he said, in his first report to the U.S. Congress, "The welfare of a nation can scarcely be inferred from the measure of a national income, as defined by the GDP."
But unfortunately, since that time, the GDP has become the most important all-purpose indicator of our economic performance and of our progress as a society.
Now, Canada's had many years of strong growth and increased incomes, although there has been a slack period and we have fallen behind roughly 14 percent on wages in comparison to the costs. But many people actually don't feel better off than they were a decade ago. Most people are working more and have less time for themselves and their families. People living in the bigger cities spend more time commuting to work, suffering from more pollution, and have to travel further to experience nature.
We're very fortunate in the north. We have nature at our doorstep but, in Canada as a whole, that is changing. More and more people are being forced into the bigger cities, as farms are failing and as lifestyles in communities get more difficult. As we already discussed, rules are being set by the World Trade Organization, affecting all our policies and how we support our small industries, our small businesses and the citizens of this country.
And they are tied together, but we've already had the debate on the WTO and I won't go back there, but what I think we have to do here is have a better measurement. And by having a better measurement, we will be able to use that measurement to help design policies, to help give us direction to improve the lives of our citizens, of the citizens of the Yukon and of Canada.
We should take explicit account of a wider range of factors than is included in the GDP. Now, the genuine progress indicator is being tried in the Atlantic provinces and - I believe Nova Scotia is the one where it is being used - it is being financed by Nova Scotia primarily as a complement to the GDP, and I believe that they will be able to have a better measurement of the real health of their province. They will know what the real cost of crime is, for instance - they will know what the real cost of crime is in their province.
They will know what the real cost of environmental degradation will be. They will be able to assess better the long-term benefits in forestry practices, for instance. If all you do is go into a forest and you slash and cut all the prime trees, you clear-cut, you haul them out - they're raw logs and you ship them out -
Speaker: Order. The time being 5:30 p.m., the Speaker will now leave the Chair until 7:30 p.m.
Debate on Motion No. 189 accordingly adjourned
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
Mr. Fentie: 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 by the government House leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Committee is dealing with the supplementary estimates.
Bill No. 19 - Third Appropriation Act, 1999-2000 - continued
Department of Tourism - continued
Chair: Is there further general debate?
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, does the minister have any information to provide to the House this evening? I specifically asked about trade missions, but if there's any information to provide the House with, I'd appreciate it.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, Mr. Chair, I do not have any particulars as to the costs, et cetera, but they are being prepared by the department at this point in time.
Ms. Duncan: I'll look forward to receiving that in the near future.
There was an old tourism document I happened to come across in the files. It was an old BBDO document that noted that Japan wasn't particularly worthwhile for tourism marketing efforts, and the minister has mentioned that we have been to China and Taiwan and, I believe, he also said Japan.
At what point did the Department of Tourism re-evaluate this sense, and what was the cause for that re-evaluation?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, certainly, as we work in partnership with the Canadian Tourism Commission, new information is always evolving and the world gets to be a global village - and truly is a global village. We always look for new opportunity, new places.
The BBDO organization that she spoke of represented us as Tourism was our...
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Thank you. Correct. It was quite some time ago - three, four years ago. If I can recall. The documentation they had produced at the time was relevant. I'd like to explain that at the time, I believe - and certainly the member opposite will remember more on this - there was a look into the Japanese market. The Japanese need a high-end market, as they said, a five-star type of situation, and there wasn't anything really here.
They did a very cursory study and looked at it, and the Japanese said, "Thank you very much."
Since then, the times have been a-changin' quite a bit. You can see the advent of the Japanese folks in Vancouver, in the Pacific Rim. They are coming for that peculiar brand of product. What we have here - and certainly it's specific to an age group - in the Yukon is very specific to a Japanese product, also. There's another age group that likes to get out and about and go out on to the land and hustle on the land.
So we worked with the CTC; the industry certainly wanted to move in that area. I've had talks with hoteliers in the community of Whitehorse about, if we did go here, would they be endorsing it, and would they be willing to change, because there are certain peculiarities that the Japanese need. I shouldn't say "peculiarities", but things that are peculiar to their customs, that they need, that we could offer, and the answer was yes. We could certainly look to accommodate them. And there are things such as twin bed types of structures, food items - those types of items.
And of course with the advent of Asian people in the winter, in Yellowknife - I mean, 8,000 visitors simply to look at the northern lights, and what we have in the Yukon is very - it's not similar; it's even better than what they have on that side of the mountains, and it's winter.
We're always looking to increase our shoulder seasons, and if we can get a shoulder season stretching from August to January and then have the other shoulder season going from May to January, we have just succeeded in making this a four-season - some say two-season, but, certainly, a four-season - playground, in our minds. And that's certainly where we're going, and we'll continue to work with them.
Certainly, as we have gone through the tourism strategy, the tourism summit, people have asked for more markets. At the same time, they have asked for no decrease in resources to other markets, so we have certainly got the endorsement through the summit and the strategy, and that's exactly where people expect and want us to go.
Ms. Duncan: There is an expectation and a desire on the part of industry to break into new markets, and that's understandable. Whenever anyone wants to enter into a new market, however, they do market research. What market research is supporting the department's initiatives in this area? Is it the department's, or is it the CTC's market research that's supporting these initiatives?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, it's a combination, and it's also a combination of political desire to look at expanding a new market. As I talk to people and everyday businesses, as department and other folk talk, you get going - like where we're going, like what we have done in tourism in the last 10 or 12 years here. I would like to keep that solidified as a base and to look to new markets.
So, certainly, the Canadian Tourism Commission is a big player in this. They have representation all over the world. As the member knows, we were also at the summit, and I'm sure she did see the excitement in some of the breakouts and some of the wholesalers that are working with us.
It's very much a niche type of market to fill that type of market, but definitely we're doing it with background from the CTC and our own people.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, in going through previous debates and information, the last information I had from the department was that our efforts on our marketing budget were spent proportional to the visitor representation. The last figures I have say that 88 percent of our visitors are North American and that 80 percent of our marketing budget was spent targeted toward these visitors. Twelve percent of the visitors were from Europe, and 20 percent of the marketing budget was directed in this fashion.
What are the current figures in terms of the proportion of the marketing budget, and what proportion is dedicated toward this Asian market that the minister and I have just been speaking of?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I will say that the rubber-tire market - the North American market - is certainly our most important market - very much so, and we'll continue to put resources toward them.
A lot of what you ask for is not a complicated breakdown, but it has to be broken down. I can provide that to you. Certainly, as you know, a new, lucrative market, such as the southern Ontario market, where we had that focus group - obviously, the members opposite don't want me to sing, but as they know, we have that focus commercial, which focuses on that market, and we want those folks to come here.
We're continuing not to splinter and to take from other markets, but to solidify and add. As you can see in this budget, there is $225,000 more for increased marketing efforts in the European market. So, we're adding on to our existing markets as we do that, and at the same time that we're opening up new markets, we're looking to do it in a careful, thoughtful and methodical way, and we're putting resources to them. So, we're not taking from other markets. We're enhancing those traditional markets we have and adding, through the Asian market, resources to successfully enter into those markets.
Ms. Duncan: Let me try this question another way. The marketing budget is so big. There's additional funding allocated in the supplementary budget, and the minister has just indicated that it is primarily targeted at the European market. What is the percentage breakdown now of the entire marketing budget? Is 80 percent targeted toward the North American market? It is 12 percent to the European market and six percent to the Asian market? I'm looking for those specific figures from the minister. They have been provided before.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I can provide the percentages of the market space as it is historically to the member opposite. What I will say again on my feet here is that we're adding to those existing markets, so we've already taken it up to another percentage level this year and, at the same time, we're encountering new markets and we're putting our money to those. Yes, I will provide the percentage breakdown that you want.
