Wednesday, March 7, 2001 - 1:00 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
We will proceed at this time with prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
Are there any tributes?
In recognition of Daniel Hall
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I rise today on behalf of the Yukon Legislature to pay tribute to Daniel Hall, the Yukon cross-country skier who is part of the Canadian team competing in the 2001 World Special Olympic Winter Games in Anchorage this week. This is Daniel's second time representing Canada at a World Special Olympic winter games.
He has also represented the Yukon at the 1996 and 2000 Canadian Special Olympic Winter Games. In 2000, he made the Yukon proud when he brought home two gold medals. An avid skier from the age of eight, Daniel is well known throughout the Yukon ski community as a frequent competitor in local races.
Daniel is an excellent ambassador for the sport of cross-country skiing, the Special Olympic movement and the Yukon. His personal goal is to attend five World Special Olympic Games. Daniel is truly an exemplary role model for Yukon youth and for us all. We wish him all the best in his events this week.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Are there any further tributes?
Introduction of visitors.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I would like to introduce Serge Michaud, in the gallery, the executive director of Yukon Special Olympics. Please make him welcome. He has brought lapel pins, which I will have the page distribute to the members.
Speaker: Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Speaker, I have for tabling the government contracting summary report by department, April 1, 2000 to January 31, 2001.
Speaker: Are there any further 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?
Electronic commerce development in the Yukon
Hon. Ms. Duncan: I rise today to inform the House of the government's policy initiatives in the development of electronic commerce in the territory.
Hon. members will recall that the Electronic Commerce Act and the Electronic Evidence Act were passed unanimously in November of 2000. The Electronic Evidence Act was proclaimed upon passage, but the Electronic Commerce Act could not be proclaimed until we had assessed the need for regulations.
We are now in the process of proclaiming the Electronic Commerce Act.
Legislation is only one step in the government's efforts to ensure that the Yukon is well positioned to take advantage of the new economy. It provides certainty and security for consumers, the business community and the information technology sector in the Yukon.
In other words, e-commerce is effective in the Yukon, because this government has passed laws that allow Yukoners to adapt to an electronic business world.
E-commerce is essential for business. No longer are Yukon businesses just competing with stores down the street. They now compete with other sellers around the world. Yukon businesses can sell products with e-commerce from Teslin to Tokyo. E-commerce is efficient for consumers. It is easier for those in remote parts of the Yukon to get customer service, compare prices, and shop on-line.
Electronic commerce is revolutionizing the way that we do business. More businesses in the Yukon are using some form of e-commerce. They operate Web sites to market their products and services and sell their goods on-line. They communicate with clients via e-mail. Conducting business on-line provides an advantage in the north. We no longer have to worry about the Yukon's physical distance to larger markets or our small population.
It's now possible for someone living in Old Crow to market and sell beadwork to someone in New York. Wilderness tour operators in Whitehorse can confirm reservations from clients in Germany.
E-commerce means that Yukon entrepreneurs can compete globally, and they will be facing more pressure to do so.
The number of self-employed people in the Yukon has increased by more than 12 percent over the past five years, giving us one of the highest rates of self-employment in Canada. This is the workforce that will make considerable use of electronic commerce.
Canadian e-business is expected to climb to $233 billion in 2004, and the Yukon wants to be part of that boom. It is also this government's policy that it is education that will ensure Yukoners are well positioned to take advantage of the new economy. We have initiated a public education program on e-commerce to let Yukoners know what it is and how it can be used.
In cooperation with other governments and non-governmental organizations, we are supporting "E-Biz for Small Biz", a conference to teach the practicalities of electronic business to entrepreneurs.
We are also packaging this hands-on information in e-commerce modules that Yukoners can use at home. Soon there will be posters and pamphlets on electronic commerce in libraries, schools and businesses to increase public awareness of this initiative.
I want to assure the hon. members that my department also operates in a digital world with e-commerce information on-line. You can read and download the electronic commerce legislation on our Web site. You can even read the explanation of that legislation in non-legalese on this Web site, which is www.economicdevelopment.yk.ca.
As another policy initiative, we are developing a strategic electronic commerce plan with other departments, governments and stakeholders. As part of this planning, the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce, with support from the Yukon government, led an e-commerce visioning session in early March. Stakeholders shared their e-commerce plans to guarantee we are working as partners on a common e-commerce road map. An essential underpinning for this new world of electronic commerce is the information technology industry.
We heard the message when the Yukon information technology industry asked us to recognize their sector and to work with them to develop an economic sector plan. As a dynamic factor in the Yukon's e-commerce development strategy, the government recognizes information technology as a sector of the Yukon economy. We are taking steps to produce an IT sector economic development plan, which will help the sector to build and grow.
As we've seen elsewhere in Canada, a strong information technology sector attracts other businesses and facilitates the growth of other segments of the economy. The Yukon government and the information technology sector, in partnership with an innovative business community and Yukon citizens, will bring the Yukon into the mainstream of global electronic commerce.
Mr. Fentie: I rise today to respond to the ministerial statement on e-commerce for the Yukon.
We, in the official opposition, are already on record stating clearly, as recently as this past fall sitting, our support for this initiative. In fact, we support such things as the minister just laid out before us - the need to raise awareness and educate the Yukon public about this very important component of the "new economy", as it's labelled.
However, this statement brings to mind a question about how this can be new government policy. Mr. Speaker, the facts are this: the former government, the NDP government, recognized immediately that this area of the new economy is something that the Yukon must immediately move toward. That is why, under the former government's watch, such initiatives as the technology information centre, the technology information fund, and, of course, the Connect Yukon project were established. In short, the NDP government, the former government, took concrete action toward this component of our new economy to bring the Yukon in line with other jurisdictions in this country.
It is unfortunate, from the ministerial statement, that we do not see that same concrete action from this Liberal government.
There are questions around what has happened to the Connect Yukon project. And if we are to be successful in implementing e-commerce and this technology in the territory, it only stands to reason that we must wire the territory. That is what the Connect Yukon project was all about.
Also, Mr. Speaker, we see in our critique of the budget some examples of the need for the Liberal government to be clear on what it is that they are doing in terms of action toward this initiative. It is one thing to talk about it; it's another thing to act and implement those actions to move this initiative ahead. Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, though we support the very concept, we must urge the government to stop talking about things like e-commerce and to put concrete actions to work.
Where, in this ministerial statement, is the meat? Where are the nuts and bolts of what the Liberal government really intends to do in moving this initiative ahead that was started under the former NDP government?
Mr. Jenkins: This act, Mr. Speaker, was supported by the Yukon Party. We believe in it also, and I rise to wish the Premier well in promoting the new economy for e-commerce. However, I would remind her that most Yukoners today are still dependent upon the old economy, which this Liberal government, through its budgets and policies, is in the process of destroying.
I'd ask the Premier and her colleagues, in their enthusiasm for e-commerce, to not shut down our traditional economy, which is based on the development of our natural resources, on our timber, and on our base and precious metals.
I'm pleased to see a Web site developed on this new initiative, but contrast that to this government's inability to even maintain existing Web sites. We're going backwards, Mr. Speaker.
The Yukon Party does not draw a sharp distinction between the so-called new economy and the old economy, as the Liberal government is doing, Mr. Speaker. We see that e-commerce can, in fact, assist in the development of our traditional economy. People are still going to need our resources. They're still going to live in houses that require timber. They are going to continue to drive vehicles and fly in aircraft, all of which require base and precious metals. They are still going to require oil, gas and electricity. While e-commerce can accomplish many things, it cannot accomplish everything in our new electronic world.
The Premier goes so far in her exuberance for e-commerce as to say, "We no longer have to worry about the Yukon's physical distance to larger markets for our small population." Well, Mr. Speaker, we do have to worry about these things - about the transportation of our natural resources to markets and especially about our small population, which is growing smaller every day as Yukon's young workforce, our skilled professional and trades people and our children, head elsewhere to find work.
If we continue on the path that this government has set out for us, the Yukon will be nothing more than a series of parks and a travel destination for the elite, where there will be room only for the vacation homes of a chosen few, but no room for the working miner, logger, prospector or trapper.
My message to the Premier is clear: use e-commerce in the best way possible to promote the Yukon's economy, but do not lose sight of our traditional economy. This is not an either/or situation. Yukoners should maximize both to their full potential.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: First of all, I would like to again express my thanks to both opposition parties. When we introduced the Electronic Commerce Act and the Electronic Evidence Act in the fall sitting and had those pieces of legislation passed unanimously through the House - and, again, I thank both opposition parties for their support.
E-commerce is but one part of an overall view of the Yukon's economy and the Yukon's economic future, Mr. Speaker. We have not forgotten that Yukon also has tremendous resources and that we are, yes, a territory of miners, loggers, those interested in our oil and gas industry. We are also a territory with incredibly capable individuals in the information technology sector. As the members opposite heard last night at dinner, we have individuals who have moved to the Yukon who do business on the computer on-line in Washington. Those are people moving to the Yukon. Those are people here because of what the Yukon is, because the Yukon is a place with industry, a place with natural resource development, and a place where we have protected our special places.
Mr. Speaker, this statement is not about Connect Yukon or the slashing of the IT budget under the previous government. It's about how this government intends to deal with the e-commerce legislation and how we took that piece of legislation and what progress we have made on it. It's an open and accountable reporting to the House about what this government has been doing with the work that we as legislators have done.
The members opposite, particularly from the New Democratic Party, say we're just following the previous government's plan to rebuild the economy, and then the members opposite say that what we're doing is not helping to rebuild the economy. They can't have it both ways, Mr. Speaker. What we're doing, what we're doing in this statement and what we're doing with this information is providing the public with an update on what we have done with the very good legislation that this House passed, and how it is helping this government rebuild the Yukon economy.
Speaker: If there are no further statements by ministers, we will proceed to Question Period.
Question re: Economic development agreement
Mr. Fairclough: I have a question for the Premier in her role as Minister of Finance. As the minister knows, Canada's northern jurisdictions have been lobbying for federal support for infrastructure for several years. This was on the western premiers' agenda for at least two years before this government was elected.
The federal government promised a northern economic strategy in their 1999 budget. After listening to the federal Finance minister at dinner last night, can the Premier tell us when she expects a new economic development agreement to be in place?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: First of all, Mr. Speaker, I must express my thanks to the Member for Watson Lake and the Member for Klondike, who attended our fundraising dinner, had an opportunity to hear one of Canada's statesmen and also helped retire the election debt. So, thank you very much for their attendance. We do appreciate their attendance.
The member opposite has asked about two separate programs. First of all, if I might respond to the infrastructure program question. Yes, this has been discussed at not only western premiers and first ministers conferences, it has also been discussed at the annual premiers conference.
The problem with the infrastructure program that the federal government has is that it is allocated on a per capita basis. So, while we have four percent of the highways in the territory, we have .01 percent of the nation's population. So we aren't getting enough money to deal with the infrastructure. The member opposite is quite right; that was a point that I restated with the Finance minister in our meeting yesterday.
With regard to the northern economic development program, I did not receive a commitment from the Finance minister for a date as to when that might begin, because this is not the Finance minister's file. It belongs to Minister Nault. I am anticipating receiving a date from Minister Nault in the very near future. However, I would add that it is my understanding that it is not focusing on infrastructure. I am waiting for more information on that.
Mr. Fairclough: We certainly wouldn't want the minister to scoop her friend from Ottawa by announcing an agreement before he does, Mr. Speaker.
Still, Yukon people have legitimate questions about how any new federal money or capital projects would work. Has this minister given the federal government a specific shopping list of infrastructure projects that the Yukon government wants to see funded?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: We have given them lists and lists and lists. And we have given the parameters. We did not, like our neighbours in the Northwest Territories, spend half a million dollars on developing those lists. We took information that was already readily available from our time in opposition, from debates in this House and from looking at the territory's finances, and we have submitted suggestions.
However, again I would say to the member opposite that I have not, as yet, been advised of the criteria as to what this program might look like, and I am also aware that there is some suggestion that it is more nationally based.
So, I have asked the very same questions that the member opposite - like every Yukoner, I want to know what the program looks like and when it is going to be delivered. The member is asking how our government will participate. When I have those details, I will be happy to provide them to the member opposite. I don't have them.
Mr. Fairclough: We seem to be in the very early stages on this. I would have thought that a lot more work would have gone into this. The member has presented several lists of priorities to the federal government. We would appreciate her tabling those, so we can have a look at them.
But the priorities of Yukon people and communities are not necessarily the same as the government's priorities or the departmental priorities. I want to ask the Premier: once we have an agreement in place, what kind of consultation does this government plan to do with communities, senior governments, First Nations, the private sector and other stakeholders before the key decisions are made about where federal capital dollars should be spent? What kind of consultation?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is putting the cart before the horse. First of all, we have made suggestions to the federal government about what an economic development agreement - what an economic partnership would look like. We have made suggestions in that regard. Whether the federal government has seen fit to include those suggestions - and ours were related to infrastructure.
As I said, the Northwest Territories spent half a million dollars developing its shopping list. What the federal program might look like, we don't know yet. I don't have those details. So, if the federal government program says that this money is available for infrastructure, then that is where we'll certainly focus. We already have all kinds of ideas from Yukoners in that regard.
If the northern economic strategy is some other focus, then we will certainly - if we have not already heard from Yukoners - follow up on that. We listen and work with Yukoners every single day.
Question re: Unemployment rate in Yukon
Mr. Fentie: My question today is for the Minister of Economic Development.
Yesterday in this House, the minister, with great fanfare, proclaimed to Yukon that, under her government's regime, the unemployment rate has declined to 10.5 percent, and that that's still too high. What she failed to pass on to Yukoners, here in this House, was that how the Liberals - this government - was achieving this unemployment rate was by chasing and forcing Yukoners - our workforce - to leave this territory to go elsewhere to work.
This Premier, I believe, has to clear the record on this matter. Will she now get on her feet and acknowledge that the facts are that the 10.5 percent unemployment rate is based on the fact that there are 500 fewer people in our workforce today, thanks to this Liberal government's inaction in our economy?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, first of all, the member opposite was discussing with me the information contained in the economic outlook. That was where my response came from. The fact that I think the 10.5 percent unemployment rate is unfortunately still too high is my own view and the view of our government. It is high, and we are working to reduce that figure.
The member opposite is suggesting that somehow we are forcing people to leave because of our work in the economy. Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, I beg to differ with my hon. colleague, my dinner companion of last evening. The thousands of people who left the territory were under the previous regime. We are doing our level best to stem that tide by having more jobs in the economy through oil and gas work, through e-commerce work, through providing a kind of environment where businesses can thrive and prosper. Even the economic outlook still anticipates modest growth in our tourism sector, which we, on this side, support.
Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, the minister doesn't even understand her own outlook. It is her outlook - the economic outlook - that is showing that the unemployment rate is, in fact, based on the out-migration of our workforce. That is why the unemployment rate is stated as it is. So the minister may not have even had time to critique this outlook in a manner where she could relay the facts to this House.
Furthermore, this is not my opinion; this is not the opinion of the official opposition. But a recent poll has just produced some results here that lend testimony to what we, in the official opposition, are saying. The people in this territory who are now dissatisfied with this Liberal government's actions have increased dramatically.
Speaker: Order please. Would the member please get to the question?
Mr. Fentie: Will this minister now come to the realization that she is simply overworked, has too many portfolios, and will she give serious consideration to appointing one of her backbenchers to the portfolio of Economic Development so that it can receive the focus required?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: I thank the member for his kind and well-meaning, I'm sure, advice. First of all, much as he tries to bootleg it into the question, I'm not going to comment on the poll released today.
Secondly, I am also going to advise the member opposite that I am fully conversant with the economic outlook, and I have never suggested that there would be no out-migration, or that there might not be a population drop. What I have said is a comment on the unemployment rate.
Now, with regard to a Cabinet shuffle or to my own responsibilities, I do thank the member for his concern for my welfare.
Mr. Fentie: Well, the minister has either conveniently failed to relay the information in her own economic outlook for the Yukon public to make an informed decision, or is simply overworked and cannot provide the needed attention to the Department of Economic Development that is required.
I will give the minister the benefit of the doubt. She is overworked. She has much too much on her plate. We are in a desperate economic situation. The Department of Economic Development needs a minister that can provide it the undivided attention required, so that we can address the difficult situation we're in.
Will this Premier come to that realization and set aside her ego? The Member for Faro is sitting and waiting to take on this portfolio of Economic Development, and may well do a good job. Will she now hand this portfolio of Economic Development to the Member for Faro?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: I suggest that the real motivation, perhaps, from the member opposite, is an attempt to come over and share a seat on this side of the House. He seems to want to move one of those from there, down here. So perhaps that is his real motivation.
The member opposite says that I have not provided Yukoners with all the information in the economic outlook. Well, the member opposite has conveniently not mentioned that the economic outlook also talks about some of the, albeit, modest gains of this government outlined in the economic outlook - modest gains like stemming any further decrease in mineral exploration, like actually moving forward on tax cuts, like the modest growth anticipated for the tourism industry. The member opposite also does not comment on the fact that the economic outlook paints the oil and gas industry outlook as particularly bright. The member opposite does not point out those facts in discussing the economic outlook either, Mr. Speaker.
And again, I thank the member opposite for his - I'm sure - concern over my health. However, the assignment of Cabinet responsibilities does rest with the government side of the House. Thanks for the advice.
Question re: Alaska natural gas feasibility study
Mr. Jenkins: Now, the Premier is off today to yet another oil and gas symposium in Calgary. So I would like to thank her for remaining here in Yukon long enough to hopefully answer a few questions. Recently tendered proposals for the $75-million U.S. feasibility study by the major oil companies on routes to transport Alaska natural gas to the southern 48 have been let. Can the Premier advise the House if the Yukon government was aware of these proposals being let and encouraged Yukon companies to submit bids on them? And how many Yukon companies did, in fact, bid on these proposals?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, what I will do for the member opposite is outline precisely our relationship with the North Slope producers and the consortium that is dealing with this examination of the roots. First of all, upon the announcement of the consortium of North Slope producers, I was in contact with them as Minister of Economic Development, in writing. And I also followed up by providing all the interested members of the Yukon business community with copies of that letter and names and addresses and so on so that they could be in direct contact with the consortium. In addition to that, my staff and the Member for Riverside have also met with this group of individuals on several occasions. We have issued an invitation to them. They will be in Whitehorse next month to meet with the business community - that's working with the North Slope producers as well as our own business community - to further explain the format of their program, and I will also be meeting with them while I'm in Calgary tomorrow morning.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, that's exactly where I'm heading - all these benefits that are supposed to accrue to Yukon businesses. I've heard reports that the work that is going to take place here in the Yukon could be worth as much as $20 million U.S., and I am not aware of any Yukon company that has submitted a bid on this initiative, because they weren't aware of it. They weren't made aware of it by this government, Mr. Speaker. It is my understanding that only U.S. companies and some Alberta-based companies were submitting bids and have been successful.
