Wednesday, October 24, 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.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Speaker: I would ask the members to join me in welcoming Rudy Couture, who is seated behind the Speaker's gallery. Mr. Couture is going to be our new Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms. He is a long-time resident of the Yukon as he has lived here for 47 years. He has lived in Watson Lake, Faro and Whitehorse, and I know that he is well-known by many members. Again, on behalf of the members of this Assembly, I welcome Mr. Couture to our service.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I would like to introduce three visitors in the gallery: Glen Everitt, the Mayor of Dawson City; Scott Coulson, the chief administrative officer; and Dale Courtice, the treasurer.
Speaker: Are there any further introductions of visitors?
Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Petition No. 3 - response
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I wish to thank the people of Carcross and surrounding area for the petition they delivered last May through their MLA. The people requested the support of this government in the construction of a new community and curling complex in Carcross.
Mr. Speaker, it's good to see such an interest in improving the quality of life and well-being of their community.
As you know, an active lifestyle promotes health and wellness and plays an important role in preventing illness and injury. Our government has committed $60,000 in the 2002-03 budget toward conceptual planning for the Carcross community and curling complex. I trust we will have the support of the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes on this item during budget debate.
Speaker: Are there any further petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. McLarnon: Mr. Speaker, I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that:
(1) the Yukon Liberal Party made a commitment to Yukoners that, if elected, a Liberal government would replace the Grey Mountain Primary School;
(2) the leader of the official opposition has brought forward a motion encouraging the Yukon Liberal government to replace the Grey Mountain Primary School;
(3) while all three political parties in the Yukon have made the commitment to replace the Grey Mountain Primary School, the Yukon Liberal government is the only government to have followed through on this commitment; and
THAT this House commends the Yukon Liberal government for having the courage to do what they said they would do by allocating appropriate resources in the 2002-03 capital budget this fall to begin the necessary planning and design work for this school replacement project.
Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?
Are there any statements by ministers?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Government renewal process
Mr. Fairclough: My question is to the Premier, Mr. Speaker. Does the Premier consider the turnout at last night's open house an indication of a strong demand by Yukon people for government restructuring?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I do. The member opposite is aware that the renewal initiative is in response to two key elements of the business of doing government: one is preparing ourselves for devolution, and the other is improving service to Yukoners.
The member opposite has not, in his preamble to his question, acknowledged the fact that we have heard quite detailed responses from over 700 Government of Yukon employees. We value their opinions, and we strongly encourage that type of consultation. We've also heard from the public whom we serve.
Mr. Fairclough: I would think that many of the employees were there to voice themselves on keeping their jobs and to show that they are serious and do not want to lose their jobs.
Mr. Speaker, just for information for the member opposite, the amount of people there, compared to the population of Whitehorse - it was something like .028 percent of the Whitehorse population that showed up for this meeting. According to this morning's radio news, the Premier believes people who aren't paying attention to the restructuring process might have problems figuring out where to go to renew things, like licences. Why would the Premier chastise people for not attending the meetings and then threaten to punish them by hiding the licence bureau on them? Is this what she means by improving services to the public?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, pardon me; that was a very humorous error on the part of the member opposite. The member opposite is quite wrong in his assumption.
This government is not hiding anything from anyone. "Punishment" is too strong a word, Mr. Speaker. It's not a word that we, for any reason, would even use.
The fact is renewal is about achieving devolution; it's about preparing for devolution. The fact is that the particular reporter in question also pointed out to me that she, having recently located to Whitehorse, had found dealing with government extremely difficult. She had no idea where to go to do things like get a driver's licence, to apply for a health care card - that sort of information. And the fact is that frontline people in the Yukon government are providing excellent service; they want to provide better service to Yukoners. That is what renewal is all about; it's about service to Yukoners.
I would strongly encourage the member opposite to perhaps actually visit some of the renewal documents or the Web site to find out some of this information.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, Mr. Speaker, I believe that the Premier should be careful in her words. On the radio, for example, when she did say that in the future people should take notice when they have problems. So what she's saying really is that there will be problems in the future with this restructuring, and she's talking about licences. If this whole exercise is about making it easier to get licences, building permits and so on, this is a pretty extravagant exercise, I would think.
And before the Premier again tells me that I am wrong, perhaps she will educate me by answering the question that I asked yesterday: how much has been spent to date on this so-called renewal process, and what will the final bill look like?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, I noted in reviewing the Blues yesterday that I was so excited about responding to the member on renewal and so excited about the member asking me a question about this and correcting the member when he was wrong that I neglected to mention that, on page S-2, I believe, of the supplementary budget, there's a line item there, "renewal initiative". It's budgeted in the supplementary at $895,000. The member would be well-advised, before he criticizes that figure, to examine the cost of such other initiatives in government that had far less impact on the public, like the Cabinet commissions and their costs and other such government initiatives that have had less benefit to the public.
The fact is, Mr. Speaker, that renewal is about achieving not only the preparation of this government for devolution and improving service to Yukoners, it's also about maintaining a skilled workforce, because we, as a government, value and respect our employees. We consult with them; we listen to them; we work with them in providing good service to Yukoners. It's also about making government simpler and more effective.
I had one of the member's own constituents ask me this summer, when I was visiting in Carmacks, "Oh, does this mean we'll be able to get this permit or this service from the government here in Carmacks?" To which I responded, "Yes."
And we look forward, Mr. Speaker, to serving all the constituents in the territory even better post-renewal.
Question re: School busing contract
Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education has said that the Liberal caucus members were instructed to go out and spread the word that government was looking for efficiencies and lower costs, not from inside, but from outside. Now, before the Premier accuses me of being wrong, I would like the Premier to clear up a matter for the Assembly. Who issued those instructions, and was the Member for Whitehorse West present at a caucus meeting when those instructions were given to the government members?
I would like the Premier to clear up the matter for the Assembly. Who issued those instructions, and was the Member for Whitehorse West present in a caucus meeting when those instructions were given to the government members?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Speaker, as I've repeated time and time again to this question, the whole of caucus was looking for efficiencies. We want to be able to provide the best that we can to the public so all of caucus agreed that this would be a very worthwhile exercise to do. Mr. Speaker, I believe that we've done that quite competently, confidently, and we'll continue to do that because we're very good at listening to what Yukoners have to say.
Mr. Fentie: Well, the Minister of Education did not answer who issued those instructions, and it's important, Mr. Speaker. It's very important for the proceedings of this Assembly and how government must be managed.
We have a problem here, Mr. Speaker. The Member for Whitehorse West was acting on political direction when he met with employees of Diversified Transport - not just once and not just at Timmy's, as the Minister of Education has pointed out. At least according to a senior official, this meeting took place when this official was present. Apparently at least one of these meetings took place in February, Mr. Speaker, the same month the Legislative Assembly started the spring sitting.
Now, my question is to the Premier who is in charge. How does the Premier reconcile the member being given political direction on this matter when his role as Speaker requires him to be seen as a non-partisan officer of the Assembly?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Speaker, as I have said many, many times and will say again, the Member for Whitehorse West was just doing his job, as he was elected to do. We, as a caucus, had collectively decided that this would be a good exercise to conduct in the early part of this year. He was out in the community, looking for efficiencies and listening to ideas from friends and constituents. The Member for Whitehorse West used to have coffee with his former colleagues quite often - long before the opposition tried to make this an issue - but he did not attend any meetings or meet with any of these people after the tender was called. The member did not speak to me, as Minister of Education; he did not speak to the Minister of Government Services. He was simply out there in the community doing his job, listening to people, Mr. Speaker. In fact, the tender was called in March, while we were sitting in the House, and during that time the Member for Whitehorse West does not normally attend caucus meetings, and he is not a member of Cabinet or Management Board.
Mr. Fentie: Well, Mr. Speaker, it's not this side of the House that's making an issue of this. It's the members opposite -
Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible)
Mr. Fentie: I believe I have the floor, and it's courtesy that the members listen because they certainly seem to have a lack of ability to listen. It's the members opposite, through their evasive answers, who have created this situation. What are they trying to hide? Furthermore, there is a level of conduct that must be adhered to by the Speaker of this Assembly.
Now, not only did this Member for Whitehorse West attend the meeting by instruction from the government side, the same member attended at least one budget consultation meeting outside his riding on behalf of the government. He was also present at one of the Premier's news conferences to provide partisan support.
My question is to the Premier, if she cares to answer: what steps will the Premier take to ensure that there is no further confusion between a member's role as an MLA for a specific riding and his role as Speaker of this Assembly? Will the Premier answer that question?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: The member is wrong. I know they don't like to hear that, but he is wrong, wrong, wrong. In fact, as I had mentioned in my previous answer, the Member for Whitehorse West did had coffee and shared time with his colleagues. Mr. Speaker, the member was also a bus driver working with those people for two and a half years before he decided to run in his riding - successfully, I might add, of course.
What the member opposite was alluding to was that he got instruction. I did answer the question when I said that, prior to the House sitting, we all sat in caucus and we all came up with strategies on how we communicate, how we listen to Yukoners. We were all charged with enthusiasm and collective agreement that we all would go out and talk to as many people as possible.
When we did go into the House - the Member for Whitehorse West does not normally attend caucus meetings so he didn't get any further direction, as the member so wrongly suggested. He is not a member of Cabinet or Management Board so he is not privy to those discussions either. So I have answered the question.
Question re: Government renewal process
Mr. Jenkins: I have a question today for the Premier.
Now, the Yukon economy has been thrashed: mining has been replaced by park creation; forestry has been shut down; there is no money in the budget for winter works; and the Premier's sole hope for economic recovery - the Alaska Highway natural gas pipeline - could be decades away. Faced with this dire economic situation, the Premier and her Liberal colleagues have taken action, not to renew the economy but to instead restructure the government.
All of the top deputy ministers and senior levels of management in government have been devoted to this exercise. Land claims, devolution and the pipeline are all playing second fiddle to this one major Liberal government initiative. The general public and many government employees are wondering why.
With so much concern in the private sector about people losing their jobs, can the Premier advise the House why she has chosen this time to make Yukon government employees concerned about a layoff? How is creating fear in government going to help improve the Yukon's shattered economy?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to the member opposite, the only individual creating fear about this particular initiative is the member opposite, and the member is wrong, completely wrong. He has joined his new-found friends on the left, and he is completely wrong in his suggestion that we, as a government, are not focusing all our energies on a number of issues.
We, on this side, are completely capable of delivering for Yukoners solid, constructive, good management and good government. Part of that good government means taking a look at how we deliver services to the public and preparing for devolution, which is what renewal is all about. Renewal is about making government better, simpler and more effective, about maintaining a skilled workforce and about opportunity.
Many public servants, including some who attended last night's open house, have pointed out that renewal presents for them an opportunity that has been missing for a long time from this government.
Mr. Jenkins: That's what it's all about: renewal and confidence in government, Mr. Speaker.
Will the Premier assure government workers that there will be no loss of jobs as a consequence of government renewal? Will the Premier give that guarantee?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: No, Mr. Speaker, I will not, and I said that at the very initial outset in announcing renewal.
We are examining government for the first time in - some say it's as many as 20 years since this government has been examined. We are looking at it. We are working with our employees. Employees believe that opportunity should exist within this workforce. We are working with that. We are working with them to create and renew the Yukon government, and that, Mr. Speaker, is a good thing and, as we mentioned yesterday in the motion, we would invite the members opposite to drop their partisanship and examine this for the strong, much-needed initiative that it is.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, from the public standpoint, Mr. Speaker, all we hear is that if we are not paying attention we will not know where to go to get a licence. That sounds great. Now, let me tell the Premier - in case she has failed to memorize what rural Yukon looks like - that in rural Yukon we have it pretty good in some respects. If you want a licence plate, a driver's licence, a health care coverage card, a marriage licence or a bottle of whiskey, you go to the same store and it's all there. Why is the Premier wasting all this time, effort and money on a project that is hurting the economy? It is instilling a lot of confusion in the public sector. They are concerned about their jobs in the public sector. There is no guarantee that those jobs will be there. We don't even know if government is going to be there in its present form. Why is the government wasting all this time, effort and money on a project that is hurting the economy and is not of public interest or concern?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Speaker, a selling feature of the presence in this Legislature, I suppose, is that everybody is entitled to their opinion. Unfortunately, in this case I must vehemently disagree with the member opposite.
This renewal initiative will create the opportunity for employees to reach their potential. It will also lead to a more satisfying career for many in the public service. This renewal is a long-overdue initiative. I would argue with the member opposite, with all due respect, that the fact is that not every community has the services available. If the member opposite would perhaps do something more than write letters criticizing the minister of highways and travel to other parts of the Yukon, he would recognize that not every community has the services available that the member opposite suggests, and that there are individuals who want those services available somewhere other than through the Liquor Corporation.
That is also a comment that has been heard. We have heard over 700 in-depth comments from Yukon government employees. We believe in listening to them. We believe in working with them and we believe in delivering, for Yukoners, a renewed government with next year's budget.
Question re: Alaska Highway reconstruction at Marsh Lake
Mr. McRobb: Yesterday, the highways minister admitted that paving the section of the Alaska Highway between Army Beach and M'Clintock was the ultimate goal. If that's true, Mr. Speaker, why did this minister blow three-quarters of a million dollars on BST? What was this? Some kind of a training exercise gone bad?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite clearly wasn't listening yesterday. As I explained, this is a section of road that has had problems. The pavement that had been there for many years and that previous governments hadn't seen fit to repair was causing problems. It's a section of road that has been reshaped and resurfaced, and we want to give the BST a chance to settle with the new road surface to make sure that it doesn't shift. Once it has properly settled, then we can deal with it.
The member is creating a mountain out of a molehill. And yes, there have been complaints. The driving surface is different. The potholes that were there have been filled.
Mr. McRobb: Well, Mr. Speaker, the only thing that's shifting is the minister's response to the questions. Now, I hope she can answer this one. Yesterday, she said the department is waiting to see if this particular road will hold its shape. Now, I hope the minister doesn't get bent out of shape herself, but can she tell us what she means by that?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite clearly wasn't listening to my first answer because I just told him.
Mr. McRobb: Well, there's no need to get snitty about this, Mr. Speaker. The minister knows that the road will fail to hold its shape because of problems with the subsurface construction of the road. In this case, the condition of the road surface is only a symptom of the bigger problem beneath the surface.
Now, we know the minister has spent three-quarters of a million dollars of taxpayers' money to address the symptom, not the cause. So, can the minister tell us why she didn't address the real problem by hiring a roadbuilder to fix the road, instead of wasting three-quarters of a million taxpayer dollars on a poor-quality patch job?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Now the member opposite is insulting a local contractor. I won't stand for that, Mr. Speaker. This is totally improper.
The three-quarters of a million dollars, which the member alleges was spent improperly, is a lot better than spending a million and a half on a road that isn't going to hold its shape, as there are many, many, many millions of dollars' worth of work done in the member's own riding every year on the Shakwak project. He's quite familiar with permafrost and other things that will cause a road surface to lose its shape. He knows that quite often the surface you put on it initially isn't going to hold its shape, and you wait until it has settled.
Question re: CT scanner
Mr. Keenan: Today I have a question for the Minister of Health.
Now, the minister has frequently accused the New Democrats of not doing our homework and baffling the issue of the purchase of a CT scanner. Just last week on the radio, the hospital administrator outlined the events that led to the request for a CT scanner and contradicted the minister. So will the minister now have the courage to stand on his feet and admit that he was wrong?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Mr. Speaker, I don't admit that I was wrong about anything at this point. I'm not sure what the member is even talking about.
Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Speaker, I think the people of the Yukon watching TV and listening to the radio are starting to become aware of what the problem really is here. And the problem, I do believe, is the minister.
Now, the minister has said that he wants the Hospital Corporation to share the purchase price of the CT scanner. He said that he did his homework and that he was looking at a new, updated CT scanner. Well, let me say that it was a state-of-the-art CT scanner when the administrator requested it from the government. This minister has been dragging his feet so much that that particular model could now be put into a museum piece. Will the minister now provide the full amount to the Hospital Corporation for the purchase of a brand new CT scanner?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Thank you again, Mr. Speaker, for giving me this opportunity to clear up some facts.
We are providing the hospital with a mutually agreed upon method of funding the purchase of a CT scanner. Fundraising is a component agreed to by the Hospital Corporation. Fundraising can give the community and the Hospital Corporation ownership of the CT scanner, just as things have been purchased in the past, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Speaker, I want to put that myth to bed a little bit here - "mutually agreed upon". Of course it was mutually agreed upon, but Big Brother is standing there with his wallet half out or half in and you don't know what it is, saying, "If you don't do it my way, it's not going to happen." I call that darn right bullying. That's exactly what it is.
Speaker: Order please. I remind the member that in Beauchesne's, it refers to the word "bullying" as being unparliamentary.
Withdrawal of remark
Mr. Keenan: I'll retract that word, Mr. Speaker, and I'll just say "exercising their muscle", if I might put it in that manner, and it's certainly not this muscle.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I'd like to talk about the mammography machine that the member across says that we, the NDP, forced the hospital into sharing. That was the second mammography machine for the hospital - not the first but the second, so the minister is obviously wrong again.
The administrator went on the radio and further outlined what is happening at the hospital as technology continues to change. It looks like the ultrasound machine needs updating. The X-ray machine -
Speaker: Order please. I ask the member to get to the question.
Mr. Keenan: I'll ask this question right now. Will this minister please outline his plan for replacing the other equipment in the radiology department that is rapidly becoming obsolete? Does the minister have a plan at all?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is always referring to quotes. He refers to quotes out of context and, in fact, the member opposite is wrong in his assumptions about the quotes. This happens all the time, with no verification or backing up of what the quotes are.
Mr. Speaker, the hospital board is an arm's-distance board. It works at arm's distance from the government. The corporation makes its own decisions on what they want, how they want it, and how they're going to pay for it. We, as government, supply them with the funds that help operate a hospital. They have to make priority decisions and we, as a government, don't interfere in those decisions.
So, for the member opposite to say that we're going to now manage the hospital from my office - we have never done that, Mr. Speaker, and we don't plan on doing it in the near future.