Ms. Duncan: Is the entire supplementary amount requested solely for the European marketing efforts?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, there's, I do believe, $50,000 in there for the Asia-Pacific also.
Ms. Duncan: While we're on the subject of the European market, some of the wilderness tourism operators have brought to my attention some concerns around working in Europe. My understanding is that European wholesalers who, of course, are subject to the European Economic Union and the travel conditions, et cetera, are now wishing to deal solely with receptive operators rather than directly with some of our wilderness tourism operators, which, in effect, adds another step.
Now, we have some very good, receptive operators here, and I understand that it's a growing market as well. However, there is a difficulty presented for some of these wilderness tourism operators - for example, in the lengths of the tour that people are looking for and in making contact with receptive operators and in this additional step that's now taking place because of the changing marketplace in Europe. I'd like to know from the minister, was this a department-initiated change? Is it a result of some of the events of last summer? What was the cause of this change, and how is the minister's department dealing with it in Europe, and how is the minister's department dealing with assisting the wilderness tourism operators in this change?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, no, Mr. Chair, that is not departmentally initiated. What is departmentally initiated is the marketing strategy and working with those operators in Europe, or wherever they may be, to promote the Yukon Territory.
How they do their business and hook up with others is simply how they do their business. Of course, our marketers and our marketing council look at these initiatives, try to tie these initiatives together. Certainly we want to promote our products. We have the style-conscious adventure program - those type of wilderness tour operators - the SCA program.
We put extra resources to those particular programs and that is truly for the wilderness tourism operators and that is specific to them for the niche type of market that they have. So, we'll continue to do those types of things.
You know, last year there were some problems when the bankruptcies happened and that put a little bit of a shudder and a scare into the people in the east and in Europe and so on. So, they have such things as the guarantees, the insurance issues, and they feel more comfortable going through the receptive-type operators, but that is the way business is done in tourism.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I understand that how an individual operator does their business is their business. I understand that. I also fully understand the department's initiatives with respect to the SCA program and other efforts they have undertaken to work with the wilderness tourism industry. I understand those.
The specific concern I'm bringing to the minister's attention is that the changing way of doing business in Europe - this insistence upon going through receptive operators - is posing some difficulty for the current wilderness tour operators in the Yukon. It's presenting a difficulty for them, and it's the department's role to work with business, to facilitate business and there is a problem. That's what I'm trying to bring to the minister's attention.
The biggest effect of this change is on our communities. The receptive operators have an easier time selling a two-, or three-, or four-day package. Those packages are largely out of Whitehorse. The longer, more extensive wilderness trips are out of the communities, and there is a wonderful opportunity for communities with that.
And there's an emerging issue in the marketplace that the minister's department could be of assistance with. I'm bringing it to the department's and the minister's attention, and I'd like to request that he examine the situation and see where the department and the staff could be of assistance.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Chair, I thank you for bringing it to my attention, but certainly, as I have already stated, we are working with the receptive operators to be able to bring in and include our independent operators in our trip packages. We're doing that as we carry on. It's just a part of everyday business as we do it.
There were only one or two receptive operators just a few short years ago, and now there are up to, I believe, about six of the operators in here.
So certainly, we'll continue to do that work, and I thank the member for her question.
Ms. Duncan: In Europe, there are a tremendous number of travel trade shows, as the minister well knows. The policy, as I understand it, is that in North America, Tourism Industry Association has its members attend travel trade shows and speak on behalf of the Yukon at the travel booths.
Why is the policy different in Europe?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I'm sorry, I didn't understand the member's question. Would you mind repeating it to me again - the difference in policy?
Ms. Duncan: Let me explain it with an example for the minister. There's a - I believe it's a sportsman trade show in Seattle. The Tourism Industry Association works with their members, and they have very clear guidelines. Their members go down and represent the Yukon at that booth. They work with the department and TIA; they represent the Yukon at that booth.
In Europe, there are a number of similar travel trade shows. The Yukon operator who wants to go over and staff the booth has no opportunity to do so. Tourism Industry Association doesn't handle that end of it. I have had constituents who have come to me and said, "We've tried to do this and have been told we can't."
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, we certainly do represent the Yukon and will continue to represent the Yukon at all the major tourism shows and marketing shows. As the member well knows, we have some very important ones. There are also some that we do not go to simply because we just don't have the money or the resources to go to them, so we try to be very focused with our dollars.
What we do have that we have never had before is the opportunity for entrepreneurs - and I say that in a general sense of people in the business - to access the tourism marketing fund. We have had success with dog-mushing kennels going to Europe, and others, and we'll continue to do that type of initiative. That's what the tourism marketing fund is for. As the member knows, it is a citizen-led board. It has its terms and guidelines that it does follow, but those are the tools that this government put in place to help curb some of the problems that you're talking of.
Ms. Duncan: Is the minister saying that if our agent in Europe books a booth at XYZ travel show and businesses in the Yukon said, "I would like to go and help staff that booth" - because it's not an easy task. It's many hours on your feet, answering many, many questions. Is it possible for that person or that business, under certain guidelines, to participate in that booth? Is that possible?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Not all cases, that's not at all possible. If you take the case of the ITB, gosh, it's got more people there than maybe B.C. does there. It's very quick, it's very fast, and it's very professional. There are folks there who have a focused product. They know what they want. There are 15-minute time slots. Some are only five-minute time slots - boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, she goes like that.
What we do and what we have done, previous Ministers of Tourism and I and others before the previous one, is that we have always been there to showcase and to be what we are in the Yukon Territory and to work. And I can say it's very successful. Whoever started that many years ago had a heck of a good idea when we did that type of thing.
They are for organizations or countries only. What we do, though, in certain cases, if and when we can, is to provide that assistance to others, and we encourage them to go to these trade shows, go to Rendezvous Canada, go to the ITB if you can, but, by gosh, those ITBs are just huge. It's just huge. It's so well coordinated that you have to have a very focused, concerted effort, and the department does lead us in that concerted effort.
When and if we can, that's what we have the tourism marketing fund for - so that they will be able to go to these different shows, where appropriate, where applicable, and showcase their wares. In the case of some of the receptives here, they do go out and do that, and then they bring with them a lot of the tour packages that are from the Yukon Territory specifically, whatever their tour packages encompass, and they do do that. So, you do that.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I wasn't referring to ITB. I was referring to some of the smaller trade shows, where Yukon has booked a booth - some of them that are a different format from ITB.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: Are you wanting to be in this debate? Wait your turn.
The issue was brought forward by a wilderness operator, who stopped by the Yukon booth, asked if they could participate, and they were told no.
Is there any opportunity for individuals, or any opportunity for feedback to the department, in the evaluation of our participation at these trade shows? Is there an opportunity for the minister's department to receive feedback?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Oh, yes. Absolutely. We always encourage feedback. Again, though, I would like to say that some trade shows do have limits. Where we can, and if it focuses on what we do, we do go ahead and we do those types of issues. But we're very wise and very proud of the department in how they can take limited marketing dollars and leverage them, in some cases, up to 15:1. That's the name of the game. That's a professional marketer. And we take those wise resources, and we certainly have to focus them on where we want to go. We want to keep the Yukon as a high-end, world-class destination, so we start to focus with those people.
We know that tourism operators out there have great product. I mean, the Yukon can practically sell itself, with just a little assistance. But we have great people out there, doing those types of things. We do everything we can to help those people showcase their markets, if and when we can. We've got money in this budget right now, in the tourism marketing fund, just to help those people to showcase. Those are in smaller trade fairs for their peculiar-needs product than other major trade shows. So, we are doing what the member asks.