In view of the amount of time the Premier is spending promoting the pipeline, can she explain why she wasn't aware of these important contracts being let? Why did she miss the boat and not make sure that Yukon companies were made aware of these contracts, that they were out there, and that they could bid on them? Why didn't she undertake that initiative?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, I have undertaken that initiative, and I'd like to remind the member opposite that, if he had listened to my answer in the first place, we have been in constant touch with that group and we have worked with the Yukon business community. This is also business doing business. This Yukon government is doing everything we can to work with our Yukon business community and with the North Slope producers to ensure that some of that work comes to Yukon. And we have not been rebuffed, and neither have Yukon companies, and neither are Yukon companies unaware. They are very aware, and I have met with many of them who are now seeking other partners, who are working with other companies to ensure that Yukoners get this work.
We are also letting the private sector be the private sector. There is a point where this government does not politically interfere with business, as the member, who is a former business person, should recognize, as well.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Speaker, so much for jobs for Yukoners in rebuilding the Yukon economy. The Premier's too busy wining and dining prominent Liberals to know what's going on and to get the message into the business community.
Mr. Speaker, the issue is that there is a window of opportunity now for some of these Yukon companies to sub off the generals. Will any of these Yukon companies be accompanying the Premier to Calgary to see if they can acquire any of this pipeline route study funding and if they can sub from the generals that have been awarded the contracts? Will the Premier be taking any of these Yukon company officials with her to Calgary, or is she just going down there to act on behalf of Foothills once again, tout the Yukon and not accomplish anything once again for Yukon companies and the Yukon workforce?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, it's really, really unfortunate that last night at dinner the member opposite didn't take a chance to ask any of the 259 people there, many of whom were Yukon business people, what this government and this Premier had been doing to help them gain work on this project. It's really, really unfortunate.
It's really, really unfortunate because, had the member opposite taken the time to (a) research a good question for the federal Minister of Finance, which he was invited to ask, or (b) taken the time to speak with any of the business community there, he would have known that several of them, including the Grand Chief of the Council of Yukon First Nations, will also be at the Arctic Gas Symposium in Calgary and are also working with me in meeting with the Alaskan producers, ensuring Yukoners gain work from this project, which has only just begun.
Question re: Devolution
Mr. Fairclough: I'd like to ask the Premier about another topic that came up during the federal Finance minister's fundraising speech last night.
Mr. Martin spoke positively about the need for devolution, but we didn't hear any firm commitments on when this will happen. In her private discussion with the Finance minister, did the Premier get any reassurance that devolution will be in place by April 1, 2002?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: The Finance minister, in my meeting with him yesterday, reaffirmed his support for devolution. He also very clearly asked me what some of the issues were at the devolution table and understood clearly that there is some tough negotiating to be done. However, he reaffirmed his support for it, and it's fortunate that the member chose this environment to ask the question, and unfortunate that his colleague, the Member for Watson Lake, rather than asking the question last night when he was given the opportunity to, called it out quite rudely.
Mr. Fairclough: Maybe the Premier forgot that this is the environment to ask the questions. This is what Yukoners are asking us to ask in this House.
There's another area of confusion regarding the positions of Yukon First Nations. This morning, the Grand Chief of the Council of Yukon First Nations was saying that devolution could proceed at the same time as land claims negotiations. On the noon news, his position had changed. Can the Premier tell us what her understanding is? Do all First Nations now agree that devolution and land claims can proceed at the same time?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: The member opposite is asking me to respond to comments made by the Grand Chief. I would invite the member opposite to ask for clarification from others. They weren't my remarks. I'm not going to respond either way on them.
With regard to devolution, I have told the member opposite - and I have invited both leaders of the parties opposite to attend briefings on this subject, many times, in writing and on the floor of this House - that the devolution transfer agreement discussions are proceeding. They are proceeding well. We are still working toward reaching a devolution transfer agreement by, I believe it's the end of March - the end of this month.
With respect to the land claims negotiations, the Grand Chief has also stated, as I have stated, that we believe there is some progress being achieved. Beyond that, there is nothing more I can advise the member of.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, Mr. Speaker, we all heard the news. I'm sure the Premier heard the news and what the Grand Chief had to say. Obviously, this is the direction that is coming down. I hope that the Premier can concentrate on what has been said.
I asked her what her understanding of this is, and whether or not it can proceed at the same time. She did not clearly answer the question.
Now, one difficulty we have is that the accord the Premier recently signed with First Nations didn't address this matter. What is the Premier's game plan for devolution, if some First Nations without final agreements still insist that land claims must come first and devolution later? What is the Premier's game plan?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, I must challenge the member opposite for his statement, "We want to know what direction has come down." Direction does not "come down" from this government to the Grand Chief. That is not correct, and I really do not appreciate the member characterizing it that way.
With respect to devolution, I have previously advised the member many times on the floor of this House that devolution discussions are proceeding, and we are continuing our efforts toward reaching a devolution transfer agreement. I have advised the member of that.
Question re: Budget surpluses
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, that's quite an amazing answer we heard to those questions. I'd like to ask the Minister of Finance to help us get to the bottom line of her budget, so that everyone has a clear picture of where government finances stand. Let's back up a step first. Does the minister agree that the accumulated surplus - the savings account - was $64 million as of March 31, 2000, as the Auditor General of Canada confirmed?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is asking what the accumulated surplus was as of March 31, 2000, when the member opposite was still in office. The accumulated surplus at that time was $63,926,000, and that was when that government was in office.
Mr. Fairclough: At least we are getting some clear answers from the members opposite. I know that the minister is now starting to understand how budgets work. That isn't necessarily true for the rest of the ministers, Mr. Speaker.
The $64-million surplus included money voted in 1999-2000, but not spent in that fiscal year. We agree on that. Now, let's look at the page entitled, "Long Term Plans" in the minister's budget. This page predicts the accumulated surplus at the end of the this fiscal year - three weeks from now - to be $45 million -
Speaker: Order please. Question please.
Mr. Fairclough: - including the expected lapses. Does the minister agree with that figure?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: What I also agree with is that, prior to that government leaving office, they had presented to the floor of this Legislature, and all Yukoners, a deficit budget, which spent that surplus that they are so inordinately proud of, down by almost half. A $33-million spending spree prior to leaving office.
We were put in a position of having to pass that budget, and not disappoint Yukoners, and we lived up to it. We made that commitment during the campaign and we lived up to it. That is a $33-million expenditure that drew down that surplus. I am sure the member opposite will agree that the budget surplus contained in that document left us with a surplus of $30 million.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Speaker: Leader of the third party, on a point of order.
Mr. Jenkins: Point of order. The Premier misspoke herself. There was no requirement that the Liberal government table and pass the NDP budget. That was not a requirement, Mr. Speaker. Could the Premier, as Minister of Finance, please correct the record?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: On the point of order, there is certainly a requirement when a political party makes a commitment to Yukoners and must live up to it. This is a dispute between members. There is no point of order.
Speaker: Order please. I find that there is no point of order. It is merely a dispute between members and I ask the leader of the official opposition to continue.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, she says $30 million. The Premier said that. That's different from what has been written in the books. So, are you going to change the numbers in what has been presented to Yukoners? No, I don't believe that the Premier understands fully the finances of government.
Mr. Speaker, there is at least $45 million after lapses. We know that. Now, again using the long-term plans, the savings account a year from now, after lapses, will be $23 million. Now that the teacher situation seems to have been resolved, it's time for the minister and her colleagues to stop using one set of numbers to show how great a job they are doing and another to show how tight things are.
For the sake of clarity, will the minister now agree to stop using the artificial figure of $6 million to describe the expected surplus a year from now, which her own figures show will be at least $23 million right here in the long-term plan? Will she stop using the artificial figure of $6 million?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, let me walk the member opposite through the math again. Let me explain the financing to the member opposite.
When that government was in office, there was an accumulated surplus, March 31, 2000, of almost $64 million. I did not disagree with that point.
When the previous Finance minister tabled the budget then, that surplus was estimated to be $13 million. Maybe the member should go back and consult Hansard, or better yet, go back and consult with some math.
To continue with the math, Mr. Speaker, the deficit budget tabled by the previous government spent that surplus or that bank account by almost $34 million. We passed that budget, leaving us with a surplus, March 31, 2001, of $30 million. The budget before the members opposite has a deficit of $24 million. The difference between 30 and 24 is a $6-million surplus. There is nothing artificial about this, and I deeply resent the member opposite suggesting that this government is not presenting the full facts to this House, because we have.
Mr. Speaker, I would ask what they have to say about the previous Minister of Finance, who said that the surplus was $13 million when it was $64 million?
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
OPPOSITION PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS
Clerk: Motion No 63, standing in the name of Mr. Fentie.
Motion No. 63
Speaker: It is moved by the Member for Watson Lake
THAT it is the opinion of the House that:
(1) throughout the first seven months of this Liberal Government's term of office, the Premier and Minister of Economic Development has failed to create a positive climate for economic growth in the territory, as promised, and
(2) as Minister of Economic Development, she has abandoned programs that created badly needed jobs for Yukon people, she has dropped the options on waterfront land in Haines and Skagway, Alaska, that would have guaranteed Yukon businesses ongoing access to tidewater, and she has neglected the aggressive Trade and Investment Strategy initiated by the previous NDP Government, and
(3) in spite of inheriting a huge accumulated surplus of $64 million, as Minister of Finance, she tabled a supplementary budget containing no provisions for winter works this year, and
(4) as Premier and Minister of Economic Development, she has repeatedly given answers in this House with respect to the agreement with the City of Whitehorse and Argus Properties Ltd. that are inconsistent with answers provided outside this House by members of her political staff; and
THAT this House has lost confidence in the Premier's ability to discharge her duties as Minister of Economic Development in a credible and effective manner, and urges her to assign the Economic Development portfolio to another member of her caucus without delay.
Mr. Fentie: Before I begin with the debate of the motion, it's important to note that, three months after this motion was tabled in this Legislature - and the picture that this motion paints has become much worse, dramatically worse, under the leadership of this Minister of Economic Development and, indeed, this Liberal government.
It is a point that must be dealt with first and foremost - that rebuilding the Yukon economy under this Liberal government's regime is a contract with the Yukon people. It's one of their seven commitments to the Yukon public. It is a commitment to the voter of this territory, and it's a commitment that is not being met and, in fact, it's a commitment that is in danger of completely derailing, and something must be done.
We can go on at great length in this Legislature, listing the long litany of facts that show, that prove, that bear out the fact that the Minister of Economic Development is simply not capable and not able to manage the economic situation we are in in this territory. The results of that inability, the results of the inaction, the results of the fact that this minister and this smorgasbord of portfolios that she has taken on - she may very well be overworked and overloaded to the point where this portfolio of Economic Development simply does not receive the attention that it requires.
It is a very, very difficult portfolio to manage. It is a portfolio that impacts and affects every Yukoner in this territory.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Speaker: Order please. Member for Whitehorse Centre, on a point of order.
Mr. McLarnon: On private members' day, it would be probably useful if the actual opposition would listen to their own motions. We don't have a quorum in the House. I'm calling quorum.
Speaker: 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: Order please. I will shut the bells off and do a count.
There are 13 members present. A quorum is present, and we will now continue debate.
Mr. Fentie: I would remind the members opposite that this is a non-confidence motion, and it's probably a better idea if they were present and listening in the Legislature. It's about their own Minister of Economic Development.
Furthermore, the reason members from this side of the House are absent is because they are actively pursuing with the Yukon public ways that we can help this economic disaster that this minister and this government have led us into over the last 10 months. If we want to play the silly game of calling quorum in this House during private members' business, it's at the peril of the members opposite.
So, Mr. Speaker, as I was pointing out before being so rudely interrupted by this frivolous point of order -
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Speaker: Order please. The government House leader, on a point of order.
Ms. Tucker: Standing Orders are not frivolous and to invoke a Standing Order is a matter of pride in this House.
Speaker: Member for Kluane, on the point of order.
Mr. McRobb: On the point of order, Mr. Speaker, I would agree that the Standing Orders are not frivolous; however, in the section on Committee of the Whole, it is upon the discretion of the MLAs to determine whether to call quorum. It is very uncommon to call it during motion debate, and the members opposite are acting very frivolously in wasting the Legislature's time in calling quorum on such matters.
Speaker: Order please. I find that there is not a point of order. It is merely a dispute between members. I ask the Member for Watson Lake to please continue.
Mr. Fentie: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
It is obvious by the members' reaction in the first three minutes of my speech on this motion that we have definitely hit a chord. The members are very sensitive about this matter and they should be. They should also be ashamed - ashamed - of what they have done and what they have produced in terms of economic development for this territory in the first 10 months of their mandate.
As the Member for Mayo-Tatchun points out, it's an outrage, what has happened here. Five hundred Yukoners have left this territory and the disturbing fact about that is that the bulk of that out-migration of people from the ages of 25 to 40 years old - that's our workforce. Those are young families. That means that we have fewer people in school. It means our social ills are increasing - all because this government opposite, the Liberal government, simply has no ability to manage the economic situation that we are in.
Mr. Speaker, it's important that we, on this side of the House, briefly point out some of the reasons why it is that we have brought forward a non-confidence motion on the Minister of Economic Development's ability to lead her department and indeed, lead this territory economically.
Upon taking office, back in April or May of 2000, the Liberal government, since that time, has yet to bring forward a clear, concise blueprint of how they intend to honour one point of their seven-point plan and contract with the Yukon public for rebuilding the Yukon economy.
That in itself is reason enough to ask the question: what is this Minister of Economic Development doing? But unfortunately there's much, much more.
Beginning with the fact that there is no blueprint, no plan and no vision for the Yukon economy, we have witnessed something that is simply unacceptable to the Yukon public, and they are showing it. They are showing it daily.
Mr. Speaker, because the Liberal government has lacked leadership and has simply been inactive when it comes to rebuilding the Yukon economy, we have seen a trend that, under the former government, was heading in the right direction. Unemployment was decreasing. Our workforce was much larger in this territory. People, even though some may not have had jobs, were staying here because they had hope and they had a belief that the government knew where it was going. Especially in rural Yukon, that belief not only was strong and evident during the April 2000 election; it's still very much in evidence today.
But through the first 10 months of this Liberal government's mandate, here, in their support base of Whitehorse, we see the dissatisfaction growing, we see that this lack of leadership economically is really starting to undermine what this Liberal government has committed to the Yukon public to do in terms of their contract.
Beyond the fact that the Liberal government had no plan, they then went on to commit to the Yukon public, who, after this government somehow got elected into government, basically demanded that, because of the former government's budget - the NDP budget - being such a balanced, forward-thinking budget - how it addressed so many of the issues, including, in great, great detail, our economic situation, providing hope and providing direction and vision to Yukoners - the Liberal government table that very same budget.
So, the Liberals did table that budget. However, they began by pointing out that it was an NDP budget. But when it became evident to the Liberals that much of what was in that budget, if not all of it, had resounding support from the Yukon public, they became unsure of what to do next. But it was under the Minister of Economic Development's leadership - who also serves as Minister of Finance, who also heads up the land claims secretariat, who also, at that time, was the minister responsible for the Yukon Energy Corporation and the Yukon Development Corporation - that that very budget, which the Yukon public resoundingly supported and wanted tabled by the new government, began to be dismantled. And it was under that leadership and through the dismantling of that budget that we saw the jobless rate in this territory begin to increase and the out-migration of people from this territory begin in earnest.
Examples like the Mayo school are just one clear example of how badly the Liberal government, under the leadership of the Minister of Economic Development and, indeed, the Premier, is taking this territory, how badly they are managing the situation. The Mayo school, for example, would have put many, many Yukoners to work this winter. Instead, the Liberals chose to delay that project. Through feeble excuses that they brought forward, they, in the end analysis, stopped a project and put Yukoners on the unemployment line and, indeed, may very well have made the decision for many Yukoners to leave this territory, especially those in our workforce - our 25-year-olds to 40-year-olds.
Another example that comes to mind beyond the Mayo school, Mr. Speaker, is this fiasco with the ports. The option in Skagway and Haines Junction to ensure that Yukon has tidewater access was very much about diversifying the Yukon economy, broadening our horizons, expanding our borders and guaranteeing that, no matter what happens in the future, manufactured products in this territory had a way to reach the markets beyond Yukon borders.
That was much about what developing and rebuilding an economy was about under the former government. Yet, this Minister of Economic Development failed to recognize that fact, failed to realize that her commitment to mining and to forestry - her commitment, in fact, to any resource-based economic engine in this territory - is dependent upon its ability to get its product, its goods, its concentrates and whatever else to a marketplace in a cost-effective manner. Obviously, the Yukon advantage rests with the fact that we had access to tidewater.
Now, Mr. Speaker, that decision by the Minister of Economic Development again showed that the minister simply was not managing the portfolio.
Mr. Speaker, we go on. Even though the minister has staked all her department's resources and future on oil and gas, we must recognize that that is very futuristic. A Minister of Economic Development in this territory - by keeping an eye on the future, an eye on the horizon, ensuring that our economy is growing and looking toward the future - must take care of the present. And that is again an evident failure by the Minister of Economic Development of this Liberal government and, indeed, the government itself.
By not taking care of the present, the minister has directly contributed to a rising unemployment rate, to an out-migration of our workforce, to a loss of hope in many Yukon communities, to the spirits of Yukoners being depressed, to the social ills of our territory increasing, to the loss of student population in our schools, and the list goes on and on.