Question re: Education Act review
Mrs. Peter: My question today is for the Minister of Education. Yesterday, in response to my question, the minister replied, "So the member opposite is quite wrong, Mr. Speaker. I am respecting the process, and the process is that they will supply final recommendations on November 15, and caucus and Cabinet will review them seriously." But the minister has already rejected one recommendation and implemented another. How can the minister say that he is respecting this process?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I am respecting this process because it is a group of individuals called the Education Act Review Steering Committee that has put in almost two and a half years of long, hard work, doing very extensive consultations all over the territory with groups and individuals. It has had presentations and representations made to them. I did not want for the Education Act Review Steering Committee to be moving in the direction that this government agreed was not appropriate, i.e. the board/governance model. We felt that it was responsible to advise the committee that this was not an option that we would consider, giving them as much lead time as possible to consider other scenarios that they would make in their final recommendation report to caucus and Cabinet.
Mrs. Peter: The Yukon people are asking for a fair process. The minister has stated that he has consulted with all partners involved. Yet I have received information from some people involved in this consultation process, and they say that the introduction of the act was like a slap in the face. I have also had concerns expressed to me about the definition of "consultation" as is found in the umbrella final agreement. Again, I ask this minister, how is he going to rebuild confidence in this process after all of the political interference?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Speaker, quite frankly, I think it is very disrespectful for the opposition to be criticizing the members of the Education Act Review Steering Committee and the efforts and work that they have proceeded through over the last two and a half years. Two and a half years' worth of consultation is very extensive. As I have indicated to the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin, that committee has met with each and every Yukon First Nation individually, and not through public meetings, but specifically, working with First Nations in our territory. They have also met with elders, First Nation educators and language instructors. First Nations have had the opportunity to present their concerns either verbally or in writing in every Yukon community. For two and a half years, these folks have collected and worked as a group, going to these communities, listening to groups of peoples. They received over 7,000 individual comments or concerns or issues during their collaborative consultation process, so I think that what we have also heard from the public is that there has to come a time when there is an end to things. We as a government are moving forward to amend the Education Act.
Mrs. Peter: Mr. Speaker, we would like to move forward in a fair manner, listening to all Yukon people. Maybe the minister should reconsider the introduction of Bill No. 47. He admitted yesterday that he may have to amend it following the final recommendations, due to the November 15 deadline. The introduction of legislation that will need to be amended in the next sitting seems a waste of time. Will the minister show that he has heard the concerns and give the steering committee a three-month extension to allow them to consult on their new set of recommendations, including recommendation 140?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: The Member for Vuntut Gwitchin managed to get a number of questions into the last supplementary, but I will gamble, just in case tomorrow in Question Period I am reprimanded again for lecturing, but I feel that the question does deserve an answer.
Mr. Speaker, the government did introduce the Education Staff Relations Act prior to the new Education Act for the following reasons: it is necessary to separate the issues of education and labour. Some sections of parts 9 and 10 are actually a duplication of procedures, which creates unnecessary delays, Mr. Speaker, especially in the grievance process. The rights of the entire bargaining unit are not recognized. The employer and Yukon Teachers Association reached agreement on the inclusion of first-year, temporary teachers under the collective agreement. So that was one of the major actions that we took respecting the negotiations that we do have with the Yukon Teachers Association.
Moving forward on the recommendations coming forward, Mr. Speaker, I have indicated to the House that this government and the public at large feel that two and a half years of intense consultation is adequate, and it's time to move on.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed.
We'll proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
OPPOSITION PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS
Motion No. 141
Mr. Clerk: Motion No. 141, standing in the name of Mr. Fentie.
Speaker: It is moved by the Member for Watson Lake:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that:
(1) the business of the Legislative Assembly anticipated for the current sitting can be properly conducted within 25 days, even though consideration of a capital budget has been added to the traditional legislative agenda;
(2) it is essential that both the budgetary and legislative matters to be brought forward be given full and appropriate scrutiny by this House on behalf of the people of the Yukon;
(3) the official opposition is prepared to conclude its analysis of these matters within the 25-day period as laid out in Addendum 2 to the Standing Orders of the Yukon Legislative Assembly; and
THAT this House urges the Yukon Liberal government to conduct itself in an open, cooperative and forthcoming manner in responding to questions from opposition members, so that it will be possible to conclude the business at hand in a timely and effective manner, consistent with the spirit and letter of Addendum 2.
Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, we in the official opposition contend that this is a very timely motion for this Assembly to debate.
It has long been known - sitting after sitting - that the time of the sittings, in terms of length and number of days and the wrap-up of sittings, has always been a difficult situation to manage. It's very important and imperative that the Assembly is able to conduct expeditious and constructive debate in doing the public's business in this House. The very first priority in that regard is for the government side to set a clear agenda so that the opposition side can prepare itself to carry out that expeditious and constructive debate in holding the government side accountable on behalf of the public, as it is our job to do, as we were elected to do.
Now, the official opposition brings forward this motion regarding the length of this sitting, given the fact that we, well in advance, knew that there were going to be changes to this fall sitting. The members opposite had made a decision that they would be bringing forward a capital budget to the fall sitting, which normally, as we all know, was designated as a legislative sitting. So, the government side has decided that in addition to the fall sitting's legislative agenda, we would have to deal with a capital budget.
Now, given the fact that the official opposition, and indeed the third party, were at least informed well in advance that this would be happening, they had a great deal of time over the last number of weeks and months to prepare themselves on how the debate could be carried out in this Assembly, dealing both with this new capital budget and the legislative agenda.
But it is important and critical that the government side carry out their duties and responsibilities in this House. In the first instance, the government side must, in a timely manner, present all the legislative bills to the opposition in the fall sitting. That is vital so that the opposition benches, in representing the public in holding the government accountable, has a reasonable amount of time to prepare itself for each bill that the government has brought forward.
It is our duty to critique and scrutinize the legislation on behalf of the Yukon public so that their government is held accountable in this House and so that we make best efforts to ensure that what we pass in this Legislative Assembly has a positive impact on the lives of Yukoners and, indeed, improves the lives of Yukoners. It is truly unfortunate that the government side has fallen down in that area.
In the first instance, Mr. Speaker, before this Assembly even convened for this fall sitting, we have a press release launched by the government side accusing the opposition of filibustering the budget. Now, that in no way relates to expeditious and constructive debate from the government benches. How could the government side make that accusation in the public forum when the opposition had not even been presented the budget, had not seen the budget?
This particular accusation, Mr. Speaker, is contrary to how we must proceed in this Assembly in conducting the public's business.
Now, I have thought a great deal over the last number of days about why the government side - and, indeed, the new government House leader - would bring forward such a basically ridiculous accusation, knowing full well that the opposition benches could have supported the budget once they had the opportunity to critique it and make an informed decision on what the opposition believed we should be doing on behalf of the Yukon public in that regard.
So, a lot of what lends itself to expeditious and constructive debate means that there should be a level of integrity in this Assembly between the government benches and the opposition benches. A completely fabricated press release of someone's imagination on what may or may not take place simply does not lend itself to any high level of integrity on the government's side. What it really does, Mr. Speaker, is force the opposition into a situation where we must make a stand and we must call the government on the accusation. And this is before we even entered and convened this Assembly for this fall sitting.
It's a sign, Mr. Speaker, that the government side has already prepared itself to accuse the opposition of not conducting themselves in an expeditious manner, of not conducting themselves in a constructive manner, when we deal with the public's business in this Assembly. Nothing could be further from the facts.
Let me point out some recent history. Since the members opposite took office back in the spring of 2000, it has been the official opposition in concurrence with the leader of the third party that has assisted the government side on many occasions in implementing and developing the agenda for this Assembly in dealing with the public business and conducting that business. Furthermore, it has been the opposition side, led by the official opposition, that has brokered each and every wrap-up of this sitting. And we have not, other than the last sitting that I will speak to shortly, extended beyond any worrisome amount of time the days allotted under the existing agreement in the addendum attached to our Standing Orders.
When we deal with the last sitting, the government side must bear responsibility for the need to extend that sitting because, without a reasonable timeline given to the opposition regarding a great deal of substantive legislation being brought forward in a budget sitting, the government side has to be accountable for the extension of the previous sitting. And again, that extension and that wrap-up was brokered by the official opposition.
Now, the government side has maintained that under the existing rules - and this is their interpretation - we can bring forward legislation of a housekeeping nature. But the opposition side proved beyond any reasonable doubt, by any sensible person, listener or what have you, that five pieces of that legislation were simply not housekeeping but were of a very substantive nature based on the fact that those amendments to the legislation in this territory would have a definite impact on the lives of Yukoners.
And there were a great many questions on whether that impact was indeed going to improve the lives of Yukoners in any way, shape or form. So the argument is, Mr. Speaker, that it is the government side's responsibility to ensure that they set the agenda in this Assembly so that we, the opposition, may manage our time in accordance with the existing Standing Orders and the addenda attached to those orders.
Here lies the problem: the government side has, in each and every sitting of this Assembly, not adhered to that very important fact. It has been the government side that has neglected to set, in a proper manner, the agenda, bring forward the public's business to this Assembly so that the official opposition and the third party can indeed conduct themselves in an expeditious and constructive manner as we deal with the business of the Yukon public.
Mr. Speaker, this motion is something that I believe the opposite benches, if they have gone through it with any thought of doing their job in the manner that they have been elected to do - and they make the claim that they're open, accountable, so on and so forth, which is all well and good - the House leaders would have informed us already that they agree; they will stick to the 25 days for this fall sitting as the addendum to the Standing Orders commits this Assembly. They would have also qualified that commitment by stating unequivocally that they would conduct themselves in an open, accountable, and forthright manner so that the opposition benches could conduct their business in accordance to best efforts in representing the public in this House.
That didn't happen, Mr. Speaker. And, as I pointed out, the very first message from the government side is the accusation that the opposition is going to filibuster the budget - very strange, Mr. Speaker, very strange indeed.
Now I can add to this. Let's just look now at the first three days that this Assembly has been convened. We had House leaders' meetings, the government side brought forward agendas and lineups, informed the opposition of briefings - without any consultation, I might add, without any opportunity for the opposition side to reschedule, to look at schedules that our members may have in dealing with the public - because we are quite busy in the opposition benches dealing with all of the complaints, concerns and problems that the Yukon public is bringing forward because of the conduct and the mismanagement of the government side.
This is a critical issue. I can only come up with one conclusion. I believe that the facts will bear this out. I think that the government side, the government members, do not want to be in this Assembly. This Liberal government does not like coming out of the shadows. This Liberal government simply does not like to be held accountable. This Liberal government, especially their leader, cannot stand criticism.
Like it or not, Mr. Speaker, the government side has to realize that constructive debate in this Assembly does include criticism.
How is it that the opposition can hold their government accountable if we cannot criticize and, in a constructive manner, have the government side answer that criticism?
We are not inventing the criticism; we are bringing forward the public's criticism and concerns. The opposition side is the conduit to the public in holding their government accountable. These are all very disturbing signs from a government that makes the claim, "We are open and accountable." Simply put, Mr. Speaker, by not wanting to be in this Assembly, and by trying every trick in the book to get out of this Assembly - that is contrary to that claim. It's a contradiction to being open and accountable because this is their duty. They are bound by their promise and oath to the public that they will conduct themselves in this House in an open and accountable manner. And to date, in 18 months, this Liberal government has failed miserably in that regard.
If we in the opposition were to sit idly by and not call the government side on this matter, we would not be doing our job. It is our job to hold the government accountable, not only for what they say, but for what they commit to do and how they conduct themselves in dealing with the public's business.
Mr. Speaker, I am quite disturbed by the actions of the members opposite. Not only do they seem not to want to be accountable to the public by being in the House, but when they're in here - when we can get them in here and keep them in here - they want to stonewall and they want to evade. They do not want to be accountable. All we have to do is go through the printed word. Hansard can show and bear out the fact that this is how this Liberal government conducts itself.
And that, Mr. Speaker, does not lend to being an open, accountable government that is forthright and is contributing to expeditious and constructive debate, and that is a problem also, because that is what lends itself directly to extending sittings.
We can go back through reams and reams of Hansard documents that show that, when the opposition side is questioning a minister about his department - and there's a fundamental principle here, Mr. Speaker, that cannot go unchallenged - when the government ministers responsible for departments cannot provide an answer in this Assembly, we have a serious problem. We cannot conduct our business here on behalf of the Yukon public via legislative returns. That isn't how this works and, if the members opposite think that they can simply offer a legislative return to answer the question, I can only say to them that they are wrong. That is simply not carrying out their duty, and that is contrary to the oath they have taken as ministers of this government.
Now, Mr. Speaker, when we ask questions in Question Period and the government side is not being forthright, and the government side is trying to hide from issues, as these Liberals are very, very adept at doing and have shown that time and time again, that lends to extension of sittings because we, on the opposition side, have to make every effort to extract answers from the government side. We are doing that because that is the demand from the Yukon public.
And if we weren't to do that, then we would be in the same boat as the Liberals opposite, the members opposite in this Liberal government, who are not living up to that commitment to the Yukon public.
Mr. Speaker, on and on I can go with examples of why the Liberal government has to rethink its commitment to this Assembly and being in this Assembly.
Now, I would ask the members opposite what are they fearful of? Why do they have such an aversion to being in here? Why do they want to constantly make it so difficult for the opposition to do its job? How does that live up to another very important promise and commitment to the Yukon public that these members opposite have made? They promised to improve the decorum in this Assembly. Well, Mr. Speaker, I think, again, the printed word and what has gone on here over the last number of sittings will bear out the fact that the members opposite aren't improving decorum whatsoever; they're dismantling it. They are turning this Assembly into something that simply is not constructive, is not beneficial to the public, and is certainly not, in any way, shape or form, expeditious. This is why, Mr. Speaker, we in the official opposition have brought forward this motion. It is not brought forward in any way to take a poke at the members opposite. It's not brought forward in any way to get back at the members opposite for their very, very ill-advised press release before the opening of this sitting. It is meant to try and get the government side to commit to what they have already committed to, to the public and show those actions here in this House that would bear out that commitment.
Well, we have another problem. I think we all know what the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges is here for and why we are on that committee and what its job is. That committee is there to ensure, in an all-party forum, that the debate in this House is constructive and is done in a manner that truly benefits the Yukon public, and that we do our jobs in an expeditious manner as intended. Well, this is simply not working.
The committee is faced with - even though by consensus we manage to make improvements to our Standing Orders of the Assembly - the Liberals' unbelievable desire to invoke closure in this Assembly, which is governing some 30,000 people and meets 60 days a year in total. We are being paid to be here 60 days out of the year and we are being paid all year long. The members opposite come forward with a demand that the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges - that they want to invoke closure, and not in a manner that would improve the proceedings of this House, and not in a manner that would live up to the commitment to the Yukon public, but in a heavy-handed manner that can only be attributed to the fact that they do not want to be in here and be held accountable for their actions, their policies, their expenditures and what they are doing with regard to the Yukon public's daily lives.
Now, Mr. Speaker, in the last sitting we went through a situation perpetuated by the government side when they brought forward a motion on the floor of this Legislature wasting the time of this House - a motion to debate that was a motion of closure. We in the opposition made a stand. Fundamentally, we do not believe in closure because there is no need for it when we only have to be here 60 days out of the year.
We have Standing Orders for this Legislative Assembly that guide us and, attached to those Standing Orders, is the addendum that commits us to a 35-day spring sitting and a 25-day fall sitting. Yet, in the face of that, the members opposite brought forward a closure motion for no reason. They, in the last sitting, were the ones who broke with tradition, broke with the rules of this House, and loaded up a budget agenda - the budget, I might add, was the largest budget in the history of this territory, some $535 million - loaded up that agenda with many substantive pieces of legislation and expected the opposition to just sit down, be quiet, and allow them, in a heavy-handed way, to ram through the budget and ram through the legislation.
I want to point out what is wrong with that scenario. If we were to follow the logic that the Liberal government uses in invoking closure, we could have situations where this largest budget ever in the history of the Yukon Territory would have been passed through this House with hundreds of millions of dollars gone unscrutinized.
That is contrary to the oath these members have taken and the commitment they made to the Yukon public during the election. They were elected based on those commitments, and they're not living up to them. Mr. Speaker, their idea of closure for this Assembly is breaking faith with the Yukon public, and we in the opposition are not going to allow that to happen.
Furthermore, in the standing committee, the opposition, in accordance with this motion, in committing to adhering to the 25 days, as laid out in Addendum 2 to our Standing Orders, made it very clear that we agree and will stick to these Orders and the addendum. It is the Liberal side, led by the Member for Riverdale South, who refused to honour the existing agreement - an agreement, I might add, signed by the Liberals at its inception, and now they are already breaking that commitment and agreement.
It was clear in the standing committee that the members opposite have no intention of honouring the agreement and every intention of bringing forward closure to this House. Now, let's deal with closure for a moment, Mr. Speaker. If we were to take the country as a whole, very few Assemblies - a limited percentage of the Assemblies in this country - even have closure in their Standing Orders. Now, we know the federal government does, but that's pretty understandable, given that for most of its time, the federal government has been run by Liberals. So, it was quite easy for them to ram through closure.
I don't think we want to get into that debate about all the wonderful things the Liberals have done, especially recently, like Bill C-68, like the promise to kill the GST, one of the most unfair taxes for any northerner in this country. We will not sign the free trade agreement - remember that, Mr. Speaker? They never even had the phones hooked up and the ink was on the agreement, signed, sealed and delivered, and we all know that that agreement sold this country out. One of the worst possible aspects of that agreement is, of course, the soft wood side of the agreement, which is destroying one of the main economic engines in this country and impeding this territory's ability, thanks to the inaction of the members opposite, of developing a forest sector that would contribute greatly to our economic woes in this territory. I call that a serious lack of vision.
Now, Mr. Speaker, why, and I urge the members to be open and accountable on this question, why do they want to invoke closure when they only have to be here at this sitting with the load of work they have presented to this Assembly to conduct, to scrutinize, to debate 25 days, and we on this side of the House are committing to those 25 days, and that's what this motion is all about.
I point out, Mr. Speaker, that, if the Liberal benches, the Liberal government, cannot organize themselves to present the agenda for this sitting in a manner that would adhere to the 25-day sitting, then maybe they should seriously consider what it is they're doing. Why don't the members opposite go back and have a caucus meeting and figure this out? One of the first things they could do is inform their House leader what the plan is, because it's evident from the last House leader's performance - and I don't blame the Member for Mount Lorne in any way, shape or form - it was evident to us, both the third party and myself as the official opposition House leader, that nobody in the government caucus was informing the House leader what the agenda of each day for the sitting was supposed to be.