Ms. Duncan: The specific concerns regarding those trade shows and attendance at the European trade shows I have been approached with, I will forward to the minister. I'd like to speak with the minister about the Canadian Tourism Commission. The Yukon representative on the board is noted on the Web site, and I have spoken with her at some length. It's Geraldine Van Bibber. Neil Hartling serves on the Canada committee, and Mr. Roth, formerly of the Yukon, is on the European committee. Formerly, the deputy minister served on the Canadian Tourism Commission, and, at present, Judd Buchanan has now appointed the British Columbia deputy minister to that Canadian Tourism Commission. Now, the Yukoners serving on the Canadian Tourism Commission aren't employees of the department. How does the department establish communication links with these individuals?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, smoke signals and telephones. No, it's ongoing dialogue with them. What we do, in the case of Ms. Hancock and what we had done through her representation representing both B.C. and the Yukon, we always try to have our Yukon representative there as we can. We have to share, and what we do is work through the staff. We work through those folks who represent us in those different areas. We have ongoing dialogue with them. The deputy minister, the acting deputy minister - the deputy minister when she's here and back and healthy - and the marketing branch plays a very large and key role in working back and forth. And I can say that it has been a very good role that they played in communicating, however they communicate, through voice-to-voice, face-to-face communications. It has been very good, because we've actually, in the last few years, been managing to get some resources out of the CTC, such as when we went after a charter from Europe, they were there with us and for us and to work with us to those ends. We go to the ITB and other places; we meet with them at Showcase Canada, at the ITB and other areas. They have people in place everywhere and when we go in there, it's like a first-name basis with my deputy ministers and marketers, and not just simply at that level, but very much at the marketer level, the grunt level, if I can say it.
Those guys who get out there and do that work right in the front lines. It is a very, very powerful group of people who keep us there. And they're very knowledgeable in the industry - very knowledgeable in the industry. They're all well-connected. It's like one little family-kind of tourism, as you look around the world toward that. And it's all done just through ongoing dialogue.
Ms. Duncan: I would take it from the minister's response that there are scheduled ongoing opportunities. They aren't simply ad hoc, but there are specific opportunities.
Is the department's opinion solicited in terms of the appointments to the Canadian Tourism Commission?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Oh, certainly. You know, as we share seats - they're not guaranteed seats, they're shared seats, in our particular case - we do, again, have ongoing dialogue with Judd Buchanan. I talked to Judd Buchanan and others in the field, and I will continue to do so, because you have to reach ahead with a vision in order to see where you're going here. And that's certainly what the Canadian Tourism Commission is all about.
Ms. Duncan: I'd like to speak briefly with the minister regarding the full-service agency contract. When the contract was awarded there was a local hire commitment. How many employees are currently working in the Yukon? And so I don't have the minister bobbing up and down, perhaps he could run through some questions with respect to the operation of the full-service agency.
Have the expenditures of dollars that were tracked under previous contracts - how much money was spent locally - been tracked lately, and does the minister have the figures, while he's on his feet?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: As far as the local-hire initiatives, I understand that Parallel was having a problem here, but they've gone out and hired a person in the community now, I believe. They didn't have one for a time because somebody had quit their job, or something like that, and now I understand that they have recruited and are in the process right now of fulfilling that job again.
Expenditures - oh boy, I just don't have that right here at my fingertips, because there are different issues: the vacation guide, different expenditures for different issues. I will provide all that information on Parallel and the dollars that we put toward them and also the services that we gained from them to the member opposite as quickly as I can compile it.
Ms. Duncan: I have a specific question, because I know departmental officials will be working on this: a dollar figure and the percentage that is spent locally as well. Does the minister have a date when the Web site, particularly the winter version and the German and French versions, will be dealt with and when it will be fully functional?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, we were talking this weekend and I do believe it was mid-January that it is targeted for, that it will all be pulled together then. I take it that we want to wait till after the Y2K to see what happens there before we do anything. January 15 is the target date.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, in previous budgets there has been a budget amount for foreign exchange. It's included in the marketing branch. In previous figures, there was a 42-percent loss of buying power and basically, a cost to the government of about $28,000. Now, the Canadian dollar, much as we all love Canada, has had a bit of a rough summer, and I wonder if there is additional money contained in the supplementary budget or what the figure has been in the department this year. What percentage have we lost in our buying power due to the foreign exchange rate, and what has been the dollar figure attached to that loss of buying power?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, we're attempting to find it internally right now. I mean, yes, we have just gone over to the euro dollar and those type of uncertainties, but certainly we always continue to keep up with the buying power that we have. Again, I just don't have a figure right at my fingertips, but certainly we can provide the discrepancy. Yes, we can provide that.
Ms. Duncan: I'd like to speak with the minister about winter tourism. In a public document, the Ontario government noted that their investment in trails throughout that province was the best investment they had ever made - the investment in trails for the snowmobiling industry. We're speaking of winter tourism. It was the best investment Ontario had ever made.
Yukon has shown some support for the Trans Canada Trail. I believe there has been CDF funding in the amount of about $80,000, and the government in the past has supported the Klondike Snowmobile Association in Rendezvous '98. Nationally we're about 43-percent complete, and in the Yukon we're about 34-percent complete on the Trans Canada Trail, which is ahead of a number of other provinces.
This investment in trails, including the Trans Canada Trail and the investment in the snowmobiling industry as a winter tourism product, has more than paid off and can more than pay off. Snowmobiling has a huge economic impact, as the minister I'm sure well knows. The industry is worth $3.5 billion in Canada, and I know there are many Yukoners who enjoy the sport and many Yukoners who enjoy our wilderness without specific trails necessarily.
I would like the minister to indicate how we are working specifically with the Klondike Snowmobile Association and other snowmobile associations in the territory. I know there's an active organization in Watson Lake, and one in Haines Junction as well. How are we supporting Yukon trails in addition to the Trans Canada Trail, and how are we tracking this winter tourism? We have only just started to track the investment and the dollars that flow into our economy as a result of the Sourdough Rendezvous. How are we tracking the snowmobile tourism?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, we're certainly not tracking the snowmobile event of tourism because we know that it is an event. I'm just so proud to say that we can, in part, help the sponsor associations, like Thunder on Ice and the Trek over the Top and snowmobile races from Watson Lake to Tag 200 - all those types of issues. We know that they're a local community drawing card. The territorial government is a very proud sponsor of the Trans Canada Trail. I think it's a great thing. One day I hope to do it myself. That's my secret little dream - to go from here to there on a snow machine and have a look at the country, too. So, I'm very supportive of what it is, and I will continue to be very supportive of it because it is definitely a part of winter tourism.
If the member will notice, on every visual we have, we do portray the Yukon - somebody coming over the top with a snow machine and a rooster tail out the back, and yahoo. That's a lure. That's exactly why we do that thing.
So, there is no real tracking mechanism on it, but we're very interested in it, and we're continuing to work to develop winter tourism.
And now that we're talking about winter tourism - because you want to know about winter tourism - in a few short months, we're going to have two tours of 20 each, I believe, from Japan coming here in January for winter tourism - two tours.
We have interest expressed from China for these types of issues. So, what they're interested in is winter. They're just fascinated with winter and what Yukon has to offer. So, that's our product that we're taking to them.
We're definitely hoping that we'll have these people coming over to see our northern lights that we have in the winter. They have beliefs that married couples should start to raise their families there - those traditional type of beliefs. All those types of issues here - if Yellowknife can get 8,000 of them, by gosh, I can't see why this country can't get 8,000 or so of them to come over, either.
So, that's the basis of winter tourism and where we're going to help promote it to the Asia-Pacific countries.