Some of the vehicles that addressed the present situation in our economy were the community development fund, the fire smart program, the trade and investment fund, the tourism marketing fund - the list goes on. Yet, this minister, even in the face of overwhelming support from the public for such programs as CDF and fire smart, chose to stop the flow of those funds while they reviewed them. That, in itself, speaks to a lack of economic leadership and a serious lack of recognition of the economic situation that the Yukon Territory is presently in.
It also shows that the minister put political gain ahead of the welfare and well-being of the Yukon public by forcing people to sit on the unemployment line all winter long, while the minister conducted the infamous audit. It is nothing more than an excuse for the mistake they made on our economy and in job creation, and the contradiction to their commitment to the Yukon public to rebuild this economy. It was simply an excuse to hide the fact that they cannot manage this situation. It was an excuse cloaked in the form of an audit.
The minister and the members opposite should be ashamed of themselves for putting Yukoners through that suffering and that situation all winter long for this so-called audit, which was to try and prove that what the minister had made claim to during her reign as leader of the official opposition about a political slush fund was nothing more than bunk. At great cost to Yukoners, this minister went headlong down this road. Again, it's another example of the confidence that has been lost in this minister, and one of the many reasons we have brought forward this motion today.
I want to point out that we, as I stated earlier in Question Period, are giving the minister, the Premier, the benefit of the doubt. We, on this side of the House, recognize the workload involved in first and foremost being the Premier, the Government Leader. That one area in itself is overwhelming in terms of the scope and the workload that one person must take on.
Further to that, the portfolio of Finance is also a tremendous responsibility, comes with a tremendous scope of workload, and requires a great deal of one's attention. To have the land claims secretariat, to try to move devolution along, to deal with the Energy Corporation and with the Yukon Development Corporation, and, at the same time, be the Minister of Economic Development - to have this all folded up in this one package and under this one person's capacity just simply isn't humanly possible. It isn't. Especially when, because of that fact - because the Member for Porter Creek South is simply overwhelmed and overworked and overloaded in all that she has taken on - Yukoners are suffering, our economy is in a tailspin, our future, which was once, 10 short months ago, much brighter than it is today - much brighter than it is today, and that's a fact. The numbers speak for themselves; numbers never lie. Mr. Speaker, this is why we have brought forward this motion.
What we are basically saying here to the Premier, to the Minister of Finance, to the Member for Porter Creek South, is stop for a minute, think about this, think about what these all require in terms of attention and effort and the capacity that must be brought to bear to be able to lead these portfolios and do the sensible thing.
Now, there are a number of members on the back bench. I might add that the Liberals have the luxury of numbers to be able to address this situation and, in all likelihood, make a very constructive move, by taking the Department of Economic Development and passing that portfolio on to another member of caucus, so that this department and this portfolio can receive the attention that it requires. This is a massive workload in itself, this one department, Economic Development. So that this department can receive the attention and the effort that it requires, we are saying to the Premier, "Pass that portfolio on to another member of your caucus." This is not meant to degrade the Member for Porter Creek South in her abilities, this is - no matter what the members opposite may think - a constructive suggestion.
As I pointed out earlier, having been in government over the last term from 1996 to 2000, it was very evident, among this group of people here in the official opposition, the type of workload that is involved here. We see and understand why the former Government Leader did not himself take on the Department of Economic Development. We understand why he passed that on to a member of caucus, so that member of caucus could devote their attention to that department. The results are on pages of many documents, including economic outlooks.
Let's just for a moment consider the facts of the Premier's own economic outlook and do some quick comparisons. The former government was faced with the closure of the biggest contributing factor to the Yukon's GDP: the mine in Faro. Even in the face of that mine shutting down, the former government, through the former Minister of Economic Development and the effort that he put into this one department, managed to do something here toward diversification of the economy to alleviate, even in the short term, the pressures brought on this territory economically because of the closure of the Faro mine. The trends speak for themselves. He created a trend in this territory, through those efforts, that saw not only the unemployment rate decreasing at a steady rate - a trajectory showed the unemployment rate was on its way down, month by month. There were 500 more people in the workforce than there are today.
The Minister of Economic Development mistakenly - and it's our belief that that mistake is being made because the minister simply does not have enough time to go through the portfolio of Economic Development and all that that entails in a thorough enough manner to come to the realization of what these pages are saying and telling the minister.
Another important point to note is that, even though the Premier makes the claim that the unemployment rate, under the NDP, was X, but under them, it's this, there's an important factor behind these numbers. That factor is the workforce and how many people were in that workforce. Even under the former government, faced with the closure of Faro and the economic situation that we were in, people still had hope and they had a belief that we were heading in the right direction, and that is why our workforce was much larger, and that is what contributed to the small difference in the unemployment factor from what we're at today.
The problem here is the fact that our workforce, although our unemployment rate has dropped by a mere 1.5 percentage points, has dropped by 500 people from the last year of the former government's mandate. That is a very disturbing component.
It is disturbing because it shows that the workforce, the people in the workforce, have lost faith, have no belief that the Minister of Economic Development and her government are going to be able to pull us out of this in the short term, are going to be able to help us in the short term, are doing anything in the short term to address our economic situation, and are simply focused on one economic plank - that being the pipeline.
Though they talk about many things in terms of rebuilding the economy, there's a distinct difference between talking about it and taking concrete action and implementing that action on the ground.
Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, in the first seven months of this Liberal government's mandate, we brought forward this motion. Here we are in the eleventh month of this Liberal government's mandate, and the situation has become dramatically worse. And yet we are faced today here in this House with debating a budget - the biggest budget ever tabled in the Yukon Legislative Assembly in its entire history - and it is doing little to address the situation we are in economically.
For vehicles like the community development fund, which I alluded to earlier, after their disguised audit - which this government has now changed to Project Yukon - they have decreased the availability of that funding by 50 percent. One can only conclude that that would decrease job creation and the benefits to Yukoners by that very same amount.
The fire smart program was a program that was implemented by the former government to do two things. One was to lessen the risk of wildfire in Yukon communities, because we all recognize and understand that, living in the boreal forest, we are faced with the risk of wildfire and what can happen should such a fire take place. It was implemented even in the face of the Member for Riverdale South's constant badgering of the former government when it came to fire smart, about it not being enough money. It was not enough money when the former NDP government came out with the fire smart program. But the Liberal government has cut it by $250,000. That also equates into jobs and benefits for Yukon people. But what's worse, through this lack of economic leadership and vision by the minister and her government, we are now putting Yukon communities at a higher risk for wildfires than they would have been.
Now, if the government had been left an empty larder - an empty bank account, with nothing in it - we wouldn't be having this conversation. But the Liberal government took office with - as the Auditor General has pointed out - a $64-million surplus. There was lots of money to continue on with these short-term job creation initiatives that happen through CDF and fire smart, yet the minister, through lack of vision and the inability to manage her portfolio, chose not to do it. Hence, it left more Yukoners out of work and more Yukoners leaving the territory.
Mr. Speaker, it's not just the official opposition that is making claim to these matters. It's starting to resonate throughout the Yukon, in all areas. It is something that the minister simply cannot get a handle on. What we are saying by this motion is that the minister needs to act and needs to act decisively. The minister needs to focus her attention on the other portfolios that she has taken on, such as Finance and the land claims secretariat -
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Speaker: Member for Whitehorse Centre, on a point of order.
Mr. McLarnon: Mr. Speaker, it is opposition private members' day. This side of the House has at least enough members to be able to keep quorum, if the opposition members would actually come in and participate in their own private members' day. I am calling quorum.
Speaker: 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 do a count.
Speaker: Order please. I have shut the bells off and will do a count.
There are 13 members present. A quorum is present.
We will continue. However, before we continue, before I ask the Member for Watson Lake or the official opposition House leader to continue, I must remind members that, if and when members choose to call quorum, a speech is not necessary before calling quorum. I'd ask the members to follow the rules and simply get up and call quorum correctly. All we're doing by continuing down the road we're going is just antagonizing absolutely everybody in the House, and it's not in the best interest of any of us.
With that, the Member for Watson Lake please continue.
Mr. Fentie: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank you for your ruling.
To proceed with the motion, what we in the official opposition are saying is not that the Member for Porter Creek South is, in her own way, negligent. This is not a personal attack on the member. In fact, we are saying, in the official opposition, that we are quite astounded that the member initially took on the workload that she did.
We are simply trying to point out that we have a problem here. It's a major problem. It is a significant problem. It requires a concerted effort by not only the Minister of Economic Development, but also the government from which that minister is from. It also requires a concerted effort from the official opposition and the member of the third party. And it also requires a concerted effort from Yukoners themselves.
It is together that we all must address the economic disaster we are facing, and it is through those efforts that we can begin again, as the former government had already started, to diversify and rebuild this economy.
What we are saying in a very constructive manner of the highest order, with the best possible intentions, is that the minister could help the situation now and, as Premier, could make the decision to do a mini-shuffle and appoint one of the backbenchers as her new Minister of Economic Development. She could clearly charge that minister with a mandate to follow through with what that very department's mandate is all about: to develop our economy in this territory.
Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, if that does not take place, and take place soon, and if that doesn't happen soon, we are only going to slide further down this road of serious trouble in our economy. Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, the examples are too many to stand here and list, one after the other, where this minister has failed in her capacity as Minister of Economic Development.
Some of them I have already touched on. However, it's evident that, still, through the tabling of the Minister of Finance's budget - this Liberal government's budget, fiscal year 2000-01 - there's simply no economic direction to address the short term and the interim, and how to get this territory economically from where it is today to its future, where we may have an oil and gas industry develop.
We may have a forest industry developing. We may have the return of a mining industry. At this time, those things aren't happening, and they are not happening under the watch of this Liberal government. It is important - it is very important - that the members opposite individually lobby their Premier and address this issue at the caucus table, and that all of them, collectively, come to the realization that something has to be done. The trends here speak for themselves. The difficulties that must be met and addressed require an inordinate amount of effort. This may even be beyond what is humanly possible, but best efforts must be made, and these must be concerted, concentrated efforts by a Minister of Economic Development who is not changing hats at any given moment during the day, but can focus on the portfolio of Economic Development and make best efforts to improve the situation that we find ourselves in.
The official opposition does not want to belabour this. We don't want to go on endlessly in discourse of this, that and the other thing. We are urging the Premier and the members opposite to come to the recognition of what we are trying to say, to accept, in the same constructive manner as we have offered the suggestion, and reciprocate in the very same constructive way with regard to making their decision.
We could, here on the floor of this Legislature, if the members so choose, agree unanimously on this particular move, as it was suggested - this mini-Cabinet shuffle, offloading some of this heavy, heavy load that the Premier is packing to another member of her caucus. We could unanimously agree to that and support that.
The members opposite have a duty here to address this situation collectively and individually. If the Premier is stubborn about this and if the Premier is not willing to look at this and at least give it the scrutiny that it deserves, it's up to the members opposite to deal with that matter with their Premier, to try and impress upon her that maybe she is overworked, maybe the load is too heavy, and her members of caucus are there - ready, willing and able to help.
The official opposition is making a constructive suggestion. We offer it, as I said, with the highest, highest level of purpose. We believe strongly on this side of the House, as I have pointed out, that the portfolio of Economic Development does require the full attention of a minister and not the divided attention that the Premier is able to bring to this portfolio. Understandably, with all that she has to do, with all the travelling that she must endure, and with all the different angles that she must deal with because of all those different portfolios, it is virtually impossible for her to address in a real, meaningful way, the economic situation - this economic disaster - that the Yukon Territory is facing and finds itself in.
I urge the members opposite to debate this motion in a constructive manner. We mean nothing harmful. We do not mean to be picky. We do not mean to degrade. We simply are trying to offer here a suggestion, based on our experience and what we see happening.
I ask the members opposite to give this serious consideration. I think that if the move were made and the Premier did pass on her portfolio of Economic Development to a minister-in-waiting like the Member for Faro, we may very well begin to rebuild our economy. There may be in that move a level of credibility re-established with the Yukon public, based on this Liberal government's contract with the Yukon public on rebuilding the economy.
I close, Mr. Speaker, by saying that, if something is not done soon - and something dramatic in terms of our economy - more people, more of our workforce are going to leave, our ability to attract investment is going to lessen, the spirits of the people left here in this territory will be dashed, and there will be no hope. It is not a rosy picture, and the Premier and the Minister of Economic Development's own data points that out.
I urge the members opposite, the Liberals in the opposite benches, to be favourable to this motion, to think in terms of what it was intended to do, and I ask for their support. I outwardly and in all sincerity ask for their support so that we can address this situation.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Speaker, I am touched. I am touched. I do believe that the Member for Watson Lake was sincere in a lot of what he said. I do believe that he was speaking from some part of his heart for some of the time, but quite frankly, we have no doubt, not a shadow of doubt, as to the capabilities of our leader on this side of the House - not a shadow of doubt.
It is very comforting, I guess, in a way that at least one person across the way is understanding the difficulties of government. We don't always feel that members opposite are genuinely concerned with our welfare, but there was a moment or two when the Member for Watson Lake was, I'm sure, speaking from the heart, and that must have been a residue from his attending the banquet last night and listening to the Finance minister and his laudings of our capabilities here in the territory.
The leader of the official opposition said it was nothing. Well, he wasn't there, Mr. Speaker, so he wouldn't know. He often criticizes this government when he speaks.
One of the things that our leader on this side, the Premier, is doing is restoring confidence in government. One thing we are doing to restore confidence in government is conducting ourselves accordingly in this House. I wish that the trend of the House gallery being full, as it was during the recent teachers dispute, could have been maintained, because I think the public should view some of the carryings-on in this House, such as what was just being exhibited by the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes.
We have only been in government for 10 months, Mr. Speaker. One thing we are planning on is to be here for awhile. Under the leadership of the Premier, we are planning such a way. Our concern, of course, is to provide stability, as best we can, with the encumbrances we inherited and are still working on correcting.
The members opposite say they are genuinely concerned with the welfare of our Premier, yet they continually bring up the results of their transgressions. One is the Mayo school. One thing that we told Yukoners during the election is that we would be fiscally responsible, and that means that we can't continually be providing additional expenses. Our work with the community of Mayo, I believe, was the right thing to do, and they do have confidence in this government. They do realize that this government will do what it says it will do, and that we will be building the school in a few short weeks.
The Premier is looking after the present. Her skills and abilities are evident in what she is attempting to do. She has actively pursued, Mr. Speaker, the pipeline from Alaska down the Alaska Highway. She is actively pursuing oil and gas initiatives within the territory, and we're not afraid, on this side of the House, to acknowledge a few of the accomplishments of the previous government. Because, to just shear off everything at election time would be totally irresponsible, so there has to be carry-over.
Yes, we accepted their budget. It would have been totally irresponsible to start from scratch on a budget. We did examine some of their programs, Mr. Speaker, and we do feel that they should continue, because they are looking after the care and welfare of Yukoners. It is unfortunate, though, that there isn't a credit given to us in recognizing the fullness of their programs. No, they continually remind us those were NDP programs and, now that we are starting our new initiatives - initiatives of our own - Mr. Speaker, they can't bring it upon themselves to recognize that they have merit.
Quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, we have taken on the challenge. We are proving every day, more and more, that we do have vision and that we do have strong promise to take the territory into economic prosperity.
Mr. Speaker, the members opposite were apprehensive about taking on long-term challenges, and that has been proven over and over again. As we spend time on this side of the House, going through the books, and really getting to know our departments, we spend time building confidence not only from the outside in, but also from the inside out. We do value our 3,000 civil servants and we do value our teachers.
As Minister of Education, it will be incumbent upon me to build that bridge of support and respect going both ways. I will, Mr. Speaker, because that is the commitment of all members on this side of the House. We do respect the people with whom we work.
The Member for Watson Lake says that the Premier is overloaded with her portfolios. Well, the fact is that we do have skilled and competent staff here to provide support for the visions that we are providing to the departments. They are finding it quite refreshing that we do things from the top down; that we do acknowledge that we have deputy ministers and directors; that it is the DM's job to take our message down, because it is the right way to do things. We are there to help and support our departments when they need it, and they are there to help and support us when we need it.
The Premier does have a heavy load. There is no doubt about that. But she has skilled individuals who recognize her vision, listen to Cabinet and caucus, and implement the direction that we are providing by way of concrete leadership.
I would like to say that, for myself, it is a pleasure and a privilege to work with the Premier - she, as the Minister of Economic Development, and myself, as the Minister of Renewable Resources. I think that in 10 short months, these two departments have been working more compatibly than they ever have. We recognize the skills and abilities of the people within our department, and we encourage these two departments to work cooperatively all the way from the bottom up and the top down.
It's happening. It is happening. We find that we get more productive work done by working this way. The Premier and I are in constant dialogue about how we can encourage and get support back from the departments by listening to the advice that they have, instead of meddling, which seems to have been the constant practice of previous governments.
Again, I do appreciate the constructive comments, the positive comments, that have come across the floor from the Member for Watson Lake, and he does provide constructive comments, unlike other members across the way who find it very, very difficult. They suggest that they are constructive in their comments and criticisms, but it goes beyond that.
The fact is, Mr. Speaker, that the public is listening. They are respecting that we are making every effort to change the conduct in this House, to respectfully listen to members opposite. And it is quite refreshing from time to time when there is a little joviality in the House, because the constant sniping from members opposite does wear you down, does get you down.
But we will keep on track, because we do have vision, we do have goals, and they are becoming clearer and clearer by the day. We are listening to the input not only of our constituents here in Whitehorse - and it must be frightening to the members opposite when we are constantly visiting the communities, to see our faces pop up any time. And we hear that, yes, we are a government that does what it says it does, and that we do get out and we do listen.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: The Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes is threatening me, Mr. Speaker, by warning me that I had better be aware of Question Period tomorrow.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Speaker: Order please. Order please.
I don't know if I am being oversensitive, but are we hearing some threatening remarks from across the floor here?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Speaker: Perhaps it's time that we all just take a minute to regain our composure and be a little more thoughtful in our remarks. I ask the minister to continue.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Speaker, again focusing on the skills and capabilities of our Premier and acknowledging that she does have a heavy workload, I would like to reinforce the skills and capabilities of all members on this side of the House.