In fact, it was quite confusing, and that is where the opposition contributed to assisting the government side in dealing with the debate, in conducting itself in an open, accountable forthright manner. And, I might add, the opposition operated very constructively and expeditiously, unlike the members from opposite benches. And now we have a new government House leader, which is not in itself really a negative thing from the members opposite, from the government side. Change has always brought improvements in some areas, at least to some degree, except for one thing: the same problem exists. The government side is not informing the government House leader what the heck we are supposed to be doing here, and the confusion that we have gone through over the last three and a half days will bear that statement out.
Let me expand on that - we in House leaders' meetings sit and discuss the lineup for the day's sitting, and for three days we were told that this is the lineup and that we all know that responses to the budget speech take precedence and must be dealt with. However, once that has been completed, we are then going to go immediately into debating the Supplementary No. 3, the Supplementary No. 1 and then the capital mains for the fiscal year 2002-03. So, the opposition busily prepared itself to do that so that we could, in a constructive and expeditious manner, conduct that business on behalf of the Yukon public.
And right out of the blue, Mr. Speaker, as I sat here thinking through how to debate the budget and respond to the speech and do my best possible job on behalf of the Yukon public in that regard, I get a note from the government House leader. Well, "We have changed the lineup," Mr. Speaker. "The Premier will simply not be ready to debate the budget." So I asked, "Well, what's the Premier afraid of? Why is the Premier afraid of debating the budget?" We still don't know, but we were informed that we are now going to legislation.
Now, here's where some of the real problems begin to arise. We have been, for three days, receiving briefings on the budget. We have had absolutely no briefings on the legislation. In fact, when we were informed that the lineup for this Assembly had been changed by the government House leader, the bills we were going to deal with had just been tabled the previous day.
I just cannot fathom how the government side comes up with these things and then expects the opposition side to be able to do its job in a constructive and expeditious manner as we have committed to and as is our duty to on behalf of the public. It's impossible, Mr. Speaker. The government side again has shown that they simply are not willing to do the same.
Now, I have a hard time believing that this is all just a confused state on the government side, because if it is, then we're really in trouble. If there's that much confusion in the Liberal government's benches, I can't imagine what it's like at Management Board and Cabinet and what they're trying to express to their officials and to their deputy ministers.
God help us if it is that confusing in government today, though it may be. I, just simply, as a Yukoner, have a hard time believing it.
So then I have to wonder, why is this happening? Why do the members opposite want to get out of this House? Why do the members opposite create this confusion? Why do the members opposite continually come up with ways to stonewall, evade and duck from constructive, expeditious debate?
I came up with this conclusion. If it's not confusion, then it's a lack of leadership. When I think about that - I have seen far too many examples, Mr. Speaker, that allude to a lack of leadership in the Liberal government. In fact, I believe they are leaderless. So, I wonder, who is leading this government? The examples that we see when we ask questions of a minister, who has sworn an oath and who is accountable by law to this Assembly to answer questions in regard to his department and the agencies within the department that he or she is responsible for, and some other minister jumps up and answers the questions.
So when it comes to trying to create an expeditious and constructive debate in this House, muzzling ministers does not lend to that. It delays our ability to do so and adhere to the timelines as laid out in Addendum 2 to our Standing Orders.
I have real concerns with that fact: why are government ministers not allowed to answer questions? I think we have established that they are leaderless, so that's one reason, maybe, why government ministers are muzzled.
But that's not the way the government side should be conducting their business, and if they are intending to continue in that manner, I have some free advice for the government members: call an election. Why are you even there? You shouldn't be. You have contradicted your oath and your commitment to the Yukon public, and you have broken faith with the Yukon public.
Speaker: Order please. The member, several times, has referred to the oath and contradicting the oath, and so on. The Chair is wondering: is this an attempt to accuse somebody of being dishonest or misleading the government?
Mr. Fentie: May I answer that, Mr. Speaker?
Speaker: Yes, please.
Mr. Fentie: Absolutely not. I would never accuse anyone of that. I am merely laying out information as we in the official opposition perceive it to be, because, when ministers do not answer questions and are muzzled, then we have to look at all of those factors or we would not be doing our job. However, I must stress that I am making no accusations.
Speaker: Well, it's the Chair's feeling that it's an attack on integrity and casts aspersions and questions the truthfulness. I have been trying to determine from Beauchesne's whether it's unparliamentary or not, but I do believe that it's insulting and is likely to create disorder in the House. In order to promote the order of the House, maybe the member could refrain from using that language in the future. I would ask the member to continue, please.
Withdrawal of remark
Mr. Fentie: Thank you for your ruling, Mr. Speaker. In fact, I'll even go further. I'll retract it and exchange it for "do not understand their oath and their commitment to the Yukon public".
So, as I was saying, how can the opposition conduct its business when the government side continues to operate in that manner? Is there going to be the government House leader coming forward and explaining to us that only this minister will answer these questions and only that minister will answer these other questions, and maybe you, in the opposition, just want to forget asking questions so we don't have to worry about what minister is going to get up and answer them? Is that what's happening? We need to know these things if we're to be able to conduct the business of this House in accordance with the rules and the addenda attached to them.
Will the government side provide that information at some point in this sitting? We are trying to ferret out from the government side why they have such an aversion to following the rules of the Assembly. I don't think it's all that difficult, given the fact that the government side has tabled their legislation already, has brought forward their appropriation bills and, other than all the confusion that seems to be happening across the floor, the opposition is making best efforts to organize itself and manage its time so that we can live up to the agreement.
But there's a codicil to this commitment, and that is that the government side has to be open and accountable. The government side has to answer questions. The government side cannot keep playing games by changing the agenda every five minutes, by running back and forth like those squirrels in the squirrel midden, stashing money and all the rest of the things they do. They have to be focused on the sitting when this House is in session, and they have months and months outside of the 60 days that we have to be in here - which we're paid to do, by the way.
They have months and months to do whatever else it is they do, carrying out their duties on behalf of Yukon public, which is even lending more of a problem for us to be able to conduct ourselves in this House in accordance with the timelines because of all the mismanagement of those duties that the government side seems to have a propensity for. Mismanagement of the economy - the Minister of Health, and I might, for a moment, Mr. Speaker, touch on that particular issue.
I don't think the health care system in this territory has ever suffered under such mismanagement. Now, mismanagement is not really - I'm not being derogatory toward the minister. What I'm trying to point out is that the minister is not managing the department in a manner that would allow for that department to deliver to the Yukon public what it is the department's mandate is - what the program objectives of the department are. And I want to touch on the CT scanner.
Now, here's where another problem arises when it comes to our ability to have constructive debate in this House. In the first place, when it comes to the CT scanner, the members opposite passed a budget that allocated $1.4 million - $1 million of capital to buy a CT scanner. At that time, that $1 million would have bought the technology that was available at that time. And it had a $400,000 O&M allocation to operate the CT scanner. A year later, there is no CT scanner, and we find out, from the minister's own words, that we're looking at privatizing the CT scanner. But now when it comes to constructive debate, we have another problem. It's evident that the minister doesn't even understand that his department must conduct itself in accordance with the Canada Health Act.
And his proposition to the public contravened that Canada Health Act, so the minister had to back down. Well, what did that result in? A year and a half delay for people in this territory's access to a standard diagnostic tool. So what did that do in terms of cost to the government? Well, everybody who needed a CT scan for diagnostic purposes, the minister wrote out the cheque to fly them out of here to some clinic or hospital outside the territory, fly them back, and that was how we implemented the standard of diagnostic systems that this country has.
And, worse than that, the member was actually supporting creating a private CT scan clinic, against even the advice of doctors.
Now, maybe I am missing something but, when a doctor tells me I should do something, I don't argue with him, and I'll tell you why. I am placing my health and well-being in the hands of a professional and, when that professional tells the minister and all the professionals in this territory - I am talking the doctors and other health care givers tell the minister - this is not right, it's not going to work, this minister argues with them. He argues with doctors about how we should implement these diagnostic services.
So, it led me to wonder, does the minister even understand what we are made up of. Now, one of the arguments the doctors used is, if we have to medevac somebody into Whitehorse for the purposes of diagnosing a problem, we medevac them here, we stabilize them, we medevac them and we send them to the hospital.
Was it the minister's view, then, that we are made up of nuts and bolts, and, once in the hospital, we can unbolt a piece, send it over to the CT scan clinic, diagnose the problem, take it back, fix it and bolt it back on? It doesn't work that way, and the minister is responsible for contributing to the Yukon public's lack of access to a standard diagnostic tool.
So, when we bring forward these issues and ask these questions in this House, what does the minister do? He stonewalls; he evades; he comes up with all kinds of wonderful answers, but none of them answer the questions we are trying to get answers to, and that does not lend itself to expeditious and constructive debate, Mr. Speaker.
So, again, I have pointed out that it is the government side that bears sole responsibility for any extension in the previous sitting and, indeed, this sitting that we're in today.
Now, we have another issue when it comes to the responsibility of the government side to lending itself to constructive and expeditious debate: the Minister of Education. On this one there are many examples, but let's begin with the first one.
The minister was grilled on many occasions in this House on what happened with the teachers, because, under this minister's watch - this Liberal government minister's watch - the first teachers' strike in this territory took place. I don't think for a minute that the teachers went out on strike lightly. They were forced into it by the minister.
So, when the minister was asked questions about this very issue, what happened?
First we heard that there was a deal, because they had a signing bonus. The minister was crying poverty - all kinds of problems. He evaded the questions, stonewalled the questions, and really contributed to a problem in this House with the opposition being able to do its job. But, as it turns out, the answers that the minister provided simply did not reflect the facts of what was taking place.
So, I say to the members opposite, Mr. Speaker, how is it then that we can continue to keep to the timelines when we know, on the one hand, that these are the facts and the issues and, on the other hand, the minister is talking about something entirely different? That is not being accountable, that is not being forthcoming, and that is not lending itself to a constructive and expeditious debate.
Again, I point out to the members opposite that you only have to be here 60 days. So why not get to the juncture where you will answer the questions in the appropriate manner and we will ask the questions and get on with the business of this House?
Furthermore, that same minister forced the opposition into spending days and days and days grilling the minister on the Mayo school debacle. And it was a debacle, because the minister was responsible for delaying the construction - in all probability, we are going to see cost overruns, even though the minister was making the excuse that it is because of the cost overruns that we were going to delay the expenditure. However, how would the minister know that when nothing was happening?
The minister is responsible for creating a situation where Yukoners' lives were made worse instead of better, and I think that is contradictory to the commitment the members opposite have made to the Yukon public. And again, that is a situation that is serious - very serious - because what is there if you do not honour your commitments? What is there, if you do not follow through with your commitments?
Well, one of the things there is for sure is that this House cannot conduct its business appropriately, and then there is only one course that will evolve. We will just have to stay in here a little longer, so that we can hold the government accountable. Again, the government bears sole responsibility for that, and it's high time they stood up and were counted for that responsibility.
Mr. Speaker, this same minister also was grilled about the library. Now, we remember about the library. And I might offer this to the minister: he did see the error of his ways and reversed a very unpopular decision, and one that would have lent itself to a long discourse in this Legislature because we in the opposition are duty bound to represent and protect the Yukon public's interest in holding their government accountable. But the minister did reverse his decision, and I think there is a sign there that if we in the opposition really focus in on that and work on it, we may be able to change the habits of the members opposite and improve the proceedings in this Assembly.
So we are trying to do that today, Mr. Speaker, with this motion. Now, we see the Minister of Education has that ability to listen to the opposition, to listen to the public and get it straight, change his mind and do the right thing, and that is very important, because that is how this is supposed to work, and that is one example. We are trying to get the members opposite to do that on more occasions to improve the proceedings of this House and assist the members opposite in being able to conduct their business in accordance with Addendum 2 - 25 days this sitting, 35 days in the spring, as laid out in our Standing Orders.
Now, we have to deal with a number of issues that the Premier has created in her short tenure as leader. In the first instance, the Premier - and this did not lend itself to helping the proceedings of this House - the Premier took on a smorgasbord of duties upon taking office. Once the Premier had placed the crown upon her head, anointed herself Premier, she then went about grabbing all the profile departments to, I guess I don't know, to raise the profile of the Premier, but it certainly doesn't lend itself to constructive debate.
Let me go on. During the course of a number of sittings, many questions were posed to the Premier in her capacity as Minister of Economic Development. Were there any answers that were forthcoming that were open and accountable? No. In fact, let's look at what really happened.
The Premier completely mismanaged the Department of Economic Development, turned it into a mess, punted the ball to the poor Member for Riverside, who is now carrying such a weight. And I actually feel sorry for the Member for Riverside because he was handed a very difficult job, given the mess that the Premier had created, and that takes me back to why we have problems in this House: the Liberal government seems to lack any leadership and direction.
If we want to make this House better and make it serve its public better, there has to be leadership and direction from the Liberal government, because without it, we are like lost sheep, wandering around, and that does resemble what's happening here in this sitting - the confusion, and the members opposite just not seeming able to grasp the agenda for what we are to conduct in this Assembly.
Now, the Premier, in her capacity as Minister of Economic Development, made a number of mistakes. In the first place, one of the main focal points of economic development that was developed recently in this territory was a fledgling forest industry, and there was a way that that was happening. It was happening because a previous government saw clearly the need to coordinate a number of government departments, a number of agencies within government on one specific issue.
And the Premier said, today in fact, that they were spending money much more wisely, unlike the previous government that was spending money on commissions.
Now, let's look at something else, Mr. Speaker, when it comes to commissions and spending money wisely. The previous government, with its forest commission, by coordinating the Department of Economic Development, the Department of Renewable Resources, the Executive Council Office and all agencies that would relate to any forest matter in dealing with the federal government - the managers, who are completely incompetent - managed to improve the situation. They managed to advance that issue in this territory a great deal.
I want to point something out, Mr. Speaker. The Premier's comments were wrong, because that commission delivered more product in its 18 months than this Liberal government in its entirety has over the last 18 months. One simple little commission produced more product than the members opposite have with their whole government.
That's an interesting point because those types of things - product - lend themselves to an expeditious and constructive debate in this House. And why I say that is because when there is no product coming from the government side, it's very difficult for the opposition side to be able to conduct the business of this Assembly on behalf of the Yukon public. It's not our job to invent something. It's not our job to sit here and be lectured and just listen; it's our job to hold the members opposite accountable. What we are saying is the members opposite aren't delivering; there's no product. It's smoke and mirrors; it's fluff. There is no product. That makes it much more difficult for us to be able to adhere to the 25 days of this sitting because now the opposition must go in search of product. And that's what holding the government accountable is all about.
If the government isn't willing to present what they are doing in an open and accountable manner, then the opposition side must, no matter how long it takes, ferret that out. If we didn't, we would then be in the same bailiwick as the members opposite, not doing our job. We on this side of the House will have none of that, Mr. Speaker. We intend to do our job. We have done our job to this point and we will continue to do our job beyond.
Now, Mr. Speaker, economic development is critical in this territory because there isn't any. And the Premier, in her mismanagement of economic development, has contributed very negatively to a serious situation and has created something in this territory that's disturbing. The only thing we have left is government.
In fact, when it comes to the most important element of an economy - cash flow. That's the fuel that drives an economy. For example, for the member opposite's benefit, if they got in their car in the parking lot this evening and there was no gas in it, it wouldn't go anywhere. When there's no cash flow in an economy, the economy doesn't go anywhere. The only thing we have today, thanks to the members opposite, is government. And that is disturbing because, instead of addressing real issues, like our economy, the Premier is off on some ridiculous tangent called "government renewal". Oh my, what a gem this is. And the Premier justifies this so-called government renewal by saying in this House - which does not lead to constructive debate - that the Yukon public has called for renewal.
You, the Premier, said, "the Yukon public has asked us to improve government, and that's what we're doing. Government renewal is all about improving government."
First off, I'm a bit confused about that, because in the Premier's recent fireside chat, if that's what you want to call it, or her message to the public, nobody showed up. So now I wonder - and this is going to lend itself to the debate in this Legislature, believe me - how the Premier came up with this idea that renewing government is a burning issue with the Yukon public.
And now we have another problem. The answers we're getting from the Premier are simply not going to cut it, because all we're hearing is that 700 public servants have responded. Well, with a gun to their head, of course they're going to respond.
The only political direction that we've seen to date coming out of this government is the directive from the Premier: faithful civil servants, go forth and renew. Well, what's the plan? We hear general concepts, like improving services to the Yukon public, loss of jobs - that's a real goodie, when we have an economy, as we do today, that's totally dependent on government. Let's cut some more cash flow out of the economy. You know, why don't we just shut it all down? What is the Premier doing, and how can we, the opposition, conduct ourselves in an expeditious manner when we now have to ferret out and dig into that mess?
I wonder, Mr. Speaker, if there's not a hidden agenda. I truly wonder, because we've already established, I think, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the Liberal government opposite has no leadership. It's leaderless. So who is leading?
Well, when I look at budgets and how money is being spent, something jumps out at me. There has to be a small centre of influence whispering in the Premier's ear. That's what's happening. A very small group of people are leading this government. I can almost buy that, because it's a true statement, when I say Liberals lead from behind. And we know that from the Liberals' platform document. There was no plan in there; there was no vision in there - a bunch of platitudes. And then we get their very first budget. Whose was it? It was the former government's budget, because they couldn't construct one, so the Yukon public were very concerned that the Liberal government pass that very good budget, and they did.
Unfortunately, they spent the next 12 months picking it apart and, as the Minister of Health did, they didn't buy the CT scan. And, as the Minister of Education did, they didn't proceed with the Mayo school. And, as the Minister of Economic Development did, they shut down the forest industry.
Mr. Speaker, these are all very big problems and these all add to the requirement that we, in the opposition, dig in and try and expose what it is that's happening here in this territory under this government's watch - I won't say leadership, because there isn't any. They're watching.
And that makes me wonder another thing, Mr. Speaker. How can we manage big-ticket items like devolution? If there is no leadership today, no plan today, no vision today, how is it that tomorrow we can take on federal powers in terms of managing our lands and resources in this territory? Where is the capacity to do that?