I've just got to talk a little bit about the Northern Lights Centre in Watson Lake and the work that they started doing a few short years ago - what Pat Irvin and Dave Leverton are doing for the group down there in Watson Lake, and that's through Listel's also, if I remember correctly. They're just bringing in some Taiwanese people, so we have great fascination and great interest in winter tourism from all of Asia-Pacific, and I think it's just one of the best things that we could ever invest in. As I say this, I've got to stand and say that when this government listened, we absolutely listened to the Watson Lake folk and the country folk, as they're out there saying, "How can we participate?" and therein lies the start of the tourism marketing fund, right there. They wanted to go to these shows that we weren't putting a lot of resources into, and they said, "If we put this up, can you put this up, because we can go and accomplish this?" and, doggone it, they brought it home. And there was the seat of the tourism marketing fund. So, we'll continue to work toward that advent of helping people, and we'll also continue to work with the Trans Canada Trail committee and different people so that we might be able to bring tourism to the Yukon Territory year-round.
Ms. Duncan: The point I was trying to make with the minister is that elsewhere in this country - Ontario - has noted that an investment in a trail structure was a good investment. It was the best investment they'd ever made. I have recognized the government's investment in the Trans Canada Trail and, most importantly, the public's , the volunteers', our own - I don't think there's a member in this House who doesn't support the Trans Canada Trail, and the government has financially. Snowmobiling for Canadians, as well as for North Americans, is a huge market. The curlers who came up this weekend, the ones that didn't make it to the finals, were out snowmobiling this weekend. That's the one thing they wanted to do. This is a burgeoning market. It's a huge opportunity for the Yukon. What I was trying to determine with that answer from the minister is, is there a plan?
Is there any sort of plan to say: here's where we are going to be in five years; this is what we're going to do; this is how we're going to work with the trappers; this is how we're going to work with First Nations; this is how we're going to work with the associations and develop a Yukon trail system.
Is there any plan? Or are we just going to fly by the seat of the minister's whim at the moment?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Fly by the minister's seat of the whim of the moment? Did I just get bitten? I'm not sure. Oh, well, this government's whims increased tourism visitation here in all seasons of the year. They're not whims. This is methodical and thought out.
And yes, yes, absolutely yes. There is a product or a part of the Yukon winter tourism marketing that focuses on snowmobiling.
Is there a plan to enhance it and to continue it? No, we do it through our visuals as I have said. We do it through the support of the Trans Canada Trail committee. I'm very proud of Mr. Greenlaw and the work that they do from the Klondike Snowmobile Association. He sends me updates every chance he gets. I enjoy reading them about once every three weeks, because it shows his interest. It also shows our commitment to them, and we'll continue to do those types of initiatives.
First Nations within the Yukon Territory have those traditional trails that they're just starting now to incorporate into the regional plans, and to say, "This is what we can do. This is where we're going to do it, and how we're going to do it." And they're not looking simply with vroom vroom vroom rip rip rip. They're doing it with dog mushing and other traditional ways. With skiing - that's the importance of trails, and that's what this department will continue to showcase.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I think the answer was buried in there somewhere. The Thunder on Ice event, which was mentioned by the minister, was a very successful event last year, and I would guess that the video that was produced will be award winning, from the three times a day I have watched it over the last couple of weeks.
The minister also mentioned the Yukon Quest. The Yukon Quest, Sourdough Rendezvous, Klondike Snowmobile Association, even the most recent event, the TSN event this weekend, are all huge, huge volunteer commitments, and the issues for these volunteer boards is often having one, part-time - a portion - of a staff person, who can help coordinate between events.
This is certainly an issue with the Yukon Quest, and it's an issue with the Sourdough Rendezvous. It's one that I know the government has been approached on many times. Certainly, the government funds events and gives projects specific funding, but for these organizations a big issue is being able to have that guaranteed, part-time - or portion of a time - staff person.
Has the minister made any progress in working with these organizations on that issue?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, the very program that the member opposite votes against every year for the last three years, the CDF, is instrumental in funding those programs. Just this year, and just in the last little while, I've sat and talked with the Quest board and I've talked with Mr. Cheeseman from the Sourdough Rendezvous board. I've explained to them that, in partnership, we might be able to do these types of things, such as, "I'd like for you to look at ways that you can look at the broader, greater world out there," because volunteerism is a very important part of the community fabric and very much a part of what these two particular boards that we're speaking about do.
We brought a new position into the department to help work with these people, just simply to go from there and to work with these folks to find out how we can do it.
I've given speeches, and very proudly, and I know the member opposite has done that before himself, to stand and say that it's a cornerstone of winter tourism and that we will build from it. Well, this government has done that.
I've sat there and talked with the Quest folks and with the Rendezvous folks and listened to them. I understand what their plans are, and I have committed to them that I would sit on it; I would think on it; I would look at it and try to find a way that we might be able to work out a long-term solution to the problems that they encounter. I've committed to that.
Ms. Duncan:I thank the minister for sharing that commitment with the House. Now, what has he done on that commitment?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, I would just like to say to that commitment that I have made that commitment in the last month, and I said I'd work for it and I will continue to work to that end.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, is there a program being developed that's going to assist in providing these non-government organizations, these events with the ability to hire a part-time staff person?
The CDF and the specific project funding are appreciated by these organizations. They have said that many times. The problem is funding that staff person, and that's what CDF funding, at least for these organizations, won't do, and they have been told that.
Now, the minister has told them that he'll work with them, that he'll try and find somebody or he'll try and find some way to fund them. What does that mean? Does it mean: look next year to the spring budget? Does it mean: we'll develop a program so that you can access it? What does that commitment mean, and when will we see results?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: It simply means that I'm working on options. I have instructed the department to work on options, and when those options are ready, I'll share them with the House.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the minister has said he has hired - and I was aware that he had hired - an individual to work with non-government organizations and liaise with the department. What exactly are that individual's responsibilities? Was he - and I happen to know it was a he, so I'm not using sexist language - provided with a budget to be able to assist these organizations?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: He works within the context of industry services.
Ms. Duncan: Is it his sole specific responsibility to act as liaison between organizations and the government?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: He helps with the TMF applications. He works on product development.
Ms. Duncan: Were there any specific funds or direction given to this individual to assist organizations with their staffing requirements?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: He's instructed to work with them to help them improve access to government-type programs - as I said, the tourism marketing fund - and he works within industry services, which is all-encompassing for product development.
Ms. Duncan: Perhaps this individual could deal with the ongoing issue of the bleachers that has not seen resolution yet - as of at least two weeks ago. These are the capital items that were for sale by Fulda, that Sourdough Rendezvous wanted to buy and repaint and rent to other groups. TSN volunteers spent hours and hours constructing what's probably not the most comfortable seating arrangements, and now we have these assets and this money that was spent in constructing those bleachers. We have other bleachers that are for sale in the community, and there are a number of events that could use them. The minister is nodding his head. Obviously, he is aware of the problem. Has that one specific issue, which I know was turned down for some funding, been somehow resolved by the department?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, no, it hasn't been resolved by the department. I know that the bleachers that were used by Fulda, as mentioned here, were given to the City of Whitehorse, I believe, by Fulda. So, I know that there was a problem out there. Certainly I can talk to folks and find out. I know that with the present mayor and council that we have, we have a very good working relationship. I know that if we communicate beforehand, we can solve any problem there is. Anything that they have, especially for tourism and what we do in tourism - the city works very closely with the department. We'll continue to foster that relationship.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, it wasn't the City of Whitehorse that was dealing with the department on this issue. It was Sourdough Rendezvous, the Quest, TSN needed them, Thunder on Ice needed these. They were trying to work an arrangement so we could have a movable, viable product, if you will, to assist in hosting these events and in making our events better. It was perhaps a simple issue, but it speaks volumes about that can-do attitude that the minister referred to yesterday. I hope that the minister will look for a can-do solution on that one, simple issue.