It has been brought to our attention by members opposite that we are political neophytes, and that is true in a lot of respects. And this is probably a very good thing, because we are not jaded by what has happened in the past. Another thing that we very much enjoy in caucus and Cabinet is the support of our colleagues. We work as a team over here, and our criticisms are truly constructive. We do get loud and boisterous sometimes in the caucus room, but it always turns out to be positive and reaffirming and challenging. But when we leave the Cabinet and caucus room, we are as one. When we come into the House, we are as one, because we do support each other, and I will reaffirm our support and commitment to the Premier.
Again, Mr. Speaker, I would just like to touch on a couple of issues that we are taking up. Maybe it is because we are a little bit naive on governance, but we are moving forward on things that the NDP was afraid to tackle, such as the Yukon Liquor Act. They knew it would be extremely difficult, and when this side of the House was in opposition, we asked them to do this for years, but they refused. We aren't afraid to take on the tough issues. We are taking action. We are doing what we said we would do.
The NDP and the Yukon Party governments before them were afraid to address addiction issues. They knew it would be difficult. They knew that this would cost money. They even knew alcohol and drug addictions are killing Yukoners and destroying families.
Mr. Speaker, they recognized that, and they recognized how big a task it would be. But, under the leadership of our Premier, we accepted the challenge and we aren't afraid of the tough issues. We are doing what we said we would do.
The NDP knew there were issues around recruitment and retention of medical professionals. They knew this could create hardship for Yukoners, particularly those in the communities. And, as I suggested earlier, Mr. Speaker, we are in the communities. The Minister of Health and Social Services has spent a tremendous amount of time, in the 10 short months that we've been here, at nursing stations and talking to doctors.
Mr. Speaker, the previous government continues as they did when they were government, to bury their heads in the sand. They pretend that nothing is wrong, and that they did nothing wrong. They knew that this would be a tough issue, but we aren't afraid of the tough issues. We are taking action. We are putting together a package to address this issue, and we are doing what is right for Yukoners.
They knew that their funding programs, such as the community development fund and the tourism marketing fund, were not effectively meeting the needs of all groups applying for them. They knew they were handing out money without any assessment of whether it was meeting its true objectives.
They knew this, and they didn't care. They knew this, and they spent it all during their election campaign anyway. They pretended nothing was wrong and that these funds were there, and they were responsible for expending them in a responsible fashion, as their tax dollars.
Mr. Speaker, the Premier was not afraid of the issue, and she conducted an audit of the CDF. We are strengthening the new CDF this week so that political interference cannot occur again.
Mr. Speaker, the NDP knew that an Alaska Highway pipeline would have a major positive impact on the economy of the Yukon. They knew this pipeline would create jobs and access to natural gas. They also knew that there would be fierce and difficult competition from the N.W.T. for another pipeline route. They knew that lobbying for the Yukon route would be difficult, and they were too afraid to do anything about it.
But then, our Minister of Economic Development came along and took up the challenge. And she took up the challenge in an incredibly dynamic way, by recognizing - instead of feuding with our neighbours - that there could be room for two pipelines, but that we felt that the pipeline from Alaska would be more quickly usable to the neighbours to the south of the 49th parallel. So, she did not conflict with a neighbour, but rather espoused that the Alaska Highway pipeline would be the most appropriate and the first to go because there were advantages to going that way. That wasn't an easy choice, Mr. Speaker, but we do take on the difficult challenges.
Not only does that happen with the Premier, but it happens with all the ministers and backbenchers on this side. The Premier is not afraid to recognize the skills and abilities of those individuals and where they can help and assist.
This government is creating confidence with the public. It is slow, because the public and other working groups have been damaged. They've been abused. It takes time to heal wounds and it takes time to build credibility. It isn't something that's hand-delivered. It takes time to build trust, and we are doing that every day through our actions and deeds. That's why the Premier is out and about quite a bit.
She's challenged when she goes; she's challenged when she stays. I don't believe that there is anything that she could do that would in any say satisfy any member across the way. And that is good news for us, because if we weren't constantly criticized, then we would be in sad shape, because there would be recognition that we weren't doing anything. So, it is a welcome challenge to get the criticisms from the members opposite, although it would be nice to get some positive criticism sometimes.
But I have been told that that is not how the government House operates, that it is adversarial. Well, I said early in the very first session in the House that I am willing to work with members opposite. And despite what the Member for Kluane says, we won't be biting off anybody's hand when they extend an offer across the way.
So, we do have confidence in ourselves more and more every day. Yes, the Premier has confidence in her troops, and we have confidence in her. I guess, in a semi-flattering way, it must be frightening to the members opposite to challenge the Premier in her skills and capabilities by asking her to shelve off some of her portfolio. But then again, we do have skilled individuals over here. And it must be frightening to the members opposite that, every day, we learn more and more.
We have competent and capable people within government whom we respect and who help us out more and more every day as well.
So, Mr. Speaker, in closing, I will acknowledge that the Member for Watson Lake did provide some soft tones in his criticism, some constructive criticism, and we will respect and consider the opinions expressed by him.
With that, I will have to indicate that this side of the House, in all probability, will not support this motion.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this motion. I have a number of reasons for doing so, the main reason being that we, as legislators, must do something with the economy of our area. From all reports, from all sectors, especially resource sectors, our economy has never been in worse shape here in the Yukon. Historically, we have gone through trends of highs and lows with respect to our economy, but always, during those up and down periods, there has been hope and optimism. There has been a light at the end of the tunnel. But what we are seeing under this Liberal government guidance is the light flickering and the tunnel becoming longer and longer and longer.
We believe, Mr. Speaker, that there is an opportunity here in the Yukon to enhance the quality of life for all, to provide economic opportunities for all, to provide opportunities for the youth of today who are currently coming through our educational system and who in all probability will have to move elsewhere for employment.
That's a shame, Mr. Speaker. The Premier makes considerable noise about the efforts that she is exercising on behalf of the Yukon with respect to the sole initiative of this government. And it appears that not just the Liberal hat is hanging on an Alaska Highway pipeline, but the entire Liberal wardrobe on the Alaska Highway pipeline. Now, the Premier herself is spread extremely thin with her burden of portfolios that she currently holds power over. It's probably time to encourage this Liberal government to move aside the Minister of Economic Development and put a new fresh face on that horizon, an individual who can spend more time with the industry - with the oil and gas industry, if this is the only area that we are concentrating on - and not have to worry about the balance of the portfolios of running a government, of the leadership required for the government of the day, as well as the burden of the Minister of Finance. In some respects, I must credit the Premier with taking on the burden that she has assumed, but it's obvious from the results being produced that the Premier has spread herself too thin for the tasks at hand, Mr. Speaker.
One can only conduct an analysis of the effect we're having on the oil and gas industry, and listen very, very carefully to what Governor Knowles is saying from the State of Alaska, and his position is quite specific, when you listen to it.
Governor Knowles wants to maximize the benefit for Alaska, and that may or may not include shipping their natural gas out of the state by pipeline. There are other options, and they are currently being explored, Mr. Speaker, and the main option of liquefying the gas will create a tremendous amount of employment right in the State of Alaska. In fact, the numbers that I've been provided with amount to the creation of a petro-chemical industry in Fairbanks, which is where they hope to centre it, with some 500 jobs.
Now, contrast that to the number of jobs that would be created in that state if that gas were just shipped right through. After the construction phase is completed, all we are left with is the related service jobs at the respective pumping stations - nowhere near the number of jobs that would be created by the establishment of a petro-chemical industry.
I think that, on the horizon, we have to recognize that we are just probably a pawn in the whole equation. The Alyeska Pipeline - currently the major shareholder is BP. BP is based in London, England. Their obligation is to their shareholders, who are primarily residents of that country.
And Alyeska Pipeline was acquired by BP after some changes in federal U.S. legislation that allowed for the shipping of oil produced in Alaska to areas of the world other than the U.S., or the Lower 48, as it's referred to. BP has exercised that option. And more and more, today, North Slope oil is being shipped to areas of the world other than the Lower 48.
One has to shake one's head when we look at the United States. The United States imports, in one year, $100 billion worth of energy in all forms - oil, natural gas, and electricity. And the largest supplier of the energy needs in the United States is Canada, at some $30 billion a year of energy going south from Canada into the U.S.
The Yukon is but a bit player in this whole equation, and in order to be successful, we have to put not only our best foot forward but also put forward a very, very concerted effort on the part of the government of the day to ensure that Yukon will realize the benefits that could be accorded it.
Look at our success to date. Exxon, BP, and Phillips put together a consortium. They decided they'd put $75 million in the pot to explore the various ways that they could get gas to market. The project was tendered to the private sector. I am told that, of that $75 million, approximately $20 million of that expenditure is going to be in examining options in the Yukon.
I raised the issue in Question Period today, Mr. Speaker, and the Premier danced all around the issue. But the bottom line is that here was an opportunity for Yukon companies to either bid in conjunction with larger companies or to bid directly. We do have a lot of expertise here in the Yukon, but what took place is that contracts were awarded and they were awarded to Alberta companies. Currently, Yukon companies that want in on this equation are scrambling to act as subs to the principal benefactors of these contracts that have been awarded by Exxon, BP and Phillips. $20 million U.S. - and that's just the beginning.
Now, had the Minister of Economic Development been concentrated on this effort and on this area to the maximum degree possible, Yukon businesses could have gained an edge - an advantage - and could have at least been aware of this initiative and been in there bidding on it. When we empower an individual with the responsibilities of economic development, there is vested in that individual a tremendous amount of responsibility. I would prefer to stand up and congratulate the Premier for bringing home the bacon than to tell the Premier that we have missed the boat once again.
Now, if that is the way it is on a small, small contract just to examine the feasibility - small, given the order of magnitude of the potential construction costs for a pipeline of some $7 billion to $9 billion U.S., then we have to do much better.
We have to do much better as Yukoners, as legislators, and as those charged with the responsibility for economic development.
I know it's a difficult task that the Premier has on her plate. She has a smorgasbord of portfolios, a tremendous amount of responsibility, plus she is a mother and a wife. It's a very difficult balancing act when one has to be off to a series of meetings on a regular basis. I'm aware that, after she returns from this jaunt to Calgary, the Premier's next trip is to Houston, Texas, to speak on behalf of the Government of the Yukon.
I'm sure the Liberal caucus isn't even aware of that, Mr. Speaker. They may or may not be. I won't go there, but that's the next engagement. And there are many, many more in-between - more of these types of conferences that could be attended and where we could enhance the position of the Yukon. But it takes time and effort.
Now, there's another option, Mr. Speaker, in that the minister could divest herself of other portfolios, and the responsibility for the respective portfolios appears to be hers and hers alone. The suggestion of a non-confidence vote, which this motion effectively is, in the Premier as Minister of Economic Development should say something in itself. The results are not being produced like they should be produced.
Now, a recent DataPath Systems' Yukon winter poll comes to the forefront here, and the headline is, "Is the Honeymoon over?" It deals with the level of satisfaction of Yukoners in the current Yukon Liberal government. It goes on to say, in part, that, "Pre-budget satisfaction with the current Yukon Liberal government has dropped significantly over the past 4 months. Based on DataPath Systems Polls done in October 2000 and in February 2001, the results show that more Yukoners are dissatisfied with this government now, than in October. There was a shift from 23% to 39% of Yukoners rating the Liberal Party a 1, 2 or 3 on a 10 point scale."
Now, this should provide a measure of comfort for the Liberal caucus: "Approximately 5% of the population continues to strongly support the Party - which is about the same as seen in October. 'There is a good local core of supporters" - always has been and will continue to be - 'and this hasn't changed over the winter. On the other hand, those people who rated in the moderate range (4-7) have shifted downward to less satisfied levels,' says Donna Larsen, a partner in DataPath Systems. This is based on a question asking 'The Liberal Party has now been leading the Yukon for almost a year. Using a scale from a low of 1 to a high of 10, where 1 means poor and 10 means excellent, how would you rate the Liberal Party overall?'" Now, this is significant: "The drop in satisfaction was seen more among Whitehorse residents and government employees than those in rural areas and in the private sector." I guess those of us in the private sector and rural areas are too busy concentrating on how to make ends meet. We are not focusing on the government of the day and what they should be doing. "However, rural residents continue to be less satisfied than Whitehorse residents. In rural areas, 42% rated the Party a 1, 2 or 3, compared to 37% in Whitehorse. In October, only 20% of Whitehorse residents gave the party a low rating.
It's quite interesting: "Demographic differences show the most satisfied residents are men (44%) and those over 50 years old (40%)." It goes on to say that the longer a person has lived in the Yukon, the less likely they are to be satisfied with the current government. That's very interesting. "Among those living here less than 10 years, 31% were dissatisfied, compared to 43% among Yukoners of 25 or more years."
It goes on to qualify the results: "Percentages are statistically valid to +/- 5.5%, 19 times out of 20..." In other words, they have a 95-percent confidence in this poll, and they go on to say that this was a non-commissioned study. No political party paid for it. This firm is polling Yukoners on their own initiative.
Speaker: Order please. The member has two minutes to conclude.
Mr. Jenkins: The honeymoon is over with the Liberal government. They were elected with a strong majority. They were elected to govern. They had a $60 million-odd surplus coming in to their present position. It is only fair and reasonable for Yukoners to expect to see our standard of living improve, like the rest of Canada. Why that can't be accomplished with a very good majority and a budget surplus of $60 million-odd is a testimony to the immaturity of this Liberal caucus as a government.
It's time for the Minister of Economic Development to move aside and appoint someone who can dedicate the time and effort needed to do that very responsible position of Minister of Economic Development, to get the economy back on track, to lobby the respective industries, and to stay on top of it.
For that reason, Mr. Speaker, and that reason alone - I want to see the quality of life of all Yukoners improve - I rise in support of this motion.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Kent: Unlike the Member for Klondike, I do not support this motion. I believe that the Premier has done a great job as Premier and as minister of her various portfolios, and I know that I am supported by my colleagues. She is also supported by her family and friends outside this Legislature in that.
Mr. Speaker, I'm going to stick to the facts of what has happened with Economic Development in the last 10 months. Since we took office on May 6 of last year, we've seen a seven-percent increase in capital spending in this budget and there have been 700 full-time private sector jobs created. With regard to the mining sector, we have increased the Yukon mining incentives program, based on advice from Yukoners. We've also enhanced geological survey work by $64,000. There is $551,000 in this budget for a new cost-shared regional mineral development program, which is currently under development with Canada. There was also $550,000 spent on mineral resource assessments, bringing the total capital spending on mining to $3.4 million.
There has also been a lot of work done in the oil and gas industry. We have 60 Yukoners working in the Eagle Plains area this winter and a second call for bids will be closing March 14, I believe. It's a very exciting industry, and I know that Yukoners are poised to take advantage of the large economic opportunities that are involved with it.
Mr. Speaker, with respect to the pipeline feasibility study that the Member for Klondike brought up today in Question Period, before I went to Anchorage last month, I spoke with a number of local Yukon business people. They told me that they wanted me to speak to the producers in Anchorage and let them know that there was expertise in the Yukon. They wanted me to let them know that we did have diamond drillers who could do the work, surveyors who could take advantage of the pipeline feasibility study and road builders - that there was a lot of expertise here in the Yukon.
So, I did that. I went to Anchorage and talked to the producers. I told them exactly what I just told you, that the Yukon does have the expertise to take advantage of the feasibility study and the work that will accompany it - the $5 million to $10 million U.S. of work that will take place in the Yukon Territory as a result of this study. And they agreed to do that.
The External Affairs person from the Big Three producers is coming to the Yukon. The vice-president of Phillips Petroleum, responsible for natural gas, is coming to the Yukon. They are going to be coming here within the next month to make presentations to Yukoners, so that they can identify areas where they can take advantage of the feasibility study. I look forward to them coming here. It's going to be a great thing for Yukon and Yukon business people.
As far as the pipeline route selection, we put $750,000 in this budget to aggressively promote the Alaska Highway as the route of choice. We have seen the western governors - the Alaskan governor and all U.S. governors start to support the Alaska Highway route, but the producers are still conducting their study. We know that the work isn't done, so we're not going to sit back and rest on our laurels. We look forward to working hard to ensure that the pipeline route selected is the Alaska Highway pipeline route.
Mr. Speaker, a forestry summit is going to be taking place this spring that shows the initiative of our government in identifying the proper use of this resource, in terms of both the environmental and economic impacts.
We have the stay-another-day program, business incentive rebates have been increased - there are many examples of economic development initiatives by this government that are a direct result of the hard work of the Premier, the Cabinet and the caucus of this government.
Mr. Speaker, Project Yukon, fire smart and the arts fund are in this budget and I'd like to take this time to commend the tremendous efforts of all the volunteers, of whom I was one, who put in all the hard work filling out the applications and doing the work.
Mr. Speaker, there are tax cuts in this budget that will take the territorial rate to 44 percent by 2002. Coupled with federal tax cuts, you're going to see a tremendous amount of spending power in the hands of Yukoners.
Mr. Speaker, the opposition may not have confidence in the Premier, but I can assure you that there are many who do. The Premier is doing a great job, but don't just take my word for it. You can take the words of the Yukoners I speak to in the coffee shops and on the streets, who say Pat Duncan and the Liberal Party are doing a great job.
Mr. Speaker, when I was recently in Alaska, they were still talking there about the speech that Pat Duncan delivered at the RDC conference in November. They still talk about that over there, and how she did such a marvellous job.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, I want to read from a letter here that was dated December 15, three or four days after the Member for Watson Lake brought forward his motion. It says this: "Dear Ms. Duncan: I would like to thank you for your efforts in advocating the federal tax credit for flow-through share investors. At our meeting on August 17, your arguments convinced us of how important this measure will be in restoring confidence in the mining sector in the Yukon and, indeed, all of Canada. I know that your intervention at the mines ministers meeting in Toronto with Minister Goodale on September 12 was very helpful in persuading some of our provincial counterparts as well. You are a very forceful voice for the Yukon and I look forward to continue working with you to address key issues for northerners. Sincerely, the hon. Paul Martin."