The one place it might have been is in our public service. That's the one area where maybe we could have salvaged something, but what happened? The Premier has taken a real run at that and, through this government renewal process, is dismantling the public service. When we look at how important economic development is, by the looks of what the Premier's trying to do, there's not even going to be a Department of Economic Development around.
Now, I didn't believe that for a moment until I had seen the budget, and it's evident that the new Minister of Economic Development was ignored.
The Minister of Economic Development and his department received very little in the way of government resources and expenditure so that minister and his department could address the economic woes this territory is in. Instead they dump more money into the pipeline unit. Well, what is the pipeline unit doing? We know that the producers are spending $75 million to conduct a feasibility study on a number of options for moving natural gas and, indeed, probably other natural resources to market. So what is the Premier doing - and now the new Minister of Economic Development - in regard to this project?
Well, outside of the hundreds of thousands of dollars they are pouring into the pipeline unit with no plan or direction, the Premier is simply standing on her feet at every occasion saying, "We are the only party that supports the pipeline." Well, I think we all know where that went. Nobody believes that in this territory - that it is only the Liberals that support the pipeline. I'll tell you what people do believe and what is at issue here: the Liberal government is without leadership and, by winging it, is mismanaging something here that could have a huge impact on this territory. I'll list some examples. The first one: legislation was brought into this House last spring which was supposed to be a budget sitting. Yet the Liberals overloaded the budget sitting with legislation, brought in changes to a certain act that may have sold the farm and the Yukon Territory's ability to get beyond just simply a construction boom and to control its destiny and its costs of energy.
That's a disturbing sign, and that shows that there is no leadership, no plan and no vision, because if there had been any thought put into that legislation - and we in the opposition fought it long and hard, and that contributed to our inability to stick to a 35-day timeline because no matter what constructive suggestions we brought forward, the members opposite ignored them for partisan reasons, said they were no good and continued on their merry way headlong into a brick wall. What is at stake here is this territory's ability to control its energy costs, and I'll tell you why.
Under the existing ANGTS agreement, Mr. Speaker, the producers have committed to allowing the Yukon to pull natural gas off a possible - because we don't know for sure yet - Alaska Highway pipeline. Now, part of that agreement commits the producers to replace the cubic feet of gas that we in the Yukon pull out of that line downstream. For the member's benefit, that's down the Alaska Highway line, south toward Boundary Lake. What really is disturbing is that the Premier, who is supposed to be leading in her capacity as Minister of Economic Development, did not realize that the Yukon already has a producing well down south - actually, a number of wells - and we are sitting on a very, very rich deposit of natural gas.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Speaker: The government House leader, on a point of order.
Mr. McLachlan: Mr. Speaker, when members agreed to sit for motion day today, we agreed to talk about a 25-day sitting. The member opposite has talked about everything but a 25-day sitting, and he has used terms that refer to "anointment" and "crowning" of a princess. In doing so, he has cast aspersions. The correct term is the "investiture of a Premier". When he uses those terms, he is casting reflections on the leader, reflections that go back to the relationship that this Legislature has with the British system of parliamentary democracy.
The last thing that this Member for Watson Lake wishes to talk about this afternoon is a 25-day sitting, which members on this side are present for to listen to the arguments. We haven't heard anything about 25 days.
If the Member for Watson Lake is not going to talk about the topic under discussion for this afternoon, members on this side suggest that we move forward to Motion No. 143.
Speaker: Member for Kluane, on the point of order.
Mr. McRobb: On the point of order, Mr. Speaker, the Member for Watson Lake is addressing the substance of the motion, and I can understand why the Liberal House leader is getting a little upset. He's a little skin thinned, and he knows that his allegations based on rumour mongering at the outset of this sitting were completely unfounded, and I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, there is no point of order. This is merely a dispute among members and a waste of time by this Liberal government which, in itself, Mr. Speaker, is the substance of this motion.
Speaker: Leader of the third party, on the point of order.
Mr. Jenkins: On the point of order, Mr. Speaker, there's no point of order. There's just a dispute between members.
Speaker: On the point of order, clearly, the Chair has heard comments slipped into the debate, "crowning of a Premier," "an anointment," and whatever else - similar comments.
The Chair really does believe that that is an attempt to create disorder or to embarrass other members of the House. I believe, when we go that far, we have a point of order here. However, it is far from the Chair's ability to limit debate, and the Chair has no desire to limit debate on issues that are being debated here, and I very well know the topic.
But the Chair has to hear the debate before he can make a ruling on this. Quickly, here, I believe that, in one sense, there's a point of order regarding the language, and I would ask the members to be a little more judicious in their comments. However, the Chair is not going to get into the issue of limiting debate at this time, and I would ask the Member for Watson Lake to continue.
Mr. Fentie: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your ruling. In the first case, I accept your points that I must be mindful of some of the language; however, I'm only human.
Secondly, I have to point out to the Member for Faro that the points I'm making are directly linked to this motion because it's all about constructive, expeditious debate. If I may, I would like to continue now with the legislation from last fall that created a great deal of delay in this House.
As I was saying, what was missed by the members opposite was a golden opportunity for us to control our cost of energy because under the existing ANGTS agreement, the producers were to replace any gas that was taken off the Alaska Highway pipeline downstream. Given the fact that we in the Kotaneelee already have producing wells, we had an opportunity to replace that gas ourselves. So, what didn't happen here - the members opposite didn't grasp this - is that instead of us buying the gas, we could have just taken it out of the line, replaced it down south, and set our own price in this territory.
Now, when it comes to economic development, one of the most attractive ways to bring in investment is a cheap source of energy. The Premier, in her unwillingness to allow constructive debate and accept constructive decisions - lending itself to extending a sitting - has jeopardized and compromised the future of this territory when it comes to its energy needs and costs. That is very much attached to this motion, I might add for the Member of Faro's benefit.
Now, let me continue about the lack of leadership - that being a very clear example. But it goes on in many areas, and land claims is a big one. The land claim issue in this territory is very important in this Assembly. It's important because the Liberal government opposite has made the land claims in the Yukon Territory the highest priority.
To date, no progress. So beyond the budgets, Mr. Speaker - and, I might add, a capital main for the next fiscal year we're debating here this fall; I might add, a supplementary that contains $54 million of new expenditure in addition to what is already the highest budget this territory has ever allocated, ballooning a $535-million budget for 30,000 people to close to $600 million, and yet people continue to leave, the unemployment rate rises, there's no hope. We are going to have to debate these items in the strongest terms. Add to all that the legislation, of which a number are very substantive. They not only affect our wildlife and how we manage it, but it has great bearing - that act, I might add - on the land claim issues, and will contribute, if not managed and handled properly with the proper amendments attached, to delaying the land claim process.
Added to all this work, Mr. Speaker, we must deal with the Premier on the land claim issue, because it's the Premier and the Liberals opposite who have made it the highest priority, and there is no progress. Recently, we have already heard of a problem from what is reported to be a settled claim in Kluane. There are many problems in this area, and the opposition needs the time in this House to deal with those problems so that we can do our job, as we committed to the Yukon public to do.
And that requires the member opposite to be open and accountable, to answer questions, to not stand up on frivolous points of order, but to be here in this House sitting, listening and debating in a constructive and expeditious manner - not on how they have conducted themselves to date. It is vital that the members opposite hold up their end of this bargain, and the bargain I speak of today is this very friendly motion that the official opposition has brought forward.
We are committing to the Liberal government, to the members opposite, that we will adhere to the agreements, that we will adhere to the timelines, that we are ready, willing and able to conduct the public's business in this House in holding the government accountable even with the load of work that they are bringing on here. They have to hold up their end of the bargain, and they can only do that by being open and accountable, by being prepared, by having leadership, by telling the government House leader what it is we are supposed to do on each and every day in this House, by answering questions in the appropriate manner, by not evading, by not stonewalling, but by answering the questions.
And I want to give you another example. If we had begun discussing an issue here in this House involving what appears to be a situation that is inappropriate by a government member, and if the answer from the members opposite could have been, "Well we know that this was a mistake and error in judgement", then we could have accepted that. In fact there would have been only one question. And all the members opposite have to do in being open and accountable and forthright was to say, "Yes, this was an error in judgement, and these are the steps we will take to ensure and make best efforts that this situation does not happen again."
Well, that didn't take place. Instead, we've gone around and around and around and around, confusing the issue, evading the issue, ducking the issue, creating more mixed messages, creating more questions for the opposition to bring into this House to hold this government accountable. That, again, puts the responsibility on that side of the House of extending debate in this Legislative Assembly. Even though we have committed to the 25 days for this sitting, this government, this Liberal government opposite, refuses to hold up their end of this agreement.
I've said clearly in the committee responsible for the proceedings of the Assembly that they will not honour this agreement. So now we have to say to ourselves, even though there are three appropriation bills before us, eight pieces of legislation, an economy in complete disarray and totally mismanaged, the health care system upside-down because the minister hasn't got it yet and doesn't even understand the law under which he must operate, and yet we have to ferret out all these other issues. We are still committing to keeping to the agreement that the members opposite refuse to.
So again I say to the members opposite, it is you that are responsible for extending debate in this Assembly and, if you continue to conduct yourselves in this manner, that is what's going to happen. Now, Mr. Speaker, if we can come to some arrangement here that clearly commits the government side to the public that they will be open and accountable, we can move on. I urge one of the members at least to stand up on a point of order and inform this side of the House that they intend to do so and this is how they intend to do it and, as I said, we can move on.
But the way things are going, Mr. Speaker, there are problems here. And I think you, Mr. Speaker, and the members opposite can understand the predicament that the opposition is in. If we are to honour our commitment and our contract, as the Liberal side likes to put it, with the Yukon public, then we have to conduct the business in this House in a manner that allows us to get answers, that allows us to protect and represent the interests of the Yukon public when it comes to the decisions that their government is making on their behalf.
There are far too many examples here, Mr. Speaker, where the decisions that this government makes, including the budget, have no input from the public. This also will lend itself to extending the sitting of this Assembly.
Now, contrary to the Liberals' view that they have talked to many, many people, received many, many e-mails, phone calls, la-de-da-de-da, I can tell you that there has not been any budget consultation for the capital mains for the fiscal year of 2002-03. Because if there had been, this would have been a different budget. In fact, the debate on that budget may have been very, very short. I'll tell you why: because within the pages of that budget, within the allocation of funds, would have been the priorities of the Yukon public, which we support.
We, on this side of the House, support the priorities of the Yukon public; we support its government making expenditures that address their needs and address their desires in a fair, balanced and equitable manner. This budget does nothing of the sort.
That, Mr. Speaker, will lend itself to extending debate in this Legislative Assembly unless the members opposite come up with some mechanism to get it right.
Now, I caution the members to understand something. In this territory there are many, many more people than the few Liberals left who continue to talk to the members opposite. You can't equate hundreds of phone calls when it's the same three people. There are 30,000 people in this territory. You can't add up each time that same person calls as consultation from the Yukon public. You can't add up another e-mail from the same person who sent the previous e-mail as consultation from the Yukon public. There are more people in this territory than the few Liberals who are left.
I'm finding torn-up Liberal cards all over the place, ripped to pieces, tossed on the ground, and stomped on. I can't believe it, Mr. Speaker. What's going on here? This is a serious, serious situation.
The Premier, who is supposed to be leading, must understand that this is the big show. This is where it's at. This is where you honour that contract to the Yukon public, and the sooner the members opposite get it straight, the sooner we can get on with constructive and expeditious debate in this Assembly and conduct the public business in the manner intended.
So, I have a suggestion for the members opposite to help that cause: change the leader. Have a meeting this afternoon, when this Assembly wraps up, and discuss among yourselves who should be the leader.
That would be an important step to ensure that this Assembly could conduct the public's business. Find a leader. There are 10 of you. Pick one - any one. I'll offer a suggestion - the Member for Riverdale South. Let that member be the leader. But at least get somebody to lead, and this will improve the situation. I'll tell you why, Mr. Speaker. If there were leadership on the government side, then the government House leader will have a much clearer set of directives. So, when we go to the House leaders' meetings to set the agenda of the day, we will all know what's going on. The opposition will go and prepare itself, will come into this House, will expeditiously and constructively conduct its debate, and this sitting will conclude, as it's laid out in the Standing Orders and the addendum attached to it. But without any leadership and direction, how are we expected to do that?
I have another suggestion, Mr. Speaker - pick us to lead. We'll help you, and we'll lead for you, because you're following us anyway. We have to get to something here that results in improving the proceedings of this Assembly, and we have to do it now. It's pretty simple - lead, follow or get out of the way. Those are the three options the Liberals have. They can pick a leader and begin to lead; they can pick us to lead and they will follow, or they can simply get out of the way. But we have to get to some point here where we have a government side to debate with - a government side that has leadership, a government side that is producing something in the way of product, a government side that answers questions, a government side that is open and accountable, a government side that is forthcoming, a government side that at least keeps its contract with the Yukon public.
I ask the members opposite, with all due respect: how is it that the opposition can conduct its business when none of those things are present from the government side? We have to come to some arrangement, or we are in danger here of not being able to, in an expeditious manner, conclude the business of the Yukon public in this Assembly and in this sitting.
I think that so far in this debate we have made a fair assessment of the situation we are in. Now, as I pointed out, if there was any desire on that side of the House to do so - to honour the agreement and the orders of this Assembly - one of the members would be up right now on a point of order outlining how we would get to that junction. The official opposition has made a number of suggestions - food for thought for the members opposite. Anything is bound to improve the situation we are in. We want to, based on this motion tabled here today by the official opposition, conclude the business of the House in 25 days. We want to -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Fentie: Well, I can't let that one stay there. Mr. Speaker, the Member for Faro just said that this could have been one of them. Well, that is an interesting comment, because what he is referring to is that we, the official opposition, stand down on private members' day, and do what? I can tell you right now that the government House leader had absolutely no agenda before him should we have stood down on private members' day today, so what would we have done - adjourned?
We're here to try and convince the members opposite that they must do something in terms of allowing this Assembly to conduct itself in a manner that lends itself to constructive, expeditious debate. And comments from the Member for Faro, chirping from the sidelines, are not an example of that very basic principle.
So, will the Member for Faro - seeing as how he wants to speak so badly - be the one who stands on his feet and says, "Yes, we'll commit to this. This is a good motion. This is on behalf of the Yukon public, and here's how we're going to do it, and here's how we are going to be open and accountable. We're going to allow ministers to answer questions. We're going to allow private members on that side to bring forward their issues. We're going to allow a situation where we pick a leader. We are going to ensure that the new Minister of Economic Development comes up with a plan" - like, yesterday; it's getting beyond the point of no return. We're going to have the Minister of Health go to the CT scanner when it's here and confirm that everything is okay and that he is able to lead his department. We're fair. We believe that these people have, at some point, in the deep recesses of their thoughts, the ability to do something. We're waiting for that to happen, Mr. Speaker, and because it's not happening, we get into situations where the opposition has to ferret out and expose those deficiencies because they directly impact the Yukon public in a negative way.
We're here to ensure that the government of the day does not do that to the Yukon public. That's our job. That's why we were elected and that's what we intend to do in carrying out our duties.
I am going to close here briefly so others can enter into this debate. Hopefully there is somebody on the Liberals' side who has some comments in regard to this motion. However, let's look at the main content: the official opposition - and I am positive I have the concurrence of the leader of the third party - will commit to a 25-day sitting even though there is a lot of work to conduct here on behalf of the public. We feel we have the capacity to deliver. What we need the side opposite to do is provide to us the proof that they will conduct themselves in the same manner. That's what being constructive is all about. I urge the members opposite to stand up and provide that to the opposite side here, on behalf of the Yukon public - not for us, because we are here to do our job and we will do that, but on behalf of the public. It's their duty, Mr. Speaker; it is why they were elected. It is the contract that they claim they have signed with the Yukon public.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The only lost sheep in this Legislature are on the other side of the House. Our little flock on this side at least has a leader.
Today's motion is a spectacular example of how the opposition party wastes the public's time. Surely there are important issues that Yukoners want to hear about. The only members in here who are "skin thinned", as the Member for Kluane so eloquently stated, are the members of the official opposition.
Mr. Speaker, the Member for Watson Lake is obviously auditioning for the comedy channel. I wonder how he could keep a straight face for the past hour and 40 minutes. It might be funny if it weren't so pathetic.
What a difference a change in government makes. They're not in charge any more, so every Yukoner has to suffer.
Mr. Speaker, I need to correct the record. In a timely manner, we gave the opposition all the legislation on the second day of this sitting. That has not happened for many years. The Member for Watson Lake has a short memory. He's saying we haven't provided the legislation in a timely manner. This is Wednesday. We provided it last Thursday and Monday. We have worked very hard over the last year and a half toward this goal. It's not possible to change the practice of previous governments overnight.
As the chair of the Cabinet Committee on Legislation, I want to commend the people in the Department of Justice, the Executive Council Office, the departmental staff and ministers who worked so hard to get their legislation ready for the beginning of the sitting. That was my goal, Mr. Speaker, and the goal of my entire caucus, and I'm very pleased that we have achieved it.
In his wide-ranging and unfocused remarks, the Member for Watson Lake says the opposition has brokered the wrap-up of every sitting of this government. That's because they behaved in an irresponsible manner, stalling and delaying throughout the sittings. We were prepared, in all the previous sittings, to conclude on time. They weren't. They can see the work to be done, Mr. Speaker, but I have no faith that they will actually get busy and do it. This afternoon is just one example of that.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Point of order
Speaker: The Member for Kluane, on a point of order.
Mr. McRobb: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I believe I heard the member say "they behaved in an irresponsible manner" and I believe, consistent with your previous rulings, that would be language that would entice debate and raise confrontation, and it is not parliamentary to use such language.
Speaker: Government House leader, on the point of order.
Mr. McLachlan: On the point of order, the Member for Kluane is entering his sixth year in this Chamber. He knows full well "irresponsible" is not a debatable point of order. He knows that he is posturing for time; that's all.
Mr. Speaker, that's simply a dispute on the wording; that's not a point of order.
Speaker: I refer to the point of order that was raised. Members are becoming somewhat sensitive to comments that are not judicious in nature - "irresponsible" may be sensitive to some person's ears. However, after sitting in the chair for several days now, the Chair has heard several comments, and if he were to rule this as being unparliamentary, I'm afraid that the Chair would be interrupting very often and no debate would ever take place in this House.