I'd like to ask the minister a history question. In terms of the Anniversaries Commission, although it wrapped up in 1998, and 1999 is drawing to a close, I have never seen a final accounting or a final reporting tabled in this Legislature for the Anniversaries Commission. Has that been prepared for the department?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, and I'll table it.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, if there was a balance of funds, can the minister indicate what happened to them?
Also, there were certain licensing arrangements with specific symbols. What happened with those licensing arrangements once the anniversaries ended?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: As I recall, there were some funds that were over. I'm just speaking from two years' knowledge now - two years ago - and if I can remember we put some of those funds toward different issues, and the Convention Bureau comes to mind for some reason or other. I'll have to check into this again and get back to the member.
As to the assets, they were scattered out among different organizations also.
As to the licensing, I would ask you to stand again and tell me a little bit more about the licensing so I can understand where you're coming from so I might be able to get the information.
Ms. Duncan: I'm referring to the specific licensing of the anniversaries symbol. There were revenues generated for the Anniversaries Commission from the sale of certain products that included that symbol. What happens to the future sales, and how are any royalties from that symbol being shown in the department's revenues and accounting?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I'll have to check into that.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the issue around airlines and airline service to the Yukon has been the subject of much debate in this Legislature. There is, of course, the improvement of air access to the territory for the Tourism department, and there is also the issue of daily service with respect to the future of Canadian Airlines.
Can the minister advise who is taking the lead in Cabinet in monitoring the airline situation with Canadian Airlines in the Yukon, and how their channels of communication are working with the tourism industry, as well as the rest of Cabinet, if you will?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Community and Transportation Services is the lead on that issue.
Ms. Duncan: And the lead in Cabinet would be the minister, one would assume.
The airlines that are travelling to the Yukon - and there are increased airlines travelling from Germany to the Yukon, from points in Europe. My understanding is that there are certain environmental concerns with the aircraft's first landing in Canada.
Is the Department of Tourism working with Community and Transportation Services on these airline issues, or are the airlines' specific needs and concerns with landing in Whitehorse being handled solely by Community and Transportation Services?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Déjà vu, Mr. Speaker. I'll take the member back to yesterday's conversation on the marketing council. And I think I used as an example that air access is one of those issues that could be and will be addressed through that process, so that we will have all the major players, or the players who are most pertinent to the specific issue - in this case it's air access, so it will be the airport manager, Community and Transportation Services, director of aviation, director of marketing in the Tourism Branch, and other players who are peculiar to the system.
Ms. Duncan: Is that subcommittee of the marketing council up and running now and dealing currently with the issues that we're facing with the additional flights this summer?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Not in a formal sense, but, certainly, all the players that will be in there in the formal sense are players within the system.
Ms. Duncan: Is there any group or subcommittee, then, dealing now with these issues, or are we waiting until this committee is formal and up and running?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, Mr. Chair, I pointed out in that statement also that the players are not formally appointed to the committee, but the players are certainly working to the issue, and that is of air access in this case. Yes, they are. All the players are there.
Is it a formal committee at this time? Not quite there, but, certainly, as I said yesterday, we have been working for the last couple or three months, four months, with the industry, and things are starting to solidify and gel so that we will have this committee.
Ms. Duncan: Is this group working on the issues around the bottleneck on Thursdays, and what resolution have they come to?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, we just happen to have Air Transat coming in on a Tuesday, and Balair and Condor Air are far enough apart from each other on Thursday that we'll make it very safe, and it will not cause a congestion problem.
Ms. Duncan: Is that the resolution that has been arrived at, or is that the resolution that is just being proposed at this point?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: We're there.
Ms. Duncan: Are there formal, written agreements with Air Transat and the other two that are coming in, and is the minister prepared to table them or provide them? Either agreements in terms of their working with the Yukon or is there a marketing agreement?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I'm so very proud of the work that we've done in the Tourism department here in the last few years that we don't need formal agreements. People want to come here. They all want to come on the same day, it seems. No, there are no formal agreements in place, but there are certainly marketing agreements and I will share the marketing agreements.
Ms. Duncan: Are the marketing agreements involving a financial expenditure by the department, and how much is it for each airline and what are the parameters of it?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, they will be financial agreements. I will have to get the exact figures back to the member opposite.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, perhaps the minister would give me an indication. He may prefer to have these questions addressed to him as C&TS minister in terms of airport equipment and airport arrangements. Would the minister prefer that those were left to Community and Transportation Services?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: The Community and Transportation Services portion of this debate is over, but certainly if the member is asking for information on - Can she tell me a little bit about what it is she is asking for and I'll ensure that she gets the information?
Ms. Duncan: I can follow up. I don't want to waste a tremendous amount of House time. I'd just like some information regarding the equipment. It was leased in 1998. Has it been purchased? Are we purchasing any new equipment or requiring any new equipment for the airlines coming in? I would like an answer with respect to the environmental concerns to be addressed. There are issues when a plane first lands in Canada or North America, and I'm interested to know if those have been addressed. A written answer from the minister is fine.
Prior to the break, I would like to move to the -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan:The minister is asking to answer.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, I will provide the information by letter for all the issues that the member is talking about. I would like the member to explain a little bit more about those environmental concerns that she's talking about, if she would, please.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I'll be pleased to address those after the break, if the minister wishes.
Chair: Do the members wish to recess?
Some Hon. Member: Agreed.
Chair: Ten minutes.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Is there further debate on the Department of Tourism?
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, before we left for the break, we were discussing the enhanced air access and increased flights into the Yukon, and I had a moment to consider the minister's previous response when I'd asked what financial arrangements had been made with airlines. The minister indicated he would get back to me in writing. Does he have any information at his fingertips about the financial arrangements we have made with these airlines?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, they're just standard cooperative marketing agreements, as I did say. I said we do have marketing agreements with them. There are no other types of agreements out there other than marketing agreements. We do have them. They could be - I wouldn't even know what they were, to say a figure. I just couldn't tell you what a figure is.
I will get the information back to you as to what each airline figure is.
Ms. Duncan: Are other arrangements that have been previously made, like arrangements with Canada 3000, included in that list, or do we still have financial marketing arrangements with them?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, certainly, Mr. Chair, we have marketing arrangements with all our airlines, including Canadian and Canada 3000, and I'll table all those for the member.
Ms. Duncan: And I would assume that in light of the fluctuation, if you will, in the Canadian Airlines situation, that for the moment the situation is status quo with these marketing arrangements?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Absolutely.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, when we left the debate we were talking about the environmental concerns with transcontinental flights? I was referring in part - or most importantly, I guess, to waste disposal when the aircraft lands.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Thank you very much for clarifying that. Yes, Mr. Chair, that is a standard part of the process that we go through to ensure that it is done in a clearly methodical way, and done to standard.
Ms. Duncan: And those arrangements are in place for the coming summer?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, before we move on to another part of the department, the minister and I had spoken briefly about Rocky Mountain Campers, and the unfortunate situation that developed last summer, and there was some question during some of our earlier debates about financial assistance, and how we were going to be involved. How did that situation ultimately get resolved?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I do believe that, as partners with the Canadian Tourism Commission, as I have stated earlier, we have arrangements with the Canadian Tourism Commission as a part of their mandate to help us out, of course, in marketing, not product development, but, certainly, in the marketing end of the initiatives.