I'm going to table this letter right now, just so the opposition can have a look at it, because the Premier is doing a great job. You don't have to just take our word for it. You can take the word of prominent Canadians, Alaskans, and all those throughout North America.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. McRobb: It gives me pleasure to speak to this motion today, and also comment in response to some remarks by members on the government side of this Legislature. But I won't rise to the bait of the personal insults that were cast, but, instead, try to focus on the motion itself, as well as constructive dialogue and holding the government accountable.
Now, in relation to the motion, the issue is that the current Premier/Minister of Economic Development has too much on her plate. I would certainly support that position, based on my experience in government, watching other members and other ministers, both on the government side and opposition side, and how they coped with their workloads. I would also support that position, knowing how critical a time this is for the Yukon economy.
Another supporting aspect, Mr. Speaker, is the test of time - the 10 or 11 months this Minister of Economic Development has been in that position. The test of time has revealed a snapshot on the performance of this government in handling the territory's economy.
Through those means, it is a reasonable conclusion to see that the Yukon is not living up to expectations in performance on the economy. Examples surface, on almost a daily basis, of missed opportunities. The one today identified by the Member for Klondike about no notice given to Yukoners to participate in the $75-million pipeline studies that the Alaskans are conducting is one such example of lost opportunities, Mr. Speaker.
In my previous role on the government side, in the first two years of our three and a half years in government, I was involved quite fully in the Cabinet Commission on Energy, and, combined with that, I had my normal constituency duties, as well as a number of duties related to government, such as participating in the Legislature, caucus meetings, meetings with others, such as First Nations, et cetera. So, basically, my job at the time was split into three areas - each of them demanding, each of them certainly warranting a full-time position. I know that just handling the needs of constituents in the dozen or so communities in the riding could easily be a full-time job. In addition to meeting with three First Nations, a municipal government and a hamlet, there were also several organizations and businesses, all in need of regular communication with their MLA.
So that is one aspect of the job that is very demanding. To me, it's also the most enjoyable part of the job, because it allows me to get away from the atmosphere that's often too negative in this Legislature and go out and enjoy a breath of fresh air, talking to real people about real issues.
The other parts of the job - the government aspect - is quite demanding. The assignments I had in the energy areas were very demanding, as well. Combined, these three areas really drained the time I had available on a day-to-day basis. I can only wonder just how much more draining it must be to have several other portfolios, as well as being Premier of the territory and having to travel to several functions.
This is not a partisan proposition. I am trying to appeal to the reasonableness of all members today. I think it's something we can agree on, that the combination of all these responsibilities and tasks is really something to behold.
I'll be the first to say that the present minister is a very capable person, and she performs most of her tasks reasonably well. I think her intentions are good, but there are some areas that could deserve more attention, such as the economy. The economy, through this government, is mainly dealt with through the Department of Economic Development.
Now, looking back on previous government leaders and premiers, we can see that it was a common practice for this department to be under the responsibility of a Cabinet minister other than the Premier and Government Leader.
There was good reason for that, Mr. Speaker, and that is because it's a very demanding department. To be minister of this department, you have to be very well versed in all aspects of the department. You have to be mindful of and creative in the need to develop programs and initiatives that do not currently exist and, also, to use those talents to shape existing functions and programs to the best of the territory's advantage. This is a very demanding portfolio.
Some of the major initiatives in this department include administration of the community development fund, the fire smart program, the diversification strategy, the trade and investment strategy. There are several other programs. Some of the major initiatives include the Alaska Highway pipeline and the proposed railroad link between Alaska and the south.
Now, that's not a total list of projects and responsibilities in that department. There are many others. One of the Premier's other responsibilities is the department known as the Executive Council Office. There are several major initiatives within that department, such as devolution. Devolution means a transfer of four areas of natural resources from the federal government to the territorial government. Those four areas are forest, land, water and minerals.
Mr. Speaker, this transfer requires negotiations and travel. It's another time-sink for the minister.
There's also land claims. Well, I won't even begin to explain the demands of land claims. I think everybody is quite familiar with how important and demanding that matter is.
Yesterday, I raised the question of the development assessment process, and this House learned that there are no timelines and that the whole initiative has slipped. I believe it was blamed on the federal government, even though the territorial government sits at the table. We learned from the Premier that it wasn't necessary to screen projects, like the proposed pipeline, through the development assessment process.
Mr. Speaker, DAP is ingrained in the umbrella final agreement. It is required. In addition, this government campaigned on implementing the development assessment process. But, when questioned about it, it was clear that this government is not prepared to take the responsibility of implementing the development assessment process, because it's taking a hands-off position.
Mr. Speaker, I think it's becoming apparent that it's not only the Department of Economic Development that is suffering from the lack of resources of the attendant minister. Other departments are suffering as well.
We can only spread one person's time so thin before it runs out.
There are matters of federal relations. Well, this government has been in power now for almost a year and already there are several examples of how federal relations could have been improved, including DIAND Minister Nault's trip here to the territory last spring, when he aggravated the matter of the anticipated buyout of the Canadian United Minerals claims in Tombstone Park. These are major issues for the territory.
It might be reasonable to assign each one of these departments to a separate individual; however, all members of this Legislature understand that there is a limit to the number of ministers who must be appointed. In the past it has been common to name six ministers; however, I believe that there are no fast rules to limit the number of ministers to that number. I think that it is dependent on any government to fulfill other responsibilities.
We all know that the position of Speaker takes one member and the position of Deputy Speaker/Chair of Committee of the Whole takes another member. So, there are two members right off the bat that are required for other assignments. Now, this Liberal government has a total of 11 MLAs, which leaves the potential for nine MLAs to be assigned ministerial portfolios. Well, I am not advocating that, but I would suggest that there is potential to increase the number from six in order to provide more resources and more ministerial time to these important assignments.
Because right now, all these matters I've identified are getting what I think can be reasonably concluded as a short shrift. The examples are surfacing on a regular basis.
Now, Mr. Speaker, with regard to the number of ministers a government can have, we on this side have already suggested that the Premier add one minister to her portfolio, making it seven in total, by bringing in her only rural member, the Member for Faro, who has previous experience in this Legislature. Already the member participated in budget consultation meetings. I believe it was at the meeting in Mayo where he represented the Minister of Finance. So even in a short time in this government - I believe it has been about three months for this member - he has experience substituting for a minister.
Now, there is certainly potential for this government to show some creativity with the numbers that it has at its disposal and to also show some more respect to rural Yukoners in ensuring they are represented within Cabinet.
So, Mr. Speaker, you know, as well as everybody in this House, that the opposition can't dictate what the government does with its numbers, but I think it's fair to say that representation has been made as to where our support is in this area. Now, let's leave it up to the government to show some leadership and do something with it. I believe that that is a constructive suggestion.
Now, on the area of the economy, with the release of this latest economic outlook, it's clear that the economic indicators are downturning. Compared to last year, that's a reversal in trends. Last year, the economic indicators were on an upswing. Now, within one year, we've seen a reversal in the economic trends in this territory. We have seen continuing decreases in the populations, in the number of jobs - practically all the economic indicators. Well, we're just not whistling numbers out of the air. These numbers are produced by the government's own Department of Economic Development.
In addition, this government likes to have people believe that it makes sound decisions based on business cases. Well, Mr. Speaker, here's a business case: the economic outlook. The economic outlook has built a business case for a wake-up call to this government that what it's doing for the economy is not working.
Something needs to be done - and quickly.
Yesterday, I mentioned how the seeds of the economy have not been planted and that it will be a barren spring. Mr. Speaker, I think it's fair to project that further down the road into next year and possibly the year after. It takes time for the government to develop and plant the seeds, and time for them to grow and show up as part of the economic indicators.
Speaker: Order please. The member has two minutes to conclude.
Mr. McRobb: Since we are already one year into this government's term, Mr. Speaker, it's almost to the stage where we're planting seeds in a garden in July, instead of early June. So, it's fair not to raise our expectations for too much of a crop in the garden at the end of this government's term, because the homework has not been done.
We see particular areas, such as the film industry, where golden opportunities are not being realized. We see delays in the Yukon protected areas strategy. We saw the government cancel the ports. Even though it mentions the Dakwakada Forest Products in the outlook as one of the bright lights, it has cancelled one of the ports this industry needs to survive.
Now, Mr. Speaker, there isn't time for me to go through the list of points I have developed to speak to this afternoon, but let's just say that the public at large is listening to this government. We are listening to them and their voice has been expressed today through the DataPath Systems poll. Let that speak for itself, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Keenan: It's always a pleasure. I won't have too many words to say here, because I think a few folks on our side and the leader of the third party have certainly spoken to the intent of the motion, and I will be supporting the motion, and I'd like to explain why I'll be supporting the motion.
This motion is not a personal attack on anybody in this House. It's not a frivolous motion, because I, for one - and I'm sure that there are many others out here, but sometimes it feels limited to only politicians - would like to stand up and say, "God bless all politicians", because I think all politicians, including you, Mr. Speaker, are here for the benefit of society. You have strong, sometimes compassionate and very passionate speeches on behalf of the people you represent. That's what it's all about. That's exactly what it's all about.
So, when the Member for Riverdale North, I think it is, says that, you know, it's frivolous and it's personal and getting down to saying that some are nice people and some aren't so nice, and some give good constructive criticism and some don't - welcome to the House. That's exactly the way it goes.
But I do take my hat off to people who will serve in this civic duty, because I think, in some ways, that if it were possible, that all people should have to serve in a civic duty some way or other, whether through politics or through just working at the community level, and whatever type of service group - because that would give them an idea of the input into what folks have to go through here.
Sure. I accepted the decision that the voters brought down. I had no choice but to accept that. But, Mr. Speaker, I landed on my feet and I am still here. I took over 51 percent. You guys threw your best candidate at me. I appreciate that and I am going to do it next time, too, because I believe very strongly in representing the people and being here for the people.
What I see as the biggest downfall of this new government, at this point in time, is not the personalities walking out the door at this point, not the wannabes. What I see as their downfall is that they do not have a vision.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Speaker: Order please. Member for Whitehorse Centre, on a point of order.
Mr. McLarnon: Quorum, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: 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 quorum, the Speaker will then cause the bells to ring and then do a count.
Speaker: Having done a count, the Chair sees that there is a quorum.
Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, now that I have an audience of attentive ears, I feel compelled to start over. Of course, I know I'm not here to mention people leaving the House, but I would think that the Health minister is just going for a health break. That's what I would suggest.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Point of order
Speaker: Order please. The Member for Whitehorse Centre, on a point of order.
Mr. McLarnon: The Standing Orders clearly state that you cannot comment on the leavings and comings and goings of members of the House. Right now, the member has broken a Standing Order of this House.
Speaker: Leader of the official opposition, on that point of order.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, clearly the Minister of Health and Social Services is in this Legislature, and there is no point of order.
Speaker: I'm a little disappointed that when I'm speaking members get up and just walk out.
Anyway, I find that there was a point of order. I'm very disappointed in the way things are going here today, and I would ask again that we be thoughtful and careful about how we proceed, and I would ask the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes to proceed, please.
Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, I have a captive audience. I know that they're listening attentively.
Mr. Speaker, I can certainly understand why the Member for Riverdale North would not want to hear what I have to say. I can understand that, Mr. Speaker, because what I have to say is hard; it's very hard. The more members of the caucus who join him, the better, because it has to be tough to sit and to listen when the official opposition in conjunction with the leader of the third party would go out and ask for the resignation. Are we doing this frivolously, as I said? No, we're not.
It's not personal, Mr. Speaker; it's about politics and it's about good government - never wanting to be insulting, but certainly to provide advice, and I will look at it in that light.
Now, I said earlier, God bless all politicians, because folks put their hearts and their minds forth here for the benefit of all people, and certainly not all people appreciate it, but once every four years, folks certainly get a chance to decide on it. Within the last 10 months - not even one year - the people bought into the Liberal vision.
But, based on what's coming out of the polls, brought out just today, Mr. Speaker, the dissatisfaction level is certainly going up. Now, I know that the members opposite, and especially the Member for McIntyre, must be scratching his head, wondering, "Why is this happening here to me? Holy moly, just 10 months ago I was the most popular kid. I was the newest kid on the block. But now, gee, I'm not so popular any more. Holy moly, what's going on here?"
Well, let me explain what's going on here, Mr. Speaker. We've had 10 months of non-leadership. The people bought into the Liberal vision. That Liberal vision, I guess, was just like a joke gift at Christmastime. You can get a great big box, that's all prettied up - it has paper, ribbons and just looks beautiful - but inside is something very insignificant. In this case, we have a very pretty package, but I really do believe that all we have in that package is just an eraser to erase some programs, without the leadership to bring back some of those programs.
Now, leadership does mean very tough decisions. When this side of the House sits and makes concrete suggestions, as I have tried to here - and if you'll look into the Blues, Mr. Speaker, you'll see where I've tried to bring forth suggestions in different areas. The Economic Development minister has not been listening to these suggestions and, therefore, the people are getting restless, very restless. They want leadership; they need leadership, because the Yukon is typical of going through good times and hard times, boom and bust.
Now, I guess, myself, I try not to say the words "to re-establish the economy", because it suggests that the economy was broken. What we have to do here is get off the dependency of what we're dependent upon now - that's the resource sector, that's the formula financing from Ottawa, et cetera. You're very well versed in this stuff too, Mr. Speaker.
What we're doing here, Mr. Speaker, is that we are establishing an economy. We're establishing an economy for the people who live here. The people who live here have ownership and desires to stay here, and that's everyone in this room. Most people in this room have tenure in the Yukon Territory. The average tenure, as I look around this room, is probably 35 years. That's dedication. That core group of people will always be here. It will go up in the good times and down in the hard times. Mr. Speaker, there are transient workers wherever you go. I was one. I was a miner, a road builder, a carpenter, a logger, a salesman and a trucker. I was a lot of different things - to survive. I had to go different places.
Now, I see the opportunity here, Mr. Speaker, to establish that common, level playing field. What we need is the leadership to do that. So, we have to hunker down and make those tough decisions. We have to develop that vision and have the people buy into that vision. Some of the folks in this territory thought they were. The Whitehorse folks thought they were buying into that vision; the rural folks didn't.
So, Mr. Speaker, we have to hunker down with those tough decisions and continue with the diversification of the economy. We can't be throwing out old programs and replacing them with new programs, simply because the quarterback of the football team has changed. There's no reason to throw away the football - absolutely not. That football will work in any football game, and so will the programs we have developed.
So, Mr. Speaker, what should be happening, and what is not happening at this point in time, is the diversification of the economy. Now, you can spin it - you can spin it any which way you want to spin it. You can blame anybody you want for your past woes, but that's just throwing dirt. I read somewhere that if you just throw dirt, you lose turf. Well, I understand that. I understand that you will lose turf if you throw dirt. But that's not what it's all about.
We're looking for the leadership. We're looking for the diversification. I have places within my riding that cry out for leadership. I have places within my riding that don't have a telephone. And we just had a ministerial statement from the Minister of Economic Development today about IT and e-commerce.
How do people buy into that? How do they buy into that? They're still sitting at home, waiting for a road job. They're still sitting there, waiting for the development of a forestry industry. I mean, holy moly, let's show some leadership, Mr. Speaker. The development assessment process - that was spoken to by the Member for Kluane. There's a diversification tool based on the people who live here and want it and desire it. It has been agreed to by the three levels of government, and it has still not been put in place.
So, Mr. Speaker, I'm going to wind down here, now. I'm not here to beat up, on a personal basis, the Minister of Economic Development. To tell you the truth, I'm quite fond of the Minister of Economic Development. I've known her history. I've known her probably a little longer than I've been in the House. But I admire, like I said, politicians and leaders who will step up to the plate. So I'm not beating the minister up on a personal basis - not at all.
God bless everyone in this room. I share personal relationships with a few of them. But I'll tell you, it's not a personality attack here. It's an attack on an empty, hollow government, and it's being led with not much leadership, and that's what we're asking for. We're simply asking her not to step down from her Premier role; we're asking her to step down from her economic role and to not just share the wealth, share the glory - share the workload. And it has been said by the Member for Klondike here that everyone in this room will give kudos where kudos are needed. And I will be the first to stand up if there's something said to be good and done, but so far I've seen nothing but empty and broken promises, I've seen a lot of spin, I've seen a lot of blame, and it's reflected in the poll of today.
So therefore, Mr. Speaker, I must support the motion as presented.
Ms. Tucker: I will be quite concise this afternoon. First, I am proud to be a Liberal, and I am proud to be a member of the Premier's team. The Premier is one of the hardest working people I have ever met and is an excellent Minister of Economic Development. The people of the Yukon know that we have taken over the reins of government at a very, very difficult time in the Yukon's history. As one constituent said to me, "I don't envy the Liberals right now, because it will get worse before it gets better, and most people are fair-weather supporters. Work hard, do the job, and the count will be taken in the next election." Well, we will see. In the meantime, the Premier has our confidence and our support.
Speaker: If the member now speaks, he will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?
Mr. Fentie: I think that nothing more needs to be said on this issue. The evidence speaks for itself, and I believe that the opposition has brought forward a very constructive motion, an idea. I will now close debate.
Speaker: Are you prepared for the question?
Some Hon. Members: Division.
Speaker: Division has been called.
Speaker: Mr. Clerk, please poll the House.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Disagree.
Hon. Mr. Jim: Disagree.
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Disagree.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Disagree.
Ms. Tucker: Disagree.
Mr. McLarnon: Disagree.
Mr. Kent: Disagree.
Mr. McLachlan: Disagree.
Mr. Fairclough: Agree.
Mr. Fentie: Agree.
Mr. Keenan: Agree.
Mr. McRobb: Agree.
Ms. Netro: Agree.
Mr. Jenkins: Agree.
Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are six yea, eight nay.
Speaker: The nays have it. I declare the motion defeated.
Motion No. 63 negatived
Motion No. 77
Clerk: Motion No. 77, standing in the name of Mr. Jenkins.
Speaker: It is moved by the leader of the third party
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the newly created Project Yukon funding program is but a faint shadow of the former Community Development Fund;
THAT funding for community projects has been dramatically reduced in recent years from a high of $6 million in the 1999-2000 Budget to a low of $1.5 million in the 2001-02 Budget; and
THAT this House urges the Yukon Liberal Government to scrap Project Yukon and restore the Community Development Fund with a proper level of funding while introducing a system of accountability to ensure Yukon taxpayers are receiving value for their money.