I really believe that if members are going to become extremely sensitive, maybe the House leaders in their meetings will have to get together, decide how sensitive they're going to be and what's going to hurt their ears, and give the Chair some direction as to how stringently they want this rule enforced, whether it's insulting or whether it's likely to create disorder. That leaves a lot of latitude. But it's very difficult for the Chair to decide that it's acceptable today and it's not acceptable tomorrow.
So the Chair is not going to rule on this, one way or another. The Chair is going to wait to receive some guidance from the House leaders. Having said that, I would ask the minister to continue.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I would like to remind the Member for Watson Lake, and, in fact, all of the opposition, when they speak about holding the government accountable, that it is also their jobs to represent their constituents, not just those who supported their party but also all of those who supported the other parties in the last election.
Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government was in session for 90 days in their first year in power. Let's put that into perspective. The Liberal government sat 50 percent more in their first year of power than the next highest sitting government in the first year of their mandate. That was the 1985 mandate of the NDP. This Liberal government sat a total of 40 days more than the Member for Klondike's party during their first year in power and 62 days longer than the last mandate of the NDP.
Mr. Speaker, in our first year in power, this Liberal government introduced 37 bills to deal with the public's business. We're trying to catch up with a huge backlog of work left undone by previous administrations. By contrast, the Yukon Party introduced 23 bills in their first year in power, and the members of the official opposition introduced four bills in their first year in power.
Mr. Speaker, the public record of the Liberal government reflects a hard-working caucus, an accountable caucus, and a caucus that is very willing to listen to the concerns of Yukoners. We aren't afraid of hearing the concerns of Yukoners being voiced in this House, in the grocery store, or on the doorstep or the kitchens and living rooms of our constituents and others' constituents.
But, Mr. Speaker, that's not the whole story. The reality is that much larger jurisdictions sit for far less time than this Yukon Legislature sits and pass far larger budgets for far larger populations. It's clear that we welcome public scrutiny, especially if that scrutiny is thoughtful and is legitimate debate on the questions facing Yukoners.
Other jurisdictions obviously have opposition parties that are able to roll up their sleeves and get working, despite political differences. We did that when we were in opposition.
Our opposition parties in this House are playing at politics; they're not working. The opposition members of this House have made it very obvious that they can't stand the fact that they're not on this side of the House. They ask frivolous questions that go on for days in this House without dealing with the greater public policy debate, a debate that Yukoners want to see.
Mr. Speaker, the opposition members are incapable of leading this territory. In fact, their less than adequate performance in acting as opposition members has meant that they must drag out the public business by asking questions that they have already received answers to, over and over and over again. The opposition also chooses to ask questions that have nothing to do with public policy or the government's finances. Their way is to initiate personal attacks and leave the real questions to real Yukoners.
Mr. Speaker, we have provided answers. They don't like the answers, and instead of going out to Yukoners to voice their alternate view or their vision, they just waste time in this Legislature with the same tired verbiage. They're stalling the business of this territory while trying to find direction for their parties.
Mr. Speaker, I'm happy to be here. The member opposite is wrong when he suggests that we don't want to be in the Legislature. But this would be a much happier place if the members opposite would get down and do their work. It's a faint hope, Mr. Speaker. From what the Member for Watson Lake has said this afternoon, their games are continuing. It's a pity, Mr. Speaker. They're not representing their constituents; they're merely wasting time and money and doing the Yukon public a disservice.
I remind the Member for Watson Lake that it's the Member for Klondike who continually asks for information by way of legislative return. He criticized this government for providing so much information in that form. Since the Member for Watson Lake speaks for the Member for Klondike so often, perhaps he would take that up with him.
I remind the Member for Watson Lake of all the times when we were in opposition that we weren't informed of anything. They didn't want us to know so they didn't tell us - surprise, surprise. We aren't like that. We told the members opposite as soon as we knew yesterday that the Premier had to leave for a Finance ministers meeting, one that was supposed to be held in December but has been moved up. We told them right away. The Premier is ready and able to debate the budget. It is a cruel and deliberate distortion of the facts for the Member for Watson Lake to suggest opposite. He knows very well what the case was and he has the news release in front of him. The government House leader told the opposition yesterday about this change in our schedule and the reason for it as soon as the government House leader became aware of it. The opposition is choosing not to believe it. That is most unfortunate. The Yukon public can see right through the opposition tactics. We have a leader. The Premier is doing her job and she is doing it well and we all support her.
Smoke and mirrors - I don't think so, Mr. Speaker. As much as he may want to pretend that the Champagne revision is not a figment of the Member for Kluane's imagination, as much as he may pretend that the work isn't happening - it is. It's real work; it's happening in the Yukon and it's thanks to this Liberal government. The Mayo school is not a figment of the Member for Mayo-Tatchun's imagination as much as he'd like it to be. Construction is nearing completion. It will be open soon. It is a real building. It is happening in the Yukon and it is happening thanks to this Liberal government. The Member for Watson Lake keeps worrying about a hidden agenda. There isn't one. We are open and accountable. The public, on the doorstep during the election campaign a year and a half ago, asked for improved delivery of government services. We heard it over and over again in every riding - that is renewal, Mr. Speaker. We are doing what we said we would do.
And, Mr. Speaker, they just don't get it. Land claims are a high priority for this government. The negotiation of land claims is, of necessity, a confidential matter. Even the member opposite, who was a former chief and knows better, continually asks us to violate land claims confidentiality. We can't and we won't. There is progress. There is a ratification vote happening next week. That's not a figment of their imagination. It's a real ratification vote and it's happening.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Speaker: Leader of the official opposition, on a point of order.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, Mr. Speaker, I believe the member has misspoken herself. I have not once asked the government side to violate any type of negotiations. I think it's an indication of how low this government is stooping right now.
I think that the member should withdraw that type of language. Having to take and listen to that type of language is not creating any type of fair debate for us on this side of the House. I ask you to do that.
Mr. McLachlan: Mr. Speaker, earlier in your ruling you used the reference "thin skinned". This is clearly another example where members are a little bit abused by the remarks. The language was not violating anything. The member fully well knows that questions on the floor of this Legislature to the Premier asked her to provide specific information that was outside the confidentiality of the discussions taking place. To stand forward on the floor at this time and say he did not, is clearly a difference of opinion and clearly a violation of everything that the leader of the opposition stands for.
Mr. Jenkins: On the point of order, it has been the constant ploy of the Liberals that they have hidden behind the negotiations and stated categorically, "We don't negotiate land claims on the floor of the House." The questions posed by the official opposition and me have been questions that were outside of the parameters of the negotiations under the land claims agreements and clearly are so. Because the government of the day does not have the demonstrated ability to respond accurately to those questions, it constantly hides behind that shield. That is not fair. That is not reasonable. There is a very valid point of order.
Speaker: Order please. I treat the words spoken by the leader of the official opposition and by the government House leader with great respect, and I was looking for something to help me through with my decision. I thank the leader of the third party for coming in and, with his assistance, I believe that we have here a clear dispute of the facts rather than a point of order.
I thank the leader of the third party for that assistance and ask the minister to continue, please.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, if the opposition were truly serious about getting the business of the Legislature done, they would do their work in a timely manner, debate the issues, stop the personal attacks, and they would stick to agreements they have signed, such as the MOU.
Mr. Speaker, the Yukon public simply can't trust the opposition to stick to the principles of a simple MOU.
The Member for Watson Lake has said several times that the session will be extended and that it will be fault of the Liberal government. Those statements make this motion a farce, Mr. Speaker. It is simply a waste of time.
I will not be supporting this motion as it reads, because that side of the House can't be counted on to do the work of this House. They have their own agenda. It isn't in the interest of the Yukon public.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, what we have before the House today is a very serious motion for debate. The record deserves to be corrected on a number of statements made by the Member for Lake Laberge. I listened intently to what the Member for Lake Laberge had to say, and I'm sure, after she hears what I have to say, she'll understand what is transpiring.
The first issue she raised, Mr. Speaker, was that her government had provided all the legislation to the opposition. Well, Mr. Speaker, I'd like to thank the Member for Lake Laberge for providing that accurate information to the House here today, because certainly at House leaders this morning, when that same question was posed to the government House leader, the answer was not there. In fact, you have what we have and we don't know if there's any more. There was no definitive answer as to the extent of the legislation that was going to be provided, Mr. Speaker.
Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, the Member for Lake Laberge mentioned the MOU that is attached to and part of our Standing Orders. One only has to review SCREP to see who was not in agreement with the MOU. It's certainly not myself, it's certainly not the official opposition, but it is the Liberal government of the day that says they don't accept it and they don't concur with it, Mr. Speaker.
Therein lies the crux of the problem. We have a government that currently does a lot of talking, but the translation into reality just does not work. They say one thing, it either doesn't happen or they interpret it another way. That's how this government is going about its business, and it creates a considerable amount of turmoil in this Legislature, and it does prolong the sitting.
The Liberal government has only itself to blame, should this session not be able to be concluded within the time specified - only themselves, Mr. Speaker. At every step of the process, we constantly are inundated with new twists and turns. We were, in the opposition, all prepped to go to briefings at specific times on the financial aspects of the budget. At the last minute, we are told that the Premier, the Minister of Finance, is off to Ottawa - fine.
We know the Premier, the Minister of Finance, is leaving on Friday for a weekend meeting in Ottawa. When this has happened in prior years, someone has filled in for the Minister of Finance. What is happening now is all the briefings on Finance and the capital budget and the supps are set aside, and we're going into the legislation now. Even the public sector that provides these briefings is scrambling to attend them, because they were given notice at the last possible moment, Mr. Speaker.
So much for very careful planning on the part of the government of the day. So much for working cooperatively with the opposition for the betterment of this House. We have the business of the people of the Yukon to conduct here, and it is not the opposition that is delaying that. It is the current government. Now, I have constantly referred to this government as "the novice Liberal government". Nothing has really changed, other than they have been in power for some 18 months and we're getting further and further behind economically. Not only that, Mr. Speaker, they now have put, as their number one priority, this renewal of government which is virtually destroying the morale in the public sector. The concern now in the public sector is more, "Do I have a job?" Or, "When am I going to receive my lay-off notice?" That is a serious issue for most people, because if you prioritize those areas of your life, you put God as number one, in my opinion. Number two is your health; number three is your family and number four is your job. When any one of those goes off the rails, there is a serious problem with your whole lifestyle. With the ability of this Liberal government to demoralize our public sector employees with this renewal-of-government initiative, it is not instilling any confidence. We are probably going to extend debate because of this Liberal government's novice approach to how a legislature should run.
I guess the aspirations and dreams of the Liberals are one thing. The reality translates into something else, and that something else is that they have not been able to demonstrate an ability to govern the Yukon effectively, efficiently or instill any confidence in the investor community. That is painfully evident in all the economic sectors and economic drivers in the Yukon, whether it be the mining, forestry or oil and gas communities or our visitor industry. The last major driver that injected a tremendous amount of capital and O&M dollars into the Yukon, this Liberal government has chosen to demoralize it - some government and some ability, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, I will predict here today that this Liberal government is going to go down in the history of the Yukon as the most successful failure ever as a government.
Let's look at the areas this Liberal government should be concentrating on. If we look at House leaders, they should come to a meeting with a clear, concise, forthright plan. They should provide the information accurately and not stonewall. They should have a platform as to where we're heading and the agenda. We can all be prepared and can all deal with it.
Some of the legislation, after looking at it, appears to be very hastily drafted, Mr. Speaker, given that it was probably just a commitment that one or many of the ministers of the day made - yes, you're going to have that, go and do this and do it immediately. A lot of this legislation should take a lot of time, not only as to the legislation itself, but how it dovetails into other legislation. That thought process hasn't been applied.
But that aside, the major problem with this government is that this government has not brought forward in this House one major initiative that is going to restore investor confidence in Yukon - not one. Yes, we're going to throw a few more dollars into the mining incentive program, and we're going to throw a few more dollars into this and that. But, Mr. Speaker, if you even look at the minuscule amount of dollars spent in mining and mining exploration by the mining community itself here in Yukon this last year, it is but a mere shadow of what it has been in the past or what it could be currently. That's just the mining community. The same holds true for the oil and gas industry.
Mr. Speaker, we only have to look at our neighbours in the Northwest Territories. Let's look at one little company, which has now been bought out - Anderson Exploration.
They have a $370-million program in work committed in the Mackenzie Delta and in shallow portions of the Beaufort Sea. And furthermore, a just-fabricated, top-of-the-line rig - Rig No. 63 - costing some $18 million, has been purchased and shipped up to Hay River, up to Tuktoyaktuk. It will be going to work this winter. And guess what? The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation has decided to put their money where their mouth is. They are a 50-percent partner in that Rig No. 63. They are a 50-percent partner in a private company that is investing in the north.
The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation will be training a lot of their First Nation workers and they will be working on not just that rig, but all of the other Anderson rigs. So what we have, just over a little artificial border, is a First Nation group that is not only investing in the resource sector, but it is participating in it. They are participating in the exploration, production and transmission of the products.
We have the same opportunities here but no ability by this government to attract that kind of investment here in Yukon.
And why? Because this government is too busy creating a whole series of interlocking parks, which has destroyed investor confidence, Mr. Speaker.
This government had an opportunity to look at parks, put a cap on the number of parks or the number of hectares that were going to be removed for park purposes, but they have chosen not to, Mr. Speaker. Parks are now encompassing mining claims, or the way that parks are configured, backed up against other lands or First Nation lands; there's no access to the mining claims. It is this government, Mr. Speaker, that has done this. They have done it with respect to Tombstone and done it with respect to the park next to the Kluane Game Sanctuary.
Now, why? Why would they do that, Mr. Speaker, when it sends a very clear message to the mining community, "Hey, you'd best stay away from here. You don't know what's going to happen to your mining claims." So the mining community has just backed off.
We've got the oil and gas community staying away; we've got the mining community staying away. Look at the forestry. There was an opportunity for this government to go to their federal masters and allow their federal masters to pull their puppet strings and give them THAs in southeast Yukon and keep 125 Yukoners employed. But they chose not to. That was a political decision. That was a political decision - and a bad one - to create all of these parks and encompass the mining claims so they're inaccessible, Mr. Speaker. It is a political decision by this Liberal government to not intervene with respect to THAs. That is a bad decision once again.
And all of that information could have been dealt with and would have been supported by the opposition, had it come before this Legislature. It didn't. The government of the day was questioned on a few of these initiatives. They chose to run and hide, or ignore them, or deny them or, indeed, in the case of parks and the creation of parks, deny they had any knowledge of the creation of new parks.
Mr. Speaker, it's a sad day for Yukon when the government of the day will not take ownership for the poor decisions as well as the good decisions that they may make. But certainly the poor decisions and bad decisions outweigh the good decisions.
Restoring investor confidence in Yukon is the first step that this government should be undertaking to renew its contract with the people of the Yukon. This renewal-of-government initiative that is highlighted throughout this mandate in this past period of time will only go to further demoralize the public sector.
It was interesting in Question Period today when I pointed out to the minister that about the only area that the Premier seems to be concentrating on is that, unless the people of the Yukon pay attention to what is transpiring with this renewal, they won't know where to go to buy their drivers' licences - my gosh, what an attitude from a Premier, what an approach.
You know, you just have to put your head down in shame that you're even associated with a government that is so naive as to make a statement in that direction.
Speaker: Order please. The member has two minutes to conclude.
Mr. Jenkins: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
That position taken by this government with respect to renewal manifests itself across all departments, and it appears to originate from political direction, right from the top. That, Mr. Speaker, is appalling.
Mr. Speaker, with respect to this motion, it is a good motion and a positive motion. If this Liberal government wants to work in this Legislature, and wants to accomplish something, all they have to do is be forthright in their provision of the information and be able to answer questions, which many of the ministers cannot or will not. That results in umpteen legislative returns that are, by and large, totally unnecessary, but are due, in large part, to the minister's incompetence, and that is sad.
Mr. Speaker, in opposition, it is our responsibility to hold and keep the government accountable and to conduct the business of Yukon. We want that opportunity. I would encourage this Liberal government to look in the mirror to see what the problem is - because the image will be right there.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. McLachlan: Mr. Speaker, it's not my intent this afternoon to tie up the amount of time that the Member for Watson Lake has used up in his diatribe about everything and anything. I will only talk about that related to a 25-day session.
Let me say to the member, though, that we're pleased over here on this side that members there - and we hope, eventually, from what I heard from the Member for Klondike - that they're finally getting on side and are prepared to do the work. Finally, it's coming together. We're really glad to see that.
Now, the members on the opposite side would probably dispute the issue, but we've been working hard on this side of the House to ensure that the business can be conducted in a reasonable manner. We've been doing that since we were elected into government, and we've been governing since then. Let me point out a few examples to the members opposite that illustrate that. We made changes to the procedures to see that this can happen. That wasn't the case when the members opposite were in government. They tabled their budget one day, expected responses the next day. That only gave opposition parties a few hours in some cases to prepare and that clearly showed us that they didn't care in any shape or way. Mr. Speaker, the Yukon Party, when they were in power some many distant years ago, weren't any better. But since we've been in government, we've tabled budgets on a Thursday in order to give members opposite plenty of time to work over the weekends so they can prepare their material - that is, Mr. Speaker, if we can ever get members on that side to work on Fridays, as members on this side do continually.
We have done this because we recognize it's the job of the opposition and they need the material in time to prepare questions. We're not afraid of being accountable to them. The members haven't even given opposition members that type of courtesy and respect. They threw the budget speech out and said, "We're talking about it tomorrow." We've done the very best to ensure that members opposite get the material on Thursdays so we can begin work almost four full days later.
Mr. Speaker, this government has been very organized with business for this session. We've tabled every known legislative piece on the second day. That has never been done by members opposite. That has provided the members with plenty of opportunity to review the legislation, if they avail themselves of that opportunity. They could talk to their advisors. They even can go home on the weekends to their ridings and talk to their constituents.
When they were in government, they tabled the legislation when they wanted to deal with it, and often introduced legislation just when they wanted to introduce it, without any prior notice and without any time for members on this side to consider it. This is hardly conducive to effective legislation and time management in this Legislature.
Another simple, important change that we've often done, which the members opposite have suddenly found an aversion to, is that we provide notice to those members opposite when our members are going to be out of the Chamber. For some reason, they find that discourteous.