The CTC put together a fund, which Yukon did contribute $25,000 to, of, I think, approximately $300,000 from other Canadian jurisdictions that were affected and had been affected, and it affected all of Canada, as I recall. We took that $300,000, and we put it over into Europe with the wholesalers, not with necessarily anybody else, but with the wholesalers who were affected so that they might be able to - and these are marketing dollars - take the hit, which they had to take, but to still enable the visitors to come to the Yukon Territory. So it turned out to be a win-win situation for us.
Ms. Duncan: And the total cost to the Yukon taxpayer was $25,000? The minister is nodding his head. The department has embarked in previous marketing work and tourism development work with Alaska, partners in British Columbia and other partners. Are there any specific initiatives or programs being undertaken in cooperation with the town or community of Atlin?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, we do have the agreement, the Tourism North program. It's a program that has been around for quite awhile and then it died and then it came back. That was done in cooperation with the northern portion of British Columbia, Alaska and the Yukon Territory, and certainly Atlin is represented in that region.
Ms. Duncan: There are specific concerns with respect to Atlin, and I understand they're part of the Tourism North programming, and I understand the program. I am somewhat familiar with it. I was interested if the department was undertaking any specific initiatives solely with that community, not as part of the Tourism North program, but any joint festival work or any joint marketing work. Are we including them in specific brochures? Are there any joint efforts specifically with that community?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, Mr. Chair, there are not.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, perhaps I could just note that there are also specific concerns with that community and many Yukon residents, and there is a question on the Order Paper for the minister.
The millennium project is under this particular minister's portfolio, or under his watch, so to speak, and there is enhanced funding. Can the minister give an indication of the funding of the projects to date and advise what criteria, in terms of performance indicators, are attached to this? What will be the final reporting of the millennium events?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Again, Mr. Chair, it's a citizen-led board, and they do very, very fine work. The Yukon millennium fund celebration - as you know, we're bringing more dollars forth this year for the celebration. It has been very well taken up. I thought I had supplied your office with the criteria for the millennium fund. Do you have that - the principles and the process of it? And yes, I do have a whole list of applicants who have applied and been approved. I can certainly provide that to your office.
Ms. Duncan: I have reviewed the criteria and so on, and there's enhanced funding in this. I have asked other ministers, in terms of debate and follow-up on these funding arrangements, how we're tracking them once a project is complete - "performance indicators" is the term that is commonly used - in terms of determining whether or not the event was successful, or the particular project was as successful as it hoped to be, or more so. It's entirely possible that some of them will be. What sort of tracking mechanisms are set up within the department to work as follow-up to the project funding?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, certainly, they have to fit the intent of the criteria of the Yukon millennium celebration fund. The performance indicators that we have built in are the number of volunteers there are, the participants, making sure that it does fit the scope, the scope of the activities, the tourists to make it a tourist-type of attraction, and then the money flows as per normal. Is that what the member is talking about - how the money flows? Does it flow 100 percent up front? Because no, it does not. I believe a portion is flowed, and then when you go so far along, then the rest is flowed to you. It's just a standard procedure.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, what I'm talking about is when a specific project is funded. The final cheque is cut and the final report is filed. What happens then? Does that report sit on a shelf, or is there some method by which the millennium project funding ties into future tourism planning, industry service centre reports? What happens at that point?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: For one thing, I guess about the only way I can go and ask somebody if they had fun at a party is, "How large is your head?" Because that's what this is. This is a celebration. This is a celebration of the millennium. There are many different - we have the speakers bureau, we have the celebration bureau that we have contained within the fund itself.
Communities are to focus on the principles of what they want, and they have many avenues to go laterally or forward as to how they would particularly like to celebrate the millennium, how they would celebrate the millennium in their community. It can be spaced out over the course of months. It doesn't have to all happen on January 1 or December 31. We have such really innovative issues that are happening at Crag Lake with writers' retreats, all sorts of really wonderful things. In part, they're an attraction. They have ideas that will sprinkle out to the communities, to their targeted group, that would bring them on home to wherever "on home" is, for that peculiar celebration.
It does not tie definitely into a tourism strategy, per se. It does not do that, but yet it will add to that. It's not a report. They are not reports. They are celebrations that apply on a strict criteria, and at the end of it there's not going to be a report that sits there. There is going to be, in many cases, a thank-you note to the department for the good work that we have done and to government to thank us for bringing this type of program to the communities to enable them to celebrate in their own peculiar fashion.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: The backbenchers are saying, "Cheers," and the minister just said "thank-you notes". Is the minister saying then, that when all is said and done - and, I think, we're up to $1 million that has been spent - we're not going to be able to - pardon me, $800,000 - we won't be able to evaluate that fund and say, "Oh, there were six attractions developed as a result. There were events that were started and are now ongoing in the community that have developed into a tourism event. There was XYZ." There's not going to be anything to show for it other than a thank-you note?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, community spirit. Wow. Doing different things, involving one another, developing social fabric, parents working with children, children being with grandparents; community involvement. Doing all these really neat and wonderful things; looking to the future to celebrate this millennium, and looking to the future of the community and to enable it to move forward as a community. How can you measure that? It's difficult to measure.
But what you can do is put a program in place to facilitate it, and that's exactly what we've done. We put a program in place to facilitate it. I would hope that it will expand and it will create, and things will come out of it. And very likely it will. Very likely it will. There will be a seed of an idea that people will see and say, "Holy moly. This can work. Maybe we should do this on an ongoing basis, because it's going to bring people to us here." So it's definitely a seed; it's community, it's family, it's volunteerism - it's Yukon at its best. Difficult to measure but easy to promote.
Ms. Duncan: There is an additional funding allocation in this supplementary budget. Is there a new funding deadline, or granting deadline?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: The granting deadlines are the same.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, we'll leave that fund for the moment. The heritage budget has shown some welcome supplementary amounts in it. The passport program was previously funded under heritage. Is there a commitment to one in the year 2000?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Oh, absolutely. That's one of our most successful programs, in getting people to the communities and the museums, and sprinkling them out and about to them.
Ms. Duncan: I'm sure that there are many museum boards that will appreciate hearing that.
I've previously asked the minister to examine - I think each year for the previous couple of debates that we've most certainly enjoyed in this Legislature - funding for museum staff and to look at whether or not this ongoing funding could be tied in some way to cost-of-living increases or increases that are granted in other situations.
Has there been any examination of the remuneration for these museum staff, in terms of their funding levels by the department?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Speaker, I think, under this government, that the budget for museums - and we're speaking of museums particularly - has not gone down; it has gone up. We have looked at different ways, through capital initiatives, to help museums display - in some cases they want display cases for this display, and in another case they want display cases for this display, and other things like that. We'll continue to do those types of initiatives. We've had an increase for museums, and kept them stable, and we'll continue to work that. The process that we do that under is certainly through the budgetary process that we're now involved in.
And, I guess I just have to say it again that in Dawson City, a gentleman who has worked around Canada has deemed this to be heritage heaven. I mean, my gosh, I've said it again and again, and I'm going to continue to say it, maybe until I'm up there plucking that harp myself, but, certainly, when it's compared to heritage heaven - and I will get there, for the good work that this government's doing, I will get there and be plucking that harp - I'll be getting there because of heritage heaven here in the Yukon Territory.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the other members will get their turn to enjoy this debate, I'm sure. The point I was trying to make with the minister is that having dealt, as all of us in this House have, with non-government organizations, frequently, when organizations are being run on a shoestring, it's the staff that are the last to enjoy any sort of increase. And the minister has said that there has been an increase to museum funding. I have asked repeatedly in this House that the department examine the staff operations, over and above the physical assets of the museum. The minister has said, "Well, we fund the different cases," and there was a bit of an announcement about heritage heaven there. The point I'm making is that the staff cost is a major component. People who are dedicated to Yukon's heritage - and the volunteer commitment in addition to their paid commitments - are what keep these attractions running, that keep our heritage alive for us. And I would just like to see, at some point, their salaries reviewed and an increase of funding to museums for that purpose, recognizing the good work that these people do.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, certainly, this government would never attempt to tell NGOs how to do their business, but certainly this government, in its recognition of NGOs - and, in this particular case, communities are not really an NGO, although they're a museum. We give them the dollars, and they set the priorities for their O&M and capital expenditures.