Mr. Jenkins: The community development fund, or the CDF, as it's so affectionately known, has been the subject of much debate and considerable controversy in this House. It was, at its onset, an initiative of the NDP government of the day. It was selected by that government as a fast way of directing money into the economy in a manner that would lend itself to create virtually instant employment and address a shortcoming in a respective area.
It also had a component of an organization or a community buying in to the initiative - a buy-in, or an initiative, that would enhance their respective areas. But, over time, for any government that came into opposition, it was the responsibility of the opposition to hold the government of the day accountable for their expenditures. Of course, the community development fund, by its very nature, came under very close scrutiny because, when you look at the whole series of projects that were initiated and funded through CDF, there were problems identified with the process in which the funds were allowed.
There were suggestions of political interference, and the CDF became known as a political slush fund.
There were times that it probably warranted that kind of a name, but what we have done is, figuratively speaking, we have taken the bathwater and thrown it out, but we forgot the kids were in the bath, so we've thrown out all the kids in the bathwater. That's not fair, not reasonable, Mr. Speaker, and it doesn't lend itself to developing trust in government nor accountability.
When something is wrong with a program, instead of immediately cancelling it or curtailing it, what we should be doing is examining it, looking at the shortcomings. And it doesn't matter what area of government we look at; there's always a possibility of improving the service delivery, the cost-effectiveness, or the way it serves our population. There's always a way of improving on what we have, but to downright cancel the project -
Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible)
Speaker: Order please. The Chair's having a difficult time hearing the speaker. Please continue.
Mr. Jenkins: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
It's a problem that we inherit in our adversarial positions that we have here in the Legislature. As I said earlier, it is our responsibility in opposition to hold the government accountable, and we do so by examining their expenditures, to a large degree, and the projects that they initiate and move forward on.
The community development fund was severely criticized by the Yukon Party; but at the end of the day, the Yukon Party recognized that there were benefits accorded to this program.
If you look at our last campaign, we were going to maintain the community development fund, but institute a series of measures to provide for accountability.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Speaker: Order please. The Member for Whitehorse Centre, on a point of order.
Mr. McLarnon: I will draw to your attention there being no quorum.
Speaker: 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 the bells off and done a count. There are 11 members present, a quorum is present and we will now continue. I ask the leader of the third party to please continue.
Mr. Jenkins: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It is interesting to note that the government of the day is so concerned with the decorum and the way that the House operates that they can't even maintain a presence here, Mr. Speaker.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Speaker: Member for Whitehorse Centre, on a point of order.
Mr. McLarnon: The member just commented on absences on one side of the House, whether the attendance was here or not. This is not allowed in the House under our Standing Orders.
Speaker: Pardon me, please? I didn't hear you.
Mr. McLarnon: This is not allowed - commenting on absences of government members is not allowed under the Standing Orders of the House. The member has just commented that the government did not keep quorum. This is not allowed under our Standing Orders.
And it's also inaccurate.
Speaker: Leader of the third party, on the point of order.
Mr. Jenkins: I made no reference to specific members being absent. I believe that's what the Standing Orders refer to. I made reference that the government couldn't maintain a quorum in the House.
Speaker: Thank you. The government House leader, on the point of order.
Ms. Tucker: I would like to set the record straight. The Member for Klondike was inaccurate in saying that the government wasn't maintaining quorum.
Speaker: Member for Watson Lake, on the point of order.
Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, on the point of order, it's customary to recite which Standing Order of this Legislature has been contravened. I would ask the government side, when they get up on these frivolous points of order, that they would make representation on which Standing Order they feel has been broken, so that we can conduct these proceedings in the intended manner.
Speaker: The Chair is not in a position to make a decision because there was so much background noise here that, from what the Chair was able to hear - I did not hear anything that the member was being accused of, so I can't rule on this. But I will review the Blues tomorrow and make a decision tomorrow.
With that, I am very disappointed with the actions going on in here today. I would ask the leader of the third party to please continue.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, I share that concern with you, Mr. Chair, and certainly concur. I certainly concur that the actions going on here today are not conducive to the operation of a respected group in a Legislature.
We have for debate here a motion, and I would urge the members of the Liberal caucus to pay attention, as they rightly should. Perhaps if they give some attention to these motions that are being debated, they might be able to turn around the economy of the Yukon and provide some incentives that are not otherwise readily available. They also might be able to address their responsibilities, for which they were elected. Other than "payday is every second Wednesday", it doesn't appear likely that we're going to move ahead as a government for Yukon.
Mr. Speaker, the issue before us is the community development fund and how it was perceived by governments in opposition. When the NDP fell from grace and the Yukon Party took over, this was one area examined by the Yukon Party - the CDF - and it was not looked upon favourably. It was considered to be a political slush fund. It was considered to be an area that was being abused by the political masters.
When we go back and look at the number of initiatives that were funded, there were some very beneficial and worthwhile projects that were funded at that time and in subsequent years through the CDF program. No one will deny, Mr. Speaker, that there was abuse of process. There was political interference, and commitments were made that exceeded the authority of those responsible for making those decisions.
But at the end of the day, Mr. Speaker, who benefited? Usually, the project that was funded benefited. Usually a number of individuals were employed, and in most cases something beneficial was left as a result of the expenditure of CDF money.
After the Yukon Party fell from grace and the NDP was re-elected, one of the areas that the NDP government recognized was that if they reinstituted the community development fund, they would gain a lot of political kudos. Why not? They did. And the amount of expenditure under the community development fund went to a high of $6 million and subsequently fell back to $3 million in the last year of the NDP mandate, just recently.
But I only have to look at my own community of Dawson to see the benefits that accrued to Dawson, to the Yukon, to the Klondike as a result of the expenditures of community development funds.
We have a new ballpark - sadly needed. We have a soccer field. And, most importantly, the Oddfellows Hall was created into a centrepiece for the Dawson City Arts Society. That is playing a very, very beneficial role in our community today, Mr. Speaker, and that project would never have gone ahead were it not for the community development fund.
That project has been the dream and aspiration of a lot of Dawsonites for a good number of years, Mr. Speaker. The building itself was saved from demolition by the Klondike Visitors Association, who purchased it from its original owner - not its original owner, but its last owner. The KVA, each year, budgeted an amount to basically just maintain the building.
The first step was to lift the building up and place it on a new foundation. So, in Dawson, we do what we do best - we lift up the buildings and move them around, build a new foundation, and then move them back. The building was left sitting on a new foundation for a considerable number of years before a proposal was put to the NDP for funding under the community development fund to proceed with the reconstruction of the Oddfellows Hall.
That building now enjoys a very revitalized life, and it's a centre of activity for a considerable number of people in the Klondike - and not only in the Klondike. We have individuals coming to Dawson from other areas of the Yukon and, indeed, Canada, to offer courses in various arts and sundry activities, which are being extremely well-subscribed to and extremely well-funded.
Now, that's an example, Mr. Speaker, of a project that went well and that is providing benefits. The benefits are being accrued to a great number of individuals in the Klondike and, indeed, Yukon. But of equal importance to that project that went well, there are a number of projects that did not go well. Rather than dwell on the negative, I will leave those projects alone, but it's fair to say that we had a number of community development fund projects that went off the rails.
What our party advocates and what we would have liked to have seen is the community development fund maintained with a system of accountability for the expenditures and a better control system on the allocation of these funds. What did we see under the Liberal government of the day, the novice Liberal government? They were adamant that the NDP had messed up with the community development fund, so they immediately cancelled it under the guise of examining it. An audit - an in-house audit. I don't know who established the terms of reference for the audit, but that is an exercise in itself. But enough said.
The Liberals had a document produced that substantiated the position that the community development fund wasn't worthwhile - we'll call it something else. And it's a way to reduce the amount of funding. So, what do we have today? We have Project Yukon funded to the tune of $1.5 million.
Here we have a depressed economy. The whole economy has gone right off the rails here in the Yukon. This last winter, we could have used a lot of community development fund money to stimulate the economy. Indeed, there are many other programs that could have been used to stimulate the economy. Fire smart - there was no reason to cancel that program. The government of the day could have moved ahead on that. They failed to do so; they failed to put Yukoners to work over the course of the last winter.
So, in this budget for this next fiscal period, we have Project Yukon. Project Yukon for $1.5 million. Last year, there was $3 million in CDF funding, and the year before that, an unheard-of amount of $6 million. Now, I'm sure that all of those individuals, Mr. Speaker, who travelled around the Yukon for a consultation on the budget, if the topic came up about CDF funding, the only message that was given to the government was to put the project back on its rails and start funding these requests and initiatives. The same goes for fire smart - put the project back on the rails and start funding it. It's very worthwhile, it's beneficial to the respective communities and it puts Yukoners to work.
We didn't see that, Mr. Speaker, and why? I guess there was suspicion within the Liberal caucus that CDF funding would - well, there's too much political interference. I guess that's what the Liberals hung their hat on. But was that really fair? Can you show me one area of the budget that really doesn't have any political interference or political influence? Not very likely, Mr. Speaker. There are a few small areas that act on their own but, by and large, all the decisions made as to the level of funding, the degree of funding, and the direction the government is going to take are political decisions.
There isn't anything wrong with that, Mr. Speaker, because that's our system of government. That's the parliamentary system, where the government of the day controls the direction of government.
The only problem we have today is that the economy here is out of control, and the government can't control it, but not because they don't have enough money. It's because they haven't yet demonstrated the ability. They don't have an understanding of what makes the economy tick - what the drivers are in economy, what creates wealth and what stimulates and promotes an economy. There is a tremendous lack of understanding in this novice Liberal government about that whole area.
The concept is that we're probably going to create one big series of parks here in the Yukon, and it will be an exclusive area for the wealthy to come and visit and perhaps have a summer home, with no consideration given to those in the mining, oil and gas or forestry communities, or the original area where we made a living - trapping.
The Premier went on at great length the other day, mentioning that the trapping industry is producing results. Well, that's great. We know we have always had an abundance of fur in the Yukon. But when the fur market collapses, and the prices in the fur market collapse, trappers aren't going to make any money, and they aren't going to go trapping.
They're going to wait until fur prices rebound and then go out there and trap once again. Put them out for sales in the last fur auction - I'm told it was quite a successful fur auction. Well, that's great. That's great, indeed, and I welcome the resurgence in that traditional area of our economy.
Let's go back to the issue before us. Why would a novice government treat something that is effective, by and large, the way that they did? What benefits accrued to Yukon because of this decision? I really can't think of any, Mr. Speaker, other than that they're serving a political direction or a political need that is demonstrated within their own organization or their own party. But this approach is ignoring the well-being and opportunities that Yukoners have before them - or could have. They could do something for all of us and produce something tangible and meaningful, not provide just an opportunity for an individual to gain enough weeks so that they were eligible for employment insurance. By and large, individuals like to work, like to do something meaningful and productive.
I hope that message is getting through to the Liberal caucus over there, Mr. Speaker. It seems to be going right over the top. I guess the legacy that they're leaving for us will be one of initially a great honeymoon period, then the honeymoon's over, and then Yukoners will divorce the party. Another government will come to power.
Mr. Speaker, I have some serious reservations, as do a lot of Yukoners today, about some of the initiatives being taken by this novice Liberal government. They have been 10 months in their respective roles - hours and hours of briefings, I would assume. And this novice Liberal government still can't grasp the fundamentals of governing, other than that you rule from on high and it looks like it's dictated down to those of us in the workforce. That in itself is appalling.
I'm just looking at some of the many initiatives that were cancelled or placed under review when this Liberal government came to power. In the areas where they did spend money - and they did spend questionable money on themselves. One only has to look at the expenses they incurred in Executive Council Office. It's very, very interesting to see the expenditures in the Executive Council Office.
In order to not paint the picture clearly and compare apples to apples in Executive Council Office, what do we find this novice Liberal government doing? What we see them doing is moving various entities out of Executive Council Office into other government departments, so that the total expenditure in that department doesn't look like it is increasing at the rate that it is, Mr. Speaker. It's kind of like those games that they play at the fairs - the shell games where they move around the three containers and, which one is it under?
Well, the Liberals are proving to be very adept at moving it around, but in opposition, it is our responsibility to hold the government accountable, especially when they are playing these shell games - especially when they are playing these shell games with the economic well-being of Yukoners.
Now, it would appear reasonable that if you want to spend that kind of money on yourselves and on Executive Council Office, you should be upfront with it. That's all anyone asks. Spell it out the same way that it was spelled out before, instead of transferring a bunch of responsibilities to other departments and burying the other areas, and then we still see Executive Council Office costs increase alarmingly, never mind the sole-source contracts.
Mr. Speaker, last April, Yukoners gave the Yukon Liberal Party a wonderful opportunity. Since coming to power, we haven't seen much of a demonstration of the ability of this government to turn the Yukon economy around and address the needs of Yukoners.
In fact, in many sectors of our economy, the decision is now being made to completely exit the Yukon. A lot of firms were just on hold, downsized, obtained contracts somewhere else, moved a lot of their staff and workforce elsewhere, operated out of another office. But more and more I'm hearing of these firms saying, "That's it, we're closing, we're gone."
In this House, I'm sure each and every one of us, Mr. Speaker, can come up with the names of quite a number of individuals who we know personally who have had to move elsewhere to find employment. I find that very, very disconcerting, especially when you look at the Yukon. On all sides of us - to the west, to the east, to northern British Columbia, to Alberta - their economies are booming. Now, you don't have to be an Einstein to examine what those respective areas have done politically to encourage the development that they're experiencing. All it takes is a simple review of what they have done, what they have undertaken in the Northwest Territories, in British Columbia, in Alberta. We could be in the same situation. We could have an economy that's growing instead of shrinking. We could have opportunities for the youth here in the Yukon. Instead, one only has to look at the economic forecast to see where we're heading.
We haven't even hit bottom yet. The chances are that this year will be the worst year for mining activity ever, in both production and exploration, if you look at these numbers in constant dollars. We know what has happened to the forestry industry, and we know what is happening in the visitor industry. Isn't there any hope anywhere, Mr. Speaker, other than in Alberta, Northwest Territories, somewhere else? It's a sad day.
Then I had the pleasure yesterday, as quite a number in this House did, of listening to Mr. Martin saying, "Well, as soon as you get control of your own activities and devolution occurs, you'll be much better off. You can control your own selves." Well, let's examine that equation, because it does sound good. It sounds like a way that we can benefit. But if you look at what's underway in the hard rock industry today, they're going through a complete review of the regulations attached to the act.
The Yukon, under devolution, will be bringing forward mirror legislation, which, one would assume, is the same as currently exists under the federal regime. And coupled to that mirror legislation will be the regulations that are soon to be imposed upon us, Mr. Speaker. So the Yukon, because this government has failed to recognize the Crown in right and take over ownership of land, will be the caretaker of federal lands here in the Yukon, and the federal government will be the regulators. About the only opportunity in Yukon after that change will be for lawyers, because the Yukon will be spending a lot of time in court, sued and charged by the federal government.
That's the picture that is currently being painted. If you look at the regulators, they are becoming more and more and more aggressive all the time. Why? I don't know. About the only sector that is being armed today with the old pistols on their side are our regulators. It doesn't matter if it's the federal Department of Fisheries, conservation officers or mining recorders - it goes on and on and on. Every day it's another group looked at to be armed.
We had our chance to do something, and we still have a chance. But the issue of this CDF fund before us, while it might appear to be problematic, in that it's not politically acceptable to a number of parties, the bottom line is that it did a lot of good. It also created a lot of problems, but we're throwing the baby out with the bathwater. That shouldn't be the case. We should put controls and accountability in place and ensure that we get value for our money. Then, at the end of the day, we can move these funds around. Yes, they're kind of bandaids and quick fixes for employment, but they are extremely beneficial.
I won't go on at great length today, because this is a fundamental area where the Liberals could fix a problem. They could fix a problem by addressing the shortcomings in what is being proposed. What has been done, has been done. The project was cancelled for a period of time. That was appalling in itself, but now it's being resurrected with a new name. Let's look at funding this to at least the level it was in the last fiscal period, funding this program to at least what it was before, and putting in steps that make it accountable.
Now, I'm sure the Liberals who rise to speak to this motion are going to be saying that that's exactly what they have done, and that's exactly what they are doing. Well, currently they're not accepting applications and not giving out any money under the old budget. A supplementary could have been put in place, not only for just community development fund, but for fire smart. A great number of individuals could have been put to work over the course of this last winter, who either didn't work because there was no employment here, or had to move elsewhere to find meaningful employment.
About the only statement in the Premier's Budget Address that I will concur with 110 percent is her statement, "My way is the highway." And her way is the highway. If you want to find employment, use the Dempster Highway to Inuvik, or the Alaska Highway south. That's it.
The Liberal government is getting that message out very clearly to Yukoners, and that is manifesting itself in surveys like this recent one from the DataPath Systems here in Whitehorse, which spells out how favourably the Liberals are now looked upon, compared to just a short period of time ago.
It's very, very interesting. Their popularity, in spite of the new Member for Faro, has decreased. It's because of the way Yukoners feel they are being treated by this novice Liberal government that people, the general population, have come to this conclusion, Mr. Speaker.
We tout "the magic and the mystery" of the Yukon. Well, there's no magic and no mystery about being successful in politics. You do what you say you're going to do, and you do it right. Stimulate the economy, make this the best place in Canada to live in, not only from an environmental standpoint but also from an economic standpoint.
Under this government, the Minister of Renewable Resources is going to create a whole series of parks for the elite in the world to come and visit. That's all, because no one else will be able to afford to come up this way, given what the cost of living will eventually end up as. I don't know why he's proceeding in that direction. He's got a wonderful opportunity to protect a number of ecoregions. He can probably do it through CDF grants, but instead, we're going to go through a whole new system and put in place another bureaucracy. Gee, there's an opportunity to create a secretariat of parks next - a whole new branch of government with a deputy minister level in charge of it. There's another window of opportunity for a government that's really determined to create more and more government - secretariat of parks under the Minister of Renewable Resources.