The members opposite didn't do that when they were in government. They couldn't be bothered, didn't care, didn't matter - no consideration. And they didn't have any desire to effectively manage their time, and ours, in the Legislature.
Now, last night, when I considered what I would say today to this motion, I scratched my head and wondered if the Member for Watson Lake and his members were finally coming to the table. There was some hope out there that the members were going to be prepared to do business - faint, at times, I admit, as that hope may be. We believe maybe they really want to do the work, they really want to ask the questions, they really want to research the good legislation. It looked very interesting. But by midnight, I simply couldn't buy that argument.
Often it is said, for the members opposite, that the best indicator of any future performance is past performance. Look what those results have done. The members move from that side to this side. That is their indicator. When we look at the past performance, we clearly see that they have no desire to conduct the business of the Legislature in a reasonable manner. My colleague from Lake Laberge has clearly pointed out, when she spoke earlier in the day, the antics of the members opposite, specifically, the Member for Watson Lake, who is clearly gunning for another position or job someday when he is out of public life. Based upon what we saw today, it only has to be one - he clearly wants to be the circus clown.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Speaker: Member for Watson Lake, on a point of order.
Mr. Fentie: Based on recent and past rulings, I would submit to this House that the Member for Faro's comments are unparliamentary and I would ask him, respectfully, to retract "circus clown" because that kind of comment has no place in this Legislative Assembly.
Speaker: Member for Whitehorse Centre, on the point of order.
Mr. McLarnon: On the point of order, the last time I checked, circus clown is a paid and honourable position in our society that no one demeans and, in fact, is trained in some of our schools in this society. I cannot see how, in any way, that would be demeaning.
Speaker: I have Beauchesne's right in front of me. Someplace in here I did see a reference to clown or clownery as being, if not unparliamentary, certainly an attempt to create disorder in the House.
I think I will have to rule with the Member for Watson Lake that that's not proper use of terminology in the House. I would ask the members just to be judicious in their comments. I am not going to ask it to be withdrawn, I would just ask members to be more judicious.
I ask the Member for Faro to please continue.
Mr. McLachlan: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Very clearly, we can see by the antics of the members opposite that they have no intention whatsoever of conducting their business, their questioning, in any manner that would be a demonstration of good opposition from that side of the Legislature. They are purposely trying to waste time or, worse, they haven't even done their homework. By the nature of any of their questions, it's often difficult to tell.
I ask myself why the Member for Watson Lake is putting forward his motion today, considering specifically his past performance. Have he and his colleagues finally decided to mend their ways? Hardly, it would seem. Have they finally decided to conduct the business of the Legislature in a timely and efficient manner, one that might be in the best interests of the public? I hardly think so, Mr. Speaker.
The member opposite has put forward this motion because he has been caught. The public isn't naive, Mr. Speaker. They saw the games the opposition played last time and they're seeing them again this time, and they want them stopped. The member opposite can't help himself. His objective is to continue with the games on the floor of this Legislature when he knew that the responsible place to have this debate was in the SCREP meetings. There wasn't any reason to continue with showmanship on this side of the Legislature.
At the meetings, our government talked about putting time allocation in the Standing Orders. This would have done effectively what the Member for Watson Lake has put forward, only we were trying to be responsible and they weren't.
We felt this debate would be best in SCREP, not during the sitting of the Legislature. The member opposite clearly has the intention of wasting more time and putting off getting to the business of the Legislature. The proposal that we put forward at SCREP, Mr. Speaker, was a real proposal; it was enforceable, yet the official opposition and the third party rejected the proposal. Why? They don't want to work reasonably and effectively because they didn't even want a real proposal. What they proposed instead was that we sign yet another memorandum of understanding, one just like the members broke - not on one, not on two, but on three previous occasions. Mr. Speaker, the Yukon public are well aware that the opposition members haven't lived up to any of the agreements that they've signed. Why would we expect them to live up to one now?
This motion by the Member for Watson Lake is nothing but a thinly disguised attempt from the members opposite to appear to be interested in having the Legislature sit for a reasonable amount of time. The motion is not enforceable and, considering broken promises of the past from the members opposite, it's really, I'm sorry to say, simply not worth the paper that it's written on.
However, we on this side are willing to take the members up on the idea. They believe 25 days is a reasonable amount of time to conclude the business of the Legislature, but I'm willing to give the Member for Watson Lake the benefit of the doubt. Last weekend when he worked on this proposal - we realize he had a hard weekend, he had a couple of meetings to attend - he forgot part of the motion.
I'm going to propose an amendment to the motion that helps the Member for Watson Lake clear up his memory gaps - one that will clearly show a commitment to the reasonable conduct in the Legislature by the Member for Watson Lake and the other members of his party. I think the members opposite will really like the amendment and will be sure - when they see it, they will realize that they simply forgot to mention their responsibility in the motion.
Mr. McLachlan: Mr. Speaker, I would like to propose that Motion No. 141 be amended by deleting everything after the word "period" in the third paragraph and substituting the words "THAT this House urges all members to conduct themselves in an open, cooperative and forthcoming manner at all times in this Assembly."
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Faro that Motion No. 141 be amended by deleting everything after the word "period" in the third paragraph and substituting the words "THAT this House urges all members to conduct themselves in an open, cooperative and forthcoming manner at all times in this Assembly."
Mr. McLachlan: I won't speak long on this amendment, Mr. Speaker, because it's quite self-explanatory, as the members opposite can see. I wanted to remove the reference to the memorandum of understanding. The members opposite are fully aware that they don't adhere to it.
There won't be any reason to expect they would adhere to it now. Rather than have the members opposite break it once again, we're giving them an opportunity to just set it aside altogether. I've amended the motion to urge all members of this Legislature to conduct themselves in an open, cooperative and forthcoming manner. Who could object to that? That hasn't been the practice of the members in the past. Now, they can demonstrate that opportunity. We should all strive to conduct ourselves in a proper and positive manner. The Yukon public has asked for it.
I'm pleased to see the members opposite are open to the idea of allocating a specific period of time to the business of the Legislature, and they've recognized their behaviour in the past, at times, as not always being in the best interests of the Legislature. I'm confident that the members opposite will see this amendment in the very constructive light in which it has been put forward.
With that, I will, much to everyone's surprise, thank the Member for Watson Lake for bringing forward this motion. I hope that the members opposite will accept the amendment and support the concept of doing whatever we all can to ensure that the work of this Legislature is conducted in an effective and efficient manner.
Speaker: The Member for Watson Lake, on the amendment.
Mr. Fentie: Well, initially, I could agree with the Member for Faro, in his comment about all the members conducting themselves in this light and in this manner. However, I want to point out firstly that the amendment from the Member for Faro does change the body of the motion considerably in two ways.
Let me expand on that, Mr. Speaker. In the first place, the Member for Faro just stood on his feet in this Legislative Assembly and accused the opposition side of not adhering to the existing agreement that we conduct ourselves by in terms of timelines in this Legislative Assembly. I must point out that the member is incorrect.
I would also point out that the member said that the official opposition and third party refused to take this matter up at SCREP and debate this particular issue in the committee to see if we could find some resolution. Again, Mr. Speaker, I point out that the Member for Faro is incorrect and has simply missed what has really gone on here.
Firstly, with regard to his comment when it comes to the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges - and I want to draw the members' attention to the most recent minutes of that very committee meeting. When the Member for Faro says that we did not address this issue in the committee where he believes it should have been addressed, let me quote from section (c) in the minutes, which is labelled "Adherence to the memorandum of understanding" - it states: "Mr. Fentie stated that he wished to put on record the position of the official opposition that the memorandum of understanding found in Addendum 2 of the Standing Orders of the Yukon Legislative Assembly should apply to the 2001 fall sitting. Mr. Fentie stated that this commitment included adhering to the 25-day limit for the length of the sitting." It goes on further to say, Mr. Speaker: "Mr. Jenkins stated that his position was the same as that of the official opposition."
In other words, in contradiction to what the Member for Faro has just provided this House in his response to the motion, here is proof positive that he is incorrect, that we did deal with this issue in the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges.
Let me go further. The Member for Faro has accused the opposition side of not adhering to that agreement. Let me finish this section of the minutes. "The Hon. Mrs. Edelman stated that the government members did not support the position expressed by Mr. Fentie."
In other words, Mr. Speaker, in the Standing Committee, when the official opposition made every attempt to ensure that we conducted this Assembly in the manner that it should be, in accordance with the addendum to the rules of this Assembly, it was the government side that disagreed and did not intend to conduct themselves in accordance with the rules and the addendum.
So the Member for Faro is wrong completely. That lends credence to my argument that his amendment completely changes the spirit and the intent of the motion.
Furthermore, it is very evident, Mr. Speaker, that the Member for Faro ignores this very, very disturbing matter here that took place in the Standing Committee and that is why we, the official opposition, brought forward such a motion. We brought this motion forward with good reason. We brought it forward because it was evident in the committee that is charged to deal with these issues, that the members from the Liberal side had no intention of honouring the agreement. Therefore, because of the fact that they did not agree with the 25-day timeline, we put in, "THAT this House urges the Yukon Liberal government to conduct itself in an open, cooperative and forthcoming manner in responding to questions from opposition members so that it will be possible to conclude the business at hand in a timely and effective manner consistent with the spirit and the letter of Addendum 2."
The content and body of the motion brought forward by the official opposition is directly attached to existing rules by which we operate in this Assembly. The Liberal benches are not adhering to those rules. They are breaking with tradition and the standards of this Assembly and have no intention of honouring a 25-day commitment. They have no intention of being open and accountable, have no intention of being forthcoming, have no intention of ensuring that the opposition side can do its job as it was elected to do, and have every intention of evading, stonewalling and hiding from scrutiny.
Mr. Speaker, this is deeply concerning. The members opposite are trying to restrict and diminish the opposition's ability to debate the public's business. I can't support this amendment, although I will give full marks for the Member for Faro's attempt at trying to convince members on this side of the House that the government members will conduct themselves in that open and accountable manner. But how can I trust that and how can I believe that, when the member did not even correctly stand on his feet in this House and relay to this Assembly what took place in the standing committee - what was really happening in that standing committee - and why we tabled this motion. Furthermore, it's the same member who accused this side of the House, before this House even convened, of filibustering the budget. I have never, ever seen such a despicable approach to addressing the integrity of this Assembly, and I'm sure the Member for Faro knows better. The Member for Faro has been here before, Mr. Speaker.
And I take you back to a problem here, I believe. There's no leadership for that member.
He's a loose cannon out on his own, coming up with all these inventions. And what really boggles the mind is the member was present at this SCREP meeting where these minutes were constructed.
Now, for the member's benefit, I will table the minutes from the SCREP meeting so that they can familiarize themselves with what has really taken place and how they disagree with adhering to the addendum that commits us to 25 days, how it's their intention of not allowing the opposition benches to do their job and conduct themselves in a constructive manner. The Liberals opposite should be ashamed. Shame on those Liberals. Look what they're doing. They can't even recite in this Legislative Assembly simple minutes of a committee that met a few short days ago - unbelievable, unbelievable. What are we going to do, Mr. Speaker?
I think that the members should do the honourable thing, retract their amendment, and get serious about what we have brought forward. We are saying and committing to the Yukon public, by the way, Mr. Speaker, which is a very important element here - we are committing to the Yukon public that we will conclude the public's business in 25 days, as laid out in Addendum 2, and we are saying that it's on condition that the members opposite conduct themselves in a manner that allows that to take place.
What the member should have done, in terms of an amendment, is adding to the motion as it exists, not detracting from the motion. And I would suggest that that would mean that an amendment would come forward outlining how the members opposite, the Liberals, were going to honour the commitment in responding to questions and in conducting the business in an open, cooperative and forthcoming manner.
That's what an amendment should be. We in the opposition did not just fall off the turnip truck. We know what the members opposite are up to here. It's called closure. And we have stated clearly, beyond any doubt, that we will not allow closure to take place in this Assembly, and we will use whatever means available to us, the opposition, to ensure that the Liberal government does not invoke closure, to ensure that the Liberal government is here, scrutinized, held accountable for their actions, for their decisions, for their expenditures, to ensure that what they do does not negatively impact the lives of Yukoners although, over the last 18 months, that impact has been very, very negative.
I'm shocked by the actions of the Member for Faro - truly shocked. I have a very friendly offer for the Member for Faro. Let's go sit down, have a coffee, and talk about this, because I think - and I'm going to give the benefit of the doubt to the Member for Faro - he doesn't understand. This is what the problem is.
First off, he has no direction because there's no leadership. Secondly, he doesn't really understand, so he's firing off in all directions. I think it's called madly off in all directions, if I remember correctly, Mr. Speaker. This can't continue.
Now, they accuse the opposition benches of wasting time. Well, what do we call this amendment? What do we call the comments and the response from the Member for Faro, when he incorrectly informed the House of what was taking place in the committee charged with dealing with these issues?
What do we tell our public when the Member for Faro stands on his feet and reads an amendment into the record that ignores the Liberals' end of the bargain? We cannot allow this to continue, and I would suggest that the Liberals, the members opposite, give due and serious consideration to what they're up to here. I know where they're angling. We in the official opposition and third party know where they're angling. They're heading for closure. They don't want to be here. They want the hammer.
Now, I have something else to say to the members opposite, Mr. Speaker. We on this side of the House would rather be a hammer than a nail, and we're not going to allow the members to hammer the opposition into submission. We will reciprocate.
So, let's get away from all this nonsense. If the members had any desire to conduct themselves in this cooperative, open, accountable and forthcoming manner, they would stand up and amend our motion in a friendly way, explaining how they were going to do it. Then we could vote on it, because it would receive unanimous consent in this Legislative Assembly, and the Yukon public would be all the better for it.
Instead, we get an amendment such as this and a diatribe by the Member for Faro in a feeble attempt at discrediting me, the Member for Watson Lake. But I'm not going to bite on that, Mr. Speaker. Not at all. What I do have a problem with, though, is how the Liberals are conducting themselves and why they are so bent on invoking closure in this Legislature.
They've tried it before; it didn't work. I urge them not to try it again. It will receive the same response from the opposition. Why do that when we can get on with conducting the public's business?
Now, I would also give the Member for Faro one more benefit of the doubt. Maybe he didn't write this particular amendment. So then I must say to the members opposite, "Sit down and discuss this with whoever wrote this amendment and explain to them what the gist of this motion is and explain to them why this amendment simply will not fly." It can't work, Mr. Speaker; it doesn't address the issues. It does not address the fact that the Liberals are on record stating that they will not honour the agreement and the addendum as attached to the Standing Orders, and that is a real problem.
Furthermore, the Liberals are continually trying to offload their responsibility on this side of the House in their inability to manage the affairs of this territory and conduct themselves in a constructive and expeditious manner when it comes to the public's business in this Assembly. This is not good, Mr. Speaker. This is not good for the members opposite, this is not good for the integrity of this Assembly, and this is certainly not good for the Yukon public, whom we are here to represent and protect and whom we work for.
If we were out there in the private sector, actions like this would result in dismissal. It's called "walking papers". We would be gone.
Now, come on. Mr. Speaker, the members opposite, I know, realized what's up here. And I know the members opposite can do much better. I'm trying to get them to do better. That's our job, too. As opposition members, it's our job to try and improve the government of the day, and Lord knows there's lots of room for that to happen.
And this is one particular area that should be quite simple. All they have to do is hold up their end of the bargain. We're going to hold up ours; we've committed to it. We're willing to put it on record. We're willing to vote on it; we're willing to pass it. We're willing to hold up our end of the bargain. The Liberals have to hold up their end of the bargain, though. It's all about making a deal. And to a great degree, that's what politics is all about. We provide constructive suggestions, we discuss, we debate. At the end of it all, what should be happening is that we improve the lives of the people in this territory that we represent, and we do it collectively. So far, the members opposite have completely lost that fundamental principle of being politicians. My, my, what a shame - 18 months wasted.
Speaker: Order please. The member has two minutes to complete.
Mr. Fentie: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Eighteen months wasted, people's lives getting worse in this territory, more and more people leaving, good people - capacity, talent - all leaving this territory. Where are we heading? We've waited those 18 long months for the members opposite to provide that road map. Well, we're still stuck in the starting blocks. We don't know where to go because there's no leadership for this territory.
I think that this amendment to a very well-constructed motion, offering to do the right thing, is an example of their inability to grasp what's going on.
Mr. Speaker, I urge the members opposite to come down from that throne, think about what leadership and one of the most important qualities of leadership is all about - it's called being humble. If we can get to that stage, maybe we can get through some of this and get on with doing the proper job, on behalf of the members opposite, that they were elected to do, because we are, in the official opposition - and indeed the third party - holding up our end of the bargain. We are doing what we were elected to do. We are holding the members opposite accountable for their actions.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. McLarnon: Mr. Speaker, I rise today, probably with the background knowledge I have had through negotiations in the SCREP committee, with incredulity and absolute amazement that this is coming across from people who will not negotiate, in any sense, in good faith a conclusion to this agreement. I guess the reason is because we are dealing with people who have been claiming all day long that the government is not understanding its role. But this is from people who have no idea what "effective opposition" is - have no idea.
When the newspapers in our society are becoming, and describe themselves as, the official opposition to this government, it shows you how ineffective the opposition is in this society. The only way this opposition can get any press or any attention - because they do not do their work outside of this session. I know that because I happened to watch the newspapers over the summer, and happened to watch the parking lot over the summer. As I came across to work every day this summer, I saw the cars of the opposition members noticeably absent. As I went to their communities, I noticed that no opposition members were monitoring us at community meetings. When I saw, with the notable exception of the member from the Yukon Party, the absence of letters there, except for maybe a couple of letters written in the ghost hand of the leader of the official opposition, I saw an absence of opposition.
What I credit in our society right now is the notable and vigilant press we have in our society to raise issues in the absence of effective opposition.
What is effective opposition? Effective opposition is raising issues on their own through political philosophy. Policy is the reason we come here to understand what is legislation. Instead, what do we get? I will name - and, Mr. Speaker, I'll have to do this. I'm going to have to name members on my side by name because these are the names, and -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McLarnon: Okay, then. I will do it by riding.