Ms. Duncan: I understand how that funding works. I'm not asking the minister to dictate that the George Johnston Museum in Teslin now pay their staff X amount.
What I'm asking the minister's department to do is to look at that staffing issue in concert with the non-government organizations and recognize that it is an issue and find a way to work with the museums in their efforts to keep these professionals maintaining our heritage heaven, as the minister likes to put it.
I'd like the minister's department to examine that issue with museums and their funding.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Chair, I can't actually say yes to that question. I can't. The reason I say I can't do it is because it is their business. We bring to them a base of solidity. They are very thankful of that. They thanked us for that many times. They would like to see increases, and, as we go along, we attempt to give them increases, and we have, in a lot of cases, succeeded in doing that by working one-on-one with them, and just by the simple fact of giving them three-year funding, in cases of NGOs now, brings a lot of certainty to their operations. They can wheel and deal as they will, and they do.
No, I will not. My department is very, very busy. I'm looking for good work in our ongoing efforts to promote it, and we'll continue to work with the heritage community in every factor that we have. As I said to the member opposite, this is heritage heaven to a lot of people, and it has to be. Why is it? It's because we helped to put resources there and we recognize volunteerism. We recognize it as a cultural attraction to the Yukon Territory for the world to see.
We'll continue to do that good work, but I will not direct my department to go in one-on-one with NGOs to find ways to work with their staff. They're fully capable of doing that. What I will ask the department to do is to continue with the good work that we have been doing, and that is very relevant to the NGOs getting three-year funding and being able to come in and talk to us and talk about their special needs. We'll continue to do that good work.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the minister has not understood the point I was trying to make. I'm not asking the minister's staff to go in and work one-on-one with the museums. I'm saying that I fully understood that museums throughout this territory receive certain funding. I'm also saying that dedicated museum boards and staff contribute a lot. And if there's an increase in funding, staff aren't always the first considered for an increase. There may be different payscales between the museums. There may be differing levels of expertise.
Our number-one resource is people. We want to keep people working with museums. We want to keep them there. I was just asking the minister if there was any information in his department. In working with the museums, have the museums raised it as an issue with him? Some have raised it with me. I'm asking if maybe someone had raised it with him or if any departmental work had been done on it. I've asked the question for three years, and I still haven't explained it well enough to the minister so that he has been able to answer it, or even commit to working with the museums in that respect. They are personnel issues. Personnel are an important resource, and I would like to see some policy, some work with museums as a whole, in terms of their funding.
Earlier, the minister indicated to me that there would be an upgrade - that the Tour Yukon Web site would be fixed, with respect to the links to the German and French pages. Will the weather link on the Travel Yukon site be fixed, as well?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I'll answer the last question first. Yes, it will be worked on within the same time frame that the others are being done.
Back to heritage heaven, back to museums, back to NGOs - no, no. I will not go in and dictate salaries. Now, you're going to say you're not asking me to dictate salaries. I will not go in and do that with the communities. What I will continue to do - and we do very fine work through our museum advisor. He goes out there and he works with the museums. He helps them on any avenue that he can. He continues to do that good work. Pardon me, the museum advisor continues to do that good work and will continue to do that. I can get you a copy of their job description, if you would choose, and will show where they go and how they do it and what they do with the museums. They have found many avenues to work with - family reunions, et cetera, working with the community museums to show how to get the best bang for the buck. Yes, how to set standards, and they do this stuff.
But what I will not do - and I will not direct my department to do - is to get into telling people how much money they should pay and how much is paid at this museum versus this museum.
Those are stand-alone organizations. I'm very proud. I'm very supportive of the efforts that the volunteers do for their community. I have seen the community fabric and community flourish cultural-wise in the Yukon in the last few years. It's happening, but it's not happening because I'm telling people how much to pay their staff.
So, we'll continue to do the good work.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I invite the minister to review the Blues. I did not ask the department to go in and dictate how much to pay people. I did not ask for that, and I'd appreciate it if the minister would review the Blues. Perhaps the department's museum advisor would review it and respond to me as to how they work on personnel issues.
I'd like to ask the minister about the Yukon's film industry. I have asked the minister before about impacts with respect to wilderness activity. Often these film location shoots take place in pristine Yukon wilderness. This isn't a wilderness activity that you would necessarily get a tourism licence for, but there is an impact on our environment in that, for example, when a particular commercial was shot in Yukon wilderness, there were repeated helicopter visits and a great deal of activity in that particular pristine location for a very short period of time, and it can have an impact.
Is there any work between the Department of Tourism and Renewable Resources on this issue?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, depending on the location, whether it's in a park or in the backwoods of pristine Yukon, we certainly do work with the Department of Renewable Resources on this issue. We're very careful about the impact. We're very, very careful about the impact. We want everything to be low impact on the environment, and certainly it has proven to be so far.
Ms. Duncan: Is there an individual working with film companies, in terms of no trace, low impact? That sort of information is common to those of us who go out in the backcountry, but it's not common to everybody. The low-impact camping guidelines and so on - is that kind of information given out as a matter of course? Or is it simply left to the location company in the Yukon to work with the film company on that particular issue?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, yes, it's a matter of course. We let them know what we'd like to do. We have a film commissioner who works very hard to ensure that things go cohesively. He works with the personnel of the film companies at commercial shoots, or whatever it is, and certainly low impact is one of the principles that we have.
Ms. Duncan: The film industry benefit to Yukon figures for 1997 were $3 million and about 50 jobs were generated. Are the 1998 figures available?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, I will provide the 1998 figures.
Ms. Duncan: Does the minister have any sense of what the 1998 figures were? Were they an increase over 1997? And how are we doing so far in 1999, given that it's almost over?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, I know that we've been working very, very hard. This government created a film incentive fund, and it has been working very, very well so far.
So far we've had three productions in just the last little bit here, creating five commercials. We've had the Pontiac iceboat commercial; we've had the CNA millennium that was filmed here in July; we've had three Trimark Financial commercials filmed in September; a Brita commercial hired Yukon film crews here. They worked in northern British Columbia; they were not qualified for any assistance, but certainly they've been working here and there - here to get out to the British Columbia end.
We're looking to have a movie called Husky. It's a television film to be filmed by a German production company. That's slated to happen in March.
The inquiries, at this point in time, are at an all-time high. The industry is just abuzz. We have been managing to take and lure people from British Columbia and Toronto who come in here to the Yukon to shoot film because of our ideal location and because of our film fund. Right now, we're exploring ways to see how we can actually enhance that. What we have is a slogan here in the territory, "First snow and last snow", and our film commissioner goes out and sells this. We have even scooped people from Whistler in the last little while - commercials here because of our film incentive fund, our first snow and last snow, and because of the aggression and commitment to the industry that the film commissioner has shown.
We're still working with Walt Disney right now for a major film here. The location scout was in town just last week. I have met personally with the location scout. The film commissioner was very attentive. We have taken that person around the Yukon Territory and shown the Yukon Territory. There might have been a need for a major warehouse if they can come here. I'm very pleased to say that the minister responsible for the Liquor Corporation has worked with great diligence with me to try to accommodate it. I have worked with the City of Whitehorse to accommodate this film production. We do not know yet if we have been successful, but if we are, it will certainly mean megabucks into the economy this winter from the film industry.