We could go on and on as to how many different departments of government, or secretariats as we're currently calling them, this government could create.
They could probably create them a lot faster if they used community development funds because it wouldn't take a whole budget cycle to go through it, Mr. Speaker. I am hopeful, but I am doubtful that the Liberals will see the error of their ways and bring back the community development fund and fund it to the same level that it was funded the last fiscal period. I challenge them to do something positive in this area. I challenge them and encourage them to do something positive for the entire Yukon economy. This is but one small facet that could be addressed, should be addressed, and, if we are going to move ahead, must be addressed. Whether it will occur or not is up to the Liberals of the day. We can only offer very extremely constructive observations and criticisms of their ways and offer very definitive suggestions - positive suggestions - as to how they can proceed.
We are doing that, in opposition, but we still must hold the government accountable for what they do and, more importantly, for what they do not do. This is such an occasion that they are having to be held accountable for what they have not done and are not prepared to do. It's a sad day for Yukoners.
So, in closing, Mr. Speaker, once again, I set out the challenge to the Liberal caucus and the members who will rise and speak to this motion, to really look upon it as a way to encourage development, to get some money out there, almost immediately, and put it to work. I encourage them to support the motion so that we can all move forward, because if it were funded to the same level as last year, with rules for accountability, we could accomplish a lot.
And, heck, you might go around to some of the communities and get a pat on the back, instead of what you're going to be receiving more and more often, Mr. Speaker - a review of your performance, which is doing nothing lately but going down.
Mr. Speaker, I urge the members in government today to give favourable consideration to this motion. I know that they're going to find it very, very difficult dealing with some of the areas that I've explored today. I think, deep down, being Yukoners for the length of time that they have been, they will certainly recognize the error of their ways and look favourably upon this motion.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. McLarnon: I'm pleased to rise on this motion today. I want to address this motion bit by bit to make sure everybody understands why we're here and what we're talking about.
What we have in front of us today is actually quite enlightening. It shows me how time changes things and how philosophies can change over three years. It was only about three years ago that the person bringing this motion forward, asking us to increase the funding to the community development fund, was quoted in this House saying, "Mr. Speaker, the object of good government is fiscally responsible government, yet we're told that the community development fund is the end-all and do-it-all in rural Yukon. Yes, it is well-received, but is it fiscally responsible spending? It is at the whim and want of the minister responsible for that area. It is just a political slush fund for the ministers in the government of the day." This is from the Member for Klondike, April 1, 1997. It seems to contrast directly with a call for more money in that fund, just three years later.
Either he has now gone completely to the left-wing side, or he has changed his mind. Why has he changed his mind? Because political expedience means that no matter what side of the coin you look at, the other side has to be the right one. When you're a party of one, you can change your opinions all the time because there is no caucus to discuss the philosophies or to keep the philosophies in check.
Our member from Dawson City has definitely decided that he will take the other side. I would like to continue this because it's an interesting end to the sentence. "One only has to look, Mr. Speaker, at all the projects that were undertaken under CDF funding. One raises the question: how many have created lasting jobs? I can't think of any. Look at all of those areas that do create jobs, and where are they in the budget?" That was in the budget in 1997. "They are either non-existent or virtually decreasing, with the sole exception of the growth in government. Quite the flip-flop."
What we are seeing here from the Yukon Party is quite the flip-flop.
Now, the member from Dawson does have caucus meetings on the way home in the van. So, we understand that no one holds him accountable. We understand why. Just to make a political point, he would bring a motion that differs, is diametrically opposed and runs opposite to what we heard from his lips, in this very House - probably from the very same seat - three years ago. I wish I could change my political stripes that fast. I really wish I could.
And this is from the party that, in fact, cancelled the CDF when they got into government. Now, apparently, $6 million should be put into it. That's amazing. I have never seen a political transformation like this.
There's the chameleon. It is the how-do-I-get-attention chameleon that we see from the member from Dawson City.
Just to reinforce this - that the member from Dawson City does not represent any particular point of view in politics, other than opportunism. We will reinforce what I believe was the true keeper of the faith for the Yukon Party's words, Mr. Ostashek, the previous Member for Porter Creek North.
The previous leader of the Yukon Party has been quoted as saying, "I am going to go on record once more by saying that here is the biggest problem that I've had with them" - meaning the NDP and their funds - "which is that they are too easily abused by the minister who sits on the board. I urge the minister, if he is going to go ahead with CDF, which he is, that he put some safeguards in place and that these projects, after being approved by a board, will not be overturned by the minister and the money directed elsewhere." He certainly saw the same thing we did. But he continues by saying, "If we are going to play with taxpayers' money that way, we need to be a little more responsible in how we do it and we need to put some safeguards in place, so that the minister can't be accused of using it as a political slush fund. Certainly the communities like it. Any time they are going to go out there and say, "How much money do you want; the communities are going to like it. You can't blame communities for that."
So, the Yukon Party has proven, through their words, and even in the way we have seen criticisms already in this term, that they don't particularly support the CDF or the Project Yukon fund. Historically, they haven't. Yet somehow we see a motion completely against their philosophy, telling us to enhance the fund.
One thing that is within the Yukon Party's philosophy - and I will give them credit for it - is that they do claim that they want to be a fiscally responsible government. They did ask that controls be put on the funds to ensure that it never does become a slush fund.
It seems to be a philosophy that the people on this side of the House also shared, which is why we brought down an audit and which is why the fund was reviewed.
And, by the way, to correct something that the member from Dawson City has presented, the fund was never cancelled. In fact, I had the fortunate ability to sit down and disburse some of the monies, but we did run out of money. It was spent in the exact same political slush-fund mentality that the previous leader of the Yukon Party feared and that we all feared - that two-thirds of that fund was spent in a month in a desperate attempt to get votes. Because the party was spending it, bereft of ideas, and this proved - thank God this proved - that money doesn't buy votes. It buys smiles, but that voting booth is a private place. This was proven on election day, April 17.
One of the promises that we made was that we would review funds to make sure that they are efficient and that they meet the needs of communities, which is why Project Yukon has been brought to us today. Now, the member from Dawson City was correct; we are going to stand up and say that we are doing it.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Speaker: Leader of the third party, on a point of order.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, we are to refer to members by their ridings. There is no member from Dawson in this House. There is a Member for Klondike. And I don't know whom he has been referring to for the past number of years, but the reality is that it is the Member for Klondike, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Member for Whitehorse Centre, on the point of order.
Mr. McLarnon: Mr. Speaker, Member for Klondike, I apologize. I do apologize. I understand that there are many constituents up in Dawson City who really do wish that the Member for Klondike wasn't or didn't know where Dawson City was.
Speaker: Order please. The Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes, on a point of order.
Mr. Keenan: I just want to point something out, and I agree with you. The House got a little raucous this afternoon. I took it upon myself, after listening to you saying that you wanted to listen to people, to calm myself down. Now, I did that conscientiously, but when the member who is speaking now from the Liberal Party starts using insulting language to members from this side of the House, which he is using - not inadvertently, but very pointedly - insulting language, I think that should be stopped and we should get back to the calm decorum that the House deserves.
Speaker: On the point of order, certainly to sensitive ears, the comments could be abusive or insulting or of a nature likely to create disorder, and I find there was a point of order. I ask the member if he would rephrase it.
Mr. McLarnon: Mr. Speaker, what I meant to say is there are an awful lot of people in the City of Dawson City who don't want and never voted for the Member for Klondike.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Speaker: Mr. Jenkins, on a point of order.
Mr. Jenkins: You know, if the member is going to go on at great lengths and to the extent that he is, the official name is the Town of the City of Dawson or Dawson City. Let's use the correct names, at least. We know he's going on ad infinitum about nothing other than bafflegab, but the bottom line is that he's supposed to, at least, get things accurate with respect to the names of the members in this House and the names of the communities in the Yukon.
Speaker: Order please. I find that when we first started down this road, there was some suggestion - maybe unintentional, but with some intention - that the leader of the third party is only representing the residents of Dawson City and not all of the residents in Klondike. In fact, the leader of the third party represents all residents of Klondike, and not just Dawson City.
Then, when it was suggested that the member is from Dawson City but doesn't represent some of the people from Dawson City, we're going down the road here where there's no way to get back. There's no way to get back and bring decorum back here.
So, I would ask that the member, when making his presentation, think of his words and be judicious in his comments and just continue, please.
Mr. McLarnon: I'm really sorry that the sensitivities of this House have been damaged to the point where I cannot even bring up actual fact and political history. The actual fact and political history here is that the Yukon Party did cancel the CDF when they had their only shot at power. We have the Member for Klondike on record, three years ago, diametrically opposing his statements today, read in the record of this House.
All I commented on was that not all the constituents of Dawson City agree with the Member for Klondike. I'm sorry if that sensitivity is there, but that's an opinion they don't agree with. If I can't say that people I know in Dawson City don't agree with their member, then there is no freedom of speech in this House.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Speaker: Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes, on a point of order.
Mr. Keenan: Again, I think, especially with government, that this is getting to be appalling. It's a weakness in government, Mr. Speaker, because if they continue down this road again, you're going with division, and every one of us represents every one of our constituents, and every one of us takes the time to listen to those constituents, whether they supported us or not. That is the role. Thank you.
Speaker: Order please. On the point of order, it's the Chair's position that it is quite fine for the member to say that it is okay for the people in Klondike who may not support the position taken by the member, which is - it's a rephrase, but it's different than what was said prior, if my memory serves me correctly.
Having said that, I find there's no point of order, and I'll ask the Member for Whitehorse Centre to continue.
Mr. McLarnon: We'll get on to the next point. I was merely pointing out that this seems to be a motion of political opportunism, rather than actually any party philosophy or political philosophy. It's just making points for headlines.
But I'll continue, and I'll defend our position from this point on, rather than getting into the idea that I have a hard time wrapping my mind around, which is how a man -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McLarnon: That's right. It is how a political party with the right-wing sensibilities and the understanding that government may not be the best place to spend monies like this, would obviously bring something up promoting spending monies like this.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McLarnon: Yes, I understand. I'm not quite sure which party he's in.
Why this is important, though, is because there is one good part of this motion, and if this was the only part of this motion, I'd support it.
What the good part of this motion is, and I'll read it: "THAT this House urges the Yukon Liberal government to restore the community development fund with a proper level of funding while introducing a system of accountability to ensure Yukon taxpayers are receiving value for their money."
Well, we have done that and that's what the Member for Klondike predicted. We have stood up and said we are doing this. I would like to explain to you what the audit brought out; the steps that are being taken to ensure that the money is spent properly, that it has its effect and that it can't be tainted by the hands of politicians who need to buy a few votes here or a few votes there. That's what we call political interference.
Now, I'm going to turn my attention to comments made by the Member for Watson Lake. The Member for Watson Lake even admitted, does not deny, that there was political interference in the CDF, and doesn't see anything wrong with it. Well, I do, and the reason why I do is because my riding was affected. I can tell you that two CDF projects, in its $16 million history, benefited the residents of downtown Whitehorse. Two. Political interferences? Yes. It happened.
Now, I don't know what happened. The previous member of my riding either had no pull or he had the ethics of a saint by not imbibing in the greed, not imbibing in the slush funds, and not imbibing in the pork barrel - or he had no pull in Cabinet. I'm not quite sure. I'm not going to ask him. It's not my business.
What we have to do is ensure that never happens again. We have to ensure fairness for all, and that includes the residents of my riding, where the CDF is apparently a myth. It never helped them. It just went on in the pork barrel. It went somewhere else and didn't help my riding, so I take issue. It's political interference.
I take issue with the fact that my riding and other ridings were affected because somebody had a pet project, somebody needed to guarantee a vote in the next election. And that's what's wrong with political interference, because it's not fair to everybody; and that's why I'm standing against it, and that's why I'm pleased that we took these steps.
The audit functions will ensure that in future generations, hopefully well past my time in this House, this fund will still survive. Because why it came down and why it was reviewed is because it was a pork barrel. It was a slush fund.
Now, fortunately, it did help people, and that is the whole idea. It does have to help people. But what we look at, when it helps people, is that there are thousands of people in need, thousands of requests. There were thousands refused. And that's what we want to make sure of, that everybody knows the reason why they're refused, other than the fact that they didn't have the power to get that vote, that they didn't have enough people to draw from. That's why we audited it, and, as I said, it was never cancelled. It was never, ever cancelled. It was spent. Most of it was spent before we even got into the House. On election day, it was all gone. So how is that cancelled? There were benefits from the community development fund last year for volunteers, not properly, but it was out there. It was out in the communities. And we are going to fix it so that can't happen again.
Here's what was wrong with the community development fund, as described by our audit. The audit indicates that the scope of the community development fund made it difficult to assess projects based on merit and make sure that it contributed to the overall goals of projects. The audit concluded that it was subject to administrative and interpretative problems. The audit concluded that it was too easy to politically interfere with it. So these are things. The priorities were too broad. There was no after-the-fact evaluation for taxpayers of the value for money - none. We hear 2,003 jobs. Congratulations. You can throw money in a lot of things. But, you know, when you take a look at those jobs, it's a rather expensive way to do some job funding. It works out to almost $8,000 a week. So when we look at this, is this job creation, or is this something else?
The idea was to improve communities. It was also to create jobs. It was also to create green spaces and increase infrastructure. Essentially, it was there to do anything that you wanted it to do. Unfortunately, it never had any controls to ensure that proper processes were followed. That's what we did and that's why the audit came down. The results of the audit - and this is, unfortunately, where I get a little dry, because I am going to go right through to the reference notes, and explain the results of the audit and how the audit will fix the community development fund.
Our Project Yukon addresses audit concerns. Community development fund was designed as a flexible, responsible program to fill funding gaps between government programs. Essentially, almost any type was eligible. Projects were assessed based on merit according to a system of priorities of different funding levels. Compared to other applications, the most meritorious projects should have received the funding. Like I told you, a lack of clearly defined program objectives was identified, a lack of specific project criteria was identified and a lack of periodic performance assessment was identified.
There was some political interference in the decision-making process and a lack of stated roles and responsibilities. These are areas that we have decided to fix. What we have done is break down the Project Yukon into three areas that are more defined. They deal with our green spaces, community living and capacity building. These are strong areas that we can use.
Let's not forget that there is also a separate fund created for the arts. So, the funding totals, when you look at that, are not down to $1.5 million. They have gone up. When you add the $500,000 for the arts - the arts used to access the community development fund. Now a specific program is there to make sure that their funding criteria are met and to make sure that the arts will always have a place in the funding criteria of the Yukon territorial government.
We have taken steps to ensure that the principles of the fund will remain pure, and also through a one-window approach that we're approaching, there can be no stacking. Groups can apply for monies, as they need them, and make sure that the government can monitor them in an effective way. So, it's an extremely good way to do this.
Now, to conclude - and I have to conclude, because we want to ensure that we get the record of the NDP on this. We want to hear what they have to say, because I'm sure we're going to be reading in Hansard three years from now about the flip-flop that they'll make. So, we're going to give that to you. Words do come back to haunt. I have been told that, and I know that. They will come back to haunt them. So, I'm going to give them the opportunity to talk.
The mixed message that we received from the Yukon Party and the Member for Klondike will go out to the Yukon public and show that the Yukon Party does not have a firm stance any more on funding applications and programs. We will tell them. I'll tell you, when we went to the Paul Martin dinner last night, we saw their whole executive from three years past, sitting down for $100 tickets and buying Liberal memberships. So, we know where they are. So, we'll tell them. We'll tell them about the flip-flop. We'll show them the positions they're now taking.
I would like to thank the House for its indulgence on this subject. I want to ensure that we get the NDP statement on the record, so that we can use it against them in future years.
Mr. Keenan: It's always a pleasure, indeed, and the gentleman knows that I mean it. I don't think we have conflicting styles, so we'll just give him a bit of good old country advice here, I guess, eh, Mike?
Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak about the benefits of the community development fund, and I'm hoping that government will look at their new initiative, Project Yukon, to make it flexible so that it does work, because certainly, Mr. Speaker, it's not a political tool. It's more a community empowerment, is how it was looked at.
I know the insinuations across the floor directed to myself. They're absolutely directed to myself on occasion. Other people know that - it has been pointed out. Let me say that the rookies on the opposite side, as they go through and they look at the broader parameters and they look at the time frames - and they're compounding it with the budget process, which is a good thing, I think, by putting the capital budget first.
We're talking about benchmarks. We're talking about a time that's not much there in terms of identifying the needs, because the needs are not identified at one specific time of the year.
Now the Liberal caucus, of which you are a part, went on a tour, and you did this tour for a couple of weeks in January. People don't just, all of a sudden, say, "Oh God, it's just before Groundhog Day here, and I have to come up with some ideas." It doesn't happen that way, Mr. Speaker.
How many times have you in your former life - and probably in this life, with all the stress that you're going through at this point in time - woken up in the middle of the night with a humdinger of an idea and said, "Oh man, have I got an idea", and you wrote it down. That happens 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. What I'm talking about, now I have the people listening a little bit here, is called community empowerment. That's what it's called.
This government went through the Municipal Act, not to stymie - I hope that's the right word - communities but to give them the flexibility. It's empowering legislation. What's that got to do with the CDF, you might ask. Well, the CDF was exactly that. It was empowering. It wasn't restricted to two weeks before Groundhog Day when we had to get all this ideas out and in and then into the hopper and then ba-boom ba-boom boop, and there it is, in her magic budget and everybody loves it. She don't work that way.
All the people I represent, including the non-New Democrats - and of course 51 percent of my riding are Democrats in my riding, Mr. Speaker. I represent the other 49 percent. As the Cabinet minister who sat at a table at Management Board, I know that we thought of all of Yukon. Now, I'm not saying that the Management Board, of which there is a representative on the other side at this point in time, thinks only of his riding, because I know he doesn't. He's got a riding that's 10 blocks this way and 20 blocks that way. He's got a right to think of them - not first but in conjunction with all, because we think of society.
That's the way we thought, Mr. Speaker. And I'll challenge him. Go away and do their homework. Teslin - how much CDF did they get? Not a heck of a lot, because I went out and said, "My God, you guys. The ball diamonds - look at them." We have to do these different projects here, much like we have done for Faro in empowering the community and taking Faro through very difficult times, working closely with the mayor and council at the time, finding ways to empower the community. That's exactly what we did.