The Member for Whitehorse Centre, the Member for Porter Creek North, the Member for Porter Creek South, the Member for Lake Laberge, the Member for Whitehorse West - extremely honourable people who have given their lives to public service, being slandered in this House, personally attacked in this House. They are only doing their job. They are only asking. Instead of attacking policy, what do we see? We see an opposition that cries "wolf" every time they see a dachshund. We see an opposition - every scent they get obviously leads to something that we did wrong rather than to an understanding that the stink they may be scenting is the scent remaining from the previous government and the horrible rot that is left in this society.
What I'm asking the opposition to understand is that that is not tolerable. The Yukon public is sick of it and if you want to be effective opposition, do your job. Do your job.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McLarnon: The Member from Ross River-Southern Lakes has invited me to have another drink. What I would suggest to him is that, if he is going to choose his medications in this House, we may want to describe other medications that other people in this House may take.
The reason why I am answering that way, Mr. Speaker, is because the innuendo has to stop. We are here to talk about policy in the job of opposition. We are not here to talk about -
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Speaker: Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes, on a point of order.
Mr. Keenan: I don't mind a tirade in the House. I mean, it's probably good and healthy for the House and it may be some people's only style, but I would appreciate it if the member would speak into the mic and use the mic. There are people here who are disadvantaged in hearing.
Speaker: The Member for Whitehorse Centre, on the point of order.
Mr. McLarnon: I will move my microphone. I have no problem with that. Thank you. And I will continue.
The comments from the other side were based on innuendo, were based on the fact that a rumour running around the street has now become fact to them. Rumours are used on both sides. What you see on this side right now, Mr. Speaker, is the high road. The people on this side have not chosen to use personal politics as a method to raise attention to issues. Why we don't do that is because the second that you use personal politics, the issue and the policy disappear. It isn't effective to good government and it is not effective to why we are here. If somebody wants to do that, they can do it just as easily on the street corner, in the union hall, in the coffee shop; it's not the place for it in the Legislature as we have it. There is no respect. That respect is total when we look at this entire Legislature and the way that the opposition is treating it.
This is not a press gallery. This is not a chance for a 30-minute press conference, as long and as many times as you can hold it. What we see here is complete and utter contempt for this House in the motion that was granted, in the way it was presented.
The members opposite remind me of a very old story, one that I learned from an old businessman. He was talking about a man who lost his restaurant. What happened is that his waitresses wouldn't serve people on time. People eventually didn't go there. The complaint was no service. His buddy brought him over and explained to him exactly what would happen if he got good service. At that time, the napkin was laid out, the menu was laid out, the service was given, and the only thing that that person complained about after that, after he had lost his business to no service, was the price.
The simple fact is that what we have here is an opposition that was previously government, that didn't deliver any service to their opposition, didn't deliver any consent or goodwill to the opposition and, now, expects this as service. When they get it, they have no idea what it means or why they're getting it. But they can always expect more. So what they want now is a lower price.
Well, the lower price that they're going to get is coming. The simple fact of the matter is that what they're going to see is a more effective government, more effective leadership, because we're learning and we're getting better every day. What we're seeing from opposition is less effective opposition, and getting worse.
You know why, Mr. Speaker? Their time in government is getting further and further removed. Their attachment to the policies of the government is becoming further and further removed. Their attachment to the reality of government, if it was ever there, is now non-existent.
What we see in opposition is a bitter group of people standing here, not accepting in any way the fact that they lost the election, the fact that the Yukon public decided that they needed a better standard of decorum, better standard of service from their elected officials. When they are being challenged, Mr. Speaker, to deliver that in opposition, I can understand their apprehension. They never delivered that in government, so why would they even bother trying now in opposition?
First of all, the motion that we have in front of us, and I'll speak to it for a second here, is completely frivolous. The amended motion still does not speak to the problem, that they had a chance to put their money where their mouth was in SCREP and make this part of the Standing Orders. They would not go that far, but now they're asking us to trust them again. Three times burned, Mr. Speaker, should be a good reason not to put your hand in the fire again. And this is the government that will not accept that.
And I also notice, very conveniently, that this motion is presented by the official opposition. The official opposition has been an amazingly good group of filibusterers. They've kept themselves in the headlines approximately double the time that most governments have seen as reasonable, and the only reason why is it takes them twice as much time to get their message out.
But the other group that's not in this is the Yukon Party and the Member for Klondike, and the reason why that's important is because we know who gums up the machinery. We know the opposition plays good cop-bad cop. We know one guy can be good and the next guy can be bad. We have had the experience, three sessions, 90 days, more time than has been required in any of the Yukon government history from a government, in fact, that at the time, tried to muzzle opposition, never informed opposition, never gave them briefing notes. All the goodwill that is being received by them as a result of fruitful negotiations in SCREP have never been received by oppositions when they stood as government.
So, are we going to have double standards? Are we going to have double standards? The Member for Kluane asked me, since we were talking earlier about personal assassinations and character assassinations, even though the Member for Kluane has read the Hughes report and even though the Member for Kluane knows that I, as a member, have been completely and utterly exonerated by the Hughes report - in fact, the complaints by the Member for Kluane were found frivolous and, in another aside, almost to the point of getting to allegations that could be brought in front of this House. And in fact, if they were done the other way, the Member for Kluane may have been disciplined.
But the Member for Kluane has just asked me what I had done with the money from the incident that happened in December over the Beringia contract. It's a record of the House. I was exonerated, but this still isn't dropped. The reason why? The opposition is more interested in personally attacking members of this side of the House than attacking the policies of this government. The reason why that won't work - and the Member for Kluane will never understand this because he's not from his riding, is that people in your riding know you. They know you won't lie. They know you won't be dishonest. I have that faith in my riding.
I ask the Member for Kluane: if we were to distribute all the information we have heard about him in the past to all his constituents, would he have that same benefit of doubt? We're not going to do it, and the reason why? We live on the high road. We are disgusted by people who live in the mud. We don't like them. We certainly don't like it when the subterfuge comes out. We don't like it when useless amendments come out that waste the time of this House, but we won't answer back. And the reason why is because the Yukon public is disgusted with the actions and words and the crying wolf of this opposition. The Member for Klondike will get his day, will get his judgement.
No, I said the Member for Klondike because there are spurious allegations which I won't talk about here. There are other spurious allegations that have been raised and with hue and cry, with no backing raised to waste the minds -
Point of order
Speaker: Leader of the third party, on a point of order.
Mr. Jenkins: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. The Member for Whitehorse Centre is casting aspersions on the characters of the Member for Kluane and me. He is not substantiating any of the allegations; he is just bringing them forward.
Speaker: Member for Whitehorse Centre, on the point of order.
Mr. McLarnon: On the point of order, the aspersions I have cast upon the Member for Kluane are based on fact with the Hughes report. I have nothing further to say. It is all in a report that I will document and have tabled in this House.
Speaker: Leader of the official opposition, on the point of order.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, I asked you to make and give some direction in this House. The Member for Whitehorse Centre is way off base. He is not talking to the amendments of the motion, like he should be, and he is way off. And all it is for him is to criticize people on this side of the House.
Speaker: Order please. If the Chair were to address straying from the topic this afternoon - several times this afternoon the Chair was wondering if the remarks were relevant to the issue at hand here. The member who had the floor has been accused of attacking the Member for Kluane. The Chair tries not to have too sensitive ears, but the Chair did overhear the Member for Kluane kind of starting the issue here by talking to - I don't know the proper word. I was going to say "goading the Member for Whitehorse Centre". But anyway, the whole debate is getting away from professionalism and getting personal.
I am not going to call for a break this afternoon. I maybe should have, but I am not going to call for a break. I am just going to ask the members to be a little more judicious in their words, and I realize it is getting late and it is awfully warm in here.
Can we continue and just try not to use language or heckle with language and words and so on that are likely to create disorder in this House?
Speaker: With that, I'll ask the Member for Whitehorse Centre to continue.
Mr. McLarnon: Mr. Speaker, the whole point of the issue was to give the opposition a small smattering of what personal assassination and character assassination feels like. They wouldn't have an idea, though they have been delivering it. They wouldn't have an idea. Even though they get it from their constituents, it's not on record. I know that, because I have been to their ridings. So, they wouldn't have an idea of what that's like in the Legislature, because they sit in opposition. We don't focus on their behaviour.
The point of the matter, though, is that this motion does focus on their behaviour because it certainly does not, in any way, reflect the realities of this House. The realities of this House are that we have, many times, tried to find a way to have the opposition hold to their word that they will, in fact, respect an MOU or agreement that they have made with this party. We have had that broken so continuously that really, this is not worth the paper it's written on - one cent. Nothing else. The reason for it is that they won't go the extra step and will not even include the member of the third party in it. It's worthless - absolutely worthless.
So for us to look at this as a constructive debate has no possibility of happening, and the reason is because this is like asking somebody who has bitten you, and will bite you again, not to bite you, as they're sharpening their teeth. We're not going to believe it. This is political posturing. It's another example of wasting time in the House, and that's what this was put forward for - to waste another Wednesday, even though in SCREP we had asked the opposition to consider using Wednesdays in a productive manner and to take individual member statements and issues separately and create another time for it.
It is an effective idea used in other legislatures but no, the opposition would prefer to use this day to completely and utterly waste the time of the taxpayers and of the government in debating frivolous motions for political ends. That's all this is. This has no use in this House and the Member for Watson Lake who introduced this has done nothing except incite more useless debate. I include my statements and the two hours - and I will document them - two hours of drivel that flowed from the "Hyland hyena", that I will now call him.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I certainly will not in any way consider -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Speaker: Order. Order please. Order please.
Leader of the third party, on a point of order.
Mr. Jenkins: That statement is a complete derogatory statement against the Member for Watson Lake. It's not deserving of being presented in this Legislature, Mr. Speaker. I would urge you to consider the context in which it was said.
Withdrawal of remark
Mr. McLarnon: Mr. Speaker, I withdraw the statement.
Speaker: I find that it is an insulting statement; however, the member has withdrawn the statement. He stood up and withdrew it.
The leader of the third party, on the amendment.
Mr. Jenkins: On the amendment, Mr. Speaker, I've listened quite extensively to the debate here in this Legislature. There were some very good points brought forward by the Member for Watson Lake, but the Member for Faro chose to ignore the points and chose to concentrate on virtually destroying the whole context of the motion that we have for debate, and he did so by amending that motion, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, what we have before us is a motion that, on the surface, is workable as long as all parties agree to follow the MOU and that it forms and is part of it. Removing that MOU basically guts the whole motion.
It's no deep, dark secret that the Liberals want to remove 10 sitting days that we spend in total in this Legislature. And if this motion is agreed to as amended, Mr. Speaker, what it suggests is that we could get by with two 25 sitting-day sessions - one in the spring and one in the fall - because the Liberals have chosen to move the capital component of the budget to the fall. And in the fall, with the capital component there, that is the most politically sensitive and usually demanding task of this Legislature to examine and debate, because the capital budget is very politically motivated. The O&M budget in the spring is simply that - an O&M budget that requires scrutiny and examination because of the foolishness of the government of the day to properly follow through with these expenditures. But if this motion is approved or is agreed to by this Legislature, it tells that we do not need to be here for the entire period of time. We only need to be here for 25 days in the fall, 25 days in the spring, because the capital budget is out of the spring session.
And that is an inaccurate reflection of how business will be conducted in this Legislature.
Mr. Speaker, it will serve to neuter the whole Legislature with that kind of restriction on the time we spend here. The Liberals have been adamant in their position - they don't want to be here, number one. That's a given. Number two, they want to remove 10 days from this session. They want to remove debate from this session, and the length of time that we can speak to any issue was one of the items on the plate for discussion, and a considerable reduction was proposed by the Liberals.
Also, closure - Mr. Speaker, all these initiatives were advanced because the government of the day does not know how to handle itself in the Legislature and is probably ashamed of how it conducts business here in this Legislature. That's the reality of the situation.
Now, here is an opportunity for this Liberal government to agree to a program to advance the information, and to agree to an MOU. At SCREP the other day, they said, "We don't agree with that," which suggests to me and, I'm sure, to the official opposition, that we had better watch because something is coming down the road. Just by the extent of the debate here on this motion, Mr. Speaker, it tells a very telling tale, and that tale is that, by maintaining the fall at 25 days, taking the capital budget out of the spring and moving it to the fall, we don't need to be here in the spring for the full 35 days. We can reduce the spring, because all the substantive legislation is presented in the fall.
Well, Mr. Speaker, the first indication that we had that all the legislation had been tabled was when the Liberals admitted that in this Legislature. It wasn't the position of the government House leader and House leaders. We were left up in the air with respect to all of the legislation having been tabled, and that is not fair. It sends a very mixed message.
The Member for Whitehorse Centre went on at great length to speak about respect. Mr. Speaker, I'm sure Yukon and Yukoners have great respect for the office that we all hold - whether it be a Cabinet office, whether it be an opposition member. From there, respect is earned; it's not given. And unfortunately that process for this Liberal government has fallen down. When they look for someone to blame for that respect being eroded, as I said earlier, they only have one place to look, and that's in the mirror. They could see very clearly, if they would indeed turn the lights on and open their eyes, whom to blame for their shortcomings and their failures.
There's no such thing as good will in political office. There's no such thing as good will. We are here to represent our constituency and, indeed, to represent Yukon.
We should all be attempting to do the best we can. That's not the case here today, Mr. Speaker. It's clearly demonstrated by this Yukon Liberal government, and it's disappointing, Mr. Speaker, in that they have most of the necessary tools to work with, that being a majority, that being money - a surplus of some $99 million. What is lacking is a political vision and the ability to do something here in the Yukon, to turn the economy around, put Yukoners to work, instill confidence in the government workforce, instill confidence in the investors, encourage them to come back like other jurisdictions have done. The footprint as to how to do it is not a great, big, fancy exercise. It's very simple, Mr. Speaker. I urge this government to look at this motion, to consider amending it back to what it originally was so that it will serve the purpose of this Assembly.
Failing that, I guess we just shake our heads once again. We could have accomplished something here this afternoon, but because of the failure of this Liberal government, we probably will not, and that will be amplified time and time again in this sitting by this novice Liberal government. Mr. Speaker, all I can say is I'm disappointed.
We have a very small population base. We are the most represented - probably overrepresented - population in Canada, if indeed not in North America, and probably in the world. Thanks to the largesse of the taxpayers in the rest of Canada, the amount of money that flows into the Yukon is unbelievable on a per capita basis. We have before us, when you add in the supplementary, the largest budget ever in the history of the Yukon Territory.
Now, I know that statement has been made before, but $600 million in O&M is a large amount of money, especially given that our population is probably not quite 30,000.
Mr. Speaker, I'd like to ask the government - this Liberal government, this novice Liberal government - to reconsider their position with respect to this motion, to put the MOU back in and to consider it as being part and parcel of this motion. With that, it will probably enjoy clear sailing through this Legislature.
I look forward to this support. I look forward to the government examining this in more detail and doing something to change the situation for the betterment of all Yukon.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to speak to the motion as amended. There's a reason why this motion was brought forward to the floor of this Legislature. It was because of what we saw and what the general public was seeing, that the members opposite, the government, were not doing, and that is what they promised to the general public to do: to be open and accountable, to be there for the people, improving the decorum in this House. That's one of the reasons why this was brought forward. With the responses we get from the government side, it certainly didn't prove that in this House.
Mr. Speaker, I'm very disappointed, on the government side, with the reaction to this motion. It wasn't because of knowing that government will invoke closure. It wasn't just because of that. It was because of past agreements being broken by this Liberal government. It was stated by the Member for Watson Lake, to SCREP, that we agreed to have 25 sitting days. This Liberal government didn't agree to that. And it's quite obvious that they still hold that in mind because of the amendments brought forward tonight on this particular motion.
I'd ask that we be open and that we conduct ourselves in a cooperative manner.
What was said before the motion was changed is that government do this, and the reasoning for that was what we weren't getting on this side of the House.
For example, the Member for Faro said they were organized and they do answer the questions that have been asked in this House, and they were getting back to the members opposite. I just want to bring the letter that was written to the government, and it actually was a letter written by the Member for Faro, and it was written to the Premier. It says, "I write in support of the Faro Labour Market Recovery Committee's attempts to incorporate under the name Faro Sustainable Development Corporation", and it talks about money. I won't read the whole letter out, but it talks about monies, and it asks the government, "Could you please advise as to when monies committed towards this project can be anticipated?" This was a letter written to government from the Member for Faro on September 28, 2000.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Speaker: Order please. The Member for Faro, on a point of order.
Mr. McLachlan: Mr. Speaker, the leader of the official opposition, in reading from a document, quoting in this Legislature must, under the rules of the Legislature, table the document so that all members have a fair chance to assess the merit or lack thereof that he's reading. The member is out of order. We have not had the opportunity to avail ourselves of the document.
Speaker: Leader of the official opposition, on the point of order.
Mr. Fairclough: On the point of order, if the member wishes, I can table this letter, Mr. Speaker. It's not a problem.
Speaker: If there are no other members to speak to this -
Mr. Fairclough: There was a point of order, and I thought that you would make a ruling on it.
Speaker: I was hoping to.
Speaker: I believe that, if the member wants to refer to the document, the member's going to have to table it. Otherwise it's incorrect to be referring to the document.
If the member wishes to table it, would he please table it?
Mr. Fairclough: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I said that I would like to table it for the members opposite, if they would like to see it. This was sent to government, so they already have this letter, Mr. Speaker. So, if I can continue - this was a letter that was written on September 28 -
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Speaker: The hon. Minister of Justice, on a point of order.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Members have asked that the document be tabled so that they can refer to it while the member opposite is referring to it. We would like that to happen now, please.
Speaker: Thank you. I believe that if a document is to be tabled, it must be tabled properly, which includes sufficient copies.
I ask the member to table it.
I am just trying to get some information on the point of order.
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Mr. Fairclough: Just so we can speed up the process here, I will table this letter.
Speaker: But it is my understanding that when a document is tabled, it must be tabled with sufficient copies and through the table so that all members can refer to it.
The problem I have is that I don't want to hold up debate here, waiting for the necessary copies. I want to do it correctly.
Speaker: Order please. I have had the opportunity to refer to Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules book and to receive some assistance. Quickly then, it is the Chair's decision that a document must be tabled if it is quoted from and if it is requested for tabling - then it must be tabled. However, for future reference, it is not required that all members receive a copy of the tabled document. That is to prevent the interruption of debate. Unfortunately, I wasn't clear on that prior to this; therefore, debate was interrupted. In future, however, we will not interrupt debate.