So, yes, it's a good thing. I can get you more of an update. You asked me for my sense, and that's my sense.
Ms. Duncan: I sense from the minister's sense that he just provided me that the figures for 1998 will be an increase over the $3 million generated, and the figures for 1999 will be even higher.
Now, the minister indicated, or seemed to indicate, in his response that a great deal of this increase is directly related to the Yukon film incentive program. I didn't hear the minister indicate that there was additional money for the film incentive program in the supplementary budget.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: What we've done, Mr. Chair, is raise the ceiling of their spending and allowed them the authority to come back to us through the Management Board initiative. It is very difficult to say that you're going to spend this much money. As soon as we created the fund, the industry went abuzz - just abuzz - from California to Toronto and all over the place. They said, "This is happening in the Yukon."
Now, we've been doing this work through our film commissioner. It's been done with Mr. Rob Toohey and his production company, talking about what we have out there.
Yes, we've created a film incentive fund that is exciting - very exciting. We've allowed a mechanism that would allow them to come back to us so that we would be able to, on a case-by-case basis, look at these issues so that we would never lose. And that's what we have in place at this point in time.
Ms. Duncan: The minister said they've raised the ceiling so they can come back to Management Board. How much has been spent under this fund so far?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: $175,000.
Ms. Duncan: The minister also said that they've allowed this fund to come back to the Management Board and moved the ceiling. Where is the ceiling at now?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: It's at $175,000.
Ms. Duncan: I believe the minister just said, "$175,000"? The authority for this film incentive fund continues, and what is the anticipated expenditure by March 31?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: It's $175,000.
Ms. Duncan: In other words, if this Disney film, which the minister referred to, is able to come back that the money is all gone?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: That is correct, absolutely correct. You get a gold star.
I will explain it a little bit to her, if she likes.
Chair: Order please. I would like to remind the member not to address remarks directly to other members, but through the Chair.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Pardon me, I guess I have never been known to be terribly politically correct and am maybe just a country boy at heart, and I'll certainly endeavour to follow the rules of this House, as I think I have. Thank you very much.
So, what we have is that we know we have created a very exciting film incentive program that is very happening out there. We know that we have to watch our dollars wisely and to spend them in the right authorities, and we'll continue to do so. But by the same token, when we have an opportunity with the excitement that's abuzz in Hollywood about the Hollywood of the north here in the Yukon, we don't want to take a chance on losing something, on losing a big production company. So, what we have said to them is, "Show us what you need, when you have." We have created a fund of $175,000. There was a criterion in there for commercials, et cetera, that they would use. We said to the film commissioner, because he's got some on a line such as the Walt Disney there, "What would it take? And if it takes something over and above $175,000, then you come back to Management Board with that, and we'll discuss it at that time." So, that's the ceiling that he has.
Ms. Duncan: In other words, then, if the film commissioner requires additional funding for the film incentive program, given that he has already spent the $175,000 that was the ceiling, if the film commissioner requires additional money they are required to do a Cabinet board submission, a Management Board submission. Is that what the minister is saying?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I think you have got a baby here, Mr. Chair. That's what I'm saying.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I'll look forward to reviewing that discussion in the Blues tomorrow.
Before we leave debate this evening, I would like to review some of the arts funding that is within the supplementary budget and has been the subject of media releases and discussion over the summer.
The Dawson City Arts Society has received substantial support for different projects and very successful projects in that community - very interesting and an added new dimension to the life in that community. How much has been funded to date to projects like the Oddfellows Hall through the Dawson City Arts Society, and what is the glimpse of the future plans of this organization? Does the minister have a business plan, and is he prepared to share it?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, we've been working with the Dawson City Arts Society in their renovations to the Oddfellows Hall. They have a really wonderful idea, I do believe, and that will help to bring some certainty and more economics to Dawson City over the course of the year. They have a very ambitious plan - or idea, pardon me, if I may. The association is working on preparing a very detailed business plan. They have that in the works at this point in time, and the capital that we've expended on that so far is $600,000. We believe very strongly that this will be successful and be very much an addition to the tourism product of Dawson City. It has got good community support and good community background, and we're going to go a little bit further. We're providing $50,000 to them in this supplementary budget for O&M funding so that they might be able to get it working and to get some continuity. Those factors will be included within their business plan.
Ms. Duncan: Does the minister have any specific information as to how that $50,000 in O&M will be expended? Is it for an ongoing staff person?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: That $50,000 is just a portion of their O&M costs. It's to help offset, of course, their O&M costs. They will be working toward the programming and production of different initiatives within the context of the Dawson City Arts Society. They will be continuing to do that type of work.
Is it specifically for a staff person? Again, that is up to the society to work through, and they're working that through in their business plan.
Ms. Duncan: So there's $50,000 in the supplementary budget, and the minister's asking for the House approval on that, and we're in general debate on this specific line item, and the minister can't tell me precisely how it's going to be spent?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: The mighty micromanagers across the floor - it's O&M funding, operational and maintenance funding, which of course includes staffing, electrical costs, all of those types of costs that are associated with the operation and maintenance of this fund. They are all included.
When you stand and you try an insulting line on me - that I do not know - I am not required to know. What I do know is a good idea when I see one - a heck of a good idea when I see one. And for them to get up and - volunteerism. Well, you're speaking all the time about volunteerism. Well, I recognize volunteerism when I see it.
I think that there's a very dedicated group there in Dawson City that is working toward the development of this plan. They need help. They came to government. Government looked them in the eye and said, "There's a heck of a good idea, and we're going to help you with this type of initiative."
We're not going to tell you what to do, but what we need has definitely got to be contained within the confines of a business plan. So, they've been working toward this issue over the course of the last eight months or so. Within the last year they've been doing that. We've been working with them on it, and we funded them in capital programs between Economic Development and Tourism - $600,000, if I could.
We've sat and chatted with them about what it would take to get it up and running consistently. Do not forget - this is ambitious, cutting-edge programming. What they're attempting to do - they're going to be reflecting it into an agreement. Is it going to be spent specifically - $39,000 on a staff person to do this? I don't know. What I've done is brought forth dollars to them to help flourish the seed for the betterment of the Yukon Territory and, in this particular case, Dawson City. Dawson City seems to shut its doors down early in the shoulder season. When we have these types of initiatives, and when these types of people come forward, I think it's incumbent upon government to help them and find ways to help them. So, that is exactly what this government is doing. We're finding ways to help them. I've instructed my staff to work with them and to find ways to share our expertise with them, so that it will enable them to make this seed work. I put forth $50,000 in this supplementary budget. I'm hoping that that side of the House - the official opposition - is going to stand on its feet and support it. They're going to say that we support that because of the good, nifty things that it does.
They're also going to stand on their feet and they're going to vote for it because it's such a good, nifty thing. I mean, organizations dream of operation and maintenance money; they just dream of it. Well, we know and we've solidified NGOs. We've taken them to a three-year commitment. Did we stop there? Doggone it, no, we didn't stop there.
Again, as I said, we see a good idea; we're going to continue to work with that good idea; we're going to put money toward that. Are we going to fund it all? No, no. I've asked, through the department, that the society develop a business plan, which would reflect YTG's contribution, and all those dollars that they garnered in this manner and that manner, would be focused into a business plan.
Mr. Chair, I move that you report progress.
Motion agreed to
Mr. Fentie: Mr. Chair, 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 the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. McRobb: Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 19, Third Appropriation Act, 1999-2000, and has 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.
Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, 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 now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:29 p.m.