Faro got a lot of money, and the Member for Faro cannot deny that, because the Member for Faro was there with his hands out all the time, asking for this and asking for that.
And you know, Mr. Speaker, knowing that he never supported us and never marked an X in Trevor Harding's name, we said, "By God, there are probably 299 people other than him in that community who need a little help." And we went out to help him.
Again, Mr. Speaker, that's what it's all about - community empowerment, letting the communities identify not only the project, but also the parameters of the project. A lot of projects have their volunteers built in. They looked at empowering people by giving them a job at a point in time.
What did that job do for the rest of the system? Well, in a lot of cases, it brought down the social woes, because when people have a lunch bucket, they can get up in the morning and pack that lunch bucket to work, they feel better about themselves. They don't come home to conflicts. When they do come home, the wife's going to talk about Little Johnny - or in some cases, the husband's going to talk about little Jill because it's the wife who has gone out to work. That's what it did, and it created community satisfaction.
Now, to say that it was a political slush fund is absolutely wrong, because if you look at the riding of Klondike, the riding of Klondike received much from the community development fund. Was that to win the seat? In part. We're always interested in winning seats. So are the folks on the other side of the floor. So was this gentleman who sits to my left - the one from the right on my left. Sounds like a Johnny Cash song, but it's the truth - because we put the resources there. It was all for diversifying the economy.
That's what we did it for, to diversify the economy, because we knew devolution hasn't been happening, forestry's here, development assessment process is not happening. All these different things in the resource sector are not happening. But you know what? The artsy-dartsy community, people who have these different ways of making a living - we empowered them. And now I'm so happy to hear him say, "Oh, the Oddfellows Hall" and all these things, because I stuck my finger in every one of those things. I didn't do it through political interference; I did it through community wellness and community goodness.
I'd much rather have my 13- and 14-year-olds, who are now 26- and 28-year-olds, involved in that type of dynamic in the wintertime. Because Mr. Speaker, as you can well attest to, in Dawson City and the rest of the Klondike, the nights are five months long. So, people need to fill those nights - the darkness. And they fill them now with dance hall drama and piano lessons. They do it with all of those good things. Is that community interference? Is that a ministerial slush fund? I think not.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I heard a couple of times, with my very own ears, radio and hearing aid, the Premier sitting there. I am quite fond of her, and I know that the Premier is fond of me, too, because we have a body language that we're happy with. Now, I know the Member for Mount Lorne just about swallowed her tongue and her eyes fell out, but I think she does like me, Mr. Speaker. She does.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Speaker: Member for Mount Lorne, on a point of order.
Ms. Tucker: I would like to clarify for those people not here today that I'm coughing because I have a cold. Thank you very much.
Speaker: I don't agree with your point of order. It's a dispute between members. It amounts to setting the record straight.
Mr. Keenan: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, because you can't cough and smile at the same time. I will take exception to that also.
But Mr. Speaker, I do know she likes me, because we talk to one another. We have talked to one another three - there we go, rolling the eyeballs again. That's not due to Contac C, I hope. But certainly, we do have camaraderie. We do talk together, and we look at things. Again, I say that we're all here for the same thing.
That the community development fund is a slush is absolutely wrong, because when the Speaker and the Premier stands on her feet at the next budget - and I'm going to be sitting right here next spring - she's going to say that the standing on mains to mains, comparison of mains to mains - well, she's going to get caught, because it looks pretty good this year, Mr. Speaker, because you can compare this year's mains to last year's mains and, if you do it from a main to main, well, do you know what that means? It means that, sure, maybe there wasn't as much funding spent on this side here, but that's looking at it with blinders on, because maybe that's what government has - blinders on - because you have to look outside the box. I encourage people to look outside the box. I encourage people to use their head. I encourage people to show leadership and, if they can't show leadership, they ask, because they are the government.
I guess what I'm getting around to again, Mr. Speaker, is that those mains to mains are going to drop, or there's going to be one big mother of a supplementary here this sitting when they come to the realization - or in the fall sitting - because those people who do have access or are used to the empowerment of the community development fund are going to be coming back to that government over there, and they're going to be saying, "Do you have a vehicle?" And they're going to be going, "Hmm, oh boy, no, you know, I don't have a vehicle, by gosh, but the only vehicle I have is a supplementary budget."
So it's going to go up. Mark my words, Mr. Speaker, and I'll bet you a pint on it that I'm right, because I will be right, because that's exactly what it was about. It was about community empowerment and giving the communities the vehicles in order to do something.
I've been sitting here on this little document for quite a long time. It's the current list of community development fund approvals to September 27, 1999. I will talk to my caucus and see if I can table this, but certainly the government has access to this type of documentation. They can look and see in here the Mount Lorne garbage society. It's a pilot project to staff and operate the Mount Lorne dump.
Now, you can't ask the Member for Lake Laberge, in all of her wisdom as the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, to forecast those initiatives - you can't. It's impossible to do that, Mr. Speaker. That is one busy lady, Mr. Speaker. I have been in the department and I know the department, and she is very busy. So, you have to have these other vehicles.
I don't believe - nobody has convinced me - that Project Yukon is going to be able to do that. And what were we doing? We were trying something new. We were listening to the people. At the time, it was our riding. But I think that I have dispelled the myth - and it is a myth; it's not even a good legend or a good story, but a myth - that it was a political slush fund, by seeing what we have done here.
And for those who aren't here - it's the Member for Klondike that I am referring to and the people out in radio land that I am referring to, too, sir - again, I would like to talk about the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Society. Now, this government put in $50,000 a year and solidified the Rendezvous Society - we solidified the Yukon Quest with $50,000 a year. We announced that last year and the government re-announced it this year.
But over and above that, we went out and we enabled them to hire a full-time employee. And why did we do that? For diversification of the economy, so that we might put more people in a good mood, where they can feel good about themselves through good times and hard times. Those are the things we did it for. And did we only do it for that? No, Mr. Speaker. We did it for the tourism aspect, too.
I was sitting on an airplane - because in my role as a minister, I had to travel, but not quite as extensively as these folks across here. At least I never blew my budget in one trip, Mr. Speaker, for the year, as others have across the floor. I didn't do that. And when I came home, I came home with something. And I'll take challenges from that side of the floor any day on those initiatives.
Mr. Speaker, we did it for that. And on my return home, I just happened to be sitting next to two young ladies. I guess they're in their 30s, and to me - I guess I'm getting to your age, Mr. Speaker - that's young. But I was sitting next to these ladies and, well, you know me, Mr. Speaker. I'm deafer than a coot, but I like to speak and I like to talk. And I asked, "What are you folks doing?" "Well, we're going to the Rendezvous, and then we're going to stay an extra week, and we heard there's a mini-Rendezvous in Teslin. And then we heard that the week after that, there's a festival in Atlin." Well, Mr. Speaker, those are hybrids of the community development fund - hybrids of the community development fund, people coming because they see these things. Is that calculated into goodness anywhere? No, it's not, because I think it's so minuscule that you don't have to do it. Because that's the intent. And was the intent proven? Yes, the intent was proven many, many times over.
Government, in their wisdom, leading with their chin - but I have to say that at least they were leading with something. It's the first time they've shown leadership in a long time, even if it was just with the chin.
I have to re-examine this again, Mr. Speaker, because we're going to go back to heritage funding - one of the big platforms. "We're going to rebuild the heritage funding in the Tourism department." You look at mains to mains, Mr. Speaker, and it's not there. But you look at all the other things that are there, as a member of the Management Board, and you will see that heritage was there.
So, if you want to get into a friendly demeanour and get into a socialist attitude of talking, coming together - that consensus attitude - I'm willing to do it. But let's put the cards on the table because, as long as you don't want to put all the cards on the table, I think I can prove I can be as good as the rest of them when it comes to being a typical politician. It's not my spirit, but it's certainly the role I can play, too.
Mr. Speaker, there's that olive branch. And, as I said before, I've extended olive branches before, and all I have gotten back was about two inches of kindling. I'm just a little nervous about getting kindling because I don't need it any more.
So again, Mr. Speaker, what does the community development fund do? It does good stuff, really good stuff. How did it come about? How did the old community development fund come about? Did it just go boom, and there's the old Jell-O tree and we're going to pull off that little plum there because it's going to look good in here? There isn't no big idea tree; there isn't no Jell-O tree; there isn't no money tree. And there isn't an idea tree on the other side, either, not if that's the replacement - Project Yukon.
So, we need it, Mr. Speaker. But how it came about is that it came about, I believe, from the community projects initiative. Well, I guess I'd have to put the Clerk of the House on the spot, and I don't want to do that, but he's been around here longer than any of us doggone people here, but I'm sure it was under Mr. Penikett, and that has to be at least 16 years ago or more when those initiatives came to this House.
Where did that idea come from? It came from the New Democratic Party at the time, Mr. Speaker, and it came through consultation with the people, asking the people what is it that we can do, what is it that could be flexible enough that will reach into arts and culture, that will reach into creation of jobs, that will reach into helping people with their social problems, that will speak to the dynamics of promoting the Yukon - all these things.
Mr. Speaker, it didn't just come from Cabinet or the Management Board of the day. It came from the people. They asked for that, and they received it.
I have to agree - the Member for Klondike said, "Everything in the budget is political interference, if you want to look at it that way." Well, by golly, he's right. He's right. It's not too often I'll agree with the gentleman, but he's right, because it's not political interference - it's providing leadership. Well, some people are going to say it's leadership. This-away it's leadership, and that-away. And I don't want to go this-away. We should say those things, Mr. Speaker, and we should say what we're going to do and how we're going to do it.
I'm not a great fruit eater, Mr. Speaker, but I'm sure there has got to be six different types of apples. Each one of those little apples might have a little more fibre than this one, a little less fibre than this one, but it is an apple, and an apple's an apple. We should start comparing those things.
I guess if we're going to say that it's mains to mains, then we should just do that, but we should also say we're going to take out this because we consider this a political slush fund, and we're replacing it with this, and these are the parameters that it should be within. I don't see that happening here, Mr. Speaker. Not at all.
Mr. Speaker, I challenge the government, I guess, next door, to go out to the people at this point in time and talk to the people. Say, "Do you feel that this is going to work?" And they're going to say, "Well, no, because, you know, I don't have those 30-percent dollars." And if it's a - Oh, here I'm going to go with my math, and I'm going to show my weakness in math again. But sometimes 30 percent is very hard to bring up.
Speaker: Order please. The member has two minutes to conclude.
Mr. Keenan: And so, Mr. Speaker, I guess I'm going to conclude with this. I'm going to throw it right back at government because I remember one time, when I was reading the Yukon News - it was in the Yukon News in the summer at a baseball diamond. The Minister of Health was standing there saying, "Well, there was a rock there, and we had to move it. So, I took it upon myself to move it." Mr. Speaker, that's what he accuses me of. That's what government accuses me of. I think, "No, that's not necessarily true."
Mr. Speaker, the last thing I want to end up with is - if you'll give me one minute, I'd appreciate it - what are you going to do with a community? If the community comes up and says, "There's $200,000 to build a curling rink here," but it costs $233,000 to build that community rink, are we just going to move the hog line up a little bit and change the whole aspect of the game? Or, are we going to go out there and do it? Are we going to bring in a supplementary to finish that $33,000, or how are we going to do it? Those are the dynamics that they have to look at, or else they're going to be breaking their own law.
Thank you for the time, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: In 1992-93, the NDP had $4 million in the mains for the community development fund. In 1993-94, the Yukon Party reduced the mains to $3.4 million for the community development fund. In 1994-95, the Yukon Party further reduced the mains to $1.3 million for the community development fund. In 1995-96, the Yukon Party cancelled the community development fund. In 1996-97, the Yukon Party cancelled the community development fund. In 1997-98, the NDP put $2 million in the mains for the community development fund. So, the community development fund certainly has been up and down like a yo-yo.
For the Member for Klondike, I would just like to request clarification on a number of things, seeing as it is his motion that he has brought forward. I'm not quite sure if the Yukon Party is flip-flopping on a number of things.
On December 3, 1996, Mr. Ostashek indicated, "Most people know that the community development fund is not a fund that is near and dear to the hearts of the Yukon Party. We believe that anything that is going to be done under the community development fund can be done through a line item in the budget and debated on the floor of this Legislature. We see the community development fund as a way of circumventing the public debate and scrutinization of projects that are funded under this fund, because only the terms of reference of the fund and the amount of money going into the fund will be debated on the floor of this Legislature.
"After we eliminated the former community development fund, we did do projects."
Another quote from Mr. Ostashek on March 27, 1997, "And one of the things that this administration appears to be hanging their hat on is the ill-fated community development fund as a be-all and end-all to help them with the unemployment problem in the Yukon. Well Mr. Speaker, many Yukoners saw what happened under the last community development fund. I don't think that any of them are holding their breaths to wait to get help with that, get them off of social assistance or off of employment insurance.
"But I want to go just a little deeper into the community development fund, because I think it's a wrong move by this government. It's a wrong move. The community development fund, when we look at some of the projects it's funded in the past and some of the horror stories from the community development fund, I would think that the members opposite would be very cautious about reinstituting it." So, I am really quite confused where the Member for Klondike is coming from with his request to reinstate the fund now, or to make it work.
Some of the recommendations in his motion, Mr. Speaker, are already addressed. He had indicated that the administration of this fund should be more clearly administered, and we have instilled that, so there will be no political interference. The audit found major problems with the fund, Mr. Speaker, and there were clear objectives set by this government in the administration of that fund.
But, Mr. Speaker, I'm a little unclear, again, as to the recommendation by the Member for Klondike, suggesting that we increase the funds within the - and he wants it to be called the community development fund again.
Again, there is a flip-flop in attitude. He criticized the official opposition party when they were government time and time again. So, I am not quite sure what the stand of the Yukon Party is with respect to the community development fund.
Bringing up a question of additional funds for this - I would ask the member opposite. First of all, he criticizes us for spending too much money and then for not spending enough money. I really think that the member opposite should determine exactly what he really wants.
The member opposite also suggests that we shouldn't have increased our net capital budget by seven percent. Should we cut the money from that, Mr. Speaker - money that does put Yukoners to work? Or another suggestion - a response would be very, very appropriate: does he believe that we shouldn't have increased the funding to the women's shelter, or to foster parents? Is that what he is saying?
Mr. Speaker, quite clearly the money to build up the fund, as suggested in the motion by the member opposite, has to come from somewhere. Perhaps the member opposite is saying that we shouldn't have given all the Yukoners a break on their taxes, or we shouldn't have increased the mineral exploration tax. That will assist in rebuilding the Yukon's economy. Or maybe the member opposite doesn't believe that it's important for us to spend over $3.4 million to support mining in the territory or to increase the health care budget.
I'm not at all sure or clear where the Yukon Party is coming from with respect to the community development fund, Mr. Speaker.
We have conducted ourselves incredibly responsibly in recognizing, through our community visits, that there is a need for this fund, most definitely.
We also wanted to create a fair and level playing field and that is exactly what this government has done in a very responsible, open and accountable manner, so that we will be able to provide, at any time, answers to anybody that the fund will be administered fairly and equitably across the territory.
Mr. Speaker, we are calling the fund "Project Yukon" because that is where we are getting our ideas and suggestions and recommendations - from everyone in Yukon, and we are listening, and we are applying the advice that we hear.
So, Mr. Speaker, it probably is with regret that we will not be able to support this motion.
I do also believe, Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to the official opposition, that they aren't getting the idea - the message - from this side of the House. People want their CDF applications treated fairly. That's all they're looking for - fair and equitable treatment without government interference. And that is exactly how the fund has been structured; that is exactly how the fund will be administered by this government.
That's where we are going. We do believe that we have listened to the suggestions from the members opposite. They have indicated that we should maintain the fund, and we have maintained the fund. But we have also structured the fund so there will be no political interference. We have structured the fund so that all applications will be looked at fairly and equitably, regardless of source. We cannot, unfortunately, build up the fund, as suggested in the flip-flop comments, ideas and suggestions that dribble across the House from the Member for Klondike, Mr. Speaker.
So, I'm not quite sure what the criticism is with respect to the fund. We have the fund. It will be administered fairly, equitably. There will be no government interference, and it would be nice to have more money in there, Mr. Speaker, but we just don't have it. We listened to the public across the Yukon and there are other programs and initiatives, direct from communities. We addressed that in the current proposed budget.
The member opposite just doesn't support the increase for educational assistants in our schools. The members opposite just don't support more staff for the family violence prevention unit, Mr. Speaker. The members opposite just don't increase staffing for community nursing, they don't want that either. Or, for the mineral development program, or for the healthy family programs. They don't want us to act responsibly. At every opportunity they take, they knock back programs and new initiatives that are being sponsored by this side of the House, Mr. Speaker.
I do empathize with the member - they are losing it, more and more every day. They don't have touch with reality, but we do, because we listen to Yukoners day in and day out, in the communities and in Whitehorse, and we will continue to do that, Mr. Speaker.
I can guarantee the members opposite that we will get better - infinitely better than where we are now. The Member for Klondike calls us a novice government, and we are. We'll readily admit that, but we are getting better, day in and day out, because we are working with a competent and respected public service. And we will get the teachers into the schools to look after our children. So, we are acting responsibly, and we take the job very seriously, despite what the members opposite would like to project day in and day out in this House. We will get better. And if I were them, I'd be a little bit frightened, too.
So, yes, I do empathize with them losing touch with reality and losing touch with the whole of the Yukon. We are going to continue to do things better, because this government does what it says it will do, and we will continue in that vein.
Speaker: Order please. The time being 6:00 p.m., this House now stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. tomorrow.
Debate on Motion No. 77 accordingly adjourned
The House adjourned at 6:00 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled March 7, 2001:
Government Contracting Summary Report by Department (April 1, 2000 - September 30, 2000)
The following Document was tabled March 7, 2001:
Federal Tax Credit for Flow-Through Share Investors: letter (dated Dec. 15, 2000) from federal Minister of Finance, the Hon. Paul Martin, to the Hon. Pat Duncan, Premier (Kent)