I would ask the member, has the document been tabled?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Speaker: I would ask the leader of the official opposition to continue, please.
Mr. Fairclough: It's quite obvious that the government on that side of the House is very touchy, and particularly in debating this motion.
Mr. Speaker, I was referring to a letter written by the Member for Faro on September 28, 2000. That letter was written to the Premier on September 28, 2000 - don't forget that date. Being organized and answering questions, this letter has not been answered yet.
That is what I was referring to. You can read the letter all you want.
Maybe the new Member for Faro can support the position that was taken in 2000.
I want to mention a couple of things that members opposite have said. One is that the Community and Transportation Services minister, in her response to this motion, said that we were asking the government to basically give out confidential information about negotiations. I don't think she could be further from the truth. If that were the case, then this Liberal government, when in opposition asking that type of question, believed that was what they were asking - to bring out confidential information.
More importantly, the minister said that they wanted the government to violate the negotiation process. That was coming from them. And it was hard to take, I guess, because I just couldn't believe that government would even say that, particularly a member of the Liberal government who is in Cabinet and who was sitting on this side of the House and asking questions of land claims of government on the other side of the House. What was admitted to in this House by the member responsible for Community and Transportation Services is that the Liberal government wanted to violate the process of negotiations. That is what was admitted here. It is plain and simple. If they were asking the questions and got the answer, and they believe that is what it's to be today, then that must be how they took it when they were in opposition.
It's absolutely embarrassing and shameful to look at it in that light.
On the other hand, Mr. Speaker, it also goes to show that this Liberal government has absolutely no idea of what "negotiation" is. I am referring back to this amendment to the motion and the main body of the motion. We ask questions of government regarding their responsibility and we get no answers; that is why this motion came forward about the 25 sitting days and their being open and accountable.
I asked a land claims question of the Premier and, to my surprise, the answer was, "I have not been briefed yet." That's what the answer was from the Premier: "I have not been briefed yet." Well, that's absolutely shocking. This is the top priority of this government and they were not even briefed while already passing a budget and into their second one - not even briefed on land claims. And still they put land claims as their number one, top priority and it's reflected in the budget objectives of Executive Council Office today. So where is that?
The other thing regarding keeping government accountable - if negotiations and concluding land claims are a top priority, why did we have such words about land claims missing from the budget speech. There was an update on Ta'an Kwach'an's ratification. Well, good. Just send a note around; that could have done that.
And then what was more embarrassing was the inclusion of $200,000 for planning of a cultural centre. That was a result of negotiations, and I was absolutely shocked. So members on this side of the House do have to ask questions over and over and over again to keep government accountable.
It's obvious that they have no leadership. They have demonstrated no vision in their year-and-a-half included in their third budget to be presented again to the public next summer. That's why we bring this motion forward and, also, to keep governments to their agreements. It's not once that they have broken agreements, it's many times. In my opinion, Mr. Speaker, even the Standing Orders were broken, and I refer again to the spring sitting where government may call legislation of a housekeeping nature for debate in the spring. The government may introduce legislation proposing major changes or initiatives in the spring sitting for debate in the fall sitting. So, clearly, the admittance of five pieces of legislation as presented in this House as substantive bills broke the rules, in my opinion, of the Standing Orders that we're all abiding by, Mr. Speaker.
It wasn't only that, but in SCREP, in trying to get some agreement out there about 25 sitting days, it wasn't this side of the House who broke the agreements. It wasn't the third party. It was government again. They did not abide by it and it was read out quite loud and clear - Ms. Edelman stated the government members did not support the position expressed by Mr. Fentie. So, that broke the rules, Mr. Speaker. It's one after another, and that's why we bring things forward.
Time and time again, we write letters to governments on behalf of our constituents. What we get back are non-answers, nothing about which I can say, "Look, they have actually done something toward your initiative."
Time and time again, the letters that come back are really nothing and could be referred to as not even responsive at all. Now, is that being organized and is that quickly answering the questions of the general public? I think not, Mr. Speaker.
Even with regard to major initiatives that were presented by government - for example, renewal. Just last night there was a meeting that took place. Only a handful of people, a very small percentage of the general public - when asked who is really wanting to restructure government at this point. It stumps the public. The Liberal Party could not answer them. And that's why we asked in the motion to have the government come forward and be open and cooperative and forthcoming in their answers. Is that too much to ask, given all of what took place over the last year and a half? Also, Mr. Speaker, we on this side of the House committed to 25 days, and it's a lot of responsibility on our shoulders. Government is changing things, changing the rules; and it may be for good reasons.
When government wants to change the capital budget to the fall, it may make some sense, but we would like to debate the capital budget. Normally, in a budget sitting, both O&M and capital, it's capital that's the one that's debated the most, so it takes a lot to go through this whole budget and really bring the views of the general public forward.
It's not only that, Mr. Speaker, but there are two supplementary budgets that government is asking us on this side of the House to approve and pass through this House. One, I believe, can go through in a matter of minutes. The other, I believe, needs to be scrutinized very closely. It is not a small amount.
If you go back a year, this Liberal government presented to the House a supplementary budget. And I take for example one particular department, Department of Community and Transportation Services - there was a $2-million increase to that budget. This year they present in the supplementary a 50-percent increase of their main budget. They are asking us to pass $26 million in this House. We need answers to give to our constituents; we need answers from government.
One of the things we would like to know is how this government is budgeting and why they were so far offline in their original budget that they would bring forward a huge supplementary budget like this. Well, it is obvious that there is no leadership.
But, given all that - given that they weren't accountable and weren't open, that they are muzzling some of their ministers, that they are not allowed to speak in this House - we gave this Liberal government an opportunity to turn things around by supporting the motion that was put forward. That motion would have spelled out clearly that this Liberal government would be open and cooperative and forthcoming in responding to questions from opposition.
What's so bad about that? But it's quite clear that the members opposite would like to spin things around and change it. I would think that the amendment itself really changes the intent of the motion. Given all of the evidence you have heard from this side of the House and what was put forward, it changes the intent. So, really, the amendment to the motion, in my view, is out of order.
Also, Mr. Speaker, I really think that the NDP in government did a really good job of consulting with the public, and they were very clear about the direction they wanted to go in and some of the things they wanted, like the community development fund. So, if it was that clear out there, why is government phasing it out? Why are they not having a fund like this that responds to priorities of groups in the territory - not only them - but municipalities and local and senior governments? What happened to the fireweed fund? Was any work done on the sustainable communities initiatives in Mayo? Why were these things not answered, and why has this Liberal government dropped it?
Well, there are no answers at all - nothing, other than they have a new direction, and they had directions set from the day they were elected.
But Mr. Speaker, when you look at the renewal process that's taking place, I think the government is having a hard time continuing this process, simply because people don't have the interest this Liberal government has in wanting something to get done, particularly many of the departments that are affected.
Speaker: Order please. The member has two minutes to conclude.
Mr. Fairclough: One of the biggest threats that has taken place by this Liberal government is cutting people's jobs. Why would you cut people's jobs at a time when Yukon is in a recession and it's time to build the economy? And it's not a small number, Mr. Speaker, it's a big number, and that's going to hang over the heads of this Liberal government for a long time. And still, they will not back down from that issue and take a second look. It was all about devolution; devolution is delayed, so why can't this government delay the process of renewal?
I believe that the amendments to the motion change the intent of the motion dramatically, and we will not be voting for this amendment.
Mr. McRobb: Well, like my colleagues who preceded me, I am opposed to this amendment. I believe it changes the whole intent of the motion tabled for today's debate. That's another matter, Mr. Speaker. I am aware of arguments put forward in the past, even by this Liberal government when they were in opposition, to the effect that amendments to motions should not change the intent of the motion.
Now, we haven't heard too many arguments about that today but, certainly, it had potential. I remember the Liberals in opposition hammering the government at the time for using its majority to amend motions and change the intent of motions.
What we are seeing today is the Liberals now in government doing the same thing they chastised the government for when they were in opposition.
This is a familiar theme, Mr. Speaker, because I spoke about it at length yesterday and the day prior in my budget speech. I talked about some of the things they have backtracked on and some of the things they have not fulfilled that they promised people they would do if in government. They are doing themselves the very things that they criticized the previous NDP government for doing.
One of them is the public consultation process surrounding the budget. The Liberals like to champion that particular issue. They like to hold themselves up as the champions of public consultation, saying they know how to do it right. Well, Mr. Speaker, just compare what's happening - or, perhaps better worded, what's not happening - to the process used by the previous government, and you'll see that this Liberal government is not living up to what it said it would do. It's not fulfilling its campaign promises, and it's certainly not doing things better. In fact, it's doing things worse.
Yesterday, I referred to many of the items that were brought forward at the consultation meeting in Haines Junction. This afternoon I managed to look at some of my notes from that very meeting, and I compared them with items in the budget for Haines Junction, and there is a gross ignorance of the suggestions that came forward. So how can you trust a government like this, which changes the intents of motions and goes on to say one thing when really they're doing another?
It is quite legitimate to expect Yukoners to be quite suspicious, suspicious of this government and unwilling to believe what this government tells the people.
Now, comments from the Member for Lake Laberge to the effect of accusing the opposition of playing politics, well, what about this Liberal caucus press release on October 15, 2001, Mr. Speaker? And I highlight the date because the date on the press release was wrong. It was dated November 15, 2001, another mistake by this Liberal Party.
Mr. Speaker, the government House leader in this press release rails on in his attack of the opposition parties and says he had information that they were planning a filibuster, yet he provides no evidence to back up his allegation. Instead, he challenges the opposition parties to prove it. Well, Mr. Speaker, what kind of a position is that? Is that a responsible position? Is that a position one would expect from a responsible government, from a responsible government House leader, to make an allegation against both opposition parties and then demand they prove him wrong when everything was based on rumour to begin with? And he admitted that himself. The member laughs.
Mr. Speaker, here's a quote from the CBC news, October 17. It says, "McLachlan's heading into the fall sitting in the Legislature accusing opposition parties are planning to block budget and legislative debate. He says the rumours come from credible sources." Mr. Speaker, he admits the very basis for this Liberal press release was rumour.
Shame on them. How many times have we heard - I believe it was the Health minister who stood up to wail away about rumour. Well, it sounds familiar to me. I know it has happened on more than one occasion, so what happens now? The government House leader fires out the door this press release based on rumour and filled full of political messages - completely unfounded - attacking the opposition parties, yet challenging them to provide evidence that he is wrong. He is demanding that we produce evidence that there wasn't a rumour. Well, this is down right ridiculous. It is not starting this legislative sitting off on the right foot.
You know, these Liberals promised to improve the decorum of this Legislature. What an absolute failure this has been so far - what a farce. To antagonize the opposition parties, to throw out a political spin to the public on various aspects of this sitting, all based on rumour, is purely not responsible government and they ought to be ashamed. You know, some of these messages in this Liberal press release have accused us of planning a filibuster when our House leaders had not even met to discuss the fall sitting. They claim that our attitudes are anti-business. Well, nothing could be further from the truth.
It was our previous government who invented pro-business programs like the trade and investment fund, the small business tax credit, various trade missions - lots of business incentives. I recall from a few budgets ago that there were 50 economic incentives or programs in that budget. The following year there were even more.
What's coming out of this Liberal government is less. There are no new economic initiatives, and existing programs, if they haven't been cancelled, are being reduced. There are people within the Department of Economic Development who are wondering where the direction from this government is coming from. They are sitting in the corner not knowing what to do. These are people who previously worked on important initiatives working toward the economic diversification of our territory. What did the Liberals do? They changed the course. The single focus: everything on the pipeline, all the economic eggs are in the pipeline basket. It looks like the handle is coming off the basket now. What are we going to do?
They cancelled these ports options for the properties in both Skagway and Haines - what have they done to remedy that? Well, we see an MOU with the Mayor of Skagway. Well, how is that going to resolve the damage they have done, Mr. Speaker? The answer is clearly that it won't. It's all window dressing. It's political spin trying to create a public perception that this government is actually doing something.
Well, Mr. Speaker, some of us can see through that.
The Member for Lake Laberge went on to dictate that questions from the opposition party should be either related to public policy or financial matters - otherwise we are just wasting time.
Mr. Speaker, what about all of the ridiculous questions asked by the Liberals in opposition? I do remember some of them, unfortunately. Like the Member for Riverdale South asking the previous Health minister about the colour of Jell-O at the Whitehorse General Hospital. Mr. Speaker, I could not believe it. Then the conversation really sunk to talking about flush toilets. Mr. Speaker, is that a matter of public policy or finance of the Yukon territorial government, as phrased by the Member for Lake Laberge? Absolutely not. It's another example of how these Liberals said one thing in opposition and are doing even worse, when they have the opportunity to do things better - shame on them.
Now, Mr. Speaker, the issue of closure has been raised today and on previous occasions by both the Yukon Party and the official opposition. I am also aware of what happens in SCREP, the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges, because I am a member. What some members of the public may not be aware of is that this reduction in sitting days the Liberals are proposing is not quite what it appears to be on the surface. You know, 60 days versus 50 days - some people might say that's not a whole lot of difference. But Mr. Speaker, when you look at the amount of real days to do real work, it represents a 30-percent reduction in time.
How can that be, Mr. Speaker? How can 10 off of 60 be 30 percent? I will explain it. When you take off the number of days for motion days - they are one a week - that comes to about 15 days. There are another 10 days for budget speeches and budget speech replies. You figure out one day a year for the throne speech and throne speech replies - we have had two of them already in a year and a half - plus other procedural matters. It's easily 25 days off that 60 days, which leaves 35 real days to do the work on the legislation, the budgets and so on. So to subtract 10 days off that, we're looking at a 30-percent reduction in real work time. Mr. Speaker, I submit that would have a drastic effect on our ability to hold this government accountable - a drastic effect.
Going into the departments, reviewing the departments in Committee of the Whole, we know that ministers like to start off with a little address to the Committee, Mr. Speaker. If you subtract that off, this further time reduction would severely impair the time we would have available in each department.
And that's unfair. That's another sign this government does not want to be held accountable, which goes back again to what the Member for Lake Laberge said, that if questions don't relate to finances or public policy then we're wasting time. That was absolutely wrong, Mr. Speaker, because our job is to hold them accountable, and if we ask questions on conduct of members or any matters like that, it is all within the envelope we have in order to operate, to do our jobs, to hold this government accountable.
Mr. Speaker, I'm going to leave time for my colleague here from Ross River to speak, and I'm going to leave it at that. Thank you.
Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Speaker, I'll speak to the amendment to the motion. If you look at the amendment, and it says that this House urges all members to conduct themselves in an open, cooperative and forthcoming manner at all times in this Assembly, probably just a couple hours ago I could have supported that - until, Mr. Speaker, I heard the Member for Faro get up. And in such elegant ways of standing and moving his hand around and looking at the stars and the window and looking deep into his soul and casting aspersions us, saying that he doesn't trust us. It's a thinly disguised veil that the Member for Faro had said that the opposition had put forth.
Let me say that the opposition had many thoughts about that. We put forth an olive branch, which was quickly chopped into kindling or toothpicks by the Member for Faro - yes, but we did put forth that olive branch to say that we wished to do this. Now we say it's something else from him, sorry for pointing. But, today is a classic example. I asked in an open, cooperative and very forthcoming manner a question of the Health minister. Well, again the Health minister said he didn't know what he was speaking about. I clarified, because I try to be direct in my questions now. I try to be humble in my questions. Yet the question was absolutely missed by the minister and he went into "Well, I speak from quotes."
Well, if we are going to be open and accountable, it doesn't just mean in this House - it means out of this House. When we are speaking to media and we don't want to be embarrassed if we say something, well then just say it at that point in time. Don't deny it after the fact, as the Health minister has been known to do almost everyday, saying that I do not give the full quote. I have given quotes in the Yukon News and the Whitehorse Star, from the CBC, from the CHON FM, and they are quotes in their entirety.
For me to get beat up, just as a humble messenger, to get thumped by the all-powerful Health minister in ways that I don't understand, Mr. Speaker - I don't understand because I am speaking on behalf of the people. I have said, I think, three times already in this House that a government can only be as good as its opposition.
Well, Mr. Speaker, I am trying to be good opposition in asking concrete questions and giving good direction and good advice.
Mr. Speaker, I think that what really, really upsets me as a legislator - as we all are legislators in this room, or the majority of us, pardon me - is that the minister would take the opportunity to deny the Hospital Corporation spokesman's words. And when the Hospital Corporation spokesman came out and said to Minister Sloan - God, I miss him, Mr. Speaker. When Minister Sloan comes out and gives what they want, fights at the Management Board level for a CT scanner - well, I understand that the Minister of Health isn't even on Management Board. So just how far is this fight going on? How far? Do we just come up and say nice things in public and then we step back and go bicycling or whatever we do? And I will try to stick close to the mic to speak into the mic for everybody's benefit, of course. But is that what we do? Mr. Speaker, I was embarrassed for the minister.
If the minister had the chance to say yes - "Yes, I was wrong, and this is how it is, based on this gentleman's facts." I mean, the truth has come out. It has been on the radio. Pardon me for saying the word "truth". Maybe that's an unparliamentary word here. I'm not so sure, after today.
But what I am trying to say is that I want to hunker down. You think that I want to be in this room for 25 days, going back and forth, back and forth? There are many people on that side of the House whom I admire - many people - because I know that they put their names forth, as we have, to represent the people.
Whatever happened to getting it better? I remember a retired school teacher from Porter Creek High School who used to sit up there, and the body language - all sorts of quiverings and quaverings would come out - disgusting. Well, Mr. Speaker, talk about a contribution now - not to change, and positive change, but just getting swept away in the political tidal wave.
Mr. Speaker, I am attempting to change. I'm not saying that I was a choirboy in this House. By golly, I'm not saying that at all, but I have four years of a learning curve and I am attempting to pass it on.
There are people on that side of the House who do have the integrity to be a good social democrat. Some of you do.
Speaker: The time being 6:00 p.m., this House now stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. tomorrow.
Debate on second reading of Bill No. 8 accordingly adjourned
The House adjourned at 6:00 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled October 24, 2001:
Faro Sustainable Development Corporation: letter (dated September 28, 2000) from Trevor Harding, MLA for Faro to Pat Duncan, Minister of Economic